Last week, my family finally got to take our Michigan vacation. We wanted someplace cooler, less humid than the sauna back home in Bloomington, AND we wanted beach. We got our wish. Picturesque Saugatuck couldn't have been a more perfect place. Think artsy village shops on a river with a beautiful Lake Michigan beach literally around the bend. Think amazing summer art school (Ox Bow) where I'm now fantasizing we'll send Olivia in a few years, as well as be an artist-in-residence myself. Think lovely fresh water beach with soft sand.
Our first full day at the beach was interesting, however. It was quite windy, and there was a visible layer of blowing sand hovering at knee level which added some crunch to our tuna salad picnic. The surf relentlessly pounded the shore all day. Suddenly the "What To Do if You Get Caught in a Rip Current" sign posted at the concession stand became relevant. Nevertheless, my family and I cautiously joined the sizeable number of people playing in the water. The waves were fun to navigate, cresting and foaming, pulling us many yards down the beach from our entry point. I was the first to go and lay on my towel to catch my breath, sand stinging my body, wishing I had a beach chair. I told Trent to watch Olivia like a hawk My protective mother instincts intact, even after 13 years.
Later the evening news reported on the rip currents up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline that day. Some beaches closed due to the severity. People die in these things.
I've been thinking about that day at the beach ever since we got back home. The relentlessness and loss of control was an apt metaphor for my current experience with my professional life. In my effort to neutralize the uncertainty of a freelancer's income, I took on a part time job about 9 months ago. Ever since I took that job, it feels like my income streams have been pounding me like those waves. The illusory captain's wheel has been out of my hands, spinning of its own accord. While I've appreciated the abundance, I've been challenged to maintain it energetically. I've been short-tempered, negative, tired. Abundance doesn't feel so great when you are drowning.
I know there's something for me to learn in this experience (isn't there always?). Maybe it's time to learn how to direct the flow.
I'm not asking the flow to stop, I'm not even asking it to change, unless it wants to. What I'm asking (praying) for is the confidence to get a hold of the captain's wheel and direct my vessel through active waters. This might mean extending completion dates for some projects. This might mean taking a day off if I need to catch up. This might mean quoting a premium rate if I'm being asked to complete a rush job. If all else fails, this might mean saying no sometimes. The world won't stop if I say no.
Maybe I just need to follow the instructions on the sign:
If caught in a rip current:
- Don't fight the current
- Swim out of the current, then to shore
- If you can't escape, float or tread water
- If you need help, call or wave for assistance