Thursday 13 December 2018

Happy Holidays!

In the mountains at night,
No light shines bright,
For darkness is the absence of light. 
Suddenly, the door of the house opens wide,
A stream of light floods into the night,
Father stretches his arm out wide and says:
“Come back, my child, step into the light,
Let darkness slip out of your mind,
The stairs are here, the ladder is there,
Temples, pyramids and cathedrals,
All show the road towards the light. 
It is a light of the heart,
If allowed it penetrates the dark,
It is called love, kindness and giving,
It streams from the eyes of humans, nature and beasts,
It stays alive through waves of terror and human plight,
It feels good and makes you dream,
It sparkles in blue, pink, yellow and green
It is a light that darkness cannot diminish. 
But both darkness and light,
Are needed to deepen the experience of life.
Barbara Sala (c) 2018

Wednesday 19 September 2018

New Review concerning Insectual by Ruba Abu Ali of - September 2018
Chapter 17, Part II
What an attention-seizing title!” was my first thought when I laid my eyes on this book. What’s “Insectual?” What’s “The Secret of the Black Butterfly?” Not just yet! Everything unfolds near the end of the book, and suddenly it all makes sense.

Insectual, The Secret of the Black Butterfly by Barbara Sala captured me right from the start with Sala’s unique writing style. She uses the first-person narrative of Maya, the heroine, to describe her struggle with sex repulsion albeit having no problem falling in love. Maya mostly recounts events of the past using the present tense. She starts off by setting the grounds for the reader to know how she sees lovemaking. She also calls herself a sexual cripple. Why was she frigid? Why was she repulsed by sex?

Short of 300 pages, Maya’s journey spans three continents, starting from her childhood in Nazi Germany, to the civil war in the Ex-Belgian Congo, where she worked for the United Nations in the 60s and married her husband until she reached Montreal, Canada in 1974. She was an introvert suffering from sex anxiety and guilt, which she often referred to as the “devil”. Her husband, Lorenzo, a handsome Italian, was an extrovert who slept around. In her narration, Maya goes back and forth between her childhood in the Alps, her married life in the Congo, and the psychiatrist’s office in Montreal.

Over many years of psychotherapy, she undressed her mind and revealed her thoughts, fears, and feelings to her psychiatrist. She documented her memories and the details of her sessions in the numerous journals she kept to herself. Will she ultimately succeed in her quest for liberation from her sexual dysfunction? Will she be able to dig down into her childhood and get to the core of her problem? Will she be able to regain her self-autonomy?

The premise behind the book is alluring, for it combines fictionalized biography, psychological thriller, spiritual quest, and to a lesser extent historical fiction. I especially enjoyed the author’s writing style, which is rich in creative metaphors. Just look how she expresses herself when she’s terrified,” My thoughts are galloping like a horde of frightened elephants running in all directions.” Also during labor, she says,” Suddenly, I felt my womb open up like a lotus flower at dawn.” Moreover, in her depiction of nature and the scenery, she creates charming visual images and a realistic feel to her words, which makes you almost touch and smell the breeze of the Alps as you stretch your arm in the blowing wind!

The narration oscillates smoothly between different subjects, themes, times, and places. Largely symbolic, the drawings at the beginning of each chapter provide a glimpse into Maya’s train of thoughts. Barbara Sala, a renowned naïve painter herself, intertwines the black and white drawings with the words, to offer a deeper understanding of Maya’s feelings and her inner turmoil.

I related to Maya’s character and found her to be raw and real. You can’t but notice the striking honesty and the straightforwardness in the way she expresses herself. That being said, I was bewildered at times as to whether all her hardships emanated from the incidents of her childhood and from her husband, or were they partially due to her own “rumination”, as she calls it and her self-torture?

The only thing I thought had room for minute improvement was the dialogue, to stand up to the level of the rest of the text.

A particular highlight for me was the set of twists near the end of the book. They came as a revelation of the cause for her sex repulsion, the childhood memories that were blocked for so long, and the dire consequences of giving herself and her trust to someone who might have been unworthy.

Maya has been a sturdy warrior through it all. The difficult psychological journey she went through and the hurdles she overcame allowed her to explore herself and to unleash the potential that was for so long dormant within. The literary style of this book, the genuine and heartfelt content, and the professional editing oblige me to gladly rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I noticed a single typographical error and a few extra spaces between the words, which by no means detracted from the overall reading experience. 

I recommend Insectual, The Secret of the Black Butterfly to those interested in a gripping reading adventure woven in a colorful language. People intrigued by the process of psychoanalysis will be satisfied with the inside details of Maya’s psychotherapy sessions. It will also appeal to readers who enjoy autobiographies and those who find inspiration in overcoming difficulties and seeking the truth. Those interested in “naïve art” will find her drawings a pleasure to the eyes and mind. Just be aware, it's better to approach this book by a mature audience due to the presence of adult content and the warnings for abuse.

When Barbara Sala started writing her book, she was a mother of two teenagers; now she is a grandmother of five and carries on with her creative journey which started during psychotherapy. She puts her heart out in Maya’s words, “ I want my diary to represent the absolute truth, to record as closely as possible what was said, even if it is shameful, embarrassing, unspeakable.”

With these words, I consummate our session for today!

Chapter 5, Part III

Monday 23 April 2018

Exhibition 5 and 6th May 2018

Exhibition in Hudson, May 5 and May 6th, 2018 (see invitation for details.) Here are two of my paintings that I will bring to the show: "Eating Spaghetti and Fish", and "Blue Beach House", both 12 x 12 inches or 31 x 31 cm.  Looking forward to meeting you.

Saturday 3 February 2018

Doing the right thing

"Time heals all wounds"

Part 2, Chapter 16 (page 161)

Doing the right thing.

Psychological wounds do not heal with time.  Rather they fall into the depth of the person’s psyche and can become the foundation for other wounds to build upon. The person becomes unhappy, sick, depressed, etc.  Psycho-therapy can set this monster free, but conscious effort is needed.
Here the genie has escaped out of the bottle and has risen above the house.  It has broken its bandages that kept it in place for such a long time, the safety pin now dangles uselessly at the end of the bandage and one piece has completely broken off.  Time is collapsing, realizing that the healing of the wound had only been postponed.    
Before time can heal the wound, the patient has to understand its origins.  Once this is done, the wound deflates and can heal.  The patient in whose mind the wound had grown, will be a changed person, liberated by the unhappy unconscious pulsations that did run through his psyche all these years.


Thursday 21 December 2017

Monday 4 December 2017

The Box

"I see Father wash himself.”

Part 2, Chapter 9, page 142
“The Box” 

Here my heroin Maya is 13 years old. But she looks much older. To see her expression, makes me feel very, very sad. Maya watches her father’s nudity while in the morning he stands at the wash stand and washes himself. A bird is painted on the water jug. Birds are a phallic symbol in German.  

It is interesting to see what is happening on the floor: A pair of slippers neatly put away under the night table next to a teddy bear. On the carpet is lying an insect with 6 wings. The two arrows on the right and left side seem wanting to squeeze the insect into oblivion. However, the insect is not killed so easily. It is an archetype that has been existing in our minds for time immemorial. It is one of the creatures that has survived earth’s upheavals, like earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, droughts, etc. I see spider legs coming out from underneath her father’s pillow! The design of the bedspread is not inviting either. The whole image is creepy and unpleasant. 

In this context I am referring to an excerpt of one of my therapy poems “The tomb of the Black Butterfly.”

 “ ... never a father and daughter should ever come so near,
Ever share the same bedroom,
Breathe in the same sheets.
Receive the same messages in their dreams. “       

We can throw away the carpet, change the sheets, have separate beds and sleep in separate bedrooms. But to become conscious of sexual abuse that went on in this bedroom, understand it, digest it, heal it, takes a whole lifetime. It is a challenge to extract from this situation wisdom, forgiveness and eventually love.


Monday 2 October 2017

The Chalet

"On Saturdays we took our bath."

Part 2, Chapter 5 of Insectual

The Chalet (page 130)

This is a sketch that I love.  Mother has reunited her three children in the aluminium wash tub. This is her expression of duty and love.  She could not embrace her children and give all three of them a hug or have them cuddle up on her, at the same time.  In my German childhood these feelings were not expressed.  But mother was orderly and tidy and everything functioned according to the clock.  The clothes are thrown on one chair; this was much against her discipline.  We had to fold our clothes in the evening.  The tub is overflowing with water.  In this chalet there was no running water and the water then was thrown out  the window.  I am showing you the original Bavarian chalet where I grew up:

Saturday 26 August 2017

New 5 star review on

"Journey on a Lilipad, (c) 1990"

 5 star review This is a powerful book...I absolutely enjoyed every chapter :-), July 29, 2017

INSECTUAL: The Secret of the Black Butterfly (Kindle Edition)
This is a powerful book. It recounts the journey of young girl....all the way through to her adult life. The problems she is now facing in her present marriage and how these troubles are rooted deep in her past. Through the advice of her husband Lorenzo she is now seeing a therapist and their sessions are nothing short of fascinating. The ways in which the therapist uncovers the truth....her confessions...her falling in love with the therapist and her learning to let go and find a new beginning are all truly inspiring. Not to be forgotten is her unusual obsession with insects and the pleasure she feels while in their presence...more pleasure than being around her husband. This story also shows the danger of physical and emotional abuse and how it can affect ones thinking ability and subsequently their future dealings with others. I absolutely enjoyed every chapter :-) was most intriguing.

Thursday 10 August 2017


"Bombs hiss and whistle"  
 Part 2, Chapter 4 of Insectual,

War (page 128)

Bombs are flying through the air not yet exploded.  But previous bombs had already created great damage.  The family of six is assembled in front of a cave, although my intention was to put them into the cave. The detonations of the bombs, the fear of the planes, the displacement of people and the fear to be hurt, and to die, takes place and remains traced in our memory, even when all this happens when we are very small children. In the picture, Maya distances herself from her family and runs away with a doll and teddy bear in her arm.
I am a child of war and I thought that war had not touched me, but as the book explains it had. I did ran away, damaged, my imagination buried  -  the doll and the teddy bear -  but finally retrievable through psycho therapy (in my case).
In the beginning of my painting career my colours were very dark. I wanted to paint hate and anger and fear. Then during many years of therapy I erased the darkness in me, I gave myself finally permission to use bright colours . 
Still Life with Chakras (c) B. Sala 1985

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Garden Path

"Do I lead you up the Garden Path?"

Part 2, Chapter 3 of Insectual

Do I lead you up the Garden Path (page 126)

The doctor is carrying many books. The titles are not visible, but might read like “Personal History”, “History of the Ancestors”, “The Relationship Trap”, “Buried Talents” and “Awakening in the 21st Century”.
The hill is steep.  She is picking up the books that the doctor drops to the ground.  The job is arduous, but she is the collector of information.  The more she advances in therapy, the more inner knowledge she is gaining.  In therapy, the mind is an archaeological site and if she persists she might find buried surprises: Pleasurable ones? Not so pleasurable ones?? She cannot allow herself to be afraid.  Beauty, represented by the flowers, is surrounding her.


Wednesday 19 April 2017

Walk to school

"Walk to school is long and tiring."
Part 2, Chapter 2 of Insectual
March to School, (page 123)
“Blah”, I thought, “skip it. There is nothing to say about this image.” But my mind did not agree. And off I went on a spiralling journey. What does this path remind me off? A ribbon, a river, intestines, a snake, a thread, an umbilical cord, a link between heaven and earth. The end of a note. I felt music stretch like this path through my nightly home.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

Being a Doll

"He has become redundant"
Part 2, chapter 1 of Insectual
Being a Doll 
He lost his home, but an impression is left, see the empty space where his home was standing. She grabbed the home, put it into her lap, as if it was one of her babies. The house was hers now.

Monday 30 January 2017

''Perhaps I can distract him.''

Part 1, chapter 26 of Insectual

                               Night of Delirium, page 110

He carries a machete. She open her arms wide. She is wearing a kimono. Does she invite him to have sex in order to save her life? We have to imagine what might happen. She transforms herself into a butterfly and now the path away from harm is wide open.  

“Life is like a butterfly. It flies away and makes me cry.”
This is the last chapter of Part 1, “Marriage in Congo.” In future I will add more colourful images. 

Towards a better world.








Wednesday 4 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Mandala in the forest, 16 x 20" (41 x 51 cm) (c) Barbara Sala
Horse, rabbits, cat and lion
At the feet of Mother Earth.
Hermit at the riverbank
Shedding light on crystal ball
Dangling from an angel's hand.
Boat of fishermen,
Damaged by a fallen tree,
Now is carried by loving dolphin
Over the water.
Filled with flowers is this forest:
Happy days with health and kindness
Are the wishes for this year.  (B. Sala)