Interpretations of Ireland, How it Came to Be

Watercolor of cottages in Ireland Kristi Johnston

“Emyvale Duo” approx. 12″ x 10″ framed $195

I’m so excited! I traveled to Ireland in September and enjoyed a week of being shown around by a friend who has lived there all of his life and it was AMAZING!! Before I talk about the paintings I’ve made as a result, let me tell you how this all came about. It’s all a result of a childhood connection, Facebook, shared interests and the internet. Here’s what happened….

I met one of my  best friends when I was in second grade in a tiny town in upstate NY. Her name is Kathy and her parents were both from Ireland (sadly, they have both passed away). Kathy’s older sister is Mary and when we were children, I would see her briefly when I visited their home- like most older siblings, she didn’t have much to do with the little ones. The family moved back to Ireland when we were in elementary school, but Kathy came back for our high school years. Like best friendships everywhere, we picked up where we left off, as if no time had passed at all. Unfortunately we then lost touch after college. Then Facebook made the world smaller and finding people easy and I was able to find her through one of her cousins, who was also an old neighbor of mine growing up. Of course, once Kathy and I re-connected there was an opportunity for me to become connected to her sister Mary who had remained in Ireland and married an artist named Nelius. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, Nelius and I were able to enjoy seeing and commenting on each other’s artwork and sharing our professional and family lives. Over the ensuing years, thanks to similar interests and connections, a friendship developed.

When I mentioned casually one day that I would love to see and pint Ireland, Mary and Nelius are such kind and generous people that they invited me to visit and stay with them!! I took them up on that incredible offer (how could I not??!) and that is how I ended up spending a week being shown around by a native Irishman who happens to share my artistic aesthetic and therefore enjoys the same kind of views and scenes that I do! It was heavenly!

Now I’m back and so inspired by the beauty, peacefulness, and ruggedness of the Irish countryside that I have decided to create at least 24 watercolor paintings to share my interpretations of that land. I’m on my way towards that goal and will be sharing the images and their locations here on our Blog.

The one above right is from Emyvale, Co Monaghan. I actually took the photo while riding in the car. I snapped a photo of these cute little cottages on two occasions I liked them so much!  Here’s two more from Emyvale:

watercolor painting of a stone building with red and green doors and a pink hydrangea

“Red Door, Green Door”, approx. 7″ x 10″ framed $180

“Character of Age” approx 71/2″ x 10″ framed $180

You may guess by looking at these that I am captivated by texture and contrast. Ireland was full of these things- I felt like a kid in a candy store!

These two were done from photos taken after Nelius stopped the car and we were able to get out and walk all around. It happens that there were several views of this little area that I am inspired to paint, so you’ll see more from here!

 

“Bales”, Lough McNean, Blacklion Approx. 14″ x 11″ framed. $245

This one below is of the grounds of a lovely little restaurant called Ambledown in Glaslough.

“Ambledown Door” approx 9″ x 11″ $185 framed

 

 

To the right is a sweet scene that is to me the epitome of Ireland: many shades of lush green, gently rolling landscape with dots of sheep. This has the added attraction of hay bales and marsh grasses catching the warm afternoon light.

 

I have another nearly finished from my tour of Dublin, and another landscape coming hot on it’s heels, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

My Dad Is My Hero

One of the most difficult times in a person’s life has happened, I lost my dad last week.

This is so very hard! Myself and my siblings are all really tight knit. My mom and my dad created that. They are the reason that we’re so close today not only to each other but to most of our cousin’s too. We’re Greeks, we love HARD!

Two days after his passing, my brother George and I were sitting in their living room and it hit us that we need a eulogy. We both looked at each other with wet eyes and said, “I can’t do it, You can’t do it either! There’s no way Steven or Nicole could. Who’s going to do it?” We thought maybe his brother Chris. It turned out he wasn’t doing any better than either of us were.

I remembered that when my father in law died a few years ago, his oldest daughter gave the eulogy. I thought to myself; Wow, she did a great job! She gave that beautiful speech about how wonderful her dad was through tears and such grief but she did it! I thought then, how brave of her. I realized now in these moment that bravery had nothing to do with it. It was all about respect and love. That’s when I knew I had to do it.

This is what I want you to know about my dad Jimmy…

I love you Dad, I’ll miss you so much!
~Andrea

Dad’s Eulogy  

Let me tell you a little bit about my Dad. 

He was a man’s man. He was handsome, he had an ear to ear smile. It’s just recently that I realize that I got my big mouth from him. (You can take that any way you like.) He had many friends. (Although I’m sure that most of this was my mother’s doing) They had dance friends, lots of them. He had his ‘poker buddies’. He even added heat to the garage so that they could have a place for a regular game in the winter. He’d tell you that he always won or broke even. He had the friends he’d make with each restaurant he owned too. And what meant the world to to us, his four children is that he always made friends with our friends. All our friends knew him and as we grew up many of those friends would ask about him. 

He’d answer the phone and always take time to goof off with our friends before we ever got to say hello. Mostly he embarrassed us, something that I know now is a parents job and privilege. Our house was “that” neighborhood house. It was in the middle of the neighborhood and it was a corner lot. So all through school and even later on, our house always had kids in the yard. In the summers, after dinner Dad would often pile whoever was there into the station wagon and bring us all to the Ash Street tennis courts. As Rona said recently, “We’d stay until the lights went off.” 

My mom would want you all to know that he loved his life. In his last year or so he would tell her often, how together they lead a very good life. He’d say he was lucky. 

Dad taught us a lot of things, again his job and privilege. 

George would probably say that he taught him to always “show up”. You see, G always played sports though school. There was always a game and dad never missed one! He was always our best cheerleader no matter what we had going on or what we were facing in life, he was always there for us.

Nicole says that he taught her the value of a good laugh. She learned to be goofy and never be embarrassed by it! I believe it’s a key part of how she makes friends. 

Steven learned how to work hard for what you want. He learned that you get out of life what you put into it. 

Me, he taught me my two greatest assets. He taught me patience. He taught me that if you wait it out, you’ll see the whole picture. 

Which goes hand in hand with the most important thing he taught us all. He taught us all not to judge! There was no room for judgement in our house. He never used the words, but we learned that if you judge a person you don’t see the whole of that person. Today that’s my best quality. 

Everything he taught us, he did by example. He rarely sat us down and lectured, he didn’t have to. He raised kind and caring children. Of all the things he did in his long and very full life, raising us to be kind and all around good people is what he’s most proud of. I hope I do half as good a job raising my child as my dad did raising me. 

 

Why Being In Your Body Is Your Fist Step to Change

By now we’ve all heard people saying, “Get back in your body.” or “I really need to be in my body more.” But, do you know what that means? More importantly, do you know how to do that?

Being in your body or getting back into it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s a process and there are no shortcuts. If you try to take a shortcut, you can get close but, you’ll feel the affects eventually. You’ll pay the price for cheating yourself. Not finishing is like scrambling three eggs but leaving one yoke whole. It may taste yummy but ultimately, you and anyone else looking closely can see that it’s just not completely done.

In my work over the past few years Spirit has often reminded me that the only way to make concrete changes in our lives is to be fully in our bodies. That is to say, We must take ownership of our physical being in order to make physical changes in our lives, especially to make changes in our physical bodies! Doesn’t that make sense? Oh Spirit, you’re so wonderful at pointing out the obvious voids in our messy human ways.

But How? Stay with me here, I’m going to take you on a little journey inside of yourself. Do this with me…

*Stand up tall. Feet are hips width apart. Back straight & strong. Chin up.
*Arms hang down with fingers consciously pointing to the earth.
*Deep breath in through your nose. Fill your lungs and belly.
*Slow breath out through your mouth. Empty all the air in your lungs & belly.
*Repeat! This time hold the breath in for 2 seconds. On the exhale, push your belly to your spine to make sure that all the air in your body is out.
*Repeat! Be totally away of the breath moving into your body. Feel how cold it is on your nose. Hold the breath for 2 seconds. Release slowly through your mouth and feel the air releasing.
*Allow your breathing to be complete full breaths as you return to normal breathing. Take a full breath.
*On your next breath become completely aware of your lungs and heart and how they occupy the same space in your chest.
*Inhale into your chest and as you exhale imagine that breath moving down INSIDE your body. Bring it down as far as your belly.
*On the next breath breathe into where you left it on the previous exhale and then carry it down into your hips and tailbone.
*The next breath will bring it into your legs. Here, imagine that breath being carried through the marrow of your bones all the way into your knees.
*The next breath will bring it down the marrow of your calf bones.
*The next breath brings it into your ankles, let it circulate there for a full additional breath. (I’ve found many blocks there. Let the breathe do the work to open them up.)
*The next breath brings it into your feet.
*DON’T STOP HERE
*Breathe it into your toes and souls of your feet.
*One more breath will release it down into the earth. This is where you become fully grounded and totally in your body.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to complete all the steps. The first time will take longer than the second time and the third time will be even shorter and so on. Eventually you’ll be able to move through these steps in just a few minutes. It’s really important, in order to In Your Body, that you take your time. If you are connected to the earth with your roots all the way down like the Mighty Oak, you can do anything.

Now go on and take control of whatever comes your way. Make those changes and move through anything in your way! You got this!

With much Love and Gratitude,
I Wish You Light,
Andrea

Taking Care of Yourself

selfcare at Center for Holistic Healing and ArtSpoiler Alert!! Taking care of yourself doesn’t get easier as you get older. Sorry if that comes as a shock. The daily requirements of getting enough (including appropriate amounts and kinds) food, water, exercise and sleep continue to remain a challenge for me and many of my friends. I somehow anticipated that it was only an issue for the “newly adulting” set, back when I could count myself in that group, but no- it remains a challenge at the best of times for myself as well as for friends in their third decade as well as those in their seventh decade. I have to assume that it continues until, as in childhood, someone else becomes responsible for taking care of us. Add in illness, an increased stress due to major life changes, or both and it becomes a recipe for disaster in the realm of self-care. This is when friends and loved ones are essential. They can offer gentle yet insistent reminders and encouragement to not only meet those basic needs, but to also juggle the myriad questions of what medicines to take and how much, how to modify food and liquid intake, exercise, even when to call out of work!

This is the time of year when so many are getting some kind of transient illness. I encourage you to do two things: 1. Reach out to your friends and family if you are sick and get the support you need so you may get better faster. Don’t try to be superhuman and handle it all on your own. 2. Don’t listen to your friends and family when they are sick and insist that they are “fine”. Give them a little TLC even if it’s just daily phone calls to remind them to take care of themselves.

My message here is this- taking care of yourself is challenging. Don’t give yourself a hard time for having to work at it and think about it on a regular basis. No one really does it automatically, it just looks like that from the outside. It’s worth it to keep aiming for the ideal balance, but it’s not a goal you can attain and then never worry about again. The need for self-care is inescapable, so embrace it and honor the fact that your body’s need change from day to day. Be kind to yourself on this journey, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support. That’s our specialty at Center for Holistic Healing and Art, supporting you on your journey so you can shine!

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

Today I met with a neighbor who finds herself going through changes. She spent 30 years in the very high pressured business world in Boston and has suddenly found herself with loads of time and not very much to fill it with. You know how she’d like to fill her time?? You guessed it, She’d love to submerge herself in the healing and Spiritual world. That’s one mighty big change. So, how does someone do that? And by that, I mean do a complete 180.

Let me preface by telling you that she’s a Reiki Master and she meets with a particular group of other healers at least 3 times a month. She’s been doing this for a couple years. You might say she’s been dipping her toe in the waters for a while. We discussed finding places, shops, centers to spend her time in and meet other like-minded people. We’re in the outer suburbs of Boston, there isn’t too much out here outside of our space which is open by appointment only. She needs more than that. I could only come up with a couple other places without going closer in to the city. 

What next? I’ve been thinking about this since we left each other and this is what I know to be true…
We attract what we put out! It’s the Law of Attraction at it’s finest. If what we’re looking for is something that is different from what we’ve been doing, than we must change what we’re doing. We must change the energy that we put out into the world. Likes Attract! If you’re looking for a new tribe, change your vibe! 

By now you’ve all seen all the memes and received all the inspirational emails but have you really paid attention? Have you actually dropped off the people and the energy that bring your energies down? I can’t stress this enough. Here’s the clincher; If your answer is Yes but your vibration hasn’t risen, than it’s not them, it’s you. You must do the work yourself. It’s not easy but if you don’t do the work, you don’t grow. It’s pretty basic really. It’s like not doing your homework but expecting your teacher to still give you an A+. It’s just not going to happen. Your teacher here is actually your higher-self! Your higher-self needs for you to grow and wants you to get your homework done. This means, meditating and getting fresh air and laughing and moving your body and being with people who vibrate higher than you do and, if you’re a Reiki practitioner (or any other healing practitioner), doing your self Reiki daily. Self care is so important when we go through changes. 

Change is constant. Be the change you want to see in others. 

Namaste
~Andrea

Releasing What No Longer Serves

I love fall in New England! I love the colors, the crisp air, the intense blue skies, and the crunch of leaves on the ground. Ever since I began meditating and working on self-discovery, I have been hearing about the need to release things that no longer serve me. With its falling leaves, autumn now serves as a reminder for me to let go. The trees set a perfect example as they drop their leaves and in fact need to release them in order to enter dormancy to safely survive the winter. The fact that this happens annually also reminds me that letting things go is essential to moving forward and that it is not the “one and done” kind of exercise. It is ongoing and recurring as different aspects of issues that no longer have use in my present life pop up. I used to think once I had identified things I wanted to release and then focused on letting them go, I wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore and they would no longer effect my life.

Oh boy, how wrong I was! Take my eating habits (please!) Many years ago I figured out that some of my poor eating patterns are from my childhood. I had an “ah ha” moment and then set out to leave those behaviors behind. Now just recently I’ve realized that I’ve been letting my 5 year old self make food choices for adult me. Not such a great plan! Now I’m working on taking over adult control since 5 year old me likes carbs far too much!  Each time I understand a new facet of how my past is influencing my present, I deal with it. Old stuff seems to have buried into my psyche in many spots and each one seems to surface under different circumstances. I admit, I get frustrated when something I thought I had gotten rid of entirely turns out to still be influencing how I function. Still, it’s always been worth it to wrestle with it again and release this new aspect of it into the earth. Just like it does with leaves, the earth takes old, unwanted energy and transforms it into something beautiful- like flowers! This season be like the trees and let that old, unwanted stuff go (again, if necessary!)

Changing Relationships

Benjamin Franklin once said: “In this world nothing can be
said to be certain, except for death and taxes.”

He should have added change.

Everything changes- especially relationships. There are so many kinds of different relationships. As a matter of fact everything in life is a relationship. We have relationships with people, places, jobs, money, pets and so much more. All of these things are in a constant state of change.

Last week, and now this week too, the majority of my clients have been going through changes within relationships. The majority of us are very uncomfortable with change. Even those of us who welcome change have limits to how much change they can tolerate. Make no bones about it though, change is inevitable!

So, what do you do when change is barreling down on you? Take a minute and be honest about your answer here, this isn’t a test. Feel into it and recognize where your boundaries to change lie. How far can you go into change before you’re uncomfortable? Let’s talk about pushing our boundaries out further.

You’ve done the first step, just reading that previous paragraph got you to check into those feelings. Next? Let’s get you to feel safe. Remember that the simplest part of change is the ability to change your mind.  If something isn’t working out for me, I have the right to change my mind. So do YOU! By taking control via changing your mind, you take back your power. This will help you feel safe.  What’s important here is to stay open to the process. Never turn your back or hide your head in the sand. That may feel safe, but you can’t hide from change, so you’ll just diminish your ability to cope with it by not facing it. Claim your power by looking directly at what’s happening so you can evaluate all of your options.

Stay in your body! Don’t give in to fight or flight. Neither of these responses will serve you. Let me walk you through how to stay in your body. Do this with me for a bit:
Place your right hand on your heart. Place your left hand on your lower abdomen. Take a deep breath, inhaling into your heart (right hand), and exhale slowly into your lower abdomen (left hand). Repeat . This will take about 20 seconds. Twenty seconds can change everything. I know you have 20 seconds, we all have 20 seconds to invest in our own well being!

I ask you to remember this: You are energy. Your relationships are energy. Everything is energy and all energy is malleable. The energy of the relationship is what’s important here. When you acknowledge this fact and stay present, you are able to make conscious choices and breathe into the change instead of hide from it.

Many of you will disagree with me here but, change is good for us. It gets us to look at things differently and opens our minds to possibility. It gets us free from the mud that our feet are stuck in.  Embrace change and free your mind.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Do You Care for Yourself?

SELF-CARE

We talk about self-care often. We remind our friends and our loved ones to actively care for themselves all the time. But we still don’t do it for ourselves. Why? We’ve got a million reasons why not, don’t we?

This has gotten me into trouble today. You see, I’ve had issues with my back since I was 20 years old. That’s a long time since I’m 54 today. I should have a regular routine by now to help me to support myself. I should have some really good habits in place. Alas, I don’t. I don’t give myself permission to care for myself. Conveniently, I forget to do my regular exercises that would keep my back strong and fit. These are simple and only take a few minutes a few times a day to do, but I still don’t do them regularly.

That’s my issue, what’s yours?! What are your excuses? How simple would it really be to do what you need to for yourself?

Self-care means different things to different people. None of them are simple if you’re the one that needs them. For me, drinking enough and more than enough water each day is simple. For so many, that’s the hardest thing they do all day. Too many of my clients aren’t enjoying themselves enough. Is this you too? For instance when they come to me for energy work or a reading and are on or at my table, their Spirit Guides will make sure that I tell them that they need to laugh more, or be with their friends more often, or get out of the house!

Are you  celebrating life? Your life is worthy of a grand celebration!! Don’t sell yourself short here. I know, it may sound selfish but it really isn’t! Get out there and have more fun.

Me? I need to make a commitment to myself. I know this because as I get older, my body likes to remind me of the commitment that I haven’t made more often. Please, if nothing else, listen to your body. Your body will always show signs of what is going on internally, mentally, and spiritually.

Loving Yourself

Again, it’s easy to say these “I will” statements but until we really learn to love ourselves, all the parts, our self-care suffers. Self-love and self-care really do go hand in hand. One feeds the other.

Now, get a massage, go for a hike, enjoy the beach, meditate, hang out with your friends, eat a marvelous meal, garden, and celebrate your life! You’re Worth It!

I Wish You Light
~Andrea

 

 

Music Makes me Feel Good!

Ok, so I really don’t need research to tell me how good I feel when I crank up my music. My body tells me that! Although I do like knowing that there really is plenty of research that agrees with me. Check out this piece from Healthline. How Music Affects Our Moods

There are even lots of stories of how dementia and Alzheimer’s patients feel when you put music on from their younger years. I especially love this son who takes his dad out and sings classic songs with him. There is just so much LOVE here. Check out the father & son team here.

Imagine this with me: You’re not feeling great. Maybe you’re experiencing symptoms of allergies or maybe you’re worried about something. You’re sulking, your posture isn’t good, you’re generally cranky. What do you do about it?

Me? I generally give in to it for a couple hours. Then I get pissy because I’m not the cranky type. Pissy is a good thing for me because it makes me do things. It puts me into action. I go straight for music. If I’m home I head for my kitchen stereo. If I’m really lucky, I’m alone. If you’re anything like me, you put music on that makes your body move. Once I get that first sway of my hips in I hit the volume button and turn it way up. I dance and I sing, loudly! It doesn’t matter if I can sing or not, I’m singing LOUDLY! I’m dancing like Elaine Benes and I don’t care! My mood has changed and I’m happy again!

Music means so much to me that when I decided that I’d permanently mark my body with a tattoo I put a G clef on my hip. This way I always have music with me.

The moral of my story is simple. Stay happy, raise your vibration, turn the volume up!