Friday, February 16, 2024

My Word for the Year—Hope by Mary Ann Rodman

 My word for this year is right next to my front door. Hope. 

I am a pessimist by nature. I think I inherited this “attribute” from my mom who had two favorite sayings. 1.  Don’t get your hopes up. 2. Don’t expect the best and you’ll never be disappointed. (So that’s how The Greatest Generation got through the Depression, WWII and raising us Boomers. Chronic skepticism.)

So when my college roommate sent me this during the Pandemic, I had to chuckle. The world was going to hell in a hand basket, and she literally sent me Hope, courtesy of UPS. I hung it where I would see it multiple times a day. Who knew? Maybe it would inspire hope. Right, I thought. As if!

This has been a particularly grim winter for me. Battleship grey skies…not even clouds, just solid grey overhead. Every time I turned on my computer I learned another cousin, friend, former student or had died. I was writing myself into literary cul-de-sacs. And let’s not talk about the general state of the world. In fact, the only hopeful thing in life was that little word, hanging by the front door.

But you know what? The sun started making cameo appearances throughout the day. People didn’t stop dying but now there was good news as well. Friends who had searched decades for an agent, acquired one. First time authors of a certain age (which is now how I refer to myself) were being published. My long dormant brain became aware of story ideas.

In other words, I felt hopeful. I also had faith, that elusive concept that makes hope possible. As the Bible says  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” --Hebrew 11:1

I will write my way out of those cul-de-sacs. Those ideas will blossom into stories.

I can feel that fluttering of hope that Emily Dickinson wrote of.  If there comes a time when hope seems to be taking another sabbatical, I can always recall my favorite Woody Allen quote: 

 “How wrong Emily Dickinson was! Hope is not the thing with feathers. The thing with feathers has turned out to be my nephew. I must take him to a specialist in Zurich.”

Hope also has a sense of humor.

When all else fails, there are the wise words of Cormac McCarthy—“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.” 

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

Friday, February 2, 2024

My Word for 2024


Great minds think alike. Or rather similar Spirits recognize 

a similar need.

My word for 2024 – LIGHT, both the Noun and the Verb, and 

Carmela’s LIGHTER, both the Adjective and the Adverb, share 

the same root:         

            The word “light” comes from Old English leht 

            (Anglian), Leoht (West Saxon), meaning 

            “brightness, radiant energy, that which makes 

             things visible.”

I admit (painfully):

My expertise at finding silver linings?

My ability to focus on the positive?

To date, neither has totally reduced the sometimes-crushing 

weight of our oft-dark World that surprisingly leaves me – 

a Cubs Fan! – wobbly, unable to navigate.

Fortunately, the two inspirational quotes I keep in view on my 

real-life desk top broadcast a qualifying NEVERTHELESS.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s words help me steady my footing, 

look up and find my way.

He’d been asked if given the choice, what era would he live in?  

He acknowledged his land’s troubles and confusion, messes 

and sicknesses.

     “But I know, somehow,” he said, “that only when it’s dark 

       enough can you see the stars.”

(Curly Girl Designs)     

The Dark, I’ve learned, can indeed be a Good Thing.

So, thirty-three days into this New Year, I continue to focus all of 

me on the Anyones and Anythings who and that gift me with joy, 

wonder, cause for celebration and/or prompt me to count my 

blessings on a quarter-hour basis.

All those lights, all those nouns, especially the Proper ones, keep 

me keepin’ on.

Ah, the Possibilities!


But even more important, I learned all those lights empower me so 

can do the same for others.

They recharge my batteries so I can burn bright, so I can light the 

way enabling others to keep keepin’ on.

                                                       (Mary Lou Falstreau)

L.R. Knost’s words remind me. “The broken world waits in 

darkness for the light that is you.” 

Ah, the opportunities!

 Thanks to Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for hosting 

today’s Poetry Friday. 

 In signing off, I can’t help but recall the motto of my family’s 

electrician Moish Dove who happened to be my father’s lodge 

brother.  “Let there be light!”

Esther Hershenhorn


My go-to sources for inspirational cards that help to keep me, 

and thus everyone I know and love, keepin’ on?

Curly Girl Designs and Marylou Falstreau’s Cards and Prints!

Friday, January 19, 2024

My Word of the Year for 2024

Happy Poetry Friday! I share a poem by James Stephens at the end of this post along with a link to this week's roundup. 

Today, I kick off our first TeachingAuthors' topic for 2024: our one word (or short phrase) theme for the year. Three weeks into January, I'm still getting used to my word: LIGHTER

I've been feeling a bit burdened lately and wanted a word that would help me feel lighter physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I hope that, in turn, I'll bring more light to those I encounter. 

To help remember my word, I write it at the top of my to-do list every morning. Since I'm a visual learner, I like to also draw an image that helps me keep my word in mind throughout the day. Unfortunately, my drawing skills are quite limited, so the image needs to be something simple. I ended up choosing a kite.

Image of a vertically striped kite flying against a blue sky with puffy white clouds
Photo by Charlotte Harrison on Unsplash

It's amazing how one little word can shift your perspective. Thanks to my newfound focus on LIGHTER, I recently noticed that it's no longer dark at 5:00 pm. Given the frigid temperatures and the piles of snow all around, if not for my word, I don't think I would have realized that the days here in the Northern Hemisphere are already lengthening. 

One way I'm lightening my mood and outlook is by reading humorous poetry, such as Animals in Pants written by Suzy Levinson and illustrated by Kristin & Kevin Howdeshell (Abrams) and My Head Has a Bellyache and More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups written by Chris Harris and illustrated by Andrea Tsurmi (Little Brown).

And this month I'm especially excited about a new Think Poetry class I'll be taking with the amazing team of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell--I'll be learning ways to add humor to my own poetry! My heart is flying at the mere thought. 🪁

I'm also reading poetry that isn't necessarily humorous, but still uplifting. For the last few months, I've been savoring the poems in the beautiful anthology Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year selected by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (Candlewick).

When I read the poem for yesterday, January 18, "White Fields," the imagery really hit home—here in northern Illinois the fields are indeed covered in snow. And since the poem is in the public domain, I decided to share it today:

          White Fields
          by James Stephens

     In the winter time we go
     Walking in the fields of snow;

     Where there is no grass at all;
     Where the top of every wall,

     Every fence, and every tree,
     Is as white as white can be.

     Pointing out the way we came—
     Every one of them the same—

     All across the fields there be
     Prints in silver filigree;

     And our mothers always know,
     By the footprints in the snow,

     Where it is the children go. 

There's one more thing helping me feel LIGHTER these days: Two of my math-based poems appear in the STEM edition of Tyger Tyger Magazine. I feel especially honored because the editor created a terrific Teaching Resource to go with my poems. You can see all the poems and Teaching Resources in the issue by following the links on the Tyger Tyger website here. I'd love to know what you think of my poems!

Poetry Friday logo by Linda Mitchell
I hope this post has left you feeling a bit LIGHTER. Don't forget to check out this week's Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Robin Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

Carmela 🪁

Friday, January 5, 2024

Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Brave, Big-Hearted, and Curious on Jan 17th

Howdy, Campers! Happy New Year and Happy Poetry Friday! (The link to this week's PF is below.)

This is a quickie to tell you that once again I'm teaching a one day, three-hour virtual class called Intro to Writing Children's Poetry for the Brave, Big-Hearted, and Curious! (my title, not necessarily UCLA's). 

We'll be inspired by wonderful poems, play with some of the basic poetic tools, and have time for writing and sharing...all in just three hours! 

Class is on Wednesday, January 17th from noon-3pm PST. 

Enrollment, which opened January 3rd, is limited. 
There is always a waiting list
Here's a rough draft of today's poem...can anyone relate?

by April Halprin Wayland

I double, double dare you

to coax them out.

Set aside their cell phones?

I highly doubt.


I don’t think you’ll inspire them

or set their hair on fire when

you face them all

and class begins...


But wait a sec—they're *galvanized*—

their eyes are bright—they’re energized!

There’s silence (save the sound of pens)

How did you do that? Very Zen.


I guess I’m wrong again.

2024 April Halprin Wayland, all rights reserved

image by stockking on freepik
Thank you, Marcie, for hosting Poetry Friday at Marcie Flinchum Atkins

posted with hope and a big smile by April Halprin Wayland, with help from Kitty and our tiniest pond turtle, Ted Lasso.