How reconnecting with my passion allowed healing and growth
People have often told me what they thought I couldn’t do. “You’ll never be able to drive a car,” when I started taking lessons. “You won’t be able to run a catering business,” as I was beginning to make some money. “You’ll never get a black belt,” from a fellow aikido trainee. And, most significantly, “You don’t know how to paint,” when I began selling my work.
Art was central to my childhood in Poland. Always painting and sculpting, I loved my grandparents’ collection of art books and remember hours spent turning their pages. Then adulthood kicked in and somehow my creativity was gone.
The man I was to marry had ambitious plans, and his career took us to New York, home to Poland and then, just as I had found an exciting job in advertising, over to Ireland. As he ‘earned the real money’, my career always came second, and I went from being an independent woman to a full-time mother in a foreign country.
My inner magic was diminishing slowly. Thankfully, my mother saw it and gave me the advice I needed: “Go back to creating.”
These words glowed inside me. I began pouring all my feelings of loneliness, sadness and isolation into paintings, and slowly everything started to change. I began to think about what I wanted from life, and who I wanted to be. I looked for a way to build my self-confidence, and found it in aikido, a non-violent martial art that changed me from being a victim to a woman with inner power. I had the self-belief to begin selling my art.
In 2014 my husband’s job took him back to Poland, and I followed for what would be the last time. He had always been dismissive of my paintings, never believing in my ability. I could no longer accept being tied to him. I planned a carefully-timed escape and found myself back in Ireland with two sons and three bags. He filed for divorce soon after.
It turned out that I am an excellent driver. I can run a business and I got my black belt. And I can paint. My work is sold in the National Gallery of Ireland and my printed silk scarves were displayed in a high-end department store.
More importantly, my art seems to connect with people at turning points in their lives. It’s bought for first-time mothers, for sisters enduring chemotherapy, to remember a friend who has passed away, or to thank one who has stayed true. My art has healed me, and I believe that’s why it helps to heal others.
I was lucky to have a mother who urged me back to what I love, and sometimes I wonder where I’d be without that piece of advice. If there’s a voice telling you that you’ve left a passion behind, don’t ignore it. Listen, and you never know where it will take you.