Savoring the Waves

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 11.32.19 PMAs I sat at the beach today, watching people anticipating incoming waves, scoping out the size and potential for each, the eagerness in their faces resonated with me. I remember so well, as a child, staying in the ocean for hours on end, excited by the waves, strategizing how to best handle the really big ones – and enjoying the thrill of that perfect ride.

Even when a giant wave took hold, wrestling me into its powerful presence, leaving me a bit scared, a bit discombobulated, I never quit. I kept going back for more.

That’s what struck me today too. That combined challenge and thrill, no matter how big the wave and the kids especially kept going back for more, again and again.

That’s not true for everyone I saw today – and it wouldn’t be at any other time.

Some of us are content to sit on the shore, to build carefully planned-out sand castles. To bring the ocean to us instead via pails to fill dug-out holes and elaborate waterways, safely on the sand.

In time, we learned the tide could come up and swiftly swallow our handiwork whole. For those who feared the ocean’s power, to begin with, this had to be a terrifying reality of the destruction only imagined before.

If you were one of the kids who sat on the sand, maybe you watched the others on their boogie boards or those simply body surfing in the spray. Did you envy them their carefree behavior or think they were crazy to exhibit such a lack of caution with the waves?

As someone most often chest-deep in the ocean, always past the desired up-to-your-waist-only-please put forth by my parents, I remember the icy plunge diving headfirst into oversized Humarock Beach waves, over and over again. I recall the feeling of coasting smoothly astride the softer tall waves, generally found in the aftermath of a behemoth monster that, just prior, crashed violently over our heads.

Do you remember being tossed and turned, like some errant piece of seaweed with nothing to cling to or be clasped on by? Water rushing up your nose, taking away your breath and bringing a sting to your sinuses, throat, and eyes?

Did you then head to shore, to the comfort of your towel, perhaps even your mother’s arms? Or did you shake it off; sure you wouldn’t let another catch you off guard?

Yet no matter how well-thought out your plan was for the next big one, in spite of the best preparation, you learned that we don’t have much control when and where that wave will break. Sometimes it’s timed perfectly, gently washing over us giving us a bit of a chill at worst – and other times, we’re too close to do anything but brace ourselves for what’s to come and do our best to stand firmly on our feet or at least stay afloat as the wave rushes over us.

But still, for many of us, we stay in the water, sensing potential challenges. We’re almost disappointed when the wave is suddenly small and far too easy to manage.

I’m reminded today, that while the smaller challenges can indeed provide a smooth, satisfying outcome and experience, it’s the bigger ones, the waves that can go a million different ways, that can provide us with the greatest thrill of all – and more satisfaction than an easy ride ever could.

That’s always the one that makes me feel most alive, and in realizing that simple truth, it certainly explains a lot for me.

Lessons sure present themselves at the most interesting times, even during a peaceful afternoon at the beach.

Feeding Our Souls

IMG_3063While staying at a charming bed and breakfast this weekend, the owner and I got to talking about the work-work-work mentality so prevalent in the U.S. Originally from the U.K., she went from working tolerable hours, with five weeks vacation, to typical 70-hour work weeks when she transferred to the U.S. – and just two weeks vacation.

She said in Europe, people work hard, but they understand the value of time off and recharging one’s batteries. Working in the software industry, she was surprised by the differences she encountered here – and while away from it now for nearly 15 years, upon recently chatting with a friend from the U.K. who works with American companies, she saw that nothing had really changed.

Yet her life did…and now she owns a beautiful bed and breakfast that is extraordinarily busy in the summer and fall. So much so that some of the things she and her husband love best to do, hiking and enjoying the gorgeous outdoors of New Hampshire, often fall to the wayside during the busier tourist season.

And even if they had more time away from the business, the area itself is extremely full with those coming up to the area to take in its beauty and outdoor activities, so it’s not necessarily conducive for those who live here all year round. She remarked on how comical it is that they don’t necessarily get to do what they enjoy most during some of the busier times of year – but yet have come to love when the tourist season abates to have that lovely stretch of time to truly enjoy the seasonal splendors and the less-crowded trails throughout the area.

That led me to think about all the things we love best and how little many of us get to immerse ourselves in them. For instance, writing is one of the things I most enjoy, particularly writing of a more personal nature and a good deal of the time, professional and personal responsibilities leave me a bit drained and not in the head space to just sit and write on my own time.

For many of us, we love something and we give so much of ourselves to other things that we often don’t make the time to focus on what feeds our souls. For me, I need the time to sit and think, to dedicate myself to a task or to simply write, and it’s not something I can squeeze in easily between other activities. So it becomes a luxury when I do, which is very much what this weekend I am in the midst of feels like. I am immersed in an environment in which there’s nothing to focus on but relaxation, thinking, reading and even some writing.

Over the holiday break, a time when I’m usually still engaged in a lot of activity, all good and quite enjoyable, I made a conscious effort just to be this year. To block off a few days in which I was home and focused on seeing a few things through. And I tackled a couple of things that I had wanted to get done, some that had been on the back burner for more than a decade. It wasn’t that they were monumental; it was just making the time and space to allow them to happen. The pleasure I got out of accomplishing these simple things made such a difference to me.

We all have busy lives and for me, I’ve been juggling a lot more than perhaps I easily can at times. But I made that decision and the benefits have been worth it, although I have missed more leisure time. I know that my life is about to get pretty busy again in early March. So I’m coveting this special time, but vowing to make time as regularly as possible to truly enjoy what I love most.

Isn’t that what makes our lives worth living?

Road-tripping Through the Maritimes

IMG_0402Having recently returned from a family vacation in Canada, I started thinking about its origin and what it actually ended up being. Many months ago, my oldest son expressed an interest in going to the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, which featured a ton of bands over a four-day period. He bemoaned the fact that most of his friends were too married or too broke to commit at that point, and I glibly said, “Well, I’ll go.” And I would. To his credit, he didn’t immediately say, “Seriously?” Given our mutual love of all things Foo Fighters-related (we actually saw the band together for the first time a couple of years ago), we both were pretty excited about the possibility of seeing them again. We each requested the time off from work and said we would order tickets soon—but first we would see if my youngest son wanted to go.

He wasn’t sure. It was a financial commitment he wasn’t ready to make. So we waited, and then we kind of knew the answer, but we waited. As a couple of weeks went by, we kept waiting on getting tickets and for no particular reason. And then I started thinking about it, and wondering, “If I spend the money on a four-day festival and then lodging, food, travel and all, would I rather be spending it on something more?” But I didn’t say anything. I already said I’d go. Meanwhile, we waited and occasionally would mention, “Hey, we better get tickets,” and do nothing.

I started thinking about Canada. More specifically, I started thinking about Prince Edward Island, a place I hadn’t been to since I was a teenager and where my maternal grandparents were from. It’s also the place my mom spent many of her childhood and young adult summers. I kept thinking how amazing it would be to bring her to the island one more time; how excited she’d be. Continue reading “Road-tripping Through the Maritimes”

Feeling the Warmth in a 100-Degree City

photo-147We pulled into Dallas on Friday afternoon and soon learned who from our organization would also be in town for a special event on Saturday. There’s a real sense of camaraderie when you’re out on the road. Put people who don’t necessarily interact regularly in a new circumstance away from everyone else, and very quickly there’s opportunity to get to know people on a level you might not otherwise.

One of the best things about this journey (beyond the student interaction) is the chance to get to know a lot of different people that I wouldn’t normally be working with or perhaps have reason to connect with. So community is being built internally as well as externally with this initiative—another added benefit of the journey that was not necessarily anticipated.

I have only been to Dallas once before, and really didn’t see much of anything beyond my hotel which was pretty nice and the Dallas markets where I was looking for sales reps. I remember thinking how much I’d love to see it again. And here I am, or I should say. . .there I was.
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Heat, Humidity and Cankles

IMG_0426When I joined this cross-country journey about a week or so ago, I envisioned blogging every night about what I experienced each day, just as I often envision getting eight more things done each day than time ever allows. Then reality rears its head and firmly clocks me on mine. There’s nothing wrong with my reach often exceeding my grasp, however. I wouldn’t get to half the things I do if it didn’t.

So here I am, all these days later, with just a single blog post, but the truth is, I’ve been too busy living it to write about it and that’s okay.

We start everything with some preconceived notions, but this was one time that I wasn’t thinking too much about what the experience might hold. I felt I knew one thing only; that the students we would be meeting would be excited about what we are doing. Other than that–I was throwing all caution to the wind and leaving myself open just to experience it.
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A Memorable Few Hours in Pensacola

512px-TileSSaludAllendePeople fascinate me–they always have. I like hearing their stories, learning about their lives and connecting my own observations to what I’m being told. When I travel, I particularly like to meet people wherever I am, especially if it’s someplace I’m not all that familiar with. It’s always cool to take in the local culture and visits some of the places that aren’t necessarily tourist destinations, although I’m usually down to see the must-go-to spots as well.

With that in mind, after a few hours in Pensacola the other night, I wavered between eating something really quickly and going to bed a bit earlier than usual and seeing a bit of the town. I took a quick cool shower to wake up a bit and decided to see what I could see since I didn’t anticipate getting back to Pensacola any time soon. I threw on a bright summer dress, quickly brushed back my wet hair and tied a scarf around my head before heading out the door. I felt like a bit of a mess, but I didn’t really care. Time was a-wastin’.

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On the Road

photoFour hours into day four of my leg of SNHU’s #SeeYourselfSucceed cross-country journey and I already feel like I have been with this dedicated group of people for much longer than that. Actually, the last couple of months have had a one-long-day feel to it—mostly because it’s been such an intensive dive into this initiative encompassing so many different components. When I say one long day, I mean that entirely in a positive way.

There’s been a consistent flow to almost every bit of work that I’ve done over the past two months that easily transitions into my time away from work, too. Actually, there’s very little time away from work. I find myself drawn to the social media elements 24/7, wanting to follow up with every comment, every ‘like,’ every share and every question regardless of the time of day/night. It’s fascinating stuff and everyone is working extremely hard at this. As much effort as I’m putting in, there’s many others doing double that and more. This isn’t work—it’s passion for everyone.
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Embarking on a Great Adventure

photo-145I am about to embark on a great adventure—a journey, quite frankly, that could be described as life-altering (and I’m sure it will be described in just those words by me before the journey is over). It’s a trip already in progress, and I will enter into the second third of that journey, one which I’ve had the privilege to document in blog form and social media for the nonprofit university for which I am fortunate to work.

Southern New Hampshire University began a six-week, cross-country trip by bus–a branded bus–eleven days ago, and has traveled down the east coast, meeting students and alumni, connecting them with advisors and faculty who have impacted them in some significant way, and most all, students are sharing their goals, along with their personal stories and how SNHU somehow fit into each. Every story told to date resonates strongly with me. We hear about the sacrifices made to obtain dreams, not just for or by the student, but his or her family as well; and we hear about what’s next. This is an opportunity to cheer on those still making gains in their degree programs and to applaud those who have completed theirs–and celebrate their success.
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Hitchhiker-Luxemburg-1977I saw an unusual sight yesterday. It was someone hitchhiking, a young man maybe in his early 20s, a bit of a mess really, walking along the side of the road, turning when a car came his way, extending his arm and sticking out his thumb. You don’t see that much anymore.

Back when I was a teenager, and probably for as many years prior since types of transportation that allowed more than one person to get a ride came about, thumbing a ride was not an uncommon sight. It was customary to hear tales of people thumbing across country, through Canada, and across Europe, all of which inspired romanticized versions (for me at least) of what those adventures must have been like.

For those without a car, hitchhiking was a way to get around. When I was in my pre-teens and early teens, I rode my bike like other people drove their cars around town. I would ride for hours at a time, and for me, it was sweet freedom. I would ride that bike from one end of town to the next, reveling in my own ability to get somewhere on my own. I couldn’t wait until I could actually drive a car and really go somewhere. But until then, I had my bike, first a Raleigh 3-speed (a very elegant black bike) and then a bright, sky blue 10-speed. I loved both of those bikes, and went everywhere on them. I liked riding my bike so much that once when I rode in a 25-mile bike-a-thon, I rode the course 3 times that day. The people that sponsored me per mile were NOT happy when I came to collect.
Continue reading “Flashback”