Tag Archives: Fall

Gearing up for Fall: Focus & Writing Inspiration

As the light begins to change again, my connection to childhood and the seasons feels stronger than ever.

As the light begins to dim and Eloise continues to grow, my connection to childhood and the seasons feels stronger than ever.

Childhood was intertwined with seasons. The excitement of a new school year with the supplies and smell of the classroom, the changing of the leaves with pumpkins and candy, a big parade on an old Stockton television with turkey to follow, Christmas trips to the city and then the countdown to Santa, banging pots and pans on New Years, cold rainy days inside with a puzzle and Mom, valentines from friends as the light began to change, spring rain and green hillsides, the hug of summer heat and endless summer nights, all to begin again.

It’s the same rhythm that made me love teaching. In a world of windowless cubicles there are no seasons. In a classroom everything changes with the month of the year. So it is at home. I can feel the end of summer. I must have been four years old the last time a fall went by without school or outside work. Reflexively I prepare to focus again, even if this time it is from home. It is that burst of completed effort before the holidays arrive and everything slows again. Life in synch with seasons.

Blogging fits into the cracks of life, those moments when she is asleep or in someone else’s arms. The real work of writing is the bigger projects, the ones that require more determination to keep going even when there are fewer words to say, (as opposed to the instant gratification of a quick post shared…).

I am almost ready. The trick is picking one project instead of getting distracted by five. A tired promise, but an important one all the same. In the weeks before Eloise was born I started a middle grades fiction novel about a girl named Indigo who lives next to a cemetery. I think I’ll start there, seasonally appropriate after all.

What are you gearing up to work on this fall? Maybe we can inspire each other…

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

The Importance of Stopping

This week is fall break, the glorious light at the end of the tunnel after nine weeks of school. For those of you with the normal two to three weeks off per year, I realize nine weeks does not sound like such a terrible stretch of work, but as a teacher, it is a solid chunk of energy investment, particularly given the first weeks of school are among the most tiring.

Before I became a teacher, I thought the breaks alone would make up for any amount of exhaustion in the classroom. Instead, I discovered that while time off definitely helps, the exertion required to keep 30 children learning, entertained, and emotionally supported surpasses anything I expected.

The upside, of course, is the reward in knowing I am doing something good for others, and the enjoyment I derive from building relationships with my students. So, none of this is to complain, but the truth is, I’m tired. Fall break could not have come at a better time, and I did not realize how tired I was until I finally allowed myself to sink into my couch this afternoon and shut my eyes.

Here is the thing, though, I know I am not alone. Teachers are not the only people pushing themselves to their limits. Most jobs are stressful and we also have family and other obligations that require our time and focus. We commit ourselves to a lot because we care about a lot. I get it. However, there has to be the balance, the time to stop and regroup, and sometimes, we have to let a few things go.

Balance is a big reason I have stepped back from my blog in recent months. Between school and family, writing has taken a back seat. Not because I stopped caring about writing, but because I realized other priorities had to come first. My health and my family are of paramount importance, then my job, then my writing. With less time to write, I have focused on my fiction over my blog. It is all a series of trade-offs. When I have more time, I enjoy blogging, when I don’t have time, I have to just let it go.

I know I am fortunate I get to stop, I get time to breathe and fall asleep on the couch as the leaves outside my window change color and the air is a bit more crisp. But, what about everyone else who is not a teacher? What do you do for yourself to allow for a little break, the time to stop and recharge and take care of just you?

Hopefully you have an answer!

One of the

For the past few weeks, my 17 year-old sister stayed with us, which added to my shifting perspective on life and my priorities. Family has always come first, but I feel myself transitioning to a new level of awareness in how important family is to me and what this means in my quest for balance in other areas.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Everything is a miracle.

There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

-Albert Einstein

I came across this quote a couple weeks ago and let it sit in my document of random thoughts. It’s hard to always live your life as though everything is a miracle. Driving home from my mom’s house a couple weeks ago, I did. Even the trash blowing down the side of the freeway in the autumn sunset was somehow beautiful, the rain on my dirty windshield meaningful.

I’m slowly learning to live this way more often. It requires conscious thought, work, and desire. However, when achieved, everything starts to make a little more sense. Everything is more alive. I have always had little mantras for those moments I most need them. Today is the best day of my life was one for an entire summer. Now they change more frequently. Last week, my students are a gift. Yesterday, you are safe. Today, everything is a miracle.

Tagged , , , , , ,

It’s Almost November… Which Means Nanowrimo!

The fall quilt is out, the leaves are… okay, still green. It’s 90 degrees here in Sacramento, but at least I have the autumn spirit. Something about the shrinking amount of daylight makes me increasingly focused on finishing old projects. I am seriously ready for something new. In fact, I’m darn-near ecstatic for something new to write. So. Close.

My first queries go out this Thursday. Just wrote a bunch of personalized letters and tightened up my synopsis to one page, (Hallelujah!). As much as I really hope something comes of this effort, I am even more excited for what’s next. I just ordered Self-Editing for Fiction Writerswhich I admittedly should have read earlier, but at least it will be a good, nerdy read before beginning my next novel.

Speaking of which– November 1, 2012, mark you calendars. Okay, really, only mark them if you’re also planning to participate in Nanowrimo, (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated). As much as I dislike some of the rubbish I had to wade through last time I spit out thousands of exhausted words after bossing around children all day, I still feel like this is the perfect place to get motivated and give yourself something warm and cozy to do through the cold winter months. So, seasoned writer or not, I invite you to join me as we cheer each other on with the hefty goal of writing a novel, (or the beginning of a novel), in one month.

Last year I only did 22,222 words… Which is nearly 30,000 shy of the goal, but it still encouraged me enough to feel like I could write an entire book, which shortly thereafter, I actually did. This year my goal is just to write well, in quantity, for the entire month, using November 1 as the launch for my new idea. We’ll see where I end up. I’m excited. Nanowrimo is like Burning Man to me, an annual celebration of intense artistic expression.

Will you join me?

Looks like I already have one writing buddy in my mess of papers today– could use some human ones as well… Add me as a writing buddy on the nanowrimo site!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Life is Full

As you probably already know, I was dreading going back to work.  I feared my writing life would be over, that the summer me was gone.  While the students returned today, I actually went back to work last week, transforming the past two days into my first legitimately earned weekend in awhile.  To my surprise, instead of feeling rushed or deprived, I instead felt like life was full.

Even though I hate to admit it, there is something comforting about the return of the school year. For some reason I give myself more opportunities to relax when I know I have to go to work than when I’m trying to fit every imaginable pastime into the open expanse of summer.  I don’t understand the logic, but it’s true.  This weekend I actually hung out on the couch for a couple hours and did nothing.  Oddly, that didn’t occur once this entire summer.

Suddenly I am craving the return of new episodes of my favorite television shows, the subtle darkening of the sky a little earlier each night, and the eventual change from summer to fall.  I know it’s still a ways off, but starting school at the beginning of August creates a false sense of the impending shift in seasons.  Still, this transformation brings me back to my childhood, the whispers of Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas around the corner.

One of my favorite parts of teaching is this difficult to verbalize connection to my own childhood love for the change in seasons.  I’m sure I won’t feel this way every night during the school year, but tonight at least, life is full and the return to my routine is comforting.

Happy first day of fifth grade!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Fall Colors

Yesterday I remembered why fall is my favorite season.  Driving home from work at dusk, the sun shone through the brilliant oranges, reds, and yellows of the leaves on the trees.  The green belt behind my school is alive with color.  In fact, it’s hardly green at all right now!  Today I was determined to capture its magnificence in a photograph but missed my window, leaving just a few minutes too late to capture the light.  It is so easy to forget to stop and look at the beauty around us, even in as unlikely a place as an older suburban neighborhood in Sacramento.  This weekend I am determined to bask in all of fall’s blazing colors before they slip away into the messy piles of rotting leaves that December brings.

I think that is the hardest thing about life, if you do not consciously stop to appreciate something, it will slip away before you realize it.  I guess that is the truth to the saying in my family of this too shall pass.  I think that we should add to the end that this too shall pass, whether you like it or not.

I know that I have said it before, but sometimes I wish that I could put life on pause and just stop and take it all in.  Fleeting, but beautiful, but hard, but worth it.  I know that each passing experience leads to another that has its own worth.  I just want to remember to actually stop and appreciate what is around me before it is gone.  A worthwhile sentiment for a month focused on gratitude, I suppose.  

Tagged