Come Friday evening, I will officially be a St. Augustine resident.
The very same day I posted about my pending living arrangements falling through requiring some rerouting of plans, a text message alerted my phone with an offer of another place to live. In that moment, I felt the giant monkey on my back climb off and watched him run around the room, jumping for joy (figuratively speaking).
With that particular monkey set free, I was able to spend the remainder of my week and a half back in St. Augustine feeling a bit more at ease, and focus my attention more fully on my company and my surroundings. One particular surrounding I’ve found myself gravitating toward in the evening hours, is Vilano Beach. Just north of St. Augustine, this location has become a prized spot to watch the sun set.
Typically, there is no one else out there during the evening hours, meaning uninterrupted run, catch and playtime with another kind of monkey—a fawn Doberman named Escher who has become dear to my heart.
MAINTAINING PEACE OF MIND
Despite playful beach times, magnificent sunsets, prayers answered and things falling into place for the move, with the feelings of upheaval that surround any major change, plus my spending quite a bit of time visually soaking up the terror of what is going on in the world right now, peace of mind is something that’s been especially difficult for me to maintain lately.
I am naturally an over-thinker, and am wired to excessively analyze. On the one hand, I consider my mind’s tendencies as a blessing because it enables me to foster a deep level of hypersensitivity, imagination, intuition and introspection that are wound into the core of my being and innately poured into my writing and any other creative-based endeavor. On the other hand, if I don’t manage my mind appropriately, it can get the best of me. The struggle for me has always been achieving balance and regaining peace of mind once my mind becomes overloaded.
I notice peace of mind is at a high for me when I’m regularly practicing yoga, and actively seeking a place of existence where I am in tune with my spirit—a place of mindful calm. I often experience this same mindful calm while running. For me, mindfulness during running is less about zoning out, and more about zoning in on my breathing, my steps, my experience, and my struggle. Since running is largely a mental exercise, I like to think of it as a practice in mind control. In running, your steps don’t control you. It’s up to you to make each step purposeful and controlled. It’s up to you and your heart to tell your mind to tell your legs to keep going strong. Ultimately, I’ve found the process of running can be applied to the management of thoughts, and help reset the mind.
THERE’S ALWAYS A MONKEY
No matter how blissful your life looks at any given point in time, there will always be a monkey. What I mean is, there will always be a weight to bear—be it light or heavy.
I’ve learned that some seasons in life will always bring about more trials and setbacks than others. There’s no golden ticket in life that makes things easy. Sure, there are distractions that seem to eliminate the difficulties, but in reality they are always there. It’s how you select to deal with them that dictates their toll on your peace of mind.
In all honesty, the best way I know to live is by trying my best to embrace the following practices: treat each day as an opportunity, face up to your monkeys, remain present in the moment, carry an optimistic spirt at all costs, choose love over all the many things that are out there to be fearful of and lose your mind over, try your hardest to not take the people (or experiences) you love for granted, pick yourself back up when you fall and get hurt (or when your actions cause someone else to fall and get hurt), forgive yourself for your shortcomings, pursue your passions even when the resources seem nonexistent and the odds are against you, and trust your struggle, no matter how hard things get.
I must admit, the fact that I am being granted the privilege of being alongside my love and best friend Andrew full-time come Friday, makes me more than excited. It doesn’t mean life magically gets easy. It doesn’t mean there won’t be any monkeys on our backs. It does mean we get to face whatever life may bring our way with full hearts, eyes ahead, and chins up—hand in hand.