The Marshall Fredericks Museum at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) is one of my favorite museums. Considering its size, it is jam packed. Over the years, I’ve visited the museum a handful of times, and I always leave inspired. There is so much to see, and frankly, it is impressive to see the results of such a long and varied career in sculpture. At one time, Grandma B. and I talked about the museum, and she said that she always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, she never took the opportunity. I can’t help but think of her every time I am there.
One of my favorite Marshall Fredericks sculptures is “The Man on the Cross,” which resides at the National Shrine of the Cross in the Woods in Indian River, Michigan. I’ve seen it in person (the full-size mold resides in the art gallery at SVSU, see below), and it is something that one needs to experience in person. I plan to go back at some point. It is gorgeous and moving.
As I left class today (I’m currently finishing my English endorsement at SVSU), I decided to head over the museum. It did not disappoint. Following is a quick overview of different sections of the museum.
The main gallery includes the original molds for many of Marshall Fredericks’ larger works, including “The Man on the Cross” (see photo below), interspersed with smaller models in various mediums. All are on permanent display and make up the core of the museum.
The museum has taken great care to replicate parts of Marshall Fredericks’ studio. It is impressive, and frankly, there is something about this part of the museum that fascinates me. You get to understand how he created such large sculptures and the work involved, including tools and studies. It actually inspired me to write a post on Scrivener and the idea of a writer’s studio, which can be found here.
The Sculpture Garden
It is just a beautiful outdoor space with all kinds of bronze sculptures inspired by Marshall Fredericks’ work. You can find other images of the sculpture garden here.
A visit to the museum is certainly worth it. In addition to the sections described above, there are also a couple of smaller galleries in the museum that hold rotating exhibitions. You can find more information on the museum’s website.
I’ve wanted to write about Across the Universe (2007) ever since I first watched it several months ago. It is one of those movies that grabs you, not letting you go. Just when you think you have it figured out, you start back at the beginning. I’m afraid I won’t do it justice.
Let’s start with the facts. First, it was a given that I would enjoy Across the Universe (2007) for the music and subject matter alone. A musical using new renditions of Beatles’ songs that encompasses many of the major themes of the 1960s? What isn’t there to like? Never mind the actual film. It was either going to be wonderful or something never to speak of again.
Next, the music itself is exceptional. When it comes to Beatles’ music, I am normally skeptical when it comes to covers (with the exception of Joe Cocker, of course). In this case, Evan Rachel Wood (Lucy), Jim Sturgess (Jude), and Dana Fuchs (Sadie) forced me to look at some of the Beatles catalog in a new way. Not an easy feat. There are several examples of this, but some of the ones that come to mind immediately are “It Won’t Be Long” (Evan Rachel Wood), “I’ve Just Seen A Face” (Jim Sturgess), and “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” (Dana Fuchs). That is just for starters. The use of “Let It Be” (Carol Woods & Timothy T. Mitchum) as a hymn fits the scene(s) perfectly.
My feelings on the song “Across the Universe” have evolved as result. While I’ve always liked “Across the Universe,” I would be hard pressed to even rank it among my top 25 or possibly 50 Beatles’ songs. No joke. The movie made me reevaluate. While I enjoy the movie version of “Across the Universe,” the cover by the band Evanescence is now one of favorite songs. It is haunting in the best possible way, not easily replicated.
Fortunately for us, the music is only the beginning. All the principals not only can act and sing, but dance as well. The choreography in Across the Universe (2007) is second to none and, along with superb costume and set design, make the movie. It enhances the music in a way that is unforgettable. The bowling scene that takes place during “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is so much fun and over the top. While the first part of the movie is just that – fun and over the top – the choreography and music work together to tell a much darker story as the movie progresses.
While I won’t give away the plot, it is the plot itself that keeps me guessing, keeps me coming back to the movie. When I finished watching Across the Universe (2007) for the first time, my first thought was:
What the heck just happened? What did I just watch?
Frankly, its plot, or lack thereof, is both its strength and weakness. While it isn’t as though it doesn’t have a plot at all, there are large swaths of the movie that leave you asking so many questions. Much can explained away by implied drug use. Now might be a good time to mention that Across the Universe (2007) earned every bit of its PG-13 rating. Personally, I believe it should be more in the R category considering the violence, implied drug use, and sexual references/implications.
Implied drug use can explain away much of the plot issues in the movie, but it doesn’t explain everything. For example, there are certain characters (namely Prudence, Sadie, and Jo-Jo) that I want to know more about. They are that interesting, considering what we know of them. However, I have yet to figure out the purpose of Prudence’s character. She seems to just show up.
While it is easy to see all of these things as “flaws” with the plot, I have to wonder if it wasn’t intentional. I’m not quite sure how the movie could have captured as much of the history of the ‘60s as it did without leaving so much to the viewer’s imagination. As a Beatles fan, that is what is so fun about this movie. There are so many references for fans. My personal favorite is the Brigitte Bardot poster. Supposedly all the Beatles had a huge crush on her. Then, there are the characters themselves. Jude, played by Jim Sturgess, looks an awful lot like a young Paul McCartney. His character is even from Liverpool. With some characters, it is obvious: Jo-Jo is somehow a stand-in for Jimi Hendrix. Others, it isn’t so clear. For example, I want to peg Sadie as Janis Joplin, and yet, it doesn’t feel quite right. In the end, the music, the choreography, the confusing plot, and the Easter eggs geared towards Beatles fans will keep me coming back. If you like the Beatles at all, it is a must-see. If I ever have the opportunity to see it on the big screen, I am there. I’m not sure how I missed Across the Universe (2007) when it was first released.
Why do I write? I write because I must write. I have a story within me that must be told. There may be other ways to tell that story, but writing fits me – and more importantly, it fits the story I need to tell. I’ve dabbled in many forms of writing over the years, everything from daily throw away articles to blogging to academic papers. I view it all as preparation for writing a larger story.
More than anything, writing allows me to organize all the seemingly random thoughts rambling around my head. I love reading what I wrote years ago as it normally takes me back to a certain time and place. It is a way for me to see just how much I’ve grown over the years, both personally and as a writer.
As a teacher, it saddens me when students tell me they hate to read and write. In my mind, my love of writing grew out of my love of reading. I loved to read as a child – and I still love to read. Reading and writing are so intertwined in my life that it is difficult for me to tell where one begins and the other ends. For example, something I plan to write will inspire me to read a certain book. Other times, a book I pick up because it looks good will inspire me to write. One of my all-time favorite books, Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose, sums up the symbiotic relationship perfectly. In fact, it changed how I read as a writer in every sense of those words. As long as I have books, paper, and pen, I will never be bored.
Writing, to me, also means a sense of community. I’ve taken writing classes at the local community college, spent years as a member of Mid-Michigan Writers, Inc., and attended workshops and seminars for writers. I have yet to meet one writer who didn’t have something to offer others, whether it be a new critique technique, a new source of writing prompts, or information on various programs for writers. As with teachers, writers are happy to share. We can all learn from one another.
The wonderful thing about writing is that it can be personal or shared, solitary or social, and organized or spontaneous. There is room for all types, and there is no one set of rules that apply to everyone. I love that young and old have access to reading and writing. Unlike many sports, there is no expiration date. There is no real barrier to entry other than basic literacy. I like to think that my writing will just get better with age, like a fine wine. It inspires me that many writers did not find their way until late in life. Above all, there is no stopping a great story.
Let’s face it: Good storytelling isn’t going anywhere, whether that means books, movies, television, or something else entirely. As long as there is hunger for a good story, there will be writers. I am proud to be a part of that tradition.
I admit that I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I love writing and it brings me a lot of joy. At the same time, I hate it when I get so busy with other things in my life that I let writing go by the wayside. It isn’t that I don’t have time. I don’t make the necessary time. That must change. Not a month from now, not a week from now, but today. As I now have nothing but time, maybe I need to work it into my schedule in a way that is sustainable when the world rights itself again.
It’s strange. Growing up, I always wanted to live through historic events. I loved history and wanted to be a part of it. What I didn’t realize when I was younger is that we all live through history. The reasons I love genealogy and history so much are the countless stories of ordinaries peoples’ lives during extraordinary circumstances. If that doesn’t describe these times, nothing will. If nothing else, I hope those of us who love to write, whether for an audience or just ourselves, take this opportunity to detail our lives in this moment.
I can’t wait for the day when I argue with my mom whether the corona virus epidemic hit in 2020 or 2021. We will get through this, and I can’t wait for the party when we do! I do hope it brings us together and closer to God. I also hope that our society somehow learns patience. We need to slow down and appreciate what we do have. Every one of us.
In Mari L. McCarthy’s latest book Heal Yourself with Journaling Power, she outlines the many personal benefits of starting or continuing to journal. Heal Yourself with Journaling Power offers writers and non-writers a concise overview of how journaling can be used to help resolve all kinds of personal issues through daily journaling. The book itself serves as a roadmap and call to action for anyone desiring change or left wanting more out of life. I expect nothing less from the author/creator behind CreateWriteNow.
Mari begins by describing the true power behind journaling: daily habit. It did not surprise me that she begins by mentioning morning pages. The same concept fuels one of my favorite websites: 750words. Deceptively simple, the humble act of writing daily drives later change. Once journaling becomes a daily habit, the real work begins. However, all true healing through journaling hinges on writing consistently.
In the book, Mari provides readers with an outline on how to use this power to heal their own lives. She includes different aspects of her personal story and anecdotes of others who have had similar experiences to drive her points home. In addition, she provides readers with journal prompts in each chapter. As a result, it can easily be viewed as a textbook by anyone wanting to use journaling to fundamentally change his or her life. Part memoir, part writing manual, and part self-help book, I would recommend Heal Yourself with Journaling Power to anyone remotely interested in self-improvement, journaling, or writing generally.
In fact, a few simple tools will put anyone on the path to healing through journaling. Personally, I would recommend using 750words or another online journal to get started journaling daily. Add in the community and resources over at CreateWriteNow along with a copy of Heal Yourself with Journaling Power to keep motivated and moving forward. I don’t see the need for much else when it comes to journaling, although different prompts are always fun and often provide insight that moves the process along.
As a writer, I found myself largely agreeing with Mari throughout the book. While I haven’t experienced some of the more dramatic physical changes she attributes to journaling, I have journaled consistently enough during various stages of my life to attest to its power. I particularly agree with Mari that journaling provides a clarity that is difficult to find anywhere else. The clarity that comes from journaling consistently can help writers overcome a myriad of obstacles that may be in their way, no matter what they might be.
While I would recommend Heal Yourself with Journaling Power to any writer, non-writers may benefit from it message to a greater degree. The techniques outlined in the book can be used by anyone to help identify roadblocks and move forward on any goal, dream, or ambition. Using the journaling process to help organize one’s thoughts and formulate a plan of action may not be obvious to non-writers. The power of journaling needs to be experienced to fully understand just how lifechanging it can be.
Stay tuned! Next week I will be interviewing Mari L. McCarthy.
About the Author, Mari L. McCarthy
Mari L. McCarthy is the Self-Transformation Guide and Founder/Chief Inspiration Officer of CreateWriteNow.com. She is also author of the international-bestselling, award-winning book Journaling Power: How to Create the Happy, Healthy Life You Want to Live.
Mari began journaling to relieve the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) over 20 years ago. Through journaling, Mari was able to ditch her prescription drugs and mitigate most of her MS symptoms. Now she teaches people throughout the world how to heal, grow, and transform their lives through the holistic power of therapeutic journaling.
She lives in a gorgeous beachfront home in Boston, where she has the freedom, flexibility, and physical ability to indulge in all her passions, which include singing and recording her own albums.
I am a firm believer that everyone should have a creative outlet. It may take some time to find what works for you, but it is so worth it in the end. I discovered writing as my creative outlet at an early age, but then life got in the way, as it always does. I hope this time I can make time for what matters.
As I have spent the last several weeks as a substitute teacher in a 4th grade classroom, I’ve enjoyed seeing just how passionate kids are about their hobbies. I have budding writers, musicians, artists, and athletes in the classroom, not to mention scientists. We had the best discussions about the US space shuttle program, astronauts, and basic animal genetics. They are not afraid to ask great questions. After a science lesson on the effects of long-term exposure to zero gravity on astronauts, one student asked me why we never returned to the moon after the 1969 moon landing. A quick Google search later, we had our answers, which included the facts that politics largely got in the way and that NASA recently announced possible commercialization of space travel, including a possible return to the moon. See article here.
I am left with just one question: What do we do as educators between 4th grade and senior year of high school to suck the creativity out of students? I like to believe things are changing for the better, but I still see way too much “busy,” mindless work being assigned, especially in middle school. STEM programs are on the right track, but I do believe they need to include art, or STEAM, as well. Still, that doesn’t cut it for everyone. What about students who have no idea how to stick with something long enough to enjoy it? How do we recognize and deal with the fact that many students are resistant to the idea that failure can help us learn and grow? We inadvertently teach students that failure is to be avoided at all cost. For better or worse, it is ingrained in our culture. High stakes standardized testing anyone? We need to teach students how to fail effectively: how to move on and learn from our mistakes. They need to know on a gut level that failure is inevitable. We are meant to learn from it.
I am deeply grateful that I found a creative outlet that works for me. I adored art classes as a child, but I have no ability to draw animals or people. I am no painter either. One of my greatest wishes is to have some musical ability. Sadly, as much as I love music, I have none. In searching for my creative outlet, I overlooked the obvious: I am meant to be a writer. Unfortunately, as a child, I always wanted to be more instead of embracing what I love and can reasonably do without embarrassing myself. In fact, that is one of my greatest wishes for any of my students past, present, or future: Find a creative outlet that makes you happy through good times and bad.
It is no secret that I am my own worst enemy at times. OK, most of the time. Lately, I’ve been spending time thinking of ways to write more efficiently and better organize my work. I keep coming back to Scrivener. I took the time to learn it a few years ago, and I loved it. The issue became I didn’t keep using it. I’m not exactly sure why I quit, but I did. Well, I am getting back into the habit again. It offers a variety of ways to organize all of my work.
In a recent post, I stated that Scrivener is the closest thing writers have to a digital studio. I firmly believe this. It is so versatile it can accommodate any form of writing and any organizational method. You get to create templates and forms to use for the type of writing you do most. There are preset options that include fiction and non-fiction, as well as a handful of specialty options. It may take me some time, but I am going to relearn Scrivener and start using it on a daily basis again. I owe it to myself. It makes back-end organization that much easier.
Is it worth the initial investment of time and money? For me, the answer is unequivocally yes. I took the time to go through the extensive in-program tutorial: a definite must if you want to make the learning curve a little shorter. Besides, there is humor built in. If you choose not to go through the tutorial, you may miss out on a lot of great features. In fact, I believe that is how people become overwhelmed. Scrivener is truly built for writers by writers. That means that it allows you to slice, dice, organize, and label all materials to your hearts content. Just remember that as a writer, no one is forcing you to use all the features at once. Out of all the writing software I’ve come across over the years, Scrivener continues to stand out. I see no need for anything else.
Then again, there are a lot of fun online platforms out there. At least that is one thing we have going for us as writers: our tools. I love the fact that there are so many great writing tools out there for little or even no cost. In fact, there are so many that it takes time to figure out what works best for the way you work. Only now, after years of trial and error, am I beginning to find a process that works best for me. Hopefully, it will get me where I need to go. It is worth it to take the time to figure out how you work best as a writer. There may be several stops and starts, but each time, it becomes easier than the last. Eventually, your process starts to emerge. No matter what your process may be – or your genre – there is a place for Scrivener.
Over the last several weeks and months, I have finally recognized how important writing and reading is to my quality of life and my sheer happiness. No joke. If I have a writing project, I am happy. As a student, I loved writing assignments. Even if I didn’t love the subject, the book, or whatever it may be, I could always count on myself to do well.
Some of my earliest and best memories of elementary school are of creating “stories.” As I learned to write, my “stories” became less picture/drawing based and included more writing. I love the fact that writing plays such a prominent role in my earliest educational memories. By the way, I still can’t draw.
What I’ve come to realize over the last week or so is that I didn’t value my early writing much. When I say early writing, I am not talking about childhood or even adolescent writing. Those journals are safely tucked away never to see the light of day. No, I am talking about the writing I did from 2005-2012. During that time frame, I published dozens of throw-away articles for a now-defunct website called Associated Content. As a writer for Associated Content, I wrote articles on all kinds of topics – reviews, how-to, and more – for a small upfront payment and then residuals. Page views mattered! After a couple of years, the site sold out to Yahoo!, which eventually shut it down. Even though I had ample warning and could have saved my hundreds of articles, I didn’t. I didn’t care enough. The content just didn’t interest me enough.
While I don’t regret not putting in the time and effort to save my work with Associated Content, I do regret not saving my JamsBio work. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much notice. JamsBio, a now defunct online magazine, paid writers to discuss their memories as it related to music. I only wrote ten blog posts, but it was the most fun I ever had “working.” Even though I wish I had those articles, the ideas planted by writing those pieces live on. I will eventually write something similar here.
The reason why all of this came to mind lately is due to different projects I am currently working on. I just wrote my first piece for the Macbeth Post and had my first podcast published on Spartans Helping Spartans. In fact, I am in the middle of writing a series of posts on study abroad for Spartans Helping Spartans as we speak. All wonderful stuff that I will share here.
That’s just it. I need to share some of my other work here. There is an infamous piece I wrote on the Witchy Wolves of the Omer Plains for Michigan’s Otherside. It is probably the earliest writing I did online or close to it. I’ve toyed with the idea of a rewrite, but people keep finding it and sharing on Facebook. Then there are a handful of articles I’ve written for the Huron Shores Genealogical Society Genogram. I’ve long meant to share them here permanently. I just haven’t taken the time to do it yet.
As writers, we need to take care of our work and not let it become lost to time. I wish were better at taking care of my own work. On a fun note, I came across an old online journal dating back to 2003. Interesting doesn’t begin to describe it. It brought back memories long since forgotten. It is time for me to take better care of my own work.
It is no secret that Winston Churchill is one of my favorite historical figures (although one among many). As quotes are a big part of the curriculum where I will be teaching, I decided to start off the school year with this quote. I love it. Students may not fully appreciate it until they are older, but man, is it ever true. There is always the opportunity to start over and to make tomorrow better than today.
This is precisely why I love Churchill. He refused to give up in the worst of circumstances. Period. I want to build upon that idea all year long. In fact, my Spanish classes will definitely be studying Frida Kahlo. She had that same tenacity. In fact, I wish that I could show the movie Frida (one of my favorites). Unfortunately, that isn’t a possibility. Hopefully, sharing some of her artwork and quotes will inspire them anyway.
It is by studying those who came before us and accomplished great things that we can truly become inspired. This is why I love memoir, biographies, and autobiographies. So many times I am left wondering how people persevered in the face of what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles. There is always a way.
Sometimes distinct areas of my life overlap. This is one of those times. Who knew I’d find inspiration for my blog in the required reading for one of my education classes? I love when things like this happen. When I first read this article, I immediately saw the potential for a series of blogposts, each one exploring an essential question, of course.
For those who don’t know, I am currently working on completing a teacher certification program that will allow me to teach Spanish and social studies at the secondary level (grades 6-12). Add in my interest in all things relating to language, and it isn’t surprising that I will be focusing on the essential questions in those subject areas: world languages, history and social studies, along with language arts. I may add in a few from art as well. Here are a few questions that left me inspired to write. Please keep in mind that I did not come up with these questions as they are taken verbatim from the article above. I’m not exactly sure how I will use these questions here on my blog, but they are worth noting.
Essential Questions in History and Social Studies
Whose “story” is this?
How can we know what really happened in the past?
How should governments balance the rights of individuals with the common good?
Should _______ (e.g., immigration, media expression) be restricted or regulated? When? Who decides?
Why do people move?
What is worth fighting for?
Essential Questions in Language Arts
What do good readers do, especially when they don’t comprehend a text?
How does what I am reading influence how I should read it?
Why am I writing? For whom?
How do effective writers hook and hold their readers?
What is the relationship between fiction and truth?
How are stories from other places and times about me?
Essential Questions in World Languages
What should I do in my head when trying to learn a language?
How can I express myself when I don’t know all the words (of a target language)?
What am I afraid of in hesitating to speak this language? How can I overcome my hesitancy?
How do native speakers differ, if at all, from fluent foreigners? How can I sound more like a native speaker?
How much cultural understanding is required to become competent in using a language?
How can I explore and describe cultures without stereotyping them?
Essential Questions in the Arts
What can artworks tell us about a culture or society?
What influences creative expression?
To what extent do artists have a responsibility to their audiences?
Do audiences have any responsibility to artists?
What’s the difference between a thoughtful and a thoughtless critique?
If practice makes perfect, what makes perfect practice?
Meta and Reflective Questions
What do I know and what do I need to know?
Where should I start? When should I change course? How will I know when I am done?
What’s working? What’s not? What adjustments should I make?
Is there a more efficient way to do this? Is there a more effective way to do this? How should I balance efficiency and effectiveness?