Navigate / search

Missing, again. Quest 2016 with Seth Godin, again.

 

up at the Dreamaway

Your Quest2016 Prompt today:

 

Would they miss you if you were gone?

What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer? 

 

When I first read this prompt at 6:30 AM when I intended to begin my writing day, I saw that it was very nearly the same question Seth Godin, verbose, erudite and prolific Seth Godin asked us last year. Dang, I thought to myself, (because who else, really, do I think to?) I was hoping for a new, more daring question from Seth, because he is a firebrand, a brainiac with humor and audacity. “Would they miss me if I were gone?” To me, the potent part of this question is the “they.” Who THEY are is key to me.

So instead of responding to the prompt, I tottered on to read other things that feed the teaching I will do tomorrow at the final Sunday of Sacred Refuge Sundays. The next set of those classes will open up here on the Solstice, when my brand new site launches. There are four seats open for Sacred Refuge Sundays. You can read all about that here.

 

First, I read this:

 

“Beginning well involves clearing away of the crass, the irrelevant and the complicated to find the beautiful, often hidden lineaments of the essential and the necessary.”

-David Whyte

Consolations

 

which gave me immense courage because tomorrow, while I am ending one class, I am also test driving my soon to be unveiled Powder Keg Online Writing Workshop tomorrow night and

 

      clearing away the crass

 

                                                                                            is exactly how I had plan to open that class. Without having read David’s instructive words, I asked my test students to bring dust clothes to their desks for the workshop because I believe we need to actually DO the thing that we think will help us clear the decks and prepare to engage with what is, as David writes, essential and necessary.

 

Then I read this:

 

“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into the realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.”

 

-Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic

 

 

                                                                                                          and this was even more comforting because I am massively immersed in the realm of the uncertain right now and fearing some steps that I feel compelled and driven and drawn to take. Like stepping out closer to the edge of cliff to get a fuller view, I am stepping more completely in to sharing my work online. My brand new and really fancier website is about to launch. It will allow you to see more of my work, learn more about my teaching and hopefully, provide you with a deeper look at what happens when women live out loud with fully engaged voices. My blog will still be here, BTW.

 

Advent candle

Having read David and Elizabeth, and then a little Rumi and Mark Nepo, and it still being nearly dark and very early, I poured a hot cup of lemony ginger tea and returned to my meditation pillow to do my daily practice. Okay, I fooled around with laundry in there too, but not for long. Because, I know, that daily practice is just that, daily. If I continue to show up, things will change. Not like old Seth’s prompt. That didn’t change. No sir.

 

So, here I sat.

 

Altar 1
it looked like this.

 

 

And while I sat, the question floated through me, about would they miss me when I was gone and who THEY are. Often when I meditate, things like this happen in my head, “okay, you set the timer for 15 minutes, do ya think you could steal a peek to see how much time has passed yet?….then I repeat a mantra that I love from Thich Nhat Hanh which washes away my thoughts about time…for a few seconds…then….my nose itches…..mantra mantra…then a sentence that sounds true that I might could use, say in a post like this….mantra mantra…then I recall what Susan Piver, whose meditation book I study daily, remember the daily thing? Susan says she has pesky thoughts like this that she entertains for only 12 seconds, then she returns to her breath, OH HER BREATH….I can do that. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Mantra. Mantra. Mantra…” and then, as if the flickering candle writes on the inside of my heart, I hear this:

 

“You want to know who would miss you if you were gone? I would. Me. Your awareness, what you kindle with this daily practice, that which you so fruitfully return to every single day and good on you for that. If you did not appear on this pillow in the soft dark or out on the road for a Zen walking practice, I, this greater bigger knowing I that you take in to your creative practice, I would not be here. I would miss this. And then all the ways you manifest this inner life in to form and draw others to tend to their inner lives would not happen. This act you call creative practice, this time, this way, would miss you. Very much.”

 

Huh.

That was longer than the 12 seconds in which I am supposed to be entertaining thoughts.

But, I listen.

 

My awareness has its say.

It would miss me if I did not show up.

What had to change in order for a better answer to arrive was my own attitude.

Huh.

And if I did not show up on this pillow, or on this page or in my journal or in my workshops and classes, or even, in my soon to be launched website, my creative expression, my unique brand of wonderment, would be lost on the world.

On you.

 

And maybe this unique brand that is me does not solve global warming or house refugees, but it does provide something meaningful in the world. I trust this. Entirely and with my whole being.

Journal page
this would miss me.

As usually happens in meditation, the thorny peevish stuff that was bugging me reforms in to a new question or opportunity for more meaningful and direct action. I am soothed. I embody joy without effort. Joy just rests here, within me.

I know you, my beloved readers of Laundry Line Divine would miss me if I did not show up here once in awhile. Believe me when I say, I am ardently tending to this blog in the upgrade you are about to experience so as not to put you off in any way. I am making a bigger basket for us here. If you’d like to read last year’s response to Seth’s prompt last year, it was one of the most commented upon posts this website has ever experienced. And those comments very much informed the work I have done in 2015.

So, on the day after the new moon, when the dark is darkest and the stars here in the Berkshires blaze brightly, I ask you to consider how you are showing up and who would miss you if you didn’t. It is a poignant question. Last night around a fire with some of my Circle, joined by my girl Catherine, we sang for the many we know who have recently died or are very very ill. Showing up is on my mind big time. And approaching the holidays, the absence of loved ones is impossible to avoid.

In closing, I dare you to show up for yourself this season. Take better than usual care of yourself. Sidestep the open maws of guilt and shame that yawn in our direction. Keep on your path towards simple beauty and connection. Be truthful where you haven’t yet found the courage to be so. Open your journals and then write. Let yourself enjoy solitude if that is what is calling you. Sit under the stars with your people and feel the magnitude and the gift of this dark time. And then, send some love to someone else on the planet.

We are using our gift budget to help people here and here. We decided this year to limit our gifts to the stocking sized and to direct our energy towards the many who are in need this season.

Here is all my love to you.

Another long-assed post, I know.

But, that is how I show up.

Thank you for staying with me.

Your loyalty means the world to me.

my English teacher would miss me if I didn't show up. He and I did not miss each other this year. He showed up for my artist talk in Escanaba and lookee here!
my English teacher would miss me if I didn’t show up. He and I did not miss each other this year. He showed up for my artist talk in Escanaba and lookee here

 

xoS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this New Moon, empty your cup. Allow your mind to become open. Release all judgments. Let go of what you know. When the mind is empty, it fills with the expanse of every possibility. Opportunities for growth and increased autonomy easily flow your way. Listen to your intuition, and take inspired action. Plant seeds today for your next quest. It is time to be free!

-Virginia Rosenberg from Qoya blog

I found that quote in a very good post about the New Moon here by Rochelle on Qoya with a New Moon ritual that will have you up on your feet.

Tracking Wonder’s Quest 2016 is still open, if you want to join that pack of business artists

And, if you are in Berkshire County, this is a great place to be this weekend. And this, next weekend.

 

Seth Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin (2011), Tribes (2008), The Dip (2007), Purple Cow (2009), and  The Icarus Deception (2012), published by Portfolio. His latest, What To Do When It’s Your Turn (Do You Zoom, Inc. 2014), is an urgent call to do the work we’re hiding from, a manifesto about living with things that might not work, and embracing tension when doing your art.

Twitter: @ThisIsSethsBlog

 

 

 

The sacred refuge of a September Sunday

Fruits of the horse chestnut

“Rest when you are tired. Take a drink of cold water when you are thirsty. Call a friend when you’re lonely. Ask God to help when you feel overwhelmed. Many of us have learned how to deprive and neglect ourselves. Many of us have learned to push ourselves hard, when the problem is that we’re already pushed too hard. Many of us are afraid the work won’t get done if we rest when we’re tired. The work will get done; it will be done better than work that emerges from tiredness of soul and spirit. Nurtured, nourished people, who love themselves and care for themselves, are the delight of the Universe. They are well timed, efficient, and Divinely led.”

The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

 

 

I started this post as I walked up the hill from yoga class this morning. My teacher, a guest at Lifeworks studio, Karlee Fain, quoted Melody Beattie this morning. I carried that quote up the hill. Then, at the base of a towering horse chestnut tree, I came upon these nuts. This time of year is special to me for many reasons, chestnuts being one of them. Conkers, the nuts are called. They will conk you on the noggin if you linger under the tree when the wind is blowing. (For that matter, don’t linger under the oak in my yard, as it is a banner year for acorns or the black walnut in my neighbor’s yard. The red squirrels in my garage loosen the big yellowy green pods that hit my neighbors shed roof with a startling whack. Then, the squirrels haul them in to my garage, where they are filling up every empty space they can find. In the spring, I will haul pounds of them out, because how much can a tiny little hibernating squirrel eat?)

 

What the red squirrel is up to

I bowed down to look at the chestnuts on the grass below the tree. I found all stages of nut happening. The pod, spiky and green, still attached to the stem. Ripe fruit lets go in to your palm. This one is not ripe. Then, a just cracked open pod. See the chestnut peeking out? It’s crowning! Then, one in a half-opened pod. And finally, one all the way out. The pod begins to dry, now that the ripe fruit has been released.

Don’t you feel this way sometimes? I do. Some parts of me are not ripe yet, not ready to be released. Others burst forth, shiny and ready for the world.

Today being the Full Blood Moon and a special eclipse, which you can read all about here, is an auspicious day to consider what is ripe within you and what needs more gestation. What is ready to dry up, like the spent pod, and return to the earth?

I could answer this question in all kinds of ways.

In my very personal life, I notice that self-hatred still penetrates my thoughts in very certain areas. I think myself wrong as the first explanation for any complication. Reading this post today, by my friend Laura Didyk, made me able to name the nagging feeling that comes up around very specific relationships in my life, where time and time again, I think I should be doing something different to make the relationship go better. It is time for me to let that nagging go. Really. If the relationship is not thriving in it’s current condition and my best efforts to shift it have not helped, it is time for me to let it go.

(as I write this post, a small vase of nasturtiums sends out a steady perfume of delicate delight. My senses sense ease, even before I do. I wish you could smell them!)

Nastursiums

In my work, both literary and visual, there are places where I carry more than what really supports my best expression. I carry it because for so long in my life, I have felt it necessary to justify my place in the world. I have an internal meter that measures my “enoughness” and wicked self-hatred likes to ping that meter on the low side, too often. Moving my expression forward at a pace and rate that feels good is enough. The colleagues I work with, my collaborators and correspondents, the women I teach and study with, the people I play with, see this so much more easily than I do. But I learn. Slowly. Letting go of that feeling of lack feels good to me today.

And in my family life, I win the prize for worrying, projecting, warning. Not that there is a competition, but my kids have developed a way to telling me stuff that budgets for what I might worry about ahead of time. My prayer life mitigates so much of what I worry about. But there are many moments when the habit of worry sits square in my lap, between my kids and me. I wonder what our relationships would be like if I could just shift that worry over to the side? I know that I will likely always be a worrier- in part this habit is what makes me prepared. You want me at your picnic because I will have the napkins, the bottle opener, the trash bag and bug juice. And the after bite stuff. And a tick-grabber in my purse. There is a positive side of worry that is simple preparedness for many options. But worry that sees the car flaming on the roadway or the airplane crashing or the ski boots not releasing, that aspect of worry? I wonder what blessing might takes it’s place in my lap?  ( My four year old niece is obsessed with the movie Frozen, as are millions of other girls. But hearing her sing this song makes me know I can in fact, let it go.)


Having grown up in the Lutheran church, Sundays very naturally are special to me. During the years when we actively worshiped, Sundays were special but also busy. At a key point in our marriage and our family life, JNB and I decided to take Sundays at our own pace. We almost always do something together on Sundays, and outside. Today, it happens that I am on my own until Moon Circle meets for the full moon this evening. So, I can, as Melodie suggests, nurture the parts of me that feel the sting of self-hatred, or are worn by overwhelm. I unpacked from my travels, completely. I went to yoga. I am sitting outside admiring these fruits of the chestnut as I write to you. I have own our apples in the fruit dryer. There is no laundry in the washer, though a set of sheets billow in the breeze. There is a slice of gingerbread waiting for me to enjoy with applesauce. All of these acts feel generous for myself, first. And the way that I savor them means I will have more to give to my people, when next I see them. My well will be full. I have let Sunday be a sacred refuge for myself.

I like to rub the conkers with melted beeswax. A bowl of shiny conkers catches the fall light, reds and browns, making them velvety orbs.

Conker crowning

I hope that you find yourself in sight of tonight’s eclipse. And if you can, send up a little prayer for what is ready to come in to full fruit in your life, what is ready to be shed and what luster lives right around you. I will be looking up, sending love and light your way.

 

xoS

 

 

Spending my days with grapes

 

Pear and juice

 

“How we spend our days, is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

-Annie Dillard

 

 

How are you spending your September days?

 

 

Here in the Berkshires, the sun’s heat has softened, the grapes ripen, the peaches live in the cloud of fruit flies on the counter and homework needs doing by the teenager across the table from me. (She who refuses to let me take a photo of her. Believe me, she is there. Sniffing with allergies. Hair wet from a shower. Cheeks all flushed from a bike ride.)

How I spent my day today included two trips to the hardware store, different hardware stores because I melted the hose that siphons boiling hot juice in to jars from my steam juice extractor. It is a bubbly efficient business when it works well, but when it doesn’t, no one much knows how to fix the problem. My friend Janet, who is a preserving maven, suggested it might be time to take a rest from canning, but I am a woman with a mission. Grape jelly is on my mind. Janet and I picked armloads of grapes and since I already have 11 jars of juice put up-deep purple and thick-(you want to visit me this winter on a chilly gray day when I serve you some hot Tulsi tea with a shot of grape juice in it) instinct tells me it is time for jelly.

Grapes, Basil, Apples

I am not tired or grumpy about it. My afternoon had room for this running around, in between vacuuming, hanging two loads of wash, and not doing the 75 other things I thought I would do before the original hose melted.

Does this mean I will spend my life running around fixing stuff so I can do the thing I originally set out to do? Or does this mean, according to Annie Dillard, that I will spend my life tuning my tools that I employ to savor the harvest of any one given day? Some days those tools are hoses with an inner diameter of 5/16″ and not 1/4″, other days those tools are Sharpie writing pens or Uniball Signo pens that write on acrylic painted pages just fine or preparing a lunch that won’t wilt in my daughter’s back pack before 11:00 AM.

My tools vary. My mission is consistent.

Dahlia

I am memorizing my own writing for a show I am in next week. It is a funny business, writing my own material. I often read my work in public, but memorizing it means then I have to ACT it and acting means that I have to figure out my motivation in the piece. When I write, I am not always thinking about why. I am thinking about is.

 

And today is grape juice for jelly day.

Today is September 15. I have been my new age for a week now.

Today is the day I visited with my sister-in-law and learned a bunch of new things about her.

Today is the day I went to yoga and learned a few new things about myself.

 

I guess I spend my days curious.

 

Did you get to read much this summer?

I read Euphoria by Lily King and Home by Marilynne Robinson and Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund. I highly recommend each of these books. That was my second go round with Ahab’s Wife and I loved it even more this time.

Do you have any book recommendations?

Rudbeckia

 

My friend Lissa Rankin, who has a piece in An Anthology of Babes, has a new book in the works. I got an advanced copy today of The Anatomy of a Calling and I suggest you put it on your gift list. Once I read it fully, I will write more about it here. Lissa has suffered the loss of several people close to her this month and has a new piece about death and the Universe here. Our community in the Berkshires has also had an unexpected death of a joyful, purposeful man, friend, husband and Lissa’s words remind me to stay open in the face of confusing loss.

There is one more seat available in my Sacred Refuge Sunday, which begins this Sunday. If you have been debating about it, now is the time to jump in.

 

Here is all my love to you and thanks for making Laundry Line Divine part of your day.

Best,

 

S

 

 

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

%d bloggers like this: