Insanity vs. Sanity

By: Shannon Boatwright

“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
― Edgar Allan Poe

Most people have heard of and read at least some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. I have many favorites when it comes to his stories, poems, and quotes. Currently, I am producing and directing a production with my 8th-grade honors drama students called, “Shuddersome: Tales of Poe”. This show features some of Poe’s best works, some that I had never heard of until I came across this play from TheatreFolk.com. It’s a brilliant play that pieces together Poe’s works in a very intriguing, unique and entertaining way. Of course, I’ve added my own special touch to it by incorporating music, song, and dance, adding even more depth and umph to the eerie mystery of Poe’s tales. As we’ve been working on the production, I’ve had the opportunity to dive deeper into the life of Poe and learn more about his tragic world.

I’d always been fascinated by his quote, “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” My thoughts go in many different directions when I think on this quote. I think of the times I wish I could just sleep and stay in my dreams, or never wake from my fantasies. I think of how the busyness and stress of my life make me feel insane at times, yet it’s the moments of boring normalcy when creative busyness does not overtake my life, that I feel crazy in my saneness. Is it because in all the moments when I’m so busy, I don’t have the time nor energy to think too much about things? Probably. It’s a fascinating topic for sure.

It is said that when Poe wrote this statement about being insane and claiming his intervals of sanity as horrible, that he was describing his dealing with his wife’s illness. Having to battle through the ups and downs of his wife’s horrible sickness really did him in. To cope he drank alcohol excessively, I think to provide that little bit of escape into insanity. I believe it’s the moments of terrible reality, the stress of caring for his wife as she suffered so much with tuberculosis, that gave him his horrible moments of sanity. Most of the people Poe cared about died. He really did live quite a tragic life. I can only imagine going through all the loss he experienced, and part of me cannot blame him for having moments of madness, releasing the angst and horror of life through words.

I could probably write a blog post for every single one of his famous quotes. There are so many mysterious and poignant words from Poe that instigate all sorts of interesting discussions. I’m sure there are many different interpretations of them all too, which in my mind, is a sign of an excellent writer promoting and instigating deep thought.

What are your favorite works of Poe and your interpretations of his words?

My Muse, My Mina

By: Shannon Boatwright

I recently created a big production with my honors drama students. Typically, in my creative process, music is the inspiration behind my works. But in the case of my Land of Stories show, it was my amazing daughter, my Mina, that was the absolute driving force of my inspiration.

This incredible child of mine was positively smitten by Chris Colfer’s beautiful, fairytale treasure of creative genius, “The Land of Stories” books series. She would read passages and chapters from the books to me out loud with such excitement – saying “Mama, I wish I could just dive into the book and live in the story!” She would hand me the book and demand that I read certain pages. She was absolutely taken with this opportunity to escape into this awesome world with fabulous characters and great adventures. What a beautiful thing storytelling is!

Naturally, we had to have the entire book series, making sure to get the next book as soon as it came out. For her birthday back in December, we even framed the book covers to hang in her room. I wish I could personally share with Chris Colfer the joy he helped to create for this precious girl. I just know that he’d be proud and that he’d adore my Mina and her zeal for his fabulous stories!

I have learned to listen to that voice of inspiration, that lightning strike that demands my attention. When a vision repeatedly creeps into my mind and heart, I know I’m supposed to listen and take action. In the case of my recent big production with my honors drama students, I am so thankful that I allowed myself to be guided by my inspiration and let my little muse, my Mina, capture my attention and fill my heart with her excitement. Thanks to her joy for this incredible book series, I let my passion for writing, producing, and directing mold this special creation. I’m ever thankful for my brilliant girl’s love for fabulous stories and for sharing her passions. And I’m still overwhelmed with gratitude at the outcome: the gift of working with such fabulous people and young stars to make my product a successful reality.

All that being said, if you ever feel that glorious wave of inspiration and it overwhelms your heart and mind, go with it! Follow that road of inspiration and let it take you places and make great things happen! Every time I have followed the lead of my inspirations, I’m always thankful that I did.

My prayer, hope and wish for my own children is that they never lose that ability to be taken by something positive and wonderful, and are never fearful to share their joys and inspirations. And I will certainly be forever thankful to my angel girl, Mina, for sharing her passion for Chris Colfer’s awesome books. I hope and pray that she never loses that twinkle in her eyes and her love for great stories!

My Job

By: Brady Evans

I am not sure I’ve ever talked about my job here on the Every Woman Blog.  There’s a few reasons for that.

First – I think Americans over-identify with our careers.  One of a stranger’s first questions is always, “So, what do you do?”  It is understandable.  We’re asked from a very young age what we want to be when we grow up. (How often is that answer actually accurate?  I wanted to be either a swimming instructor or a barber – I am neither.)  We spend thousands of dollars these days on higher education, and besides the money,  we spend years in school under the threat of “you’ll need an education to get a job!”

Flo & Brady

Second – I love my job.  I am thankful that I enjoy it on a daily basis.  My days pass quickly and are filled with laughs.  But I love coming home more than I love going to work.  I love my sweet dog Flo, my delightful horses, my ever-mischievous-cat, and those other two canines that I allow to share Flo’s space (don’t hate me – I chose favorites!).  I love my farm chores and I love cooking and writing.  I love listening to Cat Stevens and Jackson Browne in the evening and watching the nightly news.

The third reason why I suppose I don’t share too much about my job is that everyone is an expert at my job.  Everyone has an opinion of my job.  Everyone believes he has the right to evaluate me at my job – even though no one is actually ever there, watching.  I guess having a taxpayer-funded job brings those sorts of criticisms and perhaps justifiably so. Still, it is hard having this job and having to sit back and smile while you read social media articles full of opinions with no evidence and clearly little background knowledge regarding the subject at hand.

Paper

Have you figured out what I am?  I am your kid’s public school teacher.  And, as someone once put it, everyone thinks he is an expert on teaching because he’s been a student before.  And nearly everyone has an opinion on my job because my salary, meager as it may be, is funded by tax payer monies.  And thus, my job and my effectiveness at it is constantly under the lens.

I’m not here to fight about Common Core State Standards because it is hard to fight with people who are uninformed about the topic at hand.  I won’t fight with my doctor about the pain medication he recommends for an ankle sprain; I’ll just trust that he’s the informed one and is motivated to do his best work to make me feel better.

And I’m not going to fight about whether or not grammar or cursive should be taught or whether it is “important.”  After all, importance is a relative term.  Wasn’t Home Economics important to students growing up in the 50s?  Can we all agree now that knowing how to prepare a casserole or properly iron a collared shirt is less important nowadays?

But what I’d like you, the ones who criticize your child’s teacher and every move she makes, the ones who post your beefs on Facebook regarding every assignment she sends home and every grade that she enters into the grade book, to know is that we love your kids.  We want your kids to be successful.  We do our best to do the most for your kids every day.  And, most importantly, we are all on the same team.