Sunday, March 23, 2014

Community Art = valuable lesson!!!

What happens when you leave a giant 4‘x6’ blank canvas in downtown Portland, in front of a busy convention center, with tubs of paints, brushes, and the words, “Paint Me” written all around in sidewalk chalk?  

An valuable lesson for a compulsive instigator, that’s what happens :).

This little art project is an example of something I like to call a ‘social shenanigan’.  Which is (by my own definition): 

Social shenanigan:  (sō′shəl) (shə-năn′ĭ-gən)

A high-spirited, quasi-organized, multi-faceted interaction with the public: To provoke creativity, thoughts or actions, to spread cheer, knowledge and happiness, and to lift individual spirits, all while studying and learning from the arbitrary results of physical, emotional or intellectual engagement. 

Basically, to learn via fun :). 

I first realized the massive possibilities of these social shenanigans by accident, when I started selling my hats. It was an amazingly awesome day in Chico, CA, with nothing pressing to do, that I decided to make some For Sale signs on cardboard boxes with my always handy sharpie set. I sat on the side of the road with them, no expectations.

(Side story: I bought 200 awesome wool animal hats in Nepal in 2012, a way too make a few extra bucks... I still have 80 left for sale! Check them out here ;).

What resulted was this fantastic opportunity to see how people interact, react, or engage; to get an inside taste of what it feels like to be judged; to see indirectly into the fears of strangers. It was an excellent experience in learning and psychology and empathy that has led me to constantly be seeking out, and now creating, these hands-on learning opportunities.

Learning is not just my hobby, it is a daily necessity. Of course books and classes and workshops and such are great, but it’s the unplanned and the unexpected lessons that happen thru adventures (and the misadventures!) that really connect with me….

Okay, now back to the canvas!!!! :)

Last week, my friends Bree-Anna and Jo were here visiting, helping to make a Bloom Woods promo video. Social interactions were of course a must (as they are a big part of the business plan). We planned to take and wear our "Truth and Dare" outfits to Portland, with not much but a "lets see what happens" attitude. Then one of the girls suggested the giant blank canvas (you might recognize it from this video). It's been hanging in my room for over three months now, waiting patiently for me to paint it.

Thus, the awesome idea was born! Hellllooo community art project!!  :)

We found that the Oregon Convention Center in Portland was hosting a myriad of events on Saturday the 15th, and that 10’s of thousands were expected. Perfect.

We took our supplies and open-minded attitudes, and set up right in front (with security permission).  We donned our Truth and Dare interactive costumes to spice it up even more.  

It started out rocky. First off, there was a shit ton of kids.  This is not a bad thing, we of course went with the flow, but my favorite subject to study is adults, and how they tend to lose, or deeply bury, their inner kid, essentially stifling joy along with it.  

The kids were great, they were all in. They wanted to paint, they wanted to play Dare, they wanted to play Truth. They went and told their friends and they all wanted to play too.  Awesome. 

It turned out one of the conventions was a church camp for teenagers, which is why there were so many. Many of them liked to express their faith on the canvas, which resulted in some awkwardness for us let’s just say I’m glad the canvas became abstract and has many layers :)

The next hour or so, we kept on our outfits and asked all those passing by if they wanted to paint.  “Just a swipe of the brush” we’d say, “a small mark to add to the art”!

“I can’t, I have to go register”
“I have to get to my meeting”
“I don’t have time”
“Maybe when I pass back by”

Then we took our costumes off and kept asked. Dozens and dozens passed by, only a few engaged.

Then, Bree-Anna had a brilliant idea. “Let’s just leave it,” she says, “and see what happens.” 
We used our sidewalk chalk to make arrows and wrote “Paint me” on all sides of the canvas.  Then we ‘hid’ :0).

Before I tell you what happened, I’ll preface by saying I LOVEEE to start things. It’s a giant part of me, to try and get people involved, engaged, contemplating, questioning, curious, active… being as alive as possible!  From early on, it was natural for me to start (and try to include people in) games, competitions, challenges, projects, ideas. I've always been the instigator.

SO, what happened when we left??

Within the first ten minutes almost everyone who noticed it, painted! At least a mark or a small stroke, one guy even used his toe :). The next half hour had around 75% of the passerbyer’s stopped!! It was quite incredible really, revealing that our presence was actually a detriment to our intended outcome!!!!! A serious eye-opening revelation for me, that: 

Instigation can be as simple as handing someone a match. Let them spark the flame themselves. 

Or in this case, a brush!  WHOA!!! YESSSS!!! This is so awesome!! I KNEW this in a conversational sense (in life coaching we learn you can never give someone an answer, only guide them to find it themselves).  I knew this in a philosophical sense (that people can only change if they want to, are ready to, feel safe to). I knew this in all sorts of senses (my business plan is all about exposure, opening-eyes, introduction).  What I didn’t know is that it translated into seemingly harmless, FUN STUFF as well.  What's the harm in doing something a little joyous, a little different, to add a little special something in an otherwise normal day? 

From what we witnessed, most people do want to add that fun element, but wariness is the first default. They don’t want to be pressured or persuaded, at all. Despite our every intention for it to be a loving, safe, positive thing, people were skeptical. Maybe they worried they might be judged? They might not be creative enough? They might not do it ‘right’?

It's a bummer we can't wear our intentions like a outfit. I wish I could actually, which is probably why I am compulsively self-revealing :). I know that I will never intentionally hurt anyone. I know I will never make fun, never roll my eyes, never tease or taunt... but strangers don’t know that about me. Despite my efforts to radiate the benevolent intentions out of my body,  it doesn’t seem to work ;). 

So until the BloomWoods can have a location and a reputation (emanating safety, comfort, love, and support in attitude as well as in space and atmosphere)  I've got to play by the majority rules, which this shenanigan showed me clearly, is to back off. 

I was shocked really to see how allowing people the opportunity to approach freely, see for themselves, decide without any pressure- was enough leeway to get them to engage.  3x more engaged!

Discussing it afterwards, Bree-Anna had a wonderful analysis:

That because I know ‘the reward,’ (i.e. what it feels like to be so blissed out),  I want to pull everyone along with me. She was soooo spot on!  I am so so so very happy and I do want everyone else to have that too!  Finding the balance between standing back and guiding someone out of their comfort zone will forever be my teeter-totter. 

In fact, that's one of my larger, perpetual struggles:  finding the balance of my 49% extrovert side and my 51% introvert side. No one ever believes me, but I love to be alone. I love to be quiet. I love to be calm, but some unique switch in me becomes a bouncing chatter box the moment another body is around. When I lived at the ashram, we did a stint of ‘silent breakfasts’ where there was no speaking allowed until say 10am.... it was AWESOMEEEE! So, I think this little art experiment was telling me it’s okay to back off. It’s good to back off. 

Thank goodness :) 

Instigating is def part of my being, and I’m still trying to find the right means through which to act upon this need.  This blog has been a phenomenal outlet for me. Thank you, for coming along and sharing in my journey of endless self-discovery.

Stay tuned for more Social Shenaniganssss to come, for SURE!  (and feel free to pass along any ideas!)

The final product, awesome. It matches my shirt :)

Friday, March 21, 2014


Max was born!!!! On March 12 (only 11 days late) at 8lbs 10oz, 21 inches, he is perfection! Proud parents Sam and Kate are doing great, and I’m totally tickled to have been dubbed his ‘Fairy-Fun-Mother’ :)!!

Adorable to the max, Max! 

I feel enormous pride and an actually warmth in my heart knowing this child is getting an amazing head start to life by having two stellar human beings as parents! Sam and Kate are two of my favorite people, they are just awesome in every sense of the word. What love and wise guidance he will experience!!!! :) Can’t wait to douse him in kisses!! Yayyyy Baby!!!!

Yayyy babiessss actually! Quite a few newborns have graced by FB these past few weeks! My crossfit coach is preggo and one of my BFF’s (Jill-do-ram!) is preggo too! Not to mention all my friends who have bigger babies (aka kids) ;).

Watching and listening to them and others talk about their children, about parenting, about how “it’s the hardest but best thing ever”... I get it. I’m sooo down to be there one day!

Of all the cool stuff I’ve done and get to keep doing, I just know Motherhood will be the ultimate for me. I think mostly because I have a natural desire to share and guide, but love the concept of giving huge wings to let fly and just watch what happens. It’s definitely a vision that I have to keep reigns on (as in, technically I could make it happen any Friday night ;) because I’ve got some other things I want to follow thru with first :).

What am I waiting for? The answer one would assume, is a man... but in actuality, that’s really a small factor in it for me :) hahah!  I def love the idea of sharing a long life and family with some amazing man forever.  I also really love aloneness, and change and evolution, and I’m digging my perfectly fantastic singleness (see this blog for more on that!). I am endlessly fascinated by what I’ve learned from the powerful loves as well the gut-wrenching pains of all my remarkable and necessary past relationships. I’m not opposed to the idea that more of those happen and I continue to learn until.... the end of time? One special one? Who knows, I’m excited with whatever it will be. :)

So this brings up a conundrum. How can I say I am eager be a mother... yet be in zero rush to have a boyfriend? Ahh, because I know everything happens as it should and as I make it. I love being fervently open-minded, because it makes recognizing, and then letting go of societies subliminal messages so much easier, reproduction traditions definitely being one of them.

First of all, motherhood as a female requisite is such an unfortunate pigeonhole, a terrible pressure that too many ladies face! Having a child is such a HUGE and personal decision. Impatient grammy's need a chill pill :). Shout out to the ladies feeling the pressure that you must, and you must at a certain time! You don’t! Here’s an awesome read if you’re there and feeling that undue stress. It's as personal and unique of a decision as is the people we are attracted to, the styles we like or the food that tastes good to us. Our diversity is what makes life so awesome.

Personally, I super duper want kiddos. Ditching the notion that that meant ‘birth’ has given me immense freedom, peace of mind, and has been a huge element in carving out my giant lovely home within happiness. In my 20‘s I wouldn’t even date a guy that had kids because I didn’t think I’d be able to love them as much as I would a birthed baby. After living at the orphanage in Africa, I’ve completely dumped that notion. Thank you, open mind and experience, for giving me that gift :)

Amidst all the pregnancies and new babies, I came across this fantastic video about societal gender roles that totally impacted me. Take a look (it's only 2:27mins)!

Wowza!!!!! I’m definitely guilty of such interactions with little ones: asking little boys to flex their muscles, or little girls to show me their pretty dolls. Whoaaaa! Society is SOOOO sneaky that way!!! I'm thrilled to be gaining realization of this slippery slope!

I’m also reading a fantastic book on empathy that touches on how the stereotypes of the male and female start from birth, with most of us buying into the limited gender roles we force on young-ins without even realizing it. The author Karla Mclaren (who I loooove) smartly says this:

“Most of our valenced ideas about gender roles for males and females are socially created; they’re not biologically or objectively true, and they can’t be found in the brains of infants. But because so few people understand the difference between objective reality and socially constructed reality, these myths and falsehoods gain the status of concrete truth. Accordingly, many little girls are encourages to become relatively inactive people who love to talk emotions and social relationships, while little boys are urged to stop crying at a certain age, even when they’ve been hurt deeply. Boys are given guns and trucks and told to man up, stop crying, there’s nothing to be afraid of, stop being girly, stop talking about feelings, and basically stop being fully alive. When we enforce gender stereotypes, we actually reduce the intelligence, the emotional capacity, the empathic skills, and the very humanity of little boys and girls.”

YESSSS!!! This is so intuitive, but a great example of how easy it is to just accept what is the norm around us!!!! Women often complain about the unemotional side of men, are they simultaneously and subconsciously teaching that to their sons?  Whoa!   This def got me thinking more and more about my personal thoughts on how motherhood might look for me, and I decided to share:

1. I love the idea of giving birth, because it’s a special and indescribable experience, and I love experiences!!!! If it happens, awesome, if not, there’s other options. Flexibility is the key to my happiness. 

2. If the time comes, I’d def consider insemination before tying myself to someone less that fantastic. I see no problem with single parenthood. Sure, it’s harder. But so are lots of things. I know a shit ton of people raised by one parent, and they are just as equally probable to have ups and downs as all the rest. 

3. I’m highly considering becoming an egg donor. I’ve got AWESOME genes to pass on. Is it egotistical to say that? Or is it a shame to not let them live on? :). Obviously I think the latter, and the beauty is it’s up to others to pick my DNA if they like it. 

4. I absolutely want to adopt!!! Whether the opportunity comes to have a child naturally or not, I still plan to adopt. In fact, twins :). In my dream world, I’ll give birth to twins AND adopt twins! How awesome would that be?? So awesome :). 

5. In fact, I LOVE the idea of adopting 5 or 6 year olds because then you can bond first, and know you ‘click’. I still miss and think about “Godblessy” from the orphanage often! He was such a stud :). PLUS, since I will be starting later in life, an older adoption allows more time to enjoy them as adults... which is when the real awesomeness starts. My mom is my bestest friend in the world, and everyday I pray she lives to 123 :). Thanks mom for being such a stellar example that I will ever look up too (and sorry I was a shithead in my teens :) 

6. If nothing else, I’ll become a Big Brother/Big Sister, spend lots of time volunteering, become a nanny, the best babysitter ever, or surely get a dog and a pet pig! I once misunderstood people who were so attached to their animals. My awareness of a parental longing has vastly widened my understanding. I still flinch a little when someone calls themself ‘mommy’ in reference to an animal, but to each their own! You never know, I might do it one day too ;) 

So true in my case :) 

So, yes, I’ve got babies on the mind!!! Certainly no rush, as I've got seriously awesome plans on the horizon, but as the ultimate forward thinker, I def dream about how I’ll raise my kids. Vaguely, generally, and open-mindedly, because I am also the ultimate change-plans lover :). My college boyfriend and I had a few disagreements back then, when I was adamant I wanted to raise kids in the christian church. He didn’t. How funny to have a very different outlook now :). The only thing permanent is impermanence.

Have a most wonderful weekend!!!!  Happy Equinox! 

Much love, 

*Here's a few more awesome resources on the subject of gender roles and breaking through them :) 
Brene Brown, Jo Paoletti, and even my favorite book by Osho touched on it. Cool stuff that can make a big difference!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A polar plunge, an adventure run, and my crazy new plans Vlog!!

There are three SUPER great videos in this blog!! 4 min, 10 min, and 15 min, respectively!  They are all awesome IMHO and are worthy of 30 mins!! :)

The first is a super fun video summary of our social shenanigans at the Portland Polar Plunge!! Brrr!
We made friends with an amazingly awesome award winning producer, Dave Hood, and he put this video together for us! Way cool!

The second is a my first official Go-Pro video, of an AWESOME hike here in the Gorge yesterday morning! It'll give you an accurate glimpse into my mind during an adventure in the wild! If you can't/ don't want to watch it all, my fav part is a surprise I got around minute 3 :)

And the last is my shortcut to writing a blog (I could very well be the busiest person alive!) about a recent and BIGGGG turn of events in my life!!! It was easier for me to just Vlog it (video blog) this time, so check it out!!

Surprise, surprise! I'm on the move again! As much as I AM SO SAD to be leaving this amazing place so soon, and especially for the summer, I think it's a smart and good and WAY EXCITING plan! So, without further adieu:

Links mentioned:

Original "Barefoot Village" blog, my friend Jo's Youtube Channel, and my new employer- Peak Adventures !

And here's my crazy timeline:

March 11: Friends arrive!
March 11-18: Total adventure and shenanigan week! Promo video in the making!
March 19-21: Yakima, WA for Commercial Driver License Training school
March 22-23: HOME yay!
March 24-26: Yamika, WA: CDL School continues
March 26-29: HOME yay!
March 30: CDL License test (I better pass on the first try!)
March 31-August 7:  Nicaragua for Edith's and Jim's wedding, and my b-day!!!  Love :)
August 7-May 25: Bend, OR and all over the PNW for a 50 day Wilderness Outdoor Leader course!!!
May 26- May 31: HOME yay!
June 1: Fly to Santa Rosa, CA
June 2-June 26:  Training for new JOB!
June 27- Oct. 15:  GROUP LEADER for Peak Adventure Travel! ALL OVER THE USA! Woohoo

Oct.15 on:  Probably at least a week of rest ;) Then, Adventures with soul!  or who knows...The world is my oyster :).