Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Cyclone Yasi Has Changed Me By Shaking Me To My Core

If you had to choose from your belongings what would you keep and what could you do without? What would you choose? It is a commonly asked question and people usually reply with photo albums, important documents and jewellery. I had a whole day to choose what to take with me before Cyclone Yasi hit. All evidence was pointing towards us losing our home and everything in it and so I had to decide what I would take with me because that would be all I had. I took some books, my cameras, external hard drives, important documents, toiletries, clothes, tools and food. 

Carting all of these belongings to and from the boat had me thinking about how I have too much stuff. I've realised what little use most of my possessions are. I no longer need to hold onto all of them. I made snap decisions about which things I really needed during that one day of packing. I don't need so much stuff. For so long the thought of 'Oh, but I might use it one day' has hindered me. Not anymore. 

I've spent the last week unpacking. It has taken me so long because as I unpacked, I de-cluttered my life - big time. I tried to be as ruthless as possible. If I'd left an item behind on the boat during the evacuation, then it meant that I didn't really need it. I took bags of books and things to the laundry room here in the marina. I filled garbage bags with clothes which are waiting to go to the Salvo's or Lifeline. I threw away half of the stuff from my bathroom cupboard. I sent a few things home to family and friends. I went through files and chucked out so much paperwork into the recycling bins that I've reduced our important documents down to one file, not two. I was going to chuck out most of my stationary too until I remembered that it is a suggested trading item/gift to take to Indonesia. So I've saved the excess stationary and art supplies to give away while we're travelling.
Just some of the stuff I've uncluttered from my life.
Stuff isn't important. Life is important. People are far more important than things. I have always tried to communicate and connect with others and want to do this more and more. This blog is a way of sharing and I want to share my life with as many lovely people in as many ways as I can.
Our Anima - when we first returned to her post Yasi :)
I'm not so afraid any more. Cyclone Yasi shook me to my core. For the first time ever, I was really concerned about losing my life (I'm sure I've come close before but not realised it). I had a few days of knowing that I could die. An experience I don't wish to repeat. There were no flights left out of Townsville and I wasn't in a position to just drive south like so many others were doing. I had to stay. I remember having a pep talk to myself in the mirror at one point, just a few hours before Yasi really hit. I told myself that I was going to survive. I discovered (like so many do when placed in life-death situations) that I was going to put everything I had into living. Of course, in hindsight, I wasn't really in that much danger. The cyclone hit us at a category 3 rating and the house we sheltered in was very safe. But at the time, all of the warnings about the cyclone were so scary and persistent. They were telling us that 'many lives would be lost' and that it was 'extremely life threatening'. I really was afraid for my life for a while.
But back to my point. I'm not so fearful anymore of silly things like noises in the night, the dark, confrontations, strangers, jellyfish, being alone, getting sick, having children, sailing etc. etc. etc... The only thing that still frightens me is cyclones. For the last few days, I've checked BOM for the latest cyclone watch. Each time I see this image, I let out a massive sigh and really relax.

I love seeing this on
I also realised that I do still want to be artistic. I want to make films and images. I filmed as much of the process (before, during and after Cyclone Yasi) as I could and loved it. I used to love making films but when I taught film to highschool students, it became work and work became stress. All of my creative energy was poured into my students and I had no time or ideas for myself. Yasi has reminded me of one of my passions. I need to give myself permission to take time to pursue my creativity. The time is now - not in the future. Live the life I want NOW, not after I've done everything on my 'to do' list.


  1. You Go Girl !!! I love you beyond words. I am so happy for you. It is like you have been re-born, look at all the positives you have discovered!! X M.

  2. glad you guys are ok and that everything worked out well. The dream is still alive & kicking!
    All the best, Karen & Andrew SV Utopia II