Sunday, October 20, 2013

Timing is Everything

I have spent much of this fall writing, but in order to retain my sanity, I head out after a full day of words to tack up Joy and take a walk in the woods. Joy is my friend's horse, but she's given me this amazing gift of a companion so I can get away from my laptop and into the fresh air.

I grew up riding, so my days on Joy have been such a gift. My husband, Tim, is wary of horses, but I've managed to drag him along on a couple of trail rides. I usually put him on Joy, as she's calm and relatively predictable, and I ride some other horse, usually someone who needs some mileage under her young hooves. 

The horse I picked today had bucked before, but I've been on bucking horses many times, so it was no big deal. She'd burst into a gallop once before in a field and let out a huge buck of happiness as she did so, but I rode it out fine and wasn't particularly worried about her. 

But today she really went for it. 

I took Tim up into the field in the picture above, and asked the mare I was riding for a trot. She interpreted my light squeeze as an invitation to merge onto Thunder Road and we were off. A couple of strides in, she let out a mighty leap and a buck and some sort of twist, and I was tossed onto the ground. I don't remember a lot after that, but Tim and I walked the horses back to the barn, handed them off to friends, and took off for the ER. 

One hint that it was time to head to the hospital was the fact that when Tim asked me where I'd been that morning, where I'd been yesterday, what my book was about, what my book was called, I had no idea. Yesterday, I was at Brewster Academy all day, speaking to students, helping students with some writing, and speaking again to the community, so that was kind of a big thing to forget. 

Not to mention the fact that I could not remember my book, the thing that's filled my brain up and overflowed out my ears for the past year.

It all came back as we drove down to the hospital, but I noted how ironic it was that we had just been discussing my enthusiasm to dive back in to my YA novel about...a boy with memory loss.

One ER visit and a shot of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds later, I'm much better. My head is killing me, and I will most certainly be seeing my chiropractor tomorrow, but I am feeling lucky that the contents of my brain were only temporarily lost.

As I was passing time in the ER on my iPhone, I noticed that my new Vermont Public Radio commentary had just gone live. It will air Monday morning at 7:55 AM, but you can listen to it at the link I'll post in a second. It's about my afternoons spent with Joy, for which I am also very, very grateful.

You can listen here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Northern Exposure

NB: This is a re-post from the first day of autumn a couple of years ago. The air had that certain chill tonight as I returned home from a lovely night out with a great friend, and I felt compelled to pull of the Northern Exposure DVDs so I can watch one while sip my coffee and clean the kitchen tomorrow. The lure of Northern Exposure happens every year just about this time.

I think it's the descent into winter. Every year at this time, I watch re-runs of the television series Northern Exposure. I am partial to the episodes that center on Adam and Eve - seasons 2, 3, 4  - because I am a sucker for a chef, shoeless, with religious adherence to a glace de viande. Oh, la la. Blue knitted hat and all.

This is the last day of fall. Not by the calendar, but we are predicted to have 1-3 inches of snow tomorrow, and a venison stew is on my stove. When the light is waning, when the cold is descending, I tune in to re-runs of Northern Exposure in order to brace my self for the winter ahead. I started this tradition back in 2003, when we first realized we would be moving North. From Cambridge, which is, admittedly, already quite North.

Currently, I am cooking and listening to Season Three, episode 18. Shelley sheds her skin, Joel gets some education from the local healer, and Maggie is romanced by the Bear Man. Not the one who gets mauled in the documentary Bear Man - a cuter one, more like Eric Northman, less like Grizzly Adams.

My students are feeling the effects of darker mornings and shorter evenings. They have less light in which to do their homework, the sports are moving indoors, and it's becoming dark, depressing, sad. I feel it, as their teacher. I feel the need to spark into their classroom experience, to inspire them with the light of knowledge in contrast to the darkening of their days.

Oh, the pressure.

But it's good for me to amp up the animation in response to their ennui...but with six months of it ahead of me, I fear for my endurance.

And, just to say, this is not at all what I planned to write about this evening....I had a whole THING...and then it got dark, and the words changed places. Such is the writing life.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's a Book!

Three pounds, two ounces, eight and a half by eleven inches. It has all four corners and plenty of endnotes, and for this mom, it's the most beautiful pile of wood pulp I've ever seen. I won't bore you will endless birthday snapshots, but here's the one I'll be including in the birth announcement after her editor gets to hold her on November 1.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Out of the Final Turn and Into the Home Stretch

Yeah, I know. Horse racing analogy, polo image. Whatever. I have a book to write, people. 

I'm so, so close to being done with this book. So close. I can see it out there, glimmering on the horizon, and the only way I know it's not a mirage is that there's a huge brick wall just behind it with the words "HARPERCOLLINS DEADLINE" printed in Times New Roman 5,000 point font.

November first. It's coming, and damn fast.

That said, I'm announcing last call. Serve up your best quotes and experiences and lay 'em out on the bar for my delectation and possible inclusion in my book.

Here's what I'm looking for:

  • experiences of learning from failure 
  • regret because you or your kid did not learn from failure 
  • examples of not allowing kids to experience the consequences of their actions 
  • tales of resilience, perseverance, and diligence 
  • moments when a fixed mindset hampered learning
  • moments when a growth mindset fostered learning 
  • or anything else you think might be relevant

Send them along to the email address over there on the right side of the screen! 

If I use your quote, I will send along a HarperCollins release, and as I am able to assign initials to your quote, it can be anonymous. 

Thanks, everyone. I now understand why the acknowledgement sections of books are so long. There's simply not enough paper to thank all the people involved in this book. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Strangers on a Train

I'm posting this from a train somewhere in Connecticut on my way home from speaking at a school and doing a segment on the Today Show. The piece was about raising creative, trailblazing kids, and I got to sit next to Blessing of a B Minus author Wendy Mogel. In an amazing coincidence, my talk (about how kids can tap into their intrinsic motivation) was at Noble and Greenough, the morning after Wendy spoke to the parents about letting kids have space to be kids. We got to have dinner together before her talk, and two days later we sat next to each other on the Today Show couch. She's a lovely person, and I'm so happy I had the chance to meet her.

And in a big win for me, I got to say the name Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on live television. Now, if they just would ask me back to talk about Polish poetry, I'd get to say Czeslaw Milosz, the other name I have memorized phonetically.

Here's the clip from the show!

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