Arriving at My Place of Peace

I was spent.

As I usually am at the end of a school year.  This one, more so.

I am a literacy coach at an elementary school for students from Prek to grade five.  We have five to eight sections per grade – about 800 students.  This is a large school.  I am the only coach.

I have been in education for over twenty years, my first job as a first grade teacher in 1987.  Education is changing.  Students are changing.  Society is changing.  New teachers coming and others leaving.  Holding on to a vision is sometimes daunting when so many changes are continuous in our profession.

My job does not end when the students leave.  I continue to work through the summer, compiling data, working on curriculum, ordering materials, planning for new teachers, reading new research and keeping abreast of new literacy practices.

Added to the load of my job was the fact that I was finishing up my Masters.  Because I am a perfectionist and overachiever in some areas, my final paper ended up being a book.  A blessing and a curse.

I also have four wonderful children, the ages of 17, 19, 20 and 22. All of them. . . at home with my husband and I.  Just when we thought the nest would be emptying, they started coming back.  Sleep was something I was lacking and my edges were frayed with constant stints of worry at night.  They are all normal kids who like to have a good time.  I, the parent, that just prays for the angels to guide them home safely at night.

My husband, we’ll call him Sporty, was in full force with fishing, golfing and running down to the hunting land to farm some food for deer, fall just around the corner.  His agendas after work are full.  Married for 24 years, I’ve accepted that this is who he is.

My life is one that 98 percent of the world pray for.  I’ve been so blessed, too blessed.  Yet, it was also overfull.  I had been scattered and strewn about.  Pieces of me were everywhere, but not really there.  I needed to get away just to figure out if I could keep going at this pace and in this path.  And just to remember why I was here in the first place.  I was losing meaning and purpose in all that I was doing.

July is my month of freedom.

So, the end of June when I was able to attain a small cabin for two weeks beginning July 1, I was as giddy as a school girl could be.

I had the car packed up in two hours.  Sporty came with to help set up camp, but he could not stay as work was calling his name, having just had vacation time for a Canada fishing trip.  I was at ease with this, as I craved aloneness.  I think he had mixed feelings.  I could feel this, but we didn’t talk about it.  The kids planned on coming and going when they could, being only an hour away.  Honestly, I was not planning for anyone. . . but myself.  A strange feeling, selfish, yet a desperate attempt, like I was running away from my life,  in order to save myself.

Upon arrival, I unloaded food, checked out the facilities and immediately drug my chair down to the water.

I climbed into my resting place and closed my eyes and I just lay there.  The air moist, the sun embracing me with warmth and the sound of the waves lapping.  This is heaven.  How can heaven not be like this? All I could verbalize over an over in my mind was,

“Thank you, God.  I am here now.  Let me rest.  Please, please, bring me peace.”

Tears were already welling up and I hadn’t been there for more that an hour.  I had to hold them back as I wasn’t ready to face all that God had in store for me here just yet.

The breeze gently caressed my skin.  “Yes, I know you have something to say,” I replied to it.  “But, not now. . . I just beg to lay here and disappear into this landscape and forget who I am for now.”

It wouldn’t listen and I smiled just knowing there was so much here for me. I would try to be patient toward all that was unsolved in my heart, just as Rainer Maria Rilke starts out her poem,  LETTER TO A POET.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart

and try to love the questions themselves.

do not now seek the answer, which cannot be

given you because you would not be able  

to live them.  And the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then

gradually, without noticing it, live along some

distant day into the answer.

I prayed to live my questions.  First I needed to articulate them.  In this mess of who I was at that point in time, would I even be able to figure out what my questions were?

And how do you live a question into the answer?

I would let the breeze teach me.

Today though. . . I just rest.  Just rest my weary bones.

Disappearing to Lose My “Self”

I dropped from the face of the earth for awhile.  I was blessed enough to stay at a primitive, secluded cabin on a remote pond in northern Minnesota for two entire weeks this past month.

This was not a family vacation.

It was time for me.  Selfish.  Maybe.  I was tired of putting myself at the bottom of my priority list.  I had the opportunity so I flung myself at it.

During this time, I filled an entire 246 pages of paper with words.  Every day, I wrote, I read, I wept, I snapped pictures, I observed, I sketched, I was still, I listened, I wept,  I prayed, I meditated, I sang, I danced, I swam, I walked, I napped, and I just sat and pondered.

Did I mention that I wept?  More than once.  I brought myself to places I had not been able to get myself to in years.  I came to this cabin as one person. . . and left another.

This morning, I am looking through my notebook of these writings and it’s all flooding back.  Tears flood as well.  The magic of words.  They carry so much weight.  So much self discovery, so much learning, so many lessons.

I have to write about it here.    I have to share them, each page of words. . . a gift to me.  They touch me deeply.  I can’t leave these angel messages closed in this notebook and move on to other present moment experiences and thoughts.  I come to my desk every  morning and see that black leather bound journal with the broken spine and 246 pages full with stickies poking out of it sitting there on my pile of notebooks and it keeps pawing at me.  Like a puppy in church.

Today will be a day for reliving those words in my mind.  Feeling them again.

Monday will begin my story of Arrival Day At the Cabin and the person that was.

Shari 🙂

She Loves to Run. . . That Sandy

A weird thing happened today.  After reading Jeff Goins post on writing about topics that we fear to deeply touch readers enough to shatter their frozen seas, I spent most of my morning looking for the perfect frozen sea breaking topic.  I’ve got gazillions of topics of what I’d like to write about, but I’m bent on finding this perfect one.

I decided to take a  break and go throw some balls for Sandy to fetch.

Our lab, Sandy, is insanely  fast.  I’m not bragging either.  Seriously, why would I brag about something like this?  When you throw her a stick, or a ball or a frisbee, she actually leaves “dog divots”  when she takes off to fetch it.  Yup, divots of grass and dirt right up into your lap.

When Sandy treks over to the neighbors (when we aren’t around and she hears voices over there because she’s such a people dog), our neighbor, Linda, likes to throw things for her and their two labs to race to.  Linda confesses that she often has to fake Sandy out first and give the other dogs a head start to give them a chance.

Sandy still wins.

She is unbeatable in dog running.

“We should enter her in races!” my kids say.

She has this gift, this uncanny freakish speed talent. . . and nothing to do with it but chase balls and hunt in the fall.

Here’s the crazy thing.  I really don’t think she gives a rip if she’s fast or not.  She just loves to run.  She doesn’t care if she’s winning contests or competing with any other dog.  She is just so dang happy to be running.

And then. . . my message sang to me.

Like writing should be, Shari.

I was the frozen sea today.  Stuck in finding perfect writing instead of just writing.

Julia Cameron writes,

“I love when good writing comes out – but mostly, I just love writing.”

And we shouldn’t do it for fame or be “be published” or to get lots of followers or likes. We should do it because it’s like breathing.  It’s being true to our essence and it’s who we are.

Like Sandy has to run.

Shari 🙂

Remembering My Childhood

I’ve been working on some art for Mindy Lacefield’s Neat Stuff E-Workshop and having sooooooooo much fun exploring my creative experiences from my childhood.  Neat Stuff is an art journaling class in which Mindy is taking us on  nostalgic adventures into our past.  We are exploring those creative nuggets that have maybe been laying dormant for awhile and then bring that into our art.

I used to love to draw as a child.  I spent hours replicating other drawings, especially the Peanuts gang.  I had forgotten about this and have not drawn Snoopy for probably 30 years.  I got out my journal and pens and whipped the above Peanuts characters out in about 15 minutes.  It was still there.  How cool is that?  (I think I always loved drawing Pig Pen the most because there was so much room for error.)

Another drawing that made it’s way into my memory was Winky.

I remember painstakingly drawing these little creatures from advertisements.  First, I’d trace, then I’d do my own, over and over again.  It had to be perfect as the ad said that winners would get scholarships to art school.  Well, I never made it in.  But, at least I could draw Winky.

I don’t think I drew much creatively of my own.  The images always came from elsewhere, cartoons, photos and other’s work. This made me think about my need for perfectionism and fear.

One of our writing journal prompts for Neat Stuff was “When I was little, I was never afraid to. . . ”  I had trouble with this prompt.  Not because I couldn’t not think of anything to write, but because I think I was afraid of everything! (maybe not afraid of climbing trees – I could use that.)

I will keep digging into “fear” later on, but my hope through some of the online art courses I’m taking, is to develop my own creative style.  I don’t think I’ve discovered this yet.  I know every artist takes a bit from here and a bit from here and makes it their own.  No one wants to be a “copy” of another artist.  I know I don’t.

We’ll see what evolves.

At least I’m in bliss when I’m trying to get there. 🙂


Finding a Focus


I’m following Jeff Goins in his Intentional Blogging Series.  We are on Lesson 2, which is finding a focus for your writing.

This has always been my problem.  I love too many things and I don’t want to leave anything out!  Even looking at my heading that I have for this blog is daunting.  I wanted this blog to be everything in my life that does not include teaching (that’s on my other blog).

So, hmmmm. . . he advises us to first, choose a subject, second, a theme within this subject and finally, an objective for our writing.  What will our purpose be?

After much pondering, I’ve narrowed my subject down to. . . creativity.  That encompasses a lot.

Now themes.  These are the categories of creativity.  Let’s see, there’s art journaling, painting, cooking, writing, fear, intuition, presence, soul work, photography, books.  How can I choose just one?  Maybe I need to use the process of elimination here.  Or maybe I focus on how creativity feeds your soul.  Could that be a theme? Ughh.  It could be like a creativity manifestation.  Somehow, I need to incorporate intuitiveness in there.  And, being fearless!  Since that’s my biggest issue!!!! I’ll cross off photography, too, since all I have is my iphone and I don’t know how to use my expensive camera very well.  I could take a class.   But, if I became good at that, I’d need another blog.

Okay, so my theme is going to be fearless creativity.

Now, what is my objective?

My objective is to share my creative words and art (along with my thoughts and feelings about it all) with others in hopes to connect to like souls and inspire them to write and share their creative gifts.

Ta-da!  Will that work?

I’ll email it to Jeff Goins and see what he says.  Maybe I’m just beating around the bush.

What do you think?


Finding Solitude

My wish for every woman is for them to have a place that they can retreat to.  One where they have no responsibilities, no worries, and no fear.  At this place, their mind can clear away all the clutter of their every day lives.  Breathing happens.  Listening happens.  A reconnection with your soul to hear the whispers of what to do next.  To feel the presence of the earth around you. . . and embrace it.

Without making time to ever get to this place in our mind, body and soul, we are racing through our lives mindlessly without

I am so blessed to have this place, a little primitive cabin in the remote woods by a pond in northern Minnesota.  It’s not mine.  It belongs to a paster friend of my husband’s and he rents it out for 35.00 dollars a day.  You heard me.  35.00 dollars a day.  The only cabin on the lake.

I sat there for two weeks straight.  My kids came and went, all older and with jobs.  My husband, on a fishing trip of his own in Canada (and work).  Most of the time, it was just me.

Without the lure of the internet (there was no service), I was able to rediscover myself.  I wrote over 200 pages in my notebooks.  I read four books.  I filled pages in my nature journal of butterflies, dragonflies and mushrooms.  I made egg sandwiches just for me, and I tasted each bite and savored them.  I had to bathe in the lake each day.  I took leisurely walks and discovered plants and flowers that I had never seen before.  Actually, they had probably been there. . . but I was not.

“In our lives today, we are racing from one frenzy after one elation after one enthusiasm after one hysteria after another, always yelling and running somewhere, because we are afraid life is going to be over that very afternoon,” as quoted by Ray Bradbury.  We miss the meaning of why we are even here on this earth.  We miss the birds singing.  We miss the gentle breeze blowing across our face.  We miss our child’s expression on their face that says they need us.  We lose being present.

It took me four days to wind down at this cabin before “my body and mind slowed down enough for me to find a basic restfulness, before I could even begin to nibble at the edges of solitude” (Rolheiser).

Father Ron Rolheiser who writes in Our Northland Diocese, tells us we are in solitude when we fully taste the water we are drinking, feel the warmth of our blankets, and are restful enough to be content inside our own skin.  It is not something that can be turned on like a water faucet.  It needs a body and mind slowed down enough to be attentive to the present moment.

As mothers, as women, as human beings. . . we need this presence in our every day lives.  This is when we really see, hear, taste, feel and smell our world, our lives and other souls put on this earth at the same time as ourselves.

If you have not had an opportunity to find yourself at this place of presence yet, it’s still mid July, you have time before the leaves start to turn.  I realize I am a blessed soul who actually has a place to go, children who are old enough to take care of themselves and a loving husband who understands how much I need this solitude.  Somehow, make your own retreat at home.   You are creative.  Use your gift of creativity to find that way to honor your soul and find solitude.

Then, share with us that experience.

Peace and Love,

Shari 🙂