Day 22

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Matthew VanderfordBy Matthew Vanderford, Claimology

Day 22. Where do you stand? Where do you stand 22 days after a disaster hits your life? Do you remember where you were 22 days after hurricane Michael? You might not. And that’s ok. Hurricane Michael affected each one of us differently. For some it was, and is, the most life changing event they’ve ever known. For others, it was just another news story. But either way, there was a cause and effect. A cause that shook the lives for some, and an effect that only shook headlines for others.

I remember Hurricane Michael for several reasons. One of those reasons is due to the amount of damage that ravaged the area. I witnessed multiple towns, for miles and miles, one after another, reel from the massive CAT 5 hurricane that ran like a blowing ball up the Panhandle 231/71 Corridor. The stories I’ve heard of those who decided to ride it out are pretty intense. Real Florida Man Style intense. One of my dearest friends decided to be just one of those Florida men. When I asked him, “When did you know you it was bad?” He replied, “When I saw a fridge go by my house at 175 miles per hour.” When I asked him if he would do it again, he simply replied, “Yes I would.” Real Florida man style indeed. I’m not sure what this says about me or my circle of friends. But one thing’s for certain. I’m so very grateful to have that person in my corner.

22 days after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Mexico Beach area, I was going through one of the most intense internal upheavals of my life—my very own personal Hurricane Michael, if you will. This hurricane, this force of nature, took my entire life, put it in a blender, hit the pulse button a few times and then poured on a tray and said, “Now go make art.”

The three-year insurance claim filing and supplemental deadline for hurricane Michael victims was a recent topic of conversation which prompted this column. The supplemental and claim filing deadline topic came up during my weekly Master Networks meeting. I call that weekly meeting business therapy. It’s a great place to grow a holistic approach where business and life are not things to be seen as separate, but as one energy that gets divided depending on where we place our focused attention. It’s a place where one can be as vulnerable as they wish while tending to the garden of their life’s business. It’s the vulnerable places where we grow the most.

Hurricane Michael, my own personal Hurricane Michael, it laid me bare. It dropped me to my hands and knees. It had me adding to the salt of the Gulf through the tears I shed while facing the aftermath of a life lived focused on self and not others. The lessons I learned from that storm have forever altered this life’s trajectory. It’s the lessons of those choices, and the lessons learned while helping others in their times of tragedy, that I wish to relay, so that others may receive a bit of help, maybe a ray of hope during those events that seem to take us for a ride from time to time.

Hurricane Michael, the actual CAT 5 Michael is still affecting the area. Claims remain unsettled, lives remain forever altered, physically and geographically. Hurricane Michael has become a name and a notch to add to the belts of those Real Florida men and women who have ridden the winds and waves of life. Right through the eye of the storm, and out the other side.

If we could see the result of the life that comes after the storm, we couldn’t appreciate the joy that comes from doing the work that life demands to mend the walls of our gardens, to tend the soil of our souls.

Here’s to lives well lived and souls well cared for. To healing and friendships forged. To new beginnings in this new year.