Until the day I die, and the mysteries of the Universe are unveiled to me, I buy it all. Whatever you want to sell me, I’m buying it. Reincarnation, love at first sight, clowns run the Universe, there is an Oz, vampires, the Kardashians are aliens, a cure for cancer exists, the Universe sends to us numerous, clear signs in an effort to guide us along on our journey…all of them. Bought and paid for.
Especially that last part. Not only do I buy that, I’d buy that at twice the price after returning home from Stinson and casually looking up the animal totem meanings for starfish, sea anemones and sand dollars. I didn’t expect to find much. You’d think by now I’d have learned to expect nothing and be prepared to be wowed. I figured marine life hadn’t received the animal totem treatment. Never assume…
But, before I unravel their messages, let’s take a moment to ponder two things: volleyball and naked men. Pft. Let’s make it one: naked men.
After posting the most recent HGM entry, I realized that I had forgotten the nearly unforgettable while being wrapped up in contrition for failing to remain fully present in Stinson Beach. My mother was grateful I had neglected to include the naked stuff, but many kittens (many, many kittens) were sorely disappointed with me. I can empathize. I’m certain we’re all a little hungry for details such as those
all the time on occasion.
I’m sorry is a powerful phrase. It encourages many things – vulnerability, gratitude, strength, the kindness of strangers.
I’m sorry I forgot to include them in my tale, but perhaps now is the most appropriate time anyway.
Having been told of their existence at the south end of the beach – as if they were migrating mammals – I was on the lookout. Running from one tidal pool to the next, the dudes were focused on sea life while I focused on trying to look like I wasn’t looking. Time and again, we’d round a boulder and I’d expect nakedness only to see sweatshirts and jeans, baja hoodies and clam diggers.
Then I saw them.
The volleyball was on the rock, the Frisbee was being whipped back and forth between two men. A third took pictures of a girl lounging inside a carved out boulder. The light was perfect. They were set way back from the water’s edge, nestled up into the golden cliff. They looked so carefree, so delighted with the day, and so…so totally clothed.
Naked calves. That’s what I got. Woo. Nothing to see here…move along. But I knew for sure it was them. I highly doubt I masked my look of disappointment.
Move along we did, reveling in nature, and wrapping our trip south with my apologies for living in the future thrown to the sky.
It had been a few hours since seeing the not naked guys. I hadn’t thought about them after our first pass. After extracting the dudes from the cave, we emerged from behind boulders, laughing and chasing each other, making our way back north, my atonement freeing me up to be playful again. The clothed ones were still at it, with the two men sailing the Frisbee at each other from thirty yards away. Then they saw me.
And they both immediately stripped naked.
I swear. Eye contact, big smile from them to me. Then, pants off.
All I saw was tan. Well, that’s not ALL I saw. But, I’ve never seen such a consistent tan.
Nor such a clear sign that my apologies were necessary, received and appreciated. I laughed, but trust me – they knew I wasn’t laughing at them. There was nothing, and I mean nothing, to laugh at. Only admiration from this kitten. These dudes were très confident, with reason. And I was über appreciative of the lighthearted display of friskiness. Let’s just say they lifted my spirits considerably.
Then, moments later, the serenely beautiful couple handed me the massive sand dollar. An apology stripped away the awkwardness of the night before; my rewards were swift, the messages sent without delay. But I didn’t decipher them beyond Wow until several days later when I sat at the keys, preparing to write a post, while gently petting my sand dollar.
I fingered the small chip on the lower left edge.
It would be just perfect if not for this ding. This little chip. This…
small gasp…this is my divorce.
This tiny nick is the betrayal that shattered my marriage. And the rest of this perfect sphere with its gentle up-slope in the center, ring upon ring flowing out like small waves, is my life. The nick did not shatter the sand dollar. Nor did the betrayal shatter me. Not this girl. The betrayal became my jumping off point, my trail head. I chose to have that chip, the betrayal, be my sexy scar, the Lauren Becall gap between my front teeth, the crisis that leaves me more complete, more complex, more alive.
I propped my perfect sand dollar up against the wall so I could gaze at her as I searched for the meaning of my encounters with all things marine. (There’s no animal totem card for naked men. I looked. All I got was more naked men, but not nearly as Adonis as those I gazed upon at the beach.) The messages that emerged were so blatant, so wholly suited to my current state of heart, that for a moment I considered the meanings to have been crafted for my eyes only.
“Sand Dollar shows that constant change is expected and there is freedom in this movement. She aids in the stages of metamorphosis and the new stages coming your way. Tests will begin to appear, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.”
Tests. The sand dollar itself, or the shell that remains after its passing, is called a test. My evening at the Sand Dollar was a test. Would I just go with the tide, relax and enjoy myself? Or get swept out to sea on the wings of butterflies jacked up on Red Bulls? Gimme an F, for flat out failure. Laying on the beach with the dudes in the middle of the night, giving myself over to the skies, was a test to see if I could absorb the magic shed by meteors. Or would the magic be shrouded by my fog of woe is me, the lone adult on a most romantic eve? I passed that one, barely, but lost ground upon morning, waking fiercely determined to undermine my beachy state of bliss with expectations unmet, opportunities lost. Forever. Right? Because if it all doesn’t happen right freaking now, it’s never going to happen. I failed the test of patience.
“Sea Anemone will teach how to balance anxiousness with temperance, aware of the ebbing and flowing of communication and relationships…how to keep centered and instill faith of Spirit’s timing, how to discover new doorways and opportunities.”
Spirit’s timing? I was on Cleo time. Now, now and now. I totally bailed on this one taking anxiousness without provocation to a whole new level. Anxiousness, awkwardness, was sucked out of thin air at the Sand Dollar, and chewed like a wad of Bubble Yum. Relentlessly, for hours and hours. Temperance, moderation, was not on the menu. I wanted it all right then and there. At the very least, I wanted a sign that Mr. Wild Card was feeling the same Condor-sized butterflies I was feeling.
Can’t a girl get a sign around here? No, not that sign, this sign. The one I want. The one I pictured in my mind. The sign I expected. The one that said, You are going to date this man. He’s been waiting here for you for far too long. The two of you are going to have a blast together. He’s totally smitten. The fact that you’re old enough to be his babysitter from way back when AND you have two children…well, he finds that absolutely adorable.
“Starfish has amazing regenerative properties with an indication of coming back stronger and more abundant. If Starfish comes to you something in your life may take a year to regenerate, but when it does, it will be better and more abundant.”
It’s been one year since the wheels fell off this kit car of a marriage – alLoving The Geniusl shiny on the outside, masking the inferior engine within, it’s block cracked, a fatal flaw. Without question I am stronger, physically, emotionally and mentally, and more fulfilled and happier than I’ve been in years. The arrival of a platoon of starfish suggests that utopia awaits, if I am patient. Nirvana is just up ahead. If I can forget that it’s there and focus on the now. That completely muffed encounter with Mr. Wild Card? You never know what could happen a year from now.
After finding the writings on the sand dollar and taking some notes, I went outside to watch the moon get pulled west by the sea and the fog snake its way through the trees that cloak the ridge off in the distance. All three signs melted into one as I softened my gaze to pull out stars hiding behind the night.
This is a whole new ballgame, Cleo. The way it was isn’t how it is. You need to adjust. It’s more than understanding that happiness comes from within, that love only follows self-love, that magic remains undercover until you believe it’s happening all around you at all times. Every single way you’ve achieved outcomes in the past no longer works for you in the present.
I thought the betrayal was the game changer. I was wrong. I was on injured reserve. While I rehabbed myself someone went and changed all the rules in the game, just when I was feeling consciously competent. Paying attention to the signs keeps me looking, wanting to see more, to have more revealed to me. But sometimes using my eyes and my ears distracts me from my intuition.
Balance is key. See the signs that are ready to be seen. Listen closely to the words that drift by me. Don’t look too far ahead. Don’t query too deeply. Remain heart blown open, fearless and ready to catch the ball.
Just don’t jump up and down, waving frantically, yelling, “Over here, over here!”
PS: Have you followed me on Twitter? Cuz I kinda think you haven’t, and I’m wondering what I have to do to get you over there. I’m thinking banana costume, ferry, 5:30 on a Friday. Don’t make me.
PPS: A request from a very creative reader/future design goddess – feel free to comment here with your answers or email them to me and I’ll get them to Julie:
Hello HGM Readers, I am Julie Ann Graham, an Artist currently studying at OTIS College of Art and Design. I have been deeply inspired by Cleo Everest’s blog and all of your journeys. I was so deeply moved that I have designed a cocktail dress that I plan to cover in text that consist of comments and quotes Cleo and you have written. Once the dress is sewn together I will cover it in wax, with the wax covering the text completely. The dress is more of a performance piece that a functional garment but my hope is that the more the dress is worn or the more movement made in the dress the more wax will fall off, which will result in more text showing.
My overall concept is that the more the women moves and becomes more comfortable the more she’ll become these words/phrases she aspires to be. So I am asking you, if you could wear the words that inspire you or the words that impact your life somehow, what would they be? If you could say anything to your ex husband or what you really wanted to tell your kids or what advice you would give to someone, what would you say? These are only examples…you can write ANYTHING.
I understand that not all of us can do what Cleo does; putting her feelings out there in such a brave way, but I would love all of you to be apart of my project and use this as an opportunity to have a voice beyond your friends and family.
I wish you all the best and thank you for taking the time in reading this.
Cock robin says
Blown away !! What a great post & the revelant meanings of the starfish wow I feel it for you girl it all belongs to you – so deserving of the greatness that will come to you. You have always worked so hard you WILL shine bright on this blue marble & your unveiling will be a blast to your followers!! As always love & miss you !! And Julie my favorite quote is ” you have to ride the waves of life ’cause if you fight the waves the undertow will take you” all the best – Batman’s Cock Robin lol
I feel the time is right for the story behind the name. One day, on the Atlantic, two redheads cast lines deep in the ocean hunting for blue fish. Boats ringed ours, lines falling by the dozens. One red head says to the other in her best British, “Oh! Look! That’s a Cock, Robin!” The other red head turns sharply to catch the unusual sight – only to find a boat by the name of Cock Robin. Oh, wait. I think it was a deck hand that said it. What do I know. I was too busy catching myself.
Ba. Da. Bum. C, you are the sweetest of the sweet, the most loyal of loyal, and the best at ripping hooks out of hands. I love you.
Laura Perry says
you KNOW I was waiting for this one… Okay- fun, then serious, then (Sweet Fancy Moses) nudity.
Reincarnation? Hope so! Love at first sight? Maybe?!? Clowns run the universe? Oh, HELL to the no. (shudder) Of the next three, two are FACT, one not so much. The jury is out on vampires… Cure for cancer? Please God yes. And finally, signs sent by the Universe? Only every. single. day.
Joking (temporarily) aside. This is beautiful. This speaks to something that I struggle with all the time- trying to let things happen instead of making them happen how and when I want. Sometimes you need to push, and create, and make those gears turn- and sometimes? Sometimes you need to accept that you’re not driving the bus, and so much the better. Expectations are tricky things. The profound sometimes happens when you insist, but the miraculous seldom does. In my adult life I haven’t been very good at stillness. At being present. It is coming so much easier to me now, and I think I have fgured out why. Somewhere, way deep down, or out of the corner of my mind’s eye, I knew I couldn’t trust my partner. I couldn’t relax in my life, because somewhere, deep in my subconsciousy (totally a word) bits I knew. I couldn’t look directly at it, but I knew. And that sense of unease somehow, over time, chipped away at my faith in myself. Now, my partner is me- and I’ve learned to trust me again.
I love what you wrote about sand dollars. I was thinking something similar about pearls, recently. That these past two years were the painful piece of sand necessary to build the me that I am becoming- and that while I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone, I also wouldn’t go back to living small, and in the dark.
Now, onto the sublime. Naked volleyball players… Sigh. Thank you for the imagery. I think that’s all I am ready for right now- but it’s a step in the right direction!!!
I’m envisioing a charm bracelet for you- with silver starfish, anenomes, sand dollars….and VOLLEYBALLS!
Last night I had a dream that clowns ran the Universe. How Stephen King of me. Eek!
This should be part of Julie’s dress: “The profound sometimes happens when you insist, but the miraculous seldom does.” Love, love, love it.
Another gem: “I couldn’t relax in my life, because somewhere, deep in my subconsciousy (totally a word) bits I knew.” That was me, L. When I reflect back on that time, the eggshells upon which I walked were cracked and spread at my feet with every one of his lies. I am SO grateful to not live that way anymore that it seems rude to not celebrate it every day. So I shall.
I really ought to send them a thank you note, no? So kind of them to perk up my day. The charm bracelet sounds fabulous! If I were to buy myself a gift someday soon, that will be it. Thank you for a great idea! A meaningful way to celebrate our year together. You rock. And you know it. Next time I’ll snap a pic for you.
Wow Laura – I’ve read this passage several times now
“Somewhere, way deep down, or out of the corner of my mind’s eye, I knew I couldn’t trust my partner. I couldn’t relax in my life, because somewhere, deep in my subconsciousy (totally a word) bits I knew. I couldn’t look directly at it, but I knew. And that sense of unease somehow, over time, chipped away at my faith in myself. Now, my partner is me- and I’ve learned to trust me again.”
It really hit home for me. Thank you for posting it.
I am both glad and sorry that it spoke to you. Glad because I love connecting to someone through words, and sorry- because if it did it means you’ve endured something awful. You’ve looked at it, right? The worst is over. But know this, Donna. I am mostly on the other side of it now, and happy in ways I could not have foreseen. All will be well, friend
Laura – thank you. I want you to know how healing it is to have someone as kind as you take the time to respond to me. Knowing I’m not alone ireally helps. You’re right – the worst is over – even if my spouse isn’t done creating drama in his life. I know where my boundaries are and I’m happy in ways I haven’t been in a very long time. It’s incredibly energizing to be me again, to have my sparkle back as a friend told me. Thank you for the long distance virtual love and support.
My words for the dress…”love yourself more…”
Thank you, P!
As always, love your posts. Admittedly, a lot of it is beyond the similarities of our situations and lies in the fact that I’m not too far away from you physically. As you describe your wanderings I picture them; I’m there mentally and visually.
Julie, I want to share these words:
”All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” Havelock Ellis
They sum up what I’ve learned in this life, especially since deception, divorce, and reinvention changed everything I thought I knew. I found the art in living. I want everyone else to as well. Let go while holding on. Hold on while letting go. Whew!
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sharing your thoughts with Julie. You rock. And so does Mono Lake. I miss it!
The dudes and I have some new destinations on our list of places to explore. I’ll be bringing you with me. My growth over this past year would not have been possible, or as much fun, without being able to share these experiences with all of you. I’m so grateful you are here.
Over the course of the past year, we have read about quite a few epiphanies you’ve had. Sometimes they were premature, sometimes they were dead ends, and many times they were enlightening realizations. But your statement about the sand dollar is by far the most divine insight I think you’ve had. You hit the nail on the head. Total perfection, in its nature, cannot be perfect. It’s the asymmetries, the errors, the surprises, the imbalances, which give us those perfect moments in life, which keep us interested, motivated, passionate. Your marriage may have been imperfect, but there is nothing more perfect than the opportunity to embark on the journey you have been on since the pocket call.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for sticking with me after the premature and dead end epiphanies! It feels SO good to know that I can flub along, misdiagnosing ills and thrills, and not be judged for it. I’m feeling my way along and am grateful for your loyal support.
“Total perfection, in its nature, cannot be perfect.” Beautiful. Your words remind me to be grateful for Nature’s honesty. She teaches me to embrace my flaws and wounds, to honor them for they make me me. And me is pretty cool. And you rock. Thank you for being here for all this time.
This quote from Rilke, which I read everyday, seems appropriate. Has it been posted earlier? ‘Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.’
Yes, in a slightly different form, and I’ll post this every time I receive it – it’s that profound.
…you need to live the question. When put that way, of COURSE you need to live the question. If we were just handed the answers, it would be like going to an amusement park and being told you can’t go on the rides. You get the glitz but none of the thrills. Thank you, M.
Love this post, and this line really struck me: “I chose to have that chip, the betrayal, be my sexy scar, the Lauren Becall gap between my front teeth, the crisis that leaves me more complete, more complex, more alive.” How do you put so artfully into words the feelings I am having but can’t quite describe? I am so very lucky to be reading your blog at this point in my life. I consider the fact that I found it one of my signs from the universe. Go Cleo!
Oh, thank you! My words come right from my heart. I’m always hopeful they resonate with you and that they can help create within you to excavate, heal, grow. I thank the Universe that you found HGM! You do know that your very presence helps me as much as my words help you, right? Stay close…
Cleo – it would be great if you could post a photo of the chipped sand dollar. Many of us may want to print it as a reminder during the tougher moments. Your post was beautiful. I, like many others, come here when I need strength and an opportunity to regain my balance. And like M, I consider it a sign from the universe that I found this blog. It’s helped me immensely. Thank you
Can yo believe I actually got that sand dollar pic up before we all turned 90?!
I’m grateful you found HGM. We have helped each other, and will continue to do so, for the balance of our days. Stay close…
Here is my Julie quote: “There is only one person who could ever make you happy, and that person is you.”
Love you Cleo…Would follow you anywhere.
Thank you so much for taking the time to give Julie a quote. That’s awesome. And, my goodness, how sweet of you!
Even Everest? Cuz you so know I am on that mountain for sure. You rock, B. And so does Canada. (I can tell from your email…)
For the ps.: Not sure if my fave quote made it onto your blog or if I just saw it on your twitter but I loved this:
God waits patiently amongst the tears & within every broken heart, as the end of every lonely road, God waits for his Child.
Beautiful and so comforting. Thank you for sharing these words with us. I speak for us all when I say that I am grateful you are here at HGM.
One more, not necessarily for posting to the blog (though you are welcome to).
The beach we go to is overrun by sand dollars at all times, we have loads of them as the kids cant resist bringing them home and I usually give in. Ocean Beach in San Francisco, around Taraval. The small one you have it much more rare than the large, in my experience. I have lots of big ones but have been on the hunt for small ones with no success. Oh, lots of sea glass here too if you come at low tide and are willing to get wet looking in the trench between breaks.
We once visited a house in Stinson that had a frame containing 12 or so sand dollars lined of smaller to largest, the smallest was the size of a nickel. My kids and I have been wanting to recreate it but our smallest is probably 3 inches across. Might be a fun project with your kids and then you can hang it and look at it every day. I want to edge mine in seaglass, already have a decent collection going.
If it wasn’t pouring out I’d be on my way there tomorrow! My little one is the size of a nickel as well. So precious and perfect. I love the way you described the beach as being “overrun” by sand dollars. I pictured a beach with thousands of sand dollars running around, hyper-social, smacking each other on the back, sneaking up on sea birds and kicking their legs out from underneath them, hiding behind rocks, playing freeze tag.
If I find another small one I’m saving it for you. Stay dry, m’lady! And thank you for telling me about Ocean Beach. Must go.
Don’t listen to people who say you can’t, because you can. I wish I had someone tell me this 30 years ago.
Included in ‘people’ is MYSELF! I can, I can, I can…and I shall. It’s never too late, C. Thank you for being here.
This will most likely sound corny but here it goes anyway………I had a conversation once with someone while searching for shells on Sanibel Island about shells and what we seek out in the ones we choose to keep. We look for the beautiful and unbroken,the shiny and the small as opposed to the ugly and broken, dulled and weathered. Sadly the way some of us choose people. But just like people, the ones that appear ugly and broken are in fact the most beautiful and the most whole. Just like your sand dollar. The broken one. The broken piece symbolized your divorce but that being a very small piece while the rest remained beautiful and whole. And the person I had this conversation with on Sanibel was my ex-husband. A person I once viewed as beautiful and unbroken. Now I’m able to see how ugly and broken he is. So just like people I guess shells (including sand dollars) can fool us too.
Sanibel! And Captiva. I have fond memories of looking for shells and swimming with dolphins on those little islands.
Hmmm…do they fool us or do we fool ourselves? For me, I fooled myself. All the signs were there. I chose not to see them. Or see them and sweep them aside because I was so sure one day he would mature, become more conscious. When, in fact, that was not the plan that I created. I needed to see and then choose to take care of myself, regardless of how uncomfortable that move may have seemed then. Value myself enough to set boundaries and enact consequences. While I feel no responsibility for the affair (that’s a choice that was made by TG alone), I do take responsibility for not taking care of myself sooner.
But it is now that I am to learn that lesson, not then. No regrets. Today I take care of myself. As do you. Compassionately living an honest life. Thank you for causing me to ponder that lesson and the beauty of Sanibel and Captiva. You rock.
Suzy Q says
To Julie, my words: “I Am Enough”
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that!!! That’s exactly how I feel! Anything else is dark chocolate with cayenne pepper and pop rocks. Luscious, but not necessary. Thank you, S.
For Julie (if it isn’t too late): Let Go (this is Cleo’s), You don’t define me, Your actions are a reflection on YOU. The very perfect Christopher Robin to Pooh quote: “promise me you’ll always remember you’re braver than you believe and strong than you seem and smarter than you think”.
It’s never too late. Thank you for taking the time to offer your wisdom. I appreciate it and hope that Julie will find your words. But knwo that others will, and that means so much to me.