“Mistakes” are actually the unexpected beautiful quirks that transform your planned semi-copy into You

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Painting this taught me again how sometimes “mistakes” are actually the unexpected beautiful quirks that transform your planned semi-copy into You.

That butterfly in the middle was a mistake. I accidentally applied too much black paint when I tried to replicate a very complex, intricate, and elegant design by somebody else. I thought I screwed up the painting and I gave up on it because I was disappointed. (“I paint to feel happy and relaxed, you dumb canvas. Not to feel like a failure again. Eff art! I want pizza.”)

I came back a little while later in that all blobbed up, brainless, relaxed-I-can’t-possibly-screw-up-my-life-any-more-so-let’s-eff-up-more-and-have-fun-with-it playful state, and lo-and-behold, hideous black blob trying to be somebody else began metamorphosing into butterfly.

But I didn’t notice what was happening because I was so absorbed in my blobby, brainless, happy state just playing away. Suddenly failure metamorphosed into playful, inspired experimentation.

The ceramic paint marker I abandoned after using it on a series of failed Christmas gifts (failed, because I forgot to dry each mug in the oven after and so the designs washed off after the first contact with water) I realized I could use to draw the intricate interior.

The supplies I received as gifts from two “failed” relationships added the sparkle and the color. My sister’s love on a day I felt anxious and sad added the gold (Sharpie pen paint).

The desire for validation created the black blob, but it also led to surrender when I once more failed to make up for past scars on my self-esteem by trying to be the perfect somebody else.

And as I stepped back to view the result – tired, bloated, but happy – I saw how long- ago heartbreaks and disappointments sought a canvas to create beauty instead of more pain via self-destruction.

I guess this piece taught me on an even deeper level that it’s not the canvas – the finished outcome – but the story behind it that creates the meaning, far more valuable of a thing than how perfect the piece turned out to be. And it’s that, to be honest, the story – the art’s story, your story, my story – that is why I doodle, why I write, why I do anything.

And when I remember it’s about the bigger story of me – us- the why and what did it all mean…I guess failure and success can’t really apply.

Now onto the next mind f***. I mean, piece.

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Painting Away Pain

Painting another canvas as a form of meditation. I’m trying to teach myself to focus on the process vs outcome – to relax and enjoy the journey – as I create both art and my life. So many self-critical thoughts emerge but once the brush hits the canvas, my mind goes blank and surrenders. Painting away old pain, you could say.

Visit my Etsy shop to view more designs like these and buy when the canvas is done: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HerSoulExpression. You can also email me at hersoulexpression@gmail.com if you wish to make a purchase.

From my soul to yours,

Sheena

Green Sky

I wrote this last year during a stressful time I feared losing a loved one. I stumbled upon it again today and was grateful for the reminder.

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I went for a walk. It’s been a hard week. I needed guidance.

An hour later, my search led me back to where I began – nowhere. I found nothing.

Defeated, I stood still.

Surrendering, I bared my heavy heart to the heavens, looking up only to find a green sky.

In the Hindu tradition, green is the color of the heart chakra.

Gently, Rumi’s “only through the heart can you touch the sky” whispers to me. I smile and understand.

Be still. Go in. Stop running to the outside. Face your heart and let her speak. Let her break, so that she may break open to receive love. There lies your answer.

Love is always the answer.

Making the Struggle Count for Something Beautiful

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Today I felt quite soft and vulnerable so I doodled on a seashell and my hand for a few minutes. Still felt sad after but at least the pain was used to make beauty. I was glad for that. Because sometimes that’s all we can ask of life. That even if happiness is impossible to permanently hold onto, just make the struggle count for something beautiful. No matter how small.

And so today I am sad and scared and uncertain. But these little doodles, insignificant to all but my soul, saved the day. Because while I’m not happy, it meant something – namely that there’s more to life than being happy. There’s meaning, there’s beauty.

Maybe that’s enough.

Let Go – Glimpses of Doodles I am Working On


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Every time I create one of these doodles, I feel like I am lifted into this stunningly beautiful space where I am deeply in touch with my feminine, the Indian in me, my playful inner child. My thoughts go silent and my heart takes over. The more I delve into this space, it’s like a cleansing and I can see who I am – a spiritual practice more powerful for me than meditation even. Somehow, my doodles are helping me metamorphose from caterpillar to butterfly.

That is pretty funny to me as these are feelings I searched again and again for in philosophy and spiritual books and teachers – really, in every domain of my life – yet somehow I am finding them by allowing myself to simply…doodle. I constantly ask myself questions like: How do I re-connect with my true self and intuition? Live a life that is calm, free, creative, playful and not stressed and like it belongs to somebody else? Joyful and fulfilled? Feminine and passionate?

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Then like a serious student and adult, I’d grab at every serious book or teacher on the subject I could find, or work, relationships, etc…I’d get mad at myself when my focus would stray elsewhere to the doodles on my journal. and other seemingly unimportant tasks. “Pay attention! This is serious work to help you connect with your true self, understand life, and embrace your purpose etc…” I’d sternly command to myself, only to find myself resisting even more. Until it dawned me a few months ago that this voice of resistance was not the problem but the solution – this is the voice of my inner child and true self screaming at me to get real and surrender.

So I started to allow myself to doodle and just “resist”. And I realized: How do I become playful? Drop the control. How do I listen to my intuition? Drop the control. How do I live a life of passion? Simple – just let yourself. You are already full of passion. People tell me that all the time. See it. Feel. Accept it.

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There is no need for so much serious speculation all the time – just play and live. I am realizing more and more nowadays it’s the adult in me that sometimes is more of hindrance to my life and happiness than anything. It’s the inner kid in me that is my true self and vibrant and beautiful – she has something gorgeous to express and she shined magnificently when she was younger, before certain painful experiences and the superficial world’s limiting beliefs got in the way. From my doodles, I am learning that the more I get aligned with her and listen to her, the more my life flows.

Funny how it is the  most seemingly insignificant, tiny things that are often the catalyst for great transformation if only we’d slow down and awaken to it.

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In My Feminine, I Feel Free

A simple henna design I drew on my hand:

A Simple Henna Design I Drew On My Hand

I listened to this playlist I made entitled “Divine Feminine” while doing so:

I belly danced after.The sensuality of the dance and drawings swept me away into this stunningly magical space. No constricting lines existed there, just carefree curves and colours. In my feminine, I feel free.

Photos I’ve Taken That Make My Heart Smile

This sign at a cafe:

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The vibrancy of these flowers, so alive with colour:

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Burning away the old (and almost accidentally setting the table on fire – oops)

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Coffee and conversation on a balcony overlooking London:

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The sensuality of these roses:n

The sensual wild flowers contrasted with composed St. Pauls and all it represents:

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The remnants of a hatched egg I found on a walk – birth:

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Pondering my life’s direction on a swing in a playground:

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My little cousin’s artwork:

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Heart-shaped pages:

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Wearing socks that don’t match:

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A beautiful house with roses on a lake:

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Kitten sniffing flowers:

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This gorgeous poem:

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The surprise when I found out the artist is color blind:

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My cousin’s car:

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Innocence – my little cousin and kitten sharing a moment:

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 My baby:

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Couldn’t get enough of this rose:

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The travel section at the bookstore:

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The magic that is this book:

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Kitten sniffing my shoes:

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The colorful 4 in front of Channel 4:

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 Reading this book:

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Camden canals:Image

This funny bird:

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This menu:

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This sign, because it seemed the perfect response to the question “Universe, give me advice about my life” I asked only a few seconds before:

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The Greys of Liberation (from The F-Word UK)

I wrote a piece for The F-Word UK I’ve pasted below. Original article here: http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2014/06/the_greys

What exactly does a liberated Western woman look like? Is she the driven career woman, the stripper, the nun, or the housewife? In feminist circles, the debates over this issue are endless and admittedly often judgmental.

To me, the answer is quite clear: there is no set answer. Indeed, to attempt to even provide a rigid definition for another person can ironically be counterproductive.

Let me explain.

For me, who I am today is a culmination of all the people I’ve ever been in my short life. I’m on my journey towards authentic liberation as a woman, but I had to first experiment with different selves – and still am doing so.

When I was a teenager, I rebelled heavily against my more conservative, studious Indian upbringing. The hyper-sexualised Western world seemed more liberating than my strict background, in which I’d felt so controlled by cultural and familial expectations. Scenes and activities I later found objectifying I embraced in an attempt to construct an identity of my own. I looked at the likes of pole dancers and party girls with secret admiration.

Yet as I grew and gained more self-awareness, I eventually no longer felt this way. While I was beginning to construct an independent sense of self, I realised I was still unhealthily looking for the same validation I had as “the good Indian girl”, but now from men and my Western peers. I realised many of the “sexy” women I’d looked up to weren’t as free as I thought. I felt we’d been pressured subconsciously from society and the media to look and behave like a sex object.

I became disillusioned. I labeled women who largely used their sexuality for gain as disempowered – sell-outs who were emotionally either unintelligent or unhealed. I was wary of the sexuality I’d been sold that seemed so disempowering to my gender. I shunned my sensual side as I couldn’t trust my own impulses anymore; they seemed more a product of a patriarchal society and past conditioning than myself. Certainly I was becoming more liberated as I was starting to learn to think for myself. Still, I was not being my full self ironically for fear of not being a truly liberated woman.

Yet, I could never label either of these stages in my growth as more or less liberating than the other. Each part of the journey led to greater liberation, a blossoming of different aspects of myself, shaping the more balanced woman I am today. The only way I could ever grow and become more liberated is by being able to choose, at least consciously, to carve my own identity. Sure, I will never be 100% free of subconscious, environmental, and biological influences, yet I will always have conscious control. And as I choose to create my life, I grow into and learn more about what is truly liberating for me, even if I make some mistakes along the way.

So really, I’ve no idea what is liberating for you or what will be liberating for me in a few years from now. But thanks to all my various phases in life, I have a better idea of what feels liberating for me right now. Like when I let myself feel insecure or strong, allowing myself to be the imperfect, multi-faceted human being I am who’s still growing. When I belly dance, and experience a different, more sensual side to myself. When I achieve a goal and experience a sense of accomplishment.

I also have a stronger idea of what doesn’t feel liberating for me right now. Like chasing success because I am trying to prove my worth. Dressing a certain way because I feel societal pressure to look and appear sexy. Trying hard to appear confident, like I’ve got it all together, and acting like a “good, classy girl” – doing whatever it takes to not appear like the “trashy” or insecure woman we are taught to look down on. Judging another woman, rather than compassionately supporting her in finding her own personal liberation, however it may look like and differ from mine. Because by trying to suppress and define another for themselves, I inevitably end up suppressing and losing myself.

Perhaps, then, a liberated woman is one who defines liberation on her own terms. She makes her own life decisions in whatever way and order she decides aligns with her individual values. Whether that’s pre-marital sex or waiting, one career or 20 or none ever at all, a job as a sex worker or a life as a nun without sex. Maybe a liberated woman is simply one who lives her life according to what she feels is right regardless of what others tell her, whether that’s a patriarchal system or a feminist leader.