Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ready. Fire. Aim.

heart stencil up the street, my boots, shot with iphone 4S

I was chatting with my friend Laurie the other day and expressing my confusion about some new directions in my creative business. I admitted that I had been walking (literally through the streets) for a couple of days in a wobbly fog. Praying clarity would find me if I walked long enough. She responded, “I heard the best thing recently – Ready, fire, aim!”

At first I thought she just said it wrong, but then I got it. Ready, fire, aim. Genius! And I kept coming back to it in the days that followed. Ready, fire, aim. This is often how the creative process unfolds. We are not always clear. Sometimes we have to throw some spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

It’s great when we know exactly which direction to head in, when we can see our destination and just need to keep showing up until we’re there. We ready ourselves, we hone in on where we are going and then we leap. My linear mind loves this kind of clarity and purpose.

But what about when we’re confused? When our next steps are unclear? When even the destination is blurry? Enter paralysis. Stuckness. Confusion. And I find that the longer I am confused, the more my confidence gets stripped away.

This is what happens to me: I start thinking a lot. I process with a lot of people, I go to therapy, I call my psychic. And sometimes that does the trick. Somewhere in these conversations I find my intuition. I find the resonance, the choice that feels most alive in me. My aiming process has a lot to do with extroversion. I tend to think better when I am sharing with others so I often find clarity in conversation.

But lately, about many things, I have felt lost. Is this the right choice? or is that? This path or that one? I feel wobbly and lost and like I have a broken GPS system.

But then I heard those 3 little words- Ready, fire, aim. And I got it.

Just do something, anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s the perfect thing. You can course correct later.

My friend Kelly Rae has a great philosophy about making her artwork. “There are no mistakes!” she assures me as we squeeze tubes of paint onto palettes and collect pretty pieces of paper for collage. “Just throw shit down! Whatever color delights you, grab it. If you get stuck, close your eyes and pick another bottle. It doesn’t matter because there are no mistakes, just an unfolding that gets richer and more interesting as it grows.”

How’s that for some metaphor?

If you are stuck, confused or feeling wobbly these days, you are not alone. Let’s ready, fire, aim together and keep the energy and aliveness moving.

Let’s not wait for the perfect anything. Let’s just say yes and go.


The sweetest kind of joy

Nico and dada

Sometimes the very best photos are the snapshots. The ones from your camera phone or point and shoot that you just snap, unplanned, with no concern for F stops and apertures. This photo above is one of those, a moment of pure joy with my boys that I am so grateful to have captured.

Note: I hope to write more this week, but I have a repetitive stress injury in my arm that is limiting my ability to type. If I owe you an email, my apologies for my slow response time right now!

Good things

Nico, 19 months, pudge

1. Nico’s first fully formed sentence- As we drove home from the beach last weekend, the car was quiet since we were all wiped out from the sun. Out of nowhere, Nico shouted, “I love puppies!!!” Matt and I looked at each other in disbelief. Did he just say he loves puppies?

So we pushed it a but further.

Me: Nico, do you love mama?
Nico: I love mama!!!
Me: And dada?
Nico: I love dada!
Me: And puppies?
Nico: I love puppies!

This story will be archived for his wedding one day.  And I think we might have a puppy in our future!

2. The Soul*full Summit started yesterday! It’s a free interview series on the topic of fearlessness hosted by Catherine Just! and I am honored to be part of it. You can register here.

3. My friend Mati’s gorgeous new book! Daring Adventures in Paint: Find Your Flow, Trust Your Path, and Discover Your Authentic Voice This book is GORGEOUS. I am so proud of her. If you feel a call to grow your painting practice, or begin exploring your creativity, this is a great place to start. It is SO inspiring.

4. There are people in this world who think the world of you. This love letter reminded me how important it is to tell them. So moved Jill, thank you!

Strawberry monster, iphone 4S

5. Strawberry Monster- Ben found this little guy in his breakfast. He is definitely my son.

Sponsor Spotlight: Chris Guillebeau + LeahCreates

Looking for ways to turn your passion into a successful business? If so, our lovely June sponsors may have the spark of inspiration (and know-how) you need. If you’d like to become a sponsor, we’d love to have you. Just send a quick email to Amber at: [email protected] to get all the details.


Chris Guillebeau – The $100 Startup

Imagine a life where all your time is spent on things you want to do.

 Imagine handing a letter to your boss that says: “Dear Boss, I’m writing to let you know that your services are no longer required. Thanks for everything, but I’ll be doing things my own way now.”

In The $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau shows you how to lead a life of adventure, meaning and purpose – and earn a good living too. Here, finally distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment.

You don’t need an MBA, a business plan or even employees! It’s all about finding the intersection between what you love to do and what other people will pay for.

The $100 Startup is packed with 300 pages of action to get you on your way. Or come meet Chris and a fun group of independent-minded people in a city near you on The $100 Startup Tour. There may even be cupcakes…


Leah Shaver – LeahCreates

LeahCreates makes websites for creative entrepreneurs (artists, yoga teachers, coaches, etc). My designs are clean and professional, with a whimsical edge. I pride myself in making my clients’ personalities truly shine through their web presence. I have several website offerings, starting at as little as $750. All are built on the WordPress platform so that you can manage your content (including a blog!) on your own.

Additionally, I offer web presence consulting and content strategy so we can make your web presence truly work for you and your business. Visit me at

Tintypes at Photobooth SF + dear friends

Tintype of Andrea Scher, from Photobooth SF

Tintype of Marcia Gagliardi, from Photobooth SF

Way back in November when we both turned the big 4-0, my dear friend Marcia gifted me a date at Photobooth SF to get our tintypes done. It took us until last week to pull off, but it was such a sweet celebration of our long and dear 20 year friendship.

I met Marcia when I arrived in Venice Italy in 1991, ready to spend the year studying Italian (the language, the food, the boys!) That first day off the boat, we each scanned the crowd and decided- yep, she’s the one. We spent so much time together that we could finish each others sentences (in italian and english) and called ourselves the gemelli sisters.

We had many adventures that year. We walked through the endless maze cobblestone streets. We ate pressed fresh mozzarella sandwiches every day. We entertained movie stars. We smoked a lot of cigarettes. Marcia taught me to have fun and cut loose. She taught me to be loud and free and do everything with reverence. I am forever grateful.

One of my favorite memories of Marcia though is from years later- the day I made my debut as part of the gospel choir at Glide Memorial church. I remember being terrified, singing my heart out, and looking out at the congregration. There was Marcia in the third row, tears streaming down her face, mouthing the words “I’m so proud of you” over and over again.

This memory is permanently etched in my mind – a moment of pure love.

These days Marcia is rockstar food writer. If you live in SF, you have likely read her reviews or subscribe to her newsletter Tablehopper. Maybe you even got her book!. She also just recently became the contributing food editor for 7×7 Magazine. As you can see, I could go on and on.

As I write this, I hope Marcia can see the tears welling up in my eyes and me mouthing the words “I am so proud of you” over and over again.

Forgot how to play? Rest? Dream Lab to the rescue!

Finding my playful side with my big boy Ben, iphone 4S

One of the brilliant bits of advice I received from my husband during my recent parental meltdown was this: Ben is five. And he’s a boy. This means he just wants to PLAY. He wants to wrestle you to the ground, throw stuff at you and have (you animatedly) say, “Ahhh! You got me!”

It sounds so simple in my mind, but it turns out that play is a huge learning edge for me. Especially when I’m under a lot of grown-up type stress. Major challenge. But I am committed to finding ways to play more with my boys so we can connect more deeply. To let go and have more fun.

Dream Lab – A summer filled with rest, play and kindness.

Two years ago, we launched the very first Dream Lab. We decided that we would set down our Mondo Beyondo lists for the summer and do an experiment instead: What would happen if we consciously cultivated the qualities of rest, play and kindness in ourselves? What would shift in our lives? Where would we become unstuck? What would come alive in us?

That summer was transformative. And I am SO excited to do it again. Hopefully with you.

What’s in store for you!

1. Experiments in Play: We know that theoretically we all want to be more playful, but getting there is another story entirely. Every Monday we’ll start out the week with a simple invitation to break out of your mold and let your hair down. In order to make Mondays fun, fast and easy, we’ll help you assemble your very own Play Kit, so you’ll have practical inspiration ready when you need it.

2. Love Letters from the Universe: These are inspirational messages delivered directly to your inbox designed to keep you engaged with the idea that you can let yourself do less, rest more and dive in to more joy and delight. We promise whatever we send will be a fast and easy read.

3. Secret Missions: This is a once-a-week hands on activity that we invite you to do with the wider world. Secret Missions are designed to energize you and make you feel connected and happy. Our secret mission collaborators include: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Andrea (Hula) Jenkins, Katherine Center, Mark Thomas, Patience Salgado and Tracey Clark.

4. Simple Sundays: This is a once-a-week experiment in rest and renewal in the tradition of Sabbath, a sacred ritual observed for centuries for different reasons by people from all walks of life. We’ll practice new and creative ways to slow down and make more space for kindness and rest to transform our lives.

5. A buffet of goodness: The Dream Lab is designed to be a buffet of goodness–take what appeals to you and leave the rest behind. There is no journaling in the Dream Lab, no heavy processing and no obligation to do anything but read a quick email each morning and respond to wherever your heart is calling you. We expect this to be a light, enjoyable and renewing time!

Dream Lab starts next Monday, June 18th

P.S. If you have ever taken a class with me, you are eligible for an alumni discount! Email me for the coupon code! [email protected]

Because – I love you.

Self-portrait with Nico

The gift of vulnerability

This is a piece I wrote in my writing class yesterday. I had no intention of sharing it, but when I read it aloud in class (through sputtery tears) I looked up and saw that we were all a bit teary. On a day when I felt so alone, so fragile and wanting to hide, there was a table full of women nodding their heads saying, I’ve been there… And guess what? That was enough to change everything. It didn’t fix my problems, but helped me to hold them (and myself) with more compassion.

I share this as a window into one of my harder days, in the hopes that if you find yourself in these words, you will breathe a sigh of relief. You are not alone. And neither am I.


Because he is only five. Because I’m trying, really trying. Because I’m stressed out. Because I wonder if we’ll ever stop worrying. Because I promised I would do no harm. Because I don’t want to yell.

Because I miss my boy. Because I don’t want to do it like my parents. Because I want to be far away. Because I want to hide. Because I feel like an infection. Because I’m tired. Because I don’t know what to do. Because I feel stuck. Because I feel like a horrible blot.

Because I worry about food – who’s eating it, how I’m going to make it, how we’re going to fill the fridge. Because I want everybody to like me. Because I want to feel confident and secure. Because I don’t know how to do anything anymore. Because I am lost.

Because Nico is still a baby. Because I don’t want to miss out. Because I hope I haven’t blown it already. Because I’m humbled and crushed by it all. Because I feel the crazy of my lineage moving through me, not my crazy but theirs. Because all it took was that telemarketer from Heifer calling me to send me into compulsive sobs for the rest of the night. Because I’m cracking up and not sure why. Because I want to fix what’s wrong with me.

Because Ben is like me. Because Ben is just five. Because Ben doesn’t know. Because Ben is just playing.

Because I go to those scary places in my mind. Because sometimes I think they’re better off without me. Because now I’m crying. Because I needed to get this out. Because I want someone to rescue me. Because life is hard. Because I feel like a fraud. Because you should not be tortured by this list anymore. Because this is embarrassing.

Because I don’t know where to go from here. Because I’m trying my best. Because I want to be a better person. Because something about this is not mine, but has been handed to me. Not my crazy, somebody else’s. Because I want to do better than they did. Because I love my boys. Because I want to feel the real love coming my way. Because there is so much in the way. Because I feel like damaged goods. Because I want to move past that. Because this is my work and I’m tired.


Are you a feaster? A re-frame on the age old question, What do you do?

The many masks (or hats) of the Mexican superhero, lucha libre masks in the Mission, SF

We wear many hats

I remember the moment so clearly. I described the many hats I wear (the things I do creatively and professionally) to my brand new coach and the all too familiar sheepishness was setting in.

Every time someone asks me what I do, I flush a bit. “It’s hard to explain,” I sort of stutter. “I kind of do a lot of things. I am an artist and a life coach. I teach online classes in creativity and personal growth. Oh, and I’m a blogger. And a photographer, but not really professionally. Oh, and I kind of write…” blah blah blah. I trail off and get totally gripped by my inner critics. They shout in my head: You’ve got to pick something one day! You’ve got to be an expert at SOMETHING. Jack of all trades, master of none…!

At these moments I feel like an imposter everything.

And then this new coach surprised me. She was delighted and exclaimed, “Oh! You’re a feaster!”And this suddenly felt like a good thing, an acknowledgment. It was a powerful re-frame of the seeming mish-mosh that is my creative life.

She went on. “A feaster. You know, someone who can’t just pick one thing. That would be boring for them. They want to feast at the buffet of life, not just put one thing on their plate!”

Thank god for great coaches. This conversation changed my life.

Are you a feaster?

Do you have a similar gremlin that shows up when you describe what you do?
Or maybe you have a different gremlim? What do you do? can be one of the most triggering questions in our lives.

How do you deal with that question? And would a re-frame come in handy? Let me know in the comments below.


What if you could capture the magic?

Dappled light that caught my eye, shot with iphone 4S

This is the moment

You are walking along the sidewalk and you see something in your path. A flash of cherry red gleams in your periphery and piques your curiosity. Your heart leaps a little. Do you remember what it was like to find a treasure on the ground when you were little? A shine of copper, a glint of silver, a beautiful rock or a piece of seaglass.

You lean forward and bend down, sure that you have found gold or something better? This is the moment. The treasure is a hunch. A whisper of something beautiful. A nugget, or maybe a diamond in the rough, something with a secret.

In this case, it is a candy wrapper sitting in the fresh grass. You consider it. Why did it make you smile? What made your heart leap? Was it the juxtaposition of cherry red and apple green? Was it the nostalgia of that particular gum you used to love?

You could walk away. “It’s just a candy wrapper…. “ you think. Dismiss it. The moment has passed.

But what if you could capture something of that magic you witnessed?  (Like, with your camera!)

What if your hunch was right? What if it is even more beautiful than you thought? What if, composed just the right way, you could capture the spirit, the essence of that ephemeral thing you witnessed? This is what we will be practicing in Superhero Photo and Elevate the Ordinary. That moment that gives you pause and your heart flutters a bit. We will be cultivating more and more moments like these.

We will be like bird watchers, waiting patiently with our binoculars for that one, miraculous moment.

Want to take better photos this summer?

I have two class offerings for people like you! Who love to take photos but don’t know about all those fancy dials. Have no fear! We will transform the way we take photographs by focusing on a little bit of the tech stuff and lot on lighting your creative spark so that you begin to see opportunities for photos everywhere and begin to understand how to make your everyday world come alive.

Elevate the Ordinary begins Monday, June 4th (latecomers are welcome)

Superhero Photo: The Basics begins Monday, July 9th