Monthly Archives: March 2006


Four treasures, Imperial Tea Court, San Francisco,Canon Digital Rebel

I was fascinated to discover from my friend Gene {who ordained as a Buddhist monk and lived in a monastery in Thailand for a year} something about monk life that I didn’t know.

What I did know is that it is customary for the monks to wake up every morning around 4am, collect their alms bowls and set out into the community to receive whatever offerings they get. Some rice here, some curry there, they graciously accept whatever they are given.

What I found interesting is that the monks never actually ate what was placed in their bowls. They accepted it graciously, but had plenty of food back at the monastery. This tradition was kept alive for one reason and one reason alone – to give their community the experience of giving.

So who is really giving to whom? Or as Aretha Franklin says, Who’s zoomin who?

Only after I heard this story did I realize that I do this instinctively with my parents. They may offer advice or a story (one that perhaps I have heard many times before!) but I let them tell me afresh because I know how important it is to be able to give.

Or do you remember that feeling when your mom gives you a gift and you know that in a million years of hell freezing over you will never wear it? But in that split second you imagine her carefully picking it out and spending her hard-earned dollars and you just know in your bones that the right thing to do is to exclaim, “Oh thank you! It’s beautiful!” We do this because we want her to experience the joy of giving and we know instinctively that receiving is the only way to keep the whole machine working.

To receive graciously is giving a gift.

To give graciously is really receiving a gift.

A funny little paradox.

I suppose if we follow the wisdom of the Buddhist monks, one of the greatest gifts we can give is to bow and say thank you.

tea for two

tea cups at Lovejoy’s Tea Room,Canon Digital Rebel

If you come to San Francisco and you want to go to the sweetest, girliest place in the city, you don’t want to miss Lovejoy’s Tea Room in Noe Valley. I can’t believe that it took me 10 years to finally discover this treasure, but I’m not surprised that it was my friend SARK (queen of the dangerous tea) who showed me the ropes.

As I waited for her to arrive, I strolled around the room with my camera, taking in the vintage teacup and spoon collections and hearing giggles and laughter from groups of women eating crustless sandwiches and hot vanilla roobois. It was so girly in there! I loved it. If my friend Jason was there, he would have exclaimed, “Estrogen overload!” (which is what happened when he came with me to see Maya Angelou speak).

And as if that wasn’t girl time enough for one week, I stumbled upon a birthday party in the sand at Chrissy Field last Thursday. A group of about 15 women (who I imagine have been friends for the last 20 years or more) had set up a gorgeous table at the beach right by the water. I was so impressed by the lengths they went to to make it an elegant affair: white tablecloth, gorgeous flower arrangements, fabulous outifts, carefully wrapped gifts, and of course, an enormous chocolate layer cake. When I stopped to ask them what the occasion was, they immediately handed my friends and I a piece of cake and invited us to the party!

More inspirations:

Rama Hughes is my superhero. Rama is not only an incredibly talented illustrator, his heart is as sweet as they come. Don’t forget to read the personal stories that go along with each piece in his portfolio. {He is also the lucky fiance of the fabulous Christine Castro, who we all know and love}

The book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is my new favorite book. I am only forty pages into it and I am already convinced that I will read it over and over.

Superhero Life Coaching

Andrea, Photo by Matthew PassmoreCanon Digital Rebel

So I have been holding out on you guys just a wee bit, but today I’m ready to come clean!

As many of you know from my newsletter, I have been in an incredible training program for the last year at CTI {Coaches Training Institute} and have been growing my life coaching practice. I have already had the pleasure of working with some of you! 

What is life coaching?

Life coaching is a bit like having a personal trainer for your life. A coach is someone who helps you get clear about your visions, goals and desires and helps you reach those goals. Through coaching, you will become more skilled at choosing and creating what you truly want, leading to a more rich and satisfying life.

Do you want a job that fulfills you?
Do you have creative projects you want to complete?
Are you thinking about starting a new business?
Would you like to lose weight or focus on your health and fitness?
Would you like to find a partner or improve a current relationship?
Are you in a transition and feeling a bit lost?
Are you just feeling stuck?

These are all great places for coaching. 

My experience with coaching

Part of my enthusiasm for coaching stems from my own experience working with a coach. I have always wanted to write a book, but had never been able to complete a book proposal. I had dozens of ideas over the years and somehow got stopped every time I thought about the proposal part. (Anyone relate with this?) My coach not only created a system of accountability for me, (so crucial for those projects we have that no one is waiting for) but even more importantly, coached me through the places that had stopped me over and over again. In six weeks I had completed the proposal and submit it to a publishing company. Whether the book gets published or not, this was an incredible victory for me.

Coaching is everything from writing that book you’ve always wanted to write to creating that relationship you’ve always wanted to have. In coaching, we look at your whole life, and aim for balance and fulfillment, aliveness and joy. 

Sample Session

If you are interested in coaching and would like a sample session, please email me with your name and phone number and I will contact you to set up an appointment. Coaching is mostly done over the phone, so I can work with you wherever you are. (I have clients all over the country.)

I would love to work with each and every one of you!

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
– Goethe

first day of spring…

icelandic poppy bud, Canon Digital Rebel

I was just reminded that this is the first day of spring! I’ve been amazed watching these guys open.

“And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took
to blossom.”
– Anais Nin


icelandic poppy bud, Canon Digital Rebel

“Even if our efforts of attention
seem for years to be producing
no result, one day a light that is
in exact proportion to them will
flood the soul.”
– Simone Weil

trusting gravity

pink blossoms on Highway 5,Canon Digital Rebel

As I sat in a meditation pose yesterday at the beginning of yoga class, I imagined I was sitting at the edge of a cliff, a big sky in front of me, lots of green mountains and a deep valley. In my vision, I peeked over the edge of the cliff and I got that strange vertigo feeling, you know the one where you look over the railing on the top of a building and you are afraid you might jump? I got that woozy feeling in my belly, as I looked over the cliff in my vision. What if I jump or fall?

And then a voice inside me said, “Just trust gravity.”

I sat there trying to understand that, and in my body I got it. I am here, I am sitting down, I am safe. Gravity is holding me here. There is no reason why I would ever jump or even fall. Gravity is my friend.

And then I saw the extent to which I live in a state of anxiety all the time. Whatever this metaphorical gravity is, I am not accustomed to trusting it.


There is a teaching in buddhism that I have always been enamored with and it says, “There is never anything wrong in the moment.” I love that teaching so much that I test it out on myself all the time. I stop whatever I’m doing, get really present and ask, “Is there anything wrong here?” And really, there never is. There is just a moment. Me and a moment.

And maybe that’s the gravity I am talking about. That inevitable pull back to the moment, back to the core of myself, back to what I know is true. Back to what is. Not my fear, but what is.

Back to the place where there is nothing wrong.

Highway 5 takes you to Los Angeles

Storm, Highway 5 to Los Angeles, Canon Digital Rebel

Click here to see this photo larger. I am so excited about how it turned out because it reminds me of some paintings I fell in love with recently by Nila Oakes.

Highlights from our trip to Los Angeles this weekend:

Spending time with the Weepies, whose album was just released (in its physical form) and has been topping the folk charts on Itunes. Go Weepies!

Traveling on Highway 5 with my awesome husband, seeing gorgeous landscapes and chasing the occasional rainbow. Does anyone know if you can actually be inside a rainbow? And if you can, does your skin turn colors like when a prism hits you?

Seeing Christine Miller (aka Swirly’s) fabulous art opening at a gallery in Venice. Go Swirly!

Seeing the Ashes and Snow show at the Santa Monica pier. This is a traveling exhibit of Gregory Colbert’s photography in a huge and impressive cathedral-like building made of shipping containers. I must admit that I left the show really wanting to see some of the images printed more literally (perhaps a good old fashioned gelatin silver print) since the images were so extraordinary. I found the dreamy sepia encaustic japanese paper thing a little distracting. That said, the images were unbelievably beautiful and surprisingly not digitally created given the content.

Going to a yoga class and seeing the woman from my yoga DVD walk by me. Her name is Shiva Rea and she has a fantastic series of videos. You have to have at least one star sighting each time you are in Los Angeles, right? I missed it, but Deb spotted Rahda Mitchell going into the next class.

And finally, the best highlight of all. Stepping outside of my world, plucking myself from my computer and email and work and getting in the car and driving… Connecting with my husband and friends and getting out of my tiny orbit. Funny how the world expands so easily when I do that.

Photo Friday: Red

Red Sweaters in a tree, Canon Digital Rebel

Photo Friday’s theme this week is “Red.” Imagine my surprise this week when I came upon all of these tiny, red knitted sweaters strung in a tree like luminous holiday lights… or maybe a special kind of spanish moss.

After further exploration at I discovered that this is a project that knitters from all over are contributing to, and is a tribute to fallen soldiers in Iraq. Sadly, there are 2,220 tiny sweaters in this tree and more to knit.

Video fun

my friend’s cat in her fab bathroom, Los Angeles, Canon Digital Rebel

This video made me miss New Orleans… {via James}

This video made me laugh out loud. {via Anna}

And if you haven’t seen this video yet, please, put down what you’re doing, and download this video of Jason McElwain, the autistic high school basketball player who blew everyone away at the final basketball game of the season. {Takes a few minutes to download, just click where it says “download file”, but you will never forget this story} My favorite part is when he says, “I was hot as a pistol.”


spools of thread, San Francisco, Canon Digital Rebel

Thank you to everyone for your kind comments and emails! And just to add a little disclaimer, I want to say that there are hard days (like when I wrote the previous entry) but mostly good ones. I noticed that if you simply read that entry, you might think I am moping around being sad and hating nice pregnant ladies.

Which is really not the truth.

Really, it’s not.

Thank you again, especially for your stories.

“The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.”
– Tennessee Williams