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This Little Light of Mine

Jaq Belcher

Access Point 2012
hand cut paper, 5,071 cuts
42″ x 42″ framed

The most regretful people on Earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Mary Oliver

I have quite a mouthful to say about time and being creative.

But, being Friday evening with dinner and all the rest is at bay, I give you this immensely beautiful creation by my friend Jaq Belcher.
Jaq is a paper sculptor. She does things with paper I never imagined.

Here is where you can find her work.

Here is where her work will be exhibited in New York City with an opening on May 10.

And here, on the Laundry Line is where you can be assured that whether a doodle or a paper cut like this, your individual expression is important in the world and worth the time it takes to create.

This is what my friend Lissa Rankin, who posts messages like this one from ‘Your Inner Pilot Light’ on Face book. Lissa is celebrating three years since a major career change and big shift in her life choices. You can see her blog post about the celebration here. Lissa’s ‘Out’ post is here.

Why is it that we so often prioritize work and trivialize creative expression? How long has it been since you’ve written in your journal, pulled out the watercolors, made candles out of beeswax, created jewelry, knitted a sweater, made a scrapbook, or decorated a table with fall leaves? When you create, you give me an opportunity to come out and play. And here’s the secret most don’t understand.When you let me come out and play, your work reflects how awesome I am and it all comes full circle. All work and no play makes me dim my light.

The planet is counting you shining your light. 
I send you all my love for this coming weekend.
Now, about dinner, 

P.S. I retrieved this post from the jumble that happened when I switched servers. This was originally posted on April 27. Whatever we had for dinner must have been good or at least passable. Tonight we are having these beans from my dear Janet. They have become my Monday meal. I must tell you a funny story about Jonathan and those very beans. xo S

Favorite Frames #5 A Circle of Women

The Kripalu Elm tree looking towards Monument Mountain by SBB
The Kripalu Elm tree looking towards Monument Mountain by SBB

Standing in a circle yesterday morning at Kripalu with 19 women, some of whom were strangers to me until this past Sunday evening at 7:00 pm, I knew that one place I belong is in circles of women.

I love to live and work among and with women.
I love to spend time and work in solitude.
I love to make connections through my work in the world.

None of this to say I don’t love men or like to work with them. I live with 2 fine men I am fervently in love with and am madly in love with a bunch more.

David, JNB and Klemo
David, JNB and Klemo

I am simply passionate about the particular vulnerable grace that happens when women decide to stop bitching about stuff and do things together.

I have spent the last 4 days making vibrant visionary collages at a yoga and art retreat at the Kripalu Center in Lenox, MA. My collaborator Karen Arp-Sandel leads an extraordinary workshop blending art practices and yoga, Zen philosophy and doodling. We made many collages this week, walked the labyrinth and enjoyed our circle time. From this yoga center, which is formerly a Jesuit monastery so there is a certain cinderblock style that makes me feel like I am back in my Lutheran School again,

Bethesda Ev. Lutheran School Chicago

only the food is way way better- I can see the top of Monument Mountain which hides my town from view in the valley of the Housatonic River. I was on a retreat within spitting distance of my family, if you can spit 12 miles.

The authors and artists of 'Out of the Mouths of Babes'
The authors and artists of 'Out of the Mouths of Babes'

When I consider the real and virtual community that is growing up around ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’, the 15 bloggers we have heard from so far and the 15 I have lined up for this month, the radio interviews with Serene Mastriani & Gabrielle Senza, Jeanne Bassis, the 5 authors, my dear Lynnette Najimy, 2 video people, BFWW producers and presenters, the audience, the artists whose work we shared and Matt Tannenbaum, plus my wider writing community support- we are growing quite a circle around this project.

I could not be here without a few people.

Janet Reich Elsbach by Tina Rahr Lane
Janet Reich Elsbach by Tina Rahr Lane

One of them in Janet Reich Elsbach. She was walking with me last fall when I shared my idea for ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ and before I had really completed my thoughtful and comprehensive presentation to her as we pumped over dead logs and miles of browning oak leaves, Janet was off and running, leaping tall buildings, making connections to other writers and helping me enflesh my idea with her unique brand of brilliance. And, in the meantime, while I grew ‘Out’, she grew her own blog spot, in fact two blog spots.

Not only has Janet leant momentum and joy to ‘Out’, she contributed her writing. Her blog post on the blog series is quintessential Janet- funny, erudite, contemporary and contemplative. Janet’s piece that she read on March 2 was another piece of her writing about food and the inner and outer politics of being a conscious consumer while also being a full time mom, and a sheep farmer, and a writer. She brought her audience up close and into her inner world of weighing the value of what she does daily with what she sees in the world. She is a force of nature. Stormy at times, but predictable as weather.

I am fortunate to have Janet in my circle of Women. And, my family is fortunate because knowing Janet is to learn the ways of pickled foods you have never tried before, of brownies better than you have ever nibbled and of parties that become events that become family traditions you can hardly live without. Like the weather, our friendship is strong and serene and a condition of being who I am today.

Today’s ‘Out’ post is by Dahpne Cohn, known to many as The Pleasure Nutritionist. Daphne blogs, leads e-courses and teaches about pleasurable eating that leads to things you might like to be led to like weight-loss or improved health. I love her videos because her kids are often there, dropping Brazil nuts in to the mixer for smoothies or shyly tasting her concoctions and attempting to be serious tasters while grinning from ear to ear. Daphne has an enthusiasm for community that just makes my day.

While we made art at Kripalu, we also lingered over well-made meals rich with salads and greens and only one meal with dessert attached. Too bad they did not have Janet’s recipe. (You can have Janet’s recipe if you enter in to the March 30th drawing by subscribing to this website). The laughter and sharing that increased with our hours together, the tears shed as stories were told helped to solidify our circle, stamped our individual fingerprints in to the mosaic of the group. Here is a grouping of the small canvases that we made.

Vibrant Visionary Collage mosaic 3.12
Vibrant Visionary Collage mosaic 3.12

Because I love to sing, I shared this song with the group:

We are a Circle of Women
When we get together it is healing
We raise our voices in gratitude and praise.
We’re open to the wonders of grace
I see the Goddess in your face.
We’re blessed by the miracle of love here.
We’re blessed by the miracle of love here.

While the circle of people gathering around ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ stretches through cyber space, our hands still touch as we type our comments, our blog posts, as we press ‘send’ on our offerings of creativity. As women, mothers, or lovers of both, this gathering is laced with the fragrant and potent presence of truth. Surely, there is more to be shared here. There are miles of stories to be witnessed. I have every desire to travel with ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ and invite other mother author artists to share stories and inspire audiences as we did on March 2.

And, until I pack my bags with my chicken call and rice pudding, I will be here at the Laundry Line, shaking loose the knotted socks and the colorful tales of my life. Thank you for standing in this circle, both women and men, I am grateful for your presence.

Now I suggest you get in line for that brownie recipe.
xoxoxox Love, S

With a little help from my friends

FeMail from Karen Arp-Sandel
FeMail from Karen Arp-Sandel

Goethe said ‘tell only a wise person or else keep silent.’ I say tell only your choir, those who believe deeply in you and fully support you in your journey. To tell anyone else anything of your heart is a waste of breath and of spirit.

Maria Sirois

Today’s post is a tribute to tributes.

Do you love the moment when you open that birthday card and there is a small ode to you, written by someone who loves you enough to find the perfect card, assemble postage, write in the perfect pen color and spread some sparkles in the envelope, just so you can feel the magnitude of love coming your way?.

Valentine from my dear friend Jan Lawry
Valentine from my dear friend Jan Lawry

I have gotten some great mail in the last weeks, from some of my dearest correspondents. And, I have received a tribute or two on friends’ websites where they so generously dollop on the sparkles to share about ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ and with a touch about me.

Here is my friend Joanne Tombrakos, a guest blogger in the ‘Out’ series.

Here is Janet, posting a hilarious photo of me with a very sweet tribute. I guarantee you if you go to her site, you will be hungry and cooking within minutes.

And here is Jennifer Gandin Le, who after posting the most hilariously perfect recipe for a green smoothie in approximately 49 steps including one in which she is fishing her husband’s watch out of the toilet, photographing it and putting a new outfit on her nearly one year old, took the time to write this sweet thing about ‘Out’ and me.

Love Love Love

If you are new here and wondering what I am referring to in ‘Out’, read here. Next week, Friday March 2, my husband’s birthday, I am producing an event for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. It all began with the book I am writing and seeking opportunities to read my work in public. The event is blossoming and you can keep track of it here on the Laundry Line. If you subscribe to this site in the little box above and to the right, you will get demure notices with cyber sparkles in it when I post new things here.

Today would not be complete without a tribute to the next guest blogger in the ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ blog series. Maria Sirois is a walking tribute to the value and power of love. She pays attention and speaks about it in ways that catch your breath. Maria is a soul supporter of the finest sort and I am thrilled to have her here on the Laundry Line. Below is Maria offering some jet fuel for your soul via Poet Laureate, Stanley Kunitz.

I am striped with the hours today, peeling one after the other off and my list just gets longer with every passage of 60 precious and beautiful minutes. Over lunch today, most of which was made by Catherine except for the quick Mojo sauce that Janet inspired me to make, we sat here on this snowy afternoon panting like long distance runners. I am doing my best to promote and write and connect while engaging my kids, feeding them and ignoring the laundry because it is snowy and who needs to hang wash today, not me!

Thank you for all your love and support to me and of my writing. One week from today 5 authors and I will take the stage at Blodgett Hall on the campus of Simon’s Rock College of Bard to premiere ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’.

I am hooked on this app ‘Wordle’ This is what I did with some of your comments here on the Laundry Line.
I am hooked on this app ‘Wordle’ This is what I did with some of your comments here on the Laundry Line.

I am buoyed by your readership here, by your love notes that come in the mail or in your comments. Thank you for taking this in to your heart and letting this Laundry Line have an impact on your living.


My Immense Good Fortune

“True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.”

Baltasar Gracian (Spanish Philosopher and Writer, leading Spanish exponent of conceptism, 1601-1658)

Two weeks from today our pilot event, our premiere moment for ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ will occur at 7:00 pm EST. Our event is presented by
The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers.

What is making this project happen is the momentum created by women telling their stories. One such teller, one such woman, one mother artist inspiration is Janet Reich Elsbach.

Her blog post on the ‘Out’ blog series squarely hits the heart of this project with her characteristic elegance.

So, as she “appreciates the ‘doing’ as value” I share the next in our ‘Out’ video blogs and these photos of some of the things Janet does or I do at her house or we have done together because our friendship is at the center of my creative life. Her love and support and massive good humor have pulled me off the edge many times.

And I will not even begin to tell you about the love affair I have with her son. That, you will have to read about when Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers is published.

I see things like this when I am with Janet
I see things like this when I am with Janet
The Canning Coven at work
The Canning Coven at work
The Fruits of our Labors
The Fruits of our Labors
See? Everything looks so good over there.
See? Everything looks so good over there.

Celebrating the good fortune of you here with me,

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