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Friday, May 19, 2017

Summer Plans: CELEBRATE This Week {193}

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.
*******


Summer is coming and I'm reminded of a long-forgotten favorite quote.

If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.
[Lin Yutang]

This is going to be my short-term goal. 
Useless afternoons.
Useless manners.

Because, in the end, spending useless afternoons in perfectly useless manners, is what matters most.

Let me know some of your favorite ways to spend a useless afternoon.

*****



Friday, May 12, 2017

Six Weeks {CELEBRATE This Week: 192}

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 six weeks until a milestone birthday. I'm not one who marks time according to numbers, but when I consider that it is likely I'm nearing (or past) the midway point of life on this earth, it gives me a little pause.

I've been thinking about what I ought to accomplish in the next six weeks to be ready to face the big four-oh. For me it has centered around physical health. I've been rolling around all of the things I should be doing.

My thoughts were stirring things like running again and drinking more water and lifting weights. I walked out of the same building where I started teaching 17 years ago. The sun winked at me and fresh air tickled my nose. I was reminded to live in the moment.

I shook the should-be's until all that was left was be

It's not easy for a thinker to be. I'm training myself to stop reflecting and wondering and questioning and planning and whirling.

I'm learning to be.
They've not been easy lessons. 
I'm not a fast learner.

Maybe instead of training for a 5K, I'll bring home learning how to be.

The six week plan --
  1. Say YES more.
  2. Sit outside.
  3. Take time to walk slow.
  4. Send handwritten notes.
  5. Cook (or bake) because it's fun.
  6. Plant flowers.
I think this will be the best way to enter the next decade with grace and grit.







Saturday, May 6, 2017

Press On {CELEBRATE This Week: 191}

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.

*******



It's been a week of pressing on and so I pause to press some letters to build some words to stack some sentences in order to claim celebration. In a way, it feels like an act of rebellion. 

A long time ago (it almost feels like another life time), I was a 7th grade language arts teacher and had the opportunity to go to a conference at the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. It was the first conference I attended as an educator. It remains the one which has impacted me the most.

It was a four day conference. In the morning there were traditional conference sessions about teaching students about the Holocaust. Each afternoon was devoted to speakers who experienced different aspects of the Holocaust. There was a concentration camp survivor, a member of the Hitler Youth, a rabbi, the daughter of someone who died in the Warsaw ghetto, an American soldier...the experience of hearing stories was moving, but their words have faded over the years.

One speaker, though, wove her words into my soul and changed me in fundamental ways. She was young on the night of Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass. This was a turning point event in 1938 when store windows and synagogues were destroyed. The speaker remembered the sounds of shattering store windows and shrieking families. She was supposed to smash the glass alongside her friends, but she couldn't. She stood and listened. She didn't destroy.

In that moment she became a resistor.

I began learning as much as I could about resistors during the Holocaust. They were remarkable and risky. As a teacher, I often angled our focus of the Holocaust toward resistors. As a human, I never felt like much of a resistor. 

One of my favorite resistor groups of the Holocaust was the White Rose. They used their words to speak out against the Nazi Regime. They were a non-violent underground group of German college students who gave hope with their words in leaflets and graffiti. I like to think I would have found kindred spirits in the White Rose.

It is a lie to believe we must claw, fight and destroy to get our ways in the world today. Sometimes it seems acceptable to be mean back. The world says to speak your mind and be bold. Kindness is sometimes hard to find when people stand up for causes. 

Right now, in my tiny corner of the world, the community is rallying around teachers. As a member of the school board, I have been receiving emails, letters, and phone calls from people who want me to hear their stories. Week by week, the newspaper unfolds more of the story.

I've been struck by the way Story fights harder than ugly words. 

The beauty of a school board is the way it is a group of individuals who function collectively. I have deep respect for those who serve on the Board. Board members lives have been usurped in the past few weeks and it has been difficult to give business and families and other duties attention. It has been exhausting.

The stories continue to flood our inboxes, mailboxes and voicemails. 

I'm realizing the best response is listening. It's not flashy. It doesn't yield immediate results. And it's hard. You want to say more, offer encouragement or hope or promises that things will be better. Sometimes you want to defend yourself or those you serve alongside. You want to tell the rest of the story. You want everyone to stand together and sing "We are the Champions" as one big community singalong. (Cue the rainbows and butterflies.)

Instead I listen and allow stories to wrap around my heart. No matter what, there are going to be people in our community who feel their voices don't matter. There are always two sides to every issue. 

It is my hope (no matter how Pollyanna it might be) that rather than splitting sides, we keep listening to finally find a single story that will unite rather than divide.

Share your celebrations...

Friday, April 28, 2017

This is how it starts {CELEBRATE This Week: 190}

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 what it looks like when I start a new writing project. It starts to prick at my brain. I find myself thinking through chapters and testing lines aloud while I drive.

This week these things arrived: A nonfiction book about cacti; a new water glass for early morning (and late night) writing sessions; and the pull of the notebook.

It's the insistence of the words...the demand of the story...the swirl of snippets that are becoming harder to resist. I thought it would be many months, maybe years, decades really, before I would be ready to tug at this storyline.

It's time.

My new book, Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers is going to make it's debut this year...and I'm going to be writing the next one.

It doesn't seem possible, except it's impossible not to write. (This seems like a pretty good celebration.)





Do you have my latest eBook? It's an excerpt from Enticing Hard-To-Reach Writers. (It's the first reveal of 35 moves to make in order to entice kids to write.)


Monday, April 24, 2017

grace for myself {CELEBRATE This Week: 189}


Typically we celebrate Friday around 10 pm through the weekend. I always leave the link-up open for a few days more, though. I think celebration is an act of resilience rather than a scheduled event. So, today, even though the weekend has come and gone, I'm giving myself grace and offering a public celebration. Thanks, Ramona, for your sweet nudges of love to keep pressing on even when I think it's too late.

*******


I try to write celebration posts early on Friday mornings. I like the organic nature of celebrating in real-time alongside of this community rather than scheduling it several days in advance. This is a noble idea in theory, but sometimes difficult in reality. 

Last Friday, after the kids were in bed and before Andy and I were ready to watch a crime show, I knew I needed to open my computer and set the celebration link-up in motion. I also knew if I did then I would be too tired to watch a show with Andy. I decided time with Andy trumped the celebration link-up.

I woke up on Saturday with excitement for being home. It's been the first Saturday for more than 7 months when we didn't have to go anywhere. I planned to do things like laundry and going through the basket in the kitchen with important papers and washing the baseboards. First, though, I was going to celebrate.

Then I saw the bananas. They had one of two destinies: compost or banana bread. I decided to make banana bread. I also decided not to rush. The banana bread baked and filled the house with the aroma of time. Not-so-little kids found their ways to the kitchen. I made hot chocolate, hot tea, orange juice, and chocolate milk. They sat in the kitchen. I sliced the banana bread.

I poured dark coffee for Andy and sat at the kitchen table with him. The back door stood open and birds sang melodies of time. I didn't rush.

I have to be proactive about not rushing. There is so much I like to do in a day. If I'm not careful, the day is over and I'm tired. We're not designed to be tired.

At some point, I decided it was best not to open my computer. My feelings argue, trying to determine if I should feel ashamed of this truth. I type and delete, type and delete the apology that I feel should follow this admission of deciding not to post the celebration link-up. Yet, by contrast, I'm delighted by the bold move to not open my computer.

Ideally, I would decide to go dark ahead of time. I would have scheduled the link-up in advance. It would have all went without a hitch and no one would know I retreated. I would have been a "good" blogger.

It was pointed out to me years ago that I don't meet the standard of "good" blogger because I'm not always reliable. I've berated myself enough for this over the years; I do not need to do it now. In fact, it's why the celebration community is an open invite with deadlines fashioned in ish terms. It opens on Fridays around 10-ish. It closes at the start-ish of the week. I do deadlines like this because this blog was designed with open arms for all writers in all walks of life. This blog was created so I had space to be myself as a writer. The truth is, sometimes I decide not to write at a scheduled time.

Life is hard enough, we don't need to be belittled for missing a deadline. 

I wrote my very first blog post on March 23, 2006. Since then I have blogged collaboratively and independently on nearly 10 different blogs. I'm not always predictable in my posting, but I continue to be a blogger.

Perhaps it's having more than a decade of blogging under my belt... 
Perhaps it's that I'll be turning 40 in a few months... 
Perhaps it's that I've finally accepted that life is what it is...

But I have finally come to terms that I can be a good blogger and miss a post. 

This is possible because I have a tribe full of grace. You, my dear friends, are my celebration. I write because you read. I write because you care about my story and not about pre-scheduled blog posts. I write because you are there on the other side of the screen. 

Thank you for letting me be more than a good blogger. 

Thank you for the gift of letting me be me.

I can't think of a better reason to celebrate post-deadline than this. One day, when the humans who call me Mom outgrow their teenage years, I will hope to be a "good" blogger. Until then, I'm going to celebrate the impossible -- I have a tribe despite the unfavorable conditions of the way I blog.

[If you have a link you want to share, please add it to the comments. Thanks for celebrating.]


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter. {CELEBRATE This Week: 188}

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 celebrating courage.


 I'm celebrating dreams.


I'm celebrating faith.



I'm celebrating love.

Courage
Dreams
Faith
Love

I'm celebrating Easter.

Here's to celebrating this week!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Ed Collab {CELEBRATE This Week: 187}

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.

*******

Today I get to talk about ENTICING HARD-TO-REACH WRITERS as part of the The Ed Collaborative Spring Gathering. All day long, The Ed Collaborative is offering cutting edge sessions free for educators. Check out the agenda here. I am so excited to be a part of the generosity and learning of The Ed Collaborative. 

Thank you, Chris Lehman and The Ed Collab team. You are what is good and right about our profession.

Also, make sure to scroll to the bottom of the agenda page. You will find the adopted charities for the day. As a way to say thank you to The Ed Collab, feel free to donate to one of the day's charities.

I'm looking forward to sharing the way my storylines as a momma, teacher and writer intersect to help kids -- all kids -- write their stories and use their voices to make the world a better place. The information I'm sharing is straight from my heart and straight from the pages of my new book, which is in production now. 

If you want to join me at 1:00 (EST), I'll be sharing how to get past the behaviors of kids who don't want to write and instead meet them in their hearts and help them to know their voices matter.

Share your celebrations below.


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Friday, March 31, 2017

Spring Break Word Count [CELEBRATE This Week: 186]

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 year I've had the special treat to meet with two fifth grade girls who love writing. We meet weekly(ish), talk about working the words, write, and share. They each are working on fiction stories.

They remind me of how simple it is to invest in the lives of others.

I issued a spring break word count challenge. If they can write more words than I do over spring break, then I'll buy them lunch. They bargained to add their words together to beat me. We made plans for writing time and determined the parameters for what words count (notebook writing, story writing, random scenes, articles, and long letters to mail) and what words don't count (text messages, grocery lists, or typing from notebook to Google Docs).

I plan to write 1000 words each day. There will be notebook work, articles, blog posts, and short stories for a new book idea I'm toying with. I also must write acknowledgements and work out the closing thoughts for The Next Book (which is in production). 

Oh! It has a title that is closer to being official -- Enticing Hard-to-Reach Writers.

I'll be writing in the early morning hours, sneaking in mid-afternoon articles, and writing before bed. I think this is a good way to spend Spring Break 2017.

Happy writing!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Cactus Living {CELEBRATE This Week: 185}

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 year, when things turned grey,  my friend, Becca, gave me a miniature gerber daisy in a tiny pink pot. I love daisies. They are my favorite. This one gave me much hope. It kept blooming -- over and over. It promised hope. 

I kept it alive through the summer. Then something, probably a chipmunk, snagged it off my front porch. 

A few weeks ago, Sam and I came across miniature cacti in a store. They were lined up in tiny pots. No two were the same. "We should get one for the window sill and for Becca," he said.

"I was thinking the same thing," I said.

Sam picked out one with a bright pink bloom. "This one is perfect for Becca," he said. I agreed.

We picked a plain one for our kitchen window. I wondered if it would be hardy enough for my house.

I dropped it while carrying it inside. It survives.
I don't know how much to water it. It survives.
Jordan knocked it over with a renegade fork while doing dishes. It survives.

realized I might be in a season of cacti living. Hard and hardy. Survival and vitality. Prickly and steadfast.

Then I noticed brown spots, and I wondered if maybe it wasn't surviving. I kept an eye on it and the spots became lumps. I wondered if it contracted a disease. The bumps grew, and I thought maybe it was a fungus. 

I figured the cactus would bite the dust at any moment.

Then the lumps grew a little more. I realized they are buds. I think my cactus might be growing blooms.

Isn't this just how life goes? Just when we think we've come to the end, there's a bud and hope that things will soon bloom. And when that happens, I hope it is better than I could even imagine.


Friday, March 17, 2017

New Writing Buddy {CELEBRATE This Week: 184}

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 waver between a love and hate relationship with stacking Friday night words. All day I was looking forward to writing tonight, but when the time finally came it was a struggle.

The boys are putting finishing touches on Sam's Pinewood Derby car. The race is tomorrow. Sam is making adjustments, Andy is his assistant and Jordan is the DJ, selecting heavy metal tunes off Andy's playlist.

I might be procrastinating. Finally I pull out my computer and settle on the couch. Sam brings me a Lego creation he built last night. "Here's a new writing partner to keep you company," he said, walking the husky pup across my keyboard and setting her beside me.

"Kids at school are giving me free build Lego challenges." A husky was last night's challenge.  Then Sam said, "I know finishing things can be hard, so this guy will keep you company as you finish your book."

It must be a little magic, because suddenly I have a few paragraphs. Writing always gives more than it takes. We just have to make space.

I hope you make space to celebrate this weekend. Share your link below.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Inventor's Brain {CELEBRATE This Week: 183}

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.

*****


Sam hijacked my Instagram feed this week with this photo. Andy and I were cooking dinner in the kitchen and he said, "I'm inspired by all of the wind. All I need is two old belts and five paperclips, and I'll be able to put the idea in my head into the world. "

He took his supplies and went to the basement. (It's his workshop. Every inventor needs a workshop, according to Sam.) It's not very easy to get winged arms up the narrow basement stairs. We heard him before we saw him. 

The first run didn't go so well. "It's a good thing I have my helmet on!" Sam laughed as he hurried back to his workshop.

Sam deemed the second run as successful as possible given that he'd ran out of duck tape. Sometime after dinner he hijacked my Instagram account. The caption read:
This is how I spend my Wednesday evenings: inventing.
Correction: every evening I spend inventing.
I'm trying to "fly." This last run gave me 2 seconds of air time!
If only I had duck tape, I could flyyyyy!
#hijackedbysam
Sam is in 5th grade. He tells us often, "I don't have a school brain. I have an inventor's brain." Sam scores high on standardized tests, he loves to read, he thinks about numbers in unconventional ways. He is a spacey, brainy, witty kid.

School isn't on his favorite list.

Right now he's working on a train layout. He called Papa yesterday and asked for a piece of foam installation board to build a "vertical layout for his trains." He wrote a sticky note reminder and put it on my steering wheel so I wouldn't forget to stop at Papa's house for the styrofoam.

He met me at the door last night. "Did you remember the foam installation board?"

"It's in my car."

Sam and the styrofoam were heading down the basement stairs into the workshop before I put my shoes and school bag away.

Sam comes up the workshop stairs and says, "You might not think a vertical train layout will work, but I think if I figure out the right angle it will."

I nod and keep writing this post.

"I like inventing, Mom. I get to use math in creative ways. I like to make up stories or think of advertising jingles for my inventions. It's not really playing, it's just fun."

I look at him. His eyes are wide. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to stop inventing so I can get better grades at school."

Sam is sensitive and his eyes get watery. "I don't want to give up my inventor's brain, but I don't know any other way to get better grades at school."

I want to tell him not to worry about grades, but he is concerned about his grades. (His concern is valid.) "Maybe you can work on focusing in school. When you're at school you do school work. When you are at home you invent."

Sam is sincere when he says, "An inventor's brain doesn't work that way, Mom. When I'm at school and we're talking about finding area of triangles, my brain begins to think about my train layout, I think about how I need more tracks, and I could figure out how many new tracks by using parameter instead of area. Then I start wondering how knowing area would help me. That makes me start thinking about painting my layout and then I think about the pond I want to add. I probably need area for that because you need to get the special gel to make it look like water. Only I don't need to know area of a triangle, I need to know the area of an oval. My brain starts thinking about filling the pond with triangles, but that won't really work either. I probably need a different formula."

I nod, unsure of what to say.

Sam continues, "See what I mean? I have to just turn off my inventor's brain." He blinks back tears. "Then all the fun will be gone, but my homework will be done."

I take a deep breath and say, "You know, Sam, it's Saturday. I don't think we need to figure this out right now. Saturdays are a good time to just be who you like to be. Don't worry about being something else."

He worked a little more on his vertical train layout. Then he moved on to a Lego creation. Now he's talking with Andy about fishing. I hear him say, "When I get home from bowling, I'm going to ride my bike over to the river and put in a line."

And I'm left wondering how will his inventor's brain survive school? 

Share your celebrations...