Thank you to International School Leader magazine for including my piece, “The Single Most Powerful Method to Uplift Every Conversation You Have Today,” in their December 2019 issue.
Michael Nichol’s book on The Lost Art of Listening is a special one; I appreciate the opportunity to share his ideas, and hope you enjoy the read.
PS second photograph by one of our UK Branch's esteemed and beloved directors: the talented Helen Cox of @chel.photography!
This post is a little late; we’ve been in a whirlwind for, well, months.
But after 11 years together, our love has many birthdays. And three years ago, we promised our lives to each other.
It is a thrill, an honor and a delight turning The Pages with you, my Beloved.
Adventure is always a yes away: Yes, my love; always yes.
This summer of evenings, after work building the magical dreamship of our childhood dreams together - The Tenacity - and now, this fall and winter, working together overseas in South Asia and South Africa. Basing abroad is something we’ve talked about for ages - it went gorgeously, so I’m curious to learn what this coming year - this coming decade - holds.
So many stories to share at some point… soon? … never?... including the one about our magical new inky amulets for blessings, protection, and guidance... They are Sak Yants, both, from an ajarn (Sam) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where we stayed a long while, visiting regional schools before the three school leadership conferences we attended - the first in Bangkok - the second in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia - and finally, the third in Capetown, South Africa.
So much has happened I don't even know how to start.
So I'll say -
With love from the wind,
learn the flowers
- Gary Snyder
From our company IG page for EquipMySchool :)
We are building something beautiful.
But first, dirt! Dirt, rust, and lovely hot metal.
It's our secret for now.
"He opens the cardboard, and then the canister, shakes the colorful balls out into his hand.
He laughs, surprised and pleased.
He tries them out- drops them- instantly catches the bug- now we’re throwing the balls around, probably going to break something any minute- grinning, jumping around. Definitely not juggling, by any stretch of the word, but its fun trying.
He stops and watches me flail around like a gleeful idiot.
“Baby, if you can juggle gracefully for two minutes…” He grins harder and laughs, can’t finish his sentence. “...I'll give you a surprise!” he says, smiling hugely, laughing and laughing. We keep throwing the balls around the kitchen, giggling. Catching each others eyes. Ah, my dear honey.
Ah, my man's smile. One of the best I’ve ever given him. Inward, stunned at itself. Love.
Love is a river at night, love is a rising sun. Always coming back around.
on our way in the rain to a coffee shop, listening to an old favorite that always makes us cry.
An hour at a time softens into the beautiful, desperate closeness of our beginning
Years ago I let go of my brother's hand; I did not know how to love him. In the depths of his depression, of his addiction, hating himself, he did things that made it hard to stay, for us to love him.
He fell, and he died. We lost him forever.
I love my Andrew. My beloved king. And I am strong.
He holds me tight. We sleep heart to heart, so close I feel the beat of his blood, the brush of his eyelashes when he opens his eyes to kiss me.
It will take longer for him to heal himself, to do the work he's needed to do for decades. A long time ago he split himself into parts, performatively, and for protection. This is not uncommon.
I am the same in public and private; I know exactly who and what I am. My flag is proud and high.
But he knows the depth of my love now, for all of who & what he truly is. I know the depth of his love for me, for who & what I truly am.
Because I understand. I understand completely. I am not perfect; I've never wanted to be.
Read these words, and between them, Half Mast.
Go on now, and live your own life. A real life, in the sunlight.
You made a mistake, but people are not their mistakes. I forgive you.
Word that should exist: when the weather matches your mood.
Cold outside. Sunny, pouring. The bending of trees, the steady drumming against the roof.
The hungry, waiting, open earth.
G says, "Surely there's one in German."
Therefore. Surely it has helped in the making of delicious sausage and beer.
right now I am cranky, optimistic, full of sunlight and dirt. Hoping it rains all day.
it makes me happier to think of this word that does not exist, so I can make my own but never name it. It is just the thing itself, the moment, which perhaps would be a better as a painting anyway - rather than a word - or something silent, shapely; a sculpture to stand in.
Anyway. It's here already, regardless. all around us.
After a tough spring and summer (losing our little one, a crazy busy season) we’re drying our wings in the sun...
On the Road, working remotely, sleeping in fields... as we drive our new motorcycle (with sidecar!) from Oregon home to South Carolina, via national parks, crazy byways and one library hot spot after another. Filling up with new stories, taking the space just to think, explore and be close.
I'm (erratically) posting our travel journal on Insta: @sidecarsideshow :)
With the Ural’s top speed around 55 mph... we’re gonna be on the road quite a while.
Lately I'm doing more thinking than writing, but have been ‘getting’ some plot pieces I’ve needed for the novel I’ve been obsessing over since I was on residency three years ago, before I started working with Andrew.
In my previous role (purchasing) at the company, it was easier to write short stories rather than novels, but they’ve now moved me into a more expansive position that opens up the whole world.
It changes everything. I’m so excited, and so grateful, to be warm again.
Here’s to lightness, love and freedom: may they be yours.
“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.” -Zora Neale Hurston
My thought life has always been more real to me than my waking one.
Even as my day job fills my lungs and the loss of one beloved after another braids cold moss up my legs, around my waist; somehow, I always rise to the surface again, and gasp on.
But this land of stories, of my thought life-
sometimes it haunts me, whispering, “what is this for?”
All my endless pushing away of happinesses, of rest-
it haunts me, staring in with the face of each new failure (rejection slips, both warm and cold; of years wasted; joyless workdays and so quickly growing old, closer to the moss; of our dead (our beloved) baby boy, buried in red pieces under the myrtle tree-
as I open my laptop in the dark, and try again.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
ratings: 24 (avg rating 3.46)
Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)