Articles & Essays

Some titles from the nonfiction vault.

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Perspectives

Benevolent Childhood Experiences  Back in my social worker days, I served as support group facilitator for adults who were abused as children. What held them together were experiences any of us can offer to children in our schools and neighborhoods.

Mother & Child Are Linked At The Cellular Level  We heal our mothers and our children heal us. Science gives us a glimpse into nature’s awesome secrets.   Tikkun

Flip Side of Gratitude The highest response to nay-sayers is to flourish joyfully in our choices. Letting them understand how and why is a route we rarely take. Here’s how.    Gratefulness.org

Grateful For The Dark Stuff Too  Are we grateful only for what we deem good and ungrateful for all the rest?  I’m all about emphasizing the positive—heck, I’m pretty sure we amplify what we pay attention to. But that doesn’t mean that the darker sides of our lives aren’t a source of blessings as well.     Lilipoh Magazine

Secret To Longevity    We humans need elders and elders need us. From our early ancestors to today, this need is coded into our biology and shapes how we survive.

Are You An Anthropocentrist?  When I was growing up we were taught humans were far superior to all other living beings. The evidence was so smug that I was a bit embarrassed on behalf of my fellow homo sapiens.

10 Reasons to Become a Library Addict   Unlike most human relationships, my library is always buying me something new, forgiving me when I screw up, and consistently planning unexpected ways to lure me.  American Library Association

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Memoir

Three Twirls  I’m impatient at being told what to do after a lifetime of mostly behaving myself.  The Rappahannock Review

How The Secret Garden Saved Me  A child’s inner life can be a mystery, to her and to the adults in her life. That’s why books are so important.    Rethinking Everything Magazine

Sandwich Made Of Kindness   She gave me a white bag. When I smelled it I realized I’d been hungry for days. Then my hope sank.  Wired.com

The Bomb & Me  How the atomic bombs dropped on Japan resonate in my life, in ways I never imagined.  The First Day

Moving to the Hinterland  The car stereo shorted out repeatedly during our move to the country, defaulting from quiet public radio to a station transmitting evangelical hellfire at top volume. I guess that was the first sign.    Geez Magazine issue six

Newcomers to God’s Country  I’d been in the township less than two months and now I was heard threatening to use restraints on a poor confused woman and three disorderly little boys.  Penduline issue four

Living On The Edge  I didn’t cry at any of my doctor’s appointments. Didn’t cry when I told my children. I mostly felt shock and outrage.  What life lesson is this? I wondered.    Pulse

Talking During Recess  I went up to Mrs. Lauver’s desk as slowly as possible. Anxiety made my senses acute. I could smell the awful geraniums she kept on the windowsill, their brown sickly leaves rotting away. I could feel my classmates’ eager curiosity—cartoon watchers waiting for the silly wabbit to be  shot.    Writer’s Eye 

How School Violence Led Us To Homeschooling When my son called to say a gun had been pulled on him in school, I couldn’t even rush there to get him. All I could say was, “Get out now. Run.”    Wired.com

Imaginary Motherhood The real me falls terribly short. I kvetch. I get tears in my eyes easily, even from poignant long distance ads. I plot giant world saving accomplishments while forgetting to water the plants. I fuss and grumble and speaking of short, I’m also shorter than everyone in the house. That can’t be right. In my imagination I am tall.    Secular Homeschooling Magazine

From Pregnancy Loss To Newborn Wonder   The baby arrived exactly a year after my husband sat all day in the waiting room afraid I might die, the day the darkness was taken out of me so life could flourish again.  Wired.com

Thanks To Mom, We Tried Turkey Farming   For years my mother was reluctant to turn Thanksgiving over to me, even though it was increasingly difficult for her. Turns out, I just had to promise to use white bread in the stuffing. I took it farther, of course.   Wired.com/geekmom

Piper, Pipe That Song Again  Bagpipes weren’t something one heard often in Ohio the 60’s, at least I couldn’t tune them in on my plastic AM radio.   Bewildering Stories issue 309

Time Turns Back On Itself  The house seems darker each time I visit, curtains drawn against the daylight although family photos on every surface still fade in their frames. The cluttered rooms are hard to recognize as the same ones from my childhood.       Here In The Middle anthology

Worst Christmas Becomes The Most Memorable Christmas   No job, no money. Then a last minute opportunity to reach out to a family in much worse trouble.  Wired.com/geekmom

Writing Life

Poets & Sages Behind Closed Doors  This whole nursing home feels like a living poem. But I don’t want to write about the people here. I want to write with them.   First published in The MOON Magazine

17 Ways To Love Authors  My writer friends and I do our best to promote one another’s work to a wider audience. Most writers do this for each other. If you’re inspired, take a tip or two from us and show some authors your love.

Everyone’s A Poet  When people talk about extremes they’ve experienced they speak as poets do. They rely on verbal shorthand made up of sensory description and metaphor. They drift from past to present, change viewpoints, dip into myth and scripture. Often they end abruptly, as if what they’re trying to say can’t truly be expressed. Their stories, powerful already, gain a sort of beauty that sends ordinary language aloft. It’s truth that trembles. To me, it’s poetry.

Poetry’s Origin Story or Why Drink Skáldskapar Mjaðar   Norse legend tells us how poetry began. It’s a bit more scatological than you might imagine.

Poetry Writing Impulse  When I took my manuscript to the post office to be weighed, addressed to “Poetry Editor,” I felt faintly ashamed, as if publicly admitting I squander time that could be devoted to more useful pursuits. The Puritan ethic dies slowly.   Sunlight Press

Clichés I suggest the problem is not the plot but the clichéd writing. That’s when my marriage comes into question.  The Blue Nib

Author Photo Angst   Looking awkward is one of my natural gifts. I probably look awkward in photos because I am awkward in real life.

Learning

Math Beyond The School Mindset   Mathematicians tell us and research shows nearly everything about the way math is taught, is wrong.    Tipping Points

How We Shortchange Gifted Kids   Seven crucial ways we can better foster every child’s gifts.

How Kids Benefit From Chores  Sharing household responsibility with kids has a major impact on their learning, emotional intelligence, and long term success.   Life Learning Magazine

Fun Theory    I’m not aware of any official Fun Theory in the field of learning. But fun shimmers under the surface of motivation and focus like a very big fish.    Home Education Magazine 

Organized Sports Are Not Play  How organized sports have co-opted play and why early organized sports aren’t a great option for kids.    Tipping Points

Climb, Swing & Snuggle: Reading Readiness Involves the Whole Body  Readiness isn’t created by workbooks or computer programs. It’s the result of brain maturation as well as rich experiences found in bodily sensation and movement.  Natural Life Magazine

Kids’ Misbehavior: “Good Old Days” vs Now People in their 80’s and 90’s gave me perspectives I could have encountered nowhere else. One angle new to me was how differently childhood was viewed by adults back when they were growing up.

Loose Parts: What You Need To Know  You probably know the old cliché about kids playing longer with the box a toy came in then the toy itself? It’s true.

Collective Intelligence In Action  When schools don’t work we struggle, debate, break away, collaborate, and reinvent.  Tipping Points 

Five Ways Frugal Living Benefits Kids  I’m talking big benefits. Some of them life-long.  Natural Life Magazine *

The Boy With No Toys  Find out how one child may actually benefit as he grows up without a single purchased plaything.   Natural Life Magazine 

Subversive Way To Promote Map Use By Kids  A casual yet entirely underhanded way to advance geographical familiarity. Sometimes involves dragons.  Wired.com/geekmom

Game of Slurs  Fair warning, the game is not for everyone.   DeepFun.com

Sprouting Plant Advocates “She wanted me to kill it Mom!” he said, wide-eyed at the injustice…    Green Prints issue 77

Educating Too Early   Structured learning is downright counterproductive for young kids. Here’s why.   Wired.com/geekmom

How To Raise Word Lovers   It takes one simple object you probably have lying around the house.   Wired.com/geekmom

Do You “Tell” About Santa?   Decades ago I had the gall to express my doubts to a fellow kindergartener. That didn’t go well. So I had no intent of lying to my own kids.  Wired.com/geekmom

 

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Community Building & Peace

Humanity Is A Search Engine  Surely it is encoded in our genes to pass on the specific, essential knowledge we’ve gained,

I Heckle, You Heckle, Let’s All HeckleThese days the word “heckle” has entirely negative connotations. Lets hop on a wagon to the past where this word meant much more.

Bringing Kids Back To The Commons Five ways to involve young people in the workings of the community around them.  Front Porch Forum

Start A Playgroup In A Retirement Home  The first few playgroup sessions tested us. Not the nursing home residents, but the parents.

We Don’t Need No Age Segregation The tale of a teen seeking his own adult role models, a radical concept in today’s safety-obsessed culture.   Shareable.com 

Fighting Mean World Syndrome   How do you come down with it? What’s the cure?  Wired.com

40 Ways Kids Can Volunteer: Toddler to Teen  When we make service work a normal part of our lives we don’t simply teach our children strong core values, we demonstrate these values in action.

Acts of Kindness That Take Moments  Kindness sets in motion a ripple effect far greater than we might imagine. Have one minute? Five minutes? Here’s what you can fit in these moments.

Perform Guerrilla Encouragement Efforts   Acts of encouragement that you can commit with a child’s help.   Wired.com/geekmom

Logic Shrink  Heated political rhetoric sets us apart from one another and erodes what’s left of civil discourse. It grinds the worthy concept of “logic” into dust. Not any more. Not when we fight back with an open source game I’m calling Logic Shrink.   Shareable.net 

Crisis Can Bring Out The Best In Us  Even those suffering the most horrific misfortune often turn around to aid others and later remember it as the defining moment of their lives. This is a testament to the human spirit, as if disaster cracks us open to our better selves.   Wired.com/geekmom

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Farming

What Does The Word Farmer Mean?  People who farm, even if harvesting enough to feed only their families, are at the cutting edge of a new revolution. Daily experience helps them understand more directly the perfect intersection of water, soil, and sunlight.  Minding Nature Journal

A Cow’s Life When we were new to farming, everything we read warned that a calf left with its mother to nurse freely was likely to develop scours, a potentially fatal condition. We couldn’t imagine that nature had it wrong…   Culinate.com

Neighborhood Cows & Pigs: Real Food Sovereignty  We can learn from traditions abandoned only a few generations ago by bringing back neighborhood livestock.    Shareable.net

Growing Up Sarcastic & Self-Sufficient On The Farm  I was raised to be quiet and deferential to others. (Fist-shake at outdated values.) Perhaps as a direct result, I wanted to insure that my own children felt free to be themselves.   Radio Free School

The Queen’s Gift   It’s human nature to look for signs. Easy success appears to be a portent of even better things to come. Enough bad luck and we tend to think perhaps we’re meant to change direction. Give up. Run away.    Farming Magazine winter 2009

Adventures with Isabelle  Within 24 hours of Isabelle’s arrival, we understood how the nursery-rhyme cow might have jumped over the moon.   Grit Nov/Dec 2007

Sold to the Highest Bidder  “There’s a lot of talk about maintaining family farms, but there’s not much done,” Owen says. “Over the years, the total amount of dollars kept local by the auction is in the millions.  That means hanging on to farms for a lot of people.”  Grit July/Aug 2008

Learning From The Wisdom Of Elder Farmers True connection to the land is so easily crushed beneath the weight of society’s pressing demand for immediate gratification and quick profits. But then, much is lost. Perhaps most obviously, common sense is lost. Small farms are actually more efficient.

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Humor

Vegetation Attack Disrupts Peace Meeting   The dark leaves seemed to grow as they headed toward my lips. Since the food was partway in my mouth it was too late to throw the whole action in reverse. So I shoved the rest of it in, afraid that I looked like one of those mulching machines grinding a tree branch.   DreamofThings.com

What Not To Do While Being Interviewed    It may be a coincidence, but I haven’t been asked to do a single interview since.

Goose & Honda: A Love Story  Louise spotted a distant glimmer.  It was so alluring her wide orange feet quickly pitter-pattered up to the front yard. There she saw Honda for the first time, his shiny surface and tempting shape alluring in ways only a goose of her caliber might recognize.

Dangerous Accessories  I gasped in horror as the mirror revealed the depths of my scarf’s treachery.

Shunned by Polite Society Our smiles and greetings were completely ignored, as if we were low ranking primates walking slack-shouldered around the perimeter of alpha animals. Fine with me.    Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k)

Beauty. Danger. Confusion.  I suddenly spotted something ahead of us. I gasped. I flung my arm out to stop Christie. I suspect we came to such an abrupt halt that we both wavered like cartoon characters.

When Toys Attack   From a toy’s point of view, being a plaything probably isn’t all fun and games.  Wired.com

Remind Me To Enunciate  I speak with what we in upper Ohio consider to be no accent at all and it didn’t occur to me that he’d misunderstood. But he had.

Brilliant Trousers   I was called “Smarty Pants” a few too many times in my childhood. A little girl who can’t keep sarcastic asides to herself isn’t silenced by a nonsense term, especially when the invective is hurled by underpaid math teachers who are encased in terribly unflattering polyester slacks. The ultimate not-smart pants.   Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k)

Chronically Awkwards Anonymous   Technically it’s not possible for those of us who are chronically awkward to remain anonymous. It’s not something we can easily hide. I know this for a fact.

Dread Experience.  He looked the way our dog does when he’s been outside after the rain and his belly is a dangling chandelier of mud.  Errant Parent

Naked With My Editor   Freelance writing isn’t what I expected.   Wired.com/geekmom

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Health & Holistic Living 

Will Fracking Impact My Family?   It’s happened here. I take a close look at the disclosure, rights, health, and environmental impact.   Wired.com/geekmom

Flapping My Wings  Our bodies are internal guidance systems with immeasurable storehouses of wisdom to share with us, as long as we actually take the time to pay attention.

Your Aural History  Sound has a way of sinking into us, linking with sensation and emotion to form lasting memories.

Yes, Diet Can Affect A Child’s Behavior  Our children’s minds and bodies are built by what they eat. Some children (like mine) are much more sensitive than others.    Culinate.com

Junk Food Changes Your Behavior Never mind eating it. Just glimpsing fast food logos changes the way we think and act.   Culinate.com

Fed Up With Mandatory Snacking  I’ll never live down my reputation as the anti-snack mom in a certain group. Ok, in pretty much every organized activity my kids have been in.  Mothering.com

Eating Like Monsters: 12 Ways To Get Kids To Eat Well   Promote relaxed and healthy eating without power plays, bribes, and frustration.  Culinate.com

Don’t Sit Up Straight  Sit as if you’ve got a tail, plus other unexpected hints.  Wired.com/geekmom   

Dandelions Celebrate spring by eating this nutrient-packed, colorful plant.  Natural Life

34 Ways To Raise Nature-Loving Kids  Although time spent in unspoiled areas is vitally important, children can experience nature in their own way and on their own terms every day, even in the smallest city apartment.  excerpted from Free Range Learning

Your Wallet Changes the Marketplace  A quiet revolution based on information and idealism is changing the marketplace.  Wired.com/geekmom

alternatives to processed dog treats, including recipes. Y our pets will happily serve as taste testers. 

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Spirituality & Religion

Doorknobs  “I hope there’s some kind of eternity,” she says with sudden candor, “but how do I know which religion will get me there? I can’t just suddenly decide to be a Baptist or a Buddhist and  …  believe.”

Bonfire Revelations  None of us were familiar with faith discussed in such personal terms. He looked around the circle with an expression kids know all too well. It’s the look teachers get when they are going to call on someone.   How To Pack For Church Camp anthology

Gratitude Works In The ER  Then I considered this might be my last day. What did I want from it?   Gratefulness.org

We Are One Being  We are entangled in a universe so holographic that we can’t help but sense the oneness that has been there all along.     Braided Way

The Spirit Wakes To Music  The most healing music often comes from composers who themselves suffered from depression and other forms of mental illness. Perhaps despair transmuted into beauty more profoundly eases other people’s suffering.  Braided Way 

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