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Saturday, December 9, 2017

hope is sensible {CELEBRATE This Week: 220}


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
*******


One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is plug in the Christmas tree lights before any other lights are on. I use a flashlight to find the outlet and light the tree while sleepy wisps are still clearing from my mind.

The coffee starts to brew and I sit on the dark end of the couch soaking in the tiny white lights. Sometimes my resistant for only one set of lights in the wee hours of the morning crumbles and I light the banister too. The tree and the stockings make my heart warm.

Over the years of building a forever family I've been worn at the holiday season. Love is not easy for children from hard places and over-the-top love within a season of irregular schedules and unpredictable events can make even those of us who love Christmas the most wonder if we should wrap up the white lights.

Christmas joy is a result of met expectations. We must be careful with our expectations or we can become disenchanted. Sometimes we might consider giving up hope.

I did.

We have been a forever family for kids from hard places for more than a decade. This is the first Christmas that hasn't rolled in with turmoil and I wondered if maybe Christmas isn't worth getting all giddy about.

Plugging in a strand of lights is an act of hope. Like most acts of hope, it makes me feel ridiculous.

The world tells us to worry and demand results. 

Never will these responses heal broken people.

When we're in the thick of the hard, battling for what's right in a world that offers grotesque and malicious, it is easy to forget that hope is sensible. 

We've had eleven frightful Christmas seasons. Kids from dark corners work to destroy joy and peace. That's what happens when we let the world inside our homes and hearts. Hurting people hurt people.

I sit on the dark end of the couch with white light twinkling. It's different this year. I like to think it's because my precious kids from very hard places no longer need to confirm forever.

There's less need to sling vicious words or wield wild fists. They've discovered forever. 

Healing is not restoring perfection. Healing is scars. When hearts are broken and broken again and hurt slices souls, humans must discover if love is worth letting in. We test love in all kinds of ways, twisting and pushing on the hearts of those who want to be close to us, those who proclaim to be real.

It's not just children from hard places who test others.

Because if we're honest, we're all from hard places. We're all fighting weary battles. We're an orchestra that creates a cacophony of human emotions. 

It's easy to be scratched by hard hearts. 

The only sensible choice is hope.

For me hope is plugging in one more strand of white lights. For Andy it's watching a game with his buddies. Sam places a train track around the tree, and Jordan plays video games with his best friend. Hannah organizes her closet and Stephanie choses to believe that the world does offer good.

This week she was in the car with Andy and said, "Dad, I've figured out the secret to being happy."

"What's that?" Andy asked.

"You just do the right thing and then no matter what happens, it still feels good."

Hope is sensible. This season I celebrate seeing the fruits of hope.





Friday, December 1, 2017

hello december {CELEBRATE This Week: 219}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
*******


I'm writing surrounded by little white lights and fresh balsam. The house is merry and bright. It's my way of resisting the hustle and bustle of the spinning world. It's my protest of busy.

I take time to string the lights. We unpack ornaments and hang them one by one on the tree. We giggle and wish and brew tea in the Christmas tea pot. We sit by the light of the Christmas tree and hold hands. 

The longer I'm on this spinning rock called earth, the more compelled I am to be more and do less. This season, I'm choosing to celebrate taking the time to be.
  1. Be Present. I'm challenging myself to be wholly present wherever I am.
  2. Be of Good Cheer. I want others to feel good about themselves and the world when they are around me. It begins by bringing good cheer.
  3. Be Mindful. I am aware of the work before me, as well as the need for fun and rest and relationships. I am being mindful in order to live a more intentional life.
  4. Be Playful. I want to be more playful. Play brings peace. I want to be playful in order to make others smile and laugh and feel good.
Hello December, you are going to be a very merry month.

Thanks for taking the time to celebrate with me. Please share your links below.



Friday, November 17, 2017

What a response! {CELEBRATE This Week: 218}

I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
*******


I have this belief about blogging -- really about life -- that we shouldn't make things more complicated than they need to be. I sit here torn about celebrating #EnticingWriters for another week. It feels a little haughty.

I cycle through the week and make a list of celebrations -- there are many. I sit here torn about celebrating something other than #EnticingWriters because it feels a little inauthentic.

Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers was released last week and the responses from the field have soothed my tattered writer's heart. You are so kind.

This is the hardest thing I've ever written. I wanted to write truth, but not just things that are true for me. I wanted Universal Truth. Until this week, I wondered if I hit the mark. Is it just a book full of stories or is it a book that will be a catalyst for change? 

I've been sending links of the sweet things to my parents. Andy has been following along in social media. I keep coming across these beautiful images of my words or quotes from the book and my usual response is: "I can't believe I wrote that."

When you read something written from the heart, it takes your breath away.   The stories the writer shares draw you in and lines from the text replay in your head long after you finished reading.  We often get this feeling when we read a memoir, a story, or a poem, but a professional book?  Yes, when we read Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers it took our breath away. 
Michelle's sweet opening to her interview made pushing through the draft worth it.
There are many professional development books available to learn about mastering our craft of teaching.  However, there are only a few that make a true impact -- and this is one book that weaves raw truth, research, practical ideas, and story all in one {cute} little package. 

I feel so humbled and grateful that my stories are making things different in your corner of the world. I appreciated Leigh Anne opening her corner of the world to us by sharing a story from her classroom.

This I celebrate: the hard of life is turned into something beautiful simply by sharing our stories.

Stenhouse is giving away lots of copies of Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. Just follow along on the blog tour and leave comments on the posts for your chance at a free copy.

Blog Tour Stops from Last Week

I'm hoping you'll join in for this FB Live event!
11/18 (Sat) STENHOUSE FB LIVE at 1:30pm (CST) with Shawna Coppola and Stenhouse FB Page

Upcoming Blog Tour Stops
    11/20 (M) Mary Helen Gensch https://booksavors.wordpress.com
    11/22 (W) Jen Vincent http://www.teachmentortexts.com/
    (November Newsletter -Write About https://www.writeabout.com​)

    I hope you'll take time to celebrate this week! Share your links below.

    Friday, November 10, 2017

    #EnticingWriters BLOG TOUR {CELEBRATE This Week: 217}

    I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

    Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

    Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
    *******


    Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers is going on tour! Check out all of the blog stops...not to mention I'm writing a feature for the Write About November newsletter. 

    Here are a few of the reasons this blog tour spurred a little family happy dance in our kitchen.
    • Stenhouse has generously donated TWO BOOKS to be given away at each stop. Follow along for your chance for a free book!
    • Along with the free book comes a free registration to my new course: Enticing Writers Book Club. It starts in January.
    • Mid-tour there is a FACEBOOK LIVE event at 1:30 pm (CST) straight from the Stenhouse booth at NCTE. Shawna Coppola will be with me as we talk about Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.
    • Check out a full preview of the book on the Stenhouse website. (If you decide to purchase the book, forward your receipt to enticing writers[at]gmail[dot]com for a free registration to my new course, Enticing Writers Book Club.
    Here are the links to each stop.



    11/15 (W) Michelle Nero http://literacyzone.blogspot.com
    11/17 (F) Leigh Anne Eck http://adayinthelifeof19b.blogspot.com
    11/18 (Sat) STENHOUSE FB LIVE at 1:30pm (CST) with Shawna Coppola and Stenhouse FB Page
    11/20 (M) Mary Helen Gensch https://booksavors.wordpress.com
    11/22 (W) Jen Vincent http://www.teachmentortexts.com/
    (November Newsletter -Write About https://www.writeabout.com​)

    I'd love if you would help me spread the word! 

    Tweet: Follow along the #enticingwriters blog tour. Giveaways and fun -- starting Monday 11.13.2017 https://ctt.ec/m6nIS+
    Share your celebrations below.

    Friday, November 3, 2017

    Darkness to Light {CELEBRATE This Week: 216}

    I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

    Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

    Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
    *******


    I want to remember this moment. 

    They are each holding a copy of my brand new book, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It's almost a little too much. 

    These guys, the ones I share breathing space with, are the whole reason the book exists.

    They didn't make it easy to write.

    The kids each flipped through the book looking for the stories with their names.

    I wrote a circular ending to Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. I didn't want to write a circular ending, but life has a way of turning things inside out.

    I learned through blogging to write endings. I learned through blogging that sometimes, whether we're ready or not, the ending has to come. The same is true when writing books.

    It's true for life, too.

    Sometimes it's time for an ending and we don't want it. I know about that kind of ending. I've sat at too many funerals when the ending arrived and I didn't want it. 

    The same was true for Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It wasn't the ending I wanted, but it was the ending I had to offer when it was time for it to end.

    This moment, the one where my kids from hard places held my book in their hands and read their stories of hope and courage, this moment feels right. 

    "I like the way you wrote the acknowledgements," Andy said. "They gave me a little lump in my throat."

    "It's not easy turning darkness to light," I said. 

    "No," Andy agreed. "Your book, though, I think it has the potential to do just that -- to turn darkness to light."

    I hope it does. I hope this book lands in hands across the globe. I hope it helps you turn darkness to light in your corner of the world. This world needs more light. And teachers are just the ones to shine it.

    Through November 30, if buy the book and forward your receipt to enticingwriters{at}gmail{dot}com, you will receive a free registration to my new course, Enticing Writers Book Club.



    Friday, October 27, 2017

    Book Bonuses {CELEBRATE This Week: 215}

    I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

    Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

    Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
    *******






    Last Tuesday, Stenhouse Publishers hosted me for a FB Live event. Each time I do something online to connect with teachers, I love it more. 

    Seriously, it is SO. MUCH. FUN.

    In case you missed it, I included an archived copy above. 

    I was inspired to create a new course to go along with Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers. It's the ENTICING WRITERS BOOK CLUB. The book club will officially begin in January, and content will release each week for 6 weeks.

    We're going to have all kinds of fun. Each week of Book Club, I will release a video along with discussion topics. One of the things I love about book clubs are the side conversations. That's what this book club is about. Not only will we dig into content, but I'd like to share the behind the scenes details of my writing process, the inside jokes and the way my thinking has evolved since writing Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.

    There's a comment feed within the course, er, Book Club (!), and a private FB Group so we can keep the conversation going.

    HERE'S THE TOTALLY AWESOME DEAL...
    If you buy Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers by November 30 and send the receipt to:

    enticingwriters{at}gmail{dot}com
    (make it look like a conventional email address)

    ...then I will send you a coupon for a FREE registration to the Enticing Writers Book Club!

    And another totally awesome deal...

    If you buy Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers through Stenhouse (click here) and use the code ENTICING, you will receive the eBook for FREE! (This deal ends October 31.)


    If you want a preview copy with shareable images, just fill out the form below. (Don't worry...you won't get double emails from me if you are already on my email list. My Email Service Provider is really awesome.)

    Also, the full book is available for preview on the Stenhouse site.



    My celebration is sending this book into the world. It's going to be a BIG BONUS celebration if everything works like I intend for it to work. Share your celebration links below.




    Friday, October 20, 2017

    Shattered Composure {CELEBRATE This Week: 214}


    I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

    Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

    Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
    *******


    This is the moment when I came completely undone. Stephanie sang a beautiful solo, and then took her place on the top riser. Quiet tears slid down my face because sometimes evidence of healing shatters my composure. The stark difference between now and a year ago was more than I could handle. For all those who are tattered and worn, press on.


    Friday, October 13, 2017

    Quirky {CELEBRATE This Week: 214}

    I'm glad you are here to celebrate! 

    Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. 

    Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.
    *******


    Andy and the oldest three kids went to the Friday night high school football game. Sam and I stayed home because he's not feeling well. It might have more to do with his bearded dragon who died last night rather than actually being sick.

    Sam said, "I could play video games, but I'd rather sit on the couch together while you write and I read. Do you mind, Mom?"

    (I didn't mind.)

    I've been reading Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal: not exactly a memoir since June. I haven't finished it. I don't want it to be over. I keep rereading some parts. I jump to new chapters every now and then. I haven't read it all. I didn't realize I was doing this, and now that I do, it seems too sad to finish the book. 

    (I think Amy might have understood this better than I do.)

    There are some bits called:

    defining word.

    I think I should write one of my own.

    defining word

    quirky

    1. If you feel something, you feel it in
    your heart and in your brain. You feel it
    too big. This makes your eyes fill up and
    your head hurt when your family goes to 
    the football game, but you're still thinking
    about your pet lizard who died the night 
    before. You miss your lizard even if she
    wasn't snuggly.

    2. People often save things just for you 
    that should be recycled because they know
    you will appreciate the unique hinge of the 
    box lid or the extra length of bubble wrap or
    the odd size of a cardboard tube. You make 
    things like giant robots and ATM machines. 
    You add motors to ships and conveyor belts 
    and airplanes. You create animals and race 
    cars; machines and solutions. You might take
     over the dining room and tell everyone who 
    comes in the front door, "Welcome to my 
    inventor's studio. This is where the magic 
    happens." Then you ask them to push a button
     on your Lego creation, which triggers a lever
     to set in motion a pulley that turns on a motor
     and cranks gears to create confetti. 

    3. You can never have too much confetti (unless
     you're a dad...sometimes dads get tired of 
    picking up little bits of confetti).

    4. What if, instead of being enchanted by 
    eccentricities and oddities, you conformed to be 
    like everyone else. Maybe you would, say, only 
    wear clothes that match. I imagine you wouldn't 
    ever wear plaid and stripes together again. Your 
    gym shoes would be white or grey, rather than fire 
    engine red high tops that accentuate your knobby 
    knees. Also, you would wear jeans, even if you think 
    they are uncomfortable. And you would wear them 
    with the button and zipper in front, even though the 
    back pockets are more roomy and handy to have 
    in front.

    5. You sometimes get the sense that the important 
    things to you aren't the things other people think are 
    important. For example, it might be important to finish 
    sorting all of the pieces from the Lego bin so you can 
    make a candy machine for smarties instead of setting 
    the dinner table. Even when dinner is on the plates and 
    the plates on the table and your family is sitting at the 
    table waiting for napkins and silverware and prayer, and 
    you are looking for the remaining perfect piece to 
    complete your candy machine, you still don't understand 
    why they think forks are more important than the yellow 
    Lego piece with the hole in the side.

    6. You might smirk at the sky because a cloud shape 
    reminds you of a silly fish you saw at the pet store last 
    weekend. You chuckle at things the rest of the world is 
    too busy to notice, and you never miss the oppor"pun"ity  
    to be punny.

    7. Theodor Seuss Geisel was proud of his quirk. Let's not 
    forget his words -- "Today you are you, that is truer than 
    true.There is no one alive who is you-er than you."

    8. I like quirky. 

    9. Always.

    *****

    I hope you have as much fun finding the celebrations as I did writing this "defining word." Share your celebrations below!