Some stuff I make gets drunk by other people, or eaten, or tipped in to the compost, which will be eaten, eventually by my friend Josh’s new pigs.
Some stuff I make walks around on two legs, with jeans on, with attitudes, habits and gazes that I think about endlessly. I ache for those things.
Some stuff I make happens between me and you, reading on Laundry Line Divine. What gets made might be space and time to consider where your next soulful wandering will take you, what you might be doing with say, a single hour of your day today that is labeled “just for me time.”
All of it issues from my hands, my heart and my soul.
I have been painting sheets of these. In my usual Virgo, calculating widget-y way, I figure I have painted about 1500 spaces, which hold words or phrases. Some of you use them as writing prompts. My friend Suzanne uses them as dinner table conversation starters.
In a few weeks this website will emerge from a chrysalis transformed. There will be a new tagline and lots of my visual work will be more evident. My friends Tina and Lynnette have taken a bunch of photographs so you can get a better sense of the work I do. There will be a new offering, something some of you have asked me about for awhile. I will be announcing a new Powder Keg Sessions writing workshop ONLINE. Yup. If someone wants to purchase a special writing something for you for the holidays, send him or her my way on the Solstice. The online workshop will be a month-long class that meets one evening a week. More on all of this on the Solstice, December 21.
But til then, in this luscious dark season where we get pulled and pulled and pulled, let yourself get dark. Take time outside, in the waning light of late afternoon to walk slowly and let yourself ponder. Sift inside for the seeds that you are harvesting from all you have done this past year. Savor all you have accomplished. Yes, even all those doctor visits with your daughter, the second and fifth opinions. Yes, those hours you sat in the hallway, outside the MRI room where your kid was being tested. Yes, even then, holding your mother’s hands, just so quietly. Just so quietly.
All of it, the care giving and the making, all that we touch in the ways that we touch it, strong, feminine, blessed hands doing as a way of giving care, making as a way of extending our touch.
It is all you. It has value. You, my dearest, have value.
Have a sweet weekend.
I may be back here in the morning with a Quest2016 post.
Until then, painting with black and touching persimmons.
Your Quest2016 Prompt today: What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…
The Quest is back. My loyal tribe of business artists making their way in to 2016 with clarified aims and newly discovered wealth and spirit is back to it’s robust sharing around the web. Since December 2014, I have applied myself to this quest mostly because I really love to work collaboratively on a topic and sometimes my writing life feels lonely. Yes, I teach. Yes, I have friends who I meet for tea. But all of my work is surrounded by the quiet solitude I need to listen, create, craft, and hone. To know that others are doing the same, questioning their aims and inspirations and owning their own gifts gives me immense courage. If you are curious about Tracking Wonder’s #Quest2016, go here.
Today’s prompt is from Susan Piver. Close readers of Laundry Line Divine might recall that I read Susan’s book, Start, Here, Now earlier this fall. Susan’s introduction to the practice of sitting meditation has completely enhanced my daily practice. Through her simple instruction, I have increased my sitting practice, which makes me feel more inner resilience when things get hot in the kitchen with my kids and allows me a clearer path to my creative work. As you may know, I am devoted to daily practices that support my well being and my work, with pleasure dwelling at the center. Susan’s approach to meditation has offered me a wealth of tools.
But, now, of course, she shows up as the first mentor offering a prompt today. Great. Of course, it is a question that I have wanted to answer; of course, she taps a vulnerable spot, which yields a few tears with the asking of it.
What do I most need to tell myself for 2016?
Here is the list:
1. That I am enough, just as I am.
2. That my work is worth the time I invest in it and my work is worth being paid a decent reliable sum.
3. That I can write anyway, even when I don’t feel the fuzzy thrum of ideas burbling, even if I don’t have a clue where I am headed, like right now, and even if my book feels like a large beast standing in the dark, being described by tiny little ant creatures feeling it with their tiny ant hands.
I have learned so much this past year. I have taught some amazing women from whom I have learned much. My brilliant mentors have bounteously taught me this year, way more than they likely realize, but gifts, gifts, gifts have cluttered my path all this yearlong.
“What we fear is more private, mysteriously belongs to everyone.”
But hearing is hard at this time of year, even when what I tell myself is what I most want to hear. The clanging of carols and the impending holidays amp up our sense of necessary doing so much so that our own self care can waddle off to a corner and wait out the month. My dear pal, Dr. Deb Kern posted about rituals that can support us this season here.
Like Deb, I amp up my rituals this month. I was raised in the Lutheran church and for all the distance I have between doctrine and my faith practice, I have held close the rituals that warmed me as a child and passed them on to my children. Even now, the Advent calendar is in the window and the dinner table is lit with a one candle for this first week of Advent. Catherine and I attended church this past Sunday and sang songs she has known since she was a tiny tot. I learned a few years ago how much I benefit from more quiet writing and art journaling during Advent. I apply lots of black gesso to my pages and write with white pens, silver paint and gold lettering. I begin to feel the season inside me, rather than feeling it foisted upon me. The more I let myself witness the dark, the more I feel advent happening inside me.
Something about light
how it comes surprisingly,
just when you’d accustomed yourself to dark,
surrendered to this now dark way as forever.
a cloud thins,
You just had to wait for it.
-Suzi Banks Baum
a small poem I wrote yesterday.
As we approach the Winter Solstice, you can expect lots of posts about seeing light. There will be a very special event here on Laundry Line Divine around the Solstice. Until then, I urge you to think of the image of a campfire this month. Set it to blaze in your mind and then bank it up, don’t let it flame out of control; don’t let it get too spread out. Gather your inner resources close by. At the grocery store just now, I bought small packets of scented bath salts on sale. This is one small move of self-care that increases my resilience in December. Baths warm me, and are a perfect time away from doing. My girl cut a board just longer than the edges of our bathtub so I can read a book safely while soaking in eucalyptus scented water.
To bank a fire is to cover the coals or embers with ashes or cinders, thus keeping the fire low but alive.
Let your fires burn low. Just as I found that definition of “banking a fire,” just beyond my screen a large red-tailed hawk landed on an oak branch just to the right of this sentence. Hawks appear in my life when I am beginning big adventures and this month, this Advent, these weeks before Solstice, before the holidays, before the arrival of 2016 feel just like that. A big adventure.
And what I most need to hear, when embarking on an adventure is, “I am enough. I am worth it. My work is worth it. And I can work, no matter what.”
Thanks to Susan Piver for the QUESTion today.
Please leave me a comment and let me know how you bank your fires during December. Also, share this post with a pal who may need a little boost in her self-care.
Thank you, always, for stopping in at the laundry line,
With a salute to the hawk,
Here are some of my other posts about Advent and art journaling my way towards the New Year.
I have also been in the final week of a 6-week journaling experience with my friend Mandy Steward, of Messy Canvas, and Hilary Rain of Spirit,Soul,Earth. These Sisters, met on Instagram and Face book, have served me a dose of deep introspection along the path of Advent and Christmas and the 12 Holy Nights. I am entering this New Year having scoured my soul by asking some hard questions and noticing the places where my inner life and my outer expression mingle. I am not a weaver, but there must be a term for the territory where one pattern or color merges in to another.
I have been in that territory, in the dark regions of my soul and the colorful interior of my curiosity. Tracing this journey in my art journal has fed me.
And so, I emerge today.
I emerge ready to teach others about locating what is original and magnetic about themselves and how to bring that intricate pattern out in to the world online to construct author or artist or small business platforms. What I do on the interior is what I also do on the exterior. And as in a magnificent tapestry, the place where my inner life touches, mingles, and merges with my outer life intrigues me.
Which may explain a little bit why I have been so quiet here on the Laundry Line.
And why, in the midst of everything else, of my son being home, of the celebrations and gatherings and wintry sojourns to ice skate or hike, I have not posted much.
Metamorphosis is happening.
This morning I read in Mirabai Starr’s book about Saint Teresa of Avila:
“Transformation requires unraveling, and regeneration is predicated on rest. Multiplicity is born of oneness, and the sound of creation issues forth from the primordial silence.”
Today, I want to honor two women who have come in to my life, two more, beyond the treasures of Mandy and Hilary, through my interactions on the Internet.
One is Tania Pryputniewicz, who I met via SheWrites and the group of women writers we are in that focuses on mother writers. Tania lives in California and from across the country, through email, our blogs and real papery mail, we are getting to know each other, our writing, our mothering, our questions and our inspirations.
Tania offered me an amazing blog post for Out of the Mouths of Babes that I have been waiting to publish. Metamorphosis is her topic. Tania’s eloquent blog post energizes the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series. Her words scatter light across the dark landscape of winter, shooting rays of refracted truths all over our bodies. Tania inhabits her femininity, her mothering and her writing with a fullness borne of paying close, slow attention. Her post will premiere Monday morning, as I am heading to Simon’s Rock to teach.
Where do I get to be fully present? The honest answer is in starts and stops and by listening to my body (most overlooked but most potent nexus) at each virtual and literal location. One website, one interaction at a time. Whether feeling whole, partially present, apprehensive, overjoyed.
I urge you to plan your morning read here on Laundry Line Divine tomorrow.
Speaking of reading, my fourth wonder of the web sister, Lucy Pearce, who I met via… well, we have many overlapping friends, but central to both of our lives is mothering and creativity. Lucy’s book, The Rainbow Way has been in my lap daily since it arrived here a few weeks ago. I look forward to devouring it whole. But what I read this morning urges me forward, as if Lucy is cheering me on.
Not everyone need dedicate themselves to the life of the artist. As a creative mother, unless your children are much older or you can afford full-time childcare, you are unlikely to be able to. But we can all learn to quiet ourselves, to look outside with open hearts and listen inside with curiosity. We can all develop our senses and practice giving expression to our inner experiences. Every single one of us can learn to express what we truly love, what we find beautiful and multiply this in the world.
It is this multiplying….
like the caterpillar, who, in the dark confines of the cocoon, turns to ooze, which turns, remarkably into a butterfly, this metamorphosis of our lives, ordinary and mundane, repetitive and worn scruffy, in to stories, paintings, cakes or doodles, this is where golden alchemy occurs.
And this is what Rampant Sisterhood, sharing that gold out in the world, is all about.
And what Out of the Mouths of Babes does with and for women who are mothers, who explore their creative voices.
And what Laundry Line Divine and all the other ways I work in the world do…. giving voice to the warp and the weft of being a woman or a man in relationship to all that is sacred in our daily lives.
Suzi, your book arrived yesterday and I have spent every spare moment devouring it, it is SO rich and deep and true, I cried many times, tears of recognition, and many times my heart stood still – I so didn’t want it to end. I was totally inspired by your FeMail project – and very honoured to receive one of your cards… Thank you so much – deep blessings on your work -I am so glad we found each other and do hope to be able to collaborate further in the future. ~Lucy Pearce
PPS Please comment here. I love your words. And do share this post. Thank you for your Rampant Sisterhood.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
—Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Miracle of Mindfulness
It is a cold damp day here in the Berkshires.
I know many of you are struggling with the low temperatures across the nation today. I send you all my warm thoughts and prayers for comfort.
I am in bed. Working, but in bed.
It is just one of those days when I can.
And so. For now, jammies are the outfit and tea is the food.
I came across this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, which exemplifies Laundry Line Divine where I write
about seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life.
It is not so easy, always, to find the gratitude from inside whatever is binding you, whether it is harsh weather, climate change, self-judgment, failed dreams, peevish children, difficulties in relationships.
But there is something to finding your way to gratitude from within those boundaries. So often, I think I have to wait until I am free of them, the problems solved, the weather bonny, the bank account restored, the meal made, the skirmish quelled, the leader mourned…once I am free of them, then I can find gratitude.
But what makes the dance holy, is finding gratitude from within the strapped places in your life.
Like Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, we are engaged in one big fat miracle by being alive and that, my dears, can be your first gratitude.
I am grateful I am alive.
Here are ten gratitudes of mine today.
Leave me your ten in the comments.
I am grateful to be alive and well and living in the Berkshires.
I am grateful for places of beauty, like this one, created by my friend Barbara.
I am grateful for Advent, the time of going within and making art and writing during the season when I usually torture myself about gifts and baking and preparations.
I am grateful for my friend Melanie and her daily art posting during Advent.
I am grateful for my friend Mandy Steward and her invitation to venture in to the dark regions of my soul.
I am grateful for living here, with my husband, making it up as we go, parenting, working, living in a community.
I am grateful to be free of the molds of expected behavior when it comes to how I am supposed to live. Somehow, I stepped out of that a long time ago.
I am grateful for poetry, today, Christopher Wiman and his poem, I Said To My Soul, Be Loud.
I am grateful for these girls singing my favorite song, with such incredible style and grace.
I am grateful for finding the websiteOn Being today. Fueled. Thank you.
I am grateful for art making and my friendship with Karen Arp-Sandel and all the fun we create, daily for each other with FeMail.
I am grateful for my journals and pens and the trees and ink and the water and energy that made them.
I am grateful for my healthy kids.
I am grateful for heating oil and the deep thunging sound of the tank full.
I am grateful for getting to do yoga with amazing people and a studio where kids can be there, with teachers who are welcoming and grace-filled.
I am grateful for all the ways I get to be in the community, with my writing workshops, with Rampant Sisterhood, with the upcoming workshop I am leading, with the book tour I am planning for August 2014, with my March 1 event coming up, I am so grateful that I have work to do and some of it, I can do from bed.
I am grateful for my Mom. I miss her so much these days.
I am grateful for getting to write for other websites, like Berkshire Family Focus.
I am grateful for all the friendships I have that were bonded through the internet, Joy Rose of the Museum of Motherhood, Tania Pryputniewicz of Mother, Writer, Mentor and Pippa and Penny Best of The Story of Mum.
“If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”
I am grateful to believe, every day, like Thich Naht Hahn says, that there are miracles every single day, in our ordinary lives, all around us, and noticing them recalls the days to gifts because being alive and awake is a gift. As Ziggy used to say in the cartoon I had taped in to mirror
“Today is a gift, that’s why they call it The Present”.
Okay. That is 20.
So when you are hankering for someone, like your grumpy teen-ager to say thank you, prime the pump with your own gratitude. Write thank you notes on paper that you put in the mail. Yes. Email is okay, but paper rocks the soup. Model everything you want for your self. Give it to others.
Thank you for reading me here.
For enduring my jammies and this bad hair day.
I look forward to hearing your ten.