Magic. Pure magic is what I felt on Sunday afternoon as I settled into my place on the sand. The breeze was cool but the sun warm as I stretched my legs out on the wind-rippled dunes. For once the grains of sand slipping over the hills and valleys of my body didn’t bother me.
I breathed sea air in deep and melted, every vibrating particle of my being supported there on my towel in the sand. Grounded.
It’s no secret to those around me that I struggle with resting. With sitting still. With ceasing the constant tornado of thoughts. I try the flick on Netflix and numb out way we’ve been defining as “rest” lately–and I can’t even sit through The Handmaiden’s Tale (sooo gooood!) or New Girl without getting up several times.
I often feel as though I am in a constant state of motion–checking off lists, stress-cleaning the kitchen or attacking the mystery piles underneath my always-made bed. Re-examining my goals. Reading up on self-improvement. Planning my next workout, my next vacation.
I strive for order. Cleanliness. A full schedule. An outward projection of perfection. Order.
But in reality? On the inside I am a mess. I am restless. Anxiety clouds my focus, disorderly finances haunt the far reaches of my brain, worries of career paths and relationships and what happens after tomorrow? tug at my joy. Instead I opt for just one more episode of Hulu, one more Insta-scroll, one more snack or drink or plan. I try to numb out, rather than simply rest in, the space I’m in.
Can you relate? (Can I getta aaaaaMEN!)
I know I needed to change my mindset when it came to rest. So this weekend, oh this weekend, for a few pure hours I brought my exhausted soul to the beach. I laid it down. I let it breathe. I let it rest.
There is something delicious and pure about the notion of rest. We don’t do it enough or do it well–and we know this.
I am discovering lately that rest is a forgotten muscle we rarely flex. We push it aside to sculpt our work project and happy hours and yet another volunteer job and dinner party and vacation.
What better way to strengthen a muscle than to start working it? So here I am, learning to train my dear muscle of rest.
I began at Grover Beach this weekend during our little getaway to The Man’s parents’ home. After hours of exploring we were exhausted. But instead of a nap, I opted for an hour to myself on the sand. It was just me and a beach chair, a book (currently reading Woman Code–it’s a life changer!) and a towel.
After the few obligatory pics for Insta, I tucked my phone away. I laid back and stretched my body, let it take up space, fingers and toes dipping into the sand. I took my hat off and even bathed my cheeks in the late afternoon glow. I channeled all of my resisting thoughts and fleeting focus to feel the grit of the sand, the sunscreen and salty air, relishing in the light sting of warm afternoon sunlight.
I prayed. I read. I laid there with my eyes closed or open, unfocused on the distance. I let myself feel every external sensation to quiet my mind. My internal dialogue turned on, but this time, I sensed a change in the conversation.
This weekend I observed a reintroduction of myself to…well, myself. Pleasantries were exchanged, tentative and demure, and then suddenly familiar all at once.
For the first time in a long time, I saw the other fragment of Avery I left buried in San Diego in pursuit of hustling city life. There she was again: barefoot and sun-bleached blonde, skin sandy and salty and tan. She held notebooks and real books so well-worn, pages threatened to rip from the spine.
She stood tall, confident, relishing in her time with simply herself. She didn’t think twice about a windows-down drive down Highway 101 or a dive under a cold wave, solo hike or dinner and a movie with a table for one.
For me, redefining rest meant returning to the space that best refreshes me and my body: taking solace in quieter and beautiful surroundings, solo. It means fleeing from overbooked schedules and yes-es to every invitation. It means turning off my phone and computer and TV show. It means setting up G-cal dates with myself to perch in my bay window with a good book and tea, or bop along to music while whipping up a new recipe in the kitchen.
I haven’t gifted myself that luxury lately. I sought constant interaction with others (as good as that may be!) and consumption of Netflix shows and noise to delay the things I needed to take care of (including my writing and budgeting)– and now I see I lost my own best friend, me, along the way.
When I rest, I see the God-threads of the universe again. My soul finds stillness. My mind slows down. When I am well-rested, I can step confidently into whatever present is in front of me.
I can show up.
Redefining rest may look different for you: it may be small groups or one-on-one time, loud gatherings and rooms full of faces, in savasana on a yoga mat, meditating on a floor pillow or on the bus. We must remember we are unique, and to listen to what our souls crave. What drains and recharges our batteries may vastly differ.
The important part here is that we seek out our individual ways, our individual definitions of rest, then live them out. For me it was the beach. An hour alone to simply be.
How will you find rest today?
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