Slice of Life – Paying Attention this Year

23 January 2024 TwoWritingTeachers.org

I’ve missed this community the last few weeks, and I am glad you are here faithfully each week. This year my special word of the year is cherish. (I wrote about it here and here.) I want to pay attention to the joys and sorrows and slices of life that I so often miss. Maybe that’s why it’s hard for me to write these Slice of Life posts on Tuesdays.

Anyway, I have joined The Stafford Challenge this year. Kim Stafford, poet and son of William Stafford, suggested a daily writing practice where you include the date, a diary (boring prose of the day), an aphorism, and a poem. Every single day. He said when people suggest his father was a genius and they couldn’t do what he did. (Write a poem every day for decades–he wrote over 20,000 poems from during WWII until his death.) Kim said he responds that maybe his father had a genius process that all of us can use. Look at all the healing with poetry that could happen if more people would take up this genius process. Anyway, that’s what I am trying in 2024.

Here’s today’s writing page. A mess, but that’s what they tend to look like for me.

Today’s poem…

The first thing I noticed about you is that
most of your words and actions show how
important and smart you seem to think you are…yet
part of me sees myself in you. I have a fear
of giving myself too. Being vulnerable in my/
(your need) is not easy for me (and you.) It’s been our
life. My fear
is masquerading as pride. You didn’t know just
ahead of you was something you needed help holding–a fear
of your son’s health–he was sick, living in his car, with guns–
you worried. Where is his dog? He’s
not well, you knew, but his next message was garbled. He’s
behind on his prescriptions. We let go.
You cried and we held each other and prayed.


A golden shovel from a David Brooks’ quote “The most important part of your life is ahead of you, not behind you.”

9 thoughts on “Slice of Life – Paying Attention this Year

  1. Denise,
    I miss you when you’re not here in this space and have contemplated texting you and nudging you to blog. I also wrote about Kim Stafford’s process, which has enriched my viewing of both your notebook page and your poem, which is so very heartbreaking in parts. Reading the end shows such vulnerability and forced me to return to the beginning, which changed my perspective from my first reading. Anyway, every day I discover more bloggers and poets I know who have also joined the Stafford Challenge.

  2. I had no idea this was a challenge that existed! Thank you for sharing the formula and your writing. I’m sad the deadline has passed but look forward to more about your experience.
    I’m reading David Brooks newest book now!

  3. So much naked honesty in this golden shovel. “my/your need is not easy for me and you.” I’m glad I stopped by your blog last Friday. Like Glenda, I miss you when you’re away. (I have great friends, a couple who struggles with a similar burden. You have given me insight into what they must be feeling.)

  4. There are so many parents with hearts full of worry for their children, trying to support, praying for the right turn to happen for their child. Your poem is full of love and caring; such a lovely write after journaling – it’s as if you wrote to understand more fully.
    I, too, am participating in the Stafford Challenge – though I am not on social media, so there are aspects of it I will miss. “Look at all the healing with poetry that could happen if more people would take up this genius process.” – yes!

  5. I appreciated seeing your notebook page with your writing for the challenge today. It helped remind me that writing doesn’t need to be perfect but it is more important to get the words out.

  6. Thank you for your very moving poem. Poetry is so powerful in its ability to convey our deepest thoughts and feelings. We never know what others carry, but I will add my prayers to yours in hope of healing. I love the line you chose for your golden shovel.

  7. Denise, wow! The faith that parenthood requires is so evident here in your poem, in real life, in every day. Pray is my one little word for the second year in a row, all because that is what I do to be able to step out the door into the world and face the realities. Seeing your handwriting adds an extra special touch to the poetry. I am so glad you are here and also taking part in the Stafford Challenge.

  8. A mother’s love and worry never ends, and you’ve expressed this in your heartfelt poem. I have not heard of the Stafford Challenge and am beginning to think I’m missing my daily journal writing, so while I can’t participate in this year’s challenge this is a push for me to check it out and get back to writing daily in my journal. Thank you 🙂

  9. I’m along for the Stafford challenge ride, too! The “genius” of daily practice is something I can totally get behind!! My poems are mostly cherita and I’m archiving them in my stories on IG (and in a collection on my profile page).

    Thank you for sharing your page and your heart. Your poem is wrenching, but so filled with love. Kind of like life, right?

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