What A Writing Community Does #sol16

The month of March slipped away like a shadow into shade .

The challenge was to write a slice of life every day for the entire month of March and post it. Well, I made it 21 days out of 31.

21 blog posts in 31 days!  Although I did not accomplish the challenge of posting every day, I still am wearing my achievement cape like a superhero . Since I began my blog in 2012, writing a post every six months had become my going rate.  So, mathematically, I’ve increased my production from .005% to 66% if I keep up the pace.  My writing muscles are greased and the Bernice Brain has quieted long enough for me to put stuff out there.

If I were to be totally honest, it was not really the challenge that got me writing, it was this writing community.  Holy Kamoly.  I have never seen such an inspiring, encouraging, uplifting, dedicated, creative group of human beings.

Never once did I have a post sit there lonely without some cheers from my fellow writers, (and sometimes my mother).  Feedback is crucial to the writer, whether only a pat on the back for showing up to write or a serious shot of gratitude for writing something that was resonated with. Even more so, to give me another perspective in my own little narrow viewed world.  It is then that I really know my words were taken in.  Love that.

I anxiously awaited the posts of other slicers.  Sometimes I sought inspiration and it was the content or structure of another writer that made my own fingers later dance at the keyboard. Other times, I seriously didn’t wish to write at all and filled my coffee cup just to read and comment on other’s words.  It felt as if we were exchanging small gifts, enjoying each other’s company and allowing one another to get a little peek into the world of other teacher-writer-lovely-people.  Always, I felt a calm peace after reading other’s posts.

I am jealous of writers who have writing communities or writing groups that they meet with face to face on a regular basis.  I have yet to find that.  But, this community here is the closest I have come to realize I will ever get.  At least right now. I am so grateful to have had this.

Thank you to the writing teachers at Two Writing Teachers for the enormous amount of work this challenge must have added to their already busy days.  Their commitment to writing and fostering teachers who write is remarkable.

Thank you to Elisabeth Ellington who voiced she was taking the plunge to do the challenge this year.  I saw her tweet and there was this little nudge in me that said, “Do it.”  I needed her words to give me the confidence to take it on.

And, good heavens, thank you to anyone who took a few moments out of your busy lives to read my words and then to comment.  The comments kept me writing.  They told me that my words matter.

Such goodness.

And, now the pump is primed.

Shari 🙂

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Stepping Away To Restock The Well sol#16

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Writing can consume you.

Even when you are not actually writing, you are preparing for writing by seeking the topic for which you might write about today.  Knowing you have to put a post out there each day adds that pinch of added pressure to pick something good, something worthwhile, something that others really care to even read.  I mean, do you really want to read about how my coffee maker overflowed?  Or all about the zipper that broke on my favorite pair of jeans? How about the fact that my dog is dragging old deer bones to the front door step now that the snow has melted?  Yes, these daily happenings could take me to deep, underlying themes of angst, aging and rebirth if I decide to go with some of these topics, but frankly, I just don’t want to go there.  Ugh. Blah. Meh – my daughter calls it.

It was time to step away for a bit.

I skipped two days of the 30 Day Slice of Life Challenge.

“This is okay,” I kept repeating to my “Bernice” brain.

I needed a little break.  Not from writing – but from writing for an audience.  Not everything we write is for the public eye.  Thank God.  Even though I had some content from my days that I could have crafted into a post, my inner writing angel, Gabby, nudged me away from the keyboard this weekend to travel with my husband to his swim meet five hours away.  Yes – to restock the well.  Prime the pump.  Collect new fodder.

Oh, how I love collecting fodder.

The collecting part of writing is where my pure bliss happens.  The not knowing what I will do with a noticing – or if it will grow into anything at all is not the concern.  All I am doing is collecting.  There is an inner joy when there is a shift into a “presentness” mode of being, a living wide awake. Arrival at this place, fills me with peace and contentment, the heart opens and expands as reminders of how connected we are to everyone and everything saturates every moment.

~the sweet coffee shop lady of Mexican decent (I think), a beautiful smile that lights up the shop, her voice like music.  I felt her healing morning blessings as she crafted my decaf dark-as-you-can-make-it latte with almond milk and a shot of hazelnut syrup.

“Can you do that?” I asked.

“Of course,” she comforted me, “It’s an art, you know”.

Can you fall in love with your coffee making lady?  Umm. . . yes.

I left the coffee shop, my hands surrounding the warmth and love in a cup that was created for me.  Yes, I can feel that.  It’s a big deal.

~the college age boys slumped back in their stools at the restaurant bar, beers waiting for them to sip on, their attention – each of them, on their phones, few words spoken between any of them.  Yeah, I felt that, too.

~the waitress who swayed us away from the house soup.  “It has been sitting in the pot too long,” she warned us.  Again.  Felt it.

~my husband’s college buddies who show up to swim with him.  My husband is 52.   These boys shift to 22 year olds.  It’s pretty hard not to feel that.

My notebook filled faster than I could keep up.

My husband became annoyed at my wonderings.  “You’ll have to google that,” became his response to anything he really didn’t have an interest in investigating with me.  That’s ok.  It was my own senses on high alert.  His focus on driving or to get his swimming mindset on.  There’s no way he could keep up to me on my fodder collecting days.  A child, I am.  He’s lucky I do most of my wondering in my head.

The most miraculous thing happens when you tell yourself you are only “collecting” and not going to write.

You can not help but be driven to write.

It’s a little trick I play on myself.

I love it when I fall for it.

So, I’m out of being eligible for any prizes in the March 30 Day Slice of Life Challenge.  I’m okay with that.  I had to go with the ebb and flow of my own writing self.

And, my well is restocked.

Shari 🙂

 

 

Art Makes You Feel Better~#sol16

Waking up this morning, a day off after a 12 hour day of parent teacher conferences, a slight bit of gloom weighs heavy on me.  As an introvert, so much people time depletes my energy reserves and I need days of aloneness to restore and renew my supply.

My husband, chipper as a five year old on Christmas, skipped out this morning with buddies – an ice fishing trip until Monday.  I have the house to myself for three whole days.  Yet, every room of the house begs for my attention; dishes, laundry, bills, school work.  I burrow into my bed a little longer than usual until our yellow lab, Sandy, comes into my bedroom and finds my elbow to lick.

After coffee,  my notebook is pulled out.  A few morning pages and then some creating is in store.  A little doodling is all it takes to start refilling the well.  Sometimes, I cut and glue and paint and design art journal pages on a Saturday morning, but today, a pen is all that is needed.

There is no end product in mind, just a process of doodling.  Sometimes zentangle designs come up, sometimes it’s faces filled with a variety of expressions.  I giggle a bit after each face as some characters come alive – or I come to the realization that I know that face in real life.

When I don’t know where to start,  drawing what I’m wearing, including the emotions I might be carrying gets me going down the doodling path and stokes the fires a bit.  My pen takes over with a mind of it’s own and I just follow it.  An hour or so later, some heaviness is lifted and I feel ready to dig into my day.

Some people start their day with prayer.  Some with writing (me, too)  Some exercise.  Others create their to-do lists.  On my weekends, I start with art.

How about you?  How do you restock the well?

Shari 🙂

I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.

 

5 Bullet Wednesday ~ #sol16

It’s Day 2 of the Slice of Life Story Writing Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.  The mission is to blog daily for the month of March.  This is not an easy task.  Our days are full and often we think there is nothing much to write about.  But magic happens when you are on this mission to put something out to the world every day.  Stuff to write about appears. Everything appears blog worthy.  The issue then becomes what to choose.

I follow Tim Ferris, author of 4-Hour Work Week (even though I know that will never happen – I’m a teacher for Pete’s Sake) and am inspired by his 5 Bullet Friday posts.  The structure is easy for any kind of writing day, especially when you need to write something quick and have several ideas floating around in your head.  So, here goes.  My 5 Bullet Wednesday:

Book I Am Loving Right Now ~ All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  I’m telling you, the writing in this book is so savory.  I can study a paragraph for an hour analyzing how Anthony Doerr tried to do that.  I often share my journey through this book with my third graders at school and they are in as much suspense as I am.

A Quote That’s On My Mind ~ “Living in a state of wonder involves creating space in our lives for storing up our impressions of the world, and reflecting on them.  There is something important about the storing up of things.  We are sorting, sifting and making sense of our thoughts and experiences.  And holding these things close-in a compulsively over-sharing culture-is a rare discipline.”  ~ Christina Crook

Clothing I’m Loving ~ The super clearance winter jacket I bought at Walmart FOR $19.00.  Yes, you heard it.  $19.00.  You’d never guess.  Dang, I love a good deal.

Song I’m Loving ~ Jake Owen’s Real Life.  I cannot help but dance around in my car when this song comes on the radio.

What I’m Wondering Today ~ Why did Jimmy Johns quit putting sprouts on their tuna club sandwich?  I really loved the sprouts.

There you have it.  Easy Peasy.  5 Bullet Wednesday.

Shari 🙂

 

Writing To Quiet The Voice

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While readying myself to pen this post, I couldn’t get Bernice’s voice out of my head.  Bernice is my critic, my fear, my alter-ego and she likes to taunt me whenever I try to share some writing with the world.

Today, I actually heard these words come out of her nagging mouth, “You can’t call yourself a writer.  You have not blogged for months, your book proposals have been rejected, your e-book ideas sit in your notebooks and seriously, you are just plain too afraid of me showing up in your writing.  Give it up, Girly.”

I hadn’t heard these words in a while.  A long while.  When I do put my writing out there for the world on a regular basis, Bernice quiets down.  If I have a severe lapse, she shows up, louder and louder.  Funny that.  I’ve given her space to balk.

So, to show her she’s wrong, I came to one of my blogs today (my other is theliteratemind – just as neglected) to actually get back on track to feel more writerly today. I’ve been here so many times, I could write a book on that.  I’d call it Fear of the Keyboard.  I also need to remind myself that I AM A WRITER because I do put my pen to paper every single day.  Like breathing or brushing my teeth. My purpose for writing, however, on a daily basis is not to always share with the world, it’s to find my way in the world.

So, to inspire myself, I vowed to join along the writing journey of 800+ teachers in Kate Messenger’s Teachers Write Summer Camp.  Today’s lesson was on character sketches by Melonie Crowder, author of several books, Parched, Audacity and A Nearer Moon. I’m anxious to read these books after hearing Melonie’s voice in her writing lesson.

I enjoy creating character sketches.  My favorite ones are of my husband and children because I know them so well and they are interesting to observe and write about when they don’t know you are writing about them.  But, I’ve written a few character sketches sitting in airports and on airplanes that bring me back to that moment in a second when I reread them.  I decided to rummage through the notebooks. Here is one I found from a trip to Ohio a few years past.

When I travel alone, the one thing I’ve started to become apprehensive about is the unknowingness of who has purchased the airplane seat next to me. Before boarding the plane, I scan the waiting room for loners wondering which human it might be.  Once on the plane, I sit with my eyes attentive to the entry, eyeing passengers as they look for their seats.  I wait.  On this particular flight, I sat in my window seat for quite some time, beginning to think I was going to be lucky enough to have both seats to myself.  Just imagining it was bliss.

And then he appeared.

A large man, late 30ish, maybe 40’s, wearing a tattered and tight Harley jacket, carrying an Arby’s bag, began his stagger up the aisle.  “Please.  No,” I heard my insides quiver.  I scolded myself, “Shari, that’s terrible.  Be nice.  He might be a very kind man who could be here to teach you something.”  Ok.  Breathe. Look out the window.

The closer he got to my row, the more anxiety I had.  Sure enough, after looking at the seat row signs, he scrunched himself into the seat right next to me. I hugged the window a little tighter.

“Hi,” I greeted him.

“Hey,” he replied.

After settling in, he fumbled with his Arby’s bag and jumbo pop trying to adjust his seat bucket to accommodate him.  Waves of smells came along with him – tractor grease, a faint smell of farts, (can’t think of a better word here – sorry). I began to wonder if maybe gas of this sort just leaks out of some people all day when you eat the kind of stuff that’s in that Arby’s bag.

Then, he opened the bag.  Good Gloria Lord in Heaven.

This was not your average hamburger and fries kind of stench.  I was gyro-like with strange sauces.  That combined with the tractor grease and farts was enough to make my eyes water.  I turned my head to window wishing I could open it for a whiff of fresh air or of hopes of a lady behind me with strong flowery perfume I could inhale.  Sadly, behind me was another fairly large man with a bad breath issue.  Yes, I could smell it.

I wished for a sedative.

Shut your eyes.  Breathe, Shar, meditate.  Imagine yourself laying in a field of wild flowers or fresh cut hay.  Deep breaths, one – two in, one – two out. Relax.

The Arby’s bag began to rattle.  He’s going in.  My meditation cracks.  I decide not to open my eyes.

Breathe.The stench increases three fold.  Oh my heavens – WHAT is that??????  I’m suffocating.  I should go to the biffy.  No.  He will have to move, too.

Stick it out. Breathe.  Sleep.  Breathe.I drift off. . .

I stopped writing after that.  Too traumatic.  But, I think this guy would be a wonderful character in a story about how we learn something from each person we meet. I could have had a conversation happen in real life.  But, I slept.  Wasted an opportunity.  At least there is still an chance to make it happen in my story.

Thank you, Melonie, for having me revisit this character and memory.

But, more than that. . . for helping me safely put my writing out there today.

Shari 🙂

 

Pondering on Four Big Questions; And A Showcase of Four Amazing Friends


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 A dear writer-thinker-lady-friend kindly invited me to join in a blog hop and to ponder a few questions in where I am at in my journey of writing, creating, breathing and just being human. Well, of course, without a hesitation, I said yes ~ not to promote myself, but to make myself create some space to actually reflect on where I am right now, and where I might be headed. AND, I wanted to have the chance to shout out to the world some of the most amazing friends I’ve made out there in the writing, creating, heart and soul seeking world.

Jeff Goins, a writing teacher I’ve learned so much from, writes that “content is not king ~ it’s all about relationships.”  Well, we know we need to have something worth saying for someone to spend time reading it, BUT, if we don’t have others to share with, it’s only helping ourselves.

 So, here are the Four Big Questions ~

 1.  What am I working on?

 I love how Laura Risser Moss, in her blog, gratefulamazement,  writes that at this time in her life “the curtain on her Second Act is rising”.  I could not find more perfect words to say this is where I am as well.  My children are emptying the nest.  I’m having more time to discover who I really am – other than, wife, mother and teacher of children.

 I’m learning to listen to my body, heart and soul more, as my mind is being ordered to take more time to sit on the bench, or riding the pine, as my husband used to say during basketball season. It’s pretty hard to quiet a voice that’s been leading the parade for so many years, but my heart and soul are pretty pleased.

I’m in my bliss when I’m writing, teaching, creating, learning, helping or guiding others in finding their own true self, but also in helping others to speak and to trust their own voices.  I am working on a hodge-podge of projects right now to live out this bliss.

My bravest step begins August 1st, as a 28-Day Living the Writerly Life E-course.  I began writing this several years ago when I took an online course, called Flying Lessons, by Kelly Rae Roberts, but fear kept showing her scary face and I’d tuck it away.  Well, one day, when the scary monster was out barking at someone else, I hit publish and out to the world the course flew!  There was no turning back.  I can not contain the excitement I have bubbling up inside me to begin this journey guiding others in living like a writer and into hopefully believing that they truly are writers as well.

 In 2012, I vowed to listen to my soul and instill more creativity in my life.  Jeff Goins, was offering a free writing e-course at the time called, You Are A Writer, and this course became the door I entered that opened up an entire world of possibility.  I began two blogs, islandsofmysoul.com and theliteratemind.blogspot, joined a few writing groups, one called Tribe Writers,  and am now working on a book about listening in education.  It’s a timely book due to the increasing use of technology and lack of face to face communication.  This book was born two years ago, so I need to do a giddy-up on it before something more attractive diverts my attention.  It usually does.

I also have two other E-courses marinating in my brain right now as well.  One revolving around writing through our brokenness and the other, a course designed to heal ourselves while taking a journey through our mind, body, heart and soul.  I’m hoping to invite some other fabulous women into this e-course.  These courses came to me during my own writing and through a need.  Our world is going through a huge shift right now.  I’m feeling so much pain and brokenness “collectively”, as my friend Bridgette says, and my soul is crying to help do some healing in any way I can.  Perhaps this healing will take place through writing.

Julie Cameron writes that we need other creative sources besides writing, so that when writing feels stagnant, we can switch gears to another medium and that restocks the writing well.  Art journaling is this other passion.  While painting and using mixed media, messages of encouragement, inspiration and guidance fill my pages.  To keep my art journal girl happy, I participate in the Life Book 2014 online community of art journalists.  Each week is filled with a new lesson by an amazing artist and energetically filled connectedness with others.  Almost by magic, my art journal images often fit perfectly with my blog post writing.  Funny how that works.

 More recently, I’ve been nudged towards making Spirit Dolls. These are dolls created by a its maker to hold energy or an intention, lead one to a dream or to guide one in their path.

I’m not sure where these creative parts of my being will lead me, but for now, I’m just feeling the flow and enjoying the journey.

In August, I go back to my full-time job of being a literacy coach at a K-5 elementary school, so I fear writing and creating will slow down.  I am vowing not to let that happen this year as my artist self begs me to integrate creativity into my work wherever it’s possible.  Working with teachers and children, there’s plenty of room for this if I just pay attention.

2.  How does my work differ from others of it’s genre?

 Well, I’m not 100% positive as to what my “genre” is yet.

What I do know, is that my writing flows from my heart and soul.  It’s not always me putting those words on the page.  It might be poetry one day.  Another day, it could be a short narrative or reflective essay.  I’m still searching for my voice and theme, yet, I like to believe my words are healing and filled with an energy that radiates light, love, and hope.  Sharing my vulnerabilities and my own brokenness has connected me to others that feel pain, too.  If I can help others, even if only a few, to heal through the use of tools that have worked for me, then I am grateful.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I write what I do in order to live.  If I neglect writing, the rest of my life begins to get muddy. Foggy. Unclear.  Depression seeps in.  Writing gives me clarity and direction.  It clears the cobwebs and allows my soul to speak.

Most of my writing remains in notebooks.  I am faithful to Morning Pages each and every day – at least a full 3 pages of whatever comes out of my flowing pen.  Sometimes, words from these notebooks find their way into my blogs, but often, they remain in my notebook as answers to my wonders or lessons learned.

I write what I do on my blogs as a way to reach out to others who may be wrestling with what I wrestle with.  Perhaps they have tools they can share with me, as well.  But, mostly, it’s to share what has helped heal myself in hopes to help others.  It’s a way to build community and affirm to us all we are not alone and that we all share the same humanness.  I’ve learned that writing is one tool I can use to share my gifts of teaching and helping others heal ~ through words.

4. How does my writing process work?

Not very well.

Like I said, I am faithful to my Morning Pages every day, but beyond that, it’s a circus.  Writing for my eyes only are like breathing.  Once I desire to put something out there for the world, my hands hover over the keyboards for a lengthy period of time.  My fingers often weep at what comes out.  It can take me all day to do a blog post as I am also a bit of a researcher and feel obligated to have some valid words from others to support my own opinions.  I am critical of my words and attempt to weave in craft, trying out different leads and structures.

Once a blog post is written, I leave it sit for a period of time and come back to look at it with new eyes.  Of course, I won’t like it.  And, chances are, I’ll change the whole piece or choose just to chuck it.  If it doesn’t feel like it came from my heart, I can’t send it to the world.

One of the biggest roadblocks that hinders my process is the fear of ever sounding expert-ish, know-it-all-ish, self-promoting, judgmental, critical or laced with ego.  I scour my words for any evidence of these demons.  Often times, even when I know my words are written with love and compassion, my fear will tell me otherwise and the words will sit in my draft box indefinately.

My writing process truly is a love/hate relationship for me.

Wow. . . those were some pretty thought provoking questions.  The answers are true for me today, however tomorrow they might be totally different.  These four questions might be path unfolding for anyone to ponder on.

Now ~ here are some amazing writer-artist-healer-people, that I call my friends~

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Laura Moss is beyond grateful to be able to say she has survived being Mom to 4 spirited girls, a battle with aggressive breast cancer, and some difficult seasons in her almost-25-year marriage. She calls herself a Creative, is drawn to beauty in all its forms, and loves loving on people. You can find more of her musings at gratefulamazement.wordpress.com.

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 Leslie Molen is a doll and textile artist.

I have been a full time artist for over twenty years, specializing in dollmaking and textile arts. I have had discussions with friends about what keeps me going, the drive to continue onward.

 Many comment on how I nice it is that I have found my passion…

pas·sion

noun \ˈpa-shən\ : a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.

I tell them it is my calling, I must do this- create in cloth.

call·ing

noun \ˈkȯ-liŋ\

: a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work or impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.

And so my journey to create in cloth continues…this past year I have taken a step back from teaching so that I may start to work towards focusing on my personal art. It is a slow endeavor that will take time to nurture into existence! Stay tuned!”

You can visit Leslie’s page at Rootie Studio and her blog at from these Hands.  Prepare to get lost in her studio!

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James Prescott is  a writer and author from Sutton, near London in the UK.  He loves writing, encouraging people, and seeing people discover their true identity.

“My life journey keeps on teaching me lessons about discovering hope in an imperfect world, and how we can discover our own unique stories in the the midst of this. I share those lessons here in all their brutal honesty.

I’m believe deeply in the power of encouragement. When I was only 12 years old my Dad gave me the opportunity to help him write a major newsletter – which set me on a writing journey. That journey has led me to create this blog and author three books.

If you’re interested in discovering your true identity, if you have a passion to make a difference in the world, if you know you’re broken but are looking for hope, you’re welcome here.

If you want open and honest discussion about issues which matter, or like facing up to the important but difficult questions of life, or you’re a human being, this blog is for you too.”

Early in 2015 James will be releasing his first full-length book, ‘Mosaic of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping of Our Broken Lives’.

To read James’ written words, visit him at jamesprescott.co.uk, or read his bi-monthly posts over at digi-disciple, run by the Big Bible Project, and he also guest posts for prominent authors and bloggers Sarah Bessey, Jeff Goins & Mary DeMuth, amongst others.

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Bridgette Doer connects others to their inspired intuitive life.  I’ve worked with Bridgette and she is the real deal.

“I am overflowing with creative, empowering energy with so much anticipation for what is possible for all of us. There is so much untapped potential, so much capacity. We are much more than we believe we are at this moment.

When I accepted the invitation to be a channel for empowering women by inspiring intuition, the fun energy of the Fairy Grasshopper was created. It is my mission to activate hope, inspiration, and POWER  to help to you grow and glow!  I am in love with my Inspiring Psychic and Soulful Women Empowerment work! It’s not just my job- it is who I AM. I look forward to connecting with you, to cheering you on!”

Bridgette’s website and blog is at fairygrasshopper.com.  She is one amazing woman.

Let Go of Trying to Be Noticed

Less of Me

Today, I’m reblogging a reblog from a blog I love.

Can I do that?  Are there rules?

Well, I am.  It’s just too good to not share with as many people as I can. It’s a topic of concern with my own self and I’m hearing nudges from other like-minded souls that it’s theirs, too.  I will write more on it later, but for now, savor the words of Heather and Mark Nepo.

From Heather at soberboots.com:

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, “This is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.”

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give–Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher. He’s not a Christian, nor is he in recovery that I’m aware of. But God speaks to me a lot through his writings.

BAM:  When we feel the need to BE noticed, turn it around and instead, BE the NOTICER.

Please God,

Show more of yourself, so there will be Less of Me.

Let that marinate.

Shari 🙂

 

Reflection: Why Should I Blog?

Blogging Messy House

The other day, it took me 3 hours to write/revise/edit/publish a blog post on my Literate Mind blog.  It was only a book review, for Pete’s Sake.   I DID have some internet issues and my typical distraction problems.  Seriously, though.  I’m spending way too much time trying to create some words and put them out there for the world.  I have dishes to wash. Laundry.  Rooms to declutter.

So, I got out my notebook and did some serious reflecting.  I asked myself the question that I have began to ask myself with every blog post.

“Why am I doing this?  Why should I blog? What are the benefits of this?  Am I nuts?”

Boy, did my pen have something to say.  Words began to flood onto the page.

Here are 5 reasons (of the many) of why I blog:

1.  I am a teacher.

Not only do I teach kids how to write, but I work with teachers in guiding them to be teachers of writing.  The first must of a writing teacher is that the writing teacher must be a writer.  A pilot instructor would have to know how to fly planes, right?

I’ve always scribbled words in notebooks, diaries, and journals.  I’ve written in front of kids to model writing workshop lessons.  I wrote.  But, still, I did not call myself a writer.  Only real authors could declare themselves a writer and wear that title. Here I was, a teacher for 20+ years and a literacy coach and still, I could not call myself a writer.  Was I worried this was vain?  Did I fear others would think I was lying?  They would surely ask me what I had written if I said I was a writer. And then, judge it, of course.  Ugh.  All of this was just too risky.

What a hypocrite, I was.

Then, in 2012, I signed up for a free e-course by Jeff Goins, called  YOU ARE A WRITER.  Jeff taught me how to say these words:

 

“You are a writer.”

 

“Say them out loud,” he said.

“Write them down.”

” Tell someone.”

So I did.

And, so I was.

The blog was born as a result of claiming I was a writer.  Jeff said that if you are a writer, you have to start acting like one. This meant sharing your writing and building a community.

I guess I had to follow through if I was going to say I was a writer.

 

2.  More valuable that any writing program, I have curriculum to draw from within my own experiences.

I’m in the trenches with the kids and other teachers of writing when I blog.

Mem Fox, in her book, Radical Reflections, writes:

“Teachers of writing who have been soldiers themselves, engaged in a writing battle, are able to empathize more closely with the comrades in their classrooms than teachers who are merely war correspondents at the hotel bar, as it were, watching the battle from a safe distance, declining to get in there themselves and write.”

I didn’t want to be a teacher who sat at the bar, too afraid to practice what I was preaching.

I now know what kids and teachers go through when they try to write.  The fear.  The frustration.  The battle.  This battle can not come when we keep our writing hidden from others, in a notebook.  Notebook writing is easy, as this is first draft writing or jotting down ideas.  It becomes real when we know we are writing for someone other than ourselves.  Then, we have roll up our sleeves, get dirty and then,  clean it up.

I can teach how I find ideas to write by sharing what I do:   noticing what’s happening around me, the words others’ say, topics I deeply care about.  I can teach how to write that perfect lead, because I wrestle with it and have a few tools for this along with some favorite leads from mentor texts.   I can draw from my toolbox, a lesson that teaches others how to edit for themselves and I can model my methods for this, because I’ve done it myself.

I stand on the shoulders of writing teachers; Donald Murray, Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins and Katie Wood Ray.  They are my guides. Basically, nothing I teach is my own idea – these methods came from someone before me.

I’ve used their methods, tried them out and have internalized them as my own methods now.  Will they work for every writer?  No.  I read, listen to other writers and to the kids of how they write and their methods get thrown in my toolbox, as well.

My own toolbox is more valuable that any writing curriculum.  No writing curriculum is perfect as it leaves out the most important factor:  the kids.  If it’s all you have to follow in the teaching of writing, you will be frustrated.   And, I can draw from my own toolbox at anytime, anywhere.  If one tool doesn’t work, I try another.  I’ve tried them all, so they are etched in who I am as a writer.

3.  I’m starting to live my life differently because of my blog.

I notice things with meaning and get it down.  I take time to reflect on, not only events, but on my response to them.  I nudge myself to reflect deeper, to get to the other side, to allow new learning to bubble up, something of significance and to make it clear for me to understand.  I do this for me, but more so, for my audience (even if it is only my mother – thanks, Mom).

A car trip, a walk in the woods, shopping at the grocery store, sitting at the lake, and visiting with people are all free fodder for writing. I find myself thinking not only, “I’ve got to write this down,” but also, “Oh my, I need to write this for ______.”

If I need to write clearly for an audience to understand my thinking, I’d better be pretty clear of it myself.

I could not have done this without a blog.

4.  Blogging has been an avenue in which to use the tool of writing to serve my higher purpose.

I don’t think that writing is a  purpose or a calling.  It’s just a tool to use.  If you are called to teach?  Write.  Called to heal?  Write.  Called to inspire?  Write.  Called to serve, help others, beautify the world, create, coach, energize, collaborate?  Then, write, write, write.  There is no better tool that can reach more people than writing.  But, only if you put it out there for the world.

5.  It just feels good.

There is a sense of accomplishment and surge of satisfaction I feel every time I hit publish.  I am jolted with a little shot of dopamine upon seeing those words,   “Your post has been published.”

And, then, I do a little happy dance.

Getting it down is the easy part.  Revision and editing is hard work.  Never, would I revise and edit in my notebooks.  Blogging makes you do this.

I’ve had to learn to choose timely topics and ones that matter.  I’ve had to figure out how to stick to a topic and focus.  I tend to stray in my notebooks, but I can’t do that on a blog.

I strive to find ways to improve in my craft by reading books about writing, joining some writing groups online and taking classes about writing.  I know what I struggle with in my writing and have learned to appreciate criticism.  Always, I can get better at this.

When we know more, we do better and we gain confidence.

And, this just feels good.

 

Okay ~ I guess the rewards are worth the battle.  Whew.

The only drawbacks are that my house is a mess.  But, it was a mess before I started blogging, so I guess I can’t use that as an excuse.

Maybe I should blog about that.

What are the reasons you blog?  Please, let me know.

 

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

 

Settling Into A New Writing Space

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It’s officially summer.  This means that I make the move from my “in-the-house” writing space, (which is really the bedroom of my daughter who is at college) to my sanctuary, a studio room above the garage. We do not heat the room above the garage, so every fall I migrate to the indoors to write and create.  It’s always a sad move saying goodbye to my own personal sanctuary, but the move back to this space in the summer is a filling of my heart and soul as I greet my home.  I feel the layers of the winter’s old energies melt off of me once I am back to the studio.

Stacey Shubitz shared her writing area at Two Writing Teachers a couple of weeks ago and this inspired me to share mine.  Seeing others’ sacred space is a visual inspiration that gets juices flowing to clean up our own spaces.  Or, move to another one.

Let me tell you about my space.  It’s not fancy, but it works for me.

The table is one of those $35.00 tables you can buy at Walmart.  It’s white and we have several that we’ve used for graduations.  I’ve draped it with a small quilt I made years ago.  I love the softness of it.  The quilt also is a reminder to me to slow down (examining the small stitches around each Log Cabin block does this).  When my kids were small, I did a lot of hand quilting ~ for therapy mostly.  Hand quilting calmed me and was my creative outlet.

The chair is a lawn chair.  A comfy one because I sit on a pillow and cover the arms with a fleece blanket.  Again, cozy cozy.  Comfort, a priority if I’m going to sit myself down to write.

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A writing alter sits before me, each object having significance in my space.  Always, a candle is lit.  A lit candle is a reminder that my own light shine through in my writing.  I prefer sage candles as they tend to clear any negative energy as well, but right now, my sage candle is spent.  My back up candle here is creamy vanilla and it makes me hungry for cake.  Not a good thing when you are trying to write.  Note to self:  buy more sage candles.

Also here, is my writing angel.  I call her in and she sits by my side. Archangel Gabrielle is the angel of communication.  If I ask, she helps me to quiet Bernice (my mind) and all of the insecurities that hold me back.

You will also see a heart with wings, made from clay, sit upon my alter.  I am a touchy-feely person and holding this heart and saying a prayer to God to allow me to speak from the heart is so important.  If I know I am speaking from the heart, I do not worry so much about what others think of my words on the page.


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There are inspirational messages tacked up on my walls of my writing space and tissues for when tears penetrate through my writing (love it when that happens).  A small notebook is handy as it holds some snippets of words from other writers that caught my eye.  These words find their way into my writing.

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Of course, I get stuck when not knowing what to write about. Collecting tidbits for ideas is an obsession for me.  I tack them on my bulletin board, toss them into a flower pot and save newspaper clippings in an envelope.  Most of the time, I write about something pressing on my mind at the time, but quite often, I need to just pick something and see where it takes me.

There are two other spaces that I need to get set up in my sanctuary. One is for art journaling/painting and the other for sewing.  I tend to have to jump between these creative outlets.  When I’m stuck in one, I navigate over to the other.  But most of my time is here, writing.

I’m anxious for the words that will come from this space this summer. (smile)

Shari 🙂