My brothers and I piled into the station wagon while our mother stocked it full of the usual beach necessities: a huge thermal jug full of iced tea, pails & shovels, magazines, suntan oil, beach towels, a blanket and a big umbrella. This particular July morning was chilly, hazy and overcast. The drive to Sherwood Island in Westport, Connecticut, felt longer than usual from the woods of Bethel. I was anxious to get my feet in the sand.
I was 12 years old listening to Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" on the car radio. Sitting in the backseat, I stared out the open window as the wind flowed through my long curly dirty-blonde hair. The warmth of the sun shined on my freckled face, my innocent green eyes watched as we sped past tall trees, southbound on Route 53.
Cracked tar was covered with sand, the roadway leading to the beach hadn't been fixed in years. My brothers and I scrambled out of the car as soon as it was parked, grabbing things from the back of the station wagon. As my mother ran to catch up with the boys, I staggered behind.
The sun broke through the haze, the clouds were gone. I walked slowly on the path of tall grass and sand, past the shaded area full of tall trees and lush green grass, hibachi grills and picnic tables. I walked with confidence for the first time ever, wearing a sky-blue and white bikini. An unfamiliar type of music blared from boomboxes in the picnic area, a type of music I had never heard before - disco. I turned to look in the direction of where the music was coming from.
As I turned my head, I noticed a boy. He was sitting on a picnic table about 20 yards away, with his feet resting on the bench. He was tall, about 6'2", with smooth dark skin. He stared at me, didn't take his eyes off of me.
The world slowed down at that moment and sounds were muffled. My eyes met his and we both smiled shyly at each other. My grin grew as he whispered "hi" and waved just a little bit. I kept walking slowly, still looking at him and smiling as his eyes sparkled and his smile grew even bigger.
For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt to be beautiful. A boy I had never met before gave me that gift.
I ran down to the beach where my mother had laid the blanket and propped the umbrella in the sand. My brothers played in the water with a bunch of other kids while I walked out along the stone-breaker, watching the waves crash upon them.
Here I am today at the age of 52, and I can still smell the salt air of that day, hear the seagulls and the waves, feel the sun shining down on me, and I can still see that boy smiling.
One year ago today, I modeled for a photographer in Flagstaff, Arizona. During the past year we became close friends. When I told him this story of the summer of 1978, I knew it was him that I saw. Sometimes life hands you exactly what you need, and it's a sin if you don't reach back and take a chance. Our journey together begins today, nearly 40 years after we met, and one year after we found each other again.
Do I believe in fate? I can say this - "I am no longer skeptical!"
"I wasn't supposed to be here," Zushka said, as we sat at a little table in the corner of Macy's Coffee Shop in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona. "There's literally no reason why I should be alive."
Zushka Biros is a recovered anorexic, a survivor of rape and abuse, but her story doesn't end there.
"Trauma comes in all different flavors," she goes on to tell us. "It isn't immune to economic status, your ethnic or religious background. It doesn't care what type of family you come from or how rich or poor you are."
She goes deep into exposing her demons, her blunt honesty is impressive. She doesn't sugarcoat anything. What is surprising is that Zushka has processed her tragedies in a unique sort of way - through photography.
"I picked up a camera 6 months ago. After modeling for a few years, I decided I wanted to be on the other side of the lens. Starting with landscapes and posed models, my addiction for photography began. But then, something unexpected happened."
I listened as she told the story of a model who approached her, asking for a photo shoot. "Her name is Abby and she has a studio across the hall from mine in Jerome. She asked me to do a shoot with her and I said 'Would you like to go down to the basement?' She didn't even bat an eye - 'yes!' she said. Then it got interesting."
Through the character of Abby, Zushka was allowed to express her personal distress and pain. "What better place than a dark basement to face the crippling effects that grief and suffering had on my life."
Not only was the photo shoot cathartic for Zushka, but for Abby as well. "To share a space with a woman, to share a space with a woman artist, to share so many similarities despite age and conditions, to be made to feel beautiful and safe, to wake up to images of myself that made me feel like my life is worth living... You are a gift. This is a gift. I hope this is just the beginning." - Abby
The Naked Truth - Triumph Over Trauma will begin at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 7th, at The Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona, followed by a short Q&A with Zushka.
Don't hit snooze! Seriously, read this.
It's 7 a.m. on Monday and you have to be at work in two hours. You’re tired and grumpy, and it’s cold outside. You do not want to get out of bed. We’ve all been there and it’s not fun. Having a good morning ritual can make your mornings more productive and improve your mood and energy levels for the rest of your day. Here are a few of my favorite tips for making waking up and getting out of bed easier:
1. Drink Water Before Going to Sleep
Do we drink enough water during the day? Drinking water before going to sleep you will cause you to need to to use the bathroom in the morning. Needing to use the bathroom will make you want to get up and prevent you from falling back to sleep. Hey, it's a trick that works. Try it.
2. Open your Blinds Before Going to Sleep
Leaving your blinds open at night will allow the sun to enter your room and wake you up. Most people have a hard time sleeping when a room is bright. A dark room is more conducive to sleep. The sun is a source of vitamin D, which is a natural source of energy. The sun also reminds our mind and body that it’s daytime and that we should be awake and energized. For me, as soon as the sun rises, I'm up.
3. Eat Before Going to Sleep
One of the reasons why you may feel groggy in the morning is because you’ve gone a long time since eating. A small snack before bed can help prevent this. I usually eat an easy to digest food such as yogurt, nuts and/or peanut butter. (Eating pizza before bed is a bad idea. I know, I've tried it!)
4. Set your Alarm Clock to Play your Favorite Music
There's nothing worse than the sound of an alarm clock. Set your alarm to play music that makes you happy. Something fast and upbeat. The first thought in your head each day be a bright one. Recently, there are two songs that I listen to first thing in the morning to get me moving: Me Too by Meghan Trainor; and Eat Sleep Rave Repeat by Fatboy Slim.
5. Place Your Phone (or Alarm Clock) Away From Your Bed
By placing your phone or alarm clock across the room, you will be forced to get out of bed to turn it off. Getting out of bed is often the hardest part about waking up in the morning. By getting out of bed faster, you increase the likelihood of starting your day rather than going back to sleep. Having your phone or alarm clock next your bed makes it easier to press the snooze button and sleep longer. Once you are out of bed, it’s usually easier to stay up and get your day going.
6. Consume Caffeine Shortly After Waking Up
You may feel groggy for the first hour or two after waking up. Feeling groggy leads to lower productivity, and means more time spent on certain tasks than is necessary. To eliminate the morning groggy feeling, drink coffee shortly after waking up. Drink LOTS of coffee! It prevents you from wanting to go back to sleep, and will give you the energy you need to get your morning started.
7. Exercise in the Morning
Get outside and walk. Some light exercise in the morning will get your endorphins flowing and give you more energy. Weight training or a class at the gym are great options if that's what you're into. Whatever it is, get your body moving. Getting outside is always best - fresh air is always good for your body, mind and soul.
8. Eat When You Wake Up
Like I said earlier, while sleeping for eight hours you haven’t provided your body with any sustenance. A small and easy-to-digest meal in the morning will give you a boost of energy. I recommend a piece of fruit, yogurt or oatmeal.
9. Do Something Fun in the Morning
Stimulating your mind by doing an enjoyable activity will give you energy. If you schedule it in advance, knowing that you will be doing something fun will make you more eager to get out of bed in the morning. It could be a phone conversation with a friend, reading, or a yoga class - choose something that inspires you.
10. Be Accountable
Schedule something with somebody in the morning. Being accountable to someone is one of the most effective motivators. Schedule a breakfast or workout with a friend. It will give you a kick-start in the morning.
11. Keep a Routine
Look, none of us are perfect. Keeping a regular and consistent sleep schedule helps your body get into a natural rhythm. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. By doing so you will begin to naturally fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day. Waking up will feel more natural. In addition, it will help you fall asleep at a more regular schedule.
I am living the dream, one day at a time, and sharing my experiences with you.
If you liked what you read today, you may make a contribution and support my writing. Much gratitude!
© 2016 ZUSHKA BIROS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.