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Archive for the ‘Gratitude’ Category

Ramona is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at Pleasures from the Page

For today’s Spiritual Thursday post, Ramona suggested we listen to a podcast by Emily Freeman entitled The Next Right Thing. It’s a new-to-me podcast that I am now following. I listened this morning while walking and wrote my response by speaking into the Notes app on my phone.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book Here and Now, “We are inclined to think that when we are sad, we
cannot be glad. But in the life of a God-centered person, sorrow and joy can exist together. That isn’t easy to understand. But when we think about some of our deepest life experiences, such as being present at the birth of a child or the death of a friend, great sorrow and great joy are often seen to be parts of the same experience.”

Emily Freeman, The Next Right Thing Podcast

I am Here

My daughter gave me an Apple Watch.

It watches my every move and occasionally will vibrate my arm

and tell me something like you need to be moving

or you’ve reached your movement goal

or stand up now.

We have found devices in this modern world that help us to be present.

Present with our steps, each one counted and charted on an app on our phones

which we carry with us everywhere,

everywhere to be present with a friend on Instagram or Facebook.

Daily when I walk, I use an app called Voxer to chat with a friend across the globe in another place.

She calls this her daily podcast with me. Funny and true.

And I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to be present with a friend far away.

But sometimes all I need is to just be here–

Here stepping on fall leaves, listening to them crinkling,

listening to the sounds of birds

in the trees losing the leaves.

I’m just here with myself

And God.

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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.
Wildflowers in a jar, Margaret Simon

If you read my post last week, you know I have a thing for flowers. After visiting Petite Anse Farms and cutting my own flowers, the wildflowers that line the Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans drew me in and begged to be clipped, collected, and given away.

This week is the Ehtical ELA Open Write and Monday’s prompt from Sarah Donovan encouraged us to write about “a shimmer of being alive.” My mind went back to the wildflowers I had cut on a walk with my daughter this weekend.

And So I Cut Wildflowers

I am taken by the little blooms
that peek from weeds
the ones on the side of the road

and want to carry them home
though I have nothing to cut them with
and frankly worry I will look like
a thief, a landscape destroyer, hoarder. 

The store is open, so I rush in,
buy kitchen shears, the kind for deboning
a chicken–I debone flowers

touch them with my soft hands
hold them in a nest
where scent to scent
pollen on pollen
the warmth of sunlight
still in their faces…

I cut wildflowers
place them in the Mason jar with residue
of coffee grounds, leave them
on your kitchen counter
without a note that says

I love you
You will know

Margaret Simon, draft
And So I Cut Wildflowers, Margaret Simon

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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.

I want to thank all of my readers who were praying for me and all of South Louisiana this weekend as Hurricane Ida invaded our state. We are fine.

A hurricane is an unusual beast of a storm. While it gained strength out in the Gulf, it swirled into a tighter circular cloud with a well-defined eye. That swirl gathered everything into it. As the hurricane entered the state at the tip of the boot (Grand Isle), here in New Iberia (in the arch of the boot) we felt eerily calm weather, light rain and periodic gusts of wind, but not enough to even knock out power. In fact, the weather was really pleasant.

All day on Sunday, we watched and waited. My oldest daughter and her family stayed at our house because we have a good generator. I have to admit, this mamére had a wonderful time with the grandchildren.

My two younger daughters live in New Orleans, and they have evacuated to Florida. Now that Ida has knocked down a major power transmitter, they will be driving to us and staying here for weeks. When I talked to my husband about this, he said, “This is why we’re here.”

We are here to be a safe haven for our children, a calm in the storm. Please continue your prayers for our state. In our gratitude, we can open the doors and welcome whatever comes next.

Grandmother oak watches over us.

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Linda Mitchell.

Linda Mitchell is gathering Spiritual Journey First Thursday posts. Her topic suggestion is Respect. I wasn’t going to write. In fact, I emailed Linda and apologized, “I’ve got nothing.” However, in the spirit of respect for this community of writers and because I’m awake on the last day of my summer break, I am writing.

Respect is born out of Love. The two are intertwined like the threads on the knitting needles. God calls us to Love.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16

This morning I read a beautiful poem by David Whyte, The True Love.

so that when

we finally step out of the boat

toward them, we find

everything holds

us, and everything confirms

our courage, and if you wanted

to drown you could,

but you don’t

because finally

after all this struggle

and all these years

you simply don’t want to

any more

you’ve simply had enough

of drowning

and you want to live and you

want to love and you will

walk across any territory

and any darkness

however fluid and however

dangerous to take the

one hand you know

belongs in yours.

David Whyte, Brain Pickings

Step out of the boat and give your hand to God. Find true love with God. Trust the safety you feel. Hold your hand out to others in respectful response.

Miramar Beach, Florida (photo by Margaret Simon)

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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.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This is not where I usually write, but I’m trying it out–the coffee shop where jazz is playing and the hum of the refrigerators sound like the cicadas in my yard. A young couple chat quietly. She’s wearing athletic shorts and a “Friends” long sleeved t-shirt. He’s got on jeans and a ball cap. She’s talking and playing with the straw in her cup. He leans in, nods and laughs. She is a natural beauty, long black hair, tanned skin, perfect teeth. Someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister.

While I watch this couple, I am trying not to look by the window where two women sit in the comfy chairs talking with their hands. Literally. There are no sounds, only signs. I once knew some sign language, but as with any language you do not practice, the ability fades with time. No matter. What they are talking about is none of my business. I can sit and listen with my eyes. Notice the beauty of expression without words.

I recently read Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book Whereabouts. Lahiri’s writing fascinated me because there was no defined setting even though you always had a sense for where she was. The narrator does not identify herself or anyone else by name. Lahiri breaks the rules about novels without blinking an eye. She takes us to wherever she is and we go willingly. Like sitting here in this coffee shop observing and being present to the moment when nothing much happened.

The writer’s greatest chance may be devotion to the passing fragment.

It is small, but it is pure, and it may hold compact infinity.

Kim Stafford, The Muses Among Us

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Joining a community of writers responding to
open invitation no. 59 at
Sharing Our Stories Magic.

You know how sometimes without any prompting from you a “memory” pops up on your phone, a photo that you’d totally forgotten about and most often, enjoy seeing again. Jogging a memory of another time and place. But I’ve noticed when it comes to flowers, the memories are a repeated vision of the flower I took a picture of yesterday. That happened to me twice this week. Blooming seems so miraculous and random and something we have little control over. It just happens. There is consistency in the blooming of a flower. They come back around again.

This week I took a picture of this amazing gladiola. I shared a small poem in response on my Instagram.

This May morning
shows its gladiola heart
sipping summer sun.
Margaret Simon, #haiku #poemsofpresence

I found a similar photo in my phone album from a year ago. Last year during lock down when I was walking every day.

On Monday, I heard a call for poems from Kwame Alexander on NPR. He creates crowdsourced poems based on small poems people send in. This week’s prompt was from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” I wrote and sent in this small poem.

Still, I rise
with the sun
following a path
through watermint
where the scent 
fills me.

Still, I rise
to feel her gentle kicks
inside a waterwomb
knowing love grows
from my seed.

Still, I rise
to watch ducklings
drop to waterglory
following Mama hen
through fervent streams.  

Margaret Simon, all rights reserved

So I rise each day for a walk. I take photographs of flowers again and again. I will keep taking photos of flowers. Why not? They make me happy!

This Canna Lily came back after the big freeze. I take a picture of it every year.
Gardenia is my favorite scent. I’ve been unsuccessful at the growing of a gardenia bush.
For now, I enjoy cut ones in a vase in the church hall.

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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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