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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Dunes Run #SOL

Yesterday I went for a second spring run at the National Dunes Lakeshore. I am lucky to live in Northwest Indiana and to have access to this park. I didn’t visit the park until I was an adult runner even though I have lived here most of my life.

I wandered down trail 9 yesterday. Essentially, I ran the trail backwards from how I normally run it. The “normal” route is to go down trail 10 and then up on the ridge and then down trail 9 back to the parking lot. There were several cars in the Wilson Shelter parking lot due to the beautiful weather yesterday. It was near 70 degrees here. During the week there has been no admission fee which makes me feel like I am getting away with something. On my way out I noticed a man at the entrance booth. hee hee

As I ran trail 9 I noticed to the left of the path the brown leaves are decaying on their own timeline. To my right the ground looked burnt and reminded me of the lava fields of Kona, Hawaii. I assume it was a controlled burn supervised by the park rangers. It was surreal to see and I moved along.

Looking at the black leaves, a smoldering fire, and smoke cloud I thought about how much I like the idea of fire.

Sometimes you need to light a fire.

Sometimes you need to stoke your internal fire and follow your passion.

Sometimes you need to burn a project to the ground and start over.

Gathering ideas are like gathering twigs in the woods. Starting the project is like lighting a fire. Sometimes I start the fire/new project too early because I am excited. I light the kindling, but then I do not have anything else to feed the fire with and it goes out! To avoid this catastrophe, I’m working on gathering my resources and organizing my most recent project so I can start a fire that can burn for a long time.

A cool tree along trail 9

I was happy to run outside yesterday. I needed to be in nature, it is I way I refuel.

How do you refuel yourself?

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?

English to English Translation #writingprompt #SOLC Day 29

One of the writing resources I use is Language is A Virus. Here there is a list of 66 writing experiments. I used the idea of English to English translation to work on craft yesterday.

According to the site:
Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem (someone else’s, then your own) and translate it “English to English” by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or “free” translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into a slang or vernacular. Do several different types of homolinguistic translation of a single source poem. (Cf.Six Fillious by bp nichol, Steve McCaffery, Robert Fillious, George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Dieter Roth, which also included translation of the poem to French and German.) Chaining: try this with a group, sending the poem on for “translation” from person to another until you get back to the first author.

I used the poem, “The Imaginal Stage” by D.A. Powell.

This is what I ended up with after utilizing a thesaurus and them rewriting for more cohesion.

Inventive Theater by T.L. Breitweiser

On the plane where we change

I move away into a view of abundant worlds.

Rather than suns,

Abundant corners are fancy to scorch.

Do not settle

Perpetually adoring

An ending opportunity

When instantly they indeed appear

To settle with the mundane.

Quiver and alter

The remains of my mind

The end game is we combust

Apt to escalate at dawn

When I share my feathers.

This was an interesting exercise and more difficult than I first imagined. I would like to try it with students. I would only give students one stanza as it can be frustrating to find words that fit.

It’s A Beautiful Morning! #SOLC Day 26

Running made me a morning person. I used to get up before 5am everyday and run no matter what the weather or the mood. I am not training for anything now however.

I keep hearing and reading lots about morning routines. The information centers around creativity, productivity and being a leader which I enjoy. I also like reading about routines especially when they are about the process or writing.

I like the Ninja Writers W.R.I.T.E.R. acronym: For 10 minutes each Write-READ-IDEAS-EXERCISE-REVIEW but I do not stick to it.

I have read a lot of about other people’s routines here.

I do have morning routines for home and school.

My ideal morning routine is to wake up naturally, have coffee in bed with my husband, write and read for several hours, and then run outside.

At school I try to freewrite before my official day starts. I either write what comes to mind organically or use a prompt I am feeling that day. Many times it is something that was sparked by a podcast that I listen to on my way to work.

When the day starts I look at my bullet journal and what I have for the day. I double check email to make sure that I have everything on the list. I pour a cup of hot Joe and then get started.

I feel like my mental clarity has been better the last couple of weeks which is refreshing. Throughout the day I read my Bradbury Trio. There just isn’t enough time in the morning to get that all in!

What is your morning routine?


Readwise #SOLC Day 17

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Usually, we make corned beef and cabbage and have soda bread but this year is a bit more regular and simple. I wore my green to a workshop on Friday.

An app called Readwise is linked to my Amazon account and therefore my kindle. I receive a once a week email including some of the highlights I have made in the books that I have read.

Here are some of the highlights I received this week. It is an interesting look into my reading history.

As a writing exercise, I will take a couple of these quotes and use them as freewriting prompts.

10% Happier by Dan Harris
Working for Peter was like sticking your head in a lion’s mouth:
thrilling, but not particularly safe. (Location 182)Y

This book was recommended to me by a coworker. It was interesting and I liked reading about meditation but it did not change my behavior around the practice. I did really like this line though.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
She wanted to bottle how safe she felt in this moment, so she could
drink of it later when loneliness and fear left her parched. (Location 284)

I read The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See right after each other. I wished I could bottle safety myself and wish I would have written this line!

Dear Life by Alice Munro
In fact they embraced it, diving into it and wrapping the familiar
words round their tongues as if they were a candy that could last forever. (Location 209)

Being a short story writer I love Alice Munro. I only recently learned of her so this is a more recent read. I love words and the idea of them being candy like resonated with me.

Inside the Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg
Subtraction works by eliminating an essential component of a system (a product or process). (Location 706)

This book was recommended by a speaker at the International Reading Association conference. It was about problem solving and was fascinating. I have gone back to this book on many occasions.

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman
Year’s resolution was to live his life like it’s an art project. (Location 2175)

Ah! Emily! If you are a reader of my blog you know I LOVE Emily P Freeman. I love projects and challenges and loved the equation of life to the project.

We Wanted to Be Writers by Eric Olsen, Glenn Schaeffer, and
Bill Manhire
Or try to walk, a walking meditation. Don’t talk. That scares away the light. (Location 3293)Y

I found out about the Iowa Writing Workshop from Oprah actually. Once I learned about this writing mecca I searched for everything I could read about the program and the writers. This book is only one of them.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
The stories shatter. Or you wear them out or leave them behind.
Over time the story or the memory loses its power. Over time you
become someone else. (Location 1348)

Solnit is a beautiful writer. I adore her patterns and style. Her words speak to me in a very mindful way.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan
Tangier and Lucy were the same, I thought. Both unsolvable riddles
that refused to leave me in peace. (Location 1632)

This was a book about friendship – or the illusion of it at least. I loved this line.

Creative Schools by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
Effective teaching is a constant process of adjustment… (Location 1724)

Ken Robinson! Oh yes! His books are fantastic and I love to hear his presentations on YouTube. He is brilliant.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
He’d do what he always did, find the sweet among the bitter. (Location 4260)Y

Such is life, yes? I read this book for a book club years ago. I would have never picked it up otherwise.

Thanks for reading and looking into a slice of my reading life! It is fun to revisit lines that struck me as I read. I am looking forward to the writing later too!

Happy Irish Sunday!

Note: I wrote my coffee share post yesterday – if you are looking for it it is day 16 this week.

#ThinkingThursday #SOLC Day 14

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts

Today’s post is centered around a question for you dear readers:

What fun fact would you share if you were being interviewed on a podcast?

A follow-up question for you is: Have you ever been on a podcast?

While thinking of what fun fact to share consider these ideas –

  • Do you have hidden talents?
  • Have you met someone interesting?
  • What are you obsessed with?
  • What is the most unusual thing you own?

What is my fun fact?

If I were on a podcast I would share a story of my intuition as my fun fact.

I used to be afraid to fly and for my last job we flew quite a few times a year for training. I had set my mindset that the pilot and the flight attendants were not going to willing get on a plane knowing it would go down so I calmed myself with that idea and also a breathing exercise from my yoga training.

[Side note here: As I have been reflecting over the last couple of weeks I have realized I really miss teaching my yoga classes! Back to regularly scheduled programming…]

Anyway, so we were to fly to New York and I was panicking about this trip for over a week before which I had not been doing for months. I tried to reframe my mindset, I talked to my coworkers who assured me flying is safer than driving, I did my breathing exercises, etc. Nothing helped the impending doom hanging over this trip.

We are in line at the airport and what do you know!? The flight is canceled due to MECHANICAL DIFFICULTIES. Luckily, they put us on a different plane to fly East. This plane was smaller than one my son made with Legos so the crashing thoughts came back. We did make it there and had an interesting van ride from Jersey to New York but I am still here to tell the tale!

Please share your fact in the comments below.

Bonus question: Yes! I have been on a podcast! You can read about it and find that here. #happyslicing!

Wishful Wednesday and a Share #SOLC Day 13

I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life challenge. Each day in March teachers from around the country post to their blogs and the Two Writing Teachers website. We read and comment on each other’s posts.

Today is Wishful Wednesday. I saw it on a sign on my commute to work today and it feels right to title this post as such.

Today I send you time to take a few minutes to breath.

Today I send you thankful thoughts and actions to brighten your day.

Today I send you sunshine between the rain – literally or figuratively.

Today I send you a smile.

Today I send you the peace of knowing you are where you need to be, right now.

Today I send you a gift. The link below is to one of my Workshop Wednesday presentations.

I started Workshop Wednesdays in March of 2017 to address a need of professional development time. I am lucky to be in a middle school and have the advantage of team time. With the block scheduling this year I have 30 minutes to do this training. It is always voluntary and the topic is given ahead of time.

I follow the same basic outline each time. I have attached my Google Slides for you to see. The one I am sharing today is from August of 2017. I wanted to start the conversation about personality and Introverts and Extroverts. Students sometimes process out loud if they are extroverts. If there is an introvert teacher they can sometimes get annoyed by this practice.

There was a ripple effect here. People had their spouses take the quiz. Friends talked about it at dinner. The most important conversations happened at school and people came to me saying they were communicating better with people at school because they felt they had a better understanding about how others reacted.

I would love to hear your feedback.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Z1e3iTFCpnWGVgqpl61JMnlLPUkB3z_Iu5geH23b180/copy?usp=sharing

Gate A-4 + Writing Prompt #SOL19

This week I reread Gate A-4 by Naomi Shihab Nye. You can read the story at the link below.

https://www.csmd.edu/Assets/For-the-community/connections/SHIHAB%20NYE%20POETRY.pdf

I have a deep love for Nye’s work. I was introduced to her poem Secrets at the Writers at Work conference many years ago by educator celebrity Laura Robb.

The setting of the story is the Albuquerque Airport which I have actually been to. It is the backdrop for the story but also allows the conflict to play out in a natural organic way. I do find the lack of compassion from the flight agents disturbing but I feel it is purposeful for the pacing of the story. Another peculiar detail is the four hour delay. That seems long with no explanation.

One of the main themes of this piece is connection. The connections we have to people and how food plays a part. Food has a way of spanning all kinds of voids including language barriers.

When I was young my cousin from Germany would visit us every summer. For the first few summers I didn’t speak much German and he didn’t speak much English yet we were inseparable. Food played a big part of daily life in my Oma’s house and was a connector for us. Meals were always all together.

Lines I love from this story:

“Such an old country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.”

“This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”

There is power in such a short amount of words. I love the idea of home and being rooted. I think as I get older I think more and more we are rooted to other people more than places. At least this seems to be in the case in my experience.

This story is about one event – what happens in the delay of the flight and how this woman who speaks no English brings a gate full of people together with cookies that bridge a gap of apprehension and prejudice.

As a teacher I see both of these lines being great springboards for quickwrites. I plan to use quickwrites for some of my #SOL19 posts for the Two Writing Teachers March challenge. If you would like more information about this challenge click here. I also will reference Linda Rief’s Quickwrite book. I have been a fan of Linda’s for a long time. I was honored to meet her in person many years ago. I even have her first quickwrite book which she autographed for me.

Writing Prompt: Write for 3-5 minutes using the lines from the story Gate A4.

Here are my quickwrites from these lines:

#1
“Such an old country tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.”

Carrying a plant as you travel seems to be a cumbersome activity in reality but I like the metaphor. As we travel away from home it is nice to have a connection to home. Now it is mostly through communication with the cell phone. I have had the experience of being connected to loved ones by letters when cell phone service is not available. Connection to home is people. Yes where we sleep is important. Sleeping in our own beds is usually a sentiment of what we miss when away. Plants are different in different landscapes. They can sometimes be transplanted and sometimes they die. Plants thrive where they originate from. Some plants don’t do well when you take them out of their natural habitat. Are people are the same way? Some can be transplanted and do well. Some are so attached to where they originate they cannot live anywhere else. I am not that person.

#2
“This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.”

Apprehension of people can be dissolved with cookies and compassion. We are not lost on each other we can find the place we are more alike than different. Who knew it could be a gate in an airport in New Mexico.

What are your thoughts about these lines?

#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?

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