Tag Archives: SOL community

What the SOL Challenge Means to Me

The Slice of Life Challenge is a very important part of who I am. Seven years ago, I took a risk and put myself (and my thoughts) out there for the world to see when I joined the SOL Challenge, and I’ve been excited ever since.

I had been following TwoWritingTeachers for about a year, and I loved reading all their posts about the art of teaching writing. I soaked in all the knowledge that they had to give. I shared posts with my friends and colleagues, tried out new ideas in my classroom, and spent hours poring through archived posts, jotting down ideas for later use. One March, I saw the SOL Challenge posts and wondered, What’s this all about? I read some of the slicers’ posts, and sometimes even commented, but thought, There’s no way I could do that! Who has time to write every day? And what would I even write about? Fast forward to the next February. I had convinced myself I would give it a try. I created a blog and once March came, I began sharing my stories. I didn’t post every day that first year, but I put myself out there, and I was proud of that.

I’ve now been posting for seven years, and I’m a huge fan! I tell everyone I know that they just have to try it out with me. Just dip your toes in. Start a blog, write some slices, see where it takes you. Most people look at me like I’m crazy. But a handful have taken me up on the offer, and I’ve sliced alongside friends and colleagues. We’ve learned more about one another, supported one another, and grown closer in the process. Some continue slicing the next year and some don’t, but all of them are glad they tried it.

What I love most about the challenge is that it pushes me as a writer. I cultivate a habit of writing each and every day, whether I have something profound to say or not, whether I feel like it or not. The quote is true. The only way to become a writer is to carve out time daily to write. I look forward to this challenge before it begins, and I mourn it when it’s over. I need that daily deadline to consistently put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I’ve also grown immensely as a writer through the years. Looking back on my old posts, I can see how my craft has evolved. I am more fluent, more engaging, and try out a variety of techniques now. I can always improve, as we all can, but I am proud of the progress I have made thus far. Over the years, I have also become more open and vulnerable in my writing, something I had always wanted to do. Prior to the challenge, I’d put up a mental block and I wasn’t fully open in my writing. Through the support of other slicers and their examples of laying it all out there, I have begun opening up and showing more of who I am.

I have also grown to love this writing community. This community embraces everyone, pulling us into the fold, and supporting us with their heartfelt comments. I know it’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again. Comments fuel writers. Knowing we have an audience who’s reading our words is important, but knowing we touched someone else enough to leave a comment is magical. Comments leave me with an understanding that what I say matters. Through the course of my time on the challenge, I have cultivated friendships with other slicers. Even though we’ve never been in the same room (or the same country in some cases), by reading one another’s thoughts, we share a bond. We learn to care about one another. It’s an unconventional friendship, I admit, but I cherish the relationships I have made with Elsie Stacey, Sandy, Karpenglish, Amanda, Leah, and Anne, among others.

One of the coolest things about this challenge is that I have a time capsule of one month of my life for the past seven years. Not many people can say that! Looking back at my slices is a window into my life. And for some reason, March tends to be an eventful month! I’ve had multiple injuries, many adventures, and lots of normal day-to-day stuff, too. I enjoy looking back and reminiscing on the person I was then, wondering whether I would have done the same thing as the me I am now.

As a traveler and an expat, I try to write blog posts about my life abroad, but I fall short and typically only post a few times a year, but the SOL challenge gives me ample opportunity to write not only about my travels (I’ve been on Spring Break every March except this year- my holiday is next week.), but about my life as an expat in another country. I have lots of random posts about China, Albania, and now Thailand. This challenge gives me the opportunity to treasure these moments, no matter how small. When I’m 70 years old, sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows with my niece and nephew and their kids, I’ll tell them about my adventures. And when my old, tired brain doesn’t remember all the details, I’ll have my slices to look back on to remind me.

This challenge is a gift, and I am forever grateful to TwoWritingTeachers for hosting it, and to the SOL writing community for continuing to support me year after year.

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Join Me!

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Have you wanted to stretch yourself as a writer? Do you want to cultivate a habit of living life with your eyes wide open? Do you want to foster a routine of writing daily, which will grow your writing muscles? Would you like to be part of a welcoming, supportive writing community? If so, then I have just the thing for you!

It’s nearly time for the Slice of Life blogging challenge to begin! I have been mentally planning for and anticipating this month for a while now, and I’d love for you to join me. This is the tenth annual Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) hosted by Two Writing Teachers, and it’s my seventh year to participate. My first year, I dipped my toes in, blogging a few times a week, but I’ve blogged everyday (or nearly everyday) since then. I’m gearing up for a full 31 days of blogging again this year!

What is the SOLSC all about?

  • Slice of Life stories are pieces of your ordinary life that you tell through a narrative, poem, photos, etc. For more information on a SOL story, click here.
  • On your own blog (an existing blog or you can create a new one- it’s easy!), you write a blog post daily.
  • Link your blog post permalink to the Two Writing Teacher’s daily call to slice as a comment.
  • Read at least 3 other blogger’s posts and comment on them.
  • There are prizes that you can win if you blog everyday for 31 days and comment on at least 3 other posts daily, but the real prize is in the experience.

Here’s what you can expect if you join me in the SOLSC:

  • A renewed passion for writing
  • To have a place and the space to try out new genres and play with different styles of writing
  • Meet new friends (even if it’s just on the interwebs)
  • Make connections with others
  • Cultivate a daily habit of writing (even when you think you won’t have time)
  • An appreciation for ordinary days
  • To find stories in seemingly meaningless interactions and experiences (this is where that “living with your eyes wide open” part comes in)
  • To be fueled by an audience (there’s something special about knowing others are reading your posts)
  • Your stamina and energy for writing to strengthen

Here are a few posts for you to learn more information about the challenge:
Tenth Annual SOLSC Information
First-time Slicers FAQs

This challenge has personally changed me and helped me become a better writer. I came across this post today that I wrote back in 2012, my second year in the challenge, where I reflected on my writing journey. I love this snapshot of where I was as a writer then. I’ve also “met” people who I now call my friends, even though we’ve never met in real life.

March has come to be a month that I cherish, savoring each day, seeking out that spark of inspiration for my daily “slice.” I want to share my passion for this project with you. I hope you join me this year! If you need help creating a blog, I can help! Just ask. And if you do join the challenge, let me know. I’d love to follow you and read your slices. Happy blogging!! 🙂

Special Visits in Seoul- SOL

Each time I visit a new country, I’m excited to explore my new surroundings and go on various adventures, but usually I venture out alone or with my travel companion. It’s rare to visit a new place and see some familiar faces. Last week, when I vacationed in Seoul for Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some very special people. Two of my former students, who I taught last year at RBIS in Shanghai, recently moved back to South Korea. They heard that I would be coming to Seoul, and emailed me right away with an invitation to see them while I was in town. The second special visit was someone I’d only met online, through the SOLSC this past month. Jee Young wrote a list slice with her bucket list of things she’d like to do before she leaves Korea, and I commented that I would be visiting Seoul soon. Through a series of comments and emails, we were able to connect and eventually meet in real life!

On Wednesday, I met up with Jong Hun and Ji-Won, my students, along with Jong Hun’s brother and mom. They were so excited to be skipping school to hang out with their old teacher! After taking the hour-long bus ride out to their hometown, they took us to a Korean Folk Village, which reminded me of Mount Vernon, only the Korean version. The village was full of old Korean homes and farms, complete with traditional Korean games and performances. I had a blast learning about such a unique culture! My favorite part was the dance/percussion performance. We stopped off at a Korean restaurant for Bi Bim Bop before heading off to Everland, a local amusement park. Everland reminded me of Six Flags Astroworld, an amusement park I used to go to as a young girl.

On Thursday, Jee Young invited us to go see The Hunger Games with her and a group of her friends. I couldn’t have been more excited! For one, I was able to meet Jee Young, and for two, I was able to see the movie on the big screen! I’m a HUGE Hunger Games fan, and since I live in China where we only get about 10 foreign films a year, I was disappointed that I would have to watch it on DVD at my house for the first time. A movie like that deserves to be seen on the big

screen! I absolutely loved the movie, and I can’t wait for the next one! I really enjoyed meeting Jee Young and her friends; they were all so welcoming and kind.

On Friday, our last full day in Seoul, Jee Young showed us around the Myeong Dong area, a winding maze of shopping and street food. If I lived in Seoul, I would develop a serious shopping addiction! As we walked from store to store, I was amazed by the variety of options available; a girl could really get used to this! Jee Young introduced us to Hotteok, a pancake filled with brown sugar and cinnamon (I think), and it was really good. After our shopping adventures, she took us to the elevator that would take us to the Seoul Tower, where we would later experience phenomenal views of the city at night.

Thanks Jee Young for your hospitality and generosity! If you’re ever in Shanghai, I’ll show you around! 🙂