Children of the Gifted Network – The future Mary Oliver’s and Basho Matsuos of tomorrow

On Saturday, September 21, I taught a writer’s workshop for the children in the Gifted Support Network at Spencer Creek Library in St. Peters, Missouri.

My husband assisted me… nine and ten-year olds tend to be a little energetic.

The first part of the workshop dealt with the components of a picture book, developing a story, and using a storyboard. Some of the children chose to pen their ideas first, then draw. Others drew, then created. Some of them found this part a bit challenging. But by first break, six children completed six stories and offered to read them aloud.

After break, we dove into “What is a poem?”

I explained to them how a poem can be about anything – it may or may not have punctuation, it’s  how you feel, what you see, what you hear, or even what you touch.

I brought objects for them to help stir ideas for writing – a pearl, a seashell, a small piece of rope, a pebble from a lake, a building block, and an ink stamp. I spoke of different poetry styles – free verse, rhyming, Haiku, and shape poems.

Their creativity kicked into high gear with this exercise, all very excited to use their talents and imagination. As they finished their poems, they called me over to read their poetry. What beautiful masterpieces they produced. I asked if they would like to read to the class, and after they shared, they went on to work on another!

Sophia penned an emotional free verse poem about nature, adding illustrations to her words.

Jace chose to write two shape poems that rhymed – one inside of a mushroom cloud, the other inside a campfire. Amazed at how small he could write, the poems fit perfectly inside the shapes.

Anna wrote a very sweet free verse poem about pearls. I watched as she touched the pearl thinking about how to pen her thoughts.

Mya wrote a funny poem about getting rope burn, in keeping with her carefree personality.

Andrew wrote ten Haiku poems, many about nature and the sea. He loved reading to the class (and me).

Lucia designed an apple shape poem about an apple. She insisted on using markers, and the poem turned out very colorful and detailed.

On the whiteboard, my husband, designed a shape poem using the word L O V E. (I think he wrote it for me.)

Collectively, the children (and hubby) all created a poem, which I scribbled furiously on the whiteboard (because their minds were in overdrive). Each child recited the first thing that came to mind. I was moved to hear a poem about nature.

Using their words, I edited by placing only line breaks.

The final masterpiece is below  –

 

The wind is whistling

through the trees

and swirls through the grass

that sways.

The breeze

makes the waves ripple.

The smell of the ocean

has me in a daze.

 

The seagulls quietly murmur,

and soar

near the seashore.

Small

silver

fish

dart in the water.

 

In the far distance,

the water shimmers.

A dolphin catches my eye

and it appears

to glimmer.

 

Why is the tide never so high?

 

By Jace, Andrew, Lucia, Sophia, Mya, Anna and Russell

——-

I’m proud of them thinking so quickly and working together as a team.

At times, some of the children lost focus, with half of the group erupting into a giggle fest. Once they understood their time limits, they pushed pencils to paper.

I can definitely say that some of them may even grow up to be future Walt Whitman’s, Mary Oliver’s, Barbara Kingsolver’s and Basho Matsuos.

Peace, Love, and Sand Dollars,

Sheree

______________________________-

Sheree K. Nielsen is the award-winning author of four books  –

Her newest poetry and photography collection, Mondays in October, is her love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water. She’s dedicated the book to the Siteman Cancer Center Nurses who helped her make chemotherapy more bearable.

Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits – An Emerson-Inspired Essay Collection on Travel, Nature, Family and Pets, based on her adventures (Chanticleer Semi-Finalist for Nonfiction Guides – Insight and Instruction)

Folly Beach Dances is her 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, a healing coffee table book inspired by her lymphoma journey

and coauthor of, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, 2019 Chanticleer Little Peeps First Place Winner for Early Readers, Montaigne Medal Finalist, and Foreword Indies Review Finalist

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Mondays in October – My love song for the beach, and her eternal companion water – dedicated to the St. Louis Siteman Cancer Center nurses

Mondays in October….Happy Book Birthday Baby!

July 30 – published by Shanti Arts, Maine

For me, this collection is about time, nature, art, movement, and learning to slow down. During the creation of this book, I was forced to take a step back and look at life differently. In November 2018, I began chemotherapy for Waldenstrom’s lymphoma.

At the end of April 2019, chemotherapy was finally over. As for life, well, I imagine things in a simpler light. I’m in remission. I’m grateful for a publisher like Christine of Shanti Arts who was both patient, understanding, and kind, throughout the book’s journey.

I’ve dedicated Mondays in October to my husband, my fur babies, the tango dancers Elise and Marco who I met on the beach that Monday in October, and the St. Louis Siteman Cancer Center nurses who aided in my longest days of treatment with a smile, a kind word, and even a joke.

The photographs and poems are places, people, animals…and nature….that I hold most dear. They are my gift to you…..my love songs for life.

“Like the cricket’s song serenading a marsh at sunset, the wind’s harmonies causing waves to lap to shore, or two lovers dancing the tango in the sand, Sheree K. Nielsen’s Mondays in October’s collection of poems and photographs suggests easy movements in nature, and a time for us to slow down… like October…and imagine a simpler life.

Mondays in October are Sheree’s unmistakable love songs for the beach and all things water – vulnerable, blissful, and sensual.”

Here’s a page from the book titled Red Dog’s Observations at the bottom of my blog page.

Red Dog was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his heart on Monday. We are cherishing our days with him….however many sunsets he still has….

This post is for him.

Peace, love, and sand dollars,

Sheree

The River – Going With the Flow (Ethel + Robert Mirabal)

 

 

20190224_205925My long friend Tina, surprised me with tickets to see The River performed by Ethel + Robert Mirabal at the Blanche Touhill Performing Arts Center on February 24 at UMSL. I really had no idea what to expect as I’d never heard of the group before, so I settled into the comfy theatre balcony seats.

The River embodied the ritual of the Native Americans gathering near the water for events – the the birth and baptism of a child, a celebration, washing their clothes and bathing, among others. The river forged a sense of community among the people, as they would always return to the water, creating an essential spiritual role in the Native Americans lives.

Mellifluous sounds expressed through violins, flutes, and spoken word about how the river connects people throughout their life, was blissful solitude to hear. Robert Mirabel shared stories about his Native America heritage as well.

Their performance overwhelmed me with gratitude, and brought me to tears. For me, I felt connected, just being an audience member. At times, the music was so meditative, my eyelids felt heavy with slumber. I identified with The River’s concept that water is life – holding close to my heart trips to the ocean and the Great Lakes.

Waiting patiently until the audience had left, Tina and I were able to meet and speak with the group in the performing art center hallway.

I expressed thanks to Robert that the music brought me peace after recent chemotherapy treatments.

As tears welled in my eyes, Robert placed a colorful braided necklace over my head. The coral, crimson, maize, and burnt umber strands highlighted a pendant in the shape of an animal carved in wood.
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“This is Mama Bear. Mama Bear protects,” Robert smiled.

He lifted his left hand and interlocked his fingers with mine.

“Go with the flow of the River.”
_____________________

Peace, Love, and Sand dollars,

Sheree

___________________

Sheree is the author of three books –

– Chanticleer nominated Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits

– Chanticleer and Montaigne Medal nominated Midnight the One-Eyed Cat

– 2015 Da Vinci Eye Award Winner Folly Beach Dances

Her work can be found here:

https://amzn.to/2NDanYo
https://amzn.to/2zLgqFm
https://amzn.to/2zNuoq9

The Yin and Yang of Things….How Couples Complement Each Other

Have you ever wondered why your partner just naturally complements you?

According to the website, What’s your Sign, the yin and yang interact, and the good comes from the two being in harmony.

Coffee & ying yang.. Gotta love it!

Taken from Pinterest, Coffee & Yin Yang

The Free Dictionary says the Chinese symbol represents perfect balance. Yin is negative, dark, and feminine, Yang positive, bright, and masculine. Their interaction is thought to maintain the harmony of the universe and to influence everything within it.

I started thinking about this idea, and I discovered that my husband and I complement each other more than realized. I came up with a little chart to explore our balances.

In the food category:

My likes – His preferences

tomatoes – olives

pickles  – cucumbers

raisins – grapes

dark chocolate – white chocolate

salty espresso drinks – sweet espresso drinks

white meat chicken – dark meat chicken

Don’t need a recipe to create a meal – He needs a cookbook

 

In the life category:

I like to tell a story, he’s to the point

I’m a tree hugger, he’s a hunter

I’m a wanderer, he’s a navigator

I change my mind a lot, he needs a plan

I remember names, places & faces, he does not

I’m artistic, he’s computer savvy

I’m a light sleeper, he’s a deep sleeper

I need written directions, he needs a map

I would leave out parts, he’s good with putting things together

I’m sure there are many more ways couples balance each other. I believe the longer you live together, you develop a natural rhythm.

So this Valentine’s Day – the day to celebrate affection and love – take the time to think about how your partner balances you. It’s the perfect time to tell your loved one they ‘mean the world to you’. (I wonder if that saying had anything to do with yin and yang?)

I’m interested to know how your partner complements you. Feel free to share your comments below.

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Shifts Anthology – St. Louis Area Writer Featured in St. Louis Today

DSC_2483 glass window bridge 1 copyrSweet serendipity!

Have you ever stumbled upon something while searching for something else?

So nice to be mentioned by author and editor Trina Sotira, of Muse Write Press in Chicago, from her article in St. Louis Today published December 9, 2017.

Her story tells the story of women’s challenges and triumphs in Shifts – An Anthology of Growth Through Change.

As Trina states:

“The anthology features poems, short stories and essays by 35 women who represent diversity in age groups, geographic locations, marital status, parenting status, professions and sexual orientations. It highlights the strength of women as their life shifts ultimately lead to increased confidence and internal peace. The book was a 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award and 2015 USA Best Book Awards finalist.”

I am honored my photograph of the “Glass Window Bridge” taken on the gorgeous island of Eleuthera, Bahamas, graces the cover of his powerful book (pictured above).

To read the entire article click on the story title below –

ST. LOUIS WRITER FEATURED IN ANTHOLOGY THAT CAPTURES WOMEN’S CHALLENGES AND TRIUMPHS” 

Peace out,

xoxo

Sheree

 

 

The Drifter – A poem from Folly Beach Dances

2 The Drifter copyright

Since it’s National Poetry Month, I’d like to share a poem I penned for my 2015 Da Vinci Award Winning book, FOLLY BEACH DANCES – THE INFINITE RHYTHMS OF A SOUTH CAROLINA SEASHORE, inspired by the sea’s rhythm and my lymphoma journey, and endorsed by Karen White, NYT bestselling author.

It’s titled “The Drifter”, on page 5 of this ‘healing’ coffee table book of lyrical poetry and gorgeous photography, with reflections by 5 award-winning women authors, and my husband.

“The Drifter”

Not far in the distance I notice an old tree,

now driftwood,

with branches reaching out to a cornflower blue sky and white-streaked cotton clouds.

The image of a beach bungalow appears in my head,

with sounds of laughter,

lazy days in the sun,

peaceful ocean breezes,

smoky barbeques at dusk

and a warm crackling fire at night.

Except from Return to Folly Beach, Sheree K. Nielsen

Folly Beach Dances, copyright May 2014

Peace out and love,

Sheree

Troy Buchanan Writer’s Week – 7 days of inspiration

On March 16, hubby and I had the great pleasure of presenting two talks to students at Troy Buchanan High School Writer’s Week.

Writer’s Week is an annual event where authors come from all around to talk about their books, their journey, and the craft of writing – a full week of back-to-back sessions for the students.

As my husband, Russell and I stepped into the library, we noticed a photo of our book propped on an easel. Upon closer inspection, it was actually a ceiling tile painting, and realistic depiction of our book cover, Folly Beach Dances. So excited, I asked April Elliott, the Art teacher who painted the tile, to pose for a photo next to her creative masterpiece.

DSC_0875 April Elliott copyr

Book covers from visiting authors hung as ceiling tiles in the space overhead, such as The Hate List by bestselling author Jennifer Brown.

DSC_0878 Ceiling tiles crop copry

The session commenced as a few students read their works to fellow students before our presentation. One young writer from our church, Tyler Tippett, shared a poignant and touching essay about a family member.

DSC_0868 Tyler Tippett crop copyr

 

 

DSC_0874 Russell copyrAfterwards, Russell and I proceeded to tell the story of Folly Beach Dances in words and pictures. We hoped the students took away with them the purpose and mission of our ‘healing’ coffee table book.

DSC_0884 Me and Georganna crop copry

Georganna Krumlinde, Library Media Specialist, (yellow t-shirt) graciously provided us with lunch and a surprise basket of gifts from the school once our session ended.

In the process, I discovered Annie England Noblin, NYT bestselling author of Sit! Stay! Speak! was a presenter at Troy Buchanan. Later in the week, writer friend Pat Wahler and I, attended her session. During Annie’s break, we chatted about writing, our fur babies, and life in Missouri.

 

Showing me the Love – in a Bowl of Purina Catfood

DSC_0863 cat heart kibble copyrI knew cats were smart and creative but…

Awaking this morning, I lumbered into the kitchen wearing my new blue waffle-weave robe, and chocolate Labrador embroidered slippers. Three fur babies followed close behind. Almost immediately, I noticed the cat’s food bowl was low.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed something interesting in the bowl – where Mitty Kitty had nibbled, there was the shape of a heart.

“Midnight’s showing me the love!” I remarked to my husband.

“What?”

“Midnight. She left me a message in her food bowl. It’s a heart!” I said cheerfully.

So amazed by her display of affection, I snatched the camera and captured her artistic expression.

Did I think Mitty was showing me the love? Well, maybe.
But I already knew by her low purrs and comforting presence on my lap, she loved me.

Did she want to become an artist?
Not sure. She’s attempted other creative efforts such as playing with robe sashes, chatting with birds through the screen door, leaping in one bound to the top of the refrigerator, but nothing this exciting.

One thing I know for sure – she loves her crunchy Purina Focus Chicken and Rice, and Sensitive Stomach for Adults kibble.

The heart-shaped nibble-art — well, an added bonus for Momma.

Often our spirits are lifted just by looking at a heart design – bringing joy, or even a smile. That’s what it did for me.

It made me think about sharing the love, and how we see open hearts every day.

Open-hearted people share their experiences and tribulations with us, hopes, dreams, and fears. These people are lovely to be around. They’re positive, giving, and strong – no matter what is happening in their lives.

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint…and that voice will be silenced.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

So now go and share the love with someone, and have a great day!

Peace and Open Hearts,

Sheree

DSC_0857 Midnight copyr

A World’s Fair Home – Karen Kalish Clayton mansion showcases her art collection – pub’d Missouri Life

Good afternoon everyone,

I had the opportunity to step inside a real piece of history – a World’s Fair Home patterned after the Missouri Building from the World’s Fair in 1904, when a query I submitted to Missouri Life that came to fruition.

Entrepreneur, Karen Kalish owns the magnificent home in the historic Old Town Clayton district, and has filled it to the brim with her personal charm and eclectic style, all the while showcasing her extensive collection of art work.

Here’s my feature article and photographs that appeared in the August 2015 issue of Missouri Life. I especially fell in love with her pets while doing the story.

Maybe, she’ll invite me back just to hangout?

Peace out and love,

Sheree

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Music, Poetry and True Glory

20150605_192734powell orchestra pitLast Friday evening, I attended a concert at Powell Symphony Hall with my friend Nancy. Like a child opening a gift, we were ecstatic to see Chris Botti and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra perform together. If you’ve never heard of Chris Botti, he’s only the best jazz trumpeter to walk the face of the earth. I’ve not missed a concert of his since he opened for the silken songbird, Diana Krall over 12 years ago at the Fox Theatre.

With no musicality in my family, I love to listen to music of all genres – jazz, classical, Christian and rock.

Entering the venue, seeing everyone dressed in their best, eyeing the winding staircases and the magnificent chandeliers, made me smile.

20150605_191709 powell chandelier 1As we settled in our seats and the lights dimmed, the audience became silent. I closed my eyes for a moment and listened to the sweet melodies permeating from the orchestra, the smooth sounds of Chris’ trumpet, and the weeping strings of the guest violinist. It was nothing less than magical.

Over the course of the evening, Chris brought out guest singers, highlighted his band, and introduced new up-and-comers. As the concert drew to a close, the lights dimmed deeper, and the spotlight was on Chris and his pianist. The room’s ambiance felt like an intimate jazz club.

On Sunday, I headed to another cultural event at the Unity Center in Columbia, Missouri, Friends Abby and Marcia accompanied me to the book launch of Well-Versed 2015. Marcia and I were receiving awards for our works from the Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. Our poems and prose were accepted for inclusion into the anthology.DSC_0145DSC_0135

Winners and contributors read aloud poems and stories about Moms, mystery, nature, pets, and even family conflicts. I listened intently.

DSC_0136Some stories had me rolling with laughter, others made me think; still others stirred up such raw emotion I found myself sobbing.

Each event had one thing in common. The performers – whether musicians or writers – glorified God.

When a human being is doing what he or she was created to do, then God is honored and glorified.

When God is honored, “Other people take notice. The world wakes up a little bit, sees things in a clearer/holier light, and seeks the source of that light,” says Coffee with God author, Sarah Arthur.

Performers glorify God by “using their talents to their utmost,” Arthur says.

Sometimes I don’t feel fully alive. I’m either wandering aimlessly throughout the day, depressed or unmotivated. (Like yesterday)

When I take the time to glorify God (right now with my writing), that’s when I feel alive.

And that when I think He is happiest.

Peace, love, and all that Jazz,

Sheree

Updates on FOLLY BEACH DANCES, our ‘healing’ coffee table book

Good morning everyone,

Pop on over to the FOLLY BEACH DANCES official book website at http://www.beachdances.com to see “What’s Happening’ with our’healing’ coffee table book.

While there, feel free to leave a comment, or follow us at Folly Beach Dances on facebook or twitter.

Here’s the link to the latest updates (and giveaways)

http://www.beachdances.com/uncategorized/a-folly-beach-dances-booksigning-giveaways-the-south-carolina-aquarium/

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Talks, booksignings, and festivals – Folly Beach and Charleston

Had a wonderful week of events promoting our coffee table book, Folly Beach Dances, beginning with a talk at the Hollings Cancer Care Center in Charleston on Tuesday, followed by a booksigning at the Folly Beach Library Wednesday, and another booksigning at the Preservation Society of Charleston Thursday. We finished out the week with at the Follypalooza Cancer benefit and festival on Saturday.

Wonderful people crossed our paths throughout the week.

At the library booksigning, a gentlemen named Kim purchased a book for his granddaughter Aviva.

“She’ll probably have to wait to receive it, until she can appreciate it.  I’m keeping it in a safe place for Aviva,” Kim said.

DSC_1664 Pres DoorAt the Preservation Society of Charleston, there was a constant stream of book buyers stopping at our table. The afternoon was amazing with many book sales. Event organizer and book buyer Sarah Jenkins event ordered more before we left.

At Follypalooza, a constant stream of passersby visited our booth.

“I already bought your book at the pier!” a woman said.

Another couple Art and Edie Graham gave suggestions for other venues to OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmarket Folly Beach Dances, and Katherine and Sam purchased four copies for their beach rentals.

A couple from Lake St. Louis showed up at our booth.  They lived mere minutes from us. What are the chances of that happening?

As we dropped off more books for the Preservation Society, we noticed Folly Beach Dances was front and center as you entered the store. Later that evening, we found our book displayed in the Folly Beach Pier store.

DSC_1660 FBG in Pres SocStopping at the Tides Hotel Starbucks to grab a cappucino, a young female barrista sported a tatoo on her upper left arm.

“What does that say?”

“There are no coincidences,” she smiled.

“There’s only God things.”

“You get it,” she said.