Slice of Life March Challenge

I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve tried to establish a daily writing habit numerous times in the past without success.  I get excited by the latest writing challenge so I sign up right away. I get off to a good start and then…life interrupts. I miss a day and then guilt sets in. So, why would I be participating in the Slice of Life (SOL) March Challenge? Given my previous track record, it would be safe to bet that I will not complete the 31 days of consecutive posts. Add to that the fact that I will be at a conference for five days early in March, and you’ve got a recipe made for failure. But, those are the elements that make challenges more exciting, right?

During last year’s March SOL Challenge, I wrote for 30/31 days. Of course, some posts were better than others and some were written on the fly in order to fulfill the daily writing quota. Nevertheless, I will keep trying to reach that as yet elusive goal to make writing a daily ritual. Maybe being at a conference will give me some writing material. New places, new people, new experiences are always great opportunities for slicing.

So, here’s to 31 joyful days to towards a daily writing habit. I’m looking forward to reading others’ slices throughout this month and to celebrating together at the end.

Let the slicing begin!

Cross posted to

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Very Brief Review of The Lazarus Rumba by Ernesto Mestre

I finally finished The Lazarus Rumba by Ernesto Mestre!

I started reading in August. It was a slow read for a long time. I would pick it up, then put it down and pick it up several days later, which sometimes turned into weeks. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I decided that I needed to finish it; there were too many other books waiting to be read. I didn’t dislike the book enough to abandon it but I was having a hard time getting through a chunk at a time; it seemed like I was reading two or three pages a sitting for way too long.

So, during this previously unplanned February break from school, I was determined to finish it. And, as it turned out, once I started reading in earnest, I couldn’t put it down. Once again I proved my own theory, and one that I often share with my students: if you don’t read a chunk of a book at a time you can’t know if you really like it or not, and you will not understand, or remember, enough of what’s going on to want to keep reading.

Although I did not appreciate the thread of political conservatism that winds throughout this book, I loved the magical realism side of it. And, as usually happens with books of this type, I wondered what parts of the story were real, and what parts were magical? Or, maybe the important take away is that the entire book is a statement about life as a magical journey that is over all too soon. In the end, whether or not the events in the book are real is irrelevant since it’s always about the story and what the reader can learn about his/her own life, as a result.

Despite some misgivings about Mestre’s political stance in the book, I am planning on reading his second book, The Second Death of Única Aveyano. From the summary of this book on Amazon, it may not take me as long to read it as it did to read The Lazarus Rumba. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Posted in book review | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Writing Every Day

For me, the New Year has always been about making resolutions and setting goals for what I want to change in my life. I usually wait until January 1st to start my new regime of exercise or a new diet or an attempt at a new outlook on life, but invariably I fail. I fail because the goals are too big or overwhelming, and I’m too hard on myself if I don’t follow through. I start out OK but before too long, I flounder. And, when I flounder, I get down on myself. And, when I get down on myself, I go back to my old routines and even older habits.

This year, I decided not to wait until January 1st to start working on a new writing habit. I am going to write every day rather than procrastinating because I think I have nothing important to say. Or maybe, the habit I am trying to break is that of procrastinating, or maybe it’s about self-confidence. I often think I can’t do something, not because I’ve tried and failed, but because I didn’t even make an attempt. So, of course I fail. I am going to change that this year. By starting my New Year’s resolution earlier I’ve taken away the burden of potential failure that I’ve traditionally associated with New Year’s resolutions. And, as I write my way to meaning today, it seems that confidence will be my One Little Word (OLW) for 2015.

So, my New Year’s pledge is to write every day but my guiding word will be confidence.

I just love how writing helps clarify so much for me…as long as I write every day…for me.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Cross posted to

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

“Hello. How are you?”

Although I started this blog about two years ago, I have not kept it up during that time. Instead I have focused more on my professional blog, A Teacher’s Ruminations, that I try to keep updated as much as possible. During this holiday break, I decided to dedicate this blog space as a personal journal, and a place where I can try out some writing moves and techniques. In that spirit, what follows was inspired by a recent post in Taught by Finland.

When greeting each other, Americans will often say, “Hello, How are you?”, but they don’t really want to know how you are. They just think it’s a polite thing to do. And, it is. Normally, it isn’t anything to complain about when everything is going well, and the answer to, “How are you?” is simply, “Fine.” However, when you are not feeling fine and you want to talk about it, no one really wants to hear it. You can tell this is the case by observing the listener’s body language and the way she or he starts to lose interest after the first few minutes of your lament.

On the one hand, I understand this. Who wants to hear that you’re miserable or having a bad day at work, for example? Those situations inevitably turn into gossip sessions and people end up saying things that they later regret. Usually it’s easier to just say, “Fine, thank you,” and move on.

In many other societies, when people ask how you’re doing, they really want to know. Does that make Americans heartless and senseless, and everyone else kind and considerate? I don’t know the answer to that, and that is not the purpose of this writing. What I want to figure out is the best way to respond to this query without feeling worse – either not listened to at all or falling into a gripe session. Maybe it’s simply a matter of knowing who to talk to about how you’re feeling rather than just anyone who crosses your path. And, maybe it’s knowing social mores well enough that you know who will listen to your lament and who won’t. Oh, and by the way, sharing how you’re feeling at the moment doesn’t necessarily have to be a lament; it could be the opportunity to share wonderful or exciting news.

I think knowing who you are talking to is important. And, this edict holds true for the person who initiates the greeting, as well as for the responder. So, maybe one idea I’m trying to promote is that all of us need to be more culturally savvy. We need to know who we are talking to and then act accordingly so that there is no embarrassment, no feelings of not being listened to, no feelings withheld or suppressed. Doing this may make for healthier groups of people and relationships. And, in the New Year, I am all about striving for healthy living and better communication.

For my part, I am going to prevent feeling disappointed because someone didn’t listen to my sad lament or complaint. If health and communication are to be my two sub One Little Words (just came up with this idea through this writing process), then I need to focus on paying attention to my intuition and making better choices about who I interact with on an intimate friendship level. Just because I am feeling vulnerable or attacked doesn’t mean I can spill my heart out to everyone I meet. Some will respond well but most will not. No one wants to be around someone who is sad or grumpy all the time.

So, maybe Americans have the right idea after all: be polite and ask how someone is but don’t invite too much conversation unless there’s an established friendship that you can trust. Either keep walking or change the conversation.

I have come full circle on this issue even though I didn’t start down that path. My intent was to condemn this seemingly hypocritical American practice and encourage people to share how they are truly feeling to anyone who asks them. However, now I want to encourage cultural sensitivity on both sides and appropriate self-censoring as healthy practices that may enhance communication.

What do you think? Do you agree with what I’ve written here? I welcome your comments.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Easily Create a Free, Virtual Flipping Book!

Elisa Waingort:

Clear, easy to follow directions for creating a free, virtual flipping book!

Originally posted on Ed Tech Ideas:

There’s a great website called Flipsnack that allows you to create really slick looking flip books from any pdf or jpg file that you have. I use this with third graders so they can publish their writing from Google Docs to their Blogs in a new and fun way.

Below are the steps:

From Google Docs to Flipping Books

Download Your Google Doc as a PDF

  1. File
  2. Download as
  3. PDF Document

Document will be saved in your Dowloads folder

Download Your Google Doc as a PDF

Go to

Click Sign in

Go to

Sign in with Google

Sign in with Google

Enter your SAS email and password

After entering your login credentials, click “Accept”

Enter your SAS email and password

Choose make your first flipping book

Choose make your first flipping book

Import your PDF (or Jpg)

You may select a file from your computer, or drag the file from its source

(if dragging, make sure you see the green plus before releasing)

Import your PDF (or Jpg)

Title and Description

  1. Change the title to your liking
  2. Add a…

View original 154 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Press Release: Out of the Box Doll Project (July 27th, before the SOS March and Rally in Washington, DC)

Press Release: Out of the Box Doll Project (July 27th, before the SOS March and Rally in Washington, DC).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You’ve got a magic tree: what does it grow? Great question! When you imagine a magic tree people picture money, I think. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy, effortless way to come by those things in life that we want or care about? When I think of a magic tree I think of other things that may be corny but are more long lasting. For example, more and more lately, I think of good health because of all the perks being healthy bring with it. I don’t think of good health as something that happens almost as if by magic but rather health that is magical because with a little effort – some sort of daily exercise, careful attention to eating, time out to relax and spend quality time with family and friends, involvement in some activity you are passionate about, just to name a few – you can live a healthy life. This is to say, then, that my tree isn’t a magic tree that grants wishes but a magical tree that serves as a reminder that the good things in life I strive for demand some life changes on my part that when done consistently and intentionally are magical due to the power they have for transforming my life. What do you think? Do you agree or have I taken this idea too far? I would love to hear others’ perspectives.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment