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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Team Work makes the Dream Work

Charan Anand and Berthe Provencher at Griffon Golf club supper
I am still in rest mode after helping organize two great events last week. One lesson learned, you can't do it all by yourself. Good team work, great friends who support you, special hearts who inspire you, partners who shoulder the weight, it all comes together to make any event a success.

Friends and supporters cheered us on
Here's what we did last week: prepared and hosted the 34th International Benefit Golf tournament (www.montreal.benefitgolf.net) to support The Prem Rawat Foundation (programs like Food for People, clean water, peace education program and humanitarian aid in crisis situations) and 60 Million Girls (education for girls in developing countries). My husband Jacques and I were the principal coordinators, but we had an excellent team working with us. We attracted 13 foursomes and 88 people for supper at a private golf course near Lachute, Quebec, had some fun and raised some funds.  Jacques and I are also in the band Friends of Peace, who performed that evening, and we both played 18 rounds of golf. (I don't think that is a winning combination, way too much for one day!)
Charan Anand, Jacques, Francois Nolin
A few days before that, we lent out our garage as cooking facility (with rented burners and pots) for a team of about ten people to prepare an Indian feast for 80 people, with master golfer and chef Charan Anand (81 years old and still travelling the world).  Two days of chopping, peeling, boiling, stirring and learning how to make coriander chutney with bright green jalapeno chilies! Wow! Our good friend Brian bought us two huge stir paddles, so we could wade through the potato-cauliflower subji. We had a lotta fun, and my kids pitched in to help stuff eggplants and transport 12 pans and two pots of food to Lachine's Veille Brasserie.

Evelyne and Sobhana at the burners

Evelyne and Charan Anand stir the subji
Once there, the crowd was served a scrumptious lentil soup with sour cream (semi-Italian/Indian recipe, speciality of Charan Anand), potato-cauliflower subji, rice, stuffed eggplants (Sobhie's speciality), with mango pulp and ice-cream for dessert, all washed down with special spiced tea (chai). Charan Anand sang some songs, spoke for half an hour, and showed a short DVD of the humanitarian efforts of TPRF (www.tprf.org). 



Charan Anand had prepared similar feasts the week before in Toronto, Ottawa, and London, Ontario, raising $3000 to support the Golf Tournament and its charities.

Jean-Guy Labelle and Esmond de Grace

Georges Legere and Ginette Sauve came from New Brunswick

Happy Cook enjoying the meal, Sobhie Vadher

So, as you can see, team work made the week's events a great success! These are just a few shots, an attempt to capture the love and good energy generated. Thanks to all the volunteers who made the dream work.

Musemother/jenn






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Creatrixes and Poetry on the Laundry Line


Interview with Suzi Baum Part 2


Musemother: We believe in promoting rest and creative loafing to coax the muse from out of hiding. What do you do to call the Muse?

I am my own Muse. When I take really good care of myself, my Muse, my creative voice, is rich, fertile and brimming with life. Taking really good care of myself means I am well rested. That I let myself end my day at a decent hour, sip tea and read for a while then fall asleep so I can get 8 hours. I love getting up early and have often fantasized about getting up, like Harriet Beecher Stowe would, and write in the hours when my kids are asleep. I just don’t operate that way. I need sleep.
I love to be outside. I garden. I hang my wash on a cloth rope out in my yard. I get my self outdoors every single day to let nature make her mark on me because that fuels me.
I meditate. I believe to be true what my friend Judith Prest says in her poem “When I am Quiet”:

When I am quiet,
I hold and am held
in holy silence.
Stillness magnifies
my capacity for wonder.

I read poetry. I memorize poems so I can bring them out to suck on like root beer barrels when I need some rapturous sweetness.

I do a daily writing practice, what Julia Cameron calls ‘daily pages’. I did them long before I read “The Artist’s Way” and I still do them. It keeps my writing voice warm and ready to speak.
I clear things with my husband. I take time to nurture this relationship. I am fortunate to have married a man who chooses to work at home in our attic. This means we have a pocket of time together after the kids have gone to school when we can talk over our thoughts, plans for the day, concerns, dreams or whatever is on our minds before we enter our work days. I am fortunate in many other ways to have married Jonathan, but this simple fact makes the space for us to support and love each other in very current fresh ways.
I doodle. I make small collages in my collage-a-day books. I make mail art and for over five years have collaborated making mail art with my art partner Karen Arp-Sandel. This is another long chapter about my creative life which I can tell you another time, but, no matter where I am in the world, I can always make a piece of mail art that captures where I am and mail it off to her. This collaboration keeps my Muse very very happy.

I have fun. I have a group of women I meet with every month of the full Moon. We have been gathering monthly for over 13 years. Through very thick and very thin, we maintain our connections by meeting, eating, sitting around fires, and always having fun.

Lastly, I say yes to life. When an opportunity to do something I know will be a huge honking time suck and sap me of my energy, I say yes to me by saying no to them. When someone asks me to write a guest blog about a topic that I love to delve in to, I say yes. When my son asks me to snuggle him in the morning, when I could be in the kitchen stirring the oatmeal, I say yes to him because as that big 17 year old head wedges under my ribcage to burrow in to my belly for a few minutes before he engages in his busy, SAT, college prep peppered day, I know that I am and always will be certain love for him. The creation of my son opened for me this whole way of being. I will nurture our connection till the day I die. Saying yes to opportunities that bring me pleasure, that nourish and sustain me, that thrill me and excite me, that stretch me, teach me, dazzle me, shake loose my barnacled thinking- these all make my Muse happy to be in residence.

Musemother: Is there a different kind of art/poetry being made by women and mothers?  What is that difference?

Do you mean feminist art? Or art by women? Isn’t all art made by women, feminist art? If you look at how women have been silenced and are still kept from many public displays of art, the very fact that any woman would pick up her pen and tell her story- isn’t the voice of a woman unique simply by it’s rarity?
There are many many men who are awake to the splendor of the creations of women. But, our culture, here in the sunny land of North America, where we are all free and endorsed to speak our minds, our culture is only beginning to value the work of women. Art by women is different. Our experience of aliveness is different from a man’s. Thank God! Oh how boring life would be without the balancing affect of men’s voices. Doesn’t your ear yearn for the bass line? And, don’t you yearn to see in the hallowed galleries of our nations art institutions, art made by women? This is a big topic. I recommend Pamela Tanner Boll’s documentary “Who Does She Think She Is?” as a discussion tool for groups of women willing to discuss this thorny, painful aspect of being a female artist today.

I do keep this in perspective by remembering always the women in the world who have no voice. I know there are women who have to walk miles upon miles to mail a poem secretly so they will not be found to be expressing themselves publicly. I do know I am fortunate to live where and when I live today. And, being me, I want more. I want to be valued as an expert in my field. I want to know that my expressions are equally important to the world, as are those of a person who choose another path.
We talk in writing about finding our Voice. When did you find yours? Or is it an on-going process?
I think I have spoken to this already.

But, way back when? I found my voice by journaling. And by steady dedicated practice of skills that increased the likelihood of me having a voice- like taking an art class, or a singing lesson or a poetry workshop. All the work I have done to untangle the messy places in my self have helped me find my Voice. It is hard to access your Voice when you are colored by historic anger or pain. These experiences fuel your Voice, but they must not be what compel you to speak. We speak our stories because we know them to be true. We share our anger and our joy. But, to have inner lives clouded by unfinished emotional business will trip you up until you deal with it.

Musemother: What has the collaboration with the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers brought you?  

My collaboration with BFWW has woven me in closely with Dr. Jenny Browdy de Hernandez and her committee of intelligent and inspired women who create the Festival at Simon’s Rock College of Bard here in Great Barrington, MA. The Festival gave me a venue and publicity to mount my first production of ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’. It has helped me step on to center stage with the discussion of mothering and creativity. The feedback and community I have found as a result of sharing this work in the world urges me to press on, with my passion blazing. Also, the Festival has exposed me to so many local women like author Alison Larkin and women out in the world, like Sister Fa who are passionately engaged in developing their work through engaging with others. The sense of community here in the Berkshires has increased exponentially as a result of BFWW. I am filled with gratitude.

Musemother: Risk of burnout seems higher for mothers who want to have a creative life. How do you avoid burning the candle at both ends? In other words, how do you make time for your creative life without staying up until 2 a.m. to get the laundry done.

I don’t get to do all I want every day. I have to get enough sleep; otherwise I am useless to my self, to my family and to my work. I keep good lists. I keep track of thoughts and inspirations; I have a tiny journal in my purse all the time so I don’t miss a thought. I just don’t work well exhausted. And I let things go. I don’t fold every sock, every day. There is a guest bed full of neatly piled by person laundry right now. Would I rather be folding that than writing to you? Uhuh. That wash can wait.

Musemother: The value we put on art and mothering in society may make us feel marginal, as if we can only practice “part time” at any kind of “real work”. What do you say to that? Ie poetry doesn’t make money per se, and is not seen as producing anything towards a GNP.

For this reason alone, I live to create. I want my daughter to grow up with a mother who had faith enough for many to stand in my authority as a woman of Value. When I attach to every email, have written on my business cards, sign any form anywhere with the words “Suzi Banks Baum Author, Artist, Blogger and Full Time Mom” I own with pride and joy the blessing it is to be me today.

Whether or not I get paid for this? What can I do? Who will pay me to make lunches and wash clothes and mend breaks? The world does not give me a check. And my artwork does pay me by making me incredibly happy and by leading me towards ways that one day will pay me something.

If I was not supported by my husband, if it was only me, here wiping and scrubbing and bussing and holding down a full time job to make it all possible, I would be writing a very different thing here. But having made the choice to be a full time parent with a working partner and to explore the regions of my soul made clear by mothering and creativity, I create a currency of joy. I humbly offer these words as comfort and inspiration. May they warm you when those singleton socks don’t have matches and lines of poetry keep you awake till you get them down on paper. I say yes. Someday, I hope the world nods back.

Musemother: Please talk about the joy of being in creative flow, that energy that feeds the soul.

SB:
Hmmm.
Limitless.
Connective.
Curious.
Intelligent.
Naturally wonderful.

You can sit me down with a ball of yarn and pattern and keep me very happy for a long time.
You can give me an empty scrap of paper and I will doodle myself to a new place.
You can take me for a walk under blooming lilacs and I will fashion you a story scented by this heady perfume of spring.
I know no other joy more saturated with bliss, where problems reveal solutions that take me to new levels of understanding that I never anticipated grasping, where I feel connected to a lineage of women going back to the beginning of time where Eve needed a little something to protect Cain or Abel from the direct sun on his little noggin so she took a palm leaf and folded it in to a little hat, thus creating the first hat. Eve- the first milliner. Eve- the first couturier. Eve- the first sculptor. Eve….all about Eve and a woman in need of a solution applying her copious inspiration with the materials she had at hand to satisfy, protect and sustain her children. I never considered this till right now, but it makes sense to me. I am part of a lineage of creatrixes, called the lineage of women.

Ó Suzi Banks Baum  May 2, 2012

Suzi Banks Baum’s favorite roles in her 53-year career as a woman have been mother and rat.  She took up the former 17 years ago, upon the birth of her son, and the latter in 1965 at Potawatomie Park in Chicago, in the after-school theatre program.  Suzi actively blogs at laundrylinedivine.com where she writes about seeing and celebrating the sacred in everyday life. Her upcoming book, “Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers” recounts the wild tale of her adventures raising herself while raising her children. Her standing room only event for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ premiered her work on mothering and creativity. Suzi is an actress, artist, gardener and good friend. Suzi lives with her husband and two teenagers in Great Barrington, MA.

Suzi Banks Baum, Artist, Author, Blogger and Full Time Mom
Favorite Frames of 'Out of the Mouths of Babes' at  www.laundrylinedivine.com
Mothering and Creativity blog series at  www.outofthemouthsofbabes.org
FeMail fun at www.femailart.com
Follow Suzi at: facebook.com/LaundryLineDivine or facebook.com/femailart@laundrylinediv

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Mother's Day Interview with Suzi Banks Baum



Again Ars Poetica
With your ear
to your heart thoughts
listen.

- Janet Cady Hutchinson

This is the second in a series of interviews that Musemother is undertaking with some amazing creative women.  I'm especially proud to post this interview in the week coming up to Mother's Day, because I think women artists who are mothers have a different set of challenges, and need the encouragement and help of other artists even more. Enjoy meeting Suzi Banks Baum, Artist, Author, Blogger and Full Time Mom!

Musemother: Tell me how the Laundry Line Divine and Out of the Mouths of Babes projects got started. And what those titles mean also.

SBB: Laundry Line Divine is the title of my blog site and my book, fully named Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers.  All this got started in January of 2007, when three opportunities came my way and I said ‘yes’ to them all. You should know a few things about me, before I tell you this story. One- up until that point, I was a full time Mom for thirteeen years, having happily set aside my theatre career to focus on mothering.  Two- though I had kept a journal from the time I was 14 and written daily, I did not consider myself a writer. I was, at that point, a woman who was a mother who sought, without much conscious intention, to be creative in every way I could, while raising my kids.

On the weekend  in January in which we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Berkshires frigid cold, I began a 6-month-writing course called “Journey Women: Transformation through Writing”.  I showed up for the course not expecting anything other than learning how to deepen my writing practice and maybe make some friends that I’d meet with on Saturdays. Then, on the Sunday of that weekend, I attended my friend Lydia’s graduation from Mama Gena’s School of the Womanly Arts in New York City. All the way in to New York on the Metro North train ride, I wrote, answering a prompt that had been asked in my Saturday writing workshop.  It had to do with looking at projects of mine of no particular sort, just things I had started and maybe finished and to consider the people who had provided me with necessary ingredients.

I had this list in my mind as I attended the raucously elegant graduation of 175 women who had just completed a 4-month course of study in something I had not much appreciation of at the time: Pleasure. What I witnessed that afternoon challenged me to escape the ballroom full of pink feathers, flowing tears on smiling faces and dancing. But, what I witnessed also called me to stay, to see if there was some of that joy for me in the world. I had no idea what I was in for. Both my Journey Women writing course and Mastery with the SWA opened up vistas within and around me that I had never lifted my head to see.

The third opportunity came in the art class I was in the following Friday. My teacher Karen Arp-Sandel, who is also a close friend of mine, passed my studio table as I was carefully cutting up an image of a knitted quilt with which to make a collage. She asked me if I’d consider engaging in a mail art correspondence. Another ‘yes’ from me, and to this day, over five years later, we are deeply caught in conversation about our lives as women, mothers and artists through the United States Postal Service. We call this body of work, the workshops we lead, exhibits, artist talks and merchandise, FeMail.

As I reflect on that period of time in 2007, my writing mentor Jan Lawry and my friends Lydia and Karen each provided me with the jet fuel for a renovation of my life that required no other tools than things I already had at hand. The ingredients that they supplied me with allowed me to enter in to my own garden of my soul- a secret bower that I had been tending without knowing it. It was and is the haven of my own Muse, my creative nest that I mistakenly thought I had abandoned when I left acting for mothering, but in fact, this fertile bed of inspiration had been daily nursed by my inner gardener while my exterior self had embarked on my mothering career–having two healthy children and living through the loss of two pregnancies. 

What I discovered in January 2007 and have been pursuing ever since, is the access point to my own joy, to the timbre and depth of my authentic voice, to the ownership and operation of my creativity in the myriad ways I express myself in this world. Whether I am at the kitchen sink simmering in anger over the actions of my teen ager or snuggling that same lanky kid in my arms, or if I am speaking on stage with the hot Fresnel lights on my cheeks or scribbling frantically to capture my quickly fleeing dream, whether I am sticky with gel medium slicking on a transfer to a mixed media composition or teaching women how to make packing tape transfers, or shaking heavy heads of amaranth letting loose a rain shower of tiny black seeds over the third graders I am gardening with or turning over my compost heap to keep myself from losing my temper with my own tired kids–I have embraced the knowledge that I am a brilliant articulation of the Divine. And, that I am, with proper care and feeding, capable of greatness.

And, I think you are too. There is room in this world for all of us to shine. The world requires it of us.
So, returning to your question, LLD and ‘Out’ emerged as I developed my non-fiction book proposal. When I came to the marketing section of that proposal, I really did not know how to answer the question: “How and where are you out in the world with your work?” Aside from school newsletters, I am an unpublished author. My theatre career has long been on hold and unless you consider reading the lessons in church on Sunday a performance, then, no, I have not been in front of an audience with my work in years.

Well. I have changed that. ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ and the accompanying blog series running at www.outofthemouthsofbabes.org has given me the pleasure of reading my work in public and sharing the stage with other authors I admire who, like me, are mothers. The blog series has widened the geographic reach of this project, involving over 25 authors from across the United States. As my Mom has said about me for years, “Suzi plays well with others”. I have created an event that can be hosted in other cities, with new authors joining me to share writing “from the soul of the mother” and participate in a facilitated discussion of the power of creativity and mothering.

I came to call my first book “Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers” because it was at the laundry line where I realized that this quotidian act could become a communion with my Muse if I invite her. ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes’ came to be because I am interested in mothers as women. I want to take a fresh look at what it is to be a feminine presence today. I loved the double play the title suggests, of stories coming from women who at times think of themselves as babes, who may at times share stories of their own babes, and who are likely to be caught reading to those babes on a nightly basis. I love the playfulness of this title. So much discussion of mothering is about how hard it is. I have room for that in this series, but I encourage women to let their expression begin to make themselves whole. To do as Virginia Wolf says:
“It is only by putting it into words that I make it whole; this wholeness means that it has lost its power 
to hurt me; it gives me, perhaps because by doing so I take away the pain, a great delight to 
put the severed parts together. Perhaps this is the strongest pleasure known to me.”

I am still working on the non-fiction book proposal because I want to build my author platform. I am still a full time Mom who is a blogger, artist, author and actress, but I am all these things to a greater degree because I have found my VOICE by putting the pieces of my life together through writing and making art.

Musemother: What do you believe about the connection between women, creativity and spirituality? i.e. Is there a feminine spirituality?

SBB: Oh my gosh, Jenn. This is a great question. I will try to answer it briefly. It is my fervent belief that creativity remembers a woman to her soul.

Through consciously engaging in her daily life, appreciating the myriad of creative acts every single woman makes every day, simply because women are in every way- creative- this awareness builds the listening muscles so we can each hear what our authentic selves are calling for. By then taking the steps to engage artistically, in small ordinary ways or in bigger ways, women become familiar with their authentic voice and from that point, every decision is made in collaboration with her soul. Happiness becomes familiar ground, Inspiration flows and your ideas percolate, giving you suggestions of other things that will create that kind of joy and good feeling.

The faith practices I have studied all suggest that the collaboration of your inner and outer world is where the Divine manifests in our daily life. When you bring your ideas in to the world through pen or paint or frosting on a cake, you begin to make space for more inspiration. You open the door to possibilities you would never have encountered had you not made the way clear. My Mom used to share this aphorism “Make way and the path opens”. I believe that the appreciation of these ordinary acts of creativity make the way for bigger acts of creativity.

As to a ‘feminine spirituality’- I don’t see how there cannot be. We hold within our bodies the blueprint for the future of our planet. We are ultimately creative. And in this potential to create life, we collaborate with the Divine. However you name the Divine, whether you attribute a gender to this holy presence, it exists for us all here. If you consider the debacle of the Patriarchy over the last 5000 years and the way women have been silenced from speaking their experience of God, it is not surprising that some of us might feel timid to speak of this topic. We might be burned at the stake, as women, very close to where I am sitting right now, were, simply for expressing and carrying out their innate experience of God.

Musemother: Creative women who are mothers may feel like they need a wife or a full-time househusband to take care of the kids before they can get any creative work done. How do you manage the split between mothering and your creative work, ie collage, art, poetry? Note: for me it was sometimes a huge conflict – the desire and need for solitude, to create without distraction and interruption, to get away from the domestic sphere and hear myself think versus the need to be there for my kids at 3:30, shut everything off and forget about my projects until the next day when they were back at school.

SBB: Oh Jennifer, here again, I wish we were closer and in person to talk this all over. Yes. I’d love a househusband. I’d love a wife! But, in reality, I am here, hauling up rolls of toilet paper from the basement and folding wash and straining against all that keeps me from my pen or paper. But here, in this place of constriction, is exactly where Laundry Line Divine was born. When I began to embrace the mundane acts of mothering as some of the expressions of my soul, I began to see even hanging the wash as an opportunity to see grace, to be inspired, to exert my love upon my family in ways that they may never be aware of, but, still, I could affect them by loving what I was doing.

Surely, loving the wash does not make it go by any faster or does not cook dinner-, which, of all tasks, is the one I find the most lamentable. My friend Janet likes to say “Dinner? We had dinner last night.” (As in, do we have to do that again?) Shifting my perspective on these daily tasks from drudgery to opportunity gets rid of my anger about being the one left to do them. This shift really put me on the spot to ask for help from my real life husband who wants to support me living to my fullest potential. So, he is the one who takes over every family task on Thursdays, my art day. He drives the kids where they need to go, answers the phone if they call, makes dinner and counsels them when they need an ear while my door is closed to the world. I admit there have been a few exceptions to the sanctity of these art days. And times when it is inconvenient. We have learned to live with that discomfort. Jonathan is dedicated to supporting me, as I have been dedicated to supporting him. We work it out.

I still still still get frustrated. I always want, need, require more time. But, I have learned what minimum levels of sustenance I need. I meditate and write every day. I spend a little time in my collage-a-day practice. I take a class once a week. I take weekend retreats once a season. But, in the day to day, balancing community participation, child care and feeding, family demands is a juggling act that I just get better and better at, with regular moments when it all falls to the ground in a clattering mess.

My children have learned to respect my need to work. By my being clear about my work time away from them, they are learning a level of independence. I am not as involved in their school lives or our community as I was before I engaged in writing Laundry Line Divine and blogging. I say, as involved, because I am still doing things outside my home that are not work related, but service, but not at all to the crazy assed degree I used to be. I must tell you in retrospect, those years of massive time spent volunteering helped me see myself as confident. I learned and honed leadership skills that help me do my work today. And, I had an impact on my children’s schooling that has made a lasting impression on them. I am so glad I had the chance to do that.
What would be enough, I’d like to know. Some days I wish that I just didn’t feel hurried all the time, always thinking that I could be doing 6 things at a time, all equally important. I write about what I call ‘Solomon Moments’ when I have to choose between two perfectly perfect things and in choosing one, I am really not doing a service to either. Both choices call me. Having time to write or watching my daughter run lacrosse both feel vitally important to me. 

This is where I remember what the fascinating children’s author Katherine Paterson said:

“As I look back on what I have written, I can see that the every persons who have taken away my time are those who have given me something to say.”


Ó Suzi Banks Baum  May 2, 2012

Suzi Banks Baum’s favorite roles in her 53-year career as a woman have been mother and rat.  She took up the former 17 years ago, upon the birth of her son, and the latter in 1965 at Potawatomie Park in Chicago, in the after-school theatre program.  Suzi actively blogs at laundrylinedivine.com where she writes about seeing and celebrating the sacred in everyday life. Her upcoming book, “Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers” recounts the wild tale of her adventures raising herself while raising her children. Her standing room only event for the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers ‘Out of the Mouths of Babes: An Evening of Mothers Reading to Others’ premiered her work on mothering and creativity. Suzi is an actress, artist, gardener and good friend. Suzi lives with her husband and two teenagers in Great Barrington, MA.

Favorite Frames of 'Out of the Mouths of Babes' at  www.laundrylinedivine.com
Mothering and Creativity blog series at  www.outofthemouthsofbabes.org
FeMail fun at www.femailart.com
Follow Suzi at: facebook.com/LaundryLineDivine or facebook.com/femailart@laundrylinediv


Part Two to be posted in the week of May 20, 2012.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Women, Solitude and Creativity



The challenge most women face, if they are creative, is that they are never alone or uninterrupted, with all the space and time they need to nurture their inner world. Without an office to get away to, or a room of their own, as Virginia Woolf put it, their imaginations are simmering on standby or put on hold, inaccessible until the precious solitude is found, or appear only in short intense bursts that quickly fade at the sound of a crying child, a teen yelling “Mom, I have no clean underwear”, or the constant demands of daily work, or elderly care.

We are the nurturers, but we also need to nurture our creative spirit or we wither and die, at least those of us who seek creative expression – whether through words, dance, music, art or painting. We need to brood and breed our art in silence and Solitude, for the most Part. (I know some writers who work in busy cafes, and that is their form of solitude in the middle of the city). I know I need this, and feel myself getting cranky without knowing why sometimes, until I realize I haven't had enough alone time to write and think in.

Where is your private sanctuary or quiet place to create? Can you recall a special moment of solitude, either in the Redwoods, on a lake at a cottage, in your music practice space, or on retreat – even in your garden shed? That place where creative flow happens, where you get in touch with your life's peak experiences and let them have voice, where you lose track of time, experience the bliss of the timeless.

In reading Write from The Heart, by Hal Zina Bennett, I found the following exercise for creating an imaginary space, an inner sanctuary: if you don’t have one already,you can  imagine one now. Use all the sensory clues you can: the colours, smells, touch (textures), temperature, sounds, and mood of this space. Fully imagine yourself in the scene and write the description. Then find someone to read it to out loud to, so you can hear your own voice and gage the response from your reader. Bennett says it’s important and completes the writing to read it out loud.

Today, in front of my desk is a quiet foggy lake. I woke up this morning to a completely grey landscape, fogged in. Only the warble of red winged blackbirds and early bird robins gave a sign of living beings. Now the fog has drifted off, sky still grey. Swallows perched on a tree near the water, oversee the grackles  pecking the grass looking for seeds. One black crow soars from the oak tree to the yard with a worm in its mouth. 

I spent some time writing this morning in my journal, pecking at thoughts and memories like those birds, looking for seeds or worms. May you give yourself permission to create a space for solitude and get back in touch with  your favourite mode of creative expression. You deserve it.

Namaste
Musemother

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