June 29, 2008

Superhero collaboration

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view into clouds, Puerto Rico, Canon Rebel Xti

I am looking for someone to assist me in all things Superhero!
Could it be you?

If you are interested in running a creative business, would like some weekly inspiration and need a creative mentor, we might be the perfect match. Although this is a non-paid position, I am able to offer mentoring, coaching and experience. And of course all the glory and treats a girl could want.

If any of you are interested (and in the Bay area) please email me for more details:
andrea@superherodesigns.com

Posted on 01:30 PM | Comments (31)

June 25, 2008

permission granted

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A painting I did years ago, acrylic on canvas

How do we live a creative life and pursue our passions and dreams while still raising our kids, having full time jobs, caring for elderly parents, etc.? We speculate on how those people out there do it, those folks in the magazines who seem to be so shiny and happy. We assume that everyone else has somehow figured this one out and we are the only ones who are exhausted, depleted and undernourished by creative juice at the end of each day.

You are SO not alone people.

Here are some tips for creating more balance and creative nourishment for YOU:

#1. Permission
Give yourself permission to do your creative work. Yes, your work is important (even if you are not making money from it) No, it is not self-indulgent. No, it does not mean you are selfish or that you don't love your family.

For creative people (that means you) part of nourishing ourselves is making time for our art. It is our life blood. It is part of what makes us feel alive. Just like food, sleep and love, we need to feed our creative spirits to stay vibrant and happy.
Fact.

In the end we are better partners, better friends and better parents when we are nourishing ourselves on all these levels. When I don't have time to do my art, I am resentful, anxious and not very present. Ben gets a better mom when I take care of myself.

#2. Tiny slices
Stop waiting for some grand sprawl of time to do something creative. Use the little slices. Quiet those gremlins that tell you that you don't have the right supplies, you need a better space, you need to learn photoshop, you don't have the right camera, or you need to do laundry... and just make something. That is the best way to shut those gremlins up. They are no match for action.

My favorite way to write is in 15 minute "wild writing" bursts. I set a timer and write as fast as I can for 15 minutes. The only rule is to write quickly and never take the pen off the page. Everything I've ever written, good or bad, was done this way.

#3. Ask for help
Are you willing to ask for help? Seriously. Are you?

This is possibly the most difficult point for most of you, and the most necessary. We can't do it alone. And we shouldn't. (It's so much less fun.)

Allow others to help you. Receive the gifts that are offered. Create trades with friends and neighbors. Let go of trying to control everything and give others the opportunity to help you. Ask.

How would it make a difference in your life to have one day/evening a week dedicated to your creative work?

Don't ask if that would be possible. Ask yourself HOW it could be possible. (How puts you in a creative frame of mind and creative solutions will follow)

#4. Create time
Okay. Another thing. How many hours a night do you watch tv or movies? For most of us that's about two hours. How much time do you spend surfing the internet, reading blogs, checking email each day/night?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these choices, but we have to remember that they are precisely that- a choice. Get conscious about how you are actually spending your time. You might be surprised. You can even time yourself and log the hours for one week. Then decide what an even more alive choice might be.

#5. Polishing the silver can wait
Maybe while the little dude is napping you could let the house be exactly how it is and use that time for you. Maybe it's as simple as creating a collage from old magazines and a glue stick, doing a 15 minute wild writing exercise in your journal or pulling out the paintbrush and getting wild and free. The housework will be there when you're finished and you'll be all the richer in spirit at the end of that hour.

#6. Share your intention with your community
This might mean creating a pact with a fellow creative girlie, gathering a group that meets up regularly (in person or virtually) or even working with a coach to keep you on track. Declaring your intention has massive manifesting power and is inspiring to others! It also creates opportunities for loved ones to help you. (I am always shocked at how much others want to help me) Share with a partner or trusted friend that your spirit is thirsting for this change and inspire them to make this happen with you. Again, you do not have to do it all yourself!

This is all about choice, and it's yours to make. If you find yourself saying you don't have time but your spirit is aching for something more, consider a moratorium on that phrase and go nourish your creative heart instead. You have my permission!

Posted on 10:31 AM | Comments (45)

June 20, 2008

what you don't see

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Ben, modeling for Speesees, photo by me, Canon Rebel Xti

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Ben, modeling for Speesees, photo by me, Canon Rebel Xti

What you don't see on the other side of this is me, jumping up and down in bare feet, trying to make faces, yelling Stay on the paper! Put that down! Don't put that in your mouth! Ben! Look up here! Stay on the paper!!!

What you don't see is the terrible sleep we had the night before, how Ben cried at 2 am, yet even after I fed him he still cried on and off for several hours more. One of those nights when I needed sleep so badly and just couldn't take it anymore, so I put in earplugs and tried to block him out and put Matt on duty.

What you don't see is Matt playing guitar sweetly for Ben next to me so that he stops and stares in wonder at the strings, the sounds, at his magical dada.

You don't see the meltdowns between shots, the pulling of the little girl's barette, the obsession with putting his finger in other kids' mouths, the crying over wanting to take the toys home, how we bribed him with grapes, the battle over putting the apple that was really a pencil sharpener in his mouth.

This is the magic of photography. And the magic of editing your photos to look back on years from now. They only tell the story you want to tell... And even though they don't always have the gory details, there is something just as true about them. The sweetness in Ben's face, his pure joy at holding a ukulele, the sparkle in his eye... all true.

Posted on 08:04 AM | Comments (38)

June 17, 2008

What makes you feel alive?

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Ben, modeling for Speesees, photo by me, Canon Rebel Xti

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Ben feels alive playing music, clothing by Speesees, Canon Rebel Xti

I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive. -Joseph Campbell

What makes you feel alive?

Posted on 09:38 AM | Comments (63)

June 14, 2008

opening up

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pink peony, Canon Rebel Xti, also used a texture by Jesh De Rox

Saying yes, opening up, and loving:
these are the keys that will unlock the prison door.

-Arnaud Desjardins from the beautiful book of quotes and photos called Offerings

Posted on 01:49 PM | Comments (21)

June 11, 2008

Investing in ourselves

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Speesees studio, San Francisco, CA, One of my studio inspirations, Canon Rebel Xti

I remember my friend calling me the day she bought her first expensive laptop for her budding business. "I can't open it," she said. "It's been a week and I still can't open it!"

I coached her through the ceremonious ripping open of the package. I reminded her that she is a real photographer and we need to celebrate putting money into our work, taking ourselves and our businesses more seriously and that there is so much power in investing in ourselves.

As women, I think this is a typical issue. We are often afraid to invest in ourselves, to believe in our work, to take certain leaps of faith. If you are like me, you are brave in the ways of the heart but cautious when it comes to other pursuits. In certain ways I have taken incredibly brave risks with my business and my life, but I also see where I play it small, where I'm afraid to grow, expand and be more financially abundant.

For the last 10 years I have run my business essentially by myself. I think I have liked the control I have this way, how contained and manageable it is. I have also enjoyed the intimacy of it, the simplicity and did I mention the control? :)

But my spirit feels ready for more, ready to grow and challenge myself in new ways.

In the spirit of this, I rented a beautiful studio space yesterday! I will be sharing it with two people and fulfilling my longtime dream of working alongside other creative folks. I am so tired of working alone! and even more tired of hearing myself complain about being lonely. I never thought I could afford to fulfill this vision (and had bought into the idea that one can't afford such things int he Bay Area... ) but honestly, I had never even researched how much it would cost. Within 24 hours this weekend, I found a big beautiful space and two people who wanted to share it with me. It's a fraction of what I thought it would cost and it is what I have always dreamed of!

What came before this choice however was another one: I chose to invest in myself. Every time I have done this in my life, so much opened up. I am so excited to see what comes from this.

Where in your life can you invest in yourself and in your dreams?

p.s. I can't resist posting the Girl Effect video...
and while I'm at it, the J.K. Rowling commencement speech from Harvard:
The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

Posted on 11:14 AM | Comments (51)

June 10, 2008

18 months of Ben

Dear Ben,

You are 18 months now! and don't look a day over 12 months.. Really. You don't. It is unbearably cute.

The biggest news I have is that you are a guitar player! We noticed long ago that whenever we would see a street musician you would stop whatever you were doing and plunk on the ground at their feet, staring in total amazement. Sometimes they were terrible, but you didn't care. You could sit there for hours.

The other day someone let you play their ukulele and you were in pure heaven, immediately laying it on your lap and plucking away. You cried and cried when they took it back and ever since then you have been trying to play the mop, your push toys, the rake and the broom. You have been pretty much air guitaring all over the house!

The video above is of you playing the ukulele we got you. You strummed and sang and carried it around with you all day. I think it must run in the family because when dada was little he made a guitar out of cardboard and carried that around playing air guitar too. The sad news is that you broke your ukulele three times that first day. I think the thing is toast. We glued it with super glue over and over but it can't withstand your rockstar ways. I think we need to get a plastic one. Anyone out there have one? or know of any good ones?

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Anyway, I could tell you about all the words you say, Gato, agua, dada, mama, owl, apple, out, up, yellow, ball, etc, I could tell you about how you carjack the other kids at the park. (Yes, it's pretty much as bad as it sounds.) You stop their car, grab them by the their t-shirt and escort them out of the vehicle. Before they know what him them, you are in and off! We're working on that.

Oh, and I think your biting phase might be over. You were experimenting with that for the last week or so, getting spazzy and biting me, the babysitter, your dad. We kept stopping you and saying "No!" very firmly, but it didn't help. What did help was when you absentmindedly bit your very own foot and screamed and cried because it turns out you bit down pretty hard. I saw the teeth marks.

You haven't done any biting since.

But what I really want to say is that I admire you.
I admire you for how much you love the world and the people in it.
I admire you for how unafraid you are, how curious you are and how much you want to learn.
I admire you for how clear you are about what you want and that you are willing to ask for it even if you don't always get it.
I admire you for how honest you are with your love, your affection, and your joy.
I admire you for your joy
and how you know that moment by moment things can be different.
I admire you for how quickly you forgive,
and forget.

Posted on 12:08 PM | Comments (49)

June 07, 2008

Sistahs are doin' it

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SARK, San Francisco, CA, photo by yours truly, Canon Rebel Xti

My new Shutter Sisters photo challenge is up! It's all about ugly-beautiful.

I've been so moved reading Jen Lemen stories from her trip to Rwanda.

Fell instantly in love with this book The Blood of Flowers and it's powerful and feisty main character. I passed it along to Matt and he loved it as well.

The talented Kelly Rae and Mati Rose are hosting a painting retreat in Italy this summer! You can also pre-order Kelly Rae's new book Taking Flight right now.

And finally, I am SO excited to announce that SARK's new book Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories, and Creating the Time and Energy to Actually Do It will be out this August. I have been anxiously awaiting this book for years... and now more than ever, it is exactly the book I need to read. I trust it will provide just the creative spark I have been looking for to free myself up and get my stories out there into the world. Thank you for writing this Susan! I'm off to order my advance copy.

Posted on 01:23 PM | Comments (18)

June 04, 2008

My superhero Kim

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Kim Indresano, Puerto Rico, Canon Xti

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Kim, Puerto Rico, fort, Canon Xti

This is Kim, and the reason behind so many good things in my life. Since she and her family left the bay area (heartbreaking for me) we have been trying to create clever ways to spend quality time together. She hired me to shoot the big bash in Puerto Rico and it was such an incredible time both professionally and personally. Because I am prone to feeling anxious I have never wanted to take on shooting weddings myself, but I love being the second shooter at her events. The Garfunkel to her Simon. The Hall to her Oates. Or is it Oates to her Hall?

Anyway, she happens to be one of my favorite people in the world and one of the easiest to photograph. She glows with life and always inspires me with her calm wisdom and playful joy.

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Kim, fort, Canon Xti

The first time we met was in a yoga class. She spotted me first because I didn't have my glasses on and didn't see her! We were getting our shoes on and somehow asked each other out for a spontaneous tea. We spent nearly four hours chatting at the cafe that day. I still remember walking away, grinning to myself and thinking, "My entire life is about to change..."

And it did. She introduced me to my dear one Sasha (who happens to be in the current issue of Bust magazine this month. Go Sasha!) She introduced me to my beloved Matt and mostly opened up a whole new world to me of friendship, community, adventure, and loving the natural world. I had never hiked or camped before I met Kim!

I will never forget the compassion she showed me one particular day. I was still going through infertility and she became pregnant with her second baby. I remember sitting on her kitchen floor with Liam when she told me the news. I congratulated her but the tears of grief came almost immediately. I felt ashamed. She hugged me and held me and said, "I know, I know... it's isn't fair! It was your turn... it was your turn..." In that moment I felt so incredibly loved and understood.

If you have a blog, I encourage you to write a little ode to a friend today. In writing this, my heart is full.

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Kim, Andrea, photo by Anne Hamersky, Canon Elph SD1000

Posted on 07:55 AM | Comments (35)

June 02, 2008

Get ready, I'm going to seduce you

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Denise, Swirly, Jen Gray, Canon Elph SD1000

As most of you know, I am teaching a photography/coaching workshop at Squam in New Hampshire this year. I am so full hearted thinking about meeting all of you and having such a creative, fun and joyous time playing with our cameras. (For a full description of the classes, click here)

It truly feels like girl camp to me... a time to play, explore our creative insides and be with like-minded and cool women. I remember being so moved and teary when I saw the trailer for Girls Rock, the rock camp for girls that was started in Portland, Oregon. I remember feeling so happy it existed and wished that I had been able to do something like that when I was a kid. Then I realized that it's not too late! that Squam can be our girl camp! where we too get to practice using our voice, exploring our creative sparks, and feeling empowered and lifted up by it all. Watch this and get the kleenex ready!

Even though we won't be learning to play guitar, we will have a true rock star there! Jonatha Brooke will be performing by the campfire just for us! She has a brand new album coming out in late August and we will be among the first to hear it... This is the part where I squeal and do cartwheels in my office . (If you aren't familiar with her music, listen to one of my favorite songs here.

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I am also blessed beyond belief to have not one, not two, but three incredibly talented and hottie assistants with me for my classes: the awesome Jen Gray, Boho Girl Denise and Jonatha Brooke. I will be the lead facilitator for the day but these talented ladies will be my roving angels helping me and you as the day progresses.

Oh, and as if that's not enough, Christine Mason Miller (aka Swirly) is going to launch her fabulous new book ORDINARY SPARKLING MOMENTS at Squam. You can pre-order it right now or preview it and buy it at Squam.

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Christine Mason Miller, Canon Elph SD1000

So sign up folks! What are you waiting for? We're going to have an amazing time.

And one more thing.

For those of you who don't fancy yourself an artist, this workshop is for you too.
For those of you know there is a creative spark in you that doesn't get expressed, we want you there.

Most of us didn't get to go to a girls rock camp at age thirteen and now is our chance. This is about learning to use our voice, empowering ourselves and empowering each other.

I want to see YOU there. Waddya say?

Posted on 09:54 AM | Comments (24)