Stories

Creating Light photo adventures & inspiring stories.
 

Getting Messy

{ Portrait 45 }

I sat there on my mat with a piece of clay in my hands. Cool, but increasingly warming to my touch. My eyes closed and my mind focused on the malleable surface between my fingers. Pushing and kneading the earthen contours.

Exploring. Playing. Creating.

Like a kid again. 

Until, a tightness crept in. A presence of a voice within, constructing the end game and seeking comparison in the aim of perfection. And in turn, I found myself trying to smooth all the rough edges with an obsessive sense of judgement. Finding faults, and cracks everywhere. 

This exercise, a part of Tiffany's yoga + art therapy workshop, illuminates what happens within so many creative and human endeavours. It stops being about the joy, and the wonder and the experience.

And the simple act of creating for creation's sake. Living for living's sake. Just...being.

Instead, it starts to mirror our deeper fears, and the pressure that comes with trying to achieve perfection, or our definitions "success". 

Tiffany painting

Tiffany is an art therapist and yoga & mindfulness teacher who beautifully weaves together these two arts to create a unique healing practice that brings out the playfulness, curiosity and presence in those she teaches and works with. 

Tiffany_creating art

I asked her why she does the work that she does...

"Because everybody hurts. 

Because everybody has to face challenges in their life. Because life gets messy and the practices of yoga, mindfulness & art therapy have all helped to navigate & process difficult thoughts and feelings about challenging experiences in my life. More importantly they’ve helped me to build supportive coping practices for whenever life throws me another curve ball in the future...Which it will, because life is full of curve balls."  

"Life is full of a lot of light, joy and beauty...And sometimes you have to allow yourself to “get messy” to realize that."  

paint on hands

Tiffany finds that a great deal of the joy in her life comes from connecting with others.  And she is grateful for all of the people she's met through her work & the lessons that they have taught her. As a yoga teacher, an art therapist and a human-being, Tiffany's intention is to always to help others with whatever it is they are experiencing in their life, and to help them feel a little less alone in that experience.  

"Some of us release stress by moving our bodies, some of us gain self awareness by creating an energy scribble with a crayon, some us cope with stress by sitting still, and some of us just need to feel that we are seen and heard by another human being."

"The beauty of yoga and art therapy is that they are both supportive mindfulness-based practices that help a person to simply noticing how they are right now. From that place a person can move forward and I just simply do my best to create a safe space to hold each persons experience & process." 

Tiffany portrait

She also talks about how she connects with her well-being and her practice of self-care...

"When life gets really messy it becomes very difficult for me to practice self-care. My tendency is to keep busy by helping others in the midst of my stressful situations and this leads to me burning out. I tend to become very good at “doing” and I have felt in the past an incredible amount of guilt around making self-care a priority. This is something I’ve learned about myself over the years and something I continue to work on. For me it always comes back to setting appropriate boundaries, this includes honouring your need for self care. 

black and white paintbrush
artwork
Tiffany_yoga pose with paint brush

I think the greatest joy in my life comes from connecting with my family and close friends. Just being in their company is what makes my heart truly smile. I’ve learned that every moment is precious with those you love so I just try to soak up every moment that I can with them. This might include watching silly television shows, or cooking a yummy meal together, or walking my dog, or having a laugh attack that makes my belly hurt, or sipping a coffee in silence."

"Being with those I love & adore is the best thing for my soul."

Tiffany portrait

Tiffany is a gorgeous human being inside and out. And I was so glad to have seen her magic at work that day on the mat at 889 yoga surrounded in a sea of art supplies. I am truly inspired by her courage to take some of the hardest experiences of her life and transform them into a way to help heal and bring the joy of creating to others. She is something truly special

Tiffany Merritt | Art Therapist & Yoga Teacher

Music by ~ Odessa - I will be there

{ A big grateful thank you to 889 Yoga for letting us use their beautiful studio for our photoshoot. }

 
Vivian_dancing

Practicing Surrender ~Vivian~

Sacha Portrait

Our Sisters ~Sacha~

With My Own Hands

[Portrait 23]

It was a rainy Sunday as I climbed up the stairs at Loft 404. The colourful eclectic interior of the classroom and the warm noise of friendly conversation made me easily forget the greyness that clung to the streaming window panes. There were glass jars of ingredients and empty bowls piled before us on the tables as I sat down to the smiles that greeted me at table.

Ever since I was a kid I've felt this innate and strong connection to nature. Just being outside with the trees and water lapping at my feet made me feel calm and grounded. And today, it's no different.

For quite some time I've been struggling with maintaining this connection to the natural world as well as my body. I've felt conflicted about the substances and the products we use in our daily lives. Echoing the connection I try to have with the food I eat, I deeply desired to have that same connection with the things I use on my skin everyday. Simple + wholesome + honest.

And this is why I signed up for Kathrin's DIY Bodycare workshop. Not only do I adore learning about how to make things with my hands from scratch, but I also was keen to expand my understanding of what goes into the cosmetics and products that come in direct contact with my skin.

As she taught the class, Kathrin just had this natural glow. Confident in her own skin, and illuminated by the joy and knowledge she has for her work. As a child, she had very sensitive skin and has learned over the years how to take care of herself through a much more natural approach. And it was through her education as a Holistic Nutritionist, that her work expanded into creating workshops to help others. During the class, she showed us how to make lavender grapefruit coconut deodorant, lime & mint lip balm, calendula shea olive oil healing salve, and a minty toothpaste made from natural ingredients.

Our photoshoot a few weeks later was everything but rainy. As we strolled among the trees in the park, the sun streamed through the leaves and illuminated the greenness around us.

A healer. A teacher. And the beautiful creator of For the Love of Body


Other 100 Portraits stories...


100 Portraits

This year's word is CONNECT.

How often do you truly feel connected to your loved ones? Your body & health? Your work and your heart? The depths of your humanness? I chose this word because I was feeling a disconnect. With so many things. And I wanted to start practicing intention, and also create a deeper connection with the beautiful souls that I photograph.

So I'm giving myself the somewhat overly ambitious challenge of taking 100 portraits this year (gulp!) to tie in with the #the100dayproject.

All of the photographs will be posted on my PROJECTS page. But I wanted to share some featurette stories here.

And today I would like you to meet Davida.

A lovely vibrant gal that I was connected to through the wonderful community of Canadian food bloggers (sending FBC some love!). She is clearly a passionate, talented woman with amazingly contagious energy.

When I walked up the steps to Barre3 where we decided to meet (side note: such a lovely space!), I was immediately made to feel at home. Connected by our interest in all things health, food, & exercise. When reading her website, I especially loved her words on redefining our ideas of being "fit", and practicing more intuitive eating/exercise. AND of course all her yummydelicious recipes.

She describes herself as the writer, photographer and babbling foodie behind her blog, The Healthy Maven. She strives to live a life of balance, full of kale and red wine, exercise and netflix binges and globe-trotting adventures. Davida lives by the motto "if not now, when?" because there is no day like today to turn dreams into reality.

"How you choose to spend your Saturday afternoons is your calling in life".

"...Not in my wildest dreams did I expect that my calling would be health and wellness blog, but I trusted in her words and I've never looked back." - Davida

Thank you for being wonderful Davida!

Follow along on Instagram for more of #100PortraitsofConnection

Women Creating Light | Brigid

APRIL 22nd, 2014 ... A date written down in bold purple ink in my notebook.

It was the day I promised myself to live the life I want to live.

A commitment. To let go of the life I was living for others, and the limiting beliefs I had placed on what was possible.

It was the moment that began the thinking that started the Women Creating Light project journey.

And I am so grateful of the process. I've had the chance to meet such a wonderful, talented and inspiring group of women. And the honour to be able to capture each of their unique spirits and the light that each of them holds, has been amazing.

Brigid_01

Brigid's story is the last of this WCL series. But as the cliche says, she is certainly not the least. 

Brigid started in the world of personal training and fitness, but knew she wanted to expand to incorporate other ways of practicing body health such as yoga, mindfulness and stress management. She now is a Life Coach for Lasting Change where she works with people to let go and embrace the fullness of life. She is also one of the driving forces behind Yogapalooza, an outdoor yoga festival that combines movement, laughter, music and meditation.

This lovely human is a partner in crime with another of the WCL ladies, Alicia. Together they have created Own It. Rock It. Make It Happen a series of workshops that guides others in living well, nourishing body and self, and improving relationships with food. Very inspiring and motivating stuff!

Her newest project is called Breathing Room, a lovely (and free!) program that delivers 5 minute meditations to help women give themselves a moment to let go of their to-do list and reconnect to themselves. Something much needed during this busy & stressful time of year.

Brigid_02

I want to take a moment to share a warm hug-filled THANK YOU to Brigid and all the other women (Alicia, Josie, Abigail, Lisa, Amanda, Martina, Sondi, Lindsey, and Tonya) who have joined me on this project. As well as everyone who has taken the time to follow along and read through their stories.

 

Although this series has ended, it will be continuing in a different light.... to be announced later this winter! 

 

You can read through all of Brigid's heart-filled answers and her thoughts on living with authenticity and the power of laughter:

What drives you? What's your mission?

I am driven by a strong desire to help women step into the fullness of life. Women have so much to offer the world, and yet we often make ourselves small in response to negative messages from the outside world, and from our own minds. My intention is to help women move beyond their perceived limitations and shine their unique light.

Change is hard, but with practice, we can learn to navigate it with grace and emerge stronger, more beautiful and more authentically ourselves. 

Was there a key/favourite moment in your journey so far that has made it all worth it?

I have favourite moments all the time! For me, the sign that I'm on the right path is the number of times I find myself saying, "I love my life!" - which is really, really often. Having healed many of my own limiting beliefs, I now enjoy a depth of experience that I once scarcely knew was available to me. Seeing women change before my very eyes and begin to plug into the joy they've created for themselves is such an uplifting experience. Witnessing women letting go of what no longer serves them, seeing them open up to joy and allow their lives to become an expression of their soul…that's what it's all about. 

Brigid_03

What is your favourite way to nourish your body and/or soul?

I benefit greatly from my regular yoga and meditation practices. In addition to these, laughter nourishes me on such a deep level. Whether I'm watching a funny movie or practicing laughter yoga, it's powerfully healing.

When do you feel the most beautiful?

I feel the most beautiful when I am lit up by love. Whether that's when I'm spending time with my wonderful partner Keegan, or leading a heart-centred experience like yoga, meditation, or coaching, it's experiencing love's energy that makes me shine.

If you had advice for the next generation of young women, what would it be?

Give yourself the gift of time and space. You don't need to figure it all out now.

Let yourself be drawn to whatever opens your heart, and everything will reveal itself. 

"Make the small decisions with your head, and the big ones with your heart." - Emily Keith