A Trip Down Memory Lane…Kinda #SOL19

Every Tuesday I post a slice of life and share in the challenge at Two Writing Teachers.

Lately, I have noticed shadows of things that I thought were new to my life but actually are not. It is amazing what reflection can bring forth.

I think of myself as a reflective person, and not just at the end of the school year. I always want to learn and become better and reflection is a large part of this process in my opinion.

With my discovery of short stories and I being creative soul mates over the recent last couple of years, I did not think that I had that much experience with short stories before. I had no recollection of reading many of them in high school other than The Celestial Omnibus . I do have a special place in my heart for this story, which is why I suspect it stands out.

Yesterday, while looking for something else, I stumbled across my ELA folder from school. In my corporation, writing samples were saved in a district folder that followed you from elementary to senior year where it was given to you unceremoniously. I have kept it all these years.

Curious, I started thumbing through it and was reminded of papers I wrote for Macbeth and for Of Mice and Men…then I stumbled on papers in connection to short stories.

One is WINTER DREAMS by F Scott Fitzgerald. I printed it off and began reading. I don’t remember reading it at all! It was a trip down memory lane – slight skewed.

I wrote a paper about Judy Jones and her many personality aspects. It isn’t the most riveting paper I must say. I had strong opinions and did not like this character much at all!

I look forward to finding new stories to read that I have read before. It will be like the first time…again.

#WeekendCoffeeShare #Mothersday

Today please join me for a coffee at a little diner that looks like we have gone back in time. The mugs are ceramic and thick. The booths are red pleather. There is a buzz in the air that is snippets of conversation from babies to retirement age and the smell of strong coffee.

While we are having coffee I will tell you this past week was full of testing, late nights, and writing.

While we are having coffee I would tell you Storyaday May is going strong. I have written everyday and it is going well. I am following the prompts from Julie and Sarah Selecky. Most days I am able to combine both into one story which makes me happy and satisfied for some reason. I also was able to come back to my manuscript and start to write some stories that will be embedded into the novel. At my writing retreat in Feb. I was able to outline the whole book and see where there were holes and alignment issues. my brain is starting to plug those holes as I write which is exciting.

While we are having coffee I would tell you I am enjoying my writing community. I am checking in with the group every day. I have a few people I talk to more often with email or private messages. Monday night was our video meeting and it was nice to do some timed writing sprints with people around the country. I was also able to check in with a small group on Friday as well which was a great vibe.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you the Bradbury Trio challenge is going strong as well. I cannot pinpoint works this week that have stayed with me. I did relisten to The Ormulu Clock by Muriel Spark.

While we are having coffee I will tell you testing has gone on all week. I had my regular group two days and then on all the off times I was doing make up tests. It gives me time to write by hand since I cannot be connected to technology. I welcome the tech vacation every year at this time.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I had a good coaches meeting with one of our consultants. She is always motivating. We talked about goals and reflecting. The year is not over for my building yet so I am not quite in the end of year mode.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am back to running. I am having some complicated feelings about the activity to be honest. I was hard core before for various reasons but now the motivations for the runs are different. I had a glorious run at the national lakeshore on Friday and ran down a new trail which was beautiful and sandy. I even ran along the water which I have not done in years. the stairs took me to overlook the park too.

Trail 7

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am tired but am not dwelling on it. Sunday is Mother’s Day. I have complicated feelings about this holiday. I will spend some time with one of my sons and enjoy that. The rest of the day I will deal with my memories. Maybe it will end up in a story.

What will you tell me while we have coffee?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

What is Your Mantra? #10thingstotellyou

The podcast #10thingstotellyou is becoming one of my favorites.

This week’s question had me thinking that I have several mantras. Some are for work. Some are for general life. Some are for running.

My general life mantra is:

Everything is temporary.

The good in life is temporary as well as the bad. It is a phrase that keeps me grounded and from having my anxiety spiral out of control.

A mantra I use in teaching and coaching is:

I have chosen a word of the year that guides my thinking and is a mantra in a sense. This year’s word is:

For running the mantra in a race is:

This is what you have been training for. Or Just keep going.

Just keep going works for writing too!

What are your mantras?

Weekend Coffee Share – May is HERE!

Today let’s have coffee at the table under the trees! I have a hammock for you and one for me for later if we want to move. I am having black coffee, as usual. What would you like from the cafe section of my kitchen?

Later today we are going to a White Sox game so I am very excited! The weather is supposed to be great.

While we are having coffee I will tell you this past week has been amazing for writing!

I wrote a breathless paragraph led by Kathy Fish in her Skillshare class. I am so glad I am able to learn from her now. If you have time, I would highly recommend the class. Skillshare is pretty easy to navigate. I have my longer class with her in July which I am anticipating happily but this is a good introduction.

I am writing a story a day. I have 5 including today. Today’s prompt is a 100 word story. This is harder than you think. I had 106 first and then I pared it down to 93. I worked it back up to 100!

I am writing 10 minutes a day with Sarah Selecky’s prompts which is stretching me in surprising ways.

I started on a specific writing manifesto.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you about some of the great reads from this past week’s Bradbury Trio.

Essay: To Grieve Is To Carry Another Time

Short story: Popular Mechanics by Raymond Carver

Sarah Selecky’s short story: Go Manchura

While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One is Jefferson Dinners.

Two is Ben Franklin circles.

Three is the NEW Moon.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I am loving the Superstars community through storyaday.org. Getting involved with this group has been a great thing for my writing life! You can get involved in the challenge by commenting on each day’s prompt at the site.

StoryADay

What was the best thing about your week?

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

Weekend Coffee Share – Last April Sunday

It is time for our weekly coffee chat! I am so glad you have joined me today. Today let’s have coffee under the large tree out back. We will have a picnic with bread from the bakery and some cheeses. I will get some of the little fruit tarts for us too.

I am having black coffee. What would you like today?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my school started state testing this week. It is a new system and a new test, but everything seems to be going smoothly. As a teacher it is never fun to test the kids, but necessary, as it is a mandate.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted the intro meeting to my short story club with a small group of 7th graders. It was amazing and full of interesting conversation and observations. If you missed that post you can read it here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you Friday I went to my last coaching training for the year with Jim Knight. I am lucky to be offered this training and am grateful. It has not only made me a better coach, but also has brought me closer to the other coaches I work with in the district. I met some people I would have not otherwise met too. Hope was the topic for the day related to being a better leader. I loved this training. There is a great checklist of items for me to focus on for the rest of this year at work and to begin planning for the fall. I wrote about it yesterday.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been exhausted this week. The schedule has been different and I have not been sleeping well. I slept a much needed full night on Friday and am taking the day off and not going anywhere on Saturday. The concept of burning out keeps coming up for me this week too. I have to be careful I do not allow myself to go into that spiral.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I was going to take myself on an artist date on Friday. Do you ever do that thing where at 7am it seems like good idea to plan something then when 3 pm rolls around it doesn’t sound that awesome anymore? Yeah…that is what I did. I was going to take myself to an independent bookstore or a cafe in Chicago before I left the city. I looked up a couple and had chosen The Book Table but I was so tired from the training that I changed my mind. THEN it took me 2 hours to get home when it should have only been an hour. UGH. I am not sure if it was the right choice or not. I felt like my next right thing was to go home and eat and sleep.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One are the videos from Julie Duffy about preparations for StoryADay May. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I have been connecting with some of the new members to the Superstars group which has been fun!

A second creative spark is Number 26.

A third creative spark for me are the stories and poems I read this week for my Bradbury Trio.

A fourth creative spark this week is Sarah Selecky’s website. I am really contemplating her short story self guided course.

Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I joined the Superstars group through StoryADay and am excited for a year of support. The prompts are amazing every day in May and then I love the interaction with the writers. Knowing that there is a core group of people in the writing group to chat with once a week is motivating as well. You can still sign up for Superstars before May 1st! You should consider joining us.

StoryADay

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

3+ Ideas about Hope

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The word hope has come up several times this week. I have learned that if a concept keeps showing itself in different venues then I need to pay attention.

Yesterday was my last session with Jim Knight for instructional coaching training and the topic was being a Better Leader. One of the main concepts was …you guessed it…HOPE.

Shane J. Lopez is a psychologist who has written about hope extensively. His definition is “the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so.”

Part of Knight’s training session yesterday was asking the question: How are you living your life? Are you spending time on the things you are passionate about? This idea is how we keep hope alive and partly how we teach ourselves to be hopeful.

At this time of the school year it is easy to dip into the valley of despair and lose hope. I have to keep reminding myself I do the work I do to provide an environment of inspiration and learning for what is best for kids. When you are worried about schedules, state testing, and getting through the day sometimes you forget.

Part of this process is to do the next right thing. If you know where you are going, this isn’t as hard as it seems. Action is what needs to happen.

Knight asked us to think of someone who we thought of as a hope mentor. A person that emanates hope who we can learn from. Having a hope mentor is partly how we can teach ourselves to be hopeful. My person is Maya Angelou. She was open, intelligent, overcame obstacles, and can command a room. She was an amazing woman and I am thankful I was able to hear her speak before she passed away.

What are you most excited about?

Hope is doing more of what makes you happy.

Hope is allowing other people to teach you being hopeful.

Hope is having a hope mentor.

Three Things about Hope

Having hope means you have a preferred future vision. You can visualize it. You have goals.

Having hope means you have the belief you can get here. There is magic here.

Having hope means you have multiple pathways to get to that preferred future.

Some questions to consider and reflect on today:

What gives you energy and therefore hope?

What is your purpose? How do you make a difference?

Am I doing what I really want to do with my time?

What is working and what do I need to modify?

What is your next right thing?

This past week was busy for me. My sleep suffered and I was starting to crash. I was not taking care of myself.

Part of what helped me was 12 hours of sleep and the life giving conversation I had yesterday with my fellow coaches. We made plans to support each other in our hope. These questions are still with me today. I will do some more journaling and thinking as the day moves forward.

I would love to hear your thoughts on HOPE! Comment below…

Short Story Club

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Yesterday I hosted the introductory meeting of the Short Story Club for my 7th graders. It is a small group that is focusing on deep conversation about stories and time to write in response to them. After listening to Daniel Bauer’s School Leadership Series podcast I may have them name themselves. I would be curious where their minds would go as a label.

I handed out a copy of the Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is an interesting author who attended the Iowa Writers Workshop, but did not have a pleasant experience. She also sometimes calls her stories, “buttons”.

Many of the students had read this story previously so this was a revisit. I asked them to read it through the lens of a writer. I wanted them to pay attention and notice particular things for them to purposefully use later.

  • What pops out to you in feelings from reading this selection?
  • What lines do you notice that you like or wish you had written?
  • What craft moves is the author using that you would like to try?
  • What aspects of your own life does the story remind you of?

I allowed them to annotate on their copy, and I followed suit with mine.

The discussion then followed after reading time, focusing on the above questions.

Noticings from students:

  • The details. It was noticed and remarked that the story has the structure of being taken apart and then put together again with added details.
  • The metaphors. There were trite metaphors used referring to onions and rings inside a tree trunk in paragraph 3. These examples caused quite strong opinions. There were mixed feelings about using familiar metaphors as opposed to new ones. The unfamiliar seemed to unsettle several writers. They said a mix of familiar and unfamiliar was the perfect mix for them as readers. They also remarked that unsettling new metaphors were best in stories where you were trying to conjure those feelings – like in a scary story.
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I also asked them to share what they would write (if we had time). If they were to give themselves a prompt based on the story. What did it inspire them to write?

The responses were a mix of expected and not. Milestone ages were one topic for several students but not traditional in my eyes. One student talked about being old enough to ride his moped to school (15 1/2 years old). Quinceaneras at 15 were also discussed.

Not feeling the age you are was a common writing topic as well.

For next time I gave them a longer piece to read and mark with the same noticings: The Doormakers Will Make No Doors .

I also gave them the poem, Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye.

We will use these pieces to write the next time we meet. A companion poem I like to use with the Eleven story is Billy Collin’s On Turning Ten poem.

I am always looking for great short stories! Is there a suggestion you have for me? Leave the title in the comments and I would appreciate it.

Weekend Coffee Share – April 21

Today let’s have coffee at the table, in the bump out of the little bookstore downtown. We can chat and watch the people go by. There is a bakery across the street so I will pick out a couple croissants for us. They have some delicious chocolate ones that will go perfectly with our elixir.

I am having black coffee. What would you like from the cafe barista?

While we are having coffee I will tell you about the video meeting with my writing group I had Wednesday night. It was life giving and motivating. I love these writers and it is easy for me to set up these times.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you about the relief of knowing my car is fixed. I don’t like dealing with the bill but there is more relief than I anticipated as I drive every day.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I have had many creative sparks this week.

One is the video from Julie Duffy about getting ready for StoryADay May. I encourage you if you want a boost to your writing life to participate in the challenge this year. The prompts are free and there is support in the community. You can also set your own rules. I choose to write a story a day but you can write 4 or choose days to write. You can check out her cool video here.

Another creative spark is the short story Saint Bus Driver by J.E. McCafferty.

There are such great lines in this story. The discussion on Literary Roadhouse was fun too. It has stayed with me and I keep thinking about it. If you read it later and would like to talk about it please let me know!

A third creative spark for me was perfect for April being poetry month. Billy Collins has created a Masterclass and I found it this week. I have made it through 13 of the 20 lessons! He is joyful to listen to. I use his poems a lot for use with kids. They are straightforward. It is inspiring to listen to him talk about writing technique. I am always learning!

A fourth creative spark this week is the Pink Full Moon.

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Do you need a refill on your coffee? I am going to get another. I think before we leave we should wander the stacks and find at least one book to recommend to each other.

While we are having coffee I will tell you I wrote everyday. I sent a story to a contest. I am getting mentally ready for storyaday May and excited about it. I tend to binge listen to the StoryADay podcast right before! There are lots of prompts and Julie’s voice is nice to listen to. Lots of notes go into Google Keep so I can write about them later.

StoryADay

While we are having coffee I will tell you I read some great short stories this week. I am trying to be more diligent about logging my reading but find it cumbersome. I found a new to me flash fiction author, Meg Pokrass who I am enjoying. She was recommended by Amber Sparks who is a wonderful short story writer herself.

While we are having coffee, I will tell you I feel like there are lots of decisions that are hiding around the corner from me. I am trying not to worry myself but there is something coming. It is not good nor bad, it will just be, but I can feel it looming! I am thankful for having The Next Right Thing book to help me navigate though. It brings me joy and focus. I am hoping to participate in a book club with this title soon. My next right thing now is to publish this post!

While we are having coffee, I would tell you our teaming consultant visited this week and was wonderful. The meetings with him, my writer video meeting, and some great short stories has refueled my passion for my Inner Circle Gathering Idea. I believe I can pull it off online. The first ones are being planned to use a short story and some activities surrounding the text and then doing some writing exercises as well. Let me know in the comments or a message to me directly at tammybreitweiser@gmail.com if you are interested.

Thank you so much for joining me for coffee! I always enjoy our visits and today was no different. Let’s have coffee again soon!

Here is the link to Eclectic Alli and her weekend coffee post and link up.

3 Question Wednesday

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

I would want to have dinner with my Oma and Opa and my husband’s grandparents, Frank and Gert. No question!

Neil Gaiman would be my choice if I had to choose someone alive.

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2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

No. I want my writing to be famous, but not personally famous. I wouldn’t want paparazzi to follow me around.

3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?

Yes. I am afraid to be caught without knowing what to say. I will plan and rehearse for hours for a 10 minute or less phone call.

Feel free to answer the questions in the comments!