First off in the Memory Cloth workshop, Beverly Gordon gave us a lovely welcome and began with an invocation, a blessing that created a nurturing, safe space for us to work in. It felt very warm and genuine, and as I'm not surprised as I look back on those two days and I realize that of all the Maiwa workshops I have taken, this was the only one I felt no competition or defensiveness with or from the other participants. (That may sound a little weird, but in the past I have felt like a token country mouse amongst the apparently wealthy, well-traveled matrons of exclusive suburbs. But that's another post.) ( And I have to clarify here, I'm sure that attitude was much more of a problem from my end than theirs.) It was a lovely, varied group of women with a high-level range of skill and experience.
Beverly showed lots of slides of the many ways people from around the world have commemorated, celebrated or found catharsis in expressing themselves through cloth. From the South African Truth and Reconciliation embroideries to the arpilleras of Chile to contemporary "Passage Quilt" making workshops led by Sherri Lynn Wood, people have found healing in stitching. It was an inspiring slide show. Beverly then had us do a few writing exercises to help get the vivid details of memories flowing.
It wasn't until after lunch that we finally got to work. Beverly and Maiwa had supplied all the materials and tools we would need. Some of us had brought materials of our own to work with as well. I had brought a little handknit dress that my mother alleged I had worn as a one or two year-old. I have no memories of wearing the dress and there aren't any old photos to back up her story, but it has resided in my cedar chest for the last twenty-odd years, ever since she had been going through some things and decided the dress could live with me.
Val Galvin at her rug hooking studio last June, I saw this list of "97 Ways to Encourage and Praise a Child" on her fridge door. Val was retiring from twenty-five years as a daycare provider and I could just imagine how much her kids would have loved her relaxed, open-hearted, cheery way of being. At the same time my heart sank a little when I though how much I would have loved to have heard a little more positive encouragement as a child. It just wasn't done back then. Too much praise would spoil a child, give them a big head, and make them think too well of themselves. No one had ever heard of such a thing as self-esteem, and if you had a time machine to go back and explain the concept to them, there would be nothing but derision.
John Kameel Farah, did I realize that my latest bout of insomnia had eased. Awake, during those 3 AM rounds of self-flagellation, I couldn't sleep, going over my various transgressions of life in excruciating detail. Since finishing the dress, my wakefulness has diminished. My ruminations, if they occur, are mostly about recent events.
Well, I've gone off on quite a tangent. Hardly anything at all about the wonderful things my fellow participants shared. And they say bloggers are narcissists.
P.S. Looking at the dress, I think of it as "She". I have a relationship with her. The words are directly about relationship: "You mean a lot to me", or observational: "You tried hard". There is always an implied relationship contained in encouraging words - the inner/outer, the parent/teacher/child, the subject and the object. I like that.