My First Time Experiencing a Salt Spa

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The Groupon was a gift from my sister/maid-of-honor, meant to help me relax right before my wedding day.

But as I listened to what I was about to experience, my palms starting to sweat and my heart start to race.

“It’s like being on the inside of a snow globe,” said the employee.  “It’s totally normal if you start coughing or your nose starts running – that just means that the salt is helping to remove toxins from your body.  Just make sure you breath in through your nose and out through your mouth.”

So, I’m basically willingly entering a gas chamber is what you’re telling me, I thought to myself.

Adding to my panic was the fact that I had made this appointment thinking it was a massage. After all, it had the word “spa” in it.  I thought it was going to be some exfoliating massage with salt.

A woman who was leaving said the experience is “incredible.” She looked so relaxed.

Maybe she’s high from the airborne salt crystals and she doesn’t even realize what she’s saying.

“It’s really relaxing,” the employee continued.  “You’ll just fall asleep and the next thing you know, the session will be over and you won’t even know what happened or where the time went.”

So, I’m basically going to be drugged on the salt crystals and incapacitated for 45 minutes, was my first thought.

Man, I have some serious control issues, was my second thought.

As I envisioned myself locked in a room with visible salt particles flying through the air, I started to get more panicky.

The employee seemed to notice.

“You can leave the room at any time if you’re uncomfortable; the room won’t be locked,” he assured me. “And you’re not alone, you’re with other people. Let me show you a room.”

We opened a door and two women were sitting in reclining seats, facing a serene blue wall as soft music played in the background. Their feet were stuck in mounds of sand covering the ground.

“Let me show you the pharmaceutical-grade salt that we use,” he said. “Maybe that will help.”

He took me to the side room, where it looked like they were cooking salt in a crockpot.

I really appreciated him walking me through my fears. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting to need to convince someone this much to relax and enjoy a spa treatment.

I resolved to woman-up and try the experience for at least 15 minutes.  If I didn’t like it or if I felt like I was starting to lose consciousness (carbon-monoxide-poisoning style), I would just get up and leave, I resolved.

As I settled into my chair (or was it my final resting place?!), my overactive imagination wondered if the salt would be silent-but-deadly, traveling through the air and into my nasal passageway, poisoning me before I realized it.

To my initial surprise and then minor annoyance, a fan started loudly whirring at about that moment, announcing to all of us that THE ROOM WAS NOW FILLING WITH SALT PARTICLES!!!

Luckily, I had taken off my glasses earlier at the recommendation of the employee (I guess they can get pretty dirty in a salt spa) and so I couldn’t see the particles careening through the air.

Thoughts raced through my head as I “enjoyed” this “peaceful” and “amazing” spa treatment: How is this not the same thing as a gas chamber? Are we all going to fall asleep and never wake up? Maybe it’s not that big of a deal – maybe it’s like when you go into the mines and there are some particles in the air. Or that time I went to Bolivia and the air was definitely arid and dusty.  Or at Christmas time when they’re lighting a tree in Florida and the fake snow falls from a fan above and you breathe that stuff in. I never died during any of those previous experiences.]

I kept thinking my chest was starting to tighten up too. I think I was just nervous. But I also wondered if that was the feeling caused by salt entering my lungs. I tried to stay vigilant to see if the sensation worsened.

Despite my racing mind and some new body sensations (and the lady next to me who was hacking up a storm. She must have had a LOT of toxins in her body), I found myself starting to doze.  Every time I felt myself slipping into unconsciousness, I defensively jerked awake.

But eventually, it happened to me too: I slipped into unconscouness and then suddenly the employee was opening the door and I had no idea what happened. But I sure was glad I’d survived!

When I arrived home later, I did some research on what the hell salt spas were anyway.

Evidently, they have been around for hundreds of years. One noted physician studied how miners in salt caves tended to have good health (including lower rates of lung diseases), even though mining was traditionally associated with health problems.

The Polish physician, Dr. Feliks Boczkowski, went on to found and open the first health resort facility at the Wieliczka Salt Mine in 1839.

“The benefits of salt therapy are wide-ranging,” reported Organic Spa Magazine. “… The negatively charged ions in salt improve our health and mood. Inhaling particles may reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs, improving respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinus congestion and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

The article went on to say that it can also help with skin conditions like eczema.

Other places reported that 45 minutes at a salt spa is equivalent to three days at the beach!

For me, I think I’d prefer the beach!

I mean, I’m glad I tried it and I’m glad I stayed for the entire 45 minutes. And I will say that my skin smelled great afterward and there was this satisfaction of my lips tasting salty afterward – like I really had been at the beach.

But there was something a bit too hokey or new-agey about the experience.  And I kind of feel like I could have enjoyed a lot of the same relaxation benefits (for free!) by just sitting back in my recliner in the dark and listening to some Enigma at home.

Be well.

 

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47 Observations On That Special Time Between His Proposal and Our Wedding

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In 30 days, I will be walking down the steps to the beach to marry my media naranja – thus ending an adrenaline-filled 5-month engagement.

I’m so excited to become his Mrs. –  To have the chance to love and honor and cherish him every single day and to have a life partner with whom I can grow old.

I gotta say though: Part of me is already missing the engagement.

Frankly, the wedding planning has been super stimulating.

And, without even realizing it, I’ve become a wedding-planning junkie.  Now like never before, it makes sense why there’s such a thing as the post-wedding blues.

This is just such a unique time in my life and I can see how it will be sad when it’s over because, if I’ve chosen my mate wisely (and I’m pretty sure I have), this will be the first and only time in my life that I’ll ever be planning my wedding.

So I thought I’d take a moment to celebrate my not-long-for-the-world fiance-hood by sharing….

Some Surprising Observations I’ve Made During My Engagement (in no particular order)

I relished in the opportunity to mention “my fiancé” with whoever would listen – including my eye doctor, the gas station clerk and a parent of one of my students.

Just saying “fiancé” felt so elitist and yet I loved saying it anyway.

I’m still not in the habit of putting on my engagement ring everyday. I think part of that is because I’m not used to it but part of it is because I have this deep desire to protect it in order to keep it in pristine condition for our wedding day.

People I hardly knew asked me specific questions about everything from my dress to my venue and I oscillated between feeling eager to gab over all of the little details and wanting to keep them private.

Early in the wedding planning process, some guests made unnecessary drama for us by complaining we’d picked a day that conflicted with a work engagement and also by not even RSVP’ing – even though she was asked to be in the wedding party.

I recognized the dress that would become The One the moment I tried it on. And I was fortunate that it was during my first wedding dress shopping excursion.

I still think it’s weird that a store clerk has to be with you when you’re trying on wedding dresses and that you’re not allowed to do it alone.

The first month of our engagement, I couldn’t think of anything but wedding planning.

Once the initial rush of wedding planning wore off, I became sick of it for about two months and procrastinated on making any wedding plans at all.

Then, towards the end of our engagement, I became obsessed again about all the details left to be decided upon.

It surprised me which guests RSVPd Yes.  And which guests RSVPd No.  But either way, I learned not to take it personally.

My fiancé surprised me by how passionate he could be about certain aspects of the wedding (ie, what the wedding invitations looked like) while how ambivalent he could be about other parts (like what drinks we should include at the reception).

I surprised myself by how passionately I cared about certain things. For instance, I started getting really tense when my mom and dad were looking at dresses outside of the bridal party color scheme.

When I finished with planning the wedding details, I felt bummed that there was not more to plan and spun my wheels looking for anything I might have overlooked.

I became addicted to online shopping as I purchased items for the wedding. Seriously, it’s like an unannounced Christmas at your doorstep every time a package arrives!

Whenever I talked with them, I’d secretly hope my friends would casually ask “How’s the wedding planning going?” so I’d have an excuse to share about the latest plans we’d made.

I still don’t understand the difference between what we’re doing during the entrance song and what we’re doing during our first dance and at this point, I’m too afraid to ask.

I started with a conservative wedding budget and then, as I neared the wedding date, I started caring less and less about blowing it.  But it’s still under $9,000 (and we’re paying for it with cash) so I’m proud of that.

Going to other people’s weddings to either A) Steal ideas or B) Critique what you didn’t like was fun for me and my fiancé.

Wedding websites like The Knot and Wedding Wire are amazing. I got to the point where I felt like their writers were the only ones who understood what I was going through.

 

I was amazed by how – for being a girl who never put too much thought into weddings before – I all of a sudden had an opinion on every minor detail of wedding planning.

And the different aspects of planning for a wedding just kept coming and coming and coming and coming.

Any excursion became a wedding item treasure hunt. One time we went to the Renaissance Festival and I quizzed one of the merchants on where he’d bought his treasure chest.

Writing our story for our wedding website was one of the most fun parts of planning our wedding.

Shopping for registry items was surprisingly fun – and I was relieved we passed the Registry Shopping Test. The Bed Bath & Beyond employee who helped us said she’d been a witness to many a couple’s marriages falling apart before it began over dinner plates and bedroom curtains.

There was a moment when I realized I’d been in the black hole of wedding planning for a while and I started to miss the normalcy of just regular dates with my beau and outings with friends – you know, the opportunity to just slow down and take in life instead of being in a wedding-planning frenzy.

Given that, I’m glad we had a relatively short engagement of just five months. That way this surreal time in life doesn’t drag out forever (potentially increasing the letdown of the post-wedding blues)

Going from “boyfriend and girlfriend” to fiancés definitely gave our relationship more clout. It just feels more long-term and stable.

I haven’t felt such a strong desire to hustle for money in quite a long time.

I really wanted to have more married couple friends when I suddenly realized I have no idea how to be a wife to someone for the next 50 years.

I got engaged and all of a sudden people were openly making bets on how long it was going to be before I got pregnant.

The fear of not fitting into my wedding dress was real – even though I haven’t gained or loss more than 5 pounds in the last several years.

I’m glad we saved money on certain things that wedding guests don’t even care about anyway.

Picking the color scheme and choosing the napkins was harder than picking the dress or the venue!  (Why were these trivial things such a hang up for us?!)

I found Thumbtack by chance while doing a Google search and it ended up being a Godsend! Through the site, I put out requests for bids and was able to hire my stylist, my caterer, my DJ and my photographer – all for very reasonable prices!

I suddenly had a lot of of appreciation for all of the work that brides of weddings past have done. And I regretted not appreciating their efforts (much less, complimenting them on it) more in the past.

There’s a strong desire to look the best I’ve ever looked for my wedding and I’m not sure where that comes from. But I do know I have already made waxing appointments, teeth whitening investments and diet resolutions all in the name of this wedding.

Part of me wishes my fiancé and I had waited until our wedding night to have sex for the first time. But frankly, abstaining for the month beforehand is going to be hard enough!

I’m actually pretty impressed by how I avoided becoming a Bridezilla during all this wedding planning (although admittedly, I have had a number of crying spells when I hit a bump in the road with plans).

I’m also pretty impressed with how well my fiancé and I worked together to make decisions.  This season did not tear us apart, it brought us closer together!

I loved playing our wedding songs on the road whenever I needed a little pick-me-up.

And after dozens of listens, our “First Dance” song still gets me crying.

I was glad we stayed true to who we are while planning this wedding – even if I am a little nervous about certain aspects of it and how my family and friends will respond (such as the fact that we won’t be putting chairs on the beach for the ceremony or providing alcohol as a social lubricant during dance time).

Every time I asked married friends for wedding advice, they said the same thing: Take it all in and don’t get caught up on the little stuff because it goes by so fast. It seems so important to remember that and yet I’m not even sure how to maximize that apply on my own wedding day.

Hearing my friend say she couldn’t wait to meet “the hubby” sounded so weird the first time I heard it.

Yet, there’s a comforting peace that’s fallen over me as I reflect on my fiancé, our relationship and the lifelong commitment we’re about the make to each other.

Be well.

 

My Last Apartment as a Single Woman

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Okay my bathroom isn’t as bad as this stock photo but it’s pretty bad!

My fiancé and I are officially four months away from saying “I Do” on a beach in Jupiter in front of our family and friends and I couldn’t be more excited!

Ever since he proposed on November 24, life has been such an adrenaline rush of celebrating with loved ones, wedding planning and marriage preparation.

I will get married just two weeks shy of my 30th birthday and I feel like the timing is perfect. After all, not only am I starting a new decade of my life in May, I’m also starting my new life as a married woman.

I love what the Internet has on all stages of being engaged and what changes when you’re engaged. From my experience so far, it’s all true! You just feel different when you’re engaged.  As one article so aptly put it, your relationship is suddenly legitimate in a way it never was before.

And this article is particularly on-point and hilarious!

I also love the psychological articles I’ve read about how engagement also carries with it some undertones of grief because you’re saying goodbye to your identity as a single woman.

And in fact, that’s what I wanted to write about today.  Specifically, the fact that that I am currently sitting in my last apartment as a single woman.

When that phrase entered my mind the other day, it really stopped me in my tracks. It was a novel way to look at the big life change I’m about the make.

Not counting the college years, I’ve had my own apartment since I was 21 years old. By the time I get married, that will be 9 years of my life.

I’ve had a couple of stints where boyfriends lived in MY place for a few months .  And I had a friend who rented a room from me for a little more than a year.  But for the most part, it’s just been me and my dog for these last 9 years.

Altogether, my dog and I have lived in five apartments and one townhome (the first home I ever owned, with a big help from my parents to make it possible) together.

I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences and firsts as a single woman that I wouldn’t exchange for anything.  I learned how to do my own laundry, how to cook my first 3-course meal, how to cook my first tres leches cake, how to change a lightbulb and hang a picture, how to plant bushes in my backyard (with my mom’s help), how to iron my work shirts….

I’ve battled cockroaches in my middle of the day, mice in the middle of the night, and scared off a snake that was dangerously close to my dog in the backyard.

Okay, and in addition to being a badass who’s not afraid of anything, I’ve also been a bit of a slob.

Frankly, being the queen of your own castle can make you pretty set in your ways.

For years, I haven’t had to worry about someone else being offended by all of my dog’s fur on the floor (which really never bothered me).  I have been able to dance around my apartment like a madwoman and cook naked without concerning myself with how I might seem to others.  I’ve neglected shaving my legs for weeks in the winter and I’ve been a strict follower of the “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” bathroom philosophy since pretty much forever.

I’ve only bothered with picking my hair out of the shower drain when the water no longer drained and I have often had half of my clothing properly hung on a hanger and the other half strewn over all of my furniture.

I’ve been able to watch whatever shows I want to watch whenever I want to watch them, waddle bare-bottomed to the linen closet when I realize I’m out of toilet paper, and masturbate whenever I want to without worry of someone walking in on me.

When I’ve felt sad, I’ve always had the option of just turning off my phone, lying in bed and listening to sad music without the risk of some loved one trying to break up my pity party.  And if ever I wanted to eat cereal or a pack of cookies for the third night in a row, no one was there to stop me.

Basically, over the last 9 years, I’ve gotten to be my unedited, pure, dorky, disgusting self without having to concern myself at all with appearing put-together, lady-like or neat.

But this May, all of that changes.

I am spending the next four months saying goodbye to the last apartment I’ll own as a single woman.

And you know, part of me is sad to let go of the reality I’ve known for the last 9 years. But also, I’m excited to finally get to share my life with the man of my dreams.

Living with my husband is going to mean I’m going to have to learn to share the crown.  It’s going to mean I’m going to need to be a little less selfish and a little more compromising.  I’ll need to be a little more of a mature woman and a little less of an impulsive college student (because, you know, college was 8 years ago). It means I’m going to want to consider his preferences for dinner and – gasp – learn my way around a vacuum and broom a little better (The feminist in me wants to clarify that my fiancé will be participating in the cooking and cleaning too – heck, he’s better than me at both of those things currently).

But hey, maybe not all things will change. My fiancé has said with an impish grin that he’s totally fine with me cooking naked.  And he said as long as I don’t just leave my dirty tampons slung out just anywhere (because, you know, that’s not too far from my reality at times), he’s fine if I occasionally neglect to flush the toilet.

I’m excited for this beautiful, challenging, rewarding adventure we’re about to embark on together as husband and wife. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner. If anyone was going to domesticate this free-spirited chick, it was going to be him.  He’s amazing and I already feel like a better person for having him in my life.

So bring it on, married life!  I’m ready for this new chapter of life!  And in the meantime, I’ll be savoring the last few months of being an unevolved cavewoman in my last apartment as a single woman.

Be well.

 

 

 

 

The Revolving Door of Indifferent Friendships

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Something that’s always puzzled me about the nature of adult friendships is how fragile they can be.

One month, you’re texting regularly, having great heart-to-hearts and even getting together for coffee or a movie.  The next month, it seems like the person has become totally indifferent to your existence.  Or worse: Resentful of it.

Or maybe they just ghosted in your life and you don’t know what way they feel about you.

Does anyone else feel emotional whiplash whenever that happens?

I feel like it’s happened a number of times in my life – most recently, this week.

And each time it does happen, I’ve tried to analyze what exactly happened and if there was anything I could have done to prevent it. Continue reading

7 Thoughts During My Second Florida Hurricane: Irma

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Florida had only been my home for two months when Hurricane Matthew stuck last October.

At the time, I faced the hurricane’s landfall with denial: Ignoring news reports and waiting until the very last minute to get gas and groceries (I got three cans of soup, a six-pack of Gatorade since water was out and some Cheez-Its. I figured that would do it).

Right before Matthew struck, it occurred to me I should do a better job protecting my car, which usually sits in a parking space outside. But the parking deck was full.  So I moved it into a reserved resident spot in the parking garage, hoping that person had evacuated.  I left a note with my number in case I was wrong.

Many neighbors and newly-formed friends in Florida offered to take me in but I opted to ride out the storm with my dog in my own apartment.

Luckily, although Matthew originally looked like it was heading straight for us here in Jupiter, it wobbled at the last minute – sparing us from a direct hit.

I figured I’d gotten lucky with Matthew: Even though I was grossly unprepared, God had protected us by sending Matthew further up the coast. I vowed to be much more prepared for the next Hurricane Season.

So when it became clear Hurricane Irma was heading straight for Florida, I went into preparation mode early.

I filled up my gas tank six days before it was supposed to make landfall.  I left my car indefinitely parked in the garage four days before it hit Florida.  We got a heck of lot more groceries this time (including bottles of water with electrolytes!). I moved all of my furniture away from my storm-resistant windows and even had time to put up hurricane shutters for my boyfriend’s friends.  And I stayed glued to the news reports for the last week, obsessively tracking Irma’s every move.

Originally, Irma looked likely to directly hit Florida’s East coast, including Jupiter.  But as the days passed on, it became clear that Irma was headed for Florida’s West coast instead.

And as I write this this morning, Irma’s outer bands are striking Jupiter.  But thus far, it’s not even as strong as what I experienced with Matthew.  And Matthew wasn’t much at all here save for a few moments of flickering lights and some scary minutes of wind howling and horizontal rain.

Perhaps that will change as the morning wears on.  And I know that already, Irma has caused a lot of wind damage, flooding devastation and even deaths across the Caribbean and now the Keys.

But while I sit in my apartment waiting for the storm to pass, I figured I’d take a moment to share my 7 thoughts on hurricane season in Florida:

  • A little preparation goes a long way toward peace of mind.  If a hurricane even so much as looks like it’s heading toward your area, go ahead and get the hurricane supplies before the crowds arrive at the stores.  You’ll save yourself time and maybe even money. Plus, the annoying task of getting prepared won’t be looming over your head. And given that a lot of canned items are good for more than a year, don’t count it as wasted money if the storm never comes.  Think of it as an investment in next year’s hurricane season!
  • Everybody could use a helping hand or a word of encouragement during a hurricane. At this point, I’ve been on both the receiving and the giving side of this.  Last year, as a new Florida resident, it meant the world to me when my neighbors and co-workers that I barely knew as well as strangers were offering to help me with hurricane preparations and were even opening their home to me.  And this year, I had the opportunity to help put shutters on an older woman’s house.  I also really appreciated all of the texts of concerns I got from friends in Florida and North Carolina. And as I’ve talked with more people this week, I’ve realized we’re all dealing with a lot of stress: Whether it’s the idea of spending days locked in the house with an in-law we don’t like or the threat of damage to our home or loss of life.  We could all use a sympathetic ear at this time. Besides, when everybody comes together during a disaster, we’re the best prepared for whatever the hurricane brings.
  • Stress-eating your emergency snacks days before the hurricane actually hits is a very real problem. I’ve almost eaten an entire box of cookies and freaking Irma hasn’t even hit the Florida mainland.   It’s actually a big joke here in Florida.  Everyone seems to break into the hurricane snacks a bit too early.
  • No one knows where these hurricanes will end up.  So prepare as best you can and then turn off the news.  If you expect the worse, there will be no need to waste time watching every single update. And I’m saying this as a former reporter.  I just feel so jaded that I spent so much of the last five days of my life being glued to the spaghetti models.  I mean, the models literally swung from as far east as just off the coast of Florida to as far west as the Gulf of Mexico.  Next year, when a hurricane looks like it’s heading my way, I’ll just go ahead with my worst-case scenario hurricane preparations and then ignore the news until the 6 hours before it’s supposed to hit my area.  Otherwise, what’s the point when things can change so much along the way?
  • Hurricane impact can sometimes feel like luck of the draw.  Right now, I’m sitting in my apartment with the lights on and the sunlight coming in, feeling bored as I’m looking at a glorified overcast day.  Meanwhile, my boyfriend (who lives five minutes away) is probably feeling like a mole as he’s staying in a completely shuttered home with the power out.  And just 30 minutes north of here, people are dealing with flooded streets and homes. It all doesn’t seem logical but take the hand that’s dealt with you, be grateful for what is going right and navigate conditions accordingly.
  • Be patient with yourself and give yourself the grace to do whatever you feel like doing as you wait out the storm.  Hurricanes feel like “hurry up and wait” sometimes.  There’s all this rush to get your supplies and to get boarded up and then… it’s just a whole lot of waiting.  Here in Palm Beach County, a curfew went into effect at 3 p.m. yesterday.  And now it’s 9 a.m. here and there still hasn’t been much of anything yet in Jupiter. The cabin fever is real.  So be patient with yourself with whatever you do during this time, whether it’s stress eating, binge watching Netflix while the power is on or catching up on work.  Heck, Thursday-Saturday, we pretty much just laid in bed and watched tv and went out to restaurants. Today, I’m cleaning up emails, reading  and writing.  Okay and also eating a whole box of cookies. So whatever it takes to get you through the storm, do it. Hurricane time (and calories) don’t really count.
  • Keep your sense of humor. Whether you’re dealing with extreme cabin fever or devastating flood damage, your mental health can really take a hit during a hurricane. So after you’ve done all the preparing and praying that you can do, enjoy a little laugh.  I do love that Floridians have a great sense of humor when it comes to hurricanes. And you don’t even have to look far to find some pretty clever memes or some hilarious Dave Barry hurricane commentary.  And remember: You’re not alone. We’re all in this together. And when the storm passes, we’ll be there as a community to pick up the pieces – or at least all the empty boxes of cookies.

Be well.

 

Made for Me – A Poem

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Six years in this place, you’d think I’d be stronger

Six years in this place, you’d think I’d be cured

But my defiance is growing, my defenses are down

Your cunning coup was all but ensured

 

The poor man doesn’t know I’m leaving him

The poor sap doesn’t know I’m already gone

He loved me right and honored me fine

But all I wanted was to be your pawn

 

I know when we’re reunited, you’re gonna hurt me

I know when we’re alone, you’ll chain me down

I’ll be on my knees begging for mercy

Knowing it was I who gave you the crown

 

Intrusive thoughts enter my head at night

Urging me to run toward your ambivalent arms

My weakness is what makes you stronger

My self-loathing makes me fall for your charms

 

You tell me you’re the only one who understands

You say my identity belongs with you

I believe you because I need a scapegoat

To justify why I’m feeling so blue

 

I know when we’re reunited, you’re gonna beat me

I know when we’re alone, you’ll turn on me

I’ll be on my knees begging for mercy

Knowing that there’s nowhere to flee

 

Did you miss me, baby?

Did you crave me daily?

The music and writing, the blood and the fighting

It’s like you were made for me.

 

Did you miss me, baby?

Did you crave me daily?

The music and writing, the blood and the fighting

It’s like you were made for me.

 

The one who truly loved me is long gone

And my fight for freedom has waned

And now I see you laughing over me

Knowing in your grip I’ll remain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting A Nude Beach For the First Time: My 60 Minutes as a Naturist

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If the sign outside of Haulover Beach had been any more nonchalant, we might have missed it: “Attention: Beyond this point you may encounter nude bathers.”

Even more casual was the transition from clothed to nude beach.  As we walked up the sandy path towards the beach, we encountered our first penis mixed in with bikinis and swim trunks.

Then, all of a sudden: There were just a few bikinis and swim trunks mixed in with an array of penises and boobs.

I had been excited to cross this Before-I-Turn-30 item off of my Bucket List.  But the cavalier approach to nudity sent me into a temporary panic.

Holy cow.  There are more penises flopping around than an orgy scene in a porno. There are more bare asses than the locker room at the Superbowl. 

And while there were a few women on the beach who had also decided to bare it all, there was a clear difference between the representation of men and women.

I wondered why the amount of men wanting to set their penises free was so much higher than the number of women wanting to liberate their vaginas.

I grabbed on to my boyfriend’s arm nervously as we searched for the perfect place to plop down.  We restlessly wandered almost all of the way to the end of the beach before we realized that the proportion of men to women was becoming more unbalanced, not less.

I can’t be the only woman getting naked among all of these men.  Even if they are gay (as I was sure a bit of them were), I’ll still feel like some vulnerable piece of meat, laid out in front of hungry wolves.

We turned around and headed back to the start of the nude part of Haulover Beach, where we’d seen at least a few other women.  And while the proportion still leaned heavily toward men (and most of the women had opted just to go topless and not all the way nude), I definitely felt more comfortable with the idea of getting naked.

We considered renting an umbrella to protect the parts of our skin that had never seen sunlight.  But $15 felt steep for the hour we were going to be there.

Instead, we found an older nude couple who had a huge umbrella and asked if we could sit under the edge of their umbrella.

They were happy to share.

The normalcy of the exchange was striking.

Sitting in the shade of Naked Older Hippie Couple’s umbrella with our bathing suits on, I felt my heart beat increase.

Am I really about to take off my clothes? I was all excited but now I feel like I’m going to throw up.  This is so surreal.

My boyfriend and I theorized who these people were and what their motivations were for being at a nude beach.  Were they perverts? Were they staunch advocates for the naturalist movement? How does one even end up on a nude beach?

Silence fell over us as we both looked around and pondered the inevitability of our mission. Continue reading

When Writer’s Block Got the Best of Me & How I Broke Free

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There’s a scene in Never Been Kissed where the main character Josie, who is a writer, receives such great news that she becomes speechless.  She has no words.

“That’s never happened to me!” she squeals excitedly. “Words are my life!”

Well, I found myself waking up to that same realization recently. Only, the speechlessness wasn’t momentary, it lasted for over a year. And the cause wasn’t something amazing happening in my life, it was the dreaded writer’s block finding another victim.

The realization that I had somehow gone months without feeling inspired to express anything, much less put the pen to paper, made me panicked.  All of a sudden, I felt like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, helpless without her voice.

Yet, for all my desire to get something out, I couldn’t quite figure out what that something was supposed to be.  I didn’t feel like I had anything to say and yet something inside of me begged to let it out. The dichotomy had me frozen in confusion.

“Writer’s block,” my cousin say. “Write about that.”

Hmm, what a novel idea.  Frankly, I had always assumed writer’s block was something that only lasted a few days or, at most, a couple of weeks. And I had always assumed that it only came up when one was working on a specific piece. I didn’t think it came up between works.

But as I dug deeper (ha, Wikipedia. I went to Wikipedia), I learned that writer’s block describes a condition where either a writer experiences a drop in creativity during the writing process (what I thought) or a writer is unable to produce new work at all. And evidently, it can be so bad that it can prevent writers from producing any new work for years!

Even more interesting were the causes behind writer’s block. Some of them include:

  • A writer running out of inspiration or becoming distracted by other life events.
  • Creativity being blocked by stressful circumstances in the writer’s life, such as depression, the end of a relationship or financial problems.
  • The author’s creativity drying up in response to the pressure to produce something – anything!
  • The writer feeling so intimidated by their past successes that they’re rendered impotent.

And I absolutely loved this excerpt from Wikipedia: “James Adams notes in his book, Conceptual Blockbusting, various reasons blocks occur include fear of taking a risk, “chaos” in the pre-writing stage, judging versus generating ideas, an inability to incubate ideas, or a lack of motivation.”

I started reflecting a bit on what was really causing my creativity blockage. Why have I only been able to write one blog in the last 13 months? Why do I have three unfinished drafts of blogs right now? What happened to the opinionated, introspective, mindful woman I used to be?

It wasn’t long before I started recalling some thoughts that I have had before, during or after any recent attempts to write:

Continue reading

12 Things I Plan to Do Before Turning 30

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Welcome to the Seeker’s Passage!

I’m so excited to be starting this blog on the eve of my 29th birthday. I previously had a blog that chronicled my mid-20s but decided it was time to step over to a blog that could travel with me through my late 20s and beyond!

I hope this blog is a bit of a continuation of the mission I started on my first blog, which is to “find my way and share my finds.” For that reason, you’ll find the same ambitious lifetime Bucket List as before.  But I also hope this blog evolves as I do.

So thanks for sharing this journey with me!

For my initial post, I thought it would be fitting to post my Before-I-Turn-30 Bucket List.  I scoured the Internet for the best recommendations of experiences you should have before your turn 30.

Some of them were deep like “Learn to Love Yourself Unconditionally” and “Forgive Your Parents,” which is beautiful but, A) Not necessarily something tangible you can do and then check off forever and B) Not necessarily something you would want to limit within the confines of a date on the calendar.

So I stuck with the items that I can feasibly and physically do this year.

I must say, I was pleased with how I have already accomplished a lot of the suggested goals at some point in my 20s. Continue reading