A Conversation with Andréa Balt
Andréa Balt is a Writer, Creative Troublemaker, Wellness Alchemist and self proclaimed Renaissance Woman. She's also the creator of Rebelle Society and Write Yourself Alive. She holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®.
Your work is a reflection of Art & Health, Mind & Body and Darkness & Light. How do you flow between these spaces and where is your favourite place to dwell?
I had a very strict upbringing in a black or white world which I could not help but question from an early age. Although I appreciate discipline, I've always felt suffocated by extremes or either/or choices (or lack of choices).
We are all constantly being tamed and domesticated in one way or another. I always felt I needed a bigger vision, more space for my soul to breathe, and felt a strong desire to escape all these manmade prisons.
As I grew up, I realized this prison had mutated to be a part of me, it wasn't about the Matrix around me anymore, but about how I let my inner world be controlled by it - and reflected through my outer world.
Reconnecting with my wholeness, accepting my contradictions and embracing the whole of me - vs. just the parts I had permission to embrace growing up - was my form of creative rebellion against all the extremes and tunnel vision I felt was dismissing my soul. My escape.
I guess my latest favorite place to dwell is in the conscious, creative choice I have to make every moment my own. I don't believe we should simply accept what is, but create our reality according to who WE are. That's the only true place of rest, power and freedom I know.
What are the daily practices that you cultivate in order to keep your creative heart aligned with its core beliefs?
The one practice I've been most faithful to over the years is creating every single day, more specifically, writing. I can't conceive my life without writing. It's like breathing to me. How can anyone live without it?
With the constant need to use social media to communicate, I've been taking photographs every day as well for years and developed a passion for photography and visual art. So Writing + Photography are my number one absolutely non-negotiable soul recharger every day.
Second to Creating comes Reading. Reading & Writing are equal parts of a conversation you have with the world and its visionaries. I can't survive without soul food & inspiration. Reading the work of my mentors is my way of being a student, listening and learning.
Thirdly, yet not less important, comes mediation & exercise (running & yoga mostly). I'm an HSP empath, so everything affects me. Meditation clears my mind, while exercise clears my body. They are both freeing and cleansing and if only a few days go by without either, I feel my crazy escalate.
As a travelling heartist who has landed on many of the worlds shores, where is the place that your energy is at it's most vital?
I love Europe, it's my main home. I also have a tight connection to the U.S. after living there for a few years in my late teens & early twenties and visiting often. Currently though, I've just discovered Southeast Asia and more specifically Bali, which has turned into my latest temporary home.
There is a creative magic that involves the whole mind, body & soul acting in unison on this island that is hard to put into words, yet hard to ignore, there is an attitude of gratitude that keeps birthing new life in & through you.
The Balinese culture is one of the few that is able to integrate darkness and light and yet still maintain a spirit of celebration -- of honoring the wholeness of the human experience. Which is what I've been drawn towards my whole life.
Being here even for a few weeks changes you before you know it, it opens you to experiencing life from a new, more open and all-embracing paradigm. And this is one of the main prerequisites for creativity to take over.
I think that overall - and I believe I speak for all artists or creators of any kind - for inspiration and energy to be at its most, it has to come from both, the inside and the outside. So any place that can do both -- provide this creative energy and at the same time inspire it to arise from within, I shall call home.
What causes you to feel stifled and suppressed and what inspires your creative flow?
Stifled and suppressed: Blind authority & obedience to an institution, a belief, a person or a way of life; judgmental, condescending people; GMOs; narrow-mindedness of any kind; jails & prisons of any kind; cruelty to animals, nature and people; jealousy; white sugar; anyone who belittles or tries to control anyone else's dreams or ambitions; gluten; lack of sleep; lack of exercise; mosquitos.
Inspires my creative flow: Books, libraries, coffee shops, sunsets & sunrises, time alone, meditation, writing, photography, painting, music, animals, being in love, being heartbroken (or rather broken-open), like-minded creators, adventure, travel, nature, tea, coffee & chocolate, good views, green juice, cloudy skies, life-changing events, water, impermanence, births & deaths, change, deep & fulfilling conversations, jazz, classical music, black & white films, big churches, architecture, parks, museums, health food stores (yea, weird), the jungle, beaches, mountains, yoga, running, a good night's sleep, a long hug, trees, nostalgia.
You once wrote "I’m still trying to forgive myself for all the calls my fear didn’t let me answer". How do you manage present day fears when they attempt to prevent you from taking new calls?
Good question. I overanalyze all the pros & cons before making an important decision. This sometimes plays out against me but when it doesn't, it helps me come to place of deep clarity and power. I first weigh in all the pros & cons rationally, then add my intuition to the mix, then blend it all, then drink the whole smoothie and then I feel it out and act accordingly.
If my decision still feels off, I repeat the process. I also find it very helpful to dig deeper and ask myself: Is this decision based on fear or is it based on a wise analysis of all the mind & heart & body data?
Your words often seem to come from a place of self study and reflection. How magnetic is the pull of introversion as opposed to extraversion for you?
I am a big introvert with random bursts of extroversion. Communication is my religion so I often come across as an extrovert, but I can't take it for too long. I need to withdraw to my sanctuaries to recharge.
The whole Introvert vs. Extrovert dilemma has been oversimplified, in my opinion. I think there's a time for everything and people who claim to be absolute introverts or absolute extroverts are unhealthy and suffering because of it.
You need solitude to create your own world, develop your own thinking and become your own person. You also need company to learn from others as they learn from you, to inspire and be inspired, to argue with the world and let it yell back at you.
I love being alone often only because I am a highly sensitive empath and I feel the world around me too deeply. I take in other people's energy and when overdone, this interferes with my own, affects and distracts me.
My way of honoring my solitude and spending a lot of my time alone is not some kind of fashion or pointless pledge to my Introversion, it's also not a way of avoiding the world or a form of shyness or inadequacy -- the way some "experts" love to mislabel introverts -- but only my way to protect my sanity and have some space in which I can think for myself and be my own person before I let the world absorb and turn me into someone else.
In this space of solitude and quality time with self, I find the peace and freedom I need to create myself and my world without distractions. I strengthen my vision.
And I must add, neither Introverts nor Extroverts are immune to loneliness. And if I could just keep my solitude -- that is, the voluntary, introverted, pleasant time with self, and throw away my loneliness -- the state of feeling lonely, isolated or misunderstood, I absolutely would.
You believe in art as a way to live more abundantly. Who are the artists that have most stirred your soul and influenced you?
Why are you doing this to me? It's like asking me to distill the universe into one simple drop. It's simply impossible to choose.
Let's see, a few in no particular order that come to mind (all I can think of is the ones I am forgetting):
Henry David Thoreau, Jane Austen, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Anais Nin, Robin Williams, Georgia O'Keefe, Vivaldi, Audrey Hepburn, C.S. Lewis, Emily Dickinson, Coco Chanel, Soren Kierkegaard, Amelia Earhart (the art of flight and freedom), Sylvia Plath, Salman Rushdie, Beethoven, Susan Sontag, Hans Zimmer, Dostoyevski, Shakespeare, Saul Bellow, Vincent Van Gogh, Joan of Arc (the art of war), Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, Pablo Picasso, Leo Tolstoy, Schubert, Leonardo da Vinci, Henry James, Tim Ferris, Ernest Hemingway, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Jorge Luis Borges, Martin Luther King, Eduardo Galeano, Isabel Allende, Brigitte Bardot, Wassily Kandinsy, Anton Chekov, Schumann, Leonardo di Caprio, Che Guevara... (I need a drink).
You've said that you are "a journey, not a person". How do you decide on your next destination?
Signs! And work commitments. And creative needs. And curiosity. And intuition. And people. I am usually pointed to my next destination by either of these (or all of them combined) and then the strongest or most repetitive or necessary next step becomes apparent. Natural selection followed by Survival of the fittest, basically.
What is your vision for this world? If you could orchestrate a global symphony, what would be the key notes?
Hahah, I think this might be too great a question for a tiny human to answer, but let me simplify my utopia in one single wish:
That every single human becomes aware of their unique value and creative responsibility to re-design their lives according to their desire and following the dictates of their passion.
That every child is educated in a creative environment that nurtures their dreams and vision from the moment they are born. Children know exactly what they want. And if we just let them become it, we'd save them from the fate of being the Adults who have forgotten their true nature.
That we overcome the addiction to the things, people and habits that feed into the pain & dissatisfaction of not being ourselves, by re-creating & rewriting our Lives in the truest version of us.
I believe that creatively awakened individuals are our only hope to repair the damage that the unconscious ones are still causing to our world and our environment, and the route to true and lasting sustainability
The first and only person you have absolute power over is yourself and this creative renaissance must start inside, with a firm Yes to You.