Surviving a Cyclone

“Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.”

                                     from the poem “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye

As I write this, I am waiting to hear that my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter are alive and safe. They have been smack dab in the middle of a Category 5 cyclone.  There is no power, phones or internet as the ferocious Cyclone Pam has ravaged her way through this South Pacific island nation.

Besides the worry for my own family, I am worried about the local Ni-Vanuatu people who have houses made of corrugated tin roofs.  They place rocks on top of the roofs to hold them down during high winds. With this magnitude of a storm, that’s like putting a pin on a stack of papers hoping the papers won’t blow away.

I remember my first real cyclone.  And cyclones, by the way are the same as typhoons or hurricanes.  Depends on what part of the world you reside in.  All are ferocious and many times catastrophic, like this one.   [Read more…]

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What to do When You’re Faced with the Unexpected

In every journey or adventure, there will be the unexpected, the low points, the funky stuff that happens.  This is true for travel or for life.  And there are always lessons to be learned.

It was shocking.  And scary.  And life changing.

It all started a little bit wonky, the beginning of our trip to see the live volcano on Tanna in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. 

That tropical morning we got off the plane from the main island of Vanuatu.  I pulled out my reservation sheet & for the life of me, I could not find the name of the hotel we were booked in.  There were people everywhere, pushing, shoving, loading up people and baskets in trucks.   

Jo Hatcher Retreats

Boarding the Air Vanuatu flight to Tanna

A Ni Vanuatu man ran up to my husband and I and looked at our papers. I’m not even sure he could read English but he said something like…”you got the voucher, come with me.”   [Read more…]

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An Unconventional Conversation…

What Alaska Said to Guam

Life is about contrasts.

Who would have thought I’d be in such opposite places in the world one year apart?

Like, did you ever think about where you were a year ago? And how they compare?

At the moment I find myself in cold, dark, ALASKA.

This time last year I was in paradise.

Tanguissan Beach-largeI remember waking up and seeing sweeping ocean views of blue green tropical waters. It would take my breath away & I’d pinch myself and say, really?

I was waking up in Guam, the beautiful US territory in the Western Pacific.

Today in Alaska at 9:00am it is still dark. There are no azure skies and ocean; I do not hear children’s voices running and playing on the beach. Instead I hear the crunch of ice beneath my feet when I walk to my car. Looking out the window, I see darkness, although when the sun at lasts wakes up, I will see various shades of grays, whites, & browns.

In Guam, I remember my glasses fogging up when I walked out of the air conditioned buildings into the hot, humid tropical air. The strange twist is that when I went to the library on base, I’d have to wear a fleece jacket to be able stay there for more than 5 minutes to deal with the sub temperatures of the air conditioning.

2012-10-30-Alaska-snow-dark-carsHere in Alaska, I wouldn’t dare go outside without a warm coat, hat, gloves. And sometimes hand warmers.

That’s contrast all right.

 What if Guam had a conversation with Alaska? Reasonable, eh? They’re both the US, both not attached to the Mother Land.

GUAM: Hey there Frozen Man. How’s it going? I heard you guys got a lot of ice up there and not much snow this winter. That’s too bad.

[Read more…]

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Skiing above the clouds — flying with fear

It was simply meant to be a Christmas present for my husband. Being a pilot, he loves to fly. It’s one of those passions your spouse has that you say, “I’m glad you love being a pilot but not me. I will stand on the ground and watch while you go up and fly around.”

But I am 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 he would be flying on a ski plane to Denali, he loved this idea. And quietly I added, I’ll be staying back at the lodge and taking pictures.

“Well I’m not going if you don’t go.”

But, but… I don’t know if I can do it. You know how I hate flying.

“Well, then I’m not going.”

When my husband says something like that I know that the steel trap door is down and that there is no way that I’m going to budge him.

So I relented. Of course. I said I would go.

[Read more…]

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Thoughts from a Warrior Mom

The phone rings. It’s 3:30am and as I pick up the receiver, I’m already thinking bad things. What goes on in a person’s mind when they think they’re going to hear really horrible news in the middle of the night?

“I cannot do this,” I thought. “It can’t be, no, wait, I’m not ready.”

And then I hear a recording, not a human voice: “Your credit card has been frozen, Press 1 if you want to unlock it.” I slam down the phone and feel relief mixed with confusion and then anger. The pulse in my ears is loud. I’m shocked to feel how fast my heart is beating.

My son is in a war zone.

He is a Marine. Marines go to dangerous places. They say that the worst time is just before they leave on deployment. The waiting and the anticipation is dreadful. You say goodbye and wonder. You try not to cry but you do.

Afghanistan:  Not for sissies or sissy families.

[Read more…]

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