Soulful Business: Meet Bronwyn Simons
Hello! Please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How does your heart manifest in the world?
Hello! I’m Bronwyn. I’m a visual artist and consulting astrologer living on beautiful Vancouver Island. I love living intimately with nature; I am nurtured daily by the living ocean, the ancient giant cedars, the salmon-bearing streams and the dark night skies of my beautiful home. At the center of my creative life are circles of women. My soul’s work happens here. I’ve been facilitating women’s circles for thirty years, and leading women’s retreats for nearly twenty. Over and over again, I have witnessed the life-changing power of groups of women coming together with purpose. Leading and mentoring women on-on-one and in circle is my honor and one of my greatest joys. In my astrological practice, I lead workshops, min-retreats, and Moon Circles around the US and Canada, and am currently Resident Astrologer for Jane Reeve’s beautiful semi-annual Italy retreats. As a consulting astrologer I work with the cycles of the Sun, Moon and planets to help my clients gain deeper understanding of their own life cycles. I see each life story as life is a thing of beauty, of richness, and profound depth. You can think of me as a guide to those depths, an interpreter of the deep and sometimes strange symbolic language of the soul. With gentle loving-kindness, I help my clients to see beneath the surface of life, and to better understand the great currents of energy that are moving us forward. As a visual artist, I have explored many media, and my main work now is with ceramics, painting, and illustration. I have exhibited widely, and my work can be found in collections in North America, the UK and the Middle East. I am currently obsessed with food illustration! I’m also a mom to a wonderful grown daughter, and I’ve been happily partnered to my best friend for twenty-five years. I’m a practicing Tibetan Buddhist, a dancer, a yogini, and a rescuer of pugs in my spare time.
My work is important because:
Honouring our natural cycles and our belonging in the world is essential to our well-being, individually and socially. In my work I connect the beauty of your individual story with the big stories and rhythms of nature and humanity. I help my clients see the natural 'rightness' of who and how they are in the world, so they can be more loving and accepting of themselves.I help them chart the rhythms and cycles of their lives so they can embrace repeating lessons, understand the natural ebb and flow, and know when to rest and when to act. I don't really have an 'ideal' customer, but the people that are drawn to work with me do seem to share certain traits... mostly women at midlife, with vibrant, fiery, creative selves and lives, who have created richness in their lives in many ways with their strength and creativity. For some mysterious reason, most of my clients have strong Leo and Pisces in their charts, and are entrepreneurs.
What does soulful business mean to you? What motivates you?
Soulful business means work, life, home, and play blend harmoniously. Soulful business means understanding the value of all the currencies of life, not only money. Soulful business means work is in service to the soul's growth... my own and others. It means questioning patriarchal ways and means and priorities and schedules, and building gentleness and nourishment into days and into contracts.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
I can't really separate business advice from life advice. My astrology mentor once told me "Stop sitting on your Venus!" Ha! This meant, let the world see your beauty. Believe in your own worth. Stop thinking money is icky and understand it as a potentially powerful and beneficial energy. Let your pleasure guide you. Be devoted to beauty as a deep, spiritual quality.
How do you stay connected to loved ones when deeply entrenched in work?
This is a big challenge for me. I love my work and I tend to retreat into it, which can sometimes leave friends and family lonely. I strive to be conscious of this. My husband and I have figured out that we need to make plans and dates and times to just be together and play; we have to be conscious about creating these times, and that nourishes our partnership. And I love that my friends are willing to be persistent! My best friend is always plotting and planning adventures for us to get me out of my habitual tendencies, and I appreciate that so much! Maintaining connection is a work in progress for me and I am blessed that those close to me are patient and persistent.
What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur? How do you work with or around it?
I have had to completely restructure my relationship with money. I have had to accept that everything I believed about money was wrong for me, and that I had created a toxic relationship to this part of my life. I can't tell you how liberating it has been to do this healing work. I feel like this topic of our unhealed relationship with money is really taboo. When we look for help we seem to have to choose between embracing magical thinking and 'abundance consciousness,' which acknowledges the energetic nature of money but doesn't address the complexities of structural oppression and personal trauma. Or we have to choose a limited, punitive, and one-dimensional approach to 'financial planning' which gives practical skills and acknowledges our relationship to social structures, but doesn't address the soulful and energetic qualities of currency. I admire the cutting edge work of women like Hillary Augustine, who strive to bridge these two worlds and help us to heal our money stories in practical and energetic ways. This work has changed the way I do business and transformed the way I manage money. A healthy money life is multi-dimensional and is essential for me in feeling good in all my business relationships, and in life!
When you feel burned out or uninspired, what lights your fire again? How do you stay nourished and inspired as a soulful creative?
I need a lot of rest and quiet. I think really, we all need much more rest and quiet and retreat time than we allow ourselves to have. When I am burned out or uninspired I see it as a call to rest. To spend a day on the couch or in bed or on a chair by the ocean... an aimless, agenda-free day. Time for the nervous system to settle down and the mind to stop racing. It's so simple, really... rest and quiet will restore energy and creativity. Creativity and action need time to gestate. The cycles of the Moon teach me about this natural need, and teach me to respect my inner cycles of shining and withdrawing then shining again. Follow the Moon to learn this way of balanced rest and action.
How do you start your work day?
I am gentle and respectful of my cycles of rest, and allow myself to wake naturally; it's usually early, with the first sunlight and calls of the eagles in the big cedars outside my window. My husband, who gets up early to meditate, brings me a cup of tea and sits on the bed so we can talk about our dreams and the day ahead. Then I sip my tea in bed and dive into my calendar and email and reviewing the charts and stories of my morning clients. I love working from bed! When my body is ready I get up to sit at the altar and do my Buddhist devotional practice for the day. After puttering and breakfast, I'm in my study and ready for my first client at 9:30. I love my gentle and relaxed mornings… with strong Taurus/Cancer in my chart, I thrive on gentle, nurturing, regular routines.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I've always known this about myself - like since kindergarten! I just don't thrive or succeed within conventional structures and schedules. It took a bit of time and a bit of pain to figure this out, and to feel worthy despite this difference, but I'm happy now with my unconventional life, work, and livelihood.
Who supports you?
I have such a rich support network now! But finding, trusting, and allowing support from other humans has been an important life journey for me. My early life was disrupted, disordered, and marked by tragedy and trauma. I needed to restructure and heal my heart and mind in order to relax into receiving support. I can do that now! My husband of 25 years is my best friend, spiritual companion, and number one support in all areas of life, including EVERY wild creative business pursuit I have ever taken on. My daughter, who is now 26, is my life's greatest gift, and our relationship grounds me in meaning. My Buddhist teacher is a primary guide in profound ways that I can't even articulate. I find professional and personal sustenance, and acceptance of my weird geeky self in the astrological community! I often collaborate on creative and business projects with other women, and I value these relationships so much and love working with and being inspired by short and long term creative partnerships. My clients are the best! They literally support and sustain my business, and I adore spending my days with their stories, which inspire and intrigue me. Of course the ocean, the forest, and the whole of beautiful nature, the Moon and planets, the energetic realms, and Tara are the ground support of my soul.
What is your business philosophy?
Well, it's radical and feminine. I reject the idea of crushing it, killing it, and blowing up. Nothing about that appeals to me. On the other hand, I am mindful to value myself and maintain sovereignty and good boundaries. A 'feminine' business model doesn't mean giving it all away or being everybody's mom (yes I've been there and done that!) I'm really interested in creating a new model of entrepreneurship that is compassionate, holistic, mindful, and kind. Integrity and honesty in relationships is key. In short, I strive to prosper, serve, be of benefit, and experience and share joy in my everyday.
Who are some other female entrepreneurs you admire?
I have a soft spot for quirky women who create success on their own terms. I've had some incredible mentors over the years, including my first dance teacher Sese and my astrology mentor Anne Ortelee. I admire ordinary women who are comfortable in their skin (no mean feat in our culture) and who have created abundant livelihood (however they define that) from their unique creative gifts.