“In law enforcement, a lot of what I saw broke my heart. I’d come home and take my clothes off and just shed the world away,” he (Dwayne) recounts … And while Dwayne’s non-textile appearance this Saturday afternoon might shock some, the reason behind it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with a common 21st century prescription: self-care.”
Billy Warden, a communication strategist, marking executive, TEDx, TV producer, journalist, fiction writer, to name a few of his many accomplishments, authored the article “A New Attitude: Inside look at the Triangles Naturist community” (excerpt above) in The Walter Magazine.
I had the distinct pleasure to dine with Billy and a gaggle of other movers and shakers in the Raleigh, North Carolina Triangle area this past week. There were so many influential, inspiring, and well accomplished professionals engaging in fruitful banter.
How did I get invited to such a dinner? I had met each of these people individually over the last several months and, coincidentally, many of them were already well acquainted with each other as many of them ran in the same social, and political circles over the last several decades.
So, in a very “Ali” fashion I decided to be pleasantly persistent and arrange a dinner with new friends, old and reconnected ones.
People. I love people. I love connecting with them, eating, laughing, drinking, and I’m always angling to find ways for people to work together for the betterment of society as well as constantly expanding my own personal network. You never know who you’re going to meet, how you’re going to meet them, or how they may affect your life.
As I was scanning the table listening to so many delightful conversations, tales of the past (thankfully pre-social media of course), and running around the mental table playing a game of duck duck goose trying to figure out where my next discussion would land in my mind – I kept meandering back to Billy’s Nudist Article. Prior to dinner that night his wife had sent me several of his articles as informal homework you could say. I quickly absorbed every word written by Billy as he is such a talented writer with off the beat stories and such incredible imagery.
However, Nudism is a word that kept swirling around in my head as I was sipping on my Chardonnay bantering away. It’s not that I had a desire to take my clothes off at that moment on a very chilly November night, but it’s what Dwayne, the law enforcement officer, alluded to when he was explaining why living a naturist lifestyle was for him.
As early as a few decades ago this was not a word buzzing around mainstream society because of societal expectations of going to school, getting a job, getting married, having the kids, working until you drop, and if you had anything left several decades later you could potentially retire. However, retirement probably looked pretty grim back then and likely still today with the fact that aging is a disability in and of itself; so if you become too disabled by the time you retire how much can you really enjoy life?
Now-a-days the word self-care is everywhere you look. Corporations and health insurance companies are even promoting their employees and insured customers to take care of themselves. This may involve meditation, taking a self-care day, gardening, skydiving, soaking in a bath, the skies the limit really. Whatever tickles your fancy for relaxation in order to improve your mental well-being to be a more productive member of society is the name of the game in the first world modern era.
I, as I’m sure millions of Americans will likely agree, ebb and flow with the idea, and more importantly, the action of self-care. Sure, I take preventative healthcare measures with different types of medical procedures and take a few little trips here and there to go swimming to revive my soul, but it wasn’t until dinner that night I realized I am severely lacking in the self-care department.
I am at a point my life where these incredible doors and opportunities are starting to blossom into a lifelong journey where I’m not even sure the destination will take me yet.
How did these opportunities present themselves? Sometimes through excruciatingly hard work, relentless determination, supreme organization, sleepless nights, and, oftentimes, at the cost of ignoring my “inner-self.” Don’t misunderstand me. I physically take care of myself in that I eat incredibly well, exercise, get up, work my butt off, I do take the weekends for some fun, but I have just been going full steam non-stop for nearly 2 years straight on this particular front.
As a result, these incredibly enriching prospects are presenting themselves, but the best way to describe what I am doing to myself is mental “indentured servitude.”
This, of course, is of my own making, but I rarely hear about people who have become incredibly accomplished by relaxing their way through life. I frequently read about people who have come to a professionally successful point in their career and then finally take the time for self-care & balance, but generally not the average everyday person. We’re all just trying to “make it!” Bills have to be paid and this is, oftentimes, at the expense of life balance.
Something has to give in the very near future, but I simply cannot decide what that is yet. On one hand I have my professional advocacy career containing multiple moving components simultaneously, my current profession, my “on the brink” of blossoming new profession to the corporate world of Diversity and Inclusion, and my responsibilities to the nonprofit world for the boards I sit on.
It’s a lot. It’s a lot for anyone. It’s more than a lot for a C6 quadriplegic merely due to the fact that I have to dedicate 4 hours a day just to survival through care giving in addition to debilitating nerve pain throughout my body. Listen, I do consider myself an organizational rock star, but I am not that good to keep this up long term. Whatever task or project I am presently engaged in I like to complete it to the highest degree of excellence. Soon, in a not so distant future, I am going to have to make very hard choices.
The only self-care I dare to engage in at present is to sleep in on Sundays to re-energize myself for Monday mornings. I need more though. I do love to swim in the summer times, but I have seven months a year where that is not a reality. I also like to take week long vacations down to Miami to go visit my friends, swim, snorkel, and enjoy tropical weather, but with a new job very shortly on the horizon my schedule is not going to necessarily be my own. Bills have to be paid to enjoy my “happy place” self-care time in the tropics.
I don’t have an answer for you on where I’m going to find balance in my life, frankly people keep commenting how I’m able to keep up with what I do at the moment, but I do know it needs to happen. I suppose the first step is acknowledging I have a problem. It’s a good problem, don’t misunderstand me, because I simply adore every initiative I am working on in my life. I do have some very daunting personal issues I’m dealing with at the moment, but if I were to compare my life to a nautical transatlantic journey on a mono-hull sailboat I would say I am still right on course.
However, it only takes one hurricane force wind to blow me off course, so I’m always at the helm with my eye on the horizon. I am constantly on the lookout for weather changes, but eventually I’ll have to sleep if I am skippering the vessel on my own. What could happen if I go to sleep on my transatlantic journey? I could wake up in a hurricane and capsize.
I need better contingency plans in my life. If I could clone myself I would certainly attempt that, but as of right now I have been a one-woman show for so long. It is only now, very slowly and after countless relationships have been built over the years, that I am building up a team of amazing individuals around me within different areas of my life to help me steer the ship as I cross the Atlantic unscathed.
You are only as good as your strongest link, but if you are the only link, you are certainly going to break. My self-care is going to come from strategically adding robust links to my chain.
Back to the Naturist
Dwayne found his solitude and peace in being a nudist. I love this. I actually love being nude. The more clothes I wear the higher probability I have of getting a pressure sore!
With that said, I’m going to take a page out of Dwayne’s book in the year 2022 to make some course corrections in my own life toward self-care. I’m not sure what this will exactly look like yet, but I will keep you posted.
I will leave you with this. I am so inspired by Billy’s article of his adventure to the Naturist Park that I, too, am going to go for a visit to this park once it warms to over 80’s°. One of my caregivers has even agreed to join me, so it is going to be one wacky adventure with what will undoubtedly be an adventure for the ages! I’m always up for new experiences with no judgement 😉