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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

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