Jennifer LaRue

I write it as I see it.

I haven’t blogged for more than two weeks. I hate that, but I’ve been working insane hours — and, when I’m not working at my “day” job, I’ve been assiduously tackling life tasks that had mounted into an enormous, daunting burden and become crushing and overwhelming, keeping me from thinking straight, behaving like a decent human being, and sleeping well at night. I won’t go into detail, but the number of financial, logistical, and emotional challenges I’ve stared down and conquered in the past three weeks feels like more than I’d handled before in my whole life, at least in such a short bit of time. But now it’s mostly done, and I feel stronger and more secure than ever.

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For years my go-to anxiety dream has been a variation (and you wouldn’t BELIEVE the detailed, colorful, and convincing variations my subconscious mind conjures up!) on this theme: It’s time to leave our beach vacation, my companions/family are loading our vehicle to go home, and I realize, stricken, that in the entire week we’ve been there, I haven’t managed to get down to the beach or swim in the ocean. I try and try and try to remedy that, but I’m met with obstacle after obstacle. If it weren’t such a sad and worrisome panic each time, the vivid images and scenes my brain delivers might seem fascinating and entertaining. But in fact this is just my personal horror show. Every time I have this dream, I wake up sad and shaken, and it always takes time, and coffee, to steady myself.

This year, as I have mentioned, I decided not to venture to my beloved Ocean City, Maryland, for my equally beloved Jeep Week vacation in August. I’ve been being so careful since March, I just couldn’t see throwing caution to the wind. It made me sad, but I recognize that when it comes to COVID-19-related losses, mine was pretty minor.

The other night I completed a financial transaction that had been worrying me for months; it turned out just fine, as things you over-worry about tend to do. I listened to some music, danced around my living room, cuddled my cat, read for a while (Own Your Anxiety by Julian Brass; highly recommended!), and turned in for the night.

And the most miraculous miracle ensued.

The dream started the way it always does. But this time, I actually was able to make my way down to the beach. This beach, though, was more like a murky lake; the waters were dark and still, and there were mossy rocks and no sand. The mood among the beach-goers was subdued. Still, I asked a little girl who was hanging out with her family on the sloping shore if she would watch my beach towel, and I slipped into the slimy water. This was the beach I’d been given, and swimming in it was better than missing out altogether.

But as I splashed around, I discovered that there were different beaches up and down the shoreline. I left the brackish water in which I bathed and walked up the slope, then walked north until I came upon a white-sanded path that led to a sparkling shore and even more-sparkling ocean water, where waves crashed cheerfully, the sunlight picking highlights off each crest. I sprinted, dropping my towel ….

…and for the first time in decades, my customary, frustrating, stress-driven beach dream ended happily, with me frolicking in the surf, smiling so hard it hurt.

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Helen Reddy died this week. What a loss. I honestly didn’t and don’t know a lot about her, but, my goodness, has her “I Am Woman” ever been my anthem during the past few liberated, and liberating, years of my life. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman.

Reddy’s death and my finally satisfying beach dream occurred on the same day.

I don’t believe in coincidence. The universe? It knows what it’s doing.

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