In the fall of 2013 I flew to manage and serve at one of the most wonderful and soulful art retreats around, Call of the Wild Soul.
. Alena Hennessy was teaching and I was there to manage and serve the retreats teachers and attendants.
Over the weekend and since then I have gotten to know her and her work so much better.
She is a kaleidoscope of talents, stories and smiles that will make you swoon. She is vibrant and tenacious.
Achieving amazing things from books, e-courses, to running her own retreats, this girl is un-stoppable!
I am delighted to feature her today!
Alena Hennessy began making art at a very young age, way before she could write.
She would spend hours upon hours drawing on the back of her Grandmother’s dittos from school, making up imaginary worlds of
falling umbrellas, rainbow puddles, ant farms underground, horses with varying personalities, and of course some very fashionable ladies.
Since then her love of creating has evolved– branching out with a deep desire to assist others in finding their true voice in painting and mixed media art.
Alena is the author of Cultivating Your Creative Life, The Painting Workbook, and beloved teacher of the art-making process, both online and at select retreats.
“Art allows you to express what is beyond words.”
Oh lovely one, what does Sacred mean to you? Do you have a Sacred space?
Sacred space to me is always about going within. To me, Sacred is about living and breathing within the cosmos. Its all so Sacred — every last bit.
The tragedy, the ecstasy… But when our hearts are moved, when they feel what is sometimes beyond words, when we feel so much smaller or bigger than the routine of daily life, or fall deep into the sweetness within the routine of daily life, that is Sacred. To me, everything that is alive is sacred.
What does mystery taste like?
When I smell the deep wet or sunlit woods…. I mean deep in the forest and hear water falling, or birds singing, a time out from the world,
I can taste mystery simply from that unaltered atmosphere.
“I often reflect, if Nature had a voice, what would she say? She has kept me wild for as along as I can remember. Riding bikes, hunting lizards, making mud pies, climbing and jumping off her long and sensual limbs… yes, if we keep her safe, she keeps us wild.”
Do you have any rituals?
I am practicing doing 7 salutations every morning at sunrise. I light a beeswax candle, I put a glass of water out before my yoga mat, and I begin.
Sometimes I light a little Palo Santo or sage. Then I sit and do some pranayama and meditation.
I am not perfect with this… I miss plenty of days… But when I do make time, my whole world is lit up a little more.
I also have a ritual of walking with my dog, taking photos, and bathing. I love candles and natural scents. I love lavender and rose buds that stick against my bathtub.
What does your inner rhythm look like? Feel like? What do you do if you feel off your rhythm and want to make your way back? Being in my body, present.
When I become out of sync with my natural rhythm, I see if I am in my body or in my analytical mind. When I am in my body I am most relaxed. My rhythm fluctuates between that of a buzzing hummingbird or bee and a sleepy large cat that just wants to lie around in the sun. A lioness. Must be my double Leo talking. She loves to be pet… especially her mane. (wink).
I need a good long walk on the beach or in the woods to find my way back, if I lose my natural rhythm. Also watching the sunset or sunrise, or dancing, does wonders for me. As does keeping good and kind company. Travel also has that magical way of making you grateful for what you do have, while humbling you to new experiences.
What helps with mending?
Crying it out…. Taking a nap. Laying in the sun under the trees. Talking with my mother or kindred sisters. Holding hands. Hugging. Making love. Anything within the sphere or love (and not fear) mends my being. All of it is taken within, whether I realize it or not.
I remember one time in my life, a handful of years ago, I was in what I would call a ‘black’ period. Dark night of the soul stuff. Karmic and Heavy. A lot of unwinding and grieving was taking place– which has its own course it needs to run. You can’t judge grief and you can’t control it, at least its just so much more helpful if you allow it to exist and pass through as it needs to. I’ve found it to be a good lesson on surrender in the deepest way. Anyway, I was sitting with big life decisions, marriage ending, new relationship questions, and all that. I was feeling distracted in my own head, up in the monkey mind, and due to time spent emotionally processing I noticed life started to pass me by. I was actually having an intense conversation on the phone with an ex while I was retreating in a sacred place. I was supposed to go snorkeling to some outer islands with this yogi group (snorkeling is one of my most beloved past times) and I missed the boat by a few minutes. Oh I was so angry at that moment… at the person keeping me on the phone, at myself for feeling so split and shut down and scared. So here I was in paradise just ‘in it.’ Heated. Steamy. I turned to a new friend (a wonderful Icelandic filmmaker — also a yoga teacher) and I told him how bad I felt for missing the boat and for why. I’ll never forget the look on this face. The sweetest smile spread out on his lips and his eyes turned upwards in kindness. He softly said to me, “but look where you are– in fact– there’s a dragonfly right in front of you. Beauty is always all around you. You are never separate from it.” Indeed there was a glimmering dragonfly right there, flapping forwards and backwards and all around above the flowers. Dragonfly has been one of my totem creatures for many years — one that has always symbolized transformation of spirit and change to me. My friends actually used to call me Dragonfly in college. It was a sweet moment of redemption and feeling humble. It was a moment of kindness given by the Universe.
How do you most like to celebrate your body?
Probably dancing or bathing. I like to take juicy baths, as stated previously. Also, adorning… Playing dress up. Play dress off. ;) You know, let the body do its natural thing. We are all sensual creatures, we just need to tap into what works for us as individuals — not what media or any other social outlet says.
How do you nourish your wellbeing on a typical day?
Eating well… Eating savory. We get a CSA delivered to our side porch every week with new local veggies from a variety of farms.
I also make tea in the morning. I make room and time for connection with myself and others. I also love to swim and steam at my gym.
“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity and her flaming self respect.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald
What lights you up? Turns you on? Makes your heart quicken and dance around?
My sexy beast (or gifted parter Matthew).
Travel photos of India or Italy…
Purity of heart… looking into a stranger’s eyes.
Being reflected honestly.
Being blown away by the absolute brilliant and intense world this is.
A genius benevolent mind and heart. A sincere smile.
Your divine feminine soul shines when?
She is fully loved and understood. She is appreciated in all ways, through her bright light endeavors, her sometimes gloomy shadows.
She is embraced and embraces. She gives and receives effortlessly and with ease.
She feels her embodied graceful spirit express itself without inhibition. She is water, fire, earth, and space….
She is seen.
Lastly, tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Keeping living this dream as true to my heart as possible… inviting all kindred souls to come deepen and play.
Capturing each day, allowing none to pass me by. This is my intent.
“Art is a practice that you can have until the end of your days.
Cultivating your creative self is an endless exploration or thirst that never runs dry, but that which only deepens with time.”
Desire to connect with Alena Hennessy?
>>>——————–> Sign up for her Muse Letters Here.
Artists from all over the world are still joining Alena’s vibrant A Year of Painting — with now over 800 participants!
All lessons are downloadable and up for the entire year, so you can join at anytime (and receive a PDF of the course at the end).
You can also save over $62 off with code dancewiththepaint
Check into her up coming art retreats Here.