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New Moon Clarity

These cups of light

Saturday Morning in the Berkshires.
Damp, cooler and quiet in my yard.
The grapes await picking. I have more pears than I can freeze or use.
And my apple trees are nearly ready to pick.

I came home from my month away last Saturday night. This week has been filled with unpacking stuff, sorting out all the beach glass I collected, canning peaches and figuring out how this break in daily presence as a parent of two big kids has impacted how we relate to one another. Seems that I am still a resource, an important one, and that I hold secrets to running a household that are not interesting nor available to a 17 year old. Fine. Let me be the one who restocks the toilet paper and waters the garden.

I am preparing for my new offering, Sacred Refuge Sundays, to begin on September 20. If you are curious go here. There are three spots open for this intimate writing and art workshop.

I am memorizing a monologue for Expressing Motherhood in Boston on September 25. This show has gone up all over the country for a few years and I am thrilled to be in the cast. If you know of people in the Boston area who might be intrigued, please share this invitation with them.

The Powder Keg Ramsdell Sessions resume on Wednesday, September 23 in Housatonic, MA at 6:30 PM. These free writing workshops take place in a gorgeous historic library in a village that is equally charming. In the fall, we often stand outside after writing together and watch the stars come out, sparkling over Flag Rock and the watertower. The Powder Keg Ramsdell Sessions have grown in to a vital and captivating sisterhood of women dedicated to expanding their writing practice. More on that here.

A wing

This is the year of me writing my book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. I took a break from it three years ago to seriously work on my author platform and to develop the work I do around motherhood and creativity. This is where all my teaching rises from, my stand for the stories of women, particularly mothers. In order to write, I have to string together longer hours of solitude and focus, so I am paring down the work I am doing outside my studio.

This means a few big changes are on their way:

1. I am giving Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others a rest. We will return to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers in 2017. The blog series will toddle along with new content and visits with some of the writers to see what they are up to now.

2. I cannot preserve every single quince that is about to leap off my tree. Do you want some of them? Let me know.

3. I can be tender and kind to myself when I see my friends doing big and exciting things this year, while I plink away at the keys of this computer, dedicating variations of our beloved 26 letters of the alphabet to tell the story of how I raise myself as I raise my kids. The story is not over, but it is time to complete the book.

4. I will be making choices to intricately weave together my visual and literary work. When I was with Lisa Sonora this summer at her Creative Entrepreneur workshop, I learned that it is okay for me to inhabit my writer and artist selves simultaneously. I always thought my whole self was too much for the world to take. Lisa has dared me to be bigger and I am not sure what that looks like yet, but here on Laundry Line Divine, you will be among the first to know.

5. I am going away on two writing retreats this year to support the deep dive I know I need to take to complete my book. I will continue to travel to teach, so if you know of a conference or arts center that might be the perfect spot for a Mapping Motherhood workshop or for a Powder Keg Session or Sacred Refuge workshop please let me know. I am accepting a few Rampant Sisterhood social media mentoring clients. I loved teaching in Charlotte last spring and my class in Escanaba, Michigan wants me to return. Meeting women who are on the verge of a daily creative practice and sharing the tools that work for me is a great joy in my life. Helping others discover their voices is an honor. My offerings are listed here.

That we are here by SBB

September always calls me to recalibrate, sharpen my pencils and clear off the piles of stuff that have accumulated around my house. Canning and preserving the harvest assures me that some of the glow of summer will be available to us in February in the form of peach jam and grape juice.

 

 

Peach jam

 

In the same way writing and collage capture the essence of experience. For me, writing lets me pull certain flavors forward. And, always, I am surprised by what surfaces.

I hope this post finds you well.
I always want you to know how much I appreciate you reading me here on Laundry Line Divine.
And I look forward to meeting you in person, if I haven’t already. One of the biggest gifts of this summer was getting to talk to women who have read my posts here for a few years. I will always be a real time person. My online life is important, but let my glasses steam up over a hot cup of tea, let us press our hands and hearts together and go from there.

CBB and SBB 9.2015
my girl and I

I am off to pick grapes.
Have a lovely weekend,
S

Rampant Sisterhood: Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions 2015

a collage made with strips of paste paper by my friends at Penland in our Mindfulness & Making workshop this past April with the hand of our beloved teacher, Paulus Berensohn-beholding.
a collage made with strips of paste paper by my friends at Penland in our Mindfulness & Making workshop this past April with the hand of our beloved teacher, Paulus Berensohn-beholding.

Our purpose is that which we most passionately are when we pay attention to our deepest selves.
-Carol Hegedus

Tuesday June 2, 2015

I am preparing to teach two sessions of my Rampant Sisterhood classes this weekend at Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. The gathering of women begins on Thursday evening at 7 PM. This is our third year where we meet to celebrate and honor women who are living lives-full, real, engaged lives-dedicated to making a difference in the world by expressing themselves and their vision through art. Some of them are teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, painters, dancers, poets, principals, administrators, marketing consultants, midwives, publishers, musicians, executives, peace negotiators, media specialists, nuns, and students. The art takes shape in a myriad of ways, in a variety of forums, in small and grand strokes.

The art happens in how we each live our fullest sense of purpose.

All of us are united by a desire to pay close attention to what lights us up. We offer the world nurturance in every unique and magnificent way that art takes shape in the unique hands of the individual.

Eve Ensler calls us, “the ever evolving we.”

Might you be one who gathers at Skidmore?
Might you be called to pay attention to your deeper self?
Here is what my beloved friend Betty had to say in her EVE talk last June at Skidmore. Her life is her art.

I have a hunch yours is too.
There is still time to register for the conference.
If you are far away or attending graduations or proms or tending the chickens, just know that this “ever evolving we” is expanded each time you stand for what you believe in, each time you pick up your pen or your cake spatula and mix your own particular brand of wonder into some form that can be shared with others.

I will carry each of you readers of Laundry Line Divine with me.

Oh, I guess I should explain that Rampant Sisterhood is my singular way of teaching women how to build online platforms for their work. Artists and authors have utilized my work to construct and inhabit spaces online which share their work and vision. For some, this means as they take steps to publish books, they have what is called an “author platform.” For others, already engaged online, we take steps to clarify our purpose as creatives who want to be searchable, findable and authentic in every level of expression. I am teaching a basic session at 9 AM on Friday and an advanced session at 9 AM on Saturday. Go here for more details.

 

from my rhubarb heart to yours,
from my rhubarb heart to yours,

xoS

Permission among friends.

On the last Friday of May, I am itchy to garden and paint and be anywhere but near this desk.
So my friends come to the rescue. My friends give me Permission!

Monica Devine, of Eagle River Alaska, has answered the call for entries for posts about permission.

Last summer, Monica joined the Giving Motherhood a Voice Book Tour in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We got to make slow art at my Slow Time Salon on Superior in Big Bay. This year, that day-long writing, art and mindfulness immersion will be on Sunday, August 16 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. If you are in that area and want to attend, please email me.

Today, my friend Mary Cinadr has a new piece of writing about world scaled pain and very personal steps we take to ease that pain, in ourselves and for each other. Mary is a powerful writer. I urge you to read her piece here.

I want to facilitate a re-action that evolves us. I understand and share the urge to hide and the ease in which our minds create another world, oceans away from our own, where this suffering festers. The world needs our mustard seed of hope, our yearning, often-stumbling steps towards a solution.

-Mary Cinadr

Mary’s words capture exactly why I do what I do, when and where I do it.
She points to exactly why I teach Rampant Sisterhood at the Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions conference at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY June 4-7. This conference is a gathering of women passionate about art and activism. We spend 3 days learning, celebrating, talking, singing, laughing, honoring and learning about how to be the change we each long for in our personal and public lives. If you aren’t sure, let me say,

Your story matters.

If you are new to Laundry Line Divine today, please read here for more on that.

Are you curious about how to let that story live in the world, how to be moved to authentic action? Because, believe me, we cannot all be on a bus to Nigeria today, or Ferguson, or to Syria or the waters filled with refugees from the middle east. No. We are not all going to do that. But we each have the opportunity, daily, to stand for joy, for peace, for women’s voices, for gender equality, for kale or chickens or for whatever it is you stand for. But believe me, sitting on that yearning is not going to get you anywhere.

Just like Monica does in Alaska, you can dream more, right where you are.
Give yourself permission to make a difference in your own life.
Lavish that big love you carry around on your self, on your people and your community.

Or, on your garden.
Which is where I am headed.

 

 

 

Here I am with my beloved mentor and friend, Jan Phillips who founded Women's Voices, Women's Visions.
Here I am with my beloved mentor and friend, Jan Phillips who founded Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions.

I hope to see you this summer, in one place or another.

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.

 

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Sunday 11 January 2015

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