When a Poem Lands on You ~ SOL 2020

As I pulled on the right leg of my black leggings this morning, around 6:00 am, leaning back in my chair, both feet lifting high into the air, as if gravity was going to lure these things on, the words of a childhood poem washed over me.

“Monday’s child is full of grace,” it whispered, as poems sometimes do.

Even though I know not the exact words of this nostalgic nursery rhyme, parts of it are lodged deep within me somewhere, and I thought,

“Wait, I don’t think Monday’s child is full of grace. It’s Tuesday’s child!”

But I’m telling you, Monday’s child needs it.

The words swirled and played in the dance of a new poem being born as I reached for my “Monday” dress, a free flowing knit, waist free, forgiving, stretchy, throw in the dryer, no-need-to-iron kind of dress. It wears on me whether I am a size 4 or a size 14. I hoover somewhere in between, depending on the day, the month, the season or the year.

Still – this dress embraces me and says, “It’s okay, I’m here for you, Shari.”

Topped off with my favorite black vest and knee high boots, Monday arrives in the comfort of my Friday jeans, even after a weekend of pizza, too many cookies and a little (okay, a lot) of laying around.

Gosh, I love a dress that can do that to a Monday.

Oh, the poem. It’s been marinating all morning. Here’s what I’ve got so far. . .

Monday’s dress is full of grace,

A thank you melts across her face,

None is there of shameful woes, or

Regrets of weekend diet foes.

With the stretch of lycra, loving and giving

Enabling her to go on with her living

A life that is so good and gay

A gift to savor on the morn of Monday.

Gosh – writing that just made me so happy! Poetry can do that, you know.

Saturday Morning Headlines ~SOL 2017

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The Awakening

I awoke this morning wondering what planet I was on – a week of sleepless nights had finally caught up to me and at last . . . a good solid rest.  Already, I’m whispering gratitudes.

Searching for my slippers, the wind is roaring and the sun piercing through the window already, Sandy (our lab), senses I am finally up and follows me around, waiting for me to notice her.  She wants her breakfast.

Feeding of Sandy

Her water dish has still gone untouched.  For three days now.  It’s just an ice cream pail and I’m wondering if my husband used it to mix water and Pine Sol in that last time he had to scrub up one of Sandy’s messes. I don’t smell a Pine Sol scent in there, yet perhaps a dog can smell the residue. Where would she be getting her water for the last three days?

Then I realize that the bathroom door is always open.

I give her a fresh dish of water.

The World News

While the coffee brews, the checking of the news takes place.

Let’s see. . .

Trump is now accusing Obama of a Nixon/Watergate plot to wiretap the Trump Tower. Says The Washington Post.  There is no evidence.

PaaLeeeeeZe.

Seven tweets in a row – another middle of the night rant, conjuring up new bait for the people to chase after so we forget about his real issues.

If I had a penny for all the times he does this, my little piggy could go to market more often. (That’s such a good line.  I just had to use it, Brittany, before I forgot about it.) 🙂

He even poked a jab at The Terminator again for his bad ratings on The Apprentice.

Honestly. (eye ball roll)

Checking Emails

Switching to my emails – there are plenty of new Slice of Life posts to read this morning and I’m excited.  I adore this community and the writing lives of teachers are so real and at home with me.

Bernice taunts me, “You can’t go there now!  Later!”

I quick head over to Facebook.

Just for a minute.

Facebook Stories

A high school friend is moving to England for a few months and wants to take her sewing machine (she is a mean quilter). Another friend tells her the power/current is different in Europe and it might not work there. They encourage her to buy an adapter or just buy a new machine when she gets to England.

Well. . . isn’t that the strangest thing. Whoda thought we’d have to consider electricity when traveling the world? I need to get out more. I know nothing.

More posts about calling my senators to veto bills.  Geez, I should do that.

And, oh my heavens, can you believe there are major cities in the world that are actually making plans to BAN cars within their cities? It’s an effort to reduce carbon emissions and make more room for pedestrians and bicyclists. No US cities are on the list (I don’t think there will be for at least 4 years) but New York is trying to make way for more pedestrians and bike riders on their streets.  It’s a start, I guess. But, my, how far the rest of the world is ahead of us.

Twitter Tweets

Moving on to Twitter, I check to see if Trump’s tweets are real.

They are. (eye ball roll again adding a head shake and lip pursing like my mother)

I come across words of Parker Palmer that make me chuckle.  Sandy jumps. He restates the words of John Stuewart:

“The presidency is supposed to age the president, not the public.”

Thank you for your truth, Mr. Parker Palmer.

I screen shot those words for a later reference.

Skittish About Snapchat

Oh Snapchat, my eldest son is in a bar somewhere with two girls singing, “Any Man of Mine”. I’m grateful that’s all he sends me.

My grandson, Greyson, is in his high chair feeding their dog, Jax, his Cheerios.

My heart smiles.

My only Snapchat friends are my four children (aged 21-27) so I know what’s going on.But, I don’t want to know EVERYTHING that’s going on. So, I’ve warned them that I can see them.  They need to block me if there is inappropriate stuff.  I have enough to worry about. Bar  brawls and swearing put me over the edge.

Off Into The World

The phone is put away and my coffee topped off.

Time to write and head out into this beautiful world and look for more stories that need to be told.

Laundry, cleaning, and homework will have to wait.

I’m in Storycatcher Mode.

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  To check out other writers, visit here.

 

What A Writing Community Does #sol16

The month of March slipped away like a shadow into shade .

The challenge was to write a slice of life every day for the entire month of March and post it. Well, I made it 21 days out of 31.

21 blog posts in 31 days!  Although I did not accomplish the challenge of posting every day, I still am wearing my achievement cape like a superhero . Since I began my blog in 2012, writing a post every six months had become my going rate.  So, mathematically, I’ve increased my production from .005% to 66% if I keep up the pace.  My writing muscles are greased and the Bernice Brain has quieted long enough for me to put stuff out there.

If I were to be totally honest, it was not really the challenge that got me writing, it was this writing community.  Holy Kamoly.  I have never seen such an inspiring, encouraging, uplifting, dedicated, creative group of human beings.

Never once did I have a post sit there lonely without some cheers from my fellow writers, (and sometimes my mother).  Feedback is crucial to the writer, whether only a pat on the back for showing up to write or a serious shot of gratitude for writing something that was resonated with. Even more so, to give me another perspective in my own little narrow viewed world.  It is then that I really know my words were taken in.  Love that.

I anxiously awaited the posts of other slicers.  Sometimes I sought inspiration and it was the content or structure of another writer that made my own fingers later dance at the keyboard. Other times, I seriously didn’t wish to write at all and filled my coffee cup just to read and comment on other’s words.  It felt as if we were exchanging small gifts, enjoying each other’s company and allowing one another to get a little peek into the world of other teacher-writer-lovely-people.  Always, I felt a calm peace after reading other’s posts.

I am jealous of writers who have writing communities or writing groups that they meet with face to face on a regular basis.  I have yet to find that.  But, this community here is the closest I have come to realize I will ever get.  At least right now. I am so grateful to have had this.

Thank you to the writing teachers at Two Writing Teachers for the enormous amount of work this challenge must have added to their already busy days.  Their commitment to writing and fostering teachers who write is remarkable.

Thank you to Elisabeth Ellington who voiced she was taking the plunge to do the challenge this year.  I saw her tweet and there was this little nudge in me that said, “Do it.”  I needed her words to give me the confidence to take it on.

And, good heavens, thank you to anyone who took a few moments out of your busy lives to read my words and then to comment.  The comments kept me writing.  They told me that my words matter.

Such goodness.

And, now the pump is primed.

Shari 🙂

Who Are Your Secret Social Media Inspirationalists? #sol16

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The other day, I came across a facebook post by an artist I adore, Rachel Caringella.  She wrote about how there are people on social media that we follow, read their words and are deeply inspired by.  It’s almost like we can feel a connectedness to them, as if we were best friends.  We share common passions, feelings and thoughts.  To be honest, we are like-minded-souls.  We may comment or message them, but really, many of them have no idea that we even exist.

In my mind, that is perfectly okay, if it makes us happy.

I need to share out more who these amazing people are that inspire and energize me. They need to know of their healing powers.  And, I just need to say thank you. Thanking them for the work that they do, for putting their words out there.  They nourish both the heart and soul of others.  They feed the mind.  It is my obligation to say thank you.

Today, this person was Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

She posted this illustration on her twitter feed:

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It knocked me out of my chair because I am supposed to be working on a project for one of my doctoral classes that is due tomorrow.  I can’t get the words out that I want on to paper, so I keep revising my plan.  I sheepishly peered by behind me.  Was there someone watching me?  Seriously?

“Who is this lady?” I asked my laptop.  I had to know.

It’s pretty easy to do investigative work online.  You just keep clicking on the links.  It turns out, she is children’s author, illustrator, reader, Donalyn Miller fan, and even shares (for free, mind you) teacher resources for readers.

I dove into her site and tweets, marveled by her illustrations and creative work.  Her words so encouraging.

Struck by her found art, I discovered her  you tube video to share with my third graders this week for art workshop.  Her instagram page is just too much.

I got lost in her world for over an hour.

Then, her words jumped on my screen:

“My biggest piece of creativity advice for writers & illustrators (all ages): make time to PLAY.”

Ummmm. . . yeah.  That was it.  I forgot to play before digging into my work.  I know this.  Why can’t I remember it?  It would open the flow.  I know.

I pulled out my notebook, printed some images, grabbed my paper tapes (oh, how I love my paper tape), scissors, glue stick, markers and did some playing.  20 minutes later. . .

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It surely was a Happiness Day for me.  Thank you Debbie for inspiring me and reminding me to play.  Your influence will spill over this week when I introduce you to my kids at school.  And, hopefully, to others who read my words thanking you.

This week, my slices are showcasing the inspirationalists I call my friends on social media.  They don’t really know me, but, I am letting them all know that what they do matters.

Who are your secret social media inspirationalists?

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March Challenge of posting a blog post every day for the month of March.  While I’ve missed a few days, I’m still in it for the long haul!  To check out other writers, visit here.

Stealing Ideas sol#16

If you’ve read Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, you know that nothing is really our own idea.  Every idea we’ve ever come up with was born somewhere else by someone else, somehow.  We can put a new twist on things, but honestly, a totally new idea is rare.  Old wine in new bottles.

Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magictells the story of how she believes there are these ideas floating around out there and they decide who to land on.  When you feel inspired with an idea, that’s the idea angels, fairies or whatever you want to call them.  If you don’t do something with that idea right away, it up and takes off from you and goes to someone else.  Gilbert documents a true story that proves this to be true – in her life.

Well, my truest inspiration, if I’m honest, comes from other writers.  I love when that little nudge from someone else’s writing whispers, “Try this, Shari!”  Sometimes it’s an idea about content because a memory is triggered.  But, what I find more beneficial is when I discover a structure because I can use it not just once, but again and again.  A writing structure is like a tool that can be pulled out anytime.  The more you use it, they easier it is to remember and to whip something up from it.  In the last few days, I’ve found quite a few structures that I intend to steal and try out – with a must of giving credit to my inspirational writers.

Elisabeth Ellington at the durigible plum, wrote in her sol today about small gratitudes.  Loved it.  I’m stealing it.

Here goes ~

I am grateful:

For the morning snuggles that keep me in bed too long

For the lab with a sprained leg that lies on the couch with a wagging tail as I walk to the kitchen to make coffee

For the scale that shed one pound the last time I stepped on it

For the deep dark Caffe Verona Starbucks beans that wait to be ground for my coffee

For the clean pair of jeans that beg to be worn

For the fresh inch of snow that blankets the ground (not)

For arriving at school before most others, savoring the quiet and preparing for the day

For the conversation with my soul-teacher-friend, drinking our coffee, before kids arrive

For Grace, who enters my classroom first, with a giant smile and a full wrap around the body hug because she is happy to be here

For Wonderopolis, because we wondered about four leaf clovers and St. Patrick and all things green and Ireland

For will power to refrain from the bars and desserts in the staffroom

For gratefuls.  Because once you start looking for them, they bombard you and you cannot document them fast enough

For Elisabeth Ellington who always seems to do something in her writing to inspire me

For the gumption to write a post today

For writing. Period.

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

Migration To My Sanctuary #sol16

I could begin this as my boo-hoo tale of how my coffee spilled all over my writing desk ruining papers, a binder and several books.  But, there is great light in this dark tale.  The coffee stained desk was parked in my bedroom, the “winter writing space”.  Today, as the temperature climbed to near 50 degrees, the mess on my desk pushed me to clean up and migrate up to my three season Sanctuary above the garage.

The space heater was hauled in to warm it up a tad and then the move was on.  A few hours later, my soul welled up.  I sat, savoring the gratefulness I have for my husband who made sure that when we added on to our house, I’d have my own space. Love that man.

Let me tell you about my Sanctuary.

My writing desk is really just one of those cheap white tables that fold up – you’ve used them for graduations and garage sales.  Straight from Walmart.  I need lots of space on my desk to spread out as I tend to need several books at hand when I write.  I cover the table with a quilt, hand stitched years ago when my children were small.  Scraps of fabric found their way into this quilt from some of the dresses I made my girls when they were small.  Yeah. Heart stuff here.

Atop the quilt sits a statue of my guardian angel who reminds me to be fearless.  I discovered her years ago in a thrift shop. There’s a story. Feathers are also here – reminders of angels surrounding me.  Quotes and pictures of family adorn my bulletin board for inspiration and to fill my heart with joy.  I have a flower pot filled with fodder (quips and clippings) from random places that I can pull to prompt writing – my hatching station.  I need to write about that.

In the corner is my personal library and my comfy chair I bought myself for my birthday last year. When you turn 50, you can buy yourself presents.  Note to self:  write about the library.

Behind my writing table is my art journaling table.  If I am stuck for writing, I scoot over to art journal.  This clears my mind and always, something appears that needs to be written down.  Like magic.  It’s the angels, I know.

I didn’t even show you my sewing corner.  It’s a mess over there. 🙂

This room.  Days get lost up here.

Where creativity runs free and the muses reside.

A safe haven from the world out there.

My sacred space.

 

The Snooze Button ~ #sol16

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5:30am

The first reminder that the day is new comes from the tune of an alarm alongside my bed.

“Ugh,” I muffle, as I burrow deeper into my bedding.  My husband still sound asleep.

Snooze #1.

A snooze is 9 minutes.  Precisely.  A few snoozes are in store for this morning as the night before brought parent/teacher conferences until 8:00 pm.  It seemed I just left school and here my alarm was blaring that I needed to go back.

“No worries,” I calm myself, as I begin planning my outfit in my mind.  A black pair of pants hang in my closet and a sweater on my shelf, both, I know are clean.  They might not even require ironing.  Ten minutes is saved right there.  Dreamland calls me back to paradise.

5:39 am

Already.  I thought I’d just hit that snooze.  Geez.  I’m not getting up yet. There’s plenty of time.  I don’t need to be at school at 7:00 am today.  I’m giving myself a break.  I’m pretty convincing to myself.

Snooze #2.

Rolling over, my husband stirs, unshaken by the alarms and my snoozes.  I wrap my arm around him and dig underneath his fleece army blanket that he prefers to sleep beneath.  My own coverings of quilts I push off.  Each of us have contrasting preferences for nighttime blankets.  I need heaviness and he, light.

“You are wrapped up in there like Fort Knox,” he teases at night when I get ready for bed.

School dreams take me away this time.  My third graders are at gym and I can’t find the way there.

5:48am

Again.  Is there any way I can stretch the snoozes to be longer?

“Why don’t you just set your alarm for later?” my husband frequently asks, trying to remedy my problem.

“Because.  I like to have some warnings,” I profess.  “Snoozes give me a chance to feel like I get extra sleep.”

The snooze button is tapped again.  I snuggle back up to my husband, who is cool to the touch.

“Aren’t you cold?  You need more covers,” I mother him.

He ignores me and continues to slumber.  His scent of clorine from swimming takes me back to high school, he on the swim team and I, his girl friend.

Snooze #3.

6:24am

The alarm frustrated by now.  The spring sky growing lighter.

“I have to get up,” I whisper to my husband.

“What? Just five more minutes,” as he rolls over to wrap his arm around me.

Easily swayed,  “I guess I don’t need to wash my hair today.  I washed it yesterday,” I remind myself .  A benefit of long hair.

Snooze #9.  Seriously.

6:33am

Oh for Pete’s Sake.

“I have to go,” I urge my husband.

“Just one more snooze,” he begs.

I smile.

He really has no idea what time it is and how many snoozes have gone by,  not needing to be at work until 8:00.

Gone are the years of babies and night time feedings, waking children for daycare or dressing and feeding kids for school.  No longer are teenagers blaring music at night or sneaking in the door in the early morning hours.  Empty nesters, we play this game now.  Who can stay in bed the longest and still get to work?  (Still following our rule that if you are not there early, you’re late.)

This place.

I am grateful we made it to this place in our marriage.  The “children years” test every aspect of a marriage and when the offspring take wing,  a couple is weary and sometimes decide to trail off on their separate paths.  We persevered.

This place.

The morning snuggles with legs intertwined and rhythmic breathing.  I’m sure this is what heaven is like.  I whisper to God, thanking Him for mornings. . . and my husband. . . and his love.

And snooze buttons.

 

Gratitude Quiets The Mind

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Bernice is on a rampage this morning. (Incase you don’t know Bernice, she’s my mind.)

Awakening on a Saturday morning at home, after being gone for almost a week, will get her going like a crazy woman with an anxiety attack.

“Get up and clean this house, for Pete’s sake, it’s disgusting – kitchen, bathroom, bedroom. . . honestly.  The heaps of dirty clothes need to get washed, there are no fresh groceries in the house – get to the store, and you’d better bake something – the boys are home – they are looking for treats, work on some school presentations and planning being  you have all this fresh knowledge in your head from Ohio, and you should get up to school and do some planning for next week anyway, oh my gosh – TAXES!  YOU NEED TO GET GOING ON TAXES!! Your car is still sitting in the driveway, you know from when you hit that deer last weekend!  You’d better get it towed to the shop – and what are you going to drive next week?  Check with insurance and see if you can get a rental and have it covered.  You have not written a blog post all week, you call yourself a writer? TAXES!!  Ugh, walk or do yoga or SOMETHING with your body today – you certainly didn’t need to eat that teramisu and french bread dipped in olive oil last week – not to mention all the other restaraunt eating that does not qualify as very healthy, better change it up – get some food prep done so you aren’t walking that path all week.  Did you exercise AT ALL last week? (Well, yes, I did yoga one day.) THAT’s not enough.  Giddyup!  You’d better call Gracie, have you checked on her lately?  And, your parents, do you even know how your dad is doing??  Check out where the world is on the Ukraine crisis – make sure you spend some time worrying about this – you have two soldier age boys, you know, you NEED to be concerned about this. . . and pray for the people on that missing plane. . . heavens. . .”

She doesn’t stop.  Not even to take a breath.  I dread getting out of bed because I don’t know where to start.

Deep breath – get up and make coffee.

Ritual.  Start with ritual.

Climbing the stairs to my sanctuary to write, I set my coffee down, light a candle and open my notebook that begs for some words on the page.

I hear Bernice tell me to tell me to hurry up – I have things to do today.

Then,  a little nudge of an angel voice whispers in my ear, “Be grateful.”

I close my eyes and breathe from a place deep within myself.

Looking out the window, above my desk, I gaze at the sea blue sky, light fluffy clouds slowly sailing to the east – like ships moving, the sun shining directly in my window onto my notebook, still in rising mode.

My soul wells up.  Bernice quiets down.

I am so grateful for this day God gave me.  This gift of grace.  Of writing, this gift I give to myself, an honoring  of my true self.  The music serenading in the backgound – Chris Rice singing Hallelujas and guitars strumming. My deep dark coffee laced with swirling almond milk – this missing during my days away from home.  The first pen grabbed to write with begs to be written with and words flow out of it. My husband, who never harps on what I should get done on the weekend – he gives me this space.

This is my heart speaking.  I call her “Rose”.

I like listening to Rose.  She’s much nicer than Bernice.

I close my notebook and ask my husband what he’s planning for the day.

He tells me, “A little tv, I might shoot my bow, we should take some fish out for supper.”

I shake my head and smile at his ability to have a quiet mind and wish I could be more like him.  I know this is why God partnered me with him.

“You wanna get bundled up and go for a walk?” I ask.

“Yup, right after this hunting show.”

“Okay.”

I decide to have another cup of coffee and start a load of laundry.

I think it’s going to be a beautiful day.