She dances me to her call | bhakti poem by Téa Nicolae

in the depths of my being, She dances me to her call:

“come to me. I want all of you, my child. no part of you is too dark, too gritty, too cruel for me. I claim all of you.”

Māiyā! your waves carry your call and roll it against my chest. i seek you with my breath, eyes, hands, and knees. my lungs seek you like they seek air.

Ya Devī! soothing her tears,

Kṛṣṇa told Pāñcālī

that just as you, Śrī Gaṅgā, hold and wash all pollutions yet are ever-pristine,

so does the fallen empress remain untainted by her shame.

aches bathed in your luster,

i plead:

take all of me, Devī.

leave nothing of me behind.

establish me in knowing

that despite my wrongs, fears and corruptions, i, too,

your fragment in the microcosm,

remain unmarred.

may the holy flow of your untamed waters

sweeten the harshness i bear towards myself and the world

soften the rigid corners straining my being

loosen the knots hindering you from coursing within me.

Śrī Mātre Namaḥ. 🙏

photos: before & after bathing in the waters of Śrī Gaṅgā in the auspicious Gangotri. Śabda Yātra. 🙏 the blessing of blessings. 💙

The Call of the Himalayas

by Mahārājñī’s grace, my dream of India came true! 🥲 for five years, it has been an ardent wish of mine to see these lands. led by my beloved Guru Kavitha Amma, and together with the Śabda Yoginīs, i was blessed to answer to the call of the Himalayas by embarking on the most special, magnificent and expansive yātra. starting from Rishikesh, we traversed Uttarkashi, Gangotri, Bhojbasa, Gomukh, Barkot, Yamunotri, and returned to Rishikesh for our closing ceremony. we trailed and trekked the mountains in worship of Devī in her forms as Śrī Gaṅgā & Śrī Yamunā. it was a journey of cellular transformation: explosive insights, breath-taking beauty, moving softness, immersion in the love and flow of Gaṅgā Devī and the Guru.

most miraculously, we completed the arduous and most fulfilling trek of 36 km from Gangotri to Gomukh, the source of the Holy Gaṅgā, in two intense & magical days! 💙 i have never felt more alive than on this trail, immersed in the hum of Devī Gaṅgā and held in the lap of the mountains. every step taken was a challenge to my self-imposed limitations and ideas of myself – of who i am, of what i can do and achieve. every step taken taught me resilience and determination, as well as showed me that my strength springs from my longing. it has been most sacred to complete this trail and to come to be at the Source with my Guru & saṅgha. imbibing in Her exquisite vibrations, we worshipped Her through pūjā. we breathed, we smiled, we cried. i will remember this experience for the rest of my life with all the gratitude & awe my being can muster.

Śrī Mātre Namaḥ! Har Har Mahādeva! Hare Hare Gaṅge!!!

what is more, in Gangotri, we hiked to a cave where it is said that Draupadī and the Pāṇḍavas spent time while on exile, and had the fortune to meet the sādhu who has been living there, entrenched in tapasya. ♥️ i have felt the Mahābhārata vibrantly coming alive for me on our yātra; from being at Gaṅgā Devī’s feet, arguably the precursor of the Mbh’s unfolding, to reaching Yamunā Devī, whose shores welcomed Ambā, who burned herself on a pyre at Yamunā’s banks to gain Lord Śiva’s boon… these mystical lands are unparalleled in beauty, significance, power and history.

birthday dawn

i turn 24 today! 💖 23 has been a dream shaped by my Guru’s grace, whom i got to meet in-person for the first time as the pandemic eased. externally, Guru’s grace took me to places i thought i’d never see, such as the transcendental Himalayas or America, while it internally catapulted me to priorly unimagined heights of euphoria & expansion. when i look back to my young life, i glimpse a golden thread expertly weaving each fragment and pulling me to where i am now; a glimmer nestled within me, of me and yet not of me, calling to me, caring for me, polishing me, shaping me – preparing me, guiding me to the path. a glimmer, a spark; the love of the Guru. the love of Mahādevī. the love of Hari.

and so, today i am moved to share verses from a sweet song.

☁️ time, mystical time
gave me the blues and then purple pink skies
were there clues
i didn’t see?

isn’t it just so pretty to think
all along there was some
invisible string
tying You to me?

a string that pulled me…

something wrapped all of my past mistakes in barbed wire
chains around my demons,
wool to brave the seasons
one single thread of gold tied me to You. ☁️

today & every day i pray to flow like the waters of the magnificent Gaṅgā Devī holding me in this photo. 💖

last day of summer, first nights of autumn (2.2)

ah! seattle! what a dream it has been. travelling to the united states is movie-like for me. growing up in romania, i was exposed to so much of american culture, yet i never imagined i would be making my way here. what is more, it is incredibly precious to be here with my beloved Gurus and with the dearest saṅgha of sisters and brothers. reality truly does trump even the most elaborate dreams and fantasies!

this early autumn, i fell in love with seattle! i was already in love with its beautiful people, so it did not take much. 🙂 this city has the most harmonious blend of urban & nature! vast city skylines & crystal lakes in forests which still your mind into silence. featuring: space needle, chihuly glass garden, jimi hendrix memorial. i saw the very first, original starbucks and the busy, electric pike market, while laughing and holding hands with my dearest sister, L. will never forget the moments of vulnerability, intimacy and longing for Truth shared together while exploring these streets.

“the best love to have is the love of life.” ~ jimi hendrix. 💙🙏

last day of summer, first nights of autumn (1.2)

i have just come back from seattle, u.s., where i spent the most beautiful two weeks with my beloved saṅgha of Śabda Institute. i am taking this opportunity to express my gratitude for this dream, as well as for the beautiful summer that has unravelled. these months of sun were rich with expansion, laughter, warmth. i am thankful to have been held by loved ones and, most importantly, held within myself, while She painted the path in resplendent hues.

☀️ most monumentally, i traversed the u.k. with my saṅgha and Gurus in deep exploration of rasa (sanskrit for juice, flavour or essence of an experience.)🍯 our rasa tour culminated with a workshop in london centred on emotional healing, which additionally was the first u.k. workshop of Śabda Institute. words fail to express how exquisite and cellularly transformational this journey has been. it was a privilege to share this space with our beloved teachers and imbibe in the magnificent teachings together with the saṅgha. check out @sabda_institute for more photos, reels & accounts of both the workshop. the pure joy of being!

☀️ i soaked in sun and beauty in italia with my beloved family, who unrelentingly teach me about love, patience, and openness, and never cease to hold the mirror to show me the muck that i am to work on and through – even when it is incredibly uncomfortable to look. i dipped my toes in the sea in my home-country and burnt my skin with joy, met up with olden friends and laughed ’til our bellies hurt while reminiscing past silliness and childish cruelties.

☀️ finally, i came together with my saṅgha sisters and conducted the most nourishing pūjā to our beloved Gaṇapati, whose playfulness and delight infused our every offering.

may we have the eyes and heart to see Her sweetness permeating all that is!

ecstatic sculptures of the Devīs & the Devas at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

ecstatic sculptures of the Devīs & the Devas at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, one of the oldest museums in the world! 🤍 awe!

pictured:

• Śiva & Pārvatī tenderly embracing each other (alternatively titled ‘Umā-Maheśvara).

• Pārvatī as the enthralling Gaurī. Mahārājñī!

• the beautiful Pārvatī making the kaṭakahasta gesture

• Viṣṇu ruling with his śakti, Lakṣmī, seated on his lap as her throne (alternatively titled Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa)

• the radiant Goddess Siddhā holding lotuses

• victorious Durgā slaying Mahiṣāsura

• dancing Ganeśa

• yet another depiction of Durgā slaying Mahiṣāsura

• two sculptures of the enrapturing Viṣṇu

• Viṣṇu birthed as Rāma

Quick, quick, quick, quick!—the gates are drawn apart

Oxford, in bloom! a wonder to walk where the great C.S. Lewis & J. R. R. Tolkien walked. 🌸 i ventured on Addison’s Walk, where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien & Hugo Dyson most famously discussed myth, philosophy and religion while pacing through the trees. Lewis recounted a walk of theirs to his dear friend, writing as follows:
“These hauntingly beautiful lands which somehow never satisfy,—this passion to escape from death plus the certainty that life owes all its charm to mortality—these push you on to the real thing because they fill you with desire and yet prove absolutely clearly that in [William] Morris’s world that desire cannot be satisfied.
(…)
The [George] MacDonald conception of death—or, to speak more correctly, St Paul’s—is really the answer to Morris (…). He is an unwilling witness to the truth. He shows you just how far you can go without knowing God, and that is far enough to force you . . . to go further.”
Lewis later wrote a poem about Addison’s Walk:
“I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick!—the gates are drawn apart.”
🙏
source: Justin Taylor. 💗

on graduating: a love letter to the past three years

from my journal, early may:

“i felt scattered this month. i’ve been self-isolating with almost 0 human contact since the end of march. i’ve been writing, writing and writing, embracing grief and fear, whilst struggling against the urge to hide myself in a cocoon. yesterday i revisited the fairy-tales my grandmother used to read to me and felt touchingly close to my favourite characters, bright witches and warrior princesses, who brim of courage and beauty. and as my Self reverberated in the imagery i loved so much as a child, i realised that, although at times i desperately want to hide my mind and my heart and my Self, words linger on my tongue and slip from my fingers. i want to write, to love, to share, to be seen, to receive beauty. i want to connect. my heart gently cowers inside of me. and with both hands, i touch my heart space and…

and *i feel my hair being pulled by the stars again.”

*quote from anaïs nin

i revisited this page from my journal today and decided it would be a lovely beginning for this post. it’s been two months since i wrote it, my final year deadlines were fast approaching and i was drained, distressed and tired. i deleted social media to focus on my dissertation and i was fantasising about disappearing (which hasn’t lost its enticement, haha!) so much has changed since then! i graduated, rested, read what my heart desired, danced, cried, laughed and seriously committed myself to dinacharya. my fears are softening into joy, into trust and my anxiety is sweetly turning back into a natural, organic surrender to life. i’ve been intensely transmuting shadows and working with two illustrious teachers, but more on this later, in perhaps a future text…

as a central chapter in my life is beautifully coming to an end, i found it fitting to write my first lengthy, unrefined post about myself here. i am quite happy to share so openly, especially because i mostly use this platform for my poetry. although my poems are intimate and confessional, poetic intimacy holds, in my view, a different flavour than a crass run through memories.

sooo…

i am very happy to be graduating with a first class honours and with an A in my dissertation!! 🙏i adored my degree so much and i’m eternally grateful for these beautiful three years, in which i taught myself to love {myself & others}, to forgive, to cook!, to hold myself accountable, to soften, to begin to be unafraid {and blissful}, to gently renounce fear, to trust and to surrender. 🌻

i grew so much as a woman, as a writer and as a scholar. i am humbled and grateful for the opportunities i was offered to challenge myself, to question, to learn and to become more aware of myself and of the unfoldings of the world. thank you to those i’ve laughed and danced and cried and shared and fell in love with. i will always hold you close to my heart. 

i felt called to take a big leap in my academic life / career, and i will be studying philosophy and religious studies. : ) i am so excited to deepen my knowledge of non-dual philosophy and of spiritual traditions, namely kashmir shaivism and śrī vidyā. my thesis will be centred on the direct path of the mahāvidyās, which i have been independently studying and practising for awhile now. i am grateful and humbled that i will be able to dedicate one year of my life to fully immersing myself in these exquisite teachings.

also, looking forward to further applying these principles and the concepts i will research and expand on during my ma in my poetry, as it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that my writing is my path of bhakti in this lifetime. : )

to the future! and to further merging the shadow into wholeness!

a few gentle lessons i have learned in these three years that i would love to share with others:

🦋 never sell yourself short for crumbs of love, as one of my teachers beautifully articulated – when the sense of lack curls in your belly, try to unearth the boundless love that is innately inside of you. let it blossom in your palms. relish in warmth, and melt, melt, melt…

“we melt. we just melt and melt and melt. the heart has to melt and when it does, an indescribable flow of love reveals itself. and we experience something mysterious, this incredible warmth and light and fire and opening that is real, that is not just a temporary emotion, but is a true breakthrough into our deeper self in the heart, when the contraction of the heart melts. and we feel, oh, this is so divine, so beautiful, so thrilling, it feels so sacred. it ennobles and uplifts and expands. it is the real movement of the consciousness within itself, long sought by all spiritual seekers, described by all the great mystics, that inflamed and ignited and radiant heart in which the smallness of the mind, small ideas, agitated thoughts, distracted thoughts, incoherent thoughts, thoughts that generate difference only, finite distinctions only that cannot contain or convey any form of the smooth rounded perfection of non-duality in them. all this melts and the heart is inflamed.” ~ paul muller-ortega : )

🦋 do not torture yourself over the past. make amends, forgive {yourself and others}, ask for forgiveness, be gentle with your mind and channel your regret into energy, into being the human you could not be then. there’s a wonderful quote from @the.holistic.psychologist that i absolutely adore, which goes like this:

“forgive yourself for what you did when you were still living in survival mode. healing allows us to transition from survival into choice. with more choice, we soften. we’re kinder. we have more empathy. forgive yourself for what the conditioned version of yourself did in an attempt to cope.”

*still working on this. : )

🦋 taking the time to appreciate and cultivate sensuality in art, in movement, in dance, in living, saturates life with endless beauty

🦋 you are whole, always have been, always will be, and experiencing it (moving from conceptual / intellectual understanding to direct experience) is ecstatic

🦋 routine may feel daunting but it is necessary (and authentic ayurveda is such a wellspring of wisdom for this!)

🦋 there is so much kindness and softness in people. i am aware that it often does not seem this way, and i often forget this truth too, which results into great suffering on my behalf. but, ultimately, i truly believe that few people intend to hurt others. instead, acting out & cruelty become distorted coping mechanisms. a teacher of mine proposed that hatred is triggered by the innate sense of lack we all experience during this life, which in his view arises automatically when our essence-nature is concealed as part of līlā – an idea worth mulling over, i believe

🦋 the poetry of hera lindsay bird, layli long soldier, hoa nguyen & rebecca tamás is so revolutionary, heart-breaking and beautiful, and it soothes the soul when in pain
🦋 burn-out is so, so real & mental health breaks are so, so important
🦋 therapy is hard and it requires dedication and commitment. it is an immense privilege to be able to heal yourself, but you shouldn’t torture yourself with guilt; you should acknowledge your position & let this awareness motivate you to confront your trauma with compassion, so that you can yourself show up for those who are the most vulnerable, who can’t afford to do the work, and by doing so holding space & easing the burden

🦋 animals are angels sent on earth (yes, i’m aware of how clumsy this phrasing is coming from a non-dual practitioner but i shall stick to it hehe!)

🦋 and a sneaky one: peak dissertation research is dreaming of jung & even dream-arguing with him about a concept of his !

and on a more personal level:

🦋 taking risks with my writing is scary but v. rewarding & it makes me fall in love with writing all over again

🦋 creativity & inspiration burst once i stop worrying about how others could receive my work

🦋 my openness is my strength and my vulnerability is my fuel

🦋 there is no need to hustle, no need to prove, no need to force

life unfolds wonderfully

and flows through me

when i trust and surrender

(*i love these lines written by alexandra roxo:

“i have learned to let my feelings flow through me freely as a gift to everyone around me. i have learned to let my experience of pleasure be a gift to those around me too. my experience of pain too. and rage. i have learned to stop clamping down, being stiff, rigid, controlled, hard.

and to let my heart be soft and open and raw and messy – even when it feels impossible, unbearable and frightening.

i am so different than the tight wound up woman who couldn’t trust life’s flow a few years back and was stuck in to do lists and ideas.

i am now soft and tender and wild and mushy and teeming with life and ideas from the deep parts of me instead of from my head.“)

A TENDER RUN THROUGH MEMORIES

starting this bit sweetly, with this poem i wrote for my poetry and experiment module last winter. : )

times i felt fleeting traces of joy

When:

  1. my friend put her head in my lap

underneath a colossal tree. it was pouring hard

and our minds were melting ((infused with divine moments of truth))

pupils dilated, she said: “i never imagined i would be so connected to anyone

as i am to you”

i stroked her hair

tears fell down my neck

  1. my rabbit nudged my cheeks with her wet nose

as i cried and prayed to ma

[to Kali the divine mother of the universe my goddess my mother my One]

and i curled my fingers in her soft fur

and she purred. my angel

  1. caught the 5 a.m. train with my friends

running on the slippery platform,

bare foot. dirt sticking to my toes

tripping in my long dress,

beaming

  1. (i was) awkwardly kissed in the middle of the sidewalk, hand cradling my neck

we parted,,, laughed til our bellies hurt

his cheeks flushed

i held his hand between mine

(and we walked in silence)

  1. drops of rain hit my face in berlin

as i danced frantically;; {high}

my mouth was smiling

my insides were smiling

  1. i felt deliciously beautiful

twirling in my rainbow tutu crocheted by my sister for the parade

sparkly stars on my eyelids on the top of my lips

love bubbling in my chest

  1. i slipped out of your bed,

tip-toeing to the door but you grabbed my waist,

pleaded (i) stay(ed)

and i did.

your kisses were tender, your feet were cold, you drooled in your sleep

and i was too jolly to close my eyelids

so i drew constellations on your sheets with my fingernails

  1. i burnt my tongue

taking a big bite of the first dish i ever cooked.

i called my grandma with my mouth full

and she giggled

  1. , fingers touching the cold shiny surface of my mirror,

i placed a kiss on my lips as if to say

“I love you. I’m sorry I’ve been mistreating you.”

  1. my grandma caressed my hair

as the sun beat down on our backs

in relentless waves.

her knees smelled like my childhood

  1. i held hands with my sisters in a hindu temple

seated in a circle with flowers in our hair, eyes closed, softly chanting to the Goddess

and for the first time in my life, i felt [deeply,

thoroughly]

LOVED. [ * AND not for the idea of me, but for who I truly AM.]

these three years i:

🌸 volunteered for unicef and became unicef’s chief of information officer in second year; me and my team fund-raised around £10.000 in two years for unicef’s emergency nutritional programmes which aid disadvantaged children in all parts of the world. it was such a blessing to be part of such a wonderful and impactful project, and this experience helped me in deconstructing my privilege and cemented my hope that one individual can help enact change. : )

🌸 joined precious plastic lu as the general secretary & later as one of the campaign officers; ppl is a lancaster university society that provides a student voice to tackling plastic pollution on campus and beyond. we are affiliated with precious plastic lancaster, a local organisation which creates objects out of discarded, single-use plastic. we went to climate strikes, organised documentary film screenings with the scope of raising awareness about climate change and sustainability, and sold reusable utensils at fairs / sales.

🌺 was part of the supercalifragilistic writers’ society, where i met one of my best friends. i later became their pr director and put together the society’s first social media pages + their first blog! so many beautiful moments have remained fond to me, such as open-mics and the writers’ residential in the mesmerising lake district. cannot wait to read the fantastic pieces these amazing authors will publish in the future!

🌸 finished university with a first class honours in film and creative writing; during my degree, i explored and experimented with my writing so much, and extended my knowledge of art, philosophy, politics and social issues. some of my favourite pieces that i wrote were:

  • an analysis of dada & futurism in relation to political art
  • an essay about the fetishisation of trauma bonds as explored in jean-luc godard’s “le mépris”
  • an essay about spike lee’s “she’s gotta have it” and feminism in black resistance movements
  • an analysis of agnès varda’s “le bonheur”, in which i explored its feminist ramifications and deconstructed the cinematic male gaze
  • a non-fiction portfolio about loss, which tore at my heart. i cried and trembled while writing it and often considered abandoning it, thus finishing it is perhaps my greatest achievement; a way of honouring my pain.
  • an essay about wong kar-wai and east asian queer cinema, in which i deconstructed problematic (but well-intended) queer tropes
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “teenage angst” which chronicled my sloppy teens & my cheesy wildness
  • an experimental poetry portfolio entitled “moon incantations” in which i explored poetry as spell craft, as inspired by the works of poetesses sarah shin and rebecca tamás
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “stanzas on pulsation” in which i explored core principles of kashmir shaivism (non-dual śaiva-śakta tantra)
  • my final poetry portfolio, entitled “hymns to the divine enchantress”, which is a subversive lyrical experimentation that constructs a metaphysical female gaze (much needed in spiritual literature imho) – my most precious piece that i’ve written, i poured my soul into every word!
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “my loss is my root” which chronicled the stages of loss one undergoes after losing a loved one
  • a poetry portfolio entitled “the in-between collection” (which also is the name of the first charitable event i organised!) which addressed loss, heartbreak and deteriorating mental health
  • an essay about the deep sentimentality of rainer warner fassbinder’s “fear eats the soul”
  • and, of course, my dissertation! –  “jungian reflections on mainstream cinema: a journey to the self”, which addressed the mythological, religious & archaic imagery that emerges in commercial cinema as seen through a jungian gaze & argued that such imagery unveils layers of the psyche.

*+i realised that a fairly useless (albeit fun!) talent of mine is turning any academic essay in an eulogy of godard. ^_^

🌸  nurtured beautiful and nourishing friendships, and kissed my friends’ faces, loved them dearly, confided in them, held them and let myself be held. i love my friends. so much

🌸 adopted a baby bunny doe, ivy, and we’ve had quite a journey together. she had an ear infection when i got her; i didn’t know about it, but i wouldn’t have had it any other way. she had multiple injections and underwent different treatments with antibiotics, and was even sedated to have her ears flushed. bunnies are very delicate and fragile, so drastic, quick measures had to be taken. + she got spayed last summer, as female bunnies are at high risk of cancer if not spayed! my baby is / was such a brave fighter though, and recovered from all of these procedures swiftly, never ceasing to be her joyful, loppy, adorable self, hopping on my chair / bed and munching on the carpet as i sulked around and prayed for her health and happiness.

this process represented profound shadow work for me, as my attachment to beings, non-human or human, is (was?) great and deep-rooted, and at the time i was barely recovering from a painful string of losses that dominated my teens. i was teary, scared and wrecked almost incessantly, but i am proud to say that i faced and challenged the stories that i was clinging to (such as; “it is happening because i am a bad person”; “this is punishment”; “this is bad karma”). in the end, i managed to surrender my desperate need to be in control of the uncontrollable, and bowed to the reality which is that life is chaotic, and its reins are outside of our grasp. thankfully, my baby is safe and well, too! : )

very grateful for the amazing, kind & v. professional vets from lancaster: lancaster vets & bay vets, who tended to my baby with such great care and comforted me so kindly. i would highly recommend them!

💕 being responsible for her health and happiness is something i don’t take for granted and i will do whatever it takes to keep her safe and well. i love her so much and her innocence is so warm 💛

🌸 deepened my spiritual practice and committed myself to the path; was very blessed to fall in Her arms, to bathe Her feet with my tears, and to encounter the exquisite knowledge of non-dual śaiva-śakta tantra and śrī vidyā, and to learn from the illustrious teachers christopher hareesh wallis and kavitha chinnaiyan, whose words touched my heart so deeply. i cried as deep awareness jolted inside of me while reading their works, and i am humbled by the unfolding of my life and by the turn my seeking journey has taken.

🌸 and, of course, moved to the united kingdom, learned to take care of myself, and adored becoming independent and living by myself, and later with a friend // soul-sister : )

🌸 i travelled;

to:

thailand, my love, where i fed elephants bananas and visited sacred temple with bare feet

berlin, my soul, where i danced til my feet hurt and more with people i love deeply

cities of italy, where i cried, shed past stories, read baba ram dass’s “living the bhagavad gita” and searched for stillness in the midst of tumult & beauty

lisbon & around; i visited the magical boca do inferno in cascais, the place where the one and only aleister crowley faked his death.

barcelona & madrid, where i cried, drank sangria, fed pigeons and went on warm, long walks at dawn

cities and beaches of greece; where i hummed leonard cohen incessantly, walked into the sea in my long black dress, and where ! the @theveganchroniclesx project was birthed in a cosy vegan restaurant named “mama tierra”, where my best friend and i tried moussaka with coconut milk bechamel sauce (!)  and decided that such heavenly bites could not be kept secret, and that we needed to share our foodventures with other food lovers & vegan travellers!

🌸 had my work published in various magazines & read out poetry at open mics, clumsy at first and with red cheeks

🌸 learned to cook and started a vegan cooking page with my best friend, @theveganchroniclesx

began seeing cooking as a love language, spoken / dedicated to myself and others, and fell in love with this intimate act of giving, nourishing and sharing.

as nirrimi firebrace once said, “easy, nourishing, humble food makes me so happy”. : )

🌸 stayed in an ashram, where i was held, where i cried, prayed and danced ecstatically

🌸 fell in love, suffered from heart-break, mended my heart, fell in love

🌸 danced bare foot at festivals, sun in my mouth, long dresses sweeping the earth, untangling along with the thumping music

🌸 went to climate strikes, took the futuristic february challenge, committed to a low waste lifestyle – an imperfect one, albeit i’m trying

🌸 went to animal rights marches

🌸 danced my heart out at raves with people i love deeply; partied in london, manchester, egham and glasgow, and met a lovely warm soul & poet in brighton whom i met online (social media can be such a wonderful thing!) : )

🌸 visited london, where my best friend lives, so many wonderful times; wrote a poem about my dearest londonese night, in which i danced on the westminster bridge at 5.11 am, spiralling in sequins 

and the stars were closer

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🌼met an owl!! from corio raptor care, which is a charity that protects, cares for and aids injured birds of prey 🙂

🌼 visited lake district with my favourite writers

🌼 saw placebo live, three times, and on the night i turned nineteen i screamed at the top of my lungs:

just nineteen, a sucker’s dream

with my love, brian molko, feeling deliciously teenage angsty and relishing in it, 

being

unafraid and blissful

fully, completely

🌼went to pride parades where i felt free and sparkly and beautiful dancing with my hands above my head tulle pressed to my thighs (or so to quote myself from the previously offered poem)

🌼had my first internship in berlin, where i contributed to a travel-guide with articles about art, museums, glammy night-life and the delicious vegan food only berlin can offer

🌼was an editor and co-executive editor for flash journal lancaster, where i edited some fantastic pieces written by very talented people, and met some fantastic peeps

🌺 went to balls, swayed with my shoes in my hands in dresses that made me feel beautiful and alive

🌺 and, lastly, i started going to therapy again. i fought my mind and my habits, cried on the bathroom floor, meditated, opened, forgave, softened. it is an on-going process, but i am fully dedicated to it, and grateful that i was offered the privilege to do the healing work. i hope that i will be able to help others in the future. my dream is to become a silver-haired lady who wears flowy dresses and heals the wounds of young girls and helps them unlearn and unbecome : )

☀️ thank you to anyone who’s made it so far, hope my cheesy reflections brought a smile to your face!

here’s to the future

to growing

to loving

to breaking

to showing up

vulnerable and raw and messy

to digesting the sorrow

as life dances on the tip

of your tongue

// ^ or so to paraphrase a sonnet of mine recently published in the Writing Disorder here ❤ love!

You are crazy, my child. You must go to Berlin

extracts from a Berlin travel guide I worked on for three and a half weeks, during my first internship:

Feature: Introduction to Berlin

Much has been written about Berlin’s blend of history, outstanding culture and infamous nightlife. Proclaimed the capital of cool, Berlin is where you can “go to all-night parties, attend a screening of an arthouse film and an anti-Trump demonstration within 24 hours”, as The Times noted. Some talk about Berlin’s fall from grace, wondering if the city’s growing popularity diminished its authenticity and turned the city into a growingly expensive tourist trap.

From Marlene Dietrich, who sang “I still keep a suitcase in Berlin” with a piercing longing, to the rebellious singer Iggy Pop, who called Berlin his home, many artists have voiced their love for Berlin.

“You are crazy, my child. You must go to Berlin” (Franz von Suppé)

Affordable, buzzing, wild and carefree, Berlin is a symbol for tolerance and open-mindedness. Unlike other metropolises in Europe, it’s a place where you can relax. Berliners do not rush. They take their time, basking in the sun with their low-cut T-shirts and heavily tattooed arms, flicking back their occasionally bright-coloured hair.

Nights in Berlin are freaky, intense and fiery. The club culture is exhilarating; anything goes. Berlin is a techno capital: notorious DJs, outrageous raves and 36-hour long parties. There are plenty of clubs to choose from, perhaps the most infamous being Berghain, which pays the same taxes as theatres and concert halls, as it is considered to produce work of cultural significance.

It’s magical to lose yourself in Berlin’s night scene, in the hazy beat of electronic music and in the half-clothed masses. There is a strong sense of acceptance. You are free to be yourself. You won’t be judged.

“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine” (David Bowie)

Berlin is a home to artists and a paradise to emerging creators, who come here to pursue their dreams. There are around 20,000 artists living and working in the city, lured by cheap rents, the city’s libertine energy and the massive studio spaces. The street art mirrors the city’s fantastic art scene.

Berlin is bursting with culture and history. It has 175 museums, even more than New York. It’s an open museum too: from the Berlin Wall to Checkpoint Charlie and to the Nazi book burning site at Babelplatz, Berlin’s unique history can be seen by foot.

“Berlin is cheap, but sexy” (Klaus Wowereit)

Berlin is the cheapest capital city in Western Europe. While it is getting expensive, perhaps because of its touristy appeal, it is the perfect place for backpackers, artists and adventurers for now. You can get a cup of coffee for €2, a lunch for less than €10, a pint of beer for €2-4, a day travel pass for €6,50 and a decent double room in a hotel for €50 per night. What is more, some of the attractions of Berlin are free, such as East Side Gallery, Raw Tempel and Yaam Beach.

Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin! (Jack Lang)

Nonetheless, Berlin is constantly changing, you never know what to expect. You need to experience it yourself.

Reviews: Art, Beauty & Vegan Food

Beyond Compare: How African and European Sculptures Carve the Essence of Humanity

There are few exhibitions as fascinating as Bode Museum’s “Beyond Compare”. “Beyond Compare” brings together, compares and analyses the sculptural traditions of two continents by displaying, side by side, 70 African sculptures, along with renowned masterpieces from Byzantium, Italy and central Europe.

Despite their radical stylistic differences, it is interesting to observe how the artworks touch the same themes. They illustrate the frailty of the human experience, exploring subjects such as death, beauty, motherhood, power, spirituality and love. Cultures apart, humans seemed to be moved by the same matters; it is remarkable to see the dainty, gothic sculpture of Madonna, Virgin of Mercy, appear next to a seemingly raw sculpture which represents a power figure from Congo. The second sculpture looks quite crude next to the carefully-carved Madonna, but both were made with the intent to ask for protection, to invoke forces that are beyond the physical world.

In the exhibition’s first slide, it is noted that the works displayed were made by human beings, and not by “cultures”, “tribes”, “ethnic groups” or “nations”. It is important to keep this in mind while strolling through the museum, as this exhibition is not an objective comparison between two different cultures, but a soft reflection of human nature.

Address: Am Kupfergraben, 10117 Berlin. Closest stations: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt; Bus TXL Staatsoper, Lustgarten, Friedrichstraße. Opening hours: Monday – closed; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00; Thursday: 10.00 – 20.00. Prices: 12,00 EUR, Reduced 6,00. Website: https://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/bode-museum/home.html Contact: Tel 030 266 42 42 42

Enjoy the silence in Museum der Stille

Museum der Stille (“Museum of Silence”) is a unique invitation to embrace the silence in the middle of the lively district of Berlin Mitte. It’s a small, free and beautiful exhibition of paintings and architectural models that illustrate different stages of stillness. It is lovely, subtle and, above all, silent. In the middle of the museum, there is only one piercing painting of a woman who’s gazing through you, with a simple wooden bench in front it. The walls are a deep, warm red and the light is dimmed. The profound silence makes the experience sincere and intense; you are struck by a strong feeling of here and now. While at the beginning you might be put off by the awkwardness of hearing your feet clumsily shuffling through the museum, you will gently ease into the museum’s serenity, if you let yourself. For once, you do not have to rush. It’s enough just to take it all in.

Even after leaving the museum and walking back into broad daylight, the spell of silence is not broken. You might be finding yourself humming Depeche Mode and thinking that they were right, perhaps. It is enough just to enjoy the silence.

Address: Linienstraße 154A, 10115 Berlin Closest stations: Oranienburger Tor, Oranienburger Straße. Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 14:00 – 19:00 Prices: Free Website: http://museum-der-stille.de/de/ Contact: info@museum-der-stille.de Tel: +49 (0) 30 278 919 90

CWC Gallery: exploring the modern and the contemporary

If you have a soft spot for art, but find most museums to be too sombre and a little old-fashioned, CWC Gallery might just be the place for you. “CWC” stands for “Camera Work Contemporary” and, as its name suggests, it focuses on contemporary and slightly modern positions found in photography, painting and sculpture. The gallery is in the heart of the bohemian Berlin-Mitte quarter and, while stylish and elegant, it isn’t pretentious and it has an easy-going vibe. It’s also completely free!

The first floor is a homage to the 1990s that recreates the dreamy allure of the era. Wandering around, you are charmed by goddesses of the ‘90s: photos of the iconic Iman, Gisele Bündchen, Uma Thurman and Halle Berry, all captured by Micheal Comte, are plastered on walls. Their half-smile and bouncy curls will leave you longing. You can soothe your temporary nostalgia by moving onto the next floors, where you can admire a beautifully curated and impressive exhibition of modern works of art, some of which display a striking social commentary.

In the same building, you can also find quite an interesting permanent exhibition about The Kennedys, which explores the political success and the private life of John F. Kennedy. The admission fee is 5€.

Address: Auguststraße 11–13, 10117 Berlin Closest stations: Oranienburger Tor, Oranienburger Straße. Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 10:00 -18:00 Saturday 11:00 – 18:00. . Prices: Free. Website: https://camerawork.de/ Contact: info@camerawork.de Tel 030 24048614

Yoyo FoodWorld: the oldest vegan fast-food joint in Berlin

Yoyo FoodWorld is a hip fast-food joint on the Gärtnerstrasse 27 and the first and oldest vegan fast-food in Berlin.

For almost ten years, Yoyo hasn’t been your typical fast-food. Its atmosphere is similar to one of a quiet, cozy indie bar. Indoors, the light is slightly dimmed and there are photos of famous musicians and philosophers plastered on the restaurant’s walls, along with cult film posters that would make any film student swoon. Soft rock music plays in the background. The outdoor sitting is just as delightful, as the area surrounding the joint is lovely and inviting.

The food is cheap, fantastic and sure to satisfy your cravings, as the options are varied. They have 3,50€ burgers, 6,50€ pizza, 5€ wraps, 6€ schnitzels, 5€ seitan Currywursts, 3,80€ sea food and meatballs at the price of 8 for 3,20€. All the dishes are deliciously vegan and would work perfectly as comfort food or hangover food. It’s also the place to take your friends to convince them that vegan food is tasty.

Another highlight is the toilet, which is exceptionally cool. It’s filled with queer stickers, feminist and political statements, colourful graffiti and carefully scribbled love poems; ideal for a quirky Instagram post.

Address: Gärtnerstraße 27, 10245 Berlin Closest stations: Samariterstr., Frankfurter Tor, Warschauer Str. Opening hours: Monday- Thursday 12:00 – 23:00, Friday – Saturday 12:00 – 00:00, Sunday 12:00 – 23:00. Prices: € Website: http://www.yoyofoodworld-berlin.de/ Contact: kontakt@yoyofoodworld-berlin.de

Get fettundbetrunken at the Chaostheorie

Chaostheorie is the first vegan cocktail bar in Germany. Their slogan is “fettundbetrunken”: “fat and drunk”, so expect to find a perfect mix of cheap comfort food and funky alcohol.

Onto the first part of their motto, “fat”: the food is fantastic. From a veganized traditional cuisine to more modern dishes, the highlights are juicy currywursts, enormous doner kebabs, fries with dripping dips, pulled mushroom burgers and thick cheese meatball sandwiches. To sweeten things up, the selection of house-made cakes is flavourful to say the least. The Oreo cake, smooth and crunchy at the same time, is a popular favourite. The soft drinks are also a dream: creamy milkshakes, Snickers, Manner or Oreo flavored, and rich freakshakes. You can settle for classic options, too: late macchiato, hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows, coffee with caramelized milk and hot applesauce with cinnamon and vanilla soya milk.

Now, onto the second part of their motto…”drunk”! You can sip traditional cocktails or try out the bartender’s specials: experimental and refreshing mixtures such as Julep Blue, bourbon, blue curaçao, ginger ale and limette.

The place itself is cozy: dim light, soft indie music, shelves stacked with books and a lovely photobooth perfect for making memories.

Even if you’re looking for a quiet afternoon with good food or for a tipsy evening, in Chaostheorie you can find the things you thought you’d never enjoy again once you went vegan.

Address: Schliemannstraße 15, 10437 Berlin. Closest Stations: Prenzlauer Alle, Stargarder Str., Schönhauser Allee. Opening Hours: Mon, Tue, Wed: 17:00 – 22:00; Thu: 17:00 – 23:00; Fri: 17:00 – 01:00; Sat: 15:00 – 01:00; Sun: 15:00 – 22:00. Price range: € (under €10). Website: http://www.chaostheorie.berlin/ Contact: 030/548 907 34; info@chaostheorie.berlin.

Challenge yourself at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art

The Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art is a remarkable contemporary art institution located in the Berlin’s picturesque district Mitte. The building is a sight itself and it has a sophisticated allure, tall and elegant. The outdoor café has a lovely Parisian appeal and it’s where the hip tattooed artists you might have seen on Tumblr sip their coffees in the afternoon.

The works of art exhibited in the Institute are complex. You can marvel at political activist art, video art, visual art or interactive art. They’re also controversial, with people either excitedly praising them or dismissing them as meaningless. The exhibitions are divided into rooms: in some rooms you might be deafened by booming nature sounds, while in others you might be asked to take off your shoes and wander into an empty, soundproof room, where you’d be faced with a gut-wrenching documentary about the condition of the modern black artist. However, you never know what to expect, as the exhibits change constantly. Nonetheless, the works of emerging young artists are unique and do not hold the reassurance of traditional art: they challenge you and shake you. They draw out a strong response, be it positive or negative.

Finally, even if you occasionally roll your eyes at modern art, you should give the KW Institute a chance. At least one of the works of art displayed might move you.

Address: Auguststraße 69, 10117 Berlin. Closest stations: Oranienburger Tor, Oranienburger Straße.  Price: 16€ general entrance, 10€ reduced. Opening hours: Monday: 11:00 – 19:00. Tuesday: Closed. Wednesday: 11:00-19:00. Thursday: 11:00-21:00. Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00. Website: https://www.kw-berlin.de/ Contact : +49 30 243459-0, info@kw-berlin.de.

Be Here, Be Queer at the Schwules Museum

The Schwules Museum is the world’s first gay museum, originally opened in 1985. It exhibits the violent history and the injustices the LGBTQ community endured in the past, as well as Berlin’s current queer life.

Schwules is not your typical queer museum. If you expect it to be bustling with colour and rainbows, you might be taken aback. To an extent, it is exceptionally colourful, with cheeky illustrations of young gay couples kissing, soft porn photos and neon slogans about love. But a more serious tone is predominant. The permanent exhibitions also depict gay history milestones, such as the feminist revolution, the composition of the first feminist songs of the German movement or the protests of a working group of lesbian teachers. In the middle of the museum, there’s a memorial dedicated to the LGBT people who were killed in concentration camps. Their names are written in blood-red. You will also shudder upon entering the museum, where you can see a lengthy list of countries where homosexuality is currently considered a punishable crime.

It is important to go to the Schwules Museum because you will be reminded of how painful history is and how the free world we live in required sacrifices. And how, for some, the world still isn’t free.

It is not allowed to take pictures, which at first might be quite annoying, as your initial impulse might be to want to immortalize everything. However, this might help you take in all the information and carefully weigh what you’re seeing.

Finally, is important to go to the Schwules Museum because you will be reminded of how painful history is and how the free world we live in required sacrifices. And how, for some, the world still isn’t free.

Address: Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin Closest Stations: U Nollendorfplatz, U Kurfürstenstraße, Lützowstraße / Potsdamer Straße, Lützowplatz. Opening hours: Monday: 14:00 – 18:00, Tuesday: Closed, Wednesday: 14:00 – 18:00, Thursday: 14:00 – 20:00, Friday: 14:00 -18:00, Saturday: 14:00 – 19:00, Sunday: 14:00 – 18:00. Price: € 7.50 regular, € 4 reduced. Website: https://www.schwulesmuseum.de/ Contact: 030 69599050

Sun and wholesome food at The Bowl

The Bowl, self-proclaimed a “clean-eating restaurant”, is the perfect place for a cozy lunch with your friends or for a breakfast date with a book. They only use fresh, seasonal, healthy and gluten-free products. Everything is fully sustainable and vegan. They even use natural sugar! And, truthfully, the food is indeed full of flavour and it leaves you with a sense of freshness. They have a great variety of bowls: from rich breakfast bowls filled with sweet fruit, raw chocolate and creamy soy yoghurt to lavish plates with roasted vegetables, mashed avocado raw crackers, zucchini and smoked paprika.

The desserts are a treat, as well. The highlights are the lush vanilla almond cake, with coconut blossom sugar, raw chocolate and coconut strawberry and bananenbrot, with grilled banana, granola, warm strawberry sauce and raw chocolate.

While it is a bit pricey, 6,50 € for breakfast bowls and around 10 € for the lunch specials, the naturalness of the food, its filling base and vitamin-rich toppings make it all worth it.

The dishes are perfectly Instagrammable and the colourful variety of vegetables and legumes doesn’t even need a filter. While enjoying your wholesome food, you can bask in the sun in front of the large windows and observe the buzzing Warschauer Straße, with hazy, synth-pop music unfolding in the background.

What is more, on the ground floor of the same building where Bowl is, you can find Veganz, a plant-based supermarket with an impressively wide range of products, from cheese and ham slices to cashew cookies, ice cream and the finest chocolate cream.

Address: Warschauer Str. 33, 10243 Berlin Closest Stations: Warschauer Str. Opening hours: Monday: 10:30-23:00, Tuesday: 10:30–23:00, Wednesday: 10:30–23:00, Thursday: 10:30–23:00, Friday: 10:30–23:00, Saturday: 10:00–23:00, Sunday: 10:00-23:00. Price: €€ Website: http://www.the-bowl.de/ Contact: 030 29771447