Category Archives: Inspiration

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

Things to remember.

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Handful of seaglass, Baker Beach, SF

Don’t miss this. Pay attention. Wake up. Be kind and gentle.

The world is a manifestation of your beliefs, so believe good things. Things that empower you. Things that delight you. Stay in the light.

People will die. Remember this, but don’t let it paralyze you. Let this allow you to pick up the phone, even when you don’t want to. To put down your armor. To say I love you more.

Write thank-you notes by hand. The kind they will tuck into their wallet and will pull out years later. The paper will feel soft like fabric and their heart will swell. Except you won’t know this.

When you can, let people ahead of you in traffic. It’s kind and it will make you feel good + generous. It will make you feel powerful, that you could give this one good thing. So go ahead. Let them in.

Tell the truth. And by truth, I mean the messy kind. Like a few months ago when you were crying on the couch feeling lonely, tender, disconnected. And you shouted from the couch, “I need you to love me right now!” and it was the hardest thing + the truest thing you had said in a long time and you cried and cried as he rubbed your back.

Things to remember.

Eat cake when you go to a birthday party. I don’t care what kind of cleanse you’re on.

Learn the what-does-the-fox-say dance and dress up like one of the foxy fly girls for Halloween. Or the Thriller dance or the Cup Song. Learn something that’s been on your mental list – ukulele, italian, how to make kombucha – it doesn’t matter. Just keep learning.

Lay down next to Ben before he falls asleep. Take in his messy boy scent. Notice how he wraps all of his limbs around you in a kind of choke hold, but enjoy it because it won’t last forever.

All of this. It won’t last forever.

What’s on your list of things to remember?

 

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.

 

Interview with Lisa Byrne about Self-Care for Mamas.

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Self-care isn’t just bubble baths + mani-pedis.

Listen in as I chat with Lisa Byrne about self care for mamas. The real kind. The practice of self-care. Enjoy!

“How do I craft my life so I can show up in the best ways possible? It’s a practice. And what I mean by a practice, is that it’s something that you keep showing up to. By showing up to it, it’s actually changing who you are becoming.” Lisa Byrne

Click here to listen to the interview

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Lisa Grace Byrne is a mother to three and founder of WellGroundedLife.com.  She has a big-hearted vision of a world where every mom is well-equipped to do the tremendous work of mothering from a healthy, whole and supported place.

She is the author of Replenish: Experience Radiant Calm and True Vitality in Your Everyday Life.  Lisa also speaks, coaches and teaches moms worldwide through her online courses and workshops.

Lisa has a degree from Cal Poly State University in Biochemistry with an emphasis in Nutrition and Metabolism. She holds a Masters in Public Health from Boston University and is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor.

She lives in New Jersey with her husband, children and 100 pound yellow lab.

My money memoir

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Dear Superheroes,

I’ve just bared my soul about something tremendously personal: money!

It’s part of the Money Memoirs Series: a free, month-long gathering for healing and truth-telling about money, hosted by my dear friend and colleague, Bari Tessler Linden. Bari is a financial therapist who leads a year-long global money school, The Art of Money.

For the entire month of October, Bari has invited some of her favorite people to share the tender truth about their own money stories. We’re bringing our money stories out into the light. To spread a message of healing, un-shaming, and love, and to create a sacred doorway into the opening of her year long Art of Money program, which will happen in the middle of the Money Memoirs month.

Click through to Bari’s blog to hear my Money Memoir: my triumphs and challenges, how money has affected my relationships and career, and what I’ve learned from it all.

I hope hearing my story will inspire your own honest and loving un-shaming about money. And, I hope you’ll join me in celebrating everyone who shares their stories with Bari, the entire month of October. Please join us for this intimate gathering as we bring healing, humanity, and empowerment to our money relationships. Click right this way to hear my Money Memoir.

When did you get the call to service?

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She handed me the note at recess.

I was 10 years old, a tiny wisp of a 5th grader. She was quiet and bookish, friendly, but with few friends.

I read the note when I got to class and felt sick – she told me that she had to reach out to somebody, that I seemed like the right person to reach out to, that I might understand. She told me that her father was abusing her. That she didn’t know what to do.

I crumpled up the note and threw it in the bottom of my backpack. I wanted it as far away from me as possible. I was angry, confused, horrified -Why are you giving me this?? I thought. I never spoke to her about it and was afraid to look her in the eyes again. I didn’t want to be the keeper of her secret.

I remembered this story last year when I attended a workshop with Rachel Naomi Remen called A Life of Service. Most of the folks in the room were medical professionals, nurses, social workers and the like.

“When did you get the call to service?” she asked.

For some, it was when they were five years old and a friend killed a beetle right in front of their eyes while they looked on in horror. For others, it was when they saw someone suffer in their lives, or discovered an injustice.

For me, it was this moment in the 5th grade.
This moment of turning my back.
This moment of not being ready to face my own darkness.

This memory has haunted me, but it has also guided the course of my life, precisely because I didn’t do the right thing.

She sensed she could trust me, that I was the right person, that I was a safe person to tell.

And she was right. I was exactly the right person. I just wasn’t ready yet.

At our 20 year reunion (years ago now) I wanted to reach out to her so badly. She arrived with an infant strapped to her body and she positively glowed. She was beautiful, confident, 3 kids in tow and a handsome, kind husband. I wanted to whisk her to the side and say, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I turned my back on you. But I was getting sick that night and I was afraid to get too close to the baby and all that I could eek out was a hello…

In my work now, I see my fierce commitment to sharing the truth, to being vulnerable and telling our stories. I wish I could go back and tell her, Yes, yes, me too. And maybe neither of us would have felt alone.

But this is not a story of regret.

It’s a story of gratitude- for I have spent my life becoming the person she sensed I was all those years ago.

 

The best thing I did all year.

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I wish to come alive again, at the wish tree

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I wish there was no guns, at the wish tree

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I wish this tree would stay forever and everybody would cared about it.

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I wish my parents lived in the same house happily forever

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The wish tree, Berkeley, CA

Earlier this year, we made a wish tree in front of our house. It was my foolish project - something I had always wanted to do, simply for the delight of making something with my hands and bringing something generous + kind to my community.

Little did I know it would the very best thing I did all year.

Little did I know it would be a source of daily joy.
Little did I know that the local high school students would stop by + hang their wishes.
Little did I know that reading these little pieces of paper would open my heart + allow me to feel the sweetest kind of connection.

When we meet a new neighbor these days and they ask where we live, we proudly say, “Over there by the wish tree!” And they always get excited. Recently, when we met a new family, they gasped. That’s yours? The wish tree was the first thing we saw when we moved to the neighborhood! It made us feel like we were home.

Wanna know something kinda strange + poetic?

The tree that all the wishes hang from is a lemon tree. It’s beautiful, but the lemons are inedible. Sour , bitter, lumpy.

But I love the poetry of this – the bitter lemon tree that has been fashioned into a wish tree. The bitter tree that is bringing people hope + delight + a moment of reflection and connection.

The other day I saw a teenage boy carrying a skateboard walk up to my door. He left something on the stoop and I immediately grumbled, I’m sick of those pizza joints leaving their menus on my steps! I ran out to see what he left and my heart immediately melted:

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Start a Foolish Project starts Monday, October 7th

If you feel inspired to create something simply for the delight (yours + others) join me for Start a Foolish Project!

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We will each be choosing a project that puts a spring in our step. It could be anything from:

  • A wish tree
  • A community dinner
  • A neighborhood water balloon fight
  • Learning to play the ukulele
  • Hosting a Storybowl
  • to a Bubble flash mob

Foolish projects make us come alive

Let me help you discover YOUR foolish project + give you inspiration and encouragement as you create it. Join me on October 7thfor this 4 week e-course.

“Andrea’s superpower is helping you find yours!  I didn’t expect the flurry of ideas that came from this experience… and I especially didn’t expect to get such clarity around what i want to create in my life.” -Denese

More details here. Or you can register here.

Do you wish to come alive again?

A free video series by SARK. Don’t miss it!

A photo I took of SARK a while back, Palace of Fine Arts, SF

A photo I took of SARK a while back, Palace of Fine Arts, SF

One of my favorite humans in the world, SARK, just launched a transformational video series! It’s free, and it will inspire you deeply.

As many of you know, SARK has been my mentor and friend for over 15 years. I adore her + her work and I call her my creative fairy-godmother. From reading her first books and hearing her whimsical stories, my heart exploded with a big YES. It set me on a creative journey that will last my entire life.

Because I worked with SARK for so many years, I tend to think I know everything about her. But one of the things that inspires me most is that she is always evolving and growing, both in her personal life and her creative life.

A conversation with SARK lights a permanent firecracker in your heart.

Watch this video series and you’ll see what I mean.

Me and SARK in Berkeley, CA

Me and SARK in Berkeley, CA