post-workshop recap

I'm writing you from Bali, Indonesia at the moment.  It's been an eventful few weeks, and I wanted to reflect back about my shamanic plant arranging workshops that took place in January and February.

See photos below (more writing to follow...)

WOW, what an experience.  One of the participants pulled me aside on the latest workshop and said "this is the most incredible workshop I have ever attended."  She went on to say she was floored by the combination of nature and spirit, and my facilitation style that allowed many stories and ample group participation.  I was humbled, to say the least.  

I have led many workshops over the years - from cravings to sugar blues to meditation to Parisian adventures to vision boards to how to eat alone to organic grocery store tour to jewish food parties to... so much more.  And yet, this workshop was special, having surpassed anything I have ever led.

How can I possibly summarize this experience?  I can't, really.  It was simply, an afternoon of deep connection with nature, community, and spirit.  One of the participants remarked in amazement, "you should have called this workshop PSYCHIC flower arranging!" - because the assignment was to create "mystery" arrangements for each other (meaning: not knowing who they were creating for or what their intention was - but somehow it all perfectly matched up and everyone got perfectly matched messages from another.)  There were deep shares, crying, epiphanies and a lot of fun and new friendships formed as well.

And to think... this all came about from my own personal process I stumbled upon (read more here.)  And then, a couple months later I had a dream one night that I was sharing my process and teaching this workshop - and so I trusted that dream and began organizing these workshops.  I'd love to teach this workshop again, and continue to expand upon it... though at the moment I'm in Bali, Indonesia... so stay tuned for next developments. :)

coming out of the spiritual closet...

Long personal story ahead... I'm coming out of the spiritual closet, and may as well start from the beginning...

As a kid, I was always drawn to the astrology section of the newspaper.  I remember the newspaper being spread out over the kitchen table on Sunday mornings.  My parents quietly read their respective sections and my older sister, always the diligent student, proudly read the colorful comics in a very astute manner.  I had just learned to read, so I couldn’t fathom reading actual “adult” articles, and I didn’t find the comics funny, so here I was, gravitating towards the astrology section.  I remember my family snickering, “oh astrology is so silly, there’s no truth in there”, and while those predictions in the newspaper weren’t by any means always true – I inherently knew there was something real in there. It wasn’t until years later that I could go deeper into astrology, beyond the medieval hocus-pocus astrology– where planets “make things happen”, and instead find an astrology that is evolved and soulful.
 
I suppose one could say astrology was the first door for me to spirituality.  While I did have a few weird spirit things happen in my childhood, I really didn’t understand them – and I pretty much grew up as a normal kid (if there is such a thing as “normal.”)  Having one Jewish parent and one Catholic parent, I did have a sense there was no "ultimate" way to God, no better way per say to practice – and anyone who dumped shame and sin and “if you don’t believe in Jesus you will go to hell” was clearly out of their wits (and they clearly had not met my Jewish great grandmother, who always a delight to see and showered us with ice-cream and cookies.)
 
In any case, I still won’t say I had any obvious pull towards spirituality, but I can look back and see small openings.  Everyone I knew in my school/town was Christian, and I knew of no other options.  Even me being half-Jewish was “weird” at my school – but nevertheless I loved showing off my matzo pb&j sandwiches during Passover week at the cafeteria lunch table.  Every year I relished in people asking me what I was eating – I thrived in being different and teaching my peers about a new culture and a new food (Ha! I guess not much has changed!).  At a young age, I also decided I was way more Jewish than Catholic because of a story my mom told me – that as a little girl she consulted a rabbi about death – and instead of him lamenting about heaven and hell, he told her we ultimately don’t have all of the answers – and that the good in what we do at earth lives on.  Then and there I decided to be Jewish – I didn’t trust anyone or any religion that claimed to have all of the answers.  So in sense, I leaned towards Judaism, not as a religion, but because I liked the sense of spiritual openness I felt, at least for that initial moment.
 
Carrying on… by high school I was an active swimmer and into fitness, and became interested in nourishing myself better with healthy food, both for myself and for my fitness performance.  For a while it was what I call "Today Show knowledge" aka what Joy Bauer recommended on the nutrition segment (in high school I stopped eating white bread, bagels, and donuts.)   Over the years it became a natural evolution for me in living a healthy lifestyle (and I stopped listening to the Today Show and found other sources, after all, the mainstream idea of eating 3 servings of dairy a day is a very bad idea.) Then, in my mid-20’s, after several months backpacking in Europe and beyond, I really saw in comparison how warped our American society is – with crazy diets, people flogging their bodies at the gym, all of the processed foods, stress through the roof, and the notorious standard American diet (not a coincidence it's acronym is "SAD").  I wanted to do something about it, which led me to enrolling a holistic nutrition school, where I became a health coach.  Towards the end of the holistic nutrition program I was introduced to meditation (thank you Deepak Chopra), and started attending a weekly meditation group, and that opened up a whole new chapter for me, the door at last to spirituality.
 
My journey is spirituality has been very gradual, one thing has always led to the next.  There’s been: yoga, meditation, angel cards, healers, tantra, shamanism, astrology, various teachers and too many modalities/workshops/books to mention.  But, it’s really been over the last few months that truth of how intuitive and psychic I am has come to life.
 
As I've looked at my friendships (the really meaningful ones that stayed around), I noted that pretty much all of close friends are intuitives and healers.  It’s a nice network to have – having people as I say on “speed dial” that can tap in and tell me what to do / what is the ultimate truth.  But what really surprised me, is that when they needed advice, they would often come to ME and wholeheartedly trusted my intuition (?!?!?!).   It wasn’t until rather recently actually, that I've really come to terms that yes, I’m an intuitive/healer too (like attracts like, duh!).  And in fact, I can consult myself (revolutionary!) for the advice and center-ness that I need to connect with spirit.
 
It’s taken quite a bit of – clearing house – over the last few months, to make space for my true spiritual self to come out to the world.  Over the last few months (and years, really), I’ve left a number of friendships and relationships that I just knew wouldn’t be able to support me in my next evolution.  It was just a few months ago that I was at a fancy dinner and someone close to me at the time completely disregarded intuitive work and a famous healer that can make contact with spirits and deceased family members on the other side.  I felt my heart sink to the floor – I know people that do that, and I think given the chance I can actually do that too.  There were also, the friends who degradingly called me a hippie, and the one who berated me for not watching the last season of runway shows because “that’s who you are and why you went to Paris.”  Needless to say, I’ve outgrown many relationships.
 
But as I’ve opened up space in my relationships, and in my life, so has space cleared for my personal growth.  I’ve been attending a Sensitives Support Group – and that along with other workshops, have come to realize that I’m intuitive in various ways, such as I see things, aka I'm clairvoyant, but I am also a “feeler” – meaning I can feel other people’s feelings, moods, things that aren’t my own (often, unintentionally.)  It’s been quite a revelation, no wonder I was exhausted all of the time in various jobs, crowds and gatherings!  I’ve had some pretty trippy experiences too – strong messages in dreams, profound meditations, and gatherings with other intuitives and tapping into spirits on the other side (I would have never thought I could do this, or that this was even possible, but it's amazing beyond words.)
 
Now, before you jump to conclusions – that this is some unveiling that now I’m offering 1-on-1 intuition sessions and so forth…. Hold it right there. 
 
You see, at my core I’m still very much an artist.  And for me, the beauty is where intuition meets art.  I’ve been to art school and fashion school – I have seen plenty of beautiful, well-executed art that is lacking depth, meaning and connection.  And I’ve seen “spiritual” stuff – like hippity dippity fairy art, eco clothes, etc. – that even with the best of intentions looks… like crap (sorry, not sorry.)  For me, it’s the cultivation of both, beautifully curated AND deeply spiritual/meaningful that hits just the right note.  And that's what I'm committed to putting out into the world.

And while I have been moving along in my fashion craft, my creative gifts, etc., I find my connection with spirit and nature more important than ever.  Yet, at times I also find a bit overwhelming to on the spot ask spirit to answer my seemingly "big" questions and concerns.  I have found that letting go of the attachments to an answer - and instead going outside, going for a walk, being drawn to various plants and aspects of nature, and even making a creation/arrangement from it - in allowing nature speak to me - in term I always find my answers. 

I didn't initially plan to start doing workshops again, I was just called to do so by something greater than me.  (After all, I'm leaving Richmond again very soon.)  I just knew I was really tapping into something profound, and felt that I had to share my process - so that it can help others deepen their connections within themselves.  (And there again is my happy medium of spirituality meets art!)

So, if you're looking to deepen your connection with nature, and ultimately yourself... If you're curious to learn more ways of practicing meditation (beyond just sitting still)...  If you like the idea of merging both spirit and art (you'll have several beautiful arrangements by the end to take home)... then tally ho-->  I'm leading an Intuitive Plant Arrangement-Making & Movement Meditation workshop this Sunday Feb 26th (web link here, FB event here) at my home and backyard.  I'd love to have you there if you're interested.  Shoot me a message and I'll send you the address and further details.

And as far as what's next here at AO... I'm headed to Bali, Indonesia next week (!!!).  I will be sure to stay in touch with what next creative/spiritual offerings I'll be putting out in the world.

If you've read this far - wow, thank you for seeing me and witnessing my journey.  I'm so grateful for you being part of this.  

Much love,

Jennifer

PS. This was NOT an easy post to put out in the world.  I knew I had to do this, but geez… I felt the resistance and did it anyway.  Knowing that I have a rolodex of creepy ex boyfriends, family members who will not buy into any of this, old friends / coworkers / lovers who will be like "WTF?!!", and who knows – maybe a “let’s introduce Jennifer to Jesus” creepy religious people.  In any case, if you don’t like what you read – that’s your prerogative, and please keep it to yourself.  If you did resonate, or want to cheer me on – I wholeheartedly welcome that.  I love being of support and resonance to you – and I’d love to know if this has touched you in some way.

PSS. Intuitive Plant Arrangement-Making + Movement Meditation workshop is this Sunday, Feb 26th from 2-5:30PM at my home and backyard in RVA,  details here.  

A new shamanic process...

Hello!  While I've had a pretty quiet online presence over the last year... let me assure that a lot has been going on for me.  (2016 was a pretty crazy and often challenging year for everyone, right?!)  I will be sharing a very powerful process that I developed this past year, which helped me get through the year through the joyous and difficult times. 

You see, over the last few years I've realized how essential spending time in nature is to me and my well-being.  I also have a deep affinity for flowers, and for years have loved picking them from my backyard (or buying them at the store) and putting them all around my home.  But as the fall season comes around, and it gets colder outside, and the leaves start falling and nature begins to 'rest', and there are no more flowers, I find myself disconnect with nature.  This fall, I began diving deeper in shamanism, and began taking shamanic walks and sits.  And, I started to notice acorns, leaves, branches, and other plants aching for me to notice them.  So, I started picking them up and creating arrangements.  I found I was getting very deep messages, about how I was feeling and affirmative message about moving forward.

The real turning point in my process came when I had 3 friends come stay with me for a long weekend.  In setting up their rooms, I decided to go on a shamanic walk for each of them, and create plant arrangements for them.  What transpired when they saw the arrangements, was hours of deep sharing, laughter, and insights.  I realized that I essentially "channeled" spirit for each of the arrangements, and tapped into each of the ladies' energies without really realizing it.  

I knew I was onto something and felt called to share this process with others.  I'll be leading my first Shamanic Walk & Intuitive 'Flower' Arranging Workshop on January 28, 2017.  My intention is to share my process, and teach others how to do it for themselves.  For more details, please see the events page here

Vipassana - 10 days of meditation, no distractions, and facing myself

Original Draft: May 22, 2015

I just got back from the most intense 10 days of my life, that is, Vipassana, a 10-day silent meditation course.

 So, what was it like?  At times it felt like an oasis of quiet, a monastery, a prison, a cult (disclaimer: it’s not), a gracious retreat center, an insane asylum for over-thinkers, a self-induced torture chamber, a boxing ring: me against my mind, and a much-appreciated escape for modern society.  Simply put—it (that being, my mind) was all over the place at times.  But in the end, the experience was ever-more powerful, freeing, and transformative, than just about anything else I have experienced.

 

What is Vipassana?

Vipassana quite simply means "to see things as they simply are."  It's a process of self-awareness and self-observation through mental training.  It originated thousands of years ago in India and was taught heavily by Buddha.  Mr. S.N. Goenka rediscovered the original technique and began teaching it in India in 1969, and it quickly spread around the world.  Today, hundreds of centers globally teach the 10-day courses, which is all run off donations by older students (meaning, former students.)

When I told people I was going on a 10-day meditation retreat, the most common response I got was “wow, I wish I was going! I need some of that.”  Being that I was terrified of going (I signed up and dropped off the list for years), I was very surprised by the answer.  I’d be thinking, well I don’t know what their meditations are like, but me sitting with myself, and only myself, no distractions, for 10 days, is NOT going to be easy. 

Perhaps many people, perhaps maybe even you, have a notion that meditating for 8-10+ hours a day would be the most relaxing activity.  You imagine we’d be smiling during our meditations, feel like our heads are in the clouds, reach some kind of nirvana and feel completely at peace with oneself and the world all around.

Quite laughable really... as this is not the case (not until you reach a very enlightened stage!).  I did reach some pretty tripy states a few times (mostly towards the end), but most of the Vipassana experience is painful, uncomfortable, aggravating, annoying, and at times, nearly unbearable. There is no zen music, words to meditate on (i.e. Om….) nor the ability to visualize. It’s straight up watch your breath, and over time we are introduced to further awareness of body sensations.  The purpose here is not to clear or calm the mind, but instead, to purify the mind.  And for it to purify, you have to go through you s**t for it come out the other side, and from there you allow new self patterns to be form.

As we purify the mind, we dive get deeper into the Vipassana practice.  The purpose of this practice (my interpretation) is to stop relationship to misery- which happens because 1.) we obsessively cling/crave/act needy and are always wanting more more more more (ie. need better possessions, more love, better body, to relive our best memories, etc.)  2.), we become so adverse to things happening that we don’t want.  The truth is, life is full of ebbs and flows, so much we can’t control (i.e. breakup, aging, loss, illness.)  To me, it’s the epitome of the saying “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”  I overheard the male teacher (men and women are strictly separated, but we meditate in the same meditation hall, on different sides) telling a male student that there are several Vipassana teachers and students that have terminal cancers.  They practice, not so that the pain will go away, because quite often it will get worse, but instead to become less and less reactive to the pain.

Thus, instead of perpetuating the cycle of misery, of wanting more and feeling aversion to what is happening that we don’t want, we learn to watch the body and in essence become un-reactive and accepting of what is.  Towards the end of Vipassana we open up to love and compassion for all beings.

 

Settling in.

When I got a call Sunday morning to take a last-minute spot for the retreat starting Wednesday, I knew this was time to say “yes” to Vipassana.  Luckily, everyone was pretty understanding and everything fell into place in allowing me to attend.  After a very long drive, I arrived at Jesup, Georgia on a Wednesday afternoon, I was ready to enter the serene world of “silence.” 

To be honest, I was terrified of many aspects of Vipassana, but very excited by the prospect that I would not have to talk to anyone, make any friends, smile out of politeness, or contribute to group conversations because of the long held sigma that I am “too quiet.”  (I was even excited that if I bumped into anyone, I would not have to say “excuse me”.)  To my surprise, upon arriving we had time to settle in, eat a light dinner and attend an orientation – a few hours of talking until the official silence began in the evening.  One of the gals at my dinner table, clearly an extrovert, said she didn’t know how to be quiet for 10 days, and that she is always rambling on and figuring out her problems that way.  Another lady (an older student) said one of the most difficult parts for her is the food, that is vegan/vegetarian.  She said last time she was gorging on beef tacos in the parking lot (funny as she tells this sitting next to an Indian woman!)  I was most looking forward to the silence and the food, but was actually most nervous about (aside from facing myself and physical pain) - not wearing makeup for 10 days and that by taking the vow of not killing, I was not allowed to kill any pesky mosquitos.

 

The Day’s Schedule 

My mother questioned me, “4:30AM every day on your vacation?”  In which I had to laugh, oh no, trust me, Vipassana is not a vacation. Despite what you may think, it pretty quickly became routine and I’d even wake up right before the second gong at 4:20AM.  We had a series of 7 meditations each day, lasting between 30minutes or 2 hours (although most are 1 hour,) plus one evening discourse that lasted just over an hour.  Some of the meditations were mandatory at the meditation hall, while others could be practiced in our dormitories (and sneaking in a nap once a day became a ritual!)  We were granted a couple breaks per day, we usually consisted of laying in the sun or walking on the walking path (though no exercise is allowed otherwise.)  We did get one chance a day to set up a private interview with the teacher to get help/answer questions (one of the few exceptions where we were allowed to talk!), or ask a quick question at the close of the last meditation.

Were served a hearty breakfast, lunch, and and afternoon tea/fruit break for dinner.  I must say, the food was delicious (some of the best vegetarian food I have ever had!) and very well-prepared.

 

Physical Pain

One of the most difficult parts, other than the mind (which we will get to next) is the physical pain each person experiences.  When you are sitting still on a meditation pillow for hours, doing this purifying and liberating work, we not only become physically uncomfortable, but begin to on the energetic level, let go of our pains through areas of the body (particularly where we had past injuries, weak areas, etc.)  For me, my lower back was causing me ridiculous pain, I could not sit still and had such a hard time focusing.  On day 5 I gave in, and talked to our teacher.  It made me look at what I have been turning a blind eye to for years- I have a bit of scoliosis in my back.  I learned about it a couple years ago from my massage therapist, though I had suspected it before.  Truth is, I’ve never really sat properly in a chair and have not wanted to admit to the scope of caring for it.

The teacher agreed to give me a meditation jack, if she could find any, which basically looks the top part of the chair and sits directly on top of the meditation cushion.  When I returned that afternoon to find it sitting on my meditation cushion, along with my proper pillows, I felt like I had won the lottery.  I could finally sit still during meditation, and not be so disrupted by my pain.  I felt like dancing off my meditation cushion that afternoon “these next 5 days are going to be a breeze!”  Except for that, they were not.  I may have supported my back better, but as I was going deeper and deeper into the Vipassana practice, others aches and pains surfaced.  Physical pain is just part of the practice, and over time you learn become less reactive to it.

 

The Silence

One day I was reflecting on how nice it is to be in silence and how I should do a silent retreat every year.  My mind was going on and on, “I would actually need more silence than this retreat, because geez, it’s so LOUD in here!”  I realized just then it was only mind making the noise, meaning it was only my own my driving me crazy.  I mean really mind, do you ever shut up!?!?!

Otherwise, I must say the silence was very natural to me.  I have taken near silence days many, many times (like every week!), between years of living alone and many travel experiences where I can't speak the foreign tongue.  For me, it was not so much the silence, but the inability not to be able to read, write, or distract myself online.

 

The Mind

Now that I've reported on the all of the physical details of of Vipassana, the main work of the Vipassana practice takes place in the mind. It's quite a process to start observing the mind for all hours of the day.  While it's so easy to label other people as "crazy" when you start to observe your own mind you realize, wow I am quite crazy too.

On the last day when we broke silence and began talking, many of us had a laugh about the ridiculous things our minds thought about.  One of my roommates made up elaborate scenes about zombies taking over our dorms and what weapons she would use to kill them, another noticed a couple people had left (they willingly dropped out) but thought about this could all be some crazy conspiracy and that we could all start disappearing.  I can't say my mind had thoughts quite in those realms, although I did think a couple times about those cult massacres in the 90s and how we were being so disciplined in what they told us to do, that I understand their mentality.

 

What I thought about

At times closing my eyes was like entering my own private sanctuary “ah, it’s so quiet and private in here,” while other times I would close my eyes and become locked in a scoliosis torture chamber, screaming “get the key, and get me out of here!”  

It wasn't long before I was about to separate my "self" from my "mind."  At times I literally had to let my mind scream!, whine, complain, and do it's 3-year old tantrum thing.  Other times (many times) it just would not shut up.  I asked a question to the teacher on the 3rd evening.  I whispered to her in this confessory state "my mind just never stops."  She reaffirmed that perhaps this is my practice for my first Vipassana, to just say "oh there goes the mind again" and bring it back as often as I can remember.  Goeka talks about how the mind is like a wild bull - it takes serious persistence, patience, and discipline to keep it in line.  Don't expect for it to be controlled in 10 days.  I may even rebel more, but keep practicing the work with due dilligence, you will make progress and in time become free from the mind.

For the first couple days I thought a lot small, ordinary and petty things too.  Who I forgot to text, when my package would be delivered, what to spend my next paychecks on, and my annoyance that I was eating way more grains than I typically do (am I going to look bloated when I leave?).

I would go off into larger schemes too.  What am I going to wear on the road trip back, should I buy lipstick or that outfit?  I also thought for hours about all of the body work I'd be scheduling as soon as I got home, fantasizing about my soothing all of the aches and pains of my body away.  For sure I spent hours of analyzing all sorts of plans.

I was surprised what I thought about for much of the retreat.  I thought I’d be working through pivotal things at the moment such as where I am living next or what next steps to take in my career.  Even unhealed wounds from childhood or of the massive changes in my friendships I was willing to look at.  But much to my surprise I thought of virtually none of that.

Instead, (this is so embarrassing to admit) my mind took sharp hold on my from into Day 3 and obsessively into Day 4, 5, and 6 – regarding my past romantic relationships. All kinds of old memories came to surface, things I hadn't thought about in years, like when I used to make eggplant pasta or some off-comment that was said to me that I just sat there and took it.    It wasn't about shaming and blaming somehow else, it was taking ownership for all the times I was inauthentic and most of all, all of the times I gave my power away.  “Mind, do we really need to think about this?”  But my mind would not let me off the hook.  I realized what this was about – again, again, again and again, for hours on end, my mind was purging all of these old memories.  It was excruciating at times, to say the least.   I realized even though I thought I didn't need to work on this area of my life, it's actually very much connected to everything else - the ability to give and receive love in all areas of my life.

Regarding one tumultuous relationship, when he came to surface all I could do was (in my mind) aim a pistol at him “don’t you dare take another step. You are not allowed here [in my mind].”  I was stunned that I was firmly pointing a gun, when I’m here at Vipassana to learn compassion.  After all, one of my favorite quotes is, "Holding anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

My mind worked up a heavy schemes of getting back into my last relationship, including elaborate and sensational details for days that overtook me.  But then somehow, in time those thoughts began to evaporate.  Like they had no substance to begin with, all of those thoughts at some point (thank god) I transcended them and let them go for permanently. 

On day 9 I missed my parent's dog so much, that on our break I was literally clutching my heart because it hurt so much.  It seemed unbearable to be away from him.  It was interesting to watch myself literally feel pain for something that should be "good."  I totally understood how Goeka talks about how clinging and craving leads to so much suffering.

Of course I was fortunate that for some meditations days 7-9 my brain would quiet down for times and I could be in such flow with my meditation.  Those were the best moments, and yet with the practice, we can't cling to those moments and long for them again (because again we would suffer.)  I talked to the teacher about it, she said it's good to want to feel good, but not to obsess over our highs, that we may only experience in that specific form that very time.

 

Day 10 + Reminiscing with the Other Participants.

Partway through Day 10, we are allowed to break our silence and begin talking again.  It feels very strange to be talking again, at first everyone was hesitant before you know it, everyone is blabbering away, laughing, and smiling in full joy.  We went through an awful lot the last 9 days, but by this point we feel so elated and free. 

One of the most fascinating part to me was talking to the other participants when we broke silence on the 10th day.  I noticed how easily my mind judged and made up stories about other people, without us even talking.

On the first night while unpacking, a woman came bursting through the door, didn’t introduce herself and immediately proclaimed by her bed “I need privacy!” and hung a bed sheet around her bunk bed.  Immediately I blamed, shamed, and judged this woman over the course of 10 days.  I didn’t like the way she walked, talked, how you could see her knees from the sides of her dress (no knees allowed), and how she glared at me because her name was Jennifer too and she glared at me when I accidentally went up front when “Jennifer” was called (she later “stole” my first in line interview spot with the teacher, but anyway!)  What’s interesting is how I really knew nothing about this woman but repulsed her for 10 days straight.  On Day 10, I overheard her consoling one of the other women and saying how she had been in many abusive relationships, and how she still has no sensation feelings in parts of her body.  I guess really that’s where compassion comes in. I really don’t know this woman at all and maybe she acts the way she does because of a past history, and all I can really do is have compassion.

Another woman meticulously brushed and flossed her teeth with such precision, that I made up stories that she must be a dentist, or be in dental school, or maybe her dad was a dentist.  Wasn’t she the one who drove up with her husband in the shiny white Mercedes?  She seemed to pout the whole time, and the assistant teacher kept coming back to our dorm to bring her medicine and vasoline.  But I didn’t see her shower, not ever once, does she have some kind of OCD? When silence broke, I lightly asked her “how are you” upon leaving our room, and she told me she found the meditations extremely difficult.  She came because she is recently married and she found out her husband had been cheating on her with 15-20 other women, and each time she meditated, all she could do was thinking about him with those other women.  She was so unsure of what to do next, as she comes from a culture where divorce is so frowned upon that she would never marry again.  She stopped working and wondered what she would do next to support herself.  Again, compassion.

Another woman finished law school, worked for a few years, became so disillusioned by it that she quit her job, got rid of nearly everything she owned, and set out with a backpack and a guitar across America.  Her and her girlfriend had hitchhiked over 150 times, slept in their tent in various parks, ate food out of trash cans (or at of the genorisity of others), and would play guitar gigs from time to time to earn a little cash.  She owned one pair of pants, bought at Goodwill for $2.50, worked at farms across America, and had a heck of a lot of experiences along the way.

Another woman I bunked near, got busted in her small southern town for selling marijuana at 19.  She said she only sold a few ounces at a time (“it was such easy money compared to waitressing”)and never imagined a cute young girl like herself would ever get busted.  Someone set her up though, because she did a deal with a rigged police man, the whole thing got recorded, and a few days later 5 armed police men showed up at her front porch.  She spent 2 months in jail, but has no resentments.  In jail, she found a book about yoga, and became immersed in its teachings, and became a massage therapist while on probation.  (Note: she said she honestly didn’t know which was harder, time in prision or vipassana.)

These are just a few stories…but the participants were quite fascinating, everyone had a story and a reason why they came to Vipassana.

 

Post Vipassana

Following my Vipassana course, I visited Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina (two southern beauties) on my way home.  Taking some time to travel, reflect, and just be after such a powerful experience helped me slowly easy back into society.

As part of my optional donation, I volunteered at a Vipassana course just a few weeks later in Virginia.  While I was only able to commit to 2 days, I must confess those were two of the hardest working days of my life!  As a volunteer, I worked 15+ hour days, which included preparing the meals, setting up the dining room, constant clean, and keep everything running smoothly.  (Also, these Vipassana grounds were not nearly as nice as those in Jesup, Georgia, we slept in camp cabins that were infested with bugs!)  As volunteers, we also sat for 3 mandatory meditations a day, which was utterly exhausting as I was so busy working it was hard to re-focus and sit still.  A few meditators didn't seem very grateful and would complain everyday about lack of food options or other things beyond our control, which made it ever more difficult to stay positive at times.  In any case, the volunteer experience made me very grateful to all of volunteers who were responsible for running my first Vipassana course, as well as all of the people out there slaving away in kitchens and cleaning public spaces, that is HARD work!

I am so very grateful for my Vipassana experience, and would encourage any and all people to give it a try!

May all beings be happy.

 

why is abstract art good?

Clearly, I've always been a painter.

Quite frankly, of all the art out there, I'm the biggest fan of abstract art.

Many people look at abstract art and disregard it.

"Oh I could do that!" I hear people proclaim when they pass a magnificent Rothko at the museum.  Ha! Yeah.... if only you could.

Standing in front of an original Rothko painting - admiring the rich layering of paint, unusual contrasting colors, and its striking grand scale - it is truly mesmerizing.

Abstract art is about creativity, pushing boundaries, and the depth of ~~feeling~~.  (My favorite quote from fashion school-->) "They painted not what they saw, they painted what they felt." 

Call me crazy, but I'll pick abstract art over the Renaissance masters any day of the week.  

Many can learn the rigidness of precision, but something abstract can only come from the heart.  That to me, is originality.  
 

Yesterday (March 5th) was my birthday, thus I am officially 29 (!!!).  

While 29 isn't yet a new decade (30), astrology-wise, it's actually more significant.  It marks the ending of cycle 1 and the beginning of cycle 2 (for the next 29 years.)  Thus a major life review and realignment are typically in order (turning 29 or 58? Here's some more reading here and here.)

To be honest, when I think of who "Jennifer" is, I don't think about Jennifer who loves Paris, was a holistic health coach, graduated cum laude in marketing, or wears a lot of pink.

When I think of who I really am, I'm reminded of the 4 year-old photo of me above as a painter.

In literal terms, yeah I do have minor in Painting & Printmaking.  And yeah, colors and prints are essential in my fashion designs.  

But well beyond that, I see myself for as a painter of life.  I play with the brushstrokes, master the colors, and I create my own life painting (regardless of who appreciates it.) 

To be honest, my 20s thus far have had lots of twists and turns.  My story, is well, a little less neat than the societal "norm".  New horizons, world travel, living overseas, trauma, healing, spirituality, changing course time and time and time again....

But I circle back and remind myself.... this life is my own artful creation.  I am not interested in precision, or drawing within the lines.

This my life, abstract and all, and I'm here to paint, freely and expressively, ....

~~ my own masterpiece ~~
 
 
Wishing you boundless creativity...
... one brush stroke at a time. :) 

Jennifer
 
PS. One of my favorite followers sent me this, very appropriate, no?

 


IMG_4724.jpg

permission to be lazy

I was battling with some self-acceptance recently.

I've come to realize that my greatest perceived "weaknesses" are actually my greatest strengths.

For instance....

I'm vain about my appearance.  Yet, it keeps me dedicated to my yoga practice, always mindful of what I eat/consume, and how I dress.

I'm very shy and introverted.  This one took a while for me to accept, but it makes me intuitive, creative, perceptive, and comfortable spending time by myself.

Even my anger.... when channeled in the right way, I'm super passionate and full of gusto.

 

But you see, there is one attribute that I was not able to shake: lazy.

So I reached out to one of my closest spiritual friends asking.... "So I've been journaling a lot lately, and this keeps coming up, am I just lazy?"

My friend just laughed.  "You, lazy? Well first of all, lazy people don't journal."  (Nor do they move abroad, start businesses or go to advanced yoga classes.)

But in any case, I was onto something good.  She went on, "You actually need to be lazy every day, check out this..."

(This is from Abraham Hicks, which is (hard to describe) essentially an "infinite intelligence" of love and truth that is channeled through Ester Hicks.)

"If we were standing in your physical shoes, we would decide to be lazy.  We are reaching for the perfect word.  We would decide to be lazy for a little while because, giving yourself permission to be lazy you are giving yourself permission to allow your grid to fill in with everything you have already chosen."

So allowing some laziness, is ok, and actually, good?!

You see, lazy is a HUGE trigger word for me.

In the later part of college, I worked upwards of 2-3 internships/jobs at a time, took full loads of classes, was part of a service fraternity, held leadership positions, and then some.  "I'm so busy" became my mantra.

I remember telling my roommate at the time, "I hate lazy people." (ego)

Even in more recent times...  When I worked crazy long hours, they became my bragging rights, my battle scars, no matter how unhappy I was.  Obsessive-doing and busyness became the most highly valued prize.  It seems that nearly everyone (especially in my yang-dominate American culture) is going on and on about their crazy schedules, how busy they are, and how much they have to do - with no slowing down.  So when there's been more of a pause, I've felt super guilty.

You see, we have it all wrong, as Abraham Hicks goes on to say...

"The word lazy has an unpleasant connotation, doesn't it, because it's humans measuring themselves against other humans, based upon a flawed premise: The more you DO, the more you are WORTH.  And that is, the most flawed premises of all flawed premises."

When in actuality it's, "The better you feel, the more you allow."

Because you can do-do-do all day long, but isn't it who you are, who you be, why you do what you do that really matters?  

The truth is, we ALL need lazy.  And the more you resist being lazy, the more you probably need it.

Especially in the winter, we need lazy to recharge before the spring.

Allow some lazy.

Bask in it.

Everyday, in some form.

You are deserving of lazy.

Just Be...

 

xx,

Jennifer

 

PS. Still not totally convinced?  As I've come to realize, it's a catch-22.  You see, the more you allow some healthy and guilt-free laziness into your life, the more productive and energized you will be when it's time to do.

PSS. Some of the greatest leaders I admire - Steve Jobs, Eckhart Tolle, Elizabeth Gilbert, all allowed themselves ample lazy-time before they launched/became famous.

Are you creating from chaos or peace?

I learned a fundamental lesson in nutrition school.

It had nothing to do about proteins, carbs, being vegan or going paleo.

It reminds me of how to approach, quite frankly, everything in my life.  It's this....

The founder of our school loved to sharing unorthodox theories about food, lifestyle, and how everything is interconnected.

He shared... "You know when you go out to eat, and the cook and his wife preparing your food are arguing in the back... You can taste that in your food, right?"

Everything is energy.

Everything is created from a space of love or fear, and you can taste it, and feel it unconsciously.

Along the lines of food...  Last summer I hosted a gathering with 3 close girlfriends.  I found a recipe for summer spring rolls (with peach, avocado and peanut dipping sauce, um!)  A few hours before they came over, I set out all of the ingredients, and leisurely took my time preparing the spring rolls, being present and enjoying each step..... dipping the rice paper rolls in water, stuffing with fresh ingredients, garnishing them with pistachios and coconut oil, and wrapping each one and displaying them on a large moroccan plate.

My friends came over, and were delighted by the large display of fresh spring rolls.  They all had busy and stressful weeks.  As they indulged into the spring rolls, they remarked, "I can taste your zen-like energy in these rolls, and it's making me feel more peaceful too!"  Not to mention, they tasted so delicious.

Everything is energy.  

Not that long ago, I was working on a project, and someone close to me was working on one, too.

We just, approached it completely differently.

She was staying up all night, hardly sleeping.  Fighting with people are her team. "Pushing" for unrealistic deadlines and believing she had to create in a certain way.  Busy but unproductive.  Letting her ego run the show.  Crashing and burning, fast.  It was hard to watch.

Chaos is extremely unappetizing. 

No one wants to be around it.

I've been there myself.  

Pushing against the flow, creating chaos, being fear-minded and repelling those around me.  Short story:  It. Never. Worked.

 

Which brings me too... What are you creating in your life?

A business, a new project?  A new relationship?  A dinner party?  Searching for a new job?  Manifesting your dreams?  Finding peace after a difficult situation?

And which are you creating from, chaos or peace?

Because I'll tell you this.... no one wants to feel/buy/taste/join your chaos.  

Keep in simple.  

Choose peace and flow.  It's the only way...

 

xxx,

Jennifer

 

PS Clearly, I'm creating myself !  I'll be sharing more in the weeks ahead.  xxx :)

 

 

What I love about Paris.... (disclaimer: 33 reasons some of which is very odd, like beets and no top-sheets)

People always ask me what I love most about Paris, having lived there recently for over a year. Truthfully, I can't sum it up in just a few words, as there are so many of my reasons to love Paris (many of which are very odd and peculiar.)  See below, my favorites list may surprise you....

And stay tuned as I will be sharing conversely what I dislike about Paris (much of this is humorous, mind you.) Due to the recent events, while I planned to share post with you next week, I've decided to shelf it for a bit, until it's a more appropriate time.

 

 

8447580065_3278132477_c.jpg

It’s simply the most beautiful, charming city to explore (rain or shine.)  It's endless, there is just so much to discover - walking down a new street, seeing a new perspective along the Seine.  It's a photographer's dream city, even if you are not a photographer - you may just become one.

 

IMG_0040.jpg

The Marais - for chic shopping, charming narrow streets, Jewish delights, museums, and my favorite French restaurant - Breizh (for galettes, aka buckwheat crepes.)

 

So faux-pas, I never see Parisians take selfies! 

So faux-pas, I never see Parisians take selfies! 

People are much less likely to be on their smartphones than my American counterparts.  (Not everyone is trying to instagram the moment.)

 

First Parisian bed: dorm room.  Hooray for no top-sheet!

First Parisian bed: dorm room.  Hooray for no top-sheet!

Oh the little things, and how they can make all of the difference.  This has been a frustration all my life.  I hate that top-sheet on my bed!  I have been kicking them off, and wrinkling them at the foot of my bed for years.  Simple solution as the Parisians do - fitted sheet on the mattress, and duvet cover on top (no top-sheet) - done.

 

The markets! It’s such a joy to select the freshest produce and dialogue with the local vendors several times a week.

 

Comme des Garçons store.

Comme des Garçons store.

Shopping!  Fashion shopping is the most exquisite experience.  Paris has the shopping best in the world (well for me, tied with Tokyo) .

 

Australian expats: My dear friend Hayley, and her adorable son Valentino.

Australian expats: My dear friend Hayley, and her adorable son Valentino.

Expats!  While I am sure there are great expat communities all around the world, I believe there is something truly special about the expats in Paris. This is not the easiest city to adjust to (i.e. Parisian friends can be hard to make), yet we expats stick together and help each other out.  They also write wicked-awesome blogs (i.e. David Lebovitz) and start savvy businesses.

 

Cafe culture! Oh how fabulous it is to lounge at an outdoor café (during any season) to people watch, reflect, journal, or just enjoy the moment!

 

The Parisians are really masterful with the senses.  I have such affinity now for smell (excluding the smelly metro.)  From visiting fragrant florist shops, to appreciating candles, soaps, essential oils, fresh herbs, lavender anything, smell is divine.  

 

By the smell of it, specializes in stinky cheese.

By the smell of it, specializes in stinky cheese.

There’s a shop for anything! Why go to an all-in-1 big-box store when there are independent stores of depth, choice, and quality?  From jam, champagne, fancy umbrellas, specific-style lingerie, pearls, soap, leather oxfords, you name it... there is a store for it.

 

Shameless post: off to an interview.  Parisians loved that plaid skirt.

Shameless post: off to an interview.  Parisians loved that plaid skirt.

The people are just so flippin’ stylish.  Every time I am away from Paris and return, I’m instantly in awe of the Parisian style!  This has been my greatest fashion education ever, just admiring the locals.

 

My college-pal Jarah heats up Paris, all the way from from Kuwait.

My college-pal Jarah heats up Paris, all the way from from Kuwait.

The joy of visitors!  I’ve had family and friends have visit, and many with genuine intentions to stop in.  It’s great to see people!  If I lived in tin-buck-too, I doubt anyone would come.  Paris on the other hand… everyone wants to visit Paris.  I’m just an extra excuse to make the trip.

 

Endless museums.  My favorites are Musee Rodin, Quai Branly, Centre Pompidou, Les Arts Decoratifs, and Musee Picasso.

 

Monet’s Gardens, yes those lily ponds really do exist and they are spectacular. (Note - not in Paris, but a train ride away in Giverny.)

 

Back in the US, I dislike most pharmacies, which are chalk-full of pharmaceuticals and cancer-causing chemical products.  Parisian pharmacies, however, are vastly different.  Shelves are stocked full with homeopathy, organic products, and true-health products. At my former local pharmacy in the 5th arrondissement, I stocked up on organic smoothie powders (chlorella, hemp seed, spirulina), high-quality vitamins, and organic skin care. 

 

Jardin du Luxembourg fountain.

Jardin du Luxembourg fountain.

Parks!  Small, large, tucked around the corner, impressive, quaint - there’s a park for every mood.

 

The fashion of Haute Couture. If it’s Haute Couture, it means Paris.  End of story.

 

My favorite Parisian dog - Ginger.  Coworker/Playmate.

My favorite Parisian dog - Ginger.  Coworker/Playmate.

Dogs are civilized in behavior Paris (re: not aggressive or loose), thanks be God (I was nearly attached by one in another country.)

 

I took my mom here to "browse."

I took my mom here to "browse."

Perfect pastries. To-die-for croissants. Rich butter. Foie gras. Bubbly champagne. Escargot.  A decedent, multi-course tasting menu. Refined food with best of all, no guilt allowed. 

 

Paris is so easy to love, in all languages.

Paris is so easy to love, in all languages.

The arrondissements - Paris is really city of 20 neighborhoods, each with their own flair and distinctions.  I've lived/worked/stayed in at least half by now.

 

 

The fashion industry reigns supreme in Paris.  Sure there is NYC, London, Milan, Tokyo.  But there's still an edge about Paris.  The designers, fashion shows, ateliers, trade shows, exhibitions, industry events in Paris win out in my opinion.

 

Jennifer's favorite: Bob's Kitchen - Veggie Stew with Sate Sauce, Green Juice.

Jennifer's favorite: Bob's Kitchen - Veggie Stew with Sate Sauce, Green Juice.

Moroccan, Sri Lankan, Nepali, Japanese, Peruvian, Lebanese? Vegan? Gluten free? Want a gourmet hamburger from a food truck? Italian gelato? A Finnish or Australian cup of coffee?  There are endless food options.

 

Elegant tea salons, all across town, to leisure as long as I please.

 

Cookware.   You can even follow the steps of Julia Child, as I once did.

 

Vintage shopping.  You would not believe how much vintage Chanel I've come across....

  

The classics. Tailored pieces. Black and solid colors. Stripes. Trench coat. Le scarf.  (As an expressionist, I’ve finally learned to appreciate smart basics!)

 

Allowed to be a little standoffish.

Allowed to be a little standoffish.

Discreteness.  Despite the city environment, Parisians are typically rather quiet-toned in public.  They also are generally quite private and don’t pry far in your business.  

 

Pont Alexandre III, the most stunning bridge to witness.

 

Closed.

Closed.

Sundays are the 7th day, to rest. It's quiet. Recharge. Top it off with a Sunday family dinner.

 

Bragging rights.  Despite all of the hardships of living in Paris, it's the most brag-worthy city to tell people that you live here.

 

Accidental photo...

Accidental photo...

Romance.  PDA.  It's allowed and celebrated.  You can totally make out in public, staying classy of course.

 

Beets.  Oh how I love beets, but hate the mess of boiling/baking them.  There must be some beet-preparation factory in France, because all beets at the market/grocers come already prepared!

 

The Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour, every hour after sunset.  I mean really, it never gets old!

 

 

I'd love to know, have you been to Paris?  What favorites would you add to this list?  And if you've never been to Paris, what are you most looking forward to experiencing when you make it there?  Leave in the comments below, I'd love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

What I dislike about Paris! (why yes, I have some things to say about that!)

**Note: this blog formerly was written in in early 2015, but never shared as promised because I felt it was insensitive following the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

If you saw my post about the 33 things that I love about Paris, you would concluded that I seem to really love this city, no?  Well, yes and honestly, no.

Before I moved to Paris, I read a lot of books about the expat perspective of Paris.  And truthfully, every time they gave me warning signs, like how Parisians can be so difficult, and how Paris can be so depressing, I just passed it off as well they are just not positive enough.

Looking back, I am glad that I moved forward with un-wavering optimism..... but now I also get what they mean, and could have been more prepared.

I love Paris, but there are also so many things I hate about Paris too.  Some funny, some serious... read on...

 

 

 

 

Its hard, I mean, really hard to find kale.  OK it has vastly improved recently (since I left in 2014), but it's still an issue.  I would have to seek out the ONE vendor at the organic market who only sometimes and/or seasonally had kale in stock.  One time, the vendor was so reluctant to get rid of it that he gave me the remainder of the box at no extra charge.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Versailles is SO overrated.  THERE I SAID IT.  It's ridiculously overcrowded, there are way better chateaux and castles in other regions of France and into Germany.  I would say avoid the obnoxious crowds and go to Fountainbleau instead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The guilt of not being fluent in French.   This one is very complex.  Even now, when I tell people that I lived in Paris, 9 out of 10 times the first thing they respond with is, "So you're fluent in French?" No, I am not fluent in French and I am tired of feeling bad about that!  (You try living and working full-time in a foreign country and having very little free time, let alone to learning a language.)

For better or worse, Paris is now very much an international city and an English is spoken regularly.  I discovered through trial and error, that switching over the English often granted me more respect than fumbling over my novice French skills.  In any case, while I understand it is not the most ideal, I only lived in Paris for 1 year and thus survived without being fluent in French.  

 

 

The misconception of the short French working hours.  It may be different across other areas of France, but generally speaking, I found that people in Paris people worked very hard.  Yes, they may have more public holidays and vacation time, but the notion of a "typical" 30 hour work week, with long, frivolous 2 hour lunch breaks over wine, I found completely irrelevant.  Most everyone I knew worked well over 40-50 hours a week, and while they may start later (9/10am) I experienced that people typically got home from work quite late (8/9pm or later.)

 

 

 

 

The Oscar Wilde grave no longer allows kisses.  This was a travesty, I hiked all the way through Pere Lachese Cementery with lipstick and his family has shielded his grave with glass.

 

 

I'm exaggerating a little, but still... why like cheese?

 

 

 

 

Honestly, I've never 'beheld" the power of cheese.  Sure on occasion I could partake on some goat cheese or roquefort but in general I don't particularly like cheese.  (Really, a whole cheese plate, as part of dessert?!)  Don't even get me started on the stinky cheeses...

 

 

 

 

Pollution is really a problem in Paris.  It congested my skin, gave my friend asthma, blocked the view of the Eiffel Tour and monuments, closed roads, and enforced some "non driving" policies in certain areas.  It really is a problem...  

 

 

 

 

The regularly horrid cafe customer service!  To be honest, I got so used to awful customer service that I've been shocked returning to the USA.  Why are you asking me how I'm doing?  You what, want to refill my water?  Smile at me?  Initiate pleasant conversation?  It was so crazy that good customer service became so foreign to me. 

IMG_0790.jpg

 

 

Speaking of customer service, stores often close to incoming customers before closing time!  Meaning, when the grocery store says it closes at 8PM, that often means anytime after 7:45PM you will not be allowed to walk in.  

IMG_4183.jpg

 

Montmartre, the once charming bohemian village of Paris, has become all too crowded and cheap-o touristic in many central areas.   It's really a travesty.  You really have to wander farther off the beat and track now to really enjoy the true Montmartre.

 

 

All of the smoking.  It's really gross, and they don't have the same American-attitude (it kills you, it's offensive, it shouldn't be allowed in public places or restaurants.)  I once had a boss who when stressed would smoke at her desk around us, with no windows open (major yuck.)

 

 

 

The grey, frequently rainy and dreary weather.  They say it's Paris is romantic when it's grey and rainy... but I beg to differ.  Often, it's more like, dreary, dark, and depressive.  I used to pray for sun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The super skinny mentality.  I figured the Americans were the most beauty-thin obsessed, but I found the super skinny mentality really bad in Paris.  The waif skinny look is very, very in.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Serious One) The large populations of homeless and displaced persons all across Paris.  From what I heard through locals, was there is lacking support in social programs/centers to help.  It's disheartening that so many people are suffering. 

 

Finding and securing an apartment. Parisians wants to b*tch and moan about this one, but now from experience I understand why.  Some of my experiences renting apartments where so frustrating that years later I don't want to talk about it.  I'll just leave it with, it's not as simple as searching craiglist.com and signing a lease, because often one has to go through a rental agent and jump through many other legal hoops.

 

Decadent sweets are everywhere.  Yes, this is a problem.  Personally, I find it easier to eat healthier in America.  Now, hear me out... in America I stick to organic, non-GMO as much as a can, and I don't eat fast food or overly processed foods.  Plus, I live in a driving culture, it's not like I'm tempted by dunkin donuts, pizza hut, mcdonalds, etc.  But in Paris on the other hand, every other block has a boulangerie (bakery) filled with artisanal, luscious, handcrafted, sweet delights.  Temptation is everywhere...

 

 

 

 

Dog poo is on the streets.  It's really gross and I stepped in it once. You really have to watch your step...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pickpocketing is an all-too common and unfortunate problem.  It is especially noted around the Eiffel Tower and other tourists areas.  (Note: always watch your stuff and don't ever sign a questionable petition by teenage-looking foreign girls.)  

 

 

Parisians.  (You know I had to go there...)  Look, during my time in Paris I lived two great families, worked for/with Parisians, made some Parisian friends, met some of the nicest market venders, had pleasant exchanges with store owners, and even met at true Parisian gem in the immigration office.  But that being said, even Parisians don't like Parisians.  Parisians have some notorious stereotypes that include being: pessimistic, snobby, rude, distant, bitter, overly-nationalist, and dull.  I can't disagree that at times these stereotypes did ring true.

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, the worst part about Paris is despite this entire list that proves that Paris can be aggravating, dirty, grey, over-crowded, high flawed and then some...  people STILL over-romanticize Paris.  Being and living there was some perfect, idyllic dream.  While I'm grateful for my time spent there, but Paris (like anywhere) is far from perfect.  And the overly Hollywood-style notion of Paris is actually infuriating and highly unrealistic. Paris has flaws, and in the end, I love it for it.  

My 2014: letting go & letting in...

Hi there!  

I personally love reading people's outlines of their year (Gala Darling, Tonya Leigh, Chriselle Lim.)  Thus, I decided to be vulnerable and to share with you mine....

2014 has been about letting go and letting in.  See what I mean...

 

 

JANUARY...

For work I assisted at an Haute Couture fashion presentation at Le Meurice, one of the finest hotels in Paris.  I admired the exquisite craftsmanship and beauty of the collection of evening gowns on display.  After the show, I get yelled at for a shoe left-behind incident.  I promised myself that I deserve to be treated with more respect and integrity.

 

January had long and dreary days.  However, I come home one evening and to my surprise (I lived with a lovely French family) it was the holiday La Fête des Rois and I’m given an honorary crown and we eat delicious cake with almond paste.  It was the sweet little wink to keep going.

 

FEBRUARY...

 

After a lengthy search, I find and sign a lease for a 1-bedroom Moroccan-themed apartment in the 5th arrondissement.  I love having my own quiet space and exploring my new charming neighborhood.

After assisting at a women’s fashion show held at Galeries Lafayette, I approach a popular American fashion blogger and invite her to the opening of the Dries Van Notten exhibition at Les Arts Decoratifs.  She, Chriselle Lim, brings along her BFF Aimee Song.  The exhibit is impressive, and my blogger guests are the most gracious, nice people who deserve every ounce of their success.  

 

MARCH...

I am a volunteer and participate at The Daily Love Tour – Paris stop.  Mastin is a super warm and down-to-earth guy (and also very tall.)  It’s my first live kundalini yoga class too, and I’m hooked.  I feel so blessed to finally meet “my spiritual people” in this city, and make some wonderful new expat friends.

I get up the nerve to talk to my boss using the nonviolent communication approach regarding my long working hours.  Amazingly, it goes over very well, and she agrees I can leave at 4PM (instead of 7PM.)  I am OVERJOYED and work feels way lighter.  The early spring weather is glorious, and I spend most days eating lunch outside of Canal Saint Martin and reflecting before/after work at Jardin des Plantes. 

 

APRIL...

April was a very lively month.  My parents visited, my friend had an emergency need-to-crash-on-your couch transition, new colleagues were hired at work, and I developed new friendships.  For a friend's birthday we go to Opera Garnier, to see my first opera ever.

Work projects get interesting.  I assist/watch some fashion shoots, and even play in front of the camera.  Also, I become a fit-model for a young Indonesian designer, when his curvy model doesn’t fit his clothing proportions.  While I am far from a model (very tall and skinny), I am “close enough” and was so cool to see the designer and his modelist (aka patternmaker, fitter) in process.

 

MAY...

After a series of intense work days, the first three days of May I literally lay in bed, too exhausted to move.  On the fourth day, I have enough energy to meet my dear friend Allison and we go to the elegant Musee Rodin and it immediately becomes one of my favorite spots in Paris.  We share deep conversation, it clicks: to surrender regarding my work.  I trust that legally and professionally something new will open up for me very soon. 

A friend organizes a girl’s "manifestation tribe", and I offer to be the first to host.  We have a vegan pot-luck and do a meditative process where we hold a new intention for each other.  I loved our supportive and blissful gatherings each month, and our intentions blossomed quickly.

 

JUNE...

I meet a talented French lingerie designer through a friend, and become her first apprentice.  I exchange with her business ideas and she gives me the most valuable thing – confirmation that yes, I’m a fashion designer.  It’s the words I yearned to hear,  "yes Jennifer, you are a designer, you’ve got it, keep sketching, just keep going…"

IMG_1490.JPG

In the meantime, I interview with two tour guide companies to lead themed tours in Paris part-time.  I get offers but to my surprise, it all went haywire and didn’t work out.  Other leads fall through too.  I listen to that inner voice telling me, there’s something better in the works for me.  But still, I feel hard on myself for not bringing in more income.

 

JULY...

I visit my friend Allison, who lives in the suburbs outside of Paris, with full house and lovely backyard all to ourselves.  What was supposed to be an afternoon, turns into several trips and nights over there.  I confess that I haven't left the city center in over 7 months, and feel very burnt out.  I realize how deeply my spirit needs nature, quiet, and vitamin D.

Sitting under a billowing willow tree in the backyard, Allison, yet again… nudges me to let go.  I realize I need to let go of my apartment, my anxiety about my work status, and French visa that will be expiring at the end of the year.  I realize how essential it is for me to spend some time away from Paris to gain some much perspective and recharge.  Maybe the universe has a better plan in store for me than my small mind has for myself….

 

AUGUST...

I pack up and let go of my beloved apartment, and head off to Greece.  I island hop to Santorini, Paros, Naxos, Tinos, and Myknonos.  I partake on a spiritual retreat in Paros that turns my life upside down, inside and out in the best ways possible (will have to share more about this another time.)  Deep healing takes place, and a whole new way to practice spirituality.  I feel the most vibrant and open ever, and danced a lot too.  

I spend a delightful under 24-hours in Belgium.  My flight arrives super late from Greece, and my hotel closes before I arrive.  I meet, by chance, a young man at the train station who is a spiritual/yoga teacher, and he offers me his guest room in Ghent.  I know it's safe to go.  We stay up late talking about Osho, spirituality, and travels.  I spend the next day prancing around charming Bruges, eating gourmet chocolates, admiring the charm of the canals and local shops.

 

SEPTEMBER...

I crash on my friends couch in Paris, whom I met on the retreat in Greece.  It feels like an adult girls slumber party to hang out with 3 cool girls for a week.  I’m searching online for a new apartment in Paris, but getting frustrated with my search.  Visiting Jardin du Luxemberg, again with Allison, I confess that I’m not motivated to sign for another apartment, and that I’ve been secretly looking at airfare to travel more.  She nudges me to look within myself and follow my desire to travel.  Others input that I’m “running away” and it stirs a mix of emotions.  In the end, I listened to my inner voice.  I booked a plane ticket to Croatia and head off the next evening.

I land in Croatia without a plan.  I arrive in Zadar, and it ends up being the most lovely place that I stay for 5 consecutive nights.  Thereon, I travel down the coast of Croatia and admire the gorgeous teals and blues of the Adriatic sea.  I head to Montenegro and over to Bosnia and Herzegovina, enjoying them greatly as well.  

I make it back to Paris by the end of the month, in time for Paris Fashion Week.  The highlight is Tranoi, a tradeshow featuring fashion designers around the world.  I am deeply inspired by the designs I see, and the genuine spirits of all the successful (and young!) designers I talked to (no bitchy fashion people.)

 

OCTOBER...

Hell-fire breaks lose with my former apartment agency.  They bill me hundreds of euros in unnecessarily charges.  It’s very uncomfortable yet I hold my ground in response.  We kind-of meet at a middle ground, and in the end I chalk it up to karma.  At least I loved living there (other than the agency), and I learn a heck of a lot about contracts and expectations.

Mid-month, I’m off to Italy.  Milan has been on my travel list for years.  I enjoy some spots (i.e. Como Corso concept store) but truth is, I am yet again overwhelmed with the frantic pace of city life.  I head north to Lake Como and fall in love with the region, visiting numerous small towns dotted along the lake. It’s the most photo-worthy destination imaginable.  

My plans divert, yet again.  Sometimes travel is stressful, not knowing where I am going to stay, even the next day.  Magically, it all aligns in a new way: head north to Switzerland.  I stayed at a truly idyllic bed & breakfast in central Thun.  The views are spectacular amidst the lakes, majestic mountains, and picture-green pastures with dinging cow bells heard afar.  The B&B owners are a lovely couple, the wife a healer and astrologer who was fascinating to talk to.  She confirms that I’m doing the exact right thing for my spirit, to travel and be, and gives me tips for protecting my energy. 

NOVEMBER...

I then head to Ireland.  I never wanted to go to Ireland, but friends/family convince me that I’ll love it.  I’m 37.5% Irish and immediately love the Irish spirit, people are so generous and funny.  I stay outside of Dublin in Bray, enjoying seaside walks and glorious green landscapes.  My host took me hiking on the last day, and we come upon the most gigantic double rainbow!

My views on fashion change and intensify.  I become aware of the ethical, environmental, and inhumane practices that take place within the mainstream fashion industry.  I already was committed to eating organic/ethical food, how did I not know about this in my own industry?  I cave and buy a H&M dress, but then vow that it’s time to give up H&M, Zara, and cheap discount stores, and instead to buy clothing of integrity and value.  I promise to create them as well.

I return to Paris to wrap everything up before coming back to the USA for the holidays.  I had a massive list, plans goodbye to everyone, and visit all of my favorite spots.  I realize by the first week that I don't have the energy and there is no point of stressing myself.  I have to set boundaries.  I let go of everything and decide to do Paris my way.  I hurt some feelings, but in the end, I experienced my last month of Paris in 2014 exactly as I needed.

 

DECEMBER...

I head back to the USA for the holidays.  I haven’t seen my nephew in over a year, but quickly we become best buds, running around the house and playing outside.  Being called “Aunt Jenn” is music to my ears.

I realize how much “old baggage” has been lying doormat at my childhood bedroom.  Why did I hold onto bitter memory items, random junk, and dozens upon dozens of stuffed animals?  I move everything out of the room, donate bags of stuff, repaint and refreshen the room.  The space, still in progress, feels lighter, happier, peaceful, and a better reflection of a happy childhood.

 

And so there it is, my 2014! 

Onward to 2015!

 

Much love and joy to you in the new year!

Jennifer

* Note: Due to length constraints, and there were many memorable people, experiences, and revelations that were not able to be included in this piece.

wow, its been a long time (ah)... but Adventure Often is back!

This letter went out to recently to subscribers...


Hello there Adventurer,

I know i know, long time no see, no hear.  (To be honest, I've been agonizing for months over how to get in touch with you again.)  
 
If it’s alright with you… I’d like to jump in, and share what's been going and and what's ahead for Adventure Often….  But FIRST… let’s get real for a moment...
 
I’ve changed A LOT, I mean A LOT over the last year, just as Adventure Often is changing…
 
I wanted to give you this open invitation to UNSUBSCRIBE right now if this space is no longer appealing to you.
 

Relate to any of these?

  • You attended one of my holistic nutrition workshops (Eat Well & Adventure Often)

  • You found me when I was beginning to lead “Paris-inspired” adventure tours

  • We met at a networking, entrepreneurial, or social group

  • You are a former client or peer

 

You may be elated to hear from me: Wonderful!

OR

 

You may not care anymore...  

Adventure Often may be irrelevant for you...

We've moved on...  

You may even hate my guts...

For whatever reason... 

         ...an unsubscribe is perfectly acceptable.
 

RIP: Unsubscribe

 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -  

 

So if you are still here…  Oh la la ! 


So what’s been going on with me and Adventure Often?!?!

 

Let's rewind to the moment of truth, that changed everything…
After a lot of self reflection, weekly meditation (led at Ellwood Thompson's by my spiritual teacher), triumphs, failures, and a nagging burnout...  I woke on a Saturday morning in July 2013, began reading this book, and realized it was a time to make a massive life change.

 

Above: Le Penseur ("The Thinker")
Musee Rodin (7eme, Paris, France) 

I am passionate about SO MANY things (healthy food, travel, Paris), yet I’ve always had this (not-so)secret desire to following my calling for fashion.  While I've known this from a young age, between some discouraging moments and self-doubt, I put that dream on hold... until I realized I couldn’t wait any longer. 
 
Within weeks of this “wake up call”, I was in Paris, attending a month-long fashion school immersion. That quickly led to volunteering at Paris fashion week shows, working in designer’s showroom, attaining a long-term position with a French PR company, securing a visa, and moving to France… 
 
So, more or less… that’s where I have been...  

 

While it probably seems like a fairytale dream: moving to Paris! Working in Fashion! 
In all reality, there have been many, many tough moments and plenty of adjustments. It’s been a crazy ride, to say the least.  
(Will be sharing more soon...)


Above: Assisting at an Haute Couture Presentation
Hotel Meurice. (1eme, Paris, France)

 

Thus, it’s a new day for Adventure Often.  (choir singing!!)

As Adventure Often is evolving..
I’d love for YOU 
to be a part of it. 

  • I'll be sharing weekly letters (NOT traditional marketing newsletters) about this crazy adventure...

  • I'm creating my first fashion designs ;) , and I'd love to share with you how that is developing...

Perhaps, through my personal heroine’s journey: full of promise, crazy twists / turns, challenges, and discoveries...
                                 ...you may be inspired to create an adventure all of your own.

 

Next up, I'll be sharing….

  • The truth about Parisian fashion (I sooo had the wrong idea of what is "fashionable" before I moved here)

  • AND... the most painful lesson I've learned from this year in Paris, which I'm in the process of un-learning (so I never do that again!)

 
Many thanks, and you'll be hearing from me soon! ; )

 


Much gratitude,

Jennifer

PS. I sound differently, ey?  Yes, those around me have been calling me especially courageous, brave, and authentic.  Taking off the mask... Ready to show you the real side of Adventure Often.  Stay tuned... :)

The Modern Parisian: 4 ways she approaches fashion

I so had the wrong idea about Parisian fashion before I moved here...

I was dreaming of perfectly coordinated outfits with berets and frilly, whimsical, laced/ruffled/pleated skirts to express my romanticized feminine side to my hearts content.

With inspiration looking something to the liking of.... (see images)

 
 
 
 
 
 

OY.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth of what Parisian fashion looks like.  

At least, not in 2014.

This is not how Parisians dress, frankly, at all.  

Instead, this is how the the modern Parisian dresses....

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 9.00.07 PM.png

ONE: Having a slightly “unfinished” look is tres cool.

Today, what I actually see amongst Parisians is a look that hints at being (slightly) imperfect.  In fact, the modern day Parisian wants to appear that she isn't trying too hard.  For instance, they may wear the sharp blazer/fitted shirt, but it’s paired with the slouchy pant.  Or, they wear a intricately tied scarf with purposely un-tamed hair and untucked shirt.

Who needs perfection anyway?  Ahh so liberating!

 
 

TWO: You don't need a massive wardrobe.  Invest in quality. (In fact, it's OKAY to re-wear the same fashion pieces.)

I came from a land where shopping near-weekly is all the rage (just look at the all of the fashion blogs out there), following "trends" is essential, walk-in closets reign supreme, and "I can't be seen in this again" is common talk.  True Parisians are not like this.  They appreciate the quality pieces they have, and they have a no-apologies approach to re-wearing what they have regularly.

Parisians invest well in their classics.  If you have been to Paris, you have probably noted that, aside from global chains in main areas, clothing stores are not nearly as cheap in price than American stores.  Why?  The fashion here is designed with far more attention to detail and quality.  I have become passionate in recent months and have stopped consolidating cheap stuff from cheap stores (the stuff falls apart and it's horrible for the environment!) and instead I invest in quality pieces, too.  Just remember, build a wardrobe you love slowly, celebrate what's there, and just mix and match!

 
ce01c3a00b4e0736ff8e72fb5ca422f8.jpg
 

THREE: There’s an over-abundance of noir (re: black) on the fashion scene.

Go strolling around a neighborhood Parisian arrondissement, eavesdrop at those lounging at outdoor cafes, shop at the staple Parisian stores, and much of what you will see in fashion is black.

While fashion lights up more during Paris Fashion weeks (perhaps from those foreigns like Italians and Americans dropping by ;), the main staple in Parisian is black, with slight touches of grey, navy, and white.  In fact, I once went to a party for a fashion magazine and everyone, I mean everyone was wearing black.  I stood out (perhaps a little too much!) in my outfit of red, pink, and prints.

Truth be told, the average Parisian is a bit subdue, not wanting to stand out much or be too bold.  (You could probably point me out from kilometers away, with my bright colors!)  If I could give Parisians a dose of fashion advice, I’d tell them not to be afraid of color, to embrace it! 

 

 
 

FOUR: Look more closely: there’s details there defining her style (quirky, expressive, and sexy is there after all.)

While Parisians dress a bit imperfect, invest in classics, and over-wear black, there is more than initially meets the eye.  Look deeply and there you will are probably stubble hints of her character.  It could be: a quirky pinned character on her sweater, an intriguing cut, an unusual jewelry design, a high slit or partly sheer top.  Just be sure to look for it!  

 

Voila!  Now you know how to dress like a Parisian, too.

I'd love to know, do these Parisian fashion tips surprise you too?  Is there one you would like to incorporate more of in your wardrobe?  Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been studying Fashion in Paris!

IMG_0373.JPG

(At the world's premier fabric trade show, in Paris.) 

Bonjour!

My apologies for being terribly out of touch with you, but I have big news...

I've been in Paris for the last month (the REAL Paris this time!) studying fashion in an intensive fashion school program!! : )  

It all happened very quickly... as often does when I am ready to follow my dreams.

Fashion has always been my true love and I'm so excited to intertwine my love of fashion with Adventure Often with you.

I've grown tremendously over the last month, as has my passion for fashion (hehe rhymes.)

I'm off to class now so I better run!  I promise to share more Adventure Often updates soon.

Now, go follow your dreams!

Merci beaucoup,

XX Jennifer 

PS What's fashion school been like?  Busy and marvelous... I've sketched almost every day, rediscovered watercolors, have visited at least 50 designer fashion shops, learning so much about the fashion industry and it's people, and I volunteered at two Paris Fashion shows yesterday.  Tres bien!

 


feel bad for not getting enough done? {celebrate instead!}

IMG_0773.JPG

Don't be so hard on yourself... celebrate!
{Small evening celebration in Delhi, India}
 


How are you feeling as you wrap up your week?  
Feel that you didn't get enough "done"?

I can so relate.  You gotta hear this!  It has really helped me...

To get more things "done" I've had "accountability buddies."  And it would go like this... morning phone call, or email, at the same time everyday and we'd profess what 3 things we would each accomplish that day.

BUT truth be told, in all the months of doing that, I don't believe I ever accomplished all that I said I would.  Because really, I vastly underestimate how long tasks actually take, what is important to do before diving into the day, and I also get inspired {orsidetracked!} on other tasks.

Basically each day I would feel bad about myself for not getting enough done, and the next morning I would have to confess what I didn't do, which is never what I promised.  I was in constant state of self-criticism. 

LUCKILY, I had a total change of mind on accountability.  SEE what I now do:

Instead of setting out with a list of what I should do {and later feeling bad because that didn't happen} I have a buddy for the END of the day.

Instead of accountability we call it "Celebrations."

We share what we DID get done today, and celebrate that.  Today I did XYZ, X is done and I really enjoyed working on it, I found out something spectacular doing Y {still need to finish it though}, and I learned this doing Z.  And, I'm so excited about starting A upcoming, I heard great news about X, and W I'm overwhelmed with but I'll get going to push through fear and start!  Congrats on your celebrations today, and thank you for your support!

Talk about a more celebratory, proactive state of "accountability!"  Each day it's inspiration to propel more forward {including the tough days, too.}

HOMEWORK, toss aside the half-done to-do list and get-that-done regrets , how can you start CELEBRATING what you DO accomplish each and every day?

(Start celebrating and I bet you'll actually get a whole lot more done ;) )

Wishing you adventure & celebration.

xx,
Jennifer

PS Curious who my celebratory accountability buddy is?  Tis the lovely, talented Bianca Filoteo, who is a story-teller, actor, screenwriter, filmmaker and founder/coach for Video for Shy People.  (Yeah she's super awesome, you should check her out!

 

why i ended my nutrition biz and now do "Paris"

Picture 3.png

Bonjour!

If you have been following me for some time, you know that this business started as Eat Well & Adventure Often.  I did health & nutrition coaching.

It all started after spending extended time overseas, and I returned home and I was shocked by the American way (or lack there of) of eating and exercise, including:
- 5:00am extreme exercise classes
- microwaved Lean Cuisines
- chalky fake protein shakes
- addiction to diet soda
- people too stressed out to walk  
That's not how they do "healthy" across the globe!

But as you know, I'm now Adventure Often.  : ) I missed adventuring and travel myself as I grew my nutrition business, and soon found myself adventuring in a new way around town.  Thus, here I am, introducing many others to local Paris-Inspired Adventures. 

It's funny looking back.  When I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I was actually most drawn to the mindset and spirituality lessons.  (Including Deepak Chopra, meditation, Debbie Ford, law of attraction, positive mindset.)

DISCLAIMER: This is advance information.  Digest at your own stomach capacity.

I realized, even more so than physical junk food, people are addicted to junk food thoughts.

Second disclaimer: I'm forever a student of this stuff.  I'm so totally working on this myself.  It's ok-it's a practice.

Junk food thoughts include... self-sabotage, self-criticism, self-doubt, self-fear, and limiting beliefs.  
Just like twinkes, ding dongs, and big macs, this stuff is toxic!  
(Healthy-eating people can be just as guilty of junk food thoughts.)

Do some of your thoughts include...
I work too much.
I don't have the lifestyle I want.
I love art but I never do it anymore.
I love to travel, but I can't anymore.
I love fashion but I don't dress up anymore.
I love the outdoors but I'm inside all the time.
I love food but what I eat now is boring.
I am too bored, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

Hate to break it to you, but I will... you have junk food thoughts.
But like your physical health, you can become super fit and healthy and lose your appetite for the junk food thoughts!

Ready to change?  I'm going to be real' real with you.
I have/had coaches.  I've done programs.  I've gone to many conferences and workshops.  I learn and study.  I listen to teleclasses and watch videos.  I read.  I'm into self-help. I meditate.  I journal.
I benefit very much from it ALL.  (you too ?)  It's all amazing and upleveling!

But for it to really work, in the words of Nike, you have to:
"Just do it."

What's so unique about my Paris-Inspired Adventures...
We aren't just talking about embracing more adventure, play, enjoyment, and creating our ideal lifestyles.   
We are actually DOING IT live, and breaking away from our junk food thoughts and having a true adventure!

If you want to...
Play with your ideal global lifestyle
Explore fashion, art, gardens, and some sweetness
Live like a millionairess, and be whisked away in luxury for an afternoon
Explore the experience of frolicking in charming Paris
And want to welcome more adventure to your life...

Are you ready to say goodbye to junk food thoughts and welcome adventure in your life?

Just do it!

And if this speaks to you, I have just 2 spaces open this Saturday.  (June 22)
Grab these last spaces on the Paris-Inspired Adventure, this Saturday from 2-5pm.
I'd love to show you to forgo the junk food thoughts and adventure often. : )

Wishing you adventure!
xx,
Jennifer

PS I JUST have 2 spaces for my Paris-Inspired Adventure this Saturday?  Are you in? 

 

What if you had $20 million? (surprising adventure revelation!)

search.1.jpeg

May you be blessed with the essence of $20 million.
Love, Jennifer & the wealth cat

 

Hi There!

I had a huge revelation recently.

ESSENTIALLY.... What would you do with your life, if you had $20 million?  

Revelation:
~~ Start doing more of THAT now. ~~

I made a list of what I would do with my life if I had $20 million.  
And, I was SHOCKED by my list.  

See some of this list...
See my friends more. Make new friends. Stop being scared to talk to inspiring people. Savor each bite. Forgo that cupcake, with $20 million I should look fabulous all the time. Take a new exercise class (Richmond Barre maybe?). See more of Becky and take more of her yoga. Collect teapots. Get serious about learning French. Meditate daily and learn more from Denise. Become friends with Olivia Palermo. Create art. Welcome more music in my life. Fashion blog. Follow more of Benny the Irish Polyglot. Get a new hairdo. Add video to my business blog. See Katie more. Write Nicole from Gary Pepper Vintage. Repaint my living room. Write love-notes to friend-crushes. Get a massage. New makeup. Linger over home-cooked dinners. Babysit my nephew. Read more. Take more soothing baths. Always tell the truth.

Yes sure there were other things... shop weekly at Net-A-Porter, travel first-class, wear Alexander McQueen couture, get a personal organic chef for lunch, jetset to Colombia or Bali tomorrow, and hire the most talented designers and assistants.

But AT LEAST 75% of the things on my list are FREE or at least accessible to me RIGHT NOW.

~~ Like, WHOA. ~~

Next... Monday morning comes along. 

I'm about to gallivant to my desk and I'm about to flip open my laptop until...
I thought... what would I do if I had $20 million?  

I would NOT start Monday morning at my laptop checking email.

Answer: I'd take in this beautiful morning and go bike riding.  Oh, and I'd drink more fine tea.

The Result?  A 45-minute wonderful bike ride to start the day.  I then took a short walk for green tea with strawberry essence.

Whole experience?  Set me back a tire pump and $1.10+ tax.
Whoa, I can live like a millionairess starting now, before I make the $20 mil.

And the rest of the day?  I was super productive and energetic.

Sure, for the inner critic... you might have to keep that 9-5 office job a bit longer to pay the bills.... you may have to shop at H&M instead of Net-A-Porter, for the moment.

But I bet you can start living like a millionairess for part of your day, before you too make the $20-million.  You'll be a whole lot wealthier inside.


HOMEWORK: make that list, what would you do with your life if you had $20 million?  Highlight the ones you can do today, and get started : )


And if on your $20-million list, you include the desire for more travel, a getaway to Paris, and the ability to experience more luxury and leisure... have you seen this?  I'm leading a Paris-Inspired Adventure June 22nd.  Come along, I'll show you how to live like a millionairess who travels, indulges, and savors each bit of life, all inspired by Paris.  It's happening here in Richmond, VA June 22nd!  Details here.

Wishing you abundance adventures!

XX
Jennifer

PS My next Paris-Inspired Adventure is June 22nd, reserve your space today and save $100.00 with your lady-friend.

 

Skydiving or Desire, what's really the ADVENTURE?

How do you define ADVENTURE?

Picture_4.5.png

It's interesting leading a company named Adventure Often.

If I just say my company name without explaining... often I get asked...
Do you white water raft? Lead people on thrill-seeking trips?

Err... uhh... no.  Not exactly...

It's interesting how our society proceives "Adventure."

To be honest... I've done many of typical-qualifiying "adventure" experiences.
- I've traveled solo to over 20 countries as a young lady, going spontaneously without much of a plan for months
- I've been scuba diving, rockclimbing, & surfing in Australia 
- I've hitch-hiked in Morocco and Texas {oy, never told my parents that}
- I've rode on the back of a motorcycle {without a helmet} and on-top of an elephant in India
- And, I went skydiving in New Zealand

Let's take the skydiving one.  That's usually the one people go "WHOA! You went Skydiving?"

Yes.  I went skydiving.  I even got motion sickness on the way down and threw up in the air {gross, I know.}

Was skydiving scary?  To be honest... no.  I went with an experienced company, they do thousands of jumps.  I jumped with a professional strapped to my back.  What is there to be scared of?  The air was crisp and the view of Queenstown, NZ gorgeous, and a professional jumper there to tell me what to do.

I share the skydiving "adventure" as more of a... conversation point with people.  It gives me "coolness" points, though it all honesty, I don't find it really that adventurous.

Nor did really any of those points above on that list {although natural reflex with outdoor rockclimbing is a bit scary.}

What have really been the adventures in my life?  The scary, thrilling, heart beating out of my chest adventures?
Starting a business.
Making new friends.
Falling in and out of love.
Being honest with people.
Following the truth of my heart.

Yup, I do lead adventures.  And they are adventurous {but so not in the typical way.}

They are Paris-Inspired and led here in Richmond, Virginia.  And yes, we ride with a luxury chauffeur, learn about Parisian fashion, eat delicious French treats, and take a special tour of a Versailles-inpsired park.  But there's so much more...

We go on the Paris-Inspired Adventure to allow our deepest desires to come to life.  We partake on the adventure to discover how to live a better life, inspired by the European way of living.  NO more saying "they live so much better in Europe" and "I'm so much happier when I travel."  In this live adventure, we tap into the desires of our heart, using romantic and luxurious Paris as the inspiration.  

Question for you: What have truly been the "real adventures" in your life?  And were are you seeking more?

If you truly want some adventure in your life, I invite you to come along June 22nd.  
I promise you, you haven't ever been on an adventure like this before.

XX.

Jennifer

Look what's new!

Hello!

This is quick note from me to share with you what's been going on here with Adventure Often. (remember last, I mentioned I was growing much in my secret garden ?)

I just launched my new site!  (Which you are now viewing!) 

AND, I want to offer you a valuable resource.  People often ask me... "so, to find Paris in Richmond... you must go to Can Can [French restaurant] a lot?"

NOW... while I do like a good brioche or crepe from time-to-time, there's much more to finding "Paris" than visiting a French cafe.  In fact, I dare say, there are many more creative and fun ways to find some "Paris."

SO... I've put together a very creative and fun collection of Paris-Inspired ways to infuse some Paris in your life.  And guess what?  It's totally FREE and available to you right now.

Download by clicking the top bar on my website titled: 20 Ways to Infuse some Paris in your Life (from wherever you live) 

Do me a favor?  I'd love to share this valuable and fun resource with more people.  Share my website with your friends, colleagues, and loved ones who would to infuse some "Paris" in their lives too.  Please have them download this guide by visiting my website and clicking the very top bar. 

I'd love to infuse more "Paris" across the globe.  I appreciate your support!

Merci beacoup, Enjoy!

Jennifer

PS. Be back tomorrow with more insights and adventures. : )

what's growing in your SECRET garden?

945912_10101648272425703_136959135_n.jpeg

Do you love to visit flower gardens?  YES/OUI...  I do too. : )

Naturally, I get a lot of inspiration from gardens in Paris.  There are many impressive gardens throughout Paris, notably Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries.  

But what you may not know is that... in Paris there is a whole subculture of secret gardens!
                                                                                                       
Scattered throughout Paris in small squares, nestled in neighborhoods, and even outside of businesses such as hospitals, hotels, and city hall, lay uniquely pristine secret gardens throughout Paris.

I love the idea of the secret garden, both literally andfiguratively.

Everyone woman (and man) should have her (his) ownfiguratively secret garden.

In her secret garden she grows...
Her deepest desires.
Her adventure dreams.
Her indulgent hobbies.
Her brilliant ideas before they are ready to be shared.

Her secret garden is a safe haven for growing truly exquisite flowers.

In your secret garden: Love your secret garden.  Select the most beautiful and exotic flowers.  Dig your hands in the soil.  Plant the seeds.  Romance your flowers as they grow.  Sing sweet songs aloud.  Set the bird houses.  Install a flowing fountain.  Journal in your secret garden.  Meditate there.  Breathe in the fragrant smells.  Play in it.  Pull out the weeds.  Speak loving words there.  Revisit regularly.    
When you are ready, open the gate, and share your garden's glory.
(No need to share your secret garden prematurely.  Most other people won't understand the garden vision anyway.

Ready to grow and mend your own secret garden?

(Notice, I didn't ask what you are growing, because it's secret!)

What's growing in my Adventure Often secret garden?
So much.  I'm quite the gardener over here!
I know I know, the smell of lavender in my secret garden is permeating over to you!

Some flowers are about ready to blossom... including my next Paris-themed Adventures (and with special new blossoms.) I'm almost ready to let you see...  I'll be announcing the June dates and details next week (so stay tuned!)

procrastinating to START new adventure?

Originally posted May 3, 2013

Have a hobby you want to start?  
Do you mean... swap "want" and ^INSERT^ *are procrastinating*.

I procrastinate too. : /
And this week, I've been hit over the head with reminders...
- "Some-day is not a day of the week."
"Why I have a problem with dreamers... the world needs doers."
"Are you just going to let life pass you by?"

A lot of procrastination boils down to is... a fear to start.

Luckily, this week I had some serious inspiration.  
In form of... 

417873_588957797783099_742348406_n.jpeg

^This is my parent's new puppy, Captain.^
He's 2.25 months old...
11 pounds...
pure breed border collie...
& total a bundle of puppy love.

When I catch myself saying...
"I don't know enough" .... to START.
"I haven't enough experience" .... to START.
"I need more confidence." .... to START.

I think of Captain.
A puppy.... a true beginner, who makes starting look awesome.
- He's wide eyed and amazed by all that he sees around him.
- He'll loves freely and will lick your face with pleasure.
- He's playful just 'cuz (I even catch him pouncing towards his toys with delight, when (he thinks) no one is watching.)
- And, he's adored for his puppy/beginner's charm.

Sure on occassion he wets in the house...
Crosses into the neighbors yard...
Cries in the crate (can you blame him?)
But he learns quickly, and forgives easily.


Life to him is one big adventure from the start.

What about you, what's your next adventure to start?