A Bohemia Life

is creating Photographs & Writings of A Way To Age With Gentle Loving Grace
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I started out writing that ubiquitous “About Me” segment that is a biography. The origins of how A Bohemia Life came to existence for me.


For decades, I drifted in the macrocosm of ones and zeroes. That version of me as lawyer, analyst, entrepreneur still floats about in the traces of the work left in my wake. They contribute to but are not the nucleus of who I am.


You will know me by the questions I ask of myself than by the answers I find. The tale is in the unfolding of the Odyssey rather than any eventual resting place.


To know me is to know my why. 


"There comes a point in your life when you need to stop reading other people's books and write your own" ~ Albert Einstein


It felt so strange to even consider monetising what I do for my OWN salvation. But the work that sustains my spirit has become the work that sustains my body too. As I believe the universe has always intended for all of us.


And so my words poured out of me because I had to make space for my heart to grow. My hands press upon my camera's shutter because I long to be shown what my eyes can't find. And in the in between, I weave and weave and weave. Counting stitches instead of male prayer beads. A moving meditation with a twine for a lifeline.


“If you feel like you don't fit into the world you inherited it is because you were born to help create a new one.” ~ Ross Caligiuri


A Bohemia Life is the junction where the singularities of my particular Venn diagram collide.


If my work has resonated with you in some way and you would like to let me know. This is one way to do so. 


The other way is simply to reach out to me. Write to me. Through Patreon, email at [email protected], or DM on instagram @abohemian. You are most welcome to ring me but like my family will tell you "She doesn't answer her phone". Sorry, it's a recluse thing. 


xo,

Just another dust speck floating in this universe

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About A Bohemia Life

"There comes a point in your life when you need to stop reading other people's books and write your own" ~ Albert Einstein

The Beckoning
In 2011, I gave up my executive career to begin a handmade business. At the time, it seemed like such a huge leap of faith. After 15 years in the industry, my corporate career was well established. I was regarded as a specialist in my field. It seemed like I had earned my situation in the upper echelon of my industry.

So why would anyone in their right mind even consider deactivating cruise-control and leaving the safety of the known?

But.

There was something.

A sense of something bigger than me, beckoning me to it.

So I allowed the winds of adventure to propel me towards uncharted waters. No well plotted out map to navigate with. Just a vague vision of a life ignited with creativity, deeper connections, and wondrous purpose. All fuelled by the joys of making with your bare hands.

As a maker, you spend hours pouring over your work. You begin to know Mother Nature's raw materials intimately. In the 6 years of running a handmade furniture store, I always found such fascination and awe in every piece of timber that ventured its way into the workshop. Without fail, there was something marvellous in the way each growth ring, gum pocket, gum veins or knot was created by the tree.

Every nuance and groove tells a tale you can only read by touch. As you work on it, you feel the honour and privilege to have its sacred story revealed to you wordlessly, before your hands. And in each story, there was a lesson being transfused into us.

Inevitably, a day would come when a finished piece would leave you. So, you send it off with tenderness and blessings for its new beginning. Hoping and wishing that it will be equally adored and cherished in its new home.

Then the time came in 2017 to part ways with this beloved handmade business. For so many reasons, I only now recognise as right, my husband I decided that it was time to give it a new home. And we sold the business.

I was heartbroken and crushed. An entire business built from the very identities of its makers. Its story, its meaning, its dreams and wishes were all echoes of myself. I didn't know where it began and where I ended. Its heartbeat thrummed steadily in synchronicity with mine.
It felt like a goodbye I just wasn't ready to say.

"What is done in love is done well" ~ Vincent Van Gogh

There is no such thing as coincidence, right? About this time, I began menopause. I was already bless with 3 healthy beautiful children and well past any desire to have more. Our 2 oldest children were grown up and beginning wonderfully independent lives of their own. But the end of my fertility loomed over me casting a perpetual shadow of judgement.

While we should have been celebrating the sale of our business and beginning a new chapter of our lives, I felt only a deep aching sense of lost.

It turned out that when the tensile strength test was applied to the ropes I had devoted my entire life manufacturing to anchor my sense of self, purpose and worth to, my ropes shredded. Leaving me alone to bob along aimlessly. Interminably lost in an absymal ocean of questions.
In the glaringly harsh light of cognitive dissonance, I was suddenly left unsupervised with my loss of my identity and despair.

And a slow deliberate downward spiral into depression.

I woke up in the mornings and there was nothing to pin on my Pinterest boards because our business was now someone else's. When I sat at my desk, there were no new pieces to write about. There were no longer any #WorkInProgress boomerang videos to share on my Instagram feed. My drawing board was blank.

It wasn't just me too.

My empty nest buzzed with anxiety. The well used cooler bags that had spent years carrying packed school lunches sat staring into space while gathering dust in my cupboard.

My lounge looked at me longingly, wondering where were the long gangly teenage limbs spread out after an equally long night playing Call Of Duty.

I even caught my recycling bin weeping over the defunct supply of empty Doritos packs.
I didn't know who I was any longer, when I had lived and breathed an identity that was now, no longer mine.

And it turned out, it never was mine in the first place.

"I put my heart and my soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process" ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Following that yellow brick road
In that serendipitous way the universe works, little clues to my future began to unveil themselves. A future that embraced ageing with joy and grace. It is only now as I sit here and write this that I recognise that it was the beginning of a new season in my life. The start of my Autumnal years where the evening sun glows softer and gentler. Where the labours of Spring is illuminated by the beautiful light of the setting sun and the sweet hymns of thanksgiving are sang with gratitude.

Clue # 1: Just 5 Minutes
All my life, I have always loved practicing yoga. No matter the number of highballs and lowballs that life threw my way, I had leaned on yoga to find serenity amidst the anxiety and turbulence. A dear friend and teacher @tanyajudd encouraged me to create a dedicated yoga account to motivate myself to practicing resolutely, regularly and with accountability. @40andflying was my first lifeline. The daily commitment to show up on my mat for "just 5 minutes" without judgement and only the intention to flow. It became a huge turning point and chrysalis for growth.
I discovered an entire community of kindred spirits who were also on a similar journey of self discovery and self acceptance. Through yoga, meditation and challenges, we created a haven to share in one another's joys and sorrows.

A place where the shoes along with judgement, was set outside the door.

Our coats hung loosely on the hooks by the entrance. Right next to the sagging hook holding all the emotional baggage.

We entered this space with nothing but a humble heart, compassion and a willingness to learn from everyone, everything and every circumstance.

In that haven, I learned about courage, wisdom, kindness, generosity and finding joy.

Clue # 2: How to weave a survival ladder
It was also during this time in my life that I learned to knit, crochet, and weave to help with my tightly wound up ball of anxiety. I found myself incidentally gravitating towards making minimalist natural fibre bags as a way to fill the creative void. Once I began making them, it was as if my fingers took on a life of their own.

The methodical threading of a needle. The in and out motion. It was the moving meditation I needed to still my tireless mind.

Instead of counting 108 mala beads, I count stitches.

As my fingers dance across the twine, the process calmed me, soothed me and returned my breathing into uncomplicated slow deep inhalations and exhalations.

"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain"

It is no surprise therefore, that before long, I found myself with a cupboard full of bags I had woven. The real surprise was when I began receiving interests in my bags. In the first year of A Bohemia Life being created, the by product of my moving meditations made its way to places like South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Jerusalem and Singapore. Even now, I am still in complete wonderment at where I am today, knowing that it was born from a time of my deepest despair and loss.

AFTERWORD

I don't know what it is about this particular style of woven bag that draws me to it so much. Although, after sharing this story with my mother, I now have an inkling the universe has always been revealing ways we are connected and supported.

Now, I am perpetually summoned to remember. The cold winters walking along a windy foamy beach. The endlessly long hot lazy Summer holidays dozing sleepily on the hammock with an open book on my chest. Strolling amongst the farmers produce at the cusp of dawn on a Sunday morning. The smell of fresh baked croissants mixed in with sweet Spring blossoms. My straw bag laden with baguettes, oranges and flowers.

There is something so comforting about the simplicity and earthliness of it all. Something so familiar. I try to capture the signature of these retrospection in my photography and my writings.
For they remind me that even when Spring is over, I will always carry all the seasons in my memory and in my heart.

Humming with gratitude,
Magdalene

P/S. If you've made it right here to the end, what can I say, but Thank You. Thank you for allowing me to share a moment together with you in time and space. If there is something here that has resonated for you, I hope you know you are seen and heard.

If you would like to share your story with me, you can reach me via the contact form on this site, or directly by blog as well as recommendations on the books, podcasts, music etc. that have been invaluable to me.

Come say "Hello". Let me know I am not alone here.

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