30 days 30 posts

Rising Lotus {Just One Paragraph 17/30}

“As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world” Budha
I've been inspired by this paragraph a day challenge and I've come up with my own challenge which I am going to run shortly. I'm really looking forward to it and am hoping to seduce a few of you to join in with so we can all share, learn and be inspired together. I still have to work out a few more details for it, make it all bloggy by designing a button for it and setting up Mr Linksy, etc etc. Once I'm a bit closer to working all that out then I will share all the details. Stay posted. In the meantime I've had the encaustics wax out again and I've put a layer over this painting I did a few weeks ago. Much to the sighs and declarations of "No" from the family, I've popped it up for sale on Etsy. I don't think any one in my family will be sad if this one doesn't sell.

Bleeding {Just One Paragraph 16/30}

Galia Alena mixed media artist
Astarra of the deer people
The other night I watched the film about Hemmingway and Gelhorn. I loved the movie and their story but what has echoed in my mind for the last few days is Hemmingway saying "writing is easy, you just have to sit down at your typewriter and bleed". And there's the crux, the knowledge that to sit down and write, truly write, would be a gnawing open of a wound that once unleashed, could not be tethered again. "The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." Gibran. There is a fear of what I could give voice to if I allowed myself. I used to skip shavasana in yoga, thinking I just didn't have time to lie down and do nothing. The real fear was that if this juggling working mother stopped for shavasana I just might never get back up again. The truth is the whole yoga workout is all about the shavasana, everything else is just the prelude, and all the rewards and payoffs are delivered in shavasana. It took me many years to learn this. And yet here I am trying to learn the same lesson again only in another domain. The thing at least about yoga is that it is only you and your breath. With writing, however, you are never alone, you bring many with you to the typewriter, many who may not want to be there.

Yesterday I managed to get an encaustic layer on to a few pieces and listed two original mixed media pieces in my Etsy
Galia Alena mixed media artist
The night has eyes

Half way reflections {Just One Paragraph 15/30}

“My goal is to write every day. I say it is my ideal. I am careful not to pass judgment or create anxiety if I do not do it. No one lives up to his ideal.”
― Natalie Goldberg

I'm at the half way mark of this Paragraph a day challenge, although technically I missed a few days in there somewhere. When I decided to join in I was still in the delirious stages of the flu and I think it was the fever rather than my rational processes which signed me up for this rather public writing challenge. It's been an interesting exercise which I nearly gave up on by about day 9. I was overwhelmed with the difficulty of trying to say something everyday that wouldn't be total drivel for you my gentle reader. The posts seemed insipid, skimming the truth, never coming near it with their one a day deadlines and the random words that spilled out boring any poor reader who gifted my words their time.The banality of daily life during and post flu, has not provided much fodder for inspiration worthy of sharing with anyone else but myself and I thought that this challenge might be best served out in the privacy of my much neglected and dusty writing journal rather than in such a public forum as the internet, even if at my digs. However, the public commitment to the challenge has kept me (mostly) honest with showing up and doing it, and it is the showing up and doing it which is the point rather than the quality of the posts and reflections (hence the lack of editing and so on). To this I can only say to you both sorry and thank you for bearing witness to this process. It reminds me of Natalie Goldberg saying that the secret of writing is to just "keep your hand moving", eventually the drivel will bore you enough that you will be forced to go deeper and come up with something true. There is merit in this one paragraph a day, even if not good writing or interesting subjects, muscles are being built in the hope that eventually I will land at a gold nugget, something true and unique, something honest and worthy. I'm hopeful.
There's no such thing as a writer's block. If you're having trouble writing, well, pick up the pen and write. No matter what, keep that hand moving. Writing is really a physical activity.
Natalie Goldberg

Ooopps, fell off the wagon and down the rabbit hole {Just One Paragraph 14/30}

Galia Alena Photography, Queenstown
View from the school run
Technically I should be on day 18 of this paragraph a day challenge, but it seems I've slipped down the rabbit hole of sacred journaling for a few days. I've been shooting my lesson for Angels In My Studio which I put on hold while I was sick, waiting until I felt well enough to give 110% (and then some) to it. As these things go, I spiraled down, absorbed by all the lessons that the angels wanted to impart on me for this page. The whole process grew bigger than I had any idea it would. Part of the process of sacred journaling is to release expectations and to stay open to what wants to come through, which I did, following the clues as one thread leads onto the next. When you start these pages you never know whether they are going to take you a couple of hours or a couple of weeks, nor how many messages and how deep these messages will go. This page that I was filming, grabbed hold of me, would not let go, running deep and spanning many days. I had planned to write a post on following the energy, instead I followed my own energy and my energy was in this page which drew me in, in fact I'm still working on it, still sitting with the lessons of it and still wondering what else it wants to be birthed. (If you are curious about Angels In My Studio you can find a link in the side bar).
Somehow in all this I did manage to restock my Etsy shop with more blessing bowls which have just come out of the fires. They sold out within days last time, so I am glad to finally have some more in the shop.

Get out of the way and follow the flow {Just One Paragraph 13/30}

Ripe for the picking
I've often thought that ideas were floating in the ether, ripening for the picking. When they are ripe they get picked, whether by you or someone else. Often I've had an idea and not acted on it only to find it manifest by other hands as if it was just waiting for someone to come along and bring it to fruition. These ideas, like birth, are imminent, they happen one way or another, with or without me. So then what is the role of the executor and why do ideas visit people and then don't get acted upon? Sometimes I think that their visiting is like a date to see if you're a match or not. Some ideas that I have are brilliant, their just not for me, there's no real chemistry, and certainly not enough to make it through the long haul that many creative endeavors require. They just don't belong to me, they're not mine. Others are mine, these are the creative sparks that propel me into action, that demand to make it past the drawing board, past the dream stage and into reality. They come fully loaded with energy, they come imminent and all I have to do is get out of the way and follow the flow. That's when I know they belong to me.

Postage Love {Just One Paragraph 12/30}

Living in a small town, in  a small country, with oceans between me and most of my friends, I've come to rely heavily on the internet, but also snail mail, good old fashioned Postage Love. I love me some postage love. Every now and then I am lucky enough to find a little package on my door step or in the letterbox, its a bit like Christmas. A recent package from the luminous Katie Kendricks, containing beautiful sari fabrics along with a fabric doll she had made, wrapped gorgeously and tied with beads, brought gentle tears of delight to my eyes and made me feel those oceans shrinking again momentarily. One of the best ways to get some Postage Love is to send some postage love so at the moment I am busily painting some postcards to send to my Easlen Inipi Sisters. The joy of painting multiple postcard art is that they serve as small little experiments, on each one I am trying something a bit different. In away they are very similar to the art journal where one has free license to experiment and try all sorts of new things, yet their small size makes them easy to curl up on the couch and draw/design on, perfect for a house fill with people still in recovery mode. When was the last time you sent some one a snail mail surprise?

Showing up {Just One Paragraph 11/30}

Today I worked on my 100 bad paintings, probably my 1000 bad paintings. I think it is a test set by the Creativity Gods "Let's see how much she really wants this, does she have the stamina to keep showing up, bad painting after bad painting." Every now and then they throw me a tease, a little tasty bite of what may come if I keep at it, in a way that makes me feel like I'm close, that it's just around the corner. Of course its not, there's still 879, 989, 233 bad paintings to go, and my resolve bottoms out. I'm flattened and disillusioned and I wonder what the &^+^*&^% I'm doing. Always, though, the hunger, the desire, the need wins over and I come back ready to paint more bad paintings ever hopeful of that glimpse of a good one, of dancing with the muses, of co-creation with source, of something bigger and more beautiful than the parts that make it up. And each time I show up ready and willing to make a bad painting I remind myself that I learn something with every mark, every brush stroke, and I invite the muses in, throw caution to  the wind and begin.

With such Wonder & Joy {Just One Paragraph 10/30}

The mornings are getting lighter each day, gently but ever noticeably. No longer is it pitch dark as I stumble out of my bed to wake the sleeping babies from their warm dreams. Its still cold, but now I can see my socks as I reach for them. Soon the sun will be so bright in the kitchen, its angle having shifted, that I have to draw the blinds in order to not be blinded as the sun streams over the mountain tops, already fully awake by the time it descends the mountains height. At the moment we have the cold of winter without the magic. The moon man says that we won't get another big dump until September, by which time spring will be waking sleepy flowers and the daffodils will be leading the way. The farms set their clocks to the moon man but I am ever hopeful that there will be a few more magical snow days when with such wonder and joy, my eyelashes can capture snowflakes.

Wise Effort {Just One Paragraph 9/30}

 Creativity requires the courage to let go
of certainties.

                                 Eric Fromm
Seducing the muses in to play is hardly ever very easy. It seems require a balancing act of showing up, doing the hard yards of being available with the blank canvas and the willingness to begin even when you have no idea where you're going, with switching off, the art of doing nothing, idleness, allowing dream space. All those creative ideas amount to nothing if you don't show up and make marks, write words, hit the notes. Many creatives will speak of the hard work, the routine and regular hours, the 100 bad paintings before they get to a good one. This all needs to be offset with the opening, creating space for dream work, for noticing new connections, for imagining new things, for allowing the subconscious to churn it all up and spit out something new. These seemingly contradictory practices are integral to each other. Together they form a certain "Wise Effort", actively seeking while simultaneously releasing and staying open. Keeping these two in balance with each other is at the center of my practice. Today I showed up but the muses failed to come and whisper to me and as I reflect on it I know that after weeks with a sick household and the ensuing cabin fever, what I need is to take myself out into the forest, to walk the solitude and certainty of the trees, to sit at the foot of a waterfall and to surrender to Wise Effort, to touch the ground.

Whose shoes are these anyway {Just One Paragraph 8/30}

Galia Alena Mixed Media Artist
Detail from today
Often times we have to weigh up what the outside world tells us should be important to us with what we actually know and choose to be important to us. We make choices with this in the sanctity of our own homes and lives, how we live, how we choose to hold our family and how we challenge what is expected of us. Today, like many days piling up around me, was another day when I had to consciously and wholeheartedly  choose how I will hold my family against the challenges of the external world. Sometimes as I raise my family that doesn't want to swim with the tide, I feel like I'm living in a glass house, fragile and exposed. And yet I strive to make my home a cocoon, a safe place to wrap the family around itself and remember what's important. I remember that not only have those outside not walked a mile, let alone a life time, in my shoes but they also do not get to walk the rest of this journey in my shoes either. My shoes only have to fit me, glass house or not, I will stray off my path for shiny butterflies only not for the loud voices of external critics.

Arm Chair Traveling {Just One Paragraph 7/30}

Galia Alena Photography Easlen Retreat
Today the house was too small to contain me; small and crowded with laundry and dirty dishes, small with having been pent up in it for too long with a sick household, small with the winter chill keeping the doors and windows mostly shut. My body wanted me to stay put and rest, my soul desperately wanting out into the world, out of this house, even if just for a walk in the winter sun or better still, a trek up the mountains. Not much to ask right? Sadly, my body insisted on having its own way with violent fits of coughing every time I moved, the world will have to wait. Luckily some of the world came to me yesterday photos from my recent trip arrived in the mail and today I got to spend some time revisiting adventures and friends as I cut up and glued them into my travel journal. Instantly I was swept back onto Monica's balcony with the sun setting golden over the fields streaming through the gum trees, or I was strolling the luscious garden's at Easlen observing the Californian poppies with their little beanies, or I was contemplating the cloud trees (Cypress trees) and marine lair (layer) of  the Californian Coast. So many adventures jammed into one month and a journal who generously returns me there any time I lay my hands on her. Arm chair traveling: suddenly the house wasn't so small and I am given space to dream up the next adventure.

Just rambling {Just One Paragraph 6/30}

Galia Alena WIP
The children are both back at school on the same day, it feels like a miracle, albeit a small miracle, I'll take whatever miracles I can get. As for me, my legs still feel like they belong to someone else, my chest is still gripped and occasionally someone tightens the vice around my skull. Sadly rest is something I'm not accustomed to and there's a slight battle of martyrdom going on here as we both try to step up for the other. I am enjoying the quiet in the house for the few hours that it is gifted to me as I potter around trying to take care of chores, the groundhog day of washing and vacuuming, muffins to bake, vegetables to roast, as well as designs for bowls, and slight laying down of paint and sketching. The painting above is one of these, a WIP begun yesterday in a state of half recline and half determination. Meanwhile a large canvas in the corner of my eye taunts me to come back to it. Started on a decidedly spring day in the middle of winter, it torments me now from afar as  I have neither the energy nor inspiration to go back to it right now and I am desperately looking forward to a day when my body will feel strong enough to go for a walk. Perhaps that winter sun will even accompany me.

A Choice in Every Breath {Just One Paragraph 5/30}

Galia Alena Prayer Flag, Textile Art
WIP- Medicine Wheel Prayer Flag
 Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help... an instrument of grace.
                                                                     May Sarton
The last two weeks, our mid year break, have been marked by cabin fever and a bug that gripped my daughter on the last day of school and swept through the house knocking us all flat on our backs. Even now my chest is held hostage by the grip of this monster cough and my head is weary of the violence that has ensued. The weeks have been spent curling up in front of the fireplace watching series after series of Merlin with the children, my head and energy levels way too low to stoke the creative fires. All this has made me grateful for the slow pace of my new "Shiny Butterfly", hand stitching fabric collages entirely inspired by the wonderful work of Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth. I discovered her work a few months ago when I was working on Of the Heart (a book project combining plaster, paper and cloth), and disappeared down the rabbit hole of textile art. At the moment I am working on some prayer flags. One thing that I'm loving about this is the slow pace of stitching layer upon layer allowing much contemplation as the textures and meanings in the work build.  Such a different pace from laying down paint which can be down with wild abandon, stitching requires intention, every stitch a breath. Of course paint strokes can be laid down in the same way but it is a choice, not a characteristic of the medium. Here is the beauty of where mediums collide and inform each other and I muse over the rhythm of work and life- a stitch/stroke in every breath, a choice in every breath.

Shiny Butterflies {Just One Paragraph 4/30}

Galia Alena Photography butterfly at Easlen
I have Dilettante in my archetype set, although (I also have Rebel ;) ) I prefer to call it the Renaissance Woman archetype. What this means is that as a mixed media artist no medium is off limits, oh what joy. Sometimes this makes me feel like a "Jack of All Trades Master of None" (which I know is not true as I've mastered several) skipping from one shiny new medium to the next. But oh what joy. As an artist, the use of different mediums weaves a certain trail into each other as "rules" and discoveries of one medium are translated into a new medium in ways unimagined. I had a tarot reading done when I was teaching at SoulFire Retreats, and she said (along with much else that still rings in my mind) that I was easily distracted off my path by the fluttering of a passing butterfly, I'd be off chasing its beauty, always distracted from my path yet always coming back to it. What if those distractions were the path? What if those distractions fed and strengthened the path? I read a quote in passing the other day that went something like this "If you can see the path ahead clearly then you're on someone else's path". The journey wouldn't be quite the adventure if we knew where we were going right? My path is definitely a meandering, winding path with many diversions for shiny butterflies.

Tomorrow I will share one of those new shiny butterflies with you.

Dream Casting {Just One Paragraph 3/30}

Bird Spirits, Galia Alena, mixed media art acryllic pastels collage wax encaustic
We can redream this world and make the dream come real. Human beings are gods hidden from themselves. ”
Ben Okri, The Famished Road 
This morning was another lazy start to the day. The golden light streams in over the mountain tops bathing the kitchen in it's glow made ever more dramatic by the dark clouds engulfing the mountains from every other direction. The last official day of the school holidays, the last day I get to crawl back into bed with my coffee and catch my fleeting dreams before they disappear. Last night I dreamed I picked a white apple from a tree that grew outside my childhood home and this white apple lingers in my imagination. Whilst most wake to write their dreams down, I have been reaching for my sketch pad to quickly sketch the dream creatures who visit me before they fly away into forgotteness leaving my memory with only a shadow. I'm collecting quite a few characters which I couldn't have imagined and yet here they are formed in my dream state, (the painting above comes directly from a dream I had after I read the first chapter of Ben Okri's The Famished Road). This quite time of reflection, dreams and magic feels like a gifted spell, one I dare not move too fast least the spell be broken and the reality of the day floods in casting the dreams into the shadows until night falls again.
Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide.
                                                      Ben Okri

{Just One Paragraph 2/30}- Outing myself

I've been skirting around picking up my journal and writing again, wondering where all the words are. Oh and there are so so many words, they flood out of me unstoppable and completely inspired when I am in the shower, when I am driving. And then they slip away, taunting as they go as if they say "well you didn't show up, you didn't sit with your pen and paper and invite us in." Perhaps they are right. Perhaps I have ignored them too long. And they niggle at me, I know they are a piece of the puzzle I'm trying to put together, a huge piece, yet they are that lost piece, the one that rolled under the couch and bred with the dust bunnies, mutating so much that I barely recognise it. Today I am remembering this quote from Twin Peaks, Dale Cooper talking about his Buddhist take on investigative inquiry: "When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object in inquiry we must always pay strict attention." Well, yesterday I picked up Christina Rosalie's book again to read and ended up quoting her on my facebook page, then I found myself reading a post by my birthday sister Nika who has joined Christina on a paragraph a day for 30 days. "To pay attention, this is how we pray" is my mantra at the moment, and I am paying attention to these separate but connected threads which are leading me to believe I am meant to join this challenge. Yesterday I wrote a paragraph, today another, so indulge me for a month while I ramble for a bit, I promise to sweeten it with an image or two, and perhaps an invitation or a recipe.
Galia Alena travel journal

Not much begins at the beginning. {30 days 30 posts 1/30}

This morning I indulged in the guilty pleasure of crawling back into bed with my coffee. It's school holidays and the children have been sick the whole time, and while I haven't had to do the grueling school run, my mornings have been marked by getting up to see who was sick in the night and to get the fire blazing so they will be warm. This morning though, they are on the mend and the winter sun is heating our loungeroom.

Galia Alena mixed media artist art journal

I'm always amazed how much creativity flies when I allow myself this "indulgence". I had my sketch book handy and before I knew it I was busily writing down notes for my next e-course, one I plan on starting to video next week when the children are back at school. Ideas I've been scrambling for for weeks are gently gifted to me in the space created when I stop "doing". Why is this such a hard lesson to learn? To stop calling "doing nothing" indulgent, to allow myself to loiter, to just be, to open? That work ethic dies hard, as does the sense of self that is tied to doing rather than being. And again and again I am back at this lesson...
Galia Alena mixed media artist art journal
"The night has eyes to recognise its own"- Whyte
Meanwhile, there are muffins baking in the oven, pumpkins roasting and the winter sun is beaconing me into the garden where the lavender awaits some care. This journal ends back at the beginning as so often is the case, not much begins at the beginning.
Just One Paragraph