Experiences with Mama Ocean

I heeded the call of Mama Ocean and let her pull me in off the shore. Shivering and soaked, in the salt water and the power.

i didn’t even want to be there, at the ocean
i told myself

this tender space i was in was already too much
i had too many tendrils out in the world
and my heart was overwhelmed
and the only thing i knew i wanted was to not feel this way
sadness aching for unknown reasons
as my cracked open shell weeped a pain i didn’t have a name for

i had been in a space of spiritual healing
tucked away in my notebook
in my walks
in my quiet space to protect myself from the harshness of the world
i could breathe in that quiet space, could feel the ache subside
until i stepped into the world again
and felt it’s heaviness wrap over me

and so i didn’t really want to go to the water
out there in the world
even for the quick glimpse they all promised

but as we pulled into the parking lot
and i caught a sliver of the endless sky through the shrubs
i realized how much i had missed Mama Ocean
and just how badly i needed her
although i didn’t understand why

so i put my music in my ears and beelined for the shore
and stood at the edge of her waters
where the sea could lick my toes
where i could inch in closer, despite the cold
and allow her to wash my feet
and hear her calling me in

i stood with tunnel vision, just watching the waves
and feeling the rise of each like a pull on my chest

without words i could hear her
Mama Ocean
see her open arms, her readiness to take me in

it wasn’t really love or tenderness i heard
but power
and firmness
that i rationalized away

it’s too cold
my body doesn’t handle cold water well
, i thought

(but even as i said these things to myself
i felt the growing warmth in my feet
as they grew accustomed to the waves)

my lover came behind me
wrapped his warm arms around me
protecting my jacketless body from the grey dreary skies and cold breeze
and whispered something to me that i couldn’t hear
over the music in my ears
or the pounding in my chest
that was synchronizing with the pounding of the waves

and so we stood, watching the line where the ocean met the sky
and the sea lions that were breaking through the surface
and the waves as they continued to crash

i want to go in, i whispered to him
but i still couldn’t hear his response above the song that was playing

so i kept watching each wave
and feeling that magnetic tug from the center of my chest
as the ache within me tried to burn through
welling just to the surface, telling me i needed to release
to let go
leaving tears in my eyes and a sob caught in my throat
then ebbing back again to leave me watching the waves
and justifying why i couldn’t heed its call

and then i asked myself,
will this be one of those things you regret not doing?
will you wonder about this, about what would’ve happened?
about what mama ocean had to say that you never heard?

and as i asked i looked out to see one more sea lion
looking my direction, perhaps wondering the same

and the force of my movements welled up this time
and i said something to my lover
something like “i’m doing it” or “i can’t help it anymore” or “i have to go in”

because i was, and i couldn’t, and i had to

i couldn’t stop myself

i saw the look of worry in his eyes
as he watched me undress down to my bathing suit
(an earlier attempt at a beach excursion)
taking from me the things i stripped off, putting the music in his own ears
a soundtrack to my motions
and looking into my eyes to catch any glimpse of something he should stop
but seeing only that i needed it
and knowing only that i just had to do what i just had to do

so i stepped forward
that pull doing most of the work
as everything melted away
but the brief flashes of wild women i didn’t know before my eyes

then only Mama Ocean
saying “finally” in impatience
as i moved into water i’ve never before allowed myself to feel

up to my knees, and i was propelling forward
then my thighs, marking the deepest i had ever allowed myself to go
then she sent a wave crashing over my waist, washing my core
and the ache welled up within me again
and the sob i had held back broke free
and i kept moving forward
into an ocean that met me without compassion
with only the pounding of what needed to be done
of the battle she was ready to fight for me
not harsh to me, really
but to the heaviness i carried

the cold was aching in my bones, and i was still moving forward
watching each wave
looking up to the dreary sky

and as the water reached just below my chest
i pleaded a surrender i didn’t know had been waiting behind my tears

just take it. take it from me.

and that was just the permission she needed
for in that moment a giant wave stood up out of the water right before me
as if it had been waiting beneath the surface for those precise words
waiting to crash over me
and sweep me under

it was only one small moment that i was submerged
my hand over my nose
my feet swept from under me
and the taste of salt water in my mouth
but it was a moment that held the whole universe within it
where the rest of life paused
holding its breath with me
and the presence of Spirit enveloped me fully
and i felt myself within something greater
tucked away and hiding from the world

i felt the fear of its power as it pulled me down
the moment of doubt if i would emerge
but an undercurrent of knowing i was safe
and this was right
as though i was within something sacred
baptized and held
but also…my body…ignored, small, powerless
just a witness to the ceremony
as i felt the entire ocean flood me
break me open
grounding the shards i had been carrying into sand
and pounding them away

i came up gasping in the cold
crying without tears
the taste of salt and weightlessness
my chest heaving with waves of gratitude to match her waves of power
and a total surrender waiting for another round that didn’t come
each wave that followed gentler than the last
telling me to breathe
and nudging me back to shore
to my lover who had stood watching
holding the bundle of items i had strewn on the sand
tears in his own eyes as he felt the experience from land
and watched as it washed the heaviness away

and laughing
i buried my head in his neck
as he held my drenched body
wrapping his arms around me again
and a sweet soul sister wrapped me in her clothes
and i tried to explain
but found myself just heaving out inadequate words and wet hugs instead
convincing them to take a turn and
joining in again

later that night
i fell asleep shivering against a hot water bottle
to drive the cold of Mama Ocean’s work out of my bones
and with the sensation as though i were covered in holes
where she had pounding away the pieces of my shell
leaving my still protected
but open in a million spots
where the cold air and the sea salt
and the light could enter
and escape
having no idea what it all means
to have had such a conversation
and an experience
with Mama Ocean
but feeling it all the same

© Tara Wagner
July 21, 2012

How Your Life is Like A Riptide

You know that most riptide deaths are not caused by the riptide itself? They are actually caused by the swimmer’s exhaustion as they fight the tide trying to regain their control and sense of safety.

#wideskydays #beach #ocean #pacific #sandiego #california

Last week, after a long day on the beach, I was connecting with a girlfriend online around the idea of surrender and allowing when it dawned on me…

This is life at times: A riptide in the ocean.

We dip our toes into Mama Ocean, playing with the idea of jumping in headlong, with the thought of independence and glory and Big Ass Dreams of the moves we’ll make and how cool we’ll be. Then comes the time when we’re finally ready and we dive in (thinking we look like sexy mermaids, of course) feeling happy, excited…feeling the excitement of freedom and exploration as our Big Ass Dreams become Big Ass Plans.

But the ocean sometimes has another idea.

Sometimes it laughs at our mermaid-esque attempts and our Big Ass Plans and it wraps it’s arms around our waist and says “This will be more fun.”

And then it shows us what we really get to see.

And that loss of control, the pull in a deeper direction, feels dangerous. Our natural inclination is to fight against the current, swimming hard toward shore, toward what looks like safety. To regain our authority, our rightfulness, our power. To be the commander of our own direction. To push through the fear, fight the resistance, or force our way forward.

But that’s how deaths happen, you know.

Surrender Saves Lives

They say if you’re caught in a riptide you should do one of two things to save yourself from exhaustion and your ultimate demise.

:: Swim parallel to the shore: Don’t lose sight of your bearings, your safe ground, your desires. But don’t fight for them. Just move yourself out of the chaos by side-stepping it and getting yourself into a new place (a new frame of mind, a new environment, a new idea, a new rhythm). But sometimes that current has other plans and won’t relinquish you that easily, and so your safest bet is to….

:: Lay back and surrender to the flow: The riptide will move you, it will pull you beyond your comfort zone. It will show you things you’ve never had the courage to explore on your own and take you a bit farther than you thought possible. And then the calm will come, as you pass beyond the rush and you can find your way back to solid ground with a new understanding of the power that surrounds you, a new respect for the forces that envelop you and yes, more clarity on your path.

Yes, Life’s been teaching me a lot about surrender, about allowing, about dreaming and actualizing with an openness to Trust.

It’s been helping me to release the tension and the resistance and lay back with my arms spread open and surrender to the flow, or the sunshine, or the sweetness of rest.

It’s been showing me when to DIG IN and focus, and when to let it all go. And it seems a disproportionate amount of it looks like surrender, especially when it comes to juggling three businesses and family connections and spiritual grounding. Surrender to what my heart really aches for, for what my mind really can’t focus on, to the idea of doing jack-shit all day, then staying up “too late” to get three solid, uninterrupted hours of work done.

And here are my frantic efforts to swim against the current: chastising myself for going to bed at 2am and waking up at 10, feeling guilty for too much time working, feeling guilty for too much time playing, stressing over the taxes due and tires that will need replacing soon, the needs of a daily changing son and the upcoming events on my calendar, and my deeper need to escape to the mountains with my nomadic mamas. Thoughts of rudeness as I just can’t find the time to catch up on emails, when I am instead writing in my journal at the beach. The old tapes that play out when I measure my own needs against the needs of others.

And all the while hearing The Ocean, as it allows me to fatigue myself, whispering to my spirit with the words,

“Release. Surrender. Let me take you deep and far beyond your comfort zone and show you what awaits out there. Lay back and let Me carry you. You are safe…but only if you let go.”


Making Magic in the Florida Keys

We only had 48 hours, me and my love. (Zeb is still in Vegas for a couple more days, in case you’re wondering.)

But we rocked it.

We stayed in Marathon, in a tiny little (slightly shabby) cottage on the beach, for only $100 a night. (Yellowtail Inn.)

We ate amazing seafood with our fingers, and laughed as the dog discovered the ocean, and drank a little too much rum, and drunk texted because how could we not.

We did a little dancing, but not nearly enough. And toured Duval St and held hands and smiled and made love.

And we realized two things:

  1. We really must live by the beach one day. Preferably in the Keys. For really.
  2. We really must make little adventures like this take place more often. Like monthly. Turning the computers off and setting our autoresponders on our email and creating a mini Adventure Week. Every month. Seriously. We do work for ourselves and loving the hell of our life and doing it our way is one of the perks of that. So we’re making that happen.

Justin’s favorite part: “Feeding the fish” over the side of the boat…watching a jellyfish eat his lunch really did it for him.

My favorite part: Snorkeling. And watching Justin feed the fish. 😉

The view from our cottage!

And a very happy dog on the beach!


Sandy feet from now on

Snorkeling rocked. So did the wild boat ride over the waves!



Hogfish and scallops :)

Life preservers for the lunch crowd... Just in case.

Keys Kombo for lunch. Lobster, shrimp, scallops, hogfish...mmm

I wanna live here please

Good seafood

I totally thought this said Tampon Feeding.

Keys Fishery line

Of course Justin was the mermaid.