The Write Timing

My voyage toward publication

A Few Minutes November 7, 2016

Filed under: Blogs,Dreams,Family,Goals,Life Lessons,Writing — michellephillips @ 6:20 am
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Well, it would appear that I am here once again, ready to apologize for my lack of consistency in blogging.  As always, life (with two small children!) has gotten in the way and I’ve taken an unplanned hiatus.  But this weekend, I attended a retreat where one of the presenters, the amazing and awe-inspiring Donna Johnson of Arbonne fame, encouraged us to wake up “just a little bit earlier” and spend some time on ourselves in the morning.

She gave us some suggestions of things to do in these extra minutes: read, pray, meditate, have gratitude.  She didn’t say write, but I’m pretty sure it was implied.  What she also didn’t say were things like, “clean up the kitchen” or “organize the cubbies.”  Though these are things that need to be done and I certainly debated doing this morning, I sat down instead to say a prayer and to write.  Even though I can hear my son starting to wake upstairs.  Even though the bathroom needs to be swept.  Even though I haven’t made a lunch for today.  These things will get done, and  so I’m going to take a few minutes.  Some time for me.  I even made a cup of tea.

I hope today that you can take some time for yourself to pause.  Reflect.  Read.  Write.  Pray.  Be grateful.  And then do it again tomorrow.

 

Journey to Joy – Part 2 July 31, 2015

It had been two years.  We had tried all of the things we could – from ovulation predictors to testing and medicine.  And let

me tell you – it was stressful.  The process of “trying” becomes less and less exciting the longer you are at it.  It goes from being a fun adventure (Maybe this will be the month we get pregnant!) to a job (Looks like I’m ovulating…I’ll meet you in the bedroom.).  It became a chore: the endless counting of days, the feeling that if I was ovulating we were “on duty,” and the monthly disappointment when I got my period and we knew we had failed again.

So we stopped.  We stopped actively “trying” to conceive.  We stopped counting, I stopped peeing on ovulation predictors, and we stopped going to see the fertility specialists.  I had heard countless stories from people about how once they stopped thinking about it and relaxed, they got pregnant!  So instead of focusing on making a baby, we took trips, we made home improvements, and I started taking more graduate classes.  And it was great!  It felt so nice to take a break, but that hope was always there.  The break, the relaxation that worked for so many couples?  It didn’t work for us.

We were now almost six years into our marriage; three and a half years into unsuccessfully becoming parents.  We were ready to take a big step since the break wasn’t doing the trick.

We started the adoption process.

A colleague and close friend of mine and his wife had adopted their daughter through the Nebraska Children’s Home Society.  He had nothing but the highest praise for them.  After a great deal of conversation and prayer about it, Dave and I decided to begin the adoption process.

I have nothing but the most wonderful things to say about our experience with the Children’s Home.  We started by attending an informational meeting in Lincoln about what we could expect should we decide adoption was the right route for us.  The next step was an initial interview with a case worker.  We went to two days of training where we learned about the blessings and the challenges of adoption.  Our families were invited to attend a session about how to support couples who are pursuing adoption.  We filled out our extensive questionnaire and made decisions we never thought we would have to make (Will you accept a child of a different race?  Will you accept a child who was exposed to drugs or alcohol?  Will you accept a child with a disability?).  We went through a series of interview and a home visit.  We wrote our profile letter (the most difficult letter I’ve ever had to write) that a potential birth mother would read to help her decide if we were the right parents for her child.  Finally, in April of 2013, we entered the adoption pool.  Now, it would be a waiting game.  Which mother (if any) would select us?

Throughout this entire journey, we prayed for a child.  We continued to help our friends and family welcome their own children into their families.  We watched as Facebook friend after Facebook friend announced their pregnancies (and second pregnancies!  Third!)  I attended countless baby showers, every time experiencing such a mix of emotions – the tremendous joy of seeing my friend pregnant and glowing, ready to welcome a new baby, and the absolute sorrow that I was not able to experience it for myself.

During one particular baby shower for a friend from high school, the mom-to-be received a framed print of a beautiful quote, “This is the child we have prayed for.”  When she opened it, I could feel tears stinging the back of my eyes.  We had been praying too.  For so long.  And as we jumped into the adoption pool, my daily prayer for a child changed.

“Dear Lord, please let whatever child we are supposed to parent find us however they are meant to find us.  Amen.”

Because the fact of the matter is, while I may have given up hope of ever conceiving a child, I never gave up hope of becoming a parent.  I knew that I was meant to be a mother, and I was ready to welcome a child however that child arrived.

 

Journey to Joy – Part 1 July 16, 2015

Filed under: Dreams,Family,Goals,Starting Our Family — michellephillips @ 8:04 am
Tags: , , , ,

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to sit down and write about something incredibly personal and close to my heart.  What’s held me back is not being sure my words can capture these experiences.  In fact, I’m certain I can’t capture them as fully as I’d like.  However, what I know for sure is that they have to be shared.  Our journey may encourage others and give them a gift I’m sure many have left behind: hope.

My husband Dave and I met in 2003 in the most romantic of locations: the juvenile justice unit of a group home for boys age 12-18.  I know – how could we not have fallen in love against such a backdrop?  We dated for two years before getting engaged and then married in August of 2006.  We were young: 24 and 25.  We had so many goals and dreams: buying a house, traveling, finishing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and eventually – having children.

As newlyweds, we decided we would wait two years before starting our family.  Two years seemed like a decent amount of time to accomplish some of our goals and settle into married life before bringing a little one on board.  We moved into our house.  We visited Jamaica, Washington, D.C., and Italy.  Dave finished his degree and I continued taking classes toward my Master’s.

The summer of 2008 arrived – two years had passed! – and we decided we were ready to start trying.  Each month, we waited; we hoped.  Each month, we were disappointed.  The first few months weren’t bad.  We knew it often took a few months for conception to occur once couples started trying.  But as summer turned into fall and then winter, we started to get a bit discouraged.  Every month, I’d fool myself into thinking I was pregnant.  Oh – I think my sense of smell is heightened – I must be pregnant.  I’m tired today – maybe I’m pregnant!

Many of our friends were announcing their pregnancies.  We waited for the day we would announce ours.  But as the calendar turned to 2009 and then 2010, our discouraged feeling turned into concern.  Why wasn’t this working?  We thought we would have a baby in our arms by now.  Heck – we thought we’d have a toddler!  What was going on?  Something had to be wrong.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

I talked to my doctor.  She ran some blood work and didn’t find anything amiss.  She recommended going to see a specialist who could complete additional testing.  So we made an appointment at a local reproductive center ($$$).  We got tested.  The results: We can’t find anything wrong.  But we can try a hysterosalpingogram.  (For those who don’t know, a hysterosalpingogram is a procedure where dye is injected into the uterus and fallopian tubes to see if the tubes are open or blocked.  For those who do know about it, I’m sorry.  It probably means you’ve had one and they are hella painful.)  The results:  You have a beautiful uterus.  Okaaaaay, that’s nice to hear?  Weird, but nice.  And now, dear doctor, tell me why I haven’t been able to conceive a child in my beautiful uterus.

The doctors could not find anything wrong with my husband or me.  But they decided to treat me anyway.  Six years later, I still have a problem with that.  How can you treat symptoms without knowing the cause?  Because the fact of the matter of this: infertility is not a diagnosis.  It is a symptom.  It is a symptom that SOMETHING ELSE IS GOING ON.  But, this doctor was not of that same opinion.  So he decided I should go on Clomid.

Here’s the thing – you cant just “go on Clomid.”  Oh no.  You have to come into the office for an initial ultrasound ($$$).  Then you take your Clomid like a good girl and deal with the wonderful side effects of nausea, weight gain, etc.  Then your husband has to give you a shot to make you ovulate at the appropriate time ($$$).  Then you have to come back in for another ultrasound to see how many follicles have developed ($$$).  And it goes on and on – every time you arrive at the office, you take out your checkbook – and you are totally willing to hand over the cash if it means you’ll end up a parent.  Every time you hope and pray it’s going to work.  Something that they’re doing, something they’re trying is going to work.

But it doesn’t.

The testing, the procedures, the medication – none of it works.  There is no resolution.

There is only heartache and arms that remain empty.

Attribution at bottom of post.

Image attribution at bottom of post.

Teddy bear photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/61629383@N08/16133347587″>Flash of the Blade</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

Leap July 6, 2015

At the beginning of every summer, I set goals: how many books I’m going to read, healthy recipes I’m going to try, and opportunities I’m going to have to get together with friends.  And at the beginning of every summer, I decide that THIS will be the summer I really focus on my writing.

And, truthfully, I have.  For the past handful of years, I dove into my writing.  I submitted query letters, entered writing contests, and attended workshops.  I blogged, edited, and tweeted.  But this summer, I’ve taken a leap and added something else to the mix.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's campus always inspires the writer in me.

This Claes Oldenburg sculpture on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus always inspires the writer in me.

A writing community.

Last week, I joined an online writing community called Becoming Writer through The Write Practice.  I didn’t know much about it, but decided that if I want my writing to actually take me places in the future, I’m going to have to be more active about it.  I need to take myself seriously as a writer – think about my writing as a profession and not a hobby.  So I took the leap and joined.  Last week, I submitted my first piece to the forum, something I will do every week for the next year.  I will admit, I was nervous.  Posting my work for other writers to see was frightening – what if they don’t like my tone?  Voice?  What if they don’t think I’m a good writer?

Five days and four feedbacks (is that a word?) later, I’m already grateful I took this leap.

My fellow writers gave me suggestions on ways to make my first paragraph stronger and flow more smoothly.  They pointed out typos (two of them) that I could easily remedy.  But more importantly, their feedback gave me something I have not felt in a while: affirmation of myself as a writer.

So today, while my mom watched my daughter, Writer Michelle stole some time to work on query letters.  And I set another goal – this time, I am posting it here so you can all hold me accountable (gulp).  I’ve been pining away for a Macbook of my very own.  I miss the Mac I had in my former school tremendously, but haven’t felt like I should spend the considerable amount of money it costs to buy one.  But here is my goal:

Image courtesy of Pexels.

Image courtesy of Pexels.

When I get published – when one of my query letters results in my first freelance writing gig – I get to buy myself a Macbook.

Until then, I will continue writing.  I will continue querying.  And I will continue dreaming in apples.

 

The Write Timing Indeed July 22, 2014

Filed under: Blogs,Classroom,Dreams,Family — michellephillips @ 6:50 am

Hello there, blog followers!  Are there any of you still out there?  I’m sure you’ve been wondering where I’ve been.  And instead of listing my numerous excuses, I’ll just summarize it with a mini timeline of exactly why I’ve been absent from my blog for oh-so long.

love

Photo by Julian Adair

August-September 2013

Sold our house, moved in with my parents while looking for new house, had abdominal surgery

October 2013

Recovered from surgery, continued looking for new houses, made offers on two

November 2013

Found new house and offer accepted

December 2013

Closed on new house (that needed – and still needs – LOTS of TLC), and most importantly…found out we were expecting!!!!

January 2014

Moved into said house, began the long series of improvements that needed to be made, had first ultrasound, marveled that we were finally having the opportunity to do so

February 2014

Announced pregnancy to my students on Valentine’s Day (with pink and blue iced Krispy Kreme) and to the world via social media

March 2014

Enjoyed the end of my first trimester and the return of my former energy level

April-May 2014

Interviewed for and accepted new position for the fall  in a new district, school, and grade level (Ah! Am I crazy?!)

June 2014

Taught Children’s Literature at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, taught at Fine Lines Writing Camp, had first baby shower

July 2014

Had second baby shower (the clothes are so cute – and tiny!), began getting new classroom ready, tried to wrap my brain around the fact I will be a mom in one month

(Coming soon…) August 2014

We will be joined by our new son or daughter in mid-August!!!  Wish us luck!

Whew!  Busy year.  Thank you for continuing to read my blog.  I would promise to write more, but we will see what Baby Phillips has to say about that whole idea…

 

 

 

International Literacy Day September 9, 2013

Today will quite possibly rank as one of the best in my teaching career.  A few weeks ago, I opened an email from one of my favorite professional organizations, the International Reading Association.  It heralded the upcoming International Literacy Day, a day to celebrate the gift of literacy and promote literacy throughout the world.  I knew immediately that I wanted my class to celebrate it, but the question was – how?

As I pondered and brainstormed, our celebration day grew from a single guest reader to a day completely filled with literacy activities!  Here’s how our day looked in Room 311:

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9:05 am – Students tumbled into the room, lugging pillows, stuffed animals, and bags full of books for our afternoon “Read In.”  One student brought me a wonderful sign to post in the room – Hooray for Literacy Day!

9:15 am – Dancing Classrooms and Music Class – Our physical activity and musical experience for the day!

11:00 am – Special guest reader, assistant principal, Mrs. Simmons came in and read The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.  We talked as a class about literacy and how it relates to math.  The students came up with all kinds of ways we use mathematical literacy (in algebra, reading and writing story problems, interpreting graphs, etc.).

11:30 am – We discussed literacy facts and figures from around the world.  My students learned that 115 million children around the world cannot read and write.  My students wrote the figures in standard, expanded, and word forms.  We tried to imagine how many people that would be and discussed what those children would be doing instead of going to school.  We all agreed that receiving an education is a tremendous gift.

12:20 – Recess and Lunch (Literacy loves sustenance.)

1:00 – Reading class!!!
Read In – Students camped out around the classroom with pillows, blankets, and books galore!  They munched on read-and-feed snacks, played literary element charades, and read some more!

Passing It On – Students were paired and went into a primary classroom (K-3) to talk about literacy and then read a picture book aloud.  The students were SO excited to share what they knew about literacy with the youngest students in our school.  They came back to the classroom chattering with stories to tell and grins from ear to ear.

Writing Prompt – Students responded to one or both of the following prompts: Because I am literate, I can… AND Literacy allows me to invent my future by…

3:00 – Science Literacy and Experiments

Throughout the day and evening, I was able to tweet from my classroom account all of the wonderful activities we were doing to promote literacy throughout our building and our community.  The cherry on top was a retweet this evening by the International Reading Foundation.  It was a quote from a student who is not my most confident reader, but who fully embraced World Literacy Day.  I can hardly WAIT to tell him about it tomorrow!

“Because I am literate, I can be the smartest me I can be.”

 

If Disney Ran the World… July 23, 2013

Last week, my family and I were in beautiful Central California.  We started our trip in Santa Barbara, then traveled up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Luis Obispo (where my Grandma and Grandpa Mimick were married at the Mission in the 40s!), Monterey, Napa Valley, and ended in San Francisco.

The weather was beautiful; we traded in the heat and humidity of Omaha for the crisp high 60s to mid 70s of coastal California.  We had a marvelous time sipping wine, catching up with California friends and family, getting to know my sister’s fiancé (and his chocolate addiction) even better, and gazing out into the Pacific.

However.

As often happens when you’re in a new place (or at least when I am), there are a few things that make you stop and think.  Why, oh why, do they do that?  What would possess someone to organize something like this?  And, being the avid (AKA obsessive) Disney World fan that I am, while waiting in line for a public restroom that had 6 stalls for a very large portion of Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran, I started thinking: What if Disney ran the world?

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(Cue foggy edges…)

1.) The world would be clean.  Even the restrooms.  Especially the restrooms.  Not a dirty napkin, discarded Starbucks cup, or empty pop can would be seen.  When a pizza crust or scrap of paper fell to the ground, a festively dressed man or woman would swoop in to whisk it out of the way.

2.) The world would be organized.  You would be able to grab a colorful map that could not only direct you how to get from place to place, but a times guide that would tell you when events were happening that couldn’t be missed.  When the need arose to wait in line for something, you would have fun activities to complete while you waited and themed decorations to keep you busy.

3.) The world would be colorful.  Decorated with poinsettias around Christmas, hoards of blooming colors in the spring, bright pinks and yellows in the summer, and deep reds and oranges in the fall.  And it wouldn’t only be decorated with flowers, but with buildings, street signs, and benches that are vivid.  Not a flake of paint or faded hue would exist.

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4.) The world would be welcoming.  Every face you’d see would be smiling, every attitude positive.  Hands would always wave in welcome and the childlike grins present on each face would be contagious.  Every person would belong and you would be able to sense that feeling of belonging all around you.

5.) The world would remember the importance of family.  Disney World is all about family togetherness.  A world run by Disney would see families having meals together, playing games, talking to one another, and planning what they would do next as a family.

6.) The world would be respectful.  Everyone would be treated like a prince or princess.  Each person, especially children, would know he or she is a one-of-a-kind, very important person.

7.) The world would be responsible.  And full of cast members.  We would not be only considered citizens, we would be active participants in the world!  We would be the ones responsible for keeping our world running in a Disney-esque fashion.  All of us would work together to make our world the place it should be.  No one would sit and expect to be catered to and wait on by the cast members; everyone would have a role to play and be a cast member themselves.

8.) The world would be magical.  With fireworks every night for good measure.

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