Teachers Write 7.10.18 Tuesday Quick-Write with Traci Sorell

Tuesday and Thursday are Quick-Write days at Teachers Write, so our guest authors will be coming by with some writing prompts to try out. Do as much or as little as you’d like with each mini-assignment, and feel free to bookmark those you’d like to use with students later on. Teachers Write posts don’t go anywhere after the summer ends. They’re always here for you to use and share with student writers.

Our guest author today is Traci Sorell, who writes poems as well as fiction and nonfiction works for children—the type of books she sought out in her school and public libraries as a child. Her debut picture book, We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, focuses on the universal spirit of gratitude in contemporary Cherokee culture across the four seasons. Illustrated by Frané Lessac and published by Charlesbridge Publishing, the book shares Cherokee celebrations, history and experiences beginning with the new year in fall and ending at the tribe’s National Holiday in late summer. Traci is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, where her tribe is located.

My debut picture book focuses on Cherokee people expressing gratitude in every season, not just when something good happens or when something asked for has been provided. In Cherokee culture and many others worldwide, cultivating gratitude for both the blessings and struggles experienced is critical to maintaining balance and perspective on life’s journey. It is an intentional practice and a muscle to be strengthened daily.

Your Assignment: Take a moment, close your eyes and reflect on recent blessings and struggles experienced this spring or so far this summer. Sketch or write those down.

Now review what you’ve remembered. Place a star next to the one that speaks most to you. Use this as the basis of a poem, short story, free-write, sketch, picture book, song, etc. Select the method that best resonates with your experience and create! Feel free to share some of your work in the comments if you’d like.

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  1. Stacey Storm
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    My Heart Goes With You

    I look at you and hold you in my arms. You are such a joy. A small bundle, a ray of sunshine. You have won my heart.

    I look at you trying to take your first steps, so determined. I know I will always be there for you, no matter what, but I won’t be able to always catch you…My heart is yours.

    I look at you and hold on tight. Already at three you know your mind and what you want. You have your own style and flair and my heart.

    I look at you as you go off to kindergarten, so excited for a new adventure. I hold back tear and put on a brave smile as I wave and watch the school bus take you away. My heart goes with you.

    I look at you all through school, making friends, holding your values and arguing your point…so fiercely independent. My heart is always with you.

    I look at you, off to college, so eager to explore yet another new adventure without any fear. You are such a sparkle. My heart goes with you.

    I look at you as you leave home,….moving away. You know not a soul yet you are a fearless explorer on a quest. Adventure is your middle name. My heart goes with you.

    I look at you off to a new land with new cultures, language, and danger. You land on your feet and make the most of the situation, always finding the silver lining in your journey. You are such an inspiration to all who know you and call you friend. My heart aches with missing you. My heart goes with you.

    I look at you falling in love. Where will it take you, my sunshine, my sparkle, my independent, strong willed, daughter? My Lindsey Katie My blessing. My heart!

    I look at you wherever you go in this world and I see the wonder and beauty through your eyes and know your dad and I together have helped to create a beautiful soul. Our blessing and gift to the world!

    Our heart goes with you always!

    • Diana Murrell
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

      I loved the repetition of “I look at you” in this poem. The moments you picked were easy for me to connect with, but there were also more personal details that drew me into the story of your poem (sort of a windows and mirrors thing). Beautiful!

      • Stacey Storm
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

        Thank you! It was a little emotional to write.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

      What a beautiful gift you have written for your daughter here! You capture so many poignant moments of your parenting journey. I recommend printing and framing for her.

      • Stacey Storm
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

        Thank you. I will definitely have to do that for her with a special picture.

  2. Kathy
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Kate Messner – Writer

    My daughter’s teacher job hunt, by her teacher mom

    Too much advice
    More interviews
    More lessons
    More tears
    Holding back
    Saying too much
    Praying, wishing, hoping
    Encouraging, pushing
    The phone call that changed everything

    Would you like to be a first grade teacher?

    More tears..

    • Martha Willey
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      This is so cool and descriptive. As moms we take the journey with our children, don’t we. Congrats!

      • Kathy
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much! It has been quite a journey! I really appreciate your feedback!

    • Diana Murrell
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      I really connected with “too much advice” and “saying too much” in this poem. I thought the very short lines helped me to feel the momentum and struggle of your experience. I really liked the two lines that you left around “Would you like to be a first grade teacher?” And “More tears…” because they broke the rhythm of your writing and helped created the climax for me. You have said a lot with very few words!

      • Kathy
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Oh my gosh, thank you so much! I honestly just wrote from the heart!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      Wonderful list poem to capture all that goes into the job hunt! “The phone call that changed everything” is a great phrase to wrap up the list and transition to the offer. Loved it!

      My sister is an elementary school teacher, so I’m going to direct her to your post as I know she’ll recognize all you’ve shared.

      • Kathy
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much! Yes! Everything was definitely changed!

    • Peter von EuIer
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      The list format gives the sense of the twisting journey. It seems like torture while you’re inside it, but in the end there’s some satisfaction from having endured a struggle. It’s the same way with writing for me. Sometimes torture while I’m inside it…

      • Kathy
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        Oh my gosh! Yes! It was difficult for her and for me. I am glad that the poem came through.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Ah yes, the emotional journey we have all been on! I am applying and interviewing for assistant principal jobs now and it is tough… but not like searching for that first teaching job. I have a great teaching job in a very good district, so if I don’t get hired or a job isn’t right for me… it’s all good in the end. The “worst case scenario” is actually pretty darn good. But I work with so many young people hunting for that first teaching opportunity now in such a challenging, competitive market for jobs and I have such sympathy. Here, you have taken that process, all the stages and emotions, and shared it so effectively in a concise yet meaningful way. Well done. And all the best to your daughter on her teaching career!

      • Kathy
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

        Good luck to you! We need principals that are good teachers and are teachers at heart! I love that you still would be happy being a teacher. Thank you for your kind words. I think my daughter will have an amazing principal!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Ahh, I just finished my first year and this really resonated with me. Congrats to your daughter!

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      Love this. Can relate when my daughter was waiting to hear if she’d been accepted at med school. Such emotion when the answer comes.

  3. Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I will definitely be looking for this book when it comes out! Congratulations! I will be at NerdCampMi today (!), but I’ll be doing this assignment for sure. I love that it is a variation of brainstorming things you know about. Reflecting on your blessings is such an important habit, and these things close to your heart can lead to great writing seeds. The struggles aspect really intrigues me, too. I can see how these ideas would also be helpful in sparking writing. Thanks for the wonderful prompt.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Wado (wah-doe or thank you), Cara! I’m finalizing the teacher’s guide for the book now and will be available to download for free on my website, http://www.tracisorell.com. The book just received a starred review from School Library Journal and also one from Kirkus.

      Congrats on being at nErDcampMI! It looks like a wonderful experience. I was invited to nErDcampKS this summer and had a blast with the teachers and librarians there.

      It’s definitely a challenge to express gratitude for the struggles at times, but it helps all of us to cultivate resilency if we do so. I’ve definitely been living this in 2018.

      I look forward to seeing what you write later.

  4. Carolyn Clark
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Anticipating your swift arrival first thing in the morning. Sweeping from one side of the pond to the other keeping me in search of your movement. Perched on a branch for a few seconds before slipping into the tangles of leaves and smaller branches. Grateful for your daily visits. Will miss you when the cold returns but love the idea of someone else finding joy in your movements as you make your way south.

    • Diana Murrell
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Your writing has a very poetic feel! I think it is because you start each sentence with a verb as well as the rhythm of your writing. I have read this over and over, discovering something new each time. I really enjoyed it!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      I love the vivid imagery create with words! A movie played in my mind as I read what you wrote. That ending is superb too.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      I love the focus on the bird here. When, in reality, we all have so many things (big and small) to give thanks for… focusing on the bird and the meaning it has in your day is really nice.

  5. Martha
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Just returned from a trip to the Outer Banks. What a great trip. Here’s my thought.


    Stirring, whirling, hiding life beneath it’s waves
    Mesmerizing, mermaid hiding? Sand between my toes.
    Ocean beckons, real life threatens, waves carry me away.
    I waited years to hear your crashing, taste your salt and feel your aqua caresses.

    Had to say good-bye with tears in my eyes. Back to flat Ohio.
    I’ll dream of you and hold my shells and look at my jar of ocean water
    And think of days spent in your waves.
    And how nothing else mattered.

    Okay, I don’t usually write poetry but this was fun. That’s what I love so much about Teachers Write, is the chance to explore new methods of writing in a safe and supportive environment. Thank you, Traci for giving us this lesson today. I’m going to find a way to work it in with my library kids. Even the youngest ones could make a collage of pictures showing what they are thankful for.

    • Rose Cappelli
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Love your line “Ocean beckons, real life threatens, waves carry me away.” Thanks for sharing and taking me to the ocean this morning!

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        This was my favorite line, also!

    • Diana Murrell
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      Your line about “I waited years to…” was the emotional key for me. It made the second stanza more meaningful. I like the way you used the rule of three so effectively in this poem.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      First, I am a sucker for anything about the ocean so I was hooked right away. Second, I really enjoyed reading this quite a bit. For starters, I thought there was some really interesting contrast built in here. “Ocean beckons, real life threatens” is just one example of where I felt this as a reader. For me, it adds meaning and value to your love for the sea by contrasting it with “real life”. Also, I got a good laugh from “flat Ohio”. It was very blunt and to the point, but worked really well for me in getting your point across… and, like I said, it got me to laugh a bit too. It was also another example of that contrast I liked. Thanks so much for sharing this… and especially for trying poetry outside your comfort zone! Have a great day!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I empathize! I currently live on the outskirts of Kansas City. Your poem made me remember my own trip to the Outer Banks eight years ago. The way you describe your experience there and then the sentiments shared when you have to return to everyday life make this poem hit the mark for me. That’s what I feel every time I leave the ocean too. I never think about time when I’m there and the waves wash over me. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Martha–I love your piece! “Ocean beckons, real life threatens…” A sprinkle of rhyme–always my favorite. I can picture you listening to your shells and smelling your jar of water. 🙂

  6. Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Spring Challenges

    Strong storms including tornadoes.

    No school for 3 days.

    We had 14 snow days.

    No internet so I went to the town library.

    No luck there for internet.

    We ended up getting out of school on June 29.

    We got a survey by e-mail asking if we were willing to work on Memorial Day. 80% of the staff said no.

    As teachers we had to track 12 hours of activity before or after school to make up our hours.

    The Shortest Summer.

    It is a bit of a bummer.

    Trying to not count the days.

    Doing my best to enjoy the summer in great ways.

    Keeping busy reading books.

    Joining Teach-Write to work on writing to show my 5th grade kids.

    So I can show them the work that I did.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      Meg, I feel your pain. Besides my writing life, 2018 has not been an easy year. I always try to stay focused on what the silver linings are in life’s challenges, but some seasons of life are harder than others when the challenges add to be more than the blessings. It sounds like our winters and springs were similar. I love that you are focused on enjoying your shortened summer! That’s what I’m trying to do too.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      2017-2018 was definitely not an easy school year. We had a shorter summer for a different reason – our start date was moved up for next year. I was really counting on this summer to inhale my toddler after all the late nights during the school year, so I feel you! We are doing similar things with our summer! Teachers Write, obviously, but also lots of reading! I hope you have a great one.

    • Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Meg, I feel your pain. I saw a post in another teacher group that asked us to reflect on how we’re going to set up reading workshop for the year (now that it’s July), and I almost lost it. Now that it’s July, I’m only just finished with all the doctor’s appointments I put off during the school year and am just finally winding down from the school year. Now that it’s July, I’ve only been out of school one week. See you in TeachWrite 🙂

  7. Diana Murrell
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    It was unexpected. The phone call telling me to take her to emergency right away. The news that something was wrong. The ambulance drive to another hospital where we would stay because the treatment could only be done there. Fear: heart pounding, mind racing fear. Touching the edge of something horrible and realizing how close we had come.

    And yet. Each day we marvelled at how lucky we had been. To have caught it soon enough. To have the experts close enough. To get the tests and operations we needed right away.

    We were blessed with kind nurses, a private room, wifi.

    And friends. Friends who came from far away and brought laughter, energy and balloons.

    It was a terrible situation, but it wasn’t terrible. And for that, we were grateful.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      I like the staccato feel to this short write. It expresses the intense emotion of those moments but also doesn’t overwhelm the reader. Nicely done, Diana. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Stacey Storm
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      I can feel pain through your writing and hope, lots of hope, and gratitude.

  8. Pamela Tallmadge
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Early Summer Morning
    no headlamp
    school buses
    on the bike path
    squirrels scurry
    a rabbit hops into the woods
    sweet scent of mikweed
    orange dragonfly rests
    on a pink flower
    monarch butterfly flits by
    the lake
    a dark blue under
    cloud cover
    ahead a large rock
    startles me
    with movement
    a snapping turtle
    moves up the bank
    leaves a mound of dirt
    I wonder
    if eggs have been laid
    two people fish
    from a white boat
    under the bridge
    close my eyes
    bird trill
    another sings pretty bird
    pretty bird
    open my eyes
    to sunshine
    sparkling water

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Fantastic imagery, great use of white space to craft the scene. I loved the use of “startles” in the midst of this serene poem about the summer sunrise waking everyone to get about their day. I’m always grateful to behold those scenes myself.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      Love all the specific detail, Pam. The “startle” of the snapping turtle “rock” was also a highlight for me. Thanks for taking us on your nature walk!

  9. Maureen Morrison
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    Just pre-ordered the book before I run out of summer savings. Wise? Yes, as it will be released at the end of each summer when a gratitude reminder is needed. I know I sound bratty, but after 20 years I was asked to share a classroom with someone they moved from elementary school to high school. (It was her 3rd move.)

    Struggles at school
    “Meet your new roommate.”
    Straight from elementary
    You teach in high school.

    In the beginning…..
    Snack wrappers would hurt my ears
    Food did not get love.

    Next, you stopped feeding
    Just said, “No” with such harshness
    My ears still hurting.

    By January
    We were living parallel.
    This was fine with me.

    I’ve learned to confront
    Your meanness hurting students
    Dare I say biased (?)

    Saying “No,” to some
    This was not okay with me.
    Called you on your s#*&t

    I am free from you
    But I will still watch your moves
    Our kids deserve that.

    The stress of school found in jeans.

    • Becky Schneekloth
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Your writing moved me. Sounds like a very trying situation. Thanks for sharing. I hope this year is better for you, but I love how you are focusing on whats best for the kids. That is why we are here.

      Thanks again for sharing.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Maureen. If you email me (traci [at] tracisorell dot com), I’ll send you some book swag for your preorder. Last year sounds like it was particularly trying. That’s a leap from elementary to high school. Your advocacy for your students comes through in the writing as does the conflict in sharing such close quarters. Appreciate you sharing this and hope this next year is better!

    • Stacey Storm
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      You are in inspiration! Continue being a beacon of light for what is right.

  10. Peter von Euler
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    My blessing list was long. Thanks for helping me remember that, Traci. Here’s a quick poem about me and my aging dog, Boo.

    A Different Picture of Me

    I’m flipping through pictures
    The computer way
    Looking for one that will tell me
    The date
    The actual day that I climbed Mt Emmons
    My 46th high peak.
    It’s suddenly important
    To submit that form
    to make official
    Something I accomplished 12 summers ago
    Maybe it’s a bridge to before,
    Maybe it’s a fitbit phenomenon:
    Feats only count if they are recorded,

    But the pictures that stop me are pictures of Boo
    So young, so new,
    His face, deeply black,
    His eyes wide and round
    His paws plump, outsized

    This morning’s face is sharp, white-muzzled,
    flecked with grey around those eyes,
    But soulful.
    Between the photos
    and this live face
    I mark the years we’ve traveled.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Your love for Boo is reflected in your writing. Your heart is there.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Peter, like you I was perusing pictures and noticing the changes, then to now. You’ve captured them well in your poem. I am a dog person. We’ve always had dogs. My dog, Charlie, is the best we’ve ever had. He’s my constant companion. He is now 10, so I know the next few years he’ll be slowing down and aging quicker than I would like. Thanks for the reminder to notice and celebrate.

    • Anne Melgaard
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Peter- Your poem was the 1st that I read this morning before posting my writing about my old dog. It seems like there are a million decisions to make when writing. I’m appreciative of your ability to capture the life you and your dog have experienced together. It reflects back to me my life with my dog. Thanks for that!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I love the title and how you sculpted the poem from me to we. Initially I think it’s going one place and it ends up with emotion and great use of line breaks and white space to reflect a deep love and connection between the two of you. Thank you for sharing this, Peter.

  11. Michelle Hubbard
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I just got engaged while on a trip in the Dominican Republic. Here is a poem about that moment:

    Tuesday on the beach
    We went for a walk along the beach
    My stomach was in knots
    Your hand was held tightly in you pocket
    I thought “this could be the moment”

    You turned me to face you
    You looked directly into my eyes, saying my name
    I thought “this can’t be it, this can’t really be the moment”

    You got on one knee
    And then I knew
    This was the moment
    You said the words, asked the question
    To which I replied yes

    My hand shaking, I put on the ring, the symbol of our commitment, our joy, our love

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Your writing gave us a glimpse into this happy moment. It was like watching a movie with all of the emotions there. Congratulations to the both of you.

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Congratulations! I can feel the anxiousness in the air between you and the anticipation of what is to come. Thank you for sharing this, Michelle. DR is a wonderful place to get engaged.

      • Michelle Hubbard
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much for reading!

  12. Becky Schneekloth
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    As I started to brainstorm, I wanted to write about my husband. Then I started free-writing and I kept getting distracted by other thoughts so I went with it. But we just celebrated our 18 year anniversary so I wanted to write about that. I ended up writing a poem. This just demonstrated for myself how important time is for kids to be able to let their ideas develop. Here’s my poem, hope its not too “mushy.”

    18 years together

    Some were long years
    Some flew by
    Some were exciting
    Sometimes we cried.

    Two amazing children
    Growing everyday
    We were learning from each other
    As if we knew the way.

    Times were trying
    We struggled off and on
    Times were beautiful
    We made each other strong.

    I thank you for your love
    Your heart that beats for us
    you’ve shared yourself with me
    I thank you for that trust.

    I love you.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      Yes! You hit the nail on the head, Becky. We all need to let our ideas develop. It’s easier to brainstorm or make a list than it is to craft that poem, short story, etc. That takes time and refinement as well as revision. Rarely accomplished in one sitting or class period.

      Your poem doesn’t read mushy at all. It reflects a knowing that comes with years of living and loving together. Not easy work, but satisfying with a great partner which it sounds like you have. Congratulations on 18 years together!

  13. Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    This mini lesson was an emotional one for me today. Thank you. I needed it.

    Life’s Journey

    Scrolling through the online posts I watch summer journeys unfold.
    I dream that one day I may be able to venture out into this world.
    It is a world where others journey to far away places.
    It is a world where families visit theme parks or beaches.

    For now I have my own journey.
    Some days I feel like I am climbing mountains.
    Some days I feel I am sinking in mud.
    These days are hard, yet I embrace them.

    I am grateful for each of these days.
    Each day is one more day I get to spend with you.
    Each day is one more day to encourage you.
    Each day is one more day to say I love you.

    When I was young your dream journey was put on hold.
    I’m sure you felt like you were climbing mountains.
    Some days you may have felt like you were sinking in mud.
    Yet you joyfully embraced them all.

    Growing up you knew was hard.
    It was full of ups and downs.
    They were journeys you gladly took with us
    They filled your mother’s heart.

    Now I take this journey with you.
    Some days are filled with ups and downs.
    I joyfully walk them with you.
    Your strength and tenacity fill my heart.

    You show the world your strength.
    You show the world your love.
    Most importantly you show the world how to live.
    For that we are truly blessed.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Wow, the emotion and reflection captured in your poem is powerful. The mix of lament, love and gratitude is palpable. Thank you for taking that journey today, Sandra, and sharing it with us.

  14. Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    What am I grateful for? The list comes to me fast and strong, like floodwaters that have just broken across barriers of stone. My daughter, my whole family, my friends, my health, new job opportunities, vacations, belongings… A new idea resonates with every beat of my heart… until I silence it. It’s too easy. And I don’t want easy. I want value and meaning. I’m after more, something greater, to pursue the worthwhile. In the chasm of my quiet mind I ask again: What am I grateful for?

    The cool, easy flowing air in my lungs, sustaining the very life within me one slow breath at a time. The warm sun against my face, so warm I can see its refreshing rays of gold even with eyes closed. The chorus of merry chirps rising from the teetering train of newborn turkeys crossing through my yard. The melodious tune of the forest birds, trying in vain to drown those babies out. The perfectly soft notes struck by mother nature as she sends gentle breezes rustling through the branches and brush. The resonating spice of the fresh ginger from a breakfast smoothie, still a soft simmer along my taste buds. The scars I wear on my skin, reminders of life’s lessons learned and moments of newly discovered strength. The promise of an upcoming scuba excursion, a total escape where an entire world gets left behind, replaced by the total serenity of the sea. The silly snores and unconscious yips of Riley slumbering a few rooms away… the curiosity of what she dreams of and magical beauty of all dreams. And the chance to write. To have thought, to have emotion, and to share that in words. So grateful… for every little thing.

    So, that was truly a quick write. Just taking a moment to focus on the little things I am thankful for in this precise space and moment. I am already wondering if I could turn it into a poem, get rid of “the” at each sentence start… or keep it if I decided it worked for a poem. Funny how quickly the revision process begins even with a quick write. Thanks so much for the great topic and the great prompt! I can’t wait to read your book!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Definitely see this as poem if you want it to be, just some tightening, add line breaks and white space to make those strong sensory elements strike us even more. I agree about revision. I always want to start editing as soon as I finish and sometimes during the writing! Enjoyed this piece. Thanks for sharing, Mark.

  15. Lynette Alidon
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    CrossFit Challenge

    Get out of bed.
    Look at today’s WOD on the Wodify phone app.
    Text your girl squad to let them know you’ll see them at the box.
    Put on a pair of running shorts,a tank top, sports bra, knee sleeves, ankle socks, and gym shoes.
    Pull hair back into a ponytail.
    Fill up your water bottle.
    Grab your gym bag and car keys.
    Head out the front door.
    Put your gym bag in the truck of your car.
    Put your water bottle in the cup holder.
    Sit down in the driver’s seat.
    Start the ignition.
    Turn on the stereo.
    Back out of the driveway.
    And go.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Wow, what a great motivational write, Lynette! The use of second person voice and short, directive statements go together well. Love the last line.

      • Lynette Alidon
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for your feedback!

  16. Debbie Greco
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Well, this took me down a journey I didn’t expect this morning. Thank you for the prompt.

    Modern Medicine

    They have machines that see
    So much
    It is amazing what they can see
    Of course, it is what they can’t see
    That matters most
    They can take a picture of his brain
    But they can’t see the memories stored there
    The drive down the coast as the rain splashed on the windshield
    The stop at the little café
    A father-daughter moment eating clam chowder
    Safe from the storm
    Striding down the street holding his daughter’s hand
    While she skips along to keep up
    On her way to her first day of kindergarten
    Sitting in the bleachers at a high school basketball game
    Keeping stats for the team
    He notes the basketball player throwing a tantrum
    Turns to his young daughter and says, “That’s a disgrace
    You would never behave that way.”
    Further back in his memory, he remembers his own tantrum
    Throwing a golf club after a bad putt
    His own father caddying, set down the clubs and walked away
    A good father teaches, spends time, loves
    The machine only sees the swelling on the brain
    The daughter sees everything else.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      Wow, Debbie! This is truly moving. Love the ending.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      Glad the prompt produced this piece, Debbie. I enjoyed the images, the story shared from the father-daughter memories, and how it concluded. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Martha Willey
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      Wow. This was so moving and love the starkness of the machine and all it misses..

  17. Ericka Beth
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    It happened because of the chickens;
    I went out to the coop one cold night.
    But then after the rain
    It iced over and I strained
    To stay vertical and quite upright.

    I fell and I hit my head quite hard;
    Post-concussion syndrome’s what they say.
    More than six months have passed,
    Getting better but not fast,
    Just been taking it each day by day.

    This journey has been quite a struggle,
    And it hasn’t been easy, oh boy!
    But I’m thankful because
    I am better than I was
    So I’m finding each day has more joy.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Love that first line! It got my attention for sure. Nice use of humor to portray a challenging situation in an upbeat style.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Almost a limerick! I second Jennifer’s comments. Those chickens . . . Glad you are getting better!

  18. Lynne Richer
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    An acrostic poem about my summer:

    The breeze clips the pages
    I am holding in my hands.
    My heart soars and focuses on
    Everything in front of me.

    Together the characters
    Occupy a place in my life.

    Reaching out I feel them
    Exposing my inner thoughts.
    Around me the world moves on.
    Deeply engrossed am I.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      My summer, too! I love this! I wouldn’t have even realized it was an acrostic at first – and those are the best kind.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      I love acrostics! And this one is about my favorite pastime. Love this. Thank you for sharing.

    • Georgeann
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      Great acrostic! My former 2nd graders used to love to create these. Now, with middle schoolers, I’ll have to encourage them to give this a try.

      Teachers Write is such a new experience for me – Love everyone’s sharing!

  19. Diane
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Summertime, summertime sounds so glorious now.
    Isn’t it all pools and sunscreen? Memories and meaning?
    What if it’s a house so hot the air pushes you down, daring you to sleep under it?
    Or pavement without a view of green that burns even when your feet are cold and wet?
    What about the summer slide that takes so many on its ride
    by keeping resources on only one side?t
    For how many is it loneliness each evening as onlies of mamas trying to keep the money coming and food on the plate,
    keeping away the wants like a crushing weight?
    Too many know fear of long days and longer nights with only TV character friends as distractions and not even human interactions,
    in a place where they stay but do not live and grow.
    awaken in mornings stiff and cautious to that air heavy with lack of progress?
    Summertime, summertime ain’t it over yet time?
    Ease them back into that bright colorful air conditioned til crisp space
    with that smiling woman never tiring
    Even breakfast, lunch, internet, snack, recess, and books that rhyme.
    Summertime, summertime it is over now. Time to learn and grow now.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

      LOVE this, Diane. Such realism in the word choice and images created with them. As you obviously know, this is summertime for many children in our communities across this nation. You have captured that in this quick write so adroitly. Thank you for sharing.

      • Diane
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much for your time and kind words.

  20. Anne Melgaard
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    My focus was either going to be my kids or my dog…the dog won because as I was choosing from my list, he made this deep expressive wheezing sound. I am a 3rd grade teacher and my “voice” in my writing reflects that. My writing is unfinished but this is what I have from today’s wheeze:

    He’s snoring again. Okay, maybe not snoring…more like a wheezing sigh? It was just one big heavy sigh. He’s totally out and we didn’t even do anything strenuous. No hiking or water activated stress from a stand-up paddle board tour.

    But he’s a dog, right? That’s what dogs do, they rest. Plus, he’s an old dog. 14 years old- Holy smokes, that’s 98 in dog years. That’s kind of amazing!

    The 1:30am barking at some uninvited raccoon or deer might have something to do with his leisure this morning. Our cherry trees out back pull all kinds of visitors down the driveway, day and night.

    I got up when he barked and let him out (to avoid an accident in the “wee” hours of the night) and his nose hit the ground instead of floating around up in the air so I think it was a smaller wild critter that caught his attention. I’m never exactly sure what he finds but as soon as his nose hit the gravel driveway, he took a sharp left and headed under the back deck and 10 minutes later returned from around the front of the house as he walked, yes walked, all relaxed down the driveway and inside the backdoor with no concern that his person might want to go back to bed, as if no adventure ever happened.
    But with the nose of a dog, adventures are bound to happen…

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      You painted a clear picture of your dog, his personality and the scene. I bet your students would enjoy hearing this story and sharing their own pet adventures with you. My sister is a third grade teacher with a dog who is always good for a story or two. Thanks for sharing!

  21. Bruce Bloome
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    We are sitting on the screen porch.
    Evening is dawning…
    a mix of day and night,
    dark and light,
    gray and white.
    An ebbing of day slowly obscures my vision,
    and paints shadows over trees, lake, and shore.
    My over-relied-on sense of sight surrenders its reign…
    and sound seeps in to fill the voids with
    the song of the night.
    Sounds of darkness,
    some recognizable,
    but most unknown and mysterious,
    fill the air, and compose a
    symphony of cacophony,
    while the fountain fills the air with
    falling water…
    droplets splashing down,
    creating a rain-like rhythm
    which spatters, splashes, and spills
    into the twilight symphony.
    I feel a thousand eyes studying
    the night,
    seeing what I no longer can.
    The moon merges into view,
    spotlighting the lake like a feature performer.
    Ripples, rings, and runners
    interrupt the lake’s mirror,
    then vanish, leaving only questions.
    The lullaby of the lake tempts us to sleep,
    hinting us to leave like guests who have overstayed their welcome.
    The fountain ends its day and silently rests.
    We rise, and move into air-conditioned silence,
    until tomorrow night when we’re sitting on the screen porch.

    • diane
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Love the feeling this gives, subtle but I feel a gray day and night slowly taking my sight replaced with sound. So good.
      My favorites…
      day and night, dark and light, gray and white
      Spatters, splashes, spills
      Ripples, rings and runners

      • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        I love my screen porch too! I agree with Diane that I I love your use of consonance.

        These lines are great examples of that and the perfect transition to describe what happens at twilight as the growing darkness changes our outdoor experience.

        My over-relied-on sense of sight surrenders its reign…
        and sound seeps in to fill the voids with
        the song of the night.

        Thank you for sharing this!

        • Bruce Bloome
          Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

          It felt wonderful to write again after a long break. I had almost forgotten the pleasure and release of the written word. Thank you for reading my piece and taking the time to give feedback.
          I love the sound and the feel of language flowing onto the page.

  22. Bethany Farley
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    My name is Bethany. I teach high school English in Oklahoma. I have been a lurker during Teachers Write! for the past couple of years. I fully intended to keep up that trend, but I did the exercise today as a journal entry and, while in the middle of a paragraph, realized that the sentences I had just written were making me want to write a poem. I haven’t written a poem in the seven years since my dad died, so it was unexpected and felt like a breakthrough. I thought I would honor that by sharing. It’s a first draft that I don’t have time right now to revise (I’m supposed to be somewhere in fifteen minutes! Eek!), but I am going to share anyway. I wrote about the end of a friendship and feeling the struggle and blessing in that.

    Anger. Pain. Frustration. Betrayal.
    Frustration. Hurt. Frustration. Betrayal.
    Anger. Anger. Anger.

    The crescendo of emotions
    Grows louder and louder.
    It reaches a fever pitch,
    And then—

    The birds are singing outside my window.
    Their song sounds so happy, and I smile.
    It looks like it might rain today.
    I wonder if I should take my brother to lunch.

    Beneath the noise,
    I found a word I didn’t expect.
    When I worked through what I was feeling,
    What I was feeling was

    I brace myself for a new round of emotions.
    Sadness. Guilt. Pain. Loss.
    I wait in vain.

    What waits for me is unexpected.
    It’s a soothing balm of relief.
    The world is let in.
    I feel content.
    I feel…
    (Dare I say it?)…
    I feel…

    Goodbye, my friend.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

      Yay for breakthroughs! The fourth stanza ‘Beneath the noise….Goodbye” is gold.

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      Bethany–I like your piece. “a soothing balm of relief.”

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

      YAY for Oklahoma teachers! My sister teaches elementary school in Tulsa.

      I’m happy that you jumped in today, wrote and shared. I love the pivot from the crescendo of emotions to the birds. The poem demonstrates the evolution of feelings which can take a long time to work through and your use of punctuation, white space and word choice show that process and struggle. It’s work. Thank you for sharing this.

  23. Stacey Corrigan
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Growing boys
    Refrigerator raid
    Apples gone
    Tacos too
    Even broccoli
    Full bellies

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

      Hahahaha!! As the mother of 3 teenage boys, I can so relate!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

      “Even broccoli”

      I love it! My boy is only 2, but I used to work at a grocery store and I definitely saw the difference between groceries for families with multiple teen boys and everyone else, hehe.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      An acrostic is one of my favorite styles. I love the complete scene you create with such tight wording. Nicely done! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Andy Starowicz
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Final Quarter Rollercoaster

    May, June,
    What a blur,
    The tension builds,
    Higher, higher, higher,
    Progress reports, AIS reports,
    Library books due, schedules for next year,
    Final projects, finals test, final report card grades,
    Tie-dying shirts, signing yearbooks, bingo,
    Field days, half-days, final fun,
    Coast, coast, coasting,
    The tension lessens,
    Summer break,
    July, August.

    Thank you, Ms. Sorell. A great writing prompt for a beautiful sunny day.

    • Cari Negri
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Love this

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Fun use of line length to create tension and release!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

      I definitely felt like I was on the roller coaster of late spring with you, Andy! Thank you for sharing this with us. Hope you are well into the coasting of July now.

  25. Cari Negri
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    College search

    Can it be?
    Only yesterday you were so small
    Laughing, when I tickled you
    Laughing , while you pretended to be a Hun
    Eager to explore and grow up
    Grumpy teenager, but I can still see my baby
    Easy for you to leave, so hard for me to let you go

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      Ah, yes! This will be a year full of mixed emotions to fuel your writing!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      When the time comes, it may not be so easy to leave. But I love what you capture here and how fast it goes from the little one to the teen on the verge of launching into adulthood. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Vanessa Ouellette
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    You sat on my lap in the library,
    Surrounded by towers of books.
    Thumb in mouth

    Your eyes followed the kids with the blocks
    Back and forth
    A cat tracking a toy.

    Suddenly you lunged out of my lap
    Knees flying
    Elbows racing
    A salamander on the striped carpet.

    I watched you gulp independence
    In gasping, hurried breaths
    As you joined the other kids on the rug.
    Without looking back.
    Not even

    When it was time to go
    I gingerly picked the block out of your mouth
    Wiped it on my shirt.
    You beamed.
    Your eyes sunshiny.
    You fell asleep on the way home.
    And when I picked you up,
    You leaned against me,
    So little
    And so big
    All at once.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      What a great capture of a moment that’s more than a moment. I especially love the lines “I watched you gulp independence/ In gasping, hurried breaths”. And the ending.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      I love the metaphors and active verbs that capture the child’s physical and mental agility. Effective use of line breaks too. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Kathy
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely loved reading all of your responses! Thank you all for sharing a part of you with me! I look forward to this writing time together!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      It has been a great day! I’ve enjoyed reading all of these. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

  28. Kay
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    I am on the west coast, so just posting now. So fun reading all he responses. Last month, I was able to travel to Italy. Many of the “blessings” that I wrote down were how grateful I am for the artists who lived during the Renaissance, especially Michelangelo.

    One who can instill a sense of awe, terribilita.
    We gaze, we ponder, we stare.
    The Sistine Chapel, the Last Judgment, the David.
    Frescos of faded orange, green, yellow, and blue bodies, muscles, “bizarro e fantastic” as
    critics have sometimes called him–withdrew from company of others.
    He was a lone artist.
    The Pieta, commissioned by the French Cardinal, and you, Michaelengelo, only 25 or 26!
    Nine months to choose the just the right Carrara marble for the youthful Mary holding her son, The Christ.
    I gaze, I ponder, I stare.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      I like how you weave Italian into the writing. I could see more of it added relatively seamlessly if you’d like. I like how you start with his name and end with an adjective to describe his work. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Jennifer Hernandez
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Gratitude: Summer

    Lazy mornings
    Hot coffee
    Cat purring
    in my lap

    Light breeze
    A view of the lake
    from the deck

    Teenage boys
    Mostly sorting it out
    on their own

    Back scratches
    Foot rubs
    Up past midnight
    just a few pages more

    Thank you Traci, for this prompt. Much of my writing (and thinking) these days tends toward outrage and despair. It’s important to remember gratitude. So much is still good. I’ll be on the lookout for your beautiful book!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      I needed your post too. It’s definitely a difficult season with a lot of despair and outrage on a variety of fronts. Gratitude is medicine that keeps us healthy as we experience both. I appreciated the reminder of summer’s unstructured time through the images you crafted. I haven’t experienced that yet this season, but I am making a point to schedule that now. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Laura Tucker
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I am reflecting on life and the blessing of a new day (with the help of my 6 year old daughter):

    Sunday is Special
    Monday is Marvelous
    Tuesday is Terrific
    Wednesday is Wild
    Thursday is Thriving
    Friday is Fun
    Saturday is Super

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      I love that you responded to the prompt with your 6 yo daughter! That makes my heart full. She helped you come up with great descriptions for each day. Already looking forward to Wild Wednesday! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Kathryn H.
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    One of my struggles this summer was to catch up on cleaning my house.

    Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
    Dust and mildew await me.
    Wait. Procrastinate.
    Dirt and dust surround me.
    Think. How long can cleaning be delayed?
    Soap scum. Hard water. Grime.
    Lifelong enemies.
    Perhaps someone shall save me!
    Dear Husband begs, “Please help!”
    Today, I clean and curse and scrub.
    Tomorrow, the house sparkles with my tears of defeat.

    • Jennifer Hernandez
      Posted July 10, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Especially love the first four lines of this poem, Kathryn. Maybe because that’s where I live, too! I have company coming later this week. Hoping that helps to motivate!

      • Kathryn H.
        Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

        Thanks! That’s exactly why I’m cleaning too!

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes! This. Your words convey the range of emotions that accompany housecleaning, especially dread. Good luck! Thanks for sharing.

  32. Posted July 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    One of my blessings this summer has been time to read, especially middle grade literature. I don’t have a title yet (and not sure if I will come up with one, but I’ll keep it in mind).

    I dive from world to world,
    Slipping on others’ shoes.
    Together, we endure
    Upon struggle,
    Upon struggle,

    And then —
    The light shines in.

    With hope anew,
    I slip off those shoes
    And dive again
    Swimming through pages turning,
    Words that set my heart churning,
    (And keep my mind learning).

    The shoes come off,
    But only so
    I can pass them on.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      I love how you use swimming and shoes to convey your experience reading books. I envision some type of water shoes, flippers, etc. that allow you to plumb depths not readily visible from land or the surface. Here’s to a great summer of reading! Thanks for sharing.

    • Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Me too with the reading! My kids keep suggesting books and do I keep reading them! I love the first line especially–that is how it’s felt this summer!

  33. Karla B Santoro
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Every Day Comforting Things

    Comforting things.
    The smell of the barn in the morning:
    hay in the mow,
    pine shavings,
    Nickers to greet me.

    The last stall cleaned.

    Chickens in the coop.
    Brown eggs in nests.

    The smell of coffee after chores.
    Wrapping hands around a steaming cup.

    Back home.
    Joyful dog greeter.
    Welcome nickers.
    The cat asking for treats.

    Tea with honey.

    Barn prep at dusk.
    Stillness at sundown.
    The Big Dipper,
    Everyone tucked in,

    Two heated herb bags
    between the sheets,
    under a favorite
    flannel backed quilt
    or two.
    A good book,
    pages to turn.

    Comforting things.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      You have written a wonderful list of every day comforting things. Your word choice and line breaks touch all the senses. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      No barn or horses (to the sadness of my Misty/Black Stallion reading self) for me growing up but a country girl and I definitely feel this– and even if I wasn’t I think this list poem really would resonate with anyone who has worked hard and come home ready to sleep content. Loved it!

      • Karla B Santoro
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Thank you! I teach first grade–and had to explain to them why I left a day in the classroom out. lol That is a whole ‘nother poem. I wrote one about work boots they asked me to read three times. (It had “poop” in it. So–THAT’S how to get their attention!)

  34. Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Rats! I meant to write about a ginormous cup of frozen custard my kids and I had at Greenfield Village yesterday (so very grateful for it on a hot July day!), but ended up with a triolet about the past meeting the present. How does this happen?! I guess both the past and present are blessings and struggles, so I’m going with it! 🙂

    At the Village
    We walk the paths to see the past
    come back to life. In present’s shine
    we wonder what was built to last;
    we walk the paths to see. The past,
    a spark, reveals what forebears passed
    to us. As past and now entwine,
    we walk the paths. We see the past
    come back to life in present’s shine.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

      Writing about custard can still happen! Thank you though for sharing this triolet, which weaves wonderful words and sentiments together.

      • Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        No barn or horses (to the sadness of my Misty/Black Stallion reading self) for me growing up but a country girl and I definitely feel this– and even if I wasn’t I think this list poem really would resonate with anyone who has worked hard and come home ready to sleep content. Loved it!

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Oh what fun to have your words roll about as I read your poem. I now need to look up triolet. 🙂

      • Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Traci!

        Thanks, Karla! Triolets are fun to write–nice and rhymey without needing lots of rhyming words!

  35. Kristin E Kochheiser
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Empty Nest

    Like a bird’s nest
    Settled in the tree
    A basket of wispy, woven twigs
    Its carefully crafted crater
    A warm, welcome space
    To feathered families
    Where parent birds
    Work tirelessly to raise their babes
    Singularly focused
    Flapping, feeding, flying, feeding
    Until the day arrives when
    Young become strong
    Wings extend
    Wind uplifts
    And away the “no-longer” babes fly
    Leaving the nest
    Empty of activity
    Quiet of song
    Spring to summer
    An empty nester
    I now
    Truly am

    K.Kochheiser 7/10/18

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      I love how you take the phrase “empty nest” and bring it to life with your word choice. The reader can feel the pronounced difference between the season of activity and then the season of quiet that occurs. Thank you for sharing.

      • Kristin E Kochheiser
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        Thank you Traci for your “noticings” and reflection on my poem. I appreciate it! I can’t wait to add your book to my classroom! We do a lot of gratitude-focused work in my classroom, and I look forward to doing this specific activity with my students!

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      How lovely. There are bird nests in new unusual places in the barn this year, and they are on their second round of empty nesting.

      As for the human side–there’s not a lot of years, it seems, between empty nest and grandkids. Grandparenting… now there’s a fabulous writing topic. 🙂

  36. Aubrey Jones
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Hurt is something that has been a part of my life
    It has taken its long withering toll
    Becoming married to me like a wife
    The pain that has continued to inflict my soul

    This has created a hole
    The emotions has put a strange outlook
    I have begun to think that this is what makes me whole
    There was an event that baited me like a fish on a hook

    I could get rid of the pain
    that has always been a goal of mine
    Now I can’t get this off my brain
    all the things i can do makes me pine

    I could transform into a new me
    I could do more or I could do less
    there are so many things I can be
    look for me in some way in the associated press

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      The heaviness of the pain and its toll comes through in your word choice. Interesting use of simile too. The last line leaves me so curious. AP, huh? Thanks for sharing.

  37. Melanie Shurtz
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    In a college poetry class as I joke I wrote a rhyming poem about myself “There Once was a girl named Mel” over the years I have continued writing poems about my life all with that first line and always rhyming (even a poem that I read to my husband for our wedding), so when I was thinking about what I wanted to do with my quick-write I decided it was time for a new “There Once was a girl named Mel” poem.

    There once was a girl named Mel
    Living a life she thought was swell
    It’s been a year since she made her latest move
    This summer she finally feels in the grove

    There is no need this summer to do anything taxing
    Just lots and lots of reading and relaxing
    Some exploring is also there to do
    If not today, there’s always tomorrow too

    After a few summers being off work together
    It’s hard not to miss my love tether
    Houdini and Persephone are great cuddle bugs
    But together the three of us are like a bunch of slugs

    I can do exploring on my own
    But I’d rather do it with you than alone
    Our first year here was pretty great
    I’d definitely say it was first rate

    I’m looking forward to year number two
    As we sill have so many fun things to do
    This move may not be my last
    But we’ll stay here as long as I’m having a blast

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      I love that you write an ongoing series of poems about life as a girl named Mel. Thanks for sharing this one.

  38. Donna Williams
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Somehow can’t get into the mood to write today. Two busy days have left me processing a visit to the Dali museum in St. Petersburg, and a visit to Cocoa beach to see the sunrise, followed by a dinner at a wonderful German restaurant. All blessings with my wonderful boyfriend. I met him a month ago while mourning the death of my mate in January from acute myleloid lukemia. Many friends think that Leroy was arranging Eldon and I’s meeting. He is some like Leroy, and looks some like Leroy but is more boisterous than Leroy was. He makes me laugh, something I had not done in the nine months of chemo poisoning my love’s body, days of loving him but losing him to this insidious disease.

    This loss devastated me.It was like losing the other half of me.I was lost and sinking.

    Finding Eldon and falling in love revived me, made me have a partner in crime so to speak. WE think very much alike, sometimes scarily so.

    I actually met him when he responded to this poem I wrote with a poem of his own on a Facebook page.

    This poem was really written for King Louis XV and his mistress DeBerry, but I think it speaks of the universal theme of love.

    The Thief

    Love me with urgency,
    for lovers steal time
    they do not have.

    Kiss me with the passion,
    of time standing still
    And the estacy of the past and the future,
    for our time is now.

    This minute, this hour,
    Tell me the lie that all lovers tell,
    That time,
    will never start again.
    That we will be,
    as immortal,
    as the lovers of Pompeii.

    When the clock strikes one,
    leave me with the promise,
    of your return,
    to steal time.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Donna, you were in the mood to write today! All that you shared above the poem reflects the grief, the struggle, the love and the light you’ve experienced during the past few seasons. Thank you for sharing your journey through this painful loss and for introducing me to this poem.

      • Donna Williams
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Thank you for your kind comments. Im glad you like my poem.

  39. Amy Bortnick
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    My New Adventure

    On June 14, I was informed
    “You will be moved,” he said
    “Huh?” was my first reply
    “What? From ninth and tenth grade to seventh?”
    “Your new principal says you’ll do a great job,” he said
    “I am not opposed to change, but this late in the game is very unfair”
    He simply smiled. Left my room
    I emptied file cabinets—reduced from four to one
    I took down posters completely covering all four walls, hiding holes, chipped paint
    I moved furniture
    People called me a hoarder—I threw out more stuff
    I packed boxes, unpacked them in my new home
    I looked longingly at my bookshelves, filled with books I love to teach
    I locked the door behind me, got a new key, a new room, new books
    A new adventure

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      Wow, Amy. What changes you’ve had to process in these past few weeks. Your writing provides a clear window into that process. I appreciate how you welcome this new adventure as you labeled it and believe your seventh grade students will also. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Cathy MacKechnie
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    My Father, My Kids

    The joy on his face when he watches my kids
    Takes my breath away each time,
    At ninety-one he still has a twinkle in his eye
    And celebrates with me all their small victories.

    He is fascinated by their every thought
    And takes the time to listen and explain,
    What a special time to share with my Dad
    Watching my kids transforming into these amazing little things.

    How lucky am I, to have this moment with my Dad
    Three generations all together ~ for how much longer, that is unknown.
    My gratitude for his good health – I do acknowledge.
    So we will take each summer as a gift and just sit back and watch the kids grow.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

      I love the intergenerational focus of your writing. Gratitude for so many aspects of these relationships between the three generations comes through clearly. Thanks for sharing!

    • Susan MacKay-Logue
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Cathy, there is a special place in my heart for generational writing. Your piece took me back to when my father was alive and he loved watching the kids do just about anything. What a blessing those moments were! Thank you for sharing.

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      Cathy–I love your poem. “and celebrates with me all their small victories.” I adore your father. I am a grandmother…

  41. Tracy
    Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I feel us walking away from the blood sweat and tears – so many tears – that brought us here. For how long did you languish with your intelligent mind and capable body, thrown aside by so many?
    How many times did I cry because things would never be the way I thought they should? How many times did you anger at my asking more than you thought you had – more than I thought I had? How powerfully, did we feel that indescribable partnership and hear accolades to the grace, the power, the bond that was us? How often did I think we would labor under the hot sun indefinitely? We worked. We did not give up. We put foot and hoof forward and we brought us here, to me opening the gate for you onto gently rolling fields, divided by trickling streams, as the morning fog rises to reveal the peaceful green that fills your every day now. Your happiness and peace is my happiness and peace.

    • Posted July 10, 2018 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      The sense of connection, struggle and ultimately acceptance come through strongly in your word choice. Thank you for sharing this.

      • Tracy
        Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        Thank you for your response, Traci. I’m afraid I wrote this much too late at night. The typos haunt me in the light of day.
        My sweet old boy is my everything. As a future without him approaches, I’ve found that writing helps with the process. Often, ithis writing doesn’t make sense or is just gushing emotion, but it is therapy nonetheless.

  42. Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
    For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
    A time to be born, and a time to die;
    A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
    A time to kill and a time to heal;
    A time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
    A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to seek, and a time to lose;
    A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
    A time to tear, and a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    A time to love, and a time to hate;
    A time for war, and a time for peace.

    The past few years of my life have been pretty challenging. I’ve transitioned from teaching English to being librarian, which entailed 2 ½ years of schooling to earn a credential. A close friend, one I’ve known for 30 years, has drifted away, both emotionally and physically. I have no earthly idea where she is, but I know that she is not in a good place and does not want me around. And my 90-year-old grandmother, who as lived with us for the past 15 years, got dementia and passed away right before Christmas. And today I celebrated my 50th birthday.
    For three years my life has been going a thousand miles an hour and this summer it came to a complete and utter standstill. These verses in Ecclesiastes are all about balance. I’m not sure what that looks like.
    But in the silence, there is healing, and a time to remember, and a time to mourn.

    She was the life of the party
    Told tall, tall tales that grew with each telling
    Got herself into the craziest of scrapes
    Like the time she knocked over the entire display of Seagram’s
    at the corner liquor store
    Or when she got into the wrong car with the wrong man
    Or when she locked herself into the bathroom at Ford’s Theatre
    and the fire department had to take the door off
    She was generosity itself
    Christmas Eve was an explosion of boxes and wrapping paper
    She always found a way to pay the check
    She always had time to listen and laugh
    There wasn’t a dog or cat that she didn’t love
    Or feed
    Or feed to excess
    She was independent and stubborn
    She though of herself as easygoing
    Yet she was more like the boulder in the middle of the river
    Rather than the leaf floating on the surface
    She was he rock of the family
    Always there
    Until she wasn’t
    And I miss her.

    • Becky Schneekloth
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      I am so sorry for the loss of this amazing lady. She certainly left an impact on the world. I really loved your stream of consciousness style of writing, it demonstrated how deep she will always be with you.


      • Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Becky. She was well loved. I still talk to her everyday. I can hear her laughter when I do something odd, which is often.

    • Karla B Santoro
      Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Tiffany–I still have goose bumps from reading about your Gram (That is what I called my grandmother.). What an amazing lady. Beautiful tribute.

      • Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Thank you Karla. We turned her room into a study and I sit in there every day, drink tea, eat a slice of toast (she subsisted on tea and toast), and miss her. It hurts, but it’s a healing kind of hurt. I was so lucky to have her in my life for 50 years.

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink


      I’m thrilled this summer is finally giving you a season of reflection from what has definitely been a whirlwind of activity, trying times and loss.

      I love the four stanzas of the poem each starting with “she was.” That last one packs the punch. Thank you for sharing this. Keep writing.

  43. Posted July 11, 2018 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    I’m a day late. After my list, here’s what I wrote:

    Why now of all times?
    And why has it hit so hard?
    A brick wall.
    Almost. Not quite.
    Doesn’t cut it anymore.
    I want to quit.
    That’s not me.
    Yet here I am.
    Do I give myself a deadline?
    Draw a line in the sand?
    A New Year’s
    I don’t keep.
    Maybe that yes
    Is on that elusive horizon.
    Open the laptop.
    Open the document.
    I’ll revise

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Theresa, the raw anguish and frustration before acceptance to try again is so wonderfully sparse. I’m in the midst of a picture book revision and drafting two others, so I relate the sentiments shared in your poem. Thank you for posting.

  44. Posted July 11, 2018 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Congrats on your upcoming book, Traci!

    This is going to seem like THE most random question, but did you attend a picture book workshop with Caroline Starr Rose in Albuquerque a couple years back? If so, I sat next to you! Is this book the fruits of your labor? So exciting!

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      NOT random at all, Angela. Yes, I did! Small world! My little guy and I were in town in August 2016 to see friends as I had lived there for several years. When I saw Caroline was offering a workshop, I knew I had to attend.

      No, I had just sold this book that spring to Charlesbridge and then was querying agents at the time to represent my other manuscripts.

      I’m having a book launch event in Albuquerque on Sunday, Sept. 16th at 1:00pm at Red Planet Books & Comics. I’d love to see you there! Thanks for reaching out and posting.

  45. Susan MacKay-Logue
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Your grunts and growls are music.
    Your gurgles and gas delight.
    Your eyes dominate your tiny scrunched face, and reflect the wonder of every new experience.
    You are more than an infant.
    You are history and future dreams wrapped in a warm blanket.
    Your arms and legs churn, practicing skills that strengthen you for taking on the world.
    Your mom radiates from your smile, or is that me, or my mother, or my mother’s mother?
    Your tiny fingers wrap around mine and hold tightly, creating a connection stronger than flesh.
    Your soul speaks to mine.
    Your blood flows from your ancestors, and its current carries our future.
    You are remarkable.
    You are my granddaughter.

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

      Susan, what a lovely poem full of active verbs, consonance and images that help us see the love and connection between the generations. I hope you’ll frame this for her. What a great gift! Thank you for sharing.

      • Susan MacKay-Logue
        Posted July 16, 2018 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        Thank you for the kind words, Traci. I appreciate the encouragement.

  46. Heather Jensen
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Everyone! My name is Heather. I teach 5th grade. I have been at Nerd Camp for the past few days. I hope it is not too late to add to this awesome quick write idea! Thank you Traci for the great idea. Here is what I wrote this morning:

    Summer Evolution for a Teacher

    Trauma ruled the year–what happened to you?
    Tough year
    Reflecting back–did I handle it best?
    Tough year
    Regretful decisions–what did I learn?
    Tough year
    Goodbye for now–are you okay at home?
    Tough year
    Letting go of a tough year–how do you decompress?
    Summer solace
    Reading for fun–is it important to you?
    Summer solace
    Writing each morning–will the novel appear?
    Summer solace
    Floating by the pool–how do you recharge?
    Summer solace
    Visits to the library–what is your favorite read?
    Summer solace
    Farmer’s Market Thursday–what will I discover?
    Summer solace
    Friends and family–won’t you come over?
    Summer solace
    Nerd Camp–what inspired me?
    Anticipating new year
    Conversations that matter–how did your thinking evolve?
    Anticipating new year
    Professional reading–how will my practice grow?
    Anticipating new year
    School supplies–what will my kids need?
    Anticipating new year
    Summer Vacation for a teacher–how do you fill your heart and soul?
    Anticipating new year

    • Posted July 11, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      Your poem resonated (in a loud voice) with me. This was a tough school year for me. I shed more tears than I have in my last 28 years of teaching. I loved reading your transition to summer and then back to thoughts of a new year—hopefully re-charged. Thank you for sharing.

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Heather, I like how you couple the three different repeating phrases to underscore the process of your evolution. I hope Nerdcamp inspired you even more after a tough school year. I recently presented at NedcampKS and got even more excited about sharing my book with kids after what has been a difficult spring. Hang in there and keep writing and reflecting! Thanks for posting.

  47. Jane Weiland
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi Traci,
    Thanks for your time on TeachersWrite. I look forward to reading your picture book this Fall. I am re-entering the classroom as a 4th grade teacher this year having spent the last 10 years as a Reading Recovery teacher. In addition to getting my hands on as many books as I can before the school year starts, I want to make writing more of a priority so that I can grow as a writer and help my students do the same. For this assignment, I decided to focus on the struggles I have playing piano in front of crowds. I describe a recent experience of this before and during my performance in freewriting style, although I have only ever done freewriting a few times in my life. I set the timer for 5 minutes and am copying exactly what I had written on paper. Not sure where to go with the writing after a freewrite like this, so any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    ***I wrote thoughts that came to my mind and kept the writing going so I did not concern myself much with punctuation/complete sentences

    Nervous. sweaty hands. stomach aching. watching others play and hear them make mistakes. Start thinking I am going to make them too. shuffle through my music at my seat. move around on chair look through program to see when it is my turn. Scared frightened as bright lights shine on the piano thinking it will be me up there soon. I hate the spotlight. don’t want people to stare. what if I make a mistake? But I played it perfectly at home can I do it here? Am I really that prepared? my turn to go I walk nervously to piano afraid to look at people. move the bench up place music on stand…whatever it’s called..move back. adjust bench begin to play-oh so loud! nerves kicking in. start playing faster everybody is looking I can feel it. I can’t make a mistake. dreadful feelings inside I just want this to be over lose concentration as I hear Olga’s voice telling me to foucs and listen to the music but I can’t not here-only at home oh-this is miserable calm down I tell myself. make this music nice for the audience fingers moving faster trembling feet shaking trying to find calm

    Jane 🙂

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Jane, this quick write lends itself to a poem. You have natural line breaks already in place for most of it. Bring that to the mid-section to tighten it up and you see what you think. I like when you describe sensory details of the experience because they convey the range of emotions you are experiencing as you prepare and then start to play.

      Best of luck in fourth grade! Thank you for sharing your work.

  48. KDE
    Posted July 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I am so glad to hear of this book! I am from NE Oklahoma too (Dewey to be exact) and I am so glad to know there is a picture book I can share with my students where I live now that can show in a nonstereotypical manner about the culture of my home. Thank you.

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Thanks for posting! I was born in Claremore and lived in a number of small towns, but consider Nowata my hometown since we stayed there the longest. I used to go roller skating at the rink in Dewey as a child.

      I’ll have a teacher’s guide on my website (www.tracisorell.com) soon to accompany the book.

      Thanks for posting.

  49. Kirsten
    Posted July 12, 2018 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Hi! I just got back from Nerd Camp and I can’t stop reflecting on that experience. This is a poem/list of the feelings we shared. Happy to be here, and thanks for your time!

    Nerd out.

    • Posted July 13, 2018 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      This a is great list of feelings coupled with “Read.” My man feeling as I saw all the social media posts was jealousy! Everyone looked like they were having a great time. Thank you for sharing your poem.

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