I am a collector and I hardly throw anything away. Not things, vintage clothing, pieces of paper with scribbles on them, memories, letters, pictures, feelings, associations and connections. I am a big believer of documentation, of writing everything down and have been accused of compulsive capturing. This sentimental side, the one that also houses the pack-rat gene, has been there ever since I could speak and then became more pronounced when I learned to write. At some point, this compulsion to take everything down and remember every single detail of what I see and experience, I attributed to being a writer. I figured I needed to remember it all, so I could always fill in spaces and gaps in whatever story, character, poem or essay I come up with. I thought all these things will eventually make it to my future ‘book’ somehow (on what, I still don’t know) so remembering meant material. There was comfort in knowing I could retrieve something, anything, from wherever I stored ‘stuff’ because it was torture to forget.
But today, I am thinking that it’s okay, sometimes, to put the camera down. To let go of the pen or the sticky keyboard and turn the computer off. It’s okay, sometimes, to document experiences and epiphanies in the little cracks of our consciousness instead of hurriedly and clumsily on the page. It’s also okay at times to wait for inspiration, for the best moment, for the mind blowing muse, the worthy snap, before spilling our guts onto a place where people will see them. There IS beauty in silence and power in observation and withholding. I honor that today.
It’s all good anyway because the silence is temporary and from whatever writing and documentation hiatus, the compulsive capturer always emerges with a new way of seeing; one that’s not so attached, harassed or desperate.
These past few weeks have been a blur. I tried, many times, to sit down and write but felt overwhelmed instead. So many things were happening all at the same time. I never knew where to begin. I didn’t know how to back track. How to recall and record.
So,I let it go. Because I realized not writing something down does not always mean I will forget.
Anyway, amidst the blur of loving gestures, emotional goodbyes, surprise parties and special meals with loved ones, packing and sorting through stuff I never threw away, I found myself agreeing to facilitate a summer writing workshop after a good friend and parent requested I do. People thought I was crazy to agree with everything I still needed to fix and arrange prior to moving. But I didn’t care. It felt like a gift, actually. A nice chance to be surrounded by Beacon kids. I thought it would be a wonderful way to ween and manage the separation anxiety.
True enough, this is where I find refuge these days. Twelve brave souls decided it was worth their time to spend eight two hour sessions with me and if they only knew what a treat it has been. To share and teach something I am passionate about. Without rubrics or TSCs or report card narratives. With nothing but the intention to get them started on their own writing journey. One I hope they will keep alive and nurture even after the eight sessions are over.
We are right smack in the middle of the workshop and so far, things are going well. Kids are excited. They are writing and writing and reading each others’ work. They are attempting interesting writing activities and have been blogging! I couldn’t be happier.
In light of encouraging the twelve to start their own blogs and write and share as often as they can, here is a poem I have been meaning to post for months but never had the guts to. I wrote it awhile back and showed it to one person (Joey Tandem aka Mr. Lapid) who helped me refine part of my controlling metaphor and one transition. I felt pleased once we “fixed” it but quietly placed the piece on my desktop thinking there would be a better time to share it.
I guess, now is that time.
Tell me what you think.
by Ms. P
It crawled inside her head
and lodged itself
in the deepest cavities
of her cerebral cortex.
She thought she was,
at this juncture,
impervious to the leech;
didn’t think it would
there it sat
sucking the might
of her confidence
slowly eating away
at her lobes,
without her knowledge.
Nothing prepared her
for the pain
when it dug
its jagged teeth
on the soft tissue
surrounding her decisions
the grey matter of
her insights and
It drank the life out of
everything she believed was
real and important.
Worn out and weary
she wondered why
she could not hold her
heart in her hand,
the usual indicator
that she was in a safe place;
where there were no hidden agendas
or predators lurking
in her subconscious.
Until of course,
alerted the little demon
hiding in her brain
that she finally,
It uncurled and
the little bastard
of her ear
moved on to her shoulder
on to her forearm
passed the tiny tiara
and sun tattoo
on her wrist
only to find its
way on her palm
until she could
close her fist
the little fiend
that tried to eat
a part of who she was
die, douche bag!
from the gaps
of her tight fist
the color return to her cheeks
as she unclenched
her pale yellow
And you? What’s your recent source of inspiration?
grateful slice: my summer writing workshop and my 12 young writers
Two songs on replay on my Igadgets right now. (Thanks for the recommendations, SC).
Nothing like creating several playlists for a long road trip. I can already hear the scoring for this trip’s movie in my mind. LOL.
Now back to marking papers.
grateful slice: music and long road trips (and work breaks)
I stumbled upon Sarah Kay, her poetry and her TED talk about the same time last year and have since shared her work with whomever I can. She leaves the hungry young poets in my Grade 7 class speechless, and me, well, she has me inspired to always write about only what is true, with a small letter t, to me. Here’s her newest TED talk. Nice way to end an awesome weekend.
grateful slice: Sarah Kay and her poetry
I’ve been silent for a reason; a good one, I promise. Soon will come soon enough. You just need to be patient.
grateful slice: poetry and photography
Last year, I asked my Grade 8 students to think about and respond to this question over and over again: Is it worth it?
At first they thought it was a ‘what’ and ‘why’ question, only to consider how it was so much more about when.
I don’t need to fight ALL the time.
Don’t need to exhaust my voice over EVERYTHING.
Because when the gas runs out, the soul dies.
Anyway, here’s a short video from one of Oprah’s Master classes. She talks about her journey to surrendering and the space she needed to have to live a life of letting go.
Because it seems like, this is what I have to do right now.
grateful slice: choosing when well
Today, I am extremely grateful for my new friend, Danielle.
I’ve only known her for three days but it sure feels like I’ve known her for three decades.
I have so many things to say and write about this young, beautiful, South African hipster but I will hold off for now for reasons only known to me.
Let’s just say the stories we have already shared involve a flight, chocolate covered almonds, an airport snafu, a Frenchman who needed our help, a baked doctor, a smashed camera, a kind Italian man who could speak French, an ambulance, her awesome project, the stories we create in our heads, a fantastic meal, an enlightening conversation, Oprah and surrendering.
The past three days have been eventful, that’s for sure, and this week would not have ended as phenomenally if I had not met her.
In the meantime, the one important thing you must know about her is that she is the CEO and creative director of the 11 eleven project; a project committed to making the world a better place. Please take some time to check it out and register.
Thanks for making us meet, G.
We were exactly where we needed to be and it makes complete sense to me why you made it happen.
grateful slice: connections that change our lives forever
I come from a family of writers (no matter what our day jobs are). My dad is a finance guy who can write. My brother is really more of a photographer and writer than a banker. And apples, well, they do not fall far from their trees. Check out the Junior Inquirer article of Sabine, my brother’s firstborn.
She really is the best version of all of us put together.
It’s also never too late or early to pick up photography. Look at me and yes, our young photographer, Sabine.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull
of what you really love.
grateful slice: Sabine, image, text and the Junior Inquirer