There are things that happen and leave no discernible trace,
are not spoken or written of, though it would be very wrong
to say that subsequent events go on indifferently, all the
same, as though such things had never been.
A.S. Byatt, Possession
Yesterday, Joanne sparked some memories of choices made along the way when she wrote about "the road not taken".
I have always been fascinated by these moments of decision, and how persons and events align to point us in one life direction or another. I have also noticed that these seminal events or people sometimes can be modest or even inconsequential in others' eyes, yet have great influence on us.
In my own case, I knew for years, even in elementary school, that I wanted to be a psychologist. I can identify only two events that pushed me in that direction. Both were very significant to me, although no one else seemed to notice.
I clearly recall designing my first, formal behavioral intervention when I was six during the first week of First Grade. I noticed that the girl sitting next to me sucked her thumb. I was horrified for her, and worried about the teasing and humiliation I was sure she would be subjected to, so I said to her, "You need to stop sucking your thumb. I'll help you stop. Ever time I see you suck your thumb, I'll pull your hair." Oddly enough, she agreed, and I proceeded to yank whenever I noticed the target behavior. I remember being so excited when I noticed a decrease in thumb sucking as the first days of school progressed, and was equally disappointed when the teacher, for no good reason I could think of, changed the seating chart and she was out of my reach. The girl in question went on to be my very best friend and godmother to my children. She has no recollection of our plan or the hair pulling.
The second event that pushed me toward my profession occurred in Sixth Grade, when my teacher, who read aloud to the class each day, chose to read Dibs in Search of Self by noted Play Therapist, Virginia Axline. It chronicles the course of therapy by Dr. Axline with a very emotionally disturbed child. The book is a pretty strange choice to read to a bunch of sixth graders, but when I heard her read that book, I decided then and there that I had found my calling. I don't know if any one else in that class liked the book or even remembers it-my best friend certainly doesn't.
Is there a moment in your personal history that was by all appearances ordinary to those around you, but turned out to be influential to you in a significant way?
nice blog. to wing it at the last moment is pretty daring. to use yesterdays blog in todays intro suggests that you were not edited by dale.
i am still waiting for some devine realazation that i am on the right path. i got off into the artsy stuff in high school when a bunch of guys who had been playing in a band for years decided they needed a new direction. they chose me to be the lead singer, asked me to be the front man and lead the direction of the group. it felt a little odd to be asked to come into an already existing existing situation and be the leader but i didn't realize at the time that that is the way it works. some people don't want to lead and some can't help it. the arts and the spotlight had their influences and have led me to be a strong advocate of the arts. i told my kids this was supposed to make you aware of the arts community not to create another starving artist. but i do love artists of all kinds and the eyes they see the world through. i also realized i have to run my own deal and have told people who offer me jobs that i am a great worker but a really poor employee. i can't do commitees, tried failed i'll pass. i used to be surprised in school how i could really get interested in any subject, history english science psychology
philosophy art math and the beauty of it is that it is very easy to enjoy another view and get off into that for a while,
i still get flack for not focusing on one confined area and naling it but my eye wanders ands takes in not only what it is loooking at but what is next to what it is i am looking at and then i study that for a while. it makes for easy transition to the next thing but drives the co travelers on a journey a bit crazy at times that i do not pay exclusive attention to the task at hand. no single event , just a string of steps to get here. the road as we discussed yesterday.
Good Morning Renee and Heartlanders! The quote at the start of your blog is from one of my favorite books, Renee. I think I will have to see on which bookshelf it is stashed and read it again.
Very interesting question. I have always envied the people who seemed to KNOW what they wanted to be at an early age. It took me a while to figure that out. My Dad used to say, "When you are feeling your happiest, stop and observe what it is you are doing. That may help you decide what you want to be in life.' Eventually that advice bore fruit when I discovered I like being around people who are ill! I have happily been in Imaging/Radiology for thirty years.
Oh - better run! Got to go to work!
Joanne -- I also am amazed at winging it the day before and winging it so well. I've been sitting here trying to think of some pivotal moment. Mostly what is coming up for me are the many moments when something didn't go the way I wanted, and then on later reflection I realized that it turned out just fine, in fact, as well as I could have hope for! 20 years ago, I applied for my current job 3 times - couldn't even get an interview. Finally took another job in the same company/division to get my proverbial foot in the door. It took me a year to get the job I wanted, but in the meantime, I got a whole world of perspective on how my current position relates to this other department, which was valuable back then and is still valuable today. It has always made me glad that I didn't actually get the job I wanted the first time around!
Renee - beautifully written and thought-provoking. you must have been a listener from the start - to your self and your leanings, and to others like the teacher that read that book to you. the one kid in the class that would hear it, maybe. and you may agree, that reaching one in 25 or 30 is a great accomplishment.
my question is does your best friend still suck her thumb? ha, ha.
have to think about the moments - too many are flooding me right now and i want to read what others say. i'll mull it while i milk.
thank you Renee - beautifully crafted. i think you must be very good at what you do.
Renee - apologies... was responding to the fact that you bounced your topic off Joanne's!
Good Morning All,
Well, that is an interesting story you tell about those two events that shaped your life, Renee. My life has been keep interesting by similar ordinary events, although I can't think of any certain events that were a major influence on me.
I enjoy meeting all kinds of people who I find interesting. I have many stories about students I had in class when I did substitute teaching and people I meet when working. at Hormel Foods. In any of the jobs or organizations I have belonged to I find interesting people who could probably would be called ordinary people.
I especially remember a group of Philippino women I visited with when working at Hormel. They were very friendly and I learned a lot about their country and their lives which I found very interesting.
off topic in an ode to clyde:
every little disaster
keeps coming on faster and we respond in a wink and a nod
every little triumph leads to
the response that it needs to and onward we go with a plod.
we wakeup once daily
and have something to sayly and onward we go to our blog
and the folk who are there
do seem to despair and concern as ideas hop like a frog.,
the thoughts that we are there with
and the stories we share with are daily testament to the human condition
and the blog is a running
so we can all show our cunning and endeavor on the writing tradition
clyde i see how it works
this autonomics’ stuff jerks ideas right out of your head
and it helps you lay them down
on a paper and drown them in syrup or pepper or dread
i just love the poems yesterday
about how boys and girls lean and play
so i thought I would open my head
and i see how you do it
and there’s really not that much to it just let it rip and write it down while in bed
i just realized i started off the blog attributing it to joanne instead of you. i am sorry to lead sherilee down the mistaken path also.
your insightful responses to the daily blogs will be noted with a new sense of understanding.
i will see if i can put my hands on dibs in search of self and learn more about your pivitol moment.
Greetings! I, too, am envious of people who know what they want to do at an early age and achieve it. Like Tim, something else catches my eye and seems quite interesting, but doesn't hold.
At age 5 or 6, I saw The Nutcracker Ballet on TV. For the next week I was jumping, leaping and pirouetting around the house, trying to emulate what the beautiful ballerinas did on TV. Unfortunately, I didn't get ballet lessons until 8th grade -- which is practically geriatric age to start ballet. I've always loved dance, but it was not to be. Plus, my genetics don't quite fit the typical ballerina. But I'm loving karate and enjoy that same type of drama and physicality.
I am assuming Renee was told by Dale what was coming before her and that's hoe she put in the reference--right, Renee? Not to diminish what you wrote. Very noce. Reminds me of my pastor daughter who knew at about first grade what was her call. This was before I was in the pulpit or had plans to do so and with a pastor who told the children that women could not be pastors. He now has to two pasotr daughters-in-law and has had three female pastors emerge from those to whom he told that. MY daughter has no specifgic moment like this.
Nice tim. It all sort of fits in the last three days I think, in your baggy rummaging kind of way. I too jump from thing to thing but only had one real jobv shift as an adult. It is hoobbies and art forms in which I shift.
Renee, if you don't mind, I will clarify situation with our two blog entries. Just for the record, both were written well in advance and edited by Dale. He noticed that Renee's and mine were similar subjects and placed our entries one after the other.
Dale probably added the line referring to my blog from yesterday -- not to take anything away from Renee's fine piece and insightful writing. Just FYI ...
Now to the topic Renee raises so well. This time I will take time to correct my typing.
A call to lay ministry is very rare and sort of difficult to pull off. But I knew it was going to happen and that it would happen. Two people came up to me and I knew what they were going to ask and there was nothing to indicate that.
As I have told before my wife and I got married very quickly and stupidly. People thought we were being foolishly romantic, but that describes neither of us. We knew what it was going to take to make it work in the long-term.
Nice topic and intro, renee.
I was the kind of kid who kept hearing in school that I was not living up to my potential. I used to wish "my potential" could do my homework so I'd have more time to play.
At some point I noticed that my teachers were praising me for writing well, and that encouraged me to try harder. It didn't always work. With acute embarrassment I remember a paper on Shakespeare that referred to the bard as "our boy Will." My teacher flagged that one for me to correct. But note: I was experimenting with the writer's voice, not just churning out the usual gruel.
In high school I was assigned to write a poem. I chose to write in the voice of Ben Jonson telling William Shakespeare he understood his greatness. My poem wasn't bad, and it encouraged me to think of myself as a writer.
All these decades later, I smile to remember the last line:
"The last echoes of your weakest line
Still thunder o'er the best of mine."
Hey we have the real live Dale here today, right? A treat. I assumed it would be next Monday. So how does it feel, Dale, to be indestinghuishable from JASPER?
To follow up from yesterday and a handi-capped sticker. The state of MN will not issue a permanent sticker to people with lupus. She did get a short term one, for 7 months, for which she can then reapply. Now, when you consider the course of the disease . . . My wife and I have been laughing since about that policy. So she says she is now getting her affairs in order.
Yes, Dale had a role in the first line or two so that the posts fit together like cogs in a well-oiled machine. The topics were, as Joanne explains, serendipitous.
Steve, the new writing program, which is a much better approach, not used everywhere but widely, called the five-part approach, does include teaching students to find a writer's voice. I would have flagged it but asked you if it was consistent use of voice and consistent with the purpose but would have encourage you to try a different sort of paper now and then. Thus I once got a paper from a student called "Hawthrone Goes to an Agate Baskbetball Game" when I had assigned a standard analysis in a three-part format. (The cheerleaders wearing a maroon A on a white sweater was the key to his fun.) He is now an editor as well as writer. I am amazed at how many of my former students are writers of various kinds, which I have learned through facebook. This has nothing to do with me, just the direction of employment today.
Running late this morning - lovely writing Renee! Will mull the topic while I scurry off to Corporate America and try to check in again later.
Steve in St. Paul - are you a writer by profession? Can you share what type of position you have or if you write independently? Just curious ... thank you.
i like our boy will, but you and i most likely got the samne thumpin at different times different places.good last line. it is worth remembering
clyde glad to see your back in form. the lay ministries is what my mom aspired to. i am a recovering catholic (see my knuckles) whose parents joined all the groups in the church basement (catholics eat jello too) and was learning latin at age 7 for the alter boy schtick. i remember getting the honor of doing the high mass on easter sunday three of four years into the program and having my fellow alter boy looking over at me with disparraging glances and finally the priest turned and tried to burn some holes in my head with his disapproving stare. i had no idea... i was kneeling there waiting for the right tiome to ring those monster bells they used for high mass and while i was waiting i was shebopping a tune under my breath unaware. i was evidentally choureographaphing with head bobbing and shoulder jive. off in lala land while the priest ranted on in latin some rythemic mumbo jumbo he had in his monster bible for easter sunday extravaganza. i didn't do the big masses after that. another 3 or 4 months i was uncalled. just not scheduled in for the services. two years of latin down the drain. catholics in the 60's. more rambling for the psychology segment of our blog. my kids ask religious questions and are surprised that i have knowledge about all the background. got stumped the other day. asked a martin luther question. you know catholics never give him a minute. i told him .., being lutheren is easy just be a catholic and when you get to a hard part, throw that rule out.
not to stir things up at all....
Hmmm, I said I was a writer, which is true enough, but I didn't say I'd made a decent salary with it.
I spent several years in the lowest circle of hell for a writer, working as an "outdoor writer." Most of them are not really writers and most, in fact, aren't outdoors all that much. But it was a sort of writing and I got to sneak in a well-written piece now and then.
I then spent 20 years as a freelance writer of magazine articles and books (mostly about critters). If I had your email I'd send you a free copy of my wolf book.
Tim -- too funny! I, too, am recovering Catholic from Catholic grade school, Latin mass, etc. Don't know about you, but I loved "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons." Lots of arcane Catholic lore, rules, politics and colorful history. Learned a lot from Dan Brown's books about The Catholic Church in general. But I do honor everyone's right to worship their deity in the manner they choose.
Clyde, I wonder if your students would also say that having you as a teacher had "nothing to do" with them becoming writers. I suspect they would give you more credit than you give yourself.
Yes, I'm back in the studio today and am enjoying the discussion as I try to re-learn my job. It doesn't take many days away to forget important details and routines.
Thanks to Renee and the guest blogging volunteers for filling in this week!
Tim-but children do stir things up, don't they. It's been my experience that kids will do what ever they have to do to get their needs met, even if those things make no sense to the adults or get them into enormous trouble. I always try to keep that in mind when I am assessing what is going on with the kids I see at work. Therapy with children is exhausting, especially play therapy with young children, during which I often find myself shot, stabbed, handcuffed, sent to the principal for 12 hours of detention, put in jail, or cooked elaborate meals with plastic food. It's hard to explain to people what I do, but it makes sense to the children and provides them a way of expressing through play what they can't with words.
Renee---I have read and re-read Dibs dozens of times! have not before run across anyone else who was shaped by it---especially as a 6th-grader! fascinating today to think of it being a book for the kids i'm starting to work with.
as with many other impt books, i ran across Dibs during my teen years on my parents' bookshelves....quite an ordinary event to go look for a new book to read, i guess, but finding Dibs, Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, and Lloyd Douglas's White Banners all resulted in significant building of my personal philosophies.
More recently, i vividly recall being literally stopped in my tracks upon hearing Dale play "How Would It Be" by Ellis on RH for the first time---the line about "how would it be if you really created your life?" was one of the spurs to my current adventure...
clyde i like the baggy rummaging description thanks.
my dad went in for the handicap sticker 3 or 4 times for the 6 month stints and then they issued an 8 year version when they were certain there was no turning back. they just don't have any awareness of how things progress or any gracuiousness about how htye choose for you to spend you time
Steve in St. Paul - I would be pleased to get your free book about wolves! Send to firstname.lastname@example.org -- as well as any other fine TB folks who want to contact me. I'm still waiting for TGiTHat to tell us when his novel is published.
Great stories, Renee, the image of you pulling that girl's hair! I'll think more about it, but all through elem. school, I thought I wanted to be a teacher, of the grade I was currently in. Got muddled in junior high when we had several teachers and subjects. Like Tim and Joanne, never have been able to just choose one thing, but I do think educating people is a calling of sorts, and have done it in other ways: having a little book business ("come and get it") in early 90s; and helping people re-do their spaces (former Space Wizard business) in early aughts.
I did read Dibs in Search of Self in an education or psych course in college -- powerful book, and yes, strange choice for 6th graders!
welcome, steve, good to have another free-lancer in the bunch, and another animal lover!
renee, you are my hero! i thought of Dibs so often during the 2 years i had a foster son....i remember one intense moment when Zach was playing with some magnetic toys and separated them into rods and steel balls, then rolled some of the balls off to the side and told me those were all the children whose parents didn't want them--wow.
welcome back, dale!
renee i had forgotten about the fact that i went to the university of minnesota and interviewed the head of the child psycholigy department as part of a careers chapter in high school. i thought i was interersted in the field and when i talked with the head of the department he evidently had the same difficulty explaining what he did as you do. it sounded like a long walk off a short pier. bless the people like you who look after the rest of us but i bet my shebopping off to la la land while someone was doing a session would be a problem. my mom was a gestault follower and while its wonderful to have an understanding of what lurkes within i get exausted enough without having it as part of my job description. thank you for your integrity and dedication. people who help people are what makes this world a special place.
My sixth grade teacher also read "Birch Coulee" a dramatization of the Sioux uprising in Minnesota. There were several passages that involved sexuality and alcohol usage, and when she got to those passages she would stop and say-"Oh I can't read that to you" which of course made me and several others get the book out of the public library to see what she was keeping from us.
A couple leap to mind...
I remember at about age 3-4, one of my brothers called me a brat. And, for some inexplicable reason, that hit me between the eyes like a baseball bat. I realized that he was right. And I started making a conscious effort to increase my patience, see things from others' points of view, and try to be a more balanced person.
I also remember at about age 10 being in Sunday school at church and being told that animals don't have souls. This was probably the first real crack between myself and the church. It was a significant revelation...pun intended.
is there a website where i can buy the wolfbook?
i envisioned the freelance writer as a following but got caught up in money. hard to shake. the american dream does get lost along the way if you are not paying attention.
there is some guy on my facebook page who travels all over the world and blogs about it on facebook. excellent pictures and descriptions of wonderful remote places and famous landmarks. life can be simple, then there is reality and all that stuff that comes up huh?
great (and deep) discussion today - i'm reading and admiring how well-read and mindful you all are. thanks so much.
and welcome back, Dale! good to hear you "live" again.
Your mention of pigtails brings up an old memory. When I got to grade school (many decades ago) the student desks were all bolted to the floor, lined up facing the front. The teacher walked on an elevated platform. This was all a metaphor for the true nature of education and the distribution of power back then.
Our desks had a hole in the upper right corner. We were told that those holes used to carry ink jars back when students wrote with pen and ink. They were now empty, we learned, because boys persisted in dunking girls' pigtails in the ink.
Schools change. Desks change. Hair styles change. But little boys carry on very much as they always have.
Renee, my non-poetic poem yesterday about males and females at different ages was started by watching people walk or be wheeled by my window on their way to the Buddy Holly School of psychology upstairs (I am only having fun; I have heard wonderful things about). I have started a poem about what their body language tells me about why they are going in and what happened at the appointment. Some incredible moments on the way out, wonderful are some, but not all. I once went to a workshop on teens, normal and in trouble, and their behavior. The presenter said that all of us are in the process of having our needs met, some in inappropriate and some in dangerous ways. That insight changed my teaching and how I dealt with students. Then years later I heard a man explain that gangs give teens everything they need and are not getting. A colleague became the dean of students, rule enforcer that is. He was going to whip those kids into shape with some football coach’s discipline that was lacking in their life. Then he started listening to them. By Christmas he wanted to take them all home and love them. And he was a tough man, in the state coaches hall of fame.
Dale, thanks for the comment on my teaching. I think most of teaching and learning are mystery, cause and effect are hard to determine, that it is actually a very spiritual event (not necessarily religious, just spiritual) and too often simplified to rote methods and divested of the human aspect which is all. So I avoid taking credit. Too man variables in their lives and the process.
And I was not going to post much today.
I was just thinking of my home town and books-I grew up in the town where Frederick Manfred lived, and there were none of his books in the school library and the public librarian wouldn't allow anyone still in school to check his books out-it was known by everyone in town (even if they hadn't read them) that Fred wrote dirty books. We were really impressed by those who boasted of fooling the librarian and getting their hands on one of those books.
so renee... you are still impressed by people who read dirty books?
clyde, i'm with dale. i had a couple of teachers who got it. most of them didn't. they were the ones who made the difference. they let you know there were thoughts to be nurtured and encouraged you to do your best whatever that was. and that has made all the difference.
Fred's books are pretty tame and townsfolk are pretty proud of him now. The local theatre troupe is named after his last big novel "The Green Earth". He really caused a lot of uproar in town in the 60's. He was almost 7 feet tall, and sometimes you would run into him, hiking in the local state park and he wouldn't be wearing anything but a tiny speedo swim suit. He really made town life interesting.
congtrats and thanks on the excellent blog for the day renee. very enjoyable
I love being in the company of folks who have to go get books that someone tells them they shouldn't read! My parents were very anti-censorship and always told me if I wanted to read something I could. That takes a lot of the fun out of it, so I had to resort to reading things that I knew might put their teeth on edge (Fear of Flying by Erica Jong is the one I remember most - it had a pretty racy cover for the time) and then leaving the book laying around for them to see. Am re-reading Catcher in the Rye this week, since JD Salinger passed a couple of weeks ago. Too bad my mother isn't here in Minneapolis so I can leave it laying around for her to see!
Two sort of related, but maybe not, thoughts:
I had a career counselor tell me I was a good story teller and an English teacher remembered me years later as "a good writer." Both comments have stuck with me and have spurred me to do some writing - mostly unpublished and in notebooks all over the house.The teacher that remembered me was a favorite of mine, so it made her words that much more powerful. Whether or not I have the "stuff" to write The Great American Novel (or anything noteworthy) is up for grabs - but I enjoy putting words together and will continue to do so.
Also got to thinking about themes that have come up throughout the week about paths taken, jobs, careers, etc., and got to thinking about my dad. He always has seemed content with where he was, but admitted when I was an adult that he hadn't liked his job - liked most of the people, but not the work. He clearly found joy elsewhere in his world and was able to use that to balance a job that was less than ideal. Taught me, without his realizing, that what you do for money does not need to be the be all and end all of who you are and what you do. And that if you can find a job that allows you to be able to do other things you enjoy, perhaps that is enough.
well said, Anna. my Dad worked very hard as a carpenter. he grew up (in that German-speaking household) working hard and didn't seem to learn about joy. i don't know if it was his generation, his parents, his personality, or what. he would be angry that things didn't go well at work (usually because someone didn't do things as perfectly as Dad expected them to ... didn't we hear about tearing down a brick wall because it wasn't staight?) but even on his (very infrequent) days off he'd go fishing (i think his only other outside interest besides his family) and he'd come home mad because his motor didn't work or the fish weren't biting or something. i asked him why he went fishing if he just got mad? he said it "made him mad in a different way." he died of a heart attack at 54 years of age. the cigarettes and asthma didn't help, but i'm sure it was the anger in his life that killed him. sometimes i think it is a luxury to look for joy in our lives; but sometimes i think we MUST have it in whatever form or we'll die.
barb--I have told myself since I was about 20 that I WAS NOT GOING TO BECOME THE ANGRY OLD MAN that my father was and who became just raw anger by age 60. So I have tried but keep feeling myself becoming him. Now here I am at age 65 just like him. MAN THAT TICKS ME OFF!!
MY father had a growly angy voice and did not like little boys (abusive step-father who beat him and his mother means that for him males are evil and women are perfect). His first grandchild was a boy who gave his mother, my father's perfect daughter, a hard time at birth, for which he was never forgiven. When that grandsom was about 14 months old, my father growled at him in a sentence of about 20 words. The grandson, turned around and in nonesense sounds exactly duplicated back at him the tone, pitch and stress pattern, and timber of my father's voice. My father never spoke to him again but never growled like tha again at any of his four grandsons.
Radio Heartland + Trial Balloon = JOY
Donna, so very, very true! amen
and amen, Cly de PO :-) but you don't sound like raw anger to us.... it's something we all think about - becoming our parents (good or bad, depending)
don't know if any of you ever saw Tracey Ullman's show when she portrayed a young woman getting into a small snit and then gradually transforming into her mother, vacuum in hand and ranting and raving, and then gradually back to her young self again.... scary.
barb--that was mostly a joke, about 90%. A German man like yours who grew up speaking German. His incorrect last name and mine is German for birchwood, which is a fit name for him. I do want to add that I have huge respect for my father. He expressed his love in the best way, by providing for his family through some hard times, not just food but a good basic way of life in which people take care of themselves from the basic earth, and was very good to my mother, another perfect woman in his life. He taught me much.
I believe joy is the natural human condition, what we're here for. Whatever comes between us and joy needs to be looked at. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks have written about the Upper Limit we sometimes experience when our guilt, etc., moves in because the joy we begin to feel is foreign and uncomfortable... Uffda, that sounds preachy.
Renee - I experienced a couple of sessions of sand play therapy as an adult (!) and found it very useful, and know of children who have been helped by it. Thank you from all of us.
Clyde - I'll bet one major difference exists between you and your father - you are aware of your anger and trying to go beyond.
Barbara-I use a sand tray on occasion, and I'm glad to hear you found it helpful. I haven't gone the whole Jungian hog with exculsive sand tray work as some therapists do, but you really can see the world in a grain of sand. Thanks to everyone for your comments. It's been a great day.