Growing up as a country girl created a hunger to travel more as a pilgrim than a tourist. I love to feel the culture and life of the local people, the eyes that display a curious soft spot for life. In every country, in every circumstance when I am willing to put my heart in my hand, it's met with warmth and I learn so much. As it's my aim to bring though our jewellery seeds of love and inspiration, I remain a constant student and traveler for as many translations of this as possible.
In early May, 2010, I did the last 225 km of the El Camino de Santiago, otherwise known as the Way of Saint James. During this time I met scores of interesting people, and birthed the Camino collection. Below is a short excerpt from that journal. For more information on El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage through Spain, click here, or, for the jewellery inspired by it visit the Camino page here.
"At least one time in most people’s life we experience a burning desire to go searching for answers before we can even articulate questions. A time when we need a challenge outside of the lives we know. Some people invite this challenge often, me included. Pushing the boundaries of not just what I think but how I think and not just what I feel but how I feel. Walking the hills of Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage known, as the Camino was such a challenge. Having an opportunity to take this inner journey on a physical sojourn surpassed my highest hopes.
The Camino de Santiago has both historical and spiritual significance and is also known as the Way of Saint James. There are many routes but all end in Santiago de Compostela, in northwestern Spain. The path I took was Camino Frances. It’s about 800km, although with time restrictions I walked the last 225 km over 10 days.
There are many reasons why people walk the Camino: Some as a spiritual discipline, some as a walking meditation of self-discovery, a test of endurance and survival or just a walk in nature. All complete with constant reminders to be present."
New Year of 2011 after a busy season of winter shows I gifted myself a meditation retreat to the monastic community of the revered Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn. Plum Village is set in the south of France. 200 monastics and 300 retreatants living together in loving community. So beautiful, humbling, and mindful.. Wake up bell was at 5:30am for sitting meditation at 6. Noble silence lasted for a number of hours each day, walking meditation through the orchards remove any residuals of tension possibly still remaining . All meals are eaten mindfully in joyful silence.
On the 3rd day on the mat, I had visions of creating a medallion of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy in the image of a wax seal.. Upon arriving back in the Toronto studio created sketches and samples to forward for approval.. Since this time, there are many happy people wearing his words of peace against their chest. 20% of the sales are donated to the humanitarian efforts of PV. There are currently 3 medallions in English, 2 in French and interest in German. You can find those here.
In July 2011, I had the honour to accompany Leigh Blake, founder of Keep a Child Alive, a charity dedicated to helping children living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and India, and her assistant on a tour of India; a tour of the orphanages that they support, as well as a search for new ones. My role was to gain insight and inspiration to design a piece that would be part of a pledge in support of them. Later, after the tour of the orphanages had run its course I stayed on and traveled up the Himalayas to Daramsala to meditate and aim to crystalize the sensory fullness all around. Ultimately, what came from the journey was the stunning Mucalinda Bracelet, which can be found here.
"Traveling with Leigh Blake and team from Keep A Child Alive is humbling me more every day. With Leigh’s immense love for the children in their care, she doesn't rest until they exude happiness. The team so far exists of Leigh, her young but very involved son India, delightful assistant Noelle from NY, amazing KCA representative for India Narendra and myself-here to collect gems, inspirations and a deeper understanding of the work of KCA as seeds to create the pieces that will be auctioned at their big annual fundraiser in NY in Oct.
We arrived in Delhi July 19th and spent 2 days in the old city with a few meetings and settle into the new time and culture. July 21 we flew to Jodhpur and between the 21st -24th we traveled between Jodhpur and Jalore to a KCA Care Home for 30 children affected by AIDS.