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June 2021 Bookish Resolutions

It’s hard to believe it’s July already.

June was a tough month for me. I’ve always felt that I’ve been operating in life with a smudged map, but this month I’ve felt like my map has completely blown away. So I’m trying to embrace a sit spot for a little bit of a think instead of rushing off on my next adventure. This is particularly challenging for impatient me.

When one of my critique partners sent me this blog post about goal setting, one particular line stood out to me: “Goals are amazing but unless our goals map to growth, we’re simply writing a to-do list.” Yes, that’s definitely what I feel like. I am checking off my to do list instead of growing, so I decided that I am going to revise my bookish resolutions to reflect growth.

That’s why this month’s blog post will contain not only my goals from June but also new goals.

Old goal: Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I’m certainly failing this challenge. None read this month.

New goal : I’m still going to pursue this challenge. At the end of the year, I may simply need to cull some of the books that I had hoped to read.

Old goal: Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I could put “the river” by Helen Humphreys in either this category or the next. Whichever one, I love this book! 

Humphreys writes about a small part of the Napanee River where she has a waterside property. She writes about its history, what she has found there, the animals and plants there.

I do disagree with Humphreys’ belief that the river is indifferent to her despite her love for it. I believe if you love nature, it will love you back, just maybe not in a “human” way.

So many things to ponder, but I’ll leave you with a couple: 

“The British naturalist and writer Roger Deakin once said that watching a river is the same as watching a fire in the hearth. Both are moving and alive, and the feeling from watching both them is a similar one.”

and

“The river has pushed its banks many times. Does it have memory of this, or a reach beyond itself that it can feel, that it remembers? What does it feel its true size is? Does the river have a kind of consciousness?”

New goal: I’m still going to pursue this challenge.

Old goal: Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“Bluets” by Maggie Nelson

I listened to this book in audio form, because that was the only way I could without buying it. I’ve never taken to audiobooks, and I still don’t appreciate them, despite the fact that one of my primary modes of learning is auditory. Perhaps I miss the tactile sensation of turning pages. Also, I don’t know how people can multitask when they are listening to an audiobook. If I do this then I am constantly stopping and rewinding, because I have missed something. Finally, I love to write down quotes of my favourite parts, and this is hard to do when you are listening to something.

Well anyway, I love the book. There are 240 prose poems all related to the colour blue. Apparently half of westerners’ favourite colour is blue, and that includes me, so I enjoyed all the snippets of blue information—such as learning about the “blue” people (Tuareg), and that indigo blue was originally the “devil’s dye” until it was made holy, and that the colour of the universe was accidentally declared as turquoise—interspersed with philosophy and poetry.

You can read more about it in this article:

New goal: I will continue with this goal.

Old goal: Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

My summer writing challenge, as set by my daughter, is to write a novel, but I confess we have slacked off lately. I need more motivation to do this.

New goal: Continue with this goal, but find a way to actually do this. Ideas?

Added goal: Read related literature. I need to figure out an actual number.

Old goal: Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

Favourites:

“Collectively Speaking” by Chelsey Clammer

So much to love in this essay, especially the term “a resilience of women”

One of my favourite quotes:

“As an editor, I hold people’s stories. As a trauma survivor, I help those stories find their voices. Because it’s the experiences I’ve had that guide me in encouraging other survivors to find a voice. It’s the editor in me that helps to shape that story into something tangible—something we can see. Read. I give feedback about specifics. The mechanics. But as a female trauma survivor, I hold. Help. It might look like I’m by myself, but I’m never alone. I’m holding people’s stories. Guiding, even, the therapeutic activity of crafting a voice for your experience. I’ve read about so much trauma—have seen the ways so many people have survived to tell the story of those who haven’t.”

“The Glass Sliver” by Robyn Fisher

I can totally relate to her experience.

Favourite quote:

“Sometimes, this whole caregiving thing does seem like a wilderness experience. I mean, you got your sandwich, your canteen, your first aid kit. You even got your map and compass. But you’ve never been on this trail before, it’s all new to you. And last night’s storm washed part of it away, so the map does not resemble the path anymore. You’re bushwhacking now, hoping you’re not too far off the trail, and the way will show itself soon.”

“Le Pen de Amazon” by Helen K. Hedrick

Hedrick writes an essay using a choice of words from the book she is reading. I love this idea!

“The Birds: June is for Juncos” by Leanne Ogasawara

“Until the pandemic, I had always considered myself to be a city person. I never thought much about ecological issues until I came back to the US in mid-life. To be sure, Japan was not perfect in terms of the environment–not by any means. But I think it is safe to say that in Japan nature is not held as “standing reserve.” Rather than seen merely as a resource to be used, nature and the seasons are something to which people in Japan strive to be attuned. Deep listening is an especially humbling act, as the ephemeral and transient quality of sound demands attention and focus.”

New goal: Add in some analysis. I will analyze what I like about two creative nonfiction essays per month, which I hope will inform my writing.

Old goal: Read 5 picture books per month

My favourites:

“I Talk Like a River” by Jordan Scott; illustrated by Sydney Smith

The main character is comforted when his father tells him that his stuttering is like talking like a river. Based on a true story.

“A Year of Everyday Wonders” by Cheryl B. Klein; pictures by Qin Leng

A year of firsts and a few seconds and some lasts.

“In a Garden” by Tim McCanna; illustrated by Aimée Sicuro

A rhyming picture book.

My favourite rhyme:

“In a garden

full of green

many moments 

go unseen.”

“A Thousand No’s” by DJ Corchin; pictures by Dan Dougherty

The main character gets a lot of “Nos” for her idea, so she asks for help.

New goal: Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

Old goal: Submit one story to a contest per season.

I submitted a poem and a creative nonfiction essay to The Fringe Literary Contest.

I submitted a creative nonfiction essay to the Amy MacRae award.

New goal: Continue with this goal.

Old goal: Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Outside” virtual book launch—Sean McCammon with Susanne Ruder (New Star Books)

New goal: I’m going to be flexible about this.

Old goal: Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I have been working on my American poetry course. 

New goal: I am going to be flexible about this.

Old goal: Attend a writing group session per week.

Now that it’s summer, one of my writing groups is only meeting every second week, so it may not be doable.

New goal: Meet when we can over the summer and revisit in September.

Old goal: Blog at least twice a month.

New goal: I will continue this.

Old goal: Weekly treasure:

New goal: I will continue this. It’s one of my favourites.

Challenges:

Old goal: HaikuForTwo

I wrote three this month.

New goal: Continue, as I love this.

New goal: I’m going to go back to doing something similar to the 100 day challenge where I break down some of the stuff I want to do on a daily basis. It helped me complete the German novel I wanted to read. Currently, I am reading a horticultural therapy related novel, two chapters a day.

It was good to reevaluate my goals and see what was working and what was not. How’s your goal setting going?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

April 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read two: 

“Dear Scarlet: The Story of my Postpartum Depression” by Teresa Wong

and 

“Der Erste Tag Vom Rest Meines Lebens” by Lorenzo Marone

Click here to read about them.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I finally finished my first course, and with it my textbook written by Mitchell Hewson.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read three.

“the lost spells” by Robert Macfarlane; illustrated by Jackie Morris

This, a companion book to “The Lost Words”, is meant to be spoken aloud. The pictures are as gorgeous as the words. This is one book that I will buy as gifts for people.

Click here for a taste.

“If I Knew Then: Finding wisdom in failure and power in aging” by Jann Arden

I love this memoir. Arden writes like she is talking to you as a best friend, which makes it a pleasurable read. A lot of the book is about embracing your cronehood—something I wholeheartedly agree with—but also about Arden’s past as the daughter of an alcoholic father and an alcoholic herself.

Favourite quotes:

On her dad:

“I am starting to forgive him for being absent, even for being mad all the time. I realize now that he wasn’t mad at us kids or at Mom; he was mad at his own life. “

and

“Sometimes the devil you don’t know isn’t as bad as the devil you do know, and I will never let anybody tell me any different.”

“The Reason I Jump” by Naoki Higashida

A fascinating, much needed, and rather poetically written look into the mind of an autistic teenager, written by a 13 year old autistic boy.

As someone studying horticultural therapy, I appreciated the following passages:

“… our fondness for nature is, I think, a little bit different from everyone else’s. I’m guessing that what touches you in nature is the beauty of the trees and the flowers and things. But to us people with special needs, nature is as important as our own lives. The reason is that when we look at nature, we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world, and our entire bodies get recharged. However often we’re ignored and pushed away by other people, nature will always give us a good big hug, here inside our hearts. 

“…nature is always there at hand to wrap us up, gently: glowing, swaying, bubbling, rustling…You might think that it’s not possible that nature could be a friend, not really. But human beings are part of the animal kingdom too, and perhaps us people with autism still have some leftover awareness of this, buried somewhere deep down.”

Higashida also writes his own stories, and I really love his story called “The Black Crow and the White Dove”. 

I had no idea that the book had been turned into a movie!

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Done!

Here are my favourites:

“We all have privilege to some degree. What we do with it matters.” by Taslim Jaffer

Favourite quote:

“As a brown Muslim woman, I have been the butt of jokes, the target of overtly racist comments and on the receiving end of microaggressions that prick like tiny needles but nonetheless leave scars. 

But I also go unseen in other situations. Like when I am fair enough to escape colourism or when my Muslim identity isn’t obvious because I don’t wear a hijab. Or, like in the case with the clerk casually referring to the “China virus,” I am not the racial group being targeted. 

In those circumstances, I am privileged enough to decide to say something or not.”

“I lost my mother. This is how I know when she’s with me” by Kandace Chapple

Do you have a sign from a departed loved one? When I see a feather, I associate it with my mom.

“The Covid-19 pandemic may be an opportunity to transform the way we live” by
David Suzuki

Favourite quote:

“In this moment of crisis, we should be asking what an economy is for, whether there are limits, how much is enough and whether we are happier with all this stuff.

Can we relearn what humanity has known since our very beginnings — that we live in a complex web of relationships in which our very survival and well-being depend upon clean air, water and soil, sunlight (photosynthesis) and the diversity of species of plants and animals that we share this planet with?

Can we establish a far more modest agenda for ourselves filled with reverence for the rest of creation?

Or will we celebrate the passing of the pandemic with an orgy of consumption and a drive to get back to the way things were before the crisis?”

“How Not to Get Kidnapped: a Suggestive Guide” by Meredith Town

I really enjoyed this hilarious essay.

“Gliding Toward the Sun, an Essay on Cross-Country Skiing” by Kandace Chapple

Favourite part:

“I skated two full strides and figured I was above water over my head. Few swam in these waters even in the hottest days of July because it would mean bringing out a souvenir leech between the toes. It was just as well. Lake Dubonnet is a lake’s lake—all business, no play. The shores housed a thick racket of brush and trees for birds and deer and coyote. The water bred mosquitoes and bluegill and bass. I loved the lake for its solitude. Not once had I come here to find I couldn’t hear the silence on the other side of the lake.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done!

My favourites:

“A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart” by Zetta Elliot; illustrated by Noa Denmon

A Black child explores his emotions over the year, and the emotions include joy, fear, anger, pride, and peace.

“Ten Ways to Hear Snow” by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Kenard Pak

On the way to her grandmother’s house to help make a meal, Lina discovers several different ways to listen to snow.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I am still working on my synopsis for the CANSCAIP contest.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Fresh Stories for a New World: Finding Your Stories Through a Practice of Side Writing” with Karen Krossing (SCBWI)

Natalie Goldberg on her new haiku book (Geneen Roth)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

Alas, I did not do this.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I attended at least one per week, usually two.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I didn’t blog twice last month, but I have already blogged three times this month.

-Weekly treasure:

My tulip that looks like another flower

Challenges:

100 days

I have done it! I have completed reading my German book! Yay me.

Since the 100 days challenge is not over, I have started a new book written in German, but even after the challenge is done, I’m going to keep reading one book I really want to read but find intimidating using the just two pages a day method.

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two, one from “the lost spells” and the other from “The Reason I Jump”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

I have done it! I have completed my 2020 Bookish Resolutions!

This has been such a great experience, and I am going to do it again. My 2020 word is “focus”, and this challenge is one of the ways that has helped me to focus.

I am going to do the challenge again (even if it isn’t hosted at the same blog), but I am going to change what I’ll do every week based on what I hope to accomplish in 2021. This year, as well, I am using the templates to design your own challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

December Wrap-up

I completed my Mount TBR challenge for 2020 and have already planned Mount TBR for 2021.

-I read a couple of memoirs:

“The Lark and the Loon” by Rhiannon Gelston

Not strictly a memoir and definitely genre pushing. Read my review here.

“off script: Living Out Loud” by Marci Ien

I have long admired Marci Ien, and I loved this book about the highs and lows of her personal and professional life. The structure—a bunch of short stories—is one that I aspire to for my memoir.

Ien is now an MP, and I hope that she’ll write about that experience too.

Favourite quote:

“Fuelled by, I have to confess, a simmering resentment, I began posing the question myself in interviews—not to women but to men. After listing all their accomplishments, I’d say something like, ‘I notice you have four kids. How do you do all that and balance time with your family?’

I’d often be met with long pauses. With, say, ‘I’ve never been asked that before.’ And, sometimes, answers that were quite thoughtful. There are men out there who want to make sure they spend time with their families and are trying to do better on that front. But even these men were slightly taken aback. It wasn’t a question they were used to being asked.”

Watch this interview for more about the book.

-I wrote at least 250 words 5 days a week.

-I limited my social media time: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

The Birthday Party” by Randi Evans

One of my talented classmates writes about arranging her 70th birthday party in Spain.

I need more people with ADHD in my life” by Brittany Penner

Favourite quote:

“I saw clearly the ways in which they lift my spirit and lighten my heart. They often recover from intense situations quicker than I can even process them. They constantly teach me the necessary art of adaptation to life’s various surprises. They remind me to loosen my grip on certain aspects of life because when those things are gone, acceptance is always less painful. There is always a tomorrow in their world. And if there’s no tomorrow, there’s still today and we might as well enjoy it.”

My Publishing Journey” by Phyllis L Humby

How Humby got not one but two books published.

Project Christmas: How I convinced my Persian parents to let me celebrate the holiday” by Azin Sadr

Favourite quote:

“The following Christmas, my parents bought a miniature tree that came up to my waist. I was so proud of it and decorated that thing like there was no tomorrow. That year, the best gift my parents gave me was keeping my light on: They knew that fostering my spirit was more important than any cultural distress they may have felt. I was not asking to be Christian, I was simply asking to be a part of the holiday spirit.”

“A first hand account from an Alberta ICU during Christmas” by Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury 

Favourite quote:

“I know Christmas and the holidays for all Canadians is going to be hard this year.

It’s especially sad in our unit.

Most Canadians know that while this year will be lonely, they will see their loved ones in person again and life will eventually return to normal.

That’s not the case for our COVID-19 patients and their loved ones.

For some in our unit, this will be their last Christmas together. I try to remember that as I power through one of the most difficult working weeks of my life.”

“One card, 50 years of greetings: the ultimate green Christmas tradition” by Lorna Krahulec Blake

I love the idea of sending a card back and forth for 50 years!

Bonus:

I had to share three poems by one of my classmates. They brought me to tears when he read them in class.

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“The Library Bus” by Bahram Rahman; illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard

Set in Afghanistan. Pari becomes Mommy’s library helper on the library bus.

“A World of Mindfulness” by the Editors and Illustrators of Pajama Press

One of the better books about mindfulness.

“A Quiet Girl” by Peter Carnavas

Mary is a quiet girl, which allows her to hear things that nobody else hears.

“From Tree to Sea” by Shelley Moore Thomas; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal 

What various elements of nature can show you about yourself. I like what the moon can show you the best: “…even when I change I am still me”.

“Violet Shrink” by Christine Baldacchino

In this book about anxiety acceptance, Violet doesn’t like going to parties, but her father keeps taking her to them, until they work out a compromise.

“Swift Fox All Along” by Rebecca Thomas; illustrated by Maya McKibbin

Based on the author’s story. Swift Fox starts to learn about her indigenous (Mi’kmaq) heritage.

Bonus books:

“Pretty Tricky: the Sneaky Ways Plants Survive” by Etta Kaner; illustrated by Ashley Barron

Quick change artists, exploding flowers, and seeds in disguise? What’s not to love about these plants that are masters of deception?

“The Vegetable Museum” by Michelle Mulder

For ages 9-12, this story revolves around an heirloom vegetable garden while tackling several issues of loss.

-I attended several writer’s events:

Interview with Vicky Metcalf award winner Marianne Dubuc (Writer’s Trust of Canada)

Interview with Matt Cohen award winner Dennis Lee (Writer’s Trust of Canada)

To access both of these interviews, click here.

Interview with Rupi Kaur (q)

To access this interview click here.

I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

Bad news though. I lost my object diary when my computer died. Let’s hope that it is retrievable. 

-Here is one of my weekly treasures:

Wishing everyone a better 2021.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

November 2020 Bookish Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been successfully sticking to my bookish resolutions for 11 months! 

-Click here to read what I read for the Mount TBR challenge.

-I read one memoir:

“My Year of Living Spiritually” by Anne Bokma

Bokma writes about her year of trying everything from singing to magic mushrooms, goat yoga to witch camp, gratitude to crystals. The back story is her break from her fundamentalist religion causing a rift from her family, especially her mother. One of my favourite chapters is called “Into the Woods”, which includes her experiences in forest bathing and tree climbing.

Click here to watch an interview with Bokma.

-I wrote at least 250 words five days a week.

-I limited my social media time: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

“This Year Remembrance Day Feels Even More Important To Me” by Natalie Romero

Favourite quote:

“I challenge that those individuals have never actually had their personal rights and freedoms taken from them. If losing the freedom of being able to shop without a mask is the worst you’ve experienced, then count yourself lucky.”

“‘I don’t want to lose who I am’: How a brain tumour messes with your head” by Gaetan Benoit

A humorous and tragic description of Benoit’s diagnosis of a brain tumour with his 2-5 year prognosis and his hope that he can continue to do what he loves.

“Running away is a theme in my family – and it started with my father” by Anne Bokma

To get a taste of what’s in her memoir that I mentioned above, you can read this article.

“Calgary, I need emotional-support chickens in my backyard to endure the new normal” by Teresa Waddington

Favourite quote:

“Don’t get me wrong, they’re still problems. I don’t mean to belittle the issues of emotional dysfunction, but they are problems that only emerge once the issues of immediate threat to survival wane. We can only have emotional-support chickens after we’ve stopped eating every chicken that crosses the road.”

“How do you teach in a pandemic? Masks, face shields and patience, endless patience” by Gisela Koehl 

Written from the perspective of a grade 2 French Immersion teacher.

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“A Family for Faru” by Anitha Rao-Robinson; illustrated by Karen Patkau

Tetenya tries to find a family for orphaned rhino Faru.

“The Boy Who Moved Christmas” by Eric Walters and Nicole Wellwood; illustrated by Carloe Liu

Evan is not expected to live until Christmas, so the family decides to celebrate in October, and then the whole town pitches in by decorating and even holding a parade.

This is a true story, and I remember when this happened in a town close by to me.

“I am the Storm” by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

An exploration of children’s feelings during and after storms.

“The Paper Boat” by Thao Lam

In this wordless picture book, fleeing Vietnam is shown from the point of view of ants. Based on a true story.

“Raj’s Rules” by Lana Button; illustrated by Hatem Aly

Raj has one rule at school: don’t go to the bathroom. What happens when he does?

“Teaching Mrs. Muddle” by Colleen Nelson; illustrated by Alice Carter

The main character has to help her kindergarten teacher on the first day as the teacher mixes everything up.

-I attended several writer’s events:

Letting Go of Anxiety with Tara Henley (Ottawa International Writer’s Festival)

The Me in Memoir with Kamal Al-Solaylee (Kitchener Public Library)

Bird Song: Finding a New Natural Voice (Wild Writer’s)

Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple (“I am the Storm”) (Odyssey Bookshop)

Sara Seager: The Smallest Lights in the Universe (Toronto Public Library)

Far from home: Kaie Kellough and Souvankham Thammavangsa (TIFF)

Memoir’s Companions with Anita Lahey (Wild Writer’s)

“The Short Story: Getting In Between Spaces” (Wild Writer’s)

-I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

-Here is one of my weekly treasures:

My favourite picture of the snow last week

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

October 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

-Click here to see what I read for the Mount TBR challenge.

-I read one memoir from the library:

“All Things Consoled” by Elizabeth Hay

This book won the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Hay writes about becoming her parents’ caregiver. For more about the book, click here.

-I am taking a “Writing Personal Stories” course with Brian Henry, which is helping me to write at least 250 words five days a week.

-I continue to limit my social media, and besides skipping it on Sundays, sometimes I even skip days during the week.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. These are my favourites:

“Understanding Gender These Days is Way Over my Head—But My Teen Girls are Helping me Get There” by Paula Schuck

I can relate, as my teen daughter also teaches me about how diverse the world of gender is today.

Favourite quote:

Teen: “Mom, there are at least 63 different genders.”

Me: “63?” I then sit with a puzzled look on my face, and make a mental note to Google how many different gender and sexual identities there are later. (FYI…now their count has reached 81.)”

“Value Village” by Jonathan Poh

This is the winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize, and I can see why. Poh writes about his childhood and the racism he faced, centred around the trips to Value Village.

All the other finalists are also worth reading.

“Some Things Better Left Unsaid” by Keb Filippone (3rd place)

A menopausal woman muses about the things she doesn’t say to her husband and wonders also what he doesn’t say to her. 

Favourite quote:

“I often feel badly for him that he has been duped, that the girl who stood by his side and said vows has all but evaporated into the ether, morphed into just a memory, replaced by a depressed menopausal woman who wrestles with alcohol, wrestles with restlessness.”

“It’s OK To Have Privilege—But What Are You Doing With It?” by Vanessa Magic

Favourite quote:

“Even now, when I go to the playground with my son, there are so many parents who seem as if they aren’t affected by the world that’s clearly still on fire. They stand close to each other, they share wine, they don’t enforce the COVID-19 rules and they are quick to change the subject when I ask their thoughts about school in September.”

“Birthing School Dropout” by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo

Favourite quote:

“If there’s anything to be learned, it’s that everyone has a lot of opinions on how you should give birth, what’s good, what’s bad, and what they do and do not feel comfortable with. Ultimately, you must do what’s right for you.”

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“The Bug Girl” by Sophia Spencer with Margaret McNamara; illustrated by Kerascoët

A true story written by an 11 year old who was bullied for her love of bugs when she was in grade one, so her mom looks for a bug pal for her.

“Florette” by Anna Walker

Mae moves to the city, can’t bring her garden with her, and there’s no room to grow what she wants to grow. One day she follows a familiar bird.

“Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of” by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Kari Rust

A picture book biography about mathematician Emmy Noether, a Jewish woman, who faced many obstacles, but who invented two major ideas that helped to change how we understand the universe.

“Your House, My House” by Marianne Dubuc

The story is a dull tale about Little Rabbit’s birthday, but the pictures tell an entirely different story; every apartment inhabitant has their own tale going on. Look for all the parallel stories, such as what happens to the ghost, Goldilocks, and the three little bears.

“The One with the Scraggly Beard” by Elizabeth Withey; illustrated by Lynn Scurfield

A very touching and tastefully written story about a boy who compares himself with a homeless man. It’s based on the author’s son’s relationship with the author’s brother.

-I attended several writer’s events.

“Wild World” (EMWF)

Wade Davis, Steven Heighton, and James Raffan with host Laura Trethewey

One Page: How to Fly with Barbara Kingsolver

Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Ottawa’s Writers Festival)

“Evening With Margaret Atwood” (TIFA)

TIFA Kids! The Lost Spells with Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

-I spent one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week. In fact this week I blogged more than once. Go to the last post to enjoy my Halloweensie.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” diary.

-This is one of my weekly treasures:

I stumbled upon this woodpecker while foraging for mushrooms.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

September 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

I read more than one from my TBR pile this month, which means I am catching up. Yay me! Click here to read about my accomplishments.

I did not finish reading a memoir from the library this month, but I am well ahead in this challenge. I am part way through reading one too.

I continue to write. I am also revising my first novel (approximately 90 000 words!), which I worked on with a writing partner.

I limited my social media. 

I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. These are my favourites:

A police officer is not the best person to help someone in psychosis” by Rebeccah Love

I know someone who is in this position, and this essay sheds some light on what she goes through.

Sometimes I feel like an undercover black woman” by Eilidh McAllister

McAllister is biracial but looks caucasian.

Favourite quote:

“Personally, I am going to try to initiate the hard conversations when racist undercurrents are felt and be OK with being uncomfortable. Because if we have those dialogues, we can move forward. We all have biases to break, so let’s help one another do that.”

The self-imposed stress of being in the gifted class nearly killed me” by Anastasia Blosser

My daughter isn’t in a full time gifted program, as the principal of her school did not believe in sending any of her students to that program, and when I read this essay it makes me reconsider if the principal wasn’t wise in keeping her in the part time program. For example, I am shocked to read that the students would compete with each other to be the unhealthiest in order to achieve the highest grades.

Wise words from Blosser: “Positive growth doesn’t focus on running back, on obsessing over what could have been. It’s about growing and moving forward, accepting what happened and learning how to fix it. Well-being doesn’t always mean making the right decisions, it’s about realizing a pattern of unhealthy behaviour and lovingly helping yourself change. It’s a learning curve I’ll master some day, but a class I’ll never graduate from.”

“Lunatic” by Sarah Blackstock

This is a powerful and moving essay you can listen to as read by Blackstock about how her mentally ill mother was treated including being given the label of lunatic and a series of medications, the effects on the family, and the eventual deadly consequences.

The wonderful lessons that pain can teach you” by Glenna Fraumeni 

Favourite quote:

“Through enduring painful experiences – whether it be sepsis or other physical or mental-health challenges – you gain a new perspective. You realize that you can, in fact, be stopped in your tracks. That you don’t have a say in everything. And with the treatment and tapering of excruciating pain comes the realization that idleness and existing in a state of neutral calm can be a beautiful thing. We don’t need to always be numbing the in-between moments with distractions.”

“How I baked my way to good mental health” by Keri Ferencz

Ferencz stops baking—and doing a lot of other things—after being made to felt that she must be perfect at it, but then one day realizes that her baking—and other things in life—doesn’t have to be perfect

Bonus: “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell

This 1936 essay is recommended by Mary Karr in her book “The Art of Memoir”.

Orwell writes about not wanting to shoot an elephant but finds that he must do so due to pressure, and also writes about how he hates his role in the British empire and how he is hated in turn.

I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“Together We Grow” by Susan Vaught; illustrated by Kelly Murphy

In this rhyming book, a fox seeking shelter from a thunderstorm is initially turned away from a barnful of animals until a duckling connects all the creatures.

“The Barnabus Project” by The Fan Brothers

Barnabus is not a Perfect Pet but instead is a Failed Project. When he hears he is going to be recycled he and the other failures attempt to escape.

“Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell” by Selina Alko

Joni Mitchell’s musical journey—how she painted with words—is movingly written in this picture book biography.

“Remarkably You” by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Patrice Barton

This rhyming picture book encourages kids to be themselves.

“I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree” by Jean E. Pendziwol; illustrated by Nathalie Dion

This beautiful poem illustrates how hope in autumn brings flowers in the spring.

I attended a few online writer events.

Five Tips for Writing Through a Tough Time with Nadia L. Hohn

A mini workshop from Eden Mills Writers’ Festival (EMWF)

“The Barnabus Project” with Devin Fan 

A book launch of the picture book hosted by EMWF.

Art and Healing (EMWF)

Christa Couture, Lorna Crozier, David A. Robertson, and Emily Urquhart talk about their books and life. The event was hosted by Susan G. Cole.

This is the most touching of all the EMWF webinars I have sat through.

I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

I blogged one time a week.

I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

I still have this collection of essays from my grade 3 class!

New this month is “Weekly Treasure”. Read last week’s blog post to learn all about it.

Smack dab in the middle of a corn maze, I found this sunflower dripping with seeds. What a treasure!

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

August 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

Inbetween reading and writing I have been taking day trips. I took this picture in Port Stanley.

I completed one book for the Mount TBR challenge. Click here to read about it.

I read one memoir:

“Dear Current Occupant” by Chelene Knight 

This memoir about home and belonging is set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver. Knight writes a series of letters to the current occupants of the homes she lived in as a child. Click here to read more about the book.

Click here to see a book trailer with pictures of some of the former places she lived in.

I wrote over 250 words five days a week.

I limited my social media time.

I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

Global Photos: Babies of the Pandemic Bring Love, Light—And Worries”

This is a beautiful photoessay.

“Confessions of a ‘model minority’: How I’m learning to confront my own biases” by Joanna Chiu 

Chiu writes about racism from different angles: racism against her as an Asian and racism as an Asian targeting others.

Favourite quote: 

“I was taught to brush off racism as a kind of flattery — that it stemmed from people being “jealous” of Asians’ high rate of university admission and higher-than-average salary level in North America.

Last year, I was working downtown and people would give me dirty looks or yell slurs at me on the street. Online, I was regularly getting a litany of abuse. My dad tried to comfort me by saying it was because I looked like “an executive” with my new job. It was a sign of success.

This wishful thinking made sense to me, but now I see why it’s illogical in the face of hate crimes happening around the world against people of Asian appearance.”

“‘Pourquoi you’re brown, maman?’ Racism from the mouths of babes” by Deepa Pureswaran

Pureswaran faces racism but it hurts the most when it starts to come from her own son, because he is experiencing it.

“Reflecting on my recent success, and what I can do with this new part of my identity” by Veena D. Dwivedi

Dwivedi, an Indian professor, reflects how her father introduced her to school and the possibility of racism and how she handled it then and now.

Favourite quote:

“Today, we are all too familiar with the term “unconscious bias.” Today, we know that, unfortunately, my dad was not entirely wrong. Still, I’m glad I didn’t take his words to heart. If I had, I might have, or would have, or could have seen racism (and its close cousin, sexism) everywhere I went.”

Ballsy” by Linda Petrucelli

Petrucelli uses the image of a tennis ball to tie her story together, peppering it with facts about tennis balls but also writing about her recovery from back surgery and how tennis balls played a role.

I read 5 picture books per week. Here are my favourites:

“The Word for Friend” by Aidan Cassie

Kemala loves talking but the kids at her new school speak a different language. She struggles but then when a goal appears—a puppet show—she starts to talk. I love how Esperanto is introduced in the book.

”Outside In” by Deborah Underwood; illustrated by Cindy Derby

Despite the fact that we spend most of our time indoors, the outside still sends reminders that it’s there, e.g., through shadows.

“Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street” by Sheree Fitch; illustrated by Emma Fitzgerald

This book with its delicious word play is a tribute to mental health.

Favourite line:

“Some of us wear hats of worry

Seven stories high”

“Grandmother School” by Rina Singh; illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Based on a true story of a real school just for grandmothers in India, the main character’s grandmother goes to a special school just for grandmothers and finally learns how to read and write. Click here to watch the trailer.

“The Train” by Jodie Callaghan; illustrated by Georgia Lesley

Ashley’s uncle sits by the old train tracks to commemorate the past, and then he tells Ashley the story of him and his siblings going to residential school.

This story won the Mi’gmaq Writers Award in 2010.

I attended several online writer’s events.

“Telling Someone Else’s Story” with Dakshana Bascaramurty (EMWF mini workshop)

Bascaramurty gives several tips on how to build trust.

Click here to watch the recording.

EMWF Panel: On Being Alive

The three authors talked about the books they have written, which explore death. The authors were Dakshana Bascaramurty, John Gould, and Ray Robertson, and the facilitator was Steven W. Beattie.

EMWF Panel: Memoirs and Meditations

All three authors talked about their experimental poetic books, which blur genres.

The authors were Madhur Anand, Billy-Ray Belcourt, and Bahar Orang, and they were interviewed by Laurie D. Graham.

You can catch the recording until September 4.

SCBWI Summer Spectacular (LA)

Philip Pullman and Arthur A. Levine

Pullman made several thought provoking points including his belief that persistence, luck, and talent are all needed to be a writer, but a writer can only control persistence.

Toronto International Festival of Authors at the Virtual CNE

Cynthia Loyst talked to Roland Gilliver about her book “Find Your Pleasure: the Art of Living a More Joyful Life” as a preview to the Toronto International Festival of Authors.

I spent one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

I blogged one time a week.

I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

How about you? How did you do with your reading and writing goals this month?

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

July 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

-I read one book for the Mount TBR challenge. Click here to read about it.

-I read one memoir this month.

“Rosalie Lightning” by Tom Hart

This is a memoir in graphic novel form about the unexpected loss of Hart’s daughter shortly before her second birthday. It was a challenging read for me, but then books about the death of a child always are.

For a preview, click here.

-I wrote well over 250 words five days a week.

-I limited my social media time.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

From the UN, a photo essay of pandemic pictures from around the world.

“Is it the end of travel as we know it? Should it be?” by David Gillett

Many people are musing about how travel will change after Covid-19. Gillett also addresses this issue.

Favourite quote:

“The potential for smaller and smarter crowds in the places I visit is welcome. But I need to look in the mirror and examine myself as well. What do I contribute when I travel? What do I take? Is there some balance to my explorations, something more meaningful than simply the online purchase of carbon offsets?”

Something we should all think about.

“I’m Black. I’m male. Give me the benefit of the doubt, please” by Daniel Reid Newall 

Newell writes about the racism he has experienced.

Favourite quote:

“At the end of the day, when you see my Black face, all I ask is to be given the benefit of the doubt. Treat me with kindness, dignity and respect, in any order. I think they call it being inclusive.”

“From now on, I am the weak link in pandemic chain letters” by Nancy Wood

I can totally relate to Wood’s essay, as I break chain letters too, because I don’t like imposing on others: 

Favourite quote:

‘Of the “thanks but no thanks” notes I received, one in particular resonated because it helped me clarify what I dislike about chains. “I hate to be a party pooper,” my friend wrote, “but I truly don’t do chain letters. … I hate imposing on others.”’

“I’m a visible minority in Toronto but didn’t feel like one until I wore a mask” by Ian Leung

Leung writes about the experience of wearing masks in Asia vs. wearing masks in Canada.

Favourite quote:

“In truth, wearing a mask is a sign of solidarity; its strength comes from numbers, from the collective action, from the many willing to take a small sacrifice and inconvenience for the well-being of strangers in an unsung and unheroic fashion.

Wearing a mask is not just a proven tactic to fight the spread of disease, it’s also a symbol: it shows the world that you care, both about yourself and those around you. I am wearing a mask now so one day we won’t have to.”

“Am I a ‘Karen’?” by Chelsea O’Byrne

O’Byrne muses if she is a Karen, which is “an entitled white woman who wants what she wants.” O’Byrne feels like she’s a Karen, even if she is fighting injustice.

The concept of a “Karen” has been examined in the news lately, and it one that I ponder too.

“People watching from my mother’s park bench” by Tamara Levine

My dad liked to people watch, and so I enjoyed reading this essay.

Levine buys her mother her own park bench on her 80th birthday, as people watching on benches is her favourite thing to do.

Favourite quote:

“It went like this: 1. Choose a particular passerby, pair or group. 2. Notice their expressions, their posture, their gestures. Take note of gender, age and so on. If they are talking, you listen for snippets of conversations. Listen for tone. Notice who talks more, who interrupts. 3. Invent a story of what is going on. If you’re with a co-conspirator, invent as you go along, each of you adding tidbits as the story unfolds. Facts are not required, just some keen observational skills and imagination.”

“What I read to my mother on her terrible, horrible, no good, very last day by Juanita Giles

As her mother lays dying of Covid-19, Giles reads her three children’s books over and over.

Favourite quote:

“I ended up choosing three books to take with me that second day: Todd Parr’s The Goodbye Book, and Kathryn Lasky’s Before I Was Your Mother. And of course, Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I figured those three books sort of ran the gamut for the day Momma and I were about to face, so I packed them along with my mask, my gown, my gloves, and my hand sanitizer, and tried to prepare myself.”

-I read 5 picture books per week. Here are my favourites:

“The Eagle Feather Story” written by Francois Prince and performed by Mark Barfoot; pictures from the community

I had the pleasure of being able to not only read but also listen to this interactive book in both English and the language of the Dakelh (Carrier) Peoples.

The eagle feather is sacred to the Dakelh Peoples, and those who have an eagle feather are to be respected. In this book, the eagle shows how feathers are earned, and gives feathers to several animals for their acts.

“Tanna’s Owl” by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley; illustrated by Yong Ling Kang

The book is based on Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley’s experience of raising an owl. Main character Tana raises Ukpik the owl after her father gives the owl to her. Owls are considered magical because they bring land and sea together.

“Encounter” by Brittany Luby; illustrated by Michaela Goade

Fisher and Sailor meet in 1534. Despite their differences, they are able to find common ground.

The book is  a reminder that Jacques Cartier and his crew were visitors when they arrived in North America, and there is a focus on Stadaconan knowledge.

“The Little Book of Big What-Ifs” by Renata Liwska

The book explores many different what-if questions, often opposites, e.g., “What if you can’t think of anything?” vs. “What if your imagination runs wild?”

“Sterling the Best Dog Ever” by Aidan Cassie

Sterling the dog wants a home, so he disguises himself as a fork, but when he sees the family eating with hands, Sterling figures that he needs to be something besides a fork.

I laughed through the entire book!

Bonus:

Click here to access an article that has a list of Canadian children’s writers who have shared readings of their books—some picture books, some not—online.

-I attended several writer’s events online.

“Three Things to Consider When Writing a Memoir” with Alison Wearing

This workshop is part of Eden Mills Writers Festival series of mini workshops.

Access that workshop as well as others by clicking here.

“Music for Tigers” with Michelle Kadarusman

This webinar is available until October 16. The book is a fictional book about helping surviving Tasmanian tigers. in reality, Tasmanian tigers have been declared extinct, yet there is a belief that some still survive.

This year Hillside Festival was free online the weekend of July 24-26.

I watched Evelyn Lau read poems from “Pineapple Express”, Joy Kogawa read an excerpt from “Obasan”, Chelene Knight read from her hybrid memoir “Dear Current Occupant”, Madhur Anand read from her half biography half memoir “This Red Line Goes Straight to your Heart”, and Karen Solie read from her book of poetry “Caiplie Caves”.

All of them impressed me and made me want to read their books. So far I have secured a copy of “Dear Current Occupant”, which I will write about in August’s wrapup.

-I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week, and I even wrote an extra blog post yesterday.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

This month I focussed on my spoon collection.

Bonus: Sharing a picture of my snake’s tongue, blooming, which is a rare thing

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

June 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

-I read two books for the Mount TBR challenge this month. Click here to read about them.

-I read one non Mount TBR challenge memoir this month.

“You Won’t Always Be This Sad” by Sheree Fitch

One of my favourite children’s books is “Mabel Murple” by Sheree Fitch. Her wordplay tickles the tongue.

However, this book, a memoir in verse about the death of her son, has a completely different tone, although the wordplay also is tongue tickling.

One of my favourite quotes:

“…Of all the standard phrases I’ve heard the best is

in Finnish:

‘Otan osaa suruasi,”

which means ‘Let me carry a small piece of your pain.’”

Click here and here for more information about the book.

-I wrote over 250 words five days a week.

-I continue to limit my social media time.

-I read at least 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

“I’m Writing” by Zalika Reid-Benta

The author reflects on how writing makes her feel fine during this pandemic.

Favourite quotes:

“That’s, really, the true order: I’m not writing because I’m fine, I’m fine because I’m writing.”

and

“I’ve had no moments of epiphany during my writing, no moments of sweet release, but without being consciously aware of it, writing has acted as a shelter from listlessness and potentially devastating anxiety, which allows me to feel fine, to feel more or less the same as I did before all of the uncertainty, and while that gift may be a quiet one, it’s one I am truly thankful for.”

Reid-Benta just won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for her book “Frying Plantain”, which is on my TBR list.

Michael Enright’s Week 13 Covid-19 Personal Essay

Enright ponders the question whether the lockdown was worth it. He also writes about the differences in the north vs. the south.

Consider this:

“At last count, Brazil was registering 30,000 new confirmed cases a day. Russia and India, about 8,000 cases a day. All told, poorer countries account for three-quarters of the 100,000 new cases detected worldwide each day. And those numbers likely suggest an undercount.

Which means if we truly believe the cliché “We are all in this together,” richer countries should be planning huge humanitarian programs now, and looking at issues such as debt forgiveness and financial support.”

“Pondering Invisible Prisons While Living Under Lockdown” by Tara McGuire

Favourite quotes:

“I’ve been thinking of the imprisonments of addiction, disability and unemployment; of being limited in one way or another by gender, race, or poverty. I’ve been thinking of Indigenous people, born into a cultural confinement by virtue of a colonial system they didn’t ask for. I’ve been thinking of all the jails I could never see before because they weren’t pushing up against my own easy-street life. Now that my own freedom has been stripped away, replaced by time to think about it, to feel it, I see these imposed structures much more clearly. Now that I’m being inconvenienced by a lack of Lysol wipes and a shrinking RRSP.

I’ve been forced to look at myself — at how many freedoms I’ve always enjoyed but never really noticed, and certainly didn’t cherish. Invisible freedoms of affluence and education, food security and choice.”

and

“I hope I don’t get too preoccupied with the details of my own economic survival to see the walls, still standing, where they have always been, the invisible barriers that already, before COVID-19, imprisoned so many. I hope I remember that what was temporarily taken away from me, so many others never had to begin with.”

-I read 5 picture books per week. Here are my favourites:

“Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies” by Megan Lacera and Jorge Lacera

Mo, a zombie, loves to eat vegetables. He grows and cooks them secretly, because his parents don’t like veggies. Mo tries to figure out how to convince his parents to eat more vegetables. Mo also wonders if he actually is a zombie.

“Hello Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mr. Rogers” by Matthew Cordell

This fabulous picture book biography details the journey of Fred Rogers from childhood to TV icon.

“What Grew in Larry’s Garden” by Laura Alary; illustrated by Kass Reich

Grace helps next door neighbour Larry in the garden. They are not just growing vegetables, but plants that Larry’s students give away accompanied by a letter in order to connect people. After a fence is built by neighbour casting a shadow over the plants, Grace has to figure out a solution.

The main character is based on a real person. Alary read an article about a disagreement over a fence and the book was born.

“You Matter” by Christian Robinson

My favourite line refers to the sun (and perhaps some people we know and love):

“Even if you are really gassy. You matter.”

“Just Like Me” by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

This is a lovely book of poetry for children. Two of my favourite poems are “The Day I Decided to Become Sunshine” and “All in Together Girls”.

“You and Me Both” by Mahtab Narsimham; illustrated by Lisa Cinar

Jamal and the main character like doing the same things, and they think they are twins despite the differences in skin colour.

You may have heard the true story in which two five year old boys, one black and one white, get the same haircut to fool their teacher. The author wrote the book after reading the story. Click here to read about the boys.

“Going Up” by Sherry Lee; illustrated by Charlene Chua

The main character is going to a party on the 10th floor; the elevator stops at every floor to pick up a diverse cast of characters.

Bonus: 

These are a couple of older picture books that I love.

“The Wakame Gatherers” by Holly Thompson; illustrated by Kazumi Wilds

Set in Japan, the main character is bicultural and biracial. She lives most of the year in Japan but spends her summers in Maine. When her gram from Maine comes to help with the wakame harvest, the main character worries about being the translator between her and her Japanese granny.

“Ron’s Big Mission” by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden; illustrated by Don Tate

This is a picture book biography of late astronaut Ron McNair, who at 9 demanded that he be allowed to take out library books just like others despite his skin colour.

Click here for more about this book.

-I attended several writer’s events.

“Writing Non-Fiction” with Jenny Heijun Wills

New to me this year is the gritLit Festival in Hamilton. I already am an admirer of the author’s book, so I was thrilled that I could participate in her workshop.

“Dangerous Liaisons: Women and Memoir”

This webinar is another wonderful offering by 85 Queen at the Kitchener Public Library in partnership with The New Quarterly.

The webinar was moderated by Kim Davids Mandar and the presenters were Susan Scott, Lamees Al Ethari, Emily Urquhart, and Carolina Echeverria.

Take a look here.

“Great Expectations”

This webinar, moderated by Karma Brown, was one of the offerings by Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, which has gone online this year.

The presenters were Rachel Matlow, Michelle Parise, and Alison Wearing.

EMWF has a great series of webinars online this year: fiction, nonfiction, poetry…: Click here to check out the listings. Maybe you’ll want to register for one or two.

If you are interested in memoir writing, Alison Wearing runs online courses, and you can access a free excerpt here.

Eufemia Fantetti’s “Writing Illness, Writing Wellness”

I have been a fan of Fantetti ever since I heard her speak at Wild Writers’ Festival last year.

Fantetti is working on expanding this workshop into a course.

During the webinar, one of the articles she recommended was “Put down the self-help books. Resilience is not a DIY endeavour”, which I found to be eye opening.

Favourite quote:

“When it comes to maintaining well-being and finding success, environments matter. In fact, they may matter just as much, and likely much more, than individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. A positive attitude may be required to take advantage of opportunities as you find them, but no amount of positive thinking on its own is going to help you survive a natural disaster, a bad workplace or childhood abuse. Change your world first by finding the relationships that nurture you, the opportunities to use your talents and the places where you experience community and governmental support and social justice. Once you have these, your world will help you succeed more than you could ever help yourself.”

She also recommended this Covid-19 self care checklist by Yolande House.

-I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

May 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

Mount TBR challenge

I did read one book this month, but that puts me behind in the challenge. I have found that although I am writing a lot, I am not reading very much. I do have several books that I am near completing, so hopefully I will finish one or more soon. Plus I am now in a book club, which will help motivate me to read more. Click here to see what books for the challenge I have read so far this year.

-I read one memoir from the library this month:

“The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan

Kaplan decides to spend a year embracing an attitude of gratitude, and seeks advice about gratitude from psychologists, academics, and philosophers. The book is divided into four seasons: winter (marriage, love, and family), spring (money, career, and the stuff we own), summer (gratitude and health), and autumn (coping, caring, and connecting). My favourite section is summer, the gratitude and health one, because I believe embracing gratitude has a significant impact on health.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“It now turns out that the immune system may respond to emotions. Worry, anger, or fear send those same white blood cells out on patrol, and even though they don’t have anything specific to attack, they leave a trail of dangerous inflammation. Feeling gratitude could actually counter the effect…”

and

“The whole happiness movement drives me crazy because it’s so binary. Are you happy or not?” Linda <Stone> complained…”The real question should be—how can I appreciate this moment more? What feels good right now? There is always some positive in the moment that we can notice and appreciate.”

and

“Gratitude had changed me, and I suddenly had an image that gratitude could also transform the whole world. However dismal global events may be, looking for the bright spots allows us to survive and move on. Gratitude spreads quickly to other people. Charles Darwin believed that the societies with the most compassion are the best able to flourish. Acts of kindness are noticed, reciprocated, passed forward. If we put good into the world, maybe, just maybe, it starts to be returned.”

-I wrote more than 250 words five days a week.

I am writing a lot, though not as much about the pandemic like last month. 

-I am successfully limiting my social media. I no longer go on Sundays and sometimes even not on Saturdays.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week.

Here are my favourites:

I’d be rather amiss if I didn’t mention my own essay called “Chain Reaction”. Click here to read it. 

Pandemic Journal: an Entry on Rejoicing at the Grocery Store” by Glynn Young

In this essay, a senior writes humorously about a trip to the grocery store during the pandemic.

This quote made me think:

“I wonder why the news media focus on the 1918 influenza epidemic but say nothing about 1957 or 1968.”

When your ‘to-do’ list is taking over your life, try a ‘to-don’t’ list” by Emelia Symington Fedy

The author tries to find out who she is if she doesn’t keep doing. 

Favourite quote: “I made a direct connection between my output and my right to be happy. That’s a lot of pressure.”

How my husband and I spent our final hours together” by Judith Pettersen 

The author writes a very touching essay about the final hours of her husband’s life.

Favourite quote:

“They gave my husband what he desperately wanted: the gift of a conscious parting, something not many terminal patients experience. They gave him dignity.”

Working in Long Term Care These Days is Breaking my Heart” by Monica Catto

One of the essays that adds to the conversation about the long term care situation in Ontario right now.

“Separation during Isolation” by Marcello di Cintio

The author separated from his wife in the beginning stages of Covid-19, when he anticipated a new life, but he is still waiting for it

Favourite quotes:

“There was something poetic, we agreed, about drinking our wedding champagne on the last day of our marriage. But once we took a sip we realized the champagne had soured. Too much time had passed. There was something poetic about this, too.”

and

“Ironies abound. One of the main reasons our marriage ended is because M and I stopped spending time together. Now, due to social distancing rules and the fact that our son is splitting time between our two houses, M is the only other person I can responsibly spend time with. Suddenly all we have is each other.”

“I’m giving MS the finger, but I admit, this disease has taught me resilience” by Sheri Astorino

The author writes about her life with MS.

-I read 5 picture books per week.

These are some of my favourites:

“Usha and the Stolen Sun” by Bree Galbraith; illustrated by Jose Bisaillon

The sun hadn’t shone for such a long time that only Usha’s grandmother remembers it. A big wall to block it out had been made by the people who made the rules. Usha sets off on a journey to find the wall herself and destroy it.

I Want to Be: A Gutsy Girl’s ABC by Farida Zaman

An ABC book with unusual, nontraditional occupations and their descriptions including ice sculptor, kite designer, quarry worker, ufologist, and zipline operator

“Double Bass Blues” by Andrea J. Loney; illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez

This is a 2020 Caldecott Honor Book.

This book has very few words but amazing pictures. The book chronicles the Nic’s journey home with the double bass and the obstacles he meets on the way. He takes those incidents and puts them into his music with his granddaddy’s band.

Going Down Home With Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons; illustrated by Daniel Minter 

This is a 2020 Caldecott Honor Book. 

Lil Alan goes with his family to a reunion at his grandmother’s farm to celebrate their roots, but he doesn’t have anything to pay tribute. Ghanan symbols (Adrinka) are scattered throughout the book.

“Bear Came Along” Richard T. Morris, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

This is a 2020 Caldecott Honor Book. 

In this book about friendship, several animals have an adventure on the river together.

“From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea” by Kai Cheng Thom; illustrated by Ching and Li 

In this book the main character, Miu Lan, questions why they have to be just one thing.

You can listen to the book on Julie’s Library.

“The Wise Owls” written by the Senate of Canada

This book is about how the senate came to be. Click here to read the full text. 

Bonus children’s book: “Can you hear the trees talking?” by Peter Wohlleben (ages 8-12), which is the young reader’s version of “The Hidden Life of Trees” 

I love how he makes tree life understandable for children, and I especially love the chapters like “What do tree children learn at school?”, “Do some trees prefer to be alone?” and “Are some trees brave?”. Wohlleben writes about fascinating concepts such as how forests make rain and how ants collect honeydew from aphids.

-Attend 12 writer’s events over the year, whether these are workshops or writing circles or talks.

This month I attended a lot online, as the literature community has been very generous.

-Lana Button’s Facebook Live supported by #canadaperforms. Button read her book “What if Bunny’s not a Bully”, but also discussed her own background, as well as her belief that bullying is a delicate topic. She discussed how children should not be labelled at such a young age and that they should be allowed to make mistakes.

-“Poetry and Porridge: Breakfast with “A Likkle Miss Lou” author Nadia L. Hohn, in celebration of April 2020 Poetry Month”. 

This talk was presented by A Different Booklist Cultural Centre

Hohn read the book, but also introduced us to Jamaican culture, including songs, food, and clothes.

-L. E. Carmichael, a former scientist, read part of her book “The Boreal Forest”. She also discussed the boreal forest, especially the animals in it and also her writing process. Fun fact: Carmichael’s favourite boreal forest animal, the star-nosed mole, is the only land based animal that can breathe underwater.

Virtual Book Launch of “Two Bicycles in Beijing” and “For Spacious Skies”

done through the Writing Barn along with Book People

“Two Bicycles in Beijing” introduced by author Teresa Robeson

I really enjoyed this talk, as the book is set in Beijing. Robeson talked about the book, as well as her family trip to China in 2013. She even showed slides!

Robeson mentioned that she is unsure how people will receive this book given today’s conditions, but hopes it helps with understanding and fostering unity.

“For Spacious Skies” introduced by author Nancy Churnin

This nonfiction book is written about Katharine Lee Bates, author of the “America the Beautiful” poem, who was born in 1859. Churnin has a related project for kids called “For Spacious Lines”.

Fold Poetry Webinar

This year the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) was free online.

I loved this seminar, hosted by Canisia Lubrint and Billy-Ray Belcourt, as I was

exposed to a lot of poetry I would not normally have been, eg., Caribbean and Rwandan poems.

Another excellent Fold webinar was on Fractured Fairy Tales.

I particularly enjoyed the interesting discussion, moderated by Thea Lim, about fairy tales and whether they equip us for pandemics.

-Spend one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

I’ve been working a lot on a journal I intend to give to my daughter.

-Blog one time a week except if I am on holidays. 

Feel free to read my previous blog posts.

-Write about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary per month.

I always leave this to last, but I learn so much in the process.

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler