Archive for March 13th, 2013

March 13, 2013

An essay written by my daughter


One of my daughters loves to write. She and I sometimes have our own little ‘writer’s group’ over lunch–it’s so much fun to share writing with someone I love so deeply!

Today is the fourth day she’s been sick, and in spite of that, she wrote the following essay…and I’m so proud of her, I asked her if I could post it here. She said yes! 🙂 It may not be perfect or long, but for an eighth grader, I think she’s done a pretty good job finding a theme she can relate to.

The Battle for Peace

     The poem “The Stretcher Bearer” by Robert Service is about a person who desperately tries to escape war. When affected by war, the speaker longs for peace.

     There is not a place worse than war. Service says “I’ll tell you wot-I’m sick with pain/For all I’ve ‘eard, for all I’ve seen.” Here he mentions the horrors of war. The reader catches a glimpse of the grotesque scenery. He goes on to say: “Around me is the ‘ellish night,/And as the war’s red rim I trace,/I wonder if in ‘Eaven’s height,/our God don’t turn away his face.” As he explains the awfulness of it all, Service brings out the shame and distress of war. It is bad enough that the most powerful being would turn away.

     Everyone is affected by the great and terrible wars of men. In the poem, Service points out, “As man destroys his fellow man;/I wave no flag; I only know,/As ‘ere beside the dead I wait,/A million ‘earts is filled with woe,/A million ‘omes is desolate.” Service exposes war as the cause of suffering for millions. It leaves families with children without homes, without loved ones, and without hope.

     The war’s end is so far away that no mortal being can see it. In the last stanza of the poem Service creates a dark and hopeless mood when he says: “In drippin’ darkness, far and near,/All night I’ve sought them woeful ones./Dawn shudders up and still I ‘ear/The crimson chorus of the guns./Look! like a ball of blood the sun/‘Angs o’er the scene of wrath and wrong…./“Quick! Stretcher-Bearers on the run!”/Oh Prince of peace ‘ow long, ‘ow long?” He paints the picture of a distant, hopeless future. In the last sentence of the last stanza he is praying. He prays to see the end soon.

     He does not even want to know who is responsible. The speaker says “I don’t care ‘oose the Crime may be;/I ‘olds no brief for kin or clan…” all he wants is an end. The stretcher bearer tries to leave the war behind him. All he wants is peace. But hatred seems to catch up with him. Service speaks for many people when he points out all the awful tragedies of war. He uses the speaker in the poem to represent these people.


Collected Poems of Robert Service page 389 lines three through ten, twelve through sixteen, and seventeen through twenty four

March 13, 2013

How Sheila Williams’ “Time for Your Life” makes life more fun

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

As a writer, as a mother, a wife, a friend, a human being–learning to balance my time to get the most out of my life has always been one of my greatest challenges.

Although I’ve made some inroads, after years and decades of practice, I can’t say that I’m really very good at this yet. This means it’s become another topic to study, an item that ends up periodically on my blog and one that I study as much as possible.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Sheila Williams‘ book, Time for your Life.

Williams says this in her introduction:

 Most of us lead busy, complicated lives. We often find time fast vanishes as we get bogged down with the trivial or meaningless; with last-minute rushes and crises and with the demands of other people. Time for long-distance planning, for dreaming, for ideas and creativity disappears and all too often we begin to feel like a hamster running fast on its wheel to nowhere.

William’s book is about giving readers hope, about teaching us how to discover, understand and manage our unique relations to time.

The first section of the book focuses on how your personality affects the way you spend time and helps you see where you’re losing time. I’ve always found things like this interesting.

From a writing perspective, understanding my own time personality was quite revealing. I discovered that I enjoy a solid mix of routines and flexibility, and I get my best work done when I have occasional breaks from my routines.

In the second section, Williams focuses on organizational skills that can help free up time, and in the third section, Williams addresses ‘Time Thieves’ like procrastination (one of my oldest acquaintances). Even reading about these things motivates me to try harder, and I appreciate the strategies she suggests for dealing with the time thieves. My personal favorite: Play a game. Williams says this:

If it’s a boring but necessary task make a game out of it. See how quickly you can complete it and complete it well. Then next time, see if you can beat your own record.

I love games!

William’s thoughts on a ‘claiming day’ also make a lot of sense to me:

 If you are clear about when and how often certain tasks or actions have to be performed, then you can plan for them and reduce the risk of forgetting about them or leaving insufficient time to deal with them properly.

Claiming dates are events that are regularly scheduled, like a Monday morning office meeting, and should show up on the calendar well in advance of it’s actual occurrence. Williams says people need advance time to prepare for meetings, to send birthday cards, register the vehicle, etc.

For me, Saturdays are my day to catch up on work I’m behind in, but they’re also my ‘claiming dates’ when I prepare for the week ahead. I have to admit, scheduling items well in advance is an area that I’m only now beginning to make progress in, and it’s making my life much, much easier, much more enjoyable.

I think that’s part of the game!

And really, for me, that’s what it’s all about. Life can be difficult, distressing, discouraging–but overcoming those feelings and the distractions that allow me to feel that way is a challenge I can’t resist. Managing my time well helps me feel like this is a game I can very happily win. 🙂

Overall, there’s a lot of really great information in this book…more than I can use at once. I intend to work on integrating this information into my personal system a step at a time.

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