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  • Writer's pictureJen Meller

Mama Ocean

"Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

people on the beach with umbrella

In 2019 I accepted an opportunity to move across the country from Portland, Oregon to a small beach town on the East Coast where I organized and decorated a home in exchange for a place to live. I had been divorced for a year and I needed a change. The move gave me something creative to do with my hands while I tried to make sense of my life again. None of the locals knew who I was when I arrived. I'm sure I was the curious talk of the town as folks tried to put together their own version of my story. I have sweet memories from that time as neighbors lovingly drove me around town, welcomed me to their dinner tables and shared their beach umbrellas.

footprints on the beach

Every morning I walked down a path to the beach and looked out at the ocean. She and I became friends. I called her "Mama Ocean." Every morning when I arrived I asked a simple question. "What do I need today, Mama?" And every single day she answered. Sometimes she was violent and angry so I would yell and scream as I walked beside her, allowing her rage to match my own. Other days she was steady and calm and tears would stream down my face as she offered acceptance and understanding without needing any words or explanation. Sometimes she was playful and made me smile or even laugh, something I often feared I had forgotten how to do. Mama became my greatest source of comfort and support in that lonely, hard season. I learned to trust her wisdom. I let her show me what I needed one day at a time.

It is now almost three years later, and in the often mysterious ways the universe works, I am returning to that same town, to those same neighbors and to Mama Ocean to live once again. I feel as though I am returning home to a dear friend. I am excited to walk down the path to the beach to greet her each morning. I am ready to be her student again. The question, I'm sure, will remain the same: "What do I need today, Mama?"

mama ocean

In this post, I offer a piece of Mama's wisdom that she shared with me that first season we had together. I often wanted to be further along in the process than I was. I wanted to be "over it" and have the next thing already figured out. During our daily walks she taught me healing, like growth, is slow work. We don't set the timeline. We cannot determine the pace. We can choose to open ourselves to the process, but it takes as long as it takes.

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In kindness and hope,



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