Saturday, April 30, 2016

JOIN: Celebrating Writer Solidarity

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

This week, as I was scrolling through the Twitterverse, I discovered Maria Dahnava Headley and her tweets on what she's learned about writing.

People, I love writing, but writing isn't easy. It's silly...I mean, I know writing isn't easy. I've known it all along, but the more I write, the more I realize it. And the more I'm happy to know others feel the same thing.

Writer solidarity - knowing I'm not alone in the ups and downs of writing feels good and helps me keep going. And if I've learned anything in writing, it's that persisting and persevering is the most important thing you can do. 

Here's a Storify that someone created of Maria's tweets! 

I'm actually inspired to write up my own thoughts
...maybe I'll do that next week!

I hope you enjoy Maria's thoughts on writing as much as I did 
and I hope you keep going.
Write on, friends!

Friday, April 29, 2016

WRITE: Sawa Bona - I See You

How many times do we ask, "How are you?" and how often do we respond, “I’m fine?"

I've caught myself saying I’m fine when I’m really more or less than fine. 
It's just what people say, right?

Some tribes in South Africa greet each other in this way:

One person says, "Sawa bona," which means, "I see you."
And the other responds, "Sikhona," which means "I am here."

Sawa bona, I see you.

Sikhona, I am here.

Being seen...
being here, 
being acknowledged, 
being recognized, 
and ultimately, 
being loved. 

Being seen means being loved. 

When someone sees me, my strengths and my weaknesses, my beauty and my flaws, who I am on the inside as much as on the outside, and still cares about me and believes in me - that's love.

I've been making an effort to slow down, to make eye contact, to put other things aside when I'm talking to another person. Whether it's technology or another distraction, I'm trying to be more careful about being present and showing people that I'm here and I see them.

Let's Write! Write about what it feels like when someone truly sees you. What do they do that makes you feel seen? How might you practice "seeing" people more in your life? How might our relationships be different if we were more conscious to see others?

Thanks for stopping in!
I see you! I am glad you are here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

JOIN: 100 Days of Walking Wisdom

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

I'm joining in on Elle Luna's The 100 Days Project! I first learned about The 100 Days Project when Elle posted about it on Instagram. It wasn't easy to come up with something I could spend 100 days working on and then it hit me. 

I've been doing lots and lots of walking with our puppy Perdi and as we walk around the neighborhood, I've noticed there are tons of sidewalk squares that look like someone came and swiped something away. Finally, I realized, someone probably wrote something in the cement when it was still wet and someone came along to clear away what they wrote! Since then, I'm always wondering who wrote what. For the 100 Days Project, I decided I would take picture of these spots and write my own messages. I'm sure I'll find some other inspiring spots along the way to take pictures of too. 

Here are the pictures I've created so far!

I'm all about appreciating everything this year thanks to my one little word: revel. Walking with Perdi helps me pause and reflect and my version of The 100 Days Project is another way to stop and appreciate life. Maybe you'll follow along? I'm using the hashtag #100daysofwalkingwisdom when I post to Instagram!

Thanks for stopping in to celebrate with me this week
as I explore my 100 days of walking wisdom!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WATCH: Could Have Been Me by The Struts

I'm such a music fan. It wakes me up, energizes me, empowers me. I'm also a Spotify fan. I love being able to create my own playlists. Usually I create a different playlist for each season that comes around. 

Could Have Been Me by The Struts is one of my favorite songs. Every time I hear it, I have to jump up and dance around...or at least throw my fist into the air. It's an awesome song. More than anything, I love the message of it. 

I don't ever want to look back at my life and think it could have been me...if I had worked harder, taken a chance, stepped out of my comfort zone. I want to embrace challenges that come my way or that I find for myself. This song helps me remember why. 

"Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
I can't hear you, I don't fear you"

"I wanna taste love and pain
Wanna feel pride and shame
I don't wanna take my time
Don't wanna waste one line
I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me"

I want to live better days. I want to feel all the emotions. Even though I don't always like having to feel disappointment and pain and sadness and shame...I know that I'm living life to the fullest when I get to experience the downs with the ups. And hopefully I find the happiness and pride and exultation as much - or maybe more - than the not-so-great emotions. 

Watch and reflect on risks or challenges you have taken on in the last year. Have you experienced ups and downs? Do the ups outweigh the downs? Are the downs worth going through to get - and appreciate - the ups? How might you make choices so that you don't look back and think "it could have been me"?

Thanks for being reflective 
and exploring your story with me today!
I'm glad you are here.

Monday, April 11, 2016

READ: The Art of Asking

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 may have seen my post about Amanda Palmer's Ted Talk The Art of Asking. It's definitely one of my favorites. Her honesty and raw-ness is fascinating. I could listen to her talk forever. Luckily, she wrote a book where the expands upon the ideas she shares in her Ted Talk. 

On Sunday I ran into a friend who I haven't seen since last June. She walked up to me at Starbucks and when as soon as I registered who she was, I jumped up and gave her a big hug. And then I was so excited I had to give her another hug. 

I love people. As an extrovert, I get energy from others. If I could just hang out with my friends all day, it would be awesome. I've learned that I still love my quiet time and need downtime to decompress. Whether you're an extrovert like me or an introvert, I believe we all want to feel included.

Amanda explains,
"Here's the thing:
all of us come 
from some place 
of wanting to be seen, 
understood, accepted, connected."

I'm really loving blogging here at Story Exploratory and I hope you enjoy it too. I mean for it to be a space where you feel welcomed and invited and valued and seen. Thank you for stopping in!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

EXPLORE this week: POWER

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. 
POWER is your word to explore this week.
Share in the comments. Paste a link to your own post. Email me.
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 power this week?
Sign up for my newsletter here!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

JOIN: Cherishing Beautiful Moments

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

Gosh I love this weekly celebration post. It's freeing to sit down at my computer and think I can write about whatever I want to write about. I always end up reflecting upon my week and thinking about the ups and down. Life ebbs and flows for me. I've posted before about how I would love to have a daily routine but it doesn't seem to work right now. We have lots of routines but not a consistent daily routine. But that's okay. I think for me, having the change and moving from one thing to the next helps me have balance. Whether I like it or not, I jump to different projects depending on what seems to fit my mood. 

But this weekly check in, a time to pause and appreciate the flow, helps me recognize the movement - whether I'm focusing on my blog or my novel or a presentation - I'm making progress in some way. And that feels great. It helps that the house is quiet and the puppy is sleeping! 
At work, I have a jar of little pieces of paper in it with some notes on them. I started this after reading Flow magazine. It came with little tear out cards so I could write down "Beautiful Moments" from my day. I found them at work and was reading them the other day...and as I sat here thinking about what to write, I remembered I have a little container of them here too!

So here it is!

Here's a Beautiful Moment from the fall: Little Bean and I colored his turkey to look like Darth Vader. He said he loved it and said I'm the best!

And another: Watching Peanut do math homework, trying hard, showing what he knows. He's so big!

I remember those moments but it helped to see the words written down to take me back to those moments. Maybe you'll start a jar of Beautiful Moments. It's a nice way to pause during the day and appreciate a Beautiful Moment and then great to be able to go back and cherish. 

Today I'm celebrating the power of reflection, how I love to stop and pause, how appreciating Beautiful Moments now and later is a wonderful thing. 

What are some beautiful moments you might celebrate this week? 

I've got (virtual) confetti at the ready. 
Thanks for stopping in to explore with me!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WATCH: Story Pirates Documentary

Today I'm sharing a documentary that gives insight into an organization called Story Pirates. They write with kids and then take their original stories and make them into skits with professional actors. How fun is that!? 

When I watched this, I noticed how much fun they are having! I love writing but I'm always striving to keep that love of writing present in my process. Just because I love it doesn't mean it's easy. 

I really liked listening to Anaya talk about writing:

"I love to write because I can make it 
and I can make a story any way I want. 
And I can always make 
everything my way. 
My own thing. 
When I wrote it, 
I was just making it up 
at the top of my head. 
I wasn't even planning it out. 
I just wrote it 
and then it felt free 
and then it turned out to be 
such a great story." 

I'm empowered by her words. We can write whatever we want to write, we can do it our own way, we can just write and fell the freedom in just writing. And maybe it will turn out to be a great story. I believe it will. 

Watch and think about how much fun these kids are having. How might you bring some light-heartedness to your writing? Maybe you get up and dance before you write, maybe you write based on something silly you overheard today, maybe you don't plan, maybe you just write and let your ideas flow.

Thanks for being reflective today, 
looking at your life as a writer, and exploring your story with me today!
I'm glad you are here.

Monday, April 4, 2016

READ: The Crossroads of Should and Must

In the last five years, I've had three new-to-me jobs and changed school districts. When I first started teaching, I was pretty sure I was going to be a special education teacher forever. And here I am still in education but definitely in a different career path than I expected. 

I'm a blogger and a writer. My dreams of connecting with other writers has expanded in the past few years. And here I am with two blogs devoted to writing - one dedicated to education and one a bit broader. 

How did I get here? It was my first job change that forced me to examine my shoulds and my musts. When I left teaching, I realized I had moved into a position that I felt I should work hard at. I'm a dedicated worker, I put my heart into my work and doing my best. But I realized what I must be spending my time on is really my family and my writing and my yoga practice. My shoulds and my musts weren't matching up.  

This book is full of suggestions for how to recognize your shoulds and zone in on your musts...and then helpful ideas for how to relish and make the most of your must - to follow your passions. It's awesome!

This book is vibrant and inspiring and grounding at the same time. It reads quickly but it's powerful. If you think you know your shoulds and your musts or if you think you might need some help opening your eyes to your shoulds and your musts, this book is for you! Just think about this quote:

"If you're not prioritizing the things you say you care about,
consider the possibility that you don't actually care about those things.
Often, knowing what we want is the hardest part. 
What do you want? Do you know?" (p. 97)

There's a power in writing to uncover your shoulds and your musts. Writing helps me see into my heart and I'm sure it can help you. 

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.

Sunday, April 3, 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. 
BLISS 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 bliss this week?
Sign up for my newsletter here!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

JOIN: Celebrate This Week - This Is Your Life

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

In the 50's, there was a show called This is Your Life. They would chose a celebrity and surprise them with people who had influenced their life.

I only know the show This Is Your Life from watching Sesame Street when I was little. Here's an example of their version of This Is Your Life for the character Forgetful Jones.
Here's a clip from when Dick Clark was on the show in 1959! It's so fun to watch and gets me choked up. 

This Is Your Life celebrates the power of connection between people. Seeing others and honoring the miracle in each of us contributes to the dents we make in the universe. I've heard these people referred to as balcony people and marigolds. Whatever we call them, they see us. And it makes all the difference.

Today I'm celebrating one such person. Ms. Bacigalupi - now Mrs. Zimmerman - was my freshman and sophomore high school English teacher. I got to have coffee with her over spring break. In my head, it felt like a mini-This Is Your Life. We talked about books and writing and teaching and it was so great to see her, especially considering books and writing and teaching is my life now.
If they ever decide to bring back the show This Is Your Life and for some crazy reason bring me on the show, there would be tons of people who have believed in me over the years. I'm so so so lucky. Maybe there are people who have influenced and believed in you!

What are you celebrating this week? 
Who might you celebrate? 
THIS is your life, so celebrate!

I've got (virtual) confetti at the ready. 
Thanks for stopping in to explore with me!

Friday, April 1, 2016

WRITE: The Miracle of Life

When my oldest son was born, my aunt called it a miracle. I inwardly rolled my eyes. I held a precious little person who I helped create in my arms but I had friends who struggled with infertility or C-sections and knew stories of babies or moms not making it through delivery. 

With all the things that could have gone wrong but didn't, his birth didn't feel like a miracle. Don't get me wrong, I'll never ever forget first looking into his eyes. He saw straight to the core of my soul and captured my heart forever and always but I thought she was being a bit dramatic by using the word miracle. 

Almost nine years later and after blogging about how scientists have figured out that the odds of you being born are 1 in 400 trillion, I understand where she was coming from. 

I was wrong, we are all miracles. 

Life is a miracle.

Thanks to Google, here are a few definitions for the word "miracle':

  • a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.
  • a highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment that brings very welcome consequences.
  • an amazing product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.

YOU are a surprising and welcome event. 
YOU bring welcome consequences. 
YOU are an outstanding example of a human being. 

YOU are a wonder
a marvel
a sensation
a phenomenon.

WE are miracles. 

Let's live up to being outstanding and to making a positive difference by being here. You're doing good work. Keep it up.

Let's Write! Explore what the word "miracle" means to you! How did reading the definitions confirm, expand, or redefine your thoughts about the word miracle? What are some ways you might bring welcome consequences to people you encounter today? Tomorrow? This week? This months? This year? What are some things you can do to make the most of this miracle is you?

You are a wonder. Thanks for stopping by!