A few days ago I browsed through my "Resurgence" magazines and came across a lovely poem by Satish Kumar and felt the need to share it in this blog alongside two of my paintings. So here it is and I really hope that you will enjoy them!
"Whole body Prayer"
May our legs be strong and steady
May our feet tread softly on the earth
May our stomach be small and soft
May our belly be full of fire
May our heart be large and loving
May our soul be simple and serene
May our mind be calm and clear
May our spirit be free of fear
May our mouth mind sweet words and kind kisses
May our eyes see beauty below, beauty above and beauty all around
May our ears hear words of praise and music of the cosmos
May our hands be generous in giving and grateful in receiving
I don't know how you all are my darlings but when I like something, I just want to speak about that IT with as many people as possible. So a few weeks ago when Helena, my talented Flamenco teacher asked me whether I would like to organise a little event after our weekly class and to talk about my art and my story I said a very big and loud YES.
Why? Because art helped me survive traumatic moments in my life, because art continues to help me, motivate me, helps me thrive in a different country, different culture, because art helps me connect with remarkable human beings and so much more.
Whenever I speak in front of an audience I like to bring some of the paintings from my series "Art from the soul". Each painting has a story, each story tells a bit of my life, a bit of my past, present and undoubtedly the future.
I was extremely happy to tell my flamenco dancing partners a bit about Romania, my country of origin, about the way we all grew up, about the lessons I've learned, about coming to England, about freedom, inner freedom.
Inner freedom is that something that allows you to be who you really are, to articulate what you really want to do, be, achieve.
After a delicious set of nibbles prepared with love by Helena my audience had a bit of a surprise ... I wanted to give them all what is called a "taster" of art - I wanted them all to express their feelings on paper for a couple of minutes.
Much to my joy they all joined in and laughter, joy and giggles could be heard at every corner of the room. This sound was like music to my ears. It definitely was a good evening judging by the smiley faces leaving the room with their own flambuoyant piece of "flamenco on paper".
Our flamenco classes take place every Tuesday evening at the Venus Bar in Eastbourne.
"I really enjoyed the day and meeting some lovely people .... The meditation was both relaxing and stimulating. I also liked the massage. The art session was very therapeutic and expressive of my feelings. I now have the finished piece on the wall. It was also fun which is one way of letting go of tensions. ...... I have recommended the course to some friends and hope to attend another one"-Elena from East Sussex
A part of me just wants to say ... this is it my darlings, our mini retreat participant said it all......what she experienced, how she felt, the impact on her life.
The "Awareness Spa mini retreats" take place once a month, usually the second Thursday of the month, from 9.30 am until 3 pm.
Location: Natural Wonders Therapies (a quick 10 minutes walk from Eastbourne railway station) 30 Bedfordwell Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 2BL.
So, if you want to enhance your sense of wellbeing through meditation, art therapy, massage, if you would like to increase your confidence, explore raw/living food, experience group spiritual coaching ....and much more, join our monthly mini retreats.
The places are limited and we warmly recommend you to book early in order to avoid disappointment.
Your investment for this exclusive experience is £ 50 , and we ask for £25 non-refundable deposit to secure your place. Please note that there is a special discounted price for February, March, April ofonly £30.
Payment: please make your cheques payable to Elke Pollard and send it to her at the address mentioned above.
Do like us on facebook and email us at email@example.com for more information.
We look forward to welcoming you on March 11th, when we are going to explore the .... Spring Rebirth ..... at 9.30. It is time for some ME time for you my darlings!
1. Elke Pollard - Born in Germany during the 1960's, Elke was aways sure life has to be lived from the inside out. She lived in the USA for 16 years where she met her husband and gave birth to 4 of their 6 children. Moving to England 17 years ago, life became overwhelming when she was diagnosed with colitis. Being a fighter her motto is always "At least I will finish the race". A turning point came when she realised life wasn't a set of problems to be solved but given as a gift.
With this new insight, 5 years ago, she started a career as a massage therapist. Helping people out of pain and helping them maintain a healthy mind and body became her foremost interest. Living a holistic life in harmony with mind and body, other people and the environment is now her greatest joy and passion.
2. Anna Hoffmann - I am a mere blip in creation and follow my calling as closely as possible. I’m delighting in the studies of subtle energy and healing in relation to matter and spend most of my free time chasing ideas and thoughts which will hopefully lead me a little bit closer to truth.
Ever since I can remember have my sensory perceptions been a little bit more fine-tuned giving me a different view of my surroundings. More recently I have delved a bit deeper into the realms of nutrition, psychology, counselling and Tui Na (acupressure) massage. I combine the physical with the energetic world which gives me a unique outlook on life.
My dreams and ideas are funded by my main job as a Healthcare Assistant, which gives me the splendid opportunity of gaining clinical knowledge together with my growth as a person. As much as I am on a journey myself, I aim to help others on their own journey based on my own knowledge and experience.
3. Corina Stupu Thomas - I grew up under the communist regime of my beautiful Romania ……and finally left the country in 2006. Millions of people in this world have suffered. Like many of them, to survive, I had to re-invent myself, to start again, and again, and again. In this journey I have learned important lessons, that life is what you make of it. And that what you make of it can be enhanced if you listen to your intuition, if you really connect with people, if you are not afraid to experiment, if you are willing to learn, if you embrace and work alongside change.
The more I live in Eastbourne, the more I discover interesting activities and groups that I can get involved with.
Much to my delight I was invited to attend a painting demonstration this Friday, something I never took part in before, so I definitely grabbed the opportunity.
My intuition was right and I ended up learning about a new artist, Hashim Akib, learned about what a painting demonstration is all about, was introduced to some fabulous brushes manufactured by Liquitex. ..... and do much more!
Hashim(Hash) paints very quickly, with strong brush strokes and although he has a photo as an inspiration I feel that he is an intuitive painter.
Meeting an artist who is able to make a living our of his art and art related activities is always interesting and inspiring. Have a look at his website www.hashimakib.com ....enjoy the colours and the non conventional approach of his subjects.
The event was organised by "The Society of Eastbourne Artists", an organisation with 180+ artists ( it looks like painting is THE hobby to have in Eastbourne) and with a long history ( created in 1946). SEA organises art exhibitions a few times a year and provides a splendid environment for people to connect and meet like minded souls. For more informations have a look at www.sea-eastbourne.com
“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings” - Okakura Kakazo
I’m looking at the fine birch tree in my garden, a tree that reminds me of the many that happily survive harsh winters in the northern wilderness ... it shed its leaves a month ago and the wind can now push easily through it’s wispy branches, twisting and turning but not breaking them. The branches work with the wind, the tree works with the season, it learned a long time ago to adapt, survive, and thrive!
The first word that comes to my mind when I say winter is transformation.... political, emotional, spiritual. At times painful, at times challenging, at times enjoyable, at times confusing, at times upsetting, at times joyful, at times hilarious. The many faces of transformation!
It’s an early, frosty winter morning as I write this. As I’m having my first mug of PG tips of the day I’m ready to go on a journey, a winter journey. The first winter memory that comes to my mind now, is December 1989 and our Romanian revolution, a time of great challenges.
Winter will also be associated in my mind with painting, with the brushes and paints that play such an important part of my life now. That time is also connected with a personal tragedy ......but what is clear to me is that without that tragedy I would never have touched those brushes, I would never have opened a tube of paint, I would never have stepped on my journey of reinvention through art, I would never have enjoyed the sweet taste of inner freedom and the pleasure it brings me every day, I would never have met so many kindred spirits from all around the world.
In times of great challenges ... look for the silver lining, look for that something that has helped you before, look carefully at what is crossing your road in front of you as you travel, look for the sparkle of light in the middle of the storm and use it, use it all. The truth is that you might not see it in that very instance but ... if need be ... invent it! I really mean it! invent it ... through the paints, and through the music that it creates in your mind... visualize it, make it happen! If you are too tired, too in pain, too depleted ..... ask others to visualize with you, ask others to hold your hand and step on the journey of transformation and readjustment with you.
One of the great things about winter is that although we cannot see the seeds in the ground, they are there and the earth is keeping them safe, alive .....and as it warms it will help them come to life in a few months time, in their own rhythm, in their own style ..... surprising us as always with their variety, color, shapes.
It really is the same for each and every one of us.
In Chinese interpretation, 2013 is the year of the Black Snake/Water Snake or Black Water Snake which in Chinese mythology is associated with the element of fire, and therefore is believed to generate positive feelings of light, warmth and comfort. I prefer to stop here on this positive note and believe that 2013 will bring better gifts to all of us!
In the meantime do have a look at Ching-He cooking a delicious meal, learn about chillies and read about my sweet and sour pork with a twist!
I really love cooking in a wok .. I find it so versatile and also enjoyable and fun. One can use it not only to cook Indian, Chinese or Thai dishes. I really cook sometimes soups in it or casseroles and the results are lovely.
But first, here is the list of ingredients for the
Cantonese Style sweet and sour pork (serves 4 people)
250 g pork fillet cut into thin / mid size slices
groundnut oil for deep frying (you can use the sunflower oil if you don't have any at hand .. yes the taste is a bit different but still)
1Tbsp freshly grated root ginger ( I don't peel the ginger and use the skin as well - wash it nicely before use)
1 red pepper cut into chunks
1 green pepper cut into chunks
225 g tinned pineapple sliced and juice retained
1Tbsp light soy sauce (I usually add more and i prefer the dark one so it's up to you)
1Tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar
sea salt and pepper
Dust the pork slices in the flour and place them in a wok which is filled to one third of its depth with groundnut oil. Fry the pork for up to 4 minutes and then drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
Pour the oil from the wok and leave just approx one Tbsp. Return to the heat, add ginger and the peppers and quickly stir for 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and the juice and bring it to boil over a high heat. Season with soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. As always I like to add some extra elements and this time was the juice from one sweet orange. Reduce it and thicken the juice by using arrowroot! Next, return the pork to the wok and stir and toss together until the pork is covered in the sauce. The whole process lasts about 15 minutes. Serve with egg - fried rice.
Egg fried rice
It's so so easy to make :) and delicious
First of all here are the ingredients:
2Tbsp of ground oil
3 eggs beaten
50 g cooked shrimps
50g frozen peas
400 g basmati rice (cook it before as per the instructions on the packet)
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
pepper and salt
Heat a wok over a high heat and add the groundnut oil (if you don't have sunflower will do). Pour in the beaten eggs and leave to settle for 2 minutes, then swirl it with a fork to scramble. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the shrimps and frozen peas to the wok and stir fry them for 1 minutes. Add some 3 cardamon pods (I love to use cardamon when I cook rice) and the rice and mix well until the rice has broken down.
Return the scramble egg to the wok, season with soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper.
And this is about it my darlings ... job done! Enjoy it!
"She hated funerals so much that she decided not to come even to her own" (our own dear Mary at the end of a lovely service)......... this my darlings is British humour, something I really admire about this nation. It has the ability to dismiss sadness, to wash away the tears, all in a few simple words.
I'm not going to write about this today although humour and giggles were very much part of my very special relationship with a soul now painting with the angels, inspiring them to paint with bigger brushes, bolder colours, sharing with them the last of her delicious pieces of chocolate (in fact lots and lots of chocolate) and endless cups of aromatic coffee.
I want to write today about serendipity, about those moments when even years after an event you remember everything vividly... with gratitude and with love.
Painting by Jill E
.......some years ago, sometime in the month of April, when the peaceful English countryside was bounding into life, nature's way of compensating us, with an explosion of colours and scents, for the miserable past six months of grey, I was touring the Eastbourne "Open Houses" art festival and came across an art group (Art 22). I was completely taken by the work of one particular artist......the rest is the history of a lovely friendship.
So, what attracted me to her work?
Her bold brush strokes (implying the artist worked with big brushes .. at that time I was using tiny, tiny ones) and her use of powerful colours, clear proof of a strong inner voice ....so somebody I wanted to meet.
Much to my lasting joy Jill, the artist, was there that day.........her colourful clothes, her smile, embraced me like a warm fluffy hug. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship! A friendship I wish you all to experience in your life! It is a priceless gift because "at times our own light goes out only to be rekindled by a spark from another person".
Many of us have cause to express deep gratitude to those who lit the flame within us." So my darlings, my fairy art mother Jill E, did exactly that ... to me".
Painting by Jill E
If my father's terminal illness in a harsh place a long way away was the event that made me pick up a brush for the first time nine years ago, Jill was the one who encouraged me to be bolder, to paint bigger.......to paint with and from the soul and not with the eyes.
In time, over many many cups of coffee, I had the priviledge to learn about her past, about the things that made her happy and I came to understand her generous philosophy of life.
The Dalai Lama, in one of his quotes, described very well (in my opinion) what darling Jill was all about .... "This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy ... our own heart is our temple; kindness is our philosophy".
When one leads a life under a coloured umbrella of kindness ..... anger becomes compassion, tears become laughter, life becomes a never ending rainbow of opportunities... in spite of the limitations that age, health, where you come from, and more could bar your way..remember to hang on to the coloured umbrella. Jill was and will always be an ambassador for this way of thinking.
.... in her 50's she started adult education classes and obtained a diploma in art. She joined an art group (Art on the River/Art flow), exhibited, sold paintings, enjoyed the camaraderie that a shared passion brings along. While in her 60's she decided to take flying lessons. She piloted her small plane across the Downs, allowing the patterns, the colours and textures of the patchwork of fields and life below to bring a different perspective to her paintings. I will never forget her cheeky face as she told the story of the "sticky clouds".... her endless curiousity made her want to touch the clouds, to feel their texture. Much to her instructor's amazement she opened the window of her Cessna ... and ... yes, she touched the clouds, feeling what it might be like to be among them.
In spite of her fragile health she continued to charm everyone with her cheerful, optimistic way! Although she is now in a different dimension, every time I dip my brush into paint, every time I pick up a new piece of paper or canvas, every time I look at paintings all around the house, I know she will be in the clouds above me, encouraging me, telling me never to give up experimenting, always imploring me to continue to paint from my heart!