I´m doing a yearlong project with a little piece of art every day. This is my way to think about grief and loss. This is my way to express creativity. This is my way to learn something about life. This my way to live one year with eyes and arms and heart wide open. Join me! It´s an adventure!
You can also find me on Instagram: @365.days.in.the.mourning
Hinweis: Ich schreibe hauptsächlich auf Englisch, da viele der beteiligten Personen englisch-sprachig sind. Bitte gerne melden, wenn ich mit der Übersetzung ins Deutsche weiterhelfen kann!
Make something with yarn. Little embroidery on a patch. And a little reminder in times of grief: your rage is okay.
Make a haiku about something you did today. Cookie galore!
"Cookies like armies
Perfection made by grandma
Unrivelled since then."
Work underwater. Acrylic colour on the bottom of a plastic can filled with water. I had to be quick: the decay came immediately.
The theme for today is Meat Loaf's "Not a dry eye in the house. After loves curtain comes down. Listen and you'll hear the sound. Hear the sound of a heart breaking." 🎶 I so love this head line: what a dry sense of humour! When you look around you in times of grief and heartbreak and you can't find a dry eye in the house...
Make something with a stapler. "Friendship, that’s like home." Kurt Tucholsky. Some of you might know friendship bracelets one exchanges with friends... I have those. But I also have a friendship stapler! 💪😎🎉 (and friendship bags, friendship pins, friendship nailpolish, friendship magnets, friendship dresses...). And often, when I feel lost and I'm not sure, where "home" is, I look at these friendship signs and I'm better.
Make something old look new. This is a sewing machine pedal without and with glitter...In my theory, there is a correlation between today's date (6th of December), certain birthday girls and sewing: it was my late grandmother's birthday today and she was a dressmaker. And it's the birthday of my dear friend Fr. Kirsche who is the coolest sewcialist I know. Glitter and gold and a happy birthday to you!
Create instructions. How to do a cemetery stroll. In 5 steps. Try it, it's easy!
Make something ephemeral. Combining art with necessity: liquid cleanser on bath tub. 😁😎 Next week it was 17 years ago that my grandfather went missing and in April it was 17 years ago that someone found his body in the forest. My family planted a tree at the place of discovery. 🌱
Make a path. Mourning is sometimes symbolized by a labyrinth: every time you think "now I am getting out of it" - there is a turn to get you deeper into grief. Yet it might also be a symbol of coming closer to your midst (?!).
Make a disguise. Today: napkin doodeling, "grief comes in many disguises".
Use school materials. Little Laura (she's in 2nd grade) told me: "....and at Linda's funeral we had red balloons. They flew very high so Linda could see them and could catch one!" 🎈
Inspired by a recent dream. Liberty or death: a flight through a tunnel with around 50 children, my brother and a guy called Tilman (hmmm...I don't know any Tilman)... Hello again, dear subconscious mind!
Make something portable which usually isn't. Hey Jude: "...And any time you feel the pain: Hey Jude, refrain. Don't carry the world upon your shoulder..."
Everything green. "When you work with (grieving) people, you are like a chameleon: You can easily adapt and change your colour, so that people feel understood, accepted and appreciated the way they are." - one of the best compliments I ever got. Find the video on Instagram!
Something out of the recycling bin. A medieval death lantern ("lanternes des morts") out of an orange juice package and tin foil.
Make a bridge. Bridging feminism and death awareness is like being a Ninja Turtle driving a volkswagen beetle: it doesn't make sence to everybody straight away, but it does to me (and to a lot of other people, too!) ;-)
Something out of clay. "There is a body burried within us: The body of the person we wanted to be with the one we loved." [Barbara Pachl-Eberhardt]
Floating. I discussed conceptions of afterlife with a friend a few weeks ago. Is there anything at all? Would we call it heaven?... One can discuss this endless because as a matter of fact (or in this case: no fact) we don't know it. But I think: if we don't know it, we can choose what helpes us put our minds at rest: For me it is helpful to think about a nice place (maybe with a bench where you can sit and chat) rather than to think about the great void, etc.
Make something with what you find in a car. "Call me. Something's happened." A short message from my parents that gives me the creeps: The last time I got that message almost two years ago when my grandma died. I grabbed my satnav, got a rental car and drove all the 7 hours to my hometown.
Make a unique print. Inspired by the poem "Gone from my sight" from van Dyke: I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side, spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says, "There, she is gone."
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast, hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me -- not in her.
And, just at the moment when someone says, "There, she is gone," there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"
And that is dying...
Make something with paper currency. I started folding the banknote like this and remembered the night after my grandparents died, I dreamt about them standing like shadows in front of an open door looking at me...It was like a last greeting...In these instances I am very thankful for my subconscious mind... ;-)
Make something microscopic. The last days I thought about these tiny moments of freedom in the grieving process: laughter without feeling guilty, enjoying the sun and good music without feeling sad, going out with friends and actually having fun, being alone and not feeling lonely...
Make something with tea (bags)/ inspired by tea. I remember working with people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. One woman told me that one day she got really upset and overwhelmed with her feelings at a train station and she said she couldn't understand the reaction of the policeman who found her: "I was so upset and crying and that police officer brought me a cup of tea?! What was he thinking???" - I tried to explain the making of tea as a social ritual: trying to comfort oneself and the other person when you're not really sure what else to do (and when you know you can't do anything else!).
Camouflage something. Done it myself too often...
Use your nondominant hand. I listened to "Green fields of France" and "the Band played Waltzing Matilda" and the theme for today was found: Grief and war. I painted this with my left hand... I remember both my grandfathers used to paint with (and favored) their left hand (however they had to learn to write with the right hand in school).
Next weekend I'll attend a workshop about grief and wartime children, I guess this triggered some thoughts...
Make something with your breakfast. I went a bit Wehrli ("The Art of Clean Up") this morning. But here comes my all time favourite muesli-metaphor in times of grieving: Grieving is like a muesli - lots of stuff you just eat because it's in it, some really odd looking things you're not sure they're REALLY healthy,... and you have to digg deep to maybe (and it doesn't happen every day) find a piece of chocolate or another good thing!
Transform an old book. I learned today: I really really can't cut into a book. But I did some sewing and hung the book on my lamp... I found this old copy of "Dead Poets Society" - a story full of grief and loss and guilt and anger but also full of love and admiration and about good teaching (!) and of course poetry. And I felt I should do some standing-on-a-desk today while reciting Thoreau: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived."
Make a stencil. This stencil says "mourning" and is shaped like a tear. I tried it on a shirt with textile colour and on a wall with spray paint which did not turn out well. The next stencil I make will be with more space between the letters! :-)
Make something out of the first fruit or vegetable you see in the kitchen. This is a very ecofriendly banana coffin for day 6. I am not very pleased with the outcome, but think I just go with it and take it as an exercise in unperfectionism. ;-)
Make something with a collection: The broken one.
Take a 5 minute walk outside and create something with materials you found on your way. Grieving sometimes feels like walking a tightrope.
Experiment with paper without using scissors, glue, etc. Home and heart. Out of pages retrieved from the magazine of the (German) Federal Agency for Civic Education. I thought about losing home ("Heimat" in German) and making knots to memorize everything one had to leave behind. When I made the knot I saw that it resembled a heart...
Head and heart.
Ehem... I got a little overwhelmed with the thought of 365 days ahead. And I did, what I always do, when I get that feeling: I made a list. But I really don´t want to be too rational during this project, instead bring rational thoughts in line with my instincts and emotions. One can draw a parallel between that and dealing with loss and grief...
It´s the final day of my second CreativeSprint. This time I stayed relaxed and optimistic throughout the whole challenge. And this gave me the courage to do a yearlong project inspired by Noah
Scalin´s book "365: A Daily Creativity Journal".
I´m going to stick to the daily inspirations in the book for a while and see where it leads me from there.
People who know me won´t be surprised when they hear about the theme I chose for my project. Recently I found a printed shirt with this sentence on it: I am a mourning person. This is so right! I am a mourning person (to be honest I think everyone is). I think I always was. I can not count the things, places, dreams and of course people that I lost in my life so far. And since I was a young girl I am interested in death and grief and their effects on people and relationships and systems. I know, this sometimes seems like a very scientific view...this is a part of my coping strategy I think: Trying to understand the incomprehensible, trying to stay in control,...all these things.
However, I always tried to not stay detached but to get closer to my own grief and to the grief of others. Two years ago I became a qualified grief counselor. I am a hospice volunteer. I made a lot of good and appreciative friends in the field of grief counselling and hospice care. It is a very supporting and caring community (like the CreativeSprinters!). I am very grateful to get to know a lot of wonderful people coping with loss. And if there is one thing I learned in recent years: Mourning and grieving and coping with loss is an art itself and we are all raw beginners...which nicely leads me to Day 1!
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Regina Wahl -
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