"Trust is the basis of any nurturing and evolutionary relationship" - Deepak Chopra
A couple of years ago when I was on the brink of taking the leap, making the transition from being an employee in London to becoming self employed, I came across on line art courses. It was a new concept for me and I wish I knew now what had made me search for such courses.
.........probably the unhappiness of my work environmnent where brain washing, bullying, lying and manipulation seemed to take place most days.
I am a firm believer that there are no such things as pure coincidences. So I do believe that I had to go through those traumatic moments, to reach the lowest emotional wellbeing levels .......in order to find the first intuitive painting e-course, one taught by an inspiring artist Connie Hozvicka. Little did I guess then that two and a bit years later I would still be in touch with the amazing souls that witnessed my first shaky steps in the world of intuitive art......and little did I know that together with 39 amazing souls I was going to create and share with the world a project we call "The awakening to your divine self" oracle cards.
But, first things first ... "Calling for like minded people" is one of my first paintings created intuitively, late at night, in the last weeks before I took the leap to "freedom". After years of surviving in a dry environment, where "grey" was the norm, there is perhaps no surprise that I was searching for a tribe where I felt at home, where I felt that I belonged.
It was a suprise to me to find so many kindred spirits among the women taking Connie's course "Painting BIG"; it was a surprise to me to notice the warmth, compassion and support that I felt, the nurturing bubble we were all in - and that lovely state continued even after the course ended. Why? - one of the main reasons was and is , I really believe, the TRUST we had in each other.
Two years later TRUST became the 40th member of our group. Two years later, the tribe, the sisterhood is as strong as it was on the first day. Everything started with intuitive painting, sharing our emotions, sharing our vulnerability, being open with each other, believing in kindness, compassion, believing in meaningful lives ..... ....... and remember, we've never seen each other, we live on different continents and yet ... we are always there for each other .........
"If we parent ourselves only with negative, critical, fearful voices we become depressed or anxious powerless people."
"When we parent ourselves with wise, caring words we become immensely powerful. We can do anything and with this comes a feeling of inner peace." Diana Cooper - The power of inner peace
In other words, if we feel/believe that we are not lovable people now, in this moment, exactly how we are, if we postpone even liking ourselves until we will .... loose more weight, find a better job, live in a better house, meet the prince/princess of our life and so on we walk around like empty vessels, vulnerable, in pain, constantly "hungry" ... although "food" surrounds us everywhere.
I wonder how would our life be/change if we would start writing love letters to ourselves .... every day ........... we can start with short notes on a post-it and just place them with loving messages in our wallet, journal, stick them on the mirror in the bathroom, on the fridge, and then...... when we get a bit more courage write weekly a love letter to ourselves. Why not even mail it to ourselves. I wonder ... how would it be?
We can include a collage as a love letter, dedicate to ourselves .......a painting (above is one of my painting ... called Fairy land ... love reminding myself that colours play a huge part in my life) , a drawing .... the title of a book .......... music that we love ..............
Today, I want to remind myself that devotion is love ..... love is devotion .............. and how uplifting it is to listen and watch Amma .........
"As long as there is enough strength in these hands to reach out to those who come to her, to place her hand on a crying person's shoulder, Amma will continue to give darshan. To lovingly caress people, to console and wipe their tears until the end of this mortal frame - this is Amma's wish" - Amma
Amma's teachings are universal. Whenever she is asked about her religion, she replies that her religion is LOVE. She does not ask anyone to believe in God or change their faith, but only to inquire to their own real nature, and to ...... believe in themselves.
If only our faith leaders would hold the same views ... this world would be a much safer, compassionate, happy, loving one.
"We are many people" - available as a print in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/Searching4happiness
Labels ..... every day we are labelled by other people .. he or she is middle class, or working class, he or she is "stupid" or smart, he is bohemian, she is brilliant, he is a marketing person, she is an actor, he is a cleaner, she is an engineer, he is a doctor, she is an artist.
From the moment we are born people try to put each and everyone of us into a classified drawer, "nicely and neatly", with a pretty label so that they will know exactly what to expect from you.
But when 2 labels are applied ... that you are a marketer AND an artist it becomes confusing ...... because you don't quite fit into a typical box with one "neat and pretty label" . And if a third label is added it's chaos in terms of what sort of person you are perceived to be... how can this be ... so many labels on just one person?
Hmmm no no no ... you can only be one type of person... so please let us have just one label for you so that we can find you a pretty little drawer with a pretty little label.
But the reality is that most of us are like Russian dolls ..... we are many people ... we do many things ... we have multiple skills ... we behave differently in different situations .... we are trained "to be" in a variety of fields. This is an asset, not a liability. It should be ok and normal to see people as being multiple characters (each one of whom is fascinating, each one of whom has many stories to tell).
The other day I came across a charming You tube concert with Dudley Moore - at Hollywood bowl "Jazz & Gershwin" from 1984.
I was absolutely mesmerized to see him performing with so much ease, pleasure and passion. Of course my mind was trying to say ... but, but, but .. Dudley More is .. the fantastic Arthur that makes me laugh every time I see him. He can't also be this gifted pianist! But he is .. and how brilliant is that!
We definitely are ... many people ... aren't we! I hope you will enjoy the concert as much as I did!
"To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don't need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself" - Thich Nhat Hanh
We are busy. Very busy! Running around, eating while we watch TV, reading newspapers while we walk, magazines while we rush through airports, ... starting another diet just because another "celebrity" tells us how to loose weight without much struggle, buying yet another super cream aimed to make our faces look like a 16 year old one and so on ... We are constantly looking at how other people look, what they have, where they go .... getting angry, frustrated, disillusioned, tired and confused.
Who are we after all? When was the last time that we had the time to really,really talk to our inner self?
For me, without any shadow of a doubt, accepting who we are, how we are now, is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves. Once we take the time to make friends with our body, mind and soul .. we are beautiful.
What is the first step? Slowing down ...slowing down through meditation, or art, or cooking, or trying a new activity, or talking to somebody we trust ...or cooking with friends ...
This is what I did a few days ago .. baked German bread with two lovely friends ...... it was a morning of laughter, relaxation, sharing stories, learning more about each other .
Three hours later, we all had 1/3 of a bread in our bag, memories of a great morning, more interesting ideas to put into practice and the promise of another morning together ... this time ... to create a vision board made of collages for our joint wellbeing event. You can learn more about us here at www.awarenessspa.co.uk I really look forward to next Thursday!
Just in case you too would like to have a go at baking the bread, here is the recipe. It is soooo easy and sooooo delicious ......
Add all grains in a plastic container. In a saucepan add the buttermilk, molasses, salt and heat it up for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. What's next? Add the liquid in the grain combination and stir it until it looks like a thick paste......cover it up, allowing it to rest for 20 minutes. In the meantime, lightly butter the bread tin, preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Add the paste in the bread tin, and place it in the oven ... together with a tray of water. (this will preserve the moisture in the bread)
Next, prepare your coffee, grab your favourite novel, put your feet up and relax for the next three hours. Or .... call a friend ... have a lovely chat ... or paint .........
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
"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!
A few hours ago I had the pleasure of watching a masterclass with Lang Lang an exceptional American pianist of Chinese origin. The connection I felt with him was not only because of his musical mastery, common sense, but also because of his upbringing. When he mentioned the number of hours of studies, his parent's attitude towards education and their personal sacrifices I said yes .. this is something that I understand, this is something that sounds so familiar, this is my NORMALITY. Discipline, hours after hours of studies, a grown up attitude towards life and a thirst for more knowledge ...
When one lives in a society with completely different attitudes towards education for example, one feels completely alienated. When one lives in a society where a lot of children don't give a damn about the notion of studying, when hard work is an alien concept, when young people grow up in a environment where only material needs are being catered for, when the only books that a 12 years one reads are about pop stars or footballers there is something seriously wrong somewhere.
Yes I lived in a Communist country with many, many restrictions and difficulties but the silver lining in all of this for me and many children of my generation was education, studying, reading. From a very early age we were encouraged to read ...... the classics ... Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters, Guy de Maupassant, George Sand and so on. At 10-12 it was perfectly normal to be well on your way in devouring these books. Probably the best memories of my childhood are related to the books and the authors that became my imaginary friends.
So, when Lang Lang was talking about his upbringing I could resonate with him ......i was on the same page with him ... .. just as I can resonate with my Romanian friends. For us, the word education means the same thing, we sing from the same sheet, we have a deep, very deep respect for the act of learning and studying, very much unlike what I find around me these days. Here, in this world, in time, one learns to observe, nod and move on ... why? Because ... there is no dialogue!
One of the musical pieces he performed was composed by Chopin .........and somehow George Sand came to my mind, her beautiful novels, her intense love story with Chopin, her non conformity and amazing storytelling talent. And suddenly I felt the need to re-read especially "Mauprat" and "The story of my life". Oh but it is not easy at all as it looks like her books haven't been published here for more than 20 years. How sad to see that George Sand's name will be completely forgotten in the years to come. It could very well be that in other countries it is still possible to buy her books so my darlings do look her up, buy her books and read them in this cold winter days, sipping some red wine, and listening to Chopin's mesmerizing music.
End of August ..... for a month I had the feeling that I had travelled back in time ..... a slipped disk knocked me down again, out of the blue, with no mercy. I'm not going to dwell on the pain and what it can do to your mind, body, soul. I'm going to concentrate on something positive.
But first, let's go back in time ...... 3 years ago, late one night, while asking the Universe for healing I came across Kuan-Yin, the goddess of compassion. Her gentle energy is invoked by reiki healers, there are books written about her ...... more but about her in a different blog.
This time, also late at night, when pain scared the sleep away, I came across a programme called "The accidental musician" on Sky Arts. The documentary was about Melody Gardot's journey from pain to success through music. I had no clue who she was at the time but I was mesmerised by the velvety voice, the air of mystery she surrounded herself with. How rewarding was my decision to watch the program, how inspiring and uplifting her story!
A car accident (she was knocked down from her bike) shattered her life .... pelvis injuries, spine injuries (she couldn't walk for 2 years), severe head injuries ..... she was only 19.
Traumatic as it was, she recognises that if it hadn't been for this her life would have been completely different, far from the music which has saved her life (during her recovery, a doctor suggested music therapy and the fact that it could help reform the pathways between the neurons in her brain and improve her short term memory).
The doctor was right and her recovery spectacular.
You can hear one of her songs (click below) and I'm sure she will impress you as much as she impressed me. I love all of her albums but maybe my favourite is "Worrisome heart".
Her experiences, her attitude towards life, challenges, resonate with me and also it reminds me to search for the silver lining in everything that happens in life!
I have to admit that I have never before watched events under the Paralympics umbrella - until this year. I'm not even sure that I really knew that the event existed, it had no profile at all in Romania.The Paralympics in London has changed me for good.
But, first, let me tell you something.... I'm Romanian and disability in my country under our repressive regime was a curse, something to be ashamed off, to hide, to remove from the eyes of the people. Until Romania was accepted for EU membership, providing access for wheelchairs in public spaces was almost certainly at the bottom of the public expenditure TO DO list. Things have changed a bit since then but I sense only a tiny bit.
Living in England illustrates very publicly the notion of equal opportunities, the rights of people with disabilities, and their very visible presence in all aspects of life ... from journalism to politics, from sports to government.
We are all equal!
Watching the exceptional swimming races, the athletics, the passionate wheelchair volleyball, one feels like cheering without a break. At the beginning maybe the disability is what you see. After a few minutes the heat and passion of the competition takes over and one admires little other than the skills and determination on show!
Oscar Pistorious, better known as "The blade runner", "the fastest man on no legs" was probably the first man with a disability who stole the hearts of millions around the world.
And boy what an inspiring sporting motto he has ..... " you're not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are enabled by the abilities you have". I'm absolutely convinced that the environment that he grew up in was crucial to instilling such powerful beliefs!
I was over the moon when I read that a Romanian cyclist, Carol Eduard Novak won the first gold medal ever for the Romanian Paralympic delegation! How inspiring is this for disenfranchised people with disabilities in Romania.
What a great opportunity for our Romanian press to be in the frontline of the battle against ignorance and prejudice! What an opportunity to bring the message of "yes you can" if you are determined enough!
Books choose us and not the other way round. At least this is what I believe!
After being confined to the house for a few weeks I felt on top of the world today ..... had a delicious coffee in a new cafe in Eastbourne called Beanzz, met its charismatic owner ( more about this soon) and went across the street from them to the Oxfam book shop for a bit of browsing! This is what I call a lovely morning!
I knew I would find something special today! I really did and there it was right in front of me ......Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I came across her first book "Infidel" 4 years ago when I was trying to understand the Somali community.
If you are interested and passionate about women s rights, if you believe that foreign politics is very far from the manufactured information you are being fed by the media and politicians, if you would like to hear about what it means being a woman in a tribal, clan like society, then you must read "Infidel", just like you must read "Nomad".
If you are an immigrant trying desperately to adapt, to find your place in a new society, trying to constantly re-assess your old habits and values, both books will be relevant to you too.
Michael Burleigh wrote that Nomad is a bold and passionately written book which should be essential reading for any politician who has to deal with the closely related problems of Islamism and immigration".