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?

Sunday Delights

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

There is delight in Sundays. Even during the quarantine, Sunday feels different. Time is a unique component to life. It flows or it stalls.

Sundays are for looking forward and looking back. These are things that happen no other time of the week. Sundays used to be for running long with friends. It was my worship. Now it is a time for reflection.

Sundays are for being outside in nature. Today I went for my walk. I didn’t worry about running today. I enjoyed the sun on my face. The feeling of health and being smaller. Today marks day 24 of my health program “Back to Zero.” I need to get back into a size zero which is what this means. I am in the process of losing the weight I have gained over the last couple of years and the quarantine.

But on my walk today I felt tired. I had thought if it had rained, I would have not gone. I actually went the longest mileage I have all week today. A friend reminded me, “You’re waterproof, you know. Rain is no excuse.” I remember after she types this that I have run most of my running races in rain. In fact, a half marathon was delayed for rain. It totally messed my race up.

Sundays are for reading. I look forward to the Sunday newsletter from my friend Jenna. There is always thoughtful and insightful sentences from her. It makes me think. It often inspires my own writing. I am also reading Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins, and Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

Sunday is for planning for the week. I do my Janning (journaling and planning together). I look at the items on the calendar and write about how I can make them all level 10. I anticipate the things that can mess it up and formulate a plan. I make an action items list.

Sundays are for writing. Every day in my world is for writing but Sunday is the day I write my weekend coffee share. It is my virtual cup of coffee with my friends. I reflect on the week I have had. Sometimes it is just a list of the things I have done and want to remember. Sometimes I share insights that I make.

Sundays are for getting ready for the week. Today is special. It is the first Sunday in a long time that I do not have to get ready for work and school on Monday. There is a weight to that emotion that is unexpected.

Sundays emit different feelings. It used to be the day to go to my Oma’s and have dinner. It used to be the day I visited friends.

What do Sundays mean to you?

Chocolate Read Alouds #SOL

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

When was the last time you read aloud to someone?

When was the last time someone read aloud to you?

My commute used to be two hours per day. (Now it is 10 minutes! That is an upgrade). I become reliant on podcasts to try to satisfy my insatiable quest for knowledge. It also seemed like a reasonable activity to pass the time with.

I struggle with audiobooks. There are few books I can tolerate the whole text on audio. I find this odd. I also have an internal fight with myself about whether audiobooks “count” as reading. I have seen the research that the brain doesn’t know the difference, but my reading mind has a different opinion.

The Overdrive app from the library is the way I choose to sample audiobooks. I keep trying. The one book I have listened to with success is The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern.  If you have not read it, and you like magic and adventure I highly recommend it. The Starless Sea is also a treasure.

I made the connection that audiobooks and podcasts are simply me being read aloud to. Something that is a cornerstone of my classroom, and probably yours as well. There is nothing that inspires and sparks conversation and writing like a good piece of text.

There is an art to reading aloud. There is a pizazz that is needed. It should not be tortured or boring or “just something that needs to happen.” The magic of reading comes through your voice and expression and is a good read aloud. I think this is what I search for in a podcast as well. The voice matters.

Reading and writing are so connected aren’t they? I tell students all the time to please write how they talk because I do not want to read the same pice of writing from my class. Anything can be boring if you have to read it 20 times!

When I was a reading specialist I was honored to know a woman who would read aloud in a meeting and transport us into the book. She was a wise reading specialist and full of experience that I learned from every time I spoke with her.

Lester Laminack can also read aloud to me any time and I am transfixed! His book, Saturdays and Teacakes is a wonderful picture book memoir.

There is a quote that reading aloud should be like chocolate, not vitamins – or maybe I just made that up. Read alouds should be treats, and sometimes just done for fun. Yes, as teachers we are always looking for the craft lesson. Fun is a lesson too.

We cannot encourage reading for fun if we never model it.

I like to think that I listen to podcasts as a substitute for being read aloud to. It makes my heart happy and my soul too.

The magic of read aloud is a talent that many teachers possess and is key to exciting children to read. I hope that I continue to find audio books that are worth the time. Any suggestions in the comments are welcome!

This Spring, reading aloud looked different for my students. Many links to authors reading their books and Bitmoji classrooms with themed read alouds were used. I also read aloud on Screencastify which was a whole new experience. I never realized how many faces I make to emphasize the sentences!

However you read today may it be fun! You never know though – you might get inspired along the way.

If you need something new to listen to my podcast on Friday will be all about education. Pop on over to Soundcloud and take a listen. The Accidental Inspirationalist is always less than 10 minutes! Listen Here!

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

Photo by Amanda Grove on Pexels.com

Welcome back to Sunday — this time on a holiday weekend!

Let’s have some french vanilla on the porch. The view of the hills is lovely and it isn’t too hot yet today.

I have missed you this week friend. There is lots to catch up on.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been obsessed with Karissa Kouchis this week. She is a national trainer and speaker for Tony Robbins and her energy is contagious. Her words have sprung me to action this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this quote showed up in my Readwise app email this morning:

How to Live a Good Life by Jonathan Fields


Step 1 — Create your perfect moment. Take a few moments and ask, “What would I love to do or create or have that I’m not pursuing because it’s not a sure thing?” Write your answer in your journal. Then ask, “What would my life look and feel like, how would it be materially different, if I got what I wanted?” Journal your answer. Now ask, “What am I waiting for?” Write it out.

It seems like a good task to do today.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I learned about the Dickens Pattern. It is where you analyze the price you will pay if you don’t change now. It comes from the idea of Scrooge and The Christmas Carol with the Ghost of Christmas Past. It is not a pretty list of journaling but it is motivating. Telling yourself “It’s not that bad” keeps you stuck.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the last couple of days we have been having fun with the kids with Kahoot games and Jeopardy. I log funny things the kids say and use that list to make questions. We also have strange categories of facts about planets, music, or sports. The wrong answer choices are sometimes the funniest part. There is lots of laughing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you we have had great food this week! Food is a joy and a reason for gathering in our home. Favorites have been eaten this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had some great writing and life conversations with two friends. One in Montana and the other in Portland. I am lucky to have these two women in my inner circle. They always tell me the truth and the conversations are always enlightening.

Do you need a refill? Or some water?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you there was a tornado warning yesterday. The sky was black and freaked the kids out. We are safe though and I got a scene written from the experience.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am about over e-learning in kindergarten. I am in school til June 10th. That is all about that topic this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I swapped stories with a newer writing friend this week and it has been wonderful. She is an amazing person and writer and I am so glad we are critique partners now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the running is going well and I know that because I had to order new shoes! Gray Kinvaras are on their way!

I almost forgot! I started a podcast! They are less than 10 minutes about what inspires me and how you can live a more creative life. You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/tammy-breitweiser-792640834 New episodes drop on Fridays.

What is inspiring you this week? I would love to know!

The One Where a 7 Layer Cake Turned into a Trifle #SOL20

When I went back to the classroom at the end of January my plan was to write an education article every week. I wasn’t sure exactly what it would be as an end product in these beginning stages. I find with some writing projects they morph into what they truly are as I move along.

Maybe it would be blog posts.

Maybe it would be a series of Medium articles.

Maybe it would be a book.

As a coach, I found it harder and harder to write the type of articles I wanted to put into the world because I teach with a lot of nuance. It was one of the reasons I wanted to go back to the classroom. There are day to day decisions I make with kids especially in the area of writing that I cannot remember later. I have to write it as a journal type piece, at least at first. My coaching position had me split between two buildings and too many classrooms to count. I found it increasingly frustrating to find my way into what I wanted to say.

In January, I changed states and jobs and went back to teaching Kindergarten. It was a rough adjustment and the students had been through several weeks of trauma. We were finding our new rhythms quickly.

Then COVID 19 took hold of the world. I went home on a Friday thinking I was returning to school on Monday. I got the email later that evening that we were not returning. “More info to come,” the email read.

No one was allowed in the building. Our fobs had been shut off. 

Now I’m trying to teach kindergarten through distance learning – with no prior system in my district. These students are also ones I have had for weeks – not months. There were things that they would have know if they had been with me since August, but that wasn’t the situation we were in.

On Zoom, I cannot teach protocols for my students to talk with each other and learn. They learn how to mute and unmute themselves instead.

I don’t have all my students with me on Zoom meetings because this time is hard for a lot of my parents. The kids are being moved around to relatives and friends and my parents are still trying to work.

There are no hugs and no pats of encouragement on Zoom. I cannot walk around and help my students tap out their words. On Zoom I have the added audience of parents. Not bad, just different.

On Zoom there are no centers where all the extra paper goes and all my kids flock to it at all times of the day to make their books. This is something I miss every day.

Right before we left school one of my students latched onto the idea of a carrot – the upside down V to insert something that you have no space for when handwriting. (Somehow I think that can be an essay in itself!) He turned it into an angry carrot illustration. It was a gateway into him co-authoring a book of him and I going to to the park together. He had not said more than a couple of words to me at a time up to that point. It was a moment of entry.

Teaching in the classroom was a beautiful 7 layer cake – bakery quality. It had the perfect ratio of frosting to cake. It was decorated and you looked forward to eating it because you made it from scratch and knew it will be delicious. Every bite delicious!

Distance learning is that same cake, but it is all mashed up and crumbled and layered in a trifle dish . It isn’t quite the elegant dessert of the 7 layer cake. It still tastes good, but it is not refined and is a mess. There are other things added like strawberries and whipped cream and they are spilling out of the sides of the glass dish.

I am looking forward to eating my cake in the fall.

Notebooks and Partners #SOL20

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have a writing practice. It is established and has been fairly unshakeable during the pandemic and the constant wheel of change.

Every day I write my own version of morning pages. It is mostly writing. Once in a while I doodle but words are my jam. I love the look of more arty notebooks and entries and my Instagram feed is full of them.

Writing is how I cope. I have been purposefully NOT writing about the isolation, the school closings, the sickness, etc. It has creeped into my writing in spite of my efforts.

Yesterday I wrote a lot of sentences that said absolutely nothing. I believe in the practice and know my truth will come through if I keep writing.

I am also a runner. I used to be a long distance runner of the obsessed variety. I have run more than 10 marathons including Boston. I have run multiple ultra marathons including a 50 mile race. I know how to train.

There are points in training where you feel like you are sloggin along. But if you keep running, you keep showing up, it gets easier. There is the day you run and you forget you are running. You feel you can run forever.

Writing is the same way. If you keep showing up to the page, it gets easier and words come out that surprise you.

Yesterday I stumbled upon Youtube videos from two writing teachers I adore. I saw Penny Kittle speak with Kelly Gallagher and Donalyn Miller several years ago in New Orleans. I listen carefully to these people. They teach students, they teach adults and they write.

These videos they are posting are about what they are reading and what they are writing in their notebooks. They are talking about how they are adapting to the school closings and their feelings about not seeing their students again. They talk about their insecurities about writing and how they lean on each other.

THEY ARE WRITING PARTNERS in all senses of the word and I get a glimpse into this process because they are brave enough to record it and share it with the world.

They talk about their notebooks and what they are writing. Gallagher talked about starting to write about one thing and had to get all the way down the page revealing what he was really thinking. It is what writers do.

I listen and take notes. I am on day 4. I am watching in order.

I find myself wishing there was someone I could call and ask, “What did you write in your notebook today?” I have a small group I talk about writing with but it is usually project based. It feels more scattered than what Gallagher and Kittle seem to have.

There are teacher writer friends who share pictures of their notebooks on their blogs and Twitter. I feel blessed to be part of the world at this time of technology that it is possible.

What did I write today?

I started a new notebook yesterday and it felt wrong. So I started a different notebook that was gifted to me. It is wood and feels better. I used two prompts. One is “Last December” and I wrote about applying for my job and how I knew it was a catalyst.

I wrote a flash fiction story about a wishbone based on truth.

I wrote notes about what I think my kindergarten students should write about during this time but realizing how little control I have over this process considering the circumstances.

I wrote about how I have to let go of my own boundaries with myself so the words flow and I do not stifle myself.

I wrote about my thoughts about the videos and how I was going to use it as my slice today.

What did you write in your notebook today?

A New Challenge Begins #SOL20



Today begins the 7th annual #the100dayproject where people choose an art project to pursue their creativity for 100 days.

As many of you know, I love a good challenge. I always enjoy the Two Writing Teachers challenge and am happy to continue on Tuesdays.

Anyone can join. The idea is simple: choose a project, do it every day for 100 days, and share your process on Instagram with the hashtag #The100DayProject.

There is a newsletter and a community on Instagram.

My challenge:

One of my favorite writing exercises is writing lists of random sentences. I learned from Sarah Selecky to write 100 sentences that do not connect. You must write them in the same point of view.

Then at the end you read the sentences aloud and you will see how they tie together.

At the end of the challenge I will construct a short story based on the list!

Next Right Things:

This week started the planning and teaching of my kindergarten class. It was interesting to have a Zoom call with the kids who were excited and then shy at the same time.

The “first day” after Spring Break was full of meetings – on Zoom. Today is lighter and then there are 3 more meetings tomorrow.

This is all a new time for us.

What’s Next?

Photo by Christian Fridell on Pexels.com

March has been FULL. But what is next on your creative list? There are many challenges in April you can take part in especially in the areas of poetry.

One thing I am participating in is Nicole Rivera’s Happy Camper Club. It even has a snappy happy name! You may know her name from her podcast, “Stop Writing Alone.”

The Happy Camper program is a community and support that will be focusing on a different writing aspect every day.

Here are Nicole’s Words about it:

On Mondays I PlotEach Monday I will host a live web call with attendees where we will discuss plots and plans. Mondays will be for goal setting, story structure, and other discussions related to the writing project(s) we are tackling during the month.
On Tuesdays I WriteTuesday will be all about getting words on the page.  I will host write-ins, writing sprints, and provide writing boosts (mini prompts to help writers get unstuck during the word mongering of the day).
On Wednesdays I DrinkWednesdays will be for support and chat. I will host a coffee hour live webinar for the attendees to check in with me and each other concerning how their week is going so far. We will decompress, celebrate our wins, and share our struggles.
On Thursdays I EditWhether the Happy Campers are drafting or working on rewriting during the month of April, all writers need to edit at some point. On Thursdays this April, I will be sharing tips with the group that they can either use immediately, or collect to use at the end of the month. Thursday will likely be the quietest day for me as host, but the resources will be plentiful.
On Fridays I DaydreamWhat a wonderful way to enter into each weekend — stretching out into our dreamer state. How does this translate into an offering from me? For one, Fridays are the day I always share my weekly writing prompts which I hope help writers to dream big and wonderful new creations, but I don’t want to end there. Writer daydreams also consist of thoughts of their writing career, so Fridays will include inspirations and pro tips on creating their dream writing career in addition to being a day of prompts.I had a plan. I have a plan. I laughed aloud as I realized this dream of a community project was inspired by pencils. The next step was to reveal it to the community and hope that others would be as excited as I was.The group of happy campers is growing, but as April grows nearer and the coronavirus has even more writers and creatives struggling to find their community connections, I thought I would extend the invitation a bit further, to you. If you are reading this, and you are intrigued by this month long project with fellow writers seeking to rise to some writing goal or challenge in the month of April — regardless of genre, regardless of whether you are looking to draft, rewrite, or revise — then this invitation is especially for you.The early bird pricing ended, but with all of the financial curve balls people are being thrown with this social distancing, I decided to cut the regular $49.99 price down to $30, basically one dollar per day for the month of April. You’ll have lifetime access to the group and the resources shared within. Any and all video calls that happen in the group will be recorded if you can not make the live event. It is my dream that you can make connections with the other happy campers to become your own writing tribe as you grow and write together. My mission is to get people to stop writing alone, this tight knit, highly accountable community is one of the best ways I can think of fostering that ideal in real time. If you think you’d like to join me for the experiment, here’s the link to join:

You can sign up here.

I will be there! Let’s have some fun and get some writing done with new friends. I will be writing fiction, but you can work on whatever tickles your fancy. I will probably do some planning for my May Storyaday as well.

Friendship Expectations

This month I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge. I will be posting slices from my life every day in March. This challenge is a part of the Two Writing Teachers blog. Click here to learn more information about the challenge.

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones. I like to be prepared.

As part of the challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

The trait I value most is integrity. I want people to do what they say they are going to do. I guess this goes hand in hand with trust. No one expects a friend to betray you.

I also believe in the emotional bank account as well. Deposits are made by both parties in a relationship and both can withdraw. Just like a regular bank account, it can become overdrawn. If you hurt me before we have established too many deposits then the relationship suffers.

Friendship has traditionally been difficult for me. I have been burned by more people than I can count which is I am sure why my introverted tendencies have showed themselves more over the last couple of years.

A Question of Childhood

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Several years ago I learned about the 36 questions to become closer to someone. In the New York Times, the article was titled The 36 Questions that Lead to Love. I am always fascinated by questions. As an introvert, I learned to have a question ready when attending a social event in case the conversation lulled. I prefer to have deeper conversations as opposed to surface level ones.

As part of the Twowritingteachers.org challenge this year, I will be answering some of the questions and then you have the opportunity to journal about the question, ask a person you want to be closer to, or answer in the comments.

My childhood was not full of trauma and I was privileged. My parents have stayed together which was unusual among my friends. When I was little I spent a lot of time at my maternal grandparents. Every vacation and weekend was spent with them til the summer of my 8th grade year in school.

I also spent the majority of my time from age 2.5 to 5 at my Oma’s house. That is my recollection anyway. I had friends in the neighborhood I played with outside every day. They all thought I lived there permanently. I did too. Whenever I went “home” it always felt like I was visiting my parents just waiting to go back to Oma’s.

When it came time for me to go to kindergarten I was upset that I had to go to school in my parent’s town, not my grandparents.

At this point in my life I wish I would have started and continued my school life in my grandparents town. My life would have turned out a lot differently if I had followed that path. When my friends found out I was coming to school with them, the relationship changed. There was a lot I missed out on being there on the weekends after school started.

I cannot go back to that time and the decision was not mine to make but it would have been interesting to see the trajectory if that was the path had been chosen for me.