Monthly Archives: June 2011

What’s Real (take two)

poppies at the magic hour

This piece fell into my lap this morning (I wrote it a couple of years ago) and I am amazed at how relevant it still feels… I wanted to share it with you.

Where the heck have I been? Some of you have been asking me this lately, sending sweet little emails like, Are you okay? Or, Your blog sounds, I don’t know, different.

Mostly, what I have been doing for the last several months is searching for what’s real in my life, what nourishes me most, what grounds me most powerfully in the tangible now of my life. I have been pruning, trimming, whittling away at what what no longer serves me, taking stock of all the blessings, choosing powerfully and intentionally what I want to keep.

Only some of this was self-inflicted. Sometimes the universal pruning shears come out and you are the unsuspecting, naked, bony tree shivering in the wind. The process can be painful, but I now see how essential it is for growth. Letting go of what no longer nourishes us leaves room for new fruit and stronger roots.

I am grateful for it, if not a little disarmed by the process. Growth can feel violent, like that line in Rumi’s Guesthouse about the crowd of sorrows: Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
In the wake of my clearing, I had the sense that my energy was too far-flung, dispersed in too many places, that I had been tending too many things I couldn’t touch and that I was out of balance in some fundamental way. I realized I needed to bring my focus in closer and tend things much nearer to home. And when I say this, I mean really close to home, like my actual home, my family, my neighbors, my body, my heart, my community right here in Berkeley. I had to look hard at what’s most real and true in my life.

And of course, how do you reconcile being a blogger, surfing Facebook, emailing, texting, phoning, twittering when you are on a quest to ground yourself in what is real in your life? How do these things fit in? and what am I giving up by spending countless hours online checking emails and blogs and weather reports and celebrity gossip columns? What am I not creating in my life as a result of all of the life force I give to my “friends” in cyberspace?
And this is where it gets tricky to talk about.

I have a lot of friends in cyberspace. I know you do too. We love them! They are like us! They are kindred spirits. They are creative, they care about what we care about. We wish they were in our hometown. Sometimes we graduate to phone friendships and these connections deepen even more. Still more rare and wonderful is when we get to meet them in person and confirm, Yes! you are real! and you are even better in real life. These are incredible blessings.

And yet, I realized that part of that far flung feeling was due to how many of my friendships were far from home. At least for a while, I needed to anchor myself in the realness of people I could serve tea to, whose kids I could watch, who could brave Ikea with me or help me rearrange my furniture. I put a very unofficial call out to the universe, a prayer that went something like this: Ground me in what’s real. Help me find a community here. Help me feel connected in a new way.

And very soon after that, some magical things started to happen. My upstairs neighbor asked if I’d like to cook with her every Tuesday night. We started going to the park in the evenings with Ben and getting to know all the dogs: Chuy, Fat Boy, Eddy… New friendships found me, other moms living merely blocks away. I noticed how often my neighbors just hung out outside waiting for a glimpse of someone to connect with, or to usher Ben into their house to play the guitar or pet their dog. It’s not as if I didn’t have these things before, but my attention was not there, I was not ready to appreciate them.

Some of the brightest spots in my week lately have been the nights when Holly and I cook or Wednesday nights when we watch Lost on our neighbor’s tv (we got rid of ours a while back) This sense of community is giving my heart stronger ground to stand on and a new place from which to create my life. It feels very basic, very elemental, this sharing of meals and borrowing bread crumbs. This I have never had this.

The other day, a new mom friend and her two year old were at my house playing. As we walked up I introduced her to my neighbors on both sides who happen to be outside their houses. A few minutes later, Holly knocked on the door to borrow our car for the last items in our recipe for the evening, Christina wheeled up with her baby in a stroller to see if we wanted to go to the park and Matt peeked his head out from our home office. Surrounded in that moment by literally ten people I adored, I could finally see it: I had built a community. These were the people in my neighborhood.

How do you find community? And how do you create balance between your online community and your actual life?

Superhero Photo is officially launched!

Superhero Andrea, your trusty guide, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi
The Superhero Photo site is up! And registration is now officially open.
Seriously guys, I could not be having more fun creating this course! The photo above (a self-portrait) is a great little window into one of the fun exercises we’ll be doing together.
So excited to spend the summer with you this way!

Register now!

poppies at the magic hour

poppies at the magic hour, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

If I am quiet these days, it is only because I am working hard on creating THE MOST AWESOME class for you guys. Seriously, it’s going to be amazing! To get in the mood I have been taking walks every night at the magic hour. Even fifteen minutes of strolling around my neighborhood with my camera is bringing me so much joy. I came across these poppies on my walk the other night and I must have shot them at least a hundred different ways. I couldn’t stop.

I love how this course is bringing me back to myself in a really profound way. I am touching into a playful, soulful and deeply creative place that hasn’t been nourished lately. It feels so good. Wishing for the same for you! That this summer you find deep joy, magic and the awakening of a part of you that hasn’t been tended. Sometimes we don’t even realize what’s missing until we’re being filled up again.

The designer is working on the classroom and home page now. THANK YOU to all of you who have already signed up! SO freaking excited.

The Ancient Cure for Overwhelm*

Just tweeted the following: “Thought I was so clever knowing how to multi-task! Turns out the real challenge is mono-tasking. “One thing at time” is my new mantra…”
Then I clicked over to Leonie’s video above and loved the serendipity. Leonie is amazing! If her work resonates with you I recommend her goddess circle. It includes all of her materials (e-courses, kits, etc.) I’m currently inspired by her business goddess course. Go Leonie!

SO thrilled*

fabulous wedding outfit, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Oh my goodness. Thank you guys! I have been on a high all week about this course! SO THRILLED so many of you are interested and I really can’t wait to celebrate the summer with you this way. Look out for registration info and all the details on the course on Monday or Tuesday.

BUT, if you know you are IN, you can register today.

Here are the basic details:
When: 6 weeks beginning July 11th, 2011
Where: Online, self-paced
How: Lessons/activities/goodies delivered to your inbox each day + a classroom site + private Flickr group where we can share our work and connect with each other.
Who: Anyone with a camera! No photography experience required & no fancy equipment necessary. Point and shoots work just fine.
What: 6 weeks full of photography prompts, lessons, interviews and simple technical tips to help you become a better photographer
Why: A new way into joy and gratitude
Price: $79 dollars (Register here)

A new way into joy*

Summer stripes, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Okay guys, exciting news!

Over the weekend the muse visited me. And she had a lot to say! I was taking a much needed siesta and an idea for a new class came to me, fully formed. I pulled out a notebook and could barely write fast enough to capture it. But minutes later, there it was.

It is for a Superhero Photo class. (online)

Would you like to take photos with me this summer?
When I thought about what I’d like to be doing this summer, I thought about getting out of my head and into my body. I thought of sunshine and adventure. I thought of joy and gratitude. I thought of using my hands and making things. I thought of creating.

My vision is that the class will be a new way into joy, into gratitude, into celebrating your life. You will come away with a fantastic collection of photos (for your blog, your albums, your family) while also cultivating a deep appreciation for your everyday life. Photography is a powerful way into gratitude for me, of being present and awake and looking for what is beautiful and interesting. It is an inspiring way to tell our stories.
We will do it together. And it will be fun. (No fancy photography experience necessary)

Leave a comment below or email me if this calls to you! (No pressure to sign up, just want to get a feel for interest)
P.S. I will be sharing all my secrets for taking great portraits. ;)

A story of Yes

It’s rare that one experience can completely transform you. Burn you to smithereens and you wake up brand new. That’s what the summit did for me.

This is a story of saying yes. We talk about this in Mondo Beyondo. That dreaming big is about being brave, strengthening our courage muscles, flexing our flexibility, opening to our openness. It’s being willing to be vulnerable. And if I ever wondered if I was walking the walk of Mondo Beyondo these days? A few weeks ago I might not have been completely sure. Was I the most alive version of myself? Was I going to the edges of my courage? Was I becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be? Well, today I know for sure. YES. Hell yes.
What you might not know about me is that I am afraid of public speaking. Like really, really afraid. Like panic-attack-might-not-actually-survive-in-fact-might-actually-die afraid. I avoid interviews, toasts at weddings and offering blessings at baby showers. I am called to teach but shy away from it. I don’t like giving my opinion. I sometimes get nervous leaving voicemail messages.

I’m afraid to use my voice.
But sometimes we are called to say yes anyway.

We said yes because it was such a delightful opportunity- it was Chris Guillebeau who we love, it was Portland, Oregon who I am majorly crushed out on, it was the World Domination Summit! It was an easy yes. It was an emphatic yes! even though a voice in the back of my mind shouted, Are you effin crazy girlfriend??? Do you remember what happened last time you said yes to something like this? (For those of you who don’t remember, I had my first ever panic attack. It was a doozy)

Our talk was scheduled for Sunday morning and Saturday night it happened. I went to bed and slept for about an hour and then woke up with a start. My heart pounded violently, my body would get really hot, then really shivery, I was nauseated and cold. I was alone in a hotel room without my baby. But this time I knew what was happening. And I did something really kind for myself.

I didn’t add to the suffering.

It was as if I was an old friend seated next to myself: “You’re having a panic attack and it’s really, really going to be okay. You can be like this all night. I don’t mind at all. In fact, you don’t have to sleep at all tonight and you will still be able to do that talk tomorrow. It’s no problem. We can just watch bad TV in this great hotel room. We can eat all the snickers bars in the mini bar! No matter what, you’re going to be okay.”

It was a couple of hours more of this before I fell asleep, only to wake again at 5am. But I didn’t die! ;) And I am moved by the kindness I showed myself.

And guess what? I can tell you guys this because I know you will celebrate with me. And this is a big one people.
We rocked the house.
We ROCKED the sh*t out of that talk!!!
And I felt amazing while we were up there. Alive, connected and joyous.

I prayed that I would be in my skin while we were up there, I prayed it would have an impact, I prayed that someone would be healed by it, I prayed that it would be an experience that transformed me (and maybe someone else) forever.

At the end of our talk we announced that we did something really irrational/outrageous/mondo. We told the crowd that we handwrote 500 blessings, one for each person, and pasted them underneath every single chair. There were shrieks and cheers as people read theirs. Some burst into tears. Then, very spontaneously, they stood up and cheered for us! It was truly amazing and overwhelming. I’ve never felt so brave.

On the airplane on the way to Portland, I closed my eyes and asked the universe for something. My request went something like this: Universe? Will you send me a treat this weekend? Just a little something that will remind me that someone is listening, that I am connected to source, that I am safe?”

Matt and I are a wee bit obsessed with a show on Hulu called Make it Or Break It. It’s a teen drama about a group of elite gymnasts who are trying to get to the Olympics. We LOVE this show and have invested an inordinate amount of time feeling connected to these characters. I’ve even had dreams where our favorite girl shows up.

Okay guys, so get this.

I walked out of the elevator at the hotel in Portland and guess who is there when the doors slide open? Payson Keeler, our favorite girl from Make it Or Break It! Actually, it was the actress who plays Payson, but I literally gasped and grabbed her, and made her miss the elevator, and talked really fast and told her how much I adored her and that Matt and I watch her show on Hulu every night and how she is our favorite… And she was lovely and gracious and might have even hugged me.
And as I walked away grinning wide, I realized that this was my treat from the Universe and more importantly, that something big might just be true- that it’s safe to say yes even when we’re afraid, that we are always connected to something bigger, and that we are held especially tight when we feel the most vulnerable.

*All photos above taken by Armosa Studios

World Domination Summit, here we come!

Andrea and Jen, photo by Stefanie Renee,

Andrea and Jen, photo by Stefanie Renee,
Jen and I have been working hard on our talk for the World Domination Summit! I hope to see some of you there. Looks like we’ll be in good company!
AND, we just created a brand new mailing list system on our site! To entice you to sign up with us, we are offering a very fun freebie – The Mondo Beyondo Dream Generator! Sign up for our list and you’ll get our handy tool to start manifesting your dreams right now.