April

Farewell to April and an early hello to May!  Chances are that you’ve heard the familiar rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Well, the flowers came early this year and it’s been lovely – although my tulips are already spent, and that always makes me a little bit sad.  How about you?

 

I find the idea of Poetry Month, like tulips, both encouraging and discouraging.  It’s great to celebrate poetry, but I worry that sometimes we do it only in the month of April.  It’s definitely an important literary form, deserving of attention all year long!  (Of course we should look for opportunities to explore Black History, Women’s History, etc. more frequently than just the days that can be found on one calendar page, too – right?)

 

Speaking of a small amount of recognition given to a rather large realm - I give you Earth Day.  That’s right – Earth DAY.  I totally applaud the focus and attention that this event recently received in classrooms, day care centers, homes, etc. and encourage each of us to see what we can do to think about, plan for, and take action that will cumulatively make a difference for our planet (and by extension, ourselves and our plant and animal neighbors).

 

One of the aspects of Earth that particularly fascinates me rocks – literally.  I am pretty crazy about rocks and like to spend time looking at, touching, thinking about, and photographing them.  Perhaps you would enjoy my poem “Earth Music” found in the Original Poetry section.  I have worked on that one on and off for four or five years.  Sometimes poems, like rocks, take more time than you might think!

 

Three very poetic and green cheers to you and yours!

 

March

 
IMG_0824.JPG
 

March is a greening time, a new beginning for plants – and people, too.  What a perfect moment to consider the powerful beauty in many of our endeavors – the imaginative play of children, the joy of song and dance, and the accomplishments of innovators.  It can be a time of renewal, too, for commitment to overcoming ongoing human struggles of all kinds.  March on!

 

 

March On

 

Neither a lamb

nor lion be -

march on, march on.

More bell and song

than hammer, now –

march on, march on.

People before

creeds and causes –

march on, and on,

and on, and on.

 

Stella Castella

  

Here are some quotes from some well-known people with March birthdays.  They come, as before, from A Gift of Days:  The Greatest Words to Live By by Stephen Alcorn.

 

Miriam Makeba (singer):  Everyone now admits that apartheid was wrong, and all I did was tell the people who wanted to know where I come from how we lived in South Africa.  I just told the world the truth.  And if my truth then becomes political, I can't do anything about that.

 

Ornette Coleman (musician):  You've got to realize.  In the western world, regardless of what color you are, what title the music is, it's all played by the same notes.

 

James Madison (U.S. President):  Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty as well as by the abuses of power.

 

Fred Rogers (educator):  People often talk about play as if it were a relief from serious learning or a "waste of time."  But for children, play is serious learning.

 

Gloria Steinem (women's rights activist):  Without leaps of imagination, or dreams, we lose the excitement of possibilities.  Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

 

Zbigniew Brzezinski (political scientist):  We cannot have that relationship if we only dictate or threaten and condemn those who disagree.

 

Cesar Chavez (civil rights activist):  There is no substitute for hard work, twenty-three or twenty-four hours a day.  And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.

 

February

Welcome to a month of celebrations - love, presidential prestige, and a concentrated focus on Black history - interesting and important topics, all!

 

What if we loved everyone, honored everyone willing to serve, and regularly remembered the important contributions of our fellow-citizens of all colors, creeds, and orientations?  What if …?

 

What if we …were truly WE? Less division, fewer insults.  Love. Your. Neighbor. Period.

This seems to me like a worthy and lofty goal.  We will fall short – again and again, but we can surely do better than we often do now.  (You need look no farther than an average batch of comments in connection with any FB news item to see that this is so).  This is far from a new idea; cultures throughout recorded time have had different ways of stating the "golden rule." 

 

ReligiousTolerance.org has some interesting information on "Shared Belief in the Golden Rule (also known as Ethics of Reciprocity)."  A parenting book entitled Parenting Today with Respect and Responsibility:  How to Teach Your Children to Live by The Golden Rule is promoted on this site.  It's by Nancy Eastman; I haven't yet read it, but am surely intrigued.  This site also provides a link to another one - for Scarboro Missions.  They offer Golden Rule Workshop materials, including an informative poster. 

 

It is important to note, I think, that the idea of treating others as we'd like to be treated has also historically been promoted outside of religious contexts – and these might make better topics of study for public school classrooms, unless your curriculum goals involve comparative religion.

 

Next month, Spring will make an entrance – and what on Earth could be sweeter?  For now, let's all demonstrate that we have sweet hearts – whenever and however we are able.

 

Bless your hearts!


To My Various Valentines


If you are

a Valentine

of mine,

I hope

you're feeling

especially fine.

I hope

you know

that you're loved

and treasured;

I hope

you know

that your worth

can't be measured.


Stella Castella

 



January

A sunny day in January is an exquisite thing – crisp, hopeful, invigorating.  Welcome to a new year and to all of the possibilities it brings!

 

I would especially like to thank these people for their thoughts in connection with the following poem:  Alex Ready, Callie Zenner, Cheyenne Hepworth, Megan O'Kelley, Charlotte Rodgers, Jaynie Casey, Lynnae Anderson, Tina Blood, Andy Vasquez, and Janet Morrison.

  

It's January

 

Brace your face

for the freeze

of the cold, and

find the resolve

for some goals

that are bold.

 

Reflect, restart,

begin again …

… and

celebrate

when your team

gets a win.

 

Remember

the birth of

a man named King;

Pass the peace

and dream

of Spring.

 

Stella Castella

 

If you have a birthday this month, cheers and happy personal new year to you!  I know that you will make the most of your three day weekend, if you get an extra day off – and I'm sure that you join me in being grateful that our nation has come to a place where we publicly honor Dr. King and other civil rights leaders, in spite of the fact that there is still much work to be done.

 

I would like to recommend to you  A Gift of Days:  The Greatest Words to Live By  – for home or classroom use.  It's by Stephen Alcorn and features names and quotations of "heroes of all walks of life," arranged in birthday order.  The accompanying illustrations could well inspire etching or printmaking work by you or the kids in your care!

In addition to Dr. King, the following famous folks, among others, were born in January:

 

Betsy Ross (pacifist)

J.R.R. Tolkien (author)

Isaac Newton (scientist)

Joan of Arc (political figure, martyr)

George Washington Carver (scientist)

Edgar Allen Poe (poet)

Virginia Woolf (author)

Jackson Pollock (artist)

Jackie Robinson (athlete)

December

Message of the Month

 

In these December days, the darkest of the year in our hemisphere, we often look for ways to add light to our environments.  We burn candles, candles, and more candles.  We festoon trees, rooflines, and lots of other surfaces with strings of twinklers.  We gaze into our fireplaces – be they wood, gas, or electronic in nature.  Clearly, the human need for light is a powerful thing.  We can see this in the number of common phrases that include a reference to light.  Here are just a few:

 

All sweetness and light

At first light

Light hearted

Light headed

Light as a feather

Out like a light

Light it up

Get the green light

Light years away

In the cold light of day

Light at the end of the tunnel

Light of my life

Light of the world

 

A quick Internet search of "Quotes About Light" reveals page after page of interesting ideas.  Mathematicians, musicians, poets, and all manner of writers seem to have had something to say on the subject.

 

Oddly - or perhaps not, both Bram Stoker (Dracula) and Stephanie Meyer (Twilight series) have seemed to find the topic fascinating; vampires, despite what we've heard, apparently crave light in some (human) form – at least in these two tales.

 

Pythagoras and Plato both pondered the phenomenon of light.  Their words perhaps inspired many – among them Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, and Taylor Swift.

 

Many of my heroes have long been novelists and poets.  Lots of them have incorporated thoughts about light into their work.  If you are reading my blog, I would guess that you admire some of these people, too.  Here are a few choice quotes for your reading pleasure.

 

"Stories are light.  Light is precious in a world so dark.  Begin at the beginning…Make some light." 

(Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux)

 

"We've all got both light and dark inside us.  What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That's who we really are." 

(J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

 

"She was bendable light; she shone around every corner of my day."

(Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl)

 

"May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out." 

(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

 

"How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world."

(William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice)

 

"Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That's how the light gets in."

(Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems)

 

"PHOSPHORESCENCE.  Now there's a word to lift your hat to … to find that phosphorescence, that light within, that's the genius behind poetry."

(Emily Dickenson)

 

Here is a little poem for you about light.  It is (very literally) mostly based upon several of the numerous dictionary definitions of the word.  Cheers (and light) to you!

 

 

Light By Definition


May your days

in this place

be easy to bear,

easy to do -

at least sometimes.


May you move

with ease, moderately;

coming to rest, and

departing suddenly,

as you choose –

once in awhile.


May you feel

merry, happy,

dizzy, giddy,

and more –

on occasion.


May you make

it yourself,

of yourself,

if you like -

in order to

have little weight

or lack seriousness.


May you know

that you are

all kinds of shine,

and may you live

all the luster

that you crave.


Stella Castella

November

As we turn over a new calendar page - to a significant month in many ways, the beauty of possible CONNECTION is on my mind.  We are connected to those who share our immediate DNA.  We are connected to those who share our vision for the world.  We are also connected to everyone else, I think!  I feel fortunate to have many connections to lots of lovely people.  In some cases, these connections are very visible and highly regular.  In other cases, the threads of connection are less obvious. 

 

On this morning after Election Day, I know that I am connected to both those who voted my way and those who exercised their franchises differently – even to those who didn't choose to participate.  Most certainly we are also connected, in a variety of ways, to the people who are citizens of other countries.   We are even connected (in ways we're not necessarily aware of) to all of the plants and animals with whom we share this planet.  It is one big, remarkable web of connection – and for me, a tree (with multiple branches) is a good metaphor.  If you are reading this, thanks for staying connected to me in this way!


I Remember November


I remember November;

she's the auntie who

always reminds us to

say please and thanks.


Stella Castella

 

 

Opportunity


November can be

a different kind of

gathering time -

a chance to get right

in heart and head

before the darkest

days of December.


Stella Castella


 

Let me be …

 

Thankful, every day, for


Having friends that are family


And family members who are friends;


Nature to enjoy, with wide-open senses;


Knowledge, often fleeting, but always welcome


For filtering the events of the world, past and present, and


Ultimately, most of all, for the power (in all forms) of


Love that connects us to one another, somehow,

   across the years, miles, and gulfs of grief or

   misunderstanding – even when it seems unlikely.

   Especially then.


Stella Castella


October

October is very much associated with the color orange; this is no surprise, right?  We see it frequently – in all the familiar places.  Remember Opposite Day when you were a kid? (No means yes and yes means no).  I would like to call attention right now to the opposite of orange: blue.  

 

It is mostly thought of as a color, but it is interesting that the word is also used to describe a feeling – one that is familiar to many as the days grow shorter.  (In case you have some doubts about October and all that it entails, please see Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness by Mary Oliver – posted recently on my FB page, courtesy of Janet Morrison.  It definitely did something for me!) 

 

If you find yourself feeling blue (and listening to some great blues music doesn’t help) turn to the balancing effect of that color’s complement: orange.  You can still find some blossoms, spectacular leaves are just around the corner, and maybe (like me) you can find it in the eye of a friendly dog.  If you are desperate, paint something the best orange you can find – or better yet, mix your own.  Just mixing a good orange is therapeutic.

 

 

 October Knows


October knows

a thing or two

about seeing orange

and feeling blue.


Stella Castella






So Many Blues

So many blues,

impossible hues

I see through

the holes

in the clouds.

What can it mean

in the grand scheme

of things? 

I don’t know, and

neither do you.


Stella Castella

September

The world is so full of a number of things,

I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings. 

                                   

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

 

Some of Mr. Stevenson’s poems were the first ones I met in this life; that’s probably why they continue to be important to me.  Many are still very relevant today, though at least one is inappropriate in a modern, diverse society – unless it’s used as a springboard for a discussion about changing attitudes (and the need to do more in that area). 

Look for Happy Thought, The Swing, My Shadow, and other classic poems in A Child’s Garden of Verses (available in versions illustrated by several well-known artists).