Is it time?

I’ve struggled to find anything new or interesting to say lately. For the last two years, I’ve written daily, both poetry and in my journals. Writing helped me process emotions and feelings that had bubbled up over the past years.

Then, this summer when I’ve had to manage one of the busiest times of my life, I’ve written essentially nothing.

Travel, moving, grandchildren, volunteer work, and illness (darn Covid!) have consumed me. But the good news is I’ve managed well. I feel balanced. And maybe that’s the sign I am moving on, ready to tackle whatever is coming next. Bring it on.

Florence, Italy

When Life Interrupts Life

I had planned to visit Nantucket this summer. I had planned to head out for an evening cruise from either Mystic or Connecticut River Museum. I had planned to finally tackle some of the summer house projects I haven’t gotten to.

Instead, we had a busy summer packed with buying and selling a house in VA (four trips back and forth), lots of family with children and babies, many volunteer hours for Nope’s Island Conservation Association, and a new volunteer opportunity: president of the Shelter Harbor Conservation Society. Add to that my “duties” of keeping track of the SH, Nope’s Island, and SHCS websites with regular updates.

But the good news- I didn’t let my anxiety overwhelm me. The past two years, I’ve worked to find tools to help me manage stress. This summer, I was tested. But even David said he could see a difference in me. We are winding down now, heading out for one more trip before settling in our new house in VA with boxes to unpack and events to attend. Every day, I look at the print over my fireplace that says: dear life, it’s beautiful here. And it is.

In my spare time, I made a short video- just for the memories….

An old, fragile beach

Summer in RI is usually a time for me to relax, read, and visit with cousins and friends. Instead, I have been busy with volunteer work.

In 1948, after the Hurricane of 1938, a group of people including my grandfather, bought sections of this beach away from a developer. No one wanted to see houses/stores etc on this fragile stretch.

The intent was to conserve it, preserve it, in its natural state as much as possible. We encourage people to walk it, enjoy the scenery, and bird watch. But cars are not allowed on the beach face at all. Limited property owners and a few fishermen are allowed on a sand trail. These people are careful to stay on a sand trail and off the dunes and away from the piping plovers. No one is allowed to leave the sand trail and park on the beach face.

Until 1960 or so, it remained one of the most beautiful beaches in Rhode Island. But it has been discovered. And unfortunately it is no longer pristine.

Ok, some of these photos were taken after a storm, so trucks were getting stuck in the wet sand. But why were they out there to begin with? This is conservation land. Our local and state agencies prohibit driving on this beach face. But no one enforces it. The last photo shows illegal cars parking on the beach. The strip of beach has narrowed, and the dunes are nearly gone.

One day, we’ll have another Hurricane of 1938. The waves may very well wash over and take what little sand there is left. Without protected sand dunes, there’s nothing to hold it back.

Pristine beach sand dunes are nature’s masterpieces, but they are at risk of irreversible damage from cars and trucks. The consequences of this reckless behavior are far-reaching, affecting the environment, biodiversity, and nearby communities.

I am getting too old to constantly be writing letters, taking photos, and worrying about the beach.

Then again, maybe I’m not.

Perhaps this is my life’s work.

Noticing the Aches and Pains

We are back in Rhode Island, and one of the first things we needed to do was put the boat in the water. This is a process of getting it bottom painted, driving it to a dock at the end of the pond, sliding it off the trailer, maneuvering the boat off the trailer between rocks, and then steering it around to the mooring. Once there, we lean over the boat and grab the mooring ball (it still has my dad’s name on it). Belly down, one of us has to reach under the the bow in an awkward position and hook it to two lines to secure it.

All of this gets just a little harder the older I get. I find myself stepping gingerly into the dinghy and holding on when I lean over the side. Jumping out of the boat at the dock– well, that’s an adventure in itself. That said, I can still do it. And I love that first trip around the pond, my home, in the salt air.

My body is changing, but I know it’s important to keep moving, keep doing those physical things that might be challenging. My grandmother all but stopped moving when her arthritis began to hurt. Soon, she couldn’t even walk ten steps to the mailbox to get her mail. Don’t stop, my new mantra, means taking two 45 minute walks a day, exercising with my stretchy band so I don’t get stiff, and using weights on the old arms.

I’ve got a few more good years in this body.

Curiosity and Routines

the roses have bloomed

Why do we struggle so much to remember what works? Whether it’s sleep, anxiety, working in a group, or even going about our day to day rituals, I, (and I have a feeling others,) forget how to manage.

It’s as if all I need is a few days of feeling great, and I assume all is healed and I no longer need the structures to support me. So, the past few weeks meant going back to this:

~getting curious when my mood shifts…why am I feeling sad? why does this make me angry? why am I nervous about this event?

~regularly eating lots of fiber (so easy to forget)

~following my morning and sleep routines, which work!

These days, I am feeling better. But I am prepared for more bouts of sadness or frustration. These feelings, shaped and formed in childhood, need attending to. And they need acceptance. We are who we are, so I take a deep breath and ask, “where is this coming from? what do I really need?”

What I am reading:

How to live with brokenness….Let Your Heart Be Broken, on Marginalian

A passage (which I found in Elise Loehnen’s newsletter) from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodran:

The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life. Death is wanting to hold on to what you have and to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together. So even though we say the yama mara is fear of death, it’s actually fear of life.