Days of Sheringham: Part 2

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Perhaps it was overly ambitious to think I’d spend my time in Sheringham writing.  It’s been a busy year, to say the least.  Actually, the last five years have been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve desperately needed some downtime.  Case in point: my New Year’s Resolution for 2018 was to chill the f*ck out. I failed by epic proportions. This year has been anything but chill – it’s been a year of growth and change and progress, but nothing about it has been “chill.”

Now that I’m here in East Anglia, my body wants to sleep.  I’ve been sleeping between 9 and 11 hours a day. Every day. Yes, you could say that I’m tired.  Yesterday I woke past noon and begrudgingly dragged myself down to the water to enjoy what little daylight was left.  Instead of walking the coastal trail as I’d done each day prior, I walked along the shore – my boots in the sand and stone. And it was gorgeous.  Absolutely breathtaking! The tide was rising, but I couldn’t stop walking.

Rather than get stranded on the beach (on a particularly chilly day), I stopped an older couple as they passed by and asked if there was a way to access the coastal trail from the beach.  This way, if the tide got too high, I’d have a safe way out.  Luckily, the man and woman were extremely friendly and confirmed that yes, there was in fact a pathway to the trail, which incidentally was not far off from where we were.

sheringham_beach

I made my way along the shoreline and eventually crossed a long stretch of stones to reach the coastal trail.  It was a brisk, but beautiful walk back to town.  Out of town by sand and stone, and back into town by a winding trail along the cliffs.  To call it picturesque is an understatement. As I exited the trail, I was surprised to see the couple I’d met earlier on the beach heading toward me.  They waved hello and stopped me for a chat.  Not only had my American accent given me away, but they could tell I was traveling solo and kindly invited me to join them the following day for their weekly walk into a neighboring town. We decided to meet at their house at 10AM the following morning.

*  *  *  *  *

This morning I set an alarm.  Since I’ve been binge-sleeping, I didn’t want to risk missing our 10AM start time.  Arriving promptly at 10, I rang the doorbell and was quickly greeted by Susan.  She brought me into their home, introduced me to their sleek Tonkinese cats, and escorted me over to a table containing a map of the area.  Prior to my arrival, she’d mapped out areas of East Anglia I might want to explore.  Not only did she show me each location on the official map, but she’d hand written (drawn) a map on a full-size piece of paper for me to keep – with details including bus routes, restaurant recommendations, and inside-tips only a local could provide.

This.  This is the magic of travel.  This is the warmth and kindness I didn’t even realize was missing in my life.

After a cup of delicious pour over coffee, we bundled up and began our trek to Waybourne.  We discussed politics: what it’s been like in the US with Trump as president, and what it’s been like in the UK after the Brexit vote.  We discussed careers. Travel.  Food.  Pets. Architecture. Death. Grieving. Creativity. Art. Psychology.  Somehow, as if by magic, no topics were off limit.  Maybe it’s because I’m just passing through town or maybe we realized that we’re kindred spirits.  Susan and Trevor have a subtle joie de vivre. The kind of joy that’s tinged by sorrow – much like myself.  The soft smile of someone who appreciates the beauty of life, because they know how hard it can be. They’ve lived it.  And yet they – we – choose to stay soft and loving.

You’d think by now I’d get used to the ways of the Universe.  That I wouldn’t be surprised by the people that “just happen” to cross your path at exactly the right time, right when you need them the most. And yet, I’m still amazed.  Still grateful at the magic that draws such people near. I am so grateful for fated friends, tucked in all corners of the globe, waiting to be discovered.  I only hope I offered them an ounce of the inspiration and kindness they bestowed upon me.

To be continued… Part 3.

Yours truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Here’s Part 1. Each part in this series is written by whim, not necessarily in chronological order or any order for that matter.  Enjoy!

Super You on the SuperMoon

There are a lot of articles circulating about the SuperMoon and how to harness the energy for personal growth and the highest self. I don’t follow astrology much, but I can tell you that I personally have a connection with the moon and pay attention to its phases.

Regardless of what you believe, it’s always a good idea to pause and reflect. To contemplate what is working in your life and what is not.  What you want to stop, start and continue.

The past few months have brought about a lot of change in my life.  I had a romance end, a new career opportunity rise to the surface, the illness of a loved one and many loved ones in my life struggling with changes in their own lives.  Any change can trigger past hurt and insecurities, but many changes taking place at once can really put you through the ringer.

This is exactly what happened.

With the help of my therapist, my yoga practice, mindfulness, meditation, journal entries, talking to loved ones and a whole host of other self-care techniques, I have done my very best to process all of this change and look for areas of growth.  What do I want? What is important to me? What would I like to change? And perhaps most importantly, what would I like to release?

moon

Since this SuperMoon is all about release, it’s no shocker that today it has come into sharp focus: I want to release my intense desire to control the outcome. While this serves me in many ways, it also really holds me back and keeps me from experiencing the beauty that is found in letting go.

Now, I cannot promise I won’t be a plotter and a planner, always working toward the next big idea (that’s just who I am), but I can relax into the journey more.

I want to release the need to analyze every situation in my life and what it means, relaxing into the gifts it brings, without always questioning its greater purpose.

I want to release the fear in my heart and lead from a place of love and acceptance.

I want to release the idea that I am anything less than completely whole.

I want to release the belief that I know best and live from a more humble place.

I want to release the fear of failure and judgment and pursue the life of my dreams without hesitation.

I want to live fully, with an open heart, an open mind and to love with a sense of wild abandon.

What would you like to release?

Your truly,

Erin Terese

 

 

The Growing Process

How long has it been? Nine years?  Thirty-four years? Maybe a thousand glasses of wine, two thousand miles of coastal exploration and fifteen gallons of tears? Who knows.

However you choose to measure it, what’s most surprising to me is the cyclical nature of growth.

I’ve been analytical for as long as I can remember.  My loving mother spent many a nights with me as a child, listening to me vent, helping me talk through my confusion, stifling a smile or laugh or look of horror as I explored the corners of my mind.

I have always been curious.  But it was about nine years ago that I was brought to my knees and was forced to look at the world with new eyes.  Forced to see how my choices, my view of the world and the people I choose as my tribe impact every facet of my life.

We want to believe that once we learn a lesson, we can check it off the list and move forward. Ah-ha! I have learned to have patience.  I was patient in that situation, therefore I am now a patient person… check, check, check.

Sadly, this is not how this works. It is not that easy.

All of our lessons and areas for growth will loop back around.  We will be confronted with choices and situations that will make us rise to the occasion again and again.

Can you be patient in this situation? Can you be loving in that situation? Can you show compassion to that person? Can you exercise healthy boundaries now?

Let’s unpack this a little bit more.

For most of my life, communicating my true feelings was not easy for me.  I had so much fear about what people would think, who I might offend, not to mention I often didn’t know how I was feeling.  Years of mindfulness and meditation have helped me understand myself better.  Writing has helped me articulate myself better.  Having hard conversations where I feel like I might throw up or faint, run away or cry, has helped me grow and create better relationships, with both family, friends and lovers.

growth process

But is it ever really easy?  It is ever really done?  Do we ever really know exactly what to say, exactly how to say it, when to say it and what actions will validate our best intention-ed words?

Hell to the no.

We try. We try again and again. And it does get a little bit easier. You learn that you can and will survive these scary situations, but it doesn’t mean you enjoy it or that you don’t mess up.

The same can be said for confidence, worthiness, self-care, mindfulness, authenticity, vulnerability, courage… we learn what it is and how to do it. And then we learn it again. And again. And again.

Each time we will be tested differently. Each time we will respond a little bit differently.  Each time will learn a little bit more.

And hopefully along the way, we learn to offer ourselves some compassion. Offer and acknowledge how far we’ve come and how well we are doing. Knowing that we all make mistakes, we all have greatness and we all have so much to learn.

The best thing I can offer myself today (and maybe you can relate) is to cut myself some slack.

We are all doing the best we can. I honestly believe that. We will trip and fall, hurt people and hurt ourselves, impress others and exceed our own expectations, time and time again.

I think what is most important is that we are always true to ourselves.  That we honor our values and uphold our integrity.  This way, we can always hold our head high. And if, er’ when we mess up, we know exactly where to go back to.

We go back to our true self.  The one that wants to love and be loved.  The one whose hopes and dreams pulse through our veins. The one who hears this with their heart.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

P.S. Happy 11:11 ❤

The Act of Letting Go

Well, I did it. I released him.  I won’t call it “saying goodbye”, as I had previously written;  I will simply say I released him.

I went to say goodbye.  I walked his ashes down to the water with the intention of saying goodbye, but as the ashes scattered in the wind and drifted down to the waves below, I knew it was just me releasing him, and that he would always be there whenever I wanted to visit and say hello.

A few weeks ago I went on a trip to Europe.  This trip was planned as part of a personal quest to get to know myself. This trip was something I wanted and needed.  Something to push me outside of my comfort zone, test my character and give me the time alone to explore who I am, what I want and where I want to go in my life. And to have some fabulous adventures along the way, of course!

I knew the trip was going to be special. It was not going to be be just an average “holiday”, but rather a turning point. A new chapter.  Perhaps even the beginning of a new story all together.

With this in mind, I knew it was time to let him go. The morning before I boarded my flight to Stockholm, I took the small wooden box containing his ashes down to the water.  With my black leather boots protecting me from from puddles and my polka dot umbrella shielding my face from the rain, I rounded the back of the pier. Luckily there were only a few fisherman out that day, so it didn’t take me long to find a corner to be alone with him.

I stood there in the rain. I had my ear buds in and listened to a sweet, slow melody as I reached into my purse and removed the small box. The wind calmed and the rain slowed to a drizzle. I collapsed the umbrella, resting it against the metal guard rail and held him in both of my hands. Then the tears came. But these were new tears, not the same I had shed for him time and time again.  This time, the tears were letting him go – releasing him. The tears leaked out, rolling down my cheeks, salt kissing my lips and continuing down to pool around my neck.

let-gooooo

I held him tight it my hands. I felt the box, the ridges and grooves where the inscription was carved. I slid back the cover and removed the small packet of ashes.  I snipped the top with a small pair of scissors, looked inside and saw the pale gray dust start to move in the breeze. I held the bag out over the railing, tipped it upside down and watched as he caught the wind and gently floated to the waves.

***

I returned from my trip this past Monday.  It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Still basking in the glow of time spent reading on the beach in the South of France, meeting a psychic in Amsterdam, meditating with Deepak Chopra in Paris and all of the people I met and realizations I had along the way, I spent this week slowly integrating myself back into daily life, trying to carry with me all that happened while making sense of some of my personal reflections.

Today was the first Saturday in three weeks that I woke up in my own apartment.  Instead of rushing to get out into the world to explore or be productive, I took it slow. I savored the morning, just as I would have if I was on holiday. I declined an invitation to meet up with a friend and opted for a day of solitude, choosing instead to read, write, stretch my legs in the sunshine, take a long afternoon nap and have a quiet night at home.

Outside, the sun beat hot upon my face. San Francisco is known to be overcast, with autumn-like weather the majority of the year.  Today was unusually warm. On a day like today, the water beckons and you must obey.  Heeding the siren’s call, I made my way to the Bay and stood there thinking Do I go left or right? Left or right? I chose left.

I chose to go and say hello to him and see how his new spot was.  Today it was bright and sunny and hot – the pier filled with people.  There were men fishing and families picnicking.  There was a man sitting on a bench, playing his guitar and getting lost in the sound.  A couple leaning against the building, taking shelter in the shade and giving their dog a bowl of water to drink.  And right in front of where I spread his ashes, two men sitting on a bench drinking beer out of glass bottles – no brown bag. Proud and happily defiant. He would have liked that.

I squatted down to look at the aqua water and snap a picture of the beautiful day. The woman standing about twenty feet behind me, watched me closely.  When I turned to leave, she didn’t even attempt to avert her eyes, she just watched. Her observing me, me observing the others, and him floating along the water, watching it all with a smile. There were no tears today, just peace.

This is the first time I have written about him without crying. I have finally let him go. I have let him go both literally and figuratively, evidenced by my sense of peace and lack of salty tears.  He will always be a part of my past.  Knowing him and loving him has shaped who I am today which will certainly impact who I will become in the future.  But this next chapter is mine. Mine to write as I wish, carrying with me all that I have learned and all that I wish to experience.

And should I ever wish  to say hello, I will simply walk my feet down to the Bay and watch the waves lap against the pier, where he dances on the water and observes the passersby – just as he always has.

Your truly,

Erin Terese

P.S.  Thank you for taking this journey with me. Your readership, friendship and support makes all the difference in the world. xo

 

How Do You Say Goodbye Without Saying Goodbye?

I wish there had been a funeral or a memorial service.  Something. Something ceremonial or commemorative.  I feel like maybe that was the plan at one point, but the way that everything unfolded was too unpredictable and bizarre.  I don’t think anyone knew how to handle it, or wanted to handle it, or wanted to really face what happened and how much was left unknown.

I think that there is something to be said for communal grieving.  Funerals are not something that anyone looks forward to or wants to attend, but there is something about the gathering of loved ones to help usher and acknowledge the end of ones life.  I remember my grandfather’s and grandmother’s and uncle’s and cousin’s husband’s and friend’s brother’s funeral all vividly. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast two days ago, but I can remember those days like they were yesterday.  They are significant and something I know now to never take for granted.

The thing about my ex boyfriend is that he had been missing for two months.  You can’t have a funeral or service when you don’t know if someone is dead or alive. You have to hope and pray and wait. And then when his body was found, it was so badly decomposed that it was shipped from coroner to coroner throughout the state, each one trying to determine the cause of death.  I don’t think any of us expected it to take so long and everyone was hoping to find out why he died.  To know for sure.  Maybe that would offer some closure. But alas, it came back unknown.  Almost 8 months after he was found and 10 months from when he died, his remains were finally released.  Perhaps there should have been a funeral then, but there wasn’t.  And it wasn’t my place to push.

My most vivid memory is the day after his body was found. I took the day off work and went to his mother’s house.  I sat with her as she made calls to friends and family and as she spoke with the local coroner about next steps.  We drank tea. We went for a walk and sat on a bench under the elm trees in a nearby park.  We shared stories with his grandfather, and we also sat in silence. So much silence.  Later in the evening, his aunt, uncle and cousin came by the house with dinner. We all sat out on the patio, trying to make sense of everything and watched the sun slowly slip below the horizon.  Spoke logically about next steps and reminisced on when he was a boy and all the things we’d wished for him.  I didn’t cry much that day. Perhaps the hours of crying the day before or the countless hours to come kept them at bay that day. Or perhaps it was too real.  I left feeling exhausted, but at peace.  It was nice to have the warm embrace of those that loved him and to share our sadness and confusion.

But that was the only time we gathered in his name.  Nothing formal was ever planned.  When his remains were released, they were divided among his family and his sister graciously offered me some as well.  So now I have this small packet of ashes to spread. And I don’t know what to do with him.  Selfishly, I want that damn ceremony with his friends and loved ones where we can laugh and cry and share stories until the wee hours of the morning.  But we don’t always get what we want.  And I suppose it’s fitting, since I never knew what to do with him when he was alive.  Makes sense I wouldn’t know what to do with him now.  Keep him close or let him go, free to dance on the wind and the waves.

I will never again take for granted the opportunity to grieve together.  To know what happened.  To have a large group of people that want to celebrate and mourn you and mark the end of your brilliant chapter on Earth.

And I don’t mean to sounds angry or resentful that he didn’t get a life celebration or memorial or funeral, I just mean to highlight how beneficial it is in the grieving process.  It helps to look it in the face, feel it in your bones and share the experience with others.  There is a reason you find these ceremonies in most cultures and civilizations across the globe and throughout the centuries. Major life events deserve to be acknowledged.  This was just too bizarre and too painful and unfolded in a way that made it easier to put off, and off, and off. And so the grieving has been long, and drawn out, and long.

sand

I normally tie my writing off with a nice little bow and “here is the takeaway”, but there really isn’t a nice bow on this.  It’s still not closed.  I still have his ashes on my shelf in a box that says Love, waiting to meet their final destination. Now where-oh-where do I take him?  Where-oh-where do I lay him to rest?  Where-oh-where do I choose to take my tiny piece of him and say goodbye, in my own to-be-determined ceremony of my own?

This is life.

Beautiful. Messy. Real.

Yours truly,

Miss Erin Terese

 

 

 

 

Ghosts of He

Not while we dined, but long after she told me, I thought of him, snuggled by his mother – his little hands in hers, holding them tight while she cried, both of them seated on the couch.

There was an afghan crumpled at the foot, which he spied out of the corner of his eye. He slid off the couch, plumped a pillow for which she could lay her head and motioned for her to lie down. Bending her knees as she did, he placed his palms on the back of her calf and guided her legs into a straightened position, better for her to rest and relax.  Then, grabbing the blanket, he pulled the worn and faded corners over her body. Almost as if he were tucking her in at night, he wrapped the ends tightly around her shoulders, thighs and feet, so that she looked like a newborn in swaddling.

In that moment, he placed his hands on her face and looked into her eyes.  Sweeping the hair from her brow and tucking it behind her ear, she remembers the weight of that moment.  In his death, those moments of innocence seem swept away, and I can see where it weighs heavily on her.

Without that memory she so graciously shared, I had loved him and would love him anyway – but folded with the gestures of care and comfort, his light shone even greater.

As he gazed into her eyes, wiping away the final wisp of hair stuck to her dampened forehead, she said “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.” His response came ever so sweetly, past his little boy lips, “It’s okay, Mom.  Just please don’t do it again.”

Our coffee mugs were dark that morning, with grounds in the bottom we hardly noticed were there. The bitterness of each sip, rested hot and heavy on our tongues and burned on the way down.  His sudden death lingered for us both and served to bring us to this table.  “What was he like when he was a boy?” I asked. “He was so sweet,” she said, “sweeter than I deserved.”

*note from Miss Erin Terese*

P.S.  The short story above is the third piece I have written for a 10 week Writers Workshop I am participating in.  The exercise was to pick a mood and depict the feelings through the action (and scene) of someone else. The primary goal is to reveal the narrator and get a feeling without having to tell it.

In the interest of growing in my writing technique, style and tone, I will be sharing my pieces here.

I hope you enjoy!  xo

Dearest Poet of the North

Dearest Poet of the North,

There have been several occasions whereby you have single-paragraphedly saved my life.  In order for you to be properly acquainted with myself, you ought to be aware of the circumstances leading up to where your words found me.

My humble upbringing and lack of any real culture or exposure, never seemed just.  How was I born into such conditions, with uncivilized creatures that know no taste beyond that of fried animals and music fit for the back of a mud-laden pickup up truck?

Fleeing the shambles of the unfortunate existence I was forced to endure, in a life of full of strangers, I made my way to California by way of an Amtrak train. Exhausted from a lifetime of trivial conversation, commands from large sweaty men claiming to know best, and completely emaciated and malnourished due to the aforementioned culinary fare which you could hardly expect me to consume – I arrived in the Golden State as a dark shadow – a mere speck of the light you know we are to emanate.

My sore eyes could hardly keep lift.  Should there have been toothpicks in my purse, I quite literally would have shoved them in my eyelids to prop them open.  But with lack of toothpicks or a phone to dial, I sat down in the bustling train depot, shoved my worn leather bag with a poorly sewn, mismatched patch, against the wall, and rested my weary legs not-so-gracefully on the floor.

Hours later, I awoke to a pair of workman boots with faded yellow laces, standing harshly next to my drool soaked cheek, pressed sadly against the cold tile floor. The boots shuffled away, and as they did, a piece of paper drifted my way, with your words written on it.  They found me.  I read them, relished them, folded them neatly in my wallet and propelled myself into the night, fueled by the sentiment.

One month later, faring no better, I kept your words with me where I went.  I took shade under the elm trees, and drifted off with your syllables dancing around my head, like sugar plum fairies coming to grant me a wish.  This time when I awoke, it was to the loud voice of a man, growling in his throat, asking if I was okay.  Sensing I was in need, he opened his home to me, bathed me in a porcelain tub with clawed feet and handed me a robe. Wanting more than anything to believe this was an act of concern, I smiled – but his dark eyes and musky scent suggested otherwise. But, from your words, I drew my strength.

In exchange for his “kindness”, I gave him my body.  When he finished, I clamored off his hairy chest, his lungs full of lies, of desire to help, so that I may write to you, my Poet of the North.  Your words brought me here, to this fortress of marble and gold coated artwork.  And by your words, I know it’s not long before we meet. Each word in your poem speaks to me and nourishes me like light for the blind. I know now, by the words you shared and the way they found me, that you meant them for me – and that I am being led to you.  A leaf on the wind and shining fallen star, heading your way.

Until we meet,

Yours

 

*note from Miss Erin Terese*

P.S.  The letter above is the first piece I have written for a 10 week Writers Workshop I am participating in.  The exercise was to create a first person persona narrator in an addled and/or altered psychological state who is writing a letter to someone he or she admires – using a formal tone.

In the interest of growing in my writing technique, style and tone, I will be sharing my pieces here.  They will all be fictional, so don’t be too worried thinking the scenes are true to my life (for those that know me personally).

I hope you enjoy!  xo