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Energy Healing 101

For most people the body is a solid tangible entity and the core reality of their existence. They forget that everything in this universe and beyond is energy and besides what is visible to the naked eye is a whole other subtle world that influences our reality. Without this energy or life force (chi or prana in eastern traditions) the body would simply be a corpse.

Our thoughts, emotions, and feelings emit a frequency, an energy if you will, that is palpable if you are discerning. Everyone is aware of this at some deep level but often dismisses it for things perceived by the senses. Regular folk who walk on sites that used to be concentration camps or battlefields can sense the pain, fear, and despair because these places are drenched in those energies. On the flip side when people visit a monastery, meditation center or place of worship they can feel the peace and almost always come back feeling good.

Think about it. Some places or people always make you feel peaceful and calm while others trigger unpleasant emotions. So what is it you are picking up on? Surely not the external appearance of things! Someone could be smiling at you and quietly cursing you in their head and somehow you know. You are picking up on their energy.

Apart from the physical body we all have an energy body that is greatly influenced by the food we eat, our predominant emotions and thoughts, all of which are different forms of energy. This energy influences our physiology and as a result our body. This is probably old news. Doctors have been talking about the mind-body connection for several years now. But what is interesting is that more and more doctors and hospitals are offering alternative and energy healing therapies in addition to regular treatment options.

My introduction to energy medicine came at a young age. A Reiki Master came to my college and gave a talk on energy healing and I was instantly drawn to it. I did my Reiki Level 1 with my Reiki Master, Nirupama Prasad. After that I was doing hands-on healing for family and friends and also started meditating on a regular basis. I ended up doing Reiki Level 2 as well, which allowed me to do distant healing. I sent Reiki to my babies when I was pregnant and both my kids were born healthy and through normal delivery. I have this on again and off again relationship with Reiki for several years now. But a few years ago I noticed a great surge of energy every time I did Reiki. My daughter started believing in Reiki after I got Lucky, our cat, to sit on my lap while I did Reiki. She closed her eyes, became very still and seemed to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, animals and plants respond very well to Reiki.

So what is Reiki? It is cosmic or divine energy (prana or chi) that is all around us. Reiki healers can channel this energy through their body and out of their hands to the patient. They don’t draw their own energy. This is important to note because some people worry that the Reiki healer’s energy will get depleted because they are sharing it with others. Contrary to this notion, healers feel energized after a Reiki session. They allow the divine energy to flow through them and fill them up before channeling it to the patient.

Reiki treatments are very effective for aches and pains. After a couple of treatments, the pain subsides or completely disappears. The patient also feels relaxed, sleeps better, and is emotionally balanced after a session. There are stories out there about Reiki curing cancer, reversing hearing loss,  and healing bones. I did Reiki for A when she broke her elbow. She reminded me that the cast came off two weeks before it was supposed to. The orthopedic surgeon was surprised and asked us if she had eaten a lot of cheese!

Over the years I’ve been wary of openly proclaiming the miraculous powers of Reiki or energy healing. Many thought I was weird, out there, cray cray, cuckoo for talking about it. But these days Reiki has become more mainstream and less “out there” and “alternative”. There are doctors in Duke Hospital who are also Reiki healers. Duke even offers Reiki Level 1 and 2 as part of their integrative medicine initiative.

I was surprised the other day when “Saving Hope” a medical drama series that explores near death experiences introduced a Reiki healer talking about the heart chakra of a comatose patient. Usually the media stereotype for spiritual or new age folk is a blundering fool who talks funny and can’t fit in with regular folk who constantly poke fun at their weird rituals. So it was refreshing to see that the surgeon in this serial wanted to give Reiki a shot to save her patient.

Alternative medicine (acupressure, acupuncture, Reiki, naturopathy, homeopathy, etc.) is gaining more acceptance. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is more to life than just this body and material acceptance. Also they are tired of popping pills and dealing with side effects. While alternative medicine cannot completely replace Western medicine, it can surely hasten the healing and reduce side effects. And more and more doctors and patients are becoming aware of this.

My aunt can’t pop pills when she is in pain since she is allergic to several pain killers. So I find myself doing Reiki for her whenever she is dealing with pain. These days she refuses to go see a doctor and insists that Reiki will heal her.

After the accident, I plunged into Reiki and meditation with renewed vigor. A month ago I was a nervous wreck – weepy, emotional, withdrawn, and barely able to function. After a month of Reiki and meditation, I feel more balanced, positive, and in control. I drove again for the first time after the accident and wasn’t crippled by fear or anxiety. It’s a miracle! I never thought I’d get out of it. I thought my old fear of driving would possess me, now that it had some external validation.

I decided to offer Reiki to people outside of my immediate circle because I have witnessed its immense power and miraculous results. If you are still skeptical, give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at the results. I always am!

If you have any questions or need more information please share them in the comments section and I will be more than happy to go deeper into this subject.

A Month Together After Seven Years

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After my brother moved to Sweden to pursue his Masters in 2012, I haven’t met him. Our trips to India never coincided. Often we’d miss each other by just a couple of weeks. And for some reason we never got to visit each other either. That changed when DD came to  Las Vegas on a business trip. He figured he might as well apply for a tourist visa while getting his business visa. He decided to come visit me in July (the hottest month in the U.S.) so he could celebrate my birthday with me. My parents were also supposed to visit but their visa interview was scheduled to be on my birthday!

I took every Friday off from work so we could do weekend trips together. Our first trip was to Asheville in Western NC. I had never been there myself, so it was a welcome surprise. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and about 10 degrees cooler than Raleigh, this place is steeped in natural beauty and a very “hippie” vibe as DD put it. Yoga studios, crystal shops, vegan restaurants, and art galleries galore dotted the downtown scene.

We strolled around Grovewood Village which boasts of an art gallery, an antique car museum, and art garden with artsy windmills and bears, rabbits, and fish made from wood, metal, and ceramic. The textile history museum had rare artifacts from when the city was a booming hub for the textile industry. Hand-spun material that originated here ended up as dress suits won by some first ladies.

After lunch we headed to the arboretum to cool off. We walked one of its numerous interconnected trails and encountered others like us who were trying to escape the long weekend Fourth of July rush. Sitting on a bench, we soaked in the light filtering through the canopy while listening to a stream gurgle by. We skipped over some rocks to touch the cool water glistening and dancing in the sunlight. It was just what my soul was yearning for.

Later that evening we drove to Lake Junalusca to watch the fireworks. It was a rainy evening but by dusk the clouds cleared as we stood overlooking the serene lake with a lone boat drifting along its perimeter. As it got darker, a smaller firework show started right before our eyes. Fireflies! Dozens or more of them in the bushes surrounding the lake were putting on a show. The actual fireworks were on the other side of the lake and obscured by some trees. But it was too late to move so we just enjoyed them from afar.

Next morning we headed to the Folk Art Museum with its corn husk dolls, horse-hair pots, and other unique pieces of art that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. It helped that my brother also enjoyed art and wasn’t in a big rush to leave as I lingered over each piece. After a hearty lunch at Mela, we headed to the Thomas Wolfe Museum and did a tour of the author’s childhood home which interestingly enough was also a boarding house run by his mother. It was trip back in time to when boarding houses didn’t face much competition from hotels and doctors prescribed fresh mountain air to cure tuberculosis and other maladies.

The characters in his book, “Look Homeward Angel,” were all poorly-disguised real-life characters. Fearing confrontation with family and friends for baring their secrets and follies, Wolfe never visited Asheville for eight years after the book was published. But when he did return as a famous author he was well received. Ironically, he died at a young age from complications due to tuberculosis. Rumor has it that his mother did not turn away sick people from the boarding house. Our tour guide brought all these characters to life and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Before heading back home the next day, we stopped at the Swannanoa Valley Museum which was basically a firehouse converted into a museum. Beacon Blankets was the town’s bread and butter until it closed down in 2002. The museum followed the history of this company which was so closely tied to the history and economy of the town. On the 2nd floor were artifacts like the first automatic voting machine, segregated water fountains, and old switchboards for telephones, also stories from the Prohibition era about moonshiners, bootleggers, and their run in with the law.

It was with a heavy heart that I drove back to Raleigh, leaving behind the misty mountain tops and chilled-back vibe of Asheville. But I’m certain I’ll go back for more. I don’t know if the mountain air is a panacea for serious maladies but I’m pretty damn sure it can cure souls grown dreary with city life.

On Sunday we had lunch with our cousin and his wife, one of many reunions that would unfold during DDs month-long visit. On Tuesday we went to a music park to watch the Tedeschi Trucks, with Derek who was supposedly a wizard with a guitar. DD was explaining the whole slide guitar concept which was completely alien to me. I had never heard of this band or listened to their music before, but was happy to accompany DD as long as it wasn’t rap or heavy metal (DDs fave genres when he was a teen and used to blast his music till the whole apartment vibrated!)

I have to say that this Derek guy delivered on his promise. His guitar prowess was evident and his skill and technique were flawless. He even played some Hindustani tunes on his guitar and I was impressed. The opening acts were also fairly decent and I could finally check off rock concerts on my bucket list thanks to DD (the only concerts I had been to in the past were school concerts and Carnatic music concerts!)

The rest of the week rolled by and on Thursday we made our way to Washington DC. I had been there last summer so I knew the drill. We did all the memorials – Lincoln, Roosevelt, MLK, World War II, White House, and Capitol Hill in sweltering 90 degree weather. By the time we reached Capitol Hill we didn’t have an ounce of strength to walk up to the building and take pictures. We stood near and gate, captured a few shots and left!

The highlight of the trip was meeting our cousin and aunt after several decades. We laughed and talked and reminisced the old times over some good Chinese food. I also loved the Air bnb we stayed in, tucked away in a quiet street in Falls Church. The owner had a cat, that we both took turns feeding and letting in and out of the house. When she got wet in the rain, DD ran after her with a paper towel to dry her off, only to find out later that she was a Turkish Van and loved water!

The next day I headed back home alone while my brother stayed back to meet some friends from school before heading to NYC to meet old friends from AIESEC. While he was there he met a former client who had made a career out of dog walking. DD spent an afternoon dog walking with him. His pictures with the dogs are pure bliss. You can see the joy filling him and spilling over. I really wish he would get himself a dog!

From NYC he flew to Denver to meet some clients and then explored the city, which he described as his favorite city in the U.S. so far. He got back home just in time for the weekend and we explored the museums in downtown Raleigh and ate a ginormous breakfast at Big Ed’s that serves up Southern fare. DD discovered grits when he was in Asheville and loved it. He was little alarmed to find that all Southern dishes were fried but finally settled for Cajun fried chicken. On Saturday he headed off for a day in Charlotte to see some Arsenal fans/friends. He spotted the assistant coach walking past him and managed to get a selfie with him. He’s always lucky that way. Years ago, DD caught Buddy Guy’s guitar pick when he threw it at the crowd during a concert in Mumbai. And here I can’t even catch a foul ball at a local baseball game!

On my birthday we went to a Tibetan Buddhist center to participate in their morning meditation. After the meditation, they set out some strawberry cake, fruits, coffee, and herbal teas for everyone. We finished off with a South Indian lunch buffet at Tower and headed back home because it was too hot (this was the heat wave weekend across the U.S.) to do anything else but laze indoors.

It’s funny that the two of us are so different and yet so similar. We both love bisi bele bath, salt and vinegar chips, art, animals, and meditation. Of course his idea of meditation is 10-day intense retreats, while I prefer a regular practice in the comfort of my home.

Our last week together flew by and then it was time for him to leave. I made one last meal for him and we sat down to have lunch together. Just the previous night he had made his world famous Zafrani pulao. When we were growing up, I had never seen him cook anything but Maggie noodles. So I was in for a surprise. He took his time, was very particular about the ingredients, and didn’t allow me to rush the process. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t cook every day. But the pulao was perfect. It didn’t stick to the bottom of the pot (which is what happens when I cook rice on the stove top) and it tasted great!

A month flew by and we had so much fun. I just wish we meet more often and don’t have to wait another 7 years to do this again!

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Dancing in the Rain

If you live in North Carolina the only weather forecast you take seriously is a hurricane headed your way. So three days ago when they predicted thunderstorms I headed out for a walk with A and two umbrellas in tow and although the clouds looked menacing they only managed to squeeze out a few drops of rain. So the next day when there was a thunderstorm in the forecast I decided not to skip my walk. This time we only had one umbrella between the two of us (A had misplaced hers). It was already raining when we stepped out but within a few minutes it got really heavy and our sleeves were getting wet because the umbrella was not big enough for the two of us. By the time we reached the mail boxes with a little roof over it we were quite wet. That’s when A suddenly remembered that they interrupted regular programming to alert everyone about a thunderstorm with potentially 60 mph winds.

“Now you tell me,” I scolded her. She just shrugged her shoulders and proceeded to take videos of the rain coming down in buckets and causing little rivulets of water to swiftly make their way to the storm water gutters. My initial plan was to wait it out but I wasn’t sure when this storm would pass and we were losing daylight. So we decided to head back home. At this point the umbrella was useless and we were pretty much drenched by the time we got home.

Getting wet in the rain reminded me of simpler times in Madras, the rain-starved city and its people. Of course weather forecasts weren’t that accurate and schools didn’t send emails and text alerts to let you know they were closed. So, many of us would brave the rain and reach school only to find out that school was closed. That meant no classes but the gates would be open and our classrooms too. We’d take off our wet socks and shoes, and untie our braids. Uninhibited and unsupervised, we’d play games, sing, and make the black board our easel. It was more fun that sitting at home and watching TV.

I remember a time when we lived in a rented house and the land lady wouldn’t supply us with water in our pipes and we had to go fill water at a hand pump in her backyard. We had access to the terrace because we lived upstairs and one day when it rained, my mother ran up to the terrace and stood in the rain. Just taking in the abundance of water falling from the skies. When she emerged, rain-soaked and glorious, she was beaming. What the land lady withheld from us, the heavens gave freely and there was some deep relief in knowing that.

My friend G and I used to go for evening walks and window shopping in the galleries on KNK Road. But by far the most enjoyable walks we had were in the rain. The oppressive heat and the delayed monsoons always made everybody restless. Rain was sweet relief and release. The cool water on our skin was cleansing and healing. The dusty roads gleamed and the puddles reflected the stormy skies. It was pure joy walking in the rain with another soul who enjoyed it as much as I did, giggling and laughing all the way.

Later when life got busy and we went our separate ways, I still got excited when it rained in Madras. I remember running outside my grandma’s house and dancing in the rain, spinning around in circles till I was dizzy. The plants all around me seemed to be equally happy as they glistened in the rain.

I almost forgot how happy I was in the rain. When A got completely soaked and lost her slipper in a puddle she was giggling and so happy. I on the other hand was feeling like an irresponsible parent, dragging my child through potentially dangerous weather. That’s when I remembered, wait a minute, I used to enjoy this! By then we were home but I decided to go dancing in the rain again some time soon because I now know that the rain nourishes my soul.


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Before and After…Never the Same Again

Life plan before the accident

  • Wake up at 6:00 a.m. Pack lunches.
  • Work from 8 to 4, Monday to Friday
  • Chill from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Cook dinner from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Eat dinner and clean up from 8 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Watch mindless TV or a movie from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
  • Sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Life plan after the accident

  • Publish my book.
  • Do meaningful work (more than just getting a paycheck). Right now this is inviting a larger community to experience Reiki healing through me. But I feel like this is just a small part of what I can offer to others.
  • Spend time with people that make me feel alive and joyful.

So on the 25th of July my brother and I were driving to a seminar and were in an accident that was pretty bad. I don’t want to go into the gruesome details but the car got totaled and we escaped with minor cuts caused by glass shards from the shattered windshield. That we are both alive and I’m actually typing this, is a miracle. When my car spun 180 degrees after the impact, I thought I was a goner. Even after it stopped spinning I wasn’t sure if I was alive or dead till someone opened the door and asked me if I was OK. That’s all it takes. We are just one breath away from kissing death. From losing our mortal frames that we so take for granted. If I had died that day, I would have died with a lot of regrets. For not putting my happiness first. For not doing things that were really important to me.

We all have all the time in the world before something like this shocks us out of our complacency. And then it hits us that our time is limited, borrowed, and we pay a heavy interest for not investing in our dreams. Even if you never had a close brush with death, every time someone you loves crosses over you are plagued with guilt and regret. You think of all the calls or visits you could have made, all the words you should have spoken and all the things you should have done to let that person know they were loved. The list goes on.

You don’t remember them for all the wealth they accumulated or all the places they traveled to. But you always remember how they made you feel and their small acts of kindness that made the world a better place. Did they spread joy, laughter, and abundance? Were they there for you when you needed them?

I want to be that person who was not too busy to call and check on you. That person who has not lost herself to the mindless busyness that so many live and die for. I want be around people I love and cherish and who love and cherish me just the way I am and not expecting me to play small for their sake. After the accident I chose life, love, joy, abundance, and most of all meaningful connections with people.

As if the accident was not enough to wake me up from my slumber, another incident jolted me out of my comatose state. A friend from college passed away. A kind and loving soul with infinite potential who was a visionary and touching so many lives through her work and her mere presence. I may not be able to do what she did in her short life but I at least want to try to be the best person I know I can be and use my God-given skills to make this world a better place. I cannot ignore this anymore and keep on focusing on meaningless things.

If you are in a place where life is throwing challenges at you, know this. You are not alone. We were never meant to go at it alone. It’s the constructs of the world and technology that isolates us. Reach out and know that someone out there is also going through the same thing and is also wanting to reach out to you. Here’s to finding more meaning in your life and relationships.

 


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My 30 Days of Gratitude

This is something I started two years ago and get excited about doing every year. Some of you have also taken this up and I’m sure you find it as rewarding as I do. This month was wonderful, with a trip to see fall colors and also a trip to the beach. I also took some time to pamper myself. And when I was having a rough week and wasn’t feeling particularly thankful, a friend gave me a wonderful card and bookmark reminding me that, “There is always something to be thankful for!”

Day 1
I am thankful for my job and the financial independence that comes with it.
Day 2
am thankful for my hybrid car and chargers at work.
Day 3
I am thankful for the beautiful fall colors that everyone can enjoy.
Day 4 (Trip to western NC to see fall colors)
I am thankful for vacations and the opportunity to unwind and take a break from  the routine.
Day 5
I am thankful for my good health and energy that helps me accomplish all that I need to do at work and home.
Day 6
I am thankful for a full pantry and the ability to generously donate to those who need help.
Day 7
I am thankful for my beautiful home that keeps me safe and sheltered.
Day 8
I am thankful for the produce from my garden. (Okra, tomato, spinach, mint, oregano, and carrots.)
Day 9
I am thankful for my beautiful children, Anjali and Nitin. They fill my heart with joy and pride.
Day 10
I am thankful for my parents and for their support, love, and faith in me.
Day 11
I am thankful for the infinite and omnipresent source of all love and light. For guidance, grace, and infinite miracles.
Day 12
I am thankful for technology. It helps me keep in touch with friends and family around the world.
Day 13
I am thankful for my brother Dinesh Damodran. He is a bag of surprises. One day he is at a Vipasana meditation retreat and the next day he is cooking zafrani pulao for friends. He is not afraid to try new things and I’m always eager to hear about his latest adventure. Happy birthday Dini. May the next year be filled with new adventures and happy travels.
Day 14
I am thankful for my brother Rohit Singh. For all the laughs and for being so protective of me.  Here’s wishing you happiness and success always.
Day 15
I am thankful for powerful women who are my role models. Dadima you are #1 on the list. Whenever I feel stymied I just ask myself,  what would dadi do? I love you and miss you. Waiting for the day we will meet again.
Day 16
I am thankful for the men in my life who treat women with respect. They set the standards for everyone else. #1 on my list is my dad.
Day 17
I am thankful for friends like Namami Ghosh. Sometimes talking to a friend who will just listen is the best therapy.
Day 18
I am thankful for meditation, reiki, and quiet time to rejuvenate my spirit.
Day 19
I am thankful for a good education and most importantly the discernment that comes with it. And also for the varied life experiences that have shaped me.
Day 20
I am thankful for teachers (Mabel Erevelles and Nirupama Prasad) and gurus, both in this world and beyond for inspiring me, saving me many times over, and for helping me evolve as a person.
Day 21
I am thankful for Karen Warmbein and her friendship. Today, she brightened up my day with this beautiful card.
Day 22
Thankful for a day dedicated to giving thanks, good food, and family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Day 23
I am thankful for warm clothes and heating and for wonderful friends who warm my heart.
Day 24 (Trip to Myrtle Beach, SC)
I am thankful for beaches and oceans, my happy place. I am thankful for myself because today I picked up a lot of trash from the beach.
Day 25
I am thankful for sacred space, to get away from the maddening world and just be with myself.
Day 26
I am thankful for time. Time to volunteer, read, bake, take walks, meditate, and sleep. Thankful for more than enough time to do the things I love.
Day 27
I am thankful for efficient appliances that help me manage my chores without a maid. I am thankful for all the women who did chores for me when I was growing up. Only now do I really appreciate what they did.
Day 28
I am thankful for my aunt Raji S Nair for always being there for me and praying for me. Love you Valliamma.
Day 29
I am thankful for my blog, creativity, and my way with words.
Day 30
I am thankful for all the blessings coming my way – all the joy, abundance, laughter, good times, and love.
What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear from you!

 


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Man Against Man

As I was driving to work one day with my son, I stopped at a signal and saw the road in front of me teeming with police vehicles. One lane on the opposite side of the road was blocked by a police car. Around eight to ten officers were crowding over something. On looking closer, it appeared as though they were desperately trying to hold down something, using their batons to beat down some terrible dangerous beast. All I could see were their bodies pressing down and arresting the motion of whatever was under them. I gasped when I saw a naked foot sticking out from the crowd of black uniforms. My stomach churned as I realized there were ten police officers holding this man down, several of them pummeling him repeatedly with their batons.

I was filled with loathing. Excessive force, police brutality and other words and faces of many people who suffered the same fate flooded my mind. I felt sick and couldn’t breathe. It was like someone weighing 200 pounds was sitting on my chest.

It is one thing watching clips of police using excessive force and violence on citizens in the comfort of your living room. Watching it unfold in broad daylight just does something to you. I realized my son was in the car with me. I had to say something.

“Oh my God! It’s a man. I don’t care what he did but they can’t do this! This is horrible.”

Images from the past came tumbling into my mind. Men beaten to death by cops just because they could. Kids whose lives were snuffed out because an officer felt threatened and fired his gun. The man who got strangled by a cop. A senior citizen pushed around. A woman pulled by her hair at the beach.

What about all the images that never saw the light of day because no one captured them? What about what goes on in jails behind closed doors? I respect law enforcement but there is a fine line between enforcing the law and treating another person as a lesser being who deserves to be silenced, maimed or even killed.

It was a while again before I could breathe again and focus on my work. But what I saw that day definitely changed me. The next time I read something or see something related to police brutality I’m sure I will be consumed by that sickening feeling of an elephant on my chest.

The man I saw on the road ended up being admitted in a hospital. He left the scene in a stretcher and his family was not allowed to visit him in the hospital. I only hope he doesn’t become another statistic.


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When Florence Came…

It was just me and the kids against the fury of Florence – a category 4 hurricane hurtling towards the Carolinas. The models predicted that it was headed straight for us and was going to dump torrential rain and tear down trees with its catastrophic winds. I didn’t know what to do. I had never faced a hurricane before.

The last time we were hit by a natural disaster, I was in Chennai, when the city was hit by the worst flood ever in 100 years. We lost internet and cell phone coverage and didn’t have power for a day but we were never in any real danger. I didn’t have to worry about what to do if the flood waters entered the house because others were on top of it. I simply had to “follow” along.

Way back in 2009, when we were living in Boston, a freak ice storm in October crippled most of the state. It snowed and then the temperature rose above freezing point, at which point the snow thawed. Later that night, the temperature plunged to subzero turning the snow into ice. The naked trees with their brittle branches couldn’t take the weight of the snow and fell on top of the electric lines, leaving millions without power for days.

We woke up freezing, only to find out that the thermostat wasn’t working and there was no power. We had to leave. The house would soon turn into an igloo. We stayed at a hotel and then at a friend’s place (try keeping two toddlers cooped up in a pint-size room without toys) till the power was restored four days later. Again there was no threat to our lives or property. We were just a little inconvenienced.

In the five years we lived in Florida, we never once had to evacuate because of a hurricane or a tornado. Sandy didn’t hit us but went up north to wreak havoc in the Northeast.

Back in North Carolina, at our team meeting, everyone was talking about their hurricane plans. Some were leaving for western NC or Florida and some were staying put.

“I don’t know where to go,” I said, choking back tears. “Maybe I’ll call some cousins in Washington DC and see if I can go stay with them.”  I guess my worst fear was about making a bad decision that ended up hurting all of us.

I ended up calling my friend from college who also lives in Raleigh. She opened her home and hearth to me and the kids. She even offered to pick us up so my car can stay safely parked in the garage. My friend from work sensed the panic in my voice and showed up with a trunk full of hurricane essentials. She even got some cash for me, just in case I couldn’t make it to the bank.

All through the week friends and family called and texted to check on us. So many people prayed for us. It wasn’t just me and my kids against Florence. I wasn’t alone or afraid anymore. I was surrounded by an army of angels that I’m proud to call my friends. Two days before the hurricane hit, I saw a rainbow and knew it was a sign that we would be OK.

By Wednesday, the storm was downgraded to a category 2 and its path had changed drastically. It wasn’t coming straight at us. It was playing touch and go with the Carolina coast and then swerving around South Carolina on its way to western NC. I was relieved and decided to stay home and wait out the storm. The kids had Thursday and Friday off and we prepped for the storm. We bought bread, fruit, and cereal bars, filled containers with filtered water. Filled the bathtubs with water to flush the toilets in case the water was turned off.

Thursday came and went with rain and breezy conditions. On Friday the wind and rain picked up. I was afraid our young maple trees would topple but they survived the storm. On Friday evening we lost power. I cooked dinner (the gas wasn’t turned off, thankfully) while there was still light outside. My son cooked the frozen chicken and salmon burgers so we wouldn’t have to throw it out in case power was gone for more than a couple of hours.

We sat in the dark and listened intently to the radio for tornado alerts in our area. As I paced up and down, the kids reassured me that we would be OK and that we would get through this. I was really thankful for their maturity and level-headedness during the whole ordeal. They insisted that I play “anthakshari” with them to keep my mind off the hurricane. It’s a game played in India where teams sing songs that begin with the last letter of the song sung by their opponents.

My son took out his circuit board set and found a tiny bulb that he hooked up with a battery so we didn’t need to use candles. The power came back in a couple of hours and I was really thankful for that.

In the midst of all this, I had friends and family messaging and checking on me. On Monday, I had felt all alone in the world. But by Friday my heart was full, full of gratitude for the amazing people in my life. Some near, some far, some I hear from every week and some I haven’t heard from in years. But they all thought of me, prayed for me and it was nothing short of a miracle that not one hair on my head was harmed.

As I type these words my eyes are brimming with tears, not because I’m alone and afraid but because God sent so many angels to help me through the storm. Infinite love and gratitude to all of you.

Please remember that not everyone was spared by Florence. So many people have lost their homes, their loved ones, and everything they had. If you feel inspired to help these folks, please consider donating something toward hurricane relief efforts in NC and SC.