Category Archives: Mondo Beyondo

Something Good

First, I have to share my good news, a big announcement: I am a teaching assistant in the current session of Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen’s Mondo Beyondo ecourse!!! What the what?! Oh yeah, me. It is every kind of awesome and I am so excited I can hardly stand it.


Yep, that’s me, my class bio…holy wow.

As a special gift to you, kind and gentle reader, Andrea is offering a $20 off coupon for A Thousand Shades of Gray readers, just enter the code “newdreams20” when you register. I’d love to see you there, and can’t say enough good things about the class. I was thinking about it yesterday, and realized that it is the place it all started for me: my session of Mondo Beyondo started on 9/12/11 and I published my first blog post 9/16/11.

P.S. This is zero week for the course, but there’s still time and room to register.

Okay, back to the regularly scheduled list of goodness:


1. Downton Abbey, Season Three, Episode One. You can watch it online at, (guess what I’ll be doing later?)

2. Danielle LaPorte TruthBomb: You are the answer to your own question.

3. Also from Danielle Laporte, What’s Holding You Back? and Curatives for judgement. (Please read before you interact with other humans.) And this morning on Facebook, she shared this:

Wisdom from Anita Moorjani: Many of us who have spent years trying to work on improving ourselves often end up being our own worst critics. We judge ourselves harshly if we feel fear or a sense of loss or depression. We feel that “with everything we have read and learned, we should know better by now” and feel as though we have gone backwards in our learning, and can’t figure out where we went wrong. It leaves us wondering what we have missed, or what we have yet to learn to get out of this space. This feeling keeps us in constant search for more information. This is a fallout of the “self-help movement”.

If this is you, I’d like to say that first of all, don’t judge yourself for feeling the way you are feeling. Embrace yourself and who you are and where you are at, right now. Remember, you are the sum total of every moment of your life up to this point in time. Embrace it. Accept it. And when we are able to fully embrace and accept it, including accepting the fear, depression, or sadness we are feeling, it is usually followed by a feeling of relief. There is nothing we need to do. Embrace where you are. If you are still feeling heavy with what you are left with even after accepting it, then surrender who you are to the universe. Realize that there is no “new information” or “understanding” out there that you need to pursue. Just surrender. Empty yourself to the universe, or to the god of your understanding, or whatever, and say “here, take me. This is me now. This is who and how I am right now.” And then there should be this deep feeling of relief.

4. It Doesn’t Matter Why. Resolving to Change Your Eating Before the New Year. from Drop It and Eat.

5. In an interview in The Sun Magazine, Parker J. Palmer says: “When individuals don’t know what to do with their suffering, they do violence to others or themselves — through substance abuse and extreme overwork, for example.”

6. 50 Most WTF Animal Pics Of The Year from BuzzFeed, “Animals are Weird. Real Weird.”

7. There was a Time, from Jennifer Louden.

8. Should Buddhist Meditation Make You Happy? by Robert Wright from The Atlantic.

9. Note from the Universe:

In all things, Jill, always and forever, simply wish the best for all
involved, without stating what you think that is. And then, whatever does happen, no matter what happens, know that it was.

10. Your Daily Rock: Simple Wisdom on Patti Digh’s 37 Days.

11. Begin from Life After Tampons.

12. The Sacred Quiet from Jen Lee.

13. It’s 2013 and Time to LEAP!! from Kute Blackson.

14. Little Things Add Up from Slow Love Life, (by way of Lindsey Mead of A Design So Vast and her More Things I Love Lately list). Lindsey also shared an amazing quote in her post All There Will Ever Be.

15. The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin, the book trailer:

16. From Patti Digh’s Thinking Thursday:

Your life, with its immensity and fear
…now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.
~from Evening, by Rainer Maria Rilke

17. Recipes I want to try (the first two were shared by Patti Digh):

18. The Creativity Interviews: Writer-teacher-entrepreneur Alexandra Franzen on Judy Clement Wall’s website. Two of my favorite women talking about one of my favorite things.

19. This quote from Charlotte Joko Beck:

Every moment in life is absolutely itself. That’s all we have. There is nothing other than this present moment; there is no past, there is no future; there is nothing but this. So when we don’t pay attention to every little this, we miss the whole thing.

And the contents of this can be anything. This can be straightening our sitting mats, chopping an onion, talking to one we don’t want to talk to. It doesn’t matter what the contents of the moment are; each moment is absolute. That’s all there is, and all there ever will be.

20. An igloo made out of colored ice blocks.

21. Out On a Limb by Seth Godin, in which he says, “It turns out that I don’t just write for you. I also write to remind myself of what I’m hoping to become as well.”

22. This quote from Tara Brach: “You can’t wake up the heart if you’re not in your body.”

23. One Little Word 2013 | The Words from Ali Edwards.

August Break: Day Ten

Yesterday, I bought myself flowers. The name on the wrapper was “salmon babies.” I love having fresh flowers in the house, especially on my writing desk. They are a constant reminder of how beautiful life is, but also how short and fragile. The Buddha said “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” And yet, I was feeling so guilty about the money I was spending ($9.99 plus tax) that I almost put them back.

This week is sadly the last of the summer session of Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab, and yesterday we got our final secret mission: buy yourself flowers. I didn’t read the email until after I returned home, still feeling guilty and shameful about the purchase, the indulgence. When I did read it, I cried–every message I received from this course made me cry. I’m not exaggerating: every one, every time.

The theme of the course was rest, play, and kindness. It was all about practicing self-love and self-care in areas I’ve previously avoided, ignored, rejected even. The permission, the invitation to allow these things to manifest in my life, to actively cultivate them filled me with gratitude and joy, overwhelmed me with tender sadness and relief.

I bought myself flowers, and felt bad about it, and then the universe sent me a message: caring for myself is not selfish, loving myself isn’t something to feel guilty about, rest isn’t lazy, play isn’t a waste of time, and the abundance and joy I welcome into my life won’t diminish anyone else’s share.

Three Truths and One Wish

1. Truth: You are capable of so much more. Whatever you think you can do or have or be, whatever you imagine, your opportunity and potential are so much more than that, so much bigger. Whoever you want to meet, whatever you want to learn, wherever you want to go, whatever you want to accomplish is possible, so invite it, try, at the very least begin to entertain the idea, dream, plan, wish. Take that first step, some tiny action that manifests your intention, focuses your attention.

Of course, things don’t always turn out as we planned, and our imagination is limited, so once we start, we have to keep ourselves open to what arises, not try to force or control an outcome, and be realistic, because you can wish all you want to be a unicorn or meet a hobbit or be a foot taller, but none of those things are going to literally happen. And yet,

I am larger, better than I thought;
I did not know I held so much goodness.
~Walt Whitman

2. Truth: You are already free. All of the limitations and restrictions you put on yourself, your possibility and potential, are of your own creation. You are afraid, so you tell yourself “can’t” or “impossible.” You think you must earn love and belonging (rather than believing it is your birthright), so you tell yourself “should” and “have to” and “no.” You do all this even though the truth is that you are able to try anything and are already enough.

If we cannot give up our lives to something larger than ourselves – to
something larger than the conditioned mind that we imagine is who we
are – then we cannot be free. ~Justin McKay

3. Truth: You are the only thing in your way. If you are waiting for something to happen, stop waiting and happen. Take the first step, make a start, do one small thing. Show up and remain open to the possibility of the moment. Allow your heart, your gut, your intuition, your innate wisdom and compassion, love to guide you. Move out of the way and allow your basic goodness to manifest, as it naturally and organically will if you would only step aside.

You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way. ~Richard Bach

One wish: That we can get out of our own way and realize our full potential. That we can manifest in the world that which we were born to be and do.

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.

Gratitude Friday

This post is 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. Tiny spring flowers. How do they get them so small?! There are two huge beds of them as you enter from the south side of campus by the parking garage at CSU, tiny daffodils and tulips and a few others I can’t even name, all in miniature but such bright color, such big joy in my heart when I see them. I know the picture above looks like a regular sized daffodil, but it’s full bloom was no bigger than a quarter.

2. Susannah Conway is going to be at World Domination Summit in July, and so am I! She’s proposed a session called “Writing from the Heart” and I hope it gets enough votes to run, but at the very least, I am going to be able to tell her in person, right to her sweet face, how much I adore her. It was on my Mondo Beyondo list to do just that some day, and it looks like it’s going to happen.

3. Eating clean and drinking juice. After two weeks of this, I cannot tell you how good I feel, not just physically but emotionally. My brain works better, I am happier, I have more energy. So simple, so profound.

4. Spring. I know, I know…blah, blah, blah. But, I can’t help but mention it again–the weather, everything budding out and blooming, sitting in the backyard reading, watching Dexter roll in the grass and Sam chase the squirrels. Although, this is Colorado, so Spring weather this week meant it was 80 degrees on Sunday and snowing on Tuesday.

5. This week, I got the best (and most surprising) compliment: she called me “positive.” After years of struggling with anxiety and depression, thinking of myself as moody and dark and disgruntled, it makes me so happy that people are noticing and appreciating the change, the shift in me.

6. WILD. My writing group met today, and we had so much fun, even made Full Moon Dreamboards together. I adore those women.

7. Laurie Wagner’s Telling True Stories. Class officially starts on Monday, but there’s lots of prep happening already, lots of anticipation and excitement. To add to my own personal hysteria, I just found out that Andrea Scher, author of Superhero Journal, and teacher of Mondo Beyondo (the course that started it all for me) and Superhero Photo is going to be there too! I owe Andrea so much gratitude, that even after nine months, I still haven’t worked out quite how to communicate it–it’s just too much.

Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop Intro

Sometimes, when Eric or I have a big presentation to give, we like to “talk it out,” to practice, either alone or with a small, respectful, safe audience (usually the dogs). I am going to introduce the Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop tomorrow, explain why I instigated it and invited Rachel to come. I’m anxious, a little nervous, and so excited for this, the whole event, the whole weekend, and the introduction, so I’m going to practice it here. This is going to be a longer version of what I’ll actually say tomorrow, because although I am planning and practicing, I won’t have notes and am going to trust my heart in that moment to tell me what to say and how to say it, but it will help me to write it out, to share it in a safe space with a gentle, loving audience.

First I want to say: you all are so brave for being here. Signing up for this, you knew you wouldn’t be able to fake your way through it, sit in the back of a large lecture hall and pretend to be invisible. You knew you would be making yourself vulnerable, taking a risk–your heart might open, you might see and speak truth, you might be shocked, uncomfortable, comforted, and inspired to do different, to be different, to wake up, to live the life you have imagined, and to imagine that it’s exactly what you deserve, to know that you are enough. You knew that shit might just get real, but you signed up anyway. I hope that you have given yourself credit for how brave that is.

As the instigator of this event, I have my own reasons for being here. Two years ago, I lost two beings that I loved very much, both too young to die, both taken by cancer. I was also in the midst of a toxic work situation, and even though being a writer was the thing I had wanted most since I was in the second grade, I had struggled with writer’s block for 20 years, and I was a highly functioning food addict. I was at a crisis point. Something had to change, everything had to change.

I decided to start by being a better friend to myself. I renegotiated my job. I took my practices of yoga, meditation, and writing more seriously. Early on in this process, I had a realization: I had been in a long-term abusive relationship, with myself. To work on that, I embarked on a life-rehab. I started by reading Brene’ Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I started writing this blog. I took online classes, the first with Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen, Mondo Beyondo: an Online Class about Dreaming Big. I had already been reading Andrea’s Superhero Journal blog and Jen Lemen’s blog, and one day, Andrea posted about her friend Rachel Cole. There was this picture of Rachel leaning in the doorway of her kitchen, wearing an apron and holding a cherry raspberry pie. Her smile made me smile.

I clicked on the link and went to Rachel’s website. The content and design of her site communicates so perfectly who she is: creative, alive, vibrant, but also calm, peaceful, stable. She is both inspiring and supportive, she glows with energy and love. I became a faithful reader, a follower, and hoped I’d get to meet and work with her some day–so when she mentioned she was “taking it on the road” and doing a tour, I emailed her and asked how I could get her to come to Colorado.

And now, she’s here, we are here with her, so let’s not waste any more time. Everyone, I’d like you to meet Rachel Cole.


As I was working on cataloging my journals yesterday, I made a timeline, to track back when this particular change in me and my life began. I started writing the blog five months ago, and this life-rehab can sometimes feel like it happened just as recently, but THIS exact shift has been happening for at least three years, like water wearing away at a stone–freezing and thawing, dripping, rushing over and past, slowly changing its shape, causing cracks where the light gets in.

Image: Evgeni Dinev,

Some highlights from the timeline:

2007: Therapy. Shambhala Training. Meditation practice.

2008: Yoga. Fitness trainer.

2009: Obi and Kelly diagnosed with cancer the same week. Obi starts chemotherapy. Obi’s cancer goes into remission. Warrior Assembly at Shambhala Mountain Center. Obi’s cancer comes back and we make the decision to stop chemotherapy. Kelly’s cancer comes back too. Obi dies in November.

2010: Major changes to my job, a long and difficult situation finally is resolved. We get Sam. Kelly passes away and I fly to Kentucky for her memorial service. I do a one day writing retreat with a friend that reminds me who I am, what I have always wanted. I restart a daily writing practice. We spend a month in Waldport, Oregon at the beach. I do a weekend online meditation retreat with Pema Chödrön, “Smile at Fear.”

2011: I take a few meditation classes to reestablish my sitting practice. Once a month for four months, I take a day long creative non-fiction writing workshop. Publish an article about Kelly. Join an Artist’s Way group and finally finish the book, having started it the first time ten years ago. 10 years at Colorado State University. WILD writing group starts to meet. Yoga Nidra & Loving-Kindness workshop with Ed & Deb Shapiro, 30 days of unlimited Yoga classes at Old Town Yoga Studio, and Yoga Immersion workshop shift Yoga to a true practice, (no longer just exercise). 25 year high school reunion, (I don’t go). Start a book couple with a friend, reading Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown. EClasses: Mondo Beyondo, Superhero Photo, and Ordinary Courage. First blog post.

This gradual building, this wave of energy that ripples out into every part of my life, is illustrated by the “bar graph” of my journals–those places where I take notes, record events, vent my feelings, list ideas, doodle, dream and remember and plan.

And this timeline, this review of things reminds me also that true change happens slowly, like water wearing away at a rock, and even then, the basic truth of me–my wisdom and compassion, my calling–doesn’t ever change, it remains constant and the same.