Tropical Depression Usman hit the Philippines on December 28, bringing with it massive rains that caused landslides, flooding and families displaced from their homes.
We were still having a nice family dinner on December 29 when it continued to rain heavily.
We had previous experiences of heavy raining before but our house were not flooded. If it did it was just in the bathroom, kitchen, and my brother’s bedroom, but the water level would just be below the ankle.
So that was how we expected it to be.
But the water started coming inside our house until it flooded all our rooms. As the water continued to rise, we had no choice but to save our lives and evacuate to higher grounds.
The flood lasted for three days in our village. That left us homeless on New Year’s Eve.
This is something that I never experienced before. In 30 years of staying here, this was definitely the first time that it happened.
For three days, it’s like everything stopped. All that mattered was to survive.
But deep inside, even if our home was flooded, I felt grateful that we were all alive.
The time also gave me a chance to slow down, reflect, learn and confirm five prime life lessons that you and I may not be paying much attention to because of our daily hustles.
It’s not that I did not learn these before. I’ve read about these in books. But personally experiencing being in distress made these lessons more real to me.
Let me share these with you.
1. We only need a few things to live.
For three days and two nights, we were displaced from our home. We were lucky that my Mom’s Aunt’s (I call her Mamay) house was on higher ground and no one occupies it now. So on these days, we stayed there and it was enough to help us have a decent shelter, rather than stay in evacuation centers.
And we survived. We lived, even without the luxury that our house provided. Which means, what we had on those three days were really the only ones needed to live.
What were they?
Food. Clean water. Fresh air to breathe. Clothing. Shelter. Money. Communication. Cooking utensils and the ability to cook. Fuel. Lights (There was no electricity, so we used candles). Personal care things like toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and soap.
Most importantly, we had each other.
So if you take a look at it, it’s just family and basic needs. And that’s it!
2. Ultimately, it’s being alive that truly matters.
Some lost their lives in those three days because of landslides.
If you are reading this right now, be thankful. You’re alive. Others were not as fortunate.
My Mom would often say what a disaster we had.
Yes, it was a disaster. I wouldn’t contradict that. But whatever we lost in the flood are all material things.
We still have our lives.
And yes, the house was flooded. But now, as I write this, we’re already back in here.
Many things are still left outside to dry – photos, books, chairs, foams. We still have a lot of washing to do – clothes, utensils, rags. The flood also reached the fridge, so we can’t store leftovers for now. It might take us a month to bring everything back to normal.
I lost my cat. My pet rabbit died in the cold. A few chicks didn’t survive. If you’re an animal lover, and you treat your pets like family, then you’ll understand that it’s painful to lose your pets.
But again… we still have our lives. I didn’t lose any of my family. And I’m still here to make awesome articles for you.
Whatever we lost, we can still recover.
Though to be honest, I had lots of things under my bed that were damaged so I had to trash them already. Only this day have I realized, they were really clutter. And because these were flooded, it has become easier for me to get rid of these things.
It’s like my mentality was rigged, and I thought when we were still at Mamay’s house, whatever I had back there (in our house), I didn’t really need them. They can go. (Except for the computer and the printer, of course.)
So somehow, the flood helped me declutter!
3. Happiness doesn’t depend on our circumstances. We choose it.
Because of what happened in our villages, many would greet each other, “It’s New Year only. No Happy.”
Some however, would still greet, Happy New Year!, despite everything.
Here is a clear picture of the difference between the happy and the unhappy.
Why, despite losing their belongings, these people still manage to stay happy? How do they do that? Are they not sad that they just lost everything and they’re back to square one? Isn’t it normal to feel devastated at times like this? How do they manage to still put a smile on their faces?
Answer. They chose it.
It’s their disposition in life – to carry a smile even in the midst of disaster.
How awesome is that?
When I reflect on this, I remember those times when I was easily annoyed over trivial things like, I still had to feed the dogs, I had to wash dishes, clothes all over the room and had to be picked up, printer not working properly, no internet connection, I dropped my phone, it rained, and many more.
Those are nothing compared to your house being flooded and damaging every possession you have.
During the flood, it was like nothing else mattered except to survive, and I thought to myself, if we did survive this, I would be very much happy.
So right now, I choose to be happy.
All of us survived. The flood did not submerge our entire house. (Some houses were totally submerged in water.) We still have the TV. I still have my computer and my printer. The water, electricity and the internet… they’re all back. We lost a lot. Many things have been damaged too. But, we still have everything we need.
The fact that we’re still alive… I believe that’s enough reason to be happy… considering the fact that we could have lost our lives in there too.
Again, happiness doesn’t depend on your circumstances. It depends on whether you choose it or not. So if you want to be happy, choose it.
Look for the silver lining in your situation, even if the only silver lining is that you are still alive.
4. Family comes first.
On January 1, my brother had to leave our village already because of work, and he had to drive for 24 hours to reach his workplace.
It’s very far from our home.
This means that Mom is now left with me and my hubby… again.
It makes me think… what if we also had to leave for work? What happens to Mom? She will be left alone, surely. At times like this, you don’t just leave your parents.
I mean… I can’t just leave, because there’s no way I’m leaving my Mom alone.
My best friend also couldn’t go home because of work, even if it would only take her one and a half hours to reach home. She also couldn’t see her family right now, and there’s no way she would be here to help in the restoration of their house.
I was twenty years old when I started working an 8 to 5 job. And there I saw how it would not be that easy to go home to my family because of work.
But family has always been my top priority.
So I looked for other jobs that would allow me to stay more with them. I was still single that time, and my Dad was still alive. I thought… my parents would get older. And when they do, I wanted to take care of them and be with them. Given the kind of work that I had (an 8 to 5 office job and far from home – need a 12-hour bus ride), this would not be possible.
I relocated somewhere closer and found a decent job, one which only took me one and a half hours travel to go back home.
Until I learned that I could work from home.
What could be better than staying home and be there for your family, be able to respond to them when needed?
From then on, the concept of working from home has never left my mind. I would work but still, find solutions on how I could bring work at home and finally be with my family.
Today, I’m a blogger and I work from home, totally. I don’t have to commute to work. No need to leave my Mom either. (My Dad passed away last 2017.)
My hubby has a home business too, so no leaving our family either. My in-laws are also in the same village, so it’s very easy to go there and pay them a visit.
I can’t help but think, if I was not a blogger, and I was still working like before, maybe I’m like my brother and my best friend – away from family, couldn’t go home that easily, couldn’t be here for Mom, and Mom would be left alone. What a sad sad thing.
I guess it all depends on how serious you are with your priorities.
If you seriously put your family first, if you want to be with them always so that you are there when they need you, you will find solutions to make that happen.
I just found mine and it’s through blogging.
5. Your life’s circumstances are the product of choices – yours and others’. But how you live your life is your choice.
I stay at home now because ten years ago, I decided that my family comes first and I would do everything I could to be able to be with them anytime.
It was not easy taking that path. Believe me, it was easier to settle into a job, earn a decent amount of money every month, and just go home every once in a while, but that was not what I wanted.
I wanted to be with my family always… period.
And that changed the course of my life.
I often thought that, if I knew about working from home before, that the internet could do so much to help you stay at home for your family, maybe I would not have finished college and just went straight on to blogging.
But I didn’t know that. My parents had no idea either. So they propelled me to a path that they knew best – go to school, graduate with flying colors, get a job, earn a decent amount of money and settle down.
When I learned about working from home and blogging, I was like a kid just learning the basics. It’s back to square one, and I had to learn a lot from the bottom again… because unfortunately, earning through blogging is not something you learn at school.
It’s totally different. It’s like I was plunged into a very different kind of world.
Taking the path of going to school and getting a job was the path that my parents chose for me. But when I was old enough to make my own decisions, from then on my choices were already mine.
There I learned an inconvenient truth…
If I was not going to make a decision, then somebody else will do it for me.
Finally deciding to leave my job to stay home and blog was a tough choice that I made just last year, a few months after my Dad died, because no one was left to take care of Mom. It was either my brother or me.
And there was no question right there. I would take care of Mom.
It’s not because it’s a necessity now, but because I have long decided that when the time comes, I would take care of our parents.
Right now, after the flood, I can see that that giving up everything to stay home and blog was the wisest choice I ever did since I started to join the workforce.
I was with my family before the flood, during the flood, and most importantly, after it (where a lot of restoration has to take place.) I can take care of Mom when my brother can’t. I am with my husband everyday. And no one bosses me around telling me on what things I should waste my time.
Your life today is the product of your choices and maybe,others’ choices ten years ago. But your life, ten years from now will be the product of the choices that you make today.
So be mindful of your choices.
If you want to stay with your family but can’t because of work, I will tell you what I told myself ten years ago…
Don’t let work take you away from your family.
Whatever kind of living you do – working on a job or your own business, it should bring you closer to family, not away from them.
If you want to start a blog that will help you earn money in the future so you can finally stay with your family, start now.
Stop thinking twice.
Don’t dwell on the ifs and buts. You’re not going to reach anything if there’s a lot of doubt in your heart.
If you don’t know where to start, save your time looking for every blogging tips in Google that could get you nowhere.
Instead, gobble on this Free 12-Day Blogging Bootcamp created by Paul Scrivens. When I was just starting out on blogging early in 2018, this was the only resource I had. And I was able to launch Simple Life of a Lady by just following this guide.
Now I’m proud to say that last month (December 2018) this site had 30k + pageviews already.
Life has a way of waking us up.
I hope that you will not experience what I experienced – your house being submerged in water unexpectedly, with the flood rising faster than expected.
I don’t know what your situation is right now. It could even be more difficult than what we had.
Whatever you are going through, I wish for you to open your eyes and your mind, and ask yourself, what important lesson can I get from this?
I hope that by sharing with you these five lessons, you too will find what you need to see in your current situation. May this help clarify your values and priorities in life, especially at this time, when the year has just started and plans are being made afresh.
If you’re stuck in life, don’t let this year pass without changing your course. Don’t miss the more important things in life.
Reflect on the things that really matter to you. Write them down. Then start directing your life towards them.