This heart is made of many

June Mandala Summer Jewels

It is the time of year for visits. Last night I watched my girl play Oh Hell, Bridge with my best friend Daniel. She is not quite the age I was when met him, but close enough to allow me to see myself in her, learning, daring, challenging and laughing out loud with him. Daniel and I have been soul mates since we met, and to see my daughter forging her own friendship with him is quite a gift. The same is happening with my son, who is making his way across the U.S. by camping and visiting friends with his two travel mates. This past week, my best friend from high school, Mary Erin, housed the guys near San Francisco. Knowing Ben was under her roof and within range of her brilliance gave me so much comfort and delight.

I stand before you with a full heart today. I am freshly returned from a week with the International Women’s Writing Guild. I led my Mapping Motherhood class with a brave group of women willing to turn their attention inward and write from their own rich resource. They made maps using a wild variety of mixed media techniques, messy and intuitive work that draws out fresh language about women’s lives as mothers. Here is a little slide show of my week, including views of my beloved mentor, teacher, friends, Myra Shapiro, Marj Hahne, and Dorothy Randall Gray. The leaping photos are from our Playback Theatre Salon with Kelly DuMar. Catherine came to visit on the first night of our open readings. (Another big joy moment.)

I am packing, again. Oh I am home enough to pick berries and can one batch of jam, to tend my tomatoes, take chilly dips in the river, ponder my elderberries and upgrade my art kit. Then, later this week I head to Michigan for a visit with my family and to lead three events in the Upper Peninsula. You can read more about those here. If you know of friends in the UP who would be intrigued, please share this post with them.

Another thing I do when I am home is make Canang Sari offerings. You can see them at the beginning and ending of that slideshow.

I make these small gratitude offerings in my back yard. I make them whenever I feel drawn to a few minutes of meditative presence in my garden. I make them when I am about to embark on a project or adventure. I use them to illuminate my gratitude for the great joy I have in my life, with my family and friends, with the teaching and writing and art I get to do these days. There is something very healing about making tangible the prayers that sing through me all day long. My friend Ursula first laid this particular collection of stones last September. I have added stones to it from rivers I have swum in, my owl stone from IWWG, and what my friends share with me. Brenna Layne shared a box full of her shell collection. I look forward to creating with these small gifts from the sea that washed up to her hands, that she has savored for years and now, allows me to enjoy.

I wrote this in a post earlier this year but I feel like it is time to say it again:

Your creative fire is not a luxury.
Your creative fire is necessary for your health and well-being.
Your creative fire needs no apology.
You may look at people who work in what we generally call creative work with envy. Why do they get to do this while I am standing behind a cash register at Wal-Mart?

Truly, we are all at different points in the engagement of our creative muscles.
But we are never more than a breath away from assuring ourselves that our fire burns and though it may look like we’ve forgotten this blaze while sunk in the mire of active parenting, maintaining careers and family life, we have not.

Wherever you are in your life today, mired in difficulty, swimming in bliss, it all counts as real.

Your confusion is not pathology, it is a path. If you will provide sanctuary for what is rising in you, you will unlock radiant jewels hidden in the darkness.
-Matt Licata

Your jewels.

Those are the gifts, like Brenna’s shells from the sea, that wash up when we pay attention. Writing and art are how I do that. Some of you make cakes with this same awareness, while others of you lead businesses, families or foundations that blaze with your full presence. The world benefits from the restoration of feminine lives being lived full out. I hope you know the blessing that you are in the world.

So. My heart is made of many. My students at IWWG and my writing peers and mentors. My dear friends who offer shelter to my adventuring children. My sisters about to bake cakes and celebrate another year of full lives while we pause together on the shores of a great lake. And you, my dear readers.

I look forward to what this coming year will bring.
With love,


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Showing 6 comments
  • Brenna

    Suzi, your posts are such nourishing soul-food. I’m glad the shells made it there safely! I may have gotten a little carried away…….feel free to distribute them throughout the world as you see fit! Love this post, your words, and your blazing Amazon spirit. xoxoxo

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Brenna. I am taking the shells out one wrapped bunch at a time. Did you see your string as wings on the heart? xoxoxoS

  • jan phillips

    suzi, this is fabulous. you are a comet in the night sky. a fireball of
    wonder. you amaze me always, with every gesture, image, word. be proud
    of yourself. be very proud. jan

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Jan! This means the world to me! Much love and gratitude for your steady inspiration in my life. I cannot wait for your new book to come out! xoS

  • Xanthippia

    Suzi, wonderful story, and wonderful artistry in that video. I wanted more… But that’s what it’s always about, isn’t it?

    • Suzi Banks Baum

      Thank you Joanne! Yes, more is always nice. Have you seen the baby book titled, More More More? That is what I always think. Then I cup my hands in front of my heart and say thank you for all I have been given. xoxoxS