Category Archives: Inspiration

Do you have a secret project in you?

We all have secret dreams. Secret little (or big!) projects that no one is waiting for, that we wonder if we are crazy to imagine, that we talk ourselves out of on the regular.

It’s that book that’s been stirring in your heart, that blog you’ve been wanting to be faithful to, the podcast idea, the e-course, the paintings you want to make into greeting cards…

What is your secret project?

Maybe you haven’t even spoken it aloud.
Maybe you initially shared it with the wrong person!
Maybe you need a safe place to get the nurturing, support and love that project needs. Maybe you just have no idea how to begin!

Earlier this year, I started a tiny project mastermind or a group of totally delightful creative women. We all have different projects (myself included!) + we met on video every week to check in, to share, to break through the stuck places, to celebrate. It was the best part of my week.

That group will be continuing! But I’d like to create a new circle + include YOU as well.

Sessions begin Friday, September 7th, 2018 at 10am PST

Every Friday for 6 weeks: 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12
Time: 10am -11:15pm PST
Investment: $350-

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not so much a course as a way to get support + accountability and advice around our respective projects – ie. blogs, books, podcasts, e-courses. We will do some writing together + sharing.

I want us to have a space to create MOVEMENT and flow around whatever little seed of a dream is stirring in our hearts. To not wait. To be supported in beginning and have a place to keep celebrating the process and encouragement to keep going. Still sound good?

If so, click the link below:

Big hugs + love to each of you,
A
P.S. Not sure I mentioned, but these masterminds are tiny… 3-5 women in each pod with me. You will get a lot of coaching + attention + clarity for your project. These spots will likely go fast! So let me know if you have any questions…

This is how it turned out.

It’s tempting to be in fantasy about someday. That fuzzy, happy-ever-after when you get the job, the romantic partner, the family. The bank account is full of dough, the house is just right, you are slim and trim + know how to pick perfect avocados.

You know, when things finally turn out.

Even though my Disney fantasies of partnership and marriage have pretty well broken down, I still have some version of this someday fantasy in me. When I finally feel loved and seen, when I feel safe, when I can stand on solid ground and this ambient anxiety will go away, when my person, my true love arrives.

I still harbor the tiniest bit of hope for that.

And yet.

I do a little thought experiment sometimes and ask myself, “If you knew you were going to die in five years, then what?” Suddenly everything comes into focus – the life I actually have, the house I live in, my gorgeous kids, the relationships and friendships and love around me – THIS is how it turned out. This is that someday. The someday I fantasized about decades ago!

This is it.
It’s not perfect.
It’s ever-changing.
There are highs and lows.
But THIS is how it is.

Lao Tzu says it so beautifully below. (He wrote this poem in the 6th century. Apparently, we haven’t changed much!)

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
Abide at the center of your being.
— Lao Tzu

This is how it turned out: Me, typing in my friend’s living room in Oakland, the sun shining outside, heading to San Francisco for a photo session later. My kids, at their dad’s house, safe, going for a swim at the rec center this afternoon.

If your this-is-how-it-turned-out reality today feels too harsh, here’s another buddhist saying that gets right to the point: Right now, it’s like this.

This one is great to practice with because it is an invitation back into the present moment. It honors the impermanence of things (our ever-changing reality) and also that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).

How do we have our desire for things to be better/different and also honor what is?

That’s the million dollar question. And it takes practice! Lao Tzu instructs us to abide at the center of our being, which is to say, speak and act in alignment with your true self, your heart, your inner wisdom… this is the path that will get you where you need to go.

 

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!

Tooting our own horn + the concept of mudita*

One of my favorite words in the world is mudita… It is a Sanskrit word that means sympathetic joy or vicarious joy.

It’s the genuine pleasure we get from celebrating others.
It’s the deep joy we experience when someone we love is happy.
It’s the vicarious joy that arises when someone shares about something great in their life.

As an example, imagine a big fluffy dog that just arrives at the beach. Can you imagine the glee with which they run toward the water and all over the sand? Did the mere thought just bring a smile to your face? This is mudita. Isn’t it wonderful?

Recently, a friend prefaced her share with, “Not to toot my own horn but…” and then went on to talk about something totally wonderful that happened to her! We have grown up thinking that it’s impolite to share about our successes and victories. Women especially. We feel that we need to dim down, not get too big for our britches, not brag... or people won’t like us.

This might keep us safe, but it also keeps us small.

This is one of my biggest core wounds. You know how it goes. My two best friends turning against me in grade school very suddenly in a one-day-you’re-in-the-next-day-you’re-out kind of abruptness. Without any explanation, I was left to come up with my own – Don’t shine too bright or people will hate you. They will turn against you. Stay small.

Ugh. It’s hard to write these words. My inner critic is having a field day – Are we not over this yet???!! That happened in the 5th grade! Are we still talking about this??

Apparently we are. Ha!

But back to mudita. Cultivating mudita is a buddhist practice… it grows our compassion, it opens our hearts, it leads to wisdom.

I actually love it when people toot their own horn. They/you should do it more often. I want everyone to toot away! I want you to toot right now. Let’s create a culture of mudita where we delight in each other’s happiness. Where we celebrate each other’s success. Where your joy is my joy and your success is mine too. Let’s inspire each other + lift each other up, shall we?

Tell me, what small or large thing are you celebrating right now? What are you proud of?

I’ll start. One of my photographs was in a fancy pants magazine this month!! Lapham’s Quarterly!

I’m also very proud of my most recent work in black + white. I’ve been breaking some new ground with my portrait sessions and feeling excited and inspired! Toot! 🙂

What are you proud of friends? Could be anything – personal or professional. It all counts.

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.

 

What does it cost us when we hide?

I got quiet over the last several years. Separation, divorce, dating… suddenly my stories were not just my own but intertwined with others in very real ways. I wasn’t sure what I could share anymore. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Everything felt too private + I was afraid of being judged. Aside from my weekly writing group, I stopped writing entirely.

This has been a huge loss to my spirit.

There’s a price we pay when we hide, when we cut off our voices, when we stop sharing our truth (even to ourselves). My joy has suffered for it.

I did this most of my life. Kept my opinions to myself, only said what I thought others wanted to hear, was polite and didn’t make waves. It’s a good survival strategy – one that can keep you safe. And for a long time, that’s all I really wanted.

It was through art that I finally found my voice again. I painted and made jewelry and took photographs and it was joyous to find this other language for my heart to speak. With visual art, no one could tell me I was wrong or silence me… it was just my expression. A language all my own.

Writing has been a different edge. It takes much bigger courage for me to share this way, especially when I am out of practice. But I am coming out of hiding! Peeking my head out of the covers because I know my spirit is hungry for it. Starved for it in fact.

What does it cost us when we trade our truth/our voice/our creative expression for safety?

Aliveness, connection, joy.

For me, it also means feeling alone in the world. Not lonely exactly, but alone in my experiences. All those years of sharing so openly with my community here reminded me that we are all suffering in similar ways. We all hunger for the same things. We all want to feel seen. We all want to feel connected to each other.

It takes courage to lay the words down, to share our art, to push publish. Our ego will try to shut it down – This is crap. What can you possibly say that hasn’t been said? No one’s going to read it anyway.

And yet. The impulse is still there. The hunger to connect, to share what’s in our hearts, to be of service in some small way. The hope that if one person is touched, it will be worth it.

So here I am, sharing the tiniest window into my heart. Baby steps. Inviting you to stick with me for a while and create this gorgeous little community anew.

And because I always like to offer a question back to you: Can you think of a time when you were hiding? What happened? What did it cost you?

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.

 

Some of my favorite podcast episodes from 2017.

Today I am celebrating that I created a podcast this year! The Creative Superheroes Podcast.

It’s seriously the best gig around – sitting down for tea with some of the most interesting, creative and delightful people in the world. The episodes above are some of my personal favorites…

Just click on one of the graphics above to get to the episode.

Enjoy!

xo Andrea

You’re gonna make it after all.

Yesterday, my friend Laurel and I taught a daylong manifesting workshop. The space was filled with really incredible women and we ushered them through a process of letting go of their 2017 (at times with tears for how hard this year was for so many of us) and welcoming and visioning 2018.

Because I co-led with Laurel (who is an angel practitioner) we also held an angel circle. This means that Laurel embodies a tribe of angels – Josephus and the Wisdom Council – and they speak through her. As she spoke, I realized that I had never actually witnessed Laurel (or anyone else) channel. All of my sessions with her (and there have been many!) have been on the phone, so it was such a treat to see her do her work in person. With her eyes closed, she fielded questions from participants and offered wise advice and energy clearing for all of us.

Most importantly (and what I love most about circles of women) is that the personal is almost always the universal. A question from an individual is a question for the collective. There wasn’t anything that someone asked that didn’t somehow feel relatable to my own life…

This morning, still filled with all that good energy from yesterday, I went on a little hike. I was listening to music (on random shuffle) as I walked and decided to ask the angels for some guidance. “Okay angel friends! Can you have the next song that comes on be a special message from you to me?”

At first I didn’t recognize the song that came on, but I started listening to the words.

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

It started to sound familiar, something from my childhood… Could it be? Oh my goodness, it is! It’s from the Mary Tyler Moore show! I laughed. How in god’s name did this get on my phone??? And then I listened to the words.

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone
This was the PRECISE anxiety I woke up with. A little electric current of fear: “Oh my goodness, I just bought a car. Will I be able to make payments and rent? Will I be able to take care of my kids? Oh my god oh my god, can I pull of this single mom thing??”
Your are most likely to succeed
You have the looks and charms
And girl you know that’s all you need
All the men around adore you
That sexy look will do wonders for you
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have the town, why don’t you take it?
You might just make it after all
You’re gonna make it after all
So yeah, the part about the looks and charm and sexiness is a little outdated (ha!) but the sentiment was so good it made me smile. Love is all around, no need to waste it! You can have a town, why don’t you take it? You’re gonna make it after all!

I felt like cheering or doing that Mary Tyler Moore hat-in-the-air toss as she arrives at her apartment building. Whether it was in fact the angels speaking to me or not didn’t matter. I had gotten my message. The one I most needed to hear today.

Want to try it? Do a little meditation where you ask the angels/Spirit/God/your higher self/your intuition for a secret message. Then randomly play a song and listen to the words.

What is your secret message in song?