My love affair with words began decades ago. Twenty-eight years of teaching kids was a reciprocal experience. Watching them grab new words and seeing how they played with words reminded me of word games and nonsense words my twin and I invented in childhood. The playing and laughing together brought us together.
Words can cause folks to laugh, cry, get indignant, blush, or be crushed, embarrassed, and rejected. A single negative word can make or break my mood, which, if I let it, can bother me for hours. Words can also lift us up, infuse us with pride, energy, self-confidence, ambition, inspiration, and motivation.
My love affair has lasted through teaching kids and then adults about writing, sharing words that build up esteem, using words that help create safe boundaries and keep me and others off that “conflict escalator.”
Writing, public speaking and publishing books, blogs, and articles has given me food for thought to find positive diplomatic ways to wade through the often murky waters of relationships and tension-filled personal and work situations. Words! I love ‘em.
This website is dedicated to ideas, stories, and folks who use words to build bridges, relationships, connections. The letterhead ELM will stay – Ethel Lee-Miller, but also ELM -“enhanced life management.” It’s possible and definitely probable that words can make it better no matter what the “it’ is. I’m here, writing and sharing my thoughts and ideas about the power of words, people, and life. The Writing Life blog and Contact pages exist for you to respond and let me know what’s doing in your life.
My treasures, my books, are always available for purchase. Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort; Seedlings, Stories of Relationships; Muse Matrix; and Inside and Out hold stories that entertain, challenge, and hopefully inspire you to enhance your life. The enhancement can be one small step each day, or a sweeping change. Because positive change is always possible.
I’m a native New Yorker, now contented resident of Tucson, Arizona since 2009, who captures images, relationships, and a sense of time and place with carefully chosen words. I’m also a sharer and quick to tell folks, “I’m having a love affair.” There is a general intake of breath when I say this, and bodies lean in to get the full story. When I reveal the love affair is with words, and it has been going on for years, there is a collective sigh—part relief, and part disappointment in not having a juicy tidbit in response to the question of “What’s new?”
Twenty-eight years as an elementary educator in West Caldwell, New Jersey also included leadership workshops, negotiation skills in and out of the school setting, conflict resolution training, and process writing. After retiring from teaching in 1997, I opened my business Enhanced Life Management, which was my core work for the next 20 years. My formal training earned me a BS Education, MA Counseling, and Social Work certification. OTJ training and just showing up for life as a writer, editor, writing and public speaking coach, and storyteller has made for some great adventures. The last two decades afforded me the pleasure of presenting over 40 different programs (contact me if you really want to see the list) with individual clients, for groups, and at conferences and workshops in New York, New Jersey, and Arizona. Because I’m a people person, if a certain group wasn’t in existence, I’d start one. Spiritual journey and writing, reading, and women’s support groups have added richly to my life’s experiences.
My love affair and career adventures yielded my memoir Thinking of Miller Place, a collection of stories Seedlings, Stories of Relationships, inclusion in the anthologies Muse Matrix, and Inside and Out: Women’s Truths, Women’s Stories, online essays, and 100s of musings at The Writing Life.
Since the official closing of my business of ELM in March 2020 I continue writing online, in books, in my journals and telling stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Tellers of Tales in Tucson, and anywhere there’s a mic.
Local news, personal interactions, bits of conversation are all seeds for stories. I write my “snippets” longhand in my notebooks or in digital reminders. Many get expanded, revised, and posted on my blog The Writing Life–mostly about people, the power of words, and relationships.
For thirty years, I’ve been happily married to a wonderful, supportive man aka, my National Treasure. I enjoy the special bond of being an identical twin, as well as spending time with our extended and “chosen” families. Living in Arizona affords 299 days of sunshine so hiking, biking, walking, finding and walking labyrinths, picnics, outdoors festivals, meditation and yoga fill our lives.
My bedside table, office desk, and official reading table are piled with a schizophrenic assortment of books. Being a people person includes meeting with folks of “that certain age” to share the rich adventures that life brings after…well, after a certain age.
Every generation offers something I can learn from or share with. The next twenty years are sure to be surprising and even more astounding. Stay connected with me.
Writing and Storytelling
The International Women’s Writing Guild
Regional Representative – Arizona; New Jersey 2004-2009
Story Circle Network
Member since 2016
She Writes; Tapestry Writers – Co-founder; The Eastside Writing Room – Founder; Writers Lunch – Founder; Writers Read – Founder; Tellers of Tales Tucson- Librarian and teller; Odyssey Storytelling- volunteer, occasional curator and teller
Scriveners – Co-founder, women’s writing group; The Write Group of Montclair; Memoir and Muffins – Founder; Seasonal Storytellers and Evening of Memoir – Extroverted authors who love to share their stories. Ekphrasis participant- 2013, 2015.
Retired Essex County Teacher Association
Member, officer, presenter in clubs in New Jersey and Arizona 1997-2017. Achieved the highest certification of Distinguished Toastmaster.
BS Education — Wagner College, Staten Island, NY 1969
MA Human Services — Montclair State University Montclair NJ 1984
Nationally Certified Parent Trainer Professional — 1985
NJ School Social Work — 1985
NJ School Counselor Certification — 1985