Jennifer McBride's

Touching the Trees Journal

Last week I posted the first two parts of a 4-part Living Up series. Part 1 was about waking up to the idea that sometimes your life needs a change. Part 2 was about looking up and seeing what's really going on in your world. Welcome to Part 3: showing up.

A path that showed me the way

Showing up can mean a few different things within the framework of Living Up. It can mean listening to your intuition. It can mean participating fully in a relationship. It can mean making your personal version of healthy choices. Showing up is any type of affirmative action or decision-making that acknowledges you're ready to move forward. And, sometimes, showing up means letting go of past fears (the ones that keep us rooted in place) and welcoming a new path.

For the past year, Huck and I have talked about moving in together. It started out as a joking wistfulness, like "Huh, I could stand having you around all the time." But when the talk got more serious, I got more skittish. I'd only been divorced for a year and a half and could list a whole bunch of reasons why I wasn't ready...I wanted to finish my books, make my house "mine," spend 40 more nights alone in bed, make sure the kids were okay with it, etc. I was fairly sure I couldn't do any of those things if I shifted back into the same kind of supportive role I'd had for the previous 20 years. More importantly, I was fairly sure I would shift right back into that role if he moved in with me...not because he would expect it, but because it might be all I knew how to do.

Then we went on our un-eymoon and I felt the unmistakable click of a new way of thinking.

Huck's and my vacation included a 25-minute, 10-person flight over the eastern edge of Puerto Rico, above a short expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and onto the island of Vieques. (Frankly, the first step I took toward showing up was getting on that tiny flyer!) Vieques is relatively small, at roughly 20 miles long and 4 miles wide, and known for being a Navy bombing site turned beach paradise. Part of our trip to Vieques included a plan to see as many of the beaches as possible in four days. 

View from Pilot Bob's puddle jumper

The first full day we were on the island, Huck and I got up early, donned swimsuits, sunscreen and t-shirts, took the top off our rental Jeep, and set off on our first adventure--a trip up the southeastern edge of the island to see all the beaches listed on our completely-not-to-scale tourist map.

Here's how we got to our first beach: We turned right at the comida (after loading up on ice, water, diet soda, fried plantains, and Medalla Light). Then we turned right at the blue bus (a deserted, weed-overtaken vehicle whose most recent previous life was as a roadside cafe named "Sol Food"). We followed that unnamed road until the pavement and speed bumps gave way to dirt and bramble bushes. From there we had two choices--turn right to the boat launch or stay straight to Playuela Garcia, the first beach on our plan. We turned right and found this:

The boat launch

It was Puerto Ferro, a bay into which the fishermen could launch their john-boats. It wasn't quite the beach we were looking for, but was magnificent in its solitary, crystalline beauty.

When we left Puerto Ferro we turned right, down the dirt road that led to Playuela Garcia. At the end, there was one other car parked at the beginning of a wide path from which cars were prohibited. Huck and I figured we wouldn't be there long, since we had so many other beaches to find, so we just hopped out of the Jeep, leaving our cold sodas, map, and main camera behind.

We began walking. We held hands. We talked about how beautiful the boat launch had been. We walked some more. Then some more. Then even more. At one point Huck stopped and asked, "Should we just turn around?"

I thought about it and said, "No, I can hear the ocean, I think. Plus we've come so far already..." We made a decision to keep going. Eventually, the sound of the surf became distinctly louder and we saw this secondary path:

It was this path that led us to the most perfect beach we saw all day:

Playuela Garcia

What made this beach perfect wasn't the rocks, the driftwood, or the privacy. It was that we worked, much harder than we anticipated, to get there and, other car notwithstanding, were alone together. (Well, not quite alone. I'm pretty sure it was us and Mother Nature. In retrospect, I wonder if that was Mother Nature's beaten-up, dusty Suburu wagon we parked next to.)

The reward for our decision to show up was that we got to experience beauty and natural wonder in a near-perfect setting.

Like our meandering, slow-paced walk to the beach, Huck's and my relationship has had those moments when we've asked, "Should we turn around now?" "Should we cut our losses and get back to the comfort of cold diet soda and an easier path?" Or should we keep going and see where this path, sometimes spiked with brambles, takes us? 

The brambles on our path

In our talk about moving in together, I've gotten stuck on all the brambles and "buts":
But I'm not done with x, y, and z...but I haven't reached this goal or that milestone...and, but what if it doesn't work out? On that beach, though, at 9:30 in the morning, when it was just us at the altar of the Caribbean Sea and under the watchful eye of the sun, I knew it was time.

That day, Huck had been willing to continue at my pace, on my plan, and on faith that we would get to where we wanted to be. And, I realized he'd been doing it all along. I didn't have to worry about slipping into my old way of being anymore, because I wasn't there anymore...not that person and not in that situation.

It was the push I needed to finally let go of my worries and turned an open eye to the future. I showed up to my new life with Huck. It was moving day.

How can you show up in your own life? What changes are you preparing for? What decisions can you make that will help you participate more fully in your life?

Next "Up": Standing up is acting on the decisions we make when we show up.

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