my fire that changed everything

Yesterday I had my monthly membership call, and what better topic for March’s theme than resilience.

March marks a full year since life as we knew it changed for so many. And forever.

Instead of focusing on the hardships we may have faced in this unprecedented year, each person shared instead their silver linings. 

What are yours?

What are the gifts you received from more time at home sheltering in place?

What are the skills you learned or qualities you discovered about yourself?

Did you enjoy getting to know your kids’ minds more deeply? Did you bond with friends differently?

One of my most powerful and long-lasting silver linings happened 30 years ago when I had a fire and lost everything.

At 18 years old, I moved into my college dorm room, and as my family drove away, I was excited to start a new chapter of my life and embrace a newfound independence.

Yet one week later, I was exploring in Boston with friends I barely knew and came home to fire trucks and sirens.

My dorm room had burned down.

There had been an electrical explosion in my closet and so the fire started right there, while my roommate and I were out, and in minutes, we lost everything.

I wanted to curl up into a ball and go home. I barely knew anyone and I had wanted to travel in Europe anyway. This was my sign. I was out.

But I stayed, and I bought clothes from the college bookstore. And thanks to the encouragement of my family, I got up the next day and went to class. And then the next one. And then the next one.

I began to find the deepest well of empathy in my new friends which brought us closer, faster.

And I learned the hard lesson that stuff is just STUFF. 

Everything is replaceable…except our life.

I tell this to my kids when I drop my phone and it cracks (yes I am klutzy). I can’t remember ever getting upset when they spill something or break a glass. I don’t see material things the same way and I credit the fire to that perspective I gained, a perspective that keeps me from clinging to things that don’t last or don’t deserve my full attention.

This is my gift in the madness.

The silver lining.

There is ALWAYS a silver lining.

What’s yours?

With fierce love,
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