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Guest blogger today! I am so very pleased, dear reader, to introduce you to one of my favorite people in the whole world, Suzi Banks Baum. Suzi is a fantastic collage artist and half of the Femail  duo, and blogs up a hella good storm over at Laundry Line Divine, She is also the driving force behind the great new book, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice – which just had its Amazon release. Read on here to find out the backstory to the anthology.

What Was I Thinking?

by Suzi Banks Baum

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy
and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.
To put our art, our writing, our photographs, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation-that’s also vulnerability.”
—Brené Brown Daring Greatly

Vulnerable is exactly how I felt when I invited 35 women to jump into the freezing cold waters of public opinion and share themselves and their perspectives on living lives pumped full with creativity in Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. At that point I knew wanted to put my words and images out in to the world, but publishing a book? Being that public terrified me. So, I figured I’d rather have some co-conspirators.

Years before, I had started writing my own stories about how I spent my days as a mother, what caught my attention internally, and how I righted the boat of my serenity over and over again with small creative acts. I wrote never thinking anyone but a few close friends would read these stories. I was just writing. But in April 2009, I dared to title the writing Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. At a writing conference, I spoke to a literary agent about the work, wondering if there was interest in the world beyond my sphere for a book about how I raised myself as I raised my children. (Please note elevator pitch in the last sentence. “Can I describe my book in 10 words or less?”)

Standing before a literary agent is much like any other moment in life when you are Dorothy at the feet of the Wizard. “Is there anything in your bag for me?” “Could there be another human aside from my best friends who might be interested in my writing?” Standing there, knees clattering (and go ahead, tell me I was supposed to own my brilliance, stand for all mothers, flirt with the agent, shine shine shine), palms slick with sweat, lips dry, eyes blurring, I learned I was to go home and build my author platform. “Come back when you’ve built that,” said the agent.

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Ok, so! Let me tell you what I was super secret squirrel about last week – I made a Thing!

Here’s the scoop – over the last year, Dearest Will & I have been doing yoga together, and both of us have been interested in learning to meditate. It’s been nice that the gentle yoga practice that we do together* has some guided meditation at the end, but we’ve both wanted something more. We tried a yoga nidra cd. We tried some chanting stuff with Deva Primal.** A little flirting with it, right?

And then enter the panic attacks.*** Poor Dearest Will started having them at the end of last year, and has been working with a therapist around that stuff, to some really great success.  A couple months ago, she suggested to him that he should try meditation. Osm, right? She sent him home with some YouTube links, and a mission.

After some browsing the YouTube clips, hilarity ensued, as well as some aggravation on my part – why, for the love of Pete, do meditations always take place on the freaking beach? I find the beach to be one of the most stressful places I can possibly imagine – the heat, the garbage strewn all over the place, the reek of suntan lotion and stale beer, crowds, sand that follows you home and gets into everything you own. Lawdamercy, why??

So I ranted, Will giggled at me ranting, we discussed at length guided meditation clips and what we would both actually want from one. Being a skittery animal  myself,  I held that any good guided meditation should start with, Shh – it’s alright now.

So, in secret, I set to work. I wrote a script. I edited it. I read it out loud to myself and scrapped it. I started again. And again. And a third time, until I got it close to where I wanted it.

Then I emailed my friend Steve. This guy changed my life in 1990, when he handed me a cassette tape with Surfer Rosa  on one side, and Goo on the other side – omogod, blissful noise! Seriously, I had No. Idea.† Anyway – Steve’s still making Good Noise these days, and with that in mind, I asked him if he could do 8 minutes of ambient music suitable for meditation.††

Steve sent me the track he came up with, pointed me in the direction of good (and free to evaluate) mixing software, complete with notes on how to cut and paste pieces and fix volume, and I got the hell on it.

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Omg, I did that thing again where I forgot that I had a blog for, like, a month and change. True story: life here has been all over the map.

For starters, I’m still looking for a job – either a second job or a job with more hours – while working part time at a place that’s only going to be around until the end of the year,* and it’s a bit exhausting.** I’m doing some freelance page layout, and still working on selling my art, which totally is helping make the ends come together, but I would really like a bit more security. That aside, household finances are still afloat, even if there’s been some belt-tightening and credit card using involved. Also, I’ve been dealing with an AS flare-up for the last few weeks, which is also exhausting, but finally starting to ease, thank goodness.***

On the lighter side of things, my head has been better than it has been in months. It turns out that not constantly worrying about people being crappy to me at work is pretty osm. Who knew, right? While not being stressed out about that, I’ve managed to get some pretty cool stuff in progress –

Like the  zillion little seedlings in my sun room! The garden is ready to go, and Dearest Will and Our Man Cub were kind enough to rake out the yards and ready them up over the weekend. And on Saturday I went with  Man Cub to the DPW and we filled the cat litter buckets (we’d saved up since autumn) with compost – last year the tomatoes didn’t really get enough sun, and so didn’t ripen well; this year we’re planting them in buckets so we can move them around and find the best spot for them. We thought we would plant this weekend, but it’s still sorta chilly here and there’s a chance of flurries predicted for Tuesday (whut). So we have cucumbers, peas, peppers, squash, melon, and greens in the window, all ready to go into the ground this coming weekend.† And beets! And carrots!

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Squeeee! It’s here! It’s here! What an honor an privilege it’s been to hear about this book that the divine Ms. Suzi Banks Baum has been compiling over the last year! And what an honor to be included in the anthology!* It’s a bitchin’ compilation of women’s voices, put together to benefit two important organizations that provide vital services to women in Berkshire County, Massachusetts:  The Community Health Programs (CHP) and Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires (VIM Berkshires), which provide free and low-cost medical care and services to women in need. Right? Right!

And how stoked am I to be going to the release party tomorrow night?! On Friday the Berkshire Featival of Women Writers kicks off with Laundry Line Divine presents: Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others. Hosted by Suzi Banks Baum and featuring readings by Suzi, Alana Chernila, Nichole Dupont, Janet Reich Elsbach, Michelle Gillett, and Jenny Laird, and celebrating the book launch of An Anthology of Babes: 35 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. It’s at Dewey Hall, in Sheffield, MA from 7–9: 30 p.m.$5 suggested donation. Returning this year after a standing-room-only premiere at last year’s Festival, Out of the Mouths of Babes offers readings from six Berkshire women authors, ranging from a young single mother to a mother of adult children. Come to the event to be entertained, challenged, echoed, and encouraged. Favorite bedtime snacks will be served at intermission, and following the readings, the audience is invited to participate in a discussion of motherhood and creativity led by Suzi Banks Baum.

Please come out and play – it was packed to the gills last year when the event was at Simon’s Rock, and this year promises to be a Big Deal too. If you can’t make it out, and would like a copy of the book to hold in your hands, you can always order a copy at http://www.anthologyofbabes.com. Hope to see you there!

*Re-entry

Scattered – I’ve been truly scattered this last two weeks. Some of it is that Jack’s passing, and the anniversaries of other friends who have passed has me distracted (and, sister, I am distracted), but that’s just part of it. It isn’t that things aren’t happening, or that there’s been too much happening, even; I’ve just been having a tough time of organizing what it all is. Welcome to my January – I’m pretty sure that January and February are like this every year, to be completely honest.

So! Random thoughts, no particular order:

1. Chard-
Where have you been all my life? How could I have not known about you until I’m properly in my forties? Holy carp, chard! I want to eat you and eat you and eat you. I want to eat you with rice and tuna, I want to eat you in soup. I want to eat you gently wilted with garlic and olive oil. I want to chop up your delightful rainbow-colored stems and put them into my salad. Oh, chard, I adore you!

So we had soup  last night. Lentil soup with sausage, chard and garlic, to be precise (Oh, Smitten Kitchen,  I adore you!) and it called for this new vegetable. It’s not often I run into a vegetable that I haven’t tried at some point, so I was a wee bit excited in the produce aisle, I’ll admit. I set up the soup and ribboned up the chard to be ready for the last few minutes of cooking, and then while stirring said soup, decided to sample the chard and see what’s up. I called Dearest Will in to join me and my puzzled expression. He took a taste and promptly brought his own puzzled expression to the party. We couldn’t figure this stuff out – there are flavors of bok choy, beets, and citrus in there, alongside a slight astringency reminiscent of spinach, and a delightful crunch. Love. I went back for seconds on the soup because the soup was delicious, and the chard made that happen. So, um, chard may be my new favorite vegetable.

2. Meditation-
I’m trying.* Clearly, I am a slow learner. At least I’ve set up a nice space to focus.**

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The Universe stood still for a moment for me so I could lay down on the tarmac and catch her picture. I am honored.

I don’t do a lot of subscribing to much of anything, really – I hate clutter, and find it  especially crazy-making in my email.* I read most things right on their own pages – for example, I read Animals Talking In All CapsLaundry Line Divine, and Shakesville, among others pretty much daily. I read my webcomix like a hungry lady (zomg, Sinfest, how I missed you! Oh, Chloe & Bink, I just want to have you level my priest snuggle you!), and check the pages for updates on their appointed days. As an attempt at tidy, I just don’t have a whole lot arrive my email to tell me something’s new.

But then there is TUT. I receive Notes From The Universe in my email every morning, and I love them so much that I started a whole folder for them, so as to always be able to refer back to them. I look forward to them every morning, and tend to reflect back on them in random moments.

Here’s what showed up today:

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Good morning, rainy Wednesday! I overslept and so some projects are going to wait for me, but that’s fine for today; I’ll get into them in a bit. But I wanted to pop by and tell you about a neat thing.

Do you know about Suzi Banks Baum’s Laundry Line Divine? She’s been in the blogroll over on the left for a little while now, because I just adore reading her. The blog is split into a bunch of rad pages, the main one being her musings on creativity and daily living and motherhood, accompanied by her fantastic photographs  and collage illustrations. It’s some of the most authentic and delicious stuff I read on a regular basis – the kind of work that makes one’s soul pleased to walk the earth, knowing there are kindred upon the same ground.

And Suzi does something else with her blog, as well – she brings together women who are blogging, printing them up in a collection called Out of the Mouths of Babes*. If you scroll down a little bit on her page and peek in the middle column, you’ll find links to pages that she’s collected of posts from these osm writers about everything from radio to food to inspiration, hung them all out in a line like laundry, and hence the name of her blog.  It’s a very very cool thing.

And I am filled with gratitude this rainy Wednesday to announce that I have been honored with a spot in the line, a repost of a blog entry that I did after coming home from a retreat at Kripalu with Karen Arp-Sandel in the springtime. You can see it here. Better yet, grab some delicious context by starting here with the post from Suzi that jumps to mine at the end.

May your day find a little sugar spilled on it today =)

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todays

May 2017
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