I wish I knew when my body began to be more enemy than friend. I have distinct memories of admiring the strength of my body while still a girl in elementary school. My legs! I could push things with them! I could walk and run and play for hours without an iota of complaint from them. God, it was so simple.
The change in how I felt about my physical self probably came when I experienced “the change” from girlhood to womanhood. As my body shifted into a woman’s shape, the power of my body also shifted. Power came now not from physical strength, but from a nubile sexuality. Strong for sure, but definitely not the same as the internal force previously known which had not been reliant upon the response of another.
For 30 years I struggled to recover a fundamental sense of respect for my physical self. There have been moments of tremendous gain – birthing a baby, beating back a cancer, running or riding in a race, but there have also been setbacks. Those pesky pounds that refuse to leave my abdomen, my post-breastfeeding boobs that seem deflated after nearly 4 combined years of producing milk, my flat butt…there was never a shortage of parts to criticize.
But I did something this weekend which left me with feeling a peaceful comfort with my body. I spent a few hours Labor Day weekend solo at a friend’s pool wearing nothing but my skin, soaking in the sun, diving into the water, au naturale. The sensation of the most basic elements; “fire,” water and air, somehow mentally transported me to a simple state of being. Naked. Bare. Completely comfortable in my own skin.
Despite not having been impressed with the class I took last month in P’town, I decided to give stand up paddle boarding yoga a second try recently. Although I’m still not completely hooked on the concept, I had a much more positive experience this time around and that’s saying a lot considering I was the only person to fall in the lake and there was a giggly Girl Scout troop attending the class.
Taught by Rhiana out of the Kayak Shack, with numerous classes at various times available, the class is approximately 90 minutes long and costs a reasonable $35. Chrissy and I headed up early and were able to get on our boards for a bonus bit of a paddle around prior to class, eventually meeting up with the group and paddling into an area thick with lily pads in an attempt to keep our boards stationary. It seemed to work for everyone but me, but, it wasn’t a real problem to paddle back into place periodically.
No, the real problem was the strap on my bathing suit which nearly turned SUP yoga into topless SUP yoga. Repeatedly fixing that was far more distracting than a gaggle of girls. The other distraction was the sky – it was just beautiful, streaked with pink and yellow as the sun slowly returned to the horizon. This was what I had always hoped for when doing yoga outdoors, yet consistently found elusive.
The scenery alone made the experience gratifying, but the workout was also satisfying. Rhiana took into account the different levels of experience and athleticism and led our group through a class which was differentiated and challenging. I’d definitely take this class again – Scout’s honor.
Swag that glows in the dark? Yes, please!
Driving through 3 states to bring one’s child to school would probably constitute as a full enough day for most, but, you know me, always looking to kick it up a notch. The four-mile Moonlight in Vermont race provided the perfect opportunity to extend Saturday right into Sunday, and got me into my 4th state in 24 hours. That sounds like a win, right?
I rendezvoused with the other two lunar b*tches in a random Troy parking lot (naturally) at 10:30 pm, which gave us plenty of time to get to the starting line by midnight. Yes, I said midnight. Doesn’t running 4 miles in the dark in the middle of nowhere in Vermont sound like fun?
The drive actually took less time than we had expected which left plenty of time for us to pick up our swag, wonder if we were dressed warmly enough (we were) and run into the aforementioned Grace, a woman I had worked with many years ago at Yono’s. If you had told me 20 years ago that Grace and I would both be running a race at midnight in Vermont, I would have called you crazy. Who’s crazy now?
The run was fabulous! The first two miles seemed to be entirely downhill on a combination of paved and dirt roads. There were luminaria lining our path, along with runners in tricked out bling, to add to the light of the gorgeous moon. The scenery, even in the dark, was beautiful like a black and white photograph with random colorization. The hills up were brutal, and the limited light demanded a cautious pace, but the air was fresh and there wasn’t any other place that I wanted to be.
It was the perfect way to both end and begin a day. Check this one out for next year!
(Said in a Greta Garbo voice, pronouncing want vant.)
As I sat on the train heading south to Hudson on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, I considered my decision to take the trip solo. I had made two attempts to find a companion for the day, but didn’t find a taker. No worries whatsoever. I’d been thinking about this little adventure for some time and today was the ideal day to enjoy a little time out of town.
I’m so glad I’m not reluctant to explore the world on my own. I have no problem grabbing my wallet, a bottle of water and a camera and taking to the road. Doing things by myself isn’t an inferior experience, it’s just a different one. I like being with me.
I know I’m perceived as an extremely social person, working jobs that require lots of personality and interaction, but that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of going it alone. Spending time with other people is enjoyable because people are interesting and fun. But, so am I!
I’m interested in living a full life, fashioning an existence where beauty is embraced and experiences are curated. Waiting around for someone to accompany me on my explorations isn’t even a consideration. There’s just too damn much to see, to taste and to experience. Alone is not a bad thing – especially when there are two oysters and you get to eat them both.
As I raced to the beach to catch the impending sunset, I couldn’t help but smile. This, I thought, is what I do. I chase beauty. Here’s a gallery of some of what I was fortunate enough to catch during my recent Wellfleet vacation.
One last thought – while the sky was magnificent to observe as the sun slipped down and away, the most stunning moments were those of the afterglow. Truly understanding that almost makes the sunset foreplay for what comes next.
In a weekend blooming with fun and old friends, here are a few of the beautiful sights my eyes took in…
The other beautiful “stuff” is going to take a little longer to
If you’re an outdoors exerciser, you’ll probably agree that we’ve arrived at shoulder season – or, as I like to call it, ass season. As in, falling on your ass if you’re not cautious because it’s so damn icy. We’re somewhere between skiing and running/cycling season and each day brings the question of which activity will be best attempted in conditions that seem to vary daily.
The golf course has deteriorated into an icy landscape, complete with bare spots and piles of dog poop. I skied it Friday and it was treacherous. After walking it on Saturday, I reluctantly concluded that ski season was over. I consoled myself with my first run in weeks – 5 slow, wet and slick miles. My quads are screaming today, so I guess I guess we can call this shoulder, ass and quads season to be accurate.
This morning, there was an unexpected (to me) period of snow. Fluffy flakes quickly accumulated and frosted the icy snow changing my prospects for the day. A ski it would be.
Work last night, an obscenely early soccer game (7:30), and the time change had combined to kick my ass, confirming the appropriateness of my naming the season after the gluteal region. After a nap between fresh flannel sheets, I felt prepared to attempt the golf course, hoping that the trails would be improved. It proved to be beyond my expectations.
The sun had softened the snow’s crust and the newly fallen flakes had filled in the worst of the divots. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds and the ski was sublime. Although I am generally conscious of being present in the moment, I focused even harder on experiencing this ski, imagining it as being my last of the winter.
The interior trails, particularly the Coca-Cola, were beautiful and easily negotiated. Jeter and I explored a new path or two and when we completed our long loop it seemed we both felt pleasantly fatigued. Regardless of which part of my body feels sore, that soulful place inside me feels satisfied. Time for a glass of wine.