Archive for May, 2011

Use your words…

This morning on my hike I was thinking about when my youngest son was little and I used to say to him: “Kevin use your words…” .  Being that he was the youngest of 4 he didn’t have to talk, he could grunt and his siblings would give him what it was he wanted.  Generally because they didn’t want him to cry or whine.  Well, eventually Kevin began to talk instead of whine or grunt or point!  The visual came to me because I began to think about the power of words in our lives.  Have you been struck by the beauty of someone saying to you with meaning…”I love you”  or “I hear you”.  Words do have a power of their own, a power for good.  I have been making an effort to really speak my truth, by saying the words that are sometimes left unspoken.  Words are important, like “I am sorry” and “Please forgive me”.  

As I teach my students about memoir writing and the journey of using the pen to find yourself I think it is important not just the words we choose, but the opportunity to remember them.  I have been blessed in my lifetime to have heard so many wonderful words.  I want to spend the rest of my life sharing my words with those I love.  Words of encouragement, words of love, words of blessings and hope.  I want my words to be a present to those I am around.  I want to use my words, and to remember to use them wisely.

Today in your writing I want you to remember as many times as possible where words have encouraged you.  Who spoke those words to you?  Were they whispered to you or shouted out to you?  Try to go deep to the feelings of what those words felt to you and how you feel today about those words.  You may need to pull out some emails or letters and find those kind love letters written to you.  I had a box when I was living in San Jose that I kept full of love letters written to me from my students.  Several come to mind, I remember getting one written in cute 1st grade writing print that said:” Ms. Coia, you are the best teacher I have ever had.” (So cute since the student may have had only one teacher before me!)  Or this one that said: “I love Ms. Coia because she is so smart, she probably knows 1 +1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1+ 1 + 100 + 20 + 10 + 100=”

Start collecting your words that have been written to you, some may just be carved on your heart.  Cherish them.  This week use your words to give a blessing to someone else.

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Memorial Day!

What is the meaning of Memorial Day?

That can sometimes get lost in the barbeques, travel plans and celebrations of this holiday season.

It’s sometimes called the official start of the summer season, but for the past 143 years its purpose has been to honor Americans who have died in war.

The day differs from Veterans Day in November, when the nation pauses to remember all its members of the armed forces.

Memorial Day is designed to recognize the 1.8 million Americans who have been killed in our nation’s wars since 1775.

The day has its roots in the Civil War, our nation’s deadliest war. More than 600,000 Union and Confederate fighters died in that four-year conflict.

Days were set aside during that war to remember the soldiers who had perished.

On May 5, 1868, Gen. John Logan officially proclaimed a Memorial Day holiday. It was celebrated on May 30 that year, according to the website

Until World War One, the holiday observed only those who died in the Civil War. After the first World War, Memorial Day was used to honor those who died in all of our country’s wars.

It has since been moved to the final Monday in May. That was made official by an act of Congress in 1971.

I think a great think to write about today in honor of Memorial Day is how the various wars had an impact on your family.  Have you had family members serve in the various armed services?  Have you lost some of your ancestors to war?  I have always in the past marked Memorial Day as the day that summer was getting close. Picnics and barbeques, but never really focused on what the true meaning of this day actually means.  Today, let’s all stop and pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed for our beautiful country.

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What is your challenge?

This morning as I was walking Courtney I started thinking about the challenges we all face over time.  Some of these challenges are challenges that come to us that we need to overcome.  Other times we challenge ourselves to do something or to be better.  Starting June 1st Melanie (above in the picture) and I are going to do the Bikram 30 day challenge.  30 yoga classes in 30 days.  Not only are we going to set our intentions on completing this challenge but we are also challenging ourselves to a detox of our bodies by not eating any preservatives or alcohol or sugar  for 30 days (sniff, sniff…).  So here we are having a toast to our challenge and marvelling at how great we are going to feel on June 30th. 

What is your challenge?  Is there a challenge placed upon you right now or is there a challenge that you would like to accomplish?  I love these words spoken by Martin Luther King:

The ultimate measure of a person
is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience,
but where the stand in times of challenge and controversy.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

So how about for the month of June you challenge yourself to something for 30 days.  You could challenge yourself to journal for 30 days of June if you are not a regular journaler.  You could challenge yourself to walk every day if you are not a walker.  You could challenge yourself in any area.  I will post a picture on June 30th of me and Mel and let you know how our challenge went.  And I hope you will plan on joining us at our happy hour on June 30th as we celebrate our completion of our 30 day challenge!

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Be a gift…

This morning when I was driving home from yoga I saw a great license plate that said simply: Be a gift.  Hmmm, I love that!  Who doesn’t like to receive a gift, but how much better to be the gift!  The picture above is of one of my students Rochelle who is a snowbird.  Meaning she lives part of the time in Palm Desert and part of the year in Seattle.  I have been teaching Rochelle for about two years now and Rochelle is such a gift to me.  Not only does she write beautiful stories and poems, but after every class, she looks me in the eyes and says, “That was wonderful, great material.” (or something along those same lines!) 

I like to call Rochelle my Jewish mother.  She always dresses impeccable and has such great taste.  I know she is a gift to me and my life in so many ways.  I am excited that I will be spending 4 days with her up in Seattle teaching a workshop for her friends and I look forward to seeing her at her home.  So Rochelle, thank you for being such a great example of what it means to be a gift to another person.  You have gifted me with your love and wisdom for two years now and you are a great example of a woman who lives with grace and integrity.  I am so glad you are a part of my world.

Today in your writing list some ways that you can be a gift to others this week.  I have been working on my list and number one on my list is that today I am going to go visit my 93 year old student, Melitas and her “warden” Alba and I will be making them my famous and spectacular homemade Macaroni and Cheese by request.  If you remember the last time I made it for them was on Mother’s Day…can you believe they loved it so much they ate it for 4 or 5 days in a row??? Wow!!  Time to adjust my bow and head over to be a gift!

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Surround yourself with love!

Awww, I love these ladies!  This morning during my writing I began to write about the people we choose to surround us.  I have been very, very fortunate in having many wonderful groups of women who not only become my friends, but also my sisters.  As I have examined my choice of friendships throughout the years I have to say that I have managed to always have a great support system around me.  The ladies in the picture with me are friends that I have known less than 3 years, but I count them as my sisters.  A great writing exercise is to write about your friends from childhood through the present time.  I have had many wonderful friendships and the older I get the deeper and more precious my friends are to me.  Surround yourself with beautiful friends.  To all the friends in my life, let me tell you I appreciate and honor each one of you.  Thank you for being such an integral part in my growth as a woman.

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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