What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…


Quest day one


Your Quest2016 Prompt today:
What I most need to tell myself about 2016 is…

The Quest is back. My loyal tribe of business artists making their way in to 2016 with clarified aims and newly discovered wealth and spirit is back to it’s robust sharing around the web. Since December 2014, I have applied myself to this quest mostly because I really love to work collaboratively on a topic and sometimes my writing life feels lonely. Yes, I teach. Yes, I have friends who I meet for tea. But all of my work is surrounded by the quiet solitude I need to listen, create, craft, and hone. To know that others are doing the same, questioning their aims and inspirations and owning their own gifts gives me immense courage. If you are curious about Tracking Wonder’s #Quest2016, go here.

Today’s prompt is from Susan Piver. Close readers of Laundry Line Divine might recall that I read Susan’s book, Start, Here, Now earlier this fall. Susan’s introduction to the practice of sitting meditation has completely enhanced my daily practice. Through her simple instruction, I have increased my sitting practice, which makes me feel more inner resilience when things get hot in the kitchen with my kids and allows me a clearer path to my creative work. As you may know, I am devoted to daily practices that support my well being and my work, with pleasure dwelling at the center. Susan’s approach to meditation has offered me a wealth of tools.

But, now, of course, she shows up as the first mentor offering a prompt today. Great. Of course, it is a question that I have wanted to answer; of course, she taps a vulnerable spot, which yields a few tears with the asking of it.

What do I most need to tell myself for 2016?

Here is the list:

1. That I am enough, just as I am.
2. That my work is worth the time I invest in it and my work is worth being paid a decent reliable sum.
3. That I can write anyway, even when I don’t feel the fuzzy thrum of ideas burbling, even if I don’t have a clue where I am headed, like right now, and even if my book feels like a large beast standing in the dark, being described by tiny little ant creatures feeling it with their tiny ant hands.

I have learned so much this past year. I have taught some amazing women from whom I have learned much. My brilliant mentors have bounteously taught me this year, way more than they likely realize, but gifts, gifts, gifts have cluttered my path all this yearlong.

“What we fear is more private, mysteriously belongs to everyone.”
-Mark Nepo

But hearing is hard at this time of year, even when what I tell myself is what I most want to hear. The clanging of carols and the impending holidays amp up our sense of necessary doing so much so that our own self care can waddle off to a corner and wait out the month. My dear pal, Dr. Deb Kern posted about rituals that can support us this season here.

Like Deb, I amp up my rituals this month. I was raised in the Lutheran church and for all the distance I have between doctrine and my faith practice, I have held close the rituals that warmed me as a child and passed them on to my children. Even now, the Advent calendar is in the window and the dinner table is lit with a one candle for this first week of Advent. Catherine and I attended church this past Sunday and sang songs she has known since she was a tiny tot. I learned a few years ago how much I benefit from more quiet writing and art journaling during Advent. I apply lots of black gesso to my pages and write with white pens, silver paint and gold lettering. I begin to feel the season inside me, rather than feeling it foisted upon me. The more I let myself witness the dark, the more I feel advent happening inside me.

Something about light
how it comes surprisingly,
just when you’d accustomed yourself to dark,
surrendered to this now dark way as forever.
But then,
she asks,
a cloud thins,
a way
You just had to wait for it.

-Suzi Banks Baum

a small poem I wrote yesterday.

As we approach the Winter Solstice, you can expect lots of posts about seeing light. There will be a very special event here on Laundry Line Divine around the Solstice. Until then, I urge you to think of the image of a campfire this month. Set it to blaze in your mind and then bank it up, don’t let it flame out of control; don’t let it get too spread out. Gather your inner resources close by. At the grocery store just now, I bought small packets of scented bath salts on sale. This is one small move of self-care that increases my resilience in December. Baths warm me, and are a perfect time away from doing. My girl cut a board just longer than the edges of our bathtub so I can read a book safely while soaking in eucalyptus scented water.

To bank a fire is to cover the coals or embers with ashes or cinders, thus keeping the fire low but alive.

Let your fires burn low. Just as I found that definition of “banking a fire,” just beyond my screen a large red-tailed hawk landed on an oak branch just to the right of this sentence. Hawks appear in my life when I am beginning big adventures and this month, this Advent, these weeks before Solstice, before the holidays, before the arrival of 2016 feel just like that. A big adventure.

And what I most need to hear, when embarking on an adventure is, “I am enough. I am worth it. My work is worth it. And I can work, no matter what.”

Thanks to Susan Piver for the QUESTion today.

Please leave me a comment and let me know how you bank your fires during December. Also, share this post with a pal who may need a little boost in her self-care.

Thank you, always, for stopping in at the laundry line,
With a salute to the hawk,



Here are some of my other posts about Advent and art journaling my way towards the New Year.




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Showing 24 comments
  • Tania Pryputniewicz

    So cozy and sweet, dear suzi…I love that your girl cut you a board to balance your books on in the tub…the little things are everything…sending love, believing in your book, believing in you, generous you, working away so many miles away, but so close, in heart.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Tania. You read me well. Sweater. Sitting on a sheepie on my yoga ball. Tea drained and needing more. The belief is mutual my dear. xoxoS

  • Peggy Acott

    What I so love and admire about you, Suzi, is how you embody the season, the changes, the goings on within and around you. I look toward a time with that measure of presence.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Peggy. How did you get here so fast? Just seeing you and Tania lined up in the comments here, all so West Coast and all, warms me right up! xoxoS

  • Jennifer Johns

    Hi Suzi,
    I love the image of the black gessoed journal pages and the white, gold and silver writing. I am going to borrow that! So many of us need to feel that we are enough just the way we are. If I could give a gift to the universe, that would be it.I am caring for my health, seeing a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine doctor), taking my herbs, doing chi gong, and looking forward to being able to dance in the new year (after my hip replacement and knee replacement). Would you like to pop over for a cup of tea? I have some wonderful new pu-ehr tea with mango and strawberry. It is called French Kiss and I feel so special when I make myself a cup! Hugs to you. Jenni

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Oh Jenni, I will look up that tea and brew some up. I am so happy to hear from you here on LLD. I think of you often! xoS

  • stan stewart

    It’s so cool: I think I’ve read posts where you coached (yourself) in very similar ways. Consistency is a beautiful thing. It’s also true for me that “I have learned so much this past year” AND I continue to need similar encouragement — reminders really — to stay the course. You inspire me.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Stan, the inspiration is mutual. Yes, and I figure if I still feel the need to hear this encouragement, then there are others who might also. Happy we are circling closer again. xoxS

  • Brenna

    Your posts are always hawk-moment for me, Suzi–moments of breathless wonder and sometimes laughter and beauty. I love these images, these words, your poem, your wild soul–all of it. If all women realized at the exact same moment exactly what we are worth, I think the universe might implode at the release of all that power. <3

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      I live for that day BrennaAngel. I live for that day. Hugs and love, S

  • Julie Bond Genovese

    Amen sistah Smoozie – I’ve been slowly but surely feng shui-ing the holidays, and it has been one of my best glittery gifts to myself and my fam. “Our own self care can waddle off to a corner and wait out the month” – haw haw that beauty made me laugh! Thank you for your sweet comfort, clarity & giggles <3 Sending love XOxo jgb

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Oh Jooolz, this is a wonder perspective to have. My little stack of bath salts is a start. I dare myself to see if I can do one small move a day to clear and create clean energy for these holidays…with your sparkly inspiration to help! xoS

      • Julie Bond Genovese

        Oh yes I quivered in de-light at your bath suggestion – it’s been way too long! I shall dip my toes in the warmth, as well, one of these dark days. And when I do, I will send some sudzy bubble-bath love your way Xo

  • Blue Car Painted Green

    Why, hello, fellow Suzi. I’m glad to have come across you via Quest2016. It seems we share a love of art journaling, photography, and writing. I especially like your thoughts on darkness, light, and advent.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      SUZI!!! Where do you live? I just popped around your site, and yes, we share many loves. I look forward to being connected in the Quest and learning more about you. I studied with Lisa Sonora this summer. It was completely worth every inch of effort. Her work, layered with Jeffrey’s has paved a path for me of integration and clarity. So glad you stopped in here. xoxoS

      • Blue Car Painted Green

        Ahh, fellow Suzi (sorry, I can’t seem to help myself from calling you that), I am beside myself with excitement about your reply. How fun to find a kindred spirit. I live in St. Paul. Yesterday I was digging around your site a bit trying to figure out where you live, so take me out of my suspense. Where are ya, anyway? It’s funny: Even as filled with heart as Lisa Sonora’s book is, I somehow forgot an ACTUAL PERSON wrote it, my only connection with it had benn through Amazon. It didn’t occur to me I’d encounter people who know her. Found out yesterday one of my FB friends is friends with her. So cool! 🙂

        • Suzi Banks Baum

          Fellow Suzi, I am in Great Barrington, MA in the Berkshire Mountains, but really, I am from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and born in Evanston, Illinois. I am from the Great Lakes. Follow Lisa’s blog. She often offers great programs online and has a writing prompt series that runs for a month in the summer. I was part of it last summer as a prompter, which was so deluxe. My site is just about to have an overhaul, so soon it will be easier to find stuff. Kind of like a really good tag sale here, I hope? St. Paul, home of the Lutherans? I am a theatre grad from Northern Michigan University. Some of my closest theatre pals moved to the St. Paul area and still live there. Do you know my friends Marilyn or Douglas or Patty? xoxooxS

  • Barb Buckner Suarez

    Suzi – I loved all of this, but especially your little poem that you wrote yesterday. I am linking my witness talk that Roberto and I gave at last week’s Mass for the Anointing of the Sick – seeing as both my hubby and daughter are cancer survivors, it seemed like an appropriate ask. But as I was reading your poem, it made me think of having been in the “dark” for the past several years and finally coming into the light more recently. You can listen while you’re doing laundry! :O) XO https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5vdZ-ll4Sywb0ZSaF9GOGR1eHc/view?ts=565e60cf

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Clearly we need another sleep over. I will listen and listen again. Please hug your peoples for me and keep writing. Even now. Yup. Even now is when it gets interesting. xoxo Hugs, S

  • Katherine Reynolds

    Such a sweet post, so much beautiful writing, so grateful I had a chance to meet you.

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Katherine! I am so glad we get to weave in to know each other more. Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to Questing together. xoS

  • Vanessa Herald

    Suzi, thank you both for the reminder about self-care and Advent! I was raised Catholic, and Advent is one of the few traditions/rituals I still carry forward – although I’d forgotten all about it this year. And – more baths! Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and observations. You are so much more than enough.
    Big Hugs!

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Uhhuh. You too, me. I just spent an hour singing Advent songs with one of my close friends, another woman emerging from a very parochial childhood. MMMM. Here is lots of love to you and all you are cooking. xoxoS

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