Sunday, May 22, 2011

TSS: 5.22.11

It has been a long time since I have participated in a Sunday Salon - but it feels good to slowly add blogging back into my life.  I have missed it and hope that this is the start of a new routine.

I have spent the past two weeks or so acquainting myself with the poetry of Mary Oliver.  As I have mentioned before, poetry has always intimidated me:  I never seem to "get" the poetry studied in school, and long ago I decided to discount the genre altogether.  However, as an English teacher, I have reluctantly consented to introduce (not teach) poetry in the classroom.  The poem that I choose to analyze for students is Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth.

But I have decided to give poetry another try.  I realized that it was quite judgmental of me to banish an entire genre from my reading repertoire based on a young teen experience.  I have also tried to practice self-compassion - so that if I don't "get it" - which is still often the case - I don't beat myself up.  I have learned that sometimes I may not understand the meaning of the poem, but I can still appreciate the beauty of a line or two.

After reading several Mary Oliver collections, I have decided that I really appreciate the poems included in Red Bird and Thirst.  So when I received two coupons in my email this week - one from Barnes and Noble and one from Borders - and when I realized that I had Borders Bucks available to use and a gift card to BN - I decided to treat myself to an end-of-the-year gift.  I don't know if I am more excited about these two purchases, or the fact that I spent a whopping $1.96 for both books!  In either case, I look forward to quieting myself this summer by reading a couple of these poems each day.

I am so excited to report that I have participated in Julia Cameron's Morning Pages via the 750words website for 31 straight days!  This is the venue for me.  I average 750 words in 15 minutes - which allows me to spill my thoughts and worries on a page without taking up too much time or cramping my hand.

I tend to use these pages as a journal - documenting my day, my anxieties, and occasionally some ideas to overcome the problem du jour.  This is NOT creative writing - but I do think it is allowing me to free my mind to begin working on the serious writing that I desire to pursue this summer.

To that end, I still plan to walk to Starbucks several mornings each week - grab a latte - and practice honing my writing skills.  Most notably, I want to practice travel writing so that I can try to capture the emotion of the trip to Paris rather than just the events.  I have purchased two books on this subject, Globejotting by Dave Fox and Travel Writing by L. Peat O'Neil.  While I read numerous books on this subject, these two books provided the best instruction coupled with terrific writing prompts that suit my needs and purposes.

I also want to try to cultivate some skill at writing about food so that I can bring home the experience of eating du pain et fromage avec un verre de vin - in a way that others can savor the meal as well.  To help me with this endeavor, I hope to read Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan.  In this book the author instructs the reader how to incorporate all the senses  in order to fully describe an event or experience.

Finals were completed on Wednesday, grades were posted on Thursday, graduation was Friday.  I have now officially completed the 2010/2011 academic year.  While the classes were not difficult and I enjoyed each of them, the personal issues of second semester drained me and the emotional roller coaster really took its toll this past month.  I am glad to have a full three months to rest, relax, and recuperate.

I also spent Friday morning packing up my classroom. It looks as though we will not be able to meet in the same location next year - although it is not yet certain where we will be.  While this can be a bit disconcerting, it is the fourth move in the seven years that I have taught.  I have grown accustomed to the transient nature of private schools and I have faith that the right building will become available in time.

As most of you know, today my youngest graduates high school - and I have spent most of the weekend working on her scrapbook for the Open House.  Fortunately, we have scheduled this celebration for Thursday evening, which means that I have a few more days to finish the task.

In scrapbook years Mandy is now in high school - this is a good thing!  I hope to complete her sophomore and junior years this afternoon before going to the ceremony - and then I can complete her senior year on Monday and Tuesday.

I scrapbook what is fondly called a Toddler to Teen album.  I do not try to incorporate every picture of every year of her life.  Rather, I select only key photos and create a two-page spread for each year.  When I am done there will be one very full album that documents all 17.5 years and it is a gift that she can take with her when she leaves home to pursue her own adventures.

So while I am officially on summer vacation - I do have one more busy week before I can truly relax.  But it will be a fun, exciting week!


  1. What a bittersweet day for you. Congratulations to your daughter.

  2. Congratulations on your daughter's graduation!
    I find Mary Oliver to be quite accessible, and soothing. Good reading to you!

  3. Ah, I still recall with poignant nostalgia the day that each of mine graduated. The first was the most the time the others were up there, I was prepared. Sort of.

    The scrapbooking is a fabulous tradition.


  4. I love your posts as you have so much going on. I too feel like you do about poetry. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on Red Bird and if you change your mind about poetry overall!! Globejotting sounds very cool and unique way to put your thoughts down about your travels. We have to go to school until June 16th!! egads!! My niece is graduating next Sunday- Valedictorian!! I'm so proud of her. I love the scrapbook that you're doing for Mandy...enjoy today!

  5. Congratulations to your daughter, and I hope you get her scrapbook finished in time! I understand your feelings about poetry, I often "don't get it" either, and poems in a different language are even more difficult. So I stick to my German poems of which there are some I truly love, and there is a real treasure of German ballads which I truly love.

  6. Congratulations to you and Mandy! Can't wait to see what you do on your real summer vacation:)

  7. What a lovley ritual to walk to Starbucks and practice your writing! I hope you'll share some of your travel writing with us.

    And congratulations to your daughter! And way to go to you for being so on top of your scrapbooks. My poor mom is still sifting through boxes and boxes of pictures to even start.

    Hope your summer is off to a lovely start!

  8. I also found my way to poetry through Mary Oliver. I love her so much. And, I'm just now reading Julia Cameron's memoir, and starting (once again, but this time seriously!) writing morning pages. It was interesting to read how those came into being for her. Anyway, I enjoyed your post. I'm a sister unraveler... and unraveling at top speed here :)


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