My latest pet sit in Venice Beach, California, last week, was filled with four days of rest, reading, writing, movie watching on Netflix, beach walks and reconnection with myself. Mimi, a 5 lb. Maltese tea-cup, was my companion on morning walks of listening to the sounds on the beach. Seagulls with their huoh-huoh-huoh, choking call. The man with his guitar singing Bob Dylan songs, “How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man? . . . The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” Passing the new Starbucks on the boardwalk there is a throng of people protesting corporate America taking over the independent locally grown coffee shops. Venice beach is like a blast from the past. It feels like the 60’s and 70’s. Make love, not war. Free spirits. Strong voices. Alternate lifestyles. Art. Dream. Be You!
In addition to the sand, sea and seagulls, I notice the people I pass on my walk
*A woman with hoop earrings, a long skirt and shawl, holding a toddler, sitting on the sidewalk with her sign saying they are hungry, and could anyone spare a $1 for food.
*A man dressed in bright green scrubs, with a marijuana leaf print, inviting you into the Medical Marijuana Clinic.
*I hear a brief conversation from a man jogging by, plugged into earbuds, “If we move the bed to the west side of the room, we will have room for the new dresser. I’ll be home in 30 minutes”
*A woman exclaims, “Oh, she’s so cute.” Mimi thinks that is her name, she hears it so much on our walk. This 5 lb, white, fluffy doggie IS cute!
*A toddler in a stroller, points and calls out, “Dog, dog, dog.”
*I notice a sign from one of the artists, “No photos allowed without purchase.” A reminder that the artist is protecting her livelihood and setting a boundary. This is how she supports herself.
Craving lunch on one of my afternoon walks, I opt for the small food stall with a hand-made sign advertising tacos. After I order the pollo taco, the man disappears behind the sign into a tiny kitchen. I wait with my mouth watering from the smells of garlic, onion, cumin and chili powder. He hands me two, steaming hot tacos on a paper plate.
In the evenings, I inhale inspiration from film on Netflix. Every night a different theme: Feminism in the 70’s: Women fighting for equal rights and equal pay. Dancing to Taylor Swift’s concert: Reputation. Thinking about how she went to court this year to testify against a man who had sexually assaulted her. #metoo. On Netflix, she is a woman with a commanding stage presence. One night, I watched films about the AIDS epidemic and the leadership that emerged from individuals who stood up to the government and drug companies. Finally, on the last night, foreign films with subtitles: films from Nigeria and Mexico, feeling other cultures and languages.
On my last morning, I reflected on the weather of the four days. Days One and Two were a mixture of stillness and aliveness. Calm ocean. Restaurants, boardwalk and beach filled with people who were still on vacation after The New Year. Day Three: The clouds rolled in with an increase of wind and a prediction of rain. I walked an almost deserted boardwalk with shop owners bringing in chairs and merchandise and boarding up windows. On the final morning, the air was crisp and clean. The sun was shining brightly. The ocean roared with waves. Shop owners opening up for business and clearing the debris from palm tree leaves and trash. People returning to jog, ride bikes, do yoga on the beach and enjoy nature.
As I walked on that final morning by myself, I chose a seat on the sand at the water’s edge watching the tide roll in and the waves coming closer and closer to my feet. I remembered the many times I have been on this beach, at this time of year, pondering what is next. In 2010, I spent a day walking on the boardwalk and napping on the beach as I prepared for the final radio show of that holiday season. Show 44: A Summary of 44 days of Grief Transformation. I was asking, God, Spirit, the Universe, what’s next? A few days later, I sent an application to the State of California to register, “Heal My Voice,” as a non-profit organization. This stretch of land has birthed many dreams and ideas. I wonder as I wander on the beach this year, what will I learn and discover in 2019? I pass a man who is offering “shitty advice” for $1. I laugh out loud. I know I don’t need that. I have cultivated inner guidance. The answers are within.
There is one thing, I do know. I am curious and open to what is to come in 2019. With one last deep breath, I feel the ocean and gratitude for this space. I’m alive! #mylifeisanartistdate
If you want to explore writing as a process or you are working on a book or developing a program, the next Writing Incubator begins on April 1 with early bird pricing until February 1. Check it out! You don’t have to do it alone.
Andrea Hylen believes in the power of our voices to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, an organization that inspires women to heal a story, reclaim personal power and step into greater leadership and the Writing Incubator, an on-line writing community with writing prompts and writing labs, for women. She is author of Heal My Voice: An Evolutionary Woman’s Journey.
Andrea discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to live life fully after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She follows her intuition as she collaborates with women and men in organizations and travels around the world speaking, teaching and leading workshops. Her passion is authentically living life and coaching others to do the same. To connect with Andrea and learn about coaching, current projects and on-line writing circles go to: www.andreahylen.com and www.healmyvoice.org.