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Robin Hickman

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'Peace' Is Pretty in Pink, Too!

Posted: 09/17/2012 12:00 am

The stress and strains of our always-connected lives can sometimes take us off course. GPS For The Soul can help you find your way back to balance.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what works for others in the hopes that you can find out what works for yourself. Whether it's photos that relax you or make you smile, songs that bring you back to your heart, quotes or poems that bring you balance or meditative exercises that help you de-stress, we all have tricks that we use when we get bent out of shape. We encourage you to look at the GPS Guide below, visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and harmony.

Twenty years ago, a divine gift touched my soul and stirred my spirit. While visiting my cousin in California, her then-6-year-old daughter Nikki and I spent a whole glorious day playing dolls. She asked me if I had any dolls, I replied "No, girl, I'm too old." She sharply responded, "No you're not, cousin Robin, you're never too old." She sparked a childhood passion -- I longed for my Christy and Julia Barbie dolls. I returned from the trip and raced to the nearest toy store. On the shelf... Nigerian Barbie, she was amazing, she came home with me! I admired her for a few days, I dared not de-boxing her. Because of my full community service flow and transitioning from a job at City Hall to start to run a foundation for an NBA player, the doll was soon in the bottom of the closet. The new position didn't work out -- courtside after a game, the player informed me of his decision to go to another team. I'd just left my good government job, now, with no job, fear and depression set in. Two little cousins to the rescue -- Arie and Starsha came over for slumber party. We did the pizza thang, pedicures, dancing, "OK, time for bed..." No, "Cousin Robin, don't you have some dolls to play with?" I directed them to the closet, I'd picked up a few outfits and a male companion for the African queen doll. Not satisfied, they said, "Is this it, where's the 'dream house,' more clothes and car?" I promised I'd add to the collection for their next visit.

I was on a mission to fulfill my commitment -- but wait, there was no money coming in. I couldn't justify putting clothes on dolls' backs or tricking them out with a house and transportation when my livelihood was in jeopardy. Did I mention depression, no place to go every day, worried and tired. Many mornings I felt emotionally paralyzed, but true to form managed to present the Robin's-got-it-together posture, making up believable excuses for the disengagement. Only dearest momma knew the real deal, she let me do me for a minute, knowing I needed this season of disconnect. Then, her lovin' guidance back to prayer and mediation on scripture, "Be still and know I'm God." I realize it was the appointed time to bask in the peace of being still and hearing His voice. Then the divine intervention God placed on my spirit: "I've given you the gift of vision and creativity. Go to the dolls, give them voice and find their spirits." Being an artist at heart and media producer by profession, it was clear that I was to create a unique world for them... Let the healing begin. I rescued the dolls from the closet, made clothes and furniture to put in a makeshift "dream house."

With financial fears lifting, I invested in a few more dolls (don't ask how many I have now). I also began writing stories about my mini-folk, I gave them identities and careers. One of the story-lines, "Robin," the redressed Nigerian Barbie, became an executive producer in public television. I was looking for employment during my "time off," and after a month of being unemployed, was blessed to be hired at a faith-based organization. I had no way of knowing six months later I'd be working at the local PBS station and moonlighting on the crew of an HBO mini-series. Three years after that, I was promoted to Executive Producer of Community Affairs Programming. The journey nurtured so many personal visions of possibilities, I'd rediscovered the power of play, passion and peace.

I can't think of a time during the past 20 years when God, in times of discontentment or loss, hasn't returned me to the doll passion. Often it is my joy in midst of struggle. Today, I often tell the girls I work with in a program I founded, Lovin' the Skin I'm In, "If I'm pushing 50 and still playing dolls, you can at 12." Once the girls see my collection, artistry or photographs, they experience the peace in playing with a reflection of their beauty. For over five decades, the representation of "pretty in pink" was an iconic doll that didn't look like me or many of the girls I walk with. Just today (Sept. 12, 2012), I received a news release about New York Fashion Week's debut of a Pink for a Cause doll, "Pink Diamond Barbie," by designers The Blonds. I'm not mad, but now even more proud to present "PEACE" and the other sisters from my SoulReal Doll Community. The restyled dolls are from Mattel, I design the sets/scenes, make the hats and craft the mini props. Many of the beauties pose in the set I designed after the passing of my beautiful mother-sister Patricia, it's inspired by her favorite in our home.

The divinely given gift to create imagery and opportunities for play with purpose, brings me joy, calm, hope... PEACE.

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