Notes from the Garden

Thursday- There are moments of grace to be had walking out through the garden during breaks in the rain that has fallen for over a week now. Baby daffodils are emerging against the soft pink of the Camellias and Azaleas that seem to take turns flowering. Almost every time I step into the garden I delight in some new discovery as we get to know this new garden full of mysteries. Today's was the Sakura by the front gate.
Even taking out the compost has become a labour of love, often followed by shouts of "come see, it's all pink", "look what's popped up" or "is it a weed" "I don't know, leave it, it's pretty" or "what do you think that is going to be" and "look what I found" or "smell this", "is that kaffir lime" and so on.
When my mother last visited she swooned to find her mother's namesake, Daphne, growing all through the garden and the last of its heady scent still permeates.

Friday- Today I found the Japanese Pearl flowering down a path and  brought some in to liven the house which is still in the midst of sick babies. It looks so delightful on the new eggshell blue table, in fact everything looks beautiful against that blue.
I look forward to the openness of the weekend mornings when the babies will sleep in and there will be just me and my thoughts in the quiet of the morning light and the soft falling rain.
I've been enjoying reading May Sarton's Journal of a Solitude, and it comforts me to know that she was so prolific that when I reach the end I can pick up another memoir. And yet I am never in any hurry to finish it, I've been reading it for a few years now, picking it up every now and again, reading a few entries, like catching up with an old friend, and then each of us going about our own lives until we meet again. It never even matters if I am reading passages read before.
Saturday- There's this urgent sense that the old needs to make way for the new as Spring is just around the corner and a week of rain wakes dormant seeds. I walk around with secateurs and hack at plants and pull away dead leaves. Today I was thrilled to find a Magnolia tree in the far corner next to the baby Magnolia that bloomed in winter, its buds almost ready to burst forth its magnificence. I planted out the  basil which hopefully will be pleased to stretch its legs beyond the restraints of the greenhouse tub it came in. It looks happy gently swaying in the breeze and momentary sunlight before the rain start again, almost grateful.

The garden looks wild and unkempt next to manicured and well kept gardens on either side of me. I like it wild, my attempts are just to nurture and nourish it and watch it, to let it flourish and be continually mystified by the constant new discoveries and growth. I hope I do more good than harm, of course I have no idea. And all the while I am reminded how much I love our little corner of the world here ♥ ♥ ♥

Shape Shifters and a Blog Hop

Shape shifters Galia Alena painting
Shape Shifters

 Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. ~Rumi
I was asked by an artist friend to join her in a blog hop, so here goes. First some questions about my work and process and then I will introduce you to a few friends on this blog hop whose work you should check out :)

What am I working on?
Creativity is not a replica of life but rather a tool for insight. Carnwaith
At the moment most of my creating time is going into a series of mixed media paintings, some  of which you can see in this post (and there are more in previous posts). The work is coming faster than I can keep up and I have to steal as much time as possible to get into the studio and lay the paint down as the paintings demand. Other projects which I thought I would be working on have all be shoved aside or abandoned for now as my energy is demanding to be given over to these pieces.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.”
― Miguel Ruiz
I’m not sure what “genre” per se we would be speaking of here but in general after struggling with the postmodern conundrum of “its all been said and done before” I’ve come to realise that that doesn’t really matter. I have to say and produce what I have to say and produce, I have to repeat it for myself, something within demands I do. I’m constantly struggling with the grasp of the language i.e. my skills and techniques are still learning and the results never quite land where I want them to but the process itself is paramount and each attempt gets closer to articulating what I’m trying to convey. The work is an intersection of all my experiences and perceptions of them at a certain space in time, that is how I process my unique experiences through my own eyes and my experiences, all the little things and the way that I perceive them are at once universal and yet unique to me, unique and ever so precious. That we each have a unique voice, and that if we allow them all to sing truly, then we have something beautiful.

Why do I create what I do?

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create -Ben Okri

The simple answer is because I have to. When I try to create something different, or nothing, it doesn’t work for me. If I set out wanting to do a different style, a more intentional piece or try other colours I like, or make work along the lines of others' work I am drawn to, then I get stuck, it feels wrong, it’s not me, it’s not “authentic”. I can practice other styles and techniques to train my eyes and hands, to hone my craft but then I have to produce the particular work that I do and often that just means getting out of the way and knowing that it is not up to me to judge the work.

How does my writing process work?

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”  Vincent van Gogh
This quote is exactly what my process feels like at the moment- the images that I’m painting are coming to me in dreams and visions, I get the images down quickly and then begin to work with them, painting the layers, listening and watching what else wants to comes through. The paintings change from the first vision as new things show up in the process and dreamtime works with them by night. For me they are full of meaning and symbolism, some of which is surprising and yet obvious. For example, Butterfly Song had first been visualised with a different sort of butterfly, more like a flower unfurling from the throat and I knew the image would have a lot of blue in it for the throat chakra. When I started painting it, orange also wanted to be part of the image, orange which is representative of the sacral chakra, where our creative urges stir. Once I thought about it, it made perfect sense that liberating the throat chakra, from where we speak our sacred truths, that our sacral chakra would also be liberated. The butterfly itself also has strong feminine imagery in it with the valva but you can also see very clearly the hands in the peace sign, Namaste…
So I guess you could say that this group of work is an exploration of dreamtime.

Now let me introduce a few friends:
Laly Mille is a French artist who lives near Tours, in the Loire Valley of France. Her soulful paintings and poetic assemblage pieces invite you to listen to your dreams. Laly is also currently working at a nursing home where she facilitates creativity and art workshops for the elderly. You can find her on Facebook or visit her blog at www.lalymille.com. Her beautiful artwork is featured in the July/August edition of Somerset Studio, the popular artist’s magazine.

My work as a fiber artist working with fabric and fiber to create abstract 3-dimensional forms was my focus for many years. I started painting full time in 2009 focusing on portrait/figure work painting in acrylics, watercolors and mixed media. Fractured Angels is the continuous thread throughout my work. My art parallels my spiritual journey and I identify with the flawed, cracked and fractured human yearning for peace and fulfillment.
The older I get the stronger the pull to explore and express this theme in my work. Along the way I discovered I loved teaching. I find the creative process so incredibly interesting. My energy lies in that process and to share that with others has been the most fulfilling role of my life. The spiritual nature of the creative process is something that I think about a lot. The idea of constant practicing of my craft along with allowing myself to let go in moments of creating is the key to authentic art. 

Becky Cavender is a writer, relationship coach, artist, and single mom living in the Pacific Northwest. Becky has several articles published on Huffington Post and she has lived in five countries on four continents -- including Myanmar, where she published a guidebook for expats moving there. When she’s not writing poetry, traveling, interviewing inspiring creative types, or working on her novel, you can find her at any of the best local coffee joints sucking up her caffeine.
You can read more of her work and learn about her coaching services on her website:

Veronica Funk was raised in Northern Manitoba, studied art & design in Alberta, apprenticed with potters, stone sculptors and painters and spent a year painting on a farm in Saskatchewan. She is inspired by the changing colours of the Rocky Mountains and prairies which surround her foothills home.  She has been painting professionally since 1999 and is currently continuing her education towards completion of her Bachelor of Fine Arts designation.  Despite forays into mixed media, altered books and pottery, she has always returned to the medium that got her career started: painting. Over the years she has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles and her work and writing have been published in a number of art books and magazines.  Her goal is to create a visual story.  She combines symbols, imagery and vibrant color through the use of opaque and transparent acrylic glazes, stamping, utilizing her hands as tools and drawing with her brush. Her images are an endeavor to capture the essence of Canada. http://www.veronicafunk.com/

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

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

Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep- Pushing against my painting edge

Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep, Galia Alena
Flower Jewels, Ocean Deep, Galia Alena
“I am still learning” Michelangelo
If a painting should stretch the painter, help them grow them in their artistic expressions, then this painting was a success. I just pulled it out from its hiding place tucked away behind a stack of canvases where I shoved it several months ago in frustration of not knowing how to finish it or what I think/feel about it. Forgotten, I moved onto other things like water colours, pottery and a lot of art journalling but decided to bring it back out into the light this week.
For quiet sometime I had struggled with this painting- a sense of freedom and joy and exploration danced across the canvas while my mind (you know the critical one) struggled with how to calm it down, tie it altogether, find some places for the eye to rest. I pushed against my painting edge.
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to find it” Michelangelo
Sometimes my painting feel like the opposite of the Michelangelo story of how he chipped away at the marble block until he found the sculptures within. For me it feels like I add and add, layer upon layers of paint, obscuring hidden symbols and secret images, until eventually and hopefully a painting emerges. Its like I know its in there somewhere but I’m not sure where or how to coax it out. This is how I push against my painting edge- always looking for the magic, dancing between freedom, joy and intuitive abandon and that always critical, processing eye. What I learned from this piece is that sometime this is always going to be a fiery relationship and sometimes we just have to surrender to that dance rather than trying to resolve it.
Even now when I look at this piece, with all judgements aside, there is still this one little thing that niggles at me that I know is not finished, that I will always notice when I gaze on this painting- a reminder to just let it go... 
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Michelangelo

Balance- the Holy Grail of the 21st Century

The Elusivity of Balance
Balance- the Holy Grail of the 21st Century
    My idea of balance, the balance that I seek is calm, tranquil, level and serene, an ideal. I never find this calm and tranquil balance for very long and wonder if it is like the holy grail, a legend, a myth and all this time I have been on a wild goose chase searching for something I shall never find. When I do find it will I even know what it looks like and is it something I can hang on to. Is balance a verb or a noun? I think for too long we have sought the noun when in fact it is the verb we need.

“To keep your balance you must keep moving” Einstein
    I feel more that I disappear into the depths of one thing or another and are not able  to find this “balance”, this harmonious and mythical place where things work together. My life is more like a pendulum that swings from one direction to another and then back again. Giddy I look around to steady myself as I swing another direction. Somethings get neglected while I swing in another direction and then back again to be reconnected.
    I wonder, is not the pendulum of perpetual motion not a form of balance? Could I not claim my life, myself is balanced as long as I’m swinging? Perhaps it is better to continue swinging, searching for that center balance and in the process be balanced, than to find stillness, to stop off balance? So I take console in the fact that perhaps my life is more balanced than I think it is.
    Maybe what’s missing is a clear goal, a point to center my gaze on like dancers do when they spin. Perhaps then I would find my calm in all this perpetual motion, this oscillation.
    Finding ones goal, purpose, ones point on the horizon, that’s the tricky question and often a moving target.
    What is this balance, this ever so elusive balance that we seek? A goal made more weighty in modern times when we are supposed to be able to have it “all”. The weight of “all” is heavy, no wonder it is tipping the scale off balance, tilting it towards ever more busyness, in our endless task of acquiring, achieving, obtaining, maintaining. All a lot of busy doing and not a lot of being. We do motherhood: driving, carpooling, organising, rallying, working- when do we get to just be a mother.
    When I’m out of balance, not just a little bit, but a lot out of balance, I feel myself reverberate, like a tuning stick struck. I vibrate either side of myself trying to catch up with or slow down to myself. I can see myself just out of focus, refracted all around me like some dark halo. I step and I hear the echo of my step as I try to catch up with myself. Almost like one foot in this world and one foot in some parallel world, just out of sync and only vaguely visible through a foggy window.
    I try to calm myself with yoga or chi gong, be in the moment, the current moment and my invisible arms reach out and grab hold of bits of me, pulling them back into my center. Making me feel more solidly grounded in this world and less like a shadow that may disappear as the sun shifts the light, casting me away. Then I return to the demands of my day and a screaming child evaporates this state of calmness. C’est la vie- it begins again.
    Balance is not only three dimensional, it is four dimensional in its complexities. Balance of the personal external things, work, family, motherhood, diet, health, leisure etc with the more complex inner things, calm, centered, desires, flowing energies, creative spirit, joy, gratitude and then out to balance the larger external, the planet, humanity, the environment, karma. Always so many balls in the air.
    Balance isn’t something you can tick of your to do list, synchronise with you i-phone. Balance requires deep introspection- everyone needs to find their own point of balance. The point where    you find stillness in the perpetual movement. You can not seek someone else’s definition of balance and hope to meet your own. Balance can be held for a moment- but what about when you string all those moments together? Practice, choices, priorities. Balance requires trial and error and surrender, it is both a passive and an active practice. And it is a practice, a journey, something you do not find but something that you choose and do. At the very least, balance in a dialogue you have with yourself.
“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”  Frank Herbert

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.

Faery Grotto

I’m sitting at the bottom of my street in the “faery grotto”. All I can hear is the trickle of the stream and the pitter pattering of the rain as it blurs these words across the page and dances off the tips of the ferns. It is so incredibly beautiful down here  where the light barely descends into this ancient woodland, especially today under the cloak of clouds. It’s the first time I’ve been out in a week, other than the two block drive to the school. I’ve had a sick child home all week and as tricky as that can be I am so grateful that I can be here when she’s sick.
I’m so lucky to have this treasure of bush, which feels magical and mysterious like a woodland of spirits, so close to home and wonder how it is that I let life stop me from coming down here more often under the illusion (be it ever so real) of “busy”.
So what I have been craving for myself is Silence, a rare thing for a mother to find. I steal away to give myself some in little snippets here and there and am amazed with how much can be heard when we are just silent.

A Word on "Selfishness"

“When we don’t take the time for ourselves, to feed our spirit, our creativity, our own well, then we become selfish in spirit. Better we are selfish in time than in spirit.”
When we deny ourselves the time we need for ourselves, when we don’t feed our spirits with the gift of time and space, if that is what we yearn, then our body responds by becoming tight and holding on. If there is not enough for ourselves, then in the scheme of things, there is simply not enough. We hold back, we conserve, our energy diminishes and our generosity with it.
When we have time for self nurturing and self care, however we define that for ourselves, then we come from a place of abundance, there is plenty for everyone and we can give freely as there is plenty to give.
So to all the people, especially mothers, who are so busy taking care of everyone else and feel they are being selfish when they take time for themselves. Hear this, you are being selfish not to. When we have this idea of selfless giving, always putting others first and ourselves second, or even sometimes nowhere, we leave ourselves open to guilt. An ideal is hard to maintain and guilt is inevitable. Guilt just spins us into a spiral of ever increasing tightness of our generosity . To be able to give fully we need to be blossoming, to burst forth, and this requires nurturing.
Listen quietly to yourself and hear what it is you crave. Honour your authenticity by acting on it, giving it to yourself and then see how much more you’ll have to give. And lets just delete the word “selfish” from our vocabulary- its counterproductive, misleading and toxic.
“When I take that time and fuel up, I am just juicy and generous, and when I get run down, I can feel something in my system is greedy and not being fed, and then I start to label it as “I am being a selfish...,”

Love letter from the sun

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
~Albert Camus

I have a theory about autumn, about those glorious golden leaves, red leaves, burnished leaves exploding with light. At this time of the year the sun is low and in the afternoon, when its light is golden magic, kissing and caressing everything with its glory, its angle is so oblique that it gets trapped in the leaves. It is this trapped light that turns the leaves yellow, red, orange, sienna. This beautiful light trapped and burning bright. It is too much beauty for the fragile leaves to endure and they must fall to the ground like Icarus having got to close to the sun, too close to pure beauty...
Galia Alena Photography

Screaming Muses

I am in the last stretch of my two month game of "finishing" things, and I am realising that I am not very good at finishing things, and am even worse at stopping myself from starting new things. Firstly, I have signed up to play with Trude Callan at the Creative Mother's Group working on Shona Cole's The Artistic Mother: A Practical Guide to Fitting Creativity into Your Busy Life, though I am still waiting for Mr Amazon to bring me my copy- it should be lots of fun. Also, my good friend over at the Creative Identity is running a short story competition where all entries will receive a critique and a few will be published in an anthology of the best entries. So I am thinking about short stories I could enter. Also I am participating in an art exchange chain mail which will be such fun. I am sending something to a woman in Iran and should be receiving all sorts of surprises on my doorstep. I love surprises on my doorstep, its like christmas (if you're interested in participating in this exchange, leave a comment and I'll contact you with the details). So that's three new projects, among others personal projects and daily inspirations that like to come and distract me. I can't help starting things when the inspiration visits. Maybe I'm just not good at imposed rules which is funny as I work well with deadlines. Perhaps what I'll do is just concentrate on finishing things as I go  so I can at least see some completion. I guess if you're stuck for ideas, try to concentrate on finishing things- it makes the muses scream loud.

Current "Game"- Finishing

Bowing Heads
I've also been listening to Jen Lee's podcasts from the Portfolio Project and she's got me thinking about what "game" I'm playing at the moment. I've decided that the game I need to play is "Finishing", so for the rest of Feb and then March I will focus on finishing some things, both projects, pieces and just general life stuff. I'm hoping that this will remove some of the balls I'm juggling from the air and make space for some new projects and inspirations. It will also have the added benifit of seeing some completed works which will be able to leave the nest ready to fly out into the world.
It's not just the time it takes to finish things that is the issue, it is also the weight of it on your conscience, the space in your creative arena that incomplete things occupy. Sometimes things sit incomplete due to some blockage, perhaps I don't know what to do next or where to take something, sometimes I am just waiting for a solution to come to me. You have to work out whether you need to push past this or just wait for the muses to guide you. Both are valid processes. Not all things will get finished, but certainly plenty could be. I've only just brought down the Christmas tree (we were away for Jan, if that's any excuse) and still haven't unpacked, so the temptation to flit between new projects and not actually finish any is always strong (easily distracted by shiny objects). So here's to heads down and finishing a few things, making way for a new direction in April.

2010's Word

I’ve been drawing a blank on what to put as my word for the year, and the year keeps trucking along oblivious to the fact that I haven’t picked a word yet. Then, while belatedly doing my Best of 2009 Challenge from Gwen Bell, it dawned on me how obvious it was. Last year there was a quote that kept popping up all over the place after I had adopted it as a kind of mantra and worked it into art pieces and so on:

    And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

    It occurred to me that “BLOSSOM” was the obvious choice for the word. Yet despite how obvious the word seems, I’m wondering why I am so resistant to it.

    Firstly, I guess when you pick a word that is going to be good for your growth and development, it is going to be something that pushes you, challenges you a bit beyond your comfort zone. What would be the point of having a word that didn’t grow you. So despite the fact that I know that “Blossom” is a wonderful thing for a woman to do, especially an artist, it still feels seeped in that “risk”, easier to hold back and hide than to open and expose.

    Secondly, as a creative type, I often ponder on the creative process, one which I often find quite cyclic. At the moment I am in a sponging phase, soaking in inspiration, trying new things, and mulching it all over in my subconscious. It’s a safe place to stay but at some point those little seeds of inspiration deserve to be allowed to “blossom”.

    I guess I also felt that if the word for the year is “Blossom” then that means that after the year is up I will be done with it, when in fact what it should means is that at the end of the year I will be practiced at “blossoming” and better able to do it in the future, that this year wont be the definitive blossoming but just the beginning…

    And so it shall be BLOSSOM:- Let the creative self blossom.
Thank you Ms Nin.

If you haven't done your word for the year, here is a link which may help: Kane

Best of 2009 Challenge

So in Australia we are normally a  day ahead, but I guess in this one we are a month behind. While the rest of the web community is busy with new projects and so on, for me it is holiday time with the kids on school holidays, so not a lot gets down. Here is my rather belated Best of 2009 Challenge started by Gwen Bell. Some of them were instantly obvious and others required some thought and deliberation. It's been such an interesting and new year that in some cases it was impossible to narrow it down to a best. It is so late that Mr MckLinky is closed. Perhaps I should start on my 2010 list now.

Best Trip: This one is such a tough call as 2009 heralded the beginning of much travel but of course it was January in Vancouver which put on a stunning show of snow with its 40 year record of snow fall. We were so lucky.

 Best Restaurant Moment: Five Islands Restaurant, Koh Samui, Thailand, for my birthday. A magical day and night that started with a long boat trip, snorkeling, and ended with a banquet and a magical light show from the setting sun.

Best Book: I will not die an unlived life” by Dawna Markova, this one surprised me. I have read many books along these lines over the years but this one really touched on some truths at a time when I needed to find them. Will be read and re-read, quoted and turned to as needed.
May we all find the courage to offer ourselves fully to what has heart and meaning for us... May we all find the soil in which the seeds of our dreams can germinate...                     Dawna Markova

Best Night Out: The Stanley Park Train through the snow and Christmas magical display. This night brought all the magic of a childhood Christmas to my children as the snow flakes fell on my eyelashes.

Best Workshop or Conference: Unravelling with Susannah Conway. Susannah is a joy to unravel with, as are all the friends that I meet along the way.

Best Blog find of the year: Well this would just have to be blogs in general. Until 2009 I didn’t have time at all for finding and exploring blogs so a whole new world has opened up to me, filled with kindred spirits, new friends from all around the globe and much joy and inspiration. Thank you.

Best Moment of Peace: Early in the morning while the rest of the house sleeps and I can potter around quietly in my own thoughts and dreams. Bliss.

Best Challenge: Downsizing the studio was definitely the hardest thing I have had to do for along time.

 Best Album: Bliss Baby If you work with babies all day like I do (or if you have a newborn baby) you will  understand why. Anything to help settle a baby.

 Best Place: Snow, under the snow: British Columbia.

 Best New Food: Caper’s Pumpkin Pie- although technically I discovered it at the end of 2008, I searched for all of January for more of it and have been obsessing over it ever since mmmm….. Should come with a warning- "Is addictive and requires copious amounts of cream."

 Best Change made to the place where I live. The best and worse change made to home was to bring the studio back home. Still have such mixed feelings about it.

 Best Rush: Discovering traveling without children again.

 Best Tea- I don’t know about tea, I’m a coffee girl. But I do like the idea of tea so I’m always buying tea cups. Here’s the favorite of 2009

 Best Word or Phase: Without a doubt it was a quote which I took on early in the year and kept reappearing throughout the year all over the place, in case I hadn't paid attention the first time:
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  Anais Nin

 Best Shop: Etsy. Like blogging this is a whole new experience. My aim with my own Etsy shop is to somehow sell enough to cover the things on Etsy that I buy, so far I'm losing. Love having beautiful handmade things and the bonus of finding surprises on the doorstep- Christmas all year round.

 Best Car Ride: and the scariest. Sea to Sky highway in British Columbia.

 Best New Person: So many new people, all wonderful, have come into my life this year. I guess the best one is the old/new me that has returned allowing room for all these other wonderful people.

 Best Project: Back to me. This year has seen the start of many new projects, but all of them are part of the larger project of reconnecting with my own artistic voice, one that has been stifled over the years or motherhood and mortgages. So glad to see it coming back. So curious to see where it might go.

 Best Web Tool: Flickr. You’d think as a photographer I would have discovered this sooner but I was always too busy. Now I am enjoying connecting with other shooters around the world and being inspired by so many wonderful images and artists. It's a full time job exploring Flickr.

 Best Learning Experience: The process of downsizing the studio and all the space that opened up as a result.

 Best Gift: Our families Christmas gift to each other- a month in Koh Samui together.

 Best Insight or aha Moment: It was a year of insights, mostly about finding an authentic me and following my bliss and energy and a lot of it was fueled by this quote which was quite an aha moment (& a proverbial kick up the butt- thank you). I know I am always going to be my own worst critic and never know if what I am producing is any good, but still I must keep doing the work and (armed with the Nin quote) be brave enough to put it out there.
My love of music, words & creative expression... is the morning songbird at my window saying "Wake up & get moving. The world won't wait for you to decide you are brilliant. Get up and work anyway."  Stephaine Lee

 Best Social Web Moment: Secret Santa with my unravellers.

 Best Stationery: Journals, for writing, painting, playing, pasting, discovering.

 Best Laugh: Teary teary laugh with Haneka in my art class- thanks girlfriend.

 Best Resolution: 300dpi of course, perfect for printing.

Island Time

galia alena photography
   Scenes from the Morning Walk
I am unable to relax into island time, perhaps the thing I seek most in coming here again. I feel the weight of the month slipping away from the outset, like childhood slipping through your fingers, unstoppable.
    I try to race it by rising early and wasting not a second- up before anyone I plant my towel on a chair and set off down the beach for a leisurely stroll and then back to sit in quiet solitude for a few hours before the children wake. The heat of the day hits and I dare not retreat inside for fear of losing some precious seconds. By the end I am exhausted from fighting time too diligently.
    The next day I decide to sleep in and start the day slowly and leisurely which fits in with Lulu being sick and needing a gentle day. The day vanishes and I wonder where to. At 4.30, the sun is low and I manage a redeeming hour in the pool which brings the day alive again.
    Island time, or as Jay says “What time is it? It’s who cares time,” alludes me this time with the children here. Island time for me is in the early waking hours, as at home, when I am my own island, isolated from the children’s sleeping bodies and the demands of yet another day. In solitude an island, until the tide goes out  and the children awake and can walk across to me. Then who cares time vanishes into layers of sunblocking, meals, clothes and just entertaining and organising them.
    But this to will vanish, and unlike the tides it will not return. Once they have moved on they will never return to childhood, only visit from the distance of their independence.
    If I could pause the morning hour would I? Somedays I would but more vehemently I’d like to pause their childhood, divide it up and scatter it through out my life. Perhaps today I would visit again those precious newborn months, and then maybe put it on hold and have the afternoon off from motherhood. If that life were not so linear, linear and cyclic at the same time. All there is is to be in it at any given point, tarring not forward nor back. Even the tides that come and go daily transform over the years, sculpting our landscape as our days sculpt our lives.

Muted Palette

    Today on the beach it’s grey and rainy. I love the beach in winter when all people vanish and all the soft greys and blues mingle with the delicate sandy colours. A rainy winter day is the perfect day for the beach. Today is like that here only its warm. Now that the rain has stopped briefly and I’ve swam in the downpour, I sit on my chair with the beach to myself, me and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Behind me Jay and the children play in the pool, before me the ocean and the sky bleed into each other while the waves rise gently along the shore- a flurry of white that separates the land from the sea like a bridge that invites and then retreats.
    Dark dramatic clouds March towards me and I can see rain in several directions on the horizon. My art supplies, books and pens are all still packed in the basket ready for a quick escape. Drips hit my feet- an advanced warning as my pen flies to finish this line. I run…
    The rain drums down deafeningly loud while I enjoy the peace and quiet of losing the other guests to their suites, shops and restaurants. This is the beach I know, the deserted beach, the beach to ourselves, either in rain or in sunshine. This is the beach that I love, the beach that sets my soul free and my imagination wild, wild like the wild exhilarating weather, carried away on the waves and the tides.
    I am soaked, the rain is torrential, baby is wet, puddles form everywhere, the children’s squeals and shouts of delight or frustration are drowned out. There is peace in all this noise, the air is crisp, though it will be humid later. I enjoy the freshness of now as the storm stirs deep within.