Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I am supposed be writing.

Maybe you are too.

I have several deadlines.
Approaching fast.

But...  I am reading email, researching new books on Amazon, buying new books on Amazon, getting caught up searching for something on Google... talking..... reading more emails,  playing spider solitaire, jotting down ideas for new blog posts, looking at more books on Amazon....talking..... looking on Google for what I was talking about.....

I am not writing.

At least not what I am supposed to be writing.
Those deadlined items.

I  can organize, plan, and prepare for upcoming events, presentations or whatever, making that take the better part of a day.

And at the end of the day, I bemoan the fact that I have not done any of the work I really needed to get done.


Tomorrow, I say.

I am a procrastinator.

I have elevated procrastination to a high art.

But, the one good thing about my putting off until tomorrow what can be done today is that I surprisingly I get many other things accomplished that don' t relate to the impending tasks.  

I can get an entire workshop planned while I am supposed to be writing an article.

I can answer the monumental backlog of emails and completely clear my inbox while I am supposed to be working on my blog.

I might complete the plans for the adult Bible study class I teach at my church while I am supposed to be writing my column for the church newsletter.

So... tomorrow--I will get to the items after while in the above sentences --those things I am supposed to be doing.  


Because of these doing-while-I am-supposed-to-be-doing-something-else habits, however, most folks think I am highly organized and efficient.  And I guess I  actually am, but that organization and efficiency in action does not look like people making this assessment might think?

Can I find my work and other materials easily?

Do I complete all that I need to do?

Do I make my deadlines?  

Is there any evidence of my procrastination if you are looking for it?
Not unless I tell you about it.

Culebra or Snake, one of the characters in Manana, Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul has also elevated procrastination to a fine art. 

 In this delightful variation of the Little Red Hen, Iguana is planning a party and wants help, but her friends all have excuses for not helping, including Culebra , who tells her he will help  manana, if he grows arms.


What can I do about procrastination?

There are tons of self-help books designed to help me, and maybe you too, eradicate the procrastination habit.

But when would I read them?  

After reading the email and playing spider solitaire, after jotting down new poem ideas, after..... 


This procrastination  habit plagues everybody. 

For upper elementary and middle school students looking to kick the habit, they may find the key in See You Later, Procrastinator by Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick.  Reasons for procrastination and types of procrastinators are examined, as well as some procrastination busters and helpful strategies  to combat the urge to put things off until later.

In The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging, and Postponing, John Perry perfectly describes my personal style of putting things off  as structured procrastination:
On the whole, I had a reputation as a person who got a lot done and made a reasonable contribution to Stanford University, where I worked, and to the discipline of philosophy, which is what I work on. A paradox. Rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum. I realized that I was what I call a structured procrastinator: a person who gets a lot done by not doing other things.

Click here to read or hear an NPR interview with Perry, as well as read an excerpt from his book. 

What do you put off until tomorrow?

How do you procrastinate?

Today's Deeper Reading Possibilities

In what ways do you procrastinate? How would you characterize your style of procrastination?

How does this habit affect your life and work?

If you do not procrastinate, reflect on a friend or family member who has this habit. 

How does this habit affect their life?

Write a personal narrative or essay about the many ways to procrastinate and how this habit affects your life and the lives of others.


Monday, June 24, 2013


What do you do with your leftovers?

In my house we relish a repeat of a delicious meal or a second opportunity to enjoy a favorite food eaten in a restaurant  the day before.

An extra crab cake.  
Three remaining shrimp in a wonderful cream sauce.
The delicious seafood Cobb salad I just ate from yesterday's meal at the Ocean Club.

Sometimes I intentionally divide the food on my plate when in a restaurant  so I can again savor  the dining experience the following day..

In my house, we tease each other, saying that we may eat the contents of the other's precious take-home box. Your shrimp may not be here when you get home, we say.
Warmed up dishes tend to taste better-- like spaghetti-- the sauce has soaked in and permeated the entire dish  with extra goodness.

When I was in college nothing was better than cold pizza leftover from the night before.


I am always surprised when I hear folks say they don't like or don't eat leftovers. They cook something brand new each day, creating a fresh dish for every meal.  

My husband won't eat leftovers, they say. My children won't eat food from the day before.  

They do not save the food from today.  

I have some definite opinions on that practice.  
But that is another post altogether.

Leftover food....

But what do we do with leftover writing?

I mean the stuff we cut out of the pieces we write.

Deleted words and  phrases--  sentences we have rewritten.   Paragraphs we cut from a piece-- for clarity, or style--for whatever reason.

Where do we put these scraps of words and what we you do 
with them?

I keep larger chunks of salvaged writing--not wanting to lose the time and thinking that went into creating what seemed like the right phrase or sequence or image,  even if it didn't work in the piece for which it was created.  

I don't save everything 

I don't keep every deleted word, line or idea.
But... sometimes I just like a sentence or a phrase---the way it sounds, the rhythm is seems to suggest, or an undiscovered potential lurking under the words..

Can I use these words again or that line?

Snippets can sometimes go into other pieces---or become pieces on their own.

Hi. My name is Robin and I am a bibliophile.  I confess that I have always been one.
This was the original  lead of an article I wrote that was published in the Columbus Dispatch,  Books to Tempting for Her to Resist  (First Person Column, December 27, 2008)

As I shared the essay in draft form with several trusted colleagues, the unanimous suggestion was to eliminate these lines.  I was, on the other hand, attached and committed to them, and despite  sage advice, submitted the piece with this line in tact. I think I did delete Hi.

The editor, or course, agreed with all of my kind writing colleagues and strongly suggested omitting  this unnecessary  bit.

I still keep these words though---perhaps, minus hi, they can become a poem, an essay,  or a novel.

 Several years ago I wrote a rather lengthy piece,  Why Tamu Can Not Swim:
The Historical Sociology (And Politics) of Little Black Girls and Their Hair, that I eventually turned into a Movie Maker Movie.  

Because of the length, I deleted anything that did not deal directly with hair.  This section on hats  and head coverings  fell victim to the revision knife. 

Covering our Hair

All little black girls who have grown up to be black women know            also the secret of covering their hair andCrowning their beauty with hats—like the church ladies
Crowned with wraps and geles and scarfs and hijabsAnd even contemporary ball capsHinting at the hidden glory that Paul
and the church ladies want us to hide.

At some point, perhaps this can become its own larger piece of writing. 

As I struggled persistently to write about the process and implications of retiring-- trying to explore and define this transition period, I gathered  a whole set of notes. 

After I finally  wrote two poems and a related blog post about retirement--there were notes that were left over--that may never be used, but still remain on my computer. Every now and then I  revisit these, searching for ideas to re-purpose.                      .

There are folders of deleted paragraphs and entire prompts that were deleted for various reasons from my book.

Sometimes I dig out one of these or part of one to use for a presentation or writing exercise.


So what do we do with leftover food?
We create hash, soup, casseroles.

I use left over turkey or beef to make hash served over toast or biscuits.

I use leftover chicken  to make a spicy, Caribbean black bean soup or fried rice or salad for a quick  lunch.

What kind of wonderful soup or casserole can we cook  up with our leftover chunks of writing?

What wonderful new dish can we create?

What do you do with you leftover writing?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Select a piece of writing that you  have deleted from a longer piece.

How can you  use this deleted writing?  
Can you use it as a first line for a new poem or essay?
Can you end an unfinished piece with a section of deleted text ?

Write an essay about how you delete lines, sentences, or paragraphs and how these excised words can be repurposed.

Friday, June 21, 2013


What if?


I wonder...

Good conversations,  most creative and timely inventions, as well as important research and investigations that will inform our lives and work, often begin with questions.

Most wonderful new ideas arise out of wondering.

We naturally are wondering, question-oriented creatures.

So much so that every several years there is a "question " book on the best-sellers list.
These books are marketed as conversation starters, ways to get to know people you know better, potential interview questions, or party games. 

The Book of Questions

What is the role of questioning in our learning and teaching, in our growing and exploring?

Question is related to quest.   

As we question, we are seeking--we are on a journey. 

We wander in physicality and solidity.  

We wonder in mentality and spirituality .

4000 Questions
And the end result of the journey is that we often see in new ways
We come to exemplify Marcel Proust's view:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. 

Questions help us to envision new possibilities, new opportunities, and new journeys. They enable us to see our lives, our relationships, our experiences, and interactions in new  and unexpected ways.

Pablo Neruda wrote a book of poems composed completely of questions. There are not necessarily answers to the questions posed, but rather they serve as meditations on what we know and what is beyond our known. They point us to more questions and wonderings.

Poem XXIV begins:

Is 4 the same 4 for everybody?Are all sevens equal? 
When a convict ponders the light  is it the same light that shines on you?
For the diseased, what color do you think April is?

Today I discovered a delightful companion book to Neruda's book-- Talking to Neruda's Questions by  M.T.C. Cronin -- comprised of poems that each respond directly to Neruda's 74 poems, line by line, question by question. 

Pam Munoz Ryan honors the role of questions in the the life of Pablo Neruda in her biography The Dreamer.  Pages of poetic questions are interspersed throughout  the narrative of Naphtali, as Neruda was called.

Which is sharper? The hatchet that cuts down dream? Or the scythe that clears a path for another?
We all wonder lots of stuff about real and imaginary people.
We all have questions that have plagued us always.  

Amy Krouse Rosenthal offers us stories, short poems, lists, and other wonderings that will delight all ages in The  Wonder Book.

I wonder if laughing hyenas ever cry...
I wonder  why it's called getting "dressed" when you put on your pants...

How many of us have children who delayed their bedtime with questions and more questions?  How many of us used that same tactic ourselves?

The little boy in Regina  J. Williams's What If... effectively uses his imagination to wonder a bit  before he must turn off his light.

And what if...People everywhere would dance and sing and be happy.And there was only sunshine and love so all the scary monsters would go away forever...

 Not only can we reach beyond our wildest dreams with wonderings and questions, but we can also dig deeper into the real world. 

We can begin scientific investigations, seek historic answers, and wonder through the newspaper and the events of the day.

 In Questions,Questions, Marcus Pfister raises  real world questions in charming couplets that invite us to wonder more.

Once real-world questions are raised, we can then hypothesize investigate,  gather evidence,  raise new questions, explore and learn.

Lisa Wheeler introduces us to a little girl who wants a pet in The Pet Project. Her parents encourage her to research, formulate a query, observe......and then they would talk again.

 In humorous poems we accompany the little girl as she conducts a full research project,  investigating animal after animal, and comes to a disappointing, yet conclusive end... a new direction to research.

Richard Van Camp is  from the Dogrib nation, which uses dogs instead of horses.  He has always wondered about horses and poses this question that is also the title of his book: What's the most beautiful thing you know about horses?

The rich reflective answers he gathers enrich our understanding of horses, but also provide us with a new way to see the world and our selves.

As a teacher, wondering, questioning and  following the what ifs always leads to better thinking and learning and  teaching...and more questions.  

For  more than a year I was part of a teacher-inquiry group comprised of Columbus Area Writing Project teachers.  We studied both traditional research and teacher/action research, as well as conducting our own research.  

Several of our readings emphasized the important role of wondering.  In our main text,The Art of Classroom Inquiry:A Handbook for Teacher-Researchers, Hubbard and Power tell us:
Nothing shapes our research as much as the questions we ask… the questions come from the real-world observations and dilemmas.Teachers-researchers pay attention to the  “what-ifs” that occur...   

What do you want to know?

Where are you wondering about?

What are your "what-ifs..."?

Who will you ask?

 Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

List questions and wonderings and what ifs  about your life, work, relationships, events, experiences, observations, concerns or problems ?

Can you create a poem using several questions like those of Pablo Neruda?

Try creating a  humorous  puzzle, short story, or other piece based on your wonderings.

What are your real-world questions?  How can you investigate and research to gather answers?

Write a personal narrative or essay about something about which you have always wondered.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I got caught up.

I got caught up in the sadness.

I got caught up in the sadness and mourning the loss.

I got caught up in the sadness and mourning the loss of a quintessential man 
of justice and peace.

I got caught up in the sadness,
and mourning the loss of a quintessential man of peace and justice,
I posted a Rest in Peace statement
before I checked the sources
before I knew the facts
before I had triangulated the information.

I apologize to anyone who read my Facebook posting and began to also sink into sadness.
I am sorry for anyone who began to mourn the loss of Nelson Mandela prematurely, as I did.

I am reminded of the often quoted statement The rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Mark Twain  made the original and similar statement (The report of my death was an exaggeration) in response to an item reporting his serious illness and his death in the New York Journal (June 2, 1897).  Actually it was his cousin who was sick at the time.

I should have known better.

I should have double-triple-quadruple checked my facts.

I have personally and recently berated mainstream media for this exact same error, for causing this exact same confusing situation.

I have been  loud and adamant about this.

The news outlets rush in a media frenzy to be first to scoop the competition.  To titillate,  to speculate, and to tease is not news, but can result in the same being received as news by us, the public--- then gets repeated as fact-- accepted without question, without further investigation or inquiry.

It happened with the Newtown Shooting.

The name of the shooter had not yet been released.  I had just heard that caveat on  NPR , as they deliberately waited for the official release, but then turned  in the next  minute  to a hear another station announce a name--- an incorrect name-- the name of the shooter's brother, who had nothing to do with the massacre at New town.

It happened with the Boston Bombing.

Many news outlets incorrectly reported an arrest in the case when there was none. John King went a step further and erroneously reported that an arrest had been made of a dark-skinned suspect. 

The resulting responses were fast and furious. That was just one of many erroneous reports.  Click here to view other incorrect reports related to this incident.

Regret the Error hosted at is devoted to errors in the news media.  Click here to read about several Obama/Osama confusions/typos and also the latest posts.

There are  incentives to be first-- to provide an exclusive report.

But we have to stop-- just as we would before passing on juicy gossip and ask:  

Is the information accurate?
How do we know what we know?
Can our information  be verified ?
Can our source(s) be verified?

I have been quick to criticize this premature/inaccurate reporting behavior, yet I was also quick to fall into the power of having and responding  to information in my possession in a "timely" manner-- thus posting wrong information.

Social media can promote this--- I am a case in point.
Anyone can post-- anyone can post anything, at anytime.

I fell into the social media hoax about Nelson Mandela and furthered the lie.

I got caught up in the sadness,
....and mourning the loss of a quintessential man of peace and justice,
I posted a Rest In Peace statement for Nelson Mandela who is currently alive, improving in health, and engaging with his family.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibility

How do you know what you know?  How do you verify information you hear or read? How do you decide when and how to pass on what you hear and read?

What is news?

Think about a time when you passed on incorrect information.  What happened as a result?

Think about a recent news story.  What else would you have liked to know about the event?

Write an essay or personal narrative about reporting news from one of the above perspectives.    

Monday, June 17, 2013


We can write anywhere.

When we get an idea, no matter where we are, we can capture it on a napkin, the back of a business card, or a scrap of paper from our pocket.  

Or we can text, email, or voice message the raw kernel to ourselves.

We can write any place--in a restaurant, on a park bench, in our car, on a plane.
We can write any time-- while waiting for a friend,  before a meeting begins-- whenever we are early or others are late.

We can write any time, any where.

But.... there are some places that inherently inspire writing.

Angels on Middle Path
As soon as we arrive in that place or space, we are filled with words and phrases and  incisive insights that begin to arrange themselves in poetic lines or precise prose.

Writing pours so fast from our well of imagination and ideas flood our minds so quickly in these spaces that we can't find the paper fast enough, our fingers are not nimble enough to capture them all.

Pieces arrive in their entirety; we only need to be their conduit and scribe.

For me, one of those places is the campus of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
Old Kenyon Hall

Each time my car ascends the hill to enter the campus (OH- 308/Wiggins St.) and then turns onto Gaskins Avenue, I feel like I have come home.  As I pass the Kenyon Inn,  the Village Inn pub and the wonderful Book Store, my mind exhales, knowing in the next inhaled breath writing possibilities will begin to flow.

Kenyon's beauty, history and aura foster what Donald Graves called a constant state of composition.

Cross at Kenyon Hall
The Church of the Holy Spirit
There, I have done some of my best writing. Several poems of which I most proud arrived as gifts,  while sitting in front of the Market on Gaskins, the dining hall at Peirce, at the small desk in my room, or in the choir pews of the beautiful Church of the Holy Spirit.

Many writers have special places in which they write best or that inspire much of their writing.

We are introduced to the beauty, the mysteries and the power of the nature, as Mary Oliver  walks us around her backyard, guides us though a  nearby woods, or forces us to look differently at a particular tree. She eloquently guides us through the marshland  and along the coast line of Provincetown, Massechusetts in A Thousand Mornings.

We look  back to the Middle East with Naomi Shihab Nye as she explores that world of her father from her Arab-American standpoint. She is constantly inspired by the land, the language, the people and the experiences that change her there. We can be inspired along with her in 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East.

Natasha Trethewey, 2007  winner of the Pulitzer Prize and current United State Poet Laureate, explores the Louisiana past of her grandmother, dwelling there in the  haunting visions she sees through her grandmother's eyes. She offers us and chance to  revisit this place and time in Native Guard.

And each time I read  poems from The Blessing of Rain and Other Poems by Tregenza A. Roach, I am transported back to the Caribbean to walk the streets with him of his native St. Kitts  and I remember my times in his current home in St.Thomas, another special writing place for me.  I have a series of ocean/island poems written during several stays.

Where are the places that inspire your writing?

What space  allows you to enter into a writing frame of mind. 
What places hand you ideas, in tact, simply asking you to write them down?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Where are the places that inspire you to write?
List the places in which you feel you have done extraordinary writing.

What is it about these places that inspire you to write?

You may want to photograph your favorite writing place for further inspiration.

How can you recreate those things  in a different locations such as your home?

Write a narrative, essay or poem about your special writing place.

Friday, June 14, 2013


When Donald Hall's mother died at the age of ninety, he emptied her house and moved seventy or eighty boxes to his own house. 

His wife, Jane Kenyon,  was sick at the time and later died.  He did not unpack the boxes until several years after his wife died.

In Unpacking the Boxes : A Memoir of a Life in Poetry , Hall, the former 2006-2007 Poet Laureate of the United States, writes about unpacking the boxes from which his " childhood rose like a smoke of moths":
There were reams of manuscript, a thousand poems, novels I wrote at seventeen and nineteen; high school magazines with my poems and stories--the antique tracks of poetry and ambition.  I found a high school theme called " The Wild Heifers." If found a verse play called The Folly of Existences. The unpacked boxed laid out my childhood and adolescence as if they assembled a model train.

In the Columbus Area Writing Project, it has become our tradition to invite our summer institute participants to unpack their literacy artifacts and reflect on their literacy lives in an assignment we call the Archaeological Dig.

As participants, we all dig through our lives looking for artifacts that represent, illustrate, or otherwise connect to our development as writers and readers.

What have our parents saved from their childhood literacy experiences?

What torn and tattered papers remain?  What pieces of a past reading and writing life emerge as we sift through boxes and draws and cedar chests, scavenge in basements and attics and hidden recesses of our homes, our mothers' homes, our grandmothers' home?

After excavating our former literate selves, we bring these items, along with a literacy narrative around the artifacts, and display them on  our retreat.  The manner of presentation for each varies considerably--from loose papers and a few posters or books to a dining room place setting with articles connected to eating together, to a library shelf and beautiful handmade books.  From big books to frail, typed reports on onion skin paper. From old letters to published books and CDs.

Unpacking the boxes of our own childhood and years that followed allows us to critically and curiously consider how we became the literate people that we are this minute.

My own dig illustrates the fact  that  beginning at a very young age I engaged in writing.   Although the writing took many different forms over time, there were five main categories or layers in my writing life.

  • Protocol and Play
This layer  included obligatory  thank-you notes, invitations, scrapbooks of family trips and a novel entitled The Day the Earth Fell Off Its Axis written sometime before I was six.
The lesson in this layer was that sometimes we have a duty to write and that imaginative writing--creating stories--can be fun.

  • Presentation, Preservation, and Publication
I began to experiment with the way writing looks and to create pieces that looked published  or were actually published. Items included two "little books" and a professional book.

  • Power of the Pen
. This layer includes letters, speeches and other ways that I  have used writing to make my voice heard and affect change. They indicate that I have learned writing is powerful.

  • Purpose and Practice
 Writing is a big part of the daily work I did as a teacher and still plays an important part in the work I do now . This section includes letters, memos, reports and a variety of  pieces that support accomplishment of work. The lesson is that sometimes writing is necessary.

  • Prayer, Praise, and Poetry
The final layer or category of writing relates to religion, spirituality and faith in God and included sermons I have given in church, the column I write for our church newsletter, retreat day meditations and journal entries.  This layer taught me that writing can bring me closer to others and to God. 

As always looking and responding to the digs is an exciting part of our retreat.

Through this year's digs we were ushered inside a fragile father-daughter relationship, taken to a fictional world in which a strong ruler gave his kingdom to a child, watched  two brothers grow into their brotherhood,  read wedding vows, looked at forgotten golden books and revisited Dick and Jane.

 We peaked at old letters, essays and reports and books constructed by 8-year-olds, 11-year-olds, teens and  young college students.

We reread the comments of teacher long dead.  
We relived the wonder and wariness, the  pleasure or pain, of our former  writing selves.
Unpacking the boxes of our previous and current selves  is a surprising journey in which some of us were led to write new texts answering, questioning, or responding to the texts of our past.

As we looked at our classmates' artifacts we sometimes cried.
Other artifacts caused us to nod with knowing or laugh out loud out.

With each artifact handled, read or examined we came to know its creator on a deeper level.

 The Multigenre Literacy Autobiography Assignment included in The Socially Networked Classroom: Teaching in the New Media Age by William Kist is a similar activity which also fosters this reflective consideration of our literacy development ( See page 14)

When Bill came to talk with us at our summer institute-- he shared a PowerPoint  showing his own artifacts gathered  in response to this assignment.( page 13)

What artifacts represent your life? Your literacy development? Your spiritual development?

What items have you saved that tell your story?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Unpack and sort through boxes, drawers, shelves or any where else that artifacts of your literacy life might be found.

Select several artifacts that  represent, illuminate or  had a role in your literacy development.

Write a literacy narrative detailing the significance of each of the artifacts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I am packing.

I am going to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio for our annual writing retreat.

The Columbus Area Writing Project Summer Institute always begins with an intense 3-days away-- to build community,  to explore the theme and focus of our institute,  to talk and read and write--to walk and reflect and explore the writing possibilities that both Kenyon College and the summer institute offer.

What do I need to take with me?
What is essential and necessary?
What is frivolous and simply taking up space?

As I pile up clothes in my loft to be put into the suitcase, books, schedules, and  a projector to be put into crates, sheets and towels and toiletries to go into a large bag, I begin to consider, as I do every time I pack for any trip:  What exactly we need to have with us?  What do we need to  bring, or have readily available?

How do we decide which items get carried or removed from our pockets or purses or backpacks or luggage at any given time?

As women, we have all had that experience of changing our purses, only to realize later that an important item has been left at home in the other bag.

Or you may have turned your car around to go back to get the phone, the book, the assignment, the  whatever-you-left -that -you-can't-do-without  item.

Are there categories into which all of the items we carry will neatly fit?

In his famous collection of related stories, The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien lists three categories of items carried by soldiers:  
  • standard equipment issued to every soldier based on assignment, location, and current legislation
  • personal items needed for hygiene and comfort
  • sentimental items and/or things carried for luck 
To read  O' Brien's complete list of soldiers' gear, see page 2 of The Things They Carried. 

And for  more on soldier's gear and a related writing idea, see The Things They Carried (pages 93-96) in Deeper Writing: Quick Writes and Mentor Texts to Illuminate New Possibilities. 

As I consider O'Brien's  categories, I am wondering how to categorize my own items.  Do they fall into three neat packages?

In my purse there are several Essentials:
  • Wallet
  • Keys 
  • Flash Drives
  • Phone
  • iPad Mini
  • Pen
  • Listerine Strips

Then there are a number of Just in Case items:
  • A comb in case I need to comb my hair
  • Mace in case I run into someone undesirable and scary
  • An Anglican rosary in case I need to pray on the run
  • A tiny bag containing ear buds and a screen wiper in case my  iPad gets smudgy or I need to listen to something on it.
  • A small knife that I have to always remember to remove from my purse before going through the airport scanners, but keep in case I need to cut something
  • An umbrella in case it rains-- an intermittent item
  • A calendar which used to be on the essential list and now there is a duplicate on my iPad, but I keep it just in case the digital calendar fails
Then there are those If I Have Room items that I carry depending on the purse or destination, but are the first to go if I don't have room:
  • Silk bag of gift cards to several restaurants, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Chico's --all my favorite places
  • Umbrella (sometimes an essential)
  • Black case with pills, extra phone batteries, extra money,   extra hand sanitizer,  lipstick  
  • Keys if I am riding with my husband
  • Phone book  which I carry in case a number is not in my phone
As I create my list, I can't help but fondly remember one of my favorite comedians, George Carlin and his famous routine on stuff in which he pokes fun at the universal dilemma of packing and categorizing our stuff-- the stuff we keep and then carry around with us as we go about our day, move to new locations, and embark on trips.

Searching for this well-known routine results in many versions.   Click here to view one version (Caution-- Language may be offensive to some)

What's in your pocket, purse or backpack?  Do you really need each item?
What would others think if they lsaw each thing?

Years ago I had a very large wallet and a friend felt the need to comment on it each time she saw it, Why do you need that big old thing? Doesn't it get difficult to use?

Obviously, the wallet worked for me.

We cringe when the TSA goes through our stuff  in  customs.  What judgements are these people we don't even know making about us based on  the things we have carried?

So as I pack for Kenyon and our retreat what exactly do I need?

Of course I need writing supplies---what does that mean in this 21st century?  I used to take plenty of paper and my journal.  Now it means, I still have paper and pen, as a backup, but depend much more on my computer and my iPad, which means I have to remember all the cords.

What else do I need?

What am I forgetting?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What is in your purse, pocket or book bag?  
What is in your wallet?

What do you feel is essential to carry with you at all times?

Create several lists categorizing your items.

Write a narrative, essay or poem about your list explaining the necessity (or luxury) of particular items.

You may want to choose one particular item to about which to write more.