Guest Blogger: Erica Madden
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” — Walt Whitman
Throughout this gorgeous week in Gulf Shores, our VolunSTARS have taken turns grabbing the camera and snapping photos of all our new friends. When we gather together each night, we can’t want to scroll through lots (AND LOTS) of pictures — it is a slow process because there is typically a story to go with each of them!
It’s funny, when you get behind the lens, it feels like everything around you fades into the background. You focus only on what is captured in that tiny rectangle window.
The giggle of a child as the ocean curls over his toes for the first time. Click.
The murmurs of “me too” and “I understand” as strangers become friends while ocean water laps at their feet. Click.
The competitive gleam of eyes (ya’ll know who you are!) as the finalists face off in the last Little Pink Olympics challenge of the evening. Click.
The shrieks of joy as waves threaten to overtake the kids lying across boogie boards. Click.
The painting and singing and grooving of people losing themselves in a blank canvas. Click.
The face that lights up at the tug of a fishing line draped over the pier. Click.
The sighs of contentment after a couple finishes the last bite of a delicious dinner (one they didn’t have to cook!). Click.
The first step on a wobbly paddle board, and a face that goes from fearful to confident with each camera click. Click.
The splash off that wobbly paddle board (hey, it takes some of us longer than others to walk on water!) Click.
The tightly clenched hands (and eyes!) of the brave souls trying the zip line for the very first time. Click.
The countless colors screaming across the sky as the sun rises from the water and then eventually dips away leaving us with lasting memories. Click.
Strangers. Friends. Family. Moments. Memories. Laughter. In less than a week’s time.
Not because we capture the moment … but because we are in the moment. We have put aside our work. We have put aside our fears. We have put aside our challenges — financial, personal, emotional. We have put aside our To Do list.
We have been present. With our children. With our spouses. With our friends. With ourselves. We have lived. We stopped waiting for the perfect moment; we lived in this moment.
As we approach this final day of LPHOH Retreat: 2015 Gulf Shores Edition, drifting off to sleep following the thrill of zip lining at Gulf Adventure Center and a scrumptiously satisfying dinner at Nolan’s Restaurant, I hope that is what you take with you. I know, it is MUCH harder to live in the moment when you return to normal life. But sometimes, it is ok to leave the laundry piled up, the dirty dishes in the sink, the bills until tomorrow, a work email unread … and instead cuddle with your hubby and search out a sunset, grab some ice cream with your daughter as she explains the ever-present middle school challenges, hug your son before that isn’t cool anymore, and of course, scroll the pictures from Gulf Shores and trade memories.
Guest Blogger: Erica Madden