Friday, April 18, 2008

Art and Craft as therapy

"When our son, Zachary, died in 1979, I felt compelled to craft something — palpable but symbolic of his existence." This is from the Wiisp website, Wisconsin Stillbirth Service Program. I have found this website to be very helpful for me, as a grandma of a stillborn baby. In those first shocking days after our loss of Julia, I found this website through the information packet they gave out at the hospital. The first thing I found and read was "When Your Baby Is Stillborn". It contains just enough facts to calm down all the questions that pounded at my brain and my heart incessantly - Why, How, Why, How, Why? It helped me to get a handle on the confusion so I could function somewhat.

In the section on "Coping With Your Loss" I found this gem:

"Express yourself. Talk about your baby, your feelings, your fears, your grief. Or keep a diary, write a journal, create, start a flower garden. This may help you to see things more clearly."

In creating the bookmarks, sharing them in every way I can, and in making this blog as my offering to the world of some tiny bit of comfort and brightness, I am seeing things somewhat more clearly. I am seeing other people's stories of feeling crushed by sadness, as well as other stories of the ways of overcoming it. I am seeing that even though I don't have a lot of money or a lot of time or a Really Big Idea to put out there and revolutionize anything, I do have something small and simple and bright to share. Sometimes something small is all you need, to acknowledge that yes, you can be feeling a crushing sadness or just be having a crappy day, and also to remind you that even if you don't see the sun behind the clouds right now, even if you don't see any blooming flowers around you, they are still there. The sun will come back, there will be new life and beauty around you, and if you can't get the real thing right now, here is a scrap of paper with some color on it to remind you... and this brings me to another item from the Wiisp website on Coping With Your Loss:

"Above all, give yourself time. Be patient. You will never forget your baby, but you will heal. Healing is an ongoing process; it does not happen overnight. But it will happen."

And that's where I'm at right now. Just trying to remember to breathe, and knowing that time is passing.

Quietness by Rumi

Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with thick clouds.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence.

The speechless full moon
comes out now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bookmarks for Everyone!

Tomorrow I am mailing out the first bookmarks! Mostly to people who saw them on, commented on them, and I let them all know that I am giving them away. They are going out to something like 12 states, two Canadian provinces, as well as the Netherlands and Ireland. I like to think that Julia might have inherited my love of traveling and desire to see the whole wide world. I guess I am getting a vicarious traveling thrill by sending these out. I am not in the business of marketing this blog, but should anyone stumble across it and want a handful of bookmarks, just leave a message and I'll get them out as soon as I can. I have a couple hundred sitting around waiting for new homes, waiting for a trip someplace, and I don't see myself stopping the making of them any time soon.
So get your free glittery, flowerful bookmarks here folks. Made with Love and designed to bring Peace and a moment of happiness to hearts everywhere.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Birth of the Bookmarks

At the time when we learned that Julia had died, I had been making cards. From the scraps of the cards, I had piles of colorful paper that were the exact correct size for a bookmark. Also, because the time of year - late winter/early spring, I find myself surrounded with beautiful flower and seed catalogs. During this very dark, cold time, I would find myself looking at the piles of colorful paper, looking at the stacks of beautiful flower pictures, seeing all the other art supplies and the interrupted projects. And what does a "maker" do when they they don't know what to do? Make things. Making things gives me something to do when I would otherwise just be sitting there doing nothing and feeling as bad as a person can feel. Having something to do makes you feel less powerless. I know too well that there are some things I have power over and other things that I absolutely do not have any power over. So I do what I can with what I have.

When my brother Richard died in 1996, it was a warm spring and I had a greenhouse full of baby plants. I spent all of the time I could working with those baby plants and seeds and making things grow and live. It helps to feel that you are not totally passive and helpless and can do nothing. You have to make something for yourself to do. So now, with the loss of Julia, the best thing I can do to remind myself of life and growth, and to remind myself that the world is not completely dark and sad and cold, is to simply create something bright and lively.

And so the bookmarks were "born".
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Why Bookmarks?

We give so many things to our children and grandchildren. They inherit our hair color, the sound of our voice, our tendency to procrastinate. Some of the things they get from us are like a beautiful gift that they get to keep for their whole life, and other things are more like a weight around their neck that hopefully they will figure out how to shed. I don't know if it has been scientifically proven or not, but I think that we can also inherit things like a love of reading, or artistic talent, or an adventurous spirit, from our parents and grandparents and all the others who came before us. It's probably half Nature and half Nurture, but I do believe that we each carry a spark inside us of what made our ancestors such interesting people.

I am a "maker" at heart. I have loved messing around with ALL of the arts and crafts materials that I've ever encountered since I was a toddler. When I was a tiny kid I used to draw pictures in the mud with a stick, and it's just escalated from there. I am also a very avid reader since the age of 4 1/2.

Crafting and making art has always been a good thing for me to do when I'm in a lousy mental state. I especially get into repetitive motion or assembly line types of projects. There is something very calming about just focusing on a tiny detail, or one aspect of the assembly, and I can sort of loose myself. Then I come back to the outer world and realize that I've just made 20 bookmarks.