August 20, 2009

on finding your sparkle again*

kelly_rae_andrea_pony.jpg
Me and Kelly Rae doing the pony, Manzanita, Oregon, photo by Jen Lee,Canon Digital Rebel XSi

I got my sparkle back in Manzanita, Oregon.

Every year I spend a week on the Oregon coast with some very dear friends in my creative community. We rent a house on the beach, we cook, we dance, we make art. We call it Lovebomb.

It is an extraordinary group of women from all over the country. We are all artists. We are mostly bloggers. We are all different, but share a few important things in common: A commitment to authenticity, growth, and telling our stories. We are all on a journey toward a deep knowing of who we are, of recognizing our gifts, of bringing our own special kind of medicine to the world.

The first year we met was last year and we were a little unsure. Many of us didn’t know each other and we arrived with our worries as well as a lot of hope and faith in our hearts. Throw 13 women in the same room and your 7th grade stuff is bound to come up, right? Are they going to like me? Do I have anything to offer? They’re all so pretty. Do I even belong here?

But there is a culture of kindness, generosity, and support that is paramount in this circle. We really, really adore and respect each other. That said, it was still a vulnerable act for each of us to come. This year was like a big exhale. We didn’t bring lots of gifts, we didn’t talk about work, we didn’t have to prove anything or being anything special. We just brought ourselves and some really good chocolate.

Maybe it was the singing along really loud to Lionel Richie, or the gin and tonics I had on Saturday night. Or maybe it happened while Kelly Rae and I did the pony dance (slapping our own behinds) and the running man in the living room. Maybe it was all the love and friendship in the room. But there were moments when I felt like I was really, truly coming alive, waking up pieces of myself that have been alseep for a very long time.

I laughed a lot. I cracked myself up. I felt like me.

kelly_andrea_running_man.jpg
Kelly Rae and me doing the running man, Manzanita, Oregon, photo by Jen Lee, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

I called Matt that night and gushed to him into the phone. “Matt, I’m having so much fun, and I’m being so funny.” I could feel his smile on the other end of the line. “You deserve every bit of that fun!” While still in Oregon, I got a call from an old friend and excitedly told her how much fun I was having too. “When was the last time I was lighthearted?” She didn’t skip a beat. “Since right before you went through infertility.”

That was five years ago.

We have probably all heard about Jill Bolte Taylor and her Stroke of Insight, right? I have thought of her work and story a lot and how she says that different thoughts create grooves in our mind. The more we think those same thoughts, the deeper the grooves become. After her stroke, she was able to consciously choose which thoughts she wanted to put back in the mix. If they didn’t make her feel good, they didn’t make the cut. She encourages us to do the same. Certain thoughts and ways of being are habit and we can choose to reinforce them or not.

This weekend awakened visceral memories for me of times when I felt truly happy, truly alive, light and free. It was like I was awakening those synapses again and inviting them to fire away. We want more of you! Welcome to my world! I feel more balanced as a result. My intensity is still there, my uptightness, my attraction to the dark, but I feel as if I widened my range to include more joy and laughter too. It has been profound and healing.

There is more to share and lots more photos, but I will begin here, in case anyone else is in needing of finding a lost sparkle. If I had known I had lost it, I would have prayed for it. If I had known where to find it, I would have hightailed it there fast. Sometimes it sneaks up on you though, in the midst of shaking your booty to a song called Low, in the most raucous kind of fun.

lovebomb_group.jpg

P.S. If you are inspired by this idea and longing for a community for yourself, I encourage you to extend an invitation to some people in your circle. You can start small and see where it goes... All you need are a few like-minded souls who are hungry to connect, support and celebrate with you. It really is magic.

It could be anything from a meetup in your city to a full on travel adventure. Like Kelly Rae said on her blog today, sometimes we need to create the kind of times we're longing for. For any of you taking the Mondo Beyondo course, this might be a great Mondo Beyondo dream to put on your list!

Posted on August 20, 2009 01:09 PM
Comments

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Posted by: Linda at November 30, 2009 10:35 AM

It was certainly interesting for me to read this post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Posted by: Escorts at November 17, 2009 06:52 AM

Nice article you got here. I'd like to read a bit more concerning that topic.

Posted by: PhillDoc at October 21, 2009 12:47 PM

You are all so vibrant! I have to admit, I felt a bit of an ache reading the post. I long for those kinds of relationships and to feel a sense of myself again. I have friends but they are all so serious-so absorbed in bigger and better-but I am grateful for my daughter who can bring me back to center. She is the best dance partner!

Posted by: Susan at August 28, 2009 06:16 AM

*SO* beautiful!

What an inspiration!

Thank you ALL for shining your bright lights for us to see ~ and creating such a great, supportive community for each other.

This post made me SMILE :-D

Posted by: Lisa at August 27, 2009 12:21 PM

I"d love to hear you blog more about how to forge these relationships...most of the people in my life don't realize the power of female friendships, don't really want to connect and just want to be with their husbands and kids. There has to be more to life...there has to be more people out there that are deeper--where are they? How do I find them?

Enough questions, Andrea?:) Glad you had fun!!

Posted by: Kristen Fischer at August 27, 2009 10:03 AM

you know, I just got my down to the bone smile back...a year and a half after taking a break from a 8-yr long stint w/infertility. I didn't realize how much I didn't have it until I felt the energy return. And now...I"m throwing myself back into it! wish me luck!

Posted by: Andrea at August 26, 2009 04:56 PM

i am so inspired. and this picture is beautiful. all of your souls are so radiant :)

Posted by: amy at August 26, 2009 09:39 AM

Oh, I love this so much. What a great reminder of the power of female friendship and support, and of silliness, of course. Sometimes, when you are in the right mood and you expect the best, it happens.
Thanks for reminding me about the groove, too.

Posted by: Samantha at August 24, 2009 01:30 PM

Oh, I love this so much. What a great reminder of the power of female friendship and support, and of silliness, of course. Sometimes, when you are in the right mood and you expect the best, it happens.
Thanks for reminding me about the groove, too.

Posted by: Samantha at August 24, 2009 01:29 PM

Community, tribe, sisters. These are all words that every one of us needs to know better, how wonderful that you can connect on such a level together. I think every woman could use that kind of support in life. Here is to it!

Posted by: Val at August 23, 2009 05:37 PM

Having a difficult week with my business that I love because it gives me the opportunity to be creative and get paid for it. Thought to myself "I'll go check out Andrea's blog and maybe I'll find a little insight... its happened before.

At first I was only struck with pangs of jealousy. What I would give for a girls retreat! It's what I really need! I know my artist friends across the country would love to, though they wont commit to doing it. Now even more frustrated, I read on. Though I would go see what this "Stroke of Insight" was because I hadnt heard of it. It brought me to tears and reconnected me to something I had forgotten. So grateful you included that little tidbit for me to find.

Posted by: monique at August 23, 2009 12:48 PM

I can so relate that I had tears in my eyes as I was reading your post. There is something so healing to the soul to be around sweet, creative, like minded women! So glad that your time brought pure joy!!!

Posted by: jeanne at August 22, 2009 07:08 AM

I can so relate that I had tears in my eyes as I was reading your post. There is something so healing to the soul to be around sweet, creative, like minded women! So glad that your time brought pure joy!!!

Posted by: jeanne at August 22, 2009 07:08 AM

I can so relate that I had tears in my eyes as I was reading your post. Their is something so healing to the soul to be around sweet, creative, like minded women! So glad that your time brought pure joy!!!

Posted by: jeanne at August 22, 2009 07:08 AM

reading with full heart and full on smile. and of course, because it is you and you always give, a full on idea springing forth.

i love that you found it, that spark. it looks good on you. keep it now, right? keep it and share it and play with it....it is yours again. hug.

Posted by: mamie at August 21, 2009 08:53 PM

That second photo of you doing the running man is hysterical. Freaking hysterical!
You gals are a radiant bunch... Yay for good times!

Posted by: Cath at August 21, 2009 05:32 PM

I SOOOOOOOOOOO need to find my sparkle... didn't start out with one, found it, then lost it somehow again through carelessness and now I am ready to look for it and hope to find it. MONDO BEYONDO here I come...

Posted by: Mel at August 21, 2009 02:07 PM

It's about time Andrea...when the babes get about this age, you start remembering yourself. It only gets stronger from here, so enjoy. It's the journey of ever mama.

It's so funny, after so many years reading blogs etc. I know just know most of the women in that photo you posted of the group. I'm rather jealous of this sharing you get with these kinds of women.

So glad you enjoyed yourself.

Posted by: amy j. at August 21, 2009 01:25 PM

It's about time Andrea...when the babes get about this age, you start remembering yourself. It only gets stronger from here, so enjoy. It's the journey of ever mama.

It's so funny, after so many years reading blogs etc. I know just know most of the women in that photo you posted of the group. I'm rather jealous of this sharing you get with these kinds of women.

So glad you enjoyed yourself.

Posted by: amy j. at August 21, 2009 01:25 PM

I love this - both your honesty and your unfettered joy in meeting with these women. So glad you have them. We all need lovebombs in our lives.

Thanks for reminding me that sometimes the sparkle is just there, waiting for us to find it.

Posted by: Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams at August 21, 2009 01:08 PM

What I love is that your second paragraph starts, "Every year I spend" and the fourth paragraph begins "The first year we met was last year." My first observation is that you must be Episcopalian because - if you've done something more than once - well, it's always been that way (and always will be).

I love the joy I am reading in all of your blogs. Such joy gained from a group of female fiends is more valuable than anything.

I'm just smiling a lot because there are kind, caring, talented women who are not competing against each other and building and holding each other up! THAT is a beautiful thing!

Thank you for sharing.

Posted by: Ali at August 21, 2009 12:59 PM

It was so delightful to meet you, Kelly Rae, and Jen in person on Saturday - I felt like a 7th grader just saying hi!

I am very much enjoying reading about your time together finding magic, joy, and yourselves in the graceful shadow of Neahkahnie Mountain.

Here's to sparkling!

Posted by: Denise at August 21, 2009 11:57 AM

Wow! What an inspiring group to be surrounded by and loved by. We all need this in our lives. Sparkle on!!!

Posted by: Kyra at August 21, 2009 11:35 AM

A tiny group of my friends took a very short trip to the woods here in CA about a year and a half ago, and I've been obsessed with the idea of doing a longer cabin-in-the-woods-retreat with them (and more of us) ever since. I've been scouting out cabins like mad, waiting for the right time. Talk of Squam and your retreat in Oregon have only confirmed the rightness of my obsession!

Also--reading your 7th grade "they're all so pretty" made me laugh out loud, because, hi, Andrea? Looked in a mirror lately? You happen to be stunning. And then that absurdly beautiful group photo on the beach made me remember not just that your particular group is, indeed, made up of beautiful women, but that when we spend that kind of time with other women, it can't help but bring out the most beautiful things in each of us.

Posted by: Amy at August 21, 2009 11:02 AM

This is a beautiful and timely post. Right now I am going through a very, very difficult time and I would literally be dead if it weren't for the community of women around me. It's so scary to connect, to depend on others - but it is so worth it.

Posted by: Helen at August 21, 2009 10:42 AM

I was just speaking with a friend last night about the need to keep finding and tending our communities. Here's to connection, engagement and coming alive again! And when all else fails... just dance.

Posted by: Honey at August 21, 2009 09:22 AM

Between reading your post about this group and Karen's, I am so inspired to try to put something like this together in my own life.

And it is so fantastic to me that you do it on the Oregon coast. My home territory, and the most magical place I've yet seen.

Posted by: Grace at August 21, 2009 09:10 AM

this really is so beautiful.
thank you for sharing these pieces of you and of your experience together.

and those photos of you two - oh my goodness that makes me smile so widely!!!! love that you have found that sparkle again...and can't wait to hear your laughter in a few weeks...

Posted by: liz elayne at August 21, 2009 07:49 AM

THis post really points to all that I have been wanting in my life. I think I lost my sparkle when I got pregnant, enduring the subsequent post partum depression and then the national depression that came after I broke through my personal depression. All these depressions have just depressed my sparkle.

And I miss my women. I miss my creative workshops that we developed. I missed the weekends we had together and the weekly sessions. I miss the community. I keep wanting to rebuild them but it doesn't seem to be building.

Sigh.

Soon, I believe.

But if I want it to be soon, I should start working on the steps to get there. I know. It's not just about wishes and longing, but action.

In the meantime, I love seeing your Lovebombs.

Posted by: rowena at August 21, 2009 07:48 AM

THis post really points to all that I have been wanting in my life. I think I lost my sparkle when I got pregnant, enduring the subsequent post partum depression and then the national depression that came after I broke through my personal depression. All these depressions have just depressed my sparkle.

And I miss my women. I miss my creative workshops that we developed. I missed the weekends we had together and the weekly sessions. I miss the community. I keep wanting to rebuild them but it doesn't seem to be building.

Sigh.

Soon, I believe.

But if I want it to be soon, I should start working on the steps to get there. I know. It's not just about wishes and longing, but action.

In the meantime, I love seeing your Lovebombs.

Posted by: rowena at August 21, 2009 07:25 AM

THis post really points to all that I have been wanting in my life. I think I lost my sparkle when I got pregnant, enduring the subsequent post partum depression and then the national depression that came after I broke through my personal depression. All these depressions have just depressed my sparkle.

And I miss my women. I miss my creative workshops that we developed. I missed the weekends we had together and the weekly sessions. I miss the community. I keep wanting to rebuild them but it doesn't seem to be building.

Sigh.

Soon, I believe.

But if I want it to be soon, I should start working on the steps to get there. I know. It's not just about wishes and longing, but action.

In the meantime, I love seeing your Lovebombs.

Posted by: rowena at August 21, 2009 07:25 AM

you really are such a superhero- it's awesome that you continue to share your always inspiring thoughts and words.

Posted by: cheryn at August 21, 2009 07:15 AM

have been reading so many of the posts from the lovebomb women...and i so admire how it seems you all gathered something so special from your time together. it is truly inspiring to read - and i hope that several of us in this area will be able to get together ourselves. would LOVE to find that sparkle again too. thank you for sharing!! warmly, s

Posted by: sperlygirl at August 21, 2009 07:14 AM

This is very inspiring! I also adore your Squam posts. I love being a parent, but I think there is something about it (especially early on) that squishes down your big unbridled inner self. Because you're exhausted and focused on caring for tiny people and if you'd rather be dancing around (or just sleeping), too bad. For awhile. My dream is to follow your lead, and go to Squam and unsquish myself in a year a so. Mamas of the world, unsquish!

Posted by: Zoe at August 21, 2009 06:34 AM

Those dance pictures say it all. This reminds me of how much I love to dance and how seldom I do it. Our souls need to move!

Posted by: Maureen at August 21, 2009 06:26 AM

I am really looking forward to Mondo Beyondo!

Posted by: Amanda at August 21, 2009 06:15 AM

I am envious of this lovely tribe of women you shared with us...it looks heavenly, to sparkle, to find your mojo again, to find that part of you that i often times gets lost in the, 'don't touch that, please don't hit your brother, please don't hit your sister' thoughts...really it was delightful to hear and really feel that you had such a jolly time.

Posted by: shawn at August 21, 2009 04:40 AM

Andrea, reading this post, looking at these wonderful photos, I could not be any happier for you right now. xoxo

Posted by: Irene at August 20, 2009 10:20 PM

Sparkle on sister. Sparkle on.

Posted by: Ali at August 20, 2009 09:51 PM

you ladies are all awesome!

Posted by: maureen banack at August 20, 2009 09:11 PM

I am yearning.....while drinking in each post each of you make about this get together.....

Posted by: Anna-Marie Still at August 20, 2009 08:28 PM

Seeing you dance reminded me of the e-course I recently finished w/Susannah over at http://www.inkonmyfingers.typepad.com/

A few of us started posting Dance videos in the Alter-Ego week. It was so freeing and we all kind of formed a special dance tribe.

I think anyone who's looking for some sparkle just needs to dance in their living room. Don't you think?

p.s. I think it's wonderful that you have this opportunity once a year! Keep posting b/c I love to see all the love!

Posted by: Amber at August 20, 2009 08:13 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for posting this! I have been in such a sad, lonely, miserable mood lately, even when surrounded by friends and family. I look forward to trying to get my sparkle back.

Posted by: Tamera at August 20, 2009 07:43 PM

Awesome!! Every girl needs this kind of love and magic!! Thanks for sharing your story and along with it hope, inspiration, and support!! I can feel it....and now have the tune, "Low, low, low, low" groovin' in my head!! Makes me smile (and shimmy) :) xoxo, ~ M.

Posted by: Mariella at August 20, 2009 07:26 PM

Loved being with you for those few magical days. Pure magic + love.

Posted by: Brené at August 20, 2009 07:08 PM

Reading all of the Lovebomb posts I have been envious of it all. I wonder how many people have started their own little retreats from being inspired by y'all?

Posted by: misti at August 20, 2009 05:12 PM

That's awesome. And while I enjoy the dancing pictures, I can't think of a more fabulously great last picture. So many lovely ladies! And it's a good picture of every single one.

Posted by: cjh at August 20, 2009 04:52 PM

Huh. I don't remember the last time I truly felt carefree and, well, like me.

Posted by: Tawnya at August 20, 2009 04:44 PM

These pictures crack my shit up. And to mangle the lyrics of a song called Low, you GLOW GLOW glow glow glow glow glow!!

xox,

K.

Posted by: Chookooloonks at August 20, 2009 04:08 PM

I am mostly envious - but also really happy for you. I hope someday to find my tribe too!

Posted by: Jacqueline at August 20, 2009 03:56 PM

i'm so happy for you ladies!! :)

Posted by: celisa at August 20, 2009 03:49 PM

take me with you all next time- sounds amazing.

Posted by: amy at August 20, 2009 03:42 PM

How this post just made me smile and want to do the PONY!!! You are so right about finding your sparkle. Mine is returning after being missing for such a long time. I could not be anymore thrilled about that. I hear the Oregon coast is rather magical. I hope to see it soon myself.

Posted by: Lu at August 20, 2009 03:29 PM