On the fourth day after Irene struck, we got our power back. It was a moment of celebration and relief mixed in with survivor’s guilt. We finally had access to the news and were able to see the images of the devastation Irene had inflicted. I couldn’t get them out of my head.

As the surge of excitement subsided, I realized how tired I was. Yet, things had to be taken care of. The refrigerator needed to be purged and scrubbed. The house needed to be vacuumed and the laundry sorted. I made a pot of Earl Grey tea and sat on my favorite chair on the deck to enjoy it. A hot cup of tea! Heavenly!

I took a few deep breaths and looked around. The pots of herbs and flowers on the deck had somehow survived Irene’s wrath. They were battered but not destroyed. The hummingbirds were zooming around me, letting me know that it was time for them to feed and I was in their way.

The rain that fell over the weekend was strong and relentless.  I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such rainfall. The winds were strong. Yet, here are these pots of basil, parsley, nasturtiums, and salvia. They’re still standing and blooming, maybe not brand new and glorious, but proud survivors.

As I reflected on the four days without power, I realized how time seemed to move slower than ever. Unplugged from all technology and forced to live in the moment, I was made to pay close attention to everything that I was doing, without taking anything for granted. Using water, eating, trying to maintain a certain order in our environment, reading under a candle, being with my family or sitting quietly . . . nothing was routine anymore.

Every little thing was to be examined, paid attention to, and observed carefully. In other words, I had to be mindful of how I moved, utilized my resources, and related to other people.

In the early hours of Monday morning, I woke up and looked out my bedroom window. 80% of our town had no power and it was really dark outside. I was astonished at the number of stars I could see. Standing there all alone, in the dark, looking up in the middle of the night reminded me of the wonder I used to feel when I was a child.

One of my daughters was awake too. I asked her to come outside with me. We wrapped ourselves in blankets and stood in the middle of the yard, stargazing. The expression on her face, the deep breath she took when she looked up . . . that moment was a gift.

The next evening, all four of us drove to an open field and lied down looking at the stars and trying to name the constellations.

There is always work to be done and yes, this is a crazy world we live in, filled with uncertainty and rapid change. Maybe that’s why we need to look up as often as possible, connect to all that’s great and powerful and allow our spirit to be restored.

As a life coach and retreat leader, Yota works with women seeking clarity, inspiration, and purpose in the midst of life changes. Her approach is intuitive and deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation.


  • Nancy

    What a lovely description of how we see our world when we're forced to "unplug;" how intentional we can be when we don't have the distractions and ease of technology. I love stargazing, but live in one of the most densely lit places in the world. We so very rarely lose power. Your words, though, reminded me of times when I was a child and in places dark enough where the night skies were dazzling. Thank you.

  • Yota Schneider

    Thank you for this comment, Nancy! There are times when we crave the "dark" time . . . to close our eyes, slow down, listen to our inner voice and renew ourselves. No distractions, no interruptions, no interferences, no background noise. Aaahhh!
    It seems, you may have to create your own blackout, somehow:-)

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