About a year ago, I was asked to be an expert at Fancy Camp with one of my favorite organizations – Campowerment. Thrilled to experience this intimate and luxurious experience with an amazing group of womxn, I jumped right in, feeling comfortable and confident that these are my people, that I was in the right place.
I thrive in deep discussions over family-style meals around long tables, conversation circles, and group bonfires.
I love fun bonding experiences like dancing in the rain with a full on DJ, walking barefoot through streams on a hunt for water vortexes, and swinging on giant swings.My life’s work and passion intersect with these soul-nourishing playful experiences at Campowerment when I am able to bring my knowledge and experience to others enjoying their uniquely nourishing time at camp too! Sessions about agency, vulnerability and safety, holistic sexuality and finding your sexy, are among the many topics we dove into head first together, away from our daily demands, able to focus on where we were, who we were surrounded by, and most importantly connected back to ourselves and our own joy.
Though, I do have to say, the experts at Campowerment are certainly put to the test. SO many amazing connections, SO many amazing conversations to be had, SO much amazing content… it’s hard to conserve energy to make sure you’re ready to be “on” at all times. For a relatively introverted person, people and connection can be overwhelming and draining to me too even if the connections are meaningful and desired on my end. So I often have to strike a balance of collecting myself privately and opening to nuggets of conversations in between events. There are womxn who feel instantly connected to me and my work, there are some who are intimidated to talk so openly about sex and sexuality, and some who want to connect on a deeper level both personally and professionally. I love to witness the wide variety of womxn, knowing we are all so different in every aspect of our lives, who we are, what brings us joy, how we spend our time, what we care about… and also know that there are so many qualities that bring us all together as well.
And then.. sometimes there’s just someone you can’t help but to be drawn to. This time it was Anne “Sussy” Sussman (pictured left). You can’t help but notice her. She has hair adornments, colorful clothes, and lots of unique jewelry. Her soul just shines. You see her and you want to hug her. You want to know what is going on within her. She has a gentleness clothed in complete joy and authenticity. Within minutes she told me about her book Bliss Buddy and loved her immediately, was touched by the book’s concept. I tucked this interaction and gem of a concept away for after Fancy Camp so I could devote my attention to absorbing the idea of a bliss buddy.
Then one night she stood up at dinner and shared with the group details about why we all should consider getting a Bliss Buddy. She offered to help facilitate the coupling. She invited us to find our own. I felt very drawn to it but also wasn’t sure if anyone would want to ‘sign up to be mine’ knowing that I was in a hybrid participant – expert role during this weekend, I didn’t know if it was even appropriate for me to ask! So I sat with it. Sat with the calling towards it and hesitation to jump into it.
Let me explain Sussy’s concept of a Bliss Buddy (and spoiler alert, you should get one). Sussy is a meditation and mindfulness expert. She teaches that on the path to present mindfulness, the concept of bliss can be overwhelming to consider achieving but it is actually much more accessible than that big concept first lends. She teaches looking for micro bliss moments in your day and shares how this shift changed her. Her journey towards micro bliss made me smile. Made me want it. She takes the idea further by highlighting the power you amplify by not only seeking bliss moments every day but by forging a relationship where the singular focus of the relationship is pure bliss. Two people who connect daily to share a moment of bliss – how radical!
She explained to us (and outlines in her book) that sharing bliss could be a photo with no explanation, could be a phrase, a life update, a work thing, a quote…anything that brought you an ounce of bliss. Sussy also explained that she had a Bliss Buddy for years. They didn’t know each other when they agreed to the relationship and didn’t share life details like work titles, etc… but for years they daily shared moments of bliss. How refreshing is it to think about someone knowing us ONLY by what brings us bliss?
Sussy suggested that you could keep the Bliss Buddy relationship like hers, contained in the bliss interactions, could be with an established friend, or something in between. She said, commit to 30 days with each other and then see what you think.
How cool is that? I asked her Bliss Buddy about the experience and she couldn’t say enough about how it had enriched her life to do this. They had been doing it daily for years. I was sold. I was going to take the leap and ask. And realized several people were asking each other to do it, too – what a movement! No one was asking me and I knew no one would… you know, the expert thing at play.
I sat by myself and checked in to see who I was drawn to. It didn’t take long until I knew, until I felt an instant draw. As I sat into that knowing, I was surprised I all of a sudden felt 12 years old and worried no one would like me. So silly but valid! One of the rules of Campowerment is that you don’t share what you do for the first 24 hours so you can connect soul to soul and not network through roles (which I loveee). I got over my insecurity and approached Barbara (pictured below). I really knew nothing about Barbara in the details of her life. Nothing about her work, her family, or where she lived. I just knew my soul wanted to know her soul. I walked right up and asked her “Would you like to be my Bliss Buddy?” She looked so shocked. I hadn’t paid attention to what she was doing at the time and I instinctively knew that if I didn’t just do it, I probably wouldn’t, so did it, I did… and I was a bit clunky. On top of the whole expert thing? It was weird.
I wanted a genuine response. Not a pressured one because of my role there. If you know Barbara, you would know I shouldn’t have worried, and I should have trusted my soul’s compass. She wasn’t going to say yes if she didn’t want to. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it was a yes. We exchanged numbers and I felt a little giddy and I felt excited. We agreed to 30 days. It was check out day so we got immersed in packing and goodbyeing and as we were approaching the final camp activity (which is this REALLY beautiful love line you walk through), she handed me a copy of the Bliss Buddy book. I almost burst into tears. It was such a lovely and unexpected gift. We hugged goodbye and I looked forward to our next 30 days together.
12 months later we are still Bliss Buddies. I am so glad Sussy taught this concept, I am so happy I felt called into it, and I am fortunate Barbara wanted to be my Bliss Buddy. She and I organically made decisions along the way to grow a friendship and share information beyond Bliss moments. I’m glad we made that choice. We’ve sent photos of flowers, food, evenings out with friends, holiday traditions, nature, etc… We’ve sent texts saying we are bliss challenged, worried about kids, shared work stressors, shared family drama, discussed relationship intricacies, and more. We’ve left audio messages with longer conversation and we have celebrated our bliss and supported each other through our hard-to-find bliss days. As the months progress, we haven’t been in touch every day (more so on me…) but it is pretty darn consistent. We were even able to see each other once although we live on opposite sides of the country AND during a pandemic. We’ve sent each other gifts and surprises and enriched each other’s lives in the deepest of ways.
I couldn’t love Barbara more than I do. I had no idea what a treasure she is when I awkwardly walked up to her. Funny, smart as a whip, an incredibly giving friend and family member, accomplished as hell, and an all around impressive woman. I have a friend for life now and if it weren’t for the Bliss Buddy concept, she would have been a woman I found interesting but didn’t have the opportunity to really know. What a loss that would have been, and how often does that happen to each of us throughout our daily lives?
Her presence in my life has uplifted me in immeasurable ways this year. And so has the concept of the Bliss Buddy. It was so interesting how it changed me to focus on bliss. Not joy. Not accomplishments. Not huge overwhelming things. Simply bliss. A moment of bliss. A tiny moment, a person, a thought, a song or phrase, a sweet breeze, or a laugh with my children. Doing it regularly helped me to see themes. Places and people that clearly and consistently bring me bliss and also parts and people who never show up in my bliss. It has allowed me to take stock in a way I haven’t before.
It is also so interesting and helpful to see bliss through her eyes. It helped me open up to ideas of bliss I have overlooked. Her bliss helped me on days I felt bliss challenged. Her celebrations about my bliss during times no one else was asking helped me feel like I mattered.
And I learned that micro bliss focus is powerful. I didn’t phone it in. I truly reflected on my day and it often helped to improve my gratefulness and outlook. The power of noticing patterns in my life and relationships also made an enormous difference.
I need to properly shoutout Campowerment as well for the unparalleled opportunities they provide for women like this one I just shared. I know to expect beautiful moments, inspiring connections, and intense fulfillment when I show up at Camp, but somehow my expectations are always exceeded. Tammi (pictured above with Sussy) and Chelsea, the Mother-Daughter duo who lead the Campowerment team infuse the schedules with so much fun. From my personal experiences like a massage at the spa that made me cry (the therapist was so nurturing and tuned into me); solo walks around the beautiful grounds that fed me deeply; amazing food; and a silo turned into a meditation center withsayings written all over it that felt like a sanctuary; to the workshops I led that felt deeply moving and nourishing in a different way, Campowerment creates life-changing experiences for all that attend. And a big thank you to Cindy Spiegel, another Campowerment expert that is downright hilarious and grounded in such a profound way. It was and is always a yes, yes, yes everywhere I turn.
In closing, I am grateful to Sussy for the inspired concept, to Campowerment for bringing Sussy into my life, and for both in sharing with me the gift of my beautiful Bliss Buddy Barbara. How enriched my life is because of all three. If you too are looking for an experience like I had – join us at Campowerment East this Fall! If you’d like to be a part of my sessions and exclusive content, please mention you’re with me during registration and you’ll automatically be registered for my sessions. Hope to see you there and am confident you’ll leave with many interactions and experiences like this one.