From the time they are born, we can’t wait for them to grow.
“Say mama” we mouth into their chubby little faces.
“Come on, walk!” we prod, pulling them up by their pudgy little hands.
“Oh, grow up!” We chide when chubby charm gives way to adolescent attitude. We hurry the years along, then, rushing past the little moments, only occasionally stopping to look and wonder at how fast they’re going by. Sure, we notice and sometimes comment. Occasionally we admire them and remember how it used to be, but we’re busy and the dishes and laundry are piling up. There’s no time to sit and chat.
Then, one day, they take our advice. They grow up.
Then, we wish…
wish we had listened more than we talked
wish we had observed more than we critiqued
wish we had sat more than we ran…
with our feet up and our hearts open, enjoying our time together.
Because time was all we had.
If only we had known then, what we know now.
If you’re a writer you may be familiar with that feeling you get in the pit of our stomach as the blinking cursor arrow hovers momentarily over the “submit” button just before you send off a manuscript or query. It’s called fear of rejection. Even emailing a draft of something we’ve written to a friend is like sending a piece of ourselves into the world to be judged, we may as well be offering our head to the guillotine!
Our “selves” may take many forms. Whether we’re writers or professionals, parents or students, we’re all striving for success–and how do we define success? By the extent to which others accept our performance or appearance–or both. It’s easy to become consumed with our efforts to achieve success–and acceptance–but, how many of us are chasing after something that’s already ours?
How different would our striving be if we recognized that regardless of what’s out there, what’s in here is already great. “But, where’s ‘here’?” You may ask? Look around. The answer might be right under your nose! Thanks, Tanzy!
I was just few months into my fitness journey. You know, the honeymoon phase. The phase when you feel like you can conquer the world. The phase when you consider taking up a modeling career after you lose all the weight and become irresistibly sexy. That phase where you can look all your food vices straight in the eye with the confidence of a Spartan army, knowing you are stronger than your cravings!I was “feeling myself,” as they say and I was pattingmyself on the back for a job well done. I was in the gym daily for 3 months straight. I was drinking 80 oz of water regularly and I had even gone down 2 dress sizes!I was on cloud nine! Shopping had become my new favorite activity–I loathed it before my transformation.
Looking through some pics I decided to assemble a before and after picture so that I could bask in my amazing transformation. At this time I was homeschooling my kids and spent endless hours surrounded by little humans under the age of 5, but I was desperate to share this visual display of my success with someone who could celebrate with me. No grown ups to be found, I turned to the next oldest in the room–my 5 year-old-daughter. I pulled up the picture collage on the computer and, beaming with pride, plopped it in front of my kid asking a very baited question: “What do you think of mommy’s picture? Do you notice anything different?”
Her little face beamed at the challenge. She leaned in toward the picture and studied it like a “Where’s Waldo game.” After some time she was finally ready to give her answer:
“In this picture you have a red shirt. In that picture you have a blue shirt. In this picture you have ponytail. In that picture you have straight hair. In this picture you’re smiling and in that picture you’re not. In this picture you have grey shoes and in that picture you have black!”
“Wait what?! That’s it?! You don’t see my slimming waist line, my sleeker arms, my shrunken belly or my thinner thighs?” I thought.
Next enters my 1-year-old staggering towards us, dying to see what we arestudying. He let’s out one word as he looked at the screen. “MAMA!”
The reality is that the people that love us most never see our flaws. My kids never knew I was overweight. They never saw my stretch marks, or my cellulite. They never saw me as a number on a scale. They only saw me as their nurturer, their caregiver, their protector and their friend. No matter what pic I showed them, they only saw one person, “MAMA.”
We kicked off our summer vacation with our very first visit to the New England coast and the lovely island of Martha’s Vineyard. We managed to time our visit just before the summer season officially begins, around mid June. Although the tourist scene begins to awaken from its winter slumber during the week following the Memorial weekend holiday, we were greeted with curiosity by local shop owners and restauranteurs who wondered why we were here so early. “Yeah, we just opened,” they kept telling us, apologizing for not quite being fully operational.
But, limited store hours and minimal island offerings notwithstanding, we eeked out a Vineyard vacation just the same! Even the weather was working against us. The forecast had promised sun and 60s, which we got a peek of here and there, but the clouds and rain persisted as did the cool–okay, cold. Nonetheless, we would not be deterred! This place is lovely, rain or shine! The cottage-style homes, the quaint bed & breakfasts, the cozy holes just welcome you.
Our accomodations were perfect, on location in Edgartown, near little shops and boutiques and facing the ocean (although next time I’ll get a room one floor up so I don’t have to stand on my tiptoes to see the “oceanview” we were promised!). We also found some GREAT eating places–Sharky’s for fattening Tex-Mex, Biscuits for yummy breakfast (two words: French toast, I’m through!) and the Copper Wok for the best sesame tofu and fried rice you’ve ever tasted, bar none!
But, I must say, my favorite thing was the lighthouses! I think they are so beautiful and inspiring. Each one has a history and a story. The lighthouses also gave us a perfect reason to tour the island. Since the weather didn’t permit bike riding or beach time, we instead crisscrossed several towns–Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, Acquinna and Vinyard Haven in search of the historic lighthouse sites and stumbled upon a few other interesting places along the way (which I will talk about in future blogs).
The Martha’s Vineyard online magazine calls the lighthouses “working monuments” of history, an appropriate moniker, I think, considering their sole purpose is to provide a beacon for travelers who either lose their way or are unaware of lurking dangers. Such was the case with The Gayhead lighthouse erected in November 1799. So many lives were lost because of an “underwater ledge running from cliffs westward” that mariners referred to it as the “Devil’s Bridge,” but Gayhead’s bright beams outshined that menace and has spared many over the years.
Meanwhile, the East Chop lighthouse was the lighthouse the government didn’t want! They thought the West Chop lighthouse was enough! But, the relentless Captain Dagget raised the funds himself to build it in 1869. Through valiant effort he proved it’s worth and it’s still praiseworthy today!
We only made it to 3 of the 5 lighthouses this trip, but the Edgartown lighthouse was just walking distance from our hotel, so on May 31st we trudged through the rain and settled for this shot of the stately edifice in the hazy distance:
Then we awoke on June 1st to a bright sun beaming through our windows! What is it about the month of June in Martha’s Vineyard? So, of course, we trekked back and got a better and brighter pic, woohoo!
What a difference a day makes!
According to island lore, this lighthouse was built on a manmade island in 1828 and the path that leads to it was dubbed “The Bridge of Sighs as couples drew out their goodbyes on the walk to the lighthouse before being separated for weeks, months, or forever by whaling voyages.” Such a sad story to be associated with such a pretty place! And it is an absolutely gorgeous spot, surrounded by sand with a port and sailing boats on one side and a beach and the open ocean on the other.
Despite the beauty of the place the lighthouses are reminders that life is fragile and fleeting. They stand as beacons that beckon weary travelers to safety. For those, like us, who arrive they are symbolic of a safe haven while also a memorial for those who never return.
During our visit to Martha’s these bright structures beckoned us. They invited us to stay awhile, to listen to their stories and understand their purpose–how they came to be and what they’ve come to mean to the people who have relied on them for their very lives.
While here we have also made memories and established our own history! On the last day, as we zipped into town to catch our ferry, we managed to squeeze in a quick bike ride! In our final moments on the island, we pedaled along the quiet north side, behind tree-lined neighborhoods, past well-kept lawns admiring, again, the beauty…
By the time we pushed off from the dock and watched the coastline fade into the distance, we were nostalgic, but also determined that we must return, because there is still more to see and do. After all, our stories and discoveries have really only begun!