Sunday, December 2, 2012
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with StaySea, a mermaid from the west coast of the US. Merfolk, As StaySea tells her story, you may discover that you have traveled a similar path of discovery. StaySea will certainly inspire us all. Join me in welcoming her to the blog!
StaySea: My mermaid bio: My full name is StaySea Oceanosea, I was born on a long beach and raised on the shores of a garden isle. I’m also known as Beach Blossom, crunchy kelp bulbs are my favorite snack and I received my early mermaid education at All Saints by the Sea.
The reality: I was born in Long Beach, CA and lived on the beach on the north shore of Kauai (known as the Garden Isle) as a child. Being born a flower child, my mother wanted to name me Beach Blossom, but thought I would hate it - instead I loved it and adopted the nickname! Oceanosea is a play on my father's last name, O’Shaughnessy. When I was little I really did love eating kelp bulbs straight off of the beach. I refrain from doing so now. I’m not sure that they are safe to eat, knowing that the ocean isn't clean, though my mouth salivates every time I see one! I am a hula dancer and I teach hula fusion dance and live with my wonderful husband by the sea, right around the corner from the nursery school I attended as a guppy, All Saints by the Sea, in Montecito, an enclave of Santa Barbara, CA.
Cynthia: How did you first get into mermaiding?
StaySea: I have felt that I was a mermaid as long as I can remember. I have always lived near the sea and derived endless hours of joy from playing in water or just being by the sea shore. I feel a deep connection with sea life, whales often come to me in profound dreams, as do sharks and dolphins. Though I never took swimming lessons as a child, I could swim faster and could hold my breath longer than anyone I knew. Ironically I failed the swimming test in high school because I didn't know proper surface swimming strokes. Swimming underwater came naturally to me and even though I had to take swimming class and learn surface strokes I still prefer to swim underwater, it just feels right. I feel like a mermaid in other ways as well, I am a creature of solitude and feel like an outsider in the human world. I find solace in the wild sea, and a desire to escape to it, a world that accepts me as I am, a being of few words (usually). People often do not know how to take me, find me to be an enigma, but also feel more calm and peaceful being in my presence, like being near the sea.
The movie Splash resonated with me deeply. After seeing it I started drawing mermaids and writing short stories about a girl learning of and revealing her true identity as a mermaid and returning to the sea. I never thought about the costuming factor. I didn't need a tail to be a mermaid. That was until 2008, when I learned of Hannah Mermaid. Her image was on the page of a petition to save the dolphins of The Cove. I clicked on the image and was forever changed when I watched the video of her swimming with whales. It rocked me to the core and made me cry. I felt like I had found my calling, to swim in the sea as a mermaid while promoting ocean conservation. Within a few months I made my first tail and began my journey of outwardly expressing my true self.
StaySea: I perform underwater for photography and film productions, and also appear for most any kind of event, be it a fundraiser, promotional event, corporate event or children's party. I perform mermaid dances in the water, and for children's parties I perform mermaid hula to sea inspired songs.
Cynthia: Tell us about your work in ocean conservation.
StaySea: I do what I can personally to lessen the negative impact on the sea, knowing that all of our actions ultimately affect the ocean. I am conscientious about the products I use - only baking soda and vinegar to clean my house and Oasis detergent and dish soap (which is actually beneficial to plants). Skincare is my special interest, as it is highly unregulated. I suggest reading up on the subject at terressentials.com (link updated Dec 13) - it is a great resource to learn about the ingredients in skin care, what is in it, how it is produced and the effects of both on your body and the environment. I use only organic oils - coconut, shea butter and cocoa butter - on my skin. Each time I’m on the beach I pick up trash, which, unfortunately, over the years there seems to be more and more of it to pick up. I use a glass bottle for my water. I write to companies that use wasteful packaging. We must first reduce, then reuse, then recycle.
I am a fan of various ocean conservation organizations on facebook and share their efforts on my mermaid page. Being a mermaid is a great way to capture children’s imaginations and reinforce the need to take care of the sea. This year I volunteered at SB Earth day celebration. Earth Day began because of a huge oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, so I thought this event was fitting for a mermaid. My husband thought up the idea to have a fish wish booth. We used recycled and reused paper and printed fish for children to color and cut and put in the sea. The children wished something positive for the ocean as they put their beautiful fish into the “sea” (a background we painted). This correlated perfectly with my beliefs and overall message. Not only do we need to take care with our actions, but our thoughts as well. We need to use our collective thoughts to heal the sea. Rather than be defeatists, we need to think positively and visualize a healthy ocean. We also posted information on ocean safe products, amazing ocean facts, and how our actions affect the ocean around our booth. It was a huge hit and so much fun, hundreds of kids came through our booth and made fish wishes, got sea stamps and took photos with me while my husband, “Captain Rook”, sang ocean songs.
Cynthia: Have you been to any of the mermaid gatherings?
StaySea: No, I haven't, but they look fun and hope to attend one in the future. It is so great to have this wonderful mermaid community. I am continually inspired by all the creativity out there. It is funny to me that some think mermaids should be one way or another. Mermaids come in as many shapes, sizes and types as there are people. I am so tickled by the variety out there, it makes my heart sing! I love it all, from the most natural to the kitsch and everything in between - variety is the spice of life!
StaySea: Hawaii is the home of my childhood and heart, so I make a regular pilgrimage there. It is always so hard for me to leave, it is where I belong, swimming in the beautiful warm sea every day. On this trip I swam with honu (green sea turtles) and my husband and I did some underwater video and photography. It is such an amazing thing to swim in the sea as a mermaid, it is pure joy to live it and am thrilled that we can create art from it. We’re just scratching the surface, it is technically and physically challenging, but we can’t wait to do more! He is so creative and a great photographer and director, I feel so very blessed that we are on this journey together.
Cynthia: Do you have any special/amusing stories from your mermaid adventures?
StaySea: I love that being a mermaid brings so much joy to others, but I’m just not always up for making a spectacle of myself. We usually seek out remote locations for video and photography sessions. The last few days of our trip I wanted to shoot by a pier for some cool underwater background, but the pier was on a busy beach. I prepared myself mentally for the mob scene, but I was able to get into the water without much notice, which was pleasantly surprising. What I didn't think about were the people on the pier itself. The mob scene happened once I swam near the pier! Then one large group after another would discover me and freak out each time and ask me if I would pose for photos and perform for video. I felt compelled to oblige and do flips and dives because of their smiles and joy and so I wore myself out before we did any underwater work!
Cynthia: What else you would like to share with us?
StaySea: I just want to get the message out to everyone that we need to keep our thoughts positive, daydream regularly, play often, visualize more, observe less. We are all co-creators in this magical thing called life, our thoughts and dreams are driving this ship, so dream and live BIG!
Cynthia: Thank you very much, StaySea! Look for StaySea on Facebook as well as her web site.
Best wishes and starfishes,
cynthia (at) goldmermaid.com
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