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Archive for November, 2019

GUEST BLOG 

Dark Journal 
writing.ritual & art making

Suzy Banks Baum

There is not a day that passes without me doing this:

I set out to bring the veg scraps to the compost. I pass the majestic oak. I pass the ancient maple stump that was 250 years old when the rest of its tree self fell 20 years ago. I walk on the mossy grass and murmur prayers of thanksgiving to all the spirits who hold this land. I send prayers of honor to the people who inhabited this place before me. Before the people who built our house in 1898. Before the white settlers came to this area and called it Great Barrington in 1726.

The traditional Native inhabitants of this area were Mohican. Stockbridge Mohican, as I learned from my friend Jimmy, who is a member of that tribe. Long displaced to Wisconsin, the tribe has a presence here in Berkshire County, no matter how many years have passed since they hunted, traded, and lived here. Just to the north of where I sit, stands Monument Mountain, a sacred place for Mohicans. My children went to high school in its craggy shadow. We have hiked it more times than I can recall. A few miles east is the confluence of the Umpachene and Konkapot Rivers. That land was a special meeting place for the Indigenous inhabitants of this territory. We go to those waterfalls for sanctuary in every season.

By my estimation, that Sugar Maple stood while the Mohicans still populated what is now called Berkshire County. This fact alone causes me to stop and say thank you for the shelter that tree provided then, and for what it gives to my family now.

How does the land you walk on nourish your day? How can you give thanks and acknowledge those who came before you? How does the act of breathing, step by step, connect you to yourself and help prepare for the coming winter season?

If you find yourself edgy and twitching from seasonal sensory overload, here is a small gift. It comes to you without cost, for it is the freshest and most readily accessed gift we can find every moment.
It is breath.

Place your right hand on your belly.
Place your left hand on your heart.
Begin to breathe so that you lift the belly hand slightly with your inhale, while your heart hand stays still.
Continue to breathe in this pattern, slowly. Inhale, move the belly hand. Exhale feel your belly fall toward your spine.

Continue in this breathing pattern for at least ten rounds of breath. If you feel lightheaded, please stop and try it again later.

This practice quiets my nervous system. I awoke this morning worrying about my daughter. I put my hands on belly and heart and breathed slowly for ten rounds. As I did, I saw her with plenty of strong solutions to the snag she is in right now. I saw her swimming forward in her life with strong brave strokes. I continued breathing and noticed how my mind, so quick to enter the day agitated, instead relaxed.

I hope you will consider joining me for Advent Dark Journal, a nourishing 6-week self-paced guided experience with writing, art, and ritual prompts delivered to your email every Saturday morning.

You can read all about it here.

Or go ahead and register here.
With love from my heart to yours,
Suzi

Copyright © 2019 Suzi Banks Baum, All rights reserved.
Via SuziBanksBaum.com, or at LaundryLineDivine.com
Our mailing address is:
Suzi Banks Baum
Post Office Box 224
Great Barrington, MA 01230

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TO Suzi from Napkinwriter:

I needed this in this exact agitated moment, dear Suzi. I will share on Napkinwriter. Hearts and blessings to you, dear friend. I am breath…
Sue
aka Journey GIrl

 

 

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Making Meaning of Your Life through Writing

A Guest Blog today written by:

Suzanne Murray

December 5th, 2011

A creative writing class may be one of the last places you can go where your life still matters.” – Richard Hugo

Poet Richard Hugo, who started the creative writing program at the University of Montana and taught there for 30 years, thought that writing allowed you to more readily make sense of your life and see the value of it. He saw the practice of writing as “a slow cumulative way of accepting your life as valid, of accepting yourself over a lifetime, of realizing that your life is important. And it is. It’s all you’ve got. All you ever had for sure.”

I find that whether I’m writing essays or poems or reflecting in the pages of my journal that I gain increased clarity about who I am, what I value and how I see the world. I tap a deeper thread of meaning in my life that helps me makes sense of everything I have ever done and everything that has ever happened. It helps me put things in perspective and opens me up to new insights.

You don’t have to “be a writer” to benefit. The practice of stream of consciousness writing where you just let the words flow uncensored gives you access to an expanded way to knowing and deeper wisdom. It gives you access to the powerhouse of your subconscious/unconscious (that 93 percent of our mind we are not usually aware of.)

It’s a great way to get answers to the questions our heart and soul want to ask
Like

• What do I need to know right now? or

• What is trying to emerge in my life right now?

 

Just play with it and see what happens.

https://www.creativitygoeswild.com/

 

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Today, we are rising on a new dawn after elections across our country. May we and they know the sacredness of each new dawn. May we, the voters and citizens and the elected perform our responsibilities in the magnificence we can bring forth. May we listen to the whispers of wisdom, stand with the lessons of age and ancestors, envision what could be as we take even tiny steps toward common sense mixed with a passion for change that is for the good of all, supported by the sacred power of a God and Goddess of love.

It is time. We are the ones. The American dream awaits this dawn. And we are the creators.

 

Whispers at Dawn
By Gloria Burgess
Hush now.
Listen.
Lean into those voices
That whisper at dawn.
Stand gently
Proudly
On the broad bones
The great shoulders
Of the grand mothers and fathers
Who dreamt you
And held you
Keep you
And walk with you
Stroking your face
As dawn paints
That canvas of sky.
(from Legacy Living by Gloria Burgess © 2006, p. 47)
Congrats on getting back in the saddle!
Sara Pranikoff
sara@artandwritingcircle.com; http://www.womenwriting.org

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You are invited in this guest blog to come, stand before the dawn and be still…without words…and wait….   What would that be like for you?

The invitation
By Andrew Norton

Come with me and stand before the dawn,
let us be still,
without words
and wait,
wrapped in the blanket of darkness
within and without.

Watch with me
as sun splinters break into our worlds,
to see and to be seen,
never giving ourselves in total to the light,
but residing in the threshold of shadows
to protect this precious gift.

The invitation of this day comes
through the mist across the vast sea
ensuring the mystery of our adventure,
the known and the unknown,
consummated through our eyes,
a revelation, a constant re-veiling,
for to see fully would be not to see at all
as it is in the familiar of things that we lose our sight.

From this dawning may we awaken
tired eyes blinded by the ordinary

 

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I FIRST STARTED READING THIS EMAIL & WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE. I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD. THIS EMAIL IS VERY THOUGHT PROVOKING. MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK. READ SLOWLY!

AND THEN IT IS WINTER

You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is… the “back nine” of my life and it catches me by surprise…. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that “I was only on the first hole” and the “back nine” was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is… my friends are retired and getting grey… they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me… but, I see the great change…. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant… but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so… now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!! But, at least I know, that though I’m on the “back nine”, and I’m not sure how long it will last… this I know, that when it’s over on this earth… it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done… things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the “back nine” yet… let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the “back nine” or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life… so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

“Life” is a gift to you.
The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after.
Make it a fantastic one.

LIVE IT WELL!
ENJOY TODAY!
DO SOMETHING FUN!
BE HAPPY !
HAVE A GREAT DAY

Remember “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

LIVE HAPPY IN 2013 AND BEYOND!

LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

~Your kids are becoming you…. but your grandchildren are perfect!
~Going out is good… Coming home is better!
~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything…. “especially golf”!
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do,
but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”…” ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.
~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear..
~~~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

It’s Not What You Gather,
But What You Scatter
That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.

TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN,
YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE,
SO ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.

Life isn’t about Surviving the storm
but learning to Dance in the rain.

 

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Caring for her paralyzed son taught Sandy Concar how to take care of herself — and other caregivers.

Sandy Concar was used to being in control of her life and her family’s. She found comfort in having a Plan A, B and even C. (Laura got me a book for Mother’s Day, “God Always has a Plan B). When, while raising two teenagers and working 14-hour days as a school bus driver and mail carrier, she needed to move her displaced mother into their home, Concar’s competence kept everyone and everything afloat.

Her kids grew up and forged independent lives. She helped her mom get reestablished in an apartment. Concar and her husband, Ron, empty-nesters at last, were reconnecting after years of responsibility, steering their motorcycle or hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains two hours from their Wake Forest, N.C., home.

“I masterminded my whole life,” Concar says, “until Keith’s accident.”

Her son, Keith, was 27 and on his second Hurricane Katrina volunteer stint, having stashed his belongings in storage and moved to New Orleans. There he spent his days ripping wet drywall and shoveling debris out of ravaged homes, and his nights sleeping on a classroom floor. En route to a job site, he was doing 55 mph on his motorcycle when the Jeep pulled out. Keith’s resulting spinal cord injury returned him to his mother’s care, ultimately leading Concar to what she considers her life’s purpose: supporting those who support others through her mentoring business Care Giver Sanity.

“Is he still alive?”
     This was Concar’s first reaction upon receiving the phone call, followed by, “Everything else, we can take care of.” That she did, shifting into organizational high gear and staying in it for a year and a half, shuttling Keith to doctor’s appointments, researching therapies, addressing financial issues and retrofitting the family home for wheelchair accessibility.

No time to feel
     Concar was looking for answers to heal Keith when an alternative medicine practitioner gently told her, “You need the healing first.” Using EFT, or Emotional Freedom Techniques, Concar tapped specific body acupressure points with her fingertips, causing a “Niagara Falls” of tears as she released pent-up anger and grief. She was, she realized, in control of everybody’s life but her own.

Self-care as a priority
Caregivers aren’t necessarily good at receiving care, even from themselves. For many, Concar says, it traces back to old family rules the likes of “You don’t take the last piece of pie in case someone else wants it.” Healing meant putting herself at the top of her to-do list. Task No. 1: Get out of bed and shower before checking on Keith, which would spiral into task-tending and only getting around to showering at 4 p.m.

Her healing process
     Concar says she was not raised to have a career vision. “By age 25, I’d reached my dream: I had the husband, the two kids, the dog, the house, the picket fence. I said, ‘Now, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?’” Keith’s accident brought the answer. “When I began to heal, I saw so many other caregivers in distress,” she says. “Sure, I wish Keith’s accident hadn’t happened; I would prefer my son to be walking. But it did happen, and there was a reason for it.”

Giving rise to the reason
Two years of practicing self-care after her watershed EFT experience and with Keith settled in San Diego, Concar started CareGiverSanity, at first doing workshops and later adding mentoring: complimentary 30-minute CareGiver Chats via phone or Skype, followed, as desired, by extended one-on-one mentoring and access to a private Facebook support group. Her clients care for aging parents, family members with disabilities, children and other loved ones, and hail from as far away as Canada and France.

Root cause
Hers isn’t an easy sell. “This audience isn’t good at accepting help,” notes Concar. CareGiverSanity’s program only sticks if clients are willing to concede need. Up first is digging into their “stuff,” which, says Concar, they’ve dodged by concentrating on everybody else’s stuff. She guides them in considering such questions as, What is the benefit of doing everything themselves? Things get done right. The downside? They’re exhausted. After the reflection comes the practice.
Baby steps

Advise a caregiver to go for a walk, says Concar, and they’ll reply, “Yeah, right. Find me 10 minutes.” She promotes taking little steps: cooking a nutritious meal one night a week, looking out the window while drinking a cup of coffee, not rushing home from the grocery store. Little by little, such seemingly minor efforts can add up to having more energy, which makes caregiving easier.

“When I awakened to my need to start feeling me,” Concar says, “I realized that Keith’s accident didn’t just happen to Keith; it happened to each of us.” And what happened to Concar — losing control but gaining a calling — now instills hope in caregivers beyond herself.

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