There is More Inside You Than You Think

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November has always been one of my favorite months to write about. Thoughts of family and friends all gathering around the table for a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings. The official kick-off to the holiday season of shopping and decorating. It is also a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives and a prayer to help those less fortunate and in need.

This year, as I reflect on what so many of our fellow Floridians went through, my feelings of thankfulness and gratitude, and the prayer I might say at the dinner table, has changed a bit. I am thankful for the electric company, the police department, the medical facilities, the fire department and everyday heroes. I am thankful for electricity, drinking water, hot meals, clean clothes, a hot shower, caring neighbors and good friends.

I am thankful for Facebook and everyone from all over the country giving us words of encouragement or updates on the news when we lost power. I am most thankful for the kind, compassionate people in this country that put their own lives on hold and did what they could to help others in need, not only in Florida but in Texas, Puerto Rico, Barbuda, Saint Maarten and so many other islands.

As insane and devastating as it may seem at times, my hope and faith in the kindness of others remains strong in my heart. Acts of heroism in this world may be overlooked when times get scary, but these people do exist. These people are our friends, family, neighbors, strangers and even the person reading this column. The world is full of good people.

As I write this story, a huge part of this country is still suffering a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary or dangerous event. As we all gathered around our televisions, we watched, in fear, as a Category 5 hurricane put our entire state in her path. As the storm grew closer, we were set in panic mode of all the “what ifs.”

What if it hits us dead on? What if we lose our home or business? What if we lose family or friends? What are our most treasured possessions and paperwork that we need to locate and pack in our cars immediately? What if there is no gas? Food? Water? If we leave, will there be anything to come back to?

This is a lot of stress to put on anyone without it affecting them mentally, physically and emotionally.

Then, when the storm has passed and the damage is done, if we were left with little to no damage, then we may go through an emotion called “Survivor’s Guilt.” You are happy and relieved that you and your loved ones and property are okay, but you feel so bad for those who weren’t as lucky as you. These mental, and emotional, feelings can linger for months. Physically, you may feel tired, drained, depressed and in a bit of a brain fog.

I have lived through 30-plus years of hurricanes in Florida. No matter how many hurricanes you go through, the fears are still the same. The fears are real.

This was the second big hurricane since I lost my parents. I did draw some comfort from remembering the hurricane drills my dad would put into action. That man loved weather excitement and preparation. For years it would go like this…

My parents would go to the grocery store and stock up on survival items. They would meet up at the checkout counter and always have a tense disagreement on the proper way to survive. My dad would buy water, every D battery he could find and every single can of Spam canned meat. My mom would buy wine, champagne, crackers and pate. No one in our family ever liked Spam. Ever.

I have inherited my mom’s survival skills. I must admit that while buying our hurricane groceries I stood in the canned meat aisle, which was still full of Spam (because obviously no one likes Spam) smiled and thought of my dad. Then I got a little paranoid thinking maybe he was watching over me and I failed his survival test. I totally passed my mom’s.

I know we all act differently under stress. As the hurricane was approaching, my husband cleaned the attic. I watched Christmas movies on Netflix until we lost power. Whatever gets you through the crisis. Just be kind and considerate to one another in the process. We are all in this together.

If you had told me in September that my husband and I would fly to Chicago and babysit our two grandsons for a week, fly home straight into hurricane preparations and then move out of our water-damaged home, all in a 17-day period, I think I would have said no way. Then again, there is more inside of us than we think. So, on to a new adventure!

This Thanksgiving, when you are giving thanks for all the blessings in your own life, look around to see if someone else could use an outstretched hand. Perhaps you could become the blessing in their life. Good will always win. Love will always win. Never stop believing that.

Karin Jenkins is a Licensed Esthetician, Makeup Artist, and the author of the book, “Pageant Land and the Family Who Lived There.”

She has been involved in all aspects of the beauty industry and in show business for over 30 years. Karin is the mother of two and the grandmother of two.

She and her husband David co-own the local family business – Applause Salon in New Smyrna Beach – (386) 426-5454.

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