Saturday, June 11, 2011

March BJP Finished - Difficult to write about....

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP, detail 2011
When you look at this detail picture and the whole piece below, what do you think it's about?

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP 2011

bead embroidery by Robin Atkins, Higher Power, March BJP
Like all of my BJP pieces this year, the cross represents the intersection between me and something else going on in my life. What do you think this is?

If you have the impression that it has something to do with spirituality, you're right. It's about me and my higher power.

This is a difficult subject for me, ever since my early college years when I abandoned all faith in the Christian church after witnessing several improprieties by the pastor of the Congregational Church where I had been Confirmed. For decades I declared myself an agnostic.

In my 50s, writing and reading poetry, learning Tai Chi, and befriending an artist-shaman who introduced me to the concept of "totem animals," brought me out of agnosticism and into a limbo of vague spiritualism. In this realm, there was no supreme being and definitely no force responsive to me or my needs. Rather, it seemed more like the power of positive thinking. A small force stemming from within me toward good, healing and beauty; a connection to the same force in others. There was a contentment in those years and an optimism I'd never felt before.

After getting married and moving to the small island community where I live now, my connections faded somewhat and I lost spiritual ground. Then, a year ago in March, something happened that will forever change my life... I became aware that my whole life of yo-yo dieting, overeating and binging was a matter of addiction. (I write about it on Words Paint.)

For the first time I grasped that I, alone, can not control my eating, that only if I admit I am a compulsive overeater and yield my will to a higher power, only then might I regain sanity. If you have not suffered addiction, or if you have seen me and seen that I am not morbidly obese, you may think I exaggerate. I do not. Whether dieting or gaining, I constantly thought about food, driven and obsessed particularly by sweets like chocolate, cake, cookies, pastries, ice cream, pie and candy, hating myself for it all the while.

I had no choice. I joined Overeaters Anonymous, became abstinent on the above mentioned sweets, lost about 60 pounds in the past year, and finally began to grapple with the concept of a higher power... faith and serenity, not from within me, but from outside me and available to me. At this point, I believe in a force for good and balance within the universe. I believe this force is what keeps me abstinent, keeps me from falling again into the grip of addiction.

I have tried to illustrate this force in my March BJP, the intersection between me and my higher power. Thanks for reading along... writing this post has helped me to clarify my thoughts and beliefs, as did working on the piece.


  1. Anonymous3:51 AM

    Your piece is lovely and I saw the spirituality immediately although I didn't know what the immediate issue was. Good for you for joining OA and sticking with it. I too am a sugar binger. As one who has hidden in the bathroom to eat an entire box of snack cakes so no one will see, I can relate to both you and your March project, way to go!

  2. Read your blog with great interest as I can so identify with all you have said. My life has always been a roller coaster of ups and downs and I know that I eat to cope with stress. I finally sorted out my sugar compulsion, started walking every day, joined a group for meditation and I felt so much better and of course lost weight. Unfortunately moving across the world to another country set me back considerably. Some two years later I am starting all over again to sort out my disastrous eating habits, it will take time and a lot of courage but I am getting there.

  3. My eyes see this as beauty, peace and acceptance!

  4. I see intricacy that probably reflects working through complicated issues, yet I also see a peaceful delicacy. It's lovely!

  5. I've been staring at this piece for a few minutes, knowing that all those impeccably placed beads, so delicately and so carefully sewn into place, were all assembled in an improvisational way. Your work always astounds me for that reason. Whatever it is that guides your hands (drives your spirit) during this process is the definition of this *intersection* to my mind. I hope I'm making sense...

    'Tis utterly beautiful, Robin. And if I knew you just a little less, I wouldn't know which of the lines of the cross was you and which was your higher power. Perhaps THAT is the entire point I was trying to say :>]

  6. What a lovely piece of art as well as the explanation of what is behind the idea.

  7. Well, knowing a little about you from blogging, I knew what the piece was about. I found it very interesting that you used the rabbit as the focal.

    I could identify with all your thoughts until you spoke about the outside force. Your perception of an outside force gives me pause for contemplation of the theory. Is it so different than the belief that positive thought attracts positive energy. I don't know.

    The piece is great. I'm glad your still beading your thoughts.
    xx, Carol

  8. You are such an inspiration to me. First of all is your encouragement to do improvisational bead embroidery. And now, reading this entry, I understand you have also encouraged me to journal about things usually kept private. Your comments about my work mean the world to me, along with those by other members of the BJP Blog.

  9. Your beadwork is gorgeous - and thank you for sharing your story and congrats on losing the weight and confronting some important issues in your life. Creating art can be such a great outlet for working out one's personal issues and or concerns, and you piece is lovely as well as inspirational!

  10. This is truly lovely, Robin. The fabric is such an integral part of the piece, too; that is wonderful. I think I remember you've been quilting more lately, and to me that influence the good!

    It always amazes me how personal and truthful you can be here on your blog. I know you help a lot of people by sharing your inner work. And I am so thrilled by what's happened for you and by you in this last year, at this oh so heavenly intersection...
    xoxo allie

  11. There is really only one word for this piece and your thoughts and feelings around it: Beautiful!

  12. Even though I wasn't able to continue with BJP this year, I still follow as many blogs as I can. This is beautiful. I am passing along what you so unselfishly share with us to my students. It's such a rush when you realize that they finally get it. Thank you, Robin, for all you give us.

  13. Dear Robin, what a burden you have carried for so long! I have followed your blog for some time and know you have mentioned your weight issues, although not so powerfully as here. Your work helped turn me on to beading and you are my silent mentor, silent because of course you don't know me. More than ever, I admire your strength and courage and especially at the moment when I am really stuck in my life. Thank you.

  14. Once again you astound me with your honesty and insight. it is a beautiful block. It reminds me of Alice down the rabbit hole.
    Analisa in Dubai

  15. To my dear, wonderful readers... I am so blessed by your understanding... To try to write about such a personal topic like this and then see that my readers totally get it... well, that's awesome! Thank you!

    Robin A

  16. My immediate reaction upon seeing this lovely piece, even before I read your blog, was the word nurture. As I read your blog, it seems apparent you have been nurtured and loved - from an outside source. This is a beautiful portrayal of that

  17. This is a very beautiful page as they all are. The line that represents you is very obvious but, I confess, I thought that this cross represents the intersection of you and your Mother!


Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!