Category Archives: Inspiration

This is what the ladies are sayin.

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Collecting Color starts again June 2nd. Please join us!

Dear Superheroes,

This is possibly the best photography class I have ever created! Spending the last few months in the practice of color collecting was a life changer for me. I promise it will permanently shift how you see your world too.

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Here’s what the ladies are saying!

“This class is a great little nudge that says: get out of your comfort zone, get out of the house, go hunting for color, go look for joy! We so often overlook the things that could make us smile every day and spark our creative self. This course is a great reminder that beauty and color surround us … sometimes you just have to look a little harder, but it is there. I will sign up again and again!”  -Allison Murray

“I love how I’m seeing ordinary things in extraordinary ways these days. All of a sudden anything and everything is a potential photo opportunity. COLOR is everywhere. I’m grateful for each lesson and what they bring out of me and my lens. I enjoy the quiet time I allow myself each day to explore. I’m amazed at how anything can be beautiful.” -Karen Iturralde

“This class has heightened my senses in the world by 100 percent. I have learned that no matter where you live, what the weather is like…color and beauty abounds if we engage actively in it. It energizes me, fills me with joy and wonder….and in turn I share it with the world via my pictures. It is a awesome way to stay connected.” -Kathleen Warner

“The treasure hunt has helped me get out of my head. That sounds funny to say, but I spend too much time worrying and stressing about things that really only happen in my head. Paying attention to the things around me and focusing on color has not only helped me see the world differently but also see MY world differently – in a more positive and vibrant way. Every time I look through the group’s photos I’m reminded of that feeling.” -Carrie Jesse

“I am now able to go out into the world and look with fresh eyes.  I see play, nature, joy, colors, and my own power and courage in the photos. I also use them as gratitude images. This practice anchors me to myself. – Katharine

“Loving the course! I’m treating it like a colorful gratitude practice. The prompts are the perfect daily nudge to help me take a closer look and be wowed by the beauty that’s absolutely everywhere. Thank you for helping me re-imagine my relationship with photography in such a yummy way.” – Lisa Bourdon

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Interview with Jennifer Lee: Building Your Business the Right Brained Way

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So thrilled to talk about this book today! Jenn has written a book for people like us! Listen in as we talk about doing business the right-brain way. Jennifer Lee has a way of making this creative entrepreneur thing feel so fun and easy. There is so much permission in this book + in this interview to be exactly who you are!

Click here to listen to the interview with Jennifer Lee + Andrea Scher

 

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Jennifer Lee is the founder of Artizen Coaching and the bestselling author of The Right-Brain Business Plan, which has helped tens of thousands of entrepreneurs around the world launch their creative businesses. She lives in the bay area and her website is the Right Brain Business Plan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole Mother’s Day enchilada

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Last night Ben gave me my mother’s day card early. He was so excited he couldn’t wait! which totally charmed me. When I gave him a big hug and thanked him, Nico started to sob. Like big, crocodile tears sob. And then he sputtered,  “BEN DIDN’T GIVE ME A MOTHER’S DAY CARD!” and sobbed some more.

“I have a surprise for you Nico!” I exclaimed and RAN to our back studio where I scribbled, Happy Mother’s Day Nico! Love, Mama on a piece of watercolor paper.
“Close your eyes and hold out your hands!” I told him.
And when I lay the card in his tiny palms he looked genuinely pleased.

And then Ben started to cry from the couch. “You didn’t give ME a Mother’s Day card and you got one for NICO!!”
Oy vey. Back to the studio.
Happy Mother’s Day Ben! Love, Mama

And when I gave him the card he looked happy for a split second and then he wrinkled his brow, “You just gave this to me because I got mad!” and started crying again.

This whole scene - comical, tragic, annoying, heartwarming, irrational, hilarious- somehow illustrates motherhood at this stage so well.

You don’t get to pick and choose. You’ve got to take the whole enchilada. The whole crazy package.

Happy Mother’s day everyone! Love, Andrea

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A Love List: What your mom really wants for Mother’s Day.

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Laurie listening to Ellen

Even though it’s a year later, I wanted to share this story again.

Last year I went to a birthday party for my dear friend Laurie. She had been going through some big life changes + we wanted to gift her something really special and from the heart. Sherry suggested we all make her a Love List.

A Love List is pretty simple.

1. Write down 10 things you love about this person.
2. Tell them what you admire about them, what you appreciate, why they inspire you.
3. Read it to them in person, over the phone, or put a stamp on it and send it off with love.

As I wrote my love list for Laurie, I was filled with gratitude. There was so much to love about her! and I felt so lucky to be counted as one of her dear ones.

She didn’t know we wrote these lists. We surprised her by reading them out loud, one by one after dinner, and watched the tears fall from her cheeks. She received each gift so beautifully… and we were all a puddle by the end. It was a gift to all of us.

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Lara and Sherry and Laurie

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Laurie and Lara

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Me reading to Laurie

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Me and Laurie

These photos + this night still move me.

And my greatest wish is that there will be more love lists made this year! It requires a teensy bit of vulnerability, but that’s what makes it all the sweeter.

P.S. To make it even easier for you, Sherry created a beautiful 10-pack of love list templates so you can create your own love lists easy peasy. Just $10 over at her shop.

 

 

How to let go.

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When I arrived at yoga the other day I saw her sitting on her mat at the front of the room.

She was young, too young, and maybe that’s where my irritation began.

Or maybe it was because she was far too skinny and I prefer a yoga teacher with a little more meat on her bones, someone who is a bit more plump with life + age. Even her voice irritated me (a bit too California) and as we stretched, I wondered if her features were too big for her otherwise pretty face. (I know, grumpy, grumpy thoughts) These harsh judgements ran through my mind like ticker tape until she suggested we sing, to repeat after her, a prayer in Sanskrit.

And this is when I woke up.

Her singing voice was nothing like her speaking voice. It was pitch perfect, so beautiful, that all of us opened our eyes and watched her. Her eyes were closed in concentration + her hands were folded into prayer at her heart. None of us repeated the words, not wanting to interrupt the perfection of her song. We were rapt.

In one of the recordings I have of Eckhart Tolle, he is asked how you drop a certain way of thinking or change a belief, and he responded, “You just drop it. Like you would a bag of groceries. You just let it go.”

And so I did.

And when she said (during a thigh-burning squat pose) “Feel the heat. That’s where the transformation happens…”
I believed her.

 

 

 

Serious color collecting happening over here.

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Spools of thread at the dry cleaners, Berkeley, CA

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Grocery crates, Berkeley, CA

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Spools of thread at the dry cleaners, Berkeley, CA

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Vivienne McMaster, Berkeley, CA

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Field trip to the dry cleaners, Berkeley, CA

This is quite possibly my favorite class I have ever created! We are just starting week 2 of the Treasure Hunt: Collecting Color e-course. If you want to jump in, you are welcome to join in!

 

How I earned my white belt in desire.

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As Ben lay his head down on the pillow, he said to me with unbridled excitement, “I can’t wait to get my white belt tomorrow!”

My immediate thought was this: He’s not getting his white belt on the first day of class! He’s going to be so disappointed when he finds this out…

“Ben, I don’t think they give out white belts the first day of class. Don’t get your hopes up, okay?” His face immediately crumbled + squished into a cry and tears pooled in his eyes. “I’m not talking to you!” he shouted. “You just ruined all my happiness!”

And this is what we do, right?

With love in our hearts, we try to protect our kids from sadness and pain. We try to shield them from what we think will hurt more – being blindsided by disappointment. It’s vulnerable to want something. Especially if we don’t know if we will get it. We would rather say to ourselves, Well, it probably won’t happen. Or, It would be nice if it happened, but I don’t really care. We get so good at protecting ourselves that often our desires never even make it to our radar.

I could see in this moment with Ben that I really was ruining his happiness. I was squashing his delight. I was telling him in some subtle way to not want what he might not be able to have. Probably because I couldn’t be with the vulnerability of it.

Could I have just let him have his excitement?

 

The next day we went to karate class. And after breaking a board in two, Ben earned his white belt. ON THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS.

And me? I earned a valuable lesson in desire. (Maybe even a white belt)

We want what we want. We will get it or we won’t.

But it takes courage to want something. It leaves us vulnerable and that’s why it feels scary.

But to desire is our birthright. And maybe even half the fun. Maybe even half the joy.

 

 

Underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.

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“What I want is to open up. I want to know what’s inside me. I want everybody to open up. I’m like an imbecile with a can-opener in his hand, wondering where to begin – to open up the earth. I know that underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.

I know it because I feel so marvelous myself most of the time. And when I feel that way everybody seems marvelous… everybody and everything… even pebbles and pieces of cardboard… a match stick lying in the gutter… anything… a goat’s beard, if you like. That’s what I want to write about… and then we’re all going to see clearly, see what a staggering, wonderful, beautiful world it is.” -Henry Miller

I have had this quote tucked away in my special cigar box for over 20 years. The cigar box is full of sacred items – old photographs of family, love notes, birth certificates… And this.

Photography is one of my ways in. It’s my superhighway into the marvelous. I see those pink petals against the fog and my heart leaps a little. I look through the viewfinder and get that zing in my belly just before the shutter goes click. Even on the hardest of days, the beauty of the world can pull me back. I can literally see the world through a different lens – one that honors the miraculous. The bright green sprig of life bursting through a crack in the sidewalk, the way the white petals fall like confetti onto the concrete, the impossibly long lashes of my boys.

Underneath the mess everything is marvelous. I’m sure of it.

For many years, gratitude practices eluded me. I didn’t feel grateful. I just felt ashamed… for all that I was blessed with and how sad I still felt.

What I was still able to do however was appreciate beauty. And this saved me. Those glittery beads of dew on the grass, the clouds I found in puddles of water, the inside of a dandelion. They saved me from being swallowed up by grief.

When we can catch glimpses into the marvelous, it is a gift. Be on the lookout today. And if you are in a place where gratitude is hard to access, see if you can find some simple beauty. For me, it was the most powerful kind of medicine.

Day-glo pink, gold + tangerine

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My painting in process

I like drawing, the feeling of the line that pours out of a wet paintbrush, black and inky.

I like day-glo pink against tangerine, with maybe a splash of turquoise, just the right shade.

I don’t like misspelled words.

I like the stars in a black sky in the country and the electric buzz of insects. I like the curve of Nico’s ear and the plumpness of his thighs.

I like extra virgin olive oil eyes and freckles sprinkled like glitter on cheeks.

I like my new pants- soft + squishy like sweats, but still stylish enough for these parts.

I like the magic hour and how the light looks just after a rain. When there are charcoal clouds in the sky and a burst of sunshine spills through. I like the streaks of pink and grey in the sky that hang over Monterey Market at night.

I like listening to (+ singing) that song from Frozen, Human, really loud in the car by myself.

I like being in the car with my boys and pulling up to our house but not turning off the radio- all of us rapt, making a silent agreement that you don’t turn off a good song even if you have arrived at your destination.

I like the ritual of vacuuming the house and setting the chairs out on Thursday mornings before writing class. I like setting out the mugs for tea, burning the sage and saying a special blessing to prepare the space.

I like painting on Wednesday nights with Mati and noticing how girly I’ve become in my art making – flowers, gold doilies, hot pink and polka dots.

I like the way I have softened over the last year, how I am learning to take in the love coming my way; how I am learning, slowly, how to allow more and more love to move through me.

 

You are beautiful.

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This sign sits on the wall next to my bathroom mirror. It’s the first thing I see when I get out of the shower in the morning and as I dry off I read those words- You are beautiful.

Sometimes a voice in me says, “Ha! Yeah, right.” Other times it makes me smile. Some days, I make a practice of trying it on. What if that were true? What about that feels true? 

When I was 9 years old, I remember my gymnastics coach telling my mother that my legs were chunky and that I needed to lose weight. (I was a competitive gymnast and was as strong + athletic as can be)

I remember a close family member calling me thunder thighs, maybe once, maybe more? And I remember the warm wash of shame that flooded my cheeks and the immediate desire to hide my legs. Like, forever. (Which I mostly did)

I remember when my best friend in high school told me about something revolutionary she discovered - If you eat too much, just throw up! and it’s like it never happened. Then she showed me exactly how to do it in the school bathroom stall. It made me feel relieved, like no matter what, there was an escape hatch. There was no mistake you couldn’t undo.

I used to think that if I was just perfect enough, I could be worthy of love.

Yours truly, photo by Sasha Wizansky

Me, La Paz, Mexico, photo by Sasha Wizansky

My body has changed since the above photo was taken 15  years ago. My washboard tummy has been replaced by something much more smooshy and mama-like. There is an extra layer of flesh that never disappeared after boy #2 and I find myself sucking it in for photos. I even suck it in for myself in the mirror! (How funny to deny my new reality even to myself)

And then there are the disappearing boobs. The ones that were once perky little scoops (a term my friend and I affectionately coined upon discovering we were boob twins) and now are, well, slightly melted scoops.

But here’s the irony.

Those words – you are beautiful- have never felt more true.

How is that even possible? How can I be feeling beautiful for the first time in my life?

At the beginning of last year I had a remarkable angel reading with Laurel Bleadon-Maffei. She shared a lot of wisdom with me, but the thing that stuck was when she said this – If you want something new to come through you, you have to stop looking back at what you’ve done in the past. If you could take the next 6 months as a kind of sabbatical, I would suggest that, although I know that might not feel realistic on this plane. But think of the next 6 months as such – Daydream. Walk in the woods. Sit at the beach. Allow the next thing to find you. What is it that you want to bring to the world? Let your higher self and your knowing speak to you.

For me, this was an entirely new approach to creativity. And it required a kind of trust I wasn’t so sure about. Really? Walk in the woods for the next 6 months? Daydreaming sounded so flaky. The part of me that tends toward Type A felt threatened- everyone is going to get ahead of me! I’m going to fade into obscurity! I’m not going to make any money! I’m going to WASTE. SO. MUCH. TIME.

But here’s what I discovered. Walking in the woods allowed the words to come when I sat at my desk. Going to yoga class made space for great ideas to find me while I relaxed in savasana at the end. Having coffee with friends sparked inspiration + helped me shape my fledgling ideas. Having little adventures made space for delight, rejuvenation + fun stories to share.

There is a way that putting a little yin in my yang helped my creativity find me. I didn’t have to pursue it so much as be awake + alive + ready to receive. It also made space for a deeper knowing to come through. It felt like a distinctly feminine approach to creativity.

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Putting a little yin in my yang helped me to integrate my feminine. I learned to embrace my softer side. The part of me that wants to wear pink. The part that is willing to be vulnerable. The part of me that can hold things with so much more compassion.

It’s compassion that has helped me embrace my imperfect, very  human self. It’s compassion that has turned me from feeling unlovable (broken, damaged goods) into something beautiful + cracked + holy.

Self-compassion (and the wisdom of age) has allowed me to see my own beauty. Not the perfect, magazine kind of beauty, but the real kind. The kind that stays with you a lifetime. The kind that is your essence. Your magic.

 

*In honor of Susannah Conway’s birthday a collection of us have come together to talk about aging in empowering and beautiful ways. So honored to be part of it!