Taking a Beauty Break

ALL IT TOOK was this:

I got a haircut.

I climbed a tree.

I lay down at the end of a dock in the middle of a pond on a warm sunny day and stared up into the blue and white accordion sky. An osprey flew over, then another.

I walked on the beach. I crouched in the lee of a tall dune, closed my eyes, and listened only to the surf rolling in and rolling out.

My best friend and her husband came to visit us for the weekend. We walked for miles. We climbed to the top of a big rock. We climbed to the bottom of a rickety beach stair.

We ate extravagant pastries and freshly baked bagels and charcuterie from the North End. We grilled swordfish, baked chocolate chip cookies. Listened to music, sat on the couch, looked at photographs, walked the dogs.  

My peas came up. My radishes sprouted. Three little chrysanthemums arrived in the mail.

The wild blueberry bushes came to life in the woods, hundreds and thousands of tiny blush-colored bell-shaped blossoms popping out against a tedious sea of brown decaying oak leaves. Overnight, the grass in the hay fields grew a foot tall and turned the color of a leprechaun’s top hat. 

I planted 72 zinnia seeds in six-packs and plopped them on the heating mat.  

I picked cream-colored daffodils and shy pink hellebores and arranged them in green glass bottles.

I talked to my sister. She sent me a photo of her new red sneakers.

I called my Dad. He told me what he cooked for dinner.

I took a nap.

Just like that, I felt better – lighter, saner, happier.  

It’s not so hard, really, to lean into the things that bring me serenity, if only I will listen to what I need. If only I will avoid obfuscating the obvious: that I need fresh air, and lots of it. I need to get out of myself and out of my desk chair, to be with people that I love, relaxing and enjoying life. I need to break up my work day with acts of joy, no matter how simple.

If I work all the time, I will go crazy. A few weeks back, I was mired in deadlines, feeling like a gerbil running on one of those spinning wheels – on Groundhog Day, no less. Not this again! Another day, another deadline.

But the universe intervened to offer me a break, to open up the space and time for our friends to come visit, and that was a boost of the first order. I got to see the beauty of my Island home through their eyes. It’s embarrassing that I could forget for even a minute that I live in a truly beautiful place, and that I can access that beauty literally any time I want. Oy, that just blows me away.

If I am feeling like my head is going to explode, all I have to do is walk outside. Even when I’m in the office in downtown Edgartown, I can walk out the door, down the tree-lined street two blocks, and be looking over a white cap-rail fence at the harbor, sparkling in the midday sun. If it is noon, the Federated Church bells will be ringing. Soon all the village fences will be covered with the blooms and leafed-out canes of climbing roses or obscured by the blousy blue blossoms of mophead hydrangeas.

If I am working at home, Farmer and I can do a garden check in the morning. This week I will inspect the Black Parrot tulips frequently as they begin to unfurl their gargoylian petals.

I will peek under the cool canopy of rhubarb leaves to see whether any fairies are dancing in that little forest of pink stalks beneath them. I will thin the lettuce beds and keep the extra seedlings for salad. I might give the peas a pep talk.

At noon, Farmer and I will go back outside for a brief sunbath – he on the cool moss, me lying flat on a deck bench.

In the evenings, I will walk with my husband down to the big field, where I’ll listen to the birdsong in the hedgerows and watch the peach sky bloom behind a distant herd of deer. I’ll pluck wild field pansies growing amidst patches of clover and wild strawberries and bring them home to float in a dish of water on the windowsill.

And I’ll call my Dad.

se·ren·i·ty /sə-ˈre-nə-tē/
noun: serenity 

  1. the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.


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4 thoughts on “Taking a Beauty Break”

  1. So true. Something we all need to remember. Actually, no matter where we live. Ten minutes by the sea or under the canopy of a forest, or even sitting on a rock at a local park, that time is precious!
    Thank you, Susie!

  2. Thank you again for another beautiful post. We do forget to embrace those thing that are pure and simple. I sit at my desk day in day out spining like that gerbil trying to stay ahead of the game. Thank you for the reminder to take time.

  3. Helen — that gerbil wheel, oy! So hard to get off of it sometimes. And the desk chair has a magnet in it, I swear. Thanks for being in touch.

  4. Hi Jeanna, and yes, you’re right — the beauty can be just about anywhere if you’re looking for it (which I know YOU are!) xo Susie

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