At the end of December 2015 I bought 2016 Create your shining year in life 2016 workbook by Leonie Dawson. I was very excited to reflect and plan in the lead up to Christmas, as I felt it detached me from all the Christmas craziness I used to feel. I also got started on my vision boards early and gave the layout of them a new look.
I connected with others that also bought Leonie Dawson’s book and even hosted a few online masterminds where learning about bullet journaling and the miracle morning changed my whole year for the better! As I used those tools, I gradually stopped using the diary and now have come to realise one point focus is a lot more beneficial and something I need to instil with my goals and daily tasks than the list of 100 things I made in the workbook.
The section I continued to follow throughout the year until recently as a one point focus is important, was the 100 things to do in 2016. A big list of silly, joyful, big, small, creative goals. I only wrote 72 and have completed 26.
Here is my list for inspiration to others and links to posts and videos:
I first became interested in feminine psychology while on retreat with The Champernowne Trust, I was flicking through a book called Outside In, Inside Out on Feminist Psychology while in the basement art studio and stumbled on a word that opened up my curiosity and would start a series of art works. The word was autonomous:
‘To be Autonomous, to have a sense of self, to feel nurtured, to feel less insatiable, does not mean one does not have needs; what it does mean is that the basis of the needs has shifted, and that opens up the possibility that they can actually be met’.
Little did I know it then but I was undergoing my own Feminist Therapy, focusing on empowerment and breaking the stereotypes and moulds of tradition that can block personal development and growth.
As I learn more I’m finding it really fascinating, from a female perspective, a lot of lessons and experiences come from other females and western societies pattern of thinking. When you make small, significant shifts to your patterns in thinking, a whole world opens up!
Through what I read, I unraveled, cut out book excerpts and painted around them, totally to 4 pieces of wisdom about/for women.
To experience feeling love and being loveable – this separates old thinking as a need to be in love. Instead to feel the love from others, around, within.
I am worthy of good things and worthy of living my own life, stating that I already am enough, to look within for approval, not from others.
It healed some old wounds in feeling controlled as ‘above all it is about being loved by another woman and helped by her to grow and become separate’.
Though I am independent, I have had many times in life where I have felt carried by another, or waited for them to carry me. The ‘grow and become separate’ came a lot later and is a key point I will continue to work on and my future children too.
To set true boundaries and have the confidence to apply them and work towards an understanding with others.
If you attempt to do all the changing inside your head it becomes a very internal experience. Transforming an experience comes from using all our senses and we can control it in reality.
When we experience being listened to, we become less needy, less anxious and less critical.
When we build on a women’s sense of self, she can be herself – all of herself, wherever she is. This is especially important as I’ve done and witnessed women become less of themselves, alter themselves and not live in their fullness. Being out whole self and living that is of utmost importance. Why should we change for others? Let’s show up as our whole selves.
‘She no longer becomes the person she feels others want her to be. She no longer compulsively adapts her personality to fit the needs of others in order to feel accepted. She reflects instead her own sense of being alright and secure within herself and meets situations and relationships with this new substantive feeling.’
When a women’s dependancy needs change, that is the game changer. Through life experience whether it be from parents, school, friends, children, we may find ourselves with a dependance, a need for someone or something. Or we may feel others dependancy needs transferred onto us.
When you detach your needs and say ‘I do not need ____ in the same way’ you discover your sense of self doesn’t come through them or it, you have a self already.
This year for my birthday – turning 27! We were planning on going to Glastonbury, as there are little interesting attractions, shops and cafes. As the 29th was getting closer and pay day came plans changed – we went to Brighton (again). We’ve visited so many times we even know where to park all day for a few pound.
The great things about Brighton are: It’s close enough to drive to in a day, there are always more things to do, each time is different! We first went when we were newly together and visited Preston Manor, another time we went to Sea life aquarium, to the annual Fiery foods chilli festival and a night out one Halloween.
Last week I went to what used to be Reading Prison and is now open to the public to view the building, art and writing.
I think it’s a really interesting experience, it’s full of history and feelings of ‘people used to walk this path that I’m on but in an entirely different way’.
The booklet you get on entrance fills you in with interesting facts and about the cells and the creative works featured. It was the first time I’ve heard Oscar Wilde was in there for two years as back in 1895, being gay (having sexual relations with same sex) was a crime.
If your going there to find a lot of art then you will be disappointed, the art is minimal but I think that adds to the mystery of the place. I found it really interesting, like being in an episode of Prison Break. I liked reading letters on the tables in the cells as they were so raw and poetic, especially a letter Ai Wewei wrote to his son. I liked seeing portraits by Marlene Dumas and glasses with the most detailed refections by Peter Dreher.
It’s a good place to take in a different environment and get inspired; I drew in my sketchbook, some people took photos and others on their film cameras.
Inside is a project by Art Angel, Reading Prison is open till 4 December, tickets are £9 per adult and you can find out more to book your place here.
From the beginning stages I had felt this to become a self portrait and bit by bit I developed into something I liked. This is one of those times I can say – painting 10 minutes a day really paid off.
My first self portrait that I did in 2012, was expressive and showed what I felt and had in that year it may not of been any ‘good’ but it was my expression of my life. This too is expressive but in another way, I didn’t want to focus on what I have, possessions, dreams and ideas.
I chose colour, lightness and to signify a new chapter by including my spiritual name – Ajeet (overcomer of obstacles) Amrita (opening of the heart to golden grace) Kaur (princess/lioness).
The hair is made up of a combination of acrylic and tempera paint, I don’t have any dark brown acrylic so I used what I had. Applied vigorously has made cracks appear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I wanted a way to show the grey hairs I have and this accidentally fits that!
I am very out of practise in blending facial tones, even for folk art, so that is something I will continue to learn and develop.
This painting has gone through many changes, I think around 20+ layers and had been on my easel for a year till I was reading the story each day and what I was reading came through onto the canvas.
The figure is the one thing that stayed, I knew it was going to be the central piece and it worked out well that much like the story, my figure is expanding from the heart centre and reaching out. The words were inspired by visionary artist Howard Finster (1916-2001) who I saw on a Raw Vision magazine cover issue 86.
I didn’t plan to write as much as I did, though I find writing with a paintbrush therapeutic, there were so many good nuggets of encouragement and wisdom from Martha Beck, I filled the entire space!
As I read a post on Facebook about an Art and Psychology week coming up that I could easily drive to, I knew as first clicked onto it I had to go. I quickly organised time off as it seemed something I had to follow through and arranged how I was going to pay for it last (usually this is the first thing I do, everything was being done in a different order!)
I am interested in psychology and conscious living and dream theory interested me, the prospect of an 24 hour art studio which really excited me. Also it was only in Windsor so very close by.
When I arrived I was greeted by cheerful older adults who gave me my introduction pack and welcomed me. Soon after we all gathered in a room for a meeting, more and more people came in all 10-50 years older than me and they all looked like professionals looking around me I felt out of place. I thought to myself I’m on the wrong course. I wasn’t, this was Champernowne Summer School and it would turn out to be the most interesting 5 days I could have.
My first instinct was right, everyone at the course was either a Psychotherapist, retired Psychotherapist or a full time Artist. So as a full time support worker and part time artist I wanted to kick myself that this was some sort of break away from the stress of their jobs, for those professionals to relax but also learn while away.
Not for people interested in Psychology and Art to learn at a beginner level. My inner dialogue support system nudged me – You are welcome everywhere, a self actualised person doesn’t notice the difference between others in a new situation they just be themselves. So that’s exactly what I did, I relaxed a little and despite a few odd stares and introverted individuals (even more so than me) questions, all was well.
From a tour I had when I first arrived, I could tell the art space would be somewhere came a lot, down the spiral stairs and underground was the basement art studio.
There were acrylic paints, tempera paints, ink, pencils, pens – many art supplies! My only hang up was there was no canvas, only paper. My mind whirred with questions Are there going to be any canvases? How can I do layers on paper? Could I drive home and get my toothbrush that I forgot and canvases? That seemed logical- something I need and something I want! Could I cope with just paper? Ordinarily I would have been ok with paper, though as I was away for 5 days I really wanted to make some art, I enjoyed using paper in the online course Painting with fire, this time I wanted a different experience.
The benefit of being away, even if it felt like the ‘wrong’ course was that I was in Windsor and the rooms inside Cumberland Lodge were to me pure luxury. The long tables at meal times proved to be an excellent chance for people to chat casually about how they felt and meet each other once again or for the first time. It was here that I met a lovely lady who dramatically changed my whole week!
It was at the tables that I had a conversation with at least 3 people who said either in a previous year or this time round they wanted to leave the course, they came up with a get out plan and almost left. I mentioned before had a similar experience in wanting to go come and get more art supplies, though I wouldn’t of actually gone for good, at £795 all inclusive I was staying put.
As I was partly on a Psychology course I thought that maybe this experience was part of the course, to get us out of our comfort and get us through our need to escape, maybe just maybe it was part of a transformation. The other logical cause was everyone had developed a dopamine deficiency and weren’t getting enough enjoyment. Anyway, it interested me and each person had a different ‘escape plan’.
The quality I first liked most form the course was the schedule, and as it was a holiday, you weren’t required to join in every activity, nor was it crammed full of exciting workshops. This meant that you had more time to yourself, if you didn’t go to a seminar – you found you had a few hours free to do whatever you pleased. Though if you wanted to you were welcome to join in Tai Chai, Dreaming Matrix (I later found out that it was a very interesting experience) and morning singing then you could!
The only workshop you were required to go to each day was the individual psychotherapies topics, you chose out of writing, drama, fairytales and dance. I chose fairytales and it was such a great experience listening to and discussing about the meaning and significance for people through folk tales. I had’t explored them since reading Woman who run with wolves by Clarrisa Pinkola, a must have book for girls and women everywhere. The workshop fully opened me up to my own power and that of stories. The in depth workshop and inner work that came from it made being on the course very worthwhile!
My best experiences in using my free time was on my own in the studio, which I will explain about soon, taking my yoga mat and doing Sadhana at dawn outside, writing morning pages, reading Flow magazine in bed, meditation time in my room and reading fairytales at the curved sofa cushions.
I had experiences with another too, that without I properly would have done my usual and kept myself to myself reading a book, writing or planning! Such as morning Kirtan singing, chatting about interests, chatting, chilling out and riding a bike to see deer. We also presented a sing along in presentation evening of Wah Yantee (a creativity and intuition mantra). This special person was the only friend I met on the course and we continue to be!
I also had an interesting but incredible experience when it came to producing art. Usually everything I do is within a few feet of my supplies, I brought a bag of my own but it still didn’t feel enough. I flicked through a cool art book I bought for inspiration and encouragement and still nothing. I was blocked. 100% blocked. In a 24 hour art studio which I could go to 5 days if I wanted.
So I did what I could to climb out of my blocked pit of self expression and I wrote on paper with brush and ink. I couldn’t paint but I could write. I didn’t want to write I wanted to paint so writing with a paint brush seemed a good compromise. I wrote then added gesso as a base then cut it up to make smaller pieces as I wanted to go along with my original and practical idea of starting to make art pieces that were easier to store in my creative space. I then did a big piece with an orange background and stamped my hand prints all over it, just to get frustration out a little and even someone that can’t paint can do handprints.
My inner support dialogue kept reminding me ‘It must look like I know what I’m doing to other people because I’m painting and I do art, but I don’t have a clue! I’m pretending to know and making it up as I go. It looks like I know but I don’t I’m just getting through a HUGE block’. Little did I know that that was the biggest act of surrender and letting go was what I most needed!
What occurred in the week creatively was incredible in terms of my attitude and how I felt, for without the normal daily duties to do and more time and space to be myself – my intuition came to play – literally!
Through a series of circumstances someone giving away psychology books led me to read and listen to my intuition to go back to my room get my books and collage pages about feminine psychology-it was fascinating stuff. A woman told me about a band called Bliss after our mantra evening and I listened to the beautiful tracks Stop Me, Calling and Trust in your love while painting and reading. It must have looked chaotic but it was a process that felt right and I followed it.
My intuition came to play outside of the art studio too as I felt I wanted to explore the upper levels of the lodge, which I did to find more vibrant paintings on the walls. I also became sensitive to noticing people around me, that on their first days they seemed so tense and rigid and by day 4 and 5 were lost looser and lighter, even I felt lighter.
The week I was away, I decided as no one knew me, to cover my head with white cloth and purple scarf. (I cover my head while doing my morning yoga (Kundalini) and I’m learning about Sikhi and to me covering my 7th Chakra, having a sense of containment while doing activity that requires clarity of thought and cover my most precious part.
While they seem like good enough reasons to me, to others it is a new thing, people are skeptical, it is met with some resistance and I feel shy doing it. Partly because I don’t have a proper head covering or turban yet and also that I haven’t seen a single head covered white woman in my local area, it makes me a little unconfident to do what I want.) However covering my head was the best thing I could have done, as that experience reminded me I could be myself around others completely!
I now cover my head fully a lot more at home even after my morning practice, and I’m doing a combination of hair in bun, headband and scarfs at the moment.
At the end of the week I put my art papers into a line across the wall infront of me to see I had made some sort of story… I had without any effort at all, this was all down to my intuitive self, made a series of art work themed on Feminine Psychology and Relationships, something I had wanted to do for a long while but couldn’t quite begin.
On the last day I wanted to celebrate my artist self with 1 hour of play, I used whatever I felt drawn to ink, tempera, powder paint and let go, still with the notion ‘I don’t actually know what I’m doing I’m just painting’. I used the fact I had paper to my advantage (by now I totally forgot about my longing for canvas) and folded, screwed up and threw my creation, then carried on painting till a figure appeared. This got me thinking about how I could use my energy to help others unblock and to explore ideas of a creative guide further.
It’s thanks to Champernowne that I came back from a retreat feeling as if I’d just gone through therapy and come out the other side ok! With my creative spirit in tact and growing wings.
I think with older people there I felt ‘held’ by the wisdom and encouragement of others. It inspired me to continue painting, to seriously add yoga training to next years plan, to trust my intuition more and use me time to read and appreciate time to slow down and let go.
Champernowne.org holds Summer courses for people in helping professions combining lectures with workshops, art activities and free time! Courses take place every two years, the next is in 2018.
I wanted a Hamsa of my own to have all the elements I had seen of others – spirals, circles, swirls and be unique to me, so I drew one out. Half thinking ‘this is crazy I probably won’t get this tattooed this week so this could be a giant waste of time’ the other half thinking ‘this is just incase, incase I find a tattooist I am prepared to get it done’.
I knew that nearby to my hairdressers was a tattoo place that possibly accepted walk ins or else I would book for another day. I walked around for a bit looking at my map app and at my surroundings and couldn’t find it. I took a new route home (I wasn’t even sure it was the right way home), I turned around to look back at the shops – and there it was.
I walked in and showed the cheerful tattooist my drawing, he made some alterations and a little while after it was all done!
My original thoughts and feelings towards getting and having a Hamsa tattoo have altered a little overtime, or rather some things I still hold true and others I feel my attitude has changed for the better.
I was originally drawn to the Hamsa hand because it widely meant – peace, happiness, good fortune, protection from evil and the goodness of God. I think these are good reminders to living a happy true life.
I felt that just like my ‘alive’ tattoo they would hold a strong meaning to keep going to live my dreams and mark a new chapter of life. Also after reading Feel the fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers I wanted to mark the statement ‘I can handle it all’ on me, with a hand.
All meanings – values to live by, a new chapter and handling everything in life are still present.
I think the biggest difference is that the novelty and magic has subsided for a more realistic point of view. Day to day, the greatest reminder comes through of my Hamsa is of faith of God/the Universe that everything is working out perfectly, the power and courage to be my true self and to hold inner peace and stillness in times of chaos.
I can glance at my arm and remember ‘choose love’, ‘everyone is different’, ‘nothing can bring you peace but yourself’.
I’m reading Conversations with God by Neal Donald Walsch in it he writes about life not being a series of ‘lessons’ (something I have always gone by) but of remembering. I think reading that, listening to talks by Abraham Hicks and meditating is allowing me to be who I am, appreciate life and God/the Universe.