Advent Musings--Week Two, Hope

This is an Advent essay I wrote. Week 2 of Advent focuses on hope and here are my thoughts on that. "He slams into his second grade classroom, late as usual. He must have read Hitler's Mein Kampf, about the way to make a grand entrance. Arrive late;leave early. He does. He hides, sneaks off and causes adults to hunt for him whenever possible. Despite being only sub-pee-wee weight, about 50# and reaching only to my belly button, he packs a lot of p*ss and vinegar."  read more

Winter Holiday, Christmas Card Making Craft Contest

I'm a 25-year teacher and 24-year mom to four. In 1994, we started homeschooling and did that for 10 years. Most of our educational activities were done sans internet or computer. We did a lot of homemade, hands-on lessons. During Advent, we gave ourselves up to Christmas preparation. All lessons were based on the holidays. One of our favorite activities was the annual family Christmas letter accompanied by homemade cards. Since 'Green' and 'Saving Money' are bywords this Christmas, I thought you might appreciate a card-making craft includes a contest to create unique, green designs from recycled materials. What a nice medium on which to write your Christmas letters! Read on Writing, arts and crafts project

Free Online Food Journals, Fitness Trackers

To address growing children's health concerns--diabetes, nutrition, obesity, fitness and general wellness--several groups have developed health programs written at kid level. They offer free printable food journals, online fitness trackers and nutrition planning tools. Geared for elementary to high school age kids, these programs teach self-sufficiency and basic life skills related to health. These activities can help a busy freelancer organizer her life, too. Free Food Journals, Online Fitness Trackers for Kids

How to Write Japanese Haiku Poems

Haiku poems are more than just 17 syllables in three lines of 5-7-5 syllabication. Many styles of Japanese poetry rely on syllable count to establish poem structure, similar to the Greek iambic or "feet" (or meter) poems. Notable are the iambic pentameter poems, composed of five lines with ten syllables each. Haiku and senryu are structured on "mora" or "on" which are similar to syllables, but not an exact corellation. "On" in Haiku and Senryu is simliar to iambic feet, which are patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables. Thus haiku are cadence (rhythm) poems vs. rhyme poems, but the similarity of western poetry ends there. Use this guide to teach haiku writing or to write your own. Read on for more information... How to Write Japanese Haiku Poems

Free Printable Writing Lesson Plans--Essay, Report, Composition, Writing Homework Help

Have you ever sat staring blankly at what is supposed to your English paper? Looks uncomfortably void of writing,does it? It's due tomorrow and you haven't got a clue what to write or how to write it or both? Writing is a struggle for many people. And composing an essay, research or term paper can be really intimidating. Here are websites to help with all your writing needs: essay, type 2, personal narrative, research,  term papers and more. Top10 Websites for Free Essay, Report, Composition or Any Other Writing Homework Help

National Grandparents Day: Happy Grandparents Day to Gaga (and Mama) with love

Here's a memorial tribute I wrote for National Grandparents' Day. Need to write a personal narrative or teach students how to? Feel free to use mine as a model.

Dear Mama,
With National Grandparents Day approaching, I'm taking a walk down memory lane. I'm celebrating the joy you've brought to our lives, especially to your four grandchildren. You've been "Gaga" for 22 years, since Molly Cate (the eldest and ringleader) dubbed you that at age 2. She had other grandmas, but only one Gaga (or Gagi when she was feeling silly). To this day, you sign the kids' cards "love, Gaga."  National Grandparents Day: Happy Grandparents Day to Gaga (and Mama) with love

Sister Michael and the Prayer of the Damned

Another vignette of paranormal prose, the tingle you to your toes. "Remind me why I wanted to go to SMGC?"' Monika wondered aloud as she lugged six industrial strength textbooks and her laptop out of the BKT (Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha) Library on All Hallow's Eve. The university was lovely, old and very secluded. Way off the beaten track in the middle of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which was all off the beaten track to start with.

The BKTL smelled of generations of academia. The Victorian buildings, with their lower level of beautiful windows and glass-work, so reflective on the nearby lake, were built shortly after the turn of the century by the Sisters of Mercy (some of whom, it was rumored, still haunted the place).  Read on Sister Michael and the Prayer of the Damned

Paranormal Prose Promotion--Seeing Yourself in Others

More heart-stopping paranormal prose from storyspinner Angel Sharum "It started early this morning. I woke up and rubbed my eyes to clear them of gunk accumulated during the night. Usually, this is an insignificant habit that clears my sight so I can make my way to the bathroom, but today, today it was a different matter altogether." Read more...Seeing Yourself in Others by: Angel Sharum

Paranormal Prose Promotion--Youth and Beauty

For our 2012 Horror Anthology, here's a hair-raiser from Angel Sharum. Youth and Beauty "So pretty. You’d never make fun of me, would you, little one? No, you’re too sweet for anything like that. I can tell. Not like those nasty brats down the street, always laughing at me; or the kids on the playground running whenever I come near. Like I’m going to eat them or something! You wouldn’t do anything like that." Read Angel Sharum's Story Board: Youth and Beauty

How to Blog: Where to Find Free Blogs

Teachers require students to journal for different types of classes. Journaling, or writing in a personal diary is therapeutic. It helps kids (and adults) avoid confrontation by giving them a place to vent emotions. With online activities becoming more popular, some teens and adults are turning to web blogs or vlogs (video blogs) for journaling. Looking for tips on how to start a blog? I'm your go-to gal-- I maintain 68 blogs which get a combined 200,000 to 800,000 hits per month. Think you have to pay to blog? You don't. There are several free blogs and blogging sites. Here's how to get a free blog. How to Blog: Where to Find Free Blogs

Ice Cream Dreams and Michigan Memories

Here's an example of personal memoirs writing. Use this for an example of nostalgia or local history writing.

Ice cream has spelled summer since the Chinese invented it 3,000 years ago. It was primarily for nobility and the upper class until 1776, when the first public ice cream parlor opened in New York City. Ice cream went portable when edible coronets, or cones, made from waffles were introduced at the St. Louis World's Fair. My grandmother remembered buying ice cream squares wrapped in paper, from street vendors in Grand Rapids, Mich. When I was a kid, the Good Humor man still sold frozen novelties, accompanied by a cheerful tune. Ice Cream Dreams and Michigan Memories 

Free Printable Personal Planners, Resume Templates, Business Forms

Writing and blogging online aren't just about putting words together and throwing them into cyberspace. If you're going to make money freelancing, you've got to be organized. That requires business templates, tax documents, tax preparation tools, a personal planner and calendar apps. If you're job hunting, you need resume templates, too.

Being a thrifty WAHM, I won't pay for business forms, online organizers, document or resume templates, personal planners or calendars. You shouldn't either and you don't have to. Click here Free Printable Personal Planners, Business Templates, Resume Templates. 

Labor Day Social Studies Lesson Planner, Writing Prompts

Labor Day might make us think of picnics, parades and the last vacation before school starts. It's easy to forget why we celebrate Labor Day and what it's all about. Labor Day is a day set aside to honor the work that people perform to care for loved ones and keep our country functioning. We honor too those who have lost their lives on the job, in accidents, strikes, lockouts or in the labor organizing process.

We can thank Labor unions such as the UAW (United Auto Workers), the farm workers, railroad and steel workers, miners, NEA, PATCO, Teamsters and those unions within the AFL-CIO for their action to preserve the dignity of labor, to facilitate healthy and safe work environments and to negotiate successfully for better working conditions. Many skilled trades people (like authors) have guilds to protect their rights. For free Labor Day lessons and writing prompts, visit Labor Day Social Studies Lesson Planner

Sample Commentary for Current Events Essay Writing

Looking for guidance on essay writing? In an essay, the writer takes a stand on an issue and backs it up with fact. The essay should employ literary devices and some elements of creativity--it shouldn't just be dry fact. It's similar to creative non-fiction in that fact is written about creatively.

Essays are similar to commentaries (also called editorial or op-ed), in which the writer comments, from his own opinion and experience, on trending news stories. Typically, other stories or facts are employed to back up the author's contention. Writers need to be careful not to write too much fact with essays/commentaries. The piece is then an analysis. Essays should clearly reflect the writer's opinion. Here's an example from a piece I wrote for Yahoo!

--Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to censor. Take the matter of online photo sharing--there's sometimes a fine line between offensive content and freedom of speech (or share). Who's to say what constitutes offensive material. There's no one-size-fits-all model  that works for every situation.

Like a fly, Facebook keeps getting tangled in the censorship web. Time and again, photos are banned that shouldn't be. Case in point are the images from a breast cancer survivor which Facebook deemed obscene. Read more at...Facebook's Odd Photo Bans Highlight Censorship Dilemmas 

How to Write a Nostalgic Tribute, Experience Memoir

Nostalgic tributes or memorials are my terms for writings that describe feelings in retrospect. Nostalgic tributes are similar to memoirs except that they focus on how the individual was impacted by a larger experience in history. Here's an example I wrote from a the Vietnam War as it impacted me as a child.

On June 8, 1972, I was your average 7-year-old, happy to be out of school and looking forward to summer vacation. Soldiers were fighting in a place called "Vietnam" but that was far away and didn't really affect me in my happy little beach town of Muskegon, Mich.
Over meatloaf and mashed potatoes, we watched news reels on television. As callous as only a child can be, I got used to seeing the graphic images. In fact, it used to annoy me when war updates interrupted "Tom and Jerry."  Read more at Photo of Girl in Vietnam Napalm Bombing Brings Back Memories

Free Poetry Writing Guide: How to Write Free Verse Poetry

 Poetry gives voice to the soul. Writing poetry is like singing;it should flow from the spirit, as a lament, a rhapsody or an aria. Unlike tangible things poetry is not so easy to dissect, critique or explain. There are some devices that poets employ to create poems. Having created some poetry myself and taught courses in poetry in creative writing, I'll try to distill the essence of poetry in this guideline. Poetry Writing Guide: How to Write Free Verse Poetry 

No Flowers for Mama

A poem of a child's dilemma and his perennial wisdom.

i wanna by sum flowers for my mama
cuz flowers are pretty and so is she
i asked her what kind she liked and she smiled
'save your pennies, honey and pick some wild flowers for me'
i spied the neighbors two-lips
growing tall, all pink and red
i spied the neighbor watchin' me
so i kicked a stone instead  (read more here) No Flowers for Mama (P.S.--if this intrepid little boy wanted to pick from my garden, I'd let him!)

How to Write a Musical Review

I write musical reviews for Associated Content and Yahoo! Here is an example of how to write a 400 word musical review for online or print publications.

"Croatian virtuoso pianist Maksim Mrvica plays classical cross-over and is himself a world class act. Since performing his first concerto at age 11, nothing, not even war, has prevented Maksim from creating beautiful music. Mrvica gives heart-stopping performances, made all the more memorable and poignant by the fact that this young man learned his art while his nation waged an epic war." Read more...

Writer Vulnerability

I feel very vulnerable posting my poems online. I'm like an actor feeling stage fright. What if my little verse does a belly flop? What if it's not enjoyed? What if it's not even read? So it was with great joy (and humbled appreciation) that I noted that two of my most recent pieces have been viewed 50 times...each! Thank you, readers, whoever you are. I know that if I'm going to survive this world of publishing, particularly in the tenuous area of poetry, I'm going to have to grow some thicker skin. But until then, (if I ever even do) the knowledge that people are reading was a real pick-me-up for this thin-skinned gal. Be well. Do good work. Love, mar

Free Printable Poetry Lesson--'Green' Nature Poems with Science Connections

April is National Poetry Month. April 22 is Earth Day, too. In spring, our lesson plans usually turn to life science, new life, plant life, seasons and other such activities. In many classrooms, from preschool to kindergarten and up through 8th grade, lessons are focused on the sun, clouds, rain, precipitation, the water cycle, budding trees, plants and flowers, insects and baby animals. Here's a green project. You can easily combine a unit on poetry reading and writing with your spring life science lessons.  Free Printable Poetry Lesson: Green Nature Poems

Free Printable Holy Week Activities

Holy Week, the week preceding Easter, begins on Palm Sunday of the liturgical church year. Holy Week is the culmination of Lent. The Easter Triduum, consisting of Maundy or Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday bring christians to the highest point in the church year, Easter. Holy Week is also referred to as the Passion or Paschal celebration.  Here are writing activities and devotional ideas. Read more at Free Printable Holy Week Activities 

Proverbs in Anima Humanis or Vice, in Verse

Pontias Pilate asked of the Savior, "what is truth?" If Pilate was a Roman and found truth vexing, well, that means that, as a plebeian American, I shan't aspire to so esoteric a question. I shall ask, more answerably, what is sin? Is it error? I suspect not, for that would mean that mistakes, generally committed unwittingly, were in fact not accidents. Mistake implies that remediation is possible. To err, we are told is human. To forgive, yes, is divine, but equally divine is that the sinner recovers and redirects after said misstep.

So is sin, then, fault? Closer, I think, for this indicates calculated choice over which the soi disant sinner  exercises some control. If I were to presume to define, I would quote and quoting, choose St. Paul (which is highly unusual for me as St. Paul represents the saint with whom I least self-identify. In which case, it could be said I am, then, most like him as he reflects the parts of me I least like). St. Paul says (some liberty of personal translation taken) "I do that which I don't wish to do and fail to do that which I should." Ergo--a simple, working definition of sin, or vice. Having waxed eloquent and, I fear, ad nauseum, I proceed to my analysis of vice, in verse.

Care fetters the body
as shackles, the imprisoned bind
but pen to parchment opens manacles
and frees as surely as a jailer's key

Doubt sows tares in good intentions
and beats plowshares into swords
whilst Faith tends the Gardener-given patch
gladly, gently, peaceably, and with love

Deception perverts truth
as a wasting sickness cripples and deforms
yet honesty gives wings to the earthbound
to take it's message heavenward

Melancholy wrenches the mind
like stones, causing the foot to stumble
but a smile lights the countenance
like pixie dust and a faerie bonfire in spring

Loneliness corrodes the heart
like acid on a blooming jonquil
but friendship is heart's-ease and rain
like tears, washing away sadness and want

Fear corrupts the soul
like mildew in rising damp
while trust dries up encroaching mold
blowing it to nowhere where it can harm no one

Strife ignites the stomach and
heats the blood, like flame to tinder
laughter, also like conflagration,
spreads and warms without burning.

Anger charges the choleric to
take up arms and duel to death
but tolerance inspires the sanguine
to put passion to healing

Hatred impales, decapitates, silences
like a guillotine or pikestaff
while Love embraces, rebuilds, resurrects
as Man, once dead, lives again



the muse will not be
mitigated, satiated, filled
restlessly, he bids me always
to pen when i would sleep

i call him "he" tho'
in fact, "she" he may be
or even "it"-- as bestial
he often devours me whole

Phantasm? Demon? Harpy?
Fury? Friend? Foe?
Muse at my shoulder
monkey on my back

all senses or affect
any tranquility I may possess
or long for, any serenity I demand
is always answered "nay"

"Legion" he very likely is
for he or they never sleep
or take ease or allow it
driver driving the driven on

he takes my spirit to task anon
Quixote, questing, dreaming impossibly
haunts my wakings, troubles my night
tilting at windmills and at nothing

like Poe's eternal Raven
not imprecating "Nevermore"
but exhorting me "onward"
"Excelsoir" and "evermore!"

Not bird, nay, but yet hawk, even vulture-like
in wary watchfulness
knelling, compelling, opining
of what? je ne sais quoi

would that he were,
my night companion,
as Poe's winged fiend
made of flesh and feathers

Like Dickinson's thing with wings
for then I could perchance parley some
converse, rail, inquire, implore
enigmatic possibly, but living

Or, in greatest travail
cease his eternal bullying
silence his endless harangue
plunging my quill in his breast

but ever, mine is Petra-still
implacable, immovable
a fixture, with only orbs
and zeal alive and probing

all-seeing, omnipotent, still
pity-less, remorseless, relentless
like water on a stone
encroaching, eroding, erasing

further still, a millstone
of justice and retribution
a nemesis, revolving slowly
grinding steadily finer

wearing me down to
thought, emotion, specter, bone
taxing, teasing, telescoping resources
to unreachable reaches

would that my demigod ever
commended or even acknowledged
my passion-drained self
my craft-weary, word-heavy soul

Under his ceaseless, scalding stare
I will 'ere be apprentice
journeyman perhaps, but never
master, magistra, beladonna

In ages past and times to come
I will tarry not in slumber
while decomposing, I compose
in composition, no repose

~marilisa, 2/22/12 Ash Wednesday



She dreamt in octuplet
in verse, footed and free
she wept in rhyme
amber-soft, flinty and chill

words, parsed en multi lingua
ad hoc, ad limina
without boundary or shore
sea-deeps to grave-silent outer tomb

Aligheri descended to hinterland
and beyond, Milton ascended,
nirvana found, in mesosphere
between dwelt Aristophanes

what is man's soul that any art mindful?
Goethe's devouring Mephistopheles
trades Faust for Little Nell.
Valjean, redemption, for bread.

Verbum is soul liturgy
Alexandria, Bodleian, subway wall
truth? Triumph of man
against society? Nay self.

And what of paradise?
Peace, Patience, incants the Prophet
magi, shaman, fakir agree
even Immortal Qasim, Jesu
and Gautama neath his bodhi tree

ergo, in quasi pace, she waits
with holy men, demons, mortui
for portent of signum crucis
(or otherwise) let it be

morn to twilight to blue-black nacht
she travels twixt infinitum and natal sound
in the moments among
sclafen, dream and waking

desiderata, mantra
much to think, to feel, to need, to taste
mammon long passed
and sapiens still to meet

in vacuum-time, we attende
speaking nothing, everything
from world's first gasp
to final death rattle

O, to repose neath Pleiades’s
on porcelain sand-lipped sea
in grove of Venus
or temple of Astarte

to drink of vineyard fruit
vino, vita, veritas
dulce et jubilato
ascend star-pocked stair

In caelo, ora et labora
unt labora es ora
minor travesti with
much amor et caritas

clay slap-pulled is Grecian vase
marble bent asunder, woman
ochre, azure, vermillion
Titian henna-tress vixen
y Raphael's fresco sublime

rude word becomes
lyric, gossamer imitates gown
rosewood, mellifluous lute
gold becomes reliquary sanctus
and alabaster a funereal jar

From peasant-hewn grain
to celestial body
from philistine-trod grape
corpus, sangua, soul and divinity

O to repose...

Free Romantic Valentine's Cards, Poems, Verses, E-Cards

Look no further for lovely valentine poems for your sweetheart. Websites include poetry from all schools and styles on love, romance and relationships. Free verse, Japanese, Shakespearean, Greek, Persian, German romanticism, transcendentalists and iambic pentameters, octuplets and high school literature styles that I love but find hard to keep straight. Remember, Valentine's Day cards are not just for children. We can all enjoy the fun of sending and receiving little greetings and notes or cheer during this cold, dark season of winter. Here are a variety of websites featuring free e-cards and printable valentine cards for adults to share with each other. Many of the sites feature cards to send to sweethearts and lovers and are sensual or romantic, but there are no obscene or pornographic cards included in this list. Read more at Free Romantic and Valentine's E-Cards for Adults

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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