Reality Hits Home

November 08, 2017

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Twenty-five years ago, Queen Elizabeth caused a stir when she began her yearly address by saying, “Nineteen-ninety-two has turned out to be an “annus horribilis” (Latin for “horrible year”). I think, in some ways, we could say the same about 2017.

The Windsor Castle fire in 1992

What surprised everyone was the Queen’s candor and honesty. In addition to family problems she had seen Windsor Castle, her childhood home, go up in flames just four days before. Reality had really hit home and, like all of us, she was deeply affected.

Which brings me to this observation: seeing or reading about an event on TV, the Internet or whatever is quite different from experiencing it firsthand – images are etched on one’s mind forever.


I had never experienced this type of weather until Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and I’ll never forget it. Reality hit when the electricity went off – and stayed off in our area for seven days. This meant no lights, no TV, no fridge and no computer. Lesson learned: make sure to purchase batteries, candles, candleholders and a box of matches ahead of time (those little matchbooks vanish quickly). When the power was finally restored at 4 am I could hear cheering outside. It was like New Year’s Eve.

This year devastating hurricanes hit Texas, Florida and many islands in the Caribbean with record-breaking fury. After one swept through Barbuda, the island was uninhabitable. It has no residents for the first time in 300 years.

Houses and cars badly damaged after a hurricane

We spent our honeymoon on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and it really saddened me to see the destruction that a 185-miles-per-hour wind could do. I’m positive that, even after repairs are made, the images will remain forever in the minds of the survivors.


New York City has had several citywide blackouts – I’ve never experienced this elsewhere. The one thing that I really remember was how none of the traffic lights worked. It’s incredible what one takes for granted. That said I was amazed at how fast people reacted. Many good-hearted souls just got out in the middle of the road and started directing traffic.


Yes, we had an earthquake in New York City. It was on August 23, 2011 when I was working at an ad agency located on the 24th floor of a building on Fifth Avenue and 28th Street. We all thought we were imaging things when the floor started to shake. Word quickly went out that we had to leave so we all went down the stairway for twenty-four floors (and walked like 90-year-olds for the next two days).

Ours was very mild compared to the ones that happen in Mexico City. When my husband and I visited this city I remember a young man talking to us about earthquakes there. He pointed to a great-looking park with trees, grass, shrubbery and flowers that was across the street and said, “See that park? That used to be the Regis Hotel.” We were flabbergasted! An earthquake leveled a luxury hotel! Of course, the 2017 quake in this fair city has been even worse.


No one will ever forget the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. That was horrific. Shortly after it happened, I turned a corner by St. Vincent’s Hospital and saw roughly fifty doctors and nurses with stretchers all lined up outside – and all looking south. I wondered why everyone was looking in the same direction and then it hit me, “My God, they’re waiting for the ambulances coming up from The World Trade Center.”

One World Trade Center – The Freedom Tower 

It was erected after 9/11, the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil -- ever


I’ve never been in a serious plane situation except for the time I was on a plane going from Vancouver to a destination 500 miles away near the US/Canada border. We were in a smaller aircraft than a jet and halfway there when the pilot announced we were making an emergency landing.

He was very calm about the whole incident and explained that another plane would be coming to pick us up. As we were leaving the plane I learned we had hit a Canada goose (not Canadian, “Canada” is correct).

The Canada Goose

When I started across the tarmac I decided to do something very foolish. I turned around and looked at the plane. It had a huge hole in the side of it – I almost passed out when I saw it.

I have since learned that bird strikes are rarely dangerous – unless you’re a bird, that is.

UPDATE: Puerto Rico getting hit by two devastating hurricanes, the slaughter in Las Vegas, the forest fire in Napa Valley and the October 31st NYC terrorist attack have definitely made 2017 an “annus horribilis”. 

Shaun Nelson-HenrickSaveSave

1 Response


November 12, 2017

Having just read this blog the take away for me is to live each day thankful for peace and stability and appreciation and love for those around you. As identified life can be so fragile some days whether it be mother nature or terrorism run amok.

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