Happy New Year!

A sigh of relief, I made it through another March challenge. Each year I wonder, will I be able to find something to write about e-v-e-r-y day? How can I find a topic that is new? Is this interesting? Will anyone come to read? How long can I keep doing this?

I looked back over my posts from this month and I discovered a few things. I return to familiar writing territories, such as: food (breakfast, Rueben, Ham Salad, pizza), shopping experiences (books, Sam’s), very trivial things (emails, 1st world problems, my space at conference, scarves). Mostly my format is narrative, but occasionally I create a poem with book titles, inspired by nature, or attempting a rhyme. Most posts contain a picture or two. My camera or phone is a form of a notebook, preserving a moment to put into words.

I’ve been inspired by so many of you and your stories. I never know if I will need a tissue to wipe a tear or pick myself off the floor from laughing. “Writing is data with a soul,” says Brene Brown. How true this is! We have created a lot of data this month.

Thank you for every comment. Your words mean the world to me. Comments are the sweet frosting on top of the cake.

I feel like a year of blogging ends at the end of March. April brings a new year of writing. Every year there are new writers to follow. It’s a new beginning. If I can do thirty-one days, I can do four a month. You can too! So Happy New Year to blogging the slices of our lives. Elsie will continue to write and read. Will you?

 

 

Is It the End or Just a New Beginning? #31

Can you believe this month is over? I can’t.

I love the challenge of finding something hidden in every day I want to reveal to the person who happens to click on my link. Here are some things that I have noticed in my writing:

  • This year I see that I have written more poems as a post or within a post.
  • I had several cooking with recipes included. (If you ever try the crock pot one I’d love to know what you think. It’s okay if you don’t like it, but I think you will.)
  •  I have taken you into schools and shown work by special education students that inspired me. Then that post inspired Bonnie to write. Plus I happen to know that post was passed on to another special education teacher and a kindergarten teacher and they are planning their own writing. I am anxious to see the results. 
  • The weather played a big part in many posts. Mostly whining about winter hanging around too long.
  • I was a copycat. I read other posts and they became my mentor.
  • Emails were sources of posts.
  • Life gives me something to write about.
  • I like to include pictures, but I’ve always done that once I figured out how. :-)

 Comments make me smile. So I smiled a lot this month. Thank you to all who left me something to go back and read. I hope I gave you something to smile about as you read my comments. If you left me a comment, I tried really hard to find you and return the favor. Sometimes it would have to be in the morning because my eyes couldn’t focus on the print as the evening progressed. (Plus I was just plain tired and had to go to bed. I am not a night owl.)

The sheer volume of posts available was overwhelming. I’m sorry I could not read every one. This challenge brings out the most interesting people who tell the most interesting stories of their lives.

  • My heart breaks for the sadness and troubles you have written about.
  • My heart fills with joy for the birth of new babies to the slicers.
  • I have laughed over the funny stories written.
  • I have lingered over stories that touched me.
  • I have made connections to stories you tell and related them to my life.
  • You have made me a better person by the examples you have shared.
  • You have pushed me to be a better writer.

So another challenge has been met. I have loved every day of it. This day will not be the end of my writing. Tuesday will be here and another slice will be linked. So this is the beginning of a new year of sharing a slice of my life, Elsie Tries Writing, and she likes it!

Thank you Stacey and Ruth, you are the rock stars of my writing world!

My Best Part #18

Yesterday I left the post pondering what is my best part? It is so easy to pick out the parts that I’d like to change, but that’s not the task.

I could pick my hair color. I had brownish hair growing up. I didn’t think there was anything special about the color.  It was what it was. I thought I wanted it to be lighter, but this was long before highlighting hair was done. Once I sat out in the sun, at the top of a slide in a park near my home, because someone told me the sun would bleach my hair. It didn’t.

In my twenties a gray hair was discovered mixed into the browns, but I didn’t bother it. I was too poor to go to the beauty shop for color. I looked at hair color products once, but found them confusing, so I walked away. Pulling the hair was not an option, I did not need to inflict pain upon my scalp. So the only option was leave it alone.

More and more gray hairs joined the first and eventually they took over. However, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t see gray, I still saw brown. Finally I had to admit I had gray hair when the hair on the floor of the salon looked as though Jack Frost had moved indoors (although I still see brown under the gray).

I have come to appreciate my color. Once I was shopping in Walmart when a lady (stranger to me) came up to me and asked, “Who does your hair? I love that color and that’s the color I want.”

I looked at her confused. What did she mean I thought. I replied, “I guess you could say God does my hair, because I don’t color it.” She walked off disappointed.

It's hard to take a picture of yourself.

It’s hard to take a picture of yourself.

But although my hair color is a great part, it is not the part I think is the best.

I have always loved the color of my eyes. They are green. Sometimes they are green-ish. But they are never blue or brown. My brothers and sister  have brown eyes. I have green. I am different from them. This is something that makes me unique in the family.

I love the flecks of amber that appear mixed in with the green. Maybe there are times they are hazel colored. But they are never blue or brown.

Green has always been my favorite color. I think it started with my eyes. The best part of me is my green eyes.

You can't really see the color, but they are green. Not blue or brown.

You can’t really see the color, but they are green. Not blue or brown.

Summing Up

The final day of March and I made it! It feels good to be able to say that. Let me savor those words a moment . . . I. MADE. IT!

As the month began I had worries. What would I write about? Could I do it every day? My work calender was facing me and it was far too busy for my liking. How would I find the time to read and comment? I knew how important comments had been to me last year. I wanted to continue to support the writers whose words I had grown to love through the year. I wanted to meet new people through their words of their daily life. This was going to be a jam packed month.

I wrote. I completed 31 days of writing. Mostly my writing was a moment of my day. Such as . . .

  • It may have been a moment as I shopped for food (often unsuccessfully finding the item on the quest) or fixing some part of a meal.
  • Several of the moments came because I was sitting in my car observing the world around me.
  •  Schools I worked in gave me something to write about.
  • I noticed the process of completing tasks and the process reminded me of the process of writing.
  •  Creatures of nature crept into my writing. Some were welcomed, but others were looked upon with abhorrence.
  • A milestone in my blogging career was observed.
  • Poetry crept into my blog. I tried a variety of forms.
  • Photographs aided my words and showed the world I live and walk in each day.
  • Plus I wrote on your blogs. My words are the words I would say to you if we were sitting somewhere sharing a beverage or perhaps a meal.

I read my friends from year round slicing and I discovered more amazing writers. You let me into your lives. You related joyous moments of celebration. You shared incredible stories of bravery and perseverance. You wrote of sadness and heartbreak. My mind was filled with your stories of your life, you affected me with the words you chose to share. I feel honored to count each and everyone of you as a friend. I also read the words you left for me. Those words of encouragement spurred me on to create another post for another day. Thank you!

Through all this reading and writing I had to continue my work. Too many lost hours were spent in the car, not being able to read. I traveled 2,519 miles this month. I have not been home for more than three days consecutively during the last three weeks. Today, I get to put my suitcase up for the next ten days. I will savor my time home. My plan is to sit on the patio and enter the world of Wonder. I need some time to breathe.

The joy this challenge brings to my life can’t be described by me. I have grown as a writer and thinker because of you. I can work with teachers and be authentic when I talk about the challenges of writing every day. I bring your voices to the teachers who don’t understand that to teach writing you have to write.

These are my final words . . . until Tuesday. See you there! :-)

Changes (part two)

Where was I? Oh yes, due to the fact I could not go away to college, I met my husband. That changed the direction of my life.

We were both teachers, and we got jobs in a small rural town where we stayed for twenty years. Then, boom! A big change, my husband got a different job. We had to move, my son was going to be a sophomore in high school. I was not too excited about this move. Over time I discovered this was the best thing for us.

Because of the change to a new school, I was able to become a Reading Recovery teacher. That training changed my teaching in the most positive way. I am thankful I was able to get that training. It made me a better teacher for all my students. I wouldn’t have the “part-time” job of training teachers in balanced literacy practices if we hadn’t moved. So once again a change made me a better person.

After spending a year away attending (or should I say not attending) college and another semester in college closer to home, my son decided he wanted to move to California to work for his uncle instead of continuing his education. That change was a heartbreaker for me. However, he did return to school, he met a wonderful girl, and they are happily married. I can proudly say he completed his education and is a geophysicist. A heartbreaking change turned into a heart-happy life.

The newest change  about to happen is . . .  my brother-in-law is retiring and selling his house in California. He doesn’t know where he will live, but it won’t be California. When we go to visit our son and family, we stay at my brother-in-law’s house. He has a very nice house and there is a room for us. My son does not have a room for us (he barely has enough room for his family).

I thought, it will take a while for the house to sell, the market hasn’t recovered. My California home is safe, for a while. I was wrong. The house was on the market for four days and he has three offers for the house. No, no, say it isn’t sold! It will be, soon. This is not a change I am looking forward to. Now I will have to find other accommodations in California. Why does this have to change? Will this turn into a change for the good? I can’t see it that way right now. Our comfortable arrangement is about to hit a snag. I hate snags! (I told you it wasn’t bad, just inconvenient.)

Changes in My Life

A friend once told me the only one who likes change is a wet baby. I often think about that as changes occur in my life. A change is brewing and it makes me sad. A chapter of my life is closing and I will have to figure out something else. (It is not bad, just inconvenient.)

Thinking about the change that will be happening (yes, I will explain, but not yet) made me think about  some of the changes in my life that have shaped me into the person that I am now.

As a child, my life was pretty static. Nothing changed, except we kept adding babies. (I am the oldest of five.) We always went to visit grandmas and grandpas in Wisconsin in the summer. (I didn’t know people took vacations to places where there were no relatives.) We went to the same church, the same school, nothing changed in the neighborhood, same friends. No one moved away and no one moved in. Then one day my dad decided a church sponsored school teacher’s salary just wasn’t going to make it for a family of seven. He changed jobs. We moved.

Life changed dramatically for me the year I began 7th grade. I went from small church school in Chicago to big public school in Houston, Texas. Here is where I learned to sit back and watch because I was no longer part of a group. I had to learn how to make friends. This was the first of three moves. Seventh, eighth, and ninth grades were all in different cities. Make friends, then move, make friends, then move. Needless to say those did not develop into life-long friends.

Just when I started to settle back into thinking life is on track, it’s going along smoothly my grandparents died within a year of each other. They left a hole in my life that I thought would never heal. But time has a way of washing away that pain. I learned that people in your life may not always be with you.

“There is a perfectly good college in this town. There is no need to go anywhere else,” dictated my father. So the change I wanted (freedom) was not to be. I lived at home while I attended college. Little did I know, my future was going to be affected by that decision (that was my Valentine’s Day story).

Tune in tomorrow for more changes, I think I have rambled on quite long enough and you have other slices to read.

100 Today

“You write just because?” I ask with an incredulous tone.

“Yes, I carry a little notebook and when I think of something I jot it down, then later I might write something,” said Kim, my co-worker during a staff meeting.

“Let me get this straight,” I continue to press her for information. “You CHOOSE to write? There’s no real purpose behind your writing?” I totally don’t get it. Why would she do this? I roll this information around in my head. It does not compute.

I have no memory of writing instruction in my school career. Writing was done to complete an assignment, usually a report. Stories of my life? No way! There was no joy in writing. If I visualize  writing from school, I see lots of red ink with phrases that have no meaning to me: run-on, fragment, verb tense. What am I supposed to do with this? That was me then.

This is me today. It is my 100th post. I can’t believe it. I am surprised. I am proud.

Last year when Ruth began her posts of “try it, you’ll like it,” I stopped and pondered the invitation. Could I create a blog? If I did, would I have anything to write about? What would be the purpose of my blog? I looked around. I saw blogs that offer ideas for teaching. I saw blogs that reviewed books. I saw blogs that I couldn’t figure out their purpose. I needed to develop a purpose.

I decided I needed to experience a writerly life if I was working with teachers to develop writer’s workshop in their classrooms. I needed to know the difficulty of putting words on the paper. (or should I say computer?) I had been a lurker in the shadows for a couple of years devouring every word of advice to writers that Stacey and Ruth wrote.

January 2011 found me in a hotel room, 270 miles from home and school was cancelled due to snow. Today I thought, I’ve got nothing but time to figure this blog thing out. As fortune would have it, it was a Tuesday. That is when Elsie Tries Writing was born.

I jumped into the pool and have made merry for the past fifteen months. When will I stop? I can’t answer that because I am having the best time creating with words. The comments encourage and support me in a way I never could have imagined. I love reading and commenting on this writing community’s blogs. You are all a very special group of people to me. Thank you for reading my words, notice craft I used, laughing with me, and talking to me through your comments.

Elsie is still trying to write, but now she enjoys it. She even writes just because. . .

March 1 – Here We Go!

The challenge begins today . . . will I rise up to the challenge and be able to post a snippet of my life or thoughts every day? Will it be something worth reading? I have been pondering this question for the last month. I know I did it last year, but I was on a trip for the last half of the month. It was easy to find something interesting to post about last year. There is no trip this month.

This month seems to loom long as I study my calendar. Each of the orange dots are days I am working in schools, mostly out of town. This is too much, why did I do this to myself? How will I have time to read all the slices and leave comments? When will I have time to plan for the professional development? I am starting to get a sick feeling in my stomach as I look at the challenge of work ahead of me. There is one week that is open for planning, so I see long nights at my desk that week. When all is planned, I will rest easy. Then the challenge will be for me to find something to write each day.

A few days ago I mentioned to my husband that the challenge was about to start. There was a look of panic on his face. He knows all of his actions will be scrutinized as fodder for my writing. What will he do that will spark an idea? Hmmmmm?

Thanks to Ruth’s post (here) I have printed out her suggestions, they will be inspiration when the thinking well runs dry. I think I can, I think I can, no . . .  I know I can, I know I can! Happy slicing this month, I’ll be here and I’ll be looking for you. Let the challenge begin!

Which Day?

Do you know my favorite day of the week?

It could be Friday. I especially love Friday evenings. The feeling that time stands still. The work week is over and the weekend stretches ahead of me. Ahhhhh . . . but no, it’s not Friday.

It could be Saturday. No alarm clocks going off, I can roll over and sleep a bit longer. The day is mine to mold and shape. I might not even have to cook dinner, but nope it’s not Saturday either.

You, yes, you who are reading this should be able to guess my favorite day. You are a part of this day. You make this day because you read my words. You make comments that make me smile and allow me to be a writer for a day. Clicking on Check Mail, every chance I get. Is there a new message that says “comment-reply@word. . .”? Oh goody, there are two! Check again, there’s another, and the cycle continues all day long. Days later another comment may appear and my heart races again to find out what someone thinks. When I am in schools working, I can only check during lunch and it is the first thing I do as I walk to the car leaving school.

I get to peek inside your life and mind by reading your words. I love learning about what is happening in your part of the world and I do mean around the world. That is amazing to think we can be connected across oceans, mountains, and the great plains. I miss your voice when it is silent. I know that you might need a break, but just know that there is someone out here in the cyber-world wondering what you are up to and why didn’t you share today?

So by now you know that my favorite day is  . . . drum roll . . . TUESDAYS! I never dreamed that this would become a constant in my life. Even when I don’t have anything to say, I say something and you talk to me. Thank you for all your comments and letting me view your life at least once a week.

See you next week?