An early morning walk is a loving commitment to myself, a daily practice primarily for exercise and for taking the time to practice my Qigong routine of breath and stretch work.

When I am in my island home, I go down to the ocean to a magical place where inspiration and peaceful contemplation wait for me. Today it is a little later than usual when I start out but still the air is fresh.  I pause to stretch my leg muscles before I start down the road. The gardener greets me with a “Buen Dia”; I see him every day but this daily greeting with a smile never fails to lift my spirit.

I begin to walk on the road, and I wave to one of the taxi drivers, a long-time friend. We share the usual, “Como tu estas?” “Muy bien y usted?” “Mas o menos, tratando para sobrevivir.” “Ai, si, luchando cada dia”.

As I turn the corner, I am greeted by an English speaker, someone I do not know, a rarity since this is a small community.  But how nice, I think, a new expat, and so open to being friendly. I find myself smiling with this acquisition of 3 experiences of joy.

The next corner leads me down to the shore, the breeze is cool, and already I can feel the serenity of coming to my spot. It is a grassy area right beside the ocean. It is not owned by anyone; it is “area verde”, a free zone.. Originally just a pass through for vehicles anxious to take a shortcut to the street on the other side, it has been sodded and cleaned up by a person for no other reason, I believe, but to make this corner beautiful. The entrance and exit on the other side have been restricted by rocks, and poles of bamboo, strategically placed to prevent vehicles from passing through.

I move to the place I use every day and lift my arms to the sky, breathing in the fresh air. The infinity of the view, its expanse of water and sky, commands all my senses. I can feel the strength of the ocean and, as I do every day, I think of its power.  There is nothing in my warehouse of worries or problems that can compete; they are immediately vanquished as inconsequential. I am so grateful for this reminder. I hear only the sound of the waves coming into shore, more gently than other days. There are no little sandpipers running from the waves, their sweet chirping is absent. But still, the waves demand to be heard.

I finish my breathing and stretching routine. And I turn to go home. I look at the row of palm trees that were behind me and I think of my sweet Ambi whose bones lie under the soil between the two tallest ones. Ambi was my first dog here on the island. She came into my life at a time of need for both of us. She was with me for 5 years and her passing was a deep sorrow but how softly her memory returns when I come here to this spot, adding to my joy.

I leave, begging myself to keep this peaceful mindset as I go through the rest of the day.