Path Work

All posts in the Path Work category

The Hero’s Journey

Published June 13, 2016 by Susan Woodward

When beginning our work with the Cultural Mythology tales, we started with Joseph Campbell and The Hero’s Journey.

Using the following PowerPoint presentation, I walked them through the steps of The Hero’s Journey as they were taught to me.

The Hero’s Journey

After discussing the outline of the monomyth, the students worked to apply what they understood to their stories about Greek and Roman Heroes.  They talked about the ideas in their groups, and then each member focused on one of the three stages of the Hero’s Journey (Departure, Initiation, or Return). Each person’s job was to apply what they understood about that stage to the story they had read.

In an attempt to appeal to my more creative students who love to draw, each group created a poster for its chosen hero.  The posters were comprised of four parts:

  • a white sheet (at the top)- This was an “introduction” and contained the hero’s name, a brief synopsis of his journey, and three character traits (with supportive evidence) that the hero exhibited throughout his journey;
  • either a green (for growth) or a yellow (for knowledge) sheet- This represented the Departure stage. Students outlined the steps of the Departure as they understood them from the story; how did he need to grow? What knowledge was he attempting to attain?
  • either a red (for passion) or an orange (for creative ingenuity) sheet- This was to represent the Initiation state.  Again, students depicted the elements of the Initiation as they understood them on this sheet; how did he solve problems? What motivated him to continue?
  • either a blue (for truth) or a purple (for valor) sheet- This was to represent the Return stage.  And like the others, the students attempted to outline the Return stage as they understood it; what truth does he bring back to his people? How does he prove himself worthy of the title of hero? What has he accomplished for the good of all?

This is a few of their posters:

Aeneas EDITEDHercules EDITEDHercules Labors EDITEDOdysseus 2 EDITEDOdysseus EDITEDTheseus EDITED

Because many of the Greek heroes stories are intertwined, When I displayed them on the bulletin board, I fit them together like a puzzle. Each hero poster was taped together so that the finished product was almost diamond shaped; it made for easy jigsaw.

Greek Heroes Collage

Being Thankful: Mom’s Bragging Rights!

Published November 28, 2014 by Susan Woodward

While I am grateful for everything in my life all year long, I feel especially blessed as we enter the winter holiday season. Here is a picture of what I am most grateful for:

The Woodward/Everson ClanThis is my family…four generations of us! It includes my dad and step-mom, my children’s grandmother on their father’s side, and Preston’s grandmother. My generation is represented by my brother-in-law, the father of my children and his partner, and Preston’s mom. All five of my children are there with their spouses/significant others, as well as all six of my grandchildren!

I feel truly blessed to have all these people in my life, but I am feeling even more blessed after getting this picture on Thanksgiving Day:

Everson FamilyThe bride and groom from the above picture announced that they are expecting a new arrival this summer! And it just so happens I already have travel plans to visit at that time with my eldest and her daughter…so now I hope to be there for the arrival of grandchild #7!

The people in my life are my greatest gifts, and I vow never to lose sight of that. They give me purpose and validate that, in spite of the multitude of mistakes I have made, my life is pretty damned wonderful. We tease each other mercilessly, but that just gives testament to the bond we have.

In case I don’t say it enough, I LOVE my kids!

My Illy: 1503846_874529102591995_1346509648119248359_n

Phlebotomist by day, aerial artist by night! I do have to say, though, that she looks like a superhero here…as right she should! She works hard to care for her beautiful daughter, Jordan.

I am thankful for my strong, creative eldest daughter.

Oh, and she decorates cakes on the side and cooks up a storm!

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And now Jordan is getting into the act!

JimMy Jim:

For someone who had such a rough start at arriving nine weeks early and very ill, I am so blessed to have this loving, compassionate man as my son. I am so proud of him for accepting his girlfriend Lisa’s children into his heart and for helping to raise them as his own.

He is also a great keyboard player!

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Jim, Lisa and the kids close up

1901804_10154694748580431_6627833825943590068_nRobin Bills Fan

My Robin:

Dr. Robin… I am so proud of you! She and her husband Sean work hard to make a home with their little Dolly.

Not only is she compassionate and knowledgeable in her field, she is a terrific mom who loves to keep things simple. She cooks, cans, and sews like a pro. They are also staunch Buffalo Bills fans who love the outdoors!!

Happy Family

Robin and Sean

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMy Sarah:

She looks like a sweet little girl, but this is one tough US Marine who also had no fear when playing women’s rugby in high school. I would think she’d be the Corps’ secret weapon because she you wouldn’t think she could lay you out flat without batting an eye.  That’s my Sarah Bear!

I am so proud of how much she has accomplished, although I miss her all the way on the other side of the continent. She has stepped in to love not only her husband Preston, but his daughter Chloe. And now they are expecting a wee one of their own!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Sarah USMC marching

Sarah USMC

Sarah Preston Chloe

Sarah and Preston USMC ball

My Joe:Joe graduatioon

Strong, smart, and incredibly sweet when it comes to his nieces and nephew! He scares me sometimes because it seems he has no fear, whether it is playing football, rugby, lacrosse, soccer…or his latest sport, longboarding! That is the one that scares me the most, although I cannot help but admire his fearlessness and his strength! He is also self-taught on the guitar, and I love to hear him play.

Joe training

joe longboarding

JoeWell, maybe Dolly’s not such a fan of the guitar…

Joe and Jojo

To my wonderful children and grandchildren, thank you for who you are and all that you do. I love you all so much, and am especially thankful to have you in my life.

Age of Social Consent

Published November 20, 2014 by Susan Woodward

I was honored to be cast in my friend, Louie Podlaski’s one act play, “Age of Social Consent.” It was produced by Everyone’s Theatre Company, Inc., and was directed by Billy DeMetsenaere. I played the role of Erin, a woman suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who is haunted by a particularly painful event in her life involving her teenage daughter. The role of Erin’s daughter, Dana, was played by Katie Guy.

I was thrilled when the show earned awards from the Theatre Association of New York State (TANYS): Meritorious Award in Direction to Billy DeMetsenaere, and I received Excellence in Acting.

TANYS award

Actually, the role seemed less like acting and more an element of catharsis. It helped to release pent up emotions and resentment, allowing me to voice things I wish I could have said in other situations. When I first heard about the play, I could not wait to see the script, and when I did, I saw myself in Louie’s words. The situations may not have been the same, but the emotions and the reactions to the words of others was dead on.

Thank you, Louie, for Erin’s words.

Thank you, ETC, for the opportunity.

Thank you, Billy, for the guidance through the journey.

Thank you, Katie, for being a companion on the journey.

This 16 minutes meant so much to me on so many levels, and I am grateful.

The TANYS Festival 2014: Much Ado About TANYS was so much fun! A weekend of theatre productions, the awards banquet, and catching up with people across the state in thespian fellowship made it a weekend to remember!

ETC group photoBoard Members and Actors from Everyone’s Theatre Company

etc girlsLadies of the Board: Everyone’s Theatre Company

with LouiePlaywright Louie Podlaski of “Age of Social Consent.” Sadly, neither our director nor my castmate could make it to TANYS as they were performing in other shows elsewhere…break legs, Billy and Katie!

with LarryLarry just happened to be wearing a tie that matched my costume!

With JeffAnd it is always a pleasure to see Jeff!

It was a wonderful weekend, and I am thankful for being a member of both Everyone’s Theatre Company and TANYS!

We’re All in Myth Together

Published November 20, 2014 by Susan Woodward

ujun20.v008.i04.cover I am so excited to hear that my article, “We’re All in Myth Together” has been published in Culture and Psyche, the Jung Journal of San Francisco! Click on the Journal cover to see the article.

The article is based on a presentation that I did at the Symposium on Mythology in Santa Barbara, California in September 2012.

The following is the video featuring students who were published in four of the, now six, short story anthologies that my students wrote for English 9 Enriched between 2009 and 2014.

This is so thrilling for me!!

Awesome Autumn Color 5K-and-Then-Some Race!

Published October 19, 2014 by Susan Woodward

10660273_10204330380954699_8082479894260167140_nAnd I came in FIRST! Yes, the Awesomeness of Autumn was in the air, and the only other competitor was the sedentary-couch me who had been catching up on Sam and Dean episodes while waiting for Rumple and Hook later tonight.

‘Twas a bit nippy out there, but with my hoodie and fleece jacket, along with the fire of watching Sam and Dean do what they do, I was plenty warm. The sun was shining, and it seems that this must be peak weekend (or darn near close) from all the vibrant color out there. Lovely day!

10703718_10204330380834696_5737243792115223303_nSomeone painted a series of murals beneath the bridge along the Erie Canal, and I do have to admit that I did break into the Erie Canal song, but I wasn’t going fifteen miles today. 5k+ was good enough for me!

10641246_10204330380514688_7167262468720902420_nAs I was looking at the canal remembering the song’s lyrics “from Albany to Buffalo,” I thought about the immigrants that picked up shovels and dug that canal. I complain when my elbows still act up from my tendonitis injury during silks a year and a half ago; I am sure the men who dug this canal didn’t have the luxury of Epsom Salts and ibuprofen.

10636101_10204330380354684_3667839456017222033_nToday I was thankful for the men who dug the canal because it provided me with a beautiful place to challenge myself, and to do more than watch fictional characters flex their brawn. Muscles and sweat made this place a reality.

10511334_10204330381314708_6118131472149777104_nNot to mention Mother Nature’s artistry.

What a lovely day for the Awesome Autumn Color 5k-and-then-some!

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 3.49mi, time: 01:03:28, pace: 18:11min/mi, speed: 3.30mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/770401905

Summer Challenge: Point Breeze

Published August 31, 2014 by Susan Woodward

Being AloneSometimes I just like to get into my Hyundai, pick a direction, and see where I end up. Since I had already gone east when I went to the cabin, explored portions of the south in Canandaigua, and due west with all the time I have had the opportunity to spend with my family in the Buffalo area, my car decided to go to the northwest along the Ontario shoreline. I thought I might end up in Lewiston, but instead my car found its way to Point Breeze.

I do like lighthouses, so I was glad to find that Point Breeze had a lighthouse museum, and it was open to the public. Not only that, but I had the opportunity to climb up to the top to look out!

Point Breeze 1

Point Breeze 2

Point Breeze 3

Point Breeze 4

Point Breeze 7

Point Breeze 5

Point Breeze 6Because there were plexiglass windows at the top of the lighthouse, you can actually see me reflected in the picture! I am glad I was smiling because I was having a terrific time.

 

Bringing Walden Home: Building My Heart’s Home in Nature

Published August 31, 2014 by Susan Woodward

Cone Flowers 1In keeping with my Walden Experiment this summer, I took pictures of the beauty of Nature everywhere I went. These next few were in a friend’s garden, and we spent a good portion of the afternoon making pickles (something I had not done in over 15 years).

Garden 1Bees were flitting from flower to flower, and I tried to zoom in on them.

Garden 2

Garden 3

Garden 4Flowers are beautiful gifts of the Earth, and I just love the array of colors.

Walden Pond Park LancasterSo as I am heading to the Lancaster Arts and Music Festival, I happen to come along this sign, so of course, I had to stop in for a peek. It was on Walden Avenue, but seeing the sign made me want to check it out.

Walden Pond Park, LancasterIt was mostly wide open sports fields, but there was a pond. I looked for hiking trails and came up empty, so I continued on my way to the Arts and Music Festival.

PetuniasThese petunias and the following Rose of Sharon were all taken during the Lancaster Arts Festival.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon 2

Rose of Sharon 1

Rose of Sharon Awakening

I also took some water pictures while in Lancaster. It was a blistering hot day (for this summer in Western New York, anyway), and I found some cool relief by going down to the creek.

Creek in Lancaster 1 Creek in Lancaster 3 Creek in Lancasterv2

I have mentioned before that the song of moving water soothes my soul, and as a slightly cool breeze alleviated the ferocity of the sun, and creek melodiously serenaded me while I rested.

The movement of the water fascinated me, and I watched it move from what seemed to be a still pool through a narrow opening. As the water moved into the opening, I noticed the patterns in the current as it moved over the rocks. One rock just beyond the opening acted like a dividing surface, akin to a fork in a road. The water split in its path, creating a criss-cross pattern on the surface. My camera does not do justice to the movement of the water, but as I watched, it reminded me of the various paths we face in life, and how our forward movement is dictated by the choices we make along our path.

No matter which way the water moved around the rock, each “leg” of the current did its own little swirling dance before reconvening in the next pool beyond. Although unseen, the current still rides under the water, still moving it forward. And that is what I see in my life. I go off on my own path, then reconnect with others, all the while feeling the effects of my choices within me.

The summer draws to a close, and I begin to plan my new school year, hoping to take with me the tranquility of Nature as my soul attempted to Build It’s Own Damn House of Tranquility.

Summer Challenge: Canandaigua and Ganondagan

Published August 20, 2014 by Susan Woodward

I have to admit that I delayed writing about this hike, and as I go on, you shall see why. However, I am going to share the beauty of the day as well as the lessons I took with me in the aftermath.

First of all, I had spent the earlier part of the day in the Canandaigua Lake region making pickles at a friend’s house. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so as I was meandering my way home the long way (I tend to avoid the thruway in favor of scenic explorations), I stopped by the lakeshore and then at the Ganandagan Historic site.

There is so much beauty in Upstate/Western New York with the shores of two Great Lakes, the Finger Lakes, and the numerous waterfalls (not to mention Niagara Falls) that I am grateful to have so many choices when I want to take my camera for a ride or a hike!

Canandaigua 2

Canandaigua 3

Canandaigua 4

Canandaigua 5I love the texture of these trees as the draping branches dance on the wind.

Canandaigua 1Looking up, I saw large pine cones. The scent was wonderful.

While making pickles with friends earlier in the day, one of the ladies mentioned the Ganondagan Native American Historic Site, and I promised myself that I would get there one of these days soon. It seems that I was to get there sooner than expected because when I saw signs directing me to the area, my car took on a mind of its own and followed. Good Hyundai!

If you click on the following picture, you can learn more about this historic place in the Finger Lake region.

Ganondagan 1

The beginning of the path seemed so inviting, like a type of portal to another realm. It has been said that fey folk inhabit the forests of Ganondagan, and I was hoping to witness some truth to the legend.

Ganondagan 3 Ganondagan 2

Does this not look like a place where woodland sprites would roam? It so happened that there was going to be a Quest For the Knotties, the sprites believed to inhabit the knots of the trees, that coming Saturday. As it turns out, I was not able to make it on that day, so I decided to have my own little Knottie Quest.

Ganondagan 6

Ganondagan 5

Ganondagan 4

These places look spritely to me! I stepped off the path a few times in order to seek out these Knottie homes, but something I’d only hoped for and not actually expected happened when I returned to the path. Click on the following picture:

Ganondagan 7I happened to look off to my right when I was walking and noticed a single yellow leaf appearing to dangle in mid-air. I watched it dance in the breeze for a minute before going up to it and running my hand over it several times, thinking that it might be attached to a spider web or something.

And it kept dancing.

I shared the video (and it’s not great quality because it was on my phone) with friends, and so many tried to convince me that it was just attached to something and not a supernatural phenomenon. I am not buying that because I checked. No web strings. Nothing. Just a dancing leaf.

Others thought that it was just being carried by the breeze. Okay…but if you look at the video, there are many dried leaves on the ground, so why is only ONE moving like this?

I am certain that this was a visit from a woodland sprite. And based on the events that took place once I exited the woods (remember I said that there was some lesson that I took from this particular experience?), I believe that I was detained to watch for a reason.

When I finally did tear myself away and return to my car, I discovered that someone had smashed the driver’s side window in order to pop the trunk and steal my purse. Given that I was only in the woods a total of 40:51 (see the MapMyWalk link below…thank God I had my phone with me!), it is possible that the purse was stolen during the time that I was spent in fascination with the fey folk.

What if I had happened to return in the middle of the robbery? These folks were bold enough to do it in broad daylight in a place where there were multiple cars. But what if I had come across them face-to-face? Would I have been injured?

I am thankful that I did not have to find out. Because I had my phone, I was able to call 911 immediately, followed by a call to my bank to cancel my debit card. The stuff in my purse was all replaceable (except for the cash), and GEICO was able to help me set up an appointment to have my car fixed first thing in the morning. It made me appreciate that things are replaceable, but I am not.

I am thankful that the spirits of the woods detained me so that I remained safe, and now wiser for the experience.

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 1.16mi, time: 40:51, pace: 35:09min/mi, speed: 1.71mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/694029543

Summer Challenge: Selkirk Shores State Park

Published August 8, 2014 by Susan Woodward

When I began to tell people about how much I was looking forward to getting away in a little cabin in the woods all by myself, a lot of people kept asking about whether or not I would be lonely all alone. Or they expressed concerns for my safety.

I really am okay with being on my own. It’s how I recharge my batteries.

Selkirk Shores State Park 3And so today I plugged into Selkirk Shores.

“Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man. There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of nature and has his senses still” (Thoreau, “Solitude”, Walden).

In spite of the weather reports claiming that we were going to be in for thunderstorms, the sky was filled with puffy clouds, and the sun beamed down on the waters of Lake Ontario. I hiked along the ridge high above the lake and listened to the waves rolling up against the shore.

While Thoreau’s energy seems to come to him from the Earth…as in the woods and the stillness of the pond…mine comes from moving water. His close relationship with the land allowed him to recognize where he was even in pitch dark.

“It is darker in the woods, even in common nights, than most suppose. I frequently had to look up at the opening between the trees above the path in order to learn my route, and, where there was no cart-path, to feel with my feet the faint track which I had worn, or steer my the known relation of particular trees which I felt with my hands, passing between two pines for instance, not more than eighteen inches apart, in the midst of the woods, invariably, in the darkest night” (Thoreau, “The Village”, Walden).

That is how in tune he was with the Earth, and he found that he was most revived there. Even his rejuvenation in Walden Pond is from much stiller water than what rejuvenates me. I like to seek out creeks,waterfalls, and large lake shores that give the illusion of being at the ocean. Having been brought up among the vast Great Lakes, it is easy to imagine that one is at the ocean, albeit without the salt. The sound of moving water sings to my soul a song more pleasant than any created by a musical instrument. Thoreau’s most treasured songs came to him from the winds in the trees and from the birds and animals in his woods.

I love those songs, too, but it is water that not only soothes, but energizes me.

Selkirk Shores State Park 4

Water Wars

I sat down to watch what seemed to me to be the front lines of an epic battle between the Water Warriors of the Creek and those of the Lake. Where the creek emptied into the lake, the rolling waves seemed to come in to push the creek water back from its invasion. The effect created quite a swirling of forces, battling to claim their place. The clashing of the two stirred up the sand and mud from the bottom, giving the waters an almost reddish hue like the blood spilled on a battlefield. The lake, of course, had the upper hand with its sheer size of reinforcements, and the winds blowing in off it brought in the stronger militia; however, the creek held its own against the mighty lake in the ongoing struggle.

I must admit, it was fun to watch.

I tore myself away from the water and turned toward the inland trails. Once I finally found the beginning of the trails, I was pleased to find that they were adequately marked so that I would not get lost. Then again, I had a Great Lake on one side, smaller Salmon Lake on another, a creek on the third, and then a road on the fourth. I really wasn’t in any danger of getting lost, but I liked the certainty of a marked trail. Sorry, Thoreau!

Selkirk Shores State Park 6 Selkirk Shores State Park 1 Kissing Trees A slice of love

Once again, I was grateful for Deep Woods Off! I do not know how Thoreau managed with the bugs…he’s a stronger person than I am!

All bugs aside, it was a gorgeous walk. And despite the campground seeming to be almost full to capacity, very few ventured onto the trails. I only ran into one couple (several times) as they jogged the trails. Other than that, it was as if I was the only person for miles and miles. Squirrels skittered along the branches overhead, causing a slight shower of acorns at one point. Smiling, I brought home one of those raindrops to remind me of how happy I felt to simply be present at that moment.

A new trail was being cut by the parks department, and a logger must have come across a heart-shaped tree trunk because he left a slice of that trunk propped up against another tree. Seeing it made my own heart swell, as if it was a message from the Woodland Gods that I am loved.   🙂  I even came across two trees that appeared to be kissing!

This is the link that outlines my hike. I did a lot of stopping and starting the app as I paused to take pictures, rest, or simply sit and admire the scenery. However, it is useful to me to record which trails I have hiked.

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 3.95mi, time: 01:31:30, pace: 23:09min/mi, speed: 2.59mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/674403985

The rains did come that day, but not until I was pulling my car alongside my cabin once again. Not the thunder and lightning that had been expected, but a gentle steady rain that also sang to my soul. I spent the evening with a quiet meal and a lovely Harry Dresden novel (I did bring something other than Walden with me…). I’d refreshed myself with the scents of peppermint and lavender in my shower, and luxuriated in the tingle it left on my skin as I read.

It was lovely.

 

Summer Challenge: Sterling Nature Center

Published August 6, 2014 by Susan Woodward

“I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live and could not spare any more time for that one” (Thoreau, “Conclusion”, Walden).

On my fifth day, it was time to pack up and leave the little cabin in the woods.

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

         (Robert Frost, from “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening”)

I knew that I had responsibilities awaiting me at home and that as much as I was loving my mini Walden Experiment, it was also time for me to return. At least I did not leave with a heavy heart because a line I’d heard somewhere kept running through my mind: “Do not cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.” And so I am smiling.

I took the long way home meandering along Lake Ontario (well, as best as the roads and shoreline would allow… the shore has SO many inlets to it that keeping the lake in view on my right was impossible), and I made one last stop to take a little hike before I had to get home and prepare for an appointment that evening.

For many years, I have driven to Sterling, NY to go to the Renaissance Festival. Every time I drove there, I’d noticed the signs for Sterling Nature Center, but I had never stopped by. Today I did.

Sterling Nature CenterI am sooo glad I stopped! The wooded path took me directly to the lake shore so that she could sing to me a “so long” song till we would meet again.

Sterling ShorelineWhile strolling along the beach, I was surprised at the bluffs that appeared around a bend. At first I thought I must be at Chimney Bluffs, and I had to do a mental calculation of how far along the 104 I had driven for that to be true. Turns out that these are different bluffs, but just as magnificent.

Lakeshore Sterling Nature CenterI sat down to rest and to just listen to the shore-song, all the while thinking about how much I loved the sound and feeling of the breeze. Breathing deeply, I looked out on the water that was dotted here and there with sailboats, and looked up to watch the gulls circle lazily back and forth, almost in rhythm with the boats. I was again filled with gratitude at being able to just be here at this moment. I really did have to pull myself away because I knew that I had “promises to keep.”

heart stoneAs I stood up from the large rock I’d been perched upon, I happened to look down at the rocks that were immediately next to me…and I saw it. It was my final gift for this sojourn- a heart shaped rock that had been worn and shaped by the lake herself.

Refusal to Let GoJust before I turned away from the shore to take the path through the woods to return to my car, I noticed the trunk of an old tree still clinging to the edge of the lake. That is how I felt about my heart; even though the rest of me had to leave this place, my heart belongs to the song of moving water. Whether it is a creek, a waterfall, or the lapping waves of the oceans and lake shores into which I have been privileged enough to dip my toes, that call of the water sings to my soul.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours” (Thoreau, “Conclusion,” Walden).

I hiked with MapMyWalk! Distance: 1.28mi, time: 45:45, pace: 35:41min/mi, speed: 1.68mi/h.
http://mapmywalk.com/workout/678847473

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