Big Sur Heart

September 20, 2011

When I head north to Big Sur my heart swells knowing that I’ll be rhythmically winding around the edges of cliffs that drop off into a rocky mountain landscape. Around each bend an enchanting view reveals itself without noise. No imagery shouts at you, it just welcomes you. The water’s edge invites you to breathe, the mountains remind you of your size, and redwoods create a canopy of protection that keep out any agendas you brought with you. Big Sur is a place that calls me when I need healing.

Some days the morning fog settles over your soul and gives your heart a new story to tell. Seeing landscapes in layers can mimic the complex layers that we carry within us. When nature reveals her layers to us, bathed in morning light and dripping in heavy fog, the contrast of emotions can leave us breathless for a moment. For me, this is a moment of meditation that breaks through all our layers of  emotional crust. This is how I heal. It may only be a brief glimpse of a ray of sun casting light off the mountain and into the sea but it can change something in us.

This summer has been really hard. I’ve struggled creatively, professionally, and personally. I can feel paralyzed when all three circles overlap and show signs of stress. I think most people experience this feeling at one time or another. The pressure to have a career is intense. It’s double  intense when you haven’t a clue what you’d like to do in life. It’s triple intense when you’re 35 yrs old and everyone you know is a success. It weighs heavy on my heart. This summer I felt like it was the heaviest it’s ever been. It became near debilitating.

My creative life has suffered for a while. In my current job I teach art. I teach kids to trust themselves and their creative choices. I teach them to own their art and create with confidence. I then come home with great ideas and no action. Sometimes there are obstacles blocking my path that just need money and time. Other times it’s just me blocking my path. The more unhappy I am in other aspects of my life the more my creative life suffers. When that outlet closes up, I close up. I think this is true for many artists and creative types. It’s our life blood. Work is just a means to support creative life. It gets tricky sometimes because if that work drains us it can affect our creative life. For me, the two circles have lots of overlap.

My personal life overlaps with both of the other circles all the time . It’s been stressful. On the one hand, I have the greatest husband, friend, and supporter. I’m so lucky in that department.  I’m grateful every day that I get to wake up next to him. For everything that I’ve done wrong in my life, this was the one thing I did right! He knows me at my deepest core. On the other hand, I’m just pretty miserable with other aspects of my life now. I don’t like living in the valley. I hate my commute. I’m pretty stressed everyday . It’s taxing for everybody and on my body. Getting older isn’t easy. I’ve spent tons of time at the doctor getting poked and prodded and having tests done. This has added a whole new layer of anxiety to everything.

I know I’m not the only one out there that feels the heaviness of these three  areas of life overlapping and making life hard at times.  I do yoga, I meditate, exercise, eat right, and try to land on the side of optimism. Sometimes, it’s not enough to break through our layers. The healing process is different for everyone. For me, it was nice to hit the road with friends and wind through redwoods and listen to water crash on rocks. I may not have broken through all the layers but I was able to start cracking them open.

My suggestion for anyone needing a reboot ni life is to take a road trip. It would be awesome if you could go by yourself or with a trusted partner. Unfold into nature and peel back the layers of anxiety and stress. A great place to  start is in Big Sur, Ca. Drive up Highway 1 and visit the elephant seals in Sam Simeon. If they don’t make you laugh you’re not human. Continue on up to Big Sur and go camping in the redwoods. Take day trips to all the beaches and visit local businesses. Have a drink at Nepenthe and a coffee and pastry at Big Sur Bakery. Take photos, write, draw, paint or just look out into the sea. As Big Sur reveals itself to you, you will recover a piece of yourself in the process.

Happy travels!

Finding a Space to Breathe.

September 30, 2008

it’s been awhile since I’ve had words. i recently went on vacation with peter. the stench and chaos of las vegas was still embedded in my clothes for days after leaving.  the imposing stillness of the muddy red rock formations provided a balance to the over stimulation hangover vegas gave us as a souvenir.  sedona was beautiful. the rocks silently exist with this ever changing beauty that no film can quite capture. clouds rolls across the stoic formations and the whole mood of the landscape changes. i felt like they were silently encouraging us to breathe. perhaps it was the elevation that had me at a loss of breath, the clean air or maybe it was the way the rocks invited me in, that left me speechless.

i left craving more.

before arriving in sedona, we were able to visit the grand canyon. when we arrived, i was full of tired and stubborn tears. the kind of tears that creep up on you without reason. i wish i could say it was the beauty of the canyon that stained my cheeks but it wasn’t.  when we drove  into the park, i felt tired and a bit worthless to be honest.  all i could think is “who am i?” why am I sad right now? why am i frustrated? it was horrible to feel like i didn’t have space for the grand canyon and my personal emotions at the same time.

i had to pee.  i walked quietly by myself to the restroom, which seemed to be a mile away. i left peter behind to take pictures while i  decompressed. in a matter of  a few minutes, i was feeling better. i returned to peter happier but still mixed up inside. the worst part is trying to explain to someone else why you’re so sad on vacation. sitting on the edge of such  a powerful natural landmark  healed me.

the thing about having a great boyfriend is that they don’t judge you. sure, he was quietly frustrated with me. however, he also knows me and knows that  each small storm that rises eventually passes. he doesn’t get worked up. within minutes i was dry eyed and smiling letting the vast openness of the canyon work it’s magic on me. it kind of feels like it can eat you. it’s so powerful and strong.

i would love to return to the grand canyon. it was more then i thought it would be.