Monday, February 1, 2010

The Plunge

Someone once told me that if you jump, the net shall appear. Well, if you are anything like me, I need to see the net first. There is no way in hell that I will jump unless I know for darn sure, absolutely one hundred percent, no chance of any marginal error, that a safety net exists. So show me the net!

But I found out that life is not always about safety or predictability. As an immigrant (yes, I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I will tell you all about that chapter in my life later), I was used to starting over. So in a way, I was somewhat prepared for the complete and utter loss that Hurricane Katrina brought upon me and my family and the rest of us who call New Orleans "home." When I tell you we were left with nothing, I am not exaggerating. We evacuated just 30 miles from New Orleans to the country (a little house in the middle of nowhere that my father in law had the foresight to buy as his little "getaway" from the city). My entire family -- mother, blind father, brother, two sisters, their spouses, my two babies (then 4 months and 18 months), my sister's inlaws, and 17 cats and dogs -- all evacuated to a 3 bedroom cottage in Nowhere, USA, just outside of New Orleans. We rode out Katrina and lost all power and connection to the outside world. We heard through a crank up radio that the levees had breached and New Orleans was underwater. Little did I know that out of all of us, my house was right where the levees broke and I had lost everything. We had an overnight bag with a couple of changes of underwear and socks and that was our entire inventory. I remember being in Austin, TX in the weeks after the storm where one of my husband's friends was kind enough to offer us his guest room and going into a Gap and looking around like a dazed homeless person. When the sweet, bubbly, teenage clerk came up to me to ask if there was anything she could find for me, I broke down crying. I mean, where do you start? "I need everything," I told her, sobbing. I have no clothes, no shoes (except for these old tennis shoes), no nothing!!!!

But we had our health, and our jobs (at least, we hoped we still did), and a bank account (albeit in a back submerged in 10 ft of mucky water, and each other. And that was more than 99% of most people in this world.

So we started over. From scratch. And we commuted every day with 2 small kids in the back of my station wagon from the little country house to my office in downtown New Orleans for 1 1/2 hours each way. It was miserable. The months after Katrina. Going back and forth to a city that looked like the napon bomb had exploded. Not knowing where to start, how to rebuild, where to begin.

But we did. One step at a time. Baby steps at times. And slowly, the fear started leaving me and it was replaced by a strength and determination that I didn't know I had. And I worked the long hours, and then some more at home in the evenings, so that we could rebuild and I could put my husband through accounting school (he had lost his job and it was difficult to be employed unless you were a professional) and keep the family going. I worked very hard at giving my children the stability they needed in a world that wasn't stable anymore. And throughout all those years that it took to come back home (three and a half before we rebuilt and moved back here), I realized that it was during my most desperate moments -- during those times when I felt so alone and so miserable and so scared and lost -- there was a net holding me, holding us. It may not always have been so obvious (trust me), but we made it through safely.

So it is now, as I take a step into the unknown, leaping from the stability and certainty and safety of my legal profession (which made me so stressed and tired and worn out for so long) into the uncertainty and insecurity of something that I absolutely adore (which is to fill my life with beauty and bring that beauty to others), that I must remind myself that the net is all around me, even at the times when financially, it seems like I made a huge, huge mistake for me and my family. But I'm leaping and I'm leaping because in this life, nothing is certain and you may wake up one day and find yourself with nothing but the clothes on your back. But a net is always there, waiting to catch you so long as you are not afraid to free fall for a while.

This is my net. My new shop in beautiful, rebuilt New Orleans.


  1. It's the best looking net I've ever seen! You've come back so strong after so much destruction. It's an amazing story.

  2. What an amazing styory. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Your shop looks great, I think that it is important to follow your heart and you are proof of this.

    A bientot,


  3. Hello Karina,

    Bienvenue to the Blog!

    What a story you have to tell. Your shop is so elegant. I look forward to your posts and visiting your etsy shop.

    Bonne chance,


  4. Bonjour Karina,
    You have such and incredible story, it shows the strength of human character. It is so inspiring how you and your family have rebuilt a beautiful life and business.
    I found your new blog via Stephanie and so glad I came by.
    Boone chance on your fabulous boutique, it looks so elegant.
    Have a great week.

  5. You are such an inspiration and such a beautiful strong person! Welocme into the Blogosphere and looking forward to all the amazing posts in the future.

  6. clearly your net is woven together with inspiration, determination, and some dreamy dreams ... bless you dear tenacious woman ... I cannot even imagine what this must've been like (I cry if I have a hangnail) ... I lift my French crystal goblet to you ... clink ... cheers ... here's to much success and a friendship

    I feel like I already know you thru S.

  7. Love the way you've told your story. Can't wait to hear more!

    Love the shop by the way!


  8. Hi Karina,
    Your story is so difficult and painful to imagine yet the outcome is optimistic and beautiful! Congratulations for coming out on the other side of tragedy and being blessed with a wonderful new life!

  9. This was so amazing to read... I obviously knew about the hurricane but to read it from your personal point of view was something else.. Incredible... - thank you for sharing this with us. And your shop just looks amazing - good luck with it all and the blog and welcome to the blogosphere too...

  10. Hi Karina! It's wonderful to see your blog, and more wonderful to meet you in New Orleans last week...I will be doing a post on your fabulous shop in the next few days...I am so touched by your story of Katrina etc and from the looks of it when I met you you are so together and beautiful! I look forward to following you!



  11. Bravo Karina...I loved reading your story and admire your courage and conviction. xv

  12. I've come over from A Paris Apartment, and Mandy worked on my blog, too. What a story you have! I can only imagine what you've been through. I applaud your courage in re-making your life. Your shop is beautiful and inspiring - just like New Orleans.


  13. I can't even imagine how tough it must have been for y'all. It was an ordeal for me just watching on the telly. I frequently had to turn if off because I couldn't bear seeing the people sobbing in their loss, and all the poor misplaced animals. I just wanted to take every single durn person and animal in N.O home with me! But I know in lifes toughest times we discover who we really are and what we're really made of. And just look at you now! A bright and shining beacon of white! *winks* Frenchy white lol! Vanna

  14. En verdad que existe la calma despues de la tormenta. Cheers to new beginings!


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