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After eating breakfast at the Aquarius restaurant at the Dream Inn, which overlooks the ocean, boardwalk and Wharf in Santa Cruz, my boyfriend Mark and I decided to stroll on the Wharf where “Woodies on the Wharf” was taking place, a car convention featuring more than 200 stylish, pre-1952 “wood-bodied” cars, known as “Woodies”. Walking hand-in-hand we admired these classic cars which have been restored by their caring passionate owners.

Each car was unique with varying colors, designs, interior upholsteries and decorative ornaments. A few had the doll “Woody” from the movie Toy Story sitting on the dash or the hood of the car. Some had surf boards on roof racks. The varnished wood was gorgeous and the paint jobs exquisite.  The cars appeared shiny, polished impeccably. I wanted to rub my hands all over them to feel their smoothness on my skin. I barely touched them, though, so as not to leave even a finger print on these perfect works of art.

My senses were fully alive after a morning of passionate love making with Mark and a deep, lively conversation over breakfast about possibility, transformation and the nature of existence. Not only was I moved by the beauty of the cars, but I also noticed a particular vibrancy to the colors of the rides on the boardwalk and the clothing of the people on the beach. A beautiful rainbow of color, life and creative expression exploded all around me.

Mark and I stopped to watch, at a distance, a ride called “Fireball”, described as: “Thrilling disorientation at its finest! Fireball’s powerful G-forces swing and spin riders to dizzy heights making this one of the most popular rides on the Boardwalk.” Both of us felt a rush of energy, and the feeling of our stomachs dropping, as we observed the ride swing and spin. It was as if we were experiencing the ride itself. We were amused that even half a mile away we could be affected by a ride we weren’t even on!

As I write this, I marvel at how I got to this state of aliveness, how I am able to feel so much joy, ecstasy and bliss in my body. It seems that I have more capacity than ever to FEEL. And I think back over the road that I have traveled over the last few years, a road that has been filled with pain, uncertainty, doubt, and tears and I know my experience of aliveness is in direct proportion to my willingness to surrender and express ALL of my grief.

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Karen Mehringer, MA, MFT - Grief support, counseling and life coaching in Santa Cruz area.