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Would anyone like to take over Hocoblogs? $10/month

31 Oct

I’m done. I’m cooked. It’s been 12 years and I’ve been an inactive member of hocoblogs for a handful of years now. Plus I moved to Baltimore and am otherly focused now.

To run the site takes little effort: $10/month to cover the hosting costs. Plus about 5-7 minutes a month to review any new incoming blogs submitted.

HMU. Jessie 443-seven nine four – 7521 – text/call. Email.

Packing for Constellation Burn

15 Oct

As I am wont to do, I track my packing notes after camping or large trips. Basically, I’m looking to uplevel my preparedness and reduce my prep time for future trips. After three times at Constellation Burn, it’s time I do this for myself and others, if interested.

The weather at Constellation Burn

It’s different. It’s a mountain. It has its own ecosystem, and the weather for Elkins, WV, doesn’t exactly match the weather posted online.

Here’s the main thing you need to know:

Cold, wet, misty weather that penetrates into your very being and won’t let go

You absolutely must prepare for cold, wet, misty nights (and days, though mostly nights). While the mist and cold actually finds an interesting point of calm many nights, it still gets really cold and the dampness penetrates everything.

Shockingly sunny, bright, cloudless days that’ll fry if you’re not prepared

Pack your sundresses, your shorts, your light breezy clothes too. Someone else can explain it better than me, but essentially — so, I’ve been told — we’re above the cloud line during the day. What that means is that the sun is BRIGHT. It also gets hotter than down in the valley where Elkins (where the weather forecasts are given).

Just like at “the big burn:” once the sun starts to set, it’s time to head back to camp. The temps drop quickly and the cold and mist come in fast.

It’s often a bit warmer later in the night than earlier in the evening

Not sure how all this works, but if you can get yourself nice and warmed up as the sun sets, you’ll most likely be fine for the rest of the night.

Pack Wool

I am an advocate, a proselytizer, a preacher, a broken record when it comes to wool, warmth, protection from rain/damp/wet conditions and camping.

Pack wool

Pack lots of wool.

Pack wool for ALL parts of your body — feet, legs, hands, wrists, arms, torso, head and neck.

Pack various weights of wool (you can wear light wool during the day, especially in the morning and with the wind and wet conditions) for layers, for options, for warmth.

Pack wool to share and gift. (Older sweaters, holy gloves, pieces that shrunk and no longer fit… bring it all.)

Pack wool blankets — BRING SEVERAL. I always like to put down a layer of wool blankets (I work with afghans mostly) on the floor of my tent for comfort, warmth, style and cushioning. (If you always bring a wool afghan with you when camping, you always have an emergency layer of warmth with you.)

Wool protects you from the wet

The level of mist/wet/dampness at Constellation is something you absolutely must prepare for. You can’t not experience the mist and wetness, so you need to be prepared.

Hands down: wool is one of your best bets! It holds up to 40% of its weight in water and still keeps you warm even when wet.

Your feet

Do not bring just one pair of shoes, regardless of how durable they are. They’re going to get wet. Some shoes swell when they’re wet. Almost all shoes are uncomfortable when wet. I encourage you to pack

  • Flipflops for the shower
  • At least one pair of wool-lined shoes/boots, such as *real* Uggs/sheepskin lining
  • Another pair of comfortable shoes to handle the cold and wet
  • Sun/day shoes — preferably with closed toes as the grass can still be wet and prickly in places

A word about your fancy night-time outfits

Do not show up at Constellation with visions of your fabulous fancy outfits for night unless you have calculated in and figured out how you’re going to keep warm. The weather is not a joke. You’re on a mountain top. It’s very, very likely to be wet and misty, possibly raining, though the mist is rain-like enough!

You absolutely need to ensure that you’re going to be warm in your cute outfit. Maybe you need to wear some base layers of wool underneath. Maybe you need to add a hat to keep some body heat in you. Maybe you need to figure out how to get nice thick wool gloves built into your outfit. You definitely need to be wearing shoes that will allow you to also wear wool socks. (Cold, wet feet make for no fun.)

Camping under trees?

There’s little shade at Constellation. If you do camp under trees, you’re essentially camp in a night time ecosystem of rain. The trees will rain on your tent and camp area if it’s one of the mistier nights … and it’s quite often misty. It’s not a bad thing. Just be aware.

A quick note about Constellation

I love this burn! I find it super sweet, very well organized and well-produced. A nice mix of folks from all over attend — nice mix of people, geographic home bases, etc. I love the weather extremes with the misty cold mountain nights and bright sunny days. It’s starting to get some better music. (Yay!) And we even have an art car or two.

2018: The year in which I surprised even myself! (With lots of stories and photos)

2 Feb

Had someone said to me 10 years back, even five years back, heck, even two years back, “Here are 100 possible scenarios for how your life will unfold. If you can pick the one that’ll be so, I’ll give you a million dollars,” where I am now would have been one of the least likely of scenarios I’d have imagined, and yet here I am.

This year’s annual update is long.  I have lots of subheads and photos in the update if you just want to do a quick scan.) It has been a year of unexpected and lovely twists and turns, yielding a life where so many of my prayers have been answered, yet in ways I never, ever could have predicted.

Blessings to you as we begin yet another new year! Oink!


Burning Man in D.C.!

At the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s opening night gala of “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” with two friends

I have been going to Burning Man regional festivals for a dozen-plus years and to the “big burn,” the event in Black Rock City (a couple hours outside of Reno, Nevada) since 2010. I’ve been a theme camp organizer at Burning Man; I’ve written a book about Surviving Burning Man; and I’ve found fun, friendships, community and values alignment at a level I could have only dreamed of prior.

In other words, Burning Man has been more than a hobby or interest for me, but part of my life and identity.

In March of this year, the D.C. area became home to a world-class museum exhibit on Burning Man at The Renwick Gallery. The exhibit, called “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, was, per the Renwick, their largest exhibit ever. I went to the gala opening event because it was 1) a special Burning Man event and 2) only about a 45 minute drive to get there.

Me, Larry Harvey (founder of Burning Man) and Eúcaris at a D.C. networking event for Burners and Capitol Hill staffers.

Burners from throughout the country had come to celebrate the exhibit. Larry Harvey, a key founder of Burning Man, died a month after being at the exhibit opening. I’m glad he got to see his creation celebrated some 32 years later.

Burning Man in Annapolis!

As part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and in tandem with The Renwick’s exhibit, a handful of people who’ve built art cars they take to Burning Man decided to join the parade, some coming from as far as Denver!

This art car, pictured here at Burning Man, is one of the two cars that came to our Annapolis party. When it came to the east coast for the Cherry Blossom Parade, there was a rotating horse carousel as well.

My friend C.J., with whom I’ve co-hosted some really good parties at his beautiful waterfront home in Annapolis, Maryland, knew people on one of the crews and had invited them to his place after the parade. For C.J. and me, that meant: it’s time to organize a party. And stat!

Tell me how this is even possible: the party was one of the best I ever attended (many guests said the same) … and I hardly knew a soul … at my own party! Beyond the waterfront property, the amazing art cars, the fire poofers, the incredible sound systems on the art cars (and great playlists), the outdoor lights C.J. brings out when we have parties and the 420-forward nature of our party, something strange and magical happened at this particular party.

See, with the art cars coming in for the parade, their crews came from all over the country and many of them invited to the party a friend or two they knew in the area. On our end as hosts, C.J. and I each only had less than a week to prepare and invite guests and had maybe a dozen or so of friends in attendance. The result was that almost everyone knew a couple people but no one knew a lot of people, which made everyone rather friendly and wanting to connect. I’d never have thought a party full of mostly strangers would have so much energy, such good vibes, and so many great conversations, but it did. It was a nice reminder to chill and let things unfold as they will.

A Si-starhood is born

We’d started the afternoon with the intent to go hiking, but ended up hula hooping in Teporah’s backyard then “hiking” through Baltimore City’s Fells Point … then off to an ice cream shop and, well, a Thai restaurant.

For me, it started when I asked a friend for help with my makeup: Would she review my paltry collection of pale/nude/bare colors and tell me what to keep, what to pitch, how to apply it, et cetera? She turned around and said, “Let’s get a group of women together and do this for each other. I think it’ll be fun!”

Well, this led to that, and that led to this and this and that did a little dance, and before you know it, The Sisterhood SiStars was born. We’re a group of women–some more active than others–who are truly aiming to be in sisterhood with each other. While we gather for planned group events, it’s smaller gatherings, getting together for a walk or a bite to eat, helping each other with projects and being there for each other, emotionally, physically and spiritually where the magic lies.

I may be long past cliques of middle school and sororities of college and such; and while I have a number of good women friends, there is something distinctly different about consciously choosing to be part of The Sisterhood and connecting inside a defined group. I’m liking it, a lot.

A new baby: Orion James

How to even tell this story! I’ll start by saying I always knew I wouldn’t have a child, and that this wasn’t an issue for me. It was a knowing. A sense of fate. I didn’t dislike kids. I simply knew I wasn’t going to have a child.

First time holding Baby Orion at the hospital. I was there for his birth! Several of our Si-Stars were also on hand to help before, during and after.

Then, when I was cusping on 40 and my body was making it incredibly clear that it was now or never with babies, I had to re-examine this choice. (The biological pull is real!) Around that time, I did four ayahuasca journeys over a two-week period, and in one of those journeys, I had a deep and intimate conversation with God in which we discussed children. In it, I said, essentially, “Hey, you know me better than anyone and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to have children; however, if there is a child that needs me as part of its life, I won’t say no. I won’t stop a pregnancy (no birth control, no abortion), nor will I attempt to get pregnant (no hormones, supplements, IVF, etc.)” And I left it at that. I was open to whatever came yet had no expectations that anything would happen because my prayer wasn’t about me having a kid, but more that I would receive the gift if a child’s life path needed me.

A month later I met my first husband (I’ve yet to have a second husband, I just like to call him that), and I knew instantly and intuitively that I would not have a child with him. Even with my previous decision to do nothing to stop a pregnancy, I never got pregnant. A funny little aside: soon after our separation, he was in a relationship and pregnant (with his now-second wife) and they have a beautiful family. To boot, he’s living out his dreams of owning a yoga and retreat center in Germany!

Me and Baby O.

So, menopause came and my baby-making window closed, and, frankly, I thought little of it. I figured, eh, maybe I’ll get remarried and my second husband will have grown kids and grandbabies will be in my life. Maybe. Maybe not. (Oh, my siblings don’t have children either, so I’m not an aunt, and I have no close-in-age, close-in-proximity cousins, so I never experienced an extended family with babies and lots of kids.)

Then this thing happened–another story unto itself–where I reconnected with someone who’d made my blood boil with anger when I first met her. I had an obsessive type of despising of this woman since the minute I met her, and it didn’t abate over time. This focused despising waned in that I didn’t see her after a while (we’d met through work and neither of us were still working at the same company), yet when she’d pop back onto my radar, my feelings and ill-will were still present. For the record and for a smoother story here, her name is Nichole Kelly.

My days, of late. Well, sometimes. These three cuties (Luna, Boon and Orion) were born within a month of each other and come over for baby play dates now and again.

One day (in the summer of 2017) I saw a picture of Nichole on FB and she had changed, fundamentally and profoundly. I knew it. I could feel it. I, too, had changed over the last decade, of course, but in this moment of seeing her in this photo, I laughed from an unexpected place of joy as I could see not just her goodness but her greatness, and it came from deep within her heart. I opened to her in that moment and a decade of despising her turned around, 180, in an instant. She’s now my best friend, sister, chosen family.

I learned later she’d recently had a near-death experience after a series of minor strokes (in her mid-30s, no less!) and she’d chosen to abandon an incredibly successful career in marketing to heal her own emotional wounds and tend to her health. In this process, she discovered she had new capabilities and an ability to see the quantum field. One day, via FB, I noticed she was offering a free healing event.

My dad and I shared a love for healing and energy work… even some shamanic work, and I invited him to attend the healing with me. He not only came, but–I learned later–set up a private session with Nichole. When the time for his session came, Nichole suggested that perhaps I could drive him to and from the appointment. I agreed.

This hand-built craftsman work of a sound meditation pyramid is where my dad and I went each Friday for a few months prior to his death.

We met at a weekly morning sound meditation held at Samara Center, which is located in beautiful Taneytown, Maryland, amidst a bucolic setting of farms and pasture-raised livestock. The meditation center was lovingly crafted and built by the proprietor, a carpenter in his previous professional life and, clearly, a lifelong artist. Afterward we went to Nichole’s place where she did a Quantum Activation on my dad. For the session, I asked if I should stay or go, and she encouraged me to stay. As the session didn’t involve touch, and as I was in the same room as my father, I essentially got the same treatment he got. (That statement may press on your belief systems, and that’s okay. This is my experience, and my reality needn’t be true for you.) 😉

How the baby in my life unfolded is a much longer story, but the long and the short of it is that every Friday morning, I’d pick up my not-morning-person dad around 7:30 a.m. and we’d drive an hour to the sound meditation group (where he was warmly and lovingly received by that community), then we’d pass through these beautiful farmlands and head off to the Quantum Activation with Nichole. After the session we’d hang out for a bit, have a healthy snack and then head home. We did this every week … until my father died a few months later.

Orion, getting more engaging–and certainly cuter–by the day.

In those last couple/few months leading to my father’s death, my relationship with him changed significantly and for the better. There was much more ease, joy and love between us. And while I’d thought I had come to terms with myself in recent years, believing my father would probably die with our relationship still complex and unresolved, I now (and for many other reasons as well) feel completely clean and clear, completely forgiven and forgiving, and utterly grateful for the time with him as his life –on his soul’s own schedule–was coming to a close. Core to this gentle and peaceful exit my father made was my reconnection with Nichole.

Soon after my father’s death, Nichole and her partner Iuri found themselves pregnant, and they decided not only to name their baby Orion James Moraes (with James for my dad), but they asked me to be their son’s God Mother!

As mentioned above, my life has been astoundingly kid-free. I’ve no kids of my own. My siblings have no children. I have few cousins and none close in age or proximity and basically, and my extended family is smaller than small. And while I have friends who have children, I simply haven’t been around babies much as an adult. To be asked now, at this point in my life, to be a God Mother and watching Orion grow and develop has been a blessing beyond measure.

A new home: The Launch Pad

Our first public event at The Launch Pad where we hosted Allan Pratt and Shaffi Lynne for some shamanic work and “galactivation.” 🙂

For a variety of reasons, with a new baby just arrived, Nichole and Iuri needed to move … and soon! We’d talked in months prior about living together “at some point,” but the “some point” rather quickly became now. We looked around, checked out a few places and knew when we saw a particular rental listing online that it would be ours. Having decided a month or so earlier on the name The Launch Pad for our community house and healing center, we were beyond tickled when our landlord-to-be said “My name’s Mike, but everyone calls me NASA Mike.” Yes, indeed, we are at The Launch Pad!

The home is large. We’re on 3.5 acres of relatively private land off a long private drive. We’re surrounded by trees, our next door neighbors are two shetland ponies (well, that’s all we see of one neighbor who abuts our land), and our landlord–who built the home himself and lived there for 44 years–now lives next door and is quite helpful. Oh, and we have already started hosting healing events, meditainment parties replete with glow sticks and LED gloves, conscious conversation dinners, concerts and more.

We’re located in Highland, Maryland, which is surprisingly both rather rural and well positioned, being equidistant to D.C. and Baltimore and located in between Frederick and Annapolis. My drive to and from the home is an odd mix of farmland, large-acreage lots and homes from decades and centuries prior, beautiful churches, curvy roads and just overall beauty and delight.

Playing around on the first official snow day, here’s me, Nichole and Iuri. We favor “burner-fabulous” clothing that is fun, funky and functional. Here we are in our sunroom.

Through the eyes of a 7 yo

A night at “The Nutcracker” ballet with Nichole and her daughter, Gia.

There’s an extra bonus of being in The Launch Pad: Gia! She’s seven-going-on-eight and at such a precious age of transformation as she moves into the 8-14 year-old phase of human development. Gia is Nichole’s daughter and she’s with us half the time; her dad, Jay Kelly, is often over for events, celebrations and snow days. I’m in an interesting position of being neither aunt, nor grandmother … a roommate, but also part of the family. Gia’s never one to turn down (and is often the instigator of) a instant dance party in the kitchen or living room, and her innocence and perspective open my heart again and again.

Four and a half (well, now six) pounds of love

Me and Lucy being way too matchy-matchy.

Moving into The Launch Pad brought something into my life I’ve never experienced before: a dog, on a daily basis. Lucy, the part Chihuahua, part Shitzu in the house, has found her primary sleeping and hangout zone in my bedroom. In the wake of all the transitions with not just a new house but one much bigger than she’d been in prior–plus a new baby–Lucy was having a lot of accidents in the house. I’ve since taken on some of her care and feeding, which is a rather different role from cat ownership.

She’s gained some healthy weight since we’ve added more protein and fat from our leftovers to her diet, and she and I often go for walks … even late at night in the moonlight. We play together a lot, and I’m learning to read her signals and support her better. It’s a new thing for me to be around dogs, and while I admittedly don’t love the smell of dogs, I do enjoy her sweetness and gentleness. Oh, and I give her baths and spa days, rubbing her fur down with olive oil. (I assume that’s okay. Someone can let me know if it’s not.) So far, the consensus from those in and out of the house is that she’s looking pretty good and healthy. I guess if I’m going to get to know dogs better, a little six-pound ball of sweetness is a good place to start.

Launch Pad wrap up

No question about it: there have been bumps and challenges in having three adults (two as a couple), a baby, a child and a dog all move in together. It has both wrenched and opened my heart, and I’m practicing the art of living as though “This moment was created exquisitely for me.”  I’m sure I’ve given others reason to expand their hearts and find forgiveness too. Such is life.

And yeah, I now live with my best friend, her partner, my God Son, a powerful 7 yo and an adorable little dog on a beautiful piece of–and peaceful–of land in the heart of the geographic area I’ve known as home most of these past 40 or so years.

A funny thing happened on the way to Antarctica

You may recall, a few years back I had a burning desire to work in Antarctica. Burning! I researched the process for weeks and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get a job there. Nothing worked.

Then in early in 2018, I met up with a friend for a cup of tea and discovered he’d just come back from Antarctica! Like just in the last month! Unbeknownst to me he was VP of the National Science Foundation board which oversees a major Antarctica program. We talked about my desire to work there, and he had all the connections I needed. But, there was a new consideration on the table: My God Son was going to be born later in the year, and, well, I wanted to be around to see, witness and experience his first weeks, months and years. So there I was, with my fervently held prayer practically answered–or at least significantly closer to becoming true–and I didn’t want what I’d wanted so dearly before. And I was rather okay with my decision.

Here’s yet another funny little something about my desire to experience life in Antarctica: NASA Mike (our landlord at The Launch Pad) has been to Antarctica at least 30 times through his work with NASA. There’s even a glacier there named after him! At some point years back, he had a particular satellite dish brought back from Antarctica, and said dish is now installed in our front yard. (If anyone has artistic abilities and fashions themselves a painter, we’re going to convert that dish into a sign for The Launch Pad when the weather turns warmer. HMU.)

Jessie, Firstborn of James

It has been a bit over a year since my father passed. I wasn’t familiar with grief before his death, and I was astounded at how deeply I felt it when it came. As a handful of seasons have since come and gone, as the grief has mellowed, and as my relationship with my deceased father has transformed, I’ve come to see how exquisitely blessed I am to be Jessie, Firstborn of James.

I can see so clearly now what I couldn’t see so well before: My father, James Lawrence Newburn, guided me ever and always in developing myself and my own moral compass; he showed me community and generosity through his kind heart; he was and ever and always a gentleman and he loved me unconditionally despite my stories about it otherwise.

He was also Protector of the Realm in his own kingdom, in his own way. A land developer with an eye for beautiful land and an ear tuned to the future sounds of children laughing and running around the yards and neighborhood, he developed the lots on one of the most exquisite streets in Howard County, Maryland: Chapel Woods (sorry, don’t have photos), and he made it possible for many people to find homes and to build their lives upon the foundations he created.

Other family updates

My sister and my mom, about to enjoy a summer feast.

My brother Dave is doing really well! At the ripe age of 49 and with the tenacity of a bulldog, he finally got tenure at University of Maryland, College Park, as an environmental economist working muchly with state and county issues vis-a-vis Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and the U.S. Clean Water Act. His roles and responsibilities at work have continued to expand, and it’s good to see him shining in his glory of success well-earned. #GoDave

My sister Rebecca continues to be one of the most prolific community service people I know. Not only is she a decades-long middle school teacher who infuses her math and science classes with insightful information on waste reduction and environmental-friendly knowledge, she has also ramped up her already-extensive emergency preparedness training and education, and she recently joined a local commission doing just that in the Bay Area community where she lives. She has an amazing propensity to see what helpful information is needed, to create it and to make it available for consumption. #GoRebecca

My mom continues to inspire me with her vitality and in the intelligent, thoughtful way she designs her life. She still gardens much of April through November; still cooks quick, healthy, gourmet meals several times a day; and still dances at least once or more a week. Of late, she’s become much more active with a group of peers (The Village) that gathers for walks around the lakes in Columbia, Maryland, (though I think they get together for the walks as much as they do for the coffee and conversation afterward). She’s also become a “mall walker” (not to be confused with the “mall rat” I was in my early teen years). So if you’re in The Mall in Columbia and see a casually stylish, smiling, white-haired lady regularly clocking through the mall, you might just have spotted my mom. #GoEileen

SheepStuff: my type of Burning Man camp!


The two iSheep I brought to SheepStuff at Constellation Burn.

I am an avid, vocal, consistent advocate for wearing wool when it’s wet and/or cold outside. Avid! I mean, I’m known among friends for talking about the virtues of wool … a lot! So, it was with great pleasure (and relative ease) that I finally launched SheepStuff: a Burning Man regionals camp.

It’s pretty simple: I got together a group of friends who wanted to camp with me at Constellation Burn in the (often really cold and damp at night) mountains in Elkins, West Virginia. We gathered and collected various and sundry sheep and wool items to donate. We set up a popup tent, table, lighting and signage encouraging people to take what they needed to be warm for the weekend (and after) … and that was it. No complex camp planning and logistics; no meal plan; all lovely responsible adults. It was great!

Then I brought along through an art grant I received two talking sheep that were part of a larger interactive, consent-based art project that my friend Bardia lead and then took to Burning Man. The iSheep have been all over: parties, festivals, The Hirshhorn, and now even Tysons Corner Mall! If you cross paths with them, they’re touch-sensitive and fun to interact with!

It took me 55 years…

For as much as I have traveled in this beautiful plane of existence, I’d never quite managed to make it north to Canada. I’d found my way to Egypt, Namibia, China, Costa Rica and Japan, among other countries; I’d traversed across the country a couple times; even made it to Mexico here and there, but Canada remained elusive … until this summer.

Me, close to the summit of Idaho Peak in British Columbia. #MoreMountains #MoreBigSky #MoreSummits!

In recent years, I was working with a Canadian firm on a project for whom my POC was a lovely human named Bradley. The two of us were kindred souls from the moment we first connected, and our relationship deepened over the years. He’d tried several times to get me up to British Columbia to visit via a paid project I’d do for the company there, but things never quite worked out. When I decided to step away from the project that had our lives intersecting, we promised to keep in touch.

Bradley called me early this summer and told me he and his wife had a basement apartment in their home and that they’d asked their tenant to move out for the summer, so they could have a string of family members and friends visit…and I was on the list of invitees! They invited me to stay for a couple of weeks, and I said yes, then made some plans and off I went at the tail end of July to glorious British Columbia.

Bradley and his family live in Nelson, B.C., the “green capital” of Canada, and an old-school hippy town of reasonable fame. Their backyard view was of mountains and a lake. And they lived both within a 10-minute walk of the adorable, hip and functional downtown; and even closer to a large, clear lake (with its pathways, parks, windsurfing rentals and more). Bradley’s wife was about my size and an avid cyclist, and she kindly lent me one of her bikes to use. They also generously lent me some camping gear and gave me tips on (the many!) options I had for nearby camping and exploration.

First, I need to sing the praises of GPS (for allowing me to feel safe traveling in unknown areas) and of Canada’s vacation-friendly roads, signs, visitor centers, rest stops and composting toilets. While I spent time in deep conversation with my kindred brother Bradley and his beautiful and dear family, I also traveled solo at times, touring the many hot springs in the area, hiking here and there, eating massive raspberries (both local and in season), and much more. A highlight of my trip was climbing to the summit of a mountain while the alpine flowers were in their peak. It was stunning, and the experience served as yet another reminder to the wonders and joy of travel, especially where I get to see nature, big rocks and big skies!

I’ve known Canadians in the course of my life, but I’ve never been surrounded by them. And for as close and contiguous as our countries may be, for as much as my flesh color was similar to many of those around me, and for as much as our generations were aligned, I was clearly in a foreign country and I was clearly not Canadian.

There was — to my eyes — a general level of overall health, self-comportment and politeness that I felt ran through the culture. Whatever it was I was sensing, it was distinctly different from a similar set up in the U.S. would have felt like. I also noticed hardly a soul was on their cell phones. Maybe they just live in such mountainous areas, have inconsistent or poor service and get less addicted to their phones. IDK. It’s something I noticed. #GoCanada

A transformation, witnessed

I’ve worked at Atigro Digital Marketing for coming up on three years. I do business development (I find clients) for this agency, and basically work with companies that have need of bringing in leads and potential customers through their website. There are many fancy lingo terms to describe what we do–digital marketing, SEO, inbound marketing, customer journeys, yada yada. Essentially, we start with messaging that is emotionally and intellectually resonant, then help clients grow and retain their customer/client base through their websites and related digital activities that can be tracked and measured.

On the left, that’s Ken Fischer, the CEO of Atigro Digital Marketing where I work.

I’ve known the CEO, Ken Fischer, for a good decade or so from the early days of social media, Gov2.0, barcamps and that world, if you remember or knew of that magical time of social and technological change. I’ve always found Ken to be one of the more ethical, hard-working, solutions-focused men I’ve known. He has integrity at a depth that is indeed honorable, and that is one of the core reasons I wanted to work with him. (That and digital marketing has a lot of repeat business in it, which helps me build my book of business.)

Ken, like any business owner in digital marketing, has grown, developed and transformed his business and offerings over the years, changing as the technology changed, as the market changed, as customer expectations changed. But in these past couple years, I’ve seen him change.

I’ve watched as he has found his stride and developed as a CEO, strategically tackling big challenges in order to grow the company for the long term. The company I started working for a mere (almost) three years ago and the company we are today are miles apart … and much for the better. While that’s a nice thing (and good for me as one who does business development), it’s even nicer to see my friend and colleague develop into the man and business leader he has become. #GoKen

A dream, realized

There are some experiences in life that require time and the literal passing of years for the beauty of what’s happening in the moment to unfold, for the perfection of it all to become known. This is one of those stories.

The lake at Buffalo Gap Camp, replete with imported sand. 🙂

Back in 1996, my father bought a distressed camp that had been in decades prior a Jewish sleepover camp. It was located in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. My parents were avid contra dancers and once-avid international folk dancers; my dad, also a Zydeco dancer. This camp (Buffalo Gap Dance Camp) had become in recent decades more of an event and festival venue and home to a number of popular, well-loved weekend camps for the dance communities in which my parents were quite active.

My dad’s purchase of the camp, at the time, caused a wedge in our family and created a hole in his financial bucket through which many dollars would be poured over the next decade. I know my father was well-intended and wanted to do good, yet he was not the best person or personality to take on such an adventure. It was also an era where email was nascent, the web, barely a thought for most people and social media not even yet conceived. His ability to market the camp as a venue was limited, at best. The concept of AirBnB was a couple of decades away from becoming a thing and way to fill the cabins.

Though my dad “saved” the camp, extended its life as a dance camp for another decade, and experienced a wonderful role as a hero in a community that meant a lot to him, he also did so at great personal cost.

I visited the camp once while it was still active and owned by my dad. My, my, my! It was, indeed, a beautiful and magical place. Stunningly positioned between two mountains of West Virginia, it was a most perfect setting for a camp, replete with a commercial kitchen and dining hall, a log-hewn outdoor pavilion and excellent wood floor for dancing, a lake, a mini beach, a wood-fired sauna, several clumps of cabins, indoor basketball courts (also used for dancing in inclement weather) and much more.

Me and my dad at Buffalo Gap, apparently in 1999.

My father eventually sold the camp for a small profit to a land developer whose intent was to carve the camp into developable home lots. His vision, reality and market timing didn’t come together and, essentially, over the next dozen years, the camp was chopped up into smaller pieces. It went through different owners (some of whom attempted to make the camp work) and eventually a foreclosure was in the works.

But this beautiful camp had its own destiny, and in a story with many chapters, eventually one of the more-recent managers was able to buy a key chunk of the land and with his skills, talents, community and this thing called AirBnB, was able to be profitable in short order. More investors came, and more re-investment in the land, structures and the business came with them.

I’d heard (through FB and a personal invitation by a long-time Zydeco dance community leader) that the camp had been revived and that the once-famous Buffalo Gap Dance Camp weekend was back on! I’d just come back from B.C. and my God Son was due any day, but I decided to go … and am I ever glad I did! One of my si-Stars had arrived before me and selected a perfect, lake-facing, somewhat-secluded spot for my tent. And while I’d come to dance, for sure, I’d also come to reflect on my own life in the near-year since my dad had died. Little did I know that I’d also hear many a story from people whose lives were deeply and richly impacted by their times at Buffalo Gap during my father’s time at the helm, including a couple that had met at the camp and been married 20+ years since. People wanted to tell me their stories and to honor my father’s effort, and I was glad to listen.

To boot, the camp was absolutely lovely! It had renewed energy! It was now owned by people who were local, who had a nice, funky style; and who knew how to scavenge and transform has-been furniture and items into charming and useful decor. They have open mic nights for the locals, an adorable little bar, a spa and, a marketing mindset and, well, the technology and the times are different now. They are doing fabulously well and the camp has a vibrancy that is palpable.

When I arrived for the dance weekend, I learned a key and stalwart member of the local Zydeco dance community had become a part owner just days before the camp opened! It was as much of a surprise to him as it was to everyone else. Then, in an icing-on-the-cake moment, toward the end of the weekend, I’d started to dance a Cajun waltz on the dance floor by myself. A Cajun waltz is a circular dance, and so I circled the floor as I danced. At one point I passed by the altar of “remembered love ones,” a place the dance organizers had set up to remember people in the community who’d recently passed, and there I wrote a short note to my father.

Even though my grief over his death had abated greatly over the last year, at that moment, I was full of emotion as I danced. Right when I was at the height of my feelings, I turned, and there stood, with outstretched arms, was the dancer-turned-part-camp-owner. Without a word, I fell into his arms and we danced the rest of the dance: me feeling completely free to shed the tears (of a thousand emotions) I needed to cry. When the dance was over, he looked at me and said, “The torch has been passed. I think your father would be happy.” I nodded. We both understood.

The log-hewn pavilion at night. It’s a great place to gather for festivals, concerts and more.

And in that moment, my gratitude for all my father wanted to be but often didn’t know how to express was realized and made good. He had, in his own way, cared for the camp and the community, and even with the fate of selling the camp to a developer who had parceled out the land, this action actually opened up the way for a smaller owner to come in and purchase, at first, a smaller, manageable chunk of the land; later bringing in more investors and being able to purchase key pieces of the property. It took more than two decades since my father purchased the camp for its magnificence to be given the support it needed to shine, but it has happened.

As well, the family issues caused with my dad’s initial purchase of the camp, in time, became blessings that opened up doors for greater happiness, which, again, reminds me that even I don’t always know what’s so in the moment it’s happening but if I relax and trust Life, God and The Universe, things have a remarkable way of moving toward awesomeness! #GoDad #GoUniverse

Gah, I almost forgot … free books

Free downloads on Amazon, Feb 5-9th.

As usual, when I send out update letters, I time my Uber Chronicles and Surviving Burning Man: A packing list for first-timers books to be free and downloadable on Amazon. (Click “Buy now with one-click” to get the free download. It’s counter-intuitive but it’s the right button to click.) As always, a short book review on my FB pages (Uber Chronicles and Burning Man) or on Amazon are much appreciated!

Well, that’s it for now. I post publicly on FB if you want more updates. I share a lot of stories over there! 🙂

Happy New Year! It’s the Year of the Pig. Oink! If it calls to you and you want to reach out, I’d love to hear from you too.

Jessie Newburn


Me at Buckland Farm in 2013, helping to move some pigs from the barn to their woodland pastures. The bowl of pig feed in my arms has them following me, albeit at their own pace, to wherever I’m going.

My 2017. A year of yawns … a year of surprises

1 Mar

Of late, I’ve taken to writing annual update letters. Here’s the one I wrote for this year.

ny dog

So how was this past year for me? At first glance, I thought, Eh, it was fine. I mean, my life, overall, is pretty good because my head, heart, mind and soul are in a pretty good place. I’m 54, more mature, less easily thrown off kilter. I know myself better, so I can manage my life better. But at first glance, there seemed to be a lot of the same ol’, same ol’ when looking back at 2017. Still living in same ol’ Columbia; still working at the same ol’digital marketing company; still, still, still….

However, as I thought back more, I realized this year had some pretty big surprises in it for me.

Done with #HoCoSocialMedia

I surprised myself by being DONE with Howard County social media stuff. You may or may not know, but I was a loud, incessant advocate of social media use—particularly on the local level—harkening back to the days when social media was so nascent that few knew what it was or what form of social change was right around the corner. I did. I felt it. I knew it. I understood. And then I proceeded to dedicate thousands of hours of volunteer time over the next decade: co-hosting local, social media-focused parties; starting a network and website for local bloggers (in 2007); building that network up to over 700 local bloggers at one point; and hosting many (and at one point monthly) blogger events to connect local social media enthusiasts, elected officials and everyday citizens.

I advocated for local hashtag use, created numerous social media sites and three years ago, created a robust, online local calendar, and once again, put thousands of hours into a community-focused social media project.

And then one day, in the summer of 2017, I was DONE. D-O-N-E. I’ve since transitioned all the #HoCoSocialMedia digital assets to others. And I am done, done, done.

Friends in the most unlikely places

Another whopping surprise was a relationship from 10 years ago that was never a happy or satisfying one for me. It’s too long of a story to share here, but I’ll basically say that someone whom I rejected (and was even disdainful toward at times) has become an incredibly dear friend… beyond anything I could have envisioned. The timing of the friendship’s development was so spot on in my life, too. Magically so.


One of the sweeter surprises of this year was witnessing the total solar eclipse down in Charleston, South Carolina. I’d never tuned in to the eclipse phenomenon before and didn’t understand why the eclipse was that big of a deal. Then I read a blog post written by someone who’d seen over a dozen total eclipses, and I realized there was something more to this phenomenon, but, and understandably, I still wasn’t quite sure what it’d be like.

Now that I’ve witnessed totality, alls I’m gonna say is GO! Be there. See it! Totality is much, much more than what you see in the photos. It’s an experience, a phenomena…and it’s absolutely worth any travel or expense to see it. My heart was completely opened by this portal in the sky, and I found myself laughing fully in a way I hadn’t laughed in a long, long time … perhaps never before. I was so full of joy from witnessing this incredible SURPRISE God and the Universe shows us during totality. Experience at least one total solar eclipse in your life. #DoIt!

Down 15 and stable

I surprised myself by losing 15 pounds…and keeping it off. Menopause did a number on me with incremental weight gain these past eight years, and I’d reached a point of acceptance with it … until one day I didn’t. I wasn’t okay with the ongoing weight gain anymore. I googled “how to burn fat,” discovered intermittent fasting, started doing it right around the winter solstice of 2016 and have since dropped–and kept off–15 pounds.

Another book (and website)

I wrote another book. This one is called Surviving Burning Man: A Packing List for First-timers. When I went to Burning Man for the first time in 2010, I was a nervous wreck. It took me weeks and weeks to pack. Afterward, I debriefed myself and made a packing list spreadsheet, neatly ordered by tabs. I shared my packing list with a few people, then with more people. Eventually, it became “a thing.” and I realized that the “thing” I’d really been wanting to do was to write a book and create a website about preparing for Burning Man.

If you were thinking, Isn’t that a huge project, Jessie? The answer is, why, yes, it is. Bigger than I ever thought it would blow up to be. Yet, the Burning Man culture is something I believe in. For some, Burning Man is a bucket-list item. For others, it’s a life changer. For both of those audiences, my book is super-helfpul, and I’m very happy to have created this resource for others.

My dad died

Yeah, my dad died. Wow, was that ever a surprise. I mean, I knew and could see he was rapidly becoming more frail and winded, and I knew for as much as he wanted to live independently, those days were starting to become numbered. The surprise was in the depth of experience in his death… how I was flooded with such an unexpected and beautiful sense of forgiveness to him, from him and, probably most importantly, for myself. I was surprised by how fiercely and dearly I suddenly needed to make sure that his memorial was wonderful and lovely and rich. I was surprised by how many people shared stories about my dad, stories with the same general theme: he was kind, he was gentle (and a gentleman), and he was generous with his knowledge, time and concern for others’ well being.

I was surprised by the love and support from my family, friends and community … not only in the calls, conversations and condolences, but also with the many hours friends contributed in helping me sort through my dad’s house, office and seven storage units worth of intensely disorganized, hoarder-personality stuff.

I was surprised at how I knew in my heart–in an instant–that I needed to gift my father’s possessions. How I needed to transform a hoarder’s seemingly endless accumulation into useful items for others to have and enjoy. And so I hosted The Great Gifting.

And I was surprised by the level and depth of grief that a human being could experience…and survive. I had no idea until I felt it, full, raw and real. In experiencing such grief I understood it to be both a 100 percent individual and unique experience and, concurrently, that grief is a universal human experience.

I’ve written on FB quite a bit about my experience of his death. And my sister created an absolutely lovely video and photo montage of my father’s life from infancy through to his death. It’s quite touching. Also, if you’re interested, his obituary is here and details about the memorial are here.


Well, I have not surprised myself by writing a lot. 🙂

And I probably won’t surprise you also by saying my books are all on free downloads for a few days after I send out this email. Links below.

Much love to you all and, as they say, “hug your loved ones, because once they’re gone, they’re gone.” …Though I will say I had no idea the relationship with someone who has ascended doesn’t end when their body dies… and the relationship can actually improve and get even better. Again, another surprise.

With that, Happy Chinese New Year and I’m wishing you a year of awesome surprises too!

Jessie Newburn



Free Book Download Links – Available February 20-23

You don’t need a Kindle to download the free Kindle books. Amazon provides a free Kindle reader. The downloads (and reviews) help my book in Amazon’s ranking system. And clicks, comments and shares of my website are always a help.

Fleeing Wilma

6 Sep

In 2005, I was married to an amazing man, Eran Eisen, and we were living in south Florida, right below West Palm Beach, when news of Hurricane Wilma came through. Wilma was a slow-moving (meaning it was going to stay around awhile and not just blow through) Category 4 hurricane, the size of Texas, headed for landfall a 20 minute drive from where we lived.

At first I had Weather Channel-like visions of being in a show or documentary and telling stories of how we survived the storm with the winds and rains howling. It sounded interesting…like an adventure.

Then I saw a description of the different categories of hurricanes and realized a Cat 4 was nothing I wanted to experience if I didn’t have to. I recall riding my bike through our neighborhood the days before the hurricane made landfall and suddenly looking at every single item as a projectile. That nice lawn furniture? A projectile. That stone garden sculpture? A projectile. That gazebo? A projectile.

After about 10 minutes of looking around and realizing that physical items large and small flying through the air at 140 mph was my clue that it was time to go. As soon as possible.

We did everything we could to baton down the hatches and prepare the house for the onslaught. Then we started packing to get out of town.

We were already hearing stories of people getting stranded on the road, people running out of gas, gas stations losing electricity and not being able to pump gas, hotels overflowing and people not having any place to stay. These were all realties, and we knew we had to get out. Plus, the roads were clogged with people exiting in a panic.

Our plan was to drive late at night and avoid as much traffic as possible. I remember stopping to get gas in our home town and having a vehicle pull right in front of us at the gas pump in a way that on any normal day would be socially unacceptable and bad manners. I took a deep breath and let that driver express fear and lack as he needed to.

We drove late at night, encountering little traffic. In the morning, we arrived in Jacksonville, pulled over into a mostly residential area and came across an adorable cafe. We went in and I started chatting with a gal in line about how we were evacuating from the hurricane and that all the hotels were booked. She said, “You can stay with me!” Then I watched her face as she quickly processed what she just said, having offered her home to some strangers. She seemed partly surprised and shocked, and somewhat excited, and 100% genuine.

We stayed with her and her boyfriend for a couple of days. She had a townhome and a spare bedroom. My then-husband being a great cook, he made some delicious meals for us to share; and he helped them with some computer issues, while I helped them with some business and marketing concerns.

We then headed to Columbia, Maryland, where I stayed with my mother and her sister, my aunt, and my husband soon after went on to Greece to look for some work there.

One of the experiences I remember upon arriving in Columbia was my mother’s extraordinary relief. An early wave GenXer, I grew up with a long rope and a fairly cavalier attitude from my parents about my personal choices, so expressed worry from my mother about my care and well-being is not something I’m used to. (Occasional nitpicking, yes, but this was different.) She was so relieved to see us. Truly relieved.

A little over three weeks later we returned to our home, which had, thankfully, suffered minimal damage, though the yard was fairly beat up. Our neighbors had been without electricity for over three weeks and had experienced–as people often do when things are tough–a great sense of community and people helping each other out in many ways.

It’s not my business to tell someone whether they should evacuate, and I understand that we had options and flexibility.

I’m forever grateful for the kindness of strangers, a place to run to and the grace of God that we didn’t suffer more damage or have our home destroyed.

>Sending love and light to all. Be safe, dear ones, be safe!

Living in my skin: Reflections on my transition into puberty and young adulthood

27 Mar

People have, I believe, areas of their body and health where they have greater strength and areas where they have and manifest weaknesses. For me, my skin was an area of weakness, excess and imbalance. Worse, it was something I tried to correct so that I could hide my imbalances and imperfections, yet I only made things the worse for the meddling.

I wrote this (rather long) piece when I started my business with an anti-aging company. Being in this field of skin care and anti-aging was so outside my realm of comfort, not just as a woman in her 50s, but in my lifelong experience of being in my skin.

One way I dealt with my discomfort was to write stories about my skin. I started writing a page at a time, a story per page. The stories aren’t particularly sequential or threaded together. They are what flowed when I thought of stories from my life and younger years.

Preparing for a long work-vacation coming up (that I’m now on), I had printed out these stories written two and a half years ago with the thought of editing them, but editing takes time and effort, and well, at this point, my choices feel like 1) never getting around to finishing these stories to a quality that is publishable or 2) simply publishing them as is, unedited.

I’m going for option #2.

So here, unedited, not proofed, as they spilled out of me, is a series of stories about me, my skin, my younger years, my life.


Down this road again …

There are many experiences in my life that have come and gone, buried somewhere deep in my brain in files forgotten and hard to find. Not so with my first foray into the skin care and beauty industry. No, those files, those memories, are quite accessible. At least the highlights are.

See, I was just turning 20. I’d come off of a cross-country, out-and-back trip, with two California-living, let’s-be-hippies-and-call-it-fun gals whom I’d met in my exchange-student semester at San Diego State: Denise, an ever-diligent thief, and Lisa, one prone to bouts of I’m-lost-in-the-stars blank stares … either for attention, low blood-sugar or who knows? … maybe she was lost in the stars.

We’d packed to the hilt the little Ford Fiesta I’d bought a week or so prior, headed out on a wonderful adventure and by the time we came back, I was mostly depleted of my funds, having been the only one, turns out, who had any cash to spend for our trip.

What was next? I wanted to move to San Francisco because gay people lived there, and I’d deduced that I must be gay because I hadn’t been so happy with the boys I’d dated. Logical, right? So off to San Francisco it was. I stopped in San Jose first where I stayed a couple with a lesbian couple, Jody and Carol, I’d met prior. I had no plan, mind you. I was just going to move to SF and … and, well, I didn’t really know. I’d figure something out. (For you Millennials who might be freaking out, it was another era, and my parents figured I’d figure it out, and I expected no help or support from them. In anything.)

Jody was a Mary Kay representative and Carol was a semiconductor manufacturer worker and crack head. It was the eighties, after all. Crack was cheaper than cocaine. But both of them were sweet and kind, and they offered me a place to rest my head while I figured out what to do.

My first trip ever to San Francisco, my ultimate destination, was with Jody. She was selling some of her Mary Kay skin care products to some gay guys who hung out at an all-day AA place; a row house in the Castro off of one of the main streets. I accompanied her in. It was dark. But in that darkness, my mind started to hatch an idea: I was going to sell skin-care products to gay guys. Lord knows, there were enough of them in SF and the early eighties, 1983 to be exact, provided barely a product for men’s skin care, and men — gay or straight — spending money on skin care had yet to be widely recognized as a possible market.

I could feel it. This was going to be big. Huge! Massive! Men’s skin care was going to become a big market and I was going to be in the beginning, riding the wave. Except that’s not quite how it worked out.


So, now that I had my utterly brilliant income plan set out, in my mind, now I needed to find a way to keep my expenses down. If I could just find a place that would let me live rent-free in exchange for some work, that’d be cool. I was the eldest sibling and one well-attuned to household chores, keeping the home relatively clean and, as an athletic 20-year-old, I certainly wasn’t averse to hard work and physical labor. I was sure I could find someone who had a spare bedroom in exchange for some housekeeping, or something.

It was latter, the “or something,” that I found.

Maybe it was in the newspaper that I found the “or something.” Maybe it was a notice on a community bulletin board; that detail I don’t remember. What I do remember is driving into a less-than-fabulous neighborhood (well, almost any neighborhood in SF is more fabulous than neighborhoods in other communities, if we’re talking architecture, but I’m talking vibe and feel here). So, I drive into this neighborhood, pull up to a relatively normal-looking house and get greeted at the door by a guy whose name eludes me and whose exact features I don’t remember. But he was as a middle-aged guy still stuck in the ‘70s, ‘fro pulled out, leather jacket with wide, large lapels. (It was 1983, after all … not too far from the ‘70s. I guess I should give him some slack.)

We talk for a bit and then he shows me the room where I’d be living. Dang, if it doesn’t have the exact same carpeting as the house in which I grew up: avocado carpeting with a swirly pattern in the weave. I spent countless hours being a bored kid tracing the swirly patterns with my fingers. Every house in my neighborhood — growing up in the sprouting new town of Columbia, Maryland — had this pattern of carpet in either avocado, mustard or burnt orange, or, for the upscale option, they had shag. But the decor didn’t stop there. The room was furnished with pink everything: pink bedspread, pink table lamp, pink curtains. Whodathunkit? I get and understand pink and green in matching hues, but pink and avocado. I was starting to get worried. This was not matching my vision of what I’d seen at all.

Then Mr. Pulled-Out-’Fro explained to me, quite calmly, what it was he needed me to do. I was to stay at home and be available for drug deals. I don’t recall if he articulated which drug in particular for which I’d be at home at certain times — mind you, this is a pre cellphone-era. Maybe it was one drug, let’s say, marijuana. Maybe it was cocaine. Maybe it was what was hot that week. I don’t recall.

He must have seen something in me change. Maybe it was my quicker and shallower breaths, or maybe he saw a shift in body language. Perhaps my eyebrows went up in surprise when he told me it was that I’d be doing. In any case, he assured me that there was nothing to worry about. If I got busted, his lawyers would have me out in no time at all. He had it all covered, all figured out. He just needed someone like me to be available when he decreed, and I’d just stay at home in my nice pink-and-avocado-decorated room, whiling away the time. Easy peasy.



The free-room (complete with possible jail time) option now gone, I needed to look for a place to live. In a world sans-GPS machines for the masses and no cel phones, I did the best I could as one with very little capacity to navigate the world vis-a-vis flat maps: I retraced the steps my friend had driven to the all-day AA hangout space in The Castro. I think I even parked right in front of the same building. Then I walked the streets … looking.

A community bulletin board seemed a good place to start. It was covered with dozens of fliers, many of them with multiple phone numbers, cut and ready to be ripped off the flier. (You know what I’m talking about if you were a young adult or older prior to the nineties.) There I found a hand-written notice about a room for rent, a furnished room, no less, for $250 a month. I pulled one of the phone numbers off the flier, found a payphone and called.

Dean answered the phone, and after a short talk, he invited me over to see the place. It was a few blocks’ walk from where I was and, shortly, I was at the apartment: one floor up in a beautiful Victorian home at Noe and 14th. A gorgeous, tree-lined street just a couple blocks off of Market Street. Having arrived in San Francisco with little more than a car’s worth of stuff and not a lick of furniture, a furnished room in an apartment was perfect. It even came with bed sheets and pictures hung on my walls. Little did I know it also came with a fanatical redecorator.

Dean was pleasant enough, though not the smartest cookie in the jar. He was probably in his 40s, thin with sharp features, dark-haired, and he seemed to subsist on coffee, toast and cigarettes. I don’t think I ever saw him eat a real meal, or even an apple or banana for that matter. Toast, unbuttered, coffee, black, and cigarettes. Lots and lots of cigarettes. But it was 1983, and, well, I guess that was ok then. I smoked then, too. It was a thing.

Nicely settled in my new home, I would often come home to find, for example, the living room repainted and much of the furniture and art switched around. This happened often. And quickly. I kid you not. I’d leave for work (another story) and come back nine, ten hours later to a redecorated space.

One day I came home and my own bedroom had been repainted, new art was on the walls and even all the clothes in my drawers had been neatly folded. I probably mumbled some sort of “thanks,” though if I probe my memory better, I think all Dean and I ever talked about was his redecorating, and part of my unofficial rent agreement was to dote on his interior decorating skills.

Yes, he was gay. His friends were all gay. And, bless his soul, for he was gay in a world that was only just starting to accept people being out. I was in San Francisco in 1983 and 1984; 1984 being the year AIDS rose up and spoke loud and large. The city’s gay community was in turmoil; bath houses, called to shut down; public health cries rising up; the community’s needs being expressed with more ferocity, demand and passion. It was 1984. A major culture shift year.

Dean died a few years later. Of complications from AIDS.


But this is a story about how I’ve come to find myself in the skincare industry a second time, right? So back to Mary Kay and my adventures there.

I signed up as a MK consultant, got two large pink plastic suitcase-y things filled to the brim with a range of foundations, make-up colors and skin care products. For many women, this may have been a moment of joy: make-up and skincare, wheee! Not for me.

I knew hardly anything about make-up, how to apply it, what to do for different effects. I didn’t know much about art and sculpture, about shadows and lights. There were pink, green, yellow and maybe even blue and white tints that somehow I was supposed to sell people because it would help them contour and shape the look of their face into something … better? Talk about a fish out of water! That was me, flapping on the dock. Clueless. And not just in a pre-internet, pre-learn-it-on-YouTube era, but generally just clueless about beauty and feminine arts.

Then there was the whole skin care line: cleansers and toners and moisturizers, oh my. Masks and emollients and eye cream, oh my. I’m telling you: Fish>Out>Of>Water! I had grown up with Dial, Zest and Irish Spring soap (all disgusting), or worse, generic soap meant to imitate these brands.  One of my earlier memories of independence and consumer choice was riding my bike to the village center/shopping area two miles away and buying myself a bar of Neutrogena soap. It melted into practically nothing within a few weeks, the bar’s glycerin base and my keeping it in a soap dish with a smidge of water in the bottom wasn’t a good strategy for long-term use. But I was happy: I finally had my own soap and could use something other than these stinky, sticky bars of soap that always left me feeling slightly assaulted rather than clean.

It was another era in skin care in the ‘70s when I was a teen and rising into puberty. Noxzema was the other brand available. I just googled the ingredients, curious to know what I was putting on my face back then: Wikipedia tells me they are “camphor, menthol, phenol and eucalyptus, among other ingredients.” It was tingly all right. Effective, I don’t know, but tingly.

Then there was Clearasil. Clearasil cleaning pads (so expensive for my 13 year-old’s allowance) and the treatment cream to dry pimples … creams that also bleached the heck out of any clothes that came in contact with the product. (My teen years were filled with clothes with bleached collars and neck lines.)

That was my skincare understanding and regiment as a rising teen. My mother provided no direction and little support, I had no older siblings and none of my friends seemed to know much beyond what I knew: Neutrogena soap, Noxzema for “deep cleaning” and Clearasil to dry up my emerging pimples.

Oh, and then there was the if-only-I-could-turn-back-the-hands-of-time practice of picking at my skin. The products weren’t doing much: blackheads were emerging in frightening force and pimples seemed to pop up with no respect for the face upon which they were existing — mine!


Not that you, or anyone, needs a blow-by-blow of the emergence of pimples or a quantitative analysis of the number of blackheads per square inch of my face. And, clearly, I wasn’t experiencing anything particularly abnormal with my first few years of puberty. Teens and pimples; teens and blackheads; they kind of go together. No big deal, right?

But as I look back on my life and understand more about my own journey with my skin, I can see now, the beginnings, the hints, of what was going to become an obsessive and significant part of my daily life for the past 35 years: an attempt to be pure and free of these marks and blemishes. Even as I type these words, I can witness my brain making connections and understanding things deep and present in my programming and world view. I’ll see where these pages and my fingers typing take me in how much I’ll see, share, reveal.

In those early teen years, I spent countless hours trying to remove and extract each blackhead, and never was a pimple was never left alone to simply dry and go away. I attacked each and all with a vengeance, with purpose. And in doing so, I probably caused more skin damage, exacerbated any pimple inflammation and, in having low-grade products at hand, caused more scarring and long-term skin damage than had I been (relatively) at peace with my skin and allowed it its course.

My mother was a nurse. It was drilled into our heads that we rarely needed medicine or intervention, and that our bodies not only would heal themselves but that it would be made stronger for the process of the battle against an infection. I understood this with scrapes and cuts. With colds and flus. And rare was the day we were tromped off to the doctors’ office to address a current malady or illness.

So rare were these trips, in fact, that when I stepped on and was stung by a bee on 7-7-77 — and my face soon after was covered in hives while babysitting some neighbors’ kids — my mother’s response to send my nine year-old sister as my replacement while she rushed me to the doctors’ had me convinced I might not make it to see 7-8-77, though clearly, I did. And I did have years of experimental, and effective, allergen treatment in which eventually I was receiving the equivalent of 10 bee and wasp stings every two weeks to cure me. Yeesh.

So while, intellectually and experientially, I knew that my body would cure these staphloccus infections (the pimples), I never — ever — had the patience or trust that it would happen quickly enough. And my intervention — the squeezing, picking, FOCUS on and of them — made them worse by factors many times over. Not just in the short term but the long term.

One small scar on a 14 year-old’s fresh skin is nothing. Ah, whatever. It’s life. You get some scars, right? But add that up week after week, month after month, year after year. The irony is that in trying to thwart something — the blackheads, the pimples, the imperfections — I gave them more power: power over my time, my focus, my sense of self and, in the long run, a lasting impact of numerous small scars, enlarged pores hacked repeatedly to remove the offending blackheads and make myself appear clean … and free of fault or blemish.


I don’t know. I can wonder. I can speculate. But I don’t know.

I don’t know if the attempt to erase the show of puberty in the form of blackheads was to make the changes go away. For them not to be so. I can remember be curious, fascinated and mortified, at different times, regarding puberty and its arrival.

Was it an increasing awareness around beauty and the need for women/girls/ladies to be pretty to attract men/boys/gentlemen? I’d certainly not grown up with much orientation to beauty, finding more my comfort as a so-called tomboy in the company of the numerous, prevalent and popular boys in my neighborhood. I was so proud to play soccer on my neighborhood league team and wore with pride my SAC (Soccer Association of Columbia) navy blue team shirt, which indicated my team to be Thunder Hill. I wore said shirt each almost every single day in seventh grade. It was a clean shirt each day; I knew that. But it was the same shirt.

I remember I used to stare in fascination, with a curiosity my mind couldn’t sate, at a gal in my seventh grade French class. Her name was Annette, if I recall correctly. She was bigger than most of us — taller and heavier — and black with a very puffed out ‘fro which she kept pulled off her hair with a headband; she always sat in the front row, she was “the teacher’s pet” … and she wore a lot of pink. Pink dresses in particular. I could not comprehend why she did that. Seriously. What in the world would motivate anyone to wear a pink dress? I simply could not understand. And I would stare at her often, wondering, content with my outfit for the day: either jeans and my SAC navy blue shirt, or my tan corduroys and my SAC navy blue shirt.

It was another era. A Title IX era when girls were, by federal law, allowed to play sports in schools. Girls athletics, including mandated funding, were, in essence, a civil right that had been won just a few years prior. It was not the era of glitter-covered notebooks for girls, Girl Power pink T-shirts emblazoned with images of flowers and soccer ball, or sequined flip flops. It was the era of “girls can be like boys, too,” sorta. And while there were — Annette and others as testament — many a girl who had a proclivity, and probably parental support, to wear skirts and pink dresses, I did not.

This was 1975. Women were fighting for civil rights, the right for equal pay for equal work, the right to have a career beyond the prior choices of secretary, teacher or nurse, and the right to have choices defined of their own desires. I was 12, in seventh grade, playing soccer in the spring and fall, swimming in the summers, riding my bike wherever I needed to go, and playing “Smear the Queer” (a version of throw the ball, catch it and then tackle ruthlessly the catcher; rinse and repeat) with the neighborhood boys.

How could I have any sense of what was coming? What shifts were about to happen? How my life and life course, my identity and my understanding of myself, my body, my mind, my feelings … how could I comprehend that vastness of change that was right around the corner? Somehow, the pimples and the blackheads, the nascent body changes, my curiosity about Annette and her pink dress … all of these things portended great change.


No surprises here. Like every other human being who lives to see these years, I went through the developmental stage of puberty and into young adulthood. My body changed, I tried to figure out how to make my hair mold into wings like Farrah Fawcett’s, and I even bought some blush and eye make-up, though I was expressly forbidden from wearing make-up until I was 16. As much as I complained and whined and shouted how about that wasn’t fair, I was actually grateful, between me and me, because I didn’t really know what to do and make-up was way too adult and sophisticated for the person I was inside.

I was also forbidden to shave my legs or date until I was 16.

But at 13, I started to take control of my wardrobe. Well, as much as I could. My mother and I had had a row over a shirt she bought me for my thirteenth birthday. I didn’t like it. She said she liked it a lot, to which I told her then she should wear it; to which she responded, “Fine, you can buy your own clothes from now on.” She gave me $200 for my year’s wardrobe and promised to always make sure I had a good winter coat and a good pair of shoes. Beyond that it was my budget, my choices and my responsibility.

I had no older sister, my mother was a nurse and had three types of outfits — nurse clothes, dancing clothes (she and my dad were seriously into international folk dancing) and gardening clothes; there was no internet to turn to for fashion advice, and TV programming was not designed with teens and young adults in mind at that time. It was the mid-’70s, an era in which the Silent Generation made it clear that the personal development and life path of adults was most important; children — the faster they grew up, the better — were served by exposure to life’s harsh realities, rather than being protected from them. Mind you, of course, other girls’ moms were shopping for and with them, buying them clothes and making sure they were primped and preened, but I got a very classic, iconic GenX childhood. And so be it, I’m an early-wave GenXer.

So as I transitioned from tomboy-hood to puberty, without any female guidance, with very little help and resources aimed at teens and with little personal knowledge of what to do, my understanding of skin care, make-up and fashion were rather hobbled by almost no information, save a few ads, and mother-to-daughter message that said, “these things aren’t important.” (My mother was 52 before she got her ears pierced and I once called my siblings living in another state to tell them something was up with our mom as I had spotted her wearing nail polish, a very light pink nail polish, sometime in her early 50s!)

I slogged through my high school years probably as depressed and confused as any other kid; maybe more so; maybe less so. Eventually a cheerleader, an honor student, a soccer player, an avid pot-smoker and whatever other combination of high-school-ness I had, I passed my teens and into my twenties, ready as ever for my pimples and blackheads to go away. They were just a symptom of the transition into puberty, a teen thing, right?

Yeah, right.


I remember being rather shocked and somewhat confused when my skin didn’t clear up in my twenties. Not only did it not clear itself of these teenager pimples and blackheads, but they almost seemed to get worse. Why not get into the skincare business? Mary Kay was certainly a reputable name and company.

So, at the ripe age of 20, a new resident of one of the gayest cities in the world, with my Mary Kay pink party (and product) bags in hand, my new career as a hip skin care sales rep serving the vibrant gay community seemed a sure bet; my path was clear, my future success, a breeze.

Except, of course, that’s not at all how it played out.

There was this huge hurdle to jump which is that I knew nothing about sales, had no confidence about sales and was, frankly, mortified of doing sales. Twenty, young, inexperienced, my job history including filing receipts at a rental company, head cashier at a popular local pizza place, various dining hall jobs while in college, a research position and a slew of babysitting and house-sitting gigs in my early years, I had no firm ground upon which to stand. Well, that’s how it felt, at least. And it was another era. The self-help movement had yet to arrive en masse, the publishing era hadn’t met desktop publishing yet and the interwebs were, if anything, a playground of the uber-geeks and aspies.

My Mary Kay sponsor, Jody, tried to show me how to sell Mary Kay by taking me along to a party or two, but I just didn’t have it; I didn’t have the product comfort, the skincare knowledge and especially not the cajones to try to sell skin care and/or make-up. (Oh, yeah, the make-up part: I thought/figured/assumed that some gay men might be interested in some light foundation and cover up. Seemed a good enough idea.)

Along the way, in using the products, my own skin did not react well to the Mary Kay product line. I know millions of people are very happy with the products, and I trust they’ve made improvements over the years, but in 1983, at the age of 20, with my own skin producing oil and ripe conditions for acne and blackheads, the addition of the Mary Kate skin care and make-up was like pouring grease on a fire. My skin reacted so badly, flaring up with deep, painful pimples more intense, uncomfortable and difficult to treat than anything I’d encountered before. Any attempts to improve the condition with the products made my situation even worse.

I eventually went on antibiotics to try to clear my skin (a first, and the only time I’ve ever done so), and I used a topical antibiotic for over six months before my skin eventually returned to its normal level of pimples and blackheads (which was still a lot more than most other 20 year-olds’.)

Full of fear, armed with almost zero knowledge, having little to no support from the company and with my skin looking absolutely the worst it had ever been by a factor of many, I floundered in the business, I flailed, and I, eventually, folded in and failed in my first forray into the skincare business.


The short version of my short history of a Mary Kay rep is, of course, that I failed. The more interesting way of saying this, I believe, is that me and my life took a different turn.

Who’s to say one path is better, more right, the best? We get the lives we get, and we make of them what we do. Our will, our destiny, our karma, our choices … some combination thereof in some formula that I’m sure all makes sense somewhere in the scheme of things is clicking along, allowing us all the opportunity for joy and happiness, much of which seems to come, at least on this planet, from overcoming adversity, facing challenges and wending our way through life on a path of development and progress that may not always be clean, clear and obvious to the outside observer … and most certainly to ourselves. That’s how my life has felt, at least.

My time in San Francisco, as a twenty-year-old in the city, was at a time of great cultural change. I’d learn later in life about generations and “turnings” and would come to understand that 1984 was a Third Wave Turning in which GenXers were rising into young adulthood, Boomers were moving into middle-age, the Silent Gen was moving into elderhood and a brand new generation — Millennials — was just emerging in the maternity wards across America. But that’s part of the beauty of generations and cycles; they don’t require conscious knowledge, belief or adherence. They happen. And while my own young adulthood and life started in San Francisco, a city roiling from the AIDS epidemic, springing with new technology emergence and the feeling of “something new” coming, the whole country was also beginning to feel the shift. It just happened to be more visible in a city, in a city in America, in a progressive city in America and a progressive, gay-friendly city in America.

One way I experienced this cultural change was in a newly emerging area of employment: temp workers. Not factory, shift, hourly workers, but professional, white-collar and pink-collar (it was the ‘80s) work. I did temp work in the highest of high level offices of AT&T-turned-PacBell. I floated around the city and across the bridge to East Bay. I rarely knew if I had work for the coming week, and even if I did, that was subject to change. Society might as well have put up big bulletin boards and run an ad campaign that said, “Welcome to Young Adulthood, GenXers. Go figure it out and count on us for nothing.” But I don’t think any of us expected otherwise; it’s our generation’s lot in life.

Seeing my inconsistency with work, my roommate Dean offered to connect with me some good-paying work. All I needed to do, he explained, was beat, abuse and dominate some men. A dominatrix would be my job, and he told me it paid well, required few hours and that training for the job was available.

The lure of the big money for few hours of work was appealing, but I knew, deeply and fully, that this choice was one of those forks in the road: the kind of fork that once taken would change many things in my life. While no one held a crystal ball, I knew this was not a choice to activate. I’ve come to know people who have made such choices and love them all for following their own paths; however, for me, this was not in the cards, as they say. I knew, felt it … and plodded along wearing suits and ’80s professional attire at my very off-an-on-again temp work in San Francisco’s financial district and beyond.


I had tasted corporate life in a mega/behemoth/massive corporation — AT&T in the executive offices at the time of divestiture (when the courts mandated the company break up into regional and separate companies). I typed letters on carbon paper and one day cried bitterly at my desk when the senior secretary who supervised me refused to accept a memo I’d typed for one of the execs because I had corrected a letter with White-Out™. For those of you only alive in a post-computer world, said product was a gloopy, opaque liquid applied over an offending typo that, when dried, allowed the typist to place on the paper a different letter or word.  I tried typing the memo again. It wasn’t perfect again; she refused it again. And this went on for a few rounds.

I knew this couldn’t be right. There was something profoundly wrong with this situation. I don’t know if I could give it words, but it would have sounded something like” NOT THIS!” And yet it was 1983. The skies weren’t bright and open for young career women. Heck, I wasn’t even a “young career woman” (though that term was rather apropos to the ‘80s), I was a 20-year-old kid trying to make some money in a city where I had few connections, in an era when typing pools (envision lots of women, mostly, sitting in a room typing memos, papers and reports … all day long) still existed and were considered the norm, and in a cultural era where the Boomers were just starting to get into mid-management and weren’t about to budge or mentor their junior colleagues.

Eventually, I found my way to some temp work in the City of San Francisco, first in the typing pool, but within a week, in The Computer Room! This was a sealed-off, air-conditioned room with lots of not-particularly-handsome, mostly older men who were doing “computer work.” It was exciting, new and, even though I was still mostly typing and entering data, I was in heaven: it felt fresh, forward and exciting.

By this time, my Mary Kay pink bags had been given/sold/I don’t remember back to my sponsor. I had declared myself a Women’s Studies major in my first year of college at the age of 18, but there wasn’t a degree in said subject, per se. My next year as an exchange student at San Diego State University, I’d found an interesting research assistant job for a woman writing a book about women and technology (there wasn’t much to research, I can guarantee you that … ), and in my part-time-ness at San Francisco State University, I had “happened” to find and sign up for the first two culture and technology courses offered by the school, ever. I took them both. Working at the city in their “computer room,” taking classes about culture and technology with an eye to my intended degree, and living in a beautiful, world class city, things once again were feeling good.

Eventually I headed back to Maryland, presented my idea for a self-designed degree in Culture & Technology: How women and men are affected differently by technology, and proceeded along those lines to be aware and always watching a cultural change of mass proportions, both while it was happening in front of my eyes, and historically, back through time. A job in said field, with just an undergraduate degree was near impossible as the concept of culture and technology was not yet “a thing,”, but in the realm of energy and intention, I got such a job. It was in the heart of D.C. working for an emerging nonprofit. Oh, yeah, forgot to mention, it was an unpaid job. An internship. For a year.


I was in my early 20s. It was the mid-’80s. Hair volume was not just a thing, but the thing. I used hair products to mold and form my hair, to give my already full-bodied hair even more volume. My skin, however, was not digging this. I’ve fidgeted a fair amount my many years, often touching my hair, touching my face, my hands, my arms. My hands so often felt sticky and gross. And my acne wasn’t any better despite having left my teen years behind. Somehow I’d assumed that blackheads and pimples were a teen thing and that they went away when one was no longer a teen. This was, alas, hardly the case for me.

One day my hairdresser suggested a new product: Molding Mud. It was a new product (read: more chemicals!) to create volume while still keeping one’s hair soft, vs the often hard and crunchy effect of other styling gels so popular in the ‘80s. I was keen to try it, so I did.

Within a week, the breakouts and deep, painful pimples on my face, especially around my jaw line, had emerged in full force. A light bulb of awareness went on in my head and I understood that what went on my hair, went on my hands, and what went on my hands, eventually was on my face. I stopped using the product right away and from then on watched carefully as I tried different hair products to see how they affected my face.

Over the years — and as the ‘80s hair volume craze subsided — I aimed to use more natural products, even trying at one point to use olive oil straight out of the bottle and coconut oil, too. I had mild success. Then I decided to use lotions, balms and emollients. Nivea skin cream, Honeybees cream and more. I figured if whatever I was going to put on my hair was eventually going to land on my skin and face — through hair touching, fidgeting and so on — that I might as well start with the end in mind. This worked best of all my approaches over the decades.

Until, that is, I made the leap and went no-poo, where I don’t use any shampoo on my hair. It can take a week or so–a challenging week–for your hair and scalp to balance out, as it did for me. The results, though, are amazing. My hair and scalp are naturally moisturized by my hair oil. I know, it can sound gross to the uninitiated, but it works. It’s God’s system; the natural way. My hair feels richer and silkier than ever before, I need no styling gels and anytime I touch my hair, the oils on my hands (that eventually get to my face and skin) are all natural. It works for me. And I love it.

More so, I love that I’m at peace with my hair. It’s there, my hair, every day, every time I look in the mirror. Sometimes it’s grand and glorious; sometimes it’s awkward and odd; sometimes it’s fine and ok … it’s like life. I can’t make it be what it doesn’t want to be. I can’t force it into some vision of what it should do at this exact moment in time. Yes, I get a good cut and color; I haven’t gone all granola and hippy; and, yes, I do pay for my dirty-blonde color. But the texture, the shape, the smell and the expression of my hair is real, and that is what feels good.

People (MEN) often tell me I should grow my hair long. I have grown my hair long. And short. And medium. I’ve permed it, died it, blow dried it, curled it. What haven’t I done to it? Now, I care for it … and then let it be. It’s glorious … inside and out.  


I’m writing these pages in fits and bursts. One a day. Though not one each day. The stories told here aren’t particularly sequential. Today I am just back from Burning Man, my annual trip to Mecca, wherein I am cleansed, renewed, rebalanced. Burning Man is held in an ancient, dried sea bed, flat and vast, dry and devoid of any life that anyone would recognize with their eyes. There is no scrub, no brush, no trees, no cacti. Not a plant visible. Any bug found probably came in on a truck someone drove in.

The dust at Burning Man, an event which is held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, is for many a spiritual experience. There’s no comparison to it. No equivalent elsewhere. It’s not dirt of Earthen making. It’s not sand, as one might associate with a desert. It’s dust. Talc. Alkaline. Burning if left too long on sensitive skin such as lips. It gets everywhere. It coats everything. And it’s magical. There’s no escaping it. There’s no ability to be clean of it. We inhale it, smell it deep in our reptilian brains; we eat it as it gets in our food and we drink it as it gets in our cups. We sleep with it, play with it, make love in it. It’s everywhere.

My skin is coated in the dust. My hair, too. After two days at Burning Man and the playa, I can’t get a comb through my hair. I do, sometimes, give myself a thorough sponge bath and lotion-up afterward, and I’m lucky enough to be in a village (a super-organized group) that offers showers. But the feeling of being “clean” and dust-free is temporary; the dust settles back in right away, and I am, once again, dusty.

The texture of my skin changes with the dust. It’s an annual experience I have (one I relish!) in which my whole relationship to my body, skin and hair changes. Any modern/current/2014-ish definition of clean is jettisoned. The playa dust feels clean. It absorbs oils in the skin. And sweat. My hands feel clean, though covered in dust. My skin feels clean, though covered in dust. There’s a purity and a purification that comes from this dust.

I had visions of bringing my Nerium creams and treating half my body with the Nerium cream; the other half with “normal” cream and moisturizer to see how that would work. This didn’t happen. I’d forgotten how much more complex and time-consuming even the smallest of tasks can be on the playa.

On my final day there, packing down the last bits of the village infrastructure, doing a sweep on the ground for any bits of MOOP (matter out of place, i.e. trash), I ran my fingers through the soft alkaline dust. I wanted to roll in it and cover myself fully in the dust so that it’d be in every pore in my body. While 340-some odd days of the year, I aim to be clean, free of anything on me, these days on the playa, I relish the contact with this substance covering the land, this moon-like, alien, ever-so-comfortable dust.

I was graced later that afternoon by an epic dust storm which, in effect, covered me and everyone else in dust. My eyelashes, every single hair on my body and face, my whole body …  I was awash in dust. I bothered not to get my goggles or dust mask, instead taking a final bath for the year in the dust.


As life goes on, we accumulate in our personal histories conversations. Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of conversations, short and long. Most probably long forgotten; some seemingly etched indelibly in our lives … moments when the information and the exchange caused something in our brains and lives to re-examine, to re-order and to re-imagine.

One such conversation for me was as I was leaving the country of Namibia. It was the early ‘90s, my brother and sister were both teachers in the nascent-to-independence country and my mother and I had joined them for an epic, weeks-long trip through the country. I was leaving earlier than my mother and needed a ride to the capital city and the airport. How to get there? No shuttle service or taxi. That’s for sure. No Lyft, Uber or Zip cars; it was another era and another realm of the world.

Somehow I got a ride with a middle-aged German man and we traveled together for a few hours en route to the capital city of Windhoek. I don’t recall 97 percent of the conversation, but I do recall that he spoke with relish about the opportunity to not bathe for several weeks, how his skin had the chance to get re-moisturized with his natural body oils and rebalanced with his natural bacteria.

I think my brain did a, “Halt! What! Replay. Rewind. What did this guy just say? Huh. He wants to not wash, to not cleanse, to not rinse away the dirt, grime, accumulation of body waste (sweat, pheromones, etc.)?” I didn’t understand — or appreciate — then that there is a massive difference in the feeling of cleanliness (even in the midst of being “dirty” and unwashed) that comes from city/suburb/pollution/chemicals/smog vs the kind of “dirty” that comes from being outside, in dirt, open air, away from the things of man. It would take me more camping trips, more cabin trips, more self-awareness and more curiosity to understand there are very different types of feelings of clean and dirty.

On that day, in this I-don’t-remember-his-name German man’s car, as he extolled the awesomeness of weeks without a shower, of his body oils having the time and opportunity to nourish and replenish his skin’s moisture levels and for his skin to have a break from the harshness of chemicals, soap and cleansers, I did find myself utterly aghast and concurrently fascinated.

In my late 20s at the time, my own body was pouring out oil (sebum), sweat, pheromones. I felt my skin and its eruptions — pimples and blackheads mostly — was a constant battleground of clean vs not-clean … I felt that somehow I could get ahead of it, or, if not, at least fight the battle and keep the enemy from advancing too far. My own ignorance of skin, internal chemistry, ecosystems, self-love, emotions and cycles was such a battlefield in its own right; how could I possibly have understood then that harmony and balance were possible?

On that day, in that car, a seed of a thought was planted in me. My body has more ability, more power and more self-knowledge than I had been giving it.  



The Emboldenment Continues: A saga of small-scale terror in one of America’s most diverse suburbs

28 Jan
This is a second-hand story I heard from my mom this afternoon.
Earlier today, my mother was with her walking group of (mostly) seniors at the Columbia Mall. Afterward they went to Panera for coffee, or as my mom mistakenly called it, Pandora. (She still thinks McDonald’s has the best coffee. Some things in life are mysteries.)

Sitting with her fellow walkers, they were talking and, invariably, Trump’s activities of the last week came up. The bemoaning and groaning started. The incredulity of it all! Then one woman shared her personal story. Another did too. And another.

The first woman is about 80 years old and is from subcontinental India. She has lived in the U.S. since the late ’60s, had a formidable career here, raised a family in Columbia, paid her taxes, contributed to society, yada, yada.

Out grocery shopping a few weeks ago, two white guys came up to her and started harassing her. They told her that she needed to leave the country. Scared, but fiery. She told them that she had lived in America since before they were born.They said they were white supremacists and that she needed to leave. She purchased her items and left the store.

They followed her home.

She wrote down their license plate number and contacted the police, but as no crime had been committed, there was nothing the police could do.

About a week later, she left her house one day to do an errand. She started her car but it was driving strangely. All her tires were flat. Slashed. Dismayed, she told her husband. And he said that he would drive her to her destination. Alas, he couldn’t as all four of his tires were also slashed.

Another woman at Panera this morning told a story of an incident that recently happened to her stepson, a man whose family is from El Salvador but who was born in America and, of course, speaks English fluently. He also speaks Spanish. Recently, he was out and about, talking with a friend in Spanish while on his cell phone when a white guy came by and told him to go back to his country. That he wasn’t welcome here anymore.

And then this clincher: Another woman in her 80s–and a small, petite one at that–was in one of the Howard County libraries recently. She works in the social justice movement, particularly around Palestinian and Jewish issues, and she’d gone to the library to do some research. She was in a quiet area with few people around and was reading some books on the subject when a white man came up to her, pushed all of her books off of the table and said, “If you care so much about this, you should go there and leave this country!”

To a little old lady?

In my hometown of Columbia, Maryland, and Howard County. The land of open arms for diversity.

To those who feel so emboldened as to trample on another’s basic rights and dignity because of some perceived otherness, I say this. I AM ALSO EMBOLDENED. And on my watch, I will do whatever I can to continue the true story of America and Americans: We are all–at the end of the day–of immigrant background. And our strength as a country is in our diversity. Always has been. Always will be.


Uncommon thoughts on bacon, cannibalism and religion

2 Jan

I closed out the year by doing a ceremony with the entheogenic grandmother medicine, known as ayauhausca, followed by another entheogen: frog medicine, or Kambo. Both have purgative qualities, the frog medicine much more so than the grandmother medicine.

When the opportunity arose to do these ceremonies, I couldn’t think of a more fitter way to end the year than with a powerful ceremony and purging: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

This was my fifth time doing ayauhausca, though my first time in 15 years. And it was my first time doing Kambo. Kambo is administered by first making a slight burn in the skin and then by applying the frog medicine. When it was my turn, and the person doing the administering started to burn my skin he said, “Meat eater?” To which I answered, “Yes, how can you tell?” Bacon, he told me. “You smell like bacon. Meat eaters do.”

This reminded me of a theory (perhaps more of a thought) that came to me a few years back when I was helping out a lot at friend’s farm where they raised pigs in a woodland setting. We talked a lot about pigs then. Pigs, sausage, bacon, curing. Pigs’ biology, how similar their bodies are to ours, how pigs and humans suffer from similar maladies, how pigs eyes and human eyes are the most similar.

It was in these few years of being around pigs so much that I thought there was probably a correlation to the religious prohibition against eating pork (something I could never understand–come on, pork has to be the tastiest of meats … and bacon! don’t even get me started on bacon!). In my earlier years, none of the explanations I’d heard of why certain religions prohibited the eating of pork had ever made a lick of sense to me.

So, this has always been a question in the back of my mind: Why would a religion deny people the right to eat pork? What’s the motivation?

Then, on the farm, talking so much of pigs, being around pigs, eating pig this and pig that is when this theory/thought/idea popped into my mind, and it’s this:

Humans probably taste like pork! And the religions didn’t want people having a taste for pork (for eating people) and thus banned pork. Yes, I know, it’s a bit of an out-there thought, but it seemed the only plausible explanation I could fathom.

Then, on the new year’s morning, as I prepared to receive my frog medicine, as I was asked if I was a meat eater based on my smell, this quirky (and possibly more true than might appear at first glance) thought came back to my memory.

For the sake of this blog post, I googled about the taste of human flesh and found that, yes, human-eaters of yore have often compared the taste and texture of human flesh to pork.

Stranger things have been true.


How you can help me. And how can I help you?

2 Nov

There’s this Polish guy I know. His name is Mike Turajczyk and he goes by the name Polish Mike; it’s an excellent brand, and he works it. I like Polish Mike. I find him smart, savvy, energized. Our lives intersect as he is, among other things, a marketing and management consultant for healthcare clinics and other businesses. And he loves to help people to live happier lives.

Over tea recently, Polish Mike said to me, “Put together a list of all the ways I can help you. Make it detailed. Add as many things as you want. I’m always networking, and I want to know how I can help you.”

What a fascinating idea.

Personally, I think one of the easiest, biggest-bang-for-the-buck things out there is to give a referral. Referrals take almost no time to give, they provide help to two parties (the seeker and the referred person), plus, when I make a referral, I get networking brownie points from not one, but two people. And the referral saves both parties so much. Trust cuts through about 40 percent of the clutter in relationships. (I got that number from a book I read, The Speed of Trust.)

Now, why would you want to help me?

Maybe you like me. Maybe you tolerate me. Maybe I’ve done a favor for you. Maybe you simply like to be of service. Or maybe you want to build your own cache of brownie points.

But I will tell you something that’s easier to say in person than to type. I’ve had a recent eye-opening experience about the physical health and financial conditions of an elderly family member. This person is not able to retire and stop working at this point for financial reasons, yet his health considerations are making things more difficult with each passing year.

Uber Chronicles - Field Notes - Trees.jpeg

My motivation

I’ve made a personal decision to help this person retire, to provide a reliable, steady stream of income to ease some of his worries in his later years. To do so, I need to get my own financial house in better order; otherwise, I’d be harming myself to help another … and I doubt that’s a good strategy, short term or long term. I’m particularly focused on the realm of streaming, passive and/or affiliate income.

And, with that, I present my list of how you can--if you wish to–help me.

I look forward to seeing your list–and your motivating “why”–as well!

Uber & Uber Chronicles

  • Encourage people to download and read my books.
  • Connect me to someone at  Uber’s HQ if you know anyone who works there. The higher up, the better.
  • Create backlinks through FB, twitter and blogs to my Amazon book store and/or my website. (These help me get better ratings with Amazon and help my book sale.)
  • Introduce me to anyone who does podcasts who might interview me.
  • Send my referral link to anyone who wants to drive for 1) Uber, or enter my referral code of w5p3q when you sign up on and/or Lyft or enter in  my code: JESSIE534662.

Atigro Digital Marketing

  • Introduce me to people who run marketing or IT departments at companies making $3-50 million in annual revenue.
  • Introduce me to people who run their own web design or marketing agencies.
  • Send leads my way for website, SEO, mobile app or database integration projects. The more technical, the better.

Nerium Anti-aging

  • Send people my link if they are concerned about anti-aging of their face, body or brain.
  • Introduce me to people who are interested in the business opportunity in this ever-green and fast -growing industry and company.
  • Keep your eyes out especially for people in Canada, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines, Germany, Colombia and, of course, the U.S.

Amazon Purchases

For Howard County

OK, that’s what I can think of for now.

Working in Antarctica

I am going to get a seasonal job in Antarctica, as an admin support person or something better. I’ve thoroughly applied for such a job in 2016, though my suspicion, as the jobs are so few in number, is that some insider connections may help. If you have any connections with the Antarctic missions and can make an introduction or put in a good word for me, I’d be most grateful.

How can you help Mike?

Mike gives practical solutions to chronic problems and constantly innovates business models to increase sales and profitability. If you (or people you know) are dealing with a business problem that is now chronic, please feel free to contact him on Linkedin or by email. And definitely check out testimonials on YouTube.

What about you? How can I help you?

And, if you make your own list, please send it my way as well.

Uber Chronicles Books 1, 2 & 3! A gift, a favor.

31 Oct


Well, I’m now an experienced and published author. At least in the ebook world. 🙂

Getting book #1 of my Uber Chronicles series published was certainly a learning process. I spent many hours listening to YouTube videos of do’s and don’ts for ebook publishing; I managed more aspects of a book launch than I thought were even possible; and I figured out the rhythm for how I want to publish my future books.

My first book, while not yet an international bestseller, garnered 600+ book sales, over 40 reviews and fans from the US, UK, Canada, Mexico and Japan. If you were among these numbers, thank you!

Book #2, Uber Chronicles: Reflections from the Rearview Mirror, will be published October 30th and available free, as a gift to you, October 30 – November 1st. (Book #1 will also be free those same days.)

It helps my Amazon rankings and sales to get as many downloads as possible, so even if you don’t think you’ll read my book any time soon, a click or two to download my books helps me. Would you kindly do this as a favor to me?

You can find the books on my author page. When you download the book, click “read for free;” however, if the free dates have passed, click “buy now with 1-click.” If you’re on a screen where Amazon is trying to get you to sign up for a monthly service, back out and start again. You don’t need a Kindle to read the books. Amazon offers a free Kindle app that allows you to read ebooks.

Book #3 — Needs a name and beta readers

Book #3 (currently in need of a name) is about to go into production. I’ll be looking for help in the form of beta readers who do anything from check for typos, to read for flow and consistency, to full on editing support. If you’d like to help out with book #3 — either by suggesting a name or by being a beta reader — let me know.


Another favor (two, actually)

As you may know, I’m quite involved in the gig economy, and I do a number of things for active and residual income. I was recently interviewed on the Ever Better podcast. If you know anyone who runs a podcast and think they might be interested in interviewing me, I’d appreciate an introduction.

And, finally, with the business development work I do for Atigro Digital Marketing, I’m always looking to develop relationships with marketing directors of small and medium-size companies. Do you have any friends, associates or colleagues who manage the marketing, website and/or mobile app projects at their companies? If so, I’d love a referral.

Well, that’s it for now. If there is any way that I can help you, say so.



PS — If you’re local to the DC Metro area and would like to get together for tea, a walk or a bike ride, let me know. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it seems that for as many people as I know, to actually reach out and say, “Hey, let’s get together; I’d like to stay in touch and catch up,” can sometimes seem a bit awkward. So, I’m putting it out there: tea, a walk or a bike ride.

Further away? I’m not afraid of the phone or skype. 1+443-794-7521 or jessie.newburn on skype.


Flash floods and my dad is OK

10 Aug

As you probably have heard by now, Historic Ellicott City, a charming, quaint, vibrant, beloved town, some 244 years-old and counting, suffered a devastating flash flood on Saturday, July 30.

Restaurants, stores and businesses were demolished in the raging floods brought on by 5.9 inches of rain in two hours.

The normal river flow of 60 cubic feet of water per second escalated to 21,000 cubic feet per second … like that!

People tell stories of sitting in their apartments, enjoying a nice dinner at a restaurant, or serving customers in a retail shop on a rainy evening when suddenly paintings started falling off the walls, buildings started to shake and water rose quickly from the floorboards into their buildings.

And that was just the beginning.

Dozens of cars were carried down the street in the raging waters: 120 daring swift-water rescues were made (including one by my friend David Dempster whose human-chain car rescue of a stranded woman was videotaped and has now been seen over a million times).

Over 200 buildings have been structurally damaged. Some buildings are possibly beyond recovery. Two are likely to collapse.

Two people died.

I personally know–as in I’ve been to their house or they’ve been to mine–seven people who own stores and restaurants in the area, and I know as acquaintances and friends a handful of other store and restaurant owners.

A friend of my mother’s, someone she’s known for 25 years, is married to someone I know from my childhood. They were on vacation when the flash floods came. They live–nay, lived, past tense–above one of the buildings where collapse is now likely.

My father’s office is also in Historic Ellicott City. And while he often works late, the flash flood came on a Saturday night and thankfully he wasn’t at the office.

His office is higher up the hill and it suffered less damage than buildings lower. But flooding is flooding, and water damage is water damage.

The entire basement of this built-in-1835 building was flooded and the basement steps were covered in a thick, gray, sludge that was still wet ten days after the flood.

When allowed in by the county, we’ve gone in (me, my dad and a few amazing friends and helpers) to clear out the soggy, damp, water-damaged and muddy items.

The flooding, whether it came from the basement or from the street, penetrated his entire office. His business and operations–while significantly inconvenienced–are recoverable. Unlike so many of the stores and restaurants in the area, he has an office, a land development business, that is not dependent on foot traffic.

But Robin took a heavier blow

My dear friend Robin, who quit her job of 26 years as a nuclear engineer so that she could pursue her dream of having an art gallery, has been devastated by this flood. (That’s Robin on the right. The short redhead.)

She opened HorseSpirit Arts Gallery in Historic Ellicott City less than a year ago. She features and sells all and only work from local artists who live in the county.

I’ve hosted and attended parties at Robin’s gallery, been to her house, met her for coffee numerous times, and have had her and her husband over to my home.

She’s not just a business owner I sort of know. And she’s but one of a handful of owners for whom I could tell similar stories; people I know and care for.

She tried to hold the front door shut against the raging waters. Her customers at her gallery had fled to the second story and were begging–screaming–for her to abandon her post and come to higher ground.

She finally retreated when the waters reached her armpits and the door frame broke.

Not only has she experienced the trauma of witnessing her entire first floor being flooded, having her one-of-a-kind art inventory and store furnishings washed away, but now she has been told that while she had purchased flood insurance, she didn’t have flood insurance for an art gallery and so the insurance company isn’t going to pay anything …  even though they knew she owned an art gallery when they sold her the flood insurance.

!!! Seriously ???

A friend has set up a gofundme page for her. Someone else has gathered all the GoFundMe pages for individuals and businesses impacted by the flash flood. Here’s a radio interview where she describes her experience for those of you aurally oriented.

In a flash. In a flash! But how life can change in a flash.


My first Uber Chronicles book is publisheed

19 Jul

I’m so excited. And tickled pink! Last week, I published my ebook, Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat, on Amazon.

My book, if you haven’t heard, is about my experiences driving for Uber. I write about each and every passenger. Yes, each and every one. For this first book (and I’m already working on the next), I chronicle 10 times that I went out driving and the 56 passengers I picked up during those times.

I tell stories about what my passengers look like (and sometimes smell like), what we talk about, where they are going. And I tell stories about what’s happening in my head while I’m driving them: what I’m thinking, the stuff I don’t say out loud.

From my earlier fans and readers, the feedback (and encouragement to write this book) has been great. Beyond anything I expected when I sat down late one night to write about what was happening in my car as I drove for Uber. I think you’ll enjoy the stories, too!

Please download my book today!

The next few days are critical

From everything I’ve read about book publishing on Amazon, and from all the podcasts I’ve listened to and YouTube videos I’ve watched, it seems Amazon likes activity. And it especially likes a high volume of activity at the launch of a book.

What does “activity” look like to Amazon’s algorithm?

  • Downloads (free or paid)
  • Reviews (especially reviews by people who’ve downloaded the book)
  • Backlinks (blogs and social media posts that link exactly and specifically to the book)


How you can help

I need help with these book-launch activities. In order or priority, would you kindly —

  1. Download my book
  2. Write a review if you read the book. It’s a pretty quick read.
  3. Post on social media and include a link and graphic to my book in a blog post (links and graphics below).
  4. Share my book announcement that I’ll be posting on Facebook (personal or book page), Twitter and Linkedin. (To do this, you’ll need to go to my accounts and share the announcement from there.)

Phew! Yes, I know. It’s a lot. A lot more than I thought would be involved. Haha. I remember thinking how easy this would be to publish an ebook. I mean, really, I already had the content written. All I needed was a cover and someone to convert my manuscript to an ebook file. Right? Hah! But that’s another story for another day.

Thank you to each and all of you who encouraged me along the way, gave feedback, helped me edit and proofread the manuscript and provided your vote (and in some cases your strongly expressed opinion, too) regarding my book cover design.

And thank you for your support and help in launching my new book with good energy, community support and happy vibes.



Jessie Newburn


P.S. – Every bit helps. If you can do nothing else, and even if you don’t plan on reading the book, simply downloading the book from Amazon is super helpful to my short- and long-term goals with the books. Thank you!



Uber Chronicles on Amazon


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Graphics to use on social media


Three graphics coming

One pill, 365 days later

12 Jun

I take a brain-health pill. A supplement. And I have taken said pill every day for 365 days.

This daily pill taking, in and of itself, is a miracle. See, even two decades or so ago, when I was taking birth control pills, I rarely remembered to take my pills consistently. The same has been true for me with other supplements. I’d take them for awhile. Then stop. Sometimes I’d get pumped up about supplements and set aside my pills in those little SMTWTFS pill-divider containers. Sometimes I’d forget about the supplements for months and months on end.

Don’t get me wrong: I like supplements. I like tinctures and tonics. I prefer pretty much any path, route or option that will keep me healthier and keep me out of a doctor’s office or hospital. I like the idea of being proactive, of giving my body more to work with. And, for the most part, I’ve taken supplements on faith. I know there is a difference between quality supplements and low-grade stuff, and I figured I’d always lean toward the high-quality stuff. (I once read about how some calcium supplements were mostly ground up oyster shells … not very digestible or bioavailable.) But even with these higher-quality supplements, I’ve never felt a change inside of me; rather, I hoped, trusted and assumed I was getting benefit.

Then along came this brain-health pill. And I knew this was for me. I knew and trusted its source. And, well, frankly, I’d gone from being interested in caring for my brain (having taken a variety of tinctures, pills and concoctions in years past that were purportedly good for my brain) to truly being concerned about my brain.

I’m 52. At 47, I went into menopause … earlier than I thought I would, and for all the literature out there, all the stories I probably heard (and ignored) and all the facts-data-science to be consumed, for some reason, I just never grokked the effects of reduced hormones on the brain: my brain, in particular. And, truth be told, I kinda figured that those effects would pass me over, affect someone else, and simply not be my worries.

But this wasn’t the case. I felt–with alarming concern–the slow but steady decline of my cognitive functioning. Most noticeable to me was my words. My beloved words. They would sit in my brain but they wouldn’t line up as easily. And they certainly didn’t pour out with the same rush of expression I’d felt in prior years. They felt stuck in me. Thick. Slowed.

If one is good, two is better

When I first got my brain-health pills, I decided I would take two per day, rather than the recommended one. I wanted to get back to “my normal “as soon as possible. A number of my friends were also taking the pill. (It’s called EHT, which may be easier to type throughout this post rather than brain-health pill.) We were among the first of the first people, beyond extensive testing, to try it out. We’d been told that some people have very quick results; others get results in a few weeks; and for others yet it might take a couple of months, but that, rest assured, we would all experience benefit; and that once we started using it, we’d never want to be without it. I trusted the person saying this, but I couldn’t imagine what he meant at the time. I do now.

Cognitive improvement in five days

I was one of those who experienced a quicker result. (I’d also add that I’m intensely analytical, always watching my brain and my reactions, and observant of microscopic details, so it was fairly easy for me to notice the change.)  Within five beautiful days, I could feel it. I could sense the decline abating. I could feel the return to what I’d had before in my brain’s cognitive function. People often ask me how I knew, how I could tell. The answer is that I could observe my thinking and speaking, and the speed and fluidity started coming back. I could find my words with greater ease. I could speak with more flow, with less halting and pausing. And even if my benefits were part placebo effect, I don’t care, because I got a real result that I love.

Sleeping better

Among my friends, when we’d get together and talk about who was experiencing what kind of benefits from EHT, many of them were claiming they were sleeping better. At first, I thought I had missed out, but then I realized that this change had come on more gradually for me. Since about the age of 40, I don’t think I’ve had a full night of sleep. In my earlier years, I used to climb into bed, put my head on my pillow and wake up eight or so hours later. Yes, I had some nights where my mind churned, but for the most part, solid sleep was an easy thing for me most of my life. But since turning 40, I’d had countless nights of not being able to fall asleep, of waking, of being restless in the middle of the night and of any other combination of sleep troubles. I eventually realized that I was OK, and that even if I hadn’t been sleeping straight through the night, I was waking up rested, and I came to peace with this.

With EHT, I started falling asleep more easily (more on this later), and I started sleeping more soundly. I still wake up sometimes, but it’s for shorter periods of time and I’m quickly back to sleep. In the last month or so, I also realized that I’ve often had this thought upon waking: Wow, that was a fun dream! Dreams are often/usually/by their very nature, wild, imaginative, beyond-the-everyday. But my dreams specifically started to become fun, a word that I don’t know if I would have used to describe my dreams prior.

A different experience with focus

When I first heard that EHT helped with focus, I imagined some sort of frenzied productivity where I’d enter a zone of action and activity, immune to outside influence. But my experience wasn’t that at all. Oh, how to explain one’s mind. Especially when my mind is different than your mind, and yours is different from the next person’s. I’ll say this: I have an ability to stay with, be with, focus on a thing, person, concept, project or idea more so than I ever have before. I think the reason is that, somehow, my brain doesn’t get pulled off into other directions as easily. Yes, I still go to Facebook looking for one piece of information and ten minutes later find myself laughing at funny cat videos… but when I want to be focused, I can stay with something longer, and it’s not a chore.

I heard many years ago that for women, diffused awareness was a natural state of being, and for men, a single-focused state of existence was natural. So, perhaps what I write has little meaning to men. I don’t know. I do know for me, that I find my thought process so much more enjoyable because I can stay with a subject or a project much more easily… and enjoyably.

Less spin

Among my EHT-taking friends, we started asking, why are we sleeping better? What is it? Improved sleep is not listed as one of the claimable benefits. One woman said, “It’s because we have more focus, so our minds don’t spin as much.” And when she said this, I knew she was right. That was exactly what I was experiencing: my mind wasn’t spinning as much. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had countless experiences where I’m thinking about something, say, for example’s sake, I notice the buttercup flowers in my yard are blooming and beautiful; then I start thinking of butter, which connects to a conversation I had with someone about butter being good for you and no longer vilified, which reminds me of a conversaatin I had with someone about animal protein vs vegetarian protein, which reminds me of an article I read about a surplus of quinoa in Bolivia, which reminds to give some older issues of The Economist to my brother, who enjoys the magazine. And that all happens in about 2.7 seconds … if even.

I’m not claiming that this doesn’t happen anymore, only that it happens less. Much less.

Less obsessing

I don’t think I understood how much I obsessed on thoughts (usually not positive ones) until I obsessed on them less. Since taking EHT, my mind is so much more my own. I’m much less prone to attacks of obsessive thoughts that leak into my mind and take over. For this alone, I am intensely grateful. My mind is such better company, so much kinder a friend when my thoughts are softer and more peaceful.

Overall, calmer and more relaxed

I can only guess, but perhaps it’s the combination of the better sleep, less spinning and less obsessing, but I feel significantly calmer and more relaxed this past year. I feel less emotional, irritable and erratic. Who knows, this experience could also be because I’m more mature, in mid-life, less affected by hormonal spikes and simply more chill. I wouldn’t pin this effect totally on EHT, though I do believe EHT has contributed significantly. I certainly feel a before and an after inside of me.

More logical

Hah. Well, perhaps this is subjective. But I will tell one story. I was having a glass of wine with a long-time friend, someone I’ve known about a decade or so. We hadn’t seen each other in about six months. As we were talking, he suddenly said, “What’s different about you?” I responded: “I don’t know. What do you mean?” He told me that I was more logical, that he could follow my train of thought better. (That makes me pause and wonder how illogical I might have been prior, but I took it as one of those left-handed compliments.) I told him the only thing I’d done differently was to take EHT.

Greater energy

When I first read that EHT helped with the body’s natural energy stores, I thought, “what the heck does that mean?” Now I know. My energy level has completely improved; I’m already what some consider a fairly high-energy person. And I’d agree.

However, within a few months of taking EHT, I realized that I had hardly consumed a cup of caffeine at all. I hadn’t tried to stop. I just had. I had moved from drinking coffee to tea about four years ago (a move I highly recommend), consuming, instead–and with regularity–green tea, black tea, yerba matte, runa and a host of other caffeinated teas. I often drink herbal teas, too. And, without trying, without even being aware, I had pretty much stopped drinking caffeine, and had not even noticed! Now when I consume caffeine, I feel jacked up, and not in a good way.

Also, a long-time and avid nap taker, I noticed that I was hardly taking afternoon naps anymore. I love afternoon naps. Just love them! But I wasn’t needing them. Once, when I realized I wasn’t napping in the afternoons as much, I tried to nap and just couldn’t. I do nap sometimes, and these naps seems to come and go in phases, but I don’t need them the way I used to.

I also noticed an odd ability to handle foods better. One of the reasons I eat so darn well is because I’ve always been very responsive to food’s chemistry (though I didn’t discover this or acknowledge this about myself until I was in my early 30s). If I eat a sandwich or a lot of processed food, I’m likely to zonk out and go into state of brain fog and low energy fairly quickly. That has really shifted for me since taking EHT, which has its pluses and its minuses in that I appreciate that I feel less subject to the food’s chemistry, but I’ve also been more willing to take on food I might not normally eat. I actually had a burger, bun, fries and a beer for lunch a month or so back, and I was able to work and be productive all day!

Reduced cravings

I am an ex-smoker, but since quitting smoking, I have taken up popcorn like the best of them. Crunchy, easy to slam into my face, buttery and salty … I just love it. And I eat it fairly often. Big, big, big bowls of it. A few months ago, I realized that my popcorn consumption had dropped precipitously. I’ll still have a bowl here and there–trust me–but how much I eat, why I eat it (the real concern) and when I eat it, has all shifted. I even ate some popcorn a few weeks ago, almost in nostalgia for my past cravings, and it felt like a chore to get through the bowl of it.

I feel I need to eat less frequently too. Most of my life I’ve been racked by needing to eat every few hours. I’m not quite sure what experience I’m stating here because I’ve only noticed this recently, but I don’t think I’m eating as much or as often as I have in prior years. Again, this could be from maturity and where I am in life and simply not needing as many calories.

Easier meditation

I used to practice Buddhism for about 15 years: an active, chanting, out-loud-prayers kind of Buddhism. Yes, it took focus to sit there, but I didn’t really have to quiet my mind. Actually, we often focused on what we desired, and chanted/prayed for that. I much enjoyed it. But I’ve never been much of one to actually sit, meditate and think of nothing.

Not only have I incorporated some occasional meditating in my life, but I’ve had some intense and powerful experiences doing so since taking EHT. One particular experience I had was a day I found myself confused, bothered and not able to make a decision about what to do next regarding some travel logistics and meeting up with a roving group of friends in D.C. I sat in my car, closed my eyes and decided to focus on people for whom I was grateful. I was able to go back in my memories (something I’ve not been particularly good at) and remember person after person in this particular timeframe in my life. It was almost like a memory exercise I was doing. I was able to keep at bay pesky thoughts and memories that wanted to pull me in another direction. And I was able to go deeper into the memories, at will. All focused. All at will. I felt as though I was opening up file drawers in my life and examining the contents. It was amazing. Then I had a sudden rush of understanding: the common denominator of all the memories rose up, and an flood of energy coursed through me, taking me deep, deep, deeeeeep. I rose up, smiled, said to myself, “That was lovely!” Then got out of my car and headed onward with a sense of peace.

More eye contact

About a decade ago, I was videotaped for a spontaneous interview. Later, when I saw the video, I was shocked and fascinated by how much my eyes move while I talk. Up, down, left, right. All over the place. I was also aware that when other people spoke, I would dart my eyes around a lot, too. For me, this has been my normal.

One of the completely unexpected and sweet benefits of using EHT is that I can track longer on people when they speak. I can look at them longer, focus my visual (and other) attention on them longer. This may be the kind of thing no one else has noticed, but I like it. It feels good to me.

Improved memory

One of the main reasons people take EHT is to improve their memory, and, for sure, my memory has improved. But I’d rather speak about what it has meant to my life to have an improved memory. I feel a greater integrity, a greater trust and a greater sense of self in having improved memory. I feel that I can move through the world and that my word, what I say to people (and myself), has more meaning and more value. Because I remember more, I can say to someone, “I’ll follow up with you on that.” And while I’m still a fan of writing things down and I’m a practitioner of David Allen’s Getting Things Done system, the reality is that I usually don’t write things down when I’m out and about speaking with someone, but I do remember more of my day, my conversations, my experiences. And this makes me feel better about me.

No bruise?

I took a tumble awhile back while doing the Billygoat Trail at Great Falls Park in Virginia. My hair is too short to put in a pony tail, but it’s long enough that it sometimes blocks my vision, particularly when it whips around in the wind. And this is what happened while scrambling on some boulders. My peripheral vision was blocked by my hair in the wind. I fell and banged my shin something bad. My hiking buddy smiled at me and said kindly that I’d have a shiner to remember this hike by. And I figured I would. But while my skin was inflamed and a little tender, I never bruised. That could have been nothing, or it could have been (likely was) EHT in play. EHT was originally marketed to elite athletes for workout recovery.

Improved sensory ability

About six or seven months in to taking EHT, I was out for a walk one winter day. This is something I do here and there. No big deal. I walked a path I’ve walked a hundred times before. But this time I had a spark, a feeling, an awareness that I was picking up more information. Mostly with my eyes, though perhaps with my other senses. I’ve also noticed an enhanced sense of smell, though, of course, there were no baseline measurements taken before or after EHT, so this is my observation and not data that was tracked.

Better eye-hand coordination

I’ll tell a story here. This may be incredulous to some, but to me it was a big deal. I’ve never been very good at catching things thrown at me. Someone tosses me a set of keys, for example, I miss it, usually just letting them drop to the ground where I then pick them up. As a kid, I played sports and was athletic, but softball (even Wiffle ball), volleyball, frisbee or any sport that required having to catch an item flying in the air was a sport that didn’t appeal to me.

Then a couple months ago I was in a situation where I dropped something from a balcony of sorts. The person near my dropped item picked it up and indicated that they were going to toss it to me. I nodded. And then this thing happened: I watched the object (a pen) being tossed to me, and it was as though my vision-brain-hands mechanism went into some sort of slow motion where I was able to track the pen, reach out and grab it.

In the past when I’d catch something, it would feel like a fluke because usually my eyes were half closed as the item approached me through the air. This time I tracked it, and my hands knew what to do to catch the pen. It was, for me, an amazing experience.

I’ve also been typing with greater accuracy. Fewer corrections. More get-it-right-the-first-time typing. Mostly, that is.

Greater hope

Each to our own. Don’t judge. Or if you do, keep it to yourself. But I love talking to my brain and my body now in a way I never did before. I feel with my affirmations and gratitude that I have so much more appreciation for my body, so much more hope that my brain can do a great job taking care of anything I need taken care of, and so much more happiness to have as part of my daily experience, a supplement that helps my brain, my neurons, my body, function better.

A gentler life

Overall, I’m simply happier. My primary relationship in life is with myself. I am the person with whom I spend more time than any other person. And not only do I spend more time with myself than any other person, but I’m more aware of my mind, my brain, my thoughts, my body than anything or anyone else. With this brain-health supplement, my mind is calmer, my thoughts are gentler, my focus is better and my feelings are more peaceful. I trust myself more. The net effect of all of this is that I enjoy the time I spend with myself more than ever, and because my primary relationship in life is better, my life is better.

The product claims

The U.S. version of the product makes these claims:

  • Enhances memory
  • Enhances focus
  • Improves cognitive function
  • Enhances the body’s natural energy
  • Supports neuronal networking
  • Improves overall brain health
  • Enhances the body’s immune system

The Canadian version (same product, different regulations), makes these claims —

  • Enhances cognitive function in adults
  • Enhances memory in adults
  • Supports peripheral circulation
  • Metabolizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins

And I couldn’t find what the Mexican or Korean product boxes claim, though I assume they’re similar. Though here is a piece about EHT as a post workout-recovery supplement.

Now, some people, per the reviews I’ve read online, don’t do well with EHT. I’m much more metaphysical than my suburban exterior would let on, and I’d be most curious, if I could get into their minds and lives, to discover why EHT didn’t work for them. Oh, I’m sure they could say it did X, or made me feel Y. But, again, I’d ask, why? Why could they not receive the benefits of this near-miraculous supplement for brain health? I’m not their psychologist, but I’m always curious.

Is it a placebo? The power of suggestion?

I’m well aware that part of medicine and supplements’ efficiency is the placebo effect. And I know that I walked into this experience of taking EHT with a hope and a belief of its efficacy. And if those two things have contributed to my results, I am very OK with that, and I’ll take whatever percentage of those aspects are at play with joy. Add ’em up. Pile ’em on. I’ll take all the benefits of a healthier brain, enhanced energy, improved cognitive function and more.

After all, it’s my brain we’re talking about here. Why wouldn’t I want the absolute best for it?

How to get EHT

If you have a friend who sells Nerium, please contact them, and they can help you get the supplement. If you’d like to get it from me, you can do so here.

EHT is made by Signum Biosciences and is sold by Nerium International.


A cultural bias so present, few know it even exists

2 Feb

In response to this BloombergBusiness article: As Boomers Retire, Companies Prepare Millennials for Leadership Roles by Jeff Green.


Once again, the widespread cultural bias against recessive generations and toward dominant generations rears its predictable head.

In this article, the author goes on about the whoa-is-corporate-america problem of losing all the knowledge that Boomers have and needing to transfer it to the new Millennial leaders in their ranks. one point, the author talks about how much money companies save in this brain-trust transfer and he writes, “The median tenure of workers age 25-34 is about three years, compared with 10.4 years for workers age 55-64, according to BLS data.”

Does anyone notice how he … just casually … neglects to include data about 35-54 year olds (which one might want to include when one is talking about companies and leadership). And one might want to include data about 35-54 year olds in an article about business because, well, those are kind of prime earning years for many.

But, most people will read this ridiculous article and say, “Yeah, that’s a problem with so many Boomers retiring; good thing those companies are preparing.” The author even concludes his article by saying, “The bottom line: Companies that don’t plan for generational management shifts risk falling behind and losing out to their competitors.”

Except how can we really trust what he writes when he curiously neglects to address the 35-54 year olds, which, if you happen to know anything about generations is well, almost the exact age of today’s GenXers in 2016 (35-55 years old).

Surprised? No, I’m not surprised. This cultural bias against the recessive generations — diminishing them, lessening their impact such as what this author does by neglecting to include BLS data on 34-54 year olds — happens so frequently that people don’t even understand their own bias, or the bias they swallow and thus participate in. And the reverse happens, the over-glorification, the selective choice of data to include about dominant generations is the other half of the story that supports the cultural bias.

I understand that GenXers’ strength lies much in being off the radar, being able to do what needs to be done without the light shining — and certainly without gold stars. And I respect the natural, archetypal cycles of generations: dominant, recessive, dominant, recessive and then back to the beginning for a repeat.

But, really, can we at least get some statistical acknowledgement? Some accuracy in journalism? Don’t do it for the GenXers, of course. Lord knows, we don’t need it. But Society needs the information. Policy planners need the correct perspective. And, for goodness’ sake, for the author’s conclusion to be truly helpful, i.e., “Companies that don’t plan for generational management shifts risk falling behind and losing out to their competitors,” businesses need accurate information.


Dominant – prophets (boomers) and heroes (millennials and GI)
Recessive – nomads (genxers) and artists (silent gen and now homelanders)


To delete, or not delete, my blog

23 Dec

I came here tonight, to this virtual land known to me as “my blog” with thoughts of deleting it. This particular thought has been swirling around inside my head for awhile. I hardly blog, per se, any more: I’ve written five posts in the last year, down from my average of about a dozen per year for the last few years, and down from my average a couple-few hundred posts per year when I started almost ten years ago.

hmmEvery year, around this time of the Winter Solstice, I feel compelled to clean out old files and resort and organize content, databases, files … it’s one of the ways that I look back at the year. And tonight I deleted 58 blog posts. Really, after close to a decade of blogging, posts such as those claiming that Facebook will become a tool for community building seem quaint.

I’ve deleted hundreds of posts over the years, whittling my total conten down to a fraction of its earlier volume, but I wasn’t quite ready tonight to delete my blog wholesale. One of the reasons I still like having my blog around is that I often reference my own writing and send people links to posts I’ve written before. I imagine some day (maybe as the winter of 2017 arrives) that I’ll no longer need or want even that. But, for now, at least, the blog remains.

Personally, I find Facebook more fulfilling, as it’s much easier for me to write there and, frankly, Facebook is gobs more engaging than my blog has ever been terms of comments and likes. I’ve had some crazy success with my blog posts in earlier years, sometimes garnering  150k+ views on one post alone … on one of my Vitamix smoothie recipes, of all things! Well …

Happy Winter Solstice! May this coming season bring you much introspection, time for reflection and opportunity to prepare for all that’s new and wonderful in the new year ahead.

The Skin We’re In …

28 May

I learned recently that our skin and brains are the most closely related organs. Apparently, both the brain and skin start off as the same types of cells and then differentiate. Also, our skin (our largest organ) and the brain communicate in ways that provide a feedback loop for sensory awareness, registration of emotions and much more.

Learning this had me fascinated and curious, and I decided to explore what skin looked like close up, so I searched on “electron microscope photography” and “human skin.” I was blown away by the photos. So much detail. So much going on. Look here!

human skin under an electron microscope

I first thought of fish scales when I saw this image!

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 2.53.22 PM

And look at the detail in this image above.


Another rather “scaly” looking close-up.

Well, people do talk sometimes of their skin feeling or looking scaly. It’s part of our lexicon when we speak of skin. Turns out we have about 35 billion skin cells, and as new cells emerge, they push out the older cells. We shed around 30,000 skin cells every minute, which results in the loss of roughly 43,200,000 each day. Word! 43 million shedded scaly skin cells a day. 43 million.

But then I found some information that really popped my brain and had me thinking. The epidermis, the outer layer of our skin (which includes the part of our skin we see every day) is comprised of more than just the skin’s surface. It consists of a number of levels, each with their own distinct role. As new cells are pushed upward through the other levels of the epidermis and toward the surface of our skin, they die along the way and eventually become filled with keratin, a very strong protein. “These dead, keratin-filled cells make up the outer parts of the epidermis and provide your body with the tough, protective overcoat it needs to survive. The dead cells on the outer parts of your skin are constantly shed and replaced by new ones. As a result, every 20-30 days, your body has an entirely new surface of skin.”

So I looked up keratin, and guess what? One type of keratin is found in the hair (including wool), horns, nails, claws and hooves of mammals. Another type of keratin is found in the nails, scales, claws, shells, feathers, beaks and quills of other animals.

In other words, the proteins in our outermost layer of skin are akin to the outer skin/hair/claws/scales of other animals. Now I can see when I first saw an electron microscope image of skin I thought of scales.

Fwiw, here are two close-up images of a human fingernail.

human fingernail, electron microscope

magnified fingernail

And here are two pics of human hair, the first damaged; the second, healthy.

microscope-human-hair-structure-damaged normal_hair_600x

Interesting stuff!

Beware, though, if you start googling electron microscope photography images. It might be a while until you emerge. It was for me. 🙂

How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr for $15

27 Mar

As a wrap up to 2014, I decided to send out a “video card” of sorts in lieu of a holiday card, which I usually send out. To tell my year-end story, I decided to do what is called a whiteboard video.

After sending out the video, quite a few people asked me how I’d made it, so I thought, “Hmm, maybe I’ll do another whiteboard video to share how I did the first one.” The service I used, Fiverr, is one I recommend for an exploration of possibilities of what can be done in the world now for a mere $5. It’s worth a poke for the knowledge of what people will do for $5, and who knows, you might end up hiring someone for some gigs.

Here is my “How I created a whiteboard video on Fiverr” video; this one cost me $15.75 to produce.


And here is my 2014 wrap-up video. The cost of this was $45 (because it was longer).


And here’s what started my exploration into whiteboards, a one-minute video introduction to a new community calendar website I created: The cost of this video was $15.75.


Turnips to die for … and some magical ingredients

27 Nov

Many things happen in cycles of seven: human development and consciousness being the biggest one. There’s the seven-year itch and relationships going through cycles of seven. Hair growth supposedly changes in cycles of seven; and tastebuds change in cycles of seven. Ever notice how you can hate/loathe/not like at all some food in younger years (onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, organ meats, for example) and then all of sudden, one day you wake up realize that you not only no longer loathe said offensive food item but actually like it ?

roasted turnips with white balsamic vinegar from secolari'sWell, apparently, when I wasn’t paying attention, turnips crept up on me and went from the No, Thanks! to the Yes, Please! category in my book. Here’s my favorite way to make turnips, and I think I could convert a turnip-hater into a turnip fan with this recipe. My magical ingredients are marked by the asterisks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then get a nice oven-safe dish out — one where your volume of turnips won’t be more than about two inches high. Place the ingredients directly in this dish.

Peel and dice a couple/few fresh* turnips

Drizzle good quality* olive oil on them; enough to coat them

Liberally add fresh or dried thyme

Drizzle some White Balsamic Vinegar** from Secolari’s

Add some super-good quality salt** (Piran Sel Gris or Meadow Flake from The Meadow)

Toss the ingredients together, coating everything well; I use my hands. Bake/roast the turnips until they transform, change from a thick opaque flesh to a lighter, clearer color, and carmelize. Try not to eat them all before you serve them.

Image from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Gen Z is here! (No, they’re not.)

28 Jul

Some friends asked me to comment on this article, Get ready for Generation Z. So I did.


I’m a Strauss and Howe purist. Generations are 20 years in length, plus or minus a couple/few years, there is no Gen Z (just as there is no Gen Y); the nomenclature is all wrong because it speaks to one generation coming after another in a sequence. Generations come after each other, of course, but cyclically, not sequentially.

Btw, the Homelanders (the generation born after Millennials) are only about 8-9-10 years old at the top end, not 16ish as stated in the article.. These pics and examples of kids in this article are mid- and late-wave Millennials, that’s all. You can call ’em what you want — call them GenZed if you want — but that doesn’t make them a new generation.

The Homelanders aren’t “smarter,” per se … of course not, but they will become “the credentialed experts” as they rise up the age ladder. Just as GenXers/nomads (the shadow gen to the Artists/Homelanders/Silent gen) rail against “the credentialed expert” — noticed the power of social media to create DIY experts and rock stars? yeah, that’s GenX energy to destroy the cultural hold of “credentialed experts” made powerful by the Silent Gen and to circumnavigate the power hold of Boomers (read: “I was here first, therefore, it’s mine”) — the next round of artists (the Homelanders) will bring back to front and center the importance and value of the credentialed expert. This will begin to rise gently in importance in their young adult years (starting around 2024) and will become solid and unshakable in the midlife years (starting around 2044).

More Carrots, Indeed!

30 Jun
more carrot burning man campHey loves, Many/most/all? of you know I go to Burning Man and am involved in a camp called More Carrot. Burning Man is much more (indescribably more) than just a big party in the desert. It’s a place of community, principles and values withwhich I deeply resonate. I’m asking for your support in our annual fundraising campaign. 
We keep our camp numbers small (30ish) and each camp member contributes $400 to our operating costs plus their own ticket and other costs (about $2500-$3000 each in the US and about $4000-$5000 for our many Aussies), and we do this so that the participation, community and intimacy of our camp is greater; alas, our costs and investments are more than our camp contributions provide. Please consider even a small donation to our camp and this amazing growing/developing/expanding space and experience that is Burning Man and More Carrot.
Thanks for your support!
Actions you can take to help —
  • Share our campaign link in your network
  • Donate to our campaign today, even $10 helps
  • Gift a box of fresh produce to a burner you love ($100 and $15o)
And at no cost, help us get more followers and reach a larger network —

Burning Man More Carrot

Please support my Burning Man camp with your donation today!

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