Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is.
– Gary Zukav
When I asked Cyndi Roberts if she was a religious or spiritual person, she replied, “I consider myself a spiritual being having a human experience”. It’s no wonder then she lists in her “all about me” section ‘love’ as her religion.
For some, exclaiming love as your religion would be pretentious, in Cyndi’s case it is no doubt as sincere as her intentions. To see her warm smile and calming nature captured on film and expressed through her words and art is to know this is a person who understands healing.
In a world filled with heaps of anonymous hate and words of dismay served up with public displays of intolerance and ignorance; to cross paths with a person such as Cyndi is a blessing. She has proven herself to be an advocate of not only self-healing, but of world healing.
I have never met Cyndi or her husband Tim Roberts of web design company Crucial Networking in person. Cyndi, Tim and I share mutual friends and after years, recently ended up connecting via cyber space. I have had brief online chats with Tim in the past, a self-confessed “music snob”.
Recently he posted an announcement that he had launched a website for his “amazing and multi-talented wife” called My Zen Art. I checked out the website and then joined the Facebook page to better understand what it was his “amazing and multi-talented” wife was cooking up.
I soon discovered Cyn not only designed and sewed yoga bags, tapestries, but painted as well. In fact she is a multi-mixed-media whirlwind spreading positivity in every direction in which she creates. Including her daily postings of quotes and lifestyle, nutritional information. My Zen Art is not only about individualized merchandise and art pieces, it’s about healing the mind, body and spirit.
“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and to let it come in.” ~Morrie Schwartz
I believe Cyndi has mastered the task and if we allow her, she’ll show us the way. She possesses that rare quality of being willing to reach out to another human being and connecting while comforting.
I am very pleased to introduce you to the founder of My Zen Art, a member of La Diva Artist Movement and a woman whose words, personal strength and conviction has aided me in my health struggles. It’s as if I have Yoda on speed dial.
Someone You Should Know…Cyndi Roberts
Marital Status: married
Location: Plainville, CT
Education: high school grad, 4 years completed at University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Hometown: Plainville, CT
Your profession: I have always been an artist at heart.
Quick Questions (answered) in 5 Seconds:
What is your favorite book?
Echkart Tolle, “The Power of Now”
Is there anything you wouldn’t try or do in life?
What is your biggest fear?
List 5 Random Facts or Habits about yourself that would be classified as weird, strange, or different.
The root of my depression was thinking I was weird, strange or different. Now I feel the little quirks I have make me unique and very common at the same time; these things make me who I am.
1. I have a very powerful sense of smell
2. I have a strange way of solving math problems.
3. I have a very strong connection to birds, nature and the universe.
4. The often chaotic nature of most jazz music seems to make me anxious.
5. I am very meticulous and love-making lists and checking things off.
What is your life’s philosophy?
We all have the power to change our thinking to heal ourselves and each other.
Is there a moment in your life that stands out in your mind as life changing?
The moment I was told by my doctor that diabetes and liver failure were inevitable if something did not change.
Because it’s important to not take one too seriously, what is the most bonehead thing you have done in life?
Every decision and every choice I have made has led me to this point, which is exactly where I need to be. I don’t want to judge my experiences as good or bad, because they have all been a part of the greater good, which is my destiny.
What would you say is your life’s greatest achievement?
Nurturing my mind and body back to health.
What were your childhood dreams and have you achieved them?
As a child, I knew very deeply that I wanted to create art and I wanted to teach. I’d spend hours teaching lessons and giving quizzes to my stuffed animals in my parents’ basement. I hope to one day teach yoga and art.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life and why?
Definitely my husband. He is a remarkable man. He has taught me many things, but most important how to accept, love and support a person unconditionally, and that laughter truly is the best medicine.
What were the determining factors in founding My Zen Art?
Getting off synthetic medication reawakened my creativity. I am able to use art as a healing process and want to share inspiration, my talent and abilities with others.
What do you hope to carry out through My Zen Art?
I’d like to sell enough art to pay for yoga teacher training and share my story to inspire others so they know there is hope.
How many years have you been practicing Yoga?
I have practiced yoga for about a year and a half.
What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
Full acceptance of one another and a sense of humor. We try to see who can make the other laugh harder.
How did your interest in art develop?
I was always creative, in every aspect of my life. Art was in everything for me and inspiration was everywhere. It came naturally to me and I expressed it through my school work, photography, painting, sculpting, graphic design, sewing, singing and acting. The process of getting off medication was a very uncertain and painful process and expression through art felt right and natural; it was a huge comfort.
How do you keep up a positive attitude in the face of adversity?
The adversity I have faced has forced me to find my true self. My life has been full of challenges and negativity, yet I see clearly now that none of that stuff matters. The truth is that I matter. I have this one chance, this one experience of life, this one body, this one mind. It is up to me. I can choose to be happy or choose to be sad and it is completely out of my control what others think and what experiences may happen to me, but I know I don’t want to experience a life full of toxic, negative energy.
When did you take up design and sewing?
I have always been interested in sewing and felt as though I was meant to do it. As a child, I would sit and marvel at the way my aunt would sew. My grandmother used to sew for a coat factory, when she first arrived in America from Italy. I fondly remember little random sewing projects over the years. It wasn’t until a year ago, when I was in the midst of getting off medication, that I started sewing seriously. I had the idea and was given an opportunity to create my first tapestry by the owner of the Vital Life Center, a local yoga studio.
You and your husband are avid music lovers, which live performances do you list in the top 5 of your all-time favorites?
I have seen literally hundreds of shows and this was a very difficult question for me! I cherish live music, because it keeps me present. It’s such a profound art form for me.
Brandi Carlile – Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT – September 2010.
All six times I have seen her become my favorite show at the time. She is my favorite artist and is a tremendous inspiration to me. This show in particular had a great story to go with it. The band was so in love with the venue that they decided to do an impromptu acoustic set, disregard their set list, and take requests from the audience. I had a song in mind but was trying to find the courage to shout it out for much of the show. Finally, at a quiet point in between songs I decided that it was time. I shouted out “Follow,” which is one of my favorite songs. Inexplicably, the complete stranger sitting next to me (out of the 300 people in the venue) also chose this very moment to shout out the same song title! Brandi stopped in her tracks and turned to look at us. She made a joke about how we didn’t have the courage to shout it out, so we decided to team up. I responded and said “that wasn’t planned – we don’t even know each other!” She gasped, grabbed her chest, and took a step back, and said she was really freaked out. Unfortunately she didn’t have time to play “Follow,” but later that night I met her, and she remembered me as “The Follow girl,” and promised to play the song the next time I was at a show.
The Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies – The Wetlands, NYC – September 8, 2001.
This show took place just days before the travesty of 9/11, and just a few blocks up the street. It was also one of the last shows at the Wetlands, which was one of the best and worst places ever to see a show. I have seen this band dozens of times, including my first date with my husband. Each show left me speechless (and temporarily deaf). On this night, they hit the stage at 12:30am, and played until 4:30am. It is very difficult for me to find words to express the experience of seeing Mike Farris, the lead singer, onstage. After stomping, sweating, and baring his soul onstage for hours, Mike would always finish every show with an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.” To this day, I have never heard anything like it. It seemed as though time had vanished when I was at one of their shows. They were a celebration of life and music, and there wasn’t a song I couldn’t sing along to or dance with. This band was what live music was all about: when you go to a show and get so caught up in the experience and the intensity of it that all of your troubles melt away and you become fully present in that moment in time. His voice is unlike anyone I have ever heard. It is so pure and captivating whether he’s quietly carrying a melody or rocking out a scream. He could sing the dictionary and move me. Over the years, Mike has also become a good friend.
Metallica – Hartford Civic Center, 1996.
Over 16,000 people and I was in the front row. The show was loud and awesome and they were literally 10 feet away from me; so close that I felt as though I was getting incinerated by the pyrotechnics on stage. They also had a staged portion of the show where the lighting rig fell apart and a roadie came crashing down with it. It was falling toward me (I didn’t know it was a stunt at the time) and all I was thinking was “my parents are going to kill me when they find out I died at a Metallica concert.”
The Gracious Few – Pearl Street Clubroom, Northampton, MA – November 5, 2010.
They are an incredibly talented, high-energy group of artists. They, like all musicians, make incredible sacrifices to play live music almost every night for their fans. You can’t be in front of this band and not be moved by their music, and the passion they have for what they’re doing, it seems to me that they try very hard to make sure everyone there is having the rock experience of a lifetime. They have amazing chemistry and they’re making music for the right reasons. I had trouble hearing for two days after the show, and it was totally worth it.
Ben Harper – Smith College – February 3, 2000.
Ben Harper shows always amazed me. His music taught me how there is beauty in simplicity, that sometimes the space between the notes says as much as the notes themselves. At a Ben Harper show, it didn’t matter where you came from, what your beliefs were, how much money you had, or where you were going, all that mattered was that moment and the unity that was possible among a group of complete strangers.
I saw this show shortly after my grandmother died, and when he performed “I Shall Not Walk Alone” solo acoustic, I truly felt my grandmother’s presence and understood that she would always be with me, I took great comfort in that. My husband and I waited out in a snowstorm after the show hoping to meet the band, and they ultimately had venue staff bring us inside to warm up. The great thing about meeting Ben Harper was that I always felt as though I had his undivided attention for the brief moments I was talking to him. I was able to tell him this story about my grandmother and thank him for playing the song. He paused, stared rather intensely at me for a few seconds, and then offered a sincere and heartfelt “thank you,” and then gave me a big hug.
Obesity in the United States is a major health concern. In what ways does Yoga combat poor nutrition and other health issues?
I believe yoga can be beneficial to every human being on this Earth. You can use it however you need. Whether you have arthritis or other disabilities, or want a very strong power practice, or just need some gentle stretching. It immediately brings you into your body, aware of your breath, and how movement of the body is connected to feeling in the body. When you are fully in your body and feeling the movement, the mind does not take over any more. This is helpful because most of the suffering we experience is from our own judgmental and critical, negative thoughts. When you are fully in your body, noticing how things feel and move, you will get to a point (any physical activity – it doesn’t have to be yoga) where you care what you put in to your body, because it directly affects the way you feel. There are so many things we do as a human race to suppress feelings and emotions. Yoga will help shed those old habits if you are determined and ready to let go. Getting out of my mind by practicing yoga and other exercises helped me develop a healthy lifestyle and lose weight. Yoga has also helped me tremendously with not wanting to ever smoke again, because it is a practice based on your breath. I would rather take a power yoga class than get drunk or do drugs, because it takes me to that same place of quieting my mind, and it’s actually a way to honor my body, rather than destroy it.
What activities do you take part in outside of art, music and Yoga to recharge your batteries so to speak?
I spend as much time as I can outside, walking with my dog, hiking or sitting. I love baking and inventing new recipes.
What is the one trait you value most in your friends?
Full acceptance to be true to who you are; that’s a rare quality.
Finish this sentence.
On a warm sunny day you’ll find me.…outside enjoying the miracles of nature, with my husband and my camera.
On a cold blustery day you’ll find me….inside, baking and creating something, playing loud music with a ton of lit candles with the company of my husband and dog.
If by magic we could transport you within seconds to any place in the world where would that place be?
Hiking in Muir Woods in Sausalito, California with my husband and my camera.