Tag Archives: Marblehead

So Many Disguises

Although my mom is on my mind every single day, two days before Mother’s Day, I woke up thinking of my dad, whose presence I’ve felt quite a bit lately.

I’ve been staying on the Massachusetts North Shore for the past few days, and yesterday I visited Fort Sewall, a historic point of interest overlooking Marblehead Harbor. I hadn’t been to Fort Sewall in nearly three years and felt drawn there for some reason. Actually, a photographer I conversed with on the beach the previous night told me he shoots there a lot, so the seed was planted.

I entered the park a few steps in front of an elderly man who instantly reminded me of my dad. Perhaps it was something about his pace or energy. I guessed he was about the age my dad was when he died last fall. I stopped to photograph a picturesque view, walked a few more yards, then stopped to admire the view of the lighthouse across the harbor. That’s when the man approached me with a friendly greeting and started talking about how much he loves this place. He kept exclaiming, “I just love it here!” He said that he sometimes comes to this seaside park and sits on the bench for hours, and when he’s there, he doesn’t  have any thoughts in his head at all. Nothing bothers him. I replied that the richness of the sights, the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks, the refreshing breeze, and the smell of the sea take you out of your mind and your thoughts, and he agreed.

I noticed he was wearing a blue 2013 World Series jacket and wondered if the Red Sox were in the Series that year. Baseball was my dad’s great love, and the jacket reminded me of him. He was also wearing an Air Force baseball cap. We stood together in that spot for a good 45 minutes, sometimes for long moments of silence as we appreciated the fullness of the experience and all the sensory impressions. Again, he exclaimed, “I just love it here! It’s like heaven.”

He talked about how he used to go out on a boat lobster diving and spent a lot of time on the water. One thing was sure: This man was in his personal paradise, and I appreciated being there with him. His joy intensified my own.

Eventually, I told him I should get going, and he asked if I wanted to see a picture of his “pride and joy.” Then he reached into his wallet and took out a picture of a bottle of Pride furniture wax next to a bottle of Joy dishwashing detergent. Not what I expected, I laughed and appreciated his sweet sense of humor. He told me he was at an 85th birthday party, and that joke was a big hit with the older ladies. I imagined him bringing a smile to many faces with his joke and found it lovable. Somehow, it reminded me of my dad’s sweetness and sense of humor.

I said goodbye about five times before we finally headed back toward our cars. We walked together out of the park, and I paused again to take a picture. He commented about what a nice camera I have, and I explained that my dad passed away in October, and I received some money that I used to upgrade my camera for my photography business. I explained that although I’d rather my dad were still around, I am grateful for the camera.

When we were nearly at the parking area, I stopped at a railing along the road to take a couple more pictures. To our right were some steps that went into the water, and he told me you can get fresh lobster right from the boat when it pulls up there. Before parting, we both said how good it was to see each other. As those words came out of my mouth, I realized it was odd to say “see” instead of  “meet”. And yet, we both did.

I drove away thinking of my dad and feeling grateful to have interacted with someone who reminded me of him.

When I got back to where I was staying, I Googled “2013 World Series” and confirmed that the Red Sox won the championship that year. That was my dad’s favorite team. Although you could expect a 2013 World Series jacket wouldn’t be uncommon in this neck of the woods 18 miles north of Boston, it was the first one I noticed.

This morning, I woke up thinking of my interaction with the elderly man – and his Air Force hat, in particular. I couldn’t remember: Was my dad in the Air Force? I pulled up his obituary online, and sure enough: He served in the Air Force reserve. At that moment, I felt that what I experienced wasn’t just a random interaction. It was a spiritual encounter. I connected with my dad’s essence through that friendly stranger.

About a year after my mom passed away, my dad and I were sitting in his car in the driveway, and before driving to wherever we were headed, he told me about a book he was reading that referenced some unexplained occurrences family members reported following the death of a loved one, who was a famous historic figure. Although my dad was not inclined toward the supernatural, he was excited to tell me about it. It seemed he found this particular account convincing. In general, I think he really wanted to believe and seemed visibly touched when I told him about different experiences I’d had after my mom – his beloved wife of 50 years – passed away. I sensed strongly that she was trying to communicate with him, but he wasn’t picking up the cosmic telephone because he didn’t hear it ring.

Within two minutes of pulling out of the driveway, we drove past the recreational field where my dad used to coach baseball, and we saw my mom pull out of the parking lot right in front of us, in her car! I exclaimed, “That’s Mom!”” He had seen her, too. But it was something that seemed at the same time completely matter-of-fact and too unbelievable to comprehend – the kind of thing that makes you cock your head and look perplexed, but then you return to what you were doing and perhaps convince yourself you didn’t actually see what you thought you did, only to wake up in the middle of the night or in a quiet moment thinking about it and realizing that you experienced something otherworldly.

I have come to believe that our loved ones never really leave us and communicate with us through many different disguises and messengers.

There is an elderly man who is a regular patron at the library where I work. He, too, reminds me of my dad. He is from the same era, presumably has similar attitudes and values, and I have a special place in my heart for him. One day, he fell asleep at a table and really reminded me of my dad, who fell asleep all the time when he was sitting down! I feel happy when I see this man. I am glad he is in this world.

One morning, I was at work, and this man popped into my mind along with something about a hospital. Later that morning, he came in the library, and although my prior interactions with him had been limited to smiling, waving, and wishing each other a nice day, this time he stopped to talk with me. He told me that he had been in the V.A. hospital all morning and that his doctor wanted him to have an operation that he didn’t want to have and is refusing to have it until he feels he really needs it. I’d had several conversations like that with my dad!

There’s one more time in the past week when I felt my dad’s presence. I recently decided it was time to buy a new bed because the hand-me-down bed I had been sleeping in wasn’t working for me. I looked online and found a really great, eco-friendly futon mattress and a beautiful oak frame for it. It was exactly what I wanted. Very zen.

After putting the bed together and making it up with new sheets, I was so happy because the bedroom looked and felt amazing. I couldn’t wait to sleep in it that night. I was in the kitchen and wished my parents were around to see how happy I was because I was able to use some of the money I inherited from them to buy a wonderful, new bed. I imagined my mom would be thrilled that I got something nice for myself. That’s what she always wanted for me! But I imagined my dad shaking his head and grimacing at the cost. I smiled, remembering what a penny-pincher he was.

Then I felt a very strong and clear sensation, as if someone were standing right behind me, followed by a prickly sensation in my lower back, as if l was being hugged around my waist. It was so strong and clear! I sensed it was one of my parents and got the feeling it was my dad and that he showed up to say that he approves and is happy for me.

My sister and I were texting a few days ago, and she said she hadn’t received any signs or felt our dad’s presence lately. That reminded me of what I experienced in the kitchen the night before. Experiences like that have become so commonplace that I sometimes forget to share them.

I don’t know how it works, but I’m grateful that it does.


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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2017. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (River-Bliss.com). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂

Coastal Bliss in Marblehead

Many of my teacher friends have expressed sadness that August has arrived, bringing the beginning of a new school year closer in sight. However, I am certain there’s still plenty of room for summer magic.

I woke up one recent morning knowing that I must get to the ocean, despite not having a plan for doing so. That very morning, I received an invitation that set the wheels in motion and brought me to Marblehead, Massachusetts six days later. Call it post-retreat energy if you will (and I do), but I’ve found myself saying yes to opportunities and possibilities that arise. I’ve been yearning for new energy and movement that brings me into greater alignment with my soul’s calling. Sometimes the yearning has tasted like a river of tears because I’ve wanted it that intensely. There’s something deep inside me that seeks manifestation, and I am convinced that I cannot make it happen by doing the same old things. Instead of finding excuses to remain within the confines of my comfort zone, I’m engaging new energy. It’s as if I’m sending out a signal – like a flower ready to be pollinated – and the Universe is responding magnificently. Because this time I mean it and will do whatever it takes!

So I set off solo for the coastal town of Marblehead with the intention of being inspired and creating an infrastructure for a new venture.

My friend, Ron, whom I’ve known since childhood (when our families attended the same church), lives in Marblehead. Although we hadn’t seen each other since high school when we were in jazz band together, circumstances brought us back into each others’ orbit recently. His mom died a month after my mom, in the same hospice house, the same room, and even the same bed. Our moms knew each other, and his sister and I kept in contact as we traveled the anguishing path of caring for our very ill mothers. I held my two friends in my heart throughout our moms’ final months, and knowing they were going through the same thing provided me with comfort and a sense of not being alone in this unfamiliar terrain. We continue to travel together as we adjust to the loss of our mothers, both of whom were such sweet, vibrant, and loving women.

So it felt right to travel to Marblehead for many reasons, including the thrill of a new landscape to photograph.

Marblehead Light Tower, Chandler Hovey Park

Not only did I have a friend to guide me around during my brief, barely 24-hour stay, but we also went to a book launch open house hosted by a local photographer who had just published a beautiful, coffee table style book of Marblehead images. I was interested in learning about the process he went through to publish his book – which was a wealth of information about both the process and the area.

With my gear in tow, we set out to see some sights and had hoped to be in a good location to catch a sunset but got delayed. When we returned to Ron’s house, I planned to put my tripod in the trunk for the evening but then spotted an irresistible view right at the end of the street.

It was low tide, but it was good enough for me! Filled with peace and gratitude, I lingered in the stillness of the quiet harbor for as long as I could.

MarbleheadPano

Although I wanted to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for the long ride home the next day, Ron had mentioned that the sunrises are amazing, and I knew I couldn’t resist getting up at an ungodly hour to take advantage of my one morning on the coast. The weather forecast was perfect for sunrise photography. Before falling asleep, I studied the photos in the book and knew that the author had fallen in love with his surroundings and come to know them just as I have come to know and love the river that runs by my door – the river that has awakened me to beauty all around, no matter where I am. So the book became my sunrise guide, and I mapped out a few locations to try in the morning. I was so excited that I barely could sleep!

At 4:50 a.m., I got up and headed for Crocker Park, which offers great views of Marblehead Harbor. I waited to catch the first glimpse of the sun on the horizon. It was huge and bright pink. Although I wasn’t able to capture the deep pink hue of the early sunrise, these images were satisfying nonetheless.

Besides myself, there were just a few older people who were out for a morning walk (a.k.a. “the dawn patrol”). Everyone who passed by asked me (in a nearly reverent tone of voice) if I had photographed the sunrise, and one man told me it was the best sunrise all week.

I felt like I was riding a wave of positive energy which continued when I found this on a bathroom mirror. (I plan to pay it forward!)

Then I headed to Fort Sewall for more spectacular views of Marblehead Harbor.

If I had stayed longer, I could have gotten to know the nuances of the landscape better and fallen more deeply in love with it. To connect with the spirit and the light of a place is such an intimate joy. To know what angle of sunlight makes it come alive and tell its story. To know how it is affected by the tides. To discover the secret places and small details that are overshadowed by the more obvious features of the landscape once your eyes have adjusted.

Inspired by gorgeous photos of rocks and waves posted in online rock balancing communities, I longed to be on a beach with rocks that I could balance. Ron brought me to the perfect spot: Preston Beach right on the border of Marblehead and Swampscott.

A quiet beach visited by local residents, it offered a fantastic supply of rocks. I was too tired to concentrate on anything beyond basic rock stacking, but stacking the different colors, shapes, and textures yielded pleasing results that drew the attention of curious birds.

 As the tide rolled in and covered the whole beach except for the rocky area toward the back wall, I was alone on the beach photographing the waves and birds that threatened the stability of the stacked rocks but did not topple them. I love the imagery of balance amidst life’s waves.

Marblehead provided me with the best photo sessions to date, and it took a long time to go through all the images and select my favorites. I wish I could have stayed another day to become better acquainted with this lovely coastal town, but I needed to return home.

However, making this trip drew upon the energy that has been building throughout the summer and unlocked something in me. I returned home on a wave of beautiful, exciting energy. It seems that saying yes is the key that unlocks the door of my self-imposed prison. Over the past few weeks, since returning from a spiritual retreat, I felt the door of that prison opening, and now I feel it has been burst open for good. My relationship to unsatisfying circumstances has changed, for the door is now open to greater freedom. The freedom has been ever-present, but it’s the realization that makes the difference. As Glinda, the Good Witch said to Dorothy, “You had the power all along, my dear!” I’m glad to realize this while I’m still alive!

In his novel, The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho wrote, “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” This is what seems to be happening, and I am rather amazed – and deeply grateful to those who are showing up to assist me.

This morning, I dreamed of a prison very close to me being closed all of a sudden because there no longer was a need for it. All the prisoners were released, and the prison was being transformed into something else. Later in the morning, I received a phone call out of the blue that paved the way for new opportunities and filled me with joy. I am beginning to believe that I can manifest my dreams.

I intend to continue meeting this wonderful, fresh energy with YES. It is an exciting experiment thus far! At times the energy feels so powerful, like high tide rolling in. However, I know I must maintain a daily practice of meditation, yoga, and exercise – a commitment I have made to myself to remain aware, balanced, and grounded.


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The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears. 

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.