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Category Archives: Writing

Leaving Home

I posted Taylor Mali’s poem, Undivided Attention, the other day and found my way to his website. He taught for several years in the New York City school system and he has lesson plans on the site. I tried one with the students that examines the difference between the literal and figurative on Thursday.

Mali posed provocative questions and students wrote short paragraphs. Examples of these questions are “What happens to the dreams you don’t remember?”; “Which letter of the alphabet is the most intelligent”; and “Do leaves look forward to falling in autumn? Or do they hand on for dear life?” Students struggled as one of the instructions was to not explicitly name the thing in the question. They were to artfully describe their letter, the leaves, or what happens to dreams and present them in figuratively and not literally. There was a lot of conversation and some writing.

I took matters into my hands and wrote a short paragraph. I wrote on the fly so the language is a bit passive and words i.e. visage were not the right ones. Visage is French for face so would not have glanced around. When I model, I find the students make more progress.

“He frantically clung to life fighting a losing battle against nature and her forces. At wit’s end, he valiantly, vainly hung on not submitting to a cyclical reality. He sensed loneliness and not solitude. Assisted by gentle breezes his discoloured visage glanced furtively around. He was in this alone. His colleagues humbly had moved on ahead of him finding their way to become humus and rebirth in the next spring. What to do now? He realized this was not the end he had planned for and took his leave that autumn day. His job done and he wafted towards his destiny.”

Today, I crafted this into a poem. The language is a little more active and I hid the topic. The answer is in the tags.

Frantically he clings to life,

He wages a futile battle versus Nature,

Against all her marshaled forces.

Valiantly, he struggles,

Unwilling to let go,

He wages this vain battle.

He senses loneliness;

His, a solitary stance–

Sans ally.

Today, a gentle breeze rustles only him;

His discoloured visage turns–

And, he glances furtively about.

Colleagues, long departed

Humbly headed home

They add a new, rich layer.

Silent humus and rebirth whispers,

Come, ready Mother Earth

Help prepare Her new garden.

Not the end he desired,

But, this past season’s calling is complete,

Wisdom speaks and he lets go.

Downward, he gently falls

And, his job is complete

Gracefully, he alights.

Thank You, A Simple Word

Yesterday, was a great day. We hung out, but, when I checked email, I found one that made my day. I submitted an article for publication several months ago and received notification yesterday it is going to be published. I am not sure of details such as the when, but, because it is peer-reviewed, it is important for my scholarly journey.

Yesterday, a radio interview I did several months ago as part of a series about servant-leadership, mindfulness, and their potential in education was broadcast. The interview is at Blog Radio. It is long, so do not feel obligated.

Sylvia Chidi wrote this poem about a word I occasionally forget to use, thank you. She described it as “a simple word that feels new.” When I wrote the article, it was a particularly difficult process, but many encouraged me and more will I am sure as I move forward. Kathy was essential to the process. She edits my work, but the article was in such disarray, I had to use a professional editor for the first time. Those advising me kept telling me I needed a softer voice in the article. I was not happy with all that, but the feedback received from the reviewers suggests a softer voice and professional help worked. I am grateful and it moves me along the road.

For all those who have encouraged me and those who are yet to.

Thank you, Thank you
A simple word that still feels new

All I want to hear from you is
Thank you, Thank you
Thank you for been so true
Thank you for kindness
Thank you for your love
Thank you for friendship
Thank you for loyalty
Thank you for humour
Thank you for ideas
Thank you for showing care

All I want to say to you is
Thank you, Thank you
A simple word that still feels new

Thank you for reading my works
Thank you for your encouragement
Thank you for your comments
Thank you for showing excitement
Thank you for your strength
Thank you for your votes
Thank you for influencing my growth
Thank you for been there in the morning
Thank you for been there at night
Thank you for believing in me.

Compassion

Thich Nhat Hanh provided this beautiful quote about compassion and embracing who we are in this world. I need to be inside of someone else`s skin to build compassion.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”

A Dream of Warriors

I enjoy reading Thich Nhat Hanh. Presently, I am reading Margaret Wheatley’s new book: So Far From Home. Margaret Wheatley brought shared this by the Zen monk. The poem and book are gentle reminders to pause, reorient ourselves in the present, and find strength and courage to continue the journey. It does not end.

The road goes on and we only walk one step at a time, one moment at a time, and each step moves us into an unknown future. It is good to rest and make each step mindful. We live in the present moment, find courage, and discover strength to carry on. It is in this moment, this space, we are at home, because when we are mindful we can nowhere else.

“They were exhausted. They had been traveling longer than they could remember. Their journey had begun with energy and enthusiasm, but that too they could no longer recall. They had lost many companions along the way—some had turned back, some had refused to go on, some had died of weariness. They all had suffered greatly.

They came to a narrow bridge that spanned a great river running swift and fast. On the far shore they could see what they had dreamed of during all these years of hardship—gentle green valleys and peaceful lakes reflecting clear blue sky. They stood there astonished to realize that what they had struggled so long for was suddenly here.

They began walking across the bridge with joyful steps. Midway across, they were stopped by children who had come to meet them. Tears overcame them for their own children left behind long ago. The children began to speak: “You cannot enter our land. You must go back. You will need to repeat your struggles. You must go back and do it all again.

The warriors stood there quietly. They gazed longingly at the pleasant pastures. They beheld the bright faces of the children. Tenderly, they bent down and kissed their cheeks. Then they stood up and spoke: “We are not afraid.” And they went back to begin again their journey.”

Foolishness? No, It’s Not

I am a little rushed, but found some time to sit and work with the blog. I was unable to spend the time answering all the comments, but hope to find some time late after we do a bit more visiting. As well, I apologize for not attending to the awards that we so generously bestowed on me. I will attend to them when we get home after the New Year.

I think, as I enter 2013, there will be considerable change upcoming for me professionally. I look forward to some times of transition and building relationships like I have over the past few months with this blog. Mary Oliver always seems to find the words I seek as I look ahead.

Sometimes I spend all my day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from this point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! [He's] got [his] heads in the clouds again.

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it–the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.

Take care friends, ring in the New Year, and be safe my friends.

More Awards

I received awards over the past week or so. I am quite forgetful sometimes and I apologize for the delay. I apologize in advance because I know I missed someone who is worthy of an award.

I extend gratitude to Mary Clever, Otrazhenie, And Life Smiles, 4 Writers and Readers, and Chef Doru for the Very Inspiring Blog Award.

Very Inspiring Blogger

Chef Doru also awarded the blog The Sunshine Blog Award.

sunshine-blogger-award-2

The Rules are:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

  1. I coached ice hockey for almost 35 years and some former players made it to the NHL.
  2. My first language, although I don’t use it much anymore, was French.
  3. I am a teacher. My major is Physical Education which surprises few. My minor is French.
  4. I taught kindergarten for two days and believe every kindergarten teacher is a saint.
  5. Kathy and I met in a pub.
  6. I am very lucky to have met Kathy.
  7. My favourite TV show now is the Big Bang Theory. I laugh heartily.

I chose blogs that I have not sent out awards. 15 blogs I follow that I am going to pass this on to are:

A Grateful Man Russ brings some kindness and truth into my life each day.

tuttacronaca I don’t read Italian so am not sure what the text is about, but the pictures are great.

Source of Inspiration There is incredible poetry and images on this site.

Nae’s Nest is from a survivor who shares her story in poetry and images of various forms.

Elena Caravela is an incredible artist with assorted interests and skills.

Ese’s Voice shares thoughts, memories, and adventures.

Jaz shares music and Buddhism

Luggage Lady shares poetry as she reflects on various aspects of life.

On the Plum Tree is an author who is trying a new approach to publishing.

The Essayist is sharing essays about various topics that matter.

Candid Impressions mixes words with pictures and words that bring the two together.

Toe Mail is what it is. You have to visit to fully appreciate the work being done.

Sharmishtha Basu is a great set of sites of various forms of writing and art.

Meiro shares her thoughts of life and music.

The Secret Keeper shares many different writing elements it is impossible categorize the writing, but it is about finding truth.

Circle of Appreciation

”A great blog is a space where one brings others into their world with thoughts, aspirations, and visions of what is possible. It will transcend time as visitors will join the day, but discover the past of the member of this vibrant community. Digital communities of this nature will be respectful and honest spaces shrinking the world and dissolving boundaries.”

http://tchistorygal.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/ligo_appreciation_small1.jpeg?w=610


I am grateful to Marsha Lee who streams her thoughts in many ways and helps me navigate the shoals of this new community. She is a writer, innovator, and teacher on her blog.

I acknowledge and invite several bloggers I was fortunate to find as I transformed my blog from an intermittent one without a focus to one with real purpose, I hope. I followed their efforts and recognized a blog is about connecting with me and, when that occurs, I will connect with others. I know a couple do not accept awards, but I wanted to acknowledge and thank them.

I appreciate Melody at Meanwhile, Melody Muses. She is a wonderful poet and photographer. Her inspirational words and imagery convinced me the digital community was about an inner journey of self-discovery on a personal spiritual journey.

A second blogger I appreciate is Mike at Mike’s Look at Life. Mike is a wonderful photographer who occasionally shares poetry. His photography is a journey of the daily life and its past. He reveals the extraordinary in the ordinary; those parts of daily life I often drove by.

I appreciate is Yaz at Free Your Mind. She leaves many uplifting comments about my posts and shares the need to find one’s truth in both the good fortune and tragedy. She reaffirms a need to search and find community in her posts and frequent comments.

I appreciate Carolyn’s posts on ABC of Spirit Talk and frequent journeys to my blog. She reminded me in her words that living my life as my life, rather than someone else’s life, is essential. Her ballroom dancing and her gently worded reflections speak volumes about her spirit.

I appreciate Mimi at Waiting for the Karma Truck. She shares poetry, a love of music, and life experiences. Mimi responds to, as best as I can determine, every comment on her blog. She demonstrated blogs are a place of genuine conversation.

I appreciate David at Lead.Learn.Live. We share some key ingredients-ice hockey is just a place to begin. David shares humour, quotes, and enthusiasm for life. My favourite posts are those at 4:00 AM when David is viewing the world more optimistically lens than I do.

To fully take part in the Līgo Circle of Appreciation:
~
* Complete this sentence about blogging: ”A great blog is…
* Refer back to the blogger who invited you
* Invite 2 bloggers to join the Līgo Circle of Appreciation on a post

From Teaching a Stone to Talk

Annie Dillard is a wonderful writer whose prose has a great poetic quality. Her words ask me to find quiet and solitude provided on the Sabbath. In that quiet, I go deeper and seek peace among the turmoil.

“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if we ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop them further over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the test, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. It is given. It is not learned.”

Take care and see you Monday.

Why Write Poetry

Yesterday, I read a haiku written by someone who appeared to not enjoy writing haiku. Despite this, the person wrote an interesting, amusing, and thought-provoking poem.

I am not sure this is verbatim but it goes somewhat like this:

Here are five syllables

And here I write seven more!

Are you happy now?

The person who presented this poem indicated that despite having written haiku they were unsure why teachers wanted them written. I think there are good reasons, but I could be wrong.

1. Poetry calls for the best possible word choices. Most poetry is simultaneously spare and spacious. The spareness is in the number of words; the fewer the better. The space allows the reader room for interpretation. What did the poet mean? What senses are invoked through the word choice.

Words chosen

Describe my moment.

No two experiences identical

A jungle of meaning revealed.

Each sense sameness different

Worlds bridged.

2. Students learn about figures of speech and their importance in expressing what we want to say. We can compare unlike things and make sense of a complex world.

3. I tell students who struggle with reading and writing poetry is an alternative way of expressing themselves. I use ee cummings as a model so they overcome their worries about grammar, spelling, and capitalization.

i dig ee cummings

no punctuation

no capitols

won’t worry about spellin either

no sweat

aint no problem

i write poetry

4. I enjoy poetry. I always have. I remember a poem, The Elevator, I memorized in Grade 4. I think it Walter de la Mare wrote it. My friend memorized a poem called Douglas Fir, because his name was Douglas. What my enjoyment means, is I bring enthusiasm to the process.

I believe we need to tell students what they are learning and the reasons they are important. But, then it might just be me.

Captains of Society

I mentioned when I posted Angry Young Poet there was a second poem I shared from my youth with my students. I softened this one a bit, as it had an angry voice. I know this version sounds pretty harsh, but it is gentler. A recent conversation reminded me how I marginalize voices of those already marginalized. A professor commented he was told by an affluent person that another less fortunate person was a non-entity and the worth of human was measured in material worth. I know this might be isolated, but it troubling and I was reminded of this poem.

Captains of Society

Shallow, superficial, arrogant

Single ambition

Greatness in the eyes of others

Only those with resources can apply

The rest

Forgotten

Pay a high price, but…

It’s their fault

They own their misery.

A cheque to charity

Assuages my conscience

What about the despair?

Don’t care

I claim I do

Donations in good faith, but

It’s a tax receipt

I can really claim, but…

Done on the backs of others

Get the staff to donate time

Not mine.

Increase taxes

Not mine!

No way!

It’s wrong!

Tax others!

What is work?

I create jobs

It’s a spectator sport

This work, which

I manage from afar.

Drive luxury wheels

Shout

Curse

What’s the hold up?

Who’s blocking my way?

The ‘75 Ford station wagon

Engine shot

Dead broke!

Is it their home?

 Throw a party

Drink

Eat

Be merry

No concern for homeless

A romantic notion this ‘hobo jungle’

Not my world

What’s wrong?

It’s not my fault

I gave at the office.

After all.

Throw money at problems

It might help

Don’t

Stop, see, care

If it really helps

Denying, refusing, unfeeling

I pay for a clear conscience

After all.

 The misery

In surround sound…

Is out of sight;

Out of mind

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