This past week, I had the privilege of connecting with many different people while presenting at the Local Author Night at Barnes and Noble as well as facilitating a local circling group. It was great seeing friends and former colleagues in attendance, but it was also fun meeting new people and listening to their stories. These experiences reminded me of the important role connections play in our lives – both our connections with others as well as our connections with ourselves.
This past week, my aunt and uncle came for a visit. Since they were going to be staying with us for a long weekend, they emphasized the need to keep it simple. They didn’t want us to worry about cleaning the house or buying groceries ahead of time. Their main objective was to spend time with us, and they didn’t want their visit to be a stress or a burden. While they were here, we mostly hung out at home playing cards and passing the football around in the backyard. We also attended a couple of my son’s flag football and soccer games and looked for seashells along the shore of a beach near our home. It was a low-key visit, and although we were willing to take them to the local attractions, they simply wanted to “be with us” – stepping into our lives for a few days. It turned out to be a wonderful and relaxing weekend, and my children were very sad when they had to head back home. But, we were all grateful for the quality time we got to spend together enjoying each other’s company.
Last week, despite my harried schedule, I decided to take a short stroll along the beach near my home. As I walked beside the grass-covered sand dunes, I gazed out at the rolling waves crashing toward the shore. Breathing in the fresh sea-salt air, I felt my shoulders instantly relax. With sea gulls soaring through the cloudless blue sky, I ambled along the shoreline. Stepping over several patches of smooth wet stones, I looked further up the beach and noticed a large bleached-out log that rested near the dunes’ edges. Taking in the beauty all around me, I slowly lowered myself onto the sand and closed my eyes. Listening to the soothing rhythm of the waves, I felt a calm wash over me. I breathed deeply and let the calm fill my entire being. It felt as though I was connecting with the sea – like it was calling me and reminding me of my connection with Mother Earth. My soul stirred and I knew that spending time in nature was important for my overall well-being. It helped ground me and made me feel as though I was part of something vast – a large universe where everything was connected.
Six and a half years ago when I began writing my first novel, I was browsing in the jewelry section of a local department store. Drawn to a silver ring that was on display, I read its inscription: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” I smiled at the simple wisdom of those words and remembered they were written by the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu. Immediately, I purchased the ring and placed it upon my finger. It has stayed there ever since serving as a symbol of hope during times of frustration, disappointment, and despair. Its message has helped me believe in the power of perseverance. And even now, as the ring’s inscription is beginning to fade away, it still serves as a reminder to me to never give up and always keep reaching for my dreams.
Excitement brimming, my kids finished their last day of school this past Friday. We celebrated the occasion with frozen yogurt, Subway sandwiches, and a movie. (Yes, that was what they wanted to do. :) But for them, the best part is that summer is finally here with all its freedom and fun. They have been looking forward to it for so long, and the wait is finally over. What is it that makes summer so exciting? Maybe it's the change of pace, the frequent visits to Dairy Queen, the possibility of sleeping in every morning, or the break from routine. Whatever it is, summer is their favorite time of year! And I must admit, it’s mine too. But not just because of the ice cream. Summer is a time of awakening and a time of renewal. With the flowers in full bloom, the beauty all around us can serve as a reminder of the beauty that also lies within each of us.