It’s my birthday: Creative Practice and Real Life

My sister and me on the street in Chicago, Illinois 1963

I’ve been preparing for this job for a long time.

I write this blog post on the afternoon before my 60th birthday.

What is real for me in this moment is an intense desire for quiet, for ease, and to slip in to my outside art studio/garage and stay there, uninterrupted. But even with both kids living in other cities, in college and working, even with it being a Friday afternoon, gray and silken late summer air, even though I have washed the lunch dishes and licked the last of the chocolate pudding from the cup…I still manage to clutter up my approach to that clear time.




What if the whole ride, from dawn to dusk, was part of our creative practice?

What if we pared down expectations so far that the husk of expectation for hours spent alone in our creative work was slipped off to the bare naked tender desire to express experience as it is lived?

What if while I washed the dishes, I was already in the state of mind that has wiggled free of nagging responsibility?

Wouldn’t this disrupt our belief that artists function in a beautiful biome of solitude where wind nor rain nor dark of night will stay them from their flights of imagination?


What if the way we live is our art?

What if mindfulness prepares us for this, the dance between the dishes, the mail, the laundry, the bills, the sad human, the other sad human, the happy letters that need writing, the checkbook that needs attention–what if creative practice encompassed the whole thing?


My belly relaxes. Lunch begins to digest.


When I began blogging in 2009, my kids were early teens and I had no idea what I was doing with nearly everything. I set out to make sense of my life through creative practice, finding the sacred in the ordinary, and especially in laundry.

Motherhood has shaped me from the beginning. For so many years, I yearned to make sense of my life as a woman and mother, as a person in relation to other persons. I longed to voice what felt like was mine to voice, but I felt shuttered by expectation and training.


Showing up to write on this blog, which started out at Laundry Line Divine and has grown in to Rising Forth, I have learned a few things and shared them with you readers as promptly as I could. I have accomplished much in the way of clearing and making time for my own work in the midst of mothering, going from eking out time at the edges of my days, to Thursday is Art Day to now, when every day is Art Day as long as it also includes time to develop my teaching commitments, to study and write, and to tend my family with its ebb and flow of need. Every day is art day because in these 9 years I have figured out how to make a decent contribution to our family’s welfare while doing the work I longed to do…for, like, my whole life.


Captured by Ben at his favorite spot in D.C. in the Freer Collection of the Smithsonian Museum

On the eve of what feels like a very big birthday,

I notice the things that calm me and bring me in to connection with spirit. The light as it dawns on the pear tree, my steady and daily witness during meditation. The tree grows ten paces out from my bedroom window where I sit every day. The tree fills with light and I watch.

I notice the comfort of yoga class with people I have practiced with for five years. We did our “birthday treat” inversion practice and I brought cups of chocolate pudding for a gift to everyone for after class. Making a birthday snack seems like it comes with the territory of an early September birthday, right?

I notice how much I want to do my daily writing practice, even though I knew I could only do 20 minutes of it before a meeting. I did those 20 minutes and it was worth it.

I notice how once I got home and made lunch and cleaned up and took care of a bunch of small details, what I really was driving towards emotionally was this writing, to move towards and sit with each of you, from all the points on the globe, who gather here to share for a few minutes of your day.

How I Attempt to Thank You, Even Now

I cannot describe to you the pleasure knowing you read these posts and take them to your hearts. Every single time I post, I shed readers and I gain readers. People decide what happens here on Rising Forth is for them or not for them. They make a decision. And while I am sorry to see readers leave my mailing list, I also celebrate the clarity it takes to know, “I am ready to move on from here.”

I honor those of you who stay, who read me week to week. You have endured my oddball early posts and allowed my writing to mature and flourish in this space. Thank you for your time, for purchasing my first book, for buying my writing prompts, or enrolling in my classes. Thank you for letting these posts land in your inbox to be savored at just-the-right moment. That spot when you have time to read and open your heart to what rises forth.

My Birthday Wish

In honor of my work in Armenia I have a birthday wish. New Illuminations is a yearly 3-week residency in the city of Gyumri where I go to work with women artists in need of community and connection. You can learn all about it in this video. If you feel moved and capable of making a tax-deductible donation for New Illuminations, thank you. If you cannot offer a donation, please know that your prayers and blessings are treasures that carry me far across the sky to the land between the seas, to Gyumri with its stone cobbled streets and long golden afternoons.

Thank you for your time.

Thank you for considering the whole of our lives as our creative expression.

Thank you for arguing with me.

Thank you for sending me emails.

Thank you for sending me letters.

Thank you for sending care packages for Armenia.

Thank you for living your lives fully awake to the beauty of a long cotton line of pinned socks drying in the sunshine. How our lives line up like that sometimes. How there is also beauty in the tousled, disordered chaos of a teenager’s bedroom. How that is a metaphoric expression of a human trying to make sense of who they are becoming.

Thank you for being a witness to rising forth.

Much love to you each.







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