Having never been to Madison, Wisconsin I did not anticipate such a beautiful city nestled upon an isthmus between the lakes Mendota and Monona. In this place, all roads lead to the capitol building where colorful food trucks and various statues of Bucky the Badger dot the landscape. I traveled on this busy weekend with my family and we took in the sites of the city. We loved the intimacy of the Henry Vilas Zoo; had our first taste of rolled ice cream at Rollicious on the iconic State Street; strolled through the vibrant Olbrich Botanical Gardens; and marveled at the serenity of Alumni Park on the University of Wisconsin campus. Madison is, without a doubt, grounded in solid sense of self.
As we gathered together in the Union South Hall we encountered old friends, new friends, and emerging friends, all dedicated to improving their teacher-writer identities and sharing the wealth of knowledge with their students. After breakfast and coffee, Greater Madison Writing Project director, Mark Dziedzic kicked off the event with a humble welcome and, in true NWP fashion, prompted us to write with two questions:
What are your roots?
What are your branches?
I loved the questions, and we began to write. Here is my response:
As I grow, reaching to the sky, there are those who nourish and compel me forward. There are also those who have served their purpose and since have been pruned, as they have pruned me out of their lives. Some branches, like my biological children, seem to stretch out naturally. Some, like my stepdaughter, are beautifully grafted on. Others, like my youngest, are unexpected shoots who keep me grounded and blessed. I prefer the branches that carry me in new directions, and I am grateful to reach out, bending my pliable branches with others.
When I looked around the conference hall I saw a forest of experience and each of us was leaning on the other – branches growing, together.
It would be too much to share everything that happened during the conference but, in the spirit of growing together, I will share the highlights. Continue reading