Monday, April 13, 2020

Fourteen: To a Garden Hose

April 9. Well, thanks to the Coronavirus, I'm down to sitting in my front yard, blogging about the sprinkler. From the wide ocean to a garden hose.
But it's peaceful here, and I'm biased. I think it's beautiful, even if my water source can barely be seen in the picture.
We are fortunate to live in a culdesac and have a large oak to give us shade, birds, squirrels, leaves, life.

As I sit here enjoying the view again today, after so many days, I appreciate the calm that comes over me. How grateful I am for my patch of grass, for my piece of sky!
I'll admit that, a few times during this past month, terror has caught in my throat. Terror at the meaninglessness generated from isolation. Terror of a loved one contracting the virus. Terror that I might unwittingly pass it to someone else. The list goes on, but I won't. I will breathe in the beauty of a spring day, and create meaning for my life, like I always have.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Thirteen: Faraway Water


March 30: Chris and I drive to Casino Beach, joining a smattering of people, keeping our distance.
I sit in the car and just stare out past the barriers to the waves crashing on the shore. The sound is music to my ears.
The double red flags catch my eye. Governor DeSantis has issued a "safer at home" order, and it starts in two days.
Chris and I drive east, past Portofino Resort, and pull off the road. We walk the sidewalk along the beach road, again mostly alone.
The desolate, otherworldly beauty of the dunes is nothing out of the ordinary.
This is truly breathtaking.
I stand on tiptoe to see as much as I can of the water. The breeze is bliss, the faraway water still relaxing, still there.
I'm so grateful to have my kids home. I pray every day for our health and for the well-being of my loved ones, my community, this country, the planet.
I keep up somewhat minimally with the news.Then, I enjoy as much as I can, I relish family time, reading, projects, TV. And maybe too much beer.
I hope you are doing the same, dear reader (except for the beer...). The beach is still here. Close your eyes and remember

Photo credits: Chris Zokan

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Twelve: Not Knowing When

March 20.
The county will be closing our beach tonight at midnight; coronavirus precaution. Chris, Natalie and I are here for one last time. For how long? People have been saying the uncertainty is the hardest part. So true.
 The sun is in the west and the yellow-flag waves bubble up onshore, mesmerizing to watch. A breeze blows off the Gulf and carries a salty mist with it and I soak it all in.
Olivia and Jacob are home, so our house is wonderfully full. I have missed my kids and am so grateful to have them back. We are all aware that being quarantined together in a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house could be a recipe for disaster; it could also be fun, and maybe even a productive opportunity to help each other get things done. Hey, a girl can dream!

I'm reading the Handbook to Higher Consciousness by Ken Keyes, and it's so good I have to write about it, even though doing so veers me away from any talk of the coronavirus. So be it.
One of its amazing insights is to realize when I'm "addicted" to something and change the way I think about it. We aren't necessarily talking about drugs and alcohol. For example, I've realized I'm addicted to the idea that Courage Without Grace must be picked up by an agent and published. I want it so bad, it hurts, which makes my desire an addiction.
I have so much anxiousness around the whole publishing process that I can't see clearly. Can I change my addiction to a mere preference? I certainly prefer that Courage be published, but can I still be happy if it isn't?
Keyes points out that when we see everything as a preference, we lose our intense negative feelings and gain clarity and effectiveness. I would like that a lot. And in this moment, sitting here by the sea, I'm sure I can be happy no matter what.
The sun has gone behind a cloud, and it's turning chilly. We're talking about dinner and it's time to go home. We'll leave here not knowing when we'll be back, and I want to cry.
And for the record, I'd like to add I prefer the beach stay open, and that the coronavirus just go the hell away.
Photo credits: Chris Zokan

Friday, March 27, 2020

Eleven: Wim Hof, Baby!

March 15. Good Lord, what a week.
Natalie is home for an extended spring break (yay!) because of the coronavirus (boo!) and we are at our favorite spot on the beach.
It's a green flag day, green water that is COLD, but it's seventy degrees out, and we're wearing bathing suits for the first time this year.
Such beautiful water, calmly rolling up to the shore for one foamy white splash, but... the flies! My goodness! They are awful! The little pests aren't stopping us, or the other spring breakers, but we'll no doubt cut our visit short.

I heard about Wim Hof on Netflix's controversial "Goop Lab" (no apologies, lol) and love what I've learned about his method so far. Check him out here: Wim Hof Method. Following the crazy Dutchman's lead of cold showers and ice baths, I jump in the 66-degree ocean. It feels SO. GOOD. It's so invigorating I want to whoop and holler, and call out, "I'm alive!" I don't do it, though. Natalie has joined me, and I don't want to embarrass her.

Laughing, we crawl out of the water to warm up in the sun. Back in our chairs, I don't want to think about the coronavirus. The U.S. seems to be collectively holding its breath for tomorrow. The true numbers of how many have the virus will be known when the masses get tested.

For now, we shoo away flies, soak in the sun, and relish the cool fresh feeling from our first ocean swim of 2020. A wave comes up over the small rise in front of me, rolling a few shells with it. The water is within inches of our chairs. I guess it's time to head home.

Photo Credits: Natalie Zokan

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ten: And So It Begins

This cold and beautiful March morning was stolen straight out of January, with its quiet lake-like waves gently rippling to the shore. I sit beside it, somewhat distracted.


I ask Google how many US counties have coronavirus. It's March 8, and the numbers are still low. But out of 3,142 counties/county equivalents, Santa Rosa is one of them. A resident in his 70s died from COVID-19. Did our paths cross?
I shake my thoughts from the hot topic of the day and think about my week. Big changes are afoot.
I no longer work in Milton, driving over a half-hour to and from home. My territory is now my town. Come Monday I'll drive five minutes to my first store and go from there.
This saves money on gas, saves wear and tear on my car, and so much time. Also, I'm ready to focus on other things. Dare  I say I'm ready for a change? I will miss my drive on Scenic Highway in Pensacola, though: read Commute Delight here
Another development involves Courage Without Grace, my current manuscript. A beta reader returned her copy with excellent feedback, and two more wait in the wings, so it's time. I query agents next, starting this week of new beginnings.
As groups of sandpipers skitter by, as people search for shells along the shore, as a lone surfer rides the small swells, I breathe in  deep and try to soak in the beauty. A flock of seagulls sits on a sandbar looking out to the ocean, calling. Surrounded by water, they create a strange site.
I'm distracted again. A couple walks a little too close to my chair, and I watch them, wondering ...

Photo credits: Chris Zokan

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Nine: Leap Year Day

Sitting on the sand at Seaside with many, many women. Turns out it's the Aloe Vera-- I mean, Vera Bradley -- Run tomorrow and the place is packed.
But we don't care.
Natalie is home for the weekend! She wanted to come here, no doubt for the memories. We've been visiting 30A for decades. She's grown up vacationing here.
We rode bikes on the paths, we ate at Pizza by the Sea, we walked through the Shops of Seaside, and now we sit on the beach and breathe in the sea, the sand, the sun.
So deeply satisfying to have her here. To share stories of the past month, to have long, easy, conversations, to just be together.

I'm deeply grateful for the Gulf of Mexico, our happy place, for its ability to take me to that peace in my soul where all is always well.
The sun glistens brightly off the water and the breeze is strong, making the surf loud enough to drown the voices of people nearby. I take the first deep breath of the day, and the second.
I didn't listen to my intentions yet, so I do it now.
I've recorded myself saying words that conjure images of how I want my life to look. Laughter. Ease. Fun. Kindness. Connection. Beautiful music. Purpose. Clarity. Prosperity. Peace. Lightness. Exhilaration. Beauty. Nature. Enthusiasm. Family. Friends. Confidence. Excellent health.
When I feel the words, I'm one step closer to living them all day, every day.
Today, I smile at Family. Nature. Fun. I would add the word gratitude, but appreciation is at the core of every single word, especially today.
Photo credits: Chris Zokan

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eight: Mardi Gras!

Not until I moved to the Florida panhandle twenty-eight years ago did I hear about Mardi Gras parades. But once I got here, I fell in love with them.  Chris and I rode our bikes over the Bob Sikes Bridge for this year's Pensacola Beach's parade, held on a beautiful, cool Sunday afternoon. 
The brightly costumed people on the fifty or so floats threw beads and Moon Pies and frisbees, but the best part of the street party was, and always will be, the music. 
One after another, the floats cranked out upbeat songs that had me dancing and singing with the crowd, all of us ready to, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" There's nothing like a street party on the beach to get the good times rolling.

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!
 Photo credits: Chris Zokan