For Michele Bestbier, turning 50 signaled a time for reflection. She sold her business and embarked on a transformative sabbatical that paved the way to a new career.
Michele’s background in fine art gave her an interesting lens through which to view her sabbatical.
“I was about to turn 50 and decided to take a sabbatical to explore my place on earth as an elder. I knew that I wanted to be involved in an Earth project and apply my knowledge of art. In my previous career, I was a contemporary fine art consultant and gallerist motivating platforms for new and upcoming artists to exhibit alongside leading and well-known South African artists. I sold my gallery and set off travelling for a year,” she explains.
During her sabbatical, she travelled often and swam with dolphins. It sounds idyllic. But it was the time spent in water that spoke to her. “I swam extensively with dolphins in Hawaii and the Caribbean and went filming the whales of Tonga. I spent a lot of time in water and it began to communicate with me in a profound way I did not expect. I began to feel a deep bond, responsibility and appreciation for water… and an acute appreciation for its truly magical and mysterious ways. It is also exquisite to film and photograph, so I was captivated on all fronts.”
Recovering Your Greater Self
Michele says that her sabbatical gave her so much more than she expected, and it opened up her life in a most extraordinary way.
“Sabbaticals at 50 should be law! What a privilege. It gave me space and time to recalibrate. To renew, refresh, recharge, review and reset. In order to step into a purposeful and hopefully useful elderdom,” she reflects.
She has, over the 12 years since, developed workshops that “revitalise your life by tapping into your creative spirit”. Michele explains that with her workshops, called The Way of Water, participants can reconnect with nature by exploring their creativity. “It is designed for both artists and people who left their creative aspirations in the distant past. The Way of Water is an intensive guided encounter to recover your greater (meta) self by exploring 12 different art media over 12 weeks.”
Participants can expect anything from sketching, expression of the line, water colour painting, collage, mixed media, creating your own medium, and even ceramics, sculpting, photography, poetry and movement. The workshops can be done online or as a retreat over several days.
Seeking The ‘Super Intelligence Life’
“Each day a concept relating to the ‘Super Intelligence Life’ is proposed. I then direct creative interpretation of the insight. Often an excursion into nature is also required, so that direct experience of the imagining may be realised. This weave of connecting to nature with our creative spirit offers powerful time and space to step beyond our everyday patterning and recover our unique and fundamental expression of being.”
And while she studied art and offers information on various art techniques and media, this isn’t an art class. “We approach every artwork from a viewpoint that recovers our own unique nature through exploration. We are not mastering mediums. We journey through them. Finding hidden parts of ourselves through them. Art is a sublime form of meditation that takes us beyond time and space to access our greater selves,” Michele concludes.
Author: Leanne Feris