The Power of Radiant Authenticity

Kangaroo Paw mandala on Dark, original artwork by Halyna Dee Creative

When I was in high school, I remember my school principal taking about authenticity (way before Instagram was a thing). He would use the analogy of a cabbage, saying that it only ever strives to be a cabbage and nothing else. In the same way, he would encourage his students to be true to themselves, and to embrace authenticity.

I have a valued friend that I have known for a number of years, through my work. Let’s call her Stella (not her real name, off course!)

Stella has been around the sun for over half a century. Her face is lined with many wrinkles, she is a bit on the tubby side, loud, and pretty much as rough as they come. Stella’s life has been no bed of roses. She is a survivor of breast cancer and has lost one breast as a result. Her brother was a victim of suicide. Stella swears like a trooper, is adorned with tattoos, and doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She says it how it is. I think you get the picture. With Stella, what you see is what you get.

Despite her rough exterior, Stella has a heart of gold. If need be, she will give you the shirt off her back. If you are her friend, you are a friend for life, and she will always be there for you. Stella is a nurse, and a very good one at that. Looking after people is what she does best. I have seen how Stella goes out of her way to make her patients feel worthy, valued and comfortable, even if it means sacrificing her own needs, even if her feet are sore, or she has gone for hours without food.

To the casual observer, Stella looks like a very rough middle-aged woman. She is not likely to win a beauty contest anytime soon. But looks can be deceptive.

Despite her outer appearance, Stella’s inner beauty shines incredibly bright. When she walks into a room, she totally lights it up. You cannot help but love Stella, even if she does swear, because that’s just how she is. She is not out to impress anyone, and she certainly doesn’t set out to light up a room, she just does. She just is…..well, she just is Stella!

What I really admire about Stella is her absolute authenticity, and this authenticity is what draws people to her. She is living life on her own terms. At a time when so many people are hiding behind filters and social media posts, it is truly refreshing and inspirational to meet someone like Stella.

We are all here to play our unique part in the drama of life, not to be like anyone else. There is power in being authentically you. May you seek it, find it and embrace it.

Maybe you know someone like Stella. Maybe you are like Stella, without realising it!

When Are You Leaving Your Day Job?

Nature’s perfection of imperfection found in a protea flower blooming

This is a question often thrown around in creative circles, and those looking for the golden egg of escaping the rat race.

When I reignited my passion for creativity recently, all I wanted to do was immerse myself in it totally – sketching, doodling, creating patterns, mandalas, setting up my online shops and learning about digital design.

At the same time, I started to see my day job in patient transport as a burden and something that was taking me away from creativity. I have always loved working in patient transport – listening to peoples’ stories, nurturing and caring for others, driving around and the occasional lunch break on the beach. But ever since creativity re-entered my life, my perception of this job totally changed. The key here is ‘my perception’. I could no longer see the adventure, fun and satisfaction in this job. The job was still the same, but I was different, and so the way I now perceived my job had changed as a result of internal changes.

But in life, everything changes and nothing stays the same for too long. Recently, I have started to see my day job in a different way again. I have started to become aware of the blessings and hidden gems within this job, that relate directly to my creativity. I have started to take note of the artwork hanging on hospitals walls and in nursing homes. I have started noticing gardens, rocks, flowers, weeds in crevices in the most mundane of places. I have started paying attention to the shifting landscape of clouds and colours of dawn and dusk. These are all precious sources of inspiration for my creativity. There is something enriching about seeing beauty in the so-called mundane.

Exploring the work of Patternity.org through their book ‘Patternity – A New Way of Seeing – The Inspirational Power of Pattern’ (sadly now out of print 🙂 has been instrumental in opening my eyes to the beauty and meaning of everyday surroundings.

The above photo is one that I took recently during downtime on a gloomy, humid day outside a nursing home. The colours and shapes are simply divine and a beautiful source of inspiration for my design work.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” is a quote that I have come across many times. It has been quoted by Dr Wayne Dyer, but originates from Professor Max Planck who was the Nobel prize recipient for physics in 1918 – two very smart people!

I now see my day job as an extension of creativity, a source of grounding and balance with my creative work. As any artist knows, time away from the drawing board is crucial, to avoid burnout and to get out of your mind for a bit. Working in patient transport is quite physical, which my body appreciates as a break from sitting at a desk.

I used to envy creative colleagues of mine, who get to work on their creative pursuits in a full time capacity. I don’t have that luxury at this point in time, and what I have come to realise first hand, is Parkinson’s Law – ‘The less time I have, the more I get done’. It may be counter intuitive but it’s true. My creative work often gets done in small pockets of time and I find that if I have an entire day for creativity, it isn’t necessarily more productive than small pockets of time, found during and around my day job.

When am I leaving my day job? No time soon.

Life is about balance. Life is how I perceive it.

Have a look at my art and designs here.

Ukraine – the madness and the beauty

(image of Carpathian mountains in Western Ukraine by Oleg Mityukhin from Pixabay)

As I sit down to write these words, my heart is filled with disbelief at the unfolding situation in Ukraine. A couple of days ago, Ukraine was subject to an unprovoked attack by the president of Russia and his army. This is the birth country of my parents, who had to flee after the second World War as the country was under attack, just like it is now – a pattern that has been repeating itself for hundreds of years.

I spent my childhood immersed in all things Ukrainian. My parents, (as is typical of Ukrainians) were patriotic and so we spent our weekends attending Ukrainian school, Church, dancing, singing, you name it, my sister and I were there. As I moved away from the family home, I discovered a world beyond the Ukrainian community, expanded my horizons, and my Ukrainian heritage was put on the backburner.

Like many of us in the Western world, I have taken for granted the ability to go about my daily life in peace. I can go to work, I can buy anything I like, I can travel freely (Covid restrictions aside!). In these past few days I have been reminded that in this very moment, there are millions of people just like me, with dreams and aspirations, whose ability to even enjoy a warm meal has been taken away. As I sit in the cool stillness of a new day in my apartment, families are being torn apart, children are crying, people are frightened. It isn’t fair and I cannot believe that in the 21st century, (some) humans are still oblivious to the atrocities of war.

As the current issue is close to my heart, it is hard for me to not be affected in some way, as I feel the Ukrainian part of me stirring. All of a sudden I have a desire to visit this country of my parents’ birth and I worry about how much of the culture, sacred architecture and natural beauty of this country will survive unscathed.

In many ways I feel helpless about a situation on the other side of the world and I am visited by feelings of anger, passion, disbelief, sadness and my mind often wanders to that other part of the world. I cannot control external events but I can control how I react to them, and I can control my inner world.

As a believer in universal energy and the oneness of all, there are things that I can do. I’ve been lighting a candle every night for the people of Ukraine. I can bring this light into my heart and I can send it to the people of Ukraine – the leaders, the soldiers, the mothers, fathers, children, the sick and injured. There is enough hatred and anger floating around, just as the perpetrators would like it. The people of Ukraine need hope, light and love. Yesterday I visited my local shrine to pray for the people of Ukraine, to send love and hope. I sat in silence away from the news, and I listened for the quiet whisper of divine wisdom to come through.

In daily meditation, I see myself as observer of my thoughts and feelings, which creates distance between me and my thought / feelings, so their impact on me is lessened. Distance always seems to dilute impact. I give my thoughts and feelings space to be acknowledged , so they can pass through me, rather than getting stuck inside my body and mind. Journaling is another tool that I find useful to release thoughts and feelings, getting them out of me and onto paper, again creating that sense of distance.

I remember that I am not my thoughts or feelings, they are merely visiting. They come and go but I remain the same at my core.

Yes it is challenging at times, like when I watch video footage from relatives as they watch tanks roll past their home. Yes it’s insane and yes it’s unfair, but I like to believe that even in the midst of this atrocity, there is divine reason, even if I’m not aware of it. I hold on to the belief that goodness, humanness and love will prevail in the long run.

I limit my consumption of news to prevent overwhelm. I focus on what goodness I have in my life – my work, my studies, my art, my family, and immerse myself in these. I move with the feelings, in yoga and dance, rejoicing in the blessing of being able to move. I go for a walk in nature, looking for goodness, beauty and life in the world.

Lastly, I find comfort in the words of Ralph Marston, and I hope that you do too:

Stop for a moment and calm your thoughts.

Let go of your anxieties and look around you.

What do you see?

You see a world filled with beauty.

You see a life filled with possibilities.

Yes there are challenges, yes there is sorrow.

Yes there is violence and hatred.

But more than these there is love,

there is goodness, there is joy.

Think of what a precious thing your life is

and how truly blessed you are to be experiencing it right now.

Breathe in the beauty around you, the beauty and richness of being alive.