christmas ideas

NOURISH + NURTURE + WABI SABI WISDOM...

corner of my home, part 1.

corner of my home, part 1.

One of the most important life lessons I’ve learnt in recent years - a lesson that is still very much a work in progress - is to prioritise nurturing and nourishing myself. And to understand what that even means. There is common theme of religious text about giving to others. And that being a woman is a nurturing - to the point of self-sacrificing - role: Others before self. So most of my life, I grew up not even conscious that I thoroughly believed that to give to myself - to look after myself - was incredibly selfish. This understanding, this belief has been all around me my entire life - in conversations and in the general atmosphere. And although I have always been drawn to Buddhist philosophy (not the religion but the ideas), it focusses heavily on selflessness and egolessness. When I was young, this strengthened what I felt which was that “I am of no value”, “I do not exist”. And if I ever did feel like someone had been unjust toward me or I felt like I needed to stand up for myself, or simply say “no”, I thought that it was a selfish act. And that was confirmed by the reactions from others I received when I did stand up for myself. Which made me feel guilt and shame. And so the cycle continued for many, many years…

corner of my home, part 2.

corner of my home, part 2.

Until I stopped it. That was when I went to Paris in 2006. When I left all that I knew to be safe. With distance I learnt that much of what I understood to be safe wasn’t safe. It was an illusion - an illusion “to keep me safe”. That’s a very hard reality pill to swallow.

But what I discovered in this journeying was incredible: I discovered that I am safe. Within me, I am safe - I am capable of nurturing and nourishing myself. I am strong and wise and beautiful, and I can fly without a safety net below. For me to even write those words in a public space - let alone think and feel them deeply to be true without feeling selfish or guilty or ashamed - is huge. It’s a magnificent feeling, and it’s a feeling I want every person I encounter to experience. If I could give this feeling to everyone in the world, I would. That’s why I’m so compelled to do what I do, to learn everything I can about intuition and support people in connecting with their intuition (as this is the foundation of it all) in as many different creative ways as possible…

At this time of year, so many emotions rise to the surface. For me, I think of my original family and how we are no longer connected, I think of times spent together in the past, but mostly I think of my Mum. I miss her enormously at the moment. I want to hug her, tell her all that I’ve learnt this year through the experiences I’ve had, I want to tell her I understand now how much she did for us that I didn’t truly realise until now, and how grateful I am for her being my mum. I want to tell her that I wish she had been more self-nurturing, and that I’ve been wondering if she might still be here if she wasn’t so self-sacrificing in order to boost the lives of those around her. Mums are our original anchors. Literally - our umbilical cord was attached to their inner most sacred space which nourished us for ten moons. And until we find our own anchor within, we will always be attached to hers, even when she is no longer living.

But I am feeling a significant shift within and all around. The more time people spend reflecting inward, the more we understand our society and ourselves, and the more we can be in life without trying to put anchors in material wealth, in beliefs, in events and in other people. We will be anchored in our own self - not ego, but ‘self’ - and we can form deeper, real connections through our intuition with those around us.

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Christmas is one of those yearly events that I still find difficult to release anchor, even with my awareness and the positive changes we’ve made. It’s so ingrained in our way of life that I still find myself wanting it to be a certain way, to feel a certain way. I know it’s because the anchor is still there, and I’m slowly working on pulling it up and placing it back inside myself.

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WABI SABI WISDOM from Beth Kempton…

(an excerpt from Festive Season Reimagined, page 10)

Beth Kempton is a friend and fellow author whose knowledge and enthusiasm for Japanese culture knows no bounds. She recently released a gorgeous book all about the concept of wabi sabi, titled Wabi Sabi: Japanese wisdom for a perfectly imperfect life. I asked Beth her thoughts on how we can incorporate wabi sabi at this time...

“So many of us put pressure on ourselves to deliver the perfect Christmas - a perfectly cooked dinner in a perfectly tidy house, with perfect gifts for everyone and perfectly convivial conversation all day long, but in doing so we are setting ourselves up for stress and pressure. This relentless pursuit of Christmas perfection often makes us forget to enjoy the precious moments that occur when we aren’t paying attention. Embracing the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, which reminds us to appreciate the beauty in imperfection and the gifts of simple natural living, can bring calm and love to your festivities. Give yourself permission to let go of traditions that no longer serve you and seek beauty in the small moments of magic offered by the season.

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Thank you Beth for sharing your wisdom in your book and extending your knowledge with all of us through our connection. It’s such great advice to carry with us as we move through the next few days.

I have a number of beautiful projects in the works for the year coming to enrich and ignite that part of us that is yearning to be heard. In the meantime, I’ve created lots of content over the past month or two that will support you in your creative pursuits, I have listed them below.

There has been much loss and endings this year - I’ve observed many long term relationship breakdowns, business endings, and life passings. For some it will be a tough time, which is why I cannot emphasise enough the importance of reimagining this week as a time for self- nurturing and nourishing - and if you don’t know what that means for you, to take the time to think and reflect on it. It’s a whole chapter in my book, which you can order digitally if you’d like to read it straight away. The second print run is on its way too, and I’ll continue to send out orders when they arrive. It’s not a book just for now, it’s for the whole year, so you’ll benefit from it now and for the years to come.

Happy festive season dear hearts,

With Love,

Pia xx

PS. Yesterday I wanted to talk to my mum, hug her and be in her presence and last night I did just that in a dream. I feel like I just saw her, and today the grief has transformed. I’m not sure if it’s my connection to my heart space, but this is one thing I’ve been able to do whenever I’ve needed to since she passed. Perhaps it’s a side effect? I’ll see what I can find out and let you know - if so, it’s yet another incentive to strengthen it within us.

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Links to check out over the festive season:

New piano compositions on Patreon including the latest one I recorded yesterday. If you become part of the collective now, you’ll be able to download all 6 songs to create a playlist to listen to to strengthen your connection to your intuition - it will be a wonderful way to end and start the new year if you feel that deep desire to pursue your dreams but don’t know where to start.

Reimagining the Festive Season, and interview between me and Kayla Robertson on the All Being Well podcast. All about how to reflect, self-nurture and reimagine this time of year.

Episode 8: Christmas aka The Festive Season podcast with Shona & I - a bit of light hearted banter about how different this time of year is! (scroll down the bottom to listen)

Bonus episode: How to Reflect on your Parenting with Shona & I - a podcast with questions to prompt you that not only work for parenting but also for your career (scroll down the bottom to listen)

The Ever-Evolving Wreath Tutorial...

My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

My ever-evolving wreath for 2018: it’s wild & free, like my heart.

How are you feeling as we near the end of the year? The frenzied energy is well & truly upon us! For those like me, who feel… what’s the word… resistant? Yes, that’s what it is for me - resistant…we might feel inclined to retreat and search for solace at this time amidst all the busy-ness. That is what compelled me to write my new book Festive Season Reimagined - to find ways to reconnect with our inner strength, resilience and joy. That’s our intuition - it’s something we all have, something that no one or no thing can take from us: it’s our heart, our jewel, and I absolutely love supporting people in finding their heart and letting it take the lead in making their everyday decisions. It’s a way of life that is unique to you and when you are living it, you’ll know. It’s a wonderful feeling.

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Last week Diana Moore from Home Beautiful wrote a lovely post about Festive Season Reimagined, featuring an extract on the “ever-evolving wreath”. If you have signed up for my emails and instagram after reading the Home Beautiful post, welcome! I then posted on social media a photograph of my ever-evolving wreath for 2018. It took me only a few minutes to make, and it now adorns the front door. I asked if anyone would like a tutorial and the answer from many was yes. Then I realised what I’d said!

One, I’m not great at tutorials because I work in such a free-flow way and two, it’s the end of the year and life is hectic enough! But it is so much fun to make these wreaths and it’s one of the most effective ways to connect to our intuition, the nature around us and embark on the journey of reflection, so here it is, my super simple tutorial which is just as much a tutorial on intuitive play than it is making the wreath. I’m a 3-stepper, which means whatever I create needs to fit into 3 easy steps because anything more I find we lose our intuitive connection. So, are you ready?

STEP ONE: FINDING…

Find yourself a loop of some sort - it can be a discarded embroidery hoop, a piece of heavy wire that can be looped (even a coat hanger pulled into a round shape, leaving the hook at the top for easy hanging), a bendable branch, anything at all. This one I have is the top of an old basket that someone had thrown away. I love the organic shape of it…

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The other part of the FINDING is to collect your botanical materials! Find something in abundance that can be the backdrop for your wreath. This year, I decided not to go with green as the backdrop and instead was inspired by a dried up patch of seeded grass in our neighbourhood, a place we have walked by hundreds of times this year, never thinking much of it until I began looking more closely at the flora along the walk to school and found the beauty in it. What can you see when you walk in your neighbourhood?

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I picked big handfuls of it for the wreath, and also gathered whatever else touched my heart - some beautiful wattle, a few kangaroo paw, golden reeds, flowering lemon verbena, and the star of the wreath: a branch of fuchsia bougainvillea. Then I found some ribbon to hang it with, a few bits of string and my scissors…

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STEP TWO: ASSEMBLING

So for the assembling, I gathered the grass into three bundles. I wanted to have an off-centre wreath, allowing the basket loop to be exposed, so 3 bundles is all I needed, but if your heart wants to have a full covered wreath then you just create more bundles! With the 3 bundles, I tied them onto the loop with string. No fancy floral wire required, just use what you have on hand. And don’t be too precious, perfect or neat. I find the quicker you work the better, otherwise you start to overthink it and criticise your work - if you realise you’re doing that, let those thoughts float away like clouds - there is no place for them here!

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Use the grass bundles as well as the string you’ve used to attach the bundles to the loop as your place of attaching the accent pieces - just stick those pieces into the string and thick grass, it will hold them in place and if it doesn’t, tie a bit more string around to hold it in place. You can keep adding foliage to cover the string until you are happy with it.

STEP THREE: REVIEW

For this step, you need to hang it up either in the place you want it to go, or just on the wall with some tape so you can step away and see it in place. When you step away, you’ll see some empty areas, or you’ll see where you need to tweak the foliage or add more foliage. As my main art medium is photography, I tend to ‘look’ through the lens so to speak, when I look at something I’ve just created - not literally, just in my mind… it’s an automatic thing for me from years of working in photography, but what might help for you is to put your hands up in front of you in the shape of a square camera lens, to allow you to block out all other distractions around the wreath and see it ‘through the lens’. You could also cut a square or rectangular piece of cardboard out of a larger piece of cardboard to act as your ‘review lens’. It might sound silly but it honestly works! It just helps you to focus on what you’ve created and not get caught up in what else is going on around.

When you step back, you may also see bits of grass hanging loose and out of place, so grab your scissors to cut those bits off - don’t pull them, just cut them, otherwise you might end up pulling large chunks out of place. Again, I tend to be loose and free here, not making it too neat, because the beauty is in the freedom (as it is in living whole-heartedly)…

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After I hung mine in place on the front door, we had a huge storm sweep through the area, but it held up well, there were a few bits loose but I just pushed them back into place. And I still add to it when I see something I like, that’s why I call it ever-evolving, because it’s something you can continue to play with over the season.

I’ve posted more about the making of this wreath in my stories on instagram if you’d like to check it out, my handle is @piajanebijkerk, here it is.

In book news, Festive Season Reimagined sold out of its first print run in less than a month! A huge thank you to everyone who purchased a copy last month. I’ve ordered the second print run which will be ready in the next week or so, for those who are patiently waiting with your orders, thank you! And if you’d like to purchase a copy, please click here for all the details.

But for those who really want to read the book now but aren’t feeling patient, you can purchase the ebook. And today, I’ve decided to do a flash sale for the ebook - just for 48 hours, it’s on sale at only $10. So if you’ve wanted the book but haven’t been able to purchase it for whatever reason, here it is now for you in ebook form, at the lowest price it will ever be, please enjoy…

Reflection is a BIG part of growth at this time of year, and I’m delighted to let you know that Shona Smith - my fabulous podcasting pal & I have released a bonus episode for our podcast “It’s All Up From Here”: it’s all about how to reflect on your parenting. It’s a fun, thoughtful, raw & honest episode, I hope you enjoy it, click here and scroll down to the end to have a listen. You’ll also find our last episode of the season there, all about Christmas or as I call it, the Festive Season. Shona and I couldn’t be more opposite in our feelings about this time of year, so if you feel like a laugh, have a listen! And tomorrow, I have another wonderful announcement that is also for your listening pleasure, to get you well and truly inspired to reflect.

And on Patreon, I have uploaded the next piano composition, with another one coming in a couple of weeks - when you join me there, you are able to download all the songs for the year so far to create a playlist designed to connect you to your intuitive heart space, and learn more behind the scenes of what I’m working on and where I am on my personal journeying.

With love,

Pia xx

UPCOMING EVENT: The Alchemy of Creative Intuition

This Saturday, October 27 from 4:30-6pm I’ll be on the talks stage at Turn Out, a fete for grown ups! I’ll be interviewed by my dear friend, presenter and podcaster Shona Smith, about the alchemy of intuition - what it is, why we need to prioritise tapping into it now, how we can benefit from it both creatively and in our lives, and what it has to do with developing a ‘bullshit-free zone’.

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Shona will be asking some great questions! She’s a lot of fun and such a great presenter, so I can’t wait to answer her questions and meet the audience. I’ll be doing a Q&A at the end, and there will be time to chat and sign books as well. I’ll have all copies of my books, including (hopefully! It’s still at the printers!) my new Festive Season, Reimagined - of which there are only a handful left to purchase, thanks to everyone who has been pre-ordering up a storm! All books will have a special fete price, and can be individually signed.

Here is a peek at the book sample I received earlier this week. I’m so happy with the colours and paper stock - it’s beautiful matte paper, not too thin and not too thick, 100% recycled, printed locally.

Here is a peek at the book sample I received earlier this week. I’m so happy with the colours and paper stock - it’s beautiful matte paper, not too thin and not too thick, 100% recycled, printed locally.

I don’t do many events through the year as you know, much preferring to be hunkered down in my artist’s retreat, allowing my ideas to run rampant! So it’s a rare & special occasion to be out under the spotlight for a moment or two, I hope you can join me.

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Shona & I have also been working on something fun (“and very useful!” says Shona) together which we will be announcing on social media as early as this afternoon! And we will be talking about it at Turn Out too. The above pic is a little clue!

Happy full moon to each of you.

With Love,

Pia xx



We are all made of stardust...

Stardust print installation , currently in my studio

Stardust print installation, currently in my studio

Having a studio has given me the space- physically and mentally - to embark on something I've been holding back from doing for, well, since I completed my arts degree at Uni some 19 years ago! While I was at COFA, I spent many hours in the dark room printing my photographs. I loved it. Every step of the process (minus the intensity of the chemicals) was a joy for me, I absolutely loved the alchemy of it. And to see the finished print was always exciting, it fuelled my creative fire.  Throughout my last two years of high school and into my Uni days, in those 5 years I spent most of my free time between classes in either the dark room or the library.

But since the onset of digital photography - which I have fully embraced in the most analogue way possible!  - I lost something of my work that I hadn't realised until now.  That is, the beauty and wonder of experiencing my photography in full colour and off the screen...

Stardust photographic print , limited edition, 11 x 14 inches

Stardust photographic print, limited edition, 11 x 14 inches

While visiting the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane a few weekends ago, I came across a room that reignited that lost part of me. It was filled with Australian artists I had studied all those years ago, intently, in books and galleries. As I roamed the room, little sparks lit in me with each work. I moved from Arthur Boyd, to Sydney Long, Rosalie Gasgoigne, and John Olsen. Every one of them had been an influence and inspiration in my years of intense study and making. Then I saw a piece that made my heart skip a beat, and took me to a long lost memory. It was a photograph called groundspeed (rose petal) by renown contemporary Australian photographer Rosemary Laing. In that moment of staring into her carpeted forest, I remembered how huge a role she played in my photography. She was one of my teachers while at the College of Fine Arts, and taught me everything I know about photography, both digital and analogue. And she was one of the best teachers I ever had. I remember how much she'd engage with each of us while we learnt the ropes of Photoshop. She was patient, kind, passionate and enthusiastic. She also gave me my best marks, which compelled me to learn more about my style, my motivation, my goals. While I looked at groundspeed (rose petal) and got lost in those memories, I felt a wave of gratitude and realised how lucky I was to have such a great teacher.

It also cemented in me how powerful it is to put your work out there, to move through those emotional blocks that stop so many of us from creating what we know we are meant to, and how important it is to have those influences in our lives - and why I love being able to be that person, that mentor, to artists around the world now. By making our work, by supporting each other and investing in each other's work, it's how we will thrive.

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So it's with absolute delight that, having found the best pro printing lab in the city, I offer one of my most popular photographs Stardust as the first photograph released as a limited edition print on archival rag paper. This photograph is featured in my Festive ebook . As with all my books, I love creating visual stories throughout to capture your imagination and connect with your heart.  This photograph was created inspired by my work in redefining this intense time of year, by exploring the alchemy in each of us: The wonder that we are all made from stardust...

"Every element of the universe is made from stars, including us. As beings, each element within us was birthed in stars, the very stars that twinkle above us in the night sky and around the Earth. As humans both ancient and existing, we have held an everlasting fascination for stars, and knowing that we are made from stardust only enriches the allure and magic of the exploration of those tiny intergalactic sparkles that light up the deep indigo sky we look to each evening before we sleep."
Excerpt from The Everyday Alchemy eBook, Festive Edition. 

Each Stardust print is hand numbered, dated and signed by me. There are two sizes available, worldwide shipping is available (with free worldwide shipping for the next two weeks  - promo code in the info) all the details are available here.  When I say limited edition I mean LIMITED EDITION. Only a very small number will be printed. 

Thank you to everyone in my life who has encouraged me to print my work over the years. I finally got there! It took a while but the wait, I hope, will have been worth it. 

Vivent les artistes. 

xx

 

 

 

How to be reflective at such a busy time?

Left: our home at dusk, after dinner and little one is asleep. Sparkling wine I poured myself at dinner time has now gone flat and slightly warm. Right: the sky after a huge rather frightening electrifying storm, the clouds parted and the light that came through was breathtaking.    ...................................................................................................

Left: our home at dusk, after dinner and little one is asleep. Sparkling wine I poured myself at dinner time has now gone flat and slightly warm. Right: the sky after a huge rather frightening electrifying storm, the clouds parted and the light that came through was breathtaking. 

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In my new Festive Guide, I wrote how I've learnt about the importance in December to spend time reflecting on our personal journey over the past twelve months...

"This is the time of year to reconnect with ourselves to inspire peace, joy and a sense of renewal. It’s a time we are most open to the universe, instinctively connecting to earth and cosmos. It’s a grounding time, a time of becoming more aligned with ourselves through this openness and connection, creating conscious internal wisdom." The Everyday Alchemy Seasonal Guide, Festive Edition, page 15. 

Meanwhile the activity all around us and media screams: "buy buy buy, be busy busy busy, do do do, don't stop, don't stop, don't stop!" 

So how can we reflect at such a busy time, without adding to the busy-ness? 

In the ebook I share a number of beautifully creative ways to open to reflection, and this week I had another wonderful idea that came to mind and which I've implemented in our home, and I want to share it with you today.

It started with the simple act of writing a list of events that have happened over the course of the year. I usually do this in my journal, but this time I wrote the list on our chalkboard so we could all read it. And as I looked at the list, I realised there was much more to add - not just events, but new skills that we've each developed this year, and life lessons...

Left: enjoying fresh organic cherries now in season! Right: the original list of big events to reflect upon.   ...................................................................................................

Left: enjoying fresh organic cherries now in season! Right: the original list of big events to reflect upon. 

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So I thought what would be great is to have a big sheet of paper that we can all write on over the month of December, to create a kind of map of what we've each encountered over the year as individuals and also as a family. Each of us can add to it whenever we think of something that was significant to us, and for Laly she can also add to it with drawings. At a glance, when we are sitting on the couch or going about our daily activities at home, we can reflect on the year's events, giving the space needed to let these moments be honoured and valued...

And it's not just about the 'good' stuff, or the happy/pretty stuff. Because there are life lessons and goodness (=value), in all. So for us, I've included the pneumonia I had in January, which was a huge deal for us, me being in bed for weeks on end, bringing up so much again about not having any extended family help at challenging times, but showing our resilience and connectedness as a couple; Laly having her tonsils and adenoids out, another huge event for us, after years of health issues and trying almost every single alternative method on the planet to reduce the size of her tonsils without operating. In the end it's exactly what she needed, it couldn't be avoided and again, as a family just the three of us, we did it, she recovered and is thriving. 

And our trip to France and Amsterdam! An adventure we have worked hard to make happen for five years, each year faced with new obstacles. But not this year. This year, it all came together. Laly met her French family for the first time, and I got to spend time with my friends in Amsterdam who I had been longing to connect with and hug again for all those years. 

What I realised is that with each event, there come achievements, new skills, and life lessons to also honour. So on the paper, there is room for these too. 

Perhaps you'd like to create something similar in your home. The above prompts will help for significant milestones in your journey to come to mind. If something comes to mind but you don't think it's significant, still write it down, as it might be revealed later why that is significant and has come up to the surface from your sub-conscious. And most importantly, not to get stuck on what the paper looks like! Let it be messy, it doesn't have to be a work of art (I'm writing that as a message to myself as well, letting go of the way things look and focussing on how they feel). 

I'd love to know how you're going with your reflections, if this is a new-to-you tradition at this time of year that you are introducing, inspired by the Festive Guide, or if you're allowing more of it in. 

Also to keep in mind, it's not about focussing on what we haven't achieved this year that we thought we would, but what we have achieved. Because there is value in all of it, even if we can't yet feel it's value, it's there, and taking the time to reflect will deliver that valuable gift to you and open you to the new opportunities that await you in the new year. 

Happy reflection time, mes amis

xx

 

 

The Everyday Alchemy Seasonal Guide, Festive Edition is here!

This time last year I wrote a post on Instagram about how I'd been working toward reinventing this time of year for our family - creating what we want without family pressure, social or religious conformity, hype, consumerism, drama or stress.

I wrote, "Rather than focus on Christmas, it will be about reflection and slowing down toward the end of the year (rather than speeding up), with attention to journey (rather than destination), giving (rather than taking, including care to self), and a time to strengthen connection to earth." I ended the post opening to others if they were interested to know more about what this time of year will be like in our home, and that if there was interest I'd write a longer journal post about it. I got quite a lot of interest as it turned out ! And many people stated how much they resonated with this idea of reinventing this time of year.

Here were some of the comments:

"After a really stressful and exhausting trip to Toys R Us, you have inspired me." Melinda. 

"Please write more - love this and am wanting to move toward more of this..." Johanna

"I know what you mean, Pia. I lost my Mum this year, and am attempting to create some new traditions around Christmas, to help with my sense of loss". Jan

So, in my usual fashion, my heart heard all, took hold and over the past year I've been creating  a very special ebook that transforms this time of year from stressful to nurturing, all the while retaining the enchantment and wonder that we all love...

The ebook is 40 pages and highly illustrated - each page is full colour. Written in the style of My Heart Wanders, it is peppered with personal stories and transformative ideas that can be integrated into your current festive season traditions to bring the deeper meaning and nurturing that so many of us crave at this time of year.

There is so much within the pages, it's a guide that will open itself up to you in layers, over time, like My Heart Wanders, it can become a reference, something to come back to over time to unearth new layers as you grow and learn on your own personal journey...

This is the image of my  festive table garland  I posted on this day, December 6, in 2015, on Instagram that sparked so much interest. Within the  The Everyday Alchemy Festive Guide , I've added my illustrated butterflies. Butterflies have been fluttering around me for the past few months... a sign of my own transformation. 

This is the image of my festive table garland I posted on this day, December 6, in 2015, on Instagram that sparked so much interest. Within the The Everyday Alchemy Festive Guide, I've added my illustrated butterflies. Butterflies have been fluttering around me for the past few months... a sign of my own transformation. 

To see more and purchase your copy of The Everyday Alchemy Festive Guide, please click here. It will be one of the best gifts you can give yourself at this time of year! And if you'd like to purchase a copy for a friend, you can add their email address in the order details, and it will be sent straight to their inbox.  

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to send me an email or comment below. 

With Love, 

Pia xx