Posts Tagged ‘OLW’

Every first Thursday I join a group of bloggers writing around a spiritual topic. Today, Ruth is the host, and she chose ashes as the topic. Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I am Episcopalian and attend an old historical church that was built by slaves in the mid 1800’s. I’ve attended this church for close to 40 years. In the last year, my friend Annie has taken the position of priest in charge. She is the first female priest in the history of our parish. Annie’s compassion and her ability to be present in the moment comforts me, even when she was marking my forehead with a smudge of ash and saying, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Impermanence. We are not here forever. It’s not the most joyful thing to embrace. But in understanding and accepting my impermanence, I can be present in the moment. I can feel the soot on my forehead and touch the bread of life and know that I am loved.

The sign of the cross in ashes is the same gesture the priest makes with oil at baptism, saying “You are marked as Christ’s own forever.” No one can take away my belonging to God. Some days, especially during Lent, I need to sit with this belonging and be okay with who I am. I am enough.

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Poetry Friday is with Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

If you need a boost of confidence for your writing life, tune in to Irene Latham. She has started a Tuesday series on YouTube called “2-Minute Writing Tip Tuesday”. On her website, she has a quiz “What Kind of Writer Are You?” Take a minute to take the test for yourself. I did it twice and both times…

You’re the leader of a wolf pack! You’ve got lots of great ideas and love sharing them with others. You’re a great starter AND a great teacher. It’s your readers who motivate you—and they love you for it!

If you’re a Wolf, then you can stop trying to write highly personal essays that don’t feel natural to you. That’s not your strong suit. Write the fun thing, the thing you know your audience will love!
You can stretch yourself by taking time away from your community for rest and reflection. Give yourself an opportunity to develop new ideas before jumping into the next new, exciting thing.
Go ahead, give the world something to howl about!

Who doesn’t love a wolf writer! My favorite part of this is “You’re a great starter AND a great teacher!” I know it’s silly to be so excited to find out I am who I want to be. In fact, my One Little Word this year is Enough. I somehow knew it was time to stop questioning myself, my authenticity, my ability to connect people through writing. But it’s kinda fun to take these silly quizzes and find affirmation.

What kind of writer are you? What kind of writer do you want to be?

I participated in a few of the prompts in Ethical ELA Open Write this week. I wrote this poem using paint chip colors. (guacamole, candlelit beige, vining ivy, ancient copper)

Some Days it’s Enough to Wake Up

Finding my fingers
green like guacamole–
in the soil of my life.

You place a candle on the table,
a small flicker of light
blessing the moment,
like vining ivy on a brick wall
tangles in on itself but never falls.

We are becoming
ancient copper,
stained hands
that have worked too long
in this soil.

We woke up alive today.
That’s enough
for now.

Margaret Simon, draft

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .


My One Little Word for 2018 is Explore! I’ve decided to thoroughly embrace this word this summer.  I am currently on an exploratory adventure at the beach.  My daughter is an account executive for an advertising agency, so she had some meetings here and invited me to tag along.  What a treat!  Our first day we ventured out to an inlet lake that is surrounded by sand dunes.  We did stand up paddleboarding.  The day was hot and sunny, but we did it.  I felt a sense of pride that I was actually able to make the paddleboard move in a somewhat straight line.  On Wednesday, I’m going to try paddleboard yoga.

This morning while she was in meetings, I ventured out to Grayton Beach State Park. Even in the rain, this was a beautiful area.  I was alone on the trail of crystal sand dunes, of bending sand live oaks, and of tall pines that look like tall umbrellas. The dunes set off a lake (Western Lake where we went paddleboarding.) that is a unique salt water/ fresh water ecosystem.  The dunes themselves are preserved. Here are a few of my pictures.

Grayton Beach sand dunes


Sand live oaks grow in sculpted shapes.

The sky itself looks like an ocean.


Hanging out with women in the advertising business has taught me some new terms to add to my lexicon:

  1. cranking: This is another word for getting on the computer and getting work done.  Best done when it’s raining and you can’t go “content gathering.”
  2. content gathering: This is a term for going out and taking pictures so that you can post them on social media to show others how fun it is to be here.
  3. content: a picture that could be used to promote a place.  One of my pictures was used on Instagram as “content.” Follow @Southwalton

And the best way to have a team meeting is when everyone is in PJs and passing around a bottle of wine.  (I think I may have gotten into the wrong profession.)  In addition to being a relaxing trip to the beach, I have enjoyed time alone with daughter number 2 and learning about the work she does everyday.  It’s not always at the beach, though.


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Find the round up of Spiritual Journey posts at Donna’s site, Mainly Write

Today our spiritual Thursday bloggers are writing about Donna’s one little word, Reach.  This was my word in 2015.  I chose it that year as I was finishing a manuscript that I wanted to publish.  That book is still not a book, but I don’t think it has anything to do with the word Reach.

When I searched my blog for Reach, I found this quote above.  Sometimes wisdom comes to me.  Today I needed to see this again.  I needed to remember that all we can do at any one time is to be present to it.

I switched my classroom Wonder calendar to May and found this quote waiting for me.

Personal Courage Month

Many of us have big things we’d like to do, but we’re too nervous or shy to try them. Try doing one thing this month that will get you closer to the big thing you’d like to do–tell someone about it, ask for help, read a book about it.

I have an idea that I will be sharing with an upper administrator today.  Fingers crossed he gets it, understands my goals, and pushes me forward to meet them.

I have an idea for a poetry book.  I’m reading, researching, experiencing, and playing with words.  It’s about process, practice, practice, and process.

I will revise my works in progress again and again until they are ready for the wider world.  Confidence, patience, persistence.

Reaching is hard work.

Reaching is stretching till it hurts.  Hold.  Then stretch more.

Reaching is shooting for the moon and landing among the stars.  I’m OK with the stars.  I have friends there.


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Finding spiritual journey fellows on the internet is such a wonderful gift. We are gathering each month on the first Thursday to blog together. Today, you may link up and read more posts at Leigh Anne Eck’s site Turn.

The theme of our posts today is Leigh Anne’s One Little Word, Rise. I love this word. Simple, one syllable, and yet full of hope and love and light. I immediately think of a spiritual I would sing with kids “Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory.”

This week I presented my students with the Maya Angelou poem, “Still I Rise.” What did they think of this old African American woman laughing out loud on the video and saying she dances like she has diamonds on her thighs? When you place her words in the context of her life and the Civil RIghts Movement, they resonate.
“You may trod me in the very dirt.
But still, like dust, I rise.”

Maya Angelou speaks of the human spirit, the spirit that is guided by and held in the hands of God. I wonder if I have that kind of spirit. Preparing to teach about another Civil Rights hero, Fannie Lou Hammer, I read poem after poem about her being trod in the dirt, over and over, and still she rose. She didn’t give up. I am humbled by her resilience.


Looking to these heroes who turned against adversity and prejudice and pain, and led their friends to Rise, I feel an obligation, a resolve to be strong and resilient. I cannot do that without being willing to be humble and kind and to turn my heart to the love of God.


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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I wasn’t going to write today.  I woke up to freezing temperatures and a yard of wilting plants.   But then I checked my phone and found love in the Twitter feed.

I melted into tears.  I’ve know Leigh Anne virtually for years.  We’ve visited each other’s blogs.  We’ve exchanged teaching ideas.  One summer I did a Google Hang-out with a summer writing class she was teaching.  But we’ve never met in person.  To think that my words could be so inspiring to someone I’ve never met face to face just boggles my mind.

My friend, Julieanne, wrote today about her cyber-bubble, those people we hang out with virtually through Twitter and Facebook, Voxer and Blogger.  In this world, I’ve met some of the most precious people on earth.  I have come to call them friends.

In this daily struggle to understand what the hell we are doing here, my online community holds me together, grounds me, helps me to see what is truly important.

My OLW this year is Cherish.  Leigh Anne coined the term Cherishment.  I cherish all of you who click over to this space and read and comment and otherwise spread the love.  Please take a minute to go to Leigh Anne’s blog today.  She made a poem from comments on my blog.  I plan to print the poem and keep it close.

On Wednesday this week, my body revolted.  I had a violent and mean stomach virus.  Along with cherishing others this year, I want to cherish my own body.  I hated it with a passion on Wednesday, but a miracle shot from my trusted physician made it all better.

Today, I was encouraged by a friend to attend a yoga class.  I haven’t done yoga in a while and was worried about how my body would work.  The instructor calmed me throughout and by the end of the session, I was weeping.  Cherish seems to lead me to tears.  I was overwhelmed by the feeling of peace and the comfort.  This feeling calls for a  healing haiku.


#haikuforhealing #haikuforhope #commonplacemarvels #cherishment


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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.


I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus Christ lately.   In the past two weeks, I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar” at a local performance theater twice.  Even though I continually had to tell myself that the man on stage was really Billy (I’ve known him since he was in elementary school), I couldn’t help but feel the presence of Jesus.  Not Jesus a savior, but Jesus as a man.  A person who had very complicated feelings.  A person who had a calling to do something that was out of the ordinary.

Today, for Spiritual Thursday, we are writing about Linda Kulp’s OLW, Simplify.  I look to this image of Jesus as a man.  I look at the flowers blooming in my yard.  Nothing is simple.  God’s call is simply “Love.”  Yet there is nothing simple about it.

The bridal wreath is so beautiful, white and simple, yet close-up you can see the complicated pattern of tiny blossoms in a cluster.  Even nature isn’t simple.


Bridal wreath flowers

Bridal wreath flowers

What can I do to Simplify?

I can let go of senseless worry.  I can look for ways to show love every day.  I can pray “Abba” with my breath.

I can also realize that beauty and love are not always simple.  I can accept that answering God’s call isn’t an easy task, and I can look to Jesus to show me how.


Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Sun beams through clouds

I try to take a photo of the sun coming through the clouds. My photo can’t capture the beauty. It can’t capture the moment. So I will try these words. Maybe they can tell you what I see and why it is magnificent.

The sun is a bright yellow-white light shining through a bluish-grey sea of clouds. Beams of light reach from the sun to the ground below, spotlighting the golden fields fallow now in winter. The clouds are white-capped waves dancing on the surface of the sea.

When the sun does this, no matter my mood or what I am worried about, my breath calms and sighs. Because of the magnanimity of it. How can I stay moody, anxious, or worried? Like when the geese fly with Mary Oliver and “announce my place in the family of things.”

I am driving to school. My car slows. Another driver passes me, honks the horn, zooms the engine, but still I slow down. I should slow down, enter my day like this sun plays on the sky’s monkey bars.

A dedicated science teacher I knew had a bumper sticker that read, “I stop for road kill.” My bumper sticker should be “I slow down for sun beams.” How else are we to be present in this world? How else can we say “thank you” to our creator? Recalls to mind a church camp song, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Glad! That’s it. Be glad.

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Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.


For Spiritual Thursday, we are writing about our little words.  Today is dedicated to Justin’s word for 2016, Faith. This winter I’ve had a few physical trials that have been frustrating to say the least, but not life threatening. I know I will heal. Sometimes faith is hard. Sometimes faith forsakes. Faith challenges.

Bayou reflection, January.  by Margaret Simon

Bayou reflection, January.
by Margaret Simon

Only in winter
with a certain slant of light
a forest reflection
mirrors a standing of trees.

My eye draws a straight line
up from earth
down to water, this perfect line
dissolves as the sun rises higher.

Yet, I am still standing.
I plant my feet into the earth,
walk a muddy path
holding bare arms out
to catch the wind.

I want to feel your breath
on my skin, Lord. Know you are
with me in all things.
Take hold of my hand.
Whisper all will be well.
All will be well.

–Margaret Simon

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Spirit Tree

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Holly invites us to write about each other’s one little word. This week we are writing about my word, Present. Click on the icon above to go to other blogs to see what they are saying about Presence.

On Sunday, one of the readings was from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. He writes about spiritual gifts. Thinking of the word presents as a synonym for gifts, I decided to re-write the verse into a more modern version.

A rewriting of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 12:1-11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, there are many.
The Spirit is generous when you agree to it.
Manifested for peace and goodness,
our hearts must play along.

You may have the gift of speaking
with confidence and knowledge.
Like our friend, Martin, with his dream,
you should speak up.

You may be the one we can all count on,
you show up and bring food. You give us hugs
and tell us how pretty we look today.

You may be the one who comforts, you know
about essential oils and whole foods. Your touch
on our chakras can produce heat and healing.

You may understand fully the phases of the moon.
You know the best time to plant trees. You feed the birds.
You have an herb garden.
And free range chickens. One is named Harvey.

You may be a collector of words,
Uplifting our days on Facebook
with a quote of the day.
Always clever, ever kind.

Whatever your gift of the Spirit is,
use it. Flaunt it. Show it off.
You never know who’s watching,
learning, growing, needing
the very thing you have to give.

Don’t question the Spirit. It knows
what it knows and chooses whom it chooses.
Embrace His Presence. Let it shine.
Let it shine.
Let it shine!

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