Category Archives: God Stuff

Marnie’s Idea Mill–churning out great ideas since…NOW.

I am pleased, excited, terrified and astonished to be announcing the launch of Marnie’s Idea Mill, a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.

I’m raising money to replace myself in the classroom, so that I will have time to design and implement workshops on creativity.

Thanks in advance for checking out the site and considering making a contribution!

You can help other ways–posting the link on your own Facebook page or blog, retweeting, or forwarding to people who might make a contribution will help, too.

I also welcome feedback on any and all parts of this project.

Also accepting good wishes and blessings!

Metaphor 1.1

Metaphor 1.1

The perks I’m offering include a shout-out on this blog, a copy of Each Other’s Anodyne (a hand-sewn chapbook, a collection of my poems about teaching), feedback on your own creative writing, customized sonnets, and personalized creativity coaching sessions.

As of today, I’ve raised $10,000 in contributions and pledges toward the $24,000 total I need ($6,000 per course x four courses). My fundraising goal on Indiegogo is $4,000, and the deadline for the online campaign is June 17.

My ultimate deadline is July 1.

When I say I love impossible things, I am not kidding.

But I’m trusting Marnie’s Idea Mill can make some magic and attract some magic and make creativity workshops possible (which will then generate even more magic).

Because I am married to a man who is 1/4 Finn, who has read the Kalevala multiple times and also cheers for Finnish drivers in World Rally racing, I know that the Sampo is a mill that generated an infinite supply of flour, salt, and gold.

It was made by Ilmarinen (using a forge, that, as my husband likes to point out, the Kalevala never mentions being destroyed–so maybe it’s still out there…) for the Mistress of the North, who turned out to be a nasty sort, and after a complicated series of events I couldn’t quite follow as my husband described it, the People of the South decided to steal the Sampo. The boat it was in sank, but pieces of the Sampo washed ashore and prosperity accompanied even those pieces.

There used to be a store in Madison called the Magic Mill, which I loved, but it closed. The Sampo, though–that’s a really potent metaphor.

The Sampo one of the images I had in mind when I decided to call my Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign “Marnie’s Idea Mill.”

Idea generation is a huge part of how we measure creativity, so I wanted a metaphor of something that generates. Mill seemed kindlier than factory somehow….

Plus, we have a wide assortment of Peugeot hand grinders (my husband is also 1/4 French).

Another old, old story I had in mind is from 1 Kings 17. In it, Elijah curses the land of Israel, “there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” The Lord sends him to a brook where ravens care for him, and then to a widow, who, when asked for a wee bit of bread by Elijah says, “As the Lord God liveth,” (which I think would now translate to “holy crap, man”). She says she barely has enough to keep herself and her son alive one more day. But Elijah blesses her barrel and says it will not be empty until God sends rain. (I always thought that should be until a few months after the rain showed up, but I’m sure it worked out fine.)

For me, this is a story about living from a place of “enough” rather than a place of “not enough.”

I am trusting there is enough good will and money in the world to help me meet my goal of designing workshops to help people become more creative–more people who can forge amazing mills, more prophets who can see plenty when the rest of us see scarcity….

More where there is currently less.
(You can read more about my creativity research, my fundraising, and my ideas for workshops on various pages here on my blog.)

If God’s going to all the trouble of sending a tornado after you….

When I was little, I wasn’t scared of tornadoes.

My Dad always said, “If God’s going to go to all the trouble of sending a tornado after you…” and I actually don’t remember the exact words of what came after that, but the idea was, just give up. If God wants you to die in a tornado and you survive that tornado, he’ll send another tornado. Or a car wreck. Or a brown recluse spider.

I found that profoundly comforting when I was a child and beyond, but I’m sure my Dad’s calm helped, too. (Note to self: try not to freak out ENTIRELY as you’re fleeing your own home, your child in tow, to your parents’ basement across town. When I said, “Get in the car right now!” I’m pretty sure I had the same intonation & volume as “You can’t handle the truth!”)

Back in the 70s, there were watches and warnings pretty much all the time, it seemed, from March through September. We ignored watches entirely, and only grew concerned about warnings if the sky turned green.

Dad and I used to stand in our garage and watch sheets of rain come across the open field northeast of our house. He was probably smoking a pipe. I was probably petting Wooly and Daisy (the best dogs ever in the history of the world).


I now note several problems with Dad’s tornado wisdom.

1. Even if my belief in God had not changed, OH MY GOD. Really? I’m a good Baptist girl and God might just, out of pretty much fucking nowhere, send a tornado to kill me? And I can’t get away no matter what?

2. My belief in God has changed. I have a kind of wacked-out sort of X-Files Mulder/Scully hybrid of beliefs. As in:
a. I want to believe.
b. Maybe God could steer tornadoes in a pinch, but tends not to.

3. The basically impossibly huge question of how a loving God could allow horrible things to happen. (I’m not going to solve that here. Sorry if you’re disappointed.)

When I lived in the second of a series of three trailers I called home as a graduate student at Southern Illinois University, I began to have a recurring nightmare about tornadoes. In it, I would wake up in the middle of a horrible storm, feel the trailer begin to shake, watch the walls suck inward, watch the roof blow away, and then try to hold onto my bed to keep from getting sucked into the sky. Then I would wake up.

I suspect this had to do with being in miscellaneous precarious emotional situations in those years. And also living in a trailer. “God’s bowling alleys,” my brother always called trailer parks.

(So, o.k. What is it with men in my family and tornadoes?)

But during one actual tornado warning, I stayed in Trailer #1 and announced to God, “I’ll just die here with my cats, thank you.” Very green sky. Large branches flying by the window. Trailer rocking in real life, not the dream world. (Oh, that girl. I could just smack my 21-year-old self!)

I think, over the years, I’ve just grown less and less fatalistic. Certainly less suicidal! It is also possible my frontal lobe has developed some.

And then having a husband I love and I son I am OVER THE MOON ABOUT makes storms really stressful.

We’ve had a wacky weather week in Wisconsin. More storms coming.

Is it possible, in what I now called the land of “Zen Baptist” on my faith journey, to take wise precautions and yet be at peace about whatever comes?

Sure hope so.

Because what comforted me as a child, comforts me not at all right now.

Here’s what fun about social media. Someone named Kevin posted this on Channel 3000’s Facebook page. The comments are hilarious. Including: “it’s sunny in beloit” and a whole thread of “don’t take pictures while you’re driving” and “it’s not a tornado.”

So. Probably not a tornado. (No one actually said it was.) And also not my picture. But gracious. I wouldn’t mind some boring weather.

Not a tornado.

Not a tornado.

Bread to the Wise

for a friend whose battles are more private than mine

I know it’s not the same.
I’m not saying it’s the same.
It’s just I wear my shame.

It’s a fat suit I can’t take off.
Can’t seem to take off.
Have put back on, after taking off.

And oh, my house–it’s a mess.
In some ways glorious, in all ways,
or almost always, still a mess.

Skinny women with clean houses
are not (necessarily) full up on bliss.
In my head, I know this.

And a woman round as me
who is also a clutter-monkey
might not be a mess like me

inside her head.
She might not dread
the things I dread.

I know what you’re going through is different.
But if it helps, please take this offering
of what I couldn’t if I wanted to keep private.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.”

Being as I am not particularly swift, not lifting weights regularly at the moment, not as wise as I’d like, not using my intelligence every time I ought, not using the skill-set I do have, lacking the skill-set I need…well then, by golly–this verse sounds like terrific news today.

When Good Things Happen to Good People, #1

Here’s something that’s true: Ecclesiastes 9:11 “Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favour to the skilful; but time and chance happen to them all.”

Another true way of saying that true thing: there are lots of things that suck all over, all the time.

But here’s what’s also true:

Sometimes really great people have really great moments, and I’m totally in the mood to celebrate some of those.

[Biblically, we can move from Ecclesiastes, pretty much my favorite book in the Bible, to one of the epistles of the apostle Paul (I like to say it that way because about half the time, in my head, when I say it, it comes out the apostles of the epistle Paul). I have issues with Paul, sure. Or should I say, ISSUES. But he had his moments, such as Romans 12: 15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” We’ll get to the weeping some other time.]

Ryan Martin teaches & researches at UW-Green Bay. I’ve hung out with him some at events focused on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He’s fun to watch on various social media outlets. And he’s a great blogger. Recently he got to have one of those moments academics dream of, a good meal with an important scholar.

[That’s one vision of Heaven, for academics, that I’m sure would feel like Hell to others, but wow–what if we could have good food and meaningful conversations with people we’ve read for years? Ah….]

I was so happy to read about Ryan’s meal with Dr. Albert Bandura (I recognized the name!) & very interested to read a “5 Things I Learned (or was reminded of) During My Dinner with Dr. Albert Bandura.”

Ryan says Bandura is “doing important work that changes the lives of people across the globe.”

You know what? Bandura isn’t the only one.

Cute pic, even with Ryan's zombie eyes. And hey! Billie Holiday was there, too!

Cute pic, even with Ryan’s zombie eyes. And hey! Billie Holiday was there, too!

Prayer of Worry, Prayer of Love

On seeing pictures of bombing suspects, I thought
how very much they looked just like my students.
And now on hearing that “they’re not from here,”
I’m worried about my students, who are from everywhere.
I want to say my students, to the world, to God,
How much I love them. They’re why I do this job
(however well or badly I end up doing it).

I love all my students, damn it.
I love my Muslim students. Christians, also,
of course, and atheists, and everything else, too,
But today it’s Islam someone might be using
as an excuse to beat up a much-loved student.

We come to God so many different ways.
Or not at all. Let’s go where we find more love,
let’s offer hopes and wishes, good thoughts and prayers,
let’s be for each other what we all need more of.

“Eat Me” Said the Breakfast Cereal Mascot

Mommy bought the wrong cereal.
Don’t throw a fit.
Mommy is sorry.
Just eat the damn shit.

Look, see how pretty?
Those crunchy bits–
they’re Jezebel’s hands!
And also her feet!
And, oh my. A skull.

But look on the box!
Look, see how pretty?
She’s all dressed up!
She’s wearing makeup!
So pretty by the window.

Let’s open the box!
You might get a prize.
There’ might be a dog.
See the puppy dog?

If you don’t eat your cereal
the puppy will eat Jezebel.
It will eat her all up.
It will be a big help.
Mommy’s so sorry.
Be Mommy’s good puppy
and gobble her up!

If you’re a little rusty on the story, here’s 2 Kings 9

Found Poem, from Jezebel

“Maybe it’s not the greatest of patriarchal injustices
that cockeyed toucans, skateboarding frogs,
and vaguely pedophilic white rabbits hawking
sugar-blasted cereal to children are all male.”

“Even Fruity Pebbles, a cereal that actually includes
the name of a Flintstones character,
decided not to put Pebbles on its box.”

“Think about that the next time you see
some unsupervised child standing on his tippy-toes
to reach a box of Count Chocula. Then approach
the child and ask in a friendly voice,
‘Need help, little guy?’ Invariably the child will nod
shyly, which is your cue to knock the entire shelf
of Count Chocula to the floor and walk away.
Don’t feel bad — you’re doing your part,
however small, to erode the patriarchy’s power.”

Thus far in NaPoWriMo I have resorted to a sort of haiku, a like-ku, a parody, and now some found poetry. Also a couple of poems I actually like (see “Scavenged” for what I think is the best from the week).

This “found poem” was “found” in an article tweeted from Jezebel, “Ever Notice That There Aren’t Any Female Breakfast Cereal Mascots?”

Happily, the found poem led to a poem of my own, which is what’s up there at the very top of the page. Lovin me some Jezebel Crunch.

Red, red wine.

What I long for is the Welcome Table,
people singing hymns and drinking beer.
Apparently this isn’t possible.

If Jesus really was born in a stable,
It has to be o.k. I like it rougher.
What I long for is a welcome sort of table,

where, seriously, everyone can mingle
And hang out, peacefully, together.
Apparently this isn’t possible,

but I keep hoping. Church is more like hell
for me sometimes. Totally my fault, I’m sure.
What I long for is the Welcome Table

where the music’s hot. Nearly potable.
The Lord’s first miracle was wine (more, more).
Apparently it isn’t possible

to worship without being totally structural.
I just really want to toast the Lord.
What I long for is the Welcome Table.
Apparently this isn’t possible.