My Writing Reboot while living the high life in VA Beach

“If anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others….”  ~Glennon Melton.

Sure…taking a few days to go the beach and get away by myself looks like a vacation. I get that. And it was…as a small business owner, I never really am “off.” I have a great staff who I know took care of everything this week and I’m grateful for that, but the emails keep coming in and there’s always next week on my mind.   But I could slowly and scarily see my writing slipping away, like that kid’s beach ball that he let go of in the ocean. The only way I could grab it before it was out to sea was to get out of my house-office-town-work and go throw it a rope.  So I did.  And here’s what happened on said vacation-writing rescue.  (P.S This continues to build on my case that Everything is different on the Inside than it Appears on the Outside.)

*I had an oceanfront room.  How glamorous!

This is the FIRST time in 45 years that I have had a balcony, room or anything on the ocean. The room was small, the door stuck so badly I had to throw myself on it several times to get it opened while the maintenance staff looked on and I wouldn’t be able to do yoga in the bathroom, it was so tiny. But it was the best I could afford–even in the off-season, and even though it was a bit high. (I am frugal about things like this, especially when it’s just me.) Oh, and also, I came here to write and pray and reboot (which usually requires quiet or the sound that only ocean waves can produce) and they are building brand new condos right next to my oceanfront hotel, which involves large cranes and massive amounts of steel being slammed into the cemented earth beginning at 7:30 am on Saturday and 8:30 on the weekdays (figure this one out and clue me in, please.)

*I spent three nights and two full days at the beach.

I got in late Wednesday because I had a stomach bug for two days and wasn’t sure I could even drive. I am terrified of all bridges and tunnels and needed to overcome both to get to my destination. There’s no way around this, I checked.  I did it by chanting “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” approximately 38 times and I will repeat this on the way home today. Thursday was freezing and rainy so I walked a lot, because I could. This is a wonderful thing since it was the first time following a nasty spill down the stairs over a month ago, that I could PUT ON A SNEAKER AND GO FOR A WALK. I am also new to the news that I have an arthritic degenerative hip and back arthritis. It’s genetic, and it sucks. My dad can’t stand up straight and has shrunk from 5’ 10” to 5’ 3”. I must have clocked 15 blocks or so. I was rickety and sore by the end, but it was awesome.  It isn’t Body Combat class, but I’ll take it.

*I enjoyed delicious fare at the casual restaurant on site.

Well, actually, I enjoyed takeout…because I ordered CHILI-CHEESE FRIES! WTH? Are you kidding me? I struggle with my weight and stress, and have for 35 of my 45 years, blah, blah, blah, and I am always careful about what I eat even though it doesn’t look like it on the outside. (More evidence.) I eat mostly organic, have a serious green protein shake every morning and won’t touch farm-raised fish, dyes, preservatives or nitrates. I drink a TON of lemon water and fancy tea and gross things like Kombucha and apple cider vinegar. If I eat fries I keep it to 6. I would never EVER in a million years order and eat chili-cheese fries in front of anyone—including my family. Any of them. But I was anonymous here and on “vacation.” Which is, perhaps, what fueled the stolen ketchup that wasn’t even Heinz. The bartender gave me a few crappy packets for ALL THOSE FRIES along with the stink eye that said that should be plenty. This was the third night in a row that I ate dinner there and, well, I deserved the bottle, not crappy packets. This is not my MO and not a proud moment for me. I don’t steal things. My dad, however, once took a mounted ashtray off a hotel hallway wall and drilled it into a tree at our summer cottage (doesn’t that sound fancy?  Yes indeed, so fancy it didn’t have a bathroom, but it did have an OUTHOUSE that he painted red and white and named the Peppermint Lounge.)  I tried vehemently to thwart the stealing of the ashtray. He retorted with, “Hotels like you to take things; it’s good advertising for them.” Um, that means the little pad of paper and the pen and MAYBE the soaps, I thought. Who knows, maybe the ketchup stealing is genetic, too.
Sidebar: the other nights I made much better food choices—not that you’re going to believe me now that I’m an admitted thief.

*I sat on the sand twenty feet from the ocean and saw dolphins.

I love sand, even when it gets everywhere.  And I love schools of dolphins–they will get their own post soon.  Did I mention that it’s spring break here and I’m not the only one who thought a trip VA beach was a good idea this week? Yesterday, in early April, it was 86 degrees and everyone on the entire east coast brought their kids to the same spot where I chose to sit an hour or two BEFORE them. The water must be about 60 degrees, so you know what this means: children + cold waves + excitement = LOTS of shrill, high-pitched screaming. Oh and LOTS of footballs and baseballs whizzing within inches of my face. Also, I sent all the good sunscreen to Florida with Husband and Daughter and I refuse on principle to buy that crappy, chemically stuff just across the street because it will poison my skin. Plus I need the sun’s vitamin D to elevate my mood and fight off disease. So, now, I am splotchy crimson red and I smell a little burnt.

*I am a writer.

You can say you are anything you want, but until you do it, it’s a suspect assumption. Writing was my major in college and my most joyful thing to do. It’s why I launched this blog and what I THINK about doing at least ten times a day:  writing lots of witty things and coming up with the premise for a book and being asked to speak publicly to sold-out rooms (way more terrifying than tunnels and bridges.) But I keep getting stuck, looking for a perfect direction or focus from which all witty things shall flow. And, to be fair, other things get in the way, like life and keeping a small business going and paying the electric bill, let alone the mortgage. But it chips away at me, daily. And so I made (forced) myself to sit down and write shitty first drafts these few days. Lots of them. One of my favorite authors Anne Lamott (St. Anne) said this to me and 352,642 other people a few days ago as one of the 14 things she knows for sure: “6. Write shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born.”

I bought a book 6 months ago by my other favorite writer, blogger, and superhero, Glennon Melton of Momastery. I have moved it to different places throughout the house, taken it on several trips, but I have never opened it. Until today. At 8:14 am, on the beach, in front of God and the dolphins and the metal-detector guy, I was so scared to read her words because I knew they would be so much better than mine. I was right, pf course. I want to write like that. I want to move people to tears and laughing snorts and exhales. But if I never write anything how will I ever know if I can?
And then there it was, on page 25 (paraphrased),  Glennon said:  “If anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others….Writing is not about creating tidy stories or choosing the “right” words. It’s about noticing who you are and sharing what you notice. When you write your truth it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone.”

I cried, of course and I wrote to myself on page 25 of that book:
Dear Juli,  Don’t worry if anyone ever reads it or what they think if they do, and don’t worry if it even makes sense. Don’t wait until it’s perfect.  It won’t be. Do it because you need to…it’s why you’re here.

Sincerely,

Juli

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