How to help with Hurricane Sandy {and not sweating the small stuff}

I am safe after the hurricane here in New York.

Others aren’t.

I learned a few things recently about home and belongings. I’ve been frustrated that I sold my current condo, yet haven’t yet found a new place. I am still in my “about to be sold” place because the buyer’s bank is taking forever, which has turned into a good thing for a few more weeks. At the end of the day, it’s all okay. I have places to go until I find a new home: friends who’ve opened their doors here in New York (Thank you, Laurie) and family in Boston where I know I can go anytime. (Thanks Mom, Dad, Jill and everyone else.) I am even invited to Dubai. (Thank you, Nasrin.)

I’ve been wondering when I’ll find a place that’s suitable. Real estate in NYC can be crazy. There was a place I loved but I got outbid. Yes, bidding wars are back apparently, but at this point none of this matters much.

I went over to Breezy Point in Queens the other day.

Wow.

The magnitude of damage and heartache is overpowering. The entire contents of people’s homes were out on the street: refrigerators, washing machines, bikes, toys, cards, books, CDs, beds, bureaus, Halloween and Christmas decorations, walls and floors.

Other people in Breezy and elsewhere didn’t lose homes but have no electricity and live in areas where the electricity at the supermarkets is also out, meaning no food. Others lost their homes to water damage.

Others fared much, much worse. Their entire homes were burnt to the ground.

The devastation, as I’m sure you’ve seen in the media, is unbelievable. The force of water and wind can transform your life in 30 seconds (which is, what I heard, how long it took for water to envelop homes). But you know what I saw as I walked around an area that was devastated by water and fire? I saw people smiling. One guy even said to me, “I’m alive. That’s what matters.” Another guy was with his friend and they spray painted his last name on the foundation of the now burnt down house where he grew up. “My mother found her engagement ring in the rubble,” he told me. “She was so happy she found it.” I’m certain that others aren’t exactly smiling, but it felt hopeful to see glimpses of happiness in people’s eyes as I stood on the black ash of what once were homes.

All that’s left of someone’s home.

Needless to say, I am grateful. I might still be in limbo, but for the moment I have heat, hot water and a stocked refrigerator. I have a healthy daughter who was brave during the hurricane. I have loving friends and family to be there until I find a new place. So I am grateful. I didn’t lose anything. In fact I gained something: a new perspective, one I had already, but this time around it was solidified in me. That box of cookbooks I’d collected that got ruined in a rainstorm. My favorite vase that broke? Who really cares? I am not sweating the small stuff anymore.

I’d like to leave you with these three things.

1.) Don’t sweat the small stuff. There are people who lost their homes and all their belongings. Even my acupuncturist sent an email about how he started enjoying running up and down the 21 flights to his apartment in a building that lost electricity. He regarded it as a Stair Master.

2.) Lower Manhattan has a ton of wonderful restaurants that are hurting for business. If you’re in NYC, skip cooking dinner one night and go out to eat downtown. Many small businesses, including restaurants, lost money due to the hurricane and they’d love to see you. Here is a list of restaurants from The Village Voice.

3.) Many people have found ways to help, but if you still need an idea, here are some ways:

Time Out compiled a great list
Huffington Post has a list of where to donate blood
Get involved with the Food Bank of NYC
Relocated senior citizens need your help in this soup kitchen
FDNY Incidents often posts ways to help on Facebook

What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments below.

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