Tag Archives: inspiration

#haikuforhealing

It’s so easy to break a good habit, even after it has been well established. When I started this blog, I wrote daily for months on end.  Of course, I did it because I knew if I stopped (and I was afraid to stop for even one day), I would have a hard time getting back on track.

I guess I was right.

This week, my friend and colleague Kevin posted a prompt on the NWP iAnthology, inviting some short-form writing in the form of Haiku, 3 line poems, for the purpose of healing the spirit.  #haikuforhealing is a hashtag where people are sharing these poems meant to raise spirits.  I noticed Kevin writing them in December, making posters of them with inspirational images as their backdrop.  I enjoyed them…and thought about writing some of my own.

So when the prompt came up on Saturday, I decided to try my hand at it. I started with a photo I had taken and posted on Instagram.  I imported it into Canva and added my words. My first #haikuforhealing was born.

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On Sunday my schedule didn’t allow for a long photo-taking walk. Instead, I snapped a shot of the moon through the trees in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.  I messed with it a bit in prisma, amping up the color. Hmmm…a Haiku about the moon?  I could do that.

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It rained quite a bit on Monday, but it had stopped by the time I left work. Knowing rain was in the forecast later in the week, I decided to take a walk on the beach on the way home.  The clouds were sitting low, hugging the horizon, as the sun tried its best to peek through.  Inspiration for another #haikuforhealing?  Why not?

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Should I go for four days in a row?  One of the things I love about living near the coast is the proximity to the trains. I hear them as I walk on the beach, I hear them as I teach, and they frequently hold me up at intersections as the guards lower, the lights flash, and the train barrels past.Today I was walking toward my car when the rail guards dropped, giving me just enough time to snap a few shots…and think about a Haiku…

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I don’t know if I have re-established a habit of daily writing, but I am four days into daily #haikuforhealing writing.  I’m enjoying it.  I like creating the poster with my photograph and words…and sharing it on Twitter (@kd062) makes me feel accountable (at least to myself).

Join in the healing, let Haiku shift your perspective and help you find inspiration, beauty, meaning…  And if you have other ideas to keep the daily writing fresh and doable, I’d love to hear about them!

 

One Little Word 2017: Possibility

I’ve never been a resolution maker.  The idea of changing my life by making pronouncements on January 1st just never appealed to me…and I know me, sticking to “rules,” even those I make, doesn’t seem likely over the course of a year.  But when I heard about the idea of one little word a few years ago, I was intrigued.  The concept of choosing a word as a muse, as inspiration and aspiration seemed like a perfect idea.

In 2014 I chose the word playand let it guide my year.  And play I did.  I took some time for reflection on my word before choosing a new word here.  In 2015 my word was explore.  Explore helped me take play to a new level.  It had me searching for new experiences and seeking out new places.  I know that I surprised my husband with my willingness to do things he didn’t think I would do–and I know I surprised myself as I faced fears and branched out in new ways.  By fall of 2015 I learned that 2016 would be a year of change for me and my family as we welcomed new family members–babies!  I selected expand for 2016, going beyond the literal meaning of adding family members.  I knew that I would need to expand my horizons and perspectives in addition to embracing my new role as grandma to three baby boys!

Learning the power that one word can have on my life over the course of the year raises the stakes on choosing a new word.  I often wait a few weeks into the new year to make my selection; pondering, trying on, discarding.  I like to see others’ choices and read their thinking as another window into the selection process.  This year has been the same.  I’ve been reading the choices of others, reflecting on my past choices and considering potential words for 2017.  And even though it’s only the second of January, I feel convinced that I’ve found my word.

I’ve been looking for a word to help me push beyond my usual boundaries, to see past barriers–perceived or real–that limit my thinking.  I want this year to be about possibilities.  Possibilities like dandelion seeds, taking root where they land and thriving in unexpected places.

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I want possibility to encourage me to be kind and curious, strong and creative.  To reach out to others and seek new collaborations with possibility as a signpost.

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I want possibility to frame my thinking and take me to new understandings…and new actions.  I want to keep growing, personally and professionally, going beyond the usual and predictable and maybe even comfortable paths I have already traveled.

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I look forward to a year with possibility as my muse, a reminder to branch out, consider alternative solutions, blaze new trails, and push myself and my thinking.  I want possibility to help me build stronger relationships with family and friends and create better learning opportunities for my students.  I look forward to the possibilities that photography offers as I explore my world, familiar and beyond.

Right now, the possibilities seem endless.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Play

When things get busy…like during this time of the year…I forget to do really important things, like play!  But playing is the very thing I need when I am feeling over-the-top with all the demands of work and responsibility and the holidays (I always forget how much cleaning and organizing comes with decorating).

Maybe that’s why we scheduled a field trip in the first week of December (what were we thinking?) to the Children’s Museum.  We planned our trip around the idea that play and experience would inspire writing for our students.  I brought my camera with me…and I both played with my camera and with my students.  I loved the way that play was physical…like climbing these ropes suspended like a web.

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On hands and knees I crawled around dark corners in tight spaces until it opened up into a room with hundreds and hundreds of spoons suspended from the ceiling, creating a visual and aural experience.  The low light meant the photo images were about play too, as reflected light bounced off the gently swaying metal as my camera attempted to freeze time.

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Writing became part of the play as well.  “Taking 5” meant time to be inspired and play with words.  Our students also found interesting places to perch themselves for this writing, playing with the physical act of writing too.  (I played around with Prisma to disguise my student, but still let you see the writing perch he found!)

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And when the walls are filled with quotes and images, my mind wants to play with those too.  I found myself fascinated with the ways the light was coming in the windows, illuminating bits and pieces.  I love that Ask Great Questions is highlighted here…knowing that curiosity is the key to learning.

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I was still playing later in the week when I noticed the heavy fluff of the dew-laden dandelions in the front yard.  I can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking when they saw me kneeling in the wet grass as I headed out for work trying to capture that heaviness.  I decided to pull this iPhone image in close and make it black and white to emphasize the beauty of the simplicity.

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I feel like the moon has been playing chase and tag with me all week.  I’ve been noticing the waxing moon in the late afternoon all week.  After I got my phone repaired this week (I had one of those defective 6s batteries!), I noticed the moon working hard to be a decoration on the local mall Christmas tree and I played with angles using my newly repaired phone to capture the moment.

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And in spite of that heaviness of exhaustion, after school yesterday I made a spur of the moment decision to find the street entrance of a beach I have only previously seen from the sand level.  I was not disappointed–in fact, I felt energized.  The tide was getting high and as I walked over mounds of rocks I looked back at the cliffs and noticed the moon following me in a playful game of follow the leader–with me leading this time!

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So, let’s focus on play this week.  How will you capture play in your photos…or play with your images?  How will you push pass the demands of each day and discover moments for playfulness in your busy routine?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #play for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Get out and play around!  Be sure to share your play with the rest of us!

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Gratitude

Taking time to appreciate all the blessings in my life should be a daily practice…and in many ways it is.  But Thanksgiving is also a time to push that pause button and take time to express gratitude in more visible and public ways.

I am grateful for so many people…and at this time of year, particularly for my NWP colleagues who stimulate my thinking and push me out of my comfort zone.  This year I was lucky enough to wake up in Atlanta, GA and experience the sun rising (3 hours earlier than at home) from the window of my hotel room.  I’m still thinking about so much that was generated by sessions, conversations, and interactions at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting.

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I am grateful that I live in a place where protest is a way to express your point of view, your displeasure, and a way to call others to action.  I love this art piece on display at the Civil and Human Rights Museum in Atlanta made entirely of string, bringing attention to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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And later that same day, I also watched a moving mass of people chanting and marching to express their “love trumps hate” message.

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I’m grateful for friends who are willing to spontaneously board a ferris wheel walking back from dinner, feeding my photography habit with beautiful views of the city punctuated with snippets of conversation that bring us closer together as we rotate high in the sky.

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I’m grateful for the luxury of coffee and wandering my own city…just because we can.  I know that walking brings me peace and creates space for thinking and I’m grateful for my husband who willingly walks miles and miles with me, sometimes in complete silence.

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I’m grateful for access to beautiful beaches to wander and wonder at nature’s masterpieces.  I love catching nuances in light, creating unexpected effects like this photo of three seagulls.

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And the opportunity to get up close and personal with a great white egret as it fishes in the pools at low tide.

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I’m grateful for local businesses and eateries that bring the quaintness and culture to our community.  We’ll probably have to head out again on #shopsmallsaturday–not that anything could keep us away from places like Juanitas Taco Shop in Leucadia!

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I’m grateful for my expanding family–even when I don’t get to spend Thanksgiving with them!  I desperately missed my three baby grandsons on their first Thanksgiving (and their moms and dads too).  But I am grateful for the perfect hike in the Torrey Pines State Reserve…and later dinner with my husband, parents, sister, and nephew (even though we have yet to find a restaurant that serves anything close to the yumminess of my husband’s cooking).  I felt like finding this heart-shaped cactus fruit was a talisman of the love and bounty I experience.  I hope sharing it brings those same feelings to you too.

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Gratitude…my heart is full.  Even when things feel hard, a quick flip though my photos reminds me of so much I have to be grateful for.  Why not take a few minutes and either flip through your photos or head out and take a few that express some of your gratitude during this season of reflection?

You can post your photo alone or along with some words: commentary, a story, a poem…maybe even a song! I love to study the photographs that others’ take and think about how I can use a technique, an angle, or their inspiration to try something new in my own photography. (I love a great mentor text…or mentor photo, in this case!) I share my photography and writing on social media. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter using @kd0602. If you share your photos and writing on social media too, please let me know so I can follow and see what you are doing. To help our Weekly Photo community find each other, use the hashtag #gratitude for this week and include @nwpianthology in your post.

Take a break from holiday shopping (is it that time already?) or from your everyday routines and take some time to express your gratitude through photos.  What are you grateful for?

One Little Word: Expand

It’s that time of year…time to choose a word to guide my year.  I’ve already selected and rejected several, testing them only to find out they were too literal or too confining, not the inspiration or guide I am looking for.

Last year I chose explore…and indeed I did explore.  I looked under rocks, climbed up mountainsides, and discovered landscapes beyond my usual experiences.

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A mushroom fairyland found in Olympic National Park near Seattle, WA

The year before that I chose play for my one little word.  Play reminded me to find the fun around me, to push against my seriousness and to make time for myself.

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On top of Iron Mountain

This year I am anticipating change.  I will take on an important new role in my life.  Very soon I will be grandma to not one, not two, but three baby boys!  And I can already feel my heart expanding as our family grows.  Over the last several years, I’ve been watching my sons walk the path toward fatherhood, becoming loving and attentive husbands and dog dads…and now nurturing, caring dads-to-be.  My amazing daughters-in-law are big in belly and heart, one carrying identical twins, both women already imagining how they will balance motherhood and work, family and friends.  I had such fun spending time with them over the holidays–talking about their dreams and fears, and watching the babies push and bump, making their presence known from the inside out.  I am lucky that even when I am not with my sons and daughters-in-law, I am the recipient of updates and what were at first mysterious sonogram portraits, becoming more familiar and now revealing hints of the features of the babies that will soon enter the world outside their mothers’ bodies. As grandma, I anticipate building new relationships with my sons and daughter-in-laws…and with these little boys who are my grandsons.  (I can’t wait!!!  The time has passed both excruciatingly slowly and in a blink of an eye, it won’t be long now!)

And I want to continue my growth in other areas of my life as well.  I am continually looking for ways to expand my understanding of teaching and learning.  How do I create conditions where learning can happen–both for my students and for myself and other adults in the room?  How do I facilitate learning within our writing project community–for myself and the others who comprise this inspiring group?  How do I ensure there are pathways that welcome new voices and new perspectives, enriching our educational community by increasing the diversity within our community?

I also want to continue to play and explore the world on my own terms. My photography continues to be a tool that encourages me to try new things and expand my visions of what is possible.  We already have some places to explore on our wish list…as nearby as Yosemite and some international destinations as well.

And so, my one little word this year is expand.  I hope to expand my heart and mind, my understanding and empathy.  I am striving for an expansive year of growth, of love, of adventure, of relationships (and not of my waistline!).

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Space to expand…both in front and behind!

 

Architecture as Inspiration

As I walked around Chicago last week I found myself looking up.  The buildings are tall and dramatic and command attention.  They reflect, they shine, they tower, they beckon.  And I noticed them in all their variety.

This billboard caught my eye, especially with the skyscrapers rising behind it, and I stopped to snap a photo.

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And I started thinking about architecture and its implications.  I hadn’t thought about architecture as a conversation–across time or otherwise.  I notice architecture and have written about it before in some different ways including this post, but hadn’t thought about how architects consider existing structures when they design new buildings.  Chicago is such an interesting collection of old and new, with more classical pieces from the past standing shoulder to shoulder with the new and shiny.

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I hadn’t thought about how space…whether the building fills the entire lot or allows space for people to walk in courtyards and open spaces below and between…can either make a city feel crowded and cramped,

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or open and airy.

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Or that reflections of other buildings can feel welcoming, like trying on what it feels like to walk in another’s shoes.

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Or that echoing aspects of a previous and nearby architecture honors and acknowledges that structure as the field also moves forward (and up)!

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Some buildings seem to take us back in time,

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and some take us back into history.

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And as I write this, I am beginning to see those conversations across time.  I am also seeing the ways that architects can ensure that newcomers are good neighbors and find ways to embrace the old while looking forward to the future.

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Can architectural decisions change the ways we interact with each other?  Do those tall buildings whisper in our ears, reminding us to be good neighbors, to learn from our past, to reach out and welcome change?  Inspiration can come in may forms…including the buildings around us.

In the words of Winston Churchill,

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.

I know that architecture and interesting buildings inspire my photography…and now I am thinking about how it also inspires the ways we live, especially in big cities. Now I need to take some time and wander my own city center and explore its architecture more carefully!