blog (aka wisdom bombs)
here's where i drop 'em like it's hot, from my Feminine Genius to yours.

What keeps your intuition sharp

Intuition.

Everyone has it. And yet it can be one of the hardest things to locate in a busy, modern existence.

Everyone needs it. Without it, we are compass-less, adrift in a sea of everyone else’s opinions.

I had to start with a bad breakup so that I could end up with intuition. Want to know why?

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Why I love my quirky body. Period.

What does the Ugly Duckling, Elsa from “Frozen,” or any ol’ underdog have to do with what’s in your underwear?

Read on, my friend, read on. I have so much to tell you about underdogs, underwear, and why I love my quirky body. Period.

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The Tao of Figs and Flowers

In my twenties when I was dancing professionally I was cast in a piece about monastic life.

I know, I know, not your usual topic to explore via the artistic medium of dance. Regardless, the ten or so of us dancers went for a long weekend at a Buddhist monastery a few hours from New York City where I was living at the time, as experiential research.

I took off all my jewelry, wore a monk’s robe, got up at 4am to chant and sit in meditation for many hours each day. At the end of each simple meal of brown rice and vegetables, we were to pour a little of our drinking water into the bowl, swish it around and then drink, so that no food was wasted.

It was simple, and austere, a deliberate stripping down of bodily thirsts and cravings.

A few years later I went to a weekend workshop about pleasure and sensuality, also a short train ride from Manhattan. The first night we had homework to decorate the room we were staying in with something for every sense, as though royalty was coming — and the royalty was us.

We were then supposed to slow down, enjoy, and savor each of the things we had chosen to decorate with, as well as touch our own faces and bodies in ways we found pleasurable.

Even though it was a workshop about pleasure and sensuality (so what did I expect?), I found the homework assignment wildly confronting.

I didn’t much consider myself royalty. As a busy New Yorker and hustling dancer, I wasn’t in the habit of slowing down and savoring. I wasn’t convinced I had worked hard enough yet to “deserve” enjoying things. I was pretty sure that touching my face and my body pleasurably was for OTHER people to do (as a way of validating my attractiveness and worth) but not for ME to do.

I almost left the workshop and got on a train back to the City. But instead I bucked up and did it.

Around the room I placed incense to smell, a silk scarf to touch, music from my iPod to hear, flowers to see, figs to taste.

Toward the end of the exercise, I cried for a few minutes, realizing I had never deliberately experienced pleasure — the pleasure of my senses, of my body, of my face — for myself. It had always been for someone else. Or something I’d avoided because it thought it was bad for me. Or something I was convinced I would get around to some day.

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I was painfully shy until I did this …

There’s a game called Liar’s Poker, in which the last card you are dealt you stick on your forehead (with gum or something). You stick it face out so that all the other players can see what you have, but you have no idea. Except by trying to read their expressions and reactions.

Stay with me a sec so I can show you how this relates to the metamorphosis of my painful shyness, and how it’s helped me do much better work in the world.

I’ve never actually played Liar’s Poker (and I’m pretty bad at most kinds of poker I’ve played) but when I heard about it when I was 15 or so, I thought, “That’s what I feel like! There’s something terribly flawed within me that everyone else can see but I can’t. I have no idea what defective personality card I’ve been dealt, except by trying to read other people’s expressions and reactions.”

Believing that there’s something(s) flawed within us — or wondering if we are good enough to be loved and accepted — is such a widespread condition in humanity that I think almost everyone is afflicted with it, to some degree.

And it’s definitely what was behind me being painfully shy for the first three decades of my life.

“Painfully shy” looked like me talking in a tiny voice and swallowing my words before they left my mouth. Assuming that people didn’t like me, found me boring, couldn’t wait to get away from me, and felt like I was wasting their time.

I found it very tiring spending my days trying to read other people’s expressions and reactions to figure out what damning card was stuck (with cosmic gum) to my forehead.

When I was in my coach training program, as part of a homework assignment to help get over fear of talking to people, I was sent out on the streets and into the subways of New York City (where I lived at the time) to talk to strangers. Thirty strangers a week, or about five strangers each day.

It was horrible and terrifying and awkward at first, as you might imagine.

And then, I did something miraculous.

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Why not working IS working

A few years ago when I was writing my book, Feminine Genius, I deeply embraced the saying, “80% of writing is NOT writing.” 

What that saying means to me is that, in writing a book or some similar kind of work, there is A LOT of time when my fingers need NOT be tickling the keyboard or my pen need NOT move industriously over the paper. When, instead, I could and should be staring at the blank page or going to a dance class or smelling a flower or wondering if I am a fraud or researching my topic or reading poetry to get re-inspired.

Rather than letting me continue to assume that everything else aside from the actual physical act of putting words on a page is bunk, that pithy saying invites me instead to remember that there is more that goes into writing than word count or hours logged that day. Waaaaaaay more.

There is something important and vital to the creative process — whether it’s writing or coaching or parenting or dancing or what have you — that happens when we are not directly producing that work. And that helps inform the work.

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