Revisiting the Solstice – A Year Later

Today marks the anniversary of my first post, Merry Eve of Winter Solstice, on this blog.

It is a good day to reflect on the blogging I did this year, the comments I made on other blogs and in tweets, and the impact I think these made on me as a person and a writer.

Stefras’ Bridge is still a young blog. I continue to discover what I want this blog to be, and to adjust to posting. So, my posts are few and distant. Yet, I am proud of the posts I have shared so far.

I published a couple of prompt posts, What if you came across a magic gate? and Story of My Name, which I have used to acclaim in Write Group meetings to inspire writing. These posts were fun to write. More I’m sure will come.

I published one of my poems and will likely publish some more. The poem I published is an amusing one about the Write Group that people still enjoy, particularly since the “attic” where the Write Group meets monthly, though really a top-story room in our local library / town hall, is real.

In fact, the Write Group features prominently in this blog. It is after all the primary means by which I socialize and share with other writers. My mentioning of the group here reflects my joy and pride of being a member in it.

I even posted about my inaugural experience of recruiting writers to our club. This was the first active recruitment the Write Group undertook in years, so, fortunately for me, it was a resounding success and exhilarating experience.

In that post, and others, I referenced posts in my professional blog. I find my writing blog and my professional one intertwine. Perhaps it is because writing and teaching dovetail in so many parts of my life. Perhaps it is because Stefras’ Bridge and Digital Substitute began on the same day, a year ago. Or perhaps it is because I am writing both blogs simultaneously and have yet to learn to separate their contents. Several of my posts in both blogs have reflected this interrelationship, and I expect will continue to do so.

My latest post, Moving the Quill, is a response to a series of interactions I had with one of my friends, fellow teachers and fellow artists, Malyn Mawby, about creativity, our pursuit of it and hiatus from it, and the inspiration sparked by honest and altruistic camaraderie. The best we can do is inspire others to be inspirational.

In all, this has been a fun inaugural year of blogging. I look forward to more.

One post I am thinking of publishing is a review of Malyn’s latest work in progress, a wonderful sketchbook inspired by a world sketchbook project. Her work is awesome and deserves recognition.

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.

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.