Custodians of Our Inner World #SOL 23/31 ~ 2021

John O’ Donahue, author, poet, philosopher, and theologian, was adopted as my guardian spirit for my March 2021 notebook. I’d read of this ritual in choosing an author or influential being as a guardian spirit for each new notebook from Austin Kleon. I thought, yes, I need the whispers of these past wisdom spirits.

Also, while this notebook is in use, I also track down the written work of the guardian spirit and do some close ponderous reading. Quite often, the language of the writer will weave its way into the written words of my own wreckage of words.

In Walking in Wonder, in which I’ve been reading in the mornings, O’ Donahue writes that, “Each one of us is the custodian of an inner world that we carry around with us” (p. 7). How lovely this is to think about. A custodian is such an important essential worker. One who keeps the property well cared for, cleaning out the dirt and residue, pruning, and shining up the valuables for the world to see. He never seems to take vacation, and I’ve always believed that one must treat the custodian with the greatest of respect, or your garbage can might not get emptied. All that junk piles up pretty quickly.

He goes on to say how within ourselves, we carry a whole harvest of lived experience. Yet, it seems like these memories just vanish if not revisited regularity. Sadly, he continues, “memory seems to be focused almost exclusively on past woundedness and hurt, some of it induced and some real.” If we can be sure to trust our custodians, perhaps she can alert us to when we need a good spring cleaning.

I wrote these lines down in my notebook:

“It’s sad that people don’t use their good memories and revisit again and again the harvest of memory that is within them, and live out of the riches of that harvest, rather than out of the poverty of their woundedness. . . You can go back within yourself to great things that have happened to you and enjoy them and allow them to shelter and bless you again” (p. 12-13).

This. I had to pause and savor for a moment.

What more reason can we have for writing? in being story-catcher of this warm harvest? Each time I reread a story I’ve captured in detail, it’s relived as if it’s happening again in my imagination and I feel lighter, my heart expands and I’m reminded of how grateful I am for the life I’ve experienced. Even more so to have it written down in my notebook – for safe keeping, and for lifting me when my heart needs lifting.

Let me share one story with you that brings a small memory back and makes me chuckle, mostly because my husband and I have no willpower. This story is in comics, which sometimes allows me to capture more than if I wrote the description with words.

There are thousands of moments to capture into our notebooks, the smallest episodes that we think don’t matter.

Until they do.

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.

Finding A Way Out of Darkness #SOL 19/31 ~ 2021

Directions for Light

Find an old notebook
any will do
composition notebooks
more forgiving
than fancy sketchbooks

listen to music
Helen Jane Long
and piano is lovely
or David Nevue

dip a brush in some color
sweep it across 
the width of the page
extra water
brings some light
to the darkness

let it dry
blow on it if you must

draw some letters
start with the alphabet
do it again
and again 
if you like
you don't have to
if you don't want to

write one sentence
with letters you like
any sentence will do
whatever comes to mind

doodle some flowers
colored daisies are nice
use a marker 
instead of a brush
any color is fine

there
now you've made 
a pretty picture
all ready
for the first day
of spring

and there will be
light

i promise

Shari Daniels draft


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.

I’m also participating in Poetry Friday this week. If you’d like to immerse yourself in poetry in this weekend, Linda at Teacherdance is hosting the party. Stop by and read some poetry or add your own!

Sleeping Issues SOS ~ #SOL 10/31 2021

It was another restless night. FALLING asleep is not my problem, but waking up at 3:00am and wrestling for hours to get back to sleep is. Often I don’t get back to sleep. This has been going on for months and months. 

I’ve always been a hard sleeper – needing a solid 8 hours. But, in the last year, it seems all that has changed. 

Certainly, the good old hot flashes play a role, but I have remedied that and they have diminished. One cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning has been my rule. The electronics go off a couple of hours before bed, so only book reading sings sweet lullabies to my eyes. 

These strategies help me GET to sleep. I need some good strategies for that 3:00am waking hour so I avoid my usual default strategy of thinking through my book of worries. 

A dear friend of mine, who is a golfer, shared this strategy once. He picks a golf course he has played at and then reimagines himself playing the entire course, starting at hole #1 – all the strokes and penalties included. He said he never makes it to hole #9. 

I don’t have golf courses. I wish I did. Maybe I should start golfing.

Elizabeth Gilbert says to get up and do something. Anything. As soon as you begin to think, you’ll go down into a state of rumination. Avoid that at all costs. No horizontal thinking.

I’ve tried that and then I fall asleep in my reading chair and wake up in a brain fog and a kink in my neck.

My husband thinks I need snuggling. Well. . . 

In some research, I found that humans used to sleep in two shifts, a “first” and “second” sleep. In between people would get up for a few hours and do quiet chores, read, write or other things and then go back to sleep for a few hours before their day began. This apparently faded out in the 17th Century. Perhaps that would have been a better time period for me.

This post is an SOS plea. What are your strategies that help? Warm milk? Sleep apps?

#sleep problems  #SOS  #needinghelp  #insomnia  #sweet lullabies  #counting sheep

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.

A writing practice can be a means of “gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life” and be a medium to “explore the possibilities of your future in the context of your whole life.” ~ Ira Progoff

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. 

The Wild Remedy ~Mending a Weary Soul

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It’s all I have to bring today

This, and my heart beside

This, and my heart, and all the fields

And all the meadows wide

Be sure you count – should I forget

Some one the sum could tell –

This, and my heart, and all the Bees

Which in the clover dwell.

~Emily Dickenson (1830-1886)

This weary soul of mine succumbed to social media early in the morning, as some days, scrolling is all I can muster. My hand, even too exhausted to lift the pen to my notebook page.

On this particular day, a teacher-writer-soul friend, Mary Lee Haun, was also having a weary kind of day.  Her #poemofpresence whispered to the quiet corners of my dissonance:

today I am sad

please don’t try to cheer me up

there’s nothing for it

My fingers typed a few words to let her know that I felt her angst as well. I shared with her a word I’d recently learned, one that named this kind of tired – a word in Tibetan:  ye tang che. The ye part means “totally, completely”, and the rest of it means “exhausted”. Altogether, ye tang che means “totally exhausted”.

Devendra Banhart taught me this word, while listening to him on a recent episode of the On Being podcast. The lovely language and voices of this podcast are healing, so I turn here often in times of need. The word, ye tang che, Devendra credits to have learned from Pema Chadron in his book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times.

I had jotted it into my notebook to bring up in moments of despair. Like this.

A lovely dear friend of us both, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, swept in to save us on this dreary day. My heart sang just seeing her name and an image of her responding to our short conversation.

She offered a gift: a recommendation of a book.

The Wild Remedy ~ How Nature Mends Us by Emma Mitchell.

With a slight surge of new energy, a quick exploration brought me to the contents of Emma’s book. Emma suffers of “the grey slug” or depression, as some know it as. She shares her journey through nature as a balm to lift the grey from her days. Winding paths through the woods, drawing and painting the discoveries along her way fill her illustrated diaries. Month by month, she charts her highs and lows and the neuroscience of how our bodies, minds, spirits and hearts receive the natural healing benefits of plants and wildlife when we step into the wild.

Her book arrived on my doorstep yesterday.

All of a sudden, I’m witnessing more bees, and fields and meadows wide.

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~ from my morning walk ~

And . . . my heart is beginning to mend from all of this ye tang che.

 

The Essence of Old Books~SOL#19~Day#2

I have a book obsession. While new books are lovely, old ones speak to my soul in a multitude of ways that I am not sure I can describe.

But, I will try.

Aesthetics are important to me. How objects, spaces, sounds and words feel can prompt my senses to go into warm fuzzy mode, give me goosebumps, expand my heart and seriously increase my oxytocin levels. (Or, the opposite can occur. But, we aren’t going there today.)

I wish I could tell you how an old book feels in my hand. It’s thickly textured pages are housed in a cloth shell worn with time. One can only imagine the hands that have embraced this treasure . Golden lettering announce it’s title. Pages fragile, dozens or more sets of eyes having studied the words that rest upon them, ever so gently turning each page to meet previous ones read. And, old books are heavy. They reign when competing with the paperbacks of today.

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I picked this one up to read this morning. It’s title, The Child, by Amy Eliza Tanner, copy write ~ 1904. Inside the front cover, a human being’s name graces the page, in delicate black ink cursive handwriting of which appears to have come from a fountain pen of sorts.

“Who is this woman?” I wonder. “Hertha?” not “Bertha”, but, “Hertha”.

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Well, my need-to-know-mind won’t let this rest, so I do a quick search to see who this woman is. I’m led to a photo:

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. . . which leads me to Ancestry.com. I can’t go there. Entire weekends have been lost there. I know better.

Back to the book.

I had not heard of Amy Eliza Tanner, the author of the book, in education circles. And, I do read and research educational pedagogies and philosophies (this sounds arrogant, and I apologize if it comes off that way, but it’s more a curse than a blessing). A quick research on Amy Eliza Tanner results in some fascinating fodder to add to my scholarly drawers of who to know from education past. Here she is in the center of this photo:

Look at how empowered she looks. Good heavens, John Dewey is there. Have I been living under a rock in not knowing this woman? Honestly, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. I could continue to read about her. She lived a most resilient life among her male counterparts. But, I don’t.

Because, here. Here is the ESSENCE of why I love old books:

The words.

In the introduction by G. Stanley Hall,

“If there is such a thing as a ‘call to teach’ it consists of loving children, and with love go insight, the  power to serve, and the desire to help each child to the maximum development of body and should of which he is capable. When vocational guidance is fully developed those intending to teach will ask themselves the question, which is the supreme test of their fitness,

“Do I really love children?”

Those who do not, have no right to teach.”

He goes on to say this message is Amy Eliza Tanners’ chief purpose in writing this book.

1904. It takes a whole lotta love to to do this job. We forget about that sometimes as we don’t see it enough in the educational literature of today. Yet, we know it. We feel it. It’s why this job hurts so much sometimes.

This, my friends . . .

is why I adore old books, AND. . .

is why I get nothing done.

But, it brings me to my happy place of bliss, wonder, and awe.

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

Why Are We Here? ~ SOL#2019~ Day 1

notebooks

Here we are. Again.

But why? Our days are full. Our plates are full. Our minds are full. Adding one more thing feels impossible.

After spending an hour reading the posts of others who have committed 31 days of their writing lives to share with the world, it was evident as to what brings us here.

Some writing friends feel the nudge through the energy of others, feeling a pull to connect with like-minded-teacher-writer-soul-sisters. We work in places where perhaps others do not write or wish to write, nor do they understand why in the world we would WANT to write. We are all writers here. Join in and hold hands. High five!

Some writing friends are carrying pain, dreariness and are walking through sludge at this time of year. Whether they or a loved one is going through difficult times, or maybe  just feeling the pressures and stress of our vocation that March brings, we know someone here will understand and lift us up. There is connection here. If a writer is hurting, we all open up and feel her heart. Grab a tissue because tears will be shed.

Some writing friends have been asleep at the wheel. Attuned to the spin cycle in the mind and neglecting the gifts the world puts before us. A sharpened writing mind takes us out of our craziness and into the present. We crave this awareness of the world – of others – and the wonder of living as a human. This sense of awe is what keeps us alive and brings bliss to our souls.

Some writing friends have not been writing and wish for a cultivated habit of coming to the page each day. They realize they have not been story-catching the moments of their existence. Fear sets in. How will anyone know we were ever here on this planet without the snippets of a life well-lived left behind? A SOL challenge will get that stuff down.

For me, it’s all of this. Connection. Well-being. Community. Awareness. Story-catching.

But, mostly, it’s because of the mystery of not knowing where I’ll end up. Each writing journey starts with a line and ends up somewhere else. It’s like a present I give myself each day. A good writing friend once told me it’s the surprise in the next line that becomes the writer’s addiction.  Or, maybe that was Donald Murray. 🙂

And,the best part? Writing is free.

Words are free! All of them! Even the long ones!

Not the notebooks, though. . . and the pens. . . and the books. . . and the cookies I need to eat to keep me writing. . .

But the words? Yeah. They’re free.

Why would anyone NOT want to write?

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2019 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂