If Once You Have Slept On An Island
If once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,
You may bustle about in street and shop
You may sit at home and sew,
But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.
You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.
Oh! you won't know why and you can't say how
Such a change upon you came,
But once you have slept on an island,
You'll never be quite the same.
--- Rachel Field
Yes, it’s true. I just returned from vacation from a week on an island. Every time we go there, I come back feeling a little different. I accidentally wave to everyone we drive by (an island tradition). I avoid my phone. And I want to spend as much time outside as possible.
On an island, it’s like you’re protected from the craziness of the world when you’re surrounded by water. No getting off easily and everyone else on that island is somehow in on the joke with you. A sense of a community.
And it’s, of course, a time to pause. To try to unplug as much as possible. And that has made all the difference for me. It wasn’t easy at first, but just sitting down to write didn’t seem like a chore anymore, something I would always tell myself “I should” do. Yes, I did take some time to wind down from the busy thoughts dancing around in my mind that come from running a business on my own. I celebrated the new Soulful Work Community I've recently brought together with 26 luminous and brave souls. And reflected on how much energy I've put out and how much work I've done, and realized I was starting to feel tired. But a good tired - kind of like toiling in the fields under the hot sun to come home to a fresh glass of lemonade and a long nap. And then I started stepping back, just spending time with my family near the ocean and in the verdant fields… and I freed myself, just for a while, from the spin cycle that is modern life these days.
I brought a few books to read – one is called The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden. While it contains concepts I’m familiar with, somehow I still need reminding. And it’s nice to hear these ideas in different words and in a new voice (that’s right, if you want to write, even if it’s been written about before, it hasn’t been written about by you!). This book reminded me about how deeply we are all connected in a conscious web of life, in a very real and magical way. About how each of our actions, thoughts and emotions affects everyone and everything in that web. How we create much of our world and our reality as we go along, birthed from an intelligent energy that, after it gave life to us humans, becomes part of us. Kind of like, as Braden so brilliantly proposes, the animator’s hand in the Walt Disney cartoons drawing Mickey Mouse. The hand disappears and Mickey Mouse comes to life, and Mickey himself similarly starts to create the objects in his world.
Or like in the book Harold and the Purple Crayon, the little boy Harold creates his world as he goes about in it - drawing a boat when he needs it, setting sail as he completes his drawing. Imagine the implications if we similarly took the time to intentionally create our lives in this way as we go along… with some intention, discipline, positive emotions, and asking for some help along the way.
That is what we, my husband Chris and I, intend to do more consciously in my weeks and months to come.
At a kid-free dinner the other night, we talked about how we could bring this feeling we have on the island, of contentment and joy, on a consistent basis back to our daily lives. To avoid the feeling of dread that usually comes when a vacation ends. Of having to go back to “reality” as some call it. To that societal norm that is about never having enough, of always striving for the next best thing.
And we as humans forget about how powerful as creators we truly are. Most of us go about our days in reactive mode. We watch what happens to us instead of taking some time to think: what do I really want in my life? Even if I don’t see how to get that with my physical eyes, if I understand how magical the universe is, I know that I can create a vibration with my thoughts and actions and then wait for the universe to send that back to me.
Do you want a new car but don’t know how to pay for it? Go test drive one anyway. Do you want to take a trip across the world but don’t know how to make it happen? Plan your trip just for fun. And watch things unfold from there. Believe that you’re already living the life you want.. this is how the vibration is created. And according to the Divine laws that govern life (I can’t explain them, I only experience them myself!), once you have visualized what you want, and once you live that visualization and then let it go and feel joy in your life, you are opening up to receiving it back, in the form of a miraculous wish granted. (And this Sunday, July 9th, take advantage of the full moon to write, visualize and create your life!).
As for me in my life right now, I have taken the time to pause, reassess and to intentionally create this week. Somehow all I want is to live simply. To travel, yes, but other than that, a simple life connected with nature and with other humans (for we are social creatures and need each other!) feels just perfect to me.
On this island, we breathe in the salty air and smell the musty, damp smell of the green reeds in the lush swamp. We watch the birds flitter and chirp. We lay in the grass and gaze up at the clouds forming hearts in the sky and watch the beech tree leaves shimmer in the wind. And that is enough.
There’s only so many things to do on this island in Maine. You can go look for seaglass on a beach. You can ride bikes. Watch the sunset. Look for wild strawberries in the grass. Hang out with the neighbors and their kids. Go to a community supper. Read a book. Paint.
These are all basic elements of life. Yes, we can bring our smartphones with us and check in from time to time. But we have no TV and we spend our evenings playing games, reading or just talking by candlelight on the porch.
And in this way of life, we feel at peace with the world, connected with the web of life that is nature. So let’s see if we can make this continue back in our everyday lives.
Yes, back home we have schedules to attend to. School and work start at set times; we don’t live in a culture where you can meander on in at whatever time you choose (sounds like of cool but might get annoying after a while). While schedules have a purpose, too often we let the schedules run our lives. What if we just made some adjustments so our lives can be more enjoyable? What if we took back control and got pro-active about it?
So we decided to start making things happen in our daily lives. In our creating process, we set the intention of doing this: we will get up early, before the kids. This sets the tone for the day. I will do yoga and take some time to breathe (my day goes so much better when I start it this way) and give thanks for all the blessings in my life (re-wiring the brain to notice the positive!). We will make breakfast and have the kids lunches made. All before they get up. Then they rise, play for a bit, and we all have breakfast together. No more rushing around frantically, frustrated at them for dilly-dallying. (After all, why should we expect them to understand our ridiculous adult-world schedules all the time?)
Then we go our separate ways, get the kids to their schools/child cares and we go off to our livelihoods/careers. Then we come back together at the end of the day and enjoy our time together. And here’s we have some leeway. We can go with the flow, spend time dancing to music, playing silly games, going on the swing set, and just being together as a family.
And then after they go to bed we get disciplined. We exercise right away, even if just for 20 minutes. Then our creative time – it needs to be a daily habit or it won’t happen. We hold each other accountable. I write and he makes music for a bit, let’s say an hour. Then we stop. We read, meditate, and go to bed early. And that’s it.
Now, since our brains are wired to routine, there is a risk that once we go back to our house on the mainland that we will forget these intentions and slip back into old habits. It’s literally impossible to monitor every thought, and things happen in life that we can’t control, as part of our soul lessons we are here to learn and part of the nature of being alive on a planet that has darkness and suffering as well as light and love.
So I’m trying to prepare for that tendency to forget. We can shake up our routine by changing it – in addition to getting up earlier, we might move the furniture around, put up reminder notes, drive a new route, etc. And Chris and I will hold each other accountable. All of these signal to your brain that things are different, and that your old thought patterns can be different too.
Let’s take the pressure off of ourselves and bring the island lifestyle back to where we are. To not feeling compelled all the time to be somewhere else, to be doing something else, to be better than we are. It gets tiring always feeling like you’re on a journey to somewhere else. What if where you are right now is good enough? Of course, we always learn and grow, but let’s take the time to enjoy the present moment, to create more of what we want in the process and to simply just feel the beauty that has been given to us on this Earth.
I believe we can do it. I’m going to try, and I hope you join me.
(P.S. You can join me in-person for some upcoming workshops too:
Tuesday, July 11th: Shine Your Light: Effective Marketing for Holistic Entrepreneurs - social media, pricing, overcoming fears and all that good stuff - online with Christopher Pagli!
Sunday, July 16th: Raising Your Vibration: Release Fear and Embrace Flow - Intentionally aligning with your true, highest self through sound and writing transformation - live with Ben Carroll.
Tuesday, July 18th: Thriving as a Spiritual Introvert: How to Go Outside Your Comfort Zone and Take Action - This is my life! And my new favorite topic - live at Willard Beach Studio.
Sunday, July 23rd: Quiet the Mind in Everyday Life: Why it May be the Most Important Thing You Do - Quieting the mind as a stepping stone to living a new sort of life and how to start doing it! - live at Soma Massage & Wellness. )