This weekend, my roommate and I headed to Santa Cruz to soak up the ocean air and put our toes in the sand. The beach was my favorite place to think about the things that I’m grateful for in my life. When we arrived, we went straight down to the beach and bypassed all the activities on the Boardwalk. We kicked off our shoes, plopped down in the sand, and stared out over the small waves that broke a few feet away. The day was overcast and the breeze was brisk, but it was perfect. I didn’t realize how much I missed living close to the ocean until that moment.
We sat in comfortable silence, enjoying the moment together as friends, and watched the sea life play in the ocean. About fifty feet from the breaking waves, seals and sea lions dove for fish, dolphins jumped out of the water, and seagulls dive bombed anything swimming beneath the surface. See why I write about the Peninsula? It was the ideal atmosphere to reflect on the mistakes I’ve made, what I’ve accomplished over the last few years, and the plans for the future.
One thing I realized was that I feel the most at peace when I’m by the water. The ocean was once my favorite, but there was a time when the forests and rivers were my sanctuary. It was a time long before I lived on the Monterey Peninsula, but it had such a strong impact on my life that it will always be a part of me. Thankfully, I’ve moved to a place similar to my upbringing, where several rivers meet, and I enjoy them every weekend.
The rivers became a huge part of my life because I grew up visiting my father in southern Oregon. He worked for the US Forest Service, reforesting the Siskiyou National Forest. I was one of those weird children that had posters of Woodsy Owl and Smokey the Bear all over my room. When I visited, we’d spend weekends camping, hiking, swimming and rafting. He always knew the best spots. My love for anything concerning water and nature came from the experiences my dad gave me.
It always amazes me how nature can bring peace to your soul. I know I’m sounding all hippie-esque right now, but it’s true. I just wish I had realized it earlier. Somewhere along the way, I became an outdoor girl trapped in an indoor girl’s life. I became more interested in going to Disneyland, taking a cruise, or spending a weekend at a spa than taking a walk or riding a bike. I still enjoy the trips, and hope I’ll have the opportunity to do them again, but when you’re starting your life over, those things definitely aren’t within the budget. And that’s okay. What I realized sitting on that beach in Santa Cruz was that I’ve found a peace that doesn’t require fancy things and luxurious trips. It never was what made me happy. It was only a distraction and something to look forward to when life wasn’t so great. What I find value in now is completely different because I’m happy with my life, satisfied with the things I have, and grateful for the people in my life. Everything that comes along now is just extra icing on the cupcake.
Until next time…