In my little corner of the world, water surrounds us. I grew up along the sugar white beaches of Florida’s stunning Emerald Coast. Growing up here, all of the youngsters thought it was mandatory to engage in outdoor activities near water. We spent every summer going to the beach, fishing, crabbing, and jet skiing. In the evenings, we often ate shrimp al fresco at a waterfront restaurant, watching boats sail by, basking leisurely in the golden glow of the evening sunset.
For the years that Pete and I lived in the sweltering Texas summer heat, I craved being near water. There were several lakes in the area and we ventured out to explore their surrounding areas. However, it wasn’t until we bought our kayaks that I truly felt like Texas showed some semblance of home.
We paddled our kayaks around the lakes and rivers of central Texas as often as we could. Every weekend in the spring, Pete and I could be seen towing our kayaks down dusty trails lined by bluebonnets and primroses. Occasionally, we stumbled upon various forms of wildlife – jackrabbits, deer and sometimes, snakes! The days we spent paddling around and listening to nature were some of my favorite days in Texas.
As the parenthood chapter of our book began, our days spent paddling became days spent parenting. The kayaks were shelved for the time being, as Pete and I tried to figure out how to navigate diapers, feedings, and sleep training. We moved to Florida and the kayaks remained on the shelf, this time because we were starting our pressure washing business and had NO TIME for anything other than building the business.
At times, I thought we may never get back into the kayaking groove. Then, last Thursday, Pete looked at me and said, “Let’s go kayaking tomorrow! I didn’t schedule a job and I actually want to take the day off and do something fun!” It was music to my ears.
I dropped Z off at preschool the next morning. Upon my return, I discovered Pete had hitched up the kayaks and was waiting for me. We departed in his truck and drove less than a mile from the house to a kayak-friendly park.
We launched our kayaks and began to propel ourselves through the glassy bay water. Do you ever have moments where you physically FEEL the stress of life melt off of you? All of a sudden, breathing became easier, my heart rate calmed, and I felt light from head to toe. The sun shone and a cool breeze tickled my shoulders. Solitude.
I meditated on my solitude for awhile. It is so easy to get bogged down by the mundane routine of everyday life that we often forget to stop and look around us. We are always surrounded by beauty. We are always surrounded by life!
As mentioned before, I battle depression. One of the thoughts I had while meditating was how apathetic I once felt, particularly in the early days of Z’s life. I stayed at home with infant Z while Pete worked. We woke up, fed, napped, played, fed, napped, played, fed, napped, played, slept. Everyday. I felt like I was stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. I was living the same day over and over again. How easy it was for me to slip into feelings of nothingness, emptiness, darkness.
Now when I think back to those dark days, I am grateful. I am grateful for my sweet baby Z and for my unfailingly supportive husband. I am grateful for my parents, sisters, and friends, who all supported me perfectly in their differing ways. I am SO grateful for those dark days because as I often like to say, it’s always darkest before the dawn.
A new life has dawned for me. I now strive to find beauty and solitude everyday. It doesn’t come easily and of course, there are days that are darker than others. However, on those light days of glassy water, cool breezes, and sun-soaked childhood memories, I don’t just live, I flourish.