Category Archives: Inspiration

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

Thank you for not trying to fix this.

The tears started as soon as I dropped off Nico at school on Friday. An emptiness set in – the holidays, kids with Matt’s family, not much work to do, plans falling through for Christmas eve and Christmas day. I was suddenly hit with a wave of grief. I pulled over because it was hard to see through the puddles forming in my eyes and called my friend Viola. “I’m having a really hard moment,” I began. “I won’t see the boys for a while, I don’t have plans for Christmas, I don’t have a partner, I’m tired of being alone all the time, I’m afraid I’ll be alone forever. I’m just feeling really sorry for myself… ” I wept.

“Oh honey,” she replied. “I know this feeling so well. I’m so sorry you’re feeling that right now.”

We continued to talk, made some plans for the week, caught up on our lives, talked about how the holidays bring up so much and it’s never perfect. At the end of the conversation, I felt so much better. “Thank you,” I told her, “for just letting me have that emotion in its pure form. Thank you for not talking me out of it – that was an incredible gift.”

I’ve thought about this a lot in the days since – how quickly that feeling was able to move through when it was simply felt, honored and witnessed. It would have been easy for her to argue the feeling – you’re not alone, you have your boys and your friends and your family that loves you… and however true, that wasn’t the point. That would have simply layered on shame for feeling the feeling in the first place. I would have ended up apologizing for being so indulgent.

Sociologist Dr. Christine Carter says that strong emotions only actually last about 90 seconds. That is, if we let ourselves feel them without adding any story or suppressing them. They are e-motions, designed to move through us. (Think of a child and how quickly they move from one emotion to the next)

This is good news for us. Sometimes we are afraid that if we move toward our difficult feelings they will devour us, drag us under and engulf us. What’s more true is that allowing ourselves to have them, while shining a light of loving attention on them (either from ourselves or another) is a very miraculous kind of medicine.

We can practice this. We can trust in time that this is how it works.

It’s my birthday + I have a little gift for you.

I’ve been craving the real lately… the in-person, the things I can touch with my hands, the things that are not mediated by a screen or a device. I can see you nodding your heads out there, right?

Once or twice a year I go back to my roots and get busy making superhero jewelry. Colorful beads that look like hard candy sit in bowls on my desk, thick sterling silver wire gets bent with pliers… and all the while, podcasts and music flow in the background. It’s my bliss -one of the places I find deep joy and nourishment.

My joy is also in sharing them! And seeing them on friends like on my friend Monica below… who was kind enough to model the earth necklace for me on our hike!

BIG BIRTHDAY SALE! $40 off this week only.

Get $40 off this week only. (Instead of $119 they are $79)

This might be my last hurrah in the way of superhero necklaces! So come and get em now + into the holidays. 
https://www.etsy.com/shop/superhero?coupon=BIRTHDAYLOVE

P.S. Thank you for the incredible love in regard to my latest blog post. So glad it touched so many of you.

P.S.S. Did you see that my Wild Writing teacher (Laurie Wagner) + I are taking a group to San Miguel de Allende in March 2019? There are still spaces open. But not many. Join us!

The only safe place to go.

I’ve been flatlining for months – exhausted, crawling into bed at 2pm each day, wondering where all my energy has gone. I listen to the news and it’s full of vitriol and hate. Bombs. Shootings. More hate. I can hardly listen without going into a sort of trauma response. And so I turn off the radio, close the shutters on my heart, afraid to take any of it in, lest it take me down.

And then yesterday, in the dentist chair, the dam broke.

It’s not unusual for me to cry at the dentist. Something about lying on your back, mouth splayed, strangers peering inside with metal tools. I can’t think of anything more vulnerable.

“I’m sorry I keep crying,” I told the dentist. “You can do your work. It’s just really vulnerable to be in this chair. I can steel myself and try not to feel it, or drug myself out of it, but here it is.”

“I’m exactly the same as you when I have to get work done,” she replied and handed me a Kleenex and a blanket. Then she asked me if I wanted Cat Stevens or Krishna Das on the stereo. (It’s Berkeley after all!)

It was almost 2 hours in the chair- a lot of drilling and numbing and cotton, the smell of burning god knows what… fists clenched. This is suffering I thought. And I remembered the practice I learned from Kristin Neff. First, you recognize the moment as a moment of suffering. (This is suffering) Then you remind yourself that suffering is a part of life. That everyone suffers. (You haven’t done anything wrong, nor are you being punished) And in that moment you become connected to the suffering of others. You become connected to an entire human race that suffers each and every day. This is not meant to bring you down. It’s a reminder of our shared humanity. And for me, in that moment, it was a reminder of the pain in our world that I have been trying to keep at arms’s length.

Sometimes allowing a little crack in the armor- to allow ourselves to feel – also means feeling so many more layers. This might be why we avoid it. We numb ourselves with screens and work, alcohol and weed, Facebook and Instagram, busy busy. Because if we even felt into the edges of our grief, it might unleash something unmanageable, like a tidal wave of pain that we would never recover from.

This is the fear. But it’s not how it works.

There is a great story that Frank Ostaseski shared on my podcast. He is the buddhist teacher who created Zen Hospice and mentors caregivers in offering compassionate end of life care. He also wrote one of my favorite books – The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully. Frank was once giving a talk on the topic of moving toward what’s difficult and a man in the audience remarked, “It’s like telephone poles!” Confused, Frank asked him to explain:

I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. “Telephone poles? What do you mean?” I asked.

He explained that he once had a job installing telephone poles. “They’re hard and heavy, standing up to forty feet high.” There was a critical moment after you placed a pole in the ground, he said, when a pole was unstable and might topple over. “If it hit you, it could break your back.”

His first day on the job, the man turned to his partner and said, “If this pole starts to fall, I’m running like hell.”

But the old-timer replied, “Nope, you don’t want to do that. If that pole starts to fall, you want to go right up to it. You want to get real close and put your hands on the pole. It’s the only safe place to be.”

It’s counter-intuitive, but moving toward what’s difficult, being willing to feel it, is in the end the only safe place to go.

Yesterday, I had an impromptu session with my friend Laurel Bleadon-Maffei. I mentioned the synagogue in Pittsburgh and the floodgates of tears opened. “What’s the feeling inside the grief?” she asked. I thought for a moment. “Like we’re outnumbered,” I replied. “Like there is too much hate, ignorance and unconsciousness for us to stand a chance.”

This is the place of despair I’d been trying to avoid. A kind of collapse. Defeat is a familiar place for me to go. It’s hard for me to find my fight.

I’ve been doing EMDR lately. If you’ve ever experienced it, you probably know a bit about its magic. It’s a way to work with traumatic events, anxiety and other issues with the most astounding transformational effects. With the therapist I’ve been working with, I hold two small buzzers (one in each palm) that alternately vibrate in a soothing and rhythmic way. This stimulates both sides of the brain and (I believe) allows you to process more three-dimensionally.

During one of my sessions a few weeks ago, I placed myself in a scene from my childhood that was particularly charged. I watched the scene as I held these little buzzers in my hands. After a few minutes, my body began to jerk in a way I couldn’t control. “My body keeps jerking!” I said to the therapist, a little alarmed. “See what it’s trying to tell you,” she replied.

My shoulders moved forward and my chest caved in over and over again. Then I heard the words in my mind… “This is recoiling. It’s fear, disgust, terror.” I sat with it while tears streamed down my cheeks. Then something extraordinary happened.

An enormous woman with wings swooped down, like a goddess or an angel or a Renaissance painting. “Oh my god,” I said aloud. “The feminine just came in.” I don’t normally express myself this way. I rarely talk about the sacred feminine or have even fully understood the concept until this moment. But this was her.

In the vision, she wrapped my little girl self in a blanket, looked me in the eyes and said, “I’ve got you.” Then she took her gigantic hand and pointed at the person I was with who had created all that terror in me. “NO!” she boomed.

One word. No. And she carried me away.

I was stunned. And opened my eyes. “I felt her Andrea,” the therapist said. “She filled this entire room.”

I can’t remember why I am telling you all of this. Perhaps because we are all suffering as a collective, we are afraid, feeling vulnerable, trapped in a world that doesn’t feel kind or charitable. We are in our own kind of recoiling – in disgust, fear and horror.

And maybe that’s what’s needed right now. That fierce, powerful feminine to come in for us as a collective whole. To gather us up, look us in the eyes and say, I’ve got you. To point a finger to the oppressor and say “No. No more.” 

We also need the sacred masculine, defined here as:

Each of us carries within us aspects of both the sacred masculine and the sacred feminine. The true masculine is characterized by confidence without arrogance; rational thinking without a need to control; honor without a desire for war. It provides stability, strength, and courage in an ever-shifting world.

Through all these experiences – the dentists chair, talking with my friend, the EMDR – I am learning that when we open to our discomfort in a conscious way, it has the opportunity to move, to shape-shift, to instruct.

We discover resources we didn’t know we had.
We can move from flat-line mode to feeling alive again.
Creative solutions arise that would otherwise not have found a way in.

Maybe this is the best we can do right now. To show up fully and consciously for what we are all facing. To practice this kind of moving toward what hurts… not to collapse in defeat, but with the fierce love and nurture of the feminine alongside the stable strength and confidence of the sacred masculine.

 

 

My form of spiritual bypass – magical thinking.


If you have taken Mondo Beyondo, you know that one way we prepare for our dreams to come our way is to make a clearing. A clearing is a wide open space that tells the Universe you mean business. It is a space that you make in your heart, mind + home for the dreams you would like to manifest.

Even though I have been teaching this course for years, I forget how important this step is. Clearings can be anything from a de-cluttered closet to clearing your schedule for the weekend. It could be learning to set good boundaries (and saying no to activities that drain you) or having a big garage sale.

This summer has been a season of clearing. Big time.

Usually, when I make a clearing, it’s about de-cluttering, getting rid of the dust bunnies and getting all the schmutzy fingerprints off the walls. It’s going through the junk drawers and letting go of toys and clothing we don’t need.

This time though, my clearing looked a little different.

This time I needed to ask myself: What have I been afraid to look at that’s been getting in the way of my dreams coming true? The answer came immediately – money.

This was the thing I was most afraid of going into single motherhood.
I live in the Bay Area.
I’m an artist.
How the heck was this all going to work out?

And so I did a form of spiritual bypassmagical thinking.

For me, this looked like saying things to myself like: It always works out. You always figure it out. You’ll just earn more to make up for your new expenses.

As a mindset, this is actually totally reasonable! And on some level, absolutely true.

But without looking at the numbers, without creating a solid plan, my magical thinking could only get me so far. After two years, my little ship seemed to be sinking… so I called in an old photography client who is a financial advisor. As I told her my story + admitted how afraid and lost I was, I began to cry. It was the shame of putting it all out there, it was the admission of a kind of defeat, it was the vulnerability of asking for help.

She responded,”Oh Andrea, first of all, I’m so sorry. Second of all, we’re going get you through this. And you’re going to thrive.”

Through my tears, I heard one word that went straight to my heart – we. That little word assured me I had an ally in this lonely place – someone who had expertise, experience and lots of compassion.

Since then, I’ve been going through my numbers with a fine-tooth comb and really understanding where where my money is going. I’ve been looking at my numbing behaviors – media and the like – and noticing what my triggers are. (Loneliness, fear of big swaths of time without my kids, etc.)

I even created a gigantic post-it note that I see each day that details each credit card where I owe money + each place money is flowing in so that I am conscious of where I am. Each time I knock off a bit of debt it is so satisfying to cross the number off in black Sharpie and write a new one!

Mostly though, it’s bravely putting my attention on things that I’m not always comfortable looking at… seeing where I’ve been hiding + putting my head in the sand.

And here’s the best news: I’ve been feeling less afraid + more powerful.

Working with the truth has its own magic. Whatever you are hiding from, whatever truth is hard for you to face, is draining your energy. Looking at it with courage (and support) has a way of diffusing its power over you.

 

If you’re thinking about taking Mondo Beyondo, we start tomorrow! Even if you don’t take the course, consider making a clearing now. I am already feeling the transformation peeps!

P.S. If you are a Mondo Beyondo alumni, you qualify for the alumni rate! Just hit reply for the coupon code!

 

Real life magic + how it works.

10 years ago, I launched my very first online class – Mondo Beyondo! It started out as a blog post (every New Year’s eve) where I would encourage my community to ditch the resolutions in favor of the Mondo Beyondo list – a list of the most outrageously wonderful things we could imagine having in our lives. Things like: Meet Bruce Springsteen, have someone gift me a trip to Hawaii, write a bestselling book that changes people’s lives, have a baby….

By stretching ourselves into new territory this way, we calibrate our sense of what’s possible and uncover dreams we didn’t know we had. The process is intuitive and inspiring and serious magic tends to unfold from these sessions. Real life magic.

I’m proud to say that thousands of people have gone through this program over the years + it remains such a sacred offering to me.

Here’s a fun example of how Mondo Beyondo works:

When I created Mondo Beyondo, I wrote, “Have Alice Waters teach me to cook” as an example of an outrageous Mondo Beyondo dream. Her famous restaurant Chez Panisse is in my neighborhood and her renowned Edible Schoolyard is down the street from my house. We swim in Alice Waters so to speak. 😉 I was surprised when I wrote it down though because I never knew that learning to cook was a dream of mine! It was one of those dreams that surfaced from somewhere deep in my psyche and I was curious about how it would manifest.

A year later, a wonderful new friend (Samin Nosrat) and I hatched a scheme. We would do a trade. She would get Mondo Beyondo coaching and I would get a lesson in canning my favorite early girl tomatoes. This plan then got a bit more elaborate when she offered to come to my house to teach me the fundamentals of cooking based on a curriculum she was building. I was so grateful to be her guinea pig!

As I grocery shopped for our first lesson, I remembered that she used to be a chef at Chez Panisse, Alice Water’s restaurant. My Mondo Beyondo dream had come true!!!! in an even better package: in the form of Samin and a wonderful new friendship.

And guess what? That curriculum she was building turned into the NY Times bestseller – Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat + will be a show on Netflix this October 2018!) Her Mondo Beyondo dreams came true as well.

One of the things I’ve learned in the process of teaching Mondo Beyondo is that some dreams live inside other dreams.

Ideas that might seem outrageous or unnecessary actually have deeper, more precious dreams living inside of them. I get the image of nesting dolls. Inside my more outrageous dream of cooking with Alice Waters lived my dream to learn to cook simple, beautiful food. Inside that dream lives a dream that is about community and connectedness, nourishing family and tradition, and having more simple joy and pleasure in my life.

This Mondo Beyondo dream of learning to cook was like a missing puzzle piece… and with it, I was beginning to see the larger picture of my life more clearly. I was creating home.

The fall Mondo Beyondo session begins this Monday, September 10th! You can register below. Or if you’d like more details, go to this page.

And if you have taken Mondo Beyondo before, do you have any stories to share? What has come true on your list?

P.S. Alumni + scholarships rates available. Just hit reply + I will send you a coupon code for 50% off.

Don’t yuck my yum.

“Don’t yuck my yum!”

I told him this in the middle of our first Rummikub game. I had found an old set at a garage sale – the original kind from the 70’s like my grandparents used to have. I still love how the tiles feel in my hands, kind of like mah jong tiles but with numbers instead. It’s always been my favorite game.

“It’s stupid. Boring.” One of my children (who happened to not be winning at that point in the game) grumbled.

“Hey,” I said, “this game is meaningful to me. I loved it as a kid. I was excited to share it with you. It actually hurts my feelings when you say you hate it.”

“I like it!” the other one chimes in, trying to make the peace.

Maybe I shouldn’t have taken it so personally. He was tired. He likes to win (who doesn’t?) He’s just a kid after all. But it’s funny how when people yuck our yum it can hit us in an emotional place.

I had some fantasies about parenthood involving my kids painting, cooking and doing crafts with me. But alas, they would prefer to throw a football around, trade Pokemon cards or play video games. Not being a fan of any of these things, I probably yuck their yum too.

We want people to love what we love. Our joy is amplified when we share it. I think that’s why it feels so personal – like a rejection of some intimate part of ourselves.

But here’s the thing: The more we learn about something, the more curious we get about it. The more we know, the more we realize what we don’t know… and that’s where things get interesting.

This happened recently with the concept of Wabi Sabi. I thought I knew what it was – an honoring and celebration of the imperfect. You know, like the crack in the bowl and the gold filling in the cracks. But as I read Beth Kempton’s new book about wabi sabi (and interviewed her for the podcast) I started to understand how layered and complex it is. SO much more interesting and textured than I knew! In fact, it’s so complex (and woven into the fabric of Japanese culture) that even Japanese people have a hard time putting words to this concept.

There is a joy in discovering where our minds have been closed – shut down to things because we think we know… and dismissed out of hand. Football, for example. Honestly, I know very little about the game. I bet if I learned more about it, actually paid attention, (without glazing over) I might get more curious + even more interested.

Today, the invitation is to consider some of the things we’ve closed ourselves off to. Maybe something our partner loves that we scoff at? Karaoke, poker, jogging, that show on Netflix about desserts? It could be anything, really.

How would life be sweeter and more rich if we got curious?

P.S. I have 2 spots left in the project mastermind. (Starting September 7th) If you have a project you want to get done before the end of the year, this intimate coaching group will be great support! Just $350 for six weeks of group coaching.

“Andrea has a secret superpower.  It is the ability to take your tangled, disjointed, messy, rambling ideas and thoughts and give them back to you. Whole, clear, ordered and clean. Delivered in safety, with compassion and warmth.  If you are lucky enough to be a part of a mastermind group with Andrea, please don’t think about it too much, jump in and watch your dream blossom.” -Elizabeth

“I’ve been a fan of Andrea’s work for nearly two decades and have mostly admired her talents from afar. In the mastermind course I discovered yet another gift she possesses: community-building for creativity & productivity, creating a warm, supportive, and fun context to empower folks to set & achieve their goals. In a matter of minutes, we were transformed from mere strangers to advocates invested in helping each other succeed. I can’t wait to participate again.” -Kristin

“This is truly a life-changing experience, a chance for dreams to come to life, to take shape and form, and to come into concrete reality.  I can’t say enough how this Project Mastermind and Andrea’s creative coaching bring life and joy and possibility!” – Chris

 

 

Do you have a secret project in you?

We all have secret dreams. Secret little (or big!) projects that no one is waiting for, that we wonder if we are crazy to imagine, that we talk ourselves out of on the regular.

It’s that book that’s been stirring in your heart, that blog you’ve been wanting to be faithful to, the podcast idea, the e-course, the paintings you want to make into greeting cards…

What is your secret project?

Maybe you haven’t even spoken it aloud.
Maybe you initially shared it with the wrong person!
Maybe you need a safe place to get the nurturing, support and love that project needs. Maybe you just have no idea how to begin!

Earlier this year, I started a tiny project mastermind or a group of totally delightful creative women. We all have different projects (myself included!) + we met on video every week to check in, to share, to break through the stuck places, to celebrate. It was the best part of my week.

That group will be continuing! But I’d like to create a new circle + include YOU as well.

Sessions begin Friday, September 7th, 2018 at 10am PST

Fridays for 6 weeks: 9/7, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19
Time: 10am -11:15pm PST
Investment: $350-

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not so much a course as a way to get support + accountability and advice around our respective projects – ie. blogs, books, podcasts, e-courses. We will do some writing together + sharing.

I want us to have a space to create MOVEMENT and flow around whatever little seed of a dream is stirring in our hearts. To not wait. To be supported in beginning and have a place to keep celebrating the process and encouragement to keep going. Still sound good?

If so, click the link below:

Big hugs + love to each of you,
A
P.S. Not sure I mentioned, but these masterminds are tiny… 3-5 women in each pod with me. You will get a lot of coaching + attention + clarity for your project. These spots will likely go fast! So let me know if you have any questions…

This is how it turned out.

It’s tempting to be in fantasy about someday. That fuzzy, happy-ever-after when you get the job, the romantic partner, the family. The bank account is full of dough, the house is just right, you are slim and trim + know how to pick perfect avocados.

You know, when things finally turn out.

Even though my Disney fantasies of partnership and marriage have pretty well broken down, I still have some version of this someday fantasy in me. When I finally feel loved and seen, when I feel safe, when I can stand on solid ground and this ambient anxiety will go away, when my person, my true love arrives.

I still harbor the tiniest bit of hope for that.

And yet.

I do a little thought experiment sometimes and ask myself, “If you knew you were going to die in five years, then what?” Suddenly everything comes into focus – the life I actually have, the house I live in, my gorgeous kids, the relationships and friendships and love around me – THIS is how it turned out. This is that someday. The someday I fantasized about decades ago!

This is it.
It’s not perfect.
It’s ever-changing.
There are highs and lows.
But THIS is how it is.

Lao Tzu says it so beautifully below. (He wrote this poem in the 6th century. Apparently, we haven’t changed much!)

Always we hope
someone else has the answer,
some other place will be better,
some other time,
it will turn out.

This is it.
No one else has the answer,
no other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.

At the center of your being,
you have the answer:
you know who you are and
you know what you want.

There is no need to run outside
for better seeing,
nor to peer from a window.

Rather abide at the center of your being:
for the more you leave it,
the less you learn.

Search your heart and see
the way to do is to be.
Abide at the center of your being.
— Lao Tzu

This is how it turned out: Me, typing in my friend’s living room in Oakland, the sun shining outside, heading to San Francisco for a photo session later. My kids, at their dad’s house, safe, going for a swim at the rec center this afternoon.

If your this-is-how-it-turned-out reality today feels too harsh, here’s another buddhist saying that gets right to the point: Right now, it’s like this.

This one is great to practice with because it is an invitation back into the present moment. It honors the impermanence of things (our ever-changing reality) and also that this too shall pass (the good and the bad).

How do we have our desire for things to be better/different and also honor what is?

That’s the million dollar question. And it takes practice! Lao Tzu instructs us to abide at the center of our being, which is to say, speak and act in alignment with your true self, your heart, your inner wisdom… this is the path that will get you where you need to go.

 

Wabi-Sabi + a sneak peek into joy-seeking class. It starts today!

Day #3:
Wabi-Sabi

The imperfect bowl. The chipped blue nail polish on her fingers. The withering zinnias making a perfect dusty rose. Have you noticed that things that are imperfect are so much more interesting?

I love the following definition found on Japanology:

Wabi-sabi might be the Buddhist view of the facts of existence: Both life and art are beautiful not because they are perfect and eternal, but because they are imperfect and fleeting.

Whereas classical Western aesthetic ideals were of beauty and perfection, of symmetry and a fine finish, wabi-sabi is hard-nosed and realistic: Nothing lasts, nothing is perfect. Accepting these hard facts opens the door to the realistic appreciation of a deeper beauty.

I try to remember this when I am humbled by my own imperfections. When I am caught in the storm of my own inner critics telling me that I’m flawed, not good enough.

Seeing the beauty in the imperfect is a great practice. One that helps me bring more compassion to my fragile ego and tender heart.

 

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