Thursday, August 29, 2013

Every Day As Vacation

So my son, Kendryek, and I were in Washington, DC, over Spring Break to see the cherry blossoms and take in some museums. A friend and neighbor previously told me she planned to take her son to the Holocaust Museum to help with his history lesson. I thought that was a great idea, so I also took Kendryek to the Holocaust Museum. I've been in that museum plenty of times, having worked just 2 blocks away for 16 years. I always approached the museum and its exhibits intellectually with my friend and coworker, Mark Gielecki, whose father was a Holocaust survivor. Mark was always very upbeat and told me positive stories about his father's survival. Walking through the Holocaust museum turned into an honor to Mark's father, and it felt good to honor him.

14th Street Entrance of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Once Kendryek and I got to the front door, we were greeted with a sign that said all exhibits were sold out for the day. All except, "Remember the Children: Daniel's Story," about an eleven year old boy's life before, during, and after the Holocaust. It's very well done, offering sounds, period-appropriate decor and clothes, and journal entries to heighten as many senses as possible for the viewer. Slowly walking through the first part of the exhibit, we heard children's laughter from the exhibit, parents' whispers explaining details to their children around us, exhibit knobs and buttons being pushed by viewers, gentle movement of those in front and behind us ...and then as we walked through a room resembling a cattle car, the mood became more solemn. We could hear a pin drop. The air felt stale. The exhibit was now in black and white instead of color, as it was previously. The gravity of the Holocaust, from a child's perspective, was felt.

I felt sad.

At the end of the exhibit, Kendryek and I walked into the gift shop, where Kendryek bought a Star of David necklace to wear in honor of children who had suffered. As he made his purchase, I walked into the atrium, with its high ceiling of glass panels, allowing sunlight to shine through. I looked up and had a moment of awakening. "I'm so tired of death and sadness," I thought. "So tired of grieving and depression and the energy it's taken and how my body feels." Kendryek walked over to me and stood beside me. And it was in that moment that I released a huge chunk of locked-up grief. I didn't cry; I just felt the grief energy disappear "Come on," I told Kendryek. "No more doom and gloom. From now on, we're having FUN!"

And we did! We saw an Imax movie at the Smithsonian, rode the paddle boats at the tidal basin, went to the beach and rented bikes and flew kites ... with a new lightness I hadn't experienced in a while.

On our way home from the beach, I reviewed all of the things Kendryek and I had done, and I asked him what was his favorite experience at the beach. You know what he said? "Flying a kite with you." He could feel my lightness and the symbolic activity of freedom!

And so every single morning since that Spring day, I ask myself, "How can today be like a vacation?" I make sure I have fun every day as if I'm on vacation. Many days, that looks like an epsom salt bath. Often, it looks like my silly dancing in the kitchen to my favorite music and drinking coconut milk from a margarita glass. I'll often hop in my convertible and drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, blasting my favorite tunes. Sometimes I'll play with the cats or play a board game with Kendryek. Whatever way I can consciously put some fun into my day, I do it!

Having vacation moments throughout each day helps me feel refreshed, recharged, and hopeful and curious about life. And happy! My quest now is to make ALL of every day a vacation day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

One of My Most Sensual Spiritual Experiences Ever

I've had several sensual experiences during my lifetime. This one is at the top of my list.

The first time I was introduced to the healing waters of the Jefferson Pools was when a college friend hosted a few of us ladies for a mini reunion. We had all shared the same portion of hallway my junior year. I love these ladies, even though I hadn't stayed in touch with them over the years. My friend's vacation timeshare was part of the Homestead community in Hot Springs, VA. I hadn't been to the Homestead since high school, so it was refreshing to revisit the resort while revisiting with old friends.

We each donned our white terrycloth robes and hopped the shuttle for a soak in the Jefferson Pools in neighboring Warm Springs. I had a migraine from not hydrating enough while walking that morning, so I was reluctant. My friends suggested that the healing waters might help relieve my pain. When we pulled up, I was attracted to the design of the buildings: round. I love round buildings! I was enchanted with the old, rustic, white structure of the women's bath house and really wanted to test the water. I loved the chipped paint coming off the walls, the opening in the domed roof, resembling a tee-pee, and the encouragement of silence to help maintain the tranquility of the environment.

We all got in. My migraine grew worse. I lasted about 10 minutes before I felt nauseous and thought I'd better get out. The water was 98 degrees (all year long), flowed from natural springs, and held a faint smell of sulphur. I excused myself, got out, and went to rest on a chaise in the waiting room. I fell asleep. After 20 minutes, I woke up. My migraine was completely gone. "What in the world is in this water?" I asked the attendant. I HAD to know what took away my migraine. The attendant told me that Native Americans had identified that these waters have every mineral that our bodies need. Thomas Jefferson knew what was up; he soaked in these waters three times a day as an elderly man. (I have since learned that my body had a magnesium deficiency. I now soak in epsom salt to replenish my magnesium levels when I feel a headache coming on.)

I was stunned and pleasantly surprised that my migraine vanished so quick!!

I was so pleased with the magical powers of these waters that I returned 2 weeks later by myself. I also learned that a vortex is centered at this point and magnifies the healing energy of the Jefferson Pools. As I soaked by myself, I noticed a woman enter the water, sheepishly, without clothes. Hmmm, I thought. Her body type is similar to mine, and she's daring enough to soak naked. Hmmm. Note to self: this is possible. I looked around ... the rest of us ladies wore our bathing suits, but this one woman felt comfortable in her own skin. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin too.

The third time I soaked in the Jefferson Pool, I did so while my son, Kendryek, took skiing lessons. And this time, I entered the water naked. It was exhilarating and liberating! I floated on my back and enjoyed feeling the warm water surround and support my skin and joints. I enjoyed the contrast of the warmth of the water and the coolness of the air as my face and toes peaked out of the water.I floated with my eyes closed. After awhile, I opened my eyes to change positions. I looked around the pool. Unbeknownst to me, five women had entered and were also floating in the their own little world. And they were all naked! What an amazing feeling to be part of this sisterhood of naked strangers floating in warm water. They were of all ages and all body types. How freeing!

The fourth time I visited the Jefferson Pools, Bonnie (my dear friend and marketing manager) and I were scouting the area for locations for our upcoming women's retreats. There were four or five of us women soaking in the pool. Each of us kept to ourselves, in our own cocoon of water molecules, This time, I floated on my back and didn't worry about what was exposed above water. This time was even more freeing. And this time amazing thing happened. Rain began to gently drizzle through the opening in the roof. I slowly floated into the middle of the pool to allow the rain to drizzle on my face. I LOVE rain. As a little girl, I'd sit outside on the sidewalk with an umbrella and let the rain pour down around me. Rain is my element. I named Kendryek's middle name Rayne. So you can imagine the joy I felt to be floating in 98 degree water and allowing cool rain drops to kiss my cheeks and chin. I smiled and felt I was in heaven. I looked up to see hundreds of rain drops travel from the roof's opening down to the water. Like each drop had a purpose. The sky was gray and allowed a dull light to seep through the opening. I slowed my breathing, pulled my ears under water for greater silence, and became fully immersed in the sensation of the gentle raindrops on my face, on my neck, on my breasts, on my palms, on my knees, and on my toes.

Pure bliss.

I felt the comfort and protection of mother love. And I felt the stimulation of a lover. I felt grounded. And I felt ethereal. I felt incredibly grateful. I knew Mom and Dad, who used to enjoy watching me sit out in the rain, had conspired to lend a hand in the synchronicity of the rain clouds opening up during my chosen hour of soaking. I felt grateful to have the time and resources for this experience. Grateful for my health becoming more and more magnificent. Grateful for my nerve endings having the sensitivity for these physical sensations. Grateful for my friendships. Grateful to be a woman. Grateful to God. Grateful to be alive. Grateful in my own skin.

I realized that this was, in this moment, the epitome of sensuality, and the epitome of spirituality. I look forward to many more moments like this.


You can also enjoy the healing water of the Jefferson Pools during one of our upcoming Women's Retreats (this October and May 2014). You can soak naked or while wearing a bathing suit. Whatever your comfort level is. Click here for more information: