Beginning My LEAP FORWARD: Self-Care & Self-Compassion Abound

This is the first of 30 posts for 30 Days of April, 2022


The following article was written in July 2021 and has been waiting impatiently to see the light of day. Now is the time, finally! It’s the beginning of a new month, April, with its promise of green, warmer days, and lighter hearts. For me it also represents a new project, a fresh start, and yet unknown possibilities.


For the next 30 days I will show up here and post what I wrote July 9 through August 7, last summer. Part of what started as a simple project, a LEAP, these words now reflect the essence of a life-altering experience that was 25 years in the making.


I will do my best to present the words as written. I hesitate to edit, craft, refine, and delete; there is just something about stream-of-consciousness writing that tugs at the soul. So, please excuse the occasional profanity, disconnection, melodrama, and run-on sentence.


That said, we’ll see if I am as brave as I hope to be…


The beach in Rogers Park, on the north side of Chicago
 

July 2021 - Choosing to LEAP


Today I begin a 30-day journey, a project to bring wholeness and wellness into my life. But the project began before I named it - before I saw it in totality. Even now it is too big for me to see the whole thing. This project chose me, similar to how Elizabeth Gilbert describes ideas coming to her in Big Magic.


All I knew three days ago was that I needed a beach walk. It’s about a mile and a half to the beach from where I live in Chicago, at the north end of Rogers Park. I was spent in all ways - physically, emotionally, spiritually, vocationally and avocationally, intellectually, and socially – desperately in need of the water’s serenity, its powers of rejuvenation.


I walked slowly, honoring my back. It went out three times in May, probably the result of two months of stress, and is currently undergoing a 30-pack of chiropractic adjustments. I went without my dog; while I love her to death, my back and I did not need another challenge.


It was cool and crisp, unusual for Chicago in July. I tied a light jacket around my waist, just in case, but the sun was out in full force, and the warmth was the perfect complement to the brisk wind off the lake.


I took it all in… smallish waves lapped against the shore, the beach dotted with children, families, stray walkers, a few dogs, the big, blue sky, so beautiful. I felt better already! I inhaled deeply, held it momentarily, then exhaled slowly, and began to stroll the water’s edge, immediately engaging in my favorite thing… treasure hunting!


I have been picking up beach glass, shell, rock, and driftwood from this same beach for more than 20 years. No matter how many times I do it, each time is unique, exciting, and new. It’s an adventure that never loses its allure… not knowing what I will find but knowing gifts will come to me each and every time.


I focused on maintaining my posture, a neutral curve in the low back, while scanning the sand well in front of me instead of at my feet; leaning over was strictly prohibited. Despite my physical limitations, I left the beach a while later hauling plenty of booty in my pockets. But the biggest treasure was yet to come…


I felt so much better! The beach elixir had delivered – I was calm, energized, and happy. Actually, I was euphoric… the water, the sunshine, the people I talked to, the treasures, the sheer beauty of nature! As I retraced my steps home, the flowers I had hardly noticed on my way to the beach were now vibrant, their colors jumping out at me - vivid, bright, and abundant.


I was overwhelmed with gratitude.


Why don’t I do this every day? Why don’t I write beach inspirations? Wait a minute, why don’t I do something with my treasures?


I’ve been wanting to use beach glass in my art forever; 20 years’ worth still sits on a shelf collecting dust in the studio.


That’s when the project began to take shape. It’s not completely gelled, but the framework is set. I have created three pieces of art. This is the first day’s writing, or part of it. My creative energy has been released - this is the beginning! Every day for 30 days I will go the beach, I will see what shows up, I will make art, and I will write.


This is what happened on day one.


Today is here now, and I must go, the beach is whispering, I hear the waves calling, again and then again. Something is waiting for me….

So Begins a Journey...

I hope you will follow along, day by day, during the month of April. I will share what happened last summer, and how it led to radical discovery, joy, and a renewed passion for my right livelihood, The Whole Wellness Project, and for all of you women, joining me on my journey, and continuing on your own!


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