Two White Dogs, One Control-Freak Partner

Regular readers of my blog will know how well I embrace uncertainty, how easily I welcome the unknown. 

Remember, folks, I am a woman who plans for every conceivable eventuality—no matter how unlikely that outcome might be.

Indeed, I’m a woman who, for the most part, fears one thing— and one thing only–

—not knowing what’s next. 

I hate it—dread it—am likely to beat the offending uncertainty with a big stick, one guaranteed to pin-down-the-details—

—and soon!

Bottom line—

I want to know.  I want to know now.  And the soon-to-be-known sure as hell better not change.

You get the picture.

Well, it turns out, the world of humanitarian aid—if it’s about one thing—it’s all about not knowing—the ultimate in open-endedness.  And if there’s one thing about disasters—besides being really bad—it’s that they’re difficult to plan for.  One tries to mitigate, for sure.  But mitigation only goes so far.

So, it seems, good news for the rest of the world—i.e. no massive disasters in developing countries—can mean less-good-news for some in the business of disaster response—at least, some like my Sara who specializes in the “biggies.”  She goes in when things are off-the-chart bad, puts the pieces back together, eventually working herself out of a job, so national NGO staff can take over once things are a little less dire.

How counter-intuitive to be in the business of humanitarian aid and know that good news for the rest of the world can mean bad economic news for you!

So, it turns out—that Friday, July 1st will be Sara’s last day of employment with the NGO she’s worked for on and off for 20 years—at least her last day this time around.  We found this out just last Thursday.

The organization kept her on for 3 months expecting something would come along.  We’ve waited patiently, anticipating something soon—very soon—any day now.  But, it seems, tsunamis in 1st world countries like Japan don’t call for the same level of aid they do in developing countries like Indonesia.

Bottom line—

If anyone knows of an international NGO looking to hire a disaster response specialist—

—with two white dogs— 

Ralph and Lucy

and one control-freak partner— 

that would be me!

— feel free to get in touch. 

We’re open to going just about anywhere—literally.  We lived last year in post-earthquake Haiti, the year before that in Vietnam.  Sara spent a year in Afghanistan. 

We do dire.  In fact, we do dire really well. 

I just don’t do not knowing.

Sara may be excited about new opportunities, but I want to know what they are already and be settled there next week—

—(though last week would be even better).

Yeah—like I said—

—one control-freak partner!

29 thoughts on “Two White Dogs, One Control-Freak Partner

  1. Wow! This is big news. I can relate to how you feel. I also used to have a very structured life where everything was planned for, but I’ve gotten used to living with uncertainty over the last year and have discovered it can be a good thing. Hopefully this will lead to new and exciting opportunities for both of you. Sounds like Sara is pretty good at what she does so I’m sure she won’t be ‘on the market’ for long 🙂


    • I know. It’s damn big news–not the good kind either! I’m a little stressed, but, Sara doesn’t seem worried. Then again, she specializes in disaster. I’m sure things will be fine. If we could only be there already!


  2. Kathryn, wow! If I have confidence in anything in this world it is that you and Sara will land on your feet with strength and grace in an exciting new adventure. Meanwhile, I understand that the waiting and not knowing is crazy making. So, focus on what you can do. Focus on what you do know. Focus on writing, on being together, on making your already beautiful home even more wonderful. The reality is that even when you know, you don’t really know, especially when you work in a business like disaster relief. I imagine two disasters rarely look the same. When you look at it from that perspective, Kathy, you yourself are a master at facing the unknown. Good luck


    • I guess in some ways I have dealth with a lot of “unkowns.” I hadn’t even thought of that, Lisa. I’m, kind of an old pro at this in some ways! How strange but true!

      What’s weird to me–but good–is that this doesn’t really seem to phase Sara. Yes, she’s grieving that is stage is ending, but having done this work for so long, she takes this kind of thing in stride. It’s the nature of the beast–so to speak.

      Thanks for the support, Lisa! We will be fine. I will worry. But we will be fine! I have complete confidence in my partner!


  3. Wow, that is huge news! Did they give her no indication that this might happen? I just can’t believe that they would let go somebody with her skills and experience.

    Good luck to you and Sara for the future. I hope you know what that is very soon.


    • It’s such a long story.

      This is how this “business” works. So though we did not expect this to happen, the longer we went with no new disaster, the more likely it became that this could happen. If the tsunami in Japan had happened in a developing country it would be an entirely different picture. While we were waiting, the organization asked if she would be willing to go to Japan if they decided to work there, and, of course, she said yes. However, the NGO had never worked there, as the Japanese pride themselves on their self-suffiency, and ultimately that’s what made them decide not to start a rebuilding project there. So the longer we waited with no new disaster, the more possible this began to seem.

      But, it kind of stresses me. Sara, however, takes it all in stride.

      We’ll just have to wait and see–BUT I don’t do wait-and-see very well!


      • What DOES it take to get Sara rattled?! No wonder she’s so good at the disaster thing. The way things have been going in recent years there is bound to be another disaster soon.

        What’s been happening in Haiti since you left?


      • The only thing that get Sara rattled is if I leave any untidiness in my wake! Ha, ha! Seriously, actually!

        Nothing extraordinary has happened that I’m aware of. Election results seemed to go rather smoothly–a hell of a lot more smoothly than they did in December!


  4. You know what they say about one door closing and another opening. Of course, I’m still waiting for my own new door to open…

    My last company manufactured pressure washers, so when disasters like hurricanes and BP oil spills hit, our business took off. I always felt weird about that, too; why should we profit from other’s misery? But, somebody’s gotta do the cleanup.


    • Yes, Mark, exactly. It’s so weird! It really is bizarre to have your economic security depend on someone else’s misfortune. However, you don’t really think about it that way, when you are doing the really important work of responding to a disaster. You feel good about what you’re doing. But when there is no work because there had been no disaster, you start to feel really weird about it. Sara just does such a specialized kind of work. She has incredible skill, but they are very focused on rebuilding post-disaster–especially the initial part of that process. She thinks of herself as a kind of “fire fighter.”


  5. Oh Kathy…I feel yours and Sara’s pain…I worked for non-profits for years (communications), but the employment was always temporary. When I became a single mom, that was not practical for me, so I moved into more “stable” career options. I hope something else comes along soon for Sara!



  6. Oh Kathy…I feel yours and Sara’s pain! I worked for non-profs (communications) for many years, but the jobs were always temporary! Once I became a single mother, that was no longer practical, and I had to look at other career opportunities. Hope something comes along soon for Sara!



    • Thanks for the vote of support, Tori! I have to admit, though, that those little things like coffee and tea mean a lot to me too. I get pissy without. Sara, on the other hand, does well without! She’s the real hero!


  7. Wow! I wasn’t expecting to hear this AT ALL. I used to work for non-profits as well and we always used to talk about “working ourselves out of a job” (meaning that we would make everything better and there would be no more need for our services), but it never actually happened. This is different!

    I can understand the uncertainty and anxiety about the future, but I’m sure Sara will land something wonderful really soon– disaster response or not. Fingers crossed for the two of you!


    • I think this situation is unique to international disaster response. Program sustainability depends on getting the expats out of the way and teaching local staff to do the work. Thanks for crossing those fingers, but would you mind crossing your toes, as well! Ha, ha!


  8. Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 37:7a
    breathe. breathe again.
    believe God.
    best to you as you free fall into the unknown (to you)…
    The universe will unfold as it should…we have no control over that which we have no control…you know?
    The only control we do have is over our thoughts and words and actions…what we believe.

    Kathy…this is big news…I will be praying that you are blanketed in peace as you wait.



    • Gosh, Jane–that’s exactly what it feels like–free-falling into the unknown! And I have never been one to want to sky dive! However, I have complete confidence, as I know you do, that these things happen as they are meant to–no mistakes here. Thanks for your prayers, Jane!


  9. I guess we have a lot to talk about when I get there! Hang in there- fear of the unknown, uncertainty- the stuff nightmares are made of. One day at at time Kathy dear. It will all work out for you and Sara to reach your highest good….


  10. Oh Kathy I do empathise and if my wee model is right you really are in the room of confusion? Remember this is good! and for what it is worth I think you ‘do’ not knowing rather brilliantly. Love your photos!


    • Oh, Penny, thank you! I’m so glad you think I do “not-knowing” well! Probably I’m doing it a lot better than I would have in the past! The dogs are cute, aren’t they? Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend, my friend!


  11. That seems awfully abrupt considering the lengths (and places) Sara has gone to in an effort to help… I’m hoping this means a new beginning for you both, while in the meantime you perfect your coping skills.
    Today, Lexington, tomorrow, the world!


    • I guess I would have to agree, Deanna–abrupt and most unfortunate! I try to have an upbeat attitude–but this morning, for instance, I am a bit pissed! I just don’t know how Sara maintains such a positive attitude!

      Hope you’re enjoying your holiday!


  12. lol! I’m loving that photo of you. I know the feeling all too well.

    I hope something near-perfect (who needs perfection??) for you both comes along soon.


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