Thursday, February 07, 2013

Gift from the Sea, Part One

me at Jax Beach, circa 1976
     I grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, about a 40 minute drive from the frothy coast of Jacksonville Beach. I have the sweetest memories of being there under the sun; squinting my eyes to see how far I'd drifted away from our colorful beach blanket. And then she would catch my eye. My beautiful mother, standing resolute with her pale legs stained pink from the sun and a delicate arm lifted to her brow, shading her eyes to see where I had gone. I'd wave and run back to her, to our spot, only to drift again and again in the summer sun.
That is how it is when you're busy swimming in the ocean and looking for pretty shells. You drift. You come back. And drift again.
     Life is like that for me, and I'm sure for most of you. We find ourselves drifting from who we really are; find ourselves again, drift; and repeat. I've been drifting and arriving again at myself for many years now. (I'll be Fourty-four this spring.) But the journey truly began when a friend of mine gave me the book written by Sarah Ban Breathnach called, "Simple Abundance." It was life changing. And it was in reading that book that I found the writer, Anne Morrow Lindbergh and her book, "Gift from the Sea." I unearthed my old 1955 edition book again recently to refresh my mind.
Words are powerful.
When I first read her book, the words brought me from depression and trying to measure up to societies standards, to truly reveling in the joy of the moment. Life became colorful again. I began to see the beauty in the tiniest things. I realized that anywhere can be home...that even the bleakest of circumstances could be overcome with only a change of perspective.
     Reading the book again has brought me back to what is important.
It is renewing my spirit, and bringing me back to what I yearned for before I ever read it...creating my life....curating my life, as I like it. Justifiable time to put down the "HELLO, I'M Jeremy, Christian, Jonathan, Rebecca and Emily's MOM" tag to take care of myself. To take a breath and center in stillness.
     Somewhere in the hard core dream chasing, battling my illness and  mommying  I had lost that. Anne says, once again, that I need to find it, that stillness.
She says in the chapter entitled Moon Shell that, "I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days; and for part of each day, even an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my center, my island-quality........a woman must be still as the axis of a wheel in the midst of her activities; that she must be the pioneer in achieving this stillness, not only for her own salvation, but for the salvation of family life, of society, perhaps even of our civilization."
Wise words that echo truth to us even now, 57 years later.
assemblage Gift from the Sea bracelet
Being near water has always brought me stillness and centering. You know those times you need to go to your happy place? Mine is usually during dental work or while I'm in yet another MRI tube! The beach is where I go every. single. time. 
     There is a feeling there that there is something more at work in the world. Be it the roll of the ocean, or the rhythmic lapping of water along a shallow lakefront; water has always been a calming presence for me...a gift from the sea.
     My thoughts have spilled into my latest work. I have piled shells and wood and bits and baubles in shades of many waters on my work table. That too, is my most happy place. The place where I can find myself. When the house is quiet...the ocean is rolling once again, or I'm walking on cool leaves Creek-side with my children or I'm wading into cool lake water with my little sister holding my hand. It is there by the water, where I can remember, center and create.
Driftwood Earrings