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Time to clear out the clutter

Personal growth: this avocado tree in the Crystal Cave’s garden lost four of its branches in different hurricanes. It is still alive, strong and fruitful(Photograph supplied)

Relentless Hurricane Nicole ran into a beautiful and flourishing Bermuda rapidly and unexpectedly. It was some kind of unfathomable mystery of nature. Why, from all the vast expanse of the ocean, did this hurricane pick as its target our tiny island?Salty vortices furiously raged on the island for several hours and brutally seared the plants with salt. I arrived on the island the day after the hurricane and did not recognise it. My indescribably beautiful island that was full of lush greenery, bright and exotic colours and marvellous scents, was lost.Wiry sticks of brown-yellow grass, sad and drooping oleanders deprived of their bright pink blossoms, distressed trees with fresh traces of broken branches. The wind blew away showy white, yellow, pink, and purple flowers from beautifully manicured bushes. The island became a stranger to me. It looked sick, joyless and miserable. And my beloved ocean, usually in transparent turquoise, was dark grey and angry, throwing big waves on deserted beaches.I gasped loudly when I saw our home garden. It met us with almost bare bushes, the few brown leaves twisted as though from pain. They were bright yellow and lush before I left the island. I planted and nurtured them for four long years, and they made me smile every time I looked at them. A towering frangipani tree, that before was covered with dark green glossy leaves and delicate white flowers, stood naked and defenceless. Instead of delicate petals, dry sharp branches jutted out from the clay pots, as though surrendering in defeat.I said to myself in deep despair, “I will not plant flowers anymore. I cannot see them die. I have no strength to start all over again. Let all remain as it is.”I began to think how hurricanes can resemble sudden trouble or illness that happens to us. How we looked and felt before can be dramatically changed, literally in a jiffy. In that moment, our despair can be so strong that we forget that the storm will pass. We will not be the same as before, but even better and stronger. In many people, the pain of loss and hurt awakens their best qualities.When there are storms in our lives, it clears out the clutter and confusion in our personal garden, and leaves behind what is important. We see things clearly, and it gives us the room to grow. When you become seriously ill, you realise what a gift good health is, how it is far more important than your other dramas. Hardship can arrive like a hurricane, suddenly and unpredictably. In its wake, you are left with a vision of what is essential to your happiness. Where do we get the strength to endure a difficult period in our lives? How do we find hope and faith? How do we not break under the storm of problems in our lives?There is a proven way — to act. Not to complain, cry and wait for the situation to correct itself. Just like we act after a hurricane. We take the rake and begin to clear the garden. We snatch the dead flowers. We hose the garden with fresh water to wash off the salt. We begin to think about the coming of spring, when we will see which plants have survived, and which have not. We go to the store and buy new plants that will have a better chance of living through the next hurricane. And when spring arrives, plant a new garden of beautiful flowers.•Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: www.ninalondon.com[naviga:ul][naviga:li][/naviga:li][/naviga:ul]