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Cheerleaders

The subject of today’s Spiritual Journey first Thursday is CONNECTION. It’s Doraine Bennett’s one-little-word for this year.

I’ve been thinking about connection and connections for several days now and the more I do, the more I realize it’s a big concept.

Many of our tools (like the computer I’m typing on) need a connection to a power source to keep working. Plants need to be connected to nourishment in the ground or water. Craft projects of knit and crochet are a series of yarn connections. And then there’s the vast array of human connections.

We talk of meeting, networking, partying, and fellowshipping. Our connections with people can be as underlings (employee, servant, slave, assistant, aide), equals (contact, associate, ally, kin) or superiors (boss, CEO, leader, head honcho).

Human connection is so important, in fact, that it’s needed  from day one. A  healthy bond between infants and caregivers can be the difference between life and death. Numerous articles on the psychology of early childhood underline the importance of human connection (skin-to-skin as well as eye and voice contact) with infants for them to grow and develop normally. Those early connections become the foundation for all other human connections and contribute as well to a person’s concept of God.

Have you noticed how family members dote on their own? Moms and grandmas carry their brag books and post photos on Facebook. Dads and grandpas cheer on their sons and daughters at ball games, swim meets, concerts and recitals. No one compares to Junior or Missy.  And that’s just how it should be.

Each one of us has our family assignment of little and big ones with whom we connect in a myriad of ways to support, teach, guide, and love.

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My team – December 2016   (Photo© 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Cheerleaders

Every wee one who is learning
to kick the ball, hit it off the tee
point her toes and do a plié
summersault, the front crawl
sing in a choir, be elf in a play
play guitar, trumpet, violin
shoot baskets, basket weave
weave in and out in a skillful
soccer dribble to the goal
with the goal to make the team,
every child with dyslexia, autism
Down syndrome, whatever syndrome
who isn’t ever going to make the grade
make the team, team up with the cool kids
(because who are we kidding?)
needs a cheerleader
a yell of encouragement
a bull horn, cow bells, sign held high
banner in the sky
face painted green, blue
or whatever colour the jersey
and an after-game trip to Dairy Queen
because she’s queen of the day
and you’re her mom, dad
grandma, grandpa, uncle, auntie
cousin, biggest fan
on the team of the family.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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sjt-2017-graphicThis post is linked to Spiritual Journey first Thursday, hosted today by Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads.

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Brown Girl Dreaming (review)

51-pl9bj7il-_sx331_bo1204203200_Poetry Camp inspired me to be a more regular visitor to my library (thanks, Janet Wong!). My fascination with verse novels prompted me to pick up Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

I quickly discovered, though, that this isn’t exactly a verse novel. It’s a memoir—the story of young Jacqueline taking us through her childhood and to a time she comes to realize what her dream is and begins to see it blossom in her life.

The whole thing is told in verse—in free verse poems that are simple. I would say deceptively simple for almost all end in a way that put me on my heels and had me thinking: I believe there is more to this than what first meets the eye. In other words, these accessible poems also invite re-reading.

I love the real-life detail that makes the characters, the brothers and sisters, Grandma and Grandpa, mother, aunts and uncles, come alive. While reading this book I experienced the phenomenon of the particularities of Jacqueline’s life becoming a vessel for my own experience—even though the setting and characters are vastly different.

As I read I also enjoyed one of the advantages of verse novels—how quickly the pages slipped by. I read through this 338-page tome in mere hours.

The book touches on lots of topics:
– What it was like to be an African American girl in the U.S. in the 60s and 70s (Woodson was born in 1963). This book was a great empathy builder for me.

– Family—what is a family, how family members relate to each other, the joy of being together. The family theme runs deeply and widely through the book. I loved the mini family album of photos at the end of the book and the fact that the pictures were of family members as children—about the age that the target audience would be.

“Football Dreams,” about her father, is a poem about family:

Football Dreams

No one was faster
than my father on the football field.
No one could keep him
from crossing the line. Then
touching down again.
Coaches were watching the way he moved,
his easy stride, his long arms reaching
up, snatching the ball from its soft pockets
of air.

Read the rest…

Feeling different is another theme. Not only was Woodson’s color a source of difference, but she was brought up Jehovah’s Witness. “Flag” tells about having to leave the classroom when the students made the flag pledge but how inside she wanted to be there and pledge big:

flag

Alina and I want
more than anything to walk back into our classroom
press our hands against our hearts. Say,
“I pledge allegiance . . .” loud…”

The poem ends:

When the pledge is over, we walk single file
back into the classroom, take our separate seats
Alina and I far away from Gina. But Gina
always looks back at us—as if to say,
I’m watching you. As if to say,
I know.

Read entire…

The book tackles more themes including death, tolerance, and finding joy in life, relationships and one’s passion.

On this page of her website Ms. Woodson gives a bit more information about writing the book.

This was a beautiful, upbeat, and  educational read that would be perfect for children in the middle grades–ages 10 and up, Grades 5 and up.

Brown Girl Dreaming won the National Book Award in 2014. (In the second video on the linked page she reads from the book.)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the lovely Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Book Reviews, People, Poetry Friday

 

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Un-Hallmark Mother

Un-Hallmark Mother

While I gifted icon carnations
and Hallmark lines, “Mother” to me
smelled of duty and mothball wisdom.
She my root of conscience, scruple

permission to pursue the chaotic
then, like her, to sort and label.
I lived for her sideways compliments
overheard in conversations with her friends.

Her widow-grief broke down walls:
She was fellow-woman.
Our friendship rooted, blossomed—
she was always so good with flowers.

At the end when she needed help
even to get dressed
my heart pinged for her
like she was one of my kids.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Store-bought cards do express a sweet dimension of motherhood, but the real thing is always much more complex. I would be lying if I said my relationship with my mom was all good. We clashed sometimes during my teen years—and beyond. But we worked through our rough spots and became more than friends. It was a relationship that changed with the times and seasons. Mom died ten years ago this June. Does a daughter ever get over not having her mom around?

The photos are of one of our last outings in May 2006. Hubby and I drove her down to White Rock Beach, took her out for lunch, walked to the bear statue at the end of the path, went to the end of the pier, and posed her under the spring blossoms she loved so much.

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday hosted today by Sylvia Vardell at her blog Poetry for Children.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Mother Speaks (NPM ’16-Day 19)

Mother Speaks

Do not
throw it away,
we’ll use it for patches.
We can always eat bread—and eggs.
Na-yo.*

Are you
reading again?
Still not done the dishes?
You could always weed the garden.
Homework?

Early.
So much to do.
I’ll be in the garden.
Don’t be listening on the line.
Felt pens!

Can you
make some supper?
First you work, then you play.
We’ll have a picnic—I’ll make it
special.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Yesterday’s prompt at NaPoWriMo was to:

“… write a poem that incorporates ‘the sound of home.’ Think back to your childhood, and the figures of speech and particular ways of talking that the people around you used, and which you may not hear anymore.”

I read the prompt in the morning and dismissed it. But then as I was making dinner last night, all these sayings that my mother had started coming back to me.

My mom was an amazing woman. As a mother of many children, she worked hard and expected me, as the eldest, to do my share. Mostly I was a pretty compliant kid, though I did choose inside jobs where I was routinely distracted by whatever was happening in the book I was reading at the time. I chose a counted syllable cinquain form to give the poem some ‘bones.’

*Na-yo is Low German expression that communicates a resigned “well yes.”

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2016 in Cinquain, Form poems, Personal

 

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Storm Chasers (NPM ’16-Day 3)

lightning-945430_1280

Prairie Storm (Image from pixabay.com)

Storm Chasers

The sun shone from Mother’s eyes most days
until the weariness of caring for many children
sowed clouds into the furrows of her forehead
and impatience brought easterlies, even squalls.

“Can we go? Please!” Getting an answer
from Dad was like moving a ship through the doldrums.
We budged him to “We’ll see” and there we sat
in his temperate, patient and becalmed zone.

But children are storm chasers. We often ignored
darkening skies, stiffening windsock, plummeting
barometer to pursue extreme weather
with precipitate behavior,

triggered our usually clement mother, father
with nagging and laziness to lightning bolts and thunder
with insolence and backtalk to funnel clouds in a black sky
until inevitable twister, cloudburst, landslide, tsunami.

After apologies and hugs had repaired storm damage
there were rainbows and blue skies again–
the zephyr notes of Daddy playing his sax
and from the balmy kitchen, the smell fresh-baked bread.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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This third poem post of National Poetry Month was inspired by the subject of Storm Chasers at Wonderopolis, and the NaPoWriMo Day 2 challenge to write a poem about family.

My poet friend Laurel Archer  and I are on this journey together. Yesterday’s moving poem at her blog was about autism in honour of Autism Awareness Month (she mothers two kids with that diagnosis).  She’ll share more poems this month at Four Parts Hope.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in People, Personal

 

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A birthday poem

Two little people in my family have birthdays this month. I set out a couple of weeks ago, after we’d spent some time with these littles this summer (they live far away from us), to write a birthday poem for each. Well, I got one written, and then a long break and finally last week, wrote the second one. I spent some delicious hours yesterday using Comic Life to combining my writing with photos. Today those poems, mounted on stiff paper, are going in the mail. I’m sharing one with you today. I hope you enjoy this poem for my 6-year-old grandson.

David 1

David 2

“David” © 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Linda at Teacher Dance.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in Form poems, Kids, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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I sit in a circle of women …

My mother with her newborn granddaughter, my daughter

My mother with her newborn granddaughter, my daughter

 

BABY SHOWER

I sit in a circle of women,
exclaiming over sleepers, booties and bibs,
careful not to startle
the porcelain doll –
soft unaccustomed weight in my arms.
I glimpse, across the circle, my baby
almost 17 and beautiful
laughing with her friends.

© 2004 by V. Nesdoly

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Happy Birthday to my beautiful daughter! Just before she was born, my husband got a Bible promise for her life from Luke 1:14—the angel’s words to Zechariah about John: “(S)he will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his (her) birth” (NIV).  That has proven true over and over!

I well remember becoming a mom for the first time (she was my firstborn). What an experience—an initiation into a season of life which never ends. Once a mom, always a mom, and I love being a mother and now a grandmother.

I wrote the poem above around the year 2000. It was first published in my 2004 chapbook Calendar.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2013 in People, Personal

 

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