Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Collaging: A New Hobby #SOL23

Several years ago, I became a member of the #100DaysofNotebooking Facebook group, which was created by a friend of mine, Michelle Haseltine. It was a challenge to notebook for 100 days. They didn't have to be consecutive; they just had to be written.

I suffered from notebook envy. I loved the colorful artwork, doodles, and creativity writers added to their pages. I knew I could never do that. 

Or so I thought.

At some point, I came across journal pages that used collage--literally ripping up and gluing together torn pieces of paper. I could do that.

It wasn't as easy at it looked. And when I look at my early notebook pages, I realize just how bad I was. But I was determined to get better at this. I began to follow more people on Instagram and watched their videos on YouTube. It got a little easier.

I began buying supplies from craft stores (buying paper became an addiction!) and looking for ephemera like old books, music, magazines, and letters from thrift shops and antique stores. It has been almost two years since I started, and it has become my favorite hobby and personal therapy session.

Now, I am making collage bookmarks. People have told me that I should find places to sell them. But for now, I will just enjoy making them and giving them away to my reading friends.


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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Eclipse 2024 #SOL23

What are you doing on Monday, April 8, 2024 at 3:04 PM? On a normal day, I would be getting ready for dismissal. Just like I do on every school day.

But on this particular day, I won't be in school. Instead, I will be watching the solar eclipse. Me and about 200,000 other people in my small town of 16,000!

We are right smack dab in the middle of the path with 4 minutes and 6 seconds of totality--the longest in the state of Indiana. Because of our location, we are expecting quite the crowd. Schools are canceled due to the expected increase of traffic throughout the county. Our county has formed a committee to manage the logistics. I mean think about how are all these people going to eat and sleep and go to the bathroom?!? 

I know a lot of preparation is happening now, and it's a year away. The next solar eclipse in the United States will be in 20 years, but it takes 375 years for an eclipse to happen in the same location. I am excited, yet a little bit nervous, to be part of this once in a lifetime event.


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Monday, March 20, 2023

My Get-to-Do List #SOL23

I knew this day would come. It always does, but I lasted longer than I thought I would. Today is the first day I didn't have a slice ready to go the night before. I struggled last night with putting words down or even finding a moment to write about. So, I didn't write.

This morning is the first "official" day of my spring break. My son went back to where he lives (I refuse to call it home) and my husband is at work. I have the house to myself because my daughter is working out (which is what I should be doing). 

Usually breaks are a time for me to catch up on my home to-do list. You know things like cleaning--that chore that gets neglected during the school year.

Instead of focusing on my to-do list, I decided to avoid looking at the dust in the living room and the pile of school stuff on the dining room table, and the breakfast dishes in the sink and the ring around the bathtub, and I decided to create a spring break get-to-do list.

In no particular order, I get to...

  • be the last one to go to bed
  • stay in my pajamas as long as I want
  • read any book in any of my stacks
  • write in my notebook in a place that is not home
  • create collage bookmarks and mail them to friends
  • buy a new yearbook camera
  • shop for new spring clothes with my daughter 
  • go out for breakfast with my husband
  • take my son out for dinner
  • try a new recipe
  • walk in the afternoon
  • take naps
  • enjoy the small things

Yes, I am looking forward to completing my "get-to-do" list this week!


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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Not your typical Saturday #SOL23

It was a typical Saturday:  no alarm, Wordle, and breakfast. Because of the challenge this month, I grab my computer, link my slice, and dive into the world of commenting before getting ready for the day.

But this Saturday was different. 

As I snuggled under the blanket on the couch, my husband asked me if I would follow him to Walmart to get the oil changed in our son's car since he was home. We usually don't use Walmart's automotive services, but Ethan is only home on the weekends, so we did what we had to do. 

That turned into a big mistake.

We dropped the car off, and I returned home to shower before I ran my Saturday errands. Since I was going to Walmart to do some shopping, my husband asked, "Could you check on the car while you are there and let me know if it's ready. I'll bring Ethan and pick it up."

Sounded like a good plan. I approached the service area and asked if it was ready. The technician seemed a little confused, but I didn't think anything about it. When he said it had already been paid for, I should have known something was up.

I called my husband to ask him if he had paid for it when he dropped it off. Nope.

The tech kept looking in the service pouches, going out into the service area, and looking at the printed service tickets on the counter.

I knew then that something really was up; I just didn't know what.

He finally said, "It's ready. Just tell him to come and pick it up, and I'll have it figured out by the time he gets here."

I left and was finishing some more errands when my husband texted me:  "They lost the's a mess."

Long story short. They "lost" the fob (we actually think someone took it). Our oil change was never done. Another Chevrolet that was there at the same time got our oil change and never received the service they needed. Ethan's extra fob was at his apartment, one hour away. The car was locked, and we had no way of getting in.

They called in two managers, and they watched the security cameras to see if they could determine what happened to the fob. This is the same car that was stolen about a year ago, so my husband wasn't leaving until he had that fob in his hands. 

Almost four hours later our car was towed to our dealer where it will be kept in a secured service bay until Monday. They will have to order new fobs and reprogram them. My son received a loaner car that he will drive home, and we will have to trade cars with him once his is done.

What should have been a thirty-minute oil change turned into an all-day nightmare...that isn't even over yet.

So much for a typical Saturday, huh?

Edited to update:  Walmart management was very nice about the whole thing, and yes, they are paying for it. However, after all this happened, we have heard other similar stories. Some even worse than ours. We are grateful that even though our situation was frustrating, ours could be fixed.


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Saturday, March 18, 2023

No More Libraries #SOL23

Sometimes decisions are made that leave me scratching my head. I know that I don't always know why the decisions are made or what factors beyond my control are a part of the decision. And I get that. I am a teacher, not an administrator. I am not privy to information, especially when it comes to finances.

But I heard rumors of a decision in my district that leaves me questioning administrators and feeling very sad. 

A while back we had a posting for a STEM teacher in the elementary schools. My immediate thought was, "Oh that is interesting." I wondered about the logistics of adding that to their day, but I don't teach elementary, so I didn't give much more thought to it. 

But after what I heard this week, I am deeply concerned.

I was told our elementary librarians were being eliminated and being replaced by STEM teachers as a special class. I was even told that one principal allegedly said, "Libraries are becoming a thing of the past."

As a middle school reading teacher who has about 60% of her students not at proficiency and who has students who do not enjoy reading and who works who butt off to change that, I think this is a bad decision.

Am I wrong? Should I be concerned? But most importantly, can I do anything about it?


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Friday, March 17, 2023

I'm lucky because... #SOL23

In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I am listing 17 reasons (in no particular order) why I am lucky. I have done this post before, and this time I wrote this post before I looked at the previous years.

I am lucky because...

  1. I'm married to my best friend of almost 33 years.
  2. I am the mother of grown children.
  3. I have a daughter who is a teacher and coach and loves what she does.
  4. I have a son who works with at-risk kids and is a great role model for a lot of boys who need him.
  5. my mother still remembers me.
  6. I have siblings who work together to make the best decisions for our mother.
  7. I get to be with middle school kids and share books with them every single day.
  8. I have the best colleagues who make me laugh.
  9. I understand the power of written words.
  10. I am surrounded by books to read.
  11. I belong to the best supportive writing group ever.
  12. I have administrators who support me as a teacher and a learner and who want me to be my best self.
  13. I am in good health.
  14. I am free to live out my faith.
  15. I am on spring break next week.
  16. bath and a book (with Dr. Teals) is next on my to-do list!
  17. I have another slice written.


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Thursday, March 16, 2023

It's Party Time #SOL23

For the past several years, I have held a "Slicer Party." I have always questioned doing it because I didn't think it followed the challenge guidelines. But I was asked about it last night, so I thought I would oblige.

We are at the half-way point of the challenge, and this is usually where writers begin to struggle with finding ideas. As the month wraps up and when you need a slice, (and yes, you know it WILL happen!) accept this invitation to the slicer party.  The best part is that you can join the party anytime during the month when you are struggling or need a quick idea.

In the past, we have brought our five favorite things twice. Then I started getting a little more creative where we brought our IDs in the form of a when you met me slice, our favorite ways to take care of ourselves, and our favorite quotes and writing retreats. These slicer parties are a lot fun and would be a blast in real life.

This year, I am inviting you to think about your best colors. Back in the challenge of 2021, I came across this slice by a fellow slicer and decided to use it as your party RSVP.

"The best colors are everywhere because they are in the things I love." ~ Deborah Dillon

Here is what I would bring in the form of the best colors:

The best pink is the mum in my landscape that I have had for over 26 years, which was given to my daughter from my mother-in-law the year my son was born.

The best blue is the cerulean sky that welcomes me to the pool on hot summer days.

The best white is the blank page of a notebook waiting to be filled with words.

The best brown is the sandy beaches where I will sit this summer and let the ocean waves crash over my feet.

The best yellow are my brown eyed Susans, my favorite flower that I have around the perimeter of my front porch.

The best orange is the basketballs bouncing in the gym when I watch my daughter coach.

The best red is the jelly in jelly donuts because they remind me of my high school friends.

The best black is the nighttime sky when it can make the moon seem brighter.

The best green is the peeks of spring that always seem to brighten my mood.

I hope you consider coming to the party sometime this month by writing a slice about your favorite colors. Just let me know you have joined, and I will include you on the guest list down below. I can't wait to see who else is coming! 

Guest List

Erica J. from The Biblio Bard Blogger

Heather at Writing My Way

Cathy at Doodads and Doodles

Denise at Dare to Care


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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Can you feel it? #SOL23

Last week I was looking for a book I thought I had and spent too much time searching before I realized I had borrowed it from the library. While I was looking for it though, I came across a box of writing prompt ideas called The Storymatic Rememory Cards that I forgot I had. The box has three colors of cards: one is a person, one is the season, and the third is the memory.

I decided it would be fun to try this for a slice. My cards were a brother, sister or friend; summer; and speaking in front of people. So here goes!

Several summers ago, my sister, a teacher from another county district and I planned a summer EdCamp for our county that included three school districts. We held it toward the end of our summer break, which here in Indiana is late July. 

That same summer, I had been walking to music on a YouTube video. (The absolute best way to walk!) It was 70s music, and I loved walking to its beat. One of the songs was "Can You Feel It" from the Jacksons, and it quickly became my favorite. I would find myself bebopping down the road keeping the beat with each step I took.

One night I was listening to it and thought, "What a fun theme for the conference!" It was the end of the summer when teachers were beginning to think about getting into their classrooms and may or may not be "feeling it" yet, and playing this upbeat music while we walked between sessions might add a little fun.

And it did! When I welcomed everyone that morning, we played that song, and everyone was walking around with a little extra pep in their step. We would walk by a group of teachers and ask, "Can you feel it yet?" I really do think it helped teachers get their minds focused on learning and getting back into the swing of things. 

Yes, we were feeling it, and if you listen to it, I bet you will feel it too!


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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

How is your writing life going? #SOL23

This past weekend I attended and presented at a conference at Notre Dame (which is giving me more slices than I ever anticipated!).  Friday night, Donalyn Miller gave a keynote about reading lives and how people, adults and children, are struggling with finding that reading joy again.

It was a phenomenal keynote, and at one point, she had us turn and talk about how our reading life was going. The room buzzed with conversations from every table. 

My presentation was on journaling as a way to well-being. I decided to add that question to start off my presentation:  "How is your writing life going?" 

After asking this, some just looked at me with a blank stare, some looked down, and some let out a chuckle. It was obvious to everyone there; writing was not something they did regularly.

I asked them what the last thing was they wrote outside of school. When the only things mentioned were a grocery list and a to-do list, I knew this audience needed to hear what I had to say.

Since we are a part of this writing community, we understand the importance of having a writing life. But it's also important why we must continue to share its value with others who are willing to listen.


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Monday, March 13, 2023

Thinking About Read-Aloud #SOL23

I have been thinking about read-aloud lately. 

Maybe it's because on Wednesday, I read the last chapter in our class novel, and every student was either following along in their books or were listening intently as I read every word. The room was silent; it was wonderful.

Maybe it's because I listened to Donalyn Miller Friday night and her words stuck with me: "We don't age out of read-alouds. If we did, audiobooks would not be on the rise for adults."

Maybe it's because I listened to Neal Shusterman Sunday morning, and he told a story about how he was a summer camp counselor, and the way he got kids to settle down for bed was by telling them stories. As he was telling teachers from across the country his story about his thoughts and ideas behind writing Challenger Deep and Scythe, the entire audience was hanging on his every word, as if we were the kids at camp.

Or maybe, it's because of all three.


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Sunday, March 12, 2023

I Forgot My Socks! #SOL23

I arrived in South Bend Friday afternoon for a conference. Knowing I would be traveling almost five hours, I wore comfortable clothes. That evening was a reception with opening remarks and keynote with Donalyn Miller.

I decided to freshen up little and change clothes. I unzipped my bag and took out my shoes, sticking my had inside to get my socks. (I always stuff socks in my shoes to save room.) 

But they weren't in there. I looked under a few clothing items and found my navy socks, but those weren't the ones I needed. I needed the ones that were supposed to be in my shoes. 

The ones I left at home.

I had one pair of pair of socks to wear all weekend. Looking on the bright least I remembered to pack my underwear!


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Saturday, March 11, 2023

Getting My Brave On #SOL23

When I look at my teaching career, I see many fingerprints of others embedded in my practices. Kelly Gallager, Penny Kittle, Ruth Ayres, and Donalyn Miller just to name a few.

But Donalyn Miller was the first. After my first year of teaching, I read The Book Whisperer and my teaching was forever changed. She affirmed what I believed as a young teacher and gave me the strength and knowledge to do something that no one else was doing or even believed was the right way to do things.

The first time I saw Donalyn in person was at the All Write conference in Warsaw, Indiana back in 2014. I am an introvert, so I was too intimidated to go and meet her. I then saw her present at NCTE in Houston and Baltimore. Again, I was not brave enough to introduce myself.

Social media has changed my teaching and has opened the door to many opportunities. It has helped me to come out of my shell a little when presented with opportunities to meet people in person.

Finally, last night this only took 10 years!


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Friday, March 10, 2023

Currently #SOL23

Between deadlines and presentation preparation and packing for a weekend conference, I am relying on a tried and true I-need-a-quick slice on Thursday night for Friday morning's call for slices!

I am currently...

worrying about the snow forecast in South Bend for tomorrow.

thinking about my journaling presentation on Saturday.

hearing nothing but silence and maybe the slight snore of my husband in the other room.

writing with some of my Teach Write friends during our new "Write Before Bed" time.

eating a cheese stick because I was diagnosed as prediabetic in December.

wanting some of those Oreo cookies in the kitchen.

remembering that I haven't played Wordle yet today.

hoping I am able to turn off my brain and go to sleep tonight.


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Thursday, March 9, 2023

Slicing to a Deadline #SOL23

I am a yearbook staff and procrastinator of one. The clock was ticking, so here is a timeline slice about making my deadline!

Wednesday, February 1:  materials were given to me and told the deadline was March 1 (although I know I have longer than this!)

Monday, February 20:  logged in for the first time and had problems. Nothing started.

Saturday, February 25:  successfully logged in but could not upload pictures-Gave up and went to bed with nothing started yet again.

Sunday, February 26:  tried again---discovered my Google account was "paused" so the program didn't recognize me. Process began!

Wednesday, March 1:  deadline date--took the day off to complete start it. After a full day's work, sent email to our photographer (she's in charge) with five issues I couldn't fix. Everything else was done!

Thursday, March 2:  she forwarded the problems to the yearbook company.

Friday, March 3:   sent a follow up email. Didn't hear anything.

Monday, March 6:  four issues were fixed, leaving one more to finish.

Tuesday, March 7:  received the information to add color to the background--last thing to do.

Wednesday, March 8:  felt really stupid because I let technology get the better of me. 

Thursday, March 9:  should be submitted today!


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Wednesday, March 8, 2023

He knows; he always knows #SOL23

"He knows; he always knows."  is a line from the movie, A Christmas Story. My family watches the 24-hour marathon starting on Christmas Eve and running through Christmas night and can recite most of this movie.

But these words have taken on a different meaning over the last few years.

The other night my husband made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up just a few items. He comes back with a large bag of Oreos--one of my daughter's favorite cookies.

They talk about Oreos, laugh about Oreos, put Oreos on their eyes. You know, those stupid little things "adults" do.

It wasn't long after the Oreos were eaten that Megan was scrolling through Facebook. And what should appear, an ad for Oreos. She never searched for Oreos or typed in Oreos on her phone, but there they were.

So yes, he knows; he always knows, and to me, that is very worrisome.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Life Equation #SOL23

   1 presentation - 4 days  =  lots of stress
not finished yet                     

I have had several deadlines this month...and yes I know it's only the 7th! This life equation is all the slice I have today as I continue to finish my slides for a presentation this weekend at Notre Dame!


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Monday, March 6, 2023

Signs of Spring #SOL23

Journaling, or what I also call notebooking, has become a regular part of my life. I have been trying different ways to journal in different kinds of journals. At a Time to Write session with my Teach Write group, I was introduced to The Curious Nature Guide by Clare Walker Leslie.

What a gorgeous book! The book is full of invitations to lead you out into the natural world and to write about your experiences. The first pages suggest leaving the book "by your window to remind you to look outside." She further states that sometimes we find that in learning about the natural world, we learn more about ourselves. I am finding this to be true.

Saturday, I used the first prompt to "begin where you are" and look around and see what nature is doing. Today I found her yawning and stretching and showing off her signs of spring and captured this moment in an etheree poem.

of spring,
me to take note,
as the day lengthens
and life emerges from
its dormant state of mind, I
see her yawning and stretching as 
I find hope and new beginnings in
the red buds and lilies and magnolias.


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Sunday, March 5, 2023

Am I a Bad Neighbor? #SOL23

We live on a dead-end street where not much happens. If it is not a delivery truck or a neighbor or someone who is lost, then we don't have much traffic. But those delivery trucks sure do make a ruckus. 

Actually, it's our neighbor's dogs who make the ruckus.

They bark at everything. Everything. For the most part, we have become used to it, but it becomes very annoying when I want to spend quiet time on one of my porches or it's late at night when I need my quiet time in front of the fireplace, and all they do is bark. The owner will sometimes come home and make barking noises at them, almost mocking them.

They have a doggie door that allows them to come out into their backyard that is surrounded by a wooden privacy fence. But the privacy fence does nothing for the barking.

At night when I hear them barking, I turn on our two lights, one on the garage, and the other on the porch, thinking it would scare off the cat or other critter (or God-forbid a person) that was out there. 

I then began to think turning on the lights would let the owners know that "hey, we hear your dogs, don't you? Can you make them stop barking?" Kind of like a Pavlovian response - you see the light; you stop barking or you call your dogs inside.

But that hasn't happened.

Now, I turn on the lights hoping that they shine in their bedroom windows which face our backyard and keep them awake much like their dogs keep us awake.

Dog owners, am I being petty? Am I being a rude neighbor? I have never owned a dog, so I really don't know "pet etiquette."

But I sure am tired of hearing barking dogs.


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Saturday, March 4, 2023

An Imperfect Storm #SOL23

Same storm but just an hour away from me.

An "imperfect storm" was converging--severe weather right at dismissal time.
Lucky for us, Mother Nature was in a hurry today.



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Friday, March 3, 2023

A Losing Battle #SOL23

Today, I lost a battle. Again. A battle with the Tupperware cabinet. I am not even sure why we still call it Tupperware because I am sure I haven’t owned a piece of Tupperware in the last 25 years. But the Rubbermaid cabinet just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

When I open the door of the cabinet, I have my hands up, ready to fight. I open the door carefully because I know the lids and containers are strewn every which way, and I anticipate them striking first.

My family members are traitors; they help the enemy by throwing the plastic pieces haphazardly like they were throwing candy in a parade. I have drawn a line in the sand by labeling the shelves with “circle” and “rectangle” expecting them to place the items on the correct shelf, but they continue to sabotage me. 

No matter how hard I strategize to conquer the enemy, they outmaneuver me. When I have lots of leftovers and need a large container, I only have small ones. When I need small ones to pack my lunch, I only have large ones. And I consider myself lucky when I win a round of “who can find the lid.”

This morning, as I was fixing my lunch for school, I waved the white flag. I surrendered and took my 1/2 cup of taco meat in quart container and threw my shredded cheddar cheese in a baggie because I couldn’t find a simple lid.

Surely, I am not the only one who loses the battle with the Tupperware cabinet. 


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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Traditions Connect Us #SOL23

Traditions connect us.

I went to high school and currently live in a community that is rich in tradition. For many years our high school had generation after generation of "Alices" (That's our mascot!) Families would talk about the high school memories just like they would family ones.

In the past three years our boys basketball teams have won less than ten games combined. That is not what our community is used to. That record is unacceptable to many. And this is where our problem lies.

It is difficult for the "old guard" to accept losing when we have a tradition of winning. It is difficult for some parents, who want to live vicariously through their own kids, to accept loss after loss after loss. It is compounded by social media where our community lashes out at coaches and players because they say the current teams don't understand "the tradition."

Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten that these high school players are kids. Kids who make mistakes. Kids who are still learning. Kids who aren't their moms and dads.

Playing sports is so much more than winning and losing. It's about learning the game; it's about being part of team and something bigger than themselves. It's about life.

Tonight, I am listening to our boys' first round of post-season tournament play. We are the underdog. We aren't expected to win. Every player on this team is a former student of mine, and I am so proud of them. They have worked so hard against so much adversity. Sadly, most of that adversity is from our own community. They have never given up when they could have so easily folded.

The game just ended as I am finishing this post, and I am holding back the tears. 

Traditions connect us. 


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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Making Thoughts Permanent #SOL23

As February was winding down, I began to question my decision once again on joining this challenge. Do I really have time? Do I really have 31 stories in me at this point in my life? Do I really want to do this?

This is year ten for me, so there is a nice round feeling about that number. I mean, I couldn't quit at nine. That feels like I am half-dressed or something.

I began to look through my slices from past years. I realized I missed this type of writing. This storytelling. This finding small moments out of my day. Poetry, journaling, and writing professionally take up most of my writing time, but story takes a backseat except for the month of March.

As I looked at my previous years' posts and comments, one comment seemed to grab me. The commentor said something about although she may not have had many visitors or comments on her blog, she enjoyed writing and "making my thoughts permanent." 

This is it.

This is really why I do it.

So, I am taking advice from a slice I wrote last year and celebrating year ten! Thanks for letting me join you.

 Advice from a Slice

Find the ordinary.

Capture the small moment.

Look for the unexpected.

Look everywhere.

Keep a notebook.

Write from the heart.

Tell the story.

Warn your friends and family.

Silence the critic.

Tame the fear.

Accept grace.

Just hit the publish button.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2023


this day of ashes
a smudged cross on our foreheads
we seek renewal

purify our hearts
through reconciliation
this Lenten season

One of Teach Write's writing prompts for this month was ashes. Today I write a double haiku as I begin this Lenten season.