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Queen of my Own Heart: Sisterhood and thanks to Shiloh Sophia for this painting and poetry on the Laundry Line.

http://shilohsophiagallery.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/the_queen_of_her_own_heart.jpg

My Keystone Practices

Every morning I do a few things consistently.
I wake up.
I pray for a while.
Pee. Come on. I cannot do anything more before I pee.
Then I light a candle on my way past my dresser and send love to whoever appears in my heart at that moment.
I hop back in bed to do my meditation. This can take fifteen minutes or less.
It grounds me. I learned the one I do right now from Jennifer Matthews.
I do another ritual here, a very special one that is sacred to my well being that I learned from Regena Thomashauer.
I do a breathing ritual and stretches I learned from Saida Desilets.
I hop out of bed and do some hip spirals that I learned from Dr. Christiane Northrup.

And then, I hold my pink feather and speak my Stand, which I learned to do from Jill Rogers.
Depending on the day, I slip outside to do a sun salutation I learned from Kali Ray.
35 minutes, maybe 45 if I am really doing full slow breathes all along the way.

All these small gestures of grace have connected me to Source, I have offered gratitude and opened my heart.

At this point, the morning is upon me. My girl gets up, often before me, but she too enjoys a quiet morning. Ben, he gets up when he has to. School days, we are all together. This summer, there are quiet spaces among us.
In the kitchen, I spin green drinks, which I learned from my friends Patrice Colle and Janet Elsbach, and honed with my daughter Catherine.
Again, depending on the day and the season, I write in my journal, which I did long before I read Julia Cameron, but she affirmed the 45 minutes or three pages in my journal, right away. The optimal situation is if I have woken early enough before everyone and done my morning practice so I can write before I talk to anyone. Lately, this is a challenge, so I write after they are off in to their days.
I write at 10 or at 11. On days when I have to be out of the house, I write in the evening when the house quiets down and I can focus.

I am made up of things I have learned from other women.
I make these practices my own; sew in my upbringing as a Lutheran girl, my yogic studies, my years in Al-Anon, all these things that let me shed the trappings of religion to carve down to what is immediate, to my absolute connection to the Divine.

I read Rumi every day.
I read Mary Oliver.
I read the funnies because ‘Zits’ makes me know I am not alone with the teen-agers who don’t pick up dirty socks ever.

These are things I do before I pick up the phone. Before I engage in social media. And, if I am lucky, I do these things before engaging in any nagging or carping or hound dogging my kids. Such an animal I can be sometimes.

There is another big chunk which I do daily, a check-in I do with my husband. This gets mixed in to the time with the kids. I’ll write about this check-in another time, because it is integral to my relationship and fosters and feeds our connection throughout our busy days.
But first you must know about these early morning practices. Today, I dub them my Keystone Practices.
I read this article about ‘keystone species’ last night in the Economist, about mistletoe. I have studied the way grapes grow and the ‘mother vine’. When blackberries grow, that first ripe richly black berry out at the end of the cluster is called the ‘king berry’.

More Kings

And, in an act of sisterly synchronicity, Shiloh Sophia sent out that magnificent painting and this poem in her newsletter today, about every single woman being the ‘Queen of her own Heart’.

Every Woman is the Queen of her Own Heart

 By Shiloh Sophia

Every woman is the Queen of her own heart

She must decide how to govern her own domain.

She seeks friends and allies that honor

who she is now

and who she is becoming.

She has the power to create miracles.

 

All this congeals in me a sense of what makes me who I am today. I am steeping in the memories of this day, 18 years ago, which was the day before the day I gave birth to our first child, Benjamin. On this day, 18 years ago, I gardened and swam and lay in our hammock, not knowing how profoundly my life would change within 12 hours or more. I just did what I was to do that day, the Queen of my Life.

 

And so, as I have lived and laughed and wept and worried and tended this family and hung years of socks and sheets on our laundry line, I have distilled all I learned in to what it is I am doing today.
The practices I have learned from women so dear to me, these practices allow me to enter the holiest place in my life, the still quiet where I can hear God/Goddess without interruption. I listen to the silence and sweetly await the calm knowing that carries me in to the chaos of motherhood. These practices have strengthened me to mother with my authenticity present almost all the time. And they have buoyed me as I have claimed my voice as an artist, writer and actress, no matter what response I get, I am able to stand in my value as Suzi, as the individual that I am today.
And I can only hope, in doing so, I model for my children what it is to live my life out loud, as Emile Zola said so eloquently.

I am an artist… I am here to live out loud.

I am grateful for that quiet day in Hillsdale, New York, eighteen years ago, the day lilies and phlox, the monarchs, and a swim in the ore pit in the mountains kept time with me as I listened. They prepared me, as I prepare myself every single day, to be present to this mystifying and magnificent life.

Today, Michelle Aldredge posted a brilliant piece on her blog, Gwarlingo, about Jonah Lehrer’s book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. She writes:

 

“To do our best creative work, we must be focused, but also relaxed and at ease in our own skin.”

In the midst of mothering my children, I have raised myself up by committing to finding comfort in my own skin. My Keystone Practices allow that to happen for me every single day. I am a diligent student and willing to make mistakes and grow.

Creativity lives at the edge of chaos.

For me, mothering and creativity are wedded, one.
Creativity has caught my life on fire and set me blazing.
Mothering combusts all that is dross. My desire to live fully and joyfully continually fuels me to shed and release all that no longer serves me.

Being a mother means I am always wading in chaos, it simply comes with the territory.
This is the place from which I write these blog posts, my books, letters and poems.
This place, which I arrived at nearly 18 years ago now.

July 17, 1994, 5:13 a.m. at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City.

Here is JNB and Ben a few days after Ben’s birth.

I am so grateful to have woken up to this day with you all. Thank you for reading me here.
If you like what you’ve read and would like more, you can subscribe in the box to the upper right of this post.
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And, if you are are inclined, please share this post with someone you know who might enjoy it.

In the next weeks, I will be celebrating some amazing women I have met this past month. Stay tuned here on the Line and at the ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ blog series II for new posts by Alana Chernila, Jenny Browdy and more.
With all my love,
S