Tag Archives: ocean

trusting that moment of release

Relax_harderWe push ourselves hard to relax right. We give ourselves too little time after too long working too much for too many days in a row, and then we expect ourselves to relax at the drop of a hat. Relax, damnit! There’s only these two days of weekend before we have to get back to work! Hurry up and unwind! The pressure to unclench just adds more stress, when we’re supposed to do it both correctly and on a timeline. We tighten more, knot up a little harder, and can’t understand what people mean when they talk about self-care. Who has time to relax? we want to know. There’s just so much to do. And what does relax mean, anyway, for those of us who tensed up as a way of protecting ourselves from the violence that forced its way into our bodies? Don’t those “Just Relax” people know that, for us, being clenched was our radical self care?

What can relax mean for us, then, when being curled into a tight ball was the safest position? What does it take for us to unfurl what has been bound and rigid within ourselves, to trust that we can be safe when we are exposed?

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We’ve had two floating-wave days, two too-hot-to-walk-on-the-sand-let’s-get-back-in-the-water days. Days where I’ve been in the water enough that the sea’s rhythm finally entered my blood. Last night I sat on shore, at dinner, lay in bed, and something in me was still swaying, pushing out and sucking back in. Just now I feel it in my shoulders, around and through the deep part of my chest.

This morning I was out in the water at 9am, the beach still relatively empty; the only other people in the water were the surfers, seal-slick in their wetsuits, and a lone paddleboarder who lay prostrate on his board like he was a reverent welcoming the sun. I stretched my body out in the buoyant salt water and did the same, offering myself to sun and undulance, offering myself to morning-soft air so thick it clings to the skin in droplets, offered myself to the tiny minnows flashing around my ankles in their flickering schools. Offering myself to tern screams and sea gull cries and the waft of plover wings as the body of their flock drifted low over the nearby shore. A few minutes later, some neighbor kids came out and took their place in the water, four of them, at first with nothing to arm themselves against the waves but their bodies — the boogie boards came later.

Here is where I lean again into learning to trust being present and relaxed at the same time. My head dropped down below the surface, ears filling just so and what I hear is not the cheers of the surfers catching a swell or the screams of the kids in the midst of their morning ablutions, but the swish of undercurrent waves, my own breath, the roll of water all around me. I close my eyes, just for a moment (I know better than to keep my eyes closed on mother sea) and just let myself float. Just let myself be bouyed up. For a moment, I imagine two hands, I imagine the body of the sea as mother — of course I do. I imagine this as a place where I can relax, a place I can trust. Just for a moment, I lean all the way in. I relax my arms, legs, quit treading water, I just float. Just for a moment.

That one moment, that deep relax, makes all the difference to me, is what I search for during these days at the water. It’s akin to that moment when I’m on the dance floor — you know that moment, when everything is in sync: the music and the gathered dancers, the bass is perfect and I am in flow, my body sweating hard, I am grinning, I am nearly panting, it’s maybe the better part of the way through the night but the dj has been on a roll and every song is good, every song is so good that I can’t bring myself to step off the floor for a second, I don’t want to miss a moment of it, and the energy of everyone is charged and joyful, and I feel my whole body, my whole self, engage. The rest of everything else falls away. Anything else falls away. Nothing else matters but these beats this circle of muscle and sweat and joy this urgency this well-oiled press forward. Something clicks into gear, we are just in the right now, and in this right now, everything is all right. Everything is better than all right: we are safe enough to be all right, we are alive and alive and alive.

That moment of unfurling into the water’s hold is like that, that moment where everything else falls away, and for a second, you don’t have to worry about the to-do list, you don’t have to worry about taking care of anyone else, you don’t have to worry about everything that’s wrong with you or all that you regret or all you haven’t yet accomplished in  your life. In that moment, you are sheer delight, sheer pleasure, sheer gratitude, sheer presence.

You know — of course you know — what it means to allow ourselves to trust anything or anyone enough to lean in and let down our guard, put away the Watcher that hangs out over our shoulder or at the backside of our consciousness and worries the bones of us with its panics and reminders of all that is still wrong, all that is not safe, all that is not healed, all that is still broken — what it means to give ourselves that moment of peace and ease.

That good moment — I got to soak into that today. And it sunk all the way down into my bones.

an exclusive reading this Friday — plus staplers!

image -- black stapler holding a tomato

This will make sense if you read on -- honest.

This Friday, Declaring Our Erotic readers are going to participate in a private fundraiser in Oakland for the Growing Connections mural project (www.growingconnectionsmural.com)!  You can join us!

Day/time: Friday, July 30 , 6:30-9pm

There’ll be food and drinks, all offered for a small donation, excellent mingling in a lovely West Oakland location, plus an intimate erotic reading!

Please RSVP for address — space is limited to about 30 guests!
Notes about the location:
There is a nice garden area outside with 3 fire pits.
The space is wheelchair accessible, however the bathrooms are not.
There is a big, furry cat who lives in the space. Anyone who is allergic should consider this.
This is a scented environment; all scents are natural, organic and from essential oils, however scent-sensitive folks will need to be aware of this.

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Saturday, Fresh! and I went to the beach at Bolinas, and I followed my urge to swim — I hadn’t brought a bathing suit, but I had brought a change of clothes, so I walked into the water, with all my clothes on, and swam around for awhile.  I still have sand in my hair, which makes for a lovely Monday morning, I think.

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Last Thursday was the first meeting of the MedEd Writers, a group of writers made up of Medical Education Staff at UCSF. We’re getting together for an hour a week, with the idea that 1) taking time out for a break from your regular work is a good idea, and 2) making space for creative engagement will increase your capacity for creativity all through your work day.

We are going to have a lot of fun, I can tell already.

Here’s one of the exercises I offered at the first meeting: I brought in a desktop-full of office supplies (sticky notes, dry erase markers, a rotary phone, paper clips, puffy manila envelope, folders, clamps, and many more). I asked us to notice which object was choosing us, and then we wrote like this: for 5 minutes, we described what the object is generally used for.  Then, for 5 more minutes, we wrote about what the object would like to be or wished to be used for.

Here’s my response to that prompt:

The stapler brings the paper together, it goes home in the crunching, it levels the playing field so no thing gets lost.  The stapler rocks in your hand, it clusters the diaspora, it brings the disparate together by force and sharp teeth; and the mouth is always open, it knows what it’s looking for, it brings home the bacon.

The stapler wishes it could be a rubber band, something elastic and strummy, forever changing shape with the desire and designs of the beloved, something that holds together with a force that doesn’t have to be pried open.  The stapler would like to clutch together a little girls pigtails, but every time it tries, someone screams and gets angry. It would like to clutch gently someday to a round pile of papers, cylinder-ing them into something you could look through, then unfurl, instead of hammering always with a force like the loss of hope, like it can’t trust you to stay together otherwise.

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This week is tonight’s Write Whole workshop, Thursday’s MedEd workshop, and a grant that’s due to Intersection. What’s on tap for you?