Category Archives: Good things

2014 Special: Bring a friend for free!

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The more the merrier!

BRING A FRIEND FOR FREE to any Superhero Life or Mondo Beyondo course!
(as long as that friend has never taken a course with me)

Mondo Beyondo begins Monday, January 6th, 2014

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Superhero Photo begins Monday, January 13th, 2014

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P.S. Just let me know your friend’s email address in the notes section of Paypal.

NOTE: If you have already registered for a 2014 course, just email me with your friend’s address and we’ll add them to the list. (superherosf@gmail.com)

 

 

Manifesting some New Year Magic: A workshop!

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Join me for some manifesting in the New Year!

We will be completing our 2013 by celebrating all that we created, all the ways that we were brave, all the places we grew… and then letting it all go. Phew!

Then we will dive into consciously creating our 2014. We will be:

  • Creating Mondo Beyondo lists for 2014
  • Getting clear on our theme/intentions for the year
  • Doing creative manifesting exercises + rituals that will gather support from your wisest self, the circle of kindred spirits at the workshop, and the Universe. Power manifesting people!

You will come away clear + energized and ready for the magic to flow this year.
(Plus! You will meet nine lovely humans who can support you in 2014 + hold your vision with you.)

Register here: $100 per person/lunch is included!

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Details:

When: Sunday, January 12th, 2014 (This DATE SOLD OUT)
NEW DATE: Sunday, January 19th
10am – 3pm
Where: Private home on the Berkeley/Oakland border
What: A day of connecting + manifesting
Bring: An open heart + a journal

The dinner nanny + other Mondo Beyondo dreams you might have thought were impossible.

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Ben’s happy toast.

Sometimes you hear a story that you will never forget. It rearranges you and changes how you think forever.

During the Opening the Creative Channel retreat in October, we played a round of Storybowl. As we passed the bowl around, everyone got a prompt to tell a spontaneous true story from their life. Nicole’s prompt was this: A wish that came true.

She thought for a moment. And then told us the most awesome story.

First, I should mention that Nicole is the mother of two small kids. She also has a big time corporate job where she works long hours and is in charge of a lot of people. At the time when this story unfolded, she was so exhausted at the end of each day she could barely move past 8pm. Some nights she would sleep on the couch downstairs so she wouldn’t have to make the trek all the way to bed. It was so extreme that she and her husband started to wonder if their was something medically wrong with her. But after rounds of tests the doctor simply said, “You have a demanding job and two small kids.” Ah yes, that.

And then she had an idea. She wrote a Mondo Beyondo list and created a new dream called “Dinner Nanny.” In Nicole’s words below:

I am a dreamer. I love to dream about my ideal life and then make that happen. All of the wonderful things in my life started as detailed dreams. Andrea and Jen’s Mondo Beyondo class made my dreaming even stronger. And it was after taking Mondo Beyondo that I created a new dream that I called “dinner nanny.” Because the #1 thing in my life that I liked to do the least was making dinner during the week. Not just making dinner but shopping for and thinking about dinner. Especially thinking about dinner.

I thought, what if I hire a culinary student to plan and shop and make our dinners during the week? But then I pushed the dream further. What if I hired someone to take care of dinner and the laundry? What if I hired someone to take care of dinner, the laundry and tidying the kids’ rooms after school? Who could pick up the kids from school when I’m traveling for work and give my husband a break? Who could allow us to go on a date night once a month? Who could dogsit when we’re out of town? Who could drop off the library books and dry cleaning? Who could get the oil changed on the car every 3 months? Who can water the plants so they don’t die in the summer? Who could ask me if I ate lunch that day or exercised?

I made a list. I showed it to my husband. He said “There’s no way you can ask someone to do all of this.” I said, “Let’s see what happens.” I posted my job description on a site called Barefoot Student, which is like Craigslist, but for college students.

I hired the first person I interviewed. Her name was Deirdre and she had worked in a restaurant. Deirdre knew her way around the kitchen. Deirdre made delicious food. Deirdre was really great with my kids. Deirdre instantly made life better. Our friends said, “You look different.” My husband explained, “It’s the dinner nanny.”  

The dinner nanny transformed Nicole’s life! It freed her up to play with her kids when she got home. It gave her more energy and vitality. It allowed her to be more present for the parts of her life that mattered most.

The dinner nanny has become a symbol of ease for me.

Of asking for help and actually receiving it. Of allowing ourselves to imagine what we might need, articulating it, and possibly even getting it. But you know what? Letting ourselves want what we want is its own muscle. Can we allow ourselves the full breadth of our desire?

Getting it or not is an entirely different matter.

Can we allow ourselves to want what we want, whether we get it or not? This is a big edge for me. And probably why this story inspires me so much.

Maybe having a dinner nanny for you is someone who comes in to cook dinner twice a week. Maybe it’s deciding to have pizza delivered every Tuesday night so you can play with your kids. Maybe it’s just having company more often so that the evenings are more fun…

Dinner nanny has simply become shorthand for, how can I bring more ease + joy into my life?

Kids or not, where would you like to invite more ease + joy into your life? What would your version of the dinner nanny look like?

 

P.S. The next session of Mondo Beyondo starts January 6th! Join us.

 

 

 

On my nightstand.

Everything Is Connected: Reimagining the World One Postcard at a Time by Keri Smith

I love everything that Keri Smith does! and Ben and I have been having a blast with her new postcard book. Each card gives you instructions that engage not only the sender but also the receiver. I’m in love. They are SUCH a cool gift!

 

Full: How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself by Kimber Simpkins

This gorgeous memoir is written by my yoga teacher + friend Kimber Simpkins. One of the reasons I love going to her yoga class (and have for many years) is her ability to communicate so wisdom and love (body love, self-love) into her classes. This book is poignant and funny and deeply wise.

 

 

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

My friend Jill Salahub sent me this book and warned me not to read it on public transportation. She was so right! It will crush you + move you + blow your mind with its kindness and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

You’ve probably seen this book, right? SO good.

 

 

 

 

The Pocket Scavenger by Keri Smith

Another awesome book by Keri Smith. Ben has been stealing my copy and filling it out on the bus with his friends. He’s a natural scavenger!

 

 

 

All feelings are mutual

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Been finding seaglass in my pocket

For the last several weeks, I have been plagued with a question.

The following refrain has been playing over and over in my head. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual. All feelings are mutual.

I can feel the truth of it in my bones.

And yet, I can’t figure out what it means. Why is this message is coming to me now? Why does it feel so important to wrap my head around it?

And so I did something really smart –I reached out to one of the wise teachers in my world and asked. What the heck does “all feelings are mutual” mean? Turns out she was exactly the right person to ask.

Here is Karen Maezen Miller’s beautiful response below:

Dear Andrea:
How nice to hear from you. You approach me with gratitude for my words, and I respond to you with equal gratitude. That’s what it means. We all know what this means by our own experience:

If I am cranky, the world reflects my crankiness.
If I am angry, the world returns my anger.
If I am critical, the world returns my small-mindedness.
If I am non-judgmental, the world accepts me.
If I smile, someone smiles back.

And so on.

We see and receive whatever we project.

And just so we don’t feel as if we are carrying the blame for all the negativity, just observe and respect that everyone is suffering. That’s what we share most of all!

This is not a philosophy. It really works like this.

But we have to see it for ourselves and take responsibility for ourselves. If we are the least bit aware, we will be careful with what we give to the world. It will always return to us, because of the physical reality of the universe. Although it looks like we are separate, we are not. We share everything; we are like waves in an ocean. If an ocean is poisoned, every wave carries the poison, no?

I have read her message over and over to myself. I have read it out loud to a friend and to nobody in particular. And I’m just now beginning to understand it in a deep way. It feels as if spirit has been smiling down on me, whispering in my ear, and then leading me to the perfect interpreter.

With her permission, I wanted to share it with you. Does it resonate for you as well?

Thank you Karen for your generosity + wisdom. A thousand times thank you…

 

Family photo shoot by Blue Lily

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Thrilled with how the photos turned out from our Blue Lily photoshoot! Wendy + Tyler are a photographer duo who travel the world (while road-schooling their kids) taking photos. So inspired by their story + their talent! Thank you Wendy…

Unexpected kindness. And why Nico is banned from Monterey Market.

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Nico is hereby banned from our local produce store.

You know the kind. That grocery store with the small aisles and even smaller carts. The carts you can’t strap your child into because they have somehow, at only 3, gotten too big to wedge their legs into. The kind of grocery store that is always bustling with shoppers and if you are prone to anxiety, you might have to avoid altogether.

The first thing Nico does when we enter the store is sprint for the bin food. He has identified which bins hold the jelly beans and gummies and he frantically grabs as many as he possibly can before the inevitable mama shutdown happens – me, furrowed brow, scolding him and picking him up. Since the bins are only a few feet from the cashiers, I feel like I have to exaggerate my disapproval, say it loud enough so they hear it and then look at them apologetically.

As we wind our way through the store, he reaches out and nabs grapes, pears, raspberries, whatever he can get his little chubby hands on. By the end of the trip, I am left with a cart full of half-eaten fruit – a small price to pay really for keeping him walking next to me.

But the last time we went, I let him sprint off to another aisle while I paid. As I swiped my card, I nervously looked around but trusted that I would find him once I got my bags. I told myself to breathe and kept my eye in the direction of the shampoo aisle where he had darted. When I found him, he was standing with a grandmotherly type who was giving me the stink eye. “You really should watch him more closely,” she scolded. I looked down and saw that Nico had been pulling the caps off of every lip balm he could get his hands on and rubbing them all over his face.

His cheeks were glossy and moist.

I relayed this story to a friend the other day and we laughed… and I wonder why these stories can feel so painful in the moment. The shaming look in that woman’s eyes, the you-are-a-terrible-mother glare that makes you want to cry and hide and ban your child forever from going shopping with you. The kind that makes you grab your baby a bit too roughly and usher him out with a firm “NO!”

It reminds me of a story Brene Brown told about a woman whose card was declined at the gas station and when her 2 year old started crying in the carseat, she lost it and screamed at him. Ugh. We have all been there. The shame that leads to unskilled behavior…

Nico had a meltdown when we got to the sidewalk outside the market. “NO! I DON’T WANT TO WALK!” he shouted and plopped his tush down on the sidewalk. Please come Nico. I can’t carry you with all these bags…

It was getting dark.

“Do you guys need a ride?” A kind voice emerged from the car idling next to us. “I heard you talking. I’m happy to take you. But I don’t have a car seat.”

I surveyed the situation. Steep hill in front of us and a sweet older woman next to us.
Unexpected kindness.
We got in and she drove us up and over the hill. Nico was thrilled to be strapped in a simple seatbelt next to me and he beamed.

Unexpected kindness is some of the best possible medicine. And when it shows up, it’s good to say yes.

Her gesture was simple. The ride was all of 90 seconds. But it meant everything to us. Those 90 seconds of kindness were just the balm we needed.

Do you have a story of unexpected kindness? What happened?

 

 

Let’s hang out under the stars this summer!

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Andrea Scher + Laurie Wagner, your guides

With 20 other awesome women we have collected.

Our Opening the Creative Channel retreat this year was so incredible, so nourishing, we have decided to grow it into a longer, more luxurious retreat this summer in Calistoga, CA. We have booked a gorgeous retreat center in wine country for 4 luscious days of creativity, connecting, relaxing + playing.

Picture this.

  • The most delicious food you have ever eaten. (That you don’t have to cook! Hallelujah.)
  • Swimming in the pool by day + hot tub under the stars at night.
  • Wild writing + photography.
  • Storybowl.
  • Playing with paint. (You don’t need to know how)
  • Nia dancing (A joy practice disguised as a dance practice)
  • Organic mattresses + sheets (The rooms are eco-yummy. Good soaps. No tv.)
  • A new tribe of beautiful souls to make your own.

Here are the details:

When: June 8th -12th, 2014
Where: Mayacamas Ranch
What: Painting, writing, NIA dancing, swimming, story telling, hiking, hot tub under the stars, laughter around the fire pit, the most delicious food you can imagine, relaxing, creating, manifesting, sharing.
Who: The most awesome collection of women. 20 of your new favorite people!
Why: To come alive. To connect with your spirit, your joy, your voice.

Prices:

Dorm rate (limited to 6 guests): 1350-
Double rate: 1550-
Single rate: 1950-

$500 deposit secures your spot!

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There are only 12 places left (The rest were swooped up by attendees from last session)

Click the register button above to pay your deposit and claim your spot!

With love + joy,
Andrea and Laurie

P.S. The balance on your tuition will be due by February 25th, 2014. If you decide to cancel at that time, you will forfeit your deposit. Which stinks! So join us. :)

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The pool at Mayacamas

Magic 42. The softening.

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I always knew 42 would be a magic number. I’m not quite sure why, but I always knew that turning 42 would be auspicious.

Let’s start with the basics.

I have never felt so loved as I did this week. Let me rephrase that. I have never felt so receptive to the love in my life as I have this week. It’s as if every pore in my being was open. I feel supple + soft.

I have softened over the last couple of years.

Let me first give a shout out to the Zoloft. It has been exactly one year since I started taking it and my life has shifted dramatically. There is a clear before and after – life before Zoloft and life after. I still say a prayer of thanks every morning when I take that tiny blue pill. Thank you thank you thank you.

Now that the wound-up, hypervigilent, fight or flight, oh-my-god-the-world-is-way-too-stimulating, what’s-with-all-the-freaking-noise-on-the-internet, nervous system has calmed down, there is so much more space.

I can let so much more in.

The chaos of  having two boys. The loudness of their cries and whines. The tactile stimulation, the whirl of them sprinting (literally) in circles around the house. The way they dive bomb me, knocking me down in a playful wrestle whenever I kneel toward the ground.

I have the capacity to hold so much more now.

I can hold their energy + embrace their bodies. I am like a wider, heartier version of myself – grounded, arms outstretched, willing to take them in. Where before I had an aversion to their intense boy-ness, kept them (sometimes literally) at arms length, I am so grateful for this new capacity.

And with this ability to hold the bigness of their energy also came an ability to let more love in too.

And I haven’t felt that so palpably until now. This birthday. This week.

It started with an incredible storytelling event called Journeys on Wednesday with my “joy buddies” Ellen + Sherry. (We take a course called Awakening Joy together) We heard amazing stories by the creators of Life Factory and Numi tea plus one of my all time favorite storytellers – Joel Ben Izzy. Then I went to Golden Gate park and rowed a boat in Stowe Lake with my dear friend and mentor SARK. We rowed and chatted for hours… If that isn’t a perfect date, I don’t know what is!

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The amazing SARK, in our row boat in Stowe Lake

Then Matt and I laughed for hours on Saturday night at a Mortified event in Oakland. If you haven’t seen a Mortified show, get to it! Kind of like The Moth, but everything is based on the storyteller’s junior high and high school diaries. Unbelievable. Hilarious. Genius. (You can watch the trailer for their documentary here)

But I’m getting off topic.

The point is this: I am 42 years old and what I am celebrating most right now is that I have the capacity to hold so much more of all of it – the chaos and the joy. There is something my friend Brene Brown says that has always stuck with me. “You cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. When we numb those emotions, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.”

And I think it worked the same way for all of those years of post-partum anxiety. With my nervous system all whacked out, I was overstimulated by everything. I had to keep life at a distance in order to shield myself.

But over the last year, a profound softening has unfolded. An unexpected gift.

It began with saying I love you more.
Then I noticed I was allowing myself to be hugged a bit longer.
I can look into your eyes now and be with you in a more grounded way.
I can hold my kiddos big feelings and let them dissolve into me.

And as of this birthday, I can see how I am finally letting in more joy. The neuroscientist Rick Hanson teaches that when you are experiencing joy, it’s good to put your hand on your heart and say, “This is joy.” Then those particular neuro-pathways can deepen.

I have been doing that a lot this week, trying to seal all the goodness in.
This is joy. This is joy. This is joy.

 

 

 

Trash Mandala

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Me in my groove, shooting Jessica Swift, Manzanita, OR

Trash Mandala

Let your fear fumble on this sand, like the kids
who race the gulls and bobble earthward, then lose themselves
in a magic carpet of shells and leave the birds
to their flying. Let your grieving meet this
shoreline so when the tides advance, they will gift you their seaweed
in exchange for yours. Let your pain become a trash mandala
you shape into a bicycle, with bottle caps for wheels and a taillight fashioned
from a felled pacifier, and look how bright and possible the beach becomes,
even in your solitude, how the castoffs sparkle, how what’s been torn away
can still steer you through the dunes toward home.
-Poem by the incredible, Maya Stein

That is what the artist does.

The artist takes their pain and makes it into something else- a poem, a song, a painting, a trash mandala.

It’s the magic, the alchemy of creativity. It’s what makes the pain of the world a bit more bearable. The way we can turn our stories into something like gifts, sparks, beauty.

I’ve been fascinated by the fox song all week since I discovered it. It is so weird and genius and catchy. And I love that the Norwegian duo of brothers that came up with it tried to write the worst possible nonsense song and then got a fancy production company (that makes videos for Beyonce) to shoot it. It’s genius. Magic. Total trash mandala.

I want to live there more. Toes in the sand, combing for sea glass and heart rocks. Taking macro photos of sand crystals glittering in my lens. Impossibly close.

I want to be lost in a whirl of paint, of crimson on my fingers and listen to music and feeling connected — to spirit, to God, to myself. To go to that place where I feel untouchable. That place where I don’t need anyone or anything. That place where I don’t need the phone to ring or the ping of a message or food or anything at all really.

Just right in the moment.

Sometimes I forget this places is the most natural to me, most like home.

Lost in yellow ochre and phthalo turquoise.
Lost in music and shapes and color and yes and this is it.
This is all that I need.