Dare to Excel: My young genius arrives

Dahlia at the Mount by SBB

 

Happy Summer all!

 

I am up to my elbows in scaring the birds off my black currant bushes and painting pages in my journal, responding to prompts from Lisa Sonora and Jeffrey Davis. Summer is playtime for me, where I experiment with new techniques, take time to swim and see friends, see my kids off on large adventures (boo-hoo and yippee) and continue to hone my work here on Laundry Line Divine. It is also a time of great preparation for my upcoming teaching in July and August. More on that here.

Today’s post is a response to Jeffrey’s Dare to Excel challenge and I want to share it with you because the question is so potent and filled with potential. My response is shaping a new offering I am about to launch and has spurred some juicy discussion here at my house about what parts of me are active and what parts of me could be roused to alertness and re-engaged in my daily life.

 

I think the question is worth considering. Here is what Jeffrey posed.


#DareToExcel Challenge – 3:

Take a few minutes to remember a time when you were nine, or around that age, when you felt free to be your best.Feel an exact moment in time and place. Are you outdoors or indoors? How does the air feel? How do you feel in your body? What are you uniquely doing or making? Who are you with and how are you uniquely relating to others?

Looking back with full compassion toward yourself, what 1-3 adjectives would you use to describe your younger self at her or his best?
These are your 3 Young Genius Qualities.
How can you bring some of those young genius qualities forward to this project?

journal entry by Suzi Banks Baum with photo from 1968 with my Mom and sister, Julia

journal entry by Suzi Banks Baum with photo from 1968 with my Mom and sister, Julia

Brave

Curious about beauty

Physically active, especially swimming

In my ninth year, I am with my family the entire year. Even at school, my mother substitute teaches for my favorite Mrs. Finzer who is out with an injury.

I am brave this year.

The student riots in Chicago are scaring me.

My parent’s unhappiness is making my tummy hurt.

The lady who lives next door to our apartment building is so upset about loosing her son in the Vietnam War that early in the morning she raves in her back yard, which my bedroom window faces. She weeps as she chops at the corner of her house, wailing on the brick with a butcher knife. This startles me.

I break my front teeth in a fall on the sidewalk, fainting from the sickening smell of tar being poured on a street surface and endure the argument my parents have in the kitchen, while sitting in my bedroom, just a door way between me and my yelling parents. Just a window between me and the crazy sad lady next door.

My stomach got a workout that year.

my Dad and me on our summer camping trip around Lake Michigan one and a half times

my Dad and me on our summer camping trip around Lake Michigan one and a half times

 

I am curious about beauty this year.

I read Tiger Beat magazine and pour over photos of the Monkees.

I begin parting my hair on the side.

I am a Junior Girl Scout and play Bonnie out on the playground by tipping my green wool beret to the side over my eye, just like Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde.

I am in a play this year and experiment with multiple identities (a girl playing a boy who is turned in to a rat).

My mother sews me a black and white gingham tiny checked maxi skirt that I wear with a crinoline slip underneath and saddle shoes. My burgeoning identity is tossed around from straight up Lutheran girl, to wild child and I wear it all at once.

I kiss Lenny Howard, my first Jewish boyfriend, under the steps of his building and consider going by “Susanna” so I can get in to the community dance at his temple. I can still feel his full lips on mine and see the slatted shadows from the stairs on a bright Chicago afternoon.

 

Here is Mom and me with my tiny tot sister Julia on our summer adventure. This is the VW bus we camped with around Lake Michigan.

Here is Mom and me with my tiny tot sister Julia on our summer adventure. This is the VW bus we camped with around Lake Michigan. My Mom sewed me that dress and I LOVED it. The harlequin print is still one of my favorites.

 

I am physically active this year.

I have a three-speed bike that I love riding.

I pull my red wagon packed with Girl Scout cookies to sell in the student union at Loyola University a few blocks from our apartment.

I swim whenever I can and the summer adventure my family is on allows me to swim almost every single day. My legs are growing and I ache with the effort. I am becoming.

I get food poisoning on this summer long camping trip and have to ride in the very back of the VW bus we are living in, throwing up in to the bottom of my sister’s kiddie potty. This stands out to me because I have never been very sick before, except for earaches.

I feel myself this year, as a person, as an individual on the bus ride of my family life, one of many, and somehow, I have a pen and paper and I am writing at this picnic table. I have no recollection of this writing, whether it is a letter or a list or a drawing for my little sister. The attitude of privacy that I carry, even in proximity to my family so nearby, nearly on top of me, is what I see here.

 

I found a safe harbor between that pen and me.

 

What I spied this morning

What I spied this morning

 

I really want to know how you’d answer this question about your young genius. What qualities of wonder and aliveness were so prevalent when you were nine or ten? How might you enliven them to reengage your young genius even now amidst the mayhem of family life? When I asked JNB this question, he couldn’t get to any wonder or aliveness until he was a teenager, but the qualities he recalled are keys to the new work he is developing right now.

If your work in the world is yearning for fresh air and invigorating companionship, consider joining the Quest2015 with Tracking Wonder.

 

Thank you for reading me here.

You can be assured of the sacred intermingling of creative, domestic and wild here on Laundry Line Divine.

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Devotedly yours,

 

S

 

Here is this post as a recording. Go ahead, upload me and take me with you in the car. I love a good road trip. xoS

 

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Showing 4 comments
  • Brenna

    Beautiful and poignant collection of memories, Suzi. Your words build bridges. Thanks for sharing your young genius.

  • Colleen Nolan Armstrong

    Suzi – I read your words woven beautifully with photos – and the experience took my heart on a summer’s journey, a long relaxed stretch of path, leading me to memories of my own childhood. Thank you.

  • ValPas

    Thanks for your reminiscences of childhood! They served as a reminder of my own young childhood. I think the years 9 – 11 are really the coming of age – the time when we become differentiated as individual and separate from parents. So many things happened in my life during those years. Perhaps I just remember them more vividly than other times. And I loved remembering a VW camper we owned when my own daughter was about nine, and we had it for over ten years. We drove it to South Carolina and back up to Michigan on many occasions.

  • Vanessa

    This is beautiful Suzi. “I swim whenever I can and the summer adventure my family is on allows me to swim almost every single day. My legs are growing and I ache with the effort. I am becoming.” That captures it all so well. Thank you for sharing this.