Everything is KISMET

Have you ever read a book that, unknowingly (perhaps self consciously) in the choosing of it, speaks to something you’re going through at the time you are reading it? The connection is awe inspiring! It’s happened to me several times, actually. And I add such experiences to my book of kismet.

Most recently, well, two years ago this Columbus Day, I was on Cape Cod with my girlfriends. One, who lives there all summer, takes us to the quaint shopping area in Harwichport town center. After lunch, she says, “I have to take you to this adorable book store. You’ll love it!” And I did. Upon entering I felt a hominess, as sense that the owner was probably the only employee who just loved bringing in original and, often, local books. I can loom for hours in a bookstore, perusing, touching, smelling. My hand picked up a thinish book; pictured on the front, a woman walking on the shore– aptly named, A Year By the Sea. Said friend told me it had been written by an author who lives on Cape Cod, and it’s memoir about a period in her life. Enough said. I was sold. I bought it and put it in my ever revolving pile of books to read on my bookshelf. I’ve picked it up, twice since then and thought, maybe I’ll read it now, only to put it down because I listened to another’s beckoning.

This past weekend, my husband and I had made plans with our daughter to spend a day on the boat, something we hadn’t done in weeks. After awakening to overcast, and my daughter who changed her mind about coming on the boat, yet again, I was less than enthusiastic about our voyage, but my husband really wanted to go, so I didn’t want to disappoint him. While he’s fishing, which is usually our ritual, I read. Because there was no sun to bask in, I knew I’d better choose an all encompassing book, one I could lose myself in; otherwise, I’d grow restless and cranky.

There wasn’t a choice at all. I picked up A Year by the Sea, by Joan Anderson. No second guesses. I didn’t know, at that point– kismet had struck again!

I read for hours, engrossed– even eating lunch with one hand while reading. I devoured every word, most tasting as if they’d rolled off my own tongue. Contemplative and delighted at the same time, I measured her words along side my own experiences. I dog-eared the pages of the passages with which I could identify:

“I watch, as if peering through the lens of a movie camera, shifting from one frame to another. Truths, once held as secrets, slip out. Similarities and differences become comfortable companions in this primitive place where violence and peace go hand in hand.”

“You must always retain some part of yourself which is nobody’s business. The minute you let others in on your secrets, you’ve given away some of your strength.”

“No longer desperate to know every outcome, these days I tend to wait and see, a far more satisfying way of being that lacks specificity and instead favors experience over analysis.”

“‘Listen to the muse when it’s talking to you or it just goes on, and you miss its statement — that moment when you could have done something'”

“‘Vital lives are about action… You can’t feel warmth unless you create it, can’t feel delight unless you play, can’t know serendipity unless you risk'”

Thank you, Joan Anderson, for helping me to put into perspective so many of the feelings and thoughts and experiences I’ve just started learning to recognize, and, more so, embrace.

Here is some of the new insight I’ve gained:

Forget what was & live what is- The past is for memories and reflection. The present is for living, in life, what you’ve corrected from the past and for experiencing the NOW.


Make a bucket list: cross off what you’ve accomplished & add to it frequently- It’s important to plan for the future, but not only to plan– to act.


Do something unpredictable- Get out of your comfort zone & just do it (don’t over think or analyze it): face the fear, give into the indulgence!


Learn something about yourself every day-Accept that you will never arrive in the sense that every moment is a process. Honor the process.


Notice something you had not before, but what has always been- We are so busy getting up in the bus-Y-ness of life, that the little things go unnoticed. Notice the little things, and the big things will made clearer.


Nurture what matters- I’ve spent so much time investing in things with no return, simply because I haven’t nurtured the people who really matter; I’m done taking them for granted because every moment is precious.

And do you know what I loved best about the whole day? It wasn’t even rocking with the current, or the fact that the sun did shine, or the peacefulness of the birds dancing above us, and the fish playing hopscotch below, or appreciating a well-written, captivating book, or being so lost in an experience that I had no concept of time, it was that after my husband had put all of his fishing gear away, himself ready to head back home, instead, he sat next to me and said, “You don’t want to leave, do you? Until you finish your book.”

Both of us are still learning.

Joan Anderson, who has gone on to write more about her journey, keeps a blog (which I now follow) & hosts retreats (attending one is something I’m adding to my bucket list).


The Other Place

Every summer it beckons, like a calling. The few summers we didn’t respond didn’t seem like summer at all. I smell the salt water in the air when we arrive, feeling the familiar heat like a tattered, cottony, smooth blanket, each tear marking a memory. Our car wades through the traffic like taking baby steps which makes the anticipation mount. We pass the ferry docks with a bustle of happy people coming and going, then the J.F.K.Memorial park on our left reminding us of the Kennedy presence in this town, next the Hyannis Yacht Club where boats of all kinds align the docks, some fastened to buoys in the water. And finally we arrive to our Cape Cod home, our other place, for we’ve been coming here for 28 years.

Our first trip, before we were even married, was a mistake of sorts wanting only not to vacation in a dump like we had two years before. I picked it out a AAA Travel Guide. It sounded decent enough: new, fully furnished condominiums, 5 levels, 3 bedrooms, 2 & 1/2 baths, living room, dining room, kitchen & den, ocean side or pool side. I just prayed it wasn’t like Sylvia’s. There were four couples renting this first summer. When we arrived, it looked, to us, like we’d stumbled into something that was beyond our means. We circled the stairway to the top where there was a deck with the most splendorous view I’d ever seen. At the bottom of the stairway, looking up, the various balconies peered out with a clear skylight at the top which emitted light throughout, all day.

That first year, we played house. Four couples on the cusp of engagement, the edge of living hard and living purposefully. This vacation brought a little of both.

Now, 28 years later, who would have thought we’d only stray a handful of times, only to return again. This place is a book mark noting all the significant chapters in our lives. From before marriage, to learning to vacation with in-laws; from our first child’s first vacation to the three of our children building sand castles together as young adults; from marital highs when we were inseparable to marital lows when we contemplated the fate of our union; from sharing our time with relatives, healthy and vivacious, to returning with out them — only present in our memories.

I could write a book of the summers spent here at our Other Place– the nuances which make each year distinct to itself. While we are never conscious of the moments that make the memories while we are in them, they are the highlights we return to in our minds once we’re home and the rhythms of life return, making our happy place seem like a dream. Perhaps, I will write them down one day to make sense of them– to realize how the sum of the years all fit together into one purpose.

After toting all of the necessities from home (those that have become fewer and fewer over the years), situating everything in it’s familiar spot, the moment vacation begins is when I open the slider to the back porch, taking in the beauty of the view: a grassy ledge, 4 stone stairs leading down the crystals of sand, hot on my tender feet, a sprawling beach that loops around the bay, ice blue water that when the sun hits looks like a sheen of diamonds, boats rocking in the current like cradles, all under a vast blue sky where the sun’s arms open up, welcoming.