Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

guns in schools, and the American West

This disturbing woodcut is brought to you by the talented Dr. Mark Sisson, art professor at Oklahoma State University. He offered it to help make a desperately misunderstood point. Our state — like many others — is debating allowing guns […]



The word ‘foxhole’ has multiple meanings. First — of course — is the den foxes build for their young: a skulk of foxes. The other comes from WWI — trench warfare, a hole to (hopefully) save your life. Today’s foxes […]


more wonderings about (today’s) Puritans, and a broken education system

Today I was thinking — again — about the similarities between contemporary conservative Christianity (at least in everyday life) and historical Puritanism. Several of us were discussing the sad state of Oklahoma’s schools. One mentioned that she has 30 (yes, […]


taxes, rural students, and my grandma

In Oklahoma (like most red states) we believe taxes are an unnecessary evil. That we can — and should — get rid of them. Especially on corporate interests. I understand not liking to pay taxes. Too large a portion of […]

peace, love, and teaching our children

I often think that old hippies — those of us who were in it for the peace & love, not the sex, drugs, rock&roll — became teachers. Because that’s what the teachers I know believe in: peace & love. Peace […]

“Teachers touch eternity”

Today for breakfast, I had a large helping of hope. Given the political climate in Oklahoma these days, I needed it. I had the pleasure of listening to the keynote address for the 2014 John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation’s […]

an ode to a nerd’s magazine, and chewing on silver bracelets

If you’re one of the sad Americans who think the New Yorker is a liberal rag, or that it’s too highbrow for you, bear with me. The real answer to both of these ersatz questions is c) neither of the above. […]

teaching research, or, why some folks hate universities

For several years, I taught research to college students. At a research university, no less. I taught ag majors, English majors, business majors, music majors, phys ed majors, design majors, art majors, history and econ and chemistry and engineering and […]

mourning a mentor and friend

It feels like my world is losing important pieces, lately. A death here, a death there, a third one just behind them. A lot of friends, colleagues, and the family of both have taken wing. Elsewhere. Wherever the dead go. […]

cutting boards, character, and throw-away culture

This cutting board cost me $15. On sale, sure, but all it needed was some TLC and it rivals my other cutting board/ chopping block, which cost more than 5x that much. Because this cutting board, when I bought it, […]


In a FB thread discussing art, anarchy, and writing, a friend & colleague reminded me that many people he works with want to know ‘the rules.’ They won’t write — he’s a teacher of teachers — unless they have a […]

plain ol’ human (loving)kindness

This is a picture of the last day of the last undergrad class I taught at OSU. You won’t get the joke, so I’ll tell you. Bear with me: Every day there was a note in our classroom saying, Please […]

the 2nd best and most important job ever

Two of my favourite things — actually four, if you include the ‘zen’ and ‘pencils’ as material objects… :). Teachers & poetry. And if you include social activism on behalf of teachers? You have knocked that homer out of the […]

Dear Education Reformers:

I’ve spent much of this month  listening to teachers. Their stories break my heart. Because these are teachers who are voluntarily seeking to improve. And they are exhausted, folks. Bone-deep, brain fugue, blank-eyed exhausted. It’s all they can do to […]

what teachers know: a thank-you

Despite retirement, I still get to work with teachers. And yes, I said ‘get to.’ Because teachers are — unconditionally, uncategorically — the nicest work group I know. FAR nicer than ministers, doctors, lawyers, dentists, salesmen, engineers or even scientists. […]

to bravely go…

I hate war. Hate. And there isn’t really much I use that word for, at least not seriously (I hate ticks, for instance, and mosquitos, but not like WAR…). And I actively dislike that my tax dollars go to support […]

the pressure to conform ~

I’ve always been insatiably, even dangerously curious. As a child (a pink-cheeked blonde, whose mother too often made her wear pastels…), I took apart lamps, rewiring them (and only rarely shocked myself). I slept with a taxidermied squirrel, because it […]

a relatively restrained rant about education ‘reform’ ~

My grandson is only a week old. I can’t expect him to do much of anything yet. Eat, eliminate, emote. That’s about it. No amount of trying on my part will enable him to do what even a one-month-old can. […]

talking about books: a tale of hope ~

I spent an evening earlier this week with more than 30 women, in a lock-down facility, talking about the dancer Isadora Duncan. Part of an Oklahoma Humanities Council book group initiative, partners are provided with books and a list of […]

thoughts on hope, and healing, and making a difference ~

It is the season of peace, of good will to men. And yet it seems to me as if the world has gone a bit mad. A young man — barely out of HS — murdering little ones. An older […]

day 26 of the month of Thanksgiving: the threads that bind ~

Today I’m grateful for the ways lives bump into each other. Because it’s all connected. At least that’s what Buddhists think — you, me, the screen where the letters appear, the chocolate I bought at Target, the  leaves blowing against […]

take one poem & call me in the morning ~

I’ve written recently about how politics is personal for me. So is poetry, but it doesn’t come out the same way. And lately, as I become increasingly aware of the futility of trying to get people to see both sides […]

America hates teachers: the new normal…?

I’m fashed, my Aunt Bonnie would say. From the French ‘fâcher,’ to make angry, or offend. It’s an old Southern term — probably been around since French settlements. It isn’t just ‘to get mad,’ however — at least not the […]

privilege, education, and the emperor’s new clothes ~

So this is what learning looks like in America. If you’re middle class or wealthier, your children do pretty well. More than 80% of them will graduate w/ a 4-year degree(see below). If, however, you’re in the bottom quartile (the […]

Previous Posts

pebbles, lobsters, and priorities
I went to brunch with my beloved yesterday, to celebrate our zillionth (happy!) anniversary. It was beyond heavenly: all kinds of food I ...

posted 3:33:14pm Sep. 28, 2015 | read full post »

the souls of the others
I don't normally do book reviews, much less book raves. And yet... I just finished a book that captured me completely, Sy Montgomery's The Soul of an ...

posted 3:11:31pm Sep. 20, 2015 | read full post »

the gift of friends
I am blessed with friends far better than I deserve. Colleagues; former students; girlfriends & guy friends; family who have long since blurred that ...

posted 4:35:30pm Sep. 18, 2015 | read full post »

a bowl of weeks
Remember how I told you last week that I was trying to be more mindful of time passing? And about reading in Lewis Richmond's Aging as a Spiritual ...

posted 1:41:33pm Sep. 14, 2015 | read full post »

ode to nieces and nephews
Here you have them: three of my much-loved, and absolutely perfect nieces & nephews. These are my heart-sister's daughter & son, and my niece's ...

posted 8:00:31pm Sep. 12, 2015 | read full post »


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