The Do Over

I’ve been hearing the calling to write and that includes coming back home.  To my word haven.  To my blog.

I look back on previous posts, remembering I never wanted to write like “the cat in the hat”. But I can feel there was something missing. I was still holding words back. Hiding.  Finding my way. Finding my voice.  A way to put my melodramatic heart on the page.

But, in the last 12 months, I have been compelled to say out loud…


After reading Susannah Conway’s book “This I Know” and the posts that accompany the artwork of Orly Avineri and Erin Faith Allen, I know I can no longer hide.  I can no longer dabble in the shallows.  Speaking barely above a whisper for fear of being denied my space at the table.

And so, I will start over.  With brutal truths. With raw words so deeply bound in truth they take my breath away.  This is my space. I am declaring it.  I want to document the wholeness of my universe.

I am craving swimming out into the deep and diving under. More so than ever.

My art is aching for change.  For rawness.  Truth.  Realism.  For a brutality that I have no idea how to conjur.

My book, abandoned in doubt, is calling me back.  Demanding I finish what I started.  Telling me this is more important than I can understand right now.  That its a part of my unfolding.

My words and thoughts here are forever changed.  I hope you visit here and are forever changed too.

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Art is You Qld – Day 2

Sallianne, our cheerleader of the weekend is discussing being bold and fearless this morning and encourages us to do this in our everyday as well as in our classes.  I know how it feels to hide in my comfort zone and in what’s familiar.  She’s right and I know I need to dig into this more.

“The mane is the main thing”

What the what?  Only something you could hear in a DeMeng class for the Cowardly Lion.  When I came home with my two plastic lions and asked my husband to cut their heads off – he wasn’t disturbed at all.  Instead, his reply was simply “I know whose class this is for”.

Art is You - Michael DeMeng classIn class, I fight with those damn lion heads for a while, trying different things to get them to come together.  Masking tape – Nope.  What about clay – nope. Okay, glue -nope.   Eventually, Michael gets hardcore and just drills their heads which I fiercely wire together.

It reminds me there are many ways to get to your end goal.

And sometimes it takes a few tries to get there.

In art and in life.

I only do assemblage when I’m in Michael’s classes.  We talk about this and he points out that I use a lot of the techniques in my art journal and the click happens.  It all starts to fall into place.  Like the last number in a combination lock.

One of the most beautiful things about the classes here, isn’t the classes.  Its hearing about the evolution of the teachers as artists, their ideas on art and creativity, the moments you get to share with them one on one.

Michael DeMeng Art Is YouI spoke to Michael about things I had carried with me from his previous classes.  How a two day class with him about 7 years ago was so worth it because of the 1 sentence I took away from it.  Yes 1 sentence.  1 art changing sentence. Because classes aren’t just about the techniques or the project you do on the day.

Sometimes it’s one moment in the whole day that changes you.

The way you think about art or the direction you go in.  It expands your thinking and you can never go back.   We talk about how much I’ve grown and changed as an artist since our last class at AIY two years ago and I feel seen and heard.  The teachers are like that here.

At night, I do a mini class with Kecia.  I’m not sure about this one because we are using products I’ve never used before.  But the end result looks awesome, so I’m being brave.  Bold and fearless as Sallianne encouraged us in the morning.

We make our own moulds and cast resin.  My mind is blown.  My art sister sitting next to me is buzzing about all the things we can do with this.  We decide we have a new obsession and wonder how we can get the next 2 months off from our day jobs to complete all the projects we are dreaming up.

Kecia is soldiering on through a cold and dealing with a class of over tired students.  We are like 5 year olds who have just had a red cordial.  In this moment, she is more of a wrangler than a teacher.

I tumble into bed, exhausted in the best way.  Desperate for sleep but my mind full of a million possibilities…  I drift blissfully between asleep and awake.


Did you miss my wrap up of day 1?  Read about it here.



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Art Is You Qld – Day 1

Andrea class 2016I booked Art Is You over 6 months ago.  And I had been gathering supplies for my classes for the last 2 months.  Finally –  it was time to dive into the adventure.

As I walked through the corridor, I saw Sallianne the Energizer bunny organizer of this event and her right hand gal Linda who was soldiering on through a cold. Oh those beautiful smiling faces.

I was greeted with joy in their voices and a little bit of sassy teasing.  The kind that makes you feel loved.

As I checked in, I saw 2 girls I became friends with at the last AIY.  Hugs and excited giggles follow and I am reminded of the un-advertised elements of AIY.   The connections and friendships it fosters.   The safe place we are in, where we can step into our creative courage and let the everyday fall away.

We aren’t mothers, wives or day job girls anymore.

I say hello to a girl looking a little lost.  She’s here for the first time and is on her own.  I ask her what classes she is doing (the obvious but perfect AIY conversation starter) and introduce her to a friend.  Before long her nerves give way to laughter.  I hope she makes the kind of friendships I have here.

As I wander around the room, I catch up with my Art Sisters.  My cheerleading girl squad. I renew connections with girls I’ve met before and we all instantly feel like long lost cousins at a family reunion.

We begin our classes by ascending the swirling staircase.  Teachers and fellow students helping carry each others supplies up the stairs. No pushing, no rushing.  Just gentle giggles and nervous banter.  Gosh I love the vibe here.  Why can’t it be like this in real life?  The world would be a much better place for it.

Andrea 2016

I’m in Andrea Matus DeMeng’s class today.  Photos do not do her work justice. They are drowning in colour and depth and symbology.  Andrea is a beautiful gentle soul.  Her voice is very calming and zen but she also makes us giggle at our nerves as she pushes us through our comfort zones. She calls it ‘pushing us to our edges’.  By the end of the day we are all exhaustedly happy and tiredly glowing.  I am in love with what I’ve made and jealous of what the others have made at the same time.  And I’m in awe of Andrea as a teacher. This quietly spoken soul has broken her work down into achievable steps.  She has pre-empted our fears and voiced them before we could. Reassuring us ‘we got this’. She helped students all at different levels of experience, all making very different pieces navigate our ‘stuck’ moments.  Our ‘mine sucks’ moments. The ‘I don’t get it’ moments.  She navigated it all, floating through the group quietly offering her art theory, explanations and guidance.  She shares some beautiful words with me about my work and it fills my heart to overflowing.  It is such a generous gift from her and I am teary with gratitude.

At night there is more catching up at the art trunk.  Attendees laying their creative heart out on little tables, for sale.

We mingle, catching up on what we made in class that day, discussing art with those bravely selling their pieces.

My night closes with 6 of us scattered around a friends room, sitting on the floor, on kitchen chairs, on a couch and a fold out bed.  We are eating cheap pizza, making fun of “The Batchelor” and telling stories.  I laughed until my sides hurt.

And I am reminded, sometimes it’s not the classes that create the best memories but the friendships.

I fall into bed, tired but with a heart overflowing from a day of creative living and dear treasured friendships. At the dawn of day two, I giggle in the dark, thinking of our conversations last night.  I heart these moments and these girls so hard.


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The shift.

Wild Girl1I’m calling it The Shift.

I haven’t blogged for most of the year but I have been art journalling…  And while each page has been an adventure in learning and I’ve been growing, I also know something has been missing.   I’ve felt it for a long time but couldn’t put it into words. It was feeling first level.  Like I was floating on the surface of a lake, right near the shore.

But I’m craving swimming out to the deep and diving under.

Swimming deep with the beams of sunlight illuminating my way.  Wrapping myself around the roots of submerged branches.  Seeing if I can hold my breath long enough to touch the bottom.

Wild Girl5I’ve craved having my own style and personal symbology from the first moment I fell back into creativity as an adult.  But the craving has turned into an ache in the last year or so. I’ve been working really hard to figure out what that means for me.  The fog of confusion and searching and longing has begun to make way for clarity and depth and connection to my creative mind.  The hurt and jealousy of art friends who had already found their signature style has made way for feeling like I am part of a connected sisterhood.  That we are all exploring the same path, seeking and making in an authentic way.  Once you get even a tiny glimpse of it; of your work feeling bound in truth; you can’t go back.

I can’t just make pretty things anymore.

Wild Girl3As this started to happen, other things began to happen too.  The distractions began to disappear. I know what media I want to play with, so I no longer crowd my art space with the latest products that never get opened.  I’m not distracted by the latest online class all my friends are taking.  I don’t replicate popular images because I can hear my inner voice saying that is not who I am.  And I am pulling away from my teachers to go exploring.  To explore all the things that are calling to me.  Suddenly  there are so many things calling to me.  And every one of them feel so true to who I am.

And all this has tumbled over into the rest of my life too. Trivial friendships and acquaintances have been allowed to just fall away. I have stripped back my social media  so only the “oh yes” images and people remain.  My day job has become a momentary distraction until I can come back to my truth.  I am choosing making and writing over vacuous TV.  I am putting myself and what I want first instead of last.  I’m practicing bravery to step out of my comfort zone for amazing soul fulfilling experiences.

All this from taking a step out into the deep end of creativity.

Wild Girl4It can be scary to go on this adventure.  What if I don’t find what I’m looking for?  What if it’s not out there?  What if it doesn’t exist?  But what I found was so much more than I could have expected.  It is soul fulfilling to the point I feel like I am overflowing.  I am feeling pure bliss so often I think I might be glowing some days.  I feel like I am finding a deeper meaning.  To art, yes.  But also to creative living in the every day.  To how I spend my time.  To what I let be of importance. That is such a special lesson that has come from this.  One I really needed.

I couldn’t have possibly imagined all this beautiful unfolding when I first began to swim out into the deep.  When I chose to dive under.

Here’s to bravery.  To having the courage to dive deep.  And to the unfolding that comes from it.

Coral. XO

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The life and art lessons I learned from 2015


A page in my ‘Dream Big’ A3 journal

Have you heard the saying ‘Some years ask questions and some years give answers?’

2015 has been a learning and growing year for me. It’s involved some personal epiphanies and transformations as well as some hard decisions.  And along the way, I’ve learned lessons that will follow me into 2016 in the best way – I can feel something great is coming.  And I’m so ready for an amazing year.

life lessons…

be selfish (in a good way).  When you give give give; when you go beyond expectations – not only do people not appreciate it, sometimes they start to expect it. And then you start to feel resentful. Unacknowledged. Taken for granted. Shoved in the corner.  Because you are. It’s a real girl thing, isn’t it?  Putting others first.  So now I’m setting boundaries. Putting my needs first sometimes instead of always last.  Saying no.  And guess what?  The world hasn’t ended.  And I feel like I am living instead of giving everything I had to others with nothing left for myself.  And doing that has given me so much.  I will never, ever go back. Sometimes the world just has to cope without you.

sometimes you need a time out (even when you are a grown up).   For a few years I would get up at 4am to blog (because you are supposed to blog every week according to the experts).  And I would feel like I ‘had to’ do art and read other blogs because that meant you were creative and it would give me something to blog about.  But when you are that busy, it’s busy in a bad way.  And when you are bad kind of busy, you don’t leave room.  Room for new ideas. For listening to what is truly calling to you. For following new paths just to see where they go.  This year I’ve rediscovered that taking time, making that space, can be divine.  Kind of like when you break up with a boyfriend and suddenly you get to know yourself as a person again.  Ahhh… Clarity.  It’s like a renewal isn’t it?

social media is for me (not another expectation to live up to or another chore on the to do list).  I’m pretty new to Facebook. So I’m still figuring it all out but I learned some things this year. Social media is for me. So I refuse to feel obligated to other people. Don’t friend me then ignore me. If you friend me, I’ll cheer for you and leave thoughtful comments. Since you friend-ed me, I kinda figure you’ll do the same.  If not…. See ya.  I am no longer leaving comments out of obligation.  I will never participate in backhanded posts (I know most of you wont share this… Posts yuck!). I’m using social media in a way that is small and tight knit. That is full of cheerleading and genuine comments and kindred spirits only.  No friend collectors allowed.  No people chasing fans with nothing to give in return.  It’s called social for a reason, people.  I’ve gleefully unfriended and unfollowed.  Feels kinda powerful to decide who you want in your circle.

people show up how they can (which isn’t always how you want them to).   I’m an organized person. I’m a person of my word.  I can be a perfectionist and I set really high expectations for my self, for experiences and of other people.  But sometimes people just can’t meet those expectations. They are the person who is always running late or changing their mind. They are parents or don’t have day jobs so they can’t always commit to things the way I can. And sometimes their personality is just really different to mine.  I was letting that get to me.  Then like the song from Frozen… I let it go. I had to accept people are who they are. I could either push people away or I could accept them as they are, while still respecting myself and my own boundaries.  Win-Win.  Ooh, I feel like a grown up.

Art lessons…

practice really does make you better (who knew?)  you really do have to do the work. Which of course, none of us want to hear.  I’ve made some awkward art this year which can be hard when you just wanna be awesome. But every now and then I had a breakthrough. A page I was so crazy proud of.  Discovering elements that I just know are now a part of my signature style and my personal symbology. I cannot tell you the joy I’ve gotten from those moments. The deeper connection it’s given me. Once you have it happen, you crave more.  I will be chasing more of them in 2016.

kindred spirits make you a better artist (and a better person).  This year I’ve had art girl breakfasts by the beach on a Sunday. I’ve done art in the park on a blanket.  On a Monday.  (Art on a work day is a divine indulgence, let me tell you).   And I’ve stayed up until after midnight on a work night talking creativity as we worked in our journals. I’ve had a mentor say words that made me believe my art dreams were not just achievable but challenged me to dream even bigger.  I’ve dreamed out loud with these girls. I’ve messaged them with ideas and breakthroughs and doubts. We’ve cheered each other on. I’m seeing art and creativity so much deeper because of these girls. I’m peeling back layers to find my truth and am a better person for it, as well as a better artist.   I’m feeling more sure in who I am. There is a serenity, a knowing that is so blissful (that’s what Firelight feels like).  And these girls have been such a significant part of that. Seriously – I don’t think I could have done it without them.

stop hiding (that is where the connection is).  This year I’ve pulled away from my teachers and gone on a path to discovering my signature style and my own symbology. It’s easy to hide. Hide in art lessons from your teachers. Hide in replicating what you have already done.  Hiding in repetition and your comfort zone.  But you don’t grow there.  You can’t be fulfilled and hide at the same time. I cannot even explain what it feels like when you connect to your art. To the story, the symbology, the deeper meaning. This year I must have said ‘I can’t just make pretty things anymore’ a million times.  Once you understand how deep art can been, how connected and meaningful it can be, you just cannot hide in the shadows of comfort anymore.  You cannot go back.  You just couldn’t bare it.

learning in a thousand different ways.  My creative view grew so much this year because I grew my list of people to learn from and be influenced by. I did weekend retreats and online workshops.  I bought new art books and mini documentaries. I was determined to figure out my signature style and symbology by looking to my art SHeroes.  Really looking into why I connected to their work.  I did a class with one of my art friends – she taught me and I taught her – which was kinda awesome and crazy and so enlightening.  Highly recommend it.  All of these things have given me deeper influences, clarity on what I wanted more of in my own work and new ways of working.  Transformative.  Truly, truly.

So many people I know had a complicated 2015.  Big lessons.  Awkward beginnings.  Hard endings.  I’m guessing it’s all leading into a year of answers for 2016.  Where all this learning and growing manifests.  Into being in the right place at the right time.  Into a less complicated, more beautiful life.

And into dreams coming true.

Coral xo

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Guided by Stars

Guided1There is a beautiful idea of making dreams come true by journaling about them – mystically manifesting your dreams into reality.

Anahata Katkin has talked about it.  And so has Jane Davenport.

I have an A3 journal I was given – because who would be brave enough to buy one that size!  Madness I tell you, madness.  But secretly, I am madly in love with it.  I have named her my Big Dreams journal.  Because if you are going to dream, you may as well dream big, right?

My first dreaming page came about because I kept imagining an upturned face.  It’s a big challenge for me after working on straight on faces for the last two years.  But I’m really feeling the pull to spread my wings.  To go beyond where I have found my comfort.  I am craving artistic growth.

Guided2I started with rubbing the page on my craft sheet that had some cream paint.  Still like a blank page, but without the intimidating white space.  Then I did gelli prints with a stencil.  Such a cool way to get lots of colour on the page.  I print from the gelli plate and also spritz with water on the actual stencil for the reverse print.  It gives a really nice water colour effect.

I also added neocolour crayon in washes as well as drawing direct on the page and rubbing with my fingers.  And I added a big section of purple – I’m kind of obsessed with big blocks of colour like that.

Guided4Then the drawing.  I used a reference from Pinterest – my go to place.  And with a few rub outs, she turned out really well.  I worked around the hair amongst the purple.  I was kind of wishing I’d left the purple until later so I could have painted around her, but in hindsight, I actually loved having to work around it.  How the hair got drawn in white over the purple.  It felt so much more organic and it’s like you can tell it evolved as I worked on it.  You can see the page unfolded.  Which is a big deal for a plan-a-holic.  For a perfectionist.

Guided3I made a little mini journal card that folds so I could write some words on the back.  I love the journal writing on this part.  Another happy accident.  Unplanned.  Just going with it as it happens.

I replicated this journal page and this little fold out on a little piece of card and filmed it (woo woo).  One of my goals for the year was to do You Tube videos.  A big leap of faith.  A step forward on the art adventure.  Something to make me grow and push my art.   You can watch it below:

It’s funny, as I watch it, I feel like I am learning from myself.   Seeing myself work, rather than being in the moment.  It’s kinda weird, but kinda interesting too.

I am in love with this page.  That’s sometimes really hard to say, isn’t it?  We usually see the things we could fix or do differently.  Do better.  But I keep going back to look at it.  To touch it.  To look at the details closer.  And I feel happy each time I see it.  That’s gotta be a good sign, right?

Coral. xo

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When you let the world in…

BunnyForgive me readers.

For I have not blogged.

It has been 3 months since my last blog post.

Confession over.

So… where oh where have I been?

Pondering life and art and my place in the world basically.

My one little word for the year is SIMPLIFY.

It’s about clearing out the clutter.  Physically. Mentally. And in so many different ways.  Getting rid of clothes that are worn out and no longer fit or just make me feel blurgh.  Who wants to feel blurgh?  So out they go.  Letting go of my other blog.  Deleting twitter accounts.  Cleaning out the pantry.  Hello expiry date from 2008… And just as I hoped, clearing the clutter has made space for new things.  Beautiful things.  Just what I need things…

The mentor retreat is still resonating.

Every day the lessons from this retreat are tapping me on the shoulder.  And whispering in my ear.  After having my heart broken with my art adventure before, I am dreaming again.  Dreaming big.  Believing in the possibility of it all.  I’m doing lots of planning and giving myself the courage boost to chase after my big wild crazy dream.  And for the first time, I think I am really understanding the possibility of this life.  Of how it can become real.  How it could become real for me if only I have the courage to get back on the horse and ride around the block again.

I won a scholarship to Flora Bowley’s Bloom True workshop.

I have adored, seriously adored Flora’s work for such a long time. I fantasize about buying an original if I ever win lotto.   The day after I got back from the Mentor Retreat, I filmed a video to enter a giveaway.  I was sweating like a demon in the humid Queensland summer with my hair plastered to my head and my face flushed red.  It took a few takes but I did it.  I  wasn’t glamorous but I did it.  (Tried to film my entry before I left for the retreat when I looked all cute hair and makeup but the dude next door decided he had to mow his lawn in that moment.  Then as it fell silent and I was ready to shine, it turned out he had to whipper snip too. of course.)  Despite my dishevelment, Flora blessed me with a place in her class.

She encourages you to learn from her but to paint like you.  Not just to copy her.  I discovered I don’t want to paint like her in a literal sense.  But I so badly want to paint like her in the spiritual sense.  For it to be about your surroundings being creative.  To find a bliss and serenity and connection to the process of art and making.  And of course, I learned it’s all about the layers baby.  I’m going to chase that big, broad idea in my art so much more.  I’ve really fallen in love with how I want to feel as I make art.  As I create.  As I send it out into the world.  It’s not just about getting inky and painty anymore.  I can never go back to it being just about that.  Flora’s class gave me some amazing ideas around this.  And her art theory as part of the class was something I adored.  Because of this class,  I am forever changed.

Going on a tribe hunt.

People talk about ‘finding your tribe’ and it’s kinda some passe saying these days.  But after doing art by myself in my dark little space, I’ve really been chasing connection with other artful kindred spirits.  I’ve learned if you put your heart and your intentions out into the world, your soul sisters are out there waiting for you. I’ve been having breakfast art dates and dinner art dates and lots of texting and messaging.  I’ve been dreaming big and out loud with these girls.  It’s scary and we’ve been convincing each other our art dreams are possible. We’ve been figuring out stepping stones together.  Setting deadlines.  Finding courage.  It’s not a big group, but it’s a very special group of dear sweet souls that I am trusting my heart and my dreams with.

A square bear has to do it her way.

 I’ve always chased the idea of finding my own style.  Of having my artwork ‘there’.  ‘There’ of course being that magical place I think my art sHeroes are at where they just know.  Know their style.  Know how to start a blank page.  A couple of weeks after the Mentor Retreat, I had an epiphany about something I do.  That isn’t me copying from someone else, or something I learned from my teachers.  It was all me, baby.  And once that first one came to me, others tumbled  into place.  I knew where some had come from.  Others had been in front of me for years and I hadn’t realized *slaps forehead*.  I feel like I’ve been given the combination to the safe, and now I just need to figure out how to tumble them all together to open the door. I’m wickedly excited about this and can’t stop my mind ticking with ideas on how to put the puzzle together.  It’s a huge leap forward for me.   Clarity.  Epiphanies.  A calling pulling me in a direction I’ve wanted to find for so long.

I’ve also done my square bear thing and hit the books.  My back issues of Somerset Studio, my favourite art books and ones I didn’t like but somehow are now teaching me the most.  I’ve been writing out lists and ideas and having more epiphanies as I turn the pages.  Lists and writing is how I process things.  How I understand things.  Very OCD and Capricorn and Square Bear.  All me.

So that’s me.  That’s been my year so far.  My big moments.  And little moments merging together to be something magical.  And leading me down paths I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember.

So… what have you been up to?

Coral.  XO

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Jane Davenport Mentor Retreat and an epiphany

Foil tattooI’ve just come back from a Mentor Artist Retreat at Jane Davenport’s house.  She calls her home “The Nest”.  I always thought the name was super cute.  But after this retreat, it seems to mean so much more.  New beginnings, hatching of new ideas and big art dreams.  Funny how things suddenly take on new meaning, isn’t it?

In the week leading up to the retreat I got more and more nervous.  I have no idea why because I have done workshops there with her before.  But I felt like I was going to have a big breakthrough.  Like I knew something was going to happen that was going to be a turning point for me.  An obvious signal at the crossroads.  And it turns out I was right.

It's never too lateJane was so open the whole weekend.  Talking about developing our own styles more, taking it beyond where we were comfortable, talking about what we want now and our big art dreams.  Ooh, that girl is good.  She gets you to open up so easily, sharing things you normally dare not say out loud.  And the words she gave back were so many things.  Creative wisdom.  Courage boosting.  Unexpected and unwavering faith – this is the one that has been playing on my mind the most.  Something she said on the last afternoon really stuck.  Not just what she said but how.  I keep hearing it over and over.  And days later, I got 2 ‘signs from the universe’ literally within 1 minute of each other that reinforced it.  It was like the universe didn’t want me to let it go.  These few words from her have been a huge turning point for me.  A moment that re-ignited a wavering flame in danger of burning out.

Actually, ever since I got back, little things have been shining like beacons and everything around it has faded into white noise.  Little quotes pop up that resonate so strongly it’s like they are washing through my soul.  Beautiful words from friends that suddenly seem to be just the right words for how I’m feeling.  The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes…

The people you share these kinds of retreats with can really make the experience (or not) and I was so lucky to spend time with 2 other arty sistas that were simply amazing.  They were open with their art dreams, raw in front of me like I had been with them.  And man did we talk!  We stayed up until almost midnight each night talking about artists we love, products and classes and techniques.  Working in our journals as we chatted like long lost art sisters.  Just to have someone to talk to about that sort of thing was sooooo good for the soul.Shaded face

Over the weekend, we tried new techniques and practiced ones we wanted more guidance on.  We had some one on one help from Jane.  The shading thing FINALLY clicked for me. Hoo-bloody-Ray for that.  And I dove into the discovery of my own signature things which I am loving.  To have your art feel like you instead of a copy of the teachers is wonderful.

But one of my favourite things was talking to Jane.  Her adventure to arrive at where she is now was facinating – it wasn’t all beer and skittles.  She’s worked her toosh off and has taken many different paths to arrive at where she is now.  It is not a linear path to paradise.  Let me tell you, this girl is fierce and determined (and a little bit stubborn which I love).  To see inside the world of a working artist was amazing – again not all beer and skittles.  There is still tech stuff and millions of emails and a crazy amount of organizing and things not always going to plan.  It’s not just doing art all day people.  Her insights around the business of art and licencing and book deals were eye opening.  On our way into town for dinner, she started telling us a story about that side of things then stopped and asked if we wanted to hear that kind of stuff.  In unison from the back seat, we all leaned forward with a big YES.  Think that kind of took her by surprise.

And to see how she lives. What she surrounds herself with really had me thinking.  Everywhere in her house was art of some sort.  Little trinkets on the tables and shelves, a bookshelf overflowing with so many different types of art books, her studio decorated with furniture that had a soul and collage materials you couldn’t help but touch and artwork from her favourite artists (yep, even girls like her admire the work of others – of course!  Never thought of that before.  I just thought they glowed in their own awesomeness).

Capricorn GirlThe little bungalow we stayed at is called “The Sanctuary”.   I joked with Jane that I came as a Capricorn but left as a ‘Sanctuarian’.  Even that had art everywhere.  And we were so taken care of.  With the ‘little things’ Jane had for us at The Sanctuary, to Angus her (very patient) husband making our meals and snacks and looking after us.  Poor fella – dealing with us girls all weekend.  Chat chat chat, laugh laugh laugh.  He must have been so glad for some quiet when we left.  I felt so blissed out over the weekend.  I fell asleep to the sound of singing crickets and woke up to the hum of cicadas and the laugh of kookaburras.  I wonder if I got so much out of the weekend because I was so relaxed and open to hearing what I needed to.  I’m sure we get lots of messages from the universe we are meant to hear, but are too busy with the everyday that we often don’t get to hear them.

Capricorn goatAs I left late on Sunday, I gave Jane a hug, I told her “I adore you”.  She doesn’t really know what she gave me this weekend.  How could she?  She mended an art heart that had been badly broken by things not going to plan. A feeling the Universe hadn’t seen how badly I wanted things and how hard I had been working (even if it was working in the wrong direction).  She gave my cowardly lion heart the courage to stop hiding behind the hurt and take a big flying leap into the life I want so badly.  Creative courage is an amazing thing to give to someone.  I hope somewhere on my own art adventure, I get the chance to give that to someone else.

A week after the retreat and I still have the waves of bliss with me.  The creative boost is still strong.  But somehow, I feel more in tune with the things I am meant to do and the day job feels even more like it’s not where I am meant to be.  I can feel the shift and my creative heart is taking over from the OCD square bear Capricorn side.  I’m excited to see what happens when those two planets collide.

Coral.  xo

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I want to be my own damn hero

ShoesSo, I’m gonna be brutally honest.  I think it’s all part of the adventure and I want other girls reading this to get the true story.  Including the bits that aren’t going to plan.

I started my #5am workouts on the 8th of October.  They consist of a weird mash up of 80’s aerobics, Tae-bo, weights and stuff I’ve seen on instagram.  Plus I’ve been eating healthy, cutting down on my portion sizes, going easy on the carbs and cutting out most dairy and sugar.  (Although I just figured out my protien shakes are whey powder.  As in curds and whey.  And whey, little miss muffet, is made out of milk – doh!).

I lost 4 kg in the first 4 weeks and thought I was a mad genius.  Thought I had it all figured out.  Thought I’d get to my goal pretty quick if the first 4 weeks were anything to go by.  And seeing results like that kept me motivated.   This big big goal felt do-able.

Then the scales stopped moving.

The universe gave me a clip around the ear.

Fit girls talk about #NSV – non scale victories.  I’m seeing those even thought the scales aren’t moving.  My work clothes are looser, my bra seems to be a little roomier in there (used to look like I was wearing a push up bra, even though I wasn’t).  I’ve compared my before photo to now and I can see obvious changes.  My tummy is a lot smaller, my arms are thinner, my wrists and ankles seem narrower, my arms and legs are starting to change shape and get angles where once there were only generous curves.

Mowing the lawn and vacuuming the house are easier.  I’m happier in myself and motivated to do stuff around the house, even after a big day at work.  Currently having a ruthless clean out – book case and wardrobe done.  Still got the linen cupboard, art room and kitchen to go.   I always get the yearn to have a clean out at Christmas time.  New year, new start maybe?

My moods were great to start with, then I went through a few weeks of being super moody and letting negative thoughts mess with my head but that seems to have passed for the moment and am feeling invincible again.  Maybe my body is just adjusting to everything that’s happening.  Poor thing is probably in a little shock.

So it’s all sounding good except for those damn scales.  And of course, being the Queen of Impatience doesn’t help.  People keep telling me muscle weighs more than fat but surely I can’t be going kilo for kilo losing fat and gaining muscle??  Last week the scales finally budged another 500grams.   Whew!

I’m not ready to ask for help.  My heart isn’t open to that yet.  I wanna figure it out on my own, motivate myself, be my own damn hero.  Show myself I can get my butt out of bed at 4.45am every day to do my #5amworkout.  It’s like I’ve got something to prove to myself.  Like part of me knows I’m strong inside but the other half isn’t so sure and needs a little convincing.  I’m still going though, because I know I feel better and look better already.  And sooner or later, everything will kick in and the scales will show the hard work I’ve been doing.

I think I’ve done okay considering I couldn’t work out for 2 weeks early on because I got a mega case of bronchitis.  And then about 3 weeks ago, I tore all the muscles in my shoulders (kinda over did it with the weights and over extended and then did push ups), so have only been working out the bottom half of my body.  Lots of squats and Tae-Bo kicks.  My hubby showed me how to use the home gym we’ve had collecting dust and rust for ages – but haven’t been able to use it because of my shoulders.  I’m a little frustrated but it’s only slowing me down a little.  If anything, it’s making me more determined to keep going and working though and around my injury.

I really can be a stubborn little shit sometimes.

I’m guessing motivation comes and goes.  And I know Christmas will be a challenge – plum pudding and custard – oh baby.  But the success I’ve had so far, even with my setbacks has given me a courage boost to keep going.  It’s only been 9 weeks and I can see big differences.  I’m kinda excited to see the changes in another 4 weeks when I head off to the weekend art retreat that was the catalyst for starting.  And buying new jeans for winter in a few months time – hopefully in a smaller size.

I want to lose weight – because the number on the scale isn’t good.  But I don’t want to get skinny.

I want to get strong. 

I want to get fierce. 

And I want to be my own damn hero.

Coral. xo

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#Project Get Strong


They don’t look like this on Pinterest??? My “just did a 5am workout” face


#Project Get Strong

I’m a sweet tooth. It’s my weakness.  Baskin and Robbins icecream, especially their original chocolate and honey macadamia.  Byron Bay Malteaser gelato comes pretty darn close too.  Biscuits like Tim Tams and Monte Carlos.  And I’m a dunker.  I love to dunk my biscuits in iced coffee milk or a Milo.  Chocolate not so much although I’m a sucker for a Wagon Wheel which is really a biscuit, isn’t it?  And the texture of cake… Oh my.

And food has been my coping mechanism since I was little. If I have a victory, I celebrate with food.  When I’m not coping with the world, I console myself with food. When PMS strikes, I deal with it with food.  Video day on the weekend, food.  At home sick, food.

The last few years, there has been a lot of coping using food.  Hubby being sick and doctors being no help (don’t get me started).  Being in a day job that makes me feel like I’m slowly choking to death and isn’t the right fit.  Aching for the dream life of being an artist.  Being acutely aware of how square peg I am in a round hole world. Being a perfectionist combined with also being the reigning the Queen of Impatience isn’t the best match in the world.  And let’s not forget my mid life major life reassessment being in the mix.  Wondering if I just think too much.  Maybe I need to get out more.

In reality, I wasn’t eating THAT bad.  But I would often destroy any good eating during the week with a blow out on the weekend.  So I pulled back on the sweet stuff. And if I got anything it was a single serve. A scoop of icecream, not a tub. A chocolate bar, not a family block. No biscuits cause they only come in a big pack.  I cut out the cordial. But it didn’t seem to make a difference.

I set a goal to be a certain weight by the Christy Tomlinson class because I wanted to look cutie patootie in the photos. And I thought it would be a powerful motivator to get my butt in gear.  But with fighting off a cold on and off for the couple of months leading up to it, I managed to put on weight. Ah, damn it!

Christy did a post when she got back about feeling like she needed to do something about her fitness. Her words echoed how I felt. Feeling breathless, not feeling nice in clothes.  And she started posting photos of her workouts.  I decided to get up early and start working out in the mornings because my hubby needed me at night. After a full day of work, and making an early dinner for hubby because he hadn’t eaten all day, the last thing I felt like doing was jumping up and down and running around.  So getting up early means it gets done every day, regardless of what else came my way.

I have an art retreat coming up in January.  In the middle of summer.  I didn’t think about the heat until a friend pointed it out.  Its no fun being pudgy in the heat.  There is gonna be a pool there. And I’m gonna want to use it to cool off. Which means wearing swimmers.  So now I have a new goal to work towards. And having failed the first one, I’m feeling extra motivated. Cause I’m sick of not reaching goal after goal. Cause failing feels really sucky. Cause going backwards means I run back to the comfort of food which just makes me feel crappier.

Because I’m sick of seeing clothes I adore but knowing I can’t wear them cause I’ll look like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle.

So I started my 5am workouts. A combination of 80’s step aerobics (without the g string fluro leotard), 90’s Tae-bo, some yoga moves, some weights and gym exercises.  I did it for a week and a half and was already feeling stronger, working harder, working out longer.  Feeling pretty damn awesome.  Like I had my super hero cape on.  And I was being sensible with my food.  I had set a mini goal to be a certain weight by the Friday.  On Wednesday morning I woke up with bronchitis.  Aah nuts.

But, even though I’ve been dying quietly on the couch for a week and a half, I’ve eaten healthy. Normally, I’d go for burger rings and biscuits for comfort (but not so great for getting better).  Instead, I’ve eaten real food.  Like fruit, simple meals with salad and veges. I’ve eaten small serves. And 1 week after my original deadline, I made my mini goal.  So far, I’ve lost 4kg in 3 weeks.  Yay me!  No, really, Yay me.

Because I feel like I figured out what I need to do for me, for my body, to lose weight. I’ve found a way that works.And it’s not crazy. It’s a workout at 5am that is fun. Cheesy bananas music on my iPod -Backstreet Boys and Taylor Swift are my current favourites. And it’s nice to feel strong by lifting my weights.  They are cast offs from a set my husband bought a hundred million years ago. Round metal ones with peeling paint -very industrial.

I’m loving that it’s about getting strong, not about getting skinny.

And my food isn’t crazy either. Smaller serves.  Lots of salad or veges.  No dairy cause I don’t like the way it makes me feel. And preparation. Healthy lunches, a range of good snacks. No/very little sugar. And I’m following some new people on Instagram for inspiration. Not super gorgeous fitness models who have always been athletic. People who have before and after photos and show how they’ve done it. Who understand seeking comfort in bad food.

I’m not declaring victory just yet. Trust me, I’ve got a long way to go.  But I feel like I might have figured out how to work towards my dream outfit.  How to get fierce and strong.  There will be no numbers revealed just yet. Not until I’ve lost enough to boast about.  I won’t be living on quinoa and kale chips either.

I’m using these for motivation – the pop up on my computer at That Day Job every day just to remind me.  And during the day, they seem to echo in my head.

You can’t out exercise a bad diet.

Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.

Dont drink your calories.

When I eat like crap, I feel like crap.

My blog won’t be turning into a workout blog.  But occasionally, amongst the art, there will be an update or a recipe.  Because finding your firelight isn’t about art.  Its about making yourself blissfully happy.  And that includes feeling amazing when you look in the mirror.

Coral.  xo

PS – I’ll be posting with the hashtag #projectgetstrong on Instagram if you wanna see how I’m going or if you wanna cheer me on.

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