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Drop and Give Me Ten. Gratitudes.

2013-11-22 10.17.44

“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.

 

Housatonic River by Suzi Banks Baum

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.

 

 

Campo Bust

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 website On 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.

2013-11-18 13.31.49

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.

Pippa Penny Joy

I am grateful for my friends who carry gratitude at the heart of their work, Jill Rogers of The Seven Sacred Steps, Regena Thomashauer of The School of the Womanly Arts, and Tara Dixon of The Gratitude House. It is true what has been said by Meister Eckhart and my Mom,

“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”.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-AaGWDqUK5Ek/TnfsdX3yTRI/AAAAAAAABO8/wR09V7sS9NM/s400/ziggy%2B%2525281%252529.gif

 

 

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.

 

Love,

S

 

PS Yes, I am getting out of bed now.

What is left in Pandora’s Jar?

 

Mixed Media Collage by Suzi Banks Baum 2013
Mixed Media Collage by Suzi Banks Baum 2013

 

 

Shine, be radiant.

Today is November 1.

The evening of pranks and souls has passed.
And we are turning towards the Solstice in December.

Until then, until that darkest night, there is work to do.
Fun to be had.
Words to write.
And wash to hang.

WWAM Wordle

I am spending the weekend with a group of women
called Women Writers Artists Matrix. I am leading my
Rampant Sisterhood workshop, sharing what I have learned
about Social Media and author platform building.
We are plying the myth of Pandora as we lift the lid
off her iconic Jar of evils to find the one last thing
left there.

Pandora

That is Hope.

It is in the stories of women that I find immense hope.
For myself.
For my children.
And for our future.

All of our futures.

That is why I do what I do.
Why I write my stories.
Why I hold the space for others to write theirs.
Hope is why I run our Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series.
And it is why I produce Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of
Mothers Reading to Others for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.
Mark your calendars, for we will open the Festival on March 1, 2014.

And it is why I published An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, you can order it on Amazon. A friend just ordered 5 copies for her 50th birthday party. She is giving it as gifts to her friends.
Now that is Rampant Sisterhood.

Here is a video of the magnificent Layne Redmond, a gifted woman, artist, drummer, teacher and leader. She passed away this week. Listen to her drumming and her joy. She too was passionate about women’s stories, told through drumming. Blessings on Layne and her legacy of women drummers.

Have a wonderful weekend.
I will be back on the blog next week.

All my best,

Suzi

Women Writing From the Heart

Photograph by Lori Landau @2013
Photograph by Lori Landau @ 2013

We, women, mothers, artists, are fabricating a new archeology by creating art from the immediacy of our daily lives. In celebrating these acts, by harnessing the massive power of women’s voices- muffled for centuries and strengthening daily, by telling just how it is for you and me telling just how it is for me, we construct something not meant to compost with the banana peels, but to reside in our collective memory and to be carried on.

This quote is from a post I wrote on Laundry Line Divine last May.

Lori Landau commented on that post. She has become a very dear friend. Lori took the photograph of these slips in the home of her artist friend Heidi in California. This capture just tantalizes me beyond measure. Lori has an art exhibit this month, showing in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Here are the details.

Lori at exhibit

I will be reading a piece of Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers at The Mount- yes, Edith Wharton’s estate here in the Berkshires at this event for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. Here are more details.

Writing-from-the-Heart-BFWW

I hope this post finds you well and warm.

All my best,

 

S

 

3 Favorite Frames of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.

Margaret, Amy and Gabrielle at Out of the Mouths of Babes March 1, 2013

Before April arrives in her muddy boots I must savor a few more moments of Out of the Mouths of Babes An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others on March 1. As I write, I am listening to a recording of the event and the sounds I love the most, above Michelle, Janet, Jenny, Nichole and Alana’s reading voices are the sounds of the audience- laughing, gasping, groaning in recognition of the truths revealed in the beautiful writing we heard that night. The audience warmly embraced all the readers, singer Stephanie Campbell and special guest Susan Engel.

I appreciate every single person who attended March 1. Thank you.

The Front Row listens
My dear Michealena and Cheri at Out of the Mouths of Babes
Audience at Out March 2013

I rented Dewey Historical Hall for our evening in the heart of Sheffield, MA. I love the feeling of a town meeting, all the wood and plaster walls. Like the church basement kitchens I grew up in, the coffee mugs were so clean and neatly organized on easy-to-slide-out-of-cupboards trays. It was a joy to produce this event at Dewey Hall and I felt the common ground of our missions. Dewey Hall ‘s mission is to “promote intelligence and cheerfulness for all” and mine is “to see and celebrate the sacred in daily living, to create venues for the stories of women to be heard and celebrated, particularly the stories of mothers”. We are a good match, Dewey Hall and Laundry Line Divine.

Thank you Dewey Historical Hall. What a lovely place.

Coffee mugs
Dewey Hall

Lastly, I loved how people bought copies of the anthology and read it right there in the hall. We sold the book at intermission and by the end of the evening two people won signed copies. Just like the satisfaction gained from grins of pleasure from the people who enjoy a meal I have made, watching readers dive in to the anthology held the same feeling for me. You get to dive in to the stories of a wide variety of women with different takes on a creative life. Tears and laughter abound. I have so enjoyed hearing responses from readers like Barbara Aycock of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina who said:

I love your book & would love to purchase 5 or more copies for women I know & love. There is a wonderful & powerful voice heard in each of the writings & I found myself underlining, writing notes in the margins, & turning back page corners as I read. It is a wonderful gift, & I am deeply grateful.

Gentle reader

Thank you readers and thank you Barbara!

As I leave you this evening, I must tell you a few things.

1. The Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series will continue with full and lusty posts from Anthology authors and new writers to LLD. Today we have a gorgeous post from Stacey Mattraw, of Portland, Oregon and Cortona, Italy. Stacey will be visiting me here in the Berkshires in early April and I cannot wait to make some art with her. Here is her post.

2. The Powder Keg Sessions writing workshops for mothers and others will continue on in April through June. If you aren’t in the Berkshires but would like to dip your quills and write, consider joining me at the International Women’s Writing Guild
Big Apple conference on April 13-14 in New York City. Here is where you can learn more about Powder Keg and see some of our doodles and writing.

I hope your holiday Holy Day weekend is filled with time to read, to cook, to walk, to look across the table at your life mates and offer a few moments of gratitude for their good company.

Here is joy from my heart to yours,

S

P.S. Several people have asked to read the piece I read on March 1 titled My Oshitashi Boy about life in the kitchen with my son…who is just now learning about which colleges he is being accepted in to. I will include it in the blog series next week. xo S

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