Meet Neena Buxani, Visual Artist Living Her Best Life

Everyone! Meet Neena Buxani, creator of vibrant, bold, beautiful art. She has had a nontraditional journey to becoming a professional, full time artist, and her love for this moment in her life shines through in her interview. Neena is definitely living her best life, and she has graciously shared her passion with us all. Hell. Yes! 

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

I am a visual artist. I attempt to create paintings that uplift the soul.  My artwork is an expression of a world I want to live in, where joy is a part of every moment. My portfolio is a combination of work that I create to satisfy my need for self-expression in addition to paintings created specifically for people’s homes and offices, interweaving their vision with mine.

What motivates you to do what you do?

It has been a lifelong dream of mine to be a professional artist, and I am truly lucky to have the opportunity to do just that.  My art’s purpose is to remind people to enjoy life and to be themselves. Life is too short to deny ourselves what makes us happy. In my experience, we are happiest when we are our true selves.

Tell me about a moment when you felt empowered:

I go through many moments when I don’t think I’m good enough, or when I feel like I might not be able to pull off a painting for a client. But when I hear the words, “Do what you feel is best, I trust you, you’re the artist”, then all of a sudden I feel like I can create anything. To me, when people believe in my craft, that’s empowering.

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

I paint. I call my sister or my husband. I cry it out, and then I paint. Putting your artwork out there, whether it be at a show or on social media, is a scary thing to do. You’re essentially putting a piece of yourself on open display.  It’s easy to get caught up in people’s responses to your work and to compare yourself with the successes of other artists. Unfortunately, rejection is a part of everyday life for an artist. You need to stay focused on your goals and create, create, create. You can’t stop creating because you don’t feel good enough, because then you’ll never create. And isn’t it the whole point to do just that.

Who are the people that you look to for inspiration? What makes them stand out to you?

Strong women, like artists Ashley Longshore and Frida Kahlo, who are comfortable in their own skin. The women who don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. The women who wear what they want and say what they think and who are forever growing in their own way. The women who make the people around them comfortable to be themselves too.

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

It’s important to live an authentic life. Confidence is beautiful, and we should always celebrate who we are because we are all unique in our own way. We all have something special about us that we bring to the world. We all have the power to change people’s lives for the better if we are just strong enough to be ourselves.

Neena’s enthusiasm for creating is inspiring, and I’m so glad that I got to interview her! There were many great takeaways from this interview. It’s hard to pick one! Mine might be her idea to push through the moments of self-doubt and continue with your work. That is a REALLY tough thing to do, and it’s a great way to prove the negative self-chatter wrong. Uch, so good! Check out her work here. (I’m partial to her floral series, but far be it from me to limit your perusing! :))  

-  Lauren, HHT

An Interview with Julie Gillis, producer, speaker, and all around bad ass

Last week, I was lucky enough to have lunch with Julie Gillis, teller of stories, social justice warrior, and critic of the patriarchy. During lunch, she shared her thoughts on self-acceptance, social constructs that keep us from appreciating ourselves, and the importance of telling your story. Spending an hour with her made me feel so energized and intellectually engaged. She is so fucking cool! I really love that I get to share her ideas below. 

Tell me about yourself and what you do:

I’m a producer, speaker, and facilitator focused on stories, social justice, and building community. I produce transformational storytelling events merging art and social change. I also consult on projects for both stage and screen, supporting groups seeking to forge the most impactful narrative in their work. I speak, write, and support those who need to reclaim the narrative in their lives. In addition, I'm an activist focused on gender, sexual, and racial justice. I've been a producer of BedPost Confessions, a storytelling series about sexuality and gender, and produced Ladies Are Funny Festival for 6 years.

What motivates you to do what you do?

That's a good question! I just feel the call to do it and so I do. I've always been a helper type, even since childhood and I've always been drawn to the theater and performance. It made sense that over time those two drives would join up. I believe people need each other to get through life, that life itself is messy and it's only by sharing our stories that we find clarity through it all. The more I've seen amazing results from people sharing their stories, the more I want to do the work. It also brings me a lot of different groups - activists, artists, local political groups, educators and more. I love getting to work with so many different people who themselves are trying to make the world a better place. 

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly awesome:

There have been moments after BedPosts where someone will tell me how the show has really helped them personally and that means so much to me. I have a belief that we impact people all the time and often we don't hear about the "how." It's very special to me to get to hear from someone who has had a moment of that impact, to know that the work I am doing is important in some way to someone. I also will admit to feeling awesome on the rare days I get to sleep in especially if it coincides with a thunderstorm. I love thunder. 

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

With bourbon? No, seriously, I tell myself this, "Just last week you felt great, and I can remember when you felt bad say...three weeks ago. Things will get better." Self doubt is always there, for me at least, and I figure its there for a lot of us. It's important to have a group of friends to talk to, learn from,and be able to admit that doubt. And to track the ups and downs so you have real proof that you come through it. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?  

That it's okay to fail at it so long as you try to accept and celebrate the fact that you fail at accepting and celebrating. I know that's ridiculous, but sometimes the meta is what you need.  As a generalization, women aren't taught to celebrate themselves, their power, their craft. It's good to practice it in little ways, and accept that in many ways culture is pushing against us. So keep at it, keep little reminders of your accomplishments and know that acceptance takes time and practice. At least for me it does.

Julie is so right about celebrating failure as an important part of life. Women especially aren't taught to accept and celebrate setbacks, which is to our detriment. Failure is inevitable. Let's remember those growth moments as well as our accomplishments. They make up our story! If you would like to learn more about Julie's work, you can check it out here!

If you want to learn more about how to celebrate all of yourself including your failures, you can check out my individual therapy services here!

An Interview with Jessica Pearson and Beth Barnett-Boebell, the Awesome Women of Path Nutrition

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jessica Pearson and Beth Barnett-Boebell, the food coach and functional medicine dietitian behind Path Nutrition. They offer Austinites nutrition counseling with personalized support, and they are fucking rad! I asked them to share their insights about their work and their lives, so we can all bask in the glory that is two bad ass Austin women doing great work! 

Tell me a bit about yourselves and what you do:

Beth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and I'm a Food Coach. We met in culinary school and realized we share passions for travel, coffee, and things that make us snort laugh. After graduation, we started to share work projects. We realized we can make a bigger impact working as a team than as individuals. We created Path to provide reliable nutrition counseling with a uniquely personal approach. 

What motivates you to do what you do?

We put a lot of thought into refining the "why" of our work. We know that when we feel our best we are able to do more of the things we love. When we feel that joy of doing what we love then we are able to give more of ourselves back to those in our lives and to our community. We feel great when a client tells us that they finally feel good enough to start living the life they really want. That is why we believe nourishing yourself allows you to take on the world and make it a better place. Just think what the world would be like if we created more happiness in ourselves.

Tell me about a moment when you felt truly amazing:

We had a hard time picking just one moment! Tapping into your inner awesome really allows the amazing moments to flow. When you nourish yourself, you can find that amazing feeling in so many ways. Sometimes just nailing that Vinyasa flow or clearing out your inbox can feel as good as a vacation. My most recent moment was last Saturday at my husband's show. He is a musician and when he plays and I'm surrounded by close friends and everyone is dancing, my heart is full.

Beth recently had a particular moment where she explored an old passion that you can read more about here

How do you get through periods of self-doubt?

Luckily, we have each other. We often joke about this roller coaster ride of being entrepreneurs and women. We have been through enough individually and experienced enough therapy to be able to check-in and observe our feelings.

So sometimes it is just about feeling that emotion and knowing it will pass soon. Or, if it feels intense we communicate with each other or our spouses. We lift each other up with a little pep talk and that helps us get over the hump. Movement is a very helpful mood boosters and sometimes a nap is all you need. 

What do you want other women to know about self-acceptance and self-celebration?

Self-acceptance is about being who and where you are right now and knowing that you are enough. I think self-celebration supports self-acceptance. Taking some time to praise ourselves and acknowledge the work we do and the joy we experience brings more acceptance and confidence. If we aren't able to accept ourselves now, then will we be able to accept ourselves when we get to this imaginary place we created in our minds in the future? Probably not. The work is here and now. The joy is all around us. :)

Gosh, they are so right! Sometimes, we forget the connection between how we treat our bodies and how we feel. That can really effect the lives that we lead, especially if we are sensitive digestive souls! We all deserve to live a life full of self-celebration, and our nutrition issues should not hold us back. I am so glad that Austin has a resource like you two! If you would like to learn more about Path Nutrition, check out them out here!  

If you want to dig deeper into your own feelings around self-acceptance and self-celebration, check out my offerings for individual therapy here