Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, November 21

It's Monday. It's cold and cloudy. It's supposed to rain tonight - possibly enough to flood some areas. Sometimes it's good to just go with it. Here is your writing prompt for today:

Write about your gloomiest day.

Happy Monday? Yes, Happy Monday.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Imagine This: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, Nov. 7

Today, a visual writing prompt. Fun!

Imagine you are on a cross-country trip to visit a friend.
Your car breaks down here. 
Write a short story about what happens next.

Happy Monday!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo! Monday Morning Writing Prompt, October 31

How convenient that today is a holiday of sorts for children (and adults who are kids at heart). Our memories of childhood often center around the excitement and anticipation of a holiday. And what better kid holiday is there than one that requires costuming and consuming sugar? So, here is your writing prompt for today:

Write about your favorite childhood memory of Halloween. Favorite costume. Favorite candy. Favorite scary moment. 

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Goodbyes: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, October 25

Keep in mind, we call it the Monday Morning Writing Prompt whenever it's posted. So it's Tuesday. I spent a long weekend in Phoenix reuniting with old friends that I haven't seen in almost 15 years. It was wonderful, but at the end of my time with them I had to do the same thing I did 15 years ago. I had to tell them goodbye. I don't like telling friends and family goodbye. Never have. Then again, there are some goodbyes that I do like. I like saying goodbye to summer, the flu, long-winded get the idea. So here is your writing prompt for today: Write about saying goodbye to someone you loved, or to something you didn't love. Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Five Words and a Screen: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, October 10

I've only recently begun to appreciate this kind of writing prompt. It forces me to move a little out of my writing "comfort zone," which is always a good thing. If you are especially proud of what you produce as a result of this writing prompt, then we will be too. So send it our way. Recently, one of our readers sent in her writing prompt and it is going to be published in the next issue of Mia. You never know... So here is your prompt for today: Write a 300-400 word short story in which you use the words: terminal, peso, anthropologist, polyester, exhaust, slipper. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Reader Loved This Book: Wednesday Good Read Recommendation

This is the week for posting from our readers, which I love. After a while, I tire of hearing my own voice and we always love to hear YOUR voice. Nancy Simpson recommends Same Kind of Different As Me. Her book club read it and loved it. Her comments: "True story. Wonderful characters. So many details for discussion. Makes you really think." That's a great book review - succinct but enticing! Per her recommendation, I've already acquired the book and it's on my "to read" stack. Thanks Nancy. Okay, we would love more book recommendations from you. To get you motivated, here's a prompt: send us your favorite summer read. Surely you've finished it by now, right?, or post a comment here. Happy Reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

From a Reader: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, September 12

I'm posting a wonderful writing prompt that a reader sent a few weeks ago. She loves yoga and says that it sparks her creativity, so she wanted to put this out for our bloggers/writers: Write about an activity or sport you do that takes your thoughts to new creative levels. Although hers was yoga, she said she also gets some of her best ideas in the shower! I can relate to that one. My mother used to solve the world's problems when she was ironing. What's the activity that sparks your creativity? Write about it and then send it our way: For our subscribers, you should be getting your copy of the Fall issue in the mail this week! The issue will hit the stands next week. (Hint, hint: if you subscribe, you get your copy first.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day Jitters: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, August 22

She couldn't get out the door fast enough this morning. With a bookbag, an umbrella, and her new school uniform (first year for these and I'm doing a fist pump!), she looked every bit like the confident fifth grader who is ready to start a new school year. Every year is not this way. With each of my three children there have been those years when angst ruled on the first day. They worried about new teachers, math class, the pimple that emerged the morning of, friends who might be - or not be - in class with them. But this morning, my youngest bounded out of the house not worried about anything but getting there early enough to socialize before the bell sounded. It was nice. But next year is sixth grade and there is a good chance that it could be a hand-wringing first day of school. So I'm reveling in the ease of this year's first day.

As you continue to write YOUR story, here is a writing prompt to take you back a few years:

What was your most unusual or memorable first day of school? Write about it and describe your feelings, worries, excitement, and of course, what you wore (even if it was a uniform!).

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baby It's Cold in Here! Monday Morning Writing Prompt, August 16

I'm a stickler for sticking with titles. So even though it's Tuesday, this is still the Monday Morning Writing Prompt. I've been taking my daughter to a variety of doctor appointments before she goes back to college: dermatologist, eye doctor, foot doctor, and now the migraine doctor complete with a flurry of testing. She had an EEG this morning, and I sat with her while all the wires were attached to her head and the lights were blinking at her closed eyelids. For some reason, the room where she had the test was frigid. Why are doctor's offices always this way? Is it germ control? To keep waiting patients awake? To remind us that there is a reason we hate being here?

I'm cold-natured, so I always carry a sweater in the summer for the purpose of fending off the blasts of air-conditioning that most businesses and offices love. But I forgot my sweater this morning, and so I sat and looked at the bumps on my arm and tried to remember the coldest place I've ever been. It was Chicago. I'm telling the story in my writing prompt journal as I ponder today's writing prompt:

Where is the coldest place you have ever been, and what were you doing there? How did it feel? How did YOU feel?
If you love the cold, you'll write it one way; if you hate it you'll write it another way. Either way, I'd love to read about your coldest experience. Send it to

Stay warm!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Music and Memory: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, August 8

I just returned from our annual family vacation in Colordao last Friday evening. We've been going to various places in Colorodo for about 43 years (since I was about three years old) , and every year I am reminded that memories creep up at the most unusual times. I heard this song on the radio while I was there, and I was instantly transported back across at least three decades to the backseat of our old green Plymouth. I was about seven years old and trying to teach this song to my grandfather. He had only heard it a few times, but it was one of my favorites and I was determined that we would sing it together. It was not to be. He could never get the tune to the chorus right and it drove me mad. I kept asking him to repeat the tune after me, but he had it all wrong every time. "Why don't you sing and I'll listen," he finally said, probably weary of my efforts to teach him a song he didn't really want to learn. He got what he asked for. Many miles down a Colorado highway, Papa listened to me sing this same song over, and over, and over. He must have been a patient man. Or perhaps he was already losing his hearing.

Here is your writing prompt for today:

What song instantly takes you back to a vivid moment in time, or a poignant memory. Write about it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Your Turn: Wednesday's Good Read Recommendation

It's time for our YOU, Mia reader, to weigh in:
What is a book you would recommend without hesitation? Can you tell us about it? You don't need to write a book review, just give us the name of the book, the author, and what you loved about it. You can even give us the blurb from the dust jacket! We want your Wednesday Good Read Recommendations and we need your voice. Send your recommendation to We want to start posting our readers' favorite books each Wednesday. So...are you in?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Collecting: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, August 1

Last week, a friend sent me the link to a wonderful blog belonging to a photographer. Among her many photos are a set of images reflecting her love of collections. It made me stop and think about what I collect. Everyone really should have a collection of something. It's fun, and it is a way to tell a story about what is meaningful to you. I've never been a big collector, but in looking at this blog I realized that collections don't have to fall into the category of figurines, stamps, coins, antique dolls. I'm not going to go any further with that, because the writing prompt for today will get you thinking creatively about what you collect. Don't limit it to stuff. Here you go:

What do you collect? Write about the things that you have more than two or three of, why you have them, and what they mean to you (think out of the box here: maybe you are a collector and you don't even realize it!)

This one might take some time for you to think about it, but after you have written about your collection, we would love to hear about it. We're compiling reader responses on this one for a future Mia issue!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Heavy Read: Wednesday's Good Read Recommendation is "Pillars of the Earth"

What am I reading on vacation? The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett. It’s just under 1,000 pages, so I’ve been trying to wade through this one for about six months. I never could get past the first three chapters because it was just so intimidating. But once I got to Chapter Four, I was hooked. Do I care about the building of cathedrals in medieval England? No, not really. Am I a sucker for love stories? Actually, I’m not. So what is it about this heavy book that keeps me reading? Follett is a great writer, and so he makes me care about the building of cathedrals in medieval England and about the star-crossed lovers. We have nine days left and I’m on page 709. Will I finish? Yes I will. However, before heading back home, I may donate my softback copy to the local library here in Pagosa Springs so I don’t have to haul it back home. So that’s our Wednesday Good Read Recommendation this week. Pick it up...if you can carry it!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Chance Encounters: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, July 25

In one of our early issues of Mia, contributing editor Sheilah Bright wrote about several people with whom she had a chance encounter, and how those moments affected her then, and now. You can read her story, "The Power of Strangers," on page 16 of our Fall 2009 issue here.

Here is your writing prompt for today:
Remember a time when a brief, chance encounter with someone made a difference in your life.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

100 Good Wishes Quilt: Storytelling Tip #3

I posted this to One Good Story the other day, and then realized that this would make a great storytelling tip. Who would have thought a quilt could tell a story? So head on over to my blog to read about my daughter's 100 Good Wishes Quilt!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cutting for Stone: Wednesday’s Good Read Recommendation

The video trailer for this novel calls it “an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.” I loved it. It’s the story of twin boys born to an Indian nun in Ethiopia. That should get you curious. The novelist, Abraham Verghese, is a physician who teaches at the Stanford University School of Medicine, but he is also a gentle and masterful storyteller. I agree with the reviewer who said that it is actually possible to live within it for the brief time one spends with this book. He adds, “You may never leave the chair.” I did stay up very late one night to finish it and I was not disappointed. This is a perfect novel for summer. It’s our Good Read Recommendation for today.

We would love to have your Good Read Recommendations to post! Email with a paragraph about a great book you would recommend. If you need some ideas for great books to read, check out the New York Journal of Books website.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Place to Write: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, July 18

The Monday Morning Writing Prompt is back after a long hiatus. I have no good excuse except life got far too busy and writing got pushed into “I’ll do that later” column. I keep thinking of good and worthy things to write, but then find twenty things that need to be done first before I can sit down and not feel guilty. And then, I’m reminded that I should never feel guilty for taking the time to write. After all, it’s writing that makes me feel complete and at peace. After I have collected my thoughts, reflected on a moment or experience, and then crafted it into sentences and paragraphs, I can take a deep breath and feel like my life is in order. I have no idea why it works this way for me, but it does. If I don’t write, life just feels jumbled, cluttered…messy. So together, let’s commit to not feel guilty when we take time for ourselves to sit down and write.

With that in mind, here is your writing prompt for today:

If you could write anywhere in the world, what setting would you choose and why? Would it be a beach cottage with a rustic desk and a view of the ocean; a cabin deep in the woods with no desk – only a pad of paper, a pen and a rocking chair; or somewhere exotic, mysterious, lonely? Describe your perfect writing location in detail and write about how it makes you feel when you walk into it and sit down to work.

Now, look the real-life location where you write and think of one thing you can place in it to remind you of your dream setting (I have a framed photo of a river in Colorado to represent my dream of a solitary cabin where I can hear the water and smell the pine trees).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Your Life as a Great Story: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, May 16

Yesterday I had a discussion with some friends about "writing your life story." Sometimes this is a literal process and we sit down with pen and paper or at the keyboard and we begin to write. For some, however, they write this story in their head and save it up for that "someday" when they will have time to sit down and do the actual writing. Not everyone wants to write their life story, or even a snippet of it. But there are those of us who feel a need to get it all down even if no one else reads it.

Let's imagine for a moment that you want to write your life story, or a portion of it, and you want others to read it. Since we publish a magazine of storytelling, of course we would want you to imagine this scenario, right? Every great story needs to have a great first line. So here is your writing prompt for today:

Pretend that you are sitting down to begin your autobiography, memoir, or novel loosely based on your own life. Write a first line that will "hook" the reader into not wanting to put down the book.

Happy Monday!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Your Moment in History: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, May 9

School is almost out! My two oldest children had college finals that began today. My son wrote 13 pages for his final in Western Civilization. Ugh. In honor of his heroic effort, here is your writing prompt for today:

What is the period of history that you identify with the most? The flappers of the 1920s? The royal family during the War of the Roses? Choose one and write a day in the life for yourself during that time.

Happy Writing and Happy Monday!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rediscovering Roller Skates: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, May 2

My youngest daughter discovered roller skates this weekend after a birthday party at the skating rink on Saturday night. Watching the car hops at Sonic drive-in was her only experience with roller skates and so she was understandably nervous. "What if I'm the only one who can't skate?" she asked, which of course made me feel like a slacker mom - one who should have bought her a pair of cute pink or purple skates long before she was ten years old. As expected, she fell in love with skating during the party, so on Sunday she begged for a pair of skates and the guilty mom gave in. The fact that it was raining and cold didn't bother her a bit. She skated around the garage, which reminded me of the hours I spent in my childhood garage skating in circles and singing John Denver songs (yes, John Denver songs).

It amazes me how easy it is to forget the things we loved as children. I owned at least three pairs of roller skates as I grew out of one pair and had to replace them. I spent hours skating in the garage, with friends up and down the driveway and through our small town neighborhood, and of course, at the rink. How could that escape my memory? So now that I have rediscovered skating through my daughter, we've planned a trip to the rink to skate together.

Here is your writing prompt for today:

Go back in time and remember something you loved doing as a child. Describe it in detail and how it made you feel.

Here's an additional challenge: Chances are good that if you enjoyed that activity as a child, you would still enjoy it as an adult. Plan an afternoon to rediscover it and then write about it.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What To Get the Graduate Who Has Everything: Tuesday's Good Read Recommendation: A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Spoiler alert: If you're graduating from college this year and you sent me an announcement, you will receive this book from me. It's a quick read. It takes me about one evening to read it, which is about every six months. This book is literally ON my shelf as a display because I love the cover, the title, the author, and of course, the content. So here is my pitch for the book, an excerpt straight from the dust jacket:

Life is made of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came of us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves how to live, really love the journey, not the destination.

So, here is the most prominent book on my personal bookshelf. And there you have your Tuesday Good Read Recommendation.

And by the way, Happy Graduation to our intern Nicole Pride. She's been a huge help to us this semester, and I hope we've been the same for her. No surprises on the gift though.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Moody Weather: Monday Morning Writing Prompt, April 25

It's been raining for two days here in Tulsa, and the week I was in New York City it rained four of the six days we were there. I don't mind rain, but I'm missing the sunshine. There are other ways to get Vitamin D, but that's my favorite.

Here is your writing prompt for today:

Write about a time when you were caught in a storm - either figuratively, or literally.

If you've missed some writing prompts, you can access all the back writing prompt posts on the right column under Blog Feature.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Write It Short and Sweet: Storytelling Tip #2

Thursday seems like a good day for Storytelling Tips. I posted the first one two weeks ago, so here is Tip #2.

Confession: I read blogs every morning. It's a kind of happy wake-up routine for me (and coffee, of course). When I read this from Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project blog, I let out a deep breath of relief:

"The idea of keeping a proper journal was far too daunting, so I decided instead to keep a “one-sentence journal.”

Release! I am also a hit-and-miss-stop-and-start-love-it-and-hate-it kind of journaler. If I sit down at night, in the morning, or during the day to journal, I feel a need to write more than one or two sentences. After all, will I really want to go back and read a collection of one-sentence entries? Actually, when you are forced to hone your writing down to one sentence (or two, or three since cheating IS allowed), your writing can often become more focused, clear, and yes, creative. Facebook status posts are an interesting study in one-sentence journaling. The best "posters" are those who can say it quickly, but they say something that is worth remembering: funny, provocative, enlightening, but it doesn't keep me reading for TOO long. The rambling posts drive me mad. So in a one-sentence journal, I am able to hone my storytelling skills by force. I better think carefully about that sentence, because it's my story for the day. I have just begun my own one-sentence journal. I didn't go out and buy a fancy Moleskin notebook, however. That's too much pressure. I have a free app on my IPad called My Writing Spot where I dash off my one (or two, or three) sentences after dinner or right before bed. Of course, a notebook journal works fine too; just don't make an investment that doesn't seem worthy of only one sentence per page! If you need more inspiration for this, check out Gretchen's post about her journal.

If you want to slash that sentence even more, Smith Magazine is the home of the six-word memoir. Now there's a challenge! This website is also a bit addictive, and I've been known to spend way too long reading the six-word stories of other memoir writers. So lose the intimidation and try writing your story short and sweet!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The "miserable Irish Catholic childhood" is the subject of Tuesday's Good Read Recommendation: Angela's Ashes

Today's book recommendation is one of my favorite books and one that is worthy of reading over and over again (three times for me). From the dustjacket:

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland, Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy - exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling - does nurture Frank in the one thing he can provide: a story.

This is an oldie, but a great memoir worth reading if you haven't already.

Tuesday's Good Read Recommendation!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, April 18

April is a bittersweet month for me. I love spring and the warmth and new life that it brings. But there is also a cold reality to the month: my mother died in April and the anniversary of her death is a hard day to wade through. I've learned that it's easier to just go with it than to fight it, so I allow myself to cry and talk to her and remember all the things about her that I miss. It's a cleansing day and I don't dread it as much as I used to, but it brings a little cloudiness to the middle of this beautiful month. We all have people that we miss, so here is your writing prompt for this Monday in April:

Write about someone that you miss.

Use this writing prompt as a cleansing exercise and an opportunity to relive some good memories. If this writing prompt seems like a downer, here is a happy place to visit after you finish your writing: SouleMama. Fair warning: Addictive!

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Power of a Few Queens: Want a Good Read? It's Tuesday and it's on our Bookshelf!

Today, we're recommending The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town that Raised Them. I read this book in two days. It gets our highest recommendation from the Mia bookshelf!

From Publisher's Weekly review:

"I didn't become an advice columnist on purpose..." writes Dickinson (author of the syndicated column Ask Amy) in her chapter titled "Failing Up." In the summer of 2002, after spending months living off of her credit cards between freelance writing jobs, Dickinson sent in an audition column to the Chicago Tribune and became the paper's replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mother's family whose members make up the Mighty Queens of Freeville, N.Y., the small town where Dickinson was raised, and where she raised her own daughter between stints in London; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Dickinson writes with an honesty that is at once folksy and intelligent, and brings to life all of the struggles of raising a child (Dickinson was a single mother) and the challenges and rewards of having a supportive extended family. "I'm surrounded by people who are not impressed with me", Dickinson humorously laments. "They don't care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers." Dickinsons irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, April 11

It's Monday morning and I'm in New York City. It's a world away from my quiet, sleepy hometown in the middle of the U.S., but I've always loved being out of my element. I'm a gawker and even worse than that, I'm a gawker with a camera. Seeing the city through the lens of a camera is wonderful, but even better is seeing it through the eyes of my 10 year-old daughter. She was fascinated by the "bubble guy" and I was encouraged to know that you can set up shop in Central Park with two rods and a rope, some soapy water, and a basket for loose change. The basket was full of dollar bills, so he's doing well for himself. I love entrepreneurs. And I love NYC! So here is your writing prompt for today:

Write about a city that has ignited your imagination. When? How? Why?

Send your responses to us at, or you can comment here. We love to read your writing, however it comes to us!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Putting On Big Girl Pants

My mother used this line quite a bit: "Put your big girl pants on and get back out there." I hated that phrase. But, of course, I say it quite a bit now that I am a big girl. This movie is all about "getting over it", moving on with life and embracing our passions despite the difficulties and challenges. Easy to say, not so easy to do. That's why when we see someone doing it, we write about it, make movies about it, sing about it. Those who have the courage to put their big girl pants on (and get back on the surfboard) are our favorite storytelling subjects. This girl is definitely one of them and the story has been told beautifully in this movie. No weekend plans? Now you have one!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Want to Tell a Great Story Using Home Decor? Here's a Tip!

I love these frames from Pottery Barn. They come in sections and each holds three 8x10 photos, which can be hung horizontally or vertically. You can switch out the photos from the front, which makes it a breeze to change them around as often as you like. (I have my photos developed at Sam's, and 12 photos are under $20.) I bought four sections and hung them flush against one another. I must confess that I stole this idea from my cousin, but I have lived long enough to know that all great ideas are only variations of someone else's great idea. This one is not even a variation. I saw it on her wall and ordered them for my wall. There you go. A truly "hot" idea.

I have photos of my daughter's trip to India in the frames and when people come over she can tell the stories (notice the Hindu temple, the baby, the girl with the goat...all great stories!) Since our family travels regularly, most of what is displayed in our frames are travel photos, but you could put anything in the frames that helps tell your story: old family photos (wedding pictures during your anniversary month, baby photos during birthday month), special family gatherings, the big soccer game, the ballet recital, holiday photos, or just random shots from a ho-hum week. Stories are everywhere! Old photos can be scanned and enlarged. If they're grainy, it just adds to the "yesteryear feel."

These frames aren't cheap. I waited for nine months until they went on sale. If you want a cheaper version, you could always go pick up inexpensive 8x10 frames and arrange them however you like. The tricky part is changing out the photos, so you'll want to hang them in a way that makes it easy to take them off the wall when it's time to switch out photos. I've also seen frames displayed on long ledges, which makes it easier to change out the photos without taking the frames off the wall. However you do it, I think photo storytelling is a great way to add interesting decor to your house AND start the storytelling conversation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hairstyling in Afghanistan: Want a Good Read? It's Tuesday and It's On Our Bookshelf!

Tuesdays are nondescript, without the distinction of "first day of the week" or "hump day" or "TGIF". Even Thursday is distinct because it's the day before Friday! But Tuesday? Sigh. So we want to give you something to look forward to. We're beginning a new Tuesday post. Every week, we'll recommend a good book. If we read a good book, it's tends to stay on our bookshelves. So we're going to share those much-loved books with you. You can write on Monday and find a good book on Tuesday. That should get your week off to a good start, right?

Today, we're recommending Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil.

From the dustjacket:
Soon after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills - as doctors, nurses, and therapists - seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she soon found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out by Westerners desperate for a good haircut and by Afgahn women, who have a long and proud tradition of running their own beauty salons. Thus an idea was born.

There you go. It's your Good Read Tuesday recommendation. It's on our Bookshelf, read and loved.
Let us know what's on YOUR bookshelf!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, April 4

When I think back on all the places I've lived, one stands out: our Phoenix, Ariz. rental house with 11 grapefruit trees in the backyard. It was a former fruit orchard and the yard always smelled like rotting fruit. Good memories! I don't think I've touched a grapefruit since we lived in that house.

So, here's your writing prompt for today:

What is the most unusual dwelling you've lived in? Write about it.

You can post your writing here in the comments, or email me at

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lindsey House Needs YOU!

Yesterday, The Leslie Group/Mia Magazine (Jan, Juli, Lina and Lisa) met with Karen Streeter, the director of Transitional Living Centers of Oklahoma at their first facility, The Lindsey House, opened a little over a year ago. If you read the first post about Lindsey House, you can see that this concept gives homeless women a way to move forward, not just for a few weeks or months, but for a lifetime. The women are held accountable for obtaining a high school diploma (if they haven't), finding a job, learning to budget money, opening a savings account, and developing the skills that go along with making a good life for themselves and their children. We were immediately drawn to this concept because we believe in giving women the message that they are capable and strong, regardless of their own mistakes, bad decisions, or unfortunate circumstances that have caused them to be homeless.

We decided to put words into action, and so we have adopted an apartment unit at The Lindsey House. The unit only needs a fresh coat of paint in one room, so there are no major renovations that we have to do. Instead, we get the pleasure of decorating and supplying the family with sheets, towels, kitchen items, and all the stuff that goes along with maintaining a home (think ironing board, shower curtain, cleaning supplies, clock radio...the list goes on). We get the even bigger pleasure of welcoming the family to their new apartment with a few casseroles in the freezer, staples for the pantry, fresh flowers on move-in day! And we will begin a relationship with the family to encourage the woman as she seeks to put her life back together. We believe that every woman has a story. In fact, we believe every woman IS a story, and so we are excited to be a small part of a woman's story as she seeks to move forward and make a better life for herself.

But, we need YOUR help! We have a lot of items to collect and we would like for our readers to be a part of this adventure. Stay tuned to the blog, our Facebook page, and Twitter for ongoing stories about how you can join us as we partner with Lindsey House. If you aren't a blog follower, now is the time to follow! Join our Facebook page, and sign up to follow us on Twitter. We'll be chronicling some of our journey with Lindsey House in the magazine, but frequent updates, requests, and stories along the way will be here.

Check out the "before" photos above. YOU can be a part of making this apartment a beautiful home for a woman and her children. YOU can be a part of making her life better. Join us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 28

One of my projects this year (and every year for the past decade) is to get my old photos scanned and organized. In the midst of shuffling through photo boxes to collect all my official school photos, I began to see a pattern emerge. In my younger years, my hair had been "styled" by my mother. Keep in mind, this was the very early 1970s when many little girls were wearing either a) bouffant type hair like their mothers or b) straight across bangs with an upcurl bob (see photos above). My mother was quite proud of these hairstyles I'm certain. I was a bit of a tomboy, so I was mostly ambivalent about them. But now I have to admit, they were pretty bad.

As the years progressed, I made my own decisions about hair. I should say up front that these were not always good decisions and so I haven't posted any pictures of those. But I'd like to hear about YOUR hair. So, here is your writing prompt for today:

Remember your worst haircut, or worst hairdo trend that you followed (think feathered bangs). Describe it and write about the era of that particular hairstyle.

Send your writing to Happy Monday, and I hope you have a good hair day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 21

I'm finally recovering from the nastiest bug I've had in years. Two weeks of it was enough to make me start feeling cranky and blue. I'm not good at sitting in the house - on the couch - for multiple days in a row, but my cabin-fever was compounded by a non-stop cough, get the idea. It got so bad I turned to advice from Mom: stop whining and start counting (blessings, that is). So I did. One by one, I counted and then I felt better. So simple, but I forget to do this way too often.

So here is your writing prompt:

List seven things you are grateful for, then spend 10 minutes each day writing about one.

I'm almost certain that will improve your week. I'm going to keep at it and take my mother's advice even though the cloud has lifted and I'm off the couch!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 14

I loved last week's writing prompt and the responses we got. It made me think about what we remember from our childhood. Here's the prompt for this week:

What is the first memory you have of your grandmother, or the grandmother figure in your life? Write about that memory and be sure to include the name that you used for her.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sharing Stories is Good For Your Health

Several nights ago we had family members over for dinner and sat around the table for over an hour after the plates had been cleared. We weren't talking politics, giving each other advice, or complaining about other family members. We were doing nothing more than sharing stories. Some of the stories were memories of our small town growing up, some were stories about friends that had passed in and out of our lives. Some of the stories were about challenges we have overcome and lessons we have learned. When the evening was over, I felt cleansed and calm. This morning, when I ran across an article in The New York Times about storytelling, my evening with my family made sense. It seems that our bodies actually have a positive, physical reaction to the act of storytelling. In her article titled, "Patient Stories May Improve Health," Pauline Chen writes:

The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications.

Monitoring the blood pressure of nearly 300 African-American patients who lived in urban areas and had known hypertension, the researchers at three-month intervals gave half the patients videos of similar patients telling stories about their own experiences. The rest of the patients received videos of more generic and impersonal health announcements on topics like dealing with stress. While all the patients who received the storytelling DVD had better blood pressure control on average, those who started out with uncontrolled hypertension were able to achieve and maintain a drop as significant as it had been for patients in previous trials testing drug regimens.

Later in the article, lead author of the study and researcher Dr. Thomas K. Houston says this: “Telling and listening to stories is the way we make sense of our lives. That natural tendency may have the potential to alter behavior and improve health.”

Every culture in history, including our own, has had a way to pass along stories, whether through writing, pictures, orality, or song. Apparently, it is vital to a culture - and to individuals - to tell our stories. And it is good for our health as well. Our magazine is one way to tell and listen. I've discovered the value of sitting around a table and sharing stories as well. Sometimes I wonder if this is a lost art. We rarely have time to sit around a table and eat together, much less spend time telling stories after the dinner is finished. If storytelling is good for our health, what ways are you incorporating it into your life? I'd be interested to hear your comments.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 7

Welcome March!

Anyone out there do spring cleaning? Even if you don't you can participate in this writing prompt:

Write about cleaning out your memorabilia box in the attic. This is the box that holds all the things you would NEVER be able to part with. What is in the box and why have you kept the items?

Send your writing to me ( or post it here. We are looking for short pieces to include in Mia, and a compilation of writing prompts would be perfect.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Believe in Her

Juli and I visited Lindsey House yesterday for a "Lunch and Learn." This is an amazing place. The residents of this vintage 1920s apartment complex are women who have been rendered suddenly homeless because of crisis. They have children and nowhere to go. It's not a shelter, however. It's a Transitional Living Center, which is actually the name of the organization that gives these women the opportunity to pull themselves up with the help of community volunteers who believe in them. The women are carefully screened for substance abuse and interviewed to make as certain as possible that they are a fit for Lindsey House. The women must pay rent - a percentage of their income, have a high school diploma or be working on their GED, and generally prove that they have a desire to make life better for themselves and their children. Volunteer groups adopt units, furnish and stock them, and connect with the woman and her children who are living in that unit.

There are shelters that serve women (and men) who have substance abuse issues, are victims of domestic violence, or are chronically homeless. There is a great need for these types of shelters, but I was struck by the reality that many women need a place where they can prove themselves. On some level, don't we all? When a woman enters Lindsey House, there are high expectations for her success, but there is also plenty of help to get the women on their way to a better life. They are given budget and financial counseling and are accountable to other women for how they are spending, saving, and planning for the future. They are expected to take care of their apartment and be a member of the Lindsey House community. My guess is that there is a high success rate for these women after they have transitioned out of Lindsey House. When someone believes in us, most of us will rise to meet those expectations. I love this concept and am interested to follow the story of the Transitional Living Center model. If it works (and I have no doubt it does), then we'll see more TLC houses opening up around the Tulsa area, and hopefully around the state.

Check out their website here

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, February 28

It's Monday, the sun is shining, it's the last day of February, the Spring issue of Mia is being distributed, and I'm working with my dog at my feet. She snores, but I find it an acceptable accompaniment to my fingers clicking away on the keyboard. So in honor of Grace, my nine-month-old black lab, here is your writing prompt for today:

Write a story from the perspective of your favorite childhood pet. Make sure to include details about how the pet sees you and your family.

Happy Monday!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, February 21

Some Mondays are harder than others. We had snow here for a week and a half, so life came to a grinding halt. It was kind of nice, I have to admit. Several friends and I agreed that being trapped in your house can be quite productive: no meetings, errands, school, social events. I got cleaning and work done, took some naps, learned how to do most of the exercises on my Wii Fit, and checked several need-to-see-movies off my list. But then the sun came out and the race was on to make up for lost time. Now it's Monday again and I don't feel quite as rested as I did last Monday. Sometimes it's good to take a deep breath before we begin. If you're feeling like me, here is a writing prompt to wake you up and get you going today:

Sit in total silence for five minutes and observe things around you. Write a story about the sense of awareness this brings you.

Happy Monday!

Do you have a subscription to Mia? If not, you should! We'll make sure it's delivered straight to your mailbox four times a year. It's easy to order your subscription online here. We need your support to keep publishing the magazine. , so consider becoming a subscriber!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, February 14

Happy Monday!
It's the beginning of a new week and the middle of the month of February. Valentine's Day, 2011. You can be as ambivalent as you want about Valentine's Day, but it looms large in the stores as soon as the after-Christmas sale items have been picked through and whisked away. Suddenly, red and pink lace hearts are everywhere and we're hit with reasons to buy chocolate, jewelry, flowers and cards that sing. Not to sound too humbug, but I don't get terribly caught up in the commercialism of Valentine's Day. I do, however, love the opportunity to remember to be grateful that I have people to love, most notably my husband. So we do a little Valentine's dinner and buy each other a funny card. But mostly we share memories of our lives over the past several decades and talk about how we would be different people if we hadn't been introduced by a mutual friend on that windy day in front of the college dormitory.

A long introduction, but here is your writing prompt for Valentine's Day:

Write about the first time you laid eyes on the person you love the most. Describe the setting, the person, the moment.

I'm collecting the responses to the writing prompts you are sending because changes are coming to the blog soon. I have been doing most of the writing, but I'd like to turn that over to you. Just as Mia is your magazine, this blog belongs to you also. We want it to be an extension of the magazine and of the storytelling that we publish in print. So keep sending your stories in! They don't have to be long, just a few paragraphs. You can email your writing to me at

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, February 8

No need to check your calendars. February 8 IS Tuesday. That's today. Snow has a way of making the days run together.
So here is your writing prompt for today:

Clare Boothe Luce told President Kennedy that "every man is a sentence." At Mia, we would tweak it to say, "Every person is a sentence."

If you were a sentence, what would it be? Write your sentence using third person.

Watch the video below about Daniel Pink's book Drive and think about your own sentence. We would love to read yours. Send it to us! Or you can comment here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Last week, Lisa promised a favorite photo and the story behind it. Here it is:

In 1958, my mother developed an unquenchable thirst. She and my father had been married for only a few years when she was diagnosed with diabetes, but this photo was taken a year before that diagnosis. They were living in Baltimore, Maryland in a garage apartment. My parents were small town kids, transplanted from Kibler, Arkansas where they had grown up only a half-mile from one another. She was 20 years old in this photo, newly released from the edges of impoverished backwoods Arkansas and still a bit dazed by the world. I love this photo without reason. She doesn't look particularly happy or unhappy, but it's not her face that captures me in this photo. It's her leg.

The disease that she was diagnosed with about 11 months after this photo took her life, but first it took her legs. She battled diabetes from the age of 21, but it was the last ten years of her life that it landed its cruelest blows. Her kidneys stopped working and she was kept alive by dialysis. About the time her body seemed to have gone its distance with the dialysis, she noticed an odd blister on her foot. That was August of 2007. By March of the following year, doctors had amputated both of her legs. Along with breaking apart and killing vital organs, diabetes causes neuropathy - nerve damage that decreases blood flow. Her lower limbs were literally starved to death of life-giving blood and they became an enemy that had to be separated from the rest of her body. In two separate surgeries that were shockingly quick and simple, my mother's legs were removed.

When I look at this photo, I remember a statement she delivered a few days before she died. "I have been blessed every day of my life," she said with absolute sincerity. And on her face was that same expression that I see in this photo. She faced life with determination, her jaw set with it and a look in her eyes that meant business. She was tough to the end - never bitter, always grateful. She felt blessed, and in proclaiming it, even when her beautiful legs were gone, she was showing us all how to live above the difficult circumstances of our lives, and in the end, defeat them.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, January 31

I'm big on resolutions so I did make some for the New Year. One of them is to take more photos. Here's a big secret: I make this resolution every year. I've finally found a way to keep this one, however, by making a photo book to give my family at Christmas. It's our "year in photos." I don't want the book to be skimpy, so that means throughout the year I have to keep my camera handy and actually take pictures! It's been a good way to keep my resolution.

I think taking photos and writing go hand in hand because both are forms of storytelling. We can tell stories with words or pictures, but often it works best when one accompanies the other. So here is this week's writing prompt:

Find one of your favorite photos, old or recent, and write the story behind it.

I'll be posting mine later this week, and I would love to read (and see) yours. Send it to me:
We're collecting the writing prompt responses that you're sending, and will use some of them in a future issue of Mia, so keep them coming!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Writing Prompt, January 24

I've changed the title of this to the Monday Writing Prompt. We're approaching magazine deadline and these days the morning is gone before I realize it. So, in the spirit of being flexible, let's just drop the Monday, shall we? Around here, it's almost dinner time and I'm thinking of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. My mother used to throw together this quasi-meal when my father was out of town on business. This week MY husband is out of town and it's just the youngest one and me, so in honor of my mother (who knew how to take advantage of a situation when it presented itself), I'm popping open a can of Amy's Organic Chunky Bisque soup and slapping two slices of cheese on rye bread. In the immortal words of Rachael Ray, "yum-o!"

So here is your Monday writing prompt:

What is your most memorable meal, and what made it special?

Send your writing to me at I need ideas for the rest of the week!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Evening Writing Prompt, January 17

Night has fallen, and the Monday Morning Writing Prompt is just now going up. Speaking of being late, here is the prompt:

Write about a time when you were the last one left.

Keep sending your writing! I love to read how you respond to the prompts:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, January 10

Yes, it isn't exactly morning, but it IS still Monday, right?
So here is your Monday (afternoon) writing prompt:

Write about a time you ran away.

Want to read a great blog? Try this one.

Happy writing...and reading!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt and Our Facebook Winner!

Happy New Year!
Have you made your resolutions yet? Studies show that writing down a goal, resolution, dream, or plan increases the odds that you will meet with success. Perhaps seeing it in writing forces us to determine whether it is realistic. Or maybe writing it down and putting it where we can see it regularly makes us more accountable. So, here is your first Monday Morning Writing Prompt for 2011:

Write about a dream you would like to see come true this year.

Since we're talking about dreams coming true, our winner of the Mia basket (complete with one-year subscription, journal, back issues, and a coffee mug) is Lesa Bowman of Oklahoma City. Congratulations! We're thrilled to have so many on Facebook who "like" Mia magazine.

We have a few dreams for 2011 that we will be sharing with you in the upcoming weeks. But first, we'd love to read yours! Email, or comment here.

If you haven't subscribed to Mia, this would be a great time! It's a new year, and we have exciting stories to share. For an easy way to subscribe, check out the Mia website