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.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Permission to Fumble

You know when you know something but just can't find the right words to articulate it? Or the right thoughts? But, you know that there's something there - whether it's a feeling you can't quite place, or a hunch of a good idea. This post is about giving yourself permission to fumble through the thick of it so you can land in a place of improved clarity. The key to fumbling as elegantly as possible - is to do the following:

1. Identify a "safe" person(s) to fumble with. By safe, I mean someone who is a good listener, non-judgmental, and authentically has your interests in mind. Even better if they're not vested in the outcome of what you're fumbling with.

2. Ask your safe person(s) for permission to fumble through and request what you need of them. "I just need you to listen." "Tell me what you hear me saying." "I don't know what I'm getting at...but think there's something, can you help me clarify?"

3. Pay attention to the mirror, mirror, on the wall. Face the fact that you might not actually want to hear what's coming out of your mouth. So really listen to what your safe listener is playing back for you.

4. Take mental or physical notes and then let some time pass. Let your subconscious speed up to your conscious. Your brain has wheels turning that our out of your control - and those parts work wonders. It's what happens when the AHA pops up. The best way to let that happen is to switch your attention to something other than what you're trying to resolve. Take a break.

5. Repeat this cycle with another safe person (s), or advance to the party that may be involved in either developing your idea or working through the issue you have.

Innovation, growth, progress only happen when we give ourselves permission to take risks into the unknown.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Consuming or Nurturing?

When making way for the new, consider what you can release. Maybe it's that book you are never going to read. Maybe it's the "friend" who is total drain-o (technical term for "depletes your energy"). Maybe it's clearing your bag of all those loose receipts. Maybe it's parting ways with t-shirts that are expired.

I once read that nature doesn't like holes. So if you create a new opening, a new space, fill it with something nurturing to seal the deal of goodness or the same stuff will just be attracted right back. You know how when you get a facial - they clear you out and then seal your pores? It's the same thing for everything.

If you're clearing a physical space, consider lighting candles, adding flowers, or performing some blessings. If you're clearing a relationship, make sure to fill your life with activities that fill you with positivity. Get the point?

One way to decide whether it's for keeps or not is to ask: is this consuming me or is it nurturing me?


Monday, June 13, 2011

inspired by a friend

a good friend just shared something brilliant with me and it was totally expanding. i was like, can i learn THAT?!?

she said, "i've been so busy focusing on what outcome i wanted, i didn't give any possibility for appreciating what just is. i've been trying to control the whole situation. and once i let it flow...i was met with something even bigger. not the package i wanted it in...but beyond GOOD. and, actually exactly what i needed."

hallo! let me get in on some of that action. ahhh, the tender place of envisioning, desiring, but being open to any outcome - for the masters.

sometimes you gots it. sometimes you don't.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Download

Today I met up with my business coach. It took me a while to seek out the support of someone else. After all, don't I advise thousands of women on entrepreneurship - shouldn't I have my own answers? Uhh. NO. Everyone needs someone. You can't do it alone. And that's the point of this post. So here we go:

It's been over two months since I saw her last. We're supposed to meet monthly. But to be honest, I put it off. I wanted to wait until I had some real "progress" to show her.

After ordering some divine fried chicken thingy, from the cool, local South Africa spot in my hood, she said, "Now, Stella. Stop judging yourself. Don't feel like you have to perfect for me. I'm not anyone you have to get "ready" for. I'm the one you can vent, you share, you can just BE wherever you are. That's the point. I'm here to help you."

AHHH. Yes. I're here to help me (not used to that). So we just talked. I gave her updates. She was super validating and enthusiastic. I shared some insecurities. I expressed things I hadn't quite worked out in my head. And then I left feel lighter, better, energized.

My coach is a trailblazing entrepreneur - many of you have probably enjoyed her products sold nationally throughout Whole Foods. She gives me some amazing biz advice. But what I think I really pay her for is the listening. It's the chance to give a messy, undigested download, and have a space to see it somewhere outside my head. When "IT" is out in the world - through spoken word to someone else - somehow I feel I have more space from within to analyze, resolve, create, innovate, and feel alive.

Don't underestimate the power of the download. If you are wrestling with anything, unsure, overwhelmed, or feeling a little ick - talk to someone. Literally, say, "Hey Friend or Coach or Stranger: Can you give me 10 minutes of just pure downloading time? I need to get somethings out of my head and all you have to do is just listen - this would help me work it out. Would be happy to do the same for you if you like."

I know this sounds small, duh, and you know it. But I needed a reminder. So thought I'd share. We need each other - even if it's just to be containers for downloads.

Now if you want to be an advanced, super container make sure you validate the feelings or experience of the downloader. Don't negate what's happening - just show the sharer that you care for them regardless of whatever they are sharing. We all need to feel that we're loved, valued, and worthy - despite any junk in the trunk.

Much love

Thursday, June 9, 2011


What's a track record anyway? It's your choosing to acknowledge certain actions led to certain results. But there are infinite track records - infinite tracks. So perhaps we shouldn't so rely on what served us before serves us now. Or what worked before is bound to work again. Or that just because it was "planned" it's the best choice in the moment.

I'm getting more and more comfy with what my friend Lisa says to me all the time, "Stella, you choose now. And you can choose again later...everything is allowed."

So I'm allowing myself to get more jiggy with changing my mind and making up my own rules. Because 1) everything is made up anyway, so might as well create it in a way that sings true to me and my values. 2) things changes, and to override the present because of a past intention feels more about proving something versus exercising integrity in the now.

As best as I can now..

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ready Freddy? A relief from anguished patience.

What does it mean to be ready? I actually looked it up on it means: "Prepared or available for service, action, or progress."

I've been coming off an impatient jag recently...questioning why things weren't the way I wanted them now (I'm wincing as I write this ... but yes, I was having an existential tantrum...NOW NOW NOW!). Why can't I be ready for X NOW? Why can't he be ready for me NOW? Why isn't it all happening NOW?!? Why is the time not NOW? Why haven't I launched it yet? (Note to reader: This is not a recent jag - this is an-all-my-life-I've-been-feeling-this-restless-kinda-jag...I just happen to be recently coming off of it - settling into something else).

So I've been asking myself:
Prepared? What else I have been doing but preparing?!?
Available? I've created a big huge space for available...hello?!?
What else am I to do? If it's not happening does it mean I can't handle it? Does it mean I have more work to do? Is there something wrong with me? Please, please, whoever is in charge, don't tell's just because I'm not ready! I'm not feeling that ANSWER. are some alternative answers I came up to self soothe...check them out...They appeared through two events that shined the light on the complexity of that which I have been calling, "readiness."

1. A hangover
2. Very healthy and strong nails

What the hangover taught me about "readiness"
I had a great night on Saturday at a friend's b-day and spent most of my Sunday recovering. I'm not a big drinker, at all. So it's been a while since I felt this sweet. I tried to stay in bed but couldn't. I tried to work - forget it. I spent time with a friend for bfast - positive and distracting but I still wanted to throw up afterwards. What to do?

Nothing. But let it take it's course. I felt a familiar tug pointing me to look up and see the answer about my readiness examination. Saying, see, see, Stella, you just got to sit with it. Not much for you to do here. So, I took some Excedrin, and finally fell asleep. I emerged a NEW WOMAN! God was I grateful for my body working this out. I felt victorious. I felt AWESOME. All I did was relax. Hmmm.

What my nails taught me about readiness
There was a time when I covered my nails with fake stuff so I would have one less appointment every few weeks - so worth it (I guess). But I stopped because I couldn't find a good lady to replace the one I cherished. Suddenly it was just me, my natural and wilted nails from overly chemicalized treatment, and some pain.

So what to do? Well, not much. I tended to them as best I could. Bought some vitamins. And let, again, my body and time do its work. This week I looked down at them and realized, woah, they're back! They are rockin! Lookin FINE.

So what's the lesson? How have I appeased myself so as not to consider myself a failure because the things I've so been moving towards are still moving their way towards me? Well, if you think the message here is JUST WAIT, it will all work out - that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, just LIVE, do what feels right in the moment, and one day, one day, dear Stella, and dear reader, you'll wake up and the shift would have occurred, effortlessly actually - because you were totally present in your life.

I'm done trying to clutch onto a virtue of which I have none (patience). It's not about patience or waiting. There is not waiting. There is just BEING.

So here's to being as full as you are, just right now. Which is perfect. Relaxing or doing. Preparing or not. Available or Occupied. Fresh and chipper or smelling like last night's cocktail. It's all good. And none of it is missing anything. It's not incomplete. So long as I'm plugged into this perspective I feel whole. I don't feel like I'm missing anything, like I'm longing to be any where but here, and the restlessness, oh that constant tug, well, it feels ever-so-slightly more peaceful. For which the tiniest droplet of that rest - I am grateful.


Friday, June 3, 2011

When you feel like you're missing something, realize you have everything already.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I must have been ON

The other day I was walking down the street to buy some quick groceries for an impromptu dinner party in my back yard. I quickly changed into my first summer dress of the season. The sun was just setting. I just got a mani-pedi. The breeze was warm. And the fog of sadness that I had been experiencing that week (oh romance) started to clear up.

Walking briskly to the market I made eye contact with a man who smiled big at me. As we were about to pass one another he held up his hand for me and I gave him a big high-five. And we both kept walking. We didn't lose a beat. If you were an observer you would think we were long-time neighbors. But I never saw this dude in my life, nor can I recall what he looks like.

It was the most brilliant exchange and gave me so much light. It was a "yeah, high-five to life mf'ers, we are all connected human beings" kinda moment. I LOVED it.

While random and so small it was my personal sign that everything is all good and will be all good.

I often use NYC streets as my mirror. I try to make eye contact with strangers. Gauging by their response, my energy. Sometimes I get tons of warm affection - and people who I don't know feel very familiar. Other times, I find, I can barely get a glance from the throngs.

We experience what we put out. And I'm so grateful for that mini-moment - totally affirming and celebrating. A little file I will put away for days when I need a high-five.


Non-Violent Confrontation with a Moth

I just worked out. Sweaty. Excited to feel a cool shower. I move the shower curtain out of the way and something huge flies out. Holy shit! I scream. F+CK. I don't like having to deal with insects. Damnnnnnnn. Jumbo Moth calmly hides itself on the upper reaches of my medicine cabinet. Fine. (But you better not eat my clothes MF'er).

I finish my shower. Dry off. And know that I have to deal with it. Come out come out wherever you are.

I open my medicine cabinet and it's hanging out on the brim. But it's still steamy and I can't see that well. My glasses are off. And when I put them on they just fog up. "You've got to be kidding me," I mentally declare to the moth/man/world higher up's.

Can't you just leave or somehow not be here! Seriously, I don't have time to deal with this right now.

I stare at it. As I do with all bugs who come into my space (or so I think it's mine). I'm hoping it has ESP and will somehow catch up to my thoughts - knowing what's good for it, and peacefully depart.

The problem is that there is no way out. My window is shut. I'm still naked. The medicine door, if I let go to open the window will swing shut. And then Jumbo Moth will be squashed or tumbling around with my floss, lotion, etc. Uhhhh. And then dealing with opening up the cabinet only to have it fly into my face is not an option.

Quick thinking I create a MacGyver-like prop with some "Purity" face wash - it keeps the medicine cabinet from fully swinging shut. I cover myself up quickly with my towel - now free to open my window as high as possible without flashing my Super.

Then I tell it, OK. You can go now. Just go.

But it won't. So I start blowing on it.

Can't you feel the breeze of my breath? Move it!


So then I start to mentally bargain and be nice. OK Mr. Moth, it's been great knowing you, thanks for stopping by, you can seriously just take off now.


Fine. I get out a magazine and it starts to flutter. And fly. Oh no! It's all around. Ahhhh. I'm in a steamy box, naked, with a Jumbo Moth that has no navigational sense. What if it flies into me and sticks to my skin? (Amazing the imagination, isn't it?). Its wings flap so fast it feels like it has thousands of wings. I'm so freaking out.

And then it's out. Right out the window! The chaos and frenzy disappear. Silence and stillness.

I shut the window FAST. YES!

I raise my arms victorious. Jumping up and down in my bathroom.

This felt big for me. Profound. I'm not sure if there is necessarily a big AHA here or lesson. But dealing with this on my own (versus asking a boyfriend or my mom) made me feel quite competent. Maybe there's something in this about fear? About dealing? About letting go instead of squashing? I'm not going to over analyze this one - just relish feeling quite proud, relieved, and ready to take on the next challenge. Yeah baby. Thanks Jumbo.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pleasure, A Close Cousin to Negative Emotion

I started another blog post but got hungry. While searching for some research on my post, I found this paragraph below that I wrote in my capstone for grad school. Because I'm craving a yummy breakfast - I'm taking the easy way out of this post opportunity by copying and pasting something else I wrote. Read and you'll see how my hunger/ desire for food is affecting this opportunity for expansion, for giving you something bigger:

"I want to distinguish the difference between positive emotions and bodily pleasures. While they feel good, bodily pleasures do not function like positive emotions. The positive experience of sexual stimulation, a massage, yummy chocolate cake, or a warm blanket on a cold winter day, do not lead the way to flourishing. In fact, bodily pleasures are close cousins to negative emotions by the way they similarly narrow one’s mindset to focus on satisfying a desired action. Unlike negative emotions, rather than moving away from something [like danger], we are drawn to the craved experience (Fredrickson, 2009)."

Pleasure isn't bad, it just doesn't necessarily lead you to being your biggest self, to growing, to expanding - because you can't look up until satisfied. There's a role for pleasure, because damn, it feels good! Just know it has limits on how it can actually serve your intentions.

Quickly signing off for some bruncheroo action.


Fredrickson, B. L. (2009). Positivity. New York: Crown Publisher.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Boundaries in Boundlessness

The challenge of being a human is that you have two arms, two legs, one head, and so on. You have 24 hours. And you have needs that need to be met - like sleep, food, sex, friends, family, money, etc.

Yet. At the same time. You are limitless. You are boundless. The possibilities for your imprint have no horizon.

Everyone great has the same limits you do. Everyone has the same time. I know you and your problems are special - so are mine. But so what?

So what are you going to do with your limits? Use them as a creative challenge. Use them to rub you into action. Use them to squeeze, to wrap, to wind, to twist around, in, between, above, and below. Be like water with them - flow, with ease, get through the cracks, rush with elegance, cleanse the unclean, nourish the dry, give life to what's yet to be born.

Use your boundaries as a way to get into your boundlessness.

Doing my best to expand with flow. As much for me as this is for you.

numb is dumb - hope is dope

Stress, shock, stuff that sucks - is inevitable. But how you deal can have big effects on your health. I was reading Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup - one of my favorite books. Most transforming. And I re-found this:

People who see their situation as hopeless actually release opioidlike substances (enkephalins) that numb cells of their bodies - making them incapable of destroying cancer cells and bacteria. It's not stress that creates immune problems, it's the perception of stress being inescapable. It's the feeling of not having control that kind of tells your cells - indeed, you are not in control.

What's disarming, mysterious, and wild is how sometimes our beliefs (established perceptions of the world) are lodged deep - so much so we don't even know (as in consciously, with our intellect).

So what do with this:
1. Be open to the fact that you may be a passenger to certain beliefs that don't serve you.
2. Know that you can un-do them or find them out with the help of hypnotherapy and other mental/spiritual health professionals.
3. Let yourself feel it. Cry if you want to cry. Scream if you want to scream. Move if you want to move. Don't ask why first - let yourself experience and the answer will come after.
4. Remember, you can create beliefs, destroy beliefs, and choose beliefs. You are in control.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Thank you 20's

On the last 24 hours of my 20's here I go.

Thank you life for what you are.
Thank you lessons for getting me here.
Thank you loved ones. Family. Blood. Friends who are family. New friends. Strangers. People I pass on the street who smile. Thank you all.
Thank you NYC for being my home.
Thank you cozy-1-br-with-bricks-and-patches-of-friendly-grass.
Thank you coffee for my mornings.
Thank you body for being there, each second. Working beyond my knowing. Being my knowing.
Thank you possessions. My mac, my phone, my green t-shirt, my glasses, my key chains, my fur, my candles, my new laptop bag, my socks, soft toilet paper, great bronzer, all things, thank you.
Thank you universe. For today. For every moment up to now. For now. For what's to come. For it all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

How Success Sucks: The Anti-Climax

This theme has been coming up a lot amongst my friends and clients (and I experienced it a few times myself) so thought I'd dig into this rather unspoken context: the messy, anti-climactic, depressing nature of success.

If you are feelin it, just know, I think you're normal.

I recently started another Incubator Workshop, reveling in the bad-ass-you-go-girl-you-rock-my-world entrepreneurs that I have the privilege of knowing and working with. In just 9 months one of my participants created a jewelry line that's ready to be sold on QVC and she is entertaining offers to sell her company before even officially launching (HOT). Even though she is making her wildest dreams come true she confessed, after receiving her product fully manufactured, and showing and telling in the Incubator: "I'm so ready to be done with this shit. I cried my eyes out for days when I received the final product. I'm exhausted. I don't know why I feel this way. But I'm done. I'm over it. Is there something wrong with me?"

Another friend who recently put her NYC pad up for sale and got an offer in two weeks calls me shakily, "Stell, I'm tender. This couldn't have gone better...but I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm out of it. I'm not myself. I'm trying my hardest to keep it together."

Had I not experienced a total melt-down after pulling off a supremely awesome conference in November, I wouldn't have been able to understand what my friends/clients are going through. After Dream it! Launch it! Live it! - a-couldn't-have-asked-for-anything-more-successful-conference, I totally lost it. I couldn't finish my sentences. I was depressed. I was ickey and anxious and irritable. WTF?

So here's my theory: the process of creation is F'in uncomfortable. In fact, if you think about how babies are born, it's usually painful. Moving from one state into total newness means leaving or departing from something you know. In creation, there may be destruction of the former. Postpartum isn't just for moms - it can apply to anyone birthing new ideas into life. Perhaps the ick factor of success realized can be contributed to mourning the loss of the old (baby in belly, idea in heart, life as it was) contrasted with vulnerable, here-I-am-finally-here anticipated results.

I'm not saying all success comes with pain or anti-climax, just saying, if you happen to be lucky enough to ARRIVE, and it's not all you thought, and you're not feeling what you expected, you may just be experiencing some normal, uncomfortable, tension - and you're not messed up.

So what's the remedy? My remedy to most things is gratitude. Drinking in the privilege of the moment. Staying present. So present. Don't feel guilty, don't feel bad, just do your best to be loose, relaxed, and nurture yourself with rest.

I guess this is a long way of affirming, "it's about the journey and not the destination."

Does this make sense to anyone? Have you experienced this?


Monday, April 18, 2011

Play Tour: Upper West Side

You know when you just feel "uggh.." that's how I was feeling for a few days. Maybe it was the non-stop rain, hormones, or the pressure I put on myself. Whatever it was, the un-enthusiasm I had for the past few days was totally un-inspiring. If I can't feel the flow, the magnificence, the wonder - than how the hell can I lead others in that direction? I see fixing my crunk as not only personally beneficial but also as public service (which is how we should all see it in my opinion). 1) because negative emotions are contagious 2) i'm not giving my best if i don't feel happy. There is a time and place for negative emotion. I value negativity. So I honored it - examined it - and chose to manipulate as much as I could to ascend beyond the pits of blah.

I started on Saturday, but didn't nip it in the bud. So I continued hard core on Sunday. I reached for whatever interventions were closest, easiest, and required least planning.

Imagine your emotions along a continuum...I was doing whatever I could to budge up just one notch. With each notch I felt flow and momentum sweep me up to a new level. All you have to do is inch, and the rest is handled. Just make a decision to shift and you're already on your way.

Manipulating your mood - to feel authentically better (I'm talking without drugs) - is a bit experimental. See it as that. Some things will work. Others won't. Some will work sometimes and not other times. Just keep trying. Don't get discouraged. Figuring out what does the trick is also revealing - it might also help expose the root.

On Sunday I literally dropped everything to focus on me - and what would make me happy. I had plans for a lot of work and being "productive" - but creating out of crunkiness is not what I want to let out in this world.

So here's what I resorted to...

1. Music - didn't really work
2. Exercise - didn't really work
3. Delicious breakfast: scrabbled eggs with tomatoes and goat cheese, date/tamarind dipping sauce, sprout salad on the side. And good coffee. And a good book. - Now we're talking. Started to feel better.
4. Youtubing spiritual talks - bingo! I needed to hear what I already knew. So easy to forget. It's helpful to have another voice coach you. You do know it all (somewhere deep inside)...but it's hard to integrate in isolation. Sometimes reading, listening, or watching someone you find inspiring can do the trick.
6. Putting on make-up - looking good helps. Studies prove it.
7. Taking a long-ass walk - wandered 40 or so blocks on the upper west side with great music. I sang it outloud. I grooved down the sidewalks. Music helped me now because I was budged up a notch.
8. Stumbling into different stores along my long-ass walk. I let myself discover, wander, and appreciate newness.
9. Taking pictures along the way - enabled both savoring of beauty and moments and also built up memory box of feeling good.
9. Visiting the Planetarium in the Natural History Museum in NYC - I have a new fascination with stars. I just visited the Planetarium in Boston last week. I remembered it made me feel good. So I did it again. I couldn't handle brainstorming and researching activities in NYC - so I did what I knew would work.
10. Being with a friend. I made sure to schedule time with a friend on a Sunday night. Sunday nights are always a bit extra ughh for me. They bring me back to school-nights. So giving myself something to look forward to is key.
11. Buying roses for me.
12. Buying gifts for friends.
13. Writing thank you notes on note cards I really dig.
14. Going to sleep, like now.

up a few notches.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Play Tour: Boston Museum of Science

I LOVED the Boston Museum of Science. I was reminded in traveling through the cosmos in the Planetarium and in watching the Lightening Show that we are made up of the stuff of the universe, that we are electric, that we are magnetic, that we are small, like the earth is relative to the thousands of planets out, but yet, we are each special.

As I write I want to delete. Because ugghh, such regular words don't capture the heightened sensation of connectiveness, awe, and delight that I got from receiving and engaging in the discoveries of the galaxy.

The thing with museums, which is my one thing against them, is that they require a lot of reading. Unless you happen to know it all. The reading is exhausting and interrupts the flow.

Overall, though. It was fun. I didn't want to leave.

In terms of the actual place. I think their strengths are in providing interactive, dynamic exhibits. They scatter topics and vary topics - so you are bound to find something you like. There's always a "show" playing or a demo of something happening. While design-wise it feels like a mall and is way too shiny and aesthetically un-inventive, the content and curation of content make it amazing.

This was play for two big ones:
1. Discovery - I learned, I got to choose my own path throughout the museum, I was surprised by the content.
2. Wonder - I reveled in the magnitude of what's possible. what could me more wonder-inspiring?
3. The whole point of the experience was to align, absorb, and engage in the wonders of life - all that was required was showing up with curiosity. That's play for moi.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Play Tour: Laughing Yoga in Brooklyn

Friday night. Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Loft space with illustrated floors, lively plants, treasures scattered around the room wanting you to look.

There were eight of us. Two of us new to Laughter Yoga. Me being one of them.

There was just a tad of, "oh boy, Stella, why are you here?"

We started out in a circle and introduced ourselves as vegetables. I was a juicy tomato still warm from the sun. Others were asparagus, creamy avocado, crispy english cucumber, sexy radish, spicy hot, red pepper, garlic, and beet. We lovingly put something "in" to the circle and also "released" something from the circle. I put "in" Playing Big and I released "hesitation."

There we were, a whole day's worth of vitamins. Uncertain of how it would go.

So we did all sorts of silly things to make the faking fun such as giving our sexy laugh, giving our timid laugh, etc. We pretended to be animals, we moved our hips, we rolled our tongues out, and I rolled around all over the ground - one of my favorite moments. We spoke in laugh like it was words. We played Hokey Pokey in laugh. And eventually I got to a point where I watched myself laughing - almost like breathing - without consciously faking it. I was just, well, laughing.

The whole idea of Laughter Yoga is "fake it till you make it" + Improv. It's like William James, famous psychologist said, feelings follow action. So do what you want to be and eventually you'll be it.

This session was total play for me because:
1. I felt free to move my body and my voice
2. There was uncertainty and invention in each step
3. I was challenged and I took risks
4. I enjoyed it
5. It created intimacy with new friends

It's not for everyone. You have to be open to being a fool. But is life worth living if you don't risk that?

On my way to Boston for the next play pit stop. Going to 5wits at Foxborough and the Boston Science Museum.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

No pity party

Usually I assign meaning to events. By meaning, I mean, "oh, well, even though that sucked, look at what you learned, or, look how you've grown, or, if that never happened, this would have never happened." That's what I mean by meaning.

Assigning meaning to events helps cope with unexpected, perhaps, less than desired, outcomes. It gives you a way to rationalize what doesn't make sense. To wrap your head around it.

But it also is beyond that. At least for me. I believe it's about discovering the order of the world, and the truth.

Some of us don't notice meaning when we're coasting and life is good. We only find it when things go awry. But there are signs and connect-the-dots readily available to us all the time. We just have to open our eyes and choose to see.

Choosing to create meaning is about choosing a positive perspective. It doesn't mean you ignore loss, or disappointment, but you choose to create something positive from it.

This type of stuff comes in handy when you are:
1. Feeling like a victim
2. Are disappointed
3. Experience loss
4. Are in need of hope
5. Need affirmation you're on the right path

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today I officially start documenting my Play Tour. The Play Tour is an effort for me to experience and learn what play really means. I'm launching a new business to help us all get a little more play in our lives. More details coming soon.

For the play tour I'll be traveling around the U.S. and the world to play. I officially kicked it off in Italy on March 10th, 2011.

In this pic, I'm running wild in the open fields of a castle's garden in Caserta, Italy, March 12th.

I loved running aimlessly, voluntarily, feeling my breath get shorter from giggles, blood rushing, and a whole, big, beautiful field for the taking.

A note about how I'll be documenting: because it's about play, the process of documenting should feel like it. So I'll discover as I go along. I'll do it because I want to. And I'll also stop when it doesn't feel fun. I also want to play with you - because it's all about being social. So please feel free to add to the mix - either by contributing your thoughts, ideas, or your own play experiences.

In the meanwhile, do share - how have you used your body to play recently? (Sex aside, please). Or, where did you unexpectedly create play?

F U dude

The other day I was crossing the street. My right of way. Totally going at a normal pace. And a car honked really loud and long and turned way too close to me. Dangerously so. Without thinking I gave the guy the finger and screamed, "fuc+ you dude!"

It's been a long time since I let the finger get the best of me. I've gotten myself to a place where I automatically go for empathy versus offense.

(For example, now that I think about, what if that guy had an emergency).

But the truth is, I didn't care in that instant, I was reacting to my being being in danger and what I interpreted as unnecessary assholeness. I'm proud of the FU + Finger combo.

It felt exhilarating. There are times when the warrior needs to be on.

Even in positive psychology, people who score a 10 out 10 in being optimistic aren't actually that well off. If you're too positive and too optimistic you are a danger to yourself. You may not go to the doctor if something needs attention, you may be so content at work that you don't challenge yourself or get lazy, assuming you have total security, and, well, you just might also be manic.

Here's to be normal. And still positively so.

how bad do you want it?

below is a video of the famous marshmellow study where a child is left alone in a room with one marshmellow and told that he'll/she'll receive another if he/she can just wait. 2 out of 3 kids eat it immediately. 18 years later, those that resisted temptation had better jobs, education, and emotional well-being than those who couldn't resist.

self discipline, luckily, is like a muscle and something that you can make stronger. but it can also get depleted. so that means don't try to quit smoking, diet, and reorganize your desk at the same time.

ever wonder why you come home from a hard day at work and just end up taking it out on your loved ones? it's because you've probably used up all your self control at the office and are tapped out - literally. they say that sugar and laughter help replenish one's self control. this must explain my chocolate fix.

anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

i love being easy

I recently returned to the gym for the first time in a long time. I took advantage of that one free trainer session they give you when you sign-up. Unfortunately, I was coming out of a bad cold without much sleep upon my first visit.

I almost didn't show. But I did (yeah, yeah, 80% of success is showing up - I tell people all the time).

Anyway. I get there and think, oh boy, some huge, over enthusiastic, big-muscle dude is going to make me run (not my favorite) or sweat like crazy - and right now, I just can't handle it.

But, instead, Danielle, who indeed turns out to be a huge, kindly enthusiastic, big-muscle dude, went easy on me. But actually, it was not JUST easy. It was just right.

For all you over achievers, let me repeat, E-A-S-Y C-A-N B-E J-U-S-T R-I-G-H-T.

I kept asking Danielle, "are you sure this is enough? will I get results just doing this? are you sure I shouldn't do more?"

Yes, yes. He assured me. Stella, it's your first day back. Okay, okay. I agreed. With relief and with disbelief: wow, I'm enjoying this.

You can create and work with ease or with struggle. Which one do you choose? Working with ease doesn't mean there is no challenge - it just means you're not fighting an uphill battle. You still can exert a lot of energy when things happen with ease, but the way you exert is willfully, joyfully, enthusiastically, almost effortlessly versus with dread, concern, and force.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Dear Cold

Dear Cold (as in rhinovirus):

Thanks for swinging by. I'm grateful that you came into my life and slowed me down. You reminded me that I need to sleep. That, maybe, I'm working too hard. I got it! I think you've been around long enough...

So feel free to take off, your work is done.


(witness my loving, and anti-histamine-medicated, approach to the stuff that seems like it sucks)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I heart the Library

Here's a few words inspired by the NYC Public Library:

tunnels and stacks
order of mystery
hushed intensity
space of quest and creation
magic tube messengers with arrivals of my unknown
earnest gatekeepers and guides
i adore you
thank you, nyc public library, you're the bombdiggity

I got all juiced up about the library today. It was such a treat to say, "I need to find X, can you help?" And in a few seconds...we got a lead. There was something magnificent about this in the age of google. I felt grateful that so much knowledge was organized, ready, and waiting...just for me to ask and for me to touch and feel and turn, page, by page. I felt supported and knew that the librarians were happy to support me.

This experience reminded me that everywhere you go...asking for help is just as much about receiving as it is about giving someone an opportunity to do what they do best - or at least contribute. Another goodie thought I received have a choice, you can stare at the stacks of closed books, and think..."oh shit," or, if you figure out the right questions to ask, you get to find exactly the page you're looking for. That page, that sentence, that key is waiting for's just a matter of asking.

Not sure what to ask? Sometimes the best question to ask is, "what would be the best question for me to ask if I'm trying to do X? Or, "Tell me what I need to know."

Remember what David Cooperider said, "The questions we ask create our reality."


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

They're Not Made of Glass

If you commonly feel guilt you might enjoy two of my favorite aha's: "They'll be OK." and "I'm not responsible for how you feel."

I used to get so worked up over saying "no" or being concerned I was disappointing someone by doing X, Y, Z. God forbid someone else feel inconvenienced, hurt, or uncomfortable. I'd go through hoops to avoid someone else feeling any stir but brightness.

But that did several things that suck:

1. I'd end up going against what I needed to actually do in order to dance around what I thought could hurt someone.

2. I'd diminish one's capacity to adapt by assuming they couldn't handle X. Who I am to judge what someone can or can't handle?

3. By not doing what served me best in the moment - the other party (whether they consciously got it or not) usually lost out. Because the world only benefits when you're your shining best and happy.

4. I'd withhold the opportunity for one to deal honestly with their own reality. That's juicy growth time!

If this tugs at you. Take a deep breath. Stop enabling. And do what's right for you. They'll be OK. And, you're not responsible for how they feel. You can't do anything about it. Only they can make a decision about how they handle and interpret their own reality.

This applies for silly little things like saying, "No, I don't feel like going out tonight," to "I no longer want to see you" to "You know, I'm really disappointed in X, that didn't sit well with me."


Disclaimer. This, like many wisdom wonders, has to be managed within the context of its antithesis - in this case, it's ultimate compassion and kindness towards the other. It's a funny tension - but holding it will set you free!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Are you seeing the whole picture?

Last night I finished teaching our Incubator Intensive workshop to a group of entrepreneurs. In reflecting on her experience for the past four weeks, one woman said, "I now have hope, I can SEE the possibilities."

In positive psychology we know this to be true. LITERALLY.

Positive emotion is associated with seeing the big picture. When hooked up to eye scanning equipment, people in a good mood will look around the entire perimeter of a picture versus those who are in a negative mood who stay focused on one single area.

If you're experiencing positive emotion - you are more likely to see the possibilities, make connections, and create solutions.

If you feel stuck, or can't see your way out of a situation, I suggest getting out of it by creating conditions to lift your emotions. What will budge you just an inch towards positivity?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering with Elizabeth Lesser

This past Monday morning. Running late. Had a late night working. Cabbing it, yet, again. Damn! How I committed to taking subways or walking. Damn! How I committed to going to sleep earlier and not working on Sunday nights. Ahhh, will try, again. Whatever.

In my 11 block cab ride (yes, 11 blocks) I manage some major mental, emotional, and cosmetic kung-fu. Realities wrestling for attention, I do up the bronzer (present), I run through my to-do lists (future), I tell myself to stop judging myself for the cab and the sleep (past-future-past-present), I energize myself with silent pep talks of my dreams coming true, regardless of the aforementioned broken commitments (future), I replay some conversations I had from last night (past), and I realize my mind is everywhere but in the back seat of the taxi, in my body (present, again). And then I arrive.

Flurry, flurry, scurry, scurry, up the elevator, kiss, kiss, hello, hello, how was your weekend?

And... I'm on.

Time to work. Thankfully, I have a cool job. And my job for that hour was to interview one of the women I most admire, Elizabeth Lesser. Elizabeth is Co-Founder of the Omega Institute (go, go, go there!)

The moment I hear her voice, I feel myself settle. I feel a softening in my chest, a melting in my shoulders, a lightness in my face. We reflect on many things. Here are a few that supplied me with my zen fix for the week, that got me back. Thanks, Elizabeth.

1. In the Sufi tradition, the word for "spirituality" actually means "remembering." On a higher level, higher than the one that most of us operate on daily (or in the back seat of a cab), we are completely complete, need nothing, know everything, perfect, as-is. The key is to remember that. Living, experiencing, learning - is really remembering what we already know.

2. It's work. It takes time. Relationships need YOU there. After remembering that it's all remembering, Elizabeth reminded me of what I know of relationships. That they need time, are messy, and need you there, physically. In order to work through the complexities and create intimacy with your partner, friend, or child - it's important to create plenty of space for things to be worked out and through, for bumps to be smoothed, for growth to be had. Back and forth, back and forth, integration - requires people to be invested, time, body, heart, soul, in space, together.

3. At the speed of trees. Wired with our schedules action packed, there may be no road back to slow. Who knows if this is good or bad. But what we do know is that as beings on earth, our bodies best respond to the rhythm of nature. To the waves in the ocean, the shift of the seasons, the cycles of the moon. Mother nature doesn't rush or force...soooo, remember that. Go be with some trees, feel the snow on your face, smell the air, hear the wind.

To get some of your own zen fix on with the wise words of Elizabeth, I encourage you to watch her latest Ted Talk. Enjoy.

Much love,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Damn, it's been 10 days!

I was about to go to sleep. And decided to check in to my blog to see how long it's been. Damn it's been 10 days! I've gone back and forth with commitments about this blog. "I'll wake up every morning at 7am and write something." "I'll focus these blog posts so they're more strategic and delivering against my objective of..." "I'll figure out the objective of this blog."

While my intentions are great... my attention is limited.

Not just mine, but everyone's! Our attention is FINITE! The possibilities are infinite. You get to choose where you put your attention to create whatever you want.

So I accept that in the creation of my desired reality...sometimes, some other things just don't get the love. Sorry's been 10 days!

Thank you for reading, for supporting, and being patient as what I really want for this blog continues to inch closer to its actualization... in tandem with my own.

Much love,

Friday, January 14, 2011

For Penis People, Too

In the book, The Heroine's Journey, Maureen Murdoch describes women's process to rediscovering and owning their Feminine. I'm not talking wearing mascara here, I'm talking being hard-core in touch with what makes females different from those with a penis.

The book is a bit much for me at times, but usually when that happens, I know there's some wisdom. One of the biggest take-away's I got from this book was language to describe the intangible process of growth - and the uncertainty, discomfort, and all-that-jazz that comes with it.

Sometimes, the most profound or liberating experience is not the experience itself, but discovering the words to that experience. This means what our subconscious knows, pops to the forefront into our conscious in a rational way, in a code we can understand. It's "AHA! That's what was going on." Having language for something not only helps one integrate one's own stuff, but it also makes it easier for us to empathize with others, relate, and help them unlock the truth of their journey as well.

The language that clicked for me when reading Murdoch's books is: Hold the tension.

Hold the tension means you are courageously standing in a state of in-between. You are on your way towards something new and better but meanwhile, may be in the dark, shivering, chilled to the bone.

Hold the tension means you trust that beyond the point where you can see, there is growth and greatness.

Hold the tension means that you don't just "get over it" or "ignore" your current reality, you let it massage you until a new you is released.

Hold the tension is not passive in the least - it's active acceptance of the NOW.

Hold the tension is that annoying state that people often describe as "you gotta be uncomfortable to grow."

Holding the tension is also about patience and healing without judging. Right now I have a cold. I can't sleep. Sure, it sucks. Sure, I'm doing what I can, but I'm also relinquishing to my body to do what it's got to do. I'm not judging or bitching (fine, maybe just a few grumbles to myself)

While holding the tension can feel a bit tortuous, it's for your long term good. It's like the discomfort of doing a detox cleanse, or navigating the terrain of a budding relationship, or not eating that chocolate cake despite every cell in your body saying "I want you."

Therefore, Hold the tension applies to transformational growth in addition to the mundane.

Hold the tension is a brave surrender to "everything will be okay." Even though right now things feel uncertain, uncomfortable, painful, or whatever.

Here's the final kicker - whether you want to do it or not, holding the tension is something you can't avoid. Sure you might be in denial, avoiding, regressing to old patterns or whatever for now - but whether you want to or not - experiences will most likely continue to surface demanding this state from you, demanding you to be a better you.

Here's to all you courageous people!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You Freak, You

My favorite quote in the world is: "If you find your piece in the puzzle, you enable 10,000 others to find theirs."

This quote says several things to me.

1. You are unique.
2. You have a unique role.
3. Your playing your unique role enables others to play theirs.
4. We need you. You need us. We need each other.
5. You bes' be clear that you're special and that specialness is a responsibility.

For the past five year I've been honored with the opportunity to put several thousand through various workshops I teach. Through my experience with others and my own journey, I can attest that most of us do the below:

1. Judge that what makes us special isn't that special.
2. Forget what makes us special.
3. Do what we think the world thinks is special.

F that, people! Who are you to say that what makes you special isn't worth it? It's worth it to at least 10,000 others. Promise. You just might not see the ripples but they're there.

Just look at Ted Williams, the homeless man with a golden voice. Clearly he has a unique gift. But I don't think he ever imagined the impact that his great radio voice would have on opening the hearts and minds of millions. At best, he probably just thought he'd play some damn good music and give people a nice ride into work.

Don't judge your gift. The juicy mystery of how it will flourish for others is to be revealed if it isn't clear. Until then, just do what you do best.

I like to ask people: What are you freakishly good at? What just comes to you, naturally, without trying or learning so hard? What's your God-Given gift? It may be your ability to make someone laugh, or feel included, or elevated. It maybe remembering trivia or collecting stamps. It may be just looking pretty. Or maybe playing football. Or maybe creating multi-million dollar businesses. Whatever it is...

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Play thang

Play'as are you playing enough? It's good for you. Like sleep, sex, food. You should do it. You're wired for it. And need it as an adult. It's not just for kids. Here's a rather unplayful excerpt on play. Part of my research while at UPenn.

Play is a fun dance into sometimes uncertain terrain. It’s an opportunity for us to practice towards some version of perfection (Burghardt, 2005). The opportunity to be wrong doesn’t come easy in our society. We are a results oriented, productive batch that favors being right instead of wrong (Mueller & Dweck, 1998), hard work instead of play (Brown, 2009). However, we know from studies on positive organizations that cultivating a culture where making mistakes is acceptable has proven to positively impact an organization’s productivity (Caza, Edmonson, Lee, & Thomke, 2003). It is our culture’s fear of being wrong or unpolished that currently hampers our economic leadership, innovation, education, and personal growth (Bronson & Merryman, 2010). That's right. Read that last sentence again, carefully.

What is play? One woman's play is another's ... I don't know. Here are some guiding principles I like: Burghardt's 5 Criteria of Play below. Lots of people and academics have opinions - but there's no consensus and not enough research on what it means to play.

Play is done for its own sake
Not serious or of immediate use.

Play is intrinsically motivated (you want it)
Directed towards stimulants that don’t contribute to survival.
Rewarding or reinforcing.

It's Fun (hello!)
Pleasurable and joyful.
Can be solitary or social.
Social play is contagious.
Occurs in a relaxed field free from stress and other behavioral requirements.

Play is not serious
Disappears under stress.
Characteristics that set it apart from serious performance.

It's messy for mastery
May involve self handicapping or role reversal.
May be exaggerated in intensity or duration from normal experience.
May be awkward or unpolished.
Involves mastery.
Differs from stereotyped behavior.

I challenge you get some (play) tonight.


Brown, S. (2009). Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination, and invigorates the soul. New York: Penguin Group.

Burghardt, G. (1998). The evolutionary origins of play revisited. In M. Bekoff & J. Byers (eds.), Animal play: Evolutionary, comparative, and ecological perspectives (pp. 3– 26). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Caza, A., Edmondson, A., Lee, F., & Thomke, S. (2003). New Knowledge creation in organizations. In Cameron, K. S., Dutton, J. E., & Quinn, R.E. (Eds.), Positive Organizational Scholarship (pp.194-206). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for Intelligence Can Undermine Children's Motivation and Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 33-52.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

In the U.S. our DNA rings with freedom. We think, freedom = choice. The more choice, the better. But that’s not true. Of course, some choice is better than no choice. But MORE choice leads to paralysis and disappointment according to Barry Schwartz, author of, The Paradox of Choice. I experienced some of the pain Barry describes when apartment hunting. But my belief system conquered in the end. Here's a synopsis of his research-based theory, followed by a TED video of him demonstrating it beautifully, and then my two cents:

The more choice you have, the higher your expectations. (I want high ceilings, lots of light, easy walk to subway, new appliances, etc).

The higher your expectations, the more you pay attention to what’s “missing” in a particular option. (Oh, this place doesn't have enough closets. That one there is a walk-up.)

Because nothing is perfect, you’re inevitably stuck choosing something that clearly doesn’t meet all your expectations. (Well, the lobby sucks and looks like a dungeon, but pretty much everything else is amazing).

You choose. And yet, you remorse. You think about what you’re missing and lost out on by making the choice you did. (Shoot...if I would have kept on looking could I have found a better deal or should I have gone downtown and suck up living in a closet?)

You’re not satisfied. Because the opportunity cost subtracts away from the total benefit. (Not really true for me...keep reading and I'll tell you why).

And worse, you blame yourself. Because YOU made the choice. (I experienced this for like 10 minutes).

More choice make us feel like there’s always something better. (Of course there are better options - there always are. But a)they are not perfect, also. b)if you don't make a choice, you got nutin'. Given my timing of having to move in by December 15th and my budget - I made the best choice at that time).

Barry's work...and I told him depressing. Why? Because given the state of our economy, culture, and access to information - more choice is what's being created. Here's some additional personal perspective that is true for me and saves me from being a complete victim to the paradox of choice.

1. In a certain dimension of reality, there are no mistakes or bad decisions (because we learn from both) and that helps us grow.

2. I believe that we are exactly where we need to be doing exactly what needs to be done. Even if that means messing up.

3. You don't control everything and have no way of knowing everything - once you know that, you're free.

4. Okay, say your choice sucks. Just choose again. That's what experience offers. I know you want a short cut to the best choice. But sometimes, it's not available.

5. The best way to shortcut, however, is to know what you really, really want. To be crystal clear on what's most important to you. Barry advises sitting in a dark room, alone, and thinking hard about that. Once you know what you want exactly, you'll not be taunted by the possibilities.

I trusted that I would find a great apartment and I did. It has high ceilings, exposed brick, and outdoor space. Sure, it's not perfect, but I'm happy.