Excerpt #2 from my memoir.
Continuing the DOLL story from my last blog.
One day while living in my Nassau Bay beach house, I was working on a doll of a darling little girl with long dark hair and big blue eyes. Her grandmother had commissioned me to finish it for her 5th birthday. The doll was almost finished and I was dressing her in an outfit that the grandma had given me. It was just then a man’s boat died in front of my water-front studio. I had him tie up to the dock and I invited him in to call his wife to come and get him. While he was talking on the phone he noticed what I was doing. He looked at the doll then the picture of the child I was working from, and eyes lit up. “What are you doing, here?”
“I create dolls that look like kids.”
“Oh my God, these are wonderful. They could be “Inner-Child” Dolls. Do you know what an Inner Child is?”
“I think so, but remind me.”
It’s a type of therapy where you put a chair in front of you with a teddy bear or doll sitting there. You pretend this doll is you when you were a child, and you talk to it, like a parent to a child. It’s an amazingly powerful tool in the recovery process.”
While he was describing the therapy, I was beginning to understand what he was so excited about. He continued.
“Your dolls could be used as a therapeutic tool. The patient could relate even more because the doll would look like them when they were a kid”.
I could see his mind working.
“The patient could give you a picture of themselves when they were younger and…” He was talking more to himself than to me.
“We could work together. You make the dolls and I do the therapy.” He came back to the here and now.
“Excuse me for jumping ahead. My name is Richard. I’m a therapist. I want you to make my inner-child doll. I have the perfect picture to give you. I was eight years old, a time in my life when things were not going well for me. This doll could be a great example for my patients.”
Ricky when he was 11 years old
I understood what he was getting at. It was a genius idea, and the timing was perfect.
“There is a therapy convention right down the street at the Hilton Hotel in three weeks. Can you make my doll by then? We will set up a booth, advertise your Inner-Child dolls and…”
You get the picture. Yes, it was a brilliant idea. I made his “Ricky” doll. Set up a booth with fliers and signs. There were hundreds of professionals over the three day convention and I walked away with six months of commissions.
Now that I look back on the Divine timing of this whole situation, I get shivers. God has led me down this path on my life’s journey. Nothing is random. Richard’s boat didn’t die in front of the house three doors down, or when I was cooking dinner instead of working on that specific doll, with the picture lying there open for him to see. God has a plan and I am grateful.
I had more work than I could complete myself, so I hired someone to shop the resale stores for the outfits. I taught the brain injured patients at a local rehab center how to stuff the bodies and heads. I had simplified the pattern so all it took was the amount of cotton to make the body skinny or plump. I found more colors of knit fabric so I didn’t have to dye the skin tones anymore. I still used kid’s wigs for girls and found fake fur for boy’s hair. In time we had a fine tuned machine that was pumping out dolls. I still created the custom faces by following a picture. Each doll had their own personality and I felt a connection to each of my kids.
After I finished close to 30 dolls, I decided to make a “Tammy” doll. (I had been called Tammy when in elementary school, but when I grew up I decided to go back to my given name, Tamlin.) I made ‘Tammy’ with blond braids and wispy bangs, gray-blue eyes and a slight smile. While making my own inner-child, many feelings came up during the process, some good and some not so good.
It was time to dress my doll so I went to a store to see what she would feel comfortable wearing. I already felt a connection to her. She was precious and I wanted a perfect outfit. I found Osh Kosh jean overalls and a blue and white striped blouse. I remember dressing like this when I was little. I was not a girly-girl and wore shorts or jeans almost all the time. When I began looking for the shoes, I instinctively went to the boys department. As a young child I had a foot problem and was forced to wear clunky, brown, orthopedic shoes to help me walk better. I found an ugly, boy’s pair that resembled those I hated wearing as a kid. When I walked to the register to check out, I had no idea what was about to happen. I laid the clothes and shoes down looking for my check book… when I started to cry.
Tammy hated those shoes.
They looked just like my brothers.
My emotions went back to the time when I was so embarrassed to be seen in those boy shoes. Even if I was dressed up I had to wear ugly, heavy shoes.
I couldn’t stop crying.
Everyone in the store was looking at me and I began to feel self conscious. They had no idea that my inner-child was making a statement. A decision.
Tammy was screaming “No more ugly shoes”.
I brought them back to the shelf and selected a cute pair of dressy black patent leather shoes with lace trimmed socks to match. When I got home I dressed Tammy and she came to life. She loved her new shoes, even with her warn denim overalls. I put her in a chair in my living room and she was home. I sat across from her, held her hand and said
“Mom didn’t do it to be mean. You had to wear those orthopedic shoes because you needed to”.
I finally understood.
I have come to see how powerful these Inner-Child dolls are. Tammy is real to me. She sat in my living room for more than twenty-five years. I spoke to her often, explaining things that I didn’t understand then, but do now. I love Tammy. She reminds me of the sensitive little girl who lives inside of me.
She needs to be protected.
She needs to feel loved.
She needs to have fun.
She is me, and I will always appreciate her inner knowing.
I don’t make dolls any more since my creative bent has moved more towards working with my students to help them express themselves through ART.
That’s why all of my blogs are about…
The POWER of ART
And these Inner-Child Dolls certainly have the ability to make an immense change in someone’s life…
through Inner-Child therapy.
… and that’s POWER.
PS. Sorry I don’t have the picture of my “Ricky” doll. It burned (along with my 2 Tammy dolls 🙁
when I had my fire… and lost everything. (Wow, the fire is a good topic for my NEXT blog).