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A few weeks ago, I posted about goals , habits, and resolutions, and I shared my calendar approach. What isn’t on my calendar: 10,000 steps a day. I have a FitBit to track that.

Promptly, I knocked my goal down to 8,000 steps a day, so that I could spend more time writing (or thinking about writing, which is not writing). Yesterday, I had to face the fact that I have developed tendonitis–and the online site I found said to stop walking. It is really hard to meet an 8K-step goal if you aren’t walking. Insert sad face here.

I was thinking about my other goals–those lofty achievements I’ve kept on my list for years: get poems on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, win a Pushcart Prize or have a poem in Best American Poetry, read at the 92nd Street Y (it’s kind of embarrassing, but I said they were lofty). The problem is that none of those goals are in my control. I can keep trying to write the best poems I can write, I can keep trying to protect my writing time and use it more wisely, I can keep reading and learning as much as I can, but I can’t make any of those goals happen. Really, they aren’t goals; they’re wishes.

Stepping back a little further, I thought about what those wishes represent–acknowledgement of my work, recognition for the poems I write. Stepping back further, they are deep-down about wanting to be liked. And if my goal is at its heart about wanting to be liked, is writing a poem the best way forward? What about being kind, focusing on kindness instead of achievement?

Sure, I would be thrilled if any of those things happened (the list included getting my current manuscript published)–but I have erased those goals as things that I need to accomplish. I am still working on and playing with poems. I’m still in class and going back to school this summer. But I’m taking this time to refocus on who I want to be in this world.

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Winter walk

Taking a break to walk in the park, I try to turn off the talking in my head and attend to the trees I pass, their needles fanned or their branches grasping at the flat white sky, to notice their mossy saddles, the scales and whorls and ridges of their bark, to see the beings in the tree, to listen even to the traffic, the plane crossing overhead, and underneath the engines, the small shrill chirpings and the caw cacophony, to look and listen in this moment, even with its signs of the future, the next season coming.


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Yesterday, I posted a review of That Saturday at Mendorff’s, a novel that focuses on the survivors of a shooting.

This morning, the Seattle Times ran this front-page story about people using the Amazon review space to attack the mother of a Sandy Hook victim and the book that she wrote about healing.

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I posted the following review on Amazon.com. Because this novel examines such an important topic, I’m posting it here, too.

What happens after a tragedy?

Too often we read of another mass shooting–whether it’s Roseburg or Charleston, Aurora, or Newtown, Tucson. Yet how often do we think of the survivors? How often do we follow them in their long physical and emotional recoveries? To say, “You lived” is not enough. In That Saturday at Mendorff’s, Lucy Ke follows the lives of the survivors–both the victims of a shooting at a fictional bookstore and the gunman’s family members (what do you do if your husband, your father, is a murderer–and what do others do to you?).  Mendorff’s is a bustling community hub where people of all ages come to shop for books, to hang out, to get a snack at the café, when Cy McNulty, angry about an earlier interaction with a clerk, walks in carrying three guns and starts to shoot. Ke skillfully weaves the novel between minutes after the massacre, years before, days before, and a long look back after 10 years, as journalist Mollie Dobbs is tasked with tracking down the people who are left for a follow-up story. Many find it difficult to discuss, and even the heroic officer who shoots McNulty and ends the bloodshed leads a life that, a decade later, is charmed only on the surface. Ke examines the survivors, their guilt and anguish, their isolation from the lives, and sometimes the people, they could not go back to, and their search for some way–and some reason–to go on, to find what peace they can. The devastating portraits include two women who lost children that day–one, a grandson; the other, a nephew–and survivor Jeb Creel, who envisions a radical path toward resolution. That Saturday at Mendorff’s offers a thought-provoking investigation of the aftermath, its own havoc, where the underlying question remains: What are we going to do about it?

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heron on the path

I was not the only one on the path yesterday.

Slowly I walked forward. Soon after this picture, the heron slowly shifted weight and then took off, flew a few wing beats to a clump of grass in the creek.

Summer left in a flurry–a 30-day poetry challenge, LiTFUSE, a new Hugo House class, and a SAL reading, all like running a wonderful race.

I wanted to say, Happy October! Welcome the season of pumpkins and skeletons that have been in the stores for weeks.

I wanted to say, Enjoy the wonder–you never know what’s coming next.

On the way home, I heard about the shooting today in Roseburg, Oregon.

Happiness and excitement about a new month doesn’t fit with the sadness I feel for the people who were killed, the people who were injured, and their families.

Guns and grief. There’s no good apology, and it’s hard to find even a bad reason.

You never know what’s coming next, but wonder is out there anyway.

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