Friday, December 8, 2017

California Fires: Financial, Psychological, And Spiritual Reminders

I'm not a religious man, but I'm a Jesus follower and I believe in a higher being.  I have my reasons to beef with organized religion, but I respect and tolerate those that are devout, insert your religion here.  In times like the type my fellow So Cal residents and I have had these past two weeks, it's understandable to try to seek answers from anywhere for the devastation and suffering.  My wife, for example, can't stop contemplating what just happened to her friends whose million-dollar-plus home was burned down in a matter of minutes near the start of the W. Lilac (Bonsall, CA) fire.  "Much more than the financial of losing your home, I can't fathom how I'd respond emotionally to this," she said empathetically, with her eyes watering.

Image result for lilac fires map

Our home is about 3 miles west from the mandatory evacuation zone.  We didn't get an evacuation mandate or warning message from the authorities, like many of my friends did.  Nonetheless, we packed just in case, some clothes and our important paperwork, and went to sleep with a whole lot of nervous tension.  The Santa Ana winds died down more than expected last night, and my family was able to wake up in our home this morning.  We know we're lucky, figuratively speaking.  Some 4,100 acres and more than 20 structures were burned locally.  If this weren't sad enough, the loss of multiple, and expensive race horses will surely tug at your heart strings.

The Psychology and Spirituality of Trauma

Horses are the livelihood of many S. Californians.  They're also members of the family, like your dog and cat would be.  When these beautiful animals are taken from their owners in such a horrible way, there's plenty reason to be upset at life, God, you name it.  Losing a home, no matter its monetary value, is also cause to feel wretched and cursed.  And so I was reminded this morning of the story of Job, that biblical masterpiece of a man who lost it all, but became the example of the concept of devotion.  The story of Job is also a psychological gem, filled with tips on the mindset of success after trauma.  For example,

1) You're not being punished.  You didn't do anything to deserve your trauma.  Whatever you do, don't feel guilty about what happened!

2) Be careful not to give your "friends" too much credence.  They may pollute your mind with erroneous consolations, e.g., "this is all part of God's plan."  Reject their harsh arguments for why things happened the way they did!

3)  None of us will never know why terrible things happen to good people.  Trauma simply happens, and we have to accept it without becoming its victim.

4) Measure yourself by what you do when the going gets (extremely) tough, and not by what out-of-your-control thing happens to you.  From a traumatic experience, you may gain some real wisdom and strength of character.

Image result for trauma

From The Psychological And Spiritual To The Financial

I went outside my home this morning (school is closed so I have the day off) to smell the fresh air, except it wasn't so fresh.  I saw the ash on my car, the trees, lawn, and on the walls of my home and thought: Insurance!  We're not out of the woods yet.  The fire is nowhere near contained.  The winds are going to be returning with a vengeance over the weekend.  This momentary calm within the firestorm has given me time to look over my Allstate Home policy.  I haven't looked at it in two years!  Have you reviewed your home insurance policy lately?

Chances are the value of your home has gone up.  Have you contacted your insurance agent to make necessary adjustments to replacement value and contents?  You should also check on your Additional Living Expense (ALE) limits.  With housing starts being on the rise, getting a project completed on time may be difficult in certain cities, meaning, 12-month rent coverage may not be enough.  Increasing your insurance needs will raise your premium.  But listen, would you rather be uninsured?  Southern Californians need to heed this warning to look over their home policy more than any other American!  This Do's and Don'ts When Insuring Your Home article is an excellent resource to read today!


Wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, etc., will happen.  They may take our possessions, loved ones, and pets, but they can never take our thoughts, unless we let them.  We have control over our thoughts; in fact, that's really the only thing we have control over.  Grieve as long as you need to, but don't live the life of a victim.  That type of life is not worth living.

Still, if you feel the trauma you're currently experiencing is too much to bear, get help from an online therapist.  Convenience and therapy all in one!

Before I go I'd like to give a huge shout out to all of the first responders out there helping to put out these infernos.  Mad love and respect!  Thanks for reading and stay safe out there.              

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