Through the storm

Farmer and family walking in the Dust Storm of the 1930s, by Arthur Rothstein

Through the wind, rain and firestorms in nature and in our lives, God brings us through.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

—   Haruki Murakami

‘Heroine of your life’

Nora Ephron

So many of us can identify with the people or events in Nora Ephron’s books and screenplays. In addition to being a wonderful writer and storyteller she was an inspiration. She took the awkward surprises of life and turned them into truthful entertainment.

Ephron died Tuesday, June 26, 2012. From mail girl to journalist, author and filmmaker, she remains an inspiration and an unforgettable influence on modern culture.

How I identified with Rita Wilson’s character (“Sleepless in Seattle”) crying while describing the final scene of “An Affair to Remember.” I know that scene, and countless others in her films, resonated with women worldwide.

Who can forget the brotherly insight David Hyde Pierce shared with Meg Ryan in that same movie: “When you’re attracted to someone, it just means that your subconscious is attracted to their subconscious, subconsciously. So what we think of as fate is just two neuroses knowing that they are a perfect match.”

For me, what remains in the forefront of all the memorable words she wrote or spoke is a line from her 1996 Wellesley Commencement address. Ephron, class of 1962, with wisdom and truth, told the graduating women: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”

She showed us it’s possible.

Debby, don’t let the door hit you … on the way out

Debby is finally on her way out. She has weakened from a Tropical Storm to a Tropical Depression. Depressed is exactly how she is leaving many Florida residents and guests after lingering off Florida’s west coast since the weekend, spawning flash floods and tornadoes.

In Orlando, the amusement parks were less crowded. That might have been a plus for some visitors. There was even a report that one of the water parks at the Walt Disney World Resort closed temporarily. On the beaches, rain slickers replaced swim suits as de rigueur attire.

A sign outside a church in the Jacksonville area captured the sentiment of many: “If you prayed for rain, you can stop now.”

Debby reminds me of those house guests who have such a  good time, they don’t want to leave. Finally, she’s getting a clue.  She’s leaving, but she is in no hurry. She is crossing land but it may take her until Saturday to reach the Atlantic.

Although my first memories of summer 2012 are of relentless rain and winds ripping through my screen enclosure, I have hope that summer, as I know it, is on the horizon.

Debby: Tropical Storm

National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL, Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook, June 25, 2012, 2 a.m. (EDT)

I live in sunny Florida. Hmm. Let me rephrase that. I live in gray, wet and windy Florida. At present, Tropical Storm Debby is causing nearly perpetual rain and gusts of wind that make me think her status is greater than “tropical storm.”

Apparently, Mother Nature did not get the brochures with the invitation to play and stay in the Florida sun, a location that offers summer year round. So much for truth in advertising.

Summer began with a vengeance in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic United States bringing record-breaking heat. Oh, and lots of sun.

Debby seems to have taken those brochures to heart, especially “play and stay,” as she remains nearly stationary off the west coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. I understand the attraction, really I do. I enjoyed living on the west coast of Florida, in Clearwater Beach,  where the Gulf of Mexico was my backyard. The job, however, called me elsewhere.

The website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stated about Debby early morning June 25, “She is expected to slowly meander over the next day or so.” Meander? Really, the next day or so?

Debby, I think it’s time to dissipate. Take your threats of tornadoes, heavy rains and flooding with you. Let the sun shine. “Let the sunshine in, let the sunshine in. …”



Midsummer’s Day

© Eros Erika

Tropical storms are developing in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening tornadic activity in southwest Florida. Disregarding the weather forecast, I have determined that Midsummer’s Day (June 24) will be sunny. In spirit, I will celebrate with my friends outside of the United States who have started reveling with feasting, bonfires and dancing on Midsummer’s Eve.

According to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” for the farmer, it is “The midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvesting, and an occasion for celebration.”

I realize the days will become shorter — not noticeable at first. But it is the cycle of life. The sun, obscured by clouds right now, is my visual metaphor this week. Sometimes it is hard to realize the sun is shining.

There are two daughters this week, I’ve learned, whose mothers are very ill. Their mothers’ treatments seemed to be working and the families were looking forward to the start of summer — early morning, soft summer sun poolside, maybe surfside. There would be summer plays, concerts and days filled with activity and laughter.

Not this week.

I feel the warmth of the sun. Even if I don’t always see it, I know it is there. I will dance in spirit this Midsummer’s Day. I know there are bright, sun-filled days ahead. I have faith.

I am grateful for this midpoint in the growing season; it is a marker of the harvest to come.


Summer Solstice

Pending Solstice at Sun Tunnels by A Hinckley

In North America the summer solstice begins on June 20, 2012, at 7:09 p.m. (EDT), according to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” 

To ancient civilizations, the sun seemed to stand still in the sky — making the longest day of the year. I will delight in the bath of sun the summer solstice brings. Officially now, it is the start of summer.

I feel this cycle of nature and will celebrate it, flow with it. To me, summer is a time of growth. The seeds that were planted and started to bud in the spring are now blossoming, ripening, reaching for the sky. I will honor this time — the start of summer — and reconnect with the sky and the wonders in the heavens.

A soft rain is falling now. Somewhere, I know, the sun is shining brightly. Today, I feel it in my soul. I hope tomorrow’s sky will be bright. I look forward to slathering myself in sunscreen, turning off my computer and going out to soak up a little vitamin D.

World Refugee Day

Most leave with only the clothes on their backs. Most carry no possessions, just the hope of finding a safer place that will lead to a better life someday, somewhere. There is no shelter in a homeland overtaken by conflict and violence. There is no peace when the very air they breathe is heavy with the possibility of persecution.

According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 43.7 million refugees and displaced people around the world. The UNHCR is able to help only 33.9 million. To call attention to the plight of these refugees, the United Nations and countless organizations around the world mark June 20 as World Refugee Day.

Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Angelina Jolie said the “UNHCR believes even one person forced to flee is too many. And it’s true. Every individual refugee matters. Each has their own story. Each has suffered and survived more than I could ever bear. And yet, they rise up to live another day.”

All those people — men, women and children who walk hundreds, thousands of miles hoping to find food, water, shelter and some form of peace and safety — they inspire me. When I feel too tired, or bothered to do one more thing, I will think of how they have no choice and I do. I will remember their strength and courage and how “they rise up to live another day.”

I Can

Marlo Thomas, “That Girl.”

My mother subscribed to several periodicals, among them, TV GUIDE. Many years ago, there was an interview in TV GUIDE with Marlo Thomas when she starred in the series “That Girl.” I couldn’t wait to retreat to my bedroom and curl up and read the interview. In it, she referenced a poem her father, Danny Thomas, had given her. Even as a child, I realized the power of those words. I tore the glossy page from the magazine with the excerpt from I Can, folded it into a small square and placed it in my wallet. Through my adolescence and young adulthood, whenever I needed encouragement, I took out that piece of paper, unfolded it and read those words. Although my wallet and the glossy magazine page disintegrated long ago, the encouraging words live on in my heart.

I CAN, by Edgar A. Guest

Can’t is a word that is foe to ambition;
an enemy ambush to shatter your will.
Its prey is forever the man with a mission;
and bows only to courage, and patience, and skill.

So hate it with hatred that’s deep and undying,
for once it is welcomed twill break any man.
And whatever the goal you are seeking, Keep trying!
And answer this demon by saying, “I Can!”