Oops!

My writing practice has been sporadic and lacking commitment my whole life. One possible culprit, which I look at as an  “Oops!” is when I destroyed a few years worth of my journals early in my twenties.

Why?

I was embarrassed someone would read them. I’m not sure anyone would have been patient enough to read through the drivel, but I was scared they would.

Now, I look back and think I would like to read them again, especially after so many more life experiences.

Back when they were written, I was a new Christian and dating and breaking up with my future husband. I would have never believed a few years later he was going to turn out to be my husband of 38 years and counting.

Now, I would like to see what I wrote about him.

That probably started my semi-unexamined life’s journey. Of course, my life has been well worth living. It’s been a delightful journey. I believe I have grown and developed through many of my mistakes, but I do wish I had kept more journal entries.

I have continued to toss out occasional journals over the years since, but a few writing successes along the way include:

  • I journaled during my pregnancies and the first year of both my daughter’s lives. As the children grew, though, I wrote less in their journals. When I was a mother of young children, and then later when I became a full-time teacher and mother to school-age children, I did not take much time to write. The stresses of life and exhaustion kept me from the page.
  • For the past eleven years, I have used, very sporadically the website 750Words.com. I have written nearly a quarter of a million words–237,845, to be exact. That is not that many over eleven years, but there is some truth there.  I just went to the page after being away for a year and half, and I downloaded the entries I made. Much drivel, to be sure. However, I stumbled upon one gut-punch entry about a nightmare I had, but how it turned out to shed light on how I had hurt one of my students. Now, I had not remembered the dream or the pain I had caused that child, but reading it took me back and makes me want to be better. That’s some examination I need more of.
  • The third success is that since Covid came, I kept a book of journal entries and daily jots in my weekly planner. I felt like it would be good to capture this pandemic as it was happening day-by-day. I also created a Covid-19 time capsule with my students last spring. I interviewed my children and had my husband write a letter to me.
  • Finally, I have been a fairly consistent blogger, which has helped me to write, record, examine, and develop my writing over the past twelve years. In addition, it has helped me to develop friendships with people all over the world who are also writing about learning, life, and education. Blogging led me to meet Gallit Zvi, and we wrote The Genius Hour Guidebook together, so that was fun. Lately I’ve been writing poetry with the Ethical ELA and Poetry Friday communities, the Slice of Life on Tuesdays, and now here is the Sharing Our Stories Magic group I just discovered too.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

This post is inspired by Connor Toomey’s prompt on The Isolation Journals: “What interrupts your writing practice? What keeps you from the page?”

Dodoitsu for “This Photo”

Today is the day Margaret Simon posts a photo each week for “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem.” Today, I also read Carol Varsalona’s Slice of Life post with flower wreaths and bringing nature inside. She wrote a dodoitsu on that post, as well. I read Donnetta Norris’s Poetry Friday post with two dodoitsu poems. I tried one here with this photo giving me the inspiration:

 

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I appreciate the beautiful photos Margaret shares–sometimes her own and something from friends with beautiful Instagram accounts to follow. I had never noticed elderflowers before, even though I grew up in southern California, where I read that they grow. Margaret’s poem taught about the medicinal value of the elderflower. I went to do a little more research on these beautiful flowers. I learned that Meghan and Harry had a lemon and elderflower wedding cake. I tried a dodoitsu, which is a four-line poem, no meter or rhyme constraints, with a syllable count of 7-7-7-5, and the poem can be about love or work with a comical twist. (Oops, I hope you don’t think my last line is funny.)

Elderflowers like snowflakes
What will each bud grow to be?
Spirits for a new pastry?
Stem to grace a grave.

Slice of Life – End of a Chapter

Slice of Life on TwoWritingTeachers.org 8 June 2021

Today I did one of the last things I will need to do as a teacher at my school. I spent three hours in my room for a final cleaning and organizing blitz. It’s been since February 2020 that I had spent any significant time there. Over the past year and a quarter, I have stopped in occasionally to grab something, but that’s it.

I spent some time today with the teacher who replaced me this year. She had end-of-the-year paperwork to complete, which included listing the resources in her classroom. It was sadly ironic, though, because she hasn’t had this or any classroom this year. She and I looked through the materials, and I identified the resources she needed to be aware of if school ever goes back to anything pre-Covid-like.

I then spent the next 2.5 hours pulling things out of closets and looking through supplies I had neglected for years!  Two cupboards in particular had not received any attention when we stopped teaching in person.

I quickly made a mess!

Too many times I said, “Oh, there is ______!” (that hammer my husband’s been looking for; my hot glue gun; that new journal Fatima gifted me, etc., etc., etc.)  I ended up carrying four bags home for a variety of purposes–to return things to people I borrowed them from, to give away to friends I know will appreciate them, to add to my own supplies from things I purchased and still needed, a book to read, and a few things to repair or work on that will go back to school.

29.7 pounds (I weighed these beasts because it seemed I carried 50 pounds home!)

I told myself I would not bring any more than I could carry in one trip, and I managed to do that. I carried all four bags for the several blocks home, with a few breaks to set it down and rest. (How does that weight thing work? I’ve lost 30 pounds in the last year, and today I felt I needed Super-Woman-strength as I carried an extra thirty pounds home. When I had that extra 30 pounds on my bones and not in my hands, I didn’t even notice it. Hmmm….)

Four bags of trash–just trash–came out of those closets.
That’s better! Ready for the new teacher to organize and go through.

A chapter closed today.

Thoughts on Poetry Friday

This week I’ve been struck by all the small images, memories, and moments that inspire poetry for me and others. In “Supple Cord,” Naomi Shihab Nye remembered and shared this sweet childhood ritual linking her with her brother.

Supple Cord

My brother, in his small white bed,
held one end.
I tugged the other
to signal I was still awake.
continued

Margaret Simon is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today. I have been inspired to write beside Margaret many times over  the past year. Inspired here by “Zen Tree” and here by “Peep Eye”, and so many times at Ethical ELA, like here and here for two. I will be going back to her “Today’s Poem” again for inspiration, the poem that “gazes beyond the trees imagining…”

Margaret‘s “This Photo Wants to Be a Poem” has been a fun challenge and further inspiration for me lately. On Wednesdays, Margaret posts a photo, and others write a small collection of poems about one image–each always unique, with rich imagery that goes deep into the photo. Each person interprets and sees something beautiful. This week the image was of a bird’s nest in the garden at Margaret’s school. I was impressed with her student, Kaia, who wrote a letter to the superintendent to get improvements made in the garden for next year. Thank you, Margaret, for encouraging Kaia’s voice! I don’t think there is much more important work teachers do than making space for children to recognize, develop, and use their voice.  (Of course, I do acknowledge that teaching history, civics, reading and critical thinking skills to know how to use that voice is vital, as well.) Here’s the poem I wrote copy-pasted here. It wasn’t about the bird nest photo, but about Kaia and Ms. Simon who assessed the garden after a long dormant Covid season.

Kaia’s voice

A voice can be
a power displayer
a truth conveyer
a path lighter
a garden inviter
a hardship remover
a world improver
Your voice can be

In addition, I wrote a sestina this week inspired by Liz’s post last Friday. Afterwards, I was searching for different poetry form generators. This one is the best I found for the sestina; it’s by Rena Mosteirin, which comes compete with the code. Here are two more good poetry form generators for Pantoum and Villanelle.

Speaking of generators: I ran across this interesting Poem Generator, so I gave it a try. It’s like writing a Mad Lib poem. The first time I wrote silly things with answers that came to me as soon as I saw the prompt, as they suggested. The second time I tried it with words that made me think of peace.  I actually thought the second one sounded like a bit poetic.

Rorschach Poem

creep home
know Houlihan’s to try sunny late afternoon
ceiling fan getting dark
an owl is deep wide

I would go home if I am without gasoline

somebody a cowboy
stalking you.

Peace in Knowing

whisper home
live for wide sky to sip sweet dawn
heavens shining
a dove is slow and deep

Bring peace if I need a hand

somebody helper
reaching you.

Here is an invitation for you to write poetry with the Ethical ELA community. On June 13 there will be an introductory meeting for anyone who wants to learn more, and an open mic/writing hour afterwards. Click on the images below for more information. June’s Ethical ELA Open Write will be June 19-23 this month.

Today’s Poetry Friday post is hosted by Margaret Simon over at Reflections on the Teche.

Spiritual Journey Thursday – Gratitude

Spiritual Journey Thursday for June 2021, hosted by Ruth

My one word for 2021 is Gratitude. In 2021 my goal was to say thank you more often–to God and to people.

I wrote about it here and here, and this poem in January with Stacey Joy and the Open Write group at Ethical ELA.

One Word 

Gratefully
I open the letter
ever-flowing and
breathed by you

Gratitude
for love,
life,
learning

Gratefully
I sit at the seashore
and chew on the manna

Gratitude
for sustaining,
up-ending,
building

Gratefully
Gratefully
Gratefully

Welcoming the
flow of justice,
ever-flowing justice

I started this Spiritual Journey Thursday post the other morning because I wanted to join in this monthly group that Margaret Simon had told me about, and that Ruth is hosting this month. This Gratitude post was on my mind when my husband said something sweet today.

I made Mexican food for lunch–fajitas, black beans, homemade salsa and tortillas. It was yummy. Then, soon after we ate, I needed to get ready for a tutoring session.

When he realized it was time for me to get on my Zoom meeting, he began to put away leftovers and do the dishes, saying, “I’ll finish this lunch project now–with a heart full of gratefulness, taste buds dancing in my mouth, and a full tummy.” (I took a minute to jot it down!) This is just one snapshot of this man who has been a role model of gratefulness during our marriage.

Gratitude doesn’t come quite as easily for me, but I’m practicing this year. That’s why it became my one little word. This Epiphany tree, which I put up on the day after the insurrection on January 6, continues to light up my house this June and probably will all year!

The painting of my one word Gratitude is there, as well, to remind me to say thank you–for an amazing husband, our 38th anniversary coming up, God who forgives me in my selfish sufficiency, health care providers, scientists, governments trying their best to solve a novel crisis with limited resources, my health and home, vaccinations, my fine black gel pen, a new president for the U.S., my blog and being able to write and record thoughts and feelings, Kindle books read and waiting to be read, healthy food, clean water, my daughters and their husbands, Jesus who makes life a joy, and so much more.

 

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