Finding My Tribe with Flora BowleyOct 23, 2023
If I’m being truthful I know deep down that I have been an artist all my life, but for large portions of it I did not allow myself to really express my creativity.
I was brought up in the North of England, in the land of heavy engineering, coal mining and ship building. In my world being an artist was not seen as being a ‘real’ job, so I dabbled a bit in school, I took weekend workshops to learn how to sketch and to watercolour, but did little to put the skills I learned into practice.
In 2008 following the end of my 20 year marriage I finally recognised the need to ‘find myself’ and headed to the other side of the world to New Zealand. As part of that self discovery I trained as holistic life coach where I discovered the mindful benefits of creating mandalas. Little did I know that by looking inwards I had opened the door outward to let wild creativity flood in, in the shape of US Artist and Author Flora Bowley.
Even though I was beginning to paint I was still dabbling with my creativity as subconsciously I believed that others were artists, artists were people with Fine Arts Degrees or a piece of paper that made it ‘official’. I believed that artists were people who were born as gifted geniuses who know instinctively how to paint, what they would paint, how it would look and that it would work out perfectly every time. I believed the artist myth that you have to work alone in a cold garret starving for your art, be a recluse and be a martyr to your vocation.
One day while browsing the books in my local art store I came across Floras book “Brave Intuitive You” I sat myself in a corner and devoured the book from cover to cover before leaving the store – something about this was different, I was excited. I bought a ‘big’ scary white canvas, a hand full of acrylic paints, some foam brushes and I headed home with a positive creative energy I had not felt in years.
For the next week I rushed home from work each night working through the exercises in the book – I knew I had finally found something I had been waiting for, when I finally finished the piece which I called ‘the journey’ I could not believe I had produced it, that I had that image and that ability sitting inside me. I exhibited it at my local art club and as it was so different to my other work people were asking which new artist had joined the group (I was grinning inside).
Having completed the book I was looking for more and quickly signed up to Floras e-course of the time. I absolutely loved it and loved Floras teaching style – so open, honest and giving. I waited for the email lesson links to come through like a child waiting for Xmas morning. My canvasses got bigger and bigger, my style became completely abstract, free flowing and with a depth I could never have imagined. I immediately sold 2 of my paintings – and finally was able to admit I AM AN ARTIST.
Then Flora put out an invitation for a week long workshop in Bali in 2014. Within 5 minutes of the email coming through I composed my application, and sent it off. I couldn’t afford it, I had no leave owing to me at work and had no idea how I could make it happen– I put it all in the hands of the universe - I just knew I had to be there. More than 80 people applied for the places on the course, but when I got the email from Flora to say I had been accepted I was ecstatic. In the next few weeks the universe duly delivered on the money and the leave I needed, so I booked my ticket to Bali and waited for the day to arrive.
The week long workshop in Bali did not disappoint, Flora was as open, honest and giving as she appeared on her videos – no diva strops, no being the ‘big I am’ – just a wonderful soul.
The group of amazingly open creative goddesses who attended the workshop felt so like old friends – I immediately felt at home and called them ‘My Tribe’. We laughed together, we cried together and we painted – and painted – and painted, the enthusiasm of the group was infectious. The retreat brought together a wonderful group of women from all over the world, some of which I will call friends for the rest of my life.
During one conversation with Flora I talked about searching for my 'Tribe' back at home and my sadness at not having found it. Flora gave me some sage advice which was "if you haven't found your tribe then make your own".
I took those words very much to heart, and so have created my own "Tribe' not just at home but all over the world. So imagine my surprise when many years later I was reading Flora's book 'The art of aliveness' I turned to page 170 and there in black and white was our interaction. I was stunned!
My favourite part of seeing the start of my teaching journey there in print was when Flora wrote "The best part of that story to me is that she made it happen herself. Instead of waiting for someone to knock on her door to invite her to join the art community of her dreams, she became the inviter. She transformed what appeared to be a lack in her life into the exact inspiration she needed to manifest what her heart truly desired."
So the moral of this story .... don't wait for your someone else to deliver your dream, go out there and make a start, however small. You've got this! Dream BIG - I can't wait to see what you do.
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