June 21, 2021

Episode #22 - Heal Colourful - with Sophia Christou

Hannah meets artist Sophia Christou who creates vibrant colourful abstract paintings which have a unique energy. Her art is bold. Her art reflects her personality, now. Even as a child Sophia knew she was an artist without even picking up a crayon, yet she lost her zest for creativity during her turbulent childhood and then the death of her brother, Zubi. She held in her grief, supporting the rest of her family for over 20 years. Yet her brother had other ideas and, in a moment of space, prompted Sophia to set off on a healing and transformation journey which she shares to help others who also want to rise into joy and vibrancy.

Sophia mentioned 'The Four Agreements': see the website: https://www.thefouragreements.com



Hannah Velten  01:32

Hello, welcome. Do come in as usual, come in around the fire. We had actually Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere last night, and I was around a fire with Niki, who was on the show a few episodes ago and it was so beautiful. So I hope everybody, during the week, has been and is feeling the sun energy and really feeling, like, powerful. There's some powerful energy around at the moment. And I'm not going to talk too much. I've been told not to talk too much, because I have an amazing guest to welcome onto the show. So I met Sophia Christou - we haven't actually met in person at all; we met online about, I guess, maybe a year ago, it was maybe more than that. And we immediately had this connection. It's not a connection that you particularly want to have with somebody, but we both had brothers in spirit. [Hannah laughs] And so we sort of had a few conversations around our losses and what we gained from now having a brother in spirit. And I asked Sophia if she might like to come on the podcast back in January, when we started the shows, and she was a little bit hesitant. So I think it's come to the point now - something happened recently where we were kind of jogged to get in touch with each other about coming on the show again - and thankfully she said yes this time. So I just want you to to meet Sophia. So hi, Sophia, thank you so much for coming on the show. So lovely to have you. 


Sophia Christou  03:08

You're very welcome. Thank you for having me. Han, we're finally doing it. And hello everybody.


Hannah Velten  03:16

I feel like... I actually put on (I don't know if you can see my necklace), I actually put on a bit of colour today because I thought 'oh', as you can see Sophia is an artist and uses such vibrant colours. And she's so joyful and just lights up the screen, wherever she is. 


Sophia Christou  03:38

Colour - I noticed it, it suits you. You should do it, love. 


Hannah Velten  03:43

Oh, thank you. Well, I will. I will. {Hannah laughs}. So where do you want to start? Because this is just going to be sort of a chat between friends. So do you just want to tell us a bit about your brother maybe... or what about your love of colour, your sort of artistry and where you are with that at the moment?


Sophia Christou  04:03

So that's really really interesting because I'm 42 now... I've always loved colour, and it's always been a big part of my life. I've always been quite confident with it and quite bold with it. It's only now I realise that it's got so much of its own properties... you know, colour can help balance out the energy in a room or, you know, of you (as well) when you wear certain items... it's probably the reason why we feel so good after we've been for a walk in nature, because of all the green which promotes well-being, rejuvenation, love. So it's only now that I'm finding out the answers, but I've always been drawn to colour. When I was a child, I remember I didn't even possess a box of crayons, but whenever an elder (an adult) would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, 'Artist' would just drop out of my mouth automatically. I didn't even know where it came from myself, but that's what I wanted to do. And I think, as time went on, and people started frowning a little bit - their faces would scrunch up - I started thinking, "Hmm, that's not a good answer. I need to make up one, so I'll use one of their suggestions." And they'd often say, "What about doctor or lawyer?" So I remember doing it, I must have been about six years old, and they'd be like, "So what do you want to be when you grow up, Sophia?", and I go, "Artist... and a lawyer". And they go, "Oh, lawyer - great, great, great." And this went on for a while, and eventually 'Artist' got quieter and quieter, because I realised it didn't get very good feedback. So I dropped that, started saying 'Lawyer' - I couldn't have done that either. That wasn't true to who I was. But I did join the police, where I stayed for 14 years. And that's probably a whole other story. But um, it seems over the last (what, I'm 42 now) maybe the last three years, I picked up a paintbrush thinking, well, it can't be so hard to find something that I like - it was for a room I was doing, and I couldn't find anything in the shops - and as soon as I picked up the brush, and put that colour on the canvas, it was like, magical... it was like, 'Oh, God', and all the memories from my youth came flooding back to me that actually, you know, I'm a self-confessed colour junkie. This is who I am. So, you know, I guess I've just got to keep on going with it. So yeah, I don't do as much art as I'd like, but I also do vibrant digital prints and colour in the home, balancing spaces and interiors and harmonising the area. And then that filters through to the people that inhabit that space as well. So it's a win win, really. I get lots of joy from creating it, and the people that reside there, feel the uplifting energy of the colours and the balance, too. So yeah.


Hannah Velten  07:23

Yeah, I was just gonna say there's something unseen going on, isn't there, when you're working? I know... I'm just being told, like it's a lot bigger than putting colour onto a canvas. There's energetic things that are going on; magic is happening. And it's obviously your gift that needed to come back into your life. So we should talk about your childhood, because I guess, as so often happens in childhood, we are adapting to our situation and what is going on around us. And if we're getting frowns about things we're saying, all these gifts get squashed so young. But can you tell me a bit about your family and your family background?


Sophia Christou  08:17

Yeah, sure. So I was born in Manchester, stayed there till I was three, had my older brother - Zubi - who was four years old when I was born. We lived in Manchester with Mum and Dad 'till I was three, then we moved to Wales. {You'll have to excuse me, my candle's gone out and it's smoking everywhere. I'm gonna start coughing in a minute; if I do, that's why] And we came over to Barry, South Wales, and I've been here all my life. Mum's a quiet, gentle soul. And she came over from Afghanistan with my dad when they were in their 20s; they married and then came here. Life wasn't that easy for her. And, you know, there was some domestic violence in the home. And it wasn't always a happy place. So I guess I was looking for things to uplift myself with and who knows, maybe that's where the colour was born, who knows. I think my brother took quite the brunt of it, because he was older, and the automatic assumption from me, looking back now (suddenly now I can look back and start joining all the dots; I couldn't at the time), was that I had him as my protector. So he made me feel safe in an environment that sometimes didn't. You know my mum spent a lot of time in fear and she did an amazing job with three of us. My sister later came, seven years after me. She's awesome. So she did what she could, but I guess was often in survival mode, so we just made the best of it, you know, and through that we became quite close, but also quite mature with a fair bit of responsibility on our shoulders, I guess, to keep each other safe, to look out for Mum, to see what mood, you know, Dad was in when he came home, and things like that. And they're just life circumstances. It happens like that, sometimes, you know. We weren't on our own in that situation, but it does... I don't want to say 'mold' because I think everyone can change. Everyone can shed layers. We're like an onion, aren't we - we can just shed that shit. Excuse my French, but that's what I call it, 'Shedding the shit' (when we know how, obviously). But, yeah, it wasn't easy. So, you know, we had each other's backs. 


Sophia Christou  11:11

He went through some stuff growing up. I wish I could speak to him about that again. And maybe one day I will, and just get to try to understand that a little bit more. But he went through a phase when he was around 16, where I remember he went to Glastonbury and he was probably doing all sorts, whilst he was there. And maybe that was his way of escaping. He came back from Glastonbury, and he wasn't quite the same person that went. So I don't know whether he maybe had an awakening or too much LSD, or I'm not quite sure, you know, what it was. But after that, he got diagnosed with schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia. He was hearing voices. He was feeling quite down. He was hallucinating (not all the time and I'm not sure what triggered it), but every now and then, you know, it'd be like he's drinking a cup of tea, but there was no tea, having conversations with people that weren't there. So he spent quite a lot of time - sometimes as a visitor, and sometimes as an in-patient - at our (it's no longer here) but our local (I'm not sure what they call them then), but, I guess, mental health hospital... he was a visitor there. Sometimes we'd think, oh, he's getting better and he's doing good. And I'd have loads of regular conversation with him. He's always very caring and asking me what I'm up to and who I'm hanging around with, who my friends are and, you know, he's always giving me little nuggets of advice. You know, they were on his good days. But on his days that weren't great, it was like he wasn't in the room. He wasn't in the room. And that's when we would get health services involved, because that's what you're told to do, aren't you. You go to the GP; you know, go to the medics - they know best. They do - they know a lot - but obviously, in 2021 now, we know... there are different ways of approaching health and mental health. There's guidance for different situations, not necessarily conditions, but this was going back some time. So I'm 42 - he'd be 46 now and he was 20 at the time - so some 26 years ago. 


Sophia Christou  13:53

He was last seen meditating before he went missing whilst he was at hospital. And that was when he was 20. And his belongings, his clothes, were found really tidy by the shore - on the grass, actually, before you get to the beach - and he was then found a couple of days later, on the beach, and obviously he'd passed, where he'd been in the water. I knew that he wasn't going to come back, in the physical, because I'd had a premonition 12 hours before. Whilst I was sleeping - four o'clock in the morning on the Monday - that all of a sudden, through my dreaming or through my sleepy state, I saw him very peaceful, in his shorts, face up, laying on the beach with the sun shining down on his face. So I knew at that moment - that may have even been the time that he passed. Who knows. But I knew that we wouldn't be having the news that my mum was obviously searching for, and hoping, and praying for. The following day, at four o'clock, an officer who we knew (actually he was my friend's dad at the time) knocked on the door and then gave us the news that he'd been found on the beach. I knew when the door knocked that I had to brace myself, because it was really weird, but I knew what was coming. And it was that moment that I went into... I think I went into full-on protector mode. So I made a decision that day that I needed to now step up and be the protector for everyone. I portrayed my brother as the responsible one, the protector, I was like, Damn, I need to get into this role now, don't I. It's on me. It's all on me. And that's the story I told myself at 16. And that's then what I went straight into. I think I definitely shed some tears at the funeral and a few other times, but not near as many [Sophia laughs] as I should have, because I stuffed it down, because I was too busy looking after everyone else. And because that's the role, I guess, I applied to myself.


Hannah Velten  16:42

Did anybody offer you any help at all?


Sophia Christou  16:51

Friends were there for me. But in relation to... No. I think what we got... it was quite sad, really. And I think this might have been where I lost a little bit of faith in people as well, and authorities. When the nurse came around to visit my mum a few days after, and I think I may have gotten really brave and asked her... because they'd asked him to stay in. He wanted to come home. And they said no. And my mum asked why. And they said because we want to keep a really close eye on him at the moment. So he disappeared, they said... when they swapped over shifts. So he kind of went around that time. And so, yeah, he slipped their eyes, maybe people were busy. But they definitely weren't - it doesn't matter now, we know what was meant to happen happens - but there was no close eye being kept, I guess, at the time. And one of the nurses came around and I asked her why couldn't he come home. Obviously when something so sudden happens and you're so grief stricken, immediately you look externally for all the answers and who you can blame and who was responsible. "And he would still be here now if... if they kept an eye on him, if they did what they said they were going to do." It's only when you mature and start opening and looking at life that you know that... well, this is the experience for me; obviously, this is all my experience. I'm not speaking for everyone... but everything happens for a reason. And I guess it's our duty to go and look for that {both laugh] and find out what that is, you know. It's not our fault that these things have happened, but it is absolutely up to us to find our own peace, you know, and find our own way, I guess. So. Yeah... going back to the nurse. Unfortunately, I think I asked her, you know, 'You wouldn't let him home, because you wanted to pay close attention to him, so we trusted you and he's not here now because no one was paying, you know, close attention to him." And her words were, "Well, you know what, he could have come home and got hit by a bus crossing the road"... So, yeah, I think at that moment, I got up and left the conversation because I couldn't stick around for it. I was a very angry 16 year old at this point. But I think that might have been another addition as to why I felt, well I need to do this myself then. I need to be responsible, because nobody else is. [Sophia laughs]


Hannah Velten  20:01

And how did you feel towards your brother at that point? 


Sophia Christou  20:08

Oh, I haven't really thought about that, Han. Hmmm... I'm not sure, to be honest with you. Not sure. It all just felt... I just remember it all feeling very wrong. Very wrong. I felt like he'd been wronged. We'd been wronged. We'd been... {Hannah shudders] Are you okay?


Hannah Velten  20:38

Yeah, no, I just got a big chill there.


Sophia Christou  20:42

You know, we've been robbed. I'd been robbed of my older brother. And, um, I guess, I felt like whatever was left of my childhood, even though it hadn't been amazing, was now gone. Everything was dissolved, and it was time to, yeah, step into adulthood. So I've definitely lost a big part of me around there. But, like I said to you, I just stuffed it down, literally, till I was 40. [Sophia laughs] And then it came up and bit me in the ass!


Hannah Velten  21:24

What did you kind of do between the time where you sort of stuffed it all down? What kind of life choices did you make - were they good life choices? [both laugh]


Sophia Christou  21:37

Life choices? Hmm, around about 16 to 17 and a half, I was a bit of a rebel. And I stopped believing in - my faith went. Whatever faith I had, whatever I held in my heart, it kind of went and I got angry... I don't remember going around fighting, or causing issues. I don't know, my friends from those days might say otherwise, but I definitely had a lot of pent up anger, feeling very wronged, justice hadn't been served. And I guess that would have come out in different ways, you know. I kind of flunked school, couldn't be bothered; went to college, and did a few odd jobs. And then something happened around the time when I was about 18. So it was about 18 to 20 months off the rails, and not making great choices, actually, but we won't delve into them right now [both laugh]. But, yeah, I knew that there was more to life, and my boyfriend at the time - now husband of 18 years, bless him - supported me all the way and I joined the police. I needed a challenge. I knew there was more to me. So I joined the police force. And I guess that kind of ticked two of the boxes. That was kind of like the lawyer that I told everyone I was going to be; so that's kind of that done. And also I can protect. I can protect others, I can protect. I'm a protector, and I was really, really good at that. So I carried that on for about 14 years.


Hannah Velten  23:29

... Were you happy in the police?


Sophia Christou  23:34

Yeah, for the majority of the time. It's where I needed to be. It's where I wanted to be... I think I felt really lucky to be there, because... around the time when I dropped telling everyone that I wanted to be an artist and kept it quiet, I also decided that 'I've got no good ideas; people like me don't have good ideas'. I don't know where I picked that up, and I carried that with me. So I almost felt blessed that I got in, even though I did all the hard work and I deserved it, it was a real massive accomplishment for me, because I never thought I could. I didn't have much self belief. So I needed to be in the police force for the whole time that I was there. The last couple of years - the last year in particular / 18 months - wasn't great, and I made my decision then to leave. But, you know, everything had to happen exactly the way it happened to get me to the point that I am now. I learnt so many skills. I had so many heartwarming experiences, and I met so many kick-ass people as well. But I also saw a different side amongst people. And I also got a very strong message - these premonitions pop up quite often, come to think about it - so I had a dream/premonition/message/downloads one night, where I wasn't in a great place mentally. I felt it was like a breakup, it was like a difficult breakup leaving the force; that's what it felt like to me. And I had had a dream, featuring a few of my colleagues at the time, and I'd woken up crying. And I had my finger by my boob; woke at four o'clock in the morning, my finger by my boob. Not something I do regularly, but what I felt there was a lump. What I felt there was a lump, and I was like, 'oh, oh, hang on a minute, what's this?' So I spoke to my husband in the morning - we had our two boys then - so I said, 'Let's not say anything, because I'm sure this is fine.' We paid privately (we're blessed to be in a position to do that) and within 48 hours, I went to the private clinic, and I was chucked out. And it was just breast tissue. And I was really lucky. My mum suffered through breast cancer, so the alarm bells were ringing, you know, when I found the lump, but it wasn't. And I took that, at that moment, as a very, very strong message - considering what I was seeing in my sleep before I found the lump - I connected the dots and it was quite clear to me that if I was to stay in the position that I was in, I was going to become severely ill. So I left. I got a tattoo: 'Live life without regret. Time is precious', because you're not allowed to have new tattoos where I was, and that kind of sealed the deal for me that it was time to go. So that's what I did.


Hannah Velten  27:11

So you took all your guidance and all your intuition - you were listening to it all along... And just a point about meeting your husband quite early on... I had the same with my husband... you lose a brother, but you're then given the life partner, I guess... sort of in return. [Hannah laughs} I don't know if you've thought about it before, but that's what happened with myself.


Sophia Christou  27:43

That's interesting, isn't it? Yeah, it was quite soon after, I guess. I don't know. Maybe I was looking for someone to look after me, because he certainly does. And that's who I attracted in, you know; he's very loving, very caring, puts us all first before himself, which he usually gets a row about from me, because I'm trying to convince him to go for regular massages for his back, rather than wait for his back to go before he does it. Yeah, he's not great at putting himself first, so I'm trying to work on [Sophia laughs] that with him. But yeah... he's quiet; he's not like me, he's not a chatterbox. He has his moments. But he is a very strong, you know, backbone for me. He's one of those, like, gentle, quiet types, who you know has always got you. So yeah, maybe I was seeking him out all along.


Hannah Velten  28:55

Yeah. So we should probably skip forward now to the sort of awakening you had - does that kind of fit in with the timeline of things that you wanted to talk about?


Sophia Christou  29:04

I guess so. I left the police force and I would have been really happy to stack shelves. I just wanted to get my bounce and my personality back - I'd been feeling a little bit lost. And to fast forward, me and a best friend of mine at the time (who was also my sergeant, my inspector in different roles - was an awesome guy) he kind of hooked me up with his wife and we opened up a coffee shop by the beach. I had told myself - God, I tell a lot of stories; we all do that; we make up stories about ourselves and make it a reality, but it's actually BS - so I told myself that I'd never be a leader and I wouldn't be good at that. That's not for people like me. And then I became a leader, with Alenna. We chose our team. We converted an old lifeguard station into a lovely, lovely venue, really, it's quite popular, on Barry Island in 'Gavin and Stacey' land... she loved coffee, I love food, we kind of figured that it can't be that hard for two nice people to set up a business and build it and they'll come - and they did. And that was six years ago. So that's still going strong. Around about two to three years in, we both started having a little bit more time in our hands, we put in so much hard work, we had everything running the way that we would like. We'd got the most amazing manager, and she wanted more responsibility, so we stepped back. So what actually happened in that time, I think, for the first time in decades, was I had space.


Hannah Velten  31:16

The old space! [both laugh]


Sophia Christou  31:17

Yeah, that old chestnut! So I have formed some space around me. And space within me. So with that comes itchy feet and fingers that go like this, and it's like 'what can I do? What can I do? What can I do?' So I kept asking a question, 'Who can I help? Who can I help? Life is good. My family are healthy. I know I'm not just here to celebrate Christmas and birthdays. There's more. There's more. There's more. Who can I help? How can I help?' And I'm not sure how many times I asked that question, but it was whizzing round all day, every day, for a little while. And then through my business, a lady [Sophia laughs] - it's funny calling her a lady, because she's now a very, very close friend of mine, like a sister - but a lady, Kelly, came through wanting to book a birthday. And she wants to celebrate friendship. And I thought, well, that's awesome: on her birthday, she wants to celebrate her friendships at my coffee shop. So I did all the food: they had some lovely, like, delicatessen type buffet and, at that moment, she claimed me as her friend, because she made me get up and give a speech about my best friends. So she put me on the spot, she called me out. And she had me in tears and I hardly knew her. From then we knew that we were meant to meet each other. We were meant to get to know each other and do some stuff in life together. We just knew. I'd never had a meeting like that before. But it just felt like I'd known her for so long already, yet we'd only just met and we spent the next month or so like catching up and bringing each other up to speed on our 40 years. It was really surreal. Kelly's still in my life now - she always will be. I think that our souls knew each other, long before we did - that's what it feels like.


Sophia Christou  33:30

But there's something about Kells that's quite significant... well, very significant to this really and shows what my brother's been up to all this time, if only I'd paid attention. So she introduced me to two of her very close friends and said, 'I'd really like you to meet my other friends and I want you to come to our barbecue on Sunday. All of you." So I spoke to hubbie and he was like, "Yeah, nothing else on. Let's go". So I said, "Brilliant Kel, we're all in. Where do you live?" She then went on to describe the apartments that used to be the old hospital where my brother was actually staying, from time to time, and where he was last, and last seen alive. And I didn't look in the mirror but I could feel the colour draining from my face. And I was like, "Okay, are you shitting me, Kel?" And she was like, "Sorry, no, what? We all live here. All three of us. We've all got apartments here." I said, "Of course you have." [both laugh] And she said to me, 'Why, what's wrong?' And I said, "Nothing's wrong. We'll be there. But it's a place I've avoided all my life. It's the beach where my brother went into the water. And was found." And she was amazing. She was like, "I'll guide you through it; we'll walk the path first." And I was like, "Thank you. We're coming." I honestly think he... well, I mean, you couldn't get more obvious than that really, could you?... I'm not questioning it. But it was just mind blowing how obvious that was that he had brought Kelly to me and the other girls to me. And it took me to where he was last. And now I can visit there. We had a beautiful afternoon. The sunset was stunning. We had great connection, a good laugh, and food, and I now don't associate the beach with anything else but beauty. You know, so he was the catalyst for the start of what followed after that. And I think what follows after that was six months of full on looking inwards and asking questions, being curious, making space, allowing myself to be still, saying 'no' to things that I didn't want to do, saying 'yes' to more of what I wanted to do... I'm learning really... I went for Reiki and then I became attuned to Reiki, because I loved how it made me feel. I loved that inner space. I felt so floaty and like I had so much more capacity, all of a sudden, you know... all the old used up energy had been flushed out my system. So I thought, well, I'm going to train up in this. So I do that for family and friends now, very now and then -I should do it more, really, because it's quite amazing. And then I learned how to meditate. I don't do it often. But just knowing all these ways... I'd never looked inward before in my life, I didn't know what it was. I think it took me three decades, at least, to actually make the connection that our mind and body are actually connected. You know, I was disconnected from that way of thinking, I guess, because you only know what you know. And then when you know better, you do better. You know, that's kind of how it works. You do your best and then when you know better, you do even better and so forth.


Hannah Velten  37:50

Did you ever have a connection with Zubi? How did that sort of develop (because I know you do have a connection now). Can you talk me through how that developed as well.


Sophia Christou  38:04

I guess. So I think the more open I became to dropping down from my head and into my heart, the more aware I was of different messages, signs, music coming on through the radio, my playlists shuffling to songs that I couldn't listen to before because they would break my heart. But now I'm singing along in the car to them, at the top of my voice, and just feeling his presence and just having this knowing that he's absolutely around. So I think trusting... Once I'd met Kels, she was a massive catalyst for me and it triggered so much more, so many more opportunities, and literally opened my eyes and my ears to a lot more that's around me. I started seeing things in a different way. And as I did that, I was very much more aware of, you know, little signs and then very obvious signs. I've never actually seen Zube, only in my dreams and I've felt him very much around me, but I think after the six months of looking in... it was almost like a crash course in awakening. It was like, really intense, really heavy. It was almost like someone was saying, 'Come On Girl, you've got a lot of catching up to do. Read that. Read that. See them. Hear that. Listen to that. And it was like... quite a bit of a whirlwind, just like I needed to get up to speed - that's the only way I can describe it. And I just went with it. Is that sounding familiar?


Hannah Velten  40:23

Yeah, totally, totally. [both laugh]


Sophia Christou  40:26

And then after that, it's like once I'd gotten all the tools, and the toolkits and the practices I needed, then I dropped. [Sophia laughs] I literally went down. And literally just, like, dropped; felt very, very strange, didn't feel myself and I was like, okay, what's going on here? Now, what had happened before that... and, of course, at this point, I still suppressed all my grief. It hadn't come out yet, because, as far as I was concerned, I'd done a really good job of dodging it. And it wasn't going to find me - it's like, you know, when you're a child and you're playing 'hide and seek', so you cover your eyes, because if you cover your eyes, no one will see you. To you, you feel like you're hidden, but you really are not; you are just stood there, and it's going to happen, they're going to find you anytime. So I guess grief found me. Grief found me. Caught up with me. And I'd gone on a course, six months prior, and I'd given up smoking, which really helped me suppress everything for 26 years - so I'd given up smoking after that course - and, during that course, there was an exercise on fear. And I remember sitting there going, "Yeah, I haven't got any. I got no fear. I do zip-wires. I do roller coasters. Like I'll give anything a go, I've got no fear." So I closes my eyes and did it anyway, just in case. And I see a lot of colours - if I'm meditating or having Reiki when I close my eyes, I see the most beautiful vibrant colours swirling around (a bit of a lava lamp / snowflake type effect, I'll try and paint it one day, but it's not that simple, and they're just the most stunning colours). During this exercise, there was a bright electric blue - funnily enough, there's a lot of those bioluminescent plankton around at the moment, that type of electric blue, but really, really vibrant and really electric. So I saw that throughout the exercise, so I just observed that instead. Because, of course, I had nothing to be scared off and there was nothing coming up for me. So I thought I'll just enjoy the colours and and then, yeah. So everyone came around (it was only about five, six minutes) and people were talking about their experiences and I was just listening and I was like, "oh, wow, that's amazing for you." And as I got up to leave... when the course had come to an end, there was this overwhelming sense of sorrow. And the floodgates opened, and I just started sobbing uncontrollably, you know, when you can't control your nose and you've got no tissue and it was just one of those. Floodgates. Whatever happened in that exercise [both laugh] opened up whatever it was that I was harbouring in my body, and in my heart. Yeah, whatever was going through my system that needed to come out, came out and I sobbed uncontrollably. I went to speak to one of the coaches because it just wouldn't stop and some of my friends on the course were like, 'no, don't leave without speaking to them - something's going on here with your nervous system; this seems like a big blow." So I had a chat with them and within five minutes we went through a method and I felt so much better already, you know, the tears stopped. But that was followed up by six months later receiving a message (I only remembered this this morning) receiving a message that someone's little one had passed (I don't want to be too graphic about it but), they had drowned. And I remember being told that message and feeling like time had stopped. As I heard the words, and it was 'drowned', time stopped, everything went still. I haven't seen The Matrix yet (and I know I need to see it) but I imagine it was a bit like that, you know. I was the only one moving and everything else was still. And it hit me quite deep. It would hit anyone quite deep. But there was definitely something going on in my body at that point, when I heard the word 'drowning', of course, that's how my brother died. Within 48 hours, I was physically ill. So I'm not quite sure what that message did, or what that triggered, but my iron hit rock bottom and I later found out I was very low vitamin D, and B12 - all of which are vital for moods... so, yeah, everyone got your levels checked, vital for moods. You know, I was fatigued, that would have been the iron, I couldn't stay awake for more than two hours; no pain, thankfully, but also had quite a big bleed, as well. Obviously went to get checked out and that is literally when my real healing journey, I believe, began, because it was like everything was released. 


Sophia Christou  46:53

So at the same time, my mental health, I wouldn't say 'suffered' - it 'changed'. It changed for a while and it changed me for a while. I became quite withdrawn. I isolated myself from others. I luckily spoke to my husband and my boys about what was going on for me and not to worry, because I would get to the bottom of it. But something was going on for me and I couldn't... I didn't want too much responsibility, because all of a sudden, all that responsibility that I was able to juggle, like twizzle on a plate with one hand, all of a sudden, I couldn't balance a thing. I could only just look after my kids and maybe cook us a meal, just us though. So it was like I honed in to home comforts, warmth, just nourished us. And I couldn't do for anyone else. I couldn't physically or mentally do for anybody else. Looking back now, I was grieving, I was finally, finally grieving. So that went on, all in all... the intense period was probably for about six months. In that time, I did some art when I felt good. So it's definitely been like a therapy for me, as well. Absolutely. It's definitely helped heal. I was very gentle on myself, I put myself first. If you do it often enough, it becomes a habit, by the way. [Sophia laughs] It's difficult at the beginning, but once you hit rock bottom, you realise you don't ever want to feel like that again. And you'll do everything in your power to keep yourself optimum - not just balanced, not just treading water, like I don't want to just tread water. I wanna thrive. We should all be thriving. You know, I want to feel optimum. I want to feel my best every single day, whatever that looks like [Sophia laughs] and do my best every single day. I don't know if you know about 'The Four Agreements', Hannah, have you...? 


Hannah Velten  49:29

I have. 


Sophia Christou  49:31

So they were really helpful... during that time, I think I was just really careful about what I consumed in so many different ways, including... I wanna say what I ate, but I'd be fibbing, to be honest with you. I'm not great with food, that's something I need to work on. [Sophia laughs] But like all of a sudden, I was forced to reconnect with nature. When I was having down days, my sister would recognise and go, "Coming for a walk?" I disconnected with nature, the same way I disconnected with art. I had chopped off the things that, I guess had been, you know, just life takes over, you get busy, kids, family, business, and all the things that are actually not just luxury - they're not luxuries, they're vital for our well-being. And I know now. So I reconnected with nature. I got my iron levels up, my vitamin D levels up and B12. I finally got hold of the naturopath that I was trying to see for a year, an amazing guy, and took different supplements and had some acupuncture, booked in for Reiki, so I started nourishing myself and then slowly, slowly my cup began to fill up. The people that were in my life, and appearing in my life, were those who I absolutely needed. You know, when you're aware of it, you start noticing who's coming in and who's going out. And it's all okay, it's just flow. You know, like they say, it's better to go with the flow than try and swim against the river. Just go with it, go with the flow. And I started rebalancing, and realising that I needed to go through all of that period, and I was pushed to go through that, in order to heal and transform myself and it was all my brother's doing. So cheers for that, bro. [Sophia laughs]


Hannah Velten  51:53

Yeah, absolutely. Like they sit around up there waiting, till the right time and until you give in, as well... Okay, I admit it, I need to get rid of this grief. And it's wonderful that they are there willing us on and plonking people right in our path, so we can't say no to it. So what about the art now? Do you feel him? Because there was a reason you came on this show, apart from anything else, do you feel his influence in your art now? And you know, how do you carry him forward?


Sophia Christou  52:36

So talking about attracting certain people, I have really connected with Kelly (still obviously) and four other women and since last November, as I was finishing coming out of my grief, I guess... medics would describe it as 'imbalance' or 'hormonal imbalance' - there was definitely some of that, it can't be overlooked, absolutely, definitely - but also, you know, there is a whole process. There is a whole grieving process that I guess you need to go through in order to come out the other side. I think we've been through it, we've now seen it and it's only now - this is why I'm not so succinct about it is because it's only now I'm starting to connect the dots and look back and go, 'Oh, that's what was happening.' So there was like a natural (to want to say 'end', but it's not the end, it's only just the beginning), but there was a natural conclusion to the grief and the healing process when I was on a call with these five amazing women, who we've all bonded and formed, you know, a beautiful sisterhood if you like (despite some of us not even knowing each other for more than six months). It's such a nurturing... and I advise anyone who is going through difficult times to find your tribe. We're not supposed to do this stuff on our own. [Sophia laughs] It's hard to do stuff on our own. So find those people that you trust and you can confide in, who you can be with, that hold the space for you, who really listen to you and don't hold judgments, because these are the people that can help you go from the caterpillar to the butterfly, so much smoother than when you try going out alone, because it's really easy to think you're nuts. It's really easy to think you're nuts and get yourself checked in. And I don't want to think about how many people already do that, when, really, we just need some space, some love, some nurturing, and, you know, alternative practices to nourish us, I guess, you know, and a bit of fun and laughter, because that was the first thing I noticed disappeared from my life. That's when I knew that I wasn't right. 


Sophia Christou  55:31

So the natural conclusion was after a call with my amazing tribe, one of my friends picked up a guitar and she started strumming a Pink Floyd tune. And again, my brother used to listen to Pink Floyd ALL THE TIME. I'd stopped listening to it. Well, after the call, it was such a warm glowy feeling in 'my creation station' ('my little woman den' - that's where I am now), I put on the playlist of all the Pink Floyd Essentials. I opened my Mac and what I started doing, for the first time, was creating uplifting, motivational quotes on to vibrant backgrounds. And before I knew it, I had a whole catalogue of them. That was such a connection to Zube right then. It was almost like he was gifting me them. So the first prints I did were some of the quotes from his favourite Pink Floyd songs, so, 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' and 'I Wish You Were Here'. And then as a result, I opened up a little Etsy shop and you know...


Hannah Velten  56:52

Oh... we're literally gonna run out of time, any second now. Do you just want to give people your Etsy shop so that people can go and see your work.


Sophia Christou  57:01

Ahhh. Well, that was a beautiful ending anyway. Come and check me out at Sophia Christou Art. That's my name on Etsy as well. That's me on Insta, and Facebook. And yeah, connect with me. I'd love to hear from you. And thank you so much for having me, Han.


Hannah Velten  57:17

I am so so happy that you came. And, yeah, thank you so much for joining us. And it's been a real pleasure. And your art will continue to be like something that's going to grow and grow. I can feel it. I can feel it. It's going to bring so much joy to people. So thank you so much, Sophia, for joining us and for giving us all your nuggets that you've learned along the way. Lovely, thank you so much. And we'll see you next week. Bye. 


Hannah Velten  57:50

[Outro} Thank you for listening to 'The Finder of Lost Things'. I think we've been triggered so long and so hard by COVID and it's gonna carry on. People are getting used to stillness and they're getting used to a more solitude. But how do you use that time for the highest good? This process that we're going to explore will bring back the joy and purpose to life. That wholeness, you know, that sort of harmony and flow and togetherness. People are really ready to find their lost parts now. You can find me at www.hannahvelten.online

Sophia ChristouProfile Photo

Sophia Christou

Sophia is a bold, visionary artist. A self-confessed colour junkie, with a rainbow soul, she uses her love affair with colour to uplift and balance those who have her energentic art in their households. She knew she was an 'artist' before even lifting a crayon, but she grew up in a household full of uncertainly and often dependant upon her father's temprament. She developed a strong bond with her elder brother, Zubi, who became her protector and when Zubi committed suicide, while staying in a local mental health hospital, Sophia's grief and creativity was stiffled as she became the protector for her family, friends and at work in the police force. Around the age of 40, Sophia experienced a spiritual awakening and Zubi was right there with her. Following her healing journey, she rediscovered her passion for art and now wishes to use her colour-healing-vibes gift to build 10 modular homes for survivors of people trafficking and domestic violence.