Moving the Quill

UPDATE: Due to Twitter’s buying and shutting down of Posterous, Malyn’s 10minutes sketchbook blog has been moved to WordPress, The Sketchbook Project 2012 – 10 minutes. Please visit the new site, enjoy Malyn’s sketchbook and sign her guestbook.

Deep passions never die

Last night I had an incredible Twitter conversation with Malyn Mawby about her Playing in Public sketch featured in my last Digital Substitute post.

I asked her, since she is part of a sketch tour, whether she was just newly learning how to sketch or if she had started when she was younger. She proudly confessed the latter, and you can tell from the quality of her sketching.

Malyn also mentioned that she had stopped sketching for several years a little while back. For her, the Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project was an opportunity to revisit her sketching and renew her passion for artistic play.

This led to discussion of my passion for creative writing, which I also have enjoyed since childhood and also took a hiatus of several years from.

Hiatuses lead to inspiration

Of course, Malyn asked why I stopped. And I explained my heart transplant to her.

This led Malyn to draw a new sketch … about me.

And here it is. Wow!

 

 

For the colourful story behind this sketch, please read Malyn’s post about this sketch.

Camaraderie expands horizons

I developed many friendships using Twitter. I use the term PLN often, because most of my friends are teachers and most of our communication is professional. But it would undervalue my activity on Twitter and other social media, like this blog, to dismiss the camaraderie developed in my learning journey. My social and professional circles have definitely expanded since I started developing professionally online.

Resparking passion

Last month, I became the new leader of the Write Group. This role is rather daunting, since I am replacing the quill of a great leader who served for 29 years. I expect, as my new duty takes hold, I will post more to Stefras’ Bridge, particularly since I am designing a resource wiki for the Write Group.

I will also do more writing as I undertake my duties, much like Malyn is sketching more with her participation in the Art House Co-op Sketchbook Project.

Update: Instead of posting Write Group-specific posts on this blog, I created a new blog, The Write Group, which better serves the group and other writers.

So from a conversation last night, I have expanded my horizons some more and so has Malyn. Now that is social networking in action.

How about you? What is your passion? And how do you encourage yourself to expand and never lose it?

The Write Group: Recruiting New Members

This post is cross-posted and extended in my professional blog, Digital Substitute.

I have had three deep passions throughout my life so far and the good fortune to experience them all. I love nature, so I became an ecologist. I love learning and passing on my passions, so I became a teacher. And I love storytelling and penning pictures in others’ minds, so I became a writer.

In a previous post, I discussed the change in teaching style when one engages with students outside of the lesson and in camps and clubs. About a month ago, I attended a Don’t Hibernate Fair in my town. This fair is designed to connect clubs and people. I attended a table and recruited new members into the Write Group.

This was an exhilarating experience for me. I have been in many clubs and organizations, but this was the first time I recruited new members to a club. I had thirteen people sign up and express keen interest. Best of all a few of these are students I sub.

Tonight is the first meeting of the Write Group this year. I am thrilled at meeting new faces and old and seeing more “foxes around a risen altar whisper and trade incantations from crinkled scrolls“.

Story of My Name

This post is inspired by Gail de Vos who teaches Storytelling at the University of Alberta. The assignment below is from Gail’s classes and Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family.

Your First Real Life-story, the Story of Your Name

Describe your name in a story which will entertain your audience and you, and tell them and yourself about you. Ask and answer questions like these (not all questions need to be answered) to help you tell your name’s story.

What is your name? What does it mean? How did you get it and who gave it to you? If you were named after some one or some place or some thing, what is that person, place or thing’s story? Do you like your name? Why or why not? If not, what would you like to be named and why? What does your name mean to others? Who and why?

Plunge: The Story of My Name

© Shawn Urban

My name is Shawn Travis Urban, but I have not always been so.

I am adopted, so I have two names. My initial name, given to me by my birth mother, is David. It comes from the Hebrew Dod, which means “beloved”. This, and the fact that I am alive, and have lived an incredible life raised by a wonderful family, says a lot about my original mother.

 

David = Dod

 

My Mom and Dad named me Shawn Travis. They chose Shawn Travis because its cadence is appealing, particularly when combined with my family name, Urban.

 

cadence

 

The name Shawn has a long history behind it. My parents wanted Shawn to reflect my Canadian origin, so they chose its spelling carefully. S-H-A-W-N, as my name is spelled, is a North Americanized version of Irish S-E-A-N. S-E-A-N, in turn, is the Irish version of John, in turn an English version of Johannes, which is a Latin version of Ioannes. Ioannes is the Greek version of Yochanan, which is Hebrew for “Yahweh is gracious”. Given my adoption, I think this rather fitting.

 

Shawn = Yochanan

 

My middle name, Travis, is also interesting. Travis comes from Old English traverse, which means “to cross”. It was a name given to a toll collector. In medieval times when you wanted to cross one of the King’s bridges, and they all were the King’s bridges, you had to pay a toll. The title of the toll and the toll collector came to be travis, so occasionally you might hear the saying, “pay the travis”, which could mean “pay the crossing”, “pay the toll” or “pay the toll collector”.

 

Travis = cross,toll
Stefras' Bridge

 

Combined, Shawn Travis literally says, “Yahweh is gracious. Pay the toll.” I’m not so sure whether my parents or I get the short end of that derivation.

 

irony

 

My family name is Urban, which means “city” or “city dweller”. However, it started out as Urbanoski. My father’s side of the family is Galician (Polish, Ukrainian, Austrian or German, depending on who conquered whom in this part of the Ukraine). My great-great-grandfather was the mayor of a manor town, which unlike elected mayors today, was a position of nobility in my great-great-grandfather’s time. Urbanoski was changed to Urban in my father’s time by his father. So my father was born an Urbanoski and is now an Urban.

 

Urban = city dweller

 

And that is who I am, except that the story of my name would be incomplete without some mention of my initials. Through no intention on my parents’ part, my initials correspond to three consecutive letters in the English alphabet, S-T-U, and they form a name in themselves, Stu, short for Stuart, S-T-U-A-R-T, the French form for Old English Stewart, S-T-E-W-A-R-T, meaning “keeper of the estate”.

 

Stuart = Stewart

 

So I am “toll collector”, “city dweller”, “keeper of the estate”, “beloved” and . . .

 
. . . “Yahweh is gracious”.

This post is inspired by Gail de Vos who teaches Storytelling at the University of Alberta. The assignment above is from Gail’s classes and Telling Tales: Storytelling in the Family.

The Write Group

© Shawn Urban

Picture the purls penned on our paper.

And through the darkness they slip and slide
along old pathways worn far and long.
They move through shadows between dim lights
and enter boldly through locked doors.

Many a stranger, who dare disturb
the wisping, quillling lychnobioi,
find there quietly sleeking olden owls
in steep stairways and hidden chambers.

Up the attic they gather and hide,
foxes around the risen altar,
whispering, trading incantations
from crinkled scrolls pro- found words they read.

They walk the pattern and weave the life
of heroes, monsters far long away.
In deep sanctity purling riffles,
and joining as one in common task.

And strangers observe shut gates open,
and in hidden truth locked knowledge.
For in that attic the Write Group writes
and through the darkness they slip and slide.

First Prompt: What if you came across a magic gate?

@djeurope: This morning, in my garden, I had a conversation with a little bird.
He told me everything!

 

 

The Bench in the Field

Perhaps it is the lure of the strange sign that propels you. Perhaps it is the lone bench in the center of the wild flowered meadow. Or perhaps you just wanted to see where this direction would take you.

 

 

As you approach the worn wooden bench and equally weathered sign, a chickadee lands on the back of the bench and begins bee-baying. It watches as you get closer, then hops up onto the sign. The sign has a picture of wood pieces on it instead of words. The picture seems scrambled and missing a square piece. You touch the picture and you notice you can move its pieces.

 

 

Through the Gate

You try to unscramble it. As you do so, an image emerges of a round moongate set in a muraled wall. Through the moongate is a bright garden with twisting paths and zig-zagging hedges. Benches adorn the garden. On one of them sits a man sipping some clear beverage. He notices you and walks through the garden to the gate. He steps through and smiles.

With that you notice that the wall and moongate are standing in the middle of the meadow beside the weathered bench. The sign is gone. Through the gate is the garden; on the wall are hilly forests and fields; around both of them is the meadow.

Choices: What Beyond the Horizon

Which path do you explore? Which direction do you turn? Through the moongate? Into the muraled wall? Within the meadow? In another direction? Or beyond? What do you encounter?

Merry Eve of Winter Solstice

Merry eve of Winter Solstice. And what a great time to begin a new blog. Not only is it the eve of Winter Solstice, but tonight the moon rises full in the sky and the Earth entirely eclipses it (over North America). NASA has offered a website to watch the eclipse, for those who are interested. And I plan to do so.

 

 

Now that is how one kicks off the Winter / Christmas / Hannukkah season. (Yes, I know Hannukkah is already passed, but I hope the sentiment still lingers.) So, before I forget, I wish one and all, of whatever religious or secular practice, throughout the networked world a very peaceful, joyful and wonderful season.

This is my inaugural blog on one of my favorite pastimes: writing. In this blog I will discuss writing in general, my writing in particular (with snippets and vignettes provided) and other writer’s blogs. I will also provide writing exercises and prompts for those who are inclined to write on the fly.

Since writing isn’t my only hobby, I might also include posts on oil painting and ecology or nature adventures, both of which are also pastimes I enjoy.

If you take a look at my second blog, Digital Substitute, which I am also beginning today, you will discover that I used to be an ecologist while now I am a teacher.

Digital Substitute is my professional blog; you can jump to it using the link I provided in my blogroll.

Thank you for visiting Stefras’ Bridge. I hope you enjoy my blog and visit regularly.

Truth be told, I hope to use this blog to also spur me on with my writing.

Merry Christmas everyone, and welcome to Stefras’ Bridge.

Updated: June 25, 2011.