Finding My Balance Again: Christmas in Gulf Shores

What do you do when life becomes overwhelming? When there is more chaos than order in your day to day existence? When you seem to spend the hours fighting the incoming, at all cost and in the interest of pure survival? When you spend so much time fighting that you lose focus of what you are fighting for? When fighting becomes your only option and retreat is but a whiff of smoke floating on the breeze?

I suppose for some people they lose the ability to know when they are at their wits’ end, or at least when they are approaching that point. They get so close to the end before they realize they are trapped, cornered. They get so close that they lose themselves, their identity, their purpose, their dreams.

Too close and they risk destruction.

Destruction as an explosion, where they destroy themselves and others.

Destruction as a collapse or an implosion, where they destroy themselves.

Both scenarios result in destruction of self.

Like a fast moving train approaching a wall, whether it gets derailed or not. If that train, doesn’t slow down to a stop so it can redirect away from the wall, that train will hit that wall. That impact will result in many charred and unrecognizable pieces. Depending on the speed of the approach, and the velocity of the impact, those pieces might be salvaged but will never be used to reassemble the train, the wall, or the surrounding scene.

Maybe I am one of the lucky ones if only because I learned, early on, when to know I am approaching that wall, no matter what my speed of approach.

When I see the wall looming, I check my speed. Then I find a corner, somewhere away from my everyday life, and I retreat to it. I shut everything out. It is the only way to look inside myself, to reach down deep, talk to God, and find me and my purpose again.

The corners I have chosen in the past are places I have never visited before, that are within driving distance, or a short flight, from home. The best corners are those that are near a large body of water, preferably the ocean. The ocean and the surf have always soothed me.

This year, my chosen corner is Gulf Shores, Alabama. DSCF1576

I won’t bore you with the details of arriving after dark, despite my best efforts not to, and not being able to find the condo using directions from GoogleMaps

Suffice it to say that I ultimately made it and am safely ensconced in my condo on the beach. I am the only inhabitant of the entire building; in fact, this warranted an impromptu visit from the local police as I sat in the parking lot underneath the building. The policeman was unaware that they were still renting the units. I assured him that they are and implored him to keep a watch on my building as he paroles the streets. He promised he would.

This morning, after trying to sleep in late, I got comfortable in my cream-colored Kia Soll (yes, the hamster car) and went exploring.

IMG_0360Gulf Shores is a typical beach town. During this time of year, even along the warm Gulf, it is mostly deserted. Lots of high-rise condominiums hogging the shoreline, mom-n-pop package and convenience stores, seafood shops and restaurants galore, and about a dozen supermarkets.

The highlight of my explorations today was the colorful and varied bungalows snuggled in between the condos and lining the other side of the main beach thoroughfare.DSCF1584

All of the bungalows, and even the high-rise condos, are named. I suppose this makes it easier to differentiate them and gives them each their own personality.  Some of them had whimsical plaques affixed to the front.DSCF1587

DSCF1583DSCF1581

I traversed much of the island. Along the way I stopped at Lartigue’s Seafood Market to pick up dinner for tonight: boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce, stuffed crabs, and something called a crab potato…a local specialty.

Plan for tomorrow…going to hit the beach, unless I get a craving for it before then!

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