Remember my wall? I realised as I was looking at it the other day that there was still lots on the wall to be shared. So today, I’ll share not a quote but some of the photographs on the wall.
The picture there is of 2 pictures. The one on the left, my friend took of me just before I was about to attempt a cartwheel on the dunes of Balmedie Beach at sunrise on the Summer Solstice. The picture on the right, I took a few weeks later at the White Sands of Morar.
Beaches mean a lot to me, and I’m not entirely sure why. I can’t remember ever being on a beach and not being able to gain a sense of clarity over mixed up emotions or thoughts. They have always been a place where I feel most alive and a place where I feel more able to communicate with God.
During my years at university, I began a quirky tradition where I would always try to cartwheel down a beach (I have never once been able to properly cartwheel). In fact, that I know of, this is closest thing to a decent cartwheel I’ve ever done:
Balmedie Beach and the Sands of Morar have particular significance for me. Balmedie was about a 20 minute-ish drive from my flat in Aberdeen. There were times while I was a student where I felt such huge anger or stress and I needed a place to vent that was better than my previous tactic of taking sharp objects to my arms or stomach. So at night I would get in my car, put on my ‘angry’ music mix tape, drive to Balmedie, get out of the car, run up the sand dunes and yell my head off. Sometimes I’d just scream into the wind, the way some people scream into a pillow when they are frustrated. Other times I’d yell at God and tell Him exactly how I was feeling and why.
It feel good to let it all out.
Morar has a different kind of significance. The Lochaber area is where I went to hide from my exam results after I’d quit high school. At the time, I wasn’t sure what to do. I’d already decided against going to a boarding school to do A Levels. While I was there, I reaggravated an ongoing back injury I’d hidden from my dance teachers the previous term. When I had the abortion, I went back up there a few days after. I was feeling awful at the time, but somehow the peace gave me some kind of comfort. The day the picture was taken was several years later just after my graduation. Again I was feeling pretty bad from symptoms of (suspected) endometriosis, and was awaiting an appointment at the hospital for further testing. I’d been told a few months before that I probably would struggle to have children. Again, being in that area gave some kind of peace and comfort. It was like a place where I was able to get space from the normal everyday city life, think, reflect and gain some courage to go back and face things head on.
Now when I look at those pictures, I use them to help me imagine being back in those places.
Putting the emotions and thoughts out on the table.
Leaving the rubbish behind.
Coming back stronger.
And if you’ve never taken the time to cartwheel down a beach…trust me, you can’t do it without smiling. Even when you end up falling in the sand. Next time you find yourself on a beach, do/attempt a cartwheel…then let me know!