clothing optional spas

My First Clothing Optional Spa Adventure

I was on my way to the spa when I halted on the sunny sidewalk to grope around the inside of my canvas rucksack. I confirmed that my fear was warranted. I had forgotten my optional clothing.

Never before would I have called this buns-out little number a modest garment. However, when you’re wearing a bikini at a clothing optional spa, you’re pretty much wearing a nun’s habit.

Why partake in a clothing optional spa if you’re uncomfortable with being naked? Great question.

For selfish reasons…I wanted to use the spa facilities, a sauna and a soaking pool, that I knew would rock my wellness world—especially when combined with a 60-minute deep tissue massage. Aaaah.

After collecting my optional clothing, I sorta forgot I was heading to a “naked spa.” During my newbie tour, I was quickly reminded of my bare ass surroundings while receiving instructions for securing personal belongings in the co-ed locker room. In walked a man from the soaking pool, diplomatically covering his bits with the rented spa towel.

I admired the locker room wall with a sudden burst of energy, much the way I would behave after sighting a gorgeous pair of shoes on a display shelf. Avoidance seemed like the right thing to do, but I couldn’t exactly pull off the “act natural” thing this way. So, I focused past any naked people as if I was searching for my exit sign on the freeway.

There we go. That seems way more natural, Britt. Nice work.

My eyes widened. What if I ran into someone I knew here? A client? A friend’s husband? A former boss?

A good friend of mine went to a clothing optional spa with her boyfriend once. They’re comfortable with the whole naked thing, so they opted out of the clothing option. So did her boyfriend’s boss.

That was the first time my friend met her boyfriend’s boss. Although she isn’t the kind you can make blush, she was mortified they were all shaking hands, buck naked.

These things happen. Still, I prayed to be surrounded by naked strangers, something I can’t recall ever praying for until that fateful moment.

When I spotted the doors on the bathroom (that locked!), I wondered if it was all a mirage. I turned the handle, dashed inside, locked the door, and took a moment to catch my breath with my back against the door.

In record time, I changed into my nun’s habit bikini and wrapped my crusty orange towel around my body to serve as my introverted shield. I hurried into the safety of the soaking pool and had the place to myself for approximately two minutes. Until a boisterous naked couple barreled out of the sauna, carefree…and well, carefree.

I admired the sky with a sudden burst of energy, much the way I would behave after sighting an unexpected rainbow. It was a pleasant summer day—the birds waxed poetic in their feathery ensembles and the trees moved in the wind like elegant women in flowy dresses. Even nature’s creatures seemed to be wearing clothes that day. Except here.

“You want the jets on?”

I made eye contact with the naked couple and said…nothing. I was an introverted mute in a foreign, naked land. I managed a nod.

They smiled at me, unfazed by my habit bikini and muteness. They strolled over to the switch, set the timer, and joined me in the soaking pool. A young woman sauntered out of the locker rooms and posted up on a towel to lay out. An older man strolled out of the locker rooms, whistling a jaunty tune as he entered the sauna.

Clothing optional spas suggest that you won’t be the only one running around in your nun’s habit. On this particular day, my first clothing optional spa experience in life, wouldn’t you know it? I was the only prude tip-toeing around, blushing profusely until I blended in with the accent colors on my floral bikini.

“Britt?” My massage therapist came to the rescue. In an interesting twist, she was fully clothed. Thank God!

During my massage—which was fantastic—I had some introspective moments about my nakedness discomfort. I thought I was comfortable with bodies, having been around my fair share of naked dancers backstage for ballet performances. And, er…I’ve seen my fair share of naked men in more intimate settings. I’m 37, okay? I’ve seen lots of human parts.

Visiting a co-ed clothing optional spa isn’t something you typically do in American cities, unless you’re in a more liberal city like I am. It’s common for people to strip down and enjoy naked liberation around here. And apparently, meet your significant other’s boss for the first time.

Am I ever going to be that liberated? Nah, and that’s okay. I do have an appreciation for those who are cool with it—the establishments who truly offer a “come as you are” space and the people who benefit from relaxing in those spaces.

I’ll just keep rocking my nun’s habit bikini around others and keep my birthday suit celebrations inside the house.

manuscript rejections

The Regular Practice of Rejection

Rejection has become a regular practice for me. I’ve been learning how to breathe through it—inhale, exhale—then send another query email into the void. Rejection is something we all face and it is certainly not a life practice reserved for artists.

For writers, rejection happens constantly—externally and internally. I have sent 37 query emails into the void this past year:

  • Emails 1-3: Sent to 3 agents who liked my pitch at a writer’s conference. We did the whole “speed dating” pitch session. (Fun stuff…not!) They all passed.
  • Email 4: Sent to an indie publisher who I built up a relationship with over time. She was very supportive, but she passed.
  • Emails 5-6: Sent to 2 local publishers. Thought I had a fighting chance since my novel, Virasana, is an urban fantasy novel set in a dystopian Portland. Nope, cue crickets.
  • Emails 7-37: Sent cold emails to agents who represented books in my genre bucket. More crickets, peppered by a handful of automated rejection emails which you can enjoy throughout this post.

For shits and giggles, I committed to the rejection cliche of 100 query attempts. I dipped my toe in the rejection waters last August-October during and after my first writing conference. I was discouraged, so I let things rest. In March, I fired up the rejection engine again and started sending more emails.

Continue reading “The Regular Practice of Rejection”

rose wine bottle

Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good

I used to think flowers were bullshit. And by “used to” I mean 15 years of my life were shrouded in flower cynicism.

During my early dating years, I instructed boyfriends to adhere to my flower rules. Don’t apologize with them and don’t express love with them. Got it?

Perhaps these flower rules seem harsh, but I had my reasons. If petals faded, wilted, then fell to the ground within 3-5 days…how was that tragic performance a symbol of eternal love? How did the cheapest bouquet from the chain grocery store serve as a relationship peace treaty?

One day I was forced to abandon my flower cynicism. Mr. H gave me an irresistible bunch of flowers for our 11-year anniversary.

He kissed me and said: “Don’t be a dick. Happy anniversary.” (Side note…we call each other dicks all the time in this house. It’s our time-out phrase.)

Mr. H and his floral-scented purple, yellow, and green accomplices tugged at my heart strings a little. Okay, a lot.

Continue reading “Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good”

Stop Before You Miss Everything

Bee looked down on the bed at her somewhat portly Tabby cat. Hazel the cat seized the moment when she had Bee’s full attention, presenting her irresistible belly. Smiling, Bee petted Hazel’s soft belly with both hands. Suddenly, the surround sound of purrs filled the room.

After 32 seconds of belly petting, Bee returned to her tablet device, still petting Hazel with her free hand. The purring halted, like a warm engine that shut down and turned cold.

Bee set her device down upon the wool comforter. She squinted at the unkind union of her blue and pink psychedelic fish patterned device cover and the grey, cream, and orange rustic pattern on the bedcover. The clashing colors didn’t matter anymore…the purring engine revved up.

Continue reading “Stop Before You Miss Everything”

everythings not bigger

Everything’s Not Bigger is Now Available in Paperback

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Albert Camus’ words came to mind as I prepared my third novel, Everything’s Not Bigger, for its rerelease as a paperback edition. (In case you’ve been waiting around since the ebook published WAY back in 2012, today you can finally grab a print copy.)

Fiction is just as real as non-fiction in so many aspects. What makes fiction impactful are the real moments and people we infuse into each story. Even when I wrote my historical fiction novels, Nola Fran Evie and Beneath the Satin Gloves, I brought in life experiences to make the stories more authentic.

Keep Reading…