Stay #SOL19

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It’s Tuesday and I’m joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers with a weekly Slice of Life Story.

Today’s Emily P. Freeman word is STAY.

STAY today refers to being in the present moment. You can only be in one place at a time. I suppose this is mostly true. As a writer, I am physically only in one place at a time, but mentally I am usually somewhere else. This is sometimes in one of my own story creations. Sometimes I am in a memory mining it for details that will add panache to the story I am working on.

When I am reading I am in the character’s head feeling and thinking what they are, often trying to anticipate their next move. Or I am trying to figure out the craft moves the writer made to have me feel the way I do about a character, setting, or story line so I can use it later.

I find it difficult to be in the moment. I am working on it. I know I should do one thing at a time but there is so much to learn. Everyone I meet has something I don’t know.

I have been tired lately. More tired than I should be. Last night I watched the movie The Professor and the Madman which my husband and I had been looking forward to. It did not disappoint. It is the story of how the Oxford dictionary came to be. It took extraordinary dedication and focus to have this book come to fruition. 70 years from the first conception in fact. Dr. Minor was meticulous in his mad state about the history and definition of words. He was in the moment for sure – for long stretches of time. I kept thinking of how much energy was put into this project and how many obstacles everyone had to overcome.

I am trying to find the right ratio of input vs output without driving myself mad. I love input of all sorts – deep conversation, reading, podcasts, etc. Outputs are likely interactions and writing lately. I know I have not found the right ratio when I am angry or overly tired.

Reflection and slowing down are both critical attributes for this process. I am glad that today I can breathe and think about it.

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A Good Writing Day! #SOL19

I participate in the TWOWRITINGTEACHERS.ORG Slice of Life Challenge every Tuesday.

I started the day writing my stories for Camp NaNoWriMo. I am using a plot structure for at least one of the stories and started to flesh it out around the framework I already created. It is going ok but I do not find it as exciting as my normal writing I must admit. I have two other structures I am going to play with as well for this series of stories.

I read my poem, essay, and short story for the day. The short story I listened to from the New Yorker Fiction podcast which was interesting. I liked the commentary afterwards.

I met my writing friend at a local restaurant and we wrote together. I brought a prompt and she brought a prompt. It was great fun and then we talked about what we wrote. It was surprsing what I came up with and it was fulfilling. I have a seed for another short story now.

I had my online group monthly Zoom call. There really wasn’t much talking about writing. We did some sprints. I had already written a lot so I cut out early.

What kind of writing day did you have?

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 24

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning but I can make you iced coffee if you prefer. Even though it is warmer it doesn’t stop me from drinking several hot cups. I think I will bring us glasses of ice water just for variety.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then commenting on at least 3 posts. I have read some inspirational posts this week. I am going to miss this challenge when it is over.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you there was lots of testing this week at school. We have a district program called IREADY that requires a diagnostic 3 times a year. We are taking the end of year test a little early in preparation for the state test. There have been some incentives put in place for our 7th and 8th graders and they did much better this time.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I wrote everyday. I also started work on a coaching workshop that I hope to teach within the next year. I want to make it as interactive as possible – no PowerPoint! The other writing I did was reflective. I also worked on a few stories.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I read at least one essay, one poem and one short story every day this week to continue my Bradbury Trio program. I was just recording them in my notebook but now started a Google Folder to log some links. I finished one notebook and started a new one so now the lists are separated!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you our team consultant visited on Wednesday. He is always interesting to talk to. He talked about paying attention to students who are always doing the right thing. Some of the things he said caused me to write 3 notes to students thanking them for various behaviors. One student is a fantastic writer and I am always honored she shares her stories with me. Another student went up 26 points on his diagnostic test which is about 2 grade levels. A third student is always kind and smiling. She is uplifting to everyone around her. I also write a couple thank you notes to teachers. Thank you notes have power!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the students I gave the envelopes to at first didn’t know what to do with them. In this digital age paper is not common. They weren’t sure if they should open them or not! The looks on their faces were cute and surprised.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am enjoying the 10 day writing challenge. The prompts are interesting and different. The game name from the Day 1 prompt I liked so well that I am using part of it for my writer bio.

If we were having coffee I would admit to you I did not go to my in real life writing group this week. I was tired and the drive seemed too long to go. I had not prepared a story to share. There is a celebration event I will be going to next month. My online group was not as active this week on the Slack channel. There seems to be a lot going on with them swirling around spring break and college admissions and other life stuff. I have missed the conversations.

If we were having coffee I would tell you yesterday was spent outside. We went to the park and I went for another run. It was 50 degrees and sunny all day! Today will be an inside day with cooler temps and thunderstorms in the forecast. Today is about being low key, reading, and writing!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! It really is a highlight of my week. What is the best thing that happened to you today?

Happy Weekend!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 16

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning. I am on my third cup though. I have been really tired all this week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. This weekend there is a comment challenge so there will be lots of activity. If the internet goes down blame it on the teachers! I commented every day and it is always great to interact with people.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had a training yesterday with Jim Knight. I drove into the city which always feels sophisticated to me. They had moved our tables which was jarring! This is a series of workshops and the same group meets every time. We have one more session next month. I spent a lot of the time talking to the coaches at our table. The materials are always great. We talked about learning maps which is something I will bring back to my office. It is a visible learning plan for students and teachers. There were times I had a hard time focusing throughout the day because I had woken up at 2:30 am. I had multiple little baby cups of coffee. I had great conversation about writing with a gifted classroom with an elementary coach too which was fun.

If we were having coffee I would tell you the conference I want to go to in November has posted the registration this week. I cannot sign up quite yet but will. There are studies that show the more you anticipate something the more happiness you glean from it. I will be taking full advantage of this fact with the writing conference in Salem! I have been there once. The Sunday before I ran the Boston Marathon I spent the day walking around the city. It was fascinating and I cannot wait to go back.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I read at least one essay, one poem and one short story every day this week for my Bradbury Trio. I found the formats and the ideas finding their way into my writing this week which is a good thing. The essays mostly were Ray Bradbury and Natalie Goldberg.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a teacher left our building in the middle of the year. She had her reasons and I support her, but I am sad about it. She is the second math teacher to do it this year. I feel bad for the kids. Some of them are not dealing with the feelings of abandonment well.

If we were having coffee I would tell you my writing has been all over the place. I wrote every day but I am not working on any particular short stories. I do have the rejected flash fiction story I want to revise and send back out this weekend. I plan to work on some longer word count short stories for the month is April. I also will get 3 critiques back on another story from my group so I will be able to revise it next month and send it out too!

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! It really is a highlight of my week. What is the best thing that happened to you today? I would love to hear about something inspiring you read.

Happy Weekend!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 10

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair around this oak table and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning. I am on my third cup though.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. There are lots of teacher-writers there I follow regularly and I have already met new ones. I started participating the year I went to Hawaii for spring break so I think that might have been 2006? 2008? I have been doing this challenge for a long time.



If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have had a great time this week connecting with other bloggers and teachers. I always love chatting with people through the comments. As a writer, it is exciting to see what jumps out to people and resonates with them. I learn so much from everyone.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I had a Google call with one of my writing friends which was completely fulfilling to me! We are not geographically close enough to meet in person. She helped me realize a few things right in front of me.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am thinking about hosting a gathering surrounding the Bradbury Trio. I think this would lead to a great reading and writing discussion. Read my thoughts about it here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I received another rejection. Sticker went in the book! I received some feedback so that made me happy.

If we were having coffee I would tell you, the time change is something I abhor. I wish we didn’t do it at all. I usually say it is jet lag without the trip. This year I have to travel by car for a sporting event for my daughter. Monday is going to be ROUGH.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! I would love to hear something wonderful that happened this week for you. I want to hear about what or who is inspiring you!

Happy Sunday!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

Weekend Coffee Share #SOLC Day 3

Grab your cup of coffee and sit in a comfortable chair and let’s chat! I am having my regular black coffee this morning.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers March Slice of Life Challenge. Teachers all over the world are posting on their blogs daily and at the TWT blog and then comment on at least 3 posts. There are lots of teacher-writers there I follow regularly and I have already met new ones. I started participating the year I went to Hawaii for spring break so I think that might have been 2006? 2008? I have been doing this challenge for a long time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this writing advice from Neil Gaiman has stuck with me:

There is power in finishing. That might mean the blog post, the short story, the essay, the day’s words, or the novel chapter. Neil says a writer learns more from finishing a story than just starting it even if you don’t like the story or how it turned out. This is just one of the nuggets of wisdom I have learned from his Masterclass.

If we were having coffee I would tell you, part of the reason this lesson stuck with me is I learned it by experiencing it with first with Julie Duffy’s Storyaday challenge which she runs in May. Writers start and complete one story a day for the month. Part of the challenge is to show yourself you can write every day and indeed finish a daily story even when you didn’t think it was possible. The endings of my stories and how I loop details together became a lot more skilled after I have done this story challenge now 3 times. Before September of 2016 I had a bunch of stories started and notebooks and notebooks of ideas. Now I have folders of real stories.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I believe endings are hard for writers because we don’t practice them enough. Personally, I get shiny ball syndrome and keep starting new things because I have a lot of ideas. This past week I worked hard to get several stories polished and submitted. I had to write an essay for one submission and was able to finish it within the time constraints.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I received two more rejections this week but ON THE SAME DAY. That was a bit rough. I went to my Superstar writing group for support. They didn’t disappoint.

If we were having coffee I would tell you, I connected with some of my husband’s family this past week. It was a nice afternoon and we have some great coffee too!

If we were having coffee I would tell you this week at work was a bit trying but I cannot exactly tell you why. There seem to be many underlying things that are eating away at the morale there. There has been a lot of sickness among the teachers and serious issues that are uncontrollable. The state-mandated high stakes test is looming as well as the district high stakes measure. I have been doing sessions of smaller PD with teachers but not the coaching work I normally do because of other obligations. To combat this feeling I plan to write a post about the things I am grateful for SPECIFICALLY at work. There are many times the grass seems greener anywhere else. I work with a lot of great people – teachers and students. I need to change my mindset.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I loved this chat with you today! I would love to hear something wonderful that happened this week for you. I want to hear about what or who is inspiring you!

Happy Sunday!

Other weekend coffee share posts are here 

You can also read more posts from teacher writers at twowritingteachers.org

#SOL19 Memory Lane + Survey

I blog every Tuesday and link with other teacher writers at Two Writing Teachers.org. In March, they host a daily blogging and comment challenge. Come over to the blog and sign up to join in the fun this year!

Saturday was a trip down memory lane for me when I returned to the town where I started my teaching career.

I remembered the days I met my students at the park and we went sledding.

I remembered the Sundays I went to the library to get books for our class for the week and students started showing up when I was there.

I remembered the festivals downtown where I would hear my name shouted.

I remembered all the training I received at this corporation. I am still using most of what I learned there in my teaching life.

I remembered the teacher field trips we took to Brown County basically to eat pie and the line dancing class we took where I couldn’t keep up and just laughed the whole time.

I remembered the trips to Treasure Mart with Stephanie my friend and art teacher as we scoured for items to experiment with in our crafty states!

The town looked different and familiar at the same as 10 years of absence will do to perception.

One place I was looking forward to was lunch at Mike’s Pizza. My mouth was watering thinking about eating the Italian Beef Sandwiches and breadsticks. Sadly, they had closed at the beginning of the month.

What are you remembering today?

In order to serve my readers better please take a moment and take this brief survey and tell me your thoughts!

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Survey

10 Things to Tell You

Every Tuesday (And every day in March!!!!) I blog and share it with teacher-writers on the Two Writing Teachers blog.

My Slice of Life today is inspired by the new podcast of the same title of the post. To listen you can find it here.

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  1. Accept is my word today for today’s #Write28days. I need to accept some truths. I am contemplating and planning these GATHERINGS and I need to find the WHY. I think I have realized some truth after some journaling yesterday. One truth is I am an introvert so I need to carefully plan the execution of these events to not exhaust myself.
  2. I am super excited for my critique group video call this evening with Katherine and Marta. I am so honored to be writing friends with these ladies. I value their feedback and thoughts and they never steer me wrong.
  3. Storyaday.org’s Julie Duffy hosted a free writer Zoom call last night where 16 of us got together and wrote. It was wonderful to do 3 sprints together and I crafted a new short story! It took a surprising twist and direction. It is always fulfilling to talk story with other writers.
  4. The topic for the above podcast today is “Are you Lonely?” I love solitude but there are times I feel disconnected from people. On my commute this morning, I was thinking about being disconnected which is why I think I am pursuing the GATHERINGS idea. I want to have time to connect to other creatives for everyone’s creative well to be filled.
  5. Several years ago my life blew up and I was lonely because I was thrust into a situation where I knew NO ONE who had gone through the same thing. There was one person that had a small connection and I was rejected. Luckily, I found a group that supported me. I am forever grateful for this organization and they helped me from going into a spiral that would have not been recoverable.
  6. The #teachwrite Twitter chat was last night and super fun! The questions were amazing. I love that a teacher is part of this group that works in the corporation I used to. Seeing her name pop up in my feed makes me feel closer to teacher-writers locally! There is a chat every month – If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend it. (I will put the questions at the end of this post.)
  7. I have a literacy/coach meeting this afternoon with a consultant I adore listening to and working with. I am looking forward to the word for are going to do today!
  8. This is a wonderful site to follow. There are daily writing tips, great words, great quotes and a prompt. https://writerswrite.co.za/
  9. Another person to follow is Nancy Stohlman. She is an amazing flash fiction author, editor, and overall fantastic person. Find her here: https://nancystohlman.com/
  10. Connection for students is important and creating a feeling of belonging. I once named a remediation group “Writing Club” because I wanted them to come and I wanted them to enjoy the writing not get down on themselves for being selected for writing remediation. I wanted to instill an abundance mindset. Everyone wants to be part of a club especially one that you have a special invitation to!

What do you want to tell me today?

Happy Writing!

Winter Outing #SOL19


Two Writing Teachers run the Slice of Life tag ever Tuesday, where readers and writers are encouraged to write and share something about their life or day. You can check out the tag here.

On this past snowy, windy, winter Saturday my hubby and I went to a local used bookstore and a Harry Potter inspired cafe in the little downtown where we live. Because of the impending winter storm all the books were $1 unless they were new. (It really was just winter but $1 books are hard to pass up no matter what the reason!)

Green Door used books a cozy place that has local art and self-published zines. Floor to ceiling bookshelves and wood plank floors. I felt right at home with books everywhere including stacked on the floor.

The owner was friendly. He asked if I needed to get to the shelves of self-help and spirituality since he was sitting in front of it. I smiled and said I was good. A salty old man who seems to spend the bulk of his time there laughed at my answer. They were both friendly, welcoming, and informative but not overbearing. I will go back for sure. We purchased 4 books while we were there 2 for me and 2 for my hubby. One of which was the Paris review with the poetry of Billy Collins – well worth a buck.

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Then we took a little walk a couple doors down to the corner cafe encased in brick. It is Harry Potter inspired with games and large tables for gaming and sitting. It doesn’t open til 11 so it more for a place to come and stay rather than just run in for your morning coffee. The place was packed and all the tables taken when we got there but the comfy couch in front of the fake fireplace was perfect for us to consume our drinks. I had the pleasure of having butter beer at universal studios when I visited Diagon alley years ago. Here the specialty drink is a butter brew. Caramel, butterscotch, and toffee with a shot of espresso and butterscotch whipped cream. Definitely had to start with the signature drink. It did not disappoint. I had read they often run out of it before the end of the day. My hubby ended up with a hot chocolate. He wanted white chocolate but they were out that day.


It was cozy and full of life. Another place i will return to. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon after going to the gym in the morning.

The first weekend of February we are going to venture to Chicago to visit the American Writer Museum and a bookstore downtown TBD. I am already looking forward to it!

Fine, Fine Professional Development and Llama Tuesday

Better Conversations – Jim Knight

I have been wowed this year by some amazing PD. The Better Conversations workshop was a full day. The participants found clock partners from the room which was filled with Coaches from my district and 3 surrounding states. We all stood up and found 12 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 8 o’clock partners and wrote their name down. We found them later for each section of the workshop as directed by Jim.

Jim joked that he is from Canada and he wouldn’t do anything goofy. It was a well-run workshop that was worthwhile and life-giving. 

One of the activities centered around 5 questions that I have been using since that Thursday of training. They seem simple. The exercise we used was to ask our partner the question and then give them 1 minute to answer and we could not talk. It was eye-opening.

Communication is essential for a fulfilled life yet we are all so bad at it sometimes.

Bungay’s 5 Coaching Habit Questions

  1. What’s on your mind?
  2. What’s the real challenge?
  3. What else?
  4. What do you want?
  5. What was the most useful from this conversation?

It was odd how personal and intimate the conversations became with a stranger – even though the thinking before the exercise was to not get too personal in many of the pairs. I still plan to use the exercise with my teachers at a Workshop Wednesday. Conversation is supposed to be nourishing for both parties. These questions are helping me use my #oneword for the year – CONNECT.

It is Llama TUESDAY!!!