I created this shadow box — which was meant to be literally about an aspect of our own shadow; that part of ourselves that we don’t want to look at, let alone own — and I feel that in making it I have unlocked a fearful part of me that I have been struggling with for some time: The little girl who is afraid of not having enough, who lives with a sense of lack and thinks it’s all she deserves, and who struggles to create and feel abundance as her right. In pondering when this little shadow sub-personality may have been born, I recalled a year in my life that is full of memories both dark and vibrant, a time when my consciousness awoke and I became much more acutely aware of other people’s feelings and yearnings, as well as my own.
When I was a little girl about 5 years old, we lived in a small apartment at the beach in California for a year. It was lean times in our family as my father took a temporary job while continuing to look for something more permanent in his line of work in the aerospace industry. I was a whirligig of motion at that age, always running, skipping, and flitting from place to place. Thus I earned the nickname “Butterfly” from one of my mother’s friends. During this time my mother got a job, the only time in my childhood when she worked outside the home, so I was left to my own devices a little more than would probably be encouraged these days. I remember being invited to another girl’s birthday party and I had some cheap, paltry gift that I was ashamed to bring to her. I walked by myself down the strand to the girl’s house and on the way I stopped at a neighbor’s and burst into tears about my pathetic gift. My neighbor somehow magically was able to give me some items that made my offering seem much more bountiful–I seem to recall a big box of new crayons and a brand new set of paper dolls to add to what I remember as a single, thin coloring book. It rounded out the gift I had nicely, I thought, and not too proud to accept these gifts from my neighbor, I went to the party with my head held high. I don’t remember how my gifts were received or much else about the party, but the feeling of not having enough and perhaps not being enough lingered.
As I placed the figure of the little girl inside my shadow box I felt her vulnerability as she stood before an image of a great swath of pavement with a single penny in the middle of it. There were also two empty fishing baskets hanging on a post in front of the vast ocean. The instructions for making the shadow box included bringing in a warrior spirit to help the shadow part transform. I was excited when I heard about this element because in marvelous synchronicity, just the day before, I had received in the mail my beautiful warrior guardian doll as part of the paper doll swap I took part in at True North Arts. She was the perfect goddess of abundance with her golden sash, boots, and sword (created by Tana Vaughan, Thank You again, Tana!), and I knew she was to be part of my shadow box.
I was drawn to her butterfly/moth headdress, and with the theme of transformation in mind, I began to bring butterflies into my shadow box, the magical creatures who shape shift from creeping caterpillars to winged gossamers of beauty, and recalled the peripatetic child I once was. As I draped the little girl in tiny butterflies and added three-dimensional butterflies to my once barren shadow box, I began to feel the relief that transformation brings when we allow ourselves to see things from a different perspective, when we change our thoughts. I now saw a shiny penny on a dark, empty surface — a glimmer of hope, a beginning. I saw the empty baskets next to the wide expanse of ocean, teeming with fish (symbols of spirituality), as vessels of rich possibility, waiting to be filled. I saw the little girl, who before had seemed so alone and bereft, as now cloaked in butterflies before a girl meditating, serene in her own knowing about the world, protected by a magnificent golden warrior of abundance who will always guide her to knowing she has nothing to fear. The Universe has always provided and will continue to provide all that she needs.
I would also like to invite you all to take part in a SoulCollage® blog party that Kathryn Antyr of Collage Diva and True North Arts is hosting. On Saturday, July 31st, the unveiling of SoulCollage® cards will take place on many sites, including this one. (If you come here, you will be able to see the others from here.) So if you have some SoulCollage® cards and a blog or Flickr page on which to show them off, please join the party! There are lots of great ideas on Kathryn’s site for how to present your cards and your story.