Root Where You Are Planted #SOL19

Melody Warnick wrote a book called, This Is Where You Belong. She has a great newsletter you should sign up for too!

The book is about loving the place you live in and action steps to help you if you don’t. I currently am struggling with feeling disconnected and not in the right place. I read Melody’s book awhile ago and recently recommended it to someone who was feeling displaced herself which then became a self reflection that I needed my own advice.

I asked some fellow writers how they feel about where they live since I am not really loving where I am currently.

They said:

“I have roots in this place…it is part of me.”

“I love where I live…where I live now is where I feel I am meant to be.”

Another said her family farm makes it feel like it is part of her DNA.

I do not feel this way about where I live even though my town is next the town I grew up in. That might be because I have moved too many times over the past 5 years. Or that I have only been in my house since last September. Or that I still cannot walk around in my house in the dark. Or that there are some memories of the area that torment me. I am glad my friends are rooted in their homes.

I am a woman of action, so I have pulled out Melody’s list to work through this issue and see if I can make a change.

To Become Rooted:

  1. Walk more – this I try to do as much as possible. The kids and I go for walks, we have walked downtown, and I walk and run on the local bike trail. The town does not lend itself to walking anywhere as a destination, at least from the house.
  2. Buy local – this we do. We shop at the stores that are near us. The grocery store closest to us does not have the freshest product so we had to do more of the shopping across town. The local farm markets are opening soon and we will buy veggies from them instead of planting our own garden this year. This is a future endeavor.
  3. Get to Know Neighbors – my husband is better than I am at this. We do know them, and they have helped us out.
  4. Do Fun Stuff – We have gone to the library, the local cafe and the used bookstore. We do need to explore some of the restaurants downtown.
  5. Explore nature – the bike trail..I need to research if there are more parks that I am not aware of.
  6. Volunteer – I have not done this.
  7. Eat local – we like our local pizza place but we have some more exploring to do. Once festivals start we can explore that way too.
  8. Become more political – this one I have more issue with. I am not sure how I feel about it honestly right now.
  9. Create something new – I am always writing but will have to reflect about what this means connected to my town.
  10. Stay local through hard times – it is hard to abandon the town now even though I will admit my husband and I talk about this often. I will have to stop myself.

So I was thinking, does this same list of 10 apply to schools? Can using this same list meant for living in a town provided the same feeling of rooted-ness in a school atmosphere.

  1. I can walk more and interact with teachers in the building especially ones I do not talk to as often.
  2. I can buy from fundraisers and the 8th grade t shirt and spirit wear. It shows a person plans to stay if they buy the clothing with the school name.
  3. I can get to know the people in the classrooms next to my space.
  4. DO FUN STUFF – this we do not do nearly as often as we should. I need to plan some FUN at school.
  5. Explore nature is pretty easy at my school – we have a 100 acre wood and trails!
  6. Volunteer – I need to volunteer more for sporting events next year.
  7. Eat school lunch? Hmmmm, maybe not. Break bread with co workers – much more doable. Maybe I should organize a carry in and then we hit #7 and #4.
  8. Become more political – same as above. I do believe this causes more problems than solves…
  9. I created Workshop Wednesday, Short Story Club, and Genius Hour.
  10. Stay when times get tough. No explanation needed here – it applies.

How do you feel about this list? Do you have other ideas for feeling part of your town or school?

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10 Things I Noticed on My Run

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  1. The smell of my fabric softener on my sweatshirt
  2. Running on the bike trail and how the sun is shining bright
  3. The pushing and pulling of my relationship with running- Knowing my body remembers how to run and feeling it
  4. Green trees finally with the swell of a rain filled dip that looks like a creek now
  5. Groups of men playing Frisbee golf with their special duffel bags
  6. a lone fisherman trying to escape his work week with the NOTICE: No Swimming sign to his left
  7. A tan colored German Shepard walking his people
  8. Wooden benches that invite sitting but no one does
  9. Wooden fences that provide the illusion of protection
  10. 2 friends strolling with a baby

Weekend Coffee Share – Last April Sunday

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.

StoryADay

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!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

3+ Ideas about Hope

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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…

#FMF Touch

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.

StoryADay May is almost here!

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:

Image result for bradbury short story quote

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.

Image result for bradbury short story quote

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!

Short Story Club

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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.
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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.

We will use these pieces to write the next time we meet. A companion poem I like to use with the Eleven story is Billy Collin’s On Turning Ten poem.

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.

Non-Traditional #SOL19

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.