I decided to title 2015, "A Year of Gratitude", because I experienced several challenges that were extremely sobering. Isn't it coincidental how when you're put in a situation of fear and vulnerability, you are suddenly humbled; recalling how blessed you really are?
Well, 2015 was a year of being humbled. Many times.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know about the challenge I went through in October with my health. However, what I didn't share with you was another challenge that occurred the month before in September. The apartment building I live in caught fire, which was the result of an arson fire in the building next to us. The tenants of my apartment complex were suddenly awakened at 3:43 AM to the sound of fire alarms blaring through the hallways and units. And what I thought would be a false alarm, like so many are in my building, turned out to be a true alarm. Yes, there was in fact a real fire because as soon as I opened my apartment door and started walking 21 floors down the fire escape stairwell, I could smell smoke. And by the time I got to the 5th floor, I could actually see smoke. It was at that point I heard firemen running up the stairs, telling all of us to move as quickly as we could. When I finally got outside and turned around to see exactly where the fire was, I saw the lower south side of my apartment building in total flames. There were FIVE fire trucks in the street, all hosing down the building, which took over 4 hours to extinguish. To make a long story short, all 250 apartment units were safely evacuated (and all pets - dogs and cats - were also evacuated). The Philadelphia Fire Department did an amazing job getting us to safety. And so efficiently. BRAVO to them!
That day, the tenants and I were outside in the street for 15 hours while the apartment building was checked and then rechecked to make sure the fire was completely extinguished and safe for us to return to our apartments. But what we eventually found out was that the second to seventh floor apartments on the south side of the building were severely damaged; making it impossible for those tenants to return until they were completely reconstructed. Blessedly for me though, my apartment is located on the north side of the building and on a much higher floor, therefore other than the strong smell of smoke which lingered for almost two months, there was no damage to my apartment or personal belongings.
I had a lot of time that day to think about how lucky I was and how the ridiculously silly stuff I continually get upset about was nothing compared to what had happened that day. I mean, had the fire department not been so efficient, my entire apartment building could have been destroyed. I and the other tenants could have lost everything. And even worse, people could have lost their lives.
What I also felt very blessed for that day was the way in which the entire neighborhood came to our rescue to help in anyway they could. The grocery store around the corner sent over sandwiches so that we wouldn't go hungry. The bar on the corner where I live opened their doors at 9 AM so that we could have a place to sit and hangout for the day, instead of having to walk the streets. They also allowed us to use their restrooms and gave us food and bottled water.
I was so touched by the kindness and generosity of the neighborhood community.
And then of course three weeks later in October, another challenge presented itself. I was hospitalized for two weeks because of a severe infection in my left lung. But as you know, as scary as the experience was, I was well-taken care of by the hospital staff and completely recovered.
Earlier in the year, I also decided (without having another job lined up) to quit my job and find another one. Luckily and quickly, I did.
Yes, 2015 was a year of challenges that shook me in fear and tested my belief that all would be taken care of and I'd be okay.
And I was.
I think sometimes we need to have our world rocked to the core, so that we become more consciously aware of the many things we have to be grateful for because things could be worse. I also think it humbles us to mankind; realizing that there are truly good people in the world who sincerely care about others.
I was humbled and softened last year.
And I needed that.
To see how blessed I am.
Have a faaaantastic week everyone!