#FMF Next

I participate in Five Minute Friday. Set the timer for 5 minutes and freewrite with the word provided. Find the link up here.

Set the timer and GO!

As I read the information about the prompt this week on the site I immediately thought of my work with Emily P. Freeman’s book The Next Right Thing. If you follow my blog, you know I love this book and have been reflecting through it since the beginning of the month. Each chapter is highlight by Emily on Instagram.

The idea of #mynextrightthing has been on my mind for quite awhile. It is a decision making process that makes sense especially in the sense of overwhelm. I can figure out what to do next, even if it is little like take a shower, or make a sandwich, or breath. I have been through trauma that had me feeling like I was trying to make it through the minute, not the day. I don’t remember exactly when I found the podcast The Next Right Thing but I know that it spoke to me. Emily’s voice is amazing if you haven’t listened to her either. I am thankful Emily is in my life this way.

There are lots of circumstances in this world that do not make sense to me. I used to be able to make a decision pretty quickly. This was at a time where my perception was that “Everything was gonna work out.” I have made some decisions which led to more obstacles as time went on and now I second guess as to if I will make the wrong decision. I have people relying on me and cannot afford to make any more mistakes than I have to. I will continue to make mistakes but try to be as informed as possible!

My next right thing right now is to keep writing. I will interact with my writing people this morning and my family this afternoon. Another next thing is to be open to opportunities and appreciate the moments I am in. The amount of next right things I get to choose are not guaranteed.

If you have not read Emily’s book I urge you to get a copy. It will be given as a gift from me several times this year! You can find it here.

Celebrate #poeminyourpocket Day!

Image result for poem in your pocket day 2019

Today is National Poem in your Pocket Day! Here is my favorite poem for you:

I made copies and have been passing them around to teachers and students today. I am taking a friend for lunch for her birthday and will hand them out in the restaurant too!

How will you celebrate poems today?

3 Question Wednesday

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I would want to have dinner with my Oma and Opa and my husband’s grandparents, Frank and Gert. No question!

Neil Gaiman would be my choice if I had to choose someone alive.

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2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

No. I want my writing to be famous, but not personally famous. I wouldn’t want paparazzi to follow me around.

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

Yes. I am afraid to be caught without knowing what to say. I will plan and rehearse for hours for a 10 minute or less phone call.

Feel free to answer the questions in the comments!

Stay #SOL19

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It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers with a weekly Slice of Life Story.

Today’s Emily P. Freeman word is STAY.

STAY today refers to being in the present moment. You can only be in one place at a time. I suppose this is mostly true. As a writer, I am physically only in one place at a time, but mentally I am usually somewhere else. This is sometimes in one of my own story creations. Sometimes I am in a memory mining it for details that will add panache to the story I am working on.

When I am reading I am in the character’s head feeling and thinking what they are, often trying to anticipate their next move. Or I am trying to figure out the craft moves the writer made to have me feel the way I do about a character, setting, or story line so I can use it later.

I find it difficult to be in the moment. I am working on it. I know I should do one thing at a time but there is so much to learn. Everyone I meet has something I don’t know.

I have been tired lately. More tired than I should be. Last night I watched the movie The Professor and the Madman which my husband and I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint. It is the story of how the Oxford dictionary came to be. It took extraordinary dedication and focus to have this book come to fruition. 70 years from the first conception in fact. Dr. Minor was meticulous in his mad state about the history and definition of words. He was in the moment for sure – for long stretches of time. I kept thinking of how much energy was put into this project and how many obstacles everyone had to overcome.

I am trying to find the right ratio of input vs output without driving myself mad. I love input of all sorts – deep conversation, reading, podcasts, etc. Outputs are likely interactions and writing lately. I know I have not found the right ratio when I am angry or overly tired.

Reflection and slowing down are both critical attributes for this process. I am glad that today I can breathe and think about it.

#makethelist

Inspired by Emily P Freeman and her Instagram challenge. Day 9 – Make the List. The task is to make a list of what is Life Draining vs what is Life Giving.

Currently my life draining list is

  1. a too heavily scheduled week
  2. too many late days in a row
  3. interrupted sleep
  4. dealing with toxic people I cannot get rid of

Life Giving List

  1. writing
  2. reading
  3. deep conversations with my writing friends
  4. typically exercise, but not this week
  5. laughing and time with my husband
  6. laughing and time with my kids
  7. time in the sun
  8. time with the trees

What is on your list?

Mentor Text Monday

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Today’s Mentor Text is a picture book from Jacqueline Woodson.

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This is the summary from Google Books:
The story of one family’s journey north during the great Migration starts with a little girl in South Carolina who finds a rope under a tree one summer. She has no idea the rope will become part of her family’s history. But for three generations, that rope is passed down, used for everything from jump rope games to tying suitcases onto the car for the big move north to New York City, and even for a family reunion where that first little girl is now a grandmother.

After I use this book for interactive read aloud the discussion leads to sharing about items in our lives that are important to us. These items have stories attached to them. The book centers around one item. This is also a good time to talk about focusing on one idea for a story if your students are trying to squeeze too much into one piece.

One of the coaching questions I am starting to use is “Which 3 stories are ones only you can tell?” Stories are important to our lives and items can be touchstones to tell those stories. I love this book to illustrate the idea of an item being a souvenir for a chapter of our own lives.

After the group discussion I have students write 3 items that are important to them on a post it note or in their writing notebook. Then the students star one item that are willing to share. I will tell the students that starring and sharing does not lock them in to writing about that one during creation time.

Then we share out. I tell students that they may add or modify their list based on the discussion. Often when writers talk new ideas spring forth. We get reminded of something important. We need to teach students to take advantage of these sunny writing moments. The shared items are written on a chart so it is accessible to students during writing time.

We also talk about what they notice about the structure of how Woodson chose to write the book. We also talk about why she chose to use the repeated phrase. Noticing author moves is important to the writing process but we also have to make sure as the teacher we lead them to make the connections back to their own writing. To understand why an author chose to use a certain craft device also eliminates the need for students to throw everything they know about craft moves into one piece. It is much more effective for them to know WHY as the author they are choosing the way to write it. Connectons to other books we have read that have repeated phrasing is good to add here as well.

Woodson uses the repeated sentence stem: This is the rope at the beginning of almost every paragraph throughout the book, which is a great structure to start with especially with reluctant writers.

Writing Springboards from this book:

  1. Use a repeated sentence stem: This is the __________ (insert important item for each student)
  2. Brainstorm stories which go along with the 3 items the student has chosen.
  3. Write a poem or their own children’s book about their most important item.

Companion book: Another book that follows a repeated pattern is The Important Book. It is written in poem form and is a good mentor text as well.

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Weekend Coffee Share – April 14

Today we are having coffee in a gazebo overlooking the mountains with the sun shining in on us just right. There is a stream that is rushing by us and we can see elk in the distance. The air is crisp and sweet. It is the perfect Sunday morning.

I am having black coffee and just brewed a fresh pot. I have some add ins today for you if you like -some chocolate or some butterscotch. Even some whipped cream!

If we were having coffee I would tell you it seems unbelievable that I was on Spring Break last week. It turned out to be a week of long days in a row which made it seem longer. Monday though Wednesday I didn’t get home til after 9 each night which is unusual, especially three days in a row.

If we were having coffee I would tell you it was nice to get back into the swing of things at work again. I was able to work with some students this week in an English class which always makes me happy. The thinking that was happening was unexpected and out of the box. The discussion centered around analyzing digital and printed text with some reliable articles by Higher Ed and American Scholar .

If we were having coffee I would tell you I attended my IRL writing group holiday party Wednesday. It was postponed from Christmas time due to some medical issues. There were about 40 people there. There was a dinner, book exchange, door prizes, and social time.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? Mine needs warmed up. Do you need another napkin, or a glass of water? I am not ready for our conversation to end!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I had my beta reader look over two stories for me. They are truthful stories, but deal with sensitive issues so I am not sure where I am going to take them next. They are not appropriate for my IRL group. I am scoping out a writer group in Chicago. They have author talks, readings, writing meetings, and critique meetings which appeals to me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my Bradbury Trio is still going strong. I received my Sarah Selecky story collection in the mail so I am excited to read her stories. Sara Batkie’s collection is on its way too. Sara I learned about from the Drunken Odyssey podcast which I was listening to on my run in the Dunes on Monday. Essays I think I am going to start looking at NPR. Do you have any suggestions?

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had to take my car in for repairs on Friday. This process always makes me extremely nervous and I usually put it off way too long. I found a great garage and the actual problem only cost a little over $300. The other things I added on were needed but not emergency so at least it was a choice. The car has been all over the country and we love her dearly! I want her to run for a long time so some belts needed changed and a tune up and transmission fluid change was necessary. She is running well again and I feel safer.

If we were having coffee I would tell you last week I said would pull some coaching materials together in a more formal way. I have started with some forms and pushed one out to a teacher. I also sent out the email about a mini coaching cycle. I like the idea of thinking about coaching as having deep conversations that I crave.

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.

4 Things

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Todd Henry is the author of several books and is also known as the Accidental Creative. He has a podcast by that name. I receive his newsletter which is interesting and full of creative thought.

The most recent newsletter is about 4 things which has inspired this post today.

1:A THING TO CONSIDER

Disappearing is not the same as being lost.

When something is lost it is accidental. When you disappear it is intentional. I must admit one of my coping mechanisms is to withdraw. I am learning this is partly because I find people draining if I spend too much time with them – even people I like.

I have been reading a fascinating How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency by Akiko Busch. I heard about it on the Secret Library Podcast by Caroline Donahue. The latest part of the book I was reading was about invisibility and how children have imaginary friends and why. Really interesting stuff.

1:A THING TO READ

How to Be An Idea Machine by James Altucher

I came to find this book through Shaunta Grimes. Part of her daily process is to come up with 10 ideas for writing, which I have adopted myself. Usually my list consists of random thoughts that might make their way into a story or overhead dialogue ,etc. After reading one her Medium posts yesterday I remembered I had Altucher’s book on my kindle.

The question I worked with was: Which 10 people would you choose as mentors and what question you would ask them? It was really difficult! I am curious you would choose as mentors for yourself. The specific questions stumped me as well. I really had to consider why I wanted that person as a mentor first.

1:A THING TO WATCH

Black Mirror Bandersnatch on Netflix – This episode is like a choose your own adventure book from my youth but in movie form. I had heard of Black Mirrors but had not watched it up til this past week. As the consumer, you actually make choices on the screen for how the story will progress. It was fascinating. If you like the Matrix I believe you would like this episode.

1:A THING TO USE

Pretty composition notebooks. I really love these notebooks and have been filling them with my daily writing, reflections, and writing exercises.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Studio-C-Dragonfly-Dreams-Lay-Flat-Composition-Book-FSC/691089325

Feel free to tell me your 4 things, a mentor and or a question you would ask a mentor! I am curious.

#FMF LACK

Every Friday I participate in the FiveOnFriday challenge. You can link here.

I set the timer for 5 minutes and write:

What do I lack? Currently, I feel I lack peace and direction, but I am working on it. I am so reflective that I always know where I am emotionally lacking I just don’t always know how to fix it so I put my head down and focus on the task or obsession that I am engaged in at the moment. Now it is writing. I want to be the best I can be. I read about it. I do it . I try to find mentors to help me IRL or in the pages of books and blogs. I have my Emily P Freeman book about decision making which is helping tremendously.

I do lack directions of what I want to do. The amount of obstacles and out of nowhere hits have been I want to be at home. I want to write all the time. I know it is not a bad thing for a writer to have a day job. I like most of the people I work with and I do like the work that is required in my actual job description. I am reframing it at the moment to get more out of it personally as well. It works for the job aspect but is more fulfilling. I am coaching myself and streamlining my processes to be more consistent and that helps everyone.

I do not lack in love. The relationship I have with my husband is awesome and as perfect as it can be. It really is fairy tale like.

The relationships I have with all my children are unique to them and I love them dearly and would do anything for any of the 4.

The friendships I have IRL and online are strong. I nurture the ones that are mutually life giving and make me happy. I am looking forward to storyaday May next month when there is group writing every day and there is daily interaction with other writers. THAT makes me giddy.

Happy Writing Everyone!