Foreboding Joy

Family & F.I.T.  |  Debbie Hatch

Have you ever experienced foreboding joy?  You know, that sense when everything is going great, you had better watch out.  You can’t let yourself feel too happy.  You need to be prepared and on guard.  Things are too good.  Something bad is about to happen at any moment.

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I first heard the term in my on-going Brene Brown, Strong Rising, mindset course.  Twenty years prior to this class, I remember experiencing foreboding joy.  I didn’t know what it was called at the time.  We had left Maine for the first time and were living in Texas.  Brent was going to school, the kids were enrolled in day camp, and I had nothing to do for the first time in my life.  It was unsettling.  We had family game nights each evening.  We laughed, played, and simply enjoyed each other’s company.  We shared stories of cacti and scorpions.  We wore trash bags to a rodeo in the a thundershower.  We ate ice cream, frequently; watched small planes fly, and learned that running to the oil well you could see might mean you’d be running for ten miles.  Life was fantastic!!!


I worried, constantly.  Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.24.38 PM

I knew something bad was going to happen.  I didn’t know what or when but things were too good.  Something bad always happened.  I pushed the thoughts away until they started manifesting themselves as nightmares while I slept.

Over the years, I’ve really worked on eliminating this.  It does nothing for me – worry or not, what is going to  happen is going to happen.  By worrying when nothing was happening, I was not allowing myself to feel joy in the moment.  Little by little, I’ve gotten better but, sometimes I still have to consciously think about it.



This was the case as we headed to vacation.  This trip had been planned for a decade.  We were super excited!  We’ve both dove around 300 dives.  But….on the flight from Fiji to Guadalcanal, I thought, “I’m excited but also quite anxious.  I feel worried and nervous – not about anything in particular.  Just overall.”  I talked to Brent about it and he reassured me everything would be fine but said he felt the foreboding joy too.  Neither of us could quite put our finger on it.  It got worse for Brent through the first day of diving.  Once I got in the water, it got much better for me.  By day two, it was gone.


The trip was positively amazing and I’m so glad we didn’t spend any more time allowing worry to steal our happiness in the moment.

Travel Log:  Day  4  Guadalcanal


The van picked us up from the airport and our guide, Leonard, his teeth stained red from betel juice, gushed about his homeland.  The Solomon Islands is an island nation located in the southwest Pacific, 1,500 miles west of Fiji and 1,200 miles northeast of Australia.



Leonard shared bits and pieces of information as we drove from Honiara to the dive boat, and beamed as he told us how proud “everyone” was of their tiny rugby team making the World cup.  I noticed trash, the price of gas ($6.57 / liter) ramshackle buildings, and people, every where.  The city of Honiara did not seem like a place I would care to spend much time and it must have showed on my face because, again, Brent reassured me.  “I’m sure you’re wondering what I got you into.  Don’t worry.”


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I wasn’t worried but I WAS trying to take everything in!  This is a 3rd world country where people are merely trying to survive.  I wondered how many tribes lived here, what it was like during WWII, and what the people’s life expectancy is currently (the answer is 67).  It is important to note that as time went on, we were told by multiple people not to judge the SIs by Honiara.  It is not indicative of the small island villages.  After having visited several of the villages, myself, I whole-heartedly agree!


We arrived at the dock and were shuttled to the dive boat (mv Bilikiki – a 125 ft long ship with 24 ft beam and 10 ensuite cabins) where we met Chaba (originally from Hungary) and his wife Daniella (originally from Venezuela); dive masters and managers of the Bilikiki for the past four years.  There was just enough time to settle in and unpack before we left the harbor at 1830.


We consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have been joined by:

Group photo

  • The original owner, Rick – who bought this sunken boat from the government years ago, and restored it, with no business plan and no aspirations to “get rich”.  He had never even heard of The Solomon Islands and was merely following his passion and dream “to scuba dive”.
  • The current owner, Sam – who, although he doesn’t have Rick’s incredible story, is carrying on his legacy for both a passion in diving and in helping the people of these islands.
  • Two couples from Denver – one of whom sold their house, put everything they own into a 10 x 10 storage unit and have been “homeless” living everywhere from Japan to England, Africa, to the US for the past five years – and loving it!
  • A 65 year old apple farmer and his wife – who started their business with a small vegetable stand beside the road and now employ close to 100 people in one of the biggest orchards in upstate NY.  Both jump out of helicopters to go skiing!  Dennis had only completed his open water certification before coming on this trip.  He was OVER-THE-MOON excited every single dive!!!  It made me very happy.
  • A 72 year old gentleman from Long Beach who takes two to three of these trips each year, and had amazing stories to share.
  • A mysterious guy from Phoenix, who never would answer the question “what do you do?”
  • A lady from the Australia prosecutor’s office who has been stationed on Guadalcanal since the Solomon’s civil war in the early 2000s.  She told us the most prevalent crimes are domestic violence and given the small population, per capita, murder.
  • A couple from Los Angeles and a young couple from Mexico.

Meeting people like this was icing on the cake.  I loved their passion; the stories of success for “just” following a personal dream; and the shared experiences.  I felt it ignite my own passion….for life.

Tomorrow, we dive.

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