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Friends in the Frame - Paula

‘If I’m on my death bed looking back the only things that I suspect would matter would be people and connection.’

Paula has a deep yearning for connection with the people around her. I see in her an extraordinary, delightful capacity to do just that. She recognises that this comes naturally to her, along with ‘the ability to pick up something in the air with people’ – a skill she likens to being a medium. I’ve depicted this in her portrait, along with some tarot cards representing other key themes in her life. (A bit cheeky of me, as she doesn’t see herself as ‘spiritual’!)

Paula’s love of human connection makes her a very good friend and confidante. To me, she embodies the archetype of the helper, seen in her career in psychotherapy and crisis management. It has also made her a good mother – something she allows herself to own pride in, whereas her other achievements in life she puts down ‘more to luck than courage’.

It’s important to Paula that her connections with people are both authentic and playful, ‘where the unspeakable is being spoken and where you can go from hysterical laughter to serious or difficult things very quickly and the two aren’t exclusive of each other’. It’s a quality I enjoy immensely in her, and I’ve tried to capture it through the two-masked jester, and in the balance of light and dark.

And the dark really does fascinate Paula – or more specifically, death! While sometimes a morbid fascination by her own admission, it also helps her to gain perspective, and it’s connected to her lack of belief in a higher power or an afterlife: ‘There’s something so stark about death being final that pushes one into living really well in the present moment.’

Such an insight guides how Paula thinks about the future: ‘All I want is to get a little further in being able to live well. Everything else will just be a facilitation or journey towards that.’ May you live well, Paula.

How I know Paula

Paula and I become firm friends at Skyros, along with her partner Suse, and Luisa. I was struck by her delightful combination of honesty, depth, curiosity and sheer fun. When you meet Paula, you feel like you get to meet a real person, who says things as they are, but always with warmth and kindness. I found myself quickly opening up to her – she’s someone you can tell anything to. I often turn to Paula when I feel stuck or troubled, and I always come away feeling clearer and calmer. Paula has an uncanny ability to find the light in amongst the dark.

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