1. I Developed Depression & Anxiety
At 3am I sat on the toilet holding onto the tissue holder. It was hard to breath. In that moment I had no way of knowing that flood waters were engulfing our home. It was only days since Christmas and the children’s toys would be ruined. In hindsight my episode was probably a panic attack. Soon I snapped into shock and survival mode. With the help of facebook I gathered a small army to help my husband clean up. Survival mode lasted a week then the anxiety kicked in followed closely by depression. I was at my wit’s end with a 2.5 month old baby and 15 month old twins in a small apartment at the top of a cliff over an hour from our unliveable home. I had less help than ever. The depression deepened as the disappointments endured.
2. Our Schedule Was Abandoned
With 3 babies under 18 months organisation was essential. Our twins schedule was highly regimented and worked well even with the arrival of William 15 months after the twins’ birth. The nesting phase of pregnancy meant I had fortuitously filled a freezer with 3 months worth of meals. All our shelves were all neatly labelled. So one day we had the perfectly organised home and the next day it was all gone along with the schedule. The new reality was complete chaos.
3. My Spending Habits Changed Drastically
Getting to shops with 2 babies always seemed impossible so I bought in bulk. The day after the flood I stood in the supermarket looking at laundry detergent and burst into tears. Our laundry was stocked with at least 4 boxes of washing powder and several more tubs of Nappy bleach, stain remover and Vanish for colors – at least $200 worth of detergent destroyed. Not to mention boxes of nappies and everything else. I may go back to buying in bulk again to save time and money but I’m not quite there yet.
For a long time I did not want any wooden furniture in the house – only plastic. I’ve recently bought second hand wooden furniture. Never new. Prior to the flood I would spend my spare time cruising the mall. When the flood hit we felt poor. The disappointments kept on coming. After making my husband wait for an hour the insurance assessor greeted him with “I hope you don’t think you’re getting any insurance on this”. We rebuilt our home and replaced our possessions. I’ve hardly visited the mall since.
4. Things Don’t Make Us Happy
My favourite wedding gift was a glass bowl which had been salvaged and cleaned by my mother. I was excited about its return and incredibly deflated when I saw the big chip in its rim. The only notable possession my husband had left was his car. Soon after the flood while we were still displaced someone drove straight into the front of it. Things don’t make me happy since with the blink of an eye they can be broken, stolen or destroyed.
5. I Try Not to Assume
During the ordeal I visited an Opportunity Shop where I hoped to find a basket to sort bibs, dribble cloths, and nappies. I found one and asked the volunteer how much it was. “That’s not for sale – it’s for display” the woman said before turning on her heel. That charitable bitch wiped out any hope I might have been clinging to.
6. I Got Humble
As a fiercely independent person this was the first time I really needed help. Sometimes I felt like a beggar and other times people just wouldn’t help. There didn’t seem to be an in between. I recall phoning the curtain company. The woman who answered said “We’re not assisting charities”. I was her paying customer calling about the blinds we paid for! Then there was the house call doctor I called in. He looked at the magnificent view and couldn’t understand why I had called him. He refused to assist.
7. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
A day before the flood I recall crying because my husband put something in the sink which I used solely to clean the baby bottles. Circa 1999 when I lived in Sydney a friend of mine gave me the little book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson. To be honest I was so highly strung I found just the fact that my friend had given me such a book irritating. Post flood I can honestly embrace the “don’t sweat the small stuff” philosophy.
8. I Love Reading
If there was one gift that came out of the flood it is this. I built a huge library of life enriching books. It all started the day after the flood as I had $5 in my pocket. I went to the local opportunity shop and bought toddler picture books. This habit grew and I ended up buying more books than I will ever read. See my article “Bargain Books: A Cheapskate’s Guide to Growing a Rich Library”. Reading has enriched my life beyond measure.
9. I Got Bolder
Since the flood and my personal growth journey I take advantage of opportunities that before I probably wouldn’t have had the courage or inclination to take. Just this last year:
– I emailed Arianna Huffington and she accepted me as a contributor to Huffington Post. Now I’m a writer!
– I was the one in 2000 conference delegates to approach Lachlan Murdoch and get a photo with him.
– I’ve been on talk back radio.
– I was featured on the cover of a trade journal.
10. I had a Spiritual Awakening
The year post flood I was cocooned like a prisoner in my home due to limited funds and 3 tots. This wasn’t so different from before the flood except that before the flood I aimlessly squandered my time in the shopping mall. After the flood I gardened, read and listened to podcasts. This seemed to open up my world.
In December 2011 – 11 months after the flood, Tony Lee Williams, a much loved, handsome and talented Gold Coast nightclub singer from the group “Sex & Chocolate” was savagely murdered. The group played at our wedding and I knew Tony to be a gentle, happy go lucky guy whose performances brought joy to thousands. I was deeply saddened for his loved ones as this was such a shocking, unjust and tragic waste of life. Several months later the playful spirit of Tony visited me. This intrigued me as I was not close to him. Why did he visit me? Did he visit others? Was I the only one who noticed? How was his spirit so perceptible? 5 years after his unfortunate passing I finally discovered in “Mystic’s Musings” by Sadhguru that those whose lives are been cut short like this may have a vibrant pranic body and this vibrancy makes their energy easy to sense. I hope he has found peace.
11. I Meditate
Meditation helped with my anxiety and benefits me in countless ways.
Paradoxically, the flood was by far the most challenging yet one of the greatest blessings of my life. Although the flood took its toll emotionally and financially my life is so much richer for it.
The result can be likened to a slingshot that violently dragged me backwards against my will out of my sleepy comfortable coma-like existence and then catapulted me towards something much greater. I woke up.
Have you ever received a badly wrapped gift? I’d love to hear from you.