Navigate / search

#16Days of Activism and Cherishing Gratitude

Janet's Offering Boat

A year of giving thanks on Laundry Line Divine:

We have entered the season of lists.
If you have had your fill of ten bests, three worst, or all the things I dream about condensed into seven bullet points, then this post is for you.
I will not be telling you any secrets to surviving the holidays.
I will not divulge just how it is that I already have an Advent wreath on my kitchen table, except to say, please don’t call it an Advent wreath until November 30. Until that date, it is a joyful Thanksgiving table decoration.
This post links to 16 days of action you can take about a very important topic. I move beyond Thanksgiving here. Forewarned is forearmed.

I cannot help but look back at Thanksgiving.

Mostly because it was in 1990 that I was guided by the angels, by my Al-Anon sponsor, by the hands of fate and maybe my long dead grandmother, to sit next to a very nice man who has since become my husband. But on that day, and ever since, JNB is one of the best conversationalists I’ve ever encountered, generous and curious, and he is also fervent dish-doer. Our friend Ted, husband of my sponsor, considers it is his doing that we are coupled these 24 years now, all due to a dearth of clean dishes after Ted’s preparation of a meal for many Thanksgiving orphans, like me. We stood, Ted, JNB and I, in a postage stamp kitchen, three-part-harmony, doing all those dishes. I dried.

SBB and JNB by Ruth Barron 2011

This year on Laundry Line Divine has had many highlights.

Here are links and highlights because while you are digesting pumpkin pie and packing in your courage for the later part of this post, a little dip in to the Laundry Basket might be fun.


• the Giving Motherhood a Voice Book tour to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my brave Anthology authors, three generous host organizations and my husband and me on a 17 hour drive in a car laden with bikes, books and art supplies. We did return with a few rocks. What a great trip it was!
• Making paste papers journals with my friends in Holliston, MA and the adventure Karen, Sarah and I had on the way
• The week I spent at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina making more paste paper, working with clay and dancing with my mentor Paulus Berensohn.
Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others   the event, the blog series and the way this lives today? Mark your calendar for March 7, 2015!
• FeMail Art and IS183’s ArtLab event featuring To Spring From the Hand, a documentary about Paulus and the beauty of the craft arts
• teaching Writing Motherhood at Edith Wharton’s Mount as part of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers
• Reading aloud my piece, A Minor Miracle at Mohonk as part of the Your Brave New Story retreat with Jeffrey Davis
• The long weekend conference Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions that meets next June at Skidmore College. Teaching Rampant Sisterhood was a blast.
• During the rousing, inspiring, captivating, humbling month of Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, I got to meet and present Gloria Steinem with my book and a gift. What a joy.
Seeing Sarah Ruhl in a reading of her collection, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. Sarah is one of the 20 topmost produced playwrights in the USA not counting Shakespeare.
Slow Time Salon on Superior, making art and exploring our awareness of what happens when we slow down with 10 brave women on the shores of Lake Superior in August.
• My girl Catherine and all the work she has done in her junior year already, but mostly her maṇḍala project.
• My boy Benjamin, spending the first part of the year playing lacrosse, then working in Munich, then heading to college. He will be home in a few hours.
Being in Milwaukee with my sister and niece and my Geri.
• Being on the Cape with my sisters and our families.
Paper dress show at the PRESS gallery in North Adams, MA. Exploring themes of permission, freedom and constriction with paper and words.
• The day my pal Nancy Moon came up for a day in the Berkshires.
• Exploring myth during late winter with Elizabeth Duvivier of Squam Workshops and another weekend retreat with Catherine Anderson and Cat Caracelo exploring our personal myths. The day I spent alone with Catherine after that was pregnant with ideas and inspiration.
• The steady pulse of posting here on Laundry Line Divine. My more sporadic posting on Berkshire Family Focus. And all the people I have connected with online, especially Lucy Pearce, Pippa Best, Mandy Thompson, Tania Pryputniewicz, and Jennifer Louden.
• The Powder Keg Sessions, both the Sunday Sessions and the Ramsdell Sessions: what a varying group of amazing women who are willing to show up and write together. You can come hear them read on February 22, 2015 in West Stockbridge, MA at No. 6 Depot. 2 PM.

There are many more things that happened this year. This list is neither complete or in order, but if you follow the links, you will get a sense of how things roll out on the Laundry Line. There have been moments with friends, meeting new ones like Emily McKhann at the Social Good Summit or Holly Wren Spaulding at the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers, that have touched me deeply. By far, the most gratifying experience for me here is your comments. I have developed online relationships with some amazing bloggers, some of whom I know now and am close friends with, but I must say thank you to Elizabeth, Jennifer, Julie, Marisa, Nancy, Joanne, Laurie, Lori, Lorrin, Kitty, Mandy, Jenni, Amanda, Collen, Janet and Tara and so many more- your words mean so much to me. Those of you who don’t comment, but send me emails or speak to me in person-this back and forth gives me courage. I thank you for this.

I cannot leave this gratitude shower without some attention to the fact that today,

November 25, is Amnesty International’s day to stand up for women on

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The linked post offers you suggestions of things you can do over the next 16 days.

Last night, after a busy day, I sat at the kitchen table reading the new issue of Rolling Stone that had arrived in the mail. It was late. I had tea and a slice of gingerbread cake. I could have picked up an Athleta catalog. But I read the Rolling Stone coverage by Sabrina Rubin Eberly, of an alleged campus rape at the University of Virginia and the culture around sexual assault and date rape on campuses across the US.

If I’d read the catalog, I would have slept better.
Since I read the article, dreamed the dreams I had, I woke thinking of my son on a campus, playing lacrosse and studying to be an EMT, about my daughter, soon to head to college and all the kids I know who have set off to institutions of higher learning in the past few years…. all of them, each of them, fresh thinkers, inspired young people eager to engage in a bigger way.

What if one of them experienced what many girls and boys are experiencing on campuses?
Do you realize that in a college cafeteria, students are warned not to leave their meal trays with open drinks on them alone? The concern is that someone might slip a date rape drug in to his or her iced tea. Does that surprise you? Ask the nearest college kid about this practice.

My son is about to arrive home from school within a few hours. I really want to talk this over with him without stirring his concern that I am worried about his behavior. I have no desire to instruct him, but I want to ask him this and since I am here with you on Laundry Line Divine, I must ask you too:

What is missing in the lives of our children today that they escape to college for unlimited partying and wild social lives? Why the need to be so inebriated? What are they seeking to escape or create? If one person’s fun injures another, then how can that still be fun? How do we help our kids understand limits and tolerance? How do we as parents instruct our children when they are still young and attentive to our teaching that social lives that denigrate one person or another, members of either sex, cannot but lead to dangerous activity?

What is a mother to do?

IMG_2139

Finding my way in to the arena of conversation with my kids is what I can do today. The facts make it imperative. The Rolling Stone article states

“One in five women is sexually assaulted in college, though only about 12 percent report it to police.”

You can read the New York Times coverage here.

So while you are managing the pumpkin pies and who is sleeping where in your full house this week, take a look at the crowd of girls at your kitchen table. Are there five of them there?

Conversation with our children is the best tool I know today to deal with the worries that plague mothers. Having the courage to open a difficult topic within the safety of our own homes is one way to draw common ground and explore scary realities. We cannot stop the reality, but we can find ways to build resilience, compassion and tools for self-care with our children.

I am about to write, “Hate to be a bummer.”
But it is true.
Motherhood puts you in direct line for a shitload of worry and concerns your whole life. Just ask the mothers of military personnel or parents and teachers in New Orléans.
We cannot gather round tables laden with food and love, without also too acknowledging our blessings and the power that compassion can work in the world.

My friend Peggy just sent this quote in her Thanksgiving message. It is more perfect to me than pie.

English novelist Dinah Maria Mulock Craik said:
“Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out…knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

I urge you to find ways in to gratitude this week.
Talk about gratitude, express your gratitude, take action in gratitude.      (click that link to Tweet if you please. xo)
I urge you to find the courage to talk about the hard stuff…maybe not over the Thanksgiving table, but sometime, find a way to invite conversation with your kids. No matter how old they are, there is an appropriate way to speak about social behavior, kindness, integrity and truth. Topics about alcohol and drug use, topics about how to ask for and find help or how to help a friend in need.

Our children rely on us to lead, no matter how old they are.

At Helen's in Ishpeming

 

Thank you for staying with me this long.
I am grateful, so purely grateful for the community of Laundry Line Divine.
Many thanks to you and much love,

S

 

 

PS If you need more information or want to look at a website designed to support conversations about gender equality, see He For She.

 

Original. Another word of the year. Bringing in 2014 with gratitude and a dance break.

#texture #wildmystics #intothedarknight #iamallowing xoS

This year, I will delve into what is Original.

Thank you for your comments this week.
I am preparing for our son to head back South on Sunday.
If you hear howling, that will be me.

I’ll be back on Monday.

Do you have your Words of the Year for 2014 yet?
Read here for inspiration.

If you are stumped about jumpstarting your energy for 2014, try a gratitude list.
This morning, one of the commenters on this thread made me cry.
Read here for more and leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

And for our Friday Dance Break-

Just like that.
Thank you for the nearness of you, over all these miles.
xo S

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://i0.wp.com/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.

Friday Thoughts on Laundry Line Divine

Perfection Reflection

Today is Friday.
I listened to Brene’ Brown talk with Oprah about shame last night in my studio.
What struck me shivering was the idea that what I call my disaster thinking.which happens when I am happy and joyful and well, then my brain flips on disastrous scenarios of all the ways that this moment of joy could be changed...you know how this goes?

What I knew already- which I learned from my friend Regena Thomashauer of Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts, is that when my capacity for joy gets small, it is time to expand with gratitude. And that is exactly what Brene’ said last night, as I was twiddling with this photograph, pebbling over a phrase I had heard in my head all day long, which first appeared as I walked along the Housatonic River and saw this scene.

Gratitude.
I am grateful for time to reflect.
I am grateful to live in a place that nourishes my soul.
I am grateful for my health and well being.
I am grateful for all my teachers, even the difficult ones, like my own shame.
I am grateful for you readers and your life stories going on just beyond this screen, in the real world of nubby wool scarves,  rubbed elbows and the smell of salmon left-over from dinner being cooked just down the stairs.

How about you?
Does gratitude shift your ability to feel joy?
What are you grateful for right now?
I’d love to hear.

 

xo S

%d bloggers like this: