growing pains

Rae Dunn mug, Canon Rebel Xti

These past few months have been full of growing pains. Ever since Squam really (where I was cracked open completely) I have been trying to put myself back together again. I knew what happened was big, but I wasn’t sure where to put that experience or what story to tell about it.

I still don’t know for sure. What I do know is that a new layer of vulnerability has opened up in me and my guess is that is a good thing, however uncomfortable it may feel. My hope is that I am carving out space for better, deeper and truer connection. This is the good news. The bad news is that it is painful! and not at all what I signed up for and my ego feels a bit crabby about it all.

Last week I spent a day with Kelly Rae on the eve of her moving to Seattle. We had a sweet girly afternoon shopping, having lunch and taking photos of each other on a street corner while men in trucks rolled by and whistled. It was fun and we laughed a lot… and while we ate lunch and she asked me how I was really doing, the tears rolled and tumbled and I couldn’t catch them fast enough and pretty soon i was crying in the middle of that pretty outdoor cafe and hoping nobody noticed. She held my words so gently that I felt sure a new layer of healing had happened right there on the spot. (thank you kelly)

At the end of the day we stopped by the Paper Source where I found some cardboard letters to glitterfy for a friend’s baby room and we commented on the beautiful Rae Dunn mugs.

Kelly: Don’t you love her stuff?
Me: She is one my all time favorites! Do you know she is local? I’ve met her several times over the years and she is lovely.


Me: You know what’s weird? Last week I found one of her mugs on the street, in perfect shape, just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. It had a little tree on it and the word “Grow.” I took it home of course.
Kelly: And… it didn’t occur to you that it was a message from the universe?!!
Me: (smiling) Oh yeah…

Growing can often sneak up on you. You may not feel like it and it may seem like terrible timing and it might be against your will and it can be messy and vulerable, but the universe insists on it anyway. I’m noticing that the more I can trust that all of this opening up is creating space for more joy and richness, the more I can accept it with more grace and gratitude.

Where are you growing in your life right now?

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. Wanda

    Fantastic. You grow, girl!

  2. mamie

    god, i have really missed your posting.
    want to hear something kinda cool regarding the universe and signs? we went apple picking a few weeks ago, not long after reading your post on labyrinths. we were on our way home with two chilled but still moderately happy little boys and i happened to glance at a sign that told me there was a labyrinth there. not more than an hour from my home.
    i remember reading the post and thinking i want to grow more, to find the opportunity for growth in a full and good life that i feel sometimes lacks something. not depth, but a way to share my depth.
    so my planned growth is to move in a direction of sharing more of my depth and less of my surface…whether with friends or in blogging or in work…now, to challenge myself to get to the growing part.
    and just so you now, whatever growing pains happening in and for you, well, i think the resulting woman to emerge will be unbelievable…thought you were before the growing, so the after is gonna be something.
    sorry for the novel, told you i missed you.

  3. vanessa

    oh man- this is so hitting home.growth is everywhere right now- my new baby is growing and growing and I am too.
    I recently had to go back to work after having the baby (he will be 3months this Sat). It was the hardest thing to do yet. I went to yoga the day before having to leave and go to work and the teacher read from a book. She talked about finding the joy in the moment, and not letting ourselves get worked up just because we are bored and need drama to keep us entertained. She also spoke about how if we had emotions, not to ignore them to let the things that need to well up well up. Look at them and then just let them keep on moving. It was all just so perfect, kind of like you finding the mug. I cried almost the entire class. The next day was the first full day I had to leave my boy at day care, and ya know what it was okay. I think all that crying and really opening up to the words and the poses at yoga cleared the space for me to grow as a mom and as a career woman, however hard those two things are to balance…
    I always love stopping by your spot, even if I don’t comment. Thanks for putting out great questions and inspiration!

  4. bmd

    This year has been messy. Filled with tears and disappointment and why me. But I know through all of it, I (and the husband) are growing, finding out what we’re made and capable of and learning how to appreciate the moments as imperfect as they may be. I know the universe is speaking to me too. Waiting for me to respond. I’m just not sure how.

  5. Anna

    The tears well up in my eyes reading your question.
    Where am I not growing?
    And isn’t that a wonderful thing? And it is truly painful!
    Your willingness to share these difficult times is, as always, a true comfort and inspiration.
    I wish I could reach through the computer and give you a big hug; I need one, too.
    I am so thankful that you have such loving, nurturing people in your life … and I am trying to believe that those around me are as well … and hoping to let them in.

  6. Heather

    I’m not wasting time. I’m using that time to do what I love. Recently I met someone for a short time and upon parting, was told simply to ‘do good’ and those words couldn’t have come at a better time.
    I’m trying not to wait for the ‘right’ time to do the next big thing on my to do list. I so wanted to be a part of Squam or to be at the place where I could do that kind of thing. I knew I wasn’t and may never be, but I kept my eyes open for the right thing. Some of those things I share, some I keep to myself. Life is good. I cry, too. I also laugh. a lot. and my necklace arrived yesterday on the worst darn Monday in a while. for a reason.
    thank you for sharing you. it helps.

  7. darlene

    yeah, growing pains ~ i know them well and at the end of the day, they bring you to such fabulous places … i hope you get to some of those fabulous places soon. am thinking you will 🙂

  8. jen

    You nearly always seem to write something which I can relate to so much. Growing – bad timing and against your will. It’s so true. I’ve been thinking more and more about starting my own business and the more I resist it the more I keep thinking about it. I’m constantly growing in other areas too with study, photography, music and parenting.

  9. judy wise

    Oh yes. I also have been strangely tender and changed since Squam. Some big changes have come and a painful lesson. No, actually it was a wonderful lesson that I wouldn’t have paid attention to without the pain that accompanied it. I keep wanting it to be clear, obvious and easier than it is but no, it just is what it is. xo

  10. Terri

    Honestly I’m still trying to figure out just what it is I’m Growing. Lately it feels like I take one step forward and a million steps backwards.

  11. Kristy

    You really ought to write a book. Your blog is so full of pure gems.

  12. Liz

    Either I come to your site everyday or I take a few days off but EVERY time, you will blog something that is going on in my life . . . like you knew or something. I think it’s called sourcing. . .
    To answer your question, it’s forgiveness and letting go and moving on. . . Just not sure if I should let someone back in my life, its about trust. If I do, I will feel complete again, like a part of me was missing for a very long time and if I don’t, I’m afraid that I will never let go.
    Thank You!

  13. Rebecca F.

    I can totally picture a cup of tea in that mug. Very cool…..

  14. Amy

    I am using today to answer your question in an intent to grow a little home spun online therapy!
    I am not sure if it is the thirty below cold or the lack of sun – but sistah’ – around every corner these past few weeks I have been asked to grow…you name it — in love relationships, decade long friendships, my art career . . .
    Oh, it is messy and icky at times. Somedays, I dream up warm islands and full noon sun, just to sweeten the aches and remind myself that this too shall pass. Somewhere deep down I know that out of all this will come new awareness and many gifts from my harvesting of spirit.
    I love your mug finding. I found one in a sale bin a few months ago and it was the same message GROW – – I smiled when I read what Kelly Rae said — I got it just then too!
    Thank you for your sharing*

  15. mary

    I think I’d like to BLOOM !

  16. liz

    the mug reminds me of the phrase I find myself remembering ‘grow where you are planted’ to make the most of who you are where ever you are in life’s plan. location, emotionally, daily, etc.
    how right now I am limited in how I can grow because I have these 2 little people at home that need a lot of me (not forever!) so the now in my life that can bring me additional joy isn’t as wide open to all the possibilities in the whole world, but while some are on hold, others can have room made for them too.
    this may be entirely unrelated to what you are saying, but reminded me of it non-the-less.

  17. Puanani

    My growing pains were coming at me so fast and furiously that I finally started a blog to help process all that is happening. In recent months, I have often thought, “Is this really my path? Am I really taking these steps? I require this?” I have to know that at the end of this road is a new path, a renewed way of seeing myself in this world. In the meantime, I have lost my community, possibly my career and a sense of self. Growing pains indeed.

  18. Diana Kenney

    I often “lurk” so to speak at your blog. This particular blog prompted me to comment. Sign from the Universe…’s all around me all the time.Thanks for reminding me to be more grateful and be more aware the universe and it’s messages it tries so hard to send!
    Diana from Alameda!

  19. Elizabeth Stark

    I am growing in gratitude and organization. And gratitude for my organization. David Allen (Getting Things Done) is actually a very wise man. I will probably have to blog about him soon. Gratitude for sticking with my writing in November until I came to love it. It took all month . . . Thanks for your honesty, Andrea. It always moves and helps me. And then, when I see you at the park, you are a whole deep universe and not just a familiar face. 🙂

  20. kelly rae

    it was the universe’s hope note..just for you in that moment on that sidewalk. so perfect 🙂
    i miss you 🙂

  21. Dad P

    I continue to be impressed by the quality and depth of the friendships you accumulat. And, why can’t I find art like that on the sidewalk. You must be walking in the right path.

  22. Christiane

    It is so incredibly soothing to know that others are struggling with these pains, too. Thank you. My ill-timed and painful growing is going on right now in the space of my (original) family. It is so hard to negotiate expectations, ideals and reality without losing touch with them and myself completely. Our family system which has developed in the last 30-odd years is, like every system, trying to keep everything as it was, to stabilize, while I get plenty of signs a day that I have to break out and take that risk. Trusting is so hard when it feels like so much is at stake.

  23. kristen

    i remember talking to you in the breakfast room at squam, feeling cracked open myself and really, i don’t think i’ve been the same since that weekend either.
    in a good way – but i’m still trying to suss it all out, figuring where and what it all means.
    everything in my world has been rocked since then – all good, soul-searching rocked but still.
    i love that you found that mug, that it was a favorite artist and most of all, that the image is a tree. wow.

  24. kristen

    i remember talking to you in the breakfast room at squam, feeling cracked open myself and really, i don’t think i’ve been the same since that weekend either.
    in a good way – but i’m still trying to suss it all out, figuring where and what it all means.
    everything in my world has been rocked since then – all good, soul-searching rocked but still.
    i love that you found that mug, that it was a favorite artist and most of all, that the image is a tree. wow.

  25. amanda o

    what a sweet post!

  26. W. Lotus

    I don’t know what I am growing. The recent elections broke my heart, and I have alternated between rage and impotent numbness since then. I am tempted to say I am in limbo going nowhere, but after almost 40 years, I know myself better: when I feel this way, it is because something big is going on under the surface that I probably couldn’t handle any other way. I have no idea what will burst forth and when, but it may be awhile. In the meantime, I am in something of a cyber hibernation.
    But I still read your blog, from time to time. 🙂

  27. Nicole

    The recent elections broke open my heart to new happiness, the turmoil out there is hard to hear and I feel as if it is scratching on my door, but yet I continue forward with a feeling of optimism for growth for this country, growth for my business, and mostly myself. I hope sometime soon to feel growth inside of me, and yet right now, it is the destination I am most excited for…a big giant hole of not knowing that keeps my days new and my hope alive. Awesome you found the mug. I love how the Universe can surprise you every day!

  28. Angie

    I am so grateful for you and your words.
    I feel like a big question mark right now, and am very much working on that.

  29. Catherine

    I have growing pains too. Literally. I’m going to begin the 7th month of my pregnancy next week. My belly is growing and I’m amazed at what I can no longer see when I look down.
    The universe and I are growing a baby boy together. A Spiritual Teacher of mine once said that the womb holds unlimited potential, when you breathe, inhale all the way into it.
    I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath….for years.
    So began my journey in learning how to breathe.
    Now that space is filled up with the unlimited potential of a baby.
    And here I sit…. Breathing while he grows and gets ready to take his first breath out here with all of us in a few months.

  30. Michelle

    Your post gave me goose bumps ~ In a good way! I love your photo and your message * grow *. The other day, I came across a sticker on the side walk that said, Thank you. I’ve been pondering that message ever since…

  31. Lois

    I don’t have a clue how I found your blog, but I added it to my roll awhile back and am just getting caught up on my reading. This is the first post of yours that I’ve read and I can’t wait to go back and check out your older ones. I got really introspective over Thanksgiving and started a new blog counting my blessings. Each week I post a new blessing and a photo that goes along with it. Maybe you’d like to join me in my 52 Weeks of Blessings? It’s a great way to keep a positive perspective and remember to GROW :). The blog is at
    Warm Regards!

  32. rebecca

    andrea – it’s comforting to read the comments of others along with this perfect post of yours. I am in a complete growth phase at the moment. Having recently picked up and moved to San Francisco where the only person I really know is my husband, and with the holiday feelings of yearning to be surrounded by friends and family…well…it’s just nice to know I’m not alone as I sit with this feeling of striving for happiness again.

  33. Jen Diamond

    You know it is kind of like teething, what you said in your last paragraph. I mean when Ben gets a tooth it’s not like he wants it and it just sucks, all the way around. But once he learns to use that tooth it comes in handy.
    I don’t think I ever expect or want growth. You know I may willingly put myself in the situation but at the same time there is the part of me that resists. Isn’t that just our way. Of course it is the compassion and generosity for myself that allows it to happen with more grace and gratitude.
    Thank you for this post.
    Love to you,

  34. Sarah

    I’m in the midst of some painful growing, too. New business, big questions, major gremlins (new ones I never met or wouldn’t own before), regrettable reactions to said gremlins… Yes, I think that about sums it up. 🙂
    Lots of epiphanies, though – do you find that? I think that’s a huge part of what’s so hard and wonderful at the same time: during big growth, the epiphanies can mount up so quickly that they feel as overwhelming as they do divine. They’re like Tetris pieces I keep turning frantically in my mind, trying to fit them together, before they all just pile up!
    I feel lucky to be getting them, though. And I do believe we’re only asked to do what we’re truly capable of doing. So, if the universe is asking us to do something that feels hard, there has to be a compliment in there, somewhere, right? 🙂 Someone’s pushing us, so that we’re at the ready for whatever the important mission is. Like you said, something good is waiting in the wings, something that’s beautiful and complicated in all the very best ways. Thanks for reminding me that this is what it’s all about!

  35. Carole

    Dear Andrea,
    Hmm. Thanks for sharing. This past week I was hit with a flurry of energy to prune, prune, prune all around my studio. For about two years it has sat unused, stocked with art supplies and the wishes of a mommy a bit overwhelmed by trying to do everything really well even in the midst of caring for two young kids, working part-time, and a (thank God, triumphant) fight with cancer this summer. All this is to say, I think growth is often accompanied by pruning – a trimming off of what may look good initially (i.e. lots of leaves), but in actuality prevents the plant from bearing fruit because of the energy spent in these scattered directions.
    Anyway, the bushes are pruned, the weeds are pulled, the dead leaves are swept away, and I think there’s some way that our physical environment kind of mirrors our inner world. I am hoping this for me and for you: May this be a growing season of life that brings a renewal of joy, peace, and hope in the deepest places of our souls!
    Warm wishes,

  36. Denise

    “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”
    ~mary Anne Radmacher

  37. Jeanine

    Andrea, I admire your courage in sharing all these little pieces of yourself. If it makes you feel any better… you are not alone on this growth journey.
    I’m growing by learning to be on my own after 12 years. It’s a very scary place, which seems to be the most fertile soil for growth, n’est-ce pas?

  38. Laura

    sometimes i get goosebumps when your posts are this timely and relevant.
    my partner and i sat our exams for phd entry into the states, and while i did great on most of it, i flunked the math– after months of study. we effectively have to put our plans back a year. i cried into my beer afterwards in a pub jammed full of burly guys, so i sympathise with crying in a public place! Shortly before this my partner’s best friend died, and we have both been struggling at work. Needless to say all of this took it’s toll on our relationship, and on each of us as separate people.
    what I did learn, after grieving for what an awful few months it has been, is that i am okay Just Here. in this space. just breathing, and watching, and loving my partner and myself rather than launching into ‘what next?’ questions. it took a lot of struggle and bitter complaining and resistance to let it go and attain this moment of stillness that i think is nourishing, and is helping me re-establish equilibrium and a firmer sense of self. you helped actually, with your message in a previous post: ‘go slow. be even more patient than you think you are capable of. there is plenty of time. really.’
    so i’ve been growing by slowing down and letting go. which has the funny effect of steadying your feet on the ground, whilst also making you feel light enough to lift off. thanks for your help in the process 🙂

  39. richie

    Thank You as always for your words.
    I’m so turned upside down right now I don’t know where I’m growing.

  40. mccabe

    this photo really speaks to me…
    i can’t believe you just found it like that~
    i thought you staged it.
    i am growing patience right now…
    and a new layer of ultimate self love.
    those pains i get.
    you are not alone.
    you have been in my heart andrea,
    and i send you heaps of love and gentleness.
    mccabe x

  41. Jenn

    boy does this post speak to me….I feel like my entire being is gowing and it is hard. I feel like it’s the hardest growth I’ve had to go through ever in my life…yet at the same time it feels like I am exactly where I am supposed to be. We just moved back to Arizona and I’m daily amazed at the challenges brought to me. I think I’ll keep reading this post each day. It will at least remind me that I am where I need to be.
    As always thank you for your lovely posts…they are so heart warming to me.

  42. Tina


  43. busymomma66

    Sometimes it sucks that growth has to be painful. But I guess that’s the whole point. I would love it to happen on a beach while I was drinking margaritas. Alas, it makes me push my boundaries and tear apart my soul to recreate into what I am and what I’m supposed to be.
    Hang in there!

  44. Danielle

    Speaking of signs from the Universe….
    For the last week and a half, I have been adjusting to some new changes in my life, and thought I was doing pretty well. I was keeping busy to avoid dealing with the messiness involved.
    Then, last night, a wave of emotions came pouring out and I realized that I had to just slow down and actually feel what I was supposed to feel. I truly believe that it was the Universe reminding me to open up and stop pretending that everything is ok when it’s not. To let the tears fall freely when they need to and ask for help when I need to.
    And then I saw your post, and I realized that I’m not alone.
    Thank you….

  45. Angela Klocke

    I’ve grown so much, I haven’t been able to really put it into words. All I know is, I’m growing…and it’s good. But scary.

  46. danielle

    i love your blog, your honesty, and reading about your journey. i visit here periodically, and today, your post touched me to tears. perhaps it’s because i’m growing, too, and i wish for teacups in the road (no sidewalks here), and i’m wondering if i would see it or step on it! i guess i have to trust that i will notice the signs when they are meant for me, right? thank you for your superhero-ness.

  47. Brené

    my fourth-grade daughter is in the physical “growing pain” age – dull achy legs, etc. well, a couple of months ago we were sitting together on the couch and she said, “it even hurts worse when I’m still.”
    such truth in that – even when the pain is more about vulnerability.
    I’m ready for a little “growth” break.

  48. Sandra

    I love this photo. Some of your photos are breathtaking, and this is one of them. Can’t wait to see what you grow into, I’ve already enjoyed what you’ve been here at your blog. The intensity of my time of post-separation from husband is abating, but truly, you are one of the voices that helped me through. Not sure how this all relates to your post, but I just want to thank you and say you’re already pretty darn good.

  49. patricia

    are the comments for the previous post closed?

  50. nicole

    What an amazingly lovely thing to just … find. Wow.
    I am growing: even more gratitude for the little things (going to bed early; baking a good cake; a friend unexpectedly in town next week), remembering how to do things on my own and how satisfying that can be, more patience.
    How wonderful that your friend asked you how you were *really* doing and actually wanted to hear the answer — I think we forget to do that sometimes. 2009 is gonna be my year of asking and *listening.*

  51. jill

    what a delightful little cup and what a great story… I’m always amazed at the insightfulness of your friendships. You have really welcomed some lovely ladies into your life. You’re something special for sure to have attracted them all to you!!
    My growing pains right now are all physical. 10 months of recovery from my ankle surgery and I’m still in pain. But relating what you just wrote to the pain of my pt, is exactly the same. I can think of the pain I feel while working out, as me builing the strength of my life, not just the ankle. Using muscles that haven’t been used in a long time will make me stronger to achieve so much more… Perserverance and trust can sure go a long way!! So thanks!!

  52. maggie ann

    I know that pain.

  53. gracy

    hi andrea,
    thanks so much for this post! so much good has been happening in my life lately–i released a difficult love situation, i traveled back to peru, i started my own photography business–and people all around me are telling me how proud of me they are and how inspired they are by the choices i’ve made. i’ve been feeling strong and powerful and been opening up the space to empower each person that i spend time around. so satisfying–it felt like life was feeding me tapioca with a sparkly spoon.
    then yesterday i had lunch with a friend i haven’t seen in a long time. i was telling her how great and fulfilled i felt, and then something shifted in me and all sorts of emotion welled up and i felt amazingly raw and vunereable. it was as if the universe was reminding me that although i am starting off on the path, there are lots of loops ahead, and not to develop an ego about being the “strong” one.
    so i’ve been accepting this and trying to love it but still feeling like i can’t shake a case of bedhead. your entry helps me to see that even the women that i admire for their strength and vision still have areas where they need support and haven’t figured out their feelings.
    thank you for you honesty and courage to share!
    and thank you to everyone reading this for your attention and the space to tell my story.
    messy blessings to you all!

  54. Paula

    I loved this post. It reminds me that I have grown more than I think in the past year, despite my crazy mix of emotions right now. I am overwhelmed by the fullness of my life, but it is mostly wonderful fullness for which I am immensely grateful. It can feel so complicated to contemplate what’s next and why I am resisting change–in my body, in my family structure, in my home, and in my career–but when I listen to what’s really going on, I know at my core that it will all be okay in the end. Nothing is wasted and it all contributes to growth.

  55. Tom Mohan

    Great photo.

  56. AscenderRisesAbove

    I had my first panic attack when I was 19. It took me forever to realize that the reason I was having them was because I was in a safe place – safe for the feelings to show up which were swallowed for the 19 years previously. I did not realize that the feelings were attached to something in my past – it would have been helpful to know that. It took a long time to know that. Over the years (I am in my mid 50’s now) I have come to understand that the first one is the worst, that each one feels like it is the worst until it is over with, that in the middle of one it feels like it won’t end, that in the middle you wonder if the previous one had ever stopped so it feels like what insanity must feel like. They do slow down and last shorter amounts of time and you have more time between each. They are a sign of surviving and a sign of a health to have them. It is what I have been rising above.
    The reason I say all that is perhaps it happened at squam because you were surrounded with love and it was finally safe for it to come out?

  57. linni

    Trusting the process…
    even if we don’t understand,
    even if it not what we wanted,
    even if we think we know better,
    even if it hurts…
    trusting the process. xx

  58. dona Bumgarner

    “Growing can often sneak up on you. You may not feel like it and it may seem like terrible timing and it might be against your will and it can be messy and vulerable, but the universe insists on it anyway.”
    Oh, yes.
    I’m growing in every part of my life, it seems. At work. In trusting in relationships (friendships and more). In opening to love. In loving myself. In creativity. It is all good. I’m liking the results. But it is HARD!

  59. spoiledonlychild

    What a fascinating way to think about it. I’ve always come at it from the perspective of: This anxiety/insomnia/whatever is screwing up my life. I need to get over it so I can get back to my real, happy life. I have failed to see that it’s part of the journey, and that only with great pain comes great joy. Thank you for reminding me to accept every step in my journey as valuable.

  60. Kate

    It is always so much easier for me to feel the places where I am stuck than to feel the places where I am opening and growing. Have you read Sue Bender’s book, Stretching Lessons? I remember she is asked what she is good at and she replies “Struggling!” I laughed outloud at that simple statement. Me too, me too, me too.

  61. Maya

    Could you have been spoken to more clearly through your friend and the mug? Growing is always tough and I sometimes want to just leave it on the side of the road. I’d rather things be easy sometimes, but I suppose that doesn’t take us to that next level then. So grow, grow, grow!

  62. canoneos

    Buy Canon For Christmas – [url=]Canon Eos 1ds Mark III[/url]

  63. sonybravia

    Hi ! Great page. Greetings from Poland.

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What if you could name your dreams and desires for 2020 and create a plan to make them reality?


Experiments in Wonder:Your FREE 5-day mini course designed to activate your delight + joy.

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