At the precipice of my 13th birthday, I moved to Inverness, Florida to live with my grandparents.
There was turmoil at my house and my school life felt unmanageable.
My beautiful and understanding mother allowed me the freedom to move 9 hours away to try and find some joy.
I made friends quickly and my grandparents were so loving and kind to me.
There were several reasons for me to have gratitude for that experience.
But, the greatest of all was my time by the water.
Their house backed up to the lake with a dock, a swing and kayaks all by the water front.
I would spend my time kayaking, riding bikes and dipping my toes into the water.
I learned the name of every old man who sat out by the boat ramps and I listened to their stories.
I took time with my thoughts and for the first time in my life, had the emotional freedom to figure out where I fit into the world. I sat on the dock and journaled, I took solo bike rides through the small town’s greenway and I ran around the playground with the neighborhood boys that became my friends.
That time was particularly special for me because I had the space internally to explore my place in the world.
I’ve been plagued my entire life with a hyper-awareness of the feelings of others.
In every moment and every interaction I am thinking of how the other person may be feeling and doing what I can to make them happy and comfortable. This seems like a good characteristic when spelled out in that way, however, it can be exhausting and not even helpful ultimately.
Sometimes, I experience glimpses of release, depth in relationships where I can finally just let go. Or, I gift myself a few moments without concern, to just exist as I’d like without fear of neglecting someone else’s emotions. This period of my life was so special because I had months to just be. I was able to simply be a kid and a selfish teenager at that.
I’m not sure I have ever properly expressed the amount of gratitude that I have for my mom and my grandparents for that amazing gift. Hopefully, they’re reading this. But, today I’m thinking back on that time.
I’m reminded of what it feels like to stand on the dock, to listen to the birds and watch the water settle before me.
The openness to my thoughts and my relationship with the world around me.
I’m reminded of my openness to adventure and need for exploration.
That feeling of whimsy is a gift that I have to believe we can give ourselves at any time.
Though life is more complicated now and I have responsibilities and obligations. I can still look at the world as something to experience. I can gift myself the freedom to explore the depths and heights that life has to offer.