Live Your Beach Life

By Lori Welch Brown

Live Your Beach Life

In 2018, XXL and I were able to realize our dream of purchasing a second home near the ocean. We love it.  I mean, what’s not to love about being 250 steps from waves breaking on the sand?

We are both native Alexandrians.  We love our city—especially Old Town and all the great destinations within our reach—Middleburg, Leesburg, Occoquan, the Chesapeake Bay, etc.  That being said, we have also grown tired of everything that comes with living in a heavily populated metropolitan area—traffic, politics, Costco, congestion and aggression.  Some days it feels like Migraine City. We are fortunate that we can now slip away to our beach retreat to get away from it all.

Like most of us when we go on vacation, my beach self is different from my home self.  The more miles I get under my belt, the more skin I begin to shed.  By the time my tires hit the causeway bridge, I’m a different person.  I’m more relaxed, calmer, and happier.  When it’s time to pack up and head home, my neurological pathways begin rewiring.  My mind begins processing a myriad of to do lists and tasks, and starts mixing an emotional cocktail of melancholy infused with a tad of anxiety.

Who isn’t sad leaving the beach? Ocean air, salt water and the sound of waves crashing is magical, but there had to be something I could do to transport my freer, happier self back home. I gave it some thought, and realized, yes — I am different, and there is something about the ocean air that is life changing. But, my routine is also different.  Maybe, just maybe, there were things I could replicate that might add a little daily joy to my life back home.

Hanging my laundry out to dry

Don’t laugh - I have a fully-functional dryer in both homes, but for whatever reason, I hang my laundry out on the line when I’m at the beach, and it makes me so frickin’ happy! It is a simple act that brings me so much pleasure. Not only do I love how my clothes smell and feel, but I love all the steps involved. Have you ever really looked at a clothes pin? What a marvelous little invention.

Hack: Install a clothes line on my back deck.

Shell collecting

I love to walk along the beach and collect treasures. So many unique and beautiful shapes, colors and patterns. What it really boils down to is: a) I’m taking a lovely walk, and b) I’m living in the present moment. When I’m looking for shells, I’m not thinking about tax season, dad’s declining health or this month’s cell phone bill.

Hack: Schedule a morning or evening walk . Shake things up and find a nature trail to explore.

Mopping the floors

Confession—I don’t do a lot of the regular housecleaning at home as we have a lovely person who has been doing an amazing job of it for years.  What I’ve discovered in doing it at the beach is that some chores, such as mopping, have a meditative quality. I’ve always hated vacuuming, but hand me a mop and I’m all over it. I may be cleaning floors, but I’m actually cleaning my mind. Mr. Mop and I dance around to some Van Morrison and suddenly I’m transformed.

Hack: Invest in a good ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ mop.

Food shopping & meal planning

I’m not a big fan of grocery shopping so I try to buy as much as possible to get it all in one weekly haul. One trip means over spending and wasting food. When I’m at the beach, I shop at small ‘mom and pop’ shops and farmer’s markets. I’ve gotten to know the market owners and a few of the bakers and farmers. I’m not only buying high-quality food, but I’m building a community.

Hack: Plan 2–3 days worth of meals at a time. Shop at smaller stores and hit the weekly farmer’s markets.

Embracing my natural, beachy look

When I’m back home, my usual dress code is black everything with a touch of make up. When I’m at the beach, I dress in brighter colors, and I don’t bother with hair products, blow dryers, and/or make up. I feel lighter, healthier - and prettier.

Hack: Embrace my beachy, Bohemian look at home.

Showering outdoors

God - is there anything better than showering outside? It’s my fave. I do it year ’round - there can be frost on the ground, but I’ll be outside shivering until that hot water hits my body.

Hack: My suburban neighbors probably wouldn’t appreciate my affinity for shuffling outside in my robe, but perhaps there is something else I normally do inside that I could start taking outdoors - like my morning coffee.

Time for creative pursuits

Once my car hits 95 North, my brain transitions into ‘must be productive and busy’ mode. My calendar fills itself with mind-numbing errands and meetings as opposed to when I’m down South and have more ‘play’ time. Not only do I write and paint more, but I am more creative in general. I chalk paint furniture, I’ve repurposed mirrors from flea markets, etc.

Hack: Build more creative time into my schedule.

Puzzle time

What is it about the beach that makes you want to work on a puzzle? This has become a fun ‘vacation’ tradition.  XXL and I always have a puzzle going at the beach. He meanders over it while he’s having coffee, and we huddle over it together while we are making dinner. It’s relaxing, fun and works our brains!

Hack: Have a puzzle going in both locations.

Non-car time

Once we get out of the car after our long commute to get to our beach destination, we are loath to get back into it. We try to either walk or bike wherever we are headed - dinner, yoga class, shopping, happy hour, etc.

Hack: While I’m not within walking distance to most places I need to go, I could perhaps ride my bike to the library and/or farmer’s market or maybe to go visit a friend.

My ‘beach’ self is more relaxed and happier because I have more time for self-care and mindfulness. I am actually living in the present moment more because I am focused on daily rituals vs. when I’m home and hamster brain kicks in.  Our vacation selves are slower (hopefully) and change is forced upon our normal routines. Shaking things up is good for the soul, and of course, a change of scenery and the sound of the ocean doesn’t hurt either.

Cheers to living your beach life wherever you find yourself.

Please follow Lori on Instagram at loriwritesanddraws or subscribe to her on Medium at Lori Welch Brown. 

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