Mountain Day: How about a few “mountain moments”?

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Perhaps, like me, your email and facebook lit up this morning with the exciting news: it is Mountain Day at Mt. Holyoke! Do you remember the bells ringing, the happy buzz in the hallways of your dorm that yes, indeed, classes were cancelled? I had a message follow soon after the announcement from an MHC alum to two of us asking, “Why does this seem to mean more to me now than it did then?” And, I had to agree. When I was a student, the excitement was about no classes, hanging out and I hadn’t yet achieved the maturity to understand that unplanned time, particularly spent in nature or at some “useless” activity would be refreshing for body and spirit.

“Summit achieved by at least 100 students in first wave. Pres. Pasquerella greets climbers.” (From Alumnae Assoc. page on Facebook)

So, if you are living in the United States and possibly suffering from the drive to do, do, do constantly, can you carve a few Mountain Day minutes for yourself? If you don’t have time for a walk — or if the demands of work and children make that impossible — can you take a few minutes and reflect? Maybe write a paragraph about a Mountain Day memory, or if you could do a Mountain Day over again, what would you do differently? Sometimes, it is in moments of relaxation that we creative types receive insights — a solution to a block, a new idea, a change of direction for a character, etc.

May you breathe deeply and be good to yourself today. I think Mary Lyon would approve. Let us all know if you have success with giving yourself a mini-Mountain Day. 🙂

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Submit It Season

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September feels like new beginnings.At our beloved alma mater, the students are back. Convocation has been held. Depending on where you live, there’s the noticeable waning of summer temperatures and daylight hours. Some people dwell on the ending of summer, rather than the beginning of fall. Labor Day weekend – marked by many as the unofficial end of summer – also seems to be a popular time for weddings, one of the most beautiful of beginnings. My husband and I attended a lovely wedding on the Keweenaw peninsula (upper Michigan) on the shores of Lake Superior. Here’s a little pic from the hike we took before the wedding:

It’s not so obvious in this photo, but the leaves are turning up there. I’m so ready for the colors, the coolness, the classes — fall. Even with no longer having to manage the packing of lunches, the buying of school supplies, the setting up my classroom, etc., it still feels like starting time to me. And, in the writing world, for many folks, September marks the beginning of Submit It Season.

I found a great blog post today at The Missouri Review with a Guide to Submissions. Whether or not your new to the submissions’ process, there are some great tips/reminders here.

Here’s my submissions goal for this week:  Revise piece from Aspen for another contest submission.

Happy #writing and submitting all. What are your submissions plans? Maybe post a goal here and see if you keep it?

Deadlines — More than nightmares

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about deadlines and realizing that I’m the kind of person that needs them to function well. Many of us can remember the pressure of final exams, those dreaded paper deadlines, that feeling of a clock ticking in the back of your mind, morning, noon and night (which back in the day, may have had something to do with actual ticking clocks as well as excessive doses of TAB, but, whatever!) Yes, those kind of deadlines can and do become the stuff of nightmares as we grow older. But other deadlines don’t seem to enter my sleep. For example, if I’m in need of rediscovering my dining room table top, it’s time to invite someone over for dinner in a week or so. April 15 is a classic deadline (and maybe a nightmare unto itself) – we all know what it means and the majority of us meet or beat it. But deadlines don’t have to be just the stuff of nightmares. Deadlines are terrific motivators.

Since leaving teaching over ten years ago though, I’ve lived without frequent deadlines — no more grades due by midterms and quarter’s end; no more parent-teacher conferences; no more weekly meetings to run and respond to. I worked efficiently with those deadlines. I got a whole lot done in a day and think I made a positive contribution to the lives of my students and colleagues.

Without consistent deadlines, I’ve had to find ways to create some for myself, especially for my writing. I’m in a writing group that meets about every two weeks for the academic year and is sometimes on, sometimes not, in summers. I find that group works as a good deadline for me to aim toward with new work. Also, I’ve used writing contests as deadlines, and deadlines of favorite journals to submit to are often motivators for me.

Some of the staff of the Lyon Review have been wondering about incorporating deadlines into our submission calendar. We are wondering if that might motivate some of you to submit who haven’t yet. Do you think you would be more or less likely to submit if you knew there was a due date to work toward? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!