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. (If you don’t know what a vision board is, read more here.)

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. You can find it here.

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 chrisrumery.com)

 

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.

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Vortex Tree

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:

  • IMG_0110We 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!

Flowers SMALL

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!

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.

Heros Way Abundance Treasure MapOur days were a combination of energy work, writing, meditating, soul searching exercises, movement, visiting sacred sites, and participating 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 in to 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 in to 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.

One 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…..

Actually, I Have a Bigger Purpose….

As it turns out, being a writer is not my purpose, or at least not my whole purpose.

I do love to tell my truth in my own unique voice.

I do love to do new stuff and write about it.

I am on the right path.

And I do have everything I need.

But there is more….

Apparently, my coaches never bought that writing was my purpose. They knew that I was meant for something bigger and that I was playing small.  I knew it, too. But even with all of the purification, obstacle release, energy work, and vibrating at a higher frequency that I have been doing, I still needed a little help to pick up on the signals my higher self was sending me.

On the last hour of the last day of our pilgrimage, my coaches (and their spirit guides) started asking me questions….

How did a corporate executive end up on a pilgrimage with 11 spiritual, creative entrepreneurs?

What if every choice I have made in my life has led me to this moment?

What if the skills that have made me successful in my business career are exactly what creative entrepreneurs need?

What if these creative people I find myself on a pilgrimage with are the people I am supposed to help?

Duh…..

Full disclosure, this idea came up BEFORE I left for the pilgrimage. The voice in my head was telling me that I am supposed to be a bridge between the corporate and creative worlds. I mentioned this in my pre-work and got a homework assignment to go out and ask some visionaries what they need to add structure and process to their business.

I didn’t do it. I got upset and frustrated and made a million excuses for why this could not be my purpose. It felt hard and scary. I don’t know enough. I suck at selling. How could this be a scalable business? I convinced myself that I should just stay in my safe corporate world and buy stuff from creative people and write about it. I told myself that this was how I am supposed to bridge the worlds. I have felt so strongly that I need something more, but maybe I just have to appreciate what I have.  That must be why this voice is telling me that I have everything I need. I don’t need to make a scary move. It’s all good.

But my current life does not make me truly happy. My job is OK but it’s not AMAZING. I want AMAZING!

I have always been drawn to the idea of being an entrepreneur but I had no idea what to DO!!!  I needed a visionary with an idea that I could help them execute. And the idea of being an entrepreneur scared the shit out of me. I am not a risk taker by nature (at least not in this life so far.)

So I was waiting for my visionary to appear and doing what I know how to do and what feels safe. I got a computer science degree because I LOVE solving problems and thinking analytically. I taught school because I want to “save the world” (or at least do my part). I got an MBA because I am pragmatic and like having money and I was on a quest to “find my thing”. I left business school without my thing. Nothing felt exactly right. I did find work that was sometimes fun. I learned that I can pretty much tackle anything that comes my way. And I made some money. But my heart was never in it. I have been safe and secure and traditionally “successful”, but never fully satisfied.

Then I found myself on a trip learning about energy and the fifth dimension and leading with your heart and not fear. I was fascinated by all of it and dove right in.  I have loved spending time with these women and they have big dreams for how they can help the world. And I have something they need and I can help them help the world!!

They are my visionaries! And I found my way to them, with every decision I have made up until this moment.

I still don’t have time to explain everything that has been happening these past two weeks. (Check out my Instagram feed for some highlights.) It has been so special and unique and different than anything I have every done before. I had no idea what was coming but it felt 100% right. All of it.

I have another assignment and this time I am going to do my homework!

Before we leave tomorrow morning, we all have to put our offer out in to the universe and let the world know problem we are going to solve.  Not how, just what.

So instead of telling you that I am going to do 50 new things before I am 50 and then write about them (small!!!), I am telling you that I am going to see what kind of business I can create that will help creative entrepreneurs with the “business stuff” so they focus on giving their creative gifts to the world.  Big!!! Scary!!!  AWESOME.  And I already have at least 5 clients!

I am not quitting my day job (yet). I am going to work with my new creative clients in my free time to see what is possible. That’s it.

I am letting go of needing to know exactly how it will all work out. I will probably freak out the minute we pull out of the English manor that I am writing you from now. But I have a support system in place to help me persevere and REALLY be my biggest and best self.

And I will keep reminding myself of one of my key takeaways from my 100 New Things (with a new twist).  If you think you might want to do something but you’re not sure, ask your higher self. And if she says yes, just fucking do it!!!

And My Purpose Is….

I am currently in England, at a beautiful college in Dartmoor, on a pilgrimage to find my life’s purpose.  On Day 2 of the pilgrimage (which I promise to tell you all about later), we got an assignment to tell our stories about what brought us here and then to share this “coming out story” publicly with the world (or at least our social media audience). All of the other amazing women on my pilgrimage have a business (or one they want to start) and a big part of this journey is to find the power, confidence, and support to take that business to the next level. Still having no potential business in mind, I had to get creative about what my story would be.  But it came to me.  Here is my story.

As I was doing my pre-work and preparing for the trip, a voice inside me (which I have now learned is my “higher self”) told me two things

  1. Buy purple converse sneakers
  2. Write

I listened to the voice and bought the sneakers and wrote the last post which caught you all up on the past few months.  While I was writing that post, and thinking about what led me to this pilgrimage, my inner voice kept thinking about The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and her new friends go in this epic journey to find all of these things they think they don’t have (a heart, a brain, courage, home). They hear that “the wizard” has all the answers and they travel a long distance to find him. They finally make it there, only to learn that they have everything they need.

They have everything they need.

In the craziness of packing and getting myself from NYC to Glastonbury I couldn’t fully process that, but the thought was brewing in my mind.  As I got this assignment, I thought about my journey with this blog. I started this blog to encourage myself to get off my couch and do stuff and then write about it. I loved writing. I didn’t love doing stuff quite as much as I loved writing, but having a goal to write about it, definitely helped me get out there and do stuff.  But it was a constant battle to find time outside of my job.  Eventually I stopped writing all together. I missed it, but did not want to keep writing the same story about the battle I was fighting (and did not feel like I was winning) to make my life bigger.

Then my sister (and my body saying ENOUGH) led me to my “100 New Things in 2017” project, which led me to Sophia (aka Lobsterbird) and eventually back to writing.  I was doing stuff and writing about it…and I loved (almost) all of it.  Strangely, I actually DID stuff before I found my way back to writing about it. Something had shifted! And, as an unexpected side bonus, I was inspiring people!!!

I have everything I need.

It was as clear as day, right in front of my eyes, like the ruby red slippers.

I am writer. I am a writer who likes to do stuff and then write about it.

This is my purpose. To tell my truth in my own unique voice. To write about what I do and what I see and what I feel.  To inspire people with my writing (and my doing).  Where it will go next or beyond this blog, I don’t yet know but I know in my heart that I am on the right path….

Follow the yellow brick road.

This is my story. This is my purpose.