What in nature are you grateful for?
The beach! The beach holds a special place in my heart because it’s my Mom’s FAVORITE place to go, and in turn it has become one of my fondest memories of my childhood, and also my favorite place to visit.
When we were younger (myself and my two younger brothers), we would often take day trips with my parents to Santa Cruz. We would spend the day at the beach, maybe hang out on the boardwalk until the sun went down! I was so little when we would do this, and don’t remember specifics of those trips, but I have that nostalgic feeling of having spent a lot of time there when I think about it now as an adult. Ironically enough, it is still one of my favorite day trips to take – and I know that my brother who now has two little girls does the same with his family. I think back on those times and they just seem so much simpler then. Dad wasn’t sick yet, mom was there to wipe our tears and give us the hugs we needed to make everything all better (and it actually DID make everything all better), and a day at the beach was just that. A day to hang out, run wild through the water and just be a kid.
Another instance of my life when the beach played a significant role was while I was in junior high school. On Wednesdays all of the kids got out of school a couple of hours earlier than the rest of the week, so my mom would pack up our 1989 Suburban and pick us all up to head out to Half Moon Bay to Redondo Beach. I mean, who had a mom as cool as mine back then? Absolutely no one! We would listen to the Beatles, or Counting Crows, sometimes even Blues Traveler and cruise over the San Mateo Bridge, and then through the mountains and dip into Half Moon Bay, with a couple of hours of daylight to spare. Our wiener/dachshund mix pup Cleo would run across my brothers’ laps back and forth with complete delight as soon as the truck hit the gravel road that led to our regular beach. She would get so excited, needed the windows down so she could smell the salt air, and she would be whining with excitement. Makes me smile just thinking about it. Cleo was also the first to take the hike down to the beach where she would diligently wait for us all to join her.
Once we were settled on the beach mom would head out on the hunt for sea glass. I would sit on the blanket and do my homework (probably not shocking to some of you), and the boys would dig in the sand or play in the water – we would occasionally join mom in searching for those little gems in the sand – and if any of us were in the water (and by “in the water” I mean maybe up to our knees) Cleo would run up and down the beach barking her head off. She was a little protective to say the least.
Once the sun was beginning to set we would pack up, clean ourselves up (sand everywhere!) and stop at Burger King before heading back through the mountain and into the East Bay. I can’t remember exactly how long we did these weekly jaunts to Half Moon Bay, but it is a great childhood memory that’s for sure!
While these are happy child hood memories, it’s also been a comforting place for me when times weren’t all that great. I know we all find ourselves in situations or relationships that aren’t right for us, and sometimes we let ourselves marinate in that bad situation for just a little too long. A handful of years ago I found myself in that exact situation. The beach was often my place to hide out when I needed to get away. Not only was the drive therapeutic, but so was physically being there. It helped me clear my mind and almost reset my feelings and emotions. The beach was also the place where I decided that the turmoil I was going through in that relationship would end. I wouldn’t give it one more chance, or time for him to change. That was it and I couldn’t keep letting myself be emotionally and verbally abused. I made a promise to myself on the beach one day, by myself that I was going to put an end to the chaos. A couple of short weeks later I had ended my relationship and moved out of the place I shared with my boyfriend of 5 years. If I hadn’t had that time to sit quietly and reflect, I don’t know when I would have made the smartest and bravest decision I’ve made ever in my life.
The beach helps you reset your thoughts. It brings life down to what it is really about – we are the sand, the waves are life and sometimes those waves hit us a little harder than others, sometimes the tide is out and life is boring, and sometimes the storm is raging and you can barely take a breath. Either way, this the one thing in nature that I have most gratitude for. It truly is nature’s gift. Now, who is coming with me to the beach!? 🙂