Lessons Learned

When classes were cancelled, I didn’t pay too much attention to the ever increasing posts on social media or the webinars popping up everywhere about remote learning and teaching; I’m on medical leave and don’t have a class of students at the moment. Yet, as this pandemic has continued its course and everything has become uncertain, I realized that something like what we’re experiencing now may happen at some point in September or later in the fall.

So I started paying attention.

I started listening to teachers talk about how difficult this is. I started reading articles and blog posts that attempted to help teachers make sense of the new digital reality we are living in, and I continued to read about equity and what that means during COVID-19. I began to participate in webinars, joined sessions on FaceBook live and inserted myself into the conversation.

I have been learning from other educators about the importance of focusing on social-emotional learning and trauma informed teaching; how to make effective teaching videos; and how to keep things simple and not expect a business-as-usual focus at home. I started keeping a legal pad of notes, that is quickly filling up, and that reflects what I want to keep in mind as I think about the fall, whether or not we are in remote learning mode or back at the school house door.

Yet, my most significant noticing during these last few weeks has been the heightened awareness by educators of the importance of connecting and building relationships with students AND their families. I want to emphasize the fact that we should have been connecting and building relationships with students and families when we were safely ensconced in our classrooms. If you are now realizing this, during a pandemic, I wonder what was happening in the classroom before this health crisis. And I say this, with a lot of love and grace, because if it’s challenging to develop connections with students and their families when we’re in a face-to-face environment, think how much harder it is to begin to do this NOW when we’re in crisis mode. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try, but it is my hope that this experience serve as a reminder to all of us that relationships do matter. Authentic connections do matter.

At the same time, and from my limited perspective, building and cultivating relationships can still happen online because we don’t have another choice. But they require a lot of work on the part of the teacher. Let’s not forget this when we return to school in the fall because even if teachers forge relationships with students and families, there may be one or more students for whom that doesn’t happen. And I repeat, trying to do that now is very hard. Again, this should serve as a lesson to make sure we intentionally connect with all students and especially with the ones that we have a hard time connecting with.

So many factors to consider. Let’s remember to show grace to ourselves, our colleagues, our students and their families.

This ain’t over yet.

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Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday SOL Challenge.

So. Many. Plans.

No matter how carefully we craft our plans, they sometimes go awry. Or there might be things beyond our control that just don’t cooperate with what we have in mind. Sometimes our carefully crafted plans have to be put on hold. Sometimes they need to be reworked or simply cancelled. Sometimes, we have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.

That’s OK because the truth is: life happens.

Case in point: After my cancer treatment was finished at the end of 2019, I had so many plans for the new year.

  • Plans to travel.
  • Plans to finish my dissertation by the end of this calendar year.
  • Plans to submit a book proposal, get it accepted, and start writing the book.
  • Plans to start an educational business that would eventually allow me to quit my job and dedicate myself to educational consulting full time.
  • Plans to spend more time with my husband and son before he heads off to university in three years.

So many plans.

And, yet, I don’t feel sorry for myself. Maybe just a little disappointed. The truth is that I am beyond grateful for what I have as I look forward to following through on some of those plans, but at a later date than I had originally anticipated. And, that’s OK. After all, plans are made to be changed, adjusted, rescheduled, and brought to fruition…or not. I just need to let go of the idea that if things don’t happen as planned on the date I had on my calendar, then somehow I’ve failed.

It’s time to move on from the mental frame of “failure = bad because it can be paralyzing.

Yet, how many times have I said this and how many times have I let it immobilize me?

Too many to count.

Yet, that’s what this is about, isn’t it? Falling down and getting back up again. Starting over. Picking up the pieces. Not giving up. Taking baby steps, if necessary. Each success moves us forward.

Cross-posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Bruna, bailando por el mundo – Dancing Around the World by Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo – Book Review

Bruna, bailando por el mundo – Dancing Around the World by Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo

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Bruna, Bailando Por El Mundo – Dancing Around the World is a lovely picture book about Bruna, a little girl who on a rainy day is sad and bored because she can’t go outside to play. In the best tradition of how grandparents can save the day, Bruna’s abuela (grandmother in Spanish), suggests they experience the traditional dances of different countries as they travel the world in their imaginations. At each stop on the journey, Bruna and her abuela appear dressed in the clothing of that country’s dance so the reader starts to associate a country with a dance, its instruments and a little bit of the rhythm of the music.

The pair travel to several countries, three of which are Spanish speaking. Initially, I had expected this picture book to take the reader to Latin America to showcase dances from various countries there. Although my expectation didn’t match how the story develops, I must admit I was a little disappointed that Latin American countries weren’t the backdrop for all the dances. Perhaps the author thought it best not to “stereotype” this book to only represent countries in Latin America, but simply to highlight the variety of dances all over the world. I would love to know how she decided on the countries she selected. Since she is a teacher, albeit retired, she may have wanted to represent the countries of students she has taught in the past.

I enjoyed the rhyming text in Spanish and appreciated that the Spanish appeared above the English to emphasize Bruna’s culture and language. I also noticed that the translation into English was not a word-for-word translation, which gave each language its own unique perspective rather than simply translating one for the other.

As a Spanish bilingual teacher, I am always on the lookout for books written in Spanish, or bilingually, that my monolingual English students who are learning Spanish as a second language can access and enjoy. This is one of those books. Furthermore, after reading this book aloud to my students as an introduction to dance and music from various countries around the world, I can envision posing the following question to them: “Which Latin American country’s dance and music might you want to investigate and write a short piece about?”

Although not every book lends itself to a class writing assignment, I think this one does. Students can write in Spanish, or in both Spanish and English, and can conduct their research in English. The research could be done online, via a book, and/or through interviewing adults from the country they’ve chosen. For example, there are many teachers at my school that represent a variety of Latin American countries. Once each child or pair has finished writing and illustrating their story, they could share it with their buddy class and, of course, with their parents.

Although the illustrations seem to fit the country they are intended to represent, student partnerships could research the dance, costumes and music of each country highlighted in this picture book before they start their own research. This would emphasize the importance of precision when doing research for a writing project. Next, they could share with the class what they discovered about the dance’s accuracy and detail as communicated in the words and drawings in the story. This could be an initial activity before each child or pair of students starts their own investigation and writing project. So, while I didn’t start this review to see how I could use this book in my grade 5 Spanish bilingual classroom, it certainly took me in that direction!

The pastel colors used in the illustrations gave the story a convincing feeling of the imaginary that rendered it believable. In other words, the illustrations fit with the text and aided in the reader’s journey through the dances represented here. I sincerely hope the author considers another similar Bruna story on other topics, such as “eating around the world” or “playing children’s games around the world”, and that it’s written in the same bilingual tradition as Bruna, bailando por el mundo – Dancing Around the World. Hmm…this might be an invitation I might offer my bilingual students. I am sure some of them might be interested in taking this on…

In summary, Bruna, bailando por el mundo – Dancing Around the World, would be a great addition to any Spanish bilingual classroom and has the added advantage of offering multiple entry points for writing projects. There are so many places this could go. It’s a great opportunity for an interdisciplinary project; my mind is exploding!

*This book was gifted to me by the author Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo. Many thanks!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2020 (1/31/20) is in its 7th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

Seven years in, MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves continues.

MCBD 2020  is honored to have the following Medallion Sponsors on board

 

Super Platinum

Make A Way Media/ Deirdre “DeeDee” Cummings,

Platinum

Language Lizard, Pack-N-Go Girls,

Gold

Audrey Press, Lerner Publishing Group, KidLit TV, ABDO BOOKS : A Family of Educational Publishers, PragmaticMom & Sumo Jo, Candlewick Press,

Silver

Author Charlotte Riggle, Capstone Publishing, Guba Publishing, Melissa Munro Boyd & B is for Breathe,

Bronze

Author Carole P. Roman, Snowflake Stories/Jill Barletti, Vivian Kirkfield & Making Their Voices Heard. Barnes Brothers Books,  TimTimTom, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books,  Charlesbridge Publishing, Barefoot Books Talegari Tales

 

Author Sponsor Link Cloud

Jerry Craft, A.R. Bey and Adventures in Boogieland, Eugina Chu & Brandon goes to Beijing, Kenneth Braswell & Fathers Incorporated, Maritza M. Mejia & Luz del mes_Mejia, Kathleen Burkinshaw & The Last Cherry Blossom, SISSY GOES TINY by Rebecca Flansburg and B.A. Norrgard, Josh Funk and HOW TO CODE A ROLLERCOASTER, Maya/Neel Adventures with Culture GrooveLauren Ranalli, The Little Green Monster: Cancer Magic! By Dr. Sharon Chappell, Phe Lang and Me On The Page, Afsaneh Moradian and Jamie is Jamie, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, TUMBLE CREEK PRESS, Nancy Tupper Ling, Author Gwen Jackson, Angeliki Pedersen & The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 by Mia Wenjen, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher (Founders of Inner Flower Child Books), Ann Morris & Do It Again!/¡Otra Vez!, Janet Balletta and Mermaids on a Mission to Save the Ocean, Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo & Bruna Bailando por el Mundo\ Dancing Around the World, Shoumi Sen & From The Toddler Diaries, Sarah Jamila Stevenson, Tonya Duncan and the Sophie Washington Book Series, Teresa Robeson  & The Queen of Physics, Nadishka Aloysius and Roo The Little Red TukTuk, Girlfriends Book Club Baltimore & Stories by the Girlfriends Book Club, Finding My Way Books, Diana Huang & Intrepids, Five Enchanted Mermaids, Elizabeth Godley and Ribbon’s Traveling Castle, Anna Olswanger and Greenhorn, Danielle Wallace & My Big Brother Troy, Jocelyn Francisco and Little Yellow Jeepney, Mariana Llanos & Kutu, the Tiny Inca Princess/La Ñusta Diminuta, Sara Arnold & The Big Buna Bash, Roddie Simmons & Race 2 Rio, DuEwa Frazier & Alice’s Musical Debut, Veronica Appleton & the Journey to Appleville book series  Green Kids Club, Inc.

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Co-Hosts and Global Co-Hosts

A Crafty Arab, Afsaneh Moradian, Agatha Rodi Books, All Done Monkey, Barefoot Mommy, Bethany Edward & Biracial Bookworms, Michelle Goetzl & Books My Kids Read, Crafty Moms Share, Colours of Us, Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes, Educators Spin on it, Shauna Hibbitts-creator of eNannylink, Growing Book by Book, Here Wee Read, Joel Leonidas & Descendant of Poseidon Reads {Philippines}, Imagination Soup, Kid World Citizen, Kristi’s Book Nook, The Logonauts, Mama Smiles, Miss Panda Chinese, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Serge Smagarinsky {Australia}, Shoumi Sen, Jennifer Brunk & Spanish Playground, Katie Meadows and Youth Lit Reviews

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

TWITTER PARTY! Register here!

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Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

It’s Time for a Change

I’ve been on medical leave since June 2019 and before that I’d been on an extended sick leave. I kept stretching out my initial leave thinking that in a week or so I would be well enough to return to school. By the time I finally accepted that I wouldn’t be going back to work until September 2020, I had experienced conflicting feelings and multiple scenarios about my health and my unrealistic, even damaging, attachment to my job. I was in denial about my medical condition and the thought of not working for more than a year was unconscionable; my doctors set me straight.

Although I am now at peace with the decision to not go back to work this year, I am struggling with how to schedule my time in ways that are useful and enjoyable to me. I don’t want to let my job rule my life. I know that achieving a work-life balance is challenging and often a source of anxiety for many of us. That’s why I am figuring out ways to prioritize self-care in the form of leisurely activities and exercise now so I don’t have to figure it out from scratch later.

Furthermore, I am using the next few months to make headway into three major projects I am committed to accomplishing this year. But, I’m not going to lie…this is hard. I’ve been working since I was 15 and to all of a sudden have open blocks of time on my hand to organize as I see fit has been a challenge. Sometimes my day doesn’t start until after 10:00 am and it ends past midnight because I’m reading and writing or having a hard time falling asleep. How did I ever get up early before? And, how will I be able to get up early when I start working in September?

This is not an exercise for NOW. The fact is that I am making a significant shift in how I approach my personal and professional life that favors the personal going forward. I owe it to my well-being and to my family.

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Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

What’s Your Superpower?

If you could have one superpower in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

This question was posed on Twitter a while ago. I don’t remember who posted it or even when it was shared. I just know that I immediately wrote it down as a prompt for a future blog post.

I know that this is going to sound odd, but if I could have one superpower in the classroom it would be to listen carefully and intentionally at all times. Now, what does this mean to me? Throughout my teaching career, active listening and its various iterations have been the focus of many conversations and even professional development sessions for teachers. On an intuitive level, we know the importance of listening to others because we know how it feels when someone listens to us…without an agenda or interruptions. It seems to me that in our busy world we are constantly interrupted from listening carefully to each other. Sometimes the interruptions happen in the course of the school day and sometimes we interrupt our listening because our brains are so full of to do items that we have forgotten what it means to be in the moment. Instead of listening when someone is talking we’re often thinking about what to say in response or about the list of items that need to get checked off by the end of the day or we’re so distracted from constant browsing on social media apps that our brains have a hard time concentrating. What could be so important that we can’t let go of it long enough to listen to someone else? And, I mean really listen without an agenda or self-interest. Listening with our minds as well as our ears, without interrupting or needing to jump in and offer advice or an opinion.

I have been painfully aware over the last year or so of how difficult it is for me to listen to others when they’re speaking. My mind seems to wander often to inconsequential matters and when I tune back in I realize that I had been daydreaming and don’t have a clue as to what was being discussed. (This sometimes happens when I’m reading, but I can go back and reread. It’s hard to do that in a conversation without giving away that I have stopped listening.) I have decided that this needs to change. My family has been telling me to listen better and not interrupt when someone’s speaking for a long time. But, you guessed it, I haven’t been listening! I aim to do better, both at home and at school.

Is this an odd superpower to wish for myself in the classroom? Perhaps. After all, teachers are supposed to be good at listening. That’s one of the ways we pick up on students’ moods and nascent understandings of what we’re teaching. It’s one of the formative assessment techniques that we use to figure out how well our students are doing and where we need to adjust our teaching. Yet, we live in a world were busyness is the order of the day. The busier we are, the more important we are and the more successful we are, or so we think. Well, it turns out this isn’t necessarily true. Some of our busyness is just moving things from here to there and has little to do with productive and significant work. So, the busier we are means that our brains are inundated with a plethora of things that we think we need to get done, but that may not add value to anybody’s life, including ours, that of students or our own families. Instead, we need to commit to fewer projects so that we have more time to do things that matter.

So, all this is to say that slowing down and cutting out unimportant tasks or, at the very least, limiting those tasks, will make room for what truly matters to us. I believe that this downsizing, if you will, will allow us the mental space to listen better and respond authentically to those around us.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge

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One Small Self-Care Habit

Habits can be hard to commit to and maintain.

Actually, let me rephrase that sentence: Habits are easy to commit to, but hard to maintain.

Promising to create too many (new) habits at once can really derail any attempts to get better at something. My tendency is to want to do it all, but I end up doing a lot half way or not at all. So, I’m thinking about how to start slow…again.

When did my life get so fast? So busy, but without any satisfactory direction that I can feel good about.

This is the year that I reinvent myself. Reinvent my priorities. Strike a balance between my professional and personal life. Accomplish important projects I’ve been putting off and then feeling guilty for putting them off. Make more time for family.

This is the year that’s going to make all of the trauma of 2019 worthwhile.

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Source: Pexels

One small self-care habit. I don’t know what that’s going to be yet. I already have one professional one I’m thinking about. Not a new habit, just a slight adaptation to what I’m already doing.

So, this post is my way of making my intent known to the world: World, I am going to do one thing to take care of myself in 2020.

Here I go.

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers SOL Tuesday Challenge

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My OLW(s)

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It’s 2020 and time to think about my One Little Word (OLW). I’ve been musing about my OLW for this year and whether or not I should even try to find one. Wouldn’t it be better if my OLW found me? That has never happened before though I’ve read of it happening to others. Why not me? I had almost decided not to choose a OLW because while I see the power in having a word to guide my year, I haven’t been very successful at keeping it front and centre past January. So, if it hasn’t helped in the past why even bother? But at last night’s #TeachWrite monthly chat it came to me almost as in a lightening flash, but without the drama I associate with lightening, ie thunder and chaos. LOL!

It turns out my OLW is two-pronged: balance and completion.

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Balance because I’ve been slighting my personal life by favoring my professional life. Looking busy, but accomplishing little. So, something is wrong. I’ve known that for a long time, but I haven’t taken any significant action to right this situation. I’ve just been plugging along hoping that something that I am doing will be the golden ticket to get me where I want to go professionally. Instead, I’ve neglected my relationships with others and have worn myself out by staying busy while procrastinating on the important things. I’m not looking for a 50-50 balance; I don’t think that’s possible. Some days I will give more to one aspect of my life than to the other, but it will be intentional, planned and purposeful. And, I will announce that’s what I’m doing. Then, I can be mindful with the time I spend with friends and family, especially with family. I think in order for me to achieve this balance, I need to schedule it. I know that sounds crazy, but I’m finding it’s the best way to go. It will keep me honest and accountable to myself and to those I love.

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Completion – This is the year for me to complete a couple of projects that I’ve been dreaming about, but taken very little action on. Procrastinating is more like it. This year if I say I’m going to do something, like daily writing, then I will not only commit to doing it but I will show up to the party and be an active participant. Of course, I will cut myself some slack if I miss a day here or there; I don’t want to add to my overwhelm.

Today I was reminded that our primitive brain is always trying to keep us safe; it is doing the job it was designed to do. On the other hand, the prefrontal cortex wants us to progress; it has our long term interests in mind. If I don’t act quickly, five seconds apparently, I will retreat to a safe place and get nothing accomplished. At the same time, I will blame my lack of progress on everyone and everything else. Yet, it’s within my power to surge forward. And, this year that’s what I aim to do. I owe it to myself and to my family.

Now that I have embraced balance-completion, I will set intentional plans for each month of the year to guide me in achieving my goals. Although well-articulated goals and plans have not been my forte in the past, I intend to make a clean slate and figure this out once and for all. Being specific and realistic will help me in 2020.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers SOL Tuesday Challenge

Being Busy Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

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Prior to this year, just thinking about all of the things on my to-do list would have made me nervous, but accomplished. Like I was doing important things. And, because I had chosen the majority of these projects myself I was compelled to follow through and complete them. Getting involved with yet another project seemed exciting and like I was doing something important. However, if I’m honest with myself, it was all about #FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. I never stopped long enough to think about all of the time I would need to spend on each new project or the not-so-glamorous parts of each project I had to complete.

Sometimes I wished I hadn’t committed to so much because when it came time to deliver, I was always running against the clock and feeling like I wasn’t focusing on what was truly important to me; instead I was simply staying busy. At other times, I wondered what I could be doing with all of my “free time” if I were to let everything, or some things, go. I couldn’t even imagine that – both the free time or letting go of anything!

I used to think that I loved my busy life, precisely because I was busy. And, on some level, I guess I did like parts of what I was doing. No #FOMO, but lots of anxiety. Being busy is supposed to be a sign of success, but is it really? I deluded myself into thinking that I was making progress in my life goals because of what I got involved in. But progress towards what? That’s what I never stopped long enough to figure out. Was I gaining anything really important by volunteering for yet another activity? Was I any closer to any of my professional or personal goals? And…what were/are my personal/professional goals, anyway?

In my heart, I knew it could do better if I could say, “No,” once in a while. Not everything is worth doing or will get me further along my goal of writing a book, finishing my doctorate, becoming a more effective, joyful teacher, or finding much needed work-life balance. Even though I know this in my heart, old habits are hard to break. And, while I have been moderately successful at saying, “No” on occasion, I am still trying to figure out what I want to say, “Yes” to that will make a difference to me and others.

Since I’ve been on medical leave, I’ve had to reassess my priorities. I’ve had to drop out of a few commitments when I realized, sometimes too late, that I wasn’t feeling well enough to do them. I’ve been learning to say, “No” to more things, though I have to admit it hasn’t been easy. Along the way I am realizing that being busy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In the New Year I am committing to a few important activities that will uplift me and keep me engaged because they bring value and joy to my life. I will stop doing those things that just don’t do that so I can truly focus my energies on what matters.

Recently, I read a blog post where I was reminded that elementary school teachers are expected to be experts in a lot of subject areas. The truth is that none of us can be experts in everything, yet we flit from one thing to the other as if we can do it all. That gave me pause. Although there are many worthwhile projects out there, not all of them are worthwhile for me, or even fit me as an educator or as a person. I’m learning to be discriminating in my tastes and that’s helping me pick and choose more wisely.

Here’s to a New Year of fewer, but better involvements.

Cross posted to the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.

Browsing the Shelves at the Library

On Sunday, my husband and I went to the new Central Library in Calgary. Although this branch of the public library is considered “state of the art” and has been open for more than a year, we had yet to visit since it’s not in our immediate neighborhood. Since we arrived an hour before closing time, there weren’t any tours scheduled for the rest of the day. Nevertheless, we walked around a little bit – skimmed the surface really – admiring the variety of spaces available to library patrons, including a play area for children and a gallery of local art by Indigenous artists.

Even though we couldn’t get a guided tour of the library, I was able to do something I used to do before the internet, smartphones or apps: browse the shelves for books. Admittedly, I only looked at books whose covers were facing out on the shelves, but that was enough given the short time I had to search for books. Browsing the shelves is how I discovered many beloved authors whose books I still read to this day. I was reminded of how I used to find new books to read because of a twitter thread that asked tweeters if they second-guessed themselves if they didn’t like a book that others were raving about.

My response was that, yes that has happened to me, but that I choose to trust my opinion over those of critics. And, I realize now, how much easier it was to do that without the barrage of social media posts about new books. Recently, I started reading a book that put me in a dark mood – not what I needed at the moment. So, I abandoned the book even though it seemed as if everyone on social media was praising it. Not for me, I decided and returned it to the library. This is not to say that I haven’t gotten some great book recommendations on social media. Quite the contrary. However, I love discovering books on my own just by bumping into them on the shelves of the library or a bookstore.

So, on Sunday I happily roamed the stacks. And, I discovered many new titles by authors I had not heard of before. Also, when I looked through the pile of books I planned to borrow (to add to the growing stack at home), I realized that many of the authors were POC; I was pleased that my public library chose to showcase these on the shelves.

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How did you find books to read before social media began to dominate our reading lives?

Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge.

 

Schedule Writing

Lately I’ve been reading a ton, but not writing that much. I sometimes wonder if I hide my writing behind my reading. I know that to write well I need to read a lot, especially in the type of writing I aim to write. Yet, it seems I often don’t have protected writing time. I can read all day, but I can’t write all day. Go figure!

In one of the books I was reading – How to Do Fewer Things Better by Angela Watson – Angela recommends (and other productivity books say the same) to simply schedule in down time, work time, etc and to just show up like you would a doctor’s appointment. I have yet to do that with writing; it seems like other things get in the way. But I know that if I want to protect and advance my writing, I will need to schedule it in every day. And not just journal writing. That would be too easy for me, though there is value in that too. If I want to prioritize work that is important to me and if I want to accomplish something that can be perceived as a legacy, then I need to schedule in writing time.

Reading can be done anytime, anywhere. However, I find that I need different structures in place for writing. For example, I need to have my computer, a notebook and something to write with. I need to be sitting upright, preferably at my office desk, and I need to tune out any extraneous noise. (When I read I can be sitting in front of the TV while someone else is watching and truly get lost in the book I’m reading. Not with writing.)

One other thing that I need for a dedicated, daily writing time is to know what the focus of my writing will be. Will I work on the short story about my mom or will I work on a book proposal? Will I continue my doctoral writing or will I start something new? It seems that sometimes these seemingly simple decisions paralyze me and prevent me from moving forward. It’s easier to have nothing on the page than to be exposed to criticism or, worse, rejection.

Yet, I do OK with blog posts. So, what is the problem? I think, and I’m thinking out loud here, it’s that blog posts are shorter bursts of writing and therefore manageable. A book proposal or doctoral writing requires longer, more sustained writing. I am realizing I have yet to develop the stamina for that kind of writing precisely because I don’t yet have a daily writing habit that focuses on what’s important to me.

I’ve read that it takes at least 21 days to develop and maintain a new habit. Yesterday was Day #1 and I wrote at the appointed time on my calendar. I know it will get harder as I move through the next few days, but there’s no turning back now. The game is on. I look forward to getting it right…this time.

Cross posted to Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Challenge.