Tag Archives: truths


I love writing TBAs, especially when I can’t decide on one idea. For those of you who don’t know, TBAs stand for Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations. It’s such a reflective and grounding exercise, and I highly recommend it.


  • Even though this week wasn’t particularly hard or stressful, I’m sure glad it’s Friday. The promise of a weekend is good for my soul.
  • When I realized today that there are only 13 more Fridays left in this school year, I panicked slightly at the mountain of work I have left to do in such a short amount of time. I better kick it into high gear!
  • I’m going to turn 40 in 2 and a half months, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that. Should I be worried? Does this mean I’m old? I don’t feel that old.
  • I’ve been missing home lately. Perhaps it’s the fact that I didn’t get to go home for Christmas. It could be that with the uncertainty of travel this summer, I’m worried I won’t be able to go, which would mean more than a year without seeing them. Or it could be the heartbreaking conversation I had with my niece this week, who asked me if I was coming home this summer, and when I told her I wasn’t sure if I could, she said, “But then you won’t get to see Blayke (my new niece who’s due in May) when she’s little. We miss you.” 😦
  • I don’t know how people with kids manage it all. I struggle to get all my work done plus daily chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.) and have time to rest and do what I want. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I had to take care of someone else, too.


  • My friend’s dog Lori is so cute, and is such a lovely dog. I got to go on a walk with her and Jalyn after work today, which was lots of fun.
  • The students on the playground this morning in their colorful Clan t-shirts, playing in the sunshine, were such a beautiful sight.
  • My collection of plants by the window, noticeably growing taller, make me happy.
  • Smiles and hugs from students brighten my day!
  • I love the colorful decor in my home…it’s beautiful, reminds me of my travels, and makes me happy!


  • Glorious weather like we had today. The sun was shining, yet it was still a little cool out, and it felt like spring is almost here!
  • Coming home to a clean house on a Friday evening is the best feeling. I appreciate my cleaner and the work that she does for me.
  • I’ve been loving the book I’ve been reading this week, Firefly Lane. I have 4 more chapters to read, so I’m thankful it’s the weekend, which gives me time to finish it!
  • Impromptu Facetime calls from my family. The call from Logan and Randi yesterday was such a fun surprise!
  • My friend Jalyn, one of the most generous people I know, treated me to dinner tonight (she’s sneaky and paid the bill before I could argue) at one of my favorite places on the island, Casa di Noa. The food was delicious and the conversation was engaging.


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


I’m feeling thankful today, so I thought it was time for some more TBA’s. In case you don’t know, TBA stands for “Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations,” and it’s a reflective exercise to see the truth, beauty, and appreciation in life! The exercise is to write 5 Truths- Things you KNOW to be good and true; 5 Beauties- When you take time to notice the beauty in life- physical, nature, emotional; and 5 Appreciations- Things you appreciate. Here are mine for today…

1. I hosted a Thanksgiving-ish lunch today at my house…in March. 😉
2. I have written more in the past 18 days than I have in the previous 50.
3. I can’t wait to meet all the new babies this summer (my friends, cousin, & brother will all have a new baby by June)!
4. I have had one of the best weekends in a long while.
5. I leave for Korea in less than 2 weeks! And I have yet to plan anything. Oops!

1. My kitchen full of clean dishes, even after hosting lunch today! 😉
2. My new notebook just waiting to be filled with my thoughts and musings about the world around me…
3. My mom!
4. Shaggers and Linner, some of the best friends a girl could ask for!
5.My nightstand with Reading With Meaning and highlighters calling my name when I finish with my SOL

1. I appreciate laughter!
2. I appreciate game nights. Tonight was Quiddler! 🙂
3. I appreciate my friends indulging me when I wanted to play MASH tonight…so much fun! Apparently, I’ll work as a blind masseuse in a dirty cave, drive a time machine, and have a pet kangaroo! haha 🙂
4. I appreciate book clubs and the excitement that they bring.
5.I appreciate the Internet, as it allows me to keep in contact with 
those far away!
6.I appreciate how Andrew and Dee pick on me…it reminds me of my dad and brother 🙂
7.I appreciate Kayla and our very meaningful conversations!
8.I appreciate tea, especially peach flavored!
9.I appreciate the “Avocado Lady” since she has everything I want and it’s sooooo much cheaper than the import stores!!
10.I appreciate baths!
11.I appreciate all the slicers out there who pour their heart out everyday, both in their slices and in their comments!
12.I appreciate Stacey and Ruth for hosting this wonderful challenge!!
13.I appreciate when packages arrive!
14.I appreciate music!
15.I appreciate that I am in good health, and I pray for those who are sick or hurting!

What will you find Truth and Beauty in today? What do you Appreciate today? 


What is TBA, you ask? TBA stands for Truths, Beauties, and Appreciations, and it’s a reflective exercise to see the truth, beauty, and appreciation in life! The exercise is to write 5 Truths- Things you KNOW to be good and true; 5 Beauties- Take time to notice the beauty in life- physical, nature, emotional; and 5 Appreciations- Things you appreciate. Here are mine for today…

1. I am a reader and a writer.
2. I have more than doubled my number of slices already as compared to the March 2011 SOL Challenge.
3. I am a vegetarian.
4. My friends mean the world to me.
5. I am a traveler.

1. The sun is SHINING today!!! This is the second time in a month, so it’s a big deal.
2. My Starbucks mug filled with peach tea sitting next to me as I write
3. Smiling and being content with the world around me
4. Checking off things on my to-do list
5.My cooking class kiddos with their endless enthusiasm 😉
7.That this is my 10th slice!!

1. I appreciate Skype conversations with old friends. I’m a lucky girl- I had 2 this morning! 😉
2. I appreciate 30 minute (or more) taxi rides to tutoring because I get an hour of time to read or play Scramble with Friends.
3. I appreciate listening ears.
4. I appreciate the joy of reading a new book and loving every minute of it! (If you haven’t read Wonder yet by R.J. Palacio, you really should put it in your stack!)
5.I appreciate my iPad because I always have a book with me waiting to be read!
6.I appreciate being able to finally purchase my flight to Seoul!
7.I appreciate the many opportunities I get to travel!
8.I appreciate soulful conversations!
9.I appreciate my writer’s notebook!
10.I appreciate getting to do whatever I want this weekend!
11.I appreciate the SOL writing community and the encouraging comments they leave!!
12.I appreciate being able to engage (digitally) with so many like-minded people
13.I appreciate my home in Shanghai as well as my one in Texas.
14.I appreciate massages!
15.I appreciate Starbucks!