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More or less monthly posts about Transformative Healing Dolls
I seem to still have summer on the mind, as you can see in the photo to the left. It was taken on Jackson Lake in Wyoming, where we took an extended family vacation. One day my husband, son and I went out on the Lake and paddled past the awe inspiring Grand Teton mountains. (And between you and me, everyone looked at me like I had three heads when I said this, but I heard the mountains speaking to me, in some sort of deep voice. They have an incredible spiritual presence.)
So easy to get weighed down by our to do lists...
But I'm back home now and it's so easy to get caught up in the "things to do" each day, especially at this time of year. It's the time of easing into the transition from long summer days to shorter, cooler fall days, with all the responsibilities of work, school and our social calendars. What can drop through the cracks are intangibles such as a meaningful interaction with a co-worker or child, a tiny goal achieved, such as making a slight shift in a relationship, or a moment of seeing the sun glimpsed through the leaves of a tree still full with summer leaves.
What can help to sustain us through the busy months ahead?
One thing I am doing to hold onto the intangibles, such as that moment in the canoe on Jackson Lake, is mentally creating a three-dimensional image of the moments from summer that fulfilled me. I am already referring back to that memory, keeping it alive in my mind so that I will have it when I need it.
Another technique that I have been using for a few years now is to "track" those elusive daily moments, in a calendar that I create at the beginning of each year. At the beginning of the year, I choose a word that will be important to me during the year, usually something I want to bring more of into my life. A few years ago it was synthesis, last year it was joy and this year it is clarity. I create my own layout for each month, using shapes that mean more to me than the square box of a traditional calendar....
Fun with books
Then I "track" that quality throughout the month by marking in some way in the calendar book, on the dates where I felt particularly moved by that quality. I've used: push-out windows, tabs, stickers, colored dots, all sorts of techniques. I've since added the tracking of a few areas of my life where I want to have balance, noting them on the days when I am engaged in them. This way I have both a visual reminder of meaningful moments and of the balance of the different areas of my life. Below is an example of a calendar page from a couple years ago. I was using pull-out tabs at the side to track various qualities and activities.
I'd love to hear what you do as a way of reminding yourself of what really matters. To respond, please post below. Thanks. Happy Fall.
Art imitating life...
I've noticed a parallel between my creative life and my daily life. I'd like to share a recent insight about what happens when the going gets rough. We've been having some family challenges lately, occasionally making it difficult to get to my studio. And I've been working on a big project for an up-coming show, requiring mechanical engineering, something that's not my strong suit. (I've talked about this big doll before, a big "alter-ego" flip doll, which when completed, will hang from a trapeze and flip to one side or the other. It sounds great, but believe me, this is turning out to be a lot more challenging than I expected!)
What's wrong with "something's wrong here?"
As an artist, you have to learn to fail. You try one technique and it doesn't work. Frequently you have to start all over again. Feelings such as frustration and doubt can come up. What I've noticed is, though, is that the feelings themselves aren't the problem. What gets me really stuck is when I think, "there's something wrong with feeling this way," or worse, "there's something wrong with me for feeling this way."
This feeling of "something WRONG," can become as weighty and challenging as if that bison (above) from our family vacation last month in Wyoming, were heading straight at you (more about that another time-it was a great vacation!)
What is "wind-horse?"
Easing into an acceptance of whatever feeling comes up seems to be the key to moving forward. It's so interesting how art mirrors life (always.) As I described in my last newsletter, this doll is about the contrast between a side of me that looks more to the outside world for guidance, is concerned with the opinions of others and hears an internal critical voice (this is the Barbie, Anita Bryant side,) and the other side, Miranda with Pegasus, a woman bareback on a horse, who is free, guided internally by something called (from the Shambala tradition, meaning acting from a strong central core of courage, balance and freedom) "wind-horse." The doll reflects my own movement back and forth from one side to the other.
Some keys to moving forward when the going gets rough
Here's what I've discovered so far as a key to moving forward:
1. Having a "believing mirror," someone to whom you can turn and who provides loving support as you face challenges. This can be an internal part of yourself. For me, my dolls provide that mirror, though I of course also rely on the support of those believing mirrors in my life, my husband, friends, mentors and guides, wherever I may find them. And it's so wonderful to be able to turn for help when I get really stuck on a technical challenge.
2. Recognizing the difficult feelings as they arise, whether it's self doubt, frustration, impatience and accepting them as a natural part of the process, uncomfortable, yes, but sometimes necessary. It's when I think these feelings are wrong that I get stuck.
3. Remembering the "end game." It's when I think things like, this situation isn't fair, or it should be resolved now, or any other way in which I try to force a solution that I get stuck. It's when I think that this doll has to be perfect, or it has to provide a certain result, that I get stuck in my art. But when I think about what I am learning from the process, how I am being given an opportunity to grow and learn,that I can rest in the process, knowing that the result isn't really the goal.
A note about some up-coming programs
There it is for all it's worth. My insight for the month. Below I write about two up-coming programs-one, a workshop I will be offering at the "Smith Center for Healing and the Arts" next month, and two, the venue for our "Materialized Magic" show, which will be coming up in March. Stay tuned as I will be writing more about both in the coming months.
NOTE: The Smith Center workshop and the Del Ray show aren't yet up on their websites as of this writing. Please check their websites for updates.
Please tell me what you think. You can write me by answering this e-mail or go to my website and enter your comment there or on the blog page. www.transformativehealingdolls.com
I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!