Category Archives: Personal Essay

Music’s Influence in Our Lives

Music has been a part of me all my life. I wanted to be a singer or play an instrument as a child. I tried to join the chorus but the teacher said I couldn’t sing. I wanted to learn to play the piano but my mom said I had to play the clarinet or flute. I choose the clarinet. I learned to dabble a little on an organ and later on a keyboard. Yet I never became proficient at playing any instrument.

Writing has been my main avenue of self-expression since I couldn’t seem to express it in music myself and depended on others music to speak. Songs and lyrics have been my verbal expression of my feelings and emotions. I even took a songwriting class in my thirties.

I ended up dancing. Tap dancing, ballet dancing, modern dance, expressive dance. Dancing became my connection to the music. The way I expressed the music I was hearing in my soul.

Music has gotten me through feelings of loneliness, unhappiness, emptiness, sadness, grief, and depression. It lifted my spirit gave me moments of joy and happiness. It created moments of life and living. It gave me hope when I was feeling despair. It got me through moments of weakness and helped me find inner strength in reserve.

Music has played an influential role in my life. It has helped express feelings and emotions that I was unable to express outwardly. It gave me strength during times of difficulties. It was my refuge when I needed to hide. It was my secret place. My cocoon to feel safe, and gather strength and inspiration. It gave me back my life at a time my life I felt empty and barren.

A country singer by the name of John Michael MontgomeryMe & JMM filled me with hope when I wasn’t sure there was any life for me. With his music, specifically with the song, Life’s a Dance, he helped me find a spark of spirt inside, I thought was gone forever.

I even go to meet him at a concert!

 

Soon after Martina McBride offered me strength and courage. I play Martina McBride when I want to feel comfort and angels sing and to feel empowered. Of all the singers it is her voice that I envy. It evokes memories, it resonates through my body, it comforts my heart and it feels at peace within my soul.

One of her songs, From The Ashes written by Hillary Lindsey and Austin Cunningham, was my anthem for a long. During the time I was in the middle of the fire burning down the old walls waiting for the smoke to pass it gave me hope that I could step into becoming a new stronger person. It helped me discard the past and prepare to be reborn. Another of her songs, The Ride, is my current theme song.

Then when I had fallen lost again, a man I met at a retreat center revived my love of music and dance. It brought my connection to my body and spirit back into the world. Music became personal again. I began going to hear local artists and friends who played. Through them, I came back to music and dance.

Music gave me a way to get back into myself. Music gave me a passion to reenter life.

Music can be a powerful tool for self-reflection, self-discovery and self-expression. Our choices in music can give us clues to our authentic self. We can find hidden pieces and move us more fully into our being and true selves.

Every generation can be identified with the music it grew up on, the music that came out of it tells a story of the times. It tells of their hopes, fears, beliefs, and experiences. In my own life music has impacted my development, character and growth.

Music has found a way back into the foundation of my life. I hear live music every week. I have friends who play and have bands. Though I long to join them playing and singing, I dance my heart out! Even when I have had a long day and am tired, I go listen to my friends play and I get a second wind. It revives my body and spirit.

Music has played a large part in my life. It has had moments of great significance, defining and commemorating events in my life. It has sometimes just been playing softly in the background. It has been consistent and steady. Like family and friends, participating in important moments always there to lean on. Music is a part of my life, a part of me. Music is my best friend.

Music creates History – History creates Music

 What role does Music play in your life?

Step Deeper into Your Dreams

Today is the day I take another step into my life – deeper into the sea of dreams, desires and journey into the next adventure.

My new book, Through the Woods to the Sea: A Journey of Becoming Me is now available. update Memoir Cover

Sharing my story, my life with the world is scary exciting!

Writing being an author has been a long buried dream of mine since I was a little girl, but like I pushed aside my love of the ocean, I buried that dream because I was told it was impractical and unrealistic.

It took fifty years of my life to dig it up and resurrect it. It took almost another ten to write it and find the courage and confidence to rewrite, edit, and publish it.

After writing the rough draft, fear took hold. A friend suggested I test the waters and write a short book on my love of the ocean. That is how Dancing on the Beach came about. A collection of essays expressing deep love and connection to the wisdom of the ocean (501x800)

Rewriting my life story was a long emotional process. I would work on it, have a reader or editor look at it, think about the suggestions then finally rewrite. I went through four different versions and formats before I found the format that fit my story. In hindsight, it was the most logical choice but it took me a roundabout way to get there.

It is my way I guess, I never seem to approach anything in a linear fashion. I love jumping around here and there to see what side trips might be interesting or what I might see or discover.

When I thought about becoming a writer, I never thought about writing personal essay but it is where I found my voice. Writing my own life story wasn’t in the plans either but years ago a teacher had suggested that I write about my experience with dissociation. Years later as I was in the midst of my midlife free fall, other women I shared my story with asked me to write and share it when I arrived.

Truth is arriving at one point just sends me off to another point on the horizon I see. Life is like that. We are never meant to arrive and stay long term just for a while and then to move forward towards something more.

So I have shared my story in hopes it inspires you to free fall or jump into becoming your true self and share it with the world in whatever expression that is for you.

We live life in our experiences expressing our spirit in the present moment

Step Deeper into Your Dreams!

I got it! I think… Almost

 I started writing this morning, working on a piece about  how I came to love the beach, travel and cruising and it turned into something completely different. Even though I was intending to write about one subject I had another subject on my brain.

I have been working on redoing my websites and services, what I am going to focus on for work, to earn a living. I am having conflicting thoughts on the matter. And the two ideas messed into one article. One never knows where a breakthrough or insight will arise.

I have always loved the beach. My passion and love of the ocean has grown and evolved wrapped with my love of traveling and writing. It has taken me most of my life to be at peace with who I am and to live my life through my loves, interests and passions.

Growing up my travel was mainly throughout New England living in Massachusetts. Our trips to Cape Cod and to the beaches in Maine were limited. I would beg my mother to take me to the beach. She would grudgingly take us to the town pond or to a nearby State Park several times a week in the summer.

Somehow we did manage to go to every state in New England, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. We even went to New York City and to Montreal Canada. We would take boat rides on Lake Winnipesaukee and the ferries in Boston Harbor. I loved being on the water.

As a teenager we began going to Bermuda. Dad would come home and tell us we were off to Bermuda for the weekend. Our first trip mom wouldn’t stay at the beach so we stayed at a hotel inland. My sister, Susan and I took the bus to Hamilton and then to the beach all by ourselves. It was thrilling to be off in a strange land on our own.

After high school our family along with a couple of my friends and one of my sister’s friends went on our first cruise, the Mardi Gras out of Boston to Bermuda. I had been on boats before on the lakes of New England and in the Boston Harbor but this was more than I could ever imagine. During my late teens and early twenties I went on two cruises every year. I would go on trips even short trips whenever I could. Once I went on a trip to Aruba by myself. It was an experience that opened up a new world to me. It showed me I was capable of more than I believed about myself.

I journaled, wrote poetry and wrote stories about my travel and places I went to, my love of the ocean, boats, ships and the beach. Writing was my friend. I could write what I felt and experienced what I loved and hated without any judgment from anyone.

The experience of being in new places brought myself out into the world. At home I was shy and reserved. When I traveled I was someone else. In traveling I began discovering who I was. It was the only time I felt comfortable in myself.

Life, real life and living the kind of life that was expected of me took me away from those interests and passions I loved. I had new experiences, many of them wonderful but my heart was not in it. Life was alright but something was missing. I even forgot what it was.

Divorced now with three young girls I began searching mostly in secret or in ways hidden from view while it looked like I was doing something else like going to college. Everyone thought I was preparing for a career for when the girls were older and for my future.

In school I explored subjects I was interested in, weather, writing, meditation as well as things that were helpful at the time like homeschooling, teaching, women’s studies and psychology. My classes were a mish mash, a hodgepodge of my inner life.

I learned much about myself. I knew I wasn’t living any dreams or passions. School actually became my passion at that point of my life. I loved being away at residency with new people, learning new ideas and concepts.

In writing about my childhood I remembered my love of writing, baseball and horses, then my love of the beach, the ocean and ships. There was no way any of that could be a career except maybe writing. I pursued a path of women’s studies and how I could help other women except I still couldn’t help myself!

And then it happened quickly and suddenly and I was totally unprepared. I fell of the side of a cliff. My daughters were all grown up and each one heading off into the world to explore and discover their own life full of their own interests and passions. I had given them wings but still hadn’t repaired mine. I was freaking out! My youngest daughter, Monica said, “Mom, go have your own adventure its time,”

Divine Guidance from a friend lead me to a path that I hesitated walking down. Blindly I followed the path that changed who I was becoming. Spending a year at a retreat center in the middle of the woods, writing, meeting people there who were inspirational and supporting helped me feel comfortable again in my own body and mind. I gained some faith and courage in myself again.

Visiting with my daughters, Monica in California and Samantha in North Carolina I remembered my love of the beach and the ocean. When I returned to the woods I heard the ocean calling me in the wind of the trees. I couldn’t contain my desire to live at the beach. With the new found confidence from my time at the retreat center, I took a leap of faith and came to the beach.

This island I stumbled reawakened my connection to the ocean and the beach. It inspired my writing. I feel in love again. I felt like I was home. I settled in to this island community, getting a job, making friends while writing my memoir of my time at the retreat center and where my past life unraveled.

Here at the beach I began living in the present moment letting myself and my life unfold as I danced down the beach each day. Words flew onto the page. Not great words but words I wrote every day. I was becoming more and more myself each day. Life was good. Life was great in fact. I was living my dream of living on an island at the ocean. I was writing and making friends. I become content taking small steps.

And then a curve ball hit me. My sister, Susan called, “Something’s wrong with mom, she’s going senile, crazy. It’s out of control.” The diagnoses was Alzheimer’s.

In the midst of it all I get a text from Susan. “What to go on a cruise? I need to get away.”

Ironically, I was on my way home from a spur of the moment weekend trip because I had needed to get away. I hesitated briefly but whatever Susan wanted and needed I will do. She has been handling the burden of mom and her diagnoses insistent that I continue on with my life. And truth be told I would love to go on a cruise again.

Two month later we are on the Carnival Destiny reliving childhood memories and reconnecting our bond as sisters. Tragedy and Fun intertwined. It was a gift we both needed. We decided in that moment that we would get together every year and go on a cruise or trip of some kind.

The next year, however, we were unable to go on a cruise because mom was in the final stages of her Alzheimer’s. Death was coming and our focus was on her final care. Her death changed both of our lives. It freed us from some of our past.

Our next cruise on the Carnival Splendor the year after mom’s death strengthened our bond. We were raised by the same parents but had very different experiences. This time and our trips have changed us and how we see the past. It set us free from childhood fears and circumstances that were beyond our control. It opened a door for us to have a new bond with new understandings of our childhood. It was time for us to step into ourselves and into our lives without our childhood fears and myths holding us back. In addition it reignited our love of cruising and the ocean.

Our next cruise a journey cruise on the Carnival Triumph is when we began to take flight and Sisters Travel Adventures was born. For me something was still missing, something still holding me back but I didn’t even realize at the time.

It has taken until today for me to fully understand what I have been writing and teaching for the last five years. What I have realized is that I have been trying to fit my interests into a box that I can package to sell to earn a living in the world. I believed it was what I had to do even in following my dream of living at the beach and helping other women take a chance on themselves and their dreams.

It lead me to create programs of journal writing for self-discovery and letting go of you past. Dancing on the Beach releases self-expression and inhibitions,  FootSteps in the sand helps you see the steps you have walked, take the lessons and let the rest get washed away by the sea and walk forward in the present moment to discover what is possible for you.

My Signature Program, Step into YourSelf, Step into Your Life combines all of these elements and going further in taking risks, making changes, move though life transitions in a way that honors your core self and being incorporating you interest, your loves and you passions. Inspiring other women to discover what is truly in their heart, to believe in themselves and in life to lead them towards their dreams not compromise their dreams or to fit their dreams into a box but let them be whatever shape they become.

I am still constantly revamping and changing these programs because I feel like I haven’t gotten it quite right. All of the services I was offering were utilizing a portion of myself and so I have been still feeling unfulfilled.

I still believed that I couldn’t full live the life I really aspire to and dream about. I still believed that what I loved to do had to fit into a box that fit into the world to earn a living. This belief has held me back. It keeps trying to keep my passion as a hobby or vacation. Yes I am traveling and writing about my passions on my blog but I am still trying to find an outlet to earn a living using only one aspect of my passions

My writing has evolved with my travels. My focus is shifting and changing too. As my interests and loves come alive and into the light, my passions are igniting and taking flight.

And then it hit me!

My interests, likes, dislikes, loves, interests and passions don’t fit in a box. They aren’t even all connected. They are a mish mash, a hodgepodge just like my inner life just like I am.  It is who I am. All of it make up me and my life. Compromising and compartmentalizing aren’t cutting it. It doesn’t fit me, who I am or the kind of life I aspire to.

I am about to take another leap of faith and sail with the currents and let the wind take me into my passions and the life I aspire to. I will live what I teach more fully than ever before. For the past years I have tiptoed down the beach even when I am dancing. No longer. I am going to dance down the beach to my own tune, follow my passions wherever they lead.

I don’t know yet how all my interests traveling, the beach, the ocean, boats, cruising, wine, dancing, weather, women’s studies, self-discover, self-expression, community, island life, and writing are going to weave together.

It is time though that I stop holding back that I let go of the false belief that I have to compromise that lifestyle and life I aspire to. I am going to live my life through my passions of the ocean and beach, cruising and traveling, writing and my interests in weather and wine and people and women issues, and whatever new ones I discover along my travels. I only hope that in whatever shape it becomes I can inspire another person to step out of fear, to walk through life changes to create the life they aspire to.

I have only dipped my toes in the water cautiously swimming in the sea. Now I am going to get on the boat and set the sails into the wind. Life is created in each present moment, eyes on the horizon to distant shores. What I will discover will continue to shift and change who I am and who I will become. I am ready.

Instead of trying to fit all my interests, desire, dreams, and passions into my life I am going to let them create my life, be my life. I will live my life through them. I finally think I am getting it. No more holding back and tiptoeing around what I believe. I am going to believe it with all my heart.

I have to because all my interests, desires, dreams and passions are who I am at my core being. They are calling to me to be recognized and to be enjoyed to enrich and inform my being and to enrich the world through who I am and who only I can be. They make me who I am and they will make me who I become.

Life will unfold as I unfold through writing, traveling, cruising, dancing on the beach, sharing times with friends, being part of the community, learning and having new experiences, meeting new people, sipping wine, eating ice cream, anything that enriches my day, in which I experience each moment.

It all fits together and doesn’t fit together it isn’t neat and is as messy as it can be. It won’t be perfect it will still be full of bumps in the road and maybe another fall off a cliff but it will be my life one that fits me and is me.

As I continue down this road of traveling and writing and following my interests then I will be living the life I aspire to. How the work will take shape or evolve will fit me and my lifestyle and come from what I have to offer. Which is who I am.

Sharing with you what I am passionate about – what I experience, discover,  think, feel, believe, and learn whatever shape or form it takes whether it is in writing, coaching, teaching, or just sharing with a friend is my work.

I will let the work come out of the life I am living through my interests and passions whatever form it takes. That is the life I aspire to.

Why don’t you follow your own dreams and passions right to the life you aspire to?

 

 

Island Life as I Know it is Slipping Away Day by Day….

The island life as I have known it is slipping away day by day. I watch the pilings and progress on the new high bridge and feel the life I have come to love slowly slipping away. It has me thinking that maybe it is time to think about moving on myself.

I came to this island to be close to the ocean but also to live an island lifestyle. I found that this place, its simple charm, its history and the community inviting and just what I was looking for. I enjoy the flow from fall to winter, winter to spring, spring to summer, and summer back to fall.

The charm of the town centers not only around the people and the activities but the Swingebridge itself. Living in the heart of the island the Swingebridge is the connection to the mainland and our separation to it as well. Coming back home from a trip crossing the Swingebridge is what makes me feel at home.

I came home from this recent trip to see the building of the new bridge in full progress. As I crossed the Swingebridge my feelings of returning to Paradise and home is saddened. It didn’t feel the same. And the change is just beginning its shift.

As I watch the progress day in and day out simmering anger swirls inside. New is not always better in my opinion. I know for me the high rise bridge will change my life. It will affect my passage on and off the island.

I love walking over the Swingebridge. As I approach the bridge I look south and then north along the waterway the view is always changing and always beautiful. Sometimes it is quiet, the water still, other times it is full of activity. Stepping onto the bridge itself it shifts under my feet. Humming as traffic is drives by me. The wind sways the bridge and I maintain my footing carefully.

Part of island life is timing your passage across the bridge. In the summer months you know the bridge will open at the top of the hour so you wait and go between the hours. I for one don’t mind waiting when the Swingebridge opens, I like watching the boat traffic and admiring all the different boats as they go through the passageway. It is a sight that brings me delight and joy. Just as stepping over the beach access and seeing the ocean.

l do not see me walking over the new high rise bridge even though there will be a walkway and a bike path. The walk will be too long and too high for me. It may be a beautiful view from upon it but it will never have the same feel of walking across history or have the same significance in my heart.

The Swingebridge is the connection of history and life on Topsail even today. The ocean and beach is what draws the people who live here together it is our life pulse but the Swingebridge is the charm and history that binds us together and with the water that surrounds us. . It is the central core that runs the blood of life across the island. Without it that history and life pulse are diminished.

With the new high rise bridge the life flow will have a different pattern. It will affect the life in the central core of the island. I am not sure I will like that change. I crave change and the delight of new sights and experiences. I have wanderlust. Change is usually is exhilarating and exciting. I am dreading this change.

This island has been my homeport for eight years now. I had thought it would remain my homeport for many more. Now that remains to be seen. I am not moving my base just yet. I will wait and see. Each day though as I see the progress I am more sure that it will change this island life that I have come to know.

At the very least it has and will continue to disrupt the flow of life in the center of the island. Each day we are affected by the work going on, from the noise to construction traffic. I have felt an impact in just a month. I can’t imagine what kind of impact it will have in the summer when this island is busy with tourists.

The idea of a new bridge is to try to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow. It is still in question if it will actually do that. In the meantime it seems to be going to create congestion and make traffic flow worse through the construction phase.

Will the island lose its quiet beach community atmosphere or will it become like other beach side communities too busy and too crowded for the locals and regular visitors to live and enjoy the island life they have come to know and love? Only time will tell if the new high rise bridge will make life on the island better. I fear it will change the island in a direction that it will lose its charm, color and community.

When I started writing this article I was simmering with anger. Between watching the progress and the questions of visitors it was steaming out of me. As the words came though I find that it is very much sadness that I am feeling.

It runs much deeper than the bridge itself. I am already grieving for a way of life that seems to be disappearing. I came in search of a small town beach feel. I loved the flow of the seasons both time with my close community and sharing my love of the beach and town with visitors. That is why I settled here and made a home here.

Since I moved here, the island has already grown in leaps and bounds. I cannot deny that in some ways it has been beneficial to those of us who have businesses and work here. Still I am hesitate about further development and growth. I am not sure it is for the best.

If it blends and melds well in ways that maintain the atmosphere and charm and lifestyle of a small town beach community that I desire, I will be pleased.

If it changes things to a point that the island loses its historic and simple charm and the locals lose the beach that we know – if we spend our days busy not having time to enjoy the beach and waterway because we are too busy working to provide our visitors with activities and entertainment the growth will not be worth it.  I know it is not the lifestyle I want.

I am not sure what the result will be. My gut tells me this change will change my lifestyle in ways that will no longer suit me. Maybe it will change things in a way that is more in line with the lifestyle you want. I moved here for the lifestyle I found. Not one I left behind.

It is inevitable that things change and places grow. I can be comfortable with growing pains and adjustments. A very drastic change one far from the reason I moved here, I have to question if it still is something I can live with.

Change is good but not all change is for the best. It may just be a bridge but this bridge has a major role in island life. Removing the Swingebridge and replacing it with a high rise bridge is a major change in the lifestyle, flow and vibe of this island community.

As I continue to watch the progress of the new bridge I do not think that this change will work for me. I have learned to trust my feelings and my gut on what is best for me. Maybe I am wrong. A part of me hopes I am wrong. If I am that would be wonderful but if I am right then it will be time for me to make a major change of my own and find a new homeport.

 

 

Restlessness in Homeport

I am about to embark on an Epic Journey of a lifetime. My sister planned this trip while I was enjoying our last cruise. A year always seems so far away when you plan something special. You wonder if it will ever arrive.

Life goes on day by day. My everyday life is sometimes crazy busy filled with work and social obligations and other times somewhat like a vacation itself. I live in a beach community that fills with tourists during the summer season. The islands life and economy revolve around this time of year.

Some of the locals get very caught up in daily life and never enjoy the island or the beach. I try not to let that happen. I spend as much time on the beach as possible. I have a social circle of friends that get together regularly. I intermingle work, beach and fun weaving a life that many would envy. Tourists ask about my life and many do envy it.

I love my life. I wish I made more money. I wish I could find a way to earn money and do the things I love. I putter at it often trying to make it happen but nothing has manifested. I keep focused on enjoying life the best I can.

People always ask me what I do on vacation or even why I go on vacation. The answer is simple. I love to travel. I love spending time with my sister. I love cruises. I love the ocean and the seas. I love discovering new places, meeting new people, discovering new things about myself.

I have wanderlust. I have always had wanderlust. When I could find a way to jump from cruise ship to cruise ship, beach to beach, amazing place to amazing place all around the world and earn a living I am there! I guess you could say that is my dream.

In the meantime I fill my life with small adventures. It is nice to have an amazing base to come in and out, homeport I call it. Homeport is safe and wonderful. Still I get restless easily and am always ready for the next adventure.

The anticipation and the planning is what gets my sister high. I fill that time with beach and island life in my homeport. And then suddenly the days are counting down to the time to head out to sea. It arrives suddenly sneaking up on me. Time flies. A year has passed and it is time to head out again on another new adventure.

This year our adventure is Epic for us. It is a trip we never really imagined planning but we did. Now it is getting close to embarkation day. I can’t even imagine what this trip will be like. I have no expectations or vision of any kind. I haven’t really been able to wrap my mind around it. My imagination has even been stumped.

What I am sure of is being on the ship. Ship life is something I know and am comfortable with. I love ship life. I am so ready to return to sea. I do not have any idea what the ports of call will be like. What will the ports look like? What experiences will I have? What activities and places will I see? What new discoveries will I make? How will what I see and do change my view of life and of myself? What new aspect of myself will I discover? Will I be up to the challenges of being in places I have never been before?

Travel and experiences always reach deep into me. In discovering new places, cultures and meeting new people I find new aspects of myself. What I am capable of or not capable of? What brings up excitement or fear? I find new activities and food I love or hate. I hear and see new points of view on life and living.

Each day I become me. I become more of who I am. Sometimes I choose aspects of who I am becoming sometimes I stumble upon aspects of myself. Everyday life, moment by moment I am becoming who I am.

Traveling not only enriches who I am and who I am becoming it is who I am. I am every place I go, everyone I meet, every experience I have. It is why after being in homeport for a while I am anxious to set sail and set out to sea again.

Restlessness has set in even with a major move this summer to a new homeport that is closer to the sea and to my being. Seeing her everyday has given me solace. Yet I have sat looking out over the Atlantic Ocean every morning sipping tea and dreaming of being out there upon her charting new courses and discovering new ports of call.

I may be embarking on an Epic adventure but I am returning to who I am to my core being within, to expand who I am and to continue being and becoming.

The time is almost here. I am preparing for a new adventure, new challenges, and new experiences, to be inspired and in awe, to be at sea for twenty-three days. It will be the longest journey yet. It will bring me to ports I never imagined going. I have no idea what I will learn.

I am an archeologist of self and life embarking on an expedition to unearth who I am, who I am becoming, to uncover new corners of the world yet uncharted (by me), and stumble upon new views and beliefs, retrieve long lost loves, to stretch myself beyond my current beliefs about myself and life, acquire new passions, make new friends and spend the best time of my life with my sister.