sharpening up*

vintage buttons, Canon Rebel Xti

For months (okay, years) Matt and I have been meaning to drop off our knives at the knife sharpener guy at the Farmer’s Market. Yesterday I was finally there, my bag of knives all wrapped up and ready, not knowing they would endure a full inspection. As he examined each one to give me an estimate on sharpening the lot, his comments struck me as strangely personal . One was bent at the tip, another had teeth with divets cut out of it, all of them were incredibly dull. I had barely noticed.

“These are dangerously dull,” he said with the tone of an expert, a guy who knows his knives. His words felt grave to me, DANGEROUSLY DULL.

I looked up the word when I got home: Dull: Lacking interest or excitement, lacking brightness, vividness or sheen, bored, dispirited, not clear, muffled, gloomy.

Indeed, it is dangerous to be dull.

What sharpens you up at times like this? A good adventure? A long walk in the trees? Time with a child? A date with a friend? If you have lost your sheen, I dare you to brighten yourself up this weekend. Sometimes we don’t even realize when we’ve lost our edge.

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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. Jennefur

    Phew! I wasn’t sure where you were going with this story! Seeing the adorable picture of your son with a little scratch his forehead preceeding a story about knives was a little unsettling! Glad to know that Ben is cute as ever (and un-stabbed) and your knives are getting a spa treatment.

  2. Moose

    My edge has become so blunt it takes three minutes of sawing to break the skin of a tomato. But this weekend sharpening idea is an excellent one. I will write and hike and make some soup.
    I love that picture of Ben.

  3. Jennifer T

    I have to agree with Jennefur, I too was concerned about the story with knives following a picture of Ben with little scratches! But as for sharpening myself… I have found that if I view things through a camera, I see so much more. Instead of seeing the monotony of life, when I’m looking to take some photos, suddenly everything becomes so vivid and beautiful.

  4. kate

    I’m glad Ben is okay. I was worried about him too. 🙂

  5. Puanani

    Yea, I was a little nervous too, like the bag of knives slipped and hit him on the head! So glad that is not how the story went. I know, dull can be dangerous, dangerously dull. Yikes. I went to a longer yoga class today, a little scared of the challenge, but after the breathing and sweating and twisting, I am feeling a bit of a shine coming on…

  6. Teresa

    As always, you’re spot on, better than a horoscope!
    I took a short jog through the Panhandle today (something I’ve been meaning to do regularly ever since I moved to the neighborhood, 4 years ago!), and it did wonders for my attitude.
    I think staying sharp often means trying something out of your routine, creating a little obstacle to overcome – so you can stare down at your old self from the top of that tiny pinnacle. 🙂

  7. Liz

    OH, that’s easy: a good long walk in the woods, somewhere by the water (Lake Lagunitas my favourite destination) followed by a date with one of my very amazing friends, and then a date with myself in my studio. NOW, whether I get myslef to do all or any of these when I know I need to, now that’s a whole ‘nother topic… thanks for the nudge…

  8. claire

    damn that Ben gets better looking every day!
    if i own up to how dull i am (at the moment), i may faint of embarrassment! part of me thanks you for the reminder to spice it up and part of me is hiding under my desk!
    have a great weekend.

  9. vivienne

    a photo walk with my macro lens aimed at flowers, going on a stroll to somewhere i’ve never been (sometimes the dullness is just too much of the same pattern in my way of being) and definitely making art with kids: these things always bring me out of the ‘dangerously dull’ moments.

  10. Lauren

    Dull with photography? Try the 100 step challenge… on my blog today from shutter sisters…

  11. Jennifer

    This is so true. Sometimes we do not notice when we have lost our edge….and I got to tell you mine definitly is lost and in need of sharpening. I just need to figure out how to bring back the brightness. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  12. pixie

    Hmmmmmm how to sharpen the dull edges? I like to pull out unusual combinations of art supplies like glue, playdoh and toothpicks and make the guys sit down with me and make something. It may end up being a huge mess, but we always end up laughing and bringing out some sort of sweets and getting sugared up. Watching Miles play with serious art tools is also really fun for me, and inspiring. And it loosens my tightness about the right way to play and use things.
    Now I am going to need some help sharpening the dangerously dull knife that is my sexuality soon. Can you ask this question again in about 4-5 months or so?
    🙂 xoxo p

  13. Shelley Noble

    Excellent post, Andrea. A collection of these would make a might great printed book. Just saying. They/your wisdoms are worth it.

  14. Marianne

    Yoga sharpens my focus, while softening my mind. A passionate conversation with a friend, or even a stranger, about something important to me sharpens my mind. A meeting with a politician to lobby about climate change sharpens my wit.

  15. celisa

    oh andrea! this post could not have come at a more perfect time! i was just telling my friend tonight that i can’t shake this restlessness, unsettled feeling….and i can’t figure out how to get it out….to ease it. i live around three kids, but they are asleep now, so being silly with them isn’t an option at this moment…but i have been trying to dance it out with random music. it’s not helping. i took the scissors and chopped some funky layers…that did help. i think my best option has always been doing anything to spice it up…whether its taking the scissors to my hair a bit, or lately playing with these kids that really bring out my best side, or just getting really crazy silly with a good friend.
    living around three toddlers the past two months has done wonders for my spirit….i’m amazed.

  16. The Other Laura

    I don’t know how to get sharper these days. I’m sort of “stuck” and trying lots of different things in hopes that something will work. A lot of music helps…

  17. gayle

    My dullness started invading me when we moved to Atlanta, GA about a year and a half ago.
    I moved 2500 miles away from my family (who I am really close with), my best friend since we were 14 years old, our large group of friends, all the familiarness of home – starting my days off with a latte delivered by my friend Mandy and then a walk with our dogs, our favorite brew pub’s cajun tots, months of clouds and rain (yes, I miss this down to my soul), the crispy cornmeal coated crust of our favorite pizza joint that was less than a mile from our little house.
    Finally, after a year plus of just feeling kind of lost, I am finally starting to find my sharpness again. I switched jobs, which was huge, which has given me weekdays off again. And driving around the other day, I noticed that this place was finally starting to feel a little like home. Like I am finally starting to belong and not just some temporary tourist. We have our favorite haunts to go to, and have developed a small group of close friends – without Matt, Casey, Jesse, Marion, Brian and Christina, this place would suck nuts.
    I don’t know if I will find the sharpness I had back home. I miss my best friend. So much that it hurts sometimes. Angie gets me. To put it simply. My husband gets me, but not in the same way. Its a girl thing. And I don’t have a close girlfriend out here. I don’t make girlfriends easily, and my two closest friends, Melis and Angie, have known me for 18+ years.
    Thankfully in the next 2-3 months, my folks, our friend Shawn, Melis and possibly Angie are visiting. I can’t wait. There is something grounding about spending time with the people who have known you the longest and know you the best.
    I am trying to continue to find my edge again. I miss it and I don’t want to have to move away from Atlanta to find it again.

  18. Rachael

    I call up the crazy friend–the one that’s always getting into some adventure… and i tell her that I feel like an absolute DUD.
    of course, i’m not an absolute dud, and if my CRAZY friend can remind me of this, then it’s simply got to be true.
    ‘can we go on a simple adventure?’ i ask.
    of course, she says ‘get your shoes on.’
    other times, i hit the studio and paint until my soul feels wild again.

  19. Rachael

    I call up the crazy friend–the one that’s always getting into some adventure… and i tell her that I feel like an absolute DUD.
    of course, i’m not an absolute dud, and if my CRAZY friend can remind me of this, then it’s simply got to be true.
    ‘can we go on a simple adventure?’ i ask.
    of course, she says ‘get your shoes on.’
    other times, i hit the studio and paint until my soul feels wild again.

  20. muck

    one of the best ever.
    last night i bought a real cute lamp from target. after placing it on a table by the couch, i discovered my new writing space. new changes are always refreshing, even if you go back to your old spots later on. i think of it this way – it keeps my mind flowing with new ideas, just like the blood in our body.

  21. mccabe

    i love this!
    you are a great writer,
    i am dancing to sharpen my edge. (or maybe soften it?) i am also wearing black cowgirl boots, winking at strangers, asking for help when needed, and most importantly: learning to be gentle when life is not exciting and adventurous. 😉
    this is weird…but everyone is saying how cute ben is and i do not see him on this post. i see cute little buttons.
    much love to you, andrea….
    mccabe x

  22. Jeanine

    andrea. if only you knew how much i needed to read this right now. i’m not only sharpening up my weekend but the whole month of march (leaving monday for london, spain and italy. just me and my backpack). in those moments when fear creeps up, i need all the reminding i can get that i am taking a step out of dullsville and connecting with “l’aventurière” in me. thank you.

  23. Maggie

    believing in miracles.
    thank you andrea.

  24. amber

    after recently turning 30 I thought I better get myself out of the dulldrums and bought myself a pair of leopard heels. The first leopard anything I’ve ever owned (or wore).

  25. tiffany

    Oh I love this post – what a great little vignette.
    Going out for a beer with a good friend to unload emotionally with, praying, exercise, sweet snuggles with my little boy help me stay sharp and bright. 🙂

  26. kazari

    well, an immersive art festival did the trick this week : )
    walking in the dark helps, too.
    and reading shiny blogs with button pictures : )

  27. meesh

    sooooooo needed to read this today andrea!
    i am sharpening my dull edges this month. i have 2 really fun trips planned. i am spending a week in santa fe for a show there. then turning around and heading to puerto vallarta to teach a workshop with my best friend.
    i think i’ll be razor sharp after these 2 adventures!
    before i head to santa fe i’m putting an ‘edgy’ little brooch in the mail for you.
    love you cute one!

  28. mina

    A new haircut this past week got my edge back. I even told my stylist, I need to get my rock edge back so let’s go for it. No more blah, dull, straight, doesn’t want to do anything but hang hair. Now there’s more life, lightness and energy. And this has translated into my life in just a few days.

  29. mina

    A new haircut this past week got my edge back. I even told my stylist, I need to get my rock edge back so let’s go for it. No more blah, dull, straight, doesn’t want to do anything but hang hair. Now there’s more life, lightness and energy. And this has translated into my life in just a few days.

  30. tricia

    i love thinking about it this way…i do need some sharpening, for i am afraid that i have become ‘dangerously dull” like your knives:)

  31. Sandra

    going to Santa Fe for the weekend did it for me 🙂
    sharpening up the edges for me comes best from being creative, being adventurous, being in nature, and being in the company of those with whom I can say what I really think.

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