I started the Inspiration Interview Series because I wanted to know more about the people who share their work with the world and inspire me to practice courage, be creative, and dream big. Andrea Scher is one of those people. She makes me smile, she makes me brave, and she makes me THINK! Meet Andrea!
Andrea Scher is a photographer, writer and life coach living in Berkeley, California. Through her e-courses Superhero Photo & Mondo Beyondo and award-winning blog Superhero Journal, Andrea inspires others to live authentic, colorful and extraordinary lives. You can often find her sitting on the kitchen floor with her four-year-old, asking him to leap so she can take a superhero portrait.
I met Andrea several years ago at our LoveBomb retreat and we've been friends ever since. Andrea has taught me so much about the power of intuition and the importance of being present. There's amazing clarity in the way she communicates vulnerability and joy in her stories and in her photography - it's the best kind of truth-telling. Here's a link to some of my favorite stories from her blog, Superhero Journal.
This summer Andrea launched Superhero Photo. The Superhero Photo course is all about creating a new way into joy, gratitude, and appreciation. Andrea guides students through six weeks of lessons, photo prompts, and activities that helps us become better photographers and teaches us to see our lives through a different lens.
Andrea writes, "In this course we will find ourselves in that sweet spot where creativity, play, and aliveness intersect. I believe that when we are living in this rich space where we are truly awake, we have more access to joy."
To celebrate Andrea, we're giving away one seat in the Superhero Photo course that starts next week! Just leave your name in the comments section and we'll pick a winner on Thursday! Ellen and I will see you in class! We're both taking it!
There's so much wisdom, joy, and humor in Andrea's answers! Enjoy the interview!
Questions from The Gifts of Imperfection
On Vulnerability, Authenticity and Courage
Creativity, innovation, and truth-telling can be very vulnerable in our culture which is why we often feel deeply inspired when we see it. We’d love to know more about how you find the courage to share your authentic self and your work with the world.
1. Vulnerability is _____________________.
I think vulnerability is telling the truth. It’s being brave enough to reveal our true self, without doing all those things we do to try to look good, to conceal our imperfections, to make ourselves seem like we have it all together. I have noticed when I read other writers/bloggers who are vulnerable in their storytelling, I find myself incredibly drawn to them, endeared to them and transformed by their stories.
It is one of the most powerful ways to connect.
That said, being vulnerable isn’t a reality show style confessional. Airing our dirty laundry publicly, complaining, feels like oversharing and makes the reader feel uncomfortable… whereas sharing what’s real connects us in our humanity. This is an important distinction and one I am always listening for when I share my own stories. Is this story universal and meaningful? Am I telling this story to manipulate the reader? To make them like me? Be clever? I don’t always hit the mark but it’s good to know where I am coming from.
When it’s real it feels cathartic. I feel like my work is done for the day! It also feels a bit scary. My best posts are the ones when I wonder if I should push publish. It’s a risk, but definitely one worth taking.
2. What role does vulnerability play in your work?
Vulnerability is a big piece of my work. I teach a class called Mondo Beyondo and we have actually identified vulnerability as one of the primary ingredients in making our dreams come true. It takes courage to take a leap of any kind (to make that call, to buy the ticket, to say yes) and vulnerability is that tender place we find ourselves in a few beats later. It is where uncertainty and the most hopeful parts of heart collide—it is often where magic happens.
3. What does authenticity mean to you and how do you practice it in your work?
Authenticity. This word gets thrown around a lot these days and I have to admit, some people can wield it like a sword.
I think authenticity is being real and being genuine and is also a process of truing up. It’s finding yourself in alignment with your hearts’ desires, to your values… it’s listening to your voice. It requires courage.
In my own work, authenticity is the practice of listening to my heart, to my intuition and my voice. For as long as I’ve been an entrepreneur, I have been following what delights me most and focusing on that. I have discovered that following this path has always pointed me toward rightness and flow…
There is something called “right action” in Buddhism and it is the most efficient path because you are not doing anything extra, only what will take you exactly where you are supposed to go.
4. Is perfectionism an issue for you? If so, what’s one of your strategies for managing it?
I was a competitive gymnast as a kid, got perfect attendance certificates for every year in school, was terrified of getting anything worse than an A minus, and had an eating disorder in high school. Oh, and I think I was the homecoming queen.
Yep. I think I have some issues with perfectionism!
But I have been working on it. As a kid, I equated being perfect with being loved… and I think I still confuse the two. I often find myself doing what Brene calls “the hustle for worthiness.” That dance we do so that people don’t see how incredibly flawed and human we are. Sometimes I have my self-worth wrapped up in what I do and how good I look doing it, but mostly I am learning to let go. Parenthood has taught me a lot about that. It’s messy and humbling and I am learning to show my mess.
To manage my perfectionism I give myself tons of permission to do things that are good enough. I do things quickly (having two small children will teach you how to do most tasks at lightning speed) and if it’s good enough, it gets my stamp of approval.
I have a few mantras that help:
Quick and dirty wins the race.
Perfection is the enemy of done.
Good enough is really effin good.
5. What inspires you?
Beauty, great design, interesting juxtapositions of color, finding faces in unlikely places, storytelling (Storycorps, This American Life, The Moth) and radical kindness.
6. What’s something that gets in the way of your creativity and how do you move through it?
When I am feeling stuck, nine times out of ten I just need to get out of my chair, away from my computer and move my body for a while. Even a short walk around the block helps loosen me up and keep my mind flexible.
7. Describe a snapshot of a joyful moment in your life. This was my Instagram photo of my 10 month old yesterday: Had a blowout, lost his pants, then got hold of a Sharpie. It’s not your traditional joyful moment, but the laugh I had with some other parents when I explained how these events unfolded was worth its weight in gold.
8. Do you have a mantra or manifesto for living and loving with your whole heart?
Turn on the f*cking faucet! To me that means, tell the truth, stop trying to make everything perfect, stop trimming and editing for what you think other people want to hear. Just let it out, let it be messy, let it be real.
This applies to creativity as well as love. Turn on the freaking faucet. Go all in. Edit less and say more. Let go of all the stuff that gets in the way and let it pour out.
From James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio
1. What is your favorite word? pisellino (it means wee wee in Italian)
2. What is your least favorite word? Nasal
3. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of a dog eating crunchy food
4. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of the radio on in the car while the baby’s crying. Or maybe it’s just the baby crying.
5. What is your favorite curse word? F*ck.
1. A song/band/type of music you'd risk wreck & injury to turn off when it comes on the radio? Anything from the 50’s totally depresses me.
2. Best show on TV? Toss up. Glee or Project Runway.
3. Favorite movie? Bring it On
4. Best concert? That Ben Harper show when I got to go backstage. Swoon…
5. If you could put anything on a t-shirt, what would it be? I heart Tim Gunn.
6. Nightmare job? Truck driver. I hate driving and staying up late.
7. A talent you wish you had? I wish I could sing like Deb Talan.
8. Dream vacation? A Nia (dance) retreat somewhere tropical that involved crystal blue water, swimming with dolphins and amazing food.
9. On my nightstand you will find:
My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen, The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta, Matchbox cars, and ear plugs.
10. What’s something about you that would surprise us? In the right company I can be as crude as a longshoreman.
From Smith Magazine’s Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs from Writers Famous and Obscure, what is your six-word memoir?
The trick was using my voice.
I hope you enjoyed meeting Andrea as much as I enjoyed introducing her to our community! Don't forget to leave your name in the comments section to win a seat in Superhero Photo! We could all use a creative adventure!
We randomly selected a winner and it's Ellen Coker! Congrats!