I am delighted to still be part of Operation Sock Monkey Western Division—the relationship is going on 10 years now! Time for an update as to what we have been up to lately!
Since 2005, Operation Sock Monkey has raised nearly $10,000 in support of the humanitarian work of Clowns Without Borders. Partnerships with Clown Sans Frontieres (Montreal) and CWB chapters in the United States and South Africa have helped to bring joy and laughter to children affected by trauma around the world. OSM has sponsored CWB expeditions in Haiti, South Africa, Asia and Swaziland, sending clowns to bring smiles and laughter and promote healing through joy. In 2009, OSM partnered with Woza Moya, an HIV/AIDS community resource centre in Kwazulu-Natal South Africa, to teach the art of sock monkey to local artisans. The Woza Moya project is now producing sock monkeys for sale in craft shops in Capetown and Durban, proceeds from these sales will supplement the income of underemployed crafters in the Ufafa Valley.
I initially came connected with the founder Lindsey Hodgson when I was working at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School where I used sock monkey making in my art therapy. The students and staff and community members created hundreds of sock monkeys for local and global initiatives.
Various OSM Western Division projects over the years:
There are COUNTLESS sock monkey therapy/ OSM Western Division stories of amazing people in my community of family, friends, schools, organizations etc. creating and giving.
H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend.
T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment.
M. struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa.
C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s.
A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away.
L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers.
H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media.
Passion2Lead bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town.
Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves.
I love that the Mulberry PARC Retirement Living Group always approaches sock monkey making as a team helping each other with challenges such as arthritis, poor eyesight, bad backs, loneliness , grief, etc- there are those that sew, those that stuff, those that assemble…
I am a bit lost these days. Spinning in place the last few weeks. I know the spinning comes from diving into the past for a certain personal project. The triggers pull the rug out from under me.
And so I freeze, bite my nails, feel exhausted.
Yet at peace… strangely. For I am ready.
I know that the spinning in place also helps the inner critic inside me to rise, causing me to over-think my current book as I prepare a presentation for my agent. I find myself wanting to succumb to self-doubt.
And so I freeze, bite my nails down to the quick, feel exhausted.
Yet still at peace. For I am ready.
And I am taking care to take care. Reminding myself to stand in my successful self. To remember to trust that magic.
Yes- to TRUST.
To just LIVE.
But it’s hard. It is a weighty time. Especially in the fall. The anniversaries come quick this time of year- like Dad’s death October 25, my kitty October 29, Molly’s suicide November 6…
My mother- today.
My mother. My God. 7 years ago- today.
So much to process there. And that is certainly a large part of the personal exploration I am on.
I acknowledge the umbilical cord.
I adore my mom. Miss my mom. Fear my mom. Love my mom. Learned so much from my mom.
As I go further and further back into the past (more on that journey later), I am gathering clues and connecting the dots as to why I am who I am, made the choices I have made, found myself in certain situations, found myself powerless at times, why I am drawn to the therapeutic work I do, why I am drawn to researching crime, why I am drawn to my main character, Molly- why Molly chose me…
So much of it all is intertwined in my relationship with my mom.
And so I’m spinning in place.
Yet at peace. For I am ready.
And I feel it is key for me to try to UNDERSTAND all this– at least to acknowledge and explore, for that may, just maybe, make my spinning stop.
I am so much part of Molly’s story and to write it- I need to know why.
I recall all of a sudden, a childhood dream!
I believe I may have been at age 5 or 6 (before moving to Canada). I know I was very young at the time.
In the dream, Mom and I walk along a gravel road in the middle of a large field. Large empty lots on either side. In the distance- mountains. The lots are empty, unkempt, and overgrown, with knee-high beige dry grass. We are on a single gravel road in the undeveloped giant field, and the road ends as a cul-de sac. There are no buildings. In fact, I don’t see any buildings anywhere. It appears that the lots sit empty, but will be used some time in the future. The centre of the cul-de-sac has a roundabout island, also overgrown with 6-foot tall grasses- some green.
As the dream unfolds, the action loops- we sometimes walk along the right, counterclockwise around the cul-de-sac, or along the left, clockwise… the gravel road and our direction of walking points north.
As we walk around the roundabout island, I am holding my mom’s hand. I am about 5 years old. I feel like I should be scared. We continue to loop- walk down the road again, walk around the roundabout island. I am still holding my mom’s hand.
Finally, we come across a rotting corpse. A human corpse.
The events re-occur again and again. Looping. We walk, we walk, we come across the corpse.
The dream is recurring within the dream.
I am aware that it should be a nightmare, but somehow, it isn’t. Instead, I am filled with curiosity- as long as I hold my mom’s hand.
The corpse shows decomposition, maybe several weeks old. Teeth exposed. I am not scared. As long as I hold mom’s hand. I crouch down and look closer…
Was that the first moment I heard the calling to investigate the silent voices of the dead? To peel back the human psyche to search for clues between the lines, to not take any clue for granted? Was the dream an awakening of the curiosity gene I inherited from my mom?
Have you ever had a friend or relative die, and wished you could have kept them at home for a day or two, to take care of the body yourself and say your farewells without pressure? In fact, you can. – source
I am absolutely delighted to be participating in the following Home Funeral Practicum on July 18, 2015:
My role will include facilitating some therapeutic art techniques dedicated to the loved one (death journeyer) who has passed. Space is limited!
PLEASE NOTE: This workshop is not hosted by CINDEA
Check out related resources:
Once we rid ourselves from traditional thinking we can get on to creating the future.
– James Bertrand
Death remains a topic that many of us would rather avoid. And when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of caring for the dead, most of us tend to think it’s best — and furthermore, required by law — to let professional funeral arrangers handle the arrangements.
Well, it turns out that in most states it’s perfectly legal to care for your own dead. And, with new momentum to shatter longstanding taboos and stop tip-toeing around death — from “death with dignity” measures sweeping the country to projects promoting kitchen table “conversations”about our deepest end-of-life wishes — a re-energized DIY death movement is emerging. – Rachel Zimmerman
The other day, I observed, in humbled silence, a vigil being kept by two crows as they watched over their dying companion- holding sacred space as the dying crow lay nestled in the grass. I was so moved by their attentive eye and compassion. The two sat high in the trees, taking turns warning and attacking any passer-by. The dying crow picked at the grass, eyes glazed white, and burrowed deeper into the ground. It was around 5 PM. I stood there, observing from across the street, for about 30 minutes. I’ve been there myself- holding sacred space, saying goodbye, keeping family close, blocking out unnecessary visitors. I went out again at nightfall. The crows were gone, having flown off to the rookery. The dying crow- not there.
When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves and decomposing matter at every step. Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life.
Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves.
Microorganisms are at work. Molecules are rearranging themselves. So death isn’t to be found anywhere. There is only the metamorphosis of life forms. What can you learn from this?
Death is not the opposite of life. Life has no opposite. The opposite of death is birth. Life is eternal.
I have so many memories of walking and talking with mom about EVERYTHING, the dog running off -leash, the light streaming through the trees, chantarelle treasures, mom’s favorite bench. She often came here by herself, to think, to process anxiety.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. Helen Keller