I’m Sorry, I Can’t Borrow You My Book ~SOL 2018

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A book came to mind that I needed at the moment. It was one I’d devoured and scribbled tracks of my thinking in the margins and throughout it’s pages. I’d memorized where quotes were and knew exactly what chapter to go to upon my need of the words for a place in my paper.

My books are organized, by author, genre, publishing dates even. No other item in my house has an organizational system like my books. I need to know where they are at a given moment for whatever purpose I might need them for.

But, this book?

Was Gone.

I’d searched the location that it should have been in. I ran downstairs to check my other shelves in my bedroom, my stack on my night stand, and then the pile by my chair in the living room.

No Where.

“Think, brain, think, did you have it at school?” I quizzed my forgetful, menopausal mind.

“No, this is not a ‘school’ type book,” it replied.

And, then – I remembered.

I’d borrowed it to someone. I couldn’t remember who and I couldn’t remember when, but I remembered the offering.

And, now, it’s gone.

I don’t know if it will ever come back. And, ordering a new one would not ever be the same. Somewhat distraught and befuddled besides, I try to tell myself it’s okay.

“But what if they don’t even read it and the book is sitting somewhere lost, or worse, what if it gets sold in a garage sale or brought to a thrift store. My own words are in there!” I argue with myself again.

Arge. Will I ever learn?

From now on, this day forward, I need to let others know the name of the book I’m thinking they need to read and have them find it themselves.

But, that seems so selfish. I have so many books. What am I going to do with all these books? I want others to read good books!

Be selfish.

It’s okay.

Do it for your books.

I‚Äôm participating in twowritingteachers March 2018 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. I’ve already missed a day, so I’m out of the contest for prizes, but no worries. I’m just going to keep plugging along. ūüôā

To check out other writers, visit here.

Pet Peeves: Password Problems ~SOL 2018

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“Are you kidding me?” I cry at the screen that has alerted me that I am now locked out of my grad school site “for security purposes” as my password was incorrect five times in a row.¬† Seeking articles on the university library site came to an immediate halt when suddenly, my password was necessary to access an article.

“What’s wrong over there?” my husband asks from the other room.

I explain to him the source of my trauma.

“Whose going to want to get into my account anyway? Who are they protecting it from?” I ask.

“They are protecting it from yourself,” he says, as he watches TV without a flinch.

From myself?

I ususally brush off his smart— comments when my distress becomes his playground for words. But this time is different.

All day I’ve worked on transcribing interviews, analyzing data, searching for articles and writing up sections of an article. I’d not even taken a break for a walk on this 30 degree day in Minnesota.

Consumed.

I shut my laptop and grab my notebook to write this down.

“These things don’t just happen,” I hear a voice in my head.

(I had another paragraph drafted to explain the learning here, but I deleted it as I think the lesson is obvious. And, I’m too lazy to revise it today.)

Shari ūüôā

I‚Äôm participating in twowritingteachers March 2018 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. I’ve already missed a day, so I’m out of the contest for prizes, but no worries. I’m just going to keep plugging along. ūüôā

To check out other writers, visit here.

 

 

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.) ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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.

 

Shaped By The Authors I Love~SOL 2017

I was contemplating the multiple ways in which we tell a story. My notebook is overflowing with writing fodder, but much of it is internal dialogue, collected words and wonderings.  Shaping snippets into story is an art and I really intend to focus more effort on exploring the countless way a story can be told.

I grabbed a couple of books off of my shelf to guide me.  Storycatcher, by Christina Baldwin and The Art of Memior, by Marie Carr jump out to my hands first. Opening to pages scribbled with the chicken tracks of my thinking, both books remind me that our stories are interpretations of our own events.

“Yeah, yeah, I know that,” I babble . ¬†“I’m looking for structure here.”

My mind darted back to last summer when I took an online writing course from Jen Louden. I sought many structures for the story I had drafted. ¬†Amy Krouse Rosenthal, one of my mentor writers and favorite authors popped into my head. ¬†A post was penned about her here. Don’t go here now. ¬†Do it later. You must read to the end of this story first.

“Perhaps I just need to look back at my own dang notes to see what I’ve already pondered,” I scold myself.

So, I did.

“Good stuff here,” I congratulated myself.

My dog, Sandy whined to go outside, so I crankily got up to let her out, and before I sat down to write, I picked up my phone and checked the world’s news.

The first news report on my phone was an article titled, “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” reported by the New York Times.

Okay ~ this is odd. ¬†This first story is not about Donald Trump? It must be good. So, I figured I’d better read it. Besides, it’s by the one and only Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

Oh, how I love her.  Go figure.

You can read it here: “You May Want to Marry My Husband” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. And, you must. ¬†Because you will not understand anymore of this post if you do not. Do it now.

After I wipe up this puddle of tears, I will study how she did this.

But for now, my post/story ends here today.

I have more important things to do.

Shari ūüė¶

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.

 

 

Slowing Down and Finding Words

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I don’t know what this post is about. ¬†It’s a ramble and I apologize upfront.

I’ve been having trouble lately putting words to the images, thoughts and feelings I experience. ¬†It’s not that I can’t recall them, it’s just that I’m struggling for the right fit – the perfect description. ¬†Maybe I’m just exhausted. ¬†Well, it halts me in my tracks. ¬†I get frustrated and end up writing clich√©s or simple phrases just to hold on to the moment.

Last Friday was the most beautiful September day. ¬†As I walked from my car to the school door, carrying my bags and coffee in hand, I caught sight of the horizon. ¬†Fog blanketed the playground and a layer of dark clouds rested along this horizon. ¬†Just at the crust of these clouds, light beamed. ¬†The sun, not showing itself yet, was announcing it’s arrival. The entire sky was glowing with rays of light. ¬†I stopped for a moment to take in its beauty. It filled me. ¬†I had no words.

At lunch, as I walked to the mailbox, I heard honking above.  As I craned my neck to the sky, hundreds of geese flapped their wings in the most magnificent V of geese I have ever seen Рall heading south.

Again.  I stopped to take in the awe.

A boring description – again, I apologize.

As I reached for a poetry book off my shelf this morning, John O’ Donohue, one of my favorite poets and also an Irish teacher, jumped into my hands.

Here was his first poem:


Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

Oh my heavens.

The words I had been clamoring for.

I printed it off and pasted it to my September Birthday Poems collection.

John O’ Donohue understands poetry. ¬†He put words on the page to paint the description of my experience.

For this, I am grateful.

Each day, we have moments of awe. ¬†It’s difficult to describe their significance and maybe we don’t have to. ¬†We can just feel them. ¬†But, sometimes, I want to put it in writing.

John O’Donohue describes it as such:

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.  
It draws no attention to itself, thought it is always secretly there.
It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty,
our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.
Without this subtle quickening, our days would be empty and wearisome, 
and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.
Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us
that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life.
We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs
to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us
and will no enfold, nourish, and sustain us.
The gift of the world is our first blessing.

There are days when it seems these quiet gifts of the world come pouring in. ¬†There are other days where it feels like God forgot that I’m still here. ¬†Perhaps other people need more, on those days, and He thinks I’ll be fine. ¬†But really, it’s the days that I am so consumed with the pace of life that I am blind to what is in front of me.

Slow down, I hear.

Slow down.

The moments are there.

And the words will appear.

 

The Medicine of Words

 

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A new generation began the day my grandson, Grayson, was born into this world.  The first grandchild on both sides of his family, he will pave the way for many more to come.

I watched with anxious eyes as he passed the threshold of his mother’s womb to a place where there is air to breath. His lungs surprised at this. ¬†His body traumatized by the brightness. ¬†And, the cold. ¬† Purple. ¬†His head misshapen – and purple. ¬†My daughter, now Aunt Gracie, and I, the sideline observers, frozen in silence, unbeknownst to what is normal.

And what is not.

Within an hour, fresh color warmed his skin and his little head settled into a perfect shape.  A miracle, we breathed.  Awed.  The color came back to our own faces.

Along with Grayson’s arrival, an entire new shipload of worries set port in my mind.

Scrolling Facebook, a dear old friend who belongs to the Grandma Club, posted an article as a “must read”. ¬†I trust what she posts, so I felt a sense of urgency to read it.

The headline, “Letter to Doctors About the Dangers of Insufficient Exclusive Breastfeeding“. ¬†Apparently, one in four newborns do not get enough milk from their mother’s breast milk the first days of life and this deficiency can lead to “long-term neurodevelopmental impairments including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, severe speech delay, seizure disorders, motor impairments and mental retardation.”

Oh, Heavenly Father.

I felt nauseous and then immediately messaged my daughter to find out how much Grayson had been eating, if the jaundice was improving, were his diapers wet? ¬†Waves of panic sent hot flashes to my already menopausal self. ¬†What should I do? ¬†Perhaps I could buy them a baby scale? ¬†How else would they be able to monitor how much milk he’d be getting? ¬†Perhaps they need to try formula and just forget about breastfeeding. ¬†I kept asking my daughter worrisome questions, but my mind would not rest. ¬†She assured me that the doctor said everything was normal.

“What do they know?” my fearful know-it-all-experienced-mother-self taunting me.

Later that evening, after I’d calmed down a bit, I was drawn into a movie called Spy Games that my husband was watching. ¬†I sat down for a bit.

“Geez, Robert Redford has a lot of lines on his face in this movie,” he said.

“Well, those would be wrinkles my dear, and don’t let the hair fool ya, I think he’s almost 80,” I replied.

“Seriously?” he asked.

“Yup,” I said. ¬†Now, I wasn’t really sure. ¬†I just know that Paul Newman died and they were buddies. ¬†I think. ¬†Well, they were in movies together. ¬†Well, at least that one. . .

I grabbed my Smart phone to double-check my statement.  Fact checking.

“Yup, right here it says he was born August 16, 1936. ¬†He will be 80 this August,” ¬†I have to make sure to let him know that I was spot on with this one. ¬†It’s not all that often I’m right.

I continued to read Robert Redford’s biography, now distracted from the movie. ¬†An interesting heading catches my attention:¬†“The Heartbreaks That Robert Redford Hides“.

He has authorised a new biography ‚Äď but it is the personal tragedies the actor doesn‚Äôt tell us about that make the book remarkable…

On a cool November evening in 1959 Robert Redford kissed goodnight to his 10-week-old son Scott and lay him down in his cot. The rising young star had just moved into a large apartment on West 93rd Street in Manhattan and days earlier had opened on Broadway in new drama The Highest Tree. With his bride of barely a year Lola and still heady from their elopement to marry in Las Vegas, Redford seemed on top of the world. But by the next morning Scott was dead, the victim of cot death, a syndrome that back then did not even have a name. It was the heartbreak of Robert Redford’s life, a tragedy that forever altered his psyche, plunging him into a depression that he only escaped by immersing himself in acting.

Oh Mylanta, Georgia.

Crib death.

Why would God put this article before my eyes tonight when He already knows I’m freaking out about the breast milk? ¬†Seriously, God. ¬†Help me here. ¬†What are You thinking?

I put my phone away and tried to focus on the movie.

After I messaged my daughter.

I just don’t remember these anxieties when I was having my babies. ¬†I’m pretty sure it’s because I was exhausted and just trying to survive. ¬†Or, maybe my mother stayed with me for a few days. ¬†Could it be that I just didn’t have the anxiety that I have now?

No.

It’s more than that.

The internet feeds anxiety.

Any small infraction of abnormality leads me to the worst possible scenarios.  And, I will find them.  Trust me.

It was way better when I didn’t know.

There is a dear wonderful writer whose words I frequently visit. ¬†Her name is Emily P. Freeman and she writes a blog called Chatting at the Sky. ¬†It’s lovely. ¬†The morning after the breast milk/crib death/anxiety/hot flash meltdown, her post showed up in my inbox. On this particular day, she shared the thoughts of a new-to-me writer, Christie Purifoy.

Christie’s words were medicine:

I have always been a follow-the-rules, keep-it-under-control, anxious-to-please kind of girl. Which means I am, more often than not, anxious.

The hum of impending disaster is the white noise of my day. Whether weeding my garden or reading a bedtime book, I am on high alert: for the cough that might be asthma, the rose-bush harboring some soon-to-multiply pest, the crock pot I must remember to fill and start at 11 am exactly. And woven in and out of these small, weedy worries are the invasive vines of my anxiety: the writing deadline, the big decision, the older child who seems, unusually and inexplicably, sad.

If the moment is without crisis, then it is up to me to keep it so.

I stopped reading and shut my laptop and looked around.

Then, I opened it back up to keep reading.

Her first baby, a daughter, was difficult.  Ah-hem.  Mine, too.  But, she writes, this breaking point of feeling out of control is what led her to be grateful for the small moments of grace.  And then, she writes more:

She and I both grew, and my tears dried. Three more babies joined their older sister, and every year I harvested another crop of worries. I grew large again, and the shadow cast by that world on my shoulders obliterated all the tiny, wonderful things.

Umm, yes, me too.  Three more babies.  All more worries.

And finally . . .

It hurts to be sifted by sorrow, and I can glimpse no end to the hurt, and yet I find myself grateful. To be sifted by suffering is to find that all your usual worries have settled down into their proper places. Large uncertainties land in your prayers, plans for the future edge your daydreams, and the small anxieties that once loomed so large on your shoulders float down and far away where they look like just what they are: the dust beneath your feet.

Now lift your eyes and look around you.

Here, at last, is room for each given breath. The doorway is wet with tears, yet this is a spacious place and a land of small wonders.

I can’t even.

How is it that another human being can so precisely craft the words that are the exact replica of the life that you are living?  I am frequently gifted with words from others in this way.  God uses writers (and artists and doctors and musicians and ministers and human beings, basically) to speak to others.  All of us are just messengers.

Immediately, Christie’s words are printed in order for me to reread and talk back to, to Christie really, my new writing friend (all authors I love are my writing friends) pen in hand, jotting down my own thoughts to these words. ¬†Authentic “close reading” at it finest.

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She is me and I am her.  Some words are meant to marinate in the brain, to savor, to digest in such a way that the message is so clear, so understood.  These words were meant to teach me.  It was my job to study them. There are big lessons in here.  Not surprisingly, lessons that have been taught to me before, many times before.  However, I am in a new context Рas grandma.  The lesson needed to be retaught.

In education, we call this transfer. ¬†I remember years ago, teaching a listening lesson to third graders. ¬†Later on, a student asked me, “Should we listen here, too, like we did this morning?”

How are we to know that our lessons learned are to be applied in many different circumstances?  Why do we forget?

Because we are humans.

Thankfully, we have teachers and writers to keep reteaching us.

It’s okay.

God knows we’ve got this.

It will all be okay.

I need to look for small wonders.

I receive a text from my daughter after Grayson’s one week dr. visit –

“The dr. said we don’t have to worry about jaundice anymore because he’s gained 6 oz. since Friday! So, I can stop the extra formula, too!”

Okay.

I guess they do know.

 

Letter To My Unborn Grandson

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Today, I am a grandma in waiting. . .

My firstborn daughter was induced yesterday and is still in labor.

“Today is the day,” the doctor said.

I’m not sure what to do with myself, or what to write.

“Write a letter to your unborn grandson,” I heard Gabby say.

“What? What would I say?” I replied.

“Something will come. ¬†Trust me. ¬†Just get it started, I’ll open the door for what needs to be said,” she promised.

“Okay, I’ll try.”

“You might as well, you’ve got nothing else workin’ for ya,”

“I said I would, now you are sounding like Bernice. ¬†Be nice. Geez.”

This is how things go in the morning when I show up to write, whether I have something or not, my writing angel sits and waits and gives me guidance.  I really need to listen to her more because as I read through my old notebooks, she has been telling me to do the same things over and over.  I always have good intentions, but I lack follow through because of distractions or fear.  I need to vow to commit to listen to her.

So. . . here goes. . .

Dear Soon-To-Be-Grandson-Of-Mine,

I’m sorry. ¬†I’m sorry we are all so obsessed with meeting you that we are evacuating you from your warm and safe home before you are ready. ¬†I know that where you are right now is your refuge – your nurture nook – your Sanctuary – your hide-away from the harsh conditions of this world. ¬†If I were you, I’d never come out, the introvert I am. ¬†Maybe you and I will have this in common.

This world is scary. ¬†There are things that could hurt you, even things that could take you away from us. ¬†Alligators, swimming pools, men with guns, drugs and alcohol, illness, depression. Already, you are not even here and I fear what the world could do to you. There are bullies and your first love will break your heart into a million little pieces. ¬†You might have teachers so overwhelmed with today’s standards that they don’t have time to see who you are. ¬†Your coaches might not let you play because they don’t think you are good enough. ¬†Or, maybe you will be an artist, but will fear being who you really are – all these hunters, fishermen and athletes surrounding you. ¬†I fear you will succumb to the pressures of the world and feel the hate from those who are angry and worse yet, that you¬†will¬†be angry back at them. ¬†And, I worry that you will believe ¬†a society that tells us you have to be the best, have the best and get as much as you can.¬† ¬†

I’m here, beautiful grandson, as your grandmother,¬†to¬†oversee what your parents miss in protecting you from all of this.

But, I know, in reality, that I can’t.

I try to have hope for our world ‚Äď I do. ¬†I’m ¬†praying that you will have strength and resilience and that whatever hurts you also shapes you into a more loving and beautiful human being. ¬†I’m praying for our leaders and that the people of our country have enough love in their hearts to choose a president who leads with this same compassionate love. I’m praying for the people who carry so much hate, those who feel violence is the best answer. I’m praying for those with mental illness, that they receive help and understanding from someone who cares. I’m praying for a world that listens to one another without judgement. ¬†And, I’m praying for our environment to be safe enough for us to keep living here. Our foods are causing cancer, our cell phones causing loneliness. ¬†I just keep praying and praying.

It’s all I have to hang on to.

The prayers of the grandmothers.

But, today, I must focus on the present. Your mother has been in labor for a long time. She goes without food or sleep and I fear her nearing exhaustion. She and your dad have waited for you for so long. Two babies they‚Äôve lost before you, they call them miscarriages. The world calls them not babies yet, but they were, trust me. ¬†They are your siblings ‚Äď little angels that will guide every step of your time here on this earth. Your parents carry this extra love they were holding for both of them.

Triple Love you’ll get.

So much love waits for you, dear little one.

So, don’t be afraid. Even though we are. We don’t want to push our fears on you. Instead, we will shower you will love, so you feel safe.

Until you are able to go out into the world without us.

That’s where your little sibling angels will take over and they will each take a hand.

That gives me hope.

Love, Your Grandmother

Whoa.

Shed some tears here. ¬†For Pete’s Sake. I honestly have no idea where this stuff comes from. ¬†Well, yes, I do. . .

‚ÄúThank you, Gabby,” I say to my dear angel friend who always seems to know what she’s talking about.

‚ÄúYou‚Äôre welcome,” she smirks, “All I did was hold the door open.”

And she winks at me.

“My work is done here,” she says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am The Moon #sol16

How am I the moon?
a poem ~ Shari Daniels
The moon is ever changing
emptying and filling
unlearning the old
to learn new

Always present
but sometimes needs 
to disappear
to become new again

Silent
it watches
observing
when ready to be seen
you notice it
speaking volumes

Living in seasons
aligning with human energies
it whispers
the natural time
for starting things, maturing
reaping
rest 
renewal 
and planning

This first full moon 
after spring equinox
reminds us
to rest, stop, reflect.

And begin again
with new eyes.