As a Florida native, I’ve had the luxury of escaping to the beach on short notice. The oceans on either side of me are virtually only a movie’s length distance away from my doorstep. There are pictures of me at four plopped contentedly amid mounds of white confectionary sugar-like sand. (And, unfortunately there are also pictures of me at 64 virtually doing the same thing). I was thinking about this as I lazed away in a low beach chair beneath a Tommy Bahama umbrella recently. (The umbrella was rarely if ever present in my four year old beach days when sun screen and shade weren’t deemed essential by scientists or Moms alike). Even though I’m older and heavier the beach still offers a place of acceptance and equality regardless of size, age, income level, color, or even species. I write a lot about the plight of Lady Boomers (women of the baby boomer generation). Women of this generation have and continue to wear a lot of hats and are simultaneously professionals, Moms, daughters, grandmothers, volunteers and board members alike. Multi-tasking all of these roles can lead to “multi-taxing” our spirits. So my Rx for quieting our chatter-brains and addressing all this multi-tasking is a retreat to the beach or whatever destination affords you a place for meditation and contemplation. Imagine you are driving across the bridge to the beach. Feel and smell the humid, salty air as you allow the ocean breeze to penetrate the schedules, to-do lists, and deadlines that live inside your overworked brain. During your time in the sun, envision yourself.. *reading a novel (non-fiction not allowed) *frolicking in the water, delighting as you dive into the foamy washing machine waves, just like you did when you were a kid *scouting for seashells and sand dollars *walking along the water’s edge at low tide Escaping your to-do list should be on your to-do list this weekend. Now, why don’t you go from imagining this scene to acting on it? What would you ideal day off look like?At least ten years ago I created this clay sculpture which I entitled, "Beauty and the Beach".
Is it possible as we age, we get busier? My dad accused me of "wasting time" spending lazy summer days reading Gone with the Wind for hours, playing street tennis, spending entire days at Robinswood Recreation Park sunning on the lawn and swimming in 45 minute increments before the whistle blew for adult swim time. Somehow at 63 I've become a productivity addict. I feel like every minute should be imbued with constructive endeavors. But that attitude is more than a little exhausting. As I've limped into this Memorial Day weekend, my spirit sagging from the stress of 2-3 jobs, I'm building in some pauses. Dear friends are sharing their beautiful beach place with us. Just even the sight, sound, and smell of the ocean is soothing my spirit. Susan cooked us breakfast this morning. She swears it is a labor of love to care for others. I'm allowing myself to be cared about and for. It's hard for me to accept the generosity of others. In a previous post I talked about being a people pleaser. Part of the plight of the people pleaser is perfection and a seeming inability to accept things from others. I'm so tired, I have little choice this weekend but to accept, even welcome this caring. Peter Beagle wrote in The Last Unicorn..
"When I was alive, I believed-as you do- that time was at least as real and solid as myself, and probably more so. I said 1:00 as though I could see it, and “Monday” as though I could find it on a map…Like everyone else, I lived in a house bricked up with seconds and minutes, weekends and New Year’s Days, and I never went outside until I died, because there was no other door. Now I know that I could have walked through walls".I love that line..”Now I know that I could have walked through walls”. We suffer from invisible (or maybe sometimes not so invisible) constraints preventing us from taking control over our own time. Thoreau wrote extensively about capturing control over one’s life. “To effect the quality of your day is the highest of arts” he said. We needn’t be prisoners of time. According to Robert Levine in The Geography of Time, people who have time, who go to the movies in the middle of the work day or go on a 6 month sabbatical are temporal, they own their own time, not letting time own them. So, I plan to “waste some time” this weekend, how about you?
This is probably the last day we will awaken in our beach condo. Last night I was up to my elbows in the likes of parchment paper, ping-pong paddles and polymer clay. I was packing up bits of our lives from the last 21 years at our beloved New Smyrna Beach home. I awoke several times during the night and again at sunrise realizing this would be the last morning arising at our beach place. Boy, I realize this sounds like a first world problem (as opposed to a third world problem as I've heard my kids say). But the memories of summer days spent frolicking in foamy, washing machine waves, feeling like kids again, reading novels by the shore (non-fiction not allowed), or walking along the water's edge at low tide. This was the first place my husband and I considered our own (he having moved into the house I shared for years with my former husband). This has been a place for romance, solitude, a safe harbor for kids in transition, and friends. It has at various times served as a creative arts studio. I had a pottery wheel ensconced in the laundry room for many years; my food processsor and pasta maker took up residence in the hall cloest along with polymer clay and tools for sculpting. My husband kept a spare guitar in case a musical mood struck. This was a gift we could share with family members and friends- I don't think I ever gave a present as meaningful to others as a weekend at the beach. Jim and I called our Seascape Towers retreat our "sanctuary" (another name was our "love shack"). One could feel and smell the humid, salty air as you crossed the bridge to the island of New Smyrna, a place where the ocean breeze penetrated the schedules, to-do lists and deadlines living inside our overworked brains. These induced pauses were a source of inspiration... We came up with many "aha" moments here. Like naming our creative arts program for at-risk kids The Jeremiah Project. I wrote many a blog post with my toes burried beneath soft, crumbly, ivory colored sand, and my husband wrote pages of his book here. It was kind of the gift that kept on giving. As I close the door for the last time I'm reminded of the Shell Silverstein book, The Giving Tree. The book begins... "Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy...", and ends with "And the boy loved the tree...very very much… and the tree was happy." Thank you walls, floors, and ocean view for the people we came to be these last 21 years. We loved you very very much, and we were happy...
It’s Labor Day weekend, 2015. Labor Day always represents the closure of summer. Summer represents respite to me...days spent at the beach; travel to vacation destinations; a slackening of schedules and to-do -lists. But Labor Day also commemorates our days of laboring. I'd like to share a laboring technique that doesn't feel quite so much like labor. I'm sitting under a tent on the beach, laptop in hand with my feet buried beneath soft, crumbly ivory colored sand. I really am working, I'm just doing it to the accompaniment of the rhythmic sounds of a summer ocean. I'm using technology in a way that is advantageous to me; I'm not allowing it to use me (at least not at the moment). My cell phone is near by, as are the sandpipers and ruddy turnstones with their punk rocker hairdos. (Seagull relatives) Let's face it, most of us have to work. Work can take the form of office labor or the labor intensive responsibilities of caring for aging parents or parenting children/grand-children. Whether we are filling out those endless beginning of school year forms for our children, paying bills or typing on our laptops,do one thing that makes it all more pleasurable. Maybe your scenery isn't a turquoise ocean, but it still could be a garden, a lake, or a breeze brushing your cheek. Our parents taught us work first, play second. I think we are capable of doing both. If you can and when you can, perform your tasks/ work in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing. It will qualitatively improve your production. And besides, you might not mind doing it so much. As the poster child for laboring (literally and figuratively) Rosie the Riveter said, "We Can Do It!" Yes, we can.
We have a beach place in a little town on the East Coast of Florida. Every time we visit, I’m struck by the unbiased nature of the beach. The beach offers a place of acceptance and equality regardless of size, age, income level, color, or species. Imagine you are driving across the bridge to the beach. Feel and smell the humid, salty air as you allow the ocean breeze to penetrate the schedules, to-do lists, and deadlines that live inside your overworked brain. During your time in the sun, envision yourself... *reading a novel (non-fiction not allowed) *frolicking in the water, delighting as you dive into the foamy washing machine waves, like you did when you were a kid *scouting for seashells and sand dollars *walking along the water’s edge at low tide Now, since it’s Friday, why don’t you go from imagining this scene to acting on it this weekend.