- The smell of my fabric softener on my sweatshirt
- Running on the bike trail and how the sun is shining bright
- The pushing and pulling of my relationship with running- Knowing my body remembers how to run and feeling it
- Green trees finally with the swell of a rain filled dip that looks like a creek now
- Groups of men playing Frisbee golf with their special duffel bags
- a lone fisherman trying to escape his work week with the NOTICE: No Swimming sign to his left
- A tan colored German Shepard walking his people
- Wooden benches that invite sitting but no one does
- Wooden fences that provide the illusion of protection
- 2 friends strolling with a baby
It is time for our weekly coffee chat! I am so glad you have joined me today. Today let’s have coffee under the large tree out back. We will have a picnic with bread from the bakery and some cheeses. I will get some of the little fruit tarts for us too.
I am having black coffee. What would you like today?
If we were having coffee, I would tell you my school started state testing this week. It is a new system and a new test, but everything seems to be going smoothly. As a teacher it is never fun to test the kids, but necessary, as it is a mandate.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted the intro meeting to my short story club with a small group of 7th graders. It was amazing and full of interesting conversation and observations. If you missed that post you can read it here.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you Friday I went to my last coaching training for the year with Jim Knight. I am lucky to be offered this training and am grateful. It has not only made me a better coach, but also has brought me closer to the other coaches I work with in the district. I met some people I would have not otherwise met too. Hope was the topic for the day related to being a better leader. I loved this training. There is a great checklist of items for me to focus on for the rest of this year at work and to begin planning for the fall. I wrote about it yesterday.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been exhausted this week. The schedule has been different and I have not been sleeping well. I slept a much needed full night on Friday and am taking the day off and not going anywhere on Saturday. The concept of burning out keeps coming up for me this week too. I have to be careful I do not allow myself to go into that spiral.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I was going to take myself on an artist date on Friday. Do you ever do that thing where at 7am it seems like good idea to plan something then when 3 pm rolls around it doesn’t sound that awesome anymore? Yeah…that is what I did. I was going to take myself to an independent bookstore or a cafe in Chicago before I left the city. I looked up a couple and had chosen The Book Table but I was so tired from the training that I changed my mind. THEN it took me 2 hours to get home when it should have only been an hour. UGH. I am not sure if it was the right choice or not. I felt like my next right thing was to go home and eat and sleep.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.
One are the videos from Julie Duffy about preparations for StoryADay May. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I have been connecting with some of the new members to the Superstars group which has been fun!
A second creative spark is Number 26.
A third creative spark for me are the stories and poems I read this week for my Bradbury Trio.
A fourth creative spark this week is Sarah Selecky’s website. I am really contemplating her short story self guided course.
Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I joined the Superstars group through StoryADay and am excited for a year of support. The prompts are amazing every day in May and then I love the interaction with the writers. Knowing that there is a core group of people in the writing group to chat with once a week is motivating as well. You can still sign up for Superstars before May 1st! You should consider joining us.
Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!
The word hope has come up several times this week. I have learned that if a concept keeps showing itself in different venues then I need to pay attention.
Yesterday was my last session with Jim Knight for instructional coaching training and the topic was being a Better Leader. One of the main concepts was …you guessed it…HOPE.
Shane J. Lopez is a psychologist who has written about hope extensively. His definition is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”
Part of Knight’s training session yesterday was asking the question: How are you living your life? Are you spending time on the things you are passionate about? This idea is how we keep hope alive and partly how we teach ourselves to be hopeful.
At this time of the school year it is easy to dip into the valley of despair and lose hope. I have to keep reminding myself I do the work I do to provide an environment of inspiration and learning for what is best for kids. When you are worried about schedules, state testing, and getting through the day sometimes you forget.
Part of this process is to do the next right thing. If you know where you are going, this isn’t as hard as it seems. Action is what needs to happen.
Knight asked us to think of someone who we thought of as a hope mentor. A person that emanates hope who we can learn from. Having a hope mentor is partly how we can teach ourselves to be hopeful. My person is Maya Angelou. She was open, intelligent, overcame obstacles, and can command a room. She was an amazing woman and I am thankful I was able to hear her speak before she passed away.
What are you most excited about?
Hope is doing more of what makes you happy.
Hope is allowing other people to teach you being hopeful.
Hope is having a hope mentor.
Three Things about Hope
Having hope means you have a preferred future vision. You can visualize it. You have goals.
Having hope means you have the belief you can get here. There is magic here.
Having hope means you have multiple pathways to get to that preferred future.
Some questions to consider and reflect on today:
What gives you energy and therefore hope?
What is your purpose? How do you make a difference?
Am I doing what I really want to do with my time?
What is working and what do I need to modify?
What is your next right thing?
This past week was busy for me. My sleep suffered and I was starting to crash. I was not taking care of myself.
Part of what helped me was 12 hours of sleep and the life giving conversation I had yesterday with my fellow coaches. We made plans to support each other in our hope. These questions are still with me today. I will do some more journaling and thinking as the day moves forward.
I would love to hear your thoughts on HOPE! Comment below…
Every Friday I participate in the Five Minute Friday challenge where I write for 5 minutes using the one word prompt. You can find the linkup to other posts like this one here.
Set the timer for 5 minutes…and….GO!
There are things in this world that touch my heart and give me hope. Usually it is embedded in the words or actions of a child. There is also physical touch that I find comforting usually in the form of hugs.
I always feel better, especially when I am truly connected to someone, when they touch me. It is the casual touch as you pass each other in the kitchen or the hallway. The kisses and hugs goodbye or hello. These moments of affection matter. They keep me grounded and comforted.
Otherwise, I am not a touchy person. I do not trust too many people and find their actions suspicious if it is out of the ordinary. This goes for touches and questions!
I am more of a creature of pattern than I realize sometimes or would like to admit.
Words touch me. The phrasing of something new or words that appear before me that suddenly bring a feeling to the page touches my heart and can make me cry. So can the drive of an athlete accomplishing a goal. Watch the finish line footage of the Ironman or a marathon and you will see what I mean.
True connection and deep conversation touches me in a unique way. I try to appreciate it in the moment and also in the waves of time that comes after.
I am so excited for StoryADay May this year! StoryADay is a writing challenge conducted every May (and September) where you set goals to write short stories.
My personal goal is to write 31 stories – one for each day. I like the routine of writing every day. StoryADay helps me to focus and finish and I am a sucker for a great prompt. I love this quote from Ray Bradbury:
I can be an extreme person, and gladly take on the challenge of one story a day. I often set goals for myself just to see if I can do it. Everyone in the challenge makes their own goals though! My stories will be drafts and I will revise my favorites later. StoryADay gives me the opportunity to play with different forms of story. I also will use my Bradbury Trio reading to help me structure and inspire my stories for the month.
I am excited about the Superstars program this year too! The community has been invaluable to my process and keeping me on track. I write anyway, but it is special to be part of a group. Just like I don’t need to be reminded to eat everyday, I don’t need reminders to write every day. But on the days I am struggling, it is nice to have a group to go to for encouragement at any time of the day. I also love to talk about writing and the video hangout meetings and the Slack channel really lends itself to this daily conversation.
Click here to watch and listen to a great video from Julie about the history of the challenge and your opportunity to move to the next level of your own writing.
The challenge itself is free at storyaday.org but the community is a year long support.
Hope to see you in the comments!
Yesterday I hosted the introductory meeting of the Short Story Club for my 7th graders. It is a small group that is focusing on deep conversation about stories and time to write in response to them. After listening to Daniel Bauer’s School Leadership Series podcast I may have them name themselves. I would be curious where their minds would go as a label.
I handed out a copy of the Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is an interesting author who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, but did not have a pleasant experience. She also sometimes calls her stories, “buttons”.
Many of the students had read this story previously so this was a revisit. I asked them to read it through the lens of a writer. I wanted them to pay attention and notice particular things for them to purposefully use later.
- What pops out to you in feelings from reading this selection?
- What lines do you notice that you like or wish you had written?
- What craft moves is the author using that you would like to try?
- What aspects of your own life does the story remind you of?
I allowed them to annotate on their copy, and I followed suit with mine.
The discussion then followed after reading time, focusing on the above questions.
Noticings from students:
- The details. It was noticed and remarked that the story has the structure of being taken apart and then put together again with added details.
- The metaphors. There were trite metaphors used referring to onions and rings inside a tree trunk in paragraph 3. These examples caused quite strong opinions. There were mixed feelings about using familiar metaphors as opposed to new ones. The unfamiliar seemed to unsettle several writers. They said a mix of familiar and unfamiliar was the perfect mix for them as readers. They also remarked that unsettling new metaphors were best in stories where you were trying to conjure those feelings – like in a scary story.
I also asked them to share what they would write (if we had time). If they were to give themselves a prompt based on the story. What did it inspire them to write?
The responses were a mix of expected and not. Milestone ages were one topic for several students but not traditional in my eyes. One student talked about being old enough to ride his moped to school (15 1/2 years old). Quinceaneras at 15 were also discussed.
Not feeling the age you are was a common writing topic as well.
For next time I gave them a longer piece to read and mark with the same noticings: The Doormakers Will Make No Doors .
I also gave them the poem, Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye.
I am always looking for great short stories! Is there a suggestion you have for me? Leave the title in the comments and I would appreciate it.
We spent Sunday at the Dunes National Park and it was a beautiful day in all aspects. There was no huge dinner. We grilled burgers and dogs over a fire and it was perfect.
We played bags under the trees, listened to music, and laughed a lot like we always do.
Pickles were called “green water sticks” and the phrase “your math is not tricking me” were uttered.
My daughter and I went for a hike and climbed a large dune at the end of the section of the trails called the Ridge. I have run it many times. The view from that high is breathtaking. there is something amazing about being that high you are at the tops of the trees when a few minutes before you were walking at the base of the same trees.
It was the perfect Easter.
I am thrilled to be featured on the StoryADay website today! Check out my interview here.
Today let’s have coffee at the table, in the bump out of the little bookstore downtown. We can chat and watch the people go by. There is a bakery across the street so I will pick out a couple croissants for us. They have some delicious chocolate ones that will go perfectly with our elixir.
I am having black coffee. What would you like from the cafe barista?
While we are having coffee I will tell you about the video meeting with my writing group I had Wednesday night. It was life giving and motivating. I love these writers and it is easy for me to set up these times.
While we are having coffee, I will tell you about the relief of knowing my car is fixed. I don’t like dealing with the bill but there is more relief than I anticipated as I drive every day.
While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.
One is the video from Julie Duffy about getting ready for StoryADay May. I encourage you if you want a boost to your writing life to participate in the challenge this year. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I choose to write a story a day but you can write 4 or choose days to write. You can check out her cool video here.
Another creative spark is the short story Saint Bus Driver by J.E. McCafferty.
There are such great lines in this story. The discussion on Literary Roadhouse was fun too. It has stayed with me and I keep thinking about it. If you read it later and would like to talk about it please let me know!
A third creative spark for me was perfect for April being poetry month. Billy Collins has created a Masterclass and I found it this week. I have made it through 13 of the 20 lessons! He is joyful to listen to. I use his poems a lot for use with kids. They are straightforward. It is inspiring to listen to him talk about writing technique. I am always learning!
A fourth creative spark this week is the Pink Full Moon.
Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another. I think before we leave we should wander the stacks and find at least one book to recommend to each other.
While we are having coffee I will tell you I wrote everyday. I sent a story to a contest. I am getting mentally ready for storyaday May and excited about it. I tend to binge listen to the StoryADay podcast right before! There are lots of prompts and Julie’s voice is nice to listen to. Lots of notes go into Google Keep so I can write about them later.
While we are having coffee I will tell you I read some great short stories this week. I am trying to be more diligent about logging my reading but find it cumbersome. I found a new to me flash fiction author, Meg Pokrass who I am enjoying. She was recommended by Amber Sparks who is a wonderful short story writer herself.
While we are having coffee, I will tell you I feel like there are lots of decisions that are hiding around the corner from me. I am trying not to worry myself but there is something coming. It is not good nor bad, it will just be, but I can feel it looming! I am thankful for having The Next Right Thing book to help me navigate though. It brings me joy and focus. I am hoping to participate in a book club with this title soon. My next right thing now is to publish this post!
While we are having coffee, I would tell you our teaming consultant visited this week and was wonderful. The meetings with him, my writer video meeting, and some great short stories has refueled my passion for my Inner Circle Gathering Idea. I believe I can pull it off online. The first ones are being planned to use a short story and some activities surrounding the text and then doing some writing exercises as well. Let me know in the comments or a message to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!