Sunday, January 30, 2011


Hallelujah for COURAGE! After completing just 2 weeks of teaching creative writing to my international class at the Language Institute at Georgia Tech, I am resurrecting the respect I have for the BRAVERY that it takes to SPEAK one’s HEART (see an early blog titled, I Speak Heart).

A loose theme for my course is “Identity and Sense of Place.” WHO ARE YOU?, I ask my students? Are you the same person in American culture and using English as you are in your culture and using your native language? Does the place where you live change who you are? Do you think differently when expressing your ideas in another language?

Right now, to develop my own ideas about “who I am”, I’m reading Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.  Brown proposes that COURAGE (see her blog), compassion, and connection are three basic components of “embracing who you are.”  She defines the word COURAGE, first by looking at its Latin roots: COR=HEARTCOURAGE, she explains, initially meant “speaking one’s mind by telling all of one’s HEART.” Less about being heroic!

Most of my class has demonstrated this COURAGE! They have pleased me with their willingness to EXPLORE their HEARTS using English. They have started their “public" blogs with imaginative names discovered while doing free writing exercises (Natalie Goldberg-style) in their “private” journals. Take a look at the glorious beginnings of some of these blogs: THE FOOTPRINT OF WATER, BUTTERFLYING TO INFINITY, BLUEBERRY CELLOPHANE, and THE WEALTHY GUARDIAN.

“You learn COURAGE, by COURAGING,” Brene Brown quotes theologian Mary Daly. How simple, and yet, how daunting! As an ESL teacher for 20 years, I have urged my students to learn to SPEAK English, by SPEAKING it, and subsequently observed their lack of COURAGE to do so! It is much easier to become grammar experts doing rote exercises and writing repetitive academic papers then to SAY SOMETHING MEANINGFUL in this “other” language!

In my creative writing class, I am asking my students to connect their heads—and HEARTS—to English by using it COURAGEOUSLY and imaginatively. To gain COURAGE, by COURAGING!

As a visual artist, I move forward in drawing and painting, by accessing my COURAGE. Yet, I have simplified the process. I start with the familiar. I open my hand to the ordinary in my life and psyche. I become ACTION in MOTION. I draw by drawing and paint by painting. Not good. Not bad. Just is.

The painting I am posting on my blog today borrows images primarily from two previous images (see 2011: Say Yes and 1st Anniversary of Coffee with Hallelujah). What shall I call it? Let me try on some possibilities:

Saying Yes to the Great Mystery
Welcoming Myself
Active Beautiful Mind
Hallelujah Couraging Everyday
Celebrating Companionship
Speaking Heart Today

PILGRIMS! We have endless opportunities to create! Each moment offers the sparkling and amazing chance to think a new thought, to speak in a different way, to draw something unique, to move your body in a refreshing way…! SOUL BLOG with Hallelujah what you are COURAGING today. SPEAK HEART across the INTERNET

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