‘Where does inspiration come from anyway?’ I asked.
‘It’s easy’ Shane said. ‘Just put two things together that you like.’
‘Okay’ I answered. ‘I like yoga.’ Looking around the food court I added, ‘I like teddies, but how does that become an idea?’
‘Well, put them together.’
‘Okay. Yoga and teddies. OH I know! I can create a book on teddies doing yoga! What a great idea!’
‘See’ he smiled, sipping his coffee, ‘an idea!’
I went home and created four paintings. But I didn’t know what to do next? So I shelved the paintings and worked on another book; ‘Simply Yoga,’ and my CD ‘Perfect Body.’ After two years they were complete and published. Not knowing what to do with Yoga Bear, I did what all artists do: I started working on another book.
But Yoga Bear kept calling me. In 2012 I decided to complete it. I changed the size of the page to match ‘Simply Yoga’ and created new paintings. I didn’t know what the text would be, so began by describing ‘how to do’ the poses.
On my birthday I jumped out of a plane with my friends hubby, Mac. I was so thrilled by the experience I painted Mac and I as yoga bears jumping out of a plane, and turned it into ‘parachute pose.’ This inspired an idea to create new poses. I added Koala pose and Fruit Bat pose and thought; ‘why not change the names of some of the poses?’ I changed cobra pose to 'taipan', tree pose for ‘icy pole’ and ‘gum tree’ pose, warrior three for 'seagull' and hand to toe for ‘panda bear’ pose. Just for fun!
At Uni we were studying poetry: this inspired me to write some poems. While I waited for class, I wrote;
‘Banjo couldn’t scream or shout, Lion pose has helped him out.’
And for my parachute jump:
‘Moni and Mac went up in a plane, they tumbled out with a ‘chute.
Moni and Mac sailed back to earth, it really was a hoot.’
Okay it wasn’t Shakespeare, but it was fun!
That semester I had a mid term break and went to Germany to meet my brother. In Berlin I met the Berlin bears of friendship, who were created to bring nations together. I loved the idea, and added them to my book. I created a painting of bears, holding hands across the globe, and called it ‘friendship pose’, and wrote about the importance of friendship.
In Germany I experienced some bullying. Although an adult, I felt like a child, and wondered, how do I cope? In pain, I stayed in my room for a few days and wrote about bullying and how to support the bullied child. It felt so important that I added it to Yoga for little Bears.
After Germany I was depleted (loved meeting my brother, and lots of good times too) but full of triggers from childhood; coupled with some negative accusations, I fell over. I became depressed and exhausted. I worked in the morning teaching yoga, and spent the rest of the day in recovery. I had counselling to help me understand, kinesiology to realign energy, changed my diet and wrote about emotional intelligence. I added this text to Yoga for little Bears to support the bullied child, and help grow the bully to a softer place.
I took 2013 off study to recover my physical and mental health. In the mix my newly found brother passed away, and the promise of our new relationship died too.
2013 became the year of recovery. I researched and wrote about the importance of mental and physical health to include in Yoga Bear.
As the year drew to a close, my book was complete. I was stronger and the world looked brighter again.
It's been four years since that sip of coffee, when Shane said, ‘Idea’s are easy.’
And he was right. Ideas are easy!
It’s executing them that rely on determination and persistence.
A truck pulled into my garage yesterday, and the driver wheeled in 2000 Yoga Bear books. I pulled out the first one and flicked through its pages.
Wow. A book with my name on it.
I imagined those books in homes and schools, and sent an intention to the universe that they would support children everywhere.
It is because of my beautiful friends and family, with my hand in theirs, that I reached this dream. Thank you. I hope I can hold your hand and help you reach your dreams too.
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Arna Baartz from ‘The I AM program’ talked to our Simply Yoga group on Saturday about believing in magic and creating a fabulous life for yourself by not letting go of self-belief.
Arna, also an artist, creates arts connected emotional intelligence programs for children in schools and is making a difference.
It got me thinking about Art in schools and why it’s a luxury rather than a necessity. Why is ‘art’ something we have to encourage in the curriculum. Why isn’t it revered with maths, science and all of the other 'important' subjects?
Is art really just for starving hippies?
I believe we can’t live successfully without art. Life without Art is life without beauty. Creativity is the seat of invention, change, divergent thinking and excitement. It is creativity that produces paintings, drawings, stories, books, music, songs, poetry, dance, resolutions, revolutions, new ideas, changes in governments and better ways of doing things.
We cannot move forward in society without our divergent and creative thinking.
Art and creative thinking needs to be encouraged.
When I was 16, I just wanted to paint. But dad said I had to get a real job. ‘I know,’ I said. ‘I can become an art teacher, then I’ll be able to paint all day’ (optimism at its best).
‘That’s the best idea you’ve ever had’ said Dad. ‘Cause artists don’t make any money.’
Art college was not what I expected. ‘No realism’ said the teacher. ‘That’s old school. We want you to paint what you don’t see.’
‘That’s too real’ said the teacher, taking my brush and dipping it in orange. ‘Why don’t you do this?’
I struggled with trying to please my teachers without giving up myself.
One of my teachers said ‘you should never sell your art’ and I responded with ‘but one day I want to have a family and support them through my art’ he pointed at me with his authoritative finger and said ‘then you are a prostitute.’
To say I wanted to die was an understatement.
I developed beliefs from these experiences like;
· I wasn’t a real artist.
· I wasn’t allowed to paint what I loved.
· I wasn’t allowed to sell my art.
· Art is not important.
· I wasn’t good enough.
I was lost.
So I took on another career and created art ‘just for fun, just for friends.’
Most of the people around me echoed what society believed ‘artists don’t make money’ and ‘it’s too difficult.’
I never stopped drawing or painting but I did stop imagining I could do something wonderful.
As my children grew I found myself standing at a cross-road.
I wanted to write books and paint pictures and with growing self esteem decided: ‘why not? Why not me? Why can’t I be the one who does it?’
Although I had the ‘not good enough’s’ tapping on my shoulder, I decided to take the plunge.
And I jumped.
I quit my job. I took up my paint-brush, went to uni, and wrote stories.
At least two friends believed in me. The rest said I was wasting my time. Aren’t I too old? Isn’t it too late? Shouldn’t you be focusing on your grandchildren? Are you even good enough?’
The criticism begun from my childhood had eaten away at my artistic self-esteem and it took a long time to return.
Art was like an old friend that had been cast aside. I invited her back.
I’m not the best artist in the world and I’m not the best writer. But I’m the only one that has my story to tell. I’m the only one with my characters in my stories that do the things I ask them to do.
I have un-squashed my dreams and given them some air.
I’m going to believe there is a place for me exactly as I am.
I believe creativity can unlock potential and let people shine.
It isn’t easy being who you want to be. But it’s harder than living someone else’s idea of what your life should look like.
So today, do something towards the dream you’ve never revealed. Imagine it. Do it. Be it. Feel it. Take one step towards it.
And never look back.
Monica Batiste is a full time yoga teacher, author and artist. She lives on the beautiful bays of Brisbane with her husband Andreas. Between them they have four daughters, and ten grandchildren.
GreetI am a yoga teacher, author and artist.
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Growing Emotional Intelligence