Saturday, 12 March 2011

grounding oneself

I'm assuming that no one missed the news yesterday. We're all aware of the destruction and horror that took place in Japan. We were watching the news and I was explaining to the children what was going on. Explaining the tsunami was the toughest part because none of us could relate to it. The earthquake we could relate to.

Why the vintage kitchen images? In my home country, Iceland, earthquakes are common and usually they are small ones. But my children and I have experienced being at the source of an earthquake at 6.3 on the Richter scale, which is considered a strong one. It was in May 2008 in the south of Iceland. I'm not trying to evoke your sympathy and I'm certainly not comparing our situation to events in Japan yesterday. Far from it! But I know that fear, the fear that grips you during a strong earthquake...

the fear that grips you when you are holding on to your child under the kitchen table. The earth is rattling, the house is shaking, and it feels like it's going to last forever. Every nerve in your body is reacting to that fear. Your senses cannot grasp what's happening because in a way you are paralyzed. You've experienced earthquakes before but this is something totally different. The force of nature, the noise. Will the walls of the house hold? Will the roof come crumbling down? Is the world coming to an end? These are the questions that go through your mind in a second. You see a heavy piece of oak furniture go up in the air and crash on the living room floor with all its content and you hear all kinds of breaking noise. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, everything stops and you realize that you're not harmed in any way and your child is safe. Your house is still standing, the roof is in place. You run outside and all the neighbours are outside. The surrounding houses are fine – it's a new neighbourhood so they're strongly built. But there is smoke coming from the mountain. You learn afterward that the mountain was the source. One child is at school and one at playschool so you don't know if they're hurt or not. You run to pick them up and you just want to hug the first driver you meet who tells you that all the children are safe. Now you can begin to let go.

But the small aftershocks make the letting go part quite difficult because you're always alert. For me it actually took months. We all slept in the same room the first nights. The first night it was difficult to sleep because of the aftershocks. I remember getting out of bed very early in the morning, desperately needing to find something to ground myself. My solution was bread making. I went into the kitchen and I dug my fingers into that dough just to get the feeling of earth.

Earth. Earth. Earth. Be calm, earth.

Amazingly, in May 2008, there were no casualties and no one was seriously injured. The timing of the earthquake seemed to have been perfect because it took place on a sunny day right before 4 o'clock so most people, if at work, were spending the coffee break outside.

But take it from me, after an earthquake like that; grounding oneself in the kitchen is a good way to cope. I needed images like the ones above after watching the news footage from Japan.

My heart goes out to the people of Japan.


  1. Wow, how scary, Lisa. I think that's where they got the expression "earth shattering" because it is such a traumatic experience to live through. Glad you and your family were safe. xo

  2. Lisa, so sorry to read you and your family had to experience this and that you can imagine better then someone who hasn't had that experience, what an earthquake is like... The situation is Japan is horrific.

  3. I can somewhat relate to that feeling of family used to live in Oklahoma and experienced some pretty frightening tornadoes.

    What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, they say.

  4. This is such a special post Lisa. Catastrophs like this makes one rethink ones lifes....

  5. Fortunately, we only experienced the scary part, not the disastrous consequences.

    Anait, honestly, I think I'd choose earthquakes instead of tornadoes. Tornadoes scare me more!

  6. Ugh, it is such a catastrophe I don't even have words. And boy am I glad we don't have earthquakes in Norway, it sure sounds scary...

  7. I cannot believe what is happening in Japan right now, and cannot even begin to relate to anything that you have gone through or that of the people of Japan. The terror of having absolutely no idea of what is about to happen is no doubt one of the most frightening things known to man. I am glad to learn that you and your family were not hurt during your experience.

    I recall learning of other earthquakes about 15 years ago that happened in Japan, and in that case, my Dad was asked to move there to help re-build the city. We would have moved from Canada to Japan for a year, but my Mother was very pregnant with my brother, and my Dad, a diabetic. He feared the travel and what could possibly happen. The people of Japan are in my prayers...

  8. Lisa, it's dreadful what happened in Japan. I'm sorry you and your family had to go through such a trying experience in Iceland. We also have a powerful seismic zone here in Romania, I've experienced a couple of minor earthquakes, but I know from my parents the disaster a 7.7 earthquake on the Richter scale did in 1977 in the south of the coutry. My heart goes out to the people as Japan as well. Ada


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