Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Thankful in November

November 19, 2014

This month I’ve come to the realization that I have one thing above all others that I’m thankful for in my writing life. I’m thankful that I don’t give up. No matter how discouraged I am, how many rejections I’ve gotten, or how many days have lapsed since my last blog post (17 but who’s counting?!) I always manage to pick myself up, dust myself off, and try again. This might sound a bit too much like Katy Perry’s “Roar” but it’s how it works in my creative life. I once read a quotation that says something along the lines of “You always have two choices, to walk away or to try harder” and that has always rang true for me. There have been times when I have chosen to walk away, from toxic family relationships, from volunteer commitments that were no longer meaningful, or from business writing jobs that I instinctively knew would not be cost/beneficial for me to take. But, in the seven years I’ve been freelancing, I have never walked away from my writing. Honestly, I have never even been tempted to do so, even when it seems like I’m the only one reading my words.

So what does it look like to “try harder”? For me, it meant attempting something so far out of my comfort zone that I might as well be at the South Pole. What could possibly be that difficult and isolating you ask? National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it is affectionately known by participants). It’s been an unusual, but rewarding experience for me so far. Though I’m definitely shooting for the goal of  a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, I’m not thinking that whatever I produce will be publisher-ready and that the next time you see me, I’ll be riding off into the sunset with a huge royalty check clutched in my fist. Instead, I’m viewing this experience as a “test run” to see what writing a novel entails and if I am both interested in, and capable of, writing one. Here’s why I believe that this November will be beneficial for me

  • It makes writing fiction part of my regular work routine and forces me to write a specific amount of pages every single day. So far I’ve written about 7/day or an average of 1,450 words, much better than when I leave it up to chance.
  • Working on a novel is great for improving my technique. I didn’t go to college for creative writing and I don’t have an MFA. Therefore I have a lot of missing tools in my writer’s toolbox. To take on NaNoWriMo, I’ve had to work on plot structure, descriptions of characters and settings, and on how to escalate conflict. I’m also learning about which point-of-view is the most comfortable style for me to write in.
  • The final thing which I am hoping to get out of this experience is to learn how to be part of a writing community. I haven’t gone to any of the local writers’ events yet but I plan to before November 30.

Reading this over,  it seems that I should not only be thankful for my persistent nature but also that there are so many exciting and varied opportunities for us writers to take advantage of.

Wish me luck. As of today I’m halfway there!

Need a Creative Boost? Try This!

November 1, 2014

The critics don’t seem to be quite sure how to take the newly released “Birdman”, starring Michael Keaton and a host of other talented actors and actresses. Some feel like it’s a “self-indulgent mess” while others are raving about it. But my good friend Carla (an artist and art therapist) and I loved it! The movie is an interesting juxtaposition of black humor and profound revelations about the artistic temperament, hopes, and aspirations, that will have you laughing hysterically one moment and feeling an intense sympathy for the characters the next. Without giving anything away, the story is about how Riggan, who starred as an iconic superhero character, “Birdman” for years, has now decided to try his hand at a serious Broadway production, a Raymond Carver story that he hopes will legitimize his career as a “real” actor. Of course having this go smoothly would make for a very boring film. Instead, the audience is taken backstage where even the emotional levels have levels and the unexpected becomes commonplace as the internal and external pressures on the actors and actresses mount as the preview nights progress and opening night looms over them.

Keaton’s performance is masterful as he battles his family, his career, and his own inner demons. Throughout the movie he brings some of the artist’s worst fears to life. The voice of his “inner critic” is something we can all identify with, as is the scene when he gets locked out of his own theatre. His interaction with the New York Times critic is priceless and could have been a scene from a play in itself.

Mainstream theatre-goers may find this movie too weird or intense for their liking. But for anyone who has struggled to find themselves as an artist or tried to create something out of nothing, it’s sure to strike a chord. The takeaway message? Perhaps it’s that what’s real art and what isn’t is all a matter of perception. And that it’s never too late to change your course if you don’t like the one you’re on!

Two Tips on How to Be a Better Writer

October 24, 2014

Elizabeth George has always been one of my favorite mystery writers. First of all her characters are all so well drawn that you would immediately recognize any of them if you bumped into them at a party, first by their appearance or, failing that, by their manner of speaking. I’m positive I could pick Barbara Havers or Thomas Lynley out of a crowd in a matter of seconds. Secondly, it wasn’t until I read her book, Write Away, which I learned she wasn’t even English (where her books are set); she is actually from California! I swear her descriptions, dialect, and other indicators of setting are so realistic that it was next to impossible to have known this. What are this prolific author’s secrets you might ask?

Elizabeth George is certainly not the first writer to wax eloquent about the virtues of character interviews (or character prompts as she calls them). I first learned about this type of character development at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual conference two years ago. Though the idea of immersing myself in a character by writing down everything I know about them sounded intriguing, it also sounded like an awful lot of work so I put it on the back burner and continued to slog along, hoping that my stories would eventually just “fall into place”. I eventually realized that this was not likely to happen so, when George devoted a full chapter to character analysis including an example of how she used character prompts and what she calls “free-writing analysis to create one of her strong characters, I decided that it was time to apply the technique to some of my own characters. Much to my surprise I discovered that, not only does it work, it’s actually fun to do! It’s like being introduced to someone you’ve never met before and trying to learn everything you can about them through asking both general and specific questions. Specific questions can be about things like their physical qualities (height, weight, or hair color) or their background (where they went to school, who is in their family, or what jobs they’ve held). More general questions can focus on their strengths and weaknesses, their core emotional need, or a significant event that molded them into what they are today. Once inside your characters’ minds, it suddenly becomes a lot easier to see what they have to offer and where they’ll fit into your story line. After you’ve completed these sketches, George suggests that you highlight what you feel are the most important parts of them and keep your sheets by your keyboard to refer back to as you’re constructing your story.

When her preliminary research is complete, her second strategy is to visit the area she’s writing about (in her case England). Once there, she immerses herself in the local color, wandering around (sometimes with a destination, sometimes without) taking photographs that she can use later to draw her descriptions of various buildings, neighborhoods, and towns from. She finds that this also adds to the novel’s atmosphere. George’s perspective is that, if the setting is real to her, it becomes much easier to make it believable to the reader, a view I wholeheartedly agree.

Of course there’s much more to both of these processes than I can fit in a blog post! If you want to learn more, read the book. You won’t regret it!

What’s in my Midwest Travel Journal?

October 17, 2014

Just when I think I’m going to run out of things to write about the Midwest I return to visit my kids and, lo and behold, I find something else to write about it!

Where to stay next time you’re in Cleveland

Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade is my latest discovery. Not only was this hotel one of the most unusually constructed ones I’ve ever stayed in, with the Atrium and its high-ceiling rooms with views of downtown, but everyone that works there is professional, helpful, and just plain nice in that particular way Midwesterner’s have. Plus the bed, with six pillows of all degrees of fluffiness and a comforter that was soft and enveloping, gave me the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. There’s also a Starbucks in the lobby and valet parking so you don’t have to deal with meters and tickets. The Hyatt is within walking distance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an easy drive from other area attractions. It’s a little more expensive but totally worth it!

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The best Chinese food and pancakes in Cleveland

Li Wah, in Asia Plaza, offers contemporary Chinese dishes in an old-world atmosphere. The servers are friendly and efficient, and the food was to die for. It was literally some of the freshest and tastiest Chinese food I have ever eaten. The dumplings (pot stickers) were succulent, the flavorful filling a perfect complement to the dumpling encasing it which, for once, was not rubbery or chewy! The beef and pea pods had lean strips of beef and was overflowing with vegetables in a light, rather than gluey, sauce. And the pan-fried noodles were delicate and crunchy in their flavorful sauce. The only disappointment was the fortune in my cookie!

The next morning the kids and I headed off to groovy, psychedelic Coventry for breakfast. Now I am a pancake connoisseur from way back and have sampled hotcakes all over the country but the ones at the Inn on Coventry stand head and shoulders above the rest. The blueberry pancakes I had were light and fluffy, overflowing with fresh (not frozen) fruit and Russell’s lemon ricotta cakes were sinfully rich. Also” thumbs up”, the place was cheerily decorated for fall, the waitresses were a lively bunch, and the hash was made from real corned beef!

On to Indiana! I’m going to skip our visit to the pumpkin patch, though it was a good time, and focus on my latest discovery.

Taltree Arboretum and Gardens and Taltree Railway Garden in Valparaiso

I grew up in Rochester, NY with railroad tracks in my back yard so I’ve always had a soft spot for anything related to trains. The Railway Garden did not disappoint me. The elaborate, elevated exhibit is like a Lego Land of trains! Four model trains, including a circus train, were continuously weaving their way around the tracks, pistons pumping, through various landscapes in the intricate, waist-high diorama. For those who love history, interpretive signage explains the impact steam engine trains had on the early 19th century American railroads.  The trains and their stories are guaranteed to take you back to high school social studies class, only this time it will be more interesting!

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Much to my disappointment, we ran out of time before we could hike any of Taltree’s nature trails. The one I was particularly interested in passes a pond that is home to some Trumpeter swans. Anyone out there remember Louis?! Well there’s always next time…

The Waiting Game

October 7, 2014

I’m sure every writer out there knows what this means. As well as all of you who have been waiting for this next blog post, already a few days overdue… A lot of the writing life is a waiting game.  Some of the reasons you may find yourself waiting are internal, others external. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn was that sometimes you just need to be patient and sit tight, letting things evolve at their own pace. A few places where I frequently find myself waiting include:

Waiting for sources to return my calls or emails

One way to minimize this wait is to be very specific when you phone, email, or text someone about the article for the first time. Be sure to include what type of information you are looking for from them, a few days and times that you would be able to interview them, how long you expect the conversation to take, and when your deadline is. It’s also a good idea to contact a few different people, so at least you can be assured of hearing from one of them, and to have a backup plan, like a second angle you can take the piece in with a new batch of sources if the first one falls through.

Waiting for a meeting or event to begin

As a journalist, when you are covering a public event you often want a seat near the front, in case the speaker turns out to be hard to hear or understand, the microphone malfunctions, and so you’re close enough to get a few good photos. If you write for newspapers on a regular basis, you tend to develop an instinct about how popular a meeting or forum will be and time your arrival based on that. Who the audience will be will also influence this decision. For example, college kids tend to arrive about five minutes before the program begins and like to sit in the back seats so if I get there 15 minutes ahead of time I’ll be fine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, for my recent article on “A Conversation with Bill Gates” I had to call in advance, get a media pass, and arrive an hour early.

Waiting to get paid

Hands down, this is my least favorite type of waiting but there is no way to get around the unpredictable cash flow situation when you’re a freelancer.

Waiting to hear about queries or contest entries

This is always stressful and arduous. Depending on how busy editors are or how many contest entries need to be judged, it can take days, weeks, or months to hear back from anyone. In some cases you may never get a response!

Waiting for inspiration to strike

I find this kind of waiting the easiest because you can continue to go about your business, or actively troll for ideas, while you are waiting for something interesting to pop into your head. Inspiration can come at any time, in the shower, while driving, or when you’re skimming through the newspaper. Just remember to always have something nearby to write with, or on, when you’re waiting to be inspired!

What’s your waiting game like?

Banned Book Week Strikes Again!

September 26, 2014

Each September I find myself thinking “Gee wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to commemorate Banned Book Week in America?” Of course that day is nowhere on the horizon and, once again, I found myself incensed to read that, in Dallas, TX, Highland Park parents are trying to get seven books banned in the schools. In a barrage of emails and meetings attending by hundreds, parents asserted that the books they want removed are “Inappropriate” for students because they refer to things like rape, alcoholism, and abuse and expose kids to “the controversies and hardships of adulthood”. To me, this is beyond ridiculous. What student hasn’t heard about abuse or divorce or sex by the time they reach high school? And, if they can’t receive realistic information or have a safe place to discuss these unsettling topics and the issues and emotions they raise, like their home or their school, then how will young people ever be adequately prepared for “the controversies and hardships of adulthood”? Besides, most adults should realize that banning books to “protect” teenagers only makes them more desirable to read. Who out there is old enough to remember secretly reading Judy Blume’s books to learn more about “taboo” subjects our own parents were often unwilling or unable to discuss with us? Oh-wait, hasn’t she been on the banned or challenged list a few times too?

Every year I see ridiculous selections on the Banned Book list. The idea of forbidding Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey always makes me laugh, just like the naughty heroes, George and Harold, made our whole family chuckle for years. But some challenges should be taken more seriously. The one that incensed me the most this year was Jeannette Walls “Glass Castle”, which I believe is one of the best memoirs ever written. Not only does Walls cope with a dysfunctional family situation with a strength and character that often belies her years, she also is able to relay her survival tactics to readers with a humanity and humor that will stay with you long after you close the last page. Why anyone would find this book not fit for students is beyond me. If Jeannette Walls (and Sherman Alexie, another author on the Highland Park list of “must go’s”) could survive childhoods this difficult to become the insightful and compassionate authors they are today then why would anyone want to keep other kids in difficult situations from learning about the various survival strategies these two practiced? Or from seeing that it is possible to escape your past and create your own future if you just believe in yourself? The power of a good book to affect positive change in attitude and actions should never be underestimated!

To learn more about the Dallas controversy, check out these articles:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/park-cities/headlines/20140921-highland-park-isd-suspends-seven-books-after-parents-protest-their-content.ece

http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/read-the-powerful-anti-book-banning-essay-by-author-on-highland-park-suspension-list.html/

But, lest I appear judgmental to some, it isn’t only Dallas, or even just Texas that bans books. There’s a huge controversy over what books can be read in Arizona schools and libraries. Even Ithaca, New York, one of the most liberal, and literary, towns in America has had challenges to books in its school library over the years. This week, please take a minute to remind yourself why it’s so important to have a wide variety of books available to encourage, not only positive reading habits in kids and adults, but a love of discussion as well, the ability to talk about books and articulate what they mean to us. If you don’t like a book, you don’t have to read it. But please don’t try to tell me that I can’t read it either!

Now, for a final word from Sherman Alexie himself on why books should not be censored:

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2011/06/09/why-the-best-kids-books-are-written-in-blood/

What’s your favorite banned book?

What’s on my Bedside Reading Table?

September 23, 2014

Lots of good fiction to read this month! Some of the books have been so riveting that they’ve even kept me up past my bedtime.

The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

It’s every mother’s worst nightmare, outliving your child. So when Cully, Sarah St. John’s twenty-two-year old son perishes in a snowy avalanche in their hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado, Sarah feels like she is drowning in a grief that may never abate. Her retired father, her ex (Cully’s father) and best friend try to distract and comfort her to no avail. When she learns not one, but several, secrets it seems Cully had been keeping from her, Sarah starts to question just how well she really knew her son. So when a strange girl arrives unexpectedly in their town, claiming to have known Cully intimately right in the period before his death, Sarah isn’t sure what to think.

The characters each respond to their loss differently and they are so well-developed that you find yourself drawn into the aftermath of their personal tragedy and hoping that their grief will eventually find some resolution. Though Cully is never present in the story, through their recollections, he comes alive to the reader, so much so that you may find yourself mourning him along with those he left behind.

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

This book is a truly haunting story about what happens when diverse cultures and disparate people collide, much in the manner of The House of Sand and Fog (which I also found very compelling).  The opening scene of the book, where a wife (and mother of an Iraq veteran) attempts to seduce her husband, only to have him reveal that he’s in love with a much younger woman, will grab your attention immediately.

Then you’re introduced to a child protagonist, the young son of an immigrant family with an ice cream truck and parents who haven’t quite learned how to negotiate their new American lives. Bashkim wins your heart by page 10 and you’ll quickly find yourself rooting against all odds for his happiness and success in the land of opportunity. Finally, there’s Luis, his Abuela, and Dr. Ghosh, the military hospital psychiatrist whose lives become entangled with the Albanian family’s in what should have been the most ordinary of circumstance but turns out to be life-changing for all of them.

Set against the backdrop of Las Vegas, the city of sin and lost innocence, Mc Bride’s novel is a great illustration of how people, wars, and seemingly random events have the capacity to change your life forever. On the jacket, the author says her hope is that readers walk away believing that, though deeply flawed at times, humans are worth something and with this heartbreaking, yet redemptive, story she has far surpassed her goal.

And, the spellbinding historical fiction novel I’m just finishing now:

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles

Any book with endorsements from the likes of Jodi Picoult, Scott Turow, and Stephen King practically jumps off the library shelf into my arms. Even the length, 788 pages, was not enough to deter me. With a cast of unforgettable characters and the universal themes of race, violence, and the ethical issues related to the medical, legal, and journalism professions, the tome did not disappoint and held my attention right up until the last sentence. And oh what a perfect ending it was!

One of the more interesting features of the book is how it goes back and forth between the tumultuous sixties and the twenty-first century, allowing the reader to simultaneously see how much certain things have, and haven’t, changed over the years. The sheer amount of corruption and brutality of some of the characters may stun you but the goodness and morality of others reminds the reader that nothing is ever black and white, there are almost always shades of gray involved. This is the first book of Iles’ that I’ve had the pleasure to come across and I’m thrilled to see that he’s written several more for me to peruse. Happy reading!

Historical Societies: A Hidden Gold Mine for Writers

September 11, 2014

Historical societies may seem old-fashioned to those of us accustomed to having Google Chrome and Firefox search engines at our fingertips. In reality they are a researcher’s dream. And, the people who are work there curating, archiving, and helping the general public search for accurate or obscure information are an invaluable resource. Don’t let yourself be deterred by rumors that historical societies are only manned by formidable older ladies and that they don’t operate on the same schedule as the rest of us. Remember, some of the best stories and articles are the ones that pose the most challenges!

Though I’ve often written articles about historical societies in my neck of the woods, they’ve usually been about special exhibits (the Moog synthesizer, the history of Girl Scouts in our area, and the Living History tours come to mind) and have involved interviewing key staff members rather than delving into the artifacts and files in the research library. Given this, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I entered The History Center in Tompkins County the other day. I had a topic I wanted to learn more about but wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to know or how I would use the information (does this sound familiar to other writers?). Donna, the archivist, seemed unfazed by my request. However, she had a few requests herself before we could get down to business. The first thing I had to do was put my purse in a storage locker.

“Even my water bottle?” I asked plaintively.

“Yes!” she responded firmly, reminding me that there was a drinking fountain just down the hall.

My next question was about how I could take notes. Donna provided me with some pale green paper and a pencil with an eraser. Apparently no pens were allowed either. I sat at the small table feeling like I was back in elementary school which, surprisingly, was not a totally unpleasant sensation!

After some consideration, she told me where she thought I should begin reading, not in the 1950’s as I had proposed, but in the 1930’s. Handing me four articles, she returned to her desk and I began to read. In between reading and recording my impressions and observations she and I and one of the volunteers had a lively discussion about the historical implications of certain events and how peoples’ attitudes and beliefs influenced them. Not everyone is as interested in our country’s history and how it shapes our lives today as I am so it was a pleasure to be in the company of two women who were. I felt a genuine sense of regret when 5:00 p.m. arrived and it was time to close up. This was followed by a pang of fear that I wouldn’t be able to remember where we had left off when I next returned. I shouldn’t have worried; Donna had that covered too! Brandishing the information card she had given me to fill out when I arrived, she showed me the notations she had made on it so we’d know exactly where to pick up and not waste precious time trying to recall what I’d already read. Though I’d entered the History Center feeling apprehensive, I left it with a light heart. In fact, I can’t wait to return and experience the thrill of discovery once again!

Anyone out there want to share your favorite research haunt?

Unique New York: More than Just a Tongue Twister

September 3, 2014

This week I had the chance to experience two really cool things that New York has to offer. The first was the birth of a baby calf in the Dairy Cow Birthing Center at the New York State Fair. The second was the Wing Bobbing Contest at the 13th Annual Buffalo National Wings Festival. Throughout both events, I found myself captivated by the multitude of new and different things you can find to do, and write about, in New York State.

When I first decided to volunteer at the Birthing Center, friends and relatives were skeptical (to say the least!) But I learned a long time ago that if you want to be a good writer, you shouldn’t say no to any opportunity that comes knocking at your door. So I put on my sneakers and packed pens, a notebook, and my camera and set off for the Fair. The first surprise was not how many people stopped by to check out the exhibit, but how many actually stayed from the moment the heifer from Beck Farm in Freeville, NY had her first contraction until the calf, with a little veterinary assistance, emerged in a tumbled heap on a bed of straw. Many of these observers were people “on a schedule” and initially they’d ask things like “When is she going to have the baby?” or “How much more time?” But they soon seemed to realize that nature operates on its own schedule and if they wanted to see a calf being born they were just going to have to settle down and wait. In the meantime, the farmer and his two sons, the organizers of the event, the vet, and other volunteers cheerfully answered audience questions, from the sophisticated to the simple. I found myself humbled when a young girl asked me where the calf came out. Though I grew up with plenty of farms in the vicinity and had studied my volunteer manual religiously, I realized that I had no idea! Together we tracked down a more knowledgeable source and now we both know!

I learned so much more than this though. We all see cows grazing peacefully on the hillside and we all hear allegations about the use hormones and mistreatment of animals. The real truth of the matter is that most dairy farmers are in the business because they care about animals and want to contribute to feeding America. Farming is a business; cows are not kept as pets. Some of the farming tenets may feel “wrong” to those of us who have never been exposed to them, however the experts are able to provide reasons that make sense if you’re there to learn, not judge. Heifers provide the milk for the dairy, not bulls, therefore bull calves are usually sold within a few days of their birth. Calves are taken from their mothers once they’ve been licked clean, for health and safety reasons.

Farmers work 365 days/year to feed, house, and provide good veterinary care for their animals and they take this responsibility seriously and make an invaluable contribution to society. New York is the fourth largest dairy-producing state in the nation and most of its farms are family owned (some for many generations). Seeing “Boeheim” arrive in the world was not yucky or disgusting; it was amazing and uplifting. After all, the production of milk begins in the maternity pen, though not usually at the NYS Fair!

 

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At the other end of the state, the chicken was king. 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the revered Buffalo chicken wing and what better place to commemorate this than at the National Chicken Wings Festival in Buffalo, NY where it all began? We sampled as many wings as we could, most of them delicious, some a bit too hot for my tender palate, and several of them (like the Bacon and Maple Wing) unusual. We also took many photos, listened to the band, dodged a thunderstorm under a local radio station tent, collected all sorts of swag from various companies, and bought two funky t-shirts. The grand finale was the Bobbing for Wings Contest. Three applicants are selected to participate and this year men were vying to see who could pull the most chicken wings out of a child’s wading pool filled with Marie’s Blue Cheese Dressing with their mouth (no hands allowed). Messy? Yes! Even though the contestants are allowed to wear goggles, they become covered in the dressing. It was something I had never envisioned and may not ever need to see again but I’m glad I did it!

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Hope your last week of summer was just as eventful!

Fall Means Changes for People Too

August 26, 2014

As summer draws to a close and fall approaches, our family finds itself going through a lot of changes. My oldest son, a recent graduate, is looking for a job and facing student loan payments. My middle son, a junior in college, has a new apartment off campus, a part-time job, and a car both of which come with more adult responsibilities. And my youngest, who just returned to school the other day, is living in a suite with five other boys and has a full course load, a girlfriend, and an internship at the school literary magazine. My husband and I are once again contemplating our empty nest, but 2014 is no longer an adjustment/transition year. This September we have a good sense of what it feels like to be a couple once again, only this time with adult children.

Why is this important enough to blog about? Because what our family is experiencing is universal but sometimes, when everyone is struggling and suffering at once, it feels very isolating. Writing about our daily dilemmas is one way to share what’s working for us and what isn’t. Putting words to feelings makes them more manageable and often, as you write it down, what was initially a hopeless tangle of emotions suddenly unravels itself and a path to a better place emerges. Here’s the thing-when the kids were little it was our job to teach them all sorts of things, from how to tie their shoes to good table manners to knowing how to admit when they were wrong no matter how hard it was. Now that they are young adults our job actually becomes much harder because we have to trust that we gave them the skills to handle almost any situation that arises and we have to be willing to step back and let them succeed or fail on their own merit. That is really difficult to do, but in fact, saying the words “You can do this” or “You’ll figure it out” is the best gift you can give both your son or daughter and yourself. Gradually letting go means that you believe in them and in your parenting. Here are three ways I’ve used writing to help myself during this period of constant change.

Send a card

In this day and age sending something with a stamp may sound hopelessly old-fashioned but I’ve noticed that, when the going gets tough, a funny or encouraging card will still bring a smile to my sophisticated boys’ faces. Use the blank space to tell them how proud of them and the choices they’ve made so far and that you know they have the strength and intelligence and compassion to get through anything life hands them. Don’t forget to remind them you’re always there if they need to talk!

Keep a journal

This is where you’re allowed to write down all the things you want to do but know you shouldn’t. Vent all you want and then move on! Use a daily journal to refocus all the energy you used to expend on the kids on yourself and your goals. Amazingly, once you ease up on the twenty-something’s, you’ll have more time to spend on your career and personal aspirations. Write that novel, take a class, volunteer to lead a teen book group and keep telling yourself the same thing you tell your offspring, “You can do this” and “You’ll figure it out”.

Write articles or personal essays

As I mentioned, the odds are that you are not the only family going through all these readjustments. Articles are a great way to get paid while also being helpful to other parents. We all like to read about how others cope with or solve problems, and parenting young adults, restructuring your marriage, and reviewing your future are all fascinating topics for people in our age bracket. So, write away! Before you know it, it will be Thanksgiving and they will all be home again, along with a whole new set of adjustments to make!

Any other ideas? Please send them on!


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