By Christine Doyle
We know how meditative it can be to go beachcombing. You might be searching for that gorgeously frosted sea glass, smooth beach stones, unique shells, or weathered pieces of driftwood. But no matter what you are searching for, you are in your happy place, with all of your senses engaged and feeling joy and connection while searching for beach treasures. Now imagine this in combination with a weekend away to a spacious home near the ocean with someone at your service providing you with food and drink, teaching you yoga and meditation, and instructing you on how to create a beautiful work of art from a piece of wave tossed and tumbled sea glass. It sounds like paradise doesn’t it? So when I was offered the chance to join the owners of Seaglass & Serenity on their recent retreat, I jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect since it was at the end of the month when I felt I had been stretched in a million directions and I was in desperate need of a recharge.
As much as I was excited about this trip, I was slightly nervous as well. Although I was familiar with the owners, I would be going as a guest on my own. There were two other women who would also be there on their own, as well as a group of four that were coming together. As someone who tends to be on the quieter side when first meeting new people, I was hoping I would find some way to connect with these strangers. It turned out I had nothing to worry about. It was easy to bond with others over our shared passion for beachcombing.
Kristin, Laura, and Virginia are the three women who created this unique concept, combining their skills and passions to make a retreat that restores a balance from the busy, chaotic, and stressful lives that many women tend to lead. Kristin has years of experience as an avid beachcomber and happily advises guests with tips, knowledge, and encouragement on how to spot sea glass hidden along the beachscape. Laura is most at home and happiest in the kitchen while providing guests with delicious home-cooked meals so those on the retreat nourish their bodies as well as their souls. Virginia is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys leading her students to learn what their bodies and minds are capable of while teaching them yoga and meditation.
My excitement about this retreat started building as soon as I decided to go. A month before the trip I received little notes, gifts, and emails from the ladies of Seaglass & Serenity. The emails were to welcome me and provide an itinerary and suggested packing list to prepare for the unpredictable weather. These thoughtful details all helped to build my excitement and set the tone for the pampering that would soon follow. When it was time for me to embark on this venture, I truly could not wait.
Upon my arrival, I was greeted outside and assisted with my luggage up to my room where I found a gift bag awaiting me containing a beautiful piece of sea glass art. After I was all settled in to my room, I returned downstairs just as the other guests started to arrive.
After greeting one another we were invited to enjoy the light dinner that had been prepared for us. Our attentive hostesses made sure we had plenty to eat and drink and engaged us in conversation. We then went into the living room to relax and the hostesses began introductions and shared their backgrounds along with what led them to offer seaside retreats.
They explained that the itinerary was meant to give the days some structure, but we should choose which activities we wished to participate in and feel free to just enjoy the opportunity to relax in the many comfortable areas of the home. Then we went around the room to introduce ourselves and to share any details we wanted, including our reasons for coming on the retreat. I explained that I learned to hunt for sea glass two years ago and within two months it became a healing hobby to help me cope as I struggled with the death of my mother. Other guests were looking to unwind from a busy life, hoping to explore a new area, or find an escape from their stresses, while spending some quality time together with others. Many in this last group had never been sea glassing before, but this didn’t matter, because as long as their friends were there, they were happy to be together.
Virginia led our group in a meditation to set the tone for a nice and relaxing weekend. We were gently guided into relaxing and focusing on our breathing and envisioning what we’d like to get out of this trip. At the close of the meditation there was a special little surprise. We were asked to write out our hopes for the trip on a small piece of delicate wishing paper which we crumpled and re-formed, then set afire to watch our hopes and dreams rise. Afterwards, some of us chatted while admiring the plate of choice sea glass on display, and others thumbed through some Beachcombing magazines and self-help books.
The next morning we awoke to the smell of freshly made coffee and tea. Laura oversaw all this and was always nearby to make sure her guests had everything they needed. We sleepily clutched our mugs while slowly waking before our morning yoga session started the day. The group varied in their yoga experience. Some had limitations, and others had areas of their bodies that were sore or had been injured. Virginia expertly guided us while giving modifications to those who needed them. We gently stretched ourselves in preparation for the bending, stooping, and squatting we would soon be doing when searching the beach for our prized finds. After the end of our gentle practice, breakfast was ready and waiting. Have you ever had breakfast pizza? I had not and enjoyed just how tasty and filling this was in addition to the sweet and crunchy pecan-crusted French toast.
Soon we were off to the beach to take advantage of the tide. I found the high tide line to stroll and began my search, while Kristin took many of the women along with her to give them pointers. When she spotted a piece, she would give her guest a hint of where she was looking so they could learn to find sea glass themselves. Kristin instructed guests about what to look for while they scanned the ground strewn with pebbles, seaweed, shells, and pieces of sea glass and pottery. After our successful hunt, we returned to the house to warm up and share a delicious lunch of savory creamy tomato soup with fresh basil along with cheese crostini.
We had several hours of free time after lunch to do as we wish. A couple of the women chose a mini reiki session with Virginia; she offered this service for a small fee. Some of the group chose to check out the quaint shops in the seaside town we were near. There were two of us who chose to take a drive to explore another nearby beach to see if we would be fortunate enough to find more sea glass, pottery or driftwood. It was nice to have a little one-on-one time with another one of the guests. We talked about what we enjoyed most about this special hobby of ours. Soon we were ready to head back to the home to clean our finds and choose our favorite pieces to use to make a wrapped pendant later on that evening. My new friend offered to create a beautiful, handmade sea glass or pottery bracelet with some of the new pieces in my collection. This was such an unexpected and thoughtful gesture, and I was touched and appreciative of her wanting to do this for me.
Upon our return, all of the women gathered together to look through and admire each other’s collections. I overheard one women lament that she had mistaken a dark purple insulator as a rock and had tossed it back on the ground. Knowing I had one of these at home, I gave her my piece because I knew she would enjoy it more than I would. When I admired another guest’s interesting and unique pottery find, she offered it to me. Another woman commented on a different piece of pottery I had, and I gifted it to her since my collection at home contained many such pieces. Our hostesses stayed in the background preparing dinner and chatting with us, pleased to see their guests were relaxed and comfortable with one another now like we were old friends as we “ooohed” and “ahhhed” over one another’s collections.
After our hearty and filling turkey dinner, with freshly-made apple crisp and creamy vanilla ice cream, we were ready for our art class. Most of us had selected a piece or two we wanted to wire wrap, so Virginia passed around pliers and cut lengths of the wire. She then instructed us on how to create the bail (the part from which a black cord would be strung). We gently wound wire around our sea glass, securing it in its delicate cage, and Virginia came around to help tighten the wire so the glass could not wiggle its way out. She then provided us lengths of cord so we could wear our new pendants immediately. All of us beamed as we learned something new to do with sea glass, excited to know we could make more for ourselves at a later time, or bestow them as gifts to friends and family who might find them as lovely as we sea glassers do. After a full and happy day, I was ready to tuck in for the night, fulfilled but sad that I would be returning home in the morning.
Morning dawned, and the smell of fresh-brewed coffee greeting us once again. Another delicious round of food was prepared—this time we enjoyed homemade granola and vanilla yogurt with fresh raspberries and blueberries. Virginia then led us in a closing meditation before we packed up and headed for home. It was a perfect way to remind ourselves of how we were recharged and ready to return to the hectic pace of our day-to-day lives. When it came time for goodbyes, I noted a big difference from the way we had initially greeted each other at the beginning of the trip. Smiles and handshakes when we met had been transformed into hugs and laughter. This was a perfect sign of wonderful connections and times well spent with new friends.
Learn about upcoming trips at SeaglassandSerenity.com.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue