I've Got Writes!

Teacher, Writer, Proofreader

Archive for the category “Random Topics”

31 Day Writing Habit Begins Now!

So, last year I tried upping my word count with a month’s worth of daily prompts. I believe I made it to eleven. Day eleven, that is, not a word count of eleven.

(Total sidebar here: Eleven makes me think of Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” I have only begun the 2nd season, so no spoilers, please.)

This year, I signed up with Jeff Goins for his 500-words daily challenge for 31 days.

The goal is to write 500 words per day, no matter the quality. That part will work itself out later. The problem that most writers (I assume) have is that we read about writing, think about writing, edit other people’s writing, teach writing skills, but don’t plant our asses in the chair (in my case, I’m currently on my bed) and put our fingers on the keys to, you know, make words from our brains appear on the screen.

I’m hoping to do better this time. My mind works in stream-of-consciousness, and my editing brain seeks to fix things along the way instead of letting me just be free to write/type. Perhaps I should just go back to paper/pencil journaling. I think it does have its place for creative juices to flow.

I’m a teacher, a frequently disgruntled one. Disgruntled at some students, yes. Disgruntled at some admin from far above, yes. Disgruntled with some parents, yes. But, mostly, disgruntled with our education system. It sucks. It doesn’t follow researched data on how kids develop and learn. The powers that be say it does, but it doesn’t. They bark “Test scores! Data-driven!” It’s only data from the standardized tests that they care about, not data from brain science, behavioral science, child development, etc.

What moves the system (the education monster) is just what moves the big corporations, the testing companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, etc. The seductive dollar.

Let me inform you, parents. To the “Man”, your children are numbers. That’s it.

To most of their teachers and principals, they are real, live humans. With needs. With different learning styles that can’t be accommodated with standardized tests. With skills that can’t be tested by choosing (a), (b), (c), or (d). With knowledge and experiences that can’t be shown on pie charts or by percentages. With dreams, desires, goals, likes, dislikes, that your child’s teachers might know if they aren’t overwhelmed by discipline problems or crowd control issues. But, the general public only sees those scores, charts, numbers that cannot possibly sum up who your child is or where they’re headed in life.

I’m a for public education. I’m also for private education, when people can afford it. I’m also for online schools that can take out the classroom chaos, and countless distractions that come with corralling large numbers of students in schools with limited staff to supervise. I’m an educator who loves learning and teaching.  As long as greedy people who don’t really care about humanity and real learning continue to be in charge of the education monster, we will continue the cycle that causes teachers to throw their hands up and quit their field.

We will choose other ways to educate those around us.

Well, there’s my 500 words, plus a few more!

Disclaimer: I am posting this without much editing in an attempt to establish my new habit of writing 500 words per day. 




Writing Prompt Day 11: Favorite Foods

Oh, where to begin?? This would be easier if it were foods I hate. Like, sardines, liver, intestines …

I like pizza, pasta, chicken, steak, fried potatoes, most veggies, dark chocolate (duh), chocolate malts from Braum’s (a cure-all according to my dad), fruit, coconut milk yogurt, chai tea, Auntie Anne’s pretzels, mini powdered donuts, and SO MUCH MORE!

Salsa on salad or with chips. I can make pretty good fresh salsa. Speaking of salsa …

I LOVE CILANTRO! I always order “lots of cilantro” at any Mexian restaurant. Lots. I love to smell the batches of cilantro in the grocery store. Don’t judge!


Working On Me!

Since the whole Tinder-scammer fiasco last year (see posts below), I have had some pleasant dates with actual, real non-scamming dudes. However, I’m still trying to figure out this whole dating gig, even after being single for {cough}, let’s just say, a while now.

I’ve been on another dating site that has been a little less scammy, but I’m finding out more and more about myself as I trek along.

I don’t remember exactly how, but last summer, I stumbled upon multiple YouTube channels of these guys who provide dating and relationship advice to women. I’m a teacher, so that whole lifelong learner mantra stands true with me. I’m a sponge for information, especially when it’s secret intelligence that promises to enlighten me about the male psyche and how the hell I can avoid the emotional peril and perplexities I’ve encountered throughout my not-so-impressive dating life. So, I subscribed to a few of these guys’ YouTube channels.

Now, these experts charge for classes, webinars, downloads, and videos because these are their businesses. But, they also offer free tid-bits, to lure you in. I don’t mean that negatively, though. Truly, the only reason I haven’t already purchased one or more of their programs is because I’m an Oklahoma teacher, and I HAVE. NO. MONEY.

Let me tell you what their videos have done for me thus far.

  • They have encouraged me.
  • They have reminded me that I’m valuable, and that I need to act like it.
  • They have made me more aware of times when my behavior or attitude exudes insecurities instead of confidence.
  • They have shown me that I sometimes allow the negative and hurtful things from past relationships (dating or platonic) to dictate how I perceive the world, my circumstances, and men.
The main takeaway for me is this: Work on me. Make sure I’m happy within myself before I add a long-term relationship to the mix.

Now, I’ve known this in my head for a long time, and I thought just knowing it to be true was all that was necessary. But it’s not. I have to work on it, apply it, keep learning about myself and adjusting accordingly as I go. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s not a I’ve got it, I’ve arrived thing, either. It’s a growing, cultivating work of art. Yep, I’m a work of art and God is the artist. I know that analogy is overused, but it’s true. And I like it, so there. 😉

Does this mean I’m not allowing myself to meet and talk to guys? Nope! I’m just doing it with incremental confidence. Baby steps. Keep learning, keep trying, keep enjoying.

Tell me in the comment sections what you’ve learned about relationships and yourself lately.

Below are the aforementioned Tinder posts, in case you missed them. Know someone on Tinder? Share these posts!
  1. My Tinder Mission
  2. Tinder BS-O-Meter Sounds Again
  3. Actual Tinder Scamming Profile
  4. Tinder Photo Swiping
  5. Bye Tinder, I’m Swiped Out!

Writing Prompt Day 10: Top Five Pet Peeves

These are in no particular order. I’m  sure there are more–just ask my students.

1) Grammatical mistakes in posts or articles that are meant to be poignant but immediately lose credibility due to complacent ignorance or blatant irreverence of the English language. (Is that grammar snobbish enough?)

2) Disrespect.

3) Arrogance. (Unless you’re a member of the grammar police, like me. Ha! Am I hypocritical?)

4) Students (or anyone) exuding entitlement.

5) People who are energetic, early risers. If you speak to me within two hours of my waking, you simply don’t know me and don’t value your life. (This amends #2 for those of us who are not morning people.)

Writing Prompt Day 9: Something I Crave A Lot

Crave physically? Mentally? Emotionally?


Sometimes I crave french fries dipped in a chocolate malt. Yumminess.


I crave intelligent and inspiring conversation.


I crave love and companionship from a man who will love me inspite of my flaws. I also crave to reciprocate that.

Let me be clear. I know how to be single. I’m independent and do enjoy facets of my singleness. Alone time is important and necessary for me to recharge and regroup. I can come and go as I please. I can decide when or if I’ll cook or do the dishes. However, singleness and loneliness are sometimes synonymous.

I don’t NEED someone in order to function and thrive, but I WANT to share life with someone. Someone who can bring out the best parts of me that I wouldn’t easily discover without that significant other to inspire and encourage me toward new adventures.

I know that some people in the world have found their perfect match or soulmate. You might scoff at that word, soulmate. Scoff if you must, but I choose to believe it can happen. To me. No one’s perfect, I get that. But, perfect simply means a perfect fit for me.

I’m going to keep growing and learning, to keep cultivating a better and better version of me. I’ll continue on my journey, hoping, trusting, moving, enjoying, fighting, and loving. He’s bound to show up, ready to be my fitting soulmate.

Writing Prompt Day 8: Nicknames I’ve Had and Why

“What’s in a name?”

My given name is Amanda but friends and family call me Mandy. I like both names, but Amanda feels more formal or grown up to me.

I’ve always been fond of the meaning of my name. It means worthy of love, which the band Boston and singer Barry Manilow seem to be aware of and cater to quite nicely. I particularly like the Boston song. One of my dreams (I should add this to my previous post) would be for the love of my life to sing that one to me, whomever and wherever he is.

Many of my other nicknames come from specific people in my life and are just a playful form of my name. I’m called Mando by my friend John, Mandini by my ONLY college friend, Mandoline by a high school friend, and Manda Lou by multiple people.

My dad was goofy and silly, and he had countless names for me. Here are the few I remember off hand: Mandoo, Girl Kid, and Pootie Sue (I have no idea where that came from or why). Please don’t use these against me!

Some nicknames from junior high and high school were rude and hurtful, so no need to go down that hideous memory lane.

Any nicknames you are particularly proud of? Any you’d like to sear from your brain? Do share in the comments!



Writing Prompt Day 7: My Hopes and Dreams

Well, this is a little overwhelming. I’ve got lots of hopes and dreams.

  • I dream of my degree actually paying off. Of paying off debt that I’ve accrued from living paycheck to paycheck on an Oklahoma teacher’s salary.
  • I dream of getting my freelance writing/editing/proofreading business off the ground to, at the very least, supplement my teacher pay.
  • I dream of traveling the U.S. and any place where I can bury my toes in the sand, listen to the waves, and enjoy the mood-lifting sunshine.
  • I dream of loving and being loved by a man who brings out the best in me. I want a relationship in which we encourage, challenge, and support each other; in which we are better people together than we are apart. I dream of having authentic, honest communication with him. I’ve waited long enough to know who I am, know what I’m worth, and know what I have to offer. I don’t say these things lightly or arrogantly. Anybody who really knows me, knows that to be true.
  • I hope that my family and friends know how much I love, need, and appreciate them.
  • I hope that others see me as a caring, grateful person.

That’s all I can come up with for this sitting. What are your hopes and dreams? Share them in the comment section! 🙂


Writing Prompt Day 6: Something You Were Proud of in the Last Few Days

This one is tough. The last few days have not been my best. But, I guess I can talk about my 6th graders. I prepped them this week before beginning a novel with them. I have a “prediction board” (see photo below) that I created, dangling hints about the story.


I showed them the board and had them discuss with each other what they thought the book would be about. Then, I had them write a prediction paragraph. So, for two days, we discussed, we questioned, and we predicted. I loved watching the anticipation rising in them.

Right before reading, I had them raise their right hands and repeat after me.
“I do solemnly swear that I will not, under any circumstances, be a book spoiler.” (I make a huge deal about this.)

So, we read (I read it aloud to them while they followed along) the first chapter of the book Thursday, then I made them close the book. I’ve taught this book three times before. As ususal, they were shocked, moved, and begged to keep reading. They peppered me with questions, to which my repeated reply was, “That’s a great question!”

Even students who “hate reading” are hooked, as I knew they would be. These are the times when I feel like my job is worth something, when I am actually making a difference and enjoying it.

What’s the title of this awesome book? That’s a great question!

The Mailbox by Audrey Shafer


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Writing Prompt 5: Favorite Super Hero and Why

Ok, as a product of the 70s and 80s Saturday morning cartoons, I have fond memories of Wonder Woman, Superfriends (Wonder Twin powers, ACTIVATE!), Shazam, and ISIS.

However, I’m going the shallow route this time to tell you my favorite super hero is Ironman. Why? Because his iron suit is cool and, more importantly, Robert Downey, Jr. is HOT!!! Gets better with age! Can I get an AMEN?

30 Days of Writing Prompts Day 4: A Photo of Someplace I’ve Been

If you are ever in Quito, Ecuador, you MUST ride the cable cars up to Pichincha to get an amazing view of Quito and the volcano!

Last summer, my Ecuadorian family blessed me with a third trip to Quito. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t only post ONE photo.

These were taken with my little Samsung S4 mini. (For me, keeping up with the latest technology is exhausting and expensive.)


This one is my FAVORITE scenic photos from this trip!

A little background on my Ecuadorian family: I hosted an exchange student 8 years ago. Through that experience, I gained three stamps in my passport, insight into a different culture than mine, and valuable relationships that I continue to cultivate.


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