I don’t want to write about

This summer I taught a graduate course for teachers that centered on identity, employing a National Writing Project style. One of our texts was a choice of books on the art of writing. For my next few posts, I thought I’d revisit those. This entry comes from Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Here are 10 things I don’t want to write about.

I don’t want to write about how after 4 months I’m still awake in the middle of the night, coughing and not breathing.

I don’t want to write about this pain in my abdominals, which should have subsided by now, which was caused by the most destructive antibiotic ever, which was the third I’ve taken in 4 months, which I quit early because it caused me so much pain I had to leave school thrice last week, which prevented me from blogging, which still hasn’t killed this exhausting cough.

I don’t want to write about exhaustion.

I don’t want to write about doctors who don’t know how to help me. Give me a goddammed inhaler already.

I don’t want to write about my adult brother, living in my basement,  hosting a stranger, despite my kids being home, despite my unease.

I don’t want to write about how my youngest is sleeping on the couch at my urging, so he wouldn’t be kept up by the adults in the basement.

I don’t want to write about how two of my kids are home, and one is still away, and the strange hole that exists in my heart in his absence.

I don’t want to write about the ugliness at school lately, about teachers being treated in ways they never would have before our shitty governor changed all that. Just because you have the “tools” doesn’t mean you should use them.

I don’t want to write about how because I needed to attend a school board meeting, to keep my eye on the use of the tools, I gave up things that I love, like dinner with my mom and nieces, a beekeeping meeting, tucking in my goats.

I don’t want to write about how my tea is now lukewarm, because it took me so long to write about these things that I don’t want to write about.

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I don’t want to write about

Fresh Air

My family and I headed “up north” this weekend for a family ski trip. Feeling under the weather, I wasn’t sure this morning if I’d be reading in the lodge or joining them on the hills. But as we arrived, the snow was so tempting. I geared up.

The fresh air and family time were healing. The snow was perfect and I felt strong gliding down the hills. At one point, my son, Noel, my husband and I were riding up the lift, when a snowball hit Noel. I immediately assumed it was our youngest son, and yelled, “Hey!” An embarrassed guy below laughed and apologized, “I thought you were Kevin!” We laughed.

By the end of the day, with tired legs and cold noses, we made our last run. It was a little scary, but I reminded myself of Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It’s reassuring, isn’t it?

My husband and I waited at the meeting spot, when we spotted Noel. We called out to him just as he turned toward us. Only, this guy was riding a snowboard and Noel was skiing. He sported a similar blue coat, hat and goggles, and even had the same scruffy facial hair. It must have been Kevin!

It was a beautiful day. I may be sore and a bit tired, but I believe in the healing power of laughter, of family, and of nature.

Fresh Air

Winter Bees

Perhaps you’ve heard about Winter Bees. Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen write about them in their book:

“Born with eyelash legs
and tinsel wings
we are nothing on our own.
Together, we are One….Deep in the winter hive,
we burn like a golden sun.”

We’ve had a winter here in Wisconsin. The longest cold spells of any recent winter. Wind. I’m not complaining, just stating the facts. I pledged 5 years ago not to complain about the winter, and I haven’t. Nonetheless, this winter was brutal.

And so… I didn’t expect the magic I found when the weather lifted earlier this week. I’d known for some time that one of my bee hives hadn’t made it. I thoroughly expected the same fate of my second hive, as I trudged out there without any bee protection- no smoker, no veil, no gloves.

But as I opened the hive, thousands spilled out, flying all around me, dancing in the sunlight! They survived! Thankfully, none stung me, and I kindly repaid them by refilling their feeder.

These beautiful creatures give me hope.

We can learn so much from bees, but for today I’ll take this: find a supportive, interdependent community, stick together, share. Through this collective, we can all find our own light and let it shine.

 

 

Winter Bees

Begin Again

11454297503_e27946e4ff_hI’m up at 3 am, having my nightly coughing attack, happy to be reminded that it’s March 1st. An opportunity to begin again. I’ve never been completely successful with this challenge, and though I won’t promise to post every day, I’m going to try.

Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had a few spring-like days, which has me feeling hopeful, despite being sick. My window is cracked, the wind blowing, and I just saw a pigeon fly by. Well, I hope it was a pigeon.

I’m usually a really good sleeper. But I’ve been missing out! Who knew the energy one could feel in these early hours? Walking barefoot, with only the entry light left aglow, I see my house in a new light. Yesterday, I baked banana bread and did yoga in the same early hours, leaving me to feel quite accomplished by 6 am.

I also noticed that at 2 am, my son was still up playing video games. I’ll deal with that one later.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope that I’m back to full health and restful nights soon, but for now, I’m going to be grateful for the beauty of uninterrupted writing time. I’m ready to get back into the practice of daily slicing and reading others’ blogs, too.

Let’s all begin again!

 

Begin Again

More book love #SOL17

solI’m leading a year-long children’s literature book study with elementary teachers. We’ve been alternating between chapter books and picture books, focusing on books that feature either diverse characters or that were written by diverse authors and illustrators.

It’s been fun, yet challenging, to make the best book choice each month. This year at WSRA, my March book pick fell right into my lap.

I went to see Kwame Alexander, poet and writer of Crossover and Booked. I had no idea that his first book was a picture book. Even better, he was about to release a stunning nonfiction book about endangered animals. Hurrah for Animal Ark! 

The book is centered around the stunning photographs by Joel Sartore, who has been photographing endangered animals for a special project called The Photo Ark. Just as beautiful are Kwame Alexander’s words- haiku- as pleasing to the ear as the photos are to the eyes.

Take a listen for yourself as Kwame Alexander recites the center pages– powerful words that urge us to take responsibility and take action.

I’m so excited to share this book with my team next week. You should check it out, too!

Animal Ark

More book love #SOL17

New Shoes

solWhat is it about new shoes? I definitely had a “shoe thing” when I was younger. Then came the kids, and my affinity for shoes and fashion turned to an affinity for baby hats and kids’ fashion. Mostly.

A few months ago, I stumbled upon the most delightful pair at a second hand shop. I entered the shop with my daughter, and immediately my eyes found them. What were the chances that they’d be my size exactly? What were the chances that the heel height would be just right~ not too high? What were the chances that the beautiful rose-colored leather would match with so many things in my wardrobe.

Needless to say, they are now mine, and every time I wear them I hear “I love your shoes!” all. day. long. Seriously, last week two custodians simultaneously complimented them. It made me laugh!

Yesterday, my son Luke took himself shopping for new shoes for his gym class that started today. It was strange sending my baby with my credit card and a spending limit to shop for himself. He even went to a Nike Outlet in order to save money. He found the shoes in record time, and came home with a big smile on his face.

This kid has been pushing some limits lately, flexing his independence muscles. I could tell that he was proud of this successful shopping trip. And I definitely recognized that I have new shoes glow on his face.

At the end of the day, Luke fell sound asleep on the couch. He may be 17, but in that moment, I smiled, seeing his inner 4-year-old, curled up on his mom’s couch. With his new shoes on.

New Shoes

Book Magic

I’m reading The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Award winner.

This book is delicious.Image result

First, there are these characters with whom it didn’t take long at all to fall in love: Xan, a lovely, wise witch, Luna, an innocent and curious girl, Glerk, a gentle giant of a swamp monster, and Fyrian, a naive, yet lovable dragon. And then there’s Antain, an elder in training, who questions the status quo and follows his heart.

And then there’s the writing. Kelly Barnhill has imagined and built a magical world. Just listen to the description-

“At the center of the forest was a small swamp- bubbly, sulfury, and noxious, fed and warmed by an underground, restlessly sleeping volcano and covered with a slick of slime whose color ranged from poison green to lightning blue to blood red, depending on the time of the year.”

And then there is the poetry, beautiful lines shared by the wise Glerk-

“Patience has now wing…
Patience does not run
Nor blow, nor skitter, nor falter.
Patience is the swell of the ocean;

Patience is the sigh of the mountain;
Patience is the shirr of the Bog;
Patience is the chorus of stars,
Infinitely singing.”

My book study group is reading this book together. I’m so grateful
for the story, the beautiful language, and the knowing that I’ll be able to talk about it with colleagues soon. I do wish I could sit down with Ms. Barnhill to talk about her writing! I hope you’ll pick it up as well!sol

Book Magic