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  • Fear of Missing Out

    Hello, friends! I'm just back from a lovely, calm retreat in San Luis Obispo, where if I told you how little we did from an action standpoint, you would not believe I flew across the country to do it. I return to New Blighty with a strong urge to keep doing less. What could possibly get in the way? 

    FOMO leads either to doing too much or paralysis, and that leads to not being present, and that is, by definition, Missing Out.

    Well, we could talk about fear of missing out, or FOMO, because 1. that's what gets in the way and 2. soooo many of my clients have it. It's right up there with Fear of Becoming a Bag Lady (FBBL, let's pronounce that "Fibble," because why does this not have an acronym already? It's a universal fear, even amongst the wealthy, as just about any coach will tell you. Including tennis coaches.).

    But FOMO is much easier dispatched than FBBL (although you can totally overcome the fear of becoming a bag lady and enjoy life about 1,000,000x as much; let me know if that's something you want). Let's do it right now.

    Here's what I've noticed (another near universal). FOMO produces one (or both) of two responses: 

    1. You say Yes to everything, because you don't want to miss anything
    or 
    2. You can't decide between things, because you don't want to miss anything

    In the first case, we sign up for more than we (or anyone) can humanly manage. We oversubscribe, and wind up missing things we've paid for because we're exhausted and can't manage. Or if we drag ourself to yet one more thing tonight, we're too exhausted to be present. Or we're thinking about that other thing we're missing, or that online course we didn't complete, or whatever we just remembered we totally forgot about because we said Yes to so much other stuff. (So we add guilt on top. Yum.)

    In the second case, you don't overcommit, because you dither instead of committing, and events (jobs, boyfriends, other fine offers) pass you by while you're still trying to decide between them. 

    Either way, we're not present. Which is just another way of saying we miss out.

    Thus, put simply, FOMO leads either to doing too much or paralysis, and that leads to not being present, and that is, by definition, Missing Out.

    Here is what I am seeing in my life since before SLO (oh, hey: clue!) but even more during and since: I can go broad, or I can go deep. I'm gonna plant a flag and say it's impossible to do both. 

    Broad or deep: pick one.

    I'll miss out on many things if I choose deep. I'll miss out on other things if I choose broad. 

    But either way, I'll be missing out less than if I try to do both. I'm going to get more by saying No more often.

    Have thoughts?

    Leave a comment! I would love to know what you think.

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  • Wayfinder's Quest Post #122: Yet More Evidence for the Power of the Pedicure

    Coincidences (aka Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrades, aka signs of Forming)

    I made a couple small wishes recently, which both came to me. I wanted the issue of People with George and Amal on the cover, and I didn't want to pay for it, and I wanted a source of Noosa yogurt. Noosa is this very delicious, pudding-y yogurt from Boulder. You can get it anywhere in the West, but nowhere in New Blighty. Except - when I wasn't looking for it - I found one place, in Newbury Street, the fancy shopping district of Boston, at a little very unfancy but still totally overpriced market. They only carry the lemon flavor. I'll take a month's supply. Thank you, DeLuca's Market!

    What we are doing here:

    Treasuring ourselves.

    Dwelling in mystery. 

    Luxuriating in pleasure. 

    Seeking the hot tracks.

    Working magic.

    Glorying in the pageantry and spectacle of the phenomenal world, and gracefully negotiating the contradiction between revelry and spirituality. (If there is one.) 

    And: asking What else might be possible?
     

    Then I was at the dentist, where I spend many hours every week, and that seemed like a great place to find a relatively current issue of People magazine. I searched both racks carefully, but no. I sat down and was about to pick up something much more high-minded, I'm sure, when I saw a magazine facedown on the table next to me. I flipped it over and sure enough, George and Amal. (Dear heaven! Isn't she gorgeous?)

    So that is all not to say Holy shit, can you believe I manifested a copy of People magazine?! Or Hey, we can magically create whatever we want in our lives, no matter how improbable (because only one of those two things was improbable, obvs). And it's not to say that going through life, snapping our fingers (where finger-snapping is exercising whatever mechanisms we've found to work) to conjure little things we want, is the most satisfying way to live. 

    It's more by way of saying that if you're the kind of person whose oldest identified painful thought is "I NEVER GET WHAT I WANT" (and I know that I'm not unique in this), it's a very worthwhile practice to 1. gather evidence to the contrary - sometimes we do get what we want and 2. reverse the engine of suffering, and inch the train toward pleasure, when possible.

    Of course I am aware of all the respected spiritual, religious and intellectual thinkers who will tell you that a life based on the pursuit of pleasure is a hollow life. To them I say, today: HAVE A NICE SOLID LIFE THEN.

    Finally, this is improbable. As always, I am seeking connection. Last week I got my nails done before going to California, at the Newbury Street pedi-mill where I always go. I sat down with my current pink (Suzi's Got a Swede Tooth; how does a person get a job writing puns for nail polish, anyway?), looked up, and there she was, friend Marisa, even as I imagined her to be on the other side of the country. She was in town for a wedding, and had scheduled her afternoon down to 15-minute increments, and there wasn't room for tea or cocktails or anything - no opportunity for pre-planned socializing, but we were seated next to each other in this giant place, because that is where our manicurists had put us. Appreciation for friendship, spontaneous connection, and a good gab - yet more evidence of the power of the pedicure.

    Imagining

    I think I have mentioned my tooth, yes? During the Frognado, I lost 1.67 teeth. Two root canals. Two crowns. And an implant. The implant started out great guns. The surgeon thought my healing powers outstanding. I was hopeful. For ten long months while wearing a flipper, which is a plastic tooth that stays in your mouth by means of pink grips fitted anatomically pretty well to your gums, if you're lucky and have a great dentist, as I do, otherwise they can be a total blinking torment, but in any case are unlikely to be a first-rate flesh-color match, and so is pretty noticeable. Most people, excluding family members, were kind enough not to mention it. And it sure beats a giant whole in the mouth, especially for people with a big smile. Like me.

    Anyway, you're hanging in there with this awful flipper thing for ten months, feeling so happy when the dentist asks you if you want to keep it as she's doing the final crown fitting. No thank you! you say. You can throw that thing right out. Because do you want to even leave a symbolic door open? No.

    And then your implant gets infected and where are your exceptional healing powers now, eh? So my big wish: I really want this insanely expensive, very protracted endeavor to work out. The latest from my dentist is: Be even more patient! Give it a little more time. It's succeeding more than it's failing. 

    Oh, and we saved your flipper. Just in case.

    I guess that is something to build on. Succeeding more than failing. And if you want to send some tooth love, I will gratefully accept it.

    Updates on past experiments

    Back in the day when I had a regular menstrual cycle, before the advent of the miracle birth control known as Mirena, which suppresses all symptoms, and which I know some women don't like the sound of but to which I say Make mine a double!, I had about two days every month when I was on FIRE. I would be so revved up about life, and so full of juice specifically for organizing things, and I would get so much done.

    And the rest of the month, I would either be on the floor, exhausted by menstruation and all that that implies, or be kinda thinking How come I'm not firing at 100%? Because I failed to recognize that those two days a month did not represent 100%, they represented 867%. But "I" or some part of me, let's call her Letitia, declared those two days my "normal" state.

    It took me a long time to see that 1. Letitia really isn't helpful, at any time of the month. 2. That "on fire" state doesn't represent normalcy. 3. That even in my normal, not burning-up state, I actually got a metric boatload of stuff done, every day, as does every full-time-employed single mother on the planet. 4. "Productivity," hexsignhexsignhexsign, is a good servant but a terrible master.

    And now here I am, post-Mirena, noticing that though I no longer have a monthly cycle of days on fire, I do have an annual moment when I feel especially lit up by the idea of projects, and organizing, and Getting Things Done.

    That moment, of course, is September.

    It's a feeling shared by many Westerners, at least the kind who liked school, or at least the kind who liked school for at least the first couple weeks, before the novelty wore off and the pencils got dull. And we got to October, where we are today.

    And what I know about October is this: for me, October is a terrible time for planning, organizing, or Getting Things Done. October is an excellent time to be on the floor, maybe just reaching up for the low-hanging fruit. Looking forward to winter, and hibernation, and letting ideas and plans and whatnot gestate.

    Destination: Date night

    What has happened? Nothing fancy. We've been eating homey comfort food at home. Very Octoberish.

    1. Alden & Harlow
    2. Alinea (Chicago)
    3. Area Four
    4. Asta
    5. Battersby (Brooklyn)
    6. Beast (Portland)
    7. Betony (New York)
    8. Bondir Concord
    9. Brine
    10. Commonwealth
    11. Coppa (for brunch)
    12. Franny's (Brooklyn)
    13. Giulia
    14. Kirkland Tap & Trotter
    15. L'Espalier
    16. Myers & Chang
    17. No. 9 Park
    18. O-Ya
    19. Pok Pok Noi (Portland)
    20. Puritan & Co. (for brunch)
    21. Rialto
    22. Roberta's (Brooklyn)
    23. Scampo
    24. Shojo
    25. West Bridge

    Then there is a short list of places I shall not soon tire of, and always want to go back to:

    1. B&G Oysters
    2. Brick and Mortar
    3. Miracle of Science
    4. Sarma
    5. Sportello
    6. Strip-T's
    7. Toro

    That should keep us busy for a while, but please feel free to suggest additions.

    Join the experiment?

    You can report on your own Wayfinding experiments, if you like. Or discuss the lack of Noosa where you live. Or just say Hi.

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    The Self-Care Menu 

  • Faking it for fun

    So the other day I spoke on a panel titled "Life Cycle of a Job Transition" for Wellesley College (my alma mater). Someone mentioned in passing the tactic known as "fake it 'til you make it."

    Have you ever employed this little dance move? It always sounds so stressful to me. Like, do you get to just drop the fakery once you've "made it" (achieved your goal)? Wouldn't that be kinda… obvious? And then… aren't you kinda gonna get fired?

    Fake it til you make it. Unless you're having too much fun faking it to stop.

    Obviously, authenticity needs no advertising. Being genuine is just relaxing and feels better than maintaining appearances under stress, unless (important caveat) being real is inadvisable, and oh, golly, there's a lot to say about that. Still, do find value in faking it for fun.

    For example! I get a huge kick out of pretending to be married to someone who's made a mad fortune on the internet. A Silicon Valley mogul. I expect this is a common fantasy amongst the self-employed. 

    (I'm not poor, but you know, we live modestly. In New England, the place that practically invented modesty. Which apparently some part of me does not get very excited about.)

    And when I feel like putting on this identity, I like to go whole hog. This wife, she's got a name and everything. A whole backstory. If that freaks you out, don't read these details:

    Her name is Myfanwy Jones. She's married to mild-mannered internet multimillionaire Joe Jones, so she doesn't have to work. She can totally have sparkling wine at lunch, and sometimes she does. She's a successful serial mum. She appears to be a spoilt spendthrift. However, that is just her cover ID, because underneath, she is a slightly fanatical Welsh patriot with an unpredictable streak.

    Only that's fake, too! Myfanwy's political shtick is just there to throw the world off the scent of her much sexier kinks. To say nothing of her woeful lack of interest in actual politics.

    (NOT that we need defend our lack of interest in anything, or need to throw the world off the scent of our fabulous sexiness, or cover up the fact of our middle age - Myfanwy's clearly not fussed about that - if we don't want to. It's just fun to add an imaginary layer, the way it's fun to wear your most alluring skivvies on some random sunny Thursday, for no reason.)

    Anyway, if there is a day on which I get up and things just seem a bit … drab or maybe totally awful, I ask myself, well, What Would Myfanwy Do with this day?

    I guess you could say this is sort of like asking What Would Joan Jett Do? while adding What would Joan wear? Where would she have lunch? What might she want to read today? What's her schedule like, how is she going to totally subvert it? AndWho's she meeting after work? but subtracting Joan, and putting in your owncreation.

    These are all questions with the potential for playful, inventive, possibly even disruptive (in a good way) answers. No need to wait for rebirth in a better world. Embody it now. Try on a cover ID, for a day, very low stakes, and see if you don't acquire some new permissions, licences, skillz and possibly even superpowers. It's playful, and it's legit.

    And you know what makes this really fun? Doing it with a friend. You can text her the details of your cover along with a picture of your outfit and maybe your op or mission that day. (My friend Havi Brooks, who pretty much invented the cover ID, is genius with ops and missions; you might like to read more here.)

    This is also what my dress-up class, Into the Closet, is about. I recommend it!

    Have thoughts?

    Leave a comment! I would love to know what you think.

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  • Wayfinder's Quest Post #121: Come with me if you want to live


    This was parked outside my door yesterday. I wish for a ride in it. Take me to the apothecary, James!

    Coincidences (aka Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrades, aka signs of Forming)

    After a year of paying $1600 a month for COBRA coverage (thanks, ... Reagan? who knows), I now have new insurance accepted by no known pharmacy anywhere. Except one, which styles itself an "apothecary," so obviously: clue. Even so, this insurance company has trained me to expect prolonged experiences of no-can-do.

    What we are doing here:

    Treasuring ourselves.

    Dwelling in mystery. 

    Luxuriating in pleasure. 

    Seeking the hot tracks.

    Working magic.

    Glorying in the pageantry and spectacle of the phenomenal world, and gracefully negotiating the contradiction between revelry and spirituality. (If there is one.) 

    And: asking What else might be possible?
     

    So I was floored when the apothecary people were 1. nice 2. happy to take my crappy insurance and 3. conjured a hard-to-fill, usually-needs-24-hours'-notice order by pulling some strings (they don't even know me!). Not magic like a winning ticket, but magic in the form of unexpected kindness and ease when I really, really needed it

    Plus, this apothecary is itself a spontaneous upgrade in the form of what I am guessing is the world's only mortar-and-pestle museum. You know how liquor stores always have fake giant tequila bottles? This place has I cannot even tell you how many fake giant mortar-and-pestle sets. Zillions. Advertising props? Inherited from previous apothacary generations? Employee with ungovernable little eBay habit? I will ask next time.

    Imagining

    So many wishes. Actually, just a few, but they are big. Too big to write down (yet). They are all approaching life-and-death wishes. 

    I will just mention one, which is not life or death, but eyelashes. I am still on my quest for stripper lashes. Turns out that extensions just aren't worth it. My lashes are too short and fine to support them. Extensions can barely get me up to visible, and they're expensive, and they poke, and they fall out in clumps and they look stupid when that happens. So I am on to Latisse, which is a glaucoma drug that makes your lashes grow, and takes months to show a result. And it's also expensive. So I am imagining 1. it works well! 2. it works fast! 3. it makes my life a glittering pageant of wonder and delight!

    Updates on past experiments

    As so many people in the weight coaching field (vortex) are fond of saying, Self-care! It ain't about the pedicures. 

    In contrast, I always like to remind myself and suggest to clients that it's not NOT about the pedicures. And: If you're not getting pedicures, there are worse places to start.

    I was raised by Episcopalians, not Mennonites, so you might think that pedicures were my birthright. Not so. The idea of paying other people to maintain my body has a persistent flavor of really shocking indulgence. Like, the price is just so high, and I do not mean tax and tip. I mean going to Hell for having paid another person to give you sparkly red toenails. As if that's how the Devil will know to scoop you up. 

    Where does that come from? Were we Plymouth Brethren a few generations ago? I really do not think so, and yet it's peculiar, this thorough distrust of ornamentation and colorful toenails.

    Anyway, it's been a week of manicures, pedicures and haircuts. For the first time ever, I got dark, opaque pink fingernails instead of a nice prissy Episcopalian beige. I LOVE THEM. I had to pretend to be someone else in order to pick that color, but pretending to be someone else is just an excellent technique to play with, as anyone who has ever sincerely asked What would Joan Jett do? will tell you.

    My commitment to ferocious self-care this week has also resulted in lots of lying on the floor. I often wind up on the floor when things get hard, but something I've learnt from Havi is that if you add music and deliberateness to lying on the floor, you can rise up again excited instead of bleary. And glimpse your fabulous sparkly red toenails, and glory in them, and get up to dance, and when the Devil offers his hand to you and says Come with me if you want to live, you realize omigod, it's all a buncha lies and misconceptions and nearly everything I've ever been taught is wrong.

    Yeah, so, I am betting that you were not raised this way, but for me: Pedicures, holy shit! They are a miracle.

    Destination: Date night

    What has happened? Really nothing on the date front. We are, as one of my favorite writers, Kay Gardiner, once put it "sitting on a pile of unprocessed ... life experience three stories high," which for us is a death in the family, and thus have not been doing much recreational dining. We did inadvertently discover the world's best French fries at the Full Moon in Huron Village, and if I can dissociate that place from painful memories, I'll be back, but it may take a while.

    1. Alden & Harlow
    2. Alinea (Chicago)
    3. Area Four
    4. Asta
    5. Battersby (Brooklyn)
    6. Beast (Portland)
    7. Bondir Concord
    8. Brine
    9. Commonwealth
    10. Coppa (for brunch)
    11. Franny's (Brooklyn)
    12. Giulia
    13. Kirkland Tap & Trotter
    14. L'Espalier
    15. Myers & Chang
    16. No. 9 Park
    17. O-Ya
    18. Pok Pok Noi (Portland)
    19. Puritan & Co. (for brunch)
    20. Rialto 
    21. Roberta's (Brooklyn)
    22. Scampo
    23. Shojo
    24. West Bridge

    Then there is a short list of places I shall not soon tire of, and always want to go back to:

    1. B&G Oysters
    2. Brick and Mortar
    3. Miracle of Science
    4. Sarma
    5. Sportello
    6. Strip-T's
    7. Toro

    That should keep us busy for a while, but please feel free to suggest additions.

    Join the experiment?

    You can report on your own Wayfinding experiments, if you like. Or discuss eyelashes. Or just say Hi.

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    Letting my body run the show

    It does not take an army to hold me back. It only takes sugar and Chardonnay.

    Wayfinder's Quest Post #118: Navy Strength 

  • Wayfinder's Quest Post #120: Drive-By Chandelier


    Hug Point State Park, on the Oregon Coast

    Coincidences (aka Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrades, aka signs of Forming)

    The chandelier is my secret sign that I am on the right path. It's kind of like how spies might have left a big X in a window or something. Back in the clumsy old days. (I'll write more about this soon, because it's a very fun thing to play with, and I can't find the original post about it.)

    What we are doing here:

    Treasuring ourselves.

    Dwelling in mystery. 

    Luxuriating in pleasure. 

    Seeking the hot tracks.

    Working magic.

    Glorying in the pageantry and spectacle of the phenomenal world, and gracefully negotiating the contradiction between revelry and spirituality. (If there is one.) 

    And: asking What else might be possible?
     

    Anyway, I keep thinking about picking a new symbol, because chandeliers are really pretty common. And then something will happen like a new building will go up at the top of my street, and a chandelier shop opens in the flagship space.

    Or I'll be sitting down to brunch with Havi, discussing various spy missions, thinking how much more sophisticated and Bond-ly hers are, and how I really should upgrade from chandeliers to something like I don't know foo dogs or York roses, and then I'll look out the window, and there will be a huge chandelier in a specially constructed glass box in the back of a pickup truck, doing a drive-by of the restaurant, inches from my open mouth. Which happened this week.

    So that is why I stick with the chandelier. 

    Another coincidence happened while I was in Portland: I was thinking about my former neighbor David G, an accomplished musical saw player. One of the best shows I've ever seen was him accompanying the energetically anti-modern singer Elizabeth Butters. They did a lot of sad Appalachian murder ballads, to which the spooky, mournful musical saw is the perfect accompaniment. I was remembering that show, thinking It's really too bad you don't hear the musical saw more.

    The next day Mr Jones and I were strolling around downtown Portland and there she was, a busker with a musical saw. Second live musical saw of my life. And yesterday, a note from David, who I haven't heard from in months.

    Finally, when I first arrived in Portland, I stayed at a hotel downtown where the doorman told me that a number of new murals had gone up in the weeks I'd been away. He said his favorites were two in the Alberta district. Of course that's where I was going for the rest of my stay. When I arrived in Alberta that afternoon, I immediately saw one of the murals he'd been talking about. It was on the building I'd be working in all week.

    So there is this rule among shamans, or so they tell me, that you don't reveal the nature of your power animal to anyone. Which is KILLING ME because this mural depicted mine, with all the unnatural and peculiar aspects in which she appears to me, and I mean these aspects are UNUSUAL and oh! it's so frustrating not to be able to say this and this and this and this! and Can you BELIEVE IT?! 

    Anyway, it was by the far the most magical trip to Portland ever.

    Imagining

    Continuing my experiment with ferocious self-care, I had been writing reminders about it at the top of each day's diary page (the one where I put my appointments and notes; it's not really a contemplative journal). I have been having fun with this, so we have days like:

    • Oh, the Ferocity! 
    • The Voluptuous Ferocity of Self-Care
    • Continuing FEROCITY. Raaar!
    • Never More Ferocity Than Today
    • Not Even Ready to Stop the Ferocity of Self-Care

    Then I stopped the reminders a few days ago. And I noticed that was when the self-care levels dropped from ferocious to, well, let's say kittenish. I resist the idea of written reminders because HOW PEDESTRIAN. But all the while I gather evidence that written reminders are very powerful for me.

    Updates on past experiments

    None of you wrote to report known instances of builders saving marriages. I hope that's because you were content to read and contemplate, not because there are no documented cases of builders saving marriages.

    Anyway, I was in Boulder and then Portland* when Operation Mod Cons started in earnest. I was away for two weeks. When I came back a week ago, the builders were still working.

    And they are here today. It is rather hard to practice all the means of Ferocious Self-Care with them in the house. But! I am still married and my bathrooms are starting to look pretty beautiful. I put some foo dogs in the tiled window niche in the downstairs bath. They are meant for protection - ferocious protection - but one of the dogs looks terrified and the other one is totally faking it. I think they might have to go back to Foo School.

    Both dogs are cross-eyed. I figured Mr Jones wouldn't even notice them, but weirdly, he has kind of fallen in love.

    *I stayed at a place with a gorgeous kitchen, the renovation of which the host told me was the final straw for the previous owners' marriage. GAH.

    Destination: Date night

    What has happened? Mr Jones and I went to Beast in Portland for brunch and it was even better than I had imagined. Portland is full of people doing food at a really high level, as is well known, but it's really remarkable how young a lot of these people are.

    Beast is very tiny; I think it seats 32 people and has two seatings a night. There are no choices; everything is fixed (and it's not even a little bit vegetarian-friendly, which is unusual anywhere, but especially in Portland, so be warned). They have an open kitchen, which is just a corner of the dining room (which itself has only two big tables), so you can see the food being prepared - and dishes washed. I was watching the young woman assemble the salad course, carefully choosing greens for each plate, efficiently but without rushing. On another day I might have found it all too precious. But that day I was just really impressed with the combination of her youth and her seriousness.

    I worked in restaurants when I was in my 20s, too, and I didn't take my work anything like as seriously as the people you can observe everywhere in Portland. The kind of places I worked - Fred's Steak House, Dot's Diner (their real names) - did not teach lavish attention to the placement of salad greens on the diner's plate.

    Even so, I could have brought something more to my work. It makes me a little sad to have missed the wave of It's OK to Take Food Seriously, because when I was in the biz, the job was mostly something to be ashamed of. To that girl at Beast: RESPECT.

    I t's worth planning a couple months ahead to get a reservation there. It's a very beautiful and comfortable room, and the food was perfect. It reminded me a lot of Prune. Just lovely.

    1. Alden & Harlow
    2. Alinea (Chicago)
    3. Area Four
    4. Asta
    5. Battersby (Brooklyn)
    6. Beast (Portland)
    7. Bondir Concord
    8. Brine
    9. Commonwealth
    10. Coppa (for brunch)
    11. Franny's (Brooklyn)
    12. Giulia
    13. Kirkland Tap & Trotter
    14. L'Espalier
    15. Myers & Chang
    16. No. 9 Park
    17. O-Ya
    18. Pok Pok Noi (Portland)
    19. Puritan & Co. (for brunch)
    20. Rialto
    21. Roberta's (Brooklyn)
    22. Scampo
    23. Shojo
    24. West Bridge

    Then there is a short list of places I shall not soon tire of, and always want to go back to:

    1. B&G Oysters
    2. Brick and Mortar
    3. Miracle of Science
    4. Sarma
    5. Sportello
    6. Strip-T's
    7. Toro

    That should keep us busy for a while, but please feel free to suggest additions.

    Join the experiment?

    You can report on your own Wayfinding experiments, if you like. Or discuss foo dogs. Or just say Hi.

    You might also enjoy

    Wayfinding Week 24: Accordions are the new chandeliers

    Wayfinder's Quest Post #112: Danger! Not OK!

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shaman sessions

MBI Books & Resources

Into the Closet class