Monday Morning

A Story and a Prompt for You!

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It’s Monday. It’s summer. There is a laid back feeling even in the times of the Corona virus.

Yesterday was filled with writing, running, a coach session, and great conversations. It was also a reminder that I am too hard on myself and I am impatient.

One of the takeaways from my coaching session yesterday was that I light up when I talk about the workshops that I teach and the adventures with my kids. I will be sharing more about those two areas of my life in my newsletter and this blog in the coming weeks.

If you still need to sign up for my newsletter, you can click here!

This week we are taking the kids canoeing on the Wisconsin River. We have tried to go before but have run into obstacles like a too high river in Indiana. Hopefully, no issues this time.

One of the best parts of the adventures with the kids are the crazy things they say that I write down. Every Christmas, we make a photo album of the year’s adventures. These are not always trips either. We play games and create things inside the house as well. The book is also filled with fun things everyone has said. Often you will hear someone say, “Put that in the notes!”

While in the car last week my youngest said randomly from the backseat, “It illegal to die in some places.” Which, of course, was met with, “WHAT?” In fact, this is true, and he learned it on YouTube. Someplace they were running out of graves and made it illegal to die, at least on the books. Then he called the graves, “grave houses.” This comment led to a discussion of how in New Orleans they bury people above ground.

I have a writing prompt for you today.

I have a book I ordered during the lockdown called Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises From Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. I finally cracked it open last night and dove into an exercise. Every couple of pages there is a new prompt. I did one pertaining to surrealism by Laurie Foos. It is noted you can do this exercise with a group, or alone.

If you do the prompt on your own, you are not allowed to look ahead!

Choose a verb that ends in -ing, then a body part, and an inanimate object.

Go ahead…I’ll wait. Now write them down before you read on!

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Now, put your words into this sentence: After a long day of verbing, he/she discovered that his/her body part had grown insert inanimate object.

I had fun with mine and after a long day of transcribing my character had a mirror that had grown out of his arm. It led to a weird little story about being to infinitely able to see into illusions and dreams.

I have published my book on Amazon. You can check that out here.

Holiday Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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Welcome back to the weekend! It is the 4th of July weekend. For some reason, the 4th always brings back strong memories. I remember the year it was cold and we wore sweatshirts and jeans and were still freezing. I remember being very young and feeling the powder from the fireworks fall into my eyes. I remember the ones where I stayed inside and watched the fireworks through the picture window (Which I prefer). I remember the one where I lit my first roman candle.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we finally got the boat here. It is such a relief and was such a long day. While we were coming through Illinois there was a rainstorm like I haven’t seen in years. It was so much water I am certain rainstorm isn’t even the word. The universe dumped buckets of water on us. I was thankful to get home after 8 hours.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I spent one day dealing with paperwork and trying to get loose ends tied up. I hit some obstacles along the way but put a plan is in place. Now I have to wait for others to do their part.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero program is right on track. I am fasting, logging my food, and exercising every day. I am seeing progress in myself and in the way my clothes fit.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the 100 day project is coming to an end soon. Sunday is day 90. I can hardly believe it. Now the real work begins with the next step. I will read the sentences in the order I wrote them out loud and then will hear what story emerges. Then I begin the work of chunking and changing the order to make a short story. My writing prep course is also ending on the 10th. Endings mean the opportunity for new beginnings.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a dynamic conversation with a writing friend this week. I was so glad we made the time to chat. I think we learned some great information from each other and our friendship was strengthened after realizing even more how much we are aligned.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to have a medium do a spirit guide reading on me. It was interesting and thought-provoking. There were a lot of general statements but a couple of the statements resonated me with and gave me chills.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid in less than 24 hours. It was such a good read and so well written!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I visited a botanical garden which was beautiful. We saw a baby deer tiptoeing through the plants and nestle down in front of a tree. It was magical.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have BIG NEWS! I finally made the decision to publish my first short story collection. You can check that out here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you episode 9 of my podcast is live as well. If you would like to listen to The Accidental Inspirationalist you can click here.

I wish all of you safety, some fun, and remembrance on the holiday!

IWSG July

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!

July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade? 

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

What comes to mind when I read the question above for this month’s IWSG post is the changes associated with the mindset about indie publishing and traditional. I had a writing conversation about what is next for me yesterday. I am participating in a 4 month writing program starting at the end of August. My outcome is to be a much better writer by the time December gets here. One of my goals for 2020 is to finally get my e-book onto Amazon. I had mentioned yesterday to put it off until after the workshop is over. Learning how to do it now would still be valuable however.

Several years ago the idea of publishing my own book of short stories would have not been possible – at least not as easily as it is now. I publish on Medium and here on this blog, but it isn’t the same.

There is still magic and status in my mind that comes along with traditional publishing. If a publisher came to me about any of my writing I wouldn’t tell them no. There is still validation in someone saying they see you and want to spread the joy of your writing.

There is no telling what reading and writing will look like in the next 10 years. I am sure the technology will make it even easier. With so many people at home now due to the new sheltering protocols I bet it will move even faster.

What changes do you anticipate?

Leave It To A Teacher #SOL20

An Innovative Way to Make Readable Text

My superpower is teaching students to read. It doesn’t matter how old they are. I can hear nuances in their process and am able to fill in the cracks so they can make quick progress. 

I also pay attention to what they are interested in and what they need.

When I was teaching first grade way back in 1996 I needed books for my kids with decodable and familiar text for them to practice with accuracy. There was no Teachers Pay Teacher or Pinterest back then. I had to find an easy solution.

That solution was using PowerPoint for bookmaking.

When I was a novice teacher, I took risks constantly with my students. I found the ideas that worked in my classroom were based on research I found later. Dr. Richard Allington and Marie Clay were huge influencers to me. I just continued using them because they worked.

I teach kindergarten now and even with the internet resources available, I still have the need to make books for my students.

I have given books to students and said, “I saw this and thought of you.” then watch as they read it whenever they can. I have also said, “I created this just for you.” It yields the same result: Reading.

I started teaching teachers my technique when I was nurtured by the Tech Trio. These were three technology education teachers employed by my first corporation. They also encouraged me to write a proposal to share my techniques at the Indiana Computer Educators conference. This conference would be the first of many I presented at over the course of my career.

The solution for me was to take a presentation program and turn it into a bookmaking program.

The design was simple. The text would be at the top of the page with a picture to help the student read. 

The first book I needed was an environmental print book. The first day of class I have students read me the book. Then they get a sticker . I tell them someone asks them what the sticker is for they are to tell them they read a book!

The idea that my students are readers the first day solidifies this identity for them. There is no arguments. There are no limiting beliefs that they are too young. They just did what they thought was impossible.

We add to class books as the year goes on, highlighting the uniqueness of that class. One year we had to have a hot Cheeto page. 

I created books with their spelling words, their sight words, the vocabulary words for the reading focus that week, favorite class words. 

It created the environment for them to be authors.  I didn’t have to tell them to do it, it was a regular practice. Soon they learned to make their own books.

PowerPoint and Google Slides allows you to print the pages so you can run it through the copier and staple into the books immediately. If you duplicate the page and print 2 to a page then you just have to cut them in half. There is no sorting that way and saves you tons of time.

Creating books contributed to my outcome of nurturing readers and writers. What a reading community it is!

Birthday Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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It’s the weekend again! Let’s go sit out on the porch and have our coffee. It is such a nice day. It has been a busy week for me and we have lots to talk about today! I have black coffee as always, but we bought some creamer that is delightful if you like something sweet today.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to the dentist this week. It was a risk for me. A power move, if you will. Due to COVID-19 and precautions I was not able to have the full visit that I needed, but there are appointments scheduled for what is needed. I did need a crown. Apparently, I do not grind my teeth but I press them together so hard I broke two teeth. These two are in addition to one I already cracked that was previously fixed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero plan is on track. I am moving every day, fasting, and have a clear vision of where I want to go! Clothes are starting to fit that have not in a long time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am excited to announce the podcast went up on time this week. Continuing the birthday theme, I talked about the birthday tarot card reading I did. If you want to listen you can go here. Hopefully soon the podcast will be on Spotify.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I began my video series on my blog called “5 Minute Coach”. Here I am sharing a teaching tip or activity from my education life. You can check out the first one about my story auctions here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was inspired by Liara Tamani and her podcast interview on Fierce Womxn Writing. She talked about The Book Of Delights by Ross Gay. I started writing about my own daily delights. If you want to get a flavor of how I write about this check out this piece I wrote about Sundays. Liara and I are birthday twins too so that is exciting.Sunday DelightA Reflection of Daily Delightsmedium.com

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been doodling in my notebooks again and I love it. The new pens my youngest son bought me for my birthday are perfect for adding a bit of color too. It makes writing time even more special. I am thankful for doodle accounts I follow on Instagram and Pinterest to keep the ideas brewing.

If we were having coffee I would tell you one of my delights this week was driving. I was able to listen to my podcasts and think about writing. Kathy Fish sponsors a reunion for the alumni of her classes and that is this weekend. It is nice to see familiar names. I am also starting a new writing class on Monday which I am thrilled about.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I continue my streak of writing every day. I have been transcribing my Selecky prompt into the forum and have been getting some nice comments. There is a group that seems to be forming there.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this week was full of input and learning. I am examining the areas of my life where I need more knowledge and taking lots of action to close that gap.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Saturday is the summer solstice. How will you take advantage of the most sunlight? Delight in the rays and warmth my friend!

I would love to hear about your week!

One Word Six Month Check In!

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2020 is my year of MORE.


I started choosing a word for the year several years ago. It works better for me to have this mantra rather than resolutions. I always have goals, but they are more specific to seven areas of my life including health, emotions, career, contribution, and wealth. A word is easier to come back to and keep in the forefront of my mind.

At the six month mark of the year, I like to revisit my list from January and check in with how my life is progressing.

More Time — I have had more time allowed to me or at least the illusion of it. January, February, and March were stressful and full of change before the pandemic even hit. During quarantine, I was able to do some projects. I transcribed some of my notebooks into the computer. I was able to write. I took advantage of the free classes and prompts that were offered by teachers I love and follow. I learned some interesting practices with my kindergarten team on how to conduct distance learning with 5-year-olds.

I was granted more time with my husband while teaching from home because of the sheltering in place this spring. This isn’t at all how I envisioned it to happen, but I was excited that the universe granted it to me anyway.

More Money — I changed jobs in January and am finally being paid what I am worth. I had used all the avenues I had for my former job and came to a dead-end every time. The sad reality was that I was never going to get the money that I desired, even though they were paying my colleagues upwards of $25,000 more than me for the same job. Changing jobs became my only option.

More Time Saying Yes to the Right Things — I have started to say no to things that do not align with my beliefs and values. This covers activities and people. From the outside, I suppose this seems harsh. Some relationships, I have tried to repair in an adult manner and have come to a dead end. I am taking Maya Angelou’s advice and recognizing that when people show me who they are, believe them the first time.

More Writing — I wasn’t sure this was possible, but I am writing every day and have several challenges going at the same time. Through the learning I have immersed myself in this year, my pieces are better and I am thankful. I was able to do my 100 rejections project and share some of my learnings from it as well.

More Fun — I am focusing on the positive and bringing more of it to my life simply by paying attention. When I feel joy and things are going well I revel in it! I enjoyed the time at home, time with my husband, time with my kids. I enjoyed the learning. I loved the time with friends and in classes online. I had fun with my students. In recent weeks, the family has been horseback riding, boating on the Wisconsin River, ziplining, playing games at home, and laughing.

More Walks — I have changed my exercise and health routine (I am on day 28 of my back to zero plan). Walks are a daily practice now — rain or shine.

More Sun and Moons — I have been out in the sun more and have the tan to prove it. I pay attention to the moon cycles and this has brought me joy and insight.

More Movies — With the sheltering in place, I have never been more thankful for streaming. Netflix and Amazon are our friends.

More of What Matters. This has been an area of hyperfocus for me. If an action does not align with my beliefs and values then I delete it. I have refocused my social media and communities with this in mind. The books I keep and the way I spend my time as well.

More Hikes Near Trees — This one is more difficult since I moved. My daily walking route has trees along the path, but there is mostly open space and hills. The hills are great for fitness and toning while you walk and run!

More Time to be Who I Am — I am in the middleof my coaching program and am coming back into my power. I am a force of nature and needed to stop pretending that I am not. I am a leader, but I get irritated when groups don’t go the way I would facilitate them. Recognizing these reactions, and then changing my actions has been helping.

More Words that Matter — I have been paying attention to the sentence level of my writing. My 100-day project has been helping with this considerably. My project is to write a random sentence every day for 100 days. At the end of the 100 days I will gather all the sentences, read them aloud to myself, and find the plot within. Then I will edit and revise the sentences into an amazing short story.

I also write every morning. There is a combination of Janning ( a combo of journaling and planning), fiction, and morning pages.

More of the Stories that Need to be Told — This one I am still struggling with. I use my tarot cards to get out of my own way to trick my brain to stop putting up walls. I am trying to write more of my wounds and what that has generated in my life. There is learning, loss, betrayal, and growth.

More Writing in Bed — My bed is my desk. Part of my morning routine is to write with my coffee. I do have a desk, but it is in the boys’ room. I need a better chair.

More Reading by the Fireplace — This one is more of a visualization, for now. I put the fireplace on my computer screen. I have no fireplace in the apartment. This is more when I move to my forever house. There will also be a small fireplace in my writing shed when I get there too!

More Connections with People who make me Grow and Feel Supported — This is one of the four main goals I am working on now. I am nurturing my female friendships and am being more intentional about them. I am reaching out to some writer friends to get to know them better. I am also looking for a real-life group of writers to meet with and made a power move to start a teacher group this fall.

Overall, I am living a life as close to my ideal life that I have since….EVER. I am thankful for the changes that I have made and continue to grow. I am excited to see where my word takes me for the rest of the year!!!

Priming Script

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After my intial thoughts about priming in kindergarten there was a larger response than I anticpated.

After more thought I decided to make a script to try. This is a rough draft and after I try it with kids I am sure it will be revised. I am hoping this will give others an idea of what I am thinking.

I have done priming myself for 4 days and can tell you it is amazing. There are YouTube videos of Tony Robbins leading priming exercises if you wish to try some for yourself. I imagine it would be easier to do with the audio cues rather than trying to read it.

Priming Script

Good morning! Today we are going to start our day in a very special way. It is going to get our brains ready to learn and be at school. I bet it will even make our learning conversations that much stronger.

Everyone, please stand. Excellent. We are all going to take a deep breath in…hold it, hold it…now let it out. Good.

We are going to do that again but this time when you breathe in I want you to raise your arms like this: (model bringing arms straight up clapping hands at the top, over the head)

Then we are going to breathe out and bring our arms back down like this. (model for students)

Let’s do this three times.

Breathe in 1

Breathe out

Breathe in 2

Breathe out

Breathe in 3

Breathe out

Great – how do we feel?

Wonderful.

The next part is I want you to think of a something you are thankful for. It could be something big or small. It could have been a hug from your mom this morning, your breakfast here at school being super tasty today, the last time you saw your Grandmother. It could be something that happened not long ago or something from a long time ago.

You can close your eyes if you want. I want you to think about that memory and pretend you are there all over again. Like a movie inside your brain. Try to see yourself. Feel what it was like in the place you are remembering. Remember what it feels like.

I see big smiles! The room already feels different, doesn’t it?

Take a deep breath in again – try to fill up your lungs with as much air as you can like you are filling a balloon inside your chest!

Ok, now I want you to think of a time you were really happy. Remember is just like when you did with the time you were thankful. It might have been a birthday, a party, going swimming, a hug from someone, your pets, whatever makes you happy!! Think about how you felt. Take yourself back to that moment! Oh the smiles are even bigger this time! 

Ok, now we are going to think of a time you were proud of yourself. Now this would be something you did that someone in your family noticed you were doing and told you how happy they were with you. Maybe you cleaned up after your dog, or you helped your sister. Maybe you did a really great job at something and you were so happy with yourself. Think of that moment now. 

[This one may be a little harder for 5-year-olds. I may add one of the memories at a time and not do them all at once over the course of a week. Showing some youtube videos covering emotions may be helpful as well.]

The last one, I want you to think of something you want to do in the future. Maybe it is get your mom a special present or you miss someone and want to see them. Maybe you want to make a goal in soccer or be able to do a cartwheel. Imagine yourself doing this thing you want.

All these happy feelings have made our classroom feel so wonderful! I want you to think about these positive feelings and then think of someone you love that we can send them to. We are going to imagine all these wonderful feelings like a blue light that is blasting out all over the school, the town or maybe even the whole world.

FANTASTIC!

Ok, everyone open their eyes if you had them closed and then do a little stretch.

We are now ready for our day!

Please feel free to comment! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Decisions not Preferences #SOL20

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June is my month of renewed power.

I have returned to what I know about decisions. When I make a decision, I do it. There is no compromise. My life has changed when I made the decision. Usually there is a plan that goes along with it to make sure there is action.

One example is I have decided to take my health back. One factor is to drink more water. I have decided to drink 64 oz of ice water daily. Most days it is more but I know if I drink 2 White Sox souvenir glasses worth I am good.  I am not preferring to be more hydrated…I am doing it.

I want to live my life doing the things that light me up. Feeling good in my body is one of them.

Another way that I light up is when I can share the things that I am learning and that are important to me with my students.  

One of the concepts I was introduced to this week is called Priming. It is just what it sounds like – you prime yourself for the day. Today is my second day of participating in a priming exercise and it is powerful. The first time I cried and I am not a crier. The emotions gripped me so fiercely it was the only way to let out the emotion.

As I was on my walk today it occurred to me I can do this with my class in the fall. I am going to incorporate a priming exercise in the fall with my kindergarteners. They are going to learn how to start their day with breathing, gratitude, happiness, pride, and projection.

I will solidify the plan for the fall but the skeleton pieces are as follows:

  1. Deep breathing with body movements
  2. Space for them to honor something they are thankful for
  3. Space for them to bring them back to a moment they were happy
  4. Space for them to learn what pride is and for them to be brought back to a moment they were proud of themselves
  5. Space for them to think of something they want to see themselves doing in the future

If we start the day this way I can invite influence for my students to have the best day possible. We will all learn from each other.

I am so excited to have made this decision.

I am also excited to start using the EL Education Kindergarten curriculum with my students. I cannot wait to teach them protocols.

What decisions have you made today?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation On the Last Day of May

Today is the last day of May. What was the most impactful event of this past month? It seemed to fly by compared to the last 2 months of quarantine.

Thanks for joining me for coffee today. I am glad we are able to chat. I am having some french vanilla black coffee. What would you like today?

The weather was cooler last night which I was thankful for. The heat was too high this week and we had to turn the air conditioning on. I see money flying out of the vents with the cooler air.

If we were having coffee I would tell you today is filled with a lot of endings for me. For one, the Storyaday May challenge is over. This year’s challenge was a lot different than years past. The prompts were mostly guest posts with the 10th anniversary. The host used a new platform too. Honestly, it was discombobulating for me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote every day. Quarantine has been the time of 3 prompt mornings. June starts a new pattern. I am still in the thick of my Sarah Selecky Intensive Prep class so that prompt and transcribing will continue.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I did an energy challenge for the month of May. After listening to Dani Shapiro’s Skillshare class I added the quadrant exercise to the daily reflection. In Dani’s quad exercise, you list things you did, things you saw, something you heard, and a doodle. This helped me focus on what was important to me for the day. I always learn about myself with this challenge.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am doing the Happy Camper’s Club with Nicole Rivera. I am excited to be with this group of women again. There is a schedule of Zoom meetings for the week that I want to join!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am taking my health back. I am back to fasting and taking my food seriously. I have exercised every day and am feeling really good. The weight needs to come off by the end of June.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we went horseback riding on Tuesday. It was super fun and it was the first time the kids had gone. I haven’t been since I was in Colorado. There were a couple horses that were on the lazy slow side (labeled by the stable person).

If we were having coffee I would tell you I start my coaching program tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. I think this is really going to help me hyper focus on what I need to do moving forward in addition to all the things I need to come back to that I already know.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I subscribed to the New Yorker. Did I tell you that last week? Sorry if I am repeating myself. I do love it. The magazine comes into the mailbox and it feels good to get mail again.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I posted about identity on Llama Tuesday. I am going to be thinking about this concept a lot over the next several weeks. You can read that here: https://tammysreadinglife.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/identity/

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about fall. This coming week I will close up my classroom for the summer. It is not the end of the school year I had anticipated by far, but isn’t that how life goes? I need to find a place to do printing close to me. I will utilize the copy center through my corporation more for sure this year.

I would love to hear about your week!

Happy last day of May again! What are your goals for June? What are the most important actions you need to take care of?

Until next week…