Monthly Archives: December 2012

Find a gratitude buddy! (Or I’ll play matchmaker)


Gratitude is a bit like finding the blue sky in the puddle.

We know gratitude practices work, right?

They train our minds to focus on what’s working, what’s beautiful + good, what delights us in the smallest of moments. They teach us that no matter what circumstances are unfolding in our lives, there is an opportunity to acknowledge what is nourishing us + what we can appreciate.

Even though I know this, it has taken me years to start (and stick with) a practice of my own. And I finally discovered what the missing ingredient was — a gratitude buddy!

I chose a friend who lives far away that I was eager to stay connected with. Since she is a new friend, it has been a really sweet way to grow our friendship. Choose someone you want to cultivate a deeper connection to (or a more regular connection). Anyone who is willing to play will be a good choice!

Here’s what our lists look like:

Today, I’m grateful for:
1. The magnolia tree outside my window that is blooming pink, even though it is winter.
2. For how I could see Ben with new eyes as he charmed everyone at the dentist office.
3. Fitting into my jeans.


Today, I’m grateful for:
1. A good night’s sleep.
2. Those little blue pills that seem to be working.
3. The guy I met who was walking his cat on a leash.

No preamble. No explanations. Just a simple list exchanged.


Sometimes I just send a picture.

P.S. I should also add that if someone forgets a day (or two or three) there is no need to apologize. The other person simply presses on and sends their list over. This helps me stay in the game, since I am usually the person who forgets!

P.P.S. Also, small detail, but we have been using the same email thread since day one entitled “gratitude.” We always respond to the same thread. This makes for an easy way to review the lists at some point.

Are you game?

If you need a buddy let me know. I’m happy to play matchmaker! ([email protected])

A New Year’s Ritual*

New Year’s Ritual Part One from andrea scher on Vimeo.

This is my very FIRST video blog! After 10 years of blogging the old-fashioned way, I am feeling extra brave and delighted to share this little video series with you. Grab a pen and paper and join me for a closing of the year ritual.

Part 2: What can you celebrate? from andrea scher on Vimeo.

Part 3: What can you acknowledge and let go of? from andrea scher on Vimeo.

Part 4: Choose Your Word for 2013 from andrea scher on Vimeo.


One good reason to meditate.

I meditated yesterday.

Finally, after years of resisting it, thinking I don’t have time or just plain forgetting, I did it. I don’t know what made yesterday the right day to begin but I found myself seated in the sun on the hardwood floor in my living room. Being a fan of achievable goals, I set my iphone to ring after 10 minutes.

After several fidgety moments, I noticed a lot of plans, so many things undone, the endless list streaming like ticker tape in my mind — get classrooms ready for january, do I have the construction paper for Ben’s school project? I should check our balances and see if we’re overdrawn…

Fear. I said this aloud to myself and then went back to counting my breath.

Planning, fear of not doing enough, of not being enough, strategizing. Trying to wrangle all the ducks and put them in a row.

Just count your breath, I told myself, my mind a slippery fish. One, two…

I started to pray, which I decided was a better use of my mind that was clearly running amuck.

Please God, allow me to be of service, give me clarity and confidence to do my best work as an artist, mother, partner, friend. It went something like this. And that calmed me down.

The pendulum

Then I thought of the pendulum that Ben bought in Colorado. We came across it at an arts and crafts fair at the local farmer’s market. There was a woman there selling gorgeous rocks and crystals, jewelry and pendulums.

“They are for dowsing,” she explained. “You can ask it a yes or no question and it will give you an answer.”

Ben was particularly taken with one that had a gorgeous fluorite crystal hanging at the end of a silver chain.

“Do I have forty dollars?” Ben asked the lady.

We watched as the pendulum swayed. It made a line in the air, didn’t twirl in a circle but went back and forth.

“It’s telling me no,” said the lady.

“Right!” he exclaimed. “I only have twenty!”

Ben scored this 20 dollar bill in a moment of parental desperation. After having croup for several days, we got a prescription for a steroid that might help with the cough. Imagining a day of airplane travel with Ben hacking like a seal, we decided to give it to him. Trouble was, it smelled like rubbing alcohol. (And likely tasted just as bad)

We pulled out all of our best tricks. “Here is a big piece of chocolate Ben! Just swig it and this can be yours…”

He took a sip and spat most of it out. “It’s burning my mouth!” he said.

Shit… I muttered under my breath. We only had a half a dose left and he refused to take anymore. “I don’t want your chocolate!” he shouted from the other room.

Then I pulled my wallet out. Ben’s really into cash these days so I had to pull out the big guns. I offered him five dollars but it was a no-go. He was playing hardball.

I found him on the toilet coughing.

“Ben, do you know that when you have to do something really scary, you can put your arms in the air like a superhero or like a super duper strong person and it helps you feel stronger?” I put my arms in full Wonder Woman posture and in my best Tony Robbins imitation said, “Yes! I can totally do this! I’m strong and I can rock this!”

He watched me from the toilet, a half-smile creeping over his face, not sure if he believed me.

“Seriously,” I said. “I watched a researcher talk about it just the other day.”

“Let’s do this Ben!” I bounded into the kitchen with him. “Put your arms in the air in your best Superman pose!”


“Okay, Ben.” I walked over to my purse. “I’ve got a 20 dollar bill here with your name on it. This is my last offer. Get over here and let’s do this!”

He sprinted over, downed it as fast as could and then cheered for himself. “I did it!!!!!!” he shouted and waved his twenty in the air.

Buyer’s remorse

Ben bought the pendulum in Colorado. Approximately 45 minutes later while we had burgers and fries, he regretted it. “Now my twenty is gone!” he whined.

It was a good lesson about money, so I considered how long to let him sit with buyer’s remorse. But I secretly wanted the pendulum. So I told him that   just this once, I would buy it from him.

We lost the pendulum.

I searched in every suitcase, toiletry bag, wallet and purse in the house. It has been weeks and it still hasn’t turned up. I started to wonder if the pendulum didn’t want to be found.

But as I sat on the floor meditating, a voice in me said, “The pendulum is in that little bag you put your tampons in.”

I ran to the drawer and found the bag. There it was.



The Blessing of Awareness: A guest post by Barbara Schwartz

golden buddha, shot with Canon Xsi

Hey Superheroes,

Today I’d like to share a blog post I read recently, something that touched me and transformed the way I held myself + my loved ones over the Thanksgiving holiday. Since it is still so relevant for the various other holidays this season, I decided to re-post it here (with Barbara’s permission)

If you haven’t checked out her Morning Prayer blog, hop on over. It is one of the few blogs I read faithfully.

The Blessing of Awareness

Funny thing about Thanksgiving, the opening event of the season of ritual correctness and hopeful anticipation. It seems the entire cast of our inner feelings and voices want to be invited in too, especially the ones we don’t usually allow in the front door: the painful pitiful ones, the ones who lurk in darkness, the ones that make us numb ourselves. So before you leave for the event, be sure to fluff up your inner witness.

If you’ve ever meditated, you have that witness in your tool chest, that witness who is present to the rise and fall of emotions without being carried away by their power. The factory model comes equipped with compassion, curiosity, love and tenderness. When a bit of fear or resentment or a feeling of being left out or under-appreciated comes into your awareness, it’s important your inner witness puts her arm around her and breathes with her and then lets her go. She does best if she doesn’t become the center of attention.

Martha Beck has a great suggestion. Think of a person (or situation) you love, but about whom you feel some level of anxiety, anger or sadness. Think how your loved one (read that as the dark anxious part) must alter her behavior before you can be content. Then complete the following sentence by filling in the name that fits (a person for example or a feeling) and the way you’d feel if the change occurred.

If _____would only_____, then I could feel_____.

Then scratch out the first clause and all that remains is I could feel _____.

This last sentence is the truth. The cooperation of others or even parts of yourself would be nice, nevertheless, you can feel the way you want to. Even peaceful.

Perhaps something that has worked for me when I’ve gone to events I’m not sure about may work for you too. I imagine I’m in a foreign country. I don’t know the customs or even the people. I’m an interested and neutral observer entertained by the local way of doing things.

Baruch ata adonai…help me to enjoy my big noisy family and their many friends. Help me to use all my tools and  be amused and enriched by their enthusiasms. May I feel peaceful and thankful. Amen

Barbara Schwartz is a retired therapist, a retired mother and a very enthusiastic grandmother. She loves drawing, painting and writing her morning prayer blog.

The importance of being at choice

Nico Boon, laughing at Dolores Park in SF

Although Nico loves his new preschool (it is a dream come true) he hides behind my legs every time we arrive. He suddenly gets shy + clingy, grabs onto my thighs or tries to climb my body, desperate for me to stay. Saying goodbye to him usually involves distracting him with trains or an art project, anything that will hold his attention long enough for me to slip out.

Until recently.

They instituted a new game called, “Push mommy out the door.” And it is magic.

When I am ready to say goodbye to Nico and leave, the teachers say, Time to push mommy out the door! and Nico runs behind me and pushes my legs forward and I exaggeratedly stumble towards the door. Then he nudges me out saying, “Bye bye mommy!”


This week I realized the pure genius of this.

We all want to be at choice in our lives. We want to know we have some control, that we get to choose (even a little bit) how our environment will be + how our days will go.

In the case of Nico going to school, it’s kind of a non-negotiable. But feeling at choice — that he is choosing that it is time for me to go- leaves him feeling empowered.

Where in our lives do we feel like the victims of our circumstance? at work? at home? How would re-framing things we have to do, consciously choosing them, help us feel good about our responsibilities and tasks?

Sometimes a tweak in the language we use is enough. Instead of saying, “I have to…” we can say, “I get to…” Or, we can simply say, “I’m choosing to… ”

For example, instead of saying, I have to go to Ben’s school this week and volunteer for the Hanukkah celebration… (I said this last week and the dread in my voice was notable!) I could say, “This Thursday I get to volunteer in Ben’s class and do some fun activities to teach his classmates about Hannukah.” or “I’m choosing to volunteer in Ben’s class this week.”

Even if it feels a bit phony at first, you will notice how differently you feel. Stepping out of our victim roles (even in these small ways) reminds us that we are always at choice in our lives, and that empowering ourselves this way can ripple out into every area of our life.

Can you think of a place in your life where you could be more at choice?



Super Sponsor Spotlight

Our Superhero Journal sponsors are, well, super! So take a minute to check out all of the amazingness they are offering up in December. 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.


Create Your Incredible Year Workbook + Calendar — Leonie Dawson

Are you ready for 2013 to be your most incredible year yet, in life or in business… or (gasp!) in BOTH?<

Leonie Dawson is here to help you do just that… easily, cheaply + powerfully.

The uber popular Create Your Incredible Year Workbook + Calendar is back for 2013!

And this year, it’s TWICE as fantastic: For the first time ever and by popular request, there’s the original Life version and the brand-spanking NEW edition just for Business!

New Year’s resolutions and goals have a bit of a reputation of being a one-night stand kinda relationship. They don’t last long, they don’t create profound change, and what’s more, we usually have regrets and hang-ups about them.

The Create Your Incredible Year workbooks are DIFFERENT. They are powerful catalysts of change that not only inspire a new direction but make you feel good about yourself at the same time! They call out your highest potential, and your ability to make it all happen.

It’s your year: are you ready to make it incredible?


Simplicity Parenting — Kathy Stowell

Imagine your days flowing with smoother transitions, fewer meltdowns and an abundance of mama time to replenish your inner well.

I’m Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime and I’m offering a series of online workshops based on the principles outlined in Kim John Payne’s epic book Simplicity Parenting with Rhythm Module beginning on January 15th.

For four weeks you will be led through the process of designing the rhythms and rituals that will work for your unique family in a realistic, practical and loving way.

Three times a week by email I will deliver support and inspiration through video, worksheets, meditations, recorded group calls and interviews with special guest stars to guide you to a family life based on your values and ideals while shedding the rest. A tribe to share your struggles and celebrations will be waiting for you at our private Facebook page. We’re looking forward to you joining us on this quest to simplify our days!

Please use the discount code superheromama for 15% off at checkout.


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…

Reaching out from the wobbly middle

Nico throwing rocks, Colorado

“Every positive change-every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness-involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.” – Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior

I love this quote and the re-frame he offers: That even in the midst of the discomfort, you can know that this is initiation. This is you growing into something more — deeper, wiser, more awake + more compassionate. It’s a lovely big-picture way to hold whatever big shifts are going on in your life right now.

I spoke with a friend yesterday and when she asked me how I was, I found myself saying, “I don’t have words for it yet, but I know that I am experiencing a shift. I am moving towards a different way of being as a creative person + teacher. I am moving toward something more intimate and grounded, something that feeds me in deep ways and creates even more powerful connections to the people I serve.”

After I said it I was surprised by how true it felt. I didn’t even realize that I was in the midst of change until the words came out of my mouth! But there it was.

I would guess that if we are awake + conscious in our lives, that we are almost always in a state of becoming. Becoming more ourselves by honoring who we are in bigger and deeper ways.

But what I want to acknowledge today is that the awkward messy phase of an initiation is full of discomfort and doubt. We will question everything — if we are on the right path, if we are up to the task, or if we should just quit altogether. It’s tempting to judge ourselves especially, to say we are lost or broken. You’re a mess, get your shit together, why can’t you be like so and so… But I’m here to say this: that life is often that messy middle place and our capacity to find comfort (and perspective) there can make all the difference.

Reaching out

One of the best ways to do this is to reach out. Not to just anyone, but someone you trust to hold big things with you. Someone who can listen deeply + maybe get you out of the weeds to see something bigger. This might be a friend or family member. Or it might be a therapist or a coach. If we can reach out to one another from that space of uncertainty, we will feel less alone and we are more likely to move through with grace and courage.

What about you?

Are you in the midst of a shift? Are you moving toward a new version of yourself?

Complete the following sentence in the comments below:  As the new year approaches, I feel myself becoming more _____________.

Perhaps if we can all hold each other’s wobbly in-between space, we can find more strength to move through the fire.