As a new year approaches, I’d like to look back at highlights in the news and my personal life this past year.
Natural disasters battered the United States this year with record-setting hurricanes hitting the east coast and fires blazing though the west.
Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston, leaving 82 dead and many homeless. Total rainfall from a single storm set a record at 51.88 inches and total damage costing $180 billion. A few weeks later Irma threatened the entire state of Florida, pushing Harvey out of the spotlight. As a category 5, it was the largest Atlantic storm in history, reaching winds of 185 mph for 37 continuous hours. The cone of death affected the most populated cities of the east and then shifted to the west coast of Florida. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations caused the largest evacuation of any state. Massive traffic jams ensued. I left the east coast, as did many of my friends. Hotels were sold out and people just started heading north, out of the state. In the end we got very lucky as far as deaths, we had widespread damage, but not devastating as predicted. Irma initially hit landfall in the Keys and then the west coast near Marco Island. Hurricane Marie formed as Irma left. After causing catastrophic damage across the northeast Caribbean, it hit Puerto Rico knocking out its power grid, three months later over half are still without power. The death toll is reported as 64, although many believe this number is higher.
The 2017 California wildfire season is the most destructive one on record. I visited southern California a month or so prior to the fires, and the dryness was evident everywhere. In October a series of fires broke out in the north’s scenic wine country. It killed 44 people and destroyed about 9000 structures. Southern California had its outbreak in December. High priced land in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles county got hit the worst with the Santa Ana winds exasperating the situation. The Thomas fire, the largest blaze in California’s history destroyed over a 1000 structures and over 50,000 had to evacuate, causing gridlock in an already congested area.
Good news came from all these disasters and people came together helping each other, and especially close to my heart our furry friends. Dogs and Cats were flown from Puerto Rico rescue centers to Florida. One of my friends adopted one of these dogs who went from extremely skinny to a loving pet. Wildlife officials rescued a mountain lion with burnt paws during the Thomas fire. A video of a man rescuing a rabbit on the side of the road while evacuating, went viral.
With all the natural, social and political disasters, sometimes it feels like the world is coming to an end. Mass shootings, vehicular homicides, nuclear escalation, sexual abuse, an opioid epidemic, increasing homelessness, and ongoing wars. Yes, it’s there, but in the new year let’s make it a priority to focus on commonalities and solutions.
On a personal level it’s been a great year. My travels took me to Helen, Georgia to witness a total eclipse, Southern California for a father-daughter bonding, various Florida cities, Andros, Bahamas to visit a dear friend, and mostly Bimini, Bahamas where I live part-time.
I continue my pursuit in physical, spiritual and mindful growth. Yoga keeps me on track with daily mantras and challenges. I can recognize my emotions easier and think before reacting. Running gives me the cardio I love while listening to audiobooks to fulfill my craving for knowledge. I put my own novel, Breakfast In Bimini, into audible format. Sales for my paperback and kindle edition have done well this year. All three formats can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/Breakfast-Bimini-Sierra-Michaels/dp/1533699062/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1514674744&sr=8-2&keywords=breakfast+in+bimini
What is your word for 2018? What are you hopeful for and what are you doing to make it happen? Be the change you want to see in the world. My word is Love.