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What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…

 

Quest day one

 

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:
What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…

The Quest is back. My loyal tribe of business artists making their way in to 2016 with clarified aims and newly discovered wealth and spirit is back to it’s robust sharing around the web. Since December 2014, I have applied myself to this quest mostly because I really love to work collaboratively on a topic and sometimes my writing life feels lonely. Yes, I teach. Yes, I have friends who I meet for tea. But all of my work is surrounded by the quiet solitude I need to listen, create, craft, and hone. To know that others are doing the same, questioning their aims and inspirations and owning their own gifts gives me immense courage. If you are curious about Tracking Wonder’s #Quest2016, go here.

Today’s prompt is from Susan Piver. Close readers of Laundry Line Divine might recall that I read Susan’s book, Start, Here, Now earlier this fall. Susan’s introduction to the practice of sitting meditation has completely enhanced my daily practice. Through her simple instruction, I have increased my sitting practice, which makes me feel more inner resilience when things get hot in the kitchen with my kids and allows me a clearer path to my creative work. As you may know, I am devoted to daily practices that support my well being and my work, with pleasure dwelling at the center. Susan’s approach to meditation has offered me a wealth of tools.

But, now, of course, she shows up as the first mentor offering a prompt today. Great. Of course, it is a question that I have wanted to answer; of course, she taps a vulnerable spot, which yields a few tears with the asking of it.

What do I most need to tell myself for 2016?

Here is the list:

1. That I am enough, just as I am.
2. That my work is worth the time I invest in it and my work is worth being paid a decent reliable sum.
3. That I can write anyway, even when I don’t feel the fuzzy thrum of ideas burbling, even if I don’t have a clue where I am headed, like right now, and even if my book feels like a large beast standing in the dark, being described by tiny little ant creatures feeling it with their tiny ant hands.

I have learned so much this past year. I have taught some amazing women from whom I have learned much. My brilliant mentors have bounteously taught me this year, way more than they likely realize, but gifts, gifts, gifts have cluttered my path all this yearlong.

“What we fear is more private, mysteriously belongs to everyone.”
-Mark Nepo

But hearing is hard at this time of year, even when what I tell myself is what I most want to hear. The clanging of carols and the impending holidays amp up our sense of necessary doing so much so that our own self care can waddle off to a corner and wait out the month. My dear pal, Dr. Deb Kern posted about rituals that can support us this season here.

Like Deb, I amp up my rituals this month. I was raised in the Lutheran church and for all the distance I have between doctrine and my faith practice, I have held close the rituals that warmed me as a child and passed them on to my children. Even now, the Advent calendar is in the window and the dinner table is lit with a one candle for this first week of Advent. Catherine and I attended church this past Sunday and sang songs she has known since she was a tiny tot. I learned a few years ago how much I benefit from more quiet writing and art journaling during Advent. I apply lots of black gesso to my pages and write with white pens, silver paint and gold lettering. I begin to feel the season inside me, rather than feeling it foisted upon me. The more I let myself witness the dark, the more I feel advent happening inside me.

Something about light
how it comes surprisingly,
just when you’d accustomed yourself to dark,
surrendered to this now dark way as forever.
But then,
she asks,
a cloud thins,
a way
opens.
You just had to wait for it.

-Suzi Banks Baum

a small poem I wrote yesterday.

As we approach the Winter Solstice, you can expect lots of posts about seeing light. There will be a very special event here on Laundry Line Divine around the Solstice. Until then, I urge you to think of the image of a campfire this month. Set it to blaze in your mind and then bank it up, don’t let it flame out of control; don’t let it get too spread out. Gather your inner resources close by. At the grocery store just now, I bought small packets of scented bath salts on sale. This is one small move of self-care that increases my resilience in December. Baths warm me, and are a perfect time away from doing. My girl cut a board just longer than the edges of our bathtub so I can read a book safely while soaking in eucalyptus scented water.

Definition:
To bank a fire is to cover the coals or embers with ashes or cinders, thus keeping the fire low but alive.

Let your fires burn low. Just as I found that definition of “banking a fire,” just beyond my screen a large red-tailed hawk landed on an oak branch just to the right of this sentence. Hawks appear in my life when I am beginning big adventures and this month, this Advent, these weeks before Solstice, before the holidays, before the arrival of 2016 feel just like that. A big adventure.

And what I most need to hear, when embarking on an adventure is, “I am enough. I am worth it. My work is worth it. And I can work, no matter what.”

Thanks to Susan Piver for the QUESTion today.

Please leave me a comment and let me know how you bank your fires during December. Also, share this post with a pal who may need a little boost in her self-care.

Thank you, always, for stopping in at the laundry line,
With a salute to the hawk,

S

 

Here are some of my other posts about Advent and art journaling my way towards the New Year.

One

Two

Three

The sound of the genuine

First you have to find it

There is something in you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself … The sound of the genuine is flowing through you. Don’t be deceived and thrown off by all the noises that are a part even of your dreams [and] your ambitions, that you don’t hear the sound of the genuine in you. Because that is the only true guide you will ever have and if you don’t have that you don’t have a thing. … Cultivate the discipline of listening to the sound of the genuine in yourself.

 

– Howard Thurman, “The Sound of the Genuine,”

Baccalaureate Speech at Spelman College, May 4, 1980
source One Spirit Learning Alliance Daily reading

 

 

Sending you big ears, an open heart and a nice inky pen to keep track of those dreams today.

xo,

 

S

 

The fabric of my daily life

October offering
October offering

 

 

 

 

 

Art is a nourishment that is made from the fabric of our daily life but lifts us beyond it to make us see a world bigger than ourselves.
—Edith Schloss, La Serra, 1976

 

 

Imagine me as a vat of apple butter.
Cinnamon. Blackberries. Honey.
Slow roasting for about a week.

I have been steeping in early October here in the Berkshires.

Steeping in deep thought as the season shifts, cooking and baking and organizing in the house, raking up my compost bins, all in preparation for winter cold. I have hung yards of laundry, all the dishtowels, and bedding and things that I won’t hang out in the winter. I had to move my summer studio table indoors, which is no small feat. I get all spread out, like feet do when they are out of shoes for months on end. My rubber stamps burst beyond boxes, my tiny bits of painted papers tumble around, everything I tuck in to books to find later becomes imperative to locate and I just have to go through it all. Which means, like with the apples, I cull. Seeds, stems, that which no longer serves my very deepest purpose get composted, recycled or just plain old thrown out.

where I write in to the night
where I write in to the night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which all takes time.

getting the dishtowels and napkins out in the sunshine
getting the dishtowels and napkins out in the sunshine

I learned how to make a very delicious pear tea from Janet, which might be helpful if you have the cold that is visiting everyone here in the Berkshires. (She will likely post a more complete telling of this recipe here, but this is my simple version.)  Macerate chopped up lemons, fresh ginger and an Asian pear in a jar, just covered with raw honey. Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. Roll the jar around a few times; making sure the lid is securely screwed on. Lift off tablespoons of the resulting liquid in to the bottom of a teacup and fill it with boiling water. Extra bonus tidbits of lemon and ginger and pear can be dipped in to the cup for the drinker to nibble. When I served this to my really allergy-racked Catherine, she gave a certain, “Oh Momma, yum…thank you…” that was gurgled through the steam rising over her Peter Rabbit teacup.

Pear tea
like this only with more honeyAnd I have some terrific news.

I guess I will just give you the news because there is so much else to write about, but I don’t want to keep you from going off to chop ginger and find the honey.

Our movie, from the women of Out of the Mouths of Babes, The Permission Slip
has won an award! The Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival has awarded us the Curator’s Choice award. Karen and I are trundling off to Worcester on Saturday to see our film in the matinee reel. Might you join us there? Here is information.

And, an interview I wrote in response to Megan Gray’s questions about being a creative mother can be found here. When I get writing about motherhood and creative practice I just keep going, which is helpful because that is pretty much what my book, Laundry Line Divine: a Wild Soul Book for Mothers is all about. This week, Catherine is mildly miserable having just made it through a run at the SAT, a standardized five-hour test on Saturday. Additionally, college visits are the topic of any and all conversations relating to homework, clothing, essays, facial hair, shoes, coats, health, rest, rehearsals, applications, complexion, cost, aims, distance, schedule and sleep.

Leaf

And, the light, the light, the light of these early fall days is sumptuous. We bundle up and sit outside to eat our meals as often as we can. I found a spoon that had dipped in to a jam jar out on the picnic table, still stained with dark purple. The bowl of the spoon held a bit of blue sky and the tracks of lips that lingered over the sweet.

Savoring, both the sweet and the tart.

I hope you are well.
Thank you for reading me here.
Big lovely renovations are in store for Laundry Line Divine. Much in the same way I have organized my studio, I am culling, relabeling and upgrading your experience here. But, it will be me, here, still, offering you what I can of my days in an effort to lighten yours, wherever you are.

Real life, sacred refuge, inspired community.
xoS

 

Here is one of the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival Curator’s Choice award winner!

Congratulations to each and every contributor, to Ingrid Wendt-our brave poet who speaks her own words here and to my beloved Terri L. Bocklund for her beautiful guitar playing.

The Permission Slip from Suzi Banks Baum on Vimeo.

Please share it with your friends. Like it, pass it on, post it around. We will be celebrating this weekend at Rabbit Heart, so in honor of that, give yourself extra spoonfuls of permission for me, okay?

By the way: Laundry Line Divine on the road

With Maike at the refugio
With Maike at the refugio

Maintaining a blog while on vacation is hard work.

The vacation I am on right now has been partly work, so work with work means that something had to go. I could be here with photos and a travelogue. But, I needed time further way from this site, just to clear my head and reassess what I am about here. There are stories to come of this summer adventure, but this morning, after a night of lightning and thunder and tumultuous dreams brought on by either our long hike yesterday and swims in the Mediterranean or by the large helping of Tiramisu I had after a late dinner, I urgently feel the desire to show up.

The path
the path to San Fruttuosa

My friend Marisa Goudy has written in to this theme over the summer of traveling with her two small girls. She and I both live with the aim to see the sunrises and sunsets, to have the conversations and interactions and nibble up the nubbly bits that make up real life with families, and live to tell the tale. We both have book projects brewing and are skating the lands of life, love and liberty while mothering as business artists.

While I have been away, my kids have been wrangling themselves at home. One has traveled with friends, navigated some thorny issues with different people in her life and prepared herself for the SAT test and as of today, gotten her self to her first day of school-without me there with a camera to freeze her briefly in time, new jeans, hair all tied back, off to school in her big girl clothes. She is a senior this year.

To the sea
where I always want to go….to the sea

The other has spent a few weeks getting ready to move in to his new digs at college. We talked this over thoroughly before we parted. What I do know is he is moved in and classes began. Whether the floor got mopped before he set up his bed, I do not know. I do know I did not mop it.

So, if what I share with you here on Laundry Line Divine is what I know, this month I know the space that happens when I take a step back from the spinning gyroscopes of my kids’ lives and let them live those lives, thorns and all, without me hovering nearby, with a mop and a solution. What I do know are some dandy struggles of my own, handled on the road, with my husband and my traveling art kit. What I do know are the tethers of my connection with both of our children are elastic and well founded because no matter how far any of us wander, we are right here, on a phone call, leaving a text, sending post cards, navigating the full spectrum of our lives, in this new way of being together.

I can’t say if I am doing any of this particularly well, but I can say that I have gotten to know my kids better this month, from a distance. I certainly have had long hours of uninterrupted thinking or not thinking, of teaching, of walking and walking, and of being with my husband and getting to those nubbly bits of our relationship and savoring them, together.

My art table in Camogli, Italy
my art table in Camogli, Italy

Life with kids and creative practice is never neat and orderly. Living it fully, on the road or at home, means some days I swim, some days I take cover from the thunder and lightning, for refuge, for reflection or just simply for fun.

Here is a beautiful piece about Oliver Sacks.
Here is a wonderful peek in to the creative process of a mother artist, Valerie Carrigan.
Here is a prayer, that, with the rain last night, falls in to my lap and assures me that in the unexpected is the wonder of real.

For this, all these surprises, I am grateful.

God give us rain when we expect sun.

Give us music when we expect trouble.

Give us tears when we expect breakfast.

Give us dreams when we expect a storm.

Give us a stray dog when we expect congratulations.

God play with us, turn us sideways and around.

Amen.

– Michael Leunig

Fruits of the season

xo,

S

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