To walk in beauty

bathhouse

I have never felt better in my entire life. Dare I say that? Something inside fears I may challenge a contrary part of the universe with such boldness, but there it is. My life is better than I ever imagined.

Each morning I sit in my backyard, as receptive to the sun as an Ojai orange, letting gentle morning light kiss every cell of my body,  ushering me into sublime states. I’ve been listening to Wayne Dyer demonstrate the power of sound, so I incorporate it into meditation with phases like, the universe dwells in me, as me. I place all limitation in the museum of old beliefs. And, the universe has unobstructed flow through me. I do not limit my abundance.

(I’ve never been comfortable with the Christian idea of God, so I use the word universe instead.)

After that I take a long hot soak in my outside bathtub surrounded by trailing petunias, nasturtiums and purple hyacinths. The roof opens into the bluest sky one can imagine – every single day – dotted only by the arrival of scrub jays dipping in and out of a bath of their own. A gift of wind chimes from my sister accentuates the silence, reminding me of our history, bond and love.

Blended strawberries, beets, ginger and yogurt propel me out the door and through the wooded bike path to the Athletic club, where I get to swim, stretch or do yoga with some of the finest instructors in the world. One could not imagine a more ideal setting. And when that’s finished, I pedal back home ready to meet whatever the afternoon might hold, with an open heart and grateful spirit.

When I saw my acupuncturist last week, she said I had the body of a twenty year old. Well, she’s right because it’s been in storage for decades wrapped and preserved against the cold, my only activity, some Olympic indoor swimming to outrun the devil darkness.

But I walk in beauty now. My days are full of richness and a kind of grace and gentle spirit I could only imagine in my former lives. I craved the sun before, complaining to anyone who would listen about its absence. I was depressed and heavy for years, like a plant put in a closet. I withered and become diminished in spirit, never fully comprehending the personal cost. Now, thankfully, all that has changed.

I remember my first days in Ojai when I realized that shorts, tank tops and sandals could be daily apparel, instead of fleece, long underwear and sweat pants. Literally ‘seeing’ my body every day was like visiting an old friend I had dearly missed.

“Oh, there you are. How nice to see you again! So that’s what you look like, I’d nearly forgotten. Welcome Home.”

Roots

tree hugging

It was not unusual for me to greet strangers at the door of our childhood home completely naked – not that we had many visitors.

The grown-ups were too busy to protest or enforce rules, east coast summers were sweltering and humid and clothes were a bother. I went without a shirt in public until I began to develop and often drove the car shirtless as an adult. Since my curves were slight, I thought I could easily be mistaken for a man. This drove my kids crazy, so I stopped.

Because I wore my hair short, I had an idea that I looked like a man and believed strangers couldn’t tell the difference.  Some days I’d test my theory by going into a shopping mall dressed in a man’s suit and hat. Of course my skin was cream colored and smooth, and my figure thin and hourglass, but that never occurred to me. Sometimes I’d even glue a mustache above my lip to gain credibility. I did well if I kept my distance, but speaking was a dead give-away, so I would never answer a question, I would grunt or make deep guttural male sounds when a clerk asked if I needed help.

Well, I probably needed a lot of help, but not in the ways they thought. If I caught a clerk looking at me and giving me a broad knowing smile, I knew the gig was up, smiled back and made my way out the door. Must not look like a man today, I thought.

We went barefoot year round as kids. We were without shoes in all kinds of weather including snow. I imagined I would live my entire life without shoes until I stepped on a lit cigarette at the county fair. That left a lasting impression that changed my mind.

My parents ran an upscale restaurant, and customers often complained about our lack of shoes. You should supervise those kids, they’d say, or they’ll all have pneumonia.  My folks dealt with this by repeating their words, but there was never any threat or action. We were just kids being kids. They would report the conversation much like they’d say, Looks like Glenn’s cow is out. Guess someone ought to give him a call.

One afternoon I was walking back from the woods carrying my dad’s double barreled shotgun. It was a 20 gauge, which I liked better than the 12 gauge because that one recoiled and hurt my shoulder. I’d been doing some target practice and feeling good about my aim. We were all taught to use guns and to use them safely, it was part of living on a farm, but when a customer complained about a kid walking on her own through the pasture with a 20 gauge, my dad caved in. I never quite forgave him. I knew what I was doing and hated to be told I had to stop because someone else got scared.

It poured rain the other day. I was feeling stagnant and disconnected so I went outside in my bare feet for the first time in decades. I walked to a tree stump in the middle of the woods and let my feet rest in tall grass. I soaked the earth up through the mud and into my core. It was the perfect medicine, simple, immediate and right. Funny how a little thing like that could take me back to my roots and a clear remembering of the land that once held and defined me.