very personal adsPersonal ads. They’re … personal! Very.

I write a Very Personal Ad each week to practice wanting, and get clarity about my desires. The point isn’t getting my wish (though cool things have emerged from wishing), the point is learning about my relationship with what I want, and accessing the qualities. Wanting can be hard, it is easy to feel conflicted about it, and the reasons for that make this a surprisingly subversive practice…

The Grand Adventuress.

April is, according to the uncannily insightful Fluent Self 2015 calendar, the Month of Adventure.

We are now twelve days into this month, and many interesting and unanticipated situations and clues have come up, all of which I now somewhat belatedly realize are connected to adventuring….

1. I had a dream about being in a tent.

It was a very lovely dream. Well, except for the part where my dance teacher’s mother kicked me out of her home and said horrible things about me.

But the tent part was lovely. It felt cozy and safe, like a sanctuary. Like a blanket fort. And Marisa was there. It was such a good dream.

To be clear, I have such a paralyzing fear of tents — Tisantaphobia!— two summers ago I made it ten seconds inside of one, with the opening unzipped so I could breathe, before fleeing, and then felt shaky and horrible the rest of the day.

But suddenly dream-me is okay with tents. Something is moving.

2. Motorcycle trip.

My traveling companion is going on an eight day motorcycle trip next month, and I will be using that time for a secret op called Adventures in Reverberation.

My op is clearly a thousand times better (for me, yes?) than a motorcycle trip.

For one thing, my op will involve showering. Also excellent food, writing, sleeping in, laundry, and did I mention showering.

(I’m currently on Day 32 of a six month road trip, which has featured a grand total of six showers thus far, so the thought of showering every single day is rather alluring.)

But here’s the interesting part. There is a part of me who wants to go on an eight day motorcycle trip in the future. There is a part of me who is very curious about the details and about how she might make it work for her.

This is new. Because me of twelve days ago would just have said no thanks.

And even backpacking has morphed from “you hike while carrying stuff and avoiding bears, who wants that” to “interesting, maybe”.

3. Igloo.

I went into an old email account this week. An old one, from when free email accounts were an exciting new innovation.

I remember how fun it was to invent a password, I remember looking up at the ceiling and smiling. I loved that apartment, the first one I shared with my husband in Tel Aviv, but this is before we were married. I want to say 1997?

There was something I wanted in that account, and it wasn’t there, but there was an update from a yoga studio there, that was back when a yoga studio was a brand new concept too, at least in the middle east.

It was a piece about meditation, written by one of the yoga teachers, in Hebrew, it was kind of boring and I was skimming, and then she described getting to the point where she stopped having an agenda about meditation, or about anything:

All she wanted was to sit down and not do anything, not mess around with changing the breath, no worrying about posture, just to sit down and skip all the yoga poses and not do anything.

Then suddenly everything softened and it was like she was in this sweet igloo that was all her own, and she didn’t care about any of the usual life stuff of what if X or Y said this other thing, and everything was just quiet and steady.

Normally I would think, Yeah, resonance, but that image does not work for me at all: claustrophobic AND made of ice? Get me out of the igloo! I want to be ANYWHERE but an igloo!

Except suddenly that sounded good. Wild Adventuress me was like, yeah let’s go be quiet and still in an isolated place which is made out of nature, we want this.

We do? Huh. I’m pretty sure I want to be wearing a sundress in the sun! But the feeling, something about that was a big yes.

4. Building.

The beautiful boy loves to build things, and always has some sort of project in the works involving a house or a van or an electric car or whatever.

And I listen to these plans with a giant smile on my face because I feel pleasure when my lover is happy and excited.

But when he started talking about earthships and completely sustainable self-contained off-grid homes…

Suddenly seventeen year old me came back and was very, very excited. She worked in the orchards and climbed trees all day, covered in mud, sore muscles, always tan, sinking deep into sleep the second her head met the pillow.

She liked to perch at the top of a tree, peeling a grapefruit, easily balanced, relying on a combination of core strength and the trust that if she fell, the tree would give her another good landing point. Clippers in her belt, small hand-saw, pants so caked in dirt they could probably have stood up on their own.

She was so happy she was almost bouncing, and suddenly it was just all joy sparks. This is what I want. Being outdoors. Using my body. Building something.

5. Solo hike.

This week I walked for an hour or so by myself, in the sun, in the middle of nowhere.

Without my knee brace!

No one around. Just me, trees, and happy butterflies.

Normally I wouldn’t have done this, or would have been fretting the whole time, just in that kind of general neurotic, pre-programmed jewish way, about All The Things That Could Go Horribly Wrong.

But now it is April, the month of Adventure. I felt strong, capable, alert, happy, steady, peaceful.

What do I want?

Each morning on Shmita, I ask this question in my notebook:

What do I want?

And then I sit with that question for ten to twenty minutes. Sometimes I have a lot of answers, sometimes I stare into space and let the question skip like a stone in the waters of my mind.

What do I want? I want to feel like a Grand Adventuress.

What does that mean?

Remember when Max said, “Havi, you are a great adventuress! You are! If this were the 19th century, everyone would be reading your biography!”.

One of the reasons that cheered me up so much is: I don’t think of myself that way.

I think of myself as an intensely fearful, highly sensitive person who lives a kind of turtle life.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’ve been through a lot of hard things in my life, and now part of my mission is layering on experiences of safety.

I choose Safety First, I choose to take exquisite care of myself, I choose naps and baths and my favorite tea.

Hell yeah to all of that! I actually think it’s kind of brave to choose these things, inside of a culture which celebrates things like hardship, pushing, going without, making do.

But I don’t think of myself as an adventuress.

Sure, okay, I moved countries three times, by myself. And started a business with no money and grew it into something kind of amazing. I’ve taken huge risks, some of which have paid off and others which were Disasters of Spectacular Proportions, making for some pretty entertaining stories.

But I don’t think of myself as bold, daring, fun.

Well, what if I am. And also: what if I can try that on and see what it feels like?

What do I want?

I think I need someone to shake me and say, “Are you serious? At age thirty eight you put yourself on sabbatical and set off on a six month road trip to points unknown with a bunch of notebooks, the boy you like and a small camper. Are you kidding me? Of course you are a great adventuress.”

Or to supply other reasons why I might be a great adventuress.

Actually if you are reading and you know some of the reasons, feel free to remind me in the comments.

I will save them for moments when my monsters are deep in How Dare You Even Think To Appropriate This Word Which Will Never Belong To You When You Can’t Even Do Mildly Brave Things, You Can’t Even Be Around Fireworks Without Having A Panic Attack, And You High-Fived Yourself For Months Just For Getting On A Roller Coaster To Impress A Boy, You Big Embarrassing Baby.

Not that they are saying this right now or anything.

Hahaha. They’re saying this right now. Of course they are.

What else do I know about what I want?

I had a useful epiphany about this yesterday, actually. I figured out why I have so much resistance to the word adventure, even as I crave it.

When I was on (the retroactively named) Operation Resilience and didn’t have a place to sleep for between four to six months, depending on how you want to look at that story, and in what light you want to cast things…

I made a lot of choices in the interest of mental stability/agility, and in support of what I perceived at the time to be the only Mission, namely: surviving, and also not crossing the edge into Other/Damaged/Not-Able-To-Come-Back.

To this end, I tried pretending I was on a great adventure, by choice, and it was going to make me tougher, stronger and more resilient.

It did that, kind of, in the sense of “we’re stronger in the places that we’re broken”, but it also caused all the breaking.

And anyway, I didn’t believe my pretending.

(Now I am laughing thinking about Kenneth on 30 Rock: “Hypothetical situations are a sin because you’re lying to your mind!”)

Something else about this.

I wrote in the chicken about my tendency to go into research mode, head mode.

That’s a holdover from survival mode: mapping out possibilities in my notebook, frantic strategic planning.

The new pattern I want is grounded in presence, choice, looking to my yes, taking care of myself.

And trusting in my good fortune the way I used to when I balanced happily on tree tops. That’s how I want to adventure now.

What do I know about what I want?

There is nothing that exists outside of me. So if Adventuring is a quality, then it is already a part of me.

Now.

I am going to stand barefoot on my favorite rock in the red hills (yes, I have a favorite rock) and do the thing that used to be spirals, and watch how all the little yellow flowers appear to be nodding their heads yes as they dance with me. And I am going to say thank you thank you thank you.

Me: Hey, slightly-wiser me, what do you have for me?

She: I know you know this already, I just want to remind you: external adventures out in the world are not any more brave, valuable or important than internal adventures. If anything, they’re kind of less impressive. Now, if you want external adventures because that is your yes, go for it, I support this with all of my heart. I just want to make it clear that you do not need to go on external adventures to prove anything, if that’s a thing.
Me: Thank you, that is a good reminder. Only what is a yes. What else?
She: There is no else. There is only: Is this my yes.

Clues?

The beautiful boy and I have gone on a lovely hour-long walk in the hills each evening for the past three days. Same route. One hour exactly.

Once it seemed very long, and once it seemed very short, and once exactly an hour. One night the hill seemed so impossibly high that I was momentarily convinced we had to be on a different path. It’s all perspective. And possibly weird stuff happening in the matrix. But the thing I want to remember is perspective.

The superpower of I have everything I need for this.

April - Adventure More The quality for April is ADVENTURE, and it comes with the marvelous superpower of I have everything I need for this. May it be so.

And thank you, past-me, who put together this calendar having no idea what April would bring, and planted such a perfect reminder: I have everything I need.

Things I find helpful for intentions and wishes…

Nap, dance, write, play, labyrinths. Get quiet. Sweet pauses, yes to red lights and purple pills, thank you to the broken pots. Costume changes. Skip stones. Body first. Thank you in advance. Eight breaths in eight directions:

Adventure. Rest. Horizons. Security. Passion. Sweetness. Clarity. Presence.

Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.

So. Last week, aka What do I know about yes…

Ohmygod you guys I know so much more about yes now.

After spending much of the week in aforementioned survival-strategizing research mode, I was finally able to listen to my body and really get that none of the options was my yes.

The next day, a new option showed up out of nowhere: an obvious yes in every way.

It also ended up costing $250 less than either of the not-yes plans, and thanks to a ridiculous number of Hilariously Good Surprises (the very superpower I’d asked for), I was able to get both flights for a total of $127, without using any of my miles. Also it turned out I still have miles even though I was sure I’d used them all up.

And I get to have lunch with Jane, and what could be more yes than that.

Love more. Trust more. Release more. Receive more. Thank you, writing. Thank you, me who asked.

Ongoing wishes and seeds.

Everything is easier than I thought, and look, miracles everywhere. Ha, this doesn’t require my input! My business is thriving happily without me. I think like a dancer. How perfect that it turned out like this. Past me is a GENIUS. I have what I need, and appreciate it. I am fearless and confident. I state my preferences clearly, calmly and easily, no big deal. I trust my yes.

Attenzione! Attention, AGENTS.

If you want a Playground mug and a pack of stone skipping cards: $30 + $12.65 shipping = $42.65. Send a note and we’ll set it up. Ask for international shipping.

Keep me company! Or just say hi.

This is an open invitation to deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads, superpowers, qualities, whatever you’d like, there’s no right way! Updates on past experiments are welcome too, as is sharing anything sparked for you.

Comment culture: This is safe space for creative exploration. We are on vacation from care-taking and advice-giving. We are here to play and throw things in the pot! With amnesty. Leave a wish any time you want.

Sometimes we create extra safety with secret agent code and silent retreat.

Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.

xox