To create a space of welcome and community. To present a careful curation of products and wares that inspire a journey of wellness for mind, body and soul. To promote a lifestyle of giving to others, to ourselves and to our mother nature. To evoke intrigue, wonder, gratitude, courage, self-love and healing in connecting, or reconnecting, with our natural world and ourselves. To create a way to work meaningfully and sustainably so that my endeavours are not purely a means but an extension of myself and daily life. To practise what I love and believe, in the knowledge that what I am learning is good for my soul. To share this adventure with others.
As many of us are, I, for many years had been “living” life in survival mode. Challenges with depression, anxiety and trauma, and supporting my children in theirs, meant that I was wearing too many hats. I know that my experience is not unique, so in helping myself, I hope to help others.
For too long, burning the candle at both ends, all the while carrying buckets of water to put out fires for my beautiful children, and trying to meet the expectations of modern society, the pressure of what should and should not be, I developed toxic coping mechanisms and behaviours that lead to terrible physical and mental health. Operating in survival mode had stolen my ability to give all of myself to my children and to me. Years of abuse in relationships has taken years of education and repair; repair that continues.
I knew that this was not sustainable and that eventually I would burn out; and I did…
The more I studied and educated myself on my experiences and the more I understood the enormity of all that had happened, how and why, the more my authentic self and strength began to return. I became ready to take my power back, redesign my life and discover my better self again.
As an expert in nothing and a student in everything, I understand I still have a long way to go in my repair. As a human being, I make mistakes and there will always be days or moments of less than average. When I look at how far I have come, I am proud that I am still here. I am even more proud of my children, the true warriors and my absolute inspiration. I admire their courage and their truth; they are the bravest people I know.
For me, as for others, the bell jar became a metaphor for feeling contained, alone, helpless, afraid and trapped; but surviving. As I ambled through stages of my growing self-awareness into something resembling who I am or used to be, I felt the vacuum of the bell jar intensifying. It was as if I were running out of oxygen, as if I were working against the universe, for what is not meant for me. I had burnt out. The pain and stresses inside manifested physically into aches, migraines and more. I stared at my computer screen and could not instruct my brain to do what it had done for over a decade. I was shutting down and unable to “turn it off and on again”.
I felt I had no choice but to demolish the “diorama” of the “bell jar” I was in, and to construct a new one. I chose to make my bell jar not a trap, but instead a protector, a safe place to nourish growth. With great appreciation to my parents for their support, I felt safe in taking the leap to redesign my life, plant a seedling and protect it beautifully as the bell jar was intended to do - protect.
Again, I am not an expert in any field but a seeker and student in human life. In understanding that we all have our own individual DNA, life experiences, challenges and definitions of happiness, contentment and success, I wish only to share what has and continues to help me heal and implant reverie within my reality, all that inspires my daily gratitude and rituals that bring me peace and joy.
Whilst my bell jar may include cool, dark and misty forests, thunderstorms, woody perfumes, candles and snuggle blankets, yours may be coconut, lime, heat and sunshine; and so if you find a singular thing for your unique self or loved ones here, let it be inspiration or contentment.
Why choose the name ‘The Bell Jar’? After finding I was unable to use the name of an important poem that my father had shared with us as children, I thought I could create the family connection I was looking for by referencing my Kurnell Bell family heritage. They were pioneers who made do, lived frugally but generously shared what little they had, put family first and won the love and respect of everyone. It was a nice fit for my shop and gives extra significance to the inspiration I have drawn from the bell jar metaphor and the beauty of the glass cloche.
It is watering the garden, harvesting and cooking from the garden; for my family’s wellbeing, foraging for secondhand and preloved wares, the smell of an old book,
listening to the rain and being grateful for shelter, the smell of the rain meeting the ground, earth’s menagerie of perfumes and colours; flowers, incense, candles and oils,
solace in silence, beauty in bird song and my children’s laughter,
learning of my children’s favourite artists and interests, and what makes them laugh,
my father’s expression when he hears a favourite song,
my mothers’ different gardens and meals,
the melody, the rhythm, a powerful lyric, an emotional vocal,
the way a song can make my eyes close and head tilt, as I cannot help but sing along,
the way a song can sound exactly how I feel,
it’s seeing the artist’s brushstroke in a painting,
the way an author writes the words, a story, a poem or song.
It is nostalgia, a step centuries back in time; before office cubicles, traffic, mass production, phones ringing and devices beeping.
It is antique furniture and ancient architecture, landscapes, history, discovery, exploring, cultures, cuisines and traditional therapies.
It is family and traditions, game play, creation and imagination,
the open mind and willingness to learn,
learning to be present in the moment,
the understanding that there is good and there is bad, even within,
reflection and change, accountability and apology,
gentle but not weak, strong but fair and just,
a commitment to growth, trying again upon each failure,
forgiveness and love of self, integrity and leading the way for our young, even in our faults, taking our power back from the monsters and owning our happiness,
It is the rituals that aid me in continuing to learn, repair and grow.
It is an invitation.
Welcome to my Bell Jar…
"Deep within the dry flowers
You discarded along your path
On that dreary day
When all your stars
Fell from the sky and crashed
And your dark night followed you
Into a new unknown terrain
There within those dry flowers
Your every wish is immersed in slumber
Why did you abandon them?
Over a trivial thing like loss?
Like little heart break?
Look around sweet traveller
Acceptance from others
Is not a requirement
For nothing else matters
In this land of reveries..."
- Tithi Monal