life and other things

Course Correcting

 On Christmas Eve, my family and I flew home after a few years living abroad. We bought a house on line and were waiting to move into it. Many said it was a brave move, buying a house off the internet. I had heard that before, that it was brave to pack up your family and move to a new country with no real plans. For me it didn't feel brave, it felt like the only thing to do when that itch to break out of one life and try another, to jump- not jumping wasn't really an option. Buying a house on line wasn't brave either. What was brave was admitting that the move wasn't working, that the children were not happy. What was brave was releasing a dream (sometimes we hold them too tight and dreams are fragile things) and doing what needed to be done to bring harmony and make room for new dreams. What was brave was risking failing, and leaping anyway, and then doing it again. Course correcting.

Luminous Mandala word of the year journal page, Galia Alena
Luminous Mandala- word of the year page
We didn't go back, there is no going back, as the saying goes "you can not step into the same river twice". So we didn't go back- we made a conscious choice to go forward, to find a place where we could all flourish. Course correcting.

View from Couch Surfing
 So on Christmas Eve we flew out of the land of the Long White Cloud and returned to the land of OZ. We arrived, with no plans but in time to spend Christmas with family and friends. After a few days couch surfing with family and then at a friends place near the beach luck dropped a little boat shed to rent for a month and we spent a few weeks with the ocean lapping at our feet.

Travel journaling Galia Alena sketching boat shed
Scenes from the Boat Shed
 Literally an old boat shed which was down several flights of stairs into the rocks, the old boat shed had been converted into a studio flat right on the water, so much so that if you were a sleep walker you would be in dire trouble in the night. In the mornings I was woken by the wake of the passing ferries and would then dangle my feet down into the water at the end of the bed while nursing my morning coffee. We reacquainted ourselves with old stomping grounds, caught up with friends, enjoyed the warm weather and outdoor concerts while waiting until our new house would be available for us.

Travel journaling Galia Alena sketching boat shed

 When the month was up, it was time to move up the mountains so the children could start their new year, and a little furnished house serendipitously fell into our laps until we could finally move into our new house.

Picasso Inspired Journal Galia Alena
Picasso Inspired Journal
 So many elements of luck and trust were at work in our move home. I made the decision to bring my family home sitting in a sweat lodge at Esalen surrounded by my beautiful sisters all supporting one another in our truths. In the dark hot tent, to the singing voice of Pixie and others I knew what needed to be done. It took awhile from the initial knowing, to the later hearing and then the final breaking of the camel's back at which point having none of the details sorted or the means to do it, I threw myself at the mercy of the universe, opened myself to trusting and declaring the intention of going home and left so many of the details open. In so many ways I/we were supported by friends, family, chance, luck and serendipity and while all the details are still unfolding it has been a pleasure to watch the pieces fall magically into place. With gratitude I sit here and type from my new home where my children are again happy (I will share more on the new home in another post, although if you follow me on Instagram you would already have had some sneak peeks).

Fleeting Altered Book Galia Alena, mixed media journal
Fleeting Altered Book
Of course, while in between lands and homes, there was light sketching and playing in little journals, a different way of working for different circumstance, an extended travel kit and inspiration from Misty (fleeting altered book and Picasso homage journal) and Jeanne (pattern journal). I hugged my children, worked in my books, listened to the whispers of the muses and let things fall where they would.

Pattern journal, Galia Alena, art journal sketches
Pattern Journal
A word on course correcting, we should all always be doing it, looking at our lives and seeing what is working, what isn't and what is missing (what's still needed as my friend Maya says), risking mistakes to find our own way, making glorious and brave mistakes, and being brave enough to course correct, sometimes a few degrees, sometimes 180, always with quiet listening and fierce abandon for life.

With Gratitude

Making rainbows out of lemons- Journal as Metaphor

 The creative process is a process of surrender, not control. Julie Cameron

Galia Alena Spectrum mixed media journal page
It wasn't the journal page itself I was pushing against, it was myself, it was life. All  I could see was ugly, I wanted to screw the whole thing up, I wanted to toss it in the bin. I didn't have a clue what I was doing. I layered and layered, more and more layers of ugly, not the ugly teenage stage, just plain butt ugly and I didn't see any way to escape it. I hated it, it showed me up as a failure who had not a clue what she was doing. I had no control over it. Disheartened, I did my Scarlet O'hara and decided that tomorrow would be another day.

The next day I went back in determined to make things work, lemonade out of lemons. Usually I love the opportunities that mistakes give you, threads for the imagination to tug on until something gives. I tell my son that I set myself up for accidents, and his face struggles with the concept "oh, no, that's just not logical". Accidents are opportunities, ugly means I'm not attached, not attached means freedom, freedom to push against my edges, freedom to try something new, freedom to discover.

When I journal I don't need to make "pretty" pictures, I don't need to make "art", there's a sense of journey and discovery, and while pages are never really "finished" there is a sense of that is how it should be, completion, almost fulfillment. Equally there is also this sense of not done, more to discover, not authentic and other such indicators which let me know to keep going, that the messages aren't complete, that the work is not authentic, that I have to dig deeper.

I know that life is beyond my control, but on most days there is a general illusion that I have some control over my life, that I steer my own ship. On this day I didn't feel this, I felt all was beyond my control, out of control, out of my hands. Life was in the air, free falling and I just didn't know how to juggle any of it. I felt helpless and lost. This is what showed up on my page. I didn't know what I was doing.

And as in life, the next day I picked myself and kept going, pushing through and squeezing those lemons, showing up, pushing though, risking. Is the page pretty, no, is it art, no, but what it is is LIFE, my life and I squeezed those lemons and got myself a rainbow.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” ― Mary Oliver

To learn more about Spectrum, which inspired this page, or to join on this journaling journey with some truly amazing guidess pop over here: SPECTRUM

Sanctuary of the journal page

Art Journaling mixed media journal page Galia Alena
 The chaos of life with a family (or I should say with a teenager) has put a stop to my Face a Day challenge as well as pretty much every other creative project I was juggling. Somehow, though, I managed to find my way back into the sanctuary of my journal pages where I found much creative solace and release. Here are some recent pages. I would love to hear how you manage to stay on path with your creative urges when life has other plans...
Art Journaling mixed media journal page Galia Alena

Art Journaling mixed media journal page Galia Alena
 I also have the first test batch of bowls back that I've been working on, still waiting for the right clay to arrive, but in the mean time I've been taking a lot of frustration out on some stoneware clay, pounding and pounding. Hopefully my supplies will come this week and I will have time to make and fire some gifts for many friends I will soon be seeing. Less than a month until I head off on my adventure... HOLDING ON TIGHT
Clay bowl, Galia Alena

Holding Pattern

Galia Alena Photography Sydney Harbour Bridge
 I'm sitting here in holding pattern for way too long now- moved out of my old house, my old home and my old country, sitting in the new country waiting to get into my new house, waiting for my furniture to arrive so I can re-establish my cocoon and finally exit the land of limbo.
I've said good by to the fair city of Sydney- I will miss your cafes, Gardenias, the fabulous Thai restaurants, I won't miss the traffic, the rudeness, the congestion, or the inflated house prices.
Galia Alena Photography Queenstown

Holding Space- 215800, Thank you Bindu

Well the first 21 days, the official end of the original 215800, has come and gone and I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the journey. For me it was a blessing to start a new regime of yoga, to pull my body and mind into more health and Bindu's group was brilliant for this with the support of the other participants all downing their dogs. The main thing for me with the practice of yoga is staying, and whilst my physical muscles were being strengthened and flexed, it was these inner muscles of stillness that were flexed the most. Sometimes only 20 mins, sometimes 2 hours but always with the rest of the world pulling me down from my practice with the lure of busyness here and demands of life there. I had to work hard to steel and still my mind and hold the intention that for this short time I had nothing else I needed to be doing than holding open this space for myself, to keep me centered and healthy. Such a hard thing to do. I would tell myself that the children downstairs waiting for me deserved the calm and happy mother that would emerge when finished rather than the resentful one who wasn't allowed to finish, that the pile of work would run smoother if those photoshopping knots were unravelled, that someone else could unload the dishwasher and the emails would wait to be checked later. How hard could it possibly be? How much time we waste in useless distraction and yet it is so hard to hold open this space for ourselves.

Well thank you Bindu for the motivation and the inspiration to walk down this path that had been calling me for so long and which I was an expert at ignoring with a lack of prioritising. I realise, after 21 days, why it was calling me and how important it needs to be in my life. I will be continuing on the extra 10 days and beyond. Namaste Bindu xox

I've decided to be Happy- the bearable lightness of being...

This week I thought it was about time I made my own vision board and I found it an enlightening experience. I was perusing the wide web searching for images to include on my vision board only to come to the realisation that I had pretty much every image that I need (except the ever so flexible nubile yoga body on the beach) in my personal collection of photos. That my vision board is what I shoot, and what I am able to shoot because it is what my life is filled with. As cliched as it is our lives are filled with blessings if we choose to see them.
Now we all know the old adage that we create our own lives, and I know this to be true, yet it was still a shock to realise that all of the things that I want in my life pretty much exist in one way or another and that I just have to find ways to allow more of them and to acknowledge them when they are here. In this way my photography is a letter of gratitude to the universe.
Well since this blissful realisation I have been walking on air with sunshine at my back and have chosen to be happy. Now don't get me wrong, I still have daily worries and stresses but seriously, Life Is Good.

Tribute to fallen friends

I'm trying to be zen about the loss of the trees that surrounded my house until this last week. I know things change, and I'm trying to enjoy the additional light now streaming into my house but I'd rather the trees any day and many tears have been shed by both me and my children. Its amazing how much the loss of the trees is changing my relationship to my house. Those trees used to cocoon us in privacy and nature and the mottled golden light that used to filter through the leaves was so magical and serene :( Today the noise of the chainsaws in stereo was too much to bare so armed with laptops we headed out to work at a cafe only to come home and find that one of the trees on ours side that shouldn't have been touched was also felled. Luckily my partner is livid enough for both of us so I get to be resigned about it instead, its not like they can put it back. Below is the old view through a lounge room window which is now replaced with the concrete block beyond:

Cool breeze brushes my
Sun moistened eyelids

My eyes softly shut
Still so bright

Ancient rhythmic licks
At my knobbly knees

Swirling seaweed
In a giant bubble bath

Beads dripping down my back
Feet slowly sinking deep

Rooted to the spot
I wonder to be a Banyan Tree
 Practising being brave and sharing some of my art journal pages starting with these (more to come over the following weeks).
 Misty inspired.
Flora inspired.

Freedom of Choice

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy when it comes to freedom and giving ourselves permission. Yesterday I awoke with pains in my back and in dire need of some physical selfcare. So after dropping the kids off to school I set out to do some Chi Gong followed by yoga. My mind kept wondering to the studio calling me downstairs "its nearly 10, its nearly 10.30 and you haven't started work, you haven't checked your messages." This constant little niggling work ethic that said that it was "work" hours and I should be working. Hey, fairs fair, I had no clients until the afternoon, I was up to date on my orders, I had worked on them on Saturday and had tweaked my work blog on Sunday night. Did that not give me permission to take some time when I needed it?  Was not my health more important anyway? Was that not why I worked for myself and had downsized in the first place?
Eventually I went down and checked my messages, nothing pressing so I drove to the beach and watched the seagulls fly over the thundering waves. Be silent unwanted thoughts that litter my mind. This is my life, my life design, and it includes yoga and the ocean- even in the middle of the day...
What thought patterns haunt you that you can release?