Category Archives: Andrea Scher

Gratitude Friday

27powersmorning1. 27 Powers. Mornings at the kitchen table, drinking coffee and eating yogurt, sitting across the table from Laurie, talking about everything that matters. A warm bath, how long it took to fill the tub, how the steam that rose off the water was lit by the candles, how quiet the house was. Sitting at the long table Wild Writing. Resting with Zander on that last night. Lunch in the yard with Sherry, eating Firecracker chocolate for dessert. Snuggling in the big chair, sitting in a circle of open hearts receiving a transmission of wisdom from Rachel, how she helped me to understand what I’m truly hungry for, that what I long for is to be home, in all the various ways that manifests — in my body, my practice, my work, my house, my relationships, the world.

2. Being seen, encouraged, accepted — and through that, allowing it to touch me and light the way, being able to do those things for myself.

my current favorite picture from my photo shoot with Andrea Scher

my current favorite picture from my photo shoot with Andrea Scher

3. In my Eddy Hall office, listening to Sufjan Stevens with the window open and the wind blowing the trees outside, rattling the leaves that are left.

4. Blooming Schlumbergera.

blooming5. Sleeping in my own bed, next to the warm bodies of my boys.

Bonus Joy: The way Sam squealed when he saw me for the first time in four days.

Something Good

1. Fears and Flashbacks from Sas Petherick.

2. your daily rock : do what you love and your daily rock : please don’t judge

3. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: In Defense Of Highly Sensitive People, and 10 Questions To Ask Yourself Every Day, and If You Do Nothing Else To Be Healthy, At Least Do These 5 Things.

4. Good stuff from Elephant Journal: 8 Ways to Make Every Day Your Best Without Pretending You’re Happy or Letting Go, and 10 Ways to Be a Human Being, and Why God Made a Dog. {Video} (*sob*), and Top 10 Photos: Outdoorsy Tiny Cabin Porn, (if you like that sort of thing, make sure to go to the Cabin Porn website).

5. I am obsessed with learning to make Kitchari: How To Cook Kitchari, and How to make Kitchari using the Banyan Kitchari Kit, and My Favorite Kitchari Recipe.

6. Prints with poetry from Maya Stein. I’m hoping she makes a book of these someday.

7. Opening the Creative Channel from Superhero Life, in which Andrea Scher talks about the retreat I was lucky enough to attend.

8. Sweet dog asks cat for his bed back on Dog Heirs and in related news, this Cats Stealing Dog Beds Compilation.

9. 10 Life Lessons You Should UnlearnMartha Beck on Huffington Post.

10. My Art Was Stolen for Profit (and How You Can Help) from Lisa Congdon. And a whole bunch of other articles related to this situation: a Flickr page of other indie ripoffs, and Is Giant Folk Art Company Cody Foster Stealing From Small Artists?, and We Love Authenticity, and How A Company Gets Away With Stealing Independent Designers’ Work, and Drawing the Line on Design Theft.

11. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

Not acting on our habitual patterns is only the first step toward not harming others or ourselves. The transformative process begins at a deeper level when we contact the rawness we’re left with whenever we refrain. As a way of working with our aggressive tendencies, Dzigar Kongtrül teaches the nonviolent practice of simmering. He says that rather than “boil in our aggression like a piece of meat cooking in a soup,” we simmer in it. We allow ourselves to wait, to sit patiently with the urge to act or speak in our usual ways and feel the full force of that urge without turning away or giving in. Neither repressing nor rejecting, we stay in the middle between the two extremes, in the middle between yes and no, right and wrong, true and false. This is the journey of developing a kindhearted and courageous tolerance for our pain.

12. Good stuff from Marc and Angel Hack Life: 10 Truths You Will Learn Before You Find Happiness, and 10 Risks Happy People Take Every Day.

13. “I don’t get it” from Seth Godin.

14. The 2013 Holiday Gift Guide – Part One from Rachel Cole, who has very good taste.

15. You are not in control from Christina Rosalie, in which she says,

What is yours is the way you meet the turbulence as it arrives: with grace or terror, with gratitude or anger, with openness or clenched fists, with focus or distraction. Your life will find you, no matter what you plan. Be here then. Be of this wild, brilliant new day. Respond as truly as you can, and know this life is made both of your breath, and of the wind you breathe.

16. Oprah Tells An Atheist She Believes In God. The Atheist Responds Like A Christian. Or Any Human on Upworthy. Confession: I am kind of annoyed with Oprah right now, how she doesn’t let people say what they have to say, how she seems to sometimes use them simply to say what she’s already decided to say. Case in point, Dani Shapiro on Super Soul Sunday yesterday. Oprah would not let her finish, not let her speak, kept interrupting her. It was so hard to watch.

17. Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming on The Guardian.

18. Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime on Scientific American.

19. Watch A Student Totally Nail Something About Women That I’ve Been Trying To Articulate For 37 Years on Upworthy. Amazing.

20. Seven Unusual Tips to Stir Your Creative Juices from Judy Clement Wall.

21. Why Oreos Are As Addictive As Cocaine To Your Brain on Forbes.

22. Man overhears sad tale in diner, secretly pays for meal, because people are good.

23. 30 Of The Happiest Facts Ever from Bored Panda.

24. Piktochart looks really fun. I first saw an example on Create as Folk, in this post, (which is also something good): Get the Bleep off Craigslist.

25. 4 Reasons I Don’t Believe in the Law of Attraction on Always Well Within.

26. 7 Things To Look At When You Feel Bad About Your Body on Huffington Post.

27. Why I’m Infatuated With October on Scoutie Girl.

28. Wisdom from Franz Kafka,

You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.

29. Scientists Discover One Of The Greatest Contributing Factors To Happiness — You’ll Thank Me Later a Soul Pancake video on Upworthy.

30. Charlie the Dog Is the World’s Worst Recycler on Jezebel. An empty plastic water bottle really is one of the best puppy toys ever. Reminds me of Sam when he was a puppy, and I’d hide a ball under a tupperware bowl and he’d try to get it out. (P.S. Dexter was the best big brother).

31. 7 Life-Changing Benefits of a Surprisingly Simple Meditation Technique on Tiny Buddha.

32. From Susannah Conway’s Something for the Weekend list, A freebie 2014 calendar template for your photos (such a cool idea!), and What People Really Look Like from Portland Home Massage, in which masseuse Dave says,

Everybody on a massage table is beautiful. There are really no exceptions to this rule. At that first long sigh, at that first thought that “I can stop hanging on now, I’m safe” – a luminosity, a glow, begins. Within a few minutes the whole body is radiant with it. It suffuses the room: it suffuses the massage therapist too. People talk about massage therapists being caretakers, and I suppose we are: we like to look after people, and we’re easily moved to tenderness. But to let you in on a secret: I’m in it for the glow.

I’ll tell you what people look like, really: they look like flames. Or like the stars, on a clear night in the wilderness.

33. My Most Meaningful Decision on Design Sponge.

34. One Question (plus a few more) from Julia on Painted Path.

35. More Bat Dad, who was also interviewed on TODAY.

36. From Positively Present Picks, free desktop downloads from Design Love Fest.

37. Clever cat helps dog escape from kitchen (VIDEO) from Dog Heirs.

38. whatthefuckshouldibeforhalloween.com

39. Wisdom from Anne Lamott on Facebook.

40. Wisdom from Geneen Roth on Facebook,

When you stop warring with yourself, when you end the shaming and judging and blaming, when you stop the pushing and pulling and feeding the desire to be someone else with a different life, the war with food ends as well. Maybe not all at once, but soon. It couldn’t be any other way.

41. Amazing Secret Dungeon discovered under my new apartment…


42. Childish Gambino Explains Instagram Notes, in which he says,

“If I’m depressed, everybody’s depressed, I don’t think those feelings are that different from what everybody’s feeling. Most people just don’t tell everybody. I was just tired of telling people I was tired. It felt like every day someone would ask, ‘What’s wrong. Are you OK?’ “And I would say, ‘I’m tired, I’m tired.’ I didn’t want to do that anymore. I guess sometimes not telling the truth is just as bad as telling a lie.”

43. From Brain Pickings: Humans of New York: A Vibrant Photographic Census of Diversity and Dignity and Fail Safe: Debbie Millman’s Advice on Courage and the Creative Life.

44. The photographer behind ‘Humans of New York’ on CNN.

45. Read this when you’re feeling unwanted + rejected. (You’re not. This will help.) from Alexandra Franzen.

46. How Not to Be Alone on The New York Times.

P.S. This is my 100th Something Good list!

Day of Rest

Being a dis-ordered eater sucks. Sometimes I get so sick of it, so tired of trying to change that I sink into feeling I will never ever ever be rid of this way of being. And to be clear, it isn’t even about the restricting and binging, isn’t about food at all, but rather my struggle to process the intensity of my experience, to control what is impossible to contain, to soothe myself, comfort the feeling of overwhelm, numb the sadness, the suffering caused by both too much and not enough.

I was really feeling this yesterday morning. In a few weeks, Andrea Scher is going to take some pictures for me, of me, and I am starting to feel a whole lot of anxiety around that. I’m not happy with how I look right now, have no idea what I’m going to wear, keep calculating how much weight I could lose if I starved myself and did extra cardio for the next few weeks, “you are obese” ringing in my head even though I am the same size as the average American woman. It’s exhausting.

When I pulled a card from my tarot deck, like I’ve been doing every morning, I asked for help, for clarity and guidance, asked how I can shift this situation. I pulled the Mother of Swords, “Sharp Perceptions,” with the warning that there’s “a potential for her criticism to soar.” Very clearly the message was that I have the power to heal myself through awareness but that I have to be gentle, practice self-compassion, not slip into smashing myself to bits — again, it’s not really about healing my relationship with food but rather with myself.

motherofswordsAnd this healing isn’t about restriction or control or change at all, it’s about renunciation. By that I mean the Buddhist concept of renunciation, which is not just rejection of something but rather a way of saying “yes” to life, to feeling, to the present moment and whatever it might bring. In her book The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World, Pema Chödrön says,

Trungpa Rinpoche once said, “Renunciation is realizing that nostalgia for samsara is full of shit.” Renunciation is realizing that our nostalgia for wanting to stay in a protected, limited petty world is insane.

…that’s fundamentally renunciation: learning how to let go of holding on and holding back.

We don’t, out of fear of the unknown, have to put up these blocks, these dams, that basically say no to life and to feeling life.

The whole journey of renunciation, or starting to say yes to life, is first of all realizing that you’ve come up against your edge, that everything in you is saying no, and then at that point, softening. This is yet another opportunity to develop loving-kindness for yourself.

There is something in this concept of renunciation, this coming up against my edge, this shift from rejecting to letting the world touch me, allowing myself to be vulnerable, softening and opening, that makes me want to lean in.

compassionquoteSo there it is, the perfect example of how my sharp perceptions will facilitate healing. I got the card and in thinking about what it meant, I pretty immediately thought of renunciation, and knew the way Pema describes it would be the place to look, and it totally makes sense as the key and ties back to the card, how it says that there is the potential for criticism to soar and Pema says renunciation is about softening, being gentle. And as I was writing this in my journal, I notice the quote on the next page, “the body is your temple, keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in,” and it’s from B.K.S. Iyengar, founder of Iyengar Yoga, considered one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. I start yoga teacher training in a few months, which is another key part of my healing practice, because as Jen Lemen said recently, “a huge barrier to joy is the refusal to live in our actual bodies.” It’s like a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” from the Universe — you are on the right track, Sugar.

And finally, in case I didn’t get it yet, my meditation practice is a video Susan Piver made for the Open Heart Project, Working with Self-Judgement.

The Universe does conspire to help you, if you show up. A leaf dropped in your path, a card, a line of poetry, a video, a kind word, help when you hadn’t even asked, the memory of an idea that you look for finding it to be the exact wisdom you needed in this very moment — the clear message that I can figure this out, can trust myself, but also to take care, be gentle and kind. Today, I am resting in this.

Something Good

1. Good stuff from Marianne Elliott: Why I haven’t practiced yoga for five weeks. And why that makes me a better teacher and How I pack for 5 months: a packing ninja reveals her secrets and Telling the difference between a bad day, a run of bad days, and burnout.

2. Good stuff on Elephant Journal: Natural Remedies to Heal your Thyroid, and 7 Ways to Help Someone Who is Grieving, and We Are Not Here to Do Everything, We Are Here to Do Something, and 10 Things You Need to Stop Doing Today to be Happier, and Letters to Myself. P.S. Maybe you’ve noticed I share a lot of their stuff? I’m a paid subscriber — the content is totally worth it.

3. a room with a view on SF Girl by Bay. I’ve talked before about how much I love Amsterdam. Next time I go, I want to spend at least a month, maybe a whole summer, and stay in an apartment just like this one.

4. Good stuff from Jen Louden: How Being a Good Girl Gets in the Way of What Calls You and Finding Your People Right Where You Are.

5. Wisdom from Tama J. Kieves,

Do not be afraid to follow a thousand directions. You are only listening for one voice. You are following heat, light and truth. There is no right answer to find. An inspired life is all about developing a relationship with your own wholeness and love.

6. Good stuff from MindBodyGreen: Why Paleo Didn’t Work For Me, and 5-Step Cleanse To Maximize Thyroid, Adrenal, Immune & Digestive Health, and 5 Ways To Love The Present No Matter How Scared You Are, and 10 Fun Facts About Sweet Potatoes, and The 7 Chakras for Beginners, and Autumn Kale & Quinoa Salad, and 5 Things A Yoga Instructor Should Never Say.

7. Rise and shine: the daily routines of history’s most creative minds on The Guardian.

8. In case you feel like you need permission today… from Kat McNally.

9. Karma points, happy break-ups, true confessions, darkness + light: the BEST things I’ve ever written … that aren’t on this site from Alexandra Franzen.

10. Mudita from Rachel Cole.

11. The Body, Mind, and Space of Self-Care for Creatives – Part 3: The Space on Scoutie Girl.

12. My Pursuit of the Art of Living on Zen Habits.

13. Wisdom from Pema Chödrön,

At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less klesha [i.e. mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions] driven and confused. At that point you’ll actually want to be present—present as you go through a door, present as you take a step, present as you wash your hands or wash a dish, present to being triggered, present to simmering, present to the ebb and flow of your emotions and thoughts. Day in and day out, you’ll find that you notice sooner when you’re hooked, and it will be easier to refrain. If you continue to do this, a kind of shedding happens—a shedding of old habits, a shedding of being run around by pleasure and pain, a shedding of being held hostage by worldly concerns.

14. 3 habits for dissolving envy from Danielle LaPorte.

15. 25 things every woman needs to know from Hanna Brencher.

16. Be Cool and Don’t Be an Asshole, really good advice from Chris Grosso on Huffington Post.

17. Shared on last week’s Positively Present Picks: Need-To-Know: Practical Magic, and 21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors, and The path is not straight, and Dog People Unite Temporary Tattoo, and Be Happy: 46 Proven Techniques to Increase Your Happiness and One Way to Get More Sex, and Convos With My 2-Year-Old – Season 2, Episode 1 – “Dinner Time,” (this whole series is one of the funniest things ever).

And on this week’s list, Socktober from Kid President and Soul Pancake, and How to Do What You Love.

18. feeding the feelings: my confession (please be gentle) from Liv Lane.

19. When did you get the call to service?, a beautiful confession from Andrea Scher on Superhero Life.

20. 10 Dog Training Tips for Rescue Dogs, (which seem like good tips for any dog owner really).

21. The Inconvenient Moments from The Scribbler’s Journal.

22. Tender from Simply Living with Ariana Pritchett.

23. Get Simple and Focus on What Matters Most on Be More With Less.

24. Missing Mahlon from Rowdy Kittens.

25. Hashtags: #MomTexts with Jimmy Fallon.

26. Pack Dog, a website I am afraid to join because of the potential for time suck and cuteness overload.

27. Where Bloggers Blog on Tumblr.

28. 6 Things Every Couple Should Stop Doing from Marc and Angel Hack Life.

29. Claire has a birthday message for her mommy, on Hello Giggles. Warning: Danger Baby alert, (“Danger Baby” is code for a kid so impossibly cute, it will make you want to make, adopt, or steal a tiny human, immediately). Even though this video is only a minute and a half long, you know that the adult who filmed and edited spend hours and hours working on it.

30. Wisdom from Chögyam Trungpa,

We must be willing to be completely ordinary people, which means accepting ourselves as we are without trying to become greater, purer, more spiritual, more insightful. If we can accept our imperfections as they are, quite ordinarily, then we can use them as part of the path. But if we try to get rid of our imperfections, then they will be enemies, obstacles on the road to our “self-improvement.”

31. Wisdom from Mark Nepo, “The reward for kindness is not goodness or being thought well of or even having kindness returned. No, the reward for kindness is joy.”

32. Don’t know if you heard, but I am currently obsessed with all things sweet potato. Here are a few recipes I’m going to try: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas and Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas.

33. The truth about Columbus from The Oatmeal.

34. 3 Powerful Insights About Finding Yourself and Creating Change on Tiny Buddha.

35. What do you do when you DON’T KNOW what to do? from Kute Blackson. This guy has so much good energy, watching one of his videos is like watching someone dance.

36. 7 Ways To Find Your Inner (and Real) Happiness, Ed and Deb Shapiro on Intent Blog.

37. The Other Things We Do: Going to the Dogs, a beautiful post about grief, dogs, and words.

38. The Freedom of Less on Becoming Minimalist.
homecoming1639. Rescued Pit Bull saves foster family’s 4-year-old son on Dog Heirs. What I love about this story is that the mom had initially only planned to foster this dog, but after what TatorTot did for her son, “I am never going to let this dog go…I owe him for the rest of his life.”

40. Potty Talk! [Original] Need a good laugh!? You’ll have tears streaming… It really is the funniest video.

41. Wisdom from Randy Pausch, The key question to keep asking is, “Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”

42. An interview with Susan Piver about the Open Heart Project, in which she shares this wisdom,

If I was to measure my life by how much money is in my bank account, you know, I would not be very happy right now…But if I had to measure my life by how myself can I be every day, and how much can I offer that makes me happy – I don’t mean to sound sappy about it – but it makes me overjoyed to offer this.

43. Wisdom from Laurie Foley, “To do lists used to be my tada lists, summits upon which to plant flags. Now they are merely trailheads where I start letting go.”

44. A piece about Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind Humans of New York, from ABCNews.

45. Dutch TV interview with David Sedaris, (the interview portion is in English).

46. Julie+Nate // Portland Engagement Session, a beautiful set of pictures from Phil Chester. The ones with the light and the trees are brilliant, so beautiful they almost hurt to look at them.

47. Plant Your Feet, a poem from Ken Roberts on Museful Things.

Day of Rest

At Opening The Creative Channel last weekend, the creativity workshop I went to taught by Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner, Laurie led us in session of Wild Writing. She describes the process this way,

For 15 minutes we write as fast as we can, pen never leaving the page. By writing so quickly we are able to push past our inner critic and our ego and all the ways we stay trapped in looking good. This gives us a chance to move into a less self conscious, loose groove where, if we’re lucky, we may stumble into the fertile imagination that lingers within us, conjuring up stories and memories that are waiting to be written.

At the start of each wild writing session, Laurie provides a prompt. Of course it is understood the writing can go anywhere, that we let go and allow it to move, but the prompt is a place to start, to come back to if we get stuck — in the same way our breath can give a focus when we meditate. In one particular session, Laurie shared a poem by Robert Bly, Things to Think.

Think in ways you’ve never thought before.
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.

Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged; or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time, or that it’s
Been decided that if you lie down no one will die.

The specific lines Laurie offered as a place to start, to return to, were “Think in ways you’ve never thought before,” and “if you lie down no one will die.” I was surprised by what I wrote, and at the same time it made complete sense to me, I knew it was the truth — which is the magic of this practice.

This is it, isn’t it? At the heart of all the words and ripped paper and paint and roasted eggplant, there is this — if you lie down no one will die. Maybe sometimes what I’m really afraid of is that if I lie down, everyone will be okay, everyone will keep going, and when I die, no one will notice. I will lie down, I will die, and the world will keep on going. I’ll decompose there on the ground, with the sand and dead leaves, the bugs will devour what doesn’t rot away, I’ll turn to dust, and no one will see it, no one will remember.

So that’s it, isn’t it? The real worry, the true fear, the “creamy center” — I’m afraid of being lost, lying down and dying and having no witness, no one left weeping for me, nothing I ever did or said or made or felt remembered by a single person, the paper I wrote the words on shredded, torn and glue-sticked to someone else’s art, the painting I did with my bare hands handed off to someone else to cover in their own color. I will have lived, struggled and tried so hard and it won’t matter.

And yet, there is a part of me that doesn’t care, thinks maybe that is better, to not matter, to go without hurting anyone, to not leave anything behind that doesn’t get used up in someone else’s effort to make some kind of meaning out of something that can never make sense for any of us — 1000’s of us, years and years, painting in blood on cave walls, creating monuments that aren’t even understood by those who come after, speaking in languages no one will understand once we go quiet.

So it’s okay to let it all go then, the pursuit, the passion, because if you lie down, no one will die, and everyone will die.

Think in ways you’ve never thought before — if it doesn’t matter, you can lean in to the letting go, you can reach for the paint that makes you happy, no judgement, stone stupid, and it doesn’t matter. If a wave knocks you down, you ride it, get up and walk into the next. You notice what you are doing when you are happy and you lean in, and in two minutes, hand your painting to the person next to you, let go and go deeper.

Gratitude Friday

1. Opening The Creative Channel workshop, led by Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner, both fiercely compassionate, and attended by the most amazing group of women, honest and funny and creative. We made the wildest, most wonderful mess together.

2. Paid sick days, being able to sleep in and rest.

3. Eric, the pictures he sends me when he and Sam are out hiking, and how after reading my blog post about our anniversary, he brought me home a Twix candy bar.

Sam's impression of a baby grizzly

Sam’s impression of a baby grizzly

4. A sweet potato and black bean quesadilla from Whole Foods, apparently only the Whole Foods in Berkeley because I went yesterday to look at ours and nothing. Good thing I wrote down what was in it, can try to make it for myself, because it was one of the best things ever.

5. Good soap. It really is the little things that matter.

Bonus Joy: Sam, the best sick day buddy ever, except when he’s stealing my spot on the couch.

samsickdaybuddy

Gratitude Friday

1. The way the colors in the landscape are changing, the shifting light, everything turning golden.

2. The last cucumbers, the final tomatoes. Bittersweet.

3. Susan Piver and the Open Heart Project. Our retreat this past weekend was so beneficial. The whole project is so helpful and good. And Susan…well, I absolutely adore her, will forever and ever be grateful for her wisdom and her friendship.

4. Knowing what I’m doing, some of the time. I know that it’s very enlightened to “only don’t know,” but sometimes it can feel really good to know I am competent.

5. Another workshop at 27 Powers, and the loving husband who supports me going and takes care of things while I’m away. This time it’s this, with Laurie Wagner and Andrea Scher, “Opening the Creative Channel is a gathering of kindred spirits who will share stories, gorgeous food + creative exercises. We’ll write, we’ll pull out cameras and pens, we’ll put words to paper, play with color and even take a field trip, all in the service of opening the creative channel and waking up our intuition so we can hear the sound of our own music.”

Bonus Joy: The different shapes Sam can take, sometimes curled into the tiniest ball, or stretched all the way out like the tallest, longest dog who ever lived.
samstretch