Monday, June 23, 2008

Picture diary

Thanks for the comments. I read and appreciate every one. When I asked if anyone was still there it meant I hoped you hadn't stopped visiting because there was nothing new to read! I must say since I started using bloglines my blog reading has been greatly simplified. Instead of rabidly going to every site just in case I missed something new, now I can see instantly who has posted and I can relax about all the rest. I am spending less time on the computer, but am still in touch and up-to-date. Phew.

Which leaves more time for sewing!!!! I have been going a bit mad lately and loving it!

OK I promised photos. First - from my birthday. Here is the cake. Black Forest Cake. YUM.

And my oldest friend called late in the day and came by to join us for dinner. We hardly ever get to see each other any more - she lives an hour or so away and now I work shifts with less holidays its too easy to let time slip by. But we manage 1-2 visits per year and it is always such a hoot to see her.
We met when she moved to our area at the start of year 5. For the only time in my childhood or since I was picked to choose a softball team. Such a responsibility! I was always picked last so I knew the anguish of waiting to hear your name spoken. So I chose all the kids who usually waited and waited, including all the interesting kids who were new or who had accents or different coloured skins. It is a decision I have never regretted, least of all because it brought Bobbie into my life. We were inseparable from that moment on. It still feels like that. Can you tell?

I was her bridesmaid at her first wedding. The first quilts I owned were made by her for each of my children - I still have them and treasure them. She is such an inspiration to me. She went back to uni to complete her high school, and became an environmental scientist. She is a grandmother now, and still her own self. I just love her. It was so good to see her.

Here is a very bad shot of the Michael Buble concert, which is badly out of focus but conveys something of the atmosphere. Jeez it was a great concert.
Here is a quick excited photo of my sister and I in the audience. Even though its crooked, I like this shot. She is not usually so pale, she's been unwell. Yep, that is the favourite pink cardigan of the moment getting another outing!

Something else exciting happened last week. I received my labels. See? Its a name that a family friend used to call me (my family call me by my middle name) I accidentally ordered iron-on ones (sigh) which don't necessarily suit every fabric I use to make a bag, but they still look very satisfying to have on my products. Even if sewn a little rustically.
Speaking of rustic, here is the bag I just had to make on Friday instead of doing housework (I don't recall making an active choice - was the housework ever a realistic option? ;P )
I had found the orange embroidered jeans in a favourite op-shop on Thursday. They fitted Steff but she felt she wouldn't wear them. Ditto the black chunky cord Diesel jeans we had found a few weeks ago. So....she requested a shopping bag. Et voila!
I was very brave and even put in an internal zipped pocket - my first time - piece of cake. Everything on this bag was chosen for recycledness (is that a word?). The outer fabric, the lining fabrics, the zip, everything had been used before. I'm really pleased with it. It wears my label outside and hers inside!

Which brings me to the weekend....sigh. It was an oasis. I took a healing doll that I had started back in February sometime, that I got stuck on. It was meant to be my inner child, but she looked so vulnerable that I just couldn't move forward with her alone. She needed longer arms to reach out to people. I was a long lanky kid (snort), and while the hair colour was about right, and she had big brown eyes I felt stuck. I knew that if I took her with me to a safe place she would be able to evolve into herself.

We chose messages from a set that spoke to us. Mine were about not believing and living old, negative messages, and how I could create new beliefs about myself, about how I am alright NOW. These tapped into some thought patterns I needed to change. Remember don't believe everything you think ..... So I set to work.

We learned about the orphan archetype and the pros and cons of examining the orphan within us all. We heard the story of "the Ugly Duckling". We journalled. The opening sentence was "I want..." A very powerful tool. We danced through a guided meditation through a four part garden with gates dividing the areas. We experienced the long hard winter that precedes transformation and growth. Rocks for grief, sticks for anger, water for despair, and sand for feeling depleted. We then went for a silent meditative walk about the bush. It was the winter solstice and people all over the world were also engaging in that exercise simultaneously. We were encouraged to see if anything called to us on our nature walk and to collect them for inclusion in our dolls or journalling. The sticks of anger had called me during the meditation. It was time to examine their purpose.

The other women had mostly not made the dolls before and we all had kits in front of us for a new doll. So did I. So I made a new one as well as working on my inner child doll. She had come with me as plain Jane. I was called that a lot as a child. This weekend I made her/myself blossom.

I used the sturdy sticks I collected to first of all give plain Jane a backbone. Next I entwined some curved sticks to her to give her longer arms to reach out for help and comfort. Next she needed to stand taller, so some very strong branches were bound to her short legs. These new limbs were bound in a tartan that reminded me of the little tartan pinafores I wore as a child - with a plain cotton top and a beautiful pleated skirt. They were worn with a pretty white blouse and a cardigan over the top. My new doll seemed more confident already. She had been mousy and brown before, and I look hideous in brown. She wasn't happy being brown. As the dove-grey and green tartan strengthened her she seemed happier. Suddenly I knew she needed more green. A scrap of sequinned green spoke to me. I bound this across her heart. There were some leaves that filled a gap or two, then she sighed contentedly. At last, you are getting to the heart of me. Returning to the treasure chest I found a small sculpted baby, painted gold. This touched a very deep chord. The little one was immediately tucked next to her heart. Scraps of green gingham, more layers of beautiful dyed green cotton with leaf prints, a few more sequins, a tie or two, more hair, a flower for blossoming happiness, a jewel or two, a few pearls, following our instincts. Then someone brought me an amazing gift. There, in a small velvet covered matchbox, was a tiny baby with a message in the box that read "I love you just the way you are". It was just the message she/we needed to hear. She held a stick to acknowledge the rage at her mistreatment, but it was softened by a growth of green, as she didn't want it to define her. It now looks like a wand to achieve transformation. A friend across the table said, you realize, don't you, that she is Mother Earth. A bell rang somewhere. Many people call me an Earth Mother midwife. Others have called me a Demeter figure. But of course. My inner child had blossomed into a manifestation of something that feels very natural to me. An earth mother. I was profoundly moved by the whole experience and can barely take my eyes off her. She is just right. I had never imagined that I would create something as beautiful as she is. As green as she is. But she is "No More Plain Jane" now. And I love her just the way she is.

The white doll I am holding is my midwife warrior I made in the first healing doll workshop I attended. She is full of symbolism and has a long story too. Her new red sister is also related to the meditation. She is a goddess of rage, who trails her anger behind her and has no problem expressing it. I think her story is one for another day....

Here is our group with their dolls at the end of the weekend. We all found it a very powerful and symbolic exercise, an oasis in our busy lives as mothers of children with special needs, some bereaved mothers. We had danced, including a belly dancing session, journalled, ate great food, talked, laughed, cried, discovered, meditated, slept and relaxed and shared an incredibly intimate weekend.

I am very lucky to have access to this type of workshop. It is a lifeline for me, a tool to have an inner life that allows my inside to match my outside. This doll making is a stunning exercise when taken as a whole 30 hour journey in a supported psychotherapeutic environment with trusted friends. And now I entrust the sharing of it with you, dear reader.

Peace and love.


calamity kim said...

you are lovely and so are your dolls and thank you for sharing that story. I feel so much better- that's healing for everyone.

Alby Mangroves said...

I went on a workshop weekend many years ago. I felt like an impostor at first, among those fragile, hurting women, but somehow, when I left, I was a different person, no longer having to hang onto my grief. I am really happy that you had such a wonderful experience. When I first read your blog, I thought you were a Demeter-type midwife and I loved seeing your No More Plain Jane.