Sunday, September 25, 2016

EXPLORE this week: CAREEN


Mindfulness through writing is a powerful thing. 
I invite you to take a few minutes. 
Free write, 
make a list, 
write a poem, 
craft a blog post, 
draw a doodle, 
take a picture. 
You pick. 
CAREEN is your word to explore this week.
Share your story in the comments! I can't wait to read about your week!
Thanks for exploring your story with me!  
Psst! Yes, you!
Wanna read what I wrote about when I explored the word careen this week?
Sign up for my newsletter here!

JOIN: Remembering To Feel


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


Almost three years ago a young girl was murdered in my cul de sac. 
Her older sister was the one who killed her.
We were left shocked and horrified and terribly sad. 
No one could have predicted it. 
But I still thought about everything I might have done to have prevented it. 

I could have
gotten to know the girls more
invited the family over for dinner
offered to do homework with the girls after school
done something I didn't do.

Afterwards, I processed my emotions with a trusted friend.
He told me it was okay to experience all these feelings.
 It was not only natural, 
but needed.

Holding feelings in, 
bottling them up, 
shoving them aside, 
doesn't work. 

I let myself feel then.
And let myself feel still. 

Emotions are interesting. 
They seem to come and go. Even though this happened years ago now, sometimes I'll remember and the hurt and guilt is there again. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I tell my husband. Sometimes I write about it. But I don't ignore those feelings.

Today I'm celebrating the power of remembering to feel. Allowing ourselves to experience emotions is important. Of course, it's easiest to experience and relish in the emotions that make us feel good. But it's just as important to feel the not-so-good feelings too. 

How are you feeling this weekend? 
What do you do to let yourself feel?
Does writing help you process those emotions?
I know writing often helps me. 
Thanks for being here to celebrate with me!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

JOIN: Fall Writing Bootcamp


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


So far today has been a lazy Saturday and it's been pure bliss. I slept in this morning, waking up to the kids and the dog cuddled up on the bed with me and watching cartoons. Then we went to watch my six-year-old play in his first soccer game. After that he picked a local hot dog place for lunch (I had a salad...and maybe some fries). We ate outside at the picnic tables and talked about plans for the rest of the day. Now we're home. College football is on and I'm sitting upstairs on my bed with lots of writing stuff all around me. There are notebooks and binders, markers and pens, scratch paper and scrapbook paper. 

I'm in a sort of take-stock kind of headspace. I signed up for a fall writing bootcamp with the YA Buccanneers so I took time to outline my goals, set up my accountability chart, and decide on rewards for myself along the way. Bootcamp is for September and October in prep for drafting in November for NaNoWriMo. So far I've been unsuccessful with NaNoWriMo...but I'm taking the opportunity to be in a group of writers who'll motivate me and celebrate with me over the next two months and then I'll probably start drafting in November although I know I won't have the time to give NaNo a go.

My goals for the next two months are to:
1. Write everyday. At least 20 minutes of writing something.
2. Revise the current ms I've been working on. 
3. Beat sheet the next ms I would like to draft.

And the rewards I have decided on are: visiting my favorite coffee shop, filling in my accountability chart, playing Disney Emoji Blitz (I'm a little crazy for this game right now!), going out to dinner, and going to a yoga class. 

Celebrating writing and milestones in my writing along the way really helps me keep going. It's a loooooooooong journey so I might as well have fun and celebrate along the way, right?

Do you have current writing goals?
And how do you keep track of your progress and celebrate along the way?
Thanks for stopping in!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

JOIN: Celebrating Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars 2016!


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


Two years ago around this exactly time, I finished up a revision of my first novel. I felt pretty good. Getting through a revision of a whole manuscript is a feat. It's truly a feat. So I got through it, realized the submission window for Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars was coming, and on a whim, I submitted. 

Maybe on a whim isn't the right sentiment...it was more like it felt scary but worth it and brave and right. The best part was it seemed like a win-win no matter what. If I got in, I would get to experience working with a mentor and have the opportunity to share my work at the agent round. If I didn't get in, my writing life would go on, I would revise and decide what to do next.

Well, I did get in. (Yay! Here as my Celebration post about getting into Pitch Wars in 2014!) I was fortunate enough to work with two brilliant women, Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver. They gave me great feedback, I revised like my life depended on it, the agent round came, I got one request, my life went on. 

I didn't get an agent through Pitch Wars but it did move me way further along in my writing journey. I started actively querying after Pitch Wars and since then that manuscript has been through a few different revisions...I don't even know how many at this point. 

This summer I decided to try for Pitch Wars again. I finished up a pretty big overhaul, tightened up my query, and submitted again. The same thoughts went through my mind, it'll be a win-win either way. If I get in, I get great support in revising my manuscript, if I don't get in, I reread, revise, reach out to my reader friends, and I go from there. Well, mentors announced their picks this week and I didn't get in. I was sad for a bit but I'm okay with it. 

Two things I've learned about writing since I was in Pitch Wars in 2014 
(even though I've learned waaaaaaaaaaay more than two things!):

1. People make it possible. (At least for me.) I wouldn't still be writing if it wasn't for people who support me, believe in me, show me what's possible, encourage me, celebrate with me, and see the writer in me. As much as I believe in myself and the stories I have to tell, I'm immensely grateful to all the people who agree with me. 

2. Writing is about perseverance. I love the term win-win because it defines perseverance. I make a move, I see what happens, I make another move. Maybe I have an idea of what I hope and dream and wish will happen when I make a certain move but it doesn't always go as I plan. That's okay, I make another move. See? Win-win. 

Getting to live the writing life with all my writer friends is winning. Writing is the art of keeping on. I'm always somewhere in the writing cycle but as long as I keep riding along, I win.

Thanks for being here to write with me! You win, too!
What are you celebrating today?
Have you taken a risk in your writing life?
And what are some things you've learned along the way?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

JOIN: ¡Bienvenida Elena, Disney's First Latina Princess!


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


Maybe you've heard, and maybe you haven't, but Disney now has a TV show based on their first Latina princess! The show is called Elena of Avalor and is a spinoff of their show Sophia the First on Disney Junior. Here's more about her debut at WDWInfo.com


I first heard about Elena when we were in Guatemala and my mom was excited to show me that Guatemalan singer and songwriter Gaby Moreno sings the theme song. Here's a link to Billboard talking about how Gaby Moreno Sings Theme Song for Disney Channel Latina Princess Show 'Elena of Avalor'. And here's the title sequence so you can see it (and hear Gaby) for yourself!


Friends! I'm so so so excited!

I messaged my mom yesterday asking if she would help make an Elena of Avalor costume for me to wear for Halloween...because, seriously, this is the first Disney princess who looks like me!!! My mom was a little confused but willing to help. 

I've always been a Disney fan. Disney World is one of my favorite places. We watch every Disney movie that comes out when it's still in the theaters. I can sing along to almost any Disney song you throw my way. We watch Disney channel more than any other channel. 

I love Disney!

I didn't think it was possible to love Disney more. 

Then they introduced Elena. 

And I'm nine again. 

Who knows? School is starting soon. I'm working on my ESL endorsement and participating in a pretty intense teaching workshop this year too, but I would love to have an Elena dress to wear someday. 

Also, if you aren't familiar with Gaby Moreno, her music and her voice is beautiful. Here's a duet with fellow Guatemalan singer and songwriter Ricardo Arjona. The video is filmed in Guatemala too and you can see places like Antigua and Tikal. 


Thanks for stopping by to celebrate with me this week and every other week. I'm so thrilled to be sharing new of a Latina Disney princess! It just brings the biggest smile to my face. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

JOIN: nErDcamp Michigan 2016!


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


The Sunday before last, I drove the few hours to Parma/Jackson, Michigan to join my fellow Nerdy friends for nErDcamp Michigan! Later, I told my neighbor all about it and she interrupted me to ask, "Is it really called nErDcamp???" Why, yes, it is!
I've gone every year to nErDcamp since the first one in 2013. It's morphed from one day to two days and has become more amazing every year. This year, we watched Most Likely To Succeed: A Film About What School Could Be to kick off all the nErDcamp fun on Sunday night.
On Monday morning, I helped with registration so I didn't run the 5k or eat the pancake breakfast but it sounded like a great time. I did, however, get a great seat to listen to six remarkable women share their stories and their inspirational words: Kathy Burnette, Teri Lesesne, Raina Telgemeier, Pernille Ripp, Donalyn Miller, and Kate DiCamillo.
Monday afternoon I presented with author Louise Borden on getting real with research and inspiring students to explore their curiosity and to offer opportunities for authentic research because of it. After that I also led a session on living the life of a coach.
And then it was off to the Nerdy dinner and more great conversations with Nerdy friends. Look at the goodies Debbie Ridpath Ohi shared with dinner guests!
Tuesday it was time for the more traditional Edcamp-style unconference at nErDcamp where I threw out the idea for a session on Pokemon Go...and people came! It was super fun to learn more about Pokemon Go with others who were curious too. 
Two years ago, one other teacher from my previous district came to nErdcamp and we met there for the first time when we realized we taught in the same district. Last year, one of my really close friends came. But this year, we actually had six people come and that was pretty awesome. It was fun to be able to share nErDcamp with them! And so I give you...a Nerd balloon picture with my U-46 friends:
After all the sessions on Tuesday and hugging friends goodbye, I stayed Tuesday night to lead a group of students through their nErDcamp Jr experience. It's such a great way to end nErDcamp because everything we do is really and truly about the students.

All the kids gathered together in the auditorium to watch as Jerzy Drozd led Raina Telgemeier, Jenni Holm, Aaron Zenz, and Eddie Pittman through an illustrating challenge. Then they were off with their groups to read and write with authors and illustrators. How cool is that!?
My group was able to write and draw with Erica Perl, Liesl Shurtliff, and Laurie Keller. So fun!
It's energizing to be around people who are part of my tribe! Being with others who are passionate about learning buoys me up as I get ready for another school year. Today I'm celebrating the people near and far who share my love of reading and writing but who also share that with their students.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

JOIN: Celebrating Guatemala 2016


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.


I'm so excited to be celebrating this week! I've been in Guatemala for the last two weeks having a completely blast and soaking up my Guatemalan heritage. It was amazing to finally be able to visit the country where my mom and her side of the family is from and to see where my mom grew up and all that she has told me about Guatemala first-hand. 

Here are a few pictures from our trip when we stayed in Antigua, Guatemala. We visited ruins that were left after big earthquakes destroyed many of the buildings there in 1751 and 1773. Antigua was the capital of Guatemala before they moved the capital to Guatemala City in 1776. 


These men are playing the marimba which is the national instrument of Guatemala. My mom remembers marimbas being played at major events like weddings and my oldest son thought the musicians did a great job. It's pretty amazing how well they play and how they all coordinate with each other. 
One of the highlights of the trip for me was climbing a volcano! I wish we had gone closer than we did but it was definitely a hike to even get up to where I was in this picture, you can see the actual "peak" behind me. We climbed the volcano Pacaya which is an active volcano and one of over 20 volcanoes that Guatemala has.
Another highlight of the trip was getting to meet or reconnect with family. My kids met some cousins they had never met before and had a major blast playing with them. They played Uno and Rock, Paper Scissors, Splits and easily enjoyed each other despite not speaking the same language. It was so cool to watch. 
This next picture pretty much sums up most of the trip. After Antigua, we went to the Pacific Ocean and stayed in a resort on the beach. We played in the waves and loved the black sand. Then we went to a resort that had an amusement park and a waterpark and amazing pools. And after that we went to Lake Amatitlan and stayed at Santa Teresita that had thermals pools heated from the volcano. It was like swimming in a bath and it was lovely. 
 
At the end of our trip, we stayed in Guatemala City where we experienced some of the city life there. We walked to their big mall which was huge and gorgeous and had a Starbucks! I did miss my Starbucks while I was in Guatemala so I was excited to get to enjoy a Frappuccino there. They actually have a Churros Frappucino which was excellent. 
I'm sure I'll be sharing more pictures and stories from our trip but I'm so filled up with even more love in my heart for Guatemala than ever before and was so excited to at least share some of the highlights. I already can't wait to go back!

Do you have a favorite vacation or traveling memory?
Where did you go? What did you do?
I would love to hear about it!