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Guardians and Angels, goauche and watercolor crayon in handmade journal, by Erika
Our True Nature
This round of Befriending Our Shadow course is complete. This week we had our last sessions, the last one being the day before Thanksgiving. Participants in the class have come full circle, from tentatively approaching the shadow, which was experienced as a monster, lurking in the shadows, to acceptance and even friendship with the shadow. More than that, they have come to see more deeply how the shadow and the light are deeply intertwined. They have explored in their powerfully expressive dolls, how the shadow cannot exist without light and vice versa and how one nourishes the other. Fundamentally the truth of our true nature as human beings is coming clearer, that we are beings of light.
Participants in the course have been courageously wrestling with dark emotions of grief and loss, anger and frustration, and questions of identity in times of transition. These deep explorations are mirrored in their dolls, which morph and change, just as the participating artists relationships with these dark emotions shift and change. Monsters shape-shift into partners in growth. Deteriorations related to illness or aging are seen in a new way, as a pathway into acceptance of the full self. Continual change begins to be welcomed as the only reliable constant in life.
Throughout the course we have had guided visualizations, and one of the first ones was a journey to see the hidden light or gold within the shadow. It was very moving to see how brightly the light shone in these meditations and at the same time, how this light was gently held within the shadow. And this week we meditated on how the true self, that core of gold within, is held by both the shadow and the inner guardian. We saw again how closely linked these “opposites” are, not really opposites at all.
Meeting of Light and Dark, goauche and watercolor crayon in handmade journal by Erika
The Light within the Dark at the time of the Winter Solstice
It seems appropriate to talk about these things as we approach the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year, in the Northern hemisphere. We usually think of this time as a time of short days. We wake up in dark and before our days are fully done, it is already dark. Yet, the solstice is also the time when the earth shifts and starts its journey towards light again. The pause at the fulcrum of this transition, can be seen as the earth taking a breath. And together with the earth, we can also take a breath, appreciating the wisdom of the dark and anticipating the coming of the light. We are reminded that, no matter how dark it may seem outside, whether because of the time of year, or because of what might be going on in the world at this present time, we can never get away from our true nature as a being of light.
More Guardians and Angels, goauche and watercolor crayon by Erika
The Meaning of Our True Nature as Beings of Light
Last week, in talking with one of the participants of the course in a private session, I said, “in some ways, I feel like I know less about the shadow than I did when we started,” and she laughed in recognition. One of the themes, running as a thread through these eight weeks has been the idea that once we come to a true place of impasse, when there seems no path forward, we are given the opportunity to discover a new way of approaching our problems. This is when we let go of the left brained thinking that is the most common way of approaching problems in our modern day world, at least among what Clarissa Pinkola Estes, of Women Who Run with the Wolves fame, calls, the “overculture,” and turn instead to a right brained more creative way of thinking. This way of thinking is less about “figuring it out,” and more about developing a comfort level with the uncertainty of life, with all the parts that don’t seem to fit, with all the ways in which our world feels “wrong,” essentially the shadow.
Once we begin this shift, we begin also to recognize that there is a part of ourselves that doesn’t change, no matter how dark we feel, and that is our inner true self, our hidden gold. There is a story about a treasured statue of the Buddha in Thailand:
In 1957 an entire Monastery in Thailand was being relocated by a group of monks. One day they were moving a giant clay Buddha when one of the monks noticed a large crack in the clay. On closer investigation he saw there was a golden light emanating from the crack. The monk used a hammer and a chisel to chip away at the clay exterior until he revealed that the statue was in fact made of solid gold.
Historians believe the Buddha had been covered with clay by Thai monks several hundred years earlier to protect it from an attack by the Burmese army. In the attack, all the monks had been killed and it wasn’t until 1957 that this great treasure was actually discovered.
We begin to discover our hidden gold or true light, once we release our hold onto the outer shells of our identity and rest into who we truly are, the bedrock of our being. And in so doing, we also connect to that golden light within others and in the world around us. And though this may seem like a small step, if we take this small step each day, we are adding golden light to the world around us. Our ability to renegotiate our relationship with our own light on a daily basis, can contribute in a small way to the healing of the world.
Baba Yaga/Mother Earth, Sculptural needle felted and mixed media and Vasilisa, the Brave, Sculptural needle felting and mixed media in 2019 exhibit.
What helps us through our dark times?
Recently a participant in the Befriending Our Shadow class mentioned the impact that my Baba Yaga and Vasilisa dolls had on her. She has been going through the painful experience of accompanying a close friend through the last stages of a terminal disease and then her death. What could she do to support her friend when there was seemingly nothing left to do? And what could she do for herself to ease her way through her own grief?
These concerns were all exacerbated by her not being able to be with her friend during this time of COVID. She resonated with the helplessness of one of the central figures in the story, Vasilisa, but also with the way this character receives help. She said, “when I translated my experience into Vasilisa's encounter with Baba Yaga it was enormously comforting to me. The story helped me see how helpless I felt in the face of my friend's impossible demands and where I could turn for help.”
The Baba Yaga and Vasilisa Story
Here is the story, in the way that I understand it. There are many variations and in Russia, it is a very common story, as familiar to Russians as the story of Hansel and Gretel is to us. A young girl, Vasilisa, is given a special doll, by her dying mother. Her mother tells her to keep the doll with her always. The mother dies and the “wicked step-mother” forces Vasilisa to go to the woods to get fire for the hearth from Baba Yaga. “Everyone” knows that Baba Yaga, the “wicked witch,” lives in the woods and kills anyone who visits her who cannot answer her questions or perform the tasks she sets them. The evidence of this is the skulls that grace the outside of Baba Yaga’s house and that Baba Yaga wears around her neck. Vasilisa is frightened but she goes anyway. The doll secretly tells Vasilisa the answers to Baba Yaga’s questions, so that instead of killing Vasilisa, Baba Yaga is obliged to give her a flaming skull. There is more to the story, including what Vasilisa eventually does with the flaming skull.
Accompaniment in Times of Grief and Loss
Dying and illness can be a time of isolation and the pain of this isolation can exacerbate the pain of the grief itself. The story of a mother giving a doll to her daughter upon her death symbolizes the passing on of comfort and guidance, from one generation to the next. The story also reflects how we as women can mature into a new way of seeing when we have experienced great pain and sorrow. The doll that Vasilisa receives symbolizes the internalization of her mother’s wisdom and nurturing presence, and of her maturing into her own sense of agency.
Another level to the Baba Yaga story is how we can all access an infinite source of inner guidance when we are faced with losses such as illness and death. It reminds us that we are not alone. The dying mother gives Vasilisa part of herself, which Vasilisa then internalizes and then is able to use in her communication with the scary Baba Yaga. This second exchange between Vasilisa and Baba Yaga is another form of internalization of wisdom. Scary and harsh as Baba Yaga is, she helps Vasilisa by giving her the flaming skull, a symbol of fierce wisdom, which Vasilisa is then able to make her own.
Facing Powerlessness and Death
One of the most difficult aspects of facing the death of someone we are close to is our powerlessness. We feel powerless, both because we are reminded of our own deaths and because there is nothing we can do to help. Death is scary to look at, especially in the dominant culture where there are no rituals of acceptance of death as a natural part of the cycle of life. Death and grieving are relegated to the shadows in our society.
During a large-scale crisis, such as the one we are currently living in, we are forced to face losses on many levels and yet, still are left with inadequate tools to process these losses. Stories such as Baba Yaga can help us to find ways to wrap our minds around these impossibly challenging realities, by, for one thing, reminding us of our interconnectedness. The many archetypal roles in the Baba Yaga story, “maiden, mother, crone” are all interconnected parts of the cycle of life.
We can be the young child, in her fear and helplessness, we can be the mother, providing guidance in the form of a symbolic doll to our own inner child and our mothering self and then to others who are suffering in grief and loss. And we can also be the crone, softening in response to the answered attuned to our questions and then providing fierce wisdom and power to our younger self. We can align ourselves with all these self-identities, and recognize the ways in which they are all one.
What can we take with us from this story?
No matter where you are along this continuum of a woman’s life, you can benefit from this story. Think for a moment of a time when you have felt loss or grief and have been comforted by those who represent these various archetypal roles. And can you think of a time when you have been able to find these archetypes within yourself? If we can make room in our lives for rituals that allow us to experience grief and loss, we begin to have the inner spaciousness to be there for others as well.
Perhaps you can challenge yourself by creating an image of your inner Vasilisa, mother or Baba Yaga, by drawing it in your journal or maybe making it into a doll. Or you can visualize one of these powerful figures and imagine what she would look like or where she would live in your body. Or you may respond to this story by journaling the ways in which you feel a connection to each of these archetypal representations of a woman’s life stages. We need each other but with a sense of this outward support, we can also have access to symbolic reminders of what can help us through dark times of sorrow and loss.
A participant in the “Befriending Our Shadow” e-course described a dilemma she was facing in choosing a theme for her doll. She said, “I have some ideas but nothing feels right.” I asked her to describe one of the ideas that didn’t feel “right,” and she said, “one aspect of my shadow is ‘feeling like a couch potato’.” But she thought that idea was too superficial and on one level, maybe this was true. She didn’t want to settle for the “easy” thing, she wanted to get to something more real and meaty.
You may be facing something like this in your day-to-day life….you have a big project that you want to attempt, but every time you start, something keeps you from taking the first steps. You just can’t figure out the “right” way to approach it. After careful consideration, you have enough self-insight to realize that your search for the right thing may be a way to avoid getting started. But then it occurs to you that the very most important next step is to take a very long nap. Most likely this means you are dealing with some aspect of the shadow. Nothing wrong with naps of course.
First thought, best thought?
There is a saying, ‘first thought, best thought,” and in the example above, the participant and I discussed how even though “couch potato” could in one way be seen as a superficial theme, there may be something deeper, if she became willing to delve below the surface. We are dealing with shadows here and they can be notoriously trickster characters. They can hide in plain sight or they can morph into the opposite of what you think they are. We can spend endless time searching for the “right” way to do things, yet sometimes we do just need to jump in. Sometimes the first thought is the best thought. Sometimes you have to be willing to do the dance with the shadow, to hold it lightly.
Are you a planner, comfortable with detail, or are you a jump-in-feet-first kind of person?
Another challenge for this participant, a gifted and highly skilled artist, who is especially good at carefully planning out her artworks, might have been that her planning skills were getting in the way. Because we are in the realm of the shadow, a place where planning can go out the window, where our highly skilled and experienced left brain mind has absolutely no idea how to proceed. What to do then? People who are more comfortable jumping in head first and without a plan may have a slight advantage here, but maybe not.
The shape-shifting shadow has a way to get at the non-planners as well, leading them into a path of confusion, with idea after idea piling in on top of each other, higgelty-piggelty. Someone who “usually” approaches problems without a plan, when facing their shadow, may most need to learn to set up parameters, structures and boundaries. Take a moment and consider which is your habitual way of approaching problems? Neither way is better than the other-they’re just different. Side note, what I have noticed in myself is that there are areas of my life where I tend to be the feet first jumping in kind of person, ie with art-making, especially doll making. But out in the real world I tend to be more of a planner.
Maybe this idea is the start of something bigger but you just need to chip at a small piece of it to start?
I don’t know yet what the end of this story was for this participant. Was the couch potato idea the way to go? Maybe this idea was a non-starter and yet maybe it was instead a doorway to something more profound. The idea here is that we have developed strategies for dealing with the usual problems in our life, the things and tasks that occur with regularity. But when confronted with something completely new, we have to start from scratch. And at first it can look like just one big huge couch potato weighing down on us. How to get started? Maybe we just have to start with one tiny bite out of the potato.
Starting where you are
What would that look like? In the class we did an exercise where we looked at the layers of the shadow. You may have tried something like this yourself, a dialogue with your ideas.
1. Use your dominant hand to ask questions and respond to the question with your non-dominant hand.
2. Write down one layer of your "shadow"-a part of you that you are wanting to ignore and ask, "why does this bother me?"
3. Keep going with "why" questions to see what is underneath the shadow.
4. Eventually you may get to some sort of "gold" some insight into what your shadow might be hiding from you.
This is best done in a spirit of lightness and without any expectation of definite answers. Eventually you may get to a place with new information and even possibly a place where you feel a sense of connection and ease.
“What is meant for you cannot miss you…what is not meant for you cannot hit you”
I am participating in a program that is led by a Sufi healer, Mark Silver and he recently shared with us an idea from his Sufi lineage. The idea was profound and yet simple, “what is meant for you cannot miss you, and what is not meant for you cannot hit you.” This idea resonated with me deeply and I have been thinking of it ever since. We spend so much time trying to figure out what the right actions might be, to take this path or the other path. To focus on one area of a problem or another? To work with this person or someone else? ad infinitum. But instead, what if we can just rest into opening the door right in front of us? What if we just trust that we will be guided as we take the steps along the path?
This doesn’t mean throwing away our thinking mind, or planning mind. This part of our brain is extremely useful. But it does mean using our thinking mind in conjunction with a pretty good relationship with the mysterious and the unknown. My highly visual mind sees an image of someone walking hand in hand into the sunset with a very large but strongly grounded on two feet, potato. I wish them well.
Goal is wholeness
Because ultimately the goal is wholeness. That’s what we really want. What a gift it ultimately is to be faced with new paths and new problems, because if we didn’t have that, how would we grow? I have a couple new ideas for e-courses in the works but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. The Befriending Our Shadow class that I talked about above, will be offered again in the spring. I have had several people ask me about in-person classes but those aren’t happening any time soon, with the levels of infection going up across the country. Sending love to all of you and hoping you are able to stay safe and comfortable but that you are also finding ways to challenge yourself with new experiences. Lots of love.
Transformative Healing Dolls
Fall is a time of new beginnings...
...and of immersing yourself into new learnings. Time to learn new or brush up on new subjects, such as languages or if you are creatively inclined, to take art classes. Engaging the mind, body and soul in learning can be a way to cope with the challenges of these strange times.
Everyone around me is struggling with the endless feeling strangeness of life under partial lockdown and of the current political chaos. Feelings can run high and become magnified in these strange times. This time can also be an opportunity for an internal cleansing, working through of the powerful feelings that can arise in the face of frustrations and challenges that our current climate provide.
The Befriending Our Shadow e-course is a way of combining both practical learning and internal cleansing. The class is a deep dive into the shadow, which is a powerful and ultimately liberating process. Note: the early bird pricing ends September 15th.
One of the participants in the previous Befriending Our Shadow class, Marie Sepe (see two sides of her flip doll above), graciously offered to share her intense process of working through strong feelings about cancer as she created this flip doll. I especially loved all the creative choices she made in order to adapt this process to her own, including finding a doll pattern that she adapted to make a flip doll, converting the skirt into a cape which allowed the two sides of her doll to hold hands and choosing to make a third separate doll to witness the entire process.
Here are Marie's detailed comments about her process:
"I initially took the "Befriending your Shadow Self" class to spend time creating with a friend; I wasn't certain what part of my Shadow Self needed befriending. At the time I took the class, I was a 1 year survivor of breast cancer and the emotional turmoil of that journey quickly surfaced. I had spent such an extended amount of time either determinedly staring down death during the path of treatment or just placing one foot in front of the other while pushing through the fatigue caused during and lingering after chemo that the explosion of emotion shouldn't have surprised me....though it bubbled to the top and churned for weeks while I created my flip doll and meditated on the meaning of the emotions.
I decided on impulse to sketch out and explore the "Before Me" and the "Cancer Me" in the doll, and was shocked by the brutal honesty of the "Cancer Me" particularly in contrast to the "Before Me" doll. I shared this initial sketch with a long time close friend, who immediately recognized the importance of creating this doll, and not only encouraged me to explore the depth of rawness in the "Cancer Me" but also tasked me with creating a final doll after this flip doll that represented the "Me Now" for closure. The "Before Me" doll was the easy part; I have always had a positive attitude, and I came to call that side "Sunshine Girl". I selected a meticulously detailed, beautiful doll pattern because of Sunshine Girl, which meant that I used the same doll pattern--but defaced--for Cancer Me.
The anger over cancer and its journey that lashed out and created scars and ugly adjectives--along with an explosion of profane epithets--on the "Cancer Me" side surprised me. It should not have. Publically I had kept my ever-sunny attitude in the face of death saying funny things to keep my cancer team laughing and moving forward in good spirits with me, but privately I had stitched up a small handful of "fuck" sentiments going into the mastectomy; I had laughed wildly while I stitched them and kept them close to me even through the chemo portion of the journey. I gathered up the fruits of these profane epithetic stitchings and collected them on the "Cancer Me", whom I had come to call "Anger Girl". As I stitched the painful adjectives on Anger Girl, I also meditated on their meaning and realized that these adjectives were only added to the good adjectives that already existed for Sunshine Girl.
The good that is me still exists in spite of the hurtful adjectives that were added through the experience of cancer treatment, and that meditation helped me push through the seeming dichotomy of concurrently held Sunshine and Anger, and begin to love and heal the Anger side of me--in essence, befriending that Shadow Self. At the end of the flip doll journey, I came to be thrilled that I had bothered to undertake the complex process of making articulated, bendable fingers. The afternoon that I completed attaching the working hands/arms to the doll torsos, I played with the joints and my first impulse was to make the two hold each others' hands. I have left them that way. I delighted in giving Sunshine Girl hair--the burst of joy exclaiming "I have hair!" and waving Sunshine Girl with her wild hair around on the zoom screen for the class was impulsive and really expressed how I felt and feel, months after chemo having my hair grow back just as it was before. How alien I looked to myself in the mirror without hair--in real life--surfaced as I completed the sketch of Anger Girl without hair and then later formed the doll.
I made a chemo scarf for Anger Girl, because I wore one and I know how cold it gets without hair; I took loving care of myself throughout the cancer journey no matter how much I internally rejected it. This process helped me forgive myself for the side effects I gained from chemo; I realized that I did the very best I could to take care of my future self with the quality of life and life-sparing decisions I made early in the journey. I decided to make what was supposed to be a circle skirt (which would have divided them into halves) into a cloak that they can be safe under when they need privacy--and they can decide if they want the Sunshine side or the Anger side expressing the mood of their retreat from the world. As I finished, my dear friend who was taking this class with me suggested that I gift my flip doll with a name that brings the two sides together, since they are completed as holding hands. My flip doll is named "Sol Enojado," or "Angry Sunshine". I call her Jade."
Thank you to Marie for sharing her process here. For more testimonials, and for information about the Befriending Our Shadow course, go here.
Have you been feeling the exhaustion of these last few months?
These past months have been particularly challenging. It is easy these days to feel exhausted-to feel difficulty initiating anything beyond what is needed to get through the day, especially as a woman. On top of that, when you are carrying feelings of loss, grief and trauma, personal and collective, these can weigh you down. It can feel like daily challenges that were simple at other times, can now take on larger proportions. If you are working from home it can be difficult to find a daily structure that makes sense, without those external anchors to structure your day around. And at the end of each day, it can feel like the day was spent on the surface, with nothing meaningful achieved.
Maybe you have tried listening to podcasts, educating yourself about how to be a better person in multiple different ways. Maybe you have found ways to cook more or to reach out to family and friends through Zoom. These are all wonderful and worthy pursuits. And yet, the exhaustion and frustration remains. It’s easy to see the time we are living through as a struggle to be avoided and endured, and sometimes it is, but there is also an opportunity for deepening.
Finding nourishment from spiritual mentors, Thomas Moore, Sandra Ingerman, Hildegarde von Bingen...
I remember reading and appreciating the spiritual scholar Thomas Moore's 'Care of the Soul: Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Daily Life," back in the late 80’s when I was in graduate school for art therapy. Moore described recently how in a way we are all monks in contemplation at this current time. In our isolation and solitude, we are forced to be alone and with that comes an opportunity to be with ourselves in new ways. We are called upon to use our inner resources to grow through this time. Sandra Ingerman, another of my virtual guides and mentors calls this a time of initiation and an opportunity for deepening. She connects this time with other times of loss, trauma and tragedy when we go into deeper into darkness, enough so that we can discover love, light and meaning that rests at the other side of that darkness.
This deepening can be as simple as listening to meaningful music that connects to the soul. As I write this, I am listening to Hildegarde von Bingen’s beautiful monophonic chanting. As I listen, I am reminded that she was a mystic and scholar who lived at the cusp of the turn of the last millennium, a time that had some similarity to our time now. There was unrest, illness and also doomsday prophesies when the year 1000 came. And Hildegard was an unusual woman for her time. She not only heard and followed the words of spirit from inside, she also found a way to lead her community of women through art, music, meditation and work with nature to celebrate life and find ways to be hopeful. She also found ways to effect political change and had the ear of powerful male leaders but that is another story.
However, you may want to go deeper than listening to music to have an experience of your deeper self through doll making. Read more about what the experience of what such a workshop was like for a participant in a doll making workshop this June.
Last June, I led a workshop for creative women from many different backgrounds, artists, art therapists, fiber artists, doll makers and some women who hadn't had any experience with this kind of art making before. This amazing group of women created dolls that reflected their shadows, those hidden sides of the self that can be scary to look at but that ultimately reveal hidden strengths.
In these blog posts I am going to feature various women from this workshop and their amazing dolls. Last month, I shared the work of Naomi Zow and today it is Angela Roberts. Please enjoy taking a look at her doll and some of the fascinating details of her process, below.
Angela Roberts, featured flip doll artist from the Befriending Our Shadow e-course June 2020:
Angela's doll is named "Mary Frances" and is about how, "wishing for control twists one’s head sideways, as portrayed by the doll. Images decorate the skirt, representing personal lessons related to lack of control…On the other side of the doll, there is comfort with ambiguity, speaking to a willing heart, a spirit open to guidance. This flip side of the doll reflects this knowledge, and the shine of these small things.”
She said about her process, "I never made a doll before. I never imagined making a doll before this class. I focused on a lifelong personal challenge as my theme-the driving need to be in control. Even when I know it is a pipe dream, I still craved control at all times. Making my doll-deciding on images of both light and dark-forced me to think long and hard. To experience many different emotions and conclusions. In the end, the process helped me to find a modicum of peace and acceptance."
Below are some of the details from her amazing doll. She used detailed embroidery and applique details, bringing in previous considerable experience from stitching and embellishing, though as she said, she had never made a doll before. In viewing these dolls here, I am struck by the similarity between some of her organic symbols and shapes and the work of Hildegard von Bingen above.
She describes below how some of the embroidered elements came from some Dia los Muertes fabric which she has transformed in ways that capture personal meaning for her. The two (or four) sides to her doll, represent opposite sides of her experience, on one side, control and on the other acceptance. Yet there is also a unity among all the elements of the doll reflecting the way in which the flip doll has the capacity to contain opposites..
Read below about the Befriending Our Shadow e-course which is again on offer, this time starting in October, through November. And click the link below to sign up for the early bird pricing!
Befriending Our Shadow
A doll-making e-course about befriending our shadow, using tenderness and compassion to connect with all parts of ourselves. Flip dolls are two sided dolls connected at the waist. These two sided dolls have the capacity to capture divergent views of reality, dark vs light, joy vs sorrow, love vs alienation. In this course you will have the chance, through exploring and befriending your shadow, to discover hidden strengths within. And at the end of the course, your doll will represent and unite both shadow and light. And, important note, you do not need to know how to sew beforehand. This class is open to those at all levels of sewing ability.
Through this course, you will:
Note: The image above and the one below are from altered books that I have been working in over the last year, inspired by a class, The Down Deep, with Fonda Clark Haight. This method of working with goache, water color crayon and collage, has been a wonderful balance to doll making. These drawings have also become my way of downloading feelings quickly and of getting warmed up for the doll making process which usually happens more slowly over a period of weeks and months.
Is your brain racing to try to cope with this crazy world we live in?
Are you feeling these thoughts racing around your brain these days, like I am feeling in mine? Protesters and Black people getting targeted, threatened, injured and worse. Rollbacks seem to come up every day on environmental guidelines that had been protecting our living earth. The pandemic seems to be worsening and its management seems more of a distant reality. Are you feeling, like I am, a pressure to act, along with a sense of helplessness?
A fundamental dichotomy
I can only speak as a white person, with all the limitations that my viewpoint implies, to say we do need to examine ourselves and question our beliefs and take a stand on structural racism. We need to take action steps that are real, such as donating to causes that support activism and joining in protests if we are able. And we need to take care of ourselves and our families during the pandemic, and make sure we are wearing masks, practicing social distancing and staying home as much as possible if we are able to do so.
But what if along with all of that, and underneath it all, we were able to believe that we as human beings are enough? By this I mean that, yes, we are flawed and yes there is a lot to do but also yes, and at the same time, there is nothing wrong with us. It is easy to lose sight of this truth in the face of such scary and catastrophic events.
When we don’t see this truth, there can be a tendency to take actions out of a place of panic or out of a sense of unworthiness. Sometimes this leads us to forget that we are enough, on a deep level. I’m not saying we should ignore what needs to be done. But it is about taking these actions from a place of love and care. And allowing ourselves to rest if we need the time to rest.
An extreme and tragic example of what can happen when we lose sight of this
There was a story the other day in the news about a white emergency room doctor who committed suicide. She had been in charge of an ER, seeing COVID 19 patients every day and as the situation in the ER became more unmanageable, she became more hopeless. The situation was made worse when she contracted COVID 19 and then felt pressured to go back to work before she was fully healed. She became so overwhelmed by the situation and her inability to manage and contain it, that she killed herself. What a tragic story on so many levels.
What really stood out in the article was that this was someone who had always been able to triumph in her life by using her intellect and skills to cope with challenging situations. Yet somehow this situation was beyond anything she had ever faced before. Her previously reliable skills were no longer of use here. She couldn’t power through something this big. She was left feeling alone and isolated, even though there were sources of support around her. And so she became another victim of the pandemic.
What if we are all loved?
So many of us are being faced with overwhelming situations that can lead us to feel alone and unloved. Yet, even if we don’t have a belief in something outside ourselves, like God or spirit, we can find a source of comfort within our own brains and bodies. I’ve been reading and listening to podcasts about ways of using specific and warm language towards the parts of ourselves that find it harder to trust in our own enoughness. We can begin to discern which words to use to comfort the scared or overwhelmed part of our brain. These new studies are showing that we can create new neurological pathways in our brains, which can light up and provide us with comfort. And when action comes from this connected place, connection to the self and others, it is more likely to be sustainable and powerful action.
Doll making as another path to self love and acceptance
Another way of connecting to that nurturing side of ourselves is through doll-making. A few weeks ago I finished teaching the online class, Befriending Our Shadow. It was an amazing experience to witness women making flip dolls, while resourcing a place of kindness within. Some of what they said about this experience was; how surprisingly intense and deep the experience of working with their doll was, how they felt a sense of trust in themselves, in each other and in my leadership, so that they could come to creative solutions and feel safe, empowered and warm. They felt a deep connection to their flip dolls and what the dolls revealed to them. They confronted and sat with the darkness of their shadows, and were then able to find a way to connect with and unlock the strengths within their shadows.
What I love about teaching these kinds of classes is that I get to learn along with the participants and to benefit from the group wisdom. I am still processing the experience. I was able to get a lot of useful feedback in the end which will help me to structure the class the next time I teach it. Two of the biggest takeaways were that the groups were too large and that there were not enough sessions, so I will be adjusting the next series of classes accordingly.
To give myself time to process and also to plan for the fall, I decided to take a break for most of the month of August-probably means a lot of studio time, since we won't be able to go anywhere. I’ll also be revising my website over the month of August so not all of it will be visible during that time. I plan to bring new energy to September, no matter what is going on in the world, and to be on track to offer the next Befriending Our Shadows class in October. So please stay tuned!
Featured doll maker from previous Befriending Our Shadow workshop:
Over the next weeks, I will be posting images of dolls along with stories, created by participants in the previous Befriending Our Shadow workshop. The dolls created in this workshop reflect the wide range of interpretations of the topic and the many ways of making a flip doll. This week I will feature the work of Naomi Zow. What I especially loved about Naomi's doll was the way she invented a way of using strips of cloth with words written on them as hair. She at first didn't like the idea that the "hair" from the other side could be seen at the bottom of the doll. But then she embraced the idea that each side holds elements of the opposite. I also enjoyed witnessing her discovery about the "light" side of her doll, but I will let you read that yourself...
Here are Naomi's words about her flip doll and of her experience of being in the class. See images above.
I have enjoyed sewing since I was in middle school. I make clothing, quilts and home decor and have loved making cloth dolls for almost 25 years. I have loved taking all sorts of doll making classes and to see how different all the finished dolls look. I believe each doll reflects their creator in some way.
When the pandemic hit, I found myself feeling the stress and anxiety of the time. I started looking for projects to do to fill my time and that used materials I already had on hand - and would help me focus on something else than my fears. When I read about Erika Cleveland’s Transformative Healing Dolls, I signed up for the class the same day.
I loved the idea of bringing the psyche into the doll, consciously and intentionally. As i thought about my flip doll I pictured putting all my negative thoughts and fears and anxiety into the Shadow side of the doll and then putting that all away, under the Light side of her. Perhaps I could face my fears and then put them away.
Erika began each class with a meditation - which I loved. Her sample dolls were inspiring….seeing all the different “pairings” of consciousnesses. The focus of the first few classes was on the Shadow side of our dolls. This was easy for me to envision. In fact, I had so many things to say for this side, I felt the need to make the doll bigger than the original pattern so that I could include it all. I put pictures and quotes on her dress. Her hair is yarn mixed with many of my negative thoughts and quotes, printed on fabric.
And then I turned to the Light side and found my vision was quite sparse. This troubled me. This was where I wanted to live, and I had little in the way of a vision for it. It took some time to understand that my Shadow side was full of negativity (imagine a hoarder’s house of stuff, all yucky stuff). My Light side was open and spacious, allowing for spontaneity. Part of my goal is to be okay with that much space and the unplanned moments. Just “being” - happy, joyful, curious, observant - requires much less baggage and lets in much more light. I created for her a garden, each flower being supported by those things I want to welcome more of into my life. Her hair is filled with supporting thoughts and quotes, allowing for my imperfections and my joy.
I found I loved the hand sewing - it let me think about what I was creating and my intentions for the doll; helping me to cement the ideas into my consciousness.
I really liked having live classes and being able to see others work, which inspired and impressed me. I was amazed by those who had never made a doll before. The dolls were all so astounding and so individual, such unique styles.
The live Zoom classes also gave me deadlines to complete my work, which was motivational. I can't tell you how many unfinished projects I have sitting in my sewing room! I also thought the readings, poetry and philosophy shared in the meetings were quite thought provoking.
Thank you to Naomi for your thoughtful words and for being willing to share your doll here.
What’s in my studio right now
Here is some of what I am working on in my studio right now:
This is a flip doll I am calling Living Earth, that I started along with the first Befriending Our Shadow class. It is still in process but so far it is about (on the first, light side) the ways in which we as a human race have damaged and taken advantage of the earth. On this side, there are garbage-filled oceans, sea creatures dying and skeletons in underwater caves.
On the other side of the doll-the darker side-is the living earth which regenerates itself and still heals us even when we don’t reciprocate. On this side there are both whales and elephants going along the “ley” or energy lines of the earth. I recently learned from an animal communicator, Anna Breytenbach, that whales and elephants go along the ley lines of the earth as part of their migration patterns, and by doing this they are essentially reinforcing the strength of the earth. I am working on a skirt to be added to this doll. You can also follow my progress on this doll and see more drawings on my Instagram page.
I hope you were able to get some inspiration from this post, and especially from the featured flip doll by Naomi Zow. Please stay tuned for the next Befriending Our Shadow workshop in October, if that piqued your interest. And I hope you are getting to have some creative time and also that you are finding ways to be kind to yourself in all your 'enoughness.'
It feels like everyone is writing about the pandemic, racism and the protests against police brutality, so it feels like I have nothing new to say about it here. And yet, it feels wrong not to mention it here, to ignore what is affecting all of us every day. What I am doing is trying to educate myself, to read books, attend workshops, and to talk to people about what I am learning. There are so many resources out there. Beyond learning about the ways in which I have been blind to my own racism, and trying to figure out how to do things differently, I am learning how to support black owned businesses and figuring out what actions I can take to fight racism. It feels very small but I am learning and taking it a step at a time.
The other part of what I can try to do is to offer ways to be kind to ourselves during this trying time. In the face of such horrible news every day, it is hard not to get overwhelmed at times and to feel hopeless about the future. Yes, there are people out there on the front lines fighting every day, both against the coronavirus and against all the ways in which racism shows up in our society. We have to do what we can to witness them and support them and where possible, help them to take care of themselves. But even if we are not on the frontlines, we need to take care of ourselves, so that we can show up for those around us in the best way that we can.
Sneak peek at a new flip doll I am working on, along with the Befriending the Shadow class. This one is about the earth as a living being and the impact of human exploitation of resources. I'm working slowly on this doll, using meditative stitching....
In the Befriending Our Shadow class that is currently ongoing, I am blown away by the courage of this group of women as they confront various aspects of the shadow, both internal and in the world around us. And as always happens when I offer workshops, I learn so much from witnessing the growth of the participants. It’s not easy work-just like the shadow of racism in the world outside, internal shadows can be sneaky and slippery and hard to pin down. There is a sort of trickster quality to the shadow because in looking at the shadow, we are threatening its very existence. Self-care, self-compassion and kindness become paramount. And taking time to rest and just be.
So here are some small steps that I can suggest to help in being kind to yourself while dealing with the shadow aspects of the current world situation-whether you are on the front lines or at home trying to care for yourself and your loved ones.
1. Take time to do nothing, much harder than it sounds. Maybe that nothing is lying down on your yoga mat in savasana or “corpse” pose. Maybe it’s looking into your child’s eyes. Maybe it’s staring at the clouds in the sky, from a window or if you can get to a park safely, lying on a blanket on the ground.
2. “Visible mending” this is something I have learned from my friend Julie Booth, intrepid stitcher, fiber artist and teacher of all sorts of stitching methods. This can be quite simple, requiring just a torn pair of pants, a torn shirt or some other piece of clothing, a needle, scissors, some thread and patches of fabric that you have in the house. There are all sorts of stitches that you can use out there-look it up on You Tube and you will find a great variety. I tend to mostly do something called back-stitch. This kind of slow, mindful mending can be very soothing and meditative. And the benefit is you get to repurpose clothes that you might have otherwise given away or thrown out.
3. Listen to audible books. A few years ago, I discovered a free app called Libby, where you can download books to your phone from your local library. You can listen to books while walking, doing dishes, and any other task that might otherwise feel tedious. I have kind of gone overboard with this, and also have been able to listen to some books about racism (see my comments above) with this app. I just finished So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Very powerful and accessible. And I attended this townhall called REIMAGINING SMALL BUSINESS: A town hall to listen, learn & commit to building equitable, anti-racist organizations.
4. Interview a parent or grandparent about their story. I just finished interviewing my mom about her life and now am figuring out how to get it printed. This is just for our extended family. It has been a wonderful experience talking to my mother over the last year or so, in weekly calls on FaceTime and sometimes on the phone. I started with a list of questions from a resource about Oral Histories but then kind of just followed her lead as she talked about what meant the most to her about her life. I learned so many new things about her and we also deepened our relationship.
5. Make a simple flip doll (for yourself or for a child.) Sorry, I had to put that in here. It doesn’t have to be very complicated. I have a pattern available on my website, along with a brief history of flip dolls. But you don’t have to buy anything. You can make a flip doll out of a wooden spoon or a sturdy stick, and attach heads (made out of rubber balls with holes cut out, or stuffed socks, or sea shells-use your imagination!) to either end and then use found fabric cut in a circle to make a skirt. Consider simple themes such as light and dark, happy and sad, earth and sky. Do it quickly without a lot of thought. Or take your time.
Thanks for reading. After this Befriending Our Shadow course is over, I have to decide about next steps. I have missed being able to focus on being in my studio as much as I would like. I notice that when I am teaching a workshop, most of my energy seems to go there. But at the same time, my art is enriched and inspired by what I experience in teaching workshops. They do feed each other. I want to offer more on-line classes, that’s for sure. I feel like I have something to offer that is of interest and that can help people. But I also want to get back to a body of work that I had started last year and get it organized for a show. The dolls that I make are also a kind of service, but in a different way. I will keep you posted here. Stay tuned.
Gabrielle Motter, from Unsplash
“Wildness…it is perennially within us, dormant as a hard-shelled seed, awaiting the fire or flood that awakes it again.” Gary Snyder
I’ve been thinking a lot about resilience in times of difficulty, given the current situation that we are in. I’ve been trying to understand what resources we have to survive this time. Usually I write about and make dolls that reflect how outer circumstances affect our inner world. Being an introvert by nature, I tend to take whatever the external situation is, and bring it down into the cave of my imagination. There I mull over it until I can transform it into writing or into a doll. Lately I’ve been looking more directly at the dark state of the world. Here’s a question that I recently read, “what if, by chance, our time in evolution is a dark night time, a time of crisis and transition that must be understood if it is to be part of learning a new vision and harmony for the human species and for the planet?”
In Limbo, Goauche and stitched panel
Dark Night of the World?
Constance Fitzgerald, writes this question in her article, Impasse and the Dark Night. She suggests that we are currently experiencing a dark night of the world. This isn’t something that has suddenly come upon us, of course, with the current pandemic. She is referring to problems on a world-wide scale that have been building up over time. These include (you don’t need me to enumerate them) the state of our environment, our political situation, poverty and abuses in so many parts of the world, and more. These problems are all dark and scary. Yet there is something hopeful in her question. She challenges us to find a “new vision and harmony for the human species and for the planet.” What does that mean?
Fitzgerald mentions how, in a “genuine impasse,” our usual way of looking at the world is completely shut down. None of our usual routes to resolution are workable. We look to the left and it is a dead end. We look to the right. Another dead-end. And so forth. We are completely stuck. But what if there is a silver lining to this impasse situation? Our left-brain solutions don’t work any more and the impasse “forces the right side of the brain into gear, seeking intuitive, symbolic, unconventional answers so that action can be renewed eventually with greater purpose.” This is such a hopeful way of looking at our minds, believing that we are capable in extremis, of making a U turn. Really looking at our situation in a new way with the potential to bring lasting change.
Guardian of the Sacred Garden side of flip doll
Artists hold the key
I believe that the arts, writing, poetry, dance and art hold the key to a solution. Those who delve into any one of these creative pathways described above, know about those “intuitive, symbolic and unconventional answers.” And in doing so, the artist (and I mean this in a very inclusive way) comes to the place of wildness that is “perennially within us.” In doing so, the artist unlocks both, his or her own hard shell but also opens a window into the healing darkness of nature. By this I mean to emphasize the ways in which the creative process connects us to our inner wildness. And that wildness opens us to nature in all its forms, to wide open skies full of endless stars, to the deepest ocean and to the teeming world that lives under our earth.
The Shadow, from Inside Us to Outside in Nature
I’ve been really enjoying putting together a new e-course called “Befriending Our Shadow” and as I’ve been preparing, I’ve been thinking of the different meanings of the shadow. The shadow can have a very personal and individual meaning. Carl Jung thought of the shadow as the hidden side of one’s personality, holding the potential for the full realization of the self. But the world, the living earth can also have its own shadow. For the e-course I am planning to make an alter ego flip doll along with the participants. For this doll, I am thinking of making a doll that reflects the state of the world. I have no idea how it will look yet or exactly how I am going to make it. I haven’t cracked the “hard shell” of the seed of this idea yet. But there is something about this early stage of an idea that is enjoyable. The not-yet-knowing. The dreaming.
Befriending Our Shadow starts next Tuesday
There are one or two spots left in the Befriending Our Shadow e-course. I want it to be an intimate experience where participants can share their process as they work on their alter ego flip doll. So, after next week I will be closing the doors for this e-course. If you are interested in diving into your own doll-making experience or if you want to learn more, take a look here. And if you feel ready to sign up take a look here.
Here’s my little spiel: I'm so excited to share with you a brand new doll-making e-course about befriending our shadow, using tenderness and compassion to connect with all parts of ourselves. Flip dolls are two sided dolls connected at the waist. I have been fascinated for years with their capacity to capture divergent views of reality, dark vs light, joy vs sorrow, love vs alienation. In this course you will have the chance to explore and befriend your shadow, through making your own doll. And at the end of the course, your doll will represent and unite both shadow and light. And, important note, you do not know how to sew beforehand. This class is open to those at all levels of sewing ability.
Does everything feel magnified in this strange time?
Suddenly personal quirks and habits in yourself can seem exaggerated and if you live with others, you might see their quirks magnified as well. It can feel like everything is under a microscope. That can leave you feeling isolated and lonely. You may feel drawn to escapes like binge-watching Netflix or silly animal videos on YouTube. Or you might feel tempted to blow up the next time your partner questions your cooking methods or when that family member in a Zoom call monopolizes the conversation one too many times.
Annoying as it may seem, there may be something here for us to learn
Maybe this is a time to learn to befriend our shadows. By this I mean those feelings that come up in those frustrating situations like that Zoom call. But not all at once and not without a lot of self-kindness and compassion. It takes a while to develop the patience and self-compassion that is needed to tolerate what comes up. All I am saying is that if we treat ourselves with the utmost care and kindness, there may be a silver lining to all this time of the pandemic. This is not to diminish the experiences of all those on the front lines or without basic necessities. There are many whose situations are dire and in need of our help and attention. But for those of us who have our basic needs met, perhaps this pandemic can be a gentle nudge to do some compassionate self-exploration.
Mary Miseracordia/Hell Mouth Alter ego flip doll about facing the shadow...
Pema Chodron and her struggle with a nun who hated her
One of my mentors, Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron talks about a particular nun, who seemed to hate Pema for reasons she didn’t understand. I think this is in one of my favorite of her books, When Things Fall Apart. Living in close quarters in a monastery, similar to our lives now in quarantine, she had nowhere to escape from the situation. She had to work closely with everyone in the monastery, including this nun who seemed to hate her. Pema would have to interact with this nun several times a day. In any other world, even a traditional work world, she would have been able to ask for a transfer or even get a new job. But like us now in this pandemic, these options were just not available. She just had to live with it.
Releasing into the struggle
So what did she do? In typical Pema-style, honest and direct, she describes feeling sorry for herself, being down on herself and wishing she could escape the situation. And yet at the same time, she turned to prayer and tried to figure out how to release the situation to a larger power than herself. She knew that she couldn’t face this challenge alone. Ultimately, after many months, she finally had a sort of breakdown, a release into surrender. She was able to come to terms with the difficult feelings in herself that this situation aroused in her. Because the struggle in its essence didn’t have to do with this other person, but with parts of herself that she couldn’t accept.
Dragging the burden, goauche drawing with collage
Upside down world
I hope I’m not coming across as too preachy. I’m not trying to say that you have to be spiritual or find religion in order to benefit from this story. But what I get from Pema’s story is that, in a no-exit situation like this, sometimes the only thing we can do, even kicking and screaming, is to finally face and befriend those parts of ourselves that we don’t like.
I’ve been really interested in this sort of no-exit scenario lately, as it is kind of what we are facing right now, both during this pandemic but also in the world situation at large. I’ve been interested in the question; what remains when it seems like there are only dead ends? Because sometimes when all seems hopeless, we are forced to dig into the deep soil of our inner life. When we start poking around in there, we can begin to unearth some unexpected treasures. This is the realm of the shadow, an upside down, Alice in Wonderland kind of world, where nothing is as it seems.
The upside down tree
In the shamanic tradition there is a story of an inverted tree, whose roots become branches and branches become roots. The image of that upside down tree fascinates me. It has stayed in my mind for a lot of reasons, but I want to mention one of them. The upside down tree shows how when we turn a problem on its head, sometimes we can start to see strengths where we may have only seen problems. Following the rules of magic, the branches of the tree, having received nourishment from the light of the stars and sun, can bring that star/sun energy deep into the earth. And the roots, having soaked up food and water from the ground, can release those into the air. If we can imagine ourselves a bit like these uprooted trees, we can begin to see those quirks and annoying qualities in ourselves and loved ones as unexpected strengths. And the shadow becomes light.
Tree of Life, felted panel and The Importance of Trees: Topsy Turvy, felted panel
Befriending the demon
There are so many books out there now about the idea of accepting and befriending our darker side. If you’ve been reading me for a while now, you will know that this is a fascination of mine. In an earlier blog post I mentioned one of these books, Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict by Tsultrim Allione and an article that summarizes this technique.
A very brief example so you can try it out if you want…
Here is a brief meditation adapted from the first two steps of the process of feeding your demon in case you would like to try it. I'm calling it "befriending your demon," though in the original meditation it is called "feeding your demon." The first step of the process is to “find the demon in your body.” And the second is to envision it as a living being. I am going to use an example of a meditation that I did recently on this topic.
Sitting or lying in a comfortable position, take some deep breaths until you feel a bit more relaxed. Then when you are ready, scan your body to see if there is any point of pain and discomfort that you want to focus on.
I noticed an uncomfortable tightness in my left shoulder. It comes up during times of stress and even during yoga, this spot doesn’t seem to relax.
Bring your attention to that place and see if you can visualize more of the shape of whatever it is that is bothering you. You can use images or physical sensations or just colors to try to describe what is there.
I saw that the tightness was sort of horizontal, with two flat parts and a sort of lump in the middle
Next, try to imagine that shape or color or tense sensation as a sort of demon. What would it look like if you could imagine it as a living being?
When I looked closely, I saw that it was a figure lying down, a male figure, with stick legs and arms and a big protruding belly.
Stay with this image for a few breaths, just allowing it to be, and then release it
It was interesting to see this figure lying down. It seemed less uncomfortable somehow, because it was kind of helpless in the lying down position. Later it occurred to me that it could represent a family member with whom I have sometimes had a difficult relationship.
That is enough for now. But in the further steps of this exercise you would then begin to learn what your “demon” is asking for. You “feed” it until it is satiated. And finally though the process of accepting the demon, giving it what it needs, it often changes form into a sort of ally. This ally can be revisited and can even offer you guidance and assistance in future meditations.
Here is an article that gives a quick summary of this the whole process of feeding your demon. You can try it now if you are interested. https://www.lionsroar.com/how-to-practice-feeding-your-demons/
Offer: Befriending Our Shadow: A Doll Making online workshop
If you found the stories of Pema’s release into acceptance or the upside down tree intriguing, I want to tell you about a workshop that I have coming up, where you can meet and explore your own shadow. This online workshop should be available by the end of May. It will encompass some of the themes that I talked about in this post. I am excited to share these techniques with you, both how to befriend your shadow and how to make an alter ego flip doll that can help you uncover your inner star/sun energy.
There is something about the process of envisioning and then bringing into reality a creation of your own that can be very nourishing. The stitching process itself can be meditative. The weaving together of your own story into a doll of your own can feel empowering, And once you are done, you have a reminder of the process that you went through in the form of your finished doll. You can put this doll on your altar if you have one or some other place in your house where you will see it and remember what you have learned.
Click here or onto the above image to learn more about the workshop. Stay Tuned!
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” from the Gospel of Thomas
Your life is a unique creation
Whatever it is that you do that brings you alive, is of value, especially in these times of upheaval and confusion. I am here to encourage you in whatever that new path might be. It might be changing something about how you wear your clothes, or how you arrange the furniture in your living room or it might be making up a song and performing it in a video It’s all good.
A little bit about my own path…
When working as an art therapist in a Harvard affiliated hospital in a big New England city, I used to sit in team meetings, feeling frustrated. What I was thinking didn’t seem to fit with what was being discussed in the meetings. Too often I would sit mute, listening to all the words but not adding to the dialogue. Or if I spoke, I felt like I had to use my patients’ art as examples of pathology. The clinical language of finding their pathology, labeling it and then figuring out how to fix it felt wrong. In those discussions, learned as they were, and as compassionate as many of the other therapists in the room were, it didn’t seem to me that they were listening for the true voices of the patients.
Nowadays, the narrative in the world of therapy seems much more positive and patient focused.
Art school, pregnancy and then exploration…
As I felt more and more that art therapy wasn’t my path, I returned to art school. I got pregnant, then moved several times to different states, following my husband’s work. After that many years of inner exploration followed: writing, experimenting with all kinds of healing methods, art making and, almost a decade ago, doll making. When I first started making dolls, I experienced truth and resonance in what the dolls were expressing. And when I showed my dolls to others, it seemed they too felt witnessed by my dolls. Even though a lot of what was being expressed in my dolls came out of a deep place inside of me, it seemed to also connect to something deep in others.
Can doll making save your life?
Can doll making save your life? I make this provocative statement, believing it is true, as doll making saved mine. They gave me a voice nothing in my life before had ever done. When I started leading workshops, participants often developed their own voice as they made their dolls.
Creating something new can feel scary, (like a path forward in the time of this pandemic)
Many of us are scrambling to try to find a path forward in this crazy time. We are all challenged to create our lives anew. Recently, a post on Facebook I read about a lecture by a Native American wise woman said, and I am paraphrasing, that we have a choice of either sinking into the void of fear or rising to the challenge and using it to grow. This is a lot like the creative process.
Sometimes when starting a new doll, I can at first have that feeling of muteness that I remember from those clinical meetings. What is trying to come out is different from anything out in the world and at the birthing stage just feels alien and strange. But that is because it is alien. It is something alien and new and there is not, as yet, something in the world that exactly matches it.
Just because it feels alien, doesn’t mean it isn’t of value
Creating something new, whether it be a work of art, a new recipe, a new career path, a different path in life than your childhood and upbringing has led you to, can feel scary and threatening. It can feel like there is no path forward, like you are going to fall off the edge of a cliff. But that isn’t true. Just because something hasn’t existed before, doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable being. It’s just new. And though new can feel scary, it doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. That isn’t known until it is out in the world and gets a chance to speak its voice.
New offer on my website, flip dolls…
And if you would like to experiment with doll making, I am putting some offers on line, starting with a mini book about flip dolls to get you started. This would be the first in a series of mini books and teachings about flip dolls. Flip dolls are uniquely suited to the theme of this article because of their capacity to hold opposites. Those therapists back then were not wrong in trying to understand what the patients suffered. What was missing was the ability to see the patients’ strengths in balance with what might have been wrong. The magic of flip dolls is that they are uniquely suited to hold both the pain of an experience and the hidden strengths that experience might reveal.
If you have some extra time, are not out on the frontlines, having to care for children home from school, or otherwise committed, and this sounds compelling to you, please take a look at the offer and stay tuned for more.
I've been making dolls for about five years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am exited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!