Friday, October 31, 2008

Thoughts on Teaching

Thoughts on teaching
October 31, 2008

Dear Sherrie,
In the incredibly dark and grubby Odessa airport, waiting for the short flight to Kiev, I find a crumpled copy of the English-language Herald Tribune. While most of its words appear well used by previous travellers, there's an interview with 76-year-old American author John Updike. "I've tried to avoid teaching," he says, "which for all its charm takes a lot of your energy and makes you doubt yourself."Charming, for sure, I'm thinking.
There's that terrific feeling you get when you see the lights come on in students' eyes. Watching improvement in others has to be one of the great highs. For those of us who love to spin knowledge, preparation itself opens up exciting new directions. Further, during delivery, the teacher finds out what she thinks by hearing what she has to say.
But teaching takes a special kind of energy. Lots of it. Frankly, I don't know how they find it. Arriving home from the schoolroom, many of my art-teacher friends have to put their feet up and debrief with something like Vodka or the decorating of eggs. Exhausted, many have trouble getting to the studio. Like those undersized tubes of Ukrainian toothpaste, they are used up.
Updike's third point--teaching makes you doubt yourself--is worrisome and worthy of consideration. Within words themselves there resides the potential disarmament of creative action. Art is a doing thing. It favours self-discovery and process while eschewing words and theory. It thrives on silence and contemplation. Some artists report that creativity requires a sort of blind energy and focused ignorance. The seeds of doubt may be sown by knowing too much. If this is the "teacher-mind," and I'm not sure it is, the antidote may be enforced mutism. This may seem harsh in a free country, but with the mouth closed, stuff comes out of the brush--or pen.
Even those who teach by showing and doing expend resources and might just be subconsciously cheapening their passion. John Updike saw teaching from both sides. He understood what he had to do to become a creator. "Four years was enough of Harvard," he said. "I still had a lot to learn, but had been given the liberating notion that now I could teach myself." Best regards,RobertPS: "The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. A kind of refutation of the conservation of matter." (John Updike)

Esoterica: Or you might be one of those teachers who believes that the more you give the more you get. By sharing, guiding and watching, you become party to personal growth. For this exalted state, words and explanations need to be seen as expendable. By giving to others in a playful way we may leave ourselves more intact, and squeeze more out of ourselves. May we never run out of Squibb.

I posted this because I could totally relate. in fifteen years of teaching, I wrote about ten pages of my novel even though it had been in my head the entire time. In fact, any thinking about creating and any creative work itself WAS done in the summer when I had time to let my mind wander.
I don't regret the time I spent teaching though. It taught me how to focus; it taught me a lot about human nature and I definitely learned how to be more organized. One can not survive the teaching profession without a great deal of organization skills.
I also was reminded daily to never give up my passion and optimism. That's probably why I keep subbing. It allows me to have all the benefits of being around young people without all the responsiblity: grading, lesson planning, etc.
I still believe the old adage "Everything happens for a reason." I was meant to teach, but any teaching I do in the future has to be limited because I also was meant to write.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Agape Children's Choir Urges You To Vote

Please log onto this site the children's performance is only a few min. I think you will really like it. :-)
Change My World Music Video - Truveo Video Search

Oprah asks "Waht do you know for sure?"

What Do You Know for Sure?
In her first O, The Oprah Magazine column, Oprah wrote: "We are all the causes of our own effects, …That's why I'll never stop asking the question, 'What do you know for sure?'" Here, notable men and women share the truths that inspire them, guide them, and repeatedly set them free...
19 simple, surprising, brilliant rules to live by
Oprah's all-time top 20 discoveries

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For Women Only

For women who are on the journey of weight loss and healthy living

beam yourself here. & check out Jill Badonsky's Body Blissmas.

Basically, you learn to focus on creativity for fulfillment rather
than food. And she uses the Kaizen method here too, so it's
totally painless!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Please check out Yoko's website:

What a brave woman to continue working for peace when
the love of her life (and my hero, by the way) was killed
so violently.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Achieving Your Goals

from "Awakening Joy"

There are 2 ingredients to Success & Happiness
-confidence thru self-love
-clarity thru inner guidance

GOAL- a dream with clear steps to move toward it's achievements

Sketch or write out your ideal life
Things to consider: health, happiness, prosperity, adventure, relationships, learning & fun

Decide what's first (from above^)
Be clear and concrete
REALITY CHECK- Are you sure this is what you want?
O.K. My ideal life was not specific enough.
I want to get my novel published. I think I want fame and fortune.
Ssssooo, do I really want fame? Well, I don't want the paparazzi hanging around
outside my door so I guess I just want a little fame.
I do want money as I would like to help the poor in El Salvador and other countries (including this one).

Think about your Personal Process
-Do you prefer to work on one thing at a time? OR
-Do you like to have lots of things going at once?
I, personally, have to be careful. I like to work on more than one thing so I don't get bored, but I have a tendency to try to do too many things. I get overwhelmed and tend to quit. So I will try to only work on two very different goals at once. Right now, those are 1) my novel (and MFA) and 2) my health and weight loss.

Run your ideas past someone you trust, for honest feedback.
-listen to what they say
-give it careful consideration
Both my husband and my best friend are much more practical than me so I get good, practical feedback from them.

Break you goal into time lines (daily, weekly, monthly)
-give yourself little rewards for each accomplishment*

-Speak the truth & witness your power


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I always wanted to have a PEACE website. In fact, I designed one at one time, but lost it in cyberspace when I failed to pay for the server. This one is better than mine and alonge the same idea.

Hi, iPeace has a new design. If you would like to have this design on your personal page too, please go to your page. Click on Theme (below your picture). Click on "Apply iPeace's Theme" button. and click SAVE.
Visit iPeace at:


"Money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change." (Gertrude Stein)

I have been thinking a lot recently about GRATITUDE. If we are grateful for what we have, we open up a space to have more of that in our life. Jule' says "What we appreciate, appreciates." This has worked in my life for several years, but recently I have been buying into the thought that we are in bad times. The truth is we are getting ready to learn how to live differently, to learn to appreciate what we have. How much stuff do you have lying around, not being used? Can you give it to someone who will use it? Can you donate it to charity (and get a tax write-off)?

If you have been fighting the feeling of fear, stop right now. Walk through the fear, feel it and know that it is o.k. We will be o.k. We may have to learn to walk to the store or to carpool to work, but these things will enhance our lives. We may vacation at the home of a friend or relative instead of paying exorbitant hotel prices, but this too, will enrich our lives.

So, relax. Take a deep breath. Be grateful for all the beauty and joy in your life. AND KNOW that everything is going to be good, great and wonderful. There is an abundance of love in this world.

Right now, make a list (in your head or in a journal) of all that you are grateful for. My list could go on for days, but for right now, I will stick to the basics:
1) my wonderful husband
2) my beautiful home
3) the opportunity to write this novel and
4) my health

Let me know what you are grateful for. Sharing your joy increases your joy (as long as you aren't bragging to someone who has less than you).

Also send me suggestions on "how to live more simply."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Here is another poem I wrote while on a teleconference with Jill:

Looking for Myself

I looked for myself
under the rocks
in the dirt
while watering the cats
and cleaning the plants

I looked for myself
over the mountain
and in the next town
while writing the rocks
and riding words
and crying stones

Then I stopped looking for myself
And I found . . . ME!