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 OurAmazingDays.com’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 OurAmazingDays.com 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.

PIZAZZ
(inspired by Grevy’s Zebra by Andy Warhol)

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

Zing!
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 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.