Itâ€™s almost a new year and I feel all prickly with happy anticipation. As my soulsister Jen Lemen always says, â€œSomething hopeful this way comes.â€ To paraphrase Harry Met Sally, â€œSheâ€™s right, sheâ€™s right, I know sheâ€™s rightâ€â€¦.and isnâ€™t it about time?
So hereâ€™s what I think my soulsiblings: if we are going to build tribes, launch book projects, fill our portfolios, have babies, beackon the lovely, and just generally make space to get things born, weâ€™d better get ready. And for me, the number one thing I need to do to get ready is to get my Gremlins to QUIET THE FUCK DOWN!
You probably need that too, right? Whatâ€™s that you say? What are Gremlins? WHAT ARE GREMLINS?! Oh, you SO need to know this terminology. Sit down, sistah.
â€œGremlinâ€ is the term coined in Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson. Itâ€™s a way of describing the little voices in your head that tell you untrue things. This American Life did a great piece on Gremlins called The Devil In Me. In the second act Nancy Updike asks people what the little voice inside their heads is telling them. The answers are at turns tragic, stunning, and most of all, utterly familiar. Go ahead and have a listen. Weâ€™ll waitâ€¦
Are you back? Did you hear your own Gremlins in there? I know I did.
When my life coach, Jena Strong, first suggested that I started working with my Gremlins, I wanted to throw the book at her head. I couldnâ€™t pin my Gremlins down long enough to find out if they had girl parts or boy parts; I couldnâ€™t read their name tags; and doggonit, they were LEGION! My Gremlins? They were very, VERY noisy.
Then Jen suggested that I take all the voices in my head and make hash marks. In any given day how many times did my Gremlins say something nice to me, and how many times did they say something negative? I tried this. After 48 hours I did not have one single hash mark in the positive column. The negative column on the other hand was quite lively.
Jen said that since my Gremlins were so very busy, maybe I should build them somewhere to go after work. After all, they did have my best intentions at heart. They were trying to protect me â€“ to keep me from doing anything scary, or potentially painful, or too awfully adventuresome. So maybe I should give them a nice shag carpet and, in the words of Jena â€œsit them down and pour them a stiff drink already.â€
So I did. I made them a crash pad in the charming urban-decay style. Wall paper, gilt mirrors, and battery operated twinkly lightsâ€¦I spared no expense. As I worked on this mansion for the little demons, my un-namable Gremlins began to take dimension and shape. They became less ethereal, and more manageable. Soon the legion was happily ensconced in a pretty little Gremlin dollhouse.
Now that I was a full five feet taller than they were, I felt empowered. I could totally kick their butts. Like Jen says, if they misbehave I could just send them to paperdoll Gitmo.
I rapidly discovered I was not at all pleased that Gremlin Blythe had allowed the other Gremlins to propagate, so I made her put everybody on a neat little leash. The next step was to let the Gremlins take ownership of their own messages, so they didnâ€™t rattle around in my busy little mind. Iâ€™ve always adored those little slips of paper that come in fortune cookies, so I cut a whole stack of them and put them next to a tin in the Gremlin dollhouse. Here are just some of the messages that filled that tin up in the first few hours:
â€œWhere you are is not good enough.â€
â€œYou never get enough done.â€
â€œYour passions arenâ€™t strong enough.â€
â€œYou canâ€™t climb out of this confusion.â€
â€œYou never finish anything.â€
Now, keep in mind that I have been writing, reading, and carrying around affirmations to counter these messages for weeks. But something about writing them down in their negative, shitty versions was totally empowering. Now they belonged not to me, but to this third person â€“ the Gremlins. They werenâ€™t mine to have and to hold, and they werenâ€™t mine to carry. Now Blythe and her crew could tuck them away on their bookshelf and keep them dusted and alphabetized. Not. My. Problem.
I cannot tell you strongly enough how much of a breakthrough this has been for me. My noisy Gremlins are much quieter these days, and when they do start getting chatty I act like a staff writer from the Evening Postâ€”I just make the report. The quote gets shorthaneded onto a slip of paper and tucked into their dollhouse. End of story.
Since the Gremlin Dollhouse had debuted on my shelf of shrines, it has captured several pairs of eyes. Catie has one nowâ€”a whole Gremlin villageâ€”and Mabes has worked up a version that looks a like a set from Skins. …What about you? Do you need a place to put the voices in your head? Do your naysaying demons need a crash pad? Start gathering images and items that seem Gremlin-ish to you, and see if you can make a place for that negative self talk to take a load off for awhile. This–this silly game of cut, color and paste–thiscould be your breakthrough for a brand New Year.
What are your Gremlinâ€™s name? Do they have a favorite color/outfit/theme song? Let’s get in charge of these whippersnappers! Talk to us in the comments or send us a picture in our Gremlin Dollhouse Flickr group.