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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

What is your vision for 2019?  We really can’t know what the future holds, but we can think about what we want to do and be in the coming year.  I’ve never done a vision board before, and I can’t say that I am any kind of expert. I started when my students were working on One Little Word magazine collages.

Yesterday I made the necessary step to add more yoga into my life.  I signed up and paid for a class beginning in February.  And I put it in as a regular alert on my phone.

I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast ever since the winter break when my middle daughter visited.  She made a smoothie every morning and got me hooked.  My youngest daughter gave me a Magic Bullet blender in which the container converts to a cup with a top, so I can blend and go.  My typical recipe is quarter cup Greek yogurt, quarter cup oatmeal, half cup milk, teaspoon of flaxseed, half a banana, half an avocado (or Kale, if the avocado isn’t riper yet), and quarter cup blueberries (or strawberries). I am amazed at how full I feel after drinking it, and I’m not hungry until lunch.

My students worked this week on their one little word projects. I gave them options for creatively representing their words.  I also invited them to blog about their words.  I was moved by Madison’s post.  This 5th grader has the wisdom that I have longed for all my life.  She is comfortable in her skin.  I hope she will hold onto her values of Possibility.

This year, my word is possibility. I like this word because there is no such thing as completely impossible, they say, but I’ve added on it: but there is such thing as possible. Always try because if you don’t, if you lay down and let others control and use and block you from your goal, leave them. Always try. Never set a true goal that limits yourself- whenever you achieve one, go higher and higher, always trying. Have confidence. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The way it’s hard is what makes it a good challenge. Nothing ever comes easy, and it never should, or we’ll all be lazy and fat. Be aware of yourself, and don’t let yourself fall out of shape or routine or such just because you don’t feel like it even though it benefits you.

Because, as hard as it’ll seem…

It’s always

Possible.

(Blog post by Madison: to leave comments, click here.)

 

Poetry Friday round-up is Down Under with Kat.

I didn’t have any ideas about what I would write today.  As I read other Poetry Friday posts, I became more inspired.  Matt Forrest Esenwine celebrates the acceptance of a poem for an anthology honoring poet Donald Hall.  Matt’s post included an image of a snowy road.  The image led me down a path to a new poem.

 

Too many things concern me today.
My attention is crowded
with walls blocking out human sighs.

On my screen I click on an image
of a path
along a snowy road
a mountain in the distance
and find a poem.

I kick those hard stones.
Look up to the blue mountain.

My thoughts are
insignificant,
unspoken as a meadow.

–Margaret Simon, 2019

Someone on Poetry Friday suggested the book Getting the Knack by Stephen Dunning and William Stafford. I’m trying some of the poetry exercises with my students.  This week we tried out the recipe poem.

Recipe for a Poem

One blank page–open, lined, waiting…

A colorful pen. Try a different color each day.

Tip-tap your fingers over the lines making multiple dots.
Dots become letters become words.
Top off with a tasty metaphor–
Marshmallow clouds on a snowy day.
Read out loud.

–Margaret Simon, 2019

 

One Little Word 2019

 

 

See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

When we returned from our holiday break, I found a poem from Poets.org in my inbox.  I subscribe to Teach this Poem, a weekly lesson plan around a selected poem.  The poem Dead Stars by Ada Limón drew me in, and I felt compelled to teach the lesson. To begin, we looked at pictures of the Orion constellation and made attempts to draw it in our notebooks.

Before we read the poem, I talked about how I love poems that take notice of something in nature then go deeper to something more profound.

We find it hard to settle our brains down, and poetry offers us that silence, that quiet space, and allows us to reconnect with ourselves, or with an idea, or with an emotion. (Ada Limón)

When reading a poem with my students, I let them take the lead.  “What do you notice?” “Are there any words you don’t know?” “What do you think the poem is about?”

Each group of students takes the discussion in a different direction.  With my first group, we discussed an interesting metaphor in this line, “I am a hearth of spiders these days: a nest of trying.”  Daniel rephrased the line, “Laying eggs of attempt.” Then we noticed that both hearth and nest are places of caring.

With my second group, theme became the focus.  What is the poet trying to teach us? She wants us to rise above the tide (the hard times) and be alive.  Landon wrote a thematic sentence, “Be alive, reach for the stars, and shine!”

In my third group, stars, constellations, and the fact that we are made of stardust became the topic of discussion.  “But mostly we’re forgetting we’re dead stars too, my mouth is full of dust and I wish to reclaim the rising–” (Ada Limón)

I pulled up an article to read from National Geographic.

Everything we are and everything in the universe and on Earth originated from stardust, and it continually floats through us even today. It directly connects us to the universe, rebuilding our bodies over and again over our lifetimes. (Iris Schrijver)

In response I wrote a septercet, a form created by Jane Yolen with 3 lines of seven syllables each.  The last line is from Ada Limón’s poem “Look, we are not unspectacular things.”

When I work on poetry with my students, I try not to push them to complicated analysis.  There is time for that when they are older.  I hope to expose them to amazing language, to the art and craft of metaphor, and to understand that poetry is always available to them.  Even when they are “rolling their trash bins out.”

A cherita about the stars:

You say look up

Take notice of the stars
Name the one you are

We are the star
dust of many ages
collected as unique thoughts.

(c) Margaret Simon

 

 

 

Published by Abingdon Press

 

When I first met Jake Owensby, he was being consecrated as the fourth Bishop of the Western Louisiana Diocese of the Episcopal Church in 2012. My first impression of him was presence.  It was a brief exchange, but I felt he was fully present and aware of me.

In his new book A Resurrection Shaped Life, Bishop Jake is fully present.  He reveals himself in true reality while showing us how to live with the realities through a relationship with Jesus.

When we repent, we admit that the sorrows, the losses, the wounds, the betrayals, and the regrets of our past have made us into someone we don’t want to be anymore. We die to that self and entrust ourselves to Jesus. From those shattered places in our lives, Christ brings new life; repentance is the beginning of our resurrection.

Reading Bishop Jake’s book was like being present with him, not in the way listening to a sermon would, but like sitting next to him listening and learning how to be a Christian in today’s world.  He accentuates Jesus’s plan for the world, a world of resurrection, in which love displaces fear, “where generosity eliminates deprivation and respect guards the dignity of all.”

Bishop Jake reminds us of who Jesus really is: committed to healing in the world.  Jesus suffered.  We suffer. God does not take away the pain or the suffering; however, through Jesus, we know that suffering is endured out of love and eventually leads to healing.  When we lead a resurrection-shaped life, we live in compassion with imagination and hope.

Jesus changes our mind about God. In Jesus, we see who we truly are as humans.  We are the beloved, not the blameworthy…we slowly begin to exchange our habit of blaming others for the habit of compassion.

Barbara Brown Taylor reminds un that new life starts in the dark. We must go through Good Friday to get to Easter. A Resurrection Shaped Life guides you through the darkness, by wading next to you and showing you the star.

I suggest following Bishop Jake’s blog: Looking for God in the Messy Places.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Write 2019

Click to follow Let’s Write 2019.

Leigh Anne Eck is inviting bloggers to join a new community of writers.  The purpose is for us writers to share and celebrate our writing goals. Click the image above to read more about Leigh Anne’s invitation.

Somehow writing down a plan for writing makes it more real.  WordPress sent me a notification that I have made 1,337 posts.  I’m not sure why that number is significant to WordPress, but it made me realize that I write an average of about 200 posts per year.  I don’t plan to make that a goal, but I do plan to continue to participate in these writing challenges and blogging round ups:

  • March Slice of Life Challenge (and weekly during the other months)
  • April Poem-a-Day
  • December Haiku-a-Day
  • Poetry Friday
  • Laura Shovan’s poem-a-day in February (her birthday month)

I work with two writing groups.  These monthly and bi-monthly meetings keep me writing and working toward publishing goals. In 2018, I celebrated the publishing of my first poetry book for children, Bayou Song.  I am currently working on Swamp Song.  I hope to finish this manuscript in 2019.

Hitting the Send button on submissions takes courage and vulnerability.  I’m trying to get better at it and take rejections in stride.  After all, don’t we read over and over about famous writers getting multiple rejections.  It’s all part of the process.  I hope to be more brave in 2019 and submit more often.

The third goal for my writing life is to write a poem a day.  I do this as part of challenges like the December #haikuforhope and in April as part of National Poetry Month.  Why not do this every day? Using my scrap paper art journal, I am invited to just write without judgement.

I have found a writing home in poetry.  Poetry fits me and is comfortable.  Maybe too comfortable?  One of my writing goals for 2019 is to try a different genre.  I’ve written fiction, but I’ve shied away from memoir.  Two of my writing group partners are writing memoir, so I’m intrigued and inspired.

Writing in a community of writers both strengthens my writing and urges me on to write more, submit more, and to be more.  Would you like to be a part of Let’s Write 2019?  There’s always room for one more at the table.

 

 

Poetry Friday round-up is with Sylvia at Poetry for Children.

 

 

It was one of those all day rains.  One of my last days of  our holiday break, and I was bored.  I cleaned out cabinets, watched shows on Netflix, made a fire in the fireplace, and played around with magazine collage.  During the hectic days of teaching, I crave this kind of time.  Funny how our minds work.  On this day, I was restless and wishing for the rain to stop.

100 % Chance of Rain

(with a borrowed line from Robert Frost “Revelation”)

Wind blown ripples
the water,
whipped like frothed cappuccino,

Rain slants, shower bending,
branches leave the trees.
Saturated earth bleeds
muddy moisture.

Oh, the agitated heart.
The lemons hang, ripe and wet.

But I am still today,
quieted by the storm.
Listening, longing
for the sun.

(c) Margaret Simon

Art Journal collage for my 2019 One Little Word, Grace.

Spiritual Journey is gathering today at Ruth’s blog.  We are writing about our chosen words for 2019.

Choosing a one little word is something I start thinking about weeks before the year’s end. For me it becomes a process of listening to the universe.  This year my thoughts started around Thanksgiving.  The first word I considered was Compassion. 

A compassionate life is something to aspire to. I recently read Bishop Jake Owensby’s latest book A Resurrection Shaped Life. 

“By God’s grace, a new life–what I’m calling a resurrection-shaped life–emerges from suffering and sorrow.  One way in which that new life emerges is in our unguarded engagement with the suffering of others.” (21)

Caring so deeply that we stand beside and hold hands with suffering is what Jesus calls us to; however, the more I thought about this word, the more unworthy I felt.  I don’t want to choose a word that leads me to despair, that feeling of not meeting up with my own expectations.

Another word I considered was Mindfulness.  I love practicing yoga and bringing meditation into my day.  I’ve not made time for this since school started, so perhaps if I gave myself the word mindfulness, I would get back to these spirit-filled activities.  And being in touch with my spiritual center would also lead me to compassion.

These words are still an integral part of my thinking.  I meditated the other day and heard another word, Blessed. Ah, yes.  That’s it.  I am blessed and when I feel blessed, I can bless others.  But the dictionary definition of blessed is “made holy; consecrated.”  This definition makes me feel I am proclaiming something rather than working toward a better me.

In searching for synonyms of compassion, I found a perfect word, one I can wrap my head around, one that is not a claim or full of unlimited expectation.  Simple and sincere…