I recently finished a book called "Begin Again"by Leeana Tankersley. I always love when I get my hands on her newest book. I come away with lots of little treasures and gems that I tuck gently into my heart. I like her books because they invite you to actually experience what you’re reading. They call you to expand, to get out and tangibly perceive the themes and messages of the book. Her most recent book is all about how to begin again in all the mess and upheaval and uncertainty that is our life at times. She quotes Saint Benedict, “Always we begin again” as a guide to light our way.
As a 5 on the enneagram I would be 110% happy to just read all the books and once finished, obsessively browse my Amazon wish list for my next book to read. I learn so much from reading but at some point I have to move away from the words and pages.Honestly I really wish digesting and understanding and reading books would be enough to live life fully, but in order to really experience your life you have to go and engage it.
In chapter 20 Leeana writes about rituals of rest. She writes about recovery and restoration and what it means to pursue these things as a practice.
So Leeana told me (in her book she told me but I pretend authors give me invitations face to face, I love a good assigment) to think of something that will help me return to myself. I thought about this for a minute. What did it look like to come home to oneself? I hoped it meant me reading and journaling alone with a candle lit.
But I figured I should maybe do something besides reading.
After I thought about it I decided on a couple things that help me feel grounded, connected and centered: the beach, my dog and movement. Then it hit me! Yoga on dog beach! YES! Genius. Leonard wouldn’t have to be leashed and would be free to roam. I could already see myself doing my sun salutations with grace and tranquility. I saw Leonard laying on his towel next to me soaking up the sunny rays. I felt the fresh salty air fill my lungs. I saw Dark Horse Coffee placed gently on my towel. This was the exact zen, outdoor spa experience I needed and I was so excited.
The day of my plan I loaded up the car with Leonard, his leash, his towel, my beach towel, water and Leeanna’s book. I stopped first to get my cold brew at Dark Horse Coffee and then stopped at my favorite local bakery to get a chocolate raspberry scone. I was going to treat myself! After all this was my day to return to myself.
I’m sure you can already see where this is going but just so you don’t take me as a fool I totally had the foresight to walk Leonard before we found a nice patch of sand to nest in. I knew he would need to be “worn out” before I could create my zen sand garden.
I picked a nice sunny patch of sand far enough away from the water but close enough for a view. It was a random warm Wednesday morning. The beach looked calm and only a few people dotted the area. I set up my (our) towels side by side, pulled out my scone and began soaking up the space. The perfect 70 degree weather. The blue water, the stillness of the morning.
And then literally out of nowhere A PACK of dogs swarmed in my view.
The inevitable happened. The thing I somehow managed to oversee. Two HUGE dogs who were not just wet, but SOPPING WET; literally RACED (calm jogged) over to my towels and immediately began sky diving themselves all over my stuff. They rolled their wet hairy bodies all over our towels and all my belongings. I had to think quick because there was only so much time to strategize what to “save” and as you all know by now, it was the coffee I saved. The towels, my backpack, the book, iPhone, the leash and my water bottle ended up in a sandy wet heap. Leonard didn’t know what to think about these huge dogs happily overtaking our nest and tried to stand on guard but ended up playing with them. #thanks
Nevertheless after this dog hurricane I was determined to get my yoga on. It was fine. This was dog beach after all. A little sand can’t hurt anyone I told myself. I proceeded to shake out the sandy towels. I set everything up again. Coffee. Water. Towel.
I proceeded get into child’s pose where the world felt both small and safe, warm and relaxed in my little cocoon as I began to focus on my breath, and the feeling of the earth beneath me.
But these dogs were not done yet. This time they ran over and again rolled their bodies all over the towels and also decided my yoga pants (that I AM WEARING) were a good towel as well and crashed into me as they shared all their seaweed, sand, salt water infested selves all over me.
This happened at least 3 times. Dogs racing over to me full of glee, catapulting their bodies all over me and all my belongings. Me shaking out the sand from the towels. Wiping sand out of my iphone and water bottle (and mouth). You would think I would have learned my lesson but I was beginning again you guys! I was returning to myself.
It was so bad that two owners on separate dog hurricane explosions came over to me and apologized and one of them even asked what he owed me for all the “damage”. I should have told him to order me some lulu lemon yoga pants asap because I’ve always wanted them and this was a great opportunity but I just said it was fine. #didnotnailit
Here’s the thing: this is really how life actually is. We might read about how to do something in a book or in a manual or even a recipe on Pinterest. Everything sounds wonderful. Just splendid indeed. But the actual working this out in our lives is not so smooth or serene or soft. Sometimes it is coarse and rocky and poky.
I’ve often wished there was a quick fix to healing, to pain, suffering. As a therapist I know how unlikely instantaneous emotional healing is. It isn’t magic and there’s no genie in a bottle waiting for us. I know there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into our own soul growth. There’s also a lot of freedom, lightness and relief that comes from all this work as well.
Sometimes I think the lifeline God sends us is being able to begin again. Glennon Doyle Melton refers to God as “forever tries”. We never run out of trying again, beginning again, starting over. Today I’m grateful that I can shake the sand off my towel again. I can shake the anxiety off, the swirly thoughts, the shame, the guilt, and I can start again every second of every day breathing in new God energy, new oxygen, and a new sunrise.
P.S. Sometimes I begin again by ordering a new IPhone case because the sand that got stuck in there was irreparable. #whatcanyoudo
P.P.S. Sometimes beginning again is realizing what you need to let go of so that you can take hold of something new. As Leeana says, “Expansion is ruthlessly confronting what is not working so that what is truly alive can breathe. Expansion is truth-shall-set-me-free honesty. Expansion is wrestling, engaging, listening. It is letting the dead trees go.” (or the dead iphone cases)