Shawn L. Bird

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

quote- home May 21, 2017

Filed under: Quotations — Shawn L. Bird @ 6:54 pm
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“Wherever you have friends, that’s your country.

Wherever you receive love, that’s your home.”

Tibetan proverb quoted by the Dalai Lama in The Book of Joy (I highly recommend this book!)

This quote brilliantly summarizes my experience of life with and as an exchange student.   Half your heart has moved to a new location.

 

poem-chance September 26, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 5:44 pm
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I bought my chance,

pocketed the ticket and imagined.

Studied local real estate listings

picked out the house,

Sent the note to hubby with the link:

When we win, can I buy this?

He said, I’m surprised you like that fake rock wall.

I said, At 3.5 million the rock isn’t fake.

I still hadn’t figured out which room will be my office,

where I’ll install the dozen book cases.

But when the numbers came up

some guy in Brampton

had taken my 60 million pieces of a dream.

so all my planning was for naught;

I guess for now I’ll have to be content

with what I’ve got.

.

.

.

Hubby approved the location, despite the rock wall.  Here’s the house that won’t be mine: http://www.realtor.ca/Residential/Single-Family/15507510/16233-Commonage-Road-Lake-Country-British-Columbia-V4V1A8  (Not very common, I must say!)

 

poem- valley June 8, 2015

We’re nestled here between the hills

protected from the harsh winds

warm and basking by the lake.

But you are bored,

you’re ready to escape,

to see what lies beyond the valley

and so we wave farewell

knowing after adventure,

home calls the blood.

 

poem-snow day January 6, 2015

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 9:52 am
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It snowed

and snowed

and snows

and snows.

The radio announces

the school districts are cancelling school.

The radio announcers laugh

at how happy the kids are to have extended vacation.

Meanwhile the teachers

text one another messages that always end,

“YAY!”

.

.

.

ShuswapSnowJan5-2015-2100hrsLiving in Canada, we’re used to snow.  We have the equipment and infrastructure to clear it.  As a result, neither as student nor teacher had I experienced a “snow day” before.  Sometimes when we lived north in Prince George, BC if it was below -40 C (or F they’re the same at that temperature) the buses wouldn’t run, but schools were still open and teachers were expected to be there.  It started snowing Saturday, January 3rd and then it kept snowing Sunday and Monday.  Yesterday (Monday) at 9 pm 20 inches (51 cm) had accumulated on our back deck.  The snow clearing machinery couldn’t keep up.  The side roads were plugged.  Cars were stuck all over the place.  Because plows were clearing roads, they couldn’t clear school parking lots.  So school was cancelled!  Yesterday and today!

Yesterday I used the time to do some reading I didn’t get to over the holiday, because I was finishing work on my latest novel project, While I Was Out.  Last night, just when the second closure was announced, I got the syllabus and links for my latest Masters class in my email.  This class is delivered online.  So!  Lucky me, I get five bonus hours to work on my course.  That makes today a professional development day for me.  🙂

 

 

6 word poem in summary of my life October 1, 2013

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 12:07 am
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I was lying in the bath, trying to think of a sentence that summarizes my life at the moment and I came up with

“I am home”

This summarizes my essential contentment with everything in my life: my new continuing contract at a school I love, opportunity to write and receive feedback from wonderful readers, and my brilliant husband of many, many years and the time we have together.

That just seemed too simple, so I thought of 6 word poems, and decided I needed 3 more words, and ended up with,

“Wherever I am, I am home”

Now I feel like a philosopher. 🙂

I first discovered this concept when I was an exchange student in Finland, and I realised that even though I was known as ‘The Canadian Evangelist” (because as the lone Canadian in my district, lost in a sea of Americans, I was obliged to be loud and proud about national superiority) I knew that I could quite happily have stayed in Finland.  I have experienced this sensation many times since.  If you’re content in your skin,  and you’re connected to those around you, it doesn’t matter where you are physically.  You can live in a tent and be well satisfied.

Explaining it completely defeats the purpose of it being only 6 words, doesn’t it? lol

How about you?  What’s your 6 word poem? (with or without long-winded explanation!) 😉

 

The surreal life July 14, 2013

Filed under: Rotary — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:30 pm
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I thought I’d share with you this recent comment I left on the blog of a young lady recently returned from time abroad (slightly edited for broader audience!)

We have a saying in Rotary, “Once an exchange student, always an exchange student.”

If I am in a room, outbound exchange students find me, whether they know I was one or not. They bounce in their chairs, anticipating their year, and I share their enthusiasm, offer packing tips, and give them hugs.

At school, students from far away sit in my class room to discuss ‘life’ in the surreal bubble that is an inbound exchange year.  They vent their frustrations, shout their celebrations, observe their confusions.  I listen, encourage, bake, and give them hugs.

They write when they’re back home,  rebound students, about the strange dream that their year abroad becomes in memory.  The students my club sent join me at my table at our Rotary meeting upon their return in a numbed stupor.  I commiserate about the loss they’re experiencing, the strange sensation of being home, but being far from home.  I give them hugs.

Suomi1983Lanttagoodbye

See that sad face? That’s me on my last day in Finland posing with my 4th host family. That is the face of a broken heart. Still miss them and think of them every day!  (Thank heaven for Facebook).

We are tied by the experience of youth exchange, because it’s all paradox.  We feel disconnected and connected. Lost and found. Happy and sad.

We each leave pieces of our heart behind in these places that become our second homes, and we never get them back. Hopefully, those we love and leave behind, cherish those pieces for the precious parts of ourselves that they are. Sometimes we are blessed with an opportunity to hold those people against our hearts again, but most of the people who made such a profound impact on our lives, we will never touch again. It is a bitter sweet reality of those who live and love abroad.

Welcome home. Welcome to life with pieces missing. We just go on.  We find others with missing pieces and we hold each other as we celebrate what we have known.

Rotary Youth Exchange:

Opening minds and breaking hearts

since 1929. 

If you know any exchange students returning home this month.  Listen to their stories, ask questions about their year, and give them hugs.  They really need them right now.

 

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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