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Lesson #1: Time with Intention

 Lesson #1 from Our Series: 13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea

As we departed from San Diego back on January 7th, amidst the excitement and energy surrounding what was to come, Taylor and I both set about settling into our life on the ship, in the wonderful 5th deck cabin we now call home.

One of the very first challenges we encountered, and have still been struggling with for the entire journey, has been time management.

Time passes very differently when you’re living on a ship. There are no weeks or weekends here, just A days and B days, which allow for alternating schedules day to day.  Meal times are constant, and everyone is present all the time (since we’re all stuck on a ship together), yet it is often impossible to find people.

Working conditions can be difficult; because as a team we don’t have any “off” time, and the second we step out of our room both Taylor and I are usually bombarded with logistics and operations questions.

In addition, with connectivity ranging from “I can’t believe we can skype in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!” to hours spent on a single email or transaction, time required for any task has been incredibly unpredictable.


Given these challenges and new perspectives of time as it passes on the ship, Taylor and I have learned a HUGE lesson for how to value time for ourselves and for each other:

LESSON #1: Time Valued comes with intention

>>  Learn how to ASK FOR TIME

In our opinion, time is the most valuable resource everyone has, and when you live in a completely blended work/life environment, you have to evaluate time commitments on a totally different level.

For example, we learned early on that waking up and diving right into an intense work/team conversation in our room was not the best way to start our day. Instead, we learned to put on different “hats” for different times. Sometimes we’re wearing a work hat, other times we’re wearing a friend hat, and yet other times a roommate hat. And for each one, we need to clearly communicate what hat we want to wear, and what we need from others to share time effectively.

Over the course of this voyage, by setting time with intention and putting on different hats, we’re learning how to easily switch between a teammate cranking out gyshido time, an operations resource for our community, and a friend offering a shoulder to cry on.


So our takeaway lesson #1 sailing from San Diego  (& our brief stop in Ensenada) was:


Wear different hats,

(Clearly communicate what kind of time you are in,

And ASK for time, 

And the kind of time you need from those around you.)


Thanks for reading through, more lessons learned coming soon!

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

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13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea (A New Project)

13 countries. 109 days. 1 ship. 10 ventures. 20 mentors.
1 belief that entrepreneurship will change the world.
Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

As we’ve sailed across the globe on the team for Unreasonable at Sea, my roommate Taylor and I wonder whether our greatest lessons have been about the world outside or about ourselves.

Working, living, and travelling together has challenged us in more ways than we could ever have anticipated, and now that the finish line is in sight, we think it’s time to start reflecting on the biggest lessons learned from the voyage, particularly those at the intersection of self, team, and community.

So we’re about to embark on a new writing project. 13 posts, 13 lessons, one for each country visited along the way.

Feel free to follow our journey, share your own insights, and help us learn as much as we can from this incredible adventure.

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

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The Journey of One Day

A day can mean quite a lot. Especially when you happen to spend your days traveling around the world, on a ship.


In life with Unreasonable at Sea, the days can be complicated, emotionally, mentally and physically draining, and more often than not, overwhelmingly inspiring.


The work that we do is challenging, mostly because of the environment and circumstances under which we work:

Imagine working with your coworkers every single day, without even a full 24 hours of break time.

And living with them.

Not just as housemates, but as roommates.

In tiny compartment rooms,

On a ship,

As you travel to 13 countries,

Creating events and programming around the world.


Perhaps one of the most challenging roles I have ever had with regard to a working environment, Unreasonable at Sea has also become a gateway to understanding, and an opening for some of the most incredible experiences in my life.


I’m not sure that an “average day at sea” even exists, but perhaps today is a good example:

The day began with a rocky start, with some complex logistical and systematic challenges, including new travelers, new visa issues, and new event details to send out.

It dipped significantly into an intense, emotional conversation with some of my teammates about current team dynamics and disturbing upcoming changes, and left me feeling drained and distraught just in time for lunch.

Lunch on the ship was shared with friends Matt & Shawna from the Unreasonable at Sea Media Team, filled with hilarious stories of in-country travel (And for anyone who knows Pedro Delgado Ortiz, you know how hilarious and crazy the story must be!), and followed by a quiet ride into town in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Next a nice stroll around the city center, ending at a beautiful hotel, that included coffee and most importantly, free Wi-Fi.

After a wonderful lobby-work session (aka gyshido time), with classical music playing in the background and a powerful rooftop poolside discussion with my teammate/roommate/amazing friend, Taylor Rowe, I finally felt clarity about the earlier team issues.

As evening approached, an adventure through streets filled with lights and celebrations for the new year led me to the very best part of my day, one of the most inspiring dinners I have had yet, shared with Khalida Brohi.


Khalida is one of the bravest people I have ever met, responding to the death of her friend and her background growing up in the beautiful yet restrictive environment of a tribal area in Pakistan with conviction to speak out against honor killings, violence, and injustice and to use her venture, Sughar to create tangible change that reaches over one million women.


Our rather happenchance dinner included delicious Vietnamese food combined with a shared space for ideas, thoughts, and reflections, with topics including spirituality, religion, traditions, entrepreneurship, funny stories, painful stories, and intense and determined hope for the future.


Each new day at sea is a challenge; each new day is an adventure.


One of my wise and wonderful teammates and mentors, Laura Anne Edwards, said the following back when we were walking around Kyoto, Japan:

“I promised myself I would never have another ‘gray’ day. Days could be good or bad, have ups and downs, but I wouldn’t waste any more time on days that I won’t remember. No matter what, it has to be memorable.”


Days working for Unreasonable at Sea have perhaps more ups and downs than I have ever experienced. But I find Laura’s words could not be more true of this journey; the days we spend on this voyage are some of the most beautiful, terrifying, and memorable that I have ever seen.


How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives


– Annie Dillard

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NOTES BY SHIRABEE: Unreasonable at Sea!

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From Constraints to Creativity

My role in designing structures for Unreasonable at Sea


As the oh-so official scheduling & logistics guru on board the MV Explorer (also known as the Associate Director for Unreasonable at Sea) my days are centered around one overwhelming challenge:


(1) TAKE: 20+ radical, forward thinking, unreasonable entrepreneurs


(2) DESIGN:  structures, schedules & programming


—>   THAT RESULT IN = one epic, creative environment for rapid ideation





The first way I usually describe my role in this process is with an example:



Main Objective [MO]:  Get our incredible, out-of-the-box thinking, rule-breaking, unreasonable entrepreneurs, & our entire team (40+ people representing 12+ different countries) to successfully gain entry to all 14 port stops along our voyage.


Action Items:

  • Ensure completion of all necessary forms & processes for customs & immigration
  • Convince last-minute planners to set their travel plans in advance (as much as possible)
  • Ensure each traveler obtains all necessary visas & permits to enter 12 different countries around the world (with different regulations and requirements based on citizenship, region, and feelings of the person who happens to be at customs that day)


While I would consider our work on this challenge to be exceptionally successful both at the front end of our voyage and as we continue to encounter new surprises & regulations along the way, it is clear even in description that I am using the typical method of addressing operational challenges:


(1) Visualize the objectives

(2) Develop a strategy

(3) Turn plans into action


And while this method has worked relatively well previously, in traveling around the world with a community of design-thinking, unreasonable people, I am learning to evaluate this strategy in a radically new way.  On the ops team for U@Sea (which consists of myself + the incredible Chief of Staff, Taylor Rowe) we are pushed to go beyond the method mentioned of addressing challenges, and to leap out into the environment of experimentation design that exists on this unique voyage.


Because when you work for a creative entrepreneurial community, it isn’t simply about getting the logistical and scheduling tasks completed; the real challenge is how to take the logistical aspects of the voyage, and turn them into opportunities for increased creativity.


How do you set up daily schedules and logistical tasks in a way that will actually ENHANCE the creative atmosphere rather than stifling it?


Turns out, logistics and structures are not so opposite to creativity after all. As I have learned in our daily workshops on board, one of the core principles to design thinking is as follows:


Constraints inspire creativity.



So the new [MO] for our U@Sea Ops team is to:

Take a constraint, of which there are many as we logistically navigate across the globe, and turn it into a design challenge; a communal experiment for how to operate most effectively and creatively on a world-traveling ship.


As our 10 teams of entrepreneurs rapidly prototype various elements of their projects and solve challenges daily, our U@Sea team is learning to work with the same principles to address the challenges of running the program.



As George Kembel (our co-founder of U@Sea, founder of Stanford’s of innovation, and someone for whom my admiration seems to build daily,) stated in our very first team meeting in San Diego:


When you begin to frame each project, each encounter as a learning experience, everything changes.


Working in a logistical, operations-heavy job at Unreasonable at Sea, I am reminded daily that no matter what role we play in our community or in life, we are all challenged to push ourselves to experiment and learn in every way possible, and to take on the opportunity to design our experience. 

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Designing a Message: User > Need > Insight

In the very first content workshop for Unreasonable at Sea, we heard from Inc Magazine’s most creative person in education, George Kembel about how to truly design your message, and get back to the core purpose of  your company’.

George described a three-part process:

1. USER:

The target of your business activity that must be reframed as a PERSON, not a demographic. They must be addressed as human being through emotional connection and empathy.

“The end user isn’t always the person we tend to call end user, it’s the person who is absolutely delighted that your product exists.” – GEORGE KEMBEL

Lesson 1: Think about the user in terms of a human being facing a challenge, a person with fears, hopes, and a lack of options at their immediate disposal.

2. NEED:

 Too often we believe we are discussing the need, when in fact we are talking about the solution. For example, when a girl wants to pick an apple from a tree, we would say that she NEEDs a ladder. But the ladder is actually the solution. The NEED is for the apple because she is hungry. Or for height in order to reach food.


It is only in the last stage of the process that we finally gain insight to a solution. And even this solution should be what George calls an “agnostic solution.” Because once you realize that the need is separate from the single solution you’ve developed, when things don’t work out, when you need to pivot or completely revamp your entire product, you still have the same core basis for existence and the flexibility to go back to the drawing board to choose a new solution.

While these of course are extremely valuable lessons in business, perhaps most impressive is how much this thought process can change the way we live our lives in all spheres.

If we dig deep enough to understand  (1) that we are human beings, imperfect and in need and (2) what the need actually is, we can continue to develop solutions, test their resilience, and revert back to the drawing board in a process of continual growth. Solutions need no longer be permanent, but rather a process of rapid ideation.

As Herbert Otto famously states,

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.

As long as your core WHY, your personhood and your need are clarified, the rest becomes a creative pathway  leading you to continuous personal growth.

Until Next Time,


A now sea-fairing ShiraBee

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The Burden of Legacy: It is no dream.


A pretty big word around here.

Here being Jerusalem, a city that many nations hold dear due to its history and importance in relation to their people, their culture, their religion. As a proud member of the Jewish religion and culture, I find this place resonates with me on an impossibly deep level. I feel the ties to the land, not magically or mythologically, but rather in a historical sense; with understanding and awe that my ancestors have considered this land sacred for longer than I can truly comprehend. That this land has served as a place of refuge and of tragedy, of life and of death. And that the experience I have today while living in Jerusalem is inextricably tied to the experience my ancestors had in this land so long ago.

Jewish liturgy and culture has been built around this land. Our words and prayers allude to it, our thoughts are encouraged to be constantly tuned to it, our actions are expected to be in support of its preservation and accessibility (disregarding for a moment the unbelievably complex and valuable discussion of which parties this accessibility actually extends to).

While much of Jewish liturgy comes directly from the Torah (bible), many prayers that are Rabbinic in origin were created in times of the diaspora after the destruction of the Second Temple, when Jews around the world only dreamed of life here in this land. At the time, it was out of their reach. At the time, there was no realistic consideration of ownership of the land, there were no human beings dispossessed of their homes in order for us to live here.

1948. Theodore Herzl, infamous for his involvement in Zionism and the establishment of a Jewish State proclaims “If you will it, it is no dream.” And he was right, at present moment we are living the dream that existed for so many before us. The dream of living in the land of the creation of our people, of spiritual grounding and connection according to our religious beliefs.

So what does that mean for us? Now that we are living the dream of our ancestors? Now that we are blessed with the chance to live out the deepest yearning of those who came before us, to embrace a way of life they could only imagine, and to develop their legacy in real life experience?

Questions I still struggle to answer. Legacy, I find, is both a beautiful blessing and an incredibly complex burden.

A Personal Addition:

While living in Israel, I have been able to connect to some of my older family members here, and to learn incredible stories about my personal family history that I had never heard before.

I learned about my grandmother, Beatrice (Batya) Abramowitz, who the B in my name (Shira B) is named after. I learned that she was a brilliant woman, that “Beatrice, she could do anything.” That she used to go to debates with all of the men, and that “nobody could stump her.” I learned that she was one of the few women of her time that received a University Pass upon graduating high school, making her eligible to apply to university in South Africa. I learned that she had no money for this university education, that her wealthy uncle refused her a loan, even when she promised to pay back every penny.

I heard more and more about the abusive man she married, about the way her life spiraled downwards as she was no longer allowed to attend the debates, as she was abused physically and emotionally, and as she fell into a deep depression after the death of her husband and the subsequent signing over of her two youngest children (including my father) to the local Jewish orphanage where they remained for the duration of her lifetime.

I was previously familiar of the tragic portion of the family story; I knew that my grandmother had fallen into depression, I knew that my father had grown up in an orphanage. I never felt connected to her. And suddenly, in my year of “connection,” in my exploration of self, soul, and spirit here in Jerusalem, I have found that the “B” in me was actually a bright, brilliant woman, full of life and dreams of pursuing her education.

I, at 22, with my university degree in hand and a world of incredible opportunities at my fingertips now understand why my father insisted I go straight to college/university from high school. Why education and academic achievement have been paramount in my life at home, and what an indescribable opportunity I have to live out the dreams of my very own grandmother.

Legacy, a beautiful blessing and an intense feeling of responsibility. Because as much as we often like to think that we live simply in the now, strong and stable and oh-so-independently, we all come from a legacy. We all hold within us a personal history that extends far beyond our lifetime.

In my previous post, I wrote about the ideas of paradox in Judaism, of multiple truths in context of recent Palestine-Israel conflict. Perhaps related to this is the Jewish concept of the interwoven nature of blessings and curses. That in every curse there is a blessing, that in all bad there is good, and vice versa.

When it comes to legacies, to burdens of living out the dreams of those who came before us, we all have the opportunity to feel the blessing and the curse, the gratitude and the stress, the beauty of opportunity and the burden of responsibility.

In the end, in the present, it’s our choice. Which way will we live?

Thank you to anyone who is taking the time to read this post, to provide any comments, personal thoughts, or private messages. All feedback is deeply appreciated.

Until Next Time,


Shira Bee

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The Soul of Jerusalem: A View of Multiple Truths

Wherever you stand,

be the soul of that place.

~ Rumi

But what does it mean to be the soul of a place like Jerusalem? A place where so many people feel most closely connected to their own inner strength and beliefs, and yet stand in direct conflict with one another?

One of the very first lessons I learned in my program of text study at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies was as follows:

When learning Gemara**, there are always at least two truths, and they directly contradict each other.

** Gemara = a body of text of rabbinic debate that accompanies the oral torah/bible and serves as an important source for Jewish law

Instead of the western learning ideal of gaining knowledge in search of a single right answer, Jewish learning involves argument; it involves debate. There are various differing opinions and stances and interpretations, and yet simultaneously there exists an intense oneness of belief and faith. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of Jewish religion and spirituality, and in my opinion a part that is so often overlooked and underrepresented.


In a recent edition of Fast Company, Robert Safian proposes that understanding the duality of opposing truths is necessary for entrepreneurs and business leaders to be successful in today’s economic climate. In his article “Secrets of the Flux Leader,” Safian brings to the table Margaret Wheatley’s argument: that we can no longer rely on singularly directed pathways of reasoning rooted in the 17th century ideas of Sir Isaac Newton,

“We now know that cause and effect is not a given in the natural world. Creation comes not from stasis but from unpredictable movement.”

In illustration of her statement, Wheatley, cited again by Safian, points to the example of a double-slit experiment, in which

“An electron behaves like a wave when it is observed in one way and like a particle when it is observed another way. Both views are true

Clearly this example evidences a natural source for the necessity of opposing truths.  The idea that Wheatley identifies and that Safian builds into his theory of leadership for Generation Flux is this need for acceptance of multiple truths in order to succeed and operate in our increasingly complex world.


And there it is. A beautiful bridge between the Jewish learning that I am participating in here and the entrepreneurial world that is so deeply a part of who I am becoming.  In order to be a great leader, in order to tackle the unavoidable challenges and complexities to come, one first must understand the basic idea that there are opposing truths, and that even a oneness of belief is composed of many fractions of nuanced disagreement. 


But of course, as always seems to happen, this concept has become even more challenging to me in light of the current Israel-Palestine conflict. 

Over the past few weeks, as many of you know,  hundreds of rockets have been launched into Israel, and an Israeli Military Operation including an air raid and sea attack on Gaza has been underway.

Personally, I have struggled with the question of how to react to this situation, both privately and publicly. I know that I need to let family and friends know that I am safe, and that I’m expected to provide some comment on the situation given my evident proximity. But how can I possibly cover everything that I have witnessed, felt, and experienced here in one simple post? 

How can I express my awe at the Israelis who are willing to stand up and fight for the freedom of their fellow citizens to live in peace, the bravery that I see amongst people my age and younger who feel their duty to their people so fiercely that they are willing to risk their own lives the second they are needed?

How do I reconcile this awe and appreciation, with the understanding of how deeply the suffering will be felt by the Palestinian civilians, many of whom are innocent bystanders in a situation that paints them as either crippled victims or radical terrorists, but so rarely as fellow human beings?

How do I come close to describing the sadness I see in the eyes of my friends, when they discuss the deaths on both sides of the border-lines. The deaths of children, of families, of innocent looking for refuge?

How can I ever say anything that comes close to the feeling of hearing that sirenrealizing that I had approximately one minute to get to a shelter: of running with my friends to the nearest building, pulling at locked doors, running to the next and finding refuge in a stairwell as we waited for the inevitable boom, simultaneously assuring our distance and safety and confirming our fears that a rocket had reached its destination somewhere, with no news of whether it had taken the lives of those nearby.

And how do I even begin to imagine how this tiny, insignificant, singular experience of terror must feel for the millions of people living both in the south of Israel and in Gaza, who are under a constant barrage of rockets and missiles from the air. Of parents in southern Israel who hear these sirens hundreds of times, who have  seconds to pull their families into bomb shelters at any given moment? Of parents on both sides who spend their entire day on edge, constantly aware: where are my children, how close are we to a bomb shelter if one even exists? Constantly calculating their next move, their safe move. How can my words do justice to the feelings of a mother less than 50 miles away whose simple daily errand of grocery shopping becomes a strategic calculated risk? Or a mother who prays with her entire being that the humanitarian aid will reach her family, and that her children will make it through one more night?

The answer is simple. I can’t. This is the perfect and terrifying situation that seemingly demonstrates everything I have been learning here so far. There are multiple truths, an endless complexity of factors. When confronting the complexity of the Palestine-Israel conflict there is no single right answer, only a series of conflicting “facts,” opposing truths, and a tremendous amount of suffering on all sides.

So what is there to do, in an impossible situation of conflict and opposition?

It seems the best thing we can do is to engage in full and open perception of the situation, understand how much we simply do not understand, orient ourselves in a direction of peace and of deep gratitude for those who are risking their lives for the sake of this seemingly impossible goal, and take actionable steps of support for those who are suffering. 


So here lies my first semblance of an answer to the questions: what is it that I’m doing here in Israel? Why would I ever choose to give up the incredible job opportunities, proximity to entrepreneurial friends I love and admire, and projects I’ve been working on to live here? In Jerusalem? 

Because here, I am learning to understand what it really means to embrace mutlitple truths. To challenge the norm, to challenge your havruta (study partner), to challenge your own very core beliefs with conflicting statements that are both true and untrue and varying degrees of truth all at the same time.

And most importantly, I am learning how to understand these truths in a way that allows me to take a conscious, confident, and self-assured step forward. Because it’s not just about being able to understand the depth of human experience, of communities, of spirituality, of business; it’s about being able to act upon your understanding in the most effective, strategic, and beneficial way.  


What does it mean to be the “soul of this place?”

To me, it means to acknowledge just how many souls are deeply connected here, to point towards an attitude of peace and empathy, and to pursue actions in accordance with these values.


After my own personal experience of hearing a siren go off, running for safety, and getting a glimpse of the terror that millions go through on a daily, hourly, or continual basis, I feel exceptionally grateful for the community I have here and all over the world that stands in support of peace and justice. A deep and heart-felt thank you to all of you who are keeping those here in this tiny part of the world in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

Until next time,


Shira Bee

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Love Your Limits

And I’m in Jerusalem.

Life is different here. As someone said beautifully in the opening circle of my program, Pardes, I think “I breathe differently here.”  The pure age of the structures around me, the intensely spiritual aura that seems to ebb and flow throughout the city during the times of high holidays, and the love that so many people from numerous backgrounds, religions, and belief systems have for this place – it honestly feels magical at times.

And then at times it doesn’t. Something I’ve realized (or rather something that has slapped me in the face since I’ve been here) is how difficult it is, even is such an incredible setting, to feel present and connected. In moving here I fell into a common trap many of us face (especially those of us in the crazy start-up world) of trying to do too many things at once. For me, this included moving to a new country and to a new apartment with 5 roommates, starting a new learning program involving 20-30 hours of class & a commute, launching the hiring process for my small business, Campus Swaps, starting a new job as the Associate Director at Unreasonable at Sea, working on a personal curriculum involving excel, adobe, & coding, oh and somewhere in here I wanted to write a new blog post……

Even as it seems a bit ridiculous now, what’s really more striking is that this is absolutely common behavior for me and for most of the people I surround myself with. So many of us do this to ourselves; we continuously overburden, overstress, overcomplicate.

So what have I learned during my first month here?

That limitations are important.

That in knowing your own limits and using them to align your time with your most authentic values lies the key to a more meaningful and connected experience of life.

In an incredible book I read once upon a time in a bookstore in NYC, Clayton Christensen writes:

“You can talk all you want about having a strategy for your life, understanding motivation, & balancing aspirations with unanticipated opportunities…But ultimately, this means nothing if you do not align those with where you actually expend your time, money, and energy.”

It is only once we accept that we sometimes cannot do it all, that we have to make hard choices and focus on things that are truly important, that we realize it is this focus itself that allows us to live a life we really love.

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Birthdays & Beyond

Today I am another year older, perhaps another year wiser, and even another year closer to the authentic connections that I am seeking.


I heard the most beautiful explanation of birthdays while here learning in Jerusalem at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies:

Birthdays, by definition, are days where you get to give your greatest gifts to the world. They are the days in which your existence is cherished, your birth is celebrated, and your presence in the lives of those you love is most appreciated. And of course, what better way to receive and reciprocate this love and appreciation than by connecting directly with your most authentic self and bringing to life the gifts that you possess and can give to others.

In fact in the Jewish tradition, there is an idea that “brachot” (blessings) that you give to others on your birthday are particularly powerful.


Whether or not you feel a mystical connection to the date of your birth, it seems to present a perfect opportunity to reflect on the impact you are making on the world, the dreams that you desire to bring to action, and the steps that you can take to make them a reality.

As it is my birthday today, one gift that I have been asked to give is to better express the lessons and wisdom that I have been collecting while on this journey of connection.  So this blog will continue to serve as a point of collection of my experiences, thoughts, and adventures into the beautifully overwhelming topic of connection, as well as a platform for exhibiting other methods of expression and learning as you’ll see in the posts to come.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to glance at this page, to wish me warmth and love from near and far, and to make my twenty second birthday the most meaningful one yet.

Until next time,


Shira Bee

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