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Embracing Change is Complicated

May 4, 2017


In the 1988 Die Hard movie, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is crawling through an air vent, being shot at by bad guys, repeating his wife’s invitation with a tone of sarcasm, “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…” Yes, John McClane had to embrace change. He had no choice. Neither did I.

”Maybe we’ll re-do the kitchen this year. Paint a few walls…” That was my husband and me recalling what we said at the beginning of 2014, as we surveyed the damage to our home from a flood April 30th  which destroyed our first floor and basement (we live in a 3 story townhouse). A storm catch basin owned by the City of Alexandria and located at the back of our property, became blocked and poured water into our home for 2 ½ hours. We lived in our third floor bedroom, along with our 90 pound dog Sam, from April 30th until the second week of December 2014. The City of Alexandria has claimed Sovereign Immunity, which basically means they think they are not liable for the damages. Add to that no flood insurance, the dust, the contractor issues, the noise, the close living quarters and it made for one heck of a 2014.

‘Wow, that’s quite a story,’ one could say, ‘ enough for one year.’  And they would be wrong.

This also happened in 2014:

My 94 year old Mother had a second hip replacement and had much more difficulty recuperating. We also had the ‘we don’t think you should be driving anymore’ conversation.

I lost a junior high school friend, in an instant, who had everything to live for.

My husband and I grew stronger as partners.  We stuck together, got angry together, threw our hands up together and cried together.

I trained 5 days a week to row in a premiere East Coast race, called The Head of the Charles, in Boston, Mass.  The pinnacle in many rowers’ careers.

Great friends and neighbors moved away.

With a friend’s encouragement, I walk/ran a 10K across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

A friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I rowed a 13 mile race with 7 great teammates and we won the gold medal for our category.

And, the hardest of all, our beloved Golden Retriever Sam died suddenly in December, one week after the last contractor walked out of the house.



The day of the flood our neighbors came running with towels, grabbed furniture, the art, the dog, and got them out of the way preventing any further damage.  Family and friends helped pack the house so we could move everything that wasn’t damaged into storage.  Invites for dinner and drinks and offers of money (can you believe that!) kept us sane.

I raced the Charles with 3 incredible women who never stopped encouraging and challenging me. Our son and daughter-in-law, along with my husband and friends, came to Boston to cheer us on and celebrate our accomplishment.

I witnessed grace from my friend dealing with breast cancer.

I reconfirmed to myself that I was in good enough shape to place 21 out of 90, in my category, in the bridge race.

My mother is healthy, happy and living life to the fullest, with the help of an aide who has become a wonderful friend.

It was the first time that my husband and I cried together.  We have known each other for 13 years. It was over the death of our Golden Retriever, Sam.  The knowledge that we felt safe with each other to share our grief, raised our intimacy to a new level.

We had a memorable celebration on New Year’s Eve in a beautiful ‘new’ home that reflects both my husband and me.



Embracing change is complicated. When things happen that are out of our control we feel vulnerable and powerless. I’ve gone from grief and despair to elation and excitement and back again.

What I learned is that every time I said ‘yes’ to something within my control, I took my power back.  I found within those ‘yes’ moments I was more present and appreciative than I had been in a very long time, even before the flood!

The universe throws curves our way, nothing can stop them.  We do have choices, however, in how we react.  Even when it is really hard, create opportunities to say ‘yes’ or recognize those opportunities being presented to you where saying ‘yes’ is an option.  Go ahead. Take your power back, even for a little while. What I wish for you is that the end result finds you grateful for having experienced it all.  I am.





Originally posted 2015-01-16 20:18:12.

January 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm

You are amazing!!!! You are constantly changing — growing, expanding horizons, and improving! I try to follow your lead, but I can’t keep up!!!

January 21, 2015 at 2:40 am

Wow, what a powerful ending. I will embrace that idea and keep it close by. I am sorry to hear about Sam. The love we share with our dogs is unconditional. I know you miss him every day but that life was rich in love when he was with you.

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