Where Love and Obligation Meet

Where does one draw the boundaries between love, obligation and regret? There is a very fine line between each of them. The actions we take do not neatly fall into any one of those categories but, instead, often overlap in many tangled and complicated ways. I am writing this post in Hilton Head, where I came for a brief stay with my father and stepmother for all of these reasons.

Because I had not been able to see them over the holiday season, I had been invited several times to come visit. The first two times, I was able to justify my own busy schedule or that of my family; but when I declined for the third time because I was “too busy”, I began to feel pangs of guilt. Was there something sad I could detect in his voice? Was I neglecting my duties as a daughter? How would I feel if something happened and I never had another opportunity? Why was I so focused on my daily life that I was ignoring the long, loving history of our lives together -forgetting how important our relationship is and denying that the extra effort would be worth it?

Thankfully, my husband saw through my calm indifference and realized what was gnawing at me inside. The next day, at his insistence, I booked my flight and now, a month later, I am so glad I came. The weather was not what it should have been at this time of year. In fact, I was lucky to arrive on schedule between the ongoing parade of winter storms. The cold didn’t bother me, though. We walked between the raindrops, braved the winds on the barren beach, prepared delicious meals, talked late into the evening and celebrated by singing together at his piano just like we used to.

Despite the gloomy weather, our spirits are high!

Despite the gloomy weather, our spirits are high!

Delicious jumbo shrimp from a local fish monger!

Delicious jumbo shrimp from a local fish monger!

The evening I was supposed to leave, yet another storm threatened the east coast and my flight home was cancelled. Was it inconvenient? Yes. I had to cover my classes back home and ask my husband to deliver some necessary materials for me. But, I prefer to see this extra day as a gift from Mother Nature. The sun finally came out. The wind went away and I was able to sit outside in only my shirt sleeves. (It was the only day of my trip above 50.)

Notice the temp! It is the highest one of the whole week.

Notice the temp! It is the highest one of the whole week.

Finally it's sunny enough to need my glasses.

Finally it’s sunny enough to need my glasses.

The warm weather also brought out the fog, but at least it wasn't windy.

The warm weather also brought out the fog, but at least it wasn’t windy.

My stepmom and I got to enjoy an hour or so at the beach, breathing in the salt air and moving our bodies after being stuck inside. Tonight we are going out for dinner and will watch the sunset.

This Heron let us watch the sunset alongside him.

This Heron let us watch the sunset alongside him.

This trip has been a special way to reaffirm our bond and create new memories. I am thankful for the wonderful time we had together- whether for love or out of obligation- and I have no regrets.

A perfect way to end a memorable trip.

A perfect way to end a memorable trip.

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Beach photos

I just returned from a relaxing week at the beach. The smell of the salt air and the sound of the waves was so soothing. Swimming in the warm (if you call 70 warm at that time of year) water and body surfing the waves was invigorating. Walking the beach, feeling the sand between my toes and being lulled by the rhythm of the surf was the best way to unwind. The weather was cooperative and the whole family had a wonderful time. Now I am back home, catching up on chores but trying to remember it is summer vacation. Let me just post some of these pictures and take myself back to the beach. I hope you can go there too.

The thrill of the surf and salt water

Pretending I’m a kid again

Sunset over the salt marshes

Feel the power of the ocean!

 

Discovering the Joy of Spontaneity

I am a very orderly, well-organized person, who likes to plan things well ahead of time. This probably is related to my desire for control and is also the root of frustration. This was extremely apparent when I was younger, but as I age I seem to be catching on to the flaws of my ways and am allowing myself room to step back a bit.The balloon ride I recently took was a good example.

I put my trust in someone else- letting him be in charge, even though he had very little control over what direction we would travel or where we would end up. Did it really matter what our destination was as long as we had fun getting there? Gradually I am realizing not everything needs to be planned perfectly. In fact, over the weekend I have let myself be completely spontaneous and do what feels right at the moment.

After last week’s snowfall, we had considered the idea of going skiing. Saturday the weather report predicted rain and wind, so my husband and I went out to do errands while the kids slept in. We were just about to pick up ingredients for the dinner we had planned when our son called us, asking if we would take him and a friend skiing. Just then, the sun came out and it looked like it could be a great afternoon. We rushed home and threw our gear in the car, deciding it would be worth cancelling our dinner plans. By the time we arrived at Jiminy Peak, we were able to buy a Twilight Pass- something I hadn’t done since high school.

The beauty of the snow covered mountains against a glowing red sunset, with all the variant colors of twilight, and the illumination of Venus, Jupiter and the waxing gibbous moon was breathtaking as we wound our way down the trails.Moon and Venus at sunset

It was a spectacular sight I would not have seen if I hadn’t been willing to drop everything and ski- spontaneously! If I had made plans to get up early for a ski trip, we would have been on our way home by sunset. I wish I had brought my camera to capture the picture of the giant wind turbine slowly turning against this brilliant backdrop;

English: Wind Turbine Sunset. View of wind tur...

Image via Wikipedia

but the image in my mind will serve as a reminder to grab opportunities whenever I can. Carpe diem , or as in this case, carpe noctem!

  (If you want to see more pictures, check out the second link below)

“Me” Time

These days it is rare to get much time to myself, other than working on this blog. The rest of my days are spent attending to my house  (including errands), my dogs or my family. Someone or something always seems to need my attention. But this is not a whinefest, I am happy to do all those things. Instead, this is a reminder to us all to take time for ourselves. As they say, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. And that is what I did last week…

Let me say, my husband was very supportive and I could never have given myself this break without his help, knowing he would do his best to take care of things in my absence. So with his blessing, I boarded a plane a week ago, to fly from the Northeast US to the Northwest CA. It was a long trip, but I was going out to spend time with my sister. Even though we had been together for the cruise last summer, it was not the same intimate time that we both wanted. This was going to be a special visit for us to really catch up.

At first it was a big adjustment for me… not having to think about what everyone else needed, only being responsible for myself. When we went out, I only had to bring what I needed- not organizing a group.  Often all I went out with was a water bottle and my camera. How enlightening! (mentally and physically)

I actually had time to stroll along the beaches   with Sis and Dog  .

I had time to take some glorious hikes over the hills and through the woods which lined the shore, coming out to rocky overlooks and beautiful panoramic views.

           

I even had time to take photos of the algae or wildlife that caught my eye…

                

Over the weekend, we took a ferry to one of the islands, checking out the cormorants on the way…

We stopped at the local farmers market, where I bought thoughtful gifts to take home. But that was really the last thing on my mind. I was in no rush to return. The wares everyone was selling were so colorful and creative. My sister and brother-in-law bought cheeses and fresh vegetables so they could continue feeding me well. I focused on taking in the sights, such as these chili peppers…

 Then we headed to the Grape Stomp at one of the local wineries. BIL and I took off our shoes, rolled up our pants and gave it a go. The green grapes were cold and slippery. We hung on to each other for balance while we squished the juicy fruit between our toes and under our heels.

                                     

After that excitement, we deserved some wine. We went to the wine tasting bar and sampled several varieties. They were offering oysters to go along with it, but the line was too long so we bought a few bottles to bring home.   

It was liberating  to not have a schedule to follow, these spontaneous activities were so much fun. However, we did have Dog in the car and we all wanted to take a hike, so we headed out to the trailhead. We were able to get a great view from one of the beaches, and Dog had a long swim- her favorite activity, even in the frigid waters!

We returned home on the ferry at sunset and caught the lingering sunlight as it reflected off the snow-capped mountains!

During the week, Sis and I took the time to sit and talk over meals. Time to connect with where we are at in our lives, to share concerns or offer support to each other. We enjoyed our meditations together during our walks or in an evening yoga session on her deck. And most of all, we were able to drop everything and rush down to the point at the end of her street to observe the beautiful sunsets (we were never up early enough to catch the sunrise- but that is a good thing). On the last night I was there, we watched the best sunset of the whole week.

                  

It was a spectacular celebration of our connection to nature, and to each other, and a good reminder that we all need to have a “pause” button on our busy lives. It is important to take some time to free ourselves up from our daily routines and responsibilities. If we don’t refresh our minds and bodies every now and then, we only become clogged with stress and desensitized to the joys of life. I know it is hard to do; I was very fortunate and I don’t expect this to happen again any time soon. But what I will do, is try to carve out an hour or two of “me” time every week- whether it is for a facial or a trip to a local museum or art gallery. I will make time where I can relax or think about something other than what my next task will be. And if I need inspiration, all I have to do is look at these photos to remind me of how great that time with my sister was! Thanks, Sis.