October 12, 2012

Dream Smaller! ~ Valerie Reiss

We’re gazing at the sky when the important stuff is on the ground.

It might be sacrilege, but I’m doing better with small tasks than huge dreams.

“Follow your bliss.” I’ve spent a good part of my career writing about that, in one way or another. I blog about gratitude, write for magazines about yoga and uncovering the true self by disassembling the myths we worship as truth.

Plus, I’ve put in my time on the mat—hundreds of hours over the last 20 years. Then there’s the yoga teacher training, therapy, spiritual writing workshops, watching my breath go in and out for 10 days straight at Vipassana

And yet, the irony of professionally identifying as healthy or spiritual is so often embodied by the cliché, “We teach what we most need to learn.”

Like so many of us bliss-dreamers, I want to earn a living wage doing something I love and be my own, awesome boss.

Freelancing doesn’t quite cut it for living in Brooklyn and eating organic kale, but I’m happiest when I’m working in my own space. I like making my own hours, eating and sleeping when my body wants and carving out time to see friends, take walks and do yoga. When I let what Mary Oliver calls “the soft animal of [my] body love what it loves,” I’m softer and more joyful all around.

I have about 8,000 business ideas a second and most get little or no traction; getting a day job in an office, editing what the web people call “content” has been an intermittent necessity. Though I’ve recently signed on to another one of those, I’ve also just started a business. Gulp. An actual, real live business—a plan to create a life following my prana, for good and for money.

Usually I stall when I hit a task that feels insurmountable or icky or involves math. But this time I’ve followed through, mainly because I have a partner. My husband and I are using Indiegogo’s crowd-funding site to start our business of all-natural sex toys made from crystal, starting with a rose quartz “diletto” (best word ever)—the Luminous Love Wand.

Random, but not really. I got my first “massage wand” at a bookstore in Maui after college. I’ve used it on and off since, especially when I was getting together with my now-husband. I’d been in a semi-celibate relationship (long story) and even before that, struggled with painful lady parts. I found the crystal to be way more healing and helpful than the gawd-awful “dilators” a gynecologist gave me—a set of smushy plastic rods that smelled like shower curtain. Definitely a BPA and phthalate festival.

No thank you.

I had the idea to make an official sex toy out of these for years, but it wasn’t till Brad and I started talking about our mutual desire for a life of freedom and natural rhythms that it actually happened. Having a partner with a well-synced skill set means I can skip the math—he actually likes it. He can skip the copywriting, which I love. And we can both work on marketing, branding, and creating “content”—this time for something that could potentially sustain us into our sunset years.

It’s been enlightening and hilarious and rewarding so far. You know that quote that’s Goethe, but actually W.H. Murray?  …the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred….

We’re definitely finding that. When we put in the work, something happens, and not in the way we expect. I’ll create a picture-quote thingy for our Facebook page and someone from Portugal will pre-order a wand. Very Murray-ish, or The Secret-ish; what you give, you get, and then some. Passion begets passion.

Plus, entering the world of sex-positive business is pretty looking-glass amazing—our lawyer’s company is called Sexquire; our accountant is the Tax Domme. We went to a neo-tantra gathering in a Lower East Side bar called Happy Endings that used to be that kind of massage parlor. While chatting in a former steam room that’s now just a place to sit and sip your sexually named drink, we met a guy who’s a stand-up porn comedian and a woman who goes by the name of a Winnie the Pooh character; it’s all a little surreal.

And even the business part feels weirdly new and fascinating. We’ve navigated incorporation forms, tried several different manufacturers, had 3-D plastic models made, created an e-commerce site and are navigating social media.

This is what Joseph Campbell didn’t mention: The path to bliss is full of tax forms, international shipping policies and eco-packaging conundrums.

So many of us artsy-healer types, in our efforts to live our life’s purpose to help, love and heal all beings, trip over the small essentials that make all those big, beautiful dreams possible.

We’re gazing at the sky when the important stuff is on the ground.

When I lived in Maui, I’d see many “rainbow” businesses—big, gorgeous, inspiring arcs that vanished with the first cloud. There were a lot of “For Rent” signs hanging on empty, almost-groovy juice bars, bookstores, and hemp outfitters.

I’ve been wondering lately if inspirational teachers who encourage “big dreams” should perhaps encourage “small tasks” instead. “Dream smaller, folks!”

I’m finding that, yes, the eagle’s view is guiding and necessary, but it’s the ant’s perspective and industriousness that gets stuff done. Turns out the unsexy crap gets you to the sexy dream. Duh, perhaps. But also, a revelation.

We don’t know yet if we’ve got a rainbow or a solid, lasting structure for our Luminous Love Toys. We’re fledgling as can be; just a foundation, really. All I do know is that maybe for the first time I’m practicing another new-agey cliché: Enjoying the process. Of course I’ve heard that it’s “all about the journey,” but as a New Yorker I really prefer the “get there—now” approach. Which means the journey sucks because it’s in the way, not on the way.

Now though, with my partner and a shift in perspective, I stay committed and laughing through most of those small, essential, sucky parts—the ant-thinking—and this makes the journey fun. A lot of those tricky tasks beget small victories (a tweet from a favorite yoga teacher, our first retail order), which are surprisingly sweet and sustaining. And it turns out that doing each one actually makes me feel proud; something new. Something I can’t feel when I’m dreaming about my purpose in grand, ungrounded terms. Thinking small makes me feel—and act—big. Who knew?

Are you following your bliss by thinking big and small? How’s it going?


Valerie Reiss writes for Yoga Journal, Natural Health, and other publications and is a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. She’s running an Indiegogo campaign to launch Luminous Love Toys until October 20th, 2012. If you feel so inclined you can check that out here: www.indiegogo.com/luminous. Her regular writing world is here: www.valeriereiss.com.



Editor: Jennifer Townsend

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