How Much Memory Do You Have Remaining?


This week I organized and deleted documents in my Google Drives with the goal to free some space. An alert I was running out of memory popped up in my Gmail warning me. I have random documents everywhere floating in the abyss of the cloud.

Last Fall when I assigned myself the task of writing a complete short story a day which morphed into NANOWRIMO last November. Some stories and other writings I just saved in the general drive thinking that I would organize them later. I am organized to a point, but sometimes if I’m frenzied or passionate about an idea I save but do not curate. When I procrastinate, then I am searching for a story I can’t find and the Google Drive does not always locate things as quickly as I would prefer. Does anyone else have this problem?

I am trying to get better at curating my own resources. For me, I have created a problem that is a writing storage problem and a teacher resource storage problem. I was trying to sort through all my saved artifacts trying to attach an appropriate folder or to delete.

At the end of the sorting session I ended up finding some pieces I had thought were “lost” and snippets of saved conversation. I renamed more than a handful of “Untitled Documents” which were mostly dictated pieces from my Google Keep app. I write on my commute and save it to the drive and revise later. I transferred story sparks to a large Dump document I call Notes and Musings. I saved all the words that don’t belong anywhere else. The Notes and Musings document is the technology equivalent of my black writer’s notebook. Notes and Musings is the document that holds a part of a poem, a line, a memory, or something that I’m going to use in a story later.

My hope is moving forward, I will organize documents as I go. I will remind myself to take 5 seconds and place the work in a folder that makes sense. Wish me luck!



A flash fiction challenge posed by


#7 10 Circuses


The sign read: You know the 7 wonders of the world! Behold and set your eyes to gaze upon the 10 wonders of the circus! 10 circuses – 10 circus wonders all packed into one event.


“I don’t want to go to the circus,” Jack stomped his little foot and his lip started to quiver. He waddled over to the couch, lay down and twirled his bright blonde hair with one hand and sucked his thumb on the other.


“It is 10 circuses at once! It will be fun! Something for everyone!”  Mama said.

“There are games and events and rides and animals. They have baby elephants.”

It was in the sing songy voice and drawn out verbage of baby elephants that struck Jack’s attention.


“There is even a section where you can do EVERYTHING!”


“But I am so tiny. Even my tongue is tiny.”  He smiled through his tears and thumb.

Jack didn’t like the prospect of all the people but the baby elephants intrigued him.


Mama and Jack arrived at the long stretch of tables of the kiddie area first. The tickets were red and everything else was white. Everyone associated with the circus had bright blonde tresses like Jack.


Jack had a knack for all the games. The lollipop tree game had all flavors of blow pops and tootsie roll pops stuck in a fake tree. When you pulled out the stick that was colored at the end you won. Jack had now won 10 times in a row. Mama thought it was such good luck!

Jack toddled over to the Guess Your Weight and Age booth.

“You are 4 and weigh exactly 46 pounds,” smiled the blonde red and white dressed carnie.

Mama smiled, the man was correct. Jack had been to the doctor just yesterday.

As they walked past the Freak show all the signs were old fashioned. As soon as Jack saw them he made a wide turn away from the tent. Mama didn’t force it even though that was what she wanted to see. Maybe later. She always felt a peculiar draw to the freaks.


Mama stopped Jack after winning three goldfish from tossing ping pong balls into the bowls. She predicted the fish would be dead by the weekend. Three deaths would be more than enough to explain in three days time.


Everywhere he went the carnies noticed the little 4 year old and exclaimed he was a lucky boy. It was always the exact same wording whether the workers were in earshot of one another or not.  


The last event of the day was the magician. Patrons filed into the tent with hushed tones from the thick canvas. People found seats along the wooden planks. Jack perked up and ran to the front row and sat ignoring the couple sitting next to him.  


The show began and the tricks were traditional and making Mama tired. It had been too long of a day for mundane. The rings seemed to melt into each other and back again at the magician’s insistence. Card shuffling next. Squishy balls morphing into flowers and disappearing from one hand to another. Mama almost got up to leave and reached for Jack’s shirt.


“For  my next trick, I need a volunteer from the audience!”   the great Merlin proclaimed in his performance voice.


Jack raised his hand proudly with a beaming smile unusual for the shy boy. Mama thought him too young to be picked but sat down again. His arm extended and his little bum wiggling on the hard wooden bench as old as the first circus commanded attention.


“You, young man in the red shirt! You match our colors. You are a lucky boy! Come on up.”


Mama was too stunned to stop his movement and was swept up in the illusion. Jack waddled up.


“Can you  step in this cabinet for me?”


“Am I ‘peer?”


“Yes, Jack. We are going to make you disappear!”


“Wooooooooooo!”  he squealed and clapped his hands.


He turned and waved to the audience vigorously with both hands his smile white and beaming in contrast to his red shirt.


“Are you ready?”


A nod from the little boy.


“Wave to the people Jack.”


Merlin opened the cabinet and Jack stepped in.

“One more wave Jack!

Say goodbye!”


“Bye bye!” He was waving both hands now.


Merlin carefully closed the doors of the suspended cabinet, spun it three times and waved his wand.




How trite Mama thought. Really?


With a flourish of a red cape, Merlin opened the door and Jack had indeed disappeared.


“What a lucky boy Jack is!” Merlin yelled.

Darkness filled the tent.


After 10 seconds the space was illuminated and Merlin was gone. The people started to file slowly out of the tent speaking of caramel corn, the baseball milk jug throw, elephant ears, and buttered corn.


Wait… Mama thought.

Lucky boy, red shirt….

She never had said his name…


Oh no…Jack!


A circus to the tenth power needs to be replenished with wonders…that’s not magic but something else.


Two Hour Delay…HOORAY! #SOL18

db4de-slice-of-life_individualIt’s a much happier day

When we have a two-hour delay!

I’ve been lucky this week to have 2- two-hour delays because of weather. This week it has worked especially well because it extended my fabulous weekend. Monday night is always a late night for me so this morning to get a little bit of extra sleep was wonderful. At this point in my life, I look at the two-hour delay as a gift of time. It is time for me to enjoy my coffee and for me to shower when the sun is actually streaming through the windows instead of the darkness.

The two hours allows the commuters and plows to rid the road of ice and snow. There is also the benefit of the sunlight. The difficulty this morning was drivers not reading the signs…

Five years ago I would have panicked and would have tried to get to school as quickly as possible no matter the safety issues. Luckily I never had an accident or some sort of problem.

Gifts of time are hard to come by and I’ve learned to appreciate them instead of trying to move quickly to the next thing!

What surprising gifts of time have you become aware of?

Memoir Book Review – Fast Draft Your Memoir by Rachael Herron

Write The Story Of YOUR Life

I was going to wait till later this week to post but am so excited about this book I couldn’t wait.

Rachael Herron’s book came out on Sunday! My coffee pot is humming in the background so grab a cup and read about why you need this book!

There are many reasons to check this book out:

If you love books about writing, this is the book for you!

If you want to write a memoir, this is the book for you!

If you are a writer that doesn’t want to write a memoir, this book is for you!

It is a workshop in book form. I was lucky enough to snag an early copy for review. I read a lot of writing books but this one is different.

I actually read this book and did the exercises. It motivated me to write.

It reads like a conversation between you and the author which is a style I gravitate to.

I particularly like Rachel’s voice in the first two chapters. I love the fact that this is her class in book form. People, she teaches at Stanford (STANFORD!!!)

“Our job as memoirists is to be able to not only report what happened, but what it meant. It’s a balance of showing and telling.”

She is completely reassuring that if you have reservations about telling your story. Her reassurance is humorous: “It won’t accidentally end up on a bookstore shelf.”

“After the book is complete, and after you’ve revised it once or twice with the help of a good editor who is not related to you (more on this later), only then do you start to decide how to handle the truths you are going to put out into the world.”

“But in memoir, we go into the deepest parts of ourselves, and we lift them up into the light. We display our broken bits. We show ourselves, naked and flawed.”

I did her 15 min exercise and ended up putting down 850 words. If I multiply that x4 my hour word count is 3400 words. I really have no excuse for not writing.

She talks directly to the reader throughout the book. She guides you through the exercises which make them more personal.

This book is an experience, not just a read through or workbook.

The outlining section was the one I was afraid of. I went through the instructions and have a great outline started – that went in a COMPLETELY different direction then what I thought at the beginning of the book. That felt like magic.

My personal memoir right now is hard to write. Some of the things I NEED to write about are too fresh. I make notes and write through some things but it is not ready for anyone to see it. I also realized that my professional book about education is really a memoir which means I have been able to use the same exercises to outline that book.

Story structure is not ignored in this book either.

There are examples for each section so as the writer you truly understand what Rachael is asking you to do.

There is reassurance and heart in this book. If you are a writer, or even have a glimmer of a thought of being a writer in any capacity…order it! You won’t be sorry.

Words from Rachael herself:

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • What a memoir is, exactly
  • Why you should (and why you shouldn’t) write a memoir
  • How to start it, and how to get it done
  • How to structure your story to make it truly satisfying to your reader
  • How to tell the truth when memory is fallible or weak
  • How to protect loved one’s feelings
  • How to actually make yourself write
  • How to revise it after you type The End
  • How to get it published

This book isn’t just about memoir, though.

This book is a collection of every tip and trick I’ve ever learned about writing. If you’re only interested in writing novels or poems or short-stories, this book is still for you.

Based on the curriculum I put together when teaching this class at Stanford (which is a $650 class, y’all), Fast-Draft Your Memoir is only $5.99 in ebook, or $11.99 in print. It’s also awesome to order it from your local library (libraries are the best!) if you’re on a budget!

5 on First Friday!!

5 on Friday


  1. Rachael Herron’s new book is released on Sunday!

Fast-Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life Story in 45 Hours by [Herron, Rachael]

You can preorder a copy here.

If you love books about writing, this is the book for you!

If you want to write a memoir, this is the book for you!

If you are a writer that doesn’t want to write a memoir, this book is for you!

It is a workshop in book form. I was lucky enough to snag a copy for review and will be posting more and a full post next week. I actually read this book and did the exercises. It motivated me to write. It reads like you and Rachael are having a conversation. Please check it out! The audio version will be out soon as well.

2. My 6 word story for today:


3. Workshop…Friday?

I participated in an AMAZING workshop today on reading, writing, and teaching. I was able to be surrounded by my tribe and talk books and writing. We talked about hopes and dreams for our students surrounded by great text and thinking. I have some great anchor charts on my wall now too!

Reading Is THINKING!


4. Extraordinary Exit Ticket from Lisa Vahey

Using an index card there are two acronyms to reflect:




5. Daily Poem

This week I started writing a poem throughout the day. I am capturing what is happening with a poetic phrase or two.

Feb 2

It’s Groundhog Day.

It’s Groundhog Day.

6 more weeks of winter

I am ok with that.

Not such a bright moon as yesterday.

My tribe.

Too many directions.

But happy glitter is on the floor.


Have a great weekend everyone!

If We Were Having Coffee…

If we were having coffee readers this is what I would tell you –

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that 2018 has been busy! It feels like it is much later in the year. It is nice to have a lot of things going on.

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that I love driving but it exhausts me. I like it mostly because I can listen to podcasts, learn, and think.

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you that I love all the connections I am making on Twitter. I am reading some great blogs, connecting with great authors and teachers! I would like to have some more IRL connections to writers. I am working on finding a group. I even would like to just get together with a small group and write together in the same room on our own projects.




If we were having coffee…

I would confess that I am evaluating my professional life and trying to figure out where I best fit. This seems an odd sentiment since I am in my 40’s.

If we were having coffee…

I would tell you I am enjoying my Ali Smith book and wish I had more time for reading.

If we were having coffee…what would you tell me?


Thanks to for her inspiration post!


My attitude has changed over my lifetime about naps. As a toddler, I am sure I fought naps like everyone else but needed them nevertheless. As an adult, there are seasons I welcome the mid-morning or afternoon siesta.

I started to adult nap when I started running back in 2010. I went from zero running to a Boston qualifying marathon in 11 months. I needed the extra sleep! I would go to a race on the weekends, and then nap afterward on the weekends.

I used to think naps were a luxury or a symbol of laziness, but I don’t feel the same now. I welcome the nap!

I typed NAP in Google and this popped up:

A short nap is usually recommended (20-30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep. Your sleep environment can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep.

My sleep cycle has changed in recent years. It is typical for me to sleep for 4 to 5 hours, be awake for 1 to 2 hours and then take a nap in the afternoon. This doesn’t always work with my teaching schedule. I sometimes “catch up” on sleep on the weekend which I realize is a controversial idea anyway. There are some camps that do not believe you can “catch up” on sleep really.

I do find the 4-hour sleep cycle is better for my body and energy level. The nights I do sleep straight thru I often wake up groggy. A standard time for me to be up is 3:30 am. Which was also the time I would wake up when pregnant with my son who is 14 now!!!! I didn’t realize there were documented types of sleep cycles until 2 years ago when mine seemed to change. There is even research about how the 4 to 5-hour cycle can be beneficial to your health.

The word to inspire this post came from Check out the website!



Do you take naps?

Here is a link to more information about sleep cycles:


Honoring Reality #DIYMFA

The new prompt from the DIY MFA Book Club: Tell a story about a time when you had to honor your reality. Has there ever been a moment when writing felt completely incompatible with your real life–when it felt like there was just no way you could make the two exist together?

I have been thinking about the concept of balance and honoring the truth of my life for the last couple of years. The idea has pinged subtly in books that I have read like ESSENTIALISM, or a mention in The Simple Show podcast. The concept pops into the front of my brain. Tsh from The Simple Show has been using the format of what you say yes and no to which has really resonated with me. The other podcast and writer that has made me think around this concept is Emily P. Freeman and listening to her podcast The Next Right Thing. She talks about noticing and determining what your personal important list is so you can make the right decisions and goals for YOU.

For much of my life, I have done what is politically correct or the impression of what I thought “I was supposed to do.” This can range from parents, partners, kids, or bosses. As a teacher coach, I use the term: self-imposed rules. Humans impose our own parameters all the time. We use our past experience and excitement and the rules are given to us but sometimes we make it harder on ourselves then we need to.

The job I have now causes me to spend a lot of time dealing with issues that are not related to the content of my profession. I have added tasks related to the commute. I cannot blame all the issues of time and balance on the commute, however. When I was reflecting on how I honor or do not honor reality I was brought back to memories of my first year teaching I became addicted to teaching and doing a great job. I believe in the mission of teaching, inspiring, and facilitating students to become lifelong learners. In my reality that is not just a catchphrase. I was at school 6 in the morning to 6 at night to try to get as much done as I could that first year and by March I was burnt out. I was exhausted and decided to make a solid end time to the day to go home. If I got the work done, great. If not, it would be there tomorrow. For the last couple of months, I took nothing home to work on. I had to replenish or I would be no use to my students.

I would like to say I learned my lesson that first year but I didn’t. I cycle through periods where I throw myself into my work and that’s all that I can focus on. Then I reach the point of sickness or complete exhaustion and scale back with a plan.

In my reading and writing life, I am obsessed with time. I love stories with a time element. I even have a timepiece as part of a tattoo. The white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland is my spirit animal. Time is important to me and I need to honor it because there is only so much of it. I better manage when I do some flexible planning with specific intention to help me complete activities that are truly important to me and my mission.

In spite of all the obstacles, I am always writing. I am composing in my head, dictating on my phone, thinking out issues of story, reading and listening about writing craft, and teaching some students and teachers along the way. This is my new reality. The largest breakthrough in relationship to writing was recent. Hearing Julie Duffy from STORYADAY on Episode 91 of the DIY MFA podcast allowed me to give myself permission to write a story a day even if it was bad. The self-imposed rule for myself was the story had to have a beginning, middle, and end which broke me of the pattern of just starting and letting the end of the story hang out in the blankness of the paper. With the daily story, I didn’t care about the word count. Just one story per day. I was so excited about it I started that day. After about 3 days the stories started to get better. It was a huge paradigm shift. Ray Bradbury’s advice seems appropriate here:

“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

Ray Bradbury

I have to honor the reality and make the writing a priority. I also now recognize that the physical writing is easier for me if I have a little plan. I like to write and see what happens but if I have an idea of three major pieces of a story the writing is much more fun. I honor the reality that my time in the car is not wasted I can enrich myself and think. I honor the reality that I can make notes at the gym in between sets and come back to it later. And I honor the fact that I am older, the commute sometimes makes me tired and I can just sleep or not think about writing. I can come back to it and it will always be there.

I have some goals that are doable. 1 story a week. Most of the time I do more. I need to schedule revision time and use the Google Calendar time blocking it.

For me, honoring the reality is not the big issue. I have to shift my own paradigm to make sure what is on my “important list” is what I know to be important for my own reality, not someone else’s.

Poem: Do Not Touch the Water



Pixies swirl and twitter

Conjuring memories

I do not want to remember

Pixies disguised as trolls

Is what they really are.


Do not shatter my dreams

I scream

To no one

And everyone

I have ever known

At the same time.


They are precious

And mine.

Let me hide behind

What is really true

Do not fracture my illusion.


I am teased by the

Pixies empty promises.

Do not torment me

Leave me be

To my own fantasy

In the trees.


One ripple on the lake

Will remind me

Do not touch the water…

DO NOT touch the water.


Being A Better Cook and Food Gossip

I can cook well but have been out the habit lately. I do have a few signature dishes which makes it appear like I am a better cook than I actually am. Some of my recipes are ones that I have graciously stolen from friends and then made them my own. Some are fancier than others but all are delicious. Otherwise, what would be the point?

There might not be a perfect meal, but there are perfect recipes.

When talking to others, if you mention an unusual ingredient you have cooked with like bok choy that not too many people are familiar with then your cooking street cred goes way up. Having a few signature dishes makes it appear as if you are a better chef than you actually are. My husband is really good at taking what’s in the refrigerator and producing a meal out of it or taking leftovers and making it look completely different. I have not honed that particular cooking skill myself.

What seems like another lifetime ago, I was a Pampered Chef consultant and worked my way through the cookbooks. The goal was to not only try new recipes but also practice cooking because I wanted to get better. I learned how different things went together to combine to have a new taste. I learned what lemon zest was used for and how baking needed to be exact. The first time I heard about working your way through a cookbook was when Calista Flockheart said in an interview she was working through a cookbook with her husband, Harrison Ford one recipe at a time. It sounded romantic and fun.

Honing my cooking skills was intrinsically rewarding. The people I lived with at the time were not so enthusiastic about my culinary adventures. He frequently did not eat the dishes I prepared not because it tasted bad but because it was the wrong mix of texture or used an ingredient that he didn’t like.






In my quest to be better at something I read. As with all my other obsessions, I have books that I refer to when thinking about any topic. Now I have expanded the digital repertoire to interesting websites as well. Michael Pollen is popular food writer In Defense of Food , and I enjoyed the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker. It was a life experiment for her and she chose only 7 foods to eat for a period of time. Which of course made me think of the 7 foods I would choose.


There is an online magazine called Life & Thyme which has beautiful photography and articles about food. There was a whole issue about nostalgia and as I read I made notes of what food is nostalgic for me. Most of it is what my Oma used to make. I had forgotten so many dishes until I was reading someone elses writing. That often happens. Some ideas just seem to appear out of no where to me.




The food memoir MY BERLIN KITCHEN was written by a woman raised in Germany who had the knack to cook for her friends without a recipe. The idea of being able to make several things without a recipe that are more complicated than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich intrigues me. She writes about food she makes for her friends. I imagine a time when people would come over and I could just whip up something with items from the fridge. I made her recipe for chicken with tomatoes and wine and shallots and garlic. I should have put it over noodles.

When I was living by myself I would stop at the store and see what struck my fancy and then I would use what I had in the fridge. Whatever protein was on sale was what I made. I experimented. I made dinner for my parents. I tired new recipes on the weekend. Coconut bread, avocado taco salad, but nothing too crazy.

Food has become part of my family’s entertainment and it has been fun along the way! It is always fun to talk about food! Almost as much as book gossip! Is there food gossip?