30 Inspiring TED Talks

As my 30 day challenge in August, I said I would watch 30 new TED talks in 30 days. Unfortunately, I was away from home a third of the month and it took me a bit longer to finish the challenge than I expected. Oops. I finally did finish my challenge though. Every single talk was amazing for a different reason. Each one left me with something to walk away with pondering and something I wanted to share. I felt invigorated with ideas on the days that I marathoned groups of them at a time. I love feeling that inspired and hopeful for the future. I learned a lot. I approach sleep differently now, think pigs are RAD and love clouds even more than I did before. I’ve tried to change my body language and be happier. I absorbed a lot of what I learned into my day to day operations of our programs at work. This exercise had impact. I will definitely continue trying to consume as many of their talks as I can. I think I’m addicted. (But I’ve always been addicted to ideas, so maybe this is just my new drug of choice.)

Here are the 30 TED Talks that I finished. The below links are in the order I watched them in. I tried to step outside my immediate interest box sometimes, but sometimes that failed. These are only the videos I finished and not the handful of them that I bailed out of because they were so boring. Not all TED presenters are created equal. (It wasn’t that many though.) I can recommend all of these, and encourage any of my friends to watch some of them and spark up conversations if they generate thoughts and ideas in you too.

(But, if you’re just going to watch one, please let it be this one. Not only are the bits of information she shares truly mind blowing, but I want you to see the way she lays out the idea that we should approach problems from the perspective of the person who needs the problem solved and not our outsider view. It is in the way she thinks sociologically that reminds me why I love good thinkers and great ideas. More people should think this way. This talk was really fantastic.)

1. Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity
2. Rajesh Rao: A Rosetta Stone for the Indus Script
3. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
4. Jane McGonigal: The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life
5. Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work
6. Terry Moore: How to Tie Your Shoes
7. Sheena Iyengar: How to Make Choosing Easier
8. Pamela Meyer: How to Spot a Liar
9. Temple Grandin: The World Needs All Kinds of Minds
10. Dan Gilbert Asks, Why Are We Happy?
11. Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong
12. Dan Ariely on Our Buggy Moral Code
13. Arianna Huffington: How to Succeed? Get More Sleep
14. Michael Shermer on Strange Beliefs
15. Christien Meindertsma: How Pig Parts Make the World Turn
16. Dan Cobley: What Physics Taught Me About Marketing
17. Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce
18. Joachim de Posada Says, ‘Don’t Eat the Marshmallow Yet’
19. Frank Warren: Half a million secrets
20. Daniel Suarez: The kill decision shouldn’t belong to a robot
21. Tim Leberecht: 3 ways to (usefully) lose control of your brand
22. Rachel Botsman: The currency of the new economy is trust
23. David Binder: The arts festival revolution
24. Eleanor Longden: The voices in my head
25. Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing
26. Apollo Robbins: The art of misdirection
27. Sonia Shah: 3 reasons we still haven’t gotten rid of malaria
28. Russell Foster: Why do we sleep?
29. Peter van Manen: How can Formula 1 racing help … babies?
30. Gavin Pretor-Pinney: Cloudy with a chance of joy

Do you have any TED talks to recommend?


I think I’ve officially lost my mind.  I’ve been mulling it over for 3 months now since I finished the 100 mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe I thought I could never do, and the other night I had a dream about it, and now I can’t stop thinking about it.  I think I might do a marathon next year.  

Yes, I said it here first: Even though a few years ago I said there was no way in hell I’d consider it…I am considering it. I might make my body go 26.2 miles under the power of my own feet, and try and do it in less than 7.5 hours. I think I might commit the next 12 months of my life preparing for that 7 hours of potential torture. I love running in the rain, so that will be a nice incentive to start this challenge.

I fell in love with the half at Long Beach International City Bank Marathon and I think I wanna go back and do the 26.2 there next October. It was my favorite half course out of the 5 that I did in 2010-2011. This plan will of course be pending aggravating my hip injury, but dammit, I don’t think I can get this out of my head now.  I think I have to do it.

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(Long Beach Half Marathon, 2011)

This is also the course where I walked the whole last 6 miles injured and haven’t run seriously since…so I understand this is an ambitious dream my body needs to get on board with. We are going to start with new shoes in October and go from there…but wow, I might say YES to doing this! Whoa.


I feel like I’ve been trying to write this for years.  


The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. – Richard Bach

I remember the first time Mom sat us down and said we should start calling you ‘Dad’. I am not sure exactly WHEN that was, because I can’t remember a time when you weren’t my Dad. In fact, I feel like I couldn’t be anymore your daughter if we shared blood. I hope you enjoy being my Dad as much I love having you in my life. You are the BEST DAD.

Thank you for everything you’ve given me Dad. I remember the fishing poles you gave us, and the golden scallop earrings that made me feel so special. I have the white shelf you built me still on my wall, and the doll you gave me is in the trunk at the foot of my bed. You also sent Kim and I to see Garth Brooks after we graduated from high school. I don’t remember if I ever said thank you for those things. I don’t know if I knew at the time how much the memories of that giving would mean to my life. It was the act, not the gift, that really matters in my memories. It is the love, kindness and lessons you have shown to me in my life that really matters in a big way.


I want you to know that I am proud of my life. Most importantly, I am extremely proud of the person I am. I know those may seem like not very humble things to say, but I think it’s important that you know how much gratitude I have for the influence you have had on this life that I’m so proud of. So much of who I am is because of you, and I want to thank you for that now too. You are in the music I listen to and in the way I look at the sky. I’ve been thinking about this so much lately and I wanted to share a list of some of my favorite memories, things that always remind me of you, or life advice from you that I live by.

In no particular order…here we go:

Life in Motion – Road trips, Volkswagen & Willie Nelson
“On the Road Again” is more than our family theme song, it’s our family motto, and a lifestyle.  Friends don’t understand that it is nothing to me to get in the car, crank up the tunes and drive the 500 miles between us on my own.  Being in the car was how I spent my childhood.  Or rather, I grew up in the back of a series of VW vans seeing fun and exciting places like Muskogee, Oklahoma — learning any place can turn into a story.  It was super cool to finally see the real “Mendocino County Line”, but it was even cooler when you and I got to go see Willie Nelson together.  You’ve taught me that life is better in motion, that there is a world to be traveled, and adventures to be had EVERYWHERE.  Whenever I am sad, I just get in the car, crank up the radio, and drive.

So much kite string, so many kites.  There was always at least a dozen under the seat in the van.  It was how we spent afternoons, and how we found our way home at the beach.  You took us to watch the kites at Ocean Beach, and showed us how many hours could be spent dancing a piece of plastic in the sky.  I can’t wait to have kids and teach them to fly kites.

The Traveling Circus Playlist
If there was a movie about this family, we clearly have already chosen our own soundtrack.  Beyond Willie, there is a whole collection of tunes that seem to bring back flashes of moments.  You gave me a musical foundation to build a lifetime on.

Who would have thought when you glued the radio dial on the country station as a kid that it would make a fan forever?  Perhaps Dad’s do know what’s best after all?  Well, I still can’t find love for ELO, but classic rock is a staple in my life. Thankfully you only assigned that tape to the ride to school one day a week, and my musical education expanded from there. I credit you with Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix finding their home in my collection even today.

“The Lime and the Coconut” song was sung so often by you and Mom, that when my best friend Kim wrote my first online dating profile, she made the ability to sing it on cue a requirement for my future partner.

When I was old enough to buy my own music, I had to seek out “You had to be there” from Jimmy Buffett, because no memory of the white van days is complete without that. I remember when we drove away from Livingston’s Chicken Shack in OB, headed to Missouri, with that in our tape deck, over and over, for 2000 miles.  Thank goodness it was a double album!

Holidays in our house were always music and movies, and it wasn’t an Easter or a Thanksgiving without Paul Simon’s Graceland making a play or two through. Every time I hear Kodachrome, I think of you. Last year when I was standing at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, I imagined you next to me rocking out and singing along.

Steve Miller Band and the Doobie Brothers
Going to this concert with you is one of the greatest memories of my life.  I don’t know how to say except that.  These two bands will forever churn up happiness inside me.  I feel like that was the night every thing changed.  That was the night that I really let you in as my Dayi.  I have felt close to you ever since.

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Blues Brothers & Major Payne
I think I have seen the Blues Brothers no less than 100 times, without exaggeration.  It never gets old.  I still find myself “Shaking a Tail Feather” around my living room a few times a year, just for old times sake, but it’s not the same as you quoting along to the movie and hearing your laugh.  I sometimes forget that not everyone has seen Major Payne, because it wasn’t exactly a hit movie.  “Want me to give you a little something to take your mind off that pain?”  When I say lines from it, people just look quizzically at me, and I always wish you were around because I know you’d get it.


Classic Cars & Corvettes
I remember ordering that first car from the Franklin Mint in college and making six different $38 payments like a rock star. It was the first time I “financed” anything an I remember when I called you to tell you that you actually owned it. It was all downhill from there, and now you have an entire bookshelf bursting . You have made a daughter obsessed with the fine curves of the ’72, but who wouldn’t pass up a Chevy Super Sport if someone gave her that instead. I will own a classic car someday.  (I imagine myself as one of those old people that travels around to car shows showing off my treasure.)  Bonding over cars and Corvettes has been so wonderful. It’s given me so many adventures to car shows, and made me an expert at scoring Hot Wheels cars on EBay.

The Ocean & The Sky
“There is no life east of I-5”. I can’t even recall the number of times I heard this growing up. It’s not like we lived on the Grapevine either. We lived where the coast to the freeway was only 5 miles. You taught me to appreciate the free beauty given to me every day.  Sunset Cliffs was our movie theater.  As an adult, I have been known to be a bit obsessive about sunsets, and frequently say I’m having a love affair with the California coast. I have also put on my list of requirements for my future husband that he not try and get me to move out of California unless it’s going to fall into the ocean.  Thank you for making us a coastal family.


Boats, Sailing and the America’s Cup
I don’t have a lot of friends talking about the America’s Cup this summer, but I’m in awe that it’s in San Francisco and I follow the news like the MLB standings.  I’ll never forget your red socks at South Bay boat yard, or seeing that beautiful silver cup up close.  I may still not like to be on boats, but I’m happy that I grew up around them.  Marinas, harbors, sail boats…they always make me feel close to you.


BBQ & Cooking
If girls look for guys like their Dad, I have clearly failed in my search for the master BBQ’er. Having a vegan boyfriend clearly wasn’t the pathway to having someone in my life that comes home from work every day and starts the coals to start me a steak for dinner.  But, I don’t know if anyone could ever match your talent for smoking a turkey on the BBQ anyway.  I’ll never forget calling you the first time I ever planned to make a turkey in the oven.  In fact, I’m pretty sure we called you about a dozen times that day.  You’re better than the Butterball hotline!  BBQing will always make me think of you, but you have been an excellent resource for many of my kitchen adventures over the years.  I still wish you had written your Macaroni & Cheese cookbook!

Ideas and Learning
You read the newspaper. You demanded silence when Dan Rather was on the television. You insisted on academic excellence. You exposed us to computers. I hated it all, but it laid the foundation for the hunger for knowledge that fills my every day. I am an information and news junkie, a data freak and a sociological people watcher.  Learning and ideas has become one of the main ways I connect with people.  It has given the ability to make a set of diversely intelligent friends that I often refer to as “The Brain Trust”.  It has helped me succeed in my job, and I’m often known for having ideas and absorbing knowledge like a sponge.  Every time someone compliments this in me, I silently thank you.

Pink Roses
When Mom and I came out of the grocery store on the day you dropped me off at college, there were pink roses in my seat.  You gave me flowers other times, but it is that moment that has made the memory I return to every time I see pale blooms anywhere.  Roses in general will always remind me of Balboa Park, and your diligent voluntary care of their garden.

“I’d rather you owe me than pay me.”
As I have gotten to be an adult, I have realized the value of this statement I heard you say over and over as a kid. I have witnessed how your life of kindness has been returned to you in random acts. I have tried to live a life of doing good without thought of immediate return, of giving to the world and knowing that if you are patient, the world will give back to you.  I have dozens of memories of the people who have lined up to do things for you big and small, all with stories of a once kindness you gave without expectation.  You’re just a nice guy Dad.  I watched you help people my whole life.  I watched you be nice to people.  I don’t have any memories of you being mean. This is the way I have tried to life my life too.  I appreciate you modeling this in how you interact with the world.  Even the last time I was home, listening to you talk on the phone to the lady at the hospital made me realize yet again why everyone loves you.

Life is hard, but it is worth living.
Your ongoing will to live just blows me away.  I’m just gonna sum it up like that.  I have friends that are pretty sure you’re going to outlive all of us.  The last few years, as you have continued to laugh and make jokes through all their poking, prodding and experimenting, you have also inspired me.  I’m a bit of wuss about a lot of things, but then I think about all that you go through and how much you seem to continue to laugh and not give up, it pushes me forward.  I road my 100 mile bike ride with a picture of this family.  I think about all the challenges that in the moment seemed dire and urgent, but were overcome to be in this place and I want to live bigger and harder.  It has given me patience for the hard times, knowing it’s a bad time, not a bad life.  My life has been so good.  All of the challenges are now stories about our life.  You are the best storyteller I know and I am so grateful that I have gotten to be a part of this story and to be part of your life.


Thank you Dayi.  Thank you for choosing me as your daughter.  Thank you for giving me a lifetime of memories, gifts and lessons to build on.  I think you are not only an amazing Dad, but an amazing man.  Thank you for helping me on this zany path of life.  I feel that no matter what the rest of my life brings, with this foundation, there is nothing that will stop me from finding a reason to laugh.

I love you.



Life is for strange adventures, rambling conversations and deep kisses…

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35 years old. 5’7″. Average Body Type. Blonde Hair. Hazel Eyes. Not Vegan.
Non-Smoker, Social Drinker, Well-paying career, Never Married, Wants 2 Kids, Has a Cat.

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A few facts about me:
I have feminine wiles without being sugary girlie.
I like the outside and camping, but aren’t what you’d call outdoorsy.
I enjoy museums, but don’t want to spend all day in them.
I value family and love my cat.
I’m sentimental and collect things.
I’ve run a bunch of half marathons and just completed my first cycling century with Team in Training.
Halloween and Mardi Gras are my favorite holidays.
Kissing is one of my most favorite activities in the whole wide world.
I love books and bookstores, but I watch a lot of TV.
I think snuggling in bed is an acceptable way to pass an entire weekend.
I enjoy live music and entertainment and try to attend as many events as possible.
I sing in my car.
I have a little community garden plot that I love dearly.
I meditate.
Bikram yoga is amazing, but I have awful balance.
I’m crafty and clumsy.
I try and constantly push the boundaries of my comfort zone, though sometimes that happens in inches instead of feet.

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A few maybes about you:
30-42 years old. Healthy. Omnivore.
Non-Smoker, Social Drinker, Good Career Path, Never Married, Wants Kids, Like Pets.
You might know a good joke. You love live music, are an excellent flirt and great kisser, might be a burner, like tickle fights as foreplay, own hiking shoes, have a favorite craft beer and will dance with me in the kitchen while we are cooking a new recipe.

Wanna go on an adventure?

“I hate my legs”

I had just finished putting on my bikini in Puerto Vallarta last week and was standing in front of the mirror adjusting all the appropriate bits. I wasn’t happy.

“I hate my legs.
“GIRL! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! You’re grounded!

That’s how I talk to myself sometimes, in case you were wondering…

Standing in front of the mirror, I took in the stretch marks and cellulite. The bruises and curves screamed out their imperfections. I was at least 20 pounds heavier than 2 years before when I stood in the same city to take in some beach time and I was dreading this minute since I booked the ticket. One of the reasons I didn’t go in December is that I thought I could do better than that for a beach body. Here I am 10 pounds lighter, and training for my first cycling century but it doesn’t feel better. It definitely wasn’t good enough or my best. Two years before I was on a path to run 5 half marathons in 15 months. I remembered I was fit then. I remember eating anything I wanted. I remember I got hurt and I stopped running and I gained 30 pounds. But almost immediately after I found myself wallowing in self-hatred with my statement above, I remembered something else.

At some point in that running year, I remember sitting in an ice bath following a race. I had just made my body go 13.1 miles on the power of my own legs and was using the torture of immersing my body in ice to heal myself. I remember looking down at my legs through the water. “I hate my legs” came out of my mouth that time also. It was bullshit then too.


My struggle with body image and an eating disorder is something that I’ve dealt with for a long time, and have never been very private about. I’ve been very lucky to have come a long way in the last 10 years since things were nasty and I wasn’t eating, but I will always carry with me some part of me that ties physical beauty to my value. “I’m a 7” I said in March when I was sizing up my potential luck on the dating market. I know I’m cute, and look rockin’ in a pair of tight jeans, but there has always been a part of me completely dissatisfied with my appearance and incredibly envious of those that I deemed better than me – prettier faces, cooler hair, expert style and makeup, curvier chests – anything I could minimize on me in contrast. Being introspective and fairly enlightened in a lot of things, I have always struggled with being able to identify very logically that my worth is not in my appearance, that I am more, and yada yada yada. But it has also always boggled my mind that I could equally acknowledge all of that as completely reasonable and then still hate what I was working with.

The day I was sitting in the ice bath, I was delirious, but I caught the irony of my statement almost immediately. How could I hate these pieces of my body that just performed beyond expectations? How blessed was I that I was able to put one foot in front of another for mile after mile? I made a mental note that I needed to write about this then. How ridiculous that I was focused on the external appearance in such a moment of triumph?! I’m an idiot. We live in such a fucked up world!

You would have thought that moment might have stuck with me. That maybe after having started training for this century race around Lake Tahoe and feeling the most accomplished I’ve ever felt in my life that I’d have some continued appreciation for my body. But no, that wasn’t the case. Instead, I found myself looking back over my shoulder and critiquing my curves and focused on the weight that I’ve gained since last time I’ve had to show that much skin publicly. GROUNDED!

I spent so much of my 20’s hating my body and when I look back now I hate myself for not appreciating that. What was I thinking hating that?! So I consciously know that when I’m in my 40’s, I’m going to be wishing for this. But I slip. It’s freaking hard being a girl. We get it from every direction. Even from ourselves. Sometimes you gotta check yourself.

I don’t hate my legs. That’s a bit of a silly thing to say. My legs have been fantastic to me. They are used legs. They are well loved legs. They are my best-loved legs. I am so grateful for them to have taken me on all these adventures all over the world. These legs have stepped foot on 3 continents. These legs have ran races, cycled mountains, balanced in bikram, driven miles, walked cities and danced in the desert. THESE legs. I don’t hate them. I actually really love them and think they are amazing. But I hate that I hate them.

I Can Survive.

Today I took the Wilderness Skills & Survival Clinic from Adventure Out here in Santa Cruz. I had been interested in the class for a long time and so when it came up on Groupon early last year, I snapped up the chance to get the opportunity to learn how to survive in the woods – for a discount! I like to camp, even by myself sometimes, but I’m not what you’d call outdoorsy. I have a serious lack of directional sense, and get lost with my navigation system, a GPS empowered cell phone and a glove box full of maps. (Yes, I still carry paper maps in my car because I am that paranoid about being lost.) It’s not like I have any serious plans to end up in the middle of the forest any time soon, but adding ancient skills to my collection of knowledge didn’t seem like a bad idea anyway.

As I was getting my stuff ready this morning, and we were gathering around waiting for everyone before hiking to the class site, I realized I was a little nervous. I think this class was just close enough to the edge of my comfort zone to make me a little anxious. I couldn’t put my finger on why until later when they handed me a big giant sharp knife and asked me to use a saw. I think the sharp things make me anxious. The “turn this square column of wood into a cylinder” part of the afternoon flashed that recently acquired helicopter insurance into my head. But I did it. In fact, I did it pretty confidently. Once I got started, I knew I had it. I had made all the parts of my bow drill fire kit and I was using it! We ran out of time right when I was finding my rhythm and starting to make a coal, but they let us take our kit home and I’m going to try practicing every day like he suggested until I get fire! I’m elated that I have started to learn this skill and that I made this fire kit:

Fire Making Supplies

I always used to say that I’m the chick they’d vote off the airplane on the way to start the taping of Survivor. I know that I wouldn’t make it to that pretty boat ride where everyone looks all clean and happy, they’d leave me on the dock. Today I feel a little less like that’s true. Maybe I am kind of outdoorsy? Before we even got the knives and started the fire kit, we spent the morning talking about single person debris shelters and building them in teams. The day also taught us about boiling water using rocks, creating a pot or other dishes out of logs using coals, and things we could eat in the forest. I’m super thankful for all this knowledge and think it’s crucial skills that human beings should learn and pass on so that we don’t lose. I don’t know if I am at a point in my existence on this planet that I’m going to purposely seek out activities where clubbing squirrels or eating grubs is even a small likelihood of happening. But, if my plane to Mexico crashes near some grass, I can totally tell everyone what part is good to eat.

I appreciated the attitude throughout the class that nature isn’t something to be feared. It’s not dangerous. It’s not “Man vs. Wild”. It’s just about being aware and understanding. I feel like I understand nature just a little bit better today. I don’t know if I’ll be rushing into Part 2 of the class where you do overnights, or where you talk about skinning things with sharp rocks. But I’m glad I know what I know after today and I really enjoyed being outside in the forest on a spring Sunday. What a neat thing to have done!

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.

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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!

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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 snappedinsin.com:

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.



I’ve had some weak moments over the past few weeks. It’s been an interesting trifecta of challenges in the personal, professional and family departments. I will readily admit there has been moments (sometimes whole days) of anger, sadness and disappointment. I confessed already that I feel things and I’m not shy about it. The loudest emotions lately have been the negative ones, but it’s really important to note that’s not all that’s been there. Actually, the last few weeks have been mostly filled with gratitude and hope. When I forget that I’m capable, my inbox and phone seems to flood with messages of encouragement and reminders that I am not alone. It’s been invigorating. It has not only kept me up, but pushed me forward with a new perspective. I find myself so excited about the potential of the amazing things to come in my life. I truly feel free and happy and on the right path. See when I’m not doubting, I really like my life, and I actually kinda like myself.  This is a really incredible place to be in and reflect from.  I am so grateful to be where I get to explore who I am now, and what direction I want to go next. I love my town, my career is in a phenomenal place, I’m working on positive relationships with amazing friends and family and there is SO MUCH TO COME.  This year is really going to be incredible.  So I may get angry or sad sometimes…it happens.  I have had some major losses in my life recently.  I’m totally allowed to feel things about those events.  But I’m really okay.  Promise.  I’m gonna make some things happen.  You just watch.