Ebbing and Flowing

Throughout my lifetime the ocean has always been my source of strength, inspiration and reflection. As a young girl going to my grandparents’ cottage in Marshfield, MA for a month each summer was a gift that I treasured. For the past five years, I have lived on the Chester River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It has made me realize that I must always live on the water.

My job leading an independent school in the past two years of COVID has been complicated, exhausting, and challenging at times. Yet, my school is located on the Chester River and the views, especially the one from the Library, brings peace when I can take a moment to gaze outside or better yet, take a walk with River through the back field to the water’s edge. 

My home has also been an oasis of rejuvenation each day as I watch the ever-changing and never-ending flow and colors of the river, and reflect on the health and well-being of my school community. I have heard many times, “take time for yourself.” That is much easier said than done. But, I do have an amazing view from my new picture window at home and I am so grateful for the chance to relax and regroup at the red roof inn.

A colleague shared a poem with me recently. Advice from a River by Ilan Shamir resonates with me and I refer to it almost daily. Its last line, Beauty is in the Journey, speaks directly to me. No matter the obstacle, go around it and continue with the flow. The journey will make you stronger and you will come to understand its beauty. This seems like an especially accurate metaphor for life in the time of COVID.

The ocean’s beauty always calls me and I look forward to being in Satellite Beach, FL for spring break. I plan to use the time to decompress. That consistent ebbing and flowing you see and hear as you gaze at the ocean or sit by its side “de-stimulates our brains,” says Richard Shuster, clinical psychologist and host of The Daily Helping podcast. The noises and the visuals activate our parasympathetic nervous system, which literally slows us down and allows us to relax.

In addition, the color blue has been found to be associated with feelings of calm and peace. “Staring at the ocean,” says Shuster, “actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.” A study published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s journal even found that blue is associated with a boost of creativity.

Maybe this explains why I can always do my best writing in my home or at the beach. The energy of the ebbing and flowing awakens and stimulates my creativity flow. And, the water always shows me that no matter the storm, this, too, shall pass.

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