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….

 

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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!

 

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…..

Life After 100 New Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Touchpoint and Casual Sex

Last summer, this article popped up in my Twitter feed “I Talked To 1,400 Strangers About The Intimate Details Of Their Sex Lives. Here’s What I Learned”(I am a sucker for “I did xyz and here is what I learned” articles.)

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.

IMG_9433After 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.

I have to start with The Assemblage itself.

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.

IMG_9451As 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.

  1. Its not all about you
  2. Everyone should be allowed to finish
  3. Something about listening?
  4. 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?

L’Chaim! New Things in 2018

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.

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_8870This 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…

L’Chaim!

 

100 New Things in 2017

Two years ago, my sister sent me copy of a book called I Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day. She had seen the author, Lu Ann Cahn, speak at a work event and thought of me and my ongoing struggle to get unstuck. I read the book immediately and was super excited to take on the challenge. I convinced my sister to do it with me in 2016, set up a blog for us to post our new things, and started brainstorming new things to do every day. But as January 1st, 2016 approached, work stuff happened and I got stressed out and bailed on the idea.

Fast forward to the end of 2016 which turned out to be one of the worst years of my life. My job got more and more stressful (which I honestly did not think was possible) and my body finally screamed “ENOUGH” so loud that I had to listen. I lined up a new job that would start in early 2017 and got re-inspired to take on the “new things” challenge.

Instead of a new thing EVERY DAY, I settled on 100 new things, which seemed like a nice round number. Two new things a week seemed challenging, but doable. I also decided that blogging AND doing was too much, so instead of blogging I decided to record each new thing with a post on Instagram and Facebook. Social media seemed like an easy way to record my new things for posterity AND keep me accountable. Once you tell the internet you are going to do something, you have to do it (especially if you are an Upholder)!  I didn’t have a set list of new things. I had some ideas on a bucket list, but mostly, I just winged it.

So, why did I really want to take on this challenge?  To me, “recharging my life” meant forcing myself out of my daily grind (and comfort zone) on a more regular basis. I wanted to stop using work as an excuse for not really living. I wanted to stop busying myself with to-do lists of chores and really DO things.  Fun things!  Important things! I thought it might be like changing your set point weight. It’s doable, but hard. It requires consistent, sustainable change and you have to stick with it until it becomes the new normal. My goal was to change the set point of my existence! 

Fast forward to the end of 2017 and I have successfully done 100 new things this year!  (#100 is till a secret, but will be formally announced in my next post, tomorrow.)  You can find the full list here with hyperlinks for more info and you can see how they all played out in pictures (with #hashtag commentary) on Instagram.

Since I didn’t post about them as I went along (which I kind of regret), we will all have to live with this very long summary post and some reflections on the year. (One of my Facebook friends thought I should write a book.  This blog post is almost as long as a book. Not a great blogging technique but keep reading anyway…)

As I look back on the list, there were some key themes. Many of my new things (17 to be exact) were new yoga and meditation experiences. These new things did not take me out of my comfort zone (except for hot, hip hip, candle lit yoga which almost killed me), but my choice to spend so much time on these activities reinforced that these are important practices in my life that I want to continue to grow.

Another key theme was my re-acquaintance with the theater. I forgot how much I love the theater!! This year I saw an interactive theater piece at The Public, Hamilton (an unbelievable work of art), Dear Even Hansen (broke my heart wide open), Indecent (beautifully done), Waitress (not a great show but Sara Bareilles rocked!) and three shows at my local theater (which I am now a member of because they were all amazing).

I also got out and about in nature.  I explored Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, finally made it to the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park, rode a Citi Bike for the first time during Summer Streets, visited Prospect Park, hiked in the Poconos, and did some indoor climbing at Brooklyn Boulders (which was kind of like being in nature).  These activities were among my favorites for the year. I love to move and be outside and MUST do this more.

Looking at the rest of the list, these are my top five highlights:

  • Phish on New Years Eve (#1) was really fun. I had never heard a Phish song until the week before the show (and I generally prefer Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson), but a Phish show is definitely an event. That was an amazing way to kick off 2017.
  • Safari in Botswana (#20 – #29) was life highlight. This trip covered 10 new things because so much amazing stuff happened there! (and it was REALLY out of my comfort zone). Being surrounded by a herd of elephants (#26) and having a hippo walk under our walkway less than 10 feet away (didn’t even make the list because it was dark and flash photography would have been life threatening!) are two encounters I will never forget.
  • The night I went to see Michael Moore’s The Terms of My Surrender (#68) happened to be the night he decided to rent two buses to take the audience up to Trump Tower after the show for an impromptu protest (with some famous friends).  That was very cool (even though I didn’t make it on the bus because I had to stop to pee…but I did walk 10 blocks and met them there).
  • I decided to volunteer for a political campaign for my local city council person this fall (#76). While handing out flyers, some one from the opponent’s campaign tried to get me to switch sides and it almost turned in to a brawl between the campaign managers in Tompkins Square Park.  Then the mayor randomly showed up for some promotional shots with my candidate (who is more liked than he is) and I got sucked in to walking around with him, carrying signs while continuing to fight off the opponent’s supporter who would not give up. That was a crazy morning. I was also intermittent fasting (#73) so I was starving during all of this drama!
  • My acupuncturist convinced me to attend the Womanly Arts Experience .  The intent of Womanly Arts is to help women unleash their full power, have fun, turn on, find their happiness, let go of what is holding them back, and live big.  (Sounds amazing, right?) The weekend involved lots of dancing, female bonding, and intimate sharing with complete strangers.  It is impossible to describe and was not something I thought I would enjoy at all, but it was a lot of fun and I made some great new connections!

So what were my key takeaways?  I definitely had a different mind set this year. I always had to make sure I had something new on my schedule. Some things just happened (like Mac-N-Cheetos and Hardywood Bourbon Barrel Gingerbread Stout), but most required planning and a deliberate effort to get off my couch and do something different than I would have otherwise chosen to do. I was ALWAYS glad I made the choice to try something new and most of them would not have happened if I had not promised the internet I would get to 100.

I have often struggled with the question “Am I afraid to do this, or do I really just not want to do it?” What I learned this year, is that if you are not sure whether you want to do something (and it does not require a huge investment)…just fucking do it! I had so much fun doing things that I had no idea I would enjoy.  I definitely did some things I didn’t love (Tatooed New York, Inscape, Intermittent Fasting) but I was still glad I did them.

Did I change the set point of my existence? I think so!  I hope so! My life does feel bigger.  I always have something to talk about when people ask me what I do outside of work which means I have to keep doing stuff because saying “last year I did a lot of cool stuff” will not fly for long!!

I wasn’t thinking about anyone else but myself when I did this, but I ended up with a tribe of people following and cheering me on, which was awesome.

One of my dreams is to be wise and inspirational enough to sit across from Oprah on Super Soul Sunday and say really important stuff that helps people live better lives.  (I realize that is a BIG stretch goal.)  What did happen this year, was that people seemed to be very inspired by my 100 things and some even said they would incorporate in to their lives too!!  Maybe I changed lives without Oprah! (I am sure she would dig that.)

Looking back on how this year unfolded –  what I chose to do, what I didn’t do, what I enjoyed, and what I didn’t – has helped me get more clarity on where to steer my ship next. For 2018, I want to focus on quality over quantity and really hone in on activities that will enrich my life.  More on that to come….

Net net, 100 New Things in 2017 was definitely a huge success…and there is still one more to go!