Sunday, August 3, 2014

Coastal Bliss in Marblehead

Many of my teacher friends have expressed sadness that August has arrived, bringing the beginning of a new school year closer in sight. However, I am certain there's still plenty of room for summer magic.

I woke up one recent morning knowing that I must get to the ocean, despite not having a plan for doing so. That very morning, I received an invitation that set the wheels in motion and brought me to Marblehead, Massachusetts six days later. Call it post-retreat energy if you will (and I do), but I've found myself saying yes to opportunities and possibilities that arise. I've been yearning for new energy and movement that brings me into greater alignment with my soul's calling. Sometimes the yearning has tasted like a river of tears because I've wanted it that intensely. There's something deep inside me that seeks manifestation, and I am convinced that I cannot make it happen by doing the same old things. Instead of finding excuses to remain within the confines of my comfort zone, I'm engaging new energy. It's as if I'm sending out a signal - like a flower ready to be pollinated - and the Universe is responding magnificently. Because this time I mean it and will do whatever it takes!

So I set off solo for the coastal town of Marblehead with the intention of being inspired and creating an infrastructure for a new venture.

A friend whom I've known since childhood (when our families attended the same church), lives in Marblehead. Although we hadn't seen each other since high school when we were in jazz band together, circumstances brought us back into each others' orbit recently. His mom died a month after my mom, in the same hospice house, the same room, and even the same bed. Our moms knew each other, and his sister and I kept in contact as we traveled the anguishing path of caring for our very ill mothers. I held my two friends in my heart throughout our moms' final months, and knowing they were going through the same thing provided me with comfort and a sense of not being alone in this unfamiliar terrain. We continue to travel together as we adjust to the loss of our mothers, both of whom were such sweet, vibrant, and loving women.

So it felt right to travel to Marblehead for many reasons, including the thrill of a new landscape to photograph.

Marblehead Light Tower, Chandler Hovey Park

Not only did I have a friend to guide me around during my brief, barely 24-hour stay, but we also went to a book launch open house hosted by a local photographer who had just published a beautiful, coffee table style book of Marblehead images. I was interested in learning about the process he went through to publish his book - which was a wealth of information about both the process and the area.

With my gear in tow, we set out to see some sights and had hoped to be in a good location to catch a sunset but got delayed. When we returned to my friend's house, I planned to put my tripod in the trunk for the evening but then spotted an irresistible view right at the end of the street.

It was low tide, but it was good enough for me! Filled with peace and gratitude, I lingered in the stillness of the quiet harbor for as long as I could.

Although I wanted to get a good night's sleep to prepare for the long ride home the next day, my friend had mentioned that the sunrises are amazing, and I knew I couldn't resist getting up at an ungodly hour to take advantage of my one morning on the coast. The weather forecast was perfect for sunrise photography. Before falling asleep, I studied the photos in the book and knew that the author had fallen in love with his surroundings and come to know them just as I have come to know and love the river that runs by my door - the river that has awakened me to beauty all around, no matter where I am. So the book became my sunrise guide, and I mapped out a few locations to try in the morning. I was so excited that I barely could sleep!

At 4:50 a.m., I got up and headed for Crocker Park, which offers great views of Marblehead Harbor. I waited to catch the first glimpse of the sun on the horizon. It was huge and bright pink. Although I wasn't able to capture the deep pink hue of the early sunrise, these images were satisfying nonetheless.

Besides myself, there were just a few older people who were out for a morning walk (a.k.a. "the dawn patrol"). Everyone who passed by asked me (in a nearly reverent tone of voice) if I had photographed the sunrise, and one man told me it was the best sunrise all week.

I felt like I was riding a wave of positive energy which continued when I found this on a bathroom mirror. (I plan to pay it forward!)

Then I headed to Fort Sewall for more spectacular views of Marblehead Harbor.

If I had stayed longer, I could have gotten to know the nuances of the landscape better and fallen more deeply in love with it. To connect with the spirit and the light of a place is such an intimate joy. To know what angle of sunlight makes it come alive and tell its story. To know how it is affected by the tides. To discover the secret places and small details that are overshadowed by the more obvious features of the landscape once your eyes have adjusted.

Inspired by gorgeous photos of rocks and waves posted in online rock balancing communities, I longed to be on a beach with rocks that I could balance. My friend brought me to the perfect spot: Preston Beach right on the border of Marblehead and Swampscott.

A quiet beach visited by local residents, it offered a fantastic supply of rocks. I was too tired to concentrate on anything beyond basic rock stacking, but stacking the different colors, shapes, and textures yielded pleasing results that drew the attention of curious birds.

 As the tide rolled in and covered the whole beach except for the rocky area toward the back wall, I was alone on the beach photographing the waves and birds that threatened the stability of the stacked rocks but did not topple them. I love the imagery of balance amidst life's waves.

Marblehead provided me with the best photo sessions to date, and it took a long time to go through all the images and select my favorites. I wish I could have stayed another day to become better acquainted with this lovely coastal town, but I needed to return home.

However, making this trip drew upon the energy that has been building throughout the summer and unlocked something in me. I returned home on a wave of beautiful, exciting energy. It seems that saying yes is the key that unlocks the door of my self-imposed prison. Over the past few weeks, since returning from a spiritual retreat, I felt the door of that prison opening, and now I feel it has been burst open for good. My relationship to unsatisfying circumstances has changed, for the door is now open to greater freedom. The freedom has been ever-present, but it's the realization that makes the difference. As Glinda, the Good Witch said to Dorothy, "You had the power all along, my dear!" I'm glad to realize this while I'm still alive!

In his novel, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho wrote, "When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream." This is what seems to be happening, and I am rather amazed - and deeply grateful to those who are showing up to assist me.

This morning, I dreamed of a prison very close to me being closed all of a sudden because there no longer was a need for it. All the prisoners were released, and the prison was being transformed into something else. Later in the morning, I received a phone call out of the blue that paved the way for new opportunities and filled me with joy. I am beginning to believe that I can manifest my dreams.

I intend to continue meeting this wonderful, fresh energy with YES. It is an exciting experiment thus far! At times the energy feels so powerful, like high tide rolling in. However, I know I must maintain a daily practice of meditation, yoga, and exercise - a commitment I have made to myself to remain aware, balanced, and grounded.

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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