We are settling for counterfeit joys.

During my podcast interview with the author Francis Weller, we talked about our collective grief as a culture and the loneliness (from disconnection) we are all experiencing. When he said, “We are all settling for counterfeit joys instead of real joy.” I knew exactly what he meant.

We are settling for the hit of dopamine we get when our phone dings, for likes on Facebook, for a curious hunger for followers. We are settling for distraction instead of looking into each other’s eyes more of the time. We are settling for numbing instead of feeling our full range of emotions – numbing our aliveness in the process.

We are starved for real connection.

For the material. For what we can hold in our hands. I find myself longing for the days of curly phone cords that could stretch under my bedroom door and into my bed. For the kind of boredom that leads to creative impulses. For the availability I had to serendipity and connection on a city bus- before everyone’s heads were bowed in unison, faces aglow, scrolling and tapping their approval.

When I set intentions for my time this week in Oaxaca (a little recon mission Laurie and I did so that we can bring a larger group there in 2020) I was imagining my hands in the black clay. I was imagining tasting the new flavors of chiles and Oaxacan string cheese and squash flower blossoms. I was imagining indigo dye on my hands as we learned from a master Zapotec dyer how to take an insect (a tiny grey pill bug creature) and transform it into the most glorious crimson pigment. I imagined the candy-colored walls with cracks and graffiti on them – the glorious wabi sabi technicolor of every calle.

For me, for my artist spirit, for anyone with a creative soul, this is real joy. Not the counterfeit kind, but the  kind you can smell and taste. The kind that wakes you up, the makes you remember something ancient in your bones. The kind that opens your heart.

I think this is why I’ve been writing with Laurie for so long. More than 15 years ago, she introduced me to this practice of Wild Writing, where a group of women sit in a circle and write for 15 minutes at a time from a prompt. We write as fast as we can, without the pen leaving the page. It’s personal essay and Laurie sets a high bar for keeping it real and telling the truth. She showed me the magic that happens when we show our true selves to one another. It costs us something (some courage and vulnerability) but we are rewarded with deep connection, an understanding that we are not alone and the catharsis of letting what is alive in us move through.

Not everyone wants to roll this way, but my favorite people do. We are the ones that can’t stand small talk. We are the ones want to hear each others’ stories. We are the ones who aren’t as afraid to die as we are to live without having truly lived.

I was chatting with a yoga teacher recently for 1440 and when I asked him how he got into yoga, he replied, “The usual way. My girlfriend dragged me! But at the end, as I lay in savasana, I wept. Maybe for the first time in a long while. It woke up something in me. Healing began to happen. My heart cracked open.”

There is something about getting embodied that allows for more of the real joy I am talking about. It is the antithesis of the virtual joys, the counterfeit joys, the ones mediated by a screen. It’s about being intimate with the world. Being touched by life.

How do you ground yourself in what’s real?
Do you dig your hands in the dirt?
Do you swim? Do you knit?
Are you worried about this culture of settling for counterfeit joys?
Would love to hear from you.

 

And if you’re feeling the call to wake up with me and Laurie in Mexico, we still have some spots open for our January and March 2020 trips. Wild Writing, photography, eyes wide with color. It’s a life-changing reset – a way to reorient you back to your heart and creative spirit.

Some praise from the incredible women from our last trip to San Miguel:

I won’t forget how it feels to talk to women and not talk about stuff that doesn’t matter. We have so much in common; so much to share. I won’t forget to write.  I won’t forget what it feels like to create – to go to that place where time doesn’t exist. I exist to live and love and teach and hug. Finally, permission to be me, I’m worth it. What an experience this has been. –Jan Stamos

What a magical week exploring the town of San Miguel de Allende with Laurie and Andrea, and unearthing the stories I have buried inside of me! From morning coffee on the rooftop of our amazing B&B, to a delicious food tour in this ‘foodie’ city, to finding hidden pathways rich with color, I felt my creativity come alive under the gentle guidance of these two wonderful women. I highly recommend placing this retreat at the top of your bucket list! –Beverly Ash Gilbert, Artist . Author . Color Consultant 

I love to travel.  Being in a different place wakes me up out of the routines I cling to for, I suppose, a sense of security, or maybe because it’s so hard to do plunge into something new.  Somewhere during my early morning layover in Houston after a sleepless redeye flight, I wondered, “Is a week in a new place with people I mostly don’t know going to be worth all this?” I knew the answer was YES! as soon as I arrived. Laurie and Andrea carved out a warm, safe, comfortable, hassle-free space that let me and the interesting women I’d spend the week getting to know relax, laugh, connect with a mostly dormant (for me) creative place, write (or not), and explore (or not) one of the world’s most beautiful cities.   I’ve already signed up for next year. Only this time I won’t take the redeye. –Janis Chan

More details on our trips here!

One more day! You in? Some video inspiration for you.

Hey sweet friends,

I am beyond delighted by all the folks who have signed up for Mondo Beyondo! Thank you!

You will receive an invitation to the classroom tonight!

Want to know a bit more about the class? Watch this intro below!

Just click above to watch the video!

Big love + hugs to all of you. Thank you for being my co-conspirators in making magic.

xo Andrea

CSP #47: Making Creative Dreams Real with novelist Katherine Center

Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away and Things You Save in a Fire, as well as five others, including Happiness for Beginners and The Bright Side of Disaster. Her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, is soon to be a movie starring Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel. Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in O MagazineUSA TodayInStyleRedbookPeopleThe AtlanticReal Simple, and others. Katherine lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet kids.

 

How I finally found my sweetheart. (+ last chance for Mondo Beyondo discounted rate!)

When I had an astrological reading with Virginia Bell last fall, I couldn’t wait for this 2019 year to start. This is your year! She told me. This is the time when the pieces come together. You’re going to finally make real all of the things you have been working so hard to create. Well halle-freaking-lujah! I thought. I was especially hopeful when it came to finding my sweetheart. 

After online dating for more than four years, I was getting, shall we say, fatigued with the process. At first all of the new people and adventures was exciting. It was fun to be out in the world again and be in this alternate universe outside of my mama duties. I would text girlfriends who were tracking me on first dates (I’m on a boat! I’m on a dairy farm! I’m at a watsu party where everyone is naked!) Even the terrible dates were great story material and helped me understand (by contrast) what I wanted and didn’t want in a partner.

I likened it to the process I went through in finding the right home after my divorce. It required that I go in and see a lot of houses to understand what my non-negotiables were. Did I want hardwood floors or carpet? Was a bathtub a must? Sometimes I would walk into a house and just know – I can’t write here. And so I wouldn’t apply.

After a while though, I found myself applying for super crappy apartments (ones that would have been much to small for me and my boys) out of sheer desperation and fear that I couldn’t actually have what I truly wanted. When I wouldn’t get the crappy apartment I would feel disappointed (even though I was clearly being protected by some greater force) Ultimately, I had to remind myself that I knew what a full yes felt like in my body. And I knew that when I felt that full yes for a home, it would be the right fit.

Finding home in another person turned out to be a similar pursuit. I pursued a lot of crappy apartments in the land of online dating too! 😉 And watched myself on that rollercoaster of hopefulness and excitement and then the inevitable plummet… The questions were also similar – Was I worthy of having just what I wanted? Was I supposed to not be so “picky” and just settle for something good? Could I be with the pain of not being chosen? Could I learn to set boundaries and assert my needs and desires?

Last December, I had my yearly reading with the psychic medium I have been consulting for years. For the very first time in four years she said, “You have a long term agreement coming in!” (This is her term for a long term relationship) My heart leapt. “I really like him Andrea. Super high vibration, an incredible communicator, really evolved, been doing his work for a long time.”

Then she started to describe him physically. He’s got dark wavy hair, he’s wearing it short right now, although he’s worn it long in the past, a prominent M in his name… “Let’s wake up this connection!” she exclaimed.

Five days later was Christmas eve. This is a notoriously hard week for me. The boys are with Matt and his family and I always forget the sting that Christmas morning brings. I imagine them bounding down the stairs to open gifts and I am far away… So I texted my friend Laurie. “Lonely Jew! Nowhere to go on Xmas eve!” She immediately texted back, “Oh my gosh, join me and Mark and the girls!”

Jesse wasn’t supposed to be there. But when Mark heard that I was coming, he and Laurie got to thinking. What would happen if we put Andrea and Jesse in a room together?

Well friends. You know where this story is going.

We chatted. We flirted a bit. I was immediately attracted to him.

At some point Mark sat next to me and said, What do you think of my friend Jesse? He’s an amazing communicator, super self-reflective… same words the psychic used to describe him. I looked over at Jesse, at his wavy dark hair and got chills. 

This photo is my favorite of us, mostly because it shows my utter delight for this man. The relationship has had its complexities like any other, but we’ve had an unhesitating yes for each other from the beginning. For a long time we joked that we were high on resonance and low on content, because the feelings we had for each other were so deep and yet (with our complex parenting schedules) we had barely gone on many dates.

I could tell you many things about Jesse. I could tell you what an amazing dad he is and how much I learn from him as a parent. I could tell you about his playfulness and his wildness. I could tell you about the magic he makes in the kitchen and what a fierce advocate he is for those he loves and causes he believes in. I could tell you about the other night, when I was having an allergic reaction and my face was burning, how he carved up chilled watermelon rinds and placed them carefully on my face. 😉 I could tell you that it feels safe to tell him any truth, no matter how hard.

That full yes I was waiting for in a home? It happened when I walked into my dreamy little treehouse in the woods. I gasped when I walked in and said to the woman showing me the place, “Do I get to have this?” “Yes! She exclaimed. “What else do you want?”

We know what that full yes feels like in our body. It’s expansive, it’s uplifting, it’s like oxygen. Jesse feels like that to me every time we’re together. He is my full yes. 

We get to have what we want sweet friends. 

What do you want most? 

Guess what? You get to have this. What else do you want?

Class begins, Monday, September 16th, 2019

More details here.

Wanna get in on the early bird price? TODAY IS THE LAST DAY!

Just enter the coupon code: EARLYBIRDMAGIC  at checkout to get the course for 99- instead of $129

My Mondo Beyondo dream (come true) this year.


Last year I spent time at the most amazing retreat center in the Santa Cruz Mountains – 1440 Multiversity! I was there to hang out with my friends Kelly Rae Roberts + Beth Kempton who were teaching a creative business workshop that week. As I participated in their workshop, ate the most glorious food and soaked in a giant infinity tub overlooking a sea of redwoods I started to wonder how I could spend more time in this place!

During the week I also got to zoom out on my own creative business and contemplate where I was heading, what I wanted to slash and burn, where I was headed as a creative creature… And guess what? Everyone seemed to be finding clarity but me!

Until the very last day.

I realized that I had been at this creative biz thing for a looooooong time (more than 20 years!) And although I have had lots of great success over the years, some part of me was still waiting for permission – permission to be my biggest self, permission to have a seat at the table, permission to grow into more prosperity, permission to use my voice in bigger ways.

In the closing circle, I was the only one who didn’t share. No one noticed (phew!) which relieved me because I wasn’t ready to put my aha moment into words just yet. The closest words I had was a knowing that my seat at the table was there for me to choose. There would be no formal invitation. It was up to me to share my voice and my heart and claim that space… not in a shouty way, not at the exclusion of others, but in the way that someone who knows that they are worthy claims their space.

Back at home the next day, an idea seemed to drop in out of nowhere – 1440 should have a podcast and I should be their podcast host.

The feeling was total clarity.
Grounded. Like a fact.
Not a stretch.
No ego or fear attached.
Just a full body yes.

And somehow, 24 hours later I had whipped up a proposal for them and sent it off!

Eight months later, I am now their Facebook Live host! And I have been interviewing the most incredible personal growth luminaries that come through their center to teach. It’s live video! Which made me nervous at first… I’m used to radio! But it has been so good for me to work through that edge. Another level of trusting myself + my voice.

Are you ready for one of your Mondo Beyondo dreams to come true this year? YES you are!

Class begins, Monday, September 16th, 2019

More details here.

Wanna get in on the early bird price? LAST CHANCE!

Just enter the coupon code: EARLYBIRDMAGIC  at checkout to get the course for 99- instead of $129