It’s my birthday + I have a little gift for you.

I’ve been craving the real lately… the in-person, the things I can touch with my hands, the things that are not mediated by a screen or a device. I can see you nodding your heads out there, right?

Once or twice a year I go back to my roots and get busy making superhero jewelry. Colorful beads that look like hard candy sit in bowls on my desk, thick sterling silver wire gets bent with pliers… and all the while, podcasts and music flow in the background. It’s my bliss -one of the places I find deep joy and nourishment.

My joy is also in sharing them! And seeing them on friends like on my friend Monica below… who was kind enough to model the earth necklace for me on our hike!

BIG BIRTHDAY SALE! $40 off this week only.

Get $40 off this week only. (Instead of $119 they are $79)

This might be my last hurrah in the way of superhero necklaces! So come and get em now + into the holidays. 
https://www.etsy.com/shop/superhero?coupon=BIRTHDAYLOVE

P.S. Thank you for the incredible love in regard to my latest blog post. So glad it touched so many of you.

P.S.S. Did you see that my Wild Writing teacher (Laurie Wagner) + I are taking a group to San Miguel de Allende in March 2019? There are still spaces open. But not many. Join us!

Let’s hang out in real life, shall we? San Miguel de Allende March 2019!

Hey creative friends,

Great news! Laurie and I sold out our January 2019 session in 48 hours! So we decided to add another session!

The dates for this workshop will be March 17th -22nd, 2019.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know that San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is one of my favorite places in the entire world! It’s full of beauty and art, warm + friendly people and incredible architecture. It’s my favorite place in the world to collect color…. and is now my favorite place to bring a group! (We had the pleasure of taking a group this year to explore + learn and create… + it was ah-mazing)

The city attracts artists and lovers of art because the light there is magic. It is that painterly sort of light that exists in a handful of places in the world and it always fills me with awe. It’s a place where you want to drink in the terracotta walls, walk for hours on the cobblestone streets and peek into hidden artist studios. It’s a place where you want to create. (And sit in chairs with wings)

My dear friend + Wild Writing teacher Laurie Wagner and I are taking a small group of creative folks back to San Miguel this March 2019. (March 17th-22nd, 2019 to be exact) We will be exploring, writing, storytelling, taking lots of photos and having one of the most creative and delicious adventures we’ve ever had! 

Our days will be a perfect blend of Wild Writing, creative photography exercises, storytelling and exploring this magical city together. We’ll learn from local artisans, take a food tour of the city (total foodie paradise), take photo walks during the magic hour, and wander to the town square where celebration fills the streets at night.

Bring your walking shoes, your favorite camera and a notebook and we’ll take care of the rest! Spaces are limited to 15 – we want this to be an intimate gathering. Our group will be occupying an entire bed and breakfast right in the heart of downtown San Miguel. We’ll have walking access to galleries, restaurants, shops and historic sites. Breakfast will be included each day in addition to a variety of room options.

Here are the details all in one place:

Dates:
Marach 17th – 22nd, 2019 (5 nights at a gorgeous bed + breakfast)

Your investment:
$2,300 (small, private room)
$2,500 (deluxe, private room)
$2,600 (fancy private room)

$2,200 (shared room)
$2,300 (luxury shared suite)
$2,400 (fancy shared suite)

The price above includes:
-Lodging for 5 nights at Casa De La Noche
-Breakfast each morning
-Wild Writing class each day (sometimes we do this twice a day!)
-Magic hour photo walks + instruction
-Group art class from a local artisan
-Food tour of San Miguel (the most delicious way to get familiar with the city!)
-Shuttle to + from the airport (as long as you are arriving in Leon, Mexico (BJX) or Queretero)

Deposit:
$500 (non-refundable deposit to secure your spot!) 

Space limited to 15 lovely peeps. 
Nab your spot soon. This will sell out! (First session sold out quick!)

You will come away with:

A Wild Writing practice: Something that has sustained me and my creative life for more than 15 years now. It’s how I create every blog post + learned to tell the truth in my writing. It’s one part creative practice, one part healing practice. If you know it, you already love it. If you don’t know it, you’re in for a treat. (Led by Laurie)

A camera (or phone!) full of glorious colors + amazing images: And skills that will take your photography to the next level. (Photography led by Andrea)

15 new friends for adventure + support + connection: We will create a gorgeous little tribe for the week. We trust that just the right constellation of people will show up for a really magical time.

A fun + easy creative adventure where you get to learn + grow + play + explore. We can’t wait to be with you!

Click the button above to pay your $500 non-refundable deposit + secure your spot! 

 

The only safe place to go.

I’ve been flatlining for months – exhausted, crawling into bed at 2pm each day, wondering where all my energy has gone. I listen to the news and it’s full of vitriol and hate. Bombs. Shootings. More hate. I can hardly listen without going into a sort of trauma response. And so I turn off the radio, close the shutters on my heart, afraid to take any of it in, lest it take me down.

And then yesterday, in the dentist chair, the dam broke.

It’s not unusual for me to cry at the dentist. Something about lying on your back, mouth splayed, strangers peering inside with metal tools. I can’t think of anything more vulnerable.

“I’m sorry I keep crying,” I told the dentist. “You can do your work. It’s just really vulnerable to be in this chair. I can steel myself and try not to feel it, or drug myself out of it, but here it is.”

“I’m exactly the same as you when I have to get work done,” she replied and handed me a Kleenex and a blanket. Then she asked me if I wanted Cat Stevens or Krishna Das on the stereo. (It’s Berkeley after all!)

It was almost 2 hours in the chair- a lot of drilling and numbing and cotton, the smell of burning god knows what… fists clenched. This is suffering I thought. And I remembered the practice I learned from Kristin Neff. First, you recognize the moment as a moment of suffering. (This is suffering) Then you remind yourself that suffering is a part of life. That everyone suffers. (You haven’t done anything wrong, nor are you being punished) And in that moment you become connected to the suffering of others. You become connected to an entire human race that suffers each and every day. This is not meant to bring you down. It’s a reminder of our shared humanity. And for me, in that moment, it was a reminder of the pain in our world that I have been trying to keep at arms’s length.

Sometimes allowing a little crack in the armor- to allow ourselves to feel – also means feeling so many more layers. This might be why we avoid it. We numb ourselves with screens and work, alcohol and weed, Facebook and Instagram, busy busy. Because if we even felt into the edges of our grief, it might unleash something unmanageable, like a tidal wave of pain that we would never recover from.

This is the fear. But it’s not how it works.

There is a great story that Frank Ostaseski shared on my podcast. He is the buddhist teacher who created Zen Hospice and mentors caregivers in offering compassionate end of life care. He also wrote one of my favorite books – The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. Frank was once giving a talk on the topic of moving toward what’s difficult and a man in the audience remarked, “It’s like telephone poles!” Confused, Frank asked him to explain:

I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “Telephone poles? What do you mean?” I asked.

He explained that he once had a job installing telephone poles. “They’re hard and heavy, standing up to forty feet high.” There was a critical moment after you placed a pole in the ground, he said, when a pole was unstable and might topple over. “If it hit you, it could break your back.”

His first day on the job, the man turned to his partner and said, “If this pole starts to fall, I’m running like hell.”

But the old-timer replied, “Nope, you don’t want to do that. If that pole starts to fall, you want to go right up to it. You want to get real close and put your hands on the pole. It’s the only safe place to be.”

It’s counter-intuitive, but moving toward what’s difficult, being willing to feel it, is in the end the only safe place to go.

Yesterday, I had an impromptu session with my friend Laurel Bleadon-Maffei. I mentioned the synagogue in Pittsburgh and the floodgates of tears opened. “What’s the feeling inside the grief?” she asked. I thought for a moment. “Like we’re outnumbered,” I replied. “Like there is too much hate, ignorance and unconsciousness for us to stand a chance.”

This is the place of despair I’d been trying to avoid. A kind of collapse. Defeat is a familiar place for me to go. It’s hard for me to find my fight.

I’ve been doing EMDR lately. If you’ve ever experienced it, you probably know a bit about its magic. It’s a way to work with traumatic events, anxiety and other issues with the most astounding transformational effects. With the therapist I’ve been working with, I hold two small buzzers (one in each palm) that alternately vibrate in a soothing and rhythmic way. This stimulates both sides of the brain and (I believe) allows you to process more three-dimensionally.

During one of my sessions a few weeks ago, I placed myself in a scene from my childhood that was particularly charged. I watched the scene as I held these little buzzers in my hands. After a few minutes, my body began to jerk in a way I couldn’t control. “My body keeps jerking!” I said to the therapist, a little alarmed. “See what it’s trying to tell you,” she replied.

My shoulders moved forward and my chest caved in over and over again. Then I heard the words in my mind… “This is recoiling. It’s fear, disgust, terror.” I sat with it while tears streamed down my cheeks. Then something extraordinary happened.

An enormous woman with wings swooped down, like a goddess or an angel or a Renaissance painting. “Oh my god,” I said aloud. “The feminine just came in.” I don’t normally express myself this way. I rarely talk about the sacred feminine or have even fully understood the concept until this moment. But this was her.

In the vision, she wrapped my little girl self in a blanket, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ve got you.” Then she took her gigantic hand and pointed at the person I was with who had created all that terror in me. “NO!” she boomed.

One word. No. And she carried me away.

I was stunned. And opened my eyes. “I felt her Andrea,” the therapist said. “She filled this entire room.”

I can’t remember why I am telling you all of this. Perhaps because we are all suffering as a collective, we are afraid, feeling vulnerable, trapped in a world that doesn’t feel kind or charitable. We are in our own kind of recoiling – in disgust, fear and horror.

And maybe that’s what’s needed right now. That fierce, powerful feminine to come in for us as a collective whole. To gather us up, look us in the eyes and say, I’ve got you. To point a finger to the oppressor and say “No. No more.” 

We also need the sacred masculine, defined here as:

Each of us carries within us aspects of both the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine. The true masculine is characterized by confidence without arrogance; rational thinking without a need to control; honor without a desire for war. It provides stability, strength, and courage in an ever-shifting world.

Through all these experiences – the dentists chair, talking with my friend, the EMDR – I am learning that when we open to our discomfort in a conscious way, it has the opportunity to move, to shape-shift, to instruct.

We discover resources we didn’t know we had.
We can move from flat-line mode to feeling alive again.
Creative solutions arise that would otherwise not have found a way in.

Maybe this is the best we can do right now. To show up fully and consciously for what we are all facing. To practice this kind of moving toward what hurts… not to collapse in defeat, but with the fierce love and nurture of the feminine alongside the stable strength and confidence of the sacred masculine.

 

 

It was never about me being a singer in a gospel choir.

Have you listened to the Ted interview with Elizabeth Gilbert? (a new podcast from Ted) It’s ah-mazing + you should stop what you’re doing and listen right now. She talks about creativity (and grief) in the most resonant and beautiful ways… and she makes a really helpful distinction between passion and curiosity:

“Passion asks you to throw it all in the bonfire. Curiosity is way more generous. It says, just give me a little bit of your time and let’s see what we can do.”

Curiosity has always been the starting place for me too. I wonder what would happen if… I wonder if I could… I wonder what it would be like to… We don’t need to know why. We can lean into the mystery.

Decades ago, after many years of going to Glide Memorial in San Francisco (mostly to listen to the gospel choir!) I found myself thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to be part of that swaying mass of sound… “ and so my friend dared me to audition. And I did. And it was hands down, the most terrifying thing I have EVER done. But I got to sing with the choir for a few months and I got to experience that incredible feeling of being part of the music. Inside the music. Full body, holy wow.

In the end, I’m not much of a singer (I was kind of terrible at it!) and it was really stressful to keep it up. I realized that I actually enjoyed listening to the music so much more than I enjoyed singing it. With much relief, I quit. Hallelujah!

It could have felt like a failure, but here’s the thing: It was never about me being a singer in a gospel choir.

I was laid off from my dream job soon after + I knew it was time for me to start my own business. This experience was exactly what I needed to strengthen my courage muscles. Whatever it took for me to audition, to go after something that I wanted so much and yet was so terrified to pursue, was exactly the kind of daring I needed to take the leap and start my business. In fact, compared to singing in a world renowned gospel choir, starting a business started to look easy!

Follow those whispers of curiosity. They are purposeful. If only to delight us + grow us in new ways.

And if you have been thinking, “I wonder if I could start a podcast…” The answer is yes! I will show you how.

Class starts tomorrow. Monday, October 22nd, 2018.

[Video] Do you have a dream of creating a podcast? Class starts on Monday.

Over the course of 4 weeks, I will help you through every step of the process to creating your very own podcast! Learn everything from how to choose the name of your show to how to get it up on itunes! I promise to make it fun + easy so you are sure to make this dream real.

In this course, we will explore:

Week #1: Let’s make it real.
This week we will get clear on what our podcast is about, what our vision and deeper purpose is for our show, choosing a name and creating a description for itunes. We will also create a graphic for our podcast! And some fancy music for the intro + outro.

Week #2: The technical pieces you need to know.
Equipment, how to name your files, what software you might need. Don’t worry. I promise to make this all very fun + easy. We will hold hands when it feels overwhelming!

Week #3: We’re geeking out now.
Writing and recording your intro + outro. Show notes. Creating graphics for each episode. How to infuse storytelling into your work.

Week #4: Recording, editing and publishing
Launching your show! And getting the word out. We will be bringing it all together in this last week and making sure you have everything ready for your podcast launch. Then we will celebrate because holy moly, we deserve it!

P.S. If you love podcasts but don’t want your own show, listen to mine! Some favorite episodes lately: