I am Canadian. I grew up in a small town of Québec in a really francophone region. When I moved to Ontario for work at the age of 20, I could not hold a conversation in English.
I was a creative kid. A Sears catalogue, homemade glueing paste, and a pair of scissors would keep me entertained for a long time. I would spend hours making paper dolls and their clothing from scratch.
As an adult, I put all my creative activities aside to focus on my professional career and did not pick it back up until I was in my late thirties. At that point I started making paper models, paper tole, Pergamano, and 3D stereo-photography.
When my daughter was a toddler she would ask me to draw animals, objects and people. I was doing a terrible job, nothing I drew looked like anything I was trying to draw but she kept asking for more.
Out of desperation I looked for step-by-step drawing instructions on the internet. This is how I fell upon zen doodling and mandala drawing.
I was hooked. Drawing mandalas became my escape from my busy and stress filled life. When I drew I would stop thinking and get lost in my work. I discovered a thriving online community and made lasting friends from whom I would get encouragement and inspiration.
I participated in many workshops. This is how I discovered Julie and Mandala Magic.
I participated a couple of times in the free program, at the end of 2022 I decided to take the plunge and join the Mandala Magic School. It was money well spent, I do not regret it.
One night in the fall of 2016 I had a stroke while driving back from work at 3 am.
Unknowingly at the time I was also suffering from post viral encephalitis.
My life took a tumble, it is as if I had gone to sleep being me and woke up being someone else.
My life had changed and would never be the same. I was only 41 years old.
In the weeks following the stroke, I could not read, watch TV or even surf on the internet. I had no clue what any numbers meant, I did not know what money was worth and I could not even figure out the time. I was in my bubble disconnected from the world around me.
At the time my mandala practice was well established so we included it as a part of my rehabilitation program.
My therapists also suggested that I pick the guitar back up after a break of over 20 years. They explained that art and music were proven to be beneficial to recovery after a brain trauma.
A few days after my stroke I remember struggling while holding my compass and wanting to give it up. I looked at my pre-stroke drawings and I was unable to figure out how I had constructed my mandalas.
But I kept going. Little by little, circle by circle, one pen stroke at a time, it started to get a bit clearer in my mind. It did not take long for me to be able to make beautiful art again.
When I was drawing my mandalas I did not have time to dwell on the things I had lost. It kept me busy, it kept me connected to other people who loved drawing mandalas and most of all it kept me from sinking deeper into depression.
Not only it saved my sanity, it was also helping me heal my injured brain by keeping my brain challenged and active. It was very beneficial in math and pattern recognition.
After my first 6 weeks of rehabilitation I had graduated to the math level of a kid in kindergarden.
By the end of my rehabilitation, I was evaluated to be up to a level equivalent to an eight years old kid in second grade.
I am convinced that I would not have gotten there without the magic of mandala drawing.
Unfortunately, I did not recover completely and I have some mild cognitive impairments, they are not visible. People who did not know me before can’t perceive any of them even though it changed me dramatically.
My job was stressful and cognitively very demanding. I had to be at my best, mistakes could cost many lives. Because of this I was forced into retirement after being unable to obtain medical clearance to get my professional certification back.
My aviation career ended abruptly and I am still in the process of mourning the loss. I am once again counting on my mandala friends and my mandala journey to get me through.
What appeals to me the most in mandalas are the magic of the geometry, the precision and the symmetry.
I feel safe within the constraints of the circle.
With the Alignment program of the Mandala Magic School, I am venturing out of my comfort zone and I am loving it. Julie’s exercise suggestions are bringing me to places I never ventured before.
Adding accompanying words to each mandala is new to me, I find it difficult but love the challenge.
I have chosen to do the Alignment program with watercolour so it is naturally forcing me to be less precise and I am learning to loosen up.
Watercolour is also quicker than colouring pencils. The majority of my mandalas are made in ink and coloured pencils.
From the planning, drawing, inking and colouring, I often spend days working on one mandala.
The unpredictability and pace of watercolour are welcomed.