Monday, 25 June 2012
A Week by the Sea
I've spent the last week in my favourite corner of the UK; holed up in a 1930's holiday chalet which was nestled in the dunes at Hayle and overlooked the beautiful bay of St Ives.
From the moment we arrived, real life seemingly paused. The windows of our wooden home looked out over vast expanses of Cornish countryside, or over the dunes and the sea to St Ives. Worries and niggling thoughts melted away with the first walk on the beach; glassy green waves breaking with a hiss on the ochre shore, seagulls wheeling and calling in the wind whipped blue sky above. Bare feet on sand, the first kiss of the ocean on your toes, inhaling deep salty breaths of pure clean air, collecting mussel shells and pieces of driftwood. It felt like coming home.
I'm very much at home by the water, and there are lots of watery signs in my astrology chart which may explain why I yearn for it so much ~ I'm a cusp baby of Pisces and Aries, and have a Scorpio moon.
I love the colours of the coast, they wash the soul and renew the spirit ~ turquoise, aquamarine, jade and blue...
We spent as much time as we could by the sea; walking out to sand islands left by the receding tide...
We had a barbeque on the beach one evening; catching the tantalising smell of sizzling hot dogs on the breeze as we splashed in the sea, racing up to the rocks at the back of the beach to sit and eat them whilst watching the crystal water lap lazily onto the creamy, shell sprinkled sand.
I spent a lazy hour or so wandering around St Ives town, soaking in the atmosphere. Beyond the bedlam of the well trodden tourist path there is a maze of tiny cobbled back streets, fishermens cottages, tiny galleries and glimpses of the sea...
There are tiny roads with names like Wheal Dream, and bunting flutters festively between the rooftops. There are terracotta pots bulging with scarlet and raspberry geraniums, little windows displaying colourful art and craft. And there is the constant energy of the sea, always just around the next corner or down the next lane; you feel it in your bones and there's always the anticipation at catching that wonderful glimpse of it again and again...
Having our little girl with us meant that our days were full of fun and games, running in and out of the sea, seal spotting, picnics on the beach, trips to the zoo and plenty of sandcastle building and eating of ice-creams. Relaxed and happy times indeed!
Going away somewhere beautiful allows you to recharge fully. I found myself watching a dramatic sunset one evening and contemplating this slower pace of life that had taken hold since our arrival and I determined there and then to try and implement aspects of it when I returned home. I saw how much time I sometimes spend on stuff that isn't that important; things like the internet, creating extra (and unnecessary) work for myself. I think we are all capable of filling our lives to the brim, that we all forget to stop sometimes and take stock of what's working for us - or not.
I'm moving into the slow lane, making decisions based on what feels good for me, not what I think I ought to be doing, not what pleases everyone else.
I read a brilliant book last week, I found it on the bookshelf in the chalet and read it each evening. The message in this book touched me so much I've bought my own copy; it's called A year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. It tells the story of how over the years of her life as a wife and mother she unconsciously replaced her own needs and dreams with those of her nearest and dearest. With her sons grown and her marriage souring she retreats to a beach cottage on Cape Cod and spends a year rediscovering herself, working out what it is she wants to do with her life and who she wants to be. It's a really inspiring read and I recommend it heartily. I love my family dearly and would (and do) do anything for them, but I know that since having a family my life became very much about nurturing others, my needs mostly being at the bottom of a long list and very often not met.
I'm conscious that writing this may raise an eyebrow or two, some of you may think it sounds selfish to make such a brazen statement of things not being enough when it seems from the periphery that I have so much.
And I do have so much, there are many blessings in my life and I'm grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way. But I like the idea of finding myself again, of slowing my life down enough to be able to figure out what's really meaningful - for me and my family to live a nourishing, fulfilling life that works for us all, where all our needs are met. I think this is becoming a journey year for me, I've gone through some big changes and have reached a point where I was asking 'is this it, is this all there is?' whilst already knowing the answer:
Of course it isn't.
It's just a phase of growth and change.
So I watched that glowing nectarine sun sink into a velvety lavender sea and felt very peaceful; just acknowledging that I needed to take my own voyage of self discovery was like being handed a magical key to the next step. The feeling of struggle had gone, and I knew that with time and a little exploration everything would all fall into place.
I'm happily going to gesso a canvas now, there are some new paintings I'd like to let loose and I'll share them with you all soon.
Sending you love, wherever you are in the world.