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Leaning Into Trust & Presence

Chasing Hurricane Dorian

Trusting in a higher power and master plan can be challenging. It’s easy to get caught up in our fears of the future and believe we’re in danger, especially with all the fear-based messages that surround us on social, in the media and in conversations.

The antidote to fear is presence and faith. I recently had an opportunity to test them both.

When news broke about Hurricane Dorian tracking toward southern Florida, my husband and I had a decision to make. Keep our vacation plans to visit Florida and N. Carolina or find another destination. The night before our flight to Miami, we watched the news reporting that Dorian’s estimated path would head straight for us. Dorian was increasing in destructive power and slowing down speed for maximum damage.

Yet, we each had a knowing calmness about us. In my body, I felt continuing as we’d planned was the right decision. In my mind, I second-guessed myself, “Am I naïve or just plain crazy?”

We made a deal, we would go and stay present and mindful. We would adjust as circumstances unfolded because the reality was that it was too soon to know anything for certain. Hurricanes are unpredictable.

We hatched a couple backup plans. We could head west to Naples, where his aunt has a vacation condo. We could take our rental car up to N. Carolina, where we had already intended to spend the second half of our trip. Or we could find another hotel further into Miami and wait it out. That’s it, we didn’t need more scenarios than that otherwise our minds would control all our time.

During our layover in Houston, we listened to the conversations of passengers on our flight. We seemed to be the only non-residents. Folks were heading home to board up and then evacuate their families.

“The hotel would tell us if they were closed, right?” I half joked with my husband.

Once we arrived in South Beach, the streets were eerily empty for a Labor Day weekend. We still had three days before Dorian was projected to arrive. There was no sense in ruining the short time we had by worrying about something that wasn’t present, out of our control and still so unpredictable.

Therefore, we made the most out of it by visiting all the spots we had picked out such as Wynwood’s street art, the Bayside Marketplace, and Little Havana. When NOAA gave its updates every three hours, we tuned in. Otherwise, we simply enjoyed the activities without the crowds.

On our last full day, Dorian was tracking farther north and Miami looked to be out of the cone. We headed to the Everglades for an airboat ride to see alligators. The state mandated closure at 1 p.m. and we arrived just in time to board the last boat out.

The farther north Dorian moved, the more comfortable we felt about continuing on to Key West, where we originally intended to spend another three days. However, now the concern became that Dorian’s eye would hit landfall in the U.S. in Wilmington, N. Carolina. We had a flight there on Wednesday evening and Dorian was estimated to arrive late Thursday through Friday.

Again, it was too soon to call anything for sure. So we drove to Key West and enjoyed a wonderful time exploring the beaches, shops and sites. We appreciated a few days of rain and few tourists. The result was gorgeous sunsets and the ability to visit the Southernmost Point of the Continental U.S. without any competition for parking or photo opportunities. (I’m told this is extremely rare.)

Leaving the Keys, my husband’s friend, Chris, called us from Wilmington.

“Are you sure you still want to visit?” Chris asked. “Dorian will be a category 3 and we may be without power and water for days. Plus with flooding, you may not be able to get out of town to fly home.”

My husband and I considered his concerns. I tested my body compass and it told me we should go.

Chris met us at baggage claim with a sign that read “Storm Chasers.” The airport closed two hours later. We were one of the last flights in. Still, I felt calm about it.

Over the next two days, we had a glorious time playing board games, eating “hurricane food” (ie: chips, dips, and other junk food), and listening to the howl of the wind and pounding of rain and thunder. As Dorian neared, it dropped to a category 2 and by the time it arrived in Wilmington, it was a category 1.

The morning after the storm, the weather was spectacular. We went to the beach, where I learned a locals’ contact sport called Sea-Shelling. I joke, but it is some serious business out there vying for the best shells that wash up after a storm. The beach was bustling with folks collecting giant whelk and conch shells, of which we gathered a few to bring home.

It was a beautiful trip that could have gone quite differently if we’d let fear rule our minds. If we lived in fear the full twelve days, we wouldn’t have enjoyed ourselves the way we did. Instead, we chose to lean into the present moment and trust that everything is as it’s intended. The result was having an absolute blast. And we were always perfectly safe.

We do ourselves more harm in fearing the worst than the worst could ever actually do to us. If you find yourself fearing something, I invite you to get still and ask yourself: “Right now, in this exact moment, am I safe?”

If the answer is yes, breathe into that.

Right now is the only time that exists. Everything else is manufactured in our minds.

In the words of Yogi Amrit Desai, “Exist in perpetual creative response to whatever is present.”

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