I’m a 35 year old single mother and interior designer living in Long Beach, NY, a tiny vibrant beach community just 25 miles outside of Manhattan where I resided for 15 years. I left the East Village neighborhood I called home since my college days to raise my son in a safer, more mellow environment, where the public schools thrive on community involvement and neighbors just stop by without calling…..not to mention the beautiful beach just a block from our house that feeds our souls year-round. It was a challenging but fresh start that I’m proud to have made for him and myself 3+ years ago. We finally felt “home.”
But just a month or so ago, Sandy hit and our little one-story shack in the West End of Long Beach filled with 4’ of bay and sewer water, destroying many of our physical possessions and rendering us homeless. In the following days as I picked through the remains, I was reminded that we still had all that really mattered: each other along with the fervent will to rebuild and restore our lives. As a passionate environmentalist, I was also reminded of the power of mother nature, the chilling impact recent generations have had on the planet, and how important it is to continue to be conscious of this every single day. So when I saw that an eco-friendly version of the Holstee Manifesto had been released, it was the first purchase I made for our home, even though we are still several weeks away from being able to return to it, and despite the fact that we have no beds and very little furniture yet. Its message was so poignant to me and so aligned with my core values that I knew it had to be the first thing to go back up on our new walls. I even plan on crafting a frame for it from Sandy wood scraps. It will be a permanent commemoration of this turning point in our lives, keeping the blessed reminders this act of nature brought always fresh in our minds, and an homage to my own strength and vitality and that of my beautiful community here.
My son’s elementary school was also wiped out and its reopening date is still pending…..next March, April, May….who knows? I plan on buying a print for their main office whenever that time comes (maybe just the pared down “Live Your Dream” message); his school is the backbone of our community here and probably one of our lives’ biggest losses at this point. The Holstee Manifesto encapsulates many of the messages the school imprints on our children on a weekly basis and it, or a part of it, will be right at home on its walls.
My personal favorite line is “Getting lost will help you find yourself.” Sandy forced much loss and nothing will ever be the same, however I’m more rooted in my authentic self than ever before. Sandy helped show me what matters most, who my real friends are, why I hold certain beliefs and what beliefs needed to be questions, how strong we all have the capacity to be, and that much needed to be purged to leave behind more love and faith than I ever imagined. Self found, indeed.
The attached photo is of me and my 7 year old son Ryder just 2 days before the hurricane approached, celebrating my 35th birthday together at my favorite restaurant, blissfully unaware of the journey we’d soon be embarking on.