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What we are learning from Jessica Grose and Kim Brooks about motherhood today.

Ella and Elsa and a green drink 9

What is interesting to me about motherhood are the voices that emerge from the bathroom while wiping up the tiles for the tenth time or from the playground where, for the fifth time in one hour you are negotiating peace. I am not interested in the anecdotes. Those are as common as sand. We all have kids or know kids who sprout teeth, who break legs or who spy things on blades of grass that we ourselves would never pause long enough to see.

What rises from the muffled lands of terry cloth and oatmeal, from healing salve and decisions about immunizations, is what it means for each of these women, what new understanding about the working of this world and their inner lives emerges when they open their mouths or wield paintbrushes. There is new ground to be revealed when the women who are too tired for sex or cocktail parties with adults who aren’t really all that interested in what that odd looking stain is on your shoulder, use the tools they possess or learn on the job to express about this terrain of womanhood.

Just today there are were very challenging and interesting articles about motherhood out on the web. On, Kim Brooks, a writer and stay-at-home mother of two, writes about her depression and what buds within her as she encounters memories of her own childhood. Kim very bravely reveals what is almost too painful to talk about in real life. Those moments when, with tears pouring down your cheeks you rally on, serve up the Oatios and carry on as if a mother with steadily pouring tears is as normal as dandelions. Kim takes the reality of her life and lifts it up with her pen, picks apart her memory to knit an intricate expression of the inner life that is also as common as dandelions but hardly ever spoken about.

Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012
Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012

Then on, Jessica Grose exposes what Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Face book espouses in her new book, Lean In, as a mishandling of the potential power to affect change for women in the corporate world. I have not yet read Lean In, but from Jessica’s article, I am disheartened to see what one mother, albeit a very powerful mother sees fit to promote. I will leave you to make your own decisions about Sheryl Sandberg’s proposed way welding career and mothering, but I am in awe of Slate author Jessica’s willingness to reveal the realities of her life and shed light on this moment in corporate culture.

In her amazing, simply amazing book, Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed, she wrote,

“It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.”

The personal is at all times political in mothering.
You are always bringing about some level of change that will affect your future and the future of untold numbers by what and how and where you raise your family.
The meaning you reveal, as the authors of Out of the Mouths of Babes and the anthology all do, leads us to a common ground. This expression allows men and women alike to share in an understanding and to see in their lives beautiful resonant intricacies.

Jennifer Boire, a writer and creativity coach from Canada joins the blog series today. Her words and her artwork will take you in.

I am completely interested in what women have to say.

Which is why I’d love you to come to Dewey Hall in Sheffield, MA at 7 pm this Friday.
Or buy An Anthology of Babes: Thirty-Six Women Give Motherhood a Voice here.
Or, simply continue coming by this Laundry Line Divine to listen to women telling stories from the front lines of motherhood.

Some say that art imitates life.
I believe art takes life to a new level of awareness.
We are delighted, comforted and inspired.
We are at times challenged.
We are at times awed.

And we are all, at all times reminded of our immense good fortune to be alive.

Xo S

My Muse and how I take care of her.

Chalcedony earrings made for me by Jenny Laird in honor of #outofthemouthsofbabesevents I am buoyed by love today. XoS

Musemother: We believe in promoting rest and creative loafing to coax the muse from out of hiding. What do you do to call the Muse?

I am my own Muse. When I take really good care of myself, my Muse, my creative voice, is rich, fertile and brimming with life. Taking really good care of myself means I am well rested. That I let myself end my day at a decent hour, sip tea and read for a while then fall asleep so I can get 8 hours. I love getting up early and have often fantasized about getting up, like Harriet Beecher Stowe would, and write in the hours when my kids are asleep. I just don’t operate that way. I need sleep.
I love to be outside. I garden. I hang my wash on a cloth rope out in my yard. I get my self outdoors every single day to let nature make her mark on me because that fuels me.
I meditate. I believe to be true what my friend Judith Prest says in her poem “When I am Quiet”:

When I am quiet,
I hold and am held
in holy silence.
Stillness magnifies
my capacity for wonder.

I read poetry. I memorize poems so I can bring them out to suck on like root beer barrels when I need some rapturous sweetness.

I do a daily writing practice, what Julia Cameron calls ‘daily pages’. I did them long before I read “The Artist’s Way” and I still do them. It keeps my writing voice warm and ready to speak.
I clear things with my husband. I take time to nurture this relationship. I am fortunate to have married a man who chooses to work at home in our attic. This means we have a pocket of time together after the kids have gone to school when we can talk over our thoughts, plans for the day, concerns, dreams or whatever is on our minds before we enter our work days. I am fortunate in many other ways to have married Jonathan, but this simple fact makes the space for us to support and love each other in very current fresh ways.
I doodle. I make small collages in my collage-a-day books. I make mail art and for over five years have collaborated making mail art with my art partner Karen Arp-Sandel. This is another long chapter about my creative life which I can tell you another time, but, no matter where I am in the world, I can always make a piece of mail art that captures where I am and mail it off to her. This collaboration keeps my Muse very very happy.

That is an excerpt of the interview I did with Jennifer Boire of Musemother.

Today, as I complete a huge project for my daughter’s class and am completely immersed in making their yearbook, I rely on these words as a reminder that every single creative act nourishes my Muse.

My Muse is fat and happy.

So is my pal Jenny Laird’s. As one of the authors featured in the premiere of ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ Jenny opened her heart, her life and her writing to an audience who took her in, every drop. Jenny has the capacity to make you weep and laugh almost simultaneously about things you really didn’t think could be funny.

She also, as a friend, stands as a Beacon of Light. While Jenny and her family navigate the rocky shoals of autism together with their gorgeous son, she also offers the people who she loves- including a group of writers who receive her writing prompts like kids take a lollipop- a sort of luminous, articulate and fully blossomed love. I don’t know if it is her intuition as a woman, her vision as an artist, or her vigilant attention as a mother, but when Jenny shows up, currents shift, a breeze picks up, the terrain is altered by her love.

These are a pair of earrings she made for me in honor of ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’.

I had to share them with you here.
And remind you that your acts of friendship and of loving, however diminutive or grand, have seismic impact.

Go ahead and love somebody full out today.
Like Jenny has with me, you will right someone’s faltering ship and put him or her back on course.


Appreciations of My Mother and of Me. What about you?

Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012
Mixed Media Collage by SBB May 2012

It is an achingly beautiful day here in the Berkshires.
And, one that no matter what I do, I cannot soak up the sweetness enough…wake up early enough to do all I like to do before my family hops around me on one foot then the other, waiting for the fun to begin.

They have given me an hour of their time in the garden.
But first there is brunch.
And, then a performance at one.
So, the phlox a-thon will wait to three or so. (My garden is engulfed in phlox)

Today, I am listing things I love about my Mom.
And then some about me as a Mom.
Then, an invitation for you to do the same in the comment section here.
Tell me of a few moments when, like today, you could not scoop up all the goodness flowing in your life so it dribbled over like mango juice down your arm and in to your shirt sleeve.

Ten appreciations for my Mom, Joann Ruth Schauer Schmeling, who died on October 10, 2010.

1. I loved my Mom’s laugh.
2. I loved her hands, big and veined and strong.
3. I loved her gait. We walk the same way, fast and strong and long. We could wander too and lollygag…but same length of stride.
4. I love the baskets she made.
5. I love her slightly sharp singing voice singing hymns in church. She knew all the words.
6. I loved sitting with her in church as a little kid and playing the hand game with her, stacking our hands- hers, mine, hers, mine and pulling them out in order silently, waiting for the interminable sermon to be over and done with, Amen.
7. I love that she always wanted to say “ A-woman” instead, but only did that at home sometimes.
8. I love that she kept her paddle in the waters of her life, even when she was stymied, ill or upset.
9. I love that she found a great love in my stepfather later in her life.
10. I love that she took us out in to the woods often as little kids- picking berries or to find a beach or to get to the top of something.

This is from a camping trip my sister Becky and I took with Mom and Pa, our stepdad, in 1988.

Here are ten appreciations of me, as a Mom… that I embarked on 18 years ago.

1. I love that it was Jonathan and me that started this whole show.
2. I love that my pregnancies were easy.
3. I love that the miscarriages I had brought me to a deeper understanding of how rare and miraculous births are.
4. I love the voices of my kids calling to me in the house.
5. I love the sacred geometry of our bodies and the way then fit in to mine, even now.
6. I love watching them in plays or performances or out in public talking to other people…just a marvel to see them as people.
7. I love what they love about me which they are loath to admit now…I can’t imagine them making a gratitude list for me now, so steeped in detaching from me and all I am today. But one day, they will admit to the tiny things I notice that they do which tell me, we are of each other, no matter what.
8. I love hearing my girl whistle. We both love to whistle.
9. I love looking out over our backyard and having all the tracings of their feet running to and fro over that ground for 15 years in this place.
10. I love yearning for them to crawl in to bed with us in the morning like they used to do, just that sense of us all on the ship of life together, but feeling them building their own boats and really…we will likely never have that sense of tight togetherness in that way again. Our boat is bigger than our bed now…it has expanded to include the bigness of their lives and this…maybe this is why I keep dreaming about ocean liners, huge catamarans and other vessels that I never quite get to in my dreams, but am always moving towards?

Here is an interview I did with Jennifer Boire about Laundry Line Divine and mothering and my work.

Here is a link to a radio clip about mothering that I did with Melissa Rosati.

I am off to enjoy a salad-y brunch they are making for me.

I hope whatever your day brings, that you spend a moment appreciating your mom, either here on the Line or in your hearts.


Organizing Light

#nofilter #greatbarrington #goodmorning #riverwalk #413 #laundrylinedivine. Have a sweet morning!

“What is to give light must endure burning.”
~Viktor Frankl

I am slowly putting this page back together again after a bumpy few days.
Life is good and full to the brim. This website it under a bit of reconstruction.
If you would like to subscribe, to keep up with Laundry Line news, please fill out the tiny box up there on the right.

I will doing dancing to this song while you do. If all you see is a blank space here, hit your ‘refresh’ button up there on your navigation bar and a YouTube video will appear.

Here are the much awaited winners of the ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ blog drawing:

Corey Sprague and Lynn Amaral won a copy of my Rice Pudding recipe.
Lisa Millen and Angela Vuagniaux won a copy of Janet Elsbach’s brownie recipe.
Lorrin Krouss won an original letterpress print, first edition on archival paper, by me at PRESS as part of
the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers events.
And Peggy Barrett won Alana Chernila‘s The Homemade Pantry.

Congratulations people!
I am so honored to get to mail you these gifts.

Here is Peggy with hers. She is a long time reader of LLD. Thank you Peggy!

Peggy Barrett is the winner of Alana Chernila's The Homemade Pantry.

Look forward to more here on the Laundry Line. I have some new friends here, Jennifer Boire– who’s poem was posted here the other day and Miranda Hersey Helin, who’s Studio Mothers site feels like my home away from home here on the internet. And I still have some wonderful photos of the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. I do have a new persona of ‘girl journalist’. Without the training, but armed with my camera and tiny notebook, I love to document events I am part of, which give me results like these.

Thank you for being here.

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