Sep 042019
 

people on beach sun and storm cloudsWow. Hurricane Dorian. I didn’t see that one coming! Actually, I did. We all did. The arrival of this slow-moving hunka-hunka swirling air has had more attention than Taylor Swift and the Kardashians combined. (Wait ~ are they still a thing? I’ve lost track.)

With apologies to those actually impacted* here’s a bit of a silly take on the unseen side of hurricane impact.

#1 ~ Travel plans.

Favorite Husband and I were on a road trip when we started hearing about a hurricane that could pose a serious threat to Florida and Floridians. So we came home a few days early. Not entirely sure what we thought we could or would accomplish but it felt like the right thing to do. Oh, and our son is scheduled to come home from Paris later this week. Based solely on the quantity of email I’m receiving? The airline thinks he should change plans.

#2 ~ Expectations.

We thought by coming back home we’d be in a great position to straighten up the backyard a bit, throw a few things in a suitcase, and laugh at ourselves a little. But there’s a hitch or several. Gardening. Swimming. Dogs. Do you have any idea how much STUFF can accumulate in a back yard?  Straighten up a little? My Aunt Fanny! Where’s Marie Kondo when you need her?

Hey — it’s Florida. Just because it’s in the left lane with its blinker on, doesn’t mean this #hurricane is going to make a turn! #HurricaneDorian #humorhelps Click To Tweet

#3 ~ Egos.

”You’re going? Really? It’s gonna blow out to sea.” Translation: you’re over-reacting. You’re spoiled. You’re a wuss.” Guess what? I’m an over-reacting, spoiled wuss who lives on an island and, when those who know better than I start using the term “mandatory evacuation” I comply. My ego can take the hit a whole lot better than it can handle storm surge and Florida summertime sans air conditioning. (See ‘over-reacting, spoiled wuss’ above.)

close up of large turtle face

#4 ~ Egos. Again.

After packing the van for 3 dogs on 3 different diets and loading a enough books to get us through an open-ended trip, the human suitcases ended up a little skinny. I wonder how many days I can survive in yoga pants and T-shirts? I think I’m grateful that I’ll probably never see the other hotel guests again.

 

Hurry up and wait. When a #hurricane is moving this slowly I feel like I’m being stalked by a turtle. A rabid turtle. Click To Tweet

#5 ~ Egos for the Trifecta.

I can’t think of anything more humbling than the immense power of nature. Despite satellites and storm chasers and pasta-on-parade aka spaghetti models, humans don’t know as much as we would like to about these massive storms. Strength. Duration. Path. Who knows? Not me. Respect.

#6 ~ Housekeeping.

This is already not one of my superpowers. While I obsess about cleanliness, I’m a bit of a train wreck when it comes to neatness. So as we packed and prepared, I collected my project piles (or as I call them ‘stacks of brilliance’) and put them into a waterproof bin. I put the bin on a table. When Favorite Husband saw what I was doing he made the mistake of telling me that he didn’t think the water would come up. “No one ever does, do they?” I thought, as I wandered from room to room stacking things on top of one another. Can’t wait to go home to that!

Hurricane weather reports? Like looking up symptoms on WebMD: maybe nothing — or it might kill ya. Click To Tweet

#7 ~ More Expectations.

Our two grown-up dogs are experienced travelers and wonderful hotel guests but our puppy was a total unknown. The wild child’s reactions to new situations can be a bit of a wildcard. So guess who’s adapting to hotel life? The little princessa is taking her cues from the big dogs and, just like at home, she crates herself when she’s not sure what to do. Everybody’s a little clingy but we’ve established an ‘on the road’ routine.

black German shepherd dog on unmade bed#8 ~ Faith and Hope.

I’m just in from the last dog walk of the night. (I’m getting most of my steps in!) In the parking lot of a dog-embracing Candlewood Suites in Georgia are several bucket trucks from an electric company in Virginia. They’re waiting to be deployed… to restore power further south.

#9 ~ Love and Friendship.

Thanks to a dear friend (who also knows a lot more about hurricane weather than I do) we had Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. She reserved two rooms out of harm’s way in one direction and I did the same in another. And, believe it or not, waiting, watching and staying put was an option. We picked a plan, released some rooms and launched our little caravan. During our trip through thousands of acres of beautiful farms, we received texts and calls and tweets with information and support.

Perhaps that can be a new metric. A stormful. And getting a stormful of love from family and friends is as humbling as a record-setting hurricane. And much more powerful.

##

How You Can Help

*On a serious note, we are heartbroken about the hurricane damage in the Bahamas. But Chef Jose´ Andre´s and his World Central Kitchen are already on the way to Abaco. They do an amazing job feeding hungry people during disasters.

An excerpt from the first response efforts reported by wftv.com:

  • Miami Community Emergency Operations Center  If you are in the Miami area, a collection of toiletries, diapers, first-aid items, nonperishable foods, water, generators and other items has begun. Items can be dropped off at the Miami-Dade Community Emergency Operations Center and monetary donations can be made at mthsmile.com
  • All Hands and Hearts Smart Response is looking for volunteers and monetary donations. The group provides first-hand relief to those hit by the storm.
  • Good 360  looking for items such as blankets, diapers, tarps, water, toiletries, pillows, sheets and portable chargers – particularly items that corporations wish to donate to help those affected by Dorian. Click here to learn how to send items. Individuals who want to make a cash donation  click here.
  • BahamaStrong has set up drop-off location at any fire station in the city of Miami. They are collecting water, diapers, personal items, canned goods, can openers, generators, mosquito spray and sunscreen.
  • International Medical Corps sends medical teams to disaster areas, is looking for donations to help with medical care. Click here to donate.

 

Aug 282019
 

Some of you know that Favorite Husband and I have been on a bit of an adventure. We loaded up my little van — Beverly Hillbillies style — and headed South where we spent our first night with Number One Son who was celebrating a birthday. After wonderful conversation and time with his family, we continued on to Amtrak’s auto train.

This was a new experience for me and, for the most part, their systems were impressive. I say for the most part because due to some signal and track issues (requiring manual intervention) we arrived three hours later than expected. My grandfather was a railroad conductor — somehow I think that made those things more intriguing than annoying. And given the loose nature of our itinerary, it didn’t much matter. More games and more grandkids and more catching up on the news of the day with the big folks before driving to Pittsburgh where we spent more wonderful family and friend time.

We loaded up my little van — Beverly Hillbillies style — and headed South. Click To Tweet

From there was a day-long drive to another place of family. It’s where I raised my son. My parents are still there. This was been our longest stop and allowed us to indulge in some breathtaking art and music. Just writing that sentence brings me joy. I mean, seriously, who gets to see Renoir, Picasso, and the rest of the gang before heading out to visit the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? To borrow a word from composer John Williams (who conducted part of the program) the virtuosity is humbling.

I mean, seriously, who gets to see Renoir, Picasso, and the rest of the gang before heading out to visit the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra? Click To Tweet

Traveling by van and auto train is  much kinder and gentler than keeping airline schedules — especially on a trip with so much scheduling flexibility. Our travel “stuff” (mostly books and clothing) lives in the van. Each of us has a relatively small carry-on bag that we refresh before and after each stop. And that has me thinking about other carry-ons. We all have them.

What do we carry with us? Habits and personality traits. Experiences. Extra pounds. Wisdom. Flaws. Skills, tools and techniques. This trip is making me curious about what we carry with us — especially as they relate to new ventures. And, of course, are we carrying the right things? Or are there some we should ditch?

My good friend and fellow author Nancy Blanton and I have been carefully crafting and developing an author co-op; I find myself calling on all sorts of interesting contents of that beat-up old carry-on — especially the entrepreneurial influences of a family business, training and experience as a therapist, and a work history full of start-ups and turn-arounds.  Upon further inspection, my carry-on bag also has some research, training, speaking, and program development skills.  And, despite the fact that this trip does not include taking my shoes off for a TSA agent, I’ve even discovered a little bit of humor and creativity stashed inside of those 3-ounce containers inside of zip-up baggies.

My good friend & fellow author Nancy Blanton and I have been carefully crafting & developing an author co-op... Click To Tweet

So, what’s in your carry-on? What’s vital to your immediate comfort and safety? What kind of baggage is weighing you down? Is there anything you’re going to be able to leave behind? And what are the new things you’re making room for?

Aug 212019
 

Not long ago, I got together with a group of wonderful women friends. And, as is usual with this group, it took us a while to catch up on our “regular” lives. Trips and home renovations.  Grown kids. Grandkids. Husbands and health. Pets and gardens and pests. Day-to-day life — both mundane and magical.

One of our sister friends shared about feeling  deeply frustrated. She had quite willingly set aside all of her outside interests to care and advocate for her partner who suffered a rare form of cancer. She made space for the fierceness she needed to lead the fight.

And lead it she did. They won: appropriate treatment — still in the trial stage — and, were eventually declared cancer-free.

She made space for the fierceness needed to lead the fight. Click To Tweet

And now she was lost, she said. She was frustrated and angry about not being able to find a new passion. She told us that being well over eighty years old was not an excuse for passionlessness. Or for abandoning her quest. This attitude — and her transparency about being pissed off — is why she is one of my sheroes.

She told us that being well over eighty years old was no excuse for passionlessness. Click To Tweet

Another woman, a decade or so younger, was experiencing a similar struggling. She had regained some health while her husband had lost some. Also coming to her caretaker role with a positive attitude, she, too, worried about losing herself in the process — or maybe in the caretaker energy.

It takes a long time to build badass old ladies.

But just what does it mean to lose oneself? And what happens when we are lost?

I’m not where I expected to be, when I expected to be there. Damn. Click To Tweet

I immediately think about driving and getting lost. A late GPS instruction here… a missed turn there. Pretty soon it adds up to real inconvenience, doesn’t it? (And it never happens on a full tank of gas, either, does it?)

And “lost” is a funny term for this phenomenon. We’re not lost like the tiny back of our favorite fancy earrings — we’re just not where we expected to be, at the time expected. And in the case of that car ride from hell, rebooting the GPS or getting off at the next exit will likely fix us right up. Not so when we get lost in our lives.

But just like my caretaking senior sisters, it’s not the actions I take that make me feel lost, it’s my expectations. I’m not where I expected to be, when I expected to be there. The first woman did not expect to have to go to war with insurance providers. She probably also didn’t expect her partner to survive. The second? Didn’t expect to survive herself. Having come through one of life’s giant detours, each of them is without a map or markers. Fewer friends. No set schedule. Interests by the wayside.

Who and what get picked back up and what becomes part of the litter left on the side of life’s big road? And how does one who feels lost go about making those decisions?

 

Aug 132019
 

When I think about advice not taken, ‘don’t feed the geese’ could, under some circumstances, make the list. ‘Clean your plate.’ ‘Never burn a bridge.’ ‘Don’t make waves.’ ‘Be a good loser.’ Geese walking in the parking lot‘Don’t go out with wet hair.’ ‘Only loan books you don’t want back.’ Advice. Well-intended but not always welcome. Wanted but not always followed. Followed — but imperfectly or not under the right circumstances. You get it: advice can be a slippery slope.

You may remember my earlier goose posts: after discovering that neighbors had been running them over for sport, my husband and I made a safe place for them. In all honesty, had I foreseen the destruction of plants and the mess near our dock, I might have thought better of the plan. But here I was — sad and angry — shooting straight from a heart that still can’t understand why someone would hurt an innocent.

Why Would Someone Hurt an Innocent?

For several summers I watched them: the return, the hatchlings, the lessons. And, while I had always loved to hear them, high overhead, singing their way to the next destination, there was something about living with them. I saw their personalities and their habits, and I learned to love them.

Advice. Well-intended but not always welcome. Wanted but not always followed. Click To Tweet

I learned that they make a distinction between “people” and “our people.” And, quite by accident, I discovered I should probably do the same thing.

Canada geese are wild. They make a distinction between “people” and “our people.” Click To Tweet

Back when Favorite Husband and I were trying to decide whether we wanted to stay in New Hampshire or move to an island in northeast Florida, I learned something most of you know: Canada geese are wild.

Canada Geese Are Wild

At the time, we had a beautiful old chocolate Labrador retriever. He was, by then, severely diabetic and was almost blind as a result. As a result, when we expected to be away from the house for more than an hour, we packed the dogs into their crates so they could be with us.

On this particular occasion, Favorite Husband was practicing a martial art. I don’t remember why I needed or wanted to go along, but I had a book and my dogs. I was happy.

Eventually, I decided the old man (the dog, not the husband) needed to stretch his legs a bit. As we rounded the backside of the dojo, I was delighted to see a pair of Canada geese. I think they were my first since arriving in Florida. Seeing them, a fictional loop in my head was complete— our geese really did go south for the winter!

I decided the old man (the dog, not the husband) needed to stretch his legs a bit. Click To Tweet

The pair should have been a clue — there are very few times I ever saw a single pair of wild geese. It was rare enough that I should probably have substituted “nesting pair.” As the dog and I wandered happily toward them, they responded — not as the friends I had in my head but as someone protecting their soon-to-be babies from a home invasion. I didn’t know that old dog could still move so fast, but we made a safe escape.

And that little encounter may have something to do with my ongoing ignorance about the behavioral patterns of Canada geese in northeast Florida. For a while, I didn’t see many of them. For a while I missed them. Then I stopped thinking about them.

Don’t Forget Your Loved Ones

When someone has a place deep in your heart, it’s not wise to forget them. Last week two large families of geese wandered up our street to play in the post-downpour puddles. I was a little too glad to see them, took some pictures, and, once again, didn’t give another thought. So yesterday, while leaving the auto parts store, I was a little surprised to see seven or eight of them.

I was even more startled when they got close enough that I could hear them grunting and gurgling. They continued walking toward me. Opening the car door didn’t slow them at all — in fact, their behavior was a bit more like dogs wanting to take a ride than the standoffish Florida-Canada geese I’d come to know and avoid. And, while I’m pretty sure these aren’t our New Hampshire geese, there’s one thing I know for sure.

Somewhere on this island is another person who ignores advice: somebody is feeding the geese. And I’m delighted.

 

 

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