A Raft of Sea Otters

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This was our last week in Morro Bay, California, and our last sunset on a beach during the return trip home to Canada. It made perfect sense to me that the primary setting for Pixar’s 2016 film Finding Dory was set in Morro Bay. Dory sets out to find her family. We were doing the same, searching for support from family and friends.

We discovered a raft of sea otters close to the shoreline, near the pier. Sea otters rest together in groups called rafts. The males form a ring around the females and the pups. They peacefully floated by us; an idyllic scene I wanted for A Life Less Burdened.

The walk from the RV park to the pier took us past Morro Rock, along a field of flowering ground cover, and then to the boardwalk and harbor channel. There are several tourist attractions along the Embarcadero. One day we had lunch at The Harbor Hut. I had fish tacos, and Jamie had a Clipper Tuna sandwich. We started with breaded clam strips, and Jamie was served a Mexican beer. We had a lovely view of the harbor, great service, excellent food, and the sun was finally out. After lunch, we walked through town, the round trip recording 8300 steps on my FitBit. Stuffed to the gills, we talked about napping instead of our usual routine.

Often when we walked by the pier, the path was blocked with tourists pointing their cameras at the sea otters. We set out early one morning for our walk into town, hoping we’d get a front row position for the abundant sea life around us.

A day inside the trailer would be maybe 300 steps. While it was raining all day, and at night we sometimes heard thunder and lightning, the gusting wind rocked the Coffee House constantly. We stayed bundled up on our bed reading and writing. A new chapter for us was around the corner, but embracing the unknown took its toll on my immune system.

I was cranky, not sleeping, and feverish. Stress hormones were playing havoc with my body. It became a challenge to find the right foods to eat, the right way to move, and most importantly, the right way to think. Over the winter months, I fought against going even farther from what I was comfortable with. We could have driven down into Mexico, but more travel wasn’t what I was searching for. A place to rest after a long trek, a home, that’s what I wanted.

The decision had been made the week before that we were moving to Atlantic Canada. We talked about whether we should fly or drive east from Vancouver Island to find a home. Jamie was patient with me; he stood beside me through all of my complaints. By the end of the week I felt stronger, could move without any chest pain, and the brain fog lifted. The toxins from the stress were now leaving my body.

During the rain storms, I invited Fear in to block my way. Resistance tricked me into thinking there was a magic pill I could swallow to fix all of it, and campaigned for everything to stay inside my head. When I was ready to see the next step in our journey, ready to share my author life and my family life with the world around me, the mindset I needed to do so finally came to the surface.

We made a promise to ourselves we wouldn’t do this again. We would not travel without a plan, with unanswered questions about our life. There would be a clear path ahead of us. We needed a place to stay in Victoria, BC, when we got back to Canada. Hotels made the most sense because we needed a break from RV life, but this meant we were going to eat up a lot of our savings to do so. I couldn’t decide if I was ready to stay with family. I didn’t know what anyone else was feeling about our decision to move to the other coast. There was a lot swirling around inside me, but that didn’t mean it was the truth of what others were feeling.

I learned this lesson while being part of an author mastermind group. Starting at the beginning of March, I was asked to write and share scenes every Saturday in a different genre. The first few weeks, I worked in post-apocalyptic settings, innovated a romance scene, and threw my limiting beliefs into a thriller. These stories I shared, and the ones I read from the other authors in the group, they helped me see how one scene could have many perspectives. The truth I was feeling about family was most likely not the same truth that family was feeling about me.

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We made sure to get out on the beach the last clear night we had before we packed up for Napa Valley. It was so cold! We needed extra layers to keep the wind from cutting right through us. The beach only had photographers on it, and two lone windsurfers were out on the waves. We assumed the group was a photography class out to capture the beautiful firelight in the sky as the sun set on Morro Beach.

We were excited to be on the trek back to Canada towards a home that could fit our lifestyle and budget. I journaled that I was in search of an easy drive north, no stress during the pack up and set up, and good weather up the coast.

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That last sunset on the beach was our turning point. We were heading home to find a place where we could settle in. Those questions we’d had for months about our life were now getting answers. We had to move our stuff again, say goodbye to our daughter, Devon, again.

Janet KittoComment