Brushing up on your job skills

 

Did you know the Goodwill does more than resell clothes and furniture? Whether you’re a SAHM going back into the workforce, an older adult learning how to navigate technology or you just need a refresher, I stumbled across a FREE website the other day that can help.

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just sharing information that I found.

The Goodwill Community Foundation has a website that offers FREE tutorials on a myriad of topics. You don’t have to create an account and think of yet another password. They offer the service for free (from what I’ve experienced so far).

They offer tutorials in Microsoft Office, Google Docs, Basic Internet usage, even Reading and Math Skills.

The tutorials are simple and easy to follow. Sometimes you may just need to get acquainted or re-acquainted with up-to-date software. For instance, you may remember how to use an older version of Office and just need to see what Office 2016 has to offer.

There is also work and career advice on resume writing and job search tools including interview skills.

It makes so much sense to have a service like this. Most people, when looking for a job, can’t afford to take classes, either because they don’t have the money or the time to sit in a classroom. For many, time is running out, and they need a job ASAP. This is a great option.

If you don’t need the service, then please pass the information along. We all know someone who needs a job. Or maybe you just need the confidence builder.

Hope this helps someone, and thank you to the Goodwill for recognizing a need and doing something about it.

Entering a Local Short Story Contest

 

Every year, our local library holds a Short Story Contest. I’ve entered for the last three years, and have yet to place.

I’m considering entering again this year, just for the practice.

But I don’t write short stories. I never have.

I write novels, so writing a short story, for me, is a bit of a challenge. I’m also a “panster” which makes it even more challenging. Without an “outline,” it makes it much harder to wrap up a story in 2500 words or less.

I write women’s fiction, and women’s fiction differs from most other genres. Without completely sounding like I have no idea what I’m doing, I’ll try to explain what I mean: women’s fiction isn’t necessarily trying to “solve a problem,” as in conquering the neighboring tribe, or saving the planet from the comet headed straight for it. Women’s fiction tends to be about “relationships.” It isn’t as cut and dry as some other genres, and I don’t mean any disrespect by that at all. I just don’t can’t write those other genres without sounding like a 4th grader wrote it (no offense to the 4th graders out there).

Women’s fiction is different in that it’s character-driven. There’s still a problem to solve, sometimes many, but it’s painted with a much broader brush, at least the way I write. My characters are flawed and their flaws are what drive the plot.

So, back to the short story.

First, condensing a story to 2500 words is daunting for me. That means that I need to come up with a premise that can basically be solved in one and a half chapters! What?! That’s when things usually just get going in a women’s fiction novel, not resolved!

Thinking of something that fits into that box is really, really hard for me.

I’ve tried using writing prompts, but have yet to find one that inspires me. I’ve tried different genres, but I really can’t write fantasy or SciFi…I just can’t.

But, like most writers, I like to bang my head against the wall, otherwise I wouldn’t be a writer. (Writers will understand that). I’ll keep trying. I’ve started 3 short stories so far that have fallen flat. I still have until July 31st to submit my entry. It isn’t impossible, just improbable, and I can work with those odds.

What about you? Have you ever tried to write something different than you’re used to? What got you over the hump?

Avoiding the worst job in the house

 

Our bathrooms are white: white tile, white grout, clear glass shower doors on one shower, and a stark white bathtub in the other bathroom.

AND we have hard water which not only leaves horrible water spots, it cements any mildew to the grout. I can forget about using baking soda and vinegar. Only harsh chemicals will cut through that mess.

So, needless to say, cleaning the bathroom is the WORST job in the house.

I will do almost ANYTHING to avoid it, including cleaning out the garage or scrubbing the kitchen garbage can! #responsibility avoidance

The smell of the ammonia in the grout cleaner is enough to take down a small elephant, let alone a woman of 130 lbs.

I’ve been known to devote entire Saturdays to reorganizing closets, or vacuuming all three flights of the house just to avoid the bathrooms. Today has been one of those days.

I had almost convinced myself that no one else was going to clean it, and I may as well bite the bullet and get busy, when my son wanted to WALK to the library. It’s over 90 degrees today, but if my son wants to go to the library, then who am I to say “no” to him! LOL

And now it’s almost time to start dinner, so I can’t possibly start a cleaning project of that magnitude now, right?

Tomorrow…yep…definitely tomorrow…unless…

 

What’s the one job you avoid? And what lengths will you go to to put it off?

Help! I’m becoming a helicopter mom!

 

I thought I was a “chill” mom, but I guess I’m not.

I’ve never really been a helicopter mom. When the kids both started pre-school, and the other moms were crying on that first day, and children were clinging to their mother’s legs, mine left me willingly. It was almost insulting…they couldn’t wait to get away from me! LOL

But I considered it a blessing. We’ve never experienced separation anxiety, except for one brief week in kindergarten for my son. I’m not sure what got into him, but it left as quickly as it arrived.

Now that they’re in their pre-teen and teen years, however, I find myself wanting to hold on to them tighter.

Maybe it’s because I know what I did as a teen and what my husband got away with, and that scares me to death. And, by the way, I was the “good kid” in my group.

My daughter is 15…she’ll be driving in a year, God willing. And there are some days that I’m surprised she remembers to put on shoes before she leaves for school. How will she be ready to operate a motor vehicle! We better do a lot of work this next year.

This weekend, she got an offer to got to her first concert with a friend in the big city. It was a dive club that they’d have to take the metro to. Her friend’s mother was going to accompany them, so I shouldn’t have been nervous, but I was. My husband wasn’t. He was all-encouraging and pointed out that we were driving ourselves to concerts in horrible parts of Hollywood unaccompanied, when we were 16. But I was the third and last child in the birth order at my house and figured that my parents had given up being strict by the time I rolled around. Besides, I was the “good” kid, remember?

My kids are “good” kids too. Really good. But the world has gotten a lot scarier than when we were teens…or at least it appears that way. Maybe my eyes are just more opened to what’s out there compared to what my parents knew what was going on. Thanks information age. #notemysarcasm

So, what’s happening to me? Why am I feeling the need to hold on tighter when I should be loosening my grip? I know it’s wrong and I’m not doing them any favors. They need to explore and make mistakes. It’s just that the older they get, the bigger the mistakes get, and there’s no way to make them understand that.

The concert thing worked itself out. Turns out the club they wanted to go to has an 18 and over age limit. At least I escaped this time. But more times will come, and I’m just going to have to trust that I’ve prepared them, and learn to clip my helicopter wings a little…but not completely. And maybe watching the news a little less would help too.

How about you? Do you find yourself letting go or holding on tighter as your kids get older?

Finding hope at a bar-b-que

There are days that I can’t even watch the news because of how divided it portrays the world to be. And that division is only perpetuated by us staying in our homes, glued to our TVs and computers filling our heads with what THEY want us to believe is true about ourselves.

BUT I HAVE HOPE that we are free-thinkers, that we are BETTER than we are made to believe.

But the only way we’re going to come together is through HUMAN CONTACT.

Our neighborhood had an impromptu bar-b-que on Memorial weekend. Two of them, in fact.

But on a Sunday and a Monday evening there we were: swatting at mosquitos with virtual strangers.

We didn’t know most of the neighbors, except to wave “hello” as we pass them in a car, and some lived on other streets, so even that doesn’t usually happen.

It took a generous neighbor with a really good bar-b-que and an excellent marinade recipe for chicken and ribs, to bridge the divide.

We were from different backgrounds, different nationalities, different political affiliations (I assume – no one discussed politics – hallelujah!), and in different stages of life.

We passed around the fussing baby so that the new mom could eat her dinner in peace. We found out that two people worked for the same corporation and never knew it. We talked about where we were from and where we grew up. We discovered we vacationed in the same places. We laughed and ate and made new friends.

On Sunday night, the bar-b-que went until 2am! On Monday, we only made it until 10pm.

So when the news tells me that my neighbor doesn’t think the way I do, I know the news is full of crap. I know they want headlines. They want us to hate, because it makes us watch them more.

But all it takes is a simple neighborhood bar-b-que to prove them wrong.

People are people, no matter where you go. People transcend politics, and headlines, if we’d stop buying into the hype and look up from our Smartphones long enough to smile.

We need each other. We need more bar-b-ques.

I think the men and women whose lives we celebrated on Memorial Day would have been proud to know that they didn’t die in vain. Good neighbors do still exist. People do still want to connect and reach out to one another.

Looking forward to celebrating summer and hanging out together…in spite of the mosquitoes.

Explaining Being a Writer to Friends and Family

 

I should start by saying that I have not yet published a novel. I’ve published poetry and articles, but I haven’t hit the mother lode yet.

Explaining being a writer to friends and family can be frustrating and humorous.

First and foremost, unless they are writers themselves, they don’t understand the process, the time commitment, or the frustration that comes with wanting to be a published novelist.

Every time I talk to my mother she asks me “Are you going to get this one published?” as if I just need to walk down to the local bookstore and hand them my book. I would love to tell her, “Yes! It’s going on shelves next week!” But when I try to explain that it’s completed, and that it really isn’t “finished” just yet, I hear silence on the other end of the phone. She doesn’t get it. It isn’t her fault, she just isn’t a writer and doesn’t understand that writing is a process.

Truth of the matter is, aside from the initial completion of a novel, most of my non-writer friends and family could care less. Some of them ask about it from time to time, but then glaze over when I bring up editing, or second drafts, or the nature of the business. They don’t really want to know.

Even my own husband has only read one of my early novels. In fact, when I was teasing him about not being interested in what I was writing, he insisted that he was interested, and that he’d read my book. That was 3 manuscripts ago! If it was me, I would want to know what my partner was writing about: am I in it? Is the psycho man-hater character modeled after me? What sort of personal stuff did you put in there? But not him. I guess I should consider myself lucky on that note. I could write a whole book about him and he’d never know it until it was on the shelf of Barnes and Noble. Hmmmm…maybe…nah, I wouldn’t do that. But the point is that I could, and he’d never know.

The truth is that writing can be a lonely business. People won’t understand what you do. They won’t understand the effort you put in to character development, and structure, and plot. They won’t understand what’s taking so long to get your book published. They won’t understand that just finishing a first draft is an accomplishment in itself, even if it never gets published. And writing a second or third novel is even more impressive.

So if it seems like you don’t have the support of family and friends when you’re writing, don’t give up. Those same family and friends will be there when your book goes on the shelf. They might even buy a copy…maybe. They may even open it up and read it just to see if they’re in it.

Don’t worry about finding an answer when they ask if you’re book is published yet. Just tell them it’s in the works. Because it is…the moment that first word is written, your great novel is in the works.

More writing and less explaining!

Besides, the writing community gets it.

Do you have a creative way that you explain writing to your friends and family? I’d love to hear it.

Pretending to be “Normal”

 

Epilepsy is a funny thing. I can go weeks without an “episode.” I love those times. It’s when I feel most normal, like I can do anything, like I’m just like the woman standing beside me at the grocery store (except that she probably drove herself there – I can’t drive…thanks epilepsy).

And then it only takes a 30 second “episode” to change all that.

My confidence (and my brain) gets shaken, and I suddenly get that apprehensive feeling that hangs over me like a dark cloud. When I was little, before I was diagnosed, I used to tell me mom that it was “going to be a bad day.” Neither one of us knew why I said it, I just had this feeling of doom that hung around.

Fast forward some 35+ years later, and I know exactly what I was getting at: the anxiety that accompanies seizures.

It was so much easier when I was younger and fearless. But as you get older, you get wiser, more cautious…almost to a fault.

Every time I have a seizure, it sets my confidence back a step. And depending on how strong the seizure, it sets my confidence back A LOT of steps.

It makes me question my independence: Should I go places alone? Should I take public transportation alone? Should I even try to cross the street alone?

I will always be the “weird girl in the corner,” I’ve gotten used to that. But I hate that my kids are now old enough to see me as the weird girl in the corner.

It’s hard to portray confidence, and show them that they need to work through their challenges whatever they may be, when some days I don’t even believe it myself.

Life will always through curve balls that you may not be prepared for, you just need to decide if you’re going to swing or duck. Today I feel like ducking.

I just want my confidence back. Tomorrow’s another day. Maybe it will be a good one. It certainly will never be a “normal” one.

Thanks for listening. I wish I had some grand epiphany to share, about how I’ve learned something wonderful from having epilepsy, but today my brain is tired. Today epilepsy sucks.