“Surround yourself with people who add value to your life. Who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. Who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t to be done alone. Find your tribe and journey freely and loyally together.” -Alex Elle
When I gave my speech at the last art show I had I couldn’t help but mention my tribe. This group of strong and courageous women I have gotten to know has helped me be the person I am today. I believe our tribe must consist of women (if you are a man, then men) who bring us up rather than down. Who speak highly of us rather than down to us, who help us grow rather than wither. They are a positive influence in our lives, they give us life and make us laugh. They are there for us in times of heartache and trouble. We must cherish our tribe members and make each other better and stronger.
In my speech I also spoke about symbols. The symbol I always use is gold. I place a gold dot on the neck of all the women I paint. Why? Gold for me represents digging deep to find that vein of gold that then leads to the nuggets of gold. Once we find them then we can shine. It takes a lot of work and perseverance. I started the digging process 7 years ago. I wanted to find my true calling and passion. I lacked self confidence and went through a depression. I forgot who I was as a person. I knew I once was an artist and wanted to become a teacher but that all got lost in motherhood. I love being a mother too but I also wanted to find me again. Here I am today and it feels so good to be me and to shine my light through my paintings and life coaching. My mission as an artist is to help other women find that again. To find their inner light and bring it out for the world to see.
When I was done with my speech everyone including myself was teary eyed. I asked all the women to imagine what it would look like if I painted a portrait of them. What symbol would I incorporate in their painting? They wrote it on a piece of paper and we had a drawing. We gave out fun prizes (free blowdrys and a book I wrote). I had each winner talk about their symbol. Symbols ranged from a hummingbird to a hand (symbolizing giving). It was quite a magical experience.
I believe we all have a symbol, it could be anything. Another one of my symbols is a butterfly. Everytime I see one it reminds me of my dad who passed away a few months ago. I see one and I am reminded of his soul’s lightness and freedom after living such a difficult life. What is your symbol my creative spirit? Please comment and share below.
Let your inner light always shine and namaste!
Whenever a thought or vision comes to my mind I have to grab it before it disappears into the ether of the universe. I am constantly trying to use my imagination. I still believe in fairies, unicorns and forests filled with magical, funny creatures. I will never lost that inner child in me. I remember other kids wanting to grow up so quickly, I thought they were nuts. I knew the beauty of childhood then and I see it even more now through my own children. Have you every watched a child play on their own? It’s a magical universe they have created and it’s so captivating to watch.
I tell my daughter every night to dream about the fairies and unicorns. Sometimes we tell stories to one another and make up our own fairytales. Imagination is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it. It’s a beautiful gift we all have but it slowly disappears as we enter adulthood. “Reality” sets in and we have to see the world the way society wants us to. We have the choice to choose our own reality.
The picture above is right after we finished our photo shoot. These are my twin cousins Leah and Sophia. They look so much alike that many can’t tell them apart. But they are different in so many ways. When I paint my subjects I am able to feel their energy and vibes and bring out their true essence. After they were painted they looked so different. They have their own unique personalities, ideas and talents. They are their own person, not one. We are all unique and special in our own way. We each have our own genius to share with the world.
When they were done being painted they danced and played with my daughter in the imaginary world I created. The world of fairies, pixie dust, love, lush gardens and magic. Where is your imagination? What did you imagine as a child? Do you still remember? Can you bring him or her out to play for a bit? I promise it will be lots of fun! Have a dreamy day my creative spirits! Don’t forget to say hi to all the little elves for me, they are hiding behind your garden gnomes. Comment below and let me know where your imagination has taken you.
I was at my students house and I had my 5 year-old daughter with me. She loves to join my classes with the permission of the parents of course. I was ready to leave and I could not find my keys. I turned beet red out of embarrassment and slowly began to lose my cool. I really tried to remain calm but it was a brand new car and I was turning into a nervous wreck. I even accidentally dropped my daughters canvas on the cream carpet, green paint smeared everywhere. I also got green paint on her sweater and on my purse. It was quite a sight to see. Probably comedic if I was an outsider watching in. Thoughts of “I always lose things” and “why does this always happen to me?” began to play repeat in my already frantic mind. My mom once said “every time something good happens to us, we get struck by lightning” and that began to play over and over again in my head. I even texted my sister and one thing she said that resonated so much with me was “STOP, that is not your story!”. This was not my story, good things happen to me because I worked hard for it and I am deserving of it. That is my story! Bad things happen because they just do and it all depends on how we look at it. We searched everywhere and just could not find my keys. My husband drove over with the spare keys. I still felt awful.
When I went to bed that night I kept envisioning getting a text from the parent of my student saying “Good news! We found your keys!”. I then let it go. What else could I do? I woke up and around 9am I saw the text, “Good news! My mom found your keys in the toy box!”. I was thrilled! My daughter was playing with the toys and she must have taken my keys and dropped them in there. She denied it but I know she did it because I sure didn’t! “When we surrender our will to the power of the universe, we receive miracles”, a great quote from Gabrielle Bernstein that is true in so many ways.
A few years ago I never thought I would be selling my artwork or even teaching. Little miracles kept happening that placed certain circumstances and people in my way to help guide me. There have been many many times where I felt lost but I eventually found my way. I kept envisioning my next art show or selling my work and it happened. Did it happen over night?? Hell no! It takes time and so much patience. I also developed a thick skin from many rejections but that has never stopped me. My next art show is coming up on March 16th that my beautiful friend is so kind enough to host. I have this group of loving and supportive people around me that I could not do all of this without. I am always filled with gratitude.
Comment below and let me know when the universe has had your back and if you have had moments of feeling lost and then finding your way out. You can also visit my website at http://www.sherylbenjy.com for a little bit of inspiration and love. I will end with this quote that is again by Gabrielle Bernstein, “In the midst of darkness, grab a flashlight.” Cheers to you my creative spirits!
My daughter was only two years old when I discovered her love of dance. We were walking by a dance studio and she stopped in her tracks. She pulled me by my hand and made me stand there and watch these graceful dancers. She then started to dance along with them. I realized then that my daughter found her passion.
A few years went by and I finally found a dance class for her. I first took her to see if it would suit her and if she would like it. I saw this panic and fear go over her face but at the same time there was this excitement. We left class and she told me she wanted to join. I asked her again the next day and she said “no! I change my mind”. I knew then that fear had taken over that little body of hers. I refused to let that happen to her. I went through it myself so many times that I did not want her to go through that. I went out and bought her a tutu, ballet slippers and tap dance shoes. I surprised her with it. Her eyes widened in excitement.
The next day I took her to class, she felt the same fear, trepidation, and excitement. This time she went in the class and danced like I have never seen her dance before She looked like a bird flying free in the clear blue sky. Her soul found it’s purpose. I felt this sense of freedom as well. The freedom of knowing my daughter conquered her fear without even knowing it. She pushed through it and was rewarded with this amazing experience. Paulo Coehlo says “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasures.” My little one found her treasure. Where is your heart?
I am reading a book by Cheryl Strayed called Tiny Beautiful Things. I highly recommend it. In it she asks her friend who is an artist how she is able to function in life after being sexually assaulted on 3 separate occasions. She said, “I could allow myself to be influenced by three men we screwed me against my will or I could allow myself to be influenced by Van Gogh. I choose Van Gogh.”
I was really moved by that quote. For those of you who say “well I don’t want to be anything like Van Gogh, he was a tortured soul who cut off his ear and had a very difficult life”. Well hear me out. Van Gogh had all those difficulties he faced yet he choose to paint. Every day he picked up that brush and created and has inspired so many even after his death. Cheryl Strayed’s friend’s message taught me that I could either lose myself in all the things that haven’t gone my way and have broken me into so many tiny little pieces or I can get up and pick up that paint brush and turn that pain into inspiration. Ugly and unpleasant things happen to the best of us. It’s life! But how you choose to deal with that ugly is what really matters.
My ugly was everything I went through with my father and then losing him. But everyday I choose Van Gogh. I choose to keep painting and keep inspiring no matter what problems get thrown my way. I choose to create with all my heart and soul. I choose happiness over sorrow. I choose light over darkness. I choose to think of all the beautiful and precious moments that I shared with my father. I choose to see how fortunate I was to have had a father in my life for so many years.
The most valuable thing I have learned in the grieving process is that you must move. Have motion, momentum. Get that stuck energy out. Even if it means hitting a ball against a wall, running until you can’t breathe or even have a good scream. Whatever you are going through, momentum is the key. Write, sing, paint, exercise, take photos, swim, walk your dog….you get the picture. Just move that beautiful, majestic body of yours. That is what it is meant for.
I don’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. I AM NOT A VICTIM. I am a WARRIOR, I am STRENGTH, I am COURAGE, I am that I AM. I will not feel sorry for you either. Only because you are a WARRIOR, you are STRENGTH, you are COURAGE. So go on and conquer the world my courageous creative spirit. Namaste.
“Every prayer is not answered the way you may want it, but they are all heard. I believe that. How could the one who created us ignore us? Some people will say, “Well, He hasn’t answered my prayer.” People miss that all prayers are heard. But sometimes the answer is no.” -John Gray
As I held the snow white dove in my hands I felt him struggle waiting to be released. How could such a gentle animal have so much strength? That bird reminded me of my dad. I myself struggled to keep the dove within my grip but I couldn’t let go until the Rabbi finished the last of the prayers. My father was gone and it was time to say good bye. The prayers finished and the melodic music was our cue to release them into the picturesque sunset. The doves symbolized his soul’s freedom. They all flew in unison circling around us high above where my father’s soul was watching.
As an artist I love symbolism. The doves represented the peace my father had in his every being and when I held that dove I felt my father’s life struggle and angst. I also felt his strength. He endured so much in his lifetime and still had the strength to go on. Releasing that bird made me feel my father’s freedom from his body. He was a prisoner to it and a prisoner to his mind. In the end, his body destroyed the one part him that ailed him for so many years. The greatest men who were geniuses struggled with this as well. Van Gogh was an artist who went through a lot of mental anguish. Jackson Pollock did as well. They created masterpieces despite their suffering. Maybe they were supposed to go through such hardship in order to create what they did. It may also have had a healing property to the act of painting that their spirits so badly needed.
I know that when I dig deep inside and start to paint, I create the unexpected. I have the power to move people with my work as most artist are also capable of doing. We all have to power to inspire and move another person. It just depends on if we want to do it and how we want to. It could be through a painting, a dance, a song, a speech or acting. My father wrote poems and my mom shared one he wrote for me. It moved me to tears.
The darkness within his soul tried to find light through written words. He found solace in this one act. He didn’t have many possessions when he left this world but he did leave us with a tremendous amount of love. He left the gift of a poem for me that I will cherish forever. What are the gifts that you leave stagnant inside of your soul? Whose life can you touch with your gifts? Who can you move to tears with your special creation? You will never know until you put it out there. Namaste my creative spirits, keep on creating.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.”
I was walking out of the ICU with my mom after visiting my father who suffered a massive stroke and who is in a coma right now. I look up to see a very angelic looking woman. She has these crystal blue eyes and a comforting presence to her. My mom said hi to her and introduced me to her. I will call her Linda. Her son (let’s call him Matthew) is a few doors down from my dad. Matthew has autisim and has suffered many seizures. He had been in a coma for almost 3 months. He opened his eyes a few days prior. I asked if I could give her a hug, a warm hug from one mother to another. Linda proceeded to hug me and my mom. I saw this strength in her and a peaceful spirit. She comforted both me and my mom. We did our part in comforting her as well. We prayed for one another. It was this beautiful exchange of spirit, a soul to soul connection that we all need, especially in times like these. After leaving her presence I felt that everything would be ok.
I don’t quite understand why things happen the way they do. Some people say why and how cruel and unfair that these things should happen. I try my best not to go into that space, although it’s very challenging at times. I do my best to be grateful for all the time that I did have with my father. Every morning he would call me and say “I love you, I love you, I love you”. I can still hear his voice inside my head.
I try to remember the memories we shared. A few days ago, I held his hand and I talked to him about my childhood and the days he took me to the park to feed the ducks. He would buy me vanilla ice cream and we would watch all the birds fly by. He would even catch a pigeon with his bare hands and I would laugh in delight. I think that is where my love for animals grew, especially for birds.
I will eventually paint a portrait of my dad when I am ready. For now I will envision him surrounded by light and angels. I will pray that he is in a peaceful place and no matter what happens he will forever be in my heart. We cannot hold on to anyone or anything forever. We are just passengers on this ride called life. Enjoy every moment you have with your loved ones. Don’t take them for granted. I gave my mom a big hug today and told her I admired her strength and resilience and I told her that I loved her. And in my heart I imagined hugging my dad again and telling him “I love you, I love you, I love you”.