anne morrow lindbergh : trading sky for sea

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Ink bottle, pen and notebook waited on the beach house desk, but for now Anne Morrow Lindbergh ambled along the Captiva shoreline looking for seashells to add to her collection. There, she spotted a little spiral shell. She rolled it in her hand and thought about the calm of this vacation by herself, the dizziness of her days back home, and what it would take “to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life…to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center.”

When she married world-famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, she jumped right into his world, this tiny woman taking on big adventure as co-pilot, studying stars and logging flight plans. But she was more than propellers and airplane smoke. Even as she pursued her husband’s dreams, she brought her own creative passion along for the ride. She wrote award-winning novels based on their exploration over the world’s air routes and lent her writing skills to her husband’s autobiography “The Spirit of St. Louis.” He dedicated the book: “To A.M.L. who will never realize how much of this book she has written.”

But there was a new passion on the horizon, one that wouldn’t fit in the cockpit. On Mrs. Lindbergh’s 24th birthday, she delivered Baby Lindbergh. Flights went on and she felt the gravity of leaving her little one behind. Gradually, she gave up the turbulence of the skies to put her feet on the ground as a fully-present mom.

She would forever cherish the fleeting moments with her firstborn. Her dream turned nightmare in 1932 when kidnappers stole her son from his nursery and killed him in a ransom deal gone bad. She grieved as privately as possible in the midst of media frenzy, and used the pen to work out her sadness on the pages of her journal. Welcoming five more children after that tragic loss, she did her best to remain open to life no matter what it may bring.

Motherhood wasn’t easy. She’d be the first to say so: “Is this then what happens to a woman? She wants perpetually to spill herself away. All her instinct as a woman–the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society–demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain out into these channels if there is any chance, any leak.”

All the stains to scrub, casseroles to cook, floors to sweep, baths to give, budgets to balance, appointments to make, parties to plan, messages to write– these leave us feeling drained, unless we are giving purposefully and being refilled.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh went to Captiva Island not for the adventure of travel, but to find quiet renewal at the water’s edge. In solitude she held out her cup to be filled to overflowing.

“Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone,” she wrote, “The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray [and] women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.”

Mrs. Lindbergh went to the shore as a woman cluttered with life’s complications. She came home with a simple collection of shells and thoughtful words that became her famous memoir, Gift from the Sea. And so she took up a new passion, spurring women on to find creative pause, encouraging us to fill up so we can serve as we were “meant to in the eye of God.”

All quotes are from Gift from the Sea. For more on Anne Morrow Lindbergh, you’ll want to read:

Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, 1929-1932

Under a Wing: A Memoir

Anne Morrow Lindbergh Biography

What about you? How do you carve out time for renewal? What is it that fills your cup?

Darcy Wiley believes that every woman should carve out at least a few hours of her week to discover and follow her creative call, whether it be sketching landscapes, knitting baby blankets, tinkering on the piano, arranging a vase of flowers, writing poetry, cooking up a gourmet meal, or thrifting for a vintage blouse to pair with those favorite jeans. You can find her at Message in a Mason Jar where she writes about finding the loveliest things in the most ordinary containers. And you won’t want to miss her easy, breezy summer series all about Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. Follow her on Twitter @darcywileywords.

17 Comments

  • This book has been in my to-read stack for forever! Thanks for the encouragement to actually get to it :)

    • A friend in my writer’s group mentioned this book last winter and as soon as I picked it up I was hooked. I read it within a week! Such a refreshing read. You’ll love it. P.S. I have a special affinity for your blog name. ;) I’ve visited before. Can’t remember if I’ve commented, but I noticed in a post a while back that you are a fellow INFP.

  • I actually had never heard of this book, but it sounds amazing. When I finish my current biography, maybe I will check this one out. Her challenge to fill up so we can serve as we are meant to in the eyes of God. Awesome! Thanks!

  • Reply July 9, 2012

    Audrey

    Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, I was sitting with my toes in the sand reading GIFT FROM THE SEA this weekend. Good so far.

  • Reply July 9, 2012

    Liz

    One of my all time favorite books. I don’t know how I haven’t read more of her writing! Thanks for the reminder to seek out some more.

    • There is a list of eleven other books in the front of Gift from the Sea. While I’ve skimmed several of the diaries, I haven’t looked into her fiction pieces from earlier in her writing career yet. As a side note, her daughter Reeve’s memoirs have the same authentic, refreshing feel as AML’s writing, so I’m sure you’d enjoy them, too.

    • There’s a list of eleven other books in the front of Gift from the Sea. While I’ve skimmed several of the diaries, I haven’t looked into her fiction pieces from earlier in her writing career yet. As a side note, her daughter Reeve’s memoirs have the same authentic, refreshing feel as AML’s writing, so I’m sure you’d enjoy them, too.

      • Reply July 9, 2012

        Liz

        My copy has that same list. I think I got discouraged when my library system didn’t have ANY of her other works! I guess I need to see what’s available for my Kindle instead! The same friend who suggested Gifts from the Sea read her daughter’s and said the same as you. Two trusted sources, I guess I had better get to finding a copy :)

    • I read Gifts from the Sea years ago, and it has been re-read a time or two as well. I can’t understand how it never occurred to me to seek out more of Lindbergh’s excellent writing. Thank you for writing this entry. I’ve requested her journals from paperbackswap.com after seeing that my library doesn’t have them. (Our library could use more Lindbergh and less Shopaholic or Good Girls Gone Wild or whatever is the latest mindless drivel read…)

      :)

  • Beautifully written, Darcy! I’m definitely intrigued to read this book after I finish One Thousand Gifts. It’s so refreshing to realize the many similarities between women back in the 30s and today. I love the quote, “women need solitude to find again the true essence of themselves.” So true. Thanks for the inspiration. And Hayley, I just found your blog and spent the hour listening to your podcast while painting a bathroom vanity. It helped the time go by so much faster and I look forward to reading more and getting to know you better! -Christie

    • Thanks, friend! When I picked up Gift from the Sea, I couldn’t believe that AML had written those words all the way back in the 1950s (She had a very long and successful writing career). Aside from a couple of technological omissions, she was describing us 21st century women to a T. And isn’t Hayley’s place fun?!! Glad I could bring you along for your first visit. :)

  • [...] thrilled to be guest posting for my friend Hayley at The Tiny Twig today. Be sure to swing over there and share your thoughts on how to create a life of “more [...]

  • [...] week you will find Darcy at Message in a Mason Jar, but also on The Tiny Twig! Either way, you will enjoy more insight into the life and writing of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and [...]

  • I have shelf full of portable crafts. Knitting for long drives. Button Headbands for sitting pool side. Looker hooking for a play date at a friends house. These bags go every where with me for creativity on the go.

  • Reply July 13, 2012

    amber

    Darcy,

    I love the pictures. It feels comforting and grounding to know that people are fundamentally the same in all time periods. Love the old pictures.

    Tiny Twig,
    I love the blog and the tagline. Good to find you through Darcy’s blog.

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