Thursday, January 31, 2019

Poetry Friday: Absences

It's not snowing where I live, but it's snowing in many of the places where my friends and family members live right now, and I'm seeing photos of cold and shivery days on social media. I like the way Donald Justice describes absence in this poem, the lack of color, the lack of flowers, the lack of sound. This poem feels like waiting and silence and, well, absence.
(My daughter took this photo a couple of years ago and sent it to me from her own frozen landscape.)

by Donald Justice

It's snowing this afternoon and there are no flowers.
There is only this sound of falling, quiet and remote,
Like the memory of scales descending the white keys
Of a childhood piano—outside the window, palms!
And the heavy head of the cereus, inclining,
Soon to let down its white or yellow-white.

Now, only these poor snow-flowers in a heap,
Like the memory of a white dress cast down . . .
So much has fallen.
                                    And I, who have listened for a step
All afternoon, hear it now, but already falling away,
Already in memory. And the terrible scales descending
On the silent piano; the snow; and the absent flowers

You can read this poem and more by Donald Justice here.

Tabatha has the roundup today.

What I Learned in January

In January I learned again that January is not my favorite month. It's a month full of anniversaries, not just of the 2010 earthquake itself (nine years ago now), but of all kinds of related events. I get sad, whether I try to forget all about it or immerse myself in memories; I've tried both. This year there was little public recognition of the date (January 12th); we didn't have anything special at school, and even the government didn't do anything beyond laying a wreath at the site of the mass grave in Titayen. My husband and I held hands at 4:53, the time the quake struck, and observed a moment of silence.

Over the following days, I had several quiet conversations with friends who were going through similar feelings; one called it "a heaviness" around the day, others retold stories from 2010. Are we more prepared now, we wondered? The UN says yes. Maybe the UN is right. (I wouldn't count on it, personally.)

My son gave my husband a book for Christmas called Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, by Samin Nosrat. He read it over Christmas break, and then we watched the Netflix series together (with my daughter, who was home from college), and thoroughly enjoyed it. Our favorite was the Salt episode, which took place mostly in Japan. So interesting. This is just the kind of in-depth nerding out over food that my husband loves best.

My daughter visited the library before she came home and checked out some DVDs for us to watch together, and one was the second season of The Hollow Crown, adaptations of Shakespeare plays about the Wars of the Roses. My English education gave me in-depth knowledge about the Tudors and something called "Social and Economic History from 1800-1914," but hardly anything about the Wars of the Roses. We were looking up details in history books as we watched. The acting was great, and it was fun watching Shakespeare plays we hadn't seen before.

My daughter went back to the States, so we had to say goodbye again. I'm better at hello.

We had started watching The Final Table while my daughter was still here, and we finished it after she left. Competitive cooking is always fun (more so if you get to eat the results, which of course we didn't). This was especially entertaining because each episode focused on a particular country, complete with renowned chefs and food experts to explain the food.

In January we experienced the joys of a fuel shortage, sending us back to many times in the past when we have learned the lessons of light and darkness. No fuel means very little city power, and it also means it's harder to run our backup generator.

Here's Barbara Brown Taylor on the spiritual lessons to be learned from a power cut:

"On day three, I decided that a power outage would make a great spiritual practice. Never mind giving up meat or booze for Lent. For a taste of real self-denial, just turn off the power for a while and see if phrases such as 'the power of God' and 'the light of Christ' sound any different to you. Better yet, ask someone to flip the switch for you and then cut the wire for good measure, thereby depriving you of the power to flip it back on again.

...Long for the light you cannot procure for yourself, and feel your heart swell with gratitude - every single morning - when the sun comes up. Value warmth. Prize shelter. Praise the miracle of flowing water.

On the afternoon of day four, just as I had finished deodorizing the empty refrigerator, there was a loud click, followed by the sound of a dozen engines coming on. I stood up. The yellow sponge fell form my hand. 'We have power!" I shouted, with tears springing from my eyes. There should be a service in the prayer book for occasions such as these.

O God of the burning bush, we praise you for the return of heat and light.

O God of streams in the wilderness, we thank you for the gift of flowing water."

(There's more wonderful stuff like this in Brown's book, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.)

I thought often in January of Brown's phrase "the light you cannot procure for yourself," which applies to much more than electricity. It goes along with my word for the year, Possibility, and especially the Nouwen quote I'm meditating on about accepting whatever God sends you instead of insisting on clinging to your own wishes. My wishes include 24-hour electricity (and some other things I won't go into). Maybe that's not what I'm going to get. I'm still trying to figure out being OK with that, and maybe I will always be in that process.

As I mulled over these thoughts, I came across this post by Kay Bruner, who recently lost her beloved daughter (just typing those words brings me to tears). She's quoting Nouwen, too (not the same quote as the one I've been using but very similar in its ideas), and she says things aren't necessarily going to get better, but we'll get through it together. The title of her post sums it up: "Hope sustains when optimism fails."

I always listen to Anne Bogel's podcast "What Should I Read Next," and the one for January 15th was especially good. Anne's guest recently adopted a young son who has experienced trauma already in his life, and she set a goal to read a thousand books with him this school year. At the time of recording her conversation with Anne, she had already read more than eight hundred. She talked so encouragingly for me (as a teacher, a parent, and a reader) about how healing reading is, with its combination of predictable and unpredictable, its linear nature, and its peaceful lap-sitting (in her case - rarely for me any more, sadly). While I don't have anybody any more who routinely sits in my lap to be read to, I do still read aloud, to my students, my husband, really anybody who'll let me. My daughter and I read aloud to each other when she was visiting. Reading (whether silently or aloud) is good for sadness, trauma, confusion of all kinds - it keeps me going, and that's another thing I keep learning every month, including January. I read eleven books in January, and you can see what they were and what I thought of them in my Reading Update posts (here's the first and here's the second).

The month ended with the Polar Vortex, and all sorts of nasty photos on Facebook of what frostbite looks like. Nobody where I live will be getting frostbite, but it has been down in the 70s and 80s here, and I have been sleeping under a blanket and turning off the fan (even before the inverter batteries die, which happens most days well before morning), so we are definitely experiencing winter.  One morning in January as we got ready in the dark, with only candles, I thought of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem from my childhood: "In winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle-light." (You can read the rest here.)

Goodbye to January. I'm glad to see it go, frankly. February will be better, I hope, and if it isn't, at least we'll get through it together.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Reading Update

Book #6 of 2019 was A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Meant to Live, by Emily P. Freeman.

"Eternity is not for later," Freeman writes."God weaves eternity into our minutes. Every day, he is creating minute after minute, and he hands us the grace we need for each one as they come. Worry and anxiety show up when we try to rush ahead into the minutes that haven't been made yet. There is no art in anxiety. We try to manage the future, a time that doesn't even exist yet, and we wonder why it makes our stomach hurt."

This is a good book; I recommend it. Freeman has a lovely voice and her words are encouraging.

Book #7 was Unsheltered, by Barbara Kingsolver. I had had this on hold at the library since it came out, and was still bazillionth on the list, so I was so excited to get the hardback book from my husband and son for Christmas. I am a huge Kingsolver fan and have read all her novels. This one is written from a similarly pessimistic worldview as the last one, Flight Behavior, but it is also oddly uplifting. It's as though having accepted that the world leaves us unsheltered, we can go on to make honest, loving lives. The narrative goes back and forth between two time periods of life in Vineland, New Jersey, one in 2016 when the world is basically falling apart for Willa and her family and friends, and one in the nineteenth century when the world is basically falling apart for Thatcher Greenwood and his family and friends. I loved so much about the book: the scene where Willa's husband's (young, female) student shows up at the house and she and Willa have an awkward conversation; the love scene between the (very) long-married couple; the affectionate yet angry relationship between mother and daughter. I see all the examples I had marked in the book were in the modern sections, and that's not surprising, since I liked that section better, but the nineteenth century story is good, too. Thatcher Greenwood is friends with his neighbor, Mary Treat, a scientist who writes letters to some of the great minds of the day, including Darwin. Mary Treat was a real person, and several of the incidents in this part of the book really happened. Similarly, the modern part of the story includes the 2016 election and some of the associated events.
Book #8 was The Dark Flood Rises, by Margaret Drabble. This book depressed me in a way Kingsolver's didn't. It's about aging and dying, and while it's well-written, it didn't seem to contain even as much hope as Kingsolver's pessimism. I followed it with an equally depressing book, #9, The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani. Spoiler: she's not the perfect nanny. The thing I liked best about this book was that it was set in Paris, and I enjoyed the very French feel to it, even reading it in its English translation.

Book #10 was a re-read, How to Survive a Shipwreck: Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here, by Jonathan Martin. (This was at least the fourth time of reading it. It's so good. I wrote about it here, here, here, and here.)

Book #11 was The Leavers, by Lisa Ko. In an early chapter of this book, Deming asks his mother,

"'Are you going to leave me again?'
'Never.' His mother took his hand and swung it up and down. 'I promise I'll never leave you.'
But one day, she did."

This book is about immigration, moving from one culture to another, cross-cultural adoption, ICE, loss, trauma. It's about belonging in two places. Do you have to choose? Can you be both? It's about trying to be OK with the kind of love people are able to give you, whether or not it's the kind of love you really want from them. Are you worth loving? If someone leaves you, does that mean you don't matter any more? I will be thinking about this book for a long time. When I finished it, I was excited to find a rich conversation at the end between Ko and Barbara Kingsolver. Here's Ko on her book: "There's this melting-pot fantasy in the United States that immigrants can seamlessly melt into the dominant culture while simultaneously bestowing it with a dash of flavor - a recipe here, a restaurant there. But in reality, assimilation can be a lot more violent." (She's talking about psychological violence, not physical violence, and the victims of the violence are the newcomers, not the people already in the United States.)

That's a lot of good reading already this year! I'm looking forward to February's books!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Poetry Friday: In My Classroom

Once again this year I am taking and posting a daily photo, and today's prompt on CY365 is "Prism." I was trying to think of something for that prompt, and decided to look in one of my classroom dictionaries. That resulted in this photo and this haiku:
Colors of living
Tamed for classroom consumption
Black and white rainbow

This week in that same classroom, I read the following poem with my eighth graders. Aurora Levins Morales comes from Puerto Rico, where they grow sugar cane, just like here in Haiti. This poem is in my ancient classroom anthologies, already lining the walls when I first inherited this classroom about 14 years ago. I have always loved it for the way it plays with the metaphor of sugar. It's not just harmless, uncomplicated sweetness.

Sugar Poem
by Aurora Levins Morales

is something refined
in your vocabulary,
taking its place at the table
in a silver bowl: essence
of culture.

I come from the earth
where the cane was grown.
I know
the knobbed rooting,
green spears, heights of 
against the sky,
purple plumed.
I know the backache
of the machetero,
the arc of steel
cutting, cutting,
the rhythm of harvest
leaving acres of sharp spies
that wound the feet - 
and the sweet smoke
of the llaramada:
rings of red fire burning
dark sugar into the wind.

My poems grow from the ground.
I know what they are made of:
heavy, raw and green.

you say, is sweet.
One teaspoon in a cup of coffee...
life's not so bad.

Caña, I reply,
yields many things:
for the horses,
rum for the tiredness
of the machetero,
alcohol to cleans,
distil, to burn
as fuel.

I don't write my poems
for anybody's sweet tooth.

My poems are acetylene torches
welding steel.
My poems are flamethrowers
cutting paths through the world.
My poems are bamboo spears
opening the air.
They come from the earth,
common and brown.

I talked a little bit with the eighth graders about the history of sugar cane in this country, and the plantations that required slave labor to run. Slaves here - and in other nations where cane is grown - didn't live very long, because the work was exhausting and dangerous. One of the kids commented that everything nice has a price. Sometimes we do touch on real life in the classroom, after all.

(By the way, here's an article about one of the main things sugar cane is used for in Haiti, rum, and specifically the kind called clairin.)

Today's roundup is here.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday: Goodbye to Mary Oliver

I imagine a lot of Poetry Friday posts tomorrow are going to be about Mary Oliver, who died today at the age of 83. I was sad to see the news, and today in her honor I want to post links to her poems that I have shared before.

In March 2017 I shared "A Box Full of Darkness" and then the following week I shared my response to her poem.

I shared "The Summer Day" back in July of 2011, with this photo taken by a friend and some observations on how taking pictures helps me pay attention.

In September 2014 I shared "Lead."

In July 2012 I shared "How Would You Live Then?"

We'll miss you, Mary Oliver. We'll try to live the way you wrote.

This week's roundup is here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reading Update

Here's what I've read so far this year:

Book #1 of 2019 was The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. This was the second or third time I read this book. I wrote about it before here.

"Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me. As long as I keep running about asking: 'Do you love me? Do you really love me?' I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with 'ifs.'"

"I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found. Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere? Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father?"

Book #2 was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis. My daughter and I read this aloud to each other.  I read it for the first time when I was seven years old, and it was the first book I read after the earthquake when I started being able to focus again. I wrote about this book before here, including how my daughter and I talked about it the night of the earthquake.

Book #3 was a Christmas gift from my daughter, The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws, by Margaret Drabble. She commented that it's easy to buy books for me because she just looks at it and decides if she would like it; if she would, she's pretty sure I would too. She wrapped it with a little jigsaw puzzle of a Mary Cassatt painting.
I really enjoyed this book, which is more a trip through Drabble's brain rather than an actual book about jigsaws. It's the sort of book nobody would publish unless it was written by someone who was already famous; thankfully Drabble is, so I got a chance to read her meandering thoughts about her childhood, her aunt with whom she did jigsaws, toys through the ages, and all sorts of other fascinating topics.

Book #4 was Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, by Rachel Held Evans. This wasn't as good as Evans' last book, Searching for Sunday, which I wrote about here. However, I did find it worth reading.

Book #5 was I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life, by Anne Bogel. I never miss Anne's podcast, What Should I Read Next?, and this book is written in the same smart, fun, easygoing voice. I enjoyed it very much.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Poetry Friday: The Last Normal Day

Today, I'm remembering the last normal day before the earthquake, exactly nine years ago. At 4:53 on the afternoon of January 12th, the earth shook and everything changed. Three hundred thousand people died. Or maybe forty-six thousand. Or maybe two hundred and thirty thousand. Or maybe eighty-five thousand. We don't really know. But we know it was so, so many. And there was so much chaos and sorrow left behind.

January 12th will never be a normal day for me. But January 11th was a normal day.

The Last Normal Day

The last normal day
we woke in the morning
and went to bed at night.

The last normal day
we didn’t even know it was normal
as we ate our normal meals
and did our normal work
and hugged each other
(or maybe argued)

The last normal day
the sun rose and set.

The last normal day
we complained and rejoiced,
we came and went,
we talked and were quiet.

To be honest,
I don’t know what we did
the last normal day,
just that it was normal.

The last normal day
the ground was still
and fooled us into thinking that it would
always be that way,
always normal,
but no,
it was the last normal day.

Ruth, from

January is always a difficult time, as I wrote here, earlier this week.  At that post there is also a link to the collection of my earthquake poems that I compiled last year for the eighth anniversary. And I did a Poetry Tuesday post this week, too.

Today's roundup is here.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

January is Rough

I think I just need to accept that January is a difficult month. As I look back over my blog, I find that again and again I am at that place during January. It's a time of saying goodbye to people who have been here for the Christmas break, and it's a time of thinking about loss. It's a time when I think more than usual about people I love who are no longer in my life. The anniversary of the earthquake - the ninth one - is coming up, and my mind is constantly circling around that. We're starting up the second semester, and it's great to see the kids again; everything has begun well, but I keep thinking about that second semester in 2010, those first few hopeful days that were cut short by the earth shaking on January 12th.

There's just a heaviness about January days, even though the weather is gorgeous - breezy and bright, sunny and blue. My heart is sad. It's sad whether I try to think of other things or whether I focus and reflect on memory.

Here's what I wrote last year about January, the dead season.

And here's a little collection of my earthquake poems that I assembled last year for the eighth anniversary.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


Today's photo prompt was "Exposing Your Red." I posted this photo, and the words of the prompt stuck in my head until I used them in a poem. I've been writing a lot of rhyming quatrains lately, "channeling my inner Emily," as Irene called it in her comment last Poetry Friday, and I did the same with this one.
Exposing My Red

A heart of flesh God gave me,
And not a heart of stone,
A stone one is more stoic
And never feels alone.

They say that I should guard my heart
And I have done my best,
But love lets in marauders
To the space inside my chest.

Sometimes my heart is flung about,
Since it’s quite undefended,
It’s kicked around the battlefield
By those it has befriended.

It lacks protective armor,
To prevent a scar or crack;
Whether attacked by one who does
Or does not love me back.

I’d wrap my heart up carefully
And treat it with more care
But I have learned that doesn’t help
And so I leave it bare.

So I hang my heart on doorknobs
And wear it on my sleeve,
Expose its red to ridicule,
Accept that it will grieve.

The only way to keep my heart
Unscarred, all fresh and new,
Would be to keep all love away,
And that I cannot do.

Ruth, from

Friday, January 04, 2019

Poetry Friday: Possibility

Yesterday I posted my One Little Word for this new year, POSSIBILITY. I'm using Emily Dickinson's poem "I Dwell in Possibility" as my text, and you can read it here.

I decided to write my own Possibility poem in imitation of Emily, and here it is:


I dwell in Possibility —
I peer out of my Gate
And wonder what Surprises
And Happiness await.

Perhaps a new Adventure
Is just around the Bend
Or maybe just a little Walk
With a familiar Friend.

I’m off to gather Paradise
And bring an Armload Home —
I’ll spread it out upon the Floor
To make the Evening bloom.

Ruth, from
What's your OLW for the year?  Post it in the comments, or better yet, post it in yesterday's comments, and I'll link you in my roundup!

The roundup for today is here.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

OLW 2019, SJFT, Roundup of Other People's OLWs

I'm beginning 2019 with a bang by doing my first roundup. I'm starting small with SJFT (Spiritual Journey First Thursday), and maybe someday I will take on Poetry Friday, too. I've always been scared to try because I didn't trust my internet connection enough, but here goes. I guess if my connection goes out I'll be back when it comes back! I'm rounding up the old fashioned way today since this is a small group and I am not back at work yet. SJFT friends, post your link in the comments and I will put it in the post. I can't wait to see what you have all chosen for your OLW, your One Little Word to help you navigate 2019!

And by the way, if you haven't ever posted on SJFT, feel free to link your OLW anyway. Doing so doesn't obligate you to post every month. If you don't have a blog, you can just leave your word in the comments.

Scroll all the way down to the end of the post to see the list of other people's OLWs and links to what they wrote. Visit their blogs and leave encouraging comments. And Happy New Year!
My OLW for 2018 was ENOUGH, and it was a good one. (Here I explained a little of what it meant to me, along with links to all my OLWs since 2009, and you can find many references to it in my posts throughout the year.)

This year I'm taking my text from Emily Dickinson. I read this poem with my eighth graders at the beginning of December, and as with most lessons I try to teach other people, I got more out of it than they did.

I dwell in Possibility
by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility --
A fairer House than Prose --
More numerous of Windows --
Superior -- for Doors --

Of Chambers as the Cedars --
Impregnable of Eye --
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky --

Of Visitors -- the fairest --
For Occupation -- This --
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise --

My OLW for 2019 is POSSIBILITY. This year I want to dwell there, and I want to gather Paradise in my narrow Hands. And maybe use more Capital Letters than usual. We'll see how that goes.

For a few weeks now, I've been saving quotes and writing thoughts down that all seem connected with this theme. They are still pretty undigested, so I'm just going to dump them on top of the Emily Dickinson poem like a compost pile, and I'm betting something will grow from the mixture, something unexpected and new.

1. A Henri Nouwen quote about wishes and hope, from his book Finding My Way Home, which I haven't read yet, but maybe in 2019?

"I have found it very important in my own life to try to let go of my wishes and instead to live in hope. I am finding that when I choose to let go of my sometimes petty and superficial wishes and trust that my life is precious and meaningful in the eyes of God something really new, something beyond my own expectations begins to happen for me. To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life. It is choosing to hope that something is happening for us that is far beyond our own imaginings. It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life. It is living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness, and moves us away from the sources of our fear."

So, embrace the POSSIBILITY, knowing you can trust God.

2. Bible verses that won't let me go, for years now, always taking on new resonances:

Ephesians 3:17-21: "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

God's imagination is not limited by mine - His love is large and filled with POSSIBILITY, and the POSSIBILITY of what He can do in my life is enormous.

3. Before leaving school at the end of December, I wrote lesson plans for the first week back in January. Every year it is a challenge to do that. Believe it or not, even nine years after the earthquake, the sight of January 12th on a calendar makes me feel sick, faint, light-headed. This year the date falls on a Saturday, so I don't have to make plans for the day itself. I wish it would be a holiday every year, because it can never be an ordinary day, but maybe it's better to work - I don't know. In any case, even when you adopt a mindset of POSSIBILITY, and you let go of your wishes and live in hope and accept whatever comes as Nouwen says, you have to know that one of the possibilities is Earthquake, whether literal or metaphorical. It just is. It always was, even before it happened, but now it IS, if you know what I mean. I always have to start the new year a little gingerly, feeling that it can't really begin until that horrible anniversary is past. 

See the second verse of that Dickinson poem, where she talks about the Everlasting Roof being the Sky? (I compared it for my students to Pharrell's lyric: "Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.") 
Well, sometimes when there's an earthquake and it's too scary to sleep inside (assuming the house stood in the shaking), you lie on the ground and look up at the stars, the Gambrels of the Sky. It's a way to gather Paradise, I suppose; sure it is, but it is also terrifying, especially if the ground you're lying on is still shaking in constant aftershocks. 

I'm just saying that some of the Possibilities are scary, and that's just the way it is. 

Even if those scary things happen, while there's life, there's hope. I think of these lyrics from Nichole Nordeman's "Gratitude." Nichole lives in Oklahoma, so she knows about tornadoes, which like earthquakes are unpredictable and seemingly random. You just always know they are a POSSIBILITY.

Daily bread, give us daily bread,
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed,
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight,
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time,
Or maybe not, not today,
Maybe you'll provide in other ways,
And if that's the case...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude,
A lesson learned to hunger after You,
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead.

4. Last year's OLW, ENOUGH, was good, as all the others have been (LOOK in 2009, LOVED in 2010, TRUST in 2011, HEAL in 2012, SHALOM in 2013, GARDEN in 2014, UNAFRAID in 2015, LOVED in 2016, ROOTED in 2017), but I couldn't help but hear it sometimes in my schoolmarm voice, scolding myself: "That's ENOUGH! Can't you just be satisfied? What is WRONG with you?" In some ways, this year's word is saying just the same as last year's was: stop grasping and clutching and holding on. But maybe it's saying it in a slightly gentler way.

5. I'm hoping, this year, to dwell in POSSIBILITY. As the year begins, I take a moment to imagine myself - a much wiser, more serene me than the actual me - calmly and peacefully gathering Paradise.

And how do others imagine their year? What OLW have they chosen? I'll round them up as they come in!

Irene's word is Happy!   "I am drawn to the word 'Happy,' because I believe happiness is a choice," she writes. "I think we can cultivate it in our lives." Don't miss Irene's happiness quotes and her list of ways she's going to be cultivating happiness in 2019.

Dani's word is Boredom.  She's been reading about how boredom, and particularly avoiding being constantly plugged into technology, can improve creativity. Check out her thoughts! 

Doraine's word is Balance. Head over to her blog to read about physical and spiritual balance. 

Kathie's word is Grace. Great choice, Kathie!

Janet's word is Marginal.  She writes, "The commentary in my study Bible frequently points to how Jesus ministers to the marginal, and in the margins; I frequently feel marginal myself -- in the sidelines of importance; and just to make it impossible to miss, my selection in a book of Advent/Christmas readings for Dec. 31 is Thomas Merton's "Time of No Room," which develops the theme of margins still more."(Read the rest of her explanation in the comments.) Intriguing!

Ramona's word is Try.   Go read what she has to say about why she chooses a verb and why her word is chosen with gentleness to herself in mind.

Margaret's word is Grace, and she also shares several other words she considered along the way. 

Karen's word is Alphabet.  She just started a new blog, and she had me at the Buechner quote. Happy New Year, Karen!

Carol's word is Embrace.  Last year her word was Hope, and a gift of a pin that said "Embrace Hope" started her thinking about her 2019 choice. 

Beverly's word is Focus.  I was also interested to read about the quote cards she plans to use this year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

What I Learned in 2018

I'd like to think that that my "What I Learned in December" list is completely blank not because I didn't learn anything in December but because I was so busy learning things - useful, helpful, and fascinating things - that I didn't have time to keep a list.

In any case, here's what I learned the rest of the year:


Here's to lots of learning in 2019!