Updated: Aug 15
Stone Harbor’s been on my mind. No doubt this will surprise my family because for years I’d become uptight whenever it came time to go head to the New Jersey shore.
My husband’s parents rented the same spot each summer—103rd and First Avenue, an amazing location. While I can now appreciate the quaintness of this original beach house, at the time, I couldn’t see its charm. Instead, I dreaded how hot it would get without AC and how sticky the furniture would be from the high humidity.
Truthfully, I’ve never been a shore person. I prefer the mountains. Lakes seem safer … perhaps because there aren’t big waves or sharks. Besides, the beach is hot and sandy—neither of which I am a fan of. But there’s more. I hold some trauma from being rescued by a lifeguard when I was eight years old and staying with my best friend and her family in Stone Harbor.
However, as I’ve matured, I realized my discomfort during these annual vacations was not about the sand, the lack of AC, or a fear of the ocean … it was me, not being able to go with the flow. Instead of relaxing into the beautiful environment around me, I retreated inwards, creating my own unhappiness.
Grateful to finally be aware of a pattern that did not serve me—and most likely negatively impacted others—I’m trying to approach similar situations with a new attitude and energy. By taking an honest look at what makes me uncomfortable, I can feel then release these emotions instead of burying them inside of me.
Letting go of our prickly feelings encourages us to be curious instead of uneasy. If surrender to what is, a weight miraculously falls from our shoulders. Then we can see reality instead of the limiting construct we’ve created in our minds. And more likely than not, when we embrace what we face, we’re surprised by how easy it is to navigate.
“We can relax and float in the direction that the water flows,
or we can swim hard against it. If we go with the river,
the energy of a thousand mountain streams will be with us.”—Elizabeth Lesser
When we constantly push against the current, we encounter resistance—most of it our own. That is what I did for years. While I cannot go back and change those weeks in Stone Harbor, I can now show up differently whenever I feel out of my comfort zone.
Opening to this approach taught me that things usually turn out better than I could imagine. Whether witnessing beautiful scenery, encountering interesting people, or stretching my mind in new ways, whenever I let go, I seem to let in.
What do you resist? If you could release what troubles you and go with the flow, might you find peace, even joy?
The more I dispel the roadblocks within, the easier life becomes. This doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. After all, life can be unpredictable. But when we stop fighting what makes us uneasy, we take away half of the problem … the stress we create ourselves.
This week, consider observing your thoughts when you encounter something difficult. Do you react, or do you respond? Is your instinct to take charge and try to fix? Or can you let things play out and remain unattached to the outcome? When we take a deep breath, soften our grip, and go with the flow, it’s amazing what can occur.
Maybe we’ll visit Stone Harbor next summer. I wonder if spending the day on the beach, jumping waves, and letting myself become covered in sand is exactly what I need to realize all I missed over the years. By letting go of what made me uncomfortable, I suspect I just might let in an appreciation for what my family treasured about this shore town.