Story Challenge Day 29: Requiem

Well, it finally happened.

After six years of wearing my absolute favorite shirt on the planet, I put it on for an afternoon workout, only to discover a giant hole right under the arm.

I don’t even know how it happened. I wore it last week. Was that hole there last week? I mean, I would have put it on groggy and in the dark at 5 am, but I think I would have noticed, or at least felt a breeze.

This shirt was there for me in my first fitness competition.

Overhead squat: my favorite! Note: no one, except for the camera apparently, was watching me lift. Just fine with ME.

This shirt was there for me when I was learning how to do pull-ups.

This shirt is good for at least three extra reps, right?

This shirt came along strong for the Women’s March in Chicago.

Here and ready to do stuff in – and for! – the world.

I hung out with great people in this shirt.

Look at us. Aren’t we adorable? This was one of my last times out in the world before COVID.

This shirt helped me pay tribute to my dear departed niece.

Sometimes it’s helpful to sweat in someone’s memory…

The one bright spot in all of this is that the store I bought my t-shirt from still sells them, and I have already ordered a new one to replace it. Yes, my floor has dog hair dust bunnies on it. Yes, I’m overdue for a dental cleaning. Yes, it has been a horrifically long time since my last haircut. But this t-shirt is on its way.

Priorities, people.

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 28: House Poem

NOTE TO SELF: Lainie, when you come across someone’s post that you want to try out, remember to note whose blog you found it on so that you can easily give them credit and you don’t spend a random half hour looking for a link.

All right, friends. Ideally, I’d link you up with my inspiring author -here,- but seeing as I must have been too preoccupied at the time, I’m unable. Just know, whoever you are, that you challenged me and made me smile.

My post for today comes from a poetry prompt from none other than Naomi Shihab Nye. The original poster looked at them and wrote a poem in 5 minutes. I’ll attempt to do the same, and you’re invited to do so, as well!

1. What do you do first when you get home
2. How have you used your home differently (Covid years)
3. What would you ask your house?
4. What would you tell your house?
5. Look out a window from your home and write 5 things you see.
6. Make a comparison (any comparison)

Here I go…

I’m home! I’m home! I’m home!
I shout,
Shoes off, backpack to the side,
Arms full of dog ears
And butts
And tails
As they get their sniffs
And wags

Home now
Hasn’t much changed, it is
Refuge, shelter,
The place I am
Most comfortable,

House, what do you need?
What parts do you wish I’d
Spend more time on,
Spend more time in
Love on
Just a little more?

I can feel my way around you
By heart
There’s so much I know of you
By heart

Just look out your window
Can you see it?
The black walnut tree,
The stacked firewood,
The aging deck,
The old watering can,
The herb garden, brown.
Maybe…maybe you need more love.

Maybe you’re just like
Those dogs,
Wanting, needing
Requiring, demanding
Attention as
Needed and necessary,
Asking me to take care of you,
So you can take care of me.

Well. There it is. I have a feeling I’m going to come back and work craft on this one, but the rules did say five minutes. So, I’ll go by that old chestnut: “Bless and release.”

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 27: Another Little Word

My One Little Word for this year was hard to come by. I went through a lot of thinking before I settled in on space: space to just be, space to figure out what exactly I wanted or needed for myself.


I’ve been taking space. I’ve had time on my couch with some flair pens and ideas batting back and forth.

If you can follow my thought pattern, more power to ya!

I’ve taken space on long walks in pretty spaces.

And with a companion like this, it’s quite lovely.

I’ve taken space while I move big things.

Been pushing this bad boy down and back once a week ’til I get better, stronger, faster.

I’ve taken space with people who ground me.

Dinner with a friend. In an actual PLACE. I almost forgot how wonderful that is.

And all of that time, all of that space, has allowed me to discover my next One Little Word. I hoped it would be a revelation, that this One Little Word would point the way to what I need, what I want, where I’m supposed to be going in this life.

Yeah, no such luck.

Still, my new One Little Word fills me with the hope that yes, I just might be inching closer to figuring a few things out here and there. Because I’ve felt a shift within myself.


That feeling when I’ve done the work, done the thinking, and while there hasn’t really been much change to me on the outside, I can feel that things are somehow different on the inside.

Could it be that I’m staring eye-to-eye at midlife, getting antsy? Maybe.
Is it possible I’m on the edge of something big and important? Yep.
Might I still have a whole long way to go? Ab. So. Lute. Ly.

For now, though, I’m going to feel and explore this shift. That is, ’til the next One Little Word comes around to tap me on the shoulder.

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 26: Happy Accident?

It all started at 5:45 am, when my Fitbit buzzed me awake. It was the first of two alarms I set so I’d be sure to get up to bring my mom to the airport. For the record, I’m not a person who snoozes alarms, but I am a person who gets anxious about things like making flights on time. So two alarms it was.

But I digress.

I fumbled for my phone as I woke up. I pressed it awake along with me, but something happened. I’m not sure how I put my phone in the “app editing mode.” I’m doubly not sure how I completely eliminated the first full page of apps – all the folders, all of the icons…GONE.

I stared at the empty home screen and panicked. What if I had just deleted all of those apps off of my phone? A wave of panic rolled through the lower portion of my belly and up through my throat.

Thankfully, everything was still on my phone, just…invisible. Then, I discovered how I could drag apps back onto my home screen one at a time.

Friends, I took that as a sign from the universe. It’s possible, quite possible, that I need to spend less time interacting with that shiny object.

So I pared down my home screen to only include the most essential things I use. Anything else I want, I’ll have to search for.

My new, spartan home screen…and, if you’re wondering, YES. I did arrange these for some semblance of color coordination.

Am I on to something?
Will this strategy break the tethers that bind me to my phone?
Am I fooling myself?
Will I say “phooey!” and put everything back on?

THAT remains to be seen…

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 25: Still Beaming

across the
miles gathered,
a group of writers –
we found one another
I finally came to see
voices behind the author’s voice
the people who make words that make me
remember how good it is to connect

What fun I had yesterday at the Slicer Meet-Up! I had a great time chatting with some amazing fellow writers. Go swing by and visit Alice, Celia, Elisa, Melanie, Ona, Raivenne, and Vivian

Story Challenge: Yes or No

Yes, yes, yes, yes, no, NO!, yes, yes, YES, yes, no

Yes, I stayed in my pajamas for most of today.

Yes, I changed out of said pajamas to walk the dog and back in again.

Yes, I baked hamantaschen with the rest of the filling I had in the fridge.

Yes, they were absolutely delicious.

No, I haven’t eaten any vegetables yet today.

No!, I don’t feel a single pang of guilt.

Yes, I’m beyond grateful for the privilege of doing nothing.

Yes, I’ll be ready to get moving again by the time school starts next week.

YES, I’m excited for the slicer meet-up tonight!

Yes, I’m having fun with this Slice structure.

No, I have nothing else in my brain to write. =))

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 23: Midnight Lyrics

Last night I woke up and song lyrics came into my mind:

I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm, continuing,
Tapping on my roof and walls

“Kathy’s Song.” Simon and Garfunkel. It was, for a time, my very favorite song. I taught myself to play it on guitar.

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies.

Question is, why? I mean, it was raining when I woke up last night. And rain, I see, can get that song going in my head. But it took over my sleep. I spent the rest of the night in and out of dreams, drafting a blog post around those words. The rest of the night (and much of my day today) was centered around those lines. I had no idea what I was going to write today, only that I was compelled to shape it around a song I loved and left behind.

My mind’s distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you’re asleep
And kiss you when you start your day.

So today, I knew that the only thing I’d be able to do was to set Simon’s words to the screen and see what would happen. I didn’t have any other choice. It’s almost as though the muse I had called for decided she was going to show up, unannounced, for her first day at work, regardless of whether or not I hired her. (She may or may not have also missed the memo about not waking me up.)

And the song that I was writing is left undone
I don’t know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can’t believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme.

Oh. So.

Now I see it.

There’s a certain amount of heart that goes into writing, a measurable chunk of myself that deserves to be placed into all I do. If not, it’s probably not worth the effort. I’m also going to go out on a limb and guess the same holds true for everything I do.


And so, you see, I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you.

Muse, 1. Lainie, 0.

Story Challenge Day 22: Ray of Sunshine

Technically, spring has started.

Technically, it’s spring break.

And with the rain falling outside, and me not going anywhere today except for a Zoom meeting and an appointment to replace my son’s driver’s license, you could say I’m expecting today to be kind of like the weather: meh.

Still, there is something that’s bringing me joy today, and that’s the prospect of Thursday night. Thursday night at 7 pm my time, I’ll be logging on to Zoom for a virtual meet-up of folks from the Slice of Life community.

For the last three years, I’ve read people’s work and gotten to know them via their words. So many of you have become what I consider to be my Trusted Reader Circle. How much would I give to sit down with you for a cup of tea, a few moments on the porch watching the world go by, some parallel play at a coffee shop while we absorb the activity around us? It would be AMAZING.

I’ll settle for the next best thing: some time to connect virtually with humans I’ve grown to respect and admire. Who else is going? Leave a comment if you are! And…if there’s space, you can still sign up at the link that was emailed last week.

Hope to see some of you there!

Story Challenge Day 21: You Asked For It…

…you got it!

I had some folks mention yesterday that boy, it might be cool to see a story I’ve told.

Well…after digging around, I found a video of one! There are others I’m trying to dig up (especially The Great Banana Fight of 1978), but this one below is a favorite.

I made this recording when I was working with a group of kids, teaching them how to be storytellers. Some of you with eagle eyes might also catch the “story triangle” of teller-story-listener on the board behind me. Hey…if an idea works, roll with it.

The story itself is about 4 minutes, if you’re up for a listen. Enjoy!

Truth Comes to Town

Story Challenge Day 20: World Storytelling Day

Yes! Yes! You read that right! Today is World Storytelling Day. Some of you folks from online know me as a writer. The folks who know me in real life know me as a storyteller.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since I was three, putting on puppet shows for myself with my gloves.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since fifth grade, when Mr. Stifel came and told my class the epic tale of Beowulf.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since my class went to the St. Louis Storytelling festival down at the Gateway Arch and I looked at the people performing and decided I wanted to do THAT.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since high school, when I competed in the Missouri State speech tournament.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since college, when I’d share stories as a student teacher.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since it got me my first teaching job. I completed my interview with the principal and assistant principal, and I happened to mention that I did storytelling. A moment after the interview, they stepped back in the room and said, “You said you told stories. Can you tell us one?” So I did.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since a the mom of one of my students, who happened to be a professional storyteller herself, encouraged me to do my first professional gig, and I couldn’t believe someone would actually pay me for it. But they did.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since I could drag my children to my storytelling performances, only to have them heckle me beyond recognition in the process.

I’ve been a storyteller ever since I’ve encouraged countless kids (and hopefully teachers!) to put the book or the paper or the cards to the side, take a deep breath, and speak from the heart.

And I’ll do it as long as I can.

Photo from a gig, kid in tow

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!