Monday, November 30, 2015

#EveryBrilliantThing November Roundup

This year I am keeping a virtual gratitude list, inspired by the play Every Brilliant ThingHere's my post about it. I can't believe the year is nearly over... this has been such a wonderful practice for me.

Here is my list for November:

Daylight Savings time.
Nesting dolls.
Eric on drumset.
Cabin in the woods.
Early morning rain in the woods.
Taking a mental health day.
Trying a new recipe.
Peanut butter balls.
Colored pencils.
Sunshine on a cool day.
Kid art on display.
Thanksgiving 2015
Fresh paint.
Almond butter.
Hot chocolate.
Friday night football.
Mashed potatoes.
Leaf quilt.
Self-timer setting on camera.
Movies that are also books.
Time with my sister.
70 degrees in November.
How you can reinvent yourself with a new haircut.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ghosts of Thanksgivings Past

This year I'm feeling particularly grateful, which makes me festive for the Thanksgiving holiday. Even though our gathering will be small, it hasn't stopped me from doing all the things I love best -- like get out the kids' old Thanksgiving art! The kitchen looks like a turkey farm! Here are just a few shots:

and a poem by Eric:


Fat, Colorful,
Strutting, Gobbling
Proud, Excited, Scared, Sad

 Check out these angry looking scarecrows...

The decorations are not limited to wallhangings, oh no... here are a few sculptures:

... and finally, here is a pilgrim version of Paul and me:


Monday, November 23, 2015

On Summits and How To Reach Them

This year each morning I've been reading THE BOOK OF AWAKENING by Mark Nepo. I've dog-eared and highlighted many a passage, and today I want to share one from last week:

... and here's the complete quote:  

"Despite all our noble efforts to reach some treasured peak -- be it a dream of wealth or love -- we carry the summit within. And it is always the effort and exhaustion -- the very  journey itself -- that opens the view which is everywhere. For the summit is not so much arrived at as we are worn open to it."  - Mark Nepo

Friday, November 20, 2015

"I Am Angry" by Michael Rosen

...spotted last week when I was visiting
my sister in Chattanooga! I love it!
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect (who's been blogging for NINE years!!) for Roundup.

I can't help but think of those Poetry Friday friends gathered at NCTE... I sure do miss being there! Hope it's a great conference, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

Here, I've been making my Thanksgiving shopping list and dreaming about all those wonderments I am going to prepare and relish. :) I typically make two trips for all the required items and have already accomplished the first one -- for turkey, new spices, and other staples like sugar and cream cheese. Next trip, I'll get all the produce -- and the things I forgot the first go around. Our gathering will be small, and I am so looking forward to sharing that time in the kitchen and at the table with those I love best!

AND, I've been reading more CYBILS nominees. This week I'd like to share a favorite poem from A GREAT BIG CUDDLE: Poems for the Very Young by Michael Rosen, illus. by Chris Riddell, which is full of fun for the wee ones.

I Am Angry
by Michael Rosen

I am angry
really angry
angry, angry, angry
I'm so angry I'll jump up and down
I'll roll on the ground
Make a din
Make you spin
Pull out my hair
Throw you in the air
Pull down posts
Hunt for ghosts
Scare spiders
Scare tigers
Pull up trees
Bully bees
Rattle the radiators
Frighten alligators
Cut down flowers
Bring down towers
Bang all the bones
Wake up stones
Shake the tiles
Stop all smiles
Silence birds
Boil words
Mash up names
Grind up games
Crush tunes
Squash moons
Make giants run
Terrify the sun
Turn the sky red
And then go to bed.
Here's how it appears in the book:

Funny thing: I tried to record this poem for Soundcloud, but 1) I kept losing my breath and 2) my voice doesn't lend itself very well to "angry." Possibly I can sound annoyed, but angry? Even when I AM angry, I don't sound all that angry. (Just look at her, though, my husband says....) This is the curse of quiet people. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015


We thought we might go this weekend to see THE 33, but then we decided no, maybe something else. We landed on SUFFRAGETTE, a tough, dark, historical film that tells the true story of a group of women in London fighting for women's right to vote. The fight in London had been peaceful for many years, to no avail, so finally the suffragettes decided they needed to ACT, not just talk. And so they threw rocks at store windows and set bombs in post boxes and burned buildings. They spent time in jail where they were treated horribly. And finally, finally, something happened to give them the platform they needed for change. (Go see the movie to find out what!)

It's not a fun movie to watch, but an important one. I'm so grateful for these women and women like them who made possible the rights I now enjoy. One cool thing they did at the end of the film was run a scroll of different countries with the year voting rights were extended to women. The last country on the list, Saudi Arabia, still doesn't have voting rights for women. According to the film voting rights have been promised just this year (2015). (Just for some perspective, it was 1918 for England and 1920 for the United States.) My favorite part of the movie was when they cut to the actual footage of the suffragettes marching in the streets of London. Beautiful and inspiring.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Beauty of the Bone

Hello, and happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones for Roundup!

It's been a wild week, thanks to all of you... what fun the WILD Roundup has been! If you haven't had a chance yet to check it out, please do. Thanks, everyone, for joining in the celebration...I look forward to each of YOUR 10 year Blogiversaries!

And now I am struck by the calendar: mid-November, really?! Where-has-the-time-gone thoughts prompted me to pull an old favorite book from the kids' bookshelf: A CHILD'S CALENDAR by John Updike, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman. With poems originally published in 1965, this version is from 1999, and look, it features a multiracial family! Nice to find diverse books on the backlist, yes?

by John Updike

The stripped and shapely
Maple grieves
The loss of her
Departed leaves.

The ground is hard,
As hard as stone.
The year is old,
The birds are flown.

And yet the world,
Displays a certain
Loveliness --

The beauty of
The bone. Tall god
Must see our souls
This way, and nod.

Give thanks: we do,
Each in his place
Around the table
During grace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Advice from Anne Lamott

Last week I was fortunate enough to sit in a church and listen to Anne Lamott talk about creativity and writing and pain -- and pajama tops. (You had to be there. :) It was an inspiring night, and I especially loved getting to know the young writer/mom I happened to be sitting next to. O happy accident! Or not...

Anne had lots to say about taking the first step, just doing it, and how bumper sticker language can be maddening when one is grieving and really just needs to hear, yes, this sucks, let me sit with you a while. But of all the wonderful words she shared with us, this is what has stuck with me:

Look up.

Not down at your shoes.

Not at your belly -- yes, it's sticking out.

Look up.

Isn't that wonderful?! In part, because it can mean so many things... look up with pride, be bold, meet the world head on, give thanks, praise... LOOK UP.

Thank you, Anne Lamott! And thank YOU, readers, for sharing in my WILD celebration. So, so wonderful!! I am still buzzing. 

And looking up. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

It's a WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration!

Hello, and welcome to a WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration! Ten years ago -- November 9, 2005 -- I wrote my very first blog post. At the time my blog was called Daytips for Writers, and since I had young children at the time, I thought, well, hey, it's not much, but a tip a day -- I can do that.

And so I did!

1301 posts later.... my blog has continued to evolve as my life has changed and as I've grown as a writer -- may it always be so! The current incarnation "Live Your Poem" still feels like a good fit for me, so I will keep going with that as I enter my next 10 years as a blogger. Who knows where this old blog will take me next?

Blogging really is a wonderful practice, and over the years I have found it to be a grounding force in my life. It keeps me connected to the rest of the world when my writing life is most often intensely solitary. It also keeps me writing, even when I'm feeling disenchanted or bored or overwhelmed in my "other" writing life. It's just good medicine.

 But the best part -- THE BEST PART -- is all the wonderful people I've gotten to know! What passion! What inspiration! What JOY. Which is why I've invited all my blogging friends to be my special, honored party guests and contribute a blog post on the theme of WILD (my 2015 One Little Word). What better way to celebrate this milestone than with the community that makes it such a meaningful, rewarding experience?! Hugs and kisses and storms of confetti to all of you! Thank you for making the blogosphere a beautiful space.

As for my offering, I want to share a couple of quotes from THIS SIDE OF WILD by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is perpetually on my Ideal Dinner Party list, and I adore everything he writes about dogs and survival and the wilderness. This new memoir includes some funny bits and some touching bits, and everyone should read it. Enjoy!


14 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Blogging

14. Pictures really are worth a thousand words.

13. Short really is sweet.

12. You can take a break from blogging, and the world won't stop turning.

11. In fact, you can take a break from blogging, and you will be welcomed instantly back into the fold.

10. I am not alone.

9. In fact, there are lots of people who love the things I love, all over the world. Blogging helps me find those people.

8. A blog post doesn't have to be perfect. A poem doesn't have to be perfect.

7. In fact, readers appreciate being allowed a glimpse of your imperfections.

6. You can waste a lot of time looking at the numbers (Google analytics, anyone?), when the numbers aren't what's important.

5. What's important is what you are going to post TODAY.

4. What's important is the one person who will read your post and find exactly what they needed to read TODAY.

3. What's important is reading other people's blogs.

2. What's important is leaving that comment that just might make someone's day.

1. What's important is sharing a little bit of who you are with the world.


...and now, I give you Gary Paulsen!

"I have written much about the woods, being in the woods, being in nature, as it was for me a very real kind of sanctuary - a safe place. A truly safe place. A beautiful place. And yet...

And yet.

I have been attacked by moose, charged by bear, run down by feral dog packs, struck by rattlesnakes, bump-attacked by sharks... even put on top of my car by an angry weasel not much bigger than my thumb. (I thought, later, that he might have rabies, but at the time I merely jumped in fear.)

It's just that those things don't seem to have the weight, the measureless beauty of countless sunsets and dawns, the simple grace and clear glory of nature. And besides, often it is the bad things that turn out to be the best. I fell off a dogsled down a frozen waterfall and landed on sharp ice on a kneecap. It was so agonizing, I thought, seriously that my heart would stop. But I found that my whole dog team loved and worried about me so much, they curved downstream and worked back to me to surround me as I lay clutching my lacerated knee, whimpering and pushing their warm bodies against me. I remember the love, the dog love, much more than the shattered knee...."

Isn't that beautiful? And true! For more, here's an interview with Gary.

And now for the best part of this party: YOU! Please leave your WILD links below. Thank you!!!

An InLinkz Link-up

Wow. This may be my longest post ever! THANK YOU FOR READING!!! xo

Friday, November 6, 2015

When the World Learned to Drive

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat. for Roundup. This is my last post before my WILD 10 Year Blogiversary Celebration, coming Monday, November 9! Actually, the link will go live Sunday evening. Along with all the WILD links, I'll be sharing 14 Things I've Learned from 10 Years of Blogging. I'm excited!!!

Today I have for you an original poem. Last month I attended My Favorite Poem, a community poetry reading here in Birmingham in which folks share their favorite poem and why it's important to their lives. One high school student shared "When the World Was Ten Years Old He Fell Deep in Love with Egypt" by Patricia Lockwood -- and I fell in love with using the world as a way to write a poem. The very next day I wrote this poem about our 15 year old son who is the world and our youngest son and who has already passed his driving test and is waiting for The Day to arrive when he can officially drive off into the sunset... without his mother beside him.

When the World Learned to Drive (for Eric)
- after Patricia Lockwood

When the world learned to drive
he started on back roads, trim
neighborhood streets, his eyes
watchful for trash cans and cats.
At first his foot came down hard,
his hands slick against the wheel,
right turn right turn right turn
until he was thank God, back home.

When the world learned to drive,
he grinned at stop signs,
their bold-print and eager faces
familiar as his reflection,
and equally as maddening –
until he learned the feather-art
of rubber sole easy-easy
against rubber pedal.

When the world learned to drive
he couldn't wait to take the interstate.
He dreamed of long ramps
and fast, smooth mergings,
was unruffled by the whoosh
of semi trucks or the red Mustang
rushing his back bumper.
The world simply thumbed the wheel
and adjusted his rearview mirror.

And then there was no stopping him:
he craved city traffic, stop-and-go,
cloverleafs and flyovers.
His faith steamed like asphalt
after a summer shower, he studied
maps for sinkholes and mountains,
strapped himself in and didn't look back.

Not soon enough he learned
to navigate Highway 280,
it's ant-lines and zipper lines and no lines
a language he could understand:
hip-hop lyrics, piano, drumbeat –
with a little reggae thrown in.
To celebrate, the world bought
four pair of sunglasses,
kept both hands on the wheel.
Didn't text while driving, or eat,
or cry, though sometimes the sunset
was so beautiful he had to clear his throat.

The world was a good listener,
had always been a good listener.
He believed each yellow light
was a message from God –
sometimes, Hold On, sometimes, Let Go.
He knew and his mother knew
and every song he would ever write knew
that there was a road
somewhere with his name on it,
and if there wasn't, the world would build it.

- Irene Latham

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Good Books, Good Food

Tis the season for reading! Not only have I been savoring some wonderful CYBILS poetry nominees, but I've also steamed through a few other recently released books.

Anyone else read THE NEST by Kenneth Oppel?? Creepy and full of tension. DARK. Not for every middle grade reader, but what book is?? Would love to hear others' thoughts!

Today I posted over at Smack Dab in the Middle my experience with food in books and an original poem "Recipe for a Good Book." Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015


It's THE COLD WAR brought to you by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Can't go wrong with that combination, can you?!

I walked away with this thought... the things governments do that we, the average citizens, know nothing about. 

So much secrecy. I wonder: what kind of world would it be if we were all just straightforward, if we didn't hold so tightly to secrets?

Good movie. I thought it might be slow, but I was interested the whole way through. I never quite felt it in my gut, but still a nice way to spend a couple of hours with the hubby and youngest son. Plus, I am totally adopting Rudolf Abel's non-worry policy: "Would it help [to be worried]?" Um, no. No it would not.

Which brings me to this. Enjoy!