Monday, July 25, 2011

C is for the “Classroom," By Alice Santillan

This piece is by a student who only came to our class for a few weeks. Alice, if you happen to read this, please know that you would be welcome to come back to join us again. ~ Bonnie

          As I considered attending this class, I kept wondering if it was for me. I have had some entertaining and uncomfortable episodes in my life, and wasn’t sure I was ready to write or share them with anyone.
        As I sat in class, listening to everyone express and share their stories, conversations and their great camaraderie, I began to think that the class could be fun for me. Maybe this class would be educating and exciting and maybe I would discover myself! Wouldn’t that be fun!
        The class is composed of both men and women who have shared their anecdotes with us. It was interesting to hear each story. For some, the stories were sad. Others were documentaries. Still others were comedic and I enjoyed them all.
        There have been some stories that have been published so we have a few authentic authors in this class. Imagine that! What a great compliment for these students. Congratulations!
        Our teacher is extremely caring and helps us out readily. She is a very enthusiastic teacher and very well versed. Thank you, Bonnie Mansell. Congratulations to you, too!
        This is my first attempt at writing, so I’m sure it’s not adequate. I have only been in this class twice. I am still learning, of course, and would like to continue, just to see what I can deliver.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

B is for “Bonnie’s Bunch”, By Randy Brandemihl

This short piece is especially poignant because we so recently lost Randy. It is a good reminder that life is short, and we need to cherish our time with those who mean the most to us. ~ Bonnie

When I joined the senior memoir writing class, I found something that had been missing in my life, a group of real and beautiful friends. They were much like a military boot camp, Boy Scout pack, or any group of friends that I’d known in my younger years, who gather together to share and practice their common interests or needs.

But these people were more important because as you grow old, these groups no longer exist for seniors. That’s why this group of friends is special, so special that it is irreplaceable.

We’ve shared our entire life experiences, love, family, heartaches, joy and victories and, yes, on occasion, the loss of one of our own. And, like family, when we must part the pain will be unbearable for us all.

It is for this reason that I’m thankful for every day I spend with this beautiful bunch of friends. . . Bonnie’s Bunch.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A is for “Acceptance,” By Kathy (Kacie) Cooper

Here is the first in a series of ABC stories from our class (after my introduction and Jeanne's overview). I hope you enjoy this delightful story from Kacie. It's such a great expression of who she is and what she has found in our class. You can't help but "love" a line that says, "acceptance actually is love, but it's not as mushy"! ~ Enjoy ~ Bonnie

          Is “Z” the first letter of the alphabet? No. “A” is, and they put it there for a reason. When something is rated excellent, we always go back to the beginning of the alphabet, to that first letter, to that “A.”
        It’s a good system. It wouldn’t sound so good if people found out that the rating for their favorite restaurant was a “Z” because that is the end, the last letter. So it is fitting that “A” is always considered the best, as this class is. Of all the classes I have taken in my lifetime, I would easily give this class an “A” simply because it stands for something which I have been searching for all my life: acceptance, something most people would be grateful for even if they were without “love” because acceptance actually is love, but it’s not as mushy.
        Some folks aspire to be rich and famous. I feel I’m both. Since joining this group I have acquired many wonderful friends and through the telling of my stories I have become famous with this group of encouraging, thoughtful listeners.
        It all began the moment I walked into the class. “Read your story,” our teacher, Bonnie, said, and what a reception I received! At first, I thought my reading would be critiqued, but it wasn’t. I didn’t think that I would improve without it. I have taken several creative writing classes, script writing for T.V. and several English classes. 
       My one creative writing class was identical to Billy Crystal’s Throw Mama from the Train, where everyone was putting each other down for their writing. There was no acceptance in that class. But in this class I have found an abundance of acceptance. Through this acceptance I feel that I am understood. Since signing up for this class I have written more stories than I ever have in my entire life. That acceptance has freed me to be more creative, resourceful, free, aware, inspired, ambitious, artistic, friendly, accepting and oh so very happy.
        One day I read the play I had written for Cerritos College. The people in this class were so receptive to me. They praised me on the voices that I used for the play. They laughed; they marveled; they bragged about me. It felt great.
        Not only do I get my stories written and told, but I end up feeling really good about me: not a bad thing at all!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

ABC's, By Jeanne Seldon

I hope you enjoy this very creative piece which captures the essence of our class in such a fun way!   -- By the way, I love all of these, but I think that "K" may be my favorite. Which one is yours? -- Bonnie

A    Is for awakening as better writers, by writing weekly with a good teacher.
B    Is for belonging to a group of supportive writers.
C    Is for considering new ideas and choosing new topics for writing each week.
D    Is for deciding what we think is important to write about from our lives
E    Is for exploring our thoughts and expressing our ideas through our writing.
F     Is for finding our voice as writers and for expressing our feelings by writing.
G    Is for growing as writers and gaining insights about our lives as we write.
H    Is for hearing the ideas of other writers as they share what they write.
I       Is for inquiring about a variety of ways to approach our writing.
J     Is for the joy of joining a friendly group of supportive fellow writers.
K    Is for kicking ideas around in our heads until we find the best way to write about them.
L     Is for listening to others and gaining feedback about our writing.
M    Is for meeting each week to discuss and share what we write.
N    Is for needing feedback from an audience of writers to help us get better.
O   Is for opening up to others to become more comfortable about our writing.
P     Is for planning what we want to write about next and putting it on paper.
Q    Is for questioning ourselves and each other about our writing.
R     Is for reading and re-reading what we write and revising it to make it better.
S    Is for sharing our writing with others and saving our writing in our memoirs.
T    Is for our terrific teacher who really helps us to think about our writing
U    Is for understanding our lives better by writing about what matters to us.
V     Is for volunteering to share our writing in class without fear of criticism.
W    Is for writing willingly with wisdom about what is important in our lives.
X     Is for eXamining new ideas, strategies, and approaches for writing.
Y     Is for yearning to improve our writing by learning and writing more.
Z     Is for zooming in on our life experiences and writing about them with zest.