Summer Listening

Listening to the goldfinches in the chestnut tree, I made this flower mandala for you

My offering for August 4, 2019 Great Barrington MA 50 Marigolds for El Paso and Dayton

Since I wrote last, summer has settled onto our laps. Peach juice drips down our chins while listening to bees dance in the oregano blossoms. We weather another round of horror in the US. Somehow, we live in the conflicting feelings of grief and sadness while marveling how the marigolds mirror the sun.

Summer is a time of listening.

The garden takes my attention, gives me a tick bite or two to worry over, and fills my senses with lily-perfumed afternoons. My ears are tuned to the chomping jaws of the deer who love the hostas and begonias so very much. I taught for a week at the International Women’s Writing Guild at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. Then, I traveled to work with my teacher Joy making books and ritual. Now, I am preparing for Backyard Art Camp, for more books and more ritual. Camp meets in less than three weeks in my backyard in Great Barrington.


At the pace of summer, time slows so listening happens more

Summer allows me time to meet people in person whom I otherwise know online. I get to wander under tree-lined paths with friends talking about where we’ve come in the year since we were last together. I soak up the brilliance of the new ideas burning in their hearts. With time for listening I am inspired, even now, when there is so much difficult in the world.

My friend Alison talked about her work, about how we must “be contagious,” which, to me, as an instigator of daily creative practice, is about the best thing I heard all year.

I aim to be contagious. I think of my work infecting you with a desire to do your own. This is the lifeblood of Rising Forth.

The 100 Day Project concluded in early July too.

This was a keen experiment for me in daily practice. I committed to making a small painting of a tree every single day for 100 days in my journal. Yes, I already show up in my journal daily, what’s the big deal?

It was a big deal for me, on an increasing level, to tune in to one aspect of my environment every day. I learned more about trees during those 100 days, read poems and books about trees, and simply stood in wonder at the shapes trees take on the earth, standing so resolutely wherever they root. They weather years of time, and still, trees exude unique beauty.

Listening to trees took the shape of 100 small paintings

which I posted on my Instagram feed. I heard people say, “I am intrigued by the 100 Day Project, but I have no idea what to do for 100 days.” This made me curious about how to support listening to our own attention. In February 2020, I will offer a self-guided class for people who want to listen to what is calling for their attention for 100 days. Stay tuned.


I also listened to my friend Wendy, who has studied with me online in the Powder Keg Writing Workshops for Women, about how important these posts are to her and to others. There is something rather stunning about this, like I should not get so grand about my work. But if I didn’t see and know the difference daily creative practice makes in the lives of so many humans, I would not be able to accept this compliment with thanks to the deliverer.

Listening to the US Women's Soccer team win, I got obsessed by Megan Rapinoe's stance. It is the new Goddess pose.

At IWWG, we coined a new Goddess pose, inspired entirely by the US Women’s Soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Try it for yourself! It is better than the Superwoman pose! photo credit: Marisa Moks-Unger

Listening to music in the Berkshires

This weekend, Jonathan and I heard two different singing duos, women who are social change makers. Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow of Emma’s Revolution played at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and MaMuse played over in Beacon, New York. Both of these groups sing about light and the earth and water and people and peace. They each ask and answer hard questions with fervent devotion through song.


“Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.

Sometimes the way in is a song.”

-Linda Hogan

The Way In

from Rounding the Human Corners Coffeehouse Press 2008


It is a joy to join with women like this, to know that we are each making the change we hope to see in the world. Yes, there are thousands of fires to put out in this world, thousands of pains to ease, thousands upon thousands of hearts to mend, millions of stories as yet untold.


But the beginning begins to make a difference.


You tell your story, you tell it somewhere where someone else can hear it, (a letter sent to a friend? Your story recorded for Story Corps? You decide to join a writing group at your library and start to read your work aloud?)

and you immediately set another voice free.

Because we know that “if she can, then I can.”

My friend Jan Philips always says that, and I know it more than ever. If my beloved poetry mentor Myra Shapiro can have a poem published in the New Yorker in mid-July, then maybe I can have something published this year. If my dear mate Sara Nolan can have a piece in the Family section of the New York Times this past week, then maybe I can too. If Pat and Sandy can sing for peace with the Dalai Lama, then maybe the work I do in Armenia will continue to root goodness for women in that country.


We don’t know until we get moving.


“Chance favors those in motion.”

-James H. Austin


Summer is a time for motion. We witness small seeds taking root. We see the ways children grow so clearly in the summer when coats are shed, and belly buttons appear. How tall they are!

These kids/sunflowers/ideas/grantproposals/recipes/paintings/poems/toddlers/morningglories/fruittrees/sandcastles/marketingvisions/booktours/shesheds have taken root!


Whatever sense there is to be made on this Sunday afternoon, I hope that what you find here feeds you. Let me know in the comments that you’ve stopped in. Leave me a sentence or two about the motion you notice in your life this summer.

There are three open seats for Backyard Art Camp. If that calls you, go here for details.

This fall, I will teach a free book arts class at the Mason Public Library on Saturday, September 23. Go here to register.

I plan to return to Armenia in October. If you want to stay up to date with the New Illuminations artist residency in Gyumri, Armenia, please join this mailing list which is solely for that project.

Then, Sunday, December 1, Advent Dark Journal will meet again with in-person, online, & email options available.


Until then, find me in under the oak, looking up.




PS Listening to Myra read her poem is so dear.

PPS Here is the song I keep singing from MaMuse.

PPPS Here is the song I love love love from Emma’s Revolution.

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Showing 12 comments
  • Daniel Jenkins

    Hiya Suzi! Love your power pose! And all of the lovely healing thoughts and quotes. A bright summer indeed in your backyard….! xoxox

    • Suzi

      Hugs and love to you DHJ. Your ears must’ve been burning this weekend. I would so love to sing with you, to hear you play some love songs. I’d love to share some summer days with you and K. xoS

  • Julie Bond Genovese

    You are absolutely contagious with love and creative pizazz 🦋 Your flower mandalas make me swoon 🌺🌼Loving you, sitting under sister oak 🌳🌸🌿

    • Suzi

      Oh Joolz! How can we circle so closely and yet not see each other? I hope all is well under your oak tree. Miles of summer love to you. xoS

  • Darlene J Marmol

    Love it all! You create wonder and I wonder what’s next! I’m waiting patiently until August 9th for my Rapinoe soccer shirt. I love the power woman pose … my daily practices are inspired by your daily practices and as I hear your words, I play with my own. Thanks for all of this. My Sarah Nicholson blessed me by introducing me to you and I hope to pay it forward. ♥️

    • Suzi

      Send a photo of you in that jersey! I may need one myself! You are with us in the circle at Camp Darlene. Forever and always. xoS

  • Karen Fain

    Oh my goodness, you just made my morning! So much richness here! I started out with the Mamuse songs…thanks for reminding me of the beauty that surrounds me by sharing the beauty that surrounds you. Love the way you captured your trees & think the work you are doing in the world is more vital than ever. You ARE published, yup. Thanks & see you soon at BAC.

    • Suzi

      Yes, we will sing one of those songs at Camp. Isn’t it true, that singing together weaves a special fiber of connection? See you soon Karen! xoS

  • Evelyn Asher

    Suzi, Everything about your post is incredibly rich with substance and inspiration. I was fascinated by your #100days project focused on trees, inspired to leave my gel pens in a more welcoming spot to draw a few of my own in my journal. I look forward to learning more about deeper art experiences and community you build and supporting your New Illuminations project in ways that I can. Know that your inspiration extends longevity for those of us in our Third Act.

    • Suzi

      Dearest Evelyn, Thank you for all your kind generosity in sharing my posts with your friends. It means the world to me. That 100 Day project really sparked a host of ideas and cracked open new ways of looking at daily practice for me. I hope you are settling in to your new place. Have you ever read Judith Duerk’s book, Circle of Stones? I found a copy at the library and it made me think of you. With love, S

  • Nancy McMillan

    I, too, find your posts ripe and juicy and inspiring. Your deep committmme to your creative practice is a steady light in the harbor.
    And I love the contagious!

    • Suzi

      Oh thank you Nancy! I am so glad you find sustenance here. I send you miles of summer inspiration and comfort. xooxS