Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

June thankfulness June 5, 2013

Filed under: Poetry,Rotary invocations — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:25 am
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Skies bluer than sapphires

Sun glowing, turned the world into High Definition.

Birds calling, trilling, chirping, clicking, singing

Swooping, sailing on a sky sea

Warm breeze a caress,

blowing sultry scents into nostrils.

Barbeque sauce tangoing on the tongue.

With friends, in fellowship,

we celebrate service above ourselves.

There is a lot to be thankful for in June.

.

June is Rotary Fellowships month.  Fellowships are Rotarians who share a passion, like chess, travel, puzzles, etc.

 

Spring invocation March 5, 2013

Filed under: Rotary,Rotary invocations — Shawn L. Bird @ 10:53 am
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Snows are melting; spring is come

This Rotary year is almost done.

As we reflect on projects from the year

upon our activities both far and near,

We’re thankful for successes enjoyed

We’re thankful for resources employed

in the service of others, in service of peace,

for in serving others our joys increase.

Let’s be thankful at this meeting for food and friends,

for hearts to serve and helpful hands.

.

(c) Shawn Bird.
  For free use within Rotary, but please leave a comment saying when and where you use this invocation, and credit Shawn as the author.
 

Fictional truths March 3, 2013

March is Literacy Month in the world of Rotary, and there is an interesting article in this month’s  The Rotarian magazine.  It quotes cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley saying,

…reading more fiction enables you to understand other people better.  Fiction is about exploring a range of circumstances and interactions and characters you’re likely to meet.  Fiction is not a description of ordinary life; it’s a simulation.

Well, duh.  Any writer could tell you that.  My husband, who has a psychology degree, vets my characters and makes sure I am keeping consistent psychological profiles and responses.  I write teen fantasy, mind you.  Even those of us crafting fictional worlds do so with care.

Our worlds are crafted to give our readers an opportunity to explore another life, other responses, other realities.

I find it vaguely amusing that the professional business world may not have realised that there is a reason literature is in the curriculum.  It would behove more of our leaders to pay close attention to the lessons of Orwell’s 1984, for example.  A more well-read population should also be quicker to recognise the danger signs they’ve seen in literature.  That’s why I’m a high school English teacher.  Along side the history teachers, I aim to provide warnings and inspiration.  To raise the next generation to see with clear eyes and communicate their vision with well-chosen words.

Later in the article they quote Oatley quoting Aristotle, “History…tells us only what has happened, whereas fiction tells us what can happen, which can stretch our moral imaginations and give us insights into ourselves and other people.”  He adds that fiction “measurably enhances our abilities to empathize with other people and connect with something larger than ourselves.”

Hear. Hear.

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Work cited:

Bures, Frank.  “The Truth about Fiction.” The Rotarian.  Vol 191 No. 9  March 2013.  pp.29-30.

PS. It behoves me to mention that ‘behove’ is the British spelling of ‘behoove.’

 

thankful February 12, 2013

Filed under: Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:30 am
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I was just chatting with our school’s exchange student, a lovely girl here for the year from Finland.  Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I was an exchange student in Finland myself, many years ago.  It has been really great having Satu here.  We greet each other in Finnish in the halls, and once a week or so we chat more thoroughly about things.  I hope she enjoys having someone to speak her own language to, because I sure love speaking with her.

I talk to myself in Finnish to practice, but that doesn’t help my listening skills.  I can tune into Finnish radio, but radio doesn’t have the necessary pauses that allow assimilation of meaning nor does it provide opportunity to clarify meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.  Having Satu here has been fantastic.  In September, there was a lot that I struggled with when I listened to her.  I constantly had to check words.  Now, I find that I understand her so much better.  I’ve learned some vocabulary (What does it tell you about my exchange that I didn’t know the word for ‘homework’! lol).  It makes me so happy that so many years after my return to Canada, I can still speak fluently enough to have these interesting conversations with her.  When I promised my 4th mom that I would never forget my Finnish, I meant it.  I have kept my promise.

I also have really enjoyed the excuse to do some Finnish baking now and then.  When I take karjalan piirakoita or some pulla buns to school for her, it’s nice to know I’ve brought a bit of ‘home’ into her week.

It makes me thankful, once again, for the existance of the Rotary Exchange Student program, and thankful that I was part of it.  It is amazing how it never leaves you.  When you meet another exchange student, of any age, from any country, you instantly have a  common bond of experience.   There is always something to talk about.  Eyes sparkle with fun or commiseration.

Once an exchange student, always an exchange student.

 

Will 2013 be the year we end polio? December 27, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:18 pm
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This week stats for Polio cases worldwide as of Dec 26, 2012:

Just 215 cases world wide in all 2012!!!!!!!

(vs 650 in 2011, and a thousand a day in the 1980s).

We’re THIS CLOSE to ending Polio!

Let’s make 2013 be the year!

.

 

Invocation for the new year 2013

Filed under: Commentary,Rotary invocations — Shawn L. Bird @ 7:15 pm
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Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. ”

As we come together each week in 2013,

What makes a beginning is spinning us onward

We keep together progressing through weather

We work  without rest until success.

What keeps us together is unity, fun, and focus.  Let’s change the world this year.

.

 

(c) Shawn L. Bird.  Free use within Rotary, but please credit me, and record your use of the this invocation in the comment section below.
 

Thanksgiving invocation October 7, 2012

Filed under: Rotary invocations — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:48 am
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May we each be thankful for the friends that surround us, the trials that strengthen us, the work of our hands, and the joy in our lives.

(c) Shawn L Bird.  Free use within Rotary, but please give credit, and identify in the comments below, the name of your club and the date  you used it.

 

club obligations and privileges October 6, 2012

Filed under: Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:10 pm
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I was just writing a note to a person on an exchange student forum, and I thought I would share my thoughts with you.  We were discussing how some areas of the world don’t understand the purpose of Rotary Youth Exchange, and therefore, don’t do anything to support the student.

Year after year our club has fantastic, interesting, and delightful exchange students.  How do I know?  Because we integrate our students into our club and get to know them.  Students chosen for this program tend to be talented, fascinating kids who are travelling to broaden their experiences and to prepare to make a difference in the world.  We send fantastic kids abroad to share them with another part of the world.  I am sad when I hear about clubs who miss the opportunity to know the amazing kids that they have under their noses, so here is my advice to Rotary Clubs all over the world, prefaced by my core belief that when a club agrees to host a student, EACH member of the club has an obligation to that student.

Each member of the club should make an effort to,

1. make them welcome to the country, city, and club

get to know who they are,  greet them on the street, and  invite them to attend club meetings, projects, and events, and personal activities.

2. include them in club activities

that means when  exchange students are at a club event, you integrate them by having them sit with members, you speak to them, you encourage them to participate in the program somehow.  Listen.

3. show interest in them, their experience, their home country  

Ask them about their hobbies and interests, and how things are similar and different in their home area.  Your way isn’t the only way.  Your students have experiences to share with you, just like you have experiences to share with them.  Listen.

4. welcome them into your home and family activities if you can.  

Even if you are not able to host a student in your home, you can include them into your activities.  When you know your students’ hobbies and interests, you can more easily identify opportunities to include them.  The student likes sports?  You can invite them to a local game- even free ones played by your grandkids.  Your student plays an instrument?  You can invite them to attend a recital or concert.  Your student loves history?  Take them to a local site you know well.  If you know what your student hasn’t experienced, you can invite them along on simple family events.  One of my more memorable experiences in Finland was foraging for mushrooms in the woods with a family!

5. share in their local experiences.

Consider yourselves the students’ family.  If they are participating in a concert, a sporting match, or speeches, go along to cheer and celebrate.

These inclusions are fantastic for everyone involved.  Your club learns more about the world, and more about your country by seeing it through the eyes of another perspective.  You will improve your club’s experience with your students, and your students will have a more memorable, and more valuable exchange year by having the opportunity to know you all.  You will feel blessed by experience.

Don’t waste your exchange students.  Celebrate them!

 

polio today- we’re THIS CLOSE! September 14, 2012

Filed under: Commentary,Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:30 am
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http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek.aspx

Wow.  From a thousand cases a DAY when Rotary started the campaign to eradicate polio back in 1985 to only 134 cases so far in ALL of 2012!!

Yay Rotary and partners!  We’re THIS CLOSE to ending polio!

 

Vesta August 16, 2012

Filed under: Alpha-biography,Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:11 am
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Vesta

I quite like Vesta.  She is the hearth goddess, the one who keeps the home fires burning.  Vesta is a virgin goddess, but she is ‘mom’ to the rest of the gods.  She’s the one who provides the milk and cookies and the ear after the stressful day battling monsters.

On Mother’s Day, the sweet and mushy cards abound and they mostly seem to envision the same mother, devoted and appreciated.  But mothers are women, and they are diverse!

I have 6 mothers.

First, I have the mother who carried me, thoroughly nauseated and regretting the idea, within her body and who raised me.  She is a creator mother.  She makes clothes, quilts, jewelry, tapestries, sweaters, and good food.   She gardens, and eats her harvest, while her flowers are admired by neighbours.  She has had four children, each quite different in outlook.  She cares for them with gifts of time and talent.

Next, I have the four Finnish host mothers who sheltered me on my youth exchange:

The first, was like Vesta.  She was  a nurse who had raised five amazing children, and she welcomed me into her embrace with a loving care that overwhelmed me with its sweetness.  She patiently listened each evening, sitting with me and asking me to describe my day and the news from home.  With my growing Finnish vocabulary, funny drawings and a Finnish English dictionary as a last resort, I learned to communicate with her.   I grew by leaps and bounds.

The second was an athletic teacher.  She was tough and no nonsense.  She had four children.  Three older teens (one in the army) and a two year old.  She was harried and busy.  I was devastated to have left my first host family, and suffering from serious Seasonal Affective Disorder while I was living there (though no one knew it at the time: I slept all the time, had no energy, and felt very morose).  I wasn’t a very good exchange student there, to be honest.  What I remember most, actually, was that the bathroom with the shower/tub / sauna didn’t have a lock, and the two year old would come in whenever I wanted to bathe.  I had no privacy, and was terrified of having my host dad or host brother walk into the room accidentally.  I smelled bad when I lived there, as a result! :-S   She was the working mother of a toddler.  Her life was full and exhausting.

The third was a trophy wife of a banker.  Bouffant bleach blonde hair, blue eye shadow, and black eye liner were her trademarks.  She had two children who were away from home, so I was a relief to her her boredom.  Not that she was often bored.  Her calling was as a hostess.  There was a constant stream of guests, dressed to the nines, holding their wine glasses, and discussing the world. She wore beautiful clothes, practised her English on me, and went travelling.  They left me alone rather frequently, and I found that I didn’t mind the independence of having my own little apartment where I could shower in security, but I missed the embrace of a family.

The fourth was the wife of a sailor.  She was grounded, earthy, and fun.  She had two teens and a 9 year old.  She welcomed me into the household and treated me like one of her own, taking me everywhere.  We chatted constantly and I felt understood and appreciated.  I adored my little sister in particular, as she had the time and interest to take me around the neighbourhood, have me at her school for show and tell, and to chatter with me constantly so that my Finnish was solidified.

When I married, I received my sixth mother.  My mother-in-law is a pious, caring lady who is anxiously devoted to her children and grandchildren.  She is a wife of a professor and farmer who hosts crowds of visiting entomologists, ornithologists, lepidoptorists, genealogists, farmers, church members and friends from all walks of life with good grace and sincere interest.  She adores each of her in-law children and grandchildren and makes sure we know it.

Vesta guards the hearth and everyone gathers around its warmth for sustenance, care, and conversation.  Pull up a chair.  Whatever kind of mother or child you are, there is room.

 

 
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