Friday night our daughter Amy invited us out to dinner, which was special but not suspicious. At the restaurant we were guided upstairs, and while I looked for the hostess to seat us, Dee turned me a bit and I saw a big table of people. One guy looked like my son-in-law (they live in Philly) and another resembled my son from Denver. Suddenly they were all standing up, singing Happy Birthday. To me!! I looked around and they were ALL there—our seven kids, plus in-law kids (from 5 different states)—we hadn't all been together at the same time for four years, before Anna even joined the family.
Wait . . . where was Anna? Amidst all the hugging, Pete said, "Anna's in labor. I just came for the surprise—I've got to get back to the hospital." (Doesn't this sound like the finale of It's a Wonderful Life, where, to top off the huge, loving reunion, the war-hero brother flies in through a blizzard to make his appearance?) Peter rushed back to help Anna deliver our 20th grandchild. PJ arrived in tip-top shape the next night, after 30 hours of labor (not part of the birth plan!) while the rest of us partied all weekend.
I'm not often surprised, but I have been rendered speechless this month. OK, OK. You, of all people, know I'm not speechless; but I am amazed. Take my School Days Seminar. TravelinOma has been my hobby for three years, with regular daily posts and encouraging comments, but most nights I wonder if there's anybody on the other side of the computer. Still, I type away because I'm passionate about writing, and The Blogosphere is my writing group.
The last Thursday of August I was brainstorming for a gimmick to jazz up my blog and School Days: A 12-Week Seminar was born. No thirty-hour labor for me—in fact, in that blazing moment I knew my new predetermined topics would dissolve writer's block. Posts would flow out of my finger-tips forever. Besides, who would know? Who reads my blog anyway?
The next morning I had 128 comments! Over the next two days I got two dozen more, plus 155 emails from readers wanting to sign up. People thought I was for real! What had I been thinking? Sixty thought provoking, daily posts? On what?
But I was committed to my birth plan. After the panic passed, it began to seem like an opportunity to challenge myself. All summer my son-in-law had been training for a one-day, 210-mile bike ride. Just because. People hike mountains, swim Channels. School Days could be my marathon. (I'm no runner but I'm good with a dash—)
Natalie Goldberg wrote this when she finished a book: "It might not be the greatest novel, but it was my greatest effort. Maybe that's my talent. Tremendous determination. In this one area: writing. Not in other areas. For instance, I run around the block once—uh, I don't want to do it anymore. I stop. Skiing: I fell, oh I don't like skiing; I take off my skis. But in writing I have that determination." So do I.
If I had labored over this seminar idea for a few more hours, I would never have suggested it. It's hard! But then I wouldn't have discovered your blogs, or read your creative, funny, moving, heartbreaking stories. Reading your work is motivation for doing mine.
I'm putting in my labor hours as we go, and I'm surprised that every day I get a bunch of ideas. Creativity generates creativity. There are lists laying all over my desk, tucked in my folders, waiting to be noticed. You and I have nine more weeks to polish our pens, and share our skills. Just write away, and don't be surprised by your progress.
Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.
~Has a surprise party ever worked out for you? Were you the surpriser or the surprised? Record the memory in your blog or journal, with as many details as possible.
~List 8 ways you've surprised yourself lately. Ideas: "I'm a better cook than my mother-in-law." "I was too nervous to get out of the car."
~Use the Natalie Goldberg quote as inspiration. Write a page that starts, "I have tremendous determination in this one area:_______. Not in other areas. For instance:_________."
*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.
End of the 1st Quarter Announcements:
159 different people have done homework assignments.
Sherbet Blossom and Formerly Phread are tied for the most recruits (21 each.)
These students have completed 10-15 written assignments:
- Diane L
- Sassy Piggy
- Marissa Marie
- Soybean Living
- Mrs Organic
- Queen Scarlett
- Rebekah Writes
- Sassy Lewis
- Sarah N