Last night, I hosted a Found Art Workshop on “Facing the Toxic Voices.” We talked about two important truths when it comes to fighting off these destructive mantras: externalizing and accepting.
I likened externalizing to the confession booth, basically the process of getting what’s hiding inside you out into the light. Whether it’s writing the lies out in your journal, praying them to God, sharing your internal monologue with a safe friend or group or partner, externalizing the toxic voices is one important way to quiet them. Naming things can often take so much of their power away.
We also talked about acceptance. This is so tough . . . the spiritual practice of accepting our limits as human beings. Acceptance—and here’s something important—is the final stage of grief. So it follows that sometimes in order to come to a place of acceptance, we have to go through the process of grief. Something most of us are not good at.
Accepting ourselves as no more than human and no less than human – just beautifully and wonderfully made human – we are able to give ourselves permission to rest, to play, to limit our commitments to those we can actually maintain, to limit our relationships to those we can actually nourish, to limit our work to hours we can actually sustain.
After we talked through these thoughts on facing the toxic voices, the women did two writing prompts in order to process the false mantras they are living out of and in order to receive some of God’s truth.
Then, we dive into the process of creating found art. I laid out an entire table full of remnant wood – table legs, spindles, trims, moldings, finials, old frames. I pulled every bit of it from what amounts to a junkyard, so it was covered in mud and rainwater and spider eggs and plant matter. Awesome!
The women each chose a piece of wood that spoke to them and they created these strange and wonderful pieces of original art—each piece loaded down with reminders of God’s love, grace, acceptance, and creativity.
The best part of the night is the point at which the room becomes pile after pile of open journals filled with one-of-a-kind handwriting, scraps of paper covering every surface like confetti, paintbrushes flying, hammers pounding in nails, Jack Johnson in the background, the smell of strong coffee and hot glue in the air, woman after woman hunched over her masterpiece with intensity and devotion.
I am always amazed at what this process yields. I’m not sure I can fully put a word to it other than magic. What a gift it is to make space for our souls and to allow ourselves to create . . . imperfectly.
My creation started out with a small two-legged table base, about a foot and a half tall. I mounted my architectural remnant to cardboard I had covered with burlap (using hot glue to secure). I then covered it with words and images that remind me to be brave, be free, and be alive. Oh, and of course I piled on the twine.
If I could spend the rest of my life facilitating these workshops and writing books that helped people feel seen and loved, I would be a very fulfilled woman. Here’s to that dream.
And here’s to all of us living out of the abundance instead of the scarcity!