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    Out of the Mouths of Babes is an ongoing discussion of mothering and creativity. The blog series with over 50 contributors continues here on Laundry Line Divine. Our live event from the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers is featured on our home page. Start here. The Out Posts

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  • Anthology of Babes is here.

    Do you feel alone in your mothering, that the last vestiges of your own voice chased out the door with the most recent crowd of small people who slammed out of here? An Anthology of Babes is the voice in the room who urges you to come play, pick up your knitting needles, a pen, a paintbrush, to answer your creative yearnings. Read on

Super Powers are dangerous. Quest 2015

Catherine and Suzi 1999
It’s #TBT right? Me and the adventuring Cgirl in 1999.

 

 

Today is January 29, 2015.
That means I am 38 days away from Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others.
That means this blog is about to burble with activity in the Out blog series.
That means I am 25 days away from the show at No. Six Depot of my Coptic stitch journals, titled “What a daily writing practice looks like: The Hand bound journals of Suzi Banks Baum” and the public reading of the women of my Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops.

This also means I am deeply immersed in the small projects I am doing that will illuminate these events. It also means my writing time is divided up and so far, I have slipped out of my long post/short post schedule here on LLD.

My @Quest mate Brenna Layne wrote this post about developing brevity as she hones her time-shaping skills. For many years, I considered multitasking as my super-mother-power-force for maximizing my time. You know, churning the butter while rocking the baby, while working on my abs? Exercising this power, I got cricks in my neck from holding the phone while hanging laundry, dropped the phone in the rain barrel more than once, and nearly blinded myself by leaving a spoon in the blender and looking away at some other small shiny object while I pressed the ON button. The kids were fascinated by the pattern spread across the ceiling from the blueberry smoothie. We will call this episode “another cleaning opportunity” and not chide myself anymore than the nightmares I had about being impaled by a soup spoon have done.

Doing one thing at a time while you have children underfoot is really a challenge. There is always a pot of soup simmering, a load of wash spinning, someone throwing up or jumping off radiators, beds to change and lunches to unpack. And, there is the dreaded topic that I still hate: dinner. For inspiration, I always go here.

Today, no kids underfoot and I am still capable of near death experiences by distraction. I am, however, letting that super power go.

Light Divine Clarity

So to better deliver a quality blog post and magnificent events to you, filled with lasting impressions of real life illuminated by articulate women engaged with their creative voices, I may put up shorter posts this coming month. And perhaps only once a week. There will be guest posts, and photo posts and tiny glimpses of the short movie Lynnette Lucy Najimy and I are making with miles of great footage submitted by many of the women of the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series. The short movie will be full of moments in these women’s lives where they “leave the dishes” as Louise Erdrich suggests in her catalyzing poem, Advice to Myself.

People often ask me how I do all that I do.
I have a couple of answers to that, but I have to admit I am growing my brevity muscle and my “no thank you” muscle and the discipline to consider that the urgency of an incoming email is not something with which I have to engage at the moment of seeing it.

Just writing this makes me feel I have more room to breathe.

Thank you for reading me here on Laundry Line Divine.
Please stay in touch by subscribing to this website.
I do send out a newsletter once a month, usually.
And you can count on at least weekly posts here where I illuminate the sacred in daily life, with kids underfoot or not.

XO S

It was like this

Small girl collage by Suzi Banks Baum text by John O'Donohue

How we parted

 

Moon thanks this field guide,

folds map, tucks it in to the flapped pocket.

Glances once more across the field, ice tipped grasses

night-kissed glisten on one cheek,

dawn pinkens the other.

She slips silently into blue dawn.

 

©Suzi Banks Baum

 

 

 

I am preparing for my Powder Keg Sunday Sessions.

There are still a few seats left at my writing table for this Sunday.

Is your name on one of them?

 

I am adjusting to not having a child in house for these next few months.

After over 20 years, this is oceanic.

Wordless mostly. Quiet.

There is this poem.

And preparations.

Please join my mailing list here on Laundry Line Divine to stay tuned on this exciting season for Out of the Mouths of Babes, the live event March 7 and the blog series.

For today.

This.

It was like this

 

xoS

 

 

The Language of Discipline

Ingrid Kirkegaard on Laundry Line Divine

 

 

I have had to learn whole new ways of speaking since becoming a mother. In my childfree life, I wrote about Marcel Proust and his obsession with time passing. For me, as for him, the obsession with time passing amounted to an obsession with self passing — how, as your life goes by, your identity shifts continually. Different parts of who you are come to rigidify or dissolve. What was once frozen with fear expands to airy liberation. Elements of yourself you thought you could never do without become redundant or obstructive and have to be jettisoned, like empty rocket boosters. The characteristics you held closest to your heart ossify and desiccate. For example, how, from uptight teenager, you learn Expansive Liberal Tolerance as a twenty-something graduate, and from there how you become a mother, and how all that learnt tolerance disappears into the maw of discipline.

 

I had a longstanding relationship with discipline. I was a very, very disciplined child and teenager — my time management was exceptional. I awoke at 5.30am and revised in bed, I was at the piano by 7, and every day without fail my bag was packed and at the door. No one needed to tell me off. But they still did. My discipline was always fleeing whey-faced before a dark-browed father.

 

My excellent time management lasted all the way through university, which was, after all, a bit like school. It only started to crack when I finally had to leave school altogether, and enter the World of Work. Then I learnt about all the ways in which employers and colleagues undermine your self-discipline, through impossible deadlines, boring tasks, power struggles, envy, incompetence, and simple meanness. And I learnt that without the prop of studying for exams, my time management was useless. I turned out to be as lazy as everyone else, when I didn’t want to do something. This discovery threw me so much that I ran back to university, thinking that this was where I would find my likeminded community of non-disciplinarian souls, all engaged in lifelong labours of love.

 

Wrong. Once I had to teach others how to manage their time, as a lecturer, my own discipline went even more pear-shaped. It’s not that I didn’t complete tasks to the deadline, but that the way I went about finishing turned into insanity: last-minute scrabbles, tearful up-all-nighters without the benefit of following-day lazing. It scrambled me. I talked the talk of calm practice, day-to-day discipline and creative nurture, but I did not walk the walk.

 

At the same time, disciplinarians who were not my father were closing in on me. Bullies, delighting in abusing their positions of power (I could be specific but will refrain), sniffed me out and hounded me for minor misdemeanours. I did not know what to do with myself.

 

In the first few months after having my daughter, I lived embraced in the milky syncopation of her heartbeat, entirely looked after by her needs. No need to manage my own time, it was taken care of. No need for discipline, who needs to discipline a baby? I managed to extend this to the whole of her first three years, by moving to Australia, and starting my first novel. I could write while she was at nursery, and also spend several days a week with her. I complained publicly that I never had enough time to write, because I felt it de rigueur to complain, but secretly I was happy, rocked in the rhythm of her days. I did not know what lay ahead.

 

Because then… then there were two. A boy. Lover of women, charmer of all, dark-souled, uncontained, pure ego. And discipline came to visit me once again. Time management turned into sticks that beat me incessantly, a relentless roll call of disparate dull claims — feeding, shopping, cleaning, running for the tube, deadlines, running to pick up, doctors’ appointments, activities, suffering the comments of other mothers, nursery staff, school staff — and that discipline found its doppelgänger inside me. When my uppity son did not conform, I disciplined. Not kindly, but brutally. Angrily, forcefully, without finesse. There were no clever tips and techniques inside me which rose to the surface and helped me through. My longing for flow, connection, lovingkindness, to be a gentlewoman, all that was so much mush, it had all been so much learnt theory. The reality was perpetual shouting, nagging, talking back to talking back, argument, misery.

 

I wish I could tell you that this new maternal language, which seemed to burst out of me as naturally as tears, itself dissolved into understanding and forgiveness. It has not yet. For me, as yet, the melting point between discipline and creativity has not been found. I try — I seek it through yoga, dance, trying to write, trying to understand what it is like to be a child. I fail, every day. I’m about to fail again. It’s 8.12am, and I have been writing when I should have been getting my child ready to go to school.

 

Naughty girl.

 

 

 

Ingrid Wassener

 

Ingrid Kirkegaard is a writer based in North London, and is working on a book entitled Motherload. A former lecturer in French literature, she also teaches French and English, and acts as an education consultant. She is married with two children.

 

Blog

Website

 

 

 

Sunday 11 January 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Women who are sisters and mothers

Love Your Soul

A small revolution is happening in my Soul today.

In the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series, Debbie Baron, sister to Stella Elliston, offers us a new post on Motherhood and Creativity.
If I was to sum up the soul of this blog series, it would be in this sentence of Debbie’s:

Under the guise of motherhood lies our original creative self.

Debbie speaks to something that has been bugging me about myself for a long time.

I have for a long while been trying to figure out how to navigate my voice here on Laundry Line Divine.
I am a woman who is an artist and a writer and a mother.
I am a whole passel of other things, like wife, sister, daughter, gardener, friend, Yooper…but when you show up here on this site, you expect to find me operating as myself.

My whole self.

I have been guilty of undervaluing my mothering because I fear those of you readers who don’t have children, for all the many different reasons that is, would be offended or turned off by my work.

Then, last night, I read in Brene` Brown’s Daring Greatly this:

Be grateful for what you have. When I asked people who had survived tragedy how we can cultivate and show more compassion for people who are suffering, the answer was always the same: Don’t shrink away from the joy of your child because I have lost mine. Don’t take what you have for granted-celebrate it. Don’t apologize for what you have. Be grateful for it and share your gratitude with others. Are your parents healthy? Be thrilled. Let them know how much they mean to you. When you honor what you have, you’re honoring what I’ve lost.

The decision to have or not have children is yours alone. It may have caused you suffering or it may have been just what is right for you in your life.

But me tip toeing around my motherhood because I fear I will upset those of you who don’t have kids, who are here at the Laundry Line to read about creativity and seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life, about poetry, art and collaborations, or about the Berkshires or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, or pleasure or all the other stuff I write about- the effort of this is giving me aches in my legs. I cannot keep this up.

After one of WAM Theatre’s Motherhood Out Loud performances, a good friend of mine leaned in to me and said, “I am surprised that I liked this show so much because I hate the topic. Motherhood is about my least favorite subject.”

I could only look at her and sense that anything I had to say, whether about motherhood or creativity or quinces, would just not be appealing to her. That is okay with me. Not everyone on this spinning planet will love Laundry Line Divine, which is about raising myself as I raise my kids. I am done apologizing for my life.

Reading those words, on page 125 in Daring Greatly, I knew it is time to own my motherhood again.
It is truly only part of who I am. It is at the center of who I am.
Whether you have felt this conflict in me at all doesn’t even really matter.
I have felt it.
And I am in the business of becoming more clear, so I can do what I do with greater agility and excellence.
Two of my Core Desired Feelings are Traction and Exquisite Excellence.

I am feeling them right now.
If you notice I have changed the tagline to this website, it is with great pondering that I do so.
I still see and celebrate the sacred in daily life, but at the heart of that is how I raise myself as I raise these kids. (even the ones that I didn’t birth)

Kids at Vanderbilt Mansion

It is scary somehow, saying this to you, but I need to lift off a filter I have laid over my work on this website. This work is one with everything else I do- with my book Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers or with Rampant Sisterhood: Engaging Your Authentic Voice Online.

 

Guess I am waking up a little bit more today.
Thoughts?

Thank you again for all your support and comments and participation in all the stuff I have going on here.
Thanks to Debbie too, for offering your wonderful blog post, illuminating Sisterhood in a new way.

I hope this Spring day finds you full of anticipation for all you have ahead of you.

With love,

 

Suzi

You Were Made For This by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

IMG_1469

You Were Made For This

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.
You are right in your assessments. The luster and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless. 

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.
We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.
What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.
One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. 

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.
The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D

Author of the best seller Women Who Run with the Wolves

 

I re-blogged this post from here.

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