What makes a writer – am I a writer?

I think most of us who write and publish only through a blog post play around with the idea of what makes a writer. Am I a writer? Can I call myself a writer?  Maybe I am a writer but not an author. I at least at this point in my life have not published a book so I am not an author but can I call myself a writer? I do have a blog I write for – really I have two blogs – although one is often lost in the shuffle of my everyday life.

In my mind it comes down to the difference between a writer and an author. There are lots of us who write – we write journals, blog posts, speeches, notes to your classrooms, letters to parents, staff, and family. We write – there for we are writers. Correct?

Ah but then my mind goes racing to the thoughts of those writers who write daily. They feels that need to put words to the page (paper or digital) every single day. They keep their journal going, they post on their blog often. Words just tumble out of them and they really can’t help it. My husband is one of those writers although he also has books he has worked on that are published so he fits into the author category as well. He writes daily, It is clear he is at a loss if he has not taken time to sit down with his computer to write at least sometime during the day. He has to write. He is part of the people I think of as “real writers.”

So where do I fit into this term writer? I love to write but often find it hard. I don’t have to write daily but after not writing for a few days or weeks I am out of sorts and feel the need to sit down to write something, anything. I am part of a writers group that meets about once a month or so. I have several books started but not finished or finished but not in a state I am willing to have edited or sent to a publisher.

I write and I write a lot compared to many folks I know but I can’t keep a journal going, I can’t seem to finish my manuscripts and I have fallen off the wagon in regards to my blogs. The last I posted was August 22  (how could I not I was watching the eclipse).

These 750 words really are just me playing with the idea of what I think a writer should be. The should is the problem. I watch, listen and read the words of so many wonderful writers and I think I am a “want to be” writer. I want to do that! Write!

I want to be more consistent with my writing. I want to finish my manuscripts. I want to kick up my garden blog and post more often. I need to get back to my Words from JL blog and post weekly.  I find myself being a sometime writer but a want to be full time writer.

Publishing would be great but not really a major goal of mine. For me it is the desire to write consistently, the ability of keep a journal going or a blog going. I seek the ability to persist at the task of writing daily even if I find it hard.

I have never been good at daily tasks. When teaching elementary grades I was terrible at teaching the calendar – it was a daily task and I just didn’t care. I was lucky to find some kids who liked that routine and I just assigned it to them and let them take care of it. Exercise and yoga are always hard for me – I know I need it. It feels great when I can do it 5 or 7 days in a row but I always fall off and then I always come back. Right now I am working on a daily speed walk each morning. (I have made it one whole month – not bad for me!)

I guess my writing is much the same way. I am good for a few weeks and then I get side tracked but I always find my way back to the page. I am a sometime – want to be full time writer.

I guess I really can’t complain or worry to much. I at least come back to words and find my way into writing every few weeks. Heck ,what is in a name really?  So for today as I sit on a sunny fall afternoon and write I will call myself a writer!

How about you? Do you have a regular writing routine or are you a sometime writer like me?  What keeps you writing or what stops you?  Have you thought about how your students feel about being writers? If we find it hard to write daily what about them?

I end this post with no real answers just thinking about how to be a daily writer and what helps to make our students daily writers as well!  But I do know now we should call ourselves writers even when we are not daily writers! Writers are people who write!


Posted in Reflection, writing | 6 Comments

Traveling to the Sun

We left Minneapolis, Mn. at a good time on Saturday morning. Leaving rain and cold weather behind us.  Excited to be traveling south to warm, dry weather and the sun. We would have a day with my brother and his wife at a lake in northern Missouri.

On Monday the four of us traveled further south to reach the zone of totality. We were determined to see the Eclipse. My brother ordered glasses, planned out the route and times. We were on our way.

We started out with clouds and some rain. I was in long sleeves and long pants but we would find sun and warmth, we were sure of it. After about an hour of driving up and down hills on small two lane highways we reached Jamesport, a small town tucked in one of the valleys. This is a town living on Antique shops, farms and connections with Missouri’s largest Amish population.

We had stepped into another world. Cokes were fifty cents, a beautifully hand knitted winter cap was $4.50. We watched the roads carefully for horses and buggies, and barefoot children with bonnets, hats and friendly smiles.

A tip from the lovely lady in a candle story sent us driving another 13 miles down the road to Gallatin Missouri where there was to be “big doings” on the town square. They had received a federal grant to build a display to demonstrate the distance of the planets and the moon. There would be food trucks and music plus a whole town photo.

We envisioned a walk in display with 3d models of the planets, a line of food trucks (think big city food truck festivals – we were using our big city imaginations)

We arrived to find a “crowd” of maybe 200 people wondering around the town square, or sitting on lawn chairs, a few posters with the names of planets on them an an orange string that ran about the square. There was some radio music and two trucks – one that sold coffee and another with some sandwiches that no one was interested in. Most people have eaten their noon meal at home or had a small picnic with them.

It was not what we had imagined at all.

Plus the clouds would not release the sun to share this big event so one would think we would be disappointed.  We were not!

We found – people who were more than happy to chat with us. There was free water, Moon pies and wonderful stories. They quickly wanted to be sure we had Eclipse glasses and we ordered a t-shirt for $10 from the State Farm man. Then checked the progress of the sun and moon on a ladies I-pad and then it happened.

Even with a sky full of clouds the sun and moon partnership peeked out from a small hole in the cloud mass. Yes, you could see the moon sliding over the sun. The area around us was growing darker quickly, voices hushed for a moment as the street lights came on, and the locust and crickets began to sign.

A brief chill was felt as we saw the bright blue sky to the north and the evening dark to the south of us. We stood in the middle with an erie light of dusk. The quality of light just before darkness takes over but it was 1:10 in the afternoon.

Two minutes passed and the light returned, the critters fell quiet and it was over. The folks packed up their chairs, climbed into trucks and cars to head back to work or home. As we walked away the folks from Jamesport checked in with us. The I-pad lady let us know where in the area it had been sunny ad who was rained out.

We walked the town not quite ready to let go of the experience. Our wonderings took us pasted the old town jail – a historic building since it is one of three remaining “squirrel cage” jails. (Another story of another time.)

The eclipse was cool, the feeling of being a small dot in a large universe was important but just as important, well maybe more important were the experience of people caring about strangers, people helping each other, sharing a slow way of living and truly enjoying a community event.

I also found great joy in my family. Spending time with my older brother laughing, sharing our own stories and remembering our shared past could not be beat. The two minute event that was barely seen by us due to cloudy weather brought so much more than expected.

We left today not having seen our hot sun but feeling it inside ourselves from the care given us by family and strangers.

Thanks Big Brother and Helen for sharing your home, and the fun on the road! eclipse 2.jpg


Couldn’t have been a better eclipse!!



Posted in Reflection | 2 Comments

Sitting in Silence

DSC04934.jpgIt is Tuesday and the day I write for the Slice of Life blog. A day each week that I write about the happenings and the thoughts in my life. But today I have avoided my computer all day. Writing seems to difficult at this time. I have avoided words. Today is a day of reflection.

I know that many times it is writing and words that help us to process the events we find hard to understand or accept. I know that writing can bring a release of the emotions that spin wildly in our heads and our souls.

That said today I have no words that I feel are appropriate to say –

  • Charlottesville
  • the President
  • the anger
  • the loss of life
  • the fear that builds in all our lives

It is all to much right now.

So what I can say is –clouds.JPG

Take time away from the screens, talk to your family and friends, reach out to those who are in the line of fire – and take time to be quiet and reflect.

What are the values we wish to bring forward in our country?

Once you know what is important to you – model those values for others, talk about them and help others in a loving and peaceful way!


Posted in Reflection | 2 Comments

Watching the changes

images.jpgIt is August and you can feel the change in the air. It is easy to catch the back to school fever even if you don’t watch TV.  I do not get the adds on the “big box tv” but my Facebook line has informed me that parents are out shopping for school clothes, notebooks, pencils, markers and all the other stuff. The school buses are going up and down the block checking out their new routes due to summer construction. My daughter is gearing up to organize her classroom and text messages are asking for help. Can you help me sew new shades for the over head lights, are you setting up the fish tank – I will be in the classroom on Thursday? These bold signs of fall are all around but I am looking at something else all together.

The smaller signs in nature that tell me fall is approaching are showing up – like the sunset is now at 8:34 pm. It means I need to turn on the house light as I go out for an evening event or walk. If you have been watching the shadows the morning light has shifted creating sharp lines and deep shadows across the gardens. The oaks are dropping acorn seeds, the crab apples are making a mess on the neighbors sidewalk. The air has changed (at least here in Minnesota) to more cool evenings with dew soaked grass in the morning. The bushes around the yard are heavy with berries for the winter birds.

These signs of fall feel a bit early to me this year. We have not had our blazing hot August sun that dries and kills off the grass. We have not had the nights where you know there is no sleeping without an air conditioner. I am in fact sleeping with windows wide open and blankets ready to use in the deep of night when the air turns very cool.

I am not complaining mind you – just observing. I love the cool nights, the glorious damp morning walks and the birds feeding. I am happy to not use the air conditioner and to watch the buses sort out how best to arrive at schools on time.

tomatoes.JPGAll that said I am still a bit worried. The seasons are creating new patterns. The time tables are shifting. My garden is reflecting the change in the growth cycle.

My peppers are small and not flowering, my tomatoes are now at full growth and green but not sure they will ripen in this cool weather.

I have been able to grow cool weather crops all summer – lettuce, spinach, and radishes but the heat loving plants are just looking at me like I am crazy. The bean plants looks great but no beans. (well I found two baby beans yesterday) The cucumber plant has two very small fruits on it. Here is hoping at least one of them will grow into something we can eat. The daylight is shortening and this is giving a signal to plants to shut down production of fruits instead of the message to keep growing.

So as fall approaches – we have had a summer full of lettuce and radishes but there is no salsa, beans, or beets in the freezer for winter. There are lots of beautiful green plants growing but production is not good. If this were long ago and this garden was our winter food supply I would be really worried. It would be a winter of very little food. Beans.JPG

I wonder if this is just my corner of the world that is off or are the large production gardens also seeing the climate change. I always look forward to fall – cool temps, colored leaves and a freezer full of food. Hmmm – here is hoping that the fall is long and the frost holds off until late October so maybe some of the veggies will mature and my freezer will fill.

Posted in gardens, nature | 4 Comments

Safety means communication

It is the first Tuesday of August. It means it is National Night Out. It is a time to meet your neighbors. A time to learn who lives in your building or the house next door. This program began in 1984 as part of the Town Watch Program. Matt Perkins, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania help develop this to a program where people could begin to know each other.  A time when we stop and talk to the people who live around us.

Today National Night Out includes thousands of communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August (Texas celebrates on the first Tuesday in October). Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. That is thirty eight million neighbors in sixteen thousand communities across the nation who are taking part in National Night Out.

IMG_0426.jpgA short conversation, a bite to eat and maybe a game or two played with the neighborhood kids is all it takes to make an evening of fun, the building of new friendships or the rekindling of old ones.

This year it seems more important than ever for us to stop and meet the people around us. It has been a year of violence both physical and emotional. The language and behavior of people on the national level has filtered into the country leaving us shaken and angry. Many have pulled back and are hesitant to reach out to those around them. We are unsure of reactions and our sense of trust has weaken. When we do not trust we do not feel safe. When we don’t feel safe we tend not to talk with the people around us. We walk by with our heads down, our eyes averted and move quickly on our way.

Tonight is the night to break that cycle. Tonight is the time to makes a salad, a few IMG_0427.jpgcookies or pull the family grill out from the backyard into the front. Even if you have not planned ahead – put your front light on, buy a package of cookies and take a few chairs out into the front yard or the front stoop. Take that step outside and look around, say hi to those that walk, by offer a cookie and a smile.

My guess is you will feel safer, a bit happier and so will the people around you!

Posted in behavior change, Reflection | Tagged | 7 Comments

Searching and getting lost

A good title right – I got you! It give the impression of a deep and thoughtful post. Ha – not so much!  This is really my being mentally lost this morning. I am not able to stay focused. I am a bit anxious and I have no idea what to write.

So I went seeking for ideas – first I looked over my email and found only junk there. Mainly it was politics which I am just not going to write about. It is to upsetting. Then I turned to Facebook. There must be a topic there that would strike my interest in writing.

Facebook is a large rabbit hole and down I went. There were the political posts, there is the post about another issue with the airlines, my friends birthday party, and the duck with the duckling stuck somewhere (this seems to happen a lot – someone is always recusing ducks).  I click to read one post and find myself clicking another article and then another and soon I have no idea where I am or what I am reading. I am also amazed that the side ads are getting more risque’ with each click. Time to get off of this site. Oh, did you know Judy Collins and Steve Stills have a new album coming out in the fall. What am I doing????

I have also been watching the sky outside my window go from clouds to brilliant blue to clouds all in 40 minutes time. I am listening to the sound of my neighbors hand mower and  the rustle of dried leaves or seeds from the failing tree across the street. The garden in my front yard is beautiful right now and the Balloon flowers need deadheading. I have old dishes to wash for a tea party book club tomorrow, we read The Perfume Collector. It was great fun. I am sure there is laundry that needs doing and I know I should dust somewhere in this house.

I have check the time over and over again 8:45, 9:15, 9:16, 9:40 – there is a doctors appointment at 10:45. The Cardiologist awaits. It is my one year check up a bit early. Questions run through my head – can I quit some of these heart meds?  what happens if I quit some of these heart meds?  have I exercised enough? have I lost enough weight? (mind you I have never weighted very much – now it is even less) what happens with those two partial blocks in my heart- are they a waiting heart attack? what else should I not be eating?

I have check the garden seeds that need to go in before fall and looked over the tulip catalog getting ready to order. Then I realize I have already ordered 125 bulbs from a different catalog and have not yet created the new bed for those bulbs. I write a note to plan out the new bed and what I will put in it. I check over my garden journal and write a few notes there.

I get ready to …

Can you see I am lost?

I was searching for writing ideas only to find myself thinking and doing everything but writing. I was letting my anxious self run away with my thinking. So after about an hour of crazy searching and tumbling I did what many writers do.

I opened up my blog and started writing. Writing anything, writing what I was doing at this very moment. I just needed to write. I just needed t o put words down on paper or screen. I needed to begin to ground myself in words. Words of any kind.

There you have it. A morning of being lost, seeking, wondering and then just writing. Somedays are like that. Just put words to paper and call it good. Tomorrow may bring more focus and may help me to find my way home.


Posted in behavior, journals, Reflection, writing | 8 Comments

Sudden Changes

” All is connected like a chain. Nothing is permanent. Everything changes.

If we do not accept that fact we will always suffer. “

                                                                                                              – Phra Saneh Dhammavaro


I was drawn this morning to a handmade book of four poems I wrote years ago. I created the poems and a friend made a beautiful book to hold them and to share the movement and ideas through art. The books title is In the Sand –  book of permanence and change. The book is not of importance but the idea of accepting change is.

There are moments in our lives that come suddenly and unexpected. Moments of great sadness, sometimes anger and fear. These emotions tumbling together, rolling like waves. Often when caught in these moments our instinct is to dig in and hold tight. We latch on to this sadness or anger and begin to fight. We get stuck and are pulled down into depression and fear.

I understand that so well but have learned that it does not help or heal. It leaves us tumbling over and over not moving forward. So with lots of yoga, meditation and help from friends I have slowly begun to learn how to let go, how to accept change.

As I have taken on change, both physical and emotional, I have found the need to step back, to watch closely and hold on to those parts of my life that can remain the same, let go of parts that are painful and embrace change that moves me forward in a positive way. It is a process and it is difficult. This is far easier to slip into the negative space that change can open up.

This does not mean that I don’t feel sorrow, sadness, fear, or anger. It doesn’t mean that I don’t act when action is needed.

It does mean I listen and watch. I try to let go of the negative and look for a positive way to help or an action I can do to help me or others understand the change that has been placed before us.

Change is a daily occurrence. It happens in small ways – to much sun and the flowers wilt, the waves wash over the beach washing away the foot prints of those who have taken the early morning walk, There are the big changes – cancer, heart attack, a job change or sudden death of a friend or family member.

In our interconnected lives changes are all around us. Each day we face the positive and the negative, the small and the large changes.

Take time, be still, breath and let go – moving with the emotions that surface and find your way forward. Change happens – nothing is permanent. beach.JPG



This reflection was written to help me handle and think about the recent tragedy that has happened in our neighborhood and yoga community. We lost Justine Damond, a yoga teacher and life coach, in an unexplained shooting by police on Saturday night. We are saddened, angry and confused but are looking to find ways to celebrate the light and gifts she brought to so many in the short time she had with us.

Posted in Reflection | 5 Comments