Shall I compare thee to Shakespeare?

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The Assignment: Take a popular poem by a poet you enjoy, and re-write the poem in your own words. It can be roughly the same length, but don’t use the original poet’s words; instead, follow along with the original poet, and invent your own new word usages to the same end.

courtesy http://www.alljuliuscaesar.
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Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?    
by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You are just like a perfect day in June
by Bethany Seto

You are just like a perfect day in June;
Though even more beautiful and more calm.
The summer bliss is over all too soon,
And storms rage o’er the California palms

Mid-summer says the sun will be too hot,
And yet at times, it’s fair light is muted;
Everything that is lovely becomes naught,
When time or events undo what is rooted.

But summer in your face will always shine
And you won’t lose the beauty you enjoy;
Your youthful soul will not grow old and die,
Though Time has passed and moments you employ.

As long as people live and breathe and read,
This poem will keep you in their memory.

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Creative Forms of Writing

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This is the second assignment of my Creative Writing Class

Creative writing can take various forms: from fact to fiction, from poetry to documentary, from brief to epic, from simple to complex.  When it comes to creative writing the sky seems to be the limit.  Even something as potentially dull and straightforward as a user manual or a cook book can be written creatively.  However, the forms of creative writing that probably come to mind for most people right off the bat are poetry, fiction and plays (or screenplays).

Poetry, to me, is the epitome of creativity: to describe an idea with such beauty and thoughtfulness that you reach the reader in their heart, not just in their mind.  It is the heart poured out on paper, and can be extremely personal and yet speak to an idea or an audience so much larger than oneself.

Fiction is an escape from the daily grind.  It comes in many forms, but the underlying idea is that it is a story created in the author’s imagination, and not real.  What I love about fiction is that it stretches my imagination and broadens my perspective without the pain of going through all the experiences described in the story.  It is also the form of creative writing I most fear to try for myself because I don’t think I’ve got what it takes to write an interesting plot.

Plays are another form of fiction acted out on a stage or on a film set for an audience.  They tell a story, using sight and sound to transport the audience into a different world. With a play, the experience is a shared one, different from the usually solitary and individual experience of reading a novel.  Even if a movie is viewed by oneself, the visual and auditory stimuli are the same for all viewers.

To be honest, I’d never thought about work like newspaper articles, history textbooks and documentaries as creative writing.  But of course all of these tell stories too, they just tend to be true stories – as true as a story can get when told from the perspective of the writer.  As they say, history is written by the victor; the loser might consider the victor’s version of the story to be fiction.

The form of creative writing I am most comfortable with is the personal essay.  I enjoy writing for my blog because I’m not constrained by much.  I can write what I want without having to do much research or fact-checking, because I’m writing about my own experience and ideas. I can reach my audience in creative ways, but it doesn’t feel as daunting as coming up with an interesting story line or a deep poetic idea.

On the Kindle:Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream

Our most recent Book Club choice was written by the close friend of one of our club members.  She’s even mentioned in the Thank You page. The story is one of a depressed artist who is making plans for her own death, wanting her suicide to be as clean and tidy as possible for those who will have to deal with the aftermath.  While this might sound like a morbid theme for a novel, it is written with great humour and sensitivity. Clementine’s character development is fascinating, as is the exploration of her relationships.  Clementine is irreverent and considerate, creative and yet barely capable of taking care of herself, impulsive and methodical, solitary and loved by more people than she realizes.

I highly recommend this book, and I look forward to reading more from Ashley Ream.

Creativity in Writing

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My wonderful Sweetie enrolled me in an online Creative Writing course as a Christmas present.  He wanted to encourage my blogging, and this was such a great way to do it!  Since it seems a shame to write and NOT post it on my blog, I’ll be posting my assignments here as well as submitting them to my instructor.  Here is the first one:

courtesy cartoonstock.com

What’s so important about creativity?  Who really needs it?  Is it possible to live a healthy, happy life without it?  These are all vital questions because creativity itself is vital.  Creativity is what brings life to the world.  If nothing is ever created, no new ideas or materials can become a reality and eventually everything will just grow old and die. The way our world functions is a prime example of divine creativity.  Each day, flowers bloom and fade, people are born and others die, species evolve and become extinct.  The cycle of life is the constant creation of new ideas and new materials, and the depth and breadth of the variety of species on earth point to ultimate creativity.

Creativity is vital in every industry, to every person, and in every situation.  Some people might say that it is humans’ intelligence that separates us from the other animals of our world, but I believe it’s our creativity.  Creativity is how we generate culture, traditions, new ideas and new products.  When a company is floundering, it often just needs some ‘new blood’ to get it going again – a new creative force to come up with some new ideas.  When a topic of study is being taught creatively, students absorb and retain the information much more readily.  When a movie is being made, its success or failure as a commercial endeavor depends wholly on the creativity of the writers, actors and directors involved in the project.  Creativity is what makes things interesting.  Creativity is what gives our lives flair and keeps us actively involved.  Our brains are wired to respond well to creativity.

It is for this very reason that creativity is important in writing.  If I want to tell you about my day, and I simply log the facts, you’re not likely to pay attention for very long.  But if I add some color to my ideas, and provide details in a creative way, you’ll be much more engaged and willing to connect with my tale.  One of my biggest complaints in college was text books that lacked creativity.  What is wrong with writing history in a way that engages the imagination and fosters human interest?  I couldn’t stand to take a history course in college, but I very much enjoy reading historical novels and watching movies based on real historic events.  Why?  Because the writers have used their creativity to make the story worth paying attention to.

This creative writing class is so named because its purpose is to help us tap into the creativity we already possess, simply by being members of the human species.  Not everyone will express their creativity through writing.  Some design art, some create music, and others may make video games.  Even accountants and mortgage brokers have an opportunity to improve their craft by using their creativity.  One of my chosen creative outlets is writing, and I look forward to this course as a reason to practice and hone my written creativity.

Run Away Kid!

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So there I am, driving down the highway on my way home from the Bean’s speech therapy session, when I see a young boy standing by the side of the highway, looking like he’s trying to cross!  Outloud, I say, “what is a boy doing on the side of the highway?”  And I decide that I don’t have any other choice but to turn around at the next exit and make sure he is okay.

He’s a little further up the road when I get back, and there is a woman following him from a lot further behind.   I drive up beside the kid and ask him where he is going.  Does he need a ride anywhere?  He gestures back at the woman behind him, and I ask, “Are you with her?”.  “Yup, I’m running away”.  Oh, okay.

I get out of the car (luckily there’s a flat spot beside the road there) and try to talk to him but he keeps walking up the highway.  The woman finally catches up with me and I tell her to jump in the car.  We drive up past the kid and we get out.  Meanwhile,  he’s started climbing up the hill above the highway.  We try to talk him down, and he goes up higher.  I start to climb up the hill, hoping that he’ll let me get closer even if he won’t wait for the lady he’s running from, but he goes even higher.  Then I cut my hand on a sharp rock. :-(.

A female police officer stops and starts talking to the kid, and a male police officer shows up on a motorcycle.   I’ve loaned my phone to the woman who’s chasing the kid and she contacts the school.  It turns out that the kid is 8 years old and has run away from St. Vincents, a residential home for boys close by.  The male officer disappears, and just as I’m getting into the car to get out of their way, I see him grab the kid from the top of the hill.  That’s why they’re the professionals.  I didn’t think of that.

I’m so glad the kid is safe, but I wonder what made an 8-year-old run away from school. The school he lives at is for boys who have had major psychological trauma including severe parental abuse and neglect.  I can’t imagine what this kid has been through in his short life already.  It’s the kind of thing that people like me only see in movies.  Of course, if I continue with my plan to become a school therapist, I’m going to see these things more than I want to.  I guess I’d better start getting used to the idea.

What came first: the arsenic or the egg?

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(courtesy healthfreedoms.org)

Yesterday I did some reading, and one article was of particular interest to me: What’s REALLY in Your Eggs?  Read the article – it’s fascinating.

I kinda figured that eggs laid by hens that have been living out in a pasture where they have access to sunlight, exercise, and their natural food would be healthier than eggs laid by hens who have been living in cramped quarters.  But I didn’t imagine that the difference would be so great – even to the point of needing to eat less pastured eggs to feel satisfied.  Quick summary: pastured eggs have twice as much of most vitamins found in eggs, and a lot less fat and cholesterol.  The biggest discrepancy is Vitamin D, because hens who live indoors don’t get access to the Vitamin D in sunshine.

The other disconcerting thought was the presence of arsenic in commercial chickens and eggs.  There is an (apparently benign) arsenic-based additive that is included in chicken feed in the US (I’m not sure about Canada), which gets concentrated and turned into a lethal form of arsenic in the chicken meat and their eggs.  It’s not enough to kill you outright, but they are saying that the accumulation of these low levels of arsenic causes all sorts of health problems over time.  Did YOU know that there was arsenic in your chicken and your eggs?

Pastured eggs are a lot more expensive than commercial eggs, which makes sense;  it costs a lot more to raise the chickens.  At times it seems ridiculous to pay $8 per dozen when you can get eggs for less than half that price.  But the more I educate myself, the more I think that my health, and that of my daughter, is worth it.  If we need less of the food to nourish our bodies, perhaps it won’t be that much more expensive to feed our family on pastured meats and eggs.  The trick is to adjust our habit of eating a large quantity of those items.  As a chronic over-eater, that might be a challenge…but perhaps it’s one I’m willing to take on. It can only benefit me.

For about six months now, we’ve been members at a local farm, called Tara Firma Farms, that raises all of their animals in pastures, feeds them the food they were meant to eat, and grows their vegetables and fruits using sustainable, organic processes.  We don’t purchase ALL of our meat, fruits and veggies from them, but it’s a start.  One day, maybe we’ll be able to afford to switch totally, but for now, I’ll do what I can to help my family be healthy.

10 Things I’m Grateful For Today

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I know I’ve done this a few times, but I think you can never be too vocal about gratitude.  I haven’t been feeling very thankful lately because I’ve been sick for so long.  So I think it will be a helpful exercise for me to focus on what there is to be thankful for.  In no particular order:

  1. I found a house/pet sitter for our trip to Canada over Christmas.  This is something that’s been stressing me out for weeks, but I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.  I suddenly remembered (divine intervention?) about someone who might be interested, and sure enough, she is.
  2. I’m starting to feel a little better.  I actually got our dog out for a walk this morning.
  3. The Bean is at daycare this morning.  I’ve got a few hours to collect my thoughts, get some of our sick-house mess cleaned up, and maybe take a short nap before I have to go pick her up.
  4. My Baby Sister.  She has been a real light in my recent darkness and I really cherish her.
  5. My Middle Sister. She inspires me to do more and be more.  I am so proud of her.
  6. Our home.  I’ve spent a lot of time alone (with the Bean) in our house for the last three weeks, and it’s been a cozy haven.  That said, I’m looking forward to getting out more now that we’re on the mend.
  7. Large appliances.  I am so grateful that we have a dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, so that a lot of the hard work can be done automatically while I do other things.

    (courtesy flixya.com)

  8. Music.  It lifts the mood and makes chores more fun.
  9. My Husband.  He goes to work every day to make sure we have everything we need.
  10. God.  He’s been answering prayers I didn’t even know I was praying.

Grief During the Most Joyful Time of the Year

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Today I am hurting for a friend who suffered a miscarriage this week.  This is supposed to be a fun, joyful, and busy time of year, and yet there are so many people with reasons to mourn at Christmas time.  Hearing about my friends loss brought back the pain of my own miscarriage in full force.

We had been so excited coming up to Christmas.  Two weeks into December, we discovered that I was pregnant, and immediately informed both of our families.  Come Christmas Day, we received gifts for our unborn little one, and I was already imagining the coming year of a growing belly and our growing family.  The baby was due on my birthday.

Two days after Christmas, I started bleeding.  I was barely 7 weeks along, and my dreams were coming crashing down around me.  I called in sick to work, and laid on the couch holding my belly and sobbing.  The physical pain was considerable, but the emotional pain was much worse.  There weren’t many who even knew of the pregnancy yet, and so in order to get the support I desperately needed from my friends, I had to inform them of my pregnancy by telling them of the loss.  The only person I knew of who had gone through a miscarriage was my cousin, so I reached out to her, and we bonded in a way that I don’t think would have happened otherwise.  I’m not sure I ever thanked her properly for that.  Thank you!

At the time, none of the well-meant comments about the frequency of miscarriages, the good chances of a healthy pregnancy afterwards, or the blessing that it happened so early in the pregnancy comforted me.   I endured a wedding shower (with family that hadn’t even known I was pregnant) and a baby shower within a month of my miscarriage, and it was so hard.  I was a mess at work for the first few weeks of January, and my colleagues were so sweet, even though I’m sure most of them had no idea what to do with me.  In the months that followed, friend after friend sent out happy announcements of their healthy pregnancies, and I cried.  I sobbed each time my period arrived, even though we had decided to wait a few months before trying again.

Of course, my Sweetie was also affected strongly by the loss, even though I’d had to convince him that having a family was a good idea in the first place.  In the few short weeks that we’d known of our little one’s existence, he had also formed some hopes and dreams for his child.  If people aren’t sure how to comfort the mother, they are even more at a loss about what the father might be going through.  I think the hardest part for him, though, was not knowing how to help me work through my own strong grief.

To distract ourselves from baby-related things, we took a trip to Thailand and had an incredible, life-changing journey that would not have happened if I’d been pregnant.  My best friend got married that summer, and it was fun to be able to fully enjoy the celebrations without the encumbrance of a pregnant belly. We started “trying” again, and I was tracking all sorts of unmentionables in an attempt to increase our chances of conception. I cried every time it became evident that there wasn’t a baby on the way.  It felt like an eternity of waiting.

Then, one day in July while I was alone with my thoughts, I suddenly felt a real sense of peace.  I knew God was telling me that he had things under control, and that I would be pregnant before my birthday – the due date of the baby who hadn’t made it.  Sure enough, that month I got pregnant – only four months after we started trying again.  Part of me was nervous that I would miscarry again. But for the most part, I just trusted the feeling I’d gotten in that quiet moment, and believed that everything would be fine.  And it was.  I had a relatively easy first trimester, a wonderful second trimester, and we were able to celebrate my healthy pregnancy at Christmas that year.

One thing that really comforted me was a statue of an angel that my parents had given me for Christmas two days before the miscarriage.  The angel’s hands are held to her heart as if she’s protecting something precious.  For me, it has always been a symbol of God holding me and my first baby close to his heart.  I still tear up when I look at it on the shelf, but it’s primarily a comforting feeling, not a painful one.

I still feel the pain of my loss every time someone tells me they’ve had a miscarriage.  However, I know that if that baby had survived, we would never have known our darling Bean.  I can’t imagine that!  My experience with miscarriage has allowed me to comfort my own sister and friends who have endured the same loss.  In the same way that I feel a special closeness to my cousin, I have bonded with those friends over our shared pain, and it’s good. Some people seem to be more matter-of-fact about having a miscarriage, and some are affected very deeply by it.  Each person needs to deal with it their own way.

So to my friend who is in so much pain right now, I know what you’re going through.  I am so sorry for your loss.  It WILL get easier over time, but for now, you have every right to feel lost, and alone, and disappointed, and supremely sad.  Cling to the hands and hearts of those who love you.  Allow yourself to grieve and then allow yourself to be happy again.  And then when the time is right, you’ll give it another try.  There are no guarantees in life, but the fun and interesting part is the journey.

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