I’m a to-do list junkie. I love planning, setting goals, creating healthy routines (even if I don’t always follow them), and organizing. Office supply stores are danger-zones for me. And don’t even get me started on packing cubes!

Despite that, I also have a spontaneous, free, wanderer side. When I embody that freedom, I’m a better friend, listener, partner, and person. But sometimes I get out of balance–especially when I’m uber-focused on a project. At those times, completely unplugging from my routine brings me back to balance.

On my last big stay in Costa Rica, my “goal” (ironic) was to trade all my scheduled ways for a month of spontaneity.

I needed to get my ducks out of a row.

It turns out ducks weren’t helpful–but sandpipers?

Each morning I left my cabina before dawn, and ventured into the darkness down a deserted road toward the Pacific Ocean. Instead of staying in the mainstream of things, I walked south along the shore to a small, lively river that emptied into the sea.

As the sun glimmered first light on the day, people slowly began to trickle onto the beach. Under the spell of surfers dancing on water, or jogging before the heat, most people had no interest in the happenings around the river.

I felt like the only human left on the edge of the world.

The river became a safe harbor for me. Tucked away, I could wipe the sleep from my eyes, meditate, putter at my notebook, and watch the world wake up–no agenda.

The first day, I found a custom armchair in the form of a white driftwood log, just across the river. A large group of small brown and white birds with longish beaks fished for breakfast at the water’s edge. They watched intently as I waded across the river, water up to my shoulders and beach bag on my head.

Thrown off by the depth of the river and preoccupied with saving my notebook, I stumbled onto shore. Most of the birds flew off at my grand entrance–nothing elegant about it.

Only four courageous sandpipers were left, a clumsy human not about to deter them from a buffet breakfast.

Brave and cunning too, soon those four were fishing beside me–without any competition.

The rest of the group looked on regretfully from up the river. I imagined them saying “Since when did we start trusting humans?” or “Hey, that’s my fish–I’d been watching that one since dawn!”

Posing as great friends with each other, sandpipers are actually quite competitive about breakfast. One catches a fish, and the others race after him. No aggression or grabbing, just a great deal of running at each other. Best movie ever.

I came to love my sandpiper mornings at the river. Wake-up, walk beach, wade river, sit on log, and watch birds run at each other. I had a routine–but a casual one. Relaxing in the sand watching their frenzied organization made me the easygoing one in the crowd.

One day, fifteen sandpipers allowed me into their mad world. It was like they handed me the silver medal of trust. Comfy in my riverside chair and careful not to make any sudden moves, I was drunk on their acceptance of me. Some of them got so relaxed they starting taking stand-up naps beside me.

Imagine if humans did that? Tucked our heads into the nook of our shoulder and fell fast asleep, standing up at breakfast?

The next few days brought much of the same, but with more of the bird crew staying on for the “brunch with human on a log” special. For them, it was a “fish and ignore the human” situation. But for me it was a great romanticized kinship. There was such simplicity in hanging around these purpose-driven creatures.

Again, I woke in the dark and started my trek south, motivated by my little bird world. It was a new-love kind of excitement.

But there was a surprise at the rendezvous point.

I didn’t do any wading across anything to get to the armchair log–because there was no river. It’s called low tide.

Looking down at my feet, I realized no sandpiper breakfast could survive in the slight stream of warm water flowing across my flip-flops. I plopped down on the log alone, struck with momentary abandonment.

The absurdity hit me. On my mission to wander and un-schedule myself, I had quickly fallen back into the familiar.

Without even realizing it, I’d tried to take the wild out of wilderness, and replace it with steady and dependable. Lets put up a white picket fence and all live together on a lifelong fish-fetching picnic!

The mighty Pacific had changed her rhythm, but what about my need for little brown and white birds running beside a driftwood log? I laughed at myself. Even when wandering is my mission, again and again I’m tempted to take root–and get my ducks (or sandpipers) back in a row.

And then I realized, it’s in my nature to have a routine, and it’s not such a bad thing.

Routine, steadiness, and reliability have helped make things happen in my life, and I’m grateful for that. These qualities are only problematic if I harden and become rigid, or am unable to flow with the changing tides of life. Flexibility and adaptability are the key.

I doubt I’ll ever be the wander-woman gypsy-type, and that’s okay.

The thought of embracing the structured side of myself, instead of trying to “work on” spontaneity made my body relax a little deeper into the sand.

Suddenly there was a flash of fast-moving familiarity. I turned to look over my shoulder. Running toward me fearlessly along the barely-there river was a single white sandpiper. Perhaps the outcast, or maybe a kindred spirit stuck in the old routine like me, it didn’t matter.

Breathing deeply, I smiled at what a little trust could draw in.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! With Love, Tamika

Comments

Carolyn Jyoti says

Why does that sandpiper running towards you so fearlessly make me want to cry! It also just makes me want to TRUST! I love this beautifully written story, so engaging, so honest and so wise. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Tamika says

I'm so glad that little bird touched your heart the way he did mine! XO

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Jess Huber says

I love that the thought of embracing a part of you allowed you to literally sink deeper into the sand. That's such a beautiful concept! By thinking an embrace, we can allow the ground to embrace us and connect our minds to our bodies. Thank you for a wonderful post!

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Tamika says

What a beautiful perspective Jess. Sending so much love to you! xOm

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Julie Vigars says

You are such an accomplished woman that it does not surprise me that you have this,organized, get- it- done side to,you. However I have always admired what I considered your wander woman gypsy side. - traveling all over and not staying in one place for too long! So,you are a perfect dichotomy!

Love this story. - it made me reflect on the different parts of myself as well.

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Tamika says

You are so KIND, Julie! I'm glad this was helpful. Letting go, surrendering, and letting things be, is still a work-in-progress for me, but traveling does help. I love your wise Goddess ways–and your traveling Spirit. I hope to see you on another adventure someday soon! XO

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Sandra says

Thank you for this article Tamika ~
As I have been 'letting go' of my lifetime routine of 9-5 this past year, I have been uncomfortable at times with the 'un-planned'. I still seek out routine to some degree for my peace of mind but I so appreciate your reminder to include the key components of flexibility and adaptability - no reason why they can't all work together ❤️

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Tamika says

I'm so glad this resonated with what's happening in your life, Sandra. I left my 9-5 a few years ago now, and I think I'm still adjusting to it all! You're absolutely right–these energies can blend together synergistically <3

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Kaitlin says

I love you, thanks for sharing! Always love hearing stories, insights from you.
Hugggsss!

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Tamika says

Thanks for the love and huggggggs–I totally feel it! XOXO

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Brenda Dowell says

I loved this story & the little bird running towards you filled my heart!!! I consider myself a gypsy wild wanderer ... & I fall into routines ... such a beautiful balance for me! Thanks for reminding me of both sides & accepting all of who I am ...
Learning to be more fluid...

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Tamika says

We are multidimensional beings, indeed! I love all your gypsy ways, as well as your steadfast commitment to your passions! XO

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Donna Hammond says

What a lovely story Tamika. Everything you write has love, direction and hope. I am a rigid, uptight, let me do it may way kind of woman (as you know) but I'm trying to relax and go with the flow (even letting Jackie do things her way sometimes). Looking forward to more from you.

Love from your neighbours!

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Tamika says

I love your "get it done right" side, Donna! You and Jackie will always be my forever neighbours! Thanks for your support, always. XO

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