Tag Archives: truths


As I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back to Jakarta after being away for the past week, I look around me, trying to find inspiration for my Sunday slice. There’s not much going on that sparks interest. On days like this, I turn to formats that help me put words on the screen. Today I feel a tug. I crave gratitude. TBAs are perfect for that.

Truths: Things I know to be true

  • I’ve been off track this week. Being away from home means my routines have been disrupted. I haven’t worked out as much as normal. I haven’t eaten nearly as well as I know I should, and it’s left me feeling sluggish and out of whack. I’m looking forward to lots more fruits and veggies!
  • I always pack too much. Always.
  • I am capable of more than I realize or give myself credit for.
  • Indian food is the most delicious food there is. I don’t feel one bit guilty for eating at the same restaurant two days in a row. Or having leftovers for brekkie today.
  • Sometimes I’m confident and put myself out there. Other times I doubt myself, am afraid, and shrink back, taking up as little space as possible. I wish I had more confidence all the time.

Beauties: Things I find beautiful

  • The pure joy that radiates from a child.
  • The vibrant green that exists in nature.
  • The diversity of people. I find it simply amazing that we are all different and no one in the world looks exactly the same. There is beauty in all of us.
  • Smiles that light up the room.
  • Children who dance like no one’s watching.

Appreciations: Things I appreciate and am grateful for

  • This SOL community. I feel like I’m back in my element with my old friends by my side, discovering new friends along the way.
  • Friends who keep me accountable to my goals by checking in and cheering me on.
  • Having a space to write and the commitment I’ve made to myself to write for a month straight.
  • My life. The fact that I get to live abroad and travel often makes me want to pinch myself sometimes. It’s not always easy and it’s not like being on holiday all the time, but I’m happy. And I’m proud of myself for going after my dreams.
  • The promise of a new book coupled with a hot cuppa tea.


TBAs #sol18

So today, I’m frustrated. I’ve let something someone said get to me. I’ve been stewing over their rude, unprofessional emails for over an hour. I want to let it go, but it’s one of those ‘straw that broke the camel’s back‘ kind of things. The constant negative complaints have piled up, and I’ve had enough. The fact that I’m in a lot of pain in my neck and shoulder because I pulled a muscle this weekend during the classroom makeover is only making me more irritable. But, rather than give this person any more power over me and my emotions, I’m going to write my TBAs.

TBA stands for Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations. It’s a reflective exercise I do when I’m in a funk and need to get some perspective. I learned it from a very wise friend, and it’s served me well in the past. Dwelling on the positives, rather than the negatives, does wonders in releasing the negative energy that’s currently built up. So without further adieu, here are my TBAs today.


  • I have amazing, supportive friends who love me.
  • I rarely drink soda, but today after work was a Dr. Pepper kinda day. And I don’t feel one bit guilty.
  • I finally booked my Spring Break flights and hotel yesterday, and am so looking forward to some down time in two weeks!
  • I’ve been really good about cutting back on watching TV the last couple weeks, but I vegged out yesterday due my shoulder screaming at me. It was good to get caught up on Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, and Scandal.
  • I work hard, but always feel like it isn’t enough. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately. It’s made me think about my productivity, whether I could use my time and energy more wisely, and whether I am being a little too hard on myself.


  • The plants all over my living room
  • Spencer’s infectious laugh
  • The smiles on the students’ faces today at dismissal
  • The vibrant greenery that surrounds me just outside my window
  • The red dragon fruit juice I drank today- nature is simply beautiful!


  • The huge bear hug and thank you I got from a Year 1 student this morning. She ran up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and said, “Thank you, Ms. Kesler for our new room! I love it!”
  • I appreciate Rohana so much. She keeps my house clean, makes sure I have healthy food in my fridge, and is the sweetest lady ever!
  • Today, I met the man who will potentially be my new boss next year, and he seems really great! I think he’ll be super supportive, and I’ll learn a lot from him. Hope he takes the job!
  • I took a luxurious bath last night in my huge bathtub for the first time since I’ve moved in, and it was so relaxing! I might take another one tonight. 😉
  • The Slice of Life Challenge- it’s truly a gift each year, and I don’t know what I’d do without it. Thank you TWT for hosting this challenge that has become so much of who I am.

I feel much better now, and I will be able to sleep without that gunk clogging up my mind. A good night’s sleep will do me some good and I’m sure I’ll wake up feeling even better tomorrow!

What do you know to be true, find beautiful, and appreciate?

Glad It Happened, But Sad It’s Over #sol16 31 of 31


It’s already March 31st?!? My last day of slicing in the SOL challenge for 2016 is here. Noooo! I don’t want it to be over. I have more stories to tell and more connections to make. Can’t we have more time? You know that quote by Dr. Seuss “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”? Well, I think it’s baloney! I can be both sad that it’s over and glad that it happened. And that’s okay.

Every year, my last slice ends up being a reflection of the month, a time for me to look back and take stock of all of the slices I’ve shared. Certain themes emerge year after year, revealing who I am and what I value. This year, more than one third of my slices were about traveling. As someone who lives to travel, this comes as no surprise to me, but what was interesting is that not all of my travel slices were from places I visited while participating in the challenge (every year, I travel during the SOL challenge since Spring Break falls in March). Some of my travel slices were sparked by a memory or a conversation, and were more reflective pieces, rather than ones written in the moment. Those stories have more depth. They’ve had time to marinate, adding more flavor to the story. My favorite slice this year has to be 18 Hours in Rome. That story waited nearly 3 years to be written, and it turned out perfectly. 🙂

Another theme that emerged was writing about work. It makes sense, considering I spend an inordinate amount of time there, and my life sort of revolves around it. My work slices were mainly about being stressed or overwhelmed, which is bound to happen in a school, but some were about my passion for literacy. I’m glad to see that those slices bubbled up to the top, begging to be written, as they truly show who I am and what I’m about.

Living abroad and my apartment, friends’ babies, and reflective pieces about my day, my interests, things I’m thankful for, and my last year rounded out the month. Again, this is me. I am passionate about living a life abroad, and enjoy making my house cozy and inviting. I am reflective, and often look back on my experiences in order to imprint them on my memory, learn from them, or savor them. And my friends honestly make the cutest babies around, so how could I not write about them? 😉

As I pack it in this year, my sixth year in the challenge, I am once again grateful for this space to connect with writers the world over, sharing bits of ourselves with one another. Being a part of this challenge makes me a better writer. Not only does it increase my energy and stamina for writing, but it gives me a purpose and an audience. I learn from other writers, and am encouraged to continue writing each and every day. This is a challenge that I look forward to year after year. I find that, despite everything on my plate, I make time for writing. Without this commitment to daily writing, I make excuses and other things weasel their way into my day, leaving me with no time to write. But in the month of March, I carve out time. No matter what’s going on, I put it aside to pour my heart out on the page, hoping to make sense of this crazy, wild ride we call life. I am honored to do this with all of you, my SOL community. I cannot thank the leaders at TWT enough for hosting this challenge each year. I know it’s hard work, but it’s good work. Thank you.

TBAs #sol16 25 of 31


Reflecting is a part of life. Taking stock of what you have, what you’ve done, and what you’ll do next time is essential to living. All too often, my reflections are focused on ways to improve upon something, to be more efficient, effective, productive, or thoughtful. But sometimes it’s just good to reflect on the good things in my life. Today, that’s what I intend to do through TBAs, which stand for Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations.


  • I have a magical, wonderful, little life!
  • My friends are some of the best friends a girl could ask for! Even when we are continents apart, we are always there to support one another and share in each others’ successes. I love them!
  • This year’s SOL challenge has been good for my soul. It’s gotten me out of my writing rut, and allowed me to reconnect with some of my old friends.
  • I’ve missed reading. Too many other things have taken my time lately, but I’ve gotten back into this week. I’ve been reading Nightingale, which I am loving.


  • Reina, Mel and T’s adorable baby girl, whose smile lights up a room and who can make me happy, even when I’m feeling sick and wiped out.
  • Shagger’s new baby Marlowe, who is just too cute for words! I cannot stand not being there to snuggle up with and love on her!
  • My passport, full of stamps from my travels around the world.
  • The bright, colorful, patterned fabric they have in Senegal. I’ve not seen anything like it before!


  • Sally, my colleague and friend, who is always offering to help me out when I’m stressed. Even when her plate is full, too, she is always willing to lend a hand. What would I do without her on my team?
  • The love and care Mel, T, Sally, and Agnes have given me this week when I haven’t been well. It’s certainly not what I expected- to be sick while in Senegal- but I appreciate all the care I’ve received.
  • My FaceTime chat with Linner this morning. Oh how I have missed her! 🙂
  • The fact that I felt well enough to venture out today! Mel and I got to check out the local market. Now that was an experience! It’ll be tomorrow’s slice for sure! 😉

What do you know to be true, beautiful, or appreciate?

TBAs- SOL #4


Today was tough. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was hurt. But despite the fact that I’m going through a hard time, I’m going to give gratitude. I going to intentionally look for things that I know to be true, that are beautiful, and that I appreciate.


  • I am loved. My friends and family have poured so much love on me through numerous messages, emails, comments, and hugs these past few weeks and days. Everyone of your words and gestures has touched me deeply. Thank you!
  • I am in pain, but there will be a day when the pain will stop. Everyday I take a step toward the end. Everyday I hope that today will be the day.
  • I may not be able to make a difference, but I can stand up for what I believe in. I can use my voice. I hope this is enough.
  • I’m still standing.
  • I live a truly remarkable life. I get to travel the world, meet new people from diverse cultures, try new foods, indulge in luxuries, and work with kids. For that, I am truly thankful!


  • The sight of my e-bike today. My e-bike that I left at Bubba’s (a restaurant) on Thanksgiving was right where I left it today. I know, with my track record with stolen bikes, I’m not too smart to leave it for 3 months, but it was COLD! Just glad it was still there!
  • Green plants
  • My clean apartment (that I didn’t have to clean)
  • The song “Mean to Me”…I want love like this!
  • Shanghai at night…love the lights!


  • I appreciate my team. My team has stuck together through this trying time, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.
  • I appreciate chai tea lattes. They make me smile.
  • I appreciate Pizza Express, unlimited sweet tea, and good conversation today at lunch. Just what I needed!
  • I appreciate the Two Writing Teachers SOL community of writers…you guys have uplifted me so much these past few days! Reading your comments not only fuels me as a writer, but shows me that I’m not alone. You mean more to me than you know.
  • I appreciate Sherpa’s…on days when I don’t feel like cooking, I love that I can get food delivery at my door in less than an hour. Tonight was Thai yellow vegetable curry…yummy!

What are your TBAs?


Time for TBA’s again! TBA stands for Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations.


  • I have the best friend in the world! She cares about me so much, and she is the best accountability partner ever! What would I do without my Shags?!?
  • I might not say it enough, but I’m so blessed.
  • I can’t dance, but I do it anyway. 😉
  • I need more goat cheese in my life.


  • Despite staying at work until 9PM, I went for a run tonight. And I hate running.
  • XiTong, the cutest 4 year old around…her spunky spirit is contagious! Love her hugs!
  • Shanghai in the springtime. My allergies go crazy, but I love all the newness blossoming around me!
  • My momma. She’s pretty much the best lady around. She works so hard everyday, and I’m so happy for her that she’s on a vacation in England right now. She deserves it! 🙂


  • I appreciate music that keeps me going…my new fave “Sleeping at Last” for work jams and old school 90’s to motivate me to move my booty!
  • My colleagues- they work like crazy to provide the best education to our kiddoes. I’m lucky to have so many great teachers on my team!
  • Technology- it helps me everyday. 🙂
  • That I come home to a clean house 3 times a week…and I don’t have to do it! I told you I’m blessed. 🙂



Join the Slice of Life Writing Community at Two Writing Teachers! You’ll be glad you did! 🙂


TBAs- SOL #2

SOLS button 2013

Reflection is a way to take a step back and look at life from another perspective. When I reflect, all too often it’s to think about how I would have done things differently- behaved in a different way, said something else, been better prepared, etc. While my reflections tend to focus on improvements that can be made for next time, I recognize the importance of reflecting on the good stuff, too. Looking at the world around us, noticing the little things, appreciating what we have, and being thankful are paramount to living a happy life. So in honor of happy reflections, here are my TBAs for today. TBA stands for Truth, Beauty, and Appreciation.

1. I am loved.
2. I look forward to each day, and savor it to the fullest.
3. I am so excited about the SOL challenge! I’ve been lax in my writing lately, and I love this push to dive right back into it.
4. I am passionate about learning, teaching, and literacy, and I love to pass that passion onto others.
5. I could drink my weight in sweet tea.
6. I am leaving for Cairo, Egypt one month from today, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

1. The two elderly Chinese women I passed on my walk today who were laughing and talking outside of their apartment complex.
2. The flower market on a Saturday afternoon…and my beautiful purple and white spotted orchid I bought to brighten up my apartment.
3. Smiles from strangers
4. Children playing and the joy they exude
5. The promise of a new adventure
6. Thank you notes from children
7. My niece, Randi, who is the cutest 9 month old around!

1. Late night chats
2. An impromptu brunch with my friend Heidi, who is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She makes me giggle every time we’re around one another.
3. This crazy, busy, surprising, and lovely city I live in
4. The sunshine, which after the rain, is so much sweeter
5. Filling my writer’s notebook with ideas, poems, writing, lists
6. Good friends and good food
7. Manicures
8. That my sister-in-law is now cancer-free!
9. The life I have. Looking back, I didn’t know I could be this happy.
10. Butterflies in my stomach
11. My staff and their support last week during Literacy Week 🙂
12. Shopping…too much sometimes!
13. My friends, both near and far
14. Having a job where I can dress up as various book characters, read aloud books, and excite children about literacy!

4-up on 2013-02-27 at 08.41 #5
Me dressed up as Fancy Nancy last week during Literacy Week