Finding Serenity in a Chaotic World

McWay Waterfall along CA HWY 1
McWay Waterfall along CA HWY 1

Recently I was able to visit McWay Falls in California, a rare “tidefall” which is only visible from a footpath at the edge of California Highway 1. This waterfall tumbles from steep cliffs onto a small beach washed by aqua-blue water. I couldn’t help thinking as I looked at it, how wonderful it would be to rest on that beach or to walk under the waterfall. I looked for a path down but it became quickly evident it was only accessible by water.

I have been reflecting on the importance of serenity, for some time, especially in our chaotic world. I started thinking about McWay Falls: a private beach and waterfall paradise. What I did not mention about McWay Falls was the crowd of people who clamored at the edge of the cliffs to take pictures of this beautiful sight. Similar to the crowd on those cliffs, I think there are a lot of people wanting to experience serenity in life only to find it seemingly inaccessable.

serenity

Like every human I’ve had many days where I have experienced stress. I had an experience a few years ago that made me realize I needed some serenity in order to be a healthy mom and human. I was busy with a big project at work when I received a phone call from the school principal. One of my kids had gotten in enough trouble that it required a meeting with me and the school principle. After the meeting with the principal, I dropped my teen off at the house, ran to the store to figure out dinner, then rushed back home to cook dinner. After eating, my husband and I started cleaning up and helping with homework. Homework involved two hours of Math, class projects, and tears. Eventually I escaped to the backyard, where I often retreat, to watch the sunset in peace. About the time I settled into my adirondack chair with my ice tea in hand, a police helicopter starting circling. I remember looking up and thinking “really?” That was the moment I began my quest to find the elusive serenity in my chaotic world.

During my quest I realized I was stuffing every down moment with answering emails, texts, and browsing social media on my all efficient smart phone. Not only was I busy with work and children, I wasn’t taking any time to relax and recharge. I started to take small steps in changing my habits. At first I was uncomfortable because I felt unproductive if I wasn’t filling every moment with action. I started with small steps which you will see below. I’m hoping to provide a boat today for you to find your way to the inaccessable beach.

  1. Enjoy morning coffee without my phone or tv. This is often done on the back porch where I enjoy watching the clouds or small wildlife that venture into the yard.
  2. Stand in check-out lines with my phone in my purse. This was very uncomfortable at first. I ended up seeing a few friends I would have missed if I had been on my phone, or I would simply enjoy a moment free from texts. Standing in line without the phone was an easy way to grab a peaceful moment in a busy day, and (as the mother of 4 teens) I stand in grocery lines often.
  3. Watch the sunset every night the weather permits. It’s easy to let a day go by where you never get outside except to walk from a building to a car. Going outside to watch the sunset reminds me how big the world is and how big God is. My problems or stress become small. Not only did God make this world, he made it beautiful like maybe he wanted us to enjoy it.
  4. Take a nap on my day off from work. Again it’s easy to think this is unproductive but resting will recharge your brain and your energy. On days I cannot fall asleep I lay down and read a book.
  5. Zen doodle or grown up coloring. I have always enjoyed doodling, I find it helps with my memory retention and creativity. I took to Pinterest this year to learn zen doodling. Here’s a link to my board. Tina’s doodle art board on Pinterest. You can also find coloring books online for grown up coloring. Don’t laugh, this has become such a big trend that these coloring books are often out of stock. Here are some zen doodle I drew which you can download and color. Please feel free to share your colored results to my email at tinadstephens@gmail.com.gypsywindDownload gypsywind pdf.underwaterDownload underwater .pdf
  6. Play the piano for fun. This applies to any hobby. Participate in something you enjoy not to learn something new, but to purely enjoy it. For me, playing the piano is very relaxing and enjoyable.
  7. Lie in a hammock outside and watch the clouds. 
  8. Sit in the grass on a blanket and read a book. 
  9. Take a walk or hike for fun, not fitness. I like to occassionally walk or hike when I can feel free to stop as often and as long as I want, to enjoy the scenery or a flower or some wildlife.
  10. Savor more memories to myself than the number of them I share on social media. I’m learning to take life in and savor it just for me or just for my family. As soon as I share it on social media I’m waiting for ‘likes’ or opinions. It’s good to keep some things in my heart where it can continue to warm my soul. I know that was really cheesy but I think you know what I mean.

10. Yoga or Holy Yoga. Stress can make your muscles knot up which can cause back and neck pain. Yoga is a great way to stretch and relax and it increases balance. Holy yoga accomplishs this while listening to relaxing christian music and to scripture being read. Here is the facebook page of a local holy yoga instructor whom I recommend. Holy Yoga instructor in Scottsdale.

That’s it for this Friday. Enjoy your weekend and find time for serenity in your life.  Go ahead, get on that boat and float to your deserted beach; you will be better for it (and so will your family).

Tina Stephens

author of The Common Hours, available on Amazon.com

-the photo I took above of McWay Falls can be downloaded as a computer desktop background to remind you about serentiy-

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