Author: Monna McDiarmid

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I find myself talking to Pinterest.
Out loud.

I saw a pin that said:
“You know you’re a writer when…
You have dozens of notebooks, some filled, some blank, but you can’t help buying more just in case.”

To which I responded:
“That doesn’t make you a writer.
Just a person who likes to buy notebooks.”

Two hundred yen


On Friday night we had dinner
at our little Italian place,
the restaurant where everyone knows us.

We saw some students
on a date
so we slid quickly into our booth
keeping a low teacher-profile.

Stealthy. Like spies.

In Japan, it is common
to pay at the front counter
even in lovely restaurants
so despite our sneakiness
we found ourselves
behind those students
in line to pay.

The boy reached for his wallet
and handed some bills to the cashier.
Then he patted his pockets.

“Oh no. He doesn’t have enough money.”

“How do you know?” said Damien.

“I just know.”

The cashier looked at the wall
while the boy turned his pockets
inside out and the girl
opened her wallet.

“Can we help?,” we asked.

On Monday the girl brought me
perfect plastic bag
with two 100 Yen coins.
Two dollars.

“Thank you so much.”

That girl is going to love me forever.

Mellifluous: Soundtrack of a Life


This article is part of a new series that I am calling (at least in my head) Creative Thriving Wednesdays. Hmmm… you are invited to share your ideas for a name for this series.

Last week, Thursday morning’s Grade 10 Wellness class popped up faster than I expected. That happens sometimes in school… and in life. The students and I have been working on decision making and an observation I’ve been making is that although educators (and parents) talk a great deal about the importance of reflection, we don’t necessarily teach it as a skill. We need to get better at that.

So I created a lesson plan that would genuinely be fun for the students but would also provide an opportunity for us to develop our reflection skills.

The assignment for the 90 minute period was to create a soundtrack of your life and to provide liner notes.

Part A: Soundtrack of your life
1. Create a soundtrack of your soundtrack in iTunes, Spotify, sound cloud or YouTube (or anywhere that you want) using your computer or phone
2. Choose 15 songs that:
* you love
* feature lyrics that are significant or meaningful to you
* describe your struggles and also what is really good in your life (such as friendships or relationships)
3. You must give your soundtrack a title
4. Please plan out the order in which you will place the songs

Part B: Liner Notes
Open a new document where you:
* list the name of each song along with the name of the band/performer
* explain (minimum of two sentences each) why you have chosen this song to be part of the soundtrack of your life. Why is this song important in the becoming of you. In order to explain this, you will need to go back and listen to the lyrics and think about their meaning. How do these words describe a situation you have been in, a love you have had or an obstacle that you have overcome. If, upon reflection, you discover that this is simply a cool song that does not describe your life, save it to another playlist. The songs on your soundtrack must tell part of your life story.

My Reflections
The students shared their soundtracks with me and I have learned so much about each of them from the songs and artists they chose. The boys in particular love a lot of the same music that I love, music that I listened to as a teenager… except for the rap. That’s where we part ways, musically speaking. Their liner notes are funny and tender and sad and all the things their lives have been thus far. And their lives thus far, as described in their liner notes, sound and feel exactly the same as my own unfolding life ~ even though I have been on the planet three times as long.

Our songs may not be the same but the stories behind the songs are so similar.

I’ve started my own soundtrack. According to my own set of instructions, I’ve given it a title: Mellifluous. Part of speech: adjective. Definition: (Of a sound) pleasingly smooth and musical to hear.

What song would definitely be on your soundtrack?

Like a rainbow


This bakery opened in 1888.
You know what’s been in the same place
for a century in Japan?
Mount Fuji
this bakery.

Generations of this family
have baked and sold bread here.
A friend who know about such things
says they don’t care about
how the bread looks but
they care about the taste.

It’s taken me
three and a half years
to visit.
That’s how it is when you live
in a place without language.
We’re like toddlers.
Life is surprising
and well outside
our control.

I look around. The women in aprons
gesture at the white plastic trays
and metal tongs.

I’m buying pastries for 20 kids.
They give me a second tray.

As I’m paying for the pastries
the young girl at the cash says,
“Your red hair is beautiful.”

Thank you.

“Yes. You look like a rainbow.”

What is the Geography of Now?

What is GON

Registration opened today for the Geography of Now.

This six-week eCourse begins on Monday 11th of May. There are 25 spaces available in the class.

In the end-of-course survey, I ask participants to define what this course is. The responses to this question have made me giddy with joy and, more importantly, I believe these insights may help you if you are thinking about taking the course.

The Geography of Now is…

“An amazing 6-week online course where you get an email Monday to Friday with a short discussion and an assignment to photograph things, write about them, think about them and become more aware of your surroundings.” ~ Mary Wallace

“The yoga of creativity.” ~ Cheri Rauser

“A safe and thorough exploration in gradual, thoughtful, do-able exercises to stretch and explore different themes in writing about self, other, present moment, photographs, beauty, aspiration and play. A very well organised, fun journey of self exploration and online community support. Hats off to Monna for her beautiful design, and effervescent vigilance with our March 2015 group. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience.” ~ Jenna McAsey

“The Geography of Now is a course in daily reflection and mindfulness. It helped me to look at my local area with new eyes – kinder and more adventurous.” ~ Anita Wadsworth

You can learn more about the course and register here.

I love this course; it’s the online class I’ve always wanted to take!


Not their job

not their job

Shall we now at long last
stop talking about
how girls and women look.

Shall we speak, instead,
of the awesome vastness
of their hearts and minds.

Shall we marvel at their skills,
at the way they see the world.

Shall we encourage them to harvest
the wildness of their dreams,
to explore the open skies
of their potential.

At our school, we told girls
it was not their job
to be pretty.

Not their job.