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Something that I make

shouts of joy

I write and make a lot of stuff.

Some of it sees the light of day.

Some of stays put deep inside my journals.

Some of it brews for later exposure.

My hands in mother clay at Penland
photo credit by Lee Irwin

Some stuff I make gets drunk by other people, or eaten, or tipped in to the compost, which will be eaten, eventually by my friend Josh’s new pigs.

Some stuff I make walks around on two legs, with jeans on, with attitudes, habits and gazes that I think about endlessly. I ache for those things.

Some stuff I make happens between me and you, reading on Laundry Line Divine. What gets made might be space and time to consider where your next soulful wandering will take you, what you might be doing with say, a single hour of your day today that is labeled “just for me time.”

All of it issues from my hands, my heart and my soul.

Some of it you can buy, like my Powder Keg Painted Prompt Cards.

I have been painting sheets of these. In my usual Virgo, calculating widget-y way, I figure I have painted about 1500 spaces, which hold words or phrases. Some of you use them as writing prompts. My friend Suzanne uses them as dinner table conversation starters.

In a few weeks this website will emerge from a chrysalis transformed. There will be a new tagline and lots of my visual work will be more evident. My friends Tina and Lynnette have taken a bunch of photographs so you can get a better sense of the work I do. There will be a new offering, something some of you have asked me about for awhile. I will be announcing a new Powder Keg Sessions writing workshop ONLINE. Yup. If someone wants to purchase a special writing something for you for the holidays, send him or her my way on the Solstice. The online workshop will be a month-long class that meets one evening a week. More on all of this on the Solstice, December 21.

But til then, in this luscious dark season where we get pulled and pulled and pulled, let yourself get dark. Take time outside, in the waning light of late afternoon to walk slowly and let yourself ponder. Sift inside for the seeds that you are harvesting from all you have done this past year. Savor all you have accomplished. Yes, even all those doctor visits with your daughter, the second and fifth opinions. Yes, those hours you sat in the hallway, outside the MRI room where your kid was being tested. Yes, even then, holding your mother’s hands, just so quietly. Just so quietly.

from my journal this morning...having my way with black gesso.
from my journal this morning…having my way with black gesso.


All of it, the care giving and the making, all that we touch in the ways that we touch it, strong, feminine, blessed hands doing as a way of giving care, making as a way of extending our touch.


It is all you. It has value. You, my dearest, have value.


Have a sweet weekend.

I may be back here in the morning with a Quest2016 post.

Until then, painting with black and touching persimmons.


Dare To Excel: The Wily What-ifs


As a mother, you wake up with what-ifs in the middle of the night when the kid with the cold is suddenly sleeping quietly after hours of coughing and wheezing. You wake up from a surprising sleep you didn’t expect to get, and the what-ifs are sitting on your chest. You get up and stand over that child, watching her breathe, holding your own breath so that nothing, not even the soft purr of your relief, would disturb her rest. What-ifs are the thoughts that inch you towards answers that are founded in your instinct, where your soul sends messages in the form of questions.

What-ifs sound the alarm of potential change. What-ifs are where innovation and dreams meet. Depending on the setting they can be equally exhilarating as terrifying. It depends on where you are standing. They are what edge you off the cliff and into the gleaming waters of Superior, feet first, slicing in to water so cold that it takes no effort to clamber up the rocks to do it again.


People found businesses that begin with the question, “What if…?” During July, I continue with my pack at Tracking Wonder with #Quest2015 and consider what dares me to excel. This inquiry dovetails with the question that Lisa Sonora posed to me last weekend in her Creative Entrepreneur workshop when I wallowed in my feeling of being too much, too many diverse offerings, doing too many things or not enough…. just general NOT ENOUGHNESS which is a place I have dwelled for years upon years…. Lisa looked at me, paused, as she does, and said, “What if you got even bigger? Gigantic? What would happen if you got enormous?”

My immediate response was to laugh and cry at the same time. I did not expect to feel myself expand with a question like this, as if my presence just popped out a few inches from my body and I was, suddenly, without effort, bigger and okay with this new ground. Then today, Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder posed this question to the band of business artists who are working with his free offering, Dare To Excel: “What is my burning question of possibility?”

I can string together a whole lot of questions, but if I strip myself down to the inner layers of my personal and professional quest here on Laundry Line Divine I come to this:

What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first?

(I am not quite comfortable with the “First” part, but I think it is necessary. See that it is not in the collage I made? First feels selfish. More on that in a bit.)

Dare to excel collage by Suzi Banks Baum

I wove Lisa and Jeffrey’s questions together and realized something true. What if I unmasked my creative fertility first? I would have to release my fear of being too much and dare to be enormous, gigantic, an AMAZON of creative practice. The first time I encountered the word “Amazon” in reference to a woman, was in Wisconsin, at my Aunt Johanna and Uncle Bill’s home. I am eleven maybe. I cannot recall the conversation, but some comment was made about my size and Aunt Johanna said something about “we Amazons.” All I recall is the flush of secret pride at being linked to elegant her. What if I let myself be an Amazon of Creative Practice?

So often in my workshops I hear women say that they feel taking time for their writing or artwork or to go slowly and rest is indulgent and selfish. There are days when I feel the same way. I hide out in a certain way, at home and alone, so that the expectations I hold of the world’s judgment on my relative productivity and contribution to the betterment of the planet go unheard. If you really saw me, back here on my porch in my pajamas, painting and writing, making messy collages and beautiful books, would you think I am worthy of this time? Am I doing anything of value? Does what I do matter? Is this art? Who cares what a mother has to say? I wrestle these questions to the ground every single day. Sometimes, I wrestle them in the person of one of my kids or my friends who don’t quite get what I am up to. There are many people who wonder if anything I am doing is really contributing to the welfare of my family and my world. They see me as a woman supported by her husband so she can natter around with paints now that her kids don’t need a ride to soccer and they know how to cook their own eggs.

Need I go on with all of those damning, silencing questions? I know you are all too familiar with them and have your own roster of self-limiting beliefs that shutter your own creative response to being a woman.

That is why I stand for you in this question: What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first? I know that I cannot lead another where I have not myself gone. All teaching I do would be hollow and useless, if I did not know the smell of those wolves at the door, baying about my behavior and what the hungry world needs from me, now, right now.

I know that a woman’s creativity remembers her to her soul.
I know that when I start there, amazing transformations happen-within my family life, within my expressive life, within my community life.

Lisa’s writing prompt today for her 30-Day Journal project flowed from this:

“When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

My creative practices make me very happy. Creating signature experiences for women to discover their own creative practice is what I do. I teach, I write, I respond to my own experience as a woman and mother. What I do, you see here on Laundry Line Divine. What I you can partake in at Mapping Motherhood at the International Women’s Writing Guild in July. What I do, you can do with me at Slow Time Salon on Superior in Big Bay, Michigan on August 16 or in Escanaba, Michigan on August 20. What I do and have done within my family life, creative, domestic and wild, you will read in my upcoming book, Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers.

All of this requires bravery. That is why I answer my longing for community by creating it, participating in it, forging collaborations and connections in real time and online to remind me that I am not alone.


Running right past selfish collage by Suzi Banks Baum

Living in to this question, “What if I fully unmask my creative fertility first?” requires me to run right past selfish and in to the river of joy that is here at my feet. What happens next, you will be among the first to know.


Kids feet leaping at Canyon Falls, MI August 2012

So glad it’s summer,


Okay. I am leaping. Here is my first audio blog post. Let me read to you here. You can upload this to your iThingy and take me in the car with you.


You can sign up for Lisa Sonora’s 30 Day Journal project here.
You can register for Jeffrey Davis’ Dare to Excel Quest here.

Here are some other #DareToExcel posts by my mates.

Vanessa Herald

Brenna Layne

Lauren Ayer

The day after Mother’s Day

Lydia's tulip
I am still really obsessed with my #EasyMacro lens…and every blooming thing. This is my friend Lydia’s tulip.

I know the hoopla around Mother’s Day is hard for some people.
For all the millions of reasons that any relationship
gets complicated, Mother’s Day can exacerbate strong feelings.

I have had a perfectly decent Mother’s Day. I heard first from my daughter’s friend, who I love
as another daughter. Then my son. Then later, my girl.
I had a hard time not waiting to hear from them, even though
I TRY my best to not have expectations like that.

So, I went to yoga and then turned my compost pile.
It seemed the best response on a day when many people are wearing corsages and being given cards and boxes of candy. I was happy with my compost.

Then a dinner with our boy. I like a in-person event.

My Mom used to say, “It’s a Hallmark holiday. Every day is Mother’s Day. Go thank a mother.”
Here she is handling a snake in Florida.
I never heard the story of this moment in her long life, but I sure wish I could.
I have been looking at this photo for a few months, thinking she was holding a scythe or some other tool. It wasn’t until I scanned and enlarged the photo did I see the SNAKE!

Joann Ruth Schauer in Florida with a snake
Joann Ruth Schauer in Florida with a snake

Sometimes stories take a closer look.
Don’t you think?

Happy Monday.
Call it what you will.
A piece of mine was published over at The Mid.
It’s about my Mom.
Let me know your thoughts.

Mother, may I?

Magnolia 3

There is such sweet permission in springtime.

Spring has me standing under towering Horse Chestnut trees to watch the sunlight filter through brand new leaves that weren’t leaves just yesterday. I crane my
neck under the Copper Beech so I can see the new reddish leaves, nearly copper, as they strain the morning sunlight to a golden shade, where just yesterday, there was only sunlight unabated.

Spring has me stopped in my tracks.



This is what I am listening to.


And this is what I see, standing open mouthed under a magnolia petaled by firm, weighted pink blooms. I wonder if I bite in to them, the perfume would soak my tongue. I don’t because they are so very perfect. The heavy petals hit my head falling towards newly green grass.

A reverie.

And my son is home. For a full day. He helped me sort out converting the recording to the proper file for Sound Cloud. He is very helpful. And he asked if I would make recordings of his favorite books on Sound Cloud. I have to sort out permissions on that idea, but some of his favorite books are very old books.

Oh there goes a shiny object taking my attention away from this very blog post. Chart my lost minutes as I follow a rabbit down a hole…ARGHHHHH!!!!

How about you?
What are you looking at, mouth agape?

There is news to share here.

Terri Bocklund’s guest blog post on Out of the Mouths of Babes is up today. If you are in the area of Columbia, Maryland, you can hear Terri perform Songs for Mothers and Lovers of Mothers (and others)  at Mad City Cofffee Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 7pm. Terri joined the Giving Motherhood a Voice book tour in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer.

Terri has responded to the prompt, The Village: Who else is here while you mother? I am still enjoying the submissions I have received to this call. I will feature them on Laundry Line Divine until I run out. Then, I will be brewing on the theme for 2016.

What aspect of a woman’s life inside motherhood perplexes you? What would you like to investigate in your life? What investigation is calling you? The diverse responses to this theme tug at my heart, challenge my mind and open my eyes to a wide array of influences that women encounter as they mother. I wish you could have been at the live Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others in March. The stories read aloud were fierce and so very full of a vivacity…like those magnolia petals, so dense, so rich, so completely beautiful.

(And now I understand my son’s longing to hear a story voiced)

As you know, I am caught and stung by motherhood, perfumed and poisoned in a certain way, never the same, every day, never the same, changed by it, by the conversations around it, by what I see of myself and others as I mother, what comes true one day that seemed so impossible the day or even hour before.

There are many ways to care for our own lives, as women, as daughters, sisters and mothers.

One of those ways is to give our selves permission to live our fullest lives. I felt for so many years that there was some external permission necessary to be my full self. I kept waiting for my turn to speak. Every single day I engage in a practice of giving myself permission. If you are intrigued by this, consider joining me for an intimate evening at Lifeworks Studio on May 17 at 6:30 PM. More about that here.

And til then, consider what has you perfumed and poisoned?
Where might a dose of permission give you some space to breathe and then take in where you are?

Could permission give you some space to consider where you are headed?

I am curious.
And very intrigued by shiny objects.


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