Cannabis Tourism & Hospitality: A Path to Sustaining Legacy Cannabis in California (And Sustaining ME in 2024!)

I am grateful that I have the privilege to always land on my feet in my career, despite choosing difficult paths. I have skills to fall back on, an amazing family who is always willing to help me out when I need it, and a vast network of talented people who I’ve been lucky to cross paths with in my unconventional career path. And after months of applying for Marketing jobs across a variety of sectors and seeking out new full time positions in a struggling cannabis industry, I can happily report that I have landed back on my feet.

I get by with a little help from my friends. And instead of settling on a full time job that wasn’t coming to fruition, in a matter of months I have decided to instead focus on finding freelance contract work, and filled my plate with a variety of projects that are fulfilling, interesting, and hopefully lucrative. All with people who were already in my circle and realm of experience.

I have a couple of small social media marketing projects with local friends that have helped fill in the gaps the past few months – shout out to Sara at Akasha, my microdosing coach client of several years, and Patrick at Malarkey / MayDay and Juke Joint, a musician, DJ, event producer and talent booker at some of my favorite local venues. (Please follow them & give them some love). Santa Rosa dispensary Doobie Nights is still a client of mine for e-commerce, graphic design and email/text communications. And very soon I’ll be working on social media for The Emerald Cup which is a perfect intersection of my events and cannabis experience.

But what I am most excited about as I plan out my 2024 calendar is working with my former colleague at The Hybrid Creative, Brian Applegarth, in managing operations and marketing for his consulting work in the connection of tourism and cannabis. Brian knows more about weed culture and history than almost anyone I know. He’s also a prolific traveler and an expert in hospitality and destination marketing, specializing in speaking to the cannabis travel audience. As I found out back in the Hybrid days, he’s a lot of fun (and like, way too good) at karaoke.

Along with my former boss at Hybrid, Zack Darling, we are building a 2024 campaign promoting The Cannabis Trail along with destination marketing clients in Mendocino County, Humboldt County and the City of Oakland.

We’ll be working with a number of legacy and equity farms, cannabis brands and dispensaries, media and data partners, and cannabis industry associations to highlight cannabis culture’s historical landmarks and pioneers, promote cool weed related tourist destinations along The Cannabis Trail, and create content that highlights travel experiences that cannabis naturally enhances – anything involving food, art, and nature.

Travel, nature, art, food, events & experiences, AND WEED?!? Um… those are only all of my favorite things basically. Instantly IN.

But even more exciting is the potential that approaching cannabis from a lens of experiences enhanced by it – travel, exploring nature, eating amazing local food, etc. opens up more possibilities for engaging an industry that is struggling to survive due to overtaxation, difficult to navigate regulations, and competition with unregulated industries like hemp-derived CBD or the illicit cannabis market.

By collaborating with the hospitality, travel and destination marketing communities, Applegarth Consultative Services is able to connect their resources with industry operators like legacy farms, locally owned dispensaries, unique lounges and experiential offerings, and advocacy organizations. All aligning to legitimize the industry and educate the cannabis travel consumer, a growing market.

The history of medical cannabis legalization movement in San Francisco in the 90s and its intersections with the gay rights movement during the AIDS crisis is a rich cultural story that is worth educating about. The back to the land movement and those inspired by them to pioneer regenerative cannabis agriculture in Northern California have so many stories to tell, and this project is an opportunity to educate about and amplify and weave together all these unique cultural stories from the local cannabis community.

So in the new year working on this campaign, we will be highlighting local cannabis culture as something unique to Northern California that can only be truly experienced here. By connecting these historical stories with local, legacy / equity cannabis businesses as well as nearby hotels, restaurants, and attractions mapped along The Cannabis Trail and pairing cannabis effects with unique experiences in Oakland, Mendo and Humboldt, we’ll establish Northern California as a destination for anyone interested in cannabis.

Patient access to medical cannabis began in my little corner of Northern California, and landmarks in that movement along with stops in the traditional outdoor growing communities a bit further north in the Emerald Triangle are highlighted on The Cannabis Trail, which spans from Trinity County down to Santa Cruz.

Next year’s campaign, as well as working with several of Brian’s other destination, tourism and cannabis clients, is just the beginning. I can see this type of work supporting and rekindling the struggling cannabis industry. It’s been a rough last few years, and until something changes on the federal level, cannabis operators will have to grow their own market, collaborate with other industries, and explore new ways to bring in enough revenue to survive.

Sonoma Hills Farm in Petaluma, my favorite local farm to visit for events
The beautiful cannabis garden at Sonoma Hills Farm in October 2023 – SHF really does cannabis hospitality right and I always love visiting their farm for events.

I’ve gotten to experience some really amazing events, farm visits, unique dispensaries and lounge spaces, industry conferences and parties working in the cannabis industry. I’ve even produced and planned a few of those events. I’ve met so many people across the community who have stories to tell, helpful information to teach, and challenges they are always overcoming. Why not connect the travel and hospitality industries to my cannabis community and offer them a new way to collaborate and thrive together?

I truly believe that collaborating with the robust travel and hospitality industries, and focusing on cannabis effects pairing experiences and all the activities that cannabis can help enhance can be an avenue to preserving the unique legacy of California’s cannabis community. It’s something that the California cannabis industry can hang their hat on that no other market in the world can compare to. Because medical cannabis access began here, and it is the epicenter of cannabis culture and a trendsetter for the American experience with the plant. It’s high time we leverage that story in support of the small legacy farms and struggling cannabis businesses in our community.

I love it when a good team comes together for a worthy purpose. I also love it when my work life overlaps with my passions and interests, so I can do what I love and actually sustain myself and build a future. The recent projects I’ve thankfully acquired connect all the dots and I am so grateful.

This year has flown by. It’s been a roller coaster. But I’m looking forward to 2024 now with new areas to focus my energy and reasons to hope. And I’m also looking forward to wrapping up 2023 with family for the holidays.

Happy Holidays everyone! And here’s to a 2024 full of abundance, collaboration and community. We could all use it!

Seeking New Career Adventures

Me at Lucidity Festival 2023

Wow, it’s been a while. So much has happened since my last update – a global pandemic, starting a job at local cannabis dispensary Doobie Nights after being laid off, exploring my newly discovered polyamorous-ness and developing two amazing relationships, becoming an auntie to my sister’s adorable kiddo Nico, adopting two kitties Mochi and Boba, many fun adventures, and riding the waves of the tumultuous cannabis and events industries. Definitely all worth their own blog post(s)!

What has prompted this long overdue update is that I’m in the market for a new job, and/or freelance projects, so it’s time to stop neglecting my own business in favor of working on my clients’ / employer’s. After almost 4 years as Marketing Director at Doobie Nights, the struggling business (by no fault of their own really – California cannabis is rough) is making cuts, and, well, Marketing always seems to be the first to go (which is not usually a wise move, IMHO). My hours have been cut from full time to very very part time and I’m going back to how I began this role, as a contractor working mostly from home. Ok, maybe that last part is a wise move.

I joined the team at Doobie Nights just before they opened the store, while they were finishing building the unique experiential space. I slowly added more responsibilities to my role as a one person Marketing department over the years, adapting to the changing needs of the business and industry. I led brand and marketing strategy as well as all aspects of digital marketing, website and social media management, graphic design, customer retention and communications, PR and media, event planning, partner marketing, and eventually I supported with operations administration, sales, and nurturing vendor relationships as well. I’m really proud of the marketing strategies and systems that I created and refined, the campaigns and connections I built, and everything I contributed to the company that will serve them for years to come. But with increasing competition, high tax bills and a struggling industry, they eventually could not afford a full time Marketing manager and weren’t able to offer me much room for growth.

Doobie Nights printed materials I designed.

So, here I am on the job hunt again and a little uncertain about not only how I’m gonna pay rent next month, but whether it’s time for another industry switch. As I mentioned, the cannabis industry in California has been hard, mostly because it operates in a legal gray area – totally legal locally and in the state, and still a Schedule I illegal substance federally (while that’s up for review at the moment, DEscheduling is definitely what we need, not this REscheduling nonsense).

Which means that cannabis companies are allowed to exist in California, but we are very limited especially when it comes to advertising and banking options, we cannot sell anything outside of the state or ship our products, and we are strictly regulated and over taxed. The worst hurdle we have to deal with is 280-E, a federal tax code regulation that makes it impossible for businesses engaged in anything federally illegal to write off most business expenses (like Marketing or labor costs) like any other business can. Let’s just say the only people making actual money selling legal weed are the regulators collecting the taxes (at the city, state, AND federal levels, I might add).

Luckily I am always up for a challenge, and have actually been involved in this industry in a variety of ways (from medical patient to activist to trimmer to grower to distributor) since the legacy market days. I truly believe in the power of this plant that has transformed my life. It’s a big part of why I left Idaho for California – those greener pastures! So I know this niche pretty well and have worked in the legal industry since 2018. Our clients at The Hybrid Creative were usually in cannabis, and I have learned a ton being a one person Marketing Department at a dispensary in the heart of NorCal’s weed country.

With this niche experience I know I can be a huge asset to any company in the cannabis industry. Most of my professional experience is in this arena, or other smaller niches – events and non-profits – which all align wonderfully with who I am so it that I can do my best work promoting something I actually believe and specialize in. But this has definitely hurt my job prospects. I don’t have a lot of “traditional” or corporate experience – because I dislike mainstream corporate culture and I do not thrive in that environment. Even though my Marketing skills are universal and transferrable, a lot of my specific platform experience is not (cannabis requires its own proprietary software due to all the legal restrictions and need to connect with the METRC track and trace system). I’ve sent SO MANY applications to all kinds of mid to senior level marketing positions across a variety of industries and haven’t heard anything back from any of them, the only responses I’ve gotten from applications have been within the cannabis industry.

Luckily I have worked on projects for a variety of clients in my freelance career over the years – from personal trainers to nutrition coaches to festivals to fertilizer companies to CPG to community organizations, and I’ve picked up a bunch of new skills like project management, data analysis, video editing, social media management, marketing strategy, budgeting and coordinating a variety of teams. I’ve also learned platforms like Hubspot CRM, Google Business Suite, WordPress, Adobe Creative Suite, Google Analytics, Trello, Alpine IQ, Mailchimp, Asana, SEO, etc. I tend to pick up new tech platforms and skills pretty quickly, since I am what you might call a raging nerd.

I’m keeping my mind open about what’s next, but if I can summon my manifestation powers a bit, let’s imagine my “dream” career… Ideally I would like to be able to buy a small house in Sonoma County at some point soon, which is an extremely tall order with housing prices here, but I’m quite over the constantly increasing rent. So I really need to stack some coin, as they say. I am ideally looking for a remote or hybrid role that’s close to full time and flexible, and/or a few more ongoing freelance projects. But no matter what structure my next role or roles takes, my top priorities are feeling respected, appreciated, and fairly compensated for my work; flexibility and the ability to take my work with me when I travel and work mostly from home; and working for an organization I believe in. I have to believe in the company’s mission and offerings if I’m going to successfully market them, because authenticity is the only way, and that cannot be faked.

While the cannabis industry would be the best fit for my experience, I’m also open to branching out and trying something new. I know my skills, adaptability and quick learning would be a great fit for just about industry. Sonoma County has a lot of wineries, and as a regulated industry I think I’d be a great fit there. Or I’d really love to get back into non-profits and doing something that allows me to support a good cause or an organization that serves the community. My friends used to ask me how many animals I’d saved that day working for PETA (my first job out of college was a web designer there). Not that I could ever give a real numerical answer, but I miss knowing my work has a direct positive impact on society. Getting people high and providing relief is nice too, but addressing climate change is probably more pressing and impactful. Can I do both? I’m definitely a fan of “Yes, And” solutions, so let’s see!

I turned 40 this year. I definitely don’t feel middle aged, or ready for menopause at all, and I hope I don’t quite look my age despite all the gray hair (at least until I dye it some wild color again). My 30s were amazing and so full of healing, adventure, growth, discovery and friendship. I needed that after spending most of my 20s in an abusive relationship. I always was a late bloomer, but in the last decade I definitely have come into my own and I’m very proud of where I am now – mentally, professionally, emotionally and sometimes physically. I have built an amazing life for myself and I have a wonderful community, but the one thing missing is financial security and a career I can pour myself into.

One thing I have discovered about myself over the last few years is that I care WAY less about what people think of me – that’s their business, not mine – and I’m much less afraid to be myself, take up space, be heard, and most of all embrace my WEIRD than I used to be. Life is too short to let anyone else tell you how to be you or how to live, and society is pretty messed up so why should I force myself into its boxes? I wish I would have discovered this superpower back in my 20s and stood up for myself a LOT more, and in some areas I still struggle with advocating for myself (especially professionally). But I think I am finally hearing the feedback of my past employers and clients, as well as coworkers, partners, and anyone I have worked with and realizing and embodying my inner badass. I still believe in humility and putting in the work rather than talking a big talk without backing it up for sure. But this timid hesitancy to toot my own horn needs to end, NOW.

I am a badass. I have done a lot of hard work, contributed to the success of every team I have been a part of, learned a ton and met so many amazing people along the way. Even though I am constantly learning new things and trying to improve my skills, I am experienced and knowledgeable and I know what I’m doing. I am enough. And I am worth investing in.

Can I be a badass for your company? Can I support your team and help you reach your marketing goals? Can I add some creative spark to your marketing or some organization to your administrative systems?

If you’re hiring for mid to senior level marketing, creative, operations, or administration related roles that you think I’d be a good fit for, or have a freelance marketing project you’d like to discuss, hit me up! I’m open and ready for a challenge and some new horizons. Check out some of my past work and my resume, and if any of it resonates, let’s connect. Thanks for reading and sending any leads or projects my way!

An Ode to a Decade of Mendocino

Sometimes time passes slowly, and sometimes it flashes by in an instant. And somehow it’s often a strange mix of both. Fleeting but infinite.

When change comes, it sweeps through my life like a tidal wave, knocking everything over, uprooting my best laid plans. It is probably because I so carefully lay those plans, over-analyzing every step, that changes have this affect on me. You think I would learn. But I am, after all, a stubborn Taurus…

Recently I took a chance that set in motion a number of big changes on the horizon. I applied for a full-time position at a creative agency. The sort of place I had always wanted to work, but years of working remotely had spoiled me into stagnation. Maybe the isolation is getting to me. Maybe I’m just getting old. But the time seemed ripe for trading in my freelancer freedom, flexible schedule and nonexistent commute for something different. Something more stable and sustainable.

And just like that, I had a phone interview, followed by an in person one. And as this was a connection through my festival work (once again, thank you Tulku and Enchanted Forest…), I quickly became excited and felt like it was a great fit. Last week I received an offer from The Hybrid Creative in Santa Rosa, who was recently acquired by Kush Bottles, a growing company focused on marketing for the new legal cannabis industry. Instead of getting into an industry as the bubble is bursting, I’m excited to be entering a new frontier, on the come-up, in a space that truly allows for some creativity.

This week as I sort through my storage, let go of what I can, see friends and stop by my favorite spots along the coast along the way, I reflect on what my time here has meant to me. And what it has done to me. I am so excited for the next leg of the journey, but letting go of something I love has never been my strong suit, and change is hard.

Today I stopped at a new stretch of the coastal trail in Fort Bragg, on the Noyo Headlands. I walked to the edge as I often do, I sat down on the rocky earth, and I looked out at the ocean. And then, I wrote this…

Now that I know we will be parting soon, Mendo, I have to stop by all my favorite ocean lookouts when I pass by. I only wish I had done it more…

This place is something truly special, a gem of a tiny community I fell in love with instantly and have spent my hardest but most rewarding years. The rugged Pacific laps the rocky edge of the west coast as I reflect on the journey that brought me here and the one that lies ahead.

Luckily I am not going far, but for the first time in my life I am moving somewhere that is entirely based on only my own choices and desires; I am embracing this change of my own creation and running towards my fears. It is both exhilarating and melancholy…

I first came here with someone who had been here before and very much drove our decision to move here. And while everything else about that relationship was toxic and hurt me in ways I am still struggling to understand, I am so grateful that it brought me here. Mendocino, you have nurtured me through the hardest heartbreaks I have ever lived through. The redwoods have stood tall by my side and the community has been there for me when no one else was. The people I have met here have shaped and shown me who I am. The friends I have made are for life. The healing this place and these people have brought me has literally saved my life and taught me more than any other education I have had.

I have never been more excited to start a new chapter even though it terrifies me a bit that it is all on my own and was a fairly sudden decision. I will miss being able to pull off the highway to a beautiful ocean view at random, being seeped in the deepest silence of nature, and feeling truly alone yet supported and whole. The Mendocino coast is a bit hard to get to, and being behind the redwood curtain is isolating. Luckily I really needed the alone time. And now I am craving change. And a bit more diversity and culture. And inspired by those around me and what is to come, I bid farewell to the place and people who have been my home the past ten years.

Thank you, Mendo friendos. You know who you are. You lifted me up when my heart and my world were shattered, twice. You held me as I shifted careers, made difficult decisions, and explored new waters. Thank you Mendocino. No matter where I travel, nothing compares to driving around that last curve before the ocean view opens up or speeding through the towering redwoods with the windows down and the music blasting… hitting the county line and sighing “home.” This place has changed me, carried me through so much pain and growth, and reflected my own magic back to me when I couldn’t see it on my own.

The people here are something else. It’s a bit of a weird mix, and it takes a certain weirdness and tenacity to survive out here. It’s a bit hard to believe this place is even in California. It feels like another planet sometimes. But the people. Wow. You are so inspiring, creative, imaginative and FUN AS HELL. Especially the women. I love Mendo men too of course, but the female friendships I have made here are just what I have needed. You ladies taught me the true strength and resiliency of the feminine. I seemed to be closer to my guy friends growing up, but the women I have met in Mendo have helped me grow in ways I never knew I could. The entire community’s steadfast support, help and reflection has helped me learn to love and heal myself. The friends I have met here have believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. Thank you.

Thank you for the memories, the trips to Usal, the BBQs and dinner parties, the music and dancing. Thank you for the sunshine and the fog, the amazing climate and the rich soils that have helped me find my green thumb and fed me. Thank you for the learning, the medicine and magic, the growth, the conversations and adventures. Thank you ocean waves who drowned out my tears and the friends who stood by me as I put myself back together again and again. Thank you for the connections, the smiles, the parties, THE FESTIVALS and the sunsets. Thank you for challenging me, and for changing me.

Thank you Mendocino, I am so grateful to have called you home. I’m not sure when exactly it will be, but I know our upcoming goodbye will not be forever. Sonoma, and since it’ll be so close, Bay Area, I’ll see you soon… ???

Production Life, Or, Why I Never Update My Blog Anymore…

Taking a Moment to Take it All In - The Grove at EFG 2018

This post I wrote a day or so after returning home from Enchanted Forest, after my most challenging production cycle to date. I have much more to say on this, as my life lately has been consumed by this work. But my sleep deprived ramble does a pretty great job of summing up why I am crazy enough to give up job security and all things normal in pursuit of Lucid Enchantment… 

My heart aches almost as much as my body. My capabilities and strength have been tested and I’m slowly learning to turn the stress into fuel, not to over-invest or overbook myself, to communicate better and to balance with self care and healthier habits. I am not too sure how I stumbled into this realm, but as I look back on the year that has passed since I shifted my career towards freelance event marketing full time, I am grateful. Uncertain, definitely. Scared, every day. But so fulfilled, astounded, inspired and thankful that I get to work with so many inspiring badasses…

Light Portrait of Collaboratorium friends by Harmonic Light

This industry is unstable and my stubborn insistence on truly believing in what I am marketing doesn’t make things any easier. But I get to bring people together for a living. I am barely getting by most months and don’t have investments or savings to show for my hard work, but I have some of the most epic memories and an impressive wristband collection. I have witnessed some amazing shows and experienced the true meaning of community. I have learned SO much about social media, communication, marketing, the music industry, project management, community dynamics, and myself – and yet there is so much more to learn. I have made many many mistakes. I have been challenged in so many ways and I have invested so much emotion and energy and time into this career at only a few years in that I can’t fathom doing anything else, but I also constantly wonder if I’ve truly lost my shit. ?

This work is HARD. Every job in event production is hard. It breaks people. It is unsustainable, grueling, chaotic and thankless. And everyone just assumes “you must be raking in the dough since you go to so many festivals.” It is horribly misunderstood. Which is true of every creative field I have worked in but especially in the festival scene. It’s underpaid and often unpaid and yet I continue to sign myself up for this madness. I truly must be insane.

But if I’m crazy, at least I’m surrounded by other weirdos who are creating epic experiences, living their dreams and pulling off some impossibly awesome stuff along the way. The more I festival the less I really party at them. The work is the play for me (plus to market the festival I have to experience it, so lucky me!).

While everyone is buzzing around from stage to stage at night, I often stop in my tracks on my determined walks over the venue grounds and turn around. I stop thinking of what I’m off to do next and I just take it all in. I take a deep breath and I open my eyes to see the amazing visuals on the walls of LED panels and the lasers lighting up the trees and the fog like sky glitter. I hear the crisp perfectly tuned sound flooding my senses and I feel much more than the bass reverberating from that beautiful stack of speakers. The energy of thousands of people celebrating life surrounds me and I literally vibrate. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes because yes, I am a sap. ?

There is NOTHING like producer’s high. And though the sleep deprivation and depleted serotonin might be doing most of the talking here, it is in these moments of pausing to take it all in that my heart feels most full and I feel most aligned with my dreams. I may play but a small role in bringing these people together and helping them share their gifts, it may seem really silly to get all sappy and proud that I help throw parties for a living. Especially when most of what I do is very much not a party. But after months of hard work, challenges, learning, herding cats, jumping hurdles, stress, sleepless nights, tears and time, experiencing that moment of pure magic makes it all so worthwhile.

Taking a Moment to Take it All In - The Grove at EFG 2018
Taking a Moment to Take it All In – The Grove at EFG 2018

I spun on my heels to face The Grove stage and the beautiful lights and music, I could see the Flow Zone lit up with friends spinning glowing toys, the light show dancing on the trees overhead, and the sounds of laughter mingling with a dope beat in the air, I thought “we did it. Again. Somehow it all magically fell into place… this really IS an enchanted forest…”

Making magic real is exhausting. But I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do or anyone I’d rather do it with.

What a season so far… Thank you enchanted forest gathering & Lucidity Festivals & FireDrums Fam. I look forward to much more hard work and play to come. 

In Pursuit of Lucid Enchantment…

It’s that time of year again… I have 20+ tabs open, on my browser and my brain. Upgrading my failing hard drive on my five year old laptop felt like breaking through to a new level of existence and a simultaneous brain upgrade and cash hemorrhage. The hustle is ON.

Full steam ahead, two festivals in production, conference calls and projects crammed into every bit of possible off time, plus a part time web design gig and once in a while I even make it to yoga class or take care of the chickens and goats! Yes, busy to the point of slight overwhelm, but what else is new? I thrive on this shit. And there’s not much else to distract me from it.

In November I started my third marketing cycle with Lucidity Festival near Santa Barbara.  Taking place in early April, this unique open-source festival is always a fun chance to see old friends, soak up a little SoCal sunshine, and enjoy beautifully curated music, performances, workshops, and more. Looking forward to the always awesome music lineup, and maybe I’ll actually get my ass in gear and take some workshops this year! Tickets are going quick now that our lineup is out, so hit me up for my discount code & join me in exploring Eudaimonia…

Late last summer & fall I was working on a crowdfunding campaign for their Lucid University project, which is also pretty exciting. Lucid University began as the central workshop / learning space at Lucidity festivals, and last year expanded to offer five immersive 3-day courses that took place the week before the festival, Courseweek. Last year, LU partnered up with a few other aligned folks to collectively purchase a property called Trillium, which had been a retreat & education center, in Southern Oregon. They just recently closed on the land, and a few of my Lucidity co-workers have been spending the winter in cabins up there, learning from the previous stewards and planting the seeds for the new home of a Lucid University education and retreat center and sustainable co-living / co-working community space. The festival, and Courseweek, is still in Santa Barbara, but this opens a whole new chapter of possibilities for this team so that’s really exciting to be a part of! I’ll be checking out the land at the Land-Warming party in May at Trillium.

But first, south to Lucidity in just a little over a month. I am excited to see my friends Pal & Ottie who live in the area and all my Lucidity co-workers and Animal Kingdom campmates! It’s been a long, cold, wet, and stormy winter, and I’m ready for festival season. And some time with old friends. Gonna try to figure out a visit to Idaho somewhere in the madness too…

Once festival season begins, there’s no slowing it down. I am now working year-round for Enchanted Forest Gathering, and we recently announced new dates for 2017 in June. I’m knee-deep in putting content together for the revamped website, and I’m working with an almost entirely new Marketing team this year, which has been really awesome and helped me learn a lot already. Moving to June means even little more overlap between EFG and Lucidity though. The last month or so I have really started to feel the overwhelm, and have gone back into hermit workaholic mode. But with both teams moving along like well-oiled machines and a couple hectic production seasons under my belt now, I feel like I’m finally getting a better handle on this work-life balance thing. Kinda.

The Enchanted lineup is shaping up to be the stuff of legends, and Camp Higher Porpoise is making plans for an even more amazing collaborative Mendoland environment. I am super excited to announce our music lineup this year. OMG. It is SO HARD to keep this one in… but we gotta have a freakin’ website first so let’s just say it will be well worth the wait, and you should definitely BE THERE. Get those tickets meow, and be sure to hit me up for my discount code. You will regret it if you don’t Get Enchanted with us this year.

I am not too sure how many flow arts events I will be able to make it to this year… now that FireDrums is the weekend before Enchanted, it may be a bit hard to go. But I am going to a new event that I’ve been meaning to check out forever, Symbiosis, which will be in Oregon this August on the weekend of a solar eclipse. Badass. A bunch of my festie friends will be there, and it will be nice not to be working at a festival for once, but we’ll see, I may just find a way to work at it yet…

All this work and festivals has been a lovely distraction from the absolute shitshow that is American politics lately, as well as my rather neglected personal life, so I’m just gonna keep my focus there. I have been to some awesome shows the past few months in the Bay, had some yard sales with friends and started cleaning out my storage unit, foraged for edible mushrooms in between rainstorms, got involved in a local activism group called Mobilize Mendo, and marched in the Womens’ March in Fort Bragg, which was super inspiring and uplifting after such a horribly fucked election, and really well attended. I have NEVER seen so many people in one place on the Mendocino coast. And the protest signs—SO CLEVER! Also loved seeing the various National Parks and science / environmental agencies that Twitler has tried to silence and censor rise up on social media with alternate accounts, climate change truth bombs and clever resistance. We need these silver linings in this stormy weather.

My political activism is re-awakening, after getting a bit complacent and wrapped up in my own stuff for quite a while, it’s time to wake up & rage against the machine again. Reminds me of my college days of turning every art class project into a political statement. I never thought I would actually miss George Dubya & his cronies, but I admit it, I do. There is no reasoning with the current batch of fearmongers and I am legitimately terrified for my country. But mostly for anyone who is not a rich white male, and for the planet, for immigrants and our oppressed populations whose already inadequate protections now don’t stand a chance. I can’t even pay attention to the news lately, it’s too much. The rise of fascism is too real and too fast. But I’m bracing for a fight. And I’m focusing on building and supporting the communities who are our only hope. It’s about time to start planting more seeds and growing more food, too…

There is good happening. I am surrounded by amazing and inspiring people, but I can see through the safe walls of my bubble. I know it’s dark out there, and there’s much work to be done. But I won’t let that shit dull my shine, and I sure as hell won’t let it keep me from building the better future I know is possible, because I glimpse it every time I arrive at a festival and see people working together, building community, creating amazing art and celebrating the good we still have.

So I’ll just be here, working, dreaming, dancing, and resisting until the clouds part and the sun returns… Spring is coming. So I gather my strength and look forward.

Those Tricky Transitions

Life has a pretty dark sense of humor… and an odd way of teaching the most important lessons. There have been a lot of silly clichés in my head the past couple months as I try to look on the bright side; I am filled with gratitude even as I’m filled with grief and heartbreak. They make me laugh in their inadequacy yet utter perfection, like bad puns. Like “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” All I can think when I hear this is that I must be a compulsive multi-tasker, because I’m like “WHY NOT BOTH?!” Because both SO apply.

So, yeah, this happened…

Friends & Fam ~ it’s been hard for me not to say much about what’s going on, but as you all know, I am not good at keeping the feels in. And having the same conversation over & over is harder than I thought, so in the interest of keeping things simple, and not vaguebooking, even though this is likely going to spark a lot of attention we’re really not looking for, I feel it’s time to say something a bit more publicly:

James and I have been in transition for a bit now… our chapter as partners is closing. There is no way we couldn’t stay friends, but we’re trying to give each other some space. Letting go is hard, especially for me. This transition has been really difficult for both of us but after many conversations and tears, it’s just what must be. And so on we grow…

Please be a little extra patient and a little extra kind with us as we get thru this in our own ways, and please don’t bombard him with questions or advice or whatever. I am sharing this because it’s been harder for me not to say anything, and he is amazing and understanding about that even though he’s much more private on social media. We didn’t want to make a big deal out of our struggle when it could be so much worse…

So it is with a heavy heart that I share this with our loved ones, but please don’t worry. We’ll both be ok. Eventually. Change is hard, but that’s life. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has been there for us, listened, helped us both move and helped make this difficult time easier. Please know that there are no sides we’re asking you to pick. So grateful to have such an amazing support network. We love you!

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Change is never easy, but it’s pretty much all we’re guaranteed in life. It’s especially hard when you don’t see it coming, when it’s not your choice that brings it on, but maybe it’s even harder when it is… Endings are never easy for anyone. We all have our own ways of processing things. And the ways we process are always changing too. But one thing I have learned is that holding back doesn’t serve me. I am very sensitive and emotionally deep, which I’m sure is a bit intense.

Not everyone can handle my transparency and vulnerability, but writing, thinking and talking about what I’m feeling helps me process the sometimes overwhelming emotions I go through. It feels a little strange to share it online with friends and strangers, and may not always be safe to divulge too much. But when it comes to the real life shit we all go through as we grow, I can’t see a good reason not to talk about it. Sharing our stories and listening to the experience of others is how we connect. Connection is how we grow, create change and build community…

And so we begin this exercise in Letting Go…

I’m trying to see this lesson as a practice. One that makes me stronger, as hardship and heartbreak always do, and one that doesn’t let me harden my heart or hide its real, raw, pain but to feel it, flow through it, and then let it pass. The deep shit, the rock bottom, the darkness is what makes us human. Trudging through it all while refusing to give up all hope, walking in darkness without losing that tiny flicker of light that’s the pilot light of our hearts is what makes us learn and grow.

And so here We Grow…

Thank you, James, for sharing three wonderful years with me. Thank you for jumping in with me, probably a bit too soon, when it felt so right to be and live together. Thank you for supporting me and helping me shine, for seeing me and listening and just being there. For treating me as an equal and believing in me. I wish we had more time, but I’m glad you were wise enough to exit gracefully, and remain my friend.

I am left alone, with a heart ripped open, missing what we had and lost, but grateful to have experienced a love I always believed was possible, a connection deeper than any I’ve felt and a relationship that left me far, far better and more fulfilled than when it began.

These words popped into my head today so I had to write them down in one of many little books of snippets and bits of wisdom I keep around… “The good news is: You Will be STRONGER. The bad news is: It will hurt & it won’t be easy…”

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This is hard. Gut-wrenching, heart aching, breaking down kinda hard. It always is. Especially when it comes to love — for better or worse, I’m all in, and my love can be a bit overwhelming. But there wouldn’t be highs without lows, and life is all about dancing on the edge of darkness and light… Or at least those are the pretty poetic things I tell myself as I nurse this heavy heart and try to take care of myself while simultaneously worrying way too much about him and wondering how he truly feels and what went wrong.

Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming…

We’re not the only ones wading through the muck. And it could be SO much worse. Those cliche silver linings can make all the difference. And so can amazing and supportive friends and loved ones. Grateful and grieving all at the same time. I suppose life is full of such dichotomies. C’est la vie. <3

The Enchanted Life

Photo by Jacob Avanzato

Eeeeeeeeeeek! Where has 2016 gone? How is it mid-July already? Oh, and by the way, will I see you next weekend at Enchanted Forest Gathering? I better. For the last few months, my life has basically been consumed with producing and marketing my favorite festival.

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This post sat blank as a draft for weeks as it grew closer and closer, and somehow it just never got done, with all of my jobs, attempting to pull off a garden this summer, and getting ready to move. Again. (More on that later…) So here we are, less than a week until gates open, and still far from our ticket sales goal, and I am hoping for a miracle as I write my annual love letter to my enchanted family.

The past few months have taught me more than I can really wrap my head around. This entire year has been a roller coaster. Through it all I have been working on Lucidity and Enchanted Forest. I have taken on more than ever before in these roles, doing everything I can to help my team succeed and learning from amazing collaborators in the process. It blows me away that in the span of two years, I have gone from attending and volunteering at festivals to helping create them. I never thought my hobby would turn into my dream job.

My favorite thing about working at these events has been getting to pull my friends into roles in the organizations I work with, giving them a chance to shine, and watching them completely amaze me with their brilliance. I am inspired by the people I have the pleasure of working with every day, and at my friends’ capabilities when given a platform and a purpose. The plans have been in the works for months. Our team has been working our asses off, and this precious child we’ve incubated together over the past six months (honestly, more like six years, as this will mark year six of EFG) is about to be born, ready or not, into a world that may or may not be prepared for it.

I never feel ready. No matter how early we start planning and marketing, the event itself sneaks up on me. But I jump anyway, trusting the hard work I’ve put in, the team that surrounds me, and my community.

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Listening to our amazing music lineup, checking out the weather forecast, and planning our camp full of locals and collected friends from near and far have left me buzzing with excitement.

Last weekend I traveled to Seattle and back to my little sister’s wedding. I feel like being so busy working on festivals has left me with way less time than I’d like to help her plan her wedding, but luckily, she is superhuman, and the entire thing was meticulously planned and went beautifully. We even managed to avoid the rain that was on the forecast. In SEATTLE.

I hated that I had to take my laptop on a wedding trip and spend down time working. But alas, with this labor of love, I can’t give enough. EFG, you have my heart.

I am not only the Marketing Operations Manager, helping keep the marketing machine moving along, but this year I once again co-coordinated the Flow Zone workshop space. This time I got to share that honor with my partner in flow, James, and we are super excited about the talented roster of teachers & performers we’ve put together.

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This year boasts our most epic lineup yet, with some exciting new micro-environments, a HUGE variety of workshops, and all kinds of magic in the making. This year our team, our website and branding, and our systems all got a major upgrade. We’re finally growing into our new venue, Black Oak Ranch, and collaborating with some of the people we could only dream about working with even a year ago. I am truly excited to see where this YUM train goes… I just hope we get enough people there to make this dream viable.

It’s become a very tough and oversaturated market in the last few years, and with so many festivals it has been hard to draw the crowd we need to sustain the ridiculously epic production we’re putting on. The intention is on point, the team is amazing, our lineup is strong, and now as we set sail on this adventure, we can only hope for the best. I believe. I always have. I always will. There is no place like home. And for me, home is among my friends in the Enchanted Forest.

I hope you’ll join me in the dream… We’re building it. Who will come be a part of it?