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Meet the Flip Fam: Ashley Sumner

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Meet the Flip Fam: Ashley Sumner

Welcome to our Flip Fam blog series, where we interview members of our community who artfully build the spirit of adventure and serendipity into their daily lives!

This week, we’ll meet Ashley Sumner, an entrepreneur and femme-empowered connector based in Los Angeles, and gather inspiration around how she infuses intuition and fresh ideas into the every day.

Ashley

Name: Ashley Sumner

Your favorite nickname: Smashster

Where were you born? The Poconos, Pennsylvania

Where do you live now? Los Angeles, California 

What’s your profession or calling? Co-Founder of Quilt (*Read more below!)

What’s a secret power that you have? Intuitive connector

What’s your go-to local zen spot? The Raven Spa in Santa Monica. Massage therapist, Da Da is life changing!

What is your most beloved travel destination? Florence, Italy. I had the opportunity to live there in my early twenties and I felt the most at home. I now understand what nostalgia feels like and what it is to seek beauty in every moment.

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to blend that into your daily life? My greatest ideas have come from taking adventures. Breaking free from my comfort zone, learning about different cultures and meeting people I wouldn’t otherwise meet are all high on my list for ways to be creatively inspired. On a daily basis, I try not to get stuck in too much routine. Even if it’s just walking a different direction...or fighting Waze to take a more scenic route (and turning the volume off so I don’t go crazy).

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? I remind myself of what I’ve already been through and very simply remember that I’m still here and doing great, better than great. Something has weight only if we allow it to.

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck? I'm a cliché yoga-fiend. And I recently learned primordial sound (mantra-based meditation) with the lovely Megan Monahan.

How has Serenflipity played a role in your life? I remember flipping a card randomly when I was at Cara’s house. It was “do something nice for the oldest person you see today” (or something very similar). I picked up the tab of a woman nearby at lunch and left without saying anything. I gave that card to my friend, who gave it to another friend in NYC on her travels...and that same card found its way back to me a month later! It’s now off in the wild yet again - let’s see what happens:)

What do you think about adventure potentially being the next meditation (and what could the benefits be)? In my meditation I’ve learned to be more light-hearted and less judgmental. In my Serenflipity adventures I often walk away feeling just that way. With adventure, I think it’s about having a new perspective and realizing you’re just a small, measly dot on a large spinning blue and green globe and no matter what… you’ll get through it, whatever it is. 

 

Be sure to trail Ashley's adventures here!

IG: ashleyjsumner + we_quilt 

 

*And what is Quilt, you ask?

QUILT is the evolution of what was once One Roof US. After two years running co-working space out of homes, Ashley and her partner, Gianna Wurzl figured out a way to make it more flexible and accessible for all of their entrepreneurial lady peers.

Quilt is an online platform that empowers women to open their homes to other women for co-working, and get paid for it.

Hosts can list their homes on a daily basis to no more than 15 women for co-working sessions. Guests then have the opportunity to book on-the-go for $20. It's a wonderful way to build your network in a safe and intimate setting where you can truly connect with one another.

Quilt is launching July 24, 2017 on the westside of LA! Head here to sign up.

#unlockwomanmade

 

 

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10 Fun Ways to Express Your Adventurous Side With Style

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10 Fun Ways to Express Your Adventurous Side With Style

"Wear something unexpected or outside of your usual style today, weather an accessory or full ensemble."


A quote from one of our favorite Serenflipity Spark cards, exploring your closet for things you haven't worn in years might be just what you need to switch up your style and boost your confidence. Elizabeth Entin, the Founder of Runway Passport agrees. To take your flip even further, follow her 10 tried and true tips for a fun refresh.

Try a line you’ve never heard of

Everyone has their favorite designers and brands; chances are that you know what works for you. But instead of playing it safe, try something you've never heard of before. It's fun to be the first to discover something great before it becomes the next hot name or trend.

Add a statement piece

Wear a standout piece of jewelry (or even layers of jewelry) when you're casual and comfy. Go for a dramatic necklace, big hat, or a group of chunky and quirky bracelets that cover half your arm. Pair your pick with jeans and t-shirt for a fun twist during your normal day.

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Be bold and show off

It's easy to get caught up in thinking, "I won’t wear a crop-top until I do 100 sit-ups a day for 6 months”, but you shouldn't let a misconception of having a perfect body stop you from wearing something you love. Instead, embrace what you think is a flaw, and you'll notice that the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. 

Mix prints

Wear a floral top with a striped skirt—or put any other two creative patterns together. Not sure where to start? Try gingham, plaid, or polka dots. Go for it!

Do the fashion “don’t”

Magazines always feature trends and knock styles from previous years. Instead of following along, wear a look you love despite the fact that it's a "don't". You'll feel (and look) awesome doing it anyway.

Try an unusual combo

Why not put on your sexiest pair of heels with a casual pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt? Balenciaga did it on the runway, and style bloggers do it daily. You can too.

How many ways can you style your favorite skirt? 

Dress it up on a casual day.

Put on your favorite dress, a pair of heels, do up your makeup (hello, bright lip!) and meet a friend in a casual coffee shop or a hole in the wall bar for a beer. Heck, go do some errands! You'll enjoy the “I’m going to a special occasion” feeling during an otherwise ordinary day. What an inspiring way to live.

Style the same piece as many ways as you can

Here's a challenge: How many different outfits can you make with a single dress or skirt? I have a cute little black dress that I've worn as a top with jeans, to formal black tie event with stockings and heels, and with high boots and a mini jacket to an investor meeting. Your turn.

Wear the “wrong” color

That color that's just not you? Try it anyway. I was always convinced that green looked awful on me; but I tried it one day just for fun and I got so many compliments. Now I wear green often. Turns out, we don't always know what looks great on us!

Reach for the back of your closet

If you've saved clothes for years, reach into the dark, deep corners of your closet to round up outfits you used to love and have hung onto. Try them on again, and incorporate pieces that fit well into your wardrobe again. You might be surprised at how easy it is to mix and match, creating a brand new look.


About the Author

Elizabeth Entin founded Runway Passport, a platform that sells clothing by emerging and fashion-forward designers from around the world. She loves traveling and discovering new and creative designers. Elizabeth is also passionate about animal rescue.

Connect with Liz: Instagram, Twitter, runwaypassport.com

 

 

 

 

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From the Archives: The Best Travel Advice I've Ever Received

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From the Archives: The Best Travel Advice I've Ever Received

Happy Flashback Friday! We're going back to the original travel stories and experiences that led to the creation of Serenflipity. 

Below is the story of the first flip she received from friend, Eric Gertler. He encouraged her to write to the ambassador of every country she visited — surprisingly, almost every office responded, and she ended up at the US Embassy in Bangkok, chatting with the Counselor of Economic Affairs, and gleaning some great advice in the process. 

Where are you traveling next, and to whom could you write?

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Advice That'll Help You Feel Confident in Your Most Bad Ass Bathing Suit This Summer

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Advice That'll Help You Feel Confident in Your Most Bad Ass Bathing Suit This Summer

According to the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, a whopping 76% of American women don’t feel good about their bodies. Sound familiar? If so, don’t let your insecurities cloud some of the most beautiful days of the year—instead, give your confidence a big boost while wearing your most bad ass bathing suit this summer.  Here's how to do it.

Nail the basics

Kick up your beauty routine by focusing on your hair, skin, teeth and nails to feel and look healthier. When you feel great about yourself, you'll think less about the things you're insecure about. Treat yourself to a regular deep hydration for your hair to give it extra vitality and use a moisturizing mask once a week, especially around your eyes. Try an illuminating foundation to give your face a natural glow, and exfoliate and moisturize to plump up and smooth out your skin all over.  

Interestingly, research shows that having pearly white teeth makes you more likable instantly—and it can make you look younger. Luckily, all it takes is a few minutes with whitening strips to make a noticeable difference. A manicure or pedicure can also help you feel well-groomed and confident. Booked solid this week? Try a quick buff or cuticle trim at home; it really helps.

Work it out

Did you know that supermodels are known to exercise just before a photoshoot so they can flex their muscles to look more toned? You can definitely do the same before you hit the beach.

Keep it simple and effective with a plank, some lunges and squats or couple of minutes of jumping jacks. The increased circulation and deeper breathing from your quick workout will help your skin glow and improve your posture while muscle contractions help give you a firmer look. Remember to stay hydrated and keep healthy snacks on hand so you feel great after your sweat session on a hot summer day.

Enhance the shape you have

A healthy alternative to spending too much time in the sun, spray tans are a go-to secret for confident celebrities around the world. Why not treat yourself to one as a way to accentuate curves in all the right places as well?

Make your spray tan work for you by choosing a formula that works for you and exfoliating your entire body first, focusing on any areas where you have rough or dry skin (like your elbows and knees). Once you're done, apply self-tanner and let it set. You can go over areas you're self-conscious about twice to accentuate them, whether it's your waist, thighs or booty. To get it just right, subtly blend the tanner to create a gradually darker area.

If you''re working with self tanning products for the first time, try a test run at home before planning to rock your darker, summer shade at an event or on vacation. When short on time or in doubt, leave it to a pro and treat yourself to a professional tan with contouring. You'll love the result!

Straighten up

Good posture can be a game-changer when it comes to your appearance—so while it might sound unusual, you should practice your most upright posture before you hit the beach in your bathing suit. Use a mirror to scope out how you look when you walk, sit and stand. Are there positions that look more flattering than others?

You can also practice 'power posing'. Try putting your hands on your hips or behind your neck or pushing your chest out to feel more confident about how you look. Find the pose that makes you feel the best and know you can rock it anytime you're feeling self-conscious. 

Adopt an “I’m hot” mindset

Confidence is captivating and beautiful, so it's no surprise that people admire and flock to those who have it. Confident women have a few things in common too: They hold themselves straighter, stand taller, make more eye contact, and are naturally more playful. The best part? When you exude confidence, no one notices the things you might not like so much about yourself!

Before you get ready to step out in your badass bathing suit, spend a few minutes in front of the mirror. Repeat some empowering positive affirmations to boost your self-esteem, such as “I’m beautiful” or “I rock this bikini”. Focus on your best attributes and remember the times people have complimented you on them. You can even think back to a situation where you felt super-confident, like when you had a successful presentation at work or when you finished a 10-mile run.  

Loving yourself unconditionally and feeling good about taking care of your body is the best strategy for finding confidence while rocking a bathing suit. Once you start actively loving yourself, there will be nothing that can hold you back from making this the best summer ever. 


About the Author

A social scientist and holistic health coach, Franziska Alesso-Bendisch, MBA, PhD helps busy women create sustainable and healthy habits based on their personality type. She's the founder of The Well Space and passionate about putting women into the driver’s seat when it comes to their own health and the health of the planet. Franziska is based in Miami, FL, a mom of 3 under 3, and enjoys the little time she has with a glass of wine, cooking (something healthy), yoga and connecting with the startup scene in Miami.

Connect with Franziska: Instagram, Twitter, thewellspace.co

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Meet the Flip Fam: Gregorio Braga

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Meet the Flip Fam: Gregorio Braga

Welcome to our Flip Fam blog series, where we interview members of our community who artfully build the spirit of adventure and serendipity into their everyday lives!

This week, we’ll meet Gregorio Santiago Braga, an entrepreneur and mentor based in Topanga Canyon, CA and gather inspiration around how he infuses adventure, dancing and lots of smiles into the every day.

 

Your favorite nickname: G

Secret super-power (that may surprise us!): I can blind taste wines and guess their varietal with high accuracy.

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to bring that into your daily life? Adventure is part of living. If I don’t go on adventures, then I find my life is missing a sense of connection. Funny enough, I keep the first Serenflipity card I was given with me and use it to spark a bit of adventure every so often. The card reads: Keep a smile on yourself all day long. Surprisingly, that simple act of keeping a smile on even when you don't feel happy or joyful creates a better environment. That environment allows people to be more open and inviting.

 What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? Sometimes, when I embrace people, I will take three breaths and repeat to myself: I see you for you, I thank you for you, I’m glad you are you.

 What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck? Fasting and/or dancing usually do the trick.

How do you Serenflip? I’m a regular at the Serenflipity brunches here in LA. People really get out of their comfort zones...it’s a refreshing place to spend a Saturday.

What’s your local go-to zen spot? One of my go-to Zen spots is the Torrey Pine Gliderport in San Diego. Even though it isn't local, it's one of my favorite places to catch the sunset.

What’s your most beloved travel destination? Florianopolis, BR and Ubud, Bali. There is something about these island cities that make them so magical to me.

 

Be sure to follow Gregorio’s adventures here!

FB: facebook.com/gregorio.braga

IG: @gs_braga

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5 Ways to Bring Adventure to Your Work Day (and Still Get Your Stuff Done)

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5 Ways to Bring Adventure to Your Work Day (and Still Get Your Stuff Done)

Zip lining through a jungle...
Renting a moped in Thailand...
Trying an exotic local cultural delicacy that looks downright crazy...
Leaving your work life behind and running away to Morocco with a one-way ticket...

When we think about what adventure could look like, the sky's really the limit. Often though, it’s hard to see what’s possible when staring at the computer within the confines of a workspace or our loud open office. When we aren’t feeling stimulated in an adventurous way in these sorts of situations, we don't feel creative—and if we don't feel creative, it's easy to get stuck at work and fall into a negative head space. So let's nip it in the bud and get to a place where you’re naturally infusing adventure into your day with without affecting your work performance, shall we?

Here are five of my favorite ways to bring adventure into the work day:

1. Indulge in cuisine from around the world. If you work in a major metro you're likely surrounded by a culinary mecca for different types of food, some of which you’ve never tried before. One day a week, commit to finding a new place for lunch and a goal to try something new on the menu. Begin to invite people to do it with you, starting a de facto club of sorts where you learn about the food and comment on it over the lunch hour. Far from where all of the different cultural delights are? Try using UberEats, which delivers outside of normal Seamless and Caviar zones. Do this just once a week as something to look forward to; it'll be easy to stick to your budget and healthy eating goals too.

2. Feel great on food truck Friday. Back when I lived for the weekend and dreaded Monday on Sunday morning, some co-workers of mine and I instituted 'Food Truck Friday' There was a line of different trucks outside the office and a nice space to eat outside and get fresh air. We’d all get different things and create a mish-mash of food. A bonus, we also got to sit outside in the sun for an hour. Figure out what your 'Food Truck Friday' is and make an adventure of it too!

3. Learn while you lunch. I promise to stop talking about lunch in a second, but food really does bring people together. For this adventure tactic, I’ve found that starting a lunch club (where everyone just brings their own thing, so the focus isn’t actually the food) around a shared interest is a ton of fun. That interest could be professional development or something more personal like your love for photography; either way, plan to talk shop for the full hour. Link up with your HR department for added engagement. This adventure will be a win-win for you and the company you work for.

4. Style (and re-style!) your desk. Love a little visual stimulation? Make over your desk to keep it looking fresh each quarter or season. I got this idea from a store in New York City called Story, where the owner completely reinvents the look and feel of the shop (and what they sell) every four to eight weeks. Bringing this cool concept to your desk will work especially well at creative companies, design firms and startups. So fun!

5. Chat up a stranger. Ultimately, you're responsible for creating your own adventure by designing each moment of your day. Take advantage of the people around you by talking to them when you might normally stay quiet. This could be when you're sitting at the park at your lunch break, or picking up a snack during an afternoon slump. It might even be a co-worker in a different department that you haven't spoken to before. Be bold and ask them to join you on a walk or your next trip to the coffee shop. You'll probably learn something new, and you never know where conversations can lead. I personally like to keep this random as possible and go without an agenda—that way, there's a lot of adventure in it.

If one thing's for sure, it's that there's no shortage of good ideas that can help you infuse adventure into each day you're stuck at your desk. Switching it up doesn’t have to be time consuming or disruptive, and it sure as heck doesn’t have to cost much. Start with these ideas, and I have no doubt you’ll be coming up with your own in no time at all.


About the Author

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Jill Ozovek (CPC, ACC) is a Career Development Advisor based in New York City. She is the host of the Career Passport, not your typical career podcast for thirty-something women hosted on iTunes and has a personal coaching and retreat business, where she takes women to far-flung places both domestic and exotic to consider new career possibilities for themselves. Look out for the first one in Austin, January 2018. In her free time, she enjoys cooking all sorts of crazy things from scratch, traveling without an itinerary, photographer and hanging out with her husband, Aidan.

Connect With Jill: Twitter, Instagram, Facebookjillozovek.com

 

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From the Archives: Pay It Forward Friday

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From the Archives: Pay It Forward Friday

Happy Flashback Friday! We go back to four years ago this week, when Cara met honeymooners, Theresa and Stephen through a flip challenge. As fate (or serendipity!) would have it, their paths continue to cross, and the couple interviewed Cara for their podcast Ownstream

Check out the original story that brought their paths together. Who can you pay it forward to today? 

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Need An Energy Boost? Try the 10-Step Flip Fit Challenge

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Need An Energy Boost? Try the 10-Step Flip Fit Challenge

Ever feel like you’re crushing your career or personal goals but burning the candle at both ends? Working hard to bring your dreams to life can be draining. Though it seems counterintuitive, exercise is actually one of the best ways to fire back up with an energy boost. While working out isn’t always fun, it doesn’t have to be something you dread. To put some pep back in your step, we reached out to Lauren Chiarello from Chi Chi Life to design a Flip Fit Challenge that'll help keep your mind, body and heart healthy.  Read on to start Lauren's 10-step master plan today, wherever you are.

1. Find What Excites You

From walking to classes or something really tough, different forms of exercise work for different people — and you're sure to find something you can excited about. "Try all kinds of workouts until you find something that you love and keep going back so that it becomes your lifestyle," Lauren suggests. "When you start to get antsy, remember that this will energize you and help you lead your best life." 

2. Learn How to Relax

Rest is especially important when it comes to carving out time to move more. Lauren emphasizes patience as a critical part of the challenge, reminding us: "Any change takes time. It can be easy to get overwhelmed or nervous when you start a new habit." She says that she uses Andrew Weil’s The 4-7-8 Breath to manage anxiety and fall asleep. "This method is super effective and I highly recommend it. Here’s how it works: Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight." You've got this.

Photo credit: Alexis Mera Damen

Photo credit: Alexis Mera Damen

3. Seek Inspiration

"I end all of my classes and sessions with a reflective passage or quote," Lauren shares. "I adore Ralph Marston’s The Daily Motivator. He has a special knack for saying the right thing at seemingly the right time. The topics are fairly broad but each nugget of wisdom can be applied to so many aspects of our lives, regardless of what we have going on." Make notes about any that apply to you specifically so you can remember and re-use them as you move forward.

4. Get Outside 

"Commit to taking brisk walks to get the blood flowing; if the sun is shining, a dose of Vitamin D will likely lift your spirits." She says that stepping away for a change of scenery (especially if you've been inside all day) will help bring on a refreshing perspective.

5. Be Passionate

"When you do what sets your soul on fire, people can see that and often want to be a part of whatever you’re up to," Lauren promises. Be passionate about making healthy changes and your friends will feel inspired to join in on the fun!

6. Get Uncomfortable

"We often discover what we’re capable of doing once we become uncomfortable as fear often holds us back," Lauren notes. When it comes to fitness, it's necessary to push past resistance. You might be surprised by what you're able to accomplish, whether it's carving out more time for regular workouts, falling in love with an exercise you wouldn't have dreamed you'd like, or reaching a healthy new milestone, like running further or completing more reps than you ever have before. 

7. Try Something New

"New experiences and uncharted terrain can be terrifying, especially in a group exercise setting," Lauren notes. "So, I remind my students that every expert was once a novice. This is key in helping release expectations, gaining strength and opening up the mind and heart." An important step in the Flip Fit Challenge, Lauren asks you to give yourself the gift of trying something new —be it a healthy recipe or exercise experience. "The possibilities are endless," she swears. 

8. Build A Community

During the challenge, connect with someone else in one of your classes or recruit a friend to join you for a workout. "When you build camaraderie, you'll feed off of each other’s energy," Lauren shares. "If you bring a social component into your exercise schedule and goals, you’ll be more inclined to stay with it." 

9. Stretch More

There are oodles of benefits to stretching. According to Lauren, a few front runners are improved flexibility and joint range of motion, improved circulation, and  better posture. Need another bonus? She tells us that stretching can aid in stress relief and relaxation. Ahh, bliss.

10. Stay Positive

"Everyday is not sunshine and roses, but I firmly believe that attitude is integral to the trajectory of your life," Lauren says. "If you have a positive attitude and get rid of the negative chatter in your mind, you may surprise yourself to see how much magic you attract." Finish your challenge strong by channeling the power of positive thinking and by bringing your post-exercise endorphins into all of the awesome parts of your life.


About the Author

Lauren Chiarello is a 2x cancer survivor NYC-based Barre, Pilates + TRX instructor at exhale + FLEX Studios. Lauren is the founder of Chi Chi Life, which melds her passions of fitness, fundraising,  event planning, and cancer advocacy. Lauren is a lover of life, health and wellness.  She’s endlessly energized to build community and connection through shared experiences. Her favorite flip is to talk to 5 strangers; the conversations are often super insightful and colorful!

Connect With Lauren: Twitter, Instagram, chichilifenyc.com

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Meet the Flip Fam: Fern Olivia

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Meet the Flip Fam: Fern Olivia

Welcome to our Flip Fam blog series, where we interview members of our community who artfully build the spirit of adventure and serendipity into their everyday lives!

This week, we’ll meet Fern Olivia Langham of Venice, CA, Founder of Thyroid Yoga® and Ajai Alchemy, and gather inspiration around how to infuse adventure into the every day, plus her creative tips for getting unstuck from a creative rut.

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Your favorite nickname: ‘The Thyroid Whisperer’ - it’s my calling in life so I feel pretty blessed to have been donned with it!

Secret super-power (that may surprise us!):

Hmmm, it’s the secret power that we all possess - but I’d have to say my intuition! Every single day ‘freaky’ or ‘spooky’ things can happen that make me catch my breath. From getting hints on clients’ diagnoses, only to then get later confirmation through tests + results to thinking about a person and turning the corner only to bump into them. Life is magic! Small intuitive whims amongst the humdrum of everyday activities keep things zesty, that’s for sure.

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to infuse that into your daily life?

I think for me, I apply adventure to my everyday life by saying yes. Yes to things that maybe I’m a little scared of...or where I don't know all of the outcomes. Yes to things that I may have absolutely no control over. But behind it all there’s a gut feeling, and a non-logical excitement, and I’ve come to trust that.

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? (And can you give us an example of how that's come to life for you?)

“What you hold back from life, life will hold back from you.”

If I shy away - quake in my boots - don’t face up to things / it / LIFE, then life will shy away from me, and will hold all back from me. I do truly believe that the Universe is an abundant, all-loving, all-giving force, and that love is at the core of everything.

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck?

Moving energy helps me get unstuck. Dependent upon moment and mood, this might entail lying on my yoga mat, stretching and moving my limbs. Or for something more fiery I might put on a pumped-up playlist and throw my arms around in the air and dance. The physical movement of my body is a surefire way to blast away any blockages.

I also love sweating it out in the infrared sauna or booking a flotation pod session at Pause Float Studio. Becoming buoyant in 1000 pounds of magnesium salts and drifting into a deep meditative state has me emerging 60 minutes later feeling a completely different person.


Has Serenflipity played a role in your life? If you have any examples or stories to expand on, please share!

Serenflipity inspires me to keep travelling, to stay curious, and to fall even more in love with this world and all the beautiful humans in it.

 

Follow Fern’s adventures here!

IG @fernolivia

FB www.facebook.com/yogawithfern

Ajai Alchemy http://www.ajaialchemy.com

 

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Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Talking and Start Doing

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Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You Stop Talking and Start Doing

We were somewhere in the middle of the Grand Tetons, far from any trail, with a backpacking leader who’d suddenly become ill, and who we realized had led us far from our intended route in her gradually-building delirium.

Suddenly, the theory behind wilderness survival became a reality for myself and the three hikers with me. I mustered my best topographic map-reading skills, hiked up to a ridge, and attempted to establish just how far we’d run off course. Turns out, it was really far. With no cell signal and a sick leader, we weren’t going to be able to make it to the next rendezvous point to meet up with the rest of our group by the time the sun went down.

So after making a plan, we started doing. I can’t think of a time when I was more motivated to bring theory to life: we had to make sure our leader’s condition didn’t get worse; construct a temporary shelter; find and purify water; cook a meal using the limited supplies we had; and get to the rendezvous point, stat, the next morning. The story ends positively: we did make it back to did make it back, with our sick colleague back in good health after a night of rest—and I learned that the version of “doing” I had been thrust into would be a huge help to problem solving in my daily life. Here's what I remember each day and how you can apply the same style of thinking to whatever you're working on, be it a new business, personal goal or goal setting.

Motivation follows action (not the other way around)

We often think that mustering enough motivation to accomplish a task is our biggest hurdle. This was certainly the case for a friend of mine in law school. She was a talented student, who’d had a previous career before coming to law school. She often understood complicated concepts that others didn’t. But when it came time to tackle a big task—especially preparing for a final exam—this friend spent a great deal of energy working up the motivation to start. She’d address household tasks, help others, or run errands. All things that needed to be done, but none of which got her closer to her goal.

Getting stuck thinking and talking about a big goal, while not taking any concrete steps towards it, almost guarantees that motivation will falter, not grow. On the other hand, any “small win”—something that gets us incrementally closer to our goal—can have a positive effect, opening the path for more small pieces of progress that will help us reach a larger goal.

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Motivation can be triggered by our surroundings

Our brains love patterns, and our environment is one pattern that we respond to almost unknowingly. Imagine that you’ve set a goal to watch less TV in the evenings so that you can focus on a passion project or side business. Yet, each day when you come home, you’re so exhausted that you head for your favorite spot on the couch, which happens to be near your TV. Willpower is a finite resource, and we don’t have much of it left at the end of the day, so it’s no surprise that you end up flicking on the TV more nights than not.

So how can you move closer to your goal of changing a habit, if talking to yourself about change isn’t enough?

According to author James Clear, making small changes to your environment can have a powerful impact on what you’re able to accomplish. For example, moving that favorite couch so that the most comfortable place to sit is near your computer, desk, or whatever tools you need to get started on that project could have a bigger impact than all the pep-talks you can muster. You've got this!

Talking too much about your intentions can get in the way of action

It might seem counterintuitive, but talking about your big goals and dreams can get in the way of accomplishing them. Though it’s important to have a network of support when striving towards your goals, it turns out that if you come up with a solution or plan of action and discuss it with a trusted friend, that can have the same satisfying effect on your brain as actually doing the task and the hard work it entails.

In other words, your brain reaps a reward from simply making the announcement that you’ve decided on an approach or on a big goal—and sometimes that means you can lose motivation to strive towards that goal.

This definitely doesn’t mean you should silently toil away, never announcing your ambitions to others. Instead, it means you may want to make sure you’re capitalizing on small wins, or concrete steps forward, instead of only relying on the momentum from announcing your goal, to make concrete progress.

Rumination can ruin forward progress

Reflecting on an experience and what you can learn from it is helpful. Ruminating, though, can send you into a downward spiral that doesn’t solve the problem you’re thinking about, instead making you feel worse. 

In order to break away from this destructive self-talk habit, and help our brains refocus, Nicholas Petrie suggests drawing a visual of all the things you can control, along with those you can’t. He advises writing the items you can control within a circle, while placing major stressors you can’t control outside the circle. This act of “doing” can help calm your mind if it’s in an endless cycle you can't seem to stop.

You can also try another concept called 'grounding'. This means making physical contact with an object in order to bring you into the present moment. It can be anything (like a favorite object) that connects you to the world as it is right now. You can even place both of your feet flat on the ground, sit up straight, and take a deep breath as a grounding practice. 


katie-crank

About the Author

Katie Crank is an attorney, social worker, and writer. She helps communities address decarceration, trauma, and the paths that lead women to justice system involvement. Katie also writes on the topics of health, productivity, and dog foster & adoption.

Connect with Katie: Linkedin, Instagram, Contently, Medium

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From the Archives: What I Gained By Giving Things Away

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From the Archives: What I Gained By Giving Things Away

Happy Flashback Friday! We're going back to the original travel stories and experiences that led to the creation of Serenflipity. 

Serenflipity started as Cara's personal project to get unstuck, back in 2013. She convinced 90 people to write 90 adventures for her to complete as she traveled solo through India and Southeast Asia; a friend wrote them into cards, and she flipped a card each day and wrote a blog. Friends and strangers started following along, and one challenged her to turn the project into a product.

Today, we're diving into what happens when you follow give away what you love... and how to spark cycles of generosity and connection. 

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Ikat & Non-Attachment 

 

Originally published on April 2, 2013

Cara Thomas

Today, I gave away what were supposed to become my new favorite pair of pants. Last week, we’d traveled through Kochi, home of fantastic fabrics and speedy tailors. I spied a gorgeous pink ikat print and rushed to bring the fabric and a pant model for the tailor to replicate. A few hours later, I picked up an ill fitting pair of pants. The next day, I returned to get them fitted more narrowly through the leg. I came back to find them fitted much too narrowly through the leg. We added buttons. We tried a different fabric. I looked like Aladdin meets Chicos. These custom-made pants were becoming quite the energy-zapper and were definitely not a positive indicator for a future career in fashion design.

After stitching, sewing, recutting and redirecting, I gave up and figured that maybe after carrying them for a few weeks, they’d magically morph into the pants of my dreams, and I’d be taking many a tourist photo in my chic new Indian custom-made pants (if only the pants or my body would change!)

Yesterday, on the way to the beach, I struck up a conversation on textiles, jewelry and design with Malwina, a chic Polish yogi who’s a costume and fashion designer. If these pants were to ever be wearable, she would definitely be the one to give them the sleek boho-chic life they deserved. My intention was sealed after this morning’s yoga session on non-attachment: I knew it was time to become non-attached to this pair of pants that, as much as I loved the idea of, weren’t working for me… And were adding weight to my backpack.

I figured that giving away my pink pants to her would result in that old-pat-on-the-back feeling and I’d walk away knowing that these pants I’d labored over would potentially have a good home. After the pant exchange and more conversation on fabrics, she invited me to join her at a local scarf-seller’s home where she was going to look at hand-made fabrics. I never say no to a local adventure, so off we went to Camille’s home to peruse her wares, which are intricately beaded, mirrored and stitched fabrics, resulting in incredible skirts and tops. Apparently, these are wedding dresses, and the one that she’s wearing (below) was made by her sisters and aunts for her own wedding years ago. Her husband has since passed away, so she wears it in his memory, and continues to design new dresses during the monsoon season as homage.

It’s amazing how much I got back from giving something away. In return for gifting that pair of pants, I made an awesome new friend, got to experience a talented local woman’s craft and spend time in her home, and even got a little ankle bracelet as a thank you. “You get back what you give out,” Malwina, looking super chic in her pink ikat pants, told me as she tied on my new ankle bracelet.

So I’m attempting to move into non-attachment mode. Maybe it’s the detox, the local wares that I don’t have room for, or living on confined means. My backpack is becoming a bit like a life metaphor: by lugging around items that I don’t need, but am attached to for one reason or another, I block myself from acquiring new things and experiences. I don’t have capacity for anything new or different. I’m stuffed (literally) with my old ways. But for every thing I let go (physically, mentally, emotionally), I open up space for something new to fill that void… And today I’m reminded that it always comes back in great, unexpected ways.

Thanks to my mom for the great challenge to buy something and give it to someone else!

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4 Realizations That Gave Me the Courage to Make a Career Change

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4 Realizations That Gave Me the Courage to Make a Career Change

I worked eight jobs in the first ten years of my career. I was caught in an endless cycle, always searching for a job that excited and challenged me more than my current one. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to seek improvement for myself, and so I found myself always seeking something better and more fulfilling.

No matter how cool the company was, I was never happy in my job.

On paper, some of the positions I held seemed like dream jobs for me. Music is a huge part of my life, and my first internship was at a record label. I’ve loved beauty products for my whole life, so working in the beauty industry seemed like it was a dream come true. Working great jobs at coveted places made me feel like I should be happy, especially since I was good at what I did. The same went for my jobs producing nonprofit events and handling marketing for health and wellness brands; I excelled in these capacities, and each time, everyone assumed that I’d finally found the perfect job for me.

In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur—but I wasn’t sure what my business would look like or where I would fit in. That all changed when I found a career coach. As we worked together, I thought to myself, “How can I do her job?” Being a connector, supporter, and cheerleader for all my friends (and their friends!) felt like a part of my DNA. I couldn’t turn this part of myself off. It made perfect sense to make coaching my business.

I realized that coaching was something I’d been doing naturally all my life.

By that point in my journey, finding the courage to make a career switch was the easiest part. I felt energized and thrilled by the thought of a career that was fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re feeling like I was feeling, here are a few of the realizations I had that helped push me to make a big career switch:

1. I like doing things my own way. Becoming an entrepreneur meant that I could leave my traditional roles behind and decide how I wanted to structure my business, what kinds of clients I wanted to take on, and how I wanted to design my lifestyle. None of these things were possible in my previous jobs. I experienced a big health scare in 2012, which resulted in me having surgery to remove a quarter of my right lung. After the surgery, I knew that my health and well-being needed to be a priority in my life. As an entrepreneur, I’m able to carve out time for self-care, which helps me to be more productive when I’m working. Changing careers made a new lifestyle possible.

2. I wanted to do work that mattered to me. I had quickly realized that a dream job doesn’t always equate to fulfilling work. I had always thought that working at a beauty company would be perfect for me, but I ended up hating the industry. Not only did not I not find the work rewarding, I didn’t identify with the values of the workplace. As I moved into working with nonprofits, I felt more connected to the missions of the organizations, but I still wasn’t happy with the overall role I was playing. Now, with my clients, I work with them to find jobs and careers that will light them up, and make them excited to go to work every day. That’s the feeling I was seeking when I made the switch to entrepreneurship, and it’s incredibly rewarding to me to help others navigate through their own career transitions.

3. I could work less but earn more. A 9-to-5 job can quickly take over your life. Sometimes, 9 to 5 is a low estimate of the time really needed to accomplish the job’s responsibilities. I realized that I could actually make more money working independently, and I would also be able to work smarter. I wouldn’t always have to work long days, and when I did, I would be doing so for the benefit of my own business. For me, it was a smart financial move to start working independently, even though it was scary at first. And it was a smart move for my happiness, too. Being able to choose the clients and projects I take on is one of the best parts of my job, and I’ve been lucky to work with people who are really excited to do the work that comes with coaching. Like I was, they’re ready for a change.

4. I realized that listening to myself was most important. It was freeing to realize that I didn’t need to choose a career based on what other people thought. Yes, I had strengths in the areas of marketing, event production and social media, but I had other strengths too. Once I started listening to myself, I realized that being a coach was what I wanted to do more than anything else. As it turned out, once I launched my business, friends and family then told me what a perfect fit it was for me. But if I hadn’t listened to myself, I would never have found the opportunity to find the career that I truly love.
 


About the Author

Harper Spero is a New York City-based business and career transition coach who has found a way to successfully integrate passion with purpose. Harper specializes in helping aspiring and current entrepreneurs break free from toxic environments, create tactical plans for growth, and navigate their careers to bring balance, fulfillment and structure to their lives. Using a mix of customized tools and hands-on techniques in her one-on-one coaching programs, Harper coaches clients to get out of their comfort zones and to do the things that light them up, creating freedom, flexibility and joy.

Connect with Harper: TwitterInstagramharperspero.com

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Meet The Flip Fam: Cal Fussman

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Meet The Flip Fam: Cal Fussman

Today, we’re interviewing the master of interviews, Cal Fussman, an acclaimed writer for Esquire and speaker around the globe. If you haven’t heard his story before, be sure to check out his two interviews on The Tim Ferriss Show.

Born in Brooklyn, Cal spent ten straight years traveling the world, swimming over 18-foot tiger sharks, rolling around with mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and searching for gold in the Amazon. He boxed against then-undefeated world champion Julio Cesar Chavez, won a James Beard award and served as sommelier atop the World Trade Center. He now lives with his wife—whom he met while on his quest to discover the world’s most beautiful beach—and his three children in Los Angeles, where he spends every morning eating breakfast with Larry King.

He tells us about his life-long commitment to adventure, how to approach every day as an opportunity to embrace the unknown and how to make the office a more serenflipitous place.


What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The greatest gift that we get is waking up. So, I get up looking for the gift!

 

What does adventure mean to you and why do you think it’s important?

Adventure means waking up in the morning and not knowing what’s going to happen. When I traveled for 10 years, that was my choice - I’d wake up not knowing who I was going to meet, where I’d be sleeping that night, what I’d be eating that day, or which situation I’d be stumbling into.

And, after ten years of that, I ended up meeting the love of my life, which meant the end of that trip, and the start of a whole new adventure. After I married, had 3 kids, got a cat, a dog, and so on, I still didn’t feel like the adventuring was over.

No matter whether you’re at home or living on the road, adventure is about new experiences, and when you have kids, you come to rely on the growth of your children for new experiences. You get to relive something spectacular and truly enjoy it - even just watching your 3 year old eat an ice cream for the first time.

As the kids have grown up, I go on to create new adventures, like training under the world’s top sommelier. And now, I’m speaking all over the world...and that’s a whole new career for me. There’s really no sameness to my life.

I’ve gotten to come back to myself in a way...I can feel my 20’s reawakening all over again and I can’t wait!

 

Do you think that people have to learn to be adventurous or are some people just born that way?

Well, as I just recently learned at a Tony Robbins conference, there are two types of people: those who need certainty and those that don’t. If you’re the kind of person that has to be in an office every day at a specific time, then you have to figure out a way to bring the element of uncertainty into your life.

But then, for someone like me, I have to actively look for certainty in order to be able to put three kids through college!  

 

What’s your go-to way to get unstuck?

I visualize the other side. I look beyond, I look up, I repeat a mantra: “If you can separate yourself from the perceived pain, you won’t feel the pain!” If you can see challenges as opportunities...then you’re looking positively at that situation, and you’re probably going to get that positivity right back.

 

What advice would you have for people who have a tough time getting out of their comfort zone?

Simply visualize where you want to go beyond your comfort zone; identify the fears that are holding you back, what it would be like without them...and then go there!

 

How do you Serenflip?

I’ve started doing corporate keynotes on the power of curiosity, and I invented a “corporate poker game” using Serenflipity cards as a group exercise to help employees step outside of their comfort zones.

It works like this:

After sharing stories of people I’ve interviewed over the years, and tales of how they’ve pushed themselves or society in their own unique, positive ways, I pair up the attendees.

I ask them to discuss two questions with each other: “What was a time where you had to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and what was accomplished by it?” and “What would you do if fear wasn’t in the way?”

Now that they have a better understanding of each other, I ask everyone to take out their deck of Serenflipity cards. Each person has to pick 3 cards for their partner to help them get out of their comfort zone and overcome what holds them back. It’s wonderful to see how invested everyone is in this -- almost agonizing over which cards to give his or her partner.

What the employees don’t know is that their executive team has pre-ranked each of the cards based on perceived difficulty. We reveal the ranking to the audience, and have them score their hand based on which 3 cards were given to them.

Out of a total pool of 30 points, we had two winners clock in with 27 points each. And they get extra points if they actually complete the adventures after the conference.

Everyone walks out of the room learning a bit more about how to interview, how to share themselves, how to take in information to push them to higher ground, and how to make strategic decisions for someone else in a very purposeful, connected way.

 

Learn some more and follow Cal’s adventures here!

http://www.calfussman.com

Twitter: @calfussman

IG: @calfussman

 

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From The Archives: Getting Available for Adventure

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From The Archives: Getting Available for Adventure

Happy Flashback Friday! We're going back to the original travel stories and experiences that led to the creation of Serenflipity. Today, we're heading back to Myanmar, and diving into what happens when you follow your heart's desire... and how to get available for adventure every day. 

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Meet The Flip Fam: Nonee Kay

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Meet The Flip Fam: Nonee Kay

Welcome to our Flip Fam blog series, where we interview members of our community who artfully build the spirit of adventure and serendipity into their everyday lives!


Kicking off our series is the magical Nonee Kay of Glendale, CA, a special events pro with Kay12 Catering and community gathering guru. We had the pleasure of interviewing Nonee in her family-run artist compound called “Theatre13”, where she shared nuggets of inspiration, adventure, and creative tips for getting unstuck.

Nonee

Your favorite nickname:

Well, my name is short for Antigone, the storybook princess said to be one of the first activists of love (she’s a character from a Sophocles novel). So, technically, I was born with a nickname.

 

What’s your role in the Kay sibling business?

My position is all about bringing people together and building community, and I get to orchestrate celebrations for people and feed them delicious things! My brother and I say “what we do is the anti-war”. We use events as an outlet to remind everyone that life is meant to be lived, and that the best moments of your life should be celebrated.

(Fun fact: When I was younger, I never thought I would be working with my family...I actually thought I’d be a nun to ensure my seat in Heaven! Not sure if I’m still getting one of those!)

 

What’s your go-to zen spot in LA?

I started a hiking group called “The Air Humping Hikers”. Every Wednesday (HUMP day) morning, we’ll pick a trail (I like them all!), start off with a meditation and set an intention, and at the top, dance our asses off to a new song. We tape it to broadcast to others that even Wednesdays can become the best day of the week, as long as you do something incredible with it.

 

What’s your most beloved travel destination?

Anywhere I’ve never been!

 

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to infuse it into your daily life?

For me, adventure is anything that gets my adrenaline pumping, and more often than not, something I haven’t done before. I do my best to put myself out there, jump out of my comfort zone, and maybe even surprise myself. Especially any time I can meet someone new, that’s always going to spark a new experience for me.

 

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck?

If I’m having a day that feels too “normal”, I will get back to a book that I haven’t finished (usually non-fiction that’s going to give me new tools and skills) or listen to a TED talk that I’ve had bookmarked for months.

Doing either of those things always makes me think of other people who I then want to reach out to — sometimes it’s direct, as in the writer of an article I’ve read, the consulate general of a country I really want to visit, or, in the case of Serenflipity, reaching out to Cara when I first bought the deck of cards (when she was still in beta!).

In essence, I get unstuck when I realize that the life I’m living isn’t just the city I’m in and the community I have - I can to reach out to anyone, wherever they live and whoever they are. Then, the planet feels a whole lot smaller and far more accessible.  

 

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? (And can you give us an example of how that's come to life for you?)

“I am healthy, I am well, I am here and I am now”. We have to remember: we all came into the world already as winners - we started as sperm, we swam the fastest through a tube, we held on the strongest to an egg, we managed to survive in a little room shooting foreign objects our way, and then we were born. We’re walking on a planet amongst winners. It’s that reminder that humbles me and helps me realize that no matter how much I screw up in one day, I started as a winner and I can always go back to being one.

 

What’s a piece advice you have to someone who is resistant to adventure or to doing something different?

There’s really no reason not to go out and try something new. We create these comfort zones in our heads — if we step too far away, we know our way back. Once we become aware that these places could put a halt to our soul’s growth, we are more inclined to step out of them. Everyone gets a little nervous to try something new at first, but isn't that feeling of nerves even a little bit exhilarating?

 

How do you Serenflip?

I use the cards not only to instigate adventure on my own, but for others, as well. I love that moment when you surprise a stranger by buying them a cup of coffee and watching them get taken aback by a random act of kindness. We all have lost a bit of faith in humanity, so I Serenflip to bring that trust back and do more good for people. We all want to feel loved, so why don’t we spread some more of that good s**t?

And, it doesn’t even need to be about flipping a card every day, but rather shifting my awareness and thinking on a much bigger level...to be open, willing and curious.

 

What do you think about adventure potentially being the next meditation (and what could the benefits be)?

Look, we all do things to help us feel better. Some of us meditate to reduce stress and anxiety, others go for a run, some of us crazies go out into the street and silly string strangers because a (Serenflipity) card told us to “instigate fun”. Whatever you can do to become the best version of yourself, while hopefully helping others do the same, should be the “new great thing” to do to feel amazing. :]

 

Follow Nonee’s adventures here! 

@noneekay + @airhumpinghikers + @vertigoeventvenue

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How to make magic happen anywhere...

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How to make magic happen anywhere...

Over the past few months, we've been experimenting with a new idea -- a brunch adventure series called Serenflipity Saturdays. While getting out of your comfort zone is fun solo, we think it can be more fun together. 

Our most recent event was themed around March Magic, and our thirty attendees had 30 minutes to make magic happen for someone. So out we went, in groups of three, onto the streets of Venice to connect with each other and strangers and to see what we could create. 

One group started a game of "Trade Up" with a measuring tape they found on the ground; they met a group of women who had just come from an eating disorder walk and traded their measuring tape for affirmation cards. This group of women definitely took note of the symbolism of the trade, and the power of personal affirmation and positive self-work to trump physical measurement metrics. (A serenflipitous encounter indeed!) The trading up continued, and the artifacts that the team returned (Gjusta jam for one!) which were definitely envy-inducing! 

Another group treated a child to ice cream, and shared back that even more than the act of purchasing a gift for someone, the connection that was created with the boy and his father was most impactful. "I felt like I showed this little boy something positive -- and hopefully he'll remember that and want to do that for others. Small acts can lead to big, positive impacts," Tara shared. 

And yet another group spent time in the homeless encampment a block down. They received a note that says "stay positive," a stone that represents the magic of nature, a dollar, and a special, legal-in-LA surprise. "The big lesson for me today is that the magic I received from real connection from acknowledging others as humans and the power of love and acknowledgement," Aviva shared. 

Another group shared about the simple power of a smile in creating magic for another. "We walked by a cafe filled with people eating together and see this guy sitting all alone with his phone in front of him — and I knew I had to make magic for him. I decided I had to make him smile — so I walked straight up to him and did it! He was so grateful and mentioned how simple it can be to brighten someone up. So I asked him, 'are you gonna do it for someone else?' and he said, 'yes, of course!'" 

There are so many more stories, and the impact that compounds after these experiences continues to remind me that at the end of the day, we all want to connect and meet each other on a real level — beyond titles and formalities, but down to the human essence of who we are. And it can be as simple as a smile, words of acknowledgement, or purchasing a treat for someone. 

As we discovered together, kindness is magic. 

Enjoy some of the photos below! 

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Check Us Out At The White House!

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Check Us Out At The White House!

Can you spot the SERENFLIPITY? Super psyched to have been a part of these amazing gift bags for the White House Correspondents Dinner and the Time 100 Gala.

It boggles my mind to think that just a few years ago this was a crazy personal project to get unstuck.

Then it was a side hustle that I dreamed about becoming a full time thing, and chiseled away at, at all hours while living in Asia. Then I had some serious personal setbacks, as many of you know.

Now, it's in places I would never have imagined (even a few months ago), and growing into a real business, day by day.

My dad shared this gem yesterday: "All I can say is: pursue the path you have chosen with ever-increasing confidence, and conviction that the outcomes will not only be surprising but lead you to people and places you never dreamed of. Life is a voyage of discovery so set full sail to savor its delights."

Thank you guys for the fantastic support!

With love,

Cara

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How 7 Strangers Got SERENFLIPITY Into Beyonce's Hands

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How 7 Strangers Got SERENFLIPITY Into Beyonce's Hands

Last week, 850 SERENFLIPITIES got shipped to some serious A-list galas. A few challenges ensued -- to say the least! But with the help of strangers on platforms like Facebook, Uber and SHYP, it takes a little resilience, vulnerability and creativity to make almost anything happen. (And some good snacks!)

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How I Serenflipped My Way Out of a Brush With the Law

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How I Serenflipped My Way Out of a Brush With the Law

Tonight, SERENFLIPITY got me out of a ticket.

I was driving home from a long session shooting videos, and may have crossed over a divider a few seconds too late. Before I knew it, blaring lights and sirens were following me, shouting to get off at the next exit.

Crap. My first moving violation. Ever.

I pulled over, shaking and a bit nervous. Was I to play the tearful and helpless girl? Pretend I didn’t know what happened? I’m not a fan of using my femininity to get out of situations, so I decided to just be straight-forward and apologize.

I rolled down the window, and two cops towered over me, demanding the usual protocol that I’ve seen in movies.

“What do you do?” the cop asked me, as he looked at my license.

“I’m an entrepreneur,” I responded, figuring that was pretty safe.

“What do you create? Is it secret?” the other cop asked snidely.

“Well, I created these adventure cards that help you have more fun and serendipity in your life.” I responded, a little wary of how that would go over with two serious cops about to smack a fine on me. After all, fun and adventure aren’t the things you want to bring up with a cop who’s just pulled you over…

“No way…” the first cop lit up, as he responded. “Like what kind of adventures?”

“Here, I’ll show you… You guys can even pick a card to do.” I held out the deck to the two towering gentleman standing over me on a random exit in downtown LA.

They leafed through and started smiling.

“You better get on Shark Tank with this!” the first officer exclaimed. “Look, I have to find the oldest person I can and do something nice for them. It won’t be hard to find old guys back at the office!”

“Yeah, I wish people were nicer and did nice things for us. We’re not bad people,” the second officer joked as he flipped his card. “Hey — I have to buy the person behind me in line a coffee…”

“Well, you better stand behind him when you go get coffee,” I suggested to the first officer, and we all laughed.

“Listen,” the first cop got serious again. “You get yourself on TV with these cards and we’ll call this a warning. But I better see you on Shark Tank – deal? I’m gonna hold onto this card!”

Deal. Thank you, LAPD for the vote of confidence in my start up, and reminding me that simple acts of human connection and kindness can make even the most annoying situations into something serendipitous and positive. And for giving me a whole new edition to build: SERENFLIPITY for the glove compartment!

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Five Steps To Turn Serendipity Into Your Superpower

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Five Steps To Turn Serendipity Into Your Superpower

Serendipity is an under-rated thing. It gets a bad rap as haphazard luck or a happy coincidence. A pleasant surprise that uplifts us from our usual routine. A random encounter where the stars aligned. A fleeting moment that comes out of the blue, only to disappear.

But serendipity is not a “thing.” Or an “accident.” Or a “random encounter.” Or just a cute John Cusack movie. It’s actually a skillset – and it’s something that can make us smarter, happier and more connected.

When it comes to serendipity, there’s a whole new field of interdisciplinary research emerging, and studies segment people into “non-encounterers”, “occasional encounterers” who stumble upon serendipity now and then, and “super encounterers” who constantly see happy surprises in even the most mundane of situations.

I’ve become what researchers would call a “super-encounterer”, not because I’m lucky, but because I’ve built my serendipity superpowers over the years. These are definitely not skills I studied in any classroom, but rather gleaned through experience, many of which involve solo travel and times of personal growth. Both of these types of experiences forced me to let go of behaviors and beliefs that blocked me from letting in new things.

But you don’t have to travel far and wide or go on a soul-search to discovery your serendipity superpowers. It’s often as simple as changing what you see, where you go and how you show up.

Here are my top five tips for turning yourself into a serendipity superstar:

1. Believe you are surrounded by serendipity – and expect it every day. One of the first steps to attracting more serendipity is to actually believe that you are surrounded by it. Consider it selective attention – like when you’re pregnant, you start to see baby bumps everywhere. Or when you’re stressed out, you start to see more annoyances and blocks everywhere.

What we see is what we get – and if we choose to focus on a recent serendipitous moment, and look to see at least one of those moments each day, we start to attract more serendipity, and will find it popping up all the time.

One of my favorite ways to build this skill is to keep a journal of “random” things that happen each day – mine include everything from running into someone, to little phrases or sayings that pop out (a recent favorite was when I was having a "founder's moment" and got cut off by a giant truck with “THE PROFIT IS COMING” written on the side), to texts of the “woah, I was just thinking about you!” ilk. The dots connect over time, and I am always amazed when I look back.

Bottom line – believe you’re surrounded by it. Look for it. Write it down. Get more of it.

 

2. Celebrate the unknown, the incorrect and the idiotic. Many of the greatest discoveries come from accidents and failures. It’s easy to write off something that didn’t work, blame someone, and move quickly onto the next – but the biggest “aha’s” come from diving into the failures and actually having fun with them, instead of trying to find the next success right away.

Being in a state of “I don’t know” is one of the most powerful places we can be. I once worked for a guy who would respond to my pressing questions with a thoughtful, “yeah, I don’t know.” I was shocked – I figured someone with a higher authority was paid to “know”, but he taught me the importance of “not knowing.” Of collecting information, asking a ton of questions, exploring all the angles and then coming to a decision.

Not knowing can be incredibly uncomfortable, especially to this A-type New Yorker. But actually enjoying the state of “not knowing” is where serendipity finds me. Some of the best ideas I’ve built with clients have come out of jokes, and even going so far as to exploring the absolute “worst” idea we could ever have. We fell about laughing, one upping each other with horrifying add-ons – until someone had a spark and found a nugget of inspiration that led us into the creation of an award winning product. Some of the greatest personal experiences have come from literally not knowing what country I was going to next, and leaving my plans open to the travel gods. In fact, it started a decision making pattern, where I decided to not know, and to do the first thing that was mentioned 3 times by 3 different people. I was never led astray, but rather into incredible encounters and the exact situation I needed to grow.

 

3. Do the uncomfortable. It’s easy to turn down an invitation in favor of staying home to watch Netflix on the couch with takeout – but magic doesn’t happen when we’re cracked out on Narcos and Lo Mein. (Well sometimes it does, and I guess that’s what Tinder is for, but that’s another article…)

Say yes to what’s in front of you, especially that uncomfortable invitation. It’s there for a reason. The less you want to go, the more magic is bound to happen. And seriously, if you want to get a super dose of serendipity, go alone. That’s right – go to a party alone. Without a wingman. And if you don’t have an invitation to turn down, take yourself out to dinner (and don’t stare at your phone the whole time.)

Every time I’ve forced myself out of my comfort zone, I’ve had to surrender to what’s in front of me, and I’ve had to get curious. It means making conversation with strangers instead of standing by the cheese plate rehashing my day with a friend. It means staying five minutes longer than I want to, and sometimes hiding out in the bathroom for a few minutes when it feels like too much – and then falling into conversation with a handsome stranger. It means getting lost in a foreign country and stumbling across a beautiful village and into a heartfelt conversation.

Or it simply means opening myself up and into the positive potential of a new experience – instead of closing myself into what I already know. A few years ago, I felt creatively stuck and decided to spend 90 days traveling solo through India and Southeast Asia, following adventures my friends wrote for me instead of a guidebook. I was terrified. But the more I got into the habit of saying “yes” to the adventure in front of me, I started to open up in a new way and incredible things started to happen. (Fast forward to two years later, it’s become the foundation of my business, a product designed to foster adventure and serendipity every day… who would have known?)

Learning to trust, and being willing to be vulnerable is scary, but it’s also where we get out of ourselves and into the magic.

 

4. Say “thank you.” There are tons of studies and life-hacks around the life-changing effects of gratitude, and for good reason. Shanti-shanti as it may sound, it shifts our outlook and our energy, and attracts more positive things to come our way.

Saying thank you (whether to “the universe,” God, the person sitting next to you, or to the highway as you drive to work) for the little nods and coincidences is just as important as saying “thank you” for the promotion or the clean bill of health. It’s easy to get into the mentality of “well, he was perfect, except for…” or “the job seems great, but…” – simply acknowledge that something serendipitous just came your way and take it as a sign that more good things are on the way. “Thank you” is essentially a prayer that says, “that was awesome, I really dug it, and please bring me more.”

I’ve built this skill by writing a gratitude list each morning, and even putting little reminders in my phone to take 30 seconds and think of 3 things I’m grateful for. The real game changer has come in the past month in finding things I’m grateful for in really annoying situations.

Take a recent travel plan: my flight was 6 hours delayed on New Years Eve and then I couldn’t find the place I was staying once I arrived. To offset the irritation, I practiced finding a few “thank yous”, which included being able to go to my favorite yoga class that morning (instead of sitting in the airport), having an interesting conversation with an Uber driver who introduced me to a videographer, making time for a conversation with a friend in the airport, arriving in town just in time for dinner (and getting picked up straight from the airport as a result), being with friends who put me up for the night when I was lost, etc. Really cool connections and opportunities have been happening as a result.

The “thank yous” seem to build resilience to get out of a negative mindset, which only clouds me in my worries and prevents me from seeing the bigger picture – or what great things are in front of me. Taking a minute to find a moment of gratitude shifts me back into being in the unknown – which is where there’s space for serendipity to come in.

 

5. Share it to grow it. Serendipity isn’t a “thing” or even an “action” – it’s a flow that we get into. And it does take work – sometimes it’s as simple as leaving the house with a good attitude and talking to someone, or picking up the phone and listening (and really listening, not Facebooking and listening), in order to dive into what can seem like a consistent stream of unbelievable encounters.

Note that many of these experiences are encounters – which means that they involve other people. We multiply our magic by sharing it with others – whether it’s saying what we’re looking for, or helping others fulfill what they’re looking for. And sometimes serendipity comes from something as simple as a status update and discovering that you’re in the same country as an old friend. A big part of Serenflipity is asking people to share those serendipitous experiences on social media for just that reason – to foster more connections, to share cool experiences that uplift others (and potentially bring serendipity to them), and to encourage an environment of experimentation. Because we all need a little push to peel away from our habits.

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So, it’s that time of the year where we might be faltering on our New Year's Resolutions and about to dive back into old habits. Instead, I invite you to dive into bringing more serendipity into your life.

All you have to do is decide to see yourself as a serendipity super-magnet, have fun not knowing the answer, go to parties alone, say thank you, and share it with others. No calorie counting or guilt-tripping necessary!

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for bringing more serendipity into your life – please share below!

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