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?

What Gap Do You Need to Close? #SOL20

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In education, we talk about gaps all the time. The gap of learning where children start and where we want them to go based on standards and minimum requirements. Sometimes it is how we can enrich a child that has special potential. 

We are always minding the gap.

Summer is the time for educators to examine the gaps within our own knowledge and experience and fill that to become a better instructor.

So I ask you today, what gap do you need to close for yourself professionally?

Over the course of the spring many of us had to close gaps in our knowledge arsenal quickly. I learned how to make Screencastify videos, how to be comfortable trying to teach through a screen, how to create and take a virtual field trip, how to engage students over a Zoom meeting, and how to make and manipulate a Bitmoji classroom.

I am always learning. 

The dreams about school have already started for me. I dreamed I changed classrooms with a teacher I taught with several years ago. I was teaching intervention groups in the hallway. I was trying to order a calendar set and worried it wouldn’t come in on time.

Usually, the dreams don’t start until August but this was an unusual school year for me. Not only did I have to conquer the pandemic constraints to my job but I also changed jobs and states. This was the change I desired. The teaching from home and the ending of the school year was not my choice but as a kindergarten teacher, you have to be adaptable.

I have a professional book to read for school this summer. I am making lists in my passion planner of things I want to buy and do this year with my kindergartners. I have excitement to start the school year already. 

I have a list of books I will try to find at the thrift shop for my classroom. I am looking at the activities and protocols I will teach the first week. I pay attention to my Pinterest feed and am making materials to use with my students. I am going to use Canva more to make certain items visually appealing. I have the time now and can play without the pressure of having to push it out immediately.

I am a risk-taker in my classroom. If an idea comes to the surface we try it and see what happens. I am open with the kids about this. I tell them – if we like it and it works we keep it. If not, we chuck it.

I will have a spot on my board for something interesting that day. It might be a quote, a picture to make them think, a question of the day, or a fun word for them to use.

I am going to do priming exercise with my kids every day to get them ready for learning. It is a combination of breathing and visualizations. 

To keep me on my toes I have decided to write an article about education every week. This is easy to remember with Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge.

One of the things I want to bring to my kids this year is delight. School is supposed to be fun. I have to figure out how to layout my room. Thinking through some of the activities I want to incorporate into the day will help with this task as well.

To close the gap, I will study and make sure to take notes. How will you?

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!!!

Sunday Delights

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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?

Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and a Conversation

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Welcome back to the weekend! What a week this has been. There has been turmoil and change. Hopefully, we are all headed in a better direction.

I am having black coffee today. I have a few other varieties if you like.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this was the last week of online learning for my kindergartners. My team and I decided to create Bitmoji classrooms for these final 5 days. What an amazing resource this ended up being! I am going to incorporate these into my regular instruction next school year. A fantastic resource is Teaching with Neons on Instagram.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went into my classroom to close it up on Wednesday. Since January I started a new job, resigned from another, moved states, lost my voice, went through sheltering in place, and the list goes on. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn the new school system and curriculum this spring to be ready for the fall. When I begin the school year, I will know how things work and I am so thankful for that buffer. All my student items were put in paper bags and organized in the gym for pick up later this month. It is a strange feeling and not the “right” way in my mind to close the year but it is what we have. We did a dance party on Zoom with the kids on Thursday.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my goal for this week was to write my Sarah Selecky prompt and post to the private forum. I am happy to say I have done this every day. I have also commented every day on other’s writing.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my “Back to Zero” health and body program is going well. I saw a huge difference in my body this week on Day 14. The movement every day, at least 3 huge glasses of ice water, and fasting is working. I feel better, have more energy, and will be fitting back into my pants very soon!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my #the100dayproject is going well and on track. Somehow, I had gotten a day behind so I am thankful for the update emails from the host of the challenge. The story is forming one sentence at a time.

Do you need a refill? I have some ice water as well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am studying more about decisions and preferences, priming, Janning, and the gap I want to close. I have been looking at my schedule and anticipating the ways it will go well and anticipating the things that might mess it up. I also color-coded my Passion Planner today. I had been using the photocopied version in a binder but purchased the real book when they went on sale during the sheltering in place. I am using the 4ish blank months of pages to write down writing prompts, tarot spreads, and quotes. I went with color pencils this time. I used to use highlighters and prefer this method.

If we were having coffee, I would give you a hug and thank you for sharing time with me. I send you happiness and light this week as you move through your week.

I would love to hear how your week was!

Relentless

Efficient and Relentless | John Hembree

I have learned to pay attention to words my intuition pings at me. Today it is RELENTLESS. “Steady and relentless determination” is the phrase that stands out on the page that reminds me of when this word was used to describe me.

A coworker I respected used this word to describe my passion and drive for education. I had never seen anyone who had so many devices going at once: computer, iPad, two phones. He crunched numbers like his life depended on it. One of the first weekends I met him, he started to talk about data in connection to test scores and student achievement. I understood everything he said. He seemed surprised when I asked questions about stats he didn’t think I would understand.

I had been told by many in this organization that how I looked and what my resume read didn’t match to them. This was also the weekend where all my tattoos were visible. This aspect of. my appearance threw him off for days. It didn’t match to him.

Data man told me over and over how he appreciated my relentlessness for our organization to be the best. I had a desire and passion for all my students to achieve. I tried to set up a greenhouse effect for them to overcome whatever I could set up for them to pursue. I took it as a compliment at the time. It meant that I was hyper focused on achievement and the business like style of education. At that moment, it was serving me well.

One of the disadvantages of being relentless is that I have often been described as hard. As someone to be afraid of. Adults mostly feel this way, not kids. I have been called difficult, a bitch, hard to work with because I will not compromise my expectations. I like to know things and will relententlessly pursue knowledge. One of the things that people think I am is judgmental. Many feel that if they are not as dedicated to something as I am that I look down on them. Everyone has their own style of how they succeed. It has been one of the aspects I have had to brush aside knowing I cannot control other people and their reactions.

I learned that being relentless still makes you replaceable. If you do not teach reading through a computer like the CEO wants you to you are replaceable. Your days are numbered. Trite but true.

In the end, I am not sure that relentless was the best way to be. I thought if I was hard and driven then I would get more done. I think I scared people. But there was power in that I didn’t hate. People don’t question you if they are afraid. If you have an agenda placed before you in an unrealistic time frame this is a temporary solution.

There was a time that I thought all the time spent at school would help my students achieve more. I am not sure that is the case now. If I have nothing to give my students then I will burn out. 

I still think about school and my students almost all the time.

I am trying to learn to be persistent but a little more flexible.

I have made the decision to do so but will keep you posted.

IWSG May

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!

May 6 question –

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? 

As a writer, I like rhythm and routine. I start the day with my coffee and my writing. It is always the first thing I do in the morning. Some days are better than others, but the writing always gets done. The words have to get on the page.

I most often start with a prompt but free-writing allows whatever is on my mind to get into the notebook. Sometimes it is reflection, but many times it is fiction. Yesterday when I woke I wrote a story based on the dream I had just came from. I often am in the middle of a challenge. This month I am participating in Storyaday where I write a complete story every day. It does not have to be good or long, just finished. There is power in the act of finishing and learning from that process.

During the day I listen to podcasts and read. I have to make sure there is input. I have had to change some of the venues because of the sheltering in place. I have found I miss the overheard conversations from life before COVID. I take advantage of the writing communities I belong to and have conversations with other writers.

If I am having trouble with ideas and flow, I will switch from handwriting to typing or vise versa. If I am thinking out a story then handwriting often works best. It is slower and my thoughts can trickle out with the pen drawing the letters. If the idea is hot then typing is faster and the ideas do not get tripped up before I can get the scene out.

Walking or running is also another solution to being stuck.

Since I have a list of actions that work for me, I choose the one that seems to solve the problem at hand.

What works for you?