8/24/23

And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

At 7:00 tonight, when I gently hang up the phone on my 6:00 coaching client, I will be on a break for three weeks. Three weeks! On Sunday, I fly to Portland, Oregon, then climb into my rental car and drive three hours to the Oregon coast…and to the little house I stay in that sometimes feels more like home than home.

I started going to the Oregon coast in 2006. It was the furthest I’d ever traveled, and certainly the furthest I’d ever traveled alone. At the time, I needed to just get away, to a place I’d never been, to a place where no one knew me, and to a place where no one else was.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with the little house, with the ocean, with Waldport, Oregon. When I pulled into the gravel parking spot right next to the house, my windshield became filled with blue. Multi-blues sky trailing down to multi-blues ocean, the white-capped waves and white clouds each reflecting the other. I didn’t even go into the house at first; I climbed up the steps to the back deck and just marveled. The ocean was my backyard.

I think most people, if they saw the little house, would wonder why I love it so. It’s small. It doesn’t have a dishwasher. There is only one bathroom, and the tub isn’t jetted, like mine is here at home. But there is something really special about having your every need met in such a small space. I had my choice of beds, from the queen-sized bed up in the loft, to the double-size lower bunk in what I call the second bedroom, to the queen-sized bed in the master. My choice was never in question; the master bedroom L’s out into a special writing nook, with windows looking out onto the ocean. The women who own this house have created it to be a writer and artist space. The loft is for art.

But that writing space. It is a haven. To my right, when I sit at the desk, is a bookcase. And featured on their own shelf are my books. This means that I am here, even when I’m not here. The woman who wrote those books lives here.

Since 2006, I’ve only missed returning there a few years. In 2017, I was in treatment for breast cancer and I couldn’t go. In 2020, we were all frozen by the pandemic. But otherwise, I’m there, and each time, it’s like going home. The women store my paints in the attic and they bring me a special table to paint on every time, before I get there. This year, they’re lending me a keyboard so I can keep practicing the piano during my time away.

I’ve never met them face to face. But these women are so special to me. And this place is so special.

While some might call what I’m doing when I go there a vacation, I don’t. It’s a break from my day to day life, for sure, but being there causes a shedding of roles until I’m just me. The core of me, I guess. The essence. When I’m there, I’m not a wife or a mother. I’m not a teacher or a coach or an advocate or a business owner. I am a writer, and that’s the core of me. That’s who I am. And being there allows me to embrace that fully.

I write throughout the day. If there’s a day I don’t want to write, that’s fine, because I know there’s the next day to work. I sometimes write late into the night, but mostly, at night, I paint. With my busy schedule at home, these times in Oregon have become the only time that I paint. It’s a joy. I walk the ocean, at least twice a day, sometimes more. I sleep. I read frequently, during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, during coffee breaks, in bed before I go to sleep at night. I don’t read to edit or critique, though I sometimes find myself doing that anyway. But I mostly read to revel.

I look out the window and watch whales spout as they go by. I watch pelicans mimic waves as they flow up and down over the water. Last year, as I was walking back to the house, I noticed a brown head poke up out of the water, and then swim parallel to me all the way back to where I turned to head up the steps to the house. A sea lion. I’ve seen starfish and crabs, jellyfish galore. And of course, seagulls, which I don’t much care for, but they tend to leave me alone. There was one memorable moment where a flock of seagulls flew toward me over the sand as I walked, and instead of going to one side of me, they split, and went past me to my left and my right, their wings whistling, and me totally freaked out. When they were behind me, I turned to watch them go, and I thanked them for not hurting me.

And the whole time I’m there, from the moment I get there to the last goodbye as I climb back in the car to return home, I talk to the ocean. I call her Ms. Pacific, and she has given me more gifts and more answers than I’ve ever received elsewhere.

Today, my mind’s eye and my heart are filled with visions and memories of this place. I know I will pull it on like a favorite sweater. I will breathe a sigh of relief and of great joy when I get there.

I can already hear the ocean.

Looking ahead makes my Moment for this week. By next week, I will be fully immersed.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

The Wavecatcher – the little house I stay in.
The view from the writing nook, where I work.
See my books?
My backyard.
Painting in the loft.
My whole writing space.
One of many incredible sunsets.

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