How I Spent My Summer Doing Hard Things

Hello!  You might be wondering what happened to me after I declared I was going to do 100 hard things and then dropped off the face of the earth after completing 9 of them.  Or more likely you haven’t given it any thought at all. But maybe now that you have been reminded that I exist, you are curious about what I have been up to.

At the end of my last post many months ago (100 Hard Things – Week 2), I wrote this…

“Sometimes hard things just happen, not because you made a big, exciting plan to leave your comfort zone and go on a fun adventure.  (Oh boy….did I manifest 100 hard things to show up in my life? Universe, just for clarity, that was NOT my intention.  I hope that was clear!)”

Although I don’t believe that I manifested 100 hard things, given what unfolded next, perhaps that gut feeling I had to do 100 hard things was just a premonition that a lot of hard things were coming my way.

The week after I wrote that post, I headed upstate to visit my Dad.  We were supposed to attend an award ceremony to present an annual scholarship in my youngest brother’s name.  Instead, we found ourselves at the same-day heart clinic trying to figure out why my Dad was having tightness in his chest (which he informed me had been happening for a few weeks.)

The original plan was to spend the week with my Dad and head home to start the astrology class I had signed up for and get my web design business going.  That is not how the summer went.

One thing led to another which included more tests and a heart valve replacement in July which was a minimally invasive procedure that was expected to have my Dad back on his feet in less than a week. Instead, there were multiple complications, including a stroke which left him initially unable to speak or move the right side of his body.

Needless to say, it was a hard summer for my Dad, me, and my whole family. I conquered at least 100 Hard Things this summer, if not more.  It was definitely NOT what I had in mind, but it was what life delivered.

My Dad has made an amazing recovery and is getting stronger and clearer every day.  He is settled in at home, after a week in the hospital and a month at rehab, with a 24/7 home care team and lots of visiting nurses and therapists (thanks to the foresight to purchase a long-term care policy many years ago and amazing health insurance that his former job of 40 years pays for.)

I am finally back home in NYC after spending most of the summer upstate taking care of my Dad, his dog, and everything else in his life.

It’s disorienting to be home after such a long time away. I am still managing lots of daily “Dad things” from here and getting re-acquainted with the energy of the city, which is also disorienting.  This summer I just had to stay in the moment and focus on what had to get done that day to manage Dad’s affairs and his health.  Now I am stepping back and looking at my own projects and plans and re-evaluating where to go from here, knowing that helping my Dad will consume a lot of my time for the foreseeable future.

I know many of my friends are in the same position or have already been through this.  It’s just a part of life that most of us go through.  We avoid thinking about our parents aging and needing more help from us until it actually happens, and then we are in it and we just have to DO it.  I was more prepared than most people probably are (and my project management skills have come in VERY handy) but it’s a lot of work and watching your parents struggle is hard!

There were also good things that happened this summer.  I had A LOT more connection in my day-to-day life.  It was the first time I engaged with humans in person every single day in YEARS.  The hospital, rehab, and caregiver team became our community and my Dad got amazing care from great people. I spent SO much quality time with my Dad. He is a hilarious man, a great guy, and a nice person to spend time with.

I grew quite fond of my Dad’s dog Peggy (despite how smelly she is and how much she barks.)  I wouldn’t have her move in with me or anything, but I miss her a little bit 😊  I got to spend more time with my sister and upstate fam, which is always fabulous.  And miraculously, my plant didn’t die despite being watered only twice in three months.  (I think this is a sign of some kind – perhaps a symbol of resilience?  My plant and I are both pretty tough, I guess.)

So that is what I have been up to while I was MIA.  I am easing back into things.  I will eventually finish that astrology class.  I will eventually build more websites. More hard things will come my way.  Hopefully, more fun things will come my way, too.  I am not planning on doing 100 more of anything any time soon. I am just going to stay in the moment, slowly restart the things I put on hold,  and see what happens next…

100 Hard Things – Week 2

This was a weird week.

We started things off with an eclipse on Sunday night.  When eclipses happen, the energy on the planet is supporting us to let things go or bring in new things.  Sudden things might happen to nudge you (or force you) to shift your perspective (or your life).

This was supposedly a particularly intense eclipse because it was a full moon, it was in Scorpio (which is an intense sign) and it was squaring (tension) Saturn (a planet of hard lessons).   Did you feel it?

Anyway, this eclipse was in the back of my mind, where they usually are, until things started getting intense all around me.

The week started with multiple COVID exposures in my family and a lot of waiting to see what would happen.  It turned out that some of the youngest members of my family DID contract COVID (they are doing fine and trending up!) and the oldest member of my family dodged it!  Worrying about all of that took a lot of brain space.

Also in my broader family orbit this week, someone passed away and someone else was in a horrible accident.  AND dinner plans with a friend were canceled because she was exposed!

That was a high number of not-so-great sudden “eclipsey” happenings this week (or total coincidence).

The eclipse (and the exposures) did light a fire under me to get my second booster shot.  Each one gets easier, but no one loves vaccines and I had been avoiding it, so it counts as hard thing #8. The mRNA made me very spacey and tired for a couple of days, as it always does.  Although it was not as exciting as my first three shots at the Javits Center and the American Museum of Natural History, I got a cute heart band-aid at possibly the nicest CVS in NYC.

In my spacey haze, I DID get inspired to start something new!!!  I signed up for an astrology class I have had my eye on for over a year.  It’s an investment and a big-time commitment while I am supposedly starting a business (I am!) but my gut said I should do it now and not wait.  This whisper in my head to keep going with astrology does not go away, so I need to listen to it.  Finally taking that leap was hard thing #9.  The class starts June 1st and it’s 6 months long…it’s a big one!

That was as far as I got this week with hard things.  I WAS going to do a community clean-up in my neighborhood park (something hard that I would not normally do) BUT I was catching up with my sister about the weekly happenings when it kicked off and it was HOT outside so I blew it off.  When I swung by later to see what they were up to, it looked very disorganized, so I was kind of glad I skipped it!

I was back on media this week and felt compelled to read everything I missed last week (BAD PLAN). Since I was so spacey and tired it was hard to do anything but scroll through social media and news for a few days.  That just sent me right back down the rabbit hole (which I now need to try to climb back out of).

I had three potential social engagements, but they were all postponed.   The last one I postponed myself because I decided to visit my Dad this upcoming week and just want to be extra cautious with cases so high.  It’s exhausting and hard to navigate this all…. (AND I just learned that there was a shooting on the subway that I might have been traveling on today, so maybe my COVID anxious brain saved my life?)

Sometimes hard things just happen, not because you made a big, exciting plan to leave your comfort zone and go on a fun adventure.  (Oh boy….did I manifest 100 hard things to show up in my life? Universe, just for clarity, that was NOT my intention.  I hope that was clear!)

Could have been better, could have been worse. It was just a weird week.

100 Hard Things – Week 1

Let me start by saying that I sure do regret committing publicly to doing 100 Hard Things.  I feel like I drunk texted something stupid in the middle of the night that I wish I could take back.

The past two years were HARD.  Why in the world did I commit to doing 100 MORE hard things.  WTF!!!  What happened to my motto for 2022…. “Just Be”.  That was a great plan!

I also feel like I underplayed the mental health component of why things are hard.

There have been many low points emotionally for me this past year.  Depression and anxiety run in my family (yay us!).  The dark moods have always swooped in from time to time and I am pretty good at pulling myself up when I am low, but for many years I had the help of a therapist.  I am now riding solo, sans therapist, and between the changes in my life and the turmoil in the world there have been more lows and it has been harder to pull myself out of them.

A few people this week (and time away from social media) reminded me that the general vibe of the world is depressed and anxious right now.  Lots and lots of people are stuck, or sick, or suffering, or just trying to survive.  Some people are thriving (and those are the people who are generally showing up in my social media feed) so it’s easy to forget about the sad people who are not sharing that they are sad.  (To anyone who is reading this right now and feeling sad…I see you and I am sending you a hug!)

It happens to be Mental Health Awareness month, so it feels especially important to point out that it’s not always easy as just “deciding to do hard things” to get unstuck.

When I was in therapy, my therapist (or I) would often suggest that I should do something, and then I would usually do it so I didn’t have to go back in there and explain why I didn’t do it.  And, I would usually feel better when I did the thing.  So, instead of trying to find a new therapist, I figured why not just create an accountability project for myself?  It will force me to do things that will make me feel better and I don’t have to go back to therapy.

I am basically conducting a huge cognitive behavioral therapy experiment on myself.

Will it work?  Don’t know.  But if it doesn’t work and I am still stuck or sad, it does not mean we are all screwed.  It just means life is hard.  So, let’s take that pressure off (that I put on myself) as I continue to embark on this journey.  (Because I can’t quit after just one week, as much as I would like to make up some excuse about self-care and not pushing myself too hard so I can “just be”)

All of that being said, I did do quite a few hard things this week!

    1. I just completed a Media Deprivation Week. No social media, no TV, no news, no podcasts, no reading (unless absolutely necessary, like to help your Dad figure out what’s wrong with his phone), no music for 7 days. It was not as hard as I thought it would be given how much media I’ve been consuming lately.   My brain is quieter.  I did miss TV.  Evenings at home alone with no TV are tough!  It’s my first day back and opening it all up feels like walking into the sun after being in a dark cave for a long time – overwhelming.  Moderation is in order. (Highly recommend taking a media break!)
    2. I joined a networking Zoom with some other Web Designers. My initial reaction when I saw the invite was, ”I don’t feel like it. I would have to take shower and put on makeup and talk to strangers” but #hardthings so I got clean and made up and got on the Zoom and was glad I did.  I got some good insights and industry intel and did just fine talking to strangers.
    3. I had a Zoom with a travel friend who reached out to offer some help with my business. Instead of saying, “Thanks, I’ll let you know” and then not following up (my usually M.O.)  I said, “Thanks! Let’s chat this week and catch up!”  And we did! Go me!
    4. I had lunch with my neighbor/Astrologer/new friend. The lunch was lovely (and not hard) but sending the email to say “Hello, Let’s have lunch even though we met once last year, and you might not remember who I am” (which is NOT exactly what I said, and she did remember me) was kind of hard.  So, I am counting it!
    5. I went to a protest/march by myself. This was BY FAR the hardest thing I did this week.  I battled with myself all week about this because I hate crowds and yelling BUT reproductive rights are important and showing up to try to make the world better is important.  I tried to wrangle friends, but no one could make it, so went solo.  It felt great to push through the excuses and walk across the bridge with thousands of fellow New Yorkers.  I just walked quietly with no yelling.  (AND I definitely had the best sign there. Making the sign is my favorite part of protesting!)
    6. I wrote this blog post and got a little vulnerable!

So, there you go.  Six hard things in one week.  Not CRAZY hard stuff but all things I probably would have blown off if I wasn’t making a concerted effort to do more hard things, which is exactly the point!!!!!!!!!!!! (And doing them DID make me feel better.)

If you are feeling stuck or sad and did anything hard this past week.  Kudos to you!!  (It’s also OK if you didn’t.  Sometimes just getting through the week is enough.)

PS: Someone did tell me that I inspired them to apply for a new job last week, so this “drunk text” idea that I kinda regret is already a HUGE success!

Hard Things

In my 2021 Recap post I reported that I spent 2021 in limbo, slowly moving and figuring things out while doing a lot of waiting.  I explained that I started a new 27-year astrological cycle on January 8th (my progressed moon/emotional self moved into my first house of beginnings) which I thought might light a fire under me to get going, but I wasn’t going to force it and I would JUST BE.

I did actually get a little fire exactly on January 8th and started an online class I had purchased but hadn’t been motivated to start. That moved me back into working on my website and web design business stuff.

Omicron was raging, and my looong renovation punch list dragged on into February, so I was still laying low in my apartment and doing stuff behind the scenes as the days rolled by.

I had grand plans to bust out in March, launch my business, and get out in the world more.  I have been slowly moving at turtle speed in the right direction, but it’s May and I am still mostly hiding in my shell.

The resistance to putting myself out there is HUGE. My perfectionist tendencies are a very big wall to get over.  I do not do things unless I am fairly certain I will excel at them.  It’s risky and scary to start a business and risky and scary are not my jam. (This is why I never really thought I would start my own business even though I knew deep down I was supposed to.)

I have all of that resistance and fear combined with my general hermit tendencies that have been exacerbated by the happenings of the world.

I have been blogging for YEARS about trying to get out of my apartment, do more things, and live a more connected life.  It’s never been easy for me to do.  After two years of comfortable hibernation, not wearing make-up, looking older, feeling older, realizing I hate all my clothes, being afraid of getting sick, and increasing crime in the big apple – leaving my comfort zone is 1000% harder.

Some days, I am perfectly content.  I love the freedom to do whatever I want, pretty much always, and it’s comfy in my turtle shell. Other days I wake up in a panic thinking, “This is it. I am stuck here, getting closer and closer to being the old woman who dies alone in her apartment, with her computer and her phone, regretting in her last moments all of the things she didn’t do and the connections she didn’t make because it was hard, and she was afraid.”

The world has been a shit show.  It’s not all on me that everything is harder. It’s harder for everyone but not everyone is stuck in their turtle shell and it’s getting less comfortable in here.

Last week, my friends and I were discussing how hard it is to change and one of them said, “People don’t really change”.  This lit a fire under me to prove her wrong. People CAN change!  I can change. We can ALL change!  That is literally why we are here on earth, to EVOLVE! (I think?)

But it’s so easy to get stuck.  And it’s so hard to get unstuck.

I keep thinking about the “new things” I did in 2017 (which continue into 2018 and I tried to revive in 2020 before the world fell apart).  That entire experience shifted my energy and led me to even more new adventures, new friends, and new ideas that changed my life. (I have evolved!  I am just stuck on this next level.)

I never would have done those things if I hadn’t committed publically to doing them. Once I tell lots of people I am going to do something, I do it.  (I always thought I was an Upholder, but I have some Obliger in me for sure)

But re-starting MORE NEW things feels old and stale and not right. Every good sequel needs a new twist, but I haven’t been able to come up with one.

Until this week when I had an epiphany!

I don’t need to do NEW things necessarily; I need to do the HARD things.

I need to do the hard things that I have been avoiding that are keeping me stuck.  I need to leave my comfort zone, take the risks, go on adventures, connect with other people, spend time in nature, help people, experience art, write more, and share the things I create with the world. (Sequel flashback to my 2018 New Things theme)

I wish could do all of those things with no fear.  But, alas, that is not the hand I was dealt (or the hand that I chose?) in this lifetime.

Doing the hard things requires me to push through that feeling of fear in my gut (aka anxiety, for you mentally healthy people) and all of the excuses that I make to avoid that feeling.  Here is a peek inside the brain of an anxious, avoidant person when they try to leave their comfort zone:

It will be crowded.  The subways feel dangerous. COVID cases are rising. I don’t have sunglasses and it’s sunny. Everyone will be in their 20s. Everyone will be OLD. What if I get stuck talking with someone annoying and I can’t escape? I have to keep working.  I shouldn’t spend the money. What if I create something that people don’t love?  What if I make a mistake? What if people think I am a lonely loser? It’s too cold. It’s too hot. What if I have to go to the bathroom? What if it’s not fun? I don’t have anything to wear.  Is it even worth it?

Anything that requires me to get past the excuses to do the thing counts as hard.

So, inspired by my anxiety, turtles, my friends who don’t think it’s possible to change, my progressed moon in the 1st house, and Glennon Doyle’s motto “We Can Do Hard Things”   (love Glennon)…..I will be doing 100 Hard Things between now and the end of 2022.

So many things are hard, it really should be easy (and also incredibly difficult) to knock this out, so I am going for the gold and not even giving myself a full year! Some of the things will be NEW but some of the things will just be everyday hard things that I have been avoiding.

Putting this out in the world and committing to it is HARD so #100HardThings #1…done.

(The number of times I almost bailed in the 48 hours between having this idea, getting excited about it, writing the post, panicking, re-writing the post, and finally publishing the post…A LOT.)

I will write about my journey along the way which will also be HARD. I want to spend LESS time on social media and hard things are not always Instagrammable so there will not be 100 social media posts, but maybe some.

If I can get unstuck, maybe I can inspire other people to get unstuck. If you want to do hard things with me, bring it on!!!  I would love to have some company on this journey.

Let the games begin….

(This immediately made me think of Squid Game.  And if I actually posted this and it’s out in the world, I am probably as scared as if I were competing in the Squid Game.)

But I have to do the hard things.  The happiness of my future self depends on it.

Photo credit: Nick Abrams on Unsplash

2018 Year in Review

2018I started my year with a complicated plan to “sort of” continue my New Things from 2017 but with the intention to focus more on quality over quantity. You can read the details here but essentially, I had dialed it back to only 18 new things that had to involve one of my five goals for the year: Fun, Creativity, Connection, Meaning, Nature. (I added “leaving my Comfort Zone” later as a sixth goal, primarily so I could count new thing #1 which ended up not being as fun as I thought it would be.) 

I soon regretted this plan because I felt like I was being lazy. Well, my higher self does not let me be lazy for too long.  In April, I dialed things back up and decided to go on a pilgrimage to find my life’s purpose.  That decision changed the course of my year (and probably my life) and got me back on track with the trajectory I set in motion in 2017.  Phew!

My life expanded in 2018.  I am not the same person I was when the year started.  I would say that counts as #quality.

I did 40 new things. Not too shabby. When I sat down to review the list, I realized I had at least five that I never shared!!! See the list here.

I quit therapy after 20 years. There were a few “ah ha” moments in 2018 that led to that decision.  I am a huge fan of therapy.  I needed it and I healed and grew a lot from it.  I think most people would benefit from a good therapist.  But I realized this year that I have the tools I need to carry on the rest of the way without that relationship. No regrets so far. I LOVE having my Saturday mornings back.  #leavingmycomfortzone

I embarked on a spiritual journey. I didn’t even realize that was happening. I sort of knew I was signing on to work with a spiritual energy healer when I decided to go on the pilgrimage, but I ignored that part. I was like “yeah, we’ll see what’s up with that, but I really just want to solve this thing eating away at me that I should be doing SOMETHING but I have no idea what”.  Little did I realize that that THING eating away at me is the Universe sending me messages that I have been ignoring. I am learning (slowly, and sometimes still reluctantly) to believe those messages and pay attention to them. Some of this “spiritual stuff” still does not resonate with me, but some if it is like WHAAAATTT??? That is amazing!!! Much more to come on all of this, I am sure.  #meaning

I made amazing new connections. I have a tribe of new fabulous women friends who are also on this spiritual journey with me that I have learned so much from. Dating went in an interesting direction this year. I manifested more cookies than kale (this post will explain what I mean by that) but the cookies were fun I have learned from those connections, too. #connection #fun

It was a big family year. I had all of my nieces and nephew together more than once which was so much fun. I learned about past lives with my siblings (wow!) and spent quality time with all of my parents. (This is extra challenging because they are double divorced and spread up and down the East Coast. I spend a lot of time on Amtrak) There were some intense family moments as well, but you know what they say (and by they, I mean the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh)…No Mud No Lotus.  #connection #fun #meaning

I thought I found my life’s purpose, twice, and was then like…hmmm…maybe this isn’t exactly it.  This fall, I realized (with the help of my new spiritual friends and various podcasts) that this path I am on IS my life’s purpose. Learning, sharing, growing, paying attention and helping other people to learn, grow, share, and pay attention. That’s it. Don’t try so hard. Don’t think so much. Have fun. Roll with it. Trust the process. The process IS the thing. (Remind me to come back and read this when I forget, again, that the process IS the thing.) #meaning

The Garden of Eden

I didn’t write as much as I wanted to, but I did churn out 13 posts this year. I took a poetry class.  I saw a couple of interesting plays. I went to a cool event about music and math. I had the Garden of Eden painted on my body. I started using more emojis ? ?. But overall, 2018 was a little bit weak on #creativity 

Nature was the category that got the least attention in 2018.  My pilgrimage was hard core on nature. I did Butoh in the rain. We did a healing in a field full of sheep. I stared at flowers and trees for longer periods of time than I thought possible. I hiked the Tor, immersed myself in the healing pool of a sacred spring, tried to talk to trees, and hung out with a lot of prehistoric rocks.  Since then I made one trip to the New York Botanical Garden but otherwise my life has been mostly #nature free. This is another area for improvement.

All in all, 2018 pretty much kicked ass. I was sick more than I would like, so there are some things that need to be tweaked, but I went pretty hard.  I chose 18 for this year because it represented the Hebrew word Chai which represents being alive. I took my life to a new level this year and definitely felt alive! I chose the name Genesis when I was on my pilgrimage which represents beginnings. This year was the beginning of so many things. I look forward to what will unfold in 2019 and beyond. More on that soon….

My First Shamanic Journey

I had my first shamanic journeying session a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to journey because my astrology/natal chart reading uncovered that I have some past life karma in my houses of family and committed partnerships that I am apparently working through in this lifetime. I am a super curious person and these are definitely areas of my life that have some angst,  so when my friend Kim (who did the natal chart reading) offered to do a journeying session to uncover and release some karma, I was all in!

So what is a shamanic journey? When I sat down to write this, I wasn’t really sure myself how to explain it but Google hooked me up.

“Shamanic journeying is a way of communicating with your inner or spirit self and retrieving information”  (source: Shamanic Drumming)

Who doesn’t want to get information from their inner self? I sure do!

What I did not realize was that a shaman can see in to other people’s inner/spirit selves – which is a very good thing because my attempt did not get very far (spoiler alert for three paragraphs down.)

So how does this work?  Did you know that you can journey with a Shaman through the internet? You sure can!  Kim and I connected on a Zoom call and chatted for a bit. We revisited my natal chart and talked about some stuff going on and then we jumped in.

I had my sacred space set up with crystals and incense and candles (yup, I have this stuff, now) and I laid back on my bed, relaxed and ready to go!  Kim led me through a sort of guided meditation and then started the shamanic drumming and rattling while she kept saying “shamanic” things that, full disclosure, I could not totally hear because of the drumming and rattling.

I tried REALLY hard to “see” stuff. I am sure I was trying too hard, but that’s how I roll. I saw a few images of the old west, desert and mountains, a porcupine, a cactus, a wagon, a fire pit, a woman in a white dress, a baby, a gun, and a pickle. Yes, a pickle.

At the point I saw the pickle, I was thought, “Clearly this is not working for me. Random stuff is coming in to my head and it can’t really mean anything.”  I told Kim what I saw and she said everything that comes in to your head means something, so maybe it did. So far, the meaning of the pickle is unknown.

But Kim saw a full on past life of mine. She went right in to my soul and pulled it out. Because she is a shaman and that is what shamans do. How do I know she really saw a past life? Well, I have no scientific proof, of course, but when she told me about it, I could feel that is was true. And every time I tell someone else about it, I can feel that it is true. Writing this now, I can feel that it is true. It feels true. That’s all I know.

It was a tragic story. It doesn’t feel right to reveal all of the details on the internet. It wasn’t just my lifetime, it was also the lifetimes of my brother and sister, who in this past lifetime were my children. They key takeaways were that I tried to hide all of us to protect us from something horrible and I couldn’t protect us. It did not end well.

This all made sense to me in terms of my relationships with my siblings. They are my heart and I completely believe they were my children in a previous lifetime.  The “hiding out” part Kim related to me hiding my true self from the world in this lifetime.  Holding back and not letting people see me. Metaphorically and literally.  This is definitely something I do.  I have dabbled in busting out, but I always run back. Laying low, avoiding connection, and staying quiet is where I am most comfortable.  In this past life something super scary happened and I hid to protect myself from it.  In this life my soul still wants to keep hiding. But we are here to learn lessons and clearly this is one I am working on.

Sure, the logical side of my brain understands that Kim could have intuited this story from everything she and I talked about and what she knows about me.  And I am sure some of you are thinking that, too. Does a Shaman see “past lives” or do they “see” stories that help people understand things about themselves in new ways and push through them.  Does it matter?  Isn’t ANY way to help people understand things about themselves and become a happier/better person a good thing?

I know Kim believes 100% that she is seeing stories from people’s souls that they carry with them from lifetime to lifetime.  (And she said it always surprises her when she does it!)  I know how this story FEELS to me, so I believe it, too.

What shamans can also do, I learned,  is bring back a part of your soul to re-integrate it. A part that is missing and holding you back. Kim convinced my former self (who’s name was Agnes) that I am not in danger now so I can come out.  It’s not quite that simple. I have not morphed in to an adventurous extrovert who always speaks her mind overnight. I have to work with Agnes on this now that we have been reunited, but it is kind of fun to tell myself “Let’s go Agnes, we’re stepping out!” (which I have been doing a bit more). I dragged my co-workers to a happy hour because I told them I was re-integrate part of my soul. They were awesome and supportive and went with me. I mean, how can you say no when someone tells you their soul depends on it!

What’s also awesome is that this work I am doing on my soul can apparently help the souls of my brother and sister! There definitely seemed to be some energetic shifts that happened. My somewhat skeptical sister (aka Matilda) became somewhat curious and could not stop thinking about this story. It made her feel elated even though the ending was tragic. Some karma release perhaps?  And my brother (aka Bobby, short for Robert) has been unusually communicative with my sister and I since this Shamanic Journey. Coincidence? Karma release? Hmmm….

It’s still crazy to me that I am on this path. I met someone last week and I found myself talking about all of this new spiritual stuff I am learning about.  At one point he asked me, “When did you go on this Pilgrimage?” I told him it was just in May. And he said, “So this is all new? Who were you in March? What would we be talking about if I met you in March?”  That really blew my mind.  It feels like light years since March.  And who will I be NEXT March?  Or in my next lifetime? There is so much yet to be revealed….

 

The Pilgrimage

A blog post can not fully capture the magic I experienced these past 2 weeks but I will try to give you a taste of what went down and how I was led (by my incredible coaches, and the universe) to find my purpose!

The pilgrimage I talked about in this post, was part of a larger course called the Hero’s Way (developed by Sophia Remolde).  The goal of the Hero’s Way is to find your life’s purpose through your work and live a life of abundance! (No big deal..just complete life transformation and awesomeness.)

The curriculum Sophia developed is based on The Hero’s Journey (popularized by Joseph Campbell).  We started a month before the pilgrimage with exercises to visualize our dreams, work through our obstacles, and get to the bottom of why we want to do the work we want to do. Some of this stuff you will find in other self help books and coaching courses (with some unique twists because Sophia is unique), but what makes this course really special is the energy work.

What the heck is energy work? This Mind, Body, Green article does a pretty good job of explaining it:

“Energy healing is a holistic practice that activates the body’s subtle energy systems to remove blocks. By breaking through these energetic blocks, the body’s inherent ability to heal itself is stimulated.”

Reiki, Acupuncture, and Reflexology are all examples of energy work. Our focus was on Reiki. The energetic blocks and healing can be physical or psychological. Everything is energy. Even the thoughts in our mind!!  This energy work is intended to help us release the things that don’t serve us and replace them with energetic things that DO serve us. When this happens we vibrate at a higher frequency and generally kick ass in life!

The actual pilgrimage started in Glastonbury (a magical new age community with ties to Christian and Arthurian legends).  After a few days in Glastonbury (which felt like a lifetime), we went to Schumacher College for a five-day poetry and movement course (which was amazing!). We spent our last five days at the 700-year-old Sheldon Manor (an Airbnb that has its own Wikipedia Page!).  I won’t list every place we visited, or this post will be longer than the Bible, but you can check out the pictures on my Instagram feed if you are so inclined.

Our days were a combination of energy work, writing, meditating, soul searching exercises, movement, visiting sacred sites, and participating in spiritual ceremonies with healers and high priestesses. Every day was rich and full.  (You can see our agenda – also known as a treasure map – to the right) I barely had time to journal and process one thing before the next mind-blowing activity happened. Emotions were running high as we dug deep in our soul work.  There were a lot of tears and a lot of laughter and fun (and amazing food!!)

I knew Reiki would be happening on this trip, but I had no idea what it really was.  I assumed I would be getting Reiki.  On day one, I found myself learning how to GIVE Reiki (and I rocked it!) Then these attunements started happening and the next thing I knew, I was a certified Reiki practitioner. I did not see that coming!  (I didn’t ask a lot of questions before the trip so it was all kind of a mystery as we went along.)

One of my favorite parts of the trip was learning about the Akashic Records.  Kelli Reese was our second amazing coach who led us on the pilgrimage. Kelli is an expert in the Akashic Records (and just a generally awesome as a human being).

What the heck are the Akashic Records? Here is the definition from Kelli’s website:

The Akashic Records are the energetic recording of your soul’s journey throughout its existence. They are like a hard drive for the Universe. They contain every thought, action, conversation, decision, and choice your soul has ever made.

I thought I would be getting an Akashic Record reading. What I didn’t know was that I was going to learn how to access my OWN Akashic Records.  Whaaaat?  Yeah, that’s what I said when I found out.

I was pretty psyched to find out what is in my records, but unfortunately, I haven’t gotten access yet! Apparently, the universe does not think it is time so my guides are not talking to me.  I am REALLY curious about this so I will keep trying!! I will leave it at that for now and do a deep dive on this in a future post. As a preview, I can tell you that Snuffleupagus is involved.

So how did all of this lead me to find my purpose? Since I have not been let into the records yet, I can’t tell you for SURE.  I did have this surreal moment after I found my “purpose” where I felt like the entire journey was a Westworld narrative that was designed specifically for me to make this realization.  It was a crazy deja vu feeling.

I was open and curious about all of the energy and spiritual work but didn’t feel as connected to it as my fellow heroes (who, by the way, are all fabulous and talented women that I will tell you more about later!)  They were getting messages from their various spirit guides, ancestors, and even the trees! I fell asleep when the Lady of Avalon gave everyone gifts in our closing ceremony visualization. (I was REALLY tired!) Let’s just say that I am not quite as far along on my spiritual path as the others, but I am on the path!! It all feels right to me and makes sense, so I will find my way.

I believe it was a combination of the energy work, tapping into my intuition (the tiny bit that I did pull off), the connection and support of these specific women, AND stepping out of my life for two whole weeks that allowed me to find my way to this idea of connecting the business and creative worlds and not push it away like I had the first time it came up. And it will be those same things that help me execute on this vision.

On the first day of our trip, we did a meditation to visualize our higher self and give her a name. We called each other by these new names for the rest of the trip.  The name that came to me during that meditation was Genesis, which symbolizes a re-birth and a new beginning.  I am only four days out of this journey and still riding on the excitement of the energy we all created together, but I believe this is truly the beginning of the next phase for me.

Stay tuned for the awesomeness yet to come…..

Life After 100 New Things

We are four+ months in to the year AFTER I did 100 New Things in 2017.  100 new things was a lot. At the end of the year, I was feeling like I needed a less ambitious goal for 2018.  I wanted to go deeper instead of broader. I set a new goal to do 18 new things in 2018 that aligned with things I wanted more of in my life: Fun, Creativity, Connection, Nature,  and Meaning.  18 was inspired by the Hebrew word Chai which represents life (and is made up of the the 10th and 8th letters of the Hebrew alphabet…hence 18) AND coincidentally it was 2018.

I basically came up with a bunch of marketing “spin” to convince myself that it was OK to back off a little bit and slow down my transformation in to a person who has a bigger life.

I soon regretted that decision. Without the motivation of a measured goal and the accountability of the internet, I slipped back in to my old routines of not doing a whole lot.  I also happened to get more responsibilities at work which is my go-to excuse for not living life.

I am also such a literal person that I found myself not doing things if they did not meet any of the criteria.  What’s the point of going to a yoga class if I have been to that studio before? Does sound meditation count as meaning? Should I bother? I debated changing the plan or the rules then talked myself out of that. I could self motivate to do MORE than 18 new things and I decide what counts as my 5 things. It’s my game. I get to choose the the hashtags.  (I did add in a 6th category for things that do not meet any of the five criteria but they take me out of my comfort zone. But then I didn’t leave my comfort zone…at least not yet!)

I have actually done 12 new things so I am ahead of schedule on my much less ambitious goal. (Woo Hoo!) I have finally added these 12 things to 100 New Things Tab (which is now just called New Things). Looking back on the 12 now, they were not to shabby.

But my next adventure is about to unfold! I am stepping it way up, and going deep in all the five things!

In December last year (at 2017 new thing #96 Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts Experience ),  I met a very cool woman named Sophia (also known as Lobsterbird). Sophia takes creative entrepreneurs on pilgrimages to help them find the work they are meant to do.  This was obviously interesting to me because as you might be aware (if you have known me for more than 5 minutes or have read any of my blog) that I know I am meant to be doing more…but I don’t know exactly what!  Sophia and I connected on Facebook and I loved her first book and podcast, but it did not occur to me to work with her myself.  She is an artist, healer and coach who works with artists, healers, and coaches.  I am not a creative entrepreneur. I am a business woman who sometimes blogs and sometimes colors in her adult coloring book (I am really good at that though!)

Apparently the universe had plans for us.  Did I mention that Sophia is an energy healer (among many other things) and the universe talks to her?  It might have tried to talk to me too, but I wasn’t listening, so it reached out to her.  She said I kept coming up in her mind as she was planning her next pilgrimage.  She remembered me mentioning that I am supposed to be doing MORE but I don’t know what. We met up in NYC at 2018 new thing #10 (a Marianne Williamson lecture on A Course in Miracles – which was pretty cool). We walked around Madison Square Park and chatted for about 20 minutes and I just knew this was something I had to do.  It covered all 5 of the things I want to add more of in my life: #fun, #creativity, #connection, #meaning, and #nature (plus the #6 bonus of “out of my comfort zone”) so how could I NOT do it!!  I had almost no information (pilgrimages are hard to explain I guess) but I also knew this would be an experience like no other and an opportunity I could not pass up.

So….this Thursday, I leave for the UK with 11 amazing women on a pilgrimage to find my life’s purpose.  I do know a little bit more than I did then but not much! I know I will be traveling with some amazing artists and entrepreneurs and visiting magical places (Glastonbury, Dartmoor, and some other mystery locations that I think include Stonehenge).  I will get my Akashic Records read (I had to Google that) and attend a workshop on writing, movement, and radical presence (details here).

The journey really began a month ago when we started pre-pilgrimage soul searching with “fun sheets”, a video course, weekly group calls, and even Skype Reiki (a new thing I have not counted yet!)

I won’t do a deep dive on the pre-work but I can tell you that three ideas for my “life purpose” have already been proposed and squashed.  A couple of weeks ago, my head was here…“I feel a responsibility to save the world but I also resent that responsibility and want to tell everyone to fuck off so I can just go have fun”. Then I went out and bought magic notebooks and had a kale margarita and felt a lot better.  Then I let go of the idea that I have to save the world.  Whatever work I am put on this planet to do will be FUN!!!!  It will make me feel joyful, inspired, and connected.  And then, because I genuinely want to help people, that will happen.  Not out of obligation, but out of inspiration.  That’s where I am at now.

On  Thursday, I leave for two weeks of fun, creativity, connection, nature, meaning, and magic that will take me outside of my comfort zone!  Maybe I will come back a changed woman, or maybe I will come back the same woman who has had a really cool experience.  What I do know, is that I will knock out 6 more new things and it will be time to “level up” the rest of 2018!

(Level Up happens to be the name of Sophia’s new book which is pretty cool and talks about her work and the women she led on her first pilgrimage earlier this year.  If you are curious, check it out!)

 

 

 

L’Chaim! New Things in 2018

I debated how to carry my “new things” habit into 2018. I want to keep doing new things and making my life bigger, but I want to be a bit more focused and ensure that I spend my time on activities that enrich my life instead of just checking a box on a to-do list I set for myself.

I thought about not setting a limit and just continuing to do new things and share them with the world and see how far I get. But I could see myself getting lazy with no goal at all. I may have changed the set point of my existence, but have to keep at it or I could slip right back.

My college friend Jennifer, suggested that I do 18 things in 2018. Not just because it is 2018, but because 18 has a special meaning in Judaism.  She didn’t tell me what that meaning was (and although I am half Jewish, I didn’t know) but I was intrigued.

I did a little research and learned that 18 is universally synonymous with the Hebrew word Chai and that Chai is the Hebrew word for life!  (The Jewish toast L’Chaim! means “to life!)  Chai does not refer to just any life.  Judaism emphasizes the importance of living a good, ethical life and enjoying this time we have on earth.  That is EXACTLY what I am trying to do more of with my new things habit.  Especially with the additional twist, I want to add that will help me focus on quality over quantity.

Someone recently asked me what I need more of in my life.  I came up with these five things which are my intentions for 2018.  (I think you are only supposed to have one intention, but I have a lot I want to accomplish!)

    1. Fun
    2. Connection
    3. Creativity
    4. Meaning
    5. Nature

So I have decided to do at least 18 new things in 2018 and that each new thing has to involve at least ONE of my five intentions for the year. This will help me stay focused on what I want my life to be with an achievable goal that will still require some work. (If I find a new thing that covers all five, then I will win the life lottery for sure!)

I kicked things off on New Years Day with a helicopter tour of NYC. This was a gift given to me by my former team when I left my old job. They gave it to me because they knew I was doing 100 new things in 2017. It was a very thoughtful gift, but they were not aware that I get motion sickness pretty easily.

This was originally going to be my #100 of 2017 but I didn’t schedule it in time, so it ended up being #1 for 2018.  Not only was I afraid of getting sick, I was also afraid of dying (and it was about 14 degrees F that day so for sure we would have died if we landed in the river.)  As I feared, I was nauseous the whole time (which was thankfully only 20 minutes) and could not wait for it to end.  But I lived and I didn’t throw up all over the pilot.  I did get some great pictures and I actually looked like I was having fun!  I guess the whole adventure was kind of fun.  Especially in hindsight, now that it is over (and I never plan to do it again).  So this one counts as fun (barely!)

Thanks, Jennifer for not only for inspiring three new things in 2017 (#2, #64, #99), but for coming up with a fabulous symbolic goal for 2018!!  I plan to keep writing about my new things, and life in general, so follow along and join me on my journey this year…

L’Chaim!

 

#100

I have been feeling some pressure to make #100 of my 100 New Things in 2017 amazing. It may surprise you that I did not have #100 planned way in advance. I was waiting to see what would unfold and present itself to me.

I was debating some options last week, when an email rolled in that reminded me of a new thing I kept forgetting to do all year. Or maybe I had been avoiding it?

Some of you may be aware that I am kind of obsessed with Dan Harris. Dan wrote a book called 10% Happier about how he found his way to meditation. He also has a meditation app that I love and a podcast that I listen to religiously. I actually follow him around NYC and show up wherever he is speaking. Seriously, this man has changed my life.

On his podcast earlier this year, Dan mentioned that as part of his loving kindness practice, he started carrying 10 $1 bills with him every week to give to people on the streets of New York who ask for money. When I first moved to NYC, I decide not to give money out to people on the street. I told myself (or maybe I read it somewhere) that giving that money to organizations that help people would be a better use of my funds than handing it out to random people on the street (because who knows what they might use it for). This may or may not be true, but a result of this decision is that I just ignore these people. I sometimes think “that sucks” and keep walking, but most of the time I look right through them. If you live in NYC, you might do the same thing.

When I talk to people about meditation, they say “I can’t do it because I can’t quiet my mind.” I used to say the same thing, but what I have learned (mostly from Dan Harris and the many teachers he has exposed me to), is that meditation is not about quieting the mind, its about paying attention. Paying attention to what is happening in your mind and what is happening around you. It is a powerful practice and I am convinced it can change the world.

What if everyone took the time to smile at someone who looked sad, or took an extra minute to ask someone if they needed help, or gave everyone who needed it a dollar. If everyone did just one of those things, every day, maybe one of those angry people with guns or trucks or bombs would have received just enough love to make a different choice. Or maybe some parent would have just a little bit more energy to give their kid a hug instead of losing their patience. Or maybe some really cold, fucked up person could just get a cup of coffee.

You can’t smile at someone unless you see them. You can’t offer help to someone unless you notice they are hurting. You can’t give someone a $1 unless you notice they are asking for it.

This practice of handing out dollar bills is about paying attention. It’s about seeing people and not looking through them. Its also about seeing and acknowledging their vulnerability and honoring it. Walking past people on the street is easy. Paying attention to them, seeing them, making eye contact, and really connecting to them is hard (comfort zone alert!!)

When I realized this could be a meditation practice that would take me out of my comfort zone and help people I was all in. I decided I would give out $100 as my 100th new thing in 2017.

Then I had an idea to take it to the next level. I decided to write the word Namaste on my 100 dollar bills. Namaste is a Hindu word that directly translated means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” I see you and I honor who you are. We are all in this together.

Full disclosure, this Namaste idea was also inspired by a recent viewing of the movie Serendipity where Kate Beckinsale asks John Cusack to write his phone number on five dollar bill and then promptly uses it to buy something and says that if the money comes back to her, she will know they are meant to be together (it does and they end up together – FYI.) Watching TV is not a complete waste of time!

What I also love about the idea of writing on the money, is that I am sending this message out in to the world and if you get one of these dollar bills with a purple Namaste on it, you know where it came from and the spirit behind it. (It did not occur to me to use a more permanent marker than a Crayola so who knows how long the Namastes will last but keep an eye out! I did also confirm that writing on money is not illegal – because I am a rule follower.)

I went to the bank, spoke to an actual teller, got 100 one dollar bills and wrote NAMASTE in purple Crayola marker on all 100 of them. Before I could start handing them out though, the weather turned ridiculously cold. This has made my plan very hard to execute. No one is outside asking for money!!! I walked all over. No one!!

Yesterday, I finally remembered that the subway is place to be when the streets are too cold!!  So I jumped on the subway with no destination in mind, lots of dollar bills in my pocket, headphones off, just trying to paying attention.

In Times Square I saw SheShe singing her heart out. SheShe is not homeless, but an artist doing her thing and making people smile. Namaste SheShe!! She got my first namaste dollars.

In Union Square, I faintly heard drumming coming from somewhere and walked toward the sound until I found a young man pounding away on plastic tubs. Namaste drummer boy!

I was totally spaced out waiting for the R train to nowhere and realized there was a man right beside me playing the violin beautifully. Namaste violin man! (It’s the magic moment of meditation when you notice you are not paying attention and get back on track.)

On my way home yesterday, I saw a couple out on the street bundled in blankets with a sign that said “Just trying to have a happy new year. Any little bit helps.” Namaste couple on Irving Place!

I looked every one of them in the eye and gave a small nod and they all nodded back to thank me. I am sure they have no idea that I saw the divine in them, but I did, and I am sure that they are happy I gave them a few dollars.

I won’t finish handing out the $100 until 2018 but I like that this practice will transition me from 2017 to 2018. Next year, I want to focus on more activities that bring meaning to my life and this is a great symbolic start to that journey.  (More on that in my next post.)

Until then, Namaste and Happy New Year to you!!