Beach Bathing

I read this post on Facebook the other day:
Forest bathing
“The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku may literally mean “forest bathing,” but it doesn’t involve soaking in a tub among the trees. Rather it refers to spending time in the woods for its therapeutic (or bathing) effect. Most of us have felt tension slip away in the midst of trees and nature’s beauty. But science now confirms its healing influence on the body. When you spend a few hours on a woodland hike or camping by a lake you breathe in phytoncides, active substances released by plants to protect them against insects and from rotting, which appear to lower blood pressure and stress and boost your immune system.” ~Mother Nature Network

I do love the woods in northern Michigan. Yet the sound of the breeze blowing through palm trees is a sound that I have loved forever. Could it be that there is something very healing about walking barefoot in the sand, feeling the salt air against my skin, feeling the warmth of the sun against my skin, listening to the surf as the waves barrel into the shore? “Beach bathing” is soothing to my soul.

Since my move home from Kauai to Michigan in 2002, I have spent spring breaks visiting my parents at the condo they rented for two months every winter in Florida. My parents and I have always been good “beach buddies.” We all enjoyed morning walks along the seashore, watching dolphin and observing various sea birds. One beach we frequented had gopher turtles in the dunes. One had manatee swimming in a river near by.

The last trip I took to Florida was with Raymond in the spring of 2011. We drove his camper down to visit my parents who were in Bonita Springs. Our plan was to stay one week with my folks (I remember Raymond being a little hesitant about that length of time) and then continue on to the Keys.

When we got to Bonita Beach, Ray and my Dad hit it off so well, we stayed two weeks with them! My dad loved Raymond. Raymond loved my dad. They spoke for hours about each other’s families, their military experience, their mutual employment at Ford Motor Company and of course, ethnicity (Raymond’s favorite subject).

Dad had told me that one of the things he loved about Raymond is that he truly was interested in my Dad’s life, his history, and his experiences. Although Raymond was a talker, he was also a good listener.

Both Raymond and my Dad are gone now. I’ve spent over two years caregiving and helping both of them make their transition home. When I wasn’t caregiving, I was grieving. Most of my free time in the past two years consisted of being paralyzed, unable to get off the couch, unable to eat, clean my house or take care of myself.

I decided, late last summer, that I needed to winter in Florida this year! Due to my frequent anxiety attacks, my brother made the 17-hour drive with my cat and me. After a rocky start (the place I had rented, was unacceptable), Bruce and I found a clean, beautiful 2-bedroom condo on Manasota Key. The key is a narrow strip of land that lies between Lemon Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

Bruce flew back home on Jan. 6th. It was a chilly January here, and I had about 5 good beach days. The rest of my time was spent lying out on the lanai getting sun. Although temps were in the 60’s, the sun was shining and it felt like the 70’s to me. Being on the second (top floor) of the condo, my sight line is level with the tops of the palm trees. I spent days on the chaise lounge chair, looking at the breeze rustling the tops of the palm trees.

Slowly, ever so slowly….. Something amazing happened to me! I started to notice that I was happy again. My time in the sun has helped me find my smile again. What a revelation! In my first month here, I remembered that the tropics are good for my spirit. Maybe enough time has gone by, and my grief is lessening. The cloud of sadness that I have been sitting with for two years is lifting. I did feel lonely a couple days in January, but mostly I was happy.

My mom, with a bit of hesitation about leaving home only 8 months after my dad’s death, decided to come stay with me for 2 months. She arrived on Jan 28th. We are both glad that we are in a “new area” of Florida. We aren’t seeing ghosts around every corner. The memories we are sharing together are happy ones. It is sad to be here without my Dad and without Raymond, but I believe they would both be thrilled that we are here together; beach buddies for life, my mommy dear and I.

The death of the two most influential men in my life and the grief surrounding those events literally grounded me. I realize that I needed that time on the couch. I also realize that my time on the couch is over.

At this point, I am filled with hope. Hope that when I return to Michigan, I will bring my smile back home with me. Hope that I will stay off the couch and start to participate in my life again. Hope that I do indeed, have a life and I intend on living it with gratitude, trust, and faith. The cloud has lifted. Life is a series of peaks and valleys. It is what it is. I’m climbing up a peak, “beach bathing” at sea level, healing my spirit. Life is good.

About 1lisaa

I've been on a spiritual quest my whole adult life. As a 59 year old retired school teacher and a long time observer of people, life, nature and miracles, I have decided to start a blog. As I began my blog I was a caregiver for my soul mate Raymond who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2011 and it has been quite a journey. Now, I continue this blog with memoirs, insights, and stories about this journey, called life. In this blog, I hope to find clarity and share spiritual lessons along the way. All comments and insights would be appreciated.
This entry was posted in acceptance, caregiver of cancer, growth, healing, memoir. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beach Bathing

  1. larry aliotta says:

    Barb and I are now down here in Florida. I feel the same as you regaurding the sun and surf. I am not one to write much because I don’t type very good. Hope all is well and take care. If you’re this way, stop by. John and Dian are here till April. Take care and keep writing your great blogs. Larry

    • 1lisaa says:

      Hi Larry! So go to hear from you. How long are you guys going to be there? Maybe in April I can make it up your way for a day visit! It would be great to see you. xo

  2. Paul Cleary says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I do so like reading your blogs, even through hard times you are inspirational, I’m glad you feel you have turned that “corner” and you know there is a life out there for you, while some of us continue to hit brick walls your inspiration gives us just cause to carry on and find the peace of mind we crave for.
    Take care,
    Paul x

  3. Laurie Anderson says:

    Beautiful blog, dear Lisa. So happy to hear that you are feeling like your old self again. So glad that you were Abe to escape from this bitter cold, crazy snowy Michigan winter! You would have surely been miserable if you were stuck inside all winter back here. Very happy you are enjoying your beautiful place there and can’t wait to visit you and mom next month!!!! I know that dear dad and Raymond are surely smiling down on you and mom, happy that you are both enjoying such wonderful times together,just as you did with them. This is definitely what you need to do every winter — relax in the sunshine and warm your soul.. love you to pieces !!

  4. judy gardner says:

    YES YES YES I LOVE WHAT YOU WROTE I LOVE READING YOUR WRITING. and YES nature heals , you have known that probablay youre whole life this is why i cry when i see nature under assault. nature is our mother and our father. god bless you lisa. you fill my heart with joy as i read your letter, i feel the sun shining on you , i see the blue sky. and yes that time on the couch had to be. bless your mama for being there with you. i wish i could be there with you too to experience my beloved florida with you.. that time will come. enjoy the joy. relax and think of me and smile. all is well

  5. Rod & Barb says:

    Lisa, I am glad to hear your cloud has lifted and your ready to start living again. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you and your Mom. Glad your both spending time down there together. Be glad your there– we had about 2 inches more snow last night. I heard we could get 2-5 more inches Monday night. I sure hope there wrong. Uncle Rod had the cataract removed off his left eye last Thursday and he is seeing much better with that eye already. I just wish they could bring back his vision to his right eye that he lost last spring, but the Dr, said the central vision in that eye won’t come back. Say Hi! to your Mom for us. Love, Aunt Barb

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