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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

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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Poetry Friday round-up is with Karen Edmisten.

Linda Baie shared a video on Facebook that I immediately took up as a writing prompt. It’s a beautiful short film by Louie Schwartzberg. (See link below to watch the video)

I took a quote from the young girl at the beginning and made a golden shovel. “The path could lead to a beach or something.”

Cultivate a response to the
day; open your eyes and a path
could be there, weather could
change, and lead
to water, to
a new way to see, a
gift as joyful as a beach,
waves blessing you or
moving you to touch something.

Margaret Simon, draft response
Photo by Margaret Simon, Santa Rosa Beach Florida

Kathy Mazurowski is the winner of the book giveaway for After Dark: Poems About Nocturnal Animals by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. Click the link to read how I used the book with my students and wrote nonfiction poems.

Take a minute to write a quick 15 word poem to this week’s This Photo Wants to be a Poem. This week is a beautiful photo by Molly Hogan.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

Warning: This is another shameless Grandmother post. I received a wonderful gift from a friend, “Letters to My Grandchild”. It’s a little book with envelopes to tuck letters into. I love this idea because those books that you write in intimidate me. What if I mess up? This little book is just envelopes, so I can do multiple drafts before I place them into the book. Thanks, Dani!

I’ve been reading Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. This book will tug at your heartstrings as Nikki overcame a terrible childhood bouncing around in foster homes and facing her mother’s alcoholism and schizophrenia. The memoir is constructed with poems and notebook entries. Each poem is a poem in and of itself. Because of this, I can share poems from the book with my students without having to read the whole book to them. The content can be too tough for my young students.

On Thursday last week, I shared the poem “The Mystery of Memory #3”.

Think food,
and nourishment
comes to mind,
but we all know
it’s so much more.
One bite of pineapple,
and my tongue sticks
to the roof of memory,
gluing me to the last moment
I savored a slice of
pineapple upside-down cake
at my grandmother’s kitchen table.

To read the complete poem, read Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes.

One of my poems came out as another grandmother joy poem.

Think baby,
and crying comes to mind,
that piercing sound
first heard as life.
But we all know
it’s so much more.
So many firsts–
first bath
first smile
first step
first word.

When you send me a picture
or video text, my heart
swells with joy.
Something new,
something yours,
now mine.
A tiny finger
wraps around my finger
tingling with love.

Margaret Simon, after Nikki Grimes
A gummy Thomas smile to warm your heart.

My second grader Rylee is not yet worried about line breaks, but she heard the rhythm and sentiment of Nikki’s poem and wrote this (hands off from me) in her notebook.

by Rylee, 2nd grade

With line breaks by me:

Think
of you
buying a cake saver
for your mom,
and she’s going to open it,
then she knows what it is.
She likes it,
then she is so happy
that she bakes
a cake.

Rylee, 2nd grade

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life

My second grandson was born in September, nine months after my first. The year of 2019 has been a big change for me as I step into this new role. Juggling two daughters requests for babysitting got a bit tricky around the holidays. Luckily it worked out that Maggie wanted New Year’s Eve and Katherine the Saturday after.

On Friday I traveled to New Orleans after an all day rain storm. The drive into the city is beautiful as the highway is bordered by swampland. I can often see herons or egrets soaring above. This time, however, I noticed the multi-color clouds on the horizon. As the sun set, a bright red rainbow appeared. I aimed my phone camera and took this picture.

Red rainbow over Nola

Julieanne Harmatz, fellow blogger from L. A., was vacationing with her husband, so we met up for a lovely dinner. On Saturday, we met at the City Park sculpture garden where there is a new Cafe Du Monde. (Beignets are a must-have on any trip to New Orleans.) By this time, I was in total charge of grandson Thomas. He was the perfect host, smiling and cooing right on cue. Julieanne took this picture of us in the Sculpture Garden.

I’m learning once again (it’s been 29 years since I had a baby) how to juggle a diaper bag, bottles, stroller and carseat, and all that goes along with caring for a baby. Even with the monitor right next to my bed, I wasn’t able to sleep Saturday night. Thomas slept just fine. I wouldn’t exchange that loving smile for anything. Being a grandma is pure joy!

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I’m gathering posts here for January’s Spiritual Journey One Little Word posts. Scroll down to add your link and read other posts.

Choosing a One Little Word for the year has been a practice I adopted years ago. Sometimes I spend a lot of time mulling over what my word should be. Not this year. My son-in-law Grant has tuned in this practice of mine, and I’ve been doing so much holding of new babies in the last year, he told me he thought my word should be “embrace.” I didn’t give it another thought.

This year of 2020, I will embrace my grandbabies even more. My youngest daughter will be getting married in October, so I will embrace another family connected to our family.

Embrace is related to the word Grace I chose last year. My life is full of love, and love comes from grace. Embrace is a way to be humbly grateful for it all.

There is really no way we can predict what a new year will bring. Some years I choose a word that is a goal, something I want to be better at, but a word like Embrace lets you just be present. Here. Now. Holding on to the ones you love. Acceptance and Grace, wrapped up with a bouquet of roses.

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

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See other Spiritual Thursday posts today rounded up by Irene at Live Your Poem.

This is the last Spiritual Thursday post for 2019, so we are reflecting on our One Little Word for the year. This year I selected Grace.

Grace is a simple word
spoken in prayer,
blessing a child,
a gentle hug.

Grace soothes life’s bumps,
nudges our hearts to acceptance,
carries the weight of worry
and places it in Love’s hands.

Grace comes in new life,
a soft white kitten,
the rising sun
of the morning.

Grace endures.

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

When 2019 began, our family had been blessed by the birth of Leo, my first grandson. His first birthday is on Saturday. When I see him now, he knows me; he reaches out to me and leans in for a kiss. There is nothing so full of grace than this.

In September, Thomas was born, my second grandson. And just when you think your heart is full, it opens up for more. His gentle smile and sweet coos bring pure Joy!

This fall I released my second middle grade novel, Sunshine, a sequel to Blessen. Birthing a new book can be scary, but Sunshine is surrounded by love. Her story is no longer mine. Her story, the story of Blessen and Harmony, is full of grace. Blessen and Harmony share their love of animals and adventure. Neither has had the ideal life, but they greet each day with a sense of joy. That is what I hope for myself and all of you.

Begin this day with gratitude in your heart, a smile on your face, and an openness to Grace!

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