On Sept. 11, 2001, our country experienced the unthinkable: terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000. We continue to heal, but the scars are still with us. This column first ran in my newsletter 10 years ago, and captures both the spirit and the tragedy of those times:
Words cannot describe the horror, fear, sadness, anger, numbness and pain that virtually every one of us experienced as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Words could also not describe the heroism, love, caring, support and strengthened connection that we experienced as a country as people banded together to help one another during this crisis.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Windermere Real Estate was kicking off its annual three-day symposium for its agents. The gathering included some of the most notable names in the business, as well as a number of classes for those seeking Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI) and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designations. The planning for this event had taken months.
The opening session convened at 9 a.m. Pacific time. The 1,000-plus agents who had gathered for this event were riveted to the big-screen televisions broadcasting the unfolding tragedy.
The woman in charge stepped to the podium with tears streaming down her face. Instead of canceling the event, she said in a soft voice, "Let’s not let these (profanity omitted) ruin our week!"
She then raised her voice and shouted: "Let’s not let these (profanity omitted) ruin our week!"
The room stood and cheered.
Each of us has a decision to make. We can react with fear and let this event dominate us, or we can fight back by living our lives and doing whatever it takes to support our friends, neighbors and family during this painful time. If you need help coping, these 10 tips for handling a crisis can help.
First, each of us has a choice. Our actions have consequences. What we do to and for others is what comes back to us. What actions can you take in this time of crisis to start putting the pieces back together? Here is a small list of action steps that can help.
1. Take care of yourself
This is No. 1 and needs the full focus of your attention. Get plenty of rest and allow for things to take much longer than they normally would.
2. Take all nonessential items off your to-do list
Stay focused on what is really important and dump the rest for the next few weeks. Make sure everyone in your household does this as well. At this point, less is more.
3. Don’t make eating comfort food a new habit
In times of crisis, going for comfort food is a natural reaction. Don’t let this be the time where you began a downward spiral in your personal health because of the stress created by this event. There’s no better time than now to recommit to eating foods that support your energy and health.
4. Think locally, act locally
Now is not the time to focus on saving the world. Instead, avoid feeling helpless by focusing on what you can control in your own life and take action on that. You can support the massive relief efforts underway by contributing to organizations like the Red Cross.
5. Express gratitude daily
Each of us has many things to be grateful for and it is important to keep them in mind. Remember, what we give to others is what we get back.
6. Participate in activities that help you feel grounded
Step outside and spend time admiring the incredible beauty in nature. Go to a playground and watch the kids laughing and running. Go dancing. Dig in the garden. Read a wonderful book. Take a hot bath. Make dinner for a sick friend and tell that person how much you appreciate his or her friendship.
7. Renew your interest in a favorite hobby
Pick up that brush, pull out that old guitar, or find that special cookbook that belonged to your grandmother. Doing what you enjoy energizes and balances you.
8. Go out of your way to be courteous and kind to everyone
Challenging times call for us to be our best and to go even one step further. When we are under stress, minor things can trigger major reactions. Be aware of this and do your best not to create any more stress for the people with whom you come in contact.
9. Give 10 hugs a day
If you like hugs, you already know why this is important. If you are not the hugging type, maybe today is a good day to experiment.
There is always something to smile about. Cherish the joy of life and let your smile radiate out with love. Care as much for yourself as you do for others. By staying balanced and grounded, you support people around you to do the same. Over time, this has a bigger impact than might imagine.
If you have an inspirational story from 9/11, please share it in the comments. It’s our connection and support of each other that will help us weather whatever new challenges we will face, both individually as well as a country.