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Dare To Excel: The Wily What-ifs

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As a mother, you wake up with what-ifs in the middle of the night when the kid with the cold is suddenly sleeping quietly after hours of coughing and wheezing. You wake up from a surprising sleep you didn’t expect to get, and the what-ifs are sitting on your chest. You get up and stand over that child, watching her breathe, holding your own breath so that nothing, not even the soft purr of your relief, would disturb her rest. What-ifs are the thoughts that inch you towards answers that are founded in your instinct, where your soul sends messages in the form of questions.

What-ifs sound the alarm of potential change. What-ifs are where innovation and dreams meet. Depending on the setting they can be equally exhilarating as terrifying. It depends on where you are standing. They are what edge you off the cliff and into the gleaming waters of Superior, feet first, slicing in to water so cold that it takes no effort to clamber up the rocks to do it again.

 

People found businesses that begin with the question, “What if…?” During July, I continue with my pack at Tracking Wonder with #Quest2015 and consider what dares me to excel. This inquiry dovetails with the question that Lisa Sonora posed to me last weekend in her Creative Entrepreneur workshop when I wallowed in my feeling of being too much, too many diverse offerings, doing too many things or not enough…. just general NOT ENOUGHNESS which is a place I have dwelled for years upon years…. Lisa looked at me, paused, as she does, and said, “What if you got even bigger? Gigantic? What would happen if you got enormous?”

My immediate response was to laugh and cry at the same time. I did not expect to feel myself expand with a question like this, as if my presence just popped out a few inches from my body and I was, suddenly, without effort, bigger and okay with this new ground. Then today, Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder posed this question to the band of business artists who are working with his free offering, Dare To Excel: “What is my burning question of possibility?”

I can string together a whole lot of questions, but if I strip myself down to the inner layers of my personal and professional quest here on Laundry Line Divine I come to this:

What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first?

(I am not quite comfortable with the “First” part, but I think it is necessary. See that it is not in the collage I made? First feels selfish. More on that in a bit.)

Dare to excel collage by Suzi Banks Baum

I wove Lisa and Jeffrey’s questions together and realized something true. What if I unmasked my creative fertility first? I would have to release my fear of being too much and dare to be enormous, gigantic, an AMAZON of creative practice. The first time I encountered the word “Amazon” in reference to a woman, was in Wisconsin, at my Aunt Johanna and Uncle Bill’s home. I am eleven maybe. I cannot recall the conversation, but some comment was made about my size and Aunt Johanna said something about “we Amazons.” All I recall is the flush of secret pride at being linked to elegant her. What if I let myself be an Amazon of Creative Practice?

So often in my workshops I hear women say that they feel taking time for their writing or artwork or to go slowly and rest is indulgent and selfish. There are days when I feel the same way. I hide out in a certain way, at home and alone, so that the expectations I hold of the world’s judgment on my relative productivity and contribution to the betterment of the planet go unheard. If you really saw me, back here on my porch in my pajamas, painting and writing, making messy collages and beautiful books, would you think I am worthy of this time? Am I doing anything of value? Does what I do matter? Is this art? Who cares what a mother has to say? I wrestle these questions to the ground every single day. Sometimes, I wrestle them in the person of one of my kids or my friends who don’t quite get what I am up to. There are many people who wonder if anything I am doing is really contributing to the welfare of my family and my world. They see me as a woman supported by her husband so she can natter around with paints now that her kids don’t need a ride to soccer and they know how to cook their own eggs.

Need I go on with all of those damning, silencing questions? I know you are all too familiar with them and have your own roster of self-limiting beliefs that shutter your own creative response to being a woman.

That is why I stand for you in this question: What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first? I know that I cannot lead another where I have not myself gone. All teaching I do would be hollow and useless, if I did not know the smell of those wolves at the door, baying about my behavior and what the hungry world needs from me, now, right now.

I know that a woman’s creativity remembers her to her soul.
I know that when I start there, amazing transformations happen-within my family life, within my expressive life, within my community life.

Lisa’s writing prompt today for her 30-Day Journal project flowed from this:

“When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

My creative practices make me very happy. Creating signature experiences for women to discover their own creative practice is what I do. I teach, I write, I respond to my own experience as a woman and mother. What I do, you see here on Laundry Line Divine. What I you can partake in at Mapping Motherhood at the International Women’s Writing Guild in July. What I do, you can do with me at Slow Time Salon on Superior in Big Bay, Michigan on August 16 or in Escanaba, Michigan on August 20. What I do and have done within my family life, creative, domestic and wild, you will read in my upcoming book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers.

All of this requires bravery. That is why I answer my longing for community by creating it, participating in it, forging collaborations and connections in real time and online to remind me that I am not alone.

 

Running right past selfish collage by Suzi Banks Baum

Living in to this question, “What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first?” requires me to run right past selfish and in to the river of joy that is here at my feet. What happens next, you will be among the first to know.

 

Kids feet leaping at Canyon Falls, MI August 2012

So glad it’s summer,

S

Okay. I am leaping. Here is my first audio blog post. Let me read to you here. You can upload this to your iThingy and take me in the car with you.

 

You can sign up for Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal project here.
You can register for Jeffrey Davis’ Dare to Excel Quest here.

Here are some other #DareToExcel posts by my mates.

Vanessa Herald

Brenna Layne

Lauren Ayer

  • Brenna

    Wonderful and deep and true–all the good stuff I have learned to expect from you, Suzi. Be an Amazon! You’ve got this. So lovely to hear your voice reading your poetic words. <3

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  • http://www.laundrylinedivine.com Suzi Banks Baum

    Thank you Brenna! I am glad you listened. Amazon it is. xoxS

  • Lorrin Krouss

    Suzi, you are an Amazon! You have to be, as you give pieces of yourself to your family, husband and to all those who aspire to be creative. We who adore you, carry your words and your encouragement in our hearts. You are the guiding light that we follow.

  • JulieJordanScott2

    Ohhhh… dear marvelousness. Your audio is fantastic. Now you’re inspiring me! Creative fertility. Creative fertility. Creative fertility! You also have me merging – conceiving – and diving into – the relationship between “too” and “not enough”… because I have similar experiences as you with these two….and your voice is so lovely, just as you are naturally. To think I offered any inspiration in this recording makes me pleased beyond measure!

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  • bjmwriter

    Absolutely LOVE this. What if everyone did it? Let the creative renaissance begin, Amazon-sister.

  • http://www.laundrylinedivine.com Suzi Banks Baum

    Yeehaaaaa….I am exploring this space with eyes for what is new and how the renaissance looks….new territory. So glad you are here. Thank you! xoS

  • http://www.laundrylinedivine.com Suzi Banks Baum

    Oh were are in the stew, aren’t we JJS? Thank you for listening. I really enjoyed recording. I have been thinking about this for awhile now. Glad I did it. xoxoS

  • http://www.laundrylinedivine.com Suzi Banks Baum

    Thank you Lorrin! I am so curious about that outside art you are cooking up. Sending you love for these summer days. xoxoS

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