23 September 2010

Life's a Beach


So...Life was unraveling this summer. In ways I hadn't expected. My niblets were safely away from most of the storm swells that crashed on the shore at home. They spent their summer traveling between relatives in NY and IL. The trip to Illinois was a blessing: their first time flying without me, their first time in their terrific aunt's care, first time visiting their dad's parents and extended family in over five years. That is half my son's time on this earth, so I know that changes and catch up abounded.

My spouse also escaped across the states to visit family and friends, finding love and support outside the orbit we had created and were breaking. I had friends that supported and visited me, but I knew that decisions and choices I was making forced me to really take the leap off the cliff and see if I could land on my own. I wanted to put it all down and only be faced with my Self, to find some clarity, to question and hopefully find some answers...and by the time I arrived, I needed peace.

Ferry Beach is a camp and conference center run by the Unitarian Universalists, and my own church does a fall retreat there each year. It turned out they also did several week-long conferences throughout the summer, and it was where I discovered one called In The Company of Women. Which was exactly where I needed to be.

After waffling back and forth for several weeks, I plunked down my funds and planned to camp the entire time I was there. This would be a first for me to do on my own - and it turned out to be just the beginning of those firsts.

I am not the kind of person who sets out on adventures. I prefer to have a firm plan of where I am going, and three different sets and formats of directions to get there. Plus an expectation of what I will do.

I had no idea what I was getting into - and it was more than I could have imagined.

I was welcomed into a group of women who shared their stories and energy and affirmed my twisted Path to where I found myself pointing.

I danced around an altar of feathers - and found my wings.

I walked the beach with a woman twice my age - and feared I could not keep up with her when I discovered we were walking almost three miles of beach.  At 6:30 in the morning. Without having coffee yet.  (If you know me, you know this isn't a good thing. In fact, it is downright terrifying for the general populace.)

Then celebrated that I did it and still made it to breakfast.  And coffee.

I stood with my feet in sand and let the salt water wash over them as they prepared to walk me - literally and figuratively - in new directions.

I laid in the dark of the wooded campground in my tent and listened to the wind, the rain (and sometimes the cars driving by).  Then did it again as the sun rose above me.

I got my arts-and-crafts on by making gourd rattles, tie dye and feather wraps.

I laughed hard enough to stop breathing during Team Jeopardy - and learned to love my body enough to have it painted and photographed.

I spent evenings playing games, reading and knitting.  I spent mornings walking the beach or sitting on the main porch, always with my requisite mug of coffee in my hand.  Surrounded by people, but sometimes alone in my own soul.  And that was a good thing.

I did find what I was looking for: affirmation, relaxation, laughter and understanding.  Company and solitude.  Questions and answers.

I found my Self.