Thoughts on Authenticity

I love this quote. Authenticity sounds simple: “Just be yourself.” 

AUTHENTICITYBut in reality, presenting yourself without a safe facade can be tricky, it’s why I wrote my book! Being authentically yourself means being truly seen – something that requires vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.

And even though authenticity is a buzzword, it’s not actually what we expect from another in our culture… For instance, I write about cannabis for a living, which I LOVE; but being open about that means that some people think of a stoner stereotype and write me off at that. Poof! Done.

But that’s where integrity comes in. Do I want to be around people who don’t want me to be fully myself around them? That want me to skirt around my potential controversial aspects, or pretend they aren’t there? Is that how someone of character behaves?

It’s a grey area. Some could argue that it’s nicer to stay non-controversial. But I would argue that it’s a path to ignorance and crowd mentality. I think it’s our moral imperative to find and be the best, *most whole*, versions of ourselves; that it’s the whole fucking point of this “life” gig. 

#DoYou isn’t simple for most of us. Do it anyways.

 

How to Live, Spiritual-Style

I’m a spiritual person, which I also frequently describe as, “Spiritual, not religious” — so people don’t get confused. Here’s the difference: spirituality is your experience of the divine, and religion is learning about someone else’s experience. (Mysticism, paganism, and “witch,” one who manipulates energy, the unseen, are also terms I identify with; though I don’t usually introduce it as the latter, as it confuses people.) Spirituality brings depth and joy to the lives of millions, yet it’s not very well understood by our culture at large.

Spirituality can mean magical-feeling experiences that make you wonder if you somehow accidentally ate some ‘shrooms, or it can look like a daily ritual that helps you connect to deeper meaning, or a whole world of other experiences; the avenues to explore in spirituality are endless. While this makes it a never-ending and wildly satisfying path, it doesn’t make it the easiest to start down. Here’s some tips to get rolling.

  1. Meditate: Spirituality is all about connecting to a deeper wisdom that lies within, your intuition. And you’ll never ever learn how to do that if you don’t learn to get your mind to STFU! It’s really easy. All you need to do is sit or lie comfortably, and focus on your breath. When thoughts arise, let them go without judgement, and focus on your breath again. The more you do it, the better it will serve you.

  2. Read: You can start forming your philosophy on life by reading others’. Some of my recommendations for first picks are The Celestine Prophecy, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Conversations with God, and The Four Agreements. (Here’s more.) I also highly recommend the movies Waking Life and i heart huckabees.

  3. Divinate: Divination is essentially asking the divine for advice. Tarot and oracle cards are my favorite ways; tarot can be explored like learning another language, but oracle cards come with books that explain the cards. There’s also: runes, dowsing, the I-ching, and scrying, among others. They can help you make decisions and help predict the energy of what’s coming next in your life.

  4. Google Stuff: Here’s some topics to start checking out — astrology, numerology, ascension, lightworker, dark night of the soul, shadow work, chakra cleansing, law of attraction, conscious evolution, intuition, sacred geometry, and starseeds. That should give you 20-bazillion more wormholes to fall down!

  5. Buy Stuff: Contrary to popular opinon, his alone will do absolutely fucking nothing. But, when powered with intention and dedication, stuff can be a great aid to your spiritual practice. Go to a new age store and see what you’re drawn to, but a few basics are: sage and palo santo for energy cleansing, gemstones, and books books books! I know I said books already, but there is no one book for this stuff; just many teachers who help point to wisdom that must be located within. So read up!

  6. Practice Gratitude: Gratitude is the attitude, man. Practicing regular gratitude brings you into the present moment; little things like noticing the amazing taste of your coffee, appreciating the way your body feels after a workout, or the fact that your car started today can help bring perspective and shake of nonsense whiny thoughts. Focusing on stuff you want brings more stuff you want. And same-same for the opposite…

  7. Community: Finding other people who are into this stuff is key. Check out bulletin boards at health food stores, yoga centers, and other places of conscious living. The internet is also awesome (and so quick!) — just checking out hashtags of topics is likely to introduce you to people. Talking (or typing) with others about these things really helps ground the ideas, helps bring them into your everyday life.

Best wishes on your spiritual journey!!

How to Start Freelance Writing

I’m not wearing a bra right now, even though I’m at work. Do I live in a future-society where women can free-boob it without stares or accusations of “unprofessionalism”? Nope. I’m a freelance writer, free to lance about my city (or the world) — the free life of working from wherever, whenever. And I get to write! And I’m paying the bills!

I started trying to become a working writer nearly 7 years ago, it hasn’t been an easy path; and to be honest, it almost definitely won’t be for you either. But at least I can pave it a bit for you! Here’s 8 things I wish I knew when I got started:

  1. Not Everyone Pays Writers, But Lots Do: If you’re just getting started, it’s wise to publish for free so you can get some links and bylines — but if you’ve got a decent handle on writing, there’s many options out there who pay at least something. When starting out, look for smaller websites that look like they sell ad space, or who sell products from their website; they’re more likely to pay than creative sites or community sites (who can be better for audience-building).
  2. Know Your Objective: Besides enjoying writing — mandatory! — why do you want to become a writer? Do you want to pay rent or get a book deal? There’s lots of kinds of freelance writing, and the most-reliable-best-paying-kind often won’t have your name on it at the end. Content marketing writing is ghost writing that helps promote a business in some way, often using tools like SEO or copywriting for behind-the-scenes company needs.

    But if you’ve written a book and are looking to start freelancing, you probably care about building an audience so you’ll be attractive to agents and publishers. In this case, you’re going to want to get published; which is a hell of a lot easier than it was pre-internet. (Getting published in print is still highly-revered.) This means your writing will be on/in someone else’s product, which is usually a website or a magazine. Many do a mix of both types.

  3. What to Write About: Clichés become cliché because people say them so much, and we repeat them because they’re true — writing what you know is generally wise. This can mean writing personal essays about your actual life; but usually means the things you’re really into, and/or topics that you live daily. For instance, I’m a medical cannabis patient and advocate who largely writes about medical cannabis, which has given me a plethora of knowledge and credibility on the topic. What do you know everything about? That’s a great place to start, niches are a great place to get rolling.
  4. On Who to Pitch: Your biggest concerns are likely to be audience and rates. Who do you want to talk to, and how much money do you need to make? On the internet, the publishers with the biggest audience aren’t necessarily the biggest payers; so if audience is hugely important, be willing to compromise your rates for some. (But never be afraid to respectfully negotiate.) And, again, companies who sell stuff besides writing are likely to be the most reliable and better-paying work, but you probably won’t be credited. Look for websites that have articles similar to ones you’d like to write.
  5. On How to Pitch: A pitch is an email you’ll send to an editor that describes what you want to communicate with your article. It sells it! Even if you’ve already written the full article, you need to send a pitch — editors are very busy folks. Keep it less than a page. Be sure to include your experience with the topic and list/link your favorite bylines (don’t expect them to navigate to your website to see your portfolio).
  6. On the Editing Process: Before your article gets to an editor, you need to edit it to the max! Editors don’t want to work with people who give them extra work. Also make sure that your voice coordinates the rest of their writing. And if you do all this — you may still wind up with many edits, or even rewriting it. Breathe. Let go of your ideas in regard to its perfection and appreciate that others’ and their work are now involved too. It’s just how it works. That being said, you don’t have to work with editors again if you don’t like their editing style; and if you’re unhappy with how it’s turned out, it’s okay to pull it (but be respectful and aware of that it can affect the relationship with the publication).
  7. Website: Love it or hate it, marketing is part of freelance writing. A writer’s website to showcase your work is absolutely necessary (once you’ve got some work to showcase, of course). Choose a domain that’s easy to spell and remember, and build it yourself; there’s tons of easy DIY builders now (NOT WordPress, trust me 🙄), and asking someone else to update it every time you write something will be a costly hassle. Post blogs as often as you can — if you get busy you can shuffle them around so it looks new (shhh, they’ll be new now!), but SEO will know that they aren’t.
  8. Join Writers Groups: Other writers are a priceless resource. Look for groups in your area and/or all over the internet. (It, and “letters to home,” are all I use Facebook for anymore!) Be sure to follow the group’s rules about posting, especially in regard to self-promotion. If there’s a search option, use that before posting a new question on the same topic.

 

I hope that I’ve helped pave your road to writing, or at least pruned up some of the shrubbery. Sending the best of juju to your writerly missions!!

Why you can’t kill Ego.

I just came across a Twitter post by Alex Grey that included a pic of one of his gorgeous paintings.  It shows a man being enslaved by self-hatred—something only possible when ruled by ego.  Its caption says, “Hey Ego, your fears and limits are really getting in the way of my higher calling…”  Some guy commented, “that’s certainly rich for someone so active on social media.”

It reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about ego.  It’s a highly misunderstood concept; people are always talking about smashing it, killing it, generally making it go away—which not only inadvisable, but totally impossible.

What would someone with absolutely no ego look like?  They would only have awareness of connection with others, and with the world around them.  They would be fully embraced in the truth of our Oneness.  They would see no separation between themselves and others, they would truly always see themselves in Other.

Sounds beautiful, eh?  Now ask them their name. Where they live. How they pay rent.  What they like to do with their time.  Etc.

We need ego! Ego serves us in this life, it defines our separateness, and separateness is what we came here to experience.

An unbalanced ego is the troublemaker.

An overgrown ego tells you that you are better than others. It constantly fuels the mind with reasons why others are inferior, why they aren’t as good as you. An overgrown ego is highly defensive, and ignites easily (though not always verbally). It is constantly threatened that someone will remove this sense of superiority, as it is “who I am.”

A diminished ego tells you that you are shit.  You aren’t as good as anyone else.  You don’t deserve the things that you want.  You don’t matter.  It is an Eeyore, but it’s not so cute in human form.  It is a victim mindset.  It will not stand up for itself when hurt, because being hurt has become “who I am.”

A healthy ego is a strong sense of who you are.  You like you!  (You might even promote your work on social media like Alex!)  You see the beauty in others, and appreciate them for just being them.  You see when you fuck up, you try to see the humor in it, and do your darnedest to correct it.

You understand that “bad” behavior doesn’t make you less than others, and that “good” behavior doesn’t make you superior to others. There aren’t even really ways to behave “good” or “bad”—there are only actions that are serving to yourself and others, and those that aren’t. You get to choose, and sometimes it’s hard to know which is which.

A healthy ego never feels imperiled because it is aware of “I AM”—it is centered and connected whilst maintaining an awareness of the current perspective and its separations.

There’s all kinds of middleground, of course, we rarely hang out in extremes. There will even be days where your ego shrinks and expands in reaction to who and what you encounter! It’s a versatile lil’ bugger, and not one to attempt to squash.

Certainly to keep yer eye on it though! Watch your reactions, that’s where ego really shines. Notice feelings of superiority and of unworthiness, that’s unbalanced ego showing off. Notice these things without judging yourself, and just jump off that there thought train! Eventually, the tracks themselves will change—your mental constructs will adjust.

Get it get it, friends!

How to dissolve cheap beer hiccups with meditation.

I’m sure I learned what meditation was sometime before college, but I didn’t spend much time absorbing the concept until then. I had an Eastern Philosophy teacher that is still probably the most self-assured person I’ve ever met.

He genuinely did not give a shit about what anyone thought of him, as he said, “other people’s thoughts are none of my business”. I found him to be hilarious, and always unintentionally so. (The best kind of funny.)

He said the purpose of meditation was to widen the gaps between thoughts, allowing for observation of the peaceful quiet that exists behind them. And that we’d enjoy a more pleasant mindspace as a result. He shut off the lights, had us put our heads in our folded arms, and asked us to focus on our breathing. Whenever we had a thought we were supposed to acknowledge it without judgment, let it go, and return to our breathing.

Most of the time I thought about a guy, wondered if he liked me. Thought about how cute he was. Replayed our recent conversations. I kept returning back to my breath just to have my mind pipe up again, “He’s so cute.  He reminds me of Floyd from Dazed and Confused…”

But then it happened, I thought—“…………..”, for a few solid seconds.

“Oh! And that’s the same dude as in Out Cold!” — But it had happened, however briefly, I experienced my first sizeable gap between thoughts.  I wanted more of that peaceful feeling. And, apparently, whomever that dude was.

Though I enjoyed the peace I discovered in that philosophy class…I lacked focus. The first real application of meditation to my life was using it to get rid of the hiccups. I drank a lot of cheap beer quickly in those days, so I’d get them pretty frequently. At some point, I realized that all of the solutions offered up (swallow a spoonful of sugar, stare at the ceiling whilst hopping on one foot, BOO!) were all just various ways of *not thinking* about the hiccups.

So I tried using meditation to do so, and low and behold — it works like a charm! In those days most of my meditation was done in graffiti-covered bathroom stalls. Focusing on my breath, calming my mind, and dissolving those cheap beer hiccups.

 

Test of How I Lost All My F-cks: Take Two

Ten months ago, I started off on my first 𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘓𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘈𝘭𝘭 𝘔𝘺 𝘍-𝘤𝘬𝘴 experience; the testing-out of my beloved bookbaby and 1-month challenge. And I learned a whole lot, especially around the fucks that I still had to lose.

If you check out #fucklessadventures from last year on Instagram, you’ll see me dressing unusually for me (to blend in); singing my heart out (whilst cringing at my voice); and meditating in public (at a nearly-empty destination).

My review in early December, when I finished it, was that it “definitely infused an otherwise difficult month with joyful detours and mindful presence.” And it continued to do that as I integrated the wisdom from my experiences throughout the IMMENSELY challenging winter and spring that followed.

But after my testing, I also knew that in addition to having much *learning* to do before teaching, the project wasn’t done yet; not even the Fuckless Adventures section, which is the shortest (but most visible).

While the Fuckfull to Fuckless tale portion of the book still isn’t even close (at all) to being finished, I’ve decided it’s time for another public testing of the other two parts: the Fuckless Adventures and the meditation challenge.

I’ll be making rewrites a priority this month, while also testing out as many Adventures as I can think of. And I’ll be tweaking/testing the meditation section so there’s a challenging option for the already-converted. (The timing also serves to re-energize a historically bummer time of year for me.)

SO, please do check out my Instagram to help me test this baby out! These posts will be all over the place, but they’ll be focused on things that develop authenticity, vulnerability, and integrated mindfulness; the primary focus/objective of my book. (And also fun. I like fun.)

I have to do 20+ Adventures, but hope to brainstorm and test 30 – we’ll see what else life has planned for me this month!

Wish me luck, and, as always, thanks for listening. 😘

Weekly Fuckless Tarot

 Fuckless Tarot – September 2nd-8th, 2019

Hey there! This week we start out reconsidering our nostalgic ties, mending those that need love, letting release of ties that bind, or the cacophony of growing-up related issues the 4 of Cups (Reversed) symbolizes — stay true to you, now, and then.

Mid-week things are trying to get luxurious and full of independent freedom with the Nine of Pentacles (Reversed), but there’s a block. Blocks in wonderful energy just mean an imbalance of some sort, so examine these areas — are you craving or valuing your independent successes too much?

But things get good for the weekend. The Six of Wands is all about celebration and achievement, baby. Rejoice in the things in life that you’ve propelled forward, and enjoy every freakin’ second of jubilation. You already got this…now get it, get it. 😉

 Fuckless Tarot – August 25th-September 1st, 2019

This week starts of with a need to be proactive about finding balance in our lives. Look for ways to balance your behaviors, are you yin-ing for all your yang? Are you doing *too much* of this and *not enough* of that? Or, it could be that you need to mix it up – try adding an unusual element to your routine, or introduce friends who’ve never met. Finding balance often takes dancing in contrast, so don’t be afraid to test the waters.

Midweek we’ve got the Queen of Swords keeping it blunt, but lighthearted. She’s direct, she’s saucy, and she’s either going to help you learn some truth, or help you learn to deliver it. (It’s almost definitely the one that made you feel more nervous, sorry. 🤣❤) Be honest with others, be generous with humor, and don’t take things too personally; whilst also gleaning the wisdom of solid advice.

And this weekend’s got a head’s up to be on the lookout for sneaks. The Seven of Swords is all about using means to get what you want that may or may not justify the ends, and when it’s reversed it’s got an extra dose of warning. The sneak could be someone else, so don’t get dicked over, but it also could be *you* who’s considering acting without integrity – so ask yourself if you’re doing your best this weekend, and ask it often…while also expecting the same from others.

Have a wonderful week. 😘

 Fuckless Tarot – August 19th-25th, 2019

This week’s off to a luxurious beginning, with the luminous 9 of Pentacles. Monday through early Wednesday, look for opportunities to cherish some “me time,” a perfect time to treat yo’self.

Midweek through early Friday, maybe close that wallet again – the 4 of Pentacles hails a time of needing to balance expenditures, but it could also mean to watch out for being stingy-minded. (Are you feeling guilty about that treat yo’self??)

And for the weekend, we’ve got another busy one – the 2 of Pentacles (R) reminds us to prioritize. Write a list of your “fucking must get dones” and see to them first, this card is reversed so it does point to extra challenges in accomplishing everything you’d like. Back-up plans are good, and staying present really helps prevent fuck ups: Be. Here. Now.

Have a fabulous week!! 😘

Fuckless Tarot – August 12th-18th, 2019

Ooopsie daisies. I did remember to make you a weekly tarot video, but I also got great news; and when I get excited I also get bajiggity in my nervous system (#spoonieproblems) and do silly things like accidentally record timelapse video… D’oh!

So, in text:
Early Week = The emotional stability of the Queen of Cups, reflect, nurture, get spiritual.
Midweek = The conviviality of the Queen of Wands, get social and connect.
Weekend = Page of Swords (reversed), watch out for “foot in mouth,” a time for lessons in communication, youths may be sassy.

(Better half-assed tarot than no-assed?)

Fuckless Tarot – August 5th-11th, 2019

Energies are looking busy for our first reading, with much to manage and prioritize. Mercury just went direct a few days ago, and we’re still in the shadow; so this could be about unplanned projects/obstacles returning, or things you’ve been working on taking longer than planned. Don’t worry though, time is ripe for fresh beginnings. (Remember: Do the same thing, get the same results. Patterns are cages.)

I’m excited to be working on my YouTube again, which I attempted during my homelessness journey – but I couldn’t really commit, for obvious reasons. Honestly, the videos (mostly about chronic illness) make me feel pretty fucking proud of myself. I’m such a crazy lil’ trooper.

Have a fabulous week!

19 Months of H-E Double Hockey Sticks

In late 2015, I nearly died from B12 deficiency (because that’s a thing); which catapulted moderate undiagnosed fibromyalgia symptoms to completely debilitating. And they stayed that way. My world crumbled. I’m (relatively) okay now, but the lows were intensely low; like 20 months of near-complete isolation, repeat hospitalization, and homelessness, low, lows.

The following selection of Instagram posts is from this 32-month crisis, starting after 13 months of slowly peeling myself off my almost-deathbed (whilst trapped in my studio alone); and ending with blessed chronic-illness-friendly dispensary employment. I’ll let the posts fill you in:

 

My Words, Their Website: Published Fun

More articles under L-I-V-I-N, above!

Cannabis Writing

Leafly:
Why ‘Marijuana’ Should Have Always Been Called ‘The Gage’
End-of-life Hospital Care in California Could Soon Include Cannabis
Endometriosis Is Painful as Hell. At Least There’s Cannabis
Cannabis Church Founder Runs for Indiana Governor
Are We Turning CBD Into Snake Oil?
Is the Cannabinoid CBN an Effective Sleep Aid?
What It’s Like to Be a Parent Who Medicates With Cannabis
Does Endocannabinoid Deficiency Play a Role in These Common Illnesses?
Do Anti-Drug Campaigns Actually Work?
Cannabis Can Make You More Creative—But It’s Complicated
How Cannabis Helps ‘Spoonies’ Soothe the Symptoms of Chronic Illness

Green Cross of Torrance (entire blog)


Personal Essays and Other Fun

SheKnows:
How a Vitamin Deficiency Nearly Killed Me
What I Learned from Months of Being So Sick I Couldn’t Leave My Studio Apartment Sans Help
My Weight Made Me Invisible and I Kinda Miss It
My Sex Life Needed Some Time Off: Lessons from Abstinence

Elephant Journal:
What I Learned During My Time in Prison

Offbeat:
6 Lessons for Introverts That Love People Time
How I Stopped Giving a Shit about My Size
Single Living vs. Couple Living: Game On
7 Tips for the Chronically Ill

LifeHack:
8 Quotes from “Say Anything” that Teach Us to Rock at Life
How Losing Someone’s Approval Can Set You Free

Tiny Buddha:
Do you constantly think about your relationships?
How to Live a Full Live and Smile Your Way Through It

Long Beach Post:
Being Homeless in Long Beach

Yogi Approved:
5  Tips to Support a Seriously Struggling Friend

The Mighty:
How I Learned There’s No Shame In Being Ill 

XoJane (R.I.P. Jane Magazine, you were beloved.):
How I Went Gluten and Dairy Free without Losing My Damn Mind
How to Throw a Fundraiser for a Cause You LOVE

The Experience/Book

UPDATE: I wrote what I thought was all of How I Lost All My F-cks in early 2016, even quickly getting myself an agent. It’s been a really crazy time, a lot has changed in the 3.5 years since. Actually, everything has changed. Now without an agent, I’m deep into rewrites of my own direction; transforming the memoir bit of my book (part 1’s “fuckfull to fuckless tale”) into much more than the brief tale I told nearly 4 years ago.

Life is funny.

Please stay tuned, and here’s a preview:

How I Lost All My Fucks is a one-month experience designed to have you losing all yours. I reveal my personal fuckfull to fuckless tale in all of its gory detail: shitfaced teen shenanigans, lessons from jail time, serendipitous magic, and very personal revelations – then I hand it over to you!
GAF defintionYou’ll be learning several meditation styles via a 30-day meditation challenge, teaching you to use your mind in a more beneficial way whilst making it a more enjoyable headspace. You’ll also be accomplishing a series of Fuckless Adventures, which are just as fun as they sound. (And it all can be done in 20 minutes a day, longer if you get creative with it!)

How I Lost All My Fucks aims to be a cathartic emotional rollercoaster after which you will never be the same.  Kind of like doing hallucinogens or having sex for the first time, but no one’s going to talk about how weird skin looks at great lengths, nor get an STD. Stay tuned for info on the release of How I Lost All My Fucks…

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 7.24.47 PM

Upside Down_20171104124052

Untitled15_20171023141342.png

Passing Notes_20171014210522.png