creative feet : travelling shoes

My friend Chris came to visit last week and I Henna'd some magic slippers on her feet. Slippers are a common theme in bridal henna designs of India and Morocco and they are especially fun to henna on barefoot beach feet. Because this project is inspired by creativity, I decided to henna Chris's feet. She is a traveling girl and has made a creative lifestyle out of her love of traveling for many years, so I thought it would be fun to henna some traveling shoes for her. The design is based on Moroccan Fessi style henna and then I personalized them by adding symbols from Chris's earth walk within the design.

Traveling is a way to leave our routine behind, open ourselves to new possibilities, to feel free, and to discover ourselves. There is always an outward journey and an inward journey. Symbols are relative to each of our personal beliefs, cultures and experiences, and are common in henna as well. People paint symbols onto the body to bring the energy of symbols into their lives. It was interesting to hear which symbols Chris chose to represent her path through life thus far.

The om symbol stands for the first sound of the universe,  and represents music for Chris, which is one of her passions that she carries with her everywhere she goes. The symbol comes from India, where Chris and I both had our first big independent backpacking trip together after we graduated from college. The elephant represents wildlife and her time Kenya, studying at a school for wildlife while in college, where giraffes could be seen walking by in the distance during class.  The guitar represents Chris's instrument of choice, and her time living in Seville, Spain, the birthplace of flamenco, where she learned to speak Spanish. 

Mountains are Chris's favorite landscape. She loves the simplicity of hiking up them and being rewarded with views at the top. Chris and I hiked around the Annapurna circuit in Nepal for 3 weeks, which still maintains a top spot as one of coolest things I've ever done. The photo to the left is from that adventure. Chris is on the left, our friend, and travelling companion Christin in the middle, and I on the right. The Annapurna ciruit is one of the most walked paths in the world, and is shared by pilgrims, locals and tourists. Our feet carried us all the way through villages starting in tropical climate zones up into snowy landscapes and over the highest pass in the world. They braved some storms including infected ankles and extra toes, but ultimately carried us all the way home. 

Chris spent years leading camping tours across North America, where she guided people on countless hikes in America's beautiful nature preserves. In this job, she met the love of her life, Pete, which was a pivotal moment (all paths lead to now). During their time off from leading tours, they traveled far and wide. They became engaged in the mountains of Guatemala and hiked through the mountains of Patagonia in Argentina on their honeymoon, and are also connected through their love of mountains. 

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There are four Mayan glyphs that represent herself, husband, and their two little girls. They feel connected to the Mayan symbols because they not only traveled extensively through Mayan country while they were single, but also got engaged in Guatemala and then returned to Mayan county of Mexico to get married. The tree represents Chris's passion for plants, a love that kept returning to her through her travels. Now, Chris is studying horticulture while raising her children in Brooklyn, but still gets out for some traveling on road trips and coming to the Caribbean to kick back and escape the winter of New York.  The St. John petroglyph represents the here and now. This is the third time chris has visited me here. I love that she is my traveling friend, a soul sister, and a friend who visits.

The earth represents, of course, our magnificent planet. Chris loves the earth's variety of wild landscapes. and the feet represent her own two feet, which she loves that can carry her anywhere.

I feel extremely thankful and blessed that I was able to travel as much as I have, and can thank some friends, including Chris for inspiring me to get out and go. When Chris told me that she was planning on going to India after graduation, a bell went off and I asked if I could join. That trip changed my life and inspired me to keep traveling and make art. Oftentimes, when I am henna'ing up a high school or college girl, i offer some inspiration to Take some time to travel after studying.  A lot of people don't realize how easy it is. You just save your pennies, buy a ticket (and a lonely planet guidebook) and go! As Chris pointed out, sometimes, it is more expensive to stay home.  

I have to say that I really loved henna'ing these personalized slippers for Chris and would love to do more of this. I am organizing a variety of symbols from around the planet for people to choose from if they ever want a pair of medicine shoes to be Henna'd on their feet, to represent where they have been on their path and what energies they want to carry into the future. look out for that on my website in the future!

One note on the henna due to babies waking in the night, our henna actually took 3 nights to complete! if you notice in some of the photos, one foot is a darker stain than the other, it is because they were henna'd on different nights. May it serve as an example of how a henna stain takes time to darken. While the darker foot is 36 hours after application, the other is 12 hours after application. 

creative hands: fabric painting by monika

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Meet Monika.
Monika has an amazing energy. It is grounding and inspiring and a joy to be around. The story of her life is rich and full of adventures around the planet, and yet she lives whole-heartedly in the present moment. Originally from Poland, her family emigrated to Brazil when she was 7, where she was introduced to the vibrant colors of the tropics. They moved around a lot, but she felt most at home in the islands south of Rio, where they built a house surrounded by nature. After she retired from a career in journalism to be more present in the lives of her children, she started painting pillows, hammocks, and panels to decorate island homes. Her business was taking off in Brazil, but crime was also on the rise, which led to a tough decision to move to the United States, where her children could grow up in a safer environment. Painting went on the back burner as she worked in real estate while living there.

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 After her little birds left the nest, she and her husband Jorge, who was off surfing when I visited (and just have to add was once a race car driver), moved to St. John, where they now call home. Here, they reconnected with island life and Monika started painting on fabric again. When I came to photograph her creating with her Henna'd hands, she was working on a child's sarong and a fish pillow. She uses soft, feel-good fabric for her sarongs and carefully mixes her paints so they will soak in to the fabric, rather than sit on top, which keeps the fabric soft and flowing. Her work can be found at the Full Moon Cafe in Cocolobo shopping area in Coral bay

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The henna design I painted on Monika is from Amelia Dregeiwicz's dream book. I am picking every week a different design aesthetic to henna. This week I chose Amelia because she and Monika are both from Poland :) I love Amelia's style, so I was happy to try out one of her designs from her new design book, which you can purchase by messaging her on Facebook. My henna paste was made from the organic Rajasthani crop of 2013 I purchased from henna lounge. In mixing This batch, I used molasses instead of sugar for the first time, which i really enjoyed, but could have done with a bit less (1 tsp/100 g rather than 2 tsp).  These photos were taken 36 hours after application. 

Monika and Jorge also built an adorable rental home called "Sea Cottage" in a guava berry grove on top of Bordeaux mountain, that is fashioned with Monika's beautiful hand painted decor and carries the amazing vibration of Monika and Jorge. Check out their page on villa rental by owner and read some of the inspiring reviews from happy guests here