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Authenticity

We are all well able to recognise authenticity. 

The authentic self plays a crucial role in nurturing the best state of mental health. I believe that with good mental health comes an acute awareness around what's going on in our bodies and in our minds and we can service the needs of both a lot better once the authentic self is fully conscious.

Authenticity : the quality of being real or true.

I am not a swimwear model and therefore if I try posing like a swimwear model on the edge of the pool overlooking the jungle from Chepung Se Bali I'll probably be disappointed with my efforts.

Having just spent some time north of Ubud in the jungle of Bali the images of women and men shifting from pose to pose in a pool I wanted so badly to relax in but each day became an Instagram studio are wired into my brain. The effort engaged to be something someone else liked made me feel miserable for the state of our collective mental health.

Going to Bali I made one promise to myself - I will only take good pictures of scenes or times I want to remember and I won't depend on my phone.

Arriving into an Instagram time zone when I should have been arriving into GMT +8 was mildly off-putting.

Self-expression is a fundamental human activity. The acceptance of one's self-expression should not be necessary for the activity to feel beneficial.

Of course in the professional sense one ballerina's self-expression over another's might be preferred and therefore she is chosen to be a part of the Royal Ballet over someone else. When we use our self-expression in artistic competition it's fair game. We're using our 'flare' to beat someone else and we've trained hard in our art to do so.

Within the schools of art, of poetry, of acting, of music, of sport you will always hear the teachers say "be more authentic". It's necessary to repeat as we all succumb to influence. Roger Federer thought he could be the world's best tennis player through mixing the best shots of all the world's best tennis champions before him. He admits it was only when he unleashed his own artistry that the game became his own. How beautiful for something to become your own! Millions of tennis players in the world playing the same game but no one playing yours! Imitation is only flattering to the authentic one.

I've played in orchestras, I've recited poetry in competition, I've played solo and group dramas on stage and it was all completely magical after weeks and months of hard work. Interpreting the work of Mozart, the monologues of Playwright Brian Friel, the words of Sylvia Plath was incredibly challenging yet exciting. Twisting my body into a shape for size 2 models with 5 foot legs fills me with the sweats! But when someone catches a moment in my face, in my profile when it's all lit up with just me and the sky that makes me feel real. You know when you were younger and you'd see yourself in the mirror and it would freak you out cuz you were so baffled you were even alive!? That you, this person with these feelings and these thoughts looked like that. And it was a super cool feeling? Cuz you just were. You were you.

I remember being in Berlin 12 years ago with my brother and sister after my Mum died on a mini life break and we went to this outdoor club one night. Now I can remember very little about that night but the one thing I will never forget is standing in the middle of the dance floor with a cold bottle of beer in my hand surrounded by loads of women wearing no make-up. It was as if 'no make-up' was the dress code such an overwhelming amount of women were there undressed if you will and I was awestruck! I couldn't stop staring at all the women around me, their authentic beauty completely on show. As a woman, it was probably one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Being surrounded by people who had their full self out was toxic. I never wanted the feeling to end. The force and energy coming from these women made me feel electric and ecstatically happy.

I gushed hard that night on my brother and sister and looking at them amongst the crowd I felt privileged to have been raised to be authentic. My Mum was hard on us. We had to practise Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi for hours every night. Every night of the week we were out doing something in music, art or drama. Upholding the greatness of the works we were performing or interpreting was hard. But as soon as I put my bow down, my brush down, I came out of being Joan of Arc, I could really see me! I felt me and I felt the weight of all the composers and writers I spent so much of my time with. That moment that I come out of being someone else is the moment I want you to see. The transition is so peaceful and easy, yet alive with a beaming face!

Studying, learning from others, observing, are all privileges we can choose to live with. These were the vehicles that made me me. What are your vehicles? Who are you and what do you like to eat?

I'm a bit of an introvert and really like pasta. Everything else remains an evolving process.