Saying YES in 2013

Before I went to Burning Man in 2007, I was reading on their eplaya forums and came across a post that talked about the philosophy of engaging in activities on the playa.  The summary of the theory was that you should always say “yes” when asked to do something out there, unless the action would be ultimately harmful to yourself or someone else.  This is an amazing concept to someone like me who really thinks through most of my decisions.  While we were out there that year, I remember a guy coming up to one of my camp mates and asking her if he could kiss her.  She didn’t even think twice, she said YES.  I remember thinking she was bold and amazing, and I was ultimately grateful he didn’t ask me.  My brain connected the two events, and ever since I’ve tried really hard to be a “yes” person.  Why not say yes?  What’s the worst that could really happen, other than an experience to add to my life?  That camp mate probably never knew, but her “YES” changed me in a really big way and has constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone.

As a person who is a little bit of a homebody and has a little bit of an anxiety disorder, I sometimes talk myself out of things before there is even a chance to start.  I’ve been doing a lot of work in the past few years to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and felt like I built up enough momentum to go ahead and make it my new year’s resolution for 2013.  I’M GOING TO SAY YES in 2013!

Well, it’s already February and I feel like I’m doing an excellent job of sticking to my commitment. Want to see that movie, grab a drink or go for that walk? YES. Acro-yoga soon? Sure, I am clumsy as hell and not super passionate about yoga, but I bet it’s good for a laugh – YES. I just happened to be in San Diego when the Electric Run was going on this past weekend, and had nothing to do that night. Why not get dressed up in my black light friendly gear, load myself up with glow necklaces and walk 5k around an awesomely lit track for an hour? No reason I could think of, so of course I said yes, and it was fun! There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday night by yourself.

Electric Run 734334_10151495806499924_36251930_n

Saying “yes” to things has gotten a little out of control. I have suddenly found myself a member of the 2013 Silicon Valley/Monterey Bay Team in Training group embarking on the America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe on June 2. “If you remove the single obstacle in my way to do this event, I will do this event…oh you removed the obstacle…then YES, I’m in.” I really didn’t have any reason to say no. So now, not only have I said yes to moving my body via cycle around Lake Tahoe for 100 Miles, I’ve agreed to raise money to fight those stupid blood cancers Leukemia and Lymphoma. That’s about one of the best reasons to say yes that I’ve ever had. Plus, it will jump start my socializing and get me exercising regularly. So yeah, all win here.

Tomorrow is my first ride. 14 miles. It only goes up from there. I think I’ve done about 5-6 miles in one stretch in my longest cruiser stint. There is currently a bike sitting outside my office with those pedals that you clip into. Can I just tell you how scared this clumsy girl is?! Before I can think about going 100 miles, I have to think about not falling over when I stop. I’m looking forward to the safety training and I’m glad I have a good helmet. I’d love to focus on the main part of this adventure, the part that involves not tumbling down the mountain into the lake while attached to the frame of my bike. In order to do that though, I really need help jump starting my fundraising. The best thing you can do right now is SAY YES to donating just $5 to finding a way of telling cancer to take a hike. If everyone I know says yes to giving just a little, then we can say yes to finding a cure for all those people struggling with Leukemia and Lymphoma.

I’m excited to see what happens this year. It has already been an incredible 5 weeks of freedom, adventures and fun and I can’t wait for what is next. I think this is my year…and I know I’m going to be so happy when I’m old and I look back on my life and realize how much richer my life was because I said yes to something other than my couch and television. I encourage you to also say yes next time you’re tentative – make your life a better story. (While you’re at it, let’s give someone else a chance to have that story too.)

My January in Pictures

The same year that I did my Project 30, I did the 52 weeks of self-portraits project. I loved how it got me doing more and truly enjoying photography more, in addition to giving me a great way to document my life.  This month, I wanted to try something like it again.  Not only did I want to be taking more pictures, but I tried to do things every day that were worthy (to me) of documenting.  Unfortunately, my Point and Shoot is broken right now, so I’m reliant on my iPhone to document.  Thankfully, it’s pretty awesome as a stand-in for a carry around.  I ended up posting 49 pictures to Instagram on 20 different days during the month of January.  I went places near and far, played hard, gardened, enjoyed good food, hung out with friends, cuddled with my kitty, relaxed, painted, worked (and a random pear even showed up in my office). It was a really great month and start to 2013.  I am so grateful for my life.  Things are really good.  Yay for happiness and living loud!

jan1 jan2 jan3

jan4You can see my full Instagram profile and follow me here.


Retro Post: Burning Man 2007: My Name is Tori and I am a Burner

One of my intentions for this place is to combine a bunch of my older properties into one domain for all my blog writing, both new and old. I’ve been thinking about Burning Man a lot lately, with ticket registration opening next week. I haven’t been to the playa since 2008, but it’s a part of me every day. I was thinking about this post the other day, so it seemed like a good time to dig it up and share it here. It was written after I got back from my 2nd burn in 2007, after taking 2006 off.

Pulled from

Me & My Man, Burning Man 2007

I don’t have a playa name. I haven’t earned one yet. Out of 11 people in our camp, only 2 have names, the second earned and announced this year at the end. I tried one on for a minute at the gate for like 5 minutes this year…Sin…it didn’t work. That’s not how it happens. You can’t name yourself. It’s ok. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to. Me and that dust aren’t parting any time soon. Yeah, I’m going back next year. I can’t wait a year plus the weeks I am counting.

Me & The Man before the Burn, Burning Man 2007

You know, it’s weird, to finally call myself a burner. It took a random post, the approval of strangers and a comment by a respected friend and mayor on top of weeks of introspection to get to that point. “You are Ms. T.” he said, and “Damn straight” he seconded on top of messages and numerous replies thanking me for my poignant conversation topic — “Who or What is a Burner?” I’ve written more than once in recent weeks about my struggles with where my type of personality fits into the burner community overall, but I haven’t been very public about my struggle with my ownership back here in the real world of who I am out there. Understandably, the first time I announced to the world on a week’s notice that I was going, the immediate reactions made me doubt myself and expectations for the adventure ahead. It was hard to convince everyone that it was my thing when I wasn’t even sure what it was. When I got out there, it was harder than anyone can tell you and I spent the first night in my tent after puking from the environment change and stress. I thought they were right and I tried to make the most of that week, and I took in the art and the adventure and I came back feeling like it was a growing but isolating and I placed a lot of conditions on what I wanted if I returned. I wasn’t sure I’d go back but the longer and longer I was away from it, the more and I more I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I just knew I had to try again with the growth of a couple of years under my belt.

Cheese! We Come in Pieces, Burning Man 2007

This time, I stepped out of the car strong, unapologetic and ready. I have done a lot of work on myself since last time I was out there, and I am more aware of who I am and was open to what the playa had to give to me this time without being so afraid. I sprung into action, built camp, stayed when needed and went about life like it was here. Except I was reheating my famous chili on a propane stove instead of an electric one. I was enthusiastic about our camp, I brought the mailbox and I painted the old nasty patio table I had with the coolest krylon paint to make it all funky and then donated it to the life of the camp. I realize now I didn’t have to really be engaged with the camp in terms of night life or social interaction to feel the safety and comfort of having my “family” there if I needed them. My friends back here in the default world hadn’t had much of a chance to comment on Burning Man since if you don’t work with me or find me online, I’ve been absent since June. It’s also just too hard to explain and you tire of defining how it is not a sex fest or a hippie fest or a drug fest but all of those things are there. It’s just any old city like this one with a little bit more of a cooperative utopian value to build on and you get to cheer when big things burn, unlike here in the real world when fire is usually a bad thing. Those in my life that did hear about it in the months before were more supportive this time but I was still partially unaware and completely unable to describe the connection that was forming between me and the dusty world beyond. My living room swelled with stuff that I realized later I never needed or wanted and will now live in a costume box for the next 50 years of my life and I packed it all and headed out to build a temporary life for myself away from the crazy things that go on here. I learned a lot about what I need out there, and how “next time I’ll get this down”. I awed at a friend’s set-up at another camp and he said that we are building infrastructure and I laughed. From where we were 2 years ago when I was showering in the dish pan, yeah, we’ve built a bit. I need to keep that in mind, it’s a rolling investment, a hobby, and a lifestyle. I will probably have these coolers, tubs and costumes for 10 years and I am sure my collection of comfort items will grow.


I can already see my shopping list for this year, and we are already brainstorming new camp names, concepts, volunteer opportunities and drive in dates. If I have to work the whole week that I am out there next time, I will. We already have 3 art projects for placement (1 returning and 2 new) and I am already trying to figure out what I am going to do as a solo project. This is actually going to be my biggest personal goal this year on top of the getting involved and building a solid theme camp building a future positive reputation on the playa. It is really important to the part of me that is an artist that I really recognize what the guys accomplished this year and how successful they were. People loved their idea and it’s hard in a city of 47,000 people to not impress someone. I mean, I’ve always gotten generally positive feedback on my art, so why not finally just dive in and think big. Like 20 feet by 20 feet by 20 feet big or bigger. Like not painting like building. What does the American Dream mean to me and how does that inspire me? Watch for news, I’m sure you’ll hear plenty. But next year, you can bet I’ll drive in early, I’ll be at that gate all week, I’ll work for the Bureau of Erotic Discourse (BED) and spread the word of respect and appreciation as well as make sure that my camp contributes to the overall growth and betterment of the community. I can’t sit back here in the default world another year while my community is changing and I have no control. If I want my world to be what I want and need it to be in 2009, that means in 2008, I need to take action.


Right now, my eyes are on Decompression and establishing myself as a strong and vibrant member of the local burner community. I want to meet the people to help guide me to making the most positive impact I can on this community that I am no longer afraid to say that I am more than a member of, but an instigator of. There is nothing wrong with being a burner, and there is nothing wrong with being the type of burner I am.

Post rainstorm, Burning Man 2007

The man burns in 335 days.