And nothing says ‘sensual’ like a blood bath in the kitchen sink.
But before I get to High Maintenance Kitty (HMK) and his encounter with a skunk, I have to tell you that I miss you! These past few weeks my writing schedule has been a little shifty. And I’ve suffered as a result. I’ve had to work extra hard at staying grounded. I’ve felt a little upended. Been having a blast, for sure. But this unstructured time (the boys are away) has left me feeling like my structure needs a little reinforcement. HGM is where I come for reinforcement. Not posting every other day leaves me without resolution. It’s here that I bring all the experiences together and make sense of it all. And then you let me know if I’m heading in the right direction. Which brings me to:
Need #5: I need you. All of you. This journey would be so much more laborious without you and not nearly as much fun or productive. I learned this today when I had my first ever formal swim lesson.
This afternoon I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Tina, Author and Swim Instructor (her blog is Squidkid) and HGM reader, who has convinced me that I am ready to make the crossing from Alcatraz to Chrissy Field. I now believe her, but only because of what she taught me today. I’ve got a few new tricks, one bad habit to break, and four bay swims to get it right. With her guidance I know it will happen. But it wasn’t just what she taught me in the pool that set me straight. It was spending time with her and focusing that time on doing something that was purely sensual.
Sounds hilarious, right? She’s reading this and probably saying, Were you and I in the same place at the same time?
It was sensual because those 45 minutes were spent perfecting my dance with the water. I wasn’t looking to increase my aerobic output or increase my speed. I needed to create a better relationship with the water. I needed to naturally move with the water in such a way that it could propel and not hinder me.
I needed to be 1 with H2O.
Tina taught me to glide. Man, it felt amazing. A full body rub down kind of amazing. With four hands. Two that never leave the feet. I finally felt like the swimmers that I’ve watched who seem to move in slow motion but lap me effortlessly. By the time I hit the water off the shores of Alcatraz I will be dancing with her swells, naturally. Using all my senses to bring me to shore.
I left Tina today feeling more grounded than I have in the last three days. I took the time to focus on something that may seem trivial or just a hobby, but is actually essential to my state of well-being. Being in the pool today awakened all my senses and realigned them. It took all of the fun and decadence and late nights of the last three days and sifted out the guilty feelings of not getting enough done, leaving me with only wonderful memories.
I need to stop judging these experiences as indulgent and recognize them for their importance in my journey. Every single time I do something that rewards my five+ senses with a plethora of experiences and delights I receive a gift. A morsel of understanding, a new friend, an epiphany, a good cry, an embrace that leaves me feeling grateful for the opportunity to hold another person. For reasons I have yet to come to know, indulging in the senses, embracing my sensuality, is a key part, if not the focus, of my journey.
(Thank you, Tina. You rock. I needed you and you were there for me. Looking forward to an open water swim with you.)
From pool to blood bath…ever think of a skunk as sensual?
HMK and a skunk had some sort of an encounter. HMK didn’t care. The skunk didn’t care. But I cared. He reeked. And all he wanted to do was rub up against my leg and climb on my lap and think about his exciting day as if he was 5 and had just gone to his first pro sporting event. All I wanted to do was hurl. I smelled skunk everywhere. I could have come to your house and I would have still been smelling skunk.
Mr. Jackpot was coming over that night for dinner. He suggested I pick up some tomato juice and together we would give HMK a bath, of sorts. He also smartly suggested that I be prepared to buff out the scratches in my stainless steel sink.
He was spot on. HMK lost his s…tuff. Year-to-date, this was the most harrowing experience I’ve had. The absolute crime is that I don’t have a photo for you, so I will paint you my own picture. He was a cross between Lady Gaga in the meat dress and Alien. When he caught his claw on the lip of the sink I saw shades of Cujo. Tomato juice sprayed everywhere.
Trust me, it would have been a YouTube sensation.
In typical chick fashion (no offense to chicks, I am one), Mr. Jackpot got the dirty work. He held the little Tasmanian devil while I gently poured tomato juice over him, being quite certain to keep my digits out of striking distance. I believe the final tally was HMK 6, Mr. Jackpot 0, with HMK getting a self-injure on the claw sink ordeal and Mr. Jackpot getting a high-5 for self-restraint. The bites were the most unsettling to experience. Well, that and when Mr. Jackpot asked me to remove HMK’s claw from his forearm, and I actually had to lift it up (I gagged) and out (I whimpered). It was deep in there.
After we massaged in the tomato juice I informed Mr. Jackpot that we’d have to leave it on for fifteen minutes.
3 minutes later…
That was fifteen minutes, right? HMK is eyeing up his meaty palm.
Yea. Totally. I turn on the faucet.
The water was cool. Not cold, but by no means warm. It takes forever to get warm water to the kitchen sink. I started in anyway, pouring cups of water over HMK’s back and chest. He turned his head and looked up at me with wishes for a unpleasant and premature death in his cast-iron black, frying pan sized eyes.
Mr. Jackpot urged me to wait until the water was warm. Who was I to argue? He was the one in harm’s way.
As soon as I began to pour warm water over HMK he calmed down. His eyes became less enraged. His claws retreated. He calmed down because warm water felt better than cold water. And screw it – he was already wet. Might as well enjoy the warmth. It felt good. He let us rinse him and towel him off. 5 minutes later he was eating roasted chicken and rice, because no good High Maintenance Kitty eats cat food.
The next day, while looking at my pink-tinged, no quite so fluffy shelter kitty, I felt the urge to look up skunk in the animal totem cards. To me, if I see an ant on the sidewalk I’m not running to learn of it’s meaning in my life, but when a skunk inserts itself so prominently in my world I am moved to check it out.
In a nutshell, the skunk is all about self-respect, self-esteem and sensuality. It’s safe to say that I’ve allowed these three aspects of myself to be toyed with for the last several years. The week prior to skunk-fest I had been pondering the five+ senses. Not just that we have them and they help us to navigate our world, but about what it means to be consciously aware of and paying attention to them as a priority. Much like an animal does.
It’s primal. Feeling, tasting, smelling, seeing, hearing, knowing.
And it’s also sensual. Paying attention to the senses is sensual. I didn’t realize that until I looked up the definition:
1-pertaining to, inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal; fleshly. 2-lacking in moral restraints; lewd or unchaste. 3-arousing or exciting the senses or appetites. 4-worldly; materialistic; irreligious. 5-of or pertaining to the senses or physical sensation; sensory.
Fleshly is going to be the name for my next pet.
In a sense, my unconscious definition of sensual was a bit like #2. Being sensual was for behind closed doors, not for the lap lane at the JCC pool.
The Genius would probably say my swim lesson today was an example of #4, after telling me to get off my high horse. I’m telling you, polo lessons are next.
The most effective definition is #5.
I had a different idea of what being sensual meant from the one I have about living through the senses until my swim lesson today. Now I feel how it all fits together for me. Using the senses to navigate life is the base line. That’s a mindful and necessary component of living. I’m in water, I need to lift my head out to breath. What I have come to understand this week is that it’s not indulgent or a guilty pleasure but rather my right to live fully engaged in the senses from the heart, which is the sensual side to using the 5+ senses that compliments the mindful side. It feels good to my body to be in the water, I’m compelled to experience as closely as possible what it feels like to swim like a fish. I want to glide and feel the water rush over and underneath me.
Living sensually is living by doing what feels good, and by feeling good about living a sensual life. In order for that to work such that I’m not sitting in line at a morphine clinic chewing on my third knuckle, I need to be balanced and centered. I need to be coming from the heart and honoring myself and my body. I need healthy self-esteem and self-respect and respect for the gift of my life. I need to believe that I am worthy of living a life that is a celebration of the 5+ senses. That it’s brave and beautiful to be open and vulnerable and freely exposing my five+ senses to life.
I’ve been unconsciously living this way since about a month post Pocket Call. That highly-charged multisensory experience made me hyper-aware, and now I’m channeling that into a supportive, healthy, joyful way of life. A life filled with experiences that tickle my 5+ senses – encounters, hiking, cooking, swimming, sitting under the stars, tickling the boys, massaging their feet, watching the moon rise, celebrating the fog, eating oysters, admiring a beautiful face, sun salutations, feeling the energy exchange in a full body hug, skunky blood baths.
The skunk is highly confident. He alters his path for no one. He is fearless and peaceful. He walks through life with heightened self-esteem and sensuality.
I never thought I’d say that one day I hope to grow up to be just like a skunk, but I am all about embracing my sensual side. (As soon as my mom reads that she’s going to call me…just to chat…)
The voices I heard after the blood bath will have to wait for my next post. The experience was the very definition of multisensory.
A 20 miler with fully loaded pack awaits me tomorrow. I’ll send twitter love from Mt. Tam.