I live in Oregon, and this September Oregon is burning. So is California and Washington. The entire West Coast is ablaze.
In Southern Oregon we are used to having forest fires around us in the late summer. We live in a beautiful part of the country, which means we have lush thick forests with an abundance of wonderful trees. Hence, in the late summer they sometimes burn.
However, the Oregon Department of Fire does a terrific job of keeping us safe and things under control.
This year has been different, because we had several human-caused fires in our valley. It was on a very windy day and the fire raced through two of our towns, burning everything in its path. It destroyed over 2,357 homes and over 100 businesses in a matter of hours, and turned away from us just a few miles from our home.
We were given a few minutes to evacuate, and were suddenly confronted with what to take and what to leave behind. I had to ask myself, what is REALLY important in my life?
Of course, my husband, our daughter and son-in-law who live a couple of miles away, and their animals, were at the top of my priority list. Then we had to gather our important papers (fortunately most of them are stored in a small fireproof safe that we could grab and put in the car), medications and a couple of changes of clothing. I also grabbed the backup for my office computer, and my laptop and cell phone.
We had no time to take the treasures of our hearts, photo albums, family heirlooms and things that held a lifetime of significance.
We spent the night with friends in a neighboring town, not knowing if we had a home to return to. The next day we were relieved to return home and find our house still standing. We are so fortunate to have been spared by the fire. But this situation has made me get clear about what is most important in my life. It turns out it’s really quite simple.
I find I often get so caught up in minutia and become stressed over things that seem crucial. Then something life shattering happens and everything is put into perspective. The things that seemed of great consequence, like writing more articles, reaching more people, or remodeling the house instantly fade away. What’s left are the people in my life and my relationships with them.
The reality for all of us is it’s about the people. Family, friends, colleagues and the world community are what life is about. You can have all the riches and possessions available, but if you don’t show your love and respect and give time to those around you, you have nothing.
I’m wondering where you put your time and energy. Do your relationships come first, or do you assume they will always be there, and put them at the bottom of your priority list?
From now on I know I will make sure to be gentle with the people in my life, always part on good terms, and verbalize my love and appreciation at every opportunity. They are the greatest gift, and what it is really all about.
Sandy is a best-selling author, life and business coach, speaker, and Licensed Counselor. She specializes in working with professionals, entrepreneurs and people dealing with life transitions, and is the author of the Amazon bestseller Feeling Good About You and Moving Up to Management for New Supervisors (both available on Amazon.com). Please visit Sandy on her website at www.insidejobscoach.com to check out her books and free resources, and sign up for her Free Newsletter .