bestdayproject

Lesbian Summer Camp

As a kid, I read a lot of books set at summer camp and my favorite show was Salute Your Shorts. I spent most of my childhood really, really wanting to go to summer camp, but never did go.    

 A couple months ago, a friend of mine told me about a summer camp for queers put on by Autostraddle, and I signed up on a whim. ‪A-Camp is a way for Autostraddle to take their amazing online community offline and hang out in real life so everyone can feel feelings in a Jodie Foster feelings twister feelingering all over a mountain in California. In other words, there were a lot of feelings.

 A-camp was a wonderful and completely unexpected experience. It was the first time in my life I felt completely comfortable to be who I am.

I’ve been masculine my whole life, but it was always a source of shame for me. I didn’t understand why I preferred boy clothes over girl clothes, nerf guns over dolls, and blue over pink. I just knew people thought it was wrong for me to like those things, so I tried to hide it as best as I could. I didn’t do a very good job though. You’d need to be blind to not sense my gayness, but I didn’t know that until I came out. 

 You see that smile? That is literally the biggest smile that has ever been on my face. And it was plastered on all weekend. That’s how A-camp makes you feel. 

 I didn’t feel ashamed to be wearing menswear, I didn’t get odd looks because of how short my hair is and I never felt like women were wondering why I was using the women’s restroom. These are all issues that have plagued me my whole life. At my old office, I’d even avoid using the restroom if I heard someone else in there. A coworker admitted she thought our building was haunted, because she’d hear footsteps outside of the bathroom, but when she’d walk out, no one would be there (Sorry, Steph! It was just me being creepy, haha.).

I was so busy during camp that this is the only picture I managed to take. 

This is also the gayest picture I’ve ever taken. Lesbians on swings, lesbians drinking tea, lesbians huddled around a lesbian playing ukulele, lesbians having an intense discussion on gender politics (I’m assuming here). Did I mention the lesbians? Ah, well, lesbians. There were a lot of lesbians.

It was seriously my idea of heaven on earth. It’s kind of silly that a bunch of queers had to go to a summer camp to be in a space where everyone would feel completely free to express themselves the way they want, but that’s the world we live in. I’m just going to cling to the memories of camp until real life is just as awesome. And I will cling like a mother fucker. 


-Grace

First Off, What is CST?

Cold Shower Therapy, or CST, is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for ages. I heard about it through a blogger I follow, Joel Runyon. CST is, to paraphrase Runyon, taking a five minute cold shower every day for thirty days as a means of breaking through mental walls; he says he does it every time he tackles a difficult project or finds himself in a rut. When I first read about it, I thought “Man, that’s fucking INSANE. What a loony.” But really, deep down, I was kind of pissed off at his mental discipline and inner strength; I was annoyed because I didn’t believe that I could do anything like that. I even tried it once, and immediately gave up. Because it sucked and it was uncomfortable as hell. Months went by and I forgot about it. Then I got into a rut.

A really, really, terrible rut that was both personal and professional. I tried a few different things in hopes of cutting through the fog I seemed to be in, with varying degrees of success. About a week ago, Runyon posted his TEDTalk about CST, and it got me thinking. Not doing, yet, just thinking. Could I do it? What was the point? Would it actually help my lack of drive or affect my daily attitude towards whatever challenges popped up? Would it not be The Worst Ever? Would I get frostbite? Would I die? 

Yesterday, I had to wake up at 7:30 so that I would have time to work out and shower before my building shut the water off for maintenance. I worked out, and it occurred to me, seemingly randomly, that I could start CST today and see what happened. I don’t even remember what inspired the thought, but something in me shifted gears and I decided to go for it.

I turned the water on, set my timer, and got in. I went one limb at a time at first, frequently switching what part of me was under the water, which was, by the way, FUCKING COLD. OH MY GOD. But then I started to adjust. I put my head under, I moved around. I even used soap! And then, the five minutes was up. I got out. And by Jove if I didn’t feel like I had just passed through some ancient warrior rite of passage. My skin glowed, all of my nerve endings tingled; it was almost a painless sort of electrocution. I felt so ALIVE. And that alertness and vigor lasted with me all day long. I never crashed, I never got fatigued; I just had so much verve! It was awesome, truth be told. 
So I decided I am going to do it for 30 days. Then today I was dreading my cold shower; fully knowing what I was in for. But I did it, and I didn’t die. Aside from all the supposed health benefits (of which there are theoretically many), the mental kick is really incredible. I personally have enjoyed a boost in my overall confidence and ability to Get. Shit. Done. To be challenged, and survive and grow, to breathe into discomfort and let it make me stronger. To embrace my fear and ride it.

At the end of the day, that is what I am most excited about: learning how to harness my fear for my own growth and enlightenment. I have been hyper-conscious of my fear-drive (my word for the way fear motivates many of my actions or lack thereof) for a few years now, and, inspired by this rad human, have recently been thinking about creating some kind of Fear-Tracking/Fighting project for myself and my own edification. My first experiences with CST are acting at this spring-board for this; though I am still not quite sure how this project is going to manifest. I will be updating and blog tracking here, and in the next few days should have a better idea of what I want to do.

Peace!

vimeo

Ways I Thought You Could Get Pregnant

Growing up, I had no knowledge of how the body worked in any way sexually, so I thought I was pregnant every other week.

(My web series is officially launching July 29th, but here’s a little teaser for my loyal Tumblr followers.)

-Grace

Is there a better way to spend a beautiful day in San Francisco than playing a game of MarioKart at the park?

I think not.

We made two teams of seven with everyone getting their own MarioKart costume, tied balloons to our feet and ran around trying to pop the other team’s balloons while onlookers threw bananas at us. 

It was bananas. Bad joke? I don’t care, it was the best day of my life.

-Grace

Unfortunately, I don’t have a trash bag full of dollar bills lying around to throw off a roof. Instead, I opted to make these dollar bill roses to hand out around the city. 

I ended up tackling one of my other fears, which is making eye contact with strangers. Normally, I just look at my feet or bury my nose in a book when I walk, but today, I forced myself to make eye contact with strangers, hold it, and smile. If they smiled back, I thanked them, and handed them a dollar rose. 

It was surprisingly easy to get people to smile back. I think it’s hard to initiate the smiling, but when someone smiles at you, it’s a pretty natural reaction to smile back. Even blind people who have never seen a smile or been taught how to smile, smile when they are happy; it must be a human function engrained in us. 

It’s difficult to muster the courage to be the first person at anything. As humans, we are most afraid of the unknown, and that makes us stick within certain boundaries that we know we can handle.  We have volition, but if we consistently limit ourselves from pursuing certain avenues out of fear, we deprive ourselves of all the possibilities. Every time I tell myself I can’t do something, I now also ask myself if I’ve ever done it before and failed. The answer is almost always no; I just have it in my brain that I can’t do a lot of things, even though there’s no evidence to back it up.

Consistently scaring the shit out of myself by doing the things that I never imagined I could do, and actually succeeding at all of them has made me realize that all the doubts about yourself that keep you from doing things you want to do, are just that, doubts. They aren’t evidence that you shouldn’t attempt something. Most of the time, those doubts are keeping you from doing things you should do. It’s okay to feel doubt, it’s not okay to let those doubts keep you from doing something you really want. You owe it to yourself to at least try it out. 

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of these new experiences, especially because I know just how easily I could’ve let them all slip through my fingers if I chose to end it all. Life is worth living, but it’s up to you to make it that way. 

-Grace

Best Day Project Task # 27: Get a makeover. 

You know what’s silly? I finally allowed myself to get the haircut I’ve always wanted. I could’ve gotten it at any point in my adulthood, but silly little fears and insecurities kept me from doing something I’ve always wanted to do.

This project is about doing the things I’ve kept myself from doing, the things that I’ve always wanted to do. My perspective is changing daily and it’s mind blowing how self aware I’m becoming in the moment. 

-Grace

Best Day Project Task #1: Hit On a Girl

I wanted to forego this whole Best Day Project as soon as I picked this as my first task. I’m awful at multitasking around pretty girls. I tend to forget how to breathe and talk at the same time.

But still, I promised myself I would follow through with something for once in my life, and why not put all my energy into something for my own happiness? 

So, I went to The Lex, the only real Lesbian bar in San Francisco. 

 

Normally, I would just stand outside like a lost puppy until a kind soul would take pity on me and talk to me; not today though. 

While I was punishing my liver to muster up some courage, I noticed a familiar face, Josie from Top Chef, and instantly knew it had to be her. Well, I don’t know if I can say I hit on Josie, but I definitely approached and word vomited all over her. 

It took a good ten minutes of drunken brainstorming before coming up with the genius line of “Are you Josie?” As soon as I talked to her, I felt instantly at ease. She’s very chill, the type of person who calms you with their presence alone. 

Grace: Nice shoes.

*she didn’t hear me* 

Josie: What?

Grace: Nothing, I love you. 

BOOM! Task #1 done. 

Today is the best day of my life. 

-Grace

Blondie: My Pet Pigeon

One day, I found a baby pigeon in front of my restaurant. I named her Blondie. 

She fell from her nest and couldn’t fly back up. (The nest is on the beam next to the light.)

Blondie looked pretty scared and cold. 

So I built Blondie a temporary home until she could fly back up. 

Blondie spent her early days walking the line.

Blondie never flew back to her parents’ nest. Instead, she has found herself a mate and has settled nicely into her makeshift home. Did you know pigeons are monogamous? 

I have been toying with the idea of training Blondie as my own personal carrier pigeon. I live a couple blocks from my restaurant so it would be fun to send little messages to our workers. 

Pigeons always fly home; that’s how they trained carrier pigeons during WWII. They would only fly one way, but no matter what, they always knew where home was. Even if they were transported to unfamiliar destinations thousands of miles away, they would always know exactly how to get back. I would just need to transport Blondie to my house, attach a message, and let her fly back. 

Even though it would be really nice to have a carrier pigeon, Blondie should just be a pigeon. A bird is meant to fly. Freely. That’s why most people want to be birds if they can be any animal. 

I will try to make Blondie fly away with her mate tomorrow. It’s time. 

-Grace

Inspirational Tea

Tea best served with extra inspiration. Serve in a creepy winking tea cup. Add lots of friends. Cures Tuesday night boredom.

This is a project but sometimes, you have to let loose and break all the silly rules you’ve made up. A lot like real life. We go through life letting silly little rules we’ve made up dictate our actions.

For example:

"I won’t do that because I’m scared of what people will think of me." 

Sometimes you have to just forget about the rules and just go for the things that you think might make yourself happy. I’ve been forgetting about the rules for this project and just going with life and it’s led me to just do things i want to do because it’s fun. I just want to do that. 

However, I am off on another task right now. Stay tuned, friends. 

-Grace

Best Day Project Update

I haven’t updated in awhile. Sorry, I’ve slowed down on the tasks. I haven’t been doing my tasks every day but my days have still been the best. Everything has more meaning; friendships are more fulfilling, interactions with people are more interesting, even music sounds better. 

I went to lunch with the CEO of my old company a couple months ago and he told me about an experiment done on a group of people. The researchers first asked the group if they considered themselves lucky, then put them in a classroom and told them to do a meaningless task. It was something like underline all the “a”s in a newspaper. On the third page, in huge letters that took up half the page, it said “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING, GO TO THE FRONT OF THE CLASSROOM AND COLLECT ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS.”  About 80% of the people who considered themselves lucky went up in comparison to the 20% of people who considered themselves unlucky. 

I didn’t consider myself a lucky person until this year, but I realized, I just started appreciating everything more. I have always had a lot to be grateful for my whole life, but I was so focused on the shitty aspects, whenever something good happened to me that may be attributed to luck, I wouldn’t appreciate it. I would just keep fixating on my problems.  

Best Day Project has taught me to appreciate all that I have in my life. I’m going into each day really trying to make the most of it and it’s working, I’m happy. Even without the tasks, I’m taking risks, doing things outside of my comfort zone I never thought I could do, having a hell of a lot of fun, and silently living my life with intensity. It really has made all the difference. I definitely see more. 

-Grace

Best Day Project Task #23: Find your dream house.

My actual dream house is a treehouse, and this was the closest thing I found to the aesthetic. It’s tucked away between the Financial District and Telegraph Hill, close to the hustle and bustle, while still being in its own little world away. A 1400 square feet slice of San Francisco heaven. 

Hi dream house, I’m going to live in you one day.