Maggie Gets Her Groove Back: Life After Irma

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  – Walt Disney

When my husband told me he had a job offer that was for doing what he loved, was good at, and was a jump up the ladder leading to his ultimate career goals, I was excited to join him on his journey. When I learned the job would take us to St Maarten in the Caribbean, a place I’d only been once when a cruise ship dropped us in the port, where we were shuttled through people selling rum, hats, and diamonds (none of which we could afford at the time as we were newlyweds), I gave it a lot of thought. Finally, I decided I was curious about what my life would be like in an international environment (St Maarten is split between Dutch and French countries) and I was excited for my kids to grow up on a beach speaking and hearing different languages.

My kids right before we went to the shelter, watching the clouds roll. We decided the apartment might not hold up when we learned Irma would be cat 5.

I imagined less fighting over the Xbox, less time spent indoors waiting out the Oregon rain (although I love Oregon with all my heart, I was, I admit, sick of the rain), more time as a family, and more exploring of different islands and cultures.

My 3-year old son waiting for military evacuation at the destroyed airport next to Dutch military and police.

Those islands were decimated about 3 weeks after we arrived. Our apartment was completely ruined. We, along with about 500 other people, sought shelter at my husband’s workplace, one of the few buildings on St Maarten that was built to withstand a category 5 hurricane. We survived and we were airlifted off the island about 7 days later to Puerto Rico. Another beautiful island with beautiful people that sadly, is also in ruins.

The hotel where they took us as refugees in Puerto Rico. A steady stream of people donated clothing, toys, and toiletries to the families at the hotel. There were so many items they overflowed into the parking lot.

We landed in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I haven’t felt like running. My entire blog column is devoted to how to get your groove back, and here I am, without a groove.

But today I ran around my new neighborhood for the first time. The air was crisp and the ground was flat. I didn’t know where I was going but running has always been about finding new routes, exploring new areas. My curiosity, for the first time in a while, was back. I was free on my feet, exploring new streets, and enjoying new sites. I don’t know what the future holds or where we’ll end up. But for now, I’m getting my groove back in a new city and I’m ready to run again.

6 responses to “Maggie Gets Her Groove Back: Life After Irma

  1. Maggie, I also was extremely touched and crying while running/walking and internally complaining about getting my groove back. You have inspired me and I’m sure so many others ,that we are strong and will get our groove back no matter what the circumstances. Keep on, keeping on.

  2. Maggie – My mouth just remained open in shock and tears listening to you on the podcast. I live in New England, and we have some weather “events”, but none that truly take our homes, just our life’s convenience. I am happy to hear you are safe and sound and ready to really get your groove back! Hope you have some shiny new running kicks too. Sometimes running inspiration does not come from running stories…

  3. Maggie, my heart goes out to you, your family and all of the people who have had their lives turned upside down in the recent natural disasters. Your story told on your blog and in the podcast us so amazing. Your courage and optimism are inspirational. I wish you all the best as you continue to rebuild.

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