175 Thank Yous for 175 Years of Mt. Holyoke


It’s Thanksgiving week. Over at my personal blog, I wrote today about locations I’m so grateful to have seen this year. If it should interest you, check out Mandatory Gratitude – Places I’ve Loved in 2012. I like that idea of mandatory gratitude, not that I feel like I personally need the reminder at this time, but don’t we all know someone who we wish could find a way to be more grateful for all they do have?

I was sad not to be able to attend the 175th celebrations at Mt.Holyoke recently, and especially sad to be unable to attend the readings by some of our contributors here at The Lyon Review.

I have been thinking about what my years at Mt. Holyoke have meant for my life. I’m not one of the lucky ones who got my degree from there, but I still, and will always, love Mt. Holyoke most. So, I have a challenge to my fellow alumnae. Imagine you are writing a letter to Mary Lyon. You are going to list for her all the reasons you can think of to say thank you for your Mt. Holyoke experience. The goal is obvious — let’s come up with 175 reasons to say thank you. I’ll start and you all continue in the comments. Please pass it on and keep it going. (Are there people you met you’re grateful for? Name them – if you think they’d be uncomfortable, then just use a first name.) Professors who changed your life? Courses? Friendships? A book that opened new avenues to you? Music from the time that still resonates for you?

Dear Mary Lyon,

I wish I could sit with you and share a cup of tea and tell you how grateful I am for your vision in creating Mt. Holyoke. I’ve asked other alums to join me in sharing our thank yous for our time at Mt. Holyoke. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things we are so grateful for:

1. An English class taught by Prof. Youngblood that made Gerard Manley Hopkins sing for me – Pam Parker

2. Anne Friedrichs Lairmore – a good friend who I met freshman year and one of my best writing fans – Pam Parker

3. A note I received from Pres. Kennan when my father died during my sophomore year – Pam Parker

4. The golden leaves on campus in the fall – Pam Parker

5. Instilling in me the confidence, and the idea, that I could do anything I set my mind to – Pam Parker

Okay, there’s five. I’ll be glad to add more, but will wait to see what you all add on. When you comment, simply begin with number 6. and then keep adding on as we go. Hope you will feel free to add your own name to your additions.

Keep it going – pass it on to your alumnae friends – happy #writing.

And, many thanks.

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


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. 🙂