Wisdom Circles- The Creation Story
Art Remedies by WISDOM CIRCLES Healing Doll on Eco-printed fabric.
A wise elder once told me, “pay attention to the reoccuring symbols in your life, the thoughts and dreams that come up again and again, for these are the recipes of your soul”. It’s the beginning of 2017, and I am believing in our collective determination to find creative solutions for healing and positive change. The ingredients to my reoccuring vision swirl around me:
-Intergenerational wisdom circles
-Trades of skills and resources
And they are growing and growing.
Everything in and around me is saying, “Now is the jumping off point! Embrace your fullest creative potential...You are ready, just say yes”. And I smile, because the darkness that surrounded me, and my intense desire to find healing, has created the rich compost for my blooming to occur.
Wisdom Circles “We are Rising” Art Remedy T-shirt Design
MY STORY I grew up on the north shore of Maui in our small family-owned health foods store, Mana Foods, which opened a year before I was born in 1983. Growing up, I helped my aunties and uncles in the kitchen...prepping food and juicing veggies and eventually found my place in the vitamin and bodycare area where I would slather on delicious products, pop a B vitamin, and talk story with the people of Paia. Mana has probably transformed itself over 100 times in the past 34 years...no joke. It began as a hole in the wall, selling just papayas and soymilk, and then one morning there was a kitchen and bakery, and entire aisles dedicated to local produce and artisan chocolates. As a family, we literally breathed every step of the store to life.
After graduating from fashion school, I started a clothing, jewelry and accessories line called, “Sierra Dew” (my name). I was fulfilling my “fashion designer” prophecy, a vision from when I was 12 and took my first sewing class. As I continued though, I realized the fashion world wasnʻt quite what I expected and definitely wasnʻt the full me. After a couple of years of being alone in my studio and realizing what it would take to succeed financially with my clothing line, I manifested an opportunity to teach a T-shirt printing workshop with The Paia Youth and Cultural Center. Now, I identify more as a craftswoman, as I have expertise in a few areas of artmaking and always make a conscious effort to connect within and to the earth while creating. I especially love natural materials, printing textiles and colorful fabric, and I really enjoy making all sorts of things like belts, skirts, earrings, wall hangings, and dolls. As I became drawn to do more community arts workshops I realized that my art wants to accomplish something deeper and more diverse than just myself. The handmade products, “Wearable and Art Remedy Designs” on this site are the transformation of my designs from my “Sierra Dew” clothing line. I will be continuing to post up wearable art designs in the Wisdom Circles Shop.
“Sierra Dew Designs” Handmade Textiles & Accessories 2007-2016
A major leap in my growth as a human being and artist began when I started working with 808 Urban - a native Hawaiian arts organization, mentoring youth to be cultural storytellers and community muralists. I had just moved back to Oʻahu and I knew I wanted to continue doing more community work with a bigger collective of artists and creatives. I began volunteering with 808 Urban’s crew of cultural workers and street art mentors. It changed my life being able to have the opportunity to work on such a grassroots level. In those four years I immersed myself in all levels of building a nonprofit community program. Working like that was more gritty, deep, and healing than I ever imagined. It sparked a strong desire to heal, and I began to dig deep into myself to address my own generational trauma.
Sometimes the work overwhelmed me. I had so much guilt and shame inside, and I felt I could never do enough. I was full of anguish - how had these things gone on so long, and seemingly unnoticed? Not just within me, but through generations of people? I refused to carry this forward...it was absolutely time to begin healing. I dove deeper for answers and reached out to healers, meditation, and turned to my journal and art. “How could we heal as a community? How could I heal generational trauma in myself? Could art heal pain and suffering?” I never realized how much I was hurting inside until I started working with youth. The projects I was attracted to touched the core of my being, both creatively and emotionally. I realized that so many of us doing activism, nonprofit, and social work need so much healing ourselves. We can give too much away when we need to spend time refilling, being in silence, and connecting back to the Earth. In these past few years I have met so many strong and dedicated people. I am continuing to hope that our movements for change are creating a massive collective healing. As I continue to work with community programs, I am most interested in collaborating with those that create opportunities for women and children, as I see them as the catalyst to stronger community health. Itʻs been a long journey to unravel these memories, but Iʻm finding my way back and it feels so good to wake up and remember I am creating the life I desire.
In 2011, I co-piloted a program for our youth to start a temporary store-front in downtown Honolulu called "The Refuge". They had the opportunity to fundraise for their community mural projects through creative monthly collaboration events that would enable them to sell their art to the public and test market their ideas to a real audience. As I saw our youth growing in self-confidence, connecting with their community, and expanding their dreams, "hands-on experience" became my passion. I was deeply inspired by the growth I was seeing in the youth and myself and I saw a vision for our future educational models, where collaborative skills-building and intergenerational mentorship opportunities moved learning and creative solutionizing into our everyday communities. These thoughts became the beginning threads of my creative dream of building a Community School & Socially-Conscious Economic Incubator for women and youth. From here I went on to partner and work with numerous other community organizations in Hawaiʻi, some of which include, Kokua Kalihi Valley, Worknetʻs CARE Project, and Mana Maoli.
I admit I have a lot of passions. If someone asks me what I do itʻs not usually a straightforward answer. I’m a trained seamstress, textile designer, metalsmith, community-arts program developer, creativity coach, craft-maker, mother… yep :) I sometimes stress about translating all of this to someone, and in certain social circumstances I can feel like a lunatic. I realize that I canʻt just define myself with a simple title. If I did it would be like something out of a science magazine, “Human Trying to Remember Their Roots”. A story about my journey to decolonization - a trek back to my intuition. Haha yeah right, ok Paia girl. It’s hard to be real, and talk about where you’re at in our modern society where self-work and creativity is dismissed as frivolous and childʻs play. But daaaang I need my child’s play back!!! We all do!! While integrating Eco-Art Therapy into my training, I did an incredible activity on this, delving into all sorts of self-reflective experiences that put me back into the mind of a child. I was remembering how good it felt to be silly, and realizing that tapping into the carefree-ness of children feels like putting a little bit of healing balm on my heart :) Through the process I was always writing and reflecting on things like, “What does taking any situation “seriously” mean? When is it “appropriate” and “not appropriate” to be child-like? How does “being like a child” expand my creative potential?” Iʻve learned that ruminating on these kinds of curious and poignant questions gives me all sorts of new awareness. Being a new mother now and playing with my son is also really helping me with coming back to this. There is nothing like witnessing his unfolding curiosity, silliness, and infinite creative potential. Some care-free wild abandonment is necessary for our sanity :)
Me in my big red cape, utilizing child’s play in the yard
I’ve chosen the framework for Wisdom Circles carefully and I believe itʻs manifested into my life for a purpose greater than myself. The incredible founder of Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching, Jill Badonsky, has a background in psychotherapy, and has created a working model to move through creative blocks like procrastination, overwhelm and perfectionism. Jill also stresses the importance of having fun and learning to be more playful in our work. She taught me to use language a lot more carefully. Words like “explore”, “I get to do this”, “percolate not procrastinate”, and ways to use simple perspective shifts to keep going. As she lovingly refers to herself as a “recovering perfectionist” I began learning a lot about how my own perfectionism was holding me in a fearful prison. I was afraid to fail - shit I was afraid to start because it might not be perfect! The tool “5 minutes to get started” really helped me with this, along with approaching things with the mind of a child. In that supportive space, I felt liberated to do something purposefully imperfect. (Iʻll be using this blog to share helpful tools and resources). Many of the clients and professionals I’ve worked with so far are dear friends or have become so. The experience of holding an affirming space and offering simple tools for people to find their own wisdom,to see it work for yourself and others is an aha moment! I’ve felt pure joy and gratitude to be able to redefine and expand my relationship with friends by experiencing their growing transformation. I am so grateful for these sacred and deeply healing experiences.
As artists we have an advantage to stimulate people. Our work can visually, mentally, and spiritually attract people to us. It has the power to change lives, and should be used with our utmost kuleana (both our privilege and our responsibility). My handmade products line, “Art and Wearable Remedies,”are the transformation of my art. I found confirmation in knowing this was the next stage of my art journey about a year ago when, inspired by the community work I was doing, Eco-Art Therapy, and my new Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coaching training I was intuitively led to make a visual art creation to address a trauma in my female lineage. I created a moonflower image and printed it onto a pillow and pressed it to my stomach. I called it, “Healing the Womb of my Grandmother” and it felt like coming home again. This art is my answer to balancing the experiences of healing myself and community. They answer a question I once asked the earth, “what can I do for you that heals us both”?
Wisdom Circles "Art Remedy" Designs. Organic Cotton Doll &
pillow printed with olena (hawaiian turmeric) and Alaeʻa clay.
I recognize that so many of us are experiencing feelings of unrest and trauma. We’ve both lost the intuitive part of ourselves that knows how to live joyously and peacefully and turned to Google searches for all our answers. The community we once simply observed and lived is fragmented and we’ve forgotten what was once innate. How can I find my way home? Back to that “all good” feeling again? In Eco-Art Therapy as well as indigenous knowledge, I am taught again to go back outside to the earth to observe. In nature, we are reminded of our universal language that teaches us how to live in harmony with all beings.
Eco-art early morning doodles.
These are the things our ancestors knew,what native peoples still know, and what I am learning from books and snippets of experience. And right now, I am craving to sit with the Wisdom Keepers. I am ready to honor and respect them and gain the knowledge that will help me manifest these dreams. Google, you are no longer my main guide. I’m going to keep practicing the silence. For there I am learning to tap back into the thick, sweet and steady energy of ancient beings - the winds, the mountains, the oceans. And, when I re-acquaint with this deep stillness, I can remember everything I need to know. This website coming together and finally launching feels magnificent! I am so excited for this next unfolding of the journey that is moving my dreams out into the world to collaborate with others. Thank you for being with me.
I am remembering
I am the learner and the teacher
I am the creator and the co-creator
I am inspired by all around me
I have the tools and the will and the courage to keep going
This is a coming back to myself
I am thanking all those who have guided me along the way
I am becoming all that I am
Pa`a Ka Waha - Observe, Be Silent and Learn - Hawaiian Proverb