It’s important to feel safe – to have a haven in life.
My physical haven is our cabin in Maine. My grandfather built it of lumber from the family farm’s barn long before my birth. I grew up spending summers running along the shore of the lake, through the woods and along the dirt road, catching snakes and frogs and picking raspberries and flowers.
My Grampie told me the frogs were calling “Sara, Sara” each evening, and I’d listen for them together with the sounds of the water lapping the shore and the loons calling across the lake to one another. Warm, soft earth, cool water, clean air. A free child. Safe.
We come back to camp each summer for as long as is manageable, and my young daughters literally walk in my footsteps – running the paths I did as a child, looking up at the same stars and eating s’mores by the bonfire, and reading by the warmth of the old wood stove on cooler nights and rainy days. I get to share my favorite place, safety, and freedom with my girls and see clarity reflected back in their peaceful, dancing eyes. I breathe.
Each summer represents a return to self; the space for reflection gives me life benchmarks. Some years the picture has been sobering – the distance between my free, childlike self and “real life” self has been too great. Those years I return from vacation in Maine a little more healed and open, but determined to find a connection to nature and internal haven to hold me until the following summer’s visit.
This year has been simpler and more joyful than some others. It always takes a few days to allow “real life” to melt away and allow my haven to work its magic on me. The wrinkles between my brows are now smooth; tensions have washed off with each lake swim. I joke and laugh with my Mom and daughters with ease. It’s more than vacation – we’re living in our place of safety and restoration.
It’s not without sadness, nor an escape from the realities of the world. I feel the struggles of family and loved ones here, and see the results of survival and hope in my sweet little hometown after another harsh winter (and there’s always another winter just around the corner of impending fall). I receive glimpses of world news, work and people I love from my real life, and I know I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeves upon my return. However, my view of all these is wrapped in love, from my place of safety and well-being. Just like it probably always should be…
I already can’t wait for next summer. I can’t wait to show my next year’s self how much closer to free I’ll be upon arrival. The new home I’m returning to is a haven in its own right, and I’m fortunate to have nothing but ever-growing love for my work family. My girls are excited to start their school year, and I have new ideas for ways we will connect with Southern California’s bountiful nature.
I’m going to look into people’s eyes more, this year. I’m going to swim in the ocean and worry less. I’m going to remember who I’m supposed to be, wise child that I was, and live accordingly and with great love. I’m going to advocate, unwavering, for good and noble causes, as did my young self.
A haven is a good place to gain strength, then go out and fill the world with greater love and integrity.
I’m going to be so proud of me next year.