On this snowy day, I'm lucky enough to sit down with my friend and fellow children's writer, Bernadette Ziemba, to talk about her new project, "AMHA Dolls Made with Love and Soul."
A: Bernadette, tell us a little bit about yourself and this awesome new project.
B: I'm a Pisces. Creative type. Day-dreamer. I make unique, individually styled, hand-made dolls and donate them to someone in need, specifically those working through traumatic or challenging times. At the moment, the dolls are being donated to women working to overcome addiction.
A: That's such a unique concept. I know you as a writer and SCBWI member--when did you get inspired to start making these amazing dolls?
B: I began this project during a time when one of my children was going through major changes in their life. I had my eyes opened to the amount of pain and struggle people who feel they are living outside the ‘norms’ of society have to deal with. This [project] was my personal response to the anxiety and depression that comes from not living your authentic life.
A: Bernadette, last week I shared that writing LIFELINE helped me to cope with the pain of my loved one's addiction, and to hold a space for hope and recovery. In what ways has working on this project been a "lifeline" for you?
B: At the time my child was struggling, I was having a crisis of my own - one of shattered illusions. I needed something to get me out of my head, something that would keep my hands and my brain busy, so I wouldn’t continue to ruminate on negative thoughts. At first, the dolls were an escape, made for me only. Shortly after, I decided they would be for family and friends who supported me during difficult times. It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t enough; this needed to be something that would go beyond my singular life. That was when I decided to donate them. They were hard to give up, but it was the best decision I could have made. I believe it was through the dolls that I began to heal.
A: Any particularly special experiences you've had in donating them?
B: The recipients love choosing a doll. They love that someone would do this for them. One girl spotted a doll that looked like one she had made for her mom but had lost in a fire. We gave her two dolls; one for herself and one she could give to her mom. Another woman said she was not big on dolls, nor considered herself an emotional person, yet she opened up and cried when she had the chance to choose a doll that reminded her of her mother who had passed away.
A: What are your hopes for how these dolls will impact the people who receive them?
B: The hope of the project is that in good times and bad, the dolls will act as a reminder to the recipients that we are all individual, and we all worthy of someone’s time and love. [I want] these dolls [to] serve as a sign of love and [for] the sentiment they carry [to] remain present in the recipient’s life and [have] the chance to be passed forward to someone new.
A: Thank you so much for talking with me today, Bernadette. Where can people see more of these gorgeous dolls?
B: The dolls have an Instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/amhadolls/
A: We'll be sure to check it out! Best of luck to you and this inspiring project!