Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Secrets Whispered

This month in the Teach Write Academy, we have a list of November prompts that are words and phrases created to inspire writing. What I love about these prompts is that I never know where they are going to take me. What words are going to come. What memories I am going to find.

One of the prompts last week was "whispered secrets." These two words begged for a poem, and after trying out several forms, a skinny was created. 

The Skinny Poem is short poem form that consists of eleven lines. The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words from the first and opening line (however, they can be rearranged). The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must be comprised of ONLY one word. The Skinny was created by Truth Thomas in the Tony Medina Poetry Workshop at Howard University in 2005.

Whispered secrets
secrets whispered.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

Lost Memories #TeachWritetober22

I walk into a room, and I forget why I am there.

I see someone I know and can't remember her name.

I am in the middle of teaching, and I grasp for a word floating around in my mind, just out of my cognizant reach.

I know this is a regular part of aging, but when dementia grows two generations deep, I feel fear. A fear that I will be next.

My writing life has become even more important to me because I want to remember. I want to keep my thoughts and my stories safe. 

We've been making difficult decisions with my mom since last May. Parenting a parent is not easy, especially when we have to take things away from her. As she continues to decline, her memory loss makes it easier at times. Simply because she doesn't remember.

This week for our #TeachWritetober writing challenge, our prompt was to write a haiku about something that scares us. I am living that fear each time I walk into my mother's house, afraid that she will not remember who I am. I know that day is coming.

with faraway eyes
her present becomes my fear
of lost memories

Monday, June 6, 2022

The Journey Begins


I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to write this blog post but then didn't because I kept telling myself this story isn't mine to tell.

Lately, I have closed my computer and wondered, "Maybe someone else needs to hear this story so they don't feel so alone or feel like a "bad daughter."

So this is how my story begins.

I have become a new kind of parent. The parent of a parent. And I have found that this stage in my life is much more difficult than parenting either of my own children.

My mother is one of the strongest, bravest, and most driven women I know. At the age of 40, she found herself divorced and raising four kids on her own. Without knowing a single person, she moved four hours away from our hometown to start a new life.

Mom worked in the automotive industry, an industry that was dominated by men. She worked for companies based out of China and Japan, where women were typically not promoted into higher management positions. She moved and lived in China for two years where she helped open a new plant in Shanghai. She didn't know a single person, but she became very successful.

Sadly, after all those challenges, she is now living the most difficult part of her 78 years of life. My mom is in the beginning stage of dementia. She tells the same stories over and over. She can't remember what she had to eat for lunch or why she is calling someone, but she can remember a childhood story with such clarity and vivid details.

The brain is such a complex organ. And each day my siblings and I try to understand it more. What we do know is that dementia has changed our mother. Each day becomes more difficult. 

We had to make some tough decisions this past week. Decisions that took away my mom's independence. And being on her own for almost half her life, independent has really been her life story.

We know these decisions, and the ones to come, are what is best for her even when she gets angry at us. Getting her to understand this, when reasoning skills are deteriorating, is not easy.

I want to keep the details of her story private, yet I know other people are writing the same chapters as we are. I hope by continuing to share parts of our journey, others will find comfort in them.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

My Mother's Hair #MemoirsinMay


This month in our Time to Write group with Teach Write, we are writing five five-sentence memoirs in this fifth month of year using five prompts from five of our favorite books on writing. Week three we are using a prompt from Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones Card Deck.:  Tell me about your mother’s hair (or an aunt’s, grandmother’s, stepmother’s, sister’s). Texture, color, how they wore it, did they dye it? The salon or beauty parlor they went to? How about their hands--or feet?

When I was little, every Saturday morning, Mom would go to the “beauty shop” and have her hair washed, set, and curled. How did she ever go that long between shampoos? From high bouffant with a hairpiece to frosted shag to curly perms to finally learning how to use a curling iron on her own. Time moves on, and history repeats itself. Washing her hair is back to once a week…or on days when she remembers.

My Metaphorical Pocket #MemoirsinMay


This month in our Time to Write group with Teach Write, we are writing five five-sentence memoirs in this fifth month of year using five prompts from five of our favorite books on writing. Week two we are using a prompt from Handling the Truth by Beth Gephart:  Empty your “metaphorical ”pockets.” Choose one object from your past that matters most. Why do you keep it close? Why is it irreplaceable? Tell its story.

In my closet hangs a belted cream dress with a gathered peplum circling the tiny waist. Thirty-two years ago, I wore it standing next to my soon-to-be husband in an almost empty church. We said our vows and began our new life together while my sister-in-law took pictures. Little did I know the film was not loaded properly. This little cream dress hanging in my closet, along with my memories, is all I have left of that special night.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Girl Outside My Window #MemoirsinMay

This month in our Time to Write group with Teach Write, we are writing five five-sentence memoirs in this fifth month of year using five prompts from five of our favorite books on writing. Week one is from Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend from Far Away:  What was outside your (childhood) bedroom window?

Outside my bedroom of our two-story house, I see a young girl who doesn’t hide her head under her tear-stained pillow, blocking out the yelling and fighting. She never wonders if her dad will come home late at night or if she will smell the beer on his breath. Instead, she runs into her daddy’s waiting arms and is greeted with a hug and a kiss on top of the head. He swings her around until she giggles and asks, “How was your day today?”

How I longed to be that girl outside my window.

A Time for Reflection

Reflection is a big part of my teaching life. I try to show my students the importance of reflection and how we can use that reflection to make changes in our learning, our growing, and our life.

We have two weeks left in our school year, so my students completed a year-end reflection on Friday. The questions range from reflecting on their own reading and writing life to ways I can make our classroom better to what was their favorite book. I use their answers to make adjustments to my own teaching practices and improvements to my classroom library.

As I was reading through their responses this morning, one in particular made me pause. If I had to describe this student, I would say she is rather shy, doesn't talk much, and doesn't like attention, which makes getting to her know a little difficult. It was during our narrative unit back in the fall where I felt like I really met her for the first time.

Her narrative had elements of writing that are difficult to teach, especially to 6th graders. Her vocabulary is well-advanced for her age and her voice shined in this piece. The first words I wrote on her feedback sheet were:

"You are a writer!"

As we continued to write throughout the year, I could see her confidence growing. I could see her standing just a little bit taller when she came to class. I could see her smiling. 

But I didn't realize the full impact until I read her reflection.

In one response she wrote, "I loved her positivism to my writing, which made me feel good about how much effort I put into the essays."

And in another, "I haven't liked writing that much until only last semester, which after first semester and writing a personal narrative essay, I found out of my new passion."

The power of words. A simple statement of acknowledgment that says, "I see you" can make all the difference.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Sunday, April 24, 2022



This 100 day project is not going to happen in 100 days, but creation takes time. Especially at the end of a school year!

Here are two of  the latest in my collection of snippet poems.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Progressive Poem 2022


I am the latest stop on the Progressive Poem journey - and what a journey it has been! When I saw this year's poem was inspired by lines from novels and books and songs, I knew the book I wanted to use, yet I was worried it wouldn't fit in with the poem. This week, I skimmed, reread, and marked parts of the book, hoping one of them would work. And I think it does.

My interpretation of the poem is that we are all on a journey, which sometimes takes us to unexpected places--even when we don't want an adventure. When I listen and heed the call, I begin to dance and dream and discover that the whole world is a place of beauty, but through this experience I also learn the value of  home.

I took a line from one of the last chapters of Tuck Everlasting and adapted it as we head back home and think about how our own journey changes us. We change by the lessons we learn and the people we meet along the way. I also thought about the wonderful life journey of Margaret's father as he begins to find his way "home."

Here is the current poem with my line added at the end.

Where they were going, there were no maps.

   Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today.

Take the adventure, heed the call, now ere the irrevocable moment passes!

   We have to go back. I forgot something.

But it’s spring, and the world is puddle-wonderful,

so we’ll whistle and dance and set off on our way.

Come with me, and you’ll be in a land of pure imagination.

Wherever you go, take your hopes, pack your dreams, and never forget –

 it is on our journeys that discoveries are made.

And then it was time for singing.

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountain, paint with all the colors of the wind, freewheeling through an endless diamond sky?

Suddenly, they stopped and realized they weren’t the only ones singing.

Listen, a chattering of monkeys! Let’s smell the dawn 
and taste the moonlight, we’ll watch it all spread out before us.
The moon is slicing through the sky. We whisper to the tree, 
tap on the trunk, imagine it feeling our sound.
Clouds of blue-winged swallows, rain from up the mountains,

Green growing all around, and the cool splash of the fountain.

If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden,

a bright, secret, quiet place, and rather sad; 
 and they stepped out into the middle of it.

Their minds’ libraries and lightning bugs led them on.

The darkwood sings, the elderhist blooms, the sky lightens; listen and you will find your way home.

The night sky would soon be painted, stars gleaming overhead, a beautiful wild curtain closing on the day.

Mud and dusk, nettles and sky – time to cycle home in the dark. 

There are no wrong roads to anywhere

lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove.

Standing at the fence of the cottage, 
    I hear the new note in the voices of the birds.

I added more white space in hopes that it would be the first line in the final stanza as we wrap up this week. If this doesn't work, feel free to change it. Take it from here, Marcie!

The source list:
1. The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories, by Emily Winfield Martin
2. The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
3. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
5. inspired by “[in Just-]” by E. E. Cummings
6. “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
7. Maybe by Kobi Yamada
8. Sarah, Plain, and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
9. inspired by Disney songs “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas
10. The Other Way to Listen by Byrd Baylor
11. adapted from Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman
12. adapted from The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron
13. adapted from On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer
14. adapted from a line in Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
15. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
16. Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
17. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
18. Kate DiCamillo’s The Beatryce Prophecy
19. The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith
20. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
21. ThePhantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
22. Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen
23. adapted from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Friday, April 22, 2022

Power is a Desperate Kiss #MetaphorDice

It is National Poetry Month, and I am joining many others in writing, reading, sharing, and celebrating poetry (occasionally) this month. I am participating in a challenge with my Time to Write writing group where we are trying a different form every day inspired by a fun word of the day. 

This week, Teach Write hosted a poetry writing night, where we gathered together to write and share our poetry. Today's poem was a found poem inspired by the word create.

I played with my metaphor dice and choose these words from my roll to create my found poem.

Power is a desperate kiss,
which is to say, sometimes
we cling a little too long
to that which doesn't last,

sometimes making us heady,
and wanting more,
only to be left
holding regrets from a 
brief moment in time.

Join the poetry round-up with Margaret at Reflections on the Teche.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

It's the Small Things

I am joining Two Writing Teachers today and sharing a small piece of my day.

Three times a grading period, we have a list of root words that we study. Pre-pandemic, I always began the lesson by giving them a root, having them turn and talk and find words with the root in them. Next, as a class, we choose three words to define. We act like word detectives and study the meanings of the three words and use those meanings to determine the meaning of the root. 

Simple procedure that gets them thinking and playing with words - one of my favorite things to do!

Like many things these last two years, this procedure had to change. No turn and talk with partners nor with small groups due to COVID restrictions and mandates. 

Today for the first time since March of 2020, we played with words in small groups. At first it seemed so foreign to all of us because we had been spread out across the room all year. But there was a buzz throughout the room.

Today, they were playing. They were engaged. They were learning.

And this teacher was smiling once again.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

#100DayProject Found Poetry

Thank you Poetry Friday crew for always being so welcoming. I float in and out of this gathering, and I appreciate the kindness extended when I do return. This week's round-up is hosted by Janice at Salt City Verse.

My poetry project for this month has been rocky. But for good and exciting reasons. I have been nominated for two different teacher of the year awards these past few weeks, and I have been working on getting that material together. Exciting but the stress has left me little time for writing.

I also began a #100DayProject to dedicate a short amount of time each day to create. One of my favorite ways to create is through found poetry using words from magazines. In the past, I have written them on black construction paper and then put the words back into my stash. With this project, I finally bought a sketchbook, and I am gluing them in it. 

Today I share with you numbers 4-6. Click here to see 1-3.

I hope to get back into my monthly project this weekend - I have some catching up to do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

#100DayProject -Time to Create


After finishing the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge, you would think I would take some time off. from publishing every day. 

But no. 

It is April and that means National Poetry Month. My goal is to write a poem everyday for the month with my Teach Write group. 

I have already extended myself some grace because I have had some projects that I need to get finished, so my poem writing has gotten off to a very slow start.

I have also started a #100DayProject where I am focusing on one small creativity project for just a short amount of time each day. You would think my poetry project would work for this too.

But no.

I have a large collection of words that I have cut out from magazines. I love taking these words and creating short found poems. There is something very therapeutic about running my hands through all of these words and arranging them to create something fun or beautiful.

In the past, I have used black paper construction paper as a "canvas" and then put the words back after I took a picture. I wanted to start collecting my poems, so I bought a large sketch book where I am gluing them. I like what I have done so far, and I like that I have a "published" book of found poems.

Today, I share my first three pages.

I am joining Two Writing Teachers today and sharing a small piece of my day.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Joys from A to Z #SOSMagic

A flower blossoms for its own joy.

[Oscar Wilde]

An ABC list of my joys. 

all baked goods made from scratch
bubble bath at the end of a long day
cherry pie day - warm of course
Dr. Teals sleep lotion
Ethan - my skateboarder and rocker
Friday night pizza
green - as in kiwi, olive, and shamrock
hot summer days in the pool with my sister
iced tea, freshly brewed on a hot summer day
July 27th celebrating 32 years of marriage
knowing my children are safe and happy
Lincoln High School friends - my EJDs
Megan - my teacher and basketball coach
notebooks filled with words
outrageous collections of pens
porch time on fall evenings
quilts made from scraps
reading my endless pile of books.
sending positive notes home to parents
time with my amazing colleagues
under the blankets on winter nights
very warm fires on very cold days
writing and capturing small moments of my day
x-tra light in my days
yesterdays, where memories are kept
Z-z-z-z (a good night's sleep)

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Life's Ditty #NationalPoetryMonth

It is National Poetry Month, and I am joining many others in writing, reading, sharing, and celebrating poetry every day (hopefully) this month. I am participating in a challenge with my Time to Write writing group where we are trying a different form every day inspired by a fun word of the day. Welcome to my Journey with Poetry and Words.

Today's form is a limerick and the word was scatterbrain. I'm not sure what scatterbrain has to do with this poem, but the silliness was what came to mind. 

There once was girl from the city
who danced though life with a ditty.
With rhythm and rhyme
time after time,
she thought she was always quite witty!

Check out the Kidlit Progressive Poem, which is being organized by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. A different poet adds a line each day for the month of April. You can find the poem's journey below.

April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem
2 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
3 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, April 1, 2022

Poetic License #NationalPoetryMonth


It is National Poetry Month, and I am joining many others in writing, reading, sharing, and celebrating poetry every day (hopefully) this month. I am participating in a challenge with my Time to Write writing group where we are trying a different form every day inspired by a fun word of the day. Welcome to my "Journey with Poetry and Words".

Today's poem is a nonet, which is a nine-line poem with a decreasing syllable count and the word was "rules". When I am writing, I love being a rule-breaker! And that is where my mind went. In order for this to work, you have to read line four ramble + ing. See, breaking the rules already today!


Breaking the rules of language or style
to get a desired effect:
a one-sentence paragraph
a rambling run-on or
a well-place fragment.
My writer's rights.

Check out the Kidlit Progressive Poem, which is being organized by Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. A different poet adds a line each day for the month of April. The poem's journey begins with Irene.

April 1 Irene at Live Your Poem

I am also linking up with the Poetry Friday bunch and Heidi has the round-up.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Write What Matters #SOL22

 My thoughts are not what I expected for today. I thought I would be spent and exhausted, and my ideas dried up. After writing and posting and commenting for thirty-one days, that easily happens.

But it didn't this time.

After spending the month looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary and mundane tasks of the day, I have my writing life back. I woke up this morning and was still looking for stories and thinking about how I could serve that up in a slice. When I realized I didn't need an idea for today, I was a little disappointed. A part of me doesn't want the month to end.

I haven't felt this in a very long time.

After listening to Tom Romano on Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher's video, I took his book, Write What Matters off the shelf and began rereading it. The first line in the book says, "Writing matters to me."

There were many days during this challenge where I was disappointed. I began to question my ability to write. Was I not interesting or engaging enough? Did I rely too much on the different forms and not enough on story? Did I publish too late? Is this life stage not what people want to read about?

I never did find the answers to these questions, and that is ok. What I did learn this month is what Romano says, "writing matters to ME." 

And that's what I needed to learn this time around. This challenge is for me. 

Thank you to those of you who took the time to read and comment on my posts this month. I truly appreciate you. And a big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating this space and this time to write what matters.

I plan to continue my writing journey thought the month of April as I dabble in poetry in several places. I hope you will join me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Just a Little Note #SOL22

Each grading period we are asked to write three positive notes home to parents. We keep a spreadsheet marking who has received a card to ensure that we reach as many kids possible. This is one of those things that I always put off until the last minute, and I don't know why. It's not that I don't like to do it, but it is just one more thing on the never-ending teacher to-do list.

Tonight as I made my weekly trip to Wal-Mart, I saw a student walking in as I was going to check out. A center aisle separated us, but I made sure that she saw me and heard me say hello. As we passed each other, I saw her run up to her dad and say, "Dad, that's..." 

I didn't hear what she said because I was in a hurry to check out and beat the rain that was coming. As I walked up to my self-checkout, I turned around, and her dad was standing behind me.

"I'm sorry, but I just wanted to thank you for the kind words you wrote about Hannah."

"You are welcome. She is a gifted writer, and I enjoy reading her writing. I just wanted you to know how talented she is and how much I enjoy having her in class. I meant every word I wrote."

We finished our conversation, and I left with a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and another reminder of the power of our words.

Please join Two Writing Teachers and the annual Slice of Life March Challenge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Lumberjack #SOL22

In our neighborhood we don't gather much with neighbors. We give the neighborly wave as we come and go down the dead-end street, but it takes a summer storm, an ambulance, or an outdoor project to round us up.

Or cutting a tree down. 

This month one neighbor had a tree taken down due to electric lines. They had a crew from a big local company that was too big for the job as many of them sat in our yard and watched. After the job was finished, we all gathered around and chatted about who was getting the firewood and complained about what a terrible job they did cleaning up the mess and the damage caused to the neighbor's house.

The following week another neighbor had a tree cut down from a different trimmer. As the second tree was coming down, my husband says, "I think we should take the persimmon trees down. Do you think I should ask him if he will do it?"

"Whatever you think."

The second day comes, and my husband says, "Do you think we should take those persimmon trees down?"

"Whatever you want to do."

The next thing I know he is out there talking to the man, and the trees are coming down.

He is a one-man show today. He has been trimming trees all his life, and he knows what he is doing. Dressed in his Carhartt bibs and lumberjack red plaid shirt and cigarette dangling from his mouth, he quickly hops in the bucket truck, zips up and begins to trim the top limbs lickety-split. 

There is a pine tree on one side and a peach tree on the other; there is no room for error. He wraps a rope around the upper section of the tree and makes a cut. That piece of wood hit the ground like a dart hitting a bullseye. Precision at its finest.

Our neighbors came out and stood with us as we watched him cut that tree and drop those pieces like he was laying a baby in its crib. Not once missing his mark.

Less than an hour later all three trees were down, and one of the neighbors said, "I know tree trimming has some science behind it, but this is a work of art."


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 
share a slice of life during the month of March. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Book Spine Poem #SOL22

We are reaching the end of  March, a time when ideas seem to come a little less frequently and when I struggle to write a story that engages me, let alone engaging a reader.

This is the time when a spine poem comes to the rescue. I love perusing my book shelves, running my fingers along the spines, and  looking for titles that capture my attention and vie for a spot in a stack.

I have written spine poems six years out of the nine years I have participated in the challenge. Two years I was so desperate for a slice, I used spine poems twice!

Here is this year's offering.

Can you see me?

beyond the bright sea,

under the broken sky,

just under the clouds,

shouting at the rain--

the simple art of flying.


Join Two Writing Teachers and other teacher-writers as we 

share a slice of life during the month of March.  

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Spring is in the Air #SOSMagic


I am not a lover of spring. 

I don't like the unpredictable weather. I don't like the time change. And I don't like my pale skin and pastel colors typically associated with spring.

But I do love the scents of spring. I made a list in my notebook of the scents I associate with spring and this poem is a result.

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air
as an April shower
passes through
leaving everything
clean and fresh.

Spring is in the air
as the farmers 
till the sleepy soil and
awaken the
underground life
from its winter's rest.

Spring is in the air
as the lilacs
open and the 
peonies welcome
their tiny houseguests.

Spring is in the air
as the first blades of grass
are meticulously cut
and wild onions
grow with exuberance.

Spring is in the air
as overnight
the world dresses
in its deep, verdant green.

Spring is in the air.
Feel it.
Breathe it.
Become intoxicated
by the scented gifts it brings.

I’m joining an open community of writers over at Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog. If you write (or want to write) just for the magic of it, consider this your invitation to join us. #sosmagic