Summer Blog Hiatus – Why I wander

Once again it is time for my two-month summer blog hiatus when I laser in my writing focus on my present manuscript and hopefully some fun Facebook musings during my adventures. Last year’s travels were all about healing and perspective. And as I reflect on the place of greater wholeness and hope from which I set out this time, I am reminded that in many ways the greatest journey is the interior one. 

My dad had a globe in his study; a globe so big that as a little girl I couldn’t get my arms much more than half way around the equator. Its countries were faded blues, pinks and yellows, and peeling like old scotch tape on discarded wrapping paper. They had soon-to-be outdated names like, Rhodesia and Siam. I would stand on tippy toes, give it a spin and look at Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia whizzing by. In 1969, when I was five, our class watched the first lunar landing in stunned silence. It was the only time in kindergarten that we were allowed to watch the television during school. While all my classmates gawped at Apollo’s footage on the moon, I was mesmerized by the shots of our own planet from outer space.

Forget the silver spoon, when I was born, slivers of my spirit were scattered across the continents and oceans of this earth. Now, if I stay still for too long, my internal compass, spins and whirs, willing me to move in a new direction. And so, I go in search of those slivers. Not that I don’t feel whole, I do, but it is as though each new journey strengthens, mirrors, highlights another facet of this wonderful life I have been gifted to live.

I’ve found those slivers in many places:

Amidst the scents of wild lavender and thyme in the hill villages above Nice.

In the curious touch of a child in a Calcutta slum.

Sipping craft beer flights at a Coloradan brewery with my artist buddy, RoZo.

In the meditative grandeur of an orthodox monastery on a misty peak in the Rila Mountains of Bulgaria. 

Peering into the turquoise crater of a Costa Rican volcano.

Playing in the waves with New York friends at Folly Beach, South Carolina after the 2017 eclipse.

Roped together with my fellow-scouts to traverse a glacier in the Austrian Alps.

Surrounded by 2000 year old constructions and 2000 stories in the Colisseum or along the vertiginous Pont du Gard.

Where two oceans meet but never mix at Cape Horn.

Awestruck in front of murals and mosaics in Mexico City.

Kicking down the cobbled stones and sharing savory tapas with a bestie at an Andalusian café.

Cycling through the Sonoma Vineyards.

Hand in hand and barefoot along the beach leaving footprints and memories with each step.

Road-tripping in my trusty blue Subaru along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Treating my taste buds to Masala Dosa breakfasts in Dehli. 

Wearing the vivid, hand-sewn fabrics of Malawi.

On a tiny boat, carrying medical supplies to the Chiloe Islands of central Chile.

In the sandy silence of the Kalahari at the midday zenith.

Through the laughter and conversations with locals and co-nomads.

Amidst the stumbling and stuttering of new languages.

In the deep breaths of every sunrise and sunset, I pause to appreciate.

Over a cozy, home-cooked meal and bottle of wine with friends who have become family.

These slivers are intangible. I cannot see them. I just feel them.

I know when I stumble across them, because they make me feel home, for a while.

I can find myself wherever I go, and so I feel like I belong wherever I am.

These slivers weave a story within me.

I become stronger, smarter, and more self-aware with every journey I take.

My perspective, understanding, and sense of gratitude soar.

With every decision, difficulty and uncertainty I face through my travels, I grow. 

And it thrills me.

Through every smile and wrinkle of the earth’s people; through every mountain and metropolis of our planet, there is infinite wisdom and adventure. It is ours to seek, and explore, and embrace.

And that is why I cannot stay still.

“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.” – Anthony Bourdain

Posted in Blog hiatus, Musings, travel, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Mommy, Mama, and Me – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Mommy, Mama, and Me

Author: Lesléa Newman

Illustrator: Carol Thompson

 Publisher: Tricycle Press, 2008

Ages: 0-3

Themes: lesbians, two moms, families, lgbtqia, pride, same-sex parents

Board book, 20 pages

Opening:

Mommy picks me up, up, up.

Mama pours juice in my cup.

Synopsis:

Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its mommies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together.

Why I like this book:

 One of the things I like the most about this book is the fact the whole point of the book isn’t wrapped up in the fact that this families has gay parents.  The theme is universal toddlers and their parents love each other. Ten years on from the original publication, I think we still are in need of these books that show typical fun, happy lgbtqia families.

Each mother does their own special things with baby during the day from flying up in the air to cooking in the kitchen. At the end of the day baby is tucked into bed and kissed good-night by both Mommy and Mama.

I am also very happy that there’s no stereotyping in the illustrations, as we all know lesbians come in all shapes, sizes and colors. J

This is a terrific bedtime book for any parents with toddlers and a great playgroup read-aloud.

Activities/resources:

I think the simple rhyming texts really lends itself to actions.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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Ogilvy – Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Ogilvy

Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: T. L. McBeth

 Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, 2019

Ages: 4-7

Themes: acceptance, gender expression, stereotyping, non-binary, lgbtqia+, Pride, gender fluid, self-confidence, Pride month, transgender, rhyme,

Opening:

Ogilvy happily hopped up and down.
The very first day in a very new town


“I’ll zip to the park that I found down the street.

What do they play there? Whom might I meet?”

Synopsis:

When Ogilvy moves to a new town, the possibilities feel endless. There are so many new bunny friends and fun things to do together! But in this town, “bunnies in dresses play ball and knit socks, and bunnies in sweaters make art and climb rocks.” Ogilvy wants to do everything—and won’t let a sweater or a dress get in the way. 

Why I like this book:

I am a huge Underwood fan, and confess that OGILVY has supplanted INTERSTELLAR CINDERELLA as my favorite picture book by this masterful writer. I am convinced you will love the bunny, Ogilvy as much as I do. They are funny and confident, with a wonderful joie de vivre. The other bunnies cannot handle this bunny who won’t take a stereotypical gender clothing stand, and is determined to enjoy life to the full and not miss out on fun because boy-bunnies or girl bunnies (or sweater-wearers or dress-wearers) don’t do certain activities.

This is a super fun, beautifully rhymed story about the ridiculous restrictions of gender roles, and really could be used to discuss many restrictions we place on things. It is not the least but heavy-handed but rather wonderfully sly and smart. Not surprisingly, Underwood choose not to use gender pronouns.

Because of the skillful rhyme and great pacing, this makes a terrific read-aloud as well as being a springboard for discussions about gender norms/nonbinary people etc, if desired.

Love the textured clothing and I so hope the Ogilvy becomes a fashion trend! Don’t you dig these end pages?

Copyright T. L. McBeth

Activities/resources:.

T. L. McBeth has some cool coloring pages on her website.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Posted in Book recommendation, Diverse Children's Books, LGBTQIA, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments