A Measured Life

I measure my life at the beach, which is not the same thing as living a measured life. I don’t measure my life in T.S. Eliot’s coffee spoons— those moments are too small and disappear too quickly like teardrops in the sand. No, I am living big moments minute by minute. I measure our life by walks at sunrise, by peach cobblers at sunset, and by the summer corn at this weathered picnic table.

I don’t just measure my life at the beach. I measure life in black dresses that hold too much to be worn again or to be thrown away. I measure my life in childhood ballet teachers who taught me to count the graceful moments measure by measure and not just to feel them. I measure my life in recipes, cup by cup and ounce by ounce and taste by taste: curry and capers; lemon and mint; orange and chocolate.

I measure my life in stories and memories and in their dance that finds its footing in truth.

I measure my life everywhere, but it is here at the beach that I am the most reflective and the most intentional about it. Susanna once said that the beach is like a journal, each year a new page. I have both lost myself in those pages and found myself in them.

Here Ben and I measure our life in anniversaries that are often celebrated here: a glass lifted to our children who helped us blend our families (31 years ago!) and to one another. We have measured our life together in the low cadence of the slow dance. And there is nothing in my life more beautiful than our measured step.

We have welcomed girlfriends and boyfriends who have, in time, joined our family. We have welcomed four granddaughters to this house. I measure my life in welcomes and good byes and in the deep breaths that mirror the tide. Every year is different.

I am writing on the porch with a granddaughter. She is writing in her journal. Earlier this week 20 month old Sylvia dipped her paint brush in water here and pulled it across the page. This is how we start. These are the moments I measure.

It isn’t that these moments only happen here, but it is here I remember to stand on tiptoe to go deep. It is here that I remember to look everywhere. It is here that I learn again and again to mark the sacred moments where grace shines through. And I’ve learned that grace always shines through and in good measure.

About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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7 Responses to A Measured Life

  1. Terje says:

    This is such a beautiful piece. It touched my heart.

  2. Ruth Ayres says:

    Annie,
    I want to be like you when I grow up! The way you crafted this is exquisite. My senses were alive and my heart tugged as I read line by line. Oh, what a treat that you share what you write.
    Shine on,
    Ruth

  3. I am sitting in our cabin in Maine reading your post, and I connected so deeply with having a place that helps me reflect and recharge. These lines in your piece are ones I want to remember – “it is here I remember to stand on tiptoe to go deep. It is here that I remember to look everywhere. It is here that I learn again and again to mark the sacred moments where grace shines through.” Thank you.

  4. Julie says:

    Oh, this was beautiful. From the first sentence, I was captivated by your language and imagery. This is how I want to live too. Thank you for such an inspiring piece.

  5. elsie says:

    Such a beautiful piece of writing! You measure in all the right ways.

  6. I read this piece twice, and I will return to it again, and again. In measuring, we are intentional with our holding on and recognizing the importance of those moments. Your words, their gentle rhythm, pulled me, and I found myself sitting with you at the weathered table.

    PS You had me at orange and chocolate. 🙂

  7. Annie – thank you for this – it is a poem. I loved the line: I measure my life in recipes, cup by cup and ounce by ounce and taste by taste: curry and capers; lemon and mint; orange and chocolate. YES. YES. YES. And yes to the beach and the memories and family and grace for good measure!
    PERFECT!

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