Forget Hot Coals … Try Walking Naked Into A Room Full of Strangers

by on March 8, 2013

Have you ever noticed that there are no full-length photos of me online?

If you’ve seen one it’s probably only because it’s passed endless critiquing or I have deleted it yet.

And that’s because, while I’m ok with my face, I don’t think I’ve been comfortable with my body for more than about a year out of my almost 50 on this planet.

“You know that mix of shame and loathing and disgust that women carry about being overweight (or underweight, or too short, or too tall, or too pale, or too dark, or…)?

Yes. That.” ~ Sheri Ponzi

That’s been me.

I reckon 98% of you dahlings can relate, right?

My body issues have made me lose theater roles, stay away from parties, cry myself to sleep.

At my worst, the number on the scale became the gauge by which I measured my worth and the enjoyment of my day. At my best, it was never good enough.

Of course, as an actress I got really, really good at making sure that the clothes and make up and lighting played up my ‘good bits’ and hid everything else from view, so any and all compliments would automatically be chalked up to my camouflaging skills and not to any actual … you know, beauty.

I had no idea until yesterday just how much of the excess weight I was carrying was to protect myself from this endless barrage of self-loathing, shame and regret.

You see, in the three years since the Great Quitting, almost every part of my life and beingness has been transformed and goddessified.

My work. My writing. My home. My online life. My relationship to my husband and children.

Everything is better. Deeper. Richer.

Except for this one thing.

And it took a day at a Korean spa to show me.

I’d heard rave reviews about JeJu spa from friends while I lived in Woodstock, all of them going into raptures about this authentic Korean spa designed for spending whole days and nights in deep relaxation and crystal energy. So I was deliciously delighted at the power of my manifesting skills when yet another fabulous thing about our new nest turned out to be having this divine spa right on my doorstep.

(Btw, don’t you just love it when the Universe give you something even better than you asked for?)

Part of my visualizations of my ‘perfect day’ always includes some kind of spa/massage/healing ritual and my vision of true wealth always entails monthly, if not weekly days spent being pampered, pummeled and purified.

Anyway, yesterday, with the cold of winter seeping into my bones, I followed my bliss to this alien world of saunas and steam rooms and heated pools.

I was not prepared for the nudity.

Yea. Like This. Only no columns or high heels. Yea. Like This. Only no columns or high heels.

Taking my locker key from the attendant, I left my shoes at the door, and walked into a communal changing room that was filled with naked women.

No-one wearing fluffy, modesty-retaining robes like the ones in the other spas I’ve been to.

No-one even in bra and knickers.

Stark naked.

Lounging on benches. Laughing. Chatting.

Did I mention, naked?

Now, honestly, dear hearts, this goddess is not a prude.

I’ve spent way too many hours in crowded dressing rooms, or doing split-second changes backstage to give the occasional flash of butt or boob a second thought, but this level of uninhibited, unself-conscious comfort took me quite by surprise.

I found my locker, thankfully in a far, isolated corner of the room, and began to undress.

I got to my undies and froze.

Maybe I should get a towel?  The attendant said there were towels. OMGpleaselettherebetowels!!

I wandered over to the pile by the door, awkwardly returning smiles of welcome, keeping my eyes very firmly on nothing in particular.

Picked up a towel.


They call this a towel??

At home, I’d call it a dish cloth.

(I knew no-one would believe me so I measured it with the handy dandy tape measure I keep in my purse … 12″ x 15″. Dishcloth size)

I held it up in front of me.

If I covered my nether regions, the boobs showed.

If I covered the boobs … well, you get the idea. Definitely a case of  ‘why bother’.

At this point, panic set in.

Now, you have to understand, sweetcheeks, that besides the occasional unplanned flashing of bra and panties backstage,  nobody besides my doctors and husband have seen me naked in the past 40 years.

I’ve been much too aware of the droop of my two-baby belly, the genetic (mother’s fault) sagging of my butt, the bulges of extra cushioning over my hips, too filled with loathing.

And despite the heat of Southern summers, I almost never swim.

I stood there in the sheltered corner of the locker room and dithered …

Should I go get another towel?

Should I go get a towel from home?

Should I just go home?

And somewhere in the back of my ricocheting mind, I heard a crystal clear voice say,


Immediately, the gremlins shot back.

Really? How can it be huge? It’s just a spa. No-one knows you here. You could walk away. You could leave it undone. You could leave this gift unaccepted, this dream unrealized.

And that’s when it hit me.

How many other gifts from God/Universe have I turned away, unaccepted and un-utilized?

How many other dreams have I/will I left unrealized because I was uncomfortable/uncertain/supposedly unworthy?

If I couldn’t do something as relatively risk-free as walk naked into a room filled with equally naked women, how was I going to summon the courage to do something really EPIC? Something reputation-risky, like speaking on stage with all those eyes upon me? I would be clothed, but they’d still be judging.

All of a sudden, I knew it was time to be done with this.

It was time for me and my body to be friends. (click to tweet this)

I sank deep into my inner-ness, listening for the whispered message, gently clearing away the grey fear that muffled the voice.

And I heard,

“I’m trying so very hard. But you keep giving me mixed messages.

One day it’s all green juices and cleansing soups and water …. ugh, soooo much water.

But the next day it’s all chocolate croissants and grande lattes and ‘why, yes, I’ll have some more’.

And all the progress I’ve made on the inside gets wiped out before I can show you on the outside.

I do what I’m designed to do.

I use what you give me the best I can, and I store the rest in case you get all mean and sad and starve me again.

I wish you’d be kinder.

I wish you’d be consistent.

I wish you’d give me time to show you how beautiful I am.

If you’d just give me what I need, and not let those demonic taste buds talk you into sweet poisons, I’ll get thinner.

I promise.

Maybe then you’ll be proud of me.

Maybe then you’ll love me as much as I love you.”

(I’m crying  as I write this.)

I stood in the corner of that locker bay, soft warm tears coursing down my face.

I used the a corner of the tiny towel to dab my eyes and took the deepest breath of my adult life.

Not just any breath.

The kind of bottom-of-your-lungs blasting gulp that I last took as a newborn, freshly emerged and just as naked.

I tossed the hankerchief-masquerading-as-a-towel over my arm and walked out into the crowd.


And nothing happened.

Every inch of exposed quivering flesh was screaming in flushed vulnerability …

and nobody noticed.

Breathing deliberately through my nose, I made my way … “not too fast, not too slow, try to look casual” … to the steam room, and sat down on the blessedly deserted jade-tiled floor.

Moisture and heat and anonymity enveloped me but I honestly didn’t notice.

All I could feel was the heart-surge within my chest, the melting of 40 years of resistance and self-loathing. I savoured the soft relief from self-inflicted torment and relished the depth of the love that was surging through my veins.

I was overwhelmed with what I’d just done and by what it meant.

I’d walked stark naked through a room-full of strangers …. so why on earth should publishing a raw, honest blog post ever frighten me?

I’d conquered my timidity … and my new-found courage opened doors that were till then unseen.

My body was screaming for attention, nurturing, consistency …. I realized my business needed that too.

I’d shown my body that I was proud of her and comfortable with her current shape … just as she is … and she thanked me by dowsing me with every feel-good chemical she could concoct.

I was soaring, euphoric, in love with myself.

I knew … for once and for certain … absolutely knew that there is nothing I cannot have if I’m just brave enough to BE who I am, without any need to defend, explain, or cover up the wobbly bits.

With the Being, comes the courage to DO, and the Having follows naturally.

Be. Do. Have. In that order. It’s law.

I gazed down in awe and adoration at the folds of my tummy and the breadth of my thighs …

and knew there’d be no more hiding.



Bliss-ings and endless self-love,







PS This spa visit (and subsequent self-love lesson) was part of my doing The Radiant Goddess Course. That’s me … getting more radiant daily.

PPS The Radiant Goddess Course is part of the Amazing Biz and Life Academy. I cannot recommend the Academy highly enough … you get all Leonie’s awesomesauce courses in there for free. Membership rates are doubling on October 1, 2013. I’d get in now, if I were you.

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimba March 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

LOVE you for your Korean Spa courage! Story in my book called: “Naked In a Hot Tub In Vegas” that is a little like this. I’m joining Club 50 this year, so I really, really relate to you my friend – cheers and tequila to you!!


gina March 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

wow, so loved reading this Jacqui…….what an experience of letting go and being with all that was there for you……true courage, vulnerability and strength……..I am totally inspired :).


Rebecca Woodhead March 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Aw. Bless you. I remember the first time this happened to me. It was in the very poshest bit of London, and all the naked people were flipping supermodels. Actual ones. I’d seen them in magazines. I realised they had more at risk than I did, so I got my kit off and just got on with it. After a while, I found it a very relaxing place to be. Admittedly, that place does actually look a lot like the painting, so it’s pretty easy to get into the idea that you’re in a different world. I’m not sure I’d be so brave in a more ordinary looking place. If they ever bring in naked supermarkets, I’m certainly not going to them.


Michele Anderson March 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Aah, The Reward: “I’d shown my body that I was proud of her and comfortable with her current shape … just as she is … and she thanked me by dowsing me with every feel-good chemical she could concoct.” Another great tweet to share.

Your story made me tear up with emotion. Part way through, I wondered if my body had been talking to your body, because the experience today is quite the same.

What a powerful story to share, all yours and now with the magic of technology, ours, too. You’ve got me thinking now in a healthier way.


Holly March 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Way to go!! What a fantabulous post!! I am so proud of you!! Definitely an image that I didn’t see in you at all!! Interesting our little secrets! Thank you so much for sharing this!! You are amazing!


Cathie Heath March 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Without a doubt…one of the most touching and
BRILLIANT things I’ve read in some time.

And now, I too, am weeping.

Love you Jacqui!



Sarah March 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Thank-You for sharing each and every precious inch of you with the world…
both Inside and Out.
((( luuurve ))))


Shann VanderLeek March 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. You touched my heart.


Nathalie Villeneuve March 8, 2013 at 7:59 pm

You did awesome and you were elegant in your decision to turn around and launch yourself forward in front of strangers.

You were so present and listened and heard…you were amazing! I am proud of you and I love you very much for sharing this with us…it’s huge! What a breakthrough Jacki.

Your message is raw and so real…WoW…you are C O U R A G E O U S and gorgeous!

You have turned a page and I am thrilled to be here to witness more grand entrances like this one…LOL …well maybe wearing a little more then a towel (12″ x 15″. Dishcloth size).

I loved yout story…Thank you



Nancy Norbeck March 8, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Jacqui, darling…I can relate to so much of this. I would have had the same reactions, the same thoughts…and it is so empowering just to read about your choice and how it hit you. So beautiful and strong and wonderful. (And now I’m wondering if this is why you turned up in a dream I had last night–just to make sure I read this post.)

Brava, my dear. Brava!


Natalie March 9, 2013 at 9:22 am

Oh, Beautiful Goddess!! You do not see what we see. It is no wonder we beat ourselves up over being “not enough”. The media, magazines, etc., etc. train us to compare ourselves to an illusion. Cindy Crawford, you know, the supermodel, once spoke about all the photoshopped, refinished, made-up pics of herself. She said that anytime she sees pics of herself she thinks, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

My brother lived in San Francisco for a couple of years and made friends with a lady who to his surprise turned out to be a “nudist”. He found out by accident when she invited him to a certain beach that was “just awesome”. He said when he got there he realized, “WOW, nobody has on ANYTHING!” So, he left his swimtrunks on for a while and began to feel like he was the odd one. Finally, he bared it all and was playing frisbee, trotting after it without any regard to his “wobbly bits”….teehee.

What I have discovered is that everyone is beautiful and that being healthy is sexy. What a feed my body, mind and spirit is what makes me my best…..not that I always feel like my best, but I maintain this one rule. It is that if I am good 90% of the time, I can be bad 10%.

You are so beautiful. You have beautiful glowing skin, Jacqui. Your figure is feminine, just as it was intended. Your spirit is precious and you are the original, not a copy.

Thank you for sharing your vulnerable side. This speaks to me as I am one of those “love me or hate me, I will be me” types.

Love and Light,


Crystal March 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm


I am part of your 98%. I am not full of loathing for my body like I once was – the miracle of pregnancy and the blessing of motherhood re-framed my view of my body and I have embraced know the miracle of the green smoothie – yet I know there is more for me to heal, too. Thank you for embracing your desires and walking me through your revolution.

In Gratitude,



Jackie March 9, 2013 at 5:17 pm

You go, girl!


Cassandra March 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm

*major applauding* This is so real and honest and beautiful. I’m the opposite of you in that I can walk around completely naked in front of anyone with no problems, but I don’t especially adore my face, so I’ve made myself stare at it and revel in the beauty I don’t always see. It’s such a wonderful feeling to accept and love all the bits. 🙂


Chery Schmidt March 10, 2013 at 1:15 am

OMG Jacqui! what i story I couldn’t do it! NO WAY!! I may not have the worst body and by far not the best! To prance around naked is not something I would be comfortable with at all.. What a Great Story Thanks for sharing Chery 🙂


Sarah March 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm

WOW, that’s so powerful. I could have written it myself, I can just imagine the terror I would have faced if I were confronted with full nudity in front of anyone except a medical expert or partner! WELL DONE for being so brave and so honest . Loved this post. Think I will have to share it!


Arwen Lynch, Professional Joy Seeker March 12, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I’m crying as I write this. I’ve worked so hard on acceptance. I can accept myself when it’s just me and the mirror but it’s so hard to do it when it is other people’s eyes being the mirror.

“How many other gifts from God/Universe have I turned away, unaccepted and un-utilized?” was so profound. I can’t thank you enough for writing this post.


Christiana Gaudet March 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

I had a very similar experience when I was 24 (young and skinny) at the Eselan hot tubs. What I learned from it was very valuable, and actually led to my becoming a nudist! I have even walked hot coals in the nude!
Well done and well-written!


Celeste March 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm


Yes it takes courage to do what you did for the first time. Maybe next time try going to a nude beach where there are both women and men. After about 5 seconds you will realise nobody is looking at you (especially the men) and you will feel more comfortable in your skin even more.


claudia March 12, 2013 at 2:53 pm

SO amaZhing and life affirming and just powerFULL realization of self love!

And so cool to see Sheri’s quote here… I am teaching a lesson in her Goddess course where all this came forth for many of us… and just at the cusp of my plans for an online course I plan to bring women to this type of healing via art making.

Thank you for sharing your truth from the depths of your heart!

Claudia Olivos


Kellie Hosaka March 13, 2013 at 2:12 am

Aloha Jacqui!

Congratulations! Wow! Such incredible courage and your story telling skills are just exquisite! I applaud you for “stepping out” and facing your fear. You are so beautiful both inside and out!

Thank you for sharing your “inner talk” with all of us! You are free and you will help others to be free too!

Much love (smiling from ear to ear),
Kellie 🙂


Donna March 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Wow. Big, beautiful, brave. Awesome. You. As I was reading, I wondered what I would do…and my suspicion is I would have struggled to be so brave! So good for you hon! xx


JoLynn Braley March 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm

What an amazing, powerful, & encouraging story towards self love!! Beauty comes & is illuminated from within! I’m so happy you’ve accepted yourself! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story!


James March 30, 2013 at 3:07 am

Congratulations! Wow! Such incredible courage and your story telling skills are just exquisite! I applaud you for “stepping out” and facing your fear. You are so beautiful both inside and out!

Reply April 2, 2013 at 1:10 am

Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience to us. It encourage us to have the importance of self love. Love it so much..


Law of Attraction Believer April 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

What a wonderful story! Sometimes, we do have to suck up and take the gifts that the universe sends to us. So glad to know you were brave enough to do just that, Jacqui! We miss out on so very much when we don’t.


Merlin April 13, 2013 at 4:52 am

I am totally immersed in your story telling skills. Just feel like reading and reading and not stopping any where. It takes great courage to do what you have done. Amazing.


vikram August 8, 2013 at 6:18 am

Hey Jacqueline, it’s amazing to know about your transformation. Very motivational story. Not everyone have that much courage like your you have shown here. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.


vanessa September 3, 2013 at 5:47 am

Thank-You for sharing each and every precious inch of you with the world…
both Inside and Out.


Jacqueline Gates September 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

And thank you for visiting, Ms Vanessa.


Colin DeBre' November 7, 2013 at 9:22 pm

I love you Jacqueline! Thank you for being YOU my dear!
Colin DeBre’´s last blog post ..Fun Friday | Colin DeBre


Lisa Fitzpatrick March 24, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Hi Jacqueline, I had such a good giggle and fond memories of my time in Japanese onsens over the years, thank you for your exquisite stories, love Lisa
Lisa Fitzpatrick´s last blog post ..What It Really Takes to have a Successful Business


Ruthie December 31, 2015 at 2:31 am

after reading this I can hardly breathe.
you are VERY brave.
you are my mentor.
i love you.
I will NEVER do such a thing.
I am not prepared for this nor will I ever be.
but you go girl.
Love and hugs forever,


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