When thinking of a movie title for this blog, The Day After Tomorrow seemed a natural fit. The people of our world in the face of disaster and how do they go on?
“I will not give into my thoughts about the ‘Rule of 3s’,” that’s what I’ve been telling myself all morning. After all, I just went through Irma, and now awoke to the horrific news of the shooting at the Vegas concert that I almost went to. Thank GOD, my sister was more interested in seeing Reese Witherspoon in Home Again than Jason Aldean, because on most days I would have pushed for the later. But I didn’t and I’m safe and I’m not going to give into the thoughts that bad things come in threes.
Being up for seven hours already, I find myself wondering what to do. I can’t watch the news anymore, it’s too upsetting to my physical and emotional stability. I don’t feel right conducting business as usual since I’m in Vegas and while I plan to donate blood, I haven’t done it yet, so reaching out about skincare seems uncaring in the face of what is going on.
While it’s certainly not business as usual, I also don’t want to allow myself to get paralyzed because an insane man did something unimaginable! I won’t give up my power to him, so instead, I’m writing to you…
I’m writing to say that I’m grateful for the outpour of love and concern for me, it was humbling beyond words.
I’m writing because it helps me sort through my own feelings.
I’m writing in hopes to offer some words from my experience that may help you through tough times.
So here goes…
I moved to Los Angeles, January 16th 1994 at 4:30pm, 12 hours BEFORE the Northridge Earthquake. While it was scary, I’d never been in an earthquake. In the movies, the buildings fall down, so I figured, this was what an earthquake was and no big deal. Only after did I discover it was a big deal.
But, there was no “pre-warning madness” for the earthquake… Hurricane Irma was a completely different story! There were warnings about her arrival. There were protocols issued by the government. I was told not to evacuate so I was being a good citizen and staying put so as not to add to the chaos that was already crowding our highways and airports (not to mention the gas shortage).
In the back of my mind, I remembered after the Earthquake, which was reported as 6.7, a young man who was staying at the apartment I was crashing at, told us his mother was at Cal State in the seismology department and it was really over an 8 but to report that would mean the insurance companies would go under, and the California economy would be devastated.
So, what if the officials were lying to me now? What if I was convincing my terrified parents to stay in their house with the shutters tight and the bathtubs filled with water, only to discover we’d been lied to? This was the question that tormented me as I pulled in outdoor furniture and filled every glass in the house with water in case we lost power and the water was contaminated. Was I making the decision that would lead to my parent’s death? With friends and my sister begging us to leave, which was near impossible with a big St Bernard, I felt the pressure mounting, and by the time I second-guessed myself and began calling airports and hotels, it was too late. I had sealed our destiny, we were staying.
Add to the bedlam, the news channels, which my parents would not turn off! Maps with bright colored swirls covering my state with warnings of catastrophic devastation and “a Monster” greater than any hurricane to hit our state. An expert from another afar saying that if he had family living in Florida he would make them leave… why is he sharing this now when it was too late for us to leave?!?!?
For days, I let fear get the best of me. My stress had me paralyzed and numb and all I could do was binge watch Billions on Showtime. Even when the wind had cleared, I was so drained by it all it was hard to re-motivate and focus on work and my business.
Then I caught myself and asked, “What would I tell a client to do right now?” I had to find what motivates me. The reality was we were lucky. No real damage, a days worth of manual labor to clean up, which actual raised my endorphins because it simulated exercise, and the vitamin D from the sun after 5 days inside with no shower, felt good. But I needed more. I turned to the training my company provides. It refocused me on my “why” of my business, and got me back on track. I thought of my travel company and all the people who depend on us and lucky to have power, I plugged in and helped who I could.
Cut to this morning:
I awake in my bedroom in Vegas to a slew of texts that all read “Are you okay?!”
At first I was confused, “Where am I?… Vegas, right.. I’m in Vegas.” I looked out the window, the sun was shining… was there an earthquake I slept through? I heard my brother in law in the kitchen and called out to him, “Why are people texting to see if I’m all right?” And that’s when I heard about the horrific event of the night before.
I quickly copied and pasted an answer to all the texts that I was okay, sent a text to my parents who weren’t awake yet, that Julie and I were not at the concert, then jumped on Facebook to let my friends know I was safe. Then I got a call from my best friend and sponsor that I needed to get on Voxer and let the team know I was okay, some hadn’t slept worrying about me. They knew I was in Vegas, and of all people to be at the country concert, it would be me. I got on my Voxer walkie talkie app and with a shaky voice let them know I was okay and thanked them for their concern.
What was with the shaky voice? The shock was wearing off and the realization of how close I could have been to being there if I had pushed my sister a little harder was hitting me. Then a text from my father… “Thank God!!!” My dad is a man of few words but these two words and those three exclamation points made me lose it. I cried. I cried because of all the people who love me and were concerned for my safety. I cried because they were worried. I cried because I imagined there were others from my company who came out early JUST to see this concert and now, I didn’t know if they were okay. I cried because we live in a world where a seemingly unsuspecting 64-year-old man can make a decision that all the security in the world couldn’t have prevented from tragically taking lives, injuring so many, and traumatizing those who experienced it, those who watched from afar, and those who in the future will suffer from social anxieties because of the trauma that helplessness can bring on.
I don’t want to live in a world like that. I won’t live in a world like that! I know there will be more natural disasters and more horrible humans making inconceivable (to us) plans to harm innocent people, BUT I will not live in fear of them! I can’t! I was spared from the devastation of the earthquake and the hurricane and this concert I wanted to attend… I could go further and say I am spared every time I take an airplane or get into my car or get in an elevator that doesn’t plummet 40 floors. We take a risk every time we walk out of the house, but if we all stayed in our houses, they would become targets and THAT would be the risk. SO LIFE IS A RISK… but the love I feel from my friends and family today because I’m safe… THEY ARE WORTH THE RISK. So, while I pray for those who were taken from us last night, and those who are left behind to mourn them, I will do as I was taught growing up- never cancel a celebration for a tragedy. I will attend my convention this week and hug my team tighter than I ever have! And I will love on my sister and brother in law because I’m so blessed to be here with them. Next week I will be in NY and have the opportunity to hug camp friends, college friends and sorority sisters and we will be reminded of friends and family we lost in 911, and WE WILL KEEP GOING AND KEEP LOVING NO MATTER WHAT THIS WORLD THROWS AT US BECAUSE WE HAVE EACH OTHER!!!! THAT IS WHAT LIFE IS… LOVING AND BEING LOVED! SO DON’T WASTE ANOTHER MOMENT… TELL SOMEONE THAT YOU LOVE THEM, SHOW SOMEONE YOU CARE, PERFORM A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS, TAKE A RISK AND PUT YOUR HEART OUT THERE. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE!!!