(In July of 2012, my family and I began a new adventure. We moved 1800 miles from our beloved Northern California to the gorgeous deep red plains of Oklahoma. We live in the city of Norman, a mere five minute drive from where the May 20th, 2013 tornado hit Moore.)
I first want to say thank you, again and again and again and again, to everyone who has called, texted, emailed, contacted me via facebook, twitter, or any other possible method to see that my family and I were alright, to send love, to send prayer, to send hugs and help hold emotional space with me. I cannot tell you with words, how deeply important that is for me, in more ways than I can measure.
Secondly, I want to thank everyone who has donated thus far to the tornado relief efforts on the ground. Many of us local and in the area, have been working with grassroots relief efforts to get the people what they need, and I have been overwhelmed by the support in this.
It's really difficult for me to write this. I've been avoiding it all week -- partially because I've been too busy with everything else to actually sit down and focus, but mostly because I just didn't want to think about it.
I know that might sound strange. I mean, how can I be involved and not actually think about it? But trust me, it can be done. You just keep moving, move move move, do do do, act and don't think at all. It's a weird place to be for someone who lives so much inside her brain.
My life has been in a high volume cycle the past couple of months; lots of scary events and family/personal crisis, lots of transition, lots of unknown territory with no handbook per usual. It has frequently felt like a storm, and I am always caught in the eye of it.
So, when an actual physical event like Monday's occurs, when that storm is no longer metaphorical and it is all funnel cloud and debris, all grey sky and chaos at the schools where you are trying to pick up your children, all traffic jam and nearly being run off the road, all humid get in the cellar madness -- when that happens -- I'm not really sure I know at all what goes on inside my head; inside anyone's. You just act. You just move. You just do. You get to safety. You survive. You pray. And when it passes, just barely missing you, you pray some more. And when you hear of the devastation just a few miles away, when you learn of the leveled town, the children who did not escape, were not picked up from school, are not going home with their families, have no families, have no homes, you cry and cry and cry and hug your babies and then you try and figure out what you can do to help everyone else. At least, that's what happened for me.
There was maybe a 24 hour period (if that) of breathing before I absolutely had to get moving; couldn't just sit stagnant -- because of my autoimmune condition, there are times I don't have the energy for things I desperately want to be able to do; I take advantage of the bursts when they come. Moments are precious.
The first thing I did was make some changes on my website and let everyone know that the monies from everything purchased and donated there would benefit the tornado survivors. I got with local leaders in my community and asked what was needed and moved to do my best to be a part of the solution to help fill those needs. I reached out to my national and international communities for help. I opened my heart as much as I possibly could, which is quite a bit, if you know how already open it is on a regular basis.
And the universe does amazing things when you open your heart.
In this case, it brought a wonderful woman, named Kat Sanford, and I together as partners in this mission. And you can read about what we have been doing here and here. This woman, I do not know what I'd do if she hadn't messaged me at just the right time. I tell you, I do not believe in coincidence or accidental happenings. It's all so full of synchronicity if you open your eyes.
My eyes are open.
We still need your help, loves. Because in a few weeks, when so many have forgotten about what has happened here, when it is not a regular part of the daily news feed, or right in front of everyone's faces. When you cannot take a drive right into Moore or surrounding areas like I can (and have) and see the devastation first hand, when the larger organizations cannot handle all the weight (which is something that is already happening), the people who need our help will still be here and they will fall through the cracks if we do not help them; if we do not help ourselves.
Every single day there are hundreds of causes, millions of people all over the country and the world that need us to pull together. You have to give and put in effort where your heart leads you. What I am asking, is if it leads you here and you are able, to please consider giving to our efforts so we can continue to help little by little to contribute to the bigger picture. We are all so mighty when we come together.
Practically speaking, the biggest items I am being told are needed right now, are gas cards and visa gift cards. People need fuel and they need to be able to pick out some necessities for themselves. And let me tell you why that's so important:
A couple of years ago, I was in a situation where my family and I had to start all over again, where I was dependent on this exact sort of aid from community to help us get on our feet, and I cannot fully express with words the kind of thing it means to your dignity and self worth as a person, to simply be able to go to a store and pick out the things you need on your own, verses being told what those things are for you. So give what you CAN, of course -- if it's in the form of items and goods you already have, contact Kat or I for a mailing/shipping address, if it's cash, again - mail a check or paypal me here, and if you have gas cards, gift cards, or are able to acquire some, please send those right along.
Your generosity is not taken for granted and I promise you, everything you send, I receive and take straight to a drop off site where it is immediately delivered to people who need it most.
I also want to make sure you have as many ways to donate directly to the people as possible. Local Oklahoma City poet and activist, Lauren Zuniga, is accepting donations on behalf of tornado relief, the same as I am. She will deliver those funds and items to the people as well if you choose to donate through her site. If you'd like to check out her info, click here.
We are grateful. Our hearts are enormous; we are spilling over with love and hope and the true core and beauty of the human spirit in the midst of all this tragedy and debris. Today, I am honored to be an honorary "Oklahomie." Today, I am simply thankful to be.
Edit 10/2/13: This is a long overdue thank you to everyone who purchased my music and poetry and/or made donations during the after math of the Moore tornadoes. All monies and items were donated to relief funds or used directly to assist survivors. If you donated and would like to see pictures of goods and/or receipts, please send me an email via my contact page and I will gladly send those to you. Gratitude is a word too small to express the overwhelming feeling. Massive love, Sarah