Let’s follow the shoreline

islanddriftwood

island walking sunset

Step off the pine-needle strewn and tree-lined path; take your shoes off, and bury your toes in the fine, patterned sand. It’s better this way, or at least it’s the kind of adventure you seek today. You and your love arrive a bit before sundown, near where the river meets the sea, and you decide to see how far the tides will let you wander. It’s quiet here, save the rhythmic lapping on the shore and the egret that startles the peace with a harsh call as she dives into the marsh grass.

This is why you chose this place, and you’re grateful for this reminder in the chaos of long days.

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To capture a moment or to live in a moment?

matchymatchy

That’s me and T at the Seafood, Blues, & Jazz Festival here on the island.

No *real* pictures, because they wouldn’t let me bring my camera in. After fuming about that for a good ten minutes, I got over it and ultimately felt thankful for not having that distraction, though I obviously couldn’t resist a quick iPhone picture. I had planned to snap some pictures of the musicians, the grounds, and the seafood, to blog about it. The best laid plans… well, you know.

Instead, I reveled in the magnificence of the sunset over the river with live blues in the background, without the compulsion to capture it on film. Okay, so I did have the compulsion, but I was forced to let it go, and now I feel sure that I saw, felt, and appreciated more of the festival because of it.

Isn’t that a strange fact of our culture today? That ability and desire to record and share any and every moment of our lives? Don’t get me wrong, I love instagramming and pinning as much as the next girl, but I struggle with finding that balance between participating in the fun, fast-paced media frenzy of today and actually living in the moment, appreciating life in real-time. You know?

Marveling at the sunset for what it is: a fleeting, never-still, signal to the close of a day.

A camera can’t translate that reality; it can only represent it, or show a part of it.

Pictures can’t capture it all. Neither can words, of course. Because when we’re experiencing life as it happens, each of our senses contributes to each moment. I’ve noticed that if I’m focusing too much on what I’m going to write about something, or what to take a picture of, I end up missing out on other parts of the moment.

The wafting scent of funnel cake or the gentle sound of water lapping against the shore; the feeling of contentment from warm arms around me as I watch the setting sun quivering brightly on the water.

I think I’ll try leaving my camera at home on purpose next time.

Anyone else experience this tension? Do you have methods to step away from gadgets and technology and revel deeply in life as it happens?

On Compassion & Healing

Lake_Jones_Trail_textI’m in the middle of an eight-week class, “Real Foods for Real Life,” and it’s been enormously helpful in many ways. But the most valuable takeaway for me has little to do with food, at least on the surface.

As I’ve shared my own story and listened to others share their unique personal journeys with admirable vulnerability, I’ve left each class with a growing and deeper understanding of the importance of compassion when it comes to healing. And most of the time, each of us is healing one part of ourselves or another, aren’t we?

I’ve been thinking about how this is part of life, part of growing up: we have to be willing to consider ourselves honestly, to look closely at past choices, however misguided we believe we were and would like to forget, in order to choose something different for our future.

If we want to cultivate new life patterns, we usually need to heal something in ourselves, and this kind of deep healing evolves out of practicing compassion for others and compassion for ourselves.

What if we each gave ourselves permission to be exactly who we are, and to be exactly where we are, no excuses necessary? No beating ourselves up for this pound here or that pint of ice cream there.

The highest challenge: while looking closely, what if we don’t place one whit of judgement on ourselves?

I mean to say, we should give ourselves permission to look in the mirror, regardless of how lousy we feel, and say to ourselves, you’re exactly where you should be in this moment; and lucky you, you get to choose your next move.

Healing is challenging. It requires courage and persistence and no small amount of forgiveness, for ourselves, and sometimes for others. Healing requires digging deep and examining our choices without guilt or shame. In order to expose our truths, even to ourselves, and emerge with grace, we need kindness, compassion.

And yes, much of the work is personal, but we don’t have to go it alone. We can and should lift each other up on our respective journeys, but too often we keep our challenges to ourselves for fear of judgement or fear of burdening others with what we imagine to be challenges distinct to us alone. Of course we do, bombarded as we are, especially as women, by media that shows unrealistic, carefully curated and smoothed over versions of humanity. Rarely do we see the complex, imperfect, many-layered, beautiful truths illuminated.

But we need each other. However independent we feel we should be in today’s world, we need our neighbors, friends, and family as much as humans ever did.

So. Let’s illuminate those truths, without apology.

We’re flawed, complex, difficult to understand. We’re also beautiful and strong and here on earth to find happiness and love. Let’s share of ourselves, and support each other in uncovering our truths so that we can heal and take on the world. We’re worth it.