That Vacation Feeling, Continued

A couple of years ago, I wrote about that lovely and elusive feeing we get when we’re on vacation – that sheer enjoyment that comes with relaxing at the resort or the campground or inn.  It is the simple pleasure of living in the moment in a lovely place; experiencing newness and purposeful refreshment of the body and soul.  I wanted to figure out how to maintain that feeling and… as luck would have it, moved to Hawai‘i.

I know that’s sounds like helluva way to live – everyone would like it, but few can attain such an existence.  Well, I’m certainly not complaining about any part of it.  I do love my life like crazy AND I want to explore all that goes into that right now (as I am in a car, riding from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Knoxville, Tennessee, after already being in South Bend, Indiana and St. Joseph and New Buffalo, Michigan, because that is where I could spend time with family and friends during one of my brief and few visits back to the mainland – my vacations).

For me that “newness” is exciting and awakening.  I am still an adrenaline junkie, loving the rush that comes from stepping into the unknown and reaching for new experiences that push my limits a bit.  I mean seriously, there are a lot of things I dream about doing, but I don’t really want to do any of them over and over again, day in and day out for the rest of my life.

What I find is that the moving and learning everything new, including names and local restaurants, is like being on vacation.  It can be a lot of “work,” but look at what we do on vacations, right?  We set a schedule to go see this, eat there and do that. We have to get souvenirs, get our nails done and try the hike or cruise or pasta that so-and-so recommended, after the walking tour and show.  Unless you go on vacation to do nothing but sleep and read, you’re putting some effort and decisions into it – the same things we do at work.

The difference here may be only that we think of it differently – we think of it all as what we want to do.  Hey, I’m on vacation, I’m going to do what I want… and that means I want to go through great effort to get tickets to the hottest show in town, or I’m going to shop until my ankles swell.

Now, there’s another aspect to all of this I know I’m neglecting here – doing all of the above a significant other, family and/or friends, rather than our co-workers, employees and bosses.   And that is what I’m almost doing now… I say almost because I’m with family and friends, but we’re not going to spas or big shows.

We’re not at the beach, on a boat or on skis.  We’re hanging out.  We’re making dinner, then eating it.  We’re entertaining the kids, going to the grocery store and playing board games at night – and we’re taking a lot of pictures together.

I love seeing these people and I miss actual physical contact with them.  I only get to see them once or twice a year now that I’m living “on vacation.”

It was an ironic twist to I realize that, because I am living in such a vacation place – 5000 miles away from my previous existence – my actual vacations have become frantic jaunts between loved-ones.  And there is no time for anything else.

So, while living in paradise and visiting my beautiful Midwest family and friends, I’m living my vacation, but never taking one.  My relaxation happens on weekends at home and planes and cars on the mainland.  My rejuvenation comes from the knowledge that life is full of choices and these are the ones I have made.



The Bathhouse

I must tell you about something I’ve experienced that seems pretty incredible to me. It’s a ladies bathhouse. Before I forget to tell you, it’s called the Herbal Spa Sauna Salon and it’s in Honolulu. I found it through Groupon (love Groupon – between Groupon and Living Social, I have moved into two completely unfamiliar regions and managed to find goods and services that filled my calendar, took care of grooming, shopping and luxury and made local folks jealous of my “insider knowledge.”).

So… I see this offer for a hot tub, cool pool, meditation room, sauna and steam room for $10 for each 24 hour pass. I buy 5 of them.

I go and this is what happens. Following directions, I strip and put my clothes in a locker. I’m given a tray with a doctor’s office type cloth robe, bath towel and hand towel. I’m shown into a large, open room that is divided in two halves. On half has divided massage, scrub areas. The other half has the hot whirl pool and cool tubs. On the end are a sauna, steam room and open standing and sitting showers.

Before I go any further, let me tell you that on the massage and scrub areas, naked ladies are laying on tables and massage/scrub artist ladies (who are wearing what looks like bras and panties) are massaging and scrubbing with vigor. I mean without trying to look (I’m being purposely modest), I can’t help but notice that sometimes the artists are standing on the same tables the customers are laying on… and they’re using their body weight for pressure. Sometimes I hear slapping and a bit of grunting. The rest is left up to my imagination. I can tell you no one leaves suddenly… the customers paid for the pleasure of having their muscles dominated.

So I remove my robe and shower as directed. The key to my locker is on a little plastic spring I assume belongs on my wrist for safe keeping; I put it there. I set down my basket of towels and my modesty. I shower, then barefooted on an incredible tile floor, I pad over to the hot tub, turn on the jets and climb in. I imagine that – were anyone looking at that moment – I looked graceful doing that much.

Since I set the hot tub timer on 20 minutes, I sink down and resign myself to relaxing for that amount of time. As usual in a hot tub, rather than immediately relaxing, I have about 84000 nerve-ending electrical messages per second… but I tell myself it’s relaxing.

Amidst the sound of ladies’ backsides and frontsides being slapped and smacked and the occasional woman moving from one area of the room to the other, I relax… really quickly and fully.

After what I think is 10 minutes, I “gracefully” flop from the hot tub into the cool one. My sigh is audible, but I don’t give a rat’s butt about it (I privately believe my relaxed sigh fuels the room’s vibe). I wait until my skin acclimates, then move back into the hot tub for what I believe will be another 10 minutes.

All this time I’ve had the tubs to myself and I’ve been moving around a bit (fatty parts float… add bubbles and you have quite a bit of movement, even for the most relaxed average sized woman). I suddenly hear the “I’ve just immersed my body in hot water” sighs of two other women… so I no I’m no longer alone in my hot tub. I open my eyes and look at the two breasts in front of me (because that’s what’s in front of me). I look for exactly 3 milliseconds before it all registers in my mind and I have a chance to move my relaxed gaze up to the woman who owns the breasts. I say a quick apology and something about thinking I had the tub to myself. She smiles at me and says something about the fact that I did for awhile. We both do a really lazy, relaxed laugh.

In those 3 milliseconds, I noticed that those breasts were in some ways quite similar and in other ways dissimilar from my own. It registers with me that our 4 boobs have their similarities and dissimilarities as they relate to the breasts we see scantily clad in any form of media.

I tell myself to relax and stop comparing breasts. I lean back and feel the hot bubbly water. I hear the two ladies who have joined me chatting like old friends. I don’t listen to the content of their conversation, but the cadence and tone of their obvious familiarity is really lovely and I sink deeper into my relaxation.

Now my hot tub timer goes off. I climb out, without caring what I look, and ask my new neighbors how much more time they want. I dial it in for them and sink into the cool tub with another audible sigh.

I continue my hot/cool exploration as I move between the cool tub, sauna and steam rooms and shower. I’m there for about an hour total and all of we ladies there walk by each other on our way to this or that – carefully on the wonderful tile floor and with little concern or formality (to cover yourself here would be odd).

The next time I visit this incredible place, which by the way, is scented with rosemary and lavender, I don’t bother with any attempt at frantic eye aversion. It’s almost like we’re all looking at the lovely garments each woman is wearing, and tacitly approving of them. Only we’re not wearing anything. We just smile and nod as we pass.

I know I’m not describing that accurately, but this is so foreign to me, I’m at a bit of a loss for words…

There’s a nurturing, feminine, beautiful and warm atmosphere in this room where no model body exists and underwear clad workers assume awkward positions in order to slap with efficacy. There’s this… celebration of our need for relaxation and respit here. This lovely release of everything other than that relaxation and respit. Who gives a hoot about the geometric shape or mass of your breasts, bottom, thighs or upper arms here?

I honestly don’t know if all of this wonderful mental relaxation is a product of the heat and cold, scents, sounds or intention. I don’t care. I just know that it relaxes my body and soul.


I bought an ukulele and have begun teaching myself a few cords. I’m also taking a script writing class and continue experimentation with watercolors (as opposed to the acrylic paints, with which I’m much more comfortable). I’m really making a lot of effort to continue learning wherever and whenever possible.

All this on an island where I am constantly surrounded by and do not speak the native language and am trying to absorb and understand a culture that is seemingly entirely separate from my own.

… and it’s working. I’m not putting pressure on myself to learn any of these now. In fact, I’m giving myself permission to be awful at everything I’m attempting to learn. THAT permission to fail is much more foreign to me than the language here and I secretly love it. I love my immature paintings, fumbled strummed cords and garbled language and misunderstandings. Because that permission to fail is so foreign and thrilling… it’s exciting to finish something and say “wow, I really fucked that up – and it’s okay!”


What will I fuck up next? surfing? Well, maybe I won’t go quite that far… but I could try making nice with someone I really don’t like… or perhaps shutting the hell up when every fiber of my being wants to shout about something.

I’ll tell you what – something that’s been really pretty cool is giving myself permission to fail while meditating. Actually, that may just be the key to meditating for me… FAILURE to keep my mind in one place for more than a millisecond!

Okay, so to wrap this up… I’m discovering that my success in any one attempt/field/project does not define me. My ATTEMPT and the honest outcome of it – now that’s the sweet stuff.

Define me? Oh, who the hell cares. I don’t think I really need to do that anymore. Do you?

I know full well that most of these will get better with time. I also know full well that my [perfectionist] nature is also getting better with time. Who knows, a few more awful renditions of Under the Boardwalk on my ukulele, another awful scene written by Donna and another mispronunciation of a really common name here in Hawaii and I just may learn to never again beat myself up for anything less than perfection!

It’s about damn time!

April 23, 2012.  Since I last wrote I have sold most everything I own and moved to Hawaii to follow my dreams.  I chronicled everything via video here.  Have to warn you, some of that video is just me talking to a camera in lieu of a significant other.  So if you watch… I’ll owe you a home cooked dinner… or something.

Anywho, remember my last posts about going on vision quests and figuring out what I wanted and who I am?  Well, it turns out that once you do that, what you want and need starts showing up – and I recognized it when it arrived.  I asked for it, I got it, and I accepted it.

Leading up to that was a lot of muck and mire, but the upshot is good and I honestly expect it to get better.  There really is something to this age/wisdom thing, you know?



Life Gets in the Way

There is a third-to-half finished painting of a willow tree in the snow upstairs and a piece of Private Art [I will not discuss] hidden in the closet behind me.  A friend gave me a gorgeous little “Transition Journal,” in which I’ve only written three pages thus far… and honestly, those were only completed because my routine car maintenance took a little longer than usual and I happened to have that journal in my purse.  There are colorful tales and images and ideas buzzing around in my head, but I don’t have time to extract them, so they keep bumping into each other and – if left to collide with no exit in sight – are quite likely to eventually form a brown slurry with no hope of definition.

You see, life has gotten in the way of my art.  The stuff that drives the paintings and blogs and ideas, is standing in the way of them.  What kind of ride is this?

Meh… I suppose this is the time of my life during which I build the sort of background and character that makes the above more interesting and rich.  I guess that packing and moving and unpacking and major life decisions and actions and a career change are required so that I can give good exposition later.  I’m willing to buy that.  I like to have new stories to tell.

And so, I must get back to all that.  Here’s hoping to return on the other side with more stories!

About that retreat…

First of all, I don’t think K and I had any idea what we were getting into when we planned that retreat.  Second, let’s face it, my accident-related mobility issues definitely put a cramp in several aspects of our plans: exercise – out; cooking – short periods of time only; sleeping – only for a few hours at a time; focus – not at my best.

HOWEVER, all that aside, we did do some amazing work.  When was the last time you set aside a couple of days just to spend time talking and thinking about what you want and how you might get it?  I’ve written goals and plans before, but never with this amount of intensity.  It was, well, intense!

K had never done goal work before – at least not formal, written work.  She definitely had some resistance to it.  There’s a lot of introspection that naturally goes on with this stuff and I dare say, most people have to admit they have not succeeded in getting much of what they’ve dreamed of having.  It can feel very defeating to realize much of what you’ve wanted hasn’t made it past the dream stage… fuzzy dreams.

We did realize the import of what we were doing and  came out with plans.  We also came out with a stirred pot.  Ever since that stirring retreat, both of us have been experiencing some upsets in our lives.  When you stir, stuff comes to the surface…

Sometimes, you don’t really like seeing that stuff come up, but alas, there it is and now you must deal with it.

As a dear friend has told me many times – much to my dismay EVERY time – when you ask for something, you get the opportunity to receive it.  If you ask to be successful, failure will present itself, so that you have the opportunity to overcome it.  If you want to be brave, something that scares the shit out of you will pop up behind you in your bathroom mirror reflection.

Also, to balance all that opposite crap popping up in the way, some of the things you don’t need will fall away.  Sometimes we don’t need those things, but we find comfort in their familiarity.  Alas, great success is rarely achieved by remaining comfortable, it would seem.

Sorry about the complete lack of personal example here, but it’s… personal!  Let’s just say the greatest gift and curse that remains with me ever since our retreat, is the reminder that my every moment is constructed of my choices.  I am calling the shots.

And I’m about to call some new ones…


We have a retreat planned.  My friend and I won’t just go on vacation… we’re retreating.

I could bite my tongue off for saying this, but I’ve actually had a lot of vacation thus far this year and I still felt like I need to get away.  The problem is that I want to get away AND accomplish something.  I want to accomplish the sort of personal work and planning that can only really be delved into when one is extracted from day-to-day happenings.

So… I contacted my partner in crime, Kathleen, and suggested that we retreat together.

Kathleen and I have taken many trips together over the years, but never with a goal other than to camp, hike, talk and drink to excess.  This time, I have some grand goals in mind for us.  I told K I wanted to combine healthy, spa cuisine with plenty of fresh air and exercise to fuel our bodies and minds.  The third leg of this spa tripod is work on personal goal discovery and action plan design.

Go big or go home, eh?

Here’s the plan:

Location – on my birthday (next Wednesday), we’ll drive about 3 hours to K’s husband’s hunting home – the family farm.  It’s a modest, rustic home in the quiet and beautiful Turkey Run portion of Indiana.  We’ll be near two state parks and a lovely river in early fall.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to get lots of fresh air and see some gorgeous scenery.

Exercise – as I’m a bit of an invalid at the moment (recently acquired one sprained ankle, one broken one), this part of the plan is sketchy.  I’m hoping to be much more mobile by the time we go… would love to take our bikes.  At the very least, I’ll be able to hobble around outside a little and do floor exercises.

Cuisine – we’ll purchase healthy ingredients and K will bring goodies from her husband’s organic garden.  I’ll prepare spa cuisine for us (my specialty).  We’ll have three days of a mostly plant-based diet, complete with lots of taste, color, texture and variety.

Goal Discovery and Action Plan Development – this gets a little more complicated.  I’m trying to find a good form to use to help us navigate through this.  First on the agenda is to do some writing individually.  Each of us will outline our perfect day, from waking to bedtime.  We’ll share those, then brainstorm on discovering what we really want, then what can be done to get there.  We’ll translate all of that into action plans with clear objectives and action steps.  This work should span the entire three days (coming back home on Saturday).

The idea of all of this is to put ourselves into a situation in which our minds and bodies are well nourished with fresh air, great food, exercise and friendship… and a little wine… so that we can achieve maximum enlightenment and clarity.

Addendum: there are a few books we’ve both read that will help us.  The Celestine Prophesy, Loving What Is and A New Earth.  I am also bringing the DVD, What the Bleep do We Know and a CD of Candace Pert’s Psychosomatic Wellness.  I read her book, Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d and was fascinated by this scientist’s explanation of magnetic resonance and the ability of certain tones to vibrate within our bodies in a balancing way.  I’m not expecting miracles, but am anxious to hear that CD in combination with the rest of the work we’re doing next week.

So… cheers to our retreat.  Will keep you posted!

(the family farm, which we’re calling a sanatorium for the retreat, has no internet service and isn’t likely to have the best cell service.  Going off the grid should also serve our purposes well!) 

Done yet?

Back when I took up acrylic painting, which was the week before last, I discovered something that really makes me mad: I cannot finish a painting.  I am still working on my first piece and find it absolutely impossible to stop adding paint to the canvas.  Every day I think I’m done… then I notice a light and depth opportunity missed and have to touch up what eventually turns out to be the whole damn thing.  Just a little bit more, there… ahhhhhnd…

No, I’m not done yet.

As an actor and director I’ve pondered the fleeting nature of my art, but it never occurred to me that I’d be incapable of producing something permanent (as permanent as the acrylic soaked canvas I bought at Hobby Lobby can be anyway).  I can write and post this without a problem, but I swear to God and Martin Luther, I will never stop with this painting.  I’ll wiping smudges of “just a little touch of blue that was missing” off the frame 10 years from now.

I’d tell you about the painting, but I can’t… ’cause it’s not done yet.

Well, my comparison to this blog isn’t apt, because this isn’t art (well, forgive me, but I don’t think it is).  Apparently, I believe that Art is what has to continue to develop until is disappears by way of closing night.  And the night is not really going to close on my painting.

Perhaps I should look into making those sand design things on the floor that get swept up with the trash at the end of the day.

Nah, I’d never stop adding grains of sand long enough for anyone to look at it.  They’d be pushing me out of the way and I’d be like “no, please, just be patient… if I add these three grains of azure, that cloud will appear to drift into the distance.”

Then I’d be like “back the fuck off, bitch.  I’m not done yet!”  Then I’d get mauled by the crowd and would fall into the middle of my very own sand art thingy, ruining it with the closing night of my ass cheeks hitting the cloud that would have drifted into the distance and whatever the hell else was there.

I’ll stick with painting.  I actually like it.  I find it relaxing to know that…

(wait for it)

I’m not done yet.