Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category


Am I brave?  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been praised as being brave and courageous a couple of times.  I lived in New York, I moved to Austin without having ever visited, I dance on a trapeze of fire.  I guess I can see why “brave” is a word that might come up.  But, to me those things don’t make me brave.  Following my passion is easier and less heart breakingly soul killing than working in an office.  I have problems with authority and a longing for the spotlight.  I actually demand that the curtains be thrust open in the morning, to let in the light that I crave to shine on me before I can wake up.  I’m just being myself.

Sure, at one time, all of these things felt a little scary.  I judge whether I’m on the right path in my life or not by whether or not I am getting that “can I actually accomplish this dream?” tingle of terror or not.  But, on the other hand, I put off handling uncomfortable conversations with bill collectors, going to the doctor when something might be wrong, and would absolutely never jump out of an airplane.  Ever.  To me, doing those things are brave, because I just am not as good at, or don’t want to conquer those fears and anxieties.  Having a baby is the ultimate in bravery!  I can’t imagine being able to commit so much of my life to another living being that will rely on me for everything, much less spend the hours of agony in labor.  But women do it every day.

So, bravery is not cowering in the face your fears.  But, I think perhaps that we all have fears that we have chosen to face, and fears that we are still cowering from.  What are yours?


Brave Kitten

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photo credit: headersfortwitter.com

photo credit: headersfortwitter.com

I have endless lists out there in cyber space and in the myriad journals that I’ve kept throughout the years.  There are to-do lists, wish lists, goal lists, and contrasting diagrams about what I want my life to look like and what it currently looks like spanning the last decade.  It’s all quite interesting really in a sort of self absorbed kind of way.  So, I’ll spare you sharing all of them.

But, I’ve been thinking that I’d like a solid place where I can keep a list of things that I stand for, as well as a place for the things that I am “holding space” for.  A place where I can see it, update it, change it, etc.  A more solid place than some random page in my journal that I can never find.

Well, luckily I have a blog.  Lol.  So this post is going to be far less inspirational, informative or instructive and instead super intimate.  As of today, this is a pretty good representation of what I believe in and personally stand for as well as what I’m seeking in my ideal life, as of July 18th, 2012 at 5:40:39pm.


I believe in the power of art to change the world.  I believe in telling stories and entertaining to bring joy, laughter, thought, and reflection to an audience.  I believe in making work with quality.  I believe in traveling and sharing things across beliefs, cultures and languages.  I believe in creating dialogues to solve world problems.  I believe in being a light in times of darkness.  I believe in laughing at myself, and our beautiful humanity.  I believe in falling down and getting back up.  I believe in telling it how I see it.  I believe in empowering people, especially children, our future, and those that have lost their sense of power and place in this world.  I have a passion that I believe has a purpose.  I believe that my talents and perspectives give me a voice to share things that matter with the world.

I am the possibility of light and love in all situations.

I am the possibility of the impossible becoming possible.

I am a story-teller.


I want to have the renown and financial success necessary to be able to live and create my art freely with the support, coaching, training, practicing, cultivating, brainstorming, and living that that requires.

I want friendships, romance, partnership, working relationships, love, and positive inspiration around me at all times that will support me and guide me when I feel less that brilliant, positive, or faithful myself.

I want to find that well of energy that fuels a life of creation and joy.

photo credit: fantom-xp.com

photo credit: fantom-xp.com


To be continued…

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I asked the Universe for a community. Specifically, I asked for artists to work with and work off of. Something akin to my experiences at Sarah Lawrence College, where I could open my bedroom door to talented dancers and nutrition gurus, stomp my foot on the floor at the genius fellow writer living below me and stumble down the stairs to a late night chat with actors, activists and science nerds.  Even better, all of these wonderful people were my friends.  I want this experience in New York. In fact, most of these connections and friendships are why I moved to NYC in the first place.

But there is something about that brilliant microcosm of school that doesn’t translate into the larger world.  Its just too big.  And there’s no outward system controlling who you get to include in your community bubble.  You might want to work with some twenty people, but without a project, a rehearsal space or a neighborhood to bind you together, it seems like fitting even the time for a coffee in, can seem insurmountable.

Because of course, community takes work.  It takes a frequent reaching out, it takes time to listen as well as time to share. It takes time to just catch up before any of the real brainstorming or art juices even start to flow, like ungunking the spout.  And who has the time?

Perhaps it is a uniquely big apple problem.  I mean in a country that values work, individualism, and success; new york city is arguably the true capital.  With long commute times, high rent prices, a saturated market, and a constant influx of less tired creatives, its no wonder that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.  So is it really the place to be to make your best work? Sure, any kind of artist you can dream up to collaborate with is a stones throw or a craigslist ad away.  But how much energy can you expect from your team in a world of struggling to survive artists?

Or is all that pressure what makes us better and more focused?  You know, the diamond analogy.

Maybe this is why I find the communities that do arise in the midst of the city so impressive. Its almost more of a commitment than a monogamous marriage, the choice to insulate yourself within a group of support and creation.  And in a city of bright lights, you’re going to want to make sure that you select that group with just as much care and consideration as you would a spouse.

So with all these thoughts on the struggle, the sweat and beatings of our city’s life, my sister’s question hangs in my mind. “Why do you live there?”

For me, perhaps the answer is as mysterious as true love.  I may dream of (and occasionally even act on) dalliances with sunny, surfer beach communities, love affairs with private mountain
retreats, or adventures in unexplored (at least to me) foreign locals.  But at the end of the month, I can’t imagine not returning to where I call home.

Image Credit: Zazzle

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I work hard, I train for hours. I’ve thought about strength vs. endurance vs. stretching. But I’ve never really thought about how to really train to be an elite performer. How to train to be able to produce the consistent show that I want, without all the stress and nerves. It turns out that the answer is habit. Each piece should be so ingrained that when the music starts, my body reacts.  No thought or worry or doubt left, only the desire to make it a little better than the last time by eliminating the self doubt or shakiness or misfirings of too much adrenaline.

I’ve never been very good at habits though, or will power, or discipline…whatever you want to call it. When told to do simple repetitive tasks, my brain screams in a petulant whine, “why?!”

And sometimes, I know “why” and sometimes I don’t, butit doesn’t much matter to my level or commitment to being disciplined.  No where is this more apparent than in my feelings about making my bed in the morning. Why should I? Especially when I happen to love crawling into the messy nest I call bed at night, since I work and eat from my bed, relax and watch movies from my bed. Why would I bother making it to rumple it up again? Ever?

Well it seems that there may just be psychological value to the act.  It is a signal to your brain to start your day, to wake up, to get up and go!  It is also a habit that I currently don’t have and according to the Power of Habit, the best way to conquer other habits like not drinking so much, getting to the gym every morning, writing 5 pages a day is by changing something like making my bed.  A “keystone habit.

At least I think it is.  In reality, finding the keystone habit(s) that will knock down my bad habits and build up my good ones, is way more tricky and confusing.  For instance, will daily meditation help relieve stress, create awareness and prevent over drinking?  In theory.  Or will waking up early to write or workout make it easier to wind down and fall asleep at night rather than end the day with a glass of wine?  Maybe.

Alright, let’s break it down.  3 things: small wins, new platforms and contagious excellence.  So, making the bed, writing, working out and meditating are all small wins I suppose.  Unless of course its a day of writer’s block, a bad day at the gym, or a schedule that keeps you pushing snooze more often than you accomplish these things, I suppose.  New platforms…okay, I guess that’s the beginning idea.  I imagine my pieces in my head.  I do this before I go to bed, when I wake up, right before performing, etc.  And I also practice them over and over in real life.  I make the pieces themselves a habit.  That part I get.  Part three, contagious excellence.  I’m a little unclear about if this means a culture of excellence by implementing the first two principles, or if it means to surround yourself with the people, environment, etc. that will encourage and support your excellence.  Though, I suppose both are pretty good points.

So, maybe just waking up at a certain time each day and picking workout, write, clean or meditate would be a good keystone habit.  And maybe the freedom to pick from one each day will keep me from sabotaging my new habit with boredom.  Of course, not picking workout for my first hour of consciousness doesn’t mean that I skip a workout that day all together, it just means that perhaps I should try doing one of those four things before I get up and open the computer and the emails and the distraction.  Possibly.  But definitely worth a try.

Well, glad we got that sorted.  I’m still not entirely sure I understand how to identify a keystone habit, besides retroactively of course.  But at least I have something new to try.  And I’m excited to be so polished on my pieces that I never have to get nervous again.  Well, at least not too nervous.  ;)

And for the cute kitten…something a little different.  These photos were taken of my very own cat Evie sneaking some tofu cream cheese.  The way she went crazy over it caused Ryan to stage a pretend Intervention with her as if she was on a much more illicit drug than tofu cream cheese.  I wonder what Evie’s keystone habit would be?  Morning catnip fueled play sessions?  That might interfere with my meditation…

Discovery of the illicit material…


…the high takes over…”clean your nose, Evie!”


Ry’s stern but loving “intervention”


A much happier, healthier Evie post rehab.





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Black Rock Spatial Delivery is doing a cool project for Burning Man this year, where veteran burners can write love letters to a newbie.  I really enjoyed sharing my advice and getting all homesick for the desert.  So I’ve decided to share it with you.  For all the virgins out there, I hope its helpful.  For all the non-burners, I hope you can find some default life application there too.  ;)

Dear Virgin,

You are about to enter a wonderfully powerful place.  Even if you’re not one to believe in things like the energy of a space, there is something quite amazing that happens when 60,000 people come together with intention.  This space can be heaven or hell.  It can bring things to the surface of your consciousness that you didn’t know were even there.  This can feel like gifts and it can feel uncomfortable or even intolerable.  Try to take it in stride and choose to view things as the former.

Be sure to check out the big sound camps and dance, dance, dance!  Get a body wash at Poly Paradise at least once.  Take a skim through the Who What Where/When early on so you don’t end up missing that one thing you really wanted to check out.  Talk to someone you probably wouldn’t in your daily life.  Be careful what you wish for out there on the playa (because you’ll probably get it).  Drink more water than you ever have in your life.  If it all gets too much, head to Buddha Dome or the Temple for some quiet.  Give back with your time, your smile, and the gift of sharing yourself with someone rather than worrying over tangible gifts.  Have a center camp coffee.  I don’t know what it is, but a latte in the middle of the desert is always the best coffee I’ll ever have.  Try to be open.  Try not to judge anything you’re going through or observing too critically, including yourself.

Remember that Burning Man is not a world of anything goes, though it may seem like it sometimes.  It is a community of intentions (read the 10 principles) and with those intentions, there are “don’ts.”  These are mine.  Don’t impose yourself sexually on someone just because they are naked, pretty, drunk, seem into it, etc.  Ask first.  This includes ‘grinding’ on people who are just trying to dance and have fun.  Don’t approach the week like one big party.  It totally is, and it totally is not.  Take a little time for non party like stuff too.  Don’t sleep in everyday.  Black Rock mornings are just as beautiful as Black Rock nights.  Don’t rely on everyone else to take care of you.  They probably will when you need them, but there is great joy in self reliance.  Don’t feel you must do anything specific to fit in.  Dress up if you’d like, or don’t.  Go naked if you desire, or don’t.  This is your experience.  Just don’t forget to share it with the magical city of others.  Speaking of others, respect their experiences as well.  Don’t pee on the playa, don’t bring things that will leave your moop (matter out of place) on the desert for teams of people to have to clean up later.  Don’t desecrate the port-a-potties.  And finally, don’t worry too much if you miss things.  You can’t do it all.  Go with the flow.  And leave some experiences to have when you return in the future.

My virgin burn was magical, and I hope that yours is as well.  I wish I could do it again.  I am hoping to be out there this year, but am still in the planning stages as I write this letter.  If I am out there, I will be the girl who is dancing on her trapeze of fire.  So, probably not too hard to find.    Though if everything lines up for me to get out there, I will probably be camping solo this year, so a meet up may have to happen by chance.

Whether I ever meet you or not, dear virgin burner pen pal, I wish you the best week of your life.  I send this with much love and peace and joyful energy.  I hope that you have the exact experience that you need to have.  And hope is really the wrong word there, because I already know that you will.

Love and Peace,

Erinina Marie Ness


This cat is so ready for the burn.  But, don’t actually bring your cat to the desert please.  ;)

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This entry originally appeared on my 43Things blog back in 2009.  Since Fire Trapezing is taking up a lot of my time right now, I thought it was a good one to reblog here.  Enjoy!
“There are many ways to fly: spiritually, emotionally, physically…and all are worth doing.”

How I did it: I was supposed to grant this wish to a stranger whose rock I pulled from the wishing well at Burning Man this year.  Unfortunately, the rock kept running away from me and Genesy, I’m sorry that I never got to you.  But, perhaps you will stumble here, or I’ll find you on the eplaya site.

At any rate, no I am not god, so I cannot grow you wings, or defy the current laws of the universe.  However, as far as I know, these are some pretty acceptable alternatives to choose from based on your own personal preferences and limitations.


Hang gliding
Para sailing
Aerial dance (silk, trapeze [static or flying], hoop, harness, etc.)
Sky diving
Climbing and Repelling
Anti gravity chambers or becoming an astronaut


Overcoming fear


Lucid Dreaming (and flying!)

(hey, don’t knock it til you try it)

Lessons & tips: A lot of the things on my list are easily and readily available in most cities now.  Go out and try it.  Tomorrow.  Life is short.  Do the close approximation if you can’t grow wings, it will still be better than sitting and wishing.

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Photo by Carlos Henriquez

If you haven’t seen my video debut of the fire trapeze last weekend.  You need to check it out here.

But here’s the thing…I’m like “this” close to getting my very own freelance performing and writing career launched.  “This” close, I tell ‘ya.  ;)

But I need your help!  Here’s why:

I invented a fire trapeze.  Why?  I had a dream about it in Peru and thought, how amazing? How death defying?  If Circus exists to give us hope, to make us marvel, to think: if that’s possible, anything is possible!  Then, I’m in.

And what is more awe inspiring than a girl on her trapeze, sharing her passion and talents, invoking laughter, provoking thought with movement, a girl that dances even as the ropes of her apparatus burn?

Oh, and she survives.

That’s a nice metaphor for our current world, no?

2 years of research and design, and it works!  People want me to perform.  They want me to tour.  They may even want me on TV.  And once completed, this act demands the kind of pay that I can live on.  The problem?  It is going to cost me at minimum another $5,000 to do it safely, properly and awesomely.  And that’s the minimum.  Defying death does not come cheap, apparently.

If you can donate even $1, please do so.  If you can share the link below, even better.  Let me make great art and dazzle the world with fire!  http://www.indiegogo.com/erinina?a=122333

Love and Peace,


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I would like to learn to fight in a couple of different senses.

1. I’d love to be able to be a person that wins the argument or the altercation with whomever is picking a fight with me just by knowing how to be the right combination of patient, cryptic, sassy or just plain non-engaging. This is probably one of those never perfect kind of goals though.

2. I’d like to know how in theory to kick butt MMA style. However, I am so not interested in the beatings that actually being an MMA fighter may involve. I’d also love to do this in some kind of movie, performance, etc.

3. I’d like to learn how to knife fight. Not because I ever want to get into a knife fight, I’ve seen the gory pictures. But because in a life or death scenario, I think that would be my weapon of choice (seems less immediately deadly when defending yourself) and I’d like to know how to do it well and with control.  Like I said, just in case I ever need to.

Me, Drunken, Viking Warrior


Cat, Fist Warrior: http://www.graphicshunt.com


Cats, Martial Warriors: http://www.graphicshunt.com

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I hate the sound of a Bucket List. I mean, all the things I want to do won’t ever fit into a bucket! Hello! ;)

But I figure I’ve always had them. Might as well post one here. The thing is that a couple of years ago, I really made peace with my life. I decided that If I kicked off tomorrow, I’ve done the bare minimum for me. That’s probably very different for you, but I’ve done some cool shit, I’ve learned a lot and I’m okay if I get another go at it, or if I don’t.

Some friends construed this as Depression rearing its ugly head. Others as Enlightenment. Funny, right? The point is, I was content with what I’ve done thus far. I wondered if ambition would kiss my cursed head again. But as my Aunt Nancy said, “You always do it big Erin, no matter what it is.” I’m pretty sure that was a compliment. Like a big one. I’m also pretty sure ambition is equally a blessing and a curse.

Point of the story is that I decided in January that I’m officially done working for anyone else. Whatever it takes. That’s right, them be fighting words. Strong ones, and lo and behold, my good frenemy Ambition pledged alliance to my cause.

So, while very career-oriented at the moment, I seem not to be either quite dead, or quite ready to don Buddha’s robes. So, I’m starting an Ideal list. Like, I said, if death comes right now, I’m pretty good. But if it doesn’t, it would be pretty cool to do these things:

-Become famous as the inventor/peformer of my fire trapeze.
-Stop sex slavery.
-Help people to be empowered.
-Not worry about money. Live and give freely.
-Live on a boat and travel the world without feeling trapped.
-Buy land for my friend Mayten’s projects in Peru.
-Get the perfume True Love by Elizabeth Arden re-released with my name.
-Publish Superhero Dreams. And be happy with it.
-Publish a secret memoir. Have stories for a secret memoir. ;)
-Upcycle more art than garbage I toss.
-Actually learn organization and money management. Or be able to hire people good at that.
-Spend my life loved and loving with partners and a community.
-Leave the world better.

To be continued…

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