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Show Your Work: Snowdrops

Snowdrops for Rupert

for this is a truth of today:

Instructions

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

Instructions by Sheri Hostetler, from A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry, edited by Ann Hostetler. © University of Iowa Press, 2003.

Yesterday I planted snowdrops with friends. We pryed open narrow pockets in the mossy wet lawn of the Berkshire Botanic Garden to lay in clusters of two or three snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) bulbs that will create a curl of early spring delight. All this bowing and plying and dropping is to honor, to somehow pin down, or if it is at all possible, let the grit resolve the grief of a family, our friends, whose son drowned last spring in the Housatonic River.

We were finding god in the early clover and grass roots. In a trowel juggling Jester.

We snowdropped grief.

On this messy spring day where my work is, as Mary Oliver says, “In loving this world” I am loving the many things I have ahead of me, my newsletter among them. Save that when it lands in your inbox, for a moment when you have time to read. Get your calendar out and pick a date when we can meet up.

And next year, on Earth Day, let us meet at the Berkshire Botanic Garden to celebrate Rupert and friendship and all that our hearts beat loudly for.

xo S

Slow Easter

Buds in Stockbridge by Suzi Banks Baum

I know a person who is up to something very special.

 

 

Guerilla Bunny on the step

This person, Guerilla Bunny, paints eggs, about 60 of them, and leaves them around her town in the early hours of Easter Sunday for people to find.
She leaves no trace of authorship.
She expects nothing in return.

Pink Guerilla Bunny

And the eggs have stories, symbols and portents of great faith and insight painted in to them. Guerilla Bunny would love to pass this tradition on to others. Guerilla Bunny believes that random acts of beauty lift people up. And that people could use a good bit of lifting up these days.

Post Office Guerilla Bunny

 

I watched people walk past eggs in plain sight today, passing by them two or three times and missing them. When I pointed this egg in the water fountain by the bus stop out to a woman waiting for Peter Pan to arrive, she peered in and said, “Magic!”.

 

But when I checked back, after the bus had pulled off, the egg was still there.

Water Fountain Guerilla Bunny

I showed one to a couple sitting with coffee on a bench in the sun. Their barking little dachshund and I share a name. So when the man chastised the dog for barking madly at me, I felt a little odd for a moment, until I realized he wanted the four-legged Suzi to shush, not the two-legged.

After showing him and his wife this egg, they asked, “Where are they?” “Hiding in plain sight,” I told them. As I walked on I heard her say to him, “I want one of those.”

DSC_0552

I took a slow walk in that town this morning to see what I could see.
When I wander, my eyes see things differently.
And I saw many eggs.
I only took two. One for my family and one for me.

 

 

What I took home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Guerilla Bunny!

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

- e.e. cummings

Mary's Hands
DSC_0557
The Empty Step
Buds in Stockbridge by Suzi Banks Baum

 

xoxoxS

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

Show Your Work: My Writing Process blog tour stops in on Laundry Line Divine again!

She is Making Art Each Moment

Community, collaboration and connection

It is a cool spring morning here. I sit in my bed, back to an open window through which bird song is carried on a cool breeze, truck sounds come up the valley from Route 7, and crows talk in the tall pines. My girl and boy, my husband and our German son headed off early to hike Monument Mountain before she had to be at school. The boys and I will drive off to the train at nine. There is no way I will get this writing completed by then, but this is my start.

My Writing Process begins early in the day. I wake, pee, light a beeswax candle on my dresser, meditate and pray, read a few poems- like this one of Jan Hutchinson in Raggedy Prayers and Crooked Ladders:

3/20/2012

Untangle your heart.
Now throw
the newly freed line
out across the chasm.

Step off onto your line.
Trust yourself and the wire
you have drawn on air.

It is this simple to become
an aerial artist,
a wire walker,

balancing upon
imagination alone.
It is like this for me almost every morning. I read my Daily Rumi. I read a bit of John O’Donohue, I read a quote or two off my email and then I dive in to a blank page.
This post is about Showing My Work…so am I giving you the details. (For a sharp, concise post about writing process, go see Jaclyn’s post . For a messy, still-in-my jammies-at-noon-post, read on.)

 

Journal ideas

My notes look like this.

• You have to be a connector
• Write about Julie BG and Tania and SheWrites and IWWG and making happen what happens
• How mothers just step out of the way and do what needs to be done
• “Makes shy persons get up and do what needs to be done” The Rhubarb Eaters of Prairie Home Companion (Use photo of nubs)
• Listening to the morning and deciding- if I want this to happen I need to make it happen for myself
• “All at once I felt like an honored guest in my own life.” Julie BG
• “Give credit and get out of the way.” Austin Kleon
• “If you want to be accepted by a community, you have to first be a good citizen of that community.” Austin Kleon
• “No matter how famous they get, the forward-thinking artists of today aren’t just looking for fans or passive consumers of their work, they’re looking for potential collaborators, or so-conspirators.” Austin Kleon
• “News from the deeply distracted” my writing about the work by mothers

This is the place that I start. I read. I take notes. I often outline but I don’t always. I start. Because I am totally in love with the blank page and the white expanse or the spaces in a collaged page that take ink and can carry a tune. This collaboration with the nib of my pen or this typing of words and this bare space, unsullied, ready to receive the nub of my being, however messy or garbled, I know that if I keep at it, things will begin to fall in to order.

But this morning, I saying goodbye to part of my family so I must get off this place and go….eat and run. At least I started. This is part of my writing process. Starting.

Letting them go in deep love

 

 

 

 

 

 


Now it is Tuesday.

I will answer the Blog Tour Questions posed to me by the illustrious Julie Bond Genovese. Her book Nothing Short of Joy is a beautiful story of one woman’s becoming her own full self. I will write more about that another day. But, in the community of women I have found who write from inside motherhood, Julie is a beam of pure love and hilarity. I dare you to read her post and not find yourself grinning.

What am I working on?

I am working on this blog post, on a description of my Mothers Writing workshop for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in early June, on my Rampant Sisterhood workshop on social media for authors and artists workshop for Women’s Voices, Women’s Vision in later June and on developing my book tour for late August. If you want to host a reading of the Anthology somewhere between the Upper Peninsula and Milwaukee, please let me know. Right now, Marquette is on the list. I am hopeful to have a reading event in Escanaba, Michigan and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ultimately, I write about how I raise myself as I raise my kids. I write about seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life. I am writing my second book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Now you have me sweaty palmed. My writing is non-fiction, it is personal essay…really long essays, not classically formed essays. It is memoir. I am working on this question of where to place myself in a genre. It ain’t fiction. It is sometimes a mystery. It is sometimes poem. But it is always mine. Differing from the work of others, my writing is my voice. My voice is at times rough and tired, my writing is news from the deeply distracted- what I saw on the way to the lacrosse game and what it made me think about. It is that. Seeing from inside mothering. Others do it. Not quite like me, but they do it and I love that. We are all giving the territory of motherhood a voice.

Why do I write what I do?

Mark Twain said, “Write what you know” and when I first started out, that is what I did. But what has come is that I write what I want to know, how to navigate this time with grace and insight and humor. I write what I wished I’d had to read earlier in this lifetime employment gig we call motherhood. I write about what I love because I love it and I want to capture this world. I write to know myself better. I write to reveal myself to myself and to shed light on you knowing yourself more.

How does my writing process work?

I think I need a professional organizer to come in and help me because if you cast your eyes upon the list I have above, all those ideas, which I really love, especially about the rhubarb nubs emerging from the soil, pink tinged and vulnerable- just like a baby crowning- so fierce and so fragile- those ideas are not making their way in to this post so far. I have a ton of ideas. My writing process is usually writing from what calls the loudest to me, weaving in the inspirations that fuel me (see the list again) and aligning with the theme that has chosen me on the blog, like this month’s Show Your Work- completely stolen and chocked full of inspiration by the wordyword guy Austin Kleon who I’d love to meet sometime.

Rhubarb Nubs

 

 

But I am trying like heck to be clear and concise today.
And I want to take a walk with Janet in the rain and talk this all over.

Because really? I write to reflect the gorgeous tearing mess of real life.

Over and over again, sliding down a hill on icy snow with Janet or laughing till I cry at Karen’s kitchen table, or weeping on the the computer keys to Tania, or highlighting Julie’s book or leaning on Lori’s counter watching my son talk to her husband or finding myself at a bus stop waving to four amazing beings who relate to me as a mother- this life is worth writing about.

“May you be blessed with good friends,
And learn to be a good friend to yourself,
Journeying to that place in your soul where
There is love, warmth, and feeling.
May this change you.”

~John O’Donohue

Next up on this My Writing Process Blog Tour are three women who ever and always call me in to real life, tickle and nourish me and stand for the work of women over and over again in their lives. They are each represented in An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice and on the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series.
Lori Landau you may have met with me at the Museum of Motherhood guiding us in a group poem. Janet is all over the place with me, with Out of the Mouths of Babes and especially in my kitchen. Monica, I get to meet live and in person for the Anthology Book Tour in the Upper Peninsula this August and you can meet here there too!

Monica Devine is the author of five children’s books, among them Iditarod: The Greatest Win Ever, a former nominee for the celebrated Golden Kite Award. Her adult nonfiction piece, On The Edge of Ice, won First Place in Creative Nonfiction with New Letters literary journal. Monica was the 2012 Alaska State Poetry Contest winner, and in 2013 was awarded for her work by the National Federation of Press Women. She lives in Eagle River, Alaska.

Janet Reich Elsbach thinks and writes about the food she feeds her family of five, who live on a small farm with dogs and chickens and sheep (in increasing order of population). That writing can be found on the blog A Raisin & A Porpoise.  She edits other people’s writing whenever she is given the slightest encouragement, and teaches writing at Community Access To The Arts (CATA) in Great Barrington.

Lori Landau, who has spent her professional career as a writer and artist, has published articles in a wide variety of magazines. Her poems were published while she was still a teenager. She has written for Silicon Valley Mom’s blog, Technorati, The Middle Ages blog, Laundry Line Divine, and her own blog, ConsciousnessCreativity.com. Her poetry and essays appear in the books; The Dead Father’s Club, and An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. In addition, her art and photography have been exhibited in several local galleries: most recently she had two solo shows at the New York City Open Center. Long inspired by Tantric and Buddhist philosophy, Landau is also certified to teach meditation and yoga. She leads conscious, contemplative meditation classes that harness the power of quantum theory, as well as visual and language expression.

 

I have taken up much of your computer time today.

Please share this post with a friend then head outside. Smell spring or whatever season is dawning in our part of the world.

Celebrate.

xo S

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