Winter Outing #SOL19


Two Writing Teachers run the Slice of Life tag ever Tuesday, where readers and writers are encouraged to write and share something about their life or day. You can check out the tag here.

On this past snowy, windy, winter Saturday my hubby and I went to a local used bookstore and a Harry Potter inspired cafe in the little downtown where we live. Because of the impending winter storm all the books were $1 unless they were new. (It really was just winter but $1 books are hard to pass up no matter what the reason!)

Green Door used books a cozy place that has local art and self-published zines. Floor to ceiling bookshelves and wood plank floors. I felt right at home with books everywhere including stacked on the floor.

The owner was friendly. He asked if I needed to get to the shelves of self-help and spirituality since he was sitting in front of it. I smiled and said I was good. A salty old man who seems to spend the bulk of his time there laughed at my answer. They were both friendly, welcoming, and informative but not overbearing. I will go back for sure. We purchased 4 books while we were there 2 for me and 2 for my hubby. One of which was the Paris review with the poetry of Billy Collins – well worth a buck.

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Then we took a little walk a couple doors down to the corner cafe encased in brick. It is Harry Potter inspired with games and large tables for gaming and sitting. It doesn’t open til 11 so it more for a place to come and stay rather than just run in for your morning coffee. The place was packed and all the tables taken when we got there but the comfy couch in front of the fake fireplace was perfect for us to consume our drinks. I had the pleasure of having butter beer at universal studios when I visited Diagon alley years ago. Here the specialty drink is a butter brew. Caramel, butterscotch, and toffee with a shot of espresso and butterscotch whipped cream. Definitely had to start with the signature drink. It did not disappoint. I had read they often run out of it before the end of the day. My hubby ended up with a hot chocolate. He wanted white chocolate but they were out that day.


It was cozy and full of life. Another place i will return to. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon after going to the gym in the morning.

The first weekend of February we are going to venture to Chicago to visit the American Writer Museum and a bookstore downtown TBD. I am already looking forward to it!

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How Did I Become A Serious Writer?

Reading and writing are best friends. I am participating in the DIYMFA Book Club again and this post is inspired by the DIYMFA site and book club. The last time I wrote about my origin story was from the POV of my first run in with writing. It infected me them and you can read about it here.

The question I am reflecting on is: ” How did I become a serious writer?” In October of 2016 I found Gabriela’s podcast. Through that podcast I found Julie Duffy and her STORYADAY challenge and website. I had missed Julie’s September storyaday challenge so I challenged myself to a self imposed month of writing a story a day. That process led me to sign up for NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) and the habit stuck. THis was also when I found short stories were my niche. It is hard to quit writing when you have written everyday for 2 months. That first NANO I wrote short stories everyday and didn’t look back.

I also seriously began posting on my blog and started calling myself a writer after the first of the year 2017.

May rolled around and I participated in the May storyaday and wrote a whole folder of stories inspired by Julie’s prompts. I also gained a writing group. I took the plunge and took advantage of the Superstars group Julie offered. For support, she offered more materials and a special forum for us to talk about writing and the challenge.

What else do I do? I make time to write everyday. I started reading more about craft. I learned more about blogging and how to get more traffic and how to write better content. I read A LOT – short stories and craft books. I interacted with other writers online and found a local in real life writing group.

I recently took a class from a well respected flash fiction writer and learned more from the feedback and a critique in three weeks than most of the reading I have done about editing over the last year and a half. I hope to be able to take another class with her soon.

The next step? I am submitting. I ordered business cards this morning that list writer FIRST. I am in the lottery (fingers crossed) to get into Kathy Fish’s flash writing class. If not now, I will keep trying.

I have committed to the writing. Everyday, THAT is what makes me a serious writer…getting the words on the page (or screen).

#MentorTextMonday

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I recently read the essay, Laugh, Kookaburra by David Sedaris printed in The New Yorker. You can read the essay here.

I like the idea of favorite lines from a poem, essay, or short story to use as a writing springboard.

Here are the quotes from this essay I will be writing with as inspiration:

When Australians say “the bush,” they mean the woods. The forest.

…she invited us to picture a four-burner stove…

This was not a real stove but a symbolic one, used to prove a point at a management seminar she’s once attended. “One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.” The gist, she said, was that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.

#happyreading

Notes

I found some notes today labeled “Life Writing” Zadie Smith. I read her book Feel Free and these are a few snippets I took from the book.

If you’re going to write a diary, it should be like this, it should be utterly free, honest.”

I realize I don’t want any record of my days. I have the kind of brain that erases everything that passes, almost immediately, like that dust pan and brush dog in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, sweeping up the path as he progresses along it. I never know what I was doing on what date, or how old I was when this or that happened – and I like it that way.”

I feel like the second quote sometimes.

What quotes are sticking with you today?

Welcome 2019

This year’s word is CONNECT.

I will reflect on this word a little differently than I have in the past.

I have a list of 5 action steps directly related to the word for January.

I also have some reflection questions that I will journal with at the end of the month. The plan is to record experiences when I CONNECT so I can keep track.

Happy writing everyone!

What I Am Pondering…

Unfortunately, the picture above looks like my running trail now in December. We had some snowfall in November and now there is none. Yesterday it rained all day. Honestly, it is disappointing. I keep looking at the weather report in Minnesota with envy.

I am thinking about what is deeply nourishing to me and what has run its course and needs to be nixed. In simple terms what stays and what goes. I like to think of it sometimes in the realm of what do I say YES to and what do I say NO to.

Writing is deeply nourishing.

Talking with writers is deeply nourishing.

Coaching teachers and students is deeply nourishing.

Reading is nourishing in a diverse way. There is different reading for different purposes. Some types are more nourishing than others.

Thinking about what to get rid of completely in my life – physical and mental has been a process I have embarked on for the last couple of years.

I think the CONNECT word is good for me for 2019 especially in the realm of writing. It goes hand in hand with the readings and podcasts I have been inputting as well. I always love how these things I am thinking about converge together.

My thoughts are around how I can connect more with other writers, other teachers, and other coaches. I have some IRL opportunities were this is a real time of possibility and thriving.

What are you pondering?

BTW, I am reading an AMAZING BOOK! It is magical and wonderful.

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I Wrote it Anyway

I am thrilled to be included in the anthology I Wrote it Anyway edited and created by Caroline Donahue from the Secret Library Podcast. If you want to hear more about the WHY behind the book and the process of publishing a passion project which also happens to be an anthology, tune into this fantastic DIYMFA podcast.

My essay is titled My Almost Secret Writing Life.

Here is a link if you would like to purchase the book. All proceeds of this collection benefit 826 LA in the US and Arts Emergency in the UK. 

This book is perfect for any writer on your holiday gift list. If you have a friend or loved one who is holding back from writing this may be the inspiration they need!

Sunlight and Flowers #SOL18

Day 3 of Jim Knight coach training was yesterday.

There was a slightly different mix of coaches at this training. I drove into the city this time which was pretty stress free and the drive was full of sunshine.

We used feedback cards after Jim established a procedure for them. Red/Yellow/Green cards can be used with students to show answers really quickly and can also build community. Jim Knight said, “There is power in a collective response.”

A lot of the conversation was around relationships.

We learned how to use several data collection measures which are awesome and actionable. I have used several over the years but these were deep and focused.

One of the specific strategies we talked about was creating a learner-friendly culture. Bill Stickland opened a school that has beautiful things everywhere you look, a building that is full of sunshine and fresh real flowers.

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He believes that change can only happen if you see change, including your surroundings. I have the book on hold at the library and am looking forward to it coming in.

Many of the conversations throughout the day continually reminded me that little things matter to ALL people. The thoughtful note, the smile, the nod, the acknowledgement of you being in front of someone…and the sunlight and the flowers.

How do you make your learner space inviting? This could be a writer space or a teaching space. What are your sunlight and flowers? Enjoy them today and share with someone else.

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Weekend Coffee Share

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If we were having coffee I would encourage you to get the Caramel Brulee Latte. It is just sweet enough for a change. I will have one too and then switch back to strong black coffee.

If we were having coffee I would confess that my Christmas tree is not up yet. We debated whether to get a real tree or not this year. Last year we got a real tree which was beautiful but it did not smell at all. A tree is ordered and will show up on the doorstep by Wednesday. There are a couple other decorations up, but not many. As a gift, we received a faux fireplace cabinet which my hubby put together. The stockings are hung and I have several reindeer around the house.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been writing everyday but not finishing anything right now. I had a dinner with a couple ladies from my IRL writing group which was delightful. We write very different genres and types but we get along great. It is fun to talk about process.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had the best time at work lately. I have been implementing the new ideas and learning from my week of professional development and have seen changes in attitude in teachers and their practice which of course effects students! It has been lovely to be able to follow a set of structures that are effective. I go back to training tomorrow and I am super excited about it. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am climbing out of my reading slump. I am a little farther into the NINE PERFECT STRANGERS book and I love books with strong characters. The book is sucking me in and I am happy about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went Christmas shopping yesterday while my daughter was at gymnastics. It was early so there were not a lot of people. I was able to find what I was looking for and didn’t feel like I was supposed to be somewhere else. There were a lot less stresses than what I had last season and I am relieved about it. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am looking forward to my holiday break starting at the end of the week. I am looking forward to my training tomorrow and the rest of the week at school!

What is inspiring you this week?

Slice of Life: HOPE #SOL18

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Hope is a concept that has come up several times over the last couple of weeks. At my FABULOUS Jim Knight training for coaching HOPE is an integral part of the IMPACT CYCLE for coaching. It is a HOPE that teachers and students can get better at what they do and learn.

Jim Knight says there are 3 attributes for hope:

  1. You need to aspire to some type of goal
  2. You need a pathway to get there
  3. You have to have agency – the belief you can get there

Anne Lamott also has a new book out called Almost Everything: Notes on Hope. She wanted to write a book about all the hopeful things she knew in a world that is surrounding us with negativity and hopelessness. I picked up this book from my library holds yesterday and cannot wait to dig in. Solinet is another author who has thoughts on hope.

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What do you have to say about hope?

I hope to have an impact in my job every day. I have hope that the 8th grader I am teaching to read will continue to grow from his pre-primer level. I hope that the sense of peace and connection that has been nurtured over the past weeks will continue with my fellow coaches. 

“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.”– Samuel Smiles