the daily thing

I’m sweaty from running C to school in the stroller, breakfast dishes are still on the table, I’m hungry, and I need a shower before my 9am call.

But I told my friend Wig I would do a 21-day writing challenge. Because I can’t run away from needing a daily writing practice any longer. Every writing teacher will tell you that if you want to be a writer, you need a daily writing practice. Well, I’ve always bristled at the notion of a daily anything.

As soon as I think, “this [fill in the blank] is good for me, I should do it every day!” my internal debate cranks up: “…unless I really don’t feel like it, or if something urgent comes up, or if I need a break, I can give myself permission to skip.” And then I don’t really do it at all.

My first blog was called “I should be writing” and contained 2-3 posts. No, maybe 1 post!

Yes, life is BUSY. But I can do 20 minutes. I can.

Every day, I get up at 5:30am and feel overwhelmed by the options–meditate? exercise? pack lunches? read? meal plan? drink lemon water? sip coffee? work? write? It’s the only time of the day that’s just for me, and lately I’ve been absolutely squandering it looking at who knows what my phone. (When I give myself zero downtime, this is how I “act out.”)

I crave the satisfaction of knowing that I’m not running away from my thing.

I’m in the middle of several writing projects and ideas so half the battle is figuring out which to focus on. This blog is one of my writing projects! I’m amazed that it’s still rolling along after almost TEN YEARS! So grateful you’re still out there listening.

My sister started a daily podcast. She’s so awesome at it. I can see her momentum building and her ideas flowing and she hasn’t even officially launched it yet but it’s already taking her to exciting new places. And it’s DAILY!

That’s what I want.

Figuring out where this fits in my day is a true puzzle. But I have to start. I GET to start.

And now I’ve (re)started! xo


idea list

On Friday, my newly-minted second-grader came home with a homework assignment: come up with 10 story ideas from your personal experience.

In the instructions, the teacher made it clear that parent(s)/guardian(s) should help with the brainstorming, but the child should actually write out the list. As such, we decided to keep the story ideas short–but with enough information to trigger the actual story in E’s mind.

The teacher also asked her students to keep the ideas very specific: instead of writing about a whole vacation, write about the moment you found a jellyfish on the beach. Instead of the whole watermelon, write about a seed.

As we started to brainstorm, I had the passing thought that it might be hard to come up with 10 interesting stories, especially given the limitations of the past 1.5 years.

Nope. E’s list looked like this:

  1. sturgeon
  2. kindergarten table
  3. sting ray
  4. vulture
  5. spider door
  6. spider bed
  7. goal
  8. turtle
  9. aunt nose
  10. monarchs

This exercise taught me a lot. Here are 10 things I got from it:

  1. I consider myself an experienced writer–yet I can still learn a lot from a simple second-grade exercise.
  2. Animals factor into most of E’s story ideas–animal stories are the most fascinating and meaningful to him at this stage of life. I’m excited for him that he’s so excited about them.
  3. Even if you’ve only been alive for 7 years and have spent the past 1.5 years largely at home in a pandemic, you have interesting stories. Everyone has interesting stories!
  4. There was one story on the list that I had never heard before: “kindergarten table.” When E was in kindergarten working on a math problem (“a problem that would be so easy now”), he got really frustrated with it, banged the table with his hand, and broke the table! Wow! The janitor had to be called! This news took almost two years to reach me. Interesting stories are happening to our children all the time and we don’t even hear about some of them. He told me he must have gotten busy and forgotten to tell me about that one.
  5. It took us less than 10 minutes to come up with 10 story ideas. I was surprised by how effortlessly the ideas popped into both of our heads. And now, when E has to write a story at school, he doesn’t have to waste time on wondering what to write about. Deciding what to write ahead of time is an awesome idea. (I usually don’t do this.)
  6. E has memories back to age 2. The sting ray story took place in San Francisco and we moved to Chicago when he was 2.5. (Then again, the story is about how the sting ray “attacked” him, so…)
  7. Sometimes it’s all in the title. You would read a story called, “That Time I Accidentally Broke my Aunt’s Nose at the Playground,” wouldn’t you?
  8. This exercise inspired me to write this post after a months-long hiatus. I also recently stumbled across this amazingly inspiring quote of Martha Graham (speaking to Agnes de Mille): “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Stop doubting yourself and write, self (I need to hear this as much as anyone). Or paint or dance or sing or teach or organize or whatever it is you’re called to do. Even if you’re only 7!
  9. I’ll do this brainstorm with C too, since I now realize she’s going to have an amazing list.
  10. I love lists.

See you soon, lovebugs xo