I've had lots of different versions of my art tattooed onto fans and collectors alike, and it is always such a great honor to me. For someone to want to permanently place a piece of my art on their body is the best compliment as an artist I can ever receive, nothing can top that! So, when I found out that my daughter and a group of her friends all decided to tattoo my symbol "Embrace the Chaos" all at the same time I was completely blown away! And to know that a celebrity of Marc Anthonys level of fame also received the tattoo at this "tattoo party" was such a thrill! Unknowingly hundreds of thousands of his fans have seen the tattoo, but I know, and am so amazed that he wanted to add this symbol to his collection of tattoos. And incidentally his tattoo artist friend, Rafael Valdez, was there creating the tattoos, and got one as well :)
The "Embrace the Chaos" symbol is part of my enlightenment series where I have created a new set of symbols that empower us to find inspiration in everything around us. MAD symbols are each designed with the intention to inspire and empower. Enso, the familiar circle of enlightenment, was the main source of inspiration for all of the circle symbols, and of course I added in my own special MAD touch. The "Embrace the Chaos" symbol is about accepting what we cannot control, and instead controlling how we react. Things are going to happen in all of our lives that create chaos and uncertainty, but we cannot let it control us, or let it bring us down. We have to rise above and embrace it and know that it will be short lived; the chaos does not define us, we do.
Here are some other sources of inspiration and what they mean and how they are applied to my custom symbol designs below:
ZIBU | Means "listen within" from the zibu angelic language of symbols. Zibu angelic symbols were created by Debbie Zylstra Almstedt during a Reiki session in 2002. She claimed to have experienced a communication from a group of Angelic Guides. Each Zibu Angelic Symbol is an interpretation of a message from Angelic Guides. A seemingly sub category of Celtic symbolism.
CELTIC | For centuries, Celtic symbols and signs held incredible power for the ancient Celts in every way of life. The word "Celtic" refers to people who lived in Britain and Western Europe from 500 BC and 400 AD. Celts were of the Iron Age and lived in small villages which were led by warrior chiefs.
The written records remaining from the Celts of Europe are scant, therefore signs and symbols can be hard to determine and trace. Many facts come by way of the Romans, who conquered the Celtic lands during the rise of the Roman Empire.
REIKI | Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
If you would ever like to use any of these symbols as a tattoo please let me know and I would be happy to give permission, and would love to see the finished work!
It's my Birthday today! And for this entire week I'm offering some unique Circle of Life paintings at reduced prices as a thank you to my fans and collectors for following me and my art for so many years, I am truly blessed to follow my passion and make a fulfilling career from it. You can see all of the paintings as they become available on the Mini PoP Monday page. And I wouldn't be able to do it without all of you, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will also be donating 20% of all proceeds from original paintings sold this week to No More Tears, a Miami based charitable foundation that is devoted to providing individualized assistance to victims of Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence in the U.S.
As a survivor of domestic abuse it is important to me to be able to give back and help other women who are in a similar situation as I was and be able to be free and live the life they truly deserve. I hope I can inspire other women to know that there IS a better life for them free from abuse and fear. This past year has been the best year of my life, I'm living my dreams, painting full time, building a new business, traveling and riding and racing my mountain bike, my second passion. I feel like I'm finally able to be myself after decades of being repressed, and fear governing everything I did and said, but no longer! This year has been filled with growth, change, revelations, and new beginnings. I wake up every day thankful and blessed, motivated to chase after my dreams and create new ones, and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
This coming year is going to be even more amazing, I can feel it! I started a new business venture with my amazing daughter Aroon to create luxury, vegan purses from my art. You can see the current bags available at www.livinthemadlife.com and we release new collections every quarter to offer artistically beautiful purses for you to show your love and zest for life in a uniquely special way through art and sustainable fashion. This brand also donates a portion of all proceeds to both No More Tears and The Talkin' Monkeys Project. Giving back is a crucial part of my new life, whether it's by supporting charities close to my heart, or helping to inspire other women to live their best lives.
I've also become much more involved with my biking, and have some great events coming up soon that tie in with my art, it just doesn't get any better than that for me! My biking has been my saving grace this past year, it allows me to leave any worries behind and just be outdoors and focus in the moment. I've also met so many wonderful and amazing people in the South Florida cycling community who have welcomed me with open arms and are so supportive of my biking endeavors, including Arnie, owner of Bike Tech stores and VeloSport Events, who I am doing a very special event with soon, and am honored to be an Ambassador for. I'm also going to be racing an entire mountain bike series for the first time ever, wish me luck, haha!! As a woman, cycling is a truly empowering experience in so many ways. It's very much a "mans sport", the ratio is close to 80% men to only 20% women; but myself and other women, and organizations, like VeloSport Events, are working to change this and get more women on bikes! When I'm riding I feel free, energized and focused on the job at hand. Knowing that just by showing up at the trails, racing and sharing my overall love for the sport I'm opening doors for other women to do the same; to make women aware of how rewarding it is to be on a bike, whether as a way to workout, be competitive, for the sheer pleasure of it, or all of the above! And to also let more men see women on the trails and road, and that we are here to stay and help grow the sport. It's one of my goals and dreams to inspire as many women as possible to get out and ride and experience the freedom and joy that comes with being a badass woman cyclist!
I'm also starting to paint some new abstract, symbolic paintings that incorporate my love of biking with my art, truly a fulfilling experience for me to combine my two passions, look for more of these paintings to come to life soon! I have also started to video all new paintings and create time lapse videos that can be seen on my YouTube channel.
So many wonderful opportunities coming up for my art and cycling over the next year, I'm super excited to share them with all of you as they happen. Thank you again for being a part of my life and art journey, YOU all inspire me to keep reaching for the stars and following my passions, I hope I can do the same for you.
Happy New Year!! 2018 is going to be an amazing year, lot's of great plans, goals and dreams to work towards, one of which is the new designer purse brand "Livin the MAD Life™" my daughter Aroon and I have co-founded that features my art and is sustainable and cruelty free fashion for the empowered woman.
Livin' the MAD Life Mission Statement and Purpose:
It is no secret that women and men have different privileges, whether it be in the workforce or home. Today, more than ever, women are trying to change the way society defines the female role. And we want to be apart of that change.
Livin' the MAD Life is run by a mother and daughter duo, who wanted to create a company that supported the female empowerment movement. And one thing most all women love and have in common, is the love for all things fashion. We not only wanted to create gorgeous bags and purses, but we wanted to incorporate something more into each design. Therefore, each bag and design has a MAD symbol, or multiple symbols, worked into the art work. These symbols can stand for empower, strength, courage, love, etc, to see what all of our hand painted symbols stand for, visit our symbols page.
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, only behind the oil industry, and it is only growing. Today the world now consumes around 80 billion pieces of clothing annually (up 400 percent from 20 years ago.) Livin' the MAD Life, recognizes the need for fashion pollution awareness, which is why we only use thrifted and up-cycled products for our original purses and bags.
Although our limited edition and logo bags are not thrifted or up-cycled, they are works of art and each individually hand signed by the artist to make them more of a collectors piece, versus fast fashion.
Behind every fur coat, leather bag, suede belt or alligator boot was once a living animal, and millions are killed annually to support the fashion industry. Therefore, we have decided to keep all of our bags and purses made from vegan or synthetic materials. No animals were harmed in the making of these bags, and we hope to spread the cruelty free movement.
Mission Statement..."To empower women through sustainable and purposeful fashion."
Over the years I've created lot's of different ribbons, for breast cancer, leukemia and even lupus, but this time around I'm creating a purple ribbon to bring awareness to domestic violence, October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. This ribbon is also much more personal to me, and I hope it will empower other women who are, or who have, dealt with domestic abuse, to free themselves and Live their Best Lives.
This is a very difficult post for me to write, because I am baring the deepest, most hurt part of my very soul, but I want to share my story to hopefully help other women get through a similarly difficult time in their own lives. Even writing this is causing a lot of emotions to well up, but I want to share my story to help even one other woman in some way. I was domestically abused, physically, mentally and emotionally for a number of years and the effect it had on me for so long created a life of fear and shame...It shut down a huge part of who I was as a person, I was always in fear of being myself, of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, being the wrong person. It's only recently that I've been able to forgive myself for staying in that relationship, and I now realize I wasn't a victim, I Am a SURVIVOR, I made it through and I feel so much stronger and empowered than I ever could have if I hadn't went through such a difficult time. I'm going to take this self empowerment and use it to help other women become empowered and stand up for themselves and take back control of their lives.
I think of my younger self who suffered the abuse and my heart breaks for her. I wish I could have been there for her the way I am now, with strength, confidence and determination...she should never have had to go through that heartbreak on her own, and I don't want any other woman to have to go through anything similar on their own either. There ARE people out there you can turn to, don't try and do it on your own. Tell someone in your family, a close friend, the police, and if none of these seem to be an option, there ARE organizations out there to help you get through this, whatever you do, you MUST talk to someone to help you get out of the situation. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse until many years later, not even my amazingly supportive family and friends; the shame and embarrassment and misguided loyalty to my abuser stopped me from saying anything. But, if I had spoke out then it would have ended, I could have been free instead of enduring in silence for such a long time. Please don't do that to yourself, find the help, reach out to someone, anyone who can help you extricate yourself from the abuse you find yourself in...and know that it is NOT your fault! You are not to blame for your partner losing control over themselves, that is upon them, NOT you. Once they have used violence, or any form of abuse, against you, you owe them nothing...nothing.
I want women to know that there IS hope, you CAN be free, don't ever forget that. you are a SURVIVOR and have the strength within you to get out. It may seem impossible at times, but the rewards on the other side are well worth what it takes to extract yourself from the abuse, I'm proof positive. I'm living my best life and so happy and free to be me, with no fear of anything, I truly am fearless and embracing my new life with joy and positivity...and it just gets better every day. Work on creating this same life for yourself, do what you have to, to be free.
I am in such a good place now in every aspect of my life because I've moved on from the abuse...and abuser. It was a lot of deep emotional and spiritual reflection that I had to go through, talking it out with people who supported me and helped me understand I wasn't to blame and that I am so much stronger for having made it through...and I AM! I am in a place I could never have dreamed I would be years ago, I feel so free and empowered, and at the same time full of love for the world. This might seem counter intuitive because of what I've gone through...but I don't want to be bitter, or distrusting, or focus on only negative things, I want to be a positive light for other women to look to and know there is hope. You can and will survive this, you will get out and you will forge ahead with a new life that YOU build. You will be the person you deserve to be and live YOUR Best Life...don't ever forget that, hold onto it with every breath you take and move forward with grace and love and hope for a true life of YOUR making.
It's so important for everyone to understand what domestic violence does to someone. It's often not the physical abuse that is the most detrimental, it's the mental and emotional damage that comes with it, the fear that lives with you every day. The fear of saying something wrong, doing something wrong, and not even knowing if it's going to be what triggers the abuse, it's a horribly demeaning way to live. And it's the ultimate betrayal, that the man who is supposed to protect you has turned against you...cuts through to the very soul in a way that can't even be put into words. And it doesn't matter if the abuse stopped years ago...the trust has been broken and can't ever be fully regained. These are memories that are burned into my very being, each one of them like they happened yesterday. But, even though the memories will never go away, the pain and fear has been removed by removing myself from the abuse itself. Once I did that I was able to fully heal and focus on rebuilding my confidence in myself and I have been able to do just that, and so proud of how far I've come and want other women to be able to experience the same thing. But, in order to get to a place of healing you have to first GET OUT, don't wait another day!
If we think of ourselves as victims it takes away our power, and I want to EMPOWER women, not victimize them. I want to keep the discussion open, bring more awareness to this issue and empower women to free themselves and their children from abusive relationships and live THEIR Best Life.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Intimate Partner Violence or Battering)
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury. ~ Taken from now.org
These statistics are mind boggling, but as someone who never reported the abuse towards me, I can imagine how many other women have kept silent and endured the pain, and perceived shame, of the abuse. I want women to know they have NOTHING to be ashamed of, it is your abusive partner who should be ashamed to have ever thought violence was an option against you, it NEVER, ever is.
All of the proceeds from my "I Am..." collection of t-shirts, mugs, prints, etc. will be donated to womens organizations in the Miami area that help women get out of difficult situations and empower them. I am going to continue to bring more attention to this issue and empower women in whatever ways I can to be strong, confident and stand up for yourself at home, in the workplace, anywhere and everywhere...you are powerful, strong and beautiful, don't ever forget that....you can do whatever you set your mind to, I believe in you...you need to believe in yourself.
I'm not telling my story to look for sympathy, or for anyone to feel sad for me, not at all, I'm very strong, very empowered and know where I'm going in life and what my purpose is...to tell my story and help other women feel the same strength, power and confidence that I now do. If I can help even one woman I will feel like what I went through leads me to a higher calling. If I don't share my story, it just lives inside of me, as a dark secret, and serves no one, not even me; but by sharing it gives purpose and drives me to be a better person and to help and inspire other women to be the same. And I'm here to talk with if anyone needs someone who deeply understands what you are going through - I Am...Here.
Time to do some inner awakening and self development. When we go through life changing events there is no better time to really take a look at ourselves and determine how we can be a better person for ourselves, the people in our lives, and anyone new we allow in. Reading books from others perspectives on how to maximize our potential and be the best versions of ourselves provides insight we can't get on our own, so I'm delving into these books while looking to improve myself :)
I know I have several issues that I need to learn to control and use for better purposes, or just not to do at all, here are a couple of them. First off, I have the need to always be right...problem is, about 90% of the time I am, causes quite a conundrum for me! Because along with this need to always PROVE I'm right is my obsessively competitive nature, more on that in a bit. I'm a well educated person that loves to constantly learn and know what is going on in the world around me, so I do know a lot, but the problem is...I don't ALWAYS have to show that I'm right. What purpose does it serve, other than to stroke my ego, to prove I know the answers to a lot of things? There is a place and a time to share information, and THAT'S what I need to remember, if people ask me if I know the answer for something, or it fits in with a conversation that's fine, but I need to not interject and make a point out of knowing what I do if it isn't serving a higher purpose to help others learn...this is my challenge and one I will be actively working on.
Now, back to the obsessively, intensely, competitive nature...this one is a toughy for me. I've been this way as long as I can remember, ask my family, they get a lot of laughs at my expense over this one! They love to think up stupid challenges just to be entertained because they know I won't back down from any of them, hahaha!
Here is an example of how ridiculous I can be, I tend to lose a little control when competition and adrenaline get together, lethal combination for my nature, haha! On my 40th birthday I went mountain biking at the local trail, I was feeling super strong and had on my Strava biking app where other bikers can compete against each other for the fastest times on the trail. Well, I knew I was on a PR time and the adrenaline was through the roof...that's what happens when I get competitive, waaaaayyyy too much adrenaline. So, I come around one of the last corners before the end of the trail, and next thing I know I'm off my bike sitting in the middle of the trail in a sandy patch. I looked around and realized my front tire must have hit the gnarly, crossed up root in that corner at just the wrong angle and launched me into the sand...well, no time to worry about that, I needed to quickly hop back on my bike and finish my PR Ride! So, I went to stand up and my left foot completely gave out from under me...what the heck? There was no pain, nothing, just was not able to use my foot, it was completely collapsed. So, I started hollering for my husband and other biking friends who I could hear in the parking lot talking. They immediately knew something was wrong and came running, my husband got to me first...and here's the really stupidly, awful competitiveness kicking in overtime...I literally tell him to take my backpack that had my phone with the Strava app still running, and tell him to quickly run past the finish of the trail (just around the corner) so I would get the full ride with my fastest times....yeah....pretty.bad. He of course looked at me like I was a lunatic, and rightly so, and kudos to him for telling me no, even when I insisted...well, it ended up that I broke my foot in three places and needed plates and screws. But, here is where my competitive nature actually helped me, I didn't stop riding my bike once my foot healed, I got right back on and wasn't going to let the fear of getting hurt hold me back. I love to mountain bike and wasn't going to let a little setback like that stop me, but I did learn my lesson to not be so ridiculously stupid with it, that's just plain dumb, haha!! But, it does give you an idea of the extent of my competitiveness and how I CLEARLY need to learn to control it, before it gets me into more serious trouble.
I also need to NEVER, ever again, play Monopoly with my significant other, that is just asking for trouble, haha!! You can ask my daughter Aroon and her friend Alissa...I think we traumatized her. It was NOT a "family time" moment, that's for sure, it was very cold, out for blood competition between me and my ex and didn't end well. I don't think he and I spoke to each other for the rest of the night...so I learned my lesson with that one, just.don't.do.it...DON'T.
I have been able to successfully use my competitive nature as an athlete, both as a kid with running, and even as an adult with mountain biking, and within my business, without causing harm to others. But, there are instances where I do stupid stuff in the name of competitiveness or get competitive with people I shouldn't...these are the situations I have to be wary of and instead focus my competitive nature on positively growing and building my art business to be the most successful I can...this will be my competitive focus (along with sports) for the most part going forward, turning what can easily be a negative for me into a positive :)
By looking within ourselves and our actions we can understand who we are and how we can fix ourselves, if we never delve deeper and acknowledge our faults we can't fix them. It's not always easy to dig deep and face the parts of ourselves that need to be worked on, but we can't be the person we should be and deserve to be if we deny ourselves that insight.
By speaking out loud about our faults, and sharing with others, it makes us really look deep into how we can better ourselves and hopefully inspire people to do the same for themselves...share your story!. We should always be striving to grow and mature throughout our entire lives, we are always a work in progress, just like my art :)