Thursday, March 4, 2021

SOL 4/31 & Spiritual Journey First Thursday & Poetry Friday: God's Handwriting

Combining my Slice of Life post with Spiritual Journey Thursday and Poetry Friday to share photos and thoughts from recent walks and a favorite quote.This is a three-for-the-price-of-one post!


in the middle of the weeds

and last year's leaves

Savor the promise of pink


by the school playground 

even though the street lights are on


exuberant evidence that

 children are back in school

 Kiss the day goodbye

Embrace the evening sky.

- Ramona Behnke

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful;
for beauty is God’s handwriting—a wayside sacrament.
Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower,
and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

SOL 3/31: My Slippery Slope

I wake at 5 am and congratulate myself. That's a decent time for waking up to write (until I remember that I didn't go to bed until after midnight). And this from a gal who's rarely awake until 11 pm. Whatever possessed me to stay up so late? I had worked most of the day on a project and stayed away from my computer. So, I picked up my computer to leave a few comments and was sucked into the vortex.

I know the post I'm planning to write and I make a promise to myself that I'll finish it by six. I have seven minutes left, so what the heck have I been doing? And why am I writing an entirely different post than the one I planned to write?

If you've known me on these pages for awhile, then you know that I love to meander and I'm easily distracted. When I settled myself in my favorite chair for writing, I remembered two friends' blogs that I needed to visit - Leigh Anne's and Margaret's. And when I read Leigh Ann's post, I knew that it belonged on my padlet of "Slices and Slicers I Love" (possible inspiration for future posts or prompts for our monthly family history writing group).

And then I remember that there are words I want to save from Fran's post. I was pretty sure it was in a link from her Always post. But I scan the post and can't find it. So I google the word abide on her blog and up it pops. I add her abide post to the padlet and stop to write down the words I love in my writing notebook. I have another padlet "Words that Delight" and think about copying and pasting it there. But instead, I decide to write it in my notebook and that's when I spy my own abcedarian (inspired by Fran again) that I've started with the words that pop into my head as possible future slices - awe, babies, cookies, dawn...

But I digress, while I was posting Fran's link to Slices and Slicers I Love, I remember why it's Slices and Slicers I Love. You see, there's a whole community of my slicing friends who leave comments, but when I click on their names, there's no link to their blogs. So I started putting them on the Slices I Love padlet so I can find them quickly. But I had totally forgotten  that (sometimes I wonder about my memory). So on Monday I started an excel sheet for the purpose of recording people's blogs that I can't find by clicking on their names (Leigh Ann, Margaret, Elizabeth, Joanne to name just a few). 

And I'm also including new slicers I encounter on this excel sheet. I see that they are quickly getting lost on the page, so I decide to highlight the links to their blogs in yellow. Which leads me to the plea that I pose every year to TWT: Please, please, pretty please provide participants with the names of bloggers and links to their blogs. (I'm sure it must be a privacy issue.)

And then I realize that I've violated my promise to post by 6, so I stop meandering, hit post, and promise to share the post I planned to write on another day. (I tend to write a "Come meander with me and see my distractable mind" post yearly so it's good to get it out the way early in March.)

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

SOL 2/31: Is playfulness in your March toolkit?

 It all started with an Instagram post from my favorite independent bookstore, Island Books. The idea was planted and before I knew it, I was creating chaos in my own home. I couldn't resist. I went from bookshelf to bookshelf looking for books with green spines for my own gathering of the green to salute March. 

When I was a young mother, we admonished our children with these words, "Don't play with your food." Today's young mothers know the importance of playing with food as an important step of sensory development. As I wandered from room to room and bookshelf to bookshelf pulling books, I gently reminded myself that playing with books, however fun at the time, would create a bit of work in the end. I ignored that voice on my shoulder and continued my playful exploration. Whether creating book spine poetry or stacks of books with green in the spine, I would eventually face the onerous task of returning books to multiple bookshelves. Even though I would never organize my books by color, it was fun for this post to pull books with green spines off the shelves.

On Monday I received permission for my play with these words from Terje's post: "An open and curious mind, playfulness and self-compassion will help me (us) through this month one slice at a time." Sunday afternoon, I looked at my two shelves of professional books (with a preponderance of green spines) and said," No, don't even go there." But on Tuesday morning, with Terje's encouragement, I marched to my shelves of professional books and and playfully created another stack of green for today's post.

Can you spot the "slice" I playfully added to my latest Words with Friends game? 
Thanks, Island Books, for the post that triggered my play, and thanks, Terje, for permission to keep playfulness in our March toolkits. I look forward to seeing your playful slices as we write together this month!

Monday, March 1, 2021

SOL 1/31: Celebrating My Tenth Year!

Returning for year ten of writing daily in March with my slice of life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

A ten year retrospective of March 1st posts:

In 2012, I post my first slice on Two Writing Teachers when my students encouraged me to go public with my writing for the month. (So it's okay if you didn't write in February to warm up for this month of writing.)

In 2013, I toast my students of 2011-12, my daughter, my fellow bloggers, and Stacey and Ruth! And then I invited my current students to write with this invite:

"Now listen my students and you shall hear
Of our month of slicing with nothing to fear.
You’ll find words are waiting for you to write,
When you stop to listen, your thoughts will ignite."
In 2014, I offer these words to those who wonder how on earth they will ever write a post every day of the month:
"So my answer to the query of how on earth will we find enough to write about every day is simple. Read some slices and give yourself time to meander.   Be sure to keep your writer's notebook beside you so you can jot down the paths that you'll journey as you read a few words. You'll be amazed at the words that will trigger memories and ideas as you allow yourself to meander through March!" 
In 2015, I conclude that my boxes of teaching stuff (I retired in 2014) have reached the end of the road when they land in our upstairs spare bedroom. Previous stops on the road included the garage and the guest bedroom.
In 2016, I glance back at five years of slicing with a poem and conclude with these words:
"I'm excited.  I'm scared.  I'm hopeful.  I'm here.
Let the slicing begin!"
In 2017, I break my own rule (no posting comments until I've written my post for the day) when I'm blindsided by a post from Chloe (Deb's dog), Why You Shouldn't Write in March. 
In 2018, I confess, "This is my seventh year to participate, and I've never had a single post written ahead of time." Then I encouraged my fellow pantsers  (last minute, write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants slicers) with an acostic "Room at the Table."
In 2019,  I share 8 things about me (for my 8th year of slicing).
In 2020, I explain how being cranky and leaving a session at my first ever RootsTech conference led to a pocket full of chocolates.
In 2021, I look back at my March 1st posts in celebration of a decade of participating in this month long writing challenge with Two Writing Teachers. March forward, slicer friends!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Overcoming Button Paralysis

Friday was turning out to be a frustrating day. 

First, my physical therapy appointment was changed. So I missed Taralyn's Watch Party for "Finding Your Cousins on IG" at RootsTech, the world's largest celebration of family.

I joined the Twitter Party late. And realized once again that Twitter is a medium that challenges me. 

I went to Desktop Diner, only to press the wrong button when I was switching rooms to exit the entire diner. I couldn't figure out how to get back in until all the breakout rooms were closed and there were just a few folks left in the main room. But, silver lining here, my conversation with Richard Bernard in the journal breakout room (chosen because I was looking for a taste of chocolate to start my menu) resulted in an email from him sharing two apps that he recommended. Thanks, Richard, for the prompt reply! 

And so you might understand that it was with a bit of trepidation that I decided to try another watch party. With so much to choose from, why did I keep trying these events? Because they bring a bit more connection to this virtual conference. I like knowing that I can interact with the presenter and other attendees in real time. And while I had no idea who Sarah Day was, I did "know" Camille Meacham from previous ConnectionsExperience events. 

Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the button for this session to find a very young Sarah Day enthusiastically encouraging us to "Press the Button! Nothing Terrible Will Happen"  It was a rapid-fire walk though FamilySearch and Ancestry with quick explorations of buttons. Here's the note I posted on our congregation's FB page:

"Do you have 'Press the button' fear? Sarah says, 'Do it anyway and make some awesome discoveries.' She walks us through the buttons on Family Search and Ancestry. I'm looking forward to trying out some new-to-me buttons."

And so before going to bed last night, I opened FamilySearch and pressed some new-to-me buttons. And here are my favorite discoveries:

  • You can follow people on FamilySearch! (I've been using Recents to find people again quickly.) Now I can just follow them.
  • Clicking on the Descendancy View lets you see more than just parents and grandparents. It's the best way to see how cousins, aunts, and uncles fit into your family tree. 
  • When you're in Timeline (one of my favorite tools), you can click on Map and then Show Route to see the movement of ancestors.

I still need to explore Ancestry. I'm not familiar with it, but I won't be afraid to press buttons when I visit. With a little help from Sarah, my frustrating Friday turned into fun Friday. Who knew someone so young could guide me from button paralysis to pressing buttons with glee? 

To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

SOL: Anticipating RootsTech Connect

 It's hard to believe that just one year ago I was preparing to attend my first RootsTech Connect conference. And today I'm gearing up to attend a virtual RootsTech conference. My interest in family history (and the fact that my son and his family had recently moved to Salt Lake City - so no hotel costs!) propelled me to attend last year's conference. Little did I know at the time, that this trip would be my last trip for more than a year.

One of the things I'll miss most about this year's conference will be the casual conversations that I engaged in with other attendees. I wrote about some of those encounters in this March Slice of Life, A Fortuitous Conversation. I won't miss the lines that snake down the hall for the restroom, the challenge of finding the right room in a huge convention center, or the long lines to purchase food. But the best part about a virtual conference is that I won't have to decide which session to attend when three sessions I want are offered at the same time! All sessions are available throughout the conference and will be rebroadcast and available on demand after the conference. 

Please consider this your personal invitation to participate in RootsTech 2021, February 25 - 27. For the first time ever, the world’s largest family celebration event will be entirely virtual and completely free. Don’t think of this as a genealogy conference because it is so much more than that. Get ready to celebrate and connect with family at this worldwide gathering. Here's the link so you can sign up now!

So why do I love this conference so much? I'm not an avid genealogist (yet), but I am interested in journals and stories and photos. And this conference has many sessions (from the more than 600 offered) to feed this personal interest. Here are a few from my "want to attend" list:

How to Do a Digital Journal


Write Away: Why Journaling Matters

Your Family History Starts Today – Journaling in the Digital Age


Heidi Swapp : Photos Are Doorways

Managing Scanned and Digital Photos

Restoring Your Family Photos



Ali Edwards: Value Your Story

Bradley Pierson: Family Stories

Brian Corrales: Honoring Ancestors through Memories

Capture Family Stories with Oral History

Celebrating Milestone Moments

Creative Storytelling Techniques Borrowed from Photography

Family Memories

Memories Connect Us

Preserve, Contribute, and Share Your Story

Save Your Precious Family Story

Sensitive Subjects: Writing About the Hard Stuff

Sharing Family Stories: A Powerful Way to Build Connections

Strengthening Families Through Generational Stories

The Basics of Telling Your Family Stories

The Healing Power of Storytelling – Even Difficult Stories

Writing Your Ancestor's Story

Why Family Historians Need to Tell Family Stories


21st Century Tools for Connecting with Family

5 Reasons Mobile Apps are Essential to your Family History Research

Discovering Distant Cousins Finding Your Cousins on IG

Fix photos and documents w/1-click and easy controls – 9 min. class

How to digitize home archives?

Laughter & Love: Using Virtual Reunions to Reconnect Your Family

Power of the Post: Making Connections through Social Media

Stories and Photos: FamilySearch Memories App

Using Cloud Photo Apps to Easily Organize Your Best Family Memories


I'm hoping that some of you will join me for this celebration of family, RootsTech Connect 2021, February 25-27. Go ahead and register because even if you can't attend this week, sessions will be available on demand after the conference.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sharing Our Stories & Poetry Friday: Writing Fast about An Abundance of Berries

"Just write. Fast." But what do I write about? Elsie mentioned that there might be a poem hiding in the pics I posted from a walk this week. And here's the fast version of that poem. Thanks, Ruth, for this invitation to write fast.

An Abundance of Berries

 Red berries call to me as I drive down the hill

and I know that I'll be back,

phone in hand to capture 

the berries strutting their stuff.

A careful trek up the hill reveals

tiny white flowers beside a remnant 

of weekend snow promising that spring is coming. 

Bountiful red berries sparkle against

waxy green leaves and patches of snow.

Velvety green ferns wave 

from drab tree trunks and a dreary winter landscape.

And blue sky peeks through cottony clouds

and the sun shines down upon us.

I take a deep breath and inhale gladness.

- Ramona Behnke 

I have debated over whether to include this paragraph of prose that I wrote before composing my poem. But in the interest of sharing my complete process, here it is:

On Tuesday, I noticed an abundance of red berries on a bush as I drove down the hill on an infrequent outing, this time to physical therapy.  I made note that I wanted to walk there and snap some pics of those berries. And so I did. Enough of the snow had melted that it was possible to walk mostly on wet pavement. I walked very carefully when I had to tread on snowy patches, no need to extend my current PT sessions! But when I got there, I was rewarded. And on the way up the hill, there were tiny white flowers blooming beside the snow and then the green ferns on the tree trunk, and blue sky peeking through the clouds and gladness for this world filled my heart.

To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

 for this week's roundup of poetic goodness.
Thanks, Ruth, for hosting this week.