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Friday Musings: School’s Out

Friday Musings: School’s Out

Every year around this time I begin to feel a certain restlessness stirring in me. I’m ready for school to be over. That made a whole lot of sense when I was a mom of three young kids, and the close of the school year signified the end of homework, packing lunches, and driving everyone around to their various activities. There was even a certain logic to it when my kids were older and more free time meant more time together. I always did love being with them and still do. Maybe the answer is as simple as that. Or, since there are five teachers in my innermost circle, it’s quite possible that their sense of being ready for closure spills over onto me. Perhaps this is a universal thing that’s related to the fact that even if we don’t work in education, we certainly remember being in school, and longer days, warmer weather, and time outside trigger a kind of response in us. And yet, I think there is more. The other night I was looking through a book of poetry by Carl Adamshick (there will definitely be more about him at some point in this blog’s future) when the opening line of a poem called Emily caught my eye: “It is nice to be without answers at the end of summer.” I’ve turned these words over in my head all week and have come to the conclusion that the reason why they resonate with me so much has everything to do with the way I feel about summer, particularly these last two weeks of June. For some of us, summer begins with an invitation to change, improve, or evolve, which in turn leads to the question in late August that asks “How have you done so?”

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Friday Musings: North on My Compass (Reprise)

Friday Musings: North on My Compass (Reprise)

Two weeks ago my youngest son bought his first house, and in between spackling and painting and refinishing floors I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of home, and what it actually means. I’ve always associated it with a sense of comfort, security, certainty, and where I felt most like myself. For me, home is North on my compass, or the thing that grounds me and guides me as I make my way through life. I don’t consider this to be earth-shattering; I think that most of us probably look at home in a similar way. Is it a location or place then for us, like the country we live in? The United States is where I live, as do many of the people who read this blog, and while the events of the last few years have definitely made us feel less comfortable and less secure, they’ve also acutely reminded us of the need for home to provide those elements. Narrowing things down from there, If our country feels like home, then certainly the city or town that we live in provides us with a sense of home as well. I know that mine does, for sure. I live in a small town with a main street just a half block away that has restaurants and shops, and places for coffee (ah the real definition of home), and access to the train that heads into Philadelphia. It’s nice to pop my head into a shop and have the owner recognize me. I’m going to throw one out to the parents who are reading and say that whatever school our children are in, especially if they’re young, most definitely feels like home. My children attended a small Catholic school that was certainly North on my compass for many years, and I still feel that way whenever I’m in the company of the people with whom I spent time there. They remain a great source of comfort and security for me. Can a job feel like home? Of course it can. I feel very much at home behind the bar at Recklesstown. I love our customers, and my co-workers, and I feel with certainly that I’m meant to be there, doing that kind of work. What about the actual house we live in? Absolutely, but circumstances can change the feeling. Our childhood home often feels vastly different after both our parents are gone, and the family home we’ve created as parents is certainly never quite the same without our children living in it.

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Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

Prose in a Glass: Against a Wall

As many of you know, the Japanese author Haruki Murakami is one of my absolute favorites. In 2009, he traveled to Israel to accept the Jerusalem prize for literature, an award given to writers whose work deals with themes of human freedom, society, politics, and government. He was advised not to go because of the violent fighting that was occurring in Gaza at the time. He ignored that advice and gave an acceptance speech in which he said that the following quote would forever be engraved in his mind: “Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.” Although Murakami claimed not to be making a direct political speech that day, he did go on to draw metaphorical comparisons between human beings as eggs, and the systems of government that we create as walls. He believes that his one and only reason for writing is to “keep a light trained on The System in order to prevent it from tangling our souls in its web and demeaning them.” In short, the driving force behind his work is to champion human individuality and personal dignity. There is much talk of walls these days and I certainly have no desire to enter into that fray. I will say that I agree with Murakami in that the political structures we put in place to protect human rights sometimes end up being their greatest threat. The constant vigilance and demand for accountability that can come from the artistic world often seems to be one of the few things that has the power to neutralize that threat, even if only because it raises awareness.

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Prose in a Glass: Unanticipated and Joyful

Prose in a Glass: Unanticipated and Joyful

A few weeks ago I wrote about a poem by Mary Oliver called “Praying” that I immediately fell in love with because of its simplicity, and because it focused on cultivating mindfulness and creating stillness. I wanted to know more, and so I read lots of her poetry and learned as much as I could about her life. I discovered a book that she’d written called Our World, a tribute to her partner of 40 years, Molly Malone Cook, and their life together in Provincetown. The book

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Friday Musings: Release and Engage

Friday Musings: Release and Engage

If you read my post this past Tuesday about The Wise Woman’s Stone, you know that I talked about a certain pair of Frye boots that I bought just recently. I am wearing them as I sit here writing this Friday Musing. I have been trying to practice the idea of non-attachment, especially towards them, and I think I am making some progress. I love them still, and I do feel happy when I’m wearing them, but I know that they are a material object and therefore they cannot be

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