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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

writing Archives

writing, reflecting, old & new friends

I just spent the BEST weekend: writing poetry, visiting w/ one of my most beloved writing communities. This is one of my very favourite weekends of my writing year. I get to immerse myself in talking about writing. I write; […]

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blogs, journals, and processing

As part of a lawsuit I’m involved with, I was asked to see if I had taken any notes concerning the event under question. Because I keep a journal, which travels with me almost everywhere. In the 30+ years I’ve […]

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my own Amtrak writing retreat

Everyone who knows me even slightly knows I adore trains.  They’re my favourite way to travel. Because a) you don’t get airsick (or carsick). And b) you can just sit…and write. It’s this tiny world where all that exists are you, the […]

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lists, writing, and cleaning the mind’s house

  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve visualised my mind as an old house. And lately it seems more like a house that needs a LOT of TLC — re: it’s  kind of a mess. So when the […]

a Sunday meditation: happiness=poetry

Young poets often believe that it takes unhappiness to create ‘art.’ You must drink too much, do drugs, have a sadly aching life. Be as miserable & crazy as Poe, as suicidal as Hemingway, as dysfunctional as Sexton. Sometimes, they […]

time (outside) with family

Today I joined my sister, brother-in-law and sister -in-heart for walk through the Dallas Arboretum. This is a picture of the Fern Dell, not far in from the entrance. Liz — my sister’s best friend — used her membership to […]

what we do for love

We did it! Those of us who signed up for the half-marathon (and those who were insane enough to go 24 hours w/out sleep for the whole nine yards!) did it! As one of the participants noted, what kind of […]

marathons, half-marathons and the enemy of good

I’m doing a half-marathon tomorrow. Working HARD for hours. And now that I have you thinking what a sleek athlete I must be, I’ll confess: it’s a poetry half-marathon. The Poetry Marathon 2014 (24 poem/ 24 hours) also has a […]

heartsick reprised

I use this image alot in my blog. I wish I knew who first created it — they deserve my undying admiration & gratitude. Because to me, this is beginner’s heart. It’s what I think of these days, especially, as […]

heartsickness, the ’60s, and Ferguson MO

I write daily. Often it’s a note to family, or a response to a friend or colleague. Sometimes revising creative work, and usually this blog. Lately, the blog has probably saved my blood pressure (normally quite low). I write to […]

crowd-sourcing and ‘no’ as a learning tool

I’ve been working on a book manuscript for ages. Recently, however, it’s taken on immediacy, as I want to get it in the mail today. There’s one rather large problem: no title. Yep, I haven’t a clue what to call […]

FB, letters, and other little things

I’m huge on writing, as you know if you’ve read almost any blog post of mine. What you might realise, however, is that I’m huge on letter-writing, as well. In fact, I actually bought a life-time membership to the Letter […]

speaking poetry

I’m reading an old friend’s poetry manuscript. Something I adore — reading a manuscript as a writer, trying to see what the poems want to say, what the music is telling me. It’s the language of poetry, and I don’t […]

bliss, or, writers and writing retreats…oh my!

From the moment we turn off onto the rural roads outside of St. Joseph’s, I’m ready. I’ve been anticipating today for days, weeks even. It’s almost writing retreat time! I’m soooo ready. A full weekend of writing. Talking about writing. […]

tea and pencil sharpeners, or, seeing the real person

For Mother’s Day this year, I received the following: a promise of tea with my younger son — as well as a lovely note — and the world’s greatest manual pencil sharpener from my elder son. You may think those […]

writing, beginner’s heart

Writing is my practice. It took me a long time to recognise this, and even longer to accept it. It didn’t fit my (preconceived!) notions of what ‘practice’ looks like. But over the years, I’ve come to realise that writing […]

quilt pieces and a poem for beginner’s heart

It wasn’t that long ago that I realised how many of the poets I love best are Buddhist. They don’t make a big deal about it (most Buddhists don’t — I’m kind of an anomaly, blogging from a Buddhist/ Unitarian/ […]

poetry, seeing, and connection

I adore poetry, as anyone who knows me knows. Actually, you don’t even have to know me — you can just be sitting next to me on a plane (I’m often reading poetry), or standing by me in a bookstore […]

time and distance

I’m working (hard) on a chapbook manuscript. Which is to say, I’m going over work I did — some of it a while ago — line by line, word by word, space by line break by punctuation mark. I hate […]

writing, travel, and trains: a hopeful love letter

This meme is sooo me that my niece posted it to my FB page. And just in case you’re wondering, it’s NOT too much to ask! But it does seem to be a lot to get. However, I’m applying for […]

(just??) breathing

Today’s meditation focus was why do I do this? Really.  Why sit? Why watch my breath? Why let noises come & go, feelings rise and fall, in rhythm (if I’m lucky!) with my breath? Why on earth would anyone take […]

Nimrod Saturday!

This is the weekend of the Nimrod conference for writers. AND it’s the ‘prequel’ to National Day on Writing. What serendipity, huh? The NDW’s theme is ‘write2connect,’ as I mentioned yesterday. And all day today, that’s what I did: connect. […]

writers’ weekend

This is a picture of an issue of my beloved Nimrod. It’s also (warning! self-advertising!) an issue I especially love, and not simply because I’m included within the pages. It’s one of my favourites because even when I was very […]

waiting (impatiently!) for the National Day on Writing

Sunday is one of my favourite days at any time — it’s the day when, if you’re working as a teacher, you’re (ideally!) caught up with your grading. Your household chores are sorta/kinda done. You can relax. Maybe. But this […]

what writers do ~

Sometimes, when people ask what I do, and I say ‘I’m a writer’ (especially now that I don’t teach fulltime), they look puzzled. Well, actually they look completely flummoxed. How can that be a JOB?? And just what the heck do writers […]

message in a bottle: imagining a reader ~

Last month I wrote a poem for a funeral reading. The deceased wasn’t a friend — he was my sister’s dear friend’s brother. So writing the poem took some time, as I’ve noted elsewhere. Of course, all poems — most writing […]

a case for poets ~

When you think of people who are useful, poets probably aren’t high on your list. After all, who needs poetry? (Well, I do, but that isn’t typical, I realise ) And yet, when there is sorrow, or great joy, or […]

words of encouragement ~

A woman I’ve never met made my day yesterday. Actually, she rescued from the the flu blues, as well as a bad case of the Eeyores (woe is me… life is sad…eat worms…). Not to mention a spiralling why do […]

after the holidays: writing your way back home ~

It’s all done — the build-up of lists & wrapping & shopping & cooking. The family from out of town have departed, or (if you’re that family) you’re home again, and back to work. You’ve written (maybe even already broken? […]

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 […]

day 14 of Thanksgiving ~

Today’s a bittersweet thank-you. A poet I love dearly — Jack Gilbert — died yesterday. Gilbert was one of the (many) poets who helped me shape my own craft. But even had I not also been a writer, I don’t […]

poetry time, or, when names are poetry ~

“…in Micmac … some trees ‘are named for the sound the wind makes when it blows through them during the autumn, about an hour after sunset when the wind always comes from a certain direction. Moreover, these names are not […]

a plethora of choices, a pocketful of joys; or, how to change the world one meal at a time ~

Today’s one of those rare days when there’s just too much to write about! Should I share the great kid in the UK whose blogging (w/ photos) about her bad school lunches has changed school policy? How about the morning […]

beginner’s noösphere (and poetry) ~

I fall in love with words. And I’m pretty promiscuous about it — no single one holds my interest exclusively. I’m kind of a polygamous word lover, I guess. Much of my writing evolves out of word love affairs. One […]

the last time, or, separation anxiety ~

I’m taking early retirement this year. And it’s changed the way I view almost everything. For one thing, apparently it’s not retirement if you’re not old enough. It’s ‘separation.’ So perhaps what I’m having is separation anxiety… Our culture defines […]

the holy alchemy of teaching ~

I often tackle a new discipline — or learning more about something I know only superficially — by offering to teach it. Don’t cringe: you’re not in any of my classes :). And it makes me, I’d argue, a far […]

living in the present ~

For a number of reasons, this is my last semester teaching the class I’m teaching now. Which entirely changes the dynamic. Teachers know that every class — every class period — is different. But we often attribute this to our […]

Happy New Year! (and a clean slate to you ~)

I love clean slates. I love a morning which is unencumbered by the mistakes of yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. The idea that it all begins now, today, this very moment… It’s intoxicating. Just the […]

teaching the teacher: one teacher’s practice ~

You all who read this blog may well be tired of hearing about my wonderful students. So you may want to get up and go get a cup of tea; come back in a few paragraphs. Because this is another […]

“as common as grass” ~

“…in spite of the contemporary public perception of meditation and poetry as special, exotic, and difficult, they are both as old and as common as grass.” ~  Gary Snyder Yesterday my students asked me to read what I had written […]

the Buddha was a teacher, too ~

Yesterday in the undergraduate class I teach, everyone was quiet. Working. Drawing and colouring.  Thinking. I often use ‘childish’ tools and practices in my classes, even though I teach university students. Or retired adults. I do this because of the […]

serving art ~

Alice Walker, in her wonderful essay In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens, reminds us that for many women the only creativity they could manage was useful. A garden — like my grandmother’s, like my great-aunt’s — of fragrant sweet pea […]

what I learned today ~

For my students, writing a personal narrative — even armoured w/ attendant scholarship — is walking on verrrry thin ice. Their toes curl up, I suspect. They go oh-so-slooowly, each word a careful footstep forward. Each sentence almost too much […]

why I write ~

In honour of the National Day on Writing (October 20th — just  FYI), and w/ respect to my day job for National Writing Project, this column is dedicated to why I write. And what that has to do w/ beginner’s […]

the way home ~ faith and the trouble with poets…

I’m an expat brat — raised from the age of 8 overseas.  Spending those years when experts say you ‘attach’ to a place somewhere else. Then somewhere after that, and somewhere after that, and somewhere else after that. I can […]

what art has to do with it ~

There are so many things right with this saying… I wouldn’t be alive today without ‘art.’ At a time in my life when even my two beautiful sons couldn’t make me want to go on — when the entire world […]

poetry, memory & 9/11 ~

Sometimes only poetry suffices… When my mind refuses to comprehend hatred, murder, war and profound grief, poetry is a map to somewhere out of fire and ash. A map through the darkness to a light that may still be a […]

fear and procrastination ~

I have a presentation tomorrow. To a possibly large audience. Actually, we have no idea how many will be there. And here’s yet another confession: I haven’t really begun to write… What is it with procrastination? I’m thinking it’s what […]

September 1st ~

We must love one another or die… ~ September 1, 1939 by W. H. Auden He’s an unlikely mentor for a middle-aged female writer & teacher, this fiercely cynical, battered gay British poet. Yet every September 1st, I take out […]

public education & teaching teachers ~

This is how teachers learn best: caffeine & reflection :). Well,  at least the teachers I know ~ This week I helped with a two-day workshop with teachers in a town near here — one of the many small Oklahoma […]

poetry and the new Poet Laureate ~

There’s a new US Poet Laureate — Philip Levine. This may not be earth-shaking to many, but to a poet, whose vanity plate gives her ‘POETIC’ license, it’s HUGE :). And I like Levine’s work. I never like all of […]

lost journals, Alzheimer’s and hope ~

I lost my journal yesterday. Now, in the spectrum of griefs, on a day when almost 100 people lost their lives in Norway, this is a very tiny blip. It’s just paper, w/ some words and drawings and pasted-in ephemera. […]

the wind, ventifacts & advice to a young teacher ~

I’ve been trying to spend time outside each day, even if it’s only to sit and watch the birds jostle each other at the various feeders. And I’ve been thinking about wind — always a presence in Oklahoma. If I’d […]

down time ~

This is my past few months: the sands of time in a huge gritty mess :). Complete w/ the occasional glass shard. But yesterday my largest summer project ended (successfully!), as did another project, and a third the week before […]

epeleolatry (and the worship of words) ~

I confess. I’m a total word nerd. I was that kid you hated in 4th grade, who begged for spelling words, and won the spelling bee, and had her nose in a book so often that even my grandmother – […]

Previous Posts

unexpected treasures
This is a bat house. While this one isn't the one currently in my garage, awaiting its move to Virginia, it looks much like ours will look in a few years: ...

posted 1:15:47pm Jul. 30, 2015 | read full post »

making friends with (at?) work
Because of the upcoming move, I've scaled back on many activities I love, including several non-profits. Friday, the head of one I particularly enjoy asked if ...

posted 5:49:17pm Jul. 27, 2015 | read full post »

temper temper
I'm probably going to get a LOT of pushback on this, but at least in my family, men have worse tempers than the rest of us. And they don't believe ...

posted 12:36:21pm Jul. 24, 2015 | read full post »

In Praise of Teachers Under Attack, reprised
I am so sick of anti-teacher ignorance that I could spit, as my Aunt Bonnie would have said. “It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher.” No. No, no, ...

posted 1:52:52pm Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

moving toward light: opening up and letting go
Photographers have a term for when there's not light to shoot a picture. It's called 'opening up': you increase the aperture -- the hole through which ...

posted 1:42:11pm Jul. 22, 2015 | read full post »

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