Barren Grounds, Surprises & Chivvy

in , by Stephanie, February 19, 2021

This week, my children are on school vacation, so our pace is a bit slower. Their mornings begin a bit later, which means more time before the sun comes up for me to read, write and learn (I’m such a morning person!). Add in some snow and ice to keep us inside and we’ve got the perfect conditions for reading, writing and movie-watching. 


What I’m Reading:


I have to admit: I didn’t expect to like this book. I read Barren Grounds by David Robertson as part of the Choice Literacy book club for February. I typically do not enjoy reading fantasy, so I was a bit hesitant as I turned those first pages. I didn’t want to like it…..but I did. In fact, I loved it. While there is certainly a fantasy element of the book, the characters were real. Morgan and Eli, Indigenous foster-siblings forced from their parents, stole my heart from the beginning with their real, raw emotions and need for connection. So, when the story started to move from realistic fiction to fantasy, I was all in. I learned right alongside Morgan and Eli about the power of connection and family bonds, biological or otherwise, appreciation for whatever is available to us and the beauty of the natural world. I never thought I’d learn lessons from fantastical animals that have such powerful human implications….but I did. And I’ll eagerly look forward to the next book in the Misewa Saga series: The Great Bear.

I finished a second book this week, too: Fly Away by Kristin Hannah. I was so enamored with the first book that I could not wait to continue the series and find out what happens next with the characters I had come so close to. While I usually sneak my reading in bright and early in the morning before my family wakes up, I put the dishes and laundry aside and spent some additional time in the late afternoon and evening hours indulging. It was totally worth it. And this time, not only did I become completely mesmerized with the characters again, I found myself noticing so much of Hannah’s writer’s craft. She artfully tells the story from the perspective of multiple characters, during multiple times and in multiple ways, alternating between the present, the past, the here-and-now, the great beyond and even the future. I tearfully turned the last page wishing there was more to read, but was completely satisfied with the full-circle nature of the book. 


What I’m Writing:


Like many of you, I have multiple journals, notebooks and folders. Everywhere. This week, I decided to get a bit more organized and dug out my beloved (aka old) Coach notebook cover to house my teaching notebook and course papers. As I opened the pockets to tuck in notebooks, sticky notes and pens, I found the most amazing surprises…..love notes from my children from almost TEN years ago when I last used the notebook cover. I remember tucking them away there so I’d find them later and they brought tears to my eyes. So this week, I wrote about that experience in my notebook and decided to pay it forward: I snuck a note or two (or three!) into unexpected places around the house for them to find, just so I might brighten their day they same way they brightened mine. 


What I’m Learning:


I learned a new word this week and unfortunately, this word seemed to suit me perfectly lately: chivvy. What does it mean? Chivvy means to ‘annoy with persistent petty attacks’. No, I’m not attacking anyone, but I do tend to nudge, prod and remind far more often than I likely need to. Knowing that there was a word for this unfortunate personality trait of mine made me realize just how much I do it….no wonder the kids tune me out when I hurry them to get ready and we still have plenty of time left! So my new goal? Not to chivvy.



What I’m Loving:

I have a hack for all my fellow I-leave-too-many-tabs-open-on-my-computer-and-I’m-ok-with-that people. This past Saturday, I facilitated a Create Your Own Coaching Sketchnote Book workshop and met Annemarie, an instant kindred spirit and lover of coffee, dark chocolate, notebooks….and open browser tabs. =) She shared this trick with me that HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. Here’s my before picture:



And here’s my after:



Isn’t it so pretty?! If you have to try this right now, too, then here’s an article showing you how to do just that. And if you want, reply to this email and let me know if you’d like a quick video tutorial. You’re welcome. =)

There you have it! I hope this inspires you to make space for more reading and writing in your own life. What are the highlights from your literate life this week? 


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