Don’t Be Afraid to Paint Your Own Shoes

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Magic ShoesDuring the last class of the spring semester, I told the students “don’t be afraid to paint your own shoes”. Many of the students were graduating then, or will by the end of the year. It was my way of encouraging them to be authentic, to keep learning, to continue growing and pursuing their chosen careers and passions, and to be themselves. I was wearing the shoes I painted last year, and wrote about here.

When I first started wearing those shoes, part of me was concerned about what others would think. There have been some disapproving comments: “one side looks much better than the other” or “but they’re different!” To which, I’d answer: “they are not different, they are a full painting – you can’t have a garden without the sun, right?” And they would leave me alone. As I felt more at peace with my own artwork, I got more reassuring and supportive responses. Several people said that I should sell them. While I’m not there yet, I may start with a T-shirt collection. In the meantime, I do like the idea of expressing my creativity this way. …Continue Reading

Lessons learned from ignoring a gut feeling

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Painting before the changesTowards the end of the year, a friend and I bought a couple of tickets to attend Paint Nites together. We went to one in December, and our paintings came out nice – we both had fun. I hung mine at my new office in school. In early January I had this idea to paint another canvas as a wedding gift. I checked the calendar and sent my friend a couple of options, one on a Tuesday and one on a Wednesday, I was leaving on a trip to the wedding that Thursday. She chose Wednesday, and even though I wasn’t sure that it was the painting or teacher I wanted, or that the day before my trip was the best option for me, I agreed to that evening.

I was also debating if the bride and groom would enjoy it as I had never met the groom, and I’m not that close to the bride to know her tastes either. I booked the night anyway. On that Tuesday evening my friend texted me that she realized she couldn’t make it on Wednesday. By then, my intuition and/or gut feeling was saying don’t go, stay home, start packing, this is not the best time to go, and I don’t remember the other assertive thoughts I chose to ignore. Who won? The parts of me that 1- didn’t want to waste the ticket (once booked, you can’t reschedule it), 2- thought it was really cool to give someone my own painting as a wedding gift. …Continue Reading

Lessons Are Best Learned When Experienced

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Lessons LearnedI’ve been reflecting on the experiences I learned and lived in 2016, and in this article I’m sharing a few lessons I’ve known for years, which I was able to experience and embody more fully last year:

 

 

  1. You only feel judged by someone if you judge your own self.

Although this lesson made a lot of sense to me, I didn’t know how not to feel judged. Every time I felt judged, I started to practice going inward, and checking in. Am I judging myself? Is it something truly relevant here that need to be judged? More often than not I felt judged when others judged me, until this happened… …Continue Reading

Acknowledging that You Matter

Friday, December 30th, 2016

youmatterTowards the end of 2015 I decided that 2016 would simply be better. There were no rules, no expectations, and no resolutions. I owe many of the decisions I made, trips I took, family I visited, courses I purchased, adventures I got myself into, people I connected with, paintings I created, and retreats I attended, to it.

I also committed myself to sending a hand written card a day for the first 100 days of the year, to people who had impacted my life in small or big ways. I’d like to share the details of this journey with you, in case you’d like to commit to acknowledging others in your life, and to spread joy in a similar way or in your own unique way.

I kept going until the 120th day of the year, and then I slowed it down. As I write this post I can share that, since January 1st 2016, I mailed “approximately” (I’ll explain it later) 202 hand written and hand-made cards. After sending the first ten greeting cards, I started hand drawing something on cardstock paper with words that represented the person I was sending the card too. They were personalized, and it brought me great joy to hear that one person had framed the card, while a few others told me they placed it on their fridge, or sent me pictures of it on their walls or altars. …Continue Reading

Making the uncomfortable comfortable

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

Leggings with artworkA friend posted on Facebook that she was going to an “Ecstatic Dance” event. I checked the website and decided to attend it. No alcohol, shoes or talking allowed on the dance floor. Since I had never attended it before I asked her what to wear, and she said “think yoga class meets dance party” and wear something comfortable.

I thought of a short somewhat fancy blue dress that I could wear, but in order to feel the most comfortable, I’d need to also wear leggings. I’m not comfortable wearing leggings in public. If I need to wear them to go to a class, I usually put on a long skirt or another pair of pants. In order to feel more at ease with my outfit, I had an idea… as you can see from the post’s picture: I painted my perfectly black leggings, with blue fabric ink. Not only did I paint them, I also had the courage to take two subways, walk on the streets of Manhattan, visit a gallery in Chelsea with friends, and then go to the dance party a few hours later.

I still felt a bit ridiculous wearing leggings with my dress, but I was also giggling due to the fact that I had painted them. Instead of judging myself for wearing that “weird” outfit, the feeling was overcome by pride for wearing my artwork. I didn’t necessarily replace the uncomfortable feeling, I simply added a new feeling that helped me cope and face it with more ease and grace.

It got me thinking about other areas of life we could use the same strategy. How can we make the uncomfortable more comfortable, more bearing?

  • By painting our own clothes;
  • By seeing the lighter side of things;
  • By letting go of perfection – be it our own standards or the standards we imagine others having;
  • By being here and now;
  • By adding new feelings to the mix, and therefore making the uncomfortable feelings bearable;
  • By looking for creative ways to shift our perception of the situation or action.

How do you find ways to be more comfortable in uncomfortable situations?

Namaste,

Elisa Balabram

No one is coming to the rescue unless…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

Canopy TourMy niece asked my sister and me to take her on one of the adventures we had in January (I wrote about them here). We decided to go through a canopy tour at a different place. I wasn’t as afraid this time since for the most part I knew what to expect. I went first, then my niece, followed by my sister.

By the time I reached the last trapeze of the last obstacle, I lost all strength and mental will to continue. Somehow I sat on the trapeze instead of taking a few steps to the other end of it, and getting to the next tree (by stepping on the platform). The guides were on the ground, while my sister and my niece were approaching the previous tree. I sat down and enjoyed the view, breathing and wondering how I was going to get out of there, hoping someone would rescue me. It wasn’t fear that paralyzed me, it was the lack of strength, the exhaustion, and the lack of mental will I could do it. I think I lost the will a few trapezes before, when I had to use all my strength and raise my leg higher than usual to reach the next trapeze, and it felt daunting. …Continue Reading

Transforming Pain into Art

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

painIf you are experiencing pain in this moment, be it towards someone else in your life, towards a loss, towards yourself, towards the past, or towards something you haven’t achieved or become, consider giving it a voice through art. As I’ve shared before, when I started writing Mending a Broken Heart: Lili’s Magic Journey, the goal was to help with my own healing process. I chose the written form as it is my way of expressing myself and healing. I decided to publish it because it would be great for its lessons to be a source of healing for its readers. Another motivation was to encourage people to create art from their pain.

The drawing in this post is my expression of a pain within that was brought up again yesterday. The pain of not fully expressing my needs, of allowing others to behave in a way that is not respectful or kind, of giving others chance after chance to change, while getting the same results. And then, having them make me wrong. No, I’m not wrong to say no more. …Continue Reading

Living from the Heart Space and Minimizing Hate

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Rainbow HeartI was invited by the host of #SpiritChat on Twitter to discuss the energy of the heart on June 12th. You can read the cover post here. The chat itself brought joy to the participants, as we talked about how to connect with our hearts, and with each other in a loving way.

After what happened in Orlando, FL I asked myself: Was the perpetrator living from his heart space? Is this something that the heart creates or the mind? Is it something that a group, a community, a country, a religion, politics, society, economic crisis, a mastermind group, or a belief system creates? Or is it something isolated, one soul, one mission, one hate?

Every time an act of hate happens, I ask myself what can I do about it? How can I help minimize terror in the world? As I teach business courses, I started to ask my students, what can businesses do? What can we as a community do to touch the hearts of those filled with hate? What can you do? …Continue Reading

Setting Yourself Up for Success and Leveraging Failure

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Hand painted shoes before and after

A perhaps failed attempt to paint a new pair of shoes, made me consider how we can have better experiences when launching a product/project/service. I bought these shoes in Brazil. They didn’t have the color I wanted, and I thought it was a good idea to buy the white one and make it into a painting project. First, I imagined drawing a bunch of flowers on each of them. Then, I started thinking that it would be too difficult and got a new idea to paint the sun on one shoe and the moon on the other. I went to the arts and crafts store and bought fabric ink as per an artist friend’s advice. They only had one option, a box with blue, red, yellow and black colors, and I bought it. On my way home I realized that I needed white to draw the moon. Instead of having to wait until I found another store that had it, or ordering it online and having to wait for shipment, I decided to change the original plan a bit. I kept the idea to paint the sun on one shoe, and decided to draw a flower on the other. …Continue Reading

How to make lemonade when life DOESN’T throw you lemons

Friday, March 18th, 2016

Blank Canvas

In November last year, I attended a weekend retreat in Cape May, NJ and stayed at my friend’s B&B. He showed me a gnome sculpture, and asked if I liked it. I said yes. He then said that I should take it, that it was mine. And I gave him two reasons why I wouldn’t accept it:

  • It’s too heavy and I have a long way home. (I had a ride into Manhattan but had to take the subway to Brooklyn). He responded that he could ship it to me.
  • Gnomes belong in gardens, and I live in an apartment and don’t have one. No argument there.

Last month he asked for my address, and I thought he was going to send me a card in response to the one I sent him. A week later he sent a message asking if the package had arrived. It hadn’t. I thought he could be sending me the gnome, and I had to think about what to do in regards to the absence of a garden. …Continue Reading