A Beach State of Mind

Helloooo Banditas and Buddies! I write to you (posting in a vey tardy manner) from the kitchen of a lovely beach house on Topsail Island, NC. The kitchen and deck overlook a wide expanse of pale sand, littered with shells, seaweed, driftwood and other beachy detritus. I am here for a writing retreat and have been getting a ton of writing and writing business done. I haven’t changed my latitude much, but the beach has worked wonders on my attitude. I like to call this a Beach State of Mind.

The only problem I with this state of mind is that it kind of puts me a little too much “in the moment.” Like, making it nearly impossible to think about getting a blog post done. so while I enjoy this Zen-like existense while here on vacation, it’s hard on the rest of my life. Here is a list of things I am not taking care of while I’m at the beach:

1. Kimba – Some of you have seen a number of Facebook posts and comments here about my baby cat, Kimba. He is now a startling 6 months old and had to go to the vet on Wednesday for his neuter surgery. I was there for his first post-op niiters. ght, but my youngest (home from college for spring break), has handled the rest. I did talk to her once to see how he was doing, but I figure they will be fine without me. :/

2.  My Weight – I gained, according to my scales, about 4 pounds this winter. I have been doing a fair job of eating less and exercising at least a bit more for weeks now. Until last Thursday. since we’ve been here, I’ve had many forbidden things like French fries, a spicy Cajun chicken biscuits, a huge cupcake and a baked potato. They may have to roll me down the stairs to get out of this beach house! I figure I’ll start over when I get home, yet again. *sigh*

3. My Finances – I am the gatekeeper for all financial matters in my home, so I made sure all was in order before I left. Since then, I haven’t looked at an online credit or checking account balance, paid a bill or even thought of doing either. I figure I can get all that sorted when I get back to the sandless Piedmont.

4. My To Do List – I rely on my To Do list to a probably unhealthy degree. My paper calendar, too. Since I’ve been here, though, I have done neither. I figure all those “undone” things can be done later. When I’m back home. When I have to go back to my Day Job and be responsible for things.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here at the beach. watching the tide go in and out, writing far more than I do at home while I eat Forbidden Food and enjoy the company of fellow writers. I’m pretty sure the world will be fine until I return.

What is your favorite thing to NOT do while on vacation? Is there something you would love to leave behind while you get away from it all? If you can’t get away on vacation, how do you put yourself in a Beach State of Mind?

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  • Deb Marlowe says:

    Since I am hanging with you, dear one, I am neglecting many of the same things at home. The one I’m not missing is all of those meals that hungry teenage boys are getting for themselves this weekend. 🙂

    But the good thing is, I’m also catching up on hanging with fabulous people like you, talking writing, making plans and having a hugely good time!

    Yay for the beach retreat!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Deb, much as I love you, you realize you just nabbed the Golden Rooster, right? So now he will be here scamming on our leftover pizza! That is not cool.

      But yes, we ARE having an amazing time! So glad to be far away from home, listening to the surf hit the beach…and the chatter of a gaggle of romance writers. The GR will be in heaven!

  • Becke says:


    We do the Caribbean beach every January so just when I thought I was ok with SC again, you remind me of how cool the beach is.

    Congrats to you–enjoy!

    What is your favorite thing to NOT do while on vacation? No talking or thinking about genetics-translation-day job!

    Is there something you would love to leave behind while you get away from it all? I think the day job would pretty much take care of that for me.

    If you can’t get away on vacation, how do you put yourself in a Beach State of Mind?

    Exercise- a long bike ride, walk, kayak. Something that is outdoors and lets you switch to automatic. I find that usually cleans the cobwebs from my mind.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Becke, I love that you guys go to the Caribbean every January. What a treat! I imagine you guys have your favorite spots and things you must do when you’re there. I love getting familiar enough with a destination that you don’t have to do quite so much planning for every day. 🙂

      I am totally with you on escaping the day job, too. I don’t take my work home with me, but it does occupy an inordinate amount of brain space. I love to leave it behind!

      Yes, getting out in nature does help reset the brain, doesn’t it? I love that you live where you can get out and kayak. We have good hiking around here, but have to travel a bit for decent kayaking (without speed boats). I hope you are taking a “vacation” day today. I know I am! 😀

  • Oh, Caren…now you have me wishing to stay at a beach house on the Atlantic coast. I’ve stayed in two different places. Duck Island on the Outerbanks and Sebastian cove in Florida. LOVED both of them! Never tried to write at either spot…but sure like walking on the beach in the mornings and evenings and listening to the surf as I went to sleep.

    Like you, I’m the financial gate keeper at our house…as far as monthly bills go. Any time I go on vacation, I pre-pay anything that will be due, that way I don’t have to worry about them while I’m relaxing!!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Suzanne, I wish you were here! I’ve been amazed how much writing I’ve gotten done here. Just having the head space to write (and not worrying about the laundry!) is a huge thing.

      I’ve not stayed in Duck, but have driven up there to visit the shops. I stayed in Corolla with my Girl Scout troop and it was gorgeous. We have usually stayed further south on the Outer Banks, down around Hatteras. Love the OBX!

      I think my very favorite beaches are in the Gulf of Mexico, though. Destin, FL is astonishing. The sand is sugar white and the water is gorgeous and blue. We vacationed there when I was a kid and I miss it. It’s so far for us to go, though, when we can be at the beach in 2 to 2-1/2 hours. 🙁

      I’m not sure I could relax at all on vacation if the finances weren’t all under control and taken care of. I hate handling all of that, especially while planning for vacation, but I can sleep at night. And sleep well!

  • Cassondra says:

    Caren, I envy you your 2.5 hr drive to the beach.

    I love the beach. But Kentucky is a terribly landlocked state, as far as anything ocean related is concerned.

    My favorite beaches are also on the Gulf, though I admit that I haven’t been to many beaches in my life. So I have only a few to consider when I make that judgement. I’ve wanted to see the OBX and in particular, Nags Head, since I was in high school, because my art teacher painted the most wonderful watercolors of the sailboats there. I was captured by those paintings, and because of that, I’ve wanted to learn to sail my whole life, and also to visit that place. This spring, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, I am learning to sail. But I still haven’t been to the OBX. Want want WANT!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Cassondra, growing up in TN, I empathize with the landlocked desire for the coast. It took a while when I was a little girl to realize I had not actually seen the Atlantic ocean, but only the Gulf. Disappointment! 🙂

      As for the Outer Banks, they are fairly rugged and still remote. You never realize it more than when there has been a hurricane or bad tropical storm and Hwy 12 (and the bridge across Oregon Inlet) is closed. Then you can’t get anywhere except by boat!

      Nags Head is actually pretty overcrowded and not very picturesque these days, being he closest town to the mainland. Corolla is magnificent, though, with vast expanses of sand and even wild horses. It’s also great to go south, down toward Avon and Buxton. The island is just a strip at Pea Island and even into Rodanthe and Waves. With the ocean on one side and the expanse of the sound on the other, it feels like you are seriously someplace far, far from home. Of course, there is not much down there besides houses. Few restaurants, one grocery store and a few gas stations. Oh, and all the Baptist churches you care to count. 🙂 Definitely worth visiting, though.

      You’re learning to sail this summer? I am jealous! I’ve never learned to sail, though my girls did at Girl Scout camp. I always thought that would be the ultimate boating experience. Plus, if I were actually helping to crew the ship, I don’t think I’d be as motion sick as I can otherwise be.

      One of these days, we need to work on a Bandita beach trip. And then a Bandita mountain trip. You know, for starters. 😀

    • Cassondra, as Caren says, Nags Head is more developed than it used to be. We still enjoy going there, though we use it primarily as a base. We like going to Kitty hawk kites up the strand at Kitty Hawk, watching the hang gliders on Jockey’s Ridge, and going to the Wright Brothers museum.

      We also like going to the NC Aquarium, Ft. Raleigh, and the museum in Manteo.

      South of Nags Head is Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which is beautiful. You drive down NC 12 through it, and in some places, you can see marshland on the inland side of the road. When you drive down that, you can see how a hurricane could just cut a new inlet in an eye blink.

      In Rodanthe, there are still people speaking Elizabethan English, which I think is so cool, though the influx of vacationers is diluting that rapidly. I’ve never actually been there but would like to go.

      My dad and some of his buddies used to go to the beach every autumn, drop anchor on a motorboat in Oregon Inlet, and fish for a week. They stayed a motel in Wanchese, which is not touristy, abstained from shaving, and (we suspect) drank beer and told dirty jokes.

  • catslady says:

    I don’t think I can get myself in that state of mind unless I’m really at the beach lol. Reading always helps though. I like to leave cooking behind and I never worry about calories on vacation lol. And not doing house chores would be nice 🙂

    • Caren Crane says:

      Catslady, you said it. No house work! No house work! Our vacations for the past 20 years have involved cooking, doing laundry and cleaning, since we had kids along. No more of that! I figure I can live with some sloth while on vacation (though not right now, since I gave up sloth for Lent!).

      I hope you can get away soon, in a good book if not in body. Changing the attitude really does make a huge difference! Happy reading!

  • Helen says:


    Sounds like you are having a great time and I am with you when I go away I try very hard not to think about bills and all the normal everyday things I do while at home especially housework LOL.

    Have Fun

    • Caren Crane says:

      Helen, it’s funny you mention the house work, too. When I was drying my hair this morning, I noticed there was some hair on the bathroom floor. There were 13 ladies and two showers, so you can imagine the sheer volume of hair! I thought about grabbing the broom and sweeping the bathroom when I was done.

      I quickly decided it could wait. I had blog comments to answer and a novella to finish. The hair is still there! LOL

  • Patty L. says:

    My favorite thing not to do on vacation is cook. We share the responsibilities for all meals is shared by all.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Patty, that is a brilliant way to handle it. Really, it’s only fair for everyone to share the load since it’s everyone’s vacation.

      The past two years, my husband and I have gone with friends of ours to Hilton Head. While we’re there, we decide at the beginning who is cooking when and when we will eat out. We even divvy up responsibility for selecting restaurants and making dinner reservations. Whoever isn’t cooking cleans up afterward. It works like a charm and everyone is happy. Well, as happy as you can be while still having to cook. 🙂

      Once a week beats the heck out of four or five nights a week, IMO! Cooking is a wonderful thing to leave at home.

    • My parents enjoyed renting a cottage. Being on the beach was nice, but hauling linens was not. Each family took one night to fix dinner, and one night we ate out. The dh says he much prefers staying in a hotel because we don’t have to do household chores there.

      • Caren Crane says:

        Nancy, the linens are a whole other thing, aren’t they? We had to bring sheets and towels down to this beach house and it was kind of a pain! Plus, people were flying in, so we had to scrounge in the linen closets for things to bring with us. :/

        I hear you on wanting to leave the house work at home. I do go kind of crazy without a kitchen, though. I can make do with a mini fridge and a microwave, but start to get antsy after a few days. The kitchen is the heart of any house I’m in and I miss that!

        • Caren, you know I go to the beach with my college classmates in the fall. We pay extra to have linens supplied, though we’ve had to bring them a couple of times for overflow space and people flying in. On those trips, the rule used to be that no one cooked. Even sandwiches were considered cooking.

          But then two of my classmates said they would really like to cook for everyone, and they feed us extremely well every year. The rest of us bring wine, stick things in the dishwasher, wipe down counters, etc., as we see the need. It works out well.

  • Caren, I hope you’re having a great time at the beach. My favorite thing to not do at the beach is plan. Everything is spur-of-the-moment. I also don’t have to be in charge of finding places.

    On most of our vacations, I’m somehow in charge of figuring out how to get where we want to go. Usually, I don’t mind. I’m good with maps. But within cities, it’s not so easy. When we can’t find our destination and everyone looks to me, they don’t seem to realize I have no psychic map of the city in my head. I know no more than they do.

    At the beach, everybody keeps an eye peeled for the putt-putt, the restaurant, whatever, and there aren’t that many roads to choose from. So I don’t feel like I’m supposed to be our walking GPS.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Amen, sister! I’m with you on not wanting to plan – or at least not much. Being the one who tracks appointments and makes calls and, you know, makes life happen at home lends to that. I know you and I are both that person!

      And for some reason I end up being “the map” too. How does that happen? I guess everyone else is so relieved they don’t have to do it that they just look to you for all the answers. What do you mean you don’t have a map of all the Starbucks in Manhattan in your head? What did you think we would do, wander around the island until we found one?!?

      At least now there are smart phones that help us find things when we can’t find the important things. You know, like Starbucks. 🙂

      • When I was lost at Covent Garden, a nice woman whipped out her phone and had it show her a route to the restaurant. I didn’t know phones would do that. Anyway, she, her friend, and I looked at the mapped route and concluded I should grab a cab rather than try to remember it. So I did.

  • Caren, so envious of your beach holiday. And it sounds like such a beautiful place to take a break. There’s nothing like relaxing at the beach, is there? We always had a seaside holiday when I was a kid – it’s a habit, sadly, that I”ve grown out of. I think it’s the sound of the sea that puts you in the right frame of mind. Hmm, or perhaps I just revert to my childhood when I’m at the beach. Good on you for doing so much writing and don’t stress about the everyday stuff – sadly, it’s always there so enjoy your short escape!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Anna, I love being here. It has rained like crazy all day and is in the 50s, but it’s so nice just to be away from it all!

      I think you’re right about the sound of the surf being the game-changer. It’s always there, steady and rhythmic. Kind of like…other activities our writing may address! 🙂

      I’m going to use it while I have it!

  • I haven’t been to the beach in ages. When I was in grad school in Hattiesburg, Mississippi I spent many a weekend and many a vacation on the beach at Gulfport / Biloxi. Of course this was pre-Katrina and I haven’t been back yet. I don’t know if it will hold the same wonder for me as it did before as they say it is quite different now.

    The single most important thing I do when I am on vacation is to leave the day job behind. I don’t talk about it or think about it. And I don’t wear a single item of khaki or blue!

    Like you I try to take care of all bill paying and financial stuff so I don’t have to even look at it. This includes those times I take a stay-cation at home.

    I don’t worry about my pets because I have wonderful pet sitters.

    Basically I try to eliminate any activity that even smells of work so I can take the time to relax and recharge.

    The writing retreat sounds wonderful ! SIGH!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Louisa, I have the same fear about going back to Gulf Shores. After the oil spill and the hurricane(s) and the rampant development, I know it will never be as I remember it.

      I don’t blame you a bit for leaving the day job behind. I have had only fleeting thoughts about my DDJ while I’ve been here. Mostly how much work will be piled up in my inbox. I’ll pay for being gone, for sure. Hopefully your crew will carry on without you.

      I am a bit concerned, though, that if I go on vacation with you you won’t bake so much as a cupcake. No fair!

  • Amy Conley says:

    When I’m on the beach, alone, I don’t think or care about anyone or anything. The beach is my escape and I was hoping I’d get some good beach time this week, it looks like I won’t get it til next month.

    • Caren Crane says:

      I hope you get there soon, Amy! The beach in the off season is fabulous, isn’t it? I suppose some might find it a bit boring or lonely, but I always appreciate some solitude. Fingers crossed for your getaway!

      • Amy Conley says:

        Don’t fret Caren, I WzILL be on the beach during Raster week. My sister lives in Va Beach, but I go down to the Outer Banks and it is always less crowded there. I usually go to Bodie Island and my #3 grandson will be with me and that makes it even more special than being there alone. Hopefully we won’t have any rain this time and we’ll take the ferry across to Hattaras. On our way home we will stop for out BBQ in Curritick. But the most fun is walking along the beach looking for shells and beach glass. This time I even plan on taking a kite for him, his first time 🙂 I can’t wait.