Tuesday, April 29, 2008

justiceplanes: A Celebration & a nod to Mary Parker Follett

My sister-in-law, Dr. Suzanne Martin, Alabama activist, force of Nature, music lover, sometime-band member (and much more), has entered the YouTube world, via her savvy students' urges to share. Being a justiceplanes fan myself, I'm compelled to pay my tribute too. Here's the link. That Neil Guy - justiceplanestribute

Also, a nod to Suzanne's "opus," her doctoral thesis (2005) on Mary Parker Follett's substance and style of leadership. Mary Parker Follett was a woman "before her time," whose influence and reputation I hope will continue to grow - just as I trust Suzanne's will.

"Imagine a glass globe whose circumference is filled with:
millions of eyes all looking inward. All the eyes see the same content, though each from its own special point.
And into the view of each eye the view of the others is received, though from its own particular angle.
Now, suppose that the substance of the globe, instead of glass is merely the sight projected from each eye, that without the eyes and their sight nothing whatever of the globe would exist.
We then have in the globe a unity of blended individualities
where the individualities may be look upon as essential, for without them there is nothing;
individuality is all that there is, and the ultimate reality is a blending of all individualities.” "

Here's a bio bit about Suzanne:
Martin presents an archetypal analysis of Mary Parker Follett (MFP) and her ideological contributions to the theory and practice of contemporary leadership. ...Martin concludes that Follett's contributions are more than artifacts of a bygone era; they were and remain part of the collective unconscious that has shaped and birthed contemporary leadership theory. ...; The Leading Edge Institute Bio: Suzanne Martin, Ph.D. teaches organizational leadership at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. She is also the Program Director for the Leading Edge Institute, a leadership develop program for college women in Alabama. She holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership from Regent University. Prior to graduating from Regent University, Dr. Martin served for 15 years at Samford University as the Director of Leadership Education.

Friday, April 25, 2008


melody gardot, bridget bardot,
Wow the tunes just sing to me
As I hum through

The way I remembered having been struck by that car was when I read about you, as I listened to you sing. There was no memory then of my having kissed the man who, with his outstretched hand, guided me into the back of the cab. We had not met before yet I felt I had known him forever.

As I thought about him, him and his dark hair with that flip that just curled and made me want to lick my dry lips, I remembered a time before I thought of music as my salvation. Music was, then, something others made, a trumpet that was selected by a chosen few, like crumpets, something shiny and loved and made by a chosen few. The sound that came out was triumphant, or slow, drawn out like a beautiful elegy, but somehow I still thought it separate from me, distracted as I was generally by the hubbub around me.

My salvation? I used to think of my salvation as an ultimate treasure, the Hope diamond, indescribable but recognizable by all, something to live for – then I began to realize that my salvation comes when I shrug off the fear and feel that pulse of hope, of courage I need to put my fingers on the keys and let the music come.
Melody Gardot

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Where I got the button

So you want to upgrade your civil war uniform and don't know where to start

I finger the buttons on this old shirt
as mother-of-pearl memories come to me,
Turning and catching my eye like fish flying from water
Glinting colorful in clear sun

My darling boy,
My war-time dead,
The memory of all I held dear
In you

Leaps now, and
still so long past,
I feel the water move
And sun warm
Without the rain of tears.

In our blue and grey war,
I remember how your uniform
Felt to my fingers, the rough wool
the stench of blood, the coating of dirt,
Dust, and the grit of plant pollen captured by weave and wind

We sat on that ravaged hillside
While smoke lingered, mingled with the moans of dying men,
And I held your arm tight as if that would keep you
From leaving

Me in the mist of war dead

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Thank you, Grace

Toby Talbot, AP

Paley said in a 1998 interview with the online magazine Salon: "Whatever your calling is, whether it's as a plumber or an artist, you have to make sure there's a little more justice in the world when you leave it than when you found it."

Grace Paley died (breast cancer) last year, at 84. This last new book, Fidelity, is a voice "from beyond the grave," one reviewer wrote. I've always had a special fondness for Grace Paley, though I never met her. I was touched intensely by the energy presence I felt as soon as I became aware of her, from reading an article, or perhaps when I first found her book, The Little Disturbances of Man: Stories of Men and Women at Love (1959). Then, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. (1974). I only remember this was so long ago, and the memory lingers. I bought paperback copies somewhere, and carried them with me sometimes for a while, to read bits here and there. Sometimes I laughed out loud at lines. I loved her "sketches," the no-nonsense way she had of dramatizing moments, or telling them as they were, with the low-key drama that is inherent in so much experience. Her titles made perfect sense to me. I had a tendency to let words drag weight behind them. I thought sometimes it was like constantly throwing fallen trash back into the heap on the moving truck in front of me. Driving, in front, or behind, always there seemed to be debris. Grace Paley counteracted this for me. I loved her unique way of capturing character in a glance, of distilling a life in a few words, where rhythm and space could give all the pause needed to take one more breath before moving on, and perhaps forgetting.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be an "original thinker." To blaze internal trails. To let a mind think freely, as love feeds it. I realize how I have so often depended upon old thoughts, thoughts I've already rehashed, expecting new life. A familiar saying attributed to Einstein is, We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

If, as one reviewer says, loss of memory becomes an acceptance of another facet of identity, rather than simply the physical struggle to remember, then we can celebrate the nudges we give each other, ourselves, as we feel the familiar warmth of love, of the sun. It's us, we say, we create. Hers are never wasted words - they remind us of all Grace can mean.

I forget the names of my friends
and the names of the flowers in
my garden my friends remind me
Grace it’s us the flowers just
stand there stunned by the sun

Regina Hackett posted In Honor of Grace Paley on the Seattle PI blog, in August of 2007. Here's a bit from hers that I like:
Here's a sample of what makes her memorable, her hearty voice, from My Jewish Learning, reprinted from "Jewish American Literature, A Norton Anthology":
"I lived my childhood in a world so dense with Jews that I thought we were the great imposing majority and kindness had to be extended to the others because, as my mother said, everyone wants to live like a person. In school I met my friend Adele, who, together with her mother and father, were not Jewish. Despite this, they often seemed to be in a good mood."

Thank you, Grace.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I read this in a recent Shelf-Awareness newsletter. It brought back to mind Ian Falconer's Olivia books. I really like them. If you haven't read them, look them up one day when you feel like talking to a pig-on-paper. The character is great, the drawings are wonderful, and the stories ... well, some days it really beats watching the news.

"After they read a book about opera star Maria Callas, Olivia's mother tells her, "You know, you really wear me out. But I love you anyway."
Olivia replies, "I love you anyway too."

Bloom!: by The First Book My Daughter 'Reads' to Me, from Jenn Risko

Maria Van Lieshout

A few months ago, my daughter, Lily, looked straight at me and said, "I can't. My heart is broken." It was wrecking. Being the savvy four year old that she is, the impact on me was not lost on her. This led her to devise new ways of using that suddenly popular phrase, including, "My heart is broken because you won't give me that pink frosted cookie." Or "My heart is broken because for my birthday you're not giving me five yellow Labrador puppies dressed up as princesses."

Around this time, the good folks at Feiwel and Friends (a Macmillan imprint) sent me a comp of Bloom!: A Little Book About Finding Love by Maria van Lieshout ($12.95, 9780312369132/0312369131), published just in time for this past Valentine's Day.

A little pig, Bloom, ignores the pleas from her pig friend to join him in the "delicious" mud puddle because she is so taken with a butterfly, or as Bloom calls it, "A flying dancing flower." She longs for it to take her away so she can "dance in the sky" with it. But after a longing gaze, the butterfly twirls away until it's just a "dancing dot in the sky." The next page is perfect: Bloom yells "Flying Flower!" and a very Charlie Brown-ish scribble of ultimate dissatisfaction appears above her red-faced head.

Back around comes the boy piggy, asking her again to join him in the puddle. To which, Bloom sobs, "I can't. My heart is broken." Then, "I will never love again."

As Bloom sobs, the boy piggy goes and finds her a beautiful flower and gives it to Bloom. Blushing, she asks, "For me?" Then we find them both in the "delicious" puddle, gazing at each other. (Lily at this point points to each of their eyes and makes the sound of their eyelashes in love, "Plink, plink.") All is well in the land of mud and fleurs and piggies' hearts.

Bloom! is a simple, beautiful story that has shown my daughter that, yes, even if your heart gets broken, you can still love again. The best part of it for me is this: It's the first story my child has ever "read" to me. I don't think she can truly read yet, but this lovely book has a home in her head. And she nails it, word for word, every time. Which is both a little heartbreaking and totally great at the same time.--Jenn Risko