Friday, June 12, 2020


It has been a long time since I posted here. Some days I think I'm done with being a writer, and then something reminds me that there are still words inside that need to come out. The trigger this week was a dear friend and an admired writer.

Irene Latham, my dear friend,  is hosting Poetry Friday today. She invited us to help her celebrate Nikki Grimes, my admired writer who has collected so many awards in the last year that it's hard to count them.

So here I am. While this may be my once a year post for 2020, what better reason to find my way back to this old space that still lives.

The first time I met Nikki Grimes was about 15 years ago. I was a fledgling author and a sales rep for a book distributor. I had called on the media specialist at my old elementary school, which was a neighborhood school in the 50s and 60s, a white neighborhood school. The media specialist told me that Nikki was going to be speaking that day and invited me to stay. By the time Nikki was there, it was still a neighborhood school, but primarily a black neighborhood school. The same aroma of homemade yeast rolls permeated the halls.

I hung around after Nikki entertained an entire cafeteria full of kids. She was marvelous, of course. I was one of the few adults not in charge of a line of kids, so I had a few moments to speak with her, to say thanks for her words, to be a little starry-eyed in the presence of someone I admired so much. She seemed tired, and I can only imagine how many schools she had been in that week. She looked at me and said, "I'm getting too old for this!" And mind you, she's only three years older than me.

By that time in my writer life, I had done a few school visits, primarily in classrooms. Never to a whole school. I understood the physical and emotional demand those visits required. I was so grateful to have seen her doing her work with and for those kids.

The second time I met Nikki was at a writers' conference, though I don't remember which one or where it was. It was about eight years later in a much more relaxed setting. We had an opportunity to chat and she asked about a a project I was working on. I'm sure I blathered on about my beloved project in the presence of this woman who has written so many beautiful works. At the end of our conversation she offered to help me if I wanted her input. I was stunned. Shortly afterward, my life took a major turn. I opened a yoga studio and my writing life went on the back burner. So while I never completed that project, it still lives inside my head. And while I never took Nikki up on her offer, it's still one of the kindest and best memories of that writing time in my life.

Perhaps one day the disparate parts of my life will coalesce and I'll finish that book. I'm learning to be where I am in this moment of this day doing what is mine to do. Today that means writing words to celebrate the kindness of a dear friend and an admired writer.

excerpt from "Ordinary Days -- Jerilyn" by Nikki Grimes in What is goodbye?
copyright 2004 - Disney Hyperion

Ordinary days
are golden,
like ancient coins
recovered from
a treasure hunt.
More of them is
what I want
now that I've learned
to spend
or save each one
as if
it matters.

Thank you, Nikki and Irene, for sharing your ordinary and extraordinary days with me. They matter greatly, as do you.

There is more to celebrate with Nikki at Irene's blog, Live Your Poem, where she hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

2019 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

It's April again and while that means different things for all of us, one of the delights we share is the Kidslistophere Progressive Poem. Each year, this crazy poem takes on a life of its own as it meanders from blog to blog. This year Matt Forest started us off with the challenge to use song lyrics. So far no one has ventured off the set course. I have to tell you, though, that I seriously considered it. The thing that makes lyrics so hard in my opinion is that most songs tell a story of something that happened in the past and the focus is often on feeling not doing.

Well, I'm inclined to believe that it's high time our main character in this poem decided to DO SOMETHING! You'd be surprised how hard it is to find lyrics for action. Hence, my temptation to jump ship. However, I tried harder and landed on this one. There is a hint of action with at least a goal in mind.

And Carole King was a favorite back in the day. Enjoy the song down below if you don't know it.

Endless summer; I can see for miles…
Fun, fun, fun – and the whole world smiles.
No time for school- just time to play,
we swim the laughin’ sea each and every day.

You had only to rise, lean from your window,
the curtain opens on a portrait of today.
Kodachrome greens, dazzling blue,
it’s the chance of a lifetime,

make it last forever–ready? Set? Let’s Go!
Come, we’ll take a walk, the sun is shining down
Not a cloud in the sky, got the sun in my eyes
Tomorrow’s here. It’s called today.

Gonna get me a piece o' the sky.

Found Lines:

L1 The Who, ‘I Can See for Miles’ / The Beach Boys, ‘Endless Summer’
L2 The Beach Boys, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ / Dean Martin, ‘When You’re Smiling’
L3 The Jamies, ‘Summertime, Summertime’
L4 The Doors ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’/ Led Zeppelin ‘Good Times, Bad Times’
L5 Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine “You had only to rise, lean from your window,”
L6 Joni Mitchell, “Chelsea Morning”
L7 Paul Simon, “Kodachrome,” “Dazzling Blue”
L8 Dan Fogelberg, “Run for the Roses”
L9 Spice Girls, “Wannabe”/ Will Smith, “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”
L10 The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine”
L11 The Carpenters, “Top of the World”
L12 Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky” from Mary Poppins Returns
L13 Carole King, "Hi-de-ho (That Old Sweet Roll)"

Links for the next few lines:
14 Christie @ Wondering and Wandering
16 Carol @ Beyond LiteracyLink

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Gathering

Spiritual Journey Thursday is happening today. Not that every day isn't a spiritual journey--it is, of course. But the first Thursday of the month a few of us blog about our spiritual journey. Today Ramona hosts the gathering at Pleasures from the Page and she has us reflecting on the word "gather."
A good word for this month that holds Thanksgiving and all that goes with family gatherings.

One of my favorite songs in elementary school was Over the River and Through the Woods. I loved gathering with my cousins at my grandmother's house. We did have to go over a river and through some woods, but there were not horse drawn sleighs and no snow to amount to much. It is south Georgia, for goodness sakes!

Then Thanksgiving gatherings moved to my mother's house. Then to my house. This year we have plans to fly to Texas to my son's house. Gathering with grandchildren that I don't get to see often enough. The thought brings great joy and the same kind of excitement I remember looking forward to that trip over the river and through the woods as a child!

Wherever you are gathering this month, I wish you love, joy and great blessings.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Examen

Photo courtesy Max Pixel

It's hard to believe we're at the middle of 2018. Time flies when you're having fun. Or even if you're not! So here we are in the middle of this year, looking back on what has already been accomplished., looking forward to what remains. It's a time to pause. I've written about this pause in the middle of the year before, linking it to the breath and the pause between inhale and exhale. It's a time to reflect before we turn the corner and move on toward lies ahead.

Perhaps you might center your reflections around your one little word for the year or simply examine what has occurred from January to July.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the Ignatian practice of the examen. Here's a simple guide to the daily examen. It includes gratitude, petition, review, forgiveness, and renewal.

In his book, The Practice of Prayer, Robert Warren takes the pattern and expands it "to help us stop and be aware of life and what is happening to us," in order to make a "freely chosen response" to life.

Let's take the last six months as our period of time under review. Warren breaks this review down into three categories.

How have you been aware of God's presence in the last six months? Does any experience stand out? Maybe something you read or someone said. Note anything that comes to mind and give thanks for what is good in your experience.

How have your experienced change in yourself? How have you changed your attitude toward God, yourself, or others? What are the positive growth changes? Are there any signs of negative or stuck responses?  Thank God for his presence with you in your joys and struggles.

Can you identify any sense of going/stepping out in faith during this time? Give thanks and reaffirm your commitment to continue. Have you sensed God's call to go, but not yet gone? Hold that before God and let him reaffirm your confidence in his ability to help.

Warren closes with this note: "Remember, this is not to be an inquisition in which you criticize yourself for how you have failed, but a trusting review before the One who is for you. The purpose is to listen more fully to the One who is Love."

Add your link for Spiritual Journey Thursday below.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Spiritual Journey Thursday finds me thinking about summer, since this is Margaret's topic for today's post and she's the host here at Reflections on the Teche

The fireflies in my back yard are one a favorite summer sensation and my 18-month old grandson is fascinated by them. 

Summer is a mixed blessing of work and rest this year. I've recently added six new teacher and about 12 new classes to the schedule at my yoga studio. While this is an absolutely wonderful blessing, it comes at the beginning of summer, which happens to be a very slow season for yoga. Everyone else is off enjoying their family and vacationing and I'm hoping my new teachers don't get discouraged before fall rolls around. It's actually a good season for working on developing teaching skills and new classes. 

The change in my teaching schedule, as a result of all these new additions is quite nice. I am actually finding some time to write again. Hooray!

My husband and I have a few trips planned. We'll be in Minnesota toward the end of the month with my younger son and his family. June is the only sensible time to go to Minnesota! Of course, I'm looking forward to playing with grands.

Then in July we'll be at the beach with my older son and his family. Again, joyfully full of grandchildren. 

It's more than enough to fill my summer to the brim. 

More Than Enough
by Marge Piercy
The first lily of June opens its red mouth.
All over the sand road where we walk
multiflora rose climbs trees cascading
white or pink blossoms, simple, intense
the scene drifting like colored mist.

The arrowhead is spreading its creamy
clumps of flower and the blackberries
are blooming in the thickets. Season of
joy for the bee. The green will never
again be so green, so purely and lushly


Read the rest here.

Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Progressive Poem Ends Here!

Welcome to the 2018 Kidslitosphere Progressive Poem, brainchild of Irene Latham.  For seven years, we've been creating poems together. 30 days in April, 30 poets, 30 lines of poetry that take us on an adventure, give us room to dream, and challenge the very essence of creating a poem. Take a look at the past poems here.

I missed the sign up on Irene's blog for the Progressive Poem this year. Life has been busy and my energy must be spent wisely. I didn't mean to miss it. I just forgot to check on that Friday in March. It wasn't until Irene emailed me with the subject line "Progressive Poem" that I realized I'd missed it. It was a simple conversation.

Irene: Dear Doraine, there is one slot left -- the last line! Just checking to see if you want it.
Me: (Silent gasp!) Okay. She says quaking in her rain boots. (It was pouring rain on March 11.) 
Irene: You got this, rain-bird. Thank you! xo

And I quaked in my boots for the rest of March, often reminding myself of Irene's "You got this." I spent the first week reading each of your lines, swallowing the panic that rumbled like distant thunder.  I don't have a great track record for ending things. I once (and only once) wrote a middle grades novel where I spent the last six months of writing trying to figure out how to find the end.

"You got this."

Then through the middle of the month, I found myself grateful that I didn't have to figure out how to get our sweet Jasmine out of Lee's birthday party. If that had been my line, we might still be there partying into the wee hours of April.

Over the last week, I have done a lot of deep breathing, gently nudging my stomach out of my throat back to the space in my body where it belongs.

The interesting thing about this progressive poem is that our one line feels so important, no matter where we fall in the list of days. And it is. Every word matters in a poem. Yet, in reality, we are not alone in this process. The work of this poem lies in trusting each other and listening well.

I recently read a quote from Natalie Diaz who spoke at the 2018 Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan (one of these years I'm going to get there). She said, "We need friends—not just followers—if we’re going to do the slow, often hard, always worthwhile work required to read and write with clarity, creativity, and nuance. "

That's just what this community is/does.

For an excellent recap of this poetic journey, read April's post with her next-to-last line.

Each of us, as we've added a line, have played along with Heidi's suggestion for deepening this progressive journey. We were to write down our thoughts after we read Liz's Line 1, hide it from ourselves, and come back to it when we wrote our line.

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched. 

I wrote:  A seed carries its nature within. It grows with strength. Becomes exactly what it's meant to be.

This is me, trying hard to fly like a rain-bird to the end.

And just so you know...I don't like messing with other people's lines, but Jane and I talked via email about keeping the tense of line two as she created it, but enhancing the poetic quality with a contraction.

Nestled in her cozy bed, a seed stretched.
Oh, what wonderful dreams she'd had!

Blooming in midnight moonlight, dancing with
the pulse of a thousand stars, sweet Jasmine
invented a game.

“Moon?” she called across warm honeyed air.
“I’m sad you’re alone; come join Owl and me.
We’re feasting on stardrops, we’ll share them with you.”

“Come find me,” Moon called, hiding behind a cloud.

Secure in gentle talons’ embrace, Jasmine rose
and set. She split, twining up Owl’s toes, pale
moonbeams sliding in between, Whoosh, Jasmine goes.
Owl flew Jasmine between clouds and moon to Lee’s party!
Moon, that wily bright balloon, was NOT alone.
                            Jas grinned,




                                                                       a new,


a trellis Sky held out to her, made of braided wind and song.
Her green melody line twisted and clung.

Because she was twining poet’s jasmine, she
wiggled a wink back at Moon, and began her poem.
Her whispered words floated on a puff of wind,
filled with light and starsong. “Revelers, lean in –
let’s add to this merriment a game that grows
wordgifts for Lee. He’s a man who knows
selection, collection, and wisely advising
these dreamers, word-weavers, and friends.”

Jas enfolded Moon-Sky-Owl into the cup of her petals,
lifted new greens to the warming rays of spring. Sun
smeared the horizon with colour, as Jasmine stretched.
She felt powerful. She felt fresh. She bloomed and took a breath
and filled the earth with a fragrance all her own. 

Here is the sweet-smelling community of word builders that created our poem.  I'm sure Irene will wrap us up and give the poem a title. In the meantime, bloom, my friends. Bloom like Jasmine.

4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

5 Jan at bookseedstudio

6 Irene at Live Your Poem

7 Linda at TeacherDance

8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem

11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales

12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

13 Linda at A Word Edgewise

15 Donna at Mainely Write

16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle

18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering

19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan

20 Linda at Write Time

23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

26 Renee at No Water River

27 Buffy at Buffy's Blog

28 Kat at Kat's Whiskers

29 April at Teaching Authors

30 Doraine at Dori Reads

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Poetry as a Spiritual Practice of the Heart

Photo by CrizzlDizzl

Today I join my Spiritual Journey family of bloggers as we celebrate National Poetry Month and look at the ways we incorporate poetry as a part of that spiritual practice of the heart.

One of my favorite writers, Leanne Payne, once said that images are the language of the heart. If that's the case, then poetry with its vocabulary of images, speaks directly to the deepest places within us.

I have often used poems as a starting place for communion and meditation. There is a kind of wooing in a poem that draws me deeply into stillness and prayer.

Here is one that has spoken to me recently.

by Derrick Austin

Lord in the pigment, the crushed, colored stones.
Lord in the carved marble chest. I turn away
from art. You are between my eye and what I see.
Forgive my errant gaze. Tonight, I can't sleep
and won't frighten the deer in my peonies.
Like children who rub their grimy hands over everything,
they only want to touch and be touched by grass.
They've never known violence, cars howling out of darkness.
Lord in the camellia, drifting in and out of sight,
like those blushing, perfumed heads will you welcome me?
I, too, am little more than a stranger in your garden.
Stroke my velvety antlers. Open your palms.

from Between Midnight and Dawn: A Literary Guide to Prayer for Lent, Holy Week, and Eastertide, compiled by Sarah Arthur.

See what other bloggers have to say about this idea at Beyond LiteraacyLink. Thanks to Carol Varsalona for hosting today.