Category Archives: Inspiration

If you think you’re too small to make a difference.

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There was a blackout a few weeks ago in Berkeley. At first I thought it was the kids playing hide and seek near the power strip again. I grumbled my way to the plugs and turned the bright red little switch back and forth. And back and forth. Except that it never lit up red.

I got concerned when I noticed that the heat lamp for our baby tortoise Woody was off. And I wondered how long he could go without heat, being cold-blooded and all. Good thing he had buried himself under a mountain of wood chips before he went to sleep!

After putting the kids to bed I considered my next move. Too dark to read, nothing to plug in to entertain me. I savored the simplicity, the permission to crawl under the covers at 8pm and surrender to doing absolutely nothing.

The next afternoon Ben asked, “Do you know what caused the blackout?” His eyes were wide and excited.
“A squirrel!” he said. “He bit through the electric wires. 45,000 people didn’t have any power. Just a tiny little squirrel did that!”
“Did he survive?” I asked.
“No. He blew up,” Ben said with a nervous grin.

I considered the squirrel. What did his squirrel friends think?

“Larry! Always getting himself into trouble.”
“I told him not to chew the wires!”
“Did you hear what happened to Larry? He went out in a blaze of glory!”

It reminds me of a quote by the Dalai Lama: 

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

And I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this. Maybe because I can feel how we are all connected. How that squirrel’s life and our own was somehow in his tiny little hands.

 

My plea to the Universe: Show me that I’m not alone.

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Photo by In Her Image Photography

There is a soft, green, velvet couch in my living room. Last year, you would have found me there each morning with my hands to my heart, chanting a prayer. Every day I said the same thing through salty tears – please show me that I’m not alone. Please show me that I’m not alone.

I wish I could tell you exactly who I pray to- I could call it God, my guides, the angels, Spirit. It doesn’t really matter. Only that it helped me to do this one small thing. It didn’t take more than a few seconds for the hair on my arms to stand up, for the tears to start falling down my cheeks. It didn’t take long to feel connected to whoever and whatever was guiding me forward. As I contemplated the unraveling of my marriage, I would say, “If I’m going to do this, I need to know you’re with me. I’m not doing it alone.”

Every once in a while I would get little messages, like the day I sobbed outside a bakery in Berkeley while chatting with a friend. Where are we going to live? What am I going to do? How am I going to make it? She listened and soothed me with kind words and when I hung up, I looked down at my boots. Right below my shoe was a tiny discarded fortune from the Chinese restaurant up the street. It said, “No need to worry! You will always have everything you need.” I gasped.

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I took off my ring on the Bart train when I was riding to my friend Laurie’s house. I was nervous, so I did it quickly and zipped it into the coin section of my wallet. I looked down at my bare hands, which seemed so conspicuous. They seemed to glow bright with emptiness. I half expected someone to say, “So, you’re not married, huh?” (Which of course, no one did.)

I shopped for rings for months, searching for something that felt like just the right weight, had just the right stone. I wanted a ring that would be like an anchor to ground me, so that I wouldn’t float away. I decided on turquoise. And when I looked up the meaning it rang true – power, protection, intuition, healing.

I could tell you about dating and what these connections have awakened in me. I could tell you about the way I inhabit my body now and how I never noticed that I didn’t before. I could tell you about the days when I didn’t think I would survive it – the dissolving of my marriage – how I would call my friend Brigette (sometimes hourly) and cry, It’s too much. I don’t think I can do it…” and she’d say, “But you are. You are doing it. This is it.”

I heard on a radio interview that if someone is traumatized (like say you are kneeling next to someone who was just in a car accident) that it’s good to say things like, “You’re alive. The worst is over. Help is coming. Help is on its way.” As opposed to, “Don’t die on me!” like they do in the movies. This is apparently the worst possible thing you can say because all the person hears is “Die! Don’t die! Die, die, die!”

And so when people say, “My god. How will you manage? Are the kids going to be okay? If my partner left me I think I would die!” I want to grab their shoulders and say, “The worst is over. I’m happy. I’m alive. Help is on its way.”

 

The strange pull of what you really love.

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“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.” -Rumi

The 2014 World Cup changed our lives.

Nico started watching with Matt, peering over his shoulder on the couch, asking about various players. Which guy is the fastest? What team is the best? Is Messi the goodest? He started playing soccer constantly. Talking about it obsessively.

He started wearing shin guards every day to school.
He wore cleats to bed.
He didn’t want us to cut his hair.
He put on his Messi uniform every day even if it was filthy.
He instructed me to write a number in Sharpie on the back of every single shirt he owned to make them “soccer shirts.” Otherwise, he refused to wear them. (I totally obliged.)

Years ago I read a story about Alfred Steiglitz, the renowned photographer from the 1930’s who was married to Georgia O’Keefe. In the article there was a photograph of Steiglitz at maybe 4 or 5 years old. He had fashioned a necklace out of a photograph and wore it around his neck.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.

When I think of my life as a treasure hunt it makes a bit more sense- the way I am always feeling my way toward the light. The way there are people and colors and joys that are like sparks for me and I remind myself that it’s okay to not know exactly where I’m going. That I can get all the way home, even if my path is only lit a few feet in front of me.

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I’ve been painting lately. Little studies here and there. Strolls through the aisles of the art store. My heart skips a beat when I smell the oil paints and see those spectrums of color on the wall. The other day, I bought a big block of cold pressed watercolor paper and lots of paint – expensive, but I didn’t care. I lay all those tiny tubes of pigment on the counter with a hunger I haven’t felt in a long time. The way the bristles feel when they brush against my palm, the way the pigment bursts on the toothy paper like a shooting star with just a drop of water. It’s a kind of bliss for me, one that I forget is available as I opt for more practical things like laundry and email.

I write this as a kind of reminder to myself and also to note that there is something about color and paint and using my hands that has everything to do with where I am going.

What is the strange pull in your life?

I heard a great interview with Maria Bello yesterday on Fresh Air. She was on track to be a women’s rights attorney when she took an acting class. She knew instantly that was what she wanted to do. She went to her friend + mentor Father Ray Jackson in tears and said, “Father, I don’t know what to do. I thought I was supposed to be of service in this world; acting seems like such a selfish profession.”

And he said the words that would set her free: “Maria, you serve best by doing the things you love most.”

What have you always loved? 

 

Wish tree in Portland

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Was delighted to find the sister tree to my wish tree in Portland, Oregon. Nicole Morantz created it after she saw mine… it thrilled me to come across hers!

Put this on repeat. Get ready for the full body chills. (Kinder by Copper Wimmin)

Push play when you need a dose of self-compassion.

Art Before Breakfast: An interview with Danny Gregory

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DANNY GREGORY is the author of seven books, including A Kiss Before You Go: an illustrated memoir of love and loss, An Illustrated Life, The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to be the Artist You Truly Are, and Everyday Matters: a memoir. Tens of thousands of creative aspirants regularly visit his weblog, www.dannygregory.com. He has created illustrations for numerous books and publications and is Managing Partner and Executive Creative Director of a global ad agency. Danny lives in Greenwich Village with his miniature long-haired dachshunds, Tim and Joe.
You can pre-order Danny’s book here!

 

Proof that kindness matters.

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When Jen Lemen and I spoke four years ago at WDS conference in Portland, Oregon we did something a little crazy. We hand wrote 500 blessings on index cards that we then taped underneath each seat in the theater. We took this job seriously, lounging on the couches at the Ace Hotel with Sharpies in hand, channeling each note with every cell of our being – What does this person need to hear? And we’d see what would come.

Turns out it takes a long time to write this many notes and throughout the weekend you could find us cosied up on our hotel room beds, on park benches across from the museum and at bars drinking cocktails late at night writing, writing… Do we really have to do all of these? I would ask Jen when I was losing steam. YES. She would say emphatically. We even enlisted some help from a couple of dear friends – Kelly Rae Roberts and Rachael Maddox – and they wrote their hearts out too.

On Sunday, at the end of our talk, we asked everyone to look under their chair for a special note written just for them. There were shouts of joy and surprise and more than a few tears… then they all rose to their feet and cheered. I think we got a standing ovation. It was an extraordinary moment.

And then. Four years later this happened.

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Through a serendipitous connection, Jackie shared the above story with me and I melted. So touched by this thread of connection between us. And then she started a thread on Facebook and other people shared their stories. My heart has been so filled up by this exchange.

It’s reminding me how much kindness matters.
How much the love we put into the world matters.
It makes me want to write love notes all day long.

More from the Facebook thread:

Nina Grenningloh Reyes: “My word was “freedom” and my note said this. Both of which I’m still working on daily. A rebel never gives up!”

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Jill Seeger Salahub: “This is a picture of it, Andrea, on my writing shrine, where I start every morning. And I don’t know if you remember, but my hand shot up at the end of your session, and I said “THIS ONE is MINE.” It absolutely was a message from the Universe. I was feeling a little out of place at WDS — it was great to meet IRL all the people I’d followed online, but I had no sense yet of exactly what I had to offer, and what I could imagine seemed so far away, almost impossible. Then I got this note, and it was absolutely the “how” I was missing — “make some space.” So I went home and did just that.”

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Sophia Habl Mitchell: “I keep mine pinned up right next to my desk. This was the final “message” I needed to leave corporate and start my own consulting biz. Four years later, my business is more successful than I thought possible.”

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Steve Errey:I still have mine taped to the back of my WDS journal, and I *love* it.”

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Angie BryantMy word was juicy. Ripe. Ready”

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Ellen Berg: “I taped mine in my journal. I realize now that the past few years have been bringing this seed to bloom. My hubby has his taped up in his office.”

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Gregory Berg:Mine is like a little beacon when I need the reminder! What a gift you gave to all of us, Andrea and Jen!”

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And finally, Mike Hrostoski’s pictured at the top of this post:
I have two since there wasn’t someone sitting next to me. They are both on my altar at home. For some reason, those two cards are some of the most valued possessions I have. Probably because that first WDS was the springboard to my current life.

Mary Magdelene’s Seven Devils by Marie Howe

Ready to put on your cape? Superhero School is here.

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I am creating a brand new life this year.

And this is the class that I most need.
This is the medicine that will get me through.
Your energy + mine weaving together. Sharing our stories and our wisdom and our discoveries.

Superhero School is kind of like Hogwarts for superheroes.

We will discover our unique superpowers + cultivate what I like to call the Universal Superpowers (courage, intuition, creativity, compassion, etc.)
We will discover our Kryptonite – what stops us from expressing who we are + being our most powerful selves.
We will grow our courage muscles + our ability to listen deeply to our intuition.

All of this of course is in service to something bigger – manifesting our desires, feeling more aliveness and joy, expressing who we truly are in the world.

I have spent that last 22 years studying with coaches, healers + spiritual teachers.
I’ve been mentored by SARK, trained at CTI, and have awakened my joy.
I’ve worked with thousands of women in my e-courses.

This program is different. It’s the deeper dive I’ve been wanting to take with my community for a long time.
This is me giving you everything I know. This is me sharing my full heart with you.
This is you + me + a beautiful community of women cultivating our superpowers together and creating lives we love.
This is each of us putting something at stake for 2015 (something that would feel like a miracle to receive) and creating it.

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Each month will be filled with:
-Audio lessons
-Discovery sheets
-Superhero missions
-Lessons from experts
Bi-weekly live calls with me!

You will discover:

  • More confidence, aliveness + inner glow
  • Your unique superpowers + how to cultivate what I call the “Universal Superpowers”
  • The power to manifest + create your life in alignment with your spirit and your desires.
  • How your intuition speaks to you and how to grow your capacity to listen and find clarity.
  • Serendipity (you will be magnetizing the people and situations that align with your deepest desires)
  • What you want, where you are headed, what you are creating.
  • Feeling connected – to yourself, to others, to your community, to your creativity
  • Your Kryptonite – what stops you from growing into the most alive expression of who you are
  • How you uniquely serve the world.

 

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$597 for this 3-month program.
The journey begins January 19th,2015

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A million invisible threads.

The view from my godparent's house, SF

The view from my godparent’s house, SF

For the first time in over a decade, I was not with my family on Thanksgiving day. Instead, I was walking in San Francisco for hours in the crisp fall sunshine, up and over hills with a dear friend I have known forever. Brigette and I acted like tourists, wandering along the Embarcadero, pit-stopping to use the bathroom at fancy hotels, taking selfies at the wharf. She would be embarrassed for me to tell you that we even stopped for lunch at Pier 39, right smack in the middle of the crazy hubbub of tourist attractions. I loved every minute of it – the creamy caesar salad we shared, the buskers painted silver pretending they were statues, the families speaking every possible language around us.

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As we walked through North Beach and over Nob hill we found a secret door. It led to an even more secret staircase and we wondered aloud what it would be like to live in the tree house apartments that lined the steep metal stairs just beyond it. We imagined that the door was a portal, like a threshold to a new world. We imagined that there were two-headed dogs that we had to fight our way past + that on the other side of that door life would never be the same.

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We eventually made our way to my very first apartment in San Francisco on Taylor Street. The one I found in 1997 – the year I started working with SARK and met Brigette. I told her the story of the channeler in Santa Barbara who taught me my first lesson in manifesting. A magical time in my life. (Audio coming for that story)

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Our last stop was Grace Cathedral where there is a gorgeous labyrinth. As I looped round and round the maze, I kept noticing an apartment building across the street. It occurred to me that my godparents lived in that building for 20 years – just a half block from my very first apartment on Taylor Street. Although I would only meet them years after I had moved, it seems we were destined to know each other. They were always close by. They were always in my orbit.

As I walked to their house near Union Square for Thanksgiving dinner, I saw something so clearly – that there is an invisible web of goodness. That there is a way that the Universe is conspiring on our behalf, that there are a million invisible threads that we can’t see but are there just the same. Sometimes, only years later do we see how everything connects, how it was all going to work out, how our lives are somehow always nudging us toward healing + wholeness.

I know this all sounds a little, something. It’s hard to find the right words.

But as I walked, I gathered up a kind of faith. Even though things are falling apart right now, I know that that web of goodness is there. I know in my bones that there is an invisible net weaving its way through my life, sending me just the right people + experiences. Loving me from afar.

There are moments when I feel like I can see it. Or at least feel its there. Maybe especially in the midst of things falling apart do I feel its presence. I feel more gratitude these days than usual. And not because of the holidays, but because I am awake to the love around me.

This is new.
And it’s possible there is nothing better.