Category Archives: Dreaming Big

An open love letter to Andrea Scher

Photo by Mara

I’ll admit, kind and gentle reader, I am afraid to write this post. I have avoided it for months, while at the same time silently writing and rewriting it in my heart, longing to say it out loud, to tell her. But what do you say to someone who has given you so much, altered your experience so completely? How can you ever possibly thank them? See…I’m right to be afraid, because every time I think about it, about how much I adore her and how grateful I am, I start to cry (now, for example).

Andrea Scher has been the sun at the center of a universe of amazement and goodness, the shiny middle that all the other bright and precious things orbit around.

self-portrait by andrea scher

Here is just a short list of what she’s given me, what she’s introduced me to: Boho Girl, Susannah Conway, Kelly Rae Roberts, Brene’ Brown (!!!), Jen Lemen, Flora Bowley and the wonder of painting, Laurie Wagner, Rachel Cole, Mondo Beyondo thinking, and the joy of photography.

I’ve taken two of Andrea’s classes, Mondo Beyondo (which she taught with Jen Lemen) and Superhero Photo, and on Monday, June 18th, I’ll be starting Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab.

Horse or Dog?

horse or dog? picture I took of sam during superhero photo

Superhero Photo altered how I saw the world. I got down on the ground, climbed on chairs and tables, went out in all colors and weights of light, looked close and far away, and went on treasure hunts. I took some of the most magical pictures I ever had, and I haven’t stopped taking them.

Mondo Beyondo fundamentally shifted the way I approached my life, the way I saw myself. In this post, (which Andrea wrote when she first introduced the course in 2009), she describes the concept of a Mondo Beyondo list, what that approach looks like and means. She says,

I had been making these kinds of lists for years but had never had a name for it, or ever formalized my mental list by writing it down. My Mondo Beyondo. I liked the sound of it. I also loved the idea of stretching yourself into this world of the outrageous. If your imagination could reach a bit farther with this exercise, then you were giving yourself a powerful gift: expanding your idea of what is possible.

image by jen gray

Here’s the list of what I’ve done because of Andrea Scher, things I can cross off my Mondo Beyondo List:

  1. Started writing this blog
  2. Bought a ticket to World Domination Summit (WDS, just a few weeks away!)
  3. Took a few classes with Susannah Conway, got a signed copy of her book (sent by her!), am taking a writing workshop with her at WDS, and attending an event on her book tour at Kelly Rae Robert’s studio (!)
  4. Met Brene’ Brown (holy crap, I even talked to her!), took a two-day workshop with her
  5. Signed up to take a yoga class with Marianne Elliott at WDS
  6. Went to a Fearless Creativity writing and meditation retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center with Susan Piver (oh how I adore that woman!)
  7. Hosted a Well-Fed Woman Mini Retreatshop led by Rachel Cole
  8. Started writing a book

Maybe for some people, this list wouldn’t seem that astonishing, but we are talking about me here: INFJ, introvert, highly sensitive person who suffered from depression, anxiety, and writer’s block for 25+ years, (maybe longer?). This list is huge, ginormous, crazy wild amazing.

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

I found Andrea Scher’s blog, Superhero Journal, at a time when I was so brokenhearted, such a mess, so stuck, so tired. I didn’t know how to keep going, where to even start. I was searching, my view clouded by grief, knew that I had abandoned myself and my dreams, but didn’t know how to find my way back.

The person I am today: writer, artist, warrior, brave, open-hearted, funny, strong, joyful, sane, is possible in part because of Andrea Scher. She invited me to expand my idea of what was possible. She encouraged me, was kind and honest. She was constantly admitting the things that are hard and messy, while still pointing out what’s beautiful and precious. She reminds me of this quote from Muriel Rukeyser, “What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Split open, and through the cracks, the light would get in (or maybe get out?).

Thank you, Andrea. I adore you and am so grateful for your work, your truth and your light, which have been of such great benefit to me as I stumble along.

If you really knew me: a list of 31 things

If you really knew me, you would know that:

I struggle with trusting myself, caring for and loving myself, and I have a bad habit of trying to please and take care of everyone else even if it means I am being hurt or suffering.

I act tough but I am incredibly sensitive.

I seem like an extrovert but am really an introvert who’s curious, who wants approval and appreciation.

I suffer from poverty mentality, don’t think I am enough or believe there will be enough for me.

I have all of these surface level issues, blockages that cause me so much suffering, but underneath, I am wise and compassionate and powerful.

I love big, a love that is unbound, a love that breaks my heart wide open.

I hold a grudge, am judgmental and critical, but I would never hurt anyone intentionally.

I’m glad that dogs can’t talk because if they could, I might find out they don’t love me as much as I think they do, and I couldn’t bear that.

I am obsessed with anything about the Holocaust, went to Amsterdam just to be able to see the Anne Frank House.

I can’t swim very well because I am afraid of drowning, which makes me tense up and start to sink.

I have dreams about being able to fly fight like in The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The only “make-up” I wear is moisturizer and Strawberry Chapstick.

I prefer flip-flops, clogs, or boots to heels or sandals, but I’d rather not wear shoes at all.

I like doing laundry.

Lilacs are my favorite flowers.

I couldn’t live without music—well, I could, but I wouldn’t be as happy.

This is my second marriage.

My two favorite and most read authors are Stephen King and Margaret Atwood, and my favorite poet is Mary Oliver.

I was in theater and two different choirs in high school. I miss it.

I dream about learning to play the ukulele I already own and taking singing lessons so that someday I can be in a band.

I have two tattoos.

I want to be in a flash mob.

I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life, and the house I live in now, have for 12 years, has the exact same floor plan and was built around the same time.

I was scared of the dark and being alone until I was 31 years old, the same year I got my first dog.

Letting go of that dog, my Obi, was the most difficult and most loving thing I have ever done.

I prefer mending and keeping old things over buying new ones.

I have two places I consider “home.”

My favorite pastry is a maple bar (unfilled), my favorite ice cream is maple nut, and I love any breakfast eaten with maple syrup.

I would almost always choose staying home in my pajamas and reading a good book over dressing up and going to a concert.

I have Ménière’s disease and Hypothyroidism.

I have wanted to be a writer since I was in the second grade, when I first realized writing was an occupation and therefore a possibility for me. It’s still the thing I want most.