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Adventure

Meet the Flip Fam: Jen Glantz

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Meet the Flip Fam: Jen Glantz

Happy Flip Fam Friday! On Fridays, we profile members of our community who artfully build the spirit of serendipity into their daily lives.

This week, we’ll meet Jen Glantz, author, creator of Bridesmaid for Hire, and founder of the podcast You’re Not Getting Any Younger.

Her adventurous spirit has sparked an experiment to live in a different city every month. Check out how Jen infuses discovery into her daily life, the power of pizza, and why adventure is good for romance.

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Your favorite nickname: Jenny

Where were you born? Deerfield Beach, Florida

Where do you live now? In a new city every month!

What’s your profession or calling? The founder of the viral business, Bridesmaid for Hire, the creator of the blog, The Things I Learned From, the voice of the podcast, You're Not Getting Any Younger, and the author of the Amazon-bestselling books, All My Friends are Engaged, &  Always a Bridesmaid for Hire, published by Simon and Schuster. 

What’s your go-to local zen spot? The nearest pizza place. I like to head take myself out for a slice, put some good music in my ears, and take some soothing breaths.

What’s your most beloved travel destination? Venice Beach, CA.

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to infuse that into your daily life? Long walks with no destination in mind. I try to head outside for 45 minutes and see where my feet take me.

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? Never give up. I repeat it again and again! When I went to publish my second book, it was denied 20-something times before a publisher finally said yes. I just keep pushing forward and not giving up!

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck? Loud music and dancing around my apartment.

What's an experience in your life that changed who you thought you were? Last August, I sold 90% of my belongings and began living in a new city every month. I only travel with one suitcase. This adventure has changed who I thought I was and made me more of a down to earth and "go with the flow" kind of person!

Has Serenflipity played a role in your life? It's the greatest thing to do for date night. I've been dating my boyfriend for 2.5 years and Serenflipity helps keep our time together fresh and fun.  

Follow Jen’s adventures: @jenglantz

 

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Meet the Flip Fam: Janette Valenzo

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Meet the Flip Fam: Janette Valenzo

Happy Flip Fam Friday! On Fridays, we profile members of our community who artfully build the spirit of serendipity into their daily lives.

This week, we’ll meet Janette Valenzo an adventurer extraordinaire in Los Angeles. Check out how Janette infuses discovery into her daily life, how she tackles tough emotions, and why adventure makes life worth living.... 

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Name: Janette Valenzo

Your favorite nickname: Jan or JanJan the Peanut Butter Man

Where were you born? Los Angeles

Where do you live now? Rancho Cucamonga

What’s your profession or calling? Actor/Teaching Artist

What’s a secret power that you have (that may surprise us!): I have as close as possible to a photographic memory without actually having a photographic memory, so I guess just a really good memory, especially with faces.

I tell people my memory isn't that good only because this secret power gets me in awkward situations when I remember people, but they don't remember me... oh well!

What’s your go-to local zen spot? James Turrell's "Skyspace" in Claremont, while drinking a matcha latte from this local coffee shop called, "Sanctuary Coffee" coincidentally.

What’s your most beloved travel destination? There was something about Belgium that I loved. From walking around until my feet could not take another step to eating waffles for every meal, I would drop everything to go back. I loved it and felt truly alive there with no one knowing me and me knowing nothing.

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to infuse that into your daily life? Since I can remember finding a way to make my life almost movie-like has kept me interested in life. As someone who has depression, adventure has been the only way I can get myself going. It can be small by checking out a new restaurant nearby or taking a new path to walk in the evenings. I try to give myself little adventures to tackle, because it makes my life worth living.

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? "It's okay to not be okay." I don't know who told me that, or where I heard it, but the minute I did, it gave me the permission to stop trying to be perfect all the time and to accept when things seem impossible. When my father passed, I did my best to hold everything in (as the oldest child, I had to majorly step up). I didn't allow myself to be anything but perfect, and then one day, about two months later, I was on my bathroom floor and couldn't move. I had been smoking cigarettes and feeling super guilty (my father died from cancer), and I had been telling my sister that it was okay for HER to not be okay. Hypocrisy at its finest. I started crying and crying, until I fell asleep (no worries! the cigarette was out!). I woke up and accepted that I was only human and grieving was a part of that experience. It's okay to not be okay.

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck? I travel. Whether it is one hour away or in a different time zone, I get moving. I force myself to get lost. Being physically lost gets my mind working again.

Has Serenflipity played a role in your life? So, being that travel is my go-to thing to get unstuck, I couldn't get unstuck for some of the summer since work kept me near home for the majority of the month of July. I had bought the game for my birthday a while back, but was saving it for a time that I needed some shaking up.

Despite most folks thinking I am an extrovert, I am pretty quiet and shy when it comes to speaking to people. Some of the cards had me asking people about their likes, the beliefs, and really I felt like nothing was off limits. I even went to Disneyland alone! I had always wanted to do that, but also felt it would be weird and I would just be on my phone the whole time. Thankfully, halfway through, my family showed up!

Still, to be at Disneyland for at least seven hours alone and not losing myself in my phone but actually speaking to strangers? Well, that was amazing to conquer. I also learned to how embrace my awkwardness and give myself a bit of love in the process. 

Follow Janette’s adventures on Instagram: @janettevalenzo, and check out her 30 days of getting out of her comfort zone!  

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7 Dreamy Destinations That'll Relax Your Body and Mind

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7 Dreamy Destinations That'll Relax Your Body and Mind

A nutritionist, author and traveler dedicated to merging ancient healing wisdoms with modern western nutritional science, most of the wisdom I’ve learned has been in the field while studying alongside Ayurvedic doctors, Balinese bone healers, Shamans, herbalists and other specialists in from spots that range from South America to Asia. I credit a few special destinations with making a deep impact on my work, each of them perfect for relaxing your body and mind — making it easier to invite more serendipity into your life. 

1. Ubud, Bali. If you’re on your own personal Eat, Pray, Love journey, Ubud is for you! This central Balinese city is a healers paradise, and the place I wrote my first book, Eat Right For Your Mind-Body Type. A typical day in Ubud is full of back-to-back vinyasa and yin yoga classes at the Yoga Barn, a delicious vegan brunch complete with a coconut the size of your head, an afternoon of creative writing, followed by your choice between Vedic astrology or conscious relationships workshops, completed with a night of sweaty ecstatic dance, a grounding sound bath and more fresh vegan cuisine. We call it Ubudtopia for a reason; mind-body healing is your full-time job in this paradise. 

2. Chiang Mai, Thailand. If ceremony and reflection are what you're craving, Chiang Mai is your place. You'll come face to face with an ornate temple dazzled with jewels in honor of the Buddha on each corner you turn. Ceremony is an integral part of everyday life in Chiang Mai, and you'll definitely walk into one at some point in your stay (especially if you live with a local Thai family like I did). Don't forget to visit the Sunday market for fresh fruit, elephant and Buddha souvenirs, along with a pair of oh-so-comfy Thai fisher man pants! 

3. Mykonos, Greece. This refreshing white and blue island feels as crisp as it looks (and it's the place I'm writing to you from). The deep ocean views stare back at you wherever you are, whether you're relaxing by the infinity pool, practicing your daily yoga flow, or indulging in an authentic Greek breakfast of fresh yogurt, honey comb, walnuts and figs. Mykonos is the perfect place to pamper yourself and let loose — all while having fun at one of the many beach lounges without the pretentious feel of south of France. 

4. Formentera, Spain. This off-the-beaten path island is the quiet sister of Ibiza, with private beaches and to-die-for restaurants operated by some of Italy's best restaurateurs. Fun fact: More people speak Italian here than Spanish. Formentera is referred to as "la isla azul" because you'll be surrounded by turquoise blue waters that match a Tiffany’s box no matter where you go on this small strip of land. Love a little bit of luxe on a relaxing, serendipitous trip? With it's harbor full of yachts, Formentera is for you.

5. Cusco, Peru. The city closest to the world-famous Macchu Pichu, Cusco is a spiritual mecca for anyone who needs a more grounded and shamanic approach to spirituality — Ayahuasca optional. Cusco's mountainous climate and ancient Incan ruins are ideal for the more adventurous traveler who loves a bit of historical depth in their journey of self-discovery, and doesn't mind a bit of altitude acclimation (the city is a jaw-dropping 11,000 feet above sea level). Even more, there are many orphanages in Cusco that are open to receiving help, which will truly complete your experience and remains the highlight of mine. 

 6. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Costa Rica is a top travel spot, but far fewer people venture to its neighbor country, Nicaragua. An up and coming hotspot, a trip typically costs a fraction of the price you'll pay to get to Costa Rica. San Juan del Sur is the most southern tip of Nicaragua and a total oasis in this country, offering rustic architecture, beachside sunsets and delicious Central American cuisine. In addition to lots of opportunities for yogis, there are also amazing ways to practice community service and get involved in town. I'll always remember the pre-school I helped build during the month I spent here.

7. Arambol, Goa, India. Do drum circles, hatha yoga, contact dance, and Tantra festivals call your name? If so, head to Arambol, Goa. This hippie town in the north of Goa (the southern tropical beach city of India) is for the more experienced traveler who seeks authenticity and flavor from their vacation without the frills of a typical yoga getaway; think beach huts with no electricity and ecstatic dance around a banyan tree. An Ayurvedic Practitioner, Arambol is the place I go to unwind and relax after an intense panchakarma experience. I’ve hosted retreats in Arambol and participants tell me they'd never imagined that this side of India even existed. 


About the Author

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Sahara Rose is the author of the The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda and has been called “a leading voice in the millennial generation into the paradigm shift” by Deepak Chopra. She is a Certified Ayurvedic, Holistic and Sports Nutritionist and specializes in making Ayurveda easy to understand and follow so everyone can benefit from it's ancient wisdom. Discover your mind-body type with her quiz and follow her adventures on Instagram and her podcast, Highest Self Podcast.

Connect with Sahara: Instagram, eatfeelfresh.com

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Meet the Flip Fam: Sean Elliott

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Meet the Flip Fam: Sean Elliott

Happy Flip Fam Friday! On Fridays, we profile members of our community who artfully build the spirit of serendipity into their daily lives.

This week, we’ll meet Sean Elliott of @moohahvanadventures, a talent manager, vanlifer and Dad extraordinaire based in Los Angeles. Check out how Sean and his daughters infuse creativity and discovery into their quests on the open road and raise the stakes on adventure.... 

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Name: Sean Elliott

Your favorite nickname: Well lately, I am loving when my daughters think it is sooo, SO hilarious to call me “Sean" instead of “Dad”.  Lots of mileage out of that one, and it is zero funny.

Where were you born? St. Cloud, MN

Where do you live now? Pacific Palisades, CA

What’s your profession or calling? I represent actors, celebrities, and creators. I run the West Coast office of Authentic Talent Management.  

What’s a secret power that you have (that may surprise us!): I can hold my nose and blow air out of my tear duct. Pretty sweet. 

What’s your go-to local zen spot? I paddleboard, way out there. I point my SUP towards the open ocean. And also do simple yoga and stretches while pretending I am the only human on the planet.  

What’s your most beloved travel destination? My daughters and I are designing a 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter together.  We will be making memories every weekend in Southern California, and beyond.  Already, the creativity of the design process has been so rewarding as they are really making it their own (including naming her MOOHAH). I’m just kind of there to facilitate things and keep it all moving along (and also pay for it).

Why is adventure important to you and what do you do to infuse that into your daily life? I have an old 1970 LIFE magazine cover in my office featuring skier, Billy The Kid with the words “ON THE ICY EDGE OF WIN AND LOSE”.  I think that sums it up.  The unknown, the uncomfortable, and the unknowable all are important ways of getting unstuck and truly being open to new experiences.

What's your mantra for getting through challenges or tough times? The Kundalini yoga chant Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.  I don’t know Kundalini or yoga well at all.  I think I like it because it is not in English and I have no clue what it means.  My brain doesn’t try to out-think the meaning of it or over-evaluate it.  

What's your go-to 'thing' to get unstuck? My move is to ghost out of the office and go for a 10-15 minute walk.  

How do you (and your kiddos) Serenflip? Well, the Sprinter Van design + build with my daughters is way outside of my comfort zone, but I love every second of it.  We are creating a one-of-a-kind adventure van, plus a lifetime of memories. I love how they are taking control of the project, and I love what crazy and creative ideas they come up with — it’s non-stop.  

I pictured something much more rugged and masculine, but it’s becoming so light and beachy, boho cool - and it’s really all them. So far, Paige’s favorite adventure idea for Moohah is to drive in the direction that Quinn says for 30 minutes or so, and then I ask Quinn where to go next and essentially just listen to her and go where she says!

And when I think about one instance watching my girls Serenflip, it has to be when Paige and Quinn picked cards to conquer their fears one day. I saw Paige coaxing Quinn to jump off rocks to overcome her fear of heights. It was so organic, and quite sweet and inspiring for me to witness. The ease of it just being a simple, straight-forward card spelling out exactly what to do made it effortless for them. They just picked the deck up and went with it.

What do you think about adventure potentially being the next meditation (and what could the benefits be)? Meditation is about going into the stillness of your inner space. Adventure is about the unpredictable unknown. When we allow ourselves to go into the unknown, into the world of instability, we truly open ourselves to becoming unstuck.  There can be a lot of unknowns and realizations in meditation, but there is never the fear of embarrassment, ridicule, bodily injury, etc. Adventure raises the stakes in both the psychological and the physical realms.

 

Follow my girls and me as we create our adventure van + our own adventures!

IG: @moohahvanadventures


 

 

 

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4 Fun Things to Do With Your Friends When You're Bored With Brunch

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4 Fun Things to Do With Your Friends When You're Bored With Brunch

I have an unpopular opinion: I hate brunch. I always end up hangry from having to wait too long. The restaurants are usually too crowded and rushed, making it hard for me to properly catch up with people. And, let’s be honest, I want way more champagne in my mimosa than I ever get. But I get the appeal. It’s nice to have a relaxing way to spend a weekend morning, an excuse to spend time a little more luxuriously with people you love. I just think there has to be a better way to do it than over a $20 plate of dry eggs.

Here are a few activities you might try swapping out brunch with to shake up your weekend mornings (er, afternoons).

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1. Go on a Mystery Day Trip. Unlike going to happy hour, when you meet your friends for brunch you have a whole day ahead of you. So, instead of getting toasted, why not get out of town? Try swapping off which of your friends chooses the place and plans the trip so it’s not too much of a burden for anyone (and a bit of a fun surprise for the rest of you). Bring some breakfast sandwiches or granola bars for the car, and get your normal gabbing done while playing tunes on the ride. If you don’t have a car, have your friends pool their normal brunch budget to rent one for the day.

Then, spend the rest of your day exploring. Nearby hikes, quirky small towns; there are likely plenty of cool places within an hour or two of where you live that you haven’t experienced yet. Don’t be afraid to get sidetracked on the way and enjoy the journey, and get excited to come back with more memories than just what was on the menu.

2. Start a Spiritual Get Together. You don’t have to be a churchgoer to benefit from having a regular spiritual community. If you haven’t found a formal congregation that fits your needs, why not create your own group of spiritual misfits who are trying to figure it out together? What this looks like will really depend on the interests of your group, but it’s a great place to try out practices of different religions or new ways of opening your mind and seeing what sticks. Maybe one week it’s a group sound meditation and the next you’re having a solstice celebration, or every month you read a book by a different spiritual leader and discuss.

Gather some friends regularly with the intention of exploring the spiritual world and see what sort of growth and conversation it leads to.

3. Have a Learning Party. I bet you have loads of badass friends who know how to do cool things that you could only dream of doing, so why not use a chunk of weekend hours to teach each other some new tricks? This can be super low-key—you don’t need to create lesson plans or anything—and definitely doesn’t have to feel like you’re going to school on a Saturday. You should think of fun skills that everyone’s jazzed to learn!

Your artsy friend can teach everyone a bit of hand lettering and then you can sit around writing Insta-worthy inspirational quotes. The audiophile in the group can teach about podcasting by making a fun podcast of all your normal brunch chatter. Your international playgirl friend can share her tips for traveling on the cheap, and you can all sit around musing about your next trip and booking flights together. You’ll get closer to your friends by learning more about what they love and pick up some great new skills for yourself.

4. Do Brunch, but DIY Style. Okay, maybe this is cheating, but I think cooking together is such a powerful way to spend time with people that it deserves to be said. Just because I avoid going out to brunch, doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate mealtime with people I love. I’d just prefer to do it at home where I can make my mimosas as strong as I like.

So try out moving your weekly brunch into your home, and see how you can make it a little playful and fun! You could pick a theme every week—from childhood throwback to international flair—and have people bring something to contribute. You could go explore a farmers market and scrounge together a picnic brunch. You can do brunch 'Chopt-style' and have everyone bring what’s left in their fridge from the week to whip up something inventive together. By doing this, you get to make the meal an adventure in and of itself. 


About the Author

Erin Greenawald is a freelance writer, editor, and content maker who is passionate about elevating the standard of writing on the web and helping people share their message with the world. Erin never says no to tea and a croissant with a friend—old or new!—and she loves any flip that encourages her to find some serenity in the crazy world around her.

Connect with Erin: Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Medium

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From the Archives: The Tao of Steven Tyler

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From the Archives: The Tao of Steven Tyler

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 a serendipitous celebrity encounter with Steven Tyler — what could have been a simple sighting turned into a moment filled with life changing advice. 

Enjoy!

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4 Secrets That'll Make Your First Solo Trip a Magical Experience

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4 Secrets That'll Make Your First Solo Trip a Magical Experience

By a serendipitous accident, I found a love for solo travel.

I was in Barcelona, Spain, without friends for a few days because of a miscommunication around arrival dates. I arrived a few days early, disoriented and feeling a bit overwhelmed that I was in a foreign country. I didn’t speak Spanish or have functioning Google Maps on my phone. After the initial shock wore off, the next few days were unfettered by commitments, my own ‘identity,’ agendas, and deadlines. I wove around monuments, wandered around the city at my own pace, and discovered hole-in-the-wall gems.

Since then, I’ve added a number more solo sojourns; sometimes for a slice of peace from the hectic and dark winters of the Big Apple (Sevilla, Spain was great for this), other times for some inner reflection or to visit friends abroad. Whatever your reason for going solo — conquering fears, getting to know yourself better, listening to your intuition, challenging yourself in new places and spaces — these are the my top tips.

1. Commit to making your trip happen. Set a hard deadline for when you'll leave. If you are like me and constantly can find an excuse to delay things (work, other commitments, etc.), this hard deadline should be a pre-booked flight so it's a set plan after a certain point. I've heard that it's best to book flights one to three months in advance and that booking tends to be less expensive on a week day. Surf around the web before you buy to make sure you score the best deal; I love Holiday Pirates, Sky Scanner, and Kayak. You can also find error flight fares on Secret Flying, which is perfect if you have more flexibility in your schedule.

Once you've bought your ticket, set an intention for your trip. Is this a museum tour of Paris? A food exploration of the Tuscany countryside? Will you go just to visit your friends in another place? Knowing will help you plan your budget, visits and excursions.

2. Plan in advance. Will you travel to SE Asia? Make sure that you have the right vaccinations and visa applications. Are you planning to backpack through Europe? If you're going with a United States Passport, know that you'll have just 90 continuous days across all Schengen countries in Europe for your stay. To keep up with rules, regulations and need to know info during my planning phase, I love to browse Nomadic Matt, Be My Travel Muse, and the CDC

The research, booking and planning part of taking a solo trip can get overwhelming, so don't be afraid to reach out to a friend for help. Even better if your buddy has been to the place you plan to visit!

Sunset over Florence by Emily Chen

Sunset over Florence by Emily Chen

3. Pack wisely. Most budget airlines in Europe and SE Asia have inexpensive airfares, but they'll only allow you to bring a single carry-on bag that weights between 7-10kgs. Choosing what you put in your suitcase can make a big difference in how comfortably you travel, and packing light is also the most sensible — after all, who wants to lug a huge suitcase up tons of steps or along cobblestone streets? Remember to bring a camera and your journal so you can commit your travel to memory along the way. 

4. Let your experience unfold. Your first night might be a little disorienting and can feel a bit lonely, so be kind and gentle with yourself. On my first night in a new place, I call a friend, drink enough water, go to bed, and sleep through the night to get through jet lag. In the morning, I have my grounding rituals — these are meditation, yoga, water, a trip to a local coffee shop, and breakfast. Figure out what makes you feel good so you can start the day with a ritual of your own, no matter where you are.

Get a true taste of your destination by traveling and eating like local whenever you can. My favorite thing to do in a new city is to join common interest groups like MeetUp, Couchsurfing, Internations, or even to stay in a hostel or Airbnb for a few days to meet like-minded travelers. You can even share a meal with locals through EatWith or Feastly — so cool!

To keep it fun and fresh, challenge yourself to meet new faces in new places. Different cities make me feel like a different person, so I tend to err on loose free-flowing days with minimal planning. I make time for magic to find me in corner bookstores, small seaside shops, and excursions with strangers I've just met who’ve become close friends. Go with an adventurous spirit and discover how beautiful and serendipitous moments find you along your trip!


About the Author

Emily Chen is a freelance designer and illustrator. Her home is currently all over the world. She is passionate about food, shared experiences, new cultures.

Connect with Emily: Instagram, emcwanders.com

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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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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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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: 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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Dude Looks Like A Lama: Getting A Mantra From An Unexpected Rockstar

Elizabeth Real challenged me to ask a stranger for a mantra, and what better stranger than an inspiring rock-n-roll hero.

In my hotel lobby, I saw a familiar face, long tousled hair and layers of distressed denim that only a famous rocker could wear as effortlessly as I wear my Lululemons. Unflanked by guards or an air of celebrity, he was perusing the shop windows, admiring sumptuous fabrics and sparkling gems just like any other well-heeled tourist. With my challenge in my wallet, I knew he would be the ideal person to ask. I back-and-forthed over whether to approach a lime-lighter clearly enjoying an off-stage moment, and how to acknowledge his celebrity, as I admired the showcases just a few feet away.

I overheard his familiar rasp, and figured he was put in my path for a reason.

“That’s a familiar voice!” I exclaimed, just as I might have to any other American thousands of miles from home. He smiled and turned and we began to chat about where each of us had lived.

“You lived in Aspen? Well, how’s your ass been?” He joked.

“Well it’s been great,” I responded with an exaggerated hip slap. “I’m on sabbatical for three months traveling the world.”

We chatted and laughed about travel and my three months off as we sauntered down the hall admiring jewelry, and picking up a few onlooking Americans in conversation.

“I have a strange request for you.” I summoned, after a deep breath. He looked at me, perhaps expecting an ask for an autograph or a large donation. “My friends are giving me challenges to do over my 90 days away, and today I have to ask a stranger for a mantra… Would you be up for giving me one?”

He smiled and crossed his arms in thought. “Wow, that’s a good challenge.” More pauses, an elbow to the wall and hand to the back of his head, and through his tousled hair. He paced and furrowed his brow.

“I’m sorry to ask you such a difficult question on your vacation,” I backtracked. “It’s completely fine if you can’t think of one.”

“No, no… This is good.” More pausing and thinking. “A mantra… Just one word?”

“Well, it can be a phrase, a word of advice, a flash of inspiration… Whatever comes to mind.” I was feeling like I had overstepped my bounds.

As he kept thinking and pacing, his friend assured me that I had indeed asked the right person. A few other hotel guests started to look on. More pauses. My brain quickly sidled up to gawk at the scene of one of the world’s most famous rockers pacing and thinking, and a trepidatious American fumbling and glancing around the marble hall: I can’t believe you asked this man for a mantra… And then, he had it.

The only way to get to the other shore is to lose sight of the one you’re on.

“This is amazing,” I beamed. “It’s perfect and so applicable to where I am right now.”

“Me too,” he smiled. “Me too.” Status and circumstance washed away, and we continued to chat as we walked down the hall, a small group of us connected by the desire to look to new shores. The type of shore we were each aiming for, fancy and famous or small and simple, seemed superfluous. Just knowing others, even the most celebrated, sought new shores and a little inspiration for the swim was a strong enough current to push me farther away from the fears of that familiar, footprinted sand I’ve treaded for so long.

Much of my travel has been about letting go of old ideas, whether my need to control and plan or my ability to turn a simple decision into a detailed drama. Over the past few months, I’ve had to let the current pull me farther from the plans I’ve pre-meditated and closer to the possibilities I can’t yet fathom. And what a laughably-perfect way to practice floating with the flow than to be presented with the need for a mantra and a superstar stranger.

I still hadn’t given nod to the fact that I knew how famous he was, and at this point in the conversation, it seemed odd to throw in how much I admired his work, how enthralled I was at age 9 by “Janie’s Got A Gun,” or to call him by name.

As we parted ways, we wished each other well on our respective shore-hopping journeys. I was reminded that lamas come in many forms and that we all can teach from our experiences. Anyone can be a lama, often unintentionally and sometimes just for a moment. You just have to ask.

Originally published on yestoexcess.com.

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A Crazy Beautiful Lesson

It’s hard not to wear a blissed out grin all around Ubud. Of all of the places I’ve been, it’s the one where I feel the most connected and cocooned, yet inspired and introverted. It’s a town that stretches those who want to be stretched, ahead into the possibilities of new ways of living and back toward the depths of buried circumstances one may care to keep dusty. In the ark of my 24 hours (thank you, Kate Plumb!), I learned that a day of smiling takes a lot more than simply grinning at everything from rice paddies to happy babies.

It starts with those gaping grins, which are simply a vehicle to connect. Smiling has been a super-tool in my trusty solo-traveler tool belt, as it’s led me to new encounters and new people. However, it’s hard to stay on the surface of such a smile forever — the “how are you”s and “where are you from”s get weary after a while. My morning started with light smiles and instant depth (this is Ubud…) with three lovely ex-pat ladies, whom I would later meet for the afternoon. Gaping grins continued to dot my day, ever the energy booster during a dull moment, but a smile that I’ve often taken for granted slowly began to take its place.

It started in the home of a Mayan Astrologer, who began our session with dancer-like gestures to paint new dimensions of time, and an immediate break for a quick downward dog fix to soothe her back. My old snap smile, the one with the quickened pace and raised eyebrow, popped in as I sat nervously in half lotus anticipating the next few hours. As we talked about hidden talents, personal challenges and cycles of my life, my snap smile softened, but not into that familiar gaping grin. It moved lower and deeper, as I shared hopes and fears that melted into her predictions. She nodded with her hands over her heart, draping them out, over and around the air and sighed. With a deep, knowing smile.

My face softened and slowed (a relief to my sore, over-used cheeks), and I realized that I was smiling without moving a muscle. Just falling into the slowness and lightness I felt swirling through me. Our conversations moved deeper, to a point of that gripping softness that often precedes a tear. But it wasn’t a tear of extremes, like sadness or joy, just simple presence and purpose that settled into a wordless, toothless upturn.

Through my many temple visits, I’ve seen a lot of Buddhas and have wondered more than a few times why there aren’t more grinning, giggling statues for a teacher so happy and enlightened. But from settling into the deeper, more balanced, less ecstatic smile, I stumbled upon that smile that’s authentic connection. I felt that deep smile when I hugged a fifteen year old who shared with me what she was going through with her friends and family, and when I fell into deep relaxation during yoga nidra (also known as yogic napping… or my new favorite type of yoga!). I felt it as my unexpected companions and I giggled over a smorgasbord of raw desserts and social media mental-health pacts. (I have promised to only “like” ugly pictures if I Instagram before meditation.) I felt it as the brightness of a rising full moon drew me to the window in the middle of the night.

A day full of smiling doesn’t mean constant euphoria. It can be a happy, giggly high. A way to get out of yourself and into a conversation. Armor in an uncomfortable situation. Genuine compassion and care. Inner knowledge and understanding. Softness so guttural that it cracks perception and expectation.

In all these roles, it’s an alchemist. Resentment breaks into a glint of gratitude. Skepticism melts into a modicum of compassion. Fear sprouts into the seeds of new friendships. So smile at your smiles… See what happens and what you discover from smiling for the entire day. Either way, it’s good for the soul and sagging jowls!

Originally published on yestoexcess.com

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My Serenflipity Moment

My final 48 hours in India led me to see how these flips are greater than the sum of their daily missions: they’ve started to chisel away at how I think and act, slapped me right into the middle of India’s delicious and chaotic onslaught when I wanted to hover on the curb, and have even woven a giant, fate-like web to fall into.

Let’s rewind to last Tuesday, when I received a call from my friend Neet who happened to be in Delhi. “You should delay your trip to Bhutan and come to the Golden Temple in Amritsar with my family. I promise it will be an amazing experience.” As I wavered over what path to take, I remembered Zoe Settle’s and Dave Allan’s challenges to zig at zag and my resolution to kill that indecisive part of myself (a nod is due to Mike Rothman.) I scrolled through texts over the past few weeks from Samta (my chai victim and new friend, thanks to Becky Straw), encouraging a trip to visit her in Amritsar. All signs pointed to Punjab. Now it was time to just take the action, let go, and see what would happen.

The First Yes

On Friday morning, instead of landing in Paro, I arrived in Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, and Neet’s hometown. I got to see the city through his eyes, including the Rock Garden, a labyrinth dreamed up from a local’s backyard into acres of winding paths and waterfalls, mosaic-like walls and villages of figures made from everything from broken bangles to ceramic from discarded sinks and toilets. Families, friends and scrambling boys explored every corner, and I began to imagine Neet and his friends hiding in a lost alley years ago, playing cards and eating samosas.

“It’s a lot like India and life in general,” we laughed. “You take the old things that don’t work, smash them, mash them together, and repurpose them into something beautiful.”

Day fell into dusk and the four of us were well into our five hour drive to Amritsar. Slowly, the broad highways and fields became dusty, bustling mazes, and trucks and cars were replaced by tuk tuks and clusters of locals snacking in the city’s savory streets. As we started to approach the temple, that nervous, awkward, you’re-not-a-member-of-this-holy-place feeling started to rumble. I quickly learned that Sikhism stems from the teachings of different religions and views all beings as equal, evident in its open temple doors and langar, whereby visitors from all castes and creeds can sit side by side on the dining hall floor and enjoy food prepared by the communal kitchen.

After washing our hands and feet, we descended down through the white entranceway and into an expansive marble courtyard, a frame to the holy pool, in the center of which floats the gleaming Golden Temple. Families laid together under the archways, friends huddled together in a low hum, and men cleansed and meditated in the waters. Singing of the day’s lesson was shared (and translated) over a giant screen and a loud speaker. Underneath, the reverent sounds of prayer and reading mixed with the soft paces of bare soles on polished marble. A calm but eager crowd spilled out over the bridge to the temple, waiting to get in after a long pilgrimage. I felt deeply grounded and lifted beyond myself at the seem time.

“This place is busy 24 hours a day,” I was told. “At any time, there are people sleeping, volunteering, praying, waiting. You’ll never not find a crowd.”

And find a crowd we did, as we went to the langar hall to break chapatti. The banging of tin began to intersperse the reverent din, and as we arrived, we melded into a line to receive a metal plate to bring into the hall. Plates in hand, it was time to wait until the prior shift finished, and the doors opened to the next round. With a slow scuffle and a few sharp pushes, we spilled into the empty hall, where rows of mats acted as tables and chairs. Men and women with baskets of chapattis, ladles of dal and rice pudding made the rounds, and hundreds of us sat, knee to knee and spoon to spoon, eating quietly under the fluorescent light and watch of the gurus. Slowly the crowd filtered out, and a cleaning zamboni (oh yes!) hurdled through each row, removing the residue from the prior crowd to get ready for the next. As we left, we dropped our plates into a vat and into a whole new process where rows of volunteers cleaned, soaped, re-soaped, scrubbed, banged and dried the plates back to new. Effortlessly feeding 80,000 people a day, this place could also be a Six Sigma devotee’s dream.

Full of curiosity, connection and some of the more flavorful dal I’ve had over my six weeks in India, it was time to retire for the night so that we could return in the morning to offer prayers and a donation for Neet’s birthday. It’s hard to describe (and I will save you from a feeble attempt), but going to the holiest of sites with a devoted family, and being the sole redhead (shrouded, of course) in a sea of bright turbans was deeply humbling and inspiring. I was welcomed not only into a culture, but into a faith. I learned about my own faith, and how easy it can be to sit on the sidelines and wave at it, versus walking whole-heatedly into the fray. I saw selflessness and other-centeredness in everything from the Narulas sharing their family experience to the dal-dolers and devotees constantly giving of themselves to the community. I felt woven into the fabric of a country, state and sacred site that were wholly foreign.

The Second Yes

I was contented that this would be the apex of my Amritsar experience. Unable to get on a flight or train that evening, and having waved off Neet and his parents, I planned a quiet night in at the hotel before my morning trip to Delhi. A handful of texts and phone calls later, I was to be picked up by Samta to attend a family function that evening. (If you recall, Samta and her family were the lovely folks that Blair and I met on a long-winded tour-boat, whom we engaged in a rollicking conversation thanks to a great challenge to talk to a stranger on a deeper level.) I was whisked into her nephew’s first birthday party, where I was a sight to be seen, a redhead in my “nice” kurta, which looked like house-wear compared to the gorgeous, embroidered and bedazzled saris and dresses that Samta’s sisters and cousins wore. I bumbled through my toddler-level Hindi, smiled and waved and ate snacks.

And then the music started. I was pulled into the dancing area and into the middle of the shimmying, dancing and singing. I couldn’t quite tell if the entire family was laughing at me or enjoying the spectacle of a foreigner attempting to imitate their flawless moves in my pre-teen-at-the-eighth-grade-dance style. But even as my Bhangra skills got worse, the veil of my self-consciousness lifted, revealing a spirited family that I began to feel deeply connected to, as we shook together, embraced and giggled.

A sharp jerk at my arm, and I was pulled off the dance floor by Samta’s mother with a serious and purposeful look. Perhaps I had inadvertently offended them? Perhaps my dancing was so appalling that it had to be stopped at once? She said nothing, but continued to pull me harder and closer to the buffet. “Food! Eat!” What relief… and what deliciousness.

As the night continued, we all continued to laugh and eat until our stomachs were heavy and our cheeks were sore. Words were translated and gestured, scoops of cake and kulcha were put into my fingers or into my mouth, and pictures and poses were snapped and shared. As I went to say goodbye to Samta’s mother, I vainly attempted a respectful gesture that Samta had taught me earlier. “No!” she cried, as her mother laughed and took my face in her hands. “That’s for the daughter in law. Not for family. She says that you are her daughter.”

To label what the Narulas and the Bhatias shared with me as “hospitality” or “generosity” would be the equivalent to calling the Taj Mahal “pretty” or “inspiring.” My foundational beliefs in family, faith and friendship deepened. I re-discovered that old feeling of being at home after six weeks of being anywhere but in a hometown. Faith has taken the lead over fear, and I will step into my next adventure and the unknown, trusting that there’s always a net to hurdle into.

The Infinite Yes

It would have been easier and less risky to just say “no” and continue with the program as planned. But I always would have wondered what would have happened if I’d said “yes,” and, looking back, I would not have had the chance to experience how one yes leads to another, and to a path that I suppose only the travel gods get to giggle about, gossip on, and decide.

So the point of this long-winded tale, I suppose, is to just say yes today whether it seems small or far-fetched, mindless or gut-nagging. Break your plans and chisel and repurpose them into something new. Or even better, give someone else the opportunity to say yes.

Originally posted at yestoexcess.com.

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