It’s the first of April and springtime is apparent everywhere with dogwoods in full bloom, tulips and irises at their peak, and new buds making the trees look like a study in green. I’m waiting on the bluebirds to come to their new house and feeder in my garden area, but so far, only cardinals have shown. Watching this busy time of birds I find myself thinking back to a post I wrote on July 25, 2021 New Beginnings: Flying Lessons. Observing birds, I thought about what it would be to lift off of the ground, to let go of the things that weigh me down, keeping me grounded. In the midst of my first year of dating, I was feeling anxious and at times, confused as a Baby Boomer who’d just divorced.
This is what I wrote in that post:
Over the past months of online dating, I’ve viewed many photos and read many profiles of men on several sites. It’s been an interesting process in that it’s made me look more closely at who I am and where I want my life to go. I keep asking myself, “What do you really want now, Connie?” “What is essential?”
I feel like following the process of dating, and everything else over the past few years of single life, has been an ongoing quest to answer that question of what is essential, what do I want. Little by little the answers have been revealed and over time they’ve been refined.
Back in March of 2018, I made a trip to Florida to see my cousin who lived on the Gulf Coast in Bradenton. While I was there, I spent a morning on nearby Coquina Beach. What I loved was that the herons would allow me to get up close as they strolled the shoreline. It occurred to me that the shape of the bird, the turn of the head and neck appeared like a question mark. As the bird walked in the water, I thought of it as a moving question. Looking at the photo now, it occurs to me that life is like the bird walking the beach– a moving question that we follow trying to find the answers.
I’m fortunate that I’ve recorded much of this process in my weekly blog posts. It’s been like my public journal and now I can look back and see more of the details of the steps along this path. When I wrote that post in July of 2021, there was also an image of birds:
“Now that I’m trying to figure out how to be in this new world, I ponder how it is to take flight. I have been hesitant of heights–whether literal or figurative; that comes out of my fear of falling. Every other juncture I’ve had in life that required major change came with a feeling of fear of the unknown. It required moving across the threshold, bearing the awkwardness of those first steps, keeping on until the steps became more familiar, and finally— making those steps more skillful, more of my own style.“
I think back on all the decisions I’ve had to make by myself since my separation in 2019. In big and small things I’ve learned to trust myself and use the resources of others with their knowledge and skills. Many of those decisions have had to do with the pragmatics of finances and housing. But some of the steps I’ve taken have been literal– dance steps. That has been a passion for me over the past ten years. Things opened back up for dancing after the pandemic lockdown and since then, I’ve focused on increasing my skill and confidence. It’s been great exercise and an outlet for socializing.
To improve my skill, I’ve taken both group and private dance lessons. I’ve added new dance venues. Reading that post from July of 2021, I’m reminded of how far I’ve come. I’d forgotten how awkward I was then with going to places other than the familiar Elk’s Lodge with many of the same partners every Sunday. On that July night, there was a band playing at Sophie’s restaurant and bar in Cary. My friend invited me to join her there–but then at the last minute, her plans changed and she couldn’t be there until much later. She arranged for me to meet a couple of her friends at Sophie’s, so I would have folks to sit with.
I wasn’t comfortable with that, since I’d never met those friends or been in that restaurant. But part of me, really wanted to go out that night and I appreciated the effort my friend had taken to include me. This is how I saw it back then:
“The ‘old me’ would have bowed out, too hesitant to go into a group where I knew no one. While I’m a ‘friendly Southerner,’ talkative–there is a streak of shyness that’s remained since I was a girl. I would have opted to stay home in the comfort of the familiar, save the energy required to step out and take a risk.“
I showed up at Sophie’s and found the table of women. One woman was especially friendly and when the band started playing, she motioned me to join her and the others headed onto the dance area. They were free style dancing–individually, not with a partner to known dance steps like I was used to. This was what I wrote:
“At first, I held back–so used to partner dancing, uncomfortable out there on my own. But then on the second song, I pushed myself to join them. They’d been welcoming of me; I needed to let go and just be in the moment with them.“
This past November, I felt an urge to go to the Tuesday night Blues Jam at the Blue Note Grill in Durham. I’d been once before and thought I needed a new dance venue, a new form of dancing since I’d gotten into a routine of going to the same places. What I found was that many times there weren’t partners for social dancing– like I preferred. The people I started hanging out with would get up and dance free style to most all the songs. I loved dancing to live music and eventually I let go of my hesitance to dance by myself. I realized that it wasn’t just that I preferred partner dancing; part of me felt awkward dancing alone. Over time, with going frequently on Tuesday nights and getting to know the crowd and the music, I’ve let go of my awkwardness. Now, I’m more able to enjoy the feel of the music and the self-expression of dancing. In many ways, it feels like I’ve been set free to fly.
Now, reading the conclusion of that July post, I see that night at Sophie’s and the nights I’ve had at the Blue Note Grill and think these words apply to both:
“It was almost midnight when I left last night, the band finishing their final set. How full the night had been with stepping into that new place, navigating the uncomfortable, making new friends around the table, breaking a barrier in my dancing.”
I wonder how this post relates to you. Is there an area of your life where you’re pushing yourself to step forward and take risks, to allow yourself to take flying lessons–even though you’re afraid of heights, afraid of falling? Are you able to look back and see ways that you have made progress in overcoming obstacles in order to be more free, to be more fully yourself?
When I was at Coquina Beach, I found this pier with a lovely clock tower. I loved the architecture and the beauty of the surroundings. Then and now, the clock is like a beacon that is there reminding me of the passing of time, of how precious each hour, each day, each year is as we move forward through our life. My wish for all of us is that we take the time to figure out what it is that we really want and that we follow that wherever it leads, like those herons along the shoreline.
Best to you all in the week ahead,
3 thoughts on “Herons on the Shoreline”
Thank you for taking back to Florida. Last Summer my Daughter and her family came to the USA. She came to Dallas, and we took in the usual sites. Then we all met in Bradenton Beach at the Queens Gate, a beautiful old resort that we have made our landing place. My Oldest son from NC, stays there a lot. I have a cousin in Bradenton Beach. I am familiar with all the places that you visited, as I have been there too. The Herons are the center of my visits as they are beautiful to watch fly and soar for endless times, with grace and abandon. You are a unique individual as you share your life with all your readers. I, for one, see the parallel in life that we each share on our own lives. You are a treasure that can not be duplicated. Love and Blessings to you. John,
I’m so glad that you’ve had great experiences in Bradenton. I only went there that one time— and I’m glad I chose Bradenton in 2018. My cousin, whom I visited has died since then so I won’t be going to see her again. It was a lovely beach and I can see why the Herons are the center of your visits. It is amazing to look at all the hues of their wings when they’re expanded in flight.
Thanks for your high praise– being a “treasure.”
Best to you, John.
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