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…

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

The Genie is Out of the Bottle

After a trial run last summer, I find myself officially unemployed again.  It took me by surprise, but only because I had my head in the sand.  Organizational changes this past year, the departure of my long-time boss and mentor, and the arrival of a new boss with new ideas about how to structure the team resulted in me signing separation papers at the end of February.

If you know me (or have been following along), you are aware that I have been on an eternal quest to live a more fulfilling life. When I say “eternal quest,” I mean years of therapy and career/life/spiritual coaches, writing the same questions over and over in my journal, trying new things,  getting glimmers of ideas that I get excited about and then making a million excuses for why I shouldn’t pursue them and retreating back in to my unfulfilling career where the paychecks kept coming and the volume of work keeps me numb so I can ignore the eternal quest for a while.  (The proof that this quest has been happening for what feels like an eternity can be found on this post I wrote ten years ago.)

I took this most recent job with the hope of better work-life balance so I could finally have some space to figure out what I REALLY wanted to do with my life.  My strategy was to ride it out for a couple of years, hoping to cash out a small piece of equity and comfortably take some time off before I launched in to a new magical, fulfilling life that I would have all planned out by then.  It did not exactly turn out that way.  The new job got as stressful as the last one, the goal post of cashing out kept moving, and I just kept holding on for dear life.  In February, the Universe got tired of waiting for me to make a move on my own and it gave me a big PUSH.

Astrology Interlude: You may remember me mentioning that a main theme of the astrology of 2021 was the battle of old vs new inspired by a Saturn square Uranus transit happening three times this year (most likely you forgot, but I did mention it!)  When Saturn and Uranus square off in the sky, we see tensions between the old structures that are not serving us anymore (Saturn) and new, innovative changes we need to make to improve the structures in our lives (Uranus).  Uranus represents sudden, unexpected changes that help us break free of the old stuff we need to let go of. The first of those three 2021 squares happened in February when all of this was going down in my life. Probably just a coincidence?  #astrologyisreal

Initially, I pushed back on the Universe.  I tried to find a way hold on to the job (Saturn), not because I wanted to keep doing it, but so I could continue to avoid figuring out what was next.  It didn’t work, Uranus won.  It was time to let go, and once I accepted this, I felt a huge sense of relief.

I did get angry with myself for not being prepared with my “next thing”. How could I have spent so much money on therapy and career/spiritual/life coaches and end up out of a job and still have no plan!!!

Then I took a step back and realized that all of that work I have been doing for the last three years has actually prepared me for this moment. Taking this job in 2017 shifted my energy and inspired me to try 100 new things.  Those 100 new things led me to a CRAZY unexpected journey that opened me up to a whole new world of spirituality, creative entrepreneurship, and astrology!!!  That journey also sparked lots of other ideas that tied back to passions I had explored and abandoned earlier like website design,  financial planning, and writing.  I kept those sparks on a slow burn in the background while I continued to earn and save money, which has put me in a much better place financially than I was at the start of 2017.

So now what?

I have options to take similar corporate jobs that will bring me safe paychecks (and healthcare), but I can’t bring myself to pursue them.  It’s definitely scary not to consider those options, because they may not be there in the future, but the genie is out of the bottle and she does not want to go back in!

My heart (and the Universe) are telling me that it’s time to take action on those glimmers of ideas that I have abandoned, avoided, or talked myself out of along the way.

I have been consuming tons of blog posts and podcasts about entrepreneurship.  I have always wanted to be my own boss, but I didn’t know what kind of business I could create and the idea terrified me. Now I realize that I have lots of creative ideas and I have built a life that gives me some freedom to take risks.  Are these ideas going to make me any money?  Can I create something that will help the world?  Will being my own boss really make me happy?  Do I have what it takes be an entrepreneur? (This is the type of stuff I write over and over in my journal. Welcome to my inner world.)

Listening to those entrepreneurship podcasts is an emotional rollercoaster.  The beginning of the story sounds so cool when the person bravely quits their job to pursue their passion, then we get to the part where they have no idea what they are doing and are working all the time (that sounds fun) and then they talk about networking and marketing to sell themselves, and their products (yuck!!!).  If no one wants to buy what I create, I am not sure how hard I will work to sell it to them, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  First, I have to start creating things!  (Creating this blog post was a war, so if you are reading it, congrats to me for finishing it and thanks for reading it!)

The genie has been out of the bottle for two weeks and I can tell you that the resistance is real.  In my first week away from work, my screen time was up to 5 hours a day.  I am pretty sure no one fulfills their dreams by getting sucked in the rabbit hole of celebrity gossip, cute dance videos, and ads for anti-aging eye creams.

After I get freaked out by the entrepreneurship roller coaster and waste some time on my phone, I switch over to blogs and podcasts about financial independence and early retirement.  I have spent hours crunching numbers and running “what if” scenarios to figure out how much time I can spend creating stuff that doesn’t actually make any money (or avoiding creating things and also not making any money).

The good news is, I have bought myself some time with those unfulfilling paychecks, my exceptional savings skills, and a well performing stock market (although I am anxiously waiting for that bubble to burst). If I move out of the most expensive city in the world, I will have even more time.

Net-net, I have no excuses anymore.  The only thing between me and my soul’s purpose is ME and all of my fears (so many fears).  I realize how privileged I am that this is the only thing standing in my way which makes it feel even more important to keep taking those scary steps. One thing I have learned on my spiritual journey is that when one person spends more time doing things that light them up, it raises everyone’s energy and makes it easier for them to do the same thing. (That sounds so corny, but it also makes complete sense, right?)

To help me push through my fears (and in turn, help light up the world), I am going to do my best to embody this advice from a beautiful Museletter written by one of my favorite, famous humans, Josh Radnor:

“Follow the charm. Cosmic forces will unfailingly rise up to meet and support your bravery.”

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Media Deprivation Week

Week 4 of The Artist’s Way is “reading deprivation” week.  It was called “reading deprivation” in the early 90s when the book was written, but the world has evolved and now it is a full blown “media deprivation.” No reading, no TV, no movies, no newspapers, no social media, no podcasts, no blog posts, no internet surfing, and limited e-mail and texting. (If you have a job, you can work.)

Why would one do this, you ask? All of it? At one time?

The theory is that this noise is drowning out our own thoughts. The intent of The Artist’s Way is to uncover “blocked creativity” and our creative ideas have a harder time coming to the surface when your brain is drowning in information. All of this reading and consuming stuff can be one of the many ways we hide from ourselves.  In Julia Cameron’s words…

We gobble the words of others rather than digest our own thoughts and feelings, rather than cook something up of our own.

When I got to this assignment, I made excuses about why this was not a great time to do it, and I put it off. I went on a business trip and spent the week reading, listening to podcasts, and posting about my travels on Instagram.  But in the back of my mind, this “media deprivation” was calling to me. I was craving it and dreading it at the same time.

At the end of the week, which happened to be February 1st, I had dinner with a friend who mentioned an astrology web site that had given her a very accurate January horoscope. When I got home, I checked out my February scope which said…

The new moon of February 4th has you hunkering down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019. Pisces does their best work when alone so carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan…..whatever your aim, being alone will bring beautiful, thoughtful results. – Susan Miller

I took this as a clear sign that THIS was my week to tune out the world and tune in to myself.  I kicked off my “media deprivation” week the next day, and by the new moon on February 4th, I was well in to my week of solitude.

I did get sick on day one. (Not a surprise after four plane rides in two weeks.) I decided it was a test from the Universe. “Are you serious about this? Cuz I am going to make it REALLY hard for you not to turn on that TV and veg out, just to be sure you mean business.”

Well, the Universe should know that when I say I am going to do something, I (almost) always do it.  I felt like shit for a few days, but I did not break! When I was soooo tired and all I wanted to do was turn on the TV, I just went to bed.  I got A LOT of sleep!

With Sudafed and coffee to keep me going, I did actually get a lot of things done. I caught up on my Artist’s Way exercises. I called my parents. I cooked (twice)! I read my sister’s birth chart, which I had been putting off for months. (This was my one “reading” exception because I really wanted to knock this out.) I had a drink with a friend I had not seen in years. I was much more focused at work without the temptation of picking up my phone or flipping over to Facebook or reading the news.

Did the deprivation spark my creativity? Well, I did spend a lot of time on this vision board. 

This was a project I had already planned for the week, and then it turned out to be exactly what my horoscope told me to work on…”hunker down in solitude to work on your strategy for 2019… carve out time to think, dream, draw, take notes, and plan”  Hello! Vision board for 2019!

It was a delicate dance in the bookstore to find magazines for this project without actually reading anything, but I pulled it off! I spent hours picking out images and arranging and rearranging them on the page before I pulled out my glue stick and put it all together.

I love how it turned out. I managed to fill it up using mostly the magazines I intuitively selected for this purpose. I did print out a picture of Josh Radnor because I think he is the bomb and if I can call him in in 2019, then I will know I have truly stepped in to my spiritual power.  It also includes a washing machine with a portal to an “other world” (score for intuitively selecting a magazine that had that image in it!)

Would my vision board have been this awesome if I had not shut off all media which gave me extra hours to hunker down and do it? Who knows? Will it be more powerful because I created it in solitude on the new moon in Aquarius?  How could it not be?  We can circle back at the end of the year to see how much I end up manifesting for myself in 2019.  (If I call in Josh Radnor, you will hear about it way before then.)

In some ways, the “media deprivation” was like a week-long meditation. I paid attention every time I would normally pick up my phone and didn’t. I paid attention every time I thought I should take a picture to share on Instagram and didn’t. I stopped thinking about cool hash tags for my life, and just experienced it.

I felt like I was in a bubble of silence. Even when I was with people, it felt like I was in seclusion because I have become so used to this other layer of digital connection. I didn’t really miss the news or TV or podcasts or reading books.  But I missed the connection to my extended community. As an introvert, it would exhaust me to physically interact with lots of people all the time. But I like knowing what people are up to from a distance and I like them knowing what I am up to. But I also really liked the quiet of stepping away from it all.

The intent was to encourage you to tune in to your thoughts. I am not a person who runs away from my thoughts. I am a person who is more in my head that I should be. I personally think I need a mix of being alone with my own thoughts and being inspired by other people’s ideas to be creative. That was a key learning for me this week. I can do without the junk that fills my brain like empty calories, but the real quality stuff that I consume enhances my life, and my creativity. 

My week is up.  I have made it thought seven days, but I find myself resisting turning it all back on. I have this image in my mind of emerging from a dark cave in to a bright sunny day and the light is so overwhelming that you have to block your eyes from the sun.

I will ease my way back in to it with sunglasses on and try to continue with LESS of it all (especially those empty calories!) Perhaps a weekly re-set is in order to remind of the beauty of this silence.

I highly recommend this detox for everyone. It’s hard core, but you will learn something about yourself if you dive in and give it a shot. I promise!

My Imaginary Life as a Painter

This week, I started the The Artists Way, and one of my first assignments was called “Imaginary Lives”. Part 1 of this exercise was to think of five imaginary lives. What would I do (career wise) if I was not doing what I do now?

The first things that came to my mind were:

  • Pop singer
  • Astrologist
  • Writer
  • Painter
  • Vegetable Farmer

The vegetable farmer is weird, I know. I have always thought that maybe in a past life, I was a vegetable farmer. I get up early and go to bed early, like a farmer, even though I live in the city that never sleeps. I love vegetables and I am not a huge fan of animals. I am not sure if I really want to GROW vegetables, but this popped in to my head so on a subconscious level, maybe I do!

Part 2 of this exercise was to actually DO something related to one of these lives during the week. At first I thought I had to do ALL of them and I was like F&^*!!! I don’t have time for that. But just one, I thought I could manage.

I thought about corralling someone to go sing karaoke with me but I had a super busy week so I just couldn’t swing it.

Astrologer and writer were too easy because I am already doing both of those on a regular basis. (I know I haven’t written much about astrology yet, but I will!)

Painter came to mind because I had just seen a movie where a woman was painting and I thought “that looks like such a relaxing way to spend the day.” Growing up, I used to do paint-by-numbers all the time. I liked it because it had structure to it (open this paint color and paint where you see this number) but was also kind of creative. But paint-by-numbers take a really long time. You have to paint one color at a time and wait for it to dry. Its a process. (I should also note that my mother was a painter. I don’t remember her being particularly relaxed or un-relaxed about it but she made the most beautiful paintings. They far surpassed my paint-by-numbers of course, but she never rubbed my nose in it. Thanks mom!)

The plan at this point was to either paint or buy a plant.

I googled “tiny paint-by-number” and I found this! A super tiny Bob Ross paint by numbers kit. Score!!!! (This box fits in my hand. It’s tiny.)

The website said was in stock at my local Barnes & Noble so I ran out in the freezing cold to pick it up. If you haven’t been to an actual bookstore recently, you might not remember how hard it is to find something there. It is A LOT easier to order stuff online. But, I like to “buy local” when I can, and I was in a rush. I stopped at three information booths that steered me in the wrong direction. When I asked guy #4 at Barnes & Noble, he told me that he had wanted a Bob Ross bobblehead, and although he knew it was in stock, even HE could not find it in the store, so he ordered it on-line. (True story). BUT since his personal failed quest, he had one more idea of a place he hadn’t checked, and we found it. If you want one (and after you see how amazing mine turned out, you might), check the “spinner” near the check out isle at your local Barnes & Noble. (You’re welcome.)

Below, you can see all of the supplies that come with the “Bob Ross by the Numbers” kit: three super tiny “canvases”, paint, a brush, instructions, and an easel (to display your art on your desk when its finished).

When I read the instructions, I learned that I was going to ,have to mix my own colors. I panicked a little bit. This was supposed to be an easy, quick slam dunk. I was tired and had a headache and that just seemed hard. But I always do my homework and as one of my inspirational heroes Glennon Doyle says “we can do hard things”, so I pressed on.

My first attempt was the actual picture of Bob Ross painting. I did have some issues with the color mixing (Bob’s hair should be a little darker and the sky should be a little lighter) but it’s not too bad, it really WAS relaxing!

I was pretty sure I could so better so I took on one more painting (and miraculously my headache was gone!) I think painting #2 is kind of a masterpiece, don’t you think? Have you ever seen a more beautiful 3 inch by 2 inch painting? Are you not impressed with the dark and light purples I had to mix on my own using blue, red, and white? And what about the various shades of green? FYI, I learned from experience that to get dark green, you should mix in dark blue, not black. (Again, you are welcome for all of the knowledge I am sharing with you today.)

I am definitely happy that I went the extra mile to complete my assignment this week. I may seem like a small thing (no pun intended), but it felt so good to tune out and use my brain in a different way for a few hours. I had a long list of stuff I wanted to do this weekend, but I made the time for this creative endeavor and it was relaxing and fun! I impressed myself with my creative skills, and I think mixing my own colors counts as leaving my paint-by-number comfort zone, for sure.

The bonus of this activity was that it killed two birds with one stone. As part of the Artists Way, I also have to do an artist date every week. An artists date is “a block of time where you are committed to nurturing your creative consciousness.” Done and done. I do like to be efficient!

My Year of Creativity is off to a great start!

2019: The Year of…..

I decided to keep it simple this year.  I am going with a one-word theme.

I debated setting another goal to do a set number of specific things and was (of course) obsessing over how many things and what exactly those things would be. And then last week, the idea of having a one-word theme was presented to me.

This is not a new idea, but it was a new idea to me and I loved it because it was simple. And I don’t want to keep doing the same old “new” things. I need to innovate!

And…..I already knew what my word would be.

I had been thinking a lot about what I wanted to focus on in 2019.  I want writing to be a big part of it, but I have other ideas.  I recently realized that I have a lot of ideas that I don’t pursue. I let them float through my head while I am busy checking off meaningless stuff on my to do list and I often just forget about them.  Or sometimes they keep coming back to me and I make excuses not to pursue them.  Then I sit around saying “I don’t know what I want to do with my life and I have no ideas.” Sigh.

At the end of 2017, I read Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I loved that book and its been milling around in the back of my mind with all of those ideas. The story from the book that stayed with me most vividly was one she told about this glimmer of an idea she had that she wanted a garden. And she didn’t just dismiss it (like I have many times with the plant wall I keep thinking about) but she ran with it. Then she got interested in learning about the flowers and she ran with that!  And THAT turned in to a book.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.  The hunt to uncover those jewels – that’s creative living.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

This idea of following your curiosity, reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, I have loved Alice in Wonderland since I was a little girl. Now I realize she has been calling me to follow my curiosity and uncover the hidden jewels.

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”  – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

Yes!!!!  I want to find those treasures and create amazing things because it will be fun!!!  (Extra bonus points if I can inspire other people to do the same!!)

I recently stumbled on the Big Magic podcast and listened to the Brene Brown episode.  She basically told me that I have no choice but to start creating more things. Here is what Brene said to me last week while I was walking around the East Village:

“The only unique contribution we make in this world will be born of creativity.”

“Creativity is soul work. It’s not about what we do, it’s about who we are.”

So yeah, I gotta get on this.

First, I must start writing down the ideas that come to my head so I don’t forget them. Then I need to take inspired action on the ones that speak to me the loudest. Then I will start creating things. Some of those things I will share, and some will just be for me. Some of those things will be writing and some of them will be other cool stuff.  Some of it might not end up being that cool or important, and that’s OK.

“You are not required to save the world with your creativity.”  –– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

In case you have not figured it out yet, my word for 2019 is CREATIVITY. 

I am going to follow my curiosity and create things out of the ideas that I am no longer going to ignore.  I am not going to do a specific number of things. I am just going to do stuff. Maybe it will be one HUGE creative project and maybe it will be 100.  Who knows? Did Alice have any idea what she was getting in to?

I am going to kick the year off with the The Artist’s Way.  For those who are not in the know, The Artist’s Way, is a “12-week program of exercises and explorations to loosen up one’s artistic self.” (My creativity hero, Elizabeth Gilbert, is a huge fan)

I am on my way to being loose and even MORE artistic!

Welcome to my #YearofCreativity.  Let’s see how this goes!

PS: The artwork above is a print I bought on Amazon from Lone Star Art.

Wardrobe Upgrade

I hate shopping for clothes.  I don’t need a Kardashian closet of clothes, but when I leave my apartment, I want to feel good in what I am wearing.  I have been working from home a lot the past few years so I have spent most of my time in yoga pants and t-shirts while the rest of my wardrobe has not gotten much attention. Every time I opened my closet recently, I have been faced with stuff I didn’t like any more or didn’t really fit right or I was just tired of wearing.

With everything else going on in the world right now, this is clearly not a REAL problem. But when you are trying to push yourself to spend more time out in the world, it helps if you can feel amazing when you walk out the door.

On my pilgrimage to the UK, I met a woman who was starting a business helping people clear out their closets and fill them with clothes they actually love.  I was tempted to work with her but it seemed extravagant to hire someone to help me buy clothes. But when I talked with Chris more about what she does, I realized it was so much more than just “going shopping.” I really loved the idea of how she “curates closets” so I signed on as a client.  And here is how it went….

We started with a creative process to understand what I like and how I want to feel in my clothes. I filled out a questionnaire with questions like “What images come to mind that represent how you want to feel in my clothes”, “Who are your style icons?”, “What are your favorite body parts”?  Chris used the questionnaire to pull together images from the internet of my style icons in outfits that might interest me. I was initially skeptical about this questionnaire, but it was really amazing to see how Chris used those answers to bring wardrobe ideas to life! (See below!!) Chris is a professional costume designer and wardrobe stylist. She has spent years designing and shopping for TV and movie characters.  For her personal clients she is dressing them for the part they most want to play – their true, authentic and best selves.  (My style icons were used as examples, but the end result was a mix that is uniquely me.)

Style Icons

We went through the images and some were spot on and a few were rejected. As you can see illustrated above, my style icons are Jennifer Aniston and Gloria Steinham (classic, simple, and on trend) with just a touch of Cher (sexy and sparkly).  Chris came over for our second session with a story board of my style icons and lots of inspiration for cool clothes that I would love to own.  We used it as our starting point for shopping, but now I also have this beautiful style book that I can refer to when I shop in the future.

Step two of the process was closet clearing.  We took a full day and I tried on every single piece of clothing that I own. We decided what to keep and what to donate. If I wasn’t sure what I wanted to keep or toss, Chris would point out my body language and expression and help me make the right choice. We ended up with three bags of clothes and shoes to donate.  There was also some Reiki thrown in because Chris is one of my new spiritual friends. (This part is completely optional but highly recommended.)

The other amazing thing that happened when we went through my closet is that Chris helped me alter quite a few things that I was not wearing because they did just didn’t fit right.  Chris fitted them for me on the spot (with my collection of safety pins I never thought I would use) so all I had to do was drop them off and tell the tailor to make the changes.  She fixed another dress with double sided tape and removed buttons on a sweater that we decided would  better off without them.  We found combinations of things I would not have thought to wear together and identified some simple things to buy that would fix some other wardrobe issues (like this amazing body suit from Free People that I can now wear under three different tops that I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have the right thing to wear under them! See results below.)

Body Suit

And this was all before we even spent one day shopping!

Next up was our first shopping trip just to explore what could be fun and help me think out of the wardrobe box!  We went to a popular thrift store in NYC, not with the intent to actually BUY anything but try things on and maybe bring out my Cher  side! It worked!  We had a lot of fun and I unexpectedly came home with this crazy rainbow unicorn dress.  I am not sure where or when I will wear it but I love it and I am sure Cher would too (and it only cost $16.)

Rainbow Unicorn

We had three more sessions of hard core shopping.  Shopping with Chris was a lot more fun than shopping by myself.  She loves the thrill of the hunt so she went through the racks looking for things that aligned to our storyboard and our list of what I needed to compliment what I already have.  I just followed her around and said…yes, no, maybe?  She encouraged me to try things on I might not otherwise try and gave honest feedback on what worked and what didn’t.  She was incredibly patient with me as I analyzed the pros and cons of every piece. Can I wear it with multiple different things? Is it comfortable? Do I have somewhere to wear it? Do I really like it?  Will I like it in a few months? Will I be hot? Do I have something to layer it with? (this is what its like to be in my head on a shopping trip!)

I ended up with so many beautiful things that I never would have taken the time to find on my own (see a sub-set below.) I learned which floor to hit at Bloomingdale’s on future solo shopping trips.  I have at least one wardrobe piece that reminds me of each of my style icons.  I donated a ton of stuff that someone else will wear and love and will no longer sit in my closet unused.  I fixed a bunch of wardrobe issues with clothes I already own. And I can no longer use the excuse that I don’t have anything to wear to keep me from leaving my house.

Wardrobe Upgrade 2

We all want to feel good and look good.  When I am wearing something that makes me feel amazing I give off a different energy than when I am wearing something that makes me feel blah.  I am more likely to smile at strangers and send out positive vibes which contributes to a more positive world.  This is why Chris does the work she does (she says it much more eloquently than I do) and why I decided I wanted her to help me upgrade my wardrobe.  And I am very happy that I did!

If you live in NYC and need a wardrobe overhaul and want some help to make that happen, I highly recommend getting your closed curated by my friend Chris Rumery!  (Find her at


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….


All The Retrogrades

It’s been a minute, I know!  It’s soooooo hard to find time to write! But here I am! Let me catch you up….

Right after I got back from the UK, one of my employees resigned and my already heavy workload doubled in the job that is not my life’s purpose #bummer (I think in hashtags now, blame Instagram.)

BUT, I still moved forward with gusto to help some of my fellow pilgrims/heroes/spiritual creative friends with projects so I could learn more about what they need and how I can help them.

I gave my friend Maryanne some social media coaching, and she is doing great with  beautiful posts about her work as a Gyrotonics and Gyrokinesis instructor!  (FYI she happens to be teaching a 40 day online course. If you are looking for a morning movement and breath practice with an amazing teacher find her on Instagram and she will hook you up!)

I helped my friend Kim get her website cleaned up and get a page posted for her upcoming Soul Deep Retreat. I learned that building websites in WordPress is fun, but very time consuming!  Helping creative & spiritual entrepreneurs with systems related stuff feels like the right move, but websites might have to be outsourced or kept very simple. Good learning.  Another side note…if you have any interest in Shamanism, want an astrology reading, or to get more deeply connected to your soul and change some recurring patterns in your life, reach out to Kim! I have done a couple of sessions with her myself that have been very eye opening (more on that later) and I just love her.

I also helped my friend Chris set up her Acuity scheduling system so she can have her clients automatically schedule time with her.  Chris is a costume designer/stylist launching a business to help people clear out their closets and fill them back up with clothes that make them happy! How amazing is that! Chris is a talented artist and a beautiful soul. (I love my new friends!) If you have some closets that need clearing or some styling needs, Chris is taking on new clients this fall! You can find her here on Instagram.

In the middle of all of that excitement, I got sick. My bi-annual sinus infection reared its ugly head and it lasted for weeks!  My body was clearly trying to send me a message and I think it might have been…

“Starting your own business is too scary! Stay where it is safe and you know you will succeed and have a steady paycheck. Stop all of this side hustle shit.”

I also just completely melted down emotionally, and had all kinds of doubts about everything and there were a lot of tears and thoughts like this…What have I gotten myself in to? Can I really have my own business? How can I work on this and do my full time job? Why can’t I connect with my spirit guides and see my past lives like everyone else? Why won’t my crystal talk to me?!  Why isn’t the Reiki working!? What am I doing!!! Is this all bull shit? 

Good times.

But ALSO during all of this, I was exposed to Astrology!!!!!! This completely deserves its own post (and there might be many because I am kind of obsessed at the moment.) What I will say now, is that we are apparently in the middle of a very crazy astrological time. Its eclipse season, both mercury and mars are in retrograde, and Uranus moves in to retrograde soon.  I had no idea what any of this meant before two weeks ago (and I still don’t really but now I talk like this!) Is it real? Is it not real? Well, it made me feel better to know that, possibly, planetary alignments could be contributing to me feeling like shit because planets keep moving so there might be an end! You tell me if you have been feeling any of this in the past few weeks?

In simple terms, this astrology feels like an explosion with an earthquake thrown in for good measure. Eclipses pull up shadows and things we wanted to keep hidden. Mercury retrograde tries to trick us in to making mistakes so we can learn from them. Mars retrograde demands that we make our anger, potency, and power conscious so that we might use it wisely instead of destructively. Uranus demands change. (Source: Chani Nichols)

I can’t exactly tell you when it will let up (because I don’t really know what I am talking about yet) BUT the final eclipse is on August 11th so this could be good news!

There was also a shamanic journeying sessions that I am still processing (wow!) and I learned about my energy centers of training which I need to tell you about did some shadow fear work and some Ho’oponopono meditation.  Its been a lot of stuff!

When I thought about sitting down to write this post, I thought what would come out was…”Yeah, I’ve been working a lot and I got sick and was miserable”, but now that I am at the end of the post, I realize that I have been working on and moving through a lot of stuff. This is why I should write more!!

I will be back soon….I promise!


Radical Presence and Poetry

As part of my pilgrimage to the UK, we took a poetry and movement course called Embodying the Line. Like the rest of the pilgrimage, I had no idea what to expect but since I like writing and moving, I was pretty sure it would be cool. It was.

The course took place at Schumacher College where the focus is on “interactive and experiential learning” based on “progressive forms of education, art and agriculture,” which is exactly what we experienced.  All of the food we ate was grown on the land (all vegetarian and I survived for five days with no meat!!) We were surrounded by beautiful hippies who were exploring community and agriculture and taking courses like “Natural Magic” and “Dragon Dreaming.”  Schumacher sits in the middle of the Dartington Hall estate which was has the most beautiful gardens and vortex trees. Just an amazing place.

This poetry and movement course was not your average poetry and movement course (if another one even exists, which it probably doesn’t). It was a very unique experience for me to be in a completely creative endeavor for an entire week.  At my engineering school we had required liberal arts electives and I dabbled in the absolute minimum amount of arts education possible.

Our instructors Allison Hallett, a very cool poet from the UK, and Deborah Black, a fabulous “multi-disciplined embodied artist and teacher” (and a fellow hero/pilgrim!) were so much fun and are truly amazing artists.  We did the coolest exercises to spark our creativity, create poetry, and get in touch with our bodies. Here are some examples:

  • We spent 40 minutes in an open lawn, “investigating” whatever grabbed our attention (flowers,trees, benches, snails, grass, clouds) until the next thing grabbed our attention and we moved to that.  Later, we wrote a love letter to the thing we loved the most in that field.  I wrote a love letter to this super cool tree.
  • We went on a walk in the woods with a partner and dictated what we saw. One partner told the truth for a few minutes and then we switched and the other partner told lies (like, there is candy corn growing on the trees.) Then we looked for as many lines as we could find and had to write three poems, in the shape of three of the lines, and inspired by the stories. (Mind blowing, right?)
  • Half of the group closed their eyes and moved in whatever way inspired them in the middle of the room while the other half observed and reported back after the session. (Writing that now, it sounds like a scene from Eyes Wide Shut, but it wasn’t! It was like watching a completely non-sexual performance art piece – it was beautiful.)
  • We wrote a poem, cut up each line on a separate strip of paper and pasted it back together in a random order and read it back out loud.  Many of them were even BETTER in a totally mixed up order. Poetry can be so cool! (I never thought that is something I would say!)

We just had a great time writing cool stuff, exploring nature, and sharing our work with each other. It was a very special week.

Since one of my purposes is to write and inspire, I thought I should share one of my poems with you and maybe it will inspire you to write a poem! This is what came out of my brain after staring at some pink and purple flowers for 5-10 minutes after looking at pictures of my adorable nieces and nephew on my phone.  It is not a masterpiece, but it might be the closest thing to a children’s book I will ever write. It starts out kind of deep, comparing flowers to people, but then morphs in to a dance party! Maybe it will inspire you to dance! Enjoy!

Ode to Pink and Purple Flowers

Light, small flowers bunched together on top of deep green clover shaped leaves,

Reminding me of young girls and their flowy pink dresses and tutus.

The sun giving them life and the earth nourishing their roots,

Like parents giving stability and love to children.

Bees create a community of flowers between buds that don’t touch,

Passing pollen from one flower to the next.

Mushrooms grow beneath the deep green leaves;

Toadstools for tiny frogs that live in the land below the flowers.

Even tinier ants crawl on the tiny mushrooms and up the stems of the flowers, joining the bees for a huge party.

The frogs leap up and try to join, but they can only get that high when a hedge hog passes by and they can jump on top.

Then the party really gets rockin’ with the ants and the bees and the tiny frogs and the hedge hogs,

All hanging out around the beautiful pink and purple flowers.

They like to listen to Elton John when they party;

Tiny Dancer of course.

The frogs do ballet while the ants tap dance and the bees do hip hop.

The hedge hogs don’t like to dance, but they sway because they love Elton John.

Then the sun starts to go down and it gets cold.

The bees go back to their hive.

The ants climb down from the flowers, back in to their ant holes to sleep.

The frogs leap down from the hedge hogs and climb under the tiny mushrooms to settle in for the night.

I’m not sure where hedge hogs sleep.

In a barn I think, when they can find one,

Deep in the woods, cuddled up together until its time to go out and party again!