Read the Directions First ~ #SOL 15/31 2021

My new Narwhal Fountain Pen

A new fountain pen arrived via UPS the other day. It’s a Narwhal pen that has a piston to draw the ink into the barrel rather than a cartridge. I thought this would mean less ink fills as the entire barrel of the pen fills with ink rather than just a small cartridge. It’s a beautiful pen with a marble design, lightweight and summer-like.

Well, it’s a different kind of apparatus than the cartridge-type fountain pens and I think I may have broken it right from the get-go.

The directions said to twist the end-cap counterclockwise until you feel resistance.

The problem was, I didn’t read the directions until after I had twisted it beyond resistance and I heard a small click. I can’t get it back together now.

My disappointment in my ability to read directions first as precautionary measures as opposed to after-thoughts can not be understated. 

I should have immediately taken the whole set-up directly to my husband to have him figure things out. He attends to these kinds of details and reminds me that I struggle with potato chip bags.

Nothing is safe.

I will have to send it back to the company and confess my error. I could not find any other people online that have had this problem. Perhaps I am either the first, or others won’t admit to this act of careless ignorance. 

I imagine how this conversation with go between the two men (I’m picturing men) that will have to fix this pen.

“Where is this woman from?” Pen-fixer #1 will say to Pen-fixer #2 as they speak about the situation.

“Northern Minnesota,” Pen-fixer #2 will reply. 

“Oh – – way up in the sticks, eh?” (he’ll add the “eh” as a joke believing we all add “eh” to our sentences here.) I’m not surprised. I’m sure she’s probably only used those cheap BIC Z4 Roller glide pens before.” He’ll roll his eyes to the other guy.

They’ll laugh at this. “Har – har – har!”

“Ya – probably never even seen a pen like this before. It’s way outta her league. She should have taken it straight to her husband. My guess is, he’s a hunter and has guns. If he knows how to clean a gun, he could have operated this for her.”

They’re not wrong.

Except for the “eh” and the “ya”.

Anyway, I’ll risk the conversation they’ll have about me and wrap it up and send it back today. 

I believe I’ve also some some damage to my back with the rollerball I used the other night. I’d spent about 15 minutes trying to roll out some knots and kinks in my back. Afterwards, I checked on the internet to see what other rollerball exercises I could do for my back. 

The first post that came up was one describing inappropriate moves of what NOT to do or you could really cause some damage.

So . . . those were the moves I had just finished doing.

I am in some pain today and walk like an 90 year old lady.

I’m seeing a pattern here.

Note to self: If you don’t know what you are doing, read the directions first.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

It’s National “Get Over It” Day ~ #SOL 9/31 2021

Art journaling my sugar farewell. . .

I’ve been trying to pay attention to the National Holidays calendar this year just to add some variety to my days. I have odd methods for my own personal entertainment. My husband and I celebrated National Popcorn Day on January 19th and National Homemade Soup Day on February 4th. Sadly, I missed National Handwriting Day on January 23rd and National Library Shelfie Day on January 27th. I certainly could have used a reason to reorganize my book shelves. 

Today is National “Get Over It” Day. I know. Right?

It’s also National Barbie Day, Crabmeat Day and Meatball Day.

Pick one, I tell myself – of course Barbie and Meatballs would be easy, but I’m not so much fond of Barbie these days and I just made meatballs last week. Crabmeat? No. This is Minnesota. The words Get Over It seemed to stand out in bold print, which is what happens when I need to pay attention to something.

I took this to my notebook.

“Get Over It” on the surface can mean two things, I’m thinking. I’m sure there’s more, but I’m going with two for the sake of notebook time. The obvious, is in letting something go. A grudge, a narrative we believe in that might be keeping us from growing, or maybe a resistance towards something. Perhaps I need to get over my fixation on  my husband’s piles of stuff throughout the house and move to action – or reshift my attention to my own piles of stuff. Why are we hanging on to so much stuff?

But, I wonder if there isn’t another “Get Over It” meaning, one I’m leaning towards. 

Have you ever seen that video of the woman breaking a world record in the high jump? I can’t find it now and if I keep looking I’ll be in Rabbit hole Mind and I want to refrain from going there. Anyway, this video clip, if you find it, is quite thrilling to watch.  I viewed it a dozen times and I felt more empowered with each view. 

This woman breaking a high-jumping record is the essence of “Get Over It”. 

What it must have taken her to accomplish this feat I can’t imagine. I did the high jump in high school track and I was pretty happy with 5 feet. This is not any kind of record. Maybe I didn’t jump 5 feet even. Maybe that was wishful thinking. I can’t remember. Yet today, I can barely jump over a mud puddle.

It takes commitment, discipline, devotion and daily practice to “Get Over It” – to get that thing we want to accomplish. Routine, rituals, and habits help you get there. Saying no to other things. Soon, this bar can be reached and it becomes a part of who we are. It’s woven into the fabric of our genius and becomes effortless. 

That’s the “Get Over It” I”m choosing on this National Get Over It holiday.

For me, right now, at this very point in time, that bar is: sugar. 

Pandemic pounds have crept upward on top of the menopausal pounds and I so tire of my achy breaky whining in my notebook about how my body feels. I know that to get over this, I need to get over sugar.  It’s an all or nothing kind of relationship.  Even 99% no sugar would open a tiny crack for 1% to completely steamroll the whole enterprise. It’s all gotta go. That’s it. I’m not being dramatic here.

So, I’m on Day 2 of no sugar. Adding more steps in my days. And, moments of wonder, writing and dreaming about who I will become without sugar. 

Note to Self: Commitment, discipline and constant awareness will be necessary, I know. I’ll imagine the beauty of jumping over the high bar on this “Get Over It” day to celebrate.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge.

A writing practice can be a means of “gaining a perspective on where you are in the movement of your life” and be a medium to “explore the possibilities of your future in the context of your whole life.” ~ Ira Progoff

Warming The Writing Space ~ #SOL 2021

My writing sanctuary above our garage was quite chilly this morning, the heat turned excessively down at night. I turn the electric heat dial to high in an effort to bring warmth quickly, before my fingers numb. A small electric fireplace in the corner across from me assists the main heat while also offering a background hum and a warm comforting glow. 

Grateful for the warmer temps, with highs predicted in the 20’s, means my sanctuary becomes my writing-reading-playing-workroom. When the Minnesota lows hover around -20 below zero, I must migrate to a writing location inside the house as even with all the heat power my writing room has, it refuses to warm my midlife bones. My husband also complains about the electric bill when I’m up here in frigid, cold weather. 

Usually, I don’t listen to this nonsense, but when I know he is more right than not, I bail.

On these chilly days, I tend to write in my overstuffed chair parked next to my bookshelves and wrap myself in blankets, rather than sit at my desk. I have two down blankets that envelope me on mornings such as this, both gifted to me from my husband who spotted them on super clearance, because he knows I’m always cold. They are perfect for cocooning in. Not quite bed size – more lap sized – a fuzzy imitation fur on one side, and the outer shell, well . . . nylon, but in a warm woodsy print.

Now at first, when he presented this gift to me, I was quite perplexed. Why would a company use a nylon fabric for this outer shell? It’s cold to the touch and it tends to slide down my shoulders when I am using it. It took me a while to warm up to it because I am a slow warmer-upper to sensory kinds of things. I had to force myself to use it, repetitively, in order to acclimate to it because it was a gift from my husband and his feelings might get hurt if he sees me not using his gifts to me. And, I can’t risk not receiving more gifts.

After a time, however, I realized it’s advantage. We have a yellow lab, named Ella, who roams our house and lounges on the furniture. These nylon blankets are the only blankets we have not attracted to all of her dog hair. 

Frankly, this is the only reason I can find for the advantage of the nylon. I suppose it might be beneficial in the rain.

In a perfect world, the shell would be heavy flannel.

But, I carry onward as best I can. . . knowing my spoilage. . .

Well, I certainly didn’t know this Warming of the Writing Room would be the first entry I would pen for the Slice of Life this year. This tending to the heat has become a necessity ritual in the creating of conditions for writing each day. 

The ink in my pen now thawed, my breath calm, my heart open.

I welcome in new words for the day.

I am participating in the 14th Annual SOL 2021 March challenge. For 31 days, I will attempt to write and share a small slice of life from my days. If you’d like to read more of today’s slices from other teacher-writers, please head over to twowritingteachers, who have also committed to this challenge. When teachers write themselves, they are able to draw from their inner curriculum they have shaped for themselves in which to model and teach their students. But, more than this, as human beings, we also cultivate a writing practice that can be a buoy and and an anchor in the turbulent waters of our lives.

Story Starters, Prompts & Quick Writes ~ SOL#19 ~ Day#5

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It seems like Twitter is flooded with lots of educators asking questions lately; teachers needing resources for a unit, books around a certain topic, or a lesson to teach something. I recently came across a tweet requesting prompts for journal entries for a class because the students didn’t have anything to write about.

My inner writing soul whispered, “Teach them to notice the world.”

Mary Oliver said it best, “Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About it.”

What if we just modeled and taught our students what awareness was and what that looks like, sounds like and feels like? Writers have strategies to help them pay attention to the world around them, and I think that we can teach these as strategies or triggers and call them as such, rather than the latter, to get something down on the page. Awareness is a habit of mind that can be cultivated over time – every day – so that after a couple of weeks, we can just say, “Write for 20 minutes,” and students will be able to grab something because, hopefully, they have been paying attention, or else they can choose a strategy to get them started. If our goal is writing independence, wouldn’t we want them finding writing topics on their own instead of us having to provide them?

Lynda Barry’s tool for teaching students (and myself) to be more aware is pretty effective. Seriously, used daily for a week or so activates the senses to no end.  Character sketches can happen constantly because people are everywhere and people are interesting. Really see someone, pay attention to their character and who they are. We write from big wonderings or noticings when we read books, listen to music or podcasts, or pay attention to the happenings going on in our world. Most of the time, if we are truly aware, just paying attention to the voices that are constantly talking in our mind should give us enough content for life.

I’ve also learned how important it is to take a good line from one of those awareness entries, just a line and to write from that, following whatever path unfolds, to find our way to new discoveries (Donald Murray taught me this). This, too, takes practice. And, modeling. Scary modeling it is, because it’s authentic and you don’t know where it will lead. Once I modeled this for my third graders starting with the smell of burnt toast and ended up writing about how it reminded me of my grandmother’s house and pretty soon I was a puddle. Geez. 28 kids sat there mesmerized. They wanted to try it.

Awareness and discovery. I really think that’s the meat of what keeps me writing.

Well, this wasn’t really a Slice of Life, but Twitter started it.

I just followed the thread.

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2019 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂 To read the posts of other Slicers, please go here.

Why Are We Here? ~ SOL#2019~ Day 1

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Here we are. Again.

But why? Our days are full. Our plates are full. Our minds are full. Adding one more thing feels impossible.

After spending an hour reading the posts of others who have committed 31 days of their writing lives to share with the world, it was evident as to what brings us here.

Some writing friends feel the nudge through the energy of others, feeling a pull to connect with like-minded-teacher-writer-soul-sisters. We work in places where perhaps others do not write or wish to write, nor do they understand why in the world we would WANT to write. We are all writers here. Join in and hold hands. High five!

Some writing friends are carrying pain, dreariness and are walking through sludge at this time of year. Whether they or a loved one is going through difficult times, or maybe  just feeling the pressures and stress of our vocation that March brings, we know someone here will understand and lift us up. There is connection here. If a writer is hurting, we all open up and feel her heart. Grab a tissue because tears will be shed.

Some writing friends have been asleep at the wheel. Attuned to the spin cycle in the mind and neglecting the gifts the world puts before us. A sharpened writing mind takes us out of our craziness and into the present. We crave this awareness of the world – of others – and the wonder of living as a human. This sense of awe is what keeps us alive and brings bliss to our souls.

Some writing friends have not been writing and wish for a cultivated habit of coming to the page each day. They realize they have not been story-catching the moments of their existence. Fear sets in. How will anyone know we were ever here on this planet without the snippets of a life well-lived left behind? A SOL challenge will get that stuff down.

For me, it’s all of this. Connection. Well-being. Community. Awareness. Story-catching.

But, mostly, it’s because of the mystery of not knowing where I’ll end up. Each writing journey starts with a line and ends up somewhere else. It’s like a present I give myself each day. A good writing friend once told me it’s the surprise in the next line that becomes the writer’s addiction.  Or, maybe that was Donald Murray. 🙂

And,the best part? Writing is free.

Words are free! All of them! Even the long ones!

Not the notebooks, though. . . and the pens. . . and the books. . . and the cookies I need to eat to keep me writing. . .

But the words? Yeah. They’re free.

Why would anyone NOT want to write?

Shari 🙂

I’m participating in twowritingteachers March 2019 Slice of Life Challenge of writing a blog post every day for the month of March. 🙂