Get a Grip Let It Go

It’s only early November, I remind myself. Not winter, not February, not Iceland, I’m not homeless, the election will be over soon, and the only stuck thing about me is my mind. Get a grip.

Last week I went to Manzanita Beach with Gretchen and Bonnie Rae. This is not the sort of thing I do – renting a place with women pals. Is it just me that’s never done this? Have I missed some important developmental stage? It just never came up. Perhaps I’m not that kind of friend. Or woman. Or vacationer.

Unsure what to bring along, I Googled it. Don’t laugh. Well, go ahead and laugh, cause I did. The operant phrase is “Girls’ Getaway” or “Girls’ Trip” though the apostrophe on websites and t-shirts seems to wander or disappear altogether. I fully realize this observation may be why no one has ever invited me to one.

The suggestions of things to bring amused and puzzled me: facial masks, paper drink umbrellas, temporary tattoos, and cute pajamas. I was clearly searching in the wrong aisle, for a different demographic. But I couldn’t find a Grannies’ Getaway category.

To my relief, it turned out to be more of a Writers’ Retreat. Unsurprising, since I bonded with Gretchen and Bonnie Rae through our blogs, and Gretchen has just published a wonderful book. When we weren’t out walking and photographing the exquisite beach, we were reading and writing, or talking about reading and writing. Also life, and politics. The campaign vitriol has been appalling as you know, and the possible outcomes frightening. But being in a beautiful place, in a beautiful house, with like-minded friends on election eve and night was the perfect change of pace.

“I love to think we are learning a thing or two from one another. Although we come from different backgrounds, with very different life experience, we all come to the page to more fully discover who we are. Our love of story connects us and I have to say that I enjoyed our conversations and silences in equal measure.”

Bonnie Rae, on her post about this same getaway

The house was wonderful, but the coastline was the star of the production. The full moon set over the water just before sunrise, an atmospheric juggling display of light and color. Each sunset came with a chromatic palette that kept on giving. The storm that left snow on the coast range crossing blew by, and by the end of our trip, it was a clear and breezy 35 degrees. I felt a little silly layered in all my snow clothes, but I was toasty warm.

“Time marches on and the white-haired crones keep carrying the torch of love and wisdom.”

source unknown, via Gretchen

As I watched the glorious sunset on election night, a terrible metaphor came to me, the sun setting on American democracy. Alan texted me, asking if I was trying to be miserable. The next morning I sent him a photo of the exquisite combo moonset-sunrise, and he wisely observed, “Clearly a metaphor for the sustaining power of democracy.” Might as well go with that as anything.

But mostly what I thought about was all the change whirling around me. The clouds transforming and the colors mutating; the fluctuating spray and the force and shape of the waves; the sun and moon rising and setting, forever shifting in some subtle or dramatic way; the reflections on the water, always sliding into something else. Change was constant, and different for every person and from every viewpoint.

This ongoing revisioning and reinventing left me awestruck, and everything else paled under the vastness of all that heavenly drama. The constancy of change makes life beautiful and exciting – at least eventually, if not in the moments of transformation.

Evening, Nov. 8, the sunset, spanning 30 minutes.

I tend to forget this, and must remind myself over and over, especially in the heat of all that vitriol, in the moment of giving in to despair. Sometimes it’s the beach or the trees that reminds me to look outside myself. Sometimes it’s an election.

Maybe the country is shifting, slouching toward democracy. Maybe I can dislodge my own resistance to change, my bleak outlook, the way I get stuck in thought, mood, or actions. Pico Iyer says that moving obsessions into action changes despair to more positivity. So I’ll send letters to Georgia voters. So I’ll walk the beach and forests. So I’ll write, and read, and write some more, grateful to sometimes have like-minded company as I go, even without the cute pajamas.

Be the sunrise, I remind myself. Be the clouds, be the waves, join the dance.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

20 thoughts on “Get a Grip Let It Go

  1. Ah, beautiful and honest. And I guffawed. I don’t do “girls'” weekends, either (with or without the apostrophe), and I confess there were times I wished to be there alone—sometimes stepping out of the comfort zone is hard. But stretching is good, especially if you are crones. And the company of other aging wise ones is best! Thank you for the stretch! And your words. And your photography.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Change, comfort zones and the kinship of crones…You reminded me of what I have been missing and Zoom just doesn’t fill the gaps….Your beautiful photos and words did and you have prompted me to expand my world again into something less familiar….Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really lovely reminder to see and be the beauty we seek.
    I miss retreats with women friends, something I did annually with different groups of women friends many years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how your photographs and descriptions remind me of the north Oregon coast. The sky mirrored in that thin sheen of saltwater, the dance of the tides. Such a lovely description of the interplay of the internal and external worlds showing how interdependent they are. The word “interbeing” comes to mind from a teaching by TNH, which I saw recently. How all these circumstances wove together to ultimately support you through a time of despair and showed you the way back to hope again, if only for the moment. We’re all looking for “permanent” change in in a fluid situation 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful essay! Getting away last week was a stellar idea! The election didn’t turn out so badly after all. Rolling with the changes, that’s one strategy for living a fuller life. Fantastic photos too!

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Love seeing those kaleidoscope skies again! Can you imagine waking up to that every day? You got some beautiful shots. I started thinking about “girls weekends” and that got me to thinking about whether or not I have ever really fit in anywhere. I’d have to say no, but that never stops me from trying 😊 I really had a wonderful time. Thanks for the conversation and the food and the quiet comfort of friendship. 


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  7. Thanks for being here Bonnie Rae, and giving us the idea. A Misfits Getaway might be one I’d join in a heartbeat! 🙂 We hadn’t planned for so much beauty, but it just never stopped! So happy to know you.


  8. Nancy..simply stunning photos!! Enjoyed your get-away reflection too! As always you choose just the right combination of letters to form a missive of delight!! Thank again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love that you googled what to bring on a girls’ trip. 🙂 Reflection on the wandering/disappearing apostrophe is likely one of the reasons I’ve never participated in such an occasion either. 🙂

    Been away from my blog for some time bc of a situation, and yours is the first post I’ve read in some time. Reminded me to come back if I can. Love this medium and always enjoy your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. SST, Thank you so much. This all means a lot. Hope your situation is resolved or resolving (I note that you did not say I’ve been on a glorious vacation). I just went back to see your blog, and appreciated the reminder about those small things. I was feeling particularly overwhelmed in this moment by the big things, the ones that get stuck in your eye and you can’t stop – until you notice those little things of pure beauty or wonder. We need those reminders!


  11. Pingback: Wordless Wednesday – Writing Down the Story

  12. Pingback: 100 Things That Made My Year | Rivers and Roads PDX

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