Travel with Me

 

jubilant journey copyIn April, I’ll be leading my fourth tour with students. Myself, three colleagues and two of our spouses will be traveling with 27 students on a tour of England from Canterbury, to London, to Stratford Upon Avon, to Windsor, York and Howarth. So the parents can check in, I thought I’d blog each day about what we see and learn on our journey. Not only will I share some good information, but I’m sure there will be fun anecdotes and lots and lots of pictures.

Creating a sister blog to Mirror Muses seemed like a good option. This one will exclusively deal with my travels (both domestically and internationally in addition to my personal travels and those associated with school); I actually wish I’d thought of this long ago. Traveling is one of my absolute favorite things to do, and I plan on doing a lot more of it. 

I hope you will join me by following jubilantjourney.wordpress.com. 

HAPPY 1 Year ANNIVERSARY: Mirror Muses

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Girl at the Mirror, Norman Rockwell

A year ago, I dove in, head first into the blog writing world. I had no idea what was in store. Just in the last month alone, I’ve reached so many milestones: I hit 100 comments on my blog, 50k words in NaNoWriMo, 100th post, here, in addition to my one year anniversary as a blogger.

I’ve since created a Facebook page for Mirror Muses, I’ve opened Twitter and Tumblr accounts to link my posts to. I’ve averaged an entry every 3-4 days for the entire year. I’ve had 1,027 views, 38 hits on my best day, been viewed by 43 countries; my best month was October and my top viewed post is “Fire! Miss.”

What I’ve learned the most is to be BRAVE!

Putting myself out there was not an easy task. I lecture to my students all of the time about sharing work as a form of publication. And to some degree, I practice what I preach, though in my own little safety zone. I’ve published my work to audiences of fellow writers, colleagues, students– a safety net. I’ve attempted to publish my work to a number of publishing houses and agents, but when I fail, no one knows but me and anyone I care to share the information with.

Putting myself out there on this blog was a leap of faith for me, one I confided in only a few, at first, giving it a test run for a couple of months before boldly going PUBLIC.

One concern I had early on was the kind of blog I wanted to write. It’s taken me a while to find my way. Some of my initial considerations included– a blog about the being a woman in the middle of life (and everything really: marriage, motherhood, career…), the wisdom I’ve acquired along the way, and the uncertainty that still persists. I considered a blog about what I do– teaching is such a passionate part of my life where I could discuss serious topics like pedagogy and content; likewise, I could share the zaniness that exists working with a bunch of teenagers and a crazy, fun English trust. The most obvious approach to my blog was to share my writing, to just slit a vein and put it out there for all to see (and critique!! YIKES!). I think in not wanting to define myself by choosing, I’ve defined myself by morphing it all. It’s become my journey– me looking in the mirror everyday and writing about what I see and think and feel. Along the way, I’ve also considered this a legacy of sorts for my children, for they are at the center of all that I am and do.

Once I put some of my writing out there, I’d poll those I allowed access to it. I cared if they thought it was good, or appropriate, or informative…. I really did care. Until I stopped caring. Because, on my journey, I decided that this blog isn’t really for other people as much as it is for me. While I am mindful of my audience, my vast array of readers, I write honest and true to myself. If I can’t do that, I can’t write it at all. So no more being safe. No more caring if people LIKE it. While I hope they do, I’m not governed by trying to please others. In fact, if I write well enough, I might even piss a few people off or touch a few hearts or make people think about something in a way they hadn’t before.

I became brave when I created a Facebook page for Mirror Muses and linked my blog to it. I became even braver when I branched out to wider audiences to put my work out there.

Walt Whitman writes in his poem “The Noiseless Patient Spider”:

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Like that spider, I’m looking to connect, working endlessly, toiling my web.

 

What I’ve learned about blogging (and ultimately myself) in a year:

I’m glad I went with WordPress as my host, after doing a lot of research and considering other blog spots. I learn a little more about its capabilities every day and my own in utilizing it. I’ve made so many connections with other bloggers whom I’m grateful for. They make me a better thinker, a more informed reader, a more empathetic person. They validate what I do and think and believe.

Just go for it! Put yourself out there. Believe in what you do. Life is too short to dream about what you want, to take baby steps, give into the fears– the fear of failure. No one will take your hand and lead you to your dream. You need to make progress toward attaining your goals each and every day. Some days I make little strides, sometimes great ones that I look back upon from the perspective that I didn’t think I could make: and I did.

Find inspiration in the little things in your day… like an interesting article title…a person you see that does something to catch your attention…a majestic butterfly flittering in your path… be open to all that you see and realize you were meant to see it in that moment for a reason– explore the reason. Or don’t. Simply enjoy the moment.

Be honest. Don’t hold back. Some of my most honest writing are the pieces I’m afraid to put out there because I’ll be judged or they’re controversial ideas that may offend. Yet, in looking back on my last years’ work, these are the pieces I am most proud of, also the ones that garnished the largest audience.

Acknowledge others’ work. Tell them what makes you smile or laugh or inspires you because it feels good. Just a little note to acknowledge their work means a whole lot. When someone takes the time to leave a comment on your blog, take the time to write back. Even if it’s just to say, “Hey, thanks for reading what I’ve written.”

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Goals for 2013

Keep my passion alive

Remain inspired

Take a step or more forward a day

Get freshly pressed

Reach 100 or more followers

Reach 200 blog entries

Garner more responses to my work

Start a community of writers

Get an agent

Have my work published (in Print)

Write every single day (in one form or another)

Pay attention to the muses

A Request for my Readers

Comment please– to keep the conversation going. If you cannot take the time to comment, at least LIKE my posts if you like them, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and RATE my posts. By taking a second to rate them will help me to gauge how I’m doing (what is working and interesting or not) and who my audience is.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for musing with me undaily about all that matters most. ♥

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Everything is KISMET

Have you ever read a book that, unknowingly (perhaps self consciously) in the choosing of it, speaks to something you’re going through at the time you are reading it? The connection is awe inspiring! It’s happened to me several times, actually. And I add such experiences to my book of kismet.

Most recently, well, two years ago this Columbus Day, I was on Cape Cod with my girlfriends. One, who lives there all summer, takes us to the quaint shopping area in Harwichport town center. After lunch, she says, “I have to take you to this adorable book store. You’ll love it!” And I did. Upon entering I felt a hominess, as sense that the owner was probably the only employee who just loved bringing in original and, often, local books. I can loom for hours in a bookstore, perusing, touching, smelling. My hand picked up a thinish book; pictured on the front, a woman walking on the shore– aptly named, A Year By the Sea. Said friend told me it had been written by an author who lives on Cape Cod, and it’s memoir about a period in her life. Enough said. I was sold. I bought it and put it in my ever revolving pile of books to read on my bookshelf. I’ve picked it up, twice since then and thought, maybe I’ll read it now, only to put it down because I listened to another’s beckoning.

This past weekend, my husband and I had made plans with our daughter to spend a day on the boat, something we hadn’t done in weeks. After awakening to overcast, and my daughter who changed her mind about coming on the boat, yet again, I was less than enthusiastic about our voyage, but my husband really wanted to go, so I didn’t want to disappoint him. While he’s fishing, which is usually our ritual, I read. Because there was no sun to bask in, I knew I’d better choose an all encompassing book, one I could lose myself in; otherwise, I’d grow restless and cranky.

There wasn’t a choice at all. I picked up A Year by the Sea, by Joan Anderson. No second guesses. I didn’t know, at that point– kismet had struck again!

I read for hours, engrossed– even eating lunch with one hand while reading. I devoured every word, most tasting as if they’d rolled off my own tongue. Contemplative and delighted at the same time, I measured her words along side my own experiences. I dog-eared the pages of the passages with which I could identify:

“I watch, as if peering through the lens of a movie camera, shifting from one frame to another. Truths, once held as secrets, slip out. Similarities and differences become comfortable companions in this primitive place where violence and peace go hand in hand.”

“You must always retain some part of yourself which is nobody’s business. The minute you let others in on your secrets, you’ve given away some of your strength.”

“No longer desperate to know every outcome, these days I tend to wait and see, a far more satisfying way of being that lacks specificity and instead favors experience over analysis.”

“‘Listen to the muse when it’s talking to you or it just goes on, and you miss its statement — that moment when you could have done something'”

“‘Vital lives are about action… You can’t feel warmth unless you create it, can’t feel delight unless you play, can’t know serendipity unless you risk'”

Thank you, Joan Anderson, for helping me to put into perspective so many of the feelings and thoughts and experiences I’ve just started learning to recognize, and, more so, embrace.

Here is some of the new insight I’ve gained:

Forget what was & live what is- The past is for memories and reflection. The present is for living, in life, what you’ve corrected from the past and for experiencing the NOW.

 

Make a bucket list: cross off what you’ve accomplished & add to it frequently- It’s important to plan for the future, but not only to plan– to act.

 

Do something unpredictable- Get out of your comfort zone & just do it (don’t over think or analyze it): face the fear, give into the indulgence!

 

Learn something about yourself every day-Accept that you will never arrive in the sense that every moment is a process. Honor the process.

 

Notice something you had not before, but what has always been- We are so busy getting up in the bus-Y-ness of life, that the little things go unnoticed. Notice the little things, and the big things will made clearer.

 

Nurture what matters- I’ve spent so much time investing in things with no return, simply because I haven’t nurtured the people who really matter; I’m done taking them for granted because every moment is precious.

And do you know what I loved best about the whole day? It wasn’t even rocking with the current, or the fact that the sun did shine, or the peacefulness of the birds dancing above us, and the fish playing hopscotch below, or appreciating a well-written, captivating book, or being so lost in an experience that I had no concept of time, it was that after my husband had put all of his fishing gear away, himself ready to head back home, instead, he sat next to me and said, “You don’t want to leave, do you? Until you finish your book.”

Both of us are still learning.

Joan Anderson, who has gone on to write more about her journey, keeps a blog (which I now follow) & hosts retreats (attending one is something I’m adding to my bucket list).

Am I qualified to write this blog?

According to the 23 questions for perspective bloggers, I am certifiably qualified to write this page!

Do I enjoy writing? Duh, it’s my life line. I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. My first story was called “Blinky” and it was composed while people watching at a New Haven train station w/ my grandmother awaiting my parents arrival from vacation.
What’s my message? Hmm… don’t know, yet. I write to discover. Even when I start a book, I have a sketchy outline– who my characters are, definitely, and where the story will go, but the rest I allow to blossom as my characters grow. They tell me how the story goes.
Do I enjoy reading? Of course, I do. Any good English teacher shouldn’t answer that any other way. But I don’t read because I SHOULD, I read because I want to. I love getting lost in a good book. I love appreciating different writing styles. I love diving into the lives of the characters. I even enjoy reading theory– expanding my horizons and sometimes just solidifying my own thinking!
Am I creative? I like to think of myself as creative… in fact, creativity fuels my passion for life. I write, I decorate, I make crafty things like doll clothes, wreathes flower arrangements and bird houses. I paint creatively in my home– rag painting, stenciling & such. I have been scrap booking long before Creative Memories was an inception. And I think… dammit, I could have made a fortune if I turned that into a business venture. Oh well!!
Am I honest and transparent? Yes, sometimes painfully for you and me. You’ll see!
Am I a social person? Well, YES!!! I’ll leave it at that. I’m a people person.
The areas where I may have difficulty?
Self discipline is NOT my strong suit, I usually have no trouble beginning…it’s sustaining that I have difficulty with… being consistent. I like to be spontaneous; I’m motivated by inspiration and desire. Procrastination is my friend, but I always get the job done. I am conscientious, after all.
The other drawback? Being thick skinned. I’m not so much, but perhaps this will help me become thicker skinned– to handle the rejections of my novel I’ve been getting as of late. Not fun to be rejected. However, I do believe God doesn’t give us what we cannot handle and there is a purpose for everything. So, if I need to toughen up, so be it. Bring it on. Because I’m not a quitter, either!! If I want something bad enough, I go after it.

And ultimately, you, my audience will be my judge. Have at it 😛

To BEgin a blog or not to BEgin a blog…

...that is the question I’ve been pondering. Inspired to just DO IT, I owe a thanks to a mentor & friend whose blog I visited yesterday and was inspired.
This is a blank page for me. As a lover of blank pages, I stare at them, sometimes, just perusing the possibilities. The ideas are endless, vast, multifaceted. To write a word is to commit to a thought, create an idea, witness the fluidity of one word’s effect on another.
The second commitment (the first being the decision to create this blog) today was it’s title. I talk about titles all the time to my students. First and foremost: it should be enticing/ creative. Second: it should contain both a topic and a comment.
To find the perfect, most precise title that would not be limiting, as I see this blog as a blank page to become filled w/ ideas, evidence, affirmations, questions… growth, I traced the stream of consciousness flowing through my mind. My first thought: Chameleon– the title of my first collection of poetry, which would cohesively express the many hats I wear daily. Too limiting, I thought. Kismit and serendipity were considerations, as they are my favorite words to say, not to mention I believe wholeheartedly in the idea of them. This led me to the word believe. BELIEVE. A word that represents the core of my existence and thought (but too trite). Pandora’s box, I pondered next because it would give me the platform to reveal the unexpected, both the surprising and the shocking. But is that what I want this platform to be? I asked myself. Perhaps, in part, but not the whole of it. Instead, I want this to be a mirror that I look upon– for truth, for discovery because everyday I live and experience, I am changing myself in some way– shaping and altering my future. The muses… there are many who/that inspire me. I am inspired by life… in awe of it, really. So, thank you, in advance for allowing me this platform. And if my musings inspire you to look in the mirror… then, I’m paying it forward just like my mentor & friend.