Friday, October 21, 2016

WRITE: Talking to Strangers

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Anderson's Bookshop Young Adult Literature Conference. Afterwards, I was waiting for a friend. After spending the whole day inside the hotel conference center, fresh air seemed like a great choice. I walked outside and found a perfectly lovely wooden bench. I sat towards one side of the bench, leaving room for another person to sit if he or she chose to. 

After a few minutes of being busy on my phone a man made his way over to the bench. He asked if he could take a seat and I told him of course. He was waiting for the rest of his bandmates to show up. So of course, I asked him about his band and what type of music they played, the name of the band, his part in the band. And then I told him about the literature conference and he started to tell me about his love of books. He loved books!

He described how he gets lost in a book. How he starts visualizing what he's reading and suddenly it's like he's actually there. It was really cool to listen to him talk about books. Last week I shared Kio Stark's Ted Talk about talking to strangers. Of course, we need to be safe when we talk to strangers, but sometimes you start talking to a stranger about his band and suddenly he's telling you about his love of books. And it just makes you feel good about the world. Even if just a tiny bit. 

Let's Write! Write about a time when you talked with a stranger and what you learned.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WATCH: Why You Should Talk To Strangers by Kio Stark

As a writer, I'm always paying attention to stories all around me and mostly that means paying attention to people. I'm fascinated by people. This might partially be because I'm an extrovert. I love talking to people, even strangers. 

So when I found this Ted Talk by Kio Stark called Why You Should Talk To Strangers caught my attention. I'm maybe a little too happy to talk to strangers. In today's world, maybe I should be more cautious, but also in today's world, maybe I should be even more willing to talk to strangers. 

One simple way to make the world a better place, is to acknowledge each other. Talking to strangers - in a safe and careful way - connects us, reminds us that we are all here together on this wild and spinning world, helps us know that we are seen. 

I've blogged about the power of being seen and I've shared Amanda Palmer's Ted Talk and book The Art of Asking that highlights the power of being connected, trusting, asking, and being vulnerable with others. And now I'm sharing Kio Stark's thoughts on talking to strangers. 

Of course, please be careful who you engage with based on where you are and your circumstances, BUT when it's safe and possible, talk to strangers. And if you aren't up for a whole conversations, maybe you at least smile or say hello and simply acknowledge that you are there in that moment together. I believe it's a way to help people and impact the world. A smile is a simple start. A conversation with a stranger is another step. Try it and see what happens!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

JOIN: Celebrating Five Minutes

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

Today I ran for five whole minutes! I've been following a Couch to 5k program and was up to ten minutes...but then life got in the way and I wasn't able to run for a bit. So today I ran again after not running for two weeks. So I went back down to just running for five minutes. Five whole wonderful minutes.

Today also happens to be the day that thousands of people ran the Chicago Marathon. As I ran my five minutes, I thought about all those people who put in the time to train to be able to run 26.2 miles. That was me thirteen years ago. It was the most inspiring thing I have ever done. To be there with a giant crowd of others who were also accomplishing this pretty amazing feat. 

I only ran the Chicago Marathon (or any marathon) that one time. It was weird to run my five minutes today and be proud considering others were out running 26.2 miles...between two and six hours of running. But last year after I ran a 5k, an 8k, and another 5k, my plantar fascitis got the best of me and I just couldn't get it to go away. I stopped running, stretched, iced, got orthotics and now I'm finally in physical therapy over one year later. 

But the exciting part is that I'm running again. Five whole minutes.

It just goes to show that we can celebrate anything - big or small - and that we can celebrate differently at different times in our lives.

What are you celebrating today?

Monday, October 3, 2016

READ: Find The Good

I find power in others telling their stories and 
I hope you do too!
Check out It's Monday! What Are You Reading? at Book Date
For the kidlit version, visit Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.

You might think the life of an obituary writer might be sad and depressing but if you read Find The Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer you'll see that it can actually be fulfilling to celebrate people and their lives. I try my best to join in on Ruth Ayres' Celebrate posts every week because it helps me reflect, realize, cherish the ups and down life brings my way...or that I happen to find along the way. 

Find The Good was a book that also gave me the opportunity to slow down, sip the sweet tangy lemonade, and soak up life. The whole book felt like sitting in an Adirondack chair after a long day, it just felt full of life but full in a satiated kind of way, not in a weighed down kind of way. It's a beautiful homage to life. Through story, Heather Lende shares some wise life lessons worth paying attention to. 
The thought of dying might be scary but the idea of celebrating the life we get to experience is beautiful. At a writing retreat with Brenda Powers from Choice Literacy a couple of years ago, she shared two amazingly-written obituaries. The were full of voice and without knowing the people, they felt like my neighbors. 

Here are two obituaries I found just as powerful, one celebrates Carrie Thiederman and the other celebrates Mary Stocks. Please know that you don't have to read them but I found reading about their lives as a simple way to remind myself to find the good in life while I can. 

If you're looking for a calming read and an intriguing look at writing and life, I recommend Find The Good by Heather Lende. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016


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!