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)