Tag Archives: The Slice of Life Challenge

The Slice of Life is Coming!

For the past 3 years, during the month of March I participated in the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by the Two Writing Teachers blog. Every day I write and post to my Screen Shot 2019-02-17 at 7.50.17 AMLitCoachLady page a ‘slice’ of my life…a poem, a memory, a small moment. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding. Having some experience with it for a few years now has helped me realize that preparing some things ahead of time can make the challenge less challenging. I noticed yesterday my friend and fellow slicer, Leigh Anne Eck, was also preparing ahead of time. This early prep can give you a structure to build on each day, some ideas in the can for those hectic days, and as a way to commit (and avoid writer’s block).

This year I’ve decided I will be writing each day to a spark from my new book Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms. I’m going to walk the talk of a writing teacher, “Do as I do, not as I say.”  I’ve bookmarked 30 sparks, but I’m giving myself the option of choosing others, or to respond authentically to events that pop up in my life that inspire me to write.  This always helps me to walk through my day more present-knowing anything and everything has importance enough to write about.

So how can YOU prepare for the SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE and make the month of March a little less challenging? Here are some tips, I’d love to hear any others.

Preparing for the SLICE OF LIFE CHALLENGE

  • Visit the Slice of Life Challenge overview page and the participant information form.
  • Create a blog page if you don’t already have one. I use WordPress (you can get started HERE) but there are others Wix, Weebly,etc.  This is a good resource  on HOW TO START A BLOG.
  • Read slices from other slicers (think ‘mentor texts’). You can see some of mine HERE.
  • Try writing a few slices between now and March 1st. Save these as drafts on your blog site. Use these on those hectic days that will inevitably challenge you.
  • Don’t worry about being lengthy and lush…remember other slicers are trying to read at least 3 posts each day and we often appreciate brevity!
  • I’m not great at self promotion, but I’m proud of the quick write ideas I’ve put together in my new book and these might provide some SPARKS for you as well!
  • Go to Twitter and search #SOL19. There you’ll find other slicers you can follow and get support from. It’s truly a community event, so welcome to the community!

screen shot 2019-01-27 at 9.45.11 amShared Spark! This week I’ll share a few teacher quick write SPARKS to perhaps get you started on some slices. Just write for 5-10 minutes on whatever comes to mind. Try not to filter your thoughts or overthink it. Just let your ideas flow onto the paper without judgment. It can be fun to see what emerges!

  • When I look into the faces of my students…
  • The thing that surprised me most about teaching is…
  • Reframe a situation in your day or week that revises the narrative more positively, yet honestly.
  • What do you think school looks like through the eyes of one of your students?

Whatever approach you take, I just hope you take the Challenge! It will change your perception of writing profoundly and permanently…I guarantee it!

One More Off My TBR Stack!

TThe bridge homehe Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

I was totally spellbound by this compassionate and poignant novel. Living in poverty in India is hard, but imagine being Viji whose father abuses her mother and whose older sister Rukku has developmental disabilities. After her father turns his abuse to the girls, Viji knows she must flee to the city to find a better life for herself and Rukku. With almost no money and no plan, they encounter danger and hardship until they find shelter under an abandoned bridge. There they meet Muthi and Arul, two boys with equally tragic histories. Together they create their own family who work together to survive-pooling their meager resources and scavenging in trash heaps while Rukku makes bead necklaces to sell. When their safe haven is raided, they take shelter in a graveyard where they might be left alone. But with little shelter during the rainy season, Rukku and Muthu contract dengue fever from the mosquitoes. Viji and Arul need to find help, but they haven’t found many people they can trust or who would care about two of millions of homeless children. Padma Venkatraman beautifully shares the harsh reality and the courageous hopes of real homeless children in this fictional story. Open this book, it will open your eyes and your hearts

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shared slices

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For thirty one days
we have shared our slices
of success, of loss
of sacrifices.
We read and respond
to the words of peers;
shared a laugh
and shed some tears.
The month is done
but words not yet,
stay close to those
you can’t forget.

I am so grateful for the connections I have made with other slicers this month. I have followed several on their blogs and Twitter, and hope that one day we may meet in person. From past years I was blessed to meet Fran, Aileen, Kathleen, Michelle, Leigh Anne, Stacey, and so many others that I’ve been lucky enough ‘tweet up’ with.
Follow other slicers. Keep those connections. Keep living the writerly life of a slicer.

Thank you to everyone who responded to my posts and connected with me during this month. Thank you to everyone  who inspired me with their writing.
I am thankful for and humbled by this community.

tilbury town

IMG_2991.jpgI found
my place
in Tilbury Town
where
Robinson grew and
gained renown
and penned
his poems
of life and pain
of small town
folks
in
rural Maine.

 

I love my little town. Gardiner, Maine was the boyhood home of poet Edward Arlington Robinson who used it as the inspiration for many poems set in his fictional American “Tilbury Town“. This little community on the Kennebec River has been my home the last 25 years. I grew up in the Midwest, which I still hold near and dear…but the hardworking and caring people that make up this community have created the ideal place to raise my family and build a fulfilling life that brings me so much joy.

#micropoetry #SOL18

om

The
universeIMG_2971.jpg
in a
sound
from the
beginning
of time
at one
with others
whose
voice
joins
with
mine.

 

#micropoetry #SOL18

If you have ever taken a yoga class you may have joined in the chanting of “Om” at the opening and closing of your practice.  There is something truly mesmerizing the way you lose the sound of your own voice as it joins the vibration of the chant and you feel totally connected to the others in the room and beyond. There are brain researchers who are studying this phenomenon and finding support for the positive effects many people experience from chanting “ah-oo-mm”-similar to nerve stimulation treatments used to treat depression and epilepsy.  As I try to connect my mind, body, and spirit each week, it is the simplest of sounds that helps me in such a profound way.

mrs. beasley

IMG_2962.jpgDid you ever
have

a toy
that personified
a phase
of your childhood
you had
forgotten
until you walked
into a room
and saw
that someone else
preserved
that fading memory
and tattered toy
in a way
you wished
you had?

 

Last week I walked into a co-worker (and friend’s) classroom and saw Mrs. Beasley staring at me from the corner as if to say, “It sure has been awhile. What’ve you been up to?”  Her apron and granny glasses were missing and her stuffing was sticking out in places. She’d aged about as well as I had. But she still had that loving smile that soothed me as I fell asleep at night and greeted me as I woke each morning. Her big blue eyes looked right into heart and pulled me back into my own elementary school for a trip down memory lane. 

clarity

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How
do we

boil down
our arguments
and get to the heart
of our positions on complex
topics? See it through
the eyes of a child
and you will
find clarity
and truth
so
simply.

 

As I listened to speakers and read all the signs at the MARCH FOR OUR LIVES on Saturday
I looked down at the snow and noticed this small child breaking sticks into pieces and carefully laying them on the ground. Within moments I predicted the simple, yet compelling message this child was seeking to convey. And then I looked to the right of the child and read a message scrawled on a cardboard box by a sibling…I WIS GUNS WRN REAL.

It doesn’t get much clearer than the wishes of these children.

 

#MicroPoetry  #SOL18

heroes

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There would be no heroes
if there was no sorrow.
Think about this
if your heart breaks tomorrow.

I was in awe yesterday of the courageous students who stepped forward and spoke up in the wake of unspeakable tragedy. I know they would exchange this hero status for their normal teenage lives in a heartbeat if it meant their friends had not been gunned down and their generation had not been held hostage to the gun violence that has reached epidemic proportions.  Look for the light to emerge from the darkness and there you will find your heroes-these kids have brought a new light to these dark times.

success

 

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.

 

SUCCESS
is achieved
IF
you are lucky enough
to love what you do
AND
the people
you do it with.

 

 

 

I don’t often go out with colleagues. Usually by the end of the week I’m exhausted and ready to be home. This week one of my teacher friends wanted to go out and celebrate some good news I received about some recent health concern. Another colleague joined us at a local pub and we had such a wonderful time talking about school and home.  I have always been grateful for my job. Last night I was reminded how grateful I am for the relationships my job has brought into my life.

Slice of Life Challenge 2018   #MicroPoetry

blossom

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I walked into my room
dropping bags to the floor
and shedding the vesture
of an assiduous day
when the yellow petals
grasped my gaze
and your loving gesture
grabbed my heart.

 

I have the most wonderful husband in the world, but he has never been accused of being a romantic. He has always been more practical than poetic, more playful than pensive. He knows sunflowers are my favorite. I came home from a long day in a long week and was caught off guard with the bouquet behind me.  I stared in stunned silence at those flowers and realized that he was thinking of me when he saw them, bought them, brought them home, placed them in water, and set them upon my bureau. Each step was an act of love that will continue to  ‘blossom’ long after each petal fades.

kindness

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 9.38.40 PMThe stone
you exported
from the far side
of the earth,
carrying the grace
of that sacred land
and the kindness
of your generous soul,
rests gratefully
in the hand
         and heart
 of your humbled friend.

 

 

My beautiful friend and yoga instructor, Kim, recently went on retreat to India. I asked if she found herself in a place where she was filled with awe, if she would reach down and gather a pebble to bring back a piece of that magic. Last night at yoga she gifted me a smooth brown stone from the other side of the world. She described the beautiful mountains and palm trees surrounding her where she gathered it. To remember me when she was immersed in such an experience was such a generous act of kindness. That stone (and my friend) will always have a special place in my heart!