Sacred water

I poured the bowl of blessed flowers and sacred waters into the stream

The flowers danced and bobbed on the current

Drops of waters from around the world,

Some blessed by hugging saints,

Others collected from tall mountain streams,

Melded seamlessly into the larger body of their own kind

Flowers scattered this way and that

Caught in a small waterfall, they plunged deep beneath the surface

Only to rise a few meters downstream

Floating effortlessly

Carrying our prayers

For the earth

For our children

For ourselves

Water is our first medicine

Water is our first home

How quickly we forget what we are made of

I want you angry

Angry.
I want you angry
I want you to be fucking mad
I don’t want you to sit
In your little corner of the world
Doing your self love meditations
And getting your nails done

I want you on the streets
I want you screaming
For justice
I want you crying
For equality

I want you afraid
Scared out of your fucking little mind

I want you to breathe fear
To eat fear
To drink fear
When you look around at this world

I don’t want you to feel better
I want you to do something about it

I want you heartbroken
Shattered into a million little pieces
That you think you can never put back together again

I want you ripped open
Bleeding

And from that pain
That merciless pain
I want you to transform
The world.

The Art of Happiness

This morning as I walked to my $800 a week consulting gig - something that seems meager compared to what I made during my 5 years at Google - I ran across a crumpled old man, sitting in the midst of busy FiDi foot traffic. He was right in front of Noah's Bagels, and as I looked at the cafe sign I thought to myself, I would never eat there. Then I looked down to see the man had his own sign. It read, "Grateful 4 everything." I paused. I took a breath. And then I knelt down beside him.

"Would you like a bagel?" I asked.
"Yes please," he replied.
"What kind do you like?" I responded.
"Plain, toasted with peanut butter," he said as he looked down and nervously picked his fingernails.
"Do you want a coffee?" I inquired.
He looked up at me. He had the most beautiful, gentle, soft blue eyes. He smiled. "Yes, with cream and sugar please."

I walked into Noah's. I bought his bagel, coffee and a giant bottle of Smart Water. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. I have so much abundance in my life, and it feels damn good to share it with people who need it. 

I walked back outside and knelt down again. He was trying to light a cigar under his jacket. "You're going to have to wait to smoke that," I joked, "breakfast is served." He looked at me and smiled. "What's your name?" I wondered. "Michael," he replied. "Have a beautiful day, Michael." "You too. Have a really beautiful day!" he said enthusiastically. 

As I walked away, I reflected on the beautiful interaction I had with my fellow human. I was beaming, and I wanted to share this joy with others. I'll write a blog post, I thought. And then, what if people think I'm being egotistical? Bragging? Prideful? That fear made me pause. But in my hesitation, I recognized how important it is to share stories like these. Michael is my brother. And he's your brother too.

In the book The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama argues that compassion for others is what brings us joy. He says, "love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive," and goes on to add that, "if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." He talks about genuine compassion, which in essence is a deep form of empathy. It's the idea that accepting another's suffering brings both people a sense of connectedness and fulfillment. In the book Howard Cutler, a Western psychiatrist, backs up this perspective with scientific research. There are numerous other studies that link compassion to increased physical and emotional health, as well.

It's amazing what an impact small actions can have on others. Anecdotal research shows that some homeless people go years without speaking to another human. Some describe it as an invisible plexiglass wall between the homeless and the not homeless. Living in San Francisco where it feels like there are 5 homeless people for every city block (official count: 7,539 or 161 people per square mile), it's easy to want to block out this reality. But these are our brothers and sisters. Our fellow travelers on this journey called life. And so today, I encourage you - say, "hello," buy a bagel or flash a smile. These seemingly trivial actions have the power to transform. Especially yourself.

Time to reflect

One year ago today I left my job at Google. The past year has been the greatest year of my life. I had the highest highs and lowest lows I have ever experienced. I broke open again and again. I expanded my capacity to feel. I expanded my capacity to love. I expanded my capacity to love myself.

My journey took me through 10 days in silence with myself. Then 3 months in South America where I braved the wrath of the Patagonian gods, walked the streets of Argentina, swam the oceans of Brazil, sat Ceremony after Ceremony in Peru, and climbed volcanoes in Nicaragua. I got certified to teach yoga and launched my yoga teaching career. I went to Burning Man, and Symbiosis, and Treasure Island. I found a lump in my breast and had a biopsy. I played. I laughed. I cried. A lot.

I completely lost myself. I broke down all concepts of who I was supposed to be. Who I thought I was. I burned. And then I burned some more. And from my own ashes, I rose again. More courageous, more loving, more passionate, more creative, and more revved up than ever before. Here are a few things I learned from my experience.

1. Life is a game
Each and every one of us are creators. We have the power to design life the way we want it to be. I am not a victim, and I don’t have to live as if I am. When I found the lump in my breast, I totally broke down. I saw myself suffering in a hospital bed as chemicals coursed through my body. I saw myself weak and dying. I saw my family and friends alone after I was gone. I completely tortured myself. Then I woke up.

I recognized that I had the power to control my response to an uncertain and scary situation. I saw that I could choose to see myself sick and suffering, or I could choose to see myself healthy and healed. I decided not to play victim to my situation, rather use it as an opportunity to learn and to grow. And as soon as I made that choice and rewrote the rules of my life, I could see what the lump was there to show me - how to love and forgive myself. I learned that everything in life happens for a reason, and it's all part of a game to help us remember who we really are - infinite, magical beings of love.

2. Self love is the basis of everything
Research shows that you can’t love anyone more than you love yourself. This is hard to wrap your head around - it was for me when I first heard it. But it makes sense. True love requires empathy. It requires us to be able to feel someone else’s pain so we can have compassion for where they are. And if we can’t feel and love our own pain, then we will block and numb out the pain of others.

Time and time again over the past year I’ve been shown that it always comes back to self love. Relationships will never work unless you fully love yourself. Otherwise you will constantly be trying to fill a whole with the other, and you will always come up empty. When I found the lump in my breast, I spent weeks agonizing about why it was there. I made a running list of all the ways I’d ever hurt my body, and I believed it was my fault that this had happened. What I saw was that I needed to forgive myself. Nothing I did or didn’t do caused the lump intentionally. As soon as I could embrace my full self and continually confront myself with love, my life opened up in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

3. The power of play
I never let myself be a kid. I was always serious, always working hard to be perfect. A few years ago I started to get back in touch with my childlike spirit and sought experiences that allowed me to be in a state of play. After leaving my job, I traveled for 3 months. It was pure play and was the best food for my soul. Play allows you to gain clarity by giving you a new perspective. And it gives you much needed rest that allows you to be more effective and powerful when you return to adult life.

Once I got back from South America, I spent a few months continuing to play. I went to a few festivals, including Burning Man, and was somewhat lackadaisical about finding yoga teaching jobs. But I had so much guilt and shame. I thought that I was lazy. Through this experience, however, I learned to give myself a break and recognized how important it was for me to create space in my life for creativity and clarity. Now play is part of my daily ritual.

4. Ritual keeps us connected to the truth of who we are
I’ve had so many mind blowing experiences where I remember my own divinity and all the petty shit of the world falls away. Every time I experience that I think, don’t forget, okay? But undoubtedly I always forget because that’s part of the game of life. It’s so fun to remember, I think we forget on purpose. 

This phenomenon really frustrated me at first. I would feel so sad and dejected when I was disconnected from myself. And then I started a daily meditation practice, a daily gratitude practice, and a few other bits of magic. I realized that these rituals keep me grounded and connected to myself. I was never a creature of habit, but I have now become very ritualistic - journaling every morning, sitting in daily meditation, burning an abundance candle every time I get money.  These small acts profoundly changed my life and allow me to stay more even keel from day-to-day.

5. Gratitude, the key to success in good times and in bad
My parents did an amazing job teaching me to be thankful, so luckily this practice has been prevalent my whole life. But it became abundantly clear how powerful gratitude is while I was working with ayahuasca in the Peruvian Amazon. Ayahuasca is a beautiful medicine that helps us to heal past pain and see ourselves clearly. Part of the healing process, however, often requires that you re-live painful experiences or get trapped inside your fear. This can be scary and disorienting and leave you feeling a bit of despair.

Every time I went into this state, I would ask Aya what she was trying to show me, then I would thank her for the lesson. Time and time again I would say, “thank you,” for some of the most painful, grotesque visions. I would say, “thank you,” when I would feel anxious. And as soon as I connected to my gratitude, the situation or vision would transform.

Aya is beautiful because she teaches you how to live differently. This experience translated into my daily life where I now have a deep gratitude practice that helps me stay positive in the good times and gracefully move through the tough ones. 

6. The more you give, the more you receive
I never believed this to be true, but after implementing a regular practice of giving, I have seen gifts come back ten fold. Abundance can be monetary, but it also exists in love, in relationships, in food, in joy. I’ve found through experience that whatever I put out into the world is what I will receive in return.

If I desire more passion in my relationship, it’s my responsibility to be passionate with my partner. If I want my friends to be more loving and accepting, I must be more loving and accepting with them first. If I desire to make money doing something that I love, I must support other entrepreneurs with my dollar. It’s a beautiful cycle of reciprocity. All of these things - money, love, passion - are just energy, and the more we put ourselves in that energetic vibration, the more we stay there.

7. Radical responsibility  
I am 100% responsible for everything that happens in my life. I am not a victim. I have complete control over how I respond and how I feel. This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn and to integrate, but it has made a profound difference in my life. Responsibility means I suffer less and I love more. 

There have been many times where I feel frustrated with others because of their judgment, cruelty or close-mindedness. I used to judge them for their judgment and want to remove myself from their presence. But over time I have learned to use this uncomfortable feeling as a mirror. I look at them, I see what I don’t like, and then I examine what it is in ME that’s causing me to feel that way. This has completely transformed the way that I show up in the world and the way that I view the people around me. It’s so much more fulfilling to be in a state of radical responsibility rather than feeling like a victim.

8. Surrender, surrender, surrender
And when you think you can’t surrender any more, surrender again. “Jump and the net will appear,” is one of my favorite quotes. It requires so much trust in the universe to lean into fear and expand into discomfort, but every time that I do, I am rewarded. By giving up control, I often feel that I have more control. I have made a commitment to take care of myself - my thoughts, my actions, my words - and to let God take care of everything else.

9. Community is the new money
I am not alone on this journey. I used to think I had to do everything by myself. That I had to be the strong one. Over the last year I have learned how to depend on people I can trust. Their empathy and support is the reason I am where I am today. And in my gratitude for the beautiful tribe that surrounds me, I choose to be love for everyone who shows up in my life needing support.

10. I am enough. And so are you.

 

The Spirituality of Skiing

I just came off the mountain from what was the best day of skiing I’ve ever had. After several lessons and lots of teachings from friends, I was finally able to synthesize everything I’ve learned. Not only did the physical experience of skiing feel more enjoyable and fluid, it was a profoundly spiritual experience that allowed me to see myself and the way life works more clearly. Here is what I learned.

Focus your attention where you want to go

I get totally freaked out when I’m at the top of the run and I look down to the bottom. It feels steep. And in a flash I see myself tumbling down the mountain, breaking all of my bones in the process.

But today I saw how important it is to focus your attention exactly where you want to go. My first run of the day, there was an accident about half way down the mountain. Several people were gathered as the ski patrol huddled around the injured person and gingerly lifted them onto a toboggan attached to a snow mobile. As I was skiing, I was staring (read: rubbernecking) at this scene. And then I felt myself going directly toward these people. Oh no! Was I going to crash into an already injured person? What do I do? Immediately I set my sights and shoulders towards a tree to the left of the incident. And immediately I moved out of their way. I learned that where intention leads, attention follows. In this way, you will go exactly where you set your sights.

It was profound to experience this phenomenon in my body, and to see how clearly it translates to all other areas of my life. One of my teachers told me, “be very specific about the creative fields you want to manifest.” Now I truly understand what he meant. 

Lean into your fear, even though it’s uncomfortable

One of the worst parts of skiing for me is the fact that you have to point your upper body straight down hill. It feels so unnatural. You mean you want me to lean towards the super steep really scary mountain? Um, ok.

The first several times I skied, I defied this rule. I thought if I pointed my chest towards the trees on each side of the mountain I would be fine. But I would fall every time I tried to turn. So today, every time I felt out of control, I would do the thing that scares me most - lean forward. There would be that split second of terror, followed by complete grace. Leaning down the mountain - leaning into my fear - actually gives me more control than I would otherwise have. And I see this in my life too. The more I lean into my fear and expand into that feeling, the more I am able to work with, and ultimately, transform it. 

Enjoying Lakeview.

Enjoying Lakeview.

Control what you can, let the mountain take care of the rest

So there’s this thing with skis where they’re designed to work with the mountain. I learned today that most modern skis still contain a wood interior even though the outer layers are composite material. The physics of wood allows it to absorb and release the correct amount of energy that lets a human fly down a mountain. We humans are pretty fucking cool. We invent the most interesting things. I loved learning about the wood and understanding that natural materials are the best way to transfer energy from our bodies into the snow. It makes sense, and it makes me smile.

Every ski has a natural turning radius, which allows you to glide seamlessly down the mountain. It’s such an exercise in trusting your skis as you go down, knowing that they will turn when they want to turn, or you are going to have a very taxing run. Many times today I would be skiing, and I would want to control exactly what was happening - when I was turning, how fast I was going, what the consistency of the snow was. Each time I would try to control the mountain, the mountain would control me. I’d lose my balance, my arms would flail, and I would nearly fall down. But each time I noticed what was happening and could say, “I’ll control my form, you do the rest,” my ride would be as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

For the past 10 weeks I’ve been working through the Artist’s Way. It’s been an incredible process that has opened me up to my own creativity and my own creative blocks. It’s helped me listen to my intuition and lean into my fear. It’s helped me to create, create, create and let go of my perfectionism. One of my favorite parts of the book is the prayer she asks you to place in your workspace: “Dear God, you take care of the quality, I’ll take care of the quantity.” That’s how skiing feels. I’ll control my form, you (God the Mountain) control the rest. 

And this experience in my body allowed me to understand manifestation on a whole new level. Yes we can put our intentions out there. Yes we can visualize success. Yes, there are synchronicities. But we must take action in line with our goals in order for this magic to occur. We control our form and take steps in the right direction, then allow God/ the Universe/ the mountain to place things in our path that allow us to move forward.

Don’t look at the path, look at the destination

I hadn’t fallen at all today, and I was gaining lots and lots of speed with each new run. I kept feeling fear that if I fell while going fast, I would really injure myself, so at one point I decided that I was going to fall on purpose. If I generated the fall when I was going fast, I thought that I could overcome my fear. So I looked at the ground right in front of my skis and allowed myself to gracefully fall into the snow at high velocity. I knew that if I looked down, I would go down.

In Infinite Possibilities, Mike Dooley teaches about creative visualization and how important it is to focus your attention on the outcome, rather than dictating the steps that get you there. In skiing, it’s the exact same. If you look down at the snow and where your skis are going, you are sure to fall. But if you can look at the tree line, the “slow” sign, the bottom of the hill, your body will intuitively move you in that direction. This is the same in life. Keep your eye on the prize, and you intuitively will take the right steps to get you there. Focus too much on the path, and you will get stuck.

If you’re going to fall, you might as well be having fun when you do

As the day waxed on, my confidence increased dramatically. I would allow myself to bomb down runs, feeling comfortable that I knew how to slow down without bailing out. The very first time I allowed myself to go faster than normal though, my fear alarm went off. Bah bah bah bah bahhhhh. You’re going too fast. If you fell now, you would really hurt yourself. You better slow down. As my inner monologue ran the “you’re going to fall and hurt yourself story,” I separated myself from the fear. I saw that I wasn’t my fear, but I was experiencing fear. And then I retorted, So what if I fall? At least I’d be having fun when I did it. Why would I slow myself down right now? This is amazing!

This experience reminded me of the Brene Brown book I’m reading right now. In Daring Greatly she asks, “what would you do even if you knew you would fail?” Woof. That is a big question. And a beautiful one. What things do I care about so much that I’m willing to risk vulnerability and even pain to have a chance at them? What do I love so much that I would be okay doing even if I knew I would fail? I feel that way about my relationship. As scary as it is to give myself fully over to love, I’d choose complete surrender every time. I used to close my heart when things felt too good - I’d pick fights, find something wrong, look at the grass on the other side. But skiing, and life, have taught me to continue expanding. To open to joy and adventure. And to not stop myself, even if I know I’m going to fail.

Your heart always knows the way

When I’d take a really great run, I’d end up at the bottom, with my heart pounding in my chest. I’d feel it in my throat. I’d hear it in my ears. At first this excessive heart rate frightened me. Do I have altitude sickness? Heart arrhythmia? Am I going to pass out? And then I recognized that this was not a bad thing. It was actually a very, very good thing. 

My Osho tarot deck has a card called Schizophrenia that I’ve pulled a handful of times. In the card it talks about how we often straddle the divide, not wanting to choose a direction and in turn sentence ourselves to purgatory. It urges you that if you don’t know the way, just jump. Your heart will beat so fast, you’ll know exactly which direction to go. In skiing, and in life, this could not be more true. The things worth doing are the ones that make us uncomfortable. They’re the experiences that make our heart feel like it’s going to leap out of our chest. So after today, I commit to letting fear - and my heartbeat - serve as my compass. I urge you to do the same.

Oh and don’t forget: keep your tips up.

A blessing for the water

Thank you for the water.

Thank you for the water that quenches my thirst.
Thank you for the water that fuels my body.
Thank you for the water the nourishes my soul.

Thank you for the water.

May all the waters be blessed.
May all the waters be clean.
May all the waters be respected.

May the animals of the waters thrive.
May the people of the waters remember.
May all beings everywhere have safe water to drink.

Photo credit: unsplash.com

Photo credit: unsplash.com

Modern Muse: Julia Chou

About a month ago I posted the first Modern Muse series about Binti co-founder, Felicia Curcuru. Today I'm back with a post about Binti's other inspiring co-founder, Julia Chou. Julia and I met on our first day at Google five and a half years ago. We immediately connected because we had both spent time in Panama working on child welfare, global health, and sustainability. Julia has always inspired me with her strong values and desire to make an impact in this world. Here's her story.

So Miss Julia, what’s your story?
My passion has always been in global health and child welfare, and it’s always been important for me to work for a mission-driven company. But I was also interested in technology and so my senior year of college when the opportunity at Google came up, I decided to take it. I thought once I had a foot in the door it would be easy to move to a department that inspired me, like DotOrg. I worked in ad sales for a year and half before moving to the Emerging Markets team which brought technology to Africa and Southeast Asia. I got to travel and meet some of the people that our technology was touching, and it was really amazing.

After a while I felt it was time to return to my roots and do something directly mission-oriented. I also wanted something much smaller and less bureaucratic and was looking for something hands-on where I could drive the direction and have a lot of impact. That is how I ended up at Binti.

How did you meet your co-founder, Felicia?
Several years ago I went on a camping trip with mutual friends and met Felicia there. At the time we were both starting new things - she had just moved to San Francisco and I had just moved to the Emerging Markets team at Google. We connected over that and stayed in touch. Eventually Felicia told me about Binti, and it seemed like the perfect place that combined my experience in tech with my passion for child policy and welfare.

Julia + Felicia, having the best time

Julia + Felicia, having the best time

How did you first get involved with Binti? 
At first I was working nights and weekends outside of my job at Google, helping to build the company. Then Felicia and I realized we weren’t just good friends but also worked really, really well together. Eventually, we decided to be co-founders.

What was it like to join a company so early on?
I think it’s everything you would imagine it to be. My first day was pretty funny - many things went wrong. The site went down, the printer spat paper out at me… Welcome to startup life! You wear so many different hats. But it’s amazing because you have complete control - from branding to benefits - you get to create anything you want.

What are you most excited about at Binti right now?
For the first time we’re getting involved in the actual adoption process, helping to connect expectant mothers with adoptive families. It’s been so gratifying to work directly with these women in a way that’s compassionate to everybody involved. We’re really working towards our mission of making adoptions easier and more affordable. 

Tell me more about Binti’s culture. How do you keep people motivated and happy?
We have a “take care of yourself” perk every month. You get $100 to spend on whatever you want - yoga, home cleaning, massage. We also encourage people to take vacation. We have an unlimited vacation policy, and we mean it. Felicia and I both try to set an example when we take vacation by totally turning off technology. Vacations are important because they allow you to zoom out and see the bigger picture rather than getting caught in the day-to-day. I took 2 weeks off this year for my honeymoon, and it was amazing.

Just wait until you watch the  full video ...

Just wait until you watch the full video...

Fun! Where did you go for your honeymoon?
Portugal and Morocco. My favorite city was Porto - it was beautiful. It’s very hilly with a river separating the city. It was charming, quaint, cheap, and relaxed.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to move into a job that is more aligned with her values?
It can be really scary to make the transition. You don’t know what’s going to happen and there’s a lot of uncertainty, especially when leaving a bigger company with more structure and benefits. But having gone through it, there’s actually not that much to be scared of. So, just take the leap! If you think you can do something that’s more aligned with your values, do it.

How did you navigate your job change with your parents?
I talked to them a lot about the challenges I faced at Google, what I wanted from my future career, and why Binti was inspiring. From their perspective, as immigrants to the US, they thought I had already “made it,” so it was confusing to them that I wanted to leave Google. But it was important for me to try something new and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t. 

We had the conversation over multiple weeks until finally my mom, who was the more risk averse one, came around and realized this was the time for me to try it. After several weeks at Binti, my mom said to me, “You’re so much happier. I should have let you quit a lot sooner.” :)

How do you create balance and set boundaries while running a startup?
It’s easy to work all the time because there are lots of things to do. At one point, I was worried that I was sleeping too much. When I told my husband, Luke, he laughed at me and said that of all the things to worry about, that was one I should not be worried about. It’s important to sleep enough because I’m more productive and think more clearly. If you want to do something good for your business, it starts with yourself. I workout with Felicia most days of the week, go to yoga on the weekends, and take time to read, which allows me to learn what other people are doing and immerse myself in a world that’s different than my own.

What books do you recommend?
I just finished Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future which I enjoyed. Lately I’ve been really into The Food Lab by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and have been trying new recipes from the book.

What do you love about cooking?
In a startup there’s so much uncertainty. But with a recipe, the steps are all laid out and you just follow them. It’s a great contrast to my daily work.

What do you think really allows you to thrive as a startup co-founder?
I have a really amazing support system - both at home with my husband, Luke, as well as with my friends. It’s amazing to have a community of people who want to have an impact in this world and are mission-driven and authentic. Surrounding yourself with positive people who share similar values makes everything easier and you feel like you’re not alone.

The #bintifamily at their Tahoe retreat

The #bintifamily at their Tahoe retreat

Any favorite routines or life hacks?
Lately I’ve been trying to have hangouts that are more exercise-oriented, which helps me with my goal of living more healthy. Photography is still one of my favorite hobbies. And Luke and I recently started a Saturday morning ritual of doing the crossword together. 

Ah yes. I remember you saying to me recently, “I love getting older.” Besides crossword rituals, what did you mean? 
Every year brings more perspective, and I have no regrets about what I’ve done because it’s all been part of the journey to get me where I am today. And I mean, who really wants to go back to their 22 year old self?

Thank you, Julia, for working to make the world a better place. I admire your drive, determination, and sparkling smile.

Read more from Julia on Medium.

The Quiet Revolution

Can you feel it?
It has begun
People everywhere are waking up
They're leaving their jobs
In search of a better way
A new beginning
An expression of their truth
Their values
Their heart

Can you hear it? 
It has begun
Silently sweeping the West
It sounds like communion
Hearts joining together
Singing songs of hallelujah
Icaros of wisdom
A palpable joy
A screaming freedom

Can you taste it?
It has begun
The taste of freedom
touches our tongues
Our souls rejoice
Closer to truest form
Dessert for the ages
The sweetness of passion
The deliciousness of love

Can you see it?
It has begun
The look in her eye
Saying nothing, knowing all
It looks like you
And it looks like me
We are
The strength of the warrior
The power of the goddess

The Quiet Revolution is here. 

Products I Love: Benshen

So much to say, so little space. Benshen products are unlike any other, and founder Desiree Pais is such an inspiration. A practitioner of Chinese Medicine and an avid Kundalini yogi, Desiree created Benshen after learning how to naturally heal her own auto-immune, chronic fatigue, cystic acne, and hormonal imbalance. As she says, "Benshen, which means Root of the Spirit, celebrates the wisdom which teaches us that real beauty begins when we root our spirits into our bodies and radiate from the inside out."

My darling friend, Rachel, told me about Benshen when I was in the throes of really awful adult acne. Last December I stopped taking hormonal birth control after 9 years, and my body got totally whacked out. I started breaking out like I was 19 again and was so embarrassed. I bought Serums No 1 and No 2 and started to moisturize with only these products, day and night. At first, nothing happened.

Then while traveling in South America I read an incredible post by Desiree, Benshen's creator, and had a realization that my acne was there to teach me to love myself. It was showing me how to accept all parts of myself, exactly as they were. I started a daily affirmation - I love my clear, beautiful skin, began a daily self love meditation, and started treating my body kindly. I ate better and exercised more. No longer was it about looking a certain way. It was an act of self love. An act of gratitude for this miraculous body that I get to inhabit.

Serum No. 1

Serum No. 1

And slowly but surely my skin started to heal. The acne went away, the tiny bumps on my forehead cleared, and with the beautiful, natural healing power of plants, the scars started to disappear. Benshen changed everything for me, and I am so grateful. I am so grateful for these beautiful products made from nature's wisdom to allow people to reflect what's inside on the outside.

It starts with me

Yesterday I was having a conversation with my mom about everything that's going on in the world - random shootings in the US, ISIS attacks in the Middle East, astounding pollution in China. My head was spinning and my heart was breaking as I started to focus on all of the pain in the world. Then, my mom asked me a question: what, if anything, do you think can be done to fix all of this?

My mind began to race as I tried to come up with solutions to all of these problems. What would it actually take to create the world we want to live in? As I tried to develop a 3 minute solution to world peace, it hit me. We need conscious leaders who meet hate and fear with love. Not retaliation, not baring our teeth, not disregarding the good of all for the profit of few. Love.

So where do these leaders come from? How are they created and how the hell do they end up leading? What can I do to help?

And that's when I realized (again) something that's been with me for a long time - it starts with me.  It is so easy to look out and see everything that is wrong with the world. I do it all the time. I make a list of things that are broken and judge what's being done to fix them. Now it's time to turn the mirror on myself.

How am I living that supports the world I want to live in? How am I not living?  I became vegan after seeing Cowspiracy because I couldn't in good conscience keep contributing to rainforest destruction and global warming. I compost. I minimize waste. I eat organic. But what about the softer, more subtle things? Am I totally judgment free? Do I meet hate and fear with love? How can I expect others to do this if I'm not willing to consistently do it myself?

If we really are all one, then a shift in the consciousness of just one person will affect everyone. And if many of us start to shift towards love, imagine what could happen. We're at a pivotal crossroads in humanity where we have to turn the ship around, or we might just destroy ourselves. The time to wake up is now. The time to live in a way that's sustainable and loving towards humanity and our planet is now. It starts with me. And it starts with you.

As 2015 draws to a close, I am creating a commitment for the New Year, and I invite you to join me. I am going to meet everything with love. That's right. Everything. The thing about commitments is that they are different than expectations. If you have an expectation and you fail, you experience disappointment. If you fail at a commitment, the commitment still stands. I know I will fail at my commitment time and time again because I am not conditioned to meet pain with love. But I am committed to practicing this vulnerability, to becoming a more loving person and to creating a more loving world.

Perspective. 

Perspective. 


Products I Love: Thinx

Do you have "period underwear?" The old ratty pairs of panties you save for that one week each month. Yeah. Thought so.

I present to you an alternative - Thinx! Entrepreneur extraordinaire, Miki Agrawal, invented these amazing little panties for women with periods. Not only is the product brilliant, the marketing is beyond clever.

When I met Miki at Burning Man and she told me about Thinx, I really didn't think they were for me. But after enough "for women with periods" ads, I realized, "Hey! I'm a woman. I have a period. Maybe I should try these." So I bought a pair of hiphuggers and gave them a go. Side note: I am now having terrible buyer's remorse because they just came out with LACY high-waisted ones. Since when did period panties get to be sexy?!

Time read my blog, and they totally agree with me.

Time read my blog, and they totally agree with me.

While the product itself is phenomenal (it doesn't feel like a diaper AND it really works), the cause behind the work is what's truly inspiring. Thinx is on a mission to break the taboo around menstruation. They fought the New York MTA so they could post their ads in subway stations and helped reverse decades (millenia?) of backwards thinking about periods. And the best part is that each pair of Thinx you buy funds a pack of washable, reusable pads for a girl in the developing world. This helps girls stay in school which in turn helps communities grow and thrive.

Thinx recently released an amazing video called "The Week" that I highly recommend watching. As women we have so much shame around this totally natural thing that happens to us every month. Together, we can change that.


Modern Muse: Felicia Curcuru

Welcome to the Modern Muse series. Each week I’ll be interviewing an inspiring human who is pursuing her passions and living a life of her own design. There are so many incredible people doing incredible things in this world, so these posts are designed to highlight their awesomeness and give you inspiration and courage to pursue your own path.

The first installment is an interview with Felicia Curcuru, CEO + Co-founder of Binti, a tech company that helps parents adopt children. I sat down with Felicia to learn more about her company, why she believes in vacation, and her advice for other budding entrepreneurs. Here’s her story.

Tell me a little bit about your company. What do you do?

At Binti we help children find loving families. We’re a for profit mission-driven company that uses technology to make adoptions easier and less expensive. The current adoption process is extremely broken - 90% of parents drop out because it’s too difficult.

Binti co-founders, Julia Chou (left) and Felicia Curcuru (right)

Binti co-founders, Julia Chou (left) and Felicia Curcuru (right)

How did you come up with the idea for Binti?

I went through the adoption process with my sister when she was adopting my niece and nephew, and it was really difficult and expensive. My sister visited the orphanage where her children were living. There were 300 children there and she asked how many of the children would be adopted. The people working at the orphanage told her that they were only parents to visit in a few years, and that most of the children don’t ever get adopted. As soon as I heard that story I thought, “Why is it so difficult to adopt if there are so many children in need?”

You are doing some really amazing, innovative things to help with adoptions. Can you share what you’re working on?

So there are 3 main types of adoption - international adoption, foster care, and domestic infant adoption. Our first product focuses on the home study, which is the first step parents must take to get approved to adopt. We created a TurboTax-like experience for all of the home study paperwork and help match parents with a social worker.

Our second product, which I’m really excited about, focuses on matching adoptive parents and  expectant mothers. We recently launched this product for domestic infant adoptions, and it’s been amazing to see the connections that are being made.

You’re also working on some community-building products, right?

Yeah, we talked with several women who placed their children for adoption in the past, and they said they wished they had more women to talk to for advice when they were going through the process. They also needed more education about the adoption process and what choices they were allowed to make.

To solve this, we created a community forum and a buddy program where birth mothers can match with mothers considering adoption to help them through the process. We’ve also released a lot of educational resources - like an expectant parents guide to adoption, videos from birth mothers, and a birth mother ‘what I wish I knew’ list.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Think about the problems you care most about and create a list of ideas for solving them. If you pick something you care a lot about, you will be excited to work on it every day. Find some founders that are further along than you. Treat them as friends and mentors! Bounce ideas off of them. Their business doesn’t need to be exactly like yours because there’s so much that’s the same across companies like fundraising, recruiting, management, etc.

And when all else fails, wear onesies to the office.

And when all else fails, wear onesies to the office.

You are a for-profit, mission-drive company. Why did you choose that over being a non-profit?

In my opinion, businesses are more sustainable and scalable than non-profits, and you can raise money from investors which is much easier than waiting for grants. I also love that there’s a push within the company to make sure that it’s providing value and can self sustain.

What practices do you have to take care of yourself as you’re working your booty off?

I always make sure to get enough sleep - I’m not as effective if I don’t get at least 8 hours. I also take at least one day off each week. If I’m having a hard day, I love doing my nails or a face mask, or calling my parents. Oh and lighting a candle. It makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself and treating myself well.

What do you love to do in your free time?

I like visiting my family a lot. I go to the East Coast every 2-3 months to see my family and nieces and nephews. I also try to take a weekend trip at least once a month. I have a good friend who lives in Korea and we do a reunion every 2 years so we’re going to Southeast Asia in the spring. I can’t wait. I guess the theme here would be travel.

Travel is super important. As a busy CEO and Founder, what’s your vacation philosophy?

I really believe in vacation and I think that if you don’t take it, you end up working really hard but not on the right things. When I take time off I come back energized with great ideas and a great perspective.

Beach time for the Binti team, including Stewie (office pup and head engineer).

Beach time for the Binti team, including Stewie (office pup and head engineer).

What are you most excited about right now?

We have a new product to make connections between adoptive parents and expectant mothers that we just launched. I’m excited to see more connections made through that. I’m also really excited to expand into foster care and international adoption because that’s where most of the waiting children are.

Thank you so much Felicia for sharing your story with us and for sharing your light with the world. You are truly an inspiration. 

 

 

 

Our bodies are miracles

Our bodies are constantly trying to talk to us, and when we listen, it's profound what we hear.

Yesterday I had a unique experience in a class with one of my favorite teachers. Her whole class was centered on listening to what our bodies wanted us to do, and at one point she said "Utkatasna or Bakasana." Chair or crow. Hmmmm...

Without any thought my body gracefully moved itself out of chair and right into crow. For me crow has always been a challenging pose because there's so much fear in it. If you fall, you fall directly on your face. What if I break my nose? Scrape my forehead? God forbid I look ugly. But this time it was different. By body remembered the pose and swiftly moved me right into it - no time for what ifs. I held it longer than I have ever held crow. My body knew exactly what it wanted.

Bakasana

Bakasana

Last week I danced so hard I cried. My beautiful sister and inspiring friend, Kiki, hosted a class called Ritual Movement. She created a space for women to be uninhibited and free. Her intention was for us to come alive. We started small, moving just the hips, eyes closed. Then the movements got more dramatic, using our whole body. She encouraged us to listen to what our bodies wanted us to do. 

At some point a song came on and I was no longer in control. My body began to move in a way it has never moved. I was all over the place, yet graceful in my motion. It felt so good. So right. I was dancing so hard - from the depths of my soul - that I suddenly became overwhelmed with emotion. Tears flowed down my face. I unleashed a part of me that I had hidden away. A part of me I was ashamed of. Scared of. Yet when it came out, it only felt perfect.

This thought - our bodies are miracles - has been with me for a long time. I remember back to 9th grade biology, and then AP biology, and then college biology. I remember learning about our bodies' systems. How perfectly it all seems to work. The symmetry, the geometry, the magic. 

I remember the first time I had bodywork done. And the second. And the thirtieth. Each experience profound and unique. Each massage, Reiki session, or Body Talk teaching me more and more about myself. I remember the moment when I connected with how much information our bodies store. That my right hip holds the memories of my maternal line. My right shoulder my father. My left hip my friends. My tribe. That I store all of my anxiety in my stomach. All of my secrets. That when I hide something, when I hide who I am, I get nauseous. 

This is why I love yoga. It gives us an opportunity to take care of our miraculous bodies. And through the practice we can use our physical form to help us connect to our deepest selves. Time and again I get into a pose that I didn't think I could do. I hold something longer than I thought I could. I set my beliefs that I will fall or hurt myself aside. And when I do this for my body, I also do it for my Spirit. I am constantly learning that the way I do my yoga is the way I do my life. I am constantly overcoming fears and limitations on my mat that make my life richer and less scary off the mat. 

I am so blessed with this beautiful, healthy vessel that carries me through this lifetime. It is my honor to take care of it and to listen to what it has to say. There is so much wisdom in our bones. So much magic in our flesh.

Our bodies remember. Our bodies know.


Products I Love: La Ventana Herbals

There are so many incredible makers out there, so I am starting this "Products I Love" series to give a shout out to them. Hopefully you will find some new favorite products among my selections, and perhaps even some inspiration to become a maker yourself.

About a year ago I decided to go au naturel with all of my beauty products. I realized that I was only feeding myself organic foods, yet I was treating the largest organ in my body (my skin) with yucky chemicals. Which is how I happened upon La Ventana Herbals.

Altar Sagrado and Jai Ma breast cream

Altar Sagrado and Jai Ma breast cream

La Ventana Herbals are amazing. I especially love the Altar Sagrado and Jai Ma balms. They reconnected me to my womanhood and smell super yummy. The creators grow all of the plants on their land organically and harvest them under the full moon. They sing medicine songs as they prepare them, infusing the balms with love and intention. Bonus: when you first open the jar, the balm is topped with the sweetest little rosebud.

Altar Sagrado is intended for releasing trauma to the womb. I stopped taking hormone birth control after 9 years (I'm sorry body), and Altar Sagrado has been extremely healing. I also held a lot of generational and societal sexual trauma which this balm has helped to release. Oh and I must mention that Midol has met its match. Altar Sagrado is incredible for cramps.

Jai Ma is a breast cream and they recommend massaging it in every day with your regular breast exams. Yes ladies, you are supposed to do daily breast massages and exams. Lucky for me this is how I caught a small lump in my breast several months ago (it turned out to be benign), so I can't recommend the ritual enough. And with this delicious cream the experience becomes even more enjoyable. 

I highly recommend these two products for any woman looking to connect to her femininity. They also make an incredible True Heart balm intended to open your heart and connect you to your inner voice. I love it for cultivating self love and have heard it's amazing for healing heartbreak. Literally everything they make - from sprays, to healing eye drops, to the balms - is top notch and will make you feel like a million bucks. Connect with your body and open the window to your soul.

Nacho average night

Nachos - God's greatest gift to mankind. A pile of fried goodness covered with gooey deliciousness and topped with God's second greatest gift to mankind - avocado. When I became vegan I thought my days of nacho indulgence were over. But alas, some brilliant humans created cheese made from nuts and saved me from eternal distress. 

A couple of weeks ago my friends and I gathered for a nacho eating, Warriors watching root tootin' good time. We picked up 2 types of vegan cheese - Daiya (promising cheesier flavor and better melting than ever before) and Heidi Ho (made of chia seeds and veggies).  We decided to do 2 batches, because one can really never have too many nachos, and taste test both options.

And so with that, I introduce to you VEGAN NACHOS! Vegan nachos so delicious, you won't even miss the real thing. 

Melty Daiya cheese nachos

Melty Daiya cheese nachos

Creamy Heidi Ho nachos

Creamy Heidi Ho nachos

The 2 recipes were essentially identical with the exception of the cheeses. Here's what we topped our chips with, but you can use whatever tickles your pickle. 

  • Crispy, thick tortilla chips (must be nacho quality)
  • Daiya/ Heidi ho queso
  • Quinoa (does a body good)
  • Black beans
  • Fajita-style onions, bell pepper & zucchini (cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil)
  • Black olives
  • Pickled jalapeños
  • Salsa - ay ay ay!
  • Homemade guacamole

The Heidi Ho cheese was the clear winner. It was like a mildly spicy queso without the yucky feeling after eating an entire bowl of queso. Score!

Please try this at home. It is a delightful experience, especially when shared with dear friends. 

Disclaimer: It will be hard, but try to breathe between every 3-6 nachos.

 

When I close my eyes

Photo credit: Scott London

Photo credit: Scott London

I come from a place with lush forests and clean running water.
A land where animals roam free and are loved and admired.
A planet with mountains of purple and orange.

In this land there is peace.
We are governed by the laws of love.
There is no money, only gifts.
We thrive in community.

Sure, there is conflict.
But we resolve it consciously, through conversation.
Greed does not exist.
We know, we trust, there is plenty for everyone.

When I close my eyes, I can see my home.

It is called Earth.

Limiting beliefs are, well, limiting

We all do it. Make up extravagant stories in our minds and then live like they're real. Sometimes these stories are empowering. They make us strive to be better people, accomplish our goals, contribute to society. But a lot of times these stories are bullshit.

Here's what I mean. When I was 5 years old I made a really big mistake that ended in a horrific tragedy. As a result of that one moment on that one day, I made up a story that I had to be perfect. P-E-R-F-E-C-T. No mistakes. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I lived that way for 22 years. Any time I messed up, I tried to hide it. I didn't want anyone to know that I wasn't perfect because it interrupted my story of how things were supposed to be.

For the past year and change I've been working really hard to rewrite that story. I now consider myself a recovering perfectionist (yes, I have gone through the 12 steps) and love making mistakes. I think mistakes are beautiful. They make me feel like a rebel. 

But as stories go, where there is one, there are many. So while I may have eradicated my craving for perfectionism, I have quite a few other stories (read: limiting beliefs) that are preventing me from moving forward in certain areas of my life.  That is, until Uncle Tony stepped in. 

On the third day of UPW, Tony Robbins led us through a top secret process to eradicate limiting beliefs. If I tell you what it is I have to kill you, so it's best we keep it a secret. The how's don't really matter, anyway. It's the outcome that counts.

One of the scariest beliefs I had been holding is that "relationships are hard." Full stop. This sentence used to ring true to me, and it defined every relationship in my life. How could it not? Through my work at UPW I was able to transform this belief into a much more empowering statement. "Relationships are a beautiful dance" is now my mantra. Life suddenly got a lot more fun.

As a budding entrepreneur beginning to put myself out in the world, I held quite a dangerous belief - "I'm not good enough. I can't do this on my own." How many of you have felt that before? How many of you think that's TRUE? It's not! I promise. It's some bullshit that some meany put on you long, long ago. And right now, you can stop living like that's real. I'm using the affirmation, "I am enough. I am a powerful force for good." Feel free to borrow it and say it over and over to yourself until someone on the bus thinks you're one of the crazies. 

These are a couple of debilitating beliefs in a plethora of disempowering stories I've been telling myself. I know the work will continue (forever) but more importantly this whole process is teaching me a lot about trust. Trust that if I listen to my heart and put in the work, life will play out better than my wildest dreams. Trust that if I jump, the net will appear. Trust that there's something greater orchestrating this whole thing we call life. Take for example, the writing of this post. I wanted to reference my UPW workbook regarding the limiting beliefs exercise. So I picked it up, flipped it open, and out of 172 pages I opened right to the exercise I wanted. Spooky shit.

When you read that, what did the little voice in your head say? "Yeah right? Something greater my ass?" What if, for a moment, you suspended disbelief? What if you trusted? What could your life look like? I urge you to take some time to examine your limiting beliefs. Jot them down, then create a positive affirmation to transform the belief. Say it as often as you want. See what happens. You might just be surprised.

You are what you eat

So the saying goes. 

After watching Cowspiracy a couple of months ago, my partner and I decided to adopt a vegan diet. I consider myself an environmentalist, someone who cares for Mother Earth, and after seeing that film I would be a total hypocrite if I kept eating animal products. So I embarked upon a 30 day vegan challenge, and almost 2 months later I'm still at it. My body and conscience have never felt better.

Luckily I was well on my way to veganhood when Tony Robbins came into my life, so his recommendations for how to eat didn't totally shatter my world. There was an entire day of Unleash the Power Within dedicated to health and wellness, which was incredible. I love that he takes a stand and makes you feel like your physical health is just as big a part of a transformation as your mental and emotional health. Because it is.

Many of the things that were shared that day I already knew, but there were some golden nuggets in there that totally shifted my personal health. Some of the news was heartbreaking (no more coffee) but most of it was exciting (no cancer!).

Vital breathing

Every morning, the moment I wake up, I take 5 really deep breaths. Breaths so deep I can feel them in my toes. It wakes me up. It helps me say, "Hello world! I'm ready to take on the day." I used to be so groggy when my alarm went off. Many days I would reach over and turn it off without even waking up (if that's not a magical power, I don't know what is). But now, thanks to using my breath and a few other tools, waking up is much less...painful.

The beauty of our breath is that oxygen is the food for our cells, and they need a lot of it to function in a healthy way. Our lymph system is the body's waste management department and moves toxins out of your body. By taking really deep breaths, you feed your cells and move lymph fluid through your body, cleansing & regenerating YOU.

"There is no single more powerful - or more simple - daily practice to further your health and well being than breathwork.
- Andrew Weil, M.D.

Living water + live foods

Of all the gifts I have in my life, I have to say that water is my favorite. Water in and of itself is fascinating. It's the only substance on Earth that is less dense as a solid. This single property is responsible for much of life because it's what allows animals to survive in the water even when its freezing. The less dense ice floats to the top and creates a type of insulation on the water's surface that protects the life below.  (Tony Robbins did not teach me that. I learned it in college Biology and use it as a party fact whenever I get the chance).

What Tony Robbins did teach me, however, is how vital water and water-rich foods are to my health and well-being. He recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces each day. I've been doing this since leaving UPW, and my body is SO happy. My skin is glowing and clear and I feel like a million bucks. I've also been focusing on eating foods that have most of their natural water content (raw greens, raw cucumbers, fruits, etc) and I feel way lighter and more energetic.

Water is magical. Tony shared so many studies where doctors used water as a placebo or as a prescription (that one was done in a prison) and it worked to cure people. I actually got rather sick a couple of weeks ago and used LOTS of water, vitamin C and some eucalyptus oil steams to heal myself. Who needs antibiotics when you have WATER?!

Alkalizing

By far the most fascinating part of the health and wellness day was learning about alkalinity. Science says touch your toes. I mean...science says that disease (dis-ease) cannot thrive in an alkaline environment. This means if your body is alkaline you are way less likely to get cancer, heart disease, common colds or any other number of ailments that flourish in acidic environments.

Learning about alkalinity turned me into even more of a science geek than I already was. Right after UPW I bought a pH testing kit, which is a fancy name for a piece of paper that you pee on and compare to a color wheel. The ideal pH for a body is 7.36. It's just slightly alkaline but is the optimal environment for healthy cells to thrive and sick cells to die. 

As a self-proclaimed healthy person I was certain that I would be totes alkaline already. So the day after UPW, I pulled out my handy dandy kit and used it. 6.4. Whaaaat? That was one of the most alarming moments of my life, only falling behind finding a lump in my breast and running out of almond butter when I was making a smoothie yesterday. 

Tony challenged us to an alkalizing cleanse where we were asked to cut out: all caffeine, all sugar, all meat, all dairy, ALL FUN. The meat and dairy was easy...but caffeine?! I thought coffee was good for you. In fact, I'm pretty sure I read that in a super legit publication that was totally true. But alas, I decided I could do 30 days to alkalize my body and give my adrenals a break.

I am proud to say that I have now made it over 30 days, and while I miss the smell and the taste and the ritual, I'm really glad I did it. Coffee is amazing, but in truth never made me feel that great. My energy is steadier now, and I'm dancing way more (read my Pop up dance party post to understand why). And as of yesterday, I'm alkaline! *Pats herself on the back*

So Tony Robbins more or less upended my life and destroyed my favorite pastime, and I want to give him a big kiss on the mouth for it. There were so many more powerful elements to our health that he shared and I'm sure they'll make their way into my future posts one way or another. 

 

The power of your peer group

I went to Tony Robbins with a crew of 50 incredible, charismatic, powerful, silly humans that were ready to level up.  When I first heard about UPW, I was interested but didn't know if it would be worth the time or money. Once I found out how many of my awesome friends were going, I was sold. They were the single biggest factor affecting my choice to go, and I'm so grateful for their influence because it was exactly what I needed.

The Love Tribe.

The Love Tribe.

I knew this group was something special, but was totally blown away by the collective energy and support that I experienced throughout the event. Even today we have an active chat where we ask for advice, send love, and keep each other in peak state.

My personal experience with this rad group of people coupled with Tony's teachings on the power of your peer group made a lasting impact in my life. Tony taught that the secret to wealth and power is to be a team player because we'll do more for others than we'll ever do for ourselves. He urged us to join a team of people who make you have to  grow because you care so much about them.  To find a team that will challenge you, not just support you.

People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. 
-Tony Robbins

It was such a joy to be with a powerful group of people unashamed to live life on their terms. The level at which all of these people are playing is high, and it encourages me to play full out, heart open, in the fullest expression of myself.

Our group's energy (or maybe it was the crazy outfits) garnered us a lot of attention. So much, in fact, that an admiring husband and wife passed us this beautiful note.

The Love Note.

The Love Note.

As a result of my Tony Robbins experience I have even more gratitude for my community and the way we inspire and uplift each other. I'm taking steps to be more intentional about what I do with my time and who I spend it with. For example, this past weekend a group of us volunteered with KEEN - Kids Enjoy Exercise Now - a group dedicated to bringing sports and play to children with disabilities. It was a beautiful experience that filled my love cup to the brim and made me even more grateful for the people in my life. 

Unleash the power within

I walked on fire. Two thousand two hundred degree red hot coals. With my bare feet.

A few weeks ago I went to Tony Robbin's Unleash the Power Within weekend. It was incredible, transformational, beyond words. We had a group of 50 inspiring humans - The Love Tribe - that went together. Most of us are Burners and have bonded over crazy journeys and intense dust storms on the Playa. We were ready to take things to the next level.

After four 12+ hour days, my brain was so full of information I wasn't sure which end was up. But now that I've had a few weeks to implement these changes in my life, I feel much clearer on the impact.  I'll share a different takeaway each day this week, so tune in to the blog to follow along.

The power of peak state

I am 100% in charge of how I feel. I can change my state in an instant. 

By fully using the body your creator gave you, you experience all of the gifts that you were given. One of the greatest gifts we have is the ability to use our physical state to shift our emotional state. We often feel stuck, depressed, or tired because we are fixating on our problem and keeping ourselves in that state, not realizing we have the power to change things. 

This is one of the most powerful things I have ever learned. Just by doing a power move, shouting "yes!," or shaking my booty I can completely alter the way that I feel. And this is important because state is the most important part of a breakthrough. When you change your state, you can change your life, which is exactly how I walked on fire. We spent hours learning to shift our state so much that our bodies would be protected as we marched across the blazes.

As a result of the weekend, I now have 2 key practices in my life that help me stay in a beautiful state every day. 

Priming

I am a woman of rituals. Over the past few years I've discovered how important they are for connecting me to the truth of who I am. For almost a year I've had a daily meditation practice, and I'm grateful to have a new technique to add in to my mornings. 

Tony talks about priming yourself in the morning so that you set the tone for your day, rather than letting outside influences dictate how you feel. He taught us this great 10 minute exercise that has made a profound impact in my life. Here it is:

1 minute of breathing
Borrowing from yoga, kapalabhati (breath of fire) breathing brings extra oxygen to your body, wakes you up and clears your mind.

3 minutes of gratitude
Pick 3 things you're grateful for and spend 1 minute meditating on each of them. Gratitude brings you into a loving, vulnerable state.

3 minutes of healing
Imagine a blue light entering through the crown of your head and spreading through every inch of your body, bringing physical and emotional healing. Once you feel complete, visualize that light being sent out to heal those that you love.

3 minutes of visualization
Choose 3 goals that you have (big or small) and spend 1 minute on each of them. Visualize successfully achieving each one. What would it look like? Feel like? Sound like?

Pop up dance party

There is no better way to change your state in an instant than by shaking your booty. It immediately puts a smile on your face and elevates your mood.

My partner and I started a new tradition called "Pop up dance party." It's simple: pick a song, turn it on, and yell, "pop up dance party!" then commence dancing. Anyone around you is compelled to join, and once a pop up dance party has been called on you, you can call one at any time. Try it. I think you'll like it.

Check in tomorrow for my post about the power of your peer group and why the people you spend your time with matter so much.