Yes, I am busy. When I catalog for my husband and my sister and my mother and my daughter all the little things I’m trying to stay on top of in a week, it is a bit much. For some it would be too much. But I’ve always been able to sort my life into two boxes – those activities that keep me busy and those that keep me grounded.
Activities that keep me busy are those of housewife and parent, pet owner, teacher, committee member. Activities that keep me grounded are wife, mother, friend, professional, community member.
They sort of sound the same, but they’re not. It’s all about having skin in the game.
If dishes don’t get done and the cat box gets stinky, and my lesson plans aren’t quite what they should be and minutes don’t get typed up in a timely manner, well……it might be a bit frustrating for those I live and work with. However, I can honestly say, “better luck tomorrow.”
But if I don’t maintain touchstones with those I love, and don’t maintain a creative and compassionate edge in the way I work and live, well…..I’m not really living for all the tomorrows to come.
It would be easier to just be busy. I describe it as being “grounded” because I have both the sense of being at rest and in flight at the same time, something I wouldn’t know if I didn’t have a true sense of terrain. Having skin in the game means there is a sense of fulfillment – from getting hurt, taking risks, feeling loss and/or joy with change.
We’ve been reading picture book biographies in my after school class for 2nd and 3rd graders. We’ve read four so far and because our whole school is working on students being able to name goals and steps towards achievement, we’ve been doing the same for the main character of the story. What was their major achievement? What steps did they take and who helped them along the way? What was the “friend” talk each person had to say in their head to overcome challenges?
Our most recent read was about George Crum, possible inventor of the potato chip. Of course we had to do some taste testing of chips and try our hand at slicing a potato so thin you could see through it. But we also talked about how his sister, Kate, was his greatest fan and supporter.
Today I asked the students to name their greatest fans. Some of them named their parents. A few named their “BFF’s” – some of whom were in the room – but all of them named their teachers.
Woo, hoo – go staff!
a memory of long ago….
Our church had just expanded with the addition of a new sanctuary, one that was airy and light and full of new spaces to decorate. A friend and I became a team to design and paint large panels of gauzy fabric that would hang during the Lenten season. She and I worked on the panels in her art room at the middle school. It was a delightful time. We sketched a design, figured out how to outline it on the sheer fabric and experimented to find the right shades of paint. We talked about our children, similar in age, and our careers as teachers. We talked about our beliefs and our passions. It was a spiritual experience both of us will never forget.
The panels hung that year and we heard whispers of disappointment from others in the congregation. The following year, additions had been made to the panels totally changing their appearance. We were both hurt and withdrew from being active artists in the church setting.
Until now. It has been a long time but we are stepping forward again.
There is art that is a spiritual experience for those viewing it. And there is art that becomes a spiritual experience for those creating it. Does it have to be both just because it hangs in a church?
Saying more would be saying less.
So tell me, how is it going?
Well I have some ideas but they are the really dense kind.
What do you mean by that?
The ideas that have come to me in the past few days have a lot of emotions attached to them and while I know what sparked them is significant and I want to pay attention by writing, I haven’t been able to sift and sort through all that has been caught up with the initial thought. “Trolling” through life over the past week has snagged a bunch of good stuff, I just need to haul it on board and figure out what to throw and what to keep.
Tell me about something you’ve caught in your net.
Well I went to a meeting on Sunday with a group of artists in our church. Some of them are professional artists, some are like me – dabblers. Both kinds of artists have produced work for our church and we ended up having an interesting discussion that I would like to process by writing about it.
Why is that important to you?
Because there were interesting perspectives shared. Because I had an emotional response. Because I want to figure out more about what I think and feel about the topic.
So start there, start with an outline with each of those statements and tease them out.
Good idea, maybe I’ll find out what to keep and throw from my net.
The sky is pale,
not gray, not white, just the color of a cool glass of water.
I walk through wet grass, my toes getting wet through my shoes,
soon my pant legs are soaking.
My cheeks become moist as my breath condenses on them
and my hair clings to my neck.
Finally I just stand in stillness and drink in the morning.
What is it about seeing more light at daybreak that fills me up and sends me off into the day with joy bubbling like soda pop beneath my skin?
The metaphor hit home for me. Snakes rub their noses against rocks and hard places to make a tear in their old skins in the process of shedding them for new ones.
Rocks and hard places
shedding old skin
claiming a new one
my Easter best?
Why do I write? I responded to this question on my blog with a poem almost a year and a half ago. I still like my poem and think that it expresses my feelings about writing. But my experience of writing on my blogs has made me keenly aware of other reasons I write.
At first, with One Sunflower, it was all about telling a story, airing my opinions, sharing my discoveries as a classroom teacher. My family and friends responded in such a positive way that the blog became a repository for more – photos of my art and essays about my work. Participating in the March Slice of Life challenge that first year of blogging made me realize I wanted a place just to play with writing.
Wake Up and Write was born and I love it here. I put all kinds of stuff into this blog; it is a catch-all for poetry, stories, photos, word experiments. Although I have linked to Facebook, that is mostly for the convenience of my daughter and other friends. I am often baffled to note new “followers” appearing or “likes.” I, myself, follow blogs just so I don’t have to go searching for them on the internet but I feel a connection to those writers. I have never tagged anything with a “like;” I’d rather just comment.
My newest realization about why I write is that it has become a promise I make to myself. It is a promise to reflect on my day, to pay attention to little thoughts that keep appearing in my brain and need to be teased out and integrated into my thinking more fully. Composing and playing with words helps me exercise my intelligence as I work to choose the correct word and construct meaningful sentences and phrases.
Writing with some regularity is therapeutic gardening for me. I can till, and weed, and plant and reap. I feel more alive because of it.