Practicing Mindfulness on Vacation

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I'm writing this post while on vacation up at our family cabin.  A little place and beautiful spot that's been in our family for over 60 years.  My husband and I share ownership with my sister and brother-in-law.  Our parents had it built in the 1950s and we've spent entire summers here as kids, and had our summer jobs near to here.  It was a place I learned to love nature, water, boating, trees, reading and developed a love for solitude.

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At some point, our parents age and health circumstances would no longer allow them to spend their summers here.  Fortunately our spouses love it here, as do my sister's children and their children, so it continues to be used and loved by the family. 

There are many fun memories of our parents packing a lunch and taking us on day long boat trips through the U.S. and Canadian islands.  We'd take in the continual view of rocky islands with pine trees and beautiful river cottages and boathouses.  Dad would get his charts out and take us out in his cherry and mahogany 1928 Hutchinson boat named "Poisson".  We all mispronounced it "Poizzon" and it wasn't until high school french class that I realized I was mispronouncing it.  I chose to continue to mispronounce it because it added to the fun experience of that boat.

When I moved to New York City to begin working I would still come up here for three day weekends.  NYC was hot and stinky in the summer and the water surrounding Manhattan offered a view of buildings.  Not my thing.  I tried a half share at a beach in New Jersey but it couldn't compare to "The River".  To get back up here I'd take a taxi to Port Authority.  Bus to the Newark New Jersey airport.  Plane to Syracuse.  Then a car rental for another hour and a half drive.  I did this every other weekend for years.  Even when I moved to Northern Virginia I'd either fly or drive up every other weekend.

But everything changes.  My sister and brother-in-law sold the Hutchinson.  A few years later I sold our other family boat.  I had decided to make more of a life for myself in the summer nearer to where I lived.  The 1000 Islands are a long way away, plus sharing with my sibling and her husband and back then I struggled with speaking up for myself.  

I decided it would be easier, more affordable, and more practical if I would learn to sail on the Chesapeake Bay which was only an hour away rather than the 7 hours to our cabin in NY state.   And that's when I met my husband, while sailing. When we were dating I brought him up here and now he too loves the 1000 Islands and our 60+ year old place which is now slightly (ok very) crooked, with somewhat unsafe decks and ramps. 

Our old place needs a lot of work and we're all wondering how we can make it spiffy again.  Restoring it to it's original splendor is a desire we all have.  My husband and brother-in-law are more than handy but they're supposed to be relaxing up here not doing back-breaking construction projects.  Maybe a miracle will happen and it will all work out.

In the meantime, when I take the rickety crooked ramp up to our room in the little tree house cabin I repeat "I am safe, protected, and secure" over and over again until I'm safely off the ramp onto our deck and into our room. 

The mindfulness part?  About 15 years ago or so real estate lot next to us was sold and two families built their homes away from home including a boathouse and one U-shaped dock on steroids, plus another dock.  There went the pristine cove, shoreline, and privacy.

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Everything is just a little too close to the little shoal we named Happiness Island.  I know I don't own the water, the cove, or our special little shoal.  I also know I'm really fortunate to have this place so I shouldn't be complaining that we have neighbors and such nice ones at that.  Sure Happiness Island is special to us with tons of memories.  We'd swim to it and our golden retriever would swim out to stand on it and look down at the water, and paw it as he watched the perch swim around.  The only thing you'd see all around was trees and shoreline.  Because Happiness Island and our cove is now full of structures, to me the private and special vibe of the tiny cove is forever changed.  Well short of winning the big lottery, buying everyone out and removing cabins, boathouse, and docks.

But I don't have to let the vibe change.  I have a choice.  I feel grateful for our place, appreciate what it offers even with the additional people, loss of privacy, and noise.  I still feel uplifted and connected to the outdoors and nature that I so love. 

I know it's impossible to feel joy and gratefulness while feeling resentment.  It's impossible to enjoy my time up here when I'm irked.  It's impossible to have a beautiful moment continue when in the very next moment I'm feeling annoyed.

Today I'm practicing.  This is the moment I'm choosing to let something go that which I have no control over and only mars my experience IF I LET IT.  I know I can't be joyful and ticked off at the same time.  I practice reminding myself how fortunate we all are to be in this beautiful setting.  I'm sure our neighbors feel the same way and have their own special feelings, more recent memories, and reasons for why they love it here. 

Are you ever challenged to let something go?  Even when you know there's nothing you can do about it and that it's in your best interest and perhaps someone else's best interest for you to just . let . it . go.

Today when I look at all the stuff in the cove and feel irked I choose to breathe and remember how fortunate I am until I'm no longer irked.  And I'll keep practicing this.  I instead focus on the breeze, the sound of the bird calls, watching the pine trees move with the wind, gaze at the occasional ship going by.  If I see one of our neighbors I will choose to wave and then park myself and just take in the beauty and feel grateful because I'm really fortunate.