We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul.
Frances Harper, We Are All Bound Up Together, 1866
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was a voice of Black Suffragists. She was born in 1825 in Maryland to free African American parents. Her parents died when she was young, and she was raised by her aunt and uncle. By the age of 21, she had written her first small book of poetry, Forest Leaves and ultimately published 80 poems. More than a decade later she became the first African American woman to have published a short story, The Two Offers. She co-founded the National Association of Colored Women’s clubs.
While working as a teacher in Pennsylvania, a law was passed that free African Americans in the North were no longer allowed into Maryland, her home state. They would be imprisoned and enslaved.
She refused to give up her seat on the trolley, and only got up when she reached her destination as chronicled in The Liberator, page 3 as seen below.
Her famous speech, We Are All Bound Up Together, read in 1866 at the Eleventh Women’s Rights Convention held in New York City, can be read here.
She spoke at the National Woman’s Rights Convention in New York, held in 1866. The organization split over the suffrage of African American women and were opposed to supporting the fifteenth amendment. Harper left the group, and with Frederick Douglass and others supporting the amendment joined together to form the American Woman Suffrage Association. She was often the only Black woman at the women’s conferences. Through her life, she continued her advocacy for intersectionality (see- it’s not a new idea) in suffrage.
She spent the remainder of her life teaching and encouraging equal rights and education for African American women and founded and/or directed several clubs and organizations for African American women, including the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the Pennsylvania Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
Some of her writings include:
Forest Leaves, poetry, 1845
Bury Me in a Free Land, poetry, 1858
Moses: A Story of the Nile, 1869
Light Beyond the Darkness, 1890
In Memoriam, Wm. McKinley, 1901
Trial and Triumph was one of three novels originally published between 1868-1888 as a serial.
Her first novel, Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted was published in 1892. It was thought sentimental, but it also highlighted several serious social issues at the time, some of which remain today.
As a writer, I am always drawn to the writing lives of the people I choose to profile, and I was pleased to see that Harper was a mentor to other African American writers, including Mary Shadd Cary, Ida B. Wells, Victoria Earle Matthews, and Kate D. Chapman.
On February 1st, a new social media site opened for business: Spoutible.
I’ve been using it since then and it has been smooth sailing, more or less. It’s still in beta and it can be a bit slower than you might be used to on Twitter, and it glitches a little, but the team behind the scenes keeps us in the loop as things progress. The soft opening let people really find their pods, their like-minded people. I’ve found some of the political accounts I followed elsewhere, but my most positive experience thus far has been getting to know the writing community there.
I’d recommend giving it a try, kicking the tires and take a deep breath because the whale puns abound.
The biggest difference that I see on Spoutible is my timeline is filled with the people I actually follow as opposed to Twitter which has been giving me Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, Lauren Boebert and others whose drivel I really don’t need in my life. I would understand if what I’m seeing was newsworthy, but it’s trolling by our Congresspeople. It’s sad and depressing.
Do I expect Spoutible to be perfect? No, of course not, but I kind of like the Nazi- and conspiracy theory-free zone.
I’d also recommend Post, which has been going along for a couple of months (I think) now. It’s more newsie and political, although I expect Spoutible to pick up on those topics as more new voices join up. I can be found at Post under the same handle, kbwriting.
Follow the links.
I do believe I’m done looking for more microblogging sites though.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
– Theodore Roosevelt
January almost always starts off with a bang. I’m organized, I’ve got my calendar, I’ve planned my blog and my classes up to a point, and then around now, not quite halfway through February, it flounders.
It hasn’t floundered. Not really.
I think I may have found a routine, sort of, some motivation, kind of, and even though it’s not perfect, well, nothing is, it seems to be working (for the most part).
I’m still trying to find the perfect storm of organizing while not being overly fastidious and ridiculously detailed.
I’m sitting at my desk (read: dining room table that was actually cleaned last night for dinner, but is currently not even remotely close), surrounded by folders, papers, planner, notebooks, car keys (which actually have a home, but are not there at the moment), and my cell phone.
I have a meeting in ten minutes, and I’m still trying to get this post halfway done so I can put it up tomorrow (Wednesday). It would only be two days late (in my mind) so that’s okay, and that’s what I wanted to talk about.
Since the beginning of the new year, I’ve been on top of things. Not only on top of my website writing, but the site housekeeping is coming up this week (ch-ch-ch-changes), and I’ve been getting ready for my two new classes in March, and working on organizing my two books on Scrivener, my storyboard program.
And, the list goes on and on. Not sure if that’s such a good thing.
Since my success in November with NaNoWriMo, I’ve been really excited about writing. I’ve tried to keep track of my writing time, word counts, ideas for future items, and writing every day. Almost every day. This has been coupled with moving all of my computer folders onto an external hard drive to better organize my writing and be able to see what I have and what I can do with those old workshop pieces. Next up is transcribing those workshop notebooks that go back about a decade.
Things seem to be coming together, and I’m hoping that by writing about it, I won’t jinx it.
I had my final therapy appointment (until I find another therapist) last week. I’ve decided to take a month off and see how I’m feeling. It’s been ten years and therapy has been a lifeline as well as a mental comfort. I’m not sure how I’ll be, but I’m hyperaware of how I feel, and I have my coping. There have been so many changes recently and a lot of the positives began about ten years ago when I found therapy; my faith; my writing. It’s been a lot in ten years and the changes take some getting used to. Including deciding on a new therapist.
I had a funeral last week for a wonderful woman in my writing group. At her funeral (and unrelated to my friend), I believe that I was given inspiration for a short story.
Inspiration is everywhere.
I’ve been on a new social media site, Spoutible. It opens to the public on Thursday and despite its glitches and slowness, it’s amazing. The atmosphere is truly the anti-Twitter. Everyone is so nice and friendly and we’re all following each other. We’re helping each other figure things out and having conversations, and I think I’m going to really like it there.
It’s still in beta (and will continue to be on Thursday) but it’s a million times better than a week-old site should be. I feel safe, I feel lighter, something I didn’t feel on Twitter. I can feel my blood pressure remaining steady. And when I open it, I don’t see Jim Jordan, Ted Cruz, or Lauren Boebert like I do on Twitter at the top of my feed even though I don’t follow any of them. It’s kind of annoying. I mean, I can’t mute everyone, can I?
I will have a Spoutible account attached to this site, something I did not do with Twitter. I’m not sure how I’ll use it but come along for the ride.
That’s it for now. I have an exciting Friday Food coming up at the end of the week. Come back for that!
How do you write? That is the question of the week.
I use my Kindle keyboard, my laptop, and paper and pen. My pens aren’t anything special except to me. They’re ball point. I usually bet them while I’m on vacation in local gift shops. Good pens are also the free ones you get at the hotels. Seriously.
The other day I tried a new pencil. I almost never write in pencil, but I was intrigued by a recent podcast from Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach. I listen to her podcasts pretty regularly or I’ll read the transcript which is what I did in this case.
You can listen or read by following the link below:
I think we all kind of feel that the greats have some kind of special ability besides the actual excellent writing – a comfy chair, a perfect mug of their drink of choice, a light that shines on the paper or the computer and leaves no glare, and if writing on paper, a writing implement.
To be honest, I felt that Stephen King was a felt tip or gel roller type of writer. Or an old-fashioned typewriter like the kind I learned on in high school in the eighties.
But according to Ann Kroeker’s research, Stephen King’s pencil (not pen) of choice is the Blackwing 602. On the side of the pencil is the tagline: HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED. The eraser is larger than on a school pencil but squared and squished.
I had to go to an artist materials supply store. And they cost $2.25 each. I bought a couple to let my upcoming students try them out.
And I have to tell you…
I loved it!
It was smooth. It was fast.
I liked it.
I’m not going to change what I write with (for the most part) but I really did enjoy the feel for it.
Anyway, if you’re reading this Stephen King and you want a couple of extra pencils, email me your address and I’ll send them out. I’ll even spring for shipping.
There is nothing better than sitting quietly with a good journal and fancy pen trying out a new type of tea. This was a tea service that I gave to myself one day, and it was everything. The tea was unique; the food was exquisite, and the journaling was productive.
Have yourself a unique, exquisite, productive day.
This post was a lot to write. And rewrite. I hope you will be able to draw out something for yourselves as I call myself out and set my intentions for the next few weeks. If you are inclined to add anything or offer any suggestions, please do so in the comments. they would be most welcome.
I offered a preview last week of goals, resolutions, whatever they’re to be called this year. That can be found here if you need a reminder of my first thoughts. At the end of that post, I said that I was going to take a break, read a chapter, play a game, and get dinner ready. I did almost none of those things. I’m sure we had dinner, but I can’t think of what it was. Even Saturday night’s dinner was in flux since no one took out the meat from the freezer despite multiple requests. Last night also. (Note that these requests were not always towards others in the house; I told myself to take them out and then forgot to, so it was a multi-person failure.) Pasta until the meat defrosts, I guess.
It’s probably not a bad thing that our (my) new year is off to a less than stellar start since the years that I’m all gung-ho and organized for will often fizzle out by February.
I plan to use my Instagram more, and that was one thing I did do last week: a post on intentions there. You can view it and click to visit there from my sidebar on the left. I will share the picture below since I’m going to try and use it as a guide for my intention setting.
The words I used were:
Each one has a different thought process behind it, some from years past, others from spiritual direction, some that simply always come up again and again (like focus and intentionality). I may add some as the weeks go by and I settle into my new year.
None of these words are easy to implement in my day-to-day life. I plan to keep a small copy of the list, perhaps with the picture and reflect on it through January, as a mantra, a guide, an accountability checklist. By accountability, I simply mean is this something that I keep in my head. Is it something that I’m aware that I’m doing or am I ignoring it because it’s hard? It’s not a grading system – no A’s or B’s, no failing or unsatisfactory. Am I doing (it, whatever it is) with intentionality or am I sleep-walking through another day?
One thing that I can take a bow on is the following: About a year or two ago, I made the decision that I did not need the last word in online discussions. I also did not need to engage with everyone there. I will still call out lies and misinformation, but at some point, it’s time to walk away. Before I made this decision, I was anxiety-riddled constantly, needing to convince people of the truth, of the facts. This decision needs to be recommitted to every day. I need to know when to walk away, when to push. I’ve been proud of myself, and while this isn’t a new year focus it is something that continues to be encouraged. Every day is a new day.
I will still speak out.
In between birthday fun for my daughter, trying out new Christmas gifts, and just relaxing with the family, I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday watching the vote for Speaker of the House. I have never seen such a shitshow on the floor of Congress, and it was a despicable showing on the second anniversary of January 6th. Two Republicans nearly came to blows, and one had to be dragged away. I was proud of my party; of their commitment to the people, to the advancement of new leadership without in-fighting and acrimony. Over the weekend, I posted part of the speech given by Minority Leader, NY Representative Hakeem Jeffries, where he took us to church so to speak. It was exhilarating, it was motivating, it was inspirational. I look forward to the day when he is Speaker. The Republicans can say they’re behavior was a lesson in democracy, but in reality, it was a lesson in dysfunction and chaos.
As I told my class last semester, everything is political. Everything. From the water that flows through our pipes to the roads we drive on, from the schools to the garbage pick-ups. We all need to be involved, every year, every election, every race. I guess that’s one of my goals. Civics 101.
Apart from politics, I need to see what priorities I need to keep and pull to the forefront. I’ve come up with three in particular, although there is always room for more. They are:
I need it all, and I need to learn how to blend them, how to connect them, how to live them, and how to balance them. I should add that word to the photo and list above: balance.
It’s all a balancing act. I’m a mom. I was a teacher. I can multi-task. I can also drop all the spinning plates. It happens. I need to accept that and move on – No. Not on; forward.
As I look at each of those words on the list and the three main places I want to focus on, how do I make it happen? How do I use all the tools available to me without constantly running around in circles, thinking I’m succeeding, but really only standing in the same place?
The first thing I’m going to do is to put a note on my calendar, about a week after Ash Wednesday. Lent is a good time for reevaluation, and I can see how and if I’ve moved forward between now and then.
I’m also going to list one specific, tangible goal here related to the three subjects of therapy (which includes talk, writing, art, etc.), writing, and faith. As I’ve said, and as I believe, they are all interconnected in my life. I rely on my faith in my writing, I write about my faith, talking through things (even if only with myself) – it’s all related and yet still separate enterprises that need their own nurturing and development.
The words sound easy, but we all know that it is also hard. Hard to change, hard to grow, hard to become something different, hard to change. With the internet and social media, we can all be so self-aware and easy to be swayed towards something, even simple, non-hazardous things: a glass or water or Diet Coke?
I know that I’m more outgoing in certain ways since becoming a regular online. I wonder how I managed without the online community that sustains me as much as my family does. I speak my mind more, sometimes to my detriment. I say yes more without saying no first. I realized that I protect myself by declining, and then “changing my mind.” It lets me have the time to think, but I’m getting more comfortable with saying yes (and no when appropriate).
How do I set goals and keep myself on a trajectory of moving forward?
NaNoWriMo really motivated me to write every day, and while I haven’t been writing every day, I have been writing a lot more. I don’t mind the writing without the external validation despite really loving (and needing) the validation. Writing a book won’t work that way, however. I can’t publish every little piece online, can I?
Every year, dozens of articles, posts, podcasts and the like tell us what we need to do to make this a successful year; the one year we will finally get things done, handled: lose weight, clean the house, raise healthy, well-adjusted children, start our own businesses, and whatever else that will make us content this year.
I have never figured out what it takes to make new year’s resolutions that will stick. I try. I’ve tried renaming them: goals, plans, focus, changes, intentions (my personal favorite and the one I will continue to stick with), and aspirations.
On Sunday, I scrolled through my emails and opened the Target ad, and in a few minutes of turning pages in this first advertisement of the new year, I saw what Target and their advertising consultants think we should be focused on in our resolutions for beginning and following through on in this year:
Tax Software and Office Supplies for Taxes
Small appliances – air fryers, roombas, vacuums
A thirty-page ad.
How long will many of the consumers stick with the new exercise regimen? No between meal snacks? Brushing teeth at lunch? Not ripping off a piece of tin foil and covering the dinner plate instead of using those expensive (and very clean) containers?
To be honest, I already have three doctor’s appointments scheduled plus my physical, so I guess I’m ahead of my own procrastination. I’m also planning on replacing all the glasses (eyewear) in our family this spring.
This year, though, my focus is on my writing, expanding my writing adjacent activities, and my faithfulness and becoming centered on my spiritual life. I’m not sure precisely what that means; I’m still defining what I’m looking for, what I need in my world, and what my specific intentions are. I plan to form them in the next week and share them. This is also one reason that I reevaluate my goals and intentions throughout the year. It works out not quite quarterly: Back to School/Jewish New Year, Lent/Easter, Secular New Year. While these times are somewhat etched in stone, I still leave room for reevaluation.
This year is beginning with a few points of stress. My therapist is retiring, and I am in the process of searching for a new one. I begin that tomorrow morning, after Mass. For the last couple of years I’ve wondered if I still needed to go regularly for therapy, but in contemplating stopping, I realized that just simply having it on my calendar gives me a conversation to look forward to, a time to see, and that alone seems to curb my anxiety. Nothing is cured; anxiety doesn’t work that way, but it is part of my recovery. Those little things add up and make a difference; they give me a focus, they offer a routine, a schedule that I can look forward to and as it did when I started (with both therapy, writing, and mass) it gave me a schedule to follow. Many of these techniques remind me of posts from neurodivergent folks and how they live their lives. I wouldn’t call myself neurodivergent, but who knows. There’s something to be said for trying something new. Letting chips fall where they may and seeing what works. Including reusing cliches.
Something I said to my husband about one of our children – if this child was diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum we would make allowances, we would accommodate some of their needs and expectations. Just because they don’t wear the label doesn’t mean that we can’t still make the accommodations that they need, whether we call them quirks or personality or neurodiversity.
There is no reason that I can’t make those same allowances for myself or to expect those same allowances for myself if it makes me, helps me function better. Whatever that means for me.
I’m going to take a break, read a chapter, play a game on my kindle and work on getting dinner ready. Later in the week, I will share my New Year’s intentions. I hope to see many of you along on the journey, whether you’re here as a spectator or a participant. No change is too small. No intention too minor.
I keep reading on social media how the week between Christmas and New Year’s is a missing week. I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but I would offer that it feels like one, long continuous day. My husband has been working as have my kids, but the rest of the time it feels as though not a moment has passed, and now suddenly it is 2023, and we’re off to the races and making resolutions (not quite yet) and making our beds (ha, ha, I doubt it!), and trying to make this year better than the last.
Our year ended with my (hopefully continuing) recovery from falling down the stairs and being rear-ended and losing our (and finding another miraculously) car, so in some respects it will, well, I’m not going to jinx it. It will be what it is.
I heard a homily the other day about living in the present. I am not good at that. The homilist went on to say that looking back creates anxiety and looking forward to the future creates depression, something I’ve heard before, but being in the present moment will keep you grounded. It’s a nice idea, but like saying cheer up to the person with depression, it doesn’t quite work for everyone. Nothing does. We try what we will try, and hope for the best, and move forward. Just keep swimming as Dory says.
Although swimming’s not my forte.
Unfortunately, I did not complete my reading challenge. For the last several years I’ve chosen my age as the number of books that I commit to read for the year. I’ve surpassed that usually, but this year, I fell short: only 49 books. I have written more this year and I think that’s part of why my reading fell short. Any time I would have had for reading, I was working on NaNoWriMo and my book while also planning out next semester’s classes. I mentioned in another post that I’d like to plan a writer’s retreat, but that is in its infancy. I’m not sure that I could facilitate such a large undertaking, but who knows? I hadn’t thought about teaching classes (not seriously anyway), and while I’ve still been anxiety-riddled, I did get some good feedback, and that has helped my confidence and motivation.
For 2023, my reading challenge number is 56. I’ve already started with a couple of devotionals and a Michael Crichton book I started last month. My brother got me Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, one of the books on my wish list, so that’s next! Wish me luck.
We did have some astonishing things happen in the last few days of the year and since Christmas.
For one thing, we actually finished an entire bag of bagels without throwing any of them away wastefully. This might fall under miraculously because usually by the second bagel we forget we have them especially if it’s a workday.
We also completely finished our Christmas roast beef with no leftovers. We had our Christmas dinner, we brought a plate to our son who was working (complete with dessert), and I made two Shepherd’s Pies throughout the week.
We also discovered some new television, or should I say streaming? We had dropped all of our television and streaming services except cable (that’s going soon) and Disney Plus since we watch it all the time, but for vacation we re-signed for HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix. My son wanted HBO, so he subscribed, and Hulu was on a good deal, and we were waiting for the holidays to catch up on our Netflix shows. There are really quite a lot of things to watch.
We finished as much as we could of Stargirl, which has one more season before cancellation. I finally got to see Black Adam and Belfast, both highly recommended for differing reasons.
We also started Wednesday (wasn’t interested when I first heard about it, but I am obsessed – it is phenomenal!) and we finished Derry Girls. Today, my daughter and I are going to watch Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, after she gets home from work and after dinner.
Waiting in the wings are the Banshees of Inisherin and another re-watch of Spider-Man: No Way Home (I loved that movie!)
Writing Intentions are taking a bit more effort to form along with other New Year’s intentions. They will be in another post that I’m hoping to write this week. I’m also thinking of ways to earn money with my writing, but that is also for the more in-depth writing intentions post. I’ve seen writers I respect on Substack, but I’m not sure if that’s for me. I enjoy my time here on this site, and I don’t want to create several spaces that are just repetitions of one another. It deserves further study, and any suggestions and thoughts are welcome in the comments.
I’m hoping to keep up my optimism despite some sweeping changes, a few of which are/were unplanned and unwelcome, but moving forward is all that can be done this week and the next and reevaluate as things come up.
The theme and, I suppose the objective also, of Advent is waiting in joyful hope. This is often the titles of books marketed to Catholics for their Advent reading. And that is really what it is. Becoming Catholic taught me that the Christmas season begins on Christmas Day, and the season of Advent is a special time in its own right. Last year, I was given a set of four candles for my Advent wreath and this year I have coupled those candles with my daily reflection book, my daily readings, and beginning on Tuesday, the Novena of the Immaculate Conception. However, this Advent, while I am in joyful hope and I am waiting for the birth of Christ, I am also struggling with parts of my faith and parts of my life.
I’ve spent this entire month writing for Nanowrimo, just stream of consciousing my way through my book about my travels to Wales, and I’ve made great progress. I am very pleased. I have almost reached the 50,000 word goal and I anticipate that I will complete it before the 30th.
My personal update on the Home page explained my accident, and I believe I am in the must get worse before it gets better stage of recovery. My ankle is much better, and I am driving a little, but not far, staying in our small town when I am able. My husband has been doing everything. While I can cook, I can’t do any lifting and standing for a long period of time is difficult. Thanksgiving actually was the least stressful I have ever had. I gave a lot of directions and stirred one dish and added marshmallows to another on my own, but I had to rely on everyone else to do the heavy lifting. There were hardly any of the usual arguments, we put the turkey in the oven around 10:30am, and then everyone was free until about 4:30 when the sides would need to be prepared. I couldn’t believe how well it went.
I was even able to go to church for Thanksgiving mass. I wasn’t sure how it would go; it’s been just over a year since we lost our priest, and while our new priest is a joy, I do not like change. I wondered if we’d keep the traditions that we’ve had, that I’ve gotten used to over the last few years, and I was happy to see that most traditions held.
Our church gives all the parishioners a loaf of bread and a short prayer for our Thanksgiving table. It is one of the things I love about our church – those seemingly little things that are so personal.
Right before Thanksgiving, my husband was driving my daughter home from work when they were rear-ended. Hard. No one was hurt, PBTG, but because of the holiday we won’t know about the car until tomorrow or Tuesday. It needed to be towed from the accident. This is a struggle, and a sadness, and it is hard to get past the awfulness of possibly losing the car, something that was so important to our family. Of course, we are so relieved and grateful that no one was hurt, and it was only materials that may be lost.
Last weekend, I returned from my annual retreat. The theme was Change. And I have gone through so many changes, and many more continue to happen, whether I like it or not. I had to laugh when I found out the theme. I discovered it soon after my first reconciliation with our new priest, and after giving him the litany of things that are bothering me, and frustrating me, he commented, “Boy, you’re going through a lot of changes.” Yes. Yes, I am! In addition to the new priest, my therapist is retiring (soon!) among other things.
And I shouldn’t forget the good changes. I taught for the first time in a long time. This was for adults and it was a writing class. Next semester, I’m teaching two, so that is both exciting and terrifying. This one went well (I think), and I hope the next ones go as well and better (crosses fingers). As with all teachers, I spent more than I made, but such is the life of the classroom. I’ll hope to downsize my affinity (obsession) with handouts and maybe lower my overhead.
I’m hoping that with this Advent, I can slow down. I can focus. I can focus on my faith, and also on how I’m approaching the things in my life. It is a good time to reevaluate and reassess and wonder about the changes that will inevitably be coming, whether I like it or not.
Through it all, I’m trying to keep my perspective and my faith. This is the first day of the Advent journey which will ultimately end with the Birth of Christ. But of course, that is only the beginning, isn’t it?
Some photos that I wanted to share: The first two are works-in-progress sketches on I did on my retreat from things that I saw around me in the dining and the conference rooms. The third photo is the statue of Harriet Tubman and William Seward outside the library where the Nanowrimo Kick-Off was held on November 1st. I was also there when they dedicated the statue. I love history.