March 2023 satellite photos of both Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin
Vanuatu...the tiny island nation where my son and my 3 grandchildren live has been hammered by two back-to-back cyclones in the past few days. Cyclone Judy and Cyclone Kevin, category 4, cyclones slammed across the island within 24 hours of each other.
If that wasn't enough to make your head swirl, somewhere in between these two cyclones, the country shook from a 6.5 earthquake. There was a lot of damage. It was brutal.
In 2015, they were battered by a category 5 cyclone. Cyclone Pam was ruthless. The recovery took years.
In 1987 when I lived in Vanuatu, Cyclone Uma was a force and wreaked immense havoc. I remember a sleepless night, trying not to be completely freaked out that the roof was going to blow off while I held my 15-month-old toddler on my chest and my husband held our 3-year-old.
It was a long night to hear...
A Guest post by Penny Wood
We must let go of the life we planned,
So as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
When becoming a widow, one joins a club in which no one wants to be a member. If you are young when widowed, not only do you grieve your husband but also the life you thought you were going to have. In October this year, I will have been in the widow club for 25 years.
In October of 1997, I was happily living in Davis, CA. I was 52. My husband Doc was 51. Our daughter Sara was 22, having graduated that June from the University of Washington. Our son Gerrit was 19 and beginning his sophomore year at Willamette University where he played football.
It was Parents Weekend at Willamette and there was a home football game. We had forgotten to get plane tickets that weekend so we were driving instead. Near Canyonville in Southern Oregon, an 88-year-old man entered I-5 from an...
I've been privileged to be a mother and now a grandmother. My story may sound familiar and it might sound strange but I tell it to emphasize how mothers can learn so much about themselves and the surprises that happen along the way.
This photo was taken a few years ago when my first two granddaughters were babies. I treasure these very special moments with them.
When I was a little girl, I didn't think about becoming a mother, I just played with dolls and assumed I'd be a mother one day.
The moment I held my firstborn son in my arms, I knew something inside of me radically shifted forever. It was as if fairy dust had been sprinkled over me as I completely and unforgivably fell in love.
Andrew was big ...9 pounds and 4 oz. The labor was rough but I was determined to have this baby naturally. And I did. In fact, when it came time to push, I heard the doctor say, “we're going to have to use...
This morning I walked outside and noticed a sunflower blooming right beside my mailbox. What in the world? Sunflowers don't bloom in March. I thought about how the birds must have scattered the seeds from their feeder in the backyard to the front.
And just like that, I thought of it. I realized that sunflower came up for a reason.
I'm imagining you're like me...horrified at the war in the Ukraine and the atrocities that are happening every day.
And if you're like me...you feel helpless and powerless. What can we do?
I'm eternally grateful I'm not trying to escape to another country or wondering if I'll survive another explosion.
And I feel guilty.
I wake up in my comfortable bed every morning imagining what it would be like to leave my home with basically the shirt on my back. I try to imagine walking for miles in the freezing cold, fleeing for my life to another country, and wondering where I could end up. ...
On March 9, 2011, I was lamenting not being able to celebrate my birthday the way I wanted. I was finishing up my work on an Air Force base in Japan. I realize now what a champagne problem that was...to have a stressful day on my birthday.
Two days later I would experience one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in history.
As I huddled inside the door frame that Friday afternoon on March 11, I tried not to panic.
On that afternoon, I walked up the outside steps to the 2nd floor of a building on the Air Force base where I’d been working for the past three months.
Immediately I was met by four women whose faces were panic-stricken. “It’s an earthquake!” they shouted. I tried to calm myself. But I immediately felt afraid.
It took a second and then I felt the scary, unnatural sensation of the building rocking and shaking. I HATE EARTHQUAKES. I've been in enough of them to know that you have absolutely no...
When I worked in Alaska for 4 months in the winter of 2012, I learned the true power of overriding fear. I've never forgotten what it took for me to be able to have a one-of-a-kind adventure and what I learned from the experience.
It was simply meant to be a Christmas present for my husband. He's a pilot and would rather fly than anything.
It’s one of those passions your spouse has that you say, “I’m glad you love being a pilot but not me. I'll stand on the ground and watch while you go up."
But I'm not married to that kind of man. He wants me to go with him, to share, to enjoy the experience with him. He wants me up there with him. Oh brother.
So when I told him that his Christmas present would be flying on a ski plane to Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America, he loved this idea. And quietly I added, I’ll be staying back at the lodge and taking pictures.
I remember when my son was deployed to Afghanistan. It was the spring of 2008.
I had no idea of what it would be like to be the mother of a deployed Marine.
What it was: 8 months of wearing an invisible cloak of fear.
As Andrew was packing up to leave, I tried on his gear and could hardly stand up.
I recently found the passage in my journal from that time that reads "this is the ultimate experience in letting go of control."
I felt powerless about the announcement both my sons made one day 2 years before.
They said, "Mom, we're going to join the Marine Corps." I burst into tears.
I felt powerless to change their minds. Helpless. No control. Scared.
And when the news finally came that Andrew would deploy to Afghanistan my worst fears came true.
Have you had events this year that were out of your control?
If you've had the...
Here in the US, we’re less than a week away from Thanksgiving. It’s the time when we're supposed to be thankful for all "our blessings."
For people who have been to hell and back this year, for those who’ve lost a loved one, for those who have had their hearts ripped out and stomped on, it can be an insensitive thing to hear the words...what are you grateful for?
If you're someone who's had a gut-wrenching year, I can imagine that you’re thinking...I don’t have anything to be grateful for.
There's been too much heartbreak this year...the unexpected loss of a loved one, the breakup of a marriage, the dramatic ending of a relationship that you didn’t agree to, the exasperation of working a job where the risk is high for covid and with minimal appreciation, the devastating loss of your house to a fire, and on and on.
Telling someone who loves you and who is trying to help you but isn't really helping what you actually need...well, it's downright hard.
Having the confidence to say what you need to your friends or family is perhaps one of the most challenging things that we do.
Because we don’t want to drive them away. We know they have our best interests at heart but...
When you feel funky or overwhelmed and you think you're going to burst into tears, this is when we all need someone who cares to step in...but in the right way.
It’s the times when you can’t help yourself. The negative thoughts take over and bring you down, down to the deep dark hole.
You say negative things like:
What's wrong with me?
I hate my life
Why is this happening to me?
I should have...
Everybody else does this, why can't I?
Now we're in the hole and we don't know how to get out...
It doesn't matter whether we're letting go of physical clutter or emotional clutter in our lives.
It's straight-up hard.
In exploring around all the edges of what it means to let go of clutter or anything in our lives that we need to let go of...I'm finding one thing to be true.
It's about fear.
Letting go involves letting go of your fear.
I remember a time way back in 2008 when I began a year-long leadership program.
In our group, we all were all challenged to get clear on our personal strengths so that we could be impactful leaders.
We began this process by engaging in a high ropes course.
The high ropes, if you've never participated in one of these intense experiences, helps you discover your personal courage as well as your strengths.
On the first day of the course, we had to climb up a 25-foot redwood tree. (I'm actually not sure how high it was but let's just say...
Fall is a time for us to slow down, to ground ourselves and to nourish our bodies. This retreat is designed to help you stop and listen to what it is you need right now. It's a fun and restorative weekend with mindfulness exercises, morning yoga, an online cooking class with the fabulous Chef Bai, healthy recipes to try at home, meditations and group calls to connect you with other women.