Reading, Writing, and Ritual

When my family takes a road trip and we cross a state line, we all do the wave and chant, “[State name], woohoo!” It’s corny, but we look forward to it. At the outset of our trips, our teenage kids ask how many state lines we will cross, and we all keep watch as we get closer and closer to a state line. We look for literal signs announcing a state’s proximity and figurative signs like increasing or decreasing mile markers. When we see a state sign approaching, we make sure everyone in the car has a visual, and we time our cheer when the hood of the car reaches the state line. We do this every time. It’s our ritual.

A ritual is a habit or routine laced with meaning and practiced with mindfulness. We all have habits, routines, and rituals but do not always recognize them. Habits happen so effortlessly, we barely realize we’re doing them. Much to my husband’s chagrin (I’m sure), I crack my knuckles as soon as I get into bed each night. I don’t think about doing it; I just do it. Routines, however, have intent behind them. Part of my bedtime routine is flossing and brushing my teeth. I must think about completing those actions; I’m not on autopilot, like I am with knuckle cracking. Reading is my bedtime ritual.

Part of my reading ritual includes my routine of flossing and brushing my teeth. I don’t curl up in bed to read without having done so. Once I’ve gotten into bed, I grab my book, which lives within arm’s reach on my dresser, and settle in to read. The act of reading carries meaning for me. As I prepare to read, I often think about the gift of literacy and how it was systematically denied to people who look like me. I thank God for the gift of books and the time to read them. I contemplate the power of the written word, and I think about how reading shapes who I am. I anticipate the story arc of my book and wonder what will happen next. I focus on my task, and I relax. I feel my breathing deepen and my taut muscles release. Then I immerse myself in the world on the pages in front of me.

Rituals play an important role in self care. They fill you with awe and expectancy. They allow you to consider your values and how you incorporate them into your life. They help you slow down and pay attention to the moment you’re experiencing, rather than dwelling on past moments or worrying about future ones. They signal your brain to switch into reflection and creativity, which can lead you into a flow state. They can also signal to others you’re experiencing flow. For example, I used to listen to particular music while studying my bible, and my husband knew to give me some time when he heard the music playing. Rituals help you place boundaries around the time and space you need for self care – boundaries both you and others will respect.

Not every habit or routine needs to become a ritual, but reading and journaling are good contenders for busy educators. They are easy activities to practice and to squeeze into tight schedules.

The first step is to make reading and journaling a routine. Some people can create new routines for themselves by the sheer force of their will. I am not one of those people. If you are, I applaud you. If you are not, I have some tips for you.

  • Decide you want to read and journal. You get to choose how to spend your time and how you will take care of yourself.
  • Tell people you are going to read and journal. They will cheer you on and hold you accountable.
  • Experiment. Play with different times of day and different strategies to find what works best for you.
  • Determine a trigger that aligns with the results of your experimentation. Pick some recurring event (like walking in the house after work) or habit (like walking on the elliptical) and tie reading and journaling to it. Keep a notebook by your door and pick it up on the way in the house to journal for a few minutes before launching into your evening activities. Decide that every time you go to work out on the elliptical, you will listen to an audiobook.
  • Repeat and adjust. Repeat the process and revise as necessary until you have established a routine. 
  • Show yourself grace. Forming a habit can take anywhere from 8 to 250 days, with the average being 66 days (https://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/science/how-long-habit). Don’t beat yourself up, if it takes a while to get into a groove. You are learning and growing in the process.
  • Reflect. This step moves your routine to ritual. Think about why you’re implementing this activity in your life. Think about how it benefits you and your loved ones. Think about the gift of self care. Think about the activity itself, not your perceived failures of the day or your looming to-do list. Revel in who you are becoming as you partake in the activity.
  • Get support. Sometimes going it alone is hard. When you feel isolated, it’s easy to lose resolve and drift back into habits that don’t serve you well and don’t lead you toward self care. If you want to practice reading and writing as rituals with other educators, click HERE to learn more. 

Reading and journaling rituals are educator self care tools, not just diversions to slough off. Taking care of yourself as an educator affects all areas of your life. Choose to practice self care today. 


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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Practice What I Preach

I’m worn out from posting daily. My brain needs a break, so I’m taking one.

I won’t post about reading and journaling as educator self care today. Instead, I’m going to read and journal.

I’ve been reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and I’m almost finished with book 6. The book is huge, so almost finished means I still have a few hundred pages left.

And I’m going to journal to the following prompt.

How is life making me stronger?

Let me know if you’re journaling to the same prompt by leaving a comment below.

Wee Hours for Reading and Journaling

Our brains work differently in the middle of the night. I don’t know the science behind it, but I know reading and writing in the middle of the night affects my psyche differently than any other time of the day.

So today’s message is brief.

Capitalize on your altered brain function during those hours of the day. If you’re awake, write and read. See where it takes you.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Fast Writing as a Journaling Strategy

I looked good. I had on my 3-inch big girl heels, pencil skirt, blouse, and jacket. And I looked professional, too, with my shoulder strap satchel. I strutted into the building feeling confident and headed for the grand staircase. You know the type – the large, winding staircase, traversing multiple stories, serving as the centerpiece for an historic downtown office building.

I made it fine down the first few steps.

Until my heel caught on a step and I tumbled down the stairs. Down and down I fell, head over heels, rolling and bouncing along the stairs like Bart Simpson having a nice trip, with papers flying from my satchel like confetti in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t stop until I got all the way to the bottom. I looked up from the foot of the stairs to see people crowding the railing of the top floor, all watching me in stunned silence. I stood and waved. The onlookers applauded then dispersed. A few stayed to help me collect my papers that spanned nearly the entire staircase.

Once I collected myself and my belongings, I found my way to the classroom where I would give a presentation on the writing process. As part of my presentation, I taught students about fast writing, my favorite type of writing. Fast writing is exactly what it sounds like – writing fast. Fast writing has only one rule: don’t stop writing. If you run out of things to stay, write “I don’t have anything to say.” If you misspell something, just keep writing. If you feel silly, write about how silly you feel. Whatever you do, don’t stop writing for the allotted time.

Fast writing has many benefits. It helps you deal with personal issues that may block your writing. It helps you learn about yourself, because it forces you to think while you write instead of before you write. It helps you get to your genius because it forces you past your crazy. Usually when we think something crazy, we stop ourselves from writing it, and we never discover what ideas might have come next. Fast writing helps you move past the crazy and find your genius. Fast writing silences your inner critic – that voice that tells you you’re a bad and inept writer.

My inner critic wanted to wreak havoc on me after my spill down the stairs. Everyone saw you fall down the stairs and won’t take you seriously during your presentation. You can’t even walk down a flight of stairs in heels. What else can’t you do? Instead of listening to my inner critic, I fast wrote with the students during the presentation. 

Fast writing is a great journaling strategy, especially for educators without much time. It allows you to access your thoughts and emotions without censoring yourself. Try fast writing for 2 minutes at a time and gradually build your way up to longer stretches. You can write about whatever you want. Don’t worry if you get off topic. Your brain will eventually get you where you need to be. Where will fast writing take you today?

Youtube video

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Read & Journal in the Day; Read & Journal Every Way

Try reading and journaling at different times of the day. You won’t know what works for you until you’ve tried a few different things.

Read or journal during your commute. If you’re driving, please use audio reading and voice writing (the voice recording feature in Google Docs works pretty well, if you’re looking for something quick to try). If you no longer have a commute, because Miss Rona has you working from home, reclaim some of your commute time. How long did it take you to get to work? 10 minutes? 45 minutes? Take your commute time, cut it in half, and dedicate that amount of time to self care. For example, if it used to take you 30 minutes to get to work, give yourself 15 minutes of self care before work and 15 minutes of self care after work.

Read or journal after exercise – how is your thinking different after exercise? Your emotions? Your focus?

Read or journal after work – decompress from the day and prepare your mind for the next portion of your day.

Read or journal when you have a few moments. (See previous posts about being prepared to read and journal HERE, HERE and HERE.) Two minutes of self care is success, not failure. 

Don’t pressure yourself to meet some imaginary self care standard. Focus on doing what you can, when you can. Practicing some self care is better than practicing none.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

#IntrovertEducator

I’m an introvert. My journey through self care as an educator speaks as much to my introversion as it does to my love of reading and journaling.

I have adored my work in education. But it is hard, draining, even debilitating. I’ve loved my students and colleagues, and I’ve fully spent myself on my work. This typically left me irritable and unavailable at home. I was at my worst for the people to whom I wanted to give my best. So I fought against my innate introverted nature, which told me to rest, read, create, and write. Instead, I attempted to be who I thought I should be. I could function, and even excel in different areas at different times, but I didn’t thrive.

To thrive in all areas of their lives is my hope for all educators, and self care plays an important role in that. Not every educator finds rest through reading, writing, and creating. Not all educators are introverts, but I know I’m not alone. So I’m trying to support introvert educators by encouraging them to make the time they need to read, write, and create.

But it’s not enough.

It’s not enough to encourage you to read, write, and create without giving opportunity. I’m working on that with some upcoming LELA House events. Similarly it’s not enough to give opportunity without giving time.

I can’t make time, but I can provide opportunity, encouragement, and resources. I believe if someone had suggested I make some time for myself and offered me the chance to pursue my passions, I might have thrived rather than survived. I didn’t recognize what I needed, and being an exhausted introvert educator in an extrovert world made me question myself and my place in education.

Everyone who rests by reading, writing, and creating isn’t an introvert, but I bet a lot of you are. And if you’re like me, you could use a community of other introvert educators – who understand your conflicting needs for solitude and camaraderie; how reading, writing, and creating rejuvenate you; how your superpowers show up differently; how you can love what you do and find it draining.

So let’s talk about it. What’s your life as an #IntrovertEducator? What do you need to make it through the day? Leave a comment to join the conversation.


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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Benefits of Early Morning Reading and Journaling

I breastfed my son until he was 15 months old. From birth until 15 months old, he only took a bottle once. When I dropped him off at daycare, I nursed him before I left. When I picked him up, I nursed him before heading home. He preferred to spend the day on a hunger strike than to drink from the bottles of liquid gold I sent with him every day in an insulated bag.

Then one day he stopped. As he started solid foods, he nursed less, but his nursing cessation came without warning. One day we followed our typical nursing schedule, then the next day he didn’t want to nurse any more.

My body freaked out.

I had lived on a hormone high for four years straight – my pregnancy with my daughter, nursing my daughter, my pregnancy with my son (btw – nursing is not an effective form of birth control), my pregnancy with my son, and nursing my son. The sudden drop in hormones after nearly half a decade of a hormone high spiraled my body into chaos. Specifically, I developed allergies. To everything.

I already had many allergies, but they expanded when I stopped nursing. I gained allergies to foods, chemical products, and fabrics. Unfortunately, learning about these new allergies took trial and error. Especially the fabrics.

Coinciding with my son’s nursing cessation, I got a new job teaching at a local university. I dressed professionally for work, but that meant wearing synthetic fibers. By the time I got home from work every day, my skin itched and oozed, with layers of skin sticking to the inside of my clothes as I peeled them off. I didn’t realize I had developed an allergy to these fabrics, however, until one day after work I threw on a 100% cotton t-shirt and felt a reprieve from my discomfort. I began expanding my cotton clothing collection and experienced greater relief with each item. My skin, however, remained covered in weeping rashes.

Then one night a dream changed my life. I no longer recall the dream, but I know when I awoke, the word l’arge-a-neen filled my mind. I didn’t understand, but I journaled about it and consulted my dear friend Google. I discovered the term l-arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid with a variety of properties, including playing “an important role in cell division, wound healing, immune function, the release of hormones, and the production of growth hormone” (https://thedermreview.com/arginine/). I found a body cream with l-arginine as an ingredient and moisturized my skin back to good health.

Without journaling and reading that morning, I wouldn’t have captured the answer God sent in my dream. I would have gone about my day, forgetting my dream, and never learning about the cure it revealed.

Early morning reading and journaling can serve you well. You can capture your dreams from the night before, find inspiration for the day to come, and give space to your hopes and plans – all before the bustle of the day begins.

The best time to read and journal is whenever works best for you, but if you’re looking for a place to start, give early morning a try.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Celebrate Self Care

Sixteen days ago I began writing for a BYOB (Blog Your Own Book) challenge. The challenge is to write a blog post each day for the month of August, so that by the end of August, participants will have written the bulk of the material for a book. Today I am celebrating my courage to put my weird ideas about reading and journaling as educator self care into the ether, my consistency, and my small steps (writing one blog post may not seem like much, but when it turns into a book it certainly does).

And I want you to celebrate yourself, too.

Celebrate the courage you’re showing by choosing yourself. Most educators put themselves last, but you are choosing to give yourself time and space to rest, reflect, and grow.

Celebrate your consistency. Forming a habit is difficult, but taking one small step day after day helps you reach your goals.

Celebrate your small steps. You wrote in your journal today? Good for you! You read for five minutes? Way to go! I’m not one to celebrate mediocrity, and please don’t get me started on children getting trophies just for showing up. Nevertheless, stepping into something you’ve not committed to before is daunting. 

I applaud your efforts. Transformation is hard work.

Real-life transformation doesn’t happen like Cinderella’s “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” scene, which yields temporary change in Cinderella’s circumstances. Rather it plays out  like Mulan’s “Be a Man” scene, which reveals Mulan’s strength of character.

I celebrate your strength of character. I celebrate you. You should, too.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.  

Quick and Dirty Post about Journaling

Journaling does not require a lot of time. I’ll repeat. Journaling does not require a lot of time.

Rules of journaling

  1. Write at least one thing (word, sentence, paragraph – your choice).
  2. Don’t backtrack. If you missed a day (or a week or a month) don’t try to recapture what your life was. Just start where you are right now.

That’s it.

You’ve got this.

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I am doing a 31-day series on reading and journaling as self care for educators. Each day of the series has bonus journal prompts. Click to join the LELA House family of educators committed to nourishing their reading, writing, and creative souls. You’ll receive a link to the journal prompts and gain early alerts for upcoming LELA House ideas, courses, and products. You only need to subscribe once. I will add a new worksheet each day to the access link.

Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator.  She offers life coaching and writing coaching to educators, as well as other opportunities for educators to practice self care through reading and writing. Check out her LELA House website to learn more about her services.  Roshaunda lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries.