Monthly Archives: October 2012

Bumping into wonder

Nico and Ben, an ordinary morning around here

Nico in his guitar pose, shot with Canon Xsi

Nico and Ben funny faces

smiling dudes

It could happen at any moment. At the library one afternoon chatting with another mom, lying in a hospital bed after a heart attack, mowing the lawn, making some tea. It could happen at any moment, really. This bumping up against the sacred, of wonder.

Sometimes it happens when I am with my kids, Nico sprinting out of the bathroom double-fisting my tampons and ripping them open as fast as he can. Me, catching up to him and registering (in a moment suspended in the air) his pure glee.

It happens in the shower, but not if I ‘m thinking about it. It’s something that finds you. A moment of clarity, of truth, a crisp moment of awakening.

Once, it happened when I had lost it, utterly, with the boys and I had crumpled on the ground at Nico’s crib. I cried, then laughed hysterically. “I give up!” I said. “I give up!” And they both climbed on top of me, delighted.

I want it to happen more. Maybe that’s why all the soul-searching, the coaching calls, the joy classes and the telesummits. I want to live there more of the time, in this place of wonder, of surrender, of joy.

Things that have been rocking my world these days:

One of the BEST stories I have ever listened to: The Gold Ring by Jeff Greenwald (on my new favorite radio show Snap Judgment)

What I know about Weight by Rachel Cole. Awesome.

Jen Lee’s Finding Your Voice course. SO freaking inspiring.

Everything Color me Katie does.

This brave post by Vivienne McMaster: It’s time to stop being your own bully (While you’re at it, check out all of her beautiful photography + words on her blog)

So much wisdom in this post by Kate Swoboda: Love letter to the world

My boys (pictured above) of course.

A quote I heard today from Frank Ostaseski: “This sacred is hidden in all things. To see the sacred is to gradually remove the obstructions, that which blocks our capacity to see what is already there.”

The brave, engaged and open community over in the Cultivating Courage class. It has been such a heart-opening experience over there. Thank you guys~


Pre-order Superhero necklaces! + a heartfelt thank you

My dear ones wearing superhero necklaces: Karen Walrond (wearing tropical) and Nicole Socia (wearing earth)

In the last few weeks I have had this incredible hunger to use my hands. To play with color. To listen to my favorite radio stories, move my hands and make something.

The world of writing, the internet, e-courses, even digital photography can start feeling very ephemeral to me. Sometimes it feels like all those words, ideas and images are just floating in the ether. I wonder if any of it is real, you know? I am left living in the upper reaches of my body — just a head, at a desk, typing away at a screen.

This is how I know I am out of balance.

And so, last week I excavated all of the big plastic bins that house my beads. They have been tucked away for years and I spent the entire day cleaning my desk, pulling out bowls of delicious color and neatly placing them on the table. As I dipped my fingers in the bags of beads and turned the jewelry pliers in my hand, it was like cellular memory- A feeling of groundedness and calm came over me and then an incredible urge to get to work! Turn on This American Life or Snap Judgment and just immerse myself in the zone. The art-making zone.

I taught myself to make beaded jewelry when I was in elementary school and had my own little cottage business by ten years old, selling earrings made from toy rubber animals to clothing boutiques. If I wasn’t making jewelry, I was sewing, drawing, painting or choreographing dances to the Flashdance soundtrack. Creativity has always been part of my life.

But here’s the thing I’m realizing now: I love to be creative in a variety of ways, but at some point I need my hands to be involved. I need my body to move. I need to literally make something with my bare hands. Can you relate?

Pre-order a Superhero Necklace!

This is a long way of announcing that I will be making a limited edition batch of Superhero necklaces for the holiday season! You can go ahead and pre-order them now in my Etsy store. There was a big response on my Facebook page when I mentioned this, so I have a feeling these puppies will sell out. I will make as many as I can, but go ahead and order ASAP if you are interested.

P.S. I love you

A huge thank you for all of your kind words, wisdom and support in regard to my last post. It has meant the world to me and has been SO freaking helpful to read your stories and feel your encouragement. I think a lot of people benefited from your generosity, so I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You guys are awesome!

On anxiety, panic attacks and being brave.

Stars at my feet, shot with iphone 4S

It started in my early twenties when I found that I was often short of breath. I thought maybe I had asthma but it turns out it was good old fashioned nerves. For many years I controlled it with yoga. Lots of yoga. Like 2-hour classes three times a week and a lot of walking up and down the hills in San Francisco.

But then I had kids.

And I stopped doing so much yoga and stopped sleeping well and just generally wasn’t able to take such exquisite care of myself anymore. And then one of those kids started having seizures at 12 months old. Each episode was traumatic. At my first public speaking gig (and first time away from my baby) I had a full blown panic attack. It was terrible and horrible and lasted 3 days. By the time I returned home, I felt like a bulb that had burned too bright and shattered into a thousand pieces.

I also knew a door had been opened. Something was possible that wasn’t possible before — panic.

If this has happened to you, you know what I am talking about. And my sense that a door was opened? is actually scientifically pretty accurate. As my panic attacks and anxiety have snowballed this year, my doctor told me that this is a conditioned response by the brain. The more you have them, the more your brain wants to have them.

Oy vey.

For the last 3 months I have worked with an integrative physician to find a solution that doesn’t involve pharmaceuticals. I have been downing a whole arsenal of vitamins and supplements, hiking nearly every day and eating well.  I was feeling great! Until a few weeks ago when I had another attack. I was doing something completely ordinary — google-mapping a birthday party in Oakland — when I suddenly collapsed on the floor, pure fear and adrenal surging through my body. I have been plagued with almost constant anxiety since.

I just can’t take it anymore.

My brave move

My brave move last week was to call my doctor and asked for a prescription. For an anti-depressant. Zoloft to be exact.

The more I open up about this, the more I realize how many of us are suffering from anxiety and depression. I used to think it was a flaw of my character — neurotic, too sensitive, easily overwhelmed, no fun, bad mother. The judgments would come in a steady stream at the hardest moments. Why can’t you just be a normal person like everybody else? is another one of my favorite ways to beat myself up. But now I see that this is an overwhelming world we live in. And if you’re highly sensitive like me? It can be too much. Parenting can feel like too much. Leaving the house can feel like too much.

I keep wanting to write this story from the other side of it. I took the drugs and it was the best thing I ever did. I can’t believe I let myself suffer for so long. But that remains to be seen. I am still living inside this story.

It takes courage

I am grateful for the Cultivating Courage class where we are doing one brave thing each day for 30 days. Without that class I might not have recognized this choice as courageous.

But of course it is.

It takes courage to ask for help. It takes courage to share our vulnerability, especially in a world that views it as a weakness. It takes courage to go down the path you didn’t want to take. It takes courage to act with self-compassion, to not make yourself wrong for what you need, but to simply ask yourself in the kindest way- what can I do that will help? 

I did not want to do it this way. I’m one of those people who doesn’t even like to take Advil for a headache. I’m also one of those people that is so high functioning you would never know that they were depressed or anxious. But here I am, knowing that the bravest move I can make is to get help.

And I’m hopeful that this is just the right help I need. Just the right medicine.



Super Sponsor Spotlight

Ready to make your dreams a reality or celebrate the abundance in your life? Our sponsors this month are offering everything you need to do just that — and more! So take a moment to check out the amazing offerings brought to you by our Super Sponsors in October. Also, if you’d like to see your e-Course, Etsy shop, blog or business on the sidebar or in an upcoming Super Sponsor Spotlight, we’d love to have you. Just send a quick email to Amber at: [email protected] to get all the details.


The Cosmic Cafe — Claire O’Connor

Imagine for a moment that you:

  • •  Live in a beautiful 300-year-old stone house on a wild singing river in a little gem of a village in the south of France
  • •  See 6-figures in your bank account
  • •  Feel vibrantly healthy and alive
  • •  Wake up every morning next to a devoted man who “gets” you
  • •  Share your inborn gifts with the world

These may not be your dreams, but they were mine. For a long time. And now they are my sustainable everyday reality.

If you’re interested in learning my rocket-fuel secrets for manifesting juicy life changes in previously-undreamt-of ways, join me, Claire O’Connor, in THE COSMIC CAFE, my 8-week super-duper advanced manifestation e-course.

I went from being 75 pounds overweight, feeling hopelessly trapped in a toxic co-dependent marriage, which led to bankruptcy court…


…to living in a reliable state of ease — for YEARS.

Join me! And place YOUR order with the Cosmic Waitress! The kitchen is hoppin’!

15% off tuition for SuperHeroes — just tell me your SuperPower!


Embracing Fall — Gennifer Carragher

Don’t you just love fall? The beauty of changing leaves, the cool, crisp air, the pumpkin spice lattes! Join Gennifer Carragher in celebrating all of the wonderful things this season has to offer through her new e-course, Embracing Fall: Reconnecting with the Rhythms of Nature.

Explore how the season relates to topics like abundance, balance and self-care through thought-provoking essays, juicy writing prompts, fun, creative exercises and more. Some of the goodies you’ll receive in this course include space clearing tips and rituals, a chakra cleansing exercise, guided meditations and powerful abundance practices.

The next four-week session begins October 15th.

This course will give you the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits, the world around you and yourself on a deeper level. You will gain the tools you need to bring more abundance into your life along with powerful self-care practices you can use long after the course is over. By reconnecting with the rhythms of nature, you’ll feel more peaceful, grounded and joyful.

Learn more about Embracing Fall and register here.


Jen Downer, Portrait and Lifestyle Photographer

Jen Downer is a portrait & lifestyle photographer for beautifully messy, miraculously complicated, ferociously loving families. The kind that don’t own matching black turtlenecks — and prefer cookie batter & cuddle piles to chin-on-knuckles yearbook poses. Her Portland-based photography business, She Saw Things, is all about capturing real life, crazy love and all of its perfectly imperfect beauty.

Jen is excited to extend a special offer to the Superhero Life followers: The first 5 of you to book a She Saw Things photo session will receive $100 off of the session fee! (small print: sessions must be booked by October 31st 2012 and must take place in November 2012 in Portland, Oregon.). Email Jen to book: [email protected].


Chris Guillebeau – The $100 Startup

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…

Little adventures: Bodega Bay

Me and Nico at the beach, Bodega Bay

Grant with oysters, Bodega Bay

Nico watching the ocean, Bodega Bay

The kid’s table at dinner on Saturday night, how did we make all these tiny humans?

homemade pasta hanging to dry

Camie and Cenovia, Bodega Bay

Sasha and Talia eating oysters and drinking bloody Marys by the sea

The magic hour in Bodega Bay

Our dear friend Viola turned 40 this weekend and celebrated in the very best way: She rented a beach house for her dearest friends and we all spent the weekend together. It was like pure oxygen. Beach, fog, ocean, good friends, good food, tuna sashimi, homemade pasta, kiddos galore, hilarious conversation. It was SO SO GOOD.

A wise reader right here on this blog said to me recently, “Can you find some time to just goof around? To do something for no good reason? That isn’t productive at all?”

That comment stuck with me and has been tossing around my brain ever since. I have been so focused these days: The launch of the new site, the brand new e-courses, the usual drive and striving and ambition of being a solopreneur. It can all get overwhelming and serious and leave very little room for joy. In an effort to be good and responsible, I haven’t given myself room to take a break. To celebrate. To take pleasure in life and fill up with laughter and joy. I’m taking that reader’s advice and I’m going to build in time to goof around. This weekend was a great beginning.

The Joy Telesummit

Speaking of joy, I was asked to be interviewed for the Joy Telesummit. I said yes (my brave move for the day for Cultivating Courage) but I was nervous. Is she going to ask me how joyful I am? Is she going to ask me to give tips on having a joyful life? Hilariously, I even felt pressure to be joyful on the call with her! and wondered if I would come off as dark or depressed if I was just myself.

On the contrary, this might be my all time favorite interview to date. It was a transformative conversation for me and I hope it will be for you too.

You can stream the interview here. Enjoy!

Creative Superheroes Interview: Karen Walrond

photo of Karen Walrond by Justin Hackworth,

Dear Superheroes,

I’m overjoyed to introduce the newest creative superhero today, Karen Walrond! Karen and I first met at a Blogher conference back in 2006. I shyly tapped her on the shoulder and we hugged and shouted with excitement since we were both big fans of one another. She was wearing a superhero necklace and I couldn’t resist photographing her right there on the spot. Isn’t she gorgeous?

The greatest thing about Karen is she has a way of making every single person she meets feel beautiful and amazing. She sees your beauty in a way that makes you see it too. She is a generous friend and cheerleader and I feel lucky to have her in my corner.

When my new site launched, she immediately called me and screamed OH MY GOD!!!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW BIG THIS IS???? into the phone. It made me laugh and feel so celebrated. Thank you Karen. So honored to introduce her to you today!

What is your superpower?

I can see beauty wherever I am, no matter who I’m with.  It’s the most awesome superpower to have.

What are your obsessions? and how do they make their way into your creative work?

I’m obsessed with photography and telling stories, and luckily they both are a big part of my work as an author, blogger, photographer and public speaker.  I’m also obsessed with making sure that people realize how awesome they are — and happily, I’m coming up with new and creative ways of making sure that people understand this.

What are the top 5 things you’ve learned so far as a creative entrepreneur?

1.  It’s not as easy as it looks.
2.  It requires as much time as it did when I was a corporate wonk — perhaps even more.  The good news is that I love every minute.
3.  Making a living as a creative is wonderfully fulfilling, but it also requires downtime as well.  This is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn, but I’m learning it.
4.  Even though I spent most of my adult life doing something else, none of that time was wasted.  It’s all fuel for my current life.
5.  Being creative — no matter in what capacity, even in jobs which might at first glance seem uncreative — is the only way to live.

Tell us about a time when you had to practice courage.

The time that most immediately comes to mind is when I quit my job as a lawyer.  It was very weird:  I had a great job, I was good at what I did, and I had a boss who respected me and my work.  To tell him that I had to leave, and it wasn’t for a better offer was a very strange and uncomfortable place to be, but it was my truth.

Happily, we’ve remained friends, and he has remained a mentor.  I’m very lucky.

What are a  few things people wouldn’t know by looking at you?

Most people wouldn’t realize that I love scuba diving, because in general, I’m a big scaredy-cat.  Most people don’t know that I speak pretty passable Spanish, and can be comfortable in any Spanish-speaking country.  Most people wouldn’t know that I’m deathly afraid of insects, snakes, feet, heights and what might be lurking under my bed at night.

What did you believe as a kid that you no longer believe?

I used to believe that my parents knew everything and were always right.  As an adult, I still think they’re smart and good people, but I’ve finally realized they’re also human, making their world the best way they can, like the rest of us.

I used to believe in little woodland people, like elves and gnomes and fairies, and that plants and trees could feel pain and joy and happiness.  I don’t believe in the woodland people anymore, but I kind of still believe it about the plants and trees.

I used to believe that I would never be the kind of perfect person that my parents wanted me to grow up to be.  Now, as a grown-up, I actually don’t care anymore, because I’m pretty okay with the person I did end up being. Happily, my parents seem okay with her too. ?

What is your current mantra? Tell us about the last time you used it.

Be grateful, do your best every day, and don’t sweat it if it isn’t perfect.   This is the latest mantra I’m working on, and it’s tough, sometimes.  But I believe it’s the secret to a joyful life, so I’m going to keep trying.

Karen Walrond is a (nonpracticing) attorney, writer, photographer, and creator of the award-winning site Chookooloonks. Karen is also the author of The Beauty of Different, a book that will convince you that the thing that makes you different might just be your superpower.  She loves dark chocolate, a good rum, and she’s wildly convinced you’re uncommonly beautiful.

Niki + Dave’s Santa Cruz wedding

The bride and groom, Aptos, CA

I don’t normally shoot weddings, but I couldn’t resist saying yes when Niki + Dave emailed to ask if I would shoot their small wedding in Aptos- the tiny little beach town where I grew up. It is gorgeous there. Just south of Santa Cruz and full of big beaches where you can walk for miles and miles. I still remember seeing those surfer boys in homeroom with wet mops of hair, salt dried in little beads on their arms from their early morning ocean adventures.

This wedding was unconventional and thoughtful, every detail meaningful and beautifully thought through… All of it infused with love and play. Their spirits were contagious… At one point I found myself thigh deep in the ocean (in my jeans) whooping it up and photographing them.

It was pure pleasure to celebrate with them and I’m excited to share some of their joy with you!

Dave + Niki diving in, Aptos, CA

At the farmer’s market earlier that day getting the bride’s bouquet

The gorgeous bride and groom, Aptos, CA

bride and groom at the ocean, Aptos, CA

Lovely ceremony, officiated by a dear friend, Aptos, CA

Into the sunset they go…