Category Archives: Courses

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:

My BIG SALE of the year! 72 hours to get an amazing collection of courses + e-books.

Dear Creative Friends,

I’ve curated a FANTASTIC sale happening for the next 72 hours where you can get one of my newest creations (Choosing Ease: 21 days of letting go of struggle and finding your flow)  + a huge bundle of other courses (ie. Kelly Rae Roberts, SARK, Christine Mason Miller, Mati Rose + Faith Evans Sills,, Laurie Wagner, Flora Bowley, Jennifer Lee + many more!) for just $97.

It’s a great way to experience a lot of beautiful work for one nifty price.

You can check it all out here!

The sale ends in 72 hours! so don’t miss it. 🙂

 

 

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