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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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