Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#SOL17: Counting

The Other Side of Fear (M.A. Reilly, 2017)
Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.” - Gilbert, Elizabeth. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (p. 23). 

In a few days I turn a year older. With Rob's death I have some new thinking about birthdays. Now, they mark time alive--time living. Turning a year older is cause for celebration. The day after my birthday would have been (so hard to write it with this tense) Rob's. I used to kid him that before we met I celebrated my birthday for at least a week, if not longer. Now, it's hard to recall a time when my birthday was celebrated separate from Rob's birthday. Two Scorpions. Earlier in the week Devon asked me, "Are you the 19th or the 20th?" So entageled were our birthdays that even our son only knew them as two sequential days in November. For nearly 30 years we celebrated both of our birthdays on either his birthday, mine, or the closest weekend.

In two years, I will be as old as Rob was when he found out he had cancer. It seems odd that I could ever be his same age. He was always four years older.  He was that young child just turning four who hid beneath his parent's kitchen table rather than face the birthday party he did not want in Brooklyn. 3,100 miles east I was turning one day older in Dublin. Time is always relative. 

Living deliberately requires an acknowledgement, if not an embrace, of ambiguity. And it is this unknowing that often gives permission for fear to rise. And rise it does. Fear permeates like a fine Dublin mist when the path I am making is unclear. It soaks the skin, bloats the cells so that where I begin and end is something of a puzzle. Yet, not knowing is a common state, a frequent way of being in the world. The ambiguity of life is living's most salient feature.

Later this week I'll mark another year on the calendar. I'll do what Rob can never do: grow older. There's an odd comfort that comes with counting. It masks the uncertainty by giving all we cannot hold, a number.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Seven Books to Teach Rhyme from Lee & Low Publishers

Adlerman, Danny. (2006). How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck?. Illustrated by Various Artists.  NewYork: Lee & Low Books.

Castro, Elena, Flores, Barbara M. & Eddie Hernández. (). Shiny, Shiny Little Star. Illustrated by Michael Ramírez. NewYork: Lee & Low Books.

Castro, Elena, Flores, Barbara M. & Eddie Hernández. (). My Five Puppies. Illustrated by Michael Ramírez. NewYork: Lee & Low Books.

from Children of Long Ago

Little, Lessie Jones.  
Children of Long Ago. Introduction by Eloise Greenfield. Illustrated by Jan Gilchrist. NewYork: Lee & Low Books.

Reid, Rob. Wave Goodbye. Illustrated by Lorraine Williams. NewYork: Lee & Low Books. 

Suen, Anastasia. Baby BornIllustrated by Chih-Wei Chang. NewYork: Lee & Low Books. 

Weatherford, Carole Boston. Jazz Baby. Illustrated by Laura Freeman. NewYork: Lee & Low Books.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

#SOL17: What Sorrow Reveals

An Offering (M.A. Reilly, 2011)

I thought grief was an experience to move through, like a figure walking through calendar pages amassing new understandings that would ease and redefine the pain. Grief does not yield to time as I first thought. It is impervious to calendars as it has never been a linear matter. Rather,  grief is more fluid, less borderlands. It unfolds and refolds new landscape and old triggers revealing what was cherished, forgotten, lost, and remembered. It is both sweet and bitter.

Most everything animate is a trigger. A couple out walking. The call of birds from trees. The rustle of wind through leaves. The change of seasons. The random mention of John Cage on a radio show. Most everything inanimate is a trigger too. Every read book in a house built from books. The creak of a stair. A found post it note wedged in the back of a drawer. The forty journals left behind. The brush used to lather when shaving. The anticipation that still arrives with Friday evenings.  Habit is the largest trigger.

There has not been a day since Rob's death when some recollection has risen sharply and reminded me of what Rob can no longer experience. Life pulses on. Perhaps that has been the hardest to accept--the grand indifference of life and this understanding of how life presses on has allowed me a few insights.

  1. Feelings are not truths, nor are they doors into the future. They are quick moments of the present that tell me: I will not die from this loss regardless of the sharp awareness that still happens when the enormity of the loss swamps me. Time does not avert the flood of feeling, although it does reduce its duration.
  2. Acceptance is a choice and perhaps more importantly, a practice. Each matters. Choosing to accept Rob's death is also choosing to accept responsibility for my life. Practice at each is often far more deliberate than how I lived previously. 
  3. In the span of five months,  life as I knew changed dramatically. Loss like this can happen again. The best antidote to such uncertainty is to live and love deliberately, beginning with my son. 
  4. Love remains solid, informing after Rob's death. Love did not die. Knowing I have been so well loved centers me each day. Rob's love continues in the absence of his corporeal self. I remain the most loved person on this planet as I carry with me the love that formed me. I did not know that such a gift would be revealed as sorrow edged.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Vote Against the NRA: Here's The Score Cards for NJ , VA, and Utah

The only way we will ever see comprehensive gun control in the United States is to vote out of office every politician with an A rating from the NRA who is currently in Congress, the White House, and our local state houses. We need to replace these people with those who actually represent OUR interests.

Here is a list of A rated politicians up for election.

Do your part.  Do not return these men and women with A ratings from the NRA to their political posts or to new posts.  We cannot afford their callous disregard for life.

In NJ: Vote for Phil Murphy. He earned an F rating from the NRA. Hurray!  Meanwhile, Kim Guadagno earned an A Rating from the NRA. She's a liability.

This the gubernatorial election in NJ.

I'll be voting for Phil Murphy and I hope you will too.

For friends in Virginia: Get the vote out for Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring. None of us can afford NRA "A" rated "Ed" Gillespie, Jill Vogel or John Adams. 

For friends in Utah (District 3), Please get out and vote for Kathie Allen. NRA "A" rated candidate, John Curtis is a mistake. We cannot afford any more NRA fans in Congress.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

60+ Picture Books Featuring Resilient, Problem Solvers

"resilience is the ability to cope with adversity and come back or rebound from extreme hardships or events (Benard 2004; Petty 2009; Ginsburg 2006)." from here.

Strong Families/Strong Traditions: Building Resilience from and with Elders
1.    Bridges, Shirin Yim. (2013). Ruby's Wish. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
2.    Campbell, Nicola I. (2017). A Day with Yayah. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books.
3.    Castaneda, Omar S. (1995). Abuela’s Weave. Illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez. New York: Lee and Low Books.
4.    Cheng, Andrea. (2003)Grandfather Counts. Illustrated by Ange Zheng. New York: Lee and Low Books.
5.    Crews, Donald. (1998). Bigmama’s. New York: Greenwillow.
6.    de la Peña, Matt. (2015). Last Stop on Market Street. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.
7.    Dorros, Arthur. (1997). Abuela. New York: Puffin.
8.    Flett, Julie. (2014). Wild Berries. Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books.
9.    Erdrich, Louise. (1996). Grandmother’s Pigeon. Illustrated by Jim La Marche. New York: Hyperion Books.
10.Greenfield, Eloise.(1996). Grandpa’s Face. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. New York: Puffin Books.
11. Krishnaswami, Uma. (2016). Chachaji's Cup. Illustrated by Soumya Sitaraman. New York: Lee and Low Books.
12.Mason, Margaret. (2015). These Hands. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
13.McFarlane, Shirley. (2016). Waiting for the Whales. Illustrated by Ron Lightburn. Vancouver, BC: Orca Book Publishers.
14. Mora, Pat. (1994). Pablo’s Tree. Illustrated by Cecily Lang. New York: Lee and Low Books.
15. Polacco, Patricia. (1997). Thunder Cake. New York: Puffin Books.
16. Ryan, DyAnne DiSalvo. (2000). Grandpa’s Corner Store. New York: HarperCollins.
17. Shasha, Mark. (2017). Night of the Moonjellies. Purple House Press.
18. Stolz, Mary. (1990). Storm in the Night. Illustrated by Pat Cummings. New York: HarperCollins.
19. Velasquez, Eric. (2004). Grandma’s Records. New York: Bloomsbury.

Resilience Comes from Being in the Present Moment, From Being Curious
1.    Aman, Kimiko. (2017).  The Fox Wish. Illustrated by Komako Sakai. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books.
2.    McGhee, Holly M. (2017). Come With Me. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers.
3.    Morstad, Julie. (2016). Today. Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books.
4.    Woodward, Carolyn. (2011). Singing Away the Dark. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books.

from Trombone Shorty. Illustration by Bryan Collier.

People Who Show Resilience
1.    Andrews, Troy. (2015). Trombone Shorty. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
2.    Clinton, Chelsea. (2017). She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. Illustrated by Alexander Boiger. New York: Philomel Books.
3.    Giovanni, Nikki. (2007). Rosa. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. New York: Square Fish.
4.    Heelan, Jamee Riggio. (2002). Can You Hear a Rainbow? The Story of a Deaf Boy Named Chris. Illustrated by Nicola Simmonds. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.
5.    Krull, Kathleen.(2003).  Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez. Illustrated by Yuyi Morales. New York: HMH Books for Young Readers.
6.    Markel, Michelle. (2013). Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909.  Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. New York: Balzer & Bray.
7.    Miki, Roy & Slavia Miki (2014). Dolphin SOS. Illustrated by Julie Flett. Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books.
8.    Nelson, Kadir. (2013). Nelson Mandela. New York: Katherine Tegen Books.
9.    Novesky, Amy. (2015). Me, Frida. Illustrated by David Diaz. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
10.Otheguy, Emma (2017). Martí's Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad. Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. New York: Lee & Low Books.
11.Rockwell, Anne. (2002). Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth. Illustrated by R, Gregory Christie.
12.Thompson, Laurie Ann. (2015). Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. New York: Schwartz & Wade.
13.Tonatiuh, Duncan. (2014). Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. New York: Harry N. Abrams.
14.Warren, Sarah. (2012). Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers. Illustrated by Robert Casilla. New York: Two Lions.
15.Winter, Jonah. (2009). Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx / La juez que crecio en el Bronx. Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Characters Who Show Resilience
1.    Asch, Frank. (2014). Moondance. New York: Aladdin.
2.    Argueta, Jorge. (2007). Alfredito Flies Home. Illustrated by Luis Garay. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
3.    Ashley, Bryan. (1992). Cleversticks. Illustrated by Derek Brazell. New York: HarperCollins.
4.    Barber, Barbara E. (2013). Allie's Basketball Dream. Illustrated by Darryl Ligasan. New York: Lee and Low Books.
5.    Blabey, Aaron. (2009). Sunday Chutney. Honesdale, PA: Front Street.
6.    Buitrago, Jario. (2015). Two White Rabbits. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
7.    Choi, Yangsook. (2003). The Name Jar. New York: Dragonfly Books.
8.    Conway, David. (2011). Lila and the Secret of Rain. Illustrated by Jude Daly. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
9.    Cornwall, Gala. (2017). Jabari Jumps. Somerset, MA: Candlewick.
10. Danticat, Edwidge. (2015). Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation. Illustrated by Leslie Staub. New York: Dial.
11. Faruqi, Reem. (2015). Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story. Illustrated by Lea Lyon. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
12. Jeffers, Oliver. (2011). Stuck. New York: Philomel Books.
13.Jeffers, Oliver. (2014). How to Catch a StarNew York: Philomel Books.
14. Lionni, Leo. (1975). Tico and the Golden WingsNew York: Knopf.
15. Pett, Mark. (2014). The Girl and the Bicycle.  New York: Simon and Schuster.
16. Ross, Peggy. (2013). Say Something. Illustrated by Lea Lyon. Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House Publishers.
17. Spires, Ashley. (2017). The Thing Lou Couldn't Do. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.
18. Vandever, Daniel W. (2017). Fall in Line, Holden! Flagstaff, AZ: Salina Bookshelf.  
19. Wallace, Ian. (2005). Boy of the Deeps. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
20. Williams, Laura. (2017). The Can Man. Illustrated by Craig Orback. New York: Lee & Low Books.

from Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the Clouds.
1.    Alarcón, Francisco. (2017). Family Poems for Every Day of the Week/Poemas familiares para cada día de la semana. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. New York: Lee & Low Books.
2.    Argueta, Jorge. (2016). Somos como las nubes / We Are Like the CloudsIllustrated by Alfonso Ruano. Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books.
3.    Frank, John. (2014). Lend a Hand: Poems about Giving. Illustrated by London Ladd. New York: Lee & Low Books.

  • Benard, B. 2004. Peer programs: A major strategy for fostering resiliency in kids. The Peer Facilitator Quarterly, 9 (3).
  • Ginsburg, K. 2006. A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens. New York: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Petty, K. 2009. Deployment: Strategies for Working With Kids in Military Families. Minneapolis, MN: Redleaf Press.