March Slice of Life – Day 30: Memories and Books

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Today is Day 30 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Memories of Books

I met with my writing friend Linda for our monthly get together – to share writing, a lunch, and lots of talk.

We got talking about memory and I said I had trouble remembering last week, let alone two years ago. (I couldn’t remember a book I had won 2 years ago). She said my long term memory was probably better and that I could remember favourite books I had read to my children (which is true). I then shared this story with her:

One of my youngest son’s favourite books was “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. He wanted me to sing the song every night before going to sleep.

Several years later, I attended a writer’s conference and Munsch was the keynote speaker. He read that book and even sang the song I always sang. My first thought though was – he wasn’t singing it correctly! I did get him to sign the book though – it is now my most treasured book.

It is also a book that I read regularly to my students – at least until my Mom died in 2008. After that I just could not read it.

What treasured books do you remember reading to your children?

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March Slice of Life – Day 29: Books!

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Today is Day 29 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

This morning I read Fran’s slice “Books I will read?” and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. She shared some interesting facts and asked some questions.

Now that I have retired I have been reading so much more than when I was teaching. Then, I would be lucky to read one book a month and I hardly got to the library at all (except the school’s).

Now, I usually read a book a day – from a variety of genres. And I order books online from the library several times a week.

Fran asked about whether we recorded books read – and I do – first in my weekly/monthly planner, so that I have a paper trail. I also record them on Goodreads (altho I am behind), although I do not usually leave a comment. I like that I can see how many of each genre I read – that gives me a nudge I’m neglecting certain genres. (I enter contests there as well – I finally won another one last week.

I am trying not to buy too many books – I really have tooo many books, especially TBR books. Costco is a bad habit – altho I am getting better at resisting new books there.

My last two purchases were 2 books by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and I am so looking forward to reading her memoirs.

As I looked back over the books I’ve read this year today, I had a few discoveries:

  1. I am reading a lot more ebooks, especially fantasies and sci fi (Freebooksy and BookBub are good sources for free ebooks – which is where I have discovered some new writers)
  2. I have read a lot of picture books
  3. I have discovered some new authors/series:

-Darynda Jones (I’m on her 7th book of her fantasy series)

-Susan Grant (ebook sci fi)

-Sarah Morgan (romance)

-Erin Bedford (fantasy ebooks)

  1. I have read some fabulous MG novels:

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur

Magyk by Angie Sage

Wish by Barbara O’Connor

  1. Two favourite books this year so far:

Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anders

Star Princess by Susan Grant

 

I can’t wait to discover more great books this year.

What would you recommend??

March Slice of Life – Day 28 and A to Z Theme Reveal

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Today is Day 28 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Hard to believe that we are almost at the end of this round of March SOL. I am at the end of writing A to Z.

I had decided not to participate in the April Blogging From A to Z Challenge. I had done it for several years, usually with an art component. So I am late coming to the Theme Reveal for this challenge.

By mistake I ordered Encyclopedia of Me by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

AKR E of Methumb_eom

instead of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life.

AKR ordinary thumb_eoaol

(I am still waiting for my copy of Amy’s memoir). I was originally going to return it and my local bookstore would have taken it back, even though it was my mistake,  but then as I looked at it closer, I realized how serendipitous it was. I knew I had to keep the book and fill it “with the breathings of my heart” (from William Wordsworth)

Here I had just finished writing A to Z posts for the March Slice of Life, looking at memories. This book would be perfect to use for the A to Z April Challenge and it would allow me to do 2 things:

  1. Keep writing daily
  2. delve further into my memories and write more stories

 

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So, for the 2017 April Challenge Theme Reveal, I am going to use the Encyclopedia of Me to write daily stories.

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Here’s the link to the April challenge if you’d like to participate and continue writing daily.

 

March Slice of Life – Day 27: Z

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Today is Day 27 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Z is for Zzzzzzzzzzz

Catching Zzzzzzzz or sleeping, should be pretty straightforward. You go to bed, close your eyes, sleep for 7 or 8 hours and then wake up refreshed.

I wish it was that easy. For as long as I can remember, I have had bouts of sleeplessness. I go to bed and then lie awake for 20, 30 minutes. Often, I have a scene running through my head or I am rehashing events. I finally get up, to write out that scene or jot in my journal or even just to read.  12:30 becomes 1:30 or even 2 or 3.

Since developing arthritis in my hips, I have developed sleep apnea. Which means I now use a C-Pap machine. So I can check on the machine just how much sleep I did get (or at least how long the C-Pap was on).

With the new fit-bit though, I am able to see the patterns of sleep. It is showing that I am restless several times a night.

Studies show just how beneficial sleep is. I wish I could just fall asleep and stay asleep.

Any suggestions??

March Slice of Life – Day 26: Y

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Today is Day 26 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

Y is for Yesterday

When I think of my yesterdays, I think of two quotes that point to two aspects of one’s yesterdays:

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.  Albert Einstein
Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.  Bill Keane

Yes, yesterday is the past, but we do need to learn from it.

When I turned 65 in January (just writing that makes me feel old), I decided that I would start writing a memoir by recording my memories.

I had read Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend From Far Away and was very taken with her book about writing memoir. Throughout, she shared her own memories/stories and provided 10 minute exercise to prod our memories and get our stories down.

As she said in the intro:

Write down who you were, who you are and what you remember.

I really like that notion of growth – who we were and who we are now.

Her first exercise was to just pick up a “fast” pen and write for 10 minutes, using one of several sentence starters:

I am looking at…

I am thinking of…

I remember…

And then, to do this several times.

Over the past month or so I have been using the last sentence starter and have created a long list of things I remember. Some I have expanded – some even for this year’s SOL. I am always amazed at what I unearthed.

But at times, the memories are so faint or even non-existent, it scares me. I want to remember and I want to learn.

I aim to keep turning to Goldberg’s book for inspiration as I continue to write about my yesterdays.

March Slice of Life – Day 25: X

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Today is Day 25 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

X is for Xenophobia

Xenophobia was chosen as the 2016 Word of the Year by Dictionary.com. They described why:

“This year, some of the most prominent news stories have been centered around

itself fear of the “other”.”

The word only appeared in the 1800s and is of Greek origin:

xenos  = stranger, guest

phobos = fear, panic

 

Dictionary.com defines xenophobia as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers”.

We have seen that rise of fear of Muslims especially. The exit of Britain from the EU, the rise of populism in Europe and the Trump effect and rise of the alt right in the U.S. all point to the rising xenophobia in the world.

Here in Canada (as well as in the U.S.), we have always had racism. But this new virulent hatred is scary, especially when our own government officials ramp it up.

We cannot return to the colonial mindset, where white was right. Our world has now become so much smaller. Every culture has as much right to prosper as any other.

I was very fortunate to have have had the opportunity throughout my life to meet and learn from people from many different cultures and races. My first long term boyfriend was from Tanzania; my oldest son’s father was Metis. Friends from Ghana, Hong Kong, South Africa and India to name a few, have enriched my life. I have had so many students from different countries and felt blessed to have taught them. Diversity expands our lives, adds texture and beauty to our lives.

We are stronger when we work together. Hatred and attacks speak of narrow, small, ugly minds and hearts.

We must fight against this rising tide of ignorant, hate-filled minds. We are all human; no one is any better than anyone else. United we stand; divided we fall.

 

I leave you with 2 poems:

A Poem for Africans Against Xenophobia by Dudu Samantha Ngobeni

Xenophobia by Janine Jacobs

And some quotes.

“Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”
― Abraham Lincoln

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela

“Our love of lockstep is our greatest curse, the source of all that bedevils us. It is the source of homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, terrorism, bigotry of every variety and hue, because it tells us there is one right way to do things, to look, to behave, to feel, when the only right way is to feel your heart hammering inside you and to listen to what its timpani is saying.”
― Anna Quindlen

“Diversity is an aspect of human existence that cannot be eradicated by terrorism or war or self-consuming hatred. It can only be conquered by recognizing and claiming the wealth of values it represents for all.”
― Aberjhani,

“The job facing American voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.”
― Aberjhani

 

“I resolutely believe that respect for diversity is a fundamental pillar in the eradication of racism, xenophobia and intolerance. There is no excuse for evading the responsibility of finding the most suitable path towards the elimination of any expression of discrimination against indigenous peoples.”

– Rigoberta Menchu, Nobel Peace Prize winner who dedicated her life to raise awareness on the plight of Guatemala’s indigenous’ persecutions.

 

 

March Slice of Life – Day 24: W

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Today is Day 24 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

W is for Writing

Advice given by writers over and over again stresses that the absolute must is writing daily.

From Stephen King:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

To Anne Lamott

Butt in chair. Start each day anywhere. Let yourself do it badly. Just take one passage at a time. Get butt back in chair.

 to Larry L. King

Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.

to Ray Bradbury

Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.

– that advice is very telling.

I love Brian Clark’s “10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer”:

Write.

Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.”
Writing the daily slice has definitely helped with that.

But for too long, my writing has been haphazard. I get an idea, write it down and walk away. I think of a scene, write it down and file it.

I have taken part in a number of challenges and have taken a number of courses. But daily writing has not been consistent.

That talk of “monkey brain” or “inner editor” has a strong hold on me. I have so many stories in first draft – the revision and editing seems to be on hold. It’s as if that mean inner editor has determined my writing doesn’t deserve to be edited. Nobody would want it anyway.

But daily slices have encouraged me and made me excited about writing again. They may be short but they have been daily. I have even been writing other things as well and have started revising several stories.

The habit is forming and I have enjoyed the writing, the feedback and this wonderful community of writers.

March Slice of Life -Day 23: V

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Today is Day 23 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

V is for…

All day I went back and forth, trying to decide what to write about. I thought knowing the letter V would give me fewer choices and so would be easier. NOT!

First, I thought I’d write about vacations

-favourite vacations– Vancouver, Cayman Island and Scotland

-most visited – Saratoga

-farthest north – Tuktoyuktuk

But then I thought – maybe vehicles – and write about the loss of my car (ex took it) and buying a used sporty model – oh yeah.

But no – okay – how about being vegan and vegetarian? My daughter is vegan and keeps trying to encourage me to go this way. Not ready yet – so no.

Then I thought, okay how about violin – my favourite instrument and wishing I had one my grandfather made.

Then I had the idea of writing about vampires – how I couldn’t stand to see or read the Twilight series, but then got so involved in the Sookie Stackhouse series and am now watching the True Blood series.

But no. Well then – Viking? (I do have Norwegian ancestry); violets  (that I can’t seem to keep alive?  Volleyball (and coaching a group even tho I never had coached before?

Nope none of those would do either.

Finally, I realized it was there all the time – Vancouver, Vancouver Island and Victoria – places we visited in 2008, the summer after my Mom died. Bill and I loved the cities and the travelling. We toured all over and would have gladly stayed much, much longer. There was so much to see and we only saw a bit.

And now I am so, so late. I got reading this evening and just read, til I realized I had not completed my slice in time. But at least I finally wrote and have a slice after all that back and forth questioning.

March Slice of Life – Day 22:

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Today is Day 22 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

U is for Umbrella

Whenever I think of umbrellas now, the first image that comes to mind is a yellow umbrella. And it reminds me of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her inspiring words and works.

I have read her wonderful picture books for years. But this week I read and reread many of her books:

I Wish You More

Plant a Kiss

That’s Me Loving You

I’ve also been watching her videos:

The Lovely Beckoning

The Money tree

Seven Notes on Life

All were so inspiring.

“I Wish You more” inspires us to be more, give more, think more, connect more.

She encourages us to invite the lovely into our lives, to make something beautiful.

On her birthday, April 29, everyone is encouraged to do “#More _”. What a wonderful gift/tribute to Amy and the world.

“We need to beckon enough lovely to save the world.”

 

(For more about the “I Wish You More” check here for Chronicle Books tribute)

March Slice of Life – Day 21: T

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Today is Day 21 of the March Slice of Life – the daily writing challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.

 

T is for Teacher

I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a teacher. I would line up my dolls and hold school. When I tried that with my brothers it did not go so well.

One of my first summer jobs was a playground supervisor. I planned activities, supervised 20 – 30 children each morning and loved it.

On my first day of teacher’s college, the dean said that we would be lucky if 50% of us found a teaching job when we graduated. I was determined to be in the 50% who found a job.

And I did get that first teaching job – in the NWT, where I stayed  three years, teaching kindergarten, gr. 2 and home ec.

My second job came after a year of looking back in Ontario. I was a single mom by then and with a two year old I headed west to Alberta to take a grade one job in a farming community on northern Alberta. I had to go where I could teach.

Back in Alberta several years later, I got teaching jobs with three different boards, finally ending up in Brantford where I ended my teaching career, after 36 years.  I had taught kindergarten to grade 4, ESL and even adult ed classes.

After almost four years of retirement, I still miss teaching. I miss the students, the interactions, the daily reading of books, the laughter, the special projects.

I still think of myself as a teacher and I probably always will.