Tuesday, March 31, 2015

730 BELLS: Revelation Spring

Every year I wait for it, counting the days until spring. Spring with its new beginnings. It’s new life. Green waking up the world and waking up me after the long winter of darkness. But this spring is more tantalizing than ever because I’m witnessing it in the country—on three riverside acres that is our new home.

Everything here is a revelation. I don’t know what bulbs are working toward the light. Don’t know which tree or bush will leaf and bloom next. Even the light is different. I now have a vast view of the sky. For the first time I saw the full moon rise in the west while the evening star glimmered down into the fir trees west of the river.

Not only spring, but all the first year will ring with revelations. What birds will come? What will the river look like at high summer dusk? How will the raspberries taste? What colors will autumn paint? How many squirrels will raid the walnut tree? 

And what kind of creative work will this place inspire? What ideas? What kind of life will it guide me to?

I can’t wait to find out.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on April 14 for a guest post with the wonderful children's author Dave Patneaude.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

7:30 BELLS: The Bells are Moving

The bells are moving, 
bells tucked into boxes,
the bells are moving to the country, 
to the river, 
bells soon to ring
at last, at last to ring
with tall trees,
     with red-tailed hawks
            with the roar and hum of river and wind

I will unpack my heart
that has waited so long,
I will unpack the bells,
     wait for it--
hear that wild clamor and clang?
hear my heart roar

:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on April 14 for a guest post with the wonderful children's author Dave Patneaude.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

7:30 BELLS: One Heart, Two Sets of Bells

Soon, we will be moving to a new house—three acres on a river. Already I hear the sweet, lithe bells of tomorrow—the promise of a new beginning. And I hear the somber bells of goodbye to a house I’ve lived in for over twenty years.

Sometimes both sets of bells ring at the same time. Tears of happiness and tears of sorrow blend on my cheeks. Then I remember what I learned in Italy, that the whole, rich picture of life—joy and sorrow—is what I must embrace. Both are part of life. Both mean being alive.

Simply hold out your hands and hold up your heart to all of life.

Ring. It is all good.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

7:30 BELLS: Guest Post by author Laurie Ann Thompson

I'm so pleased to introduce 7:30 BELLS readers to Laurie Ann Thompson, my new friend and author of two wonderful non-fiction books for kids. Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, and Emmanuel's Dream.

I recently did an author visit with two classes of sixth graders for their Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) unit on teen activism. I normally plan to speak for about 40 minutes and save the last 20 minutes for questions. For the first time, I ran out of things to say only 20 minutes in. I still can’t figure out what happened: did I skip a section, talk too fast, what? I was in a little bit of a panic when I realized I had 40 minutes left to fill and no plan for keeping 50 hungry 11-year-olds focused on the topic (it was right before lunch!). I decided to open it up to questions in the middle, which would give me time to frantically try to figure out what to say for the last 20 minutes.

Fortunately, the kids were awesome. Engaged and interested throughout, they had a TON of serious, insightful questions. We had meaningful discussions about being a changemaker, about reading, about writing, and about how the three overlap and enhance each other. Lo and behold, we used up all of our time! Despite its lack of structure, it was one of the best visits I’ve ever had, and I’m still feeling a little bit high from it.

The truth is I always feel like I’m walking on air after a presentation. As I told those kids, that never ceases to amaze me! When I was contemplating switching careers to become an author, one thing terrified me more than anything else—public speaking—and I’d do just about anything to avoid it. Toward the end of my senior year of high school, the administration posted our GPAs. I was one of the top in my class, which meant I’d have to give a speech at graduation. I nearly failed my last semester of Spanish—after having gotten As for four years straight—in a desperate attempt to end up third in my class. Success! No speech.

At that point, my main goal was to not be noticed. I lived in constant fear of making a mistake, terrified of failure. I avoided doing anything I wasn’t already sure I was good at. No one could find out I was a fraud, that I wasn’t really as smart as they all said I was. I played it safe and stuck to what I knew. That is no way to be a changemaker. In fact, it’s no way to live.

Of course, life has a way of changing us. Since then I’ve been put in situations that were way outside my comfort zone. Each time, successful or not, my comfort zone expanded. Succeeding at or even just surviving something I thought was out of reach is the best high there is. The bells ring for me when I’ve pushed myself to do something I never thought I could. That rush of adrenaline tells me I’m alive and growing, and that’s the best feeling there is.

Laurie Ann Thompson writes for children and young adults to help her readers—and herself—make better sense of the world we live in so we can contribute to making it a better place. She strive to write nonfiction that gives wings to active imaginations and fiction that taps into our universal human truths. She believes that each of us is capable of doing amazing things once we discover our passion, talent, and purpose. Thompson's books are: Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters, and Emmanuel's Dream, both Junior Library Guild Selections. My Dog Is the Best, is coming soon.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on April 14 for a guest post with the wonderful children's author Dave Patneaude.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

7:30 BELLS: The Best of the Bells: The Gossamer of Possibility

Occasionally I feature the most popular past 7:30 BELLS posts. This one is from December of 2013 when I was stunned by an exhibit of Isabelle de Borchgrave's full size, gossamer paper dresses.

Art that resonates with you can set the bells wildly ringing. That happened to me this week when I saw the exhibit, A World of Paper, A World of Fashion: Isabelle de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny, at the Bellevue Art Museum.

Using the exquisite dresses designed by Fortuny (1871-1949) as a point of departure, Isabelle de Borchgrave concocted other-worldly dream dresses out of paper—painted, glued, torn, crumpled. A few have backdrops made entirely of paper, like the tent pavilion pictured below. Some of the other-worldliness comes from surprise and fascination—full size dresses fashioned of paper instead of fabric. Tissue thin veils sway in the breeze. Some of the other-worldliness comes from the evocation of the legendary past—Moorish, Arabic, Persian, Coptic, Japanese patterns painted in tromp l’oeil on the paper.

But for me, most of the other-worldliness comes from being cast into a realm of fantastic imagination. Some of these dresses had presences. Standing before a tent pavilion, watching gossamer paper drapes ripple, I rang with possibility. Lines of poetry filled my mind, ideas for stories, and shapes for a sculpture project I’m working on.

You never know what will make the bells ring and bring you alive. Never know what will converge with your current creative tuning and set you on fire. So seek things out. Fantastic worlds of imagination await, if you make time to open yourself to the gossamer of possibility. 

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesdays of every month. Join me on March 10 for a guest post with the wonderful children's author Laurie Thompson.