Learning to Bloom
By Kim O'Neill


It took a natural disaster for me to finally understand the concept of being able to "bloom where I was planted" and value each moment of my life.

Hurricane IkeWe live 80 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. In September, 2008, Hurricane Ike was barreling toward the coast, and my angels told me that if we rode out the storm none of us would be injured.

The night of the storm, our family of four hunkered down in the den in our sleeping bags. Anticipating that the situation might get scary, I tried to make a game out of it by suggesting to my 7-year-old daughter, Megan, and 8-year-old son, Flynn, that we were camping, like the Swiss Family Robinson. I was determined to remain positive and unafraid to help my children cope with whatever was going to come.

Before long, the winds picked up and heavy rains began to fall. With a loud unnerving roar, the neighborhood transformer shut down, and we lost our power. We huddled together in the darkness as the rains turned into thunderous bursts and the winds became tornadic.

At the height of the storm, the rain and wind were explosive. I heard an alarming creaky-door-sound, and then…CRACK! BOOM! A huge pine tree had fallen through the roof of our house! My husband and I scrambled to the second floor where water was pouring out of the light fixtures and air conditioning vents. Climbing into the pitch black attic, we were pelted by the driving rains, and I assisted while Britt created funnels from plastic lawn bags, and nailed them over the seven gaping holes in the roof to guide the heavy rainwater into pots, pans, and other containers. After that was done, I ran back downstairs to the children. My mind was racing! Despite what my angels had told me earlier about our safety, and my determination to remain positive and unafraid, I had become unhinged. The reality of our situation was that although the house could provide shelter from the rain, it was no match for the many pine trees surrounding our home. If any one of those huge trees fell upon the roof directly above us, it could easily slam through the ceiling—and kill us! We didn't have a basement or any inner rooms, except for a tiny pantry. There was nowhere to take the children that offered protection from the trees, and it was a terrible, helpless feeling.

Megan—inexplicably—had fallen fast asleep in spite of the storm, but Flynn was wide awake and cowering in fear. I guessed that he was sensing my feelings, which he often does. I looked into his big brown eyes and knew what I had to do…I lied. Holding him close, I promised that I would never allow anything to hurt him or Megan. I felt horribly guilty making that promise, knowing that I had absolutely no control over what would happen next. With each powerful gust of wind, the trees creaked, snapped, and fell. I held Flynn in my arms as the storm continued to rage all night long.

Hurrican Ike AftermathAlthough we sustained substantial damage to the house, we remained safe and uninjured, and the storm finally passed. The next morning, the yard looked like a war zone. Downed trees and limbs were everywhere. The kids began to cry when they saw their swing set lying in pieces amid the other debris. There was no electricity or water, and temperatures were expected to climb into the 90s—with equal levels of humidity.


We drank bottled water, and flushed toilets with the buckets of water that I had collected before the storm. My husband, a hurricane veteran from his years in Louisiana, was stoic and seemingly unfazed. I, however, had been utterly traumatized. My babies could have been killed!


All we had was intermittent cell phone service, and we felt almost completely cut off from the outside world. We decided to carefully explore the area. In our minivan we inched our way around downed trees; dangling power lines; roofing, fence, and signage debris; and the toppled telephone poles that littered the streets. Gas stations, convenience stores, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, and schools were all closed, and eerily dark and empty. It was a very sobering sight.

We did not own a generator, so we were forced to throw away all of the perishables in the refrigerator and freezer. We ate crackers, apples, and peanut butter at every meal, happy to have them. By candlelight, we took sponge baths with buckets of cold water. Soaked drywall littered the downstairs and the foul odor of mold and mildew began to permeate the house.

A week after the storm, we still had no power, landline telephone service, or water. Although it was nearly 11 p.m., Flynn asked if we could have a family game night. We couldn't really sleep because of the oppressive heat and humidity, so I reluctantly agreed. Feeling traumatized and very depressed, I wasn't in the mood to play bingo. The kids eagerly assembled the lantern and the game pieces on the kitchen table, and the four of us took our seats in the heat and the semidarkness.

blooming"Aaaah, this is the life!" said Flynn, with a smile.


"What do you mean?" I asked, unable to comprehend what he meant.


"I'm having a great time!" he announced.


"Me, too!" said Megan with a grin.


"But...how?" I asked. "After the ordeal we've just been through?"


"Mom—that was days ago!" replied Megan. "Except for our swing set, we're okay! And we don't have to go to school!"


I stared back at her dumbly.


"Look at all of the family time that we have now!" Flynn pointed out. "Playing bingo by camp light, sleeping on the floor in our sleeping bags, doing man's work cleaning up the yard, cold baths like an army guy, and peanut butter and crackers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! This is the best time I've ever had!"


"Yeah!" exclaimed Megan. "Mommy—you have to turn your brain off! You're being negative! It's an adventure, like the Swiss Family Robinson...remember? We're having fun! Why aren't you?"

I realized that the universe had provided just the practice I needed to really learn how to "bloom" regardless of what was going on around me. And my children were wise enough to see what I couldn't. Suddenly, I understood what "blooming" really meant. Instead of choosing to focus on all of the negative things that had just happened—which I had no power to change—I could choose to shift my focus to all of the things that I had to be grateful for.

Kim ONeillKim O'Neill has conducted psychic readings for over 25 years for international clientele and is the author of four books, including The Calling: My Journey with the Angels. Kim hosts online teleseminars and in-person national motivational workshops, writes "Ask Kim," a monthly advice column for the Indigo Sun Magazine, produces a YouTube "webisode" called Connecting You With Spirit, and has appeared on radio and television talk shows, providing audience members with channeled information covering a wide range of topics. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and their two children. Learn more about Kim at her website www.kimoneillpsychic.com.