I recently participated in an art exchange with other women in recovery called The Recovery Gals Art Exchange. This was my first time doing a project like this and I learned more about myself in the process than I ever imagined I would. Each of the participants was paired up with another woman. The theme of the project was Spring Equinox: Metamorphosis. So we were to create something that symbolized metamorphosis to us.
I am definitely a creative person, but I've never had one medium or type of art that I claim as my own. I love to paint, decorate, knit, create jewelry, and create essential oil products. I love the way I can get lost in the project, while focusing on a person or theme that the art reminds me of or is dedicated to. For example, after our daughter Mila died, I processed my grief through art. Painting furniture, making collages, journalling, knitting, and decorating our home. I burned through so much uncomfortable energy being creative, and in my mind, every piece was for Mila.
My art exchange partner happens to be very creative! She is an amazing artist, knitter, and seamstress (among other things I am sure!). She is also in recovery and I loved getting to know her a little better through this project. I didn't want to make her something that she could have easily made herself with her own talents, so I had to dig deep. I also struggled with the idea of a deadline. I don't feel creative when there is an "assignment" with a deadline. Now, I chose to do this project myself, but I dug in my heals when I thought I had to have it done at a certain time with a certain theme. (That's just the stubborn, procrastinator in me.)
I finally decided to make something she could wear, and use. I love visual art, but I really love functional art. I've always loved wearing unique jewelry. I'm an accessories gal, and I love the look of "stacked" bracelets. I started making my own bracelets after Mila died because I needed to wear her name. I have three or four bracelets with her name, and I wear one every day. I also wear essential oils daily and make bracelets with lava beads which can be used to diffuse oils while worn.
Following the theme of metamorphosis wasn't hard. I think as we navigate our way through recovery, and also middle age, we are living examples of change and growth. The bracelets I made for my art exchange partner contained beads that represented change and growth to me. I used colors that spoke to me and symbolized growth and new life. I also used beads from a Mala (beads used for meditation) bracelet I wore for years. Through infertility, loss, and grief, I wore this bracelet. It calmed me and reminded me to have faith during many difficult times. When the string broke and beads fell everywhere, I decided those beads were to be used again, and for another meaningful piece of jewelry. I made the bracelets for this project with my daughter, Sofia. She made bracelets for her friend and a few for herself. I was inspired by the patterns and colors she used and incorporated her ideas into my bracelets as well.
To go with the lava beads in one of the bracelets, I made two different essential oil blends. I named one of them Metamorphosis as it contains oils that are known to help women through menopause and perimenopause, our mid-life metamorphosis! I happen to be experiencing many of these symptoms and have found relief from using this blend on a daily basis. Then I made a blend I love to use in the spring called Happy Mama. It contains bright, citrusy oils, and is wonderful for cheering yourself up as we wait for spring to arrive.
Included in my partner's package were also a few, simple water color paintings with sayings that represent metamorphosis to me. I have a new love of water color painting, but in the most simple ways; circles, lines, and horizons. Packing up this little package of goodies was the most fun for me. I hope she enjoys opening it all up as much as I enjoyed putting it all together.
I've decided that I probably will not participate in the next Recovery Gals Art Exchange, but only because I know the next few months will be really busy for me. But now that I've seen the amazingly creative projects others have made, I am inspired to do this again. I was nervous and unsure of myself at first, but I Iearned that art is so open ended, and has so much meaning, different for everyone. Most importantly,I learned that I AM and artist. I told myself for years that I am creative, but not artistic, but now I can say that I am both.