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More or less monthly posts about 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.
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!