Tag Archives: beach

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The Religion Of Your Soul ~ Michelle Church

Each year, for more than twenty years, on Christmas day we pack our family into the car and head to the Oregon coast. It is because of this tradition that we ultimately built our home here Lincoln City. Even as I write this I am sitting on the bed next to my Mr Dreamboat and though the doors and windows are closed I can still hear the crashing waves charging the beach just steps away from where we lay. Sometimes our Christmas vacation lingers into the New Year.

The tradition of leaving our home on the homiest holiday of the year might seem strange to you as it seems peculiar even to me, and I am the author of this particular tradition.

The ocean is lovely, dark and deep...
The ocean is lovely, dark and deep…

So many years ago when our children were young, with all my soul I wanted to begin our own family traditions, away from those from our histories. There seemed no chance of doing so when we had so much family around, and so we devised a plan to pack up our little family and go away from all the things our lives were normally comprised of.

And 21 years later I am quite literally sitting on the bed of our convention. And strange as it is, I love it.

There is no doubt your traditions are lovely and comforting. I’m certain your elf on the shelf is pleasing, your Yule Log burns bright each year and figgy pudding is the great, undiscovered, practice your family holds dear.

What is wonderful to me in all likelihood feels foreign to you and vice versa. Though the religion of our fathers may be the same, the way we each honor them and live them out in our own lives has as many variations as there are people. There are as many religions as there are souls.

As we each step into the baby days of the beginning New Year, let’s celebrate our differences, find our common grounds and bring with us upon every doorstep we visit, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

The view from the house.

You Don’t Have To Be Deep To Be Happy

When I was but a young one pretending to be an adult, I took a trip to the beach. I padded in time for myself though I was with a large group of women on a retreat. I took my time before anyone arrived to go down to the beach and to be alone.

I remember vividly the view though I can’t recall which coastal town it was. The sun barely shown through the persistent Northwest clouds and the breeze tickled instead of nagged as my toes tunneled into the salty sand.

And then I wasn’t sure what to do next. I’d watched too many movies and read too many books with deep thinking characters with great plans or flaws to flush out on a sandy shore or a lonely night.

I dawdled as long as I could, trying to eat up time so I wouldn’t feel silly. And I felt silly. And I felt silly all by myself since no one else knew I had no great plans or readily apparent flaws available.

I am many years older than I was back then. The beach I visit is almost always Lincoln City. The view spectacular and largely unchanged. I have what I like to think are “great” plans and my flaws have been revealed to me over and over again over the decades.

But the real difference lies not in the wrinkles congregating around my eyes or the people ready to testify concerning my flaws. It lies in the fact that I know exactly what to do with a bit of time for pondering with buried toes and nothing demanding but seagulls and waves.

When one has time to think and latitude in which to ponder, it’s a terrible waste to ponder imperfections and percolate plans.

There is a time to simply meditate. When the space is cleared in which to breath the fresh ocean air and a stretch arrives in which you can simply exist without apology or explanation, it is best to feel your toes in the sand, the breeze on your cheek and humbly be grateful to be alive.

There’s no need to complicate things. It’s as simple as a gentle breeze at the beach and just as pleasant.

Signs In Your Life You Cannot See

A friend of mine says we teach what we need to learn. While I take exception to this idea, I painfully admit it is true, at least for me.

I teach “play” because I don’t do it naturally. I teach self-acceptance because it is a challenge and I teach no judgment because I judge. I am not proud of these things but I recognize them for what they are.

The holidays are a busy time for all of us. We have expectations and obligations and ideas in our heads of the “should’s” to be done. Of course this year was no different than any of the others.

The Internet is a divine tool for alleviating a bit of that pain and I use the tool. Oh yes, I use it. And Mr Dreamboat shops like a champ and Lucy, themostbrillianthousekeeperintheworld kept my house clean and yet… I was not up to snuff.

I decorated my house, but just a little. I shopped and wrapped and attended my parties but with a mere fraction of the panache it all deserved. I underwhelmed myself.

I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.
I felt just like this, only with brown eyes.

So I wondered if I was depressed. I wondered if the fire of my personality had gone out. And then I judged. I judged my energy level, my Christmas spirit and my ability to get things done. I judged my validity on planet earth and I judged myself for judging.

It can be exhausting living in my head and that is just how I started our holiday trip to the beach. Drained by the obligations and especially the head-trip, I came to what we call “The Great Escape” and I crashed like a beach kite with no wind in its sails.

Ten days we’ve spent at the beach and I will admit for your judging pleasure to never having gotten out of bed before 8 a.m. Sometimes 9. I will admit that it has only been in the last three days that I’ve gotten much work done and only in the last two that I’ve done any painting.

And it finally occurs to me that I am not lazy. The fire hasn’t gone out and I am not depressed. I was sick. I mean literally. The laryngitis was an ignored symptom of some sort of illness and I am at long last feeling better.

And feeling better helps one see things better. And I see I am human and flawed and good on some days and naughty on others. And I am so-bloody-judgmental. Oof! And really, that’s okay too.

Whatever you are, whatever state you find yourself in, today I am preaching curiosity over judgment. Most times when things aren’t going smoothly, there’s something more going on.

Like, share, comment, tweet and prescribe yourself whatever yourself might need.

God Is In The Chip Bag ~ Michelle Church Lists Ten Things

The books in which I’ve recently been indulging have taken me down deep rabbit holes of gratification. I am discovering for myself, philosophers and ideas, artists and adventures of which I was completely unaware. It’s like Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, only it’s reality… only better.

It is the delight of discovering like minds and new thoughts that keeps me going down the rabbit hole and I am blessed with time at the beach to indulge myself in my quasi-erudite pursuits. “Quasi” as I am no more erudite than the next guy. I’m only self-indulgent.

Because I am shoveling in philosophies like potato chips on a lonely night, I have few opinions right now, just a lot of ideas and they’re not yet catalogued.

In an effort not to spout off about things I’m not yet sure of, I give to you a few niblets of the beliefs I retain. Think of them as crumbs from the chip bag of my mind…

1. The best way to live is to seek the good, the positive, the kind. When we look for things to be happy about, we find them.
2. The hugest irony in life is that the more we focus on ourselves the more unhappy we become. God must be giggling as each of us must discover this for ourselves in our own way and our own time. Some of us are slower than others.
3. On the same topic, but seemingly counterintuitive is that we cannot love others until we learn how to love ourselves. No, I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth, ventriloquism was never my strength. It’s a complicated idea, but both #’s 2 and 3 coexist.

Just because they're crumbs doesn't mean you can't use 'em.
Just because they’re crumbs doesn’t mean you can’t use ’em. Click on the pic for Sunday Dinner.

4. Living my beliefs has nothing to do with making you live my beliefs.
5. The best way to spread “the good word” is to live it. The love part. The love part is the core and the heart. The rest is commentary.
6. The most fundamental truths are universal. They include, but are not limited to, light and love and probably M Theory. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
7. One time I thought I was right and then I found out I should have been thinking more.
8. I know, for sure, that kindness is where it’s at.
9. As soon as I believe I know it all, I’ve stopped learning and growing. This is perhaps the most dangerous belief of all.
10. We are who we are, we believe what we believe and the best line of action to my way of thinking is live as our best selves and allow others the latitude to do so in peace.

I admit it’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got.

Like, share, comment, tweet and you do you. Amen.

Pixie Dust & Champagne ~ A New Year’s Eve Primer

New Year’s Eve, welcoming in the New Year, it’s cool I guess. I’m not trying to be lukewarm about it, but let’s be honest here. Can you get real with me for a few minutes?

My relationship with New Year’s Eve started off rocky. The first years I can remember were of me at home, alone waiting for the Time Square experience. Pixie Dust and Champagne Dreams raining down like tiny wishes being granted for the year to come.

As it turns out, while Dick Clark may have been partying it up, I have never, not one time, felt a thrill as I watched the ball drop on Time’s Square.

I will cop to the years I may have spent New Year’s Eve in dubious company and questionable sobriety. Sobriety was not my strong suit as a teen anyway and who can blame me for going classic? While I certainly had more company and I was definitely celebrating in the traditional way, still the thrill eluded me.

champagne-glass-confettiYears passed and some of my fondest New Year’s Eve memories included letting my children stay up until midnight east coast time while we were planted firmly on the west coast. Eating festive foods and lighting off a few fireworks was fun. Making magic for children is the only way I know to resurrect the mystic of childhood.

Maybe my fondest New Year’s Eve memory is of my first with Mr Dreamboat. We weren’t married yet and had gone to a young adult dance together. With no buzz to be found there, it was shortly before midnight when we finally left.

We were hungry and it was remarkably hard to find someplace open to ring in 1987. Ultimately we found a Subway Sandwich shop open in the bowels of Southeast Portland. Just as we got out of the car and started walking into the restaurant, bells started ringing and fireworks started popping and I kissed my one, true love in the parking lot.

Thrill found.

It is my experience that the world is a devious storyteller. Hollywood paints some pretty pictures and talented artists do a bang up job with a soundtrack to die for. Ads sell you fairy tales with perfect skin and lives that look flawless and affluent and even if you put all the prescribed pieces in place, it might still be lacking.

Beauty is in the details, in the quiet moments. Life is in the sharing and the little kindnesses we do for others and we do for ourselves. And whether you find yourself celebrating in Time’s Square or Paris, France this year, my hope is that you find pleasure in the details, magic in the making and that you find your thrill, whatever that may be.

Like, share, comment, tweet and can we please find a song to replace Old Lang Sine already?

I Have Nothing Left To Say

I am speechless. I am literally and uncharacteristically without speech. And it’s much harder than you’d think, and it’s a little lonely, a little sad and scads of interesting.

It started about two weeks ago. Mr Dreamboat and I were headed back from a business trip on Lake Las Vegas and I had just a touch of laryngitis. Truthfully this is not unusual for me, especially at CEO Space.

So common is it that I have a touch of the ailment that if it had gone away I would hardly remember it ever even happened. But it didn’t go away. And what I the thought of as “laryngitis” now seems like a bit of a scratchy throat because what I have available to me now, is nothing. Or it’s a notepad, some crude hand gestures and nothing more.tasteyourwords

With much of the family at the beach we are enjoying a very social time together as a clan. The jokes are flying through the air and no matter how fast I write on my notepad and no matter how fervently I gesticulate, I am not a part of this repartee. This is the lonely part. And it’s a little bit of the sad part too.

What is interesting is what it feels like to be silent. I am thinking different thoughts than I would were my verbal skills in tact. I’m observing exchanges, becoming less anxious at lulls in the conversation I cannot remedy and becoming mindful of how few words are needed to say the most important things that need to be said.

The most thought provoking element of my compulsory experiment is that I normally throw words around carelessly. I use them as if there’s no limit to what can be said. I throw words around a room full of people, tossing them about like a drunk aristocrat with a loose wallet.

Maybe for the first time in any conversation I’ve had, I am thinking far more than I am speaking. The experiment simultaneously delights me in what I’m observing and concerns me that I spend so much time on dime words and cheap comments.

My voice box is, for the moment, completely frozen. A whisper is my only audible option and from what I understand, whispering is a strain as well, and so I abstain. While the experiment is most certainly temporary, I hope to take something permanent from it.

I have a friend who talks about using words in a more exacting way. She tries her best to choose her words, cast off the fillers and use the precise expression to fit each, unique situation. I wish for that too. And the experiment is giving me the time to think about exactly how to do this.

Like, share, comment, tweet and use your words…

The Best Holiday Mind Blower Ever

For Christmas Mr Dreamboat gave me a book. This is a fairly typical gift in our household and I was delighted, but not surprised. I opened the book, flipped through it for just a moment and almost immediately put it in the box to my left where Christmas presents addressed to me amassed.

As the day’s festivities wound down and the lot of us drove to the beach for our traditional holiday getaway, I revisited the book and found in it a most delightful adventure I would not have imagined.

Seriously, wouldn't he be the MOST interesting lunch date ever? If you know him, will you make an introduction for me?
Seriously, wouldn’t he be the MOST interesting lunch date ever? If you know him, will you make an introduction for me?

The Shape of a Pocket is written by writer/artist/philosopher John Berger. I want to meet him. I want to be best friends with him. His book requires a companion piece in Google as I know very few of the artist’s the author references and every single one of them is breathtaking and peculiar.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is that I am broadening my view so completely. And it’s work. I could read the words, understand them individually, but to really take in the meaning, I have to work and understand them in context. Which requires Google.

One of the very best things about receiving gifts is that we receive what others think and hope we might like. We are given gifts that reflect the way we are seen, giving us a unique opportunity to understand a little bit better how we are known.

If you want to know the truth, Mr D thinks too highly of me, but that too is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to become as good as he thinks I am. So it’s a win for everyone.

I hope during this season you have the chance to have your mind blown. I hope you broaden your scope, Google your brain to a higher level and most especially I hope you surround yourself with people who think you’re the best and then you take the opportunity to become so.

Like, share, comment, tweet and buy the book. The book that blows the roof off your mind.

My Buddy Suffering ~ BFF’s

I am currently in a state of wonder over the tenets of Buddhism. In particular the idea that life is suffering. And I feel oddly relieved over the thought. Somehow, it takes away the unrealistic idea that we must always be happy.

In the spirit of transparency and our truly intimate relationship, I admit to you that I am in a doleful mood today. Not overwhelmed by any dramatic issue, still I am weighed down by the details of life. I am poor company. Especially for myself.

It is odd to me, then, that it is somehow comforting to know that there isn’t something wrong with me. I don’t need to fight against this feeling. It’s not something to be cured or erased.

On the contrary. My mood, my worries and the impact the ups and downs of living have on me are normal. To be expected even. If I am living, then from time to time, I will suffer. End of story. Say goodnight, Gracie.

The fact is that the more I embrace this inevitable piece of living, the more comforted I feel. Kings and rulers suffer. Waifs and stormy beachservants suffer. We are human and there’s simply no getting around this particular fact of living.

Historically I’ve considered my suffering to be weakness. So hell-bent on being above grief, there were times I simply ignored and denied it. Big girls don’t cry, dammit.

Inevitably this only exacerbated the problem. Swimming against the current simply wears one out. Perhaps I have finally and permanently learned the lesson that to work with the current, to give in to the tide is to ultimately find our way on to the beach, firmer ground and safe haven.

So I’ll admit it to you, my friends. Today I am world-weary. Today I find life a burden and I embrace that I am, in my own small way, suffering with the best of them.

And even now, as I float in the current, I know there is a beach in my future. I’d even bet the sun will shine and just as sure as life is suffering, it is a gentle breeze, a friendly smile and it is rejoicing.

I’m in no hurry for that though. Because sometimes, life is just suffering.

Like, share, comment, tweet and give in to the inevitable kick in the gut from time to time.

If You Want More Of It You’ll Need To Give It Away

A month or so ago I was privileged and delighted to be at a weekend retreat with a few dozen women. I certainly didn’t get the sleep I needed, but I’ll sleep when I’m dead, but my soul was rejuvenated and I was reminded that women are good and strong and powerful. I’m grateful to be one.

http://www.thefrugalfeminista.com/you-need-to-write-a-mission-statement-for-your-life-heres-how/
http://www.thefrugalfeminista.com/you-need-to-write-a-mission-statement-for-your-life-heres-how/

The reason I had to be reminded is that sometimes I think we hide our light. Women are curious beings, ask any man. We have passions and interests, we have skills and compassion and yet there are times we simply shove them into a hole and we walk out into life like withered flowers. So painful is this habit that we sometimes, unconsciously, wither those around us. You know, misery loves company, I suppose.

The beautiful souls I spent the weekend with were conscious. Please do not imagine them in their perfection. Don’t believe everyone was rich and famous and deeply intelligent, though none of us would complain were that true. Imagine women who are warm, women who are curious and kind, bravely sharing their light and their love and their passion for life.

I am regularly reminded how powerful women are. I come across them every day. I do business with them and I frequent their homes.

To be sure, we are each those women, the good ones, the brave ones, the gentle hearts. But how often are we the withered flowers taking pleasure in finding fault and gathering like-minded company?

I have been “that girl” more times than I’m happy to admit. I sometimes watch her from afar as she scowls through her day and I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really like her. I believe deep in my heart the more I observe her without judgment I will see less of her. After all, she is me and I know for sure I need unconditional love and understanding.

I hope to spend more time with the delightful women I know from all areas of my life, and I hope to spend more time with myself, when I am in that form. And when I do that, when we do it, cast off the armor, be our authentic lovely selves, I believe we will inspire others to do the same.

We need more of us. We just have to be them.

Like, share, comment, tweet and look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself how dazzling she is. Do it. Right… NOW!

The Price & Pleasure Of Your Hard Work

Yesterday afternoon the man-child and I spent more time than I’d originally thought necessary, packing, cleaning and closing up The Great Escape. What was originally a Fourth of July trip to the coast morphed into nearly 3 weeks of sun and sand. That didn’t suck. But there was the detritus left behind.

Over the course of those weeks we had adult children rotate through the house. We had a delightful and unexpected visit with friends from California and even Max spent several nights in Lincoln City. A vacation is a thing of beauty but an unexpectedly extended vacation is nothing short of delicious.

And then it comes to the end. And there’s clean-up to be done.

Yesterday, there was cleaning and packing and closing down the house. That’s a part of the

The Great Escape at it's cleanest.
The Great Escape at it’s cleanest.

deal too. It doesn’t matter how rich you are or how much leisure time you’re allotted when the party’s over, it’s over. Someone has to vacuum up the confetti. And yesterday it was me. Well, technically it was Chase.

It is not uncommon to have a house cleaner come in and clean up after us. But $125 seems like a lot of money to have someone else clean my toilets, and Chase was asking about his birthday present (he has expensive tastes, just let me say that) and it just didn’t sit right to me to pay for someone else to clean up my mess.

After almost 4 hours we were on our way. And what I felt besides a little hot and sweaty, was a feeling of accomplishment. I did a job I am proud of. It felt like a working meditation. It felt good to my soul.

It is sometimes hard to find peace and simple happiness in a very complicated world. A delicious vacation can be just the ticket. Time with family and friends will do the trick. And sometimes it takes some cleaning supplies and a mop.

It’s all good. It’s all valuable.

Like it, share, comment and tweet the hell out of it. And then go clean your bedroom like a good girl.