Category Archives: Inspiration

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.

Don’t yuck my yum.

“Don’t yuck my yum!”

I told him this in the middle of our first Rummikub game. I had found an old set at a garage sale – the original kind from the 70’s like my grandparents used to have. I still love how the tiles feel in my hands, kind of like mah jong tiles but with numbers instead. It’s always been my favorite game.

“It’s stupid. Boring.” One of my children (who happened to not be winning at that point in the game) grumbled.

“Hey,” I said, “this game is meaningful to me. I loved it as a kid. I was excited to share it with you. It actually hurts my feelings when you say you hate it.”

“I like it!” the other one chimes in, trying to make the peace.

Maybe I shouldn’t have taken it so personally. He was tired. He likes to win (who doesn’t?) He’s just a kid after all. But it’s funny how when people yuck our yum it can hit us in an emotional place.

I had some fantasies about parenthood involving my kids painting, cooking and doing crafts with me. But alas, they would prefer to throw a football around, trade Pokemon cards or play video games. Not being a fan of any of these things, I probably yuck their yum too.

We want people to love what we love. Our joy is amplified when we share it. I think that’s why it feels so personal – like a rejection of some intimate part of ourselves.

But here’s the thing: The more we learn about something, the more curious we get about it. The more we know, the more we realize what we don’t know… and that’s where things get interesting.

This happened recently with the concept of Wabi Sabi. I thought I knew what it was – an honoring and celebration of the imperfect. You know, like the crack in the bowl and the gold filling in the cracks. But as I read Beth Kempton’s new book about wabi sabi (and interviewed her for the podcast) I started to understand how layered and complex it is. SO much more interesting and textured than I knew! In fact, it’s so complex (and woven into the fabric of Japanese culture) that even Japanese people have a hard time putting words to this concept.

There is a joy in discovering where our minds have been closed – shut down to things because we think we know… and dismissed out of hand. Football, for example. Honestly, I know very little about the game. I bet if I learned more about it, actually paid attention, (without glazing over) I might get more curious + even more interested.

Today, the invitation is to consider some of the things we’ve closed ourselves off to. Maybe something our partner loves that we scoff at? Karaoke, poker, jogging, that show on Netflix about desserts? It could be anything, really.

How would life be sweeter and more rich if we got curious?

P.S. I have 2 spots left in the project mastermind. (Starting September 7th) If you have a project you want to get done before the end of the year, this intimate coaching group will be great support! Just $350 for six weeks of group coaching.

“Andrea has a secret superpower.  It is the ability to take your tangled, disjointed, messy, rambling ideas and thoughts and give them back to you. Whole, clear, ordered and clean. Delivered in safety, with compassion and warmth.  If you are lucky enough to be a part of a mastermind group with Andrea, please don’t think about it too much, jump in and watch your dream blossom.” -Elizabeth

“I’ve been a fan of Andrea’s work for nearly two decades and have mostly admired her talents from afar. In the mastermind course I discovered yet another gift she possesses: community-building for creativity & productivity, creating a warm, supportive, and fun context to empower folks to set & achieve their goals. In a matter of minutes, we were transformed from mere strangers to advocates invested in helping each other succeed. I can’t wait to participate again.” -Kristin

“This is truly a life-changing experience, a chance for dreams to come to life, to take shape and form, and to come into concrete reality.  I can’t say enough how this Project Mastermind and Andrea’s creative coaching bring life and joy and possibility!” – Chris

 

 

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

Fridays for 6 weeks: 9/7, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19
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.