Relaxing at the Beach on Labor Day Weekend


I’m on a lounge chair watching rain clouds obliterate the usually relentless Florida sun. Today the clouds may win. They gather together, hanging over the horizon like a dark army on the eastern front waiting for the signal to press the pale afternoon light into the ocean. Princess palm fronds jitter in the mounting breeze. Above, a row of gulls races west. Are there six? No, seven. Do they think they’ll escape the coming storm? Not my problem. Just breathe.
Across the pool my twin grandsons excitedly toss ice cubes into the water. Fifty one. Fifty two. Fifty three. Fifty four! Skipping to their father at the umbrella-covered table they chorus, “What’s the next mission?” I smile at the innocence of their pleasure. A scruffy-looking man in a baggy bathing suit and flip flops glances through the protective fence as he walks past. Images of predators stir my imagination. I mentally chase them away. Just breathe.
Mellow music slows my thoughts; a stem of crisp Pinot Grigio waits at my right hand. A bird with a raspy cry flaps past. I’m surprised to see it’s a mourning dove. This is not the plaintive call I associate with these gentle creatures. The music stops. A shift in key and rhythm. The new song is even mellower than the last. My son and I have the same taste in music. Reflective. Melancholy with a hint of blues. Music Noir. Music with room for thinking. Music to go deep by. My daughter-in-law loves this one too. She tells me the name of the artist, a woman from Australia, I think? I want this CD. Will I remember her name? Missy something. It’s okay. Just breathe.
The breeze picks up. A giant orange, green and blue plastic shark chases an aqua float across the pool and corners it at the far end, pointed nose and sharp white teeth pressed against a raised headrest. The bully and the victim; always with us. Never mind. Just breathe.
I smell someone frying steak. And maybe onions? Subtle sensations from my mid-section trip tiny triggers in my brain. Is that hunger? I should start dinner soon. I head inside for snacks. Returning across the moisture-mottled deck with bowls of chips and salsa I wonder if it will storm or if this is a passing sprinkle. Should I bring the cushions in? They’re covered in Sunbrella but nothing lasts forever. Wait and see. Just breathe.
A distant rumble of thunder. A rising wind. A heavy drop splatters on my arch and rolls down my ankle. Suddenly we’re up and scrambling. Everything not waterproof goes inside. Just breathe.
I’m writing this at the table when my son comes in and announces that the baby — actually almost three now, but the youngest of our brood — just went poo poo in the potty for the second day in a row! The baby looks around expectantly. We all cheer and congratulate him. He shifts his weight, looks down and grins. He has reservations. He’s not quite sure yet about this potty thing. But he’s enjoying the attention. Maybe it’s okay… He’s looking forward to walking to the Surf Shop with Daddy to find a special toy to celebrate the occasion. 
A flash of warmth radiates through my chest. How good it is just to breathe.
(Scott, this one’s for you.)

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0 Responses

  1. Beautifully & Lovingly Written, Jeanie…..
    Felt it all from your description…..
    We went to a small town on the Oregon coast called Yachats (Pron: YAH-Hots), watched the clouds and surf crash onto land, and relaxed utterly…..
    Summer is whispering that it must depart soon–
    Good thing we love Autumn so!!

  2. Thank you, William,
    I hope you enjoyed your holiday as much as we did ours…despite the heat. Unfortunately, summer is dragging its heels in Florida. I love Autumn too. I sure wish we had one here! Spring and Summer are about all we ever get! I really long for my North Carolina mountains this time of year and can’t wait to return in October.

  3. Jeanie,
    I have been thinking in my in-between moments about this post. When I first read this post, I felt deeply engaged, and drawn in – as if I were sitting with you, listening, witnessing and experiencing your sacred inner dialogue – your living “breathing” meditation.
    I woke up this morning thinking again about this post. What I felt and heard is you sharing with us your process of coming to terms with your thoughts and feelings, in the moment that you experienced them. I felt you invited us to join you in your living inner dialogue/experience, into your living, “breathing” meditative personal inner dialogue (a sacred place). I enjoyed witnessing and being with you in this sacred, timeless experience. What I experienced was a blend of your “present” moments – your thoughts and feelings – filtered through your conscious awareness and the taming of the somewhat wild with your accumulated knowledge.
    Is this me – projecting my present thoughts and feelings – or does my experience of your post, in any way, resemble what you wanted to share with us? Or, maybe both? I am curious!

  4. Dear Sandy,
    Yes, you got out of this post exactly what I wanted to say! I love it! During the moments I wrote about I was in a meditative state feeling deeply present and aware. The title is meant to be a bit ironic. What I realized was that here I was at the beach on a day when I was supposed to be completely relaxing but my mind wasn’t relaxed at all, so I started paying closer attention. I would note the rising up of a little fear or concern, make a conscious choice to honor it, then release it and return to my center by paying attention to my breathing instead of allowing my monkey mind to keep racing around in unhelpful ways.
    In writing this post my hope was that I might be able to help people understand this process better by demonstrating how it works with me instead of trying to describe it from a more detached perspective. I am absolutely thrilled that you heard and understood my intended message. Thank you so much for letting me know you not only got it but enjoyed it and felt deeply engaged. This means everything to me. May we both learn to spend more time in this sacred space.

  5. Jeanie,
    Yahoo – for a couple of reasons – one is I am delighted I received your intended message and heard you correctly (that is important to me!) and two – yes, not only did I savor the shared experience with you, I was also reminded and inspired again to be “present” with my feelings, especially with my uncomfortable feelings. I did just that this morning -inspired by your post. I love that you shared your personal experience, rather than just describe it, it felt gripping and deeply poignant! Something about the deeply personal is so universal! This sharing and conversation is adding to a slow cooking stew I have simmering away. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sandy,
    You’re so welcome. Thanks for letting me know what it meant to you. Keep that stew a-simmering. The the more time you give the ingredients to release their flavors and blend, the more tasty and nourishing it will be to you and those you love.

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