Category Archives: Q5 — new creation

(365) Breathe It In

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A year ago I visited the beach after reading Parker Palmer’s Five Questions. I had this idea to write a blog based on the Five Questions, and I went to the beach for discernment. It was there I felt the move to do the blog.

This past week I have been looking forward to getting this done. But then today, coming on to the site, going to click “Add Post,” I was overcome with sadness. It is the end.

There are many things I will miss about writing here every day. It was hard at first to be “out there,” but I have gotten used to it. I have appreciated my followers and the comments I have received. I have loved that this was a place I could struggle with the issues of aliveness-vs-fixed answers; what it means to dare to be human; the moments of human and natural beauty; looking forward to what to love next; and to uncover and discover and explore what creations are waiting to be birthed. The Five Questions will continue to travel with me, as they have become a part of me now.

WordPress sent me a review of my year. Here are some stats from them:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,000 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

There were 625 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 433 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was December 19th with 86 views. The most popular post that day was(353) Best Day Ever.

The stats don’t tell the full story, of course. Besides what I have learned from the Five Questions, I have learned a lot about what it takes to write every single day. For those thinking of starting your own daily blog, here are some insights:

  1. Don’t be afraid to write short.  At first I thought it all had to be long. It is impossible on a daily blog to write long all the time unless it is your only job. Don’t even try.
  2. You will feel like giving up.
  3. When you feel like giving up, keep going.
  4. Create categories to fall back on.  For example, I had my Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, Parallels, Tributes, Lyric Series, and Micro Memoirs. These can help be having a frame to fill when you aren’t feeling particularly inspired.
  5. Know that whatever you decide to do with your daily blog, it is leading you somewhere you weren’t aware you were going. Words are a river that carry us. Your blog will carry you to unseen territory. Relish the journey. Know when to end, and gratefully disembark to a new destination.

This project has been extremely fulfilling to me as a writer, a teacher, a friend, and a human being. I have considered all kinds of directions from here.  I am committing myself to my music on a more structured basis. Just like with my writing, I’ve diddled around a long time not getting serious about music. Now that I have this fine year of blogging behind me, I can move forward on making music. And, as already discussed with my music teacher, I can use blog posts as fodder for songwriting. Win-win!!!

For some reason today, the song “Beautiful Like You” popped into my head.  I feel it is a good send-off for my blog. I will miss coming here and writing for the 2-100 of you who happen upon my blog. At the same time, I am looking forward to putting my time and mental energies into other areas. Meanwhile, remember to breathe and take time to look and listen to the world around you. It will reflect all the beauty you need in the moment.

I know. I’ve learned it through the Five Questions.

If you could only just stop, stop, stop running
If you could only take a second to breathe it in
Everything that you know would be beautiful like you

You know they’re never gonna stop, stop, stop your love
Let’s pretend that the world is waking up
Everything that we see is beautiful like you, like you

 

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(362) Toastmasters

This is the “T” entry for Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.  It is my final entry.

**

What It Is

Toastmasters International is a member-run organization that focuses on self-improvement through public speaking and its related activities. Local groups are formed and run by ordinary, every day people. Leaders are chosen by the clubs and everything related to club matters is done by the members. I belonged to a group called the Nordonia Gaveliers.

I joined Toastmasters because I had enjoyed debate and oratory when I learned it in middle school, and I knew I had an interest in that area. But the big reason I joined was because I was a business owner and felt that if I had to do any presentations, I needed to know what I was doing. In fact, I had given such a presentation to a Women’s Networking group and had an epic fail that really burned. Even after that, it still took me two years to get up the nerve to join. Besides being a big time commitment with weekly meetings, I was really going to take a big risk to get up in front of a group again.

I am forever glad I did.

My Experience.

Nearly every Monday night for ten years, I attended a Toastmasters meeting. These meetings consisted of three “official” parts — Table Topics, Speeches, and Evaluations. Table Topics enables members to practice speaking “off-the-cuff” about a topic they are given. The speeches are scheduled, planned, and practiced before being given. They follow a series of manuals that explain the elements needed in the speech, and a series of questions the evaluator uses to analyze how the speaker did on their speech.

I participated fully in the program. After my first 10 speeches in the “Communication and Leadership” manual, I was off and running into other specialized areas, including Storytelling, Special Occasion speeches, and Humor. It gave me a way to set goals, and continue to grow as a speaker.

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Just some of the manuals that taught me a variety of ways to present.

Toastmasters is highly responsible for my ability to write in a way that is clear and concise. When giving a speech, everything needs to be clear so the audience can easily follow along.  I learned how to write my speeches vocally — rarely writing anything but a few key words down — which served me well for the speeches. However, it didn’t help me with the discipline of actually writing.  When I started college, I knew it was time to start putting things on paper. I guess the one thing I am sorry about is that I didn’t keep any notes.  The dozens and dozens of speeches I gave to Toastmasters are lost in time. There is no record.

Toastmasters taught me the importance of Roberts Rules of Order. It taught me how to deal with people when they are the most vulnerable. It taught me how to listen, as well as the importance of listening, and how nothing happens unless we listen well.

I found the most instructive part of the Toastmasters experience for me was learning how to evaluate others. Add to that, learn how to take evaluation. The idea of “constructive criticism” doesn’t set well with me, as the word criticism indicates negativity. In Toastmasters we learn how to evaluate fairly, always with an eye on those couple of things that could be improved. I also learned how to not be defensive about anything I said or did in a speech. I made my choices, and I took feedback for what it was — feedback. This has served me well in many situations in my life since then.

During my years with the club, I spent nearly five years as Vice President of Education, and a year as President. The club members waxed and waned, and yet a core group of us stood firm and kept things going. I never regretted any of the time I spent at Toastmasters because it gave more energy back than it required. I know that our club had some special elements to it that helped, and I’m grateful for that.

Relationships

Of course that big part about being with a group like this is that we are all in it to win it. We all want to do well, and help each other do well. It isn’t a competition.

I met my friend Iris because of Toastmasters. She was trying to get a club started in her community, so began to come to our club for inspiration. I also become lifelong friend with Stacy, who now lives in Safety Harbor, Florida.

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Stacy and I  Toastmasters Christmas party 1997

Our club had a cool “wings and beer” event after every meeting, which helped us form our bonds much closer. One of the places we frequented for a few years was called Angie’s.  It had a bar with a bowling machine and a jukebox.  I cannot hear “Love Shack” or “Atomic Dog” without thinking of my Toastmasters buddies, as we drank beer, played the bowling machine, and danced around the bar. It was a perfect way to unwind on a Monday night.

My club rallied around me when I had my cancer scare. Many of us liked to golf, so they pulled together a golf outing in my honor a week before I had surgery. There is so much more I can say about the relationships I built through Toastmasters, and how these people influenced me in a million ways. This blog just isn’t big enough for all of it.

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The Helen Sadler Open, July 21, 1997  Twin Eagles Golf Course

Where It Led

Without a doubt, my connections in Toastmasters increased the likelihood that I would find my calling as a teacher. And once I did, it was a Toastmaster that helped open doors for me. Dave was a middle school principal, and he hired me to run a weekly leadership group of 8th graders to teach them public speaking. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, and helped me grow in additional aspects of the program. Working with young people was quite different than adults! The group even came to our club to share the speeches they wrote for their 8th grade graduation. It was a super special night.

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Youth Leadership group from Southeast Middle School comes to Nordonia Gaveliers Meeting, May 1998

In addition, Dave put me in touch with a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, Judy Wilfong.  Judy and I wrote grants so I could bring storytelling units to her classes. We were successful in securing grants twice to make this happen. What was cool was that Southeast Middle was connected to the elementary school, which made it easy for the kids to perform their stories for the younger grades.

All of these experiences led me to my teaching career and helped me firmly plant my feet into it. In the time I was a Toastmaster I went from business owner to a college student. Without a doubt, the love and support from those in my club helped me immensely in this direction. I simply cannot measure what those years have given me.

When I gave my final speech during my farewell meeting on June 5, 2000, I used this poem as my guide. I felt like it said everything I couldn’t about my experience with the people and the process of Toastmasters.

I Was Afraid of Dying

By James Wright

Once,

I was afraid of dying

In a field of dry weeds.

But now,

All day long I have been walking among damp fields,

Trying to keep still, listening

To insects that move patiently.

Perhaps they are sampling the fresh dew that gathers slowly

In empty snail shells

And in the secret shelters of sparrow feathers fallen on the

earth.

(360) The Artist’s Way

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Twenty-one years ago to this day, I began a journey that would be something that would have a profound impact on me. It was the WAY — The Artist’s Way — a book by Julia Cameron that started me on a path of understanding the true nature of creativity.  This is my “W” in the Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

What It Is

The Artist’s Way is a twelve week program that helped me discover my creative self. It consists of some basic tools and then twelve weeks of exercises that help us, what Cameron calls, recover a “sense” of something lost — Safety, Identity, Power, Integrity, Possibility, Abundance, Connection, Strength, Compassion, Self-Protection, Autonomy, and Faith. It is based on her belief that there is a Great Creator who works through us, and our job is just to put the footwork in and the rest will follow.

I have found this to be true.

My Experience

Throughout the winter of 94-95, I found myself deeply involved in doing the exercises as precisely as I could to get the maximum benefit. I remember going out of my way to find different kinds of workshops to take — like maskmaking — and buying things I ordinarily wouldn’t buy and using, such as watercolor pencils. As I worked through the process, I discovered so much about myself that had been hidden.  This included acknowledging harm to my inner artist as well as uncovering the blocks that I put up to her.

I have a notebook just dedicated to what I wrote during that first time through. I subsequently put myself through the program again, I think two different times. But nothing has ever had the impact as that first year. There were many things going on in my life at the time, and this work grounded me and brought me a sense of myself I did not have before. That sense has never left me.

Relationships

A couple of years after I completed TAW (as it is called by veterans of the program), the internet came into vogue. I was on America Online, and found an online community for TAW. From that message board I became friends with two people locally — Carol in Akron and LuAnn in Bainbridge. I am still friends with these ladies today. There were others as well, and I recall in September 1997 we all got together for lunch.

TAW
Carol next to me, LuAnn across. Love my Artist’s Way friends!

The TAW group from all around the country supported me throughout my surgery, sending me messages which I printed out and had in a book in the hospital, as well as painting their toenails purple as a show of solidarity for me through the cancer scare.  I felt their love and support and prayers from afar. It was miraculous.

Where It Led Me

What I learned was that once you remove the blocks to your creativity, anything is possible. In the Introduction to the book, Cameron says the main things to learn are: Get out of the way. Let it work through you. Accumulate pages, not judgments. This put into practice consistently in the many years since has made me a believer. Cameron believes creativity is a spiritual experience. Given what I have witnessed in my own life, I would say it is mighty fine religion. I am grateful that this book exists. It always makes a list of the top books that changed me and changed my life.

In her Basic Principles on page 3, Cameron says “As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle and powerful changes are to be expected.” Rereading that just now helped me see that putting myself through this program twenty-one years ago was opening up a channel. I cannot describe any direct, earth-shattering event that happened as a result. What I can say is that once the channel opened, it has never closed. And that has been the best gift of all.

(359) Visions

Here I continue with Encyclopedia of Ordinary Life, the letter “V.”  Not sure how ordinary visions are, but they have been a driving force for me.

August 1994

I’m walking on the trail in the Cuyahoga National Valley on a muggy summer weekday. As I walk, I feel “lifted” out of my body.  Everything around me looks alive and moving ever so slightly. Then I saw her.  A woman, well advanced in age (what we might call a crone), sitting on a rock in the woods with children gathered around her. She has gray hair, pulled back. She is wearing a long skirt. The children are apt with attention. I have no idea who this woman is, but I see her clearly. Then she’s gone.

Later I realized that somehow she is an incarnation of me.

September 1997

I have decided I want to learn an instrument, my first choice being a mandolin. My husband Jim suggests I start with a guitar. We walk into Sam Ash Music Store and start looking at the Martin guitars. The salesman takes one down, and I practice strumming it. For a few minutes Jim and the salesman walk away, leaving me alone with the guitar. I am in love with the sound it makes.

Then I see her.   A woman on a high stool, singing songs about mythology to a small audience. I can see her right there in the store, and this time I know that somehow she is me.

We buy the guitar.

Reflection 2015

I am not sure if I have ever had any other “visions” because these are the two that were most meaningful to me. I was in an incredibly interesting time in my life — my late 30’s to early 40’s.  In the next few days I will be sharing a lot of what happened during that time, the things that really drove me, and led me to the life I lead today.

I have not yet turned my guitar into a vehicle for songwriting, but feel that day is near. I am not yet the crone with the children gather around, but I do think of this vision whenever I think of giving up teaching. Somehow I am meant to be a teacher and somehow I am to make this vision become a reality in full. When I first saw this vision, I didn’t even know I was going to become a teacher. That wouldn’t be revealed until three years later.

As I wind up this blog, I will be revisiting all the things that have mattered the most to me. I think it will be the perfect way to end up this year of exploring the Five Questions I’ve been on — certainly another journey that has inspired me in ways yet to discover.

(357) Twilight Wine

It began the day I bought Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. It was April 2000, and my life was very close to changing drastically, as our move to Florida was right around the corner.

On this particular Saturday I had picked up the Davis CD at a good sale price. I had no idea if I would like it — I had just heard many times that it was very good. It was twilight, and I took a glass of wine and decided just to sit in my upstairs room alone and listen to the music, while I watched the changing light out my window.

I cannot really explain what happened. I’ve often likened it to a religious experience. This jazz music, created in 1959, moved me deeply. But not in a way I can put my finger on. All I know is that when it was done, something had moved inside of me.

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I tried to recreate the experience, but once something like this happens, it is hard to ever reinvent the the feeling. I still love listening to Kind of Blue, but it is always in the shadow of that first time.

Then last weekend I was talking to my music teacher, Tom, about writing songs. We discussed writing music and writing lyrics, the processes involved. Then he mentioned Kind of Blue. “Those songs don’t need lyrics,” he said. “It is all said in the harmonics and melodies of the music.”

Tom had named what I had been unable to verbalize. I was so stunned by what he said, I couldn’t even respond. That was what I had experienced. It is in the music. Words are not needed.

Somehow, during that Twilight Wine evening fifteen years ago, I heard all I needed to hear come through the currents and rhythms of a master and his band. When I said it was like a religious experience it is because it spoke to me on a level that I did not have direct access to. Trying to paint any fancy words on the experience diminishes it somehow.

So that’s it. Twilight, wine, and Miles.

Nothing more needs to be said.

(354)The Unspoken

42nd bday
My 42nd birthday, the last I would share with my father. I bought my first guitar about a month later.

Every Sunday I look forward to checking out the poem that is printed in the New York Times Magazine, because it often prompts a poem of my own.  I’ve gone several weeks now without being inspired, but then today I read a poem by Geffrey Davis called “What I Mean When I Say Chinook Salmon” (read it here) and I immediately wrote this poem:

What I Mean When I Say I Love Music

My father held the unspoken version

of how to be a musician. This is how we practice.

This is how we improvise when it’s our turn. He would

stand and play the solo and everyone would applaud.

We knew that sound already, having heard it after dinner,

over and over coming from his bedroom, his practice spot,

 

a memory of melodies, the tenor of the tenor saxophone,

as it revisits me at times, like at the end of Diana Krall’s version

of “Why Should I Care,” or at a Hall and Oates concert when the

sax player steps forward. I absorbed from my father the knowing

that to be a musician is to have music in your heart, it is collaboration

and occasional solos, it is standing on the shoulders of those who

came before and taught you all you need to know, and mostly

 

about not being distracted or displaced, but to know that the

only place the music truly resides is in you.

 

(333) 18 Years Ago

Today is the anniversary of the day I opened up to a new adventure in my life.  It wouldn’t be until about a month later that I actually accepted the idea into my heart. November 29, 1997 still lives vibrantly in my mind. I wrote an essay about it in 2004 and it was published in a book called Sacred Waters in 2005.  Here is my essay to commemorate that day:

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Under the Surface  (2004)

On a new moon Saturday in late November, the skies over northeastern Ohio were gray and the air had a chill.  I walked the trail through the woods near my home, a winding path through deciduous trees and pine forest.

I strolled along, kicking the leaves, taking in familiar sights and sounds. The trees were bare and the leaves were ankle-deep on the ground, pungent with the woodsy smell of rot as they returned to earth. In the distance, I heard the honking of wild geese as they migrated to a brighter place for the winter. I had only more gray days to look forward to, more cold, and probably plenty of snow.

At the end of the woods sat a lake surrounded by trees and picnic tables. My usual course was to walk right past the lake and straight to my car, drive home, and record in my journal what had transpired on my walk: usually a message from within, a creative thought, or a course of action I might want to take. On this Saturday, despite the cold, I found myself sauntering over to a table alongside the lake.

At age forty-two, I was beginning to feel the effects of midlife. The previous few years had been chaotic and demanding, and I now felt myself at a place where I could choose a new direction.

This was a solitary act if I ever knew one. I was certain I could figure it out, even though I had only a vague idea of what it might look like. I was convinced that whatever it was would come to me in a blinding flash, so I just had to wait for that moment. The wide expanse of lake reflecting the somber skies seemed to match the murkiness I felt about my own direction.

As I sat there, I watched six wild geese floating about randomly. They gathered together in a group and began to create a united voice, swimming from one lake edge to the other.

Listening to their calls, I was reminded of what poet Mary Oliver says about the sound of the wild geese — “harsh and exciting,” announcing their place in the family of things.

I felt a kind of communion with the geese as they toured the lake.  Once they reached the opposite edge, they turned around, again in unison, and it appeared they were going to swim back to where they came, like lap swimmers in a pool.

To my surprise, they suddenly took flight, in complete unison, the singing and calling continuing for several minutes afterward, as they flew toward new destinations, to warmer climates that would nourish them in the months to come.
***
I spent nearly an hour by Longwood Lake that day, coming to no conclusions about anything. Once home, I dutifully recorded my encounter with the geese, then promptly forgot about it as I got on with my day. I was a member of a local club and had some phone calls to make to members. One person I called, a friend named David, was home, and we got into a conversation on career matters.

“Helen, you should go back to school and become a teacher. You’d be so good,” he said.

I quickly denounced the idea as unworkable. After all, I had no college credits to my name, and with my current financial situation, the thought of attending college was completely outside the bounds of my imagination.

Yet, David’s suggestion didn’t leave me. For a month, I struggled with it, fought with myself over it, and loudly cursed him in the dark for mentioning it. Something under the surface was rising, something I could no longer deny.

One afternoon, desperate and alone, I found myself in my car, the heater running full blast, windshield wipers beating back wet snow, looking out across a frozen Longwood Lake. Snow lay on the surface and on the picnic table where I sat watching the geese just a few short weeks before.

I honestly don’t know what drew me to the lake — I don’t even remember deciding to go there. I shut off the car and made my way through the falling snow to a wooden fishing pier. I climbed the stairs slowly, methodically, marking my way in the snow.

I looked out across the white lake and thought about this thing bouncing around inside me, the long-held dream I never dared to dream: my desire to be a teacher. It was as if a thick layer of ice held it under the surface for more years than I care to recount.

With one swift stroke, David had broken through that ice. I had spent a lot of energy trying to fix the hole he made, instead of looking at what was seeping up to the surface. In a moment of surrender, with swirling snowflakes surrounding me, I softly said, “Yes.”
***
I live in Southwest Florida now. No wild geese visit me here. Instead, I am graced with great blue herons, snowy egrets, bald eagles, and common moorhens, all of whom come to the water for nourishment. Nearly seven years have passed since those days by Longwood Lake. Like the geese, I have found a warmer climate, a place that deeply nourishes my spirit. I have also found much more.

As I reflect on that November day in Ohio, I am convinced that mysterious forces were at work, causing a major change in my life. My time by the water created an opening, and along with the right words from a friend and a great deal of inner struggle, I found something that wasn’t lost, but was hiding.

I discovered this simple truth: finding one’s passion is a sacred act because it happens communally. No blinding revelations are required — just an open mind and a willingness to listen to that thing that calls to you from the depths.

This year I graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree, and I will begin teaching middle school. The lake on which I now live continues to teach me about the family of things, the life we don’t expect, the places at which we never thought we’d actually arrive.

Like the wild geese, we may seem to be floating randomly on the water of our lives. But our Calling calls to us, causing us to lift our wings and fly, singing in unison with others, beating our way toward our previously unimaginable dreams, and the pursuit of our fantastic passions.

(331) Power Spot

I have been consumed with creative planning. Today was Day Number Three of my break obsessively working on units for my students.  I am having a blast doing it — finding all the pieces that continue to connect together. But part of me knows I have got to get on to other things. I need to walk. I need to read that awesome book I started, The Invention of Wings. And I desperately need to practice my music, which has been languishing all month.

I happened to take a look at my Facebook feed around 10:30 and saw a post from Buddhist leader Joan Halifax. She had several suggestions for things to do on Black Friday. One was to “forest bathe.”

Immediately, I put away all my planning tools. I made a list of what I want to do the rest of the day that has NOTHING to do with school, and I went to Lakes Park to bathe in the forest. But what happened was unexpected.

***

In 1996, I was blessed to take a workshop with Danaan Perry called “Warriors of the Heart.”  He has a book of the same name, which I have on my shelf and refer to quite often.  I cannot even begin to explain what an influence this man had on me — perhaps I will try in another blog. But one thing he taught me is that we all need a Power Spot. The definition of a Power Spot, according to his book:

Your Power Spot is a place in nature where you can relatively easily tap back into your Aloneness. It’s a natural setting that holds for you the qualities of calm, quiet, earthy, grounded, centered. It is for you only.

I have had several Power Spots over the year. They seem to come to me when I have a decision to make. In early 2013, I used to visit a Power Spot I had found at Lakes Park. It was close to the path, but was behind some brush where no one could see me. It was a limestone rock that was fairly comfortable, and it overlooked two fountains on the lake that often sported rainbows, as well as a rookery across the way. This Power Spot was instrumental in helping me make the changes in my life I made that spring, which began with a dream I had after I found the Power Spot. I continued to visit it, often writing on the notepad in my cell phone my thoughts while I was there.

Along with some specific music (Dawes album Nothing is Wrong and the song “All Will Be Well” by the Gabe Dixon Band) and the poem “Mariposa” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, I was fortified to make the changes I needed to make, even though they were scary.

Since then, the Power Spot I visited has had the vegetation removed, leaving it wide open to the path. I figured it served its purpose, and haven’t thought much else about it.

***

When I arrived at Lakes today, I started walking the paved path around the lake to the woods. I noticed a mound that was covered with what I like to think of as Ft. Myers snow — little white flowers that appear this time of year:

Nove 27 mound
The mound covered with “snow”

This piece of land called to me, and I started to walk up to the top with the intention of plopping myself down when I got there. Instead, I looked down and saw a mighty nice sitting rock. I went down and found the most comfortable way to sit on this piece of limestone, and knew in an instant I had found my new Power Spot. I wasn’t even looking, but here I was, looking out across the lake, perfectly secluded from all the people walking and biking the path and visiting the Farmer’s Market. It was a beautiful feeling.

Nove 27 view
View from the newly-minted Power Spot

I sat for just a bit, and then walked on, knowing I would return. And right afterward, a couple pieces of the puzzle on the units I was planning came together. Just like that. And now I know there is no more planning to do — I found the questions that are the driving force in the units. The rest will come in time.

Nove 27 butterfly
Delightful companions

I walked on into the woods, visited along the journey by two Zebra Longwings. I walked off the path for a while and said a prayer. I heard some sirens in the distance I was in the woods, and said a prayer for whoever was involved.

When I came out, I saw a Power Tree — one of those trees that just says, “Here I am.” All of nature was alive to me, as I continued to walk.

Nove 27 tree
Say hello!

When I left, Gladiolus Drive was all backed up.  There was a five car crash that had happened while I was at the park. I said another prayer for those involved, and came home to share my story.

Nove 27 me

 

(330) These Five

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THE POEM

I saw These Five, creative and engaged, bringing out the True North in each other.

I saw them taking turns on the tightrope; the others a net below.

I saw the Roundtable of Solidarity that feeds and nourishes monthly.

I saw the Trail Brazin’ blog taking These Five to those dangerous woods, the places of discomfort and release.

I saw the Writing Marathons and Retreats, time in nature and extended conversations, wrapping a ribbon around their unity, re-establishing, reconnecting, transforming.

I saw the path to dreams coming true, higher purposes being realized, and stepping beyond the ordinariness of life, if even just for a micro moment, pen in hand.

THE PROCESS

This is another spin-off from the Sanibel Island Writing Conference.  I used a process from Nick Flynn’s book A Note Slipped Under the Door.  In fact, the poem by that title (by Charles Simic) is the mentor poem for this.

I first was inspired today by the Rumi poem on A Year of Being Here website.  I took one of the lines and thought I’d write from there.  I wrote this:

Thanksgiving carries us to the heart of the Beloved, and my writing friends have carried me to the heart of my writing soul.

But then I didn’t know anywhere else to go.

So I decided to find some images. The rest of this process is from Nick’s book. I used it this week with my 8th grades as their final exam for our One Book, One School novel with wonderful results.

The first step is to find the images and do little sketches:

image image

The next step is to “write long” about each image.  This is to get in deeper.  Then pull from there to create the poem.

Trail Brazin’ friends — my sister writers — Happy Thanksgiving from the depths of everything you have helped me to become over the last 30 months.  I am grateful for every moment we have spent together, and look forward to all that is to come because of our relationship. You have helped me find the joy my heart desired.