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Drop and Give Me Ten. Gratitudes.

2013-11-22 10.17.44

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, from The Miracle of Mindfulness

It is a cold damp day here in the Berkshires.
I know many of you are struggling with the low temperatures across the nation today. I send you all my warm thoughts and prayers for comfort.

I am in bed. Working, but in bed.
It is just one of those days when I can.
And so. For now, jammies are the outfit and tea is the food.
I came across this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, which exemplifies Laundry Line Divine where I write

about seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life.

It is not so easy, always, to find the gratitude from inside whatever is binding you, whether it is harsh weather, climate change, self-judgment, failed dreams, peevish children, difficulties in relationships.

 

Housatonic River by Suzi Banks Baum

But there is something to finding your way to gratitude from within those boundaries. So often, I think I have to wait until I am free of them, the problems solved, the weather bonny, the bank account restored, the meal made, the skirmish quelled, the leader mourned…once I am free of them, then I can find gratitude.

But what makes the dance holy, is finding gratitude from within the strapped places in your life.

Like Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, we are engaged in one big fat miracle by being alive and that, my dears, can be your first gratitude.

I am grateful I am alive.

Here are ten gratitudes of mine today.
Leave me your ten in the comments.

I am grateful to be alive and well and living in the Berkshires.
I am grateful for places of beauty, like this one, created by my friend Barbara.

 

 

Campo Bust

I am grateful for Advent, the time of going within and making art and writing during the season when I usually torture myself about gifts and baking and preparations.
I am grateful for my friend Melanie and her daily art posting during Advent.
I am grateful for my friend Mandy Steward and her invitation to venture in to the dark regions of my soul.
I am grateful for living here, with my husband, making it up as we go, parenting, working, living in a community.
I am grateful to be free of the molds of expected behavior when it comes to how I am supposed to live. Somehow, I stepped out of that a long time ago.
I am grateful for poetry, today, Christopher Wiman and his poem, I Said To My Soul, Be Loud.
I am grateful for these girls singing my favorite song, with such incredible style and grace.

I am grateful for finding the website On Being today. Fueled. Thank you.
I am grateful for art making and my friendship with Karen Arp-Sandel and all the fun we create, daily for each other with FeMail.

2013-11-18 13.31.49

I am grateful for my journals and pens and the trees and ink and the water and energy that made them.
I am grateful for my healthy kids.
I am grateful for heating oil and the deep thunging sound of the tank full.
I am grateful for getting to do yoga with amazing people and a studio where kids can be there, with teachers who are welcoming and grace-filled.
I am grateful for all the ways I get to be in the community, with my writing workshops, with Rampant Sisterhood, with the upcoming workshop I am leading, with the book tour I am planning for August 2014, with my March 1 event coming up, I am so grateful that I have work to do and some of it, I can do from bed.
I am grateful for my Mom. I miss her so much these days.
I am grateful for getting to write for other websites, like Berkshire Family Focus.
I am grateful for all the friendships I have that were bonded through the internet, Joy Rose of the Museum of Motherhood, Tania Pryputniewicz of Mother, Writer, Mentor and Pippa and Penny Best of
The Story of Mum.

Pippa Penny Joy

I am grateful for my friends who carry gratitude at the heart of their work, Jill Rogers of The Seven Sacred Steps, Regena Thomashauer of The School of the Womanly Arts, and Tara Dixon of The Gratitude House. It is true what has been said by Meister Eckhart and my Mom,

“If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”

I am grateful to believe, every day, like Thich Naht Hahn says, that there are miracles every single day, in our ordinary lives, all around us, and noticing them recalls the days to gifts because being alive and awake is a gift. As Ziggy used to say in the cartoon I had taped in to mirror

“Today is a gift, that’s why they call it The Present”.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-AaGWDqUK5Ek/TnfsdX3yTRI/AAAAAAAABO8/wR09V7sS9NM/s400/ziggy%2B%2525281%252529.gif

 

 

Okay. That is 20.

So when you are hankering for someone, like your grumpy teen-ager to say thank you, prime the pump with your own gratitude. Write thank you notes on paper that you put in the mail. Yes. Email is okay, but paper rocks the soup. Model everything you want for your self. Give it to others.

Thank you for reading me here.
For enduring my jammies and this bad hair day.
I look forward to hearing your ten.

 

Love,

S

 

PS Yes, I am getting out of bed now.

I am Queen of my Own Heart in Naples, Florida today

Good Morning #florida. XoS #light

Good Morning from Naples, Florida

Love For Certain Work

Traveling is as refreshing for some
as staying at home is for others.

Solitude in a mountain place
fills with companionship for this one,
and weariness for that one.

This person loves being in charge
of the workings of a community.

This other one loves the ways
heated iron can be shaped with a hammer.

Each has been given a strong desire
for certain work, a love for those motions,
and all motion is love.

The way sticks and pieces of dead grass and leaves
shift about in the wind
and with the directions of rain and puddle-water
on the ground, those motions
are all following the love
they have been given.

I am here in southern Florida where the days start at 80 degrees. I am assisting my friend Jill Rogers in running her workshop about The Seven Sacred Steps. I am completely immersed in looking at how I love and learning to take steps towards extraordinary loving and also in her salt water pool at the early and end of each day.

Evening #Buddha in #florida. G'night! XoS

This little post is simply a love note to you readers of Laundry Line Divine. Here are four views of the Buddha that sits across from me as I do my Keystone Practices and my pal Lydia paddles around the pool in our new pink goggles.

I hope today finds you discovering something marvelous that is right in front of you.

#goodmorning #buddha and boat. Sweet #saturday. XoS

All my love to you today.
I will be back to my regular posting- this week Alana Chernila has a post on Out and I still want to tell you about our evening with Taylor Mali in Great Barrington.

#goodmorning #buddha with Mama Kitty. XoS

Til then,
S

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.
You will get a small email when I hang something new on the Line.
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

Jill Rogers: We did not get here by ourselves.

Honeysuckle vine from Mary Donnell. #greatbarringtonma #photoadaymay #laundrylinedivine #pinkflowers #nofilter #instagood Happy Sunday

Honor a tradition with your family or friends. Choose one tradition to bring into this weekend that helps you remember you are not alone and that you did not get here by yourself.

I got this suggestion from my sweet friend Jill Rogers, creator of The Seven Sacred Steps. Jill teaches about extraordinary loving. Here is a link to her newsletter.
This idea sprouted in to my day with me, my kids and husband doing an activity, for fifteen minutes, that caused us all to pause and give gratitude.
And the USPS has some thank you notes to mail on Tuesday.

I am here to model what I want to see in my kids.

So, thank you dear readers of Laundry Line Divine.
I appreciate the time you spend with me and our guest bloggers here.
I am grateful for your interest in seeing and celebrating the sacred in daily life.
I desire more of this sweet living, aware and expressive of the many gifts that have gotten me here.

Happy Sunday.
Love,
S

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