Part 1: Literacy Can be the Bridge–The Power of Reading and Writing

be-creative-creative-creativity-256514   One great thing about getting older (but that’s another story!) is that I can remember things that took a lot of time to accomplish; young people know this: one step at a time in the right direction can truly help lead you to where you want to be in life. Literacy was a very important bridge for me to go from a life I did not want to a life I wanted to live.

As I am older now, I am thinking about how to recreate and re-energize myself, and I turn to my old friends reading and writing.  For there are many reasons to believe reading and writing can help me now in my older years–but that is another story.

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Decades ago, as a young adult, I found myself working in a field that was unhealthy for me. But like most, I had bills to pay and didn’t know how I would ever be able to make a change from a business career to a life filled with teaching and writing.  What is the bridge?

Day after day I commuted to the office, feeling like I would literally scream outwardly what I was thinking all day: Get me out of here!  I remember writing, in pencil and very small: GMTHOOH on some of my files, perhaps hoping I would get caught, get fired, and be forced to make positive changes in my life.

But I was careful, and I was an excellent employee.  How can one be really good at something that kills the soul?

But I was, and I was not fired.  Nor was I laid off during those harsh 80s when so many good people got let go of jobs they needed.

But back to the topic–how did reading help?

Some people laugh when I say literacy saved me, but it did. Reading and writing have always been important to me, but when I was working in a field I hated, I pushed reading and writing away from me.  It just hurt too much to be around what I could not have as part of my daily life, so I pushed away that which would have helped nourish.

It would take a return to reading and then writing to see me out of a time and place and life I didn’t know how to leave without becoming poor–and I had been poor.

(But that’s another story.  So many stories!)

This story is about how literacy, reading and writing, can be a bridge to an improved life.  They sure were to me.

Part 2 to follow.


One Hundred Years of My Antonia

I love the novels, short stories, and poetry of American writer Willa Cather.  She may  be best known for her beloved novel of the prairie, My Antonia

One hundred years have passed since the publication of this lovingly and well-written novel.  The Willa Cather Foundation  is remembering the novel with memories of the real life woman who partly inspired Cather to write about Antonia.

Only a book nerd would love this, and I love this.  Cather’s fiction is not flashy or trashy or shocking; they are loving but realistic looks into the beauty and the desperation of life.

Highly recommended.

On handwriting and the paper load… good-bye to journals & paperback books?

handwriting journal    When one has been writing as an almost sacred act since early childhood as I have, it’s hard to feel any of that skill slipping away.  I was a journal writer, often writing up to 30 (wretched!) pages a day.  From those early journals came some good poetry, some good fiction, and one important way of dealing with the world.  My creativity, my secret world, writing. I was a bit arrogant about my journals and more journals and more journals.  I fell in love with reading as well and became a double snob–give me books and a pen and I’ll reject much else.

But I only imagined making a living as a writer for a few moments; I am too sociable and loving of creature comforts to embrace the garret.  I worked in business for many years, and spent much of my time typing.  I then entered teaching, where I spent decades loving what I did, while damaging my hands, shoulders, spine, etc. Ask a long time teacher and you will hear about the toll lugging around multiple heavy book bags takes on the body!

Did I mention I became a reading, English, and ESL teacher?  Ask a literacy teacher about the paper load!

My hands, wrists, shoulders, all became damaged by overuse.  I could continue to type well, but for some reason, writing by hand became painful and difficult, even after surgery, physical therapy, and more.

Luckily, over the decades, the path from my mind to my hands as they type has become a quick one.  One of my jobs in business was to type up conversations as they occurred, so I learned to be “one with the keyboard.”

But handwriting?  My old friend?  No, that’s a loss to me.

But also a gift to realize not to judge others who need to approach literacy differently than I do.  It’s all right to type journals.  It’s all right to use the phone to write notes.  It’s all right to dictate journal entries.

A decade ago, we moved.  The thought of moving TONS of paper with us was causing my aching back and hands to, well–ache!  No, I let go of so much paper.

I now read mainly online–horrors!  I can carry hundreds of books with me on my phone.  While I do miss all those paper texts, it’s more important that I continue to read.  I now write mainly by typing.

I miss my old skills of being able to carry around the weight of the world in paper books and carrying my paper journals everywhere.But I admit I certainly appreciate the ability to remain a person of literacy by using technology.

Lessons learned? Don’t be a literacy snob, embrace reading, writing, and language in its many forms.

Just don’t ask me to walk through an office supply store without coveting beautiful journals, pens, and papers.







cropped-be-creative-creative-creativity-256514           Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included in books published in the UK, Greece, New Zealand, and the United States.

*Tuck Magazine, 2018


* Southernmost Point Guest House (UK)

* Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21)

JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President

* Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20)

JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy

* Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17)

JOMP Volume 17

* Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher

Raewyn Alexander NZ

* Fiction in: “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

* Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction.