Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The real me


A few weeks ago I decided to pull Open Road:  a life worth waiting for from Amazon and CreateSpace.  I had just met someone and was looking forward to our first date.  He knew I was a writer as I had given him my business card when we introduced ourselves, but it dawned on me later that I didn't want him to read my memoir until he knew me better.  I spent an evening skimming through the manuscript and thought, "Nope...he shouldn't know that right away.  Not that.  Nope...not that either."
Alas...one digital copy had sold before I had the chance to stop publication, so at dinner, after we had chatted for a while, I asked if he had purchased it.
"No...why?" he replied.
"Because I'm not the same person who wrote that book three years ago," I said.  "I'm not the same person who lived those experiences.  And once we know each other better, I'll share some of them, but I want you to get to know me as I am right now."
He smiled.  "So I get the new Kate?"
I shook my head.  "No...you get the real Kate."
Then again, like my aunt often reminds me, it's all been real.  Yet I no longer feel the need to have the memoir out in the open, for I've come to understand that, while writing it was a huge leap of faith and a project more than fifteen years in the making, it has run its course.  I'll share a few selections here on Open Road and when I'm teaching workshops, as I've found that the one below ranks as a particular favorite, especially with the women.
While walking through the Art Museum over the weekend, I was overjoyed to find "Reclining Figure", which reminded me of living in Big Sur, California, an experience that revealed how very far I've come in my journey from a thirteen-year-old girl with an eating disorder to a twenty-something workaholic who hid her body in baggy clothes to a grown woman who can embrace all of who she is and not hide from the world...or from herself. 
So here's a short passage from "A Variety of Light", for my Esalen family...with love and gratitude for being present while I discovered pieces of the real me...and for women everywhere.  
Would that every one of you could see yourselves as I did all those years ago.
                                                      ***
From the moment I drove over the state line of California, I felt like I had come back home.  Something magnetic and magical about Big Sur always rooted me into being in the present moment, regardless of what was happening around me.   
I loved going to the baths in the afternoons after working in the garden.  It was my favorite time of day at Esalen...quiet and serene when I could lie in the sun and bask in silence.  Day by day, I went.  I slept in the sun.  I soaked in the tubs.
Day by day, I was slowly transforming into someone new.
One afternoon I was sunbathing on the top deck which is surrounded by Plexiglas so that guests can safely enjoy the breathtaking view.  It was a gift to feel free enough to lie there naked and open to the sunshine, the wind, the salty air. 
I rolled onto one side and closed my eyes, drifting in and out of sleep.  Murmurs of the others on the deck floated in and out of my consciousness as the pulse of the waves pushed the ocean into the cliffs, then drew it back into the sea.   I was rocked to sleep by its rhythmic energy.
An hour later, when I awoke, the sun was lower, the breeze cooler.   I opened my eyes and noticed that, except for a woman next to me, I was alone on the deck.  I rested my head in the crook of my arm and noticed the lovely angle of the woman's neck, the curve of her shoulder, down the length of her ribcage, into the slope of her waist, and the flare of her hips.  I wondered if she knew how beautiful she was, how earthy and peaceful and serene.   She reminded me of a statue at the Toledo Art Museum I had seen many times:  “Reclining Figure".
I wondered if I knew her, so I shifted to sit up.  So did the woman.  For a split second, I was startled to realize that I was seeing a reflection in the Plexiglas wall.    
And the reflection was mine. 
The body was mine.  The shape and slope and curves.  They were all mine.             
I sat and soaked in that very conscious illumination of how I really looked.  What a gift and a blessing to have had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of who I had always been.  Who I still need to honor and acknowledge and appreciate. 
My body, once so empty, was now overflowing with the knowledge that who I had become was always within me.  Knowledge which took years of patient unfolding.  But there I was...reborn from the sacred sulfur waters. 

Ready to engage life from the inside out.

The stunning upper deck at the Esalen baths