The Necessity of Tides

I’m drawn to the coast.

Seduced by the subtleties of sand meeting water. Captivated by the currents and briny air ushered in from the water’s edge. The sounds of seagulls and waves always arrive as good news to me.    

And I don’t consider myself a poet, but when I’m near any sort of shore, poetry spills out. My mind grasping for words worthy of capturing the beauty—word pictures snapped as impulsively as the pictures on my phone.

Allie Illuminated | Low Tide

In February, I stayed in this sleepy coastal town just across the Canadian border. What I imagine to be hopping in the summer, all fish & chips shops and ice cream parlors bustling with friendly Canadians now remained mostly dormant in the grey-skied winter months—the boardwalks had more strolling seagulls than tourists.

I was housesitting in this Colonial style home, just a fifteen-minute walk from Crescent Beach. I would take Maddi, the 12-year-old shepherd mix down the 101 rickety stairs cutting into the bluffs down to the stony beach. On clear days, you could make out the Vancouver skyline off in the distance, the North Shore Mountains etched behind.

As a land-locked Iowa native, the tides are a fascinating mystery to me. Our first few visits to the beach must’ve been at high tide the water, a little ledge made a sidewalk out of the beach. Other times, the beach revealed an expanse of rocky coastline. The shallow slope of the land makes the tides dramatic, exposing glassy bars of soft sand stretching out hundreds of feet.

As part of the Straight of Georgia, we were protected from the wildness of open sea. No crashing waves. The ebb and flow of the tide the only sign this water belonged to the ocean. I relished the long beach walks, Maddi dutifully sniffing every third rock.

Allie Illuminated | Low TideWhen I decided to travel solo, I intentionally, willingly carved this wide margin in my life. The rhythm slows down a lot when you spend six weeks alone in a place where you don’t know anyone. I welcomed the spaciousness like a low tide. I explored the exposed tidal pools on my own and admired the rivulets of water etching lines in the salty sand as often as I could those solitary weeks in Canada.

To the untrained eye, the bareness of low tide could easily be mistaken for a drought. A depleted water source pointing to scarcity. Likewise, the barren quietness of my solitude could’ve easily been seen as an emptiness. My poverty of activity and company a glaring sign of all that was lacking in my life.

While isolation isn’t a state I’d like to live in indefinitely, allowing the busyness to seep away and releasing my need for constant companionship was a freeing revelation.

Allie Illuminated | Low Tide

That’s the beauty of low tides. Being stripped bare from the blanketing waves, the secrets of the shore are revealed. Low tide is an invitation to rest. Boats nestled into their docks, lowering closer to the foundations. It’s also a time to explore, to gather and collect hidden treasures unveiled in glistening sand.

Seasons of quiet—margin to simply Be—can make me feel exposed at first. Panicky, I used to reach for some sort of activity to crash over me like the incessant waves I was used to. But this time, on the Canadian shorelines, I leaned into the quiet.

Don’t get me wrong. I love high tides, both the reality and the metaphor. A week after leaving Canada, I picked up my dear friends from the airport. The wave of familiarity reached my delighted heart like the gift it was. I could hardly contain my giddiness as we made our way to the Oregon coast. Waves crashing, sand between my barefooted toes. The rush of conversations and laughter and companionship—familiarity that had almost become foreign to me swept right back in, and I welcomed it.

Allie Illuminated | Low Tide

I need both. The rising tide of action, engagement, moving in the world is directly linked to our purpose in this world. But I’m beginning to suspect our highest contributions can’t happen unless we also receive the moments of low tide.

It feels like the placid waters of my low tide are starting to rise. My shorelines aren’t crashing with waves just yet, but I wonder if high tide is coming. Rising or receding, I want to remain open to the tides.

Allie Illuminated | Low Tide

The Grand Adventure

First day of a New Year. It’s a blank space baby. (Too much Taylor Swift? maybe  NEVER!)

Before I write on the blank space of a new year, it has become a tradition of mine to pause and look back. With my birthday early in the month of January, the first of the year has always been a time where I think about the moments that shaped the last year of my life.

2014 somewhat resembled a phoenix. It started in the ashes and smoldering of heartache and disrupted plans, but the brokenness led to a beautiful honesty and authenticity that was such a gift. I found myself, at the end of the year in an unexpected flourishing of happiness and stability. Moments that shaped my year, moments that quietly revitalized my spirit:

  • Raw, heart wrenching conversations with hands clasped tight and tears silently streaming. Kindred spirits kneeling down in the pain with me to listen and speak words of truth.
  • Brave adventures, rediscovering the wanderlust that makes my soul come alive in traveling, alongside companions that multiply the joy of experiencing new things.
  • Spontaneous, gritty and soul nourishing heart-to-hearts shared around the kitchen table with the unexpected gift of sisterhood found in my 5 roommates.
  • A warmth bubbling up from within as I hold my new niece and nephew, kissing the tops of their wispy heads and seeing their impossibly small fingers curl tightly around mine, thus stealing my heart.
  • Dancing my heart out in the company of my favorite people, sometimes in the same place I ate my breakfast in quiet solitude just a few hours earlier.
  • Seeing the camaraderie of an entire city emerge as the Royals keep winning and keep winning. Grinning ear to ear as a sea of blue erupts in the celebration of victory.
  • Entering into the abandoned exploration of creating art, knowing deep down that this is what my hands were meant to do.
  • Basking in the simultaneous glow of a crackling fireplace and the company of dear friends, who are generous with their laughter and gifted in the art of storytelling. Realizing that feeling of belonging is nestled snugly in my bones.  IMG_2274

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roomies

Yeah, 2014, my 26th year, it was not what I thought it was going to be. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Finding happy trails… often involves trekking into Terra Incognita without a compass, but with a resolute openness to experiencing life in all its ravishing complexity.” (Debra Ollivier)

This was certainly true for me this year. Having my sights set on 2015, I want more of the same. Less knowing the answers and more dwelling in the mystery of the right questions. Less having a rigid plan to be tied to and more open-handedness, available to embark on the adventure waiting in the moment. Less trying to live up to the expectations of the better version of myself and more cultivating and stepping into the contentment of who I am and where I find myself. I am becoming more “suspicious of the American style culture of constant self transformation, which draws you into its undertow with the promise of a totally new, improved, much better you while its evil twin suggests there is something very wrong with you.” (Also from Debra Ollivier– What French Women Know… read it.)

In reminiscing on the last year, I came across this journal entry and so resonate with it still. This is my New Year’s resolution.

“I am awakening to the yearning in me to not settle. To Life Life to the Fullest! I’m not going to deny it, I am addicted to comfort, but I don’t want the surface desire for safety and comfort or the tyranny of the daily tasks and “the next thing” to drown out my soul’s deeper cry for Vibrant Adventures, Wholehearted Living! I want to say yes to the daily adventures, soak up the moments of the gift that is my Life, to push past my comfort zone and experience wonder on a regular basis. To me, that means traveling, as well as being a tourist in my own city. It means spontaneous trips to the park and giggling on the front porch with my roommates. It means weekends of solitude and following the impulse to make art. It means being open to the opportunities to connect deeply with others. It means reveling in the grandeur of it all, but having that wonder roll up into gratitude and awe of a God who would put on such an Extravagant Affair. I need to be reminded of this. I want to surround myself with people who have this same mission. Who will point me to the truth and pull me into this Grand Adventure.”

So, dear reader, do you want to join me in this Grand Adventure that is 2015?

I Fear A Life Not Lived

Image

I fear

A Life Not Lived

(to the fullest)

 

that I will have chosen

the Comfortable Cage of

Complacency 

in exchange for the

wild and 

untamed Unknown

 

unable to let go of 

Control, 

I will settle into

Good Enough &

Playing it Safe

will become my 

Advisor

 

Trading for 

trinkets of 

Acceptance & Security 

the Pearl of 

True Freedom

I will swindle myself

 

I am so afraid

that I will come to 

the end

only to find out 

it was the 

mud pies in the slums

I had chosen 

over the 

Holiday at the Sea.