Personal ads. They’re … personal!
On March 12, exactly ten years and five days after this business came into being, I set off on Shmita, my sabbatical experiment, something I have been
threatening to do dreaming of for many, many years, not thinking I’d ever be brave enough to go for it.
It has been pretty much exactly as sweet, exhilarating and terrifying as I imagined it would be (okay, maybe more).
It’s intense and unnerving to not have a plan, to intentionally let all my fields lie fallow. To stop working. To have no idea what I’m doing in life. To let myself fall apart and release, over and over again, while trusting that it’s all going to be okay.
And all of this is also beautiful and important and healing.
For the past four months I’ve been on the road with my lover.
A truck and a tiny camper and no plans.
California, Utah, Nevada. We hiked and slept and cooked and held hands and were quiet together under the stars.
It was equal parts recovery time and adventuring time, and then things changed, as they do, and I ended up coming back to Portland, and two weeks later my lover followed suit.
I was feeling anxious and out of sorts about being here, lots of monster-thoughts: it was a mistake, this would break Shmita, I was ruining everything by coming home.
Sure, we hadn’t had plans-plans, but we’d more or less agreed to spend July camping in Colorado, then head to Wyoming, two dance conventions in California in August, followed by finding some quiet, pretty places in South Dakota into mid-September.
And now I was back home and none of that was happening, and my lover was selling the truck and camper, and it was all very surreal.
Being back unexpectedly in this urban environment, doing boring day-to-day things: maintenance, house stuff, errands, laundry…
Everything felt tight and cramped, both inside me and all around me, and my monsters were whispering that I had failed at Shmita, and at adventuring. Just look at yourself slinking back to Regular Life, tail between legs, they said.
They said Shmita was over now, life was just going to quietly turn back into working all the time, or to listless hanging out and hating everything, either way I was doomed to all the usual patterns.
And I worried they were right.
But of course they were wrong.
That’s the thing, right?
The monsters are best at three things: worrying, shaming, being wrong.
Well, thanks to past-me wishing those beautiful wishes, I now have a google document called Operation True Yes, and every time plans change, the thing I was previously going to do gets put in a section called JOYFULLY SKIPPING!
This makes me smile. I remember skipping (joyfully) with my lover down the dusty path in the Red Hills, which we did right after we decided to (joyfully) skip Salt Lake City and stay in our sweet hidden campsite, back whenever that was, maybe in April.
Anyway, I was updating the document this week, feeling sad about all the adventures we aren’t currently having, conflicted about my/our decision to be in Portland, even though, yes, this is exactly what is indicated right now.
And then I realized something.
It is exactly four months since Shmita began, and since my lover and I embarked on our roadtrip.
And four months is exactly one third of the year.
And three months is a quarter of the year. And the first three months of Shmita were incredible, and the last month has been a slog.
If my year is a compass, and of course it is, then the first three months are the progression from North to East.
My eight compass qualities for the year Shmita are as follows:
North: Adventure. Northeast: Rest. East: Horizons. Southeast: Security. South: Passion. Southwest: Sweetness. West: Clarity. Northwest: Presence.
This means the first three months were to have been about ADVENTURE-REST-HORIZONS.
Yes, that’s hilarious. That is exactly what they were about.
And guess what else this means.
I have been looking at this all wrong.
I’ve been telling this story in my head about how Shmita was this beautiful grand adventure until [I got sick and stuff happened and I had to come back to Portland], and now I’m stuck here getting my house ready to be rented out.
But that’s not what’s happening at all!
What’s happening is that I am in the second quarter.
The second quarter is the part of the compass that goes from East to South, which means that this is the quarter of HORIZONS-SECURITY-PASSION.
And of course in a quarter anchored by security it makes sense to be in my home.
And of course if I want to focus on passion, what better place to be than in the city where I can go to Waltz Brunch and take Hip Hop Cabaret classes and choose between multiple burlesque classes….
And of course if the next indicated step is getting my house ready to rent out, and possibly find new quarters (yes, quarters) for me, then a QUARTER comprised of three months is a wonderful container for that secret op.
And of course renting out my house is about security, which allows me to pursue both horizons and passion.
Here is what I love about quarters.
One, they’re intentional.
A three month period is a chrysalis, a gestation time for something to come into being.
I don’t need to know what that is. I’m just making space for it. I’m intentionally choosing Portland, because that’s what’s indicated. And I’m naming the qualities.
This feels way different than “ugh I couldn’t make adventuring work and I had a health crisis and I had to deal with the house”.
I can be in a story about Everything Breaks And Nothing Works, or I can be in a story about Voyages Have Segments Or Chapters And I Can Welcome Myself Into This One And It Can Be Beautiful.
The other thing I love, no surprise here, is that QUARTERS is a double meaning. Quarters = time (like a fiscal quarter), and quarters = space (welcome to my quarters!).
I’ve actually written about this before.
Back in December, 2011, in a post called Metaphor Mouse helps me vacate my quarters.
That was about making peace with the calendar, and I allowed the quarters of the seasons to become living quarters! The winter cabin, the spring cottage, the summer gazebo, the fall treehouse. Metaphorical spaces to play.
And this year, on my Shmita year, the quarters are a little different.
There was mid-March to mid-June, which was about adventuring and expansiveness.
Now I am in this new quarter which is about security, foundations, things subterranean. Until mid-September when I will set sail into the next quarter.
My lover and I have already been talking about going to Kentucky in mid-September, which might or might not happen, and I am going to find a way to heal my tent phobia.
And whatever happens, I will be sailing South to West on the compass then, which means it will be a quarter (and quarters!) of PASSION-SWEETNESS-CLARITY.
Then the fourth quarter of Shmita, mid-December to mid-March, circling back around from West to North: CLARITY-PRESENCE-ADVENTURE! This feels so good, my toes are wriggling, and I can’t stop smiling.
I don’t even know what’s going to happen then, but I can feel Incoming Me glowing love from West and from North, waiting for me to join her, waiting for me to become her.
What is my wish about?
This shift in thinking/feeling for me has been so immediate and so all-encompassing. A complete about-face from Everything Sucks to Oh Wow So Much Beautiful Possibility.
It reminds me of when I used to do coaching, and we would have so much fun and my clients would be like, whoa wait what just happened how come everything is good right now. That kind of magic.
I no longer feel stuck in Portland. I feel excited to be here, to be investigating this quarter and these quarters, finding out what is here for me.
So my wish is to bring this outlook, this thrill of anticipation, and this playful intentionality into every aspect of my day, especially into things that feel tight or stuck. My wish is to play.
You are invited to share many !!!!!! about this big realization, to share anything sparked for you about QUARTERS or time or play, to say “oh wow, what beautiful wishes” to me and to each other, to wish your own wishes.
GUESS WHAT ELSE! Fluent Self Care packages!
I made FOUR playful and play-filled Care Packages filled with clues, at least one squooshy companion for whatever you’re working on, and various other inspiring, calming Playground goodies.
One is for anyone who teaches. One is for anyone who needs some SPARKLE. One is for someone ready to set off on an Adventure and in need of some light-hearted, playful energy. And one is if you need sweetness.
And because I am feeling filled up on THANK YOU right now, I will also throw in either the Monster Manual & Coloring Book (basic version) or the Art of Embarking course, whichever you like, if you get one of these.
These care packages are gone. More to come, though! Price: $65 including shipping for one of the care packages and one of the above bonuses. Make your choice and email the First Mate with your preferences!
My toes are painted in a secret spy color: AFFAIR IN RED SQUARE.
I am drinking my favorite tea because it is finally cool enough to drink tea in the evenings.
I am thinking about snakes shedding skin, about kaleidoscopes, about blues dancing, about my beloved apartment in Florentin (south Tel Aviv) where I lived after my divorce, and about flowers and how they make everything better.
What does Slightly Future Me have to say?
Ze: You are the queen of bolt-holes, and you are an absolute genius to recognize that this is the Quarter for working on your Quarters.
Me: That is hilarious, but I love that you think this.
Ze: Let this story forever be a reminder of the truth of Nothing Is Wrong.
I have these pirate cushions from my former retreat center, which I’m planning to bring to my brother’s nautically-themed wedding.
On the one hand they show water and sea and ships and pirates: ADVENTURE, and, on the other hand, they’re cushions. So they are actually about softness, comfort, resting, security.
I put Adventure and Security into this year’s compass, not sure how they’d work together, but actually this is all going to be fine.
The superpower of this is a badass way to live.
This is a badass way to live.
Choosing safety AND freedom instead of safety OR freedom. Choosing adventure AND security instead of believing in the myth of Either/Or.
Choosing love, and choosing from love, and making change from love. From love, towards more love. Not out of shame or regret or guilt. From love into love. It’s wildly subversive and yes, a badass way to live.
Things I find helpful for intentions and wishes…
Adventure. Rest. Horizons. Security. Passion. Sweetness. Clarity. Presence.
Progress report on past Very Personal Ads.
So. Last week aka Subterranean…
All of this releasing work to get my downstairs quarters ready, and then this week I had a massive understanding about being in a new quarter, how perfect is that.
Also I am now feeling excited about that project rather than overwhelmed and resigned, so that’s a new and beautiful development as well.
Thank you, process of writing about wishes. Thank you, me who asked.
Keep me company! Or just say hi!
You can deposit wishes, gwishes, personal ads, superpowers, qualities, seeds, secret agent code, 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.
Here’s how we meet each other’s wishes: Oh, wow. What beautiful wishes.