Finding Joy in Having Nothing

I have been away playing with the dolphins in Bimini with a great group of people in our retreat!  In the moment, I was very aware of how lucky I was to have this opportunity (and to just miss the hurricane that plowed through Florida right after I left the area).  Being grateful in the moment really enhanced the experience for me and I returned in better health thanks to the dolphins and F.U.N. (our Fundamental Universal Need)! 

Shortly after the retreat, my friend and co-facilitator went home and was caught up in the disaster in Fort Myers.  She barely escaped with her life even though she had moved to a supposedly safe house.  She was left with nothing but the wet, dirty clothes on her back, her two cats in their carrier that spent the night floating on a refrigerator, and by chance, her cell phone. 

She thought she’d be able to go back to her apartment on the 2nd floor of her building and salvage some things but when she went back, the apartment building was gone…nothing but sand left.  The timelapse footage I saw of one area made me wonder how anything was still standing after the storm finally left.  Most of the damage was ‘just’ storm surge from the ocean—not even just flooding from rain.  Her apartment was in a multi-story building, but like many others, everything was washed away.  She had nothing…not one thing left. 

My friend realized what the truly important things were (her cats and her life) and she kept perspective during the event by remembering the people on the Titanic.  She figured if they could live through that night in that level of cold, she could live through being cold and wet and floating on a pool floaty and pool table.  However, she did in fact, lose every possession she had worked for and that brought her creature comforts. 

This was a moment of choice in a life.  Could you see losing everything, all possessions, all comforts, all the things you thought were important as a gift?  What would happen to your experience of a disaster if you saw this as an opportunity?  Could you feel a freedom in just walking away and letting go?  In a moment of extremes, what would you use to keep perspective?  What would ground you in the moment of what is still possible?

After the day and night to remember, my friend was able to let the grief have its due and to mourn the loss of the security she thought she had.  It was shocking, no way around that, but having cultivated the skills of non-attachment, it helped her say goodbye to the past and turn toward the future, while staying grounded in the present moment with the ups and downs of normal human emotion.  She just didn’t stay attached to any ups or downs.  (I did start a GoFundMe for her because her insurance wouldn’t cover anything so if you want to read more about her harrowing journey you can go here:

Being able to radically accept a new reality is a key to not suffering.  Yes, there is pain, but as the saying goes, suffering is optional.  She immediately realized she had to start anew and there is a freedom in that.  She said just the other day after acknowledging there is no work for her now in that community, and housing is unavailable, especially with pets, the world is completely open to her.  Why suffer when you can see opportunity that rises from the wreckage?  She won’t have much to pack and in that is freedom. 

My friend trusts and relies on the benevolent guidance in the cosmos and while disasters still happen, as Fred Roger’s (Mister Roger’s Neighborhood) mother used to say ‘Look for the helpers.  There are always the helpers.”  Helpers can come in many forms—intuitive guidance or inner wisdom, angels, divination tools, prayers, your own brain to figure things out, and of course, other people.  My friend did get some help from others which is helping her weather this new reality.  No one survives without help.  Thanks be to the helpers—both inside and outside ourselves. 

What guidance do you use when times are tough?  What or who can you immediately call on when you are facing a difficult situation or moment?  Sometimes this support comes from our own imagination and that’s enough.  If you don’t feel you have enough supports, I encourage you to get help to find the helpers both in you and outside yourself.  We all need and deserve a team to carry us along during the hard times and celebrate with us during the easy ones. 

One way to start is to work on not being attached to what is or what you have now staying forever and ever.  You can hope so, but cultivating gratitude in the moment, which is not dependent on controlling the future, is like a superpower, as is your own breath.  Focusing on your own breathing—especially playing with your exhale by making it really loonnnggg can bring any anxiety down to a manageable level.  There are so many skills for managing our thoughts and anxieties that are easily learned and used immediately.

Of course, the most important thing to do in the midst of any big change is always to play.  The cats still played.  My friend played with them.  They were grateful in the present moment.  So go out and play!

If you need help in cultivating a resilient mind set, reach out.  I’m available for coaching or counseling and so are others in your community and network.  Find your team and have some F.U.N.! 

I have a new transformational retreat coming up soon—next March in Baja, Mexico with the Gray and Blue whales so check out my website for retreat registration and more information! or feel free to email me at   


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