Eight Years

I noticed a tweet from Dean Shareski today, indicating he was beginning his eighth year as a blogger. Curious, I checked the month I began. March 2004, a month after Dean began his blog.

Not as organized as Dean, I’ve lost much of my earlier writing. While becoming a runner, I shared my ups and downs of training and racing on a running blog, where I wrote nearly every day for three or four years. I deleted it in 2009 when it no longer served a purpose. The blog I began with my students (linked in the sidebar) no longer exists either. And the blog I began as the instructional tech coordinator for my school morphed into scmorgan, which you are reading now. (I did lose many of the earlier posts when I moved from typepad to wordpress.)

These days, though, I am finding myself struggling to share. I remember waking up one day last summer, moving through my morning routine of checking twitter, Google reader (and then Google Plus) as I had my morning coffee. Suddenly, a thought flashed into my head. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Closing my laptop, I headed out the door and took a long walk. I wish I could tell you I had some epiphany. And, no, I didn’t immediately stop using social media tools. But these past few months, I have found myself slowing down to a crawl.

I value the friends and connections I’ve made online, but I have tired of the conversations and this need to always be “on.” Instead of joy, I feel stress. I know, that’s my problem, not social media’s. Yet, I wonder….

It’s ironic, isn’t it? I am sharing about not wanting to share. I suppose that is part of the letting go.

As I struggle to figure out to what extent I want to live online, I look for the transformative learning that will occur for me. Time will tell whether I will feel a need to reconnect on a regular basis. As Thoreau said, “Things do not change; we change.”







I tell my young writers, “Don’t focus on the product. Work through the process.” This is how we grow as writers.

And, yet, this morning, I can’t seem to follow my own advice.

Each Thursday, I participate in what Elizabeth calls “An Art Experience.” She offers a small group of us the chance to explore various media in whatever way we choose. She challenges us to let go and urges us to take risks. This is what I tell teachers I work with all the time. This should come easily, I think.

But it doesn’t.

As I mix my watercolor paints, trying to get the perfect ocean blue or pastel green, I feel my anxiety and frustration. “It’s not working,” I think, as I struggle to find the comfortable space between the sky and sea or tree and leaf. My house looks like a tent, and my chicken looks frozen in time, ready to be covered with yellow sugar and placed in an Easter basket. Not what I’d envisioned.

Elizabeth smiles. She knows that continued playing and putting brush to paper (or charcoal to canvas) will eventually allow me to find myself in my art, to create whatever it is I am striving for. She applauds when I pull out my colored pencils and draw on a background of watercolor and grins when I decide to dribble water on the charcoal “just to see what happens.”

Vygotsky says “children tend to create only for themselves, whereas adults create both for themselves and for the world in which they live.” I wonder if this is the block, the filter through which adults try to create. We fear judgment.

Elizabeth reassures me today, and I try again. I think she would agree with this quote from a Scottish education site:

Creativity is not just about special people doing special things. We all have the potential to be creative….a skill that needs to be developed.

On Aging

“We’re going to lose this entire generation of parents soon,” my cousin said to me last summer. My father had died a year earlier, and her father, my Dad’s brother, was struggling to walk and remember details.

The next death, though, was not his but the third brother’s wife, who died a few days before Christmas. Her funeral was a couple of weeks ago, and we gathered in Cleveland from across the country to say goodbye.

Our parents, all in their 80’s now, are leaving us one by one. And I think my cousins and I are struggling not only with overwhelming sadness but grief for a way of life that will be ending.

Our recent family history took hold at the turn of the century, when my great-grandmother built a summer house in a artist’s community near a beach in Rhode Island. Soon another family settled in, our grandmothers became friends, and the child of one married the child of another. Over the years, brothers and sisters, and cousins of all kinds grew up together, sharing a few weeks each July or August in or near the Carter and Wood compounds, which had grown to several houses and a cabin situated near a path leading to Quonochontaug Pond.

The gardens and fruit trees lay between the houses and the backyard wood shop, where our dads built boats under the direction of my stern but loving grandfather. As we grew up, we were also allowed in to use the potter’s wheel or build a bird house. Smells of turpentine and wood shavings are forever embedded in my brain.

Rhode Island became home for me, the child of an Army officer who moved his family around the world every year. Freedom, not easily accorded to children these days, meant taking the boat out at a young age, learning to navigate the pond rocks. We often ran (freely and without parents) between houses in the dark or even down to the dock to watch the lobsters crawling in the shallows.

Our grandmothers arranged summer activities, which often included putting on plays and fundraising for The Fresh Air fund. Fathers built stages, grandmothers and mothers sewed costumes, and cousins performed Peter Pan and Mutiny on the Bounty for the neighborhood. As we turned into teenagers, the activities changed to walks on the beach, games in the living room, or sneaking out at night! Time often stood still. Coffee on the porch, blueberry picking, or a sail on a windy day–these moments experienced year after year gave me a sense of place that I needed so much.

As we cousins married and had children, we brought them along from California, New York, Maryland/DC, and Virginia. For them, too, Rhode Island continues to hold great meaning as they hear the stories about their great-grandparents who painted in the art room, wrote books and articles for the local newspaper, built wooden furniture for the yard, and grew beautiful flowers in the garden.

The houses are now aging along with the rest of us. And it’s getting harder and harder to justify expenses since soon no one will be there to live year-round and watch over things. We know decisions will need to be made, and they won’t be easy.

But at the funeral, as we celebrated the long life of one, we remembered once more the gift our great grandmothers had provided for us– a way to stay connected and a treasure to call home.