If I try really hard I can see it. If I try harder I can hear it. A few birds cawing, in the distance the pier crowd squealing.
If I brush back my hair I can feel is stiff with salt, a gritty texture stuck in curls that my normally straight hair feels. I could feel the sand stuck on my skin, shining with an almost glittery texture that smells faintly of coconut. In one hand is a cup cool and sweating to the touch, I rest it on the blanket under me and turn the next page of my paperback in my left.
Alas, I did not vacation on spring break unlike quite a few of my Facebook consorts, but somehow I always manage to convince my friends to take photos or videos of the ocean for me to feed my soul.
I’m a beach girl at heart. One who ironically lives nowhere near the ocean and will not step foot into any lake that isn’t clear so I can avoid the slithering feel of seagrass or fish touching my legs. I shudder at the memory of that thought.
Telling a person with anxiety to relax just doesn’t work. It’s not a switch I can flick and suddenly stop pondering what my children’s next medical specialist might say or something else not worthy of wasting my time thinking of.
Thankfully I have tools:
1. I walk. It’s better without my dog yanking on my arm or him pulling tight because even though he’s 8 years old he acts like a puppy in the excitement department. However, if I walk without him I then feel bad contributing to his separation anxiety and I feel so awful when I hear the sharp cry of him being stuck alone.
2. I write. Sometimes it’s just being able to type notes or story plots or blog post pieces in my phone. Sometimes it’s a letter thanking someone. On a good day I might actually be able to concentrate to work on a novel.
3. I listen. Usually spa music will relax me. I can close my eyes and hear the trickling water of a fountain or picture those ocean waves splashing at my feet. Sometimes I fall back to a white noise app and listen to rain on a tarp. That reminds me of camping as a child and listening to the rain fall on the canvas of my parents’ pop up camper.
4. Sometimes I need touch to relax. I love textures, especially soft feels and if you’ve never tried a weighted blanket try it. I wanted to keep pieces of my children’s baby clothes to feel the memories, but not locked away in a plastic tote. I wanted a quilt. And bless my mother, she willingly took on that job for me when I asked and completed this amazing quilt that completely wraps me in love.
Even though we didn’t put weights in it, there is filling and the fabrics are heavy, so it does feel as heavy as a weighted blanket. It hugs me, I can fidget with buttons, fleece, ribbons, lace, flannel, denim. And it smells slightly like my parent’s wood burning stove. I can see my mom in her chair with a pillow under her left arm, a cup of coffee on the table next to her as she pins together these pieces, some of them pieces of clothes she had given my kids as gifts.
So when my brain craves the ocean I know I need to pull out my tools. I need to turn on the meditation music, wrap a quilt around me and just breathe. My brain tells me way too often that I need to do everything right. When I know logically I never can. And it’s really okay not to be perfect. Not perfect is beautiful. The sea knows this and reminds me.