Change is the thing I often wish for but fear and avoid at the same time. I have known this about myself for years but have struggled with how to “change” that aspect of my thinking. So, at the start of this year I decided that I was no longer going to be a slave to my habits and decided to make a single adaptation to my daily habits.
I live in Florida and had not been to a beach in probably six years. I stopped going because I didn’t like how I looked in a swim suit. Silly reason, but it is an honest statement. I allowed my self-consciousness get the better of me and dictate my behaviors. I also had some deeper fears, one of which has been failing professionally. To compensate for that fear I hurried myself in the educational system. Class after class I have procrastinated professional growth and personal success. Driven again by a self-consciousness that has propelled much of my life.
This year, though, I became determined to let go. It started with a simple change. That thing I have feared. I simply got on my bicycle and took a ride east 4.5 miles until the road ended at the Atlantic Ocean. As I walked onto the sand that evening I took a deep breath of the fresh sea air. I could hear the rhythmic crashing of the waves before I could see them. When they appeared over the embankment I smiled. I looked off into eternity, across the blue waters, and I exhaled.
As I walked in the encroaching tides down the shore I noticed I was smiling. My mind wasn’t racing. I felt - calm. So, I sat in the sand and I began to focus on my breath. I was suddenly immersed in a real life version of a meditation MP3. After 15 minutes of stillness I felt something I had not felt in quite some time. I felt, whole.
The next day I awoke early and after having a cup of coffee I did something that surprised even myself. I put on my helmet, unlocked the gate, and mounted my bicycle. In 20 minutes I again found myself walking on the soft sandy beaches of Fort Lauderdale.
It was Tuesday morning and it was quiet. The water wasn’t “cold” so I threw off my shirt and dove in. The waves crashed above me.
When I surfaced I was smiling. For a moment I was 8 years old again, playing in the surf. I half expected to look up and see my sister and mother playing in the sand. As I walked onto the sand it almost felt as though a part of “me” had been washed away. The part of me that was running and hiding. I was trying to determine what I was experiencing, what exactly was going on, but the answer eluded me. So I jumped on my bicycle and made my way home.
Day after day I found myself making the ride to the beach. Someday’s I would walk up and down the beaches, some days I would simply sit and listen to crashing waves. Somedays I would play in the rain as it moved on shore, chasing the vacationers inside. But I did not seem to be bothered. In fact, I felt refreshed.
Why had I avoided the beaches? Was I really that unhappy with how I looked? No, it had to be something more.
I found myself doing something else that I had not been doing, spending time with myself. Putting down the iPhone, the computer, the iPad, and all the other distractions. Just breathing and sitting with myself and my thoughts. No distractions and no escaping. And it has been something short of a magical experience.
You may laugh at that (hell, I laugh at that) but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t true. Taking time for myself, away from the routine of emails, phone calls, and the stress of life, has had an astounding effect. In fact, in the past six weeks I have been able to examine my life and make some pretty astounding discoveries - which I will begin to share over the coming weeks. This post, however, is really my opportunity to say that I have been absent for a while, but that absence has allowed me time to get to know myself. There were days I wanted to sit and write and scream out loud about the sense of happiness and freedom that was becoming my life, but I also felt to do so would be premature. Today I feel the time is right to begin to write again. Change, I have discovered, is not something to be feared. It can be unnerving as we learn to maneuver the unfamiliar, but change is what propels us forward. Living the same day over and over is safe, but oh how it becomes boring.
I am enjoying this new routine, and the new thoughts and ideas that it is bringing into my life. I am enjoying the changes I have begun to experience. I look forward to sharing this all with you, and I look forward to hearing how you have started to be the best version of yourself also.
Until next time!