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  • Writer's pictureLiz Gardner

5 Things + 1

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

1. School Re-opening I’ve been thinking a lot about the re-opening of schools, here, there, and everywhere. Worrying. Writing about it here: Re-imagining Education in the Covid-Era. What are your thoughts on this? What concerns do you have? How can I help?

2. Hug a Tree I often take my worries with me into the trees. They are exceptionally good listeners. Getting into the outdoors, and in particular, into the deeper wilds — where I can soak up the stillness and beauty, take lots of photographs, and enjoy the unexpected riches of the here and now — has been the best way for me to replenish my reserves and be reminded of the importance of being fully present in one’s life. Walking + taking photographs + notebooking = my jam. It all helps me stay in rhythm with myself. What’s working for you?

3. Find the Wonder It’s also where I stoke my curiosity, rediscover my own love of learning, and connect with the deep wisdom at the intersection of heart and landscape — and which I write about in the pages of my book Here. In the Undertow of Wonder:

“Finding my heart again in all the way the world pulls me in and holds me close, suffusing me with the beauty and mystery, the joy and ache—and all the colors, light, and shadows of my ever-shifting skies, of love and loss, of feeling it all.”

4. Get Outside I was reminded of my own experience as an educator and homeschool mom and outdoor adventurer when I read this great piece that explores why “a swift move into outdoor learning may well be the only way that school districts can reopen safely with maximum enrollment while minimizing risk.” What do you think?

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” ~ Frank Lloyd Wright

5. Happy Stack I have about 8 books going at once. Don't be too impressed; they've been in circulation all summer. I dip into them most days, reading and re-reading small stretches at a time for maximum digestion, writing notes in the margins and scribbling in my notebook as I go to bring them together on the page, make sense of them, find the connections. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I also weave much of what I’m reading and figuring and wondering about into the work I do with my students. They amaze me with their openness, their interest in going inward, in doing their own figuring. What are you reading these days?

John O’Donohue’s The Anam Cara & Walking in Wonder; Stephen Batchelor’s The Art of Solitude; Michel de Montaigne’s The Complete Essays; Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart; Trace by Lauret Savoy; The Curious Gardener’s Almanac by Niall Edworthy; and Great Blue, a wonderful collection of poetry by the late Charlie Pratt:

Restless, Oh Restless

Sometimes a leg starts to step out

On its own; hand shivers,

Hummingbird over flower trumpet,

And hot coffee leaps to the wrist;

Skin vibrates with inexplicable

Urgency, as if it wanted to slip

On a different body. Mind vibrates, too,

Tuft to tuft to tuft across its sad swamp.

And then he goes out in the wind

To grip the arms of the Adirondack chair

And watch the trees’ turmoil, the anxiety

Of the leaves, the distraught branches.

They are restless, oh restless, the trees,

But they stay put.

+1. Listen to Quiet

I've been circling back to some of my favorites from Krista Tippet’s wonderfully rich On Being podcast, including this one, Silence and the Presence of Everything, with Gordon Hempton, who talks about finding presence in true quiet on Earth, the "solar-powered jukebox."

“We’re all born listeners. And I always say, if there’s one thing you want to do as an adult to become a better listener, take a preschooler, someone who hasn’t gone to school and been taught how to listen by focusing attention, which is actually controlled impairment, but a preschooler who’s still taking in the whole world. Hoist them onto your shoulders and go for a night walk. They’ll tell you everything you need to know about becoming a better listener.”

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