Who doesn't want their child to grow up to be kind?
But, lately it seems that the idea of kindness is being trampled upon, values demeaned and angry tones raised to frightening new heights.
and I'm talking about by adults!
It begs the question, What kind of role model do you want to be for the children of our society. I purposely write "of our society" because I am a firm believer in that notion that it takes a village.
Well, that is not quite what I
meant, but I can smooth out
that thought using
one single coma.
It takes a village, people!
Now it is time to humor me.
Let's think of all of the things
that are contagious (in GIF form).
The way I see it,
if all of these things are contagious,
how can kindness NOT be contagious.
You see, kindness leads to smiles and
SMILES are definitely contagious.
And in the spirit of the season...
The Lenten season is upon us and for those of you unfamiliar with Lent, it is found within the Christian calendar and consists of the 40 days prior to Easter. Historically, it is a time when Christians reflect and prepare as Jesus did when he withdrew to the desert for 40 days. It is a time of personal sacrifice, reflection and betterment. While Lent is a Christian season, it need not be exclusive of other faiths, or for that matter, those without a said faith. How can any of us argue with spending a period of time reflecting upon how we might better ourselves and our beliefs? This Lenten season, I invite you to consider your role in showing kindness to those around you, particularly how we might model that attribute to children, whether they are our own children, younger siblings or simply those we encounter every day.
To that end, recently, I received a wonderful gift. If you recall, in my last blog, I wrote of Limericks and Edward Lear. In an exchange of comments, I noted that I would have to locate a copy of his Nonsense Book; long story short, I now have a copy of his Nonsense Book and it is a treasure. In a single act of kindness, my heart was warmed and I am still smiling. And, to this end, I think we all know what smiles are, don't we!
Ok, my poetry peeps, before we get to the all important message, do you remember what a limerick is? Let me remind you in the form of a limerick story!
A Limerick's Story
It has a total of five lines
Having A-A-B-B-A rhymes
The first two long
Two short and strong
The last and first two align
Known to be just a bit lude
Dare I say even a tad rude
But in this post
As a good host
Not a one will ever be crude
Edward Lear wrote prose till his end
Scratched his beard with an old quill pen
Then did commence
With poetic nonsense
Dubbed limericks by his literary friends
Now each and every one must know
There's more to this silly word show
Pull up a chair
No need to beware
If you please, I have more to bestow*
*Even though limericks are meant to be 5 lines in full, bear with my poetic license and say a little prayer for Edward Lear since he may have just rolled over in his grave.
Now for the real news of the day!
I am pleased to announce that Grow with Me Poetry has a release date of April 30, 2020 and you are now able to preorder copies at Amazon.com as well as BarnesandNoble.com. This is an exciting time indeed. From my bookshelf to yours, thank you in advance for allowing me to share my book with you. Stay tune for updates and other goodies. In the meantime, try writing a limerick of your own. You are welcome to share it in the comment section, but remember, this is a G-rated blog!
I'd like to thank each and every one of my soon to be friends! You and your children are the reason I chose to write Grow with Me Poetry. I have concerns. I have worries. I think about what it is like to be a child in today's world. I like to make people chuckle (don't get me started on the belly laughs - they are just icing on the cake). I believe we have something big in common; the knowledge of human nature and how it is filtered through the crevices of our children's minds. By touting and teaching mindfulness and inviting you to entwine it within how you read poetry, I think... nope, I know that you will be able to pass the gift right on to your children, outfitting them with more than a pair of vans (my favorite sneakers, BTW). Your children will then don a lifelong coping skill along with gaining a deeper understanding of what seeds, sprouts and blooms within them as they grow.
By the end of this paragraph you may find yourself wondering why an author of a children's poetry book and proponent of mindfulness is talking about that potentially mortifying moment you see your child's eyes boring a hole through a stranger, their little minds exploding in contemplation as they wonder why that person appears different from them. In just two more sentences you will know the answer! You see, I am often the stranger at the receiving end of those curious eyes and I thought I would start my first blog within Weebly by actually talking about the elephant in the room.
I am hoping we will get a chance to meet in person one day. In that event, you will quickly learn why your children may stare. For yuks, let's do a poll. Check all of the boxes that you think may apply to why your little one's eyes are glued on me.
If you guessed all of the above, you are correct. Like my grandfather before me, I went gray in my 30ies and I found that unless I wanted to set up a Go Fund Me Page to cover the cost of coloring my hair every 2-3 weeks, I would need to be open to transition. The last two years have been full of transition; from brunette to silver and then from two feet to four wheels. I am now a natural a curly silver. I am also a statistic. I am 1 in 10,000 people having a rare connective tissue disorder called Elhler's Danlos Syndrome. It is a largely invisible, but is a multisystemic disorder that causes a plethora of potentially debilitating symptoms. I just say "I have issues with my tissues." See www.ehlers-danlos.com/what-is-eds/ if you have an inquiring mind. Apart from my "add on items" (crutches, scooters, walker), I look so normal that I tend to even confound adults who are oddly still prone to staring. I just attribute it to 1) they are trying to sort out the incongruity or 2) might just be coveting my prime handicapped parking space. Why should children be any different from their taller counterparts? Should I have the honor of meeting you and your staring child in person, know that I don't mind their innocent eyes and welcome any questions they may have. I'll let you in on one of my family secrets: when my children were younger, we had one simple staring rule; if you are going to stare, try to smile and definitely WAVE! I can't think of anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a child's greeting! Who would have guessed that I would benefit from my own rule?
Over the years, the marathon of managing my EDS opened up wounds that only the practice of mindfulness could help me heal. It quieted my mind, soothed my body and left me wishing I had embraced it earlier in life. That was the impetus for searching out a sneaky way to slip it into the routine of a child in such a way that they might not even know they were learning a new skill! It should not be thought of as broccoli when clearly it is candy! I just needed to find a way to make it sweet and appealing. That is where poetry comes in. Being a child at heart, I love rhyming and rhyming most definitely suits a child's literary taste (more candy). Grow with Me Poetry allows you and your child to "bust a rhyme" as you learn to calm your mind! Ba-Dum-Dum-Ching!
Now, you might recall that earlier in this post I wrote that I have been through a period of transition over the last couple of years. I left little bread crumbs (in the form of GIFs) leading you to what the last and very most important transition in my life pertained to. If you have already read the About the Author section in the website, you may already know. It was my transition from being an audiologist to becoming an author. If anyone had asked Hey, have you ever thought about a second career as an author? I would have responded in turn, as nearly all my patients did over the course of my wonderful and fulfilling 30 year audiology career; by saying WHAT?? Then, I would have giggled and said nope. Yet, here I sit, blogging, having written a children's book of poetry, securely wrapped within the tenants of mindfulness.
So there you have it, me in a nutshell...
... I am my words. I say what I mean, mean what I say, speak in the tone of how I would if we were simply kibitzing over a cup of coffee, and finally through the words of a budding author. There is so much more to share, but it is better left for the next blog. Let's meet back here once and a while and talk. It'll be fun, come and see! Also, if you liked what you read, like the post, share it with everyone you know and sign up for more! Your privacy will be coveted.
Let's take a quick 'tis the season poll: Who gets stressed out around the holidays? You? And You? And you and you and you?? Don't you wish you could pop an anti stress pill in much the same way anyone over 55 years of age pops Tums? Since such a pill does not exist, let's try this instead: Take a nice deep, slow breath in and then let it seep back out. Do this until you feel yourself starting to settle a bit. Now, picture yourself crossing all the "must do by Christmas items" off of your list. I find this oddly satisfying even though I am just pretending. The little exercise gives me hope I will indeed get it all done. Next, picture all of your gifts wrapped and placed under the tree. Finally, try to stifle the thought of heaving the Yule log at that one person who is on your last nerve. If you are a New York minute away from such an act, it would be a perfect time to take a moment to channel the true meaning of the season and ponder the age old biblical question, WWJD. Again, for those of us over 55, WWJD is code for "What would Jesus do?". I am sure Jesus would thank you for giving yourself a time-out so that you may think of the many reasons it is better to place the Yulelog where it belongs; in the fireplace.
'Tis the season for a warm heart.Once you are toasty and warm, with the fireplace crackling nearby and a cup of Joe (or tea) in hand, enjoy the results of a fun little creative writing challenge I posed to my Facebook readers. I asked that they write a Holiday Haiku. Haikus are particularly fun because, as you recall, they are short 3 line poems having 5 syllables in the first sentence, 7 in the second and back to 5 syllables in the last. Rhymes are optional. I had such a great response to the challenge that I decided to devote a blog post to it. Feel free to add your own Holiday Haiku in the comment section below.
I present to you The Facebook Holiday Haiku Challenge:
There you have it! Give a big hand to my Facebook readers! They did a wonderful job Holiday Haikuing us right into the holiday season. I hope you enjoyed them and are inspired to take a stab at one yourself.
There is one more important thing about writing Haikus; by nature, they guide you down a mindful path, especially if you read them out loud. Finger counting syllables and focusing on the inherent rhythm of a poem all calmly guide us into an awareness of the task at hand (pun intended). However, if in doing so you still find yourself distracted by your thoughts, simply turn your attention to your breath. In the spirit of a Haiku poem, take 5 slow calming breaths letting each breath slowly seep back out. Still thinking of your Christmas list? That's ok, let the thoughts float in and out along with your breath this time taking 7 calming breaths. Is focusing still elusive?? Add a 5 final slow breaths, in then out. That is what I call Haiku breathing. By the time you finish, you will feel less frenzied and better able to concentrate. Remember, Haiku breathing can be done anytime and anywhere; standing in long lines, dealing with naughty elves, upon stepping on the scale one day after your holiday feast (just don't) or, should you still find yourself wanting to throw the Yule log at someone or something other than the Yuletide fire. Go ahead and give it a whirl (Haiku breathing, not the Yule log) then go write a Haiku. Even better, try this: At your holiday meal, have one person start by thinking of a 5 line sentence that pertains to the holiday season. Then, have the person to their right add the next 7 syllable sentence. Again, the next person to the right finishes up with the last 5 syllable sentence. Don't discount children! You would be amazed at their creativity. They may just need a bit of assistance. Continue until everyone has had a go. It's great fun and a super conversation starter. Hey, it beats talking about politics with a Yule log!
A Merry Christmas Very Happy Holidays And a great New Year!
Let's see how many parents can relate to the next parent to child exchange:
Parent: Hi Child, how was your day? (Thinking, PLEASE let him/her say something other than the "F" word).
Child: It was "F"ine!" (All the while thinking: I sat by myself at lunch, my teacher didn't call on me today which means she hates me, my best friend ditched me, I like a boy/girl who doesn't know I'm alive, I turned down weed three times today, I have this pit in my stomach that feels like something bad is going to happen any second, and I can't delete a rumor someone started about me on Facebook).
BTW, If any of you were thinking of a different "F" word, reign it in, this is a rated G blog (not that I am below using that other one in utter frustration, or extreme pain (e.g. stubbed toe), but I vow to abstain from such vulgarity when I write. Onward...
There is a growing disconnect between adults and children. Why am I specifying adult to child? Simply because as always, it takes a village. Adult to child could be parent to child, grandparent to child, older sibling to younger sibling or teacher to child. In essence, anyone holding adult wisdom paired with the innocence of youth.
I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that there are some pretty specific things that have led us down this path. I gleaned a bit of insight one night as my kids were arguing over who's turn it was to set the table before dinner. Unexpectedly, my son said you know Mom, none of my friends have "family dinners". My daughter seconded the notion, decided that she was in favor of our "tradition" and then promptly told me that maybe I should set the table.
First and foremost, when did sitting down with your family for dinner become a tradition? ! Time for a vocabulary lesson.
noun giv·en | \ ˈgi-vən \
Definition of given (Entry 2 of 3): something taken for granted: a basic condition or assumption.
noun tra·di·tion | \ trə-ˈdi-shən \
Definition of tradition
1a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)
// 1. "So in actuality, we as a society seem to have kept the tradition of eating (thank goodness for taking a stand on sustenance), but eating together as a family is no longer a given."
2. "By nature of crazed schedules and after school activities out the ying-yang we have given up 30-60 minutes of solid quality family time (depending on how fast you eat).
Bridgette Fowler, Growwithmepoetry.blog, 7 August 2019
And one more important definition...
noun \ ˈyiŋ-ˌyaŋ \
up the ying-yang or, less commonly out the ying-yang US slang: in very large amounts: in excess
//"I have used the Mirriam-Webster's dictionary out the ying-yang while writing this blog." -Bridgette Fowler, Growwithmepoetry.blog, 7 August 2019
It appears that if we are to have a snowman's hope of breathing fire without melting (not likely), I think we need to address the amount of time we actually talk and listen to our children. Conversation should be a given in families. Remember the adage, if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem? Now, if I was a reader, I would ask just what is your solution and BTW, what makes you so qualified to throw your 2 cents in? I will distract you with an answer and hope that it sounds so viable that you forget about the what makes you qualified part.
I happened upon a solution quite by accident when my children were just little tykes. They were the little that you love to remember; sticky hands ready to hold yours, eyes looking up at you as they wrap their arms around you in pure love, giggles filling the house just because someone happened to say the word "fart". Those memories are then shattered by the what most parents recall to be the H-E-double hockey sticks that would be bedtime. Tired whines, pleads to stay up later and thoughts of how your child grew horns in one-hour flat.
I have mentioned in previous blogs that I began writing poems for my children in hopes that they would become part of a new bedtime routine, one in which they put themselves to bed (HAPPY DAY!!!) We called them Nite-Notes it was an even HAPPIER DAY when they inadvertently led to Day-Dialogue (don'tcha just love alliteration!). Grow with Me Poetry (the book I have authored and is slated for a late Fall of 2019 release) is your ticket to Creative-Conversation (I told you I loved alliteration). It is a collection of poems that address the goings on of childhood. After each poem, I have included conversation starters; questions about the content of the poem that which prompt discussion. A journaling page is included after each poem. We all need a place to start, especially if we are trying to get past the "F" word. Just may if we start this little practice when our children are young, and while reading to your children is still a given, we can teach our children something very special. The lesson is it is a given that we are always available for child to adult conversation and furthermore, that how we converse with our children becomes a treasured tradition.
In light of the recent tragedies in America, our youth need adults more than ever. We owe it to them to strive to surpass the "F" word.
Two words: track changes. Let's poll the audience. Humor me, show me you are reading. Just like those Facebook requests, you know, the ones that ask you to prove your worth by cutting and pasting an ala-carte request. I don't know about you, but I find myself worth nothing since I haven't yet mastered the task of being able to cut and paste Facebook posts; the very foundation, the epicenter of my ability to prove I care. So, undercut by my social networking ineptness, I am misunderstood. What I am asking of you is a simple button push, no cutting, no pasting, no judgement, a simple anonymous Mr., Ms. or Mrs. Pointer tap. The feeling of accomplishment once completed will remain with you for weeks. Now, time to get to it!
So why the survey? Because Track Changes has been my life since Brandylane/Belle Isle Publishers agreed to publish Grow with Me Poetry. And do you want to know a secret? I had never even heard of track changes before that. I'm sure my mid to late twenty something editor didn't notice. Oh wait, that was probably why she sent me a link to "how to use track changes." It's ok, I was not even insulted. I know my limitations and swear by them, but now, I can honestly say I can manage them, at least in a fashion that I imagine my poor editor's eyes have ceased rolling upon opening a returned manuscript.
I have to admit; I was a bit intimidated by the thought of the editing process. Firstly, I didn't even know what editing in the year 2019 meant. To date, I had only published two articles; one that discussed noise induced hearing loss and ganglion cell regeneration in quail (who knew people even wrote about such things, hmm?) and the other which discussed newborn hearing screenings in early 1990. Both were research articles published between 1987 and 1995 and the editing began and ended with a red marker! Secondly, some pesky post concussive vision issues really hamper my ability to read and I found myself intimidated at the impending task given the high probability of error.
I received a warm welcome in the form of an email from a Catherine "Haley" Simpkiss, along with the first of what would be many edits. I think our relationship grew in the way people my age would understand a pen-pal relationship grows. We learned about each other's style and personality by the content and tone of our comments as we wrote back and forth within track changes. Now, I must digress. For those of you having no knowledge of track changes, it is Microsoft Word's way of keeping track of changes that are made within a document. You can use simple speech bubbles to open up a dialogue regarding changes, ideas and questions. The document is sent back and forth between people who either accept or reject those changes and progress through the document until its completion. It is the computer version of a jillion drafts marked in red ink and communication minus a conversation involving live voice.
As you know by now, I like to let my, pictures speak for me, and as you can clearly see, while there was a learning curve involved in my experience with track changes, with every edit I did get better. However, nothing can replace an old fashion, face to face meet and greet. I met with Haley one time during our editing process and that was to share Thai food and chit-chat. I found her to be a most lovely and talented young women wise beyond her years. We talked more about this and that than the book and the process of writing, but that is what we needed, just a little way to get to know each other in a world where almost everything is computer oriented and you really can interact and complete jobs without ever seeing the wizard behind the great red curtain. But honestly, where is the fun in that?
Grow with Me Poetry is all about re-introducing interaction between generations, and in my case two generations talked comfortably nonstop through a 2-hour delicious lunch, getting to know each other and the how our worlds had intersected. What followed was an even stronger pen-pal track change relationship, one where we were comfortable "accepting and rejecting" ideas and molding Grow with Me Poetry into a final edited copy that is now ready for the "design phase", where a book becomes a book!
In the grand checklist of accomplishments working towards the final copy in hand, three major items have been crossed of the list:
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