One of my first thoughts this morning as I was putting clean dishes away in my kitchen and frustrated that I didn’t have enough cabinet space for everything was, “You must sacrifice some things in order to have other things that you want or would like”. Whoa, where did that limiting belief come from? Yes, I know it’s been hiding in the dark corners of my thoughts for at least 3 decades, possibly all 5 decades of my life! Why is it there? Why can’t I believe that “I can have it all”? It may feel like my truth. But, it isn’t a TRUTH. How do I shift that into a thought pattern that serves my highest good, changes my personal path to abundance and is aligned to the belief that as a Spark of the Divine I am worthy of “having it all”? No sacrifices needed.
Yesterday a fast-moving thunderstorm moved through our community. Many branches and even whole trees came down around town. They called it a microburst. A tree came down across the street from our home landing on the neighbor’s house, severed at the base of the trunk. Today the village tree service is making fast progress to clear the debris. As I was meditating this morning and listening to the wood shredding going on nearby I realized that my limiting beliefs are like “dead wood”. They need to be blown away periodically. Sometimes it takes a pretty strong microburst to do that. We may inspect our thoughts and “prune” little bits of beliefs that are no longer needed, no longer feel TRUE. Ideas that may have served us well in the past, but are now holding us back. Thoughts that may have kept us safe, or were commonly held by our family, friends, community. But now they no longer work for our current situation, our continued growth. Pruning can lead to better health, greater vitality. But still, like the tree across the street from me, we miss the fact that the trunk has a huge portion that is rotting. And until a strong microburst comes through, it stays hidden. Buried deep.
Yes, we can prune and blow away the dead wood, but there is one more hidden lesson here and it came from the humming of the wood chipper. You must transform that dead wood. Mulch it. Make it something new. Something that aids and nurtures the “further growth”. Make it block the weeds. Make it feed the roots of new growth. Rotting wood is necessary. Don’t just blow it away and pretend you don’t need it.
So, today as I work to finish a piece I’ve been creating for quite a while I contemplate what needs “pruning” from my thoughts and where, if anyplace, am I hiding “rotting wood”. (My maiden name was Wood, so this feels “real” to me) How can I examine and transform the thoughts that no longer serve my continued growth? How do I use them to feed the change and transformation of my life? What needs a bigger storm to push it out? The “working title” of this piece has been “can you see the forest for the trees?” How do my little thoughts keep me from seeing the big picture? How do I mulch my little thoughts and beliefs to create fertilizer for my growth?
I believe that I will weather the storms and time will tell.
New Belief of Transformation: I am Worthy and Can Have It ALL!
Inspired by a recent Broadly article, Mark My Words: The Subversive History of Women Using Thread as Ink, I transformed a couple of vintage pillow cases I acquired from my grandmother. I am pretty sure she did the decorative stitching with the rick rack trim. I created this piece for the group exhibit, “She Said | He Said” which opened this weekend at the new Groshek Art Gallery in Chicago. After 30 plus years of sleeping with my husband I can attest to the fact that what comes out of the mouth is rarely the “important stuff”. I thought the use of grandma’s pillow cases was perfect for this sentiment. My grandparent’s were married over 70 years. I wonder sometimes about their “pillow talk” over all of those years.
I also coincidently came across a New Yorker article from a 1996 interview with the Obama’s. I found it sweet that our current President once said this about his wife, Michelle…..“but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.”
Tonight, before I “fall asleep” I think I’ll try to express something more important than what is planned for tomorrow, or what happened today. I will share from my heart, even if I can’t find the right words….
Today I worked on wet-felting a dozen + a few (egg-tras in case of breakage) of my “shaker eggs”. They are an item on my etsy.com shop (See them HERE) that a woman custom ordered this week for her daughter’s 1st birthday party to give as favors for the other children. I filled plastic eggs with a variety of beads (so that each egg has a different sound), wrapped them in wool and then with a lot of wetting, soaping and rubbing I created these joyous sounding, rattles that I am thrilled will be adding to the fun of a child’s first party. This was very therapeutic work today, as the last few days have been busy getting larger artwork finished for shows and deadlines. This is a little more “mindless” and that can be good every once in a while.
As I rubbed and felted these eggs I stared out the window at Momma Robin sitting in the nest she and Daddy Robin made a little over a week ago. Everyday I watch them come and go, following the calls of nature. They picked a particularly interesting spot to set up “housekeeping”. They chose to build their nest within a woven sculpture by artist Karen Gubitz. She calls these works her “Basketrees”. It is a perfect shelter for a bird’s nest.
I want to be like the birds. They trust in their shelter. They trust there will be an adequate food supply nearby for their offspring. They trust in each other, the daddy showing up when needed to give the female her breaks from nest sitting. They trust in their environment, in this world.
If humans are the higher intelligent life forms, why don’t they create an environment they can trust, a world they can trust to provide safety, sustenance, blessings, peace, and joy for themselves and their future generations? I bless the shaker eggs as I send them off to a group of one year old children somewhere in Kansas…Maybe these eggs can be a spark to create this future world we can TRUST. At least they will spark a little JOY. That is the basket I put my eggs into because I don’t think that kind of world is just for the birds.
I believe every book contains a lesson and we are drawn to the lessons we need to learn. I can learn a lesson from a book written by a comedian that is read by several hundred people or from the Bible the most read book ever. (See Shame: Part One) But I believe that the Bible has been read by more people for the reason that it must hold clues that are needed by more people in order to learn and evolve. The story of the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis holds the keys to our fateful beginnings whether you look at it as “fact” or as mythic archetypal lore. I also believe it holds the keys to our collective (mother earth) healing and our return to Paradise.
Well, as I’ve gone further into the story of the Garden of Eden I’ve stumbled into the story of Lilith who in a brief mention in Genesis is a female figure who was created from the dirt like Adam. Because she was created the same way as Adam she saw herself as an equal to Adam which did not please him. So she was either “banished” (or perhaps escaped on her own) “to the East”. Some versions of the story turn her into the water of the river or a willow tree. And she is also symbolized by an owl. Many versions over the centuries have “demonized” her. Eve on the other hand was created from Adam’s rib and therefore was not his equal, but was there to be his “help-mate”. And as most of you know she tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit which meant that Adam and Eve then realized they were “naked” and also “ashamed” of their sin.
As I interpret this tale I see an Adam who wanted someone to love and be his partner. His version of “love” was not fulfilled by Lilith as she was not willing to “hold” his shadows (shame). She wanted to be responsible to her-self and leave Adam to be responsible for his-self. In comes Eve who in her quest to be “all loving” is willing to be the one to bear the weight of shame for Man. This to Adam feels like “true love”. He can prove his love to her by taking control and she can prove her love to him by submission to his love and willingness to overlook his shortcomings. They both think this seems “unconditional” but in reality this love contains a great many “conditions”.
Now I’ll get personal. (Read this next section as though I have both an inner Eve and inner Lilith). I mentioned in my last post that this month of April has brought me to a time of reflecting on my own relationships. Two years ago, April 2014 I came to a moment in time when my inner “Lilith” expressed herself. I had reached a limit to “how much I could bear”. My “Adam” was projecting his wounds onto my inner “Eve”. She had for many years (in an attempt at unconditional love) been willing to let the little digs slide along with the covert (and sometime overt) attempts to control her. She knew on some level her “Adam” loved her and didn’t believe the things he said. But, my “Lilith” finally woke up and showed me that living with this was not “love” in the highest sense. My “Adam” also knew on some level that he was not acting “loving” and that continued a cycle of feeling “less than worthy” of love from anyone, especially his “Eve”. This became a never ending circle of shame and projection. So, out comes my “Lilith”. On Easter Sunday of 2014 she said good-bye and walked away(with the prayer, “forgive them for they know not what they do”). I (as Lilith) was finally able to leave this unhealthy relationship because I came to the decision from a place of love and wanting the best for both my “Adam” and my “Eve”. My “Lilith” had no plans to go back, she wanted respect, independence and equality. But with several days of reflection my Adam reached out. A phone call. A conversation. And this is where the space for healing came in. My Lilith came back. And that is where we leave the story of the Garden of Eden and look toward a future Paradise.
But first I must share a bit more of my reflections. Not just over what healing has occurred over the last two years and that process, but further back to the roots of my personal “Eden”. I have a recollection of complaining as a child about my older brother “picking on me”. He was almost 6 years older than me and much bigger and stronger. I was told something to the effect of “that is the only way he knows how to show you attention (love)”. Oh, to my young mind, that made sense. Because surely no one who loves you would hurt you, unless they didn’t know how to show you real love. And in that moment my inner “Eve” entered and I was willing to hold both his shame and mine, because of course I loved him.
When “Lilith” returns (in my personal story) she doesn’t condone the behaviors of Adam or of Eve for that matter. She forgives them and gives new understanding and strength to their love, helping them to heal their misunderstood (wounded and immature) understanding of love. Ok, in my original thoughts about my personal story I wanted to believe that my inner “Lilith” had the strength to return on her own. Upon further reflection I have come to realize she did some transformation during her time away. Jesus“returned” as his “Christed” self. I now think that my “Lilith” returned as her more evolved and “Christened” self. (Maybe the reason I left during the Easter season to return a few days later???) I have found that I am able to carry a new “vibration” over the last two years. My “Adam” can and does too. When I feel either of us slipping into old patterns and behaviors I pull up an image in my mind of a large fierce bird sitting on my shoulder. The energy shifts. My boundary is respected, his emotions are appropriately expressed. I had thought that this bird was a hawk, but now that I have gone into this story I see it is probably the Owl, the symbol of Lilith. An Owl is fierce like a Hawk, but has the additional attribute of Wisdom. (Note: I by no means claim to be completely “evolved”, but I am aware that my life has transformed and new levels of understanding and wisdom have shown up rapidly once I walked through the fear of being “banished” and claimed my personal power.)
In the last few decades Lilith has become a symbol of feminism. But, I think that version of feminism is still missing a piece and that is the reason feminism isn’t the complete “medicine” for this old sick world (Patriarchy). According to the Gene Keys book by Richard Rudd, the “Opening of the Third Seal” occurs through Universal Love. “This seal heals the human wound of shame. And it is out of this feeling of deep shame that the whole world of hierarchy and competitiveness has come about. “ I feel that the key to unconditional and universal love is not just through the balancing of the masculine and feminine (Adam and Lilith as equals) as many have in recent years proclaimed, but rather in healing the relationship of all three archetypes: Adam, Eve and Lilith. We all yearn for the autonomy, strength and independence of Lilith, but fear the consequences. Can we survive on our own? Will we be lonely? (I know those thoughts went through my mind when I walked out). But the truth is we do not need to live alone as Lilith did in the original story. We can be strong individuals within unconditionally loving relationships. It also doesn’t require we make a choice between Lilith and Eve. The “Evolved” and “Christened” Lilith must return and embrace the Shadow of Adam and Eve’s shame. She has the strength to transmute that immature version of love and transform the relationship. It takes effort, understanding and the Wisdom and Strength of an Owl. But if we are to heal our Collective, this is where the answers lie. Invite your “Lilith” back home. Make that call, open that dialog. You may find she can now embrace Eve (and Adam), that she has Eve-olved. You many find she has the Universal Christ Love within her now to allow you to let go of your shame in being who you truly are. You are not a victim. You have the power within yourself to heal your original wounds, with the Faith that you will be Loved Unconditionally for the Unique and Divine Spark within you. The health of one Cell affects the health of the Collective, micro to macro.
Much gratitude to all of you who witness my story , by sharing this without “shame” I further my personal growth and healing. I dream that I’ll see you soon in Paradise…..until then enjoy my art process. The Stitches in Time give me plenty of time to contemplate this Story and the Lessons it contains.
Oh, Dear. I may really be just about to step into “it” today. But, here I go. I intended this blog to be an honest insight into where I am in my head and heart. And the last few weeks have led me to questioning our collective and personal “shame”. So, what is it? Why do we have it? Does it still serve us? If not, how to we rise above it?
So, how did I get here? Well, the last few weeks I have started a new piece for the She Said/He Said exhibit coming up a the Groshek Gallery in Chicago. I had an inspiration to do a Tree of Knowledge/Adam & Eve/ Paradise piece. It has caused me to explore my memories of my childhood Sunday school lessons regarding the origin story (myth?). April has also been a month of reflecting on a turning point in my own relationships. I don’t want this to get too “long and involved” but, I do want to share enough detail that this makes sense. So, I’ll do my best.
So the story of Adam and Eve for me is about “shame”. We learn shame very young and, I believe usually from our parents. (Confession: I’m a parent, I know I’ve fallen into my shadow and used shaming to attempt to solicit the behavior I desire from my kids).
Last Saturday I went to see comedian, Jen Kirkman where I bought her new book, I Know What I’m Doing and Other Lies I Tell Myself. As I was listening to the Prince soundtrack and waiting for her to come on-stage I started reading the introduction to her book. She starts out with “Ugh, my parents are going to read this.” (I know what she means!) She then goes on to quote another of my favorite funny people, Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul). He once said that people should make their art, whatever it is, “as though their parents were dead”. And why is that? I think it is because we worry about “shame”. Not that we will cause our parent’s to be embarrassed by our work; but that they, our first source of “shame” will bring on that bad feeling within us again. (Please Note: I love my parents and don’t wish to cause them any embarrassment here or elsewhere nor do I wish they were dead, but when I stated I might “step in it” this is it. I just believe that we must rise above this concern for feeling shamed in order to “grow up and evolve”.
And how appropriate that only a few days after the death of the musician Prince while listening to his “Pussy Control” I was reading this book introduction and ruminating on “shame”. Prince was a successful artist who by all outward appearances, rose above a concern for self-shame. In fact by many recent reflections on his life his ability to be his true self and express his true artistry is greatly admired (and envied) by his fans and others. And that is my point I guess. Can we really do our best most creative work if we are in a place of shame? And can we really bring to the world the healing and solutions needed if we are not creating from our highest, best self?
Well, I have gone on here for a bit, and while I have a lot more rolling around in my head and heart regarding the story of Eden, I think I will continue on another day. You see the story of the Garden of Eden includes another figure, Adam’s first “wife”, Lilith. And she takes me on another “thread”. So, rather than try to cover too much “ground”, you will have to wait for “that stitch in time” and for the rest of this story. In the meantime consider the role of “shame” in your life. Is it holding you back from being the highest, true-ist expression of your “self”. What would you do if you didn’t fear (the feeling of) shame?
I’m not sure why it is, but my best ideas and inspiration come to me when I am out in my backyard soaking in the hot tub (time machine) under the moon and stars. Tonight there was a lovely, bright crescent moon and the brightest “star” is actually Jupiter. He is my “action” planet and together we say, “by Jove I think we’ve got this!”
So, tonight I have a plan of action. Looking back in time I realize I am celebrating the 20th anniversary this year of my business, Pamela Penney Textile Arts (where a stitch in time saves!) I started creating women’s art to wear jackets and children’s special occasion garments in the spare bedroom of my home when my children where babies. (Crazy, I know!) I’ve expanded and grown and want to share my joy. Tonight I had a spark of an idea about how I want to go forward this year and share my celebration with the world!
I’m not really ready to share all of the details yet. They need to be “ironed out“. Much like things work in the sewing room, creations don’t really look great until they are pressed! I will be sharing this very soon. So, stay “tuned“. You may want to bookmark this page, as I will post a link to the updated information here as it gets solidified. In the meantime I will leave you with some clues…..
Today was just one of those days when several things came together to fulfill my mission of Saving the World with my Stitches! (Or at least with my assistance.) I had two lovely new students come in to the studio this morning for their first sewing lesson. Two women, friends who decided to take a lesson together. We covered the basics of threading, winding the bobbin and trouble shooting a sewing machine. They also learned to pin and sew a seam with fabric “right sides together” and how to turn corners and sew a curve. We covered trimming and pressing our seams. They are now ready to take on a pattern to create a basic garment over the next few weeks with me.
When they left I had a friend/customer come in to pick up a garment that I had finished for her. Bonnie brought me several old cashmere sweaters a few months ago that she had grown tired of, or they had some minor stains/holes in. She requested that I create a vest for her that was “long” and “drapey”. I loved that her colors were limited to ivory and black. I loved the final piece so much that I wished I could keep it for myself. And even though it took me longer to get it done for her than I hoped, it is still very cold here in Chicago this spring, so she will probably get some time to wear it before warm weather hits. (There have been snowflakes in the air for the last several days and it’s April!)
This afternoon I had another longtime student/customer come in for an appointment to finish up a project that she has been working on with me for the last couple of months. Carol brought in an old grey sweater, a few pairs of corduroy pants and a photo of a bird drawing from a Leo Lionni children’s book. She wanted to use the bird image as inspiration for a pillow cover. We appliqued the corduroy fabrics onto the grey wool, she used blanket stitch and overcast stitches to finish the edges of the fabric and it turned out just adorable! The “piece de resistance” was the vintage buttons she had in her stash to use as the eye.
After all of those activities I had a little quiet time in the studio late this afternoon, so I pulled out my own “mending”. A couple of days ago my son mentioned that he had a hole in the underarm of a favorite “Agave” shirt. He wondered if I could fix it for him. I said, “Why yes! That falls well within my mission statement!” And within two minutes his shirt was back in service (well it may need to go through the wash, but otherwise it’s in as good as new shape!)
Any day that I can stitch, salvage, create, relax, enjoy, mend or teach the skills and help another to do so is a very fulfilling day! A Stitch In Time Saves……Friday!