Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Birdhouse Project

One of the most interesting workshops I attended at the International Compassionate Friends conference was called The Birdhouse Project. It is a step-by-step symbolic project to help us identify and find our way back to life after a loss.

Each of us in the workshop was given a cardboard birdhouse to put together consisting of seven pieces. On each piece on the side which would eventually face the inside of the birdhouse when we were done, we were asked various questions about our lives.

On the first piece of the birdhouse we needed to recognize the forces, beliefs or people that create a strong enough foundation for us to move forward. Sometimes deciding what doesn’t belong in our lives is just as important. The question we answered was “Who am I?” We wrote our answers on this cardboard.

As the audience listening put the pieces together symbolically with the cardboard, the speaker used actual wood and nailed the sides of his together until it was completed.

The second piece we were to answer, “What questions or emotions are we still struggling with?” By identifying what feelings are keeping us down, we can start to move beyond them. The question: What do I feel now?

The third piece is to identify things we wish we would have done differently: things we should have said or opportunities we wish we would have seized. The question to write answers to: “How am I physically reacting to emotions I feel?

Fourth, our affirmation is the first thing we see as we enter this new life we are creating. An affirmation is a positive quote, thought or phrase that motivates us, and it is the one lesson we need to be reminded of every day. The topic that went on this portion of the birdhouse: “I can…” This gives us something positive on which to focus.

Fifth, is our goals, our measureable steps we take to feel good about your affirmation. It outlines the actions you will take in order to get where you want to be. Symbolically, these are the last things you see before you step out of your safe space (the birdhouse) and fly out into the larger world. Try for three measurable goals. The question that is answer on this piece of the birdhouse is “How can I accomplish what I affirm?”

Now our birdhouse has a foundation and four walls. The shelter, the roof of the birdhouse is the largest piece. On this piece is expressed the people, obligations and feelings we vow to keep safe. After rebuilding our life, we are going to want others to come and see the new us; this shelter piece represents our promise that we are dedicated to keeping it together, even when the weather gets a little rough.

Now all the pieces should be together with all the writings facing in. When this is done, attach the perch. Give others a place to stand and an open invitation to come and see the safe space you have created, and let them decide if they trust it enough to stay for a while. It takes time for others to understand what we’ve been through, so give them a place to sit while they think about it.

By seeing how these pieces represent the pieces of our lives, we can express our weaknesses, strengths and desires as we symbolically rebuild our lives so we are ready to host new life. This building process encourages us to spend time exploring our emotions and putting each in its proper place. Whether we share our feelings or keep them to ourselves, the important thing is that we are putting the pieces back together in a meaningful, constructive way.

You may want to revisit your affirmation and goals from time to time and (just like life) you may need to clean the birdhouse out every few seasons to make sure you are keeping things fresh. This is how you start over: step-by-step, studying each piece of your experience in the hopes of understanding what will make you whole again – or maybe whole for the first time.

I hope we all give our lives some thought and meaning and build our birdhouses to express our struggles, strengths and dreams. It is never too late to pick up the pieces of our lives and put them back together.

Note: Sorry this wasn't published this past Sunday as all my blogs are done on Sundays, but I didn't realize that I had put in the wrong date for this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Sandy. Your directions are so specific ~ This is something all of us can use! Blessings to you ♥