Mind, Body, Spirit

About being bullied, civil service and how storytelling, painting, humour can help

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Let me tell you something ....  I believe in the Patch Adams (you might have seen the movie, go and get the book as well) theory of healing through humour. I also believe art in any forms heals. I don't speak from books or imagination but ... I've been there. I left a  bullying environment 8 years ago and an article I came across earlier today made me  dig through my blogs and decide to republish something I posted on this topic. It is clear to me that old, bad habits die hard and bullying in the civil service is still going strong. Probably many still suffer in silence, taking their daily anti depressants, abusing their bodies and souls in all sorts of ways ... desperate to survive a hostile environment. I simply want to tell you that .. I hear you, I understand you .. I've been there. Below you will hear my voice (as it was at the time),  my way of illustrating  the way I was being bullied, the sort of workplace situation I faced daily. I would like to inspire you, the one who suffers to write your story, to look for humour, to paint, express what you feel creatively, get the support of your union rep and make plans to get out of there fast. It helps! It really does! So let me say it again ..... what helped me at the time was my union and my union rep. The story below has been shared at the time with the top man in the organisation I worked in and was part of my defence as ... yes I did complain (I encourage you to speak up) about the abuse I was suffering and yes again I faced the managers asking for justice. Yep I received apologises and so on but this is another story ... 

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So here we go, this is how the whole situation felt like ... of course in a  ... different setting:


" The western front, april 1943 ...

The war in Europe is reaching a climax. There have been battles but the big spring offensive is being planned by military command. Plans are having to be changed as our scouts bring more intelligence from the field and the timing of the offensive is being delayed because of other issues in the theatre of war. The Colonel (my manager's manager) responsible for the central push of our army is highly experienced, is calm under fire and has a clear view of military priorities.

One of his brigade commanders has retired and, pending the arrival of the new commander, the colonel shortens the chain of command, dealing directly with 1st Company under the control of a Polish Lieutenant (me) a structural engineer by training, who fought in the ice and floods of the Eastern Front against the Russians - and dealing directly with 2nd Company under the control of an experienced officer.

The Polish Lieutenant was well trained (this was carefully assessed at training camp by the excellent recruitment team lead by General E) and the Lieutenant has got to know his men well. His men (agencies, press, events) are located in different pockets across the planned front with his support close behind. 1st Company has a well researched battle plan that has been approved by the Colonel and General Command. The chain of command is understood and his men, all experienced army fighting men, are charged with preparing their own units for battle.

The Lieutenant takes a well trained leave to sunny Tripoli.

While he is away, a young Captain (My new manager) arrives to takes command of the brigade. The Colonel briefs him on how important to the success of the war is the planned central push of 1st Company. The Captain recognises this treat to his reputation and responds by taking day to day control of 1st Company (my team), explaining to the men that he is now in charge, without explaining why - unfortunately he did not tell the Lieutenant (me) this on his return from leave and, as a consequence, one of the worst things followed that can happen to an army in battle, there was complete confusion, with the Lieutenant issuing orders and the new Captain issuing other orders.

Gradually it dawned on the Lieutenant what was happening - but it was too late. His position with his men had been undermined and he looked silly in front of them. The new Captain signalled to the Lieutenant (me sitting next to him) that he, the Captain, is now in direct command of 1st Company and that he (me) is therefore demoted to Sergeant without clear portfolio.

The Captain's first acts are to ridicule the Sergeant's placing and equipment of 1st Company's left flank platoon, the first of many many similar criticisms. He commands the Sergeant to move and re-equip the platoon. The Sergeant points out to the Captain, who was once again not listening, that the men on the left flank were there for a good reason. The Captain repeated again and again, that the positioning and heavy equipment of the left flank platoon was all wrong, that he knows better -they should be facing the other way.

Again and again the Sergeant pointed out that there was a good reason for the heavy night sight rifles and their location. The Captain was not interested because it was all wrong in his opinion - finally the Sergeant was able to make it clear to the Captain that forward scouting intelligence had reported that the enemy was camped just in front of the men, behind the privet hedge waiting to attack - which is why the Colonel and General Command has approved the forward position of the left flank platoon and a night attack.

The Captain fell silent as he thought of other battle planning issues to criticise as he liked to do this, he liked to criticise, that's what he had been told that officers do. The situation was repeated time and time again. Unfortunately this constant criticism meant that the Sergeant could not lead his men who were depending on him for new battle instructions."

....... TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW 

 


Flamenco and the spirit of the ancient grandmothers

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There are times in our life when one simply cannot find the energy to write ... when words are kidnapped by a particular somehting that holds them as hostages. .... no ransom is required ... they are simply gone behind a veil .... this is when images replace the words ... images and movement .... 

Painting and flamenco seemed to have been my loyal companions over the last few months .... allowing my tears and joy to be expressed freely.  

I feel the need to share 2 things today .... one connected to flamenco and another connected to painting from the soul. 

Ever since i've started the flamenco classes I felt it is something that will have a big influence in my life.  And it was. It still is. It all started 4 years ago,  thanks to a book called Duende ... yes this book was the catalyst ... and although i loved flamenco for many years, i never dared to believe i could try and take some classes and start learning this beautiful dance myself. So here i am ready to start my year 4 with a talented teacher, Helena. You can find out more about her at www.duendeflamenco.co.uk 

Why flamenco appealed to me besides the rhythm, colour, music, passion is the fact that it requires discipline, dedication, commitment, repetition. This is what I'm used to, this is what i respond positively to  as the Communist system I grow up in imprinted those elements in my DNA. In my mind if one wants to be good at anything one needs to dedicate one's energy, spare time, everything to that particular "it" and do it again and again and again. 

 

Flamenco is not for the lighthearted .. not at all ... 

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One of the things i've struggled a lot with is ... having an attitude ...:) being able to express emotions through movement, being able to become vulnerable in front of other people ... because this is what is all about ..., when you need to dance in front of other people, even your colleagues it takes hips of courage to do that ... it takes hips of courage to push through the panic attacks, crippling anxiety ...this year something has changed and I am able to just be in the dance ..... 

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One of Helena's prompts in helping us express emotions is the image of our grandmothers ... our grandmothers ... hmmm she is thinking about the grandmothers of the flamenco clans of course .... 

It's funny how one word can inspire you or it can leave you empty ... one word brings lots of stories to the surface ... my grandmothers were anything but strong and confident ..... on the contrary ... they were pushed while very young in difficult marriages, born and living in small villages where the male figure was everything and was destroying the soul and lives of the women. 

Flamenco came to my mind when i was deeply involved in an online course delivered by the very talented Jassy ... a course exploring .. the Ancient Mother .... while following the course for a few weeks .. suddenly ... i understood that .. although i do not have the example of a strong, confident, powerful grandmother figure in my life, and i have never had .. i can connect to times long gone .... i can connect to the ancient grandmothers .... it feels more natural to me .. i can imagine them being the pillars of their tribe, i can imagine them being strong and loving, and supportive and inspiring. 

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Your own revolution

"Now as I grow older, I feel like a person. Not male, not female, but human" - Natalie Lete

"If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected, for it is hard to find and difficult" - Heraclitus 

I so like these quotes and relate to!  :) The other day, I was finishing a painting ... preparing it for an exhibition I will take part in starting with April 19th, at the Hop Gallery in Lewes. While finishing it I suddenly realized that having gone through such a traumatic revolution in 1989 when the Romanian people went against a terribly oppressive regime and won,  some of us .. will carry the sparkle of resilience,  spirit of freedom and revolution  in our hearts forever. It manifests in the way we are prepared to be take risks in our lives, in the way we are prepared not to be humiliated and belittled without a reason, in the way we are prepared to stand up for our beliefs and be accounted for our actions, in the way we are prepared to witness hypocrisy and challenge it.......... 

I have realized how lucky I am to have been born in Romania, in extremely traumatic times, to have had unique challenges and opportunities and grab them with both my hands. (love Joni Mitchell's powerful song ... Both sides now ... somehow .... i can relate to the stories in her songs)

 

What I have also learned and realized is that ..... passion and authenticity is more important then perfection. 

Be authentic! Be free! 

 

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Freedom

 

 

 

 


Stories heal

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"There are 2 kinds of people - one kind you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final self ... you know you can expect no more surprises from it .. the other kind keep moving, changing .... and making new trysts with life and the motion of it keeps them young." - Robert Fulghum

Stories ...... we all love them ...... children and adults .. .... stories have layers ... it's up to you where you want to stop ... many times, your soul processes old memories, lets go of the past , helps you enjoy life more, see life ... in colour. 

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As part of the National Storytelling week 2014 i want to share with you as story I really , really like ... a story that speaks to me on quite a few levels and I am sure you will enjoy it as well. Much to my delight when i read the story, I knew imediately which painting to post next to it ... it is called ... Little Elf and ... i painted it some months ago. 

 

"The almost tragic story of a tender Elf" - by John Bradshow

 

Once upon a time there was a tender little elf. He was a very happy elf. He was bright and curious and knew the secrets of life. For example, he knew that love was a choice; that love involved hard work; that love was the only way. He knew that he could do magic things and that his unique form of magic was called ... creativity. The little elf knew hat as long as he truly created, there would be no violence. And he knew the grateast secret of all - that he was somehting rather than nothing. He knew he was being and that being was everything. This was called he secred of "I AMness". The creator of all elves was the Great I AM. The Great I AM always was and always will be. No one knew how or why this was true. The Great I AM was totally loving and creative. 

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Another most important secret was the secret of balance. The secret of balance meant that all life is a marriage of opposites. There is no life without physical death; no joy without sorrow; no pleasure without pain; no light without darkness; no sound without silence; no good without bad. True healt is a form of wholeness. And wholeness is holiness. The great secret of creativity was to balance a wild creative unfocused energy with a form that allows that energy to be. 

One day our tender elf, whose name by the way was Joni, was given another secret. This secret scared him a little. The secret was that he had a mission he must do before he could create forever. He had to share his secrets with a ferocious tribe of non-elves. You see, elf life was so good and wonderful that the secret of that wonder needed to be shared with those who didn't know anything about the wonderment. Goodness always wants to share itself. Each elf was assigned to one family of the ferocious non-elf tribe. The non-elf tribe was called Snamuh. The Snamuh knew no secrets. They often squandered their beings. They worked endlessly and seemed to feel alive only when they were doing something. Some elves referred to them as DOs. They also killed one another and engaged in war. Sometimes at sporting evetns and music oncerts they trampled one another to death. 

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Joni entered his Snamuh family on June 29th, 1933 at 3.05 AM. He had no idea what was in store for him. He didn't know that he would have to use every ounce of his creativity in order to tell his secrets. 

When he was born, he was given the Snamuh name of Farquahar. His mother was a beautiful 19 year old princess who was ravished by a need to perform. She had a strange curse on her. The curse was a neon build that rested in the middle of her forehead. Whenever she tried to play, have fun, or just be, the light blinked on and a voice said, "Do your duty". She could never just do nothing and be. Farquhar's father was a short but handsome kind. He also carried a curse. He was haunted by his wicked witch mother, Harriet. She lived on his left shoulder. 

Anytime he tried to just be, she screamed and yelled. Harriet was always telling him to do something. 

In order for Farquahar to tell his parents and others his secrets, they needed to be quiet and stop doing long enough to see and hear him. This they could not ; his mom because of the neon bulb, and his dad because of Harriet. From the moment he was born, Farquhar was all alone. Since he has the body of a Snamuh, he also had the feelings of a Snamuh. And because of his abandonment, he felt furious, deeply frustrated and hurt. 

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Here he was a tender elf who knew the great secrets of I AM and no one would listen to him. What he had to say was life giving but his parents were so busy doing there duty, they could not learn from him. in fact, his parents were so confused, they thought that it was their job to teach Farquhar to do his duty. Anytime he failed to do what they thought was his proper duty, they punished him. Sometimes they ignored him by putting him in his room. Sometimes they hit him or screamed at him. In fact, Farquahar hated the screaming the worse. He could take the isolation and the hitting was over with quickly; but the screaming and endless telling him about his duty went so deep that it even threatened his elf soul. Now, you cannot kill an elf's soul, because it is part of the Great I AM; but it can be so badly wounded that it seems like it isn't there anymore. This is what happened to Farquhar. In order to survive, he stopped trying to show his mother and father his secrets and instead pleased them by performing and doing his duty.

His mom and dad were very unhappy Snamuhs . (Actually most Snamuhs are unhappy unless they learn the secret of the elves)

Farquahar's dad was so tormented by Harriet that he used all his energy to find a magic potion that took away all his feelings. But the magic was not creativity. It actually took away his creativity. Farquahar's dad became like a "walking dead man". After a while, he stopped even coming home. Farquahar's Snamuh heart was broken. You see, every Snamuh needs both his father's and his mother'slove in order to let the elf in him tell his secrets.

Farquahar was overwhelmed by his father's abandonment. And, since his father could no longer help his mother, her neon bulb blinked more intensely. Consequently, Farquhar was yelled at and cajoled even more. By the time he reached his 12th birthday, he'd forgotten he wa an elf. A few years later, he learned about the magic forgotten he was an elf. A few years laer, he learned about the magic potion that his father used to kill Harriet's voice. At 14 he started using it often. While in the hospital he heard an inner voice urging him to wake up. The voice that moved him to wake up was the " being" voice of his elf soul. For you to see, no matter how bad it gets, the elf voice will always call a Snamuh to celebrate his being. Joni never gave up, he never stopped trying to save Farquar. If you're a Snamuh and you're reading this, please remember this; You have an elf sould in you that is alwyas trying to call you to your being. 

When Farquhar was lying in the hospital, he finally heard Joni's voice. That made all the difference. "

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From intuitive painting to Fearless Sisters

"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.

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.........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. 
 
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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 ......... 

TRUST, BELIEVE, CONNECT 

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                          Calling for like minded people 

Devotion and more

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"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? 

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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. 

This is the story of her life   

 


Self love

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I know it is already mid January but i still feel the need to remind myself that this is a new year ... it is a new beginning ... so ... a bit late but ... Happy New Year to all of you and may this year bring more compassion, abundance, self love into our lives.

And actually this is exactly what I would like to write about now ... about self love. I don't know about you but when I am very busy I sort of ... forget about myself.  I've been programmed :) like many of us to sacrifice things that might benefit my wellbeing  for ... more hours dedicated to work. And funnily enough it is not even hard to do this .. it comes naturally. 

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Obviously .. at the deep level the conditioning of ... work equal "good girl" runs very deep in my psychic and a bit of enjoyment just for the sake of enjoyment is not something that makes me feel comfortable. And I know I'm not unique. Not at all. 

The beginning of this year reminded me .. in a painful way I have to say,  that ... health is key ... and self sacrifice for financial gain is a double sided knife. 

So here I am writing about my experience and reminding myself that ... self love is so important ... and I am convinced that it can be learned .. one step at a time. 

As a reminder ... i have created a self love collage  ... it will hang nicely on my fridge and hopefully remind me that ..... lack of self love equals pain ... it really does! 

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A reminder

The end of the year is an opportunity for all of us to start dreaming, start planning your new goals ....

Here is a little message from me ....be bold with your goals...... challenge yourself..... because being in familiar territory and yet uncomfortable it's not the way .....

Spread your wings ....connect with your inner strength!

A reminder

A reminder


How to clear your negative emotions with a brush and paint

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If you are human you are definitely prone to mood changes .....  highs and lows ... it's the way life works. How you deal with such moments is very much connected to what you saw in your family, how they dealt with challenging situations, with stress. Of course you add your personal touch  :) but ... a lot it is  learned behaviour.

When we hit rock bottom and our old "how to deal with stress" techniques don't seem to work anymore,  we start to look for alternative  ...........ways to cope when life gets tough. 

I'm sure you : 

- meditate

- talk to a friend

- write in a journal

- go for a drink and maybe more

- go shopping

- run

- cry 

- shout  ..... 

What I'm proposing today is ... to "wash away the blues" with a brush and a few paints. 

So, let's suppose you've had a hard day, a day with things really seem dark and gloomy. Pick up a glass of red wine ... or maybe white ... or maybe a cup of tea ... or two, a piece of paper (it can be white or it can be one of those old paintings you are fed up with), a tube of black paint and maybe dark blue as well, a few juicy pens ... and .... that's about it ..... you can start .... the process of washing away your dark feelings ...  

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 Step one - take an old painting you don't need anymore (see my image above) or a piece of paper .. size is not important but not smaller than an A4 size

Step 2 - take a juicy pen and start writing down your emotions, the ones you want to let go off and just scribble ... in big, big letter, turning the page upside down many times. 

Step 3 - time to use your brush and the black paint .. and cover the whole page with black ... 

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Step 4 - fold the paper (see images above) and paint the white side and fold again ... and paint the white side again ... keep folding and painting until you end up with a tiny piece of folded paper  .......... all black and dark and small now ... now ... you have a few options : 

 

1. burn it 

2. chuck it away in the bin

3. wrap the paper around a stone and throw it away in a river, sea .... 

Try this and ... let me know how you will feel! 

 

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What is right for you?

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Time and time again I meet people who go through life doing a lot of what they think they should do in spite of the negative impact it has on their lives. I came across such a thing in Romania while I was studying but not at all for the next 16 years of my career. I wonder why is that? I do not remember wanting to do things and not carrying it through. I do not remember postponing  ... because my darlings ... life does not wait! It really doesn't. 

It always makes me sad to hear clients feeling utterly depressed and saying ... oh if only i were younger, if only i had .. this, that and the other, if only ... i could change my life. But they talk about it already from a defeated position. Somehow it is as if they gave up before starting. Why? Because of layers and layers of limiting beliefs, layers and layers of stories they told themselves, because of a lack of trying to understand who they really are, what they really want to BE, DO, HAVE...... 

And I'm not talking about big things really ... let's go to something that we all struggle with ... what do we do to relax? Honestly .. what do you do? 

Many people succumb on the coach, in front of the TV, flipping aimlessly from one channel to another .. evening after evening, month after month, year after year. You meet them in coffee shops at the weekend, or queuing to buy some flowers on Saturday afternoon, or pushing big shopping trolleys on Friday evening in supermarkets and hypermarkets. They have a holiday or two per year and dream about retirement when ... they will start to do something wonderful....... start to really live and relax. But this is when many are faced with a big dilemma  ..... they do not know how to really live and relax because this is just like a muscle ... if you don't practice it .. it will not appear out of the blue. 

But what if you ask yourself now ... what is right for me? What is right for my soul now? What works in my life? What needs to change? And i wonder how would you life be if you would start asking yourself more often this question .............. Is this (put your own word here) right for me? Does it serve me right? Does it nurture my soul, body and mind? What else do i need? How can I get it now? What are the steps? Life is a journey not a destination my darlings and enjoying the journey is key!