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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link.

Carol is gathering Spiritual Journey posts today around the topic Blossoms of Joy. When I first typed it, I wrote “Blossoming Joy,” which slightly changes the blossoms into action. I have come to believe that we are all in the process of blossoming. We never arrive because life is hard and good and disappointing and joyful all wrapped up on any given day.

I’ve been listening to Untamed by Glennon Doyle. It’s a book full of quotable quotes. This is one that spoke to me.

“I am here to keep becoming truer, more beautiful versions of myself again and again forever. To be alive is to be in a perpetual state of revolution. Whether I like it or not, pain is the fuel of revolution. Everything I need to become the woman I’m meant to be next is inside my feelings of now. Life is alchemy, and emotions are the fire that turns me to gold. I will continue to become only if I resist extinguishing myself a million times a day. If I can sit in the fire of my own feelings, I will keep becoming.”

Glennon Doyle, Untamed

My spiritual journey is the alchemy that keeps me blossoming. I’m in a constant revolution with my inner and outer selves. Outside I want to show I’ve got everything under control. No rocky roads here. Smooth sailing. I know what I am doing, and I am doing it.

Practically every day, someone in the halls will comment about my appearance. Whether it’s the cute Dr. Seuss “Teacher, I am!” mask or the shoes I’m wearing, someone will say something. I know. I know. This is how women interact. I find myself doing it every day.

In fact, one day a little kindergarten girl was rushing in the hallway. She said, “I have to go to the bathroom,” and rushed by me. Then I heard from her little sweet voice, “But I love your hair!”

Perhaps she genuinely had noticed and liked my hair. But it struck me that even our young girls are trained to greet another girl with a compliment about her looks.

I’m not saying this practice is one I would change so much as notice. Our society trains girls at a very young age that how you look matters. Is this healthy?

Lucille Clifton is one of my favorite poets. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing her read at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Her poem “roots” was the poem of the month for A Network of Grateful Living. I loved the voice and cadence so much that I wrote beside her. Literally placed the poem on a document and wrote my own beside her. Glennon’s words and my own inner thoughts led me to this poem.

wings

call it fire even,

call it anything.

it’s the desire in us

to fly.

we hold our hands

above our heads

and call them

branches,

and grow on them.

we flutter them and make melodies.

call them stories, wild stories.

we are lost in the cumulonimbus

field of clouds.

call it lightning,

our flames.

call it wings.

it’s the wild in us.

it’s the wild of us.

it is the wild, call it

whatever you want to.

call it blossoming.

Margaret Simon, after Lucille Clifton
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Open Invitation to Write on Sharing Our Stories

 One of the most satisfying things about teaching for me is learning. I learn something new every day, and it still surprises me. On Teach this Poem by Poets.org, I learned about a poetic device: caesura, referring to a pause for a beat in the rhythm of a verse, often indicated by a line break or by punctuation. This literary device was used with effectiveness in a poem by Yesenia Montilla, a brief meditation on breath.

A brief meditation on breath

–they’re saying
this virus takes your breath away, not
like a mother’s love or like a good kiss
from your lover’s soft mouth but like the police
it can kill you fast or slow; dealer’s choice.
a pallbearer carrying your body without a casket.
they say it’s so contagious it could be quite
breathtaking. so persistent it might as well
be breathing                        down your neck—

Copyright © 2020 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

A long held belief of mine is that our bodies will tell us when to pause. I’ve believed this since 1995 when a herniated disc in my spine caused severe pain and subsequent surgery. There was nothing to do but pause and heal. Whenever I moved, pain would send me back. Luckily, I’ve not had any serious trouble since then, but I have learned to listen and pause when my body tells me to. I haven’t quite conquered yet the annoyance and guilt that sets in. We always want answers, so when the answer is “wait”, we twiddle thumbs and pace and complain.

Pause to enjoy the azaleas–
Walking to the parking lot from school, I stopped to notice how two azalea bushes were intertwined.

Following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’ve been writing morning pages for a few months. They are scribbled scratches before my coffee, before my mind wakes up. I really wasn’t sure this exercise was working for me. I’ve been resistant and irritated about it. Like when my body hurts, morning pages were a kind of pain in my side. I did them out of obligation, a commitment to a weekly group. But yesterday morning, a poem came out. And today, I wrote about a picture book idea.

So, wait a minute…you’re telling me that writing morning pages every day since January 3rd is finally opening up your creativity? Could it really take that long? Perhaps it won’t for you, but it has for me. And I’m still unsure if I’ll keep up the practice after our last meeting this week. Yet, there is something to be said for taking a pause, taking your pulse before the day begins.

Like caesura Pause. Begin. Be.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Joining Sharing our Stories Magic

On Sharing our Stories Magic, Ruth posts a weekly writing prompt. This week the prompt came as a challenge to write about a sunset without using color or seasonal language yet evoking a sense of both through the story. My mind naturally goes to poetry, so I wrote a poem. In June of 2019, my parents moved to a retirement home, and my siblings and I cleared out their home of 30 years. Even though, thankfully, Mom and Dad are both living healthy lives, the move was like a death. Their home on the lake had become a peaceful vacation spot for me and my family. I mourned this loss in this sunset poem.

The Last Time

You won’t know when the last day comes,
but it will come with a sunset
while you sit in the porch swing
dangling your feet like you did as a child
perhaps talking with your brother.

Hummingbirds will hum at the feeder,
a blown glass ornament your mother left behind
for you to fill
with sweet water just to see their wings
flutter hungrily, hearts beating faster than
the speed of sound.


The orb that makes each day new
ends this day
in silent symphony
hovering over the lake
bathing it in jewels
you can hold in your hand
lay down in the velvet-lined jewelry box
she left in her closet
for you to find.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

The phone rings blinking Facetime, and I know who’s calling, but this time he greets me differently.

“How a doin?”

Leo, 27 months learns a new phrase almost daily. This one was his latest. He was so excited to say it.

“Hey, Leo. I’ve been sick.”

In the background, Maggie says, “Ma mère‘s tummy hurts.”

“Hold you, Ma mère!” Leo exclaims with a concerned expression that melts my heart.

“Oh, I wish I could hold you.”

“Tummy. Kiss it. Better.” He leans forward and kisses the screen.

Leo kisses make everything better.

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“I have no news to tell you, for the days are all the same, I have no ideas, except to think that a field of wheat or a cypress is well worth the trouble of looking at close up, and so on.” – Vincent van Gogh

Red Berries after the Rain by Margaret Simon

Waiting for the rain to stop to take my daily walk, I looked out the kitchen window and saw these berries, made redder by the low light and wetness. I’ve been trying out photography lately with a camera I’ve had stored away. I wrote a Slice about it on Tuesday.

Here is an invitation to write a small poem, one of noticing something new or something old in new light. Write a small poem in the comments and take a moment to read other poems. Leave encouraging comments. I hope you are all enjoying a peaceful Thanksgiving. It may look different this year, but it is still a time to give thanks. And my thanks go out to all of you who stop by my little corner of the world.

Within the walls
of rainy days,
some things still sing
Praise.
Listen harder.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Susan Bruck at Soul Blossom Living.

This week the Sunday Night Swaggers are drafting to a challenge from Linda Mitchell, an aubade, which is a praise song to the morning. I read on Sharing our Stories a prompt for capturing sounds in your writing. To me sounds and aubade seemed to go together.

Sound is a huge influence on people’s attention.—Walter Murch

Sounds of the Morning

Is there a sound that wakes the morning?
An alarm of the softest hum,
shrill tweet of a passing bird,
a gurgle from the coffee pot?

Will you wake from your garden
And look for me?

Will I kneel down in prayer
Or throw my head back and laugh?

Oh morning, your welcoming glaze
bathes kindness over the day.

I could bask in your freshness
And forget hatred.

Stay awhile, sunrise!

Margaret Simon, draft

To read other Aubade poems:
Linda Mitchell
Heidi Mordhorst
Molly Hogan
Catherine Flynn

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Ruth is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at her blog.

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough!” ~Meister Eckhart

What is it about November that brings out the gratitude in us? Is it the holiday of Thanksgiving? Is it the cool fall air? Is it getting close to Christmas? Or is it the number 11? Today Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts about gratitude.

Thank you
releases air,
a breath.
In American sign language,
a hand to mouth and out again.
From inside of me
to the spirit of you,
I thank you.

TeachWrite is encouraging #gratiku poetry on social media. Read more about it at Leigh Anne’s blog.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

My One Little Word for 2020 is Embrace. Little did I know in January how much I would need this word, especially when one of the no-nos in this Covid world is hugging. One thing I did know at the beginning of the year was that we would be having a wedding in our backyard in October.

Nephews enjoying bubbles! Photo by LeeAnn B Stephan

That wedding plan went on a roller-coaster ride and landed with 14 seats at the table (+3 toddler nephews). My wise daughter decided in July, when cases spiked again in our state, to cut her guest list to only immediate family. That included her parents, his parents, her sisters and their husbands, and his brother and wife. The officiant was her grandmother, a retired district court judge.

There is still a great deal of planning and stress that come along with a small wedding. There was food to be ordered, rentals to be delivered, a bar to stock, etc. Not to mention we invested in rebuilding the deck. The good news is we get to keep the deck.

Martha and Paul with three nephews
Leo, 22 months, Thomas, 13 months, and Charlie, 2 years 4 months.

The weather could not have been more perfect. After enduring a hurricane the weekend before, the sky was blue and clear. The temperature was in the 70’s. The bayou glistened with fall colors.

As perfect as the weather was, so were the bride and groom, holding hands, exchanging heartfelt original vows, and creating a new family.

They asked me to read an original poem. It appeared here on my blog. I choked my way through it. We all cried, laughed, danced, and sang the night away…into the wee hours…because we didn’t want it to end.

Year 2020 has taught me to embrace my family. This weekend extended my family to a wider embrace. I am filled with gratitude and grace.

Dancing on the new deck. Photograph by LeeAnn Stephan

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I am hosting the link up of Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Link up with Inlinkz.

In Holy Love, our sense of separateness dissolves, and we know ourselves as arising from the brilliant light of Divine Love that creates and sustains the universe.

Understanding the Enneagram, 62

I carry around bits and pieces of poems in my head. Today I was working with a student on the vocabulary word tempest. I said to her, “It’s in a poem or song or something. Tempest-tossed.” Right then and there I had to Google it. Ah, yes, The New Colossus:

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Emma Lazarus

And when I read the opening quote about Divine Love, I thought:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

I want to keep these thoughts of peace, of belonging, of being a part of the whole. I feel it most when I am in nature, but lately, I feel it when I am teaching. I was away from teaching for a long time. I thought I was doing fine without it. I was, but sometimes, a calling is unexplainable. Sometimes I feel myself unworthy of the calling. Sometimes a calling is holy.

The wild geese are my students, on screen and off. They call to me every day and announce my place in this crazy world.

Rylee painting a Dot Day mask.

If you wrote a Spiritual Thursday post, link below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

My feelings are all over the place. Starting the day later because I can sleep longer wakes me rested, ready. A walk outside on a perfect spring morning energizes. But then the weight of all that is different, all that is not happening, not normal comes with cleaning out a classroom or picking up items at the store or watching the news.

Poetry helps me cope. In my email inbox, on my Instagram feed, or on the bedside table, I can find a poem that soothes, comforts, or inspires me.

On Twitter this month, a group of us teacher-poets are writing #Poemsof Presence. These poems capture a single moment in time. They honor the present without regard or worry over the future or past. I can find connection and hope in this task. If you are a poem dabbler, join us.

This poem by ADA LIMÓN has come across my path a few times. Today from Gratefulness.org. I love how the title Instructions on Not Giving Up tells me what she wants me to learn from nature. And the poem fills me with a beautiful image.

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. 

Ada Limon, read the rest of the poem here.

Milkweed seeds
Release on silken wings
Like the butterflies they nourish.

Margaret Simon, #poemsofpresence

A little lagniappe of beauty in this video of a monarch butterfly swarm.

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