Among Women – My Board

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When I had included this as part of my reflection on the Gospel Women readings, I found that it just didn’t flow the way I wanted it to, and I realized that it was due in part because it really should have been more of a bullet point or list of what I chose and why I chose it. Looking at the original bowl of items and board to use for the collage, I am struck by how it went from nothing to something so magnificent. I really love the finished product. Despite being unfinished in some ways, adding more would take away from what it’s expressing.

In looking back at the process, I can safely say that I practically put it together in the order that I gathered the items. Not entirely, and in my “first draft”, I did move things around, although, again it is nearly identical to the original concept that I laid out before the adhesives.

1. Our board choices were very simple: white, black or reddish-brown. As you can see I took the reddish brown one. I thought that white was too stark and black was too dark, and I usually stay away from reds. I took that one to be a bit bolder than I usually am. This retreat house is where I do most of my artistic work, from the mandala weekend to an illuminated initial at the most recent weekend; it is where I always bring my sketchbook and colored pencils. I think the space is welcoming so that I feel that I can attempt art safely whereas I can write anywhere.

2. I wasn’t sure about the butterfly wings. They are real wings, taken from the Conservatory where the butterflies lived their whole lives. No butterflies were harmed in the collection of their wings. My mother used to love butterflies, and I would get her some sort of butterfly thing – pin, notebook, trinket box for her birthday, Christmas/Chanukah, and Mother’s Day. Consequently, when she died, I got her collection, and seeing butterflies makes me think of her, so I’m drawn to them. In the little plate, there were beautiful, bright blue ones that I believe come from the Karner Blue Butterfly, a local variety in the Albany Pine Bush. There was also a bright orange and black dotted one that I think was a Monarch. The one I chose was yellow with black. Everyone thinks bumble bee with those colors, but for me, they are Hufflepuff, my Harry Potter house. They speak to me of loyalty, and friendship, perseverance, and strength. They are courage and truth. They are also a visual reminder of my being brought back to writing and the internet community that held me, supported me, and welcomed me, and who continues to give me the gift of friendship and creativity. So much from such a little wing.

*One thing that struck me about my collage was that I am a very symmetrical person, and there is nothing in this grouping that is symmetrical. I chose one wing rather than two. In my mind, it seems odd, but looking at it, it is perfect.

3. I glanced at the pile (very large pile) of magazines and newspapers taking up a third of the table. The word travel caught my eye, and that was all I was going to take, but then the subtitle, 4 Life-Changing Journeys drew my eye. I was going to take travel and journeys, but then the whole phrase – 4 life-changing journeys – really grabbed me, not only as something I’ve been feeling this year and last, but also as a fantastic writing prompt to use in future days. What four life-changing journeys have I been on in recent years? What a perfect way to organize some thoughts, and so I took the whole thing. I tore the small rectangle out and put the magazine back in the pile. Before I could move off, I noticed another article about 50 tips to feel amazing. It had to do with getting healthy and avoiding chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but it was the 50 that took me by the hand. I will be turning fifty at the end of the year, and one of my goals is to write weekly reflections. I’ve been somewhat neglectful, but the number, bold and in red, needed to come. I tore off the whole cover and thought to look at it more closely. It wasn’t until I was back at my seat that I noticed the tagline of the magazine: Real Possibilities. I cut out possibilities and I had all the words I thought I would need.

4. Wherever, whatever I’m doing, I’m attracted to my favorite color green, and the puzzle pieces had them in abundance. I didn’t look at the finished puzzle on the box cover, but I took a few pieces that might fit together; they probably wouldn’t but they only needed to look as if they might. I like puzzle pieces. They come apart easily, but also go back together just as easily. They connect, and if connected the right way, they create a path to a finished product. I took a few, and then went back for a couple more, having six in all. There was no meaning to having six, and one was more yellow than green or blue, but it was something I needed to have for my board.

**My board was supposed to be a reflection of the two Gospel women we’d thought about all week. I was drawn to a different suggestion by Sister Sue and that was how I was related to them, how I saw myself, and this became more of a vision board or a me board – things I am, things I want to be, things that can be, a positive meditation.

5. When I excitedly approached the Scrabble tiles, I was looking for a K, my first initial. When I got there, I began to touch the tiles, turning them over to see which letters were available. I stopped looking for the K, and began to think about the reflections and the readings, and I don’t know why but I wanted Writer. It wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t until I returned to my seat to lay out the board that I moved the R off to the side. The question arose in the design: Am I a writer? Is it more important to be a WRITER? Or is it more important to do the writing regardless of status? Being a writer is something important – being published, being liked, but the writing calls to me. It is always there; it has always been there.

6. The foam stars and circles were just fun. I definitely only wanted green and yellow. The foam is squishy, and somehow childlike. I am also reminded of the stars and the moon in the sky. I have a real affinity for the full moon shining down on me as I sleep.

*** Last summer I tried to do something like this with my two youngest kids. I picked out fabric and doodads. I had them pick some out as well. We did it on cork with pushpins. It was nice for about a day and a half, and then they all fell apart. After this experience, I may try and do it again with them using glue instead of the tacks. They enjoyed it, and it expressed who they are and their likes and dislikes.

7. Of course, I found some butterfly cutouts from a greeting card. The same as the wing, they are for my mother, and the nature of the butterfly. Their freedom, their color, their strength amidst their delicateness.

8. The fabrics. The blue bud surrounded by the green spidery leaves matched one of the butterflies on the card. I knew I only wanted two buds. I don’t know why. I usually take things in threes or fours. The green fabric had leaves and sticks crisscrossing each other. I began to cut out a pile of sticks in that crisscross, campfire pattern when I noticed that the sticks made a K. I had found my initial after all, so I cut it and placed it in the upper left hand corner. I toyed with the idea of outlining it in a green Sharpie, but I decided to simply leave it as is. I knew what it was. Most people would notice the letter K. I liked it’s surprise and it’s simplicity. I added one larger leave in the lower right hand corner from the same fabric.

****When I got home, there was a parcel waiting for me – my always keep fighting shirt. This one offers to love yourself first. Much like on an airplane when the oxygen mask comes down, you put it on yourself so you can help others. It’s also important to not forget that we are important. Me. I am important and I am valued, and deserve some time to take care of me. That is why I go on these retreats, these reflective workshops. I have also been reading Pope Francis’ The Joy of Love, his newest exhortation and in around the third or fourth chapter, he expresses this very thing – love yourself first. That isn’t to say be selfish, but be who you are and love that person.

9. To the fabric, I added the green feather. I’m often attracted to feathers. They fall off birds, they are added onto Native American garments and mean many things. I have some feathers on my dream catcher that my friend gifted me with. Feathers are also used as fletches for arrows and as a Sagittarius, I try to follow the bow. The arrow is also known for flying straight, finding its mark, and not leading us astray.

10. I don’t think there was a concrete reason for taking the green straw. I hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to glue down, but I wanted it. Maybe it is something of nest building. perhaps it is taking something that is not much of anything and turning it into something of beauty and reflected joy.I don’t know, but I also don’t think the the board would work without it.

****So much from so many littles.

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