Friday, September 30, 2011

Biloxi, Mississippi

See full size imageWith Dauphin Island behind me, I headed towards Mississippi.  When I was driving over the bridge that leads to the coastline in Biloxi, I got an overwhelming feeling, with heart palpitations and a dizziness that was so unexpected. It scared me.  It took me a minute to realize that it was a physical reaction to being so open to the energetic presence of this area - Katrina and it's destruction.  It was oppressive to say the least.  I cut the cords as they say, and I returned to a more centered place.  I am one of those who can walk into a room and know right away that something is going on emotionally, energetically - having that sense and awareness to the energetics of a place, people, events, etc.  I think we all have it.  I have learned to tune into it for those of you who say that you can't, I believe we all can.

Biloxi Beach Hurricane Katrina
Before and After Katrina (see below for link)
I slowed to a crawl and took in the sight.  The devastation.  The torn apart houses, the beach littered with detritus, and the gloom that hung over an area that was once a beautiful coastline.  It had been months since Katrina.  I know they were making progress in New Orleans.  That was on the news.  I was floored at how much this area had not progressed.  Nothing. Or, seemingly so.  It felt abandoned.  There wasn't anyone around, no one to connect with, to ask for information or guidance.  I rolled through the streets, stopping and gathering the details of the area.  I scanned the beach as I walked, and the houses that once were on stilts to only see an abundance of work that would be required to get rid of the debris, and restore the area.

See full size imageWhen I went several streets inland, towards town, there were people.  Some, were fixing their properties, but many were meandering, seemingly without purpose.  The people were utterly overwhelmed. I drove around, looking for a way to connect with someone but I didn't find anyone who could direct me to where I could volunteer.  Maybe I could have tried harder, or should have, but my mission to volunteer to help with the clean up seemed daunting and fruitless.

Biloxi, before Katrina
I didn't understand the lack of organization of the system, and why months later people were still floundering to the point of doing nothing.  I was now floundering myself with what happened, it's present state and lack of progress, and with trying to connect with someone, with anyone, so that I could offer my services.

I now understood the discrepancy in the allocation of funds.  It was mentioned on the news but now I was presently in it.  I didn't know what else to do so I found a place to stay just outside of Biloxi to figure out my next step.   I was deeply touched by my time in Biloxi.  I struggled with my feelings, not only with the destruction, but the abandonment and lack of movement towards rebuilding.  I had been thousands of miles away on Kauai when it all happened.  And, although I could have compassion and empathy at the time, there was such a profound experience witnessing the havoc.  And, I considered about all of the times, where money and people of the US have gone to support others in natural disasters, I felt that this place had been forgotten when it needed to be remembered the most.

A link to more photos (copy and paste into browser):

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Across the lower States...

After saying good-bye to my friend, Wayne, I drove out of Florida with a plan to find a way to volunteer to help with the clean up of Katrina, and with the intention of seeing New Orleans since that was on my bucket list, although that term hadn't been born yet.  If I took the road less traveled I would have followed the roads by the Gulf shores.  But I didn't.  I headed inland and took Route 10, stopping in Mobile, Alabama for food, and then headed towards Dauphin Island.

Dauphin Island was remarkable for it's long white sandy beaches and it was absolutely beautiful, yet eery.  The houses were in disrepair from Katrina or totally destroyed.  And, there was hardly a soul around.  Desolate.  Creepy.  Neglected.  Forgotten.  And, it probably felt like it had been forgotten since the focus on the clean up from Katrina was in New Orleans, not here in Alabama.  Sadness came over me while I was there.  I wanted to find a place to stay there but I couldn't handle the feel of the place.  I drove inland for a few miles and found a cheap hotel using a coupon from the local paper.  Somehow this felt safer to me, energetically speaking - and if you have that mindset, you may understand what I mean.

See full size imageI did revisit Dauphin Island again over the next few days.  I do Reiki and I wanted to send healing energy to this area.  I wanted it to heal, recover, and revitalize itself.  My time there was only a few days, but I am still touched by my memories of driving over that long bridge that lead to this sandy white paradise that felt so incredibly marred, although the beach was seemingly intact, yet I am sure there were geographical changes due to the hurricane.
See full size image

Something was amiss while I walked the beaches.  Maybe it was the unfairness of it all, not just the destruction that Katrina caused physically and emotionally, but how the government was providing support to the people of this natural disaster, or not providing it, depending on where you were located.  Maybe it was the discrepancy of our system's decisions, and then to see how people were being impacted by them.  I don't seem to be finding the correct words to describe my experience.  I do regret not staying on the island itself.  It felt non-supportive of me when they could have used support, even the minor support of having a paying guest at the island motel.  I am of the mindset that what we all do as individuals, no matter how small, does make a difference.  So, I say this because of this knowing and wish I had chosen differently.

What I recollect probably no longer exists.  Hopefully, it doesn't.  I am assuming that the funds came, that people found a way - and that Dauphin Island has return to it's natural beauty providing nurturing to all those beach lovers out there.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Florida...

I had a much needed connection with my friends, Jeff and Ken.  I am now off to Florida to visit an old friend of the family, Wayne.  He was actually my sister's boyfriend for a period of time.  Chaos hit, including some prison time.  I always viewed Wayne as a free-spirit and living within the confines of the traditional box, i.e., school, job, etc. is what caused him to have trouble.  If he had been given the opportunity to not live in such a fashion, put into non-traditional school situations, etc. I think he would not have had the trouble that he did have.  The details of those long ago happenings aren't important.  They are his life story and life lessons.

I have mixed feelings about seeing him.  It has been years since we have connected, although we have seen each other since high school.  He was a truck driver for many years and he would visit the Boston area, giving us time to catch up.

 As I am driving the several hours to his home in Pensacola, FL, I think back about my childhood and how far I have come.  Will Wayne recognize me?  What are his memories of me and who I was back then.  I know that I am much different, and I too have embraced the 'free-spirit' lifestyle, or at least that is my goal and I am making steps to have that as my foundation instead of only periodically.

My car starts to act up as I drive.  Not a good sign.  Worry and fear creep in and I start to imagine the cost of the situation.  Money issues arise again in my mind.  Do I have enough?  Frugalness is too much a part of me since I do not have a steady income.  I want to relax about it.  I say affirmations knowing that I can create a situation that I don't want if I stay in my fear.

I arrive at Wayne's who says he wasn't expecting me so soon....umm...didn't we just have a conversation about this?  Ugh...not the welcome that I had hoped for, and it puts me in a precarious situation.  I don't want to intrude nor put anyone out.  My gut says leave, but now the situation is much too awkward.

I stay, but I only end up staying for a few days.  Wayne has changed.  He has bonded with my mother over the years due to her loving support during high school and beyond.  He feels as though I am hurting her by my travels and lack of contact.  He can't conceive that my relationship with her is different than his, nor comprehend the toxicity of it.  I wish he wouldn't intrude, but he does and makes calls to my mom for me.   I try to explain, but it is much too complicated and I don't want to focus on the negatives of my life.  I have done a lot of processing of my childhood and have let go of the anger.  But, that doesn't mean that I need to do my life differently than what I am doing just to meet the needs of someone who remains toxic to me, someone who challenges me in the way that I am living.

Wayne starts to take on the role of my mother.  He becomes worried for me as I travel and explore Pensacola.  This is not the Wayne that I had known.  Maybe he has seen too much and feels that it is different for a woman solo traveler.  Or, maybe he is absorbing or acting on my mother's concerns.

Wayne questions everything that I do, a familiar situation which elicits my insecurity, feeling the lack of support.   My body image issues arise which are triggered by conversations with Wayne.  I have had weight issues since childhood, yet, in retrospect, these issues were not accurate, and were put upon me by others.  As an adult, I realized that I had not been overweight all those years, just not as skinny as my mother and sister - my body type being different than theirs.  I learned to put opinions of others before my own knowing that I am okay, no matter what I do or how much weight I have.

I have released much of the weight that I had gained during my intense and draining last year as a teacher, so I should be feeling light.  And, I was traveling lightly...sort of.  But, here with Wayne, I felt heavy, emotionally and physcially.  This isn't a good place for me even though I feel such joy being at the ocean, and am pleased to meet up with Wayne again - I did consider him family.  This reconnection is not what I had planned.  I start to think of my next step.

This past fall is when the hurricane Katrina hit the area.  I was on Kauai at the time and it all seemed so far away.  Now, I could see the result.  I know that lives were lost, property and material things were too, and it must of been devastating for them.  But the destruction and removal of all those hotels and condos on the waterfront made the beach much more beautiful and natural - the way it is suppose to be.  I know that many would not agree, especially those who lost property, etc.  But, for me there is a sense of peace as I walk these amazing beaches.  I do not feel the negative energetic remnants of Katrina.

When walking the beaches, I decide that I want to help - to volunteer, to support those who need some help with the clean up of Katrina.  I am willing, I have the time and want to contribute.  Oddly enough, after some research, I discover that a single person is not able to find easy access to volunteering.  I have to be a part of a larger group.  This seems ridiculous, although I understand the need to be organized and it is easier to do it with groups.  I am a bit disappointed wanting to be heading towards doing something productive.  I am not accustom to such lack of structure, which may be prompting the need to get involved.  I decide to trust that when I continue my travels I will find my opportunity.

Wayne struggles to let me go without a planned next destination.  He can't fathom this lifestyle for me, although he has done it himself.  It is an odd paradox.  I have to leave.  I so need encouragement and not doubt or arguments.  I get in my car.....and I am off.....feeling the freedom.  Luckily, my car shows no signs of problems.  I am grateful.