I used my doll making to help me get out of an abusive marriage after 17 years. The transition process was very difficult and painful, but very much worth while. Often women only have our "hobby" as the thing in our lives that is totally "ours" and the thing that we can use to make ourselves feel better in times of crisis…and to see that we are Not the unimportant, cringing identity that the world or our husbands or significant others see us as.
In an extremely difficult situation, it is also helpful to have the help of a trained professional, although when my mother was in therapy in the 60's, the doctor tried to impose the culture’s view of women's role as submissive caretaker on her, which made her really depressed. For myself, I've found therapy, in combination with my journal-keeping and doll-making to be very helpful both after I left my husband, and when I've had to go back to a “regular job” part time to support my art habit.
I write in my Dream Journal almost every day, starting with whatever I remember from my dreams. I started keeping a journal when I was 22 and with my abusive fiancee. I've never stopped, but then I am very verbal. I find that the art I make often reflects what's going on in my emotional life, and sometimes my pieces have seemed disturbing to others, but I've resigned myself to the fact that I don't do pretty or popular and am focusing on making what pleases me and working for the select audience who respond to what I do and the quirky way I do it. Maybe you’ll recognize something that resonates with your own experience.
My father was a doctor, a psychiatrist, as well as a recognized artist in a small area of photography (railroads), and even though he wasn't grown up enough to be a perfect husband to my mother, I have taken his example of following one’s dream to heart. Even if that necessitates having a “regular” job at the same time.
He died when he was 62, and I am going to be 66 soon. He followed his heart and didn't postpone doing what he wanted to. Even though I rebel at the notion of having to Make a Living, I am choosing work that I don't mind too much--healing with occupational therapy for my job, and with art as my life. I have seen first hand and in my reading how closely the mind and body are connected. When we are depressed and angry, there are more openings for the constant environmental bombardments of germs and other bad actors to come in. When we are more centered in our spirits, we have more resources with which to fight---and to accept whatever happens. I find that listening to my instincts keeps leading me along the path that's right for me. I am working on mindfulness in my own life and in my work. In re-reading this article I wrote 6 years ago, and once again thinking about giving up the salary safety net for Art, I see how my life has proceeded in spirals with reoccurring themes, always leading me back to making Art in all its forms for making my living…my Life!
I began this article as a response to a student in my Transformative Doll Making class years ago. With my move to the Northwest in 2005, I left a long relationship, something that felt was Selfish, but necessary to my own growth. It seems that I have had to learn to forgive others, my parents and first husband, and now to work on forgiving myself—for doing the necessary work of taking care of myself, for being less than Perfect in the world.
I've learned that I have a very nurturing nature, and so my “day job” in an orthopedic clinic allows me to give to my patients and still protect my solo time at home. Now paintings and writing books and articles have joined dolls as ways for me to work with my understanding of my life as I go through it. Truly, we never “get it right.” Living Well is always a work in progress, we may improve our skills, but the process continues as long as we are alive.
My paintings will be view able in the More Art section of my Gallery at www.pamelahastings.com, and in my blogs and Facebook. I use my life as raw material for my Art. I welcome your comments.