Good to be back*

andrea_scher_self_beach.jpg
self-portrait, San Gregorio beach, Canon Elph

It’s scary to create space. Seriously. Taking a break is not for the faint of heart. To stop the things you normally do (work), habitually do (blog), or even compulsively do (take photos) and to sit in the space that’s left over. Well, it is confronting.

My aim was to look at the month as a cleanse, a spring cleaning of the spirit. You know those cleanses you do for allergies? where you remove all sorts of things from your diet, like dairy, wheat, sugar, and then slowly, incorporate those items back in? The idea is that you get to see how your body reacts, distinguish how each thing effects you, for better or worse. It’s also an opportunity to see if you can nourish yourself without these things.

And so I started my cleanse by clearing my physical space. I purged the heck out of it, selling everything I could, cleaning and organizing all the cluttered up nooks. I even pretended we were moving and considered each item with the same precise question, If we were moving right now would I bother putting bubble wrap around this and putting it in a box? I loved this task and felt like with every item I let go of, the more my mind could be clear, the more space there was to breathe.

And then there was my body to cleanse. I needed to heal. I needed to rest. I was sick as a dog for nearly two months, had had a sore throat for most of that time, and after a round of antibiotics and lots of acupuncture I was out of ideas. Let me add that when I get sick, I keep going. Partly out of necessity (Ben has needs that supercede my own) but also out of habit, out of a compulsive need to do do do, keep up, lest everyone forgets about me, I fall behind, I blow it, I fail, it all falls apart. There is some deep fear embedded in there, like if I stop or get help, or god forbid take a vacation, I will be behind. Losing. I have always been like this, as evidenced by my perfect attendance record all through elementary school and high school. Seriously. I have witnesses.

So I rested, and also made a pledge to stop finishing Ben’s hot dogs and french fries and go to Farmer’s markets more. I started practicing yoga again (oh, painful) got on my bicycle (I love you Flirt) and started drinking Kombucha tea (the first few bottles tasted like salad dressing, but now I quite like it) I also planted vegetables for the first time in my life, three kinds of tomatoes.

But those were the easy parts.

The thing about creating space is that you get to see where you’ve been hiding.

For me, it was in work. I stopped blogging, for example, but couldn’t resist filling my blog with awesome guest bloggers while I was away (They were so good I considered outsourcing the whole enterprise) I put an autoresponder on my email that I was away, but couldn’t resist filling jewelry orders anyway. It took me weeks to unfurl myself from my habitual ways of being and doing. it was uncomfortable. I noticed that there was empty space there. What do I do now? And there is some pain in feeling that emptiness, noticing the holes we fill by working hard and using social media and compulsively connecting, connecting, connecting… It was painful to see some of the places I hadn’t tended while I was tending other parts of my life.

It’s easy to do what works. It’s easy to feed the thing that is flowing, that makes you feel satisfied because it is giving you some juice. There is nothing wrong with that. Of course we are going to feed the things that are working best in our lives. But having the courage to look squarely in the face of what is hard, to turn toward what is challenging and tend those things too, (however confronting they are) well that’s another thing entirely.

So what are the benefits of stopping then, right?

At yoga recently, the teacher talked about how our greatest strengths can be our greatest weaknesses. He used the example of how he is really friendly and kind, and how this strength gets him really far in life. “Until,” he said, “I really have to fight for something or set a strong boundary. Then it is my greatest weakness.”

I mused on this as I practiced, noticing that my greatest strength in yoga is my flexibilty (like feet behind the ears crazy talk) how I don’t have to be incredibly strong because I can always use my flexibility to pick up the slack. I can get by on my flexibility in almost every pose. Except for the poses where I can’t! and then I get to see where I need to build up my strength.

I think that’s what this break did for me. I got to see where things are out of balance. I got to see the pieces of my life that I lean into because they work, because I am good at them, because I can almost, almost, get by on just those things.

I can even forget that say, being strong is important too. That being healthy is important. That having fun is important. I can forget that inviting friends to dinner and going on adventures with my family is important. But it is. I want all of that too.

I’m adding blogging back into my diet again and I’m going to watch how it feels. I don’t think I’m allergic to it, but everything in moderation, right? I did miss you guys. Thank you for being here. And guest bloggers, bless you! It was so much fun to visit my blog and see your faces and words here. It’s good to be back!

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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.

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61 Comments

  1. julie

    glad you are back andrea! i loved reading this interesting post – i thought i might be so bold as to recommend a book that i really enjoyed; i thought of it as i read your post. it is called “astrology for the soul” by jan spiller.
    blessings

  2. julie

    glad you are back andrea! i loved reading this interesting post – i thought i might be so bold as to recommend a book that i really enjoyed; i thought of it as i read your post. it is called “astrology for the soul” by jan spiller.
    blessings

  3. stef

    so happy to hear you took the time off and that you’re back!
    xo

  4. Tamikko

    Thank you so much for your honesty. The subject of spring cleaning your soul has come, for me, at exactly the time that I needed it. I started reading your blog just as you were leaving it to some guests while you work on yourself. Although my journey, I believe, will take the rest of the year to clear out everything I need to do.
    I just wanted to thank you for jump starting my soul cleanse.

  5. monica

    welcome back! i loved the guest bloggers (and they’re blogs) but missed your voice. take it easy…

  6. Lori D

    Welcome back to blogsville. However,after reading your experiences in the liminal phase I’m tempted to do likewise. In fact, I know I NEED to. Your words inspire me and make me realize that I need to let go of what I can control as well as not worry about the things I can’t.
    Blessings.

  7. Tamikko

    Welcome back!Thank you so much for your honesty. The subject of spring cleaning your soul has come, for me, at exactly the time that I needed it. I started reading your blog just as you were leaving it to some guests while you work on yourself. Although my journey, I believe, will take the rest of the year to clear out everything I need to do.
    I just wanted to thank you for jump starting my soul cleanse.

  8. Jolie

    Welcome back, Andrea. Your process inspires me. Yay for balance and strengths.

  9. Chookooloonks

    Jesus. Are you talking to me? You’re talking to me, aren’t you…
    … thank you so much for this. Thinking it’s time for a cleanse mydamnedself …

  10. dani

    thanks so much for sharing this! such great insight!

  11. pixiemama

    I’m glad you’re back, too. I have been wondering what your spring cleaning process looked like, as I have been in a similar space. Focusing less on work, creating a better balance between work and family time, trying to squeeze more of me into my life. Frankly, I haven’t really found any answers yet, except for the obvious – I use my work as a place to hide. I might be ready to hide a little less, and resolve a little more.
    love.

  12. vivienne

    welcome back lovely you! i love these observations you’ve shared about your time away. and the guest bloggers were just a sweet treat!

  13. Dr. S

    Hooray, you’re back!
    I understand what you’re saying here, and I am grateful to you for saying it. I’m contemplating some time off from my blog, for just a little while, because I think I’m running it on empty.

  14. Catherine

    You are a good one, Andrea. A real darn good one.
    Welcome back…

  15. Chana

    Welcome back, Andrea!

  16. Jennifer

    and it is so good to have you back. Thanks for sharing your smiling face wit us.

  17. lori vliegen

    so glad that you’re eating a bloggers diet again! congratulations for having the courage to cleanse….the courage to step back and discover your life’s balance. you’ve inspired me! 🙂

  18. lori vliegen

    so glad that you’re eating a bloggers diet again! congratulations for having the courage to cleanse….the courage to step back and discover your life’s balance. you’ve inspired me! 🙂

  19. lori vliegen

    so glad that you’re eating a bloggers diet again! congratulations for having the courage to cleanse….the courage to step back and discover your life’s balance. you’ve inspired me! 🙂

  20. Shelley Noble

    No offense to the substitutes, Fine amazing people all, but I identify with you more. I don’t visit here for wise words or interesting takes on life. I come here to visit with you very specifically.
    I can find all sorts of sources for wisdom, thousands, millions. But there’s only one very special small little Andrea who I enjoy keeping in touch with.
    It isn’t even what you say, although that is often expanding. It isn’t what you do, although that is inspiring. It’s the unique youness. And that can’t be outsourced.

  21. shannon

    hi andrea-
    absolutely loved your post. i’m feeling a deeper shift these days to slow down and to let go of more and more so i can fully embrace SPACE in my life. being a yoga teacher and practicing meditation i’m well aware of the practice of getting to the place “between our thoughts”. it’s in the space that we truly grow. and yet, it’s the hardest place to get to. hearing about your month off is an inspiration and i thank you for sharing. welcome back, slowly.

  22. holly

    welcome home! you are such a good friend to you – thank you for “re-entering” and sharing so honestly. go you!
    totally agree on the kombucha – try the cranberry if you havent yet – it is really good!

  23. Steph

    Welcome back Andrea! You look great in that photo. 🙂

  24. Katherine Center

    1/ You can put your feet be hind your ears???
    and
    2/ Thank you!!
    Cannot wait to see you again in August!
    xo

  25. Katherine Center

    1. That feet-behind-the-ears thing is INSANE.
    and
    2. Thank you for everything!
    Cannot wait to see you in August!
    xo!

  26. katherine Center

    OOops! Thought one of those had been lost! Feel free to delete!

  27. Marianne Elliott

    I’m intrigued that we’ve each just been on a one month cleanse at opposite ends of the planet – for different reasons (me to cleanse the negativity in my mind most of all) but have come up with a very similar outcome – such clarity about my life, such clear truths about what I like to avoid and nowhere left to hide from them. But it has been wonderful for me to realise how ready and willing I was to face them, to see the truth and to make some changes.
    It is lovely to have you back, but I absolutely understand the need to test the waters and check what feels like the right balance for you.
    You are a bendy yogi? I’m a very strong one – whose very strength becomes her weakness when there is not enough give in it. I get you on that one, even though from the other side of the mat! xxxx

  28. Catherine

    i too am uncomfortable with those empty places and spaces. I go through mini cleanses to see what happens and I do feel better once I get to the other side of it. But getting into it and through it is often painful and upsetting.
    I need to plant tomatos….lots of them. and watch them hang on.
    🙂
    glad you had a good experience and are sharing it with us. It helps me – you always help me by sharing your journey.

  29. muck

    WELCOME BACK! i loved your guest bloggers – they were all a m a z i n g. xo

  30. crissy

    welcome back, take your time, don’t worry about us, we still love you and think you’re special when you’re not posting wise words.

  31. whitney

    Welcome back & take your time. I totally relate to your experiences at yoga, by the way. I rely on my flexibility waaaay too much.

  32. rachael s

    what a wonderful post, i too don’t like empty spaces + so i rush to fill them. when i took my blogging break i still read every email + responded to lots. i think a cleanse is in order for all of us every once in a while.

  33. Andrea

    wonderful! A brave journey you took.
    i am now curious what isn’t being tended to in my life.
    If I tried to put my feet behind my ears, i think my hip would break, lol
    ?

  34. Belinda

    It is fantastic to see you back, although I loved your guest bloggers too and I think they did a superb job.
    I’m having a mini-cleanse next week: I’m taking the week off work, having a good spring clean of my house, putting away the computer for a week (eek)…it will be interesting to see what remains at the end.
    P.S. I hope you have better luck with your tomatoes than I am having with mine!

  35. Trish

    Welcome back Andrea,
    To welcome someone back is to do some with goodwill and grace. To the commenter who was not generous of spirit please take note that though you are in need of a ‘break’ yourself it is not appropriate to litter lovely Andrea’s return with your ill advised remarks.
    Andrea, you give much to me and this community so I am thrilled you have returned. I have missed your words and you.
    Love, Trish
    patriciadolan@comcast.net

  36. Stacy

    I’m new to your blog and loved the guest bloggers. Thank you for this post, it inspired me and has my mind whirling with thoughts about my own health and fears about slowing down.

  37. Chris

    Welcome back! Your guest bloggers were cool (I added their blogs to my daily clicks) but we missed you!

  38. Meg

    Add it back carefully ok? And slowly. Because this post was so much more enriching then having many of post a month when it is clear that you are hurting a little bit and need time and space. You could do one post a week, and we’d still stop in every Monday (or whatever day) to see what you had to say.
    We missed you too. But I, for one, am really glad you took the time.
    xo

  39. Bri

    Well hi, welcome back! Nice to see personality behind blogs (something that’s sorely missing in a lot of the world). Next time you get really sick, consider chiropractic. It’s the only thing that works for me when I get that bad.

  40. bk

    What a post!
    There’s a great energy to it.
    Sounds like you rested and made so much more space!
    congrats!
    xoxox

  41. Patti

    Thanks so much for this post.

  42. mamie

    heart full. thank you for coming back. what you leave here, your imprint, it makes such a difference in my space and mind and life. so glad there is a test run going on here.
    i want to tell you a little secret but i think it would be better written via email. i might get the courage to write it. might not. no matter. and it is nothing really that important. hope that does not sound too weird.
    loved the guests but glad you have resumed your cape.
    tomatoes are awesome. and i am so glad to know ben eats hot dogs, even when you don’t. 🙂

  43. christie

    You seem fantastic! Thank you for continuing to be an inspiration to me, grateful you took time for yourself, blessings, Christie

  44. katherine

    Hello, beautiful lady! So great to see your face around here again and be inspired by you yet again. Thank you very much for continuing to blog!

  45. Nicole

    smooch!
    I want to cleanse. Been thinking about it. Been trying to find the right time, when I won’t have to give up too much ya know. You’ve inspired me to do it sooner not later. Things will wait. Plus it really sounds great to cleanse my personal space.
    One thing I will NOT be tossing though is my superhero necklace! couldn’t pry it out of my hands with a crowbar! 😉

  46. andrea

    awwww. this has been a real gift to read. thank you.

  47. Nina

    Well, welcome back! Thanks for taking care of yourself — you deserve it! It’s important work finding balance. You are destined to succeed! xo
    And the thing about eating the hot dogs off Ben’s plate — that must be a total mom thing. I’ve never seen my husband eat unfinished food off my kids’ plates, never. Yet my mom has come over and eaten what’s left off their plates. Why do we do that?!

  48. Sonia Mascaro

    Welcome back! I am glad you are well!
    This post inspire me so much!
    Have a nice Sunday!

  49. AustinJen

    Welcome back! It is wonderful to “see” you and hear how you have been taking care of yourself. Namaste.

  50. Julia

    I didn’t even recognize you in the photo (thought it was another guest blogger) so you must have changed this month!

  51. heather

    Andrea:: Wow, thank you for sharing your experience, a great demonstration of self care and I am SO glad your back! Your guest bloggers were amazing, it was fun to wonder who will be the next guest!!?? Take Care!

  52. Mariella

    It’s good to hear your voice again! Wonderful post. You are such an inspiration. Tomatoes….Mmmm,yum! 🙂 Have a great week!! xoxo, ~ M.

  53. Jennifer

    The best thing you can do for those that are important to you is to take care of yourself, otherwise you’re no good to anyone. Sort of like that phrase that an old family friend who is a physician says that a best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother….
    Hope you had some happy resting!!

  54. Lisa Boyer

    Welcome back!
    Thank you for the gentle reminder that although we are all superheroes, we are also human.
    You continue to inspire..

  55. Carole

    Dear Andrea,
    I am so glad for you that you initiated this time and space away ~ it sounds like it was wonderful for you. I find that when I step away to rest, even for an afternoon, it takes time to unravel or kind of let the layers of life kind of slide off (i.e. feeling I am defined by the roles/responsibilities versus I define my roles/choose responsibility in life). You are really a woman I admire, who inspires me a great deal, and that’s just from your blog and not even really knowing you!! Of course I’d be sad if you were done blogging, but however long, I’m just grateful for what it’s been.
    Thanks!
    ~ Carole

  56. Andi

    So sorry to hear that acupuncture didn’t work! I was actually going to suggest it and then saw you tried it. I’m an acupuncturist and have such good success with treating lingering colds. Anyway, your cleanse sounded like it was much needed and was very inspiring to say the least. Think I’ll start one in July! 🙂

  57. Catherine Houdek

    Gosh Andrea, what an inspiring blog! There was tenderness, compassion and resilience in it, that was compelling. Sometimes the toughest things to do, present us with the most amazing gifts. As always, thank you for sharing your journey so openly. I hope your gifts in return are magnificent!

  58. Sheryl

    Andrea, I am so glad you are back and feeling more balanced. Your guest bloggers were wonderful, but just not the same. Thanks for being you!

  59. Mia

    Hi Andrea,
    Just calling in to say hi and I am glad you are back with us again. I am thankful that you are so honest about your life. There are so many times I read your blog and it corresponds with my exact sentiment for that week or day. Your words comfort and validate the way I feel.
    Take Care
    Mia

  60. Mia

    Hi Andrea,
    Just calling in to say hi and I am glad you are back with us again. I am thankful that you are so honest about your life. There are so many times I read your blog and it corresponds with my exact sentiment for that week or day. Your words comfort and validate the way I feel.
    Take Care
    Mia

  61. heather

    I know what you mean about do, do, do, do! It’s exhausting to try to keep up. A wise person once told me “we are human beings, not human doings.”

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