Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My One Word Mantra for 2014 - Happiness

It's that time of year again! As 2013 begins to appear in the rear-view mirror it's time to choose a guiding word for 2014.  This is a real powerful way to set an intention for the whole year.  Setting a theme. A single word Mantra. Rather than New Years' resolutions, I find this to be an inspiring way to stay on purpose throughout the year ahead. 

The word you choose can be like having a North Star in view, a compass for navigating your way and you can check in with yourself to see how this word is coloring and shaping your experiences (and how you might be responding) and if you need to recalibrate or adjust course a little to stay on track.  

It's also quite interesting that sometimes the word can act in reversal, highlighting for us all too clearly where we might be resisting and blocking the flow of having that thing, that energy in our lives. Then we can heal that block and open up it instead.

So here it is! 2014 will be my year of exploring *happiness* - it just intuitively feels very right - very right now. 

To some that word may seem a little trite and perhaps over-simplistic... but this is me we are talking about here and I never undertake such things without much forethought and tuning in to what my heart wants and truly needs.

"I must be a Mermaid. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living" ~ Anais Nin

Just the other day I received a newsletter from one of my shamanic teachers and he was describing his recent visit to the Deer Park Buddhist Monastery in Southern California, and he observed that in front of the beautiful meditation hall there was no statue of the Buddha on the altar, only some fruit and the words written large enough that he could read them from the door : "this is it!"  

That really struck a chord with me. Yes indeed, this is it - Life! In this very moment, no rehearsals, the main event is underway right now. 

And in that vein I want to spend my year engaging in what brings me feelings of happiness (what we focus on increases after all!) and much less on the things that don't matter. And I'm starting with this book... 

It's a quirky, very honest and engaging personal exploration, written in the spirit of self-reflection and analysis, and reminds a bit of Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat Pray Love'.

Wishing you all a beautiful year ahead! Happy 2014!

Follow along on the 'Word for the Year Blog Hop' and read what other artists and creatives are setting as their intention over here : http://fly-tribe.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/word-hop-2014.html

• • •My journey through the senses• • •
taste:: My carrot, cucumber & ginger vege juice blend I drink in the morning has me bouncing with energy!
smell:: Rose and Violet incense from India
touch:: Pages of a real book - nothing can match it - down with Kindles.
see:: Winter breezes moving across water - perfectly hypnotic.
hear:: The Doors - Moonlight Drive
think:: Good thoughts
feel:: Pleasantly surprised.
read:: A blog post by Waylon Lewis at Elephant Journal on more ways to make us happy : http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/21-non-spiritual-things-that-make-us-happy/
intuit:: What the gypsy might say?

Monday, 23 December 2013

Yule Tide Sparkle - New Supplies!

A Wuthering Heights-worthy storm is blowing up outside and I'm snuggled indoors, watching the slate clouds through the window. They zoom across the stark tree-silhouetted sky, buffeted by high winds that pushes them onward... Rain pounds the windows. It's morbidly romantic weather and today, I just love it.

The holidays are over and it's back to work again through till my Birthday in early January. 

Taking a short break to celebrate Yule and the Solstice was wonderful. I relished the s l o w leisurely pace, lazy breakfasts, long walks, bookstores, movies and divine dinners with my man. 

The Postman brought new shiny things to play with in the studio. 
This Faber-Castell colored pencil set completely delights me... What can I say? New art in the works with this gorgeous rainbow of colors. Moments like this add a lot of of sparkle to an otherwise windy grey day! 
Cat xo

Friday, 20 December 2013

The Art Heist...and how I became Mark Rothko

It's a midwinter day, the longest night of the year is tomorrow, a good time for firelight, getting cosy warm and sharing stories and wonder tales. 

My word for 2013 has been 'Expressive', and this Ghost story (a ghost of a pastel painting past) and the telling of it, feels like a fitting way to lay an old ghost to rest before a New Year begins and a new word unfolds.  So come in close... I have a tale to tell......

"The bond that links your true family is not one of blood but of respect and joy in each other's lives. Rarely do members of the same family grow up under the same roof." ~ Richard Bach.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called New Zealand, a twenty-something artist called Cat was busily working on a magical piece of art. It was a large oil pastel painting of a Crimson Phoenix, raising up from ashes and flames, set against a graduated dark royal purple and bright aqua-turquoise background. 

After days of intense focus, this vast work was finally completed and she set about placing it under glass, inside a very clean-looking white wooden frame. This frame was a recycled one. It once contained an art print, quite a famous one actually, by an American artist called Mark Rothko entitled "Purple, White and Red".  [A rather lovely photo of it can be seen on The Art Institute of Chicago's site]

That framed print had been given as a gift to someone else upon leaving their accounting job in the City. They didn't really care for the Mark Rothko print, so that print was taken out and the frame left empty to be re-used. And so our Crimson Phoenix found it's way into that white frame, to be hung on the wall of Cat the artist's home for several happy years.

Some time later, Cat was leaving New Zealand to head out into the world to seek her fortune. She left the Crimson Phoenix in safe keeping at her Mother's house to be collected later. Her mother and sister didn't believe she would be gone for long, six months or so maybe at most, and then she'd come back home again after a "long holiday", so they didn't worry about going out to the airport to see her off and say goodbye. 

The artist travelled through Buenos Aires, and on again up to Rio de Janeiro, finally arriving in England where she settled in a tiny town in Somerset. Two years passed, and she decided it was time to pay a visit to her old homeland once more... So back to New Zealand she went one Christmas Eve. 

It felt like a good time on this visit, to collect the Crimson Phoenix and take it back with her to England. 

Only the oil pastel painting had gone! 

When she asked her Mother, it was finally revealed that the Crimson Phoenix had been sold! Oh dear. 
Never once had the Mother thought to check in and ask if this painting was still wanted, instead she had seen the sticker on the back-board of the painting saying 'Mark Rothko - Purple, White and Red' and proceeded to telephone around various Art Galleries in the City to enquire as to the value of this original Mark Rothko work of art. 

The Galleries were surprised indeed, that an original Mark Rothko painting, of a bird had been found in a sleepy (near to) seaside town in Auckland, New Zealand! They tried to explain to the Mother, to help her understand that this artist Mark Rothko didn't paint Phoenixes rising from the flames, and so it was rather unlikely that it could be a Rothko painting. But the Mother was adamant. After all there it was...right in front of her. She could see the artists strokes and marks of the pastels through the glass. It was definitely an original Mark Rothko!  

The Mother listed it for sale - a Mark Rothko original - in a City-wide newspaper... and a flamboyant gentleman who owned a hairdressing salon on Parnell Road (or perhaps Ponsonby Road) purchased the Crimson Phoenix to hang in his upmarket salon...

A case of mistaken identity!   

Unfortunately all questions as to the purchase price paid and presumed value of this Crimson Phoenix were brushed under a rather large magic carpet and it was never going to be openly discussed again. And so the artist Cat is still waiting to this day for any word of apology or financial recompense.  
And so it was it a faraway place called New Zealand... once upon a long time ago. 

The End. 

The moral of the story.... 
Well maybe it could be.... Things aren't always as they appear, even if there is a perfectly legit sticker attached.... or.... if you think you might know who the real artist is more likely to be, you can always flick them an email, or give them a quick call to ask them yourself, whether or not the name in their passport really is Mark Rothko! 

Have a beautiful Mid-Winter Solstice! 
Cat (the artist)  xo

Friday, 13 December 2013

The Raggle Taggle Gypsy Rover

Dear Readers,

It's been rather a long time since I've posted here... yet despite it, I see some of you wonderful folks have been checking in regularly and I thank you for that. I feel like I'm finally rousing from a long hibernation at the first stirrings of Spring (that's an internal metaphor by the way, as we are still a little way from Springtime here in England) Anyway, I've been very much off-grid but can at last feel a new day dawning.

Life has taken some interesting turns since August, with a big house move into a property that has unwittingly turned out to be most unsuitable. 
You need to watch out with houses numbered '7' - that includes all the numbers that in combination you can add down to the single digit, like 61 & 16, 52 & 25, 34 & 43, 115, 214 & 313 - you get the picture. These are houses for quiet reflection and solitude, ideal spaces for mystics and dreamers.  Ruled by the water element they are prone not only to leaks, plumbing issues and damp but also to illusions of not appearing at first glance what they truly are, often seeming bigger or smaller than they are in reality... and so it has been here for us on all of those counts!

This week the landlord has finally consented to release us early from this rather ill-fated tenancy so he can carry out the much needed work to bring the property up to standard and we can find somewhere new to go and move forward again. 

Two moves in two months is extreme even for me, and this next move will take me to 14 house moves in 12 years. So many things can happen with rental properties here in England, and I think I've pretty much seen it all! From landladies returning from a long sojourn in Spain and wanting their cottage back, the landlord and his wife ending their marriage and needing to sell and divide their assets, step-daughters wanting to go to University and step father consents to them living rent-free in the home you've been in for 3.3 years. It's interesting...anything can happen.

Not all of these moves have been driven by circumstance however... some have been bold and deliberate moves, like relocating half way across the country to a town I just HAD to live in (led by an inner prompting and wishing to follow a deep call to growth and Soul evolution) then going away when the time felt right, 200 miles north to be with an incredible man up in the wilds of North Wales, then moving right back across the country (with him this time) back to that same town again and finding it was completely different the second time around - but hey, so was I!

And right now I'm feeling every inch the itinerant Raggle Taggle Gypsy Rover.

So there are still changes to come, we're not out of the woods yet!

And speaking of out in the woods, as the shortest day of the year swiftly arrives here to the Northern Hemisphere next week, that most powerful day will see me heading out to spend time with my three precious Mandrake plants hidden in the woods. 

I realise how they help me to feel strangely timeless and deeply rooted into Earth wisdoms.  I grew them from seed* in a ritual bound with moon cycles 5 years ago and planted them out at the new moon a couple of weeks back... It felt like a profound act of creativity having Mothered these truly remarkable little beings till they became strong independent root-people who flowered for the first this year.

I'm talking like the proud hippie green-fingered herb-mama I am.  

Blessings of beauty,
Cat xo

* Botanists will attest to how difficult it can be to get Mandragora Officinarum to germinate from seed. They can be the most pernickety, contrary plant imaginable. And if you CAN get them to germinate the young plants are prone to bouts of narcolepsy, with no clear pattern to it, suddenly dropping into deep hibernation... their humans will often think their plant has died, but if they can just wait it out, quite suddenly out of the blue one day when the Mandrake is good and ready, new leaves will suddenly sprout again! They really are a law unto themselves and completely fascinating to be around.  

• • •My journey through the senses• • •
taste:: Vegetarian pizza - so perfect when everything calls for a comfort food moment.
smell:: Fir trees and needle-scented footpaths while walking into town
touch:: Little root-people gently lowering into new ground
see:: Things from a completely new angle
hear:: A hawk calling overhead
think:: If I'm gonna be moving around like this, maybe it's time for a horse-drawn wagon!