life lessons for festivals

For me, late spring to early fall is festival season, which straddles multiple seasons. The homepage of this site has my schedule for this festival season; I am incredibly blessed to join a diverse range of events. I'll be playing music in most of them, but in August I'll be teaching my only yoga class in the US in 2018! Will you be there?

Over the years I've attended dozens of festivals, from super-small locally organized events to That Thing In The Desert (also known as Burning Man), with lots of in-between circumstances. Different situations, different thematic elements, different participants. But I've found that certain principles apply to nearly all of them. Those are the ones I want to share.

Dress for the occasion. (If you don't enjoy having some absurd moments with your clothes, or don't find much satisfaction in self-expression from them, skip this one.) But one of my favorite things about festivals is that there's NOT a dress code. You don't have to navigate business casual, dressy but relaxed afternoon picnic, or black tie wedding. You get to figure out what to wear in a lack of dress code, which I find really fun.

I strongly encourage you to dig out some ridiculous joke gift or yard sale find or family item that you never get to wear. That hat from your grandfather that's never quite right? Wear it. That ridiculous shirt that still doesn't match anything else? Wear it! That awesome dress that's just too much for your usual social events. Wear. It.

Seriously. You don't have to match; you don't have to adhere. The burn community calls this approach "radical self-expression." You can think of "radical" as extreme, perhaps in an absurd sense. But "radical" also means "fundamental." Be yourself. Express yourself. Your freedom inspires others.

The only caveat: don't appropriate. If you're not sure what that looks like, educate yourself. Respect fosters connection.

Stay safe. Festivals tend to have that whole "love and light" kind vibe. People tend to be more easygoing; I find it refreshing. That said, bad things still happen, with unfortunate frequency. (From what I can tell, women are generally more at risk than men—just like normal life.)

Point being, don't compromise your intuition. Don't change your boundaries to be polite. You don't owe anything to anyone. And you can still beam all love and light in the universe to them, from a safe distance.

I have a lot of festival boundaries, in the sense of knowing situations I'm likely to encounter that will make me uncomfortable. If you need suggestions or advice, feel free to reply.

Indulge as you like, but don't feel obligated.The party vibe—meaning the many, many things to imbibe—is strong at festivals. We've all encountered that reputation, at the very least. And if that's your thing, I'm not interested in judging. But I am interested in sharing that I'm AT LEAST 99% sober at festivals. I have a lot more fun when I'm not exhausted from recovering from substances. You do you. Maintain autonomy in those choices.

Share. Things that are trivial annoyances at home can be a bigger deal off grid. Spare batteries can make a huge difference to someone. A cool drink on a hot afternoon can mean a lot.

The extension of sharing, for me, is a practice of gifting that I got into several years ago. I bring things (usually jewelry or clothes) that I don't want to keep. I wear them around, and wait for an enthusiastic compliment from a stranger. Then, I shock that person when I say that I'd love to gift that thing. It might sound weird, but it's awesome to make someone's day with that kind of surprise. I like it so much that I wrote an article about it.

What did I miss? Send me an email. Next newsletter is life lessons FROM festivals. Coming very soon!

Blessed be,
Stephanie

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