#FMF Observant

observant

Every Friday I write for 5 minutes using Kate’s Prompt. You can find her here.

Sometimes I post my words.

Observant: Set the timer and GO

When am I observant? Always. I am always looking for details and patterns. It is the way I am designed. I love the nuance of people, even though I struggle with the time I am around them sometimes. I am continually making notes and saving them for later. I have notebooks of saved ponderings. Sometimes I have done since I can remember. I record how people speak and stand. I notice how the lists come out and in what order. I log the taste of coffee and how close cars get to me on my daily walks. I think about the scratch of the pen and how a student chose Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in class the day before.

Lately I have been observing myself. Examining why I react now at 46 how I do. Some behaviors I have traced back to single digit ages. I am suspicious of compliments and questions that have no context.

I am observant of dreams. A new process brought to me that I am unpacking the symbols and what associations I have. I observe to construct my own understanding.

I have been observing that I am processing out loud much more often than normal. Is this partly because of the pandemic? I am uncertain yet. I will keep observing and see what emerges.

After all, I can’t help myself.

#IWSG February

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere? The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise – Fundy Blue ,Jennifer Lane,Mary Aalgaard,Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

I have made friends through blogging at an arm’s length. I recognize their names in comments and feeds which is a comfort. There are many friends online that I would consider closer than in real life friends but I am not certain I would classify them as “blogging” friends. Some of them I have met through other communities and they have become readers of the blog or the newsletter.

I am so lucky to have found the writing circle I have. I have people I talk writing in general with, friends I exchange work with, and others that I have a kindred spirit relationship with. I am so grateful for the variety of writers in my circle.

I also have many friends who are readers and not writers which is a whole other relationship. They are all special and valuable to me.

#happyreading #happywriting

#FMF A Love Letter to #Time

Dear Time,

I meant to write this letter yesterday, but I ran out of you. Our relationship is so complicated. You are a human design constraint, but hard to escape when my body craves the cycles of the moon and the seasons.

Not only are there boundaries of seconds, minutes and hours to lead me like a horse through my day but then there are rules about what you are allowed to do and when.

In the mornings, you are supposed to be on time to wherever you are scheduled to report and there are morning beverages on the approved list. There are things you are not supposed to eat or drink in the evenings either. I don’t tend to follow these rules, but they are there.

There is no changing of the to do list after a certain time in the day. You can skip lunch and scroll through Instagram but don’t leave the building early.

Yesterday, there wasn’t enough of you. I had talks by Cheryl Strayed, Ada Limon, Sabrina Ward Harrison, KK, Tony Robbins, and the Quench collective that felt like there were on all at once. I needed to be able to listen with both ears separately and reflect and write simultaneously.

I wanted to write my daily prompt, this letter, the senses writing program activity but had other obligations that put money in my bank account. I made notes in my journal all day, but it wasn’t the same. The time I wanted was a creative bubble that was only interrupted by coffee refills and walks.

You have played tricks on me all week. The work day went fast and then the evenings went slow but you know that you make me weary and the writing comes slow in the night. My energy seems tied to you and the numbers that represent.

Yesterday was a great day in spite of these issues. My morning boys were fun and formed a writing group suddenly giving feedback and chatting during writing time. Talking cats will bring that out.

Dinner was amazing too.

I still love you.

Love,

Tammy

#IWSG January

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books? The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren ,J Lenni Dorner,Gwen GardnerSandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

It seems to vary according to the story of what takes me out but a fairly quick answer. Sometimes it is a strange reference that doesn’t quite fit in my mind or a repeated phrase that is not powerful in the way the writer intended.

An editing mishap will take me out of the story most times.

If there is too much exhibition, especially in a short work. Repeated explanation that is unnecessary.

If it is not holding my attention and I am not compelled to read past the first couple of pages then I usually will stop. I may try again, but most likely not. It might just be that I thought the book was about one thing and was about another.

I love when there are lines that sparkle to me that I have to stop reading and write down immediately!

Just like I feel I can learn something from anyone I meet I feel that way about books as well. There is also something new to uncover.

#happyreading #happywriting

End of Year Thoughts #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

I have chosen to focus on the blessings of 2020 rather than the alternative.

Reframing is a skill I learned more about from Teach Like a Champion in education that I have applied in all areas of my life. During 2020 I trained with Tony Robbins and Karissa Kouchis and came back to the idea that my life happens for me and not to me. I have had this attitude most of my life but 2015-2019 were some rough years for me when I forgot.

Yes, there has been challenges and death in my life. I have learned to pivot even faster than I had in the past.

We are down to 3 days left in 2020. I have 3 more writing prompts to publish til the end of my #100writingpromptsproject. I have been joyously planning my next projects all this week on my walks.

2020 was the year of the pivot. I had to learn more about virtual teaching but had confidence going in. Most of my best friendships are with people I have never spent time with in real life. I know that strong relationships and learning can happen on Zoom because it was already part of my life. I also have participated in so many free or low cost writing classes over 2020 because of the generosity of teachers all over the world. Taking what I learn from these experiences and applied to my every day teaching makes me happier.

I learned from people around me. I went to Unleash the Power Within from Tony Robbins in July which was online for the first time. Tony Robbins at first didn’t think it was possible to do his events on Zoom but guess what? He figured it out. (He also built an incredible stage to run it from but that is another story.)

It is a whole different kind of exhaustion to be in front of a computer all day while teaching and attending meetings – this is a fact. It is also a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. There are advantages to teaching online – my kids know their sight words better than any other year. They are more focused during lessons because they are watching me on the screen and they feel like I am talking right to them.

My word of the year came to me and I tried to ignore it for awhile but it persisted and won. My word for 2021 is PUSH. I have lots of plans (and secret plots) brewing already for the new year. There is a certain ceremony for the changing of the month and the year – especially in kindergarten! It is a fresh start and exciting.

There are a lot of things I am going to let go of this year. I have been hanging onto to them for so long and it is time.

I am also going to be open and allow things to come into my life. I have goals and intentions of course but sometimes things come into our life in a much different way than expected – and sometimes that is even better.

Building my own circle of people I associate consistently with is a focus of mine this year. I am always learning from life giving conversation and have to create these experiences in a different way now! I am beginning my PUSH groups on January 4th (which are FREE!). The first one is on journaling and if you would like to join in the fun and learn 3 ways I journal to better writing then please click here.

Everything I have learned has brought me to right here. It is a good place to be!

Tuesday Walking Thoughts #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

We are down to 9 days left in 2020. I have 9 more writing prompts to publish til the end of my #100writingpromptsproject. I can hardly believe it or how fun it has been!

One of the delights of winter break is that I can take my walks in the morning, which means sunshine. My body prefers to walk in the morning rather than after school. Today I walked 13 miles and was positively giddy about it.

I listened to the MFA Podcast which I love about writing (A new episode came out today.) I did a Tara Brach meditation. I made notes about writing.

But I also thought about my grandmother and some complicated feelings around her and current circumstances. Grief and lost things were on my mind too. It is always surprising to me when there is a domino effect of memory. One leads to the next like a “if you read this you’ll like this” list. Or a recommended list from the memory before. This ripple can send me into a spiral of not pleasant memories fast. A thought of a loss falls into another one and into another.

In addition to this memory parade, I have been dealing with other pain. Physical pain is not something I typically have to deal with even when I was a long distance runner. Lately, I start my walks with my muscles all balled up and it can take two miles before I feel my body relax.

On a different note, on my mind today was also a writing prompt that stuck with me about a desk and an egg metaphor. I reflected on the year and how I can use what I know to help others or save them time.

I learned about Chalene Johnson’s tradition of 10 envelopes. Her family writes letters and includes a monetary gift in an envelope and then hands them to strangers on an outing for the purpose of distribution. They hand the envelopes to people with the phrase: Here is a gift for you, Merry Christmas. In November in years past I have had students write anonymous letters to adults in the school thanking them for something specific. I have been the anonymous gift fairy. This 10 envelope idea intrigues me and I plan to make it my own.

I am thankful for the time and less obligations this week. I will continue to carve out time to read and write and simply rest.

Also, my flash story was published in Gone Lawn yesterday. Click here to read it. One of the most influential teachers was my orchestra director who taught me from 6th grade to 12th. This (mostly) true story was inspired by him and my love of music.

What are you thinking today?

Wrap Up #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 16 days left in 2020 which means I have 16 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 16 days?

Today’s Prompt

This month I hosted a Bradbury Trio Challenge. For people who signed up, I sent 5 days of emails that curated a list of a short story, a poem, and an essay. Ray Bradbury talked about reading as a way to fuel your writing. In order to write better you needed to read every night for 1,000 nights.

It was a popular challenge and it was fun for me to pull together. I was able to share some of my favorite pieces with others. Searching for the things to read can be more time consuming than the reading time some days!

As a wrap up for the challenge I had a Zoom meeting to discuss the challenge. This call was life giving conversation and I am so glad I hosted it! There was a variety of responses to the challenge. Some people read more than others , which was to be expected with the time of year and state of the world. Everyone noticed different things.

One writer used a line from a poem to writer her own story.

One writer found a collection of short stories she would have not read before.

One writer analyzed what she liked to read and how that showed up in her writing.

One writer admitted that if I had not hand selected one of the stories she would have never read it all the way through. She did and ended up loving the story!

They all gave me great suggestions on how to move forward with the next version of the trio I create.

This call was just what I needed yesterday. A conversation connecting reading and writing and how I could help was what I needed on a Monday evening.

I also had books delivered yesterday which was an added bonus!

Currently, I am reading The All Night Sun by Diane Zinna

The All-Night Sun: A Novel by [Diane Zinna]

I also have Wild Milk by Sabrine Orah Mark

Wild Milk by [Sabrina Mark]

The 2021 Best American Short Stories and my Book of the Month December selection

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

I am set for reading for at least a week! HA! Good thing holiday break is coming up.

What are you reading?

How Are You Feeling? #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 23 days left in 2020 which means I have 23 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 23 days?

How are you feeling? is a question I don’t like very much. Honestly, I am not sure I am always sure how to answer. I have learned to suppress and ignore my feelings all my life. My brain works at a high rate of speed and often I have many emotions at once and sometimes they conflict. That fact also makes it hard to answer what seems like a simple inquiry that we SHOULD know the answer to.

As I was walking this week I revisited the podcast Just the Right Book. I had to stop listening to reading podcasts because my TBR got so out of control it was overwhelming. I came upon an episode about the book Permission to Feel by a Yale professor.

Many people I have been learning from over the last year about emotions say, “Honor your feelings” “Feel them.” “All emotions are ok.”

Yes, in theory.

But tell someone you are close to you are sad and they will tell you that you shouldnt be.

Or tell someone you are upset and someone will defend the others actions to try to talk you out of it.

No wonder we don’t know how we feel.

When I was upset as a child, I was often offered ice cream. Someone’s situation was always worse so I got the feeling I didn’t have the right to feel that way. It wasn’t all the time but the stories started forming early about how to deal with emotions or rather NOT deal with them.

So as a teacher, I have to be careful to honor the feelings of my little people. They don’t have to be happy all the time – nor is that realistic. Sometimes they are angry. But I have to give space for them to be able to talk to them about it. I do breathing and sharing at the start of every class and yesterday I added the question, How are you feeling?

I am looking forward to reading more about this research and being able to react to the answers to this question in a smarter way but honoring they have feelings and giving them space to express them is a good start.

I feel like this book came to me at just the right time on my journey and I am thankful. Maybe I will learn not to detest this question after all!

How do you feel about this question? And is your usual answer, “Fine”?

#IWSG December

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why? The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia,Sylvia Ney,Liesbet @ Roaming AboutCathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

There are two seasons of writing for me that I have recognized. NICOLE GULOTTA talks about seasons of writing in her book Wild Words. My seasons are creation and revision. I will create until I pile up enough words that I feel that I have to do something with it. It is a system based on feeling.

I am inspired all the time but I have set up my writing life for me to be open to ideas to flow to me. Lines get added to the everything notebook and the notes app all the time. I feel like I have a writing antennae that is always on alert. I read and use other’s words to fuel my own. The children I come in contact during the week also get my brain moving because they see patterns others don’t. I also seek out poems. My inbox is also set up for me to be productive. I subscribe to poem of the day newsletters so there is always quality items to read there. Yesterday I got the alert that my issue of The Paris Review was ready to download and was thrilled to read in-between obligations.

At first I thought deadlines made me more productive but it is the routines I have set up in my writing practice. I decided to write every day. I decided I will post to my blog every Tuesday and the first Wednesday of the new month. So I do.

I have a writing community I am responsible to so I write and produce when I need to share. This has made me a better writer for sure.

Last summer I had an ideal writing schedule set up. I would write, walk, nap and then write again. The move and the pandemic required me to adjust this schedule. I am now back in a new routine where I am writing over 2750 words a day across the projects and I am happy and moving in the right direction!

Avoidance of I #SOL20

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Every week on Llama Tuesday I write a blog post and share it on the Two Writing Teachers blog. Then I comment on at least 3 other posts.

Here are the rules:

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

There are 31 days left in 2020 which means I have 31 more writing prompts to publish. Do you have plans for the last 31 days?

I sit in my living room getting prepared to go to the building to work by the light of the Christmas tree.

Yesterday I had a writing conversation with a friend and we were talking about craft. I read a piece yesterday that started too many sentences that began with “I”. It was distracting and took me out of the piece.

All the years I have taught, I have loved to teach writing. I am sure it had something to do with the fact that deep down I want to be a full time writer but that was not an acceptable career choice in my family. I figured that teaching writing was the next best thing.

Teaching kindergarteners to write is a amazing because they have little prior experience.

One of the things I do is avoid having my K student write sentences that begin with “I”. What ends up happening is that later when they are writing more you get pages of “I” statements.

I like dogs.

I like to swim.

I love my mom.

It sounds all the same.

Sentence fluency is something I start with so that is the skill that becomes the habit and not the list of I statements that I would have to try to break later. As often as we can, our shared writing sentences begin with any other word.

Yesterday we learned the sight word GO so the sentences we wrote were:

We go camping. and

We go outside.

Details now are in the illustrations where lots of academic feedback is given. I have also taught them how to give feedback to each other. They discuss what they are writing outloud and then cues are picked up by other students.

In my live class you will often hear: “W. said he is adding a sun. I think that is a good idea and am adding one too.”

or

“I like the way A. added details to his butterfly. I am adding some to mine. He reminded me.”

Of course, one of my favorite questions is: Is it time for writing YET?

What have you noticed about teaching writing this year? I would love to hear in the comments.