There is a theme throughout my next book I refer to and it is what beaches have represented in my life. I grew up as a baby playing on the shores of beaches. Every summer since I was one year old has been spent in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Throughout my childhood I would go visit my great grandma who lived on Lake Cora in Michigan. For many years as a child starting around 5 years old my entire family would pack up for a camping trip to the Warren Dunes in Michigan. We would have campfires, grill, and sleep in tents at our campground. I remember running through the creeks with my sisters and cousins chasing frogs. Then we would spend hours each day we were there climbing the large sand dunes to reach to the top. The hot sand would burn against our feet if we did not have shoes on. I remember clearly losing my shoes in the sand one summer when they became buried as I tried to climb to the top. Once we reach the top the view was incredible. You could see Lake Michigan as the waves crashed on shore, trees for miles, or many more sand dunes with trails leading to others. Once we would reach the top of the sand dunes I would either race down them with my sisters and cousins or we would roll down them. I remember just rolling in sand and by the time I stopped I would be covered head to toe in sand. When we were not climbing sand dunes we laid out by the beach building sand castles or digging a deep hole with my sisters and cousin Gabe. I clearly remember trying to bury Gabe in the huge hole. The beach throughout my childhood whether it was at the dunes in Michigan or in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin has always been a place that brought out the innocence of my childhood I hold onto deeply. A place of peace and security in my life. I enjoyed the beach so much as a child even when I was not there it was the first place that popped up my head as a child when I needed to escape a traumatic event I would visually place myself on the security of a beach to block out the pain I endured. It is one thing in surviving childhood sexual abuse that actually worked for me. Removing myself not physically from a room of horror but instead mentally to a place that was safe and that was on a beach in sunlight with the sound of waves near by.
It has been since I was about 8 years old that I last returned to the Warren Dunes in Michigan. This weekend with a group of friends from church I returned for a perfect day. Immediately when we arrived so much came flooding back to me. From climbing the dunes, watching children roll down them and remember how I did the same thing with my sisters and cousins. I cannot describe the feeling of joy that comes over me when I can be flooded with such positive memories from my childhood. Memories like this I welcome at any time. They are the memories that make me smile and remind me of such wonderful happy times in my childhood. Memories of feeling like I was on top of the world when I would reach the top of the sand dunes.
The entire experience of the day I spent at the Warren Dunes in Michigan was incredible. While the people I was with knew this was a place that I used to go to as a child they did not know how much I held onto such joy the beach and dunes brought me. I remember standing at the top of one of the dunes this weekend and stopping to reflect on remember the last time I was on top of that sand dune. I was just a young child and as I looked to the bottom of the dune that seemed to take forever to climb to the top of it reminded me of the transformation my life has taken me to get to the top on the dunes in my own life. Starting at the bottom and looking up seems so difficult and you wish there was an easier way up. It is the same way I have looked at the healing I have gone through in my life. Remembering being at the bottom and just wishing to be at the top and conquer the pain I felt I was drowning in. It was as if I was pulled out in the middle of the lake struggling to get to the shore when I finally made it to shore it was a battle to stay ashore and not pulled back out. That is when I made the decision to push forward and make it to the top of the dunes that were placed in front of me in my life. To overcome the hurdles I have faced. As you can see how the theme of the beach has played throughout my life and how I use it to explain my healing process. Now to put these words into images to give you an idea of just what I am talking about.
I look forward to the day I have my own children I can take to Michigan Warren Dunes.
My mom and I in the back my aunt and cousin in front.
My mom and I in the dunes
Myself, Aunt, older sister, cousin
Cannot help but laugh at the look on my face!
Sand, Lake, Blue Sky, Sun…does not get better then this!