The White Noise of Revising and Editing ~#SOL 7/31 2021

I cringe when I reread past blog posts. In just rereading yesterday’s entry on delights, I was halted when I noticed I’d used “in which” in the SAME stinkin’ sentence! How is it that my eyes couldn’t catch that the first time through? I have so many blind spots that my blind spots have blind spots.

My energy spikes in the story catching and drafting stages of writing. If I could just reside in this part of writing forever, I would be in enchanted waters from here on out. There is a perpetual bliss, a euphoria, a heightened sense of groundedness and connection with all things alive in the universe. It’s what keeps bringing me back to my notebook each day.

You know what I despise?

Choosing. Revising. Editing. Publishing.

After I hit publish each day, a residual white noise of rambling “did you’s” follow me around all day, taunting me like a playground bully.

Did you choose a topic that anyone even cares about? I don’t know. I honestly don’t. After I write something, sometimes even I don’t care about it. “Fer dumb”, I hear a voice say. My mother used to say this when my dad would get mad about stupid stuff. “You were going to write all your posts about rituals and here you are writing about mistakes!” I hear. Oh well. . . I derail. Fail again.

Did you make sure you revised any episodes of your ego trying to portray itself? Erase all evidence of this face. This includes: victim, martyr, preacher, prosecutor, politician, narcisist, self-righteousness, savior, super-hero, know-it-all, and especially, white privledge.

These are big revisions – sometimes an entire post gets dumped if I catch myself talking in these voices, ego is tricky. A prior post in which (there’s the “in which” again) notebooks are the center of my writing feels privledged. I mean, only those with a pillowed life can have time to wrestle about the texture and size of the notebook they write in. People have bigger things in life to worry about – how to pay bills, find a job, or overcome grief. And, I whine about notebooks? It bothers me and I hesitate to share these kind of discomforts with the world. Some would say, “Wake up.” or “Get a life.”

And, Madame know-it-all loves to linger in the background of my words. In my PhD program, we were taught to write with authority. Authority? Yeah – you have to write like you know what you’re talking about. Even though, I honestly believe that the more I know, the less I realize I really know. What really do we know for sure? What works one day might not work the next. New research keeps debunking the old research.

We are all just bozos on the bus hanging on for the ride. Elizabeth Lesser wrote that in a book I read. Which brings me to:

Did you check for plagiarism? Heaven knows nothing is your idea, you know. Give credit to where credit is due. You are not the inventor of some of these beautiful phrases of which you key into these posts. But, some of them, I’m not sure where they even came from anymore. So, there’s that, too.

Did you make sure you did a clean editing sweep? Editing is laborious. But, I do know some of my repetitive faults and when you know what you are not good at, your lens for this refines. Verb tense ranks at #1. I’ll write in past tense and present tense in the same dang sentence and you know what? It sounds good to my ears. I won’t see it until the next day. Repetitive words is #2. I have my favs. I really should write them all out and just go through the list at the end of a post: in which, angst, for Pete’s sake. Spelling is #3. Actually,  it would be #1, but spell check catches half of my errors. I inherited my spelling gene from my father. I’m sure there are more, but they are still blind spots there, too.

All this resistance can keep one from ever sharing anything with the world.

Maybe this post should preface all my posts so the reader has more empathy for me. Writing for the world is hard. It puts us out there for persecution. Such bravery it takes. I love the safe place of my notebook, but it’s this kind of publishing that I need more practice at. We make our students share their writing with us ALL. THE. TIME. Do we ever consider how brave that is?

There it is: Kids are braver that we are. Perhaps it’s because they have less to be afraid of.

But, what do I know. . .

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

“Teachers who practice their subject – who think about them in their own time – can show students a way of life.” ~Diana Senechal

Delights of the Day~ #SOL 7/31 2021

Upon reading Caitlin’s post yesterday about all the things that make her happy, I was reminded of Ross Gay’s Book of Delights in which he writes an essayette every day for an entire year as he attends to and records delights that captured his attention. It made me wonder how many episodes of delight I could capture in one day. So, I thought I would try. Here goes:

*waking in the morning without an alarm

*knowing I can linger in bed a little longer on a Saturday

*rolling over under my covers to do child’s pose before crawling out of bed

*my bare feet meeting the soft rug beside my bed and sliding into my slippers

*an early morning text message from my husband with a photo of the morning sunrise on the lake he is ice fishing on with his buddies, he knowing I love sunrises

*greeting Ella who waits for me to rise from my bed to be fed, her tail wagging

*the tall glass of lemon water I drink before coffee

*coffee – need I say more? In a handcrafted mug from my daughter

*tending to Ella and filling her bowl with water and her dish with food, she kisses me on the nose in gratitude

*a step outside with my coffee to breathe in the early morning air-it may hit 50 degrees today

*writing – and everything that goes with writing – the warmth, filling my pen with ink, hand-scribing, discoveries

*a conversation with my son as he works on his truck – my awe at how he can fix things

*a walk outside listening to Naomi Shihab Nye with Krista Tippet on a podcast

*the warmth prompting me to take my jacket off and tie is around my waist

*squishy mud on the road of which ooze around my shoe

It’s not even 10:00 am yet and my morning is bursting with delights, many intentional.  I confess that my days are set up for this. Liz Gilbert said somewhere that our mental well-being is a 24 hour job. We work as a side gig. This is true for me. 

The feel good chemicals in my brain, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins need continuous drips throughout my day for optimal well-being. I can’t leave things to chance. 

A funny thing happens when you begin recording delights. Even if you plan for them to occur, you begin to notice delights everywhere. Our delight muscle is strengthened. All of them are screaming for your attention!

And, did you know that if you share your delight with someone, the benefits are two-fold? You experience it again, AND you share that joy with someone else so they feel it, too.  Also, if you’ve written it down, every time you reread it, you experience it again. 

Who doesn’t need more of that in their life right now?

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. 

Poetry Friday ~ The Neighbor’s Dog Will Not Stop Barking ~#SOL 5/31 2021

The Neighbor’s Dog Will Not Stop Barking 

The neighbor’s dog will not stop barking
My body - Thursday Tired and aching to sleep
A rhythmic infliction of pain to my ears
three quick barks
And a fourth staccato 
Repeat repeat repeat
There are no verses
Only chorus after chorus
Repeating Repeating Repeating . . .

How can the neighbors not hear?
Why do they allow their dog to pierce and torment
the peaceful night’s air?
What could possibly be causing it to bark?
When will this torture end? 
Will I go crazy?

I wrap my half dozen blankets around my head
begging begging and praying praying for this to end

Memories of my father’s distress at barking dogs
Incessant at night when he could not sleep
Seep into my cocoon of auditory protection
One time - he stomping out of his bedroom and
In his bathrobe and slippers
driving on the three-wheeler
To the neighbors with a bb-gun
Or maybe it was an old boot
To put an end to the neighbor's barking dog . . .

Poor cupcake my little sister said

The memory made me smile
knowing he is still here

And, then. .  . I must have fallen asleep.

©by Shari L. Daniels, fierce despiser of dogs who bark at night

Poem draft inspired by Billy Collin's poem: Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House and
the fact that I could not sleep last night due to the neighbor's barking dog.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. It's also Poetry Friday! If you'd like to read other poems from teachers, authors and poets participating in Poetry Friday, you can visit Kathryn Apel's lovely blog as she hosts today's poets. Please join us in the sharing of a poem on Fridays!

When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

On Forgetting: The Facets of Our Genius #4/31 SOL ~2021

My entry today was to continue onward about rituals. I’ve described the warming of the room, the filling of the pen and my obsessiveness with having a notebook that subscribes to all of my preferences. I am a little persnickety when it comes to my habits.

Today was supposed to be an entry in my lighting of the candle. 

But, I am suspending that plan.

I had my day’s plan scribed out in my Life Book. This takes place in the early morning of the evening before. Yet, I allow for flexibility. Today, the Universe has other plans.

My Mother calls and wishes to meet for lunch. A student meeting on zoom is cancelled due to illness. My slice of life was not yet completed. Arrows were already filling my page.

So, I checked my morning emails in this newly crafted space of time.

And there it was.

A Slice of Life from one of my former teacher education students. She, now a Teacher Warrior in the midst of this pandemic – her first year as Teacher.

I’d been floundering lately. AGAIN. Resistance towards the inner callings that my soul has been screaming for me to pursue. I’ve been here a number of times. It’s painful. A quiet desperation, as Thoreau describes. The path mucky. Distractions in abundance. Bills need to be paid and peace to be kept.

The more I ignored it, the louder it screamed.

My notebooks were filling again with questions to live, observations and unfolding bread crumbs to follow. There is no playbook, manual or script that can tell us how to or where to go to figure out how to live our own purposeful lives. We discover it on our own by living and doing and paying attention and then listening.

A teacher I have always been. First, of my siblings, then those darlings in the early childhood years and moving upward to elementary. Then, to teachers, as a literacy coach and now to preservice teachers, and sometimes in service teachers as well. I love teaching and believe it has always been my calling.

But, there is something deeper that rumbles underneath all of this. An itch I can’t scratch. An ache that won’t heal. A taunting that won’t leave. 

I believe there are bigger callings we have beyond being “teacher”. A calling that works THROUGH us as “teacher”. 

The past few weeks, I’ve been partaking in Jeffery Davis’ free Wonder of This Life workshops on Insight Timer. He so perfectly attached words to what it was that was gnawing at me as I tried to describe it. 

He said something along this line. (Forgive me, I fail in capturing the direct quotes, although these might be. They are all scribblings in my notebook. I hadn’t planned on rewriting them here.)

“Genius is the capacity to retrieve and reclaim childhood at will. It’s a force of character that wakes you up to your best self and your best work in the world. It will guide us if we are awake to it.”

He goes on to remind me that “each of us is born with a distinct facet of character. A soul’s code. It’s presence is to remind us of our core unique genius. To reclaim it, we have to remember it. Our facets of life align with this genius. We are born forgetting. Others can mirror back our genius. We each are a gem, radiating from a facet of that gem – all together we are connecting and glowing. We are not alone. We are interconnected.”

It was revealed to me many years ago, through writing, that a one facet of my own “soul’s code” is to reflect others’ genius to them and tell them so they would hear it out loud and not forget. I had labeled this as “gifts”, however, rather than “genius”. I vowed to pay close attention to the notice the gifts of my third graders and tell them what I saw and attempted to create conditions in which they could tend to those gifts. 

Nathen loved to talk. I told him he would be a voice for those who were afraid to speak. Nevaeh was a quiet gifted artist. I provided sketchbooks, artist books in the classroom library and taught her zentangling. Rayah loved to dance, so did Grace. We created a container of space for them to dance in the classroom when they felt called to do so. And, Jace, he was a natural when in charge. I told him he was a born leader – would maybe be a coach one day – so competitive he was. Soon, these third graders were noticing gifts in each other.

But, there is now ANOTHER layer yet! (All these bless-ed layers!) This facet of genius is to show others how writing can be a medium to reveal the facets of their own genius for themselves. Our own words that appear on the page in front of us can guide us through this messy life. The writing helps us remember who we are meant to be and our place in the world.

Imagine the world we would live in if everyone was living out their true genius – their soul’s code. 

I dream of that world.

Those third graders of yesteryear have perhaps forgotten already what their genius is. I’m thinking I should write them letters to remind them. 

But, today, I thank you, Caitlin, for reminding me of what it is that I’m here to do.

I keep forgetting.

Notebooks: Tools of the Trade ~ #SOL 2021 ~Day 3

I had to say goodbye to another notebook today, filled with words from front to back. Ending a new notebook and beginning a new one usually fills me with melancholy. I’ve written about this before. In fact, I’ve written about notebooks a lot. It must surely be annoying for someone to read who does not write in notebooks. I apologize ahead of time for “non-notebook writers”.

I have a routine of mining my notebooks when they fill, but I’ve no time for that today. I’m moving on to the new notebook. I’ll write about mining when I’m doing some mining. Let’s talk about new notebooks, shall we?

I’ve been purchasing the same notebook for writing for the last four or five years. I discovered them at Walmart after a hiatus with a variety of past notebooks. This one was different. It had a hard, leather like cover, sturdy, and had the ability to lay flat when I wrote. The pages were thick, resisting the bleeding of my heavily inked pens. The ivory color of each page were calming, unlike the harsh white paper so many other journals contain. These pages also had a slight texture, so my pen could feel just a very slight resistance when I scribed letters. I find this pleasurable, as if holding my pen accountable for not messing up, while some journals have these thin slippery pages for ink to dance and bleed all over the place. Such dread.

There are about 160 pages in this journal, just enough for a good month’s worth of writing if I write every day, which I do. It’s a goal I aim for and a celebration is always in order when I end a notebook and can begin a new one exactly at the beginning of a new month. I mean, who gets that??!! I can’t even explain this kind of serendipity.

There is a ribbon attached in the notebook for me to use as a placeholder to remind me I’m at in the notebook and also a black piece of elastic is attached to stretch around the notebook to hold it tightly closed when not in use. I appreciate these fine details. I do wish it had a little pocket on the binding to slide my pen in when not in use as well, but this is just wishful thinking.

These notebooks come in a rainbow of colors: blue, pink, black, blue, green – I can choose a color to match the month or the mood. This also heightens my joy! February always gets to be pink while December, a holiday green. This also helps me to locate various months when I go searching for something.

And the size, a sweet 6×9” makes it perfect to slide in my purse or a small duffle bag. Wherever I go, the notebook goes, too. Such ease.

Seriously though, the best thing about these notebooks is the price. $3.98 a piece. You read that right. I could buy a year’s worth of notebooks for under 50 bucks. No kidding. I would haul them home by the box so I would never run out, always to have another notebook at the ready.

And then one day . . . Walmart quit selling them.

My distress was horrendous. I talked to the manager and he checked in the storage. Nothing. I went online to purchase them and they were not to be found. I traveled to Grand Forks, Fargo and neighboring Walmarts to scour their shelves to hopefully discover some left behind – overstock of notebooks. I found a few stragglers to get me through a few months, but whatever was I going to do when those notebooks were filled with the scribblings of my world?

Eventually, the day arrived when I’d used them all up and I had to go searching for something new. Composition books are cheap, but my pen wanted sustenance. Other journals had issues: pages too thin, white-bright paper harsh to my eyes, the slipperiness of the pages made my wet ink smear or I had to wait and wait for ink to dry before I could turn a page. Size issues and price issues became a constant rumination. Every notebook I purchased thereafter could not live up to my Walmart notebooks.

My husband tried to console me. “Tell me what you are looking for and I’ll go find it for you,” he urged. He likes hunting and buying stuff for me that make me happy, but I had to tell him no. This is something I have to figure out on my own. He felt helpless. Now my notebook dilemma was causing BOTH of us pain.

A couple of weeks ago, I perused the Walmart notebook aisle to see if they had any new notebook arrivals and. . .

BESTILL MY HEART! There was a random box of my old friend notebooks hidden in the back of the shelf behind the shiny and sparkly new journals. A whole box! Eight notebooks to be exact! They were all pink but no matter! My writing angels must have been witnessing my morning writing frustrations and magically parked these gifts on the shelf for my eyes only on that one particular that day. The timing could not have been more perfect. Mid-day, mid-week, mid-month in the middle of winter. Who doesn’t need some joy then?

I’m good to go for a spell now. My axis straightened out again.

I know it won’t last for long however, so I’m asking you. . . 

If you have a Walmart near you, would you check the notebook shelves and see if there are any straggling Pen+Gear notebooks left behind? I’ll pay you to ship them to me! There HAS to be some out there!

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

Filling the Pen: A Ritual ~ #SOL 2021

Once nestled in my writing chair to scribe a few words for the day, a quick check of the pen to be sure the cartridge is fully loaded with ink is necessary. There’s nothing quite as tragic as being wrapped up in the flow of writing and, all of a sudden, the ink decides it’s done for the day. I try to prevent this drama at all costs.

I choose the color of hydrangea for my ink this morning, feeling the warm spring energy of the day ahead. A shade of blue “reminiscent of the image of raindrops nestling on its petals”.  My giddiness welcomes this change from vintage brown to this fresh color in my notebook. 

The glass container which houses this ink is a work of art in itself. Heavy and solid with a slight dip downward at the bottom of the jar – intended for the tip of the nib to drink up ink with ease. Every time I refill my pen, I gaze in awe at this ingenious idea. I often wonder if the bottle is perhaps worth more than the ink it holds and what might I do with the bottle when my ink runs dry? Is there a place I can send empty bottles to and just purchase refills? I’ll need to look into this one day.

A candle is lit and a string of ivory lights around the perimeter of my sanctuary window offer just enough glow to provide light to perform this ritual. There is something about doing this work in the edge of time when the moon waves goodbye to morning dawn as if signaling the night shift is over. The switching on of lamps would disrupt this moment.

I hold the jar steady in my left hand as I ever so slowly and delicately twist off the cap. I envision a nightmare of accidentally dropping the bottle of ink and watching it spill in horror all over my beloved chair and blankets – ruining all forever. My mother would be mortified watching me. A wise person would not fill their pen sitting in an overstuffed chair wrapped in a blanket. They would be at the desk with protective paper underneath. My husband tells me that I’m not the daring kind, but he should see in the morning, filling my pen.

Turning the cap on it’s second twist, a flash of insight arrives. My newfound love of fountain penning has slowed me down – even more than the act of writing itself. All my attention must remain on the filling of this pen. The removal of the barrel, the dipping of the nib into the ink. The slow twist of the cartridge, first to the left to empty remaining ink and air out of the pen, and then ever so gently, a half rotation twist at a time, to the right, to suction the ink up into the cartridge. One jerky slip and catastrophe ruins the whole process.

This act of preparation settles my mind and gives whispers to the writing angels that she’s getting ready. . .

I admire the filled cartridge before sliding the barrel back on, imagining all the pages this single cartridge of ink will fill. How many new discoveries will appear from the letters strung together? Will this ink scribe words of gratitude, angst, or just capture the inner and outer goings on around me? Such mystery it holds!

I decide to give the ink a blessing.

Oh blessed ink. May you only write words of praise for the greater good – words that create community and channel love and compassion into the world. 

Well. . . this was a surprise revelation. Perhaps if I’d been blessing my pen and ink all along, I’d have more productive writing days. 🙂

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

Warming The Writing Space ~ #SOL 2021

My writing sanctuary above our garage was quite chilly this morning, the heat turned excessively down at night. I turn the electric heat dial to high in an effort to bring warmth quickly, before my fingers numb. A small electric fireplace in the corner across from me assists the main heat while also offering a background hum and a warm comforting glow. 

Grateful for the warmer temps, with highs predicted in the 20’s, means my sanctuary becomes my writing-reading-playing-workroom. When the Minnesota lows hover around -20 below zero, I must migrate to a writing location inside the house as even with all the heat power my writing room has, it refuses to warm my midlife bones. My husband also complains about the electric bill when I’m up here in frigid, cold weather. 

Usually, I don’t listen to this nonsense, but when I know he is more right than not, I bail.

On these chilly days, I tend to write in my overstuffed chair parked next to my bookshelves and wrap myself in blankets, rather than sit at my desk. I have two down blankets that envelope me on mornings such as this, both gifted to me from my husband who spotted them on super clearance, because he knows I’m always cold. They are perfect for cocooning in. Not quite bed size – more lap sized – a fuzzy imitation fur on one side, and the outer shell, well . . . nylon, but in a warm woodsy print.

Now at first, when he presented this gift to me, I was quite perplexed. Why would a company use a nylon fabric for this outer shell? It’s cold to the touch and it tends to slide down my shoulders when I am using it. It took me a while to warm up to it because I am a slow warmer-upper to sensory kinds of things. I had to force myself to use it, repetitively, in order to acclimate to it because it was a gift from my husband and his feelings might get hurt if he sees me not using his gifts to me. And, I can’t risk not receiving more gifts.

After a time, however, I realized it’s advantage. We have a yellow lab, named Ella, who roams our house and lounges on the furniture. These nylon blankets are the only blankets we have not attracted to all of her dog hair. 

Frankly, this is the only reason I can find for the advantage of the nylon. I suppose it might be beneficial in the rain.

In a perfect world, the shell would be heavy flannel.

But, I carry onward as best I can. . . knowing my spoilage. . .

Well, I certainly didn’t know this Warming of the Writing Room would be the first entry I would pen for the Slice of Life this year. This tending to the heat has become a necessity ritual in the creating of conditions for writing each day. 

The ink in my pen now thawed, my breath calm, my heart open.

I welcome in new words for the day.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

February Confusion ~ Poetry Friday

When February rolls around, teachers feel the pressures of the days. 
And, such a short month we're given to squeeze it all in. 
I often wonder what our students think. This poem came from those wonders.

February Confusion

It’s Black History month
my teachers say
Ground hog’s day
I love to read 
Love and hearts and 
Random acts of kindness
and a day to celebrate 
our presidents
Also, the biggest football 
game of the year

But, I’m so confused.
My teacher also said
that one day not so long ago
Blacks were not allowed to read
and presidents owned slaves
And, I found on the internet 
the groundhog is right 
less than half the time.

My teacher also taught us
about racism and stereotypes
and said how far we’ve come. . . but
I saw white Chief fans dressed up 
as Native Americans
painting their faces red
beating on drums
Chanting and singing
and the Tomahawk chop. . .

Be kind I keep hearing
Make it random
We write letters
and give cards with hearts
to our friends
This makes us all feel good
inside the walls of our classroom

I don’t know how to 
wrap up this poem
Something is missing
and I’m not sure what it is

But things are not all
what they say it is

©Shari Lynn Daniels 2021 (draft)

I'm participating in Poetry Friday where others who are sharing and writing poetry come to gather. You can find more poems to read this week here at the site of Molly Hogan, who is hosting Poetry Friday this week. 

Forgetting Fears ~ A Poem

Already I’ve forgotten
what your smile looks like
crinkled cheeks and gentle warmth

Wear a mask

My arms no longer
reach out
to embrace

Keep your distance 

Avoiding eye contact
puts more space
between us

Keep safe

It’s only for a few months
they said in March
The calendar says
nearly a year has passed by

What will happen
if we forget
what we’ve been
forbidden
to do?

I’m participating in Poetry Friday where others who are sharing and writing poetry come to gather. You can find more poems to read this week here at the site of Jone Rush MacCulluch, who is hosting Poetry Friday this week.