Our Hands, My Hands Quest 2015 prompt by Scott Dinsmore

Suzi Banks Baum

Do the people around you inspire possibility? If not, it’s time to 
make some changes. The fastest way to do the things you don’t think can 
be done is to hang around people already doing them. In 2015, what changes will you make accordingly?

“God has no hands except from our hands.”

Dorothee Sölle

I rowed out to the middle of a sky lake and stopped.
In a boat, you are never truly stopped, but carried in a cup of light.
Oars tipped up to dribble and rest.
I slowly turn in the wind.

I could stay here all day.
I could even sleep here, likely be snugged in along the rocks by the wind, sheltered. But I have slept in boats before. I have no blankets here to keep the wet air out while I dream of walking.

Boats on Mohonk by Suzi Banks Baum


I stayed out in the middle of sky water until I’d had enough. Urgently, I returned to a room above the water where I’d found, in the course of a few short days, a wild pack of creatives who were forging a path that had room for me. I like to do things in groups. As a young child, my mother tells the tale, I could not go outside in to the street life of the north side of Chicago, without first calling my friends on the heavy black rotary dial phone. I play well with others.

So when others gather, I am near.
But I have learned to approach slowly.
I am rich in friends and collaborators.
I gather easily.
I burn warm and others stand close.

But I learn a new motion on the lake, in my wooden boat, my hands off the oars, I feel something deeper propelling me. The vista is getting different.


Mohonk morning light


At the gathering of Your Brave New Story with Jeffrey Davis and his Tracking Wonder team, I met people who are already doing what I long to do- living lives fueled by devotion and possibility, keenly tuned to excellence and clarity, intrigued by the world, by poetry and pine trees, and willing to ask hard questions and sit still long enough to wonder in to new answers. I am deeply grateful for finding my pack.

But this (Quest-ion) question asks me to dig a bit deeper.

I find pockets of possibility within my people more close in. Quester Tracee Vetting-Wolf created an image inspired by Jim Rohn’s belief that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Tracee's art journal entry January 2015

Tracee’s art journal entry January 2015

This means I am the average of my husband, our son, our daughter, my yoga teacher, and the women in my writing workshop that meets three times a month. The greater rings of people in my life I either meet with weekly on the phone, or I miss our regular Tuesday walks for weeks on end so we text love filled messages to each other until we find ourselves in the woods, and the people I gather with monthly-my women’s Moon Circle and my other writing group. This is quite a group to average out with.




1. My husband is brilliant, verbal, gentle, athletic, and obsessed with yoga and our bird feeder. He is a diligent business owner, a thorough advocate for his clients and a fierce father. He is also tender, caring and loves chocolate. He loves me in to light. Even when I curse like a pirate on my way to a mammogram this morning after I’d knocked over the glass teapot with my chubby down coat because it is so cold here and I am about 400 pounds with that thing on, so clumsy. I swore, then stopped and looked at him. He smiled carefully and said, “just go”. So I went. And I knew he’d clean up after me. And that he’d have cocoa with me after my breasts emerged from being nearly flattened. He is that kind of man.
2. Our son? Ardent lacrosse player, studious college student, EMT trainee, joker, boyfriend, brother, best friend, social, secretive, passionate, attentive, hungry, philosophical and one of the lights of my life.
3. Our daughter? Poetic, stubborn, passionate, hungry, intriguing, stupefying, philosophical, athletic, diligent, articulate, hilarious, messy at times and organized at others, she is one of the lights of my life.
4. My yoga teacher I see at least three times a week. She is also brilliant. She is so beautiful, caring, human, and articulate. She is also one of the lights of my life.
5. My writing group at the library where, three times a month, I meet with whoever shows up, but a core group of six diligent, curious, deeply sensitive, humble, probing, funny, caring, delightful, brilliant women who have become a group because they are on to something. They generate light.

Kids at Canyon Gorge Alberta, MI by Geri Miller August 2012

Taking an average based on light and love makes me think of Brenè Brown’s Daring Greatly in which she describes Wholehearted Parenting. She writes about the face we turn to our children when they walk in the door from school, or down the stairs in the morning, or returning late at night, standing next to our bed checking in. Is it the face of “Where the hell have you been?” or “Zip up your jacket before you go out?” or “I’m running late and here is your lunch?” or is it “Hello light of my life. I am happy to see you.” Does concern and responsibility trump love?

When I consider the five people I spend the most time with, I know that each of them are bold enough to turn their real faces towards mine. Sometimes, smiles, sometimes tears, sometimes anger, sometimes need, but all the time light. And always love. Both.

Would that I could return to them what they shed so generously towards me. I live towards this assurance.

I could craft this list to include my collaborators, many of whom I know only online. Or my art making community, who I play with in real time, online, in texts, on Instagram or through blogging. These people dare me to be my full self.

But this intimate group? They dare me the most. They are unabashedly themselves in spite of whatever expectations or broken glass I have laid in their paths, they are stepping so gingerly, fiercely, bravely in to their own lives, I have no choice but to live mine. Otherwise, I will be left here, matching socks and making grocery lists for meals for one.

I could pretend to not be a woman tethered to family life, but I would be lying to you. I am a woman who responds to the world through the lens of the domestic.

To lift the domestic into the poetic is quietly radical.
~Jayne Benjulian in a review of Barbara Rockman’s Sting and Nest


So, in response to the Quest 2015 prompt by Scott Dinsmore:

yes, I am
inspired to possibility by the five people I spend the most time with. I am dancing on the fast fading ice of this neat tidy group around the table. We are all swimming in a world burgeoning with new ideas and talents revealed and vistas as yet unexplored.
Whether on my yoga mat or at the laundry line, at the library or out on a hike, these five people hold an expectation that I will meet possibility
as I create it. Stepping out in to the unknown, making it up as I go along.

The river the river the river

the river, the river, the river



Setting it all out this way fills me with excitement for 2015.
I am dusting off my compass points, understanding more intrinsically what guides me. I am more curious than ever about what courses through the runnels of my murex spiraled mind.

Tending the domestic with an ear for the poetic.

Superior Stones


I started this post out in a boat. We moved metaphors and landed inside a shell. Laundry is washed in water. Our brains float in liquid and thrive with hydration.

I tend my watery self, or my life is tended towards water having grown on up on the Great Lakes, and thus, wet, I am led to the this understanding. Long may we swim.


Ramapo Waters


How about you?
Who inspires possibility in you?



Friends with Glory #1




More about Scott Dinsmore:

Through his Live Your Legend revolution, Scott Dinsmore is leading millions of people to rise to their greatest possibilities, surround themselves with other buoyant legends, and do the work they love while changing the world. His TEDx talk has been viewed almost 2 million times and is among the top 20 most viewed TEDx Talks of all time.


You can join in the next leg of Quest 2015 by going here. It is free. And it is a deep dive in to bringing your best work forward in 2015.


Please look for new posts this week by Mandy Thompson about permission and a poem by Powder Kegger Erika Nelson. I always appreciate your comments, questions, private mails, hugs, stops in the street, phone calls or tea breaks. What I love most about living this out louder life is the light I see in others. Thank you for shining so brightly. xoxooxoxS

Recent Posts
Showing 9 comments
  • lorri

    Suzi – Every time I read your posts I want to be drawn into your circle, I want to drink tea (and cocoa), I want to swim in the lake, I want to create and talk and and and be wrapped in that warm, safe place you create. People like you awe me – I can’t make the leap, my feet are nailed to the ground. For you, your life probably seems like any other – anyone can do this – let me tell you NO not so – it is a gift and a rare talent to live such a life. Please keep sending out the beacons of your posts.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      You can count on me to do that Lorri. And you can count on yourself to keep igniting the flame of your appetite. I am honored you spend time here on Laundry Line Divine. xo S

  • Barb Buckner Suarez

    I loved this post so much on so many levels. The idea of being the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with would mean for me, my husband and four children. And I think that I am ridiculously lucky to have this group be my most inner circle. “I could pretend to not be a woman tethered to family life, but I would be lying to you. I am a woman who responds to the world through the lens of the domestic.” YES – and in this day and age that seems radical, but for me it is also true and I’m happy to have had your words put that into focus for me (and to find a kindred spirit!)

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Oh Barb, I have a Terry Tempest Williams quote for you on this. I will include it in a post in the next week and make sure you see it. Thank you for reading me here. Kindred spirit for sure! All my best, Suzi

  • French Toast Tasha

    It’s so easy for our interactions with other people, especially other people who are doing what we’d love to be doing, to seem like a competition, like they’re already “ahead” of us or in a place we can’t get to. I just love the idea that we should be surrounding ourselves with people who are living the kind of lives we want to be living too. It’s quite empowering! Of course a creative, powerful community will help us feel that way too. We can all be the change we want to see together, that sounds wonderful.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Oh Tasha, this topic of ENOUGHNESS is so current for me as I write my book at the pace I am capable of sustaining. Your thoughts are clear about community too. Thank you for stopping here to comment. I always love hearing where a post takes you. xoxooxS

  • Karen

    Hey beautiful rowing girl! I just love seeing you in the rowboat every time. That is one of those great Lakes things we have in common that draws us together. i spent SO much time in a dinghy, teaching myself how to glide across Sodus Bay, or along the shores of Lake Ontario. To be empowered by an oar, simple physics and our own strong hands is a vision worth remembering! Sometimes life feels like rowing and the chop can be scary because even strong arms and a firm grip cannot keep the boat aligned with oars. Internalizing our “team” of 5 sure helps navigate the white caps! It’s so synchronistic to me that I cannot help but share with you that I’ve been delving into the symbolism of a 5 point star, recently in my artwork, yoga and analysis of my family constellation! My 5 are my husband, my daughter, my son, my creative mentor and my spiritual mentor. Now I will think of them as passengers in my boat as I row the boat ashore. hallelujah! ( sing along!!) Thanks for the words of Great inspiration- Suzi. xo K

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Oh now we can sing too????? You know how happy this makes me. It is no surprise that you are thinking in fives too. Let’s get in the water this year, okay? Thank you for commenting here and giving me the image of your hands on oars. Stay warm and see you tonight! xo S

  • Ilana

    Love to you!