It has been an intense time in this corner of the world as a major hurricane gained strength over the warm ocean waters and powered its way up the Gulf of Mexico, coming to shore at the exact place where David and I began our Great Loop journey and subsequently crossed our wake on December 4th, 2021; Cayo Costa, Florida. Hurricane Ian hit land with a wicked fierceness and a magnitude unparalleled in recent years. Arriving near high tide in the vast Charlotte Harbor (30 miles long by 12 miles wide), the strong winds pushed a near ocean of water into the bay and consequently up the three rivers that flow there; the Peace, Myakka, and Caloosahatchee. Thus causing immense damage across many communities along the shore and inland from the harbor. The level of destruction is immeasurable and many lives will be changed forever, and difficult, for a long time to come.
One of the couples we met during the Great Loop, and have stayed in touch with since, reside in Cape Coral, Florida. Their house was destroyed in the hurricane and their boat was spared by inches from coming up, over and off their floating dock. I reached out to them to express our love and received many messages in return. We ended up on the phone together discussing the current state of the waters around Cape Coral, Fort Meyers, Punta Gorda, and the rivers that flow into Charlotte Harbor. We talked too, because David and I are scheduled to be at the Fisherman’s Village Marina in Punta Gorda for November and December, so the safety and pass-ability of the waterways there is vital to any travel. What they shared was predictable and awful, none the less. They told us that most waterway markers are missing, blown off in the storm. They said the waters are black and it is impossible to see into the water therefore impossible to spot debris, sunken objects and such. They shared that throughout the water from south of Tampa past Fort Meyers and Naples, and in the ICW there are sunk and partially submerged cars, houses, boats, roadways, trees, and more. The entire area is considered a disaster area and the waterways are currently off limits to recreational boaters and travelers. There are still rescue operations happening and much of the area has only intermittent power, phone service and internet/data capacity. In other words, this year, we will not be able to go to Punta Gorda by water. We will be there in spirit and return again, we hope, in April of ‘23. Fingers crossed.
It occurred to me that in times of great difficulties, during experiences that diminish us, we pray for strength to endure what life has brought us. We don’t pray for “easy”. We focus on emerging from what has the potential to destroy us. We pray for strength to transcend what hurts us in order to help ourselves and others. As it is during times of great joy, the power behind that prayer, that space we are holding, is love. Love for yourself, love of life, love of other people; loving the moments as you live them. We come from love, we are love and we return to love.
By the time Hurricane Ian reached us here in Charleston, it had been knocked down to a category 1 hurricane. Winds ranged from 40 to 85 mph and were accompanied by very heavy rain and local flooding. We were very lucky. Thank you to the many of you who reached out to check on us. Thank you for your concern, your prayers, your thoughts, your love. We could feel the positive energy. We gathered up your light and pulled it in around us and it helped us to stay UPlifted and generate more good thoughts while we lived in the flow of not knowing how our boat would fair.
David and I had gone to prepare IRENE for the coming storm. We doubled up on her lines and secured anything that could “fly around” during the inevitable heavy seas and rocking and rolling on the dock. We did all that we could there. On the home front, we shopped for a few foods to prepare ahead and a few favorites to enjoy in the inevitable event we would lose power. Also, a big trip to the arts and crafts store for paint, charcoal pencils, new markers, ink, special paper and more. The best remedy to address anxiety is to prevent it through engagement, especially through DOing. DOing anything with the intention of consciously engaging in it. My theory here is that by DOing things we become fully present in the moment and the mind focuses on the moment you are in. Simple and effective. So, once our preparations were completed and we had many intentional conversations with the grandchildren about the coming storm, and fairly quickly, we got to happily and calmly, DOing things- Cooking, creating, reading and resting. Twenty-four hours later, IRENE weathered the storm beautifully (only the dock buckled). The house stood strong with minimal water inside from just one side door, after 8 hours, the power was restored, and behind it all, we remained calm, centered and loving.
My friend in South Dakota, Carol https://xinaallen.com/ Morgan, recently shared a personal story about something that is currently difficult and causing sadness within her own family. She reflected on some learning that occurred with her and her sister as they had been feeling badly about the situation. For those of us who have lived long enough and through enough “storms” this may be familiar, but it is always good to be reminded. The learning was essentially: it is important to acknowledge sad and/or heavy feelings as they come to us and to feel them in your heart. Keep them there inside your feeling heart, not in your mind, they’re not for your head; they aren’t there for analysis. After you have held them in your heart-space, release them, because when sadness and other heavy feelings are invited into our minds they bring exponential density that invites fear and suffering. All the “what ifs”, “should haves”, “I wishes”, and “he said she saids” are the stuff fear is made of- and fear erodes your peace and makes it impossible to rise UP and live life fully, joyfully. Not only during the difficult times, but especially during the difficult times.
In the meantime, I called our marina in Marathon, Marlin Bay, where we are already scheduled to stay from January 1st – April 1st, and I was told that miraculously, our slip was available for us in November and December. Since we are scheduled to leave here on Monday, October 10th, this was blessed news to us. And this nearly improbable outcome was just the beginning of a constellation of connected miracles. My next call was to move a departing flight to visit Anna in December, from the Fort Meyers airport to depart from Miami. Another miracle, seats available and in the end, I was assigned better seats and given a $200 credit. The next unexpected message was an invitation to fly directly from Miami to St. Kits in November for a few days at a villa with David’s sister Kathie and her husband Dan. An beautiful gift for us to explore a new place with people we love. New pathways to joy are opening for all of us. May everyone’s beloveds, friends, angels, guides, teachers and powers that be, surround you with as much grace and abundance as we are experiencing now.
PS: From Charleston