I’m about to waste money to improve* my life (*I hope)

Last week, Best Friend sent me a link to a Tim Ferriss podcast episode along with the message, “Short, about picking projects. I liked it.”

The episode was #181: How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life.

I was too busy… (record scratch)

Nope. I’m going to follow what I productivity-preach and stop claiming “BUSY!” as an excuse. I had time to listen. But the podcast wasn’t priority-status. So I knew if I pressed play, I’d be resentful of it taking me away from other things that were of more timely-importance at that moment and that I wouldn’t give it full attention.

In efforts to respect one another’s time, and because we’re both lovers of efficiency and time-management, Best Friend and I have unlocked Pro levels of sharing — articles, apps, videos, events, people. Realizing how easy it is to dump on others with a click of the “share” button or a not thought out “You two should meet!” email, and how annoying that can be — Stop clogging the inbox I just cleared out! Stop making me feel like a bitch by telling a lovely person, “No, I can’t meet for coffee so you can pick my brain” — we’re selective and thoughtful about our shares. So I knew it was important to Best Friend that I listen to the Tim Ferriss episode. I added it to my “when I can give 100%” To Do List.

Of priority-status was finishing-touch content for the Productivity Ninja workshop I would be leading the following day at Jonathan Fields’ Camp GLP (aka Good Life Project — Cheese-Its, it’s every thing we value and love and desire, East Coast style). I was tasked with the seemingly impossible feat of making my four-hour class ninety-minutes. You try answering “Which of your children would you like to abandon on the side of the road?”


When they said camp, they meant camp. Surreal and lovely and weird.

Best Friend and I run our own camp, which is all sorts of lovely, but it was really nice to share our gifts — me productivity, him improv — and then be done “officially” sharing our gifts and get to be campers. We bunked with everyone else, we ate with everyone else. When problems arose, they weren’t ours to fix. When the megaphone was on, it wasn’t us herding the cattle. When we were tired, we recharged with sleep or a walk to the lake, and it was ok that we disappeared.

We also got to be students, which was all sorts of fantastic. We taught our four workshops and were chair-sitting, note-takers with everyone else outside of that time.

Jenny Sauer‘s workshop, “Rock Your Workshop: Design Your Life-Changing Live Event”20160826_114656

Best Friend‘s workshop, “Say Yes to Improv: The Benefits of Adding Play to Your Work” — he quickly became known as the workshop that literally reverberated throughout Camp; it’s amazing the volume people can reach when they let go and be silly and in the moment20160827_131120

One of my favorite moments, Sean Platt‘s book-writing meetup (how can anything you do NOT be great when sitting shoeless under a tree?!) — he gave me insight on how to write my book and how not to eat donuts I had thrown in the trash out of disgust for eating them in the first place

A phrase I say all the time is “HCP.” High-class problem. My life is filled with ’em. Choosing which workshops to go to, oh the struggle. Do I enhance knowledge I already possess? Do I learn something new? Do I sit passively and inhale? Do I move my body and paint? Do I blow off workshops all together and take a nap or play Hanabi?! I enjoyed how the GLP staff gave you permission to not do everything. Though we’re grown-ass adults, we often need the verbal ok to do things like stray from what’s printed on the lanyard around our necks.

I decided for my first jaunt I would take a class that would elevate that at which I was already adept — Jenny Sauer’s Rock Your Workshop: Design Your Life-Changing Live Event. I’ve been offering life-changing events for years, some would say that’s my jam, so I went expecting to confirm what I already knew plus add to my overstuffed bag of tricks. Check and check. And more!

She asked for reasons we were in attendance. I commented about being interested in scaling and expansion. She very nicely responded that we’d probably need to talk one on one (most of the reasons were beginning-stage of a business scenarios). Happy to let others get support from her and with what she had already provided me, I figured I’d let the chips fall where they may and if we were meant to chat further, we would.

Fast forward a few hours, as I ate lunch at the picnic tables. Jenny suddenly appeared and asked if she could sit. We had a lovely conversation about training others to parent your baby and about (positive) world domination through said baby.

She turned on the light for me.

Up until Camp, I had pushed back at the gaggle of people who asked me over the years about running Mac & Cheese Productions℠ in their corner of the world. “Let me get it right in Chicago first…” was my standard response.

At first because it was truth. But then because it was safety.

If you stay still, doing the thing that’s brought you success, without making changes, without rocking the boat, you’ll remain in a pile of success. Right?

Not necessarily. People change, society changes, you change. What was successful for them, for it, for you then may not be successful now.

Plus, who wants to stay still? Even if where you are is lying on a Tulum beach, with Best Friend, your kindle, and a margarita at your side? Even that will get old.

In dissecting why I was dragging my feet to do something I want to do and that others are asking for, over and over and over, I realized that I had only envisioned spreading Life of Yes℠, and specifically Fear Experiment℠, through online trainings and one on one trainings. Neither of which appeal. I want in-person’ness, efficiency, community, going on a journey and striving for a goal with others — a tribe of others. While of course with everyone scattered across the world, online-communication will be a necessity. But I want the initial blast off to be with people I can high-five.

Why don’t I listen to the advice I plant and water in everyone else?!?

Make life easy and simple. Remove the things that cause you dread. If something doesn’t give you joy, how can you tweak it to give you joy? It’s that black and white.

It took a stranger in rural New York five minutes over lunch-meat at a picnic table to give me the clarity and the “Duh!” that had paralyzed me for too long. I blinked my eyes in Jenny’s shiny light and was ENERGIZED and finally ready to leap.

I’ve got it right in Chicago. Truth.

And now I am ready to spread my wings and help others spread their wings in the process. Truth truth.


Color War!20160827_204134

Talent Show!unnamed-2

Bunkmates! “The Shooting Starz”20160828_19340620160828_200042

Goodbye New York, I’m coming home Chicago!

As I returned to the Midwest and had piles of piles to attend to, I found myself with burning eyes from screen-stare and a wandering brain from working on one thing for hours. I needed a break. A walk.

I’ve struggled with self-care when it comes to not inhaling boxes of donuts and to daily physical movement — I’m a pro at every two weeks yoga — so I decided to follow the advice I  had just preached at Camp.

Along the thought lines of make life, especially the un-fun, fun, I asked myself, “How can I turn this walk into more than a walk? How can I continue to unpile the piles?” Which is how I found myself chugging down Wood Street to the podcast Best Friend had sent me the week previous, How to ‘Waste Money’ To Improve the Quality of Your Life.

I was ready to 100% it.

I nodded and amen’ed for the twenty-seven minutes of the episode, sweating down Wicker Park side-streets in my increasingly damp Cubs shirt. When it ended, my mind excitedly danced like the lights were dimmed, it was in Hammer pants, and Bell Biv Devoe was blasting — Yes! So true! He’s talking to/about me! This is exactly what I’ve been pondering! This is exactly what I needed!

The next episode began to play. It was background noise to my dancing thoughts until I heard Tim mention his guest.

“My guest on this episode is Jason Nemer, co-founder of AcroYoga.”

Normally, Tim would’ve remained background noise a bit longer. And to be honest, acroyoga isn’t a topic that hooks me so I probably would’ve skipped to #183. BUT.

The Jenny I mention above? Whose workshop I decided to take? Whom I had never met or heard of a week ago? Who turned on my light when she sat with me at the picnic tables? She’s the “co” in “Co-Founder of AcroYoga”.

This is what I mean when I talk about living a Life of Yes℠.

When the universe conspires to communicate, “Yes! You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Keep doing it. Even though it may feel icky, scary, a huge mistake, the worst.” When coincidence after coincidence occur and you start to feel as if they’re not coincidences and that you should rethink not believing in woo-woo’ness because life is being awfully woo-woo of late.

Like when I woke up to finish this blog post and was greeted by a message from a lovely woman I met at the start of Camp GLP, as we assembled in the LaGuardia terminal, when I forced myself to do that which scares most of us, go up to a group of people standing in a circle, laughing and looking like best friends, and introduce yourself. Turns out, gasp, they didn’t kick me in the shins and make their circle tighter with me tearing up on the outside. They invited me in and showered me with smiles and head nods.

“Saya, I so enjoyed meeting you at camp! Thank you for being so genuine, fun, and easy to talk to. Also, I’ve just watched your TED talk and found it deeply inspiring. So, check out this pic I took from a visual journal page I made just before camp. This year’s my year to experiment with ways to generate income while helping people find their voice. If possible, I’d love to talk with you more. I have so many questions, but for now I’ll start with: 1) Are you available for consulting a would-be entrepreneur, and 2) do you have a protocol and/or advice about possibility of my trying to bring Fear Experiment to Minneapolis? And no, I’m not asking you to do these things for free. Cheers, I hope to talk more soon!”

Um, hello. Cartwheels. On so many levels —

  • Compliments, always nice
  • Someone deciding to follow their heart and cut off the Golden Handcuffs, be still my entrepreneurial soul
  • An ask to pay me for my knowledge, sweet relief and sweet joyful heart. While many happily open their checkbooks for me, often too happily and then I feel guilty, which I shouldn’t, I get asked constantly to freebie my knowledge. Besides not putting me in the awkward position of having a “Yeah, if you pay me money” conversation, it feels damn good to be valued for my gifts in a way that allows me to pay bills and travel and splurge on a pedicure.
  • An ask to do the very thing about which I had just had an a-ha moment and had started to make reality, and the notion that we’d be helping each other spread our wings — holy Jesus, are you serious?!

And so it is with all of these signs that I take my next leap. Er, leaps.

First, Fear Experiment℠ (FE).

I already made a huge leap with FE in walking away from a main revenue stream, when it’s still beloved and wanted and needed — I announced a few months ago that this upcoming round would be the end*.

As I tend to do in my Life of Yes℠, I often have an * attached to things.

It is the end* for Chicago. But it’s the beginning for FE International!

After years of, “When are you bringing FE to _______? Can you bring FE to ______? Can I help you bring FE to ________?”, I am finally ready to say Now!, Yes!, and Yes!

Stoked to announce that applications for being an FE Producer in your neck of the woods are now open. You can find out more and apply here.

*for now

Second, Family Reunion Facilitation.

(Accidentally) discovering that you’re good at something +

(accidentally) discovering that others need and want your something (though they often don’t know this until you turn on the light) +

(accidentally) adding a branch to your business-tree which looks nothing like the tree you planted when you first birthed the business +

making a living doing that which you never considered as an income-stream =

living a Life of Yes℠.


“Saya and Pete would be awesome additions to any family gathering or reunion! I very much appreciated the ease with which they got our various ages and personalities together to play some crazy funny games during our recent reunion in San Diego. They both have such an easy-going, friendly manner with people which is great for breaking the ice for folks who haven’t seen each other in a long time or have never even met each other.”

“I recently had the pleasure of attending a family reunion with Saya and Pete. They added so much fun and enthusiasm to the gathering!  Saya is a seemingly never ending source of fresh ideas for interactive and inclusive activities that had the whole group (kids to elders) engaged together. You know when someone is really REALLY good at something? They make it look so easy. That’s really true for Saya and Pete. What a joy they both are in every way.” 

“Saya and Pete successfully led our family through a weekend of fun and games. They teach new games and effectively lead well known games. Something for everyone and each occasion. They infuse their enthusiasm for fun into the whole weekend, whether it was engaging young or old in conversation, activities, games or outings. Their genuine passion for connecting people and interacting with all ages is contagious. Pete and Saya are great listeners and easily engage with those around them, are great at logistics and attending to every detail of a gathering and/or reunion, and are resourceful in finding the right activity/game/food opportunity for the occasion and the intended audience. Pete and Saya’s love for trying new things and doing so fearlessly is infectious.”

So my other announcement is this new branch of the Mac & Cheese tree — Family Reunion Facilitation.

You can find out more about it here, but the gist is: have us create a detailed plan you can implement yourself at your reunion or if you’d rather let us take complete charge and show up with the materials, agenda, and facilitator-hats, have us join you at your reunion.

With either option, the goal is to provide structured, low-key, easy, impactful opportunities for fun, personal growth, reflection, and connection.

Does this sound like a ridiculous way to think I can make a living?

So did “dance badly on stage with other people dancing badly” and basically all the things on this “Things I Wish I Could Get Paid To Do” list I made the day I got fired twelve years ago.

So I’m about to waste money to improve* my life —

  • Lawyer fees
  • Flights and hotels
  • Software
  • Increased expenses for services like Mailchimp and Gusto
  • Time (time is money, right?)
  • A gazillion things I’m not thinking of or don’t want to spend time writing about because I want to DO and MOVE not write about doing and moving

* I hope.

I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing. Perhaps because this book is on my radar, (shrug).

If the past twelve years have taught me anything, it’s that it’s ok to not know what you’re doing or how things will turn out. You won’t die. You won’t contract lupus. You won’t be banished to an island where they only serve the butts of bread loaves.

In fact, things may not turn out at all like you wanted or planned and that may be the best thing ever. Happy accidents happen more often when you take a step as opposed to when you stand still.

What is the universe woo-woo’ing you to do? What’s the voice in your head whispering? What’s your gut saying?

Take a step.

If you don’t take a step for yourself, take a step for me. Cause it’s much less scary to leap when you’re surrounded by other leapers. That whole you are not alone thing.

Leap with me? If you do, I’d love to hear your leap below.

UPDATE: days after I wrote this, the Chicago Tribune randomly (or was it?!? You woo-woo universe, you!) and asked if they could feature me in an article on lessons entrepreneurs learned this summer. Here it is!