Illiteracy Weekly Newsletter

…. I wish I’d started this homework assignment earlier instead of 3 hours before it was due… it was A LOT of fun, and I’d love to have put more time and energy into it! I wish the content was better… but I guess it’s funnier if it’s NOT! 😉

If you can’t read the tiny text, no big deal… it’s mostly about articles we had to read for class.

This is what the ‘inspirational’ photo says, in case you can’t read it.  😉
(It’s in the rotation of backgrounds on my laptop)

WORDS, WORDS, powerful WORDS!

“Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.”
-Hamza Yusuf

Words are powerful.  And they are especially powerful in influencing and impacting young children, who have often not fully developed discerning critical thinking skills and are easily convinced that Santa is real, or eating carrots will make them see in the dark. Prevalent themes and topics in children’s literature are constantly changing – How these themes develop and change over time and how authors adapt to this transformation can be observed both in the progression of their individual works, as well as the progression of all literary works. The words about these themes and topics have the power to significantly influence people, not only about things trivial, or specific opinions, but also about beliefs, ideas, ways of thinking and how to be a human.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
-Pearl Strachan Hurd

Some consistently common topics and themes are those of obedience and questioning the traditional, looking beyond appearances, and envisioning and exploring the possibility of a better future.  While these overarching ideas have remained fairly stable in their appearance, associated opinions and perspectives regarding these portrayals are always in flux. With the power of words, the authors of children’s literature can spread awareness of current issues, encourage and develop new and modern viewpoints, and impact readers in a variety of ways.

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

Historically, viewpoints on obedience and tradition have been more positive and encouraging of these values.  Today, strict obedience is more and more frequently depicted as undesirable, and the questioning and challenging of the traditional is depicted as more acceptable -thank goodness! We need a little healthy rebellion in our lives every now and then in order to fight for the creation and development of positive advances and an altogether better world. Literary characters question their reality by choosing alternative paths and practice critical thinking about the world around them, especially in regards to appearances. Frequently, characters that look beautiful, are, in fact, villains, and those with physical or emotional differences or defects prove to be heroes or redeemably praiseworthy. Even words can be misjudged based on their appearance. Interpretation is already subjective, and even when an author’s intent seems clear, language exists in such a way that they may actually be saying something entirely different!

“The pen is mightier than the sword”
– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

The protagonist of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, Lyra, is often disobedient and rebellious, and grows to be suspicious of beautiful and/or powerful people, but these behavior patterns are not depicted as inherently negative, and are actually regularly rewarded.  Many of Ursula Le Guin’s characters rebel in similar way against traditional societal behaviors, those of their constructed literary world, as well as those of the world outside the books.  The dragons even reject gender at all! Fantastic! Let us all be more open-minded, like dragons! Through these consistent rebellions and questions, (now) standard fantasy characters develop unique identities and supply valuable contributions to develop and enrich their worlds. In this way, authors can influence readers to aspire to similar identity development and enriching contributions. Powerful. And hopeful.

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”
– Rumi

It was initially a bit disheartening to read Ursula Le Guin’s intro of ‘Earthsea Revisited,’ just because it is sadly still so relevant that “women are seen in relation to heroes: as mother, wife, seducer, beloved, victim, or rescuable maiden” (1). She wrote this in 1999, and even today it is depressingly very applicable to the majority of ‘heroes’ in literature, film, and REAL LIFE!  It was really interesting to see how Le Guin herself was aware of society’s impact on her own writing choices in terms of female roles and limitations: “I simply lacked the courage to make my heroine doubly Other” (2).  Even when she included powerful female characters, they were not necessarily defined as typical heroes.  While Earthsea has a male-dominated society and emphasis, her series seems to develop over time in complexity and grow more organically inclusive.

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
– Albus Dumbledore

Through the convincing and compelling enrichments of fantasy worlds, the outside world can be enriched simultaneously through new developments and insights.  The words used in the exploration of possible peaceful and harmonious futures can encourage peaceful and harmonious futures for modern society.  Even exploring dismal futures can inspire change, also encouraging a future of peace and harmony. Le Guin’s dominating theme of her first trilogy was “the quest for inner harmony and personal wholeness” (Marek Oziewicz, Rediscovering harmony: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea sequence”), a thematic quest idea that is congruent with the search for a better future.  “Le Guin’s vision is neither Utopian nor dystopian, but rather what may be called ‘melioristic,’ meaning tending to betterment through human effort – or maybe through the opening of human hearts.” (Lenz, 2001, pp.77) Through the encouragement of the development of personal peace and harmony, in literary works as well as reflections upon those works, perhaps a future of real peace and harmony can be achieved.

That’d be hella sweet.

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
– John Keating

I dunno… he’s telling me with words…. should I believe him?

… wait… I’m using words… Am I influencing YOU? Do I mean what I am saying? What message am I even communicating!!?

WORDCEPTION.

Brainy Trainers

Another Writing Assignment


Looking for a personal trainer? You’re in luck – you’ve found one!

Are you ready to stretch yourself every day farther than you’ve ever gone before? Are you ready to increase and expand your proficiency and dexterity? Are you ready to tone, condition, and build strength you didn’t know you had!? I can teach you to do all of that, and more!

The regimen I provide is varied – you’ll never get bored! It also easily adapts to fit the needs of any lifestyle. you already have the basic skills I can build on to help transform you into a strong, fast, confident champion! I focus on strength, flexibility, toning, cardio, and diet.

A diverse set of exercises is the ideal way to build up your stamina. Heavy lifting is important, but you can’t do that alone. You need a balance of a variety of drills and training in order to maximize your success! And, naturally, a planned and nutritious diet is key to your improvement. What you eat affects everything – your energy, actions, and results.

My program doesn’t focus on performance, but should that appeal to you, this program is a great foundation for high achievement. In addition, I can provide you with the basis to continue your own, personalized training program. I simply build on what you are already doing.

It’s my job to motivate and support my client. If you’re not confident about your abilities, my development system can easily change that! No sweat!

Although I may not be technically certified in the most typical way, and I only currently have one client, I am extremely experienced. Right now, I’m both the trainer and the trainee. Every day I perform innumerable complex exercises to train the most important muscle: my brain.

Mary was Fed Up with Bob…

Another assignment for one of my writing classes:

Mary was fed up with Bob and didn’t quite know how to deal with it.

It had been for some time now that she had realized she wasn’t happy.  Her feelings had changed.  She used to be content with him.  But then, time had passed, and he just wasn’t the same man from before.  He seemed somehow less than he had been, just a dim reflection of the man she had first met.  She was disappointed.  In him, and in herself.  Now she just felt empty, even slightly ill around him. Something was missing.

Mary shook her head slowly as she gazed down at Bob as he reclined in the usual chair.  He seemed so peaceful.  And why not? He didn’t know how hollow and alone she felt.  “Had it all been for nothing?” she wondered.   She caressed his face tenderly and tucked a lonely, graying hair behind his ear.  If only he would open his eyes, then maybe, just maybe things could change.  They could change together. Work things out, give it another go.  She could be less demanding, couldn’t she?  Take less of him?  He could make her feel that way again, couldn’t he? That special way she had only ever felt with him, and only at the beginning- completely full of abundance and love?  He had been the missing part of her, once.  But maybe no one person could ever be enough.

She took her hand away and pondered her situation.  Maybe it was too late. The magic was gone, but why?  Why had his sweetness faded? When had her hunger for him dwindled away into detachment, and then revulsion?  Where was that flavor, that zest, that delicious satisfaction?  His essence seemed to saturate the air. Once, that had been an invigorating comfort, but now… she  didn’t think she could stomach much more.  Mary sighed. It was time to move on. There just wasn’t any room left for him in her life.  Or in her belly.  She was still hungry, but it was time to find someone new to eat.

If I Don’t Sleep Well Tonight…

I will be mad.

I couldn’t sleep all last night, no sleep for me.  Which was dumb, but whatever. Fine. Sometimes it happens. I abandoned even trying and actually got some stuff done, which was cool.

But then, disaster struck!

At around 10:00 a.m., I was thinking… “I dunno, maybe I’ll spend today primarily dozing.” But first, I was jammin on my planner when I discovered (GASP!) that the online class (the one I’m actually *interested* in) I thought started THIS Wednesday actually started LAST Wednesday.  uh oh….I don’t know how to work the website, what the requirements are, or what’s expected … I don’t even have my books yet!  So, after a brief panic attack I had to suddenly restructure my whole day.  Gone were plans to play games with friends and take leisurely naps and work on all those fun, creative projects…  I figured out the website, and got the general idea of what I was going to have to complete by 11:59 TONIGHT, and then took a 2.5 hour nap.

After I woke up, I completed the first part of the first lesson pretty easily – syllabus review, introductions, don’t plagiarize, blah blah blah.  But when I posted my first required discussion board post, I saw that the time stamp said 6:56 PM. Uh…. whhuuttt…? It’s like… 3:56 PM.  OH CRAP.  This school is in Pennsylvania and APPARENTLY we’re adhering to their stupid timezone.

MORE STRESS.  MORE PRESSURE. ACK ACK ACK.

Well, long story short, I finished this weeks lessons and assignments in time.

I guess the lesson is that sometimes unexpected pressure/stressers can actually be highly motivational and conducive to efficient planning, productivity, and accomplishment. PROOF!

Sometimes…

A Writing Assignment

 

I don’t consider myself fancy. Some people may see me as extravagant or expensive. I can appear that way, but more often I reside in nature, ordinary and free. My growth is boundless and I can surprise you anywhere and everywhere, if you let me.  Occasionally, I feel weird, unusual, or out of place, but I deeply relish my time spent with those close to me.  We radiate courage, we soothe and console and we work together to strengthen one another and expand out horizons.  I can lose myself with others, but I am strong when I’m alone. I am natural and abundant and delight in supporting those around me.  I can help you be at peace, or I can motivate and inspire you. I bring depth to the world and richness to the trees. I can be deep and comforting or light and carefree.  How I choose to present myself depends on your unique perspective.  Sometimes I fall into dark moods – the shadows and gloom can overwhelm me into obscurity.  But then the light might shine differently and reveal a glimmer of hope and the despair is diminished.  The despair is diminished, but I am not.  I remain steadfast and brave.  I am special, but I am part of something bigger.  I don’t tend to be noticed, but I am beautiful in my own way. You would miss me if I was gone.  I am emerald green, and I know how to both stand out and blend in, because I am versatile and confident, and I recognize and understand that we all contribute to one another’s individual beauty.  When you look for me, I’ll be there. I’ll always be there for you.