May31

Publisher - June 2018

Publisher0618If you’re lucky enough
to live near the beach,
then you’re lucky enough.
— Anonymous —

When I was 13-years-old, I prayed to move to Hilton Head Island. Though I meant right then, my prayers were answered 10 years later for a short stint, and again 14 years after that, for a total of 18 years so far. Even at age 13, I discerned that life in the Lowcountry was different. I knew it was a place I wanted to call home.

My experience truly was like no other. I had an insider’s life here on the Island. My best friend (who lived in Columbia and went to school with me,) is the daughter of Gene Martin, who owned the Red & White (now Piggly Wiggly) in Coligny Plaza. We just called it The Store. Her dad’s house was a couple blocks away in North Forest Beach. Everything was in walking or biking distance, and very little parental supervision was required. We would go to the beach, ride up to The Store, walk in through the back room, pick out what we wanted to eat and walk out the same way we came in. It was heaven having free access to a whole grocery store. In fact, Coligny Plaza was a place we loved to go. Of course, back then, the island was sparse, but we thought we had it all. And, basically, we did—an idyllic, carefree, beach life on an idyllic island. It felt freeing—so very different than Columbia—maybe because Mr. Martin didn’t make us do anything like clean up or yard work. He just let us be kids, so our only worry was how long it took to get from North Forest Beach to Hudson’s for dinner. We would literally ask from the backseat of his Oldsmobile, “How much longer?”

I think that’s why most of us move to the coast: To find freedom and be released from the burdens of life. I don’t know if it’s adulthood, 24/7 technology, or owning a business, or just plain life, but I’ve felt frantic lately, even here in paradise. I’m always running behind, there’s too much to do, and if I take time enjoy something fun, I feel like I’m wasting time. Lately, I have had a tremendous desire to step back, breathe, slow my pace and just enjoy each day. Perhaps that is the very definition of spring fever.

In 2012 I wrote an article about “summering,” a theory similar to “wintering” somewhere exotic, except staying here. I was at my wit’s end then, too. Pissed for not stopping to enjoy the paradise I was surrounded by. I wanted to experience the guilty pleasures coastal life has to offer, but I was only honing in on the guilty part. Sometimes to get off the treadmill of mundane and back into the flow, one has to remember their “why.” WHY did I move here in the first place—WHY did I pray so hard at 13 for God to let me live at the beach? Why did you?

I did because I felt free here. This place puts my senses at ease with the peaceful, beautiful visuals, audibles, and aromas of the coastal south. Being here allowed me to step out of my real life and play. Oh. My. God. I want to play!

Fast-forward, and what do I do when I get a chance to live in my paradise, where I am supposed to feel free? I work. And work. And did I mention I work. And when I’m not working, I think about work, and I sleep. I have no work/play balance, and I’m changing that starting right now. You know why? Because I can. I totally forgot I  have the power to change my life, so here’s what I have up my sleeve for operation “I’m Summering Again!”

Sunrises and Sunsets: I used to walk the beach four or five mornings a week. I would make it in time for sunrise, which was a huge daily gift to myself. I always viewed it as the sun putting on her show every morning, and I never knew what mood she was going to be in. Some days those rays were gentle, soft pink and demure, while other mornings the sun would show off her brilliance in a way no words, nor photograph, could ever capture. This summer I refuse to miss the morning show of the sun.

I absolutely love being in the water, fully immersed. Ocean, pool, sprinkler—it doesn’t matter. I drive by my neighborhood pool every day. So far this year, in the 60 days it’s been open, I’ve been twice. I have a serious craving to bike ride to the pool, spend a lazy day in the sunshine, listening to a book on Audible and cooling off in the lazy river. Being in the water makes me feel free and light and away. It is my why.

I could list a whole host of things I want to do, but the bottom-line is what am I willing to do? People don’t change until it’s too painful to stay the same. I’m not in pain, but I feel heavy energy weighing me down on a daily basis, weekends included. Perhaps I’m just settling back into my house and life and trying to find a new normal. Whatever it is, it feels like overwhelm and overload. I need a break. My bet is you do, too.

I know the solution! It’s time to take heed the advice from the ocean and implement these lessons for summering: Be shore of yourself; Come out of your shell; Take time to coast; Avoid pier pressure; Sea the beauty around you; Don’t tide yourself down with work; Limit time on your shell phone; go with the flow, don’t be shellfish; Make some waves and Seas every day! I’m in. Are you? Let’s summer!

Passion, Peace and Paisley,
Elizabeth Millen

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