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Writing Fire at the Mount in the Berkshires

Again, the Mountain Laurel blooms

I am in a public reading tomorrow at 4 PM.
I hope if you are in or near the Berkshires, you might consider joining us.
The Mount, summer home of Edith Wharton, is such an elegant place to gather with writers.

I will be reading the selection I wrote that is included in Writing Fire: An Anthology Celebrating the Power of Women Writers, published by Green Fire Press earlier this year.

 

For women, then, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

– Audre Lorde

More information about the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers can be found here.

Happy first week of July!

xo,

S

What happens when I map motherhood:

You remember Evil Knievel, right?
You remember Evil Knievel, right?

On the days that my children are in transit
in canoes,
on motorcycles,
Zone 3, row 8, seat 3B,
dropping in to canyons, laden with heavy backpacks and little water,
on buses crammed with athletes smelling of the game,
I pace our house.
I trip over disorder,
apply tea and weed the chard,
but in no way can I land,
as if my attention is necessary
to the meshing of gears, the geometry of loft,
to passing lanes and winking blinkers,
as if the flapping wings of my own heart
are necessary and required for this
and every passage.

I am sure of it.
Their safe travels
and the grace of angels.

June 27, 2015
Suzi Banks Baum

 

 

This is how I work, between visual and literary.
This is how we will work in my Mapping Motherhood workshop at the International Women’s Writing Guild starting on July 24, 2015.
You can join us for part or all of the conference by going here.

How about you? What happens when your kids are on the loose? Do you have visions of Evil Knievel?

xo
S

Dare To Excel: The Wily What-ifs

Work

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

Stir the book, stir the cake

Stir the book

Books are exciting things.

They are artfully made to tantalize you to pick them up.

And often, what they contain tantalizes you further.

 

What is on your summer reading pile?

Jessica Fechtor’s Stir arrived this weekend and today, I baked this cake from the first chapter. You can too, here. Or you can get your own copy of her well-told tale that is punctuated, as those toasted almonds and granulated sugar dot that cake, plentifully, with recipes.

 

Also on my tippy pile:

 

We have taken a few hikes already and I desire many more.

 

Pleasant Valley Sanctuary

And I desire more painting and figuring things out in books, which is what I love to do best of all…paint, write, draw…fold, cut, burnish, print, scratch…fold some more…and sew. Then write.

 

Back porch studio

Here is lots of love to you for this summer evening.
xo
S

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