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Thursday, March 8, 2012

the power of ordinary

So far this month I've blogged about:

card games
chatting with a friend
gym shoes
toilet paper

They are mundane topics. Ordinary to the point of boredom. Plain and simple every day moments that aren't unique to me. In fact, these things are almost insignificant -- but they change me for the better.

I write small in order to understand big.

I'm challenging myself to see how small I can write, to find the most ordinary points of my day, and then to push myself to find the meaning. I think of it as finding unexpected gems tucked into my days. Too often I miss these powerful moments.

I think this is part of Mission Story. It's about being aware of the ordinary moments, capturing them, and finding they are indeed tiny, but powerful.

Click on the image to join
Slice of Life Challenge or to read
other slices.


  1. And isn't that what slicing is all about? I think this also relates to Becky Higgins' Project Life. I am doing it for the first time this year and enjoying the process and making documenting the small moments a priority.

  2. I like your idea of taking life's moments and writing them small. I am a talker and a writer. I struggle to just use the words that need to be used. My post today was an attempt at that principle. The thoughts were on my mind, but no one needs to hear the whole story.

  3. Teach your kids to find and write small is the message I try to pass on to my teachers. Some get it. When I model writing with kids, it is always simple (silly things my cat does, going swimming, sitting in my backyard). I look over your list and think about how the story was told and I don't see small, I think big.

  4. Your challenge is interesting to me. To look closer at life, at the little things we take for granted. I will go back and read your other slices.
    When I was in photography school my friend and I use to give each other coordinates, like walk two blocks then go left and stop after 10 steps and photograph whatever you saw when you got there.
    Your slice reminds me of that.

    Okay, here is one for you. Start at your front door, walk to the end of your driveway, turn left. Walk one block, turn right, and then walk 5 paces. Write about what you see within five feet of your feet.
    I will gladly take coordinates back :)

  5. This is exactly what I've been trying to teach my students. Many of them think that they have to write about the big things that happen. They are learning that the small things are actually big things when they look at them closely.

  6. Funny you should reflect on your slices today... I have been mulling over your recent slices lately too. I have been trying to figure out how I could do what you've been doing. I have been on the hunt for the meaning I can create from my ordinary. It has been soaking in how difficult it is to figure out HOW to tell each story--more difficult than figuring out WHAT story to tell. Your words are my mentor.

  7. I love how you take those small moments and create something special. You are a master at it. I have a hard time teaching this to kids...we may have to do some practicing!

  8. I think keeping it simple brings out a lot of thought and reflection about life in general. I feel sorry for the person who cannot slow down to enjoy these quiet times.

  9. There was such power in the very idea of you walking around in Hannah's shoes, consciously trying to see and feel her pathway in your family. I found this very moving, Ruth.

  10. Thanks for sharing your insights to your thinking about the ordinary. I'm always on the hunt for a story, a slice, but this is taking it to another level of creativity.

  11. Ruth,
    I love the way you describe the power of the ordinary. So true. This is what it's all about and writing really helps us to stop and smell the roses. I especially like this line, "I think of it as finding unexpected gems tucked into my days." So true. This also reminds me of the beauty of student writing. ~Theresa

  12. I think that is what I have so loved about the March challenge - pushing myself to write about the ordinary moments and to see the extra-ordinary in those moments.

  13. I can't wait to see how "small" you can go. I'm enjoying all your posts. :)

  14. Just like that earlier post that I copied & keep handy, Ruth, this is priceless advice. Thanks for reminding us again. Do you know the poem "Write About A Radish, Everyone writes about the moon"... by Karla Kuskin. It's exactly what you are saying, & makes a good lesson for the students, that being us slicers too!

  15. Thanks for the reminder. One thing I love about the SOLS Challenge is the fact that I am looking at everything and wondering if I could mold my words into a slice. I am trying to give voice to the little things my brain says. Funny, huh, but so true. I guess by me thinking about my process, I am able to help my students and teachers realize how they can write too.
    As always, you are an inspiration!

  16. Focusing on small things and finding meaning and joy in them matters both in writing and life. For our unit of study about religions we had a guest speaking to my students (grade 3 and 4) about Buddhism and meditation. Staying in the moment and focusing to clear the mind is challenging. In writing it is also challenging to stay in a moment and be aware. It takes practice in both cases. It felt good to read your slice and just be here with you for a while.

  17. Isn't that what we try and get our students to do too? I have been having them slice on Tuesdays this month in effort to refocus the 'smallness' of our writing. Thanks for pointing out all of your 'small' examples.

  18. I'll have to bookmark this when I've run out of inspiration for slicing... I'll be back!


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