a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Sunday, April 20, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE books


I CELEBRATE this book because my husband bought it as a treat for me, and it is good for my teacher soul.

I CELEBRATE this book because it opened the door for one of my students to share something deeply personal and brave with her fellow Voices Strong.

I CELEBRATE this book because it arrived on my porch from a Christmas gift card pre-order this week and will be perfect for backyard reading.

I CELEBRATE this book because it is the first book I ever read about teaching poetry—when I was in college.  It is the foundation of so much of the work I do with writers.

I CELEBRATE this book because it turned a non-reader into a reader.

I CELEBRATE this book because it feels like it was written purely for my own entertainment. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE the restorative power of spring break


celebrate every Saturday with Ruth Ayres
spring break means time to read books, time to write about books, time to shop for books, time to purchase tickets for upcoming author events at Anderson’s Bookshop

spring break means time to catch up with close friends (even those who live not so close by), time to listen to news about job changes, time to hear stories about kids, time to share adventures of my own

spring break means time to watch instructional videos for my painting e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts, time to create mantras, time to play with paint

spring break means time to explore a new Ali Edwards class Hello Story at Big Picture Classes, time to chat live with Ali herself, time to brainstorm enough new projects to last me beyond the summer

spring break means time to clean out the closet AND the sock drawer, time to sort the winter from the spring, time to get excited about new outfits, time to get motivated about mindful eating

spring break means time to participate in professional development opportunities like Chris Lehman’s poetry workshop (#TeacherPoets), a Twitter chat with Georgia Heard (#LitLead), a Twitter chat with Penny Kittle (#HeinemannPD), a Twitter chat with Donalyn Miller and Teri Lesesne about an article by Richard Allington (#bproots)

spring break means time to reconnect with me, time to recognize who I am, time to think about who I want to become

Friday, April 11, 2014

#TeacherPoets WEEK ONE


Chris Lehman is hosting Teacher Poets, a free online poetry workshop to connect, inspire, and rejuvenate teacher poets.  This week's prompt was simply: Why poetry?  Below is my response. 

Head over to Chris Lehman's blog for more information on how to get involved!

Why Poetry?

Dr. Stovall once said

(he may have been quoting someone even wiser,
but in those days,
in the eyes of a young college girl,
Dr. Stovall embodied the combined wisdom of all literary giants, ever)

novels are like searchlights
into the human soul

short stories are like flashlights
into the human soul

and poetry
well, poetry is like a laser beam
straight into the core
of the human soul.

Nancie Atwell once said

(she was definitely not quoting someone even wiser,
because these days,
in the eyes of this seasoned teacher woman,
Nancie Atwell is educational wisdom incarnate)

everything worth teaching
about literature (and reading, and love, and life)
can be taught through poetry.

Why poetry?

Because wise words
change lives.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

in which I CELEBRATE Ruth Ayres


 
Today is March 1st.  For many of my kindred {blogging} spirits, today marks the start of another Slice of Life challenge. 

But not for me.

I am busy with other challenges.  I am taking an online mixed media art class with Kelly Rae Roberts.   I will be presenting once again at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in two weeks.  I have a big writing project to work on.  I have been reading my heart out. 

But to be true, this busy-ness is not the reason I am not participating in the Slice of Life challenge this year. 


It just isn’t the same without Ruth.


Today is March 1st.  Today I celebrate Ruth. 

Ruth allows me stand on her shoulders at the same time as she claims I inspire her.

Ruth makes me feel special by mentioning me in tweets.

 Ruth shares her talent by creating and gifting mixed media art.
This arrived in the mail today from Ruth Ayres. LIFT is my OLW for 2014. I am in love with Ruth's art.
Ruth helped me build genuine connections with teachers all over the United States {and even Estonia}. 

Ruth brings her heart {a heart that knows how to love BIG} to everything she does.  And everything is better with Ruth’s heart in it.  I am lucky enough to have experienced firsthand the truth of that statement—my life is better with Ruth’s heart in it.

Today is March 1st.   Today I celebrate Ruth.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

31 THINGS day thirty-one {in which I CELEBRATE finding joy}

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, Ali's example, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here over 31 days.

 
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards

day thirty-one | joy

Every Saturday, Ruth Ayres invites the world to notice, record, and share celebrations from throughout the week. 

Sharing these favorite bits from throughout the week is a writing challenge as well as a sort of life challenge.  Knowing I am gathering fodder for a Saturday (or Sunday in some cases) celebration post, I move through my week with my eyes wide open.  Reasons to celebrate, sometimes difficult to spot, are tucked into everyday life.  Just the kind of life details this 31 Things challenge has been about. 

So, although I have many BIG things to be joyful about, here are some of the more ordinary bits of my life that brought me joy this week.

the message celebration saves and the kind words that came along with it

comments on my blog posts

thank you notesjust because

dogs climbing into my lap to snuggle

smiles on the faces of students (especially one in particular whose smiles have been rare lately)

sticking to my exercise routine

trying a new restaurant with Mark

phone calls and texts and giggles with Mom

writing with friends

reading an entire book in one sitting

Saturday, February 22, 2014

31 THINGS day thirty

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, Ali's example, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here over 31 days.

 
created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards

day thirty | 3:35pm

who | I am with my husband and two colleagues

what | we are having our usual Friday Write Club meeting, consisting of me sharing a text for us all to use as a springboard into a quick write

where | we are in my classroom, sitting at student desks that serve as a table when pushed together like this

when | from after school until whenever we manage to wrap up the conversation that spills over after sharing our work; today this means

why | because we are all writers who welcome ways to make more time in our lives for writing | because time spent writing, sharing, bonding, laughing, crying with colleagues friends is time well spent | because writing, like celebration, saves

Friday, February 21, 2014

31 THINGS day twenty-nine

I am participating in a class with Ali Edwards through Big Picture Classes called 31 Things.  Every day includes a word, writing prompts, dig deeper prompts, a writing tip, Ali's example, and a photo challenge.  In addition to the prompts, templates for a physical album and/or digital album are included.  I am creating a digital album and plan to share the results here over 31 days.


created with Photoshop Elements 9 and tools from 31 Things with Ali Edwards

day twenty-nine | smell

We never walk in the front door.  We park along the curb, taking the sidewalk to a narrow path that runs alongside the house, around to the back.  Francesca with a bright red bandana that Grandma calls babushka is peering out the window.  I wonder if she is ever allowed outside because every time we see her, it is through this window.  Always a flash of red covering her braided hair, as if she is from an earlier time—perhaps a leftover playmate from Mom’s childhood.

Along the narrow walk between Grandma’s house and Francesca’s window, tomato plants grow tall enough to look me in the eye.  I barely pay them any attention.  The delicate tangle of leafy stems vining amongst wire support frames cannot compete with the mystery next door.

We round the corner behind the house, climb the wooden porch steps and head into Grandma’s kitchen.  As soon as I step foot inside, I steal a peek behind the open wooden door, hoping to see the little birdie I am often told lives there—the one who tells Grandma my secrets and reminds her about special events, like birthdays.  I have a vague sense I am being teased when Grandma talks about her little birdie, but I can’t stop my eyes from sneaking behind the door to be sure.

All it takes is the smell of a tomatoespecially a tomato freshly pulled from a vineto take me back to Grandma’s house.