Category Archives: Adventures

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!

The first time I heard the word Oaxaca.

The first time I heard the word Oaxaca I was in the 6th grade. My best friend and her family had just gotten back from there and I still remember the feeling in my body when I heard them say it – Oaxaca. It inspired a kind of yearning for me, a curiosity, a resonance I couldn’t explain. I decided then and there that I would visit this magical place one day.

In my mid-twenties, I decided to craft my own personal artist retreat and found a Spanish language school in Oaxaca where I could study for a couple of months. I was placed with a family there and for 11 dollars a day, I had food and housing and spanish classes! My digs were far from luxurious (I seem to remember sleeping on a cement slab with a bit of foam on it!) but I loved it anyway. The city astounded me – the zocalo brimming with life, the artisans everywhere, the color color color that filled up my artist heart.

Apparently, Oaxaca has always captured my spirit… because, now, all these years later, Laurie and I are cooking up a special insider trip to Oaxaca this October! We plan to gather a small group (6-8 of you max) for the usual deliciousness – Wild Writing, photography, artisan studio visits, cooking classes/food tours + other surprise delights.

The hotel is beautiful and has a pool!

This means that you will be part of our recon mission and will get a super intimate experience with us! We plan to offer a Oaxaca trip in the future with a much bigger group, but this is our discovery mission with you.

Dates are: Sunday, October 6th- Friday, October 11th, 2019

Our hotel is just 15 minutes from the Oaxaca airport.

NOTE: We only have 2 spots available!

We have 1 private room available at 2,600 which includes 5 nights stay, 2 group dinners, writing and photography workshops, all excursions + other delights. We also have one shared room available at 2,200.

As usual, the non-refundable deposit is $500

If you are interested, please nab your spot and pay your deposit by August 30th, 2019.

We are SO EXCITED for this.

Please come with us!!!
Andrea + Laurie

P.S. If you want to get inspired, the blogger Eva Kosmas Flores captured some amazing photos of Oaxaca (below) and some of the things we will see. Seeing her photos made my heart explode with excitement for this trip.


We collect practices that make us feel alive.


When Laurie + I began mapping out our Opening the Creative Channel retreat last summer, we thought about all the ways we could play and create with the participants. We could do wild writing! collaborative painting! play Storybowl!

As we listed all of the things that would delight us, we realized they are actually a collection of practices – the things we have learned to do over the years to wake up, feel alive + keep the channel open. They are what we use to keep the creative energy moving in our lives so that we have access to flow. To our voice. To our unique gifts and magic.

We also discovered that we are all about process. We love to make beautiful things but we also know that opening up + waking up is a gift in its own right. The aliveness that comes from tapping into our creativity + our joy on a regular basis is really what we’re after.

And now we are excited to bring it to you. Join us for a luxurious retreat at Mayacamas Resort in Calistoga, CA. It will be a joy-filled, creative, and deeply beautiful time.

Put down your $500 deposit today + grab yourself a spot!

Here are the details:

When: June 8th -12th, 2014
Where: Mayacamas Ranch
What: Painting, writing, NIA, swimming, story telling, 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.


Dorm rate (limited to 6 guests): 1350-
Double rate: 1550-
Single rate: 1950-

$500 deposit secures your spot!

Inline image 2

Click the register button above to pay your deposit and claim your spot!

With love + joy,
Andrea and Laurie


Some of our favorite practices that we will be bringing to Mayacamas:

Wild Writing. Laurie has been teaching a writing practice for many years called Wild Writing. (She likes to say it’s a healing practice disguised as a writing practice, and I would agree) I have been writing with her this way for almost 10 years. Every piece from my blog that I am proud of started out as a 15 minute wild writing piece.

Intuitive painting. We are going to get messy! And paint. YES. Even if you have never painted. We will show you how to intuitively move, reaching for what delights you. Hot pink! Yes.

Storybowl. This is a game we play in a sacred circle. We pass around a bowl full of story prompts + each person spontaneously tells a true story from their lives. It isn’t about performing the best story, but about bravely sharing a piece of your heart. It fosters deep connection, compassion + joy. Every story is like a little miracle.

Nia. This is a joy practice disguised as a dance class! For the first few years I did Nia, I felt SO UNCOOL. But I loved it. It helped me take myself less seriously and gave me more access to joy. We will move our bodies in joyful ways with a wonderful Nia instructor.

Photography. You know you can’t be in my presence without getting your picture taken. We will do some photo walks + get my best tips on how to take your everyday photography to the next level.





Artist dates + How to find the fairy doors in Golden Gate Park


Fairy door in Golden Gate Park, SF

This is a fairy door.

Left by magical fairies in Golden Gate park. Don’t you love it?

I had been searching for it for months (unsuccessfully) when a friend told me a hilarious story. “I was changing Owen’s diaper in a little woodsy area near the Japanese Tea garden. You know, for privacy, right? When suddenly I looked up and I was surrounded by a team of Segues. They were all looking for a fairy door precisely in the grove where I had stopped. It was disturbing and surreal.”

She gave me the best instructions she could, Along the side of the Japanese tea garden, there is a fence, a path, a log, etc… but I was still confused when I went searching again last week. I had an artist date with my friend Danny Gregory who flew out for the Hockney show. After marveling at the paintings for hours, I proposed we get some air and search for the mythic fairy door. (I have a history of taking Danny weird places. Last time he was in SF I took him to the Pyschic Eye for a chakra healing)


Inside were wishes and bells, rocks + shells, love notes + acorns. Fairy stuff. Next time I will bring my kids + some glitter.

If you’d like to find the fairy door, here are some simple instructions:

  • -Head to Golden Gate and try to park near the Arboretum or the Japanese Tea Garden

  • -There is a paved pathway that lies between Stowe Lake and the Tea Garden.

  • -Walk up the paved pathway for about 100 feet (Stowe Lake will be on your left) until you see a big eucalyptus log (approximately 18 feet long) that is broken in two. It will be on the left side of the path.

  • -At the end of this log is the fairy door!


Paved pathway between Japanese Tea Garden + Stowe Lake, Golden Gate Park, SF



The eucalyptus log with the fairy door, Golden Gate Park




Adventures: Big Basin in Santa Cruz


Nico, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Impossibly big trees, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Nico and Ben, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Ben, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Self-portrait, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Cousins, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA


Ben in his happy place, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, CA

August Adventures: Glide church + Dim Sum in Chinatown

The Glide gospel choir, SF

The Glide gospel choir, SF


Blue slippers in Chinatown, SF


Lanterns in Chinatown, SF


Me, Ben and Nadie in a very big chair at the Clift hotel, SF


Ben looking like a city dude, downtown SF

What’s up with the green smoothies? A cleanse + interview with health coach, Lacy Young


Hey Superheroes,

We are doing something special this week!

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you might know that I recently got a Vitamix. I’ve become a convert! and I’m starting to understand this whole green smoothie craze.

In an effort to understand the health benefits of all this talk about drinking our veggies, I called upon Lacy Young – a friend and wellness coach- to give us the full scoop. I hope you enjoy this series! I’ll be blending right along with you. XO Andrea




Sweet + Gentle Smoothie Cleanse: the What, When, Why and How

Hi! It’s so nice to meet you! I’m Lacy Young.

I’m a health coach and the creator of the Campaign for Confidence. I grew up a mac + cheese eating, steak + potato loving, Betty Crocker cake baking kid! Loved every second of it. Fruit appeared in the form of fruit roll-ups. And veggies? Well, I would eat a salad every once in awhile if it were properly blanketed in ranch dressing!

My journey to health began as many do after profound sickness. My sickness had a big fancy name, Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis aka suffocating scar tissue forming in my trachea. After 7 surgeries, countless pharmaceuticals (UGH Prednisone!), fifty extra pounds and deep sadness I began to return home to myself through whole foods.

lacy chin stitch day 6

I literally started at square one. What’s a green? Why do I care? How do I make it NOT taste like fresh mowed grass?

As I discovered the answers to these questions and practiced a new way of eating, my life transformed so dramatically that I became a health coach + now support others on their journey to health! The magic of health coaching is that it’s about meeting you wherever you are and offering gentle, loving support, accountability + tools to reach your goals.

Your body is communicating with you all the time and cleansing is a wonderful way to tap into your body wisdom! I hope you’ll consider joining us on this 3-day smoothie cleanse! I’m so thrilled to be here with you!

To your whole health + happiness,

What: Recipes, support and schedule for a FREE 3-day green smoothie cleanse.

When Is the Cleanse:
Anytime you want!

Why Cleanse:
This cleanse is designed to gently detoxify and keep your body cool this summer. This is NOT a starvation diet, and while you will be cutting out processed foods, white sugar and white flour, you will get to enjoy three healthy meals each day and snacks if you need. Rather than focusing on what you are leaving out, you’ll be focusing on all the goodness you are bringing in!

We all have toxic accumulations in our systems. They come from our food, skincare products and the environment (pesticides, chemicals, etc.). Accumulated toxins block our bodily channels and decrease the functioning of all of our systems, leading to varying symptoms and dis-ease. Really, all symptoms and disease are the result of toxins, but some of the earlier warning signs are:
● Digestive disturbances (gas, bloating, heartburn)
● Irregular bowel movements (constipation, diarrhea, mucous in stools)
● Feeling tired and sluggish
● Insomnia
● Bad breath
● Foul body odor
● Allergies
● Constipation
● Frequent colds and coughs
● Headaches
● Stress
● Dull or itchy skin, or skin rashes
● PMS symptoms (water retention, breast swelling, breast tenderness)
● Cold hands and/or feet
● Poor sleep
● Lowered immunity
● Depression and/or anxiety

How a Green Smoothie Cleanse Can Benefit You:
There are a lot of benefits to a green smoothie cleanse!

green smoothie

Green smoothies are a REALLY easy way to get tons of nutrition-packed greens into your belly. Leafy greens are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids that are essential in keeping all of our bodily processes functioning smoothly.

When you mix food together outside of your belly, it is much easier to digest inside of your belly. This gives your digestive system a bit of a break. Eating this way for a few days in a row allows for a RE-SET!

You’ll be focusing specifically on green smoothies! Greens are the single most balancing food on the planet. I call them the ultimate Re-Set Button! Cleansing gives you a break on digestion and helps to ease any disturbances. We could all use a little more ease in life, yes? YES!

Your elimination may seem a little off when you start the cleanse because your body is working on processing toxic accumulations, but it should balance out by the end. With improved elimination comes clearer skin, better sleep and loss of excess weight. WAHOO!

Because green smoothies provide all the nourishment you need in an easy-to-digest form, your body can easily absorb and assimilate nutrients providing you with increased energy and vitality. The Sweet & Gentle Summer Smoothie Cleanse is a chance for you to reduce food cravings and help you develop healthier eating patterns! Stay tuned for the cleanse schedule + recipes tomorrow!

It’s so very nice to meet you!

Beautiful food + gorgeous stories.


Last year I had a vision. I imagined a group of women (who didn’t know each other) around a table, eating beautiful food, and passing around a bowl filled with story prompts. One by one, we would each tell an impromptu story about our lives. It would be connecting and nourishing, compassion-building and healing.

This idea thrilled me for several reasons. The first is that I am bored at most parties. Small talk makes me tired. Witty banter makes my head hurt. I am the girl who will corner you at the party and go deep. You might be the only person I talk to that night, but we will be BFF’s by the end of the evening.

I also believe in the power of storytelling.

There is something really powerful that happens when humans circle up and tell stories. It it ancient and something we know in our bones. We are wired for this. And it is where so much healing happens.

There is a quote that I love by Mr. Rogers that pretty much sums it up: “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

These storybowls are no exception. I have been holding them regularly in the Bay Area and they are pure joy. There is something really magical that unfolds when we are together. It’s just the right mix of fun, connection, deep nourishment, compassion building and healing.

Please join me for a Bowl!



back yard 6-06^^

Sunday, August 18th 10am- 1pm
Storybowl in the garden at Susan’s house (see photo above + more here)
San Rafael, CA


P.S. Dinner or brunch included in the price! $55

The swarm. Episode Two.


This is the second time a swarm has found us.

The first time we were living in San Francisco and on a hot, spring day I returned home to a strange whapping sound. I searched around the house to find that there were bees, dozens of them, hurling their little bodies against the glass windows. What the??? I thought. As I looked around, I saw that they were everywhere, whapping against the windows like in a B-movie thriller.

I made sure all the doors were closed (and locked. You know, just in case) and my breath caught when I saw the plume of smoke in the backyard. It was a 6-foot-wide , black cloud hovering over the grass. At closer inspection, I noticed the cloud was made of BEES. BEES!

The cloud was also moving, slowly, next door.

I knocked on the neighbor’s door. “Hi. I just wanted to tell you that there are a lot of bees in your backyard.”

“Okay, thanks,” the guy said, starting to close the door in my face. “No wait, like 50,000 bees. Roughly.”

We walked through his house and saw that they had gathered in a tree in his yard. It was like a gigantic Rumple Stiltskin type beard hanging from a tree. “We’re going to call someone to get them out, ” I assured him.

The bee club guy, dressed in what looked an astronaut suit came over with a cardboard box, a large stick and duct tape. He tapped the limb of the tree, holding the box below it until the beard fell, whole, with a thunk into the cardboard. Then he quickly duct taped it closed.

In the last couple of days, I have been noticing a lot of bees on our back patio. “Must be the season,” I told myself. But yesterday I heard a familiar drone. A loud, jet engine of a hum coming from the shed where our bicycles are parked. It couldn’t be… I thought.. Again?

I missed the big black cloud, but this time we were the recipients of the swarm. They are camped out in the apple tree on our patio and even though it’s pretty hot, I am terrified to open the back door.

The bee removal guy (live removal, hooray!) came by yesterday. He walked right into the shed, bees whizzing all around him and said, “Yep. Smells like pheremones in here. We’ll have to come back in the morning when they’re all in the hive.”

And so it goes. Soon the bees will be gone.

When I wrote about this on Facebook yesterday several people commented on how bees choose their homes carefully, how it’s a good omen to be chosen.

Someone even sent me the animal totem for bee, what it symbolizes, and it said something about accomplishing the impossible. I love that and hope it’s true because there are a few things in my life that feel impossible right now, and I sure would love to accomplish them.

But for now, I will welcome the swarm- the loud thrum, the chaos, the sweetness + honey.

Sean Hayes is really awesome.


Sean Hayes playing at the UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA

Sean Hayes playing at the UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA

Sean Hayes playing at the UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA


Sean Hayes playing at the UC Botanical Garden, Berkeley, CA

You can hear more music from the incredible Sean Hayes here!