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My disability means dealing with pain, and I’ve been blessed to be living pain-free for awhile.

I’ve been productive; I’ve tried new things, had some adventures, and made some big changes.

me, kayaking in Victoria, B.C. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

My writing has been lighter. I’ve been writing a lot, on several projects. I’ve earned money from writing (for which I’m always most grateful!).

And then the heat soared, and so did my pain.

I did what most people with disabilities or chronic illnesses or chronic pain do: I worked through it.

I tried all the usual, med-free strategies. Cold showers, ice packs, extra rest, reduced workouts.

But the pain persisted, and I was dealing with leg spasms that affect my mobility. I do not deal well with immobility. Not. At. All.

So I tried a technique suggested by a new friend: I had a pity party, Sharon’s way.

“I look at my watch; give it an hour; and when it’s done, it’s over,” she says.

Just like that.

So I tried Sharon’s pity party for an hour, and it worked.

(Apologies to my husband: I had my pity party, mostly in silence, for the first hour of a road trip yesterday.)

Coastal redwood. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We drove to the beach from our new home, and were happy to discover it only takes an extra half-hour, compared to our last place.

Bonus: This road winds through a redwood forest, from Oregon to California.

There’s something about cool redwoods that calms pain.

Between home and ocean, there was a 40-degree drop in temps. Ahhhhhhh … a natural pain-killer.

We searched for a picnic spot on the beach, and discovered a sweet little place that was relatively private.

The roll of the waves against the shore was calming. Our lunch was simple — hummus and celery sticks, veggie sandwiches — but our view was extravagant.

Historic lighthouse at Crescent City, CA, is accessible only at low tide, so some visitors just sit on the beach and wait for the water to recede. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

We watched fishing boats and surfers in the distance; and families building sand castles and collecting shells and pebbles along the shoreline nearby.

Then we got company for our oceanside picnic.

Seagulls moved in, but kept their distance when we made it clear we weren’t sharing.

The pain was lower, so we did an hour-long power walk along the shore, relieved to be in cooler, fresh air. Some people were wearing jackets against the cold (likely Californians); others were in shorts and T-shirts, including a trio of shirtless, skinny teens braving the water, trying to swim. (Definitely visitors: This part of the coast is usually too cold for swimming.) We noticed that Oregon license plates seemed to outnumber the locals, beachside.

But there were surfers by the dozen, in wetsuits on low-slung waves. We laughed with a mom about the architectural design she would win with her daughter for their big sand castle, toppling in the afternoon sun.

Lunch, anyone? Crescent City picnic tables. (Kathleen Kenna photo)

We walked later along a fishing pier and watched orange-beaked oyster catchers skim the water. We mourned a dead pelican.

The sand was covered in small crab shells, cracked open by gulls. We collected the tiniest sand dollar and examined dead sea urchins.

Snowy plovers entertained us for hours. We’re always grateful for the joy of watching these little racers, pecking at insects as they speed in and out of the surf like wind-up toys.

It was high tide, so we couldn’t reach the Battery Point lighthouse, where we’ve watched the Pacific before. We met elders, also seeking cooler air, sitting on driftwood logs at water’s edge, waiting for low tide, so they could walk across to the island.

There’s a great view of the Pacific from there, and it’s pain-free.

(For better photos of Crescent City’s beauty — by a real photojournalist — please see our “In praise of small places” features at our travel blog, tripsfor2.net. Or just hit the Battery Point link above.)