Tag Archive | nature

my balanced life (or bring on the joy)


Do you remember what joy feels like?

little blonde girl in a grass skirt running in the surf

I spent the weekend at the beach in a one-bedroom condo across the street from a perfect stretch of beach.  My sister and her husband came down for the weekend, with my three-year-old niece.

If you ever forget what joy feels like, spend the weekend with a three year old.  Dress her in a grass skirt and watch her run along the shoreline, kicking up water, laughing and giggling with the glee of the ages.

Three year olds are as tickled by the dead fiddler crab as she is the live hermit crabs.  That kind of exuberance is contagious.

Three year olds don’t worry about how they look in their bathing suit.

little blonde girl buried in sand

They don’t worry about getting covered in sand.  Although if you bury them in it, they may exclaim, “Daddy, that’s gwoss,” before shaking themselves free and galloping down the beach again.

If you’re lucky, they are as happy to take a long nap after a morning on the beach as you are.  And you might find, if you wake up with a little hand holding yours, a little bit of their natural joy seeped from their hand to yours while you slept.

Question:  What brings you joy? 

my balanced life (or finding my margin)


keep calm and go to the beach

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the need to find margin, that slice of space needed to prevent overload in a busy life.  Michael Hyatt writes about it here.

Margin is not something that comes easily in a busy life. I’ve been feeling the crush of deadlines and responsibilities the last six months.  I’ve talked a lot about needing to get away.  To create a little margin away from my day-to-day responsibilities.  But being able to actually make that margin in my life just wasn’t happening.

Right now, my business schedule doesn’t allow me to be away from my office for more than a day here and there.  That is a reality that won’t change in the near future.

Which means the most margin I can carve out right now is a little weekend trip.

When I do get away, I need to find somewhere close.

It also helps to know which setting is most relaxing to me.

For some people, it’s the mountains.

For others, it’s a big, bustling city.

But I find peace at the beach.

sunrise on Hilton Head Island

I am blessed enough to live fifteen minutes from the beach.  But even that entails packing a day bag, towel and chair, snacks and water bottles, and then sitting in traffic.

This weekend, my friends were sweet enough to lend me their one-bedroom beach condo on Hilton Head Island.  The commute to the beach was grabbing the beach chair and my beach bag and walking across the street, over the boardwalk and across the sand.

I was there to watch the sun set behind the beautiful condos dotting the beach, watching the sky change from blue to pink to black.

I was there to watch the sun rise above the pine trees and sea grass.

The most strenuous responsibility I had was holding my book up high enough to avoid the waves and moving my chair in and out, following the tide.

A nice long walk at end the day.  An early morning jog to start the next.

Short walks back to the condo for naps as needed.

Paradise.

Margin.

Peace.

Whatever you want to call it, I found it this weekend.

I have a few hours left before I have to make that big fifteen-minute commute back home.  My teenager awaits my return.  As do my four dogs.  And my fifty pound backpack of responsibilities.

But for now, I’m going to grab my beach chair, beach bag and beach read and head back to enjoy the last of my time away.  My margin.

Question:  Do you schedule margin in your life?  That break from your responsibilities that gives you the chance to recharge and rejuvenate? 

adventures in dating (or a love like that)


Sufi poet Hafiz

I adore love stories.  Sometimes I’m lucky enough to meet someone who shares their love story with me, like George and Faye.  Sometimes I get to watch a love story in action, no words or explanations needed.

My beautiful friend and yoga guru, Carrie, is braving Stage IV ovarian cancer.  Her path has been littered with obstacles since her diagnosis.  Blood clots.  Unsuccessful chemo treatments.  Bowel blockages.

Overriding everything is the strength and love of her husband, Herman.

Carrie was hospitalized two hours away from home for a month.  Herman was there every day until he had to return to work.  Then he commuted back and forth each day after work.

Their love story has had the same highs and lows that all long-term relationships have.  But where the rubber met the road, there’s Herman, standing tall, a gentle giant.

Now that Carrie’s back home, Herman works full time then performs home inspections in the evening and on weekends.  The full-time job provides health insurance and living money.  The home inspections pay for Carrie’s medication, which are averaging a thousand dollars a month.

Carrie is the original outdoor girl.  She was raised in rural Pennsylvania on 100 acres in the mountains.  She’s more at home in a kayak on the river than in a store.

She sells Arbonne, whose sign of success is a white Mercedes.

Since Carrie’s diagnosis, Herman bought a previously-owned, white Mercedes SUV, lovingly restored it and outfitted it with a rack for Carrie’s kayak and stand-up paddle board.

I’ve talked to Herman a few times.  Asked him how he’s doing. Whether it’s standing outside her hospital room, or meeting at the now-closed yoga studio, or talking on the phone to coordinate visits, the answer never changes.

It doesn’t matter how I am.  Nothing matters but Carrie.

Carrie and Herman having a loving moment in happier times

I want a love like that.  The selfless love of Sufi poet Hafiz’s poetry.  The selfless love I see in Herman when he talks about Carrie.

Sunday was a special day for Carrie.  A day of fasting, prayer, healing thoughts and positive energy.

In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus tells us, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Carrie’s friends each did something Sunday for her healing. Some friends fasted.  Some prayed.  Some sent Reiki.  Others sent positive thoughts of healing – imagining Carrie whole and well, her smile lighting up the room. All sent love.  None more than Herman.

lessons from my garden (or I am ready for new soil)


peace lily with two large blooms

I am mending my plant serial killer ways. A couple of weekends ago, I realized I’ve had two peace lilies for five years. One of them was an office-warming present from Client Number One when I left the Big Firm.

Once I got past the amazement of keeping anything alive for five years, I realized the peace lilies were looking crowded and root-bound in their pots. I spent a peaceful, joyful afternoon with Eliza, my favorite five-year old friend, carefully removing the plants from their pots. Gleefully dumping five-year old potting soil and spreading it around the backyard. (Every adult I know could use a lesson in gleeful from any available five year old!)

There’s something inherently satisfying about digging into a fresh bag of potting soil. Maybe it’s my farmer grandfather’s spirit hovering nearby. Or maybe just the memory of wandering around his basement with its rows of African violets and blue lights.

Eliza and I played in the dirt like five-year olds. Which one of us actually is. Transferring potting soil from bag to pot. Carefully separating the contents of each pot. Setting each half in its own pot. Filling in soil around listless roots. Giving each half a new home, old roots surrounded by new, nutrient-rich soil. Watering each plant to ease the transition to its new home.

I grew up a Navy brat. We moved a lot. Eleven schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade. My roots were frequently pulled up and planted somewhere new. The sole consistency in each new home was my parents and my siblings.

Live Oak trees draping over dirt road

When Sweetness was a baby, we made a choice to settle somewhere our children could have roots. Roots that are as deep as the live oak trees that surround us here in the beautiful Low Country we chose as home. Eighteen years later, I know I made the right decision. Sweetness and The Genius have roots that are deep and sturdy. They have a support system that goes far beyond their immediate family.

live oak tree

Sometimes people need to be transplanted, too. Life in the old pot gets too crowded. Our soil is leached of nutrients. Our roots are bound because we’ve run out of room to grow.

When Sweetness graduated last year, she moved to Charleston. Two hours away is far enough to count as being transplanted. There’s an indescribable satisfaction watching your child flourish. New soil. A little watering from mama and daddy. She’s blooming as sweetly as ever. Roots firmly planted. And the sure knowledge that there will always be roots she can come home to.

After eighteen years in one place, my roots are starting to feel a little root-bound. I love the life I made here. But the wandering feet I grew up with are getting antsy. Usually, a yearly trip to a new locale pacifies my wandering ways. Sadly, my work schedule isn’t allowing more than a three-day weekend here and there.

Maybe it isn’t my location, but my job that needs to change. Or the men I’m dating. Or the hobbies I’m choosing.

beautiful peace lily bloom

I am ready for a change. Ready to be transplanted. Ready for new soil, fresh out of the bag, teeming with nutrients. Ready to be watered so I can bloom, bigger and brighter than ever.

Question: Have you ever been transplanted? How did it turn out for you?

adventures in dating (or I get by with a little help from my friends)


group of smiling friends

 

Men are lovely but what every girl really needs is her friends.  Men come and go like the tide.

A tight group of friends will carry you through heartaches and heartbreaks.  They will celebrate with you when things are going well.  They will analyze your love life with you until even you don’t want to talk about it anymore.

This week, I need my friends even more than usual.  Nature Boy and I spent five days together last week.  It was fun and easy.  Being with Nature Boy is always easy.  But he’s as skittish as one of the wild stallions who roam out west.  By Friday, he’d scattered like one of those startled stallions.

Since Coach left, I’ve done a good job of not getting too attached to any given man.  I rotate a few fellas, going out when our schedules collide.  I’m always open to meeting new guys.  But Nature Boy makes me feel things I’ve never felt before.   He makes me want things I haven’t wanted in a long time.  Stillness.  Togetherness.

I’m thankful for my generous friends who laugh with me, storm with me, cry with me.  Whatever I need.  Whenever I need it.

What I need most this week is to stay busy and to forget.  Forget how good it felt being with Nature Boy.


adventures in dating (or miss independence)



lit sparklers

Three years ago this month I leapt madly toward independence.  It was like jumping out of a tenth floor window of a burning building.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if there is something waiting to break your fall.  Where you are is so bad, you have to take that leap of faith.

Asking for a divorce was the scariest thing I’ve ever done.  I tortured myself with self-doubt.  What if I was wrong?  What if he was right, and we were supposed to stay together?  What if the separation destroyed our kids?

What if I went through all the pain of the separation and then ended up with someone else exactly like the one I left?

What if I ended up ALONE?  I couldn’t imagine a fate worse than being alone.

I found a dead Monarch butterfly on my back patio around that time.  I saved it, wrapped in tissue in a Premier Jewelry box.  Whenever I was tempted to call my ex, I’d pull the box out.  I’d remind myself that if I stayed in my marriage, my soul would be as dead as that little butterfly.

Three years later, I look back on the woman I was like she’s a character in a book I read. Her grief is a distant memory, more like something I’ve watched on TV than lived firsthand.

Her anger and bitterness a distasteful chapter in a book I never want to read again.

power to choose

I’m thankful for my beautiful children, who worried about me and took care of me as much as I took care of them.  We grieved together.  For a family lost.  A husband and father absent.  For what could have been.  And never was.

As I write these words, tears pour down my cheeks.  A reminder that maybe the pain isn’t as distant as I thought.

I’m thankful for my friends who remind me of Jeremiah 40:31.  But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

My friends stood next to me.  They soared with me when I could.  They ran with me when I couldn’t.  They walked with me when that’s all I had left.

A couple of times in the last few months, I’ve thought to myself, I love being single.  Or, I like being single more than I ever liked being married.  It’s taken most of the three years to get to this point.

Being alone doesn’t scare me anymore.  I know there will always be people in my life.  Family to love.  Friends to lean on.  Boys to play with.

It takes time to get to this place.  And it’s a good place.

Maybe it’s because I’m in this place that Nature Boy finally found me.

Nature Boy is my biggest surprise.  He drifts in and out of my life like an unanchored boat.  When he’s around, he brings peace and stillness.  He soothes my soul.  As I soothe his.

Five years before I met him, I pointed out his sailboat to my photographer sister.  She snapped the pic and it’s been hanging in my office ever since.  From my desk, if I look left, there’s a picture of Sweetness.  If I look right, there’s a picture of Nature Boy’s sailboat.

Serendipity?  Fate?  Whatever brought Nature Boy to me now, I’m in a good place to enjoy it.  Enjoy him.

Question:  Have you declared your independence yet?  Or are you happily dependent?

my balanced life (or Regina Mae lies down)


lady bug on a gardenia

Sometimes a balanced life means lying around and not doing a thing but smelling the gardenias.  So, that’s just what I did today.

Lying on the couch on the back patio, enjoying the breeze from the ceiling fan, I let myself be swept away in Nora Robert’s newest adventure, The Witness.  The closest I came to productivity was transplanting my peace lily and separating it into two pots – one for the yoga room and one to go back to the office.

Normally, my days are frenetically filled from sun up to sun down.  Usually, I welcome the activity.  I embrace the harried pace of my life.

But some days, I enjoy the opportunity to loll around, enjoying the ceiling fan and the air conditioning.  Catching up on a new book or two.  Clearing out the DVR.

Today I’m taking an electronic moratorium.  No cell phone buzzing.  No texts pulling me away from the plot line of my book.  Hush Facebook.  Whatever it is can wait.  My mind needs to breathe.  My muscles need to relax.

My body has been sending me signals.  Panic attacks.  The fall at the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

palmetto tree overlooking the marsh

This weekend, I’m taking heed to the warning bells.  I have nowhere to be.  Nothing much to do.  Except breathe and enjoy the scenery.

As each hour of this restful day passes, fight or flight signals ebb and wane until all is quiet.  In my mind.  In my heart.  In my soul.

I’m going to go watch a movie now.  Maybe in a little while, I’ll light up the grill.  But then again, maybe I won’t.

Question:  What is your body telling you?  Are you listening to it?