Friday, October 9, 2015

Vashonista Celebration

On the first of October, I flew to Seattle, Washington to spend five days with blogging friends that I first met in October of 2012 when we rented an old farmhouse on Vashon Island.  Since that first meeting, this time together at Lavender Hill has become a yearly event.  This year, since all of us are now retired, we decided to spend five days together rather than three.  We also decided that we would spend the time writing.  Deb from Cat Bird Scout was our facilitator for our writing.

During our writing time we worked from Pat Snider's model of workshop writing. We wrote eleven prompt writing during our time together.  We all agreed to share our last prompt writing on our blogs.

The Prompt

Deb read to us Mary Oliver's Poem The Summer Day.  If you have never read this wonderful poem, I am included it here:

Once Deb had finished reading the poem, she gave us the last line of this poem as our writing prompt:

What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

A Reflection on The Prompt

Sometime assigned writing prompts bring up feelings which the writer wishes to not address in writing.  Such was the case for me that day.  This particular poem had been used on the funeral program of one lost too soon, of one I had loved and admired greatly.  I cut the poem from the funeral program and framed it as a reminder of the importance of that last line when considering the days we have left in this life.  

On this particular day when we were given this particular writing prompt, I had just received word that two men I had gone to school with had just passed away.  One had been married to a friend from my high school group before her untimely passing five years ago.  The other I had not know well, but my husband had, and he was the much loved older brother of a friend of mine.  Needless to say, the poem, the last line, and the prompt hit a very somber note with me.  The deaths of two from my school days seemed to prompt a reminder that I have fewer day before me than I do behind me.  

I decided to look back to my youth and see how I had used the days I have been given up until this point.  Had I used my time wisely?  What were my early goals for life?  How did the goals I had from my early days influence the decisions I have made through seven decades of living?  

The Writing Piece

Trees lined the sidewalks that led from the college dorms to the main campus.  Those canopy covered walks lead to the future for which I am preparing, I thought as I headed out that first day towards my very first college class.  Reality has hit.  I'm here for real.  Frosh orientation is thankfully over.  It seemed so silly.  I guess we are stuck with wearing these horrible beanies for a few days yet. I really hated the silly games we had to play during orientation.  Who thought we would like to play "Pass the orange under your chin to the guy behind you."  That, and high school, are all behind me now.  I have actually matriculated.  How's that for using a real college word?  I have my college map, and I know where Bru-Inn is.  I'll get a coke there after class.  Maybe I will make a new friend or two at the student center, but it is a bit scary to walk in by myself.  Maybe my roommate will meet me.  Thankfully, she and I are walking to our first classes together.

I belong here.  It took some doing.  I won the scholarship which is paying my tuition.  I convinced my father that I would make good on the investment he is making in my future.  Seventy dollars a quarter is covered by the tuition scholarship I won.  The board and room of $150 a quarter will partially be paid by the salary I will make working in the dining hall two meals a day.  I worked all summer to buy my clothes and help pay for books.  I know this is a sacrifice for my parents, but I am working and helping all I can.  

I will be a teacher.  I am here to prepare for that profession.  I'm not in any hurry to get married.  I will someday, but not now.  I want to be independent.  I want to rely on my own ability to make my way in this life.  

Later, when the preparation for a profession is done, and I have met the right person, I want to marry. I want to teach after I am married, but I also want five kids.  That means I hope to also have house, a garden, a place where my children and children after them will come for family dinners when they are grown.  I have my future all planned out.

The vision from those long ago days wasn't too far off.
The vision served as a blueprint for the decisions I made as I moved into the future.
I accomplished those goals.
Life has sent me many curves along the way.
Certainly, I never saw many of them coming, 
in the end,
if today were the end,
I'm happy with my life.
I've lived this wild and precious life well.

Read the posts from other Vashonistas at:
DJan at D-Janity
Jann at Benchmark 60


  1. Oh my gosh! You were there too? This is just so cool! I just met DJan and Linda Reeder this past spring in person and had a great time. This is so perfect for you. I'm so glad you had such a great time.

  2. Loved your reflections, Sally! And the five days with blogging friends -- all writing -- sounds so wonderful! So glad that you're part of that tradition!

  3. I loved reading this again after having spent such a wonderful time with you over these last days. It's perfect when I can not only read your words, but also hear your voice in my head as I read them! What a gift we have been given. :-)

  4. I loved this approach to the prompt. It was good to listen in on your young voice, fresh and ready to take on the world. You have much to look forward to. Hugs to you, Sally!

  5. What a wonderful retreat you had, full of friends, thoughts, inspiration, and resolve. Lucky you.

  6. It's a different experience reading the words rather than hearing you read them. We are blessed to have found such friendships and have had the time together.

  7. I am so impressed with the freshman you. You definitely used your time well.
    How neat that you all got to have such a productive as well as pleasant and fun meeting. Keep on writing.

  8. Love your thoughts..... You are a fabulous writer!!!!! So glad you had that special time together with friends..


  9. I had no plans in my youth. I'm so impressed that you did!

  10. I can say that many of the hopes and plans of my youth did come about, with more than a few bumps in the road. That is life and all those bumps have been lessons that have taught me to be a better person.

  11. I have now read all six of the Vashonista's responses to this prompt. they leave me wondering what I would have written. Your's made me think back to my early college days, and all i knew was that I would probably end up teaching. I never dreamed that I would ever marry or have a family or be a homeowner and homemaker. I had to become a real person first and that took a while.

  12. I'm so envious you went. I would not have dared and lived with regrets as I do many times when fear stops me from my dreams. Your writing is introspective and encourages me to think about that part too.

  13. All this is a wonderful revelation to me, about the Vashionistas. I've read several of the essays and they are all insightful and affecting. And ... I love your vision.

  14. I appreciate your unique approach to our prompt, and the courage it's taken for you to live your life according to your plan, your ability to weather the storms.

  15. I was a bit jealous of your get-away until I read about it being a writing retreat with assigned topics. Sounds too much like The Writing Project. I hate to write on demand. Glad you gals enjoyed it.

  16. How concisely and eloquently you have responded to the prompt and moved this reader. You decided how to respond to the painful circumstances the poem brought to mind. And the prompt piece and the journey it chronicled both earn the words "Well done!"

  17. My introduction to college was much like yours as were my goals. I was a scholarship student who sometimes worked 3 jobs to make it through. I think many of us have been blessed with one wild and perfect life.

  18. The comment I wrote disappeared. You chose a great approach to fulfilling a prompt that brought to mind painful losses. Reflections well written and a life well lived serve up much food for thought. And thanks for links to the other posts.

  19. I followed your story as though it were my own. Our dreams were not the same but the feet on the grounds story rang so very true. I could almost smell the autumn air and feel the orange beneath my chin.

    I loved following your groups gathering. Thank you so much for sharing.


  20. Sally, you did a great job of finding a way to respond to the prompt. I had some vague visions and assumptions when I started college, but they weren't as well formed as your plans. You have contributed much to the world as a mom, a teacher, and a writer, and you continue to teach through your writing and relationships. I was sorry to hear that you may not return to Vashon next year, but what a wonderful experience to have enjoyed.

  21. What a wonderful time and what a fascinating prompt. Your reflections are beautiful and I know that so, too, is the experience you all shared. What a great gift this time together was and how beautifully you expressed your thoughts. We should all be so lucky.

  22. Vashon Island in Washington?
    Had been to the Orcas Island over there a few months ago. What a wonderful place.

  23. Oh, I do love Mary Oliver. On my birthday weekend getaway, I read an entire one of her books cover to cover out on the porch facing the lake. Heaven!

  24. Definitely an interesting position you took on this prompt -- which also makes them most interesting to share when done in a group. I don't quite recall what my goals were in my youth. Would be interesting to that as a prompt. Certainly more interesting than what I wrote in my journal today so have added it as a prompt for tomorrow and will think about it on my walk today.

    Grateful you had the opportunity to meet with your group on Vashon. How wonderful to be in the company of such fine women.


Thank you for visiting my blog. I love reading your comments. Comments are moderated by the author of this blog. It may take a short delay for your comment to be published. No anonymous comments are published, nor are comments that are offensive to myself or other readers.