MY LESSONS FROM BURNING MAN 2016
Just getting back to the default world from Burning Man 2K16…what a week filled with revelations, release and a deep understanding of the concept of “why is this happening for me” vs “why is this happening to me”.
Had a pretty busy one this year with 3 DJ sets and 2 talks, not to mention a Playa wedding, catching my fave DJ friend’s sets and a Playa Shabbat dinner. Burning Man is meant to be mostly whimsical yet I admittedly enjoyed a little structure to my days…
I have to also express that I was beyond pleased to know that SO MANY women on the Playa were wearing THINX (!!!) and wanted to share their experiences with them, so thank you endlessly for sharing your period stories, each time it gave me full body goosebumps and made my day. To think that a year ago, barely anyone knew what THINX was on the Playa…#grateful
But really, Burning Man isn’t all about the “YAYYY!” experiences (as #grateful as I was for them) as much as it’s about the deep lessons.
After much reflection, here are my deep lessons from this year that I will take with me in the default world:
- I pinched a nerve in my back before I got there (likely from flying to 5 cities on our THINX Taboo Tour before the Burn and getting very little sleep) and was laid up for 3 days straight with shooting pain down my legs — until Dr Alfredo (playa name “The Sauce”) came and saved me with his osteopathic technique and released the tight-rope-like muscles in my back that was pinching the nerve. Anyway this part wasn’t the lesson. Because of my sensitive back, I had to wear flat shoes the entire week, and not my standard flatform wedges. And through this experience of only wearing flat shoes for the entire week, I truly embrace my petiteness. My whole life, I’d get “you’re so little”, “you’re so short”, “you’re like a midget” (I am 5 foot 1) yadayadayada and it was annoying and always seemingly mean-spirited but after this week, I realized that when people say that, I can a) take it as a compliment (ie. “How adorable am I right!?”) and b) understand that it comes from a place of insecurity on the other person’s side if that’s all they can muster and/or say. Everyone comes in all shapes and sizes and I wholeheartedly embraced my petite size at this Burn. I feel great!
2. My fiancé @itsandrewhorn (I just love saying “fiancé”!) and I had a great cry together about our deep fear of failure. We both went really (like reallllly) deep for the first time with each other and shared how truly scary it is to build a business from scratch — for me with the restaurants and THINX mainly and for Andrew with Tribute. In Dec 2014, THINX was $60K in the hole, we had a leaky company culture and I didn’t know how we would keep the lights on slash make payroll and had to confront the scariest thought that we may have to shut it down. My stress appeared as an acute hyperthyroid condition and my mental stress was affecting my physical health which was terrifying. It took restructuring my company, eliminating the negative people from my work and personal life, seeing a life coach (happy to connect you, she’s ah-mazing), starting a gratitude meditation practice, really honoring my diet (95% no sugar, gluten or dairy), making sure I exercised as least 2–3 times per week, getting massaged at least every other week, taking vitamins daily (did you know most people are vitamin B12 and D3 deficient?) putting reminders in my phone 4 times a day to take 3 long deep breaths, and sleeping at least 7–8 hours a night to fully heal myself. I went from taking 4 thyroid pills a day to 1/2 a pill a day (and reducing even from there) with my T3 and T4 levels fully back to normal — along with a healthy, growing business with a family-like, happy, non-shit-talky culture. It took 2 hard (seemingly looooong) years and a deep daily practice to get to this place. So after Andrew and I had a good long cry, I felt extremely proud of how far we’ve come both individually and professionally.
** I also very much acknowledge that so much has to align for a company to succeed (right product at the right time with the right team with the right opportunity with the right lucky press breaks)… so I sat in deep gratitude at this Burn too with this knowingness.
3. I went to the Temple (this year it was a stunning pagoda-like structure) for my annual reflection. It’s a place that is the perfect balance to the dancy, fun, upbeat vibes of the rest of the Playa. The Temple is a place to mourn, to give thanks, to sit in meditation, to release. This year was particularly poignant because I had Dan Fredinburg’s ashes with me to release. Several of our friends sat in a circle, cried, laughed and shared what we will each carry forward from knowing “The Raptor” (Dan’s Playa name). For me, Dan inspired an endless sense of adventure and what I like to call “break it till you make it” mentality. He was unafraid to break things and push through things that society deemed uncouth. I loved him for giving me that before he passed onto the next realm at the tender age of 33.
A memorable moment that happened was that we were supposed to release ALL of his ashes, and part of me secretly wanted to keep some. I didn’t want to let him go… And then, as it always does, Burning Man re-reminded me again to truly embrace impermanence. We are all here for such a short amount of time, we may as well live as lit up as possible and know that there is a clear end for all of us. Dan will remind me of this for the rest of my life, knowing that he died doing what he loved: attempting to summit Everest — the greatest adventure and challenge of his life. He will forever be at peak gorgeousness, at peak physical shape, at peak lit-up-ness, at peak brilliance to everyone he knew. Kudos to him to leaving on the highest high (literally) (’cause he was on Everest) possible. I love you Dan, I know that holding onto your ashes won’t add to my memory of you. See you as a butterfly soon.
4. Andrew and I went to the Orgy Dome to try and conceive for the first time ever. We just got engaged 2 weekends ago so what better time than to get baby making going! What was SO wild was that I really wanted to conceive on the Playa but I was supposed to ovulate the week before Burning Man. For whatever reason, my period was a week late, making my ovulation window during the week of Burning Man! The Playa Gods delivered once again! And what better place to attempt conception than the Orgy Dome? The Orgy Dome was another deep lesson on how to release the idea of being self-conscious, specifically in the sexual department.
There were 2 sections in there, one that was just for couples to engage in sex in front of other couples without inviting anyone in, or the other section where couples could invite in other couples. Before entering the actual Dome, I was very pleased to have to go through a whole lesson on consent and the “I don’t care if you’ve been together for 5 years or 2 days, in this space, you must get consent at every point”. We chose the “no other couples” section and chose a bed in the middle of the room (aka in the middle of the action). We laid a towel down (’cause Orgy Dome) and then Andrew blessed my chakras and then had a beautiful experience. I cried after the “conception moment” reflecting on how the past 5 years have been with Andrew and how f-ing blessed I am to have his partnership. There were other couples around us, all making their own unique sounds and enjoying their own “favorite positions”. I felt close to Andrew for intimately knowing how I loved to be touched — it took 2 years to get there but now we get to reap the fruits of our labor.
Speaking of Labor, I have to tell ya, the thing that entered my mind after really putting the “we’re going to make a baby” thing in the ethers, I started having scary thoughts. What if the baby is unhealthy? What if it’s a still born? What if labor is messed up? I started getting pretty terrified. I know it’s totally like anything else: the unknown is so scary. But why do these thoughts have to come up so quickly? All I want is a healthy baby and so instead of channeling that, why am I already going right to the scary stuff? I think it’s because as animals, we always prepare ourselves for the worst. I think it’s just nature to do it but damn, couldn’t it have waited? I guess the lesson here is that now that we are entering the next chapter in our lives (the baby makin’ one), I need to honor my body as best as I could and breathe through the experience. Being a pregnant CEO of a growth company will also be interesting but I believe that I have the right community and team to help me through it.
I’ve had so many other mini lessons but I’ll stop here. These were the BIG ones and I am grateful I had a chance to reflect and feel through each one of them.
Let me know if any of these speak to you. Would love to have a discussion about any and all of them.
Thank you Burning Man for an exceptional sixth Burn.