Spring is in the air although the temperature belies the season. Central heat stills warms the house rather than the warm sun. Near the beach, the wind is still cool, the air crisp with promise that make kites dance and sun worshippers shiver. Walks along the water’s edge still chills bare feet and shell seekers find sand dollars among the whelks and clam shells soon to be discovered by vacationers. A few intrepid souls try surfing, wet suits zipped tightly to the neck.
Safe at Home
I love the beach in any season, the endless rolling waves, the cries of gulls and serene flight of a squadron of pelicans make each visit a reminder of the constancy of the ocean and its shore. Anne Morrow Lindbergh recovered at the shore, walking miles along the sand, listening to similar sounds. She wrote in Gift from the Sea, “Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.” A walk along the beach provides the solitude to reflect and pursue the dreams coursing within. I seek the peace the shoreline offers, the bright hope of the constant sand and the creative direction as well.
These past winter months have opened new doors to friendships and jobs, new opportunities to develop. The months of spring hold hope for change. I am changed each year in Spring, renewed faith that growth is possible and probable. The shoreline changes and yet is the same. The sand dunes rise and are swept to sea, the water washes out a sand bar, replacing it further along the coast. The birds continue to seek their dinner along the edge of the waves and nest far inland away from salt spray. A constancy of change is remembered each time I walk along the shore.
Wrightsville Beach Kite Festival
Kites fly above the dune, secured to railings and beach chairs. Vivid colors of the rainbow splash the clouds above. The few that fall nose dive to earth and rise again to sail across the horizon. Who can resist the temptation of a kite? The urge to run and tug the line sending the colors up to dance in any breeze. The solitude continues but beckons all who wish to try.
I seek the beach, I seek the restorative solitude and the crowds, the calls of the gulls and the sight of kites high above the dune, dancing.
St. Germain En Laye
I was awake at dawn, ready to explore my new territory. I dressed in cut-off Bermuda shorts, a sweatshirt and my moccasins, the all American outfit of a thirteen year old. Through the hall, down in the elevator and out through the wrought iron gate to the wide sidewalk. To avoid getting lost, I decided to go around the block. Setting out, I noticed the high fences and walls surrounding the properties along Blvd. Victor Hugo. The streets were cobblestone and the sidewalks wide expanses of slate. Each building was right to the edge of the sidewalk with shutters closed against the morning light. My footsteps echoed as a sauntered past.
I arrived at the top of the hill and saw a small alley with a street sign indicating it was a real street. Narrow, with room for one car, the alley had a red sign with a big white dash in the middle. I had found the first of many international traffic signs. I later learned the red sign meant “one way, do not enter” but at the time it was merely a fascinating change from my former small suburban town. I walked around the block, past walled homes, peeking in the gates at century old buildings with cobblestone courtyards, past wrought iron gates painted black with gold leaf. I saw terra-cotta roofs, sagging forest green shutters and not one person. As I rounded the corner to return home, I met a woman carrying string bags filled with produce and long loaves of bread sticking out the top. Suddenly the sidewalk came alive with people, women sweeping their stone steps, men riding mopeds up the hill and a few girls watching from upstairs windows. Nobody smiled, nodded or acknowledged me in any way as I walked past but there were rapid exchanges in French after I moved along. My ears heard “American” and “fille”, “the American girl,” thanks to my 7th grade French teacher for that little bit of understanding.
I learned from my short walk around the block. The Bermuda shorts and sweatshirts were once again packed away, only to be worn in the comfort of our apartment. Never again would I venture forth without careful attention to my wardrobe. Shorts were not worn by anybody at any time. Sweatshirts were for sports players and not acceptable for young girls, American or not. During the following months, I walked along those same sidewalks on my way to the bus bound for Paris. I met many of those same people I had seen that first morning and after giving a long look at my outfit, I would receive a nod or a smile of greeting. I had been initiated into the world of French appropriateness and had learned a valuable lesson. Clothes were important and first impressions were lasting.
The French dress impeccably when going out and about. Tailored suits, caps and jewelry are seen on young and old, regardless of employment. It is later, when entering a shop and the same woman who was dressed in tailored cashmere now assists from behind the counter, covered by a royal blue smock, the attire of every working Frenchman. I learned that day to be aware of different cultures and traditions. I was no longer a small town American girl, I was now a young American in Paris and I wanted to blend with the nationals. It was an eye-opening experience.
The hanging gardens of St. Germain en Laye
2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward:
The first five people to comment on this post will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift.
Perhaps a book, or handmade item, or a candle, music – a surprise! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.
The catch? Those five people must make the same offer in their FB status, their blog or to their email friends.
Be sure to let me know your address or contact info.
Pay It Forward
Thank you to my lovely friend, Rachel Dickenson for suggesting this inspiring idea.
Today is my sister-in-law’s birthday. At least, she was my sister-in-law for many years until they divorced. Does that make her my “ex” sister-in-law or does she just become another person from the past?
I am reminded of a conversation I had with my was-band prior to our divorce. We had been married for twenty years, had two great children and shared extended family during that time. Now we were separating and I planned a trip with the kids to his parent’s home. During our discussion, he told me to “leave his family alone and get my own.” What a surprise to discover the people who I’d entertained after our children’s births, visited in hospitals, shared holiday meals with and attended funerals beside were no longer “my” family. Twenty years shared do not make them family? How was that possible? When did the line break, the in-law become outlaw for me?
I recently hosted a dinner honoring our son and his fiancée. They were the guests of honor and chose the people to attend. They wanted their family to attend and so the invitations went to all those in-laws of mine from long ago. They are still my children’s’ aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, although no longer my in-laws. Strange to make the separation.
It was a lovely dinner, with all those in-laws (and the was-band and his current amour) and I was glad to share the occasion with “my family.” Divorce cuts ties with spouses, not with family and that is the lesson we’ve shared with our children.
Happy birthday, sister-in-law, wherever you are, I hope it is a happy occasion and you are surrounded with love. You are still family.
‘Ohana means family – no one gets left behind, and no one is ever forgotten. ~ Chris Sanders & Dean DeBlois
Life is the sum of all your choices. ~ Albert Camus
Do you follow through regardless of the project’s difficulties or do you know when to say ‘enough is enough’? Do you finish every race regardless of how fast or slow you are? Do you overcome every obstacle vowing to finish or can you accept some projects are best left incomplete?
I am raising children, teaching problem solving and working on personal projects. I tend to be agreeable and accepting and strive to keep everybody happy. And that isn’t always the best thing for me. Selfish or self-preservation? A quitter or a sense of self-worth?
I didn’t want to be considered a quitter, and yet, the project seemed to suck all creativity from my bones. I was paralyzed by the simple tasks and the interpersonal struggle. Complete the tasks and pat my back or let go and move on? It is a matter of perspective and yes, there are personal feelings of self-worth involved. Character issues also, as I was raised to complete the project, regardless of outcome. You signed on so you must finish, disregard all sense of accomplishment or value.
I wonder what lesson is taught when the project consumes the creator yet is finished, completed, and done? My children watch and learn to persevere, to subdue anxiety in favor of checking a project off the list. No longer a creative endeavor, the project becomes a To-Do list entry to be scratched off and put to rest. What if I walked away from the project entirely, would that be teaching the kids to give up?
My dilemma is the emphasis put on walking away. Positive or negative? Walk away and be a quitter or walk away and cut your losses? Either way, a sacrifice, either way, you must face yourself in the mirror. Head held high or hung in shame. A dilemma either way.
What do you think?
- Castles of Dreams
These are a few of my favorite things:
Bright blue flowers in sunlight.
Inviting Reading Spots
On the Beach in Shades of Blue
Writers are a lucky bunch. That’s the thought of the week for my writing group. The question for any writer when faced with a blank page is where to go now? Do you want to escape this dreary rain or soak up the sun on some tropical island? Each time a writer sits before a blank page or screen, the possibilities are endless. Mood, scene, character, time, genre, are all open for creation. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? What do you want to say? Oh, the possibilities are limitless.
Write yourself a Wonderful Wednesday and add it to the comments below. Aren’t you the lucky bunch?