Today we read a story called “Polish Your Mud Balls” in Life is a Verb by Patti Digh. We read stories from the book a few times a week and complete the writing exercises that accompany them. The background on the book is that when one of my students, Angela Kania, passed away her mother gave me money to use towards Advanced Comp. because it was one of Angela’s favorite classes. She often wrote about “appreciating the small joys in life” so when I came across this book I knew it was the perfect way to have her legacy live on through our reading and writing about living “life as a verb.”
Today’s story was especially inspiring. You can read a version of it on the author’s blog here.
The whole point of the story is, “Don’t seek perfection. Make messes. Play. Make a mud ball. Love what you are creating, even if it never shines, even if it cracks…don’t fear the showers of silt that make the mud balls of our lives shine.”
The mud balls are an excellent metaphor for life as Patti explains, “We polish on own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives–the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us–that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful, more lasting.”
After we read the story, I had my students write three haiku’s….one about failure, one about perfection, and one about the beauty of dirt (and “dirt” could be a metaphor for all things sad, messy, or ugly in life).
At the end they realized that the poems about failure and “dirt” were just as beautiful, if not more, than those about perfection.
The more we talked about it, the more we thought it would be SO much fun to make our own mudballs….and then we thought, how much fun would it be to make them with the second graders we’ve been mentoring (who happen to be taught by our friend, MaDee’s, mother)?
1. Romeo and Juliet,Indigo Girls (the lyrics still give me chills)
The weekend after her Black Lab Birthday Party we had a Ducky Party with my side of the family who live about two hours away.My family really did it up with all the ducky decor and we even had a balloon send off at the end of the afternoon. We took over 200 pictures, but here are some of the highlights.
When we heard there was an actual (rubber) DUCKY RACE at a local festival we knew we had to take her. When we arrived we were a little saddened to see a very small crowd and only a few duckies barely making it downstream. I guess the wind and the current weren’t quite right, but all the kids cheered and AJH learned to say “Go, go!”
Finally one of the green duckies won the race and I think our own little “Ducky” had a pretty good time!
When: Saturday, April 2nd
Where:Work (teaching high school)
I have been pretty inspired by the blog, The Extraordinary Ordinary, lately.
Today she wrote,
This pretty summarizes why I do what I do. I (we) write and share because it simply makes us feel better…even if no one reads it, even if it’s not considered “good writing,” even if it’s sometimes silly.
Isn’t that enough?
I want to choose faith, and I think that means not only hoping, but truly believing, because there’s a difference between the two. It’s just a really subtle and utterly important difference.”
This reminds me of one of my favorite authors and spiritual leaders, Marianne Williamson, whose spirituality can be summarized with this phrase: I believe in love, not fear. It is only with love that fear can be pushed aside, making room for faith.
1. Just Breathe, Pearl Jam
2. The Ballad of Curtis Lowe, Lynyrd Skynyrd
3. Danny’s Song, Loggins and Messina
4. Soulshine, Gov’t Mule
5. Against the Wind, Bob Seger
6. Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters, Elton John
7. A Change is Gonna Come, Ben Sollee