Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category


“Writing to me is like thinking through my fingers.”

– Isaac Asimov

Nine years ago, I walked into a local writers’ workshop, and I’ve never looked back. I remember being anxious about it at first. I was a former obit writer/beat reporter who hadn’t composed anything creative in years. What if I didn’t fit in? Or worse, what if I wasn’t good enough? That first night, I wrote a short story and a type of poem called a villanelle. Oy! I thought I was way out of my league, but I left feeling like I found my long-lost family of writers.

One of the first pieces I wrote was about picking up Jenna from her Jewish overnight camp and learning she was now a vegetarian. I wondered on the page how that happened and wrongly assumed this was a phase she would quickly grow out of at the sight of her first hot dog. (She was a vegetarian for three years!)

I was encouraged to submit that story somewhere, and ultimately it was picked up by (Here is that story.) Not only was I now a blogger with a byline, but I became a regular at the writing workshop. I am a better writer because of the support I’ve received from Rachel, my writing coach, and my peers. The positive feedback and constructive criticism gifted to me with each piece I submit allow me to discover something new about my craft. And the opportunity to reciprocate by supporting and helping other writers is a privilege I never take for granted.

Becoming a good literary citizen is an essential part of this training.

Since that first workshop, I’ve learned how to use em dashes and how not to rely on cliches. I know the importance of choosing strong verbs and including sensory details in a story. At the moment, my biggest challenge is remembering to put more of myself into what I write instead of just relaying what happened. This is becoming a problem because if I want to write a memoir or publish a collection of personal essays, being able to write about myself is a must.

Using all these tools, I’m building up my writing muscles to offer stories that pack a punch.

I’ve also discovered the self-care side of writing, like being kinder to myself, overcoming writer’s block, and fighting off imposter syndrome. I’ve established a routine and identified mornings as my best time for writing. I blog just about every day now but allow myself a break to avoid burnout. I feed my creative soul with excellent books, motivational quotes, good music, and long walks.

Permitting myself to indulge in self-care may be the most important part of my training.

So, even if I publish my book and sell many copies (G-d willing!), I’ll always be a writer-in-training. There is so much more for me to learn, many writers to continue supporting, and so many stories to tell. And I am here for all of it.

What have you learned about writing? Please share in the comments.




What’s in Your Pantry?

I plan to do a lot of cooking today, so I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner this week. Before I started cooking, though, I decided to reorganize the kitchen pantry. My pantry can only be described as a dumping ground for anything that doesn’t go in the refrigerator. I wish I had taken a “before” picture. There were bags and boxes strewn everywhere without rhyme or reason, and I honestly didn’t know what was there anymore.

I also know I’m buying items I already have at the grocery store – like taco shells. So many taco shells. I’m all set for at least a month of Taco Tuesdays.

When I took everything out, I found many expired products from the pandemic lockdown, like an enormous box of pancake mix from late 2021 and some oven-ready lasagne noodles from 2022. And then, there was a pile of random boxes that I purchased in duplicates and, in some cases, triplicates. Like, what am I doing with three different containers of granola, four boxes of Swiss Miss instant hot chocolate packets, five bags of croutons, and six cans of tomato soup?! Not to mention all of the kosher for Passover items I swore I’d make good use of and never did.

I intended to spend about half an hour going through everything and putting it back neatly. Two hours, three trash bags, and one full bin of recycling later, I now have a beautifully organized pantry.

Now, it’s time to start cooking for the week.

How are you spending your Sunday? Let me know in the comments.



Another First

Jenna is leaving for her first business trip tomorrow. She is headed to St. Louis for a three-day training. I bet this is the first time she will have a hotel room all to herself. No brother to share a bathroom with, and she doesn’t have to hear me snore in the bed next to her. Her job will cover food and travel; she will have to remember to save her receipts and submit an expense report.

Wow! Baby’s first business trip! So bizarre, and yet actually happening. She is already well-traveled, having spent part of her summer in Israel and on her own in Greece. When he returned from that trip, she told us she had become just like her Dad, a Type-A traveler who has her paperwork at her fingertips and makes sure not to pack an entire tube of toothpaste in her carry-on bag.

My first business trip was to Portland, Oregon. I worked in a publishing company as an editorial assistant and was tasked with organizing a retreat for 30 teachers to learn about a pilot program called “new math.” I planned the logistics for the trip and answered everyone’s questions beforehand. I was thrilled when my boss asked me if I also wanted to attend. At that point, I had never been west of anywhere. My family stuck to east coast vacations.

Portland was awesome. We were in the Mount Hood area, which was breathtaking. Unfortunately, I spent most of my time ensuring the food and the buses arrived on time, so I didn’t get to explore beyond my hotel. I realized on that trip if I wanted to be a tourist in the places where I was traveling, I’d have to go a day or two early or stay after the conference ended.

My next business trip was to San Diego. I arrived two days early and hopped on a double-decker tourist bus to see the sights myself. I remember feeling so grown up, and for the first ten years of my career, I traveled around the country to Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Toronto, Orlando, Las Vegas, and many more cities in between. When I came home, I gave my parents cool refrigerator magnets as a souvenir from my adventures. When I go home to visit them, they serve as colorful reminders of where I’ve been.

So where did you go for your first business trip? Let me know in the comments. 



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