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A reverence for words – Teaching Kathy to Read

 I will love the light
for it shows me the way,
yet I will endure the darkness
for it shows me the stars.
~ Og Mandino



     I think I have a pagan spirit in my soul. Must be, for that would explain my absolute need to make an offering to the gods of art whenever I feel grateful for personal gifts.

     During my years as a professional dancer, I worked with handicapped students, orchestrated scholarships for foster children and gave dance lectures to schoolchildren, all in effort to “give back” to the art I loved. I felt I owed something to the consuming, fleeting art form that filled my world with so much happiness. As my career progressed, I began to associate my good fortune and long-term satisfaction with the artistic karma I developed because of my charitable artistic activities. Like a woman from a primitive culture, I didn’t factor in science (such as study or hard work) to the equation. I attributed my luck to the Gods’ of dance satisfaction with my performance, and by that, I mean my performance beyond” stage performance”. 

    When I retired from dance, I became a fledgling writer in an MFA program, and I found myself compelled to do something for literature in the same spirit. Dwelling in the literary world and focusing all my energies towards skill building seemed self-serving, so I called the Georgia Literacy Commission and volunteered to tutor an illiterate adult. Helping someone learn to read would be my offering to the Gods of literature and in return, I prayed they would bestow writing wisdom upon me.  

    It took six months until I was finally assigned a student. Apparently, learning to read is a daunting process. As such, few people step forward to tackle the handicap. Kathy Smith was one of those rare individuals determined to change her intellectual status and so, she became my partner in the journey to master words.

   The director of the literacy program gave Kathy an assessment to define the foundation level of her past education. Kathy recognized all of the letters in the alphabet and could sound out most of them with the exception of a few vowels. She didn’t recognize any actual words at all; not even a simple “it”, “me” or “cat”. I should have been intimidated by that reality, I suppose, but instead, it made the concept of future success all that much grander.  I, and I alone, would be accountable for Kathy Smith’s ability to read books. I found the concept romantic for it suited my idealistic reverence for literature.

      Kathy attended school through 9th grade, placed in remedial classes. She said she had a very kind teacher, but considering she made it through middle school without learning to read a single word, I would beg to disagree. I’ve always believed teaching is a responsibility, so I’d say kindness wasn’t served when Kathy was passed from level to level without basic life skills. Knowing her today, I can say with certainty that her self-esteem hadn’t been preserved by this “kindness”.

      I arranged to meet my new student at the college so we could get to know each other and assess whether or not we are compatible. It was as if we were blind dates meeting for a quick cup of coffee before daring to commit to dinner, but since I was as starved for a student as Kathy was for knowledge, the meeting was just a formality. 

    My sister in law said, “Why must you both meet at the college?”

     “I guess in case she is the dreaded serial literacy murderer,” I kidded.

     My sister in law grinned and said, “Or in case you are. Perhaps you are a fiend trying to wipe out illiteracy . . .  literally.” 

     We laughed at this, jovial about my impending project. I may not be a serial killer, but I was definitely out to snuff out one case of illiteracy and, not unlike Son of Sam, I was hearing voices in my head compelling me to act. A rallied cheer from the literary Gods calling me to bring one more believer to the alter of books, roared in my head.

        Filled with righteous determination for the task, I went to meet Kathy. She awaited me in the lobby of the Tocca Appalachian College office. Silently. She was positioned primly, sitting forward on the plush couch as if she didn’t want to dent the cushions. I could tell she was relieved to see me, but my arrival still didn’t make her any more comfortable.

     I  said, “You must be Kathy. Hi. I’m Ginny.”

     She nodded, pushing over as if I needed more than three fourths of the couch to settle upon. Perhaps she was afraid we might touch.

     She was wearing jeans. So was I. There was mud on the bottom of my pants leg because it was pouring outside and I’d just fed my horses. I’d planned to do this after the meeting, but I am guilty of forever trying to squeeze more into a day than is practical, so I decided to knock off the drudging task in the spare moments of the morning. As luck would have it, regardless of my attempts to stay clean, my horses and the pet goat didn’t care about preserving my studious image for the meeting.

    When I greeted Kathy, I gestured to my filthy boots and explained my upheavaled state. This gave us something casual to talk about; how real life often thwarts our intentions to make a good impression.  I explained that I wanted to arrive looking pulled together, but that my goat seemed hell bent on showing everyone the real me. She laughed shyly. I think my muddy jeans introduced me as someone who doesn’t mind getting messy. In retrospect, it was a perfect lead into our new relationship.  

     Kathy has long, silky, blonde hair. It was pulled neatly up into a perfect ponytail. She was wearing well-applied, understated make-up; all those pink tones that are so lovely on blondes. She wore a nice pair of jeans and a stylish top. It was obvious she made an effort to look nice for the meeting.

     She is 39. I am 46. Looking at her, sitting so properly on the leather couch, I couldn’t help but be surprised, because I looked far younger than she. She has pretty, hazel eyes and the kind of delicate bone structure I’ve always envied. But Kathy only has three front teeth on the upper bridge of her mouth, (none on the lower) and they don’t look as if they will hold up much longer.

    I sat there, trying not to stare at those rotting stumps, thinking of all the toothless country people jokes I’d heard over the years. I thought of comedians blacking out their teeth in skits on television shows and how I laughed like everyone else at this silly portrayal of “hicks from the sticks”. However, sitting across from this beautiful woman, who despite all the good aspects, looked older than she should because her cheeks were sinking and her lips were curling inward ever so slightly, wasn’t funny at all. My mind wandered. I couldn’t stay with the concept of teaching her to read. I was thinking, “How can I get this woman dental work too?”

    The romance of teaching someone to read slipped away as I faced the reality of a person so disadvantaged that, what I considered basic hygiene, was obviously beyond her resources. It was at that very moment I realized I would never be introducing Kathy to literature as I knew it. I wouldn’t be tweaking her mind with grand philosophical classics, or even exposing her to the kind of exciting commercial novels I sometimes read for fun. I would be lucky if I could just help her to function in the world with a modicum of competency.

     Where does one begin when it is obvious there is there is an overabundance of need? Since my expectations were obviously unrealistic, I decided to uncover Kathy’s expectations. With hope, they would be within the realm of possibility.

     I asked Kathy what her goals were. She explained that she has a son with A.D.D. and hoped someday she could help him with his homework. I knew there was probably more to her decision to tackle literacy than that, but she seemed to have “practiced” this response, so I decided not to push. Time would reveal more.

      I asked how she thought her life might change if she learned to read. She said she was tired of being dependent on others. She just wanted to be able to do for herself. She explained how stupid she feels when she goes into the grocery store and needs to ask for help just to find a can of something specific. She tries to look at the pictures to define what the products are, but often, that leads to purchasing the wrong item.  She shared other examples of how hard it is to function in the world as a non-reader.

     I listened, nodding as if I understood, but I couldn’t put myself in her place anymore than I could relate to life as a linebacker from the Green Bay Packers. I know nothing about football. I know it exists, but to me, it is really little more than a distant activity that flashes by my eyes when I am changing the channel on a weekend afternoon.  

     Wondering how she would get to the lessons, I asked Kathy if she had a driver’s license. She said, “Yes”, explaining that she passed the test, because there is a law that states the tester must read the questionnaire to those who can’t read it themselves. She gave answers orally and, thanks to the fact that she studied the rules with her husband, the  written part was easy. Unfortunately, she failed the sign test three times. While she memorized the shape and color of the signs, she couldn’t seem to remember the symbols (words) on top. The third time she took the test, she guessed well, because she got lucky and passed.

     I thought of my usual driving routes. There must be signs along the way, but apparently, I read them without being consciously aware I do so. If someone stole out in the night and exchanged the words like “stop” or “slippery when wet” on those signs, would I even notice?

     Not yesterday, but I would notice now.

     “Can your husband read?” I asked.

     “Only enough to get by. Not as well as he would like to,” Kathy said.  Her husband drains septic tanks for a living. He comes home exhausted at the end of the day, then he has to pay all the bills because she can’t help with those kinds of things. She doesn’t work, because he prefers she stay at home to take care of their son. It is not as if she has many fulfilling options for employment. Kathy wants to contribute more.

    When she spoke of her husband, it was with true tenderness. She talked about how worried she gets when he has to go into the septic tanks to clean them out. She bought him some masks at the dollar store, but he rarely wears them. Nevertheless, she thinks he has a good job. Great money. Ten dollars and hour. Recently, they discovered the other men working at the company get 15.00; nevertheless, they wouldn’t dare ask for a raise.

      She leaned forward and whispered, “He doesn’t have other skills to rely on if the company ever chooses to let him go”, as if it were a secret only she and I should know.

     I listened. Silently. Praying the Literary Gods would give me strength to contain my personal opinions and stick to the task at hand. I could do so only because I believed teaching Kathy to read would no doubt affect many elements of her life, like one pebble causing an avalanche. After the initial fallout, the landscape would settle again, but it would be dramatically altered; nature’s way of bringing things into correct balance.

    I told her a little about myself, primarily that I didn’t go to college until I was 35 because I chose a dance career when I graduated from high school. I told her I always felt stupid because I was raised in a sort of tunnel vision way, only caring or thinking about dance while my siblings and friends were learning more traditional things. For years, I thought I’d missed my opportunity to learn, so I gave up my secret wish to get a college education. But later, as dance started fading from my body with age, I decided to tackle school, (and my own feelings of incompetence) and I found out I was really smart. “I am even in graduate school now,” I boasted, while it never occurred to me that she probably didn’t even know what an MFA was. My story was a dramatic exaggeration of the facts, but it served to make, what I considered, an important point.  We can all learn at any age if we dare to try  . . . and if we face down our own mental roadblocks.

    I told Kathy that reading is really easy, but it might not be easy for her, because, just like me, she has 36 years of feeling it is beyond her grasp muddying the situation. I explained that older people approach new things with lots of baggage from the past and this interferes with how they perceive themselves, so it is important we both approach our lessons together as something new. We would have to work together to get past all the concerns and frustrations she is no doubt carrying inside, and once we do, reading really will become easy.

     My inspirational speech opened her up. She confessed that she has wanted to read for long, long time, even tried a tutor once before, but the teacher up and quit after two months. Kathy figured if the teacher didn’t care, maybe it was because she wasn’t worth the effort.

    I stared directly into her eyes and said, “I won’t quit.”     

    She sat up straighter in her seat. “Then, neither will I.”

    I told her I was available anytime, and we agreed mornings would be best. I proposed two times a week at 11:00 because it happened to be just when I would be coming back from working out. The convenience made it a practical choice, for I confess, I didn’t want my volunteering to become a dreaded chore that interrupts my day. (What can I say, it may not be noble, but it’s a fact that the more convenient it is, the less I might resent volunteering when I feel a time crunch) Kathy said she would be willing to work as often as I would. I felt badly by my own limitations, but I didn’t want to promise more time right away, due to school, family and my other special interests.

       Then, she shifted a bit in her seat. “I will meet you anytime, except when I am busy doing community service”, she said softly.

     I assumed, like me, she volunteered for a cause she believed in. We live in the Bible belt, so it occurred to me that, like many of the people in the area, her volunteer efforts might be connected with church.  I told her how wonderful it was that she was involved with community service.

     Sheepishly, she explained that three years ago she started hanging out with a “bad crowd of people” and got into trouble. She has to volunteer 100 service hours and report them to her parole officer. Whatever happened with that crowd (and I didn’t ask) caused her to lose her son for one month. She described it as the worst month of her life. Once caught, she was given the option to go back to school or do community service, and since she couldn’t read, school wasn’t an option. She’d been very depressed ever since. Now she had decided to do something about her life. And she wanted me to know the truth, before I found out later and disliked her for it. And quit.

     Ah. There it was. Her motivation for change. I congratulated the Literary Gods for sending trouble her way, all a part of the great scheme to bring Kathy to the alter of reading. Even though now I saw the alter not as a glistening beacon to unveil a higher intellect, but more like a small stump she might stand on to read the names of products on a top shelf.

    I assured Kathy that her legal trouble didn’t make a difference to me. We parted with a promise to begin in four days.

     Home, I told my husband about Kathy and all I had learned about her. I told him I thought it was awful that someone would volunteer to be a tutor and then quit, leaving the poor non-reader worse off than when they started.

     My husband said, “But I can see how it happens. After all, this is at least a year commitment or more, don’t you think?”

     I wrinkled my brow. My God, he is right. I thought. What am I thinking?  I never considered of the length of the commitment. I’d been more focused on what I wanted to do to help in the moment. The idea that the endeavor didn’t have a distinct end in sight was suddenly disturbing. I wasn’t so foolish to think the novelty wouldn’t wear off eventually, and teaching anyone with absolutely no prior foundation would undoubtedly demand a long, tedious haul up a mountain of words.  Was I up for that?

    In my mind I replayed the meeting with Kathy and knew the answer. I wouldn’t quit. Ever. There was a name and a face on my cause now. I no longer want to help with literacy. I want to help Kathy with literacy. There is a huge difference.

     I spent the weekend preparing. I studied a book on the different techniques used to teach reading, phonetics and such, and pondered what the most inspirational way to convey the information might be. I read about how the human mind processes words, and how reading is learning to connect sounds and associate meaning to them.

       I would begin by teaching Kathy a few “instant” words, these are words that a person must learn to recognize, rather than sound out. Apparently, 65% of all written literature is composed of 300 “instant” words. This means, if a person can read only these 300 words, they can still get by pretty well. After that, reading is a matter of vocabulary building. There are 600 important instant words that must be learned first and foremost. I made flash cards of the first ones on the list for the preliminary lesson. We would begin with the following:

and, a, to, in, is, you, that, the and it

    The words seem so easy, although I imagined memorizing random words would be hard without subject matter to string them together. So, I wrote Kathy a story, trying to use many of the above instant words. Her homework would be to circle all the instant words in the paragraph to help her recognize them on site.  As a writer, I was thrilled with the idea of creating my own , original stories for my student, even though I would have to keep it simple. I wrote:


“Kathy wants to learn to read. Reading is not hard, but when you first begin, it feels as if you are facing a big, steep mountain that you cannot imagine climbing. But, if you take it one step at a time, and keep your eyes on the top, you make progress and before you know it, you are up there in the sky, enjoying the amazing view. Sometimes, Kathy will not be in the mood to work at reading. Sometimes she will be in the mood and will enjoy the work. She must keep at it when it feels good or when it feels bad, because the top of the mountain is a very wonderful place to be. Once Kathy can read, she will be able to see far and wide and climbing up all the ledges of words and sentences and paragraphs will have been very worthwhile.” 


     I knew Kathy wouldn’t be able to read all the words in the paragraph, but that wasn’t important at this early stage. I would read the story to her, then let her take it home to work on. I also had my flash cards. I planned to string them together to make simple sentences. Soon, I was hoping we would get to three letter words and phonograms (taking a sound like “ell” and adding constantans to make words, like bell, cell, fell, sell, tell.) I was told she still didn’t recognize the letter x, so I devilishly planned to throw in words like “sex” just to make her laugh – I was determined to keep my lessons interesting with respect to her adult status.

     Next, I designed an “interest inventory”, a questionnaire designed to determine the things she was curious about. This would guide me to pick material she would be inspired to read. For example, if she liked cooking (or wanted to learn to cook) I could bring in recipes. If she liked movies, I could bring in trashy magazines about the stars (I have no shame regarding conquering her handicap.) I’d ask her where she would go if she could travel anywhere in the world, and then bring in an article about that place. All this, I believed, would give me fodder for fun little stories I would write for her too.

     As Monday drew near, I was anxious, but mostly, excited. I arrived at the college, early, my head swimming with enthusiastic ideas, my backpack filled with handmade flashcards and original handouts. I sat on the reception couch, confident, filled with no small amount of self congratulatory pride regarding my preparation and generosity of spirit.

     The clock ticked away, first for seconds, then for minutes, and eventually an hour had past.

    Kathy didn’t show up. 

    I went home, disappointed. I confess, I was disappointed for me, but as I looked at street signs and billboards passing by, and thought of how they were nothing but gibberish to Kathy, I was mostly disappointed for her. Not that the ability to read a billboard enhances a person’s world, but suddenly, I was vividly aware of the overwhelming amount of information surrounding her that was all beyond her reach.

    I felt her loss. I cried until the billboards were nothing but a blur, and I imaged the writing Gods crying with me.

    When I got home, there was a garbled message on my machine from Kathy with an excuse as to why she didn’t make our appointment. She called two hours after our proposed lesson. She said she’s see me next Wednesday. I stared at the phone, not happy as I might have been. I was suddenly leery of devoting further time to someone who sadly, was proving less committed to enriching her life than I. Yet, even though I was aggravated, I knew I would show up. I once read that success begins with showing up, and even if Kathy didn’t know it, I certainly did. In my typical, obnoxious idealism, I vowed to find that quote and put it on a flashcard, adding it to my ever growing list of reading assignments for her.

      When I pulled up to the college Wednesday, Kathy was leaning against her truck, smoking. She flashed a happy smile and called out a confident, “I’m here!”

      “So am I,” I called back.

     I was overjoyed to see her looking so relaxed and enthusiastic. Mostly, I was just thrilled that she was present. I gathered my teaching materials and sauntered her way, thinking she certainly didn’t look worried about whether or not I was going to show up. But, when I approached, I noticed her cigarette trembling. She was nervous.

     We went inside, found a conference room and settled in, then exchanged small talk for a bit. Eventually, it was time to start.

      I began by talking about the big picture in regards to what we were tackling. I shared what I learned in my research, explaining that people learn to read by a combination of phonetics, sight recognition and association. I outlined the kinds of exercises we would be doing and why. I told her that the fact that she went to school for ten years and never learned to read alarmed me, because obviously, something went wrong. “I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes”, I told her.

      “They just kept passing me,” she said.

       I told her that was sad, and if anything, it signified a problem with her teachers, not with her.

       She blinked as if that concept didn’t make sense. “How is that so?”

      I told her a person can go through the motions of teaching, but if they aren’t really reaching their audience, the lessons are pointless. I explained that a teacher can teach at a person or to a person, and one approach is very different from the other. Because of that, I explained our lessons had to be interactive. She had to talk to me and let me know when she was confused or frustrated.

      Then, I told her we would be taking tests, but we would not be testing her. We would be testing me.

       She looked uncomfortable. “You don’t need a test. You already know how to read.”

      “Yes, but we will be testing whether on not I can teach.”

       I told her that if she answered questions incorrectly, it would be a sign that I did not convey the material in a strong enough way. I would need to find another method to get through to her. I then explained that some people learn things better when they see them (visually) and others when they hear them (auditory) and that I would have to try many different ways to explain things until I learned just how to anchor the material best in her mind. I assured her we would not move forward until she was confident with the previously introduced material.

      I warned her, “I will keep coming at you from a new angle for long as it takes to make the information stick. Hate to tell you, but I won’t be passing you just for showing up.”

     She was sincerely glad to hear it.

    Kathy couldn’t read, but we were on the same page.

    We talked about her interests. She didn’t have many, a sign of how this disability holds one back, but she did express an interest in doing crafts. I was wearing a necklace I’d made myself, and we talked about how I went about designing it. Discovering things in common felt good.

    I asked her if she cooked.

    She said, “Yes”, so I asked her what she considered her best meal.   

    “Hamburger Helper,” she answered.

      I was surprised. “How do you know how to make it?”  

      “I look at the picture on the box and just guess.”

      I imagined having to be content with easy, quick fixings that might end up watery or “off” because all you had to go by was a photo on a box. I happen to be a veracious cook, so this information offended my gourmet sensibilities. Not being able to read meant a woman couldn’t cook either? Would the limits of this handicap never cease?

    I told her that in a few weeks she would have cooking homework too. I would bring her a recipe and all the fixings for something I think her family would like. She will have to read the recipe, make the item and bring some to me the next day for us to snack on during our lesson.

    She giggled shyly and looked at me from the corners of her eyes. “You’re kidding.”

     I wasn’t.

     We began with the first twelve instant words. She recognized about seven of them. She stumbled on the word “the” at first, then suddenly grinned and announced what it was. I asked her how she recognized it and she said, “The” starts so many sentences. I just sort of know it because I see it so much”.

    Good! I thought. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be as hard as I imagined.

     She could recognize “A”, “and”, “to”, “it”, “is”, “the”, and “or”. She could not get “that”, “this” or “they”.

    I said, “Obviously you are a person who has issues with “this and that” (it was a pun) which, luckily, she found amusing.

    I would plunk down my flashcards and say, “What is “THAT” word.

     She would shake her head.

     I would say, “Then, what is “THIS” word. And she would shake her head again.

     I lifted my eyebrows in a comical way until she abruptly grinned and said, “I’m dumb. You told me what the words were as you set them down, didn’t you?”

    “Not dumb, Kathy. Never dumb. You just need to get used to my twisted sense of humor.”

     “I’ll pay closer attention,” she said.

      Which thrilled me. That was, after all, the goal.             

     We polished off the first twelve flash cards, then added twelve more. She learned more than I had hoped for in that hour. She faltered a lot, concentrating hard, but she seemed determined to make progress. And watching her wrinkled brow, the way her lips moved silently as she stared at the words – it all made me want to cry. I was jovial and light humored on the surface, but inside, I was dying for her.

     I gave her one of my romance writing promotional flyers so she could show her son who her teacher was. I read the blurbs about my (as yet unpublished) books and said, “We won’t stop until you can read them”.

    She smiled shyly and said, “I hope so, I love romance.”

    I couldn’t help but think, We are a good match!

    After working with flashcards, I read her my short “Kathy” story. I said, “I know it is corny, but heck, that is why I am a romance writer after all.

    She got tears in her eyes. “Thank you. I really liked it.” It was a simple statement, but I was humbled by the sincerity in her appreciation.

      I told her to underline every word in the paragraph that we had learned today. I explained that real life doesn’t come on uncluttered flash cards so we have to be sure she still understands the words when they are imbedded in text. It took her awhile. She was slow, but very intent on getting every word she was supposed to recognize. She paused a few times, looked at me and said, “I don’t think I will underline this one because I’d be guessing.”

     I praised her for that. I told her she never had to guess with me.

      In the end, I gave her the flashcards to study and a second copy of the paragraph and I asked her to do the exercise again the next day. I explained that it might be harder when she did it later because she wouldn’t have an hour of flashcard practice prepping her.

     We put the lesson aside and spent some time talking about other things. I asked her if she was religious and this made her shift in her seat. I said, “Well, for the record, I don’t attend any formal religious services. I’m spiritual, but not religious in the traditional sense, so whether or not you are religious doesn’t matter to me. I just don’t want to bring in any reading material that might offend you.” I gestured to my romance writing flyer. “I write some racy stuff.”

     She beamed. “That doesn’t bother me. In fact, it makes me want to learn faster.”

     I was taken aback by  the realization that we were totally different, and yet glimmers of our sameness were undeniable.

      Then, she told me she stopped going to her Baptist church because it just didn’t do anything for her. We talked about religion for a while in an academic way. I only brought it up because, in the back of my mind I was wondering if she might want to read the bible. I’ve heard many people want to learn to read for that reason. Clearly, this was not a motivation for her, but I had to explore the possibility, just in case. 

     Finally, I sat back in my seat and said, “So, are you ready to tell me about your legal trouble?” She was feeling pretty comfortable with me, so she did. I won’t go into detail, but in a nutshell, she was caught doing meth and now must clean the bathrooms of the courthouse for four hours a week.

     I said it was a good thing she was caught and punished, because if not, something a lot worse might have happened to her or those she loved. I might not be religious, but I do believe God sends us a wake-up call when we need one. And I told her it is better to be cleaning a toilet then watching your life go down one.

    In the end, we hung out for two hours, our student teacher relationship curving in at the corners to establish a sort of friendship as well.

     I left thinking I might be teaching Kathy to read, but honestly, I will be teaching her a lot more in the process. And I believe the best thing about teaching, is that you learn yourself.

     Kathy and I have tackled five lessons so far. The addition of a few more “instant” words each time slows our progress up a tad more, and I must now face the fact that cooking homework and quotes are months away. I fear that even the Literary Gods will grow bored with the painfully slow pace of this project.  Perhaps they think I am a fool for undertaking what is going to be an endless, unenlightened endeavor. The glamour of this idealistic literary undertaking pales when one realizes that Kathy may never read a book. We will be lucky if she is ever able to fill out a job application.

    Even so, I feel more determined to stick with this task now than I ever did when the entire idea was dunked in glory. At night, I read Faulkner and Hemmingway, my mind swimming with great works of literature as I slug through my MFA. But I am suddenly aware that those great works of literature are nothing but words, 65% of which are simply 300 “instant” (simple) words. The kind of words Kathy will know by this summer if I make that happen.

   I want to be a writer, which requires I see life with observant eyes. Thanks to Kathy, now I am noticing not only words, but everything attached to them too, their meaning, message and impact. The wealth of words in our world is so vast that I am overwhelmed with the importance them and my pursuit to master them seems worthy of whatever sacrifices it demands. I will practice. I will study. And I will write with reverence for the written word because I see how precious it is now. 

    When I sit at my computer words flow, and I believe it is because I have earned that privilege. I am making a difference in the literary world, perhaps not by writing a national bestselling book, but by striving to help just one person to read one.  

    I think that art begins with having something important to say, and while I didn’t begin this project seeking material for a book, my experience as a tutor does give me something rich and wonderful to write about. What is most valuable is that this experience allows me to embrace the art of writing from every angle. I commune with words on a deep and meaningful level now, totally immersed with writing, from the simplest books such as See Dick Run to the most complex literary work that my professors demand I write annotations for. This huge range of awareness epitomizes my devotion to the craft; accepting and respecting all of it; the inspirational, the boring, the confusing, and even, the mundane.

     Pagan soul that I am, I have made my offering to the Gods of literature. The world may not know I am a writer as yet, but the writing Gods do, and I can’t help but imagine they are smiling as they watch Kathy slowly learn the first three hundred instant words, guided by an author who really cares. It doesn’t make a difference if those Gods reward me with the writing wisdom I coveted when I began. Knowing Kathy will learn to read is enough, for I aim to be the kind of writer who inspires readers.

     One way or another.   




About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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  1. ヴィヴィアンウエストウッド

    ここでは、非常に本物のデバイス、グッチ ソケット頻繁に典型的な懸念の多くを得ることができるでしょうかまたは懸念他の方法で処理されます。コメントおよび証明: 明らかに確かにシフト可能性がありますを開始するルーチンを認めます。しかし、おそらく直感に反すると信じて、必要がありますまた、シフトのコンポーネントを開始できるように、負のパターンを取得します。受諾の忍耐とあなたの変換のコンポーネントの中に自分の仕事を通して思いやりのすべての 1 つになんとか。12 ステップ pc プログラムと一緒にのような特別なタイプは”こんにちはラとオレンジ郡のエドワード web surfaholic をだと」。



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