Category Archives: Mondo Beyondo

Life Rehab Resources: Mondo Beyondo

liferehabresourcesToday I want to share with you one of the resources that started it all: Andrea Scher, and more specifically her Mondo Beyondo class, a six week self-paced ecourse “full of powerful stories, exercises, secret missions and audio interviews — all designed to help you clarify your deepest dreams and begin to make them real.”

j7jgymyriam moon mb badge 383How the course works: You get an email each weekday that links you to that day’s lesson, with weekends “off” to catch up, contemplate, further connect with your classmates. The platform Andrea currently uses for the course, Ruzuku, allows course members to post responses directly to that day’s offering, and to communicate with each other through comments. And yet, you don’t have to. You can take the course, gain all the good without ever adding to the larger group discussion. It’s totally up to you how you want to participate. The Ruzuku platform also has the added bonus of making the course available to you even after it’s over, and Andrea also provides other ways for members of a session to keep in touch. I have made many friends that continue to be encouraging and supportive of my dreaming process, as I am to them, and I often return to the lessons for a refresher on the practice.

This course fundamentally shifted the way I approach my life, the way I see myself. When I first found Andrea’s blog, I was searching, knew that I had abandoned myself and my dreams but didn’t know how to find my way back. I was instantly drawn to her and what she had to offer, and signed up for my first session of Mondo Beyondo the same month I started this blog. I have since taken Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab, Superhero Photo, Cultivating Courage, and been a teaching assistant for Mondo Beyondo twice. I was also lucky enough this fall to take an in-person weekend workshop with Andrea. She has become a dear and valued friend.

For me, 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. She invited me to expand my idea of what was possible. She encourages me, is kind and honest. She is constantly admitting the things that are hard and messy, while still pointing out what’s beautiful and precious.

andrea_cherr_497Having been in Mondo Beyondo a few times now, what I’ve noticed is that people come to the course from all over the place, in their lives and the world. Some people don’t know what their dreams even are, some had dreams but they don’t seem to fit anymore, some are afraid to even let themselves dream, some don’t feel worthy of their dreams, some are afraid to try and maybe fail, some think it’s too late for their dreams, some know their dreams but don’t see how they’d be possible in the context of an already full life, some know their dreams but don’t know where to even begin to make them come true.

This course has room for all of these perspectives. And Andrea says it best in the course description that while this course encourages you to dream bigger, in the end it’s not about dreams coming true.

It’s about who we are becoming in the pursuit of our dreams. Are we becoming the most alive version of ourselves? The bravest, most authentic expressions of who we are? That’s how our dreams serve us. They tell us who we are and who we are becoming. They pull us toward a version of ourselves that inspires.

I confess, the first Mondo Beyondo list of dreams I made seemed utterly insane. It had things on it like “meet Brene’ Brown,” “have an audience of 1000 for my blog,” “become a yoga teacher,” and “meet and be friends with Andrea Scher.” That sounds crazy, right? And yet, most of those things have already happened, and the one that hasn’t will be starting this coming weekend when I begin yoga teacher training.

dreamwithfeathersWhat I learned through this course is having the dream is ultimately the only thing you need to start making it come true. Getting clear about what you want most, about what you value, is what clarifies the steps you need to take to get “there.” With what I learned in this course, I am able to form new dreams, get clear about what I want, stick with them and be flexible as they evolve, and either embody that dream or move on to a new one. I can manifest things for myself that I wasn’t able to even imagine before. I have the courage to try.

I have taken so many ecourses in the past two years. I often joke that it’s like I earned another graduate degree, a curriculum of my own design. Out of all those courses, Mondo Beyondo made the biggest difference, had the most impact.

And lucky, lucky you, kind and gentle reader: the next session of Mondo Beyondo starts on Monday, January 6th, and Andrea is offering a special deal, bring a friend for free! I know lots of people who took the course with a significant other, friend or sibling, and it seemed to be a good experience for them.

I adore Andrea, and am so grateful for her work, her truth and her light, which have been of such great benefit to me as I stumble along. Even if taking a course with her doesn’t work for you right now, I encourage you to check out her website, read her blog, follow her on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or read her Self-Compassion Saturday post. She is the embodiment of “something good.”

Gratitude Friday

1. So many tomatoes and peaches and so much watermelon I am almost sick of them. In our abundance, the other day I was eating some cherry tomatoes and thought to myself, “I don’t know if I can eat another one of these,” but I know come October or November, I’ll bite into one from the grocery store and its lack of flavor will make me want to cry.

2. The opportunity to start a new project at my CSU work. I’ll admit, I get bored easily in that position because I don’t just get to do whatever I want (I know, “wah, get over yourself”), so new stuff gives me a little bump of excitement and energy.

3. Teach assisting for Mondo Beyondo. This is my second time, and I love, love, love helping Andrea and getting to be there as the amazing students in that class spark and pop.

4. Open Heart Project. This is such a gift, every week, every day, every moment, every breath.

5. Spit & Polish with Laurie Wagner and Jennifer Louden. I am so excited about this! A whole weekend with two of my favorite teachers, writers, women, writing and working with a whole group of what I am sure will be equally amazing women.

I finally get to meet Sherry in person!

Bonus Joy: Because the Spit & Polish workshop is in CA, located very close to other women I love and adore, I get to meet and hang out with some other extra super special women as well. Lucky me!

Self-Compassion Saturday: Andrea Scher

If you are like me, kind and gentle reader, there are certain moments or events, certain people and experiences that have changed you, transformed you in the best possible ways. And if you are like me you carry the memory, the love and gratitude for those times and people tucked inside your heart forever, the most precious of things held close.

One of the people I treasure in this way is Andrea Scher. I wrote her an open love letter exactly one year ago, posted Saturday the 16th of June in 2012. That post even included the above picture! I didn’t know either of these things until I started writing this post today. This is the exact kind of magic that Andrea attracts, generates, inspires.

self-portrait by andrea scher

self-portrait by andrea scher

I’ve lost tract of the number of classes I’ve taken with Andrea, but each one of them has been that particular kind of magic. The first Mondo Beyondo session I did, my first class with her, happened at the same time I started this blog, inspired me to finally start. That experience came full circle when Andrea invited me to be her teaching assistant for the most recent session of Mondo Beyondo. She has always been so incredibly generous, and her wise and compassionate coaching is helping me to create some of my own future ecourses, and beyond that to create a life that I am utterly in love with living. I am who I am right now in large part because of her support and encouragement. In the open love letter I wrote to her, I said,

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.

Photo by Mara

Photo by Mara

I found Andrea Scher’s original 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?).

I’m so happy to be sharing Andrea’s answers to my four questions today.

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

andrea scher, taken by laurie wagner

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

I’ve heard that compassion means “to suffer with.” What a gift, right? To not have to suffer alone, to allow somebody’s suffering but sit right down next to them and maybe even hold their hand.

Self-compassion is learning to suffer with ourselves. It’s extending the same kind of kindness we would to a dear friend. It’s learning to sit with ourselves and allow our suffering, to hold our own hand.

Practically, this means that we can acknowledge when we are suffering and not push it away, or tell ourselves it’s not that bad, or you don’t deserve to complain… These are some of the things I used to tell myself, echoes of what some important grownups in my life affirmed. For me, self-compassion is allowing myself to feel my feelings (even if they make others uncomfortable) and letting them move through me. (They always do)

Then it’s about using a kind voice to ask good questions: What would help right now? What do you need most? or What feels hardest?

image by jen gray

image by jen gray

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

Mostly, I learned from going through hard things and NOT being particularly compassionate with myself. This kept me stuck so much longer than necessary.

I cultivated a kind inner voice when I became a parent. Once I became a mother I noticed what my own self-talk sounded like – You idiot! You’re always messing things up! This was not a voice I wanted to pass on to my kids! So I practiced speaking really gently to my son. Over time it became a habit and I started addressing myself this way too. What a beautiful side effect of practicing non-harm and gentleness.

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

Recently, I learned a beautiful exercise from Kristin Neff. When you are having a rough moment, try this: Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes and say, “This is suffering.” Then take a breath and say it again.

It’s such a simple practice, but really profound.

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self portrait by andrea, eyes closed

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

This is going to sound very unscientific, but I must have carved a deep neuro-pathway in my brain that goes like this: Someone gets annoyed or angry with me. I completely FREAK OUT and do whatever I can to make it better (including betraying myself and my truth in the process) and if I don’t get a response from them or they are still angry, I believe that I must be a horrible, broken and unlovable person who doesn’t deserve to be alive.

I know. Totally dramatic, right?

I suppose I am making progress because I have a consciousness around this string of thoughts. It’s still very painful though… Next time, I’m going to put my hand on my heart and simply say: This is suffering.

andrea_cherr_497

You can see why I adore her so much, right? Since she sent me her answers, many times I have closed my eyes and put my hand over my heart. In that moment, imagining Andrea’s kindness, her smile, contemplating my love and gratitude for her is a path towards loving myself, her light leads the way. To find out more about Andrea, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Laurie Wagner.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

The Truth

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The imagination needs moodling – long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling, and puttering. ~Brenda Ueland

My creative process isn’t tidy, and parts of it are quite painful. I have a longing, followed by an intention, but then there’s resistance to work with, obstacles to work through, a lot of moodling and outright avoidance happens before I even start, as I must eventually.

In the same way I feel stiff some mornings at the beginning of a walk or a yoga class, but eventually warm up, I start to write. At first I move to be moving even though there’s no grace in it and it might be messy and awful and not feel good. I show up and move because I must, there simply is no other option. It is just this way with writing, with making anything with my heart and my hands.

scribble

But eventually there is a shift, a spark, a warming, and I move into a flow, I’m connected and creating. It makes sense, feels good, and there are moments of beauty and grace and truth.

This happened the other day, when I sat down to work on a submission for The Sun Magazine’s Reader’s Write feature. Each month, there is a single word, and reader’s submit a short piece of nonfiction in response, “subjects on which they’re the only authorities.” It’s on my Mondo Beyondo list to be selected for publication in this section someday, so I’m going to start submitting something every month. The word I was working with was “honesty.”

tribefeather

Nothing came at first. Then I started scribbling, just to be writing something, anything, but it was all total crap, like a freshman composition essay that starts with “Webster’s Dictionary defines honesty as…” or “Since the beginning of mankind, the dawn of time, the birth of civilization, humans have struggled with the concept of honesty.” I let myself go like that, then got a little closer to something real, an acceptable collection of words but nothing special.

Another run, a fresh start using one moment from that collection, extended and connected to something else, something bigger, and it all starts to work, there is a subtle magic there which I hadn’t expected, couldn’t have planned. I had to show up when I didn’t really want to, start without a plan, keep going even though it wasn’t working, stay with it until I had moved towards the light.

There is a lot of trust involved in that. You have to remember every time starts slow and seems hopeless, trust that if you maintain your effort, stay open and in your seat, something will arise, will arrive to meet you there. You have to be willing to practice, to show up for the process with an open heart and allow it to happen, invite and accept whatever wants to come.

dreamwithfeathers

Here’s what I’ll be submitting, Honesty, which ended up being a mix of something old and something new:

The way we were taught to write academic essays in grade school was so painful—consult an encyclopedia or textbook for the facts, make an outline, retell the story using your own words but don’t use “I.” I resisted writing one particular history essay in the 6th grade so completely that I didn’t even start it, which forced me into a lie.

The 6th grade is a particularly awkward and confusing time for girls everywhere. I’d started my period before any of my friends and was hiding it from them through elaborate measures, including an especially desperate shower routine after gym class. I was fairly popular, which isn’t so hard in a small town, a small school where there were less than 10 girls in your class. But I wore long sleeves to hide the tiny warts that had developed on my elbows, and a pair of Sticky Fingers painter style jeans that I put on every day because they were the most fashionable thing I had ever owned. Other kids teased me, called it my “uniform,” said my pants must be so dirty from wearing them so much that they could probably stand up on their own.

The day the history essay was due, I panicked, couldn’t admit I hadn’t done my homework—upset my parents, disappoint my teacher, shame and embarass myself. One of the things I was popular for, praised for was being smart, a good student. So I lied, said I’d finished it but lost it, tried but couldn’t find it. I claimed to have lost it in the classroom somewhere, and my teacher had the whole class help look for it. When we couldn’t find it, he gave me an extension, extra time to finish another essay.

This is the same teacher that told me later in the year, after a few creative writing assignments, “You could be a writer if you wanted to. You could be anything you want to be.” He was sitting in a bright red, child-sized chair, knees pushed up into his chest, leaning towards me with his eyes wide, gesturing his hands wildly at the future he wanted me to be able to see. He believed in my potential and encouraged me to believe also. I was desperate to believe him, to believe such a thing about myself—the girl who sweat too much, cried herself to sleep sometimes, and loved books more than anything. I had trouble internalizing his faith as my own, but I held tight to the memory, turning it over and around in my mind, watching the way the light would catch it. It seemed like the truth.

I Surrender.

treeshadowicecrackThe ponds at Lee Martinez are singing as they melt–humming, gurgling, snapping and cracking. The places where the ice is softening around the edges form patterns that look like the shadows of trees, their bare branches stretching out over the surface of the water.

Today feels like it could be spring. The sky over Fort Collins is clear and bright blue, the sun is shining and it’s warm. It seems like the population has suddenly doubled because everyone is outside.

aqua

I feel like my color this year is aqua–sea glass, soft turquoise mixed with deep blue. The color of water, the color of the sometimes sky, the color of the typewriter and the water and the arrows on my 2013 vision board, one of the colors in my eyes. Bridget Pilloud wrote about it on The Intuitive Bridge today, saying of the color:

It’s speaking your truth. It’s hearing the truth of others. It’s synthesizing intuitive information with observed information.

Aqua is especially important to speakers and writers, to singers, to teachers, because in an Aqua year, you grow in your ability to speak and listen, to synthesize information, to integrate your energy.

Aqua also gives the gift of the greatest healing and the strongest connection. And when your heart is healed, you learn that life is much simpler than you’ve thought, that you’re a better person than you ever imagined and that you knew the whole story all along.

myeye

I feel inspired by the students in Mondo Beyondo, allowing themselves to want what they want, to dream big, some of them for the first time in a long time, some of them for the first time ever.

I feel inspired, as well as supported and encouraged by the students in Cultivating Courage, who are practicing bravery, making big and small moves every day, who are pushing against their edges, daring greatly, opening their hearts and telling the truth.

I am inspired by my friends who are learning to ask for help when they need it, who are reaching out for support, asking for assistance.

I am inspired by Andrea Scher, who creates safe spaces for her students to connect, to contemplate, to dare, to take chances. I’m also inspired by her own acts of courage, her willingness to ask for help, her willingness to invest in herself.

In the midst of this contemplation, this thawing, softening, this cultivation of courage and inspiration, this practice of bravery and dreaming, I am considering the obstacles to my freedom, and what I need to do to dissolve them.

freedomthanksgivingcrow

Last week, I had to make a big deal doctor’s appointment. There was some shame, guilt, anxiety, panic involved in the multistage process, and after it was all taken care of, scheduled, I ate half a bag of chips (popped and organic, but still), two slices of toast with butter (organic bread, but still), and a whole box of Annie’s Organic mac and cheese for “lunch.” I have told you before that I am a highly functioning food addict, and there was something about this particular incident that brought me to a “I give up, I surrender, I’ve had enough” moment.

I feel afraid or stuck when I see myself falling into old and discursive habits, ways of being and thinking. While I’m better than I used to be, more aware, kinder and gentler, healthier, when I get too stressed or tired, overwhelmed, when I start to go off the rails, when I feel my body getting heavy and my thoughts racing and my heart feeling dull, it’s hard to not freak out, hard to not feel trapped, having never truly been without this “thing,” this monster that lives in my belly, this frozen spot in my mind and my heart.

And you know what, kind and gentle reader? I’ve had it. I am over it, done. I need to be free of this. I surrender, and I’m admitting I need help. Just before I started writing this post, I contacted a therapist (whose practice is a mix of Western and Buddhist theories) and requested a meeting.

crow

I surrender. I surrender to radical self-acceptance, to truth, to reality, to this:

There is no love affair, no perfect best friend, no all-mighty parent, no incredible career, no ideal body, no distant and separate God/dess that can make up for the aching want, the hole, the yearning, that exists beneath the surface and at the center of our lives. It can only be healed by cultivating a dangerously authentic, reciprocal love affair with the bare truth of who we are, and allowing ourselves to become infused with a sacred courage that teaches us how to embody and articulate the essence of a truth that we’ve had since before we were born. Holding that truth so close to ourselves that it cuts into our hearts as a real, deep love and moves through our breath as the sound of our truest voice is all that we have ever looked for in anything or anyone else. It is also the only thing the universe has ever looked for from us. ~Grace Emilie

Shower, Eat, and Meditate

janmorningskyEven though I’ve been posting Small Stones and I rewrote my About page, I’ve skipped some of my regular posts lately, didn’t do a Three Truths and One Wish this week, haven’t been Wishcasting regularly, and in general, I feel like I haven’t been “around” as much lately. And yet, it’s been a necessary shift.

This past week, I started as a teaching assistant for Mondo Beyondo. That course is even more amazing than I remember, and this time through, I’m seeing so many new things, still getting so much out of it for myself as a student. I’m so eager for Andrea to feel like it was right and good to ask me to help, and so excited for the wonderful people involved, so happy to be there that I have to be careful to not run around like a big clumsy Great Dane puppy, barking and knocking things over and generally annoying everyone with my enthusiasm. I’m trying to be really careful to keep the “volume” down, but I just love that class and Andrea’s work so much–but you already knew that. (P.S. Cultivating Courage starts on Monday, January 14th, and there’s still room in Mondo Beyondo).

janmorningsky13

In other news, I’m trying not to panic that I have to start back at my paid work on Monday. This morning, I made a “Big To-Do” list of everything I have going on next week, in the hopes I could put that all aside, having it now organized, and not have to think about it anymore this weekend. That sort of worked, but then again all day I’ve been thinking today is Sunday, that I start back tomorrow, and that doesn’t feel nice.

Here’s the real issue: I currently have two full-time jobs, my paid work and my heart’s work. And it is about to get even crazier, because on Monday two more classes will start, Cultivating Courage and The Story of You. I have two long meetings next week, and had to schedule things like getting a haircut, going to the eye doctor, and having the plumber finally come fix our leaky sink in the bathroom, along with going back to CSU and doing that work.

janmorningsky28

My strategy, my mantra has become “shower, eat, and meditate.” I already have a set morning routine, what happens from 4:30-8:00 am–feed the dogs, drink half a cup of coffee while I write my morning pages, check in with my email and Facebook and blog, and then either walk the dogs, go to yoga or the gym. Where I can get stuck is when I come back home to get ready for work, what happens between 8 and 9 am. I got in the habit while on break of “just checking one thing, real quick” before getting in the shower, which would usually lead to me being on the computer for two or three hours instead, and by then being so hungry that I’d eat whatever was fast, not what I really wanted or what was healthy, and once I showered, it would be so late, I’d think “I can’t meditate now, I have work I want to do, so I’ll meditate later,” and later never came because by the time I’d stop working, I was too tired, would allow myself to skip it.

So this mantra, “shower, eat, and mediate,” reminds me to take care of myself, both literally (these are the things I need to do first thing, that I seem to need help remembering, that I tend to skip in order to help or love someone else) and it also triggers a bigger remembering of necessary self-care, self-love, reminding me of the place to begin, to let go and come back to center.

And this busyness, this activity is just how things are going to have to be for awhile. Unless my fairy godmother shows up, I win the lottery, or a kind benefactor decides to fund my heart’s work, I need to keep my job that pays. As for the rest, I will keep taking tiny steps, dreaming my big dreams, anticipating mystery and magic and surprises, and learning to love and care for myself along the way. This is my life, and I am completely in love with it.

Gratitude Friday

leemartinezjan

This post started as a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.

1. Salted Caramel Cocoa in my morning coffee and Clementines. Sometimes, it really is about the little things, sweet and comforting.

2. Mondo Beyondo. Andrea Scher’s vision, her guidance, Jen Lemen’s powerful and inspiring words, the opportunity I have to help and to learn and to revisit this transformative experience, the amazing group of people taking part. I am gobsmacked with gratitude.

3. Amazing people whose wholehearted work continues to make my life, the world better. Andrea Scher, Jen Lemen, Susan Piver, Jennifer Louden, Patti Digh, Brene’ Brown, Rachel Cole, Hannah Marcotti, Jonathan Fields, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Pema Chödrön, Susannah Conway, Sas Petherick, Sherry Belul, Laurie Wagner, and–like any good speech or acknowledgement page, I’m sure I am forgetting more than one someone who should absolutely be on this list. The fact that these and so many others show up each day with courage and an open heart fills me with so much gratitude.

P.S. a short list of those I forgot: Julia Fehrenbacher, Judy Clement Wall, Mary Anne Radmacher, Amy McCraken, Erica Staab, Lindsey Mead, Stacy Morrison, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, Justine Musk…I’ll come back if I think of more (there are SO many).

4. The space this time away from paid work has allowed. As I said before, it’s given me the room necessary to get much clearer about things.

5. Downton Abbey. It’s back and I can watch it for free online. I can’t understand why this show makes me so happy, it just does.

Bonus Joy: Another week with Dexter. Last week, he had a bit of a rough patch, a bloody nose that took a few days to settle down, but this was another good week.

on the oval at csu

on the oval at csu