You don’t know what you don’t know until you find out

This is why I love to write. It’s why I love to be a teacher. And it’s why I love to ask questions. There is so much to learn in this life! Just when I thought I knew so much about the art and craft of writing picture books, along came a woman who planted an island full of seeds where a 50 square foot plot of a garden previously grew. Thanks to Emma Dryden, editor extraordinaire, and 11 other amazing children’s authors, I believe I will have a bountiful crop this year. Characters will be fed and nourished, conflicts and resolutions will be fertilized, surprises and twists in all that I plant will be celebrated. Everything will ripen and be fermented before served onto the pages!

Michelle, Deb, Emma, Anna, Linda, Margaret, Debra, Joyce, Betsy, Mara, Laurie

Michelle, Deb, Emma, Anna, Linda, Margaret, Debra, Joyce, Betsy, Mara, Laurie

Noepe Center Writers’ Residency

It’s funny. My son went to overnight camp this week for the first time. He went with tears and doubts and some fears. Would the other boys be nice to him? Would it be fun? He wouldn’t know anyone and it was scary. When I returned home after dropping him off I wished I had told him that I, too, was going to camp this week. That life is like camp. Every day we step into our life knowing what and who we knew yesterday, but never knowing what this new day will bring and how that might enrich us if we welcome that new day with an open mind and an open heart. If we give ourselves permission not only to be a little scared, but permission to enjoy our new experiences and our new day, magic can happen. When we close ourselves to learning something new, meeting new people, printing our story in a crazy font and in multiple columns just to gain a new perspective, we lose the opportunity to find out how that new thing, that new person, that crazy format might feed our soul.

Life Lesson #9: Find out! Thirst for learning, for new experiences, for new people. Actively seek new ways to see – the world, your child, a piece of writing, the slugs in your garden – and you will be a changed person.

In Phoebe Gilman’s beautiful book Joseph’s beloved blanket gets smaller and smaller and he doesn’t know what will become of it, but he knows grandfather will find a way to make something from nothing. You don’t know what you don’t know until you find out!

Click on book image for Phoebe Gilman's website

Click on book image for Phoebe Gilman’s website



Put on your game face!

This week my son got to participate in a two-day basketball clinic called Battle In The Bluffs. He’s never played on a team, probably doesn’t even know the rules of the game, but every day at recess and after school he’s out there on the court shooting baskets. Talk about life lessons? These two days were chock full of them!

For starters, for my son to jump into this clinic not knowing much about basketball was a brave and admirable choice. It reminded me of what Jane Yolen says about how we can get better as writers: “Sit butt in chair.” It’s the same lesson for basketball or anything else in life. Get out on the court and play. Learn as you go. Get better every day. But if you don’t try, you’ll never get better.

The lessons from this clinic didn’t stop there, though. Let’s talk about the founder and one of the coaches, Ian Thomas-Minor. Ian says this clinic is about basketball but everything the children do out there, from the warm-ups, to how they keep track of their Gatorade cap, to how they play are all lessons for life. How true! If you’ve never been on a team (which I hadn’t until I was a mom and joined a softball team!) it’s a very empowering experience, particularly if you have a stand-out coach.

Here’s a buffet of lessons I overheard out there on the court today from Ian and the other amazing coaches:

1. Eat your breakfast to start the day out with strength and nourishment.

2. Stay hydrated.

3. Be mindful of your stuff.

4. Clap it up when your teammate stumbles. Encourage each other.

5. Don’t skimp on the warm-ups. Treat your body and mind with respect.

6. Play fair.

7. Be kind.

8. If you’re down or mad, put on your game face and show everyone you can’t be beaten down.

9. Talk to each other.

10. Whether you’re 3′ or 6′ tall, you can play the game.

Life Lesson #8: It’s what you do with what’s on the inside that sets you apart and makes you succeed.

So pump up the music! Children are the future. They can be legendary if given the love, encouragement, opportunity, and positivity we all crave.

And YOU! Take care of yourself and look on the inside to see all the goodness and talent in you, especially in the face of rejection from an agent, editor, co-worker, or stranger. Rise up and put on your game face!

See how Zorro quickly figures it all out in Carter Goodrich’s delightful book. All Zorro needs is one person (or dog, in this case!) to believe in him…



Click on image to see Carter Goodrich’s website and books