Slice of Life – Paying Attention this Year

23 January 2024

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.”

Poetry Friday – Cherish

Today is Poetry Friday. Robyn has a delightful post about my favorite beverage, TEA.

Cherish is my word of the year. I just spent a week with my daughter and grandson at our home, cherishing every moment because they seem all too few.

Milo and I were playing a game in the picture above. Every time he slapped my Cherish rock, I would say “Bwue.” When he tapped my husband’s Explore rock, I would say, “Gumbo.” He composed little rhythms, like “Bwue, bwue, bwue, gumbo, bwue, gumbo, bwue, gumbo, bwue, bwue, bwue…” It was a favorite game of the week.

We had fun climbing rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.

And wearing hats and a million other things, as he had fun with everything he came across. I was exhausted when they left, but I was satisfied that I truly cherished each moment I had with him.

Ethical ELA’s Open Write begins tomorrow. Check out the prompts Saturday through Wednesday this week!

Friday is the third day of The Stafford Challenge. It was founded by Brian Rohr, storyteller and poet. We will write a poem a day, inspired by William Stafford, who had a daily poem-writing practice for decades. (One of Stafford’s famous poems is “Traveling through the Dark.”) The Challenge started on Wednesday, January 17, the anniversary of Stafford’s birth. Last evening in a Zoom meeting, his son, Kim Stafford, inspired us to have a daily writing challenge that includes four things: the date, a diary (boring prose of the day), an aphorism, and a poem. I’m going to give it a try this year focusing on my local environment. Here’s Thursday’s poem.

Lovely desert holds life, like this
little hedgehog cactus that counts its
blessings, holding onto hope in the
whispering cleft of boulders. Ready
to grow, even when soil is sparse.
Life calls to life,
that it won’t be stopped. Like the cactus
You are beauty and promise, and you
won’t be sorry if you
give it your all in living fully. Drink
up your fill of grace this fine day.

A Golden Shovel poem from Jeannette Encinias’ “Begin Again” that was sent in her email today. “Lovely little blessings. Whispering to life that you won’t give up.” 

Writing this poem also reminded me of the poem Kat Apel wrote for me a couple summers ago. Read “How to Be a Cactus” here.