On being witnessed: A Request

andrea_nico_diptych_tracey.jpg
me and Nico, photographed by Tracey Clark, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

I’m always amazed at what my life looks like through someone else’s lens. It is such a rare gift to be photographed, especially when a friend can do it so beautifully. I see things I hadn’t witnessed before– how big our smiles were, how sweet our connection, how Nico’s foot curves to the right and his widow’s peak curves to the left, how all the colors in the room were conspiring to make a perfect patchwork of beauty.

nico_by_tracey2.jpg
Nico, Manzanita, OR, by Tracey Clark, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

And in the spirit of being witnessed, I’d like to ask for a gift from you. Yes you! Especially if you have been around for a while, reading my blog over the years, sticking by me through all the trials and joys and searches for what’s real. I believe the wisdom is in the room. In this room. And it would be an honor if you would answer some questions for me! (I have a secret project abrew and would love your input)

You can email them to me here: andrea@superherodesigns.com
1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
3. What have you learned from me?
4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
5. What would you like more of?

I ask these questions humbly and with so much respect for you, for this community. I’m always blown away by the caliber of people I have here. Big love and thanks!

34 Comments

  1. Posted July 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Your ability to be vulnerable and share it with the world.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    I am like you. You are like me. We are both beautiful. Let’s be friends.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    To appreciate a moment in everyday, even when I feel like crap.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    Ooooh, yes. You have no idea. You have helped me to realize that I actually DO have dreams. You’ve inspired me to see color and beauty in everyday things. Through your photographs, you help me to see that everyone is beautiful.
    5. What would you like more of?
    More of the same. It’s all wonderful.

  2. Posted July 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Belinda!! I especially like the billboard one :)

  3. Posted July 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Answering all the questions in order is too difficult. Instead I will blab:
    You are full of learned lessons and seem to have your ears always open for more.
    I believe you look for broad themes and use those to understand and give meaning to the details.
    The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from you is the theory of abundance. It was completely perspective changing for me. Whenever I feel panicked now about how I’m doing, I remind myself that I will always have more good ideas. That mantra is a gift I took from a conversation we had.
    What I want for myself now is to come up with a few more mantras, ones that I can share with other people to give them new perspectives. If you are offering to be a leader in that discovery process, I’ll take it.
    xxoo

  4. Posted July 28, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    The room here is beautiful and filled with so much love, support, and openness. Of course I will answer these questions for you. I love you my dear!
    xoxo

  5. Posted July 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    I agree, I’ll post here.
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Your ability to see all sides in an issue, a problem, a gift, etc.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    It’s okay to be vunerable. It’s okay to be real. It’s good to be who you are.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    So much! We’re much the same, so I often reflect on my own “stuff” as it were, while reading about yours.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    Oh yeah. I make a Mondo List now…have for 5 or 6 years now. Everything on every single list (except one big one you know of)…the issue of having a child (which will HAPPEN!)…has come true on all my boards/lists. And just this past month, I found great joy in using the self timer on my camera! :) I also had several friends make mondo lists with me…two dear friends…and every year we touch base around January 1st.
    5. What would you like more of?
    Perhaps and this is just perhaps, because I am in the process of doing this myself on several ventures right now…but maybe it’s time to brand that message you are sending out. Maybe it’s time to build a superhero line…of what I don’t know yet.
    xo Nicole

  6. karla
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Andrea. First of all, you were one of the first blogs that I started reading and I have had the pleasure to continue reading you over 4+ years. It is so very brave to ask these questions of us. I do not know you in the flesh, only in this online world and through your and Jen’s class. I thought that I would contribute as you asked. I also didn’t read the other comments, because i wanted to speak from the heart.
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Your humility. You are honest about who you are and the realities of that.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Stop, look, and listen; listen within.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    Yes! I have learned that it’s more and more okay to be me. This is the greatest gift that anyone can give me (as I struggle so with my inner gremlins). I have learned that there is a creative side to everyone and that it’s just about clearing away the chatter that blocks us from that part.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    My creativity, especially with photography, and self acceptance.
    5. What would you like more of?
    You.

  7. Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Forgive me for commenting instead of emailing. Heading to the beach in the AM, trying to finish packing.
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Your vulnerability, sharing the REALNESS of life with the world.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Life is beautiful.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    To take time to appreciate the bounty of beauty around me. That I can be in front of the camera.
    But I would say the most important thing I learned from you (and Jen) was this year in Mondo during the resistance lesson. I am going through this resistance right now with my photography. I keep trucking because of your words.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    Oh I could write a novel. Mondo Beyondo fundamentally changed my life. I feel like I truly LIVE life now, the good and bad. I look at the world with such optimism now, like I can do anything. I am a dreamer for the first time.
    5. What would you like more of?
    Nothing more, just being you is perfect.

  8. Posted July 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    1. Perseverance
    2. Don’t sweat the small stuff
    3. trust yourself
    4. you seem to me to be fearless – and I’d like to be more fearless
    5. I can’t think of anything – I really like to see pictures of your boys.

  9. Posted July 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    1: Your greatest strengths from my perspective: vulnerability, honesty, ability to see beauty in the simple things.
    2: Authenticity is hard, but beautiful.
    3: That wherever I am, whatever I am experiencing, I am okay. And that quality is more important than quantity, particularly in regards to blog posting. Some blogs post a ton and I occasionally feel compelled to post more on my own site because it seems that is what everyone says you need to do to be “successful” at this blogging thing. But you remind me why I write what I write and share what I share and it is not about blog traffic. Every time I see a post from your blog appear in my reader, I am excited to open it. It can be true in the internet that less sometimes is more, if that means getting more meaningful posts.
    5: more of the same: your honesty, your joyfulness shaped by your struggles and glimpses of your life with your beautiful family.

  10. Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    oh yum.
    I’ll e-mail my answers but
    it reminds me of the spark kit
    I just sort of by passed that part in the book.
    maybe this is a sign.
    xo
    *c
    p.s. seeing the house in Manzanita makes me want to go there RIGHT NOW!

  11. Posted July 28, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Openly and honestly sharing your challenges and successes. Clear and engaging writing.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Marketing is not my strength, but I love Belinda’s – “I am like you. You are like me. We are both beautiful. Let’s be friends.”
    3. What have you learned from me?
    That I’m not alone – other people think in a similar way to me.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    Yes – a belief that a community can exist on the Internet and that it can support the community we have in real life.
    5. What would you like more of?
    More sharing about your journey through motherhood – the lessons you learn, failures and triumphs. Not the daily stuff, other people already do that well, I’m interested in the raw emotional stuff that as mums we feel and have to work through.

  12. Posted July 29, 2011 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    1. Greatest Strength: Not being afraid to be vulnurable & being one of the toughest softies that i know!
    2. Billboard Message: I love fiercely. Won’t you join me? I double, triple dare you!
    3. I’m learning to be a dreamer from watching you live your dreams.
    4. Mondo Beyondo changed my life. Really. I have a 9-month-old baby to prove it!
    5. I’d simply like to request that you keep putting yourself “out there”. I’d really miss you if you went into hiding.
    With love,
    Kristi (in Z├╝rich, Switzerland)

  13. Susanne
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    - positive thinking
    - never giving up (even in hard times)
    - being a mom of such too beautiful little guys
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    LIFE IS GOOD!
    3. What have you learned from me?
    - too see and enjoy the little things in life that happens to us every day.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    - i bought myself a new little camera and now i often take pics. not such a good as yours are but i am enjoying it… :)
    5. What would you like more of?
    - from you and your blog??? i would like to read more about your taste in music. you wrote some time ago about joshua radin and other artists. music is my life and it helps me so much and i would love to know what you’re listening when you are sad or happy… :)
    All my best from a rainy Germany,
    Susanne :)

  14. Sandra
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Belinda said it so well, especially the piece about sharing your vulnerability. It is quite beautiful the way you do this. As for what more, I’d love to do an online class with you on writing, or writing and photography. Very much.

  15. Posted July 29, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? Your creative passion, your courage to be extraordinary
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message? “Wear red shoes and kick some ass.”
    3. What have you learned from me? taking leaps of faith is awesome. being silly is a great gift.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? dreaming big (obviously), sharing your story (not being afraid to share the touchy parts)
    5. What would you like more of? nope, I’ll let you decide this one.

  16. Posted July 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? — I love that even when things are rough, you’re able to see good things and find the silver lining. I appreciate your honesty when things are difficult.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message? — Say yes.
    3. What have you learned from me? — I’ve been reading you since 2006, when I was a lonely 23-year-old girl going through a really awful time. I desperately wanted to order a Superhero necklace but was so poor I couldn’t pay my rent so I couldn’t order one. As I read your blog more and more, I realized that I had my own gifts and power and strengths, just by seeing you use yours. There’s a magical quality about what you write, and a joy, and your words really allowed me to find that on my own, which I really needed. I started feeling like a “superhero” in my own right, even if I didn’t have a necklace :)
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? — You introduced me to SARK and Nia and Chookooloonks and Jen Lemen. SO MANY THINGS.
    5. What would you like more of? — More of the same loveliness-your writing has been a gift. And maybe a coffee date when I make my way down to Berkeley again (I live in Sacramento).
    Thank you :)

  17. Posted July 30, 2011 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    To take the everyday and transform it into something magical.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Live life now!
    3. What have you learned from me?
    That it’s OK to evolve.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    As others have mentioned, Mondo has had an impact on my life. I’ve kept on trying when once upon a time, I might have given up.
    5. What would you like more of?
    More of the same – I like your blog because it’s eclectic. Oh – and another photography course in October would be nice!

  18. Patricia
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    1. You carry yourself with grace and dignity while remaining open and available = a difficult balance. You meet challenges with faith and humor. You write directly without guile or tricks. (sorry – couldn’t pick just one strength)
    2. We can all attain our highest and most precious goals; we just need to give ourselves the space to identify them. (hence, superhero)
    3. I have learned to dare to dream – that I am limited only by my imagination. Sure, I had heard those words before but now I am busy living them.
    4. See number 3. In addition, you have inspired me to let my dreams out into the universe. Your generosity in sharing your challenges and fears has inspired me to so the same. I am also a better listener and relish the opportunity to hear others on the same journey.
    5. I enjoy your writing every day. I especially enjoy your descriptions of the creative process: how you make the time and find the way to keep in touch with your creative soul. I have no idea of why I did not enroll in your photography class as I suspect it was a treasure trove of this sort of information. I hope you will have another….

  19. Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? – greatness of spirit
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message? – be real
    3. What have you learned from me? – be myself / yourself / dream big / play more – that even though you have ‘great spirit’ you still have crap days!!
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? – follow those dreams, believe in them
    5. What would you like more of? from you? nothing, its all enough honestly. for myself, I would like more kindred spirits around me.

  20. Posted July 30, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    p.s if I get to San Francisco can I come and say hi?

  21. michelle
    Posted July 31, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? Really? One? Hmmm….intuition…brains…friendship…creativity…weaving the elements of life into somethin’ beautiful…sheeze…ONE!? REALLY?
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message? Inspiring the superhero and beauty in all of us.
    3. What have you learned from me? There is beauty in it all….
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? Intuition…
    5. What would you like more of? Whatever calls to you, Baby! Trust in the calling…

  22. Posted August 1, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Patience. Witnessing you await your babes was filled with hope and patience…
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Live the life you have imagined for yourself.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    To keep my heart and eyes open.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    I purchased a Canon Rebel five years ago because of you and have taken thousands of beautiful photographs, some even adorn the walls of my home.
    5. What would you like more of?
    Whatever spills out from inside of you…

  23. Posted August 1, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Funny, but to me it’s you voice. Not what you say, but your physical voice. Your actual voice has some sort of musical hook in it.
    Billboard? Good Morning.
    Learned? I don’t know. Enjoyed? Lots. And that’s probably the most important thing to ‘learn.’
    Inspired? Surely something. More of? Whatever happens. Conspicuously inspirational people aren’t real. How many blogs have I stopped reading when they tried too hard?

  24. Posted August 1, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Belatedly adding my two cents:
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? You are so real. So honest and so real. Not dramatic without cause, but really present.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message? Your life can be mondo beyondo.
    3. What have you learned from me? To sit with the tough times and keep on trucking, knowing that everything is unfolding as it should.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? More appreciation for what is real, not because it’s necessarily how you expect it to look but because it is real.
    5. What would you like more of? More keeping it real!
    Thanks for keeping writing, Andrea.

  25. kathy
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    i agree with so much of what was said above. to avoid repeat, i’ll just add this:
    you continue to put yourself out into the world (despite whatever troubles you’ve had) and that is a quality i greatly admire. it’s how i try to live my life – because i want a life that is not only long and healthy, but also wide and happy – so i appreciate all the gentle reminders i get in your posts. thank you very much!
    kathy

  26. Sara
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    1. Inspiration is your greatest strength, to me. I have come away from your words & your images more inspired than any other place on the internet.
    2. Live your dreams.
    3. So many things! You have helped me be more kind to myself, and more open to the joyful possibilities in my life.
    4. See #1.
    5. More of exactly what you do. It is perfect, and perfectly you.
    Thank you!

  27. Posted August 2, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Andrea, I wish I knew you better, but with my limited knowledge here are’s how you’ve inspired me
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Honesty and humility. While some people use blogs and social media as a way to inspire envy and paint a facade, you show your true self in every word. If you aren’t feeling strong, happy, creative, you share it, but you still give a message of hope and love.
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Acceptance and joy found here.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    That it’s okay to be.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it? To blog, to be honest, and to enjoy where/however I am no matter where or what that is.
    5. What would you like more of? Nothing I can think of for the blog, but I’d love to buy your jewelry again. :)

  28. Natalie
    Posted August 3, 2011 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Andrea, I have been reading your blog since your initial struggles to conceive Ben…omg, wow…we’ve been together for awhile eh? …:*)
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength? -
    Your amazing ability to be open to life’s challenges and gifts
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    I inspire….
    3. What have you learned from me?
    It’s ok to take breaks and re-chart your life’s course, sometimes, it’s exactly the right thing to do.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    You’ve inspired me to pick up my camera, to try harder…even when trying is hard…and to allow myself to say NO to certain things that dont make me happy….and to admit out loud that sometimes change is required, even when the particular change is something challenging. Your post about the last time you moved….comes to mind. I remember vividly relating to that feeling.
    5. What would you like more of?
    More Nico and more Ben….:*) They light up my screen!

  29. Posted August 3, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    You inspire others by being honest. There’s so much beauty in that!
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Be yourself.
    3. What have you learned from me?
    To take the time to chronicle and think about my life.
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    My creativity. I don’t often make artsy time, but just by visiting your blog, I feel inspired, like I released positive energy.
    5. What would you like more of?
    Whatever you want–that’s the beauty of it.

  30. Posted August 3, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Hi Andrea,
    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog years ago. The blog world and social media has evolved so much since then, and the sites I visit have changed over the years, but I’ve always come back to this space and you’ve given me a chance to think about why.
    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    Your honesty and your willingness to accept and embrace both your strengths and weaknesses
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    To borrow from one of the earlier commentors… It’s okay to be
    Or simply… I ROCK
    because you do! :)
    3. What have you learned from me?
    To embrace both the highs and lows of life, to seek beauty even in the most unlikely places. I also love your photography and writing and learn from them too!
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    In addition to all of the above, your posts inspire me to be more kind to myself when I’m not. And sometimes a beautiful photo of yours would inspire me to go out with my own camera!
    5. What would you like more of?
    Anything you are inspired to do!
    Thank you so much for all that you share with us, Andrea!

  31. lupe
    Posted August 5, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    3. What have you learned from me?
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    5. What would you like more of?
    answer
    1. Truth
    2. honor yourself
    3.courage, we are not alone
    4. To seek
    5.it’d be great if you came to LA that you’d come see us (keith H girlfriend)

  32. Sarah
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    1. What do you think is my greatest strength?
    plumbing a situation to get at the root of what is going on -or- realizing that there is nothing to plumb for & taking it lightly
    2. If I was a billboard, what would be my message?
    Be your own superhero.
    (duh!)
    3. What have you learned from me?
    Dream big! Mondo Beyondo!
    4. Have I inspired anything in you? and if so, what is it?
    Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Be vulnerable.
    5. What would you like more of?
    Illustrative anecdotes!

  33. paula
    Posted August 8, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    I think your open heart is your greatest strength.
    Your mondo beyondo message has inspired me and it is what keeps me coming back to your site.

  34. Jennifer
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I meant to respond in a more timely manner, but one of the things that I’ve taken away from your blog is that you’re not afraid to admit you’re afraid, or concerned or are wondering about things (or whatever it is you want to call it). I think we’re all concerned, and it’s kind of comforting to know that…