Energy Multipliers

Energy Multipliers

    • Walking briskly indoors (or outdoors when the weather permits)
    • Sipping a pot of karak tea
    • Finishing a good book
    • Creating something
    • Chatting with a friend
    • Writing, writing, writing
    • Communicating with my husband
    • Cooking something delicious
    • Baking cookies

One line that goes through many of my energy multipliers is that I love being productive. That’s why cooking, baking, reading, writing, creating, and walking all end with an accomplishment–something I can say I made or finished.

Good communication is also a value, especially deepening one-on-one and small group relationships.

I noticed there is just one thing that has me sitting quietly alone. Sipping tea. I love to drink tea, especially spicy, sweet, milky karak tea. However, even though it is on my list of multiplying energy, I am not usually doing it only. I am typically multitasking–reading, writing or working on my computer. while I sip. So, is it really an energy multiplier or just something I love to drink?

Today is Day 187 in Bahrain’s Covid time, Prompt 107 for The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Her prompt(s) today:

Your prompt for the week:
What multiplies your energy? Write these in list form and tack them to the wall above your desk.

Bonus Prompt:
Reflect on the throughline between all of these things. What is it they do for you? What qualities do they share?

Back to School

Today’s Slice of Life at

School started this week. There is a lot of stress. Challenges from the Ministry of Education. Lack of official information about what the beginning of the school year will look like. Daily policy changes and postponements on training to learn what we are supposed to do with blended learning. We seem to all be new teachers this year. Another big chunk of my stress is that it was my last first day of school here is Bahrain. I actually have not signed my contract for this year. I’m just filling in while Covid-19 gets under control enough for the new teacher to arrive. We are partner teaching, her in Michigan and me here to be the proxy teacher for the in-person portion.

Today was the third day of school and the first day that I didn’t bite someone’s head off. First it was from the shock, sadness and anger of seeing all the contents of my classroom sitting in the hallway. We had just found out that the teachers had been moved into staff rooms. Students will be assigned to just one room and stay there all day. Teachers will go to the students. I was assigned to a room with my elementary department. My old classroom had been assigned to a group of middle school teachers. There were five of us in each room–no room to take the contents of our old classrooms into our new office spaces.

“What am I supposed to do with all this stuff?” I asked, too emotionally. “Are you planning to bring all your stuff into your new staff room? All of you? How does that work? How can I take this into my staff room? You’ve all left your stuff in your rooms, right? Why do I alone have to take possession of all this fifth grade material? Never mind, I don’t even want it. Let’s just leave it here and let the children walk around it next Tuesday.” Yes, that kind of blah, blah, blah, gibberish came out of my mouth. I walked away and didn’t look back. It wasn’t any of their faults, but it happened because of some misunderstanding / miscommunication. All the materials eventually were put back into my room.

Strong Students. Strong Community?

Beginning the year, we got a “pep talk” from the board that wasn’t very peppy. Then we received these important “rules” to remember this year: “Keep people separate. Keep school clean.” OK, the clean school part is fine, but really? “Keep people separate”  made me so sad. How can we have school separately?

Today in the news there was a report about a possible new vote coming, that if passed, would keep students at home instead of blended learning. So we have that to add to our week. That all these plans and schedules might have to be redone again.

Our school motto is Strong Students. Strong Community. This chalkboard message, after a long summer, is above my desk in the new staff room. I noticed it today and it seemed like a metaphor for 2020.

A World in the Future

The Rise of the Good Garden

If I could spend the day with you in the Good Garden,
we would pick sun-kissed fruit and eat,
the juice dripping through our fingers,
down our forearms and
off our elbows for the ants to enjoy.
We would swim up waterfalls
to clean the sticky nectar off.
We would harvest leafy greens
and fleshy yellow vegetables for dinner.
We would sing praises to the Creator.
We would give names to another ten thousand insect species.
We would lie down with the wolf and the lamb,
and we would all rest well.
The leopard and goat would peacefully pause
under the olive tree.
The calf and the lion would go for a walk
with the first Child leading them.

The Fall

When it all began they were kept apart
But the most crafty and cagey creature
(for Goodness sake, why?)
took the good and stirred in the evil
Introduced Knowing right and wrong

That cunning creature asked
Really? Are you starving here? Don’t you get anything to eat?
No, I mean, yes, we eat. We eat
delicious, phenomenal
fruits and veggies…except…uh…
I mean…we don’t eat everything, exactly…
just…just not from that one tree in the middle…
Ahhh, they say that’s the best one.
No. I don’t think so. We’ll die if we eat.
Mwahahaha! Do you believe that lie?
Think for yourself. It will open your eyes. Be like Creator.

It does look delicious.

They ate.
They hid.
They hid their knowing.
They no longer knew only Good Garden.
They now also knew evil empire.
They spread their
to the rest of us.
We hide.

But Goodness calls,

“Where are you?”

Back to the Garden

Sent out of the garden we
were, and now swords and hatred are
our life’s stock and stardust

Waiting for the Messiah we
were, but preying and cursing are
becoming golden

Where are we?
Why are
we caught
between heaven and being in
hell of murderers and monsters–the devil’s
friends…Us? But God had made a covenant. A bargain
as it were. Jesus came and
Back to the garden we
are being drawn. Jesus got
hung to
death to get
the garden restored–It’s not ourselves
getting us back.
The world now has an open invitation to
dine at the tree of Life in the
New Good Garden.

Inspiration this week came from a sermon I listened to by Brian Zahnd:

“Back to the Garden” is a golden shovel poem, based on lines from Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock.

Today is Day 178 of the Covid-19 time in Bahrain, Prompt #105 in The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. The prompt, by Marie Howe, is to imagine a world we really want.


Today’s Slice of Life at

Today was one of those days. So many things going on, but nothing happened that motivated me to take pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard. So, instead, I’ll just tell a few of the random activities of my day.

It’s the five-day period at Ethical ELA called Open Write. Teacher-poets write poems each of the days and post them, commenting on each others. Today’s prompt was “The ‘Re’ in Relationships.” Andy Schoenborn challenged us to write a poem about reconnecting, reprioritizing, or reinvesting in a relationship of our choice.

I was not at all taken by the prompt today, so I looked for a form to try. I found something called Ae Freislighe and tried it. I tried writing about my dear friend who was the maid-of-honor at my wedding, but with whom I have been sorely out of touch. I would love to reminisce and laugh with her again in person.

An extrovert dynamo
You were my “dating” teacher
Showing me moves apropos
Did you ask, “how’ll I reach her?”

Standing up in our fun weddings
We’ve lived in many locales
Now, four decades’ unthreading
A chance to build our morales

Let’s spend the day together
Life’s big events we’ll compare
Is it foul or fair weather?
We won’t even be aware

From morning ‘til evening prayer
We will sit in the kitchen
Love and hate from anywhere
We will stoke each other’s bitchin’

However, I am not inspired at all about this prompt or my silly attempt. It’s just been a weird day for writing.

An update on my singing lessons. A month ago I signed up for Zoom singing lessons through our church skills classes. At the time I wasn’t even sure I would have courage to go to the first class. Now, tomorrow I will have my fifth and final lesson for this session. My teacher asked us to send a video of ourselves singing the song we chose (mine was Happy Birthday, but she did have me pick a second one so I wouldn’t get bored). The second song I’m singing is “Do, Re, Mi” from Sound of Music. I thought maybe I could learn more about notes by singing that song. Go figure. I didn’t really, but today I sent her a video of myself singing. It was painful. I can hear the mistakes, but I have no way to figure out how to tell my mouth, throat, diaphragm, lungs, whatever, to sing the correct notes. I have learned some good things, though. First, I have become braver. (I sent that video of me singing!!) Second, I have definitely learned some basics and improved my singing. Third, I learned that singing is work and good singing is a skill that people work hard at.

We are starting to work on getting ready to go back to school. I will actually be the substitute for the teacher who is replacing me. She can’t come to Bahrain yet, and I can’t leave due to Covid, so we are being partners. She’ll teach the online kids and I will teach the students who choose in-person instruction. But really, who knows what will happen between now and in two weeks when school is supposed to start.

I did have one success today in the kitchen. I surprised my husband with his favorite green curry with paneer. He said it was the best I’ve made so far.

August Open Write on Ethical ELA

15 August 2020
Indelible Moments with Emily Yamasaki

Image by esudroff from Pixabay

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
His ’67 truck was given to my mom
when Uncle Guy died
because Grandma didn’t drive
And had no use for it
A few years later our neighbor got a new camper

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
Their second-hand cabover camper
Became our home that summer
It was the hermit crab shell
our Chevy had been longing for
Though maybe still needing to grow into
Top-heavy in the wind
Barreling down the highway

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
I was still 16 years old that summer,
less than a year’s driving experience
And awfully unseasoned when it
Came to that extra ton on my back
We shook, rattled and rolled through
Deserts and over mountain passes

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
Aunt Josephine didn’t believe I was, though
She came with us for part of that trip and
Peeking through the crawl window in the truck cab,
Over her shoulder
She’d give my mom a play-by-play of my driving
Harassed Mom just wanted a rest while I took a turn
My shaggy-haired 14-year-old brother was my co-pilot

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
That summer we took a loop tour of the West–
California to Arizona to Utah,
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, B.C., Oregon
and back to California
And we did it all without incident or accident

I am the confident and careful driver, unaware of dangers
I wonder why I didn’t remember that when
My own girls learned to drive
When they took the wheel, I sat in the passenger seat
Digging my nails into the upholstery
Flinching when they got too close to the shoulder

Why did I become a confident and careful driver,
overly aware of dangers when I became the mom?

16 August 2020
Pantoum Poem to Hold a Worry by Emily Yamasaki
Each day I feel a battle over my thoughts. I can get lost in the bad news, or I can retain hope and God-ness in my life. Today, I had to write two poem containers to hold the battling thoughts within me. Inspiration came from a quote by St. Ignatius. “In the case of those who are making progress from good to better, the good angel touches the soul gently, lightly, sweetly, as a drop of water enters a sponge, while the evil spirit touches it sharply, with noise and disturbance, like a drop of water falling on a rock.” and from Psalm 36:5-6.

Everyday Thoughts, Part 1

Everyday thoughts
Screamers of doom
What will it be today?
Explosions at port

Screamers of doom
Racist rants of rancor
Explosions of violent virus
Disrupting, disturbing, distressing

Racists ranting revulsion
Water slapping a rock, noisily
Disrupting, distressing, disturbing
Confusing, jarring, upsetting

Water slamming the rock, violently
What will it be today?
Confusing, jarring, upsetting
Everyday thoughts

Everyday Thoughts, Part 2

Everyday thoughts
Justice like an ocean
What will it be today?
Love as limitless as the skies

Justice like an ocean
Grace, faith, hope and
Love as vast as the heavens
Joy, peace, and patience

Grace, faith, hope and love
Water soaking into a sponge, lightly
Joy, peace, and patience
Unfolding, permeating, spreading

Water saturating a sponge, sweetly
What will it be today?
Unfolding, permeating, spreading
Everyday thoughts

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay
CC BY 2.0 by mrsdkebs 

17 August 2020
“Weather” by Claudia Rankine with Andy Schoenborn


By Denise Krebs
(with the beginning and ending lines taken from Claudia Rankine’s “Weather”)

On a scrap of paper in the archive is
Written the sea surface temperature for August.
As usual it’s gone up.
Turns out
in a pandemic everyone
is without a healthy
Everything is an anomaly.
The Postal Service climate has long been
A ridge of high pressure
smashing our mail system
And the forests replete with fires
The Apple Fire cost $51 million
to beat it back to 90% contained
(thems a lot of apples)
Fires then moved on to other locales:
Hills, Lake, Red, Elk,
Hog, Whale,
USPS and more.
(dispatchers clip the names wisely
so they’ll be sure to save
for fires yet to fight)
Heavy rains and
Powerful thunderstorms this week in southern California
(Wait, it never rains in southern California)
Now it’s
with a chance of Postal trucks being towed away
Smoky with the burning of the
Constitution and
firenados of
ballots twisting into disenfranchisement
Low pressure trough of
on mailboxes
Greenhouse effect suffocating the
mail-sorting machines
Above average chance of
1000-year heatwave that will
sizzle and singe and annihilate the GOP
Breaking! Extreme weather alert:
Late summer storm of
stupidity and oleanders
being reported on the east coast.
I say weather but I
a November that won’t be held off. This
nothing, no one forgotten. We are here for the
blue tsunami
that’s storming because what’s taken

18 August 2020
The “Re” in Relationships with Andy Schoenborn

If I could spend the day with you,
we would work hard.
While we worked
we would recall stories about mama dogs having puppies,
the noises on Aunt Josephine’s farm,
and sneaking candy.
We would start at dawn
and drive to the end of the road
where no one lives
to feed the coyotes
the freezer-burned turkey
you’ve had since before Mom died.
We would paint a wall or two,
upholster that old chair on the back porch,
and haul the dinosaur of a ringer washing machine
to the Ranch House for decor.
While we work, we would drink iced tea
all afternoon until our back teeth floated,
but we wouldn’t stop to eat any lunch.
We would climb Abel’s Mountain
and I’d hold them while you wired the wings
onto the pterodactyl sculpture you are building.
When evening finally came,
we would come inside
and you would throw together
some incredible, decadent and unhealthy dinner
like nachos with extra cheese and avocado slices.
We’d dip them into the salsa
you whipped up last night at midnight.
Then we would watch the Democratic National Convention.
Afterwards, we’d go outside
and lie under the stars,
watching for remnants
of the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Tomorrow we would do it again,
same song, different verse.

19 August 2020
The Moment of Change with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

The Fall

Once upon a time they were kept apart
But the most crafty and cagey creature
(for Goodness sake, why?)
took the good and stirred in the evil
Introduced Knowing right and wrong

That cunning creature asked questions
Really? Are you starving here? Don’t you get anything to eat?
Oh, yes, we eat. We eat everything…except…uh…
I mean…not everything, exactly…
just…just not from that one in the middle…
Ahhh, they say that’s the best one.
No. I don’t think so. We’ll die.
Mwahahaha! Do you believe that lie?
Think for yourself. It will open your eyes. Be like Creator.

It does look delicious.

They ate.
They hid.
They hid their knowing.
They no longer knew only Good Garden.
They now also knew evil empire.
They spread their
to the rest of us.
We hide.

But Goodness calls,

“Where are you?”