Sunday Musings: Starry Starry Writes

images Um… No!  But I might design some shaped like stars, moons, hearts, and clovers, just for fun.

It’s hard to see the stars while in the city with all the light pollution. Of course, it’s difficult to see stars in the daylight too, but they are there shining. It’s easier to hear stars and talent converse in audio books and electronic sermons. Why, some stars arrive as questions,  from the mouths of babies and Little Princes. Some find place in jingle like bells,  blown in the wind like shells and children’s laughter.  Some break apart and  fall to pieces. Others reappear as matter reorganized,  discovered as planted planets in a distant galaxy.

Star Girl Caloway was not feeling her usual glittery self. She was feeling jilted, and befuddled. Responding to crisis, a trusted neighbor gave Star Girl spiritual advice from what she remembered of the teachings of the Tao. That is, “to embrace the uncertainty.” Dootsie would have rebutted, “Dog poopy!” I have to admit, agoraphobic MaryLou was a strange one to be giving this advice,  but it was good advice.  Ha ha, so here in  lies the irony.  Life is full of paradox to be felt.

As one, more accustomed to driving the open freeway, I wasn’t prepared for the intersection.  I braced myself in time to brake suddenly for the quick changing stoplight. Pearl lurched forward and everything on the front passenger seat spilled on the floor mat. It was during this punctuation I sighed  and realized Jerry Spinelli was writing about Contentment. I tried not to be upset by the unforeseen change of tragic light.  I was glad for quick reflexes and decent brakes, once I realized I had stopped and I was safe.  I only wished I felt more safe and at peace about other uncertainties in Life.

Change and disconnection freaks me out these days. More so since the hysterectomy. Knowing I am in control of very little is also unsettling. Life requires adaptability and self calming.  Ar times I’m not good at this. Sometimes I feel I am hanging by the thread worn sinewy neck of a  rubber chicken adorning my daughter’s red Ford Focus’s rear view mirror. Like the   car, I am making payments for my words and deeds.

I used to feel confident, and  more the Super Hero in training.  Like a gloved Title Champ, not just  a pretender.  Maybe I really did miss my calling to be a  bull rider or Nascar driver, two professions that require risk and rely  on holding on.

I try to get a grip.  I wrap the rawboned leather strap tighter to my strong hand and squeeze with strong quads and abductors as Life pitches and spins. I try to be content and grateful and to look for starry starry blessings, cuz they are there among the shifting range of gears. .  I realize that Contentment personified is not meant to be proud and bold,  as much as it is to be meek, and elusive. It is a quiet introvert.  It is a trusting, shy, knowing child.

Shh. It turns its head, diminishing volume from low to barely audible, like an elf owl hiding in a prickly saguaro trunk, high, and out of reach. Still, I can hear it peep, and as if possessing the echolocation of a fruit bat or pink dolphin, I seek with sonar and climb to claim it.

I go up, up, up a prickly pegboard as if playing Plinko, even at the risk of falling to a cacti impaled death, just to get a look at those soft tiny feathers.  Risky. This is me, sometimes, not always,  but more  Frequently than not.  I am the answer choices to a gallop poll or a school district parent survey designed to improve ratings in spite of the limp.  Ahhhhhhhhh!

So in welcoming the Sabath I sat listening to a favorite Pastor share some thoughts on Contentment.  I settled in, trying not to try, only to hear. This felt Grande peaceful like doubly starred Starbucks mornings do, only better.

So in that Sunday, go-to-church -meeting, just down the aisle and just up the road from mile marker Johnny eat world, I found myself  with my  thoughts and impressions. I half listened and half drew what I was visualizing the Pastor saying. Contentment sounded a lot like Peace. I tried to remember pieces of Peace, like shiny golden stars on foreheads.  Like  a disappearing string of Reeses Pieces, forming an alien trail to the mother ship; like someone making a soft, silent get away from chase. Distance from the  jang, jang, jangling keys and eardrum burst of shooting stars.

I attempted to ascertain when I last felt really at Peace. It did not include  candy or Pizza, but it could have involved a massage with an aroma touch upgrade.

“When do I most feel this way?”  (outside of my psyche and external influence) the voice in my head silently demanded. I do feel it sometimes and it is something Holy. A hymn I used to sing in my LDS tradition called, “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” came to mind. I immediately knew the answer. I feel Peace as I turn to Christ. I imagine turning into His loving arms. I imagined and I prayed.

Then I loosed my pen and drew a container forpouring out and holding in Contentment and Peace. I drew a three-dimensional heart container…my cartoon self’s cartoon heart. I fashioned it sort of like a glass candy jar, or like a heart shaped Ziploc container without a lid. I wanted this creation of my mind, as I want my own heart, to be fully open, fully fe-malleable, shapeable, and open to gifts from God, and for me to be …ha ha…a “Peace Keeper.”

The more I listened to the sermon and read, the more I felt the verses of scripture filling these inner spaces, and the more I realized Contentment is a Gift which comes as a product of Love and Loving. It is a Gift of the Spirit.

Peace comes from growing and exercising Faith in God and in allowing Grace to wash over me like a Son-rise. It comes from turning from Sin. It comes in being Generous and Kind to others. It comes from thoughts of Gratitude. As I attempt these more, I am being more Generous and Kind to others and to my Soul. Being present with believers is sometimes the best thing I can do for my mind, heart and soul.

I finish listening to the Pastor’s wise words. I continue feeling open and humble for some time letting Love endorphins circulate through me. As I join with these believers, some with hands raised up, in singing lovely lyrics, I feel good. One man, who was handing out pens and programs, greeted me by name. I look around and with my eyes and heart I drink in the expressions and emotions of all the singing and lip-sinking people around me. What I see on the faces of the young and old and in-betweens is a sort of serenity, and blissfulness. Joy. I have seen this look on the faces of my students from time to time. I marvel and stand all amazed at God’s Love. I too, can feel it as I remember, “He makes beautiful things. He makes beautiful things from the dust,” and I realize “It is well with my Soul.”

I walk slowly to my car. Pearl is waiting in the distance, through the lovely rain. Passed the churned up, pasty fall leaves and thick mud. Today it is not a dusty day. It is a wet, silt and clay day, and a far cry from last time’s slick, treacherous ice. There is a car stuck in the muck not far from me in the extended parking lot. I can see a big yellow (tow) Toe-truck. Help has arrived. I am reminded of how I am often stuck… and of how exhausting this is, but Hope is rising on the horizon, on this blessed Son-day and all is well in this moment. I’m glad for this.

In less than twenty-four hours my mind starts playing tricks on me and I begin to doubt myself. I try to remember the sermon, but I’m too lazy to dig for my notebook in my athletic over-night bag in the other room, on the floor of my Sister’s guest room. No. I’d rather play with the baby. Instead, I try to visualize Peace as the small one jumps on my lap, giving me a circuit training routine, which isolates my already sore arms.

I remember some of the times and places in which I felt the warmth and healing of Peace and Contentment: in the rhythm of a lap swim, in Nature, hiking up a green, fragrant mountain Heaven-bound, resting silently in a tent, in a meadow spread with wildflowers just for me, watching a lightning storm, listening to rain, waking to the sound of the singing apple tree, meditating, relaxing into so many drives to and from the city in Pearl listening to K-LUV radio, holding my babies, and other’s babies, and my Sister’s baby, feeding them warm milk, watching them sleep, waking from just such a rare sleep (myself), witnessing God painting the sky, praying in the school parking lot amid the bus drop-off, lighting my smile to the smiles and greetings of parents and children who are hugging and waving good bye, teaching something I love and believe in, breathing in email from my missionary, and calls from my college- gone child telling me he’s okay, hearing the confirmation of such in the happy skip in her and his voice, reading lovely books, being read to, and opening to encouragement from cherished friends.

As much as I find evidence of Peace around me, I know it is truly an inside job.  God has placed a spark of His divinity in me, and much like a pacemaker, I have to take care of it. I must keep the hearth light burning.

Peace and Contentment are Sisters to Joy, Generosity, and Gratitude and their parents are God’s Love and Grace. I am a keeper of light. I would do well to be wise. I’m not great at patience or wisdom. I would do well to open the eyes of my heart to them and to all those who would light my days and illuminate my night sky with His holiness, finding Peace and Hope in Him.

 

 

 

 

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a day early

 

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some days come early

premature

surprisingly blessed

unexpected

at the touch of the Master’s hand

the Universe delivers

like a flourish of birds

to your breadcrumb offerings

leaving you dumbstruck

in tears of gratitude

you relinquish the tourniquet wait

the all wrapped up and out of reach

of five dollar daisies in crystal

peel the suffocating cellophane

limited mind set

give in and just receive

as if the tip did not depend on it

just breathe

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Frost bites… Ahhh

Children are one of the greatest joys in Life. I’m Grateful for my friend who teaches Art to our children and for those who make the Arts possible.  I love what the children have created here. Their imagination inspires me toward thinking and creativity. 

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Frost bytes

Inside the lab the children tap home row, but think of Winter

Inside her paper grading mind she sees

A D H  D    A D H D……and know they need to MOVE!

Outside, between the mini-blinds they long to go.

The Snowflakes play and dance and jump

like frosty aphids

Cloud jumpers want to land on children’s chocolate rainbow faces

I close my teacher eyes to tests and schedules

and vow to try to be….. more better

and like my fledglings, just let GO.

And so, I open wide my child eyes

to innocent discovery

to fly

to magic and believing

to making fun the tasty freeeeeeeze

to loving every icy thing

above, below and all around me.

***That day we caught two, three…… or ten bazillion crystals.

Sublime time crystals snagged from space before the bell rang

before we went inside the lines to rows and orders

***Right there and then

outside in real-life child time

I blinked and pinked and peeked

a sea of children trying to climb the sky

***They caught a cache of long-lashed loot

with wet pink wrinkled platted tongues to boot

They worked the work of clomping scattering snow shoes

cocked back, wide gapped, their toothless little mouths

refused to close

Again, again, they hurled a never ending spray of joyous celebration

the happy song, a child’s quest of romping salutation

a freedom called to play  that comes so easily to youth

a slip and slide of slush and shovels from January through February

of winking sloppy snowflake melt on everyone

and ice sickle sword play.

***I gazed and coveted

and so I caught for me a clear blueberry sky

atop the frozen flagpole field of stars on high

I sighed and tasted beauty on my taffy tongue-pull

and savored long and well that sweet sleet drip

*** I scanned to spy a hundred button noses cocked,

tipped confident to trusting, far from Winter’s cutting edge

a hundred open bird chirp mouths intent on feeding

a hundred rosy cheeks all zipped and scarfed, and willing

a hundred homespun, bought, some thrown, without a thought

for soggy shirts and sweaters.

Torn, blown and flying.  Heaped high in coat banks deep and dying.

A wondrous wave of woven woolen mittens burst again, hands raised

all vying for the blessed soft serve.  The sweet friends,

a mess of mewing kittens lapping milk

spilt soft upon the silky white of morning

one     two      three     four….more….the frosty excess

five fingering a Jan Brett mittened recess

upon the tongues of children, snowflakes flying without end,

then just as fast

gone gone to never-lasting

drip

drip

skin

 

and sun-baked

 

Then back for more galore!

 

***It’s days like these

I love to be.

It’s times like these

I don my eagle wings and breath,

immune to fixed, inflexible, and grown up thinks

It’s times like these I thank my God.

I raise my face to Winter Sun and muddy buddy dogs

and set my tongue

to seeking

frost bites

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Look Away? Look to God and Lead.

 

Tuesday, I showed students a five minute clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech. Prior to this we read a selection by his sister, Christine Farris King, in which she shared comical and heartbreaking childhood stories.  One day MLK went to his mother in tears after he was rejected by some kids because of their racist parents. Ten-year-old, MLK promised his mother one day he would Turn the World Upside Down.”  I taught the students about the atmosphere and the times.  We read about the Civil Rights Movement and  about the historic March on Washington.  It was difficult for us to wrap our heads around the injustice that occurred back then.  We read about peaceful demonstration.  I told them, discrimination and hatred still happen today, that’s why YOU and the Golden Rule are so important.   

As Inauguration Friday grew near,  I made a decision.  Due to a series of unfortunate political events in our country, I have been somewhat troubled.  So much so, that these fears have increasingly found place in my prayers. So Friday, among much testing, I took the advice of Lemony Snicket  to Look Away.  So in good conscience, I avoided the scene of sensationalism that accompanies a new Presidential Mantle, and instead we broke out the Mattel Hot Wheels and celebrated a days work.

A culture of fear is consuming our country. Social media is seething with hate and fear and it is frightening. I try to be unshakeable. I wonder how children understand our times and how parents explain it to them.  The unrest has also caught the attention of an onlooking World who is seeing America divided by politics and ugly, banal displays of indecency from those individuals we want to trust to lead.

I mostly avoid News because it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Some days, Pepto just doesn’t fix it. This weekend, if I hadn’t been teaching and coaching, I might have marched with a few of my kickboxing friends who have agendas. You might have seen the Sweat Sisters sandwiched between tourists and celebrity Sundance, with upwards of eight thousand snow-booted protestors navigating snowbanks on Main Street Park City, Utah.  We would have made big noise, while toting signs and tromping along with thousands of diverse women, Liberals, non-Liberals, and anyone feeling marginalized and debased….but I wasn’t there.

Instead, I was where I ought to be shivering, white-knuckled on a crowded swim bus, hoping and praying we’d prevail in the snow and ice on I-80. In the sure hands of a confident driver, we rolled on, like a yellow submarine cutting through icy water. Westbound, up and over Parley’s Summit, we climbed and braked, inched, and waited, unsure if we’d also be stopped, or turned around due to weather and travel restrictions. Fortunately, we made it safely and on time to the Invitational. I’m certain many of the stopped motorists in that other East-bound line-up didn’t make it to their destinations and showtimes, because traffic spanned more than thirty snow-packed miles! Unbelievable!  In the thirty years I’ve lived in Summit County, I’ve never seen that kind of back-up in the canyon!

The Women’s March must have been something to behold!  Glad Utah weighed in as one of the many Marches that day! Voices raised in rural, ski towns like Park City, and in major metropolitan cities across the country,and the world!  Voices raised!  And while the ultra-Conservative crowd criticized, (or fell safely silent) I said to myself, “Heck yeah! Speak up and be heard.”  Speak up Utah.  Speak up L.A..  Speak up NYC.  Speak up Washington. Speak up London.  Speak up Paris.  Speak up, World.  Amazing what can be organized and accomplished!  Now, work  more toward increased sisterhood and brotherhood, understanding, peace and civility. Have meaningful, respectful discourse.  Think, and offer solutions. Don’t just wear your bling opinions like go-to-town costume jewelry. Don’t just condemn and point fingers. Live each day with integrity, in quiet acts of compassion and love in your community of influence.

A self-absorbed nation without good will toward one another will not prevail.   America must look to the God of ALL people who brings healing.  But we must believe with humility and act with compassion and courage.  We must rekindle kindness and trust in every day living.  The world is watching, Mr. President, and everyone.  What are you willing to do for your country that you wouldn’t brag  about or flaunt when no one is watching?  You are a servant of the people.  Act like one. Make us believe you can lead. For now, I’ll mostly  Look Away and pray as I live a quiet life of meaning….watching out for my children and guarding them from Count Olaf!

 

 

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Beautiful Snowflakes, No Two Alike

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A Hundred Million Xilion Swarovski Snowflake Crystals Have Come to Sundance!

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There is an incredible Facebook video post of snowflake photography making the rounds.  I love all the Seasons, but for me Winter is particularly full of wonder.  It comes to play.  It comes to stay.  It comes as promised….kinda like a prophesied Star and Light. The arrival of a baby Messiah. Long after Black Friday, a Christ child’s Birthday Celebration, Vacations, New Years, White Sales, Resolutions and Refunds, Winter comes with Wrath and sometimes Tender Mercies. Some peaceful mornings, mid snow warnings, car alarms, the wake of snowplows, drifts, sub temperatures, rising, shoveling, commuting, stoplight exhaustion, and the coffee rush,  PHEW! we pause to See what Winter has beautifully created.

She exhales.  For a moment both She and we release our white knuckle grip on life to pause and to appreciate Natural Beauty and God’s generosity. At a glance, what Winter exhibits is simply  aesthetically inexplicable. A Water Cycle is a miracle that some have renamed Science.  I am reminded of this in a passionate young boy who knew it by both names and committed his life to observation, ingenuity, and photography. I share his story with my students, and Snowflake Bentley has become a favorite non-fiction, school read-aloud.

It’s best to hear it on a day that it’s snowing. Then you can do a Snowflake catch after the reading.  Kids chatter, scatter, scramble, weave and catch. Then they repeatedly return to you in excitement with results for show and tell: evidence of dozens upon dozens of tiny flakes on black construction paper, which within seconds disappear like Harry Houdini.  Nature is playground  and snow is a sport that motivates kids to catch and release again and again.

So,today, as I shared the Facebook  Snowflake bit, it didn’t take long before some of my teacher friends started liking it.  One commented she struggled with cutting paper snowflakes as a child. This reminded me of a story:

The fine motor skills needed for cutting and folding can be developmentally tricky for kids. About a week ago, we had book report day in my classroom.  Many taught drawing or cooking skills. One taught how to cut paper snowflakes. Another taught “How to…fold origami ninja stars” to the class. Immediately I thought of the book Blue Fingers.  After a customary amount of time, I decided to  give him extra time to shine…and he did.  He commandingly taught a step by step lesson to his peers. I was curious how it would “unfold” and a visiting service provider was observing as well. Part way through the student began to frustrate. I hung back to see how he would handle it. Finally I stepped in so as to preserved good feelings. This is when he turned to me and said with disgust,” It feels like I’m babysitting them!” I hugged him, agreed, and replied, “Now you know what it’s like for teachers every day.”  With a knowing, empathetic look he said,”I’m sorry” as if asking for forgiveness for his own daily doings.

I have concluded:  Some of the most beautiful snowflakes (and children) are the halfsies. Does that make sense? Pretty sure God sees all His children as beautiful, even in our brokenness.  God is an amazing Artist and Snowflakes are something to be grateful for! Happy MLK Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My New Year Luck Dragon (2017)

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Here are some things my students and I are doing:

  1. Create your own unique New Year Luck Dragon.
  2. Give your Dragon a name and an origin story.  Tell about her special gifts and powers. Make a classroom book of  Dragon tales. Write and illustrate a picture book or coloring book staring your Dragon.
  3. Think about what you are passionate about or something new you want to learn about this year. Use Art and technology to present a “How to…” Report to your class.
  4. Describe how your Luck Dragon will help you achieve TWO goals or aspirations this year. Document your work and findings in a notebook.
  5. Have fun.  Report monthly progress to a friend. At the end of three months, celebrate what you have learned and achieved. Create and host a Dragon Celebration in your classroom or school.
  6. Read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.  Find and read other award winning Dragon books.

 

 

 

 

 

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Psyche Fabric Softener

(Image found on Google Images, magic4walls.com)

Musings on Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul

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If I’m not psyche

…not body

…not feelings

…not Ego

What am I?

Who am I?

If I’m not these, then what?

Am I the Moon?

a fallen Star?

a tumbling ball of energy for recycling

Created,  uncreated

a being born to flesh to rot

and taught to become blessed

a Child of God in search of Holy

but more the static sock stuck to a  jegging pant leg

a dreaded  mismatch clinging

the painful footie, hyper extended, stretched

the stuff of knotted sleeves

the hurl of worn-out tangled lingerie and bedsheets

 

If only I were Conscious of this poisoned consciousness

if only I were wise enough to step aside

content to sit                    \M_   \&_                       beside

and from behind                to see

the Mind with all it’s tired thread count

and for awhile to watch it

Silently

no thought for thoughts

no thought for self

no judgement

 

if only I could

take a restful seat there

reclining in a soft chair

untethered car seat, unstrained

content within the swirling pain

just breathing in the moment

 

and then

release it allllllllll

 

perhaps I’d see

 

So  much of allllll of this just doesn’t matter

just isn’t real

just isn’t true

just isn’t  worth pursuing

 

perhaps I’d let the pain go

then and there

Rescinding malcontent

Relaxing and releasing

the greasy blocks and clogs

Without those inner tempests raging

perhaps I’d be more Godly

rebuking wind and waves

like “Peace Be Still”

I want me some of that sweet

ever-lasting Psyche Fabric Softener.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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