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Acting With Grace and Joy: summertime pleasure research


Clothespins at the Coop

These windy June days are perfect for hanging wash on a laundry line.


I am heading to Women’s Voices, Women’s Visions tomorrow for
three days of learning, sharing and celebrating women creatives
at Skidmore College. The symposium is led by my friend Jan Phillips.

This morning I read Jennifer Currie’s newsletter. I think she has been reading over my shoulder as I prepare my class plans for Rampant Sisterhood.

I teach women who want to build platforms for their work online.

Jennifer asks a beautiful question that I wanted to share with you.

So, I’m wondering…what dreams and great ideas are you turning over in your mind or actively working toward? Now is a great time to be doing research and creating a plan. Mercury is Retrograde until July 1st, and it’s good to review things, gather information, and complete projects that are already underway. Mercury is the planet that rules communication, travel, and electronics so it does have a reputation for causing miscommunications, computer glitches, appointments that seem to vanish from the calendar, and urgent texts that don’t go through {to name a few}.
from Jennifer Currie’s newsletter

My dreams and great ideas are percolating like mad this month.
I consider summer a time for research. I try to make my decisions based on pleasure, no matter what. Yesterday I was in North Adams where I am collaborating with a group of women artists making paper dresses. I’d spent the afternoon making pressure prints from fabrics I have kept hoarded 35 years or more. I hauled out a black silk kimono that I’d borrowed stole from a community theatre I worked with when I was a teen. I wore it to a party and someone spilled white wine on me. I was horrified. I tried to repair the damage, but wine on black silk permanently altered the fabric, so I carried that kimono around with me to every single place I have lived and never wore it again. It had a terrible stain on the front.

It was in my box of shame.

Yesterday, I gave myself permission to let it out.
My friend Karen, who is my FeMail collaborator, stood next to me as I bravely cut out the embroidered panels of the dress and used one on a printing plate. I set up the Vandercook press under the guidance of my friend Melanie, and before you know it, the very piece of clothing which bore the shame of my mistakes- multiple- come on! I took it without asking. I wore it. And while I wore it, the kimono was ruined.
Not life shattering but I take my integrity seriously. Even at 18, I knew I was in the wrong.

Yesterday allowed me to release this mistake and let that shame be transformed in to art. Jan says this:

To create is to make something whole from the pieces of our lives and in the process to become more whole ourselves.
~Jan Phillips

Whatever I am making makes me whole, mends the rents that daily living make in my spirit.

Whether it was the hummus I made on Sunday or the pressure prints I made yesterday, the book I published last March or the book tour I am taking with that very book back to my homeland- back to the town with the very community theatre that I stole from! Hey, I am sure there is some way I can make a little forgive me card from one of the prints.

Oh well. You see how one thing leads to another in my life.



A doodle in the ZenTangle style by my dear Carol LeBlanc
A doodle in the ZenTangle style by my dear Carol LeBlanc

The breeze is high in the Berkshires today.
Forgiveness is running clear.

So I want to ask you:
What wholeness can you create from something you release?
A cleared off shelf upon which to set a vase of peonies?
A dumped out magazine bin to turn over and set your latest doodle in a frame upon?
Some badge of shame that really does not need to clutter your life anymore?

I look forward to hearing.
Heading out to the laundry line,



Thank you for reading Laundry Line Divine.


For more writing from inside motherhood by Suzi and 35 other women, find yourself a copy of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. In a recent review posted on Amazon and Good Reads, a reader said:


This book is filled with little gems, golden nuggets of words and illustrations, emotions and dreams, vulnerabilities and expressions of deep pride, humor, poetry, and prose that’s visceral.


You can give a gift to a friend that has the power to grace women’s lives. Proceeds from the sale of An Anthology of Babes benefit two organizations in Berkshire County that provide free and low cost health care for women and families locally. Make a difference in one woman’s life that ripples out in to the world.

If you will be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August and would like to know more about the Giving Motherhood a Voice book tour, subscribe to this site for updates and opportunities to connect.


Order your copy here.



When Women Were Birds

Rites of Passage bathroom SBB

There has been a sweet quiet on this website all week.

My son graduated from high school.

My daughter is plowing through her last days as a freshman at Monument Valley Regional High School.

And I was in a play directed by Pooja Ru Prema.
You can see a gallery of photos of Rites of Passage here. (The gallery is incomplete, but gives you a flavor of the experience. I will post more photos.)

I have been living the reality of rites of passage all June.

As the rain pours today, art day, I resume with putting motherhood on the front page. Motherhood is a journey every woman takes, birthing art, children or businesses- if you choose to claim this journey of your life as a birthing. You may not and that is totally fine by me.

I have been steeped in birthing, as a creative person, my whole life- ideas, plays, adventures, children and now books. During the month of June I will continue to share guest blog posts from Barbara Radecki, Cheryl Paley and others along with more of my own.

Summer reading lists are floating around all over town.

My first suggestion to you is Terry Tempest Williams’ When Women Were Birds.

In it she says:

“…Twenty-two years later, these words, this image, “When Women Were Birds,” came to me in a dream without explanation.
Were we?
Are we still?
Or are we in motion, never to be caught? We remain elusive by choice.
“I am a woman with wings,” I once wrote and will revise these words again.
“I am a woman with wings dancing with other women with wings.”

In a voiced community, we all flourish. “

~Terry Tempest Williams
When Women Were Birds
Picador 2012

My experience in Rites of Passage gave wings to my voice.
I read to the audience as they passed through our Kitchen, curated by Karen and me as FeMail, honoring Woman as Domestic Goddess. Karen and I conceived a space where the creativity of women births communion, communication and connection. We decorated the kitchen table to be an altar to our art making, to the alchemy born from women’s interaction with every day life. While Karen made art, I read, Tanya made toast and Gil washed the dishes as the audience meandered around our space, listening, smelling, seeing, hearing and touching. They left at the beckoning of a bell.

We carried and carry on.
Winged. Voiced. Blessed.

What's next for you?
What’s next for you?

Here is to June. Wet, dry, hot or cold, grateful to be alive.
With love,

Putting Motherhood on the Front Page with Karen Arp-Sandel

Dada Birds by Karen Arp-Sandel Mixed Media Collage
Dada Birds by Karen Arp-Sandel Mixed Media Collage

These mixed media collages by Karen Arp-Sandel were currently shown in the IS183 Art School of the Berkshires Faculty art show in Stockbridge, MA this month. And, as you can imagine, they were purchased as a set to some very happy art owners!

Karen has an upcoming class at IS-183 Art School of the Berkshires.
I will be watching my son graduate from high school that weekend, but if you are hankering for a deep dive in to book making, look at this class.

Celebrating mothers this month on Laundry Line Divine means we are Putting Motherhood on the Front Page. All month I will be sharing guest blog posts from the Out of the Mouths of Babes blog series here on the front page. In this collection of writing, women who are artists, authors, dancers, filmmakers and quilters will be sharing their creative journeys. I am convinced that the stories these women share illuminate the territory of motherhood with a detail and expansiveness that is rarely found elsewhere.

I know very well that some of the readers of Laundry Line Divine don’t have children. For a myriad of complicated and intensely personal reasons, you don’t have kids.

But, you do mother in so many other ways.

Coleen Davidson’s post says it so well. Women, by nature, are ‘madres’ to others. It is in our female DNA to care for others. While I will never stand here and say that one choice or situation is better than another, since I am a mother, this is my perspective. I never, ever want what happens here on Laundry Line Divine to feel like a club, exclusive membership only. I know women who have become stepmothers at 45. I know women who have adopted at 43. I know women who are perfectly happy without children and get immense joy out of showering nieces and nephews with a standard of care and attention no mother could muster. I also know there are some great guys who read these posts. Thank you each! When I welcome the stories of mothers, I am welcoming the stories of all women who own their creative powers, whether you birth babies, books or business. Please let me know if you’d like to contribute to this series by writing me at

You can take some of this goodness home with you.

An Anthology of Babes

Consider buying a copy of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, which compiles some of the blog posts and writing from the live events I host for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers called Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others. Mandy Steward of Messy Canvas wrote this review.

Here is where you can buy the book.

Here is the book trailer. I haven’t shared it much yet, but I’d love you to take a peek.

Karen and I were featured blog posters at the Museum of Motherhood two years ago. We wrote a series of posts about our mail art exchange called FeMail.
You can see the posts here.

Hope the birds are singing sweetly in your neighborhood,

Juicy precision sankalpa and my #doodleaday2013 invitation

#doodleaday2013 pass this on...can you read this okay? Playing with new app. XoS

I love starting projects at this time of year.

Today I launched a tag on Instagram, where I like to play visually.
It is an invitation to doodle every day, photograph it and post it on Instagram with this tag #doodleaday2013.
Sunni Brown tells you in this Ted Talk why doodling would do you a world of good this year.

When I doodle, I just make myself a small, often square, shape to fill in and apply my pen or pencil. I don’t give myself a wide panel, just something small. Go on. Try it. If you enjoy Instagram, I’d love you to play there with me. I will post more doodles from my friends here on the Line.

In this bright sunny winter light, I am taking stock of what I have done for the past year. I consider what ideas that have taken form in me and in my world. Today I am preparing for an annual meeting I have with my art collaborator, Karen.

I love this quote from Sarasvati Yoga’s site.

The juicy, precision sankalpa is the resolve, determination and good intention that resonates precisely in your core and aligns sublimely with your essence . It is fluid enough to insinuate itself through the semi conscious patterns of self sabotage, wounded self’s objections and ego discontent. It is a will power that is flexible enough to account for changing circumstances as the sankalpa begins to manifest in your inner and outer world. Yet it is precise enough not to be diverted by the core negative beliefs that stand against it.

This meeting is our sankalpa practice. This ancient tradition is described here.
As you may have noticed, Karen and I love to take things we learn-like this practice from the yogic traditions, and bring it in to our daily lives. We are both yoginis and lean in to our meditation practices for inspiration and guidance. In our sankalpa practice Karen and I list things that inspired us and illuminate what we choose to carry forward into our life and work. This is a time of deep harvesting and listening for themes that emerged in 2012 and looking at what might take root in this new year.

I am so drawn to my winter cave on these cold days. I have learned to answer the call of winter and hibernate. I give myself time to write longer in the evenings, I don’t do every little thing outside the house, I budget more hours when I don’t have to be driving places so I can respond to the quieter forces that well up in this stillness.

(This is when the slow cooker really comes in handy.)

Here is another writer yogi’s description of sankalpa.

Here is what I said about my Sankalpa preparations last year.
Just reading this post gives me a perspective on what 2012 held for me.

I am heading back to my writing chair, but I urge you do let yourself engage in a new practice this year that could add a new dance move to your already cool repertoire. Doodle with me if you like, follow me here on Laundry Line Divine and go ahead and find your juicy resolve to live your brightest light.

It is so required today.


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