31 December 2012

Swept away, 2012

Sea Bright Beach
It's December 31, 2012, and I've been a lazy blogger. My intention was to get up a post before the end of the night.

This year has been full of changes, great and small. A teacher once told me that if you say you haven't changed, you haven't been paying attention. 

I put up this photo because I took it on Sea Bright beach the last time I visited home, in May. Since then, this beach and most everything around it has been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. I'm so thankful that none of my friends or family members were physically harmed. I'm sad to consider how many people have lost homes, businesses and sense of place. There have been efforts by many individuals and groups to support the folks in Sea Bright and other areas that were hard hit. I've looked at photos and watched videos and talk to people regularly. It's hard to explain the emotional effect it's had on me. I didn't think I would be so troubled by it, but I am. NJ is my home. The last time I lived there, I taught at the beautiful Brahma Yoga Spa and lived in Highlands. I grew up on the beach, played on the boardwalks, hung out at the surf shop, ate at Harry's and, yes, drank at Donovan's (in the old days). Most people went to camp, we went to the beach ... nearly every day, in every season. It's where I went to breathe the day my dad died in 2001.

Speaking of dads, Jay's wonderful father, Mike McLaughlin, left us this year - just before Thanksgiving. This also hit me hard. Maybe because I know the pain of losing a father, but also because it felt so sudden. I feel very fortunate to have known this kind, gentle, humorous man. It was obvious to me that he had a very big heart and he showered that love on his lucky family and anyone else who would accept it. He'll be missed by many, many people.

There were also some great things that happened. I now share a lovely home with Jay (an heir to the aforementioned big heart), his two dogs and one cat:

Mackey, not impulsive

Turner, very silly

Dashing, aka "Dash"
Early on, Jackie, and I got to take a glamorous trip to Miami Beach, and I went to Santa Monica with Farzy (see earlier posts). For the first time ever, I experienced the Highland County Maple Festival with Jay and his trio of lovely, young nieces. I began teaching at Project Yoga Richmond and went for lots of walks along the James River. I bought (and rode) a bicycle - yay! Jay and I discovered some fun new restaurants in town. I heard wonderful live music, including Dr. John & The Blind Boys of Alabama at once! Also spent some good time at the VMFA, the most memorable at the current Chihuly exhibit. It's been a full, full year, and I haven't even mentioned work! I've also been writing a bit (though you'd never know it by reading this blog).

I'll finish by circling back to the beach. My friend Helen asked if I'd contribute a haiku to Clean Ocean Action. I was honored to have it used along with this beautiful photo taken by Ryan Struck on invitations to their fall benefit:
Liquid salt mirror
Unbreakable yet fragile
Please handle with care