Altered States

   We head home this morning….I woke up at 2am, my mind flooded with the long list of responsibilities awaiting me back in Birmingham. That- along with the sunburn that snuck up on me yesterday- making me toss and turn. I did my best to focus on the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach below, but even that didn’t do the trick. I heard my mother’s voice, “All good things must come to an end!” and smiled. I don’t agree with that saying; while we can’t stay in this beautiful condo on the beach and are both going back to a busy and stressful fall, the many gifts of this beach escape don’t have to end. In fact, I plan to call on my memories and the peace I found here  when things get crazy. Being here puts me in an altered state, one in which time seems suspended, allowing a special  connection with my husband, and appreciating the beauty of the ocean.  I never fail to leave this place changed, more centered, rejuvenated…and grateful. 
Still, I have to laugh at myself as I toss and turn in the dark. As I have done since childhood, I am at the end of a wonderful experience and all I can do is focus on the ‘ending’ part. Why is that? Why focus on that instead of the days filled with quiet reflection, great conversation, and laughter? The sunrises and sunsets, walks on the beach, and wonderful meals?  As I age, I see this tendency in myself as something I want to let go of- it’s not my best character trait…it’s like there is a little girl in me, still pouting that the magic of Christmas has to end. The reality is that, yes, good things come to an end…but it’s not a true ending. Those special good things come back, and we get to hold onto the joy we get from them. They become a part of us, layer after layer of memories and perspective. 

These moments are also an escape from routine…sort of like playing hooky from your life. I am not looking to escape from my reality- I love my life and the life that Dan and I have created together, with all of the craziness that comes with it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world- but, there is something magical that happens when you can step away from routine, even if only for a short time. Having the time to truly reflect, to go inward, to know with all your heart that you are where you are meant to be, with the person you are meant to be with, doing the work you were meant to do….having that time to focus on being truly grateful- that is the priceless gift that comes from taking a break from the wonderfully chaotic and messy day-to-day of life. 

I’m going to begin a new end-of-vacation tradition; instead of feeling sad that it’s over, I’m going to choose to focus on the sense of peace I feel after days of enjoying the beauty of the ocean and the slower-pace. I’m going to feel gratitude for this time with Dan, for our deep and special connection, and our friendship. I’ll hold the sights and sounds of the ocean in my mind’s eye to call on  when I need some ocean peace. And, I’m going to feel joy that I’m going home to a place that I love, to animals that I adore, to a job that challenges and fulfills me. I haven’t really escaped reality at the beach- just stepped back for a bit of attitude realignment, and a reminder of all I have to be grateful for in my life. 


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