This is one of my favorite pieces of music. It says so much about our integrity and sacredness as human beings. I hope you enjoy it as much as i do. It is definitely on my regular listening
This may end up being a series post because it involves the story of a life. It is my hope that this may serve to help anyone who is having difficulty coping with life. It is a true story. It is my story. And I am feel blessed to be able to share it.
I was inspired to write my story when I read a beautiful and touching post by a person whose blog I follow, http://www.3Bones.wordpress.com. Almost everyone in this life goes through some sort of tragedy or issues that can change a life forever. Challenges, no matter what the nature of them can be, are a blessing. The reason they are a blessing is that without them, we might never learn compassion for others, or how to help them when they need it most. We might never experience the beauty of life because life is full of valleys and mountains, sunshine and shadows and darkness. And we might never develop a sort of strength and true understanding of a journey. We might never develop faith in some form, from a belief in a God and a loyalty to that belief, or a sort of spirituality that we recognize in the things, people and places that surround us every day.
And lives – all lives – are sacred in this world. They are here by design – all of them. All forms, all shapes, all colors and names we have made to categorize each of them. They are needed to help the earth and the universe to survive. Even the smallest grain of sand is sacred. It has a special function though it may seem insignificant. Nothing is insignificant in this world.
I want to let you know that this story contains elements of life and death. It contains elements of goodness and love and kindness. And it also contains elements of evil and hatred and the horrible acts that human beings are capable of enacting upon selves and others. This is an opportunity for anyone reading it to perhaps change your thinking about human life on this plane.
The Tin Lady is not only an art doll that I created from found objects. If you look at her carefully, you will see that she is imperfect. Perhaps we can all be both imperfect and sacred a the same time. Most of my art falls into the Wabi Sabi category I have written about in the past; it is an appreciation of the imperfect, the impermanent, and the miracles that can be appreciated in the simplest of things. It serves to remind us that we are all here but a short time in the overall scheme of things, and that life is not a destination, but a journey every day that we live.
So with this brief introduction, the next part of the story will be told in a second post. I do not have a schedule for this. I will write more as I am able to continue. Thank you one and all very kindly for being here.
Thumbing through a newspaper one day, I was stuck by a photo of this truly incredible woman. So petite and delicate in appearance, who would ever imagine that she is the national hero of the people of Myanmar, Burma, and that this woman almost single-handedly has led the people in her area toward a major resistance against the military regime that has so consistently prevented the people from gaining freedom and that has consistently brutalized and murdered the citizens in that country for so many years.
To read more of her story, go to: http://burmacampaign.org.uk/about-burma/a-biography-of-aung-san-suu-kyi/. Like this art quilt above, this story is unfinished, but it is good to know that in these difficult times, someone is willing to sacrifice everything for her country and the people in it.
Women are rising up in this world in so many ways to fight for rights, and many like Aung San Suu Kyi have dedicated their lives to help others in their countries to be able to live fully without fear. I would love to hear about your special women heroes in this life and what they have done. We need to make others aware that freedom is not free. Like the many male heroes who have given their lives to give this greatest of gifts to all of us, we need to find ways to ensure that they are never forgotten.
As we continue a season of holidays, I want to wish you the very best life has to offer, no matter what set of holidays you choose to celebrate. I wish you peace, joy, and an appreciation of the sacred in this world.
This is a time of renewal, and a time of quiet contemplation about the world that we have been given in which to have the experience of being an important part of the universe with its many different dimensions. As the world seems to sleep, new life is forming quietly in so many different places and going unnoticed until it bursts forth in all its glory when spring awakens.
Although I am normally of a cheerful spirit and am always trying to provide inspiration for others, today is a truly difficult day.
I have been working with physically/developmentally/emotionally challenged children and adults perhaps since the 1970’s when my younger brother came home from Vietnam, 100% disabled with a TBI, a spinal injury, and permanent PTSD. It gave me the heart for this work and I have done it ever since.
It has been a good journey, and I am glad that sometimes in the face of tragedy, we are led to do things to help our communities and to help others who are going through challenges.
Yesterday morning very early, I got a call from one of my best friends who helped me to create and run our tiny, but successful nonprofit for some 15 years, providing exposure and professional development for physically challenged artists. Barbara Williamson is a paraplegic lady I met more than 15 years ago when she was looking for help to become a professional with her own business selling her fiber arts work. It was natural that we came together to do the work we did with virtually no money for all these years.
Barbara Williamson, “Buddha’s Garden,”
one of three pieces left because they are in an exhibit in another town
Barbara was shot point blank by a felon when she was in her mid 20’s; the bullet missing her heart by one inch, and leaving her permanently physically challenged. She was approximately four months pregnant at the time, and miraculously, the baby was born early, but survived, so today she is a mother and grandmother. All these years, Barbara has been a productive fiber artist, a writer, and she has contributed so many things for her community and for others in need.
The phone call was short; she, her caregiver, and her dog had to evacuate their town. There was a huge fire coming up the mountain in the valley below her home. As we tried to hear the news throughout the day yesterday and today, we heard that the hospital has been destroyed (all patients evacuated) two blocks from her home and the fire is blazing through the entire town. My friend is presumably safe for they got out early, but all of her artwork and her sewing machine and everything else had to be left behind. This is some 15+ years of art quilts that have been in many exhibits including international ones, and which we were preparing to sell on a website we were creating for her.
But they were more than just that. They were the reason she has survived cancer, a burst artery, a stroke, and any number of other physical challenges through these many years. There are tears in my eyes, but there is joy in my heart, for what is taken from us today will live on in our memories over the many years. Perhaps I have impacted her life in a positive way, but she has brought so much more to mine.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw – Dramatist (1856 – 1950)
I was thinking about how much fun I have had when I allow myself to play freely as this child is doing. The freedom to explore the world we don’t see everyday, sometimes when it is right in front of us, is a wonderful thing.
I remember when I was turning 65, how I decided to put on some African music I had and begin to dance to it naked in my own home. And then I got the idea to paint my breasts and make prints from them onto cloth. I had no idea what these simple parts of my own body look like from a different perspective and it just seemed a fun way to play. There is nothing strange or silly (well, silly I can live with) about it. It was playing, and discovering, and it was immensely a fun way to celebrate. In the end, the two prints I made – one white and one multi-color, ended up becoming quilts that looked nothing at all like breasts.
I once saw the installations of art by a famous artist who did basically the same thing with parts of his body he said he never saw before. It was amazing, for he had manipulated the images that he got, and nothing was even recognizable as whatever it was originally, but it was immense fun to think about someone to be unafraid to play and to discover whatever there was to find.
It isn’t just the human body with which people are afraid to play and discover. It is things we all take for granted. The cracks in sidewalks, the marks on trees, the forms of all sorts of things out in nature, and perhaps a million other things that we really don’t know at all except from a distance. It isn’t just about playing with toys or playing games that we played as children. It’s about getting to know the world we live in, up close and personal. Have you played lately?
Photo courtesy of Pexels
This is a state of depression or apathy caused by comparing the actual state of the world with an idealized state. – Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
And it is all gone.
How did humanity
survive through the centuries
With so much destruction,
violence and hatred?
We keep learning geography,
spelling and math.
We learn how to write
and how to graph.
But we never seem to learn
how to appreciate
How to be happy
where we are
with what we have,
or what we don’t have,
who we are,
and who we are not.
You have a light,
But you carry it in your pocket
Never allowing it to light the path ahead.
Instead, the light, deprived of its true function
Grows dimmer and I begin to wonder
What will happen to the light
If day after day, year after year
That light is deprived of what it was
Meant to fulfill in this world.
The Boogeyman is something I think most of us can relate to. At some point in our childlife, something bit us in the bum, or some other crazy thing like that, and we would get up and start looking under our beds, in the closet, and any other potential place where the Boogeyman might be hiding before we could go to sleep. Oh, the fear, the tingling, creepy fear. And yet, night after night, we would go through this ritual before drifting off to sleep. Was he there? (Notice that the Boogeyman was always a “he” whether you were a girl or a boy.) And if he was there, what on earth would help us to protect ourselves, or to make him go away? In the end result, it wasn’t about any of this. It was just about making sure he wasn’t there. There were probably as many, if not more, nights when we didn’t think about the Boogeyman. We would climb into our beds, pull the covers up, and drift off to sleep without a worry in the world.
Perhaps the Boogeyman was our way of empowering ourselves over things which we had little or no control. We were the ones who summoned the Boogeyman, and we were the ones who assured ourselves that he was not going to hurt us. And each time we grew more confident until one day we went to sleep, knowing that the boogeyman was not going to ever hurt us.
Interestingly, in our adult lives, although we had stopped summoning our Boogeymen, instead we began to summon forth our inner demons. Little by little we called for the Boogeymen to view our accomplishments in life, our creativity, telling us how lame or how otherwise terrible it was. We subject ourselves to endless fears and insecurities about what we so until I honestly think a visit from the Boogeyman would be a welcome relief.
We no longer put our Boogeymen to bed, but keep them out so that we can summon them any time of the day or night. They no longer have to hide under our beds or in our closets. They can appear in full daylight and their power over us is more terrifying than any Boogeyman we ever envisioned. The boogieman was all alone. We could dispatch him pretty quickly and go to sleep feeling as though everything was right in the world. But the demons summon more and more friends until we are absolutely overwhelmed, and there is absolutely no dismissing them. They are fearful even when we are very familiar with them.
Is it any wonder we get depressed when the boogieman no longer is confined to just beneath the bed and in the closet, but fills our everywhere and with not just one, but many demons? And the worst thing is that the demons are difficult to fight because they are so shapeless and nameless. “:He who shall not be named . . .” comes to mind directly from the Harry Potter stories.
Try to remember how you put your boogieman away eventually because you outgrew him. You no longer needed him to empower you. Perhaps the demons are there too so that we can empower ourselves once again as adults who are creative and productive. We really know how to do it. Sometimes we just have to remember. And we have to be willing, like Harry Potter and his friends, to do battle with them. As my friend Spencer used to always say to me, “Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright in the morning light and do what’s right with all your might.” Sometimes we might not have a lot of might to fight with, but we need to remember most of all not to give up in the presence of the demons. They may seem more powerful than we are, but we have something they don’t on our sides, and that is our enduring faith that something we are doing is right, and something they are doing is very, very wrong. They will never be as powerful as us because they cannot be named, and we have been named. Without a name, you are nothing but a shapeless form without meaning, so whatever meaning those demons have is meaning we are choosing to give them.
For those of you who are fighting your inner demons, I hope that you will not only begin to see the demons for what they are, but to realize that you can dismiss them just as you called them forth. You might even want to make some art of all the demons that haunt your creativity as I have done with mine. Sometimes giving them an actual persona can show you just how silly they really are and when you hang them where you can see them, you can deal with them more easily.
The little demons on this page are Boobalala and Zombie Lombada Man, some of my own little artsy demons. Boobalala was made by painting part of my anatomy and then pressing it to cloth in one of those primitive women’s ceremonial experiments artists sometimes do. He is actually the last remnant of another piece I created.
My friend, Barbara Williamson and I worked hard to get this book published. It is the culmination of our 10+ years together running a very small, but very successful nonprofit organization called Fiberarts Connection of Southern California. We assisted physically challenged fiber artists with getting exposure for their work, and also helped those who needed it with professional development. A lot of folks don’t realize that when you have a severe physical challenge, you might not be able to get out and about. Even if you have transportation, many facilities and open public areas are not equipped for wheelchairs, and just getting transportation from public sources can be a huge undertaking. Sometimes when you get where you are going, you don’t get the service you really need either. So we tried very hard to cut through some of that as well as creating good exhibits for the artists and for practically free.
Barbara has been a wonderful and inspirational fiber artist, producing some award-winning quilts, being the featured artist in an international exhibit, and having articles written about her. She has long had her own fiber arts business selling her work, and her blog is http://www.threadscapestudio.blogspot.com. And she served as volunteer Secretary for our tiny nonprofit while her caregiver served as our Treasurer. We never has any money but despite that we still managed to get everything we needed done. Enjoy!
The book is available from AmazonKDP.com. Thank you very kindly. We hope that you will read the story of these 23 amazing fiber artists and see their beautiful work. A lot of them are internationally renown for their unique work.