Almost A Week Since Hurricane Sandy Came To Visit

What a week it’s been here since Hurricane Sandy decided to visit.  A week ago, we were bracing for the incoming storm and hunkering down in our homes (or) evacuating in the mandatory evacuation areas. I lost my power around 8 p.m. on Monday and got it back on Thursday night. I’ve been posting on Facebook as best as I could, partly to pass the time, partly to let others know I was ok, partly because I wanted to journal in some way and social media was the easiest and partly because I wanted to find something – anything – to appreciate through it all. Today I got my cable and internet back up and running, so I thought I’d make a blog post and use this as my Facebook update for the day.

Yesterday I discovered a Staten Island Community Board on Facebook for both victims who need help and for volunteers willing to serve.  There’s a LOT of information there and it truly shows the value of social media in times like these.  I had read they needed clothing, so I spent Saturday gathering up some things around the house but later read online that they didn’t need clothing any longer. There was a post about a restaurant here in Staten Island that had a lot of supplies and needed help transporting it to one of the locations where some of the volunteer teams are stationed.

Since my gas tank is still rather abundant since I last filled it,  I thought I could help out by transporting supplies from the restaurant to the volunteer area. I am blessed with and appreciate a fairly short commute to work, and especially by New York City standards.

As I made my way to the restaurant, I saw runners who had made their way from the Staten Island ferry terminal and were running along the road. They looked to be traveling/running together, but were definitely going at different paces in different groups. Now I’m not sure where they were going, as the shoreline where supplies and volunteers is not straight up on that road, but many looked liked they had supplies with them, by evidence of their plastic bags and also the people accompanying them with backpacks loaded down on their backs. Staten Island has a lot of hills so they were definitely getting a work-out this morning.

When I arrived at the restaurant, I saw that they had a truck there, so I wondered to myself if they still needed people to transport supplies in their cars. As I quickly learned and probably should have anticipated, yesterday’s social media “news” is already “old,” and they had delivered everything yesterday when the post was made. But they now have a truck, so I didn’t need to spend my gasoline by delivering anything else.  So I decided to go to the nearby CVS store and pick up some bleach and baby wipes: supplies I knew were on “today’s” list. I imagine they will be on many “tomorrow” lists, too, as the clean-up will take a long time.

As I entered the store, there was a group of National Guardsmen sitting on the cement wall outside so I thanked them for their service on my way in.

With the bleach and baby wipes in tow, I made my way back to the restaurant where friendly young volunteers helped me load it into the back of the truck.  It was there I learned they planned to make these runs all week – and for as long as is needed.

We began to talk about how people outside of Staten Island could help, as I’ve been asked that question from friends outside of New York and also through my posts on Twitter.  One of the women there was having supplies sent to her from friends and family in other places and she is personally delivering everything when they arrive later this week. Both the NY1 channel (a local cable news station) and the community are saying the best way for individuals outside of NYC to help is with cash donations. They mentioned that for companies, supplies are better.

The next question is, to what organization or which way is best? I personally feel that people should follow what feels good for them.  Giving is an act from the heart, so I believe that following your heart is the best way to determine how to give your love and your loving funds.  With that said, I was asked by someone on Twitter in the #SpiritChat community to come back to Twitter and give my two cents about the best way to help.

The discussion here seems to be of two mindsets.  There are many who don’t want to pay the overhead of the Red Cross and want to contribute funds so that the maximum amount reaches the widest possible recipients.  The Community Board initiative has recommended the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.  Please be sure to specify T2T for Hurricane Sandy Relief, if donating. I had heard about the foundation from the Tunnel2Tower runs and more recently, on a local CBS news report where the man was saying that the funds go directly to those in need – and quickly.  In addition, a friend also reported that the foundation was mentioned in a CNN report.

The other way being mentioned is to hand deliver cash or cash cards (American Express, Visa or Mastercard) to the victims themselves, giving them the power to decide how best the money is used. Unless a person knows someone in the area who can deliver it, this method requires that people put their trust in someone to collect the cards and deliver them.  If anyone who knows me wants to do this, please contact me at: barbara@spiritedstrides.com and I will let you know where to mail the cards, which I promise to deliver to the people who have organized the Community Board volunteer efforts.

On a final note for today, it was a very sunny day. It was quite beautiful, but cold. The sun was shining during the day, but the cold could be felt to your bones, especially if you don’t have heat in your home.
Normally, temperatures in the 30’s are not that bad, but without power and heat, it can feel frigid.  There are still many people without power and heat and the forecast is calling for a possible Nor ‘Easter on Wednesday.  And while today there were “warming centers” open during the day by the city, I keep hearing reports that some people are afraid to leave their homes for fear of losing their possessions to looters.
And with that thought, I’m reminded that possessions can be replaced, but human life is precious. And animal life is precious, too.  I can appreciate all the people and pets that survived, the efforts of the people in this community in responding to this force of Mother Nature, the people from outside of NYC who are here serving lovingly, the government (made for and by the people) who are providing much needed services, and I’m definitely counting my blessings from this week that Sandy visited. May God bless each and every one of us in remembering that it’s the human touch that warms our hearts, that pets are also part of our families and it’s the relationships that truly matter in life. No amount of “goods” can replace the joy of members of our family: our human and/or pet family. 

19,106 EMAILS!

Have you taken a look at your email inbox lately? I have! Yesterday I had 19,106 emails in my GMail account and by the end of the day, I had reduced it to 11,664. While that number left may seem high, I am so excited and relieved to know that I cleared out 7,442 emails, all in one day! It feels really good to clear out a big chunk of that “virtual clutter,” and now I’ve learned some useful tools to continue to clear away the rest.

What does clearing out emails have to do with spirituality and why am I writing about it here on my blog? Isn’t it just an example that I’m disorganized?

A lot has been written about clutter and “getting organized.” There are professional organizers who assist people in clearing and organizing their “stuff.” There are shows on television that help people “get organized.” (The hoarder shows are dealing with deep, psychological issues, so I’m not including them in this list.)  If you look around, you will find many articles and magazines usually giving space to “getting organized” or “decluttering.” So it’s clearly a topic that most can relate to.

Yet when we buy into the idea that we are disorganized and need to “get organized,” we run the risk of not loving ourselves.  There is nothing wrong with becoming more organized, but too often I’ve heard people criticize themselves over their lack of “organization” of their physical clutter. So there’s often a lot of self-hatred going on associated with clutter and the notion that we are “less than perfect” when we don’t know how to “organize” it. So if you’re feeling a sense of “I’m not good enough” (or) “There must be something wrong with me” associated with your need for “organization,” that’s a clue to be easy on yourself and more loving.

So I decided to share my journey with clearing my inbox publicly so that others can see that they are not alone: that there is nothing wrong with them that needs to be “fixed,” and that the clearing process is really an act of self-love. Once you start to feel that shift toward doing this as a way to honor and love yourself,  you can more easily shift and accept tips from “organizers,” too.

One can be “organized” and still have “clutter” in their lives. What physically appears “organized” may actually be draining your energy if you no longer love it, for example. Clutter is not always about our physical “stuff,” either. Clutter can show up in our relationships, our minds, our bodies, in our energy and in our inboxes! I’ve been learning a lot from Sue Rasmussen, a life coach whose motto is “Making Room for What Matters.” As part of her “Clearing Out Day” for July (which is part of a larger 12-month program called Streamline Your Success), we focused on virtual clutter. I chose to work on my Gmail account.

It was my first Clear Out Day, so I was excited. I actually had organized many of my emails into folders and could easily find the topic and the email threads I was searching. Did I have time to read all that came into my email box? – No! Had I spent a lot of time lately not bothering to read most of what came into my email box? -Yes! So these were signs to me that my Gmail account was no longer serving me, I no longer loved it and the entire thing felt “heavy” and “overwhelming” to me, so I knew it was time to clear it out.

While I go to my Gmail account often and knew I had a lot in there, I didn’t realize how “cluttered” it really was until I did this exercise. I felt a bit embarrassed to see 19,106 emails in there (and I wasn’t even using the “archive” function!), but I quickly got over that, because I’m doing this for me: to make room for more joy in my life, to rid myself of background clutter that doesn’t serve me anymore, to clear the energy so that I can allow more love and joy in. In essence, it is part of my personal development journey-part of my journey as The Spirited Strider and totally related to loving myself. In clearing clutter, I can more easily be me.

Since I had so many emails, I decided to go with Sue’s “fast pass method” which is a quick scanning of items and quickly making decisions about them. I wanted to feel better fast, so this worked for me. (I have become quite good at this lately, as I recently cleared out my mother’s storage unit and had limited time to do so.) For the items that I couldn’t make a quick decision about, I utilized Sue’s filing system to label them to peruse later. I quickly realized that I was subscribed to way too many ezines and newsletters so I began by labeling them into a folder that I returned to at the end of the day. At the end of the day, I had 53 items in that folder, and went back to “unsubscribe” to 34 of them already. So that folder is now down to 19 items that I will make decisions on over the course of this week.

Deciding to unsubscribe from newsletters is not always an easy task. I have connections with many of the people, but honestly, I had way too much clutter to actually read their work! So I made a decision to only keep a few: those that I always read at this current time. I attracted Sue and her “Streamline Your Success” program into my life and her newsletter is one I’m keeping! While many of other newsletters I used to read, I had way too many to read them all now. I can always go back and change my mind again. I am of the mindset that if it is beneficial to me, it will come back to me and if I’m inspired again to subscribe to it, I will. Besides, by that time, I may find that my list of “newsletters that I always read” may change. But now I have the tools I need to feel good about my inbox and clear it more regularly so that it doesn’t pile up like it had these past few years.

What was really revealing for me was the amount of emails I had from forums at my favorite online places to hang out: GoodVibeUniversity and Facebook. Most of those emails were notifications from forum threads I had “subscribed” to or from Facebook email notification settings.  I had long ago changed my Facebook settings and this past week or so, I changed the GoodVibeUniversity forum thread subscriptions. What I had NOT done was to go back and delete all those emails, however. Thus, there were many, many emails in there that were easily cleared.

I discovered the easiest way to find these emails was to do two searches using “notification” and “notifications” in the “Search Email” tab on GMail. Hundreds and yes, thousands of emails appeared when I did that! You can quickly scan to be sure there isn’t something you want to keep (as other notifications may appear there that you want to keep), but it was very fast and easy to clear when I realized it half-way through my Clearing Day.

When we clear the clutter around us and within, one can feel the energetic shift. While I felt a bit in shock at the initial site of 19,106  emails, I quickly shifted that to excitement that I was going to feel a whole lot better after this exercise–and feel better I did! I felt like a weight had been lifted and I felt quite inspired to share with others. This process is empowering!

I also found that I was really tired at the end of the day: not only because I was at the computer doing repetitive work, but also because I had cleared a lot of clutter energy that had been weighing me down.  I had made some decisions to rid myself of virtual clutter that I previously I had no time for, yet had been very aware that it was there. So listening to my feelings about my inbox let me know that I needed to feel better about it by clearing some of that clutter out. In essence, that feeling of “I have to get around to reading that” was gone and that was a huge relief and I’m feeling excited to clearing more.

Abraham-Hicks knows the power of reaching for a feeling of relief to feel better. When we reach for a feeling of relief, we are moving up the emotional scale and raising our vibration.  That’s exactly how this process felt to me: each round of Clear Out Day felt like moving up the scale toward more relief, more relief, more relief…and then feeling really good about the day in general.

When we feel better, we attract more things and people that make us feel better.  So while I have 11,664 emails to go, I’m feeling great about 7,442 that are gone and from what I’ve learned from this process. I now have the tools to work on the 11,664 that remain and can’t wait to make room for more excitement and joy in my life!

Please feel free to share your own insights, comments and suggestions for others on this common type of clutter or how you regularly reach for a feeling of relief!

Uplifting Oneself


As I enter Day 7 of the Week of Positive Blogging, I am asked to write about what effect the week’s experience had on me. As I started the week in a very hurtful state due to a relationship issue I am having, I knew intellectually that this experience would be good for me, so that I wouldn’t sit around and be depressed the majority of the time.

If you read my purpose on my blog and website, I talk about how I want to teach and inspire others, uplifting them through love. While I know deep down that by doing so, I uplift myself, I don’t specifically mention it in my purpose statement. So I think it’s time I did.

The week’s experience (and blogging toward my purpose in general) does have the added benefit that I get uplifted by doing it. Although I do not write expecting feedback, I am touched when I hear or read that someone was touched by my writings. That happened to me several times this week and reinforced in my gut that I know I need to keep writing and continue on this journey.

The experience also introduced me to other people within the community (and the people that commented on their blogs). The comments that people make and the writing within the community was tremendously uplifting for my soul. I thank everyone, as I was encouraged and hopeful by reading their blogs, as well as other people’s comments. You all helped to uplift my spirit, in a time when my emotional state of being was sometimes in the gutter!

What had a profound effect were the few comments that people emailed me, told me about or wrote on my blog during this week. I am touched beyond words and know that, in times when we are hurting, we have a choice about how we react. We can hide away like a hermit and drown ourselves in our sorrows, remain neutral, in a state of purposeful waiting, or choose to look at the positive side of things. I have to admit that I did all three this week! Sometimes this week I have cried because I am sad, other times I just sat back and “observed” what was happening, with no anxious expectation of the end result in mind, but most of the time, I have been powerfully uplifted by the other blogger’s entries, which gave me hope.

So on my account in Facebook, I set my mood this week as “hopeful.” Not only am I hopeful that my relationship issue will work itself out, but I am also hopeful that things will get better in our world. The community of bloggers and the upcoming BlogCatalog’s “Bloggers Unite” day about Acts of Kindness on December 17th are just a few examples of what gives me hope.

Thank you, Ehav Ever, for the idea and for organizing this effort. It was my pleasure to be a part of it and I am grateful for all of the uplifting!