The air has a particular scent there. The smell of pines and salt. The quiet is palpable, a refuge. There is a peace about the place, having to do with smallness, open space, little traffic. The beauty is breathtaking.
My husband and I, with a couple of other family members, spent the last few days at the central California coast. The town of Cambria is a charming little hamlet tucked away from the coast highway, hilly, thick with stillness and Monterey pines, and one of our favorite places.
We were staying a block from the beach, and could watch the waves crashing on the rocks as we looked out the front windows. The days were crystal clear, sunny and cool, with little wind. I think November isn’t like that in too many other places. We marveled at our good luck.
Each day we took a walk on a curving path that runs along the shore, looking out at the rugged coast, checking out the variety of birds perched on the craggy rocks below us. The pelicans were there in force, competing for space with seagulls and a giant snowy egret. We spotted three sea otters lazily floating in the surf. Ground squirrels scampered under the boardwalk part of the path, and our dog, Tigra
strained at the leash. She loved it as much as we did.
There were couples, grandparents and grandchildren, lots of small groups, chatting, out enjoying the spectacular views. Families were cheerful, saying “hello” as we passed, taking time to be together.
Several commented on how gorgeous it was. Shared beauty uplifted all of us.
Taking the time for these moments to appreciate the beauty around us is something we all need. As we return home and face the busy week ahead, our lives pick up the pace. It seems that the peace of our outdoor walks, though, reminds us that it’s okay to slow down often and just enjoy where we are, what we see and that we have the ability to be on two feet strolling along a path made for just that.
When we renew our spirit by spending time in nature, as so many families we met along the path were doing, we can face life’s challenges a lot better. It’s like refueling ourselves.
For those of us who are working, caring for aging loved ones, managing numerous responsibilities, we may feel we don’t have a minute to spare. We may feel that we don’t have the time to even go outside for a moment for a breath of fresh air. But we can spare that moment. It’s an investment in our good health and good caregiving of others. It’s a promise we can make to ourselves and keep.
Wherever we can find it, seeking beauty, especially in nature, is one of the simplest happiness boosters I know. For me, maybe it’s the ocean that soothes my soul. Maybe it’s the sound of the shore birds, the vista of the curving coast or the sweep of grassy hills nearby. I hope you can find a place for you, even if the quiet time is brief. Take a couple of moments for yourself, somewhere that you can find stillness. Focus on just the good things and let yourself notice them. Your struggles, no matter what, can be lightened with this technique. It can be a purposeful thing you do every day.
At AgingParents.com, we work at helping ourselves and others who are also caregivers figure out how to manage this period in our lives. Our parents are aging and time is marching on for us, too. Staying healthy ourselves is part of our message. Taking a moment for ourselves to “refuel” every day is a method. Looking at something you love to look at, indoors or out, is part of this method. I hope you’ll think about it, and try it. We don’t want the well of our ability to give to others to run dry. Take precautions during this holiday season when there are even more demands on our time.
So, my friends, I wish you good health. I invite you to share your ideas here of what you’re doing to stay healthy, too.