Wednesday, December 30, 2015

WATCH: Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

I love how Lisa outlines how humans are wired for story. She reminds us that every society on Earth has story. "We think in story because story provides a context for the facts so we can make sense of them." We live our own stories but we also can learn through life via story. 

She says story is a super power. Because we love them so much, we don't see their true power and potential but they truly are what helps us survive and thrive.

Watch and think about how stories have impacted your life. Think of just how powerful story is. And ask yourself how might telling your own story help others. But not just any story - what is that story deep within you - the raw, true story that might be hard to tell, but that others might connect and learn from. 

Sometimes we overlook the power of story. Don't overlook the power of your story. 
Your story is worth exploring. It's worthy of being set free.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

JOIN: Celebrate This Week - Two Months of Baby Steps

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

I can't believe December is coming to an end...and 2015 as well. Two months ago I launched Story Exploratory and I've made baby steps since then towards bringing it to life. But in my heart, it feels like giant leaps, big, bouncy skips through a dandelion field because this work is so close to my heart.

This December I joined Linda Urban and her Write Daily 30. I've been writing (almost) everyday. My goal was to put in 20 minutes of drafting my middle grade novel every single day. I did a pretty good job except for the week before winter break when I barely managed to eek through the week in general. I doubled the number of pages I already had and added over 9,000 words. That feels pretty awesome. 

It's not actually a lot but eventually all those words will add up to be a whole book. And that feels phenomenal.

On December 12th, I held the first Story Exploratory workshop - Setting Your Story Free. We met at a local coffee shop on a brisk Saturday morning and I took brave story explorers through a series of activities to help them find the story they need to tell right now in their lives and to help them brainstorm how to take steps towards telling that story. It was an emotional few hours but I left feeling empowered after talking with people who were so honest and introspective when it came to writing and their lives. 

It was only a few hours but it was the first Story Exploratory workshops and I'm planning more for 2016. And that feels exhilarating.

This months marks two months of Story Exploratory fun and one month of having our puppy Perdita in our family. Through yoga, I found how to calm my thoughts. By writing, I found how to be mindful of my thoughts and how to propel myself forward by listening to everything going on in my head. From spending time with Perdi, I've learned how to slow down and be in the moment. She loves to sit at the end of our driveway and take note of everything going on in the culdesac. I've come to love just standing there and soaking up the moment. It's helped me be more mindful in other areas of my life. 

It's all these small additions to my life in this short time that have helped me know that all the energy I put into Story Exploratory are worth it. I have a story to tell and part of my story is inspiring others to find their stories. And that feels wonderful. 

Celebrate with me! 
What do you have to celebrate from this week? 
This month? This year? I would love to hear about it!

Friday, December 4, 2015

WRITE: We Are Here!

What does the number 7,000,000,000 mean to you?

There are over seven billion people on this planet and you are one of them. 
That’s a whole lot of people!

What about the number 400,000,000,000,000?

Scientists have figured out that the odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion.
horton hears a who.jpg
When I see these numbers, I want to cheer, “We are here! We are here!” like the Who’s on the little speck in Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. We should be celebrating life, celebrating that we are here, celebrating this chance to live and make a difference. We don’t need a special occasion to celebrate life, life is a special occasion.
Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 1.44.13 AM.png

Every Saturday, my friend Ruth Ayres, hosts a Celebrate link up at her blog. Everyone is invited to share celebrations of the week. Sometimes I have something big to celebrate, sometimes I have a little thing to celebrate. Sometimes I have one thing to celebrate and other times it’s a handful of things. I love the sentiment of this meme because it helps remind me that I do have a lot to celebrate. Even if I’m feeling cranky, frustrated, tired or overwhelmed, I still have something to celebrate. I love reading what other people are celebrating as well. I discovered the picture above while reading a Celebrate blog post by Jaana at Janna’s Writing Blog.

Let's Write! Explore your thoughts about what you consider a special occasion. Does a special occasion truly have to only be something momentous and earth-shattering? What are some special occasions we might take for granted or overlook? How might writing be a way to celebrate a large or small moment?

You are a special occasion. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

WATCH: Street Art With a Message of Hope and Peace by El Seed

Over the years, I've encountered so many different types of people in my work. I've learned to recognize each person's strengths and to appreciate them for what they bring to our interaction. Sometimes it takes longer to get to the heart of a person - what their passions and values and beliefs are - what guides them and the decisions they make. But I believe in finding the best in everyone. I believe we all have a story inside of us that makes us who we are.

And I believe we all need to live our story. 

El Seed talks about his work and how he's spreading a message and hoping to impact the world through his art. He calls is a blend of calligraphy and graffiti. I call it stunning.

Watch and reflect on how you are sharing your message with the world. What are some ways you might help others see your message? How might sharing your message make a positive impact on you? On others?

Watch and think about how El Seed responded to the man who was upset about his artwork. He initially wanted to write a message that said, "In your face," but instead he wrote, "Open your heart." How might you help yourself take time to pause before reacting to someone? How might taking time to think help you be more thoughtful in how you respond?

Thanks for opening your heart and exploring your story with me!
I'm glad you are here.

Monday, November 30, 2015

READ: Whatever You Are, Be a Good One #IMWAYR

I'm fascinated by hand-lettering and all the creative people bringing words to life in unique ways by putting pen to paper. As much as I love my digital tools, the gentle swirl of a pen and the ebb and flow of ink through the letters is beautiful. 
I enjoyed a lovely cup of tea while reading Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon. It reminded me of my aunt who has done calligraphy for weddings and other special events for as long as I can remember. I always loved seeing her bottles of ink and the special tips on her pens as she dipped them into the pitch black liquid. Sometimes she would sit me down and help me practice loop after loop, trying to make them all evenly sized.
Whatever You Are, Be a Good One: 100 Inspirational Quotations Hand-Lettered by Lisa Congdon is a lovely collection of motivational quotes, brought to life on the page by Lisa. I'm new to Lisa's work but I'm already in love with her website and her blog and have spent time poking through the pages. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too!

My favorite quote of the book is:
"The aim of life
is to live.
And to live means
to be aware, 
divinely aware."
-Henry Miller

I'll share more about my new puppy, Perdita, but she's already reminding me to be in the moment. She loves to just sit at the end of the driveway or the edge of our yard and just look around at everything around her. Don't worry...there will be pictures soon!

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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

WATCH: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

I talked with a teacher yesterday who told me about an exciting research project her students are embarking on. They were curious about what life was like when she was ten. She just so happens to be turning fifty this year so it works out well that it was exactly forty years ago that she was ten. She reached out to her friends on Facebook and many were willing to share their memories from being ten forty years ago. 

Right away, I thought of Story Corps and their campaign this Thanksgiving called: The Great Thanksgiving Listen. Then I thought about my friends Colby Sharp and Brad Wilson and their series Stories From School. But then my thoughts kept swirling and swirling as more and more stories about stories came to mind. 

Stories are everywhere.

I know stories matter. And yet I'm reminded again and again, like it's so hard to understand.

Stories matter.

That's why I'm here. Because I love words and love putting them together to tell my story in so many different ways. Because I believe humans want to be seen and if we can find our stories, then we see into ourselves but we also find our story to share with others. 

I love Amanda Palmer's story. I first watched this last year and watched this over and over. Amazed at the simplicity and beauty of seeing someone else. Please watch Amanda Palmer's 2013 Ted Talk The Art of Asking and think about how she tells her story and how she invites others into her story and how that makes all the difference.

Watch and think about the power of seeing into yourself but also seeing others. What if we turned off everything else and really looked someone in the eyes. What would we see? What if you look at yourself in the mirror? What do you see? What would someone not see if they didn't look closely or if they didn't know your story. And then think how you might take some time to see someone else and how to invite them to share their story with you. 

Because stories matter.
Thanks for stopping by to explore with me!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

JOIN: Celebrate This Week

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

Last week, I was celebrating because NaNoWriMo was starting. I finished my beat sheet. Thanks to Elizabeth Eulberg, I discovered Blake Snyder's Save the Cat and I used the beat sheet to revise my first NaNoWriMo project and I used it to draft my 2nd YA and now my 1st MG. 

Hold it a second, can I just stop and say it's so wild for me to even be able to write those words above!? It just hit me and now I have to stop and marvel at what I've accomplished. I mean this in the most humble way. Over the last four years I've spent so much time writing and that last paragraph made me realize what all of it has added up to. Whoa. I still feel like that first-time NaNoWriMo-er not knowing at all what she was doing...and maybe I'll always feel a little of that.

So anyway, over the summer I came up with my why. It's taken me a long time to get here and to know myself but I know I'm all about the growth mindset and believing in the impossible. I like to think of myself as a daydream believer (I wouldn't be here blogging at Story Exploratory if's a total dream come true.) and so the words, "I believe I can and I will" seemed perfect.

Growing up, my dad always repeated these words to me: "Anything is possible, if broken down into manageable segments, stabilized by balance, and purified by belief." Those words are a big part of why I so strongly believe in the growth mindset and the potential inside each and everyone of us. 

Which brings me back to are some of my tweets from the week. Writing isn't easy, it takes dedication and a lot of strategies to know how to persevere through all the crazy feelings that come up when I write. The more I talk to writers - and even creators in general, the more I realize how we all deal with emotions when we write or create. This week, I took to Twitter as a way to let my thoughts out as I wrote!

And now I'm off to really, actually, and truly read what words I wrote last night! I was so tired but I was determined to write something. I vaguely remember writing a scene from my traumatic 5th grade spelling bee into one of my character's back stories...that should be interesting!

What are you celebrating? 
Nano or writing or anything else, please share!
I've got (virtual) confetti at the ready. 
Thanks for stopping in to explore with me!

Friday, November 6, 2015

WRITE: Perfect is Perfect

I asked Google what the definition of "perfect" is and here is a screenshot of what it told me:

Last week I asked you to write about your ideal life. I explained, "Your ideal is whatever works for you. Your ideal is perfect because it's yours." But it took me a long time to realize the notion of the word "perfect" is completely subjective - at least when we're talking about ourselves as human beings.

When I read The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, I felt such relief in finally coming to the understanding that perfect is merely a standard we apply to our understanding of the ideal.
What does it truly mean to be the perfect parent, friend, spouse, sibling, coworker, etc? Society and our experiences contribute to our false sense of perfect. To be perfect, one must understand the required elements, the conditions or qualities, or the standard for preciseness. 

But you can't measure people like you do products in a factory. The beauty of being human is that we are multi-faceted people with specific stories that have made us who we are. And we are more enough. We are perfect in every way.

Let's Write! Explore your thoughts about what it means to be perfect. What standards do you hold yourself to as you strive for perfection in your life? And what might happen if you looked at your life and accepted yourself - your strengths and weaknesses - as perfect?

You are perfect. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

WATCH: Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling by Emilie Wapnick

Last week, I shared Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Ted Talk The Danger of a Single Story and I also invited you to write about why you are here. I hope you inspire you to think about your story and how knowing yourself and your story might help you move towards knowing yourself and appreciating yourself more. 

Today, I would like to share Emilie Wapnick's 2015 Ted Talk Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling. I love how her words helped me think about how I view myself. It expanded my thinking about myself. The more I explore my own story and why I think I'm here, the more I have to face the fact that I might not have one true calling...or maybe I do have one true calling but it's manifesting itself in so many different ways and all the little things I've experienced in my life are adding up to something bigger that I might not even see yet.

 and decide whether you are a specialist or a multipotentialite. How does it feel to look at yourself with this lens? Is it freeing to know that it's okay to dabble in a variety of interests? It it a relief to know it's okay if you don't know what you want to be when you grow up? And how might telling your story help others recognize their own potential - singularly or multi-ly?

Thanks for stopping by
and exploring the power of story with me!

Monday, November 2, 2015

READ: V Is For Vulnerable #IMWAYR

A colleague shared V is for Vulnerable with me and I didn't realize it was written by Seth Godin until I sat down to read it last week. I'm a definite Seth Godin fan. Tribes is my favorite of his books and I enjoyed his Skillshare class The Modern Marketing Workshop. If you haven't heard of Skillshare before, I recommend checking it out, there are so many classes to choose from. And I also suggest following Seth's blog, it's short and to the point and usually insightful.

V is for Vulnerable is an alphabet book for harnessing the growth mindset. It's illustrated by Hugh MacLeod who does an excellent job of bringing Seth's thoughts to life. Visit his website to sign up for a daily email with "insights and inspiration". 

I wrote down a few quotes that struck me and lots of ideas as I became inspired but one in quote in particular really stood out. 

are people
who take 
for the 
right reasons."

Should we always take a risk? Probably not, but there are times when a risk is worthy and all the excitement and hope has to face the fear and hesitation. And being able to weigh out the pros and cons and decide a risk is worth is pretty heroic. 

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.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

JOIN: Celebrate This Week - Story Exploratory and NaNoWriMo

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

Last week, while the kids were at swimming lessons, splashing away in the pool, I bought a domain name and set up this blog, a sweet place for me to explore my story, share my love of writing, and hopefully inspire others.

So here we are.

And I'm so happy you are here to celebrate with me today!

Thanks to the remarkable Ruth Ayres, Saturdays are reserved for celebration. I've been celebrating with Ruth on my Teach Mentor Texts blog for a long time. It's definitely a highlight of my week and I'm happy to bring celebration to Story Exploratory. 

To be honest, making the choice to start Story Exploratory didn't just happen on a whim at swimming lessons. I've been thinking dreaming about how I might share more of my story as a writer for a long time. Writing makes me feel empowered and maybe it sounds cheesy but I would love if others would get to feel that way too. Sharing my story seems like the best way to start. 

That doesn't mean it wasn't scary. But I decided that when something feels scary, it doesn't mean you should give up. It means you have a chance to be brave.
So here we are (again).

Starting Story Exploratory is enough to celebrate but I'm starting on another crazy adventure tomorrow too.

Tomorrow is November 1st and that means NaNoWriMo! Just typing it makes me wince but I already signed up so I'm not looking back now. The first time I tried NaNoWriMo was in 2011. I so totally did not win all. 

Of course, that's part of what freaks me out about doing it now BUT I wouldn't have a super polished novel that I'm querying if I hadn't started it four years ago. 

It seems worth it to start a new get as far as I possibly can...whether I win NaNoWriMo or not. So I signed up. 

Last night I worked on my beat sheet, which is my super-skeletal outline based on Blake Snyder's Save The Cat. If you're thinking of writing a novel, I definitely recommend it. I've been thinking about these characters for a couple of years and finally getting ready to tell their story is exciting. Plus the story is set at a pool so I get to "live" in summer even though it will be November. How fun is that!?
I'm looking forward to having so much more to celebrate here. If you're doing NaNoWriMo too, please let me know! We can suffer the torture have so much fun together.

And if not, *maybe* next year. ;) 

No, seriously, if not, what are you celebrating? I've got (virtual) confetti at the ready! Thanks for stopping in to explore with me!

Friday, October 30, 2015

WRITE: Why Are You Here?

Our life is made up of story after story, 
strung together, making us who we are.

A few years ago, after I left teaching for a teacher leader position, was working longer hours, and commuting an hour both ways to work, I looked closely at my life and my priorities. Even though I was excited about my new position, my life wasn't in balance and I knew something had to change.

Writing is a way for me to process so I spent one night pouring my hopes and dreams onto the page. I wrote all sorts of ideas, trying to get to the heart of what I really want in life. At first it was a mess but then I started to see patterns and was able to corral those thoughts.

Thanks to Sage Cohen's book, The Productive Writer, I spent time finishing the statement: “My life is ideal when…” and I found that my life is most ideal when I’m spending time with my family, when I’m reading, when I’m writing and when I’m taking care of myself by exercising, eating healthy, and spending time with friends. Gaining this clarity helped me recognize baby steps I might take to get myself to a point where I spend my life doing what I want to do.

It was glaringly apparent that taking care of myself and my family is what is most important to me but I was spending a lot of time at work instead of at home. I still take my work very seriously and am passionate about supporting teachers but I'm lucky to now be working much closer to home. I get to do drop off and pick up and have so much more time to spend with them. It's a big change that has made a big difference in all of our lives. But I know I wouldn't have been brave enough to make a huge career change if I hadn't realized how much my heart needed it.
If you’re like me, I’m guessing somewhere along the way, while meandering along this journey called life, you have thought about the meaning of it all. I’ve often wondered:
Why am I here?
What am I meant to do?
How can I make a difference?

The truth is, I'm here to live the best life for me. And if I'm true to myself and my heart and my dreams, then I can make the world a better place. That's how I make a difference. 

It can feel overwhelming to want to change the whole, entire, great, big world so instead lets live our best life and together make our little corners of the world better places. A lot of us making better can make a whole world of difference.

Let's Write! Explore what your ideal life looks like. Remember that words like "ideal" and "perfect" are subjective. Your ideal is whatever works for you. Your ideal is perfect because it's yours. Finish the sentence, "My life is ideal when..." and then write down a few actions steps to more towards your more ideal life.

More about the notion of "perfect" next time!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WATCH: The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A friend recently pointed out to me that when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. When we don't understand someone else's story, our brain does its job to fill in the blanks. Our brain makes assumptions based on cues and prior experiences whether we are conscious of it or not. It's natural for our brain to make connections to what we already know, desperate to fit a person into our schema, however it can.

But hearing someone else's story helps us avoid assumptions and base our understanding of a person on their truths instead of our assumptions. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares The Danger of a Single Story in her 2009 Ted Talk and speaks to how important it is to share our stories.

Watch and think about how sharing your story might reveal who you are inside and dispel misunderstandings. What would someone be surprised to know about you that he or she might not realize at first glance or even after a few years?

Thanks for stopping by
and exploring the power of story with us!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Welcome to Story Exploratory!

Welcome to Story Exploratory, a place to find your story, nourish your creative mind, set your story free, and ultimately make the world a better place. We're committed to giving individuals, groups, and organizations the opportunity to practice mindfulness through writing and align their work with their values and beliefs. 

Check in here for thought-provoking reads, intriguing videos to watch, opportunities to connect with others, and ideas for putting pen to paper or fingers to keys and exploring the story within you. 

Read posts will share tidbits 
from our very favorite writing resources.

We'll share our favorite inspirational videos for you to Watch.

Write posts will give you exercises or activities to help you
 practice mindfulness through writing and connect to your story.

We'll be sharing upcoming opportunities to Join in with through challenges, workshops, and webinars.

We're glad you're here to explore the story within you!