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Letter from Publisher

On the cover of our September issue of Natural Awakenings, I featured a beautiful photo of Luis Mendez and Waleska Sallaberry, the publishers of Natural Awakenings Puerto Rico. The magazine had barely hit the stands when Hurricane Irma swept through the Caribbean. Merely days after we  received confirmation that they were okay and in recovery mode, hurricanes Jose and Maria swept through, leaving Puerto Rico and Luis and Waleska’s home and community devastated.

When we finally heard from them, the reports were heartbreaking. While they were tremendously grateful for their family’s safety, their lives shifted into survival mode. Martial law went into effect on the island, and people were standing in line for days, desperate for food, water, gas and medicine.

Several weeks later, Waleska brought their two youngest children to the U.S. where the three stayed with Kelly Martinsen, publisher of Natural Awakenings Long Island. Luis stayed in Puerto Rico to help support and rebuild their hometown of Rincon and the surrounding communities.

As I sat down to write this letter, I was alerted that Martinsen awoke in the middle of the night to an electrical fire, which subsequently burned her house to the ground. I was stunned and could only think, “I have no words.” Martinsen, however, had beautiful words to share. She posted on Facebook: “We had a fire, and I know that the word out there is that we ‘lost everything.’ I want to assure everyone that this is not the case. While our house may be totaled, ‘everything’ I need was found the morning after the fire as I held my kids (all three!) and my husband in my driveway… for now we have no needs.” She then went on to thank Waleska who, while staying in Martinsen’s home, awakened her in time to get everyone out of the house.

After having her life turned upside down by hurricanes and then witnessing fire demolish Martinsen’s home, Waleska posted a picture of the cover of her new 2018 planner which reads, “Best year ever,” in beautiful script.

As headlines are flooded with reports of hurricanes, fires and earthquakes, stories like this one highlight the power of perspective. What if we all lived free of attachment to material things and maintained a peaceful sense of trust in what lies ahead?

As Thanksgiving arrives, may we remember to be grateful for all that we have—especially those things that can’t be bought or destroyed. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a helping hand from a stranger or the embrace of a loved one, such nonmaterial gifts are our true wealth.

Natural Awakenings has started a campaign to raise money to help Luis and Waleska and the holistic health community in Puerto Rico to restore and rebuild. To donate, please visit:

Counting my blessings,

Gabriella Buchnik, Publisher

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