Friday, November 8, 2013

Just Breathe!

     One more post while I'm on a roll. . . As we have advertised unashamedly on FB, we are spending a few days on the central coast of CA.  This quick 3 day trip has been WONDERFUL!  We love it here! This is our "go to" place whenever we have had enough of our Real Life.  Stresses just roll off our backs the minute we roll into town.  That first magical glimpse of the waves is enough to make up for months or even years of trying to get by. 
      We first came to Pismo Beach around 1980 when we were in California visiting relatives.  We were still living in Kansas at that time.  Our relatives had condos on the beach and we were their guests for a few days.  We rented four-wheelers, ate way too much and soaked up some much needed sun.  Dave's parents fell in love with this area and in 1982 after a near fatal heart attack his dad and mom recuperated here.  The next time we came to the beach was in August of 1989, the year we moved to Fresno.  We had just endured two summer sessions of Greek at MBBS and desparately needed a vacation.  Our kids were ages 6, 5 and eighteen months.  Dave's parents visited us from Kansas and treated us to a weekend in Pismo.  They kept the kids in their room and rented us a full ocean view room.  I will always love them for that! 
     After that re-introduction, we have come here countless times over the past 24+ years.  While the kids were in school, we would come every Christmas.  The beach is deserted right before Christmas so we would usually come December 21 or 22 and stay until the day after Christmas.  Sometimes we would bring all the presents along and other times we would open them before we left.  Some years the trip WAS the present. On occassion we even brought Christmas tree lights to put around a plant in the hotel room.  Whatever we did to celebrate the holiday, we ALWAYS, without exception had the time of our lives.  Those memories are among the very best of ours and the kids'.  There was a freedom in being somewhere that had no resemblance whatsoever to the way we celebrated Christmas prior to moving to CA.  Being in retail sales, how well we did between Thanksgiving and Christmas really did make or break us.  That's where the bottom line either fell apart or held us for the rest of the year.  Being free from that pressure was an answer to prayer.  Spending that time at the ocean was a little hard to get used to.  We almost felt guilty.  But, that didn't last long and soon we considered Christmas at Pismo part of our Friesen tradition.
      This time we brought our dogs with us.  To this point they have been terrible travelers so we always left them at home.  On our last trip I discovered that 1 Benadryl would calm them and they have become great traveling companions.  Having Abbey and Eddie with us this week has given us many joyful moments.  They have loved playing on the beach and along the water.  One problem when you're only a few inches off the ground is that when you run, sand flies in your eyes and mouth.  But, they have been troopers! They loved the mini ice cream cones the nice lady at The Scoop gave them today.  We loved the ones she gave us, too!  But we had to pay for ours!

The reason we are here now is because I have been slowly falling apart over the past few weeks.  Physically I have been a train wreck as I have been trying to adjust to a  medication change.  My emotions have been all over the place and with all the other changes in our life right now I had several mini nervous breakdowns and sometimes felt like I was spinning out of control.  Dave, bless him, has been riding the wave with me and has been ever so patient.  BUT, it's been no picnic for him, either.  He's on a medical leave from work due to worsening of some of the medical issues he has been dealing with and we are making some major life decisions such as: when to retire and how to live on less income.  Those things are not IMPOSSIBLE, just difficult because there are so many things to consider.  As things are starting to level off and I'm feeling a bit better, life looks do-able again.  I had to come here to get my wits about me again.  This brief respite from our regular life has done us a world of good.  It's given us a mental boost to help us face all the physical obstacles we are dealing with right now.

     Today I sat on the sand with the setting sun in my face and breathed.  In yoga, when I'm doing the deep breathing along with movement, I picture a wave crashing to the shore as I let my breath out and receding back to the depths as I take my deep breath in.  I did that today in tandem with the real waves and that was a powerful reminder of the how I can slow myself down and come out of my endless cycle of anxiety that I find myself in at times.  I also took the devotional book we are working through called, "Jesus Calling" which has been an amazing tool for both of us as it hits us between the eyes time and time again just when we need it.  This morning as we sat on the pier we read today's devotional and scripture.  The theme was that difficult days are inevitable.  It's what we do with the challenges that makes the difference.  The more we go through the more experiences we can look back on and say, "Yep, that was hard but with God's help we made it."  We don't think God deliberately gives us troubles just to teach us a lesson but we do know that if we use him as our guide and mentor things go much more smoothly.  It changes our attitude.  It brings us out of ourselves and puts things into perspective.  Just like these shadows make us look way bigger than we really are, problems seems to grow way out of proportion until they aren't even recognizable anymore.
     As I sat there today I began to get sad about having to go back home tomorrow.  Why can't I just always stay in this relaxed state?  Then I realized that my life includes all of it.  If I stayed here all the time not dealing with anything unpleasant, a whole lot of stuff wouldn't get done and I would eventually find myself in a gigantic mess.  I HAVE to go home and deal with insurance, Medicare, home repairs, and all the decisions I don't want to make.  If I consider it as part of my life just as being here is part of my life it's a bit easier to go back.  The beach will always be here waiting for me to return.  My place of Sacred Communion with God is anywhere I make it.  If I go gently through each day, being in God's presence and experiencing the life he has planned for me I can lead a good and satisfying life wherever I am.  Joy is always available.  God will take me away from the craziness and give me a chance to fully experience the reality of his presence and then return me to my "regular life" enriched and empowered to carry on.  This involves faith and trust which I have.  He know what lies ahead and that is good enough for me.  If I stop trying to control the future and concentrate on living the best way I can, I will thrive and can be a blessing to those around me.  If I don't project too far into the future I can see that I'm going to be just long as I can return to my beloved ocean now and then!

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