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.


Dad’s Tapes – SOL 2016


Tonight, without any prompting from me, my mother gave me three full boxes of my Dad’s cassette tape recordings.  Some are his original music, some are recordings from various Spanish stations, all of them are memory.

I’ve been given a treasure trove of my father’s memories.

I have access to a part of soul, I can guess what he felt, I can reach for his motivation and thinking — Why did he record this and not this other thing over here?  He was interested in this?  Wow, I didn’t know this!

This is a big deal for me, as my parents have had nothing to do with the Facebook era.  No statii on various posts, no 140-character thoughts.

Dad ebbed into the silence, and now I’ve been given the memory of his voice.   … I’m still processing this.  But I know it’s a magnificent thing.  Thank you, Mom.


Why did he record so much?  Was he lonely?

– No, Mom, he was alive.  And making memories for us.

But there’s so much.

– That’s because he had so much to say.  This was his language, a part of his soul.


… On Why Recording Your Thoughts is so Important.




Write Me

I'm the slice you didn't write
The moment you 
took too long
to see

and forgot about a moment later.

You didn't 
take the time 
to plant me

In your Writer's Notebook for later.  Why didn't you?
I'm one you'll 
take awhile 
to perceive,

but come back, we'll talk, and you'll see.
You shouldn't skip 
by me

I’m right here, right in front of you.

I'm the slice you should write down when you think you didn't notice.
I'm the version of a story that belongs to everyone.
I'm the one you can't remember later, so think about using your phone to record the moment.
I'm the slice you're going to be thankful you didn't miss.
Don't let me be the slice you didn't write.

*Inspired by  On A Thought’s “The Slice You Didn’t Write“:

I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

Another confession.

I had a very strong reaction to a teacher participating in the Slice of Life challenge this month.  He’s from New York, and since I know he, like me, an educator, has pretty much seen it all, I trust him — and SO MANY of the other gracious, gracious teachers whose blogs I’ve commented on — to accept me when I just lay all out there for everyone to see.

I wrote this after I told him, Goodbye!  I can’t ever read your writing ever again!  Or anyone elses!  I want to DIE!   Continue reading

Lead Day. – SOL Day 9

I duck down in the seat

by the window.

Pencil in my fist

I bend over close

copying every comma

onto my Google Doc

using my tiny keyboard.

Every comma, the trail of

a jumping flea in my sentences

distracting from

my awesome cool Gamer Review.

What’s a run-on?

Is this, is this, is this, is this,

is this?

After this,

I sit in the teacher’s chair.


Slice Image