Notebook Miracle – SOL 21

Notebooks make all the difference.  Used by the teacher, that is.  Of this, I am an official believer.

Let me tell you..

I had been a day-to-day notebook keeper since early 2015.  Prior to that, I’d written weekly in several notebooks and journals — as many as raising children would allow.

Notebooks in 2015 increased my teacher performance, improved my relationships with my students, boosted my self-esteem — I have stories on these, but I’m under the gun to get this SOL out before midnight.  🙂  This all happened because I began my work with the National Writing Project.  I was drawn to it because I’m a believer in marrying your beliefs to your work.  Writing has been my belief all my life..

Sometime last year, a cork got shoved somewhere in my brain.  It started by not keeping the writing habit going.  It got so bad, I didn’t even keep my little journal and notebook writing around the house.  Maybe it was the political climate — or the nation’s climate — that got to me.  Maybe it was my mother being place in a nursing home (separate from my Dad) and losing access to my childhood home, possibly forever.  Major upset, I haven’t gone back to guess why my writing stopped.  All I know is the effects.

Here is how I was affected:

  • the worst personality crisis I have ever experienced in my adult life. We spend all this time, day by day, week by week, year by year, beginning with teenage-hood, perhaps, trying to figure ourselves out.  We improve, we backtrack, we jump with ecstasy when we’re in a place we’re recognizable to ourselves and have figured ourselves out a little.  All that stopped for me, for a period for, gosh.. I can tell you if I went back to my notebooks.. I want to seriously, seriously guess 1 year.  The. Worst. Totally not myself.  Silent.  Lost.  Inside Out.  Where was I?
  • teaching impacted.  Totally stilted. I could still perform, still love my children, but there was a wall there .. you know?  I felt.. inauthentic.  Something definitely missing.  How can I be totally me if I’m not totally there.. or there’s a part of me that is lost as I stand in front of my kids?  I functioned.. I worked hard.. I stressed SOOOO much because not “being” all there just didn’t seem right to me.  That’s not how I’ve ever lived.  It’s all or all..
  • thinking impacted.  There were times when I would begin to write something down.. and my mind could not hold a sentence. My mind would flip and I’d draw a complete blank.  Or I would hit a skip and begin thinking of the next topic without finishing the first sentence. Twice in a paragraph.  Very odd.  This is recorded in my “Classroom Notebook” that I used while I still tried to write during Writing Time with my kids during Workshop.  I learned to record these [boats on a river] lapses with brackets — just you just saw now.  Over time, I grew afraid of the blank page..
  • creativity null and void.  Gone, just gone.  All my life, I’ve had an edge on idea. I enjoyed my brain and thinking stuff up, a new version, a different angle, a unique perspective.  This was absent during that time…

But let me tell you what’s happened.

I had a mahvelous Workshop with a mentor from the Heart of Texas Writing Project (our NWP affiliate here in Austin).. and it was just what I needed to get the Notebook started again.  This happened February 20th.  I have been writing non-stop.

Today, the cork popped and my creativity sparked.. and roared!!!!

I came up with a quick-draft for curriculum for next unit.

I came up with 1 Topic-Talk chart for my kids to work with during Workshop tomorrow.

I came up with a Risk Rubric as they develop their ideas for Opinion.

I came up with a Community Chart for listing their Topic Commitments.


That… I was not expecting that…

… and I wrote it all in my Notebook, which is going fabulous.

Please, please.. if you want to streamline your practice and don’t feel you have time to work in your Notebook, do whatever you can to carve out time to get back into Writing for Self, for you, for your mind, for your thinking, for your soul, spirit and sanity in this world.

Give it a solid month, like I did — 15 minutes everyday, like I did with my students (I was bound to them through a promise).

You will notice the stress disappear, your thinking become clearer, you’ll become more efficient, your confidence will rise, you will be yourself and more pleasant and friendly and fun to be around, you’ll be more at peace with yourself and the world.

It is so worth it..

..Veronica, don’t forget.


Writerly Advice to My Daughter- SOL Day 15

Tackled 3 bookstores today.  A total of 8 hours — while we waited for brother to be done with his shift work.

Found a notebook for middle child, who hasn’t written at home .. for months and months.  She used to walk around with her nose buried in a notebook, scribbling about her daily life.

When she finally sat down to write, she said she didn’t know what to do, how to start.  Gave her a quick launching lesson, then summed up a why it’s so important for her..

My talk, as  captured from my own Notebook:

“You should always be capable of writing for yourself — not for someone else, not for grades, not for scores, but entirely and wholly for yourself — to please yourself.

Your language, your thoughts, they belong to you.  And if you have trouble composing them for yourself, then you need to pause and figure this out. Figure out how to talk to yourself, how to think for yourself, how to write for yourself, with you as your audience.  No one else.

Society, school, parents, friends, ourselves — we’ve all done enough damage and discourage. Don’t let it be a complete and thorough annihilation of you, your voice.  Because who when would you ever get it back?

Do you really want to wander through this world without a voice? For even yourself to hear?”


First Note of My Roadtrip

No matter what — and this has been for the 22+ years we’ve been together — we just can’t seem to get away from packing the car the moments before a roadtrip.  Yes, it’s trouble.sneak

The trouble for me is that — well, I’m realizing this now — after schlepping everything to the car, Hugo will usually tell me to pack light next time.  He just doesn’t just tell me.  It’s a bit of a grumble.  It’s a happy grumble.  I don’t mind it.

What does get me is that this little grumble threatens the survivability of my stash of books, notebooks, techie junk,  (I’m taking a keyboard), stuffable purse items and whatever else I usually find absolutely necessary to take with me.  These, I load them all myself, ALWAYS, but that doesn’t negate the timorous feeling I have in my tummy when we finally buckle up.  I’ll cover it up with cheer and distraction, a prayer as we launch ourselves into the familiar, and when the distraction is over, I feel overwhelmingly successful.  Like a kid who drank soda before going to bed.

This was first Little Notebook note to myself.  Blog post accomplished.  🙂

Little Notebook

We’re traveling down to see my parents tomorrow.  I already know that I’ll experience a rush of experiences, feelings and .. well, everything:

  1.  Like last time.
  2. Because the prime is pumped with this blogging
  3. And with our poetry unit.  I’m noticing everything.  Everything.  The worst is within myself, I can’t seem to shut it off..


Therefore, meet Little Notebook.  I bought one for Beatrice, too.  She’s not keen on writing.  This year, she’s discovered a horror of spelling, so she’s timid about even beginning an idea, and I think I’m about to break through with boosting her confidence.

You can write whatever you want, honey.  You can always go back and fix, but it’s so important to capture your ideas, because they’re you!  I can go back and check my spelling at the end.  Yes, exactly!

When we go down, it’ll be the perfect time to reinforce this.  She’ll be my little writing buddy.

I know I won’t have time for full-blown pages in my Writer’s Notebook and my goal will be to continue finding material for this blog.  Thusly, Little Notebook.

This morning, when I woke up, I had 4, 5, 6 full-blown ideas, complete with BMEs (Beginnings, Middles and Ends).   I had to grab a used post-it to bubble 1-words down as reminders.  I NEVER consider myself a morning person, but, boy, what do you do when you have a whole mini-essay or story flash behind your eyes?  This is the beauty behind writing everyday, blogging everyday.  Right now, though, I don’t even know where that post-it is.

So, tonight, as I was at the market to restore our coffee supply, I swung by the notebooks, looking for something tiny to replace the need for those post-its on our trip.  My fingers touched them gingerly, pining over them like a prayer.  Oooh, I remember when I used these… (like, last week).  This year alone, I must have filled.. oh, dozens.  [Note to self — blog + pic of the stack.  So, what your’e seeing is a near-replacement of my beloved notebooks.  I’ve been bit.

I don’t know how long this blog will last, but I like riding waves, and right now, I’m giving myself all the permission in the world.

So, goal:  fill Little Notebook in a weekend.  Can I do it?  We’ll see.