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<editorsnote> Hi, I'm Jen Friel, and we here at TNTML examine the lives of nerds outside of the basements and into the social media, and dating world.  We have over 75 peeps that write about their life in real time. (Real nerds, real time, real deal.) Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the stories!! </editorsnote>



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#NerdsUnite: Getting over shame one post at a time (An amends to myself)

K, so yesterday I had a breakthrough in my work with the Shaman. Calling it a breakthrough however feels very therapy-ish - and no me gusta el therapy ... so I shall call it the sledge hammering of my soul. 

For reals, the Shaman took onnnneeeee big whack and he very literally made me cry from my soul. It was intense, it was overwhelming - it was long long long over due. 

Hold on - lemme get a song going with this post. I've actually been listening to Dido since our session - so it only makes sense. 

Okey dokey. 

So, lemme just address this upfront; I am of the FIRMEST belief that no matter what, we are all fucked from birth. For reals, no one has a perfect childhood and anything that happened to anyone is all a very much "so what" kinda thing. You can choose to be the victim or the victor in life - and I very very very honestly do not want to be pitied or anything in between when it comes to the publishing of this post. I am writing this out for myself, and for myself only. If people can empathize - rad! But this is me trying to figure out what transpired in my childhood that makes me the way that I am, and makes me SO UNBELIEVABLY emotionally unavailable to guys that I date. I strive to make myself a better person. This post is for me, by me - and my thoughts in this present moment. 

There were three events in my childhood that looking back made me who I am today. Good, bad, or indifferent - they are as follows: 

1) Family estrangement/ emotional abuse from literally the womb

2) Molested by a doctor at 11. 

3) Stalked by two of my best friends in high school and two of my good friends.

I've been a people magnet my entire life. I have INSANELY powerful energy. I get told that all the time by anyone that meets me, and this is also why I have SUCH bat shit stories - because people have been drawn to me from birth. 

That can be a good thing (like in the case of you wanting to launch a business, or by not only getting called on down on The Price is Right, but also winning an entire apartment full of furniture) or a bad thing - like having an attempted kidnapping at 9, molested at 11, stalked at 16, stopping a break in at your house at 17, stopping a carjacking at 22. My life story is a fucking joke man. My mom, dad, and brother can tell you some INSANE stories, and their response to everything is always - "only you Jen." 

This is my constant, people are attracted to me. 

I get this now as an adult, but as a child it was a very very scary thing. 

My parents were UBBBEEEEERRRRR protective of me. Hence why I am as an adult so FEROCIOUSLY curious about everything, and wanting to explore so much of life first hand. I was not only shielded from so much (and rightfully so), but I was very genuinely scared of the world and scared of my own shadow. 

Compounding this fear in my psyche was the fact that the people that my dad grew up with were TOTAL FUCKING ASSHOLES!! And I'm not even saying that in like a whatever, emotional way - but in a VERY MATTER OF FACT FASHION that these people were RELENTLESSLY cruel to a toddler. I look back now being close to their age at the time the emotional abuse began and I am completely flabbergasted. Children are SO FREAKING PRECIOUS!! I can't wait to maybe have one one day so I can conduct social experiments on them.

So little Jen Jen jr. when I take away this barbie from you ... how does that make you feel? 


Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Lemme start with some of my earliest memories. 

So, I've covered the whole emotional abuse from my dad's parents before on the site. This post btw STILL makes me cry.

I felt like writing all of that out was the greatest release ever. YES! Finally!! I'm not stuck with all of these feelings inside of me, everything will become diluted by others reading it to the point where it will no longer be inside of me!! 

YES YES YES YES YES!! I thought. Lifecasting is the GREATEST THING EVERRRR!!! 

I also am a practicing Buddhist, so I not only got to emotionally release that, but also offer them forgiveness. In fact, I'm FRIENDS with some of my dad's siblings on Facebook. I even saw one of my uncles back in June when I was in CT filming Season 1 of Vidblogger Nation. 

There I was in 2011 all of these years after all of that nonsense happened, and I had released the story and forgiven my dad's family by friending them on Facebook. 

The only problem with that was that there was a HUGGEEEE step in that process that I missed - I still owned the shame. 

I would not wish being psychologically tortured as a child on anyone. Emotional abuse is the worst thing ever. And when your grandfather is such an esteemed psychiatrist - trust, they know how to fuck it all up right. I can't stop crying writing all of this out. 

I was just so so so so soooo confused as a child. My dad's family worshipped - WORSHIPPED my brother, THE. SUN. ROSE. AND. SET. ON. HIM. yet, they TO MY FACE denied my existence. 

Where's my number one grandson, my grandmother would coo as I ran up to her every time - SO FREAKING EXCITED TO SEE HER!!! 

The confusion in it all was the WORST part! I had no idea what I was supposed to feel, I just knew that none of it felt good. 

Birthday and holiday after birthday and holiday I would climb into my big brother's bed and just stare at him placing my hands on his chest - what. do. you. have. in. there. that. i. don't. Why can't I be you? You're so special? 

My brother, who is very honestly one of the kindest people on this planet would stare back with his big blue 2 years and eleven months older eyes and say - I don't know Jenny. I don't understand it either. 

My brother and I should have fought against each other, perpetually trying to one up - but we didn't ... we bonded. We were SO young!!! Like 3 and 6, but we KNEW what they were doing was wrong EVEN AT THAT AGE!!!!!! 

My parents did absolutely EVERYTHING in their power to stop this. I can still hear my mom crying as she hugged me saying how sorry she was, and she was so confused as well how anyone could be so cruel to their own flesh and blood. 

This nerderinos, is why my family and I are so close - we're all each other has. My dad kissed off the people he grew up with to be with his bride, the woman that he has loved since grade school (and is STILL madly in love with 31 years of marriage later).

To hear my parents fighting over all of that growing up though was so hard. My parents barely ever fought. Sure, like every couple they would have an argument here and there - but the fights they had over my dad's family were HORRID! 

Oh, and did I mention that my dad's sister also made him sign a blank piece of paper when I was a pre-teen? See, my dad's family is like uber rich. Like crazy uber Connecticut rich where people throw piles of money at each other and have tickle fights. There is a family house in Ireland, and a lot of property over there that apparently was supposed to be shared equally among the family. To date, I have been to Ireland once. And that was with my parents, and we didn't stay at the house - we stayed with my Uncle Manuel (whom I ADORED) and I rode the super huge swinging fences every day. 

Dudes, those things were MASSIVE and went SOOOO FREAKING FAST and then BOOM! Slammed into each other. Ah-mazing. 

The people my dad grew up with are shiesty, shiesty people. The HILARIOUS part in all of this though is had any of them actually KNOWN what kind of man my father is - they would KNOW that all he ever wanted from them was their love and acceptance. Acceptance of his family, acceptance of his choice in wife - acceptance that HE IS THEIR BLOOD!!! 

They assumed that he was only after their money. What a fucking joke, talk about life being reflective. 

So yeah - this story not only involves me, but some really gnarly financial shit and just the worst bad blood ever. 

What's great still in all of this though, is that my dad's sister still sends him Christmas cards like they're friends. How diluted can a person be? It's like excuse me while I fuck you from behind, but stare at me in a mirror while I do it because then you will see that I'm smiling. 

They're genuinely twisted and the more that I try to actually figure any of them out - I am at a loss for words. I have attempted to remove the emotional component of it all, and dissect their personalities as much as possible ... but I can't. They're an enigma because I can't EVER take away the love that I have for my dad in my heart, and how he came from those people is LITERALLY beyond me. 

Being denied from your extended family from birth is a very traumatic thing. I like to say it doesn't bother me - I very genuinely thought I was over it ... but I wasn't. You just learn to compartmentalize so it doesn't incapacitate you. I have no choice but to wake up every day and live my life. I mean sure I can stay in bed, cry my eyes out - but you get to a point where you're sick of being sick and tired. I cried every.single.birthday. for my entire childhood. Literally - my 18th birthday my mom took me to Disney World so I could be at the happiest place on Earth where tears weren't allowed. 

I feel so much shame STILL for what they have done to me, and SO much shame wondering if I am STILL worthy of love. 

Hence why I have LOVE tattooed on my wrist and why I tell people to own their awesome so much. Dudes, I'm just telling it to you all so I can hear it for myself. 

It's a process, and it's still a day to day thing - but I genuinely wonder at what point how can someone NOT take ownership of all of this? 

So, I was born into that family where I was ostracized. I then learned to amuse myself, playing with legos in the basement, growing up in chat rooms (I started typing when I was 2) - then to go from that shame of having your extended family not even not love you, but not accept that you EXIST to then getting molested by a doctor at such a young age?? Aren't you supposed to trust doctors like you're supposed to trust your family? 

It was gnarly - I can remember the entire thing like it was yesterday. 

My brother and I were going in for our annual physical. My parents had recently switched insurance providers so we had a new doctor. Sure, not a problem. I got called to go in first, I don't remember having to get into a gown - in fact I'm like 90% certain I had my jeans on. 

Normally, parental units go into the room with the child while they're about to be examined. In this case my mom got called up to the counter to talk about something with the new insurance provider. 

Fine, not a prob. I was a REALLY independent kid so I had no problem being alone. 

The doctor then came into the room, and said he was going to check a few things out. 

Fine, again, used to this. 

He put the stethoscope down my shirt, looked in my ear, did that weird knee jerk thing ... all totally normal. 

Then he actually put his hand under my shirt and said I was going to develop nicely when I hit puberty in a few years. 

I instantly left my body at that point. I had no idea what this guy was doing, but like with the confusion I felt as a child with the people my dad grew up with - I knew this shit wasn't good. 

I was still sitting up at that point, so he then asked me to lay down. 

I remember unbuttoning the top button on my jeans - so YES! I was wearing jeans, not a gown. 

He said he had to take a look to make sure everything was fine "down there." 

My parents had told me up, down, left, and right as a kid that these were my "privates." And should anyone EVER touch them for me to tell them. Was totes kosher for passover with that - but this was a doctor. Isn't he supposed to do these sort of things? 

He then stuck a finger inside of me, and I remember how weird it felt. I hadn't masturbated at that point and the sensation was INCREDIBLY weird. 

It lasted for all of 60 seconds or less - but I knew our last doctor had never done anything like this before. 

I remember getting up and leaving the room getting a glowing recommendation from the doctor that all was well. I believe I was even given a lollipop. WINNING! 

We were only in the office for a few more minutes longer so my brother could get checked out. I said nothing to my mother, and nothing to my parents out of not wanting to misbehave. Again, a doctor is TOTALLY supposed to check you out, right? Totally normal. 

Few more years go by ... I was 17, and I had a gnarly kidney infection. I had no idea why as a kid but LITERALLY every other month or so I was always in and out of the drs office or hospitals. Kidney infections, asthma, the flu - I was the sickest kid ever. 

Either way, I was in the hospital, and I remember the doctor telling me he had to give me a cathader and to do that he had to go "down there." He then said he had to have two female nurses in the room and he was going to walk me through step by step everything that he was doing so I felt comfortable. 

Is this your first pelvic exam, he asked? 

See, girls don't have to get pap smears and all that fun stuff until they are 18. 

I thought back to that doctor and wondered if it was the same thing. Then, with my legs in that weird stirrup thing - it hit me like a TOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN of bricks that, holy shit, this is not at ALL what I experienced as a pre-teen. That exam never should have been done, and CERTAINLY not without my mother in the room. 

I was crying so much out of pain that I never even let a tear be designated for that doctor. I knew what he did was wrong, I KNEW my parents should have at LEAST been in the room, or a nurse ... SOMEONE!!! But in that moment, I very literally remember telling my brain - I just can't go there. 

Yes, first exam, I lied. 

I then blocked it out of my memory until I was in my 20s and during a boxing session at Hollywood Boxing Gym, I had a HEAD TO TOE flashback of my experience. It AMAZES me how much the brain can block things out - and for how long ... but things can ... and will ALWAYS come back and manifest in other ways. 

I started crying, excusing myself from the session, and quickly called my parents. 

I relived everything in that experience to them over the phone. What was his name?!? I want to google him!?! I remember he had this mole. 

We also never went back to the doctor, it was that one visit - then nothing. I questioned my parents on that ... 

Mom, why did we never go back to him after that day? 

I can't tell you why Jen. I just got a creepy vibe from him. That's why we paid out of pocket so you guys could go back to your old doctor. 

Paying out of pocket btw for two young parents who were STRUGGLING to make ends meet was a really. big. deal. 

This all makes so much sense, I confessed. 

I then called my high school to have them pull the paperwork (even all of these years later your high school still has all of your old school records and shit. Again, the exam was for school, so it made sense.)

I then googled like mad wondering what the statute of limitations were on such a case, and what my options were - even calling my old pediatrician and asking him for his advice. 

You have to press charges, Jennifer. You have to - he said. 

To this day, I have never pressed charges. I'm ashamed to admit that, but this mother fucker was SO old even then - and I've BEEN through the legal system with the stalkers (get to those in a second) ... it's exhausting. The worst part about being stalked wasn't the actual stalking, but rather having to go through not only the criminal side of it all, but the civil as well. It's messed up, and there is no justice in our justice system - only laws. 

It's my word against his. My mom wasn't in the room, nor my brother - so you have my pre-teen self, and my mom's "bad feeling" on why we never went back. It's a joke, and there's no fucking way emotionally I can go through anything like that. 

I know what he did was wrong, yes I was violated - what am I going to do now, throw a parade? Beg for an apology? 

I am attempting in this to explore some of the shame, but life was just so fucking hard at that point. To be dealing with all of my family issues, have almost no friends at school, just really really really good grades, to then being molested by someone ELSE you were supposed to trust? When is enough ever enough? How can I raise that white flag and say - okay, I just give up! I'm a kid! When is this shit going to be more like Saved by the Bell and less like a horrible after school special. 

It's amazing how even at that age I didn't want people to feel sorry for me. (That came later in my 20s) Everytime something bad happened I just learned how to compartmentalize so I could move on, and then would write my feelings down in my journal when I could have an appropriate crying session. 

I became this machine. Extended family sucks, doesn't even think that you are worthless - they are COMPLETELY apathetic to you. Doctor performs pelvic and breast exam on pre-teen - stop trusting doctors. Stop wanting to ever go to a doctor. Yet, I kept getting so fucking sick ALLLLLLLLLLL the time I had no choice. 

Rinse, cry, repeat. Rise, cry, repeat. It was a joke how systematic my emotions became at that time. Again, I could choose to sit there and cry all of the time since this shit never seemed to end, or I could just write about it til my little hand started to hurt. 

I sought a lot of solace in chat rooms as a kid. AOL chat was very literally the greatest thing to ever happen. I remember going into a bunch of teen chats talking to kids, FINALLY having friends and FINALLY being able to relate to people. Sure they were from all around the world, but who cared - I finally had a connection with someone ... SOMEWHERE. 

I got into chat rooms in 7th grade, and by 8th grade we moved to a new town (West Hartford, CT) and where as I was one of the only people in town with a computer in Bristol (where I was born) EVVEERRRYYOONNNEEE in WH had a computer. Translation: EVERYONE was on AOL instant messenger. 

Things were okay when I first got to the new town. I was such a teacher's pet in Bristol, that year I was LITERALLY named Student of the Year. Not even month - the ENTIRE FREAKING YEAR - but by the end of the last semester, I sunk into a gnarly depression.

Kids in WH were fucking cruel, and I was an offie weird little thing. I'm a nerd man, and there you have all of these kids who were SO competitive, and SOOO freaking rich - I mean wow, I was definitely upper middle class back then - but the tutors and homes these kids had ... it would blow your mind. More. Money. Than. The. God. That. Doesn't. Exist. 

Then came high school. FREAKING FINALLY, I thought - that year I became besties with this chick named Amber. We were totes sister from a different mister, brothas from another motha. Finally ... freaking FINALLY I had someone IRL that I could connect with. Freaking FINALLY someone my own age to get close to. Freaking FINALLY someone to love. 

That relationship ended up with the fact that I now have a lifetime restraining order against the chick. 

It's insane - and looking back, STILL shocks me. 

Amber was off balanced. She had gone through a lot of family issues, and sure - looking back, it all makes sense why she snapped. But what in me had that as my best friend. What in me attracted that situation? 

She wasn't even particularly nice to me a lot of times. She always put me down, or would say things like "I created you. Don't you ever forget that." Gives me chills to think about. Read the post to know what I mean. 

I take responsibility for my part in that, but again - I never accepted the shame. How can someone be hated so much by their own family, have all of this crazy shit happen to them as a kid, and then ... to finally ... and I mean FINALLY have a friend in this world, and to have them end up stalking you?? How can you NOT take on some of that ownership??? 

But it's just that ... it's not ownership for actions in a clinical way - I have to tap into the root of the emotion behind it, and that is shame. 

The shaman sat me down after our session yesterday and said, okay, this has come up a few times now - you turn cold in our sessions. Jen, I was sweating in that room. 

I looked up at him knowing that this wasn't good, and holy shit - even when I've been meditiating in my own home, I could FEEL how cold I can get. Straight. Up. Goosebumps. 

What are you blocking? he asked. 

I stared back very genuinely having no idea. How much more open can you be with someone, I thought! Here I am laying on this table, in this room inside of his office. 

I'm intuitively going to tell you that you need to make amends with someone. There is something you are not letting go of. 

The second the words escaped his mouth I started crying. 

I knew what he was saying and JUST moments before our session I had called my mom to tell her that I had a dream about grandpa (my dad's dad) the night before. 

I sobbed hysterically in his office. I can't make amends, he's not even here anymore, and the people that are are just out to fucking lunch. I've done everything!! I've forgiven, friended in social media - what else do I do?? I begged. 

They were so so so cruel to me, I sobbed hysterically very literally feeling every tear coming straight from my soul. 

Who does that to a child, who? I cried. 

Maybe you need to make the amends then to yourself. 

He then took me into the back room as I sobbed and he placed his hand on my back. I could IMMEDIATELY feel the fire. 

It burned like a mother fucker. 

I continued to sob as we talked. 

I feel so much shame, and I've never admitted that before. It's one thing to have something happen to you once - it's another for it to never let up for your entire childhood, and by so many people you were supposed to trust. Why would you ever put your hand back on a stove again if you got burned the first time? Imagine being COVERED in burns - then what? 

I don't know how to truly ever let my guard down, I just got incredibly lucky launching a business in all of it. 

Let down the mask, he said. It's okay. 

I continued to sob for about the next 20 minutes. I cried for the doctor, I cried for my extended family, I cried for the stalking - I cried straight from shame. 

I had never felt a release like that in all of my life. 

He then gave me an affirmation and a song to listen to. (He kindly asked me not to share.) 

And just like that, I became aware that I need to make amends to myself - this is something that a decade in therapy never even came up. 

My amends to myself: 

I'm sorry for the pain Jennifer. I'm sorry for the hurt. I'm sorry for it all, but this doesn't belong to you anymore. You are loved, you are worthy of being loved, and fuck me silly - girly mcgirlerson you've got some good shit coming up - so enjoy it! It's all yours, you deserve it, and you. Jennifer. are. enough. 


Want your own shaman experience? Drop him a follow on the twitter and check out his site for more info on booking an appointment. The dude blew me away yesterday. Blew. Me. Away. So grateful, shaman. Thank you so so so so sooooooo much. xoxoxo love 


#NerdsUnite: 27 Year Old Angst 

I had a great session with the shaman yesterday. It literally took me a solid 5 minutes afterwards to be able to move my body again.

It's hilarious going to his office because the first 15 minutes I usually sit and blab about whatever it is I have been experiencing. In our last session I mentioned how much more confident I am becoming in business. It's a weird side effect of the Reiki he's been doing on me - I am getting FIERCELY matter of fact on things that used to scare me.

Running a business isn't an easy thing. I've never launched a brand before, I have no idea what I'm doing - but I'm not ruled by the dollar, I just wanna keep doing cool shit, so listening to that - and following my gut down that path so far has been good. Over the last few weeks because of his work, I can tell that I'm just becoming more Yes. No. Just FUCKING DO IT!!!!!

I'm over small talk, I'm over excuses - it's just put up or shut up time.

I then confessed to him that I've been feeling better regarding past relationships, and releasing some of that anger.

I'm just in such a personal funk right now. I'm a dudes chick, (product of having an older brother and being SUPER close to him) and right now - there is no dude.

And not relationship wise, obvs - but I have some of the best guy friends ever that I don't talk to anymore. Mostly it's because we've dated and they're now in relationships and they don't want to jeopardize anything with their girlfriends (totally understand) - but it makes me so freaking lonely at the same time.

I don't have someone to skype with, send cutesey little text messages to - or even complain about whatever stress I am currently experiencing. I've always had that with my guy friends, and now everyone is growing up and doing their own thing.

I know I'm doing this, and I know I'm designing this - I just don't know how to undo it. I've been so hurt in the past that I am attempting to stay grounded and practical, but the practicality seems to consistently get in the way.

I'm good at reading people and analyzing situations, but sometimes my big brain overanalyzes too much and it can get me in a lot of trouble. UGGHHHHHHH!!! So frustrating.

The shaman suggested me spending New Years by myself, and focus 2012 strictly on fixing myself. I'm clearly seeking validation through dating, but I'm not quite sure why - its unconscious. Dudes, how do you date half of Los Angeles and still remain single? It's not the dudes, it's me and BAAHHHHHHHH its frustrating.

Just gotta keep at it. Work on the you and let the rest fall into place. All of this I know, but it doesn't make it any easier.

I can't thank the shaman enough though for all of his work. The room yesterday during our session got FREAKISHLY, and EERILY cold. He said he had to stop for a moment because I literally froze the tip of his quartz off. Super duper eerie shit.

It's amazing too because again, all I do is lay on this massage table for an hour and go into a trance. I'm conscious the entire time, just off in my own little world while I can see shadows and smell his various aromas working their magic.

Literally one of the coolest experiences ever, and when you're done you totally trip balls. Fucking insane that this can be legal!!!

But yes, Master Shaman @realityadjacent - I am listening. I really am ... it just makes me sad sometimes.

Work on the you. Work on the you. Work on the you.

Now excuse me while I go get ready to be flogged this evening. SUH-WEET!


So yeah! I go to a Modern Day Shaman, and he's based here in LA and TOTALLY FREAKING ROCKS MY WORLD!!!! It's not at all scary, nor does he give me anything to ingest, or whatever. Totally legal, totally safe, totally awesome. He's got my business for life, yo! Check out Brendan over here on twitter and totes check out his site for more info. It's good stuff!!! xoxoxoxo


Introduction to Modern Shamanism: A #Nerd's Eye View 

<editorsnote> A few weekends ago @realityadjacent gave TNTML passes to check out an Introduction to Modern Shamanism workshop in Manhattan Beach, CA. I was all AHHH-MAZZINNGG ... except, I was booked to be in Seattle that weekend. NOOOOOOOO!!!!! Fortunately, my buddy Steph was able to step in and she wrote about her experience! SUHWEET! Please note, while my shaman @realityadjacent did send us this dude's info - it is NOT his workshop. Brendan is SOOO freaking rad man! Just had another session with him yesterday and it literally took me 5 minutes before I could move my body again. CRAZY!!!!! Either way, this is not that, but just so you all know. I only have one more thing left to say ... HIT IT STEPH!!! </editorsnote>

#TalkNerdyToMeLover's @StephBelsky

One of the greatest lessons you learn while studying long form improvisational comedy is to always say, “Yes.”  Always. It’s far more fun to perform, and for the audience to watch, a scene where the improvisers agree with their scene partner rather than deal with conflict. Naturally when Jen Friel offered me an extra ticket to, “An Introduction to Modern Shamanism with Hamilton Souther” I immediately said yes to the opportunity.

What I knew of shamanism prior to my intro course was limited at best and I’m typically one of those spontaneous, spur of the moment people but I’m also prepared. I tried to research on the event itself but also knew I had to have little to no expectations for what I was getting myself into. Luckily, there wasn’t much information around the event (ok I did some Googling) so I could go in completely blind. Julie Wilson and I had a call the night before to discuss our plan of attack and carpooling so that when we walked in wearing yoga pants and leggings, and everyone else was wearing jeans and boots, at least we would feel completely out of place together. And that’s exactly what happened.

After disposing of our corporate Starbucks TM coffee cups because we felt that we’d be judged by hemp loving, body odor nausea inducing, incense burning, damn the man hippies, we walked into the Manhattan Beach Marriott. We congratulated ourselves for making the decision to leave the yoga mat in the car and were greeted by coach Brendan Everett, (, who has worked with Jen and graciously provided us with the extra tickets. We walked into the ballroom to find a circle of 30 chairs and a soundtrack consisting of a combination of maracas, rainsticks, and indigenous Amazonian drums. Julie had joked in the car that it was going to be one of those, “I see your light, and I appreciate you” workshops and it seemed that was going to be the reality of the situation. I thought for a hot second that I’d be a real jackass and use this as an excuse for a cheap comedy bit. I’d play the straight man and ask the shaman questions as if he were a WoW expert: Do you throw lightning bolts? Can you see into the world of spirits and communicate with creatures invisible to eyes of normal beings? When did you discover this other realm? On Draenor, now shattered Outland, the orcs were shamanistic; on Azeroth, trolls and tauren were shamanistic. Though shamanism on Azeroth flourished and still continues to, shamanism on Draenor was all but extinct by the time of the great crossing of the Horde into Azeroth via the Dark Portal. Your thoughts?

As the session started though, I realized I couldn’t be that much of an asshole and just had to drink the kool-aid, leave my New Yorker cynicism and expectations at the door – afterall, I live in California now, and jump on the bus full force. Our rockstar shaman Hamilton went around the room and introduced himself and when he stopped at Brendan they did a little, “Who’s on First” bit which went a little something like this…

Hamilton: Hi, I’m Hamilton

Brendan: Wait, I thought I was Hamilton.

Hamilton: You are you and I’m you.

Brendan: If I’m you and you’re me, then we already know.

Hamilton: Yes, we do. What time is it?

Brendan: It’s now o’clock.

They gave themselves a good laugh and Hamilton went on with the introductions. This is how the day began.

Any pre-conceptions I had were left at the door. I had to turn it all off and buy in to what Hamilton was selling. When I embraced whatever was about to happen, overhearing a conversation consisting of, “…I laughed so hard doing my arcani yatra (sp) practice, that water came out of my nose!” and, “Those of you that were here yesterday, how was everyone’s sleep last night? Was it deep? Did you have weird dreams?” was just par for the course. Yes. And please. 

So what is shamanism? I still don’t really know because Hamilton never actually defined it. He comes across as slightly aspergeresque in speaking to the group, as if he’s a punk ass middle schooler explaining how to be the dungeon master; very straightforward, authoritative, and matter of factly but in explaining very abstract and heady concepts. Personally, I don’t think you can actually define shamanism but here’s what I picked up. It’s a culture relegated to a spiritual society, formed out of everyday experiences based on a foundation of spiritual journey. Duh. It’s people engaging themselves and their environment in order to alter one’s current state of emotional being, consciousness, and essence of who they are. Clearly. According to the shamans, through spiritual guidance, trances, and a retraining of the mind, one will experience a change of self. Obviously. Potentially, once you unlock these techniques in the altered reality, you can work through the hierarchy of mastery into your own reality of daily life and invoke your principal guide through any and all situations, which of course were predetermined by your journey. There is no dogma that you have to believe in, just exploring what’s already inside of you. Oh and then there are the “principal guides”- beings with the following characteristics: they are omniscient, always truthful, know everything about you, know how to guide you, knows all OTHER spirits, and knows how to bring those spirits to you based on your needs. Ok…I’ll go with it. So how does one summon the principal guide? The principal guide comes from the invocation of the definition itself. How much weed are you going to smoke later for this to make sense. I live in California now, after all.

Tangible experiences I can wrap my head around. The first exercise we participated involved a blank cubed space which was approximately the size of the ballroom. There is a clear wall in front of you, one behind you, a surface below you, to the side of you, and above you. You are standing inside the space. You pick up the rubber purple ball that is on the floor next to you. You bounce the ball and catch it in your hands. As I’ve had this experience before, I know what the texture of the ball feels like, what it would look like, and can hear the sound of the ball hitting the ground and popping back up. Ok, done. Next, you bring in a glowing sphere into your space. So there’s your space, your purple ball, your glowing sphere, and you are standing in the middle of the sphere in the middle of the space. Fine. Now, bring in a red disk. Ok subconscious you know what a disc looks like and what you associate with the color red, now place that in your space with your purple ball and your sphere. Now add an orange disc. Now add a yellow disc,  green disc, blue disc, purple disc (not to be confused with the purple ball on the ground in your space), and finally indigo. Indigo? Now jump from disc to disc. Great. Now add a door on your blank space and open it and walk into a new space that isn’t clear, it’s blue. Cut to: Hamilton quickly chanting ROYGBIV and participants manipulating the different colored spaces and jumping through time until they felt like they were going to throw up. Imagine the scene from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory with the acid trip boat ride and the glass elevator breaking out of the building. Yeah, kinda like that.

Prior to moving into the second trance state, we had to loosen up our bodies with child’s pose and some blood circulating yoga movements. And then the chanting and singing and rattles started and we were brought into the trance state. Again. With the lights off and bodies strewn about the floor, we were told that we were going to travel. We weren’t told where or for how long or why. We were just relying on our principal guide to take us there. I remember hearing Hamilton and his partner/wife chant- it might have been made up words, it might have been another language, regardless of what it was it was beautiful and I was relaxed. I just traveled the entire fucking color spectrum, I was exhausted! Ok re-focus, just relax. The only English words I remember hearing or picking up on were the various kinds of trees and animals, specifically hummingbird, lion, and spruce. Hamilton asked me to travel, so I traveled. I went back to Upendo orphanage in Muranga Town in Kenya where I was this past June, I flew over what I think was New Zealand though I’ve never been, I was on a boat among beautiful glaciers in Alaska, and could feel the brisk December chill on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. I was in a desert one minute and a tropical paradise the next and I never left Ballroom B. Maybe my practical guide is an airplane.

And just when I thought I had hit my shaman stride, the lights flicked on and I opened my eyes. I sat up and looked around. I was dizzy. Brendan looked over at me and said, “Wow. You look completely different.” It was time to break for lunch or rather, “injest the food spirit.”

Upon returning to the ballroom two hours later, the spell was broken. Maybe it was the fact that we went to Samurai Sam’s fast food sushi (because that’s a thing in Los Angeles) in the middle of stripmall but for whatever reason I became acutely aware of the situation I had put myself in and couldn’t seem to re-focus or relax. Keep in mind, Hamilton Souther leads 35 Iowasca (sp) ceremonies a year in Peru (where his physical body lives) and spends, “very little time in a world based on linear geography.”  I think that’s probably what shifted me out of my altered reality. That, and the weird guy who sat on the floor with his mouth gaping open, who was clearly only doing this workshop under the false pretense that thre would be Iawasca at the end of this tunnel. Oh, and I failed to mention he walked around the chair circle with burning incense that made me nauseous. I’m a terrible hippie; I hate incense. And ptchouli. Point being, I couldn’t get back into it for the final trance state so when Hamilton told us we were going to travel through TIME I had myself a good laugh and chalked it up to a lovely way to spend a Saturday.

I couldn’t help myself, I told Hamilton after the last trance that I was frustrated and distracted. He asked if my practical guide showed itself; it had not. He told me that was totally normal and it was just an intro class. Like me, my practical guide is fashionably late. Fair enough, master. All snark aside, I have a new found appreciation and respect for this type of work and I told Brendan I’d like to set up a shakra cleansing appointment with him soon – that’s a thing, right? Also, my next travel destination of choice: Peru for an Iawasca ceremony with Hamilton.

The session ended  6:45pm. Julie and I got in the car and rehashed our weird ass day. Ironically, Radiohead’s Karma Police was the first song that came on the radio.



#WTF: About last night ... can I get a rundown? (Shaman, accidentally ending up in Venice, crashing 80s dance party)

HAHAHHAHAHA omg I am practically peeing my pants with excitement telling you all this story. First up though - I slept like a BBAAABBBYYYYYY last night, can't remember a time I slept in this late. WINNING!!!

Here's the song that goes with the post ... it's my happy hippie song and just so happened to be playing on Pandora when I was at the Shaman's office. Hit 'em with the remix baby!!!!

So, first up - the Shaman. OMMMMMGGGG he was good. Holy crapsicles batman.

His name is @realityadjacent, and he is friends with my buddy @catielaffoon - and she had told him about the site, or ... not quite sure how that went down ... but when he saw my post on giving up casual sex, he sent me a love note on Facebook asking if he could be of service.

Dudes, anytime a modern day shaman reaches out wanting to help you ... YOU SAY YES!!!! 

We arranged for a time to meet up on Friday, and BOOM just like that - there I be.

I walk to the address, and laugh at the sign on the door ...


Only in Los Angeles would the gateway to nirvana have a casting notice.


I go upstairs, and am greeted at the door by Brendan.

Immediately I can tell this dude is no joke - he's UNBELIEVABLY present. His energy just sucks you into the now. No other word for it.

I sit nervously on the couch not really sure what to expect, and not really sure what I am going to be doing.

He asks me to stand.

I oblige.

He places his hands around my body - stopping somewhere around my back.

Yep, that's where I thought you'd have problems ... in your back. You're not letting go of the past.

No, I tend to dwell on it - but I can very honestly say that I am a LOT better now. I just don't know how to let go of hurt.

I then explained to him that out of 103 dates in 9 months I found the ONLY 4 that were emotionally unavailable.

I'm DESPERATE to break this pattern, I say. I can't keep living life the way that I am dating wise - it's not fufilling.

Well, let me ask you this. How quickly did you realize the 4 were emotionally unavailable?

Ummmm .... the first one took a couple of weeks to almost a month, the second one took a week, third one took two dates, fourth one I spotted on the first date.

Wow, and you don't call that progress, he said. Look at that!! You have to understand each person in your life is an individual experience. You can't lump all of these guys in together. Yes you may have a pattern, but recognizing it is part of the first step. Now, he said, I bet you can spot them even in an email.

YEP!! I said with pride because I HAVE in fact turned down dudes that I could tell were emotionally unavailable based on verbiage in their emails.

From what I've read about you, and can see in person - you trust yourself, but only about 70% of the time.

You're right, I say cutting him off.

I just wonder all the time if what I do is nuts. People really really really respond to it, but can't really wrap their heads around it. I know it's just the tip of the iceberg though - personal brands and narrative advertising are the future. It's just hard I guess not having others around you keeping you in check, but I just deal and pray it's not the most insane thing in the world. It feels good at least, so I keep going. 

He smiles.

You ready?

He asks me to go inside the room and lay down on this massage like table.

I take off my Vans. I warn you, these things get pretty smelly!!! I place them under the table trying to mask the odor as much as possible.

Ah yes, your famous Vans. Hahaha.

Dude, I love these things! Most comfortable shoes ever!!

I agree!

Yep, we can totes be besties I think as I lay down on the table.

He asks me to close my eyes and turns on a Sigur Ros CD.

I then for a moment felt alarmingly vulnerable. Here I am on a table with this guy I just met in the MOST vulnerable position ever ... I don't know this guy! What is he going to do, right now?

I then snap back into the present moment, and remember how comfortable he made me feel - quit it Friel. Turn the big brain off, you are safe, you are fine - enjoy the ride.

I drift away into the music and after a few moments into a very very very deep meditation.

He never touched me, he never gave me anything to ingest ... he (from what I could feel) only placed his hands around my energy field and worked his magic. I kid you not ...


I could FEEL him doing things to my crown, literally stretching and pulling my energy field.


On an energetic level I would feel cold for one second, and then IMMEDIATELY followed with this overwhelming sense of joy, and love, and ... comfort. No other word for it. It was warm, so unbelievably warm.

This followed throughout my entire body.

I have very literally never been in such a deep meditation, nor have I ever felt anything like this. I was on the verge of tears at one point - I have never felt love in my body like I felt in that moment. So much abundance.

I have no idea how long I was down for, space and time stopped existing. After however long, he asked me to start to wake up, and he played this tape on accepting love as I opened my eyes. 

I rise from the table.

That was the most intense feeling I have ever had in my entire life. I could feel you, and you never touched me.

Oh, I know.

Are you okay to drive?

It's fine - I still don't have my car back, I take the bus.

You can't take the bus like this! Here, where are you going?

West Hollywood.

I'm going back that way anyway - I'll give you a ride.

We then got in his car (Shamans don't do that bad for themselves!!!), and he drove me to WeHo.

How did you get into this? I asked

3 years ago, I was 100 lbs overweight hating my life, hating my job - just existing, and one day I said enough!!!

I realized the root of my depression was in my job, so one day I just quit. I had nothing to go to, but I couldn't do it anymore. Then the VERY NEXT DAY, a friend of mine said she was going to go to Australia and wanted to know if anyone wanted to come along - I booked my ticket and never looked back.

He then traveled all around the world, and had his own epic adventure and eye opening experience.

I never really meant for any of it to happen, I just kept going with the flow.

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! I said. Dude, so many people don't get that, you just have to make the decision to leap - the universe will always catch you, but you have to trust!

I then realize I am preaching to the choir - quiet Friel. This is a shaman you are talking to.

He then drops me off in WeHo, and the second I walked outside I felt UNBELIEVABLY vulnerable. Everything looked so ... bright, and people were staring.

Lemme break this feeling down for you though - you know when you're tripping balls, and you're not doing it with people around you ... you wonder if the world can tell you're tripping balls - so you start feeling vulnerable and a bit paranoid?? That's what this was. I immediately felt like OMG the world is staring at me ... which was prolly true because I was holding myself in this weird arm-med cross-ed awkward kinda way.

<tangent> FTR, my stance on drugs is neither here nor there. I smoke pot occasionally, have rolled on E a handful of times, tried salvia, never done shrooms - although I wanna try one day, and haven't done lsd, acid, or anything too hardcore. I very very very genuinely believe though that some of these drugs have holistic roots and can help expand your mind. BUUUUUTTTT addiction runs pretty rampant in my family and that whole slippery slope thing just ain't my style. Stay in school nerderinos! Stay in school! </tangent>

There I was at 4pm in the afternoon on a Friday walking down Santa Moncica blvd fucking TRIPPING BALLS.

I can't even explain it - HE DIDN'T GIVE ME ANYTHING!!!! I just felt this wave, and rush ... and total body high.

I felt unbelievably vulnerable, but unbelievably ... good.

Fuck yeah bitches!!! ::nerdy high happy dance::

I don't know what he did, but if this shit is legal - I shall be returning!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!!!!

I then walked back to my apartment and proceeded to lay on the floor and couch until my roommate came home. I focused my energy on love like the shaman said.

Breathe in the love ... breathe out the hurt. Gold in ... smoke out ...

After a few hours the high eventually wore off, and I became aware that I am 26 and it's a Friday night. Time to part-aaayyyyyy!!!

I had hit up my sexy skype partner as he had said he wanted to go out when I got back.

RAD! I thought.

Texted him ... so, are we still on for later?

::text:: Yep, I'll call you when I'm done with work.

He lives by the beach, so I figured no matter what I could at least venture near his neck of the woods since beach people don't normally jive with the Hollywood scene. I then take the city bus and hit up a friend in Santa Monica and kick it for a bit.

At around 9:30 I text him back.

::text:: what's kickin chicken?

I don't hear anything.

Ah, bloody hell. Well, whatevs - I know peeps here, so let's have a good time and see what's going down.

I then pop over to Yankee Doodles on the promenade to see a buddy - and unfortunately he wasn't there.

BOOOO!!! I thought. But fortunately I had made friends with another one of the bartenders. What can I get ya sweetie?

Meh, just a bud light please.

BOOM! On the house.

Dude, seriously? Thank you!!

I then start drinking and the guy two stools down starts talking to me.

Excuse me, are you here alone?


Alone ... alone?

Well, one would think being alone would be well ... being alone.

Hi, I'm Jen, I say as I outstretch my hand.

Dell, and this is my buddy ... 

Nice to meet ya duderinos.

What do you do, Jen?

Ah, I run a website.

Wait, you do web design?

Well, I can - but right now I just run the site. It's my baby, so I'm just in the process of growing it.

He then explains to me that he makes custom bikes, and had been talking to someone about web design this week but wasn't even sure how to formulate the questions.

How much is he going to charge you?

$50 a month.

What are you getting for $50 a month though? Like is there a one time rate, plus that? Is that his hosting charge? How often do you need the site to be updated? Is SEO included in that?

You're talking spanish to me, he said.

Here ... you tell me what you're looking for exactly, and I can tell you how to formulate the questions to the duderino.

We then sat and talked tech, and for my service he bought me a beer.


I then gave him my email addy and told him to reach out if he has questions. This is my pro bono work, I said. I can't stand it when people get hosed in this industry just based on not knowing what they were supposed to get. I had a friend once charge 12K for a fucking twitter page. Literally. JUST THE PAGE!!! No digital strategy!! I mean go him for getting it, but the person that paid for it is really really really going to HATE social media.

Then my sexy skype partner texts me back.

::text:: had a bad day. tired. rain check?

dude! I'm neevverrr here! Come on! come out for a min

::text:: really really really bad day. he then revealed something personal. very personal.

oh shit, I texted back. alrite, well, then at least let's just say hi or whatever - I can give you a hug.

In my head at this point I knew we weren't going to go out on even a casual "date" or anything, but I figured we were friends so at least we could talk about whatever was ailing him.

He then texts back asking if he can drop me off early in the morning.

Spend the night, I thought?

Fuck.My.Life. I just gave up casual sex, ANNDD I just spent the day in love with the shaman. I can't turn my back on my declaration and what I learned from the shaman. <tangent> Dudes, my word is MY FUCKING HONOR. I don't have much in this life, but I DO have my word. When I post something saying I am going to do it - I do it 110%. It has ZZEERROOOO to do with you all, and everything to do with just bettering myself, and personal accountability. </tangent>

He then texts me back before I answer him back.

::text:: here

I say goodbye to the dudes at the bar, and get in the car of my sexy skype partner.

I hug him - good to see you, I say.

Good to see you too!

Sorry you had a bad day.

Eh, it's fine - these things happen.

We then pull a little further down the road.

I have to be honest with you, I say, dreading every word as it prepares to fall from my mouth.

I've given up casual sex. And I know now I'm in your car, but I kinda thought we were legit going to hang, but I felt bad when I got your last text ... um, yeah.

Not a problem, I can drive you back.

Now mind you, we are in Santa Monica ... to drive from Santa Monica to Hollywood at this hour would LITERALLY be an hour each way. ONE HOUR!!!!!!

No way, I said. If you can just drop me off in a populated area I can find someone from twitter, and have an adventure, or at least figure out a ride back.

Not a problem.

We talk for a few minutes, and then he lets me out in Venice by the pier.

AHHH FML, Venice. The one area the bus doesn't really go to. (Well, I take that back, it does go to Venice but it will take you THREE buses and over 1.5 hours to get back versus Santa Monica which is one bus and 45 minutes. The walk back to Santa Monica would have EASILY taken an hour, and at that time of night - prolly wasn't the safest bet.)

I hug him good bye. It was good to see you either way.

You too.

I then get out of the car and start walking.

Fuck my life. I have now stranded myself in Venice.

I start texting a few friends, and send out a few tweets. No one immediately responds.

Well, here I be - I think. At least I have a hoodie on to keep me warm, the rest I will have to just figure out.

Then, as if sent on a mission from the holiest of holy men, I get a text from OKCupid date number 99 asking what I was doing.

Well ... if you really want to know, I'm stranded in Venice.

Like stranded stranded he texted back?

Not stranded stranded (my definition of stranded and impossible have GREATLY changed in the last 2 years. Dudes, I have been stuck in some REALLY GNARLY situations, and no matter what have ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS been able to figure out a way back. My big rational brain might not have been able to figure it all out, but by staying present I was able to see opportunities where walls once were.) but here is my situation, and if you want to grab a beer or whatever in Venice I am totes game to kick it. I'm on the pier. 

He texts me back - be there in 45. 

HA! Well look at that, I thought. See, there's that universe again - always having my back with its awesomely random ways.

I'm never desperate man. I put myself in a position not having a car so I can people watch, and have a reason to throw myself at the world. It's a very very very conscious decision.

Not wanting to continue to drink, or meet a random guy at the bar - I walked over to the beach to take off my vans and play in the sand.


I might be a big city girl til I die - but I NEED THE BEACH!!!! Like need. need. need the beach.

I grew up around water as a kid, even getting my boating license when I was 9. Nature was always a release and an escape for me. And dudes, if you think you're hot shit - go stand next to the ocean and try to tell it to stop. If that's not humbling, nothing is.

So, I was playing around in the sand for a moment, and I look over near the parking lot and realize, OMG, that is two people having sex!!!

Like having sex having sex.

Like IN THE PARKING LOT!! Not even on the beach. They were SOOOOOO sch-wasted.

Me, then being so curious, walk closer - and rather obviously. I couldn't believe I was seeing two people BONE in the parking lot of the beach in Venice. WHHHAAAATTT!!!!

I then apparently got too close, and they noticed ... and they left. But not before I snapped this picture ...


HAHA getting fucked in fuck me pumps ... YES!!!

So, then for the next 45 minutes I played in the ocean. It was rad actually, I collected the most PERFECT of PERFECT shells that will serve as a tangible reminder for me on love. 


For reals, I was really really really proud of myself for being brave enough to go and meet the shaman, and THEN to have the universe offer me a test with my sexy skype partner and be brave enough to say to his FACE that I was sticking to my guns.

::pats self on back:: Good job, Friel!

It was so rad too, I had a slight buzz on from the beers and combined with the high I had earlier in the day - playing in the ocean was the GREATEST THING EVER!!!!! 

After about a half hour of listening to my music, and jammin in the waves, I started to walk back up the beach and back to the pier where I was going to meet OKC date number 99. 

A few minutes later he pulls up in his Z4 BMW convertible. 

HA, really? I think ... this is what I'm going to ride in after getting here on the city bus? HIGH-LARIOUS! 

I hug him and ask, where do you want to go? 

Let's go to this place called the V-lounge. It's super chill, and usually a descent crowd. 

RAD!! I'm game. 

We then drive for about 15 minutes and arrive at the destination. We walk up to the bouncer and notice all of the people outside are in the most INSANELY absurd costumes. 

Sorry guys, tonight is closed for a private event - an 80s dance party.

Oh, we said.

Come back tomorrow though, and we'll take care of you, the bouncer said.

But dude, I have a hoodie (I place my hood up), this is totally 80s.

The bouncer smiles, gimme your IDs please.

BOOM!!! Just like that ... we are now inside a private 80s dance party ... drinking more beer ... 


We then spent the entire night dancing to Madonna and Whitney with these people ... 

Oh I danced with somebody alright!!! 

THENNNNN, right as the night was drawing to a close - this MC Hammer look alike dropped his glasses on the floor. Not wanting to see the blessed things break, we tapped him on the shoulder. 

He then looks down, grabs the glasses, and goes to put them on his face. 

I stop him - dude, you're already rocking glasses. 

He then hands them to me to wear. 

I accept - SURE MAN!!! 

And now, I am the new proud owner of a new pair of 90s MC Hammer wanna be nerd glasses. 

If you had asked me to plan the perfect day/night - it would have been something that included some spiritual retreat component, combined with beer, and dancing to 80s cheese ... but had I planned a moment of any of this, it never would have happened. Be present nerderinos!! Some seriously epic adventures are waiting for you!!! 


Thanks for reading!! =) =) =) 

Want to have your own shaman experience??? Hit up Brendan on twitter: @realityadjacent and check out his site over yonder. I SHIT YOU NOT!! He's AMAZING!!! And TOTALLY has my business like forever.