Your Courageous Heart and a Hurricane Harvey Story

Happy Fall Dear Ones! 

I hope the season is off to a fantastic start for you! I had a great summer and feel energized and ready for all kinds of great stuff I’ll be sharing with you in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for some happy announcements coming your way. 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know I was in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. That week was unlike anything I ever thought I would experience. So, I wanted to share a personal story with you about my experience through the storm.

Recently, I was honored to be asked to write the foreword for my dear friend Linda Joy’s fantastic new book (just released!) Courageous Hearts: Soul Nourishing Stories to Inspire You to Embrace Your Fears and Follow Your Dreams. It just happened that it was due just after the hurricane, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen more Courageous Hearts in one place than I did in Houston that week. The foreword I wrote tells just a bit of that story, and how I was touched by the strength, courage, and resilience of incredible people who lost so much during such a terrible natural disaster.

I wanted to share this foreword with you all here on the blog, both as a tribute to my friends in Texas and as a small peek into how wonderful (and much needed!) this new book is.

Courageous Hearts Foreword:

When Linda Joy called me to ask if I would write the foreword for this book, I’d just arrived in Houston to visit my boyfriend for a couple of weeks. It was one of those perfectly beautiful Texas mornings. A warm tropical breeze was kissing the Gulf Coast, and as we spoke, I watched joyful sea birds dance across the marina. We had no idea Hurricane Harvey was on the way.

That day I thought about what I might want to say about strength, courage, and going after dreams. Little did I know that I was about to witness some of the greatest examples of these things that I could have ever imagined―and that, through that experience, I would know just what I wanted to share with the readers of this book.

Then came the hurricane. Those first few days were turbulent and frightening to say the least. Thankfully, the water stopped rising before it entered our place, but all around us was devastating peril and destruction.

We couldn’t stay put. People needed help.

We spent the next few days wading through floodwaters, doing everything from volunteer search and rescue efforts to removing wet, muddy drywall, flooring, and belongings from the flooded homes of complete strangers who had lost everything. I lost count of how many times my heart cracked open that week.

On one of the days, we packed and delivered hot meals for families and volunteers who were hard at work gutting the ravaged homes. I held back tears as we slowly drove through toxic waters down one long road. As far as the eye could see, there were massive, silt-covered piles, each of which had once been the entire contents of a home. Street after street, neighborhood after neighborhood, the front yards and sidewalks had all been turned into temporary landfills.

As we passed the school bus-sized heaps, I spotted the unsalvageable ruins of heirloom furniture, wedding photos, children’s toys, handmade quilts, and other very personal items amongst the debris. These were not just things; these were memories. Treasures. Small pieces of people’s hearts. Suddenly, the souls in this community were no longer strangers to me, but family.

As I watched so many people scrambling to clear out each home before dangerous mold and bacteria could take over, there was a distinct sadness in the air that I could feel in my bones. But, beneath the palpable sorrow, there was also something more.

When I tuned in mindfully and looked closer at what was going on, I began to notice inspiring signs that these brave warriors had no intention of letting Hurricane Harvey destroy their lives. In fact, many of them were making incredibly courageous, immediate decisions to daringly begin again―to dream again, despite their great loss. They were safe, and that’s what truly mattered.

Some people even managed to find humor by placing signs on their giant piles of destruction that read, “Garage Sale” and “Yard of the month.” Yes, there were tears and loss, but there was also hope, resilience, and tens of thousands of courageous hearts unified in love, kindness, and determination.

A week later, the airport re-opened and I headed home to L.A., physically and spiritually exhausted. As my plane took off over the ravaged city that was now part of me forever, I thought of all those people below who were faced with starting over. It occurred to me how, just a few years ago, I too made a brave choice to start over after my life had been temporarily destroyed in a much different way.

When my decade-long marriage ended, I was broken, grief-stricken, and financially devastated. The life I knew, the man I loved, and the future I’d been planning were all gone in an instant. This was not how I’d imagined my life would be at forty. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I did know one thing; I had a choice to make. I could wither away into bitterness, or bravely face the heartache and fear that had engulfed me, and find the strength to rebuild and the fortitude to thrive once more. I chose to rebuild, and thrive.

Five years have passed since those first days when I felt like my life was over. Looking at my life now, I’m in awe of the courage, strength and endurance I’ve found within to not only survive, but also flourish! Since then I’ve traveled the world, written a best-selling book, created a new level of abundance, forgiven myself for some unfortunate mistakes, and learned to love and have compassion for myself in completely new ways. In the words of poet Kaci Diane, “I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her!

It takes tremendous courage to start over or go after a dream. When a devastating life event or huge change occurs, it’s not just about choosing to start over once, in one pivotal moment, but actually finding the strength to make that choice again and again until you’re where you want to be.

There will be setbacks along the path. You may need to recover from, and learn from, a few wrong decisions, or huge losses that are no fault of your own. And, you will likely get to know yourself all over again through it, because by the end of the road, you won’t be the same person you once were.

The incredible women who share their stories in this book have faced their greatest fears, survived great loss and heartache, and made incredibly valiant choices in the pursuit of their dream lives. I know you’ll find each story to be a captivating and empowering read; a few of them may even remind you of something you’ve experienced in your own life.

We never know how brave we are until we’re faced with unexpected loss―like the incredibly strong survivors of Hurricane Harvey and other natural disasters―or until the desire to change our lives becomes so strong that the pain of taking the leap is far less than the pain of staying put.

If you’re going through a challenging time, working to build up the courage to go after a dream you’ve been longing to pursue, or just looking to make some big, positive changes in your life, you’ll find wonderful guidance and inspiration in the pages of this book. Let them ignite your soul, and remind you what a brave, powerful, gifted spirit you are!

Whatever you’re facing now or might face in the future, you’ll always make it through stronger and brighter if you persevere, make daring choices, and find it within you to trust your very own Courageous Heart.

With love and gratitude,

Kristi

Kristi Ling – Bestselling author of Operation Happiness – The 3 Step Plan to Creating a Life of Lasting Joy, Abundant Energy, and Radical Bliss (Rodale Books)

For information on how to help with hurricane relief, visit this post.

Order your copy of Courageous Hearts Here:

 

Meet the Author

Kristi Ling

Kristi Ling is a happiness strategist, internationally known life and business coach, bestselling author, and inspirational speaker who works with individuals and organizations on building a firm foundation for lasting happiness and success. She has been featured in numerous media outlets such as Woman’s Day, Oxygen, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Reader’s Digest, and Women’s Health. Her popular TEDx Talk on The Power of Re-Thinking Happiness has been shared across social media, and she has appeared as a keynote speaker for major companies and events. Her first book, Operation Happiness – The 3-Step Plan to Creating a Life of Lasting Joy, Abundant Energy, and Radical Bliss was chosen by Success Magazine as one of the best books of 2016 to make you successful. It’s available now wherever books and audiobooks are sold.

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