Let’s Get This Party Started: Unique Birthday Rituals!

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It is after midnight in New York City,
the Empire State Building is pure white like a sparkling diamond
and it is my BIRTHDAY!
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What a fantastic year of adventure it has been…
thank you for coming along this wild ride with me.

I’ve got two unique birthday rituals that I made up and that I love to do every year and I wanted to share them with you.

1. The Three Roses.

Every year, I buy myself three gorgeous full red roses on the day before my birthday.

This year, I took the petals of the first rose and put half of them in a gorgeous candlelit bath for myself, and the other half of the petals are strewn all over my bed, ready for me to sleep in.

Waking up in rose petals for your birthday? DELICIOUS.

The second rose I put in a beautiful vase that I can look at during my day.

And the third rose I hand to a stranger on the street.

With the Three Roses Ritual, I can honor myself for another gorgeous year of adventure in this body of mine.  I celebrate my spirit and this wild life in the city I love the best.  AND I get to pass along that joy of the roses to someone else – surprising someone on the street is going to make my day!

2.  Making A Wish On The Empire State Building.

Every night at 2am, the Empire State Building flickers off.

One night the idea struck me on my birthday to climb up to my roof and make a list of wishes….

and then face towards the Empire State Building

make my wishes and then “blow” the building out.

It is the most beautiful candle on the cake of this gorgeous city that I adore.

Want to wish with me?  Just play this:

As I write this, I have 20 minutes to get out on the roof before I blow the Empire State Building out tonight to start my birthday off right.

What rituals do you do for your birthday?
Share in the comments!

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Bruce Jenner, Transgender and Why This Relates To All of Us

bruce-jenner-interview-i-am-a-womanThe most courageous thing that we can do, is be our true selves.

After last night’s incredibly moving interview with Bruce Jenner, one thing she said really hit home for me:

“We still identify as female…and that’s very hard for Bruce Jenner to say….and because why? I don’t want to disappoint people.”

Bruce Jenner held to this secret for 65 years to not disappoint others.

No matter who you are,

no matter what your current situation in life is,

let me ask you this…..

Have you ever denied and shut down your true self because you didn’t want to disappoint others?

I have.

And what Bruce said is the common thread of so many of our journeys in life.

Bruce Jenner has the bravery and honesty to speak out, to boldly be herself, and in doing so, will help others around the world who struggle to be themselves on many different levels.

Confession:  I have and have always had tremendous shame around my sensuality.

I don’t know where it comes from, or why….but for years, I would push my sensual side down, and bury it within me, unexpressed, because I felt like me being my true sensual self would cause people to judge me harshly, think bad thoughts about me, and shun me.

So I hid and shoved it down and did the things I was supposed to do – until that one day the rottwelier attacked me in the face and it made me realize I was living my life for the approval of others and not for myself.

And a year after that, I stood on the stage of the original Slipper Room, in sparkles, 1940s vintage leopard print, black fringe and slowly pulled everything off to the music.  For one of the first times in my life, I felt like I revealed the true me for the 3 minutes the song played.
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Because life is too fucking short to hide too long
and hiding our true selves is too painful.

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Now my own personal story is NOTHING compared to what courage and bravery Bruce Jenner and our transgender friends have to go through.

But let’s think on this….let’s think about the example that Bruce put out there to the world….

fuck shame.

Let’s be kind, gentle and understanding to each other.

In all our own ways, we currently hide, or have hidden, from what we felt like would disappoint others about our true selves.

It’s time to come out…

and shine.

It is our responsibility to do this.  It is our responsibility to stand boldly in all that we are….

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so others will know they are not alone, so others will have the courage, too.

Courage is contagious.

Thank you, Bruce Jenner, for making a difference with your voice and your example.

Thank you TO ALL who fight to be their true selves.

This burlesque stripper stands with you in pride.

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My House Burned To the Ground 4 Years Ago: 3 Tips To Get Through Tough Times.

Our Enchanted Cottage on our Wedding Day:
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Our Cottage 4 years ago today:
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My soul felt like the above picture for months.
I was just as destroyed on the inside
as my home was.

Here are 3 things which had to happen for us to make it through.
And they might help you when you’re going through hard times:

1.  A Clean Slate.

In any situation, a break-up, the loss of a job or friendship, and especially in the loss of our home – it’s hard to move on while staring at the remains of what used to be.

You can’t move forward if you’re only looking behind you.

When something bad has happened, allow yourself to mourn for a little while, but give yourself a deadline day to make a clean slate and to start over again.

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Real Life Story

For two months after the fire, our house was a pile of black ash with one mint green wall standing.

Every day, I would drive there and sit in the burned frame of my bed and look out of the window that remained….looking out that same window I had looked out of for years of my life.
Then it was the same thing, over and over, I would dig and dig in the rubble trying to find anything.
I was half crazy.

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The last photo of me in my home.  It was leveled to the ground 12 hours later by a bulldozer.

The day the bulldozer came to level what remained,
I felt like I was going to die.
My life was 7 dumpsters of wreckage
to be carted away.
Ashes of childhood stuffed animals,
my Grandma’s jewelry and magic things,
years of personal journals and books.

But the next day I came back.
The ash and charred rubble was gone.
There was new earth, an open field, a clean slate.
I could finally see more than burned remains,
I could see more than what was,
I could see the potential for what could be,
and I felt like there was a glimmer of hope on that land for the first time since the fire.

There is no place for a bright future when you are standing knee deep in the ashes of your past.

2.  Get Active In Your Future.

Focus on new and good things. Rather than waiting, make your future.
Take action.
What do you want to do now?
Who do you want to be?
See a bright future and head towards it – one step at a time.

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Real Life Story

Burke dealt with the loss of the house by buying a can of PlayDoh and sculpting his ideas for what the new home could be. He was just as destroyed as I was over the fire. He was afraid if he sunk too deep in the darkness and ashes, he wouldn’t be able to climb out, like quicksand. He knew he had to keep moving.

As he formed a new home in PlayDoh, it occupied his mind, charged his creativity and kept him afloat.
Burke’s PlayDoh House that he molded right after the fire:

Burke's playdoh house.

The Finished House:
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3. Get Out There in the World.

Immerse yourself in the world, find positive people, and interact.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Don’t just invite a friend over to mourn what has passed.
Force yourself to hang out with people – go dancing, go to a party, go OUT, take class, volunteer – even when you don’t feel like it. Chances are, once you get there, you’ll be grateful you did. Being around others, listening to others, sharing common interests, and discovering new things will help get your mind off past sadness.

Real Life Story

A handful of days after our house burned to the ground there was a big celebration for dear friends of ours. We didn’t want to let them down by not showing up, and at the same time, we didn’t want to bring the party down by being there. It wasn’t easy, but we went. The first few minutes were the hardest – I wanted to run away. But after a moment, seeing good friends and being surrounded by a positive social environment helped me so much. The day was a positive distraction from my sadness and the good effects of the day were lasting.

Here’s a picture of us at that event – sticking together and finding hope in each other and our friends.
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I will never forget how much you all of you on this online community did for us. Your support, letters and love kept us going more than you’ll ever know.

If you’re going through a hard time out there – remember you’re not alone and there is hope.
Don’t give up.
Better days will be headed your way.
Trust me on this one.
I’ve been down many a crooked road and I know this to be true.

Today at 5:45pm, Burke and I will be holding hands on the rock in our backyard, just like we do every year to send good thoughts back to our old selves in 2011 who were dealing with a really hard time.

Here’s the post where I talk about the special ritual we do every year since the fire.
I put my heart into writing it and I know it can help you, too.

Sending out my love to all of you –
and if you know someone that might need this today,
please share.

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How To Not Die Of Boredom: 3 Solid Tips!

adventureRight now, before you do anything else…..
check the last 5 statuses you’ve put out to the world on Facebook or Twitter.

What do you see?

Now tell me…if you didn’t know you….would you want to hang out with you based on what you’re putting out there?

Would you think you were an exciting or adventurous person?
Or would you think you were angry or bored?

Every day can be a wild adventure if we want to see it that way.

Like that one time that Contessa and I were super depressed, so we threw on matching cheerleading outfits and ended up owning NYC….

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Here’s 3 Easy Tips how to turn things around:

1. Seek Out The Story.
You know that boring ass question everybody asks in the beginning of a conversation:

“So….How have you been?”

Your answer doesn’t need to be boring.
Live your life so you can answer that with something that will make them turn their heads or lift their eyebrows.

How do you do that?

I mean….I trespass abandoned places and pick up hitchhikers going to festivals – but you don’t have to get that crazy….

 

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2.  Dare Yourself To Do Something Out Of the Ordinary.
It’s so easy to get caught up in a routine.
It’s so easy to just go out into dinner and then just come home and think of that as a night out.

Do something weird, throw something crazy in the mix, put yourself out there and figure out something a little bit more interactive or fun to do.

TIP:  On tour with Emilie or when Burke and I were living out of a van for a month, no matter how big or small the city we went to was, we’d always hit the independently owned coffeehouses. They almost always have a bulletin board up with shows going on, open mic nights, poetry slams, spelling bees, stitch and bitch circles, meet-ups. If we had a day off, we’d go to one of those posted flyer event things and we had an adventure EVERY TIME.

DARE: Go to your local coffeehouse or bookstore, check out the bulletin boards for events and happenings….go to one.

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That time I lived in a van for a month and went on crazy adventures.

3.  A True Adventure Isn’t Over Until It Ends Positively.

A series of events that end negatively are called disasters.
A series of events that end positively are called ADVENTURES.

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During a NYC blizzard that had completely covered my car to look like a snow mobile, I spent about an hour digging my car out to get to a gig.

I was over it. My coat was too thin, my car wasn’t working well, and I was about to risk my life to get to a gig that was going to have four people show up. Half way there, I realized in all the craziness of leaving, I didn’t have my music with me and then had to play Burlesque Roulette by dancing to a song I never heard of before.

All of the above spells disaster.

But fuck that, I didn’t want a disaster. I wanted an adventure.

That song that the DJ put on that I didn’t know?
Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You” – which I then incorporated into doing a number to which I still do to this day.

And – the night ended with me and another burlesque girl getting into a snowball fight on the street with some random strangers. We won.

Then we drove home back to Brooklyn together, sliding all over the place on the road and singing along to cheesy Christmas songs and throwing glitter all over.

Now that was an adventure.

Just by changing my attitude about the night….I rode out the disaster phase of the evening into some awesome adventures!

This calls for my favorite Gizmo picture when we passed out on a hotel hallway together.  Must have been that whole eating after midnight thing….

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What do you do to escape boredom and have a wild adventure of a life?

Tell me in the comments – and SHARE PICTURES.  I want to see.

Happy Monday!  If you enjoyed this post, please pass it on.  xoxox

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The Epidemic of Domestic Violence: What To Do and How To Create A Safety Plan.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 6.02.37 AMToday is Youth Homelessness Matters Day…and I’m so very proud to have guest blogger, Sarah from the We See Magic blog, return to the Danger Diary to share her tips and experience as a former homeless teen.

Using knowledge and inner courage, we can take our power back, and also help others.
Sarah has done both.
If you know someone who is in trouble or in an unsafe situation, there are options.

Please SHARE this for people you think might need it – as we all fight together.
Welcome back, Sarah!
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Sarah: This time last year I shared my experience in “17 and Homeless” , to highlight the importance of Youth Homelessness Matters Day.

I was blown away by how many of you commented with messages of love and support, and shocked by how many of you shared a similar story.

The fact is, the leading contributor to homelessness is domestic violence.
Secrecy, threats and silence means abuse often goes unreported. Often, when we do disclose, we are not believed. When this happens, sometimes suicide and homelessness can feel like our only option.

We are not strangers to you. We are your neighbors, your friends, your tribe – and you are not powerless in making a change.

The problem doesn’t just lie in our homes,
it lies in our reaction.
People experiencing abuse are often threatened, scared or feel extreme guilt over what is happening to them.
‘Telling’ somebody can be the most difficult thing to do…
but it is also the first opportunity to make change.

The most important things you can do to help somebody to reclaim their life and to empower them to take the first steps towards safety are:
listen

believe in them

be there to support them.
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But how?

First you need to know what domestic violence looks like, and understand how to help somebody (including yourself), if you feel like you or somebody you know may be feeling unsafe at home.

You are never alone. You are never stuck. There is always a new world waiting. You deserve to feel safe. It is never your fault.

This is how you can make a change.

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What Is Domestic Violence?

1800RESPECT says:  Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour shown in an intimate relationship over time, that puts one person in a position of power over another.

To me, domestic violence is about a power play, it may act as emotional abuse (name calling, put downs, disrespectful treatment), isolation (from your family, community or even stalking your phone or facebook accounts), physical attacks (choking, beating), acts of sexual violence, stalking or monitoring, psychological abuse or gaslighting (denying abusive behaviour ever occurred or blaming the person being abused for being mentally unwell), financial abuse, preventing somebody from holding a faith or spirituality (or forcing them into one), threatening harm to loved ones (including pets or children), or legal abuse (threatening to exploit, intimidate or disempower).

The short version is:

If you feel ongoingly unsafe at home, it is not okay. You do not have to stay stuck in that situation. You do not deserve it. It is not your fault. It is abuse, and you, are a survivor.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Somebody Experiencing Domestic Violence

DO – believe them. Take their fears seriously. Always. You may be the only person they have trusted enough to tell.

DO – research, find out what you can about support services in your area, work out who can help support both the person experiencing domestic violence, and you as a support person. You are not alone.

DO – help them to create a safety plan (more tips on that later)

DON’T – victim blame. Violence is never okay. Never blame the victim or minimize the abuser’s responsibility for the abuse.

DON’T – rush the process. It can be tempting to try to pull them out, but remember that there are often a lot of complicated feelings around abuse. Abusers love power play, and often, people experiencing domestic violence still love their abusive partner/parent, or have other reasons to stay. Don’t try to rush their process or feel as though you know how to help them. Instead, listen to what they want and need from you.

DON’T – feel as though you are alone. Try as much as possible to help your friend to connect with other support services, go with them and hold their hand through the process if you need to.

DON’T – feel guilty if something happens. You are not responsible. All you can do is be there.

One of the most powerful things anybody can do whether they are feeling unsafe at home, or know somebody is, is knowing that they are prepared to leave if they need to.

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How to Make a Safety Plan

(If you are helping somebody to create a safety plan, start by listening. The person experiencing abuse is the expert on her/his situation. Try to understand the risks, and what s/he already does to increase safety. Keep in mind that there may be multiple perpetrators or people who will support his/her abuser. Remember that it is not your job to judge or make decisions. Leaving is not always a safe option. Trust and empower.)

Part 1 – Making ‘Home’ Safe

 Make a list of places you can go if you need to get out.

  Know your house and where you can go if you feel unsafe. It could be by locking the bathroom door, or knowing there is a low window in your bedroom.

  Keep a list of support numbers, including trusted friends and family, in your wallet.

  Create a code with a trusted friend or family member, so that if anything happens you can easily access help fast. An example could be ‘I’m going to be running 11 minutes late tomorrow’ is code for ‘please come pick me up’ or ‘22’ is code for ‘call the police’. Make it something you can type quickly.

  Have your own prepaid mobile so you can stay in touch with people.
Create an escape plan.

  Figure out your coping mechanism. It could be reading, watching movies, doing yoga, walking the dog – know what it is and practice it on the daily. You deserve it.

Part 2 – Creating a Network

  You are not alone. Write a list of people you can trust and their phone numbers and emails. Include your doctor, counsellor, friends/family, local shelters, crisis support lines and anybody you feel you can talk to.

  Reach out to them. Ask them to be a part of your network. Let them know where you’re at and what you need from them. Trust yourself.

Part 3 – The Escape Plan

  Make a list of places you could go if you needed to. It could be a safe house, a shelter, a friend or a cheap hotel.

  Have a list of support numbers. Post your area and crisis support number in the comments and help other people connect. Include numbers of local taxi’s and police stations.

  Have a bus ticket, spare change, and some cash ready to go. Keep it with you at all times.

Pack a backpack with essentials, a change of clothes, spare medication scripts if you need any, important memories, your birth certificate/passport/important paperwork and ID, your phone charger, some muesli bars, the bare essentials that you absolutely can’t be without. Ask someone you trust to keep the bag for you in case you need it, or, if you have access to a gym/school/uni/work locker, consider keeping it there.

Useful Contacts

In Australia:

1800RESPECT – call 1800 737 732 or talk to someone online at www.1800respect.org.au

In America:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – call 1800 799 7233 or visit www.thehotline.org

PLEASE add your own country and support hotline in the comments!

Please share this for people who might need it.  We can all make a change together.

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How Would You Respond?

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I am a curious thing.

If you have spent any time with me in real life, or if you’ve ever taken a class with me… then you know, that asking questions is MY JAM.

And I’m not talking about what you think about the weather questions.

I like to dig.

When the New York Times covered an article about the 36 Questions To Make Anyone Fall In Love With You… I breezed through them and thought they were interesting, but they needed more imagination.

I like story questions, hypothetical questions.
I think they disarm the person I’m asking, and the person tends to answer more honestly than if I just delivered a straight question.

On my Facebook page, I used to ask a Danger Diary question of the week, and it was one of the most popular regular posts that I ever did.

And you answered honestly.
And I got to know more about you.
And maybe you got to know a little bit more about you, too.

Burke is working on a show, and he gave me 15 personal questions to answer so he could develop a customized photoshoot for me based on my answers.

I realized that their were questions he asked that seemed like I had a “standard” answer to, but when I really looked at them, I realized over time, my answers had changed.  And I liked the reasons why.

I’m going to try a new feature here on Mondays called Danger Diary Question of the Week.

We can start off the week, with an intriguing trigger to the story of you.

Use the hashtag #dangerdiaryquestion on Twitter so I can find your answers, or you can answer below……

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My answer?
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I’d live among the ghosts of the famed Chelsea Hotel.
I’d be in good company.
On the legendary hallway walls, I’d scrawl my diary and my stories and old spells from my Grandma Helen.
I’d sleep in the pyramid on the very top of the Chelsea and on summer nights, I’d drag silks and pillows to the observation deck of the Empire State Building 11 blocks away and sleep under the stars watching the quiet, lit city below.

Now it’s Your Turn.
Where would you live?

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How To Get Your Life Back On Track….And Be The Hero Of the Story.

Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.jpgBehold!  Everything you ever needed to know about life explained by these Choose Your Own Adventure books.
(What in the tripped out cartoon hell is going on in this cover?)
Ah, the gems hidden in these pages.
If you aren’t familiar with them, this is what happens….

The book starts and gives you a little bit of story, and then it gives you options, for instance “If you decide to use the key to open the secret door, turn to page 15″ or “If you choose to ignore the key and pick up the magic wand instead, turn to page 42.”

The book keeps giving you choices and decisions to make just like life.
It offers 40 possible different endings.
There’s high stakes in these books, half of the endings have you dying by being swallowed by dragons, sea monsters or aliens, and then a few of the endings have you throwing your body into a huge room of rare gold coins and jewels pillaged by pirates that now all belong to you.

I wanted what the pirates had.

So rather than take a chance of being charbroiled by a dragon, by some bad decision making, I did what the pirates would want me to do…..

I cheated.

I would flip through the book and find the last page of each of the 40 endings and decide which ending I wanted the best.

I then would go backwards from ending to beginning to see the right choices that I was supposed to make to get to the ending I wanted best.

This is how I live my life now.

Want to do this with me?

One – you’ve got to know what one of your endings is.  And by that I mean, what is one of your ultimate fantasies or goals?  What is one “destination” of where you want to be?

For instance, eight years ago, one of my goals was to do burlesque and make a living at it.

I imagined my ultimate fantasy….I imagined touring all over the world, I imagined being able to perform almost every night.

Two – then you take the story backwards….

how would I get from my ultimate fantasy of burlesque to where I was 8 years ago?

It would go something like this…..

Tour the world.

Get on television doing burlesque.

Get a regular gig in NYC, and find my burlesque home.

Teach Burlesque.

Get to know the burlesque community and producers, and get corporate gigs and private parties.

Reach out to people and get burlesque gigs in NYC.

“Kitten” (pick up performers’ costumes off the stages) to get practice on stage.

Come up with routines.

Take a Burlesque Class.

By knowing what your wildest dream is….you have a destination.

Go backwards to see the little places you have to hit along the way to get to that goal.

Then it makes your journey more clear and less ambiguous.

Now you’ve got your steps outlined and you can pick the right choices to move forward and get to the destination that you want.

And sure….sometimes there’s going to be an unexpected dragon.

But you’re a badass.  And I believe in you.

Your story doesn’t end until you say it does.

And PS.  You are the Hero of the Story.

Act like it.
And OWN IT.

Have an awesome weekend.  I love you guys.

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