We had the good fortune of connecting with Tanya Mikaela and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tanya, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
You know, it took me years to understand the importance of balance. Now, I’m such a spokeswoman for this, I’ve even written a book! For a long time, I dove head-on into life, juggling whatever came my way without any boundaries at all. I was an artist, designer, mother, daughter, sister, wife, friend, career-woman, yogi, caregiver, domestic-goddess, spiritual goddess, goddess of “having it all together, all the time” …it was ridiculous! Then one day, out of overwhelming exhaustion, I let it all drop. When I realized that the world didn’t end and that, in fact, I felt kind of light and giddy – I set off to find my soul again. I returned to my studio and made lots of art. I also spent five years training to become a Licensed Spiritual Practitioner, which is like a spiritual life-coach. I dove deep into meditation, affirmative prayer and gratitude practices and all of this shifted everything for me. I realized that self-love and self-care have to come first, no matter what. I learned how to say “no” to things that did not serve the whole of me, which, as a woman is hard – and to say “YES” to what filled my soul, without guilt – also a challenge! In the process I learned that when I put myself first, I not only replenish my energy and enjoy balance, but everything else magically falls into place. I’ve become a much better mom, wife, friend, businesswoman etc., because now I’m coming from a place of being grounded, balanced and centered. And, I’ve exampled something wonderful for my daughters! So, the book I mentioned brings circles of women together on a twelve-month journey to live their best lives. It’s called “The Circle, A Woman’s Guide to Joy, Passion and Authenticity.” It uses all the supportive life practices I’ve learned in a way that’s fun, creative, expansive and extremely balancing. In fact, right now there are several pilot circles across the country who’ve embarked on the journey of my book, and the transformation I’m witnessing is amazing! I can’t tell you how good it feels to be in a position to share what I’ve learned with women everywhere. I’ve become aware that when I reach for harmony and balance first, everything becomes easier and the choices I make are from a place of alignment and empowerment. That’s not saying that stuff doesn’t happen – it does, because that’s life. But, when stuff happens, I’m now more able to move through it with ease and grace. Living a balanced life is a game-changer. And – I’m so much more at peace – so much happier!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My main form of creative expression is collage. My style is like painting with paper. I apply bits of torn, reclaimed paper, like brushstrokes, to create figurative images. I’ll start with just an idea, that then becomes a sketch. From there I’ll begin with whatever paper I’m drawn to, slowly building up layer upon layer to flesh out and reveal the image. All the layers beneath become like the soul of the piece. I’m told I have enormous patience but, really, it’s a very organic process. It’s all about trust, surrender, allowing. And, the element of surprise! My spiritual practice is always my first step to creativity. It helps me with the surrender part. It gets my controlling, thinking mind out of the way so there’s room for creativity to flow through. If I don’t start with meditation the whole creative process feels clunky! When my mind sneaks back in I’ll walk away for a bit, often just to close my eyes and breathe. The tools I’ve learned as a Spiritual Practitioner have become the foundation for my creative process. For years I sustained myself as an artist by working as an interior designer. That career soon became all-consuming and there was little time to make art – especially with two young kids at home. While it was creative, it sucked me dry! We spoke earlier about balance – for years I was really wobbly! Finally getting to the place where I could take a profound leap of faith and step back from that career shifted everything for me. I still do a bit of design consulting, but it no longer consumes me. Becoming deeply rooted in my Spiritual practice first was the key to enjoying balance in my life – this was the game-changer. I’ve eased into a nice rhythm now. I create art, I consult, I lead women’s circles and teach healing art workshops. I also make crystal wands and jewelry. And, I have my spiritual work. Now with my book, “The Circle…”, I’ve added the author to my list. It sounds like a lot, but the secret is, I’ve learned how to approach everything I do in a way that supports the whole of me. I remember to take time to nourish my soul and to breathe – that’s huge! And for the most part, I no longer feel like I’m juggling. With all of my current passions, my biggest challenge has been re-branding myself. Creating my new website pushed me to recognize how all the different parts of me can weave together perfectly – how all that I do is integral to the whole of me. My brand, just like my book, stems from the three things that fill my life right now – Creativity, Spirituality and being a passionate cheerleader for women. Once this felt cohesive and made perfect sense to me, I was able to convey this as a solid brand! The fun part is, I’m probably more than half way through my life and yet, in some ways, I feel like I’m just getting started!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Well, my favorite spot in the city is my home. I’m really proud of the sanctuary I’ve created here in the midst of the city. I designed my home along with my tree-top art studio, and I filled it with all the things I love. I’m told that when people come in they can instantly feel the love here! My whole family loves to cook, so a lazy afternoon by my pool with food, wine, friends and laughter is a perfect start for my guests! I’d show them the beaches, especially El Matador in Malibu, which is a hidden gem! A walk through Huntington Gardens in Pasadena is always great. And, if they like to hike, Fryman Canyon is a nice 4-mile cardio-escape. We’d visit local museums like the LACMA and the Getty, and we’d have to stop by my gallery, Ten Women on Montana. If it’s summer, a picnic under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl is always fun. There’s so much good food in Los Angeles, but a few go-to’s in my hood (which will hopefully survive Covid!) are: Aroma Cafe (perfect for lingering over breakfast or lunch), Ca Del Sole for a yummy al fresco dinner and Mizlala for Mediterranean food. Il Piccolino is my spot when I crave Spaghetti Vongole (my favorite pasta done to perfection) and Mastro’s Ocean Club for a great filet and the famous butter cake! If they’re here for a Sunday, we might start the day with the 11am service at the Agape International Spiritual Center (at the Saban Theater), then swing by The Farmers Market on Fairfax for brunch. And, if there’s time we could escape the city for wine-tasting in Los Olivos, where Epiphany Vineyards is my go-to for luscious, jammy reds – their tasting room in town is really special!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to first give a huge shout-out to my amazing family. Because of their support and faith in me, and their ability to enthusiastically cheer me on, it’s easy to continue to pursue my dreams! Also a shout out to the Agape International Spiritual Center, and to my family of Spiritual Practitioners who keep things real and remind me who I am and what’s True. And, to the ever-expanding Circle of women in my life – all magnificent dynamos who fill my heart and walk this amazing journey with me… I feel incredibly blessed!
Collage images by Tanya Mikaela