Monthly Archives: May 2009

Guest Blogger: Maya Stein (my friend and favorite poet)

Maybe it’s all these years in tutti-frutti Northern California, or the decade spent in the cycle of New England seasons, but I’ve become very susceptible to the notions of renewal and rebirth. I love the idea of starting over, wiping the slate clean, and creating rituals around de-cluttering, deconstructing, de-stuffing my life and trying to get back to a state of purity, simplicity, and ease.

At the same time, I’ve also become enamored with states of in-betweenness. The places of not quite and almost. These are places of occasional mess and upheaval, disorder and dilemma, and they can be wonderfully creative landscapes to play in. I say “play” because I think there’s a misconception about what being in a state of in-betweenness means, and it could be a lot more interesting (and certainly more constructive) if we stop seeing it as a way station between here (where we are) and there (where we want to be).

In a few days, I’m leaving for a week-long bicycle journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the AIDS/LifeCycle event, which raises money for AIDS research and supports people living with HIV/AIDS. I have spent almost 6 months training for this 7-day, 545-mile trip, but despite this fact, I’ve had a million thoughts of “I’m not ready.” Like I hadn’t done enough, hadn’t trained enough, hadn’t prepared enough mentally. I was concerned that the miles and heat and grueling hills would prove insurmountable. And it was only the other morning, in the middle of a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, that I had an epiphany. What if there was no such thing as “hot” or “windy” or “freezing?” What if it was just called “weather”? What if I stopped thinking in terms of miles and used the word “space” instead? And what if there was no such thing as “uphill” or “downhill” and it was simply called “the path”? When I let myself relax into this place of non-judgment, of neutrality, I began to forget about the way the wind was whipping me around on the span, threatening to topple me from my bike. I stopped noticing the cold, how I should have put on another layer, maybe covered my ears. I could ignore the traffic, and even the fact that I’d left my bike shoes at someone’s house and had to manage on my pedal clips with my tennis sneakers. I forgot about how far I was going. And I found myself edging away from that potential discomfort and unease and moving, instead, into a feeling of being completely okay. It was just weather. The distance was just space. I was just on a path.

What does this have to do with rebirth or renewal, or for that matter, with states of in-betweenness? I think it’s easy for us to think that if we clear enough space and create a ritual around simplifying our life, something new will open up and we will be able to identify and advance toward what we want, what we’re meant to be. And yes, sometimes it’s true – we really need to slash and burn in order to get down to what matters, to get back to ourselves again. But “starting over” can also be an illusion, a distraction, a way to get out of touch with where we are. It can make us think something is wrong with our present tense, or more specifically, that something is wrong with us. That we need to make grand, sweeping changes in order to reconfigure, recharge, be reborn. But where we are can actually have lots of information and instruction for us, lots of color and shape and wisdom and opportunity. It can be a place to spring from, not escape, a launching pad rather than a dead end.

We are so hard on ourselves, trying to be superheroes all the time, expecting enormous things to happen so quickly and efficiently and perfectly. We get impatient, think ourselves inexpert, foolish, graceless, wasteful, doddering, tedious, afraid, weak, less than. We forget who we are. We forget what we know. And we forget what we’re capable of, exactly as we are with exactly what we know. Maybe we can learn to be a little gentler on ourselves. To stop telling ourselves we need to change so much so soon. This is the weather. This is space. This is the path we’re on. It’s expansive and gorgeous and rich with possibility, and best of all, it’s ours. Why would we want to start anywhere else?


how to climb a mountain

Make no mistake. This will be an exercise in staying vertical.
Yes, there will be a view, later, a wide swath of open sky,
but in the meantime: tree and stone. If you’re lucky, a hawk will
coast overhead, scanning the forest floor. If you’re lucky,
a set of wildflowers will keep you cheerful. Mostly, though,
a steady sweat, your heart fluttering indelicately, a solid ache
perforating your calves. This is called work, what you will come to know,
eventually and simply, as movement, as all the evidence you need to make
your way. Forget where you were. That story is no longer true.
Level your gaze to the trail you’re on, and even the dark won’t stop you. 

You can find Maya’s poetry on her web site, and more of her prose here.

Guest Blogger: Jen Gray

You are in for a treat. The fabulous, talented and creative Jen Gray made the most incredible video just for you… Thank you friend!

Guest Blogger: Tracey Clark (founder of Shutter Sisters)

In theory, the idea of clearing out the old to make room for the new makes perfect sense. I believe that energy moves about freely when there is proper space to do so. I have experienced the freeing feeling of sorting and cleaning. I know that when you let go of something that is no longer serving you that often something wonderful comes along in its place. Even still, after first hand experience, it is easier said than done.

There are times in my life when I have been unstoppable, even super-human in my efforts, energy and enthusiasm to make changes, clear the clutter, purge and process. But there are other times—like recently—when every effort feels so difficult; excruciating even. The letting go of stuff is exhausting enough (if you saw my office, closets and garage you’d know what I mean) but beyond that, it’s the soul clutter that’s got me feeling debilitated.

Since the work of it all feels too overwhelming to face, my hope is that I continue my baby steps toward order (even in the tiniest little snippets) the rest will follow. In other words, my plea to the Universe is for much needed help. My hope, my wish, is that if I continue to slowly, deliberately clear the clutter around me, my efforts will be mirrored in my soul. I can only try. And hope.

When I think about it too much, I get paralyzed, afraid of letting go. Or perhaps it’s fear of what’s to come. Fear of failure? Fear of success? Fear of being totally naked and exposed, stripped of all my external and internal cover-ups? I have no idea but my guess is it’s probably a little of all of that. Regardless of what demons I am up against, I know it’s time. I feel it in my bones. And I know that if I truly believe everything I have always said I believe, I will keep moving forward trusting that when I ask for help, and keep my heart open to it, help will be graciously given. After all, a dandelion is never asked to do its work alone. It’s the gift of the wind; the nudge of gentle breath that helps it let go of what it’s holding onto. And we all know what’s possible when it finally lets go.

Tracey can be found taking small steps toward clarity at Mother May I and sharing the images and stories that guide her on her journey at Shutter Sisters. Self-portrait above captures her amidst the literal clutter in her closet..

Guest Blogger: Jen Lee

Fate and Fortunes—A To-Do List with a Twist

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by either not knowing what to do or knowing so many things to do that you’re not sure where to begin? Here’s a great exercise that will activate your intuition and free you from the boredom of traditional to-do lists.

1. Sit down and cut paper into strips, fortune-cookie style.

2. Even if you don’t think you know what to do, look at the strip and listen. What do you already know to do? Right it down, even if it is the smallest of actions. Chances are, you have a string of these. Then ask the question in different ways. Imagine yourself, next week. Ask your future version, What would you be happy to have already completed? Right that down. What is an unlikely action that could make the biggest difference of all? What’s another one?

3. When you’ve finished asking the question those three ways, fold the slips of paper and toss them into a bowl. We’re conjuring up your best inner magic here, so pick a lovely bowl or a whimsical cup. Something you picked up on a trip to Cambodia or inherited from your grandmother. Something that you can trust to hold your future.

4. Then place your future inside. All of the folded strips go in. Stir. Grab a candle or a stick of incense and set it in front of the bowl. Fix your imagination and your mind on your intention for the week or for the day, and light it.

5. Then pick out a strip. It is now your assignment, the action you can trust is for you to take, right now. Complete your action and repeat this process as long as your energy allows.

6. When you know it is time to rest, blow out your candle and walk away.

You can have trust for all the things you didn’t do, knowing that your purpose will unfold just as it should. Perhaps you will draw some of those actions from the bowl tomorrow, or perhaps they were not your actions to take.

Celebrate the power of the actions you completed, and repeat this process as often as you like until your intention is complete.

(This post and the above photo courtesy of the incredible writer and storycatcher Jen Lee Photo of Jen Lee is by Jen Lemen )

Guest Blogger: Karen Walrond (from Chookooloonks)

I’ve known Andrea for about three years now, and like many of you, I’ve always held her in surpremely high regard. So when she asked me if I’d be interested in guest posting for her while she took a break, there was no way I was going to say no. “Do you have any idea what you’d like me to contribute?” I asked.

“How about something related to renewal or rebirth?” she responded.

I smiled. If there’s something I know about these days, it’s renewal and rebirth.

Six months ago, I was still practicing law, working 20 hour days, missing my husband and my daughter, and wishing that I could live a life that was more fulfilling, rather than draining. And finally, after tons of budget calculations, talks with my husband to make sure he was on board, and encouraging comments from good friends (including, of course, Andrea), I took the leap, and left my analytical, corporate life, for a creative, entrepreneurial one.

It hasn’t always been easy. I’ve made several missteps: I’ve taken freelance gigs that seemed too good to be true (and were); I’ve fretted about our personal budget, and worried about the tanking economy. But through it all, despite it all, I’m still here — and frankly, happier than ever. And it turns out, six months later, there’s one very important thing that I’ve learned, the one thing which, really, I always knew on a subconscious level, but have come to really consciously appreciate:

Intuition is a powerful, powerful thing.

In the past 6 months, I’ve come to the firm, unshakable belief that in fact, we have all the answers. Each of us do. That within us, if we just stop and listen, there is enough guidance to let us know whether the path we’re about to take is the right one for ourselves. That if we all just take a moment to quiet our minds and listen to our hearts, we’ll know exactly what to do.

That the secret to renewal, to rebirth, to metamorphosing into exactly what we’re meant to be is to just be still and listen. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. It just takes conscious, determined practice. I’m not perfect at it, but I am getting better. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

And on that note, here’s to learning to listen to our inner voices. May we all become as great as we were all meant to be.

(This post and these photos courtesy of the beautiful and talented Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks )

A Spring Clearing*

The fabulous Vivienne, shot with TTV contraption, Canon Rebel Xti

This is the last photo I took before my camera went kaput! The shutter closed and never opened again, and I have to admit, because I am superstitious, my first thought was, Even camera knows I need to take a break…

And so I will.

To heal (I have been sick for a month and a half now)
To write (Jen Lemen and I have a whopper of a good thing in store for you)
and to create space for something new to be born.

I have been in clearing mode lately, cleaning the house, selling off everything I can, moving to a different studio space, simplifying my schedule… all because I feel so strongly that something new is trying to emerge.

But I am not leaving you high and dry. No way… You are in for a treat. There will be a series of guest bloggers here, super inspiring friends of mine who have a lot of talent and wisdom to share. I have chosen the theme of spring clearing for them to muse on. I love the idea of creating space for new dreams, new adventures and new joys to find us when we create space for them.

Guest Blogger – Matthew Passmore (aka “the Husband”)

Greetings Readers of the Superhero blog!

For the remaining weeks of May, Andrea will be taking a much-deserved break from blogging, and will be opening this space to a series of dear friends and fellow bloggers (and a husband who just happens to know her Movabletype password).

I, of course, am going to use my moment in the spotlight for some shameless self-promotion. But bear with me – there could be something in it for you…

As you may know, I am a conceptual artist and urbanist, a founding member of the Rebar art collective and the creator of a project called “PARK(ing) Day.”

PARK(ing) Day is an annual event where citizens transform metered parking spaces into temporary parks and other types of social places – from parking spaces to people places! PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when Rebar converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in an area of San Francisco that is underserved by public open space.

The original “PARK(ing).”

What began as an experiment in reclaiming and remixing public space has grown into a global phenomenon: PARK(ing) Day 2008 included more than 500 park installations in over 100 cities on four continents. Citizens in urban centers around the globe recognize the need for new approaches to making the urban landscape, and realize that converting small segments of the automobile infrastructure – even temporarily – can alter the character of the city, and create rich new territories for generosity, artistic and political expression, experimentation and play.

PARK(ing) Day around the globe. 

PARK(ing) Day 2009 is Friday, September 18th. And, I have two exciting announcements for you: First, Rebar has built the PARK(ing) Day Network, an online social network that will serves as the information clearinghouse and the living archive of the project. If you intend to participate in PARK(ing) Day 2009, are a member of the press, or would just like more information about the project, please visit:

Second, I am pleased to announce the OFFICIAL PARK(ING) DAY T-SHIRT DESIGN CONTEST!
You could win US$1,000 and have your design seen and worn worldwide! The competition is open to anyone and ends June 29, 2009. For more information and the complete guidelines and official rules, tap that image:

And please help us spread the word~!

Looking for a studio mate*

Times are changing and my current studio mates are moving and on to other adventures! I am on the hunt for another wonderful artist/designer/creative person to share my Berkeley studio with. The studio is at Activ Space which is a building full of artists, hobbyists and the like. It is an inspiring (and affordable) space and I am excited to find someone to work with.

If you are looking for a studio or office space to do your work or you know someone in the Bay area that might be interested, please email me and let me know! [email protected]

the best sound in the whole world*

Every year I make a list of people I’d like to meet…and I got to meet one of those people last night! The fabulous Amy Krouse Rosenthal. She is the creative mind behind the Beckoning of Lovely film project and is the author of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (in addition to several children’s books)

She gave me Little Pea for Ben, and the film above shows what happened when we gave it to him this morning. I have never seen him laugh over a book in my life. I suspect he could really relate to the a character who didn’t want to eat what was on his plate. Adorable.