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Go easy. Pray often. Make of your life a beautiful offering.

Sacred Refuge Offering Photo by Lynnette Lucy Najimy of Beansprout Productions
Sacred Refuge Offering
Photo by Lynnette Lucy Najimy of Beansprout Productions

Staying real this season

As you know, because I have said it before, but let it be said again, the trifecta of holidays that is just round the bend has a certain concoction of pleasure, guilt and shame that really can put us through the wringer emotionally (who here has agreed with everything you hear coming out of your mouth while standing in the kitchen, still in your jammies, when the guests call to ask if they can come over early? Or who has paid for something with your credit card that you know you will regret later but it is easier to put that off by chirping, “Charge it!”), physically (staying up til all hours pouring over Pinterest to find the right craft idea for the gift that you haven’t made yet, but you are sure you can find something and whip it up-best work done is always after midnight, isn’t it,*bleary* counts?), spiritually (Oh please just know that I haven’t figured out how to navigate the holiday season without a ton of conflicting thoughts about what I believe. Boiling it all down to “gratitude” is helpful, but it does not stop the flow of tears when certain Christmas carols catch me off guard at the gas pump.)

To say that we need to apply gargantuan doses of self-care this season will only make some of us feel more overwhelmed. Who, really, can swim through these days without feeling compelled to overdo, overbuy, overcommit, over-invite, over-plan, overeat, overoverover? Women are so often the ones who make the holiday hoopla happen, while we partner with our mates, if we have one, to help pay for it all. Parents especially, feel taxed to do it all, and do it so our kids-know what?-what it looks like to over extend to provide an experience that will be so charged with grief that any goodness is wiped off the slate?

Oh.
I just have a head full of steam this year to dial it back.
Go easy.
Pray often.
Make of your life a beautiful offering and live like you mean it. Like you are the gift. Not the overwrought gifts we make in the wee hours when really, we could be asleep, dreaming of sugarplums.

People who make stuff, creative people, people who are all reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s fantastic new book, are especially succumbing to the “I’ve got ten pair of hand warmers to knit in five weeks while finishing the first shitty draft of my book and with my left foot I will be stirring the quince jam” syndrome.

It is the syndrome of making everything for everyone and not making any time for myself.

We are the we

 

Making stuff for other people is great.
We are all not my friend Benita who makes it in July.
She is the exception to this rule. I wager she has stuff wrapped already.
But for the rest of us, I wonder how we can dial back our doing and let ourselves find a few simple ways to stay present and well and real this holiday season?

How do I know when I am able to stay “present, well and real?”

When I get enough sleep, especially when I am in bed by 10 PM.
When my stomach is relaxed, excited is great, but not jammed up against my diaphragm making it difficult for me to take long slow deep breathes.
When I eat lunch at the table with a napkin. Not over the sink. Or in the car. Or at my desk browsing Amazon. Or not at all.
When I am looking in to other people’s eyes. This alone will be the source of so much more fun and connection than any picture you post on Instagram.

what I did with a napkin from Catherine Anderson's table
what I did with a napkin from Catherine Anderson’s table

 

Make of your life a beautiful thing.
Then, if you want, share it.
But share it with the people who are right in front of you. Sometimes I wonder if we said to actual people what we say on Facebook or Twitter, what sort of shift would come about? Would your kids know more of you? Would your partner see what you appreciate better, and thus, know more of you? Would your sister see a side of you she hasn’t met in person? Would your pet see more than your iPhone camera pointing at them?

More eye and I. Less i.

I see you.
Thank you.
Yes.

This is my tiny prayer for this coming week of Thanksgiving and holiday artisan fairs and farmer’s markets and me boohooing over being a Thanksgiving orphan. We are making a meal here at my house for whomever shows up and the fun we have will rise up from that concoction.

If what happens is we take our plates out to the picnic table out back and watch the twilight fall by candlelight, eating with our gloves on, that would be deluxe. But whatever it is, it will be real.

I see you.
Thank you.
Yes.

I am breathing easier already.
I hope you can find a way to do so also.

Thank you for showing up here on Laundry Line Divine.
Happy Friday.
xoS

 

a few more thoughts:

If you are curious about what to cook, go here.
For a really clear post about the difference between being “kind” and “nice,” go here.
If you are interested in fine-tuning your business life and upgrading your approach to making business art, please check out the Quest2016 here.
If you want start meditating this season, this is a good place to start.

 

 

Lastly, please share this post with your sister or your friend or someone you know who is starting to hyperventilate about the holidays. And then, go out for a walk. I will meet you there. xoS

Which Opportunity?

CBB SBB by BBB
Catherine and SBB at No. Six Depot taken by my son Benjamin

I am sitting in my kitchen, my laptop in my, well, on my lap and my toes wriggled in to the slots in the radiator. A chilly rain falls on my newly raked out garden, like a shower on a balding head, reaching the soil ever so swiftly. No resistant leaves to slow the soaking wet.

I await the chiming of my kitchen timer, ringing every five minutes as a request to shift around another batch of ginger molasses cookies that I am about to drive over the high school theatre where my daughter, the birthday girl, is in tech rehearsals for the Shakespeare & Company Fall Festival. In this version of Henry VI, she plays a man. It is a set of bloody scenes with lots of stage fighting, not something for the fairy loving set. She plays Buckingham and does not fight, nor does she die. But she is turning 18 and so today, I bake.

In the version of today, November 10, that I am living, toes on the radiator, ginger molasses dough under my fingernails and the kitchen smelling like a place you want to hang around in all afternoon, I am celebrating her birthday and in a certain sort of shock, mourning, stunned-towards-agreement. I am in awe on this auspicious day. When I woke this morning, I lolled around for another visit to the dream I was having, then heard her padding along in the hallway and
I broke in to a rousing “Happy Birthday” at dawn’s early light. My first thoughts are of her and her brother, however old they are, my prayers banter with my worry, my meditation placates my projected agenda and I listen, listen, listen for signs of need, concern, and outright joy.

St. Lucia is in a fairy nightgown!
St. Lucia is in a fairy nightgown!
Girl with the cherry earrings
Girl with the cherry earrings

On my cushion the thought came to me that this day is one of particular opportunity for me. But, what confounded me then is the question that has confounded me since I began this motherhood career, that of which opportunity? Isn’t that always the thing? Every time we fly we are coached with what I know to be good advice, “put your own mask on first before assisting others,” but the others quickly expand beyond your progeny, your mate, your pets, your parents, your siblings, the tomatoes, your job, your other boss, your tiny bosses, the school your kids go to, the schools they might want to attend, your faith practice, your friends, the poems that tantalize you when you are seemingly idle, and all the other ways fancy, inspiration and dreams dare you to draw them on to your lap.

There are many factors that decide our time for us. Delivery times for kids, articles, donations to fund-raisers, thank you notes, completed jobs, inquires, appeals, submissions, contributions, invitations-all the ways we do things that adhere to a timely arrival of the expected materials cause us to rouse and make haste. But then there are the other calls, the ones that show up in our dreamy times, in our journals, doodled in the sidebars of the tests you are grading-somewhere over there, out of the reach of your direct discerning attention, in the shady area where yearning and action do a little gig.
Lately, I have been researching how my work hours go when I don’t check email after every little thing I do and parceling out the minutes I spend on social media. I learned this from my friend Katey Schultz who posted an excellent piece here about how we use time online. For nearly a week I have mostly sequestered my email and online time to three segments of an hour a day. I respond to the immediate needs with care. I flag items that I need to mull over. And I delete a ton of email. I spend a bit of time on the social media sites I am active on, then I get to work. This new boundary I have made relieves me of a burden I had completely adjusted to, feeling anxious if I had not checked my email every hour. And really, there is nothing that cannot wait for at least a few hours. People who need to reach me about emergencies will text or call, and so, the online beast becomes something like a domesticated animal that I feed on a schedule. Moo. Arf. Peep. The animal is content.

Sigh.
Every single day we make choices about how we use our time. Do you put limits on your hours with email or on the Internet? I surely appreciate that some of your time is spent here on Laundry Line Divine. Thank you!

Here are some friends I have lingered with this week.

Janet at Modern Loss.
Joanne at Your Digital Blueprint for my #RampantSisterhood
Natalia at IndieGogo-help another artist mom fund her work
My friend Bryan plays Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank at NJ Shakespeare. It is an excellent, moving, affecting production.

Lastly, I will be selling my bespoke journals and Powder Keg Sessions painted prompt cards, along with copies of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers Creative Spirit Showcase on November 22, 2-15 in Pittsfield, MA. I’d love to meet you there!

Catherine’s day has been sweet. I feel her turning towards womanhood and meeting similar challenges that I met-jarring moments of surprise where gender affects decisions made by adults that you thought would not yield to stereotypes. She has weathered a few bumps this week so differently than I would have at her age and I am proud of her. But where, oh where is the girl who hung cherries on her ears and made puppet shows for hours? I took the opportunity to watch a bit of the play rehearsal after dropping off the cookies this afternoon. She affects a male swagger in knee high boots, a low-slung belt and sword, and I gasp. She is so believable as perhaps, the 8th wonder of the World, this young becoming woman. I miss that little girl; I observe this blossoming beast and I will feed it cookies and tea until I am no longer.

CBB in Shakespeare and Co 2014 by Haley Barbieri
CBB in Shakespeare and Co 2014 by Haley Barbieri

So. Good evening my dear pals.
And much love,

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?

Speechless but not powerless

http://i1.wp.com/www.moonpr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/madeleine-albright-2.jpg

 

I missed attending this year’s Social Good Summit, but my friend Nancy Moon did.
In this image, Moon touches on what I am feeling this morning…astonished and angry, sad and fearful about the state of our national attitude toward gun control. I have one child in college and another in high school. My life is swimming with children and teachers, on the faculties of public school, private kindergartens, day care centers and universities. And somehow, somehow, our country has come to a time where these bastions of nurturance and continuity-the way that most of our population figures out how to survive and be of service in life, these places have become dangerous, unpredictably unsafe for even the youngest, most innocent of our citizens.

How can this be?

Will you please start talking about this with your people? Will you please explore gun control issues in your communities and discuss how best to protect and care for our educational settings? And will you enter the movement of raising awareness about mental health issues? Write, call, dance on the desk of your Congresspeople. There is much to be done, my dears, so much, all over the world, and right now, right here, there is pain and agony because a young man was in pain and agony and had the means to take out his feelings on a roomful of innocent people.

I don’t know what else to say.

It is Friday. The caboose of a busy, beautiful, generous week. Let your Saturday include some speaking up.

 

 

All my love,

 

S

 

 

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