The Cacao Journey – Part One

I’ve been on this journey, taking timid steps, for a couple months now so I am still really learning what it’s all about and how it fits in my life and exactly where I want to take this journey to. During the process I have mentioned it a time or two on facebook and have had a number of people ask me about it. The stars have aligned and circumstances have occurred that are allowing me the time and space I need to really delve in to this sacred cacao stuff for a few days and I am going to share my experiences with you, Constant Reader.

So firstly I think it best if I try and explain what exactly cacao is, and perhaps what it isn’t. For starters, it’s isn’t modern day chocolate as you know it, with the additives and the sweetness. That kind of chocolate comes from Theobroma cacao, however the difference between commercial chocolate and ceremonial (super-healthy!) cacao is like the difference between chalk and cheese. Theobroma is a greek word and is translated literally to mean “god food”. The genus Theobroma has been traced back MILLIONS of years to the east of the Andes in South America. The first recorded use of cacao was dated back to around 2000BC.

The Aztecs called the cacao bean Cacahuatl. Their sacred cacao drink was called Xocoatl which is where the word chocolate was actually derived from. Cacao trees only grow within a 20 degree direction either side of the equator and are a tropical evergreen species. Possibly one of the few things on the planet that don’t need bees to pollinate it, relying instead on tiny flies! They produce flowers, beans, seeds and nibs. It’s the beans that are harvested to produce chocolate.

The cacao bean is a revered and magical gift believed to be granted to mortals by the gods. Cacao was a sacred elixir, a ritual aid, powerful medicine, a source of economical exchange and an indicator of spiritual standing. The Aztecs and Mayans believe cacao was discovered by the gods in the Mountain of Sustenance (which some mythologies indicate is likely near the Andes), along with many other nourishing life-giving foods. Quite possibly of the sort we now call “super foods”. Interestingly, considering the society stigma between women and chocolate in the modern world, it was said the sacred knowledge of how to prepare, roast and press the cacao beans in to the sacred chocolate elixir (which was believed to have gifted wisdom) was very specifically given to women as divine instruction.

An early, traditional recipe of the cacao elixir, Xocoatl, was for it to be mixed with roasted corn flower, chilies, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and pepper. This made it a bitter, savoury and very spicy drink, not at all like the sweet and creamy hot chocolate we consume today. It’s most common use was for medicinal, ritual, shamanic use and as a spiritual aid, mystical practice and religious sacrament. There are those who believe a powerful blend of cacao and psychedelic tryptamines were ingested with great appeal and reverence specifically for significant spiritual rituals and celebrations.

Cacao was deeply revered as a sacred plant medicine and healer. It’s healing and medicinal properties include, but is not limited to, aphrodisiac properties, longevity benefits, assists with an array of internal bodily pain, external wounds and burns, various disease, lung and abdominal issues. It was also given to warriors to help with courage and sustenance. Spanish priest, Bernardino de Sahagun in 1590AD, over a 60 year period, put together a codex listing around 300 medicinal uses for cacao. It wasn’t until the 1800’s that the processing and production of chocolate began to change, no doubt at the hands of a man! (Don’t get me wrong, I am not a man-hater, I love men, however I do think the masculine energy has destroyed a lot of what was once held sacred)

Cacao in it’s rawest form is an ancient super-food. The super-food of super-foods! It is completely riddled with essential minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. It is also known to be packed with naturally-occuring, consciousness altering, significant components like endorphins, magnesium, histamine, serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and more. Most people will have at least heard of a number of these but the most significant (for me) is probably the magnesium. I’ve been doing some research on magnesium over the years and discovered that a large chunk of the population is severely deficient in magnesium. It does so much for our bodies yet things like stress deplete it far quicker than what most of us are consuming to replace it. It is essential for memory, concentration and has a capacity to help relax the muscles and regular progesterone, the hormone responsible for mood-swings. It’s highly likely cacao’s super-high content of magnesium is a big reason for a woman’s body to intuitively crave chocolate around menstruation. In my personal experience I have noticed less migraines since I have begun to regularly experiment with ceremonial cacao.

There is so much amazing information about this god-food that I could likely write a years worth of blog posts about it. But I’m not a scientist and I’m not really interested in delving that deep in to the scientific nature or even the mythological nature of cacao – though I am very interested in mythology, so perhaps one day I will explore that aspect some more. For now though, for today, this moment, this coming week, I will be writing about going on a cacao dieta.

So now we know what cacao is, let me tell you what a cacao dieta is about.

Basically, I have been ‘tinkering’ with cacao. Getting my toes wet, seeing how it feels, experimenting, playing. A dieta is about deepening the relationship. You could think of it as immersion work or a cacao retreat. I will be ingesting cacao every single day for the next 5-6 days and devoting time to myself and my experiences and journey with ceremony and self-connection. I will be using it to help me heal some past wounds that desperately need healing so I can let them go and move forward without the baggage weighting me down. In a way I will be using it, also, as a regenerative.

During this week I will be detoxing. I will be getting synthetic sugar out of my system. I will be getting gluten out of my system. I will be filling myself with as many fresh and healthy nutrients and vitamins as possible. I will be paying particular attention to how my energy levels have been recently and how they are when I get to the end of the week and I am going to really focus on how much better I feel every time I go to reach for a coke at the supermarket, or go to buy a packet of biscuits or cake or get fish and chips for dinner cause I’m too tired to make something better. I will remember how much better I feel when I reach for the mash potato or the white bread or the pasta. I am using this week to kick-start a new lifestyle for myself. I’ve even got a friends xtrainer I will be borrowing!

A traditional plant medicine dieta is considered a form of apprenticeship and intensive training. Essentially it’s a commitment to a period of time where the primary focus is on deepening, exploring and learning from various plant medicines through personal retreat and extended ceremonial depth work. This intense form of work is best done with the use of other healing modalities, so I will be laying on my crystal bed a lot, surrounded but supportive crystals and giving myself reiki treatments. I have organised for myself at least 4 days of retreat conditions where I can withdraw or semi-withdraw from my normal everyday life. By allowing myself this container I am hoping to engage in transformational work and conscious integration and I am inviting you to witness this journey through my blog posts.

I hope this has been at least a start for you to understand what this cacao thing I keep going on about is all about 🙂 I’m really looking forward to going inward and giving myself some time and space to shift some old, dug in conditioning and festering wounds. I’m ready to become all I can be. I’m ready to be healthy and in love with myself. I am ready to stop being so affected by other people and their criticism. I’m ready to surrender all that I am to all that is. I am ready to be that which I am.

My future blog posts probably won’t be as structured or knowledge based as this. Mostly it will be a story-telling of my journey, what I did, what insights arose, what healing took place, etc. Just for this post I wanted to help people really understand what sacred ceremonial cacao is and what it is used for. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer about it please feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them in following blog posts if I can.

In Joy! I love you. You are welcome here in your true form of authentic self-expression. You are beautiful.

I don’t know what it is…

… but there is this definite push to get moving lately. The more we get in to the last half of the year the more my Inner Dialogue (ever notice that makes ID… for identification, and what else is your identification than your Inner Dialogue, HAH!) keeps hounding me to take action. Take action. Take action.

So I spent far more time than I realised it took to photograph, edit, upload, tag and describe all my recent polywork creations.

 Polyclay Play

It doesn’t really look like that much to me when I view this photo. But it did quite literally take me hours! And for what? To sit in my Etsy Shop for 4 months doing nothing? Probably. Why? Because I’m clueless! I put them up there, I tagged them… well now what? Why aren’t they flying off the shelf? Because no one is seeing them. At least that’s why I hope they aren’t flying off the shelf and it’s not because they are all horrible and no one likes them!! Isn’t it wonderful how our Inner Critic loves to gallop away to the most drastic conclusions?

Why isn’t anyone seeing them? Is it really because I haven’t spent any money on advertising? Really? Is that all I have to do? Put some money in to advertising my shop? I don’t know. I guess the only way I will find out is if I actually try. Clearly just putting it out there on my personal and business pages on Facebook is not enough. Especially not on the business page thanks to the ever harder ways it is for your fans to actually see your posts without having to spend money there as well. Is that it? Do I have to spend money on Etsy, Google and Facebook to get these things out of my house?

What about blogging? I tried blogging, as you can see by previous posts, yet very few people actually read it. I have to assume I don’t have anything interesting to say. Or perhaps people don’t understand the twists and turns my mind makes. Or perhaps even still the topics I write on are not of any interest to anyone but me. I do not know. What I do know is I always end up coming to this place of wanting to throw my hands up in the air and give up, throw the towel in, crawl in to a dark little hole and cry my eyes out.

On a more spiritual note I know it’s because I have this great big tug’o’war happening. This push and pull of wanting to be seen and not wanting to be seen. It’s like a World War only my body is the world and the voice in my head are at war. Blood does get spilled but no one ever dies. They just go on and on arguing about the same things round and round like I’m on a merry-go-round. I guess that is why I keep feeling this shove to take action. I don’t know if it’s me, my Nana in her spirit form nudging me, the moon cycles, life cycles, or what, but it’s there and so I am here. Here typing my first blog in months because I keep hearing this whisper telling me to get to it. I keep having this desire to type or write or just dribble on about whatever comes to my head.

I think I have become so sick of listening to the inner debate that I am actually doing something. I am actually, meekly, weakly, timidly, putting myself out there to be seen then holding my breath as I wait. What am I waiting for? Some kind of action… or inaction. Y’know, inaction to prove that Inner Critic right about not being wanted, not being good enough, not being smart enough, loud enough, not wanting it enough, not having the proper skills, and on and on and on. Yet here I am. Typing to whoever bothers to read this (no one) and hoping something happens (nothing will). Don’t you just want to slap that Inner Critic? I do.

So we are sinking down to the new moon at the moment. The new moon is on Saturday. The day before my husbands birthday. It’s funny. I have known my husband since he was 17 and to think he is turning 35 on Sunday blows my mind away. When I think about turning 40 at the end of the year it’s ok. I almost feel like I’m already there anyway. However, my husband, my YOUNGER husband, is getting old *laugh*…. aaaaaand I went on a tangent.

As we sink toward the new moon, it’s a time of shedding the old and unneeded things in our life. It’s a time to wrap up projects and finish those things that are laying around waiting. It’s a time to start thinking about what you can let go of now in order to bring in new and fresh things with the new moon. So tell me, Constant Reader, what are you shedding right now? What is it you need to finish or let go of?

What is wrong with you?

So? What is wrong with you?

I’ll tell you what. Nothing! Nothing is wrong with you. Ever. Just because you don’t have a smile on your face or you don’t want to be friendly or you’re not perfectly dressed doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. What is wrong with asking what is wrong with someone? Well, it implies there is something wrong with them of course.

I’m angry. There’s nothing WRONG with me. I’m sad. There’s nothing WRONG with me. I’m hurt. There’s nothing WRONG with me. The implication that there is something wrong with me because I’m making you feel uncomfortable because I don’t feel like pretending to be ok when I’m not is disgusting. How dare you judge me for being wrong simply because I’m not being Miss Perfectly OK.

Don’t get me wrong (hahaha totally unintended pun there!), I have used that question so many times before. However just today it occurred to me that there is something wrong with that question. There is a hidden meaning within that question that implies unless we are happy, we are wrong. And that right there is wrong. Being anxious doesn’t make us wrong. Being sad doesn’t make us wrong. Having feelings and emotions does not make us wrong. It makes us human.

What is wrong with you? What a patriarchal statement. What a controlling statement. You must have something wrong with you if you don’t fit in to the little box my paradigm requires you to be in. You must have something wrong with you if you dare to rock the boat, if you dare to express an opposing opinion, if you dare to be true to who you are instead of toeing the line and conforming to the way society says you should be.

How about instead of asking someone what is wrong with them, we start asking someone what is happening for them right now, or what is coming up to be healed right now, or what is out of balance in your life right now. Rather than judging it to be wrong how about we judge it to be right, we welcome it, we open ourselves to hold space for someone else’s process, their journey, or even their shadow-side. Rather than try to hide it or mask it or make them get over it, how about we just honour their experience and allow them the space to feel whatever it is they are feeling without subconsciously leaving them feeling wrong for feeling something less than sparkly.

So you, Constant Reader, are not wrong. No matter what state you are in right now, you are perfectly perfect. Whether you want to rip your hair out in frustration or go lick someone’s inner thigh, whether you want to cry yourself to sleep or you want to whoop for joy, no matter your state of being there is NOTHING wrong with you. You are ok. You are safe and supported in being exactly who you want to be. Own your truth. Don’t let anyone tell you it is wrong. Don’t push it down or away. Let it stay as long as it needs to.

That doesn’t mean you need to buy in to the story in your head. No! That just means if you are sad, sit with that sadness. Just notice it. Don’t judge it. Don’t attach a story or people or situations to it. Don’t try to analyse it. Just sit with it and notice it and allow it space. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to laugh, laugh. If you need to scream just do it. No judgement. No attachment. Pure acceptance.

How do you do that? Well, when you find yourself thinking of what brought the emotion up stop yourself. Thank your brain and ego for showing you that information but let it go. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how you feel, not what you are thinking. So focus on the feeling. Where is it in your body? Does it sit in the pit of yours stomach or over your heart, is it in the back of your neck or the small of your back, perhaps it is residing in your left knee. Just pay attention to where it is. When those pesky thoughts of who, what, when, where, why come back up just thank them and let them go. Focus on the feeling. Where it is, what it feels like. Perhaps it is a dull throbbing, or a sharp stabbing, perhaps it is like 1000 butterflies or a stampede of elephants, maybe it is like a rush of water over pebbles or a sizzling pan of fat.

How long do you have to do that for? Until it dissipates and it will. It may take 10 minutes or it may take 10 hours but it will ease off and dissipate. It might come back again at another point in time but every single time you allow it space without trying to shove it down or shove it away, it gets easier and it will dissipate quicker. Every time you allow the feeling space after being triggered, the less that trigger will affect you.

It isn’t easy to do though. Don’t let this blog fool you. Everything is easier in theory. Seeing as most of us have spent a very large chunk of our lives squashing these feelings and making them go away because we’re constantly asked what is wrong until we believe there is something wrong with feelings, it makes it really uncomfortable to sit with them and allow them voice. Most of us haven’t done that since we were young children, since before the adults in our world taught us to push them down, to not express our feelings, taught us there was something wrong with doing that. So no, it’s not easy but really, is anything worth doing ever easy to begin with?

Just start taking small steps towards doing this. Even if you can’t sit with the emotions straight away, start to notice them, where they are in the body, what they feel like, then move on with your day. It’s time for us to start taking control of our emotions though, instead of letting them control us. It’s time for us to start stepping in to our power, instead of giving our power away to the people we attach these emotions to. So notice your emotions. Dis-attach from the story of the emotion. Chances are whatever your current story is simply a mask for a deeper wound that needs healing and hasn’t really got anything to do with what happened today. So forget about the story, just focus on the emotion. Allow it the space it needs, that’s why we are here, to experience emotion. Even when it’s hard. Even when it seems unbearable. Even when you think you just can’t take it anymore. Usually those feelings come up when you aren’t allowing the emotion space.

So give the emotion space. Are you hearing my message yet? Give your emotions space to be. Don’t give them a story, don’t exercise them down in to their little box, don’t eat to cover them, just allow them. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Allow. Sit in silence, with no distractions, and breathe. They WILL go away, I promise. Because nothing in life is permanent. We all change. Nothing stays the same forever. Nothing. You just need to hold the space for yourself to feel.

Mandala Talk and more

So much for posting a blog post every day this month! My life has been a bit of a paradox lately by being turned completely upside while still remaining the same. I am in this holding pattern right now which resonates with Mercury Retrograde which means while I am here ready finally and itching to move forward, I find myself stuck and waiting. In the void so to speak. Which is perfect for this months Great Round of Mandala study which is of The Void.

If you’ve been following my blog or just know me personally you will know I love mandalas. Creating them, teaching about them, sharing them. In my journey I came across The Mandala Workbook which you can find here: http://bit.ly/1xQw2gi It has exercises and information all about the Great Round of Mandalas and one of the most recommended mandala books if mandala work is something you wish to explore.

See, Mandalas can be a number of things. Anything that is contained within a circle is technically a mandala, as the sanskrit word for circle is mandala. A mandala can be just a piece of art, it can be a piece of art you meditate upon, it can be a view of your world, it can be a view of your INNER world where you can explore what is going on inside and find what needs to be healed or hear what your soul is yearning to tell you. It is the latter part that I am doing this year with the help of The Mandala Workbook, as well as the https://www.facebook.com/100Mandalas?fref=ts facebook group here and lastly with the guided help of Julie Gibbons who is running this very course for the year, you can find her here: http://www.juliegibbons.com/

So this month is the void. The void represents all sorts of things and one of them is winter which is also where I find myself in a bit of a paradox because it is the middle of summer here!! However, the part of winter the void represents is the hybernation part, the going within, the long dark… summer is so hot her that a lot of us end up going within as well, if only to seek respite from the heat! Despite it being Summer I find myself very much in the void right now. Like being in your mothers womb awaiting your birth. So studying the void is very fitting for me at this stage.

Thanks to Effy Wild I will never buy myself another journal again. I have way too much fun making my own, deciding how many signatures to put in each one, if it has a flap or hangy bits… in the end it makes it more personal. More my own. Since I do have such a big passion for mandala work I decided I was going to make a really BIG journal. I am not used to working this big! I know I will probably work on some big stuff within the pages though. After I bound the book (I am going to wait until it’s finished before I decorate the cover) I began to work on my title page, which is also my intention page.

RoundOne-Dedication

The mandala may seem a little plain compared to what I usually do, however I wanted to leave all that space for all the journalling I did within the container of mandala. In the very middle where the seed of life is I realised there was exactly enough spaces to write the word MYSELF. It took me a lot longer to do this piece than a work of art usually takes me. I find I often do things quick, rush things. The whole time I was doing this page though I kept getting the message to SLOW DOWN and TAKE YOUR TIME. It’s ok to go slowly, not to rush, at this time. So every time I felt myself with the tension of wanting to rush through the process I consciously made an effort to breathe and slow down. So it is my intention for the entire book to go slow. Something new for me!

The next page we were invited to do a ‘self-portrait’ which is something Julie Gibbons teaches in the Radiant Faces course on Effy Wild’s site. I absolutely loved that class and have done a few of them since then. Julie Gibbons goes on to say that every portrait you ever do is just another aspect of you, which I whole-heartedly agree with. It is why, even though the faces I draw may be different, I often look at them and feel like they all look the same. It is simply because they are just another aspect of myself.

RoundOne-SammStarrs

This one was such a ‘what if?’ process. I get a lot of what ifs as I am doing art, some I listen to but most I push aside and think later, I’ll so something like that later. Well, not this time. This time, in honour of delving deep and exploring what is within me, I did every single what if that popped in to my head. What if I put flowers on her cheeks? What if I gave her rainbow eye-shadow? What if I put pearls through her hair? What if I put a spiral within her pupils? Then as I was nearing the end I had the message to Shine your brightest no matter what. A timely message for me. I often find myself dulling my shine so other people are more comfortable, however lately I find myself reticent to do that. More and more I just want to shine as strongly and brightly as I possibly can. The more I shine, the more courage the people I love will have to shine as well!

So I really enjoyed how she (I) turned out. So much so that on the next page I’m doing a bunch of aspects of me mandalas, which is being an interesting process. Before I started that however I did a warm-up lesson on the void. The void is about simplicity and darkness so a mandala that represents the void is usually of a solid dark colour. The warm up lesson is about sitting and closing your eyes for 15 minutes with some charcoal or crayons in each hand and drawing two voids at the same time with both hands, then exploring how that made you feel.

RoundOne-WarmUp

I found my hands kept drifting away from each other to the outside of the page and I needed to consciously bring them together which I found interesting as either side of your body represents the masculinity and the femininity within each of us. Mine seem to be poles apart but I have this desire to bring them together. It has been an interesting process so far. Next I will do the actual Void Mandala and journal about that process. I really love anything that focus’ on self-discovery and self-awareness, especially if it leads to growth or healing. We don’t have to be broken, you just need to commit to doing the work and the healing. Are you willing to heal the hurts within and forgive and thank those who gave you the opportunity to experience the entire process? It’s no easy feat, forgiving those who have given you an experience of pain, but it is worth it, because the only person suffering from your feelings… is you.

In Joy!

Capricorns Rule!!

I know SO MANY Capricorns. It’s just birthday after birthday after birthday of some really beautiful, amazing, wonderful people! I love Capricorns! I don’t think I’ve ever met one that I don’t like. My best-friend in the entire universe is a Capricorn and my sister and I am so grateful. Her existence blesses my life and I am glad she’s reached her ripe old age and look forward to twice as many more of those years with her in my life. So, today is her birthday. I didn’t get to spend that much time with her, she’s having a fancy dinner and I’m not into that sort of thing at this stage of my life, her hubby had organised her some super special lunch so I didn’t want to intrude on that, my son had a dentist appointment this afternoon, so we went for a quick drive down the coast to see her this morning.

She wanted to go to this…. fun-house, called Infinity. I’d never heard of it before even though it’s apparently been around for years. But she asked me to go with her so I decided I’d buy her tickets and off we went and holy balls I’m so glad!!! It was SO MUCH fun. I would have had more fun and spent more time in each room if I didn’t have my Mr Bee with me. They do sell tickets to kids as low as 3 but they recommend the place for children only 8 and above. I wasn’t sure how he would go in there. He went fairly well though for most of it. It wasn’t until we got into the dance room with the flashing lights that he began to get over it, so I missed out enjoying a few really awesome rooms that I would have loved to have spent more time in because I had to rush him through it. I think it was just a little too much for his brain to assimilate at one time and he was feeling a little over-whelmed and out-of-body.

I had a lot of fun with my daughter in one room, she was the first one to walk in but before she even took one step in to it she froze. It made it look like you were going to just walk right out in to space and she was terrified and being the awesome mother I am I laughed at her and pushed her in. I loved it, I think it was actually my favourite room in there. She clinged to me like crazy and really didn’t want to move… now that I think about it, it was just after that when Mr Bee wanted out, so I ponder if her fear set him on edge and he took some of it on because at one point she was clinging to him. I was a little nasty at one point and pretended I had stepped too far and began to fall teehee. I’m so mean 🙂 But she took it good-naturedly, I don’t think there will be any lasting negative affects muahahahahahaha!

Anyway I highly recommend it for any Aussies reading this. If you go to the Gold Coast go check out Infinity:

http://www.infinitygc.com.au/

To finish off today’s post here is a very fitting and perfectly descriptive photo of my family (without the husbands)

INFI501132948335

In Joy!!

2015 so far!

I thought I would check in today and see how YOUR 2015 is going so far? Did you choose a word or words, or phrase for the year? Are you stepping in to it yet? Is it manifesting within your life, or are you consciously making a choice to use it? In what ways is it showing up for you? I’d love to hear your story.

I have chosen Communication and Focus. Well, the communication part seems to be coming through with myself! It’s been a long, long time since I wrote my feelings out, or wrote what was going on for me out. I used to do it all the time. I used to keep a written journal and write in it every single day, but because I tend to rabble I found it ended up taking up to much time!! Then I discovered art journaling and of course fell in love. It is my aim though to find a nice medium some how. I don’t necessarily want to be able to read my rabblings so I’m happy to do art over top, but then sometimes within my rabblings I gain some insight or have an epiphany that I would like to remember, in which case I could art around it. My point being, I have re-found self-communication which is wonderful. It gives me a chance to express myself without risk of harming others or myself, it gives me a chance to release feelings about situations that may have triggered me and actually have nothing to do with the situation at all, it helps me clear my head and understand the core of what is upsetting me and it gives me time to think and calm down. So communication is definitely manifesting in my life in the short one and half weeks of 2015 so far.

My other word was Focus. That I am still just a little bit fuzzy on. I’m still up in the air about what I want to offer as a Creative Alchemist. Until I can figure that out, how am I meant to market myself? Until I can figure that out I don’t even know who my people are! I’m hoping a coaching session with a friend of mine this coming week will help, though I’ve never done any kind of coaching session before so do not know what to expect and am a little anxious about it all. However, the Universe has offered this up to me in the form of my friend and I will welcome it open-heartedly! Opportunity knocks and I’m willing to answer no matter what kind of fear it creates because I know that the gold is where the fear is!!

In other news it’s the birthday today of an amazingly wonderful, talented, artistic, creative, loving, joyful, playful, pixie who I adore!

Best_happy_birthday_wishes-2

In other, other news, I’ve been drawn to collage lately and Jamie Ridler seems to be the Queen of Collage. I received an email of her today about how she recently found an old journal where she did a collage a day for a whole year!! She linked me to a video which you can go see here: http://www.jamieridlerstudios.ca/create-365-collage-journal/

Now I definitely do not have the time to do a collage a day, but I am considering doing a collage a week, or a month at least! Hmm, perhaps a week. That will still leave me with … well, 51 collages unless I do an extra one for that first week I missed. It could be quite an interesting little task and something amazingly visual to look back on. Collages can create an amazing story with a very clear feel to them. It could be a new way of journaling even! Perhaps the collages is something I will share with my email girls now that I don’t do the daily mandalas. I did say I wanted to send out a weekly email. Plus if I commit to doing that with my email newsletter than I’ll be more likely to stick it out and get it done each week! What do you think? Would you be interested in seeing my weekly collage and reading about how I chose the pictures/words or what my process was?

Feel free to leave me a comment or just say Hi 🙂 Thanks for reading! In Joy!

Copic Colouring!

Well, so much for posting a blog post every day for January! But I won’t beat myself up about that. I’ve been pretty busy the past few days and by the time I remember I’m way too tired and need to get some sleep. So today I thought I would share one of the projects I’ve been working on. I blame Amy Grigg 😉 See, she got some new copics for xmas and if you know me, you know I’m a little in love with copics! Well… she is just the same and rightly so! Her artwork blows my mind!

I met Amy via face painting, my weekend day-job. Her face and body art has always inspired me. I love her style, her use of colour and the fact she also loves to use black in a way I enjoy using black. So her art, whether on skin or other type of canvas, has always inspired me and appealed to me. So of course once she started using copics and found out what I’ve known for a year now, that copics are AMAZING, she was going to start producing MORE inspiring and appealing art for me to drool over! In fact, why don’t you go check out her newly created art page on facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Grigg-Fine-Art/765206946897790?fref=ts

I’ve been watching her so far this year and thinking I need to get back to my copics, as I’ve been completely obsessed with polyclay – which I am loving!! But nothing, I mean nothing, compares to copics for me. There is just something about them that I love, I really gel with them, they talk to me, they tell me what colours to use and how and I just follow their story. Someone commented on some of Amy’s stuff that she should create an adult colour-in book so I’m actually thinking that is something I would love to do. What do you think? Are there many adults out there who would enjoy having a colour-in book for them? How much would you expect to pay for such a book?

So I lived on Pinterest for awhile and looked through all my pins that I have saved for inspiration and found a few things I wanted to draw myself and finally did it! Yay! I can’t tell you how glad I am to have finally used some of the inspiration I’ve pinned instead of just having it sit there for no reason. So some of the illustrations I’ve done in a look at producing a colour-in book for the older kid, have been inspired by images I’ve found on Pinterest. At the end of the day though I did them by hand, I did not trace them or copy them exactly, they are my own art, just inspired by those who came before me, and isn’t that life? Are we not always inspired by those who come before us?

So this is the first image of my book without any colour:

Part One

I added those little lines to the middle of her neck. It was an experiment that I wasn’t sure would work out. I also wanted to add a line to where her collarbone is to give it a bit more definition. The image this was inspired by was also not a sugar skull and because I love sugar skulls and appreciate the ritual of the Day of the Dead I decided I would incorporate that in to the piece. After I scanned the image, in case I do want to use it as part of the book, I started adding some colour!!

Part Two

Well I’m happy with how the middle of the neck turned out. It really works for me. Do you think so? Or does it make her look too masculine? I just adore how easy it is to shade out a face with copic. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to do my normal crisp line shading which I love, or to blend it, but as you see I went with blending. It took me about an hour and a half all told to end up with this:

Part Three

I just love her! I love how she turned out! I was really enjoying watching my own personal style coming through as I was doing it. Sometimes I worry that when I look at others art, or am inspired by others art, that I will mimic them, but I don’t think I have done that. I have a certain way I like to illustrate and that is definitely visible in all my copic work. When it comes to other mediums there’s not necessarily always a telling style-factor that makes someone know it was mine, but I like to hope that when I do use copics there is something very distinctly mine about them. Do you see it? When you look at my copic work is there something very definitely Samm the Creative Alchemist about it? I’d love to know what you think? Do you love this finished piece as much as I do? Would you enjoy having a colouring book with her in it so you could colour her yourself in whatever manner you wish, with whatever colour combination and whatever medium you want? I’m really digging this idea! (thank you Carleen!!! <3 )

I’d love to hear from you guys if you have the time. Much love and blessings. In Joy!

Random rabbling

How can we be a whole week in to January already? That is just crazy talk! Yet here I sit at my laptop looking at the date and it is telling me it is January 7th already! What have I accomplished so far this year? Not a hell of a lot! What about you? Have you made any progress toward any goals you’ve made this year yet?

In fact, as I sit here and ponder the nature of the universe (not) I discover not only am I not moving forward but I seem to be moving backward. Some days I can fool myself in to believing I’m ok, then inevitably some kind of proverbial shit will hit the fan and crash bang boom I realise I’m not so ok. Then I feel bad about not being ok.

Do you ever get sick of yourself? Just over it all and wanna slap yourself upside the head cause you know what you need to do to make yourself better but you find yourself not doing that, or even worse, doing the complete opposite? That is me. I am so over myself! I want to kick my arse out of bed at 6am and start walking again in the mornings because I KNOW I feel better when I do that. I want to kick myself up the butt and drink a cup of water every hour again cause I KNOW I feel better when I do that! I want to kick myself up the butt and do some extra exercise cause I KNOW it helps create endorphins and endorphins make you happy happy joy joy! I want to kick myself up the hiney and get the house cleaned and organised and the shed, cause I KNOW I feel better when my house is neat and tidy and I throw away the clutter I no longer need. I want to slap myself upside the head for not doing any of this stuff even when I KNOW I feel better when I do.

Why must I feel so damn tired all the time? I’m so tired of feeling tired 🙁 I started Isagenix because I heard left and right about how people had so much more energy being on it and that excited me. Having energy excites me. If I had energy I could do more! I could be more! I could wander through life without feeling so heavy all the time and feeling like everything is such a struggle. Well, I’ve been using it for almost 2 months now and you guessed it, still no energy. I have spurts when I’m doing well and getting stuff done and I love that, but then I fall in to these days, weeks, forever, where I can barely lift a finger to type or do art. It is driving me bat-shit crazy but you know what is worse?! I know that if I walk, exercise, drink more water, eat lots of salad and stick to Isagenix properly and get heaps of sleep… I will be better. So why, why don’t I?

I’m sure my husband has that question run through his mind often. I’m sure a number of people who witness my journey think this thought. *I* think this thought. I have no answer. Neither does the one person in the entire world who gets it. Neither her nor I have no idea why I don’t do what I know I need to do. Well, at the end of the day, at least I have one person who really gets it, without me having to try and explain it… cause really, how do you explain it well enough to someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves, in a way that they would understand?

 

Almost forgot!!

It’s 9.10pm and I was sitting here thinking I would like to make 9.30pm my cut-off time for computer from now on. That I would like to shut it all down and if I don’t go to bed then I can use that time to focus on reading a book, doing arts n crafts, writing to penpals, or some kind of study or organisation for what is happening next in my life. Then I remembered I am committed to posting a blog post every single day this month!

I don’t really have much to report today. Not a single photo taken though I did grab some footage of my baby girl riding her new two wheeler bike for the first time today like she’s been doing it forever! I was so impressed. My little girl isn’t usually known for being very brave, she lets herself miss out on so much because she is too scared to try – much to my dismay and I have no idea how to help her. Yet here she was, jumping straight on her bike and off she went! She was so proud of herself, and so was I! It left me wishing I had my own bike as well. I’d love to take the kids to long bike trails and go for rides with them. It’s about time TeenBoy learned how to ride a bike don’tcha think? 🙂

I’ve always loved bike riding. I still remember the very first day I got my bike. I don’t remember how old I was, 6 or 7 maybe? You can tell how old I am when you see what my first bike looked like…

 

 

note: this is not my actual bike, image sourced from google images.

note: this is not my actual bike, image sourced from google images.

Yeap, they don’t make them like that anymore. I loved my bike so much. See the loop of metal at the back of the banana seat (that’s what it’s called, a banana seat)? I got on my bike and my dad held that and pushed me and off I went. Like my daughter I just got the hang of it straight away and loved it ever since. As a teenager I would happily ride the 7kms to school and then 7kms back every single day, often beating the school bus to the stop I would get off at. The breeze in my hair, the speed, the feeling of the gliding, the breath pounding in and out of my lungs, having to stand up when the wind was going against you but the fun easy and fast ride when it was a tail wind. Thinking about it now I’m not sure why I ever stopped riding a bike. Possibly because they have always been too expensive for me to own. After seeing my baby girl on the bike though I’m seriously pondering buying myself one and getting one of those bike fittings on my car so we can find some good long bike trails. Do you have a bike? Do you go on family bike rides? I think I’d be able to drag myself out of bed at 6am again for a bike ride…. maybe 😛

 

LifeBook 2015 – Lesson One with Tam

I finally finished my art piece in response to Tamara Leporte’s first Life Book class for 2015. As usual the photo just doesn’t do it justice.

02LB15

I walked in to my studio this morning and she just glittered and sparkled up at me from the table I had left her on all night to dry properly and seeing her just filled me with so much joy! The photo doesn’t show the sparkle of glitter all down the left side where the white bubbles are, nor does it show the bit of glitter held within the pentagram staff or the glitter in each petal of hair. It also doesn’t show that the pearls upon her brow are raised and also have bits of very small cosmetic grade glitter in it too. Then of course is the heart. Yeap, all filled with glitter. Oh how I love glitter!!

I love to use Tam’s classes as a kick-board as such to help me along with my own piece. As a general rule I watch her entire class first then go out to the studio and do what I remember in my head with my own person touches and slight changes. I really enjoy that we can do that with each lesson in Life Book or if you’re just beginning and learning you can copy her piece to the absolute letter.

As I was starting out doing the face of my ‘Beacon of Light’ the phrase ‘Love like your life depends on it’ floated through my head and I literally wrote it down on my desk. Yeap. In pencil on my desk. I know it won’t stay there and at the end of the day, it’s my art desk so I really don’t care what ends up on it! So right then I knew it was the phrase I was going to use in the piece. I also have a message in my magical lettering up the staff.

I wanted to show my beacon of light to be VERY happy and full of light so that is why I chose to lift her cheeks up so they scrunched her eyes slightly and give her a big open mouthed, toothy smile. Tam’s piece is all in golds and yellows but I really wanted a slightly different colour blended in with the whole thing but I didn’t want it to just be out of nowhere. So I did the background with a soft magenta and then used the same colour in her headwrap (I just remembered I was totally going to give her a knot and have it trail away like a scarf.. d’oh! I knew there was going to be something to help feel that large space on the left there!!) and also put it in her sleeves.

Of course I had to outline everything in my favourite sakura black glaze pen cause I just adore nice black outlines, I think it’s the illustrator in me. It keeps everything neat and in place!

I really enjoy doing mixed media work, however it’s not the stuff that makes my soul sing. Not like illustration does and using copics.

If you’ve been reading my posts so far this year you’ll know that one of my words for the year is FOCUS. The reason that came about is because I really want to focus on figuring out exactly what it is Creative Alchemy brings to the world. What exactly am I offering? It keeps floating around in my head in a confused misbehaving ghost that I seem incapable of putting my finger on and holding down so I can get a good look and feel for what it is.

I listened to Tamara LePorte’s interview over here this afternoon: http://thrivingartistsummit.com/summit2015/ and there were a few things she said that really stuck with me and one of the more potent things was to do what makes you happiest, or something along those lines. (I have an amazing memory but it is not eidetic!) So I pondered on that a little. Getting out in to my shed makes me happy – well, when it’s not boiling hot and sticky out there anyway. Getting to play with ALL my different supplies makes me happy, however what is it that I am happiEST playing with?

It really shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did to realise. For those who have known me for the past year at least, even you could have sat there, rolled your eyes at me, and told me what it is. Copics of course! My favourite medium is copics. I really do enjoy mixed media, and I would use my copics within the mixed media genre however they are SO precious to me and quite expensive that I don’t want to risk ruining a nib by using it on a medium that destroys the fibres or some such thing! I don’t want to use the inks in the refill bottles because they are expensive too, part of me wishes I had two full sets, one just for illustration and the other for mixed media. Or even a set of the cheaper mepxy brand.

So ok, got my favourite medium to work with, the one that I feel happiest using but I don’t want to sell them. What to do with them? I have a children’s book I’ve come up with but I’m really unhappy with the illustrations and I hate it when I have to do the same thing over and over and over again. I’m easily bored! That’s why I love having so many different projects going at a time with so many different mediums. Quilling, polyclay, painting, mixed media, illustration…. etc. So what then? OK, what do I love drawing? Dragons. Mandalas. Fairies. Mermaids. Yeah, but I don’t want to just sell prints. What is something else that stirs my passion? Again, listening to Tam mention how she never set out to be a teacher, people just said she would make a good one and eventually started asking her to teach them and a little bell went off in my head. I’ve heard a number of times from people how I would make a good teacher and I love teaching when I can push that fear aside. Ok, so teaching. Teaching copics? Well, as much as I know them inside and out and upside and all things in-between there’s only so many things you teach about copics before everyone is an expert.

So I don’t know. I still don’t have a clear focus on where I am going. But I feel a small step closer and that’s got to be good right? Teaching, copics, mythological creatures. I’d also love to add in my metaphysical healing, spirituality stuff as well. I do love teaching basics too because I think no matter how well you get in any particular field it is always good to go back to basics. *sigh* You know, I’m already on the path to what it is I want to do and offer with my business. You know what my issue is? I need to just do what needs to be done and at the moment I’m stuck having to edit videos and that is not something that makes me happy. It is tedious and mind numbing and a little daunting hearing myself. I just want to do the fun part of demonstrating to people then have it magically appear online, be marketed well enough that people want to pay me to learn from me and voila. Unfortunately that is not how a business is run when you are a solopreneur! When it’s just you, you have to do it all. You have to do the boring, tedious hard work, the nitty gritty minor details.

I should probably be doing some of that right now instead of sitting here blogging. Procrastinating yet again. I need to stop finding things to help me procrastinate. I want to get things done. The sooner I edit the last two videos of my beginner mandala course the sooner I get to start recording my beginner copic course! So shut up Samantha and FOCUS! Right?