22 February

February 22, 2019 Reflections

World Thinking Day / Christchurch Earthquake 8th Anniversary

This date has been a day of reflection for as long as I can remember.  As a child, I was a Brownie, and a Girl Guide, and so this was Thinking Day (now known as World Thinking Day) for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.  February 22 was chosen as Thinking Day in 1926, as it was the joint birthday of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, the founders of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements.

The purpose of the day is for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world to reach out, in their MINDS, and give uplifting sympathy and friendship to each other.  And by doing so, in an unseen, spiritual way, go with the highest and best to spread true peace and goodwill on Earth.

Reference: https://www.wagggs.org/en/what-we-do/world-thinking-day/history/

Lessons from my Childhood

Both my parents, at different stages of their lives, held leadership positions in either the Boy Scouts or the Girl Guides.  They chose to send their daughters to Brownies and Girl Guides because the movement, even back in the 1970s and 1980s, supported girls to take action, to be leaders, and to be of service to the community we were part of.

My three sisters and I were raised to do our best, to be true to ourselves and our beliefs, and to live by The Guide Law.  While the Guide Promise and Guide Law have been modernised, and regionalised, the foundations haven’t changed. We promised to be self-sufficient, to respect others, and our environment.  We were taught to take ownership of, and be accountable and responsible for our actions, our communications, our thoughts and feelings.

These are good things to focus on this World Thinking Day and Christchurch Earthquake Anniversary Day.  To reflect on, and think about our lives, and how we can use our knowledge, experiences, skill-sets, wisdom, ideas and narratives to be of service to our communities, our societies, our countries, and our planet.

Lessons from the Christchurch Earthquake, and the past 8 years

Which brings me to the reason I sat down to write in the first place.  Eight years ago, on World Thinking Day, at 12:51 p.m. the world for the people in Christchurch collapsed.  The 6.3* magnitude Earthquake struck, shaking the region so violently buildings and hills collapsed. *In recent months, Geonet New Zealand has downgraded the Christchurch Earthquake to 6.2 Magnitude.

I've taken time today to pause and reflect not only on the past eight years, but also on my whole life before that, and the hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that have followed since the Earthquake shattered my world.

I now have clarity on how the foundations, values and beliefs my parents and Girl Guides taught me, have guided me.  They were the reason why I made 3 promises in February 2011 to the victims, survivors, and responders.

Over the years, since the Earthquake, after networking and working with the Victim's families, crush injured and other survivors, and the response community, I have a clear definition of the differences between “Victims” “Survivors” and “Responders”.

  • Victims are the people killed by a disaster, accident, crime, or other event.
  • Survivors are the people who escape death. They have a second chance at life.  They have the opportunity to face and overcome the challenges that follow.  Some go on to pursue their dreams.  Others use lessons from their experiences to be of service to their communities.
  • Responders are the people who, through training, past experience, or their willingness to help, position themselves to assist the Survivors or to recover and return the Victims to their loved ones.

For a victim, this has unfortunately become the end of their story.

The rest of us are either Survivors or Responders

Survivors have an opportunity to reflect on the event, and identify how they can transform and grow from the experience.  A Survivor is faced with a choice:

  • Succumb to believing they are the "victims" of circumstances, and therefore cannot rebuild their lives on their own (and thereby surrender their second chance at life); or
  • Integrate their experiences into themselves, and seek opportunities to become a self-sufficient “responder” and share their value with others.

As a Survivor of the Christchurch Earthquake, I chose the latter.  It lead me to work with the crush-injured survivors, and the New Zealand Response Teams in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  It motivated me to pursue the my childhood dreams, to rebuild my life, to publish my books, and to build an online training academy to help people share their experiences though writing and publishing.

My Transformative Journey - and Challenge to You

Eight years ago today my world, as I knew it, collapsed.  Luck meant I walked safely away from the shattered central city, with my parents, niece, co-worker, and others at my side.  Once I made it to safety, I made my promises to the victims, other survivors, and the responders.  I will readily admit that the journey forward has not been easy.  No transformative journey, or heroic quest ever is. There have been many challenges, some relating to things I, as an individual, have no control over (i.e. Insurance/EQC claims [still not resolved!], material damage to buildings, etc.).  There has also been the odd detour along the way.  However, on the whole, I believe I have kept my promises made after the Earthquake, and also when I was a Guide.

So on this World Thinking Day and Christchurch Earthquake 8th Anniversary, I reach out to you and ask that we all give uplifting sympathy and friendship to each other.  I also ask you to nurture and celebrate who you are, and reflect on what value you can bring to the world around you.  I challenge you to begin a personal development journey (if you haven't already).  Focus on becoming self-sufficient, to be respectful to others, and take action to make positive change that benefits all in your community.

Kia Kaha!

Deb

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