When the Levees Broke

22 09 2013

 

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Before and after Katrina is how we mark time down here in Louisiana. We just passed the 8-year anniversary of that milestone hurricane. The lives we knew were washed away when the levees broke. For my high school friend, Karen and I, it marked the washing away of our long-term marriages. My husband moved out the week before the hurricane and Karen moved out of her home, the week after. We found our friendship in the storm’s aftermath and often clung to each other for support.

94992665We both realize the women we were back then wouldn’t recognize the women we are today. Eight years ago newly single with a teenage daughter; I was scared and expecting to be laid off from my job. While that did not happen, it made me question what did I want to do. I tried out a home-based business giving wine tasting parties (a lot of fun, but I drank all my profits). That led me to get over my fear of pubic speaking, which led me to becoming president of my professional club, which led me to giving workshops on creativity, which led me to starting a design business with my sweetie, which led me to discover new talents and strengths. Most importantly I learned to let go of fear and to embrace things outside my comfort zone.

140381196Karen left her affluent life and empty marriage to find meaning in her life after her kids had grown. She moved back to her hometown to family and friends who were critical of her decision. She went from moving in with her mother, to crummy first apartment, to nicer apartment, to buying a house, to renovating that house and making it her oasis. Her small job with an old family friend grew as his company was bought and sold and bought and sold. It is now part of the largest engineering company of its kind in North America. With each evolution of the company, Karen’s job has grown and she’s moved up the corporate ladder. She’s now moving to the center of business for the Eastern region. All of her strengths have come out and are shining brightly.

Karen’s moving up North…to Nashville. Her moving is bittersweet. We recognize that we are closing a chapter in our lives. Her renovated house has a For Sale sign in front and boxes are waiting for the movers. The days of dropping by each other’s home or creating a spontaneous adventure are over as we know it. We know our friendship will shift and change.

I was just in New Orleans for a fun romantic weekend with the man I’ve been in a loving relationship with for 4 years. After the levees broke, I believed that city would never be the same. I was right, but not how I imagined it. I would never have imagined that young people would flood the city post Katrina with their new innovative entrepreneurial spirit. These newcomers wanted to be a part of reinventing their lives while reinventing this old drowned city. They’ve embraced the unique, creative, funky culture and infused it with a new vibe. The dark depressive cloud that hung over the city has blown over. Arts, music, food, business, housing, education are now filled with this new spirit as new ideas and new ways of doing things are happening. And the wonderful, live-and-let-live-with-a-go-cup-in-hand New Orleans spirit is still embraced, it didn’t wash away.

Me and Karen shopping at the Farmer’s Market and cooking up an adventure.

Me and Karen shopping at the Farmer’s Market and cooking up an adventure.

Like the crescent city, Karen and I have reinvented our separate lives. We haven’t ignored our own past, but we’ve grown and built on it. We’ve moved past our after-Katrina chapter. We’ve rebuilt the levees, hopefully strong enough to withstand future storms.

I’ve learned to flow with the current that my life leads me to. It sometimes takes a storm to push us in a new direction. It’s good to occasionally take time to look back at how far we’ve come. I’m grateful for where my journey has taken me. I’m going to miss my friend, but I’m also looking forward to where new travels will take us.

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33 responses

22 09 2013
Lisa Garon Froman

Sweetie, I loved this post. It’s written in your typical sincere and heartfelt way. Though we’re new friends, I know you know how much this story mirrors my own. Thanks for telling it. We’ve come a long way baby….
P.S. You’re gonna love visiting Nashville; it has a great downtown area. My son lives there.

22 09 2013
conniemcleod

Lisa, I believe that the universe has put us in each other’s lives at this perfect moment in our life’s journey. And this journey should include a road trip to Nashville for a long weekend!

22 09 2013
Aimee Troxclair Hansen

One of your best blogs yet. Heartfelt and uplifting.

22 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Aimee! I always appreciate your support.

22 09 2013
Pat

Reinvention on so many levels recounted here. The city after the storm, your rebirth after the broken marriage, the friendships that come and go. I admire the way you confronted change wholeheartedly with your fun-loving, feisty spirit intact. A great post, Connie.

22 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Pat! Life is a constant reinvention.

22 09 2013
A Pleasant House

Beautifully written- accurate, hopeful, observant, respectful. I think we actually talked about this when we met on that splendid weekend foray into the Crescent CIty. So glad we did. XXOO

22 09 2013
conniemcleod

Cheryl, I was thinking of you and your move to NO post Katrina when I wrote this. It’s because of people like you that NO has come back to be the city that I love. Thank you, and I see more bloody mary mornings in our future!

22 09 2013
A Pleasant House

Oh yes…. more Bloody’s my friend. With those awesome beans!!!

23 09 2013
joyweesemoll

Great story of reinventions past and present. Love hearing your personal take on New Orleans.

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Joy, I’m so glad that New Orleans has come back (not that things are perfect). I was very pessimistic for a long time.

23 09 2013
haralee

I like that you can see the reinvention of yourself, your friend and New Orleans together and you are all doing really well!

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

I like to say, it all makes sense in hindsight!

23 09 2013
pamelavmason

I’m amazed at how NOLA has come back in such a fresh way! And your story about starting over is inspiring.
It still makes me sad that I can never show my children the places where I grew up – so much got washed clean away. They did get an eyeful when we visited my childhood home (still standing) in St. Bernard.
Best of luck to your friend in her new city!

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

Pam, it is a different city and I agree, with your feelings of loss. But I really didn’t believe in the future of the city for several years and wouldn’t visit. So while different, it has move on, just like me! Thanks for your comment.

23 09 2013
shannoncolleary

I just love this so much. My husband and I visited New Orleans for the first time in the summer of 1998 and I just fell in love. You’re tempting me to come back and acquaint myself with this re-birthed city.

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

Oh do come back! There’s some fabulous GenFabbers who’d love to show you around (which means eating and drinking)!

23 09 2013
Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com

Hi Connie…I just found through the Generation Fabulous Blog Hop and I’m so glad you did. Your story is very inspiring because it reminds us all of the old saying, “when one door closes, another one opens.” That sounds so much what happened with both you and your friend. Of course that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and most of us have to force ourselves away from that old door handle, but when we do we usually find so much more great and wonderful possibilities. And I agree with Shannon who commented above…It’s been a while since my husband and I have been to New Orleans and now we have several new reasons! Great post and I look forward to reading more! ~Kathy

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

Kathy, I’m so glad you found me. I love the GenFab bloghops! I’m just a little over an hour away from new Orleans, look me up if you ever make it back down. You’re right, I too believe that old saying about one door closing and another opening. I appreciate your comment.

23 09 2013
chloeofthemountain2013

My husband and I will be in New Orleans next February. If I don’t get to meet up with you I will consider the entire vacation a wash!

I still remember the horror of Katrina and I wasn’t anywhere near New Orleans. What a horrible catastrophe that was. But your life shows that beauty can come from ashes. If life shows us anything it is this truth.

23 09 2013
conniemcleod

Chloe, I can’t wait to be with you when you and your husband get to experience New Orleans!!

24 09 2013
Sharon Greenthal

I love the story of how you and Karen have reinvented your lives and come out of it with such a positive result. I know you’re going to miss her when she moves away, but now you’ll just have to make a few trips to Nashville!

24 09 2013
conniemcleod

Sharon, One of our GenFabbers in Nashville read this story and she and Karen are going to meet and have coffee this week. I love that this story is bringing two awesome women together!

24 09 2013
thegenaboveme

What a wild ride you’ve both had. Wow, what growth Karen has been through in the past few years. You have been a great friend to offer her such good support during this time. I hope that you get a chance to visit each other frequently and paint both towns red.

24 09 2013
conniemcleod

You are right, it has been a wild ride. I’m also looking forward to going to see her and having Nashville adventures.

24 09 2013
Elin Stebbins Waldal

Connie, I enjoyed your entire post, what a great story of friendship, new beginnings and overcoming adversity too. AND…this is brilliant: “I’ve learned to flow with the current that my life leads me to. It sometimes takes a storm to push us in a new direction. It’s good to occasionally take time to look back at how far we’ve come.”

24 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Elin! Your comment made my day!

25 09 2013
Estelle Sobel Erasmus

Connie, Wow, what a story of reinvention and renewed purpose and love, too. I have always loved New Orleans and haven’t been back since Katrina. It appears that the city has recovered as has your spirit and heart and that’s beautiful.
Estelle

25 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks! If you ever make it back to New Orleans, let me know!

26 09 2013
barbarashallue

I love how you and Karen and New Orleans all shifted and changed and grew all together. Wonderful, inspiring post!

26 09 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Barbara!

14 11 2013
Manal The Go Go Girl (@manalgb)

What an inspirational post! As hard as both your experience and Karen’s were, you both discovered yourselves. You probably were always two amazing and talented women but it took hardships to get you out there. Great blog! I will stop by again:)

14 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks for you lovely comment. I look forward to hearing from you again!

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