All posts by paulabourque

About paulabourque

Paula is a Literacy Coach K-6 in Maine and author of Close Writing and SPARK! from Stenhouse. She believes the best writing teachers are teachers who write. She knows it takes courage to put yourself out there and share your words with the world. She created this blog as a place where we honor those who teach and write and show how big their brave is!

April Cruels!

It’s National Poetry Month. Something to celebrate in a bleak spring. I think my poem-ish piece reflects the hopes and realities of our world community right now.

April Cruels

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I think we all woke

with the wish,

with the hope

that a joke

was being played 

on us all.

But our dreams gave way

to the news

of the day,

the new normal

still casting

its pall.

#SOL20 Day 31 “Take-Aways”

SOL20This March I have been participating in the Old Friend from Far Awaymonth-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I  posted a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I used Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post was a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises.

WE DID IT! A MONTH OF WRITING AND SHARING, OF SUPPORTING AND CONNECTING. HERE IS MY LAST SLICE OF LIFE FOR 2020–MY TIME FOR REFLECTING!

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What has your slicing taught you about your writing process this month? What are the take-aways you will draw from this challenge and this community  going forward?

Thank you to everyone who participated this month. You’ve all made me a better writer! (and I believe a better person)

#SOL20 Day 30 “What?”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

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I think we learn all kinds of lessons from our parents. Often they aren’t the ones that they preach, but the ones that they embody and live. I try to think about what lessons my own children will learn from me, and ultimately that will be in their hands, not my own. What lessons did you learn from your father (or mother) that have lifted or inspired you in life?  Does he/she know that?

#SOL20 Day 29 “Series”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

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Once I started I thought about dozens of alternative ‘entry points’ into this exercise as well as how deep or varied each card could be. Knowing in a postcard it is “just the basics” I tried to capture that format, without small moment details and description. We were in Paris when Notre Dame burned and it was one of the most surreal moments of my life (until this coronavirus pandemic). If I were to revise this I would have focused more on those days in Paris and not enter with our first day of the trip. And that is why revision is such a lovely thing!

Who would you write to? Where would you be? what would you like to say?

#SOL20 Day 28 “Radio”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

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I’m not sure RADIO has as prominent a role in people’s lives these days. With streaming services, podcasts, and on-demand audio many of us may only encounter radio in our cars as we commute. I’d love to hear about your memories of radio.

#SOL20 Day 27 “Hot”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

HOT

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When I was a young teen, one of the few jobs we could legally be hired for was on a farm. So for several weeks each summer, my siblings and I would work on a detasseling crew.  Our job was to walk rows of  corn and pull off the tassels in all but the pollinating row so they could create hybrid seed corn. If you’ve never heard of this, you probably aren’t from the Midwest. Anyone who has done it can attest to the excruciating work conditions. I couldn’t wait to turn 16 so I could get hired for an air-conditioned job! The irony wasn’t lost on me that child labor laws meant to protect us, only allowed us to work some of the hardest (and hottest) jobs on the planet!

#SOL20 Day 26 “Doing Something”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the month-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I am posting a ‘slice’ from my life. I have been using prompts from  Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to explore memories. But today I had to write about a small moment that brought me joy. I haven’t seen students in over 8 days and I’m worrying that it will be months before we get back to teaching. So I volunteered to help distribute lunches to children and families in our town and was able to see dozens of kids as they pulled up to get food. They looked so happy to see teachers and a few even wrote cards for us to give to their teachers. My heart melted. I won’t share a photo of any families out of respect for their privacy, but this is my colleague Cheryl (on right) and a city councilman (on left) and my principal Teresa took the photo. Today I finally felt like I was “doing something”. WIN!Lunch Pick Ups

When the cars pulled up

and the windows rolled down

grins burst forth

from all of our faces.

“Hi!! I miss you!”

a simultaneous… ‘jinx’

from both sides of the window.

A desire to rush up

and wrap our arms around them

was shelved for now.

With 6 foot social distancing,

we showered them with smiles.

as they scooped up the food

and talked about life.

“How is your sister?”

“Have you read some good books?”

“Did you play in the snow?”

Before driving off

we tucked in much love

with waving hands.

“See you soon!”

“Be well!”

“Bye!”

for now…

#SOL20 Day 25 “Flat Cake”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

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We all have so many connections to food. Think of any food you ate in your past and I bet it will be connected to a person or an event that is meaningful to you. Pancakes are a ubiquitous food that has the potential to trigger memory.

What other foods do this for you?

#SOL20 Day 24 “Everything”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

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How do we know things by heart? They are the things instilled in us through repetition or ritual typically. They are often things we love, or define who we are. Musicians know pieces by heart, poets know poems by heart, dancers know choreography by heart, cooks know recipes by heart. Why my mind went to something I no longer recite, but prayed as a child and young adult was an interesting experience. What do you know by heart? What came to mind first? Why do you think that is?

#SOL20 Day 23 “One”

SOL20This March I will be participating in the montOld Friend from Far Awayh-long Slice of Life Challenge. Each day I will be posting a ‘slice’ from my life. This year I am using Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir to provide my sparks for memoir writing. Each post will be a quick write using one of Natalie’s exercises to practice the skill of noticing and remembering.

If you could only have one memory, what would that be? Don’t contemplate, muse, get dreamy, romantic. Dive in, let your hand flying across the page discover that single moment. Go, ten minutes. (p.219)

img_8332img_8333How do you choose just ONE memory? You don’t overthink it. Skim off whatever rises to the top first and go with it. It’s probably one of your most precious. This moment was the most intensely joyful experiences of my life. The birth of my son rivals it, but if you’ve read my other posts you’ll know that three miscarriages preceded this pregnancy. The anxiety, pain, hope, and anticipation were packed in tight like grenade. Her first cry set off the explosion of emotion like no other time in my life. I became a mother! It’s a memory that I would welcome living over and over and over.