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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:
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!