Let Me Be Poetry Celebrating Summer Solstice waterfall

Let Me Be: Poetry For Celebrating Summer Solstice

Poetry For Celebrating Summer Solstice

Oh, the water lilies. See how they seem
to open wider out of their own opening?

Let me unfold like that—without thinking,
without assuming I’m already open enough.

Let Me Be Poetry Celebrating Summer Solstice

 

Do not let me close up, all stiff and stoic,
like a walnut that will not crack.

Don’t let me become the one who groans
when someone else starts to rhapsodize
about the fragrant wisteria in spring.

Why is being hardened a respectable, desirable thing?

Let me be soft.

Let me always sigh as I bite
into ripe watermelon, juice spilling in runnels
of pink down my chin, down my neck.

Let someone else stand beside the waterfall
and explain how its negative ions work,
and let me be the one getting drenched
and falling in love with the sheen on the rocks.

Let Me Be Poetry Celebrating Summer Solstice waterfall
Waterfall near Cascade Locks, OR

 

Let me not leave my signature like the woodpecker,
but let me chant endlessly on summer nights
in the way that the whippoorwill does.

And why not?

Why not praise the slender-bodied weasels
who turn white then honest brown?

Both colors are equally lovely.

Why not enthuse
over the bulky walrus that has adapted to stay warm?

Oh, let me be warm and give that warmth back to the world.

Let Me Be Poetry Celebrating Summer Solstice sunrise
Celebrating Summer Solstice Sunrise over the Salt Flats, Wendover, Utah

 

It’s so easy to turn cold, to poke fun, to accuse, to be cool.

Let me be a fool.

Let my thoughts of how the world should be
jump away like a mob of wallabies.

Let me not find pleasure
in making things small or putting others down
or rolling my eyes or criticizing.

Let me be silly.

And gushing with praise for whatever

is the nearest thing I see—
a twig in the rain, a rock on the trail,
a red leaf that has already let go.

~ Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

I fell in love with this poem after reading it on A First Sip. In times like these, when the world seems to be turning upside down, I thought it right to share these words – reminding us to slow down, pay attention and find pleasure in the smaller moments of life.

How would you finish the phrase, “let me be?”  Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and enjoy the summer solstice.

Words are the spark that ignites my soul.

I am a collector of language in all forms and believe the extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared.

These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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From Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram Stories, or Other Ways My Kids Make Me Feel My Age

“Mrs. Wolfe, you have a Snapchat?” my 9th-grade student sputtered. It was after school, and I naively left my phone front and center on my desk. Yes, indeed, baby Wolfe had chatted her middle-aged mother, and the world now knows.

“Yep,” I smiled as I clicked off the screen. “How else would I know what my kids are doing?”

“That’s awesome!” he exclaimed as if no one my age EVER would know what Snapchat was, let alone how to use it.

Snapchat

The truth is, I strongly dislike Snapchat. I don’t dig the fact that I have seven- plus seconds to read and scan a photo. I dislike when my volume is off and I miss the audio on the video she sends. And I really abhor that I can’t go back and review the images over and over – I want to know what my girl is doing, where she, what her life looks like. She doesn’t live here anymore, and I’ll grab any glimpse I can.

So why Snapchat?

Because that’s what millenials/teenagers/anyoneunder30something use. And if I want to be in the know, I’d better know how to Snap.

Ugh.

Just a few years ago I wrote about my then 13-year-old son jumping online with Facebook. At the time, I was a combination of shocked/curious/dismayed at the idea of his jumping into social media. The ‘pros’ were obvious; social media offers a glimpse into the world away from parents where kids can show other sides of their personalities. He coaxed it would allow him to be tagged when he/we travel, and how much more connected we would be.

Snapchat

Facebook lasted all of a few months for him. Now 17, he tells me he does a monthly check in to see if he’s been tagged. No connection there. Facebook is for old people.

For awhile both kids posted on Instagram – mostly after-the-fact images of their adventures, seemingly innocuous sunsets and sunrises over the mountains, or goofy poses with their friends. Bu these days, ‘grams’ are few and fleeting, and while I love the peek into their worlds, the succinct shots of life don’t have the same impact as good ‘ole Facebook.

Maybe that’s why Snapchat is so problematic for me. It enhances the fleetingness of the millennial lifestyle while at the same time reminding me that I cannot swipe or click fast enough to capture a memory for review. Despite my establishing the perfect condition to carefully open the snap, fingers poised perfectly to screenshot, I undoubtedly mess up, ending with a disappointing shot of the carpet. Not to mention the inability to magnify the image to satisfy my failing eyesight.

Snapchat is an exercise in frustration at best.

And now, just in the nick of time, we have Snapchat’s ‘world lenses’, plying old moms like me with easier replay and overlays that really do emphasize the generation gap. Every time I see someone wearing kitty whiskers or pursed lips and a helium voice it really makes me wonder about the future of the next generation – to have all that time on your hands and spend it augmenting your undeniably ordinary existence is hard to digest.

Someone, stop this Snapchat nonsense.

Instagram to the rescue.

Snapchat

As if the angels heard my plea, Instagram Stories has dumped into my phone glimpses into my children’s semi-adult lives that actually allow me to soak in the moment – I can see my girl on the mountaintop, hear the wind blowing against her phone and the crunch of the snow below her ski boots. And just when I start to hyperventilate that she’s on top of a mountain that she just hiked up to see the sunrise, Stories segues into the next video montage, showing her safely at the bottom of the hill.

Thank you, Instagram, for figuring out how to overtake Snapchat and settle my stressed out mind. Now I can hit ‘replay’ over and over and over, soaking in the details and sharing with grandma and grandpa without feeling like my screenshot game is minor-league. And since all things come back in style, if I just wait long enough, maybe by the time my kids have kids of their own Facebook will be trendy again, and I can take all the time I want replaying and sharing photos of my bound-to-be-adorable grandchildren to all my old lady friends.

See ya, Snapchat. Can’t say I’ll miss you one bit.

If you’d like to be my old lady friend on Facebook or Instagram, you can find me sharing stories, snaps, books and beauty there on a regular basis. Snapchat? Not so much.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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gardening shovel

Tired Of Gardening? You’re Doing It Wrong!

No surprise if you follow my Instagram – I love gardening.

gardening shovel

source

Nothing better than gardening!

There’s nothing better in life than a warm summer’s evening in a beautiful garden that you have created yourself. But many people miss out on this incredible experience and opportunity because they feel that gardening is just too much hard work. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Sure, gardening takes a little sweat and elbow grease every now and again, but the truth is if you are slaving away in your garden, you are doing it all wrong. Here are my tips for making gardening an easier – and far more enjoyable – experience.

Feed Your Soil!

First of all, if you want to see your garden grow magnificently, you need to give it the right nutrients. So many people complain about never achieving the perfect lawn, or always experiencing plants die, but the truth is that by testing your soil’s pH levels you will be able to introduce the right minerals and nutrients. Then it’s a simple case of adding some compost every now and again. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that good-quality soil means you won’t have to add fertilizer every other week.

Go Slow Release

Of course, every garden could do with some fertilizer every now and again, but to make your life easier, try using slow release fertilizers. Just make sure that you use organic products, rather than synthetic fertilizers, which can impact the quality of your soil and kill off nutrients. Time released fertilizers, and water polymers are also easy to use, and you only need to lay them when you start planting shrubs, flowers, or grasses.

gardening swing

source

Invest in the Right Equipment

It’s not much of a surprise that people hate gardening if the tools they use are not up to scratch. Blunt garden shears, poor quality lawnmowers, a broken wheelbarrow – they can all add up to a frustrating and tiring experience. My advice is to spend some time looking around for better tools and consider spending a little extra on high-quality garden gear. Garden There’s good lists of garden equipment from Mowers Online and other online websites, so do some research and head down to your local garden center with your checkbook. It will make a world of difference to your enjoyment of gardening, make it a lot easier for you, and, ultimately, will give you a better garden finish for less work.

Plan Your Garden

A few weekends of hard work will mean an easier experience in the future. So, put aside some time to sort out your yard, beginning with a good plan. Sketch out your ideal garden and think about what type of plants you want to have in it. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the types of plant that thrive when together, and need similar maintenance. It will save you a lot of time when it comes to watering, feeding, and caring for your garden if you plan your plants, shrubs, and flowerbeds appropriately. Some plants will love being out in the sun, so target open areas of the backyard that have no cover for these, while others thrive in the shade. There will be an element of difference when it comes to caring for plants, of course, but the heavy maintenance chores like watering and deadheading should all be grouped together to make your life easier.

Install Raised Beds

Part of the problem with unruly gardens is that they have no defined borders. It means that plants will spread over the seasons, and you will end up losing control. Your best bet is to invest some time and energy to creating raised beds. Not only are they much easier to control, but by raising your beds up six inches or so, you will find the work is far less backbreaking than it was before.

gardening daisies

source

Go For Perennials

Perennial plants are easy to look after and are hardy, robust, and keep coming back. If you want the most comfortable gardening experience while still retaining a nice look, ensure that the majority of your plants are perennial Consider plants like Sedums and Astilbes which look fantastic all through the flowering season, and need little attention no matter what the weather.

Lay Down Mulch

Putting mulch down is a cheap way of helping your soil retain moisture all through the warm seasons, as well as keeping your plant roots nice and cool – which is essential if you want to keep your plants from dying. Mulch is also a great way of providing a professional looking finish to your raised bed and bordered areas. Not only that, of course, but mulch helps you control weeds by blocking them from life-giving light, and acts as a natural soil fertilizer to give your plants the nutrients they need. In short, one day of laying down some mulch in the right areas can mean no more weeding, and much less fertilizing.

Employ the ‘No Dig’ Method

Want to know one of the best ways of looking after your plants? Fix your soil and leave it – permanently. When you think about how plants grow in the wild, it makes perfect sense. The soil in the wild is never tended to, and if the structure remains undisturbed plants of all kinds will still flourish. Excellent news for the lazy gardener, right? However, there is an important thing to consider if you want to use the no dig method. You won’t be able to bring in plants that don’t usually grow in your local area, and importing ‘foreign’ plants from other countries will certainly be a no go. That said, it’s a great chance to learn more about your location’s natural plant life and an easy way of looking after your garden without all the hard work!

OK, so there you have it – as you can see, gardening doesn’t have to be a tough grind. Pick up the right equipment, choose the right plants, and spend a few weekends laying some groundwork, and gardening becomes an easy – and enjoyable – activity. Getting started at this time of year is a perfect time, too, so no more excuses! Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Wherever You Are Is Called Here: Poetry from David Wagoner

Hiking on Mt. Tamalpais, CA.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.

Bird on branch, UC Davis Arboretum

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

~David Wagoner

Words are the spark that ignites my soul. I am a collector of language in all forms, not a hoarder. The extraordinary beauty of the written word must be shared. These monthly posts, inspired by another’s words, are my gifts of beauty and spirit, shared with love.

 This beautiful, meditative poem by David Wagoner found its way to me via The Writer’s Almanac.

“Lost” by David Wagoner from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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words that nourish

Words That Nourish, Friends That Write

I can count on one hand the number of women I trust will always be in my life. They each entered my world at different, crucial, life altering times, and while not one of them lives within walking distance of my home, our connection remains – through words that nourish.

I’ve been a pen pal, a journaler, a poet, a blogger, a note-take, list maker and a lesson creator. Words make my world centered, they offer me a chance to slip away and at the same time, ground myself. Words are solace in a life that I struggle to understand and often, to trust.

One of these phenomenal women is my friend Michelle. We met during our early years of teaching English – a time in our twenties when life as we know now was merely a whisper. Our paths crossed in an interview for a teaching position – I, the interviewer, she the interviewee. I was captivated by her quiet grace, her creativity, and her absolute desire to share her love of language and words and books.

That was over two decades ago, and despite many moves, some marriages, a divorce, numerous job changes and a few precious children thrown into our realiity, our friendship ebbs and flows like the tide, constant, reliable, soothing.

Michelle may not realize what an inspiration she’s been to me; she may not know that when I bake bread or dig in my garden, or read about her treasured Lousisiana or find myself succumbing to fine food and wine, she’s with me.

words that nourish

Today, we were on each other’s minds. Close friendships work like that – I mailed her a book she needed on her shelf this morning, and this afternoon she called to talk writing and summer travel plans.

Today, I’m happy to share a beautiful blog post written on Michelle’s new blog, A Power 4 Good. I know you’ll love her words that nourish – she’s one of a kind! Please welcome her to the blogging community with open arms!

Words that nourish; words that heal by Michelle St. Romain

“Wherever I’ve lived my room and soon the entire house is filled with books; poems, stories, histories, prayers of all kinds stand up gracefully or are heaped on shelves, on the floor, on the bed. Strangers old and new offering their words bountifully and thoughtfully, lifting my heart.” ~ Mary Oliver

I have been thinking recently about why we write stories, why anyone writes their thoughts on paper (or computer screens). In my days as an English major in college, I was always amazed by my classmates and even my professors who chose to put their written hats in the ring and try to publish their writing. Why would anyone pick out of the millions of things that have been written this particular piece or that particular poem? Why would anyone care about my writing, or anyone’s, for that matter?

And so I chose to do other things. I continued to write, because I cannot help it. I wrote in journals. I wrote essays. I wrote for a newspaper for a short time and I found quickly that my writing could be used in almost any profession, to entertain, market, raise funds, make a case, explain, take a stand.

At this point in my life, I find that the writers I have loved have become my teachers, their words the medicine for my soul. These are the ones who have the power to change my mood and my thinking in an instant. These are the ones with a power that transcends everything that is happening in our world, at any time, no matter how ominous or depressing.

They are Mary Oliver, Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan. David Whyte, Alice Hoffman, Joanna Macy. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Marge Piercy. Alice Walker and Maya Angelou. Sandra Cisneros and Kate Chopin. This list could go on, go deeper, go farther into the past, more fully into the variety of cultures and stories that inform our world, whether we are conscious of it or not.

words that nourish

It goes to Ovid and Shakespeare, Richard Wright and Steinbeck. Their classics shaped my view of the world, challenged what I was taught about class and reality. They are immortal inside me and the influence of their words on paper cannot be known, even in the singular strand of my life – of decisions I have made, paths I have taken, words I have spoken. Of stands I have made on issues that seem larger than my small life.

I am making these decisions today.  And their words are my solace and guidance. They are my living teachers. Their stories and reflections shape me still, in this time of great change in our world.

I believe that stories and words will heal us from all that is hurting around and within us. I believe that every story that has ever been lived or spoken is still alive today. I believe that every story we are now living, every truth and broken moment, every travesty and victory, no matter how small or large, has been lived in one way or another and we can learn from what has happened before us.

We may have to go deep, go far into the past. We may need to journey to cultures far from our own, or perhaps simply allow ourselves to imagine what it is like today, in this moment, in a country where running water is a luxury and homes have dirt floors. If we expand our thinking to include the larger stories of those who have gone before and of those who are now living lives much different than our own, we may find our way. We may find hope.

We will most definitely find sorrow and grief, but we will also find companions on the path. We must only look, be curious, be patient enough to step back and open to seeing the larger shape of what is happening in any moment of our own life stories.

Thank you, great writers and thinkers and teachers. Thank you for the living gift of words that heal and uplift, teach and guide and make us question ourselves. I bury myself deeply in your wisdom. I offer my own words as an offering of gratitude, and as a prayer.

(this post originally appeared on Michelle’s blog, A Power 4 Good)

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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