5 & 6 DFABW – Humility and Empathy – Slice of Life

6 September 2022 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Lately I’m working with my sister every day. We are making some changes to our cabin in the desert. A pass-through window into the kitchen with a breakfast bar, a tile floor and, in process right now: a new pantry and cabinet to extend our kitchen. It has been so interesting to work so closely with her in brand new areas. My sister is a builder, and I’m enjoying learning so much from her, as her assistant. Of course, my husband is part of the process too. Tools have always been his department, but now I’m learning the names of all of them and even how to use power tools–a variety of saws, belt sander, and drill.

My husband and I are both finding and exercising new strengths in this adventure. Some of my husband’s many strengths: Muscles–when something big or heavy needs lifting, he is there. Shopping–when we discover something missing, he makes yet another trip to Home Depot. Nurturing and caring–He keeps my sister filled with his own version of a frappuccino and both of us with ice tea, sparkling water, and other delicious hydration methods. He fixes lunch (yesterday: Impossible burgers and corn on the cob) and dinner (yesterday: tostadas).  He seems to always know when we need a break for homemade soft serve chocolate-peanut butter-banana ice cream. Availability–whenever and whatever we ask for, he comes and helps. Often he creates a new way, breaks the too-tight bolt, finds the right tool, etc.

These words are a sweet guide in this new work I find myself in–humility, empathy, and curiosity. Here is a found poem from an article I read today:

The Beautiful Triad
A found poem

Humility is the soil of knowledge.
I don’t know.
Humility is the soul.

Curiosity is the water that helps it grow.
I want to know.
Curiosity is the mind.

Empathy is the sunlight that shows us which way to bend.
I know how you feel.
Empathy is the heart.

Source: The Beautiful Triad — Curiosity, Humility, and Empathy


During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Yesterday’s word was Humility. Today’s word is Empathy. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

30-33 DFABW – Zest, Shero, Team, Wonder

Zest in living and creating can make one a
Shero, willing to use her heart and strength to
Team up with the less zesty and creative, adding
Wonder to the world

I wrote those words about my sister, who is my shero in this home improvement journey I am on. She is amazing. I just watch her handiwork in awe and help wherever I can.  Here’s what we’ve been doing the last four days, which kept me from my Dictionary for a Better World.

Floors Before
Floors today

During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. The last four days’ words were Zest, Shero, Team, and Wonder. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

Poetry Friday – Poetry Swap with Jone Rush MacCulloch

What fun the poetry swap was this summer. I was able to fit three of them into my schedule. The first one was with Tabatha: I wrote about it here. Today I’m writing about Jone’s poetry swap. My third poetry swap is coming late to Mary Lee Hahn. (She should get it tomorrow.)

Here are the lovely gifts of poetry I received from Jone. Have you had a chance to read Jone’s Solace in Nature book? It does provide solace! The photos and words are joyful, lilting, and comforting. (It was the latest and last Sealy Challenge book I read in August; I’ve been too busy with home improvement projects.)

Look at this journal Jone created with a photo from Ireland and a poem she wrote. So lovely, and I was just about in need of a new journal.

Finally, as a fellow tea lover, she sent these teas, including these special ones from Portland. I’m drinking a cup of #54 right now as I write this post.

Jone wrote about our poetry swap a couple of weeks ago here.

Thank you to Linda B. at Teacher Dance for hosting Poetry Friday today.

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Community

Community.

Since I moved from Bahrain eight months ago, my community has changed so much. I left a supportive community that began in the late 1800’s and has proceeded through more than a century of service and fellowship. The history is rich and valued there. The love for God and people was palpable. I was loved and supported in all my areas of life by the Muslims, Hindus, and Christians I worked and lived with.

Since I returned, my community has been limited to my family members who are close and online writing communities. We have not attempted to find a local church community yet, and sometimes I wonder if I will even do so. Yesterday I had dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s house. Another sister was there too. We laughed, talked, swam in their pool, and ate shrimp scampi and homemade apple pie from apples that grew in their yard last fall. It was a delightful evening. I am tickled that I get to live near my siblings again, after living apart for more than forty years. So, for me, community has changed a lot, but it is still good.

This morning, I read a fascinating opinion piece today by Michael Gerson at The Washington Post. It’s called “Trump Should Fill Christians with Rage. How Come He Doesn’t?” I found especially compelling the history of first century Palestine and its parallels to today’s society. A quote in the article jumped out at me, since I had not written this post yet. It was part of his answer to the question asked in the title of the opinion: “It has been said that when you choose your community, you choose your character.” I decided to use this quote to write a golden shovel poem about my best friend I left in Bahrain.

For Vinolia

It has been too long since I saw you and quite awhile since we’ve talked.
Has Janna had a great beginning to the school year? You all have
been on my mind. I miss our ready chats. I
said we could get together and deal with the curriculum
that the church school will soon need.
When does that work for you?
You can let me know. How did we
choose to go to Bahrain anyway?
Your land and my land were thousands of miles apart, yet
community was waiting for us in the Middle East.
You came north; I came east. Did we
choose to be friends? Or were we chosen?
Your friendship has built my spirit and
character, and I think you would say the same. Love you!

Thank you, Maureen, for hosting this month’s Spiritual Journey Thursday.

31 DFABW – Exercise

Today I exercised–not “a new form of exercise” as Irene asks us to try. Instead, I went bike riding, which is my go-to form of exercise for the last three months. Here is a Blitz poem.

Ride a bike
Ride the wind
Wind pushes
Wind rushes
Rushes me along
Rushes to challenge
Challenge of lungs
Challenge of muscles
Muscles growing
Muscles showing
Showing up now
Showing hope
Hope in strength
Hope to ride far
Far up the mountain
Far through the washes
Washes full of sand
Washes over my body
Body of strength
Body of courage
Courage to go fast
Courage to improve
Improve the gearing
Improve the handling
Handling the hills
Handling the rocks
Rocks hidden on the road
Rocks loose and unstable
Unstable but achievable
Unstable but I am
Am a wanderer
Am a mountain biker
Biker of freedom
Biker of exercise
Exercise of stamina
Exercise of heart
Heart of the scene
Heart of nature
Nature of color
Nature of wonder
Wonder of flora
Wonder of fauna
Fauna of beauty
Fauna of creation
Creation to savor
Creation to enjoy
Enjoy this life
Enjoy this living
Living
Life

On another note, this November we can all exercise our right to vote.

A handwritten postcard Volunteer Betty encouraging voting for Democrats in November

During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Today’s word is Exercise. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

30 DFABW – Compassion and a Slice of Remodeling Life

30 August 2022 TwoWritingTeachers.org

Each day I enjoy reading just a page or two in Dictionary for a Better World. Today’s word was Compassion. When I read the page and saw Irene’s tender poem about two young girls’ compassion for their sick mother, I was touched. Here is a picture of the beautiful poem and artwork.

Today’s word reminded me of a text message I got yesterday that I had ignored last night. It was from Sandy Hook Promise. They were asking me to donate again to help them reach their back-to-school fundraising goal. This morning, after reading Irene’s poem, I thought about parents who have lost children to gun violence, and I had a renewed commitment to at least donate to this fundraising drive.

On the remodeling front:

August 12 – Before
August 30 – Today! Not finished, but on the way!

During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Today’s word is Compassion. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

26-29 DFABW – Equality, Freedom, Mindfulness, Netiquette

Oh, my, it’s been four days of Dictionary for a Better World words, and I have not even opened the book until today. I’ve been busy helping lead an online workshop in the mornings and working on my house in the afternoons. Today we painted two walls, and that was all. I had a little extra time to come here.

There is primer so far on this patched wall–but the window is in!

Equality and EquityI enjoyed reading this article today. Both important words.

Freedom – I have the freedom to just read Irene’s anecdote and poem today. Sweet!

Mindfulness – a tanka

coyote crosses
sleek, lean, bushy tail, busy
looking for breakfast
What will it be today, friend?
I’ll wait while I stare at you.

Regarding Netiquette, on the Internet, I try to have good manners and be “civil to all” as Benjamin Franklin said in a quote today on page 67 in DFABW.  This list of Netiquette rules my students and I created a whopping 11 years ago seem quaint now.


During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.  Friday’s word was Equality, Saturday’s was Freedom, Sunday’s was Mindfulness, and today’s word is Netiquette. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.

25 DFABW – Forgiveness

I went to a state university
in the 1970s 
It was tuition-free,
Just $100 a semester
student fees are all I paid,
which included access to
a health center

Now we are talking about
forgiveness today
student loan forgiveness

complex
explosive
uncertain
inequitable
volatile
unfair
reckless
yes
probably

but also
game-changing
opening opportunities
families and future
to give families
breathing room

now let’s work
to fix the system
more affordable options
stop predatory lending
outrageous tuition costs

Forgiveness
Yes, please


Found poem from “Biden student loan action ignites  instant political battles” August 25, 20222 (The Washington Post)


During each day in the months of August and September, I am responding to a different word from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.  Today’s word is Forgiveness. A small group of people wanting to make the world a better place are reading and responding together. Join us! Visit Common Threads: Patchwork Prose and Verse by Kim Haynes Johnson for more information. Here is the word list I’ll be following for August and September.