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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Poetry Friday is with Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

This month’s Inkling challenge comes from Heidi. She invited us to “use the form” of the poem, The Lost Lagoon, by Emily Pauline Johnson (d. 1913) to build a “poem for children about a treasured place that you return to again and again.”

Most of our group had tackled this challenge early on. I thought I might not make it. After Christmas and a family trip, I had been away from writing for a few weeks. Often when I take a break like this, I feel I’ll never write another poem. I decided to take my head out of the sand and face it. On Sunday I opened The Lost Lagoon. I copied it into a document and went to work writing beside it. I didn’t follow the form exactly, but in many ways the exercise led me to say what I wanted to say.

One of my favorite photos from our family trip to North Carolina became my muse. The guys enjoyed making nightly fires in the fire pit outside our mountain house. The toddler boys enjoyed participating (at a safe distance) in blowing on the fire. My daughters captured the scene in two photographs.

Over Blue Mountain

See Sun set over blue mountain;
Dada builds fire to light the way
beneath a cloud-shining golden ray.
I twirl in steam of an ending day
and blow flames for a sparkling fountain.

In the dark, a song begins to bloom
and follows a cow’s mooing tune,
a howl of dogs under rising moon,
the logs of the fire crackle and croon
and gone is the nighttime gloom.

Oh, why can’t I stay out all night 
to watch Cow jump over the moon
and feel the dawning sky too soon?
I dream I’m lifted like a balloon–
in Dada’s arms I’m safe and right. 

Margaret Simon, 2022
Papère, Leo, and Dada

Other Inkling poems:

Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
Heidi Mordhorst at My Juicy Little Universe
Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

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Dear Spiritual Thursday Friends,

We are gathering again for the first Thursday of each month. This is an open invitation to any blogger who would like to join us. We post on the first Thursday of the month. Each month is hosted by a different blogger. We do not adhere to any specific religious affiliation. We are here to express our thoughts about how our spiritual lives are going. Let me know in the comments or by email if you’d like to be on the list of participants.

Blessings,
Margaret

I’ve been choosing a One Little Word to guide my year for many years now. I have a collection of MudLove bracelets that express my different words. I’ve even begun a practice of gifting little words to some of my friends. It’s probably against the OLW policy to assign someone a word, but the friends who receive one seem to like the idea. At an NCTE conference sometime around 2014, I was given a MudLove bracelet. I love wearing my word.

Enough, 2022

My word came to me while I was reading Jess Keating’s Epic Email.

Everything you need is inside you. The tough stuff alchemizes to create the good stuff. Your story is enough. What you value is enough. Your desire is enough.

Jess Keating, Epic Email
I am Enough!

Today I listened to Glennon Doyle’s podcast We Can Do Hard Things. She said that January branding has got it all wrong with New year, New you. “It suggests we hate ourselves. It’s insulting.”

At our core, in our soul, we are who we are. And to quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” Who I am is enough. I do not need to change myself. Of course, I could exercise more or cook more often or get more involved in social activism. But who I am at 60 is the same me as I was at 50, 40, 30, 20, 10… Embracing my inner self gives me safety to open up for new experiences that enrich me. And if a challenge comes along, I am ready. I am enough.

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

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Poetry Friday is with Jone Macculloch.
Gingerbread House by Avalyn, 2nd grade

Little Gingerbread House

The whole room smells
of graham crackers and icing,
sweet-scented as Christmas should be,
marked by twinkle lights and fingers
dipped in icing or glitter glue.

Santa’s in the hallway
listening to every child’s wish.
Teachers are tired, overwhelmed
by lists and sugary treats. Too much
time spent on planning, cooking, decorating.

But there’s the child with bright eyes
who opens her arms and says “I love you”.

You must open 
your little gingerbread house
to all of it. 

Margaret Simon, draft

I started my day listening to Ada Limón and The Slowdown. She talked about her grandmother’s kitchen and read the poem little tree by ee cummings. I played this episode for my students, and we wrote together. My poem above is true. I took the plunge and did gingerbread houses made out of graham crackers for the first (and most likely last) time. The success on Avalyn’s face and her insistence on telling me she loved me comforted my weary soul. She wrote a sweet story about her little gingerbread house on Fanschool here. (Spoiler alert: it includes a true story about a lizard rescue.)

Chloe wrote a poem side-by-side to ee cummings.

(after ee cummings little tree)

bright star
bright little North Star
you are so bright
you are more like a light

who found you behind Mars
and were you sad to lose hide and seek?
see         I will comfort you
because you light up my Christmas tree.

i will hug your prickly sides
and swing you gently
as your mother would
so don’t run away

and my father and i will lift you up
and look at your shining stem
we’ll skip and sing
“Behold that Star”

Chloe Willis, 6th grade

This is the time of year for the Winter Poetry Swap. I exchanged with Karen Eastlund. She sent me the following poem (how cool that it’s in the shape of a Christmas tree) along with some delicious goodies and a hand sewn mini bin. Thanks, Karen.

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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.

He sat on the bench near the door eyeing the white hard hats on the other side of the bench. The next thing I knew, he announced, proudly wearing the hat with the strap over his forehead that he was a “fighter fighter”.

“Who are you?”

“A fighter fighter!”

“A firefighter?”

“I a fighter, fighter.”

“I a fighter fighter” Leo (3)

This weekend I accompanied my daughter and her husband as we drove with Leo (3) to the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans for his special birthday weekend. We met up with my younger two daughters, son-in-law, and cousin Thomas (2). The Children’s Museum is full of pretend play areas, water, music, grocery shopping, etc. I climbed into a huge bubble-making contraption with both boys. Leo was interested in the pulleys that hoist the bubble up while Thomas whispered, “Bubble.” Then we all squealed when it popped.

“Cold” Thomas (2)

Pretend play with toddler boys is fun. I could watch and listen all day. As they bounce from one thing to another, a cup becomes a gas can, a handle becomes a sword, and a puzzle becomes building blocks. At the end of the day, Mamère becomes a storyteller and lullaby singer, and that’s the best job in the whole world.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Cathy at Merely Day by Day

Today is another gratitude post. I am so grateful to be a part of a wider world of poetry for children. Pomelo Books with NCTE Excellence in Poetry Winner Janet Wong along with her always enthusiastic poetry partner Sylvia Vardell were awarded Every Child a Reader Children’s Book Award for Hop to It. My poem Zen Tree is one of the 100 poems in this book. The award was for the best book of facts. For every poem, there is a side bar with factual information. I love that the facts next to Zen Tree include how trees communicate with each other through their root system. Congratulations to Janet and Sylvia and all of us jumping for Joy!

We are continuing daily gratitude poems in my classrooms. This week at both schools, there is a “Santa Store” set up in the library. Students can buy gifts for their families. There is such joy around buying gifts for others. My students and I expressed that joy in our poems this week.

As we quickly approach Christmas, I hope you are finding much to be grateful for. I am also grateful for you, my underground root system. Your support helps me to keep standing (and writing).

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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 shopping season is here, and to be honest, shopping’s not my favorite thing to do. Or at least that’s what I usually say, but Sunday was different. I started out by picking up our Christmas cards at Walgreens. They were so easy to do. I used my phone and the Walgreens app; there was a 60% off sale, so they were also not that expensive. I left Walgreens with a spring in my step that helped motivate me for the next stop.

After buying a gift card for the name I chose on the angel tree, I found a new-to-me-boutique, right in my home town. All about You. I hit the jackpot on gifts for my Secret Santa gift exchange at school as well as a Christmas t-shirt for me and do-dads for the grands. Having saved some money at Walgreens, I splurged at this shop.

With all this shopping success (not to mention a good phone chat with my sister in the parking lot), I decided to treat myself to a pumpkin cream cold brew at Starbucks. New Iberia is barely large enough to sustain a Starbucks, but this day there was a long drive-through line. No matter. I took the time to check email and Instagram and such. When I got to the overly cheerful man at the window, he announced, “The car ahead of you paid for your drink!”

“Oh no!” I exclaimed. “Pay it forward. Now I have to do it for someone else.”

“The order for the car behind you is only $…”

I flashed my phone and in the blink of an eye, I had passed on the holiday giving cheer.

Sometimes shopping is a burden, but this day turned a chore into a gift.

Pay it Forward

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Michelle Kogan.

This month’s Inkling challenge is from Molly Hogan. She asked us to try a form we’ve been wanting to try. One of her form suggestions was a tricube. Matt Forrest Esenwine wrote about the form here. Matt said the form seems simple, yet it is challenging to say what you want to say in so few syllables. The form uses a mathematical sequence of three, cubed. 3 syllables, 3 lines, 3 stanzas. I wrote one here for my daughters after they treated me to a wonderful birthday weekend.

In my classroom, the gratitude poet-tree has been such a success that we decided to keep it going in December with a Christmas poet-tree. One of my students lost her beloved dog over the break, so I was thinking about how grateful I am for my walking companion Charlie. Charlie is 14 and has a heart murmur, but he still loves to go out for walks with me in the morning.

Charlie+Me=Perfect Cadence

On Monday, my two students came in chatting about their break. They were talking about how their friend had left the school. Katie said she cried, but she would not admit that to anyone but me. She said, “You’re my closest teacher.” This made my heart swell. Trying to capture this emotion in a tricube.

You’re my Closest Teacher

Open door
to comfort,
welcoming.

Freely said,
“I’ll tell you”
words of truth.

Close teacher
listens well.
You matter.

Margaret Simon, draft for Katie

Linda: A Word Edgewise
Heidi: my juicy little universe
Catherine: Reading to the Core
Mary Lee: A(nother) Year of Reading

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Round up of Spiritual Journey posts
can be found at Christine Margocs’ site,
Horizon 51

For our Advent time-of-waiting spiritual journey posts this month, Chris chose the topic of “waiting…with a side of hope.”

Waiting is not easy. It means patience, looking inward… finding peace.

My calendar suggests quite the opposite.

It says go here, do this, buy that.

Hurry up!

So I look to the stars and wonder

What are they waiting for?

The light we see is how old? days? months? years?

Yet it comes anyway.

Christmas will come anyway.

Why worry?

When his mother asked what he wanted Santa to bring him,

he pointed to the Christmas tree

and said, “That funny clown up there!”

Ah, to see waiting through the eyes of a toddler

dancing through each day in wonder.

Let’s change our mantra from “I can’t wait”

to “I Can Wait!”

Waiting brings light and hope and love

wrapped in a timeless gift.

Christmas present by Leo, age 2 yrs 11 months

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I volunteered to host a holiday party way back in the summer when the living was easy. My Thanksgiving week was busy with family events, but we managed to squeeze in Christmas decorating as well. My youngest daughter Martha was visiting, and she has a good eye for design. She created a piece with candles and cedar branches and berries. When I lit the candles, I was surprised at the atmosphere of warmth and welcome they created. On a tricube roll, I wrote a gratitude poem for these candles.

Christmas candles by Margaret Simon

Holiday
open doors
candles lit

flickering
welcoming
visitors

fireplace glows
everyone
knows we’re home

Margaret Simon, draft

Welcome to this photo. Write a small poem, any form, in the comments and encourage other writers with your words. Happy Holidays!

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Matt at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme

Three months ago I said, “Sure!” when my friend Stephanie asked me to participate in a poetry reading. I figured I had plenty of time. And here we are less than a week away. The poetry night is in conjunction with a Water/ Ways traveling Smithsonian exhibit. Stephanie, the assistant at the Bayou Teche Museum, wrote the grant and wanted to add arts into the presentations. I asked her, “Do you realize I write for children?”

The topic is water, so I plan to read from Bayou Song, a swimming poem from Rhymes and Rhythm, and two yet-to-be published poems from Swamp Song. There will be three poets laureate reading alongside me. I’m excited to meet the newest state poet laureate Mona Lisa Saloy. I’ve seen her present on Zoom, but this reading together will be in person.

Darrell Bourque is a mentor of mine. He was poet laureate in Louisiana from 2007-2011. And Jonathan Mayers is coming from Baton Rouge. He is the city’s poet laureate. Melissa and I have been friends since our writing group days in the 90’s. We will support each other as the two non-poets laureate.

In my classroom, the gratitude “Poet-Tree” is filling up with leaves of grateful poems. Yesterday a few teachers stopped by to tell me they were reading the poems and one even said she wanted to write her own and put it on our tree. Spreading poetry love!

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