I am having black coffee today as usual. What would you like today? I think we should take a walk after we have a cup or two. The weather has been less humid here this week.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am in a course hosted by Caroline Donahue called “Write Free”. It is about coming back to your creativity and getting through blocks. She uses the Mighty Network which works well for this project in my opinion. There is a great community and the content has been stellar in week one. I was able to persuade three writing friends to join so that has been a fun thing to share as well.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I hosted Workshop Wednesday this past week. I prefer interactive classes and it was small enough in order for lots of conversation. The conversation centered around personality types and communication. Many people shared and we laughed a lot.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you my kids tease me about doing Zoom calls in the closet. When I have to record anything audio or video it is a good spot with less noise. For workshops I go in there as well of course. A few people made comments afterwards about me teaching from the closet. Sounds like a title of a podcast. The new life we live!!
Do you need a refill? I always drink the first cup so fast!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you my Back to Zero plan is still on track with fasting, hydration, and exercise. I ran/walked every day this past week. There were lots of interactions with animals this week. There are horses I pet on my way every day. There is also an attack mama turkey.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I learned about DMO this past Monday. It stands for Daily Method of Operation. It is the 3-5 things that if you do them means a successful day to you. I made a Keep note and have done my three every day. It is a nice tracking piece for me until it becomes engrained.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had a wonderful conversation with a friend on Tuesday and it lit my brain on fire. She made a comment to me that brought me back to what is, not what my perspective is. I have been thinking more and more about going back to coaching. I enjoy it so much. The Workshop Wednesday allowed me to use some of these skills as well as some other conversations this week. The lists have begun in the notebook!
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am following the Ninja Writers BYOB (Blog Your Own Book) program this month. Last month was planning and this month is writing. I like the format that Shaunta talks about for articles and so far the community has been wonderful as well.
I would love to hear what delighted you this week!
I have been able to attend several writing conferences through my work over the years. One that had profound impact on me was the writers at work hosted by Ruth Culham in Sun Valley Idaho. I did not know the landscape could be so beautiful in a place I associate with potatoes. This education celebrity met with her small circle of authors every year to plan workshops for the year. Then she opened it up to other educators. The travel there had been adventurous for me with a small plane flying through a thunderstorm. It reminded me of the first time I was on a plane when I was 6 years old.
One of the speakers was Ralph Fletcher. He talked about how all teacher needed to be a writer with a lowercase w. The only difference between a writer with a capital and lowercase w is that capital w writers get paid. If you write, you are a writer.
As teachers, we need our students to learn to write in order to express themselves. I have found through my coaching and my own education experience that writing scares the hell out of most people. There is not a lot of instruction in writing in teacher prep courses. Why would you expect your students to do something that you are unwilling to do?
My Action List:
Unpack the Text
Learn Through Your Ears
Write in the Edges
Join a group of creatives or writers
Ray Bradbury said readone poem a night, one short story a night, one essay a night, for the next 1,000 nights.
This is his formula for an MFA. It works.
It is impossible to not be a better writer if you follow this formula. Read what you like from authors you like. It does not have to be any way connected to the grade level you teach.
Essays: Natalie Goldberg, Ray Bradbury, Zadie Smith, David Sedaris, Roxane Gay
Short stories: Nancy Stohlman, Kathy Fish, Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link
Poems: Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye
Unpack The Text
When you read a piece you particularly write then study it. Ask yourself these questions:
What works in this piece and how does it make me feel?
How did the author achieve this feeling in me?
What are my favorite lines?
What can I try in my own writing that the author does?
Action: Write something inspired by the text you studied.
Learn Through Your Ears
One of the ways I take advantage of extra time is to listen to podcasts. I love writing podcasts in particular. I listen to podcasts mostly in the car and during workouts. There is a rotation but I always learn something.
Why is This Good? Naples Writers’ Workshop
How Do You Write? Rachael Herron
The Writers Well Podcast J Thorn and Rachael Herron
How Writers Write
Stop Writing Alone Nicole Rivera
Qwerty Marion Roach Smith
Fierce Womxn Writing
Good Life Project
Any podcast with Karissa Kouchis as a guest.
I also like audio courses. I have been listening to Tony Robbins and his Personal Power 30 day program and his Beautiful State training.
Listen to what fuels you and write down the memories and stories that come to mind as you listen. Write about those ideas.
Write in the Edges
I learned a long time ago that if I want to make sure I do something, I have to schedule it.
Write now, open your planner/schedule and plan a 10 minute writing time for the next 7 days.
During that time write:
Whatever comes to mind
The story about one of your notes
A reflection of a favorite line from something you read
A new story based on a title of something you have read
Anything in response to a journal prompt
How you are feeling in that moment
My advice is also to carry a notebook and write down ideas that strike you, an overhead conversation, an interesting detail, a 5 senses description of where you are throughout the day. I strive for at least 10 snippets a day.
If you don’t like the notebook use a note taking app on your phone. I am partial to Google Keep. It backs itself up (I lost a whole note app full of gems I can never get back – a whole other story.) You can share notes and also easily make it a Google Doc. You can also use voice to text in this app which works for me when walking or driving. If you run and try to talk there are weird connections of words the device will pick up!
Challenges give me a structure and a schedule. There are small challenges and large ones but I gravitate to 30 day or 100 challenges. Some examples are: Storyaday May and September, NANOWRIMO, #the100dayproject, Five Minute Friday (FMF), and Two Writing Teachers blogging.
Storyaday: This challenge is hosted by Julie Duffy and it is just what it sounds like: one story a day for the month of May and/or September. I have challneged my middle school students to do this challenge as well.
NANOWRIMO: National Novel Writing month. This challenge is to write a 50,000 word manuscript in the month of November.
#the100dayproject: A creative challenge that starts at the beginning of April. The artist creates something every day. In 2020, I wrote a random sentence every day and am creating a short story based on these sentences. Some people do post it note drawings, or doodles, or paintings, or 100 word essays, or poems. It is up to you!
FMF: Hosted by Kate Motaung Kate posts a word on Friday with a great visual. You write with this word for five minutes.
Two Writing Teachers Blog: Every Tuesday, teacher writers post on their own blogs and link up on the TWT blog. In March there is a daily blog challenge where there is support and lots of comments.
Join A Group
There are lots of groups to choose from. Lots of time if you take a class or workshop you can find people you want to continue to talk to after the course is over. There are many writing groups online that are more public like Twitter and Instagram.
There are communities you can join such as Storyaday Superstars, Ninja Writers, Sarah Selecky Writing School, Teachwrite, and Jackie Aston. Almost every author you follow has a connection to a community somewhere. I found Storyaday by Googling several years ago. Find your people!
The point is you want to find a group that is nourishing to you. Some are paid, some are free but you may have to try a few before you find the one where you fit.
After you try one or all six of these ideas, your brain will start to make connections to how this translates to your classroom. It can even be one of the things you write about during your scheduled 10 minutes.
If you write, you are a writer.
Your students will listen to you more as a model of being a writer rather than being someone who just talks about writing. There must be action.
Next Right Step
Make a change in your writing life today. Write something. Buy a notebook and a pen you like.
Several weeks ago a book came into my circle of influence called
Ross Gay decided to write an essay about a daily delight starting on his birthday. I was delighted (ha ha) when I found this idea and started logging my own delights. I started with essays, but then switched to logging my delights in my Keep notes or in my Passion Planner.
What delights you?
Here is a small list of mine:
The Delight of a little bit of shade with trees on my sunny running route.
The Delight of a discovery of a pattern.
The Delight of sparkle water. This is what I call the carbonated water in a can like Perrier. This is my new favorite drink.
The Delight of hearing the perfect phrase on a podcast when you know the Universe is working FOR you.
The Delight of being in a canoe on the Wisconsin River with the perfect weather and the perfect company.
It is the weekend again! Summer is moving along. We have been engrossed in it for a week now. Have you done anything fun?
I am having black coffee today since I am fasting. I have some creamer and some other flavors. Would you like ice water today? It has been hot here. I do love these mugs though. I bought some after I had coffee in them at a coffee shop back in Indiana.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we went to a water park for Father’s Day. Because of corona and the ripple effect, there were only about 6 rides open. It was a beautiful sunny 80-degree day. Because of my Back to Zero program, I was not embarrassed to be in a swimsuit. By the time we go camping at the end of July, I will be back to the weight and look want to be. We rode the slides until we didn’t feel like it anymore. We ate in the park because the meal deals came with our tickets. Then we of course stopped for ice cream. I am going to have to call this the ICE CREAM Share by the time summer is over.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am taking a writing class this week and couldn’t be more thrilled. After I read the first story on Monday morning I was blown away with how wonderful all the writing is from the other participants. There was one It was one flash piece that stuck with me all day and I kept going back to reread it. The exercises are ones that I can come back to again and again. The instructor has at least 5 example stories for each day, most of which were new to me. I also appreciated the mini video explanations that she included this time as well. It was so worth the money but her classes always are.
If we were having coffee I would tell you my story was published in a book! Here is the link to purchase. I am super excited to have a story and an essay now in a real book. I loved this story too called APP WORLD and had fun writing it.
If we were having coffee I would tell you a poem was published this week. You can read it here.It is called Window of Time.
If we were having coffee I would tell you I published an article about closing gaps in Teachers on Fire magazine. Even if you aren’t a teacher, summer is a time to learn something new or take an action to become more of the person you want to be. You can click and read that here.
If we were having coffee I would tell you we went to the beach this week. We played in the water, jumped off the pier, and enjoyed the beautiful day. Of course, there was ice cream involved before we set back home.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you a friend through Unleashing Her Power Within just launched her website. Her first post is up and it is amazing! Check that out here.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you the kids and I went to a fun tourist attraction called the TOP SECRET Upside Down House. The kids’ reactions were the best. There was a photo op before we went in of course. They each got little secret agent cards. Then we went to lunch. It was an adventure.
If we were having coffee, I would tell you a writing friend and I have decided to check in with each other more often. We have been giving feedback to each other’s writing the last couple of weeks and I am glad to welcome her to my inner circle of writing! I was thrilled she reached out.
What is new with you this week? What decisions have you made to move forward?
I would love to hear. Til next week’s coffee time!
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?
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!!!
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.
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.