12/12/04: (The 8th birthday of my oldest grandson, Miles. )
I've been rolling this thought around my head like a
dried pea in a bucket. A Sense of Self.
It is tied into the Quarter Jar.
It is tied into the Sassy Clayer Attitude.
It is tied into our finding our unique and individual
voice as an artist.
Where do we get our sense of self? Often it is a part
of the socialization as part of our gender. The
majority of the list members here are female.
Traditional female roles were of the caregiver. The
socialization of females has been going through
changes in the developed countries because of
education, birth control, being able to follow a
Jobs often gives a person a sense of self. That was
when the economy wasn't dicey. When massive layoffs
happened when a business failed, not when GM moved the
jobs across the border to avoid union wages and Flint,
MI, withered on the vine.
Family is the first place where a sense of self
develops, with the parents and how they either
validated a child's development or stifled it. Whether
the parents prepared a child for independence and
autonomy or developed a co-dependent relationship
where the child felt guilty about growing up and
Our gender, jobs or family life, may have effected our
sense of self, but if these influences were not valid,
dicey, or abusive, then where do we get a better sense
Why is a good sense of self important to the artist?
Art is a manifestation of personal creative self
expression. We take in the things we see in our lives,
we filter it through our own sensibilities, the output
is art. Each artist has a unique and individual voice
that they must find.
In order to repair damage to our sense of self we have
to do some work, brain massage, as it were.
If we are female but we are not willing to have our
biology determine our destiny. Then influences from
society about what a woman "should" do or be must be
replaced by one's own dreams and desires.
If we are mothers already, we can't allow the
prevailing changes in gender role models make us doubt
ourselves with what we're doing for our families.
If we are working outside of the home, what we do is
what brings home the money, so we can do what we
really want to do with our time. Our jobs don't define
us, for if we are unemployed does that mean we have no
meaning in our lives?
If we had abusive family backgrounds, and I'll admit I
share that with many here on the list, we have a bit
of work to do in order to separate what was done to us
when we were of tender years and who we want to be now
that we are grown.
Let's examine that for a minute since it has been
topic of discussion recently.
What was done to us as children does effect our sense
of self. Children of alcoholic parents often feel that
they should be "perfect" and that will fix their
parents. When my younger sister and her husband were
fighting, my nephew called me and said, "Aunty, I
can't get them to stop fighting."
"Rickie, go next door to Jose's, tell his Mom you want
to stay there for a bit." I told him.
"Aunty, I can't leave them like this." Rickie cried.
"You are the child. They are the parents. If they are
acting badly it is not your responsibility to fix
them. That's their responsibility. You need to go to
the door, tell them 'I'm leaving because I don't like
it when you fight.' and leave and to go Jose's house."
I told him firmly.
He did just that. I blew my sister and BIL's mind
because instead of having an "audience" for their
fight they were left with the fact that their child
didn't want to be there while they fight and left out.
But the child felt he had a responsibility to fix his
Abused children often feel that they were some how at
fault for what was done to them. This is the first
thing we must change inside our our minds.
Children are born without a "blue book" of
instructions. One has to get a license to fish for
trout, but there's no training or license for having
children. All parents are amateurs when the first
child is born.
What I had to do is to first realize that I was a
child when bad things were done to me. I didn't do
anything to warrant abuse. I realized my mother was
"damaged goods" because of living in Tokyo during
WWII. My father was also "damaged goods" growing up in
Hoovervilles during the depression. Neither of these
folks had education, PBS, magazines like Psychology
Today. They didn't have a spiritual support group like
a church to turn to for guidance. They were hurt and
they passed the hurt on to the children they bore.
Should the children bare the blame for that? No.
Should the now grown children realize that their
parents were imperfect and pity them for their unhappy
lives? Most definitely.
Should the now grown children keep on allowing a
damaged parent to unsettle them? No.
Saying NO to an elderly parent when the line has been
crossed and the grown up child feels all the old pain,
confusion and fear again...that's the moment to know
what your boundaries are. That's when you have to say
"Mom, when you speak to me like this it makes me feel
bad. So I'm hanging up now. Talk to you when you
aren't going to hurt my feelings."
and hang up the phone, it's like walking out the door,
going to Jose's house and hugging his mom.
I turned to the closest church. I didn't care what
denomination it was. If there wasn't a church close
I'd call the nearest Kingdom Hall and have the Jehovah
Witnesses come and carry me away. For I knew about
Sanctuary. I saw that in a movie ... "The hunchback of
the Notre Dame" where the gypsy girl was able to seek
Sanctuary at the church and I thought...
how wonderful that would be
So every year we moved, staying one step ahead of bill
collectors, upset landlords, and angry brick supply
yards, and every year I went and introduced myself to
the Pastor of the nearest church. I asked when the
Youth groups met. I asked if there was volunteer work
that needs to be done. I talked to the Pastor while
helping tend the grounds about things like death, the
after life, why grown ups are so mean.
I got my "repaired" sense of self from those talks
with the various Pastors and Preachers of the churches
who gave me Sanctuary when I "left out" during the
violent fights that took place regularly in my
From the time I was 9 I read for the blind at school,
for I realized some people have it rougher than I do,
no matter what my problems were. Helping others helped
me. I read for the blind all the way up to College.
Giving to others gives back to our ever improving
sense of self.
For no matter what my damaged parents did or said I
knew I was a good person. I did volunteer work and
loved it for it showed me that I DO count for
something good in the world. I helped someone and that
counts for something. My sense of self was not going
to be determined by folks who were so obviously
unhappy, but by my own works, words and deeds.
We all got repair work to do. We got to understand
that our parent's damage doesn't need to be held like
an heirloom, but tossed away. We got to understand
that we are not to blame for the abuse that was done
to us. We got to love ourselves even if it feels like
no one else does, for we are responsible for repairing
our damaged sense of self in order to become the
artist each of us wishes to become.
You would not be here if you didn't feel that you had
a right to be an artist.
It's a right, you know? God gave you the urge. As
God's servant I am here to serve you in helping you
not only get a grip on your clay but to get a better
sense of self.
Each time you make one step closer to manifesting your
creative self expression you'll get encouragement from
me. Each time you show and share you work you will be
encouraged by me. Each time you share you life, ask
for prayers, admit to THE FEAR, you will get love and
nurturing from me.
I give you the things I wished my parents were able to
give to me when I was a child. We all have that little
scared and needy child inside of us. Each of us needs
a hug. Everyone needs to feel safe and to have a sense
of belonging to a group who really knows you and loves
you. I have become "Jose's Mom" for everyone on this
This is why I do the things I do. This is why I do it
the way I do it.
The abuse buck stops here. We must stop ourselves from
putting ourselves down, ergo the Quarter Jar. We must
believe that it is our God Given Right to create for
God gave us the urge to fiddle with stuff. We got to
develop the Sassy Attitude, where if someone puts down
your work, judges the process instead of respecting
the evolution, that you can say with confidence, "Who
died and made you my Social Worker? Get off of my
case and go get yourself your own hobby.".
People who are negative and want to share it with
everyone need to be shunned. If that person is your
parent, you're old enough to make the decision that it
is not worth your while to buy into that old game of
Dominance and submission. When your tummy gets tight
someone stepped over your boundary. Know that you have
a right to say ..."Your space" (holding out your palm
towards them and making circular movements)... "My
Space" (putting your hand on your chest making
circular movements). Know your boundaries and I'm
encouraging you to defend them
If I can do anything for you here on this list is to
validate you as a person, unique and special as a
snowflake. That I give you the love and encouragement
that you need to develop your skills as an artist.
That we have a space to express ourselves without
fearing someone who wants to share their damage is
going to poo poo our work.
This list is not just a place to learn how to make a
mini or cover a tin. This list is a family of artists
who support each other.
For we all suffer from some damage to our sense of
self. We all have work to do to turn that damage
around and that starts with understand that our
parents were imperfect. By having the intent that we
aren't going to give that dreadful gift that usually
keeps on giving down the generational lines.
How do we improve our sense of self? By knowing that
if God loves you, you got to love yourself. By knowing
that each thing you make effort with you gain a raised
sense of self esteem. By helping others when you can
and that means if you know an answer to a question
asked on the list...answer it. If you know of a site
that gives you inspiration and there's lovely eyecandy
there, then share it. That if someone asks for
prayers, stop right there at your keyboard and say a
prayer for that person. All this adds to an improved
sense of self for your help, encouragement, and
prayers for others increases our sense of self esteem.
We did something good for another and for ourselves at
the same time and it didn't cost a penny.
Unnecessary guilt is the Devil's business, I told my
sons when they were growing up. If we did something
and accidentally hurt someone's feelings, we say "My
bad" and make the intent not to do that going forward.
In so doing we have sought absolution, for God is
Merciful and forgives us all the time. If we do
something that hurts OURSELVES, when we realize it, go
Yikes - my bad, it's done, you're absolved, for you
learned from that and don't intend to continue to hurt
yourself going forward.
The reason why I am rambling about this is because to
be an artist is often said to be selfish. For we want
to make what we want to make, in the way we want to
make it. We have to defend ourselves all the time for
just wanting to express that which is within us, that
which was given to us.
Who died and made these nay sayers your Social Worker?
Who assigned them your case?
No one... we carry unnecessary guilt for things we've
long since been forgiven for. We carry blame for
things that were done TO us. These things must be
recognized and turned around and the only way we can
do that is with brain massage.
Ergo the ramble.
I'm going to cc this to my Mother In Law, Mommy
Michal, with whom with I share theological
discussions. She is the best thing that's happened to
me in my often sad life. She is the Mommy of choice as
opposed to the mother that was given.
I'm bcc'ing this to two of my best online friends, for
this sharing needs to be shared with them too.
We find love where we can. We find support where we
can. We find counsel where we can, but it's important
to be encouraged to at least seek these things. For we
need to heal ourselves to be able to find our artistic
Love yourself first, know you have the right to create
your art, don't let folks give you grief for wanting
to have fun. It's not illegal, it's cheap and this
list and the demos are free, so what's the harm in
The CITY List Family Motto is "Create what you love, love what you create" the
first step on that road is to love yourself.
Just doing my job here, and it is my honor to serve
you here on this list.