Navigate / search

Going First: Beginning (or continuing) a conversation about the creative lives of women

Jan Phillips and I spent time together in June at Women's Voices, Women's Visions at Skidmore College. photo by Denice Jelley
Jan Phillips and I spent time together in June at Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions at Skidmore College. photo by Denice Jelley

I am very curious about conversation.

I love to talk with people about more than the weather.
I want to know what you think, how you see the world and what strikes you as beautiful, memorable or important.
And I want to know what you dream of, where you’d like to adventure, what you care about, and where you see yourself in five years.
I’d like to be part of making that happen for you, if only by leading my life full out so you have someone else out in the world to bounce off of.

In my morning reading, I came across this passage by Jan Phillips in her book, No Ordinary Time. She writes about authentic conversations and describes being surprised by a conversation she started with a young man in a diner by asking where he gets his values.

She says,

“If someone doesn’t go first, how do authentic conversations ever get started?”

Then later in the day, I came across Seth Godin’s blog post titled, Go First. You can find it here. I cannot quote it because it is so short and to the point, I’d ruin it for you.

On Laundry Line Divine, I endeavor to share my creative life with you.

I aim to make sense of my mothering by expressing from inside my experience. I use my words, my images and what I see in the world and bring to you here as conversation starters. Perhaps we will meet in person or you will comment, but mostly, I imagine you might bring this conversation in to your own life and see what happens.


It is summer and I bet you’d rather be out picking blueberries, but since you are here-maybe it is late evening and the fireflies are out…maybe you live in Australia and it is a chilly winter morning and your gripped cuppa is sending up steam between these words and your eyes…maybe you are on the subway heading in to the city for work, these words and images slim in your palm…whatever and where ever you are as you read this, I hope you know how much I appreciate your attention.

I imagine that you may need just a bit of company and a tiny dose of inspiration to set your day right.

I hope you find that here on Laundry Line Divine.


a small found word page in a book I am altering
a small found word page in a book I am altering




From my bright light to yours,





PS Here is a video of Jan’s that gets me going every single time.

PPS Please stay current with your subscription to Laundry Line Divine. You can subscribe here on this site in the upper right hand corner of this page or via the AWeber email that you received if you are already on my list. Thank you! xo S

Summer Adventure 2014: Before I Die

Before I Die: Wellfleet #1



This past week, we saw this public art installation on the fence of the basketball court near Mayo Beach parking lot in Wellfleet, MA.






How would you fill in this blank?








Pick up a piece of chalk today and write it on your sidewalk.
Or, if you are in any of these cities, go find one of the installations to add your thoughts to this growing global list.

Share your photo in the comments section here. The Disqus comments allow you to share photos with me in the comment field below.





I wrote mine in pink chalk:


Trust that I am leaving this Planet better than I found it.















How is your summer going so far?
Mine is full and delicious, like the black currants which have mostly been savored by
the birds in my yard. Yes, I will be that lady shaking a broom at the birds to keep them off the elderberries when they are ripe.

I am preparing for the Giving Motherhood a Voice book tour to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August and preparing to pack my son off to college this week.


This is the spot where I say something hopeful and positive to manage my sadness and excitement, my anticipation and sweet ache over his arrival home, our blustery fine times together, his packing effort along with dreams of cedar and birch, the waves of Lake Superior and the places we will be visiting on the tour.

I do have this poem I wrote about my son, which seems appropriate (again), since my husband and I just celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.


This Beautiful Upheaval

After Anniversary, by Davi Walders



That you and I, I and you,

this twentieth year after

you tipped up your chin to

curb the tears falling onto the

cream linen suit I’d sewn for you,

as our best friend sang in his recently

cracking Broadway’s best voice, a song

he’d written about love for us, our parents,

half my set now gone, your mother, single then and

gone now, they tipped up their chins, wiped eyes with

significant hankies which now line my jewelry drawers,

as if all those tears and wet noses and lipstick stains could

comfort a woman and a man who have become, oddly and now

the matriarch and patriarch of our families of birth. Odder still,

our house has gained a tidiness not known for the nineteen years

of our son’s life. He, who rode in to the

world just off the Taconic and fifteen minutes

in to checking in at St. Vincent’s on Seventh Avenue,

where the long dead nuns murmured morning prayers

over the PA system, which no one uses anymore, except in

cloisters where the audio will never be upgraded, but there,

on the ninth floor, maternity wing, he arrived, just barely on the

delivery bed, our midwife arriving in time to scrub and curse you

for keeping me upstate instead of here in the Village, where my loins

parted easily, hips made for birthing, could deliver this bonny lad into the

whirling green cracked open world, where he would change our lives forever.

He, whose head and chest floated before us last night on my laptop,

he, whose voice cracked only a little and once, when I told him

I missed him, showed us his room, his mess, which seems

to follow him everywhere, like our love

sung in that high voice of Danny’s

here, is love, in this messy

beautiful upheaval.



@Suzi Banks Baum

September 16, 2013


I write from inside motherhood. I write other stuff too, but mostly this, because my life is full of living being a woman who is a mother. Just today, after a bare naked nasty moment with my now 20 year old young man, I stood outside without reaching for my phone to call a friend for comfort. I stood in the gusty moist air and felt it- the beautiful upheaval of mothering. It is a thorny slice of heaven.

I wrote about his birthday here.

And about his broken leg here.



Do you know of an independent bookstore that would like to carry An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice?

If so, please leave me a comment below.

And if you are new to Laundry Line Divine, I hope you subscribe to this site to receive updates and my monthly newsletter, The Delicates Cycle. You can subscribe in the box in the upper right corner of this screen. I am updating my subscriber list, so if you’ve gotten a notice from AWeber in your email to confirm your subscription, I hope you will click the link they provide to stay connected here.







These Enchantments: #Summeradventure2014

These enchantments are medicinal, they sober and heal us.
These are plain treasures, kindly and native to us.
We come to our own, and make friends with matter…

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Essays: Second Series

Beach Heart

Are you new to Laundry Line Divine?
Or have you been around here before but gotten a message from AWeber to update your subscription?
Yes, that message is from me.
And yes, I dearly hope you will stick around as part of the community of women and some brave men who see and celebrate the sacred in daily life.
Please fill out the subscription box on this home page of LLD or follow the links in that email.

Then go outside and see what you see.
Let me know back here in the comment section below.
I love hearing from you.



Twenty years ago I heard a sound

Ben Cello


On this day twenty years ago today I was very pregnant.

I was uncomfortable in the best of ways.
My body was tuning for a symphony that has played on for winters and summers and falls and many, many revitalizing springs.
I have become, my 5’7” frame, wide thighs, strong arms- an orchestra hall with acoustic panels surrounding the conductor, my heart.
This symphonic alignment of my being began with a newborn devotion to love, to my husband and the possible future we conceived before we had an iota of an inkling of how this musical passage would alter the course, the texture, the foundation of our lives forever. Forever, that is, being from that moment until now which has every indication of momentum, of forward motion.
I have learned, while caught in this musical reverie, to be more present, to drop my prospective planning of future to settle in to the melody of now.
This journey, the playing of the symphony of motherhood in my life, in the concert hall of my body, in the acoustic sphere of my emotional life, in the reverberant sound waves that pulse into the world around me has called me in to a vivid kind of listening.
20 years ago, I found myself in the scarlet velvet seat of mothering and I have not tired of the changing melodies, the sonorous undertones, the minor keys, dissonance and cacophony yielding to mellifluous tones.
I have questioned at timorous times whether I could trade my seat for a better view or perhaps a different composition. I have wondered if I could just turn the sound off or at least lower the volume more than many times.
But this all penetrating, relentlessly consistent world of sounds is as steady as sunrise. It has the beauty of Yeats:

“I thought of your beauty, and this arrow
Made out of a wild thought, is in my marrow.”

photo strips957

The music is that close to me, so close it is within me. I pulse with it. Even twenty years in.

Poet Alicia Suskin Ostriker wrote in a poem,

“Oh young mamas
no matter what your age is you
are born when you give birth
to a baby you start over

one animal

and both gently, just slightly
separated from each other
swaying, swinging
like a vine, like an oriole’s nest”

I might doze through a passage, I may flat out sleep through an exciting part, but when I wake the symphony reels on, playing in and though and around me. Curious to me is the fact that no one else hears my symphony of motherhood. They witness the effects of its playing, catch wafts of sound when the breeze carries it just right, but on the whole, I am the only one who hears this sound. I venture to guess each of us have our own symphonies, the ones struck in to our mothers and fathers and the ones that are struck in to us each as parents. This symphony is an ocean of sounds waves that permeate every single thing I do.

So, when 20 years ago, my husband performed the ubiquitous duty of parking the car on 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village at 4:35 AM on a Sunday morning, I clung to a parking sign post that prohibited him parking right there, but provided me with an anchor. I was lost to all social decorum. Lost to the delicacies of how people behave on a city street, albeit the wild frayed edge of morning on a warm July weekend. My bare hot hands pressed in to the green metal, sharp-edged and evenly punched with holes that I could peer through between contractions.
I felt a wave of sound coming at me. I braced myself, as if that parking sign post was the mast of a great ship, bow heading right in to the wind, musical notes pelting me, an unfamiliar melody that now, 20 years later is the sound of my cells.

I sailed in to motherhood and I live in the symphony, square in the center of this haunting, startling, heart-breaking beauty.

This morning I was struck by this phrase from John O’Donohue’s book Beauty.

“Each of us is aware of certain threshold times in the lives of our hearts when such thoughts arrived and changed everything.”

Our son, my boy Ben, is in Munich, warm in the arms of our German family. If he cannot be here, eating blueberry buckle for breakfast, then him being there is a comfort and joy for us both. I will spend the day listening to the current measures of this music, the ones that carry his voice over the airwaves or the cadence of his speech in a text.

Hey Mom. Just wanted to hear your voice.

Mothering is about sound, about hearing, and about listening.

Thank you Ben for bringing this music to my life.
Happy Birthday.
Twenty is very good.
Very good indeed.


Suzi/ Mom

That segment of the Alicia Suskin Ostriker poem, Propaganda Poem: Maybe for Some Young Mamas, appears in her book,
The Mother/Child Papers, published by University of Pittsburgh Press 1980, 2009. You can find it here.

PS Subscribers to Laundry Line Divine have been given a chance to update your connection to this website. I hope you will continue reading me here, following the work I do and the events I produce. I am taking An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice on tour this August to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Stay tuned for news!

Giving Motherhood A Voice Poster

%d bloggers like this: