Alexa Mergen has written a new article on friendship. With it, she reminds us that the best friendships can be fraught with hardship, but that overcoming these obstacles can teach us the true meaning of friendship. As I grow older I find myself fighting to remain open in so many ways, and sometimes remaining open to those we know and love best is the hardest challenge of all.
Below is an exerpt from Alexa’s article, entitled, “Admirable Friend”:
“I cannot remember how our quarrel started. The worst fights are like that: they require such an arduous journey through the rocky wasteland of accusations, jealousies, anxieties, impatience, and disappointment that the starting point erases. I remember the yellow walls of the motel room, the TV with no reception, bare light bulbs, and the narrow beds with a small table between them meant to be shared. I remember my eyes, which felt hard as marbles and as cold, and S.’s eyes welled with tears; in nineteen years of friendship I had never seen her cry. I remember S. accusing me of suffering from some childhood trauma as an explanation for my anxiety and I remember growing angrier. Then, suddenly, there was a shift in the room. It was as if we had been breaking boulders in hot sun like the ragged and tired people we saw along the highway. And then it was as if a breeze stalled pick-axes, brought silence.”
To read the full article, follow this link:
A friend writes about the lessons she has learned listening to her old dog, Sasha. Here is a snippet:
““Obey” comes from the French “to hear.” An obedient dog hears commands and follows them. After fourteen years Sasha knows her commands so well it doesn’t matter that she is deaf. It’s my turn to listen. When I listen, sitting with the old dog by her brown pillow in the corner of the living room, I may experience the pure love of ahimsa. We have made so many mistakes with this dog, leaving her alone as a pup for hours, disciplining her too harshly, not training her enough, feeding her bad food, taking her on trips that were too far and too rough, and, way too often, losing patience. She watches me as I rant on about a work annoyance or perceived injustice and if I allow myself to catch her eyes I calm down. I can stop my violent thoughts and words right then if I choose, like she did when she was learning. Noticing and sitting with Sasha is an opportunity to allow for forgiveness a hundred times a month.”
Follow the link to read the entire piece: http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=6704
Alexa Mergen interviewed me awhile back about my book Lucky Boy, here in Portland, in my own backyard. United Animal Nations uses Lucky Boy as one of 12 books in their Humane Education Ambassador Reading (HEAR) program. Alexa has moved on to do full time writing (yay Alexa!), but the interview appears in the winter 2009 UAN Journal. UAN is a wonderful organization, protecting animals in danger or in need.
The Children’s Book Council is a wonderful online resource for those who publish, write, illustrate or simply love children’s books.
We are lucky here in Portland, to have two of the loveliest specialty children’s bookstores I know of: A Children’s Place Bookstore on NE Fremont St., and Green Bean Books on NE Alberta St. Of course if you visit Portland, the newly remodeled children’s section at Powell’s City of Books in the Pearl District is a must see. The cherry on top of this bounty is a soon-to-be expanded children’s section at the Powell’s on Hawthorne.
friends who illustrate
Carolyn Digby Conahan
To my husband, Greg Miller, who inspires me with his work and his work ethic. He kicks butt. View his classical guitars.
Many thanks to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) for creating the connections which made possible the publication of my first picture book, Lucky Boy.
To editor Ann Rider (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Books), for giving me the lucky nod.
To editor Reka Simonsen (formerly with Henry Holt and Company, now with Atheneum Books for Young Readers), for hooking me up with some great writers whose work I have illustrated (Christine Graham and Wendy Orr).
i so admire
David Small for his lyrical line.
Calef Brown for his laugh-out-loud humor and color.
Cythia Rylant, Kate DiCamillo and Kathi Appelt who inspire me to shoot for the moon.
Alice Munro for being the best storyteller on the planet.