Sunday, March 20, 2016

Writing for Nerdy Book Club & Four Authors Who Push Me to Dare Greatly

My 6:31 screenshot so I could remind myself later, no you
weren't dreaming, this actually happened!
In what now seems absolutely surreal, I woke up a few weeks ago to a milestone I never thought I'd achieve, my name on a Nerdy Book Club byline.

Already, by 6:30 a.m. my phone was lighting up with a flurry of new twitter followers, people sharing on Facebook, commenting, and to my pleasant surprise none of my worst fears (people telling me it was absolute crap) came true. It was shared over 1,000 times from their website, hundreds of times on Facebook, and somehow, no negative Internet hatred had yet rung down upon me.

In the weeks since I've still been processing that something could actually go well and not be a total disaster. As humans, as women, and as teachers, we often are our own worst critics. From trying a lesson that doesn't go as planned, to not having all students meet that goal we set out to -- it's so easy for us to blame ourselves and spiral into negative spaces. However, one of the many powerful things about teaching as a profession is that we are always learning, for our students, for ourselves, and for our school communities.

With this is mind, over the past year, I've been working on trying to portion out a larger percentage of that learning energy for myself too, feeding my own soul and doing what makes me feel most alive. A big part of that has been working up the courage to prioritize myself, which, not surprisingly, is making me more effective in my classroom as well.

From taking the #100daysofrealfood challenge with my boyfriend to reignite my love of cooking and help ourselves get healthier, to getting back into running, to gardening, it's been a good year of working on my own personal growth. However, my last goal seemed the scariest: writing. It's something I've wanted to do since childhood. (Just ask my mother, she loves telling the story of my elementary school days, when I, forever writing, even wrote a book for my dentist and gave it to him). Writing has been a constant wish, but never something I'd gotten up the courage to do. The voice in my head kicks in that it's not good enough, it's not worth writing because no one will ever want to read it anyway.

And so the decision to jump in and try to write for Nerdy Book Club was a huge step. And I am ever so grateful for each person who read and found use in my writing. But before all the good stuff came, here are four women who through their writing, pushed me to go for it.

The voices that countered the negative ones in my head -- that even though I've only taught for four years, I did have something to offer. That even though my experiences weren't anything award-winning, I have worked hard to accomplish many goals in my classroom each and everyday, and that my voice could be valuable to others. The positive, inspiring voices of these women overpowered my negative ones -- loudly assuring me that in my creative life, wanting to write was my truth and I may as well be try and be vulnerable if I want to get to this business of daring greatly.

So for whatever your daring may be, my hope is the wise words of these four women may help you too.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent & Lead 
by BrenĂ© Brown 

"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough." (10)

"If we want to reclaim the essential emotional part of our lives and reignite our passion and purpose, we have to learn how to own and engage with our vulnerability and how to feel the emotions that come with it... Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.. We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we're afraid to let them see it in us. We're afraid that our truth isn't enough - that what we have to offer isn't enough without the bells and whistles, without editing and impressing... I was afraid... these people were too important, too successful... my kitchen-table self is too messy, to imperfect." (35-41)

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear 
by Elizabeth Gilbert

"But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels - that's creative living." (8)

"Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you'll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I'm about to do anything interesting - and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused." (25)

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
by Meg Jay

"Unknown thoughts are those things we know about ourselves but somehow forgot somehow. These are the dreams we have lost sight of or the truths we sense but don't say out loud. We may be afraid of acknowledging the unthought known to other people because we are afraid of what they might think." (39)

"Twentysomethings who don't feel anxious or incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed." (147)

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake: A Memoir
by Anna Quindlen

"When I coach students through essay writing, I invariably give them the most able the same direction: go deeper, go deeper. In each iteration, reveal more, of who you truly are, of what you really think. That's the hallmark of aging, too, that we learn to go deeper, in our friendships, in our family life, in our reflections on how we live and how we face the future. The reason we develop an equanimity about our lives and ourselves is that we have gone deep into what has real meaning." (149)


  1. Ms. G,

    Congrats on your Nerdy Book Club post! I recently had a great moment as well when Choice Literacy linked to my blog in their March 12th newsletter, The Big Fresh. I'm curious one blogger to another how you tracked shares, promote via Facebook and Twitter, and otherwise manage your blog presence. I'm taking this plunge as well and I want to get my blog out there and continue to drum up readership.


    1. Lindsay,

      Thank you so much! Congrats on getting yours linked as well! Just getting started myself, so I'm not sure. What I did was screenshot to keep numbers throughout the day to make sure I could keep those memories close! Otherwise, I know Google Stats can help with tracking to see where traffic is coming from.

      Best of luck! We'll get there together :)