The gift from the sea is a book I return to again and again, often when I’m at the sea…alone.
Upon reading this ageless wisdom, that was written by Anne Marrow Lindberg in 1954, wife of Charles Lindberg who did the first solo flight around the world, I was catapulted into my very first solo retreat.
In her book, Anne suggests that every woman in the world should let go of their duties of wife and mother and go to the sea at least once a year for an entire week.
So indulgent I felt. My son Cole at the time was four when I whisked myself away to the ocean, rented a cottage, and stayed by myself for three whole days. I almost felt guilty. Almost.
The first day I recall I did not know what to do with myself.
I walked around the empty cute seaside cottage I had rented in Vero Beach, Florida and tried my voice on saying by “hello” out loud to no one in particular. It was strange to be alone. My husband and child took up so much space, and created so much noise.
Then there was the workers who were also always around, the gentleman that came to clean the pool, the woman who came to clean the house, the lawn guy, the mailman, the endless people it took to have our large home stay intact. I realized that I was never, ever, was alone.
I grew up as an only child, and I had grown to love my solitude. I was a wonderful delight for me that I could have my friends over and that eventually they would leave. No brothers or sisters pestering me, had my room and my stuff all to myself. Exactly the way I liked it.
So being alone for the first time in years was almost unnerving.
I unpacked, loaded the groceries away, grabbed my book and headed to the sea. I got myself set up and tried to simply stare out and watch the waves. I dug my brightly painted coal toes into the soft white sand and looked out.
I felt restless, anxious, I didn’t know how to “Do Nothing.”
I grabbed my book and got busy reading.
Throughout that weekend I frequently checked in with my husband and child, kept busy with reading, and didn’t allow myself to surrender and simply be. Apparently it was a learned skill, and I definitely needed more practice.
Fast forward 16 years, I am now a professional seaside solo retreat artist. I now take solo retreats three times a year for anywhere from 5-9 days. I know that nine days are my limit because I start talking to pine cones, forgetting what day it is, karaoke singing to myself in my room, and bird watching becomes my favorite activity.
In these 16 years I have received so many gifts from the sea.
- Permission to rest
- A revival of a consistent meditation and journaling practice if I have recently fallen off that spiritual practice bandwagon
- Permission to write fiction and to read fiction versus always reading and writing about personal development
- New ideas that come in the form of downloads as I walk the beach without my cell phone to call a friend or listen to music It’s amazing the insight that can come if we simply create space for it.
- Time off from being concerned about my son and boyfriend’s dinner since I am the sole chef in the house
- Eating what I want when I want
- Going to bed at 8:30pm and rising at 5:30am (my preferred schedule) that doesn’t always work when you live with a partner who doesn’t get to hang out with you until you are done teaching webinars at 8:30pm.
- Having the time to do both yoga in the morning and long quiet walks on the beach in the afternoon at sunset
- Having the space to think about new courses I want to create and new business I want to launch.
- Writing, writing, and more writing.
- Being at peace. Not having to connect with clients, teach classes, nor handle the needs of my family.
Sounds selfish huh?
Well it’s not.
I come back full of new ideas to support my students, new replenishment to serve my family without resentment, and new creativity to light up the world.
It’s where I find my grace.
Anne also says in her book, “I want first of all… to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact–to borrow from the language of the saints–to live “in grace” as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, “May the outward and inward man be one.” I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.”
Love and Light,