Take me back... Paris

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris Seine
 Today I vanished down the rabbit hole of going through my photos from Paris. I was meant to be looking for photos for a little sumthin sumthin I'm working on (shhhhh... no spoilers but if you would like to know when I announce please sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar). Photos filled with memories can be such a magical distraction.

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris
My trip to Paris wasn't about taking photos. Since my arm had just come out of a cast I only took Baby Canon with me and left heavy cameras and lenses at home. Mostly we went to galleries and food markets with lots of walking. With a group of 5 of us there was not much stopping to take photos and most of these shots were taken on the fly as I trotted to keep up.

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris graffitti

Even the graffiti is interesting in Paris

Galia Alena Travel Photography Parisi
I'm sure these will not be the last images I share from Paris... You can find more photos and a sneak into my Paris Journal here & here and to see more of my travel photography visit my website here

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris Seine
A nod to Atget whose presence I felt on most streets
Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris Notre Dame

Galia Alena Travel Photography Parisi Dali

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris
Parisian swans...

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris
Photo shoot locations everywhere...

Galia Alena Travel Photography Paris cat
A Cat on a window sill in our courtyard. I really hope they remembered he was out there...

In other news, this week I was featured over at a Global Walk, you can read the interview here and while you're there check out some of the other interviews in the series including Pixie Lighthorse, Flora Bowley and many other magic makers.
And  A World of Artist's Journal's has finally been released, I'm honoured to be included and can't wait for my copy to wing its way across mama ocean.

Paris- Travel Journaling Pt 2

Galia Alena  Parisian travel journal
Walking in the Silage of Stories Past
Whispering through the alleyways
Written in the stones carved soft with moss,
Across oceans, through centuries,
The echoes of lives
and the layering of stories.
I can almost hear them.
Just beyond a corner
a hint of movement
a scent familiar and strange;
Stories collapsed in time
I feel them brush up against me,
Unhinged shadows.

Sacre Coeur Paris, Galia Alena travel photography
Months later and I'm still sorting through the thoughts of the trip. I didn't take many photographs on this time, partly because I broke my arm just weeks before the trip and the cast came off a week early so that I could fly without it. To lighten the load I left my SLR and lenses at home and took only baby and my iphone. I took some photos, but the trip was not about the photography, but more about the sketching and the art. There are some photos to add in, impressions, but the journal is filled with sketches and paraphernalia that I barely feel the need to add photos (and apart from a few spaces, there is no room for them anyway so I am going to have to get creative on how to add them).

Galia Alena  Parisian travel journal
The plethora of galleries in Paris is overwhelming- so much to gorge on in such a short period and now, sitting amongst the clouds and trees, listening to birdsong instead of the harmonies of church bells and sirens, I can only dream of those details- the colours, the brush strokes, the risks, each of those artists teaching something different. These paintings come to life in a way you can only imagine when you stand if front of them and let their energy speak to you. Oh that I could wander the galleries with my morning coffee before I head to my own studio.

Eiffel Tower Paris, Galia Alena travel photographyMum likes to tell the story of the man who hated the Eiffel Tower but continued to eat lunch there everyday. When asked why he answered "it is the only place in Paris you can't see it from" -boom boom.

Next stop: London where I head off on my own to meet a dear dear friend for the first time.

Part 1 of my Parisian Travel Journal is here

Galia Alena  Parisian travel journal

Some thoughts on travel journaling and pilgrimage (from the new website):
A journey to a new place or a journey through a journal page will both take you on a pilgrimage to the center of your own heart, to an understanding of your own truths, to a knowing and comfort with yourself. Both will bring you closer to the peace of home and still that wyld spirit that wants to fly freely on the winds of desires, of greener grasses and the whispers of dreams.
Journaling and traveling can both be a journey on which, if you are receptive, you discover a deeper connection with yourself and the conversation with life. Both can act as a pilgrimage from which you are forever changed, giving you both new awareness and knowledge of yourself and the world, journeying simultaneously out into the outer world and deep within the inner world.
There are as many ways and reasons to travel and to journal as there are people. For me the two are similar in that they both are a way for me to embody the journey. The journey to align with my inner world as well as my outer, a journey in trust, a journey in which on the middle of the path one is expanded and changed forever, a journey in which you can meet yourself. A pilgrimage.
Both require me to stay open and curious, to watch and notice attentively, to respond with trust and wonder at unexpected opportunities. Both allow me to engage fully in  the conversation of life with wonder and amazement. Both gift me with myself.

Galia Alena  Parisian travel journal
"Sometimes it takes a great sky to find thatfirst, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” David Whyte
There are many ways to travel but when a woman travels alone there is a certain amount of trust that is required, especially when details have been left open to chance, serendipity and faith. A window is left open for spirit to enter and the unique state of wonder and awareness that traveling puts you in enhances your awareness of these moments.
A pilgrimage can take many forms, some structured and religious, some based on tradition. Sometimes one is not even aware that they are on a pilgrimage yet the journey they take will change them forever as they find themselves touched by things they didn’t even realise they were seeking.

Galia Alena  Parisian travel journal
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
Traveling allows one to strip away the usual masks that daily life demands which can bury the true self, it becomes an opportunity to get to know yourself without all the usual baggage. When you travel the normal linear day to day time is suspended and you step into a time where routine has been suspended in favour of the fullness of the moment. When you art journal there too is a suspension of time. Your hands set to work busy moving paint about, making marks, selecting papers while your monkey brain watches and hopefully is quiet and distracted long enough for deeper thoughts and awareness to come forward- a moving meditation where the heart and hand is aligned.
“and turning the corner at what you thought was athe end
of the road, you found just a simple reflection,
and a clear revelation beneath the face looking back
and beneath it another invitation, all in one glimpse:”
  David Whyte

To the land of OZ

 I haven't announce here, or anywhere really, just whisperings, but come December 24th, my family and I will be heading home to the land of OZ. We've spent 2 1/2 years here in Queenstown NZ - there is too much to say so I'm going to say it in pictures but that will be a post for another day.

Ceramic mantra bowls by Galia Alena

In the meantime today I sent out the last of the custom made bowls until I set my family up again and find access to a new kiln. I'm really hoping there will be one in my future. This was such a special batch to make and a privilege to make for such soulful women, filled with love for family or gifts for sisters. 

Ceramic mantra bowls by Galia Alena

By Monday I will be putting my Etsy shop into holiday mode for a few months while all my beloved art supplies bob there way across the ocean. I'm hoping to re-open it as soon as I can with new creations. In the meantime, if there is something calling you then you have until Monday to put your name on- there are still a few bowls left.
Then I will be taking in some of this exquisite place while I still can- in between walks up the mountain and around the lake my daughter is dragging me to fear factory and there will be a girls road trip down to the bottom of the island to visit the dolphins. Trying to breath it all in while I can. I am going to miss the mountains and the lake but am looking forward to the heady sweetness of Gardenias and trays of mangoes and my friends!! Looking forward to my friends. Xx

Ceramic mantra bowls by Galia Alena

Working in the Travel Journal

One of my pleasures of traveling is in making and working in my travel journal, both on the trip itself and also when I return as I recollect and digest memories. Its a beautiful way to extend the magic of the trip and also to give the memories and experiences a tangible form that I can connect back to again and again.

So many marks made on location giving me access right back to the scent and senses of the place and experience.
The raw memories demand to be laid down in strokes of colour and words that spill forth, sleep gives way to the urgency of committing those fresh memories to form. 
Next is to write up thoughts and to sort the 1000s of photos that I took, print some and glue them into the book. Such a delicious process.

It's also the first week of my on line class Of the Heart, and I am loving being inspired by what the students are all doing, bringing me back to my own book and where I left off before I set off on adventure. And I think one of the highlights of the week was when one of my students posted a video of her front porch strewn with the project as her hands were beautifully messy in the act of creation. I think this might just have been the moment I got addicted to teaching.


LOVE- YES at Esalen

I've been away overseas for a month now, on an amazing adventure which I am still digesting- so so much good stuff. For now I am just going to work my way backwards through the trip week by week and share some images along the way.
Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur, Passion Flower
 My last week was spent at Esalen on the Big Sur with Pixie Campbell's Shamanic Painting Retreat where much magic was had by all. Such an honour to spend time with so many incredible and divine women, I can't yet find the words to share with you so here are some photos:
Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur,

 Spiraling in and out.

Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur,


 Sacred circling with beautiful women in our sweat lodge.

Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur, butterfly


Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur, sweat lodge


Galia Alena Photography, Esalen, Big Sur,

Just a quick reminder that Of the Heart starts in one week and there is still time to sign up- I hope you'll join us.

Journals, journals, journals

Galia Alena mixed media art journal

Galia Alena mixed media art journal

Galia Alena mixed media art journal
Here are some recent journal pages from my journal that sadly has only one page left in it. It won't be coming with me as I head off on my adventures in a day. As I finished the coffee pot page above, I felt a sadness not to have this journal with me even as I am excited to be switching gears to be working in a travel journal and so looking forward to seeing what goodness emerges there.
Travel journal, water colours, Galia Alena
 I've made my new travel journal, although the signatures are loose. Unlike when I made my Bali journal (which I knew was going to have a Batik cover, just wasn't sure how the stars were going to align to make that happen) this journal has absolutely no ideas about how its cover might develop. I guess I'll just have to watch and see.
The trickiest part of packing is working out which supplies to take. I'm taking my Polaroid camera as I can't imagine an American road trip without a Polaroid or two and thanks to the Impossible Project that is still possible. Still haven't decided which other camera to take, and as for art supplies, today I decided that despite the fact that I'll be buying supplies as I go I still had to chuck out a pair of shoes or two so as to get in some extra supplies.

First stop Sydney where I get to be a tourist in my home town, hug some girlfriends, and enjoy a gallery crawl.

Some Pages from Bali

 It's getting closer to Christmas and the January holidays, which in this part of the world mean Summer Holidays, and my heart is getting wistful for another wandering trip. January is traditionally a time to travel and explore, but for this coming one we have no trips planned because I will be spending most of April away from home (in Virginia for SoulFire Retreats and for some photographic shoots in Sydney). We will probably load up the car and hit the road exploring this country that we've land in less than 2 years ago, so much of New Zealand still to see (in fact most of it).
The yearning to travel has me perusing my last travel journal, from Bali this past February, touching the soft, gently used Batiks I used for its cover and flicking through the pages of the adventures we had and the beauty we saw. Seeing the marks made on our travel, and the paraphernalia collected along the way glued in and reading little vignettes and stories, sweeps me right back into that experience and my gypsy heart is glad I have these tangible memories which allow me to travel back from my armchair with.
Itchy gypsy toes.

Water Colour Notes from Bali

Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Cafe Lotus View
Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Arma Museum
Galia Alena, water colour, Bali
Temples & Mopeds

Bali is full of so much eye candy, no matter where your eyes settle their is inspiration, rich craftsmanship, luscious foliage, offerings to the many gods and goddesses and ripe fruits hanging heavy. The place is dense with detail and life bustling everywhere. There's a sense of being in a sacred temple everywhere in Bali, even outside, where the very sky itself seems to descend and complete this island temple with its rain bearing clouds.
You can find a photo of the temple in the first painting here.

Bali Travel Journal

I've finished putting together my travel journal from Bali, well as finished as you can ever be, I'm sure there will be more doodles and writing, but finished for now. I never know what to call them, half journal, half sketch book, half art journal, half memoir, and yes I know, that's a lot of halves. I guess really its a no rules applies way to process and sit with the experience of traveling to another place. Some is done there and some is done on return when photos are processed as are experiences. What I do know is that they are a very tangible memory, especially the marks and brush strokes laid down in a place. I need only rest my hand on the cover of my Canadian journal and I am swept back.

Introducing Boris the Buddha

Boris the Buddha 
Meet Boris, mild mannered and ever so humble buddha but with a secret desire to see the world. He is a Chinese Buddha from Thailand. What does this mean? It means that he embraces traits of both the Chinese buddha for good luck, prosperity and abundance (& by abundance we mean the joy of life), and Thai buddha for respect (for oneself, others and the planet) and a  simple, harmonious life. So with a simple plan for an abundantly joyous life, Boris the Buddha has set off on his adventures to see the world and meet himself.
Boris at the Big Buddha- Samui
When I first met Boris he was hanging around at the Big Buddha on Samui, day dreaming about the world that the tourists he saw daily came from and getting under the feet of the monks. It occured to him, that unlike big buddha, he could just throw a few things in a little cloth, fling it over his shoulder and be on his way, and so he did. A tearful and excited goodbye to his beloved Samui and he was off, to see the world and pick up some wisdom along his way.
He is able who thinks he is able.
Boris saying goodbye to his beloved Thailand

* NB. Disclaimer- We would just like to make it perfectly clear that Boris is on this adventure of his own free will, he has not been kidnapped or coerced  and no buddha’s were harmed in the undertaking of this adventure.

Missing Snow

Snow Twig

It's nearly Christmas and I'm thinking about this time last year when all the cold weather clothes were being pulled out of storage, making giant piles next to the empty suitcases and the air was alive with anticipation. Vancouver was already preparing for us, covering itself in a pure white soft wrap and we were giddy with joy. Christmas was overshadowed by snow. My fake snowflakes are in hanging in the window and I'm dreaming of my winter wonderland. Last years Christmas was picture card perfect, but I missed the trays of mangoes and cherries and the traditions of home. This year, traditions, like life, are changing and I'm wondering whether it is not time to start some new traditions for christmas like Caper's Pumpkin Pie, roasted chestnuts in the snow with Nat King Cole in the background, Eggnog from Meinhardt, train ride through the Stanley Park Christmas display, Festival of Lights and most of all the gentle kiss of icy possibilities falling from the sky.
Yesterday, when I was supposed to be working, I found myself going through slide shows of our snow trip feeling very nostalgic. I think a few more photos from then will slowly appear leading up to Christmas.
To my Canadian friends- wish I was there with you.  

Adventures in Relaxation: Scenes from Lotus Terrace

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography
    I’ve been stuck on writing about our time in Samui as I’m not sure I can convey in words just how deeply the place and the pace resonated with me at this particular time in life. Since returning home, I’ve felt out of time, out of sync with myself, a blur scattered between obligations and desires. In Samui there was only the moment, the quiet blissful moments stretched out gloriously in front of me like the sublime calm ocean. Two hours of yoga this morning and I feel a bit like some of the pieces of me have been pulled back into my center as I try to carry the peace of Samui back into my own life.
    You know when your booking a holiday, surfing the net and trying to decipher the photos from what the reality might be like. You don’t know the place your going to, you don’t know the location to stay at. You’ve gotten advice from various people about where to stay but your dubious, you still remember the time that you took the advice of a well meaning friend. No you won’t be making that mistake again. So you study the photos knowing only too well that it is the job of a photographer to lie, so you look for the seams and try to interpret them back to reality.
    What is it you want from your accommodation? Are you planning to spend much time there or is it just going to be a dumping ground for your luggage? Our trip to Samui was planned to be a relaxing, hangout by the beach, do nothing holiday WITHOUT CHILDREN.   A blissful holiday after the exhaustion of the last one where, as much as I loved it, snow and children, well it just ain’t relaxing. So this one was going to be a do nothing, chill, relax, regenerate, daydream, relax, and did I mention relax. So much expectation is invested into your holiday, planning, looking forward to it, etc etc, that you want it to be, you need it to be beautiful, and I’ve had the holiday that you just wanted to leave, to come home. You know, the holiday that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth long after you’ve finally paid it off the credit card.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Well this holiday wasn’t that. This holiday was perfect from the place, the people, the food to the accommodation. Even the airport was perfect, with it’s landscaped runway and buildings that looked more like the shacks on Gilligan’s Island than an airport terminal, dotted with orchids and lotus flowers.
    When we got into our taxi and asked him to take us to Lotus Terrace, our accommodation, he just shrugged and said “I don’t know that one, I’ll drive, you look for it.” Well its a small island but… A tour of the island later and finally we spot it as we drive past it for the umpteenth time (thank goodness we’re on a fixed rate cab fair or we would have been suspicious, as it was we just relaxed and took in the scenes of the island). The villas were down a driveway off the main road, nestled right on the beach. Perfect, we knew we had picked well.
    The lovely and very sweet Rosie, who will keep me in supply of coffee over our stay,  greets us, takes our bags and shows us to our delightful rooms. Everything is beautiful and I look around thinking “I could get used to orchids on my bathmat if I have to,” as Rosie gives us the lay of the land, where to eat, cars etc. (When we leave we try to smuggle her with us- she just laughs, its an old joke, all the guests try to seduce her away from her island home when they leave- no surprise).

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena PhotographyThailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    It’s late afternoon after our extended cab ride and we’re hungry after our mystery meal on the aeroplane. At Rosie’s suggestion, we trudge (such hard work) down the beach, and I do mean down the beach, along the sand, to the local restaurant on the sand. Part of the walk involves hitching up my skirt and getting my calves wet as we wonder which way the tide is going and whether our path home will be here later. I remember a similar situation on a childhood holiday which has taken on a childlike mythology  and until recently used to visit me in my nightmares. But I’m on holiday and I don’t care about such things as the practicalities of being able to get home. When we find the restaurant we sit outside on the sand and order cocktails and local snacks watching the colours get softer. Sunset over our new adventure.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Back at our villa, we lay claim to “Our Spot” which will be our spot for the next week: a couple of deck chairs and an umbrella between the little pool and what we affectionately come to call the big pool (the ocean).  We drink wine, listen to the waves and watch the sand move as tiny crabs scurry about. We get very comfortable.

    My agenda for the week is simple, it is basically not to move much from this spot. I had planned to read and write, take a few pictures, but really the place is too peaceful, too calm. Our villas are, thankfully, on the other side of the island to the main tourist trek, so sitting on my chair under the umbrella there is not a lot to watch other than the rhythmic waves and the weather. Occasionally a local will wade out to see what the sea will offer up for lunch or check the nets in the morning, but beyond that, the beach is pretty much ours alone. It’s a beautiful beach with coral like sand that massages your feet and gets softer the further out you go until its like walking on a very fine sponge. The water itself is clear and calm, you can see the reefs below as you walk out far with its crisp and sparkly turquoise embracing you. The scene is soft and delicate in the morning, heavy with fog and gets clearer as the sun rises casting shadows of palm trees on the water. Sometimes the weather engulfs the mainland across from us and you can literally sit here and watch the storms move past as they dance along the surface of the water.
    On the first morning we meet our hosts at Lotus Terrace, a gorgeous couple from Vancouver, who offer us the use of their Kayak and local knowledge. On their advice, we select the only tour on the island that we will do: The Five Islands Tour, which turns out to be perfect and a highlight of the trip (thank you). The tour involves being taken out in a traditional long boat by one of the local fishermen to cruise around the five islands off the coast of Samui, and then stopping at a deserted island to do some snorkeling amongst the coral and aquatic gardens. Did I mention that it was only the two of us on the tour. A fresh and cold coconut refreshes us as we race the setting sun back to shore. A quick shower and we are ready to sit and watch the magnificent light show of the setting sun from the best vantage point on the island, cocktails at hand followed by more delectable food than we can possibly muster the energy to eat. We look at all the beautiful food in front of us and wonder who else is coming to dinner.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography
 Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    We hire a car and head out occasionally to explore the island, but I am always keen to get back to Our Spot and continue on the path of nothingness. The seduction not to leave the place, to sit and stare at the scene is too high. I am happy only to move in search of the next exquisite Thai meal. When we do venture out it is easy to navigate around the island as most of it is on the exterior outer rim, near the water, why wouldn’t it be, and there is one main road which takes you all around the island and delivers you back where you started. Impossible to get lost on this island- all roads lead home eventually.
Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography

    Most of our time was spent doing nothing and being surprised just how easy it was not to think about our lives back home, including the children (oh dear, am I allowed to say that aloud!?!). We ease our guilt by promising to bring the children with us next time, the location is perfect for children with its calm deserted beach and gentle waters. We sat quietly with only our own thoughts and the insistant waves, thinking of adventures in relaxation. We leave knowing only one thing for sure and that is that we will return to this idealic setting, to this beautiful place and tranquil pace.

It whispers to me.

Thailand, Koh Samui, Lotus Terrace, Galia Alena Photography
It whispers to me.

    I stand here with the world at my feet literally. The whole world literally at my feet. I breathe deeply and stand taller. The waves beckon me with greetings from far off places, imagined and not. How like I imagined is this place? Only in it’s beauty not in it’s details. These endless waters that have the freedom of the tides, the currents, move freely yet with purpose around the world.
    I breathe deeply, I stand taller still. I imagine possibilities, alternatives, choices. A different life, in a different place, with different rhythms pulling me through my days as the moon pulls these tides.
    We’ve only been here a few days and already the place imposes new rhythms. A quieter rhythm, a softer rhythm.
    Soon the waves persistent urging will win me over and I will wade out far into this connecting ocean, this ocean that is here and that has been there. In silence I listen to it’s stories. It’s wisdom soaks into my skin, my bones. I absorb it graciously, deeply. I embrace it’s gifts. Cool and calm, gently bobbing around. Clear as crystal I see the soft velveteen sand below my feet, like walking on marshmallows. The light patterns dance upon my skin. Gently prodding me I feel lighter. I shut my eyes to let the other senses see and the sun hits my eyelids with a dazzling light show.
    I could melt into  this water and let it drift me gently along on its journey. I would beat the shores of far off lands, visiting by moonlight, by sunshine. This vast ocean tranquil and mighty at once. It whispers to me...