Monthly Archives: June 2010

the beauty of imperfection*

Recently, while watching the live stream of the TEDx Houston conference (I had hoped to catch my friend Brene Brown but she had already done her talk) I came across the architect Dan Phillips. If you haven’t heard of him already, you can fall in love with him in the above video.

He makes the most extraordinary and artful homes out of repurposed materials (stuff headed for the landfill, burn pile or salvage) He can make cathedral ceilings out of discarded picture frame corners, floors out of old wine corks and walls out of shattered mirrors. He also insists that the family he builds a home for helps in the actual construction process. I love that beauty and artistry are not sacrificed at all in this process, but imperfections are highlighted and celebrated.

One of the things he said in his talk that I can’t get out of my mind is this: (I’m paraphrasing) “If you have one cracked tile, it’s a flaw. If you have several pieces of cracked tile, you have a pattern.”

This thought/principle about design makes me exceedingly happy.

It also reminds me of something I (think) I read in Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. She said, (Again paraphrasing) In one particular culture (India?) they intentionally build a flaw into the design of every building they construct. This honors the imperfections of humanity.

Perfect is something we often strive for, but in the end it is hardly more beautiful or wonderful than the imperfect way of real. The gaps in the front teeth, the vulnerable and tender heart that feels hurt, the way that Ben calls blimps “plumps” and we refuse to correct him.

Think of all the ways you love the imperfections today. Maybe not in yourself (that’s the graduate level seminar) but perhaps in others, in your home, in the artful world around you.

A long summer of butt jokes

Ben, Colorado, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Just returned from a very summery time visiting my sister and her family in Colorado! I’ve been taking the Dream Lab class to heart-playing, resting and trying to be kind to myself. It must be working! (Matt and I even had a silly string fight last week, which I seriously recommend.)

Just after landing back at SFO, we were all waiting on the tarmac to be let out of the plane. The plane was completely silent, everyone a little impatient to get to their destination.

Ben suddenly announces loudly: I LOVE my daddy! I LOVE my dada!
(I could see people’s faces relax into an oh-what-a-lovely-boy-type expression.
Ben: And I love YOU mama!
Me: Thanks Ben…
(more smiles on people’s faces)
Ben: And I LOVE LOVE butt! I love to eat butt!!!
Me: Okay Ben, that’s enough. That’s enough.

Blissed out expressions of passengers turn to either expressions of surprise or peals of laughter.

The butt thing is big in our house these days. I’m assuming it’s like a 3 year old developmental milestone? One the pediatrician never told us about? I have a feeling this is a long phase. ;)

Guest Post by Jen Lemen: Jumping Over Fear

There’s this white hot panic I have at my back sometimes when it comes to my dreams. If you don’t get it together now (or at least soon!) the moment will pass and you will have missed your chance. Hurry, hurry, it whispers. The clock is ticking.

Everyone responds to this pressure differently. Some of us get it together and ramp up. We cover our bases, we try harder. We make sure that whatever is in our power to do, gets finished-and fast. Others of us make our foot long to do lists and immediately sink into overwhelm, declaring ourselves not-like-the-others. We’re paralyzed with fear and indecision, and wonder what “the others” have that we’re missing.

And then there are those of us whose approach is a little bit of both. We try a little, freak a little more, somehow holding on to the hope that we’re not a lost cause. We do the best we can, but there’s still those white hot panic moments-those times we feel the pressure and pray we can rise to the occasion even while we are very worried that we can’t.

What I’m realizing in my own white panic moments is that whenever I get like this, it’s usually because I’m deep into the belief that I’m in it alone. That I can’t let up for one minute, because if I don’t keep moving, nothing is going to happen. That I can’t even let myself begin, because no one has my back. It’s this state of mind that takes a red marker and draws a bold line right through possibilities like:
The Universe
hope, kindness, love
community and friendship

I think in the end, it all comes down to trust. Can I trust that there is anyone else on this planet who is invested in me doing well and would love to be in it with me? Can I trust that if I stop go, go, going for one day or one hour or one minute, a kind of universal goodness will catch me when I fall? Can I trust that there’s something mysterious out there that every once in a while shows up with the magic when I need to know I’m not alone?

Sometimes my yeses are slow to these questions. I have times when I’m not always sure, and that, my friends, is when it’s time for an old-fashioned experiment. Just like the laboratory scientist established the parameters of her investigation, I set up the test.

What happens when I slow down enough for a good night’s sleep?
What happens if I ask for help to get to the next step?
What happens if I take my eye off the calendar and do what’s right in front of me right now?

This summer we’re setting up a very specific test in the Dream Lab. We’re trying to find out what will happen if we set aside our Mondo Beyondo dreams for one whole summer and let ourselves sink into rest, play and kindness to ourselves and the people around us. And we’re not just saying that. We really want to know want to know. We’re craving the kind of joy and magic that shows up whenever you know-you really know-you’re not in it alone. We’re building our hypothesis on the expectation that all kinds of good things happen when you’re willing to loosen up and let go.

It’s truly hilarious when hard-working, perfection obsessed people like me or Andrea take things like this on. Because we can’t do it halfway, and before you know it, you find yourself in your driveway, asking your eight year old and his friends to spray you with silly string while you jump rope (yes, grownups, we can still play!) while your eleven year old conducts the photo shoot. (see ridiculous picture above)

Or you can’t stop trying to rip the Bubble Yum out of your kid’s hands just in case you can blow a bigger bubble.


Or you start fantasizing about where else you could leave hope notes that would really help you keep going.


Or you get really excited because the rest you need just might be found in a summer salad next door once a week with people who love you like parents. Or you start to realize that nothing bad will happen if you sit down and write yourself a letter in a tone very different from the one you take with yourself whenever you make a mistake. Or you discover that your dreams feel more possible after such a short time of taking exquisite care of your well-intentioned, rumpled, far less-than-perfect self.

If any of this resonates with you, if you’re the kind of girl who needs more space to play and rest and a certain kind of permission to be more gentle, with yourself and others, than I hope you’ll join me for Dream Lab this summer. Everything you need to know is right here and it’s not too late ever to discover that real dreams come true whenever we dare to bet on a little bit of joy and an unexpected dose of kindness and courage.

Come play with us!

Shutter Sisters Book*


I am so honored to be part of the Shutter Sisters book that is coming out soon soon…! It is called Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart and is available for presale now. It is part inspiration, part how-to, giving every photographer (professional or not) a way into more expressive work. If you’ve ever visited Shutter Sisters, you know that’s what we’re all about- making beautiful work and offering tips that are accessible to all of us who love to photograph our lives.

I was honored to be asked to write the chapter on portraiture! So you’ll see a lot of my work in there. Also featured are the super talented: Karen Walrond, Sarah Ji, Irene Nam, Maile Wilson, Jen Lemen, Tracey Clark, Kate Inglis, Stephanie Roberts, Paige Balcer. This book is going to be beautiful.

Interview with Jen and Andrea about dreaming*

Jen Lemen and I were so honored to be interviewed by the ever-inspiring SARK for the inaugural session of her class on dreaming! (Yes, we are kindred spirits. Great minds think alike! ;) You can listen to a few minutes of the full interview below to get a taste of what SARK’s Dream Boogie course is like and also the philosophy behind Mondo Beyondo.

Both courses are currently enrolling!

You can listen to the interview by clicking here

20 weeks*

Self-portrait, 20 weeks today, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Taking my own medicine and taking a rest day!

And thank you for all of those FABULOUS names for boys… Seriously, I don’t have to google boy names anymore. We have the best list right here. I’ll keep you posted.

Create what you most need to find*

Me, last year when I was feeling more Superhero-like!, Canon Digital Rebel XSi 

Create what you most need to find… I’ve come back to this thought so many times and see it’s truth revealed over and over. I can see now that this is what happened when I was going through those years of infertility. I felt alone and afraid and deeply wanted the comfort of other women and their stories. When I started blogging about my journey (miscarriage and then struggles around pregnancy later) I thought I was offering up a gift to my community, a gift to other women who might be going through the same thing. This was true, yes. But like with any real gift, we often receive even more than we could have imagined, just in the giving of it. The outpouring of love, support, prayers, wisdom and kindness I got was what carried me more gracefully through that painful time. 

Create what you most need to find… I’ve been needing to find rest rest for a long time. Or rather, I’ve been practicing rest (and failing at it too), which is to say, I am wanting to feel like enough even when I’m standing still.

I’ve gone on media cleanses, joined my public library, gave myself permission to not go out on the town even when I’m afraid to miss out. I’ve taken the leap of winding down my jewelry business and made a big clearing so that I could tend my family, my home, and this exhausted body of mine. And still, even now, even today, I go to so and so’s web site and see this person’s book and that person’s speaking at a conference and look how often she blogs and tweets and how does she do it? and I am right back in that old groove of not enough. The difference now is that I notice more quickly when it’s happening.

This pregnancy has been humbling and my teacher in lots of ways. I wasn’t sick with Ben but this kid is taking me on a wild ride. I’ve fallen off the map in nearly every way, still spending entire days in bed (yesterday happened to be one of them!) where I have to surrender to the demands of my body. Even in this so called energetic second trimester I have bouts of low blood pressure which cause a curious mix of dizziness, fatigue and nausea. I have to take each day for what it is, each moment really, and surrender to it even when I have bigger plans. This is very hard on my ego! (so is the extra 20 pounds I am already carrying! :)

I know from the creative process that there are times to “fill the well” and times to create. Too much of either will have you overflowing or wrung dry. The trick I suppose is to be in some kind of balance… This is true for the creative process of manifesting a dream as well. We need cycles of rest, time to leave the land fallow before planting new seeds. 

Create what you most need to find. That is how Dream Lab was born! When we asked ourselves what class we most needed to take the answer was obvious- We needed a summer! We needed to learn how to play, to rest and to be kind to ourselves. As we thought about it more, we realized that these are key ingredients to manifesting dreams but they were glaring holes in our curriculum. How could we have missed that? Jen and I asked each other. Turns out we’re terrible at those things!

So we’ll be learning right alongside you. 

This is the thought that inspires me to no end: What would happen if we set aside our lists (our goals, our drive, struggle) for eight weeks? What would shift in our lives as a result of radical acts of play? of kindness? of rest? What would this clearing create space for in our hearts and in our lives?

I can’t wait to find out.

Will you join me? Doing this in community will be all the more powerful and exciting. Oh, and we will be led on secret missions each week by some truly fabulous mavens of kindness and play. (Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tracey Clark, Andrea Jenkins, Patience Salgado and Katherine Center.

19 weeks* (It’s a boy!)

Self-portrait, 19 weeks, Berkeley, CA, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

It’s a boy! ANOTHER boy!

When I think about my future life, I think of a minivan I saw parked in the neighborhood a couple years ago. It was covered in dust and dirt and someone had written this on the rear windshield in the dust: “Fart party inside!”

That’s totally going to be my life. :)

We are still stuck on boy names… What are your favorite names out there?

I Am Not a Robot

OMG. If you haven’t seen this, take the next few minutes and give a listen. (via Thanks Julie!)