Friday, December 13, 2013


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit the every-generous and inspiring Tabatha at the Opposite of Indifference for Roundup. Her blog never fails to get my creative juices flowing!

Here in Lathamland, we've got life journeys on our minds. We've had our struggles recently, and I think all of us here are keenly aware of how the most we can claim is to be works-in-progress.

And since writing, for me, is spiritual practice, I turned to Pat Schneider's book HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN. It's an inspiring read... and nice companion to Jeannine's new book!

Pat Schneider's previous work, WRITING ALONE AND WITH OTHERS, is another one of my all-time favorite books on writing. And, many moons ago, I was accepted into the Amherst Writers & Artists program. It seemed like the perfect way to join two of my passions: writing and social work. I decided not to go the formal route, but I do practice many of the teachings introduced to me by Pat.

Today I'd like to share with you a poem that speaks to me right now:

Instructions for the Journey
by Pat Schneider

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don't grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It's easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,
wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

Something else on my mind: it will soon be time to choose a One Little Word for 2014! "Sky" has been such a rich and rewarding word for me that I'm a bit sad to leave it behind. Think of me, searching, pondering, considering.... what will your One Little Word for 2014 be??


  1. I just added one of Pat Schneider's books to my cart -- thanks for the tip, Irene :-) I don't know about a word for 2014, but it seems like your post has lots of good ones: journey, shed, practice!

    1. Thank you, Tabatha... this word choosing thing is TOUGH. Glad you found some Pat Schneider to love.

  2. Thank you for sharing these books, Irene. The poem is lovely, speaks much to me, "the first green blade/after a long winter". Your 'sky' word has been quite wonderful, and now a book too! I hope you find just the word that makes you smile!

    1. I love that line, too, Linda! You have been such a special part of my sky year. thank you!

  3. A profound concept, to think of shedding past selves. Thanks for the introduction to Pat Schneider! I like the word "unfolding" but that would be a bit harder to manage than "sky"!

    1. Oooh, I do like "unfolding"... sometimes a challenge is GOOD. Thanks for stopping by, Keri. xo

  4. Love the poem -- will have to look for Pat's book!

  5. Letting go and self-forgiveness are keys to improving upon my own "work-in-progress" as well. Thank you for sharing a small piece of Pat Schneider's wisdom-- I'm hooked. If I were to pick one little word for 2014, it might be water, to remind myself to flow. Maybe you'd like to use that one too.

    1. Letting go and self-forgiveness... yes! You will love Pat's books. "Water" is one I have considered... so many possibilities! Wishing you "flow," Michelle. xo

  6. I haven't done the one little word thing...but maybe I will this year. I like Michelle's idea of WATER...but there are so many great words out there...hmmm...

    1. Mary Lee, I really can't believe how enriching the one little word has been for me over the years. Almost like meditation?? Not every year has been a good a fit as this one, but that's part of what's so cool about it. Thanks for stopping by. xo

  7. I love the last line of this poem. It's so true that in moments of greatest difficulty, sometimes the best advice is just to do the next thing, then the next, then the next. I have loved your sky work this year. I can't wait to see what comes as your turn this corner.

  8. I just went back and reread your January 2nd post on your choice of sky. What a difficult selection task, but I can see how rewarding having such a word might be. I agree that imperatives and adjectives might be harder to work with than nouns. Sky has certainly been a fruitful word. Here's hoping you find one just as strong for the coming year.


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  10. So happy to see sky as your word for the year, and I promise to contemplate one: you've convinced me. I also loved How the Light Gets In, the way poems and prose alternate, the attention to all the vagaries of life. Pat has made a huge impact on my "neighborhood," even for those of us who haven't taken her workshops. One of the four people in my critique groups used to work with her, and her values and sensibility and faith come up. And what a kind compliment to pair her book with mine -- thank you for that.


Your thoughts?