Writing Prompt

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

 -Barack Obama

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Writing Activity #1: Senses writing….a little different based on an idea from David Greenberg

Push for the detail……..

Use the sentence stem: I know

Choose a place to start with for brainstorming.

For example:

I know shopping at the mall. Write all the smells you have encountered at the mall.

The smell of cinnamon
Scented candles
Buttery popcorn.

Then continue the listing process with the other senses.

I know shopping at the mall: (sounds)

Plastic bags rustling
Elevator chain squeaking
Escalator purring

I know shopping at the mall: (statements/phrases heard)

May I help you?
Are we done yet?

After you write the lists a story will emerge and you will have a dynamic list of senses and dialogue to use.

Other sentences to play with:

I know our school.

I know Thanksgiving.

I know vacation in __________.

I know (name of character)

Writing well is about playing with language. I always like writing prompts because they allow the writer to think about something from a different angle.

Happy writing!

Day 7 Energy Challenge

Welcome to Day 7

Welcome to Llama Tuesday! This is a silly tradition I started last year. I am drawn to llamas which makes no sense – it is just pure fun. There are two toy llamas looking at me from the bookshelf this morning too!

What is something that delights you?

Yesterday I taught a 2 hour workshop in the morning that I can only describe as magical. The teachers were amazing and shared. There was a lot of learning packed into those 2 hours. I wish I would have videotaped it.

The workshop topic was EL education protocols and CREW which are fundamental pieces to increase student talk in the classroom. We participated in over 6 protocols during the workshop duration but was calm and fun not pressed for time.

Here is a quote for today to think about:

Q & A Collections: Teaching Social Studies -- all my Ed Week posts from the past three years on teaching social studies -- all in one place!

Today I want you to reflect on your energy –

What is something that fueled your students’ learning today?
What is something that drained your students in the classroom?
What did you learn about your students?

Until tomorrow!
I send you warmth and laughter!


Consider This

I delight in the breakfast that is made for me with love including rye toast, sausage links, and perfectly over easy eggs.

A writing friend tells me about a Goldberg book I don’t know and the rush is immediate as I read the description of it being Zen and the little sister of Bones. I wonder why I also name the friend with writing as a label. Do I believe it matters?

The pottery mug used every morning for coffee is a comfort and a pattern.

Podcasts in my ears as drive make the hum of the tires go away for more energizing thoughts.

I drive past the old water park now overgrown and abandoned with a for sale sign on the corner. And as creepy as it looks like a horror movie set I remember the joyous times we had there when it was Enchanted Forest. A tiny theme park with the Mousetrap roller coaster, boats, the octopus ride I almost fell out, Skeeball, and the ski lift umbrellas.

The tall brown grass grows between the curves of the snake water slide hiding the phantom laughter.

The man-made lake in the tiny Town was my introduction to the workforce when I was 17 years old. Many rainy days I spent playing Dodge pong more than Ping. I had thigh welts to prove it.

A look alike Santa’s open sleigh on wheels chugs past me with a huge billowy White cloud like Santa’s beard behind it.

I wake up at 6:30 from a dream I don’t remember and I don’t go back to sleep.

A 4 mile run in the cold drizzle.

The blankets move and cold air seeps in between our bodies and I shudder.

The coffee pot gurgles alerting completion of process.

Energy Challenge – Day 4

Welcome to day 4

Today is Saturday! Some teacher lives are just as busy on the weekends as it is during the week. The schedule is a lighter for me this weekend. How about for you?

Today you are likely to not be with students. How has the end of the week gone? Are there situations or feelings that will cause you to react differently next week? Positive or negative? Do thoughts of school fuel you or drain you with the idea of all you have to do?

Yesterday, I taught 3rd graders and was able to share one of my favorite picture books: Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack. 

Today I want you to reflect on your energy –

What is something that fueled you today?
What is something that drained you?
What did you learn about yourself and your reactions?

Here is a quote to think about today:
 “The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.” 
Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me

A quick question:
Do you refer to teaching as work or school when you talk to others?
I notice I refer to it as work when things are not going like I want them to and school when I am pleased! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until tomorrow!
I send you sparkles and sunshine!


Day 2 Teacher Energy Challenge

Welcome to Day 2!

Waht amazing and awesome sharing from Day 1! I loved reading about your day.

Do you choose a word for the year? Are you considering one for 2020?

Today I ask you to record:

-one energizing thing that happened to you personally
-one thing that drained your energy
-something you learned about yourself, your teaching, or your students.

Three sentences — that is all!

You can share it on your own blog
You can share it here!
or  email me directly at tammybreitweiser@gmail.com 

Here is a quote to think about:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Arthur Ashe

Until tomorrow!


Day 1 Energy Challenge

Welcome to Day 1! Thank you for joining me for this connection adventure! My one word for 2019 is CONNECT. I connected really well with other writers but had been lacking in education. I am a curriculum coach and have been in this type of position for 7 years. Over the course of my career I have worked with kindergarten thru adult learners. Most of my years of teaching was as a reading specialist. I am a reading advocate and believe it is the gateway to all other learning. 

I want us to share the sparkle and sprinkles of the day and the things that didn’t go so great and what we learned. 

Today I ask you to record:
-one energizing and impactful thing for students no matter how small
-one thing that didn’t go well today
-something you learned about yourself, your teaching, or your students.

Three sentences — that is all!

You can share it on your own blog – you can share in the comments here!

Here is a quote to think about: 
If you do not know how to ask the right question, you discover nothing. — W. Edwards Deming

Until tomorrow!


#IWSG December

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!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

December 4 question – How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

If I would visualize and think about what the pie in the sky idea of what my writer life looks I would love to have a writer shed. It would be awesome to have a space to write that would be like a little house. I love to look at tiny houses and writing sheds on Pinterest.

Backyard arts & craft shed for me???  Backyard retreat....
Famous Writers' Small Writing Sheds and Off-the-Grid Huts | Apartment Therapy

Honestly, any time that I can write most of the day is the ideal life. I write anywhere and everywhere. I have a desk now but do not often use it.

There has to be notebooks to write it and my favorite pens. I love Inkjoy pens. Right now I ordered a sampler from JetPens of several different fountain pens and have been using those. I also need a computer with the internet because I write using Google Docs.

The ideal writing life is to wake up and write my morning pages and work on a piece of writing – usally a short story or essay. I would publish a piece to Medium. During this whole time I would be drinking strong black coffee.

I pull my tarot cards for the day for whatever deck is calling to me.

Then I have the option for a morning nap. I often call this storynap because the dreams are vivid and lend themselves to a story or a piece of writing.

Then I would wake and go for a walk. Listening to podcasts. There would be time for reading and reflecting.

Based on the reading or the walk I would jot some thoughts down for writing.

Then lunch.

A little more writing in the afternoon.

Some days I could go to a coffee shop. Afternoons could be used for marketing and emails that need to be sent. I could converse with some of my writing community.

The best part of this ideal writing life? I would have a bank account that never dipped below a 6 figure income!

Now that would be something!

What I Learned from a 30 Day Energy Challenge

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Do you rely on a community? I have found over the course of 2019 this has been a secret weapon for my creativity. The group that has made the most impact for me is the one I have affectionately dubbed “My Creativity Group.” In reality, it is a book club group for The Artisit’s Way that met for the 12 weeks of the creative recovery program. We talked about morning pages we wrote every day, the artist dates we went on and the ones we chose to ignore, and the life changes and goals we felt suppoort to do. It is powerful ife changing stuff.

We like each other so well that we have continued to chat daily in the Slack channel and then the leader of the group Sam Kimberle began an energy challenge. Based on the book The Third Door we focused on three questions each day in November.

1. What energized me today?
2. What depleted me of energy?
3. What did I learn about myself today?

We all were tasked with a specific notebook just for this challenge. I chose a dotted notebook that I was drawn to because of the pretty blue cover. It was a nice size and seemed intuitively the write one. I ordered new fountain pens for the month of November so those were the pen choices. I did not choose a particular pen for this task.

Halfway we met as a group and talked about our progress on a video Zoom call. We met again December 1st to talk about the results.

This has been a task I have ventured onto on my own based on my own readings and listening habits. The author Alex Banayan is not the first person to bring the thought of what energizes me and what drains me to my journal. Emily P. Freeman who wrote The Next Right Thing is someone who has been talking about this for quite awhile and I have paid attention. When you hear someone talk about energy on a podcast, read their blog, and read their book it tends to stick. If you would like to hear more of my reflections you can sign up for my newsletter here.

I did learn there is power in doing this challenge with a group. We knew there were people around the world that were recording the same items as we were. We also knew we would have accountability in the Slack channel and on the calls. As friends and fellow creatives we call each other out when one person is not sharing anything. It isn’t always public either. In Slack you have the ability to send a private message as well. We know each other well enough to know which type of message to send to whom.

The First 15

The first 15 days brought to light how I do not like to relinquish control. If there are changes to be made, I like to make them. It can often set me into a tail spin. This can be something as simple as a meeting agenda changing at the last minute or the traffic being terrible and adding 30 minutes to my commute.

The first 15 days seemed to be more about awareness for me. To notice what really have me energy and what drained me. It was recommended to use by Sam Kimberle to just write our statements and then not look back. The first time I consciously looked for a pattern was on the day we met for the Zoom call.

I like to escape when things get tough as well. I use exercise, sleep, alcohol or just turning my emotions off to cope. I had not realized I was doing this as often as I was until this challenge. You learn a lot about your reactions with these three seemingly simple questions.

Writing and learning something new were always energy givers. Walks and being outside in nature was also one that became a pattern.

I like certain routines in my life as well. I must start my day with my coffee ritual or my attitude is not pleasant.

The Second 15

The second half of the challenge I deployed more action to combat the negative. I consciously did not allow negative things that drained me to completely ruin my day. I believe the hyper focus of the exercise helped me achieve this feat. It is something I have not been able to combat in the past. If something throws me off I usually have a hard time getting back on track. This idea of intention was surprising to me in a way because one of my favorite questions to ask is “What did you notice?” I ask this of myself and of the teachers I work with professionally. Like all humans, unless I force myself to look at what is uncomfortable to me, I cannot change it. I knew I was getting frustrated often and continually but couldn’t pin point why. I was blaming it on bigger out of control life situations and it really was rooted in simple things of every day life.

The last 15 days allowed me to deal with the energy drains a lot differently. I started to do the things I knew would make me feel better.

I started taking walks among the trees.

I started running again.

I made sure I wrote every day.

I noticed when the laughter was a large part of the day and how that made me feel.

I noticed the days that podcasts were full of inspiration.

Due to the reflection component of the exercise I came to find my word for 202. I want more from my life, not less. I was tired of the drains taking over my days and I knew that I had to change. This challenge inspired this piece of writing:The Year of MoreAn Intention for now and 2020medium.com

For 2019 my word was connect. I have connected with the Medium community and several other writing communities but not as much with my education people. I knew I had only a few more weeks of the year so decided to start my own challenge for teachers based on this exercise. After a Zoom call a fellow group member declared she had ideas for everyone in the group after being inspired by Tony Robbins. Her idea for me was connecting teachers together. Susie Taylor was the inspiration for me!An Education Mastermind OpportunityA Challenge About Connection and Being a Better Teachermedium.com

On the 16th I logged I wanted to start my short story club again. This has been a group I have lead with students and adults. I love to analyze and pick apart short stories to learn about them and to help me be a better writer so I asked 2 other writers I know to do this practice with me. It has not taken much time at all and has been incredibly rewarding. I am learning more about them as writers and readers too. It just makes me better. I would not have had the motivation to pose the question if not for this challenge. The end result was richness added to my writing life.

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Welcome to December Weekend Coffee Share

A Cup of Coffee and A Conversation

Happy December and Happy Thanksgiving to you! It has been warmer here this week. I do look forward to the cold and snow but miss my fireplace. There are several blankets piled on the bed!

If we were having coffee I would tell you the week has been filled with wonderful feelings. The new running shoes arrived and I began logging miles again. The holidays are always comforting and full of Hygge too.

If we were having coffee I would tell you we had Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday. I had made a family Kahoot game which had pictures of all the kids and questions about Thanksgiving. There was lots of laughter which is always the goal. The new traditional foods were eaten: Turkey, corn bake, sage bread stuffing, green bean casserole, holiday mashed potatoes, and crescent rolls. We ate the leftovers. Then made Turkey Pot Pie. Pizza was eaten on Friday and I do love pizza.

If we were having coffee I would tell you Thanksgiving was a quiet day full of writing, football, and a hike at the dunes. I wrote over 7000 words on Thanksgiving. I about caught up for my NANOWRIMO goals. It was the highest number of words in a day I have ever written. I did it in little spurts and was surprised to see how it added up over the course of the day. By Saturday I did log 50,000 words and am now relieved it is over.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had the whole week off from work. There were people that still kept emailing and texting me about work items. The last thing I wanted to think about was work and I refused to answer.

If we were having coffee I would tell you a few writer friends and I are dissecting some short stories. We are analyzing the pieces and also glean ideas from them for our own writing.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am hosting a 2 week challenge for teachers. We need to focus on the sparkles of the day and reflecting on what didn’t go well is important. What we learn from it all. It is three sentences a day- manageable. I want to deeper friendships in my teacher community. You can sign up here for the emails.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I listened to a few good podcasts this week. One is Qwerty which is hosted by Marion Roach. She asked an author she admires if she should get an MFA and he answered “No, read the interviews in the Paris Review.” I love this publication and read the daily poem email. I renewed my subscription after the podcast. I have been reading the issues I have since.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am excited to start my yoga class back up this week. I am excited to have my creativity group call later today. I am thrilled it is December. Lots of to be grateful for!

What would you tell me today?

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You can read this post on Medium here.

The New Thanksgiving

My life has changed and therefore so has my holiday traditions.

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My Thanksgiving used to be traditional. It used to be like everyone else’s holiday.

I used to get up and cook. My onions and celery would be softened with butter and mixed with sage and various breads for the stuffing. It went into a fresh bird that had been ordered weeks before. I prepared for at least 30 people for dinner. The multiple tables would be set with cloth tablecloths and loads of themed tablescapes. There were mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes I would make fresh. People typically brought pies. That I would allow someone else to control.

I refused to allow paper products. The china came out from the cabinet. I insisted on real plates for dinner. It is the holiday. It is special. Wine glasses were used for the bottles that would be passed around the house adding to the merriment and chatter.

This year is different. We had dinner on the Wednesday before with just immediate family plus a girlfriend. Cooking started on Tuesday. The dishes are different now. Corn bake, holiday recipe mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole were made Tuesday. I still got up Wednesday and made the turkey but it was purchased from the grocery store, not the butcher. Crescent rolls were made right before we sat down at the table in the kitchen and we ate on paper plates. The glasses were red plastic cups so the dishes are less.

I used to love the cooking and the celebration. I used to love hosting for so many people but life is different now. There were two candles in the center with a ceramic decoration.

There was one glass of wine this year.

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.

I used to get the turkey in the oven and then go run a 5K race. Not anymore. I used to have to cook alone. It was a metal of honor that my turkey was picked apart and devoured every year. These are past routines.

The tradition is different now. Today I am writing. I will watch the football game and then go to the Dunes for a hike. It will be quiet. I am grateful for my life and my immediate family. I am thankful for a roof over my head and all the food around the table. I am thankful for work and my paycheck and all the abundance that is in my life.