Today’s *shared story* comes from artist Soriah Nulliah
I am an artist. From before I was even born…this is what I am. It’s what makes my heart sing… it’s what fuels and sustains me. However…I didn’t always know this or believe this.
I was born into a family and culture that was extremely oppressive, abusive and stifling; there was no room to breathe and grow. Girls were only meant to get married, be obedient and produce (male) children. That’s it! I was not allowed to have my own dreams or ambitions or creative expressions. For me…following my heart and doing what I love has really been the long road of individuation, empowerment and building my self esteem. I used to paint, draw, write poetry and journal when I was a teen but I was ridiculed and belittled so I kept it hidden. I put all of my dreams away in a box and locked it shut. I lost the key.
As I entered my 20’s, I was fractured and very broken…dealing with the deep scars of my childhood experiences and wandering about the world as a lost soul. I entered a long period of soul searching. I left home and managed to educate myself. I travelled and lived in an ashram for about 6 months. I read voraciously, visited museums and art galleries but I was very very lost and living a life that was devoid of heart and meaning. Externally I had everything but, paradoxically, I had nothing.
The turning point in my life was when I turned 30 and went on a 4 month pilgrimage to India. It changed the course of my life. I am of Indian descent but had never visited the land of my ancestors before. It was this journey that led me to the very heart of my SELF and to my art. In the claiming of my whole self, I realized I simply had to create, write and paint; it simply wasn’t an option any more. I found the key to my locked box of dreams; that key was my true SELF!
When I came back from that trip I took classes on painting, drawing and photography. I started putting paint to paper and pouring out my heart onto large canvases. I spent all of my money on fat jars of paint, books and classes. Most of those early paintings were truly horrible…but I was happy for the very first time in my life. My heart was singing and I was learning and growing.
I think the biggest sacrifices I have had to make in the pursuit of my art has been after the birth of my daughter Tara. On one hand I absolutely adore being a mother and raising my little girl, but on the other I absolutely have to paint. So it’s a balancing act of sleep deprivation, guilt, passion, love, time management and creativity – a balance I am still struggling to find! I have an amazingly supportive husband so that helps tremendously.
Motherhood completely changed me and ignited all of my maternal instincts with wanting to be there completely for my daughter. And just to complicate things, motherhood also fired up my creative juices and I had all of these paintings and stories inside of me just aching to be told.
Doing what I love doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer disappointments, frustrations and setbacks. What it does mean is that when I do experience these, my heart and passion allows me to sustain the commitment to my art.
What do I wish I had known back then? Hmmm…everything and nothing! Every single joy, heartache, pain, success and failure has led me right to this moment here; it’s all part of my personal journey. In many respects I have had an extremely difficult and painful life yet I firmly believe that those very same experiences have allowed me to be the person/mother/artist that I am today. I can be a great mother to my child because I never had that for myself. I can tell these stories of brokenness and wholeness because I have been on that very journey. Doing what I love continues to be humbling, healing, invigorating and exciting.
[Images courtesy of Soraya Nulliah. Find out more about Soraya on her blog]
Once upon a time… there was a little girl who lived by a world famous Museum in a little midwestern town. Instead of taking ballet or piano like her friends, she begged her parents to let her take ART lessons. And from the moment she walked across the shiny marble floors, smelled the museum air, and took a gander at some amazing art ~ she was hooked. Each and every summer during the next 5 years was spent taking classes, learning new things, and just soaking in the beauty that came from human imagination! But like all little girls ~ she grew up, and sadly, lost her confidence somewhere along the line between high school and college. So quite naturally, she believed that the next best thing to being an artist was to be a therapist and work with children. Although in truth, she never stopped dreaming or yearning to unleash the colors that swam around in her brain. . . always reminiscing about what could have been if she studied fine art.
In the middle of all of that studying and hard work, prince charming came along and swept her off her feet ~ LITERALLY! He took her to see the big wide world, made her see things from a new perspective and loved her silly and adventurous side (oh yeah, this girl was fun)! She skied in the Alps, scuba dove off the Great Barrier Reef, went cliff diving, swam with a shark, rode on the back of a motorcycle through Spain, attended a wedding in Italy, sat in the back of a C-141 cargo plane to Pago Pago, went skydiving, and traveled the world ~ all before the age of 30.
Then, like an answered prayer, she became pregnant and happily traded in creativity on canvas for staying at home with her babies and being a full time mommy. Until one day, it became clear that she must put brush to canvas again. The time had come for her art to become a vehicle of healing after the most devastating loss of her newborn baby girl ~ Amelia. This sweet little girl that didn’t get to live, gave her mother the push she needed to create again. And her artistic soul was set free! And that is where I am now. I have spent almost 20 years with my college sweet heart and best friend! He is the most beautiful man I have ever met and I love him and our children to distraction. I am not nearly as adventurous as I used to be, unless you consider being pregnant 5 times and choosing natural birth an adventure (ahem ~ I do).
I started Beyond Words Designs (art… celebrating life) as a tribute to my daughter and the life that she never got to live. Amelia is my muse and in my every thought as I sit to paint. I am so grateful to her for helping me rediscover my LOVE of painting. I hope to make a difference with my work. I am on a mission to celebrate all mothers of the world and the lives that left too soon.
I have some big dreams. I would love to have my work be used in publications dealing with pregnancy, birth, grief and baby loss. I dream of being recognized in publications and print. I would love to write more (maybe even a book), to create and teach an art class where the focus is on healing. Who knows… maybe Hallmark will need a new ‘birth and pregnancy’ greeting card. I also want to continue to stretch my comfort zone. To remember to be open to new and scary opportunities. For example, I would not be the first person to volunteer for a public speaking engagement, but I am totally curious about how that must feel. Being in the spotlight, giving voice to your thoughts… all eyes on you. I completely admire people who can do this.
And at the end of my story… I will be happy if I can model for my children that they can do anything they set their minds to, that no goal is unreachable and that they should follow their passions. I want to raise dreamers not drones.
[All images courtesy of Stephanie Dyer. To find out more about Stephanie visit her website here]
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