Thursday, January 24, 2013

RIP...hard to do when you're alive

Most of us are in turbo mode...doing doing doing going going going all the time. When it comes to rest, at least for me, I sometimes have a hard time with it. Especially when it beckons at inconvenient times. For example, yesterday I set out to tackle a huge list of to-do's. But in the morning I found myself feeling kind of sick and lightheaded. I was all dressed and ready to go out the door, jacket on, boots on, bag packed. And then, something told me to open up my laptop and do just a few emails. So I did, in my jacket and boots. And when I was done I was exhausted. So then something told me to take a break and rest. And so I did. I thought I'd do this for only an hour and then take off. But then something told me to just let myself have the rest of the day off. So I watched netflix and took a nap.  I was about 80% okay with this.  I knew that my body was signaling to chill out.  And pulled some fancy trick moves to lure me into a day of rest that clearly my mind wasn't set on doing. I proceeded into the day with caution....suspicious and ready to judge in a flash: "are you being lazy?" "are you just shying away from what needs to get done?" A higher knowing, a delicate knowing kept on.  Today's posts demonstrate to me a flood of creative juice that was restored from yesterday. I've been meaning to blog for a while...and doing nothing yesterday filled up my tank.... even though I was keeping a watch-out for this rest stuff to be a ploy.  Resting in peace is not really encouraged in our "being-productive-and-fast-like-machines-society" but it works to keep us most alive.

Losing All My Confidence in Taco Shop

It's now been about 3.5 months since I moved to San Francisco so the space is emerging for me to reflect on the (unexpected) shock of landing on the West Coast.

When Ilya and I decided to move it all happened fast...we packed up our lives in six weeks. I thought we'd just transplant and I'd continue my life and business where I left off. No problem.

Instead I arrived in California and woke up the next morning feeling so disoriented that I wanted to jump out of my body.

Looking through the stacks of boxes I could see life outside my window. People going to work... cars zooming by. The day was sunny and I felt mocked by its beauty. I felt like double crap...because everything else seemed to shine.

There was no food in the fridge. Seamless in San Francisco isn't as seamless as it is in New York (uhhh, delivery charge and it takes an hour!). I was hungry. And I had to go out for food. I had to face streets unknown, grocery aisles anew, and people from a different land.

I thought to myself, "Stella, step out, explore! Find a new place to eat." And then, I thought, "Fuck you. I don't want to explore. Why is this feeling so difficult. Shouldn't this be exciting?!"

I spotted a taco place that looked cool. It was lunch time. I walked in and it was buzzing. Mexican women authoritatively commanded one to report their order fast. Start-up dudes waited in line, elbowing each other, laughing, talking about selling their third business for lots of zeros. Sports were on one tv, news on the other. It seemed so loud, so busy (hellooo, spoken from a woman who lived 6 blocks from Times Square). Everyone seemed in on a way of being that I was not.

Suddenly I felt like the new girl. I felt like I was 9 again, and just moved to New Jersey from Texas. Everyone and everything felt intimidating. I didn't know what kind of tacos I wanted! I didn't want to sit by myself! I didn't want to watch sports!

"What's happening to me?" I panicked. "Come on Stella - are you seriously afraid to sit down here? Who are you Stella? What's wrong with you?" I turned around and left quickly. I got some takeout next door and practically ran home to cry.

That instance wasn't about the taco shop, it wasn't about California, it wasn't about my confidence. It was about being in the process of releasing all that I knew and saying, "welcome," to the unknown packaged in way I would have never consciously asked for but actually had been asking for all along. I was experiencing pure creation and at the beginning of a new adventure.

To be continued...

Nothing is Something Continued ...Epiphany from a Cabbie Part 1

As some of you may know I recently moved from NYC to San Francisco. Both cities are brilliant in their own ways. The cab system in San Francisco, not being one of them.

That said, I experienced total grace in the back seat of two cabs the day before yesterday, so maybe there is light in this transit situation. This is Part 1 of my cab story epiphanies.

Cab dude #1: So what do you do?
Stella: I create fun experiences for people at work so they can be happier
Cab dude #1: Oh, that's nice. You should do something for the Yellow Cab company.
Stella: I'd love that. I'm sure it's a stressful job doing what you do.
Cab dude #1: My job, not at all.
Stella thinking: Ohhh. Unexpected answer. Don't assUme, Stellaaaah!
Stella: Really, tell me more about that.
Cab dude #1: It's actually really easy to make people happy. For example, when I hear it's someone's birthday or anniversary, I'll just offer them a ride for free. It's unbelievable how much happiness this gives them. An 87 year old woman once told me this was the nicest thing anyone has every done for her. She started to cry.
Stella: Wow.
Stella feeling: Love, oneness, gratitude for being in this moment and receiving this story.
Cab dude #1: Yeah, so it's easy to make a difference in someone's day just with something small.
Stella: You are changing lives in your cab everyday. What a blessing.
Cab dude #1: One time I left a club, feeling I was feeling generous, you know. It was really cold that night and a homeless guy approached me asking for change. He's a black guy but his hands were blue. I told him, here's $100, go buy some gloves. Three years later I come out of that club, again, and he sees me, "Hey, I remember gave that $100. That night was the best night of my life...I got a hotel room and three big macs...Look what I have now...that was an important night for me." He showed me his small business, he washes cars outside of the club. So you see a little thing I think is not a big deal...really changed that guy's life. It's amazing.
Stella: You can certainly changed my day with your story. Thank you for sharing. Do you mind if I share this with others?

Your Nothing is Something

The other morning, as happens many days and moments, my love, my partner in life, showered me with appreciation. We were in the middle of getting ready over breakfast. He caught me as I was cleaning off the countertop and said, "I'm so grateful for the space you create for me, I wouldn't be who I was without your support, you are amazing." I heard the words. I thanked him and looked at him and felt/thought, "wow, it's amazing that you feel this. I'm so grateful to have someone who has the capacity to appreciate in this way and also see me for someone I don't always see myself as." And then I continued to clear kitchen.

I didn't totally ingest or integrate his words - I just observed them. In fact, beyond appreciating him for saying them, at that moment, in between making coffee and cleaning off the countertop, I pretty much shrugged at the content of what he was saying.

I didn't know what he was really referencing...I felt I didn't deserve such heartfelt showering of appreciation. Especially since I was behind on groceries, hadn't done my hair in while, and was a bit grumpalicious recently. What do I really do I thought that's so special?

What I realized was that it's not about what I do, it's about what I am. And I forgot that. So here's what I recently remembered in my bones and in my heart (even though I've known it in my head for a while)...

  • Just because you're not "doing anything" that feels hard or looks like effort doesn't mean it's not valuable or life changing. 
  • The biggest gift you can offer people is being present. Fully listening to them. Not anticipating your thoughts. Being with them without judgement or naming or labeling something. This profoundly simple experience of just being, the act of doing nothing, is something.
  • It's something only in that it offers a sense of freedom and light to those in your presence and this world. And this access to something beyond the mind, the chatterbox raceway of thoughts, the collision of past and future ruminations, this peace is divine.
And so I realized, after two ivy league degrees, some decent accomplishments in business, and tons of pushing and preparation and hard work...that my biggest gift to the world is not what I know or do but is my surrendering to the moment and being still.  

Take that to your next meeting. Or dinner with your love. Or as you sit in your car. Or as you wash the dishes. Know that you are divine and beyond enough and worth praise beyond words for being just as you are. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Finding home

I just moved 36 days ago from New York to San Francisco. Other than a semester abroad, I've always been within about an hour's drive to my family and friends. The past five weeks have shown me much turbulence and growth. All I which I welcome and will further reflect on when there is more space...

For now...I share a quickie to show the vulnerability of our adaptiveness, of our discomfort with uncertainty, and how the existential happens in between the aisles of down comforters and shower heads.

Yesterday I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond in San Francisco. Walking through the aisles I could feel myself get excited and relaxed at the same time. I stared at the things I could buy. I didn't want any of it. But still I gazed eagerly at it all. Drinking it all in. I noticed the distinct sensation of peace I felt, in contrast to what I've been holding since we landed in California.

I remembered shopping with my mom. And my house in New Jersey. I remembered starting my new home in New York. I could see flashes of all those decisions I made for creating numerous homes for the past 20+ years. I suddenly got transported out of the constant new in San Francisco to a place I knew. The familiarity of the lighting, the blue aprons worn by the clerks, the tall stacks of towels, and the awesome 20% off coupons nestled in my wallet washed me over with a soothing feeling. I found myself at home in Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

They say to lean into the discomfort, to get comfortable with the uncomfortable, that uncertainty is the only certainty. It's hard. So yesterday the universe gave me a hug...and I received some relief. I glanced quickly at a sense of stillness. For a moment I didn't have to discover, change, or learn anything - I could just be in midst of flannel sheets and glass tupperware.  And it was amazing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

7 steps for how not to feel bad for feeling bad.

Ever have a day when you know you have tons to be grateful for but still feel like shit? Don't feel bad about feeling bad. Judging your emotions actually stops the flow of information you're receiving. Which is the whole point of feelings. Feelings are another sense. The sixth sense. They allow us to navigate towards a better place. The more you bottle up your negative emotions, however uncomfortable they are, the more icky they become. Feelings just want to to be felt. Acknowledged. They want your attention. If you ignore them or disconfigure them - they'll just do all sorts of gymnastics to get your attention. And instead of showing you how to improve a situation, a relationship, yourself - their kungfu will get the best of you - until you're on your back with no other place to go.

So how exactly does one not feel bad about feeling bad? Or not bottle up without turning looney tunes? Or receive the info so they don't need to get beat up completely with all sorts of tough biznass. 

Well here's how:

1. Acknowledge that you feel like crapola. 
2. Know that it's not YOU who is the crapola, it's just a fleeting sensation.
3. Know that fleeting sensation will pass. I can't guarantee how long it will take. So you have to be patient. The more you lean into this - the easier it will subside.
4. Pretend you can actually see yourself from 30 feet above and watch yourself. Imagine who you are watching is just a little kid who is going through something. Would you tell that little kid they're a loser, weak, or bad for being where they're at?
5. I hope not.
6. Give an imaginary hug that little kid. Love that kid. 
7. Give yourself a break. Find a way to be quiet, sleep, exercise, scream, do whatever feels right in the moment to show yourself you care about you and that you're honoring where you are at. Even if this is inconvenient. Even if this takes time that you may think you don't have.

My inspiration for The i Scream Truck came out of this process. Instead of judging myself for wanting to scream, I just let it happen. I acknowledged that something was up and that I wasn't crazy for feeling so overwhelmed. I chose not beat myself up for my emotions, but rather just acknowledged and expressed them with some screaming. Afterwards I felt tons better. 

If this resonates with you take one minute and 10 bucks to contribute to The i Scream Truck campaign to generate inner peace one block at a time!

With much love,

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Loving myself

Back in 2010 when shit hit the fan on a personal level - I set out on a quest to figure out how to love myself. What does it mean to really love yourself? Is it regular mani-pedi's? Exercise? Good diet? Daily affirmations?

About two years later I think I've finally gotten the swing. The love comes from listening to myself. And not judging. And listening to myself. And not judging.

It's not easy to listen to myself hear say, "Stella, you're not going to work today - you've been working too hard all weekend, so you're going to have to do nothing this Monday." Or, "Stella, you want that chocolate cake like it's nobody's business, just go for it!" Or, "Stella, the answer isn't clear now, but trust that its on its way." Or, "Stella, even though everyone says it doesn't make sense, this is something you've got to do - so just do it." It's not easy to hear such messages without judgement.

It's felt like a wrestling match at times - to go down the path of listening despite what I thought I "should do." But the more I trust the listening and do it without judgement, the happier I am.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

knock knock...anybody there?

I'm not sure if anyone is out there anymore. But I miss Positively Stella. It's the day before I test my first early prototype of the i scream truck - something I've been dreaming up for a long time. I felt kinda blah today. I took myself out for a walk and kept whipping out all the positive interventions I usually do for a lift: gratitude, visualizations, distractions, mantras - non of it making much of a dent in my state of whateverness-wtf-am-i-doing-ness-is-this-crazy-and-does-it-matter-ness. Then I saw a cab drive by advertising the lotto for a $110MM. I asked myself - what would I do differently if I had that money? And my answer was: exactly the same thing I'm doing right now. Sure, I'd have nicer bags, a dishwasher, travel some more - but the slight relief from anti-climaticism came there. Realizing that I'm living my dream. And while I have no clue if will all transpire - I at least know that I have no regrets for not giving it a crazy go right now. I told my boyfriend, Ilya, about my not feeling the butterflies today and he said so wisely, "the stars would not shine if there were no darkness." I don't remember where he got that from - but I'm so glad I got him. Love, S

Sunday, September 11, 2011

OK, people. I know it's been a while. I've been busy launching my new biz, WOOPAAH! It's the whole reason I went back to school to learn about positive psychology. I'm only telling you so far. Still kinda hush, hush, soft-launchy. Bigger splashes to come. But here's the deal. I have a blog on that site. And need to figure out how to transition or make sense of in light of my WOOPAAH blog. Solution coming. But meanwhile, I'll just copy and paste. And double-post for now. It's my stuff and I can re-purpose if I want to! Hopefully that's cool with you for now. My best, S

Saturday, July 23, 2011

sweat as glue

It's 92 in NYC. Creeping up to 100. It's been the kind of heat where the breeze is so hot it makes you warmer, not cooler.

The other day (which was even hotter) I found myself pacing impatiently at the Christopher Street stop in the subway. As my legs slipped around each other glazed in sweat, my arms akimbo for ventilation, I noticed the scene around me: a mini dog's head flopped over its LV carrying bag like a lifeless bob, giving up. Mr. Banker man's light blue shirt was all dark blue. The homeless man just sat on the bench, looking like he normally does. The sexy girl's make-up was dripping, she seemed devastated. We all were quiet. Slow. Mouths open. Waiting and waiting for the 1 train with messed up service. Looking desperately into the tunnel for a sign of two lights.

What I realized in that moment was just how connected I felt to everyone there with me. Money, power, sex, brand names, hurts in heart, places traveled, degrees earned, good deeds done, crimes committed, whatever it was that we were or doing, had or strived for- none of that mattered. In that heat, on that platform, all that defined us as individuals was perspired away leaving each person in the same - wilted, breathing, and being. I felt each one of them.

I just think that's cool.