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?
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!!
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!
I have been home for a little over a week. The jet lag has faded and I am back to real life. I am falling back in to the rhythm of my just OK and not AMAZING life. Old patterns and feelings are creeping back in.
I still have so many questions! How can I keep moving and growing while living my day to day life? How can I ignite the flame of the sparks of spiritual connections I made in the UK? What the hell kind of business am I supposed to start? There are not enough hours in the day. In my free moments, I can’t decide whether to write or research or get in my move calories or meditate or do Rieki!! Then I have to plan healthy meals, get in my 8 hours of beauty sleep, and keep doing my day job. I have accumulated so many books on my Kindle but I am not reading them!! (I guess I need to prioritize the one on Slip Stream Time Hacking!)
What is the right balance of taking care of yourself and pushing yourself to keep growing?
I was planning to write about the poetry and movement course but that is not how I am feeling today. Today I am feeling a little paralyzed and overwhelmed and not sure what to do next. The Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) are setting in. I have withdrawal from being surrounded by the people I became so close to. I am back in my solo life that requires effort to engage with other people (not my forte) and will power to NOT engage with the wrong people (also not my forte).
My life is not all new things and adventures. There is a lot of this FUD mixed in. My life is not my social media feed. Keeping up that level of excitement is against my nature (or at least my current vibration.) I have to fight hard to break the downward spiral that can set in. On days like today I try to start with one thing that will move me in the right direction.
No, actually, what I do first is give myself a little bit of time to feel what I am feeling. I acknowledge that what I am trying to do (live my biggest and best life and elevate my vibration) is hard and I let myself have an internal temper-tantrum.
I did the work! I went on the pilgrimage! Can’t it be all fixed now? Why can’t I make decisions more easily ? Why is the path still not clear? How can I still get distracted by things and people that are not best for my greatest and highest good? I released my fears in to a sacred spring. And then I burned them in the fireplace of a 700 year old manor! I plunged naked in to a freezing cold healing pool to purify myself. I have the Universal Life Force Energy flowing through me. AND I have the I have a manifestation wand that lights up! Seriously…what else can I do???!!!!
Well, I am a star soul on a quest for enlightenment. There is more work to do. (More on star souls later, I am still learning!)
After the temper tantrum, I buckle down and make myself do SOMETHING. Just one thing (that I don’t really feel like doing) that will keep me on my trajectory. I can take a walk and listen to an inspiring podcast. I can reach out to connect with other human beings (being careful to stick with the ones that will elevate my vibration.) I can write. I can get my ass to a yoga class (or a dance class)! I can finish that book on Slip Stream Time Hacking! I can make a list of stuff to learn about for my mystery business (I really love lists. Can start a business that is all about lists?).
My inspirational advice for today?
Get perspective. Practice self love. Do just one thing, which will turn in to one more thing….Keep moving.
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.
“Energy healing is a holistic practice that activates the body’s subtle energy systems to remove blocks. By breaking through these energetic blocks, the body’s inherent ability to heal itself is stimulated.”
Reiki, Acupuncture, and Reflexology are all examples of energy work. Our focus was on Reiki. The energetic blocks and healing can be physical or psychological. Everything is energy. Even the thoughts in our mind!! This energy work is intended to help us release the things that don’t serve us and replace them with energetic things that DO serve us. When this happens we vibrate at a higher frequency and generally kick ass in life!
The actual pilgrimage started in Glastonbury (a magical new age community with ties to Christian and Arthurian legends). After a few days in Glastonbury (which felt like a lifetime), we went to Schumacher College for a five day poetry and movement course (which was amazing!). We spent our last five days at the 700 year old Sheldon Manor (an Airbnb that has its own Wikipedia Page!). I won’t list every place we visited, or this post will be longer than the Bible, but you can check out the pictures on my Instagram feed if you are so inclined.
Our days were a combination of energy work, writing, meditating, soul searching exercises, movement, visiting sacred sites, and participating 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.
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?
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!!!
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
Buy purple converse sneakers
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….
We are four+ months in to the year AFTER I did 100 New Things in 2017. 100 new things was a lot. At the end of the year, I was feeling like I needed a less ambitious goal for 2018. I wanted to go deeper instead of broader. I set a new goal to do 18 new things in 2018 that aligned with things I wanted more of in my life: Fun, Creativity, Connection, Nature, and Meaning. 18 was inspired by the Hebrew word Chai which represents life (and is made up of the the 10th and 8th letters of the Hebrew alphabet…hence 18) AND coincidentally it was 2018.
I basically came up with a bunch of marketing “spin” to convince myself that it was OK to back off a little bit and slow down my transformation in to a person who has a bigger life.
I soon regretted that decision. Without the motivation of a measured goal and the accountability of the internet, I slipped back in to my old routines of not doing a whole lot. I also happened to get more responsibilities at work which is my go-to excuse for not living life.
I am also such a literal person that I found myself not doing things if they did not meet any of the criteria. What’s the point of going to a yoga class if I have been to that studio before? Does sound meditation count as meaning? Should I bother? I debated changing the plan or the rules then talked myself out of that. I could self motivate to do MORE than 18 new things and I decide what counts as my 5 things. It’s my game. I get to choose the the hashtags. (I did add in a 6th category for things that do not meet any of the five criteria but they take me out of my comfort zone. But then I didn’t leave my comfort zone…at least not yet!)
I have actually done 12 new things so I am ahead of schedule on my much less ambitious goal. (Woo Hoo!) I have finally added these 12 things to 100 New Things Tab (which is now just called New Things). Looking back on the 12 now, they were not to shabby.
But my next adventure is about to unfold! I am stepping it way up, and going deep in all the five things!
In December last year (at 2017 new thing #96 Mama Gena’s Womanly Arts Experience ), I met a very cool woman named Sophia (also known as Lobsterbird). Sophia takes creative entrepreneurs on pilgrimages to help them find the work they are meant to do. This was obviously interesting to me because as you might be aware (if you have known me for more than 5 minutes or have read any of my blog) that I know I am meant to be doing more…but I don’t know exactly what! Sophia and I connected on Facebook and I loved her first book and podcast, but it did not occur to me to work with her myself. She is an artist, healer and coach who works with artists, healers, and coaches. I am not a creative entrepreneur. I am a business woman who sometimes blogs and sometimes colors in her adult coloring book (I am really good at that though!)
Apparently the universe had plans for us. Did I mention that Sophia is an energy healer (among many other things) and the universe talks to her? It might have tried to talk to me too, but I wasn’t listening, so it reached out to her. She said I kept coming up in her mind as she was planning her next pilgrimage. She remembered me mentioning that I am supposed to be doing MORE but I don’t know what. We met up in NYC at 2018 new thing #10 (a Marianne Williamson lecture on A Course in Miracles – which was pretty cool). We walked around Madison Square Park and chatted for about 20 minutes and I just knew this was something I had to do. It covered all 5 of the things I want to add more of in my life: #fun, #creativity, #connection, #meaning, and #nature (plus the #6 bonus of “out of my comfort zone”) so how could I NOT do it!! I had almost no information (pilgrimages are hard to explain I guess) but I also knew this would be an experience like no other and an opportunity I could not pass up.
So….this Thursday, I leave for the UK with 11 amazing women on a pilgrimage to find my life’s purpose. I do know a little bit more than I did then but not much! I know I will be traveling with some amazing artists and entrepreneurs and visiting magical places (Glastonbury, Dartmoor, and some other mystery locations that I think include Stonehenge). I will get my Akashic Records read (I had to Google that) and attend a workshop on writing, movement, and radical presence (details here).
The journey really began a month ago when we started pre-pilgrimage soul searching with “fun sheets”, a video course, weekly group calls, and even Skype Reiki (a new thing I have not counted yet!)
I won’t do a deep dive on the pre-work but I can tell you that three ideas for my “life purpose” have already been proposed and squashed. A couple of weeks ago, my head was here…“I feel a responsibility to save the world but I also resent that responsibility and want to tell everyone to fuck off so I can just go have fun”. Then I went out and bought magic notebooks and had a kale margarita and felt a lot better. Then I let go of the idea that I have to save the world. Whatever work I am put on this planet to do will be FUN!!!! It will make me feel joyful, inspired, and connected. And then, because I genuinely want to help people, that will happen. Not out of obligation, but out of inspiration. That’s where I am at now.
On Thursday, I leave for two weeks of fun, creativity, connection, nature, meaning, and magic that will take me outside of my comfort zone! Maybe I will come back a changed woman, or maybe I will come back the same woman who has had a really cool experience. What I do know, is that I will knock out 6 more new things and it will be time to “level up” the rest of 2018!
(Level Up happens to be the name of Sophia’s new book which is pretty cool and talks about her work and the women she led on her first pilgrimage earlier this year. If you are curious, check it out!)
I liked what Jared had to say and thought his Touchpoint events sounded really cool…and also really scary. In case you were too lazy to click the links or read the article:
Touchpoint is a town hall where real people share stories from their love and sex lives.
I found this idea fascinating. I don’t have many friends who are having sex on a regular basis and/or want to talk about it. And its not always comfortable to talk about sex with your friends, but we should talk about it! Sex happens. Most of us are doing it or want to do it. And whether we do or we don’t (and how it goes if we do) has a big impact on how we feel physically and emotionally.
When I found out that these events are held in NYC every month, I added this to my “New Things in 2017” bucket list but it didn’t happen in 2017. Yeah, I think we SHOULD all talk about sex, but the idea of doing it is intimidating. I don’t enjoy saying ANYTHING to a room full of strangers and talking about sex in a room full of strangers would definitely be a first. I was also pretty sure I would be the oldest person there. Its hard to find group events (when I am not trying desperately to avoid them) where I don’t feel a lot older (or sometimes a lot younger) than everyone else. I am like Goldilocks in the Big City.
After stalking Touchpoint on Instagram for six months, I saw that “casual sex” was on the agenda for March which definitely piqued my interest. As a single woman dating in NYC in the 2010’s, its hard to avoid the topic of casual sex. In the age of dating apps, there is a perception that people can very easily “hook up” on-demand and that they do it, and like it (and that many prefer it to relationships). This is not my experience or the the experience of any single women I know, but it is the experience of many men who have come in to my life through dating apps. I was very curious to hear more perspectives on this topic. I was also missing doing new things (since I slowed down my pace this year) and my schedule was free!
So, last Tuesday I showed up at The Assemblage in Nomad ready to learn more (and possibly talk) about casual sex.
The Assemblage is a “coworking and coliving space that aims to nurture community and ignite consciousness and collaboration.”
I can tell you that the space is beautiful. Every person I saw there was beautiful (and probably 20 or 30 something). And it smelled amazing (like really awesome incense that is not too overpowering.) WeWork is cool, but The Assemblage is cooler.
I can also confirm the the director of vibes (as mentioned in the article) kicks ass at her/his job. The room where Touchpoint met had candles and pillows and feathers and an overall great vibe. It was a good mix of genders and races and most of them were very attractive.
As we entered the room, we were asked to take off our shoes and handed a card with four questions about casual sex to help frame the discussion. This card is part of a full deck that people can soon buy to encourage conversations among themselves on the topic of sex. I have to say that Jared is a great marketer and business man. He got 100 people to pay $30-$40 each to sit in a room for 2 hours (30 minutes of that time just waiting) and listen to less than 10 people tell stories about their sex lives. And now he is going to monetize his concept with cards. Nice work.
We did have to wait a very long time on our comfy pillows before things got started. I said hello to the women sitting on either side of me who had both been to Touchpoint events before and found them “very inspiring”. (That was the only talking I did all evening).
Things kicked off with some very cool drumming and African chanting followed by a beautiful rendition of Adele’s “To Feel My Love”. Off to a great start.
Then Jared opened it up, gave the backstory of Touchpoint (read the article if you want to know) and outlined the four rules of the evening that are also four rules of great sex (which was funny and also true). I can’t remember exactly what they were but they were something like this.
Its not all about you
Everyone should be allowed to finish
Something about listening?
What is said at Touchpoint stays at Touchpoint (I am pretty sure this was #4)
Although there is a rule about things staying at Touchpoint, this event was also recorded for the first ever Touchpoint podcast! I will summarize for you without revealing anyone’s identity (not that I know who any of these people are) and you can also listen to the WHOLE thing on iTunes as soon as the podcast is released here.
There were a few people selected ahead of time to tell their stories so we started with those. We heard from a woman who had casual sex with a younger man at a college alumni weekend a year after a traumatic breakup. Then an agender man told us about his casual sex experience with a hot cop he went to high school with and ran in to on the streets of Newark. Finally, the very nice bi-sexual woman sitting next to me (surprise!) told her story about how she and her awesome, hot boyfriend (that she met on Tinder) had a threesome with a stripper in Florida (her idea). It was a long story but a good one!
After each person spoke, Jared asked them if he had permission to ask them questions (a little dramatic but intended to drill home the importance of consent). Then he asked them a couple of questions and we moved on. The questions were not very deep, but there was a time constraint. There were 100 people there and I am sure he wanted to give as many people as possible time to speak.
We heard from a few more people who had mostly great casual sex experiences. A couple of people (men, actually) talked about exploring casual sex after assault or to help improve body image, but in general the theme was that casual sex was empowering and fun. The very last person to speak was a woman who said that she always has emotional expectations when she has sex with someone and she found it very hard to believe that she was the only one who felt this way. Jared responded by saying “I say this with love…” and then went on to tell her she should “listen” and not assume that everyone’s experience was the same as hers. To me, it felt like she was being scolded.
I get it. He is selling a safe space where people can feel free to talk about whatever their experiences are and not feel judged. So if you say your sex was fun, it was fun. But what if your experience is that you don’t want to go to sex parties, or pick up strippers (or cops) and that casual sex leaves you feeling empty? That perspective was not shared at all and this was the perfect opportunity to go there. He didn’t take it. I might be projecting my own thoughts on to that exchange, so I look forward to listening to it back on the podcast and re-assessing, but it left me with a bad feeling.
In the end, I did not come away with great insights on how people feel about casual sex overall but I heard some interesting stories. As much as I dread events where you have to “turn to the person next to you” and say anything, this event could go deeper if it there was some of that “turn to the person next to you.” I am sure everyone in that room had something to say and 90% of them were not comfortable speaking up or needed more time to work their way up to it. We were encouraged to stay and continue the conversation amongst ourselves but it was 10pm by then and I was tired (because I am kind of old). So maybe its on me for not mingling.
I did get confirmation that the generation after me DOES go to sex parties and have threesomes way more than people my age did back in the day. We definitely had “casual sex” in the 80s and 90s (I think we called it “one nighters”) but I remember it being pretty traditional stuff.
So what would I have said if I had the microphone at Touchpoint?
Casual sex is a part of my life because most of the men I am attracted to can only have this kind of sex. Some of that is on me, and some of that is on them. (Sex and attraction is complicated.) When I have the choice between casual sex or no sex, I sometimes choose casual sex. It is not my first choice but sometimes that is all that is on the menu. Some casual sex is more casual than other casual sex. The more connection that I have with someone, the better the sex is, always. I can’t say that casual sex has ever served me in a meaningful way. It is usually fun, but I know it also distracts me from looking for a deeper connection, which is ultimately what I would prefer if it were on the menu (and would also lead to better sex..for me). To date I have not attended any sex parties or had any threesomes but I do not judge (sorry if you read this far and were hoping that was where this would go). I am not sure how fun those would be for me, but who knows what the future holds for Goldilocks in the Big City!
I have an analogy that casual sex is like eating a cookie. Some cookies taste better than others. Sometimes the anticipation of eating the cookie is better than the actual cookie itself. When you are eating the cookie, it might be super delicious but then its over and what do you have to show for it? The sugar and flour cause inflammation (that mysterious condition that is killing us all) AND then you have to put in extra time at the gym to keep looking good so you have have another cookie!!! Because after you have one cookie, you always want another one. And so the cycle continues. I should really be eating more kale.
And that is what I would have shared if I actually had the nerve to raise my hand at Touchpoint. I wonder what Jared would have asked me?
I debated how to carry my “new things” habit in to 2018. I want to keep doing new things and making my life bigger, but I want to be a bit more focused and ensure that I spend my time on activities that enrich my life instead of just checking a box on a to-do list I set for myself.
I thought about not setting a limit and just continuing to do new things and share them with the world and see how far I get. But I could see myself getting lazy with no goal at all. I may have changed the set point of my existence, but have to keep at it or I could slip right back.
My college friend Jennifer, suggested that I do 18 things in 2018. Not just because it is 2018, but because 18 has a special meaning in Judaism. She didn’t tell me what that meaning was (and although I am half Jewish, I didn’t know) but I was intrigued.
I did a little research and learned that 18 is universally synonymous with the Hebrew word Chai and that Chai is the Hebrew word for life! (The Jewish toast L’Chaim! means “to life!) Chai does not refer to just any life. Judaism emphasizes the importance of living a good, ethical life and enjoying this time we have on earth. That is EXACTLY what I am trying to do more of with my new things habit. Especially with the additional twist I want to add that will help me focus on quality over quantity.
Someone recently asked me what I need more of in my life. I came up with these five things which are my intentions for 2018. (I think you are only supposed to have one intention, but I have a lot I want to accomplish!)
So I have decided to do at least 18 new things in 2018 and that each new thing has to involve at least ONE of my five intentions for the year. This will help me stay focused on what I want my life to be with an achievable goal that will still require some work. (If I find a new thing that covers all five, then I will win the life lottery for sure!)
I kicked things off on New Years Day with a helicopter tour of NYC. This was a gift given to me by my former team when I left my old job. They gave it to me because they knew I was doing 100 new things in 2017. It was a very thoughtful gift, but they were not aware that I get motion sickness pretty easily.
This was originally going to be my #100 of 2017 but I didn’t schedule it in time, so it ended up being #1 for 2018. Not only was I afraid of getting sick, I was afraid of dying (and it was about 14 degrees F that day so for sure we would have died if we landed in the river.) As I feared, I was nauseous the whole time (which was thankfully only 20 minutes) and could not wait for it to end. But I lived and I didn’t throw up all over the pilot. I did get some great pictures and I actually looked like I was having fun! I guess the whole adventure was kind of fun. Especially in hindsight, now that it is over (and I never plan to do it again). So this one counts as fun (barely!)
Thanks Jennifer for not only for inspiring three new things in 2017 (#2, #64, #99), but for coming up with a fabulous symbolic goal for 2018!! I plan to keep writing about my new things, and life in general, so follow along and join me on my journey this year…
I have been feeling some pressure to make #100 of my 100 New Things in 2017 amazing. It may surprise you that I did not have #100 planned way in advance. I was waiting to see what would unfold and present itself to me.
I was debating some options last week, when an email rolled in that reminded me of a new thing I kept forgetting to do all year. Or maybe I had been avoiding it?
Some of you may be aware that I am kind of obsessed with Dan Harris. Dan wrote a book called 10% Happier about how he found his way to meditation. He also has a meditation app that I love and a podcast that I listen to religiously. I actually follow him around NYC and show up wherever he is speaking. Seriously, this man has changed my life.
On his podcast earlier this year, Dan mentioned that as part of his loving kindness practice, he started carrying 10 $1 bills with him every week to give to people on the streets of New York who ask for money. When I first moved to NYC, I decide not to give money out to people on the street. I told myself (or maybe I read it somewhere) that giving that money to organizations that help people would be a better use of my funds than handing it out to random people on the street (because who knows what they might use it for). This may or may not be true, but a result of this decision is that I just ignore these people. I sometimes think “that sucks” and keep walking, but most of the time I look right through them. If you live in NYC, you might do the same thing.
When I talk to people about meditation, they say “I can’t do it because I can’t quiet my mind.” I used to say the same thing, but what I have learned (mostly from Dan Harris and the many teachers he has exposed me to), is that meditation is not about quieting the mind, its about paying attention. Paying attention to what is happening in your mind and what is happening around you. It is a powerful practice and I am convinced it can change the world.
What if everyone took the time to smile at someone who looked sad, or took an extra minute to ask someone if they needed help, or gave everyone who needed it a dollar. If everyone did just one of those things, every day, maybe one of those angry people with guns or trucks or bombs would have received just enough love to make a different choice. Or maybe some parent would have just a little bit more energy to give their kid a hug instead of losing their patience. Or maybe some really cold, fucked up person could just get a cup of coffee.
You can’t smile at someone unless you see them. You can’t offer help to someone unless you notice they are hurting. You can’t give someone a $1 unless you notice they are asking for it.
This practice of handing out dollar bills is about paying attention. It’s about seeing people and not looking through them. Its also about seeing and acknowledging their vulnerability and honoring it. Walking past people on the street is easy. Paying attention to them, seeing them, making eye contact, and really connecting to them is hard (comfort zone alert!!)
When I realized this could be a meditation practice that would take me out of my comfort zone and help people I was all in. I decided I would give out $100 as my 100th new thing in 2017.
Then I had an idea to take it to the next level. I decided to write the word Namaste on my 100 dollar bills. Namaste is a Hindu word that directly translated means “the divine in me bows to the divine in you.” I see you and I honor who you are. We are all in this together.
Full disclosure, this Namaste idea was also inspired by a recent viewing of the movie Serendipity where Kate Beckinsale asks John Cusack to write his phone number on five dollar bill and then promptly uses it to buy something and says that if the money comes back to her, she will know they are meant to be together (it does and they end up together – FYI.) Watching TV is not a complete waste of time!
What I also love about the idea of writing on the money, is that I am sending this message out in to the world and if you get one of these dollar bills with a purple Namaste on it, you know where it came from and the spirit behind it. (It did not occur to me to use a more permanent marker than a Crayola so who knows how long the Namastes will last but keep an eye out! I did also confirm that writing on money is not illegal – because I am a rule follower.)
I went to the bank, spoke to an actual teller, got 100 one dollar bills and wrote NAMASTE in purple Crayola marker on all 100 of them. Before I could start handing them out though, the weather turned ridiculously cold. This has made my plan very hard to execute. No one is outside asking for money!!! I walked all over. No one!!
Yesterday, I finally remembered that the subway is place to be when the streets are too cold!! So I jumped on the subway with no destination in mind, lots of dollar bills in my pocket, headphones off, just trying to paying attention.
In Times Square I saw SheShe singing her heart out. SheShe is not homeless, but an artist doing her thing and making people smile. Namaste SheShe!! She got my first namaste dollars.
In Union Square, I faintly heard drumming coming from somewhere and walked toward the sound until I found a young man pounding away on plastic tubs. Namaste drummer boy!
I was totally spaced out waiting for the R train to nowhere and realized there was a man right beside me playing the violin beautifully. Namaste violin man! (It’s the magic moment of meditation when you notice you are not paying attention and get back on track.)
On my way home yesterday, I saw a couple out on the street bundled in blankets with a sign that said “Just trying to have a happy new year. Any little bit helps.” Namaste couple on Irving Place!
I looked every one of them in the eye and gave a small nod and they all nodded back to thank me. I am sure they have no idea that I saw the divine in them, but I did, and I am sure that they are happy I gave them a few dollars.
I won’t finish handing out the $100 until 2018 but I like that this practice will transition me from 2017 to 2018. Next year, I want to focus on more activities that bring meaning to my life and this is a great symbolic start to that journey. (More on that in my next post.)