Tag Archives: Bookish Resolutions Challenge

September 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

September has been a better month for me. It’s not been so tumultuous, and I am enjoying the peace I am experiencing. I know though that I have several important decisions to make, but in the meantime, I am going to savour the peace.

Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

“The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books” by James Cross Giblin

Though the latest reprint of this book is 2005, I was using it in a course as recently as 2017. I only skimmed it back then, but took the plunge this month to read it as a book study. Read more about it on my Mount TBR 2021 post.

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Read more about this book below.

Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“Escape to Reality” by Mark Cullen with Ben Cullen

You may have seen him on TV or heard him on the radio, but have you read any of Canada’s most famous and loved horticultural expert’s books? In this collection of short essays, Cullen (with the occasional piping in of his son) writes about everything from the value of a gardener’s work to how to think like a plant.

Consider this:

“Experience tells us, according to <Peter> Ladner, that local food reduces our dependency on oil. A Canadian study on ‘food miles’ estimated that sourcing fifty-eight food items locally or regionally rather than globally could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about fifty thousand tonnes annually. That is the equivalent of removing almost seventeen thousand vehicles from the road.”

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read in my life! My book club partner and I took our time over it, savouring it over several weeks. 

There are just too many fantastic learnings to mention here, so I will leave you with this video about “the honourable harvest”.

Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

None

Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

I haven’t been writing every day.

Read related literature to my writing.

Not done.

Analyze two creative nonfiction essays per month. These are the two that I analyzed:

“Why I resigned from my tenured position teaching climate science in college” by Heather Short

Why I like this:

-it’s a timely piece, and it mentions several things I have been thinking about lately

-it’s an expert’s point of view

-it’s a mixture of facts and opinion

Favourite quote:

‘Teaching this to an 18 year old is like telling them that they have cancer, then ushering them out the door, saying “sorry, good luck with that.”’

“On Sept. 30, I hope people will do more than just take the day off” by Andrea Johns

Why I like this:

-it’s written from the perspective of a Mohawk woman

-it’s another timely piece, written as a reflection on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

-it offers solutions

Favourite quotes:

“It’s great to, again, have a holiday that recognizes the legacy of the residential school system. But there’s a lot of things that are tied to the residential school system: socio-economic issues and missing and murdered Indigenous women and land and economic inequalities.”

and

“I hope that people won’t just take the day off, like they would treat it like any other holiday, going to your cottage on potentially unceded Indigenous territories or spending the time not engaging with … the history of residential schools.”

Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

“Woodland Dreams” by Karen Jameson; illustrated by Marc Boutavant

What I like about this book:

-every creature gets a unique, descriptive name: Big Paws, Velvet Nose

-repetition: every refrain starts with “Come Home…”

-sparse and poetic text is a delight on the tongue

-unique rhymes, e.g., schemer/dreamer

“Butterflies are Pretty Gross” by Rosemary Mosco; illustrated by Jacob Souva

-breaks the fourth wall

-very humorous (I’ll never think of breakfast in the same way)

-plenty of tongue pleasing alliteration (deliciously disgusting, pretty peculiar)

-fascinating facts presented in an interesting way, e.g. read about the sneaky Alcon Blue caterpillar

Special shoutout about the “little senses” series, written for those who are very sensitive, e.g., those on the autism spectrum. I read “It Was Supposed to Be Sunny” by Samantha Cotterhill. A girl adapts to not having her birthday party work out exactly as she wants to with the gentle help of her mother.

Submit one story to a contest per season.

I placed eighth in the first round of the latest NYC Midnight contest, which gives me 8 points. Yay! I submitted my second story. This time I got mystery, which I have never written before, but it was fun writing outside of my comfort zone.

Attend one writing webinar per month. (flexible)

Suzanne Simard on her book “Finding the Mother Tree”. (Guelph Arboretum)

Work on one lesson of a writing course per month. (flexible)

Not done

Attend a writing group session per week. (flexible)

I did this.

Blog at least twice a month.

Not done

Weekly treasure:

One of my local blue jays

Challenges:

HaikuforTwo:

I wrote three.

100 day challenge:

Read two chapters of a book a day. 

I didn’t do this, but I intend to get back to it, as there are two library books I wish to complete.

How was your month?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

June 2021 Bookish Resolutions

It’s hard to believe it’s July already.

June was a tough month for me. I’ve always felt that I’ve been operating in life with a smudged map, but this month I’ve felt like my map has completely blown away. So I’m trying to embrace a sit spot for a little bit of a think instead of rushing off on my next adventure. This is particularly challenging for impatient me.

When one of my critique partners sent me this blog post about goal setting, one particular line stood out to me: “Goals are amazing but unless our goals map to growth, we’re simply writing a to-do list.” Yes, that’s definitely what I feel like. I am checking off my to do list instead of growing, so I decided that I am going to revise my bookish resolutions to reflect growth.

That’s why this month’s blog post will contain not only my goals from June but also new goals.

Old goal: Read 24 books this year for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I’m certainly failing this challenge. None read this month.

New goal : I’m still going to pursue this challenge. At the end of the year, I may simply need to cull some of the books that I had hoped to read.

Old goal: Read 12 nature related books this year to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I could put “the river” by Helen Humphreys in either this category or the next. Whichever one, I love this book! 

Humphreys writes about a small part of the Napanee River where she has a waterside property. She writes about its history, what she has found there, the animals and plants there.

I do disagree with Humphreys’ belief that the river is indifferent to her despite her love for it. I believe if you love nature, it will love you back, just maybe not in a “human” way.

So many things to ponder, but I’ll leave you with a couple: 

“The British naturalist and writer Roger Deakin once said that watching a river is the same as watching a fire in the hearth. Both are moving and alive, and the feeling from watching both them is a similar one.”

and

“The river has pushed its banks many times. Does it have memory of this, or a reach beyond itself that it can feel, that it remembers? What does it feel its true size is? Does the river have a kind of consciousness?”

New goal: I’m still going to pursue this challenge.

Old goal: Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

“Bluets” by Maggie Nelson

I listened to this book in audio form, because that was the only way I could without buying it. I’ve never taken to audiobooks, and I still don’t appreciate them, despite the fact that one of my primary modes of learning is auditory. Perhaps I miss the tactile sensation of turning pages. Also, I don’t know how people can multitask when they are listening to an audiobook. If I do this then I am constantly stopping and rewinding, because I have missed something. Finally, I love to write down quotes of my favourite parts, and this is hard to do when you are listening to something.

Well anyway, I love the book. There are 240 prose poems all related to the colour blue. Apparently half of westerners’ favourite colour is blue, and that includes me, so I enjoyed all the snippets of blue information—such as learning about the “blue” people (Tuareg), and that indigo blue was originally the “devil’s dye” until it was made holy, and that the colour of the universe was accidentally declared as turquoise—interspersed with philosophy and poetry.

You can read more about it in this article:

New goal: I will continue with this goal.

Old goal: Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

My summer writing challenge, as set by my daughter, is to write a novel, but I confess we have slacked off lately. I need more motivation to do this.

New goal: Continue with this goal, but find a way to actually do this. Ideas?

Added goal: Read related literature. I need to figure out an actual number.

Old goal: Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

Favourites:

“Collectively Speaking” by Chelsey Clammer

So much to love in this essay, especially the term “a resilience of women”

One of my favourite quotes:

“As an editor, I hold people’s stories. As a trauma survivor, I help those stories find their voices. Because it’s the experiences I’ve had that guide me in encouraging other survivors to find a voice. It’s the editor in me that helps to shape that story into something tangible—something we can see. Read. I give feedback about specifics. The mechanics. But as a female trauma survivor, I hold. Help. It might look like I’m by myself, but I’m never alone. I’m holding people’s stories. Guiding, even, the therapeutic activity of crafting a voice for your experience. I’ve read about so much trauma—have seen the ways so many people have survived to tell the story of those who haven’t.”

“The Glass Sliver” by Robyn Fisher

I can totally relate to her experience.

Favourite quote:

“Sometimes, this whole caregiving thing does seem like a wilderness experience. I mean, you got your sandwich, your canteen, your first aid kit. You even got your map and compass. But you’ve never been on this trail before, it’s all new to you. And last night’s storm washed part of it away, so the map does not resemble the path anymore. You’re bushwhacking now, hoping you’re not too far off the trail, and the way will show itself soon.”

“Le Pen de Amazon” by Helen K. Hedrick

Hedrick writes an essay using a choice of words from the book she is reading. I love this idea!

“The Birds: June is for Juncos” by Leanne Ogasawara

“Until the pandemic, I had always considered myself to be a city person. I never thought much about ecological issues until I came back to the US in mid-life. To be sure, Japan was not perfect in terms of the environment–not by any means. But I think it is safe to say that in Japan nature is not held as “standing reserve.” Rather than seen merely as a resource to be used, nature and the seasons are something to which people in Japan strive to be attuned. Deep listening is an especially humbling act, as the ephemeral and transient quality of sound demands attention and focus.”

New goal: Add in some analysis. I will analyze what I like about two creative nonfiction essays per month, which I hope will inform my writing.

Old goal: Read 5 picture books per month

My favourites:

“I Talk Like a River” by Jordan Scott; illustrated by Sydney Smith

The main character is comforted when his father tells him that his stuttering is like talking like a river. Based on a true story.

“A Year of Everyday Wonders” by Cheryl B. Klein; pictures by Qin Leng

A year of firsts and a few seconds and some lasts.

“In a Garden” by Tim McCanna; illustrated by Aimée Sicuro

A rhyming picture book.

My favourite rhyme:

“In a garden

full of green

many moments 

go unseen.”

“A Thousand No’s” by DJ Corchin; pictures by Dan Dougherty

The main character gets a lot of “Nos” for her idea, so she asks for help.

New goal: Analyze what I like about two picture books per month.

Old goal: Submit one story to a contest per season.

I submitted a poem and a creative nonfiction essay to The Fringe Literary Contest.

I submitted a creative nonfiction essay to the Amy MacRae award.

New goal: Continue with this goal.

Old goal: Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Outside” virtual book launch—Sean McCammon with Susanne Ruder (New Star Books)

New goal: I’m going to be flexible about this.

Old goal: Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I have been working on my American poetry course. 

New goal: I am going to be flexible about this.

Old goal: Attend a writing group session per week.

Now that it’s summer, one of my writing groups is only meeting every second week, so it may not be doable.

New goal: Meet when we can over the summer and revisit in September.

Old goal: Blog at least twice a month.

New goal: I will continue this.

Old goal: Weekly treasure:

New goal: I will continue this. It’s one of my favourites.

Challenges:

Old goal: HaikuForTwo

I wrote three this month.

New goal: Continue, as I love this.

New goal: I’m going to go back to doing something similar to the 100 day challenge where I break down some of the stuff I want to do on a daily basis. It helped me complete the German novel I wanted to read. Currently, I am reading a horticultural therapy related novel, two chapters a day.

It was good to reevaluate my goals and see what was working and what was not. How’s your goal setting going?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

May 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

It’s been a weird month weather wise. We’ve had heat warnings along with snow warnings! During this chaos, I’ve been busy with a couple courses including “Writing Nature Essays” and “Foundations for Practitioners of Horticultural Therapy”, both of which I really enjoyed and highly recommend.

Now I’m looking forward to a break where I can play more in my garden and do some more reading.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

Alas, I didn’t do any this month!  I am looking forward to catching up over the next few months.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

“The Nature Fix” by Florence Williams

So much goodness in this book. It’s hard for me to pick just a couple of quotes to give you, because there is so much to share. 

Instead I will share this: 

“Distilling what I learned, I came up with a kind of ultrasimple coda: Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.”

You can watch this video for a little bit more.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

Unbelievably I didn’t read any this month, but I am ahead in this category anyway.

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

Done! My favourites:

“Helping my mother clean out her closet, the year before she died” by Kandace Chapple 

I cannot imagine doing this!

Favourite quote:

“I couldn’t stand to clean out an entire closet, haul away my mother’s wardrobe while she still sat there, living and breathing. I wanted to hear my mother say this wasn’t happening. I wanted another summer with her under the crabapple tree and silver maple, where the branches had met above and grown together, cupping mother and daughter each season.”

“The Single Sentence” by Kandace Chapple

While writing an obituary, a single sentence Chapple writes about her mom changes her approach to parenting.

“Can You Tie My Shoe?” by Kris Martinez

Martinez writes how she chose alcohol over her life, but then decided on her life.

Favourite quote:

“…not every sixth grader knows how to tie her shoes. And we are not the only family who has been through a thing.

But thankfully, we survived.”

“Widow’s Walk” by Melissa Knox 

A stunning essay on grief!

“Shaping the Narrative” by Kelly Eden

In this braided essay, Eden compares her life to the essays she edits.

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done! My favourites:

“Different? Same!” By Heather Teckavec, illustrated by Pippa Curnick

Differences are shown in a group of animals but the group also always has something the same, e.g., they may all live in a different place but they also all have whiskers.

“The Hike” by Alison Farrell

Three friends go on a discovery hike. Lots of great labelled drawings too!

“Percy’s Museum” by Sara O’Leary; illustrated by Carmen Mok

Percy moves an discovers that his new house just isn’t the same as his old house until he starts exploring his backyard.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I finally submitted my story to CANSCAIP’s Writing for Children Competition.

Also I am participating in the Mix ’n’ Match Mini Writing Challenge

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

“Love Your Mother Earth” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger (Toronto Storytelling Festival)

“Song of the Universe” with Diana Beresford-Kroeger (Toronto Storytelling Festival)

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I’m not doing well in this category at all.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

Done!

-Blog at least twice a month.

-Weekly treasure:

Challenges:

HaikuForTwo

I wrote one using two words from “The Nature Fix”.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

March 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

Happy Easter!

It’s hard to believe March has come and gone. It was an unusual March this year: unseasonably warm and with no March Break for the kids, as it has been moved to April.

I completed most of my resolutions this month.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I read one book from my TBR list, and it was an amazing one called “Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process”. Click here to read more about it.

If you want a sample of what the essays are like, click here.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I got part way through my book club book. It’s a huge collection of stories, which I am taking my time with.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read two memoirs:

“Girl in the Dark” by Anna Lyndsey

What would you do if you developed an insensitivity to all forms of light and had to spend all your time in a blacked-out room? Well, that’s what happened to Lyndsey, and you can read all about the highs and lows and the light and the dark in this fascinating memoir. 

Many doctors were puzzled by Lyndsey’s condition, and the memoir has garnered some controversy. You can read about these issues in this article.

I had wondered what happened to Lyndsey in recent years, as the memoir doesn’t end on a positive note with her cure. Fast forward to 2020, and Lyndsey finally got her diagnosis, which is Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. It’s a condition she’ll always have to live with, but at least she knows more about how to manage it.

One of my favourite parts of the book is when she finally is able to go outside after a long period of time inside and experience rain again:

“From the crown of my hat to the toes of my boots, an indescribable thrill runs through me. I stand poised at the edge of the lawn, and my starved senses open to this delicious, half-forgotten joy…It is as though I am being kissed by the world, welcomed back to life.”

“Two Trees Make a Forest” by Jessica J. Lee

This 2020 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction award winner and contender for Canada Reads 2021 (which did not win) is not your typical memoir, as it encompasses history, travel, and nature. This short video and this one will give you a taste, hopefully whetting your appetite to read the book.

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

A lot of my writing has been horticultural therapy related, but I also worked on my story that I wish to hand into the CANSCAIP competition as well as critiquing two stories per week.

Bonus:

Read this excellent story from one of my critique partners, which I got to see evolve.

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

I didn’t quite read three per week, falling short just a couple, mainly because my assignment for my horticultural therapy course was far more extensive than I thought it would be. Here are my favourites:

“As an immigrant, I wanted to understand Canada’s fascination with the Tragically Hip. This is what I found” by Lindsay Pereira

“What the Hip gave me, eventually, was a key to understanding not just a culture but a people. The band’s songs reflected the hopes and aspirations of city dwellers as well as small towners, recognising a commonality in this shared experience that I began to appreciate as an outsider. The people wearing “In Gord we Trust” T-shirts weren’t just fans; they were identifying themselves as members of a club that had used this music as a soundtrack to their lives.”

“Exit Wounds” by Sue Cann

A braided essay weaving together childhood and adult experiences.

-Read 5 picture books per month

Done. Here are my favourites:

“Terry Fox and me” by Mary Beth Leatherdale; illustrated by Milan Pavlović

Told from the perspective of Terry Fox’s best friend, the story is pre Marathon of Hope.

“Dorothea’s Eyes” by Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Gérard DuBois

A picture book biography about photographer Dorothea Lange

“A Last Goodbye” by Elin Kelsey; illustrations by Soyeon Kim

A touching picture book about how animals express grief and take care of each other in the end stages of life

Bonus books:

“Before They Were Authors: Famous Writers as Kids” by Elizabeth Haidle

This graphic biography about such writers as Maya Angelou, Gene Luen Yang, and Madeleine L’Engle is good for both kids and adults.

“Crows: Genius Birds” by Kyla Vanderklugt

I’ll never look at crows the same way again.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I submitted two:

Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse (TNQ)

This was my first time submitting a poem to a contest.

Rate Your Story Spring Writing Contest: Cooking Up Culture

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I attended two writing webinars:

An Evening with Diana Beresford-Kroeger (IRL)

Interview with Tui Sutherland

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did a few ModPo lessons from Coursera.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I attended at least one per week, usually two.

-Blog at least twice a month.

Done

-Weekly treasure:

The only ice in my area remaining is on my backyard Linden tree

Challenges:

100 days

I still continue to read 2 pages of my German book a day, and I am getting close to being done! 

HaikuForTwo

I wrote two from the two memoirs I read, but I have yet to be brave enough to tweet them.

New self created challenge:

30 days of awe

Write down something awe inspiring or beautiful for 30 days.

I have loved doing this.

How was your March?

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

2021 Bookish Resolutions February Wrap-up

Is it the end of February? Already? Where does the time go?

I traditionally struggle with February, but this year the month felt somehow easier to bear, although it was not without its challenges including a couple of tumbles on the ice resulting in some swelling…Ouch! That’s not like me at all. I usually am steady on my feet on ice…Anyway, perhaps it was a signal to slow down and pay attention more, which I have been trying to do, but I guess I needed to be reminded. A painful reminder indeed. Why couldn’t a sticky note with this message have come fluttering down, landing gently on my forehead instead? Hmmm, this might be the plot of a new story. Messages from the sky!

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s my monthly wrap up.

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I finished one book for this challenge—a book written by my uncle called “Africa Revisited”—so that puts me a bit behind, but I am reading a few other books from my TBR list. I am sure that I will catch up soon. Click here to read about the book.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I have the book for this month’s CHTA book club, which I have skimmed but not finished. Some more catch up to do.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

Success! I read one memoir this month.

“this is not the end of me” by Dakshana Bascaramurty 

Bascaramurty documented friend Layton Reid’s dying and then eventual death of cancer. It’s refreshing to see more chapters of how his family is doing after his death.

Favourite quotes:

“would you like to learn the secret to taking on life’s most brutal obstacles?

here it is.

there is no secret. just keep moving, dummy. that’s it.”

and

“for better or worse there are days that just suck the good out of you. your spirit, your strength and your hope. and then there are days when the universe seems to rally around your cause when all prospects seem lost at that particular moment.”

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Done!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“After Amanda Gorman’s performance, I’m reminded that poetry has the power to ease a frantic mind” by Millie Morton

Favourite quote:

“Memorized lines of poetry can be retrieved anywhere and anytime, without a charged battery, even in the middle of a dark, sleepless night.”

“I Don’t Buy The Idea That Women Need To Enforce ‘Positive Rudeness’ To Succeed” by Janice Quirt

Favourite quote:

“The world needs compassionate people to lead, work, parent and contribute. I want to teach my kids that they don’t need to sell themselves short in life, but they have to be decent people. Being aggressive or yelling at people may sometimes provide short-term results, but such strategies do little to build long-term trust and loyalty. That’s as true in the corporate world as it was in kindergarten.

I desire to be heard, and I want my kids to be heard, but not at the expense of resorting to cruel tactics. I’m not suggesting that women bend to the whims of assertive men by placating with false niceties, because that won’t resolve anything. But I do think a cultural shift needs to occur, and I’m hoping a more kindness-forward approach, and not flexing to take up space, could benefit everyone involved.”

“Caught in my mental darkness, I don’t know if I can tough it out” by Scott Lear

Favourite quote:

“I also wonder if I have the courage to continue to expose myself in such a naked way. Is courage even the right word, or is it self-serving selfishness? I’m not thinking of the reader I’ve never met, but about my family, friends and colleagues. How will they feel when they read this? Will they feel guilty or mad I haven’t shared my feelings with them? Will they think I’m weak? I don’t want them to feel any of this.

There’s a lot of mental-health stories written after the fact. When someone’s standing at the top, looking down at the abyss they crawled out of. I find this helpful and inspiring. There’s far less written about being in that abyss. What it’s like to be in darkness. To be surrounded by people, yet feel alone. Perhaps it’s because it’s so painful bringing that emotion to the front. It’s easier to keep it inside and let it simmer. Or maybe I just haven’t bothered to look.”

“The Colors of My Life” by Jacqueline V. Carter

Carter writes about her experiences with colourism, which is not the same as racism but a form of prejudice based on skin colour.

“We Need To Calm The F&%$ Down About Parenting Teens” by Jeni Marinucci

Favourite quote:

“It’s about balance. If I freak out and make a huge deal out of a teen sleeping in until 1 p.m. on a Saturday, or spend all our driving time harping about that friend I don’t like or every meal becomes an inquisition over vegetable consumption, I’m raising the stakes AGAINST myself.”

-Read 5 picture books per month

Completed! 

My favourite:

“The Boy and the Gorilla” by Jackie Azua Kramer; illustrated by Cindy Derby

After his mother dies, a boy talks through his grief with an imaginary gorilla, which helps him connect to his father.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

I’m on fire in this category! I submitted to two contests. Although I didn’t win or place in either one, I now have a couple of stories I can play with.

Valentiny 2021

Click here for the results.

Fanexpo Flash Fiction Competition

Click here to read the winning stories.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I attended three, making up for the lack of webinars I attended last month.

“A Conversation with Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer” hosted by UBC

So many fantastic takeaways from this webinar with the author of “Braiding Sweetgrass”, but my favourite is the response to what an educated person is:

“An educated person knows what their gifts are and how to put them into the world.”

“The Power of Hope: Using Psychological Theory to Help Our Hearts…and Our Writing” (WriteonCon)

diy MFA: My #1 Go-To Writing Technique

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did not do that, although last month I did several.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

Done!

Blog at least twice a month.

Done!

-Weekly treasure:

The tree I sat on while I watched my husband and daughter tobogganing

Challenges:

NF Fest

I read all the posts, but I did not complete enough challenges to qualify for prizes. It’s not the point anyway. The posts are excellent, and I learned a lot.

100 days

100 days to work on a project of your choosing

I have been reading two pages a day of my German novel, and I am surprised and pleased at how much easier tackling a novel that you find intimidating is that way.

HaikuForTwo

I have done one haiku for this challenge.

New challenge:

30 Words

This is a challenge that has been revived. I’ve not posted my first one yet, but stay tuned…coming soon.

I also realize that if my guiding word for this year is Nurture, I need to set some goals to do that. You would think that would be an easy thing to do, but I don’t even notice I’m not doing it. Thus the message from the ice…

I hope that you have had a good February. Now we turn to March and thoughts of spring. Already I can hear the birds singing in the morning again. Bliss.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

January 2021 Bookish Resolutions Wrap-up

It’s been a great start to my year.

 -Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

This month I read “The Happiness of Pursuit” by Chris Guillebeau and “The Kindness Diaries” by Leon Logothetis. Click here to read my summaries of the books.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

I only read 1/3 of my book club selection for my CHTA book club meeting, so I’ll have to do some catching up. I did, however, read one other related book this month.

“Vitamin N: 500 Ways to Enrich the Health & Happiness of Your Family & Community” by Richard Louv

-A huge selection of nature based activities for kids and/or adults and individuals and /or organizations to engage in

Favourite quote:

“The point isn’t that technology is bad for kids or the rest of us, but that daily, monthly, yearlong electronic immersion, without a force to balance it, can drain our ability to pay attention, to think clearly, to be productive and creative.”

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

I read one memoir.

“Field Notes From An Unintentional Birder” by Julia Zarankin

From the jacket cover: The book “…tells the story of finding meaning in mid-life through birds. The book follows the peregrinations of a narrator who learns more from birds than she ever anticipated, as she begins to realize that she herself is a migratory species…”

Favourite quote:

“What I love about birding isn’t so much the birds I see but the circumstances within which I see them. That seeing the birds allows me to reflect on my own life, to forgive myself for things I’ve done, or to understand how they might not have happened otherwise.”

I particularly liked the chapter called “Going Solo”, in which she observes “Birding was helping me develop affection for Toronto, the place I’d always wanted to flee, and that might have been the biggest surprise of all…The most unexpected fringe benefit of birding has been falling in love with my own city.” I can relate. Since I’ve started to learn horticultural therapy and really pay attention to my surroundings during my walks, the urge to flee has been lessened.

-Work on my writing 15 minutes a day.

Completed!

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week. 

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“The Serviceberry: an Economy of Abundance” by Robin Wall Kimmerer

One of my favourite authors writes about different types of economies. It’s a longer read, but it’s worth it.

Favourite quote:

“I want to be part of a system in which wealth means having enough to share, and where the gratification of meeting your family needs is not poisoned by destroying that possibility for someone else. I want to live in a society where the currency of exchange is gratitude and the infinitely renewable resource of kindness, which multiplies every time it is shared rather than depreciating with use.”

“After my miscarriage, ‘hope’ isn’t what I needed to move forward” by Sarah Faye Bauer

The author writes about a different way of viewing hope, and it really made me think. 

Favourite quote:

“Chodron describes hope as the opposite of mindfulness. Hope “robs us of the present moment,” whereas mindfulness means, “being one with our experience, not dissociating, being right there when our hand touches the doorknob or the telephone rings or feelings of all kinds arise.”

Hope assumes a future time and place of stability. Chodron believes nothing is stable, ever. We are groundless. All we have is right now, just this very moment. This golden, terrible, elevating, horrifying, gigantic moment. And then, if we’re very lucky, another moment more.”

-Read 5 picture books a month.

Completed! Here are my favourites:

“Pirate Queen: A Story of Zheng Yi Sao” by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Liz Wong

Did you know that the most powerful pirate of all was actually a Chinese woman in the 18th century? Read about her in this book.

“Harlem Grown” by Tony Hillery; illustrated by Jessie Hartland

Written by the founder, this picture book is the story of how an urban farm transformed the neighbourhood kids and their families.

“The Great Realization” by Tomas Roberts; illustrated by Nomoco

The poem about 2020 that went viral is recreated in picture book form. Click here to view a reading.

Bonus book:

“Music for Tigers” by Michelle Kadarusman

Set in Tasmania, this chapter book explores the rumours that the Tasmanian Tiger—the last known captive one died in 1936—still exists. The main characters are neurodiverse.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

This was a biggie for me. I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest. I had 8 days to complete a maximum 2500 word story.

Luckily I came up with an idea right away with the genre of historical fiction, subject of a long journey, and character of surveyor.

This is the most challenging contest I have ever entered, but I am glad that I completed it.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

I signed up for Jael Richardson’s launch of “Gutter Child”, but unfortunately missed it, so I will watch the recording when I can. That means watching two writing webinars in February.

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I did several lessons of “Write, Heal, Transform: a Magical Memoir Writing Course” from DailyOm. I have now completed the course. Yay me!

-Attend a writing group session per week.

I have done two a week.

-Blog at least twice a month.

This is my third blog post this month.

-Weekly treasure:

Looking up, up, up while laying down on our blanket during our winter picnic in Guelph.

Other Challenges:

Storystorm

Completed with 50 ideas!

New:

100 days

100 days to work on a project of your choosing starting today.

I chose to read 2 pages every day of the German novel I started 2 years ago, because, hey, it’ll motivate me to finish the novel ,and also I’ll spend some time on improving my German every day.

HaikuForTwo

I love this idea of taking two words from the current book that you are reading and creating a haiku poem from it. You can read more about it in this Storystorm post.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

Bookish Resolutions 2021

Happy New Year!

Although the bookish resolutions challenge is not being run this year, I am still going to do it, because I found it to be very helpful for my Focus, which was my word of the year last year.

This year, my word of the year is Nurture. I chose this word, because it encompasses a bunch of things I want to nurture, including my writing and my connections.

Kinda looks like icing instead of paint…..

One of the suggestions I read was to make a stone with your word on it. Well, mine didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped, because the paint got stuck in their tubes and swooshed out. I’m taking it as a sign to also nurture my inner child…

So here are my bookish resolutions for this year:

-Read 24 books for the Mount TBR 2021 challenge.

I successfully did this in 2020.

-Read 12 nature related books to enhance my horticultural therapy study.

Luckily the CHTA is starting a book club this month, so that will help.

-Read 12 books that are either memoir, poetry, or soul books.

-Write or revise 15 minutes a day.

That’s a slight change from word count. I’m going to see if a time limit works better for me than a word count.

-Read 3 creative nonfiction essays a week.

This is a slight decrease from last year’s 5 creative nonfiction essays a week.

-Read 5 picture books a month.

I am decreasing it from 5 picture books a week, because I’m not going to be concentrating on my picture book writing this year, but I still want to stay informed.

-Submit one story to a contest per season.

New this year for me, I am hoping that this resolution will help me to stay committed to writing something so I can submit something.

-Attend one writing webinar per month.

There were so many choices last year, and I am sure that will continue.

-Work on one lesson of a writing course per month.

I have so many writing courses that I have never finished, and that I would like to finish.

-Attend a writing group session per week.

So far I am in two writing groups, so I should be able to finish this, barring problems with schedule conflict.

-Blog at least twice a month.

I want to take the pressure off myself a bit this year, but I do still want to maintain my blog. With this second blog post of the month already, I’ve actually already completed this part of my resolutions for this month! However, I do know that I will do a check in later this month.

So that’s my bookish resolutions for 2021! The revision reflects a change of goals for me.

I have been working through Julie Hedlund’s 12 days of Christmas and just started Tara Lazar’s Storystorm. How about you?

Have you made any resolutions? Do you have a word of the year? I’d love to hear about it.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2021 Linda Schueler

November 2020 Bookish Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been successfully sticking to my bookish resolutions for 11 months! 

-Click here to read what I read for the Mount TBR challenge.

-I read one memoir:

“My Year of Living Spiritually” by Anne Bokma

Bokma writes about her year of trying everything from singing to magic mushrooms, goat yoga to witch camp, gratitude to crystals. The back story is her break from her fundamentalist religion causing a rift from her family, especially her mother. One of my favourite chapters is called “Into the Woods”, which includes her experiences in forest bathing and tree climbing.

Click here to watch an interview with Bokma.

-I wrote at least 250 words five days a week.

-I limited my social media time: 15 minutes maximum for Facebook and 15 minutes maximum for Twitter.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. Here are my favourites:

“This Year Remembrance Day Feels Even More Important To Me” by Natalie Romero

Favourite quote:

“I challenge that those individuals have never actually had their personal rights and freedoms taken from them. If losing the freedom of being able to shop without a mask is the worst you’ve experienced, then count yourself lucky.”

“‘I don’t want to lose who I am’: How a brain tumour messes with your head” by Gaetan Benoit

A humorous and tragic description of Benoit’s diagnosis of a brain tumour with his 2-5 year prognosis and his hope that he can continue to do what he loves.

“Running away is a theme in my family – and it started with my father” by Anne Bokma

To get a taste of what’s in her memoir that I mentioned above, you can read this article.

“Calgary, I need emotional-support chickens in my backyard to endure the new normal” by Teresa Waddington

Favourite quote:

“Don’t get me wrong, they’re still problems. I don’t mean to belittle the issues of emotional dysfunction, but they are problems that only emerge once the issues of immediate threat to survival wane. We can only have emotional-support chickens after we’ve stopped eating every chicken that crosses the road.”

“How do you teach in a pandemic? Masks, face shields and patience, endless patience” by Gisela Koehl 

Written from the perspective of a grade 2 French Immersion teacher.

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“A Family for Faru” by Anitha Rao-Robinson; illustrated by Karen Patkau

Tetenya tries to find a family for orphaned rhino Faru.

“The Boy Who Moved Christmas” by Eric Walters and Nicole Wellwood; illustrated by Carloe Liu

Evan is not expected to live until Christmas, so the family decides to celebrate in October, and then the whole town pitches in by decorating and even holding a parade.

This is a true story, and I remember when this happened in a town close by to me.

“I am the Storm” by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

An exploration of children’s feelings during and after storms.

“The Paper Boat” by Thao Lam

In this wordless picture book, fleeing Vietnam is shown from the point of view of ants. Based on a true story.

“Raj’s Rules” by Lana Button; illustrated by Hatem Aly

Raj has one rule at school: don’t go to the bathroom. What happens when he does?

“Teaching Mrs. Muddle” by Colleen Nelson; illustrated by Alice Carter

The main character has to help her kindergarten teacher on the first day as the teacher mixes everything up.

-I attended several writer’s events:

Letting Go of Anxiety with Tara Henley (Ottawa International Writer’s Festival)

The Me in Memoir with Kamal Al-Solaylee (Kitchener Public Library)

Bird Song: Finding a New Natural Voice (Wild Writer’s)

Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple (“I am the Storm”) (Odyssey Bookshop)

Sara Seager: The Smallest Lights in the Universe (Toronto Public Library)

Far from home: Kaie Kellough and Souvankham Thammavangsa (TIFF)

Memoir’s Companions with Anita Lahey (Wild Writer’s)

“The Short Story: Getting In Between Spaces” (Wild Writer’s)

-I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

-Here is one of my weekly treasures:

My favourite picture of the snow last week

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

October 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

-Click here to see what I read for the Mount TBR challenge.

-I read one memoir from the library:

“All Things Consoled” by Elizabeth Hay

This book won the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Hay writes about becoming her parents’ caregiver. For more about the book, click here.

-I am taking a “Writing Personal Stories” course with Brian Henry, which is helping me to write at least 250 words five days a week.

-I continue to limit my social media, and besides skipping it on Sundays, sometimes I even skip days during the week.

-I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. These are my favourites:

“Understanding Gender These Days is Way Over my Head—But My Teen Girls are Helping me Get There” by Paula Schuck

I can relate, as my teen daughter also teaches me about how diverse the world of gender is today.

Favourite quote:

Teen: “Mom, there are at least 63 different genders.”

Me: “63?” I then sit with a puzzled look on my face, and make a mental note to Google how many different gender and sexual identities there are later. (FYI…now their count has reached 81.)”

“Value Village” by Jonathan Poh

This is the winner of the 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize, and I can see why. Poh writes about his childhood and the racism he faced, centred around the trips to Value Village.

All the other finalists are also worth reading.

“Some Things Better Left Unsaid” by Keb Filippone (3rd place)

A menopausal woman muses about the things she doesn’t say to her husband and wonders also what he doesn’t say to her. 

Favourite quote:

“I often feel badly for him that he has been duped, that the girl who stood by his side and said vows has all but evaporated into the ether, morphed into just a memory, replaced by a depressed menopausal woman who wrestles with alcohol, wrestles with restlessness.”

“It’s OK To Have Privilege—But What Are You Doing With It?” by Vanessa Magic

Favourite quote:

“Even now, when I go to the playground with my son, there are so many parents who seem as if they aren’t affected by the world that’s clearly still on fire. They stand close to each other, they share wine, they don’t enforce the COVID-19 rules and they are quick to change the subject when I ask their thoughts about school in September.”

“Birthing School Dropout” by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo

Favourite quote:

“If there’s anything to be learned, it’s that everyone has a lot of opinions on how you should give birth, what’s good, what’s bad, and what they do and do not feel comfortable with. Ultimately, you must do what’s right for you.”

-I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“The Bug Girl” by Sophia Spencer with Margaret McNamara; illustrated by Kerascoët

A true story written by an 11 year old who was bullied for her love of bugs when she was in grade one, so her mom looks for a bug pal for her.

“Florette” by Anna Walker

Mae moves to the city, can’t bring her garden with her, and there’s no room to grow what she wants to grow. One day she follows a familiar bird.

“Emmy Noether: The Most Important Mathematician You’ve Never Heard Of” by Helaine Becker; illustrated by Kari Rust

A picture book biography about mathematician Emmy Noether, a Jewish woman, who faced many obstacles, but who invented two major ideas that helped to change how we understand the universe.

“Your House, My House” by Marianne Dubuc

The story is a dull tale about Little Rabbit’s birthday, but the pictures tell an entirely different story; every apartment inhabitant has their own tale going on. Look for all the parallel stories, such as what happens to the ghost, Goldilocks, and the three little bears.

“The One with the Scraggly Beard” by Elizabeth Withey; illustrated by Lynn Scurfield

A very touching and tastefully written story about a boy who compares himself with a homeless man. It’s based on the author’s son’s relationship with the author’s brother.

-I attended several writer’s events.

“Wild World” (EMWF)

Wade Davis, Steven Heighton, and James Raffan with host Laura Trethewey

One Page: How to Fly with Barbara Kingsolver

Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Ottawa’s Writers Festival)

“Evening With Margaret Atwood” (TIFA)

TIFA Kids! The Lost Spells with Robert Macfarlane & Jackie Morris

-I spent one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

-I blogged one time a week. In fact this week I blogged more than once. Go to the last post to enjoy my Halloweensie.

-I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” diary.

-This is one of my weekly treasures:

I stumbled upon this woodpecker while foraging for mushrooms.

Shoe’s Seeds & Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler

September 2020 Bookish Resolutions Wrapup

I read more than one from my TBR pile this month, which means I am catching up. Yay me! Click here to read about my accomplishments.

I did not finish reading a memoir from the library this month, but I am well ahead in this challenge. I am part way through reading one too.

I continue to write. I am also revising my first novel (approximately 90 000 words!), which I worked on with a writing partner.

I limited my social media. 

I read 5 creative nonfiction essays per week. These are my favourites:

A police officer is not the best person to help someone in psychosis” by Rebeccah Love

I know someone who is in this position, and this essay sheds some light on what she goes through.

Sometimes I feel like an undercover black woman” by Eilidh McAllister

McAllister is biracial but looks caucasian.

Favourite quote:

“Personally, I am going to try to initiate the hard conversations when racist undercurrents are felt and be OK with being uncomfortable. Because if we have those dialogues, we can move forward. We all have biases to break, so let’s help one another do that.”

The self-imposed stress of being in the gifted class nearly killed me” by Anastasia Blosser

My daughter isn’t in a full time gifted program, as the principal of her school did not believe in sending any of her students to that program, and when I read this essay it makes me reconsider if the principal wasn’t wise in keeping her in the part time program. For example, I am shocked to read that the students would compete with each other to be the unhealthiest in order to achieve the highest grades.

Wise words from Blosser: “Positive growth doesn’t focus on running back, on obsessing over what could have been. It’s about growing and moving forward, accepting what happened and learning how to fix it. Well-being doesn’t always mean making the right decisions, it’s about realizing a pattern of unhealthy behaviour and lovingly helping yourself change. It’s a learning curve I’ll master some day, but a class I’ll never graduate from.”

“Lunatic” by Sarah Blackstock

This is a powerful and moving essay you can listen to as read by Blackstock about how her mentally ill mother was treated including being given the label of lunatic and a series of medications, the effects on the family, and the eventual deadly consequences.

The wonderful lessons that pain can teach you” by Glenna Fraumeni 

Favourite quote:

“Through enduring painful experiences – whether it be sepsis or other physical or mental-health challenges – you gain a new perspective. You realize that you can, in fact, be stopped in your tracks. That you don’t have a say in everything. And with the treatment and tapering of excruciating pain comes the realization that idleness and existing in a state of neutral calm can be a beautiful thing. We don’t need to always be numbing the in-between moments with distractions.”

“How I baked my way to good mental health” by Keri Ferencz

Ferencz stops baking—and doing a lot of other things—after being made to felt that she must be perfect at it, but then one day realizes that her baking—and other things in life—doesn’t have to be perfect

Bonus: “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell

This 1936 essay is recommended by Mary Karr in her book “The Art of Memoir”.

Orwell writes about not wanting to shoot an elephant but finds that he must do so due to pressure, and also writes about how he hates his role in the British empire and how he is hated in turn.

I read 5 picture books per week. These are my favourites:

“Together We Grow” by Susan Vaught; illustrated by Kelly Murphy

In this rhyming book, a fox seeking shelter from a thunderstorm is initially turned away from a barnful of animals until a duckling connects all the creatures.

“The Barnabus Project” by The Fan Brothers

Barnabus is not a Perfect Pet but instead is a Failed Project. When he hears he is going to be recycled he and the other failures attempt to escape.

“Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell” by Selina Alko

Joni Mitchell’s musical journey—how she painted with words—is movingly written in this picture book biography.

“Remarkably You” by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Patrice Barton

This rhyming picture book encourages kids to be themselves.

“I Found Hope in a Cherry Tree” by Jean E. Pendziwol; illustrated by Nathalie Dion

This beautiful poem illustrates how hope in autumn brings flowers in the spring.

I attended a few online writer events.

Five Tips for Writing Through a Tough Time with Nadia L. Hohn

A mini workshop from Eden Mills Writers’ Festival (EMWF)

“The Barnabus Project” with Devin Fan 

A book launch of the picture book hosted by EMWF.

Art and Healing (EMWF)

Christa Couture, Lorna Crozier, David A. Robertson, and Emily Urquhart talk about their books and life. The event was hosted by Susan G. Cole.

This is the most touching of all the EMWF webinars I have sat through.

I spent at least one hour a week working on one of my many guided journals.

I blogged one time a week.

I wrote about 10 objects for my “Cabinet of Curiosities” object diary.

I still have this collection of essays from my grade 3 class!

New this month is “Weekly Treasure”. Read last week’s blog post to learn all about it.

Smack dab in the middle of a corn maze, I found this sunflower dripping with seeds. What a treasure!

Shoe’s Sunday Stories

@Copyright 2020 Linda Schueler