When life tells you to stop...

...in no uncertain terms.

A few weeks ago I had a car accident.  I was on my way to start my 1-1  Shamanic study and BAM, I get hit from behind by an 18 tonne lorry.  Thankfully, I don't remember anything about the accident. One minute I was slowing, indicating and preparing to turn, the next I was waking up in a hospital bed with a head injury and damaged shoulder.  I had apparently climbed out the car and been breathalysed but I have no memory of any of it.  Very, very scary experience. 

I have never had a car accident before.  Never experienced that kind of memory loss.  The whole day seems so surreal looking back, and if it wasn't for the painful, damaged shoulder and lack of car I wouldn't have known anything about it.  

I've spent all my time since trying to recover and deal with being on painkillers most of the time. There are massive shifts and changes going on.  I'm not sure where I'm going any more, but I feel excited to find out and see where this takes me. 

I've managed a few drawings in a new journal (it felt right to start a new journal, everything feels new at the moment) and other larger drawings have emerged too.  New ideas are forming and I hope to announce something pretty exciting soon.

Bringing fire into my life.

I treated myself to a fire bowl.  I've always wanted one but never allowed myself to splash out. The end of the garden needed a face lift, so my new fire bowl was to take pride of place. There is nothing like having the motivation to get a job done when there is something beautiful waiting to take it's spot!

Once the fire bowl arrived, I then sourced some tree stumps to place around it for sitting on and a trip was made to the local wood recycling project to source wood and pallets to build a log store.

Happy days!

Indo-British Fair Update

Well, I did it!  Thanks to all who helped fund this opportunity and all who helped me through all the emotional wobbles and exhaustion!

I sold a couple of pendants and a few packs of cards and postcards. I met some lovely people and the experience of travelling to London and doing my first show was amazing. I can also proudly say that I have exhibited my work on Oxford street! 

I gave out lots of leaflets and business cards, and have made some great connections with other sellers. Patrick Moriarty who designs awesome Paisley fabrics, Paisley Power, the lovely Tripti Birgi and her fabulous jewellery and Ferne Brewster from Maya Crafts who sells gorgeous yak wool blankets, shawls and throws. I also met some lovely friends from Facebook who popped in to say hi. 

The event could have been organised better, and all traders were disappointed with the lack of attendance and customers, however, it was a really good experience for me to overcome lots of fears.  The next show will be a breeze!  If you'd like to come and see my work in person, I'll be at the Purple Fairy Psychic and Holistic event in Basingstoke on Sunday (27th Sept).

I'll be uploading new items to my Etsy store this week, so keep an eye out for new pendants and paintings.

Love to you all! and Happy Equinox! 

Lughnasadh Break

A couple of nights under canvas.  Rest and recharge before the crazy painting begins!

Steeple Leaze Farm.

The most exciting news!

The tail end of last week was a whirlwind of awesomeness. 

On the same day my eldest daughter turned 17, I received a message into my Etsy inbox. It was inviting me to be one of 35 exclusive Indo-British artists, designers and labels.  My first thoughts were that I could never afford it (hiring a table at the event is not cheap) and I'd never have enough stock etc etc.  I shared the news on Facebook with friends and family and within about 15 minutes I'd begun to start thinking about how I could do it. Everyone was so supportive and enthusiastic.  I began to see the potential benefits of attending and being part of this niche event. A few people suggested I set up a Gofundme page and ask for donations. I decided I had nothing to lose.  I set up the page.

Within 12 hours I had raised half of my £500 target. It was truly unbelievable. Wonderful friends and family donated, along with complete strangers.  24 hours after setting up the page, I hit my target and the stall was booked!  I am still taking donations as there is a lot to organise.  I have never done a show before and need everything!  If you feel you'd like to help, please click on the widget above.

Indo-British Fair on Oxford Street, London,  21st-23rd September 2015.  
More info -  www.travelistaindia.com

"The event will be an exciting mix of eclectic products and cultural activities with Indo representing the east, gypsy, tribal and boho and British the west, vintage, retro and contemporary. There will be interesting activities like vintage fashion booth, British tea sessions, henna art, block printing workshops etc."
"The fair will be showcasing 35 curated exhibitors offering the best of British and Asian and gypsy fashion and culture. ."

To have my art chosen and described as Indo-British is such an honor. My Anglo Indian heritage has always been a big part of my life and my love for the county and culture often flows through into my art.  To be known as an Anglo Indian (or Indo-British) artist, to exhibit among others influenced by similar things would be a dream come true.  I am very proud of my heritage, and as Anglo Indian communities are dying out all over India, I feel passionate about keeping the memory of the Anglo Indian people alive.

So, watch this space for more details.  I have a summer of painting and sourcing products.  

My table is booked for the opening day on 21st September 2015.  I am very excited!

Chat it's fate magazine

Today, my story came out in the August edition of Chat it's fate magazine.  I was contacted by them earlier in the year to share my story about PMDD, the menstrual cycle and my art.  I felt this was a way to raise some awareness of how severe PMS can become, along with how I came to heal myself from the worst symptoms.  If you would like to read my story you can find it in all larger newsagents for the next month.

If you are interested in finding out more about PMDD, please check out my PMDD blog, Meet My PMDD, or visit the UK's National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) or the USA's National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

To find out more about the alternative ways of understanding the menstrual cycle, please have a read through my Natural Shaman Blog, particularly the article I wrote for Indie Shaman magazine, The Magic of the Menstrual Cycle and my experience at a menstrual workshop with Alexandra Pope.

Sign up to learn more about your menstrual cycle with Red School Online.  Red School Online is a new way to learn about your cycle, with peer support, fantastic learning tools and private group chat.  Go check it out!  Red School features some of my work in their teaching materials, you can find my poster in my Etsy store.

Take a look at my divine feminine art.  You can find the gallery here.



Trying something new.

This spring has seen a change in direction for me.  I've been inspired by dot painting, simplicity and colour.  My inspiration is in no doubt Elspeth McLean and her beautiful creations, and I'm enjoying playing around with dots and colours...  

In other news, I now have a volunteer job with Mind at their local Wellbeing Centre.  Its a wonderful opportunity to work with people, share art and creative ideas, offer Reiki and teach meditation.  Hence the late update!  Finding time to sit on the computer, volunteer and create is becoming a challenge, buuut... Variety is the spice of life, and I'm enjoying the feeling of being needed and useful!  

If you follow my Facebook page or Instagram, you may have seen these, but I'll leave you with an overview of the paintings I've been creating over the past few months.

Jan/Feb 2015 Update

Busy Times!

Over the past few weeks I've been busy creating the rewards for the lovely people who donated to my GoFundMe Campaign, along with painting some new pendants for my Shakti Mandala Etsy Store.  I've designed a tattoo which has already been inked on skin, and generally, been catching up with lots of other projects.  I spent the whole day photographing things yesterday ready for printing, so hopeful, in the not to distant future, more of my work will be available for sale.  

For now, here's a few pictures to show you what I've been up to!

My Kundalini Yoga Weekend

This weekend I was to start my Kundalini Yoga teacher training.  I tried Kundalini yoga out for the first time just over 18 months ago and completely loved it.  I met an amazing teacher who inspired me in many ways, and despite it being a while since I've seen her, still inspires me.  It is very true that inspirational and influential people can be met through chance, short or fleeting moments, it is also true that trying things for yourself is the only way to really know if something is right for you or not.

Recently, with the equinox, things in my life changed.  Something in me changed.  Chatting to another wonderful lady who is also up there on my inspiration list, she shared she was starting a yoga teaching course.  I felt again the pangs desire, feelings I have felt many many times over the past 15 years of my on and off dance with yoga.  I have always wanted to be in a position to do a teaching course, mainly so I could learn more, know more, and feel confident in my own yoga practice.

I've tried a few types of yoga, most recently something that is commonly called 'yoga flow'.  In one lesson I knew this type of yoga wasn't for me, and found myself on the Kundalini training website again looking at their training courses.  It's great value for money and the venue is quite local, so I found a way to source the finances and made inquiries.  They had spaces and the course started 3 weeks later.  

In those 3 weeks I thought a lot about whether this was right for me.  They have an option of doing the first 2 weekends to see if the course is right for you, so I signed up with the added bonus that if for whatever reason it wasn't right for me, I could walk away without losing a lot of money.  I felt the fear many times.  In my research there were things that didn't sit too well with me, but me being me and pretty open minded, I knew that it's pretty closed and judgemental not to try something just because there are a few reservations or feelings of fear.  New things always bring us face to face with fears, the most basic being 'Can I do this?' but I saw it all as a challenge and as a potential way to change my way of life.  I enjoy yoga, I enjoy chanting and singing, and I'd loved the way the Kundalini sessions I'd been to had made me feel.  So I didn't go in cold, I went to another session local to me and walked out feeling great and positive this was what I wanted to do.

The course is complete immersion.  One weekend a month for 10 months.  Living 'ashram style' in shared rooms, basic accommodation with as much importance put on SEVA (selfless service) as attending the lectures, workshops and yoga classes.  You are given a SEVA group and throughout the weekend your group is on a rota for preparing and serving food, washing up and clearing, and cleaning duties.  Your day starts at 4am.  Up ready and showered for Aquarian Sadhana at 5am.  I had been to an Aquarian Sadhana at the local Gudwara (Sikh Temple) so I knew what to expect.  I had actually enjoyed the early morning practice at the Temple, so although I knew it would be challenging, I wasn't quite prepared for how I would feel on my first weekend.  There were many more people there than I had expected (around 50).  A mixture of new and old students who were back to complete their training by teaching and leading the new students.

After overcoming all my fears before the weekend, I got there excited to get stuck in.  I felt a little out of my depth straight away as it seemed everyone else had already been there hours and were all happily chatting together.  It felt a bit like a first day at school, or crashing a party. I had been show my room where I grabbed a top bunk bed that was situated on it's own in the corner of the room.  I wasn't quite ready to sleep right next to a stranger.  We had supper and our first workshop and meditation.  Bed was at 9 and my room mates were lovely.  A couple shared hugs and their own fears of feeling a little out of their depth and we all shared a little about our lives back home.  It was difficult to sleep, and I found myself awake for most of the night.  I knew I had slept at some point as I had a dream, but the majority of the night was spent tossing and turning trying to shield myself from the smoke alarm light and waiting for the 4am alarm to go off.  When the alarm went off it was a relief, time to get up, get showered and into white clothes with head covering for the Sadhana at 5am.  The first part of morning practice is the reading of the Jap Ji, a very long prayer, read in Gurmukhi.  Sitting in the lotus position (or easy pose) you listen to the sounds and meditate on them.  It lasts around 45 mins. Then you go into a 45 min yoga practice.  The yoga practice was good, if a little cramped as there were so many of us crammed into a small room.  Once the yoga was finished we sat again for the chanting.  There are set chants that each last 7 or 5 mins, and one that lasts for 21 mins.  A guitarist came in to provide live music which was truly lovely, and I enjoyed singing along to the chants I knew and had been practicing.  It's 7.30am by the time you finish and breakfast is served at 8am.

I found myself feeling really overwhelmed.  I'm sure the lack of sleep had a lot to do with it.  I cried a little and went for breakfast.  Sitting with a lovely girl who had seen me struggling a little the night before, the tears came and I could barely finish breakfast.  I shared my feelings with a couple of others back in the bedroom and all were really supporting, loving and caring.  No one likes to see someone else crying, and they were all doing their best to reassure me and support me.  The problem was, I couldn't stop.  The feeling in me was of utter despair.  What was I doing here?  Why didn't I feel the same as the others?  Why did I not come out of the morning practice feeling enlivened and happy?  Why did I not feel at peace?  I soldiered on, attending the SEVA meeting and learning more about what was involved.  I just felt even more overwhelmed.  I went to my SEVA group meeting in the kitchen and we did another short meditation as there was not a lot to discuss, and the tears kept coming.  By this point I was feeling really embarrassed and conscious that lots of people had noticed me crying.  I went and sat near a door with a view to the gardens.  The venue was utterly stunning and I wish I had had a good walk around them.  My newly adopted friend came and hugged me and asked if I'd spoken to any of the leaders.  I hadn't.  It all felt so busy and time seemed tight and I didn't want to hold things up or get in the way of the schedule.  She went and told someone that I was feeling distressed and a few others came and sat with me and offered support.  I missed the workshop.  I spent it talking to one of the group leaders, and then another, and then another.  All had words of encouragement and advice.  All were lovely and supportive and the offer was made for them to support me bit by bit throughout the day so I could at least stay for the next yoga session and teachings in the evening. All wanted me to give the whole weekend a go before I made the decision on whether to continue with the course.  I was told to go and catch up on some sleep, as the yoga session had already started by this point, and maybe after some more sleep and lunch I would be able to continue.  

I went and sat up on my bunk bed and knew that I wouldn't be able to sleep.  I called home, I chatted to a friend online.  I was wrestling with that nasty little voice telling me I was useless, I was wasting an opportunity, I'd wasted money, asking how I could possibly bail out after one measly night... Family and friends back home had all been so supportive and excited for me and I felt a little like I was letting them down.  Reassurances from them and words of support helped, and I realised that I wasn't doing this to prove anything to anyone.  I had chosen this course and path as I'd thought it would be good for me.  I thought it would be fun.. hard work.. but fun, enlightening and transformational.  So far I hadn't really felt fun, or happiness, or peace...  Again I found myself judging and comparing myself to others.  50 people were enjoying it, or at least seeming to enjoy it.  I was not under any illusion that I was the only one struggling, but I was the only one openly showing how difficult I was finding it.  I couldn't even put my finger on it... was it the lack of sleep? was it homesickness? was it because I'd felt more like I was in a church singing praises to someone else's God/Guru/Deity?  was it because I was in the white uniform?  was it because I just felt lost, or unworthy of having time to myself to follow my path away from the family and home?  So much was running through my head.  I must have lost pints of tears.  

After another hour or so of hiding in the bedroom I looked at the clock.  1pm.  If I'm staying I need to sort myself out and prepare myself for another 8 hours of work before bed at 9pm.  I was already fragile, the tears wouldn't stop, the thought of another night of no sleep and the lack of energy made me realise that I couldn't stay.  I didn't want my hand held through every class, or my absence being noted.  I had been told I could sit out, attend or not attend... whatever I needed to do was OK and everyone understood.  I had shared some of my story and personal battles and that maybe, it was too soon to be trying something this intense. Despite everything, I made the decision to leave.  I immediately felt some relief.  Sitting with conflicting thoughts, with two choices and not knowing what to do is uncomfortable, once one path or the other is chosen there is relief the battle is over.  I packed up my things, stripped my bed and found the lady I'd been talking to.  She understood and with no judgement said she would help me to my car with my things.  I hugged all the lovely people that had in such a short time felt like they'd become friends, and gave a couple of them my email address.  I didn't feel like a failure, I just felt like I'd made the right decision for me in that moment.  I couldn't wait to get home and hug my husband and daughter, be on home ground and have my own bed.  I was worried about driving home so tired, but it wasn't too far and I knew that I just had to get home.

I felt relief and a touch of sadness that it hadn't worked out.  Again the voice in my head was trying to pipe up with negative thoughts.. oooh.. what will all your online friends think?  you were so excited and told everyone what you were doing.. how embarrassing it will be to share that actually you couldn't hack it and didn't even stay the whole weekend... I shut that voice up quickly and thought about what I had learned about myself in my short stay there.  I had learned a LOT about myself.  It had been a valuable experience even if it was not in the way I'd hoped.  I have learned that there is a reason I've always stayed away from organised religion. Kundalini yoga is not a religion, but it's hard to separate the religious aspect from it.  Maybe religion is the wrong word.. let's call it organised spirituality.  I turned away from witchcraft many years ago for the same reasons (although I actually felt much more love and support from the Kundalini Yogi's than I ever did when I was in a coven).  My spirituality is a weird eclectic mix of beliefs, it's always been pretty solitary, and I'm fine with that.  I understand there are processes and techniques out there to speed up or enable your connection to the divine, but as I stood at my back door looking at the stars I realised that I was in my church, I was already doing OK.  I have a strong faith, a strong connection to the divine.  It's my own little mix of things that allow me to feel it, it's my own journey and experiences that have brought me to this point, and I don't NEED anything else to make me feel more spiritual.  I love yoga, but I felt this course was far more than just yoga.. I mean, that's why I chose it!  Unfortunately, the other stuff included on the course, the spiritual side was too much for me...  I had already worried about not feeling like 'me' by the end of it, and I wasn't comfortable with certain aspects of the experience.  I was strong enough to know quickly that this wasn't for me.  Strong enough to leave and not feel pressure to stay to try and prove something.  I was strong enough to make a decision on my own and despite the embarrassment, strong enough to walk away with no regrets.  It made me realise how much I love my life, home and family just the way it is, how much I loved and trusted my close friends and my own judgement to know what's right for me. I would still love to train in yoga, but training the Kundalini way was not for me.  

Everyone says the course is transformational.  They are right.  In less than 24 hours I learned so much about myself.  I left feeling stronger, not weaker.  I left appreciating what I have and already know.  It was not a waste, it was not a failure.  There are some times in life when you need to push through the fear and persevere, and there are times when you just know in your heart and soul that something is not right for you.  This was one of those times.  I am gutted it didn't work out, I am sad that the path I had though was right actually wasn't, but it's not the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last.  Turning up, being present, being open to knew experiences and cultures, new ideas and ways of living is not a bad way to be, but being prepared to listen to your gut, your soul and intuition to keep yourself safe is recommended.

I got up this morning just before 6am. The MotoGP was on and my husband and daughter were already planning on an early start to watch the race.  I got up and joined them.  I felt safe again at home with my own bed and the people I love around me.  We went for a walk to catch the sunrise and as I stood looking around the gorgeous countryside I realised again that I don't need much more.  My connection to nature, the trees, the stars, the Moon, the Sun.. walking with the family and watching the leaves fall off the trees is enough.  The whole world is my temple and I have no rules about what time I need to honor them or for how long.  I walk in my own way, dancing to my own tune.  My art, my crazy weird mixed up set of beliefs, my selfless service to my family is all I need.  We are all spiritual beings, we can chose to follow others, abide by rules, chose an established path or follow our own.  Freedom is blessing, and if one thing this weekend showed me, it's how to count my blessings and feel good about what I am and already have.  I have already transformed my life massively from how I was just a few years ago, and maybe continuing on this course would have led to further transformation.  Maybe I'm not ready for that just yet, maybe the Kundalini yoga path is just not right for me and maybe it never will be.  I can accept that with loving gratitude and feel at peace with the fact I tried it, first hand and made my own mind up.  Who knows what's next for me?  For now, I'm happy with what I've got, and happy in the knowledge that my life is just fine.  I like the freedom of choice, I like who I am and right now, I don't really need to change a thing.