Category Archives: Courses

My form of spiritual bypass – magical thinking.


If you have taken Mondo Beyondo, you know that one way we prepare for our dreams to come our way is to make a clearing. A clearing is a wide open space that tells the Universe you mean business. It is a space that you make in your heart, mind + home for the dreams you would like to manifest.

Even though I have been teaching this course for years, I forget how important this step is. Clearings can be anything from a de-cluttered closet to clearing your schedule for the weekend. It could be learning to set good boundaries (and saying no to activities that drain you) or having a big garage sale.

This summer has been a season of clearing. Big time.

Usually, when I make a clearing, it’s about de-cluttering, getting rid of the dust bunnies and getting all the schmutzy fingerprints off the walls. It’s going through the junk drawers and letting go of toys and clothing we don’t need.

This time though, my clearing looked a little different.

This time I needed to ask myself: What have I been afraid to look at that’s been getting in the way of my dreams coming true? The answer came immediately – money.

This was the thing I was most afraid of going into single motherhood.
I live in the Bay Area.
I’m an artist.
How the heck was this all going to work out?

And so I did a form of spiritual bypassmagical thinking.

For me, this looked like saying things to myself like: It always works out. You always figure it out. You’ll just earn more to make up for your new expenses.

As a mindset, this is actually totally reasonable! And on some level, absolutely true.

But without looking at the numbers, without creating a solid plan, my magical thinking could only get me so far. After two years, my little ship seemed to be sinking… so I called in an old photography client who is a financial advisor. As I told her my story + admitted how afraid and lost I was, I began to cry. It was the shame of putting it all out there, it was the admission of a kind of defeat, it was the vulnerability of asking for help.

She responded,”Oh Andrea, first of all, I’m so sorry. Second of all, we’re going get you through this. And you’re going to thrive.”

Through my tears, I heard one word that went straight to my heart – we. That little word assured me I had an ally in this lonely place – someone who had expertise, experience and lots of compassion.

Since then, I’ve been going through my numbers with a fine-tooth comb and really understanding where where my money is going. I’ve been looking at my numbing behaviors – media and the like – and noticing what my triggers are. (Loneliness, fear of big swaths of time without my kids, etc.)

I even created a gigantic post-it note that I see each day that details each credit card where I owe money + each place money is flowing in so that I am conscious of where I am. Each time I knock off a bit of debt it is so satisfying to cross the number off in black Sharpie and write a new one!

Mostly though, it’s bravely putting my attention on things that I’m not always comfortable looking at… seeing where I’ve been hiding + putting my head in the sand.

And here’s the best news: I’ve been feeling less afraid + more powerful.

Working with the truth has its own magic. Whatever you are hiding from, whatever truth is hard for you to face, is draining your energy. Looking at it with courage (and support) has a way of diffusing its power over you.

 

If you’re thinking about taking Mondo Beyondo, we start tomorrow! Even if you don’t take the course, consider making a clearing now. I am already feeling the transformation peeps!

P.S. If you are a Mondo Beyondo alumni, you qualify for the alumni rate! Just hit reply for the coupon code!

 

Real life magic + how it works.

10 years ago, I launched my very first online class – Mondo Beyondo! It started out as a blog post (every New Year’s eve) where I would encourage my community to ditch the resolutions in favor of the Mondo Beyondo list – a list of the most outrageously wonderful things we could imagine having in our lives. Things like: Meet Bruce Springsteen, have someone gift me a trip to Hawaii, write a bestselling book that changes people’s lives, have a baby….

By stretching ourselves into new territory this way, we calibrate our sense of what’s possible and uncover dreams we didn’t know we had. The process is intuitive and inspiring and serious magic tends to unfold from these sessions. Real life magic.

I’m proud to say that thousands of people have gone through this program over the years + it remains such a sacred offering to me.

Here’s a fun example of how Mondo Beyondo works:

When I created Mondo Beyondo, I wrote, “Have Alice Waters teach me to cook” as an example of an outrageous Mondo Beyondo dream. Her famous restaurant Chez Panisse is in my neighborhood and her renowned Edible Schoolyard is down the street from my house. We swim in Alice Waters so to speak. 😉 I was surprised when I wrote it down though because I never knew that learning to cook was a dream of mine! It was one of those dreams that surfaced from somewhere deep in my psyche and I was curious about how it would manifest.

A year later, a wonderful new friend (Samin Nosrat) and I hatched a scheme. We would do a trade. She would get Mondo Beyondo coaching and I would get a lesson in canning my favorite early girl tomatoes. This plan then got a bit more elaborate when she offered to come to my house to teach me the fundamentals of cooking based on a curriculum she was building. I was so grateful to be her guinea pig!

As I grocery shopped for our first lesson, I remembered that she used to be a chef at Chez Panisse, Alice Water’s restaurant. My Mondo Beyondo dream had come true!!!! in an even better package: in the form of Samin and a wonderful new friendship.

And guess what? That curriculum she was building turned into the NY Times bestseller – Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat + will be a show on Netflix this October 2018!) Her Mondo Beyondo dreams came true as well.

One of the things I’ve learned in the process of teaching Mondo Beyondo is that some dreams live inside other dreams.

Ideas that might seem outrageous or unnecessary actually have deeper, more precious dreams living inside of them. I get the image of nesting dolls. Inside my more outrageous dream of cooking with Alice Waters lived my dream to learn to cook simple, beautiful food. Inside that dream lives a dream that is about community and connectedness, nourishing family and tradition, and having more simple joy and pleasure in my life.

This Mondo Beyondo dream of learning to cook was like a missing puzzle piece… and with it, I was beginning to see the larger picture of my life more clearly. I was creating home.

The fall Mondo Beyondo session begins this Monday, September 10th! You can register below. Or if you’d like more details, go to this page.

And if you have taken Mondo Beyondo before, do you have any stories to share? What has come true on your list?

P.S. Alumni + scholarships rates available. Just hit reply + I will send you a coupon code for 50% off.

Wabi-Sabi + a sneak peek into joy-seeking class. It starts today!

Day #3:
Wabi-Sabi

The imperfect bowl. The chipped blue nail polish on her fingers. The withering zinnias making a perfect dusty rose. Have you noticed that things that are imperfect are so much more interesting?

I love the following definition found on Japanology:

Wabi-sabi might be the Buddhist view of the facts of existence: Both life and art are beautiful not because they are perfect and eternal, but because they are imperfect and fleeting.

Whereas classical Western aesthetic ideals were of beauty and perfection, of symmetry and a fine finish, wabi-sabi is hard-nosed and realistic: Nothing lasts, nothing is perfect. Accepting these hard facts opens the door to the realistic appreciation of a deeper beauty.

I try to remember this when I am humbled by my own imperfections. When I am caught in the storm of my own inner critics telling me that I’m flawed, not good enough.

Seeing the beauty in the imperfect is a great practice. One that helps me bring more compassion to my fragile ego and tender heart.

 

Above is a sneak peek into the Joy-Seeker’s Treasure Hunt course! 30 Days of creative photo prompts to fill your inbox with inspiration, photo tips and bursts of joy. Just $49.

Class begins today!

P.S. If you are already registered, look out for your invitation arriving this afternoon! If you don’t receive it by tonight, hit reply and message me!

Creative practices save me.

We have a choice (moment to moment) about where we put our attention.

This doesn’t mean that we deny the pain + suffering that’s happening in the world (or in ourselves). These things are very real. This isn’t about pushing away what we don’t want to see, but about making conscious choices about where we put our attention – do we tend our fears or grow our joy?

When you’re a sensitive creature (like me + probably you too?) you can get really swallowed up. Just going to the news + social media sites each morning, I can feel myself armoring up for the assault on my system. What’s happened today? What new tragedy, betrayal, political firestorm… I try to let in what I can let in + be in action where I can be in action… but holy smokes. It’s a lot.

What I know (as someone who ebbs and flows with depression and anxiety) is that creative practices save me.

They save me by reminding me of my own light.
They remind me of the beauty in the world.
They keep me calibrated. Buoyant. They keep me connected to my truth.
They help me turn my attention toward the goodness.

I practice these things in my micro-world so that I can show up and be a certain kind of person in the macro. My intention is to be a bright light in my community and be a force of healing and good. It does not do anyone any good for me to get swallowed up by the news and crawl into bed feeling helpless. Or collapse into a what’s-the-point-it’s-all-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket... which I definitely feel sometimes.

And so I practice. I practice strengthening my joy muscles.

The practice really started with me carrying my camera every day + and getting more present – What’s interesting about this moment? What’s beautiful? What’s the light doing? What are the juxtapositions of color that I can see right now? Ooooooohhh…. look at those lemons against that blue sky. Click. Click. That’s so beautiful… and my energy would slowly shift.

These little photo safaris became like medicine for me.

And we always offer the medicine that we most need. 

And so… I offer the medicine of these creative practices + waking up to beauty because that’s what feeds me and nourishes me and I want to share it. That’s why I’m here and why I do this work.

I focus on photo classes because they are so accessible and easy! We all have our little phones with us and can take 10 minutes each day to remember that there is another reality that lives in real time alongside our default one.

The camera becomes this wonderful little tool for our joy + well-being. Let’s amplify our joy together.

$49 Class begins this Monday, July 30th, 2018

Hit reply if you have any questions! It would be great to have you.

 

[Video] What is it to be a joy-seeker?

Hey friends!

I just recorded a welcome video for my upcoming course – The Joy-Seeker’s Treasure Hunt – and thought it was a great way to introduce you to the class itself. If you are thinking about joining in, this will give you a sense of where I’m coming from!

I hope to have you! The class begins this Monday, July 30th, 2018.

The Joy-Seeker’s Treasure Hunt!

Art has always been my native tongue. It helps me elevate my sense of wonder, attune my eyes for delight and connect with my heart. It is also the surest way for me to buoy myself and get out of whatever funk, despair or loss of perspective I might have. Walking with my camera has always been my medicine. Maybe it works wonders for you too?

After watching that Ted Talk about joy I mentioned in my last post (Where Joy Hides and How to Find it) I had a light bulb moment – this is what I do! I am a joy-seeker. I find little sparks of delight and joy through my camera! And this is what I always hope to bring to you as well – an accessible way to pivot toward joy, to put our attention on beauty and color and things that remind of the goodness in the world.

What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside me. I want everybody to open up. I’m like an imbecile with a can-opener in his hand, wondering where to begin – to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.

I know it because I feel so marvelous myself most of the time. And when I feel that way everybody seems marvelous… everybody and everything… even pebbles and pieces of cardboard… a match stick lying in the gutter… anything… a goat’s beard, if you like. That’s what I want to write about… and then we’re all going to see clearly, see what a staggering, wonderful, beautiful world it is.” -Henry Miller

If it feels like this is good medicine for you too, let’s do the Joy-Seeker’s Treasure Hunt together! 30 days of photo prompts that will train our eyes toward what’s good in the world.

The fun begins Monday, July 30th. Just $49 to get your joy on!

This is joy.

I’ve been doing a little experiment lately. Whenever I feel anxious, stressed or just generally crunchy, I ask myself the following question: What if you let it be easy? How could this be more fun?

These might sound like ridiculous questions. Especially in situations that are absolutely not easy at all and zero on the fun meter. But you know what these questions do? They put me in a state of curiosity. They open up a space of inquiry where I am no longer thinking my habitual thoughts. These two little questions help me open up to the possibility of ease and joy without having to change my circumstances at all.

Yesterday, as I was writing for my new course Summer School (starts Monday!) I noticed I was feeling stressssssed… and crunchy and stuck. I called a friend to help me think through the flow of the lessons and the conceptual ideas behind the class. As I was giving her a monologue about ease and self-compassion, I stopped myself.

“Wait a minute!” I said to her. “I’m trying to design this class in the mindset of struggle – of trying to get it perfect, trying to prove that there is a rigor behind all of my totally delightful (and silly) prompts. I’m already coming from a place of lack. The stress is about fear… But this class is about FUN! It’s about pivoting towards ease and joy + letting go of whatever is in the way of that.”

“Problems cannot be solved with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

I started telling her about all of the delicious things we were going to do together – The Smilympics! Paint chip poetry! Foraging for color! and when I connected to my authentic joy, I got more clear:

Play has no purpose!
It is an end in and of itself.
It’s about seeing the world again with creative eyes.
It’s about seeing your life as a poem. A story. Something juicy and colorful and worthy of enjoying.

My intention for this class is to give you an experience of creative play – a whole month of it in fact! Consider this your experiment in cultivating more ease + joy in your life. So excited to do this together. Thank you for being with me in my joy!! xo Andrea

Catching hail in a jar + seeing the world through creative eyes.

I was in Colorado all weekend for my nephew Caleb’s bar mitzvah. (That’s Caleb and I in the photo above) The day started off full of sunshine – complete with sundresses and bare feet – but by the afternoon there were tiny balls of ice pouring from the sky! What the what?

So we did what any curious Californians would do – we ran outside with a mason jar! Nico grabbed a handful of ice and put it in his mouth, Ben stuck his hand inside the jar until it was numb and I giggled and felt more alive than usual for having run outside in a hail storm. I love how kids understand this intuitively… that to experience wonder fully, all the senses are necessary.

Another highlight of my trip was spending time with my sister’s niece Hannah. She is an incredible artist and poet who just graduated from college + is a total kindred spirit. She leads a poetry camp for girls each summer in Bolinas, CA (hit reply if you want more deets on this) and as she was telling me about it – tea parties, poetry walks, fairy houses – I realized that I do something similar for grownups!

We are reminding ourselves and each other to see the world through creative eyes.

We are connecting in deep ways to our spirits and nourishing ourselves with color and play and the joy of being with others. Simple things. But things that get lost in the busy busy.

I wish we could all be in the same room for a tea party. We would eat pastries + drink earl grey + tell each other stories. We would walk through the streets capturing the beauty we find. We would write love notes and paste them on mirrors in public restrooms. We would remind each other that it’s okay to be imperfect, to not have it all together… and that we don’t have to pretend for each other.

The good news is that we have a great little internet classroom where we can gather! And I am so excited to be with you.(Thrilled by how many of you have already signed up!) If you haven’t enrolled in my newest creation (Summer School: Calling in ease, beauty and magic) you can find out more here!

It will be an easy peasy class – a place to remember wonder, magic + your creative spirit.

xo Andrea

 

The adventure begins Monday, June 4th, 2018

$99 You can still get the early bird price for $49!
Just enter the coupon code: EARLYBIRDLOVE at checkout.

 

Wow! and the story of the beet lady.

So delighted by how many people are already signed up for Summer School! Thank you!! I couldn’t be more excited.

And I have to tell you, the magic has already begun. 

Get this! I was contemplating one of the creative photo prompts for the course – thinking about how we might be able to find things in the world that match the color palette of what we are wearing on a given day.Sort of like your own personal camouflage… where if you stood in front of a bright pink wall for example, you might blend in.I wondered if it was too complex, when lo and behold, the woman in line in front of me at the grocery store said, “Sorry, gotta just grab one more thing!” No problem, I replied.

She returned with a bunch of beets in her hand. “Oh my goodness!” I practically shouted. “You match those beets perfectly!”

I explained that I am a photographer and teach creative courses and that I was contemplating a prompt just like this… she let me take her photo and then beamed at me the whole way out of the store. It’s possible I made her day + I  know she made mine. Just a simple moment of spontaneous connection with a stranger (where I got to share my delight in all things creativity and color) was pure gold to me.

It was also a beautiful nod from the Universe. Go girl! it seemed to say. You’re on the right track!

In a world that often overwhelms, that makes me want to crawl under the covers and hide, creative play is a balm. It nourishes me in the best possible ways.

It reminds me of who I am at my core.
It reminds me of my aliveness and my joy.
And when I feel like I’ve lost my sparkle, it helps me discover it again.

If your heart did a little leap when you saw the lady with the beets, this class is for you. Or if you’ve lost your sparkle, please join me in this creative adventure.

You can still get the early bird price of just $49. (Enter the code: EARLYBIRDLOVE at checkout)

Hoping you all find some sparks of joy today,
Andrea

The adventure begins Monday, June 4th, 2018

$99 Early bird pricing gets you the class for just $49!
Just enter the coupon code: EARLYBIRDLOVE at checkout.

 

So excited to share a brand new course! Summer School!

For summer, I wanted to create an experience of pure joy for you! Something easy…. (it’s summer after all!) and fun. Something that will get us out into the world + wake up our creative spirits.

Here’s what I came up with:

A series of delicious prompts on the themes of ease, beauty and everyday magic.

  • Ease: Self-compassion, cultivating a mindset of ease, letting go of struggle. 
  • Beauty: Creative photo prompts that will wake you up to the beauty and color in your world.
  • Everyday Magic: These prompts are my favorite of all! These will be secret missions of kindness that are designed to delight you + also the world. They are joy-filled and all about creative play.

Here’s what you’ll discover, inside:

  • 4 weeks of written, audio + video lessons that will help you call in ease, beauty and magic.
  • Prompts for creative play that will loosen our minds and open our hearts – allowing us to see the world through a different lens.
  • Secret missions of kindness.
  • Support in choosing ease as a way of being – inside whatever circumstances we are in.
  • As we welcome in ease, beauty and magic, we will ultimately connect to our joy.

The adventure begins Monday, June 4th, 2018

Want to see a sample prompt? Here’s one below!

 

$99 Early bird pricing gets you the class for just $49!
Just enter the coupon code: EARLYBIRDLOVE at checkout.