Storyropes – A Bridge To Release Trauma

IMG_7278
My Storyrope

I’ve been on a nearly year-long journey of fighting cancer for a second go round. Stage four breast cancer. I’m in what they call palliative care, but that’s not hospice just yet. My oncologist is firm that they are very different. One can be fighting cancer in palliative care for years, even. (Many days I think I can’t handle the fatigue or nausea one more day, and I want a loving hospice team to scoop me up and kindly carry me into Heaven.) That’s the way to go! People call me brave and courageous; I whimper in my bed and marvel that others see me as strong. Yes, I get up most days, push through the fatigue after a lengthily time praying, singing to myself, and listening to an encouraging talk or Psalms.

10805652_797752396953237_8444947338475764_n
Teaching Storyropes in Haiti

But this post is about storyropes. And bridges to release trauma. I want to share via video because I’ve slowly read, limped through some excellent training, taken a bit of yoga, tried relaxing, breathing techniques, and still I see the making of a storyrope is a key and profound way to engage, explore and release our stories. So, I am determined to make a storyrope demo video as soon as I have the strength, with the hope that the teaching can be translated into several languages as I teach. A friend from Hong Kong is coming mid-september, she has taught storyropes there, and I hope she can help make the video.

11041717_859698534091956_5831628887210594948_n
Teaching Storyropes in Seattle

I’ve learned a few things this summer:

  1. We all tend to carry shame and hide it.
  2. Many have had shameful things done to them.
  3. Many have done shameful things they fear ever exposing.
  4. Our bodies and brains store our shame, our trauma, our losses and abuses.
  5. The shame, trauma, etc, can be released through: art, music, drama, movement, poetry, yoga. Secondary “talk therapy” may be helpful once bridges have been built with the creative arts. Example: A formerly trafficked woman may see a tree in misty shadows and begin to cry. The art tapped into her deep sorrow at walking the streets, and now, she began putting words to what she was feeling upon seeing the misty tree that looked like she felt.
  6. The storyrope making is a kinesthetic activity. Movement is good for releasing trauma. and it is coupled with “telling” our stories through colors of fabric and ribbons that represent parts of our stories.
  7. Once words are found for the strips of fabric and ribbon, shame begins to be released from our minds, emotions, bodies and souls.
  8. I like to care for someone who shares their story with the storyrope by asking if they would like prayer – to speak truth and life into dark and evil, shameful situations. Quiet listening and grieving with the person sharing their storyrope in best.
  9. Reading some Psalms may be helpful in soothing wounded places. African friends would often sing in community after each woman shared their story.
  10. If participants want, in prayer, they may release their trauma to a just God who loves them. I’m respectful of all participants; we are each in different places in our spiritual journey. We never want to add trauma by pushing people to share something they are not ready to share this time. They may share with a counselor, women’s leader, pastor, rabbi, priest or a family member with whom they really feel safe.

The video below was made last year, and it just tells a bit of how to get started with making storyropes. I hope to expand this video into a teaching video in the days ahead, Lord willing. Thanks for joining me on this journey, and thanks for your many prayers. Our God hears! We just have to relax into His sovereign love, that is shown by Jesus.

11800252_938068409588301_6358684269321971851_n
Storyropes in Peru – A woman set free that night!

Pausing Watercolor For Storyropes™

18489_874036809324795_8460519206591347081_n

I have taken a brief pause from my Italian watercolor in order to cut ribbons and fabric for an upcoming storyropes™ workshop, scheduled for early December. I am praying, praying, praying I will be strong enough to lead the workshop. I should be fine, strength-wise, since it will be right before my fourth chemo appointment. Above, you see the beginnings of someone’s storyrope™. A storyrope™ is a visual timeline of the most important events in a person’s story.

DSC_0059

To prepare for leading a storyropes™ workshop, I cut ribbon and fabric in strips of 10 inches, and the strips are about an inch wide. These strips will represent the important parts of our stories. Colors represent different things in different cultures. A variety of colors is important to have available for participants.

DSC_0058

Black in one culture might represent death or loss, while in another culture, death or loss is represented by white. I never indicate what the colors mean for any group I serve.

DSC_0064

Red in some cultures is a hated color because it represents an oppressive regime. Other cultures love the color red. Sometimes, red may represent a boy child born to the person telling her story.

11041717_859698534091956_5831628887210594948_n

As these colorful strips of fabric are tied along one long, thin strip of fabric, the person making the storyrope™ is remembering hard parts, as well as joyful parts, of her story. It’s a very tactile and visual way of remembering. No words need to be written.

11025157_859698614091948_3232823775248470375_n

I offer lots of varieties of colors and fabrics for the participants to use in telling their stories. One bit of fabric may draw out a memory hidden deep in one’s heart. Trauma may come out, even while creating the stroyrope™ Click on the video for a brief introduction to one way storyropes™ may be used.

Storyropes™ in Peru – Part 2

11817050_937678159627326_6157150059013194835_n
We began our time of storying, by having both the American team and the Peruvian leaders make storyropes™ and pray through their stories. This entailed two workshops. We eventually put all our storyropes™ together on a gold chord. The gold chord represents God’s overarching story. We are part of God’s larger story of redemption.
11222133_937564339638708_5899392247193713461_n
One from the American team is tying on her storyrope™. Her story matters, and is important for telling God’s story. Without her story, God’s story is incomplete.
11800252_938068409588301_6358684269321971851_n
This dear woman came forward with her storyrope™ completely overcome with sorrow. She asked for help from Konnie to share her story. I saw her meeting with Konnie one on one, and eventually she joined a small group of women, where she shared her difficult story.
11822529_938068326254976_8243436947589422347_n
She eventually did tell her story, released deep trauma, and asked Jesus to save her from sin and death. What joy was expressed when she hung her storyrope™ on the gold chord that represents God’s story! We were all rejoicing with her! God sets the captives free. Bring light and life(Jesus) into our stories, and evil slinks, scurries away!
11811408_938068232921652_8991280259866745769_n
After tying their storyropes™ to the gold chord, each woman received a crown to remind her of her worth and significance as a woman and daughter of the King of Kings. Many have been abused, violated, enslaved, beaten, and abandoned by the most important people in their lives. They began to see their true selves and embrace their stories.
11816871_938068286254980_1560603607149053295_n
As we looked at the tapestry our storyropes™ made, it helped us to remember we are not alone, and we matter for the telling of God’s beautiful, larger story. The telling of the darks and lights are important in creating this beauty.

I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise. Isaiah 60:17, 18

Storyropes™ in Seattle

11048677_860170747378068_9029615822421492006_n
Women’s Storyropes™ made in the Seattle area. Each story is important, is part of God’s larger story, and is a vital part of telling God’s story. The gold chord represents God’s story.

Recently, I had the honor of leading a Storyropes™ workshop with Trisha, the lead for The Creative Call, Washington. It was a group of six women, leaders in a church. I really appreciate caring for women in small settings, so I was happy for the intimacy of this gathering. I began our sharing by “reading” my collaged book of the woman who encountered Jesus at a well in Samaria. Then, I shared my story with my storyrope™.

After sharing, I invited the women to share their stories by using ribbons and fabric to “tell” their stories. It is a unique way to share without words – at least to begin our journeys of releasing our stories to God, and embracing them ourselves. (We often run from at least part of our stories.) We can put color to an event when we can’t find our words.

11025157_859698614091948_3232823775248470375_n
Bright ribbons and fabrics, as well as darker colors, are laid out for the women to tell their stories. Quiet music is played while the women process their stories with the supplies.
11041717_859698534091956_5831628887210594948_n
The ribbons and fabric are tied along a slim strip of fabric which is about a meter long. This is hard, helpful and important work. This section of the workshop may take up to an hour in the USA.
10422941_859698587425284_5050750702640368243_n
Storyropes™ are completed. Now, the women are ready to share their stories, and receive prayer from our small, loving group.

Our morning together was a time to bring healing and hope to our stories. The time of prayer for each woman was important soul work. For more information on story ropes™, check out my description at my website here: The Creative Call, Storyropes™

Storyropes™ and Prayer

Marcia_B&W

A vital part of the work I do, along with team members, is praying through women’s stories as they share their art, and thus their stories. The art often reveals dark, traumatic or shameful parts of their stories. Wrong choices, words, actions are confessed. There are people to forgive, through prayer, as one’s story is shared. Abusers are brought to Jesus and the work He has done on the cross. Jesus has died for each of our sins, and for every sin committed against us. Justice has been done. Payment for wrongs have been made on the cross.

P1070244
A participant sharing her storyrope™ in Kirkland, Washington.

One friend recently stopped me in the middle of a parking lot. She had made her storyrope™ a couple of weeks earlier, with a friend I had trained. (She had not wanted to make a story rope™.) She was so excited to tell me – “I get it now – bringing things to Jesus – and now I CAN FEEL HIS LOVE!” We hugged, and I just stood there and thanked God for His kindness, mercy and grace.

I really understand her excitement over actually FEELING – really sensing God’s love in a tangible, experiential way. Until trauma, violation, deep sorrow, etc., is lifted from our hearts, it is often very hard for us to feel anything. Making art to help tell our stories can lift trauma from our hearts, as we bring these things to God in prayer, and we may begin to FEEL all sorts of emotions for the first time – including God’s love.

Marcia_a rope

This type of prayer, done with art, is intense, important work. Each woman’s story is handled with careful listening and praying. Lies are disputed, truth is spoken into each part of each story shared. And then, trauma seems to lift, and many women can feel, maybe for the first time, love – the love of Jesus, and the love of others.

Haiti – Storyropes™

10805652_797752396953237_8444947338475764_n

After the Bible teaching with each of group of women(SEE HERE FOR THAT STORY), I shared my story with my storyrope™. I taught that each of our stories matter and are important to God. I told the ladies, “Just like the woman at the well, He knows our stories and wants a love relationship with each of us.” Our stories are safe with Jesus, no matter how hard or shameful our stories may be. Then, we had the ladies make their own storyropes™ to use as a bridge for telling their stories. They sensed they had permission to share hard parts of their stories, and eagerly made their ropes.

10173555_797104610351349_2674691767507005129_n

As the women finished making their storyropes™, they broke into small groups. Within the intimacy of their small group, each woman received the gifts of careful listening, prayer, and hugs of compassion. They saw they have an important voice – they were worth our careful listening and prayer

Marcia's Haiti

After this time of sharing, the women hung their storyropes™ on God’s story rope – represented by a gold chord. They saw a tapistry of fabrics and ribbons to help them picture the truth – each of our stories are part of God’s larger story and matter for the telling of His story.

10547468_797104803684663_8670754192776484049_n

My prayer is that the women really sensed, in their hearts, how much Jesus loves them, and because of that, shame, violation, loss, unforgiveness and loneliness started to lift from the their hearts as they shared their stories. We heard many stories of sorrow, loss, violation, spiritual abuse, but in the end, many tied bright green ribbons on their ropes to represent hope. Part 3 coming soon!

“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18

Marcia's Haiti2We ended our day with the ladies by dancing. Many wore their story ropes, as I did, shown above. We ended with joy, hope and celebration!

MAKE A STORYROPE: Click Here.

The Creative Call’s New Blog Location

Yes! You have arrived at the new The Creative Call blog. Marcia Carole here. I have moved so that I can have greater flexibility in my posting. My website, The Creative Call, will still feature instructions for artistic, creative ways to engage art with story, but my blog will be over here. The two will be connected for easy maneuverability!

10644894_771375966257547_4018406403352764934_n

Please come back again; I hope to post memories from my trip to Haiti, and I’ll have my Christmas cards for sale here. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey!