Stay Calm, Leave Room for Gratitude

I’ve been noticing lately that “stay calm” is a great lesson of parenting. Things just work better when I stay calm. With parenting there are so many opportunities to practice: Stay calm when your precious child is bleeding and sobbing. Stay calm when your innocent child says something completely inappropriate for a situation. Stay calm when your adorable child makes a mess that you never thought possible. Stay calm when your sweet child whines with a marathon runner’s tenacity. Stay calm when you realize you forgot to stay calm.

I was contemplating this just last night. That turned out to be fortunate timing because this morning, when my 9-year-old son and I were putting away clean dishes and I was facing away from him, I heard a very loud crash with metallic tinkling overtones. Without turning around I said aloud, “I think I just heard the sound of the silverware drawer falling on the floor…now I’m going to turn around and see what that looks like.” In that brief moment I’d taken, I’d already reminded myself to stay calm, which was a good thing because not only did I see the silverware all over the floor, but I saw sharp knives next to my son’s sock-clad feet.

I asked him to notice the knives and walk carefully away. In an alternative not-so-calm universe I would have had dramatic and loud things to say, that would have included keeping him out of the room entirely, while I fixed everything myself, perhaps alternating with demanding he do some particular task in a stressed-out voice.

Instead, I asked him to get a dish towel from the drawer in the dining area so that we could put the clean silverware from the dishwasher on the towel to make room in the dishwasher for the silverware on the floor. While he was out of the room, I picked up the knives. Then we started cleaning up together.

I didn’t point out that it’s not a good idea to pull out the drawer vigorously. I think he already got that message. In fact, I think being calm left space for it to sink in.

Being calm, also left space for gratitude—gratitude the knives hadn’t landed on his feet, gratitude I’d remembered to stay calm, gratitude that he could help in this situation, gratitude for the opportunity to remind him and myself that when we make mistakes we can just simply fix them, gratitude for his good company.

What could have been an unpleasant interlude turned into a sweet time together.


photo by Warburg

Amazing May 31: Commitment

Oh my goodness. I did it. It is May 31, and I posted a blog post every single day in May.

The notion of launching’s blog with a post every day in May began sometime in April with the passing thought: “I like the sound of ‘Amazing May.’” It crossed my mind a couple more times in April, but it wasn’t until the late afternoon of May 1 that I gave it serious thought. I am generally the type that takes a good, hard look before I leap, but occasionally I do leap quickly, and this time I did.

I didn’t make it far into May 2 before I wondered if I’d really be able to do this every day. Every single day. Even the busy ones. Even if there were days when I didn’t feel well. There were days that were busy, and there were days when I didn’t feel well, and I did it anyway.

AmazingMayFisherGoltonLike any commitment, there were things about it that were hard and stressful. But also like any commitment there was learning, surprises, support, and joy. The actual writing of the posts was very fun—I loved the topics and the intention. Finding the time wasn’t always easy. I developed strategies. Finding fitting, available photos could be a challenge, but so satisfying when I found the right one. After all these years of writing, I love that I still continue to learn about writing, and I certainly did so this month.

I am very happy to have this content on and hope people will continue to find it, enjoy it, and join in the discussions.

Commitments can be both scary and exciting because we don’t really know what is going to happen. How amazing that we make commitments anyway. Commitments to projects, animals, adventures, movements, practices, and people. The world is a better and more interesting place because of our commitments.

Thank you to all of us who take those leaps. Thank you to all of you who have shared this Amazing May with me.

Amazing May 30: Our Relationships with Ourselves

The final words and final “thank you” in My Amazing Day are “Thank you, me” because when we thank ourselves we are thanking that one person that was there for every moment of our amazing day. As I tell my son sometimes, “you are the one person you get to be with for the entire time you are here.” If you know him, you know how lucky he is! And you all know yourselves well enough to know how lucky you are, too.

You are the one that gets lumps out of your socks, makes your pillow just right, makes sure you don’t eat anything yucky. You pause so that you can enjoy things. You get yourself people time when needed and alone time when needed. You get the things done that are important to you. You can make yourself laugh. You can even look in a mirror and be the one who really listens.

I think it is so valuable for all of us to acknowledge ourselves and especially for children to do so. By recognizing their own contributions to themselves, children can see that they have the power to help themselves, the ability to enjoy themselves, and the knowledge that they are always in good company.

photo by roseoftimothywoods

photo by roseoftimothywoods

What an amazing relationship. What a serious commitment.

Thank you, selves. Thank you, me.

Amazing May 29: Creativity

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

photo by Karin Fisher-Golton

Creating, in all kinds of ways–writing, drawing, beach sculpture, improv, more–has been a lifelong joy for me. However in recent years when I think of creativity, the first thing that comes to my mind is children writing poetry.

I have been fortunate to have opportunities to teach children poetry in partnership with a wonderful and skilled elementary school teacher, Deborah Weinstein, on a few occasions in the past couple years, including a 12-week afterschool class. We plan to do it again next fall.

Though our expectations were never low, we found ourselves impressed again and again with what the children created—the beauty, the cleverness, the humor, the meaning, and the deft use of poetic techniques.

One lesson worked so well in her second grade class that we did it again in the afterschool program. The topic was ekphrastic poetry, which is poetry inspired by a work of visual art. As Jan Greenberg describes and demonstrates so beautifully in her rich collection, Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth Century American Art, ekphrastic poems can fall into a variety of categories, including stories, description, interpretation, and giving voice to a depicted object or person.

HeartToHeartCoverAfter discussing several ekphrastic poems in a group, the students choose art, in the form of cut pages from art calendars laid out around the room. Then they were let loose to write ekphrastic poems.

The first time we did this we wondered if the assignment would be too abstract. Instead it was as though we’d just released some poetry-writing fish into water. The excitement and enthusiasm levels were high. The poems were brilliant. Some children wrote multiple poems. Sometimes several children wrote about the same piece of art, creating fascinating opportunities to compare.

We’ve come to think that children’s natural, uninhibited creativity when met with the creativity of visual artists, blossoms to the extreme. To me, ekphrastic poems have become the epitome of creativity. One person’s creation inspiring another’s.

So here’s a recipe for a creative bonanza: Choose a painting, sculpture, photograph or other piece of art that attracts you. Let your inner muse loose. Write a poem. OR choose a poem that attracts you, and let it inspire you to paint, draw, photograph, or sculpt.

poetry friday“Pizazz” (below) is an ekphrastic poem that I wrote, inspired by Andy Warhol’s 1983 color screenprint, Grevy’s Zebra, which you can see here. If you’re left wanting more poetry, visit Diane Mayr’s Random Noodling blog. She is hosting Poetry Friday this week.

(inspired by Grevy’s Zebra by Andy Warhol)

My stripes dazzle,
Surprise, a
Confusing maze.
I zoom. I zigzag.
Am I arriving?
Or leaving? Have
I got your eyes
In a daze?

Are you dizzy?
Where’s my start?
My end? Observe
Closely. You’ll
See less of me, the
Wizard of active haze.
I’m Grevy’s Zebra.
Or am I?

Karin Fisher-Golton, ©2013

And one more thing on Amazing May 29…I want to acknowledge and express my gratitude for the the life and work of Maya Angelou. I love the beauty and meaning in her writing, and I love the way she read her own words. Click here, to hear Maya Angelou read her poetic picture book Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.

Thank you, artists of all kinds. Thank you to the artist in all of us.

Amazing May 28: The Night Sky

Today marks the new moon. Tonight will be one of the nights when we can see the stars best. Have a look!

I find it comforting and awesome to know that people in the same hemisphere, no matter what language, tradition, or situation can look up and see the same stars (albeit with a lot more detail in places with less human-generated light). And people everywhere see the moon in the same phase.

Recently I was on the phone with a dear friend 330 miles south of me, she at the beach, me looking out my window. I loved that we were both looking at the moon.

Humans have seen the moon and stars and followed the positions of the planets for thousands of years. There are stories, information, and beauty in the night sky that transcend time and place.

photo by Todd Vance

photo by Todd Vance

Thank you moon, stars, planets, and space.

Amazing May 27: Birds

One of the first times my son alerted me to something other than his own needs and wants, he told me about the presence of a bird. He was about a year old. He couldn’t say the English word, “bird,” but I’d taught him the ASL (American Sign Language) sign for it. At the kitchen table one afternoon, I noticed him signing BIRD. For a moment I thought his sign was arbitrary, but then I listened and, sure enough, I could hear a bird. What a shift in our communication, and how amazing to know that little person was noticing things I had missed.

Today, I was a chaperone on his third-grade class’s field trip. Many of the highlights were connected to birds. We saw graceful water birds, Canada geese flying, and, close to us on a picnic table: a black phoebe with its striking black and white pattern. We heard California quails’ distinctive call, “Chi-caa-go,” and during the times when we got quiet, we enjoyed a variety of birdsong.

Birds delight us with their music, good looks, and the idea of soaring through the air.

brown pelicans, with bonus elephant seals (photo by Karin Fisher-Golton)

brown pelicans, with bonus elephant seals (photo by Karin Fisher-Golton)

Thank you, birds.

Amazing May 26: Bravery

When I think of the men and women we honor today in the United States, on Memorial Day, I think of their bravery.

I want to acknowledge that I am writing as a person with a lifelong tendency for pacifism, and I still sincerely appreciate the people who serve their country.

Those people took a known, grave risk, because something else meant more to them. Some wanted to protect the rights we have in this country; some wanted to safeguard people; some were subject to the draft and accepted that; some had personal reasons we’ll never know. In all those cases, they took a step forward, and said “yes, this is a risk, and I will do this.” And then were required to show their bravery again and again.

photo by Alethe, detail

photo by Alethe, detail

I find all kinds of bravery amazing, from a baby taking its first step, to someone stepping on stage for the first time, to proposing a date or marriage. We hope these things come out for the best, but it wouldn’t take courage if they always did.

Some soldiers did not have the outcome we wish for them all. Today we honor them and their sacrifice. And we honor their bravery, for nobly choosing to take a great risk in hopes of a greater good.

Thank you, brave people. Thank you, soldiers.

Amazing May 25: Pets

Companion animals snuggle their way deeply into our hearts, they entertain us, and they help us in some less obvious ways. Scientists have found health, social, and emotional benefits to having pets. A good summary is here. The Biology major in me is not surprised to learn that humans have a number of benefits in what is a long-established symbiotic relationship.

While we humans get our blood pressure lowered, our moods boosted, our children’s immune systems strengthened, and in some cases the benefits of a rather effective burglar alarm…and while our pets get food, fresh water, shelter, and sometimes excellent medical care…and while we all enjoy each others company, something else amazing happens.

On a neighborhood walk several years ago, it occurred to me that even though my dogs and I were strolling together in the same space, our perceptions were so distinct that we were experiencing truly different, though overlapping, worlds. I was seeing colors and details they could not perceive. They were gathering information via smell that I knew nothing about. They were hearing things I’d never know make sounds.

More recently, we have new pet rats. I’m looking closely for clues so I can tell them apart from various angles. I realized that with their poor vision they probably don’t bother to recognize each other by sight. More likely they use smells I can’t detect.

photo © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2007

photo © Karin Fisher-Golton, 2007

How remarkable that despite such vast differences we come to know and bond with each other, and improve each others’ lives. (There’s a lesson here in our human to human relationships, I think.)

Thank you dogs, cats, rats, parrots, and all pets.

Amazing May 24: Happy Memories

WeddingAlbumFisherGoltonFor the past few days, I’ve been thinking about my husband’s and my wedding and surrounding events, which happened ten years ago this week. This morning I got teary recalling how sweet it was to have multiple generations of friends and family in our home for a brunch the morning after our wedding.

Happy memories are our own personal photo album and free video collection, which we can access any time. Start to remember, and not just the images but the feelings return. When I begin to reminisce, by myself or with others, even more details come back.

Sometimes I purposely try to review some of my favorite moments, to keep those details alive. When I do that, it’s as if I’m stocking a pantry with gifts for myself in the future.

Thank you, happy times. Thank you, memories.

Amazing May 23: Joyous Occasions

Today is the tenth anniversary of my husband’s and my wedding. I truly do believe that every day is amazing; however, there are some days we remember better than others for happy reasons.

photo © Robert Iwamiya, 2004

photo © Robert Iwamiya, 2004

Those memorable days can be days of life events that we wanted and worked for. They can also be days when we were recipients of remarkable fortuitousness. And some, like our wedding day, have both elements of sincere intention and effort alongside elements of blessed chance.

Those memorable days are often shared with loved ones, sometimes one or a few beloved ones, or perhaps a new kindred spirit, or with just the good company of one’s self. And some, like our wedding day, are shared with the mind and heart boggling convergence of people from many times of life.

Those memorable days often set our lives on a new or changed course.

Those memorable days are abundant gifts that we can enjoy and be inspired by again and again via our memories.

I am forpoetry fridaytunate that this anniversary falls on a Poetry Friday, because that made me think to write a poem for the occasion. It is a found poem, meaning the words are all quotes, selected and arranged to create the poem. For more Friday poems visit

From Our Wedding Guest Book: A Found Poem

a great beginning

this giant circle
of love and blessings

the sun the moon
the bride the groom

like a dream come true

amazingly intimate and fun day

thank you for sharing

thank you for including us

I laughed. I cried.
I loved your wedding

wishing you
a beautiful happily ever after

be kind to each other

your vows will serve you well

all of G-d’s blessing upon you

a perfect day all around

a lovely completion and beginning
all rolled into one

© Karin Fisher-Golton, 2014

Thank you, wedding and all who made it so.