Twenty-five years and 5 surgeries later I’m still healing from an accident which changed my life. Two friends died in a car accident and I was spared. I walked away. I did not know that both of my feet were injured and continued to not know until 13 years later when arthritis and bone spurs brought intense pain when I walked.
A lot of life has happened in 25 years. I am married to an incredible partner and have 2 beautiful, strong-willed, compassionate and creative children. I have a fulfilling career where I try to connect with and support others on their paths to healing and recovery.
Surgery 3 weeks ago removed 2 screws which have been keeping my left, big toe joint from bending. I feel compelled to use these objects in some way that transforms them from what they were into something new. I’m still trying to make sense of what happened so long ago and here is another opportunity to try.
What is safe, what is unsafe?
What does safety look like, feel like, sound like?
How do you know when you are safe?
How do you know when you are unsafe?
I ponder these questions as I go deeper into my work with little ones, grown ones, and the ones in-between. With dialog and art media we explore stories of struggle, threats to safety, resilience, set-backs, side-steps and efforts to move forward.
I created these sculptures from the same foil/tape method as used with the starfish and giraffe series. I will complete with acrylic paints once they are ready. For me, the shells represent a familiar, innocent and straight-forward form of safe space and protection. Often, in my clients’ experiences, there is no familiar, innocent or direct connection to this most basic need.
When we purchased our home, it was the land I valued as the key asset. Our first soil test brought the stunning news that lead in the soil averaged 480 parts per million, a level classified as “move garden to uncontaminated soil.” We got busy researching, and learned that Helianthus annus, the common sunflower, will draw the lead out of the soil.
With that shot of enthusiasm we got to work amending our land. In the autumn of 2013 we sheet mulched a large space in our sun-drenched front yard; we call this the mandala garden. On top of a thick layer of cardboard, we piled rock dust, aged manure, chopped leaves and perennials, and clean top soil: the pile was about 14″ high.
By the spring of 2014 we tested the soil again and this area – far enough away from our house to be out of reach of lead paint chips – showed a level of 280; better but still too high to grow leafy or root vegetables.
This spring our soil test showed 215 ppm, which is classified as a “slight” contamination but still is a major step forward. We continue to add compost, but we grew fruiting vegetables this summer.
And some sunflowers just for good measure.
This year we grew Good Mother Stallard pole beans for the Seed Temple in Estancia, New Mexico <followthegoldenpath.org>. Our first time growing pole beans, I wasn’t sure how to dry them. While I researched, Ella walked into the garden, plucked from the vine one dried pod, pulled it apart, and…VOILA!…green beans had turned a gorgeous mottled red. Exquisite, fascinating, and a great shared lesson in seed saving.
We planted ten seeds and now have ten x ten x…an abundant cache to send back, to share with friends, and to sow next season.
My daughter was present and engaged during my post surgery recovery in 2011. She worked healing magic on me as well as her dolls and lovies.
Colored tape, bandages, hugs and kisses…bedside with mama for those many days of recovery.
Today my daughter, aged 6 and headed for her own surgery, visited a most wonderful, child oriented surgery center where she was offered a child’s vantage point on what to expect. Once home, we spent the next several hours acting out the new information using whatever props and subjects we had close at hand.
I’ve created a scene using sculpture to reflect the process I often experience when working with children and adults.The giraffes are watching the birth of starfish in varying stages of loss, pain and regrowth. The resilience and determination is often so great that one can only give thanks for being allowed to witness such spirit.