Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts

Sep 2, 2021

From Author to Caregiver (for a minute)

Caregiver colored rainbow word text suitable for logo design. Caregiver colored rainbow word text suitable for card, brochure or typography logo design stock illustration 

 I usually post here about reading and writing, which is my passion, but today I'd like to address care-giving. I've been a principal caregiver at two separate periods in my life. Recently, someone I love very much has been forced into a similar role. Her struggle inspired me to look back on what I learned and (maybe) draw some conclusions.

Care-giving is hard. That sounds like a no-brainer, but until you've done it, you can't imagine the myriad ways that "hardness" manifests itself. 

    Physical: I will learn to handle whatever I must, everything from changing a colostomy bag to cutting your toenails. All the physical "rules" that adults cling to will be broken. I will help you shower. I will feed you like I fed my babies, a spoonful at a time. I will wait outside the bathroom and do whatever you need help with. I will, somehow, learn to get a person the same height and weight as I am from bed to wheelchair and back without breaking either of us.

   Emotional: I will (try to) understand that your moods swing from hope to despair, from anger to gratitude. When you lash out at me, I will know it's not me you're angry at. When the doctor gives you the next bit of bad news, I will be strong for you. (I'll cry by myself, later, alone).  When your friends visit for too long and gush about how well you're doing, I won't scream and order them out. 

  Clerical: I will learn your bookkeeping system, pay your bills, write down the kind of cereal you like, and chart how your home is run, so that things are as you want them. I won't mention that checks don't need to be recorded in three different places, (though it will be hard not to).

   Personal: I will put my life on the back burner. If I continue to work or volunteer or even socialize, my thoughts will be on you when I'm away. I will make myself responsible for giving you every bit of happiness you can find in your remaining days, because those days are numbered.

  Intellectual: I will learn everything I can about your condition. I will count your pills and tend your wounds and monitor the machinery that helps keep you going, despite my ignorance and even fear of it. (Is it possible I might overdose you with that morphine pump?) I will scour the internet for genuine information on what's best for you. I will protect your from scammers who offer false hopes to the afflicted and the dying. At the same time, if it's fairly harmless stuff, I will listen as you tell me about the cure some doctor in Haiti has discovered. I might even help you investigate it, because I know that you need to believe something will take away your death sentence. The last thing before I sleep and the first thing when I wake will be plans to make your life better.

Conclusions: Care-giving can bring growth and satisfaction, but that often doesn't manifest itself until it's over. In the day-to-day actions, we become manic and focused on the next moment. We do what we must, but we seldom reflect on what the overall result will be. That's because the overall result is often bad. For me, those horrible times are over (for now). They forced me to do things I would never have dreamed I could do, both good and bad. They also created in me an urge to reach out to others in the role, to offer to listen, to give a short respite, to express both empathy and sympathy for their daily struggles. There's nothing like talking to a person who's been where you are to convince you that you will get through this.

Care-giving leaves us doubting ourselves. "Was I patient enough?" Probably not. Possibly yes. There's no standard to measure what you might have done against what you did. Your response, no matter how flawed, was the only thing you could do AT THAT MOMENT. Don't look back and second-guess yourself. Love yourself for doing what you could for someone you loved.

Though each situation is unique, those who've been there can help. I found this booklet helpful, though it's possibly a bit outdated (2015)

Jul 15, 2021

First-World Trials: Then Dreaded New Computer

 Happy cartoon broken computer logo royalty free stock imagesA few months ago, my computer started acting strangely. It wouldn't connect to the internet, or it if did, it wouldn't go beyond the home page. It saved all files as Read Only, no matter how many times I told it not to. And moving from site to site took forEVER.

My husband, blithe spirit that he is, said, "Don't keep fighting with it. Buy a new computer." This is a man who hands me his iPad whenever something isn't the way he wants it and expects that I'll return it in working order. He has NO idea what buying a new desktop means. 

Still, the computer is old, as computers go, and I use it every day for many things. It got to a point where I had to admit it was time. I ordered a new tower.

When it arrived at four p.m. two days ago, Hubby was excited. "Are you going to open the box?"

"Tomorrow," I replied, and he seemed disappointed. I'm sure there was a man standing over Pandora's shoulder saying, "Aren't you going to look and see what's in that box?"

Yesterday early on, when my mind and spirit were fresh and optimistic, I started. When I plugged the cords in all the right places, I saw the familiar "HI" and thought, like Sally Bowles, "Maybe this time, I'll be lucky..." But life isn't a cabaret, old chum. It's error messages and pings of distress from a machine that doesn't get why I keep plugging and unplugging when the effect is the same every time.

At first it went pretty well. I downloaded my on-line resources like Dropbox and Office without any trouble. I chose my own browser and home page, and unchecked the boxes that automatically install stuff I don't want. But as Gilda used to say, "It's always something." This time it's hardware. The computer didn't recognize any of my printers, my wireless keyboard, or my wireless mouse. They'd sent along the last two items (wired), so I used them to get started. Eventually I made the B&W printer and the photo printer work. It took digging out the disk to add my fancy color printer, but now it's there. I also had trouble getting my external hard drive to show up. I'm not sure how, but eventually it arrived.

I started at six a.m. yesterday That happened around three p.m.

Each time I went downstairs: for snacks, for lunch, for a short brain break, Hubby would ask, "How's it going?" My answers a word, terse. It's like when you're in labor. It's not really his fault, but yeah, it kind of is. He probably told the guys at golf yesterday afternoon that I was really grumpy, and I won't dispute that.

Every item mentioned above took between an hour and two hours to troubleshoot, and I still haven't got a wireless keyboard or mouse. Going online for advice is frustrating. They start with "Here's how to easily connect your wireless keyboard to your new computer," and then they lapse into some ancient tongue understandable only to druids. I write it down. I print it off. I do exactly as they say, until it comes to a point where the instructions no longer match what's on the screen or I've done each step and found that it changed nothing .

I have resigned myself to using a wired keyboard and mouse. I can learn to live with it. I know I can.

NOTE: Some of you are going to be tempted to send advice on how to fix my problems, but I advise against it. There will come a time when my new computer gives me joy and satisfaction. There might even come a time when my keyboard is again wireless. But leave it alone, because today is not that day.

Oct 9, 2017

Wanna-be Writers: Here's the Scoop

Oooooh, So Serious!
The right way to get published? There isn't one!

That's really all you need to know, but of course I'm not done.

There are wrong ways, which include being in too much of a hurry and believing that your book is somehow different from the 3500 other books released each day. (Yup, I just read that figure, and while I didn't check it on Snopes, I'd say it's close with the current ease of publishing.)

Still, a lot of what's out there as advice for writers is just silly. Statistics about how many words you write per day don't mean diddly. We're all different, so we work differently. Articles that insist you must maintain a blog or dun your friends and acquaintances with emails each and every month are dumb. Ask yourself who's giving the advice: a company that wants to be your email provider? An author who thinks she's the only person who ever wrote a book? A company that wants to make money from your hopes and dreams? They all have an agenda, so take their advice with that proverbial grain of salt.

I'm going to do a workshop on getting published in Gaylord Nov. 18th, and I try not to have any agenda except sharing what I know. I will never tell you my way is best (in fact, I've changed methods over the last five years as publishing changed). In my workshops I share what I've learned in a decade-plus as a published author. A writer needs to do what works for him or her, and the best way to find that out is to ask yourself what you want from your writing. Enjoyment? Recognition? A career? The workshop starts with a quiz (that you don't have to share with anyone) to help you zero in on what you're aiming for. When you know what the target is, chances of hitting it are a lot better!

It's a long, unpaved road
Interested? The workshop, "Write, Edit, Publish," will happen at the Otsego County Library in Gaylord, MI, on November 18th from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I'm not sure if you need to reserve a spot, but as far as I know, it's free. (Phone them for more info: ((989) 732-5841

I look forward to talking to wanna-bes about their work, but please understand that I won't read your work and tell you if I think it's publishable. Here's why: My opinion has absolutely no bearing on whether you become rich and famous!

Oct 19, 2015

Plain Talk for Writers: It's Work

Some things you need to accept:

1. You're not as good as you think you are.
Other people have ideas as good as yours. In fact, it's hard to be truly creative with all the stories that are out there. Others write as well as you do too. Admit it, and you'll be easier to be around.
2. You're going to work harder than you expect to be successful.
There is no Book Fairy who sprinkles shiny stuff on your work and gets everyone to notice it. There's no way to get readers to pay attention if they don't want to. There are things you can do that actually turn readers off, like constantly telling what a great book you've written.
3. Nobody knows what works. If there were a formula--well, there isn't. Badly written books get to be Best Sellers and really good books get rejected by publishers or lie languishing if they do get published.
4. Writing well isn't easy. Note the qualifier. A monkey can sit down at a computer and produce something. An author knows it takes time: time to write a coherent first draft, time to make it better with multiple edits, time to get constructive criticism from others, time to rewrite and rework until it's the best story she is capable of telling.


If you're a real writer, none of those things will deter you.

Jan 27, 2015

Take Two Frog Stones & Call Me in the Morning

Being a student of history, I find myself wondering about what advice was like back in the day. We live in a world where everyone wants to tell us how to eat so we can live to be 100, what to wear so we appear cool and confident, and how to survive the next attack, the next storm, or the next epidemic.

Advice from our parents' day now seems quaint and often wrong. The ads that told us real men smoke Marlboros. The Singer instruction manual that advised women to put on a clean dress and makeup and style their hair so they'd be "prepared" for sewing. The general view that a woman should not work once she became pregnant and should stay in bed for two weeks after the birth.


So I wonder, did the Tudors get advice from their doctors about how to live to be forty? Of course they did; people have always hoped some "wise" someone could tell them how to achieve good health and avoid early death. The "frog stones" in the title were ground up and put into a person's drink as a preventative for poison. Tudor doctors turned over a rock on the way to a patient's home and figured out from what they saw beneath it whether the patient would live or die. Nice to know there's a way to know for sure.

I imagine the Roman Empire sending advice to its far-flung citizenry, suggesting ways to live through an attack by raging Goths. I imagine the Great Khan sending out messengers to tout the benefits of eating only Chinese rice and not that cheap stuff coming in from the south. Maybe Cleopatra gave interviews, telling her palace folk that if they copied her outfits, makeup, and habits, they could borrow a little of her glory for themselves.

People have always sought advice, and there's always been someone willing to give it. It's odd to think that things we're advised to do will someday seem quaint, even ridiculous, by those who come later. As long as we think someone else is more qualified than we are to tell us what to do and how to live, there'll be advice, so take that umbrella with you when you leave the house today, and slow down on those slippery roads. Maybe you'll live to be 100. 

Sep 10, 2014

Writers Are Nice People

Newcomers to writing often comment on how nice everyone is. Writers give each other advice. We share successes and failures. We explain the piece we're presently working on (sometimes in too much detail) with little thought that someone will "steal" our ideas. (You can try, but it will still be a ton of work for you.)
In a field where every new book adds to the dizzying amount of competing works, one might think that writers would hide their secrets, keep the means of success to themselves when (if) they stumble on it, and perhaps even mislead naive newbies in order to send them in the wrong direction.
That doesn't happen. Maybe because of how difficult it is to get published, most writers feel an empathy with others that causes them to ignore the prospective competition and give advice that's as helpful as possible.
Have a question for an author? Just ask. It's likely she will share what she knows (unless she has a deadline looming). Why are we so nice? Why don't we care that you might write a blockbuster novel and someday draw readers away from us?
For one thing, misery loves company. It's difficult, sometimes it seems impossible, to find success in writing. Writers share their experiences as a form of catharsis. Besides, my advice to you isn't likely to magically turn you into a writing success. No matter how many secrets I divulge, you still have to do the work, and it's not going to be easy. (If writing feels easy, you're probably doing it wrong.)
There isn't any "right" way to write, and there isn't any "right" way to get published. I can't tell you how it will happen for you or when or how much success you'll have. I can only tell you what I know, and that changes almost daily.

Everybody Lies

    First, let me say I'm aware that I make things up for a living, so writing about lying is a little hypocritical. But I don't pre...