Circling around to important questions

At today’s Tuesdays with Deborah session, we engaged topics that are asked by reticent bloggers and often revisited by experienced bloggers.

What is a blog? What is a blog post?

A blog is a collection of web content, usually writing. A readable blog post is about 200 to 600 words long. A good blog post is something that will be found and read by someone who is interested in a topic. What topics do reticent bloggers have in mind?

Where are blogs?

The best place for a blog is high on the list of search results returned to a search engine user. Readers find bloggers who effectively refine their understanding of relevant search terms.

Who blogs?

Writers blog!  Businesses develop, grow, and maintain customer bases through relevant and timely blog posts.  People with common knowledge and information needs find each other through the authoring of, and reading of, blogs.

When is a blog post visible?

A blog post is visible as soon as the author decides to publish a piece.  Writers with experience in printed materials can be assured that a “published” blog post can be changed after it is published.  Each blogger develops an sense of when a piece is ready for publishing. Each blogger develops an individual sense of how often to publish new content.

How are blog posts created?

Blog posts are created using a software tool such as WordPress, the software used for the Tuesdays with Deborah blog.  Blogging tools have features that feel like word processing: writing, formatting, and saving. A key difference between word processing and blogging is a “publish” mechanism for making content visible to readers.

The content of blog posts is developed through each writer’s unique writing practice. When is a good time of day for writing? Where is a good location for the writing process? What gets in the way of writing – distractions? Multi-tasking? The internal editor who gets in the way of first drafts being created? Some writers identify clothing that makes writing easier or harder.

Bloggers discover that developing the content is more challenging than learning software features for creating posts.

Answers to the previous questions of who-what-when-where-and-how all come from the question:

Why create a blog? What causes a reticent blogger to enter the world of blogging?

There are many right answers to the questions of what to write, how often to post, etc. Good approaches for any one blog come from on-going refinement of a blog’s purpose.

Understanding a blog’s purpose is not a pre-requisite for beginning a writing/blogging practice.  Discovering a blog’s purpose begins with an idea, leading to some drafts, leading to some publishing, leading to some feedback, leading to a refined understanding of purpose and how to fulfill the purpose.

The current writing challenge is “Passionate Observations.” Here are examples about New YorkDenver, and our own area.

Reticent bloggers are invited to register for the site, read and comment on posts, try out what feels like a word processing tool for adding a new post, and then take a deep breath and press the “publish” button.

Right now, the editor in my head wants a few things different about this post. But the writer will press the “publish” button, in this safe space, and the editor can have a turn on another day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be an author in Google

Last week, at the Tuesday’s with Deborah meeting, I brought up the new ability to be listed in Google as an author. Several people asked me how to do that. If you go to the following link on Google information about how to create authorship is available for your use:

https://plus.google.com/authorship

The nice thing about this is it when somebody Googles you or an article you wrote your picture will come up it will save by your name and it’ll have an additional link that says more by your name. It keys off your Google plus profile.

Hopefully this is helpful.

A story of our pets as teachers

A recent post by fellow-blogger Steve Kenagy brought back poignant, important, consoling, and peaceful memories.

One beloved cat (Ginger) simply stopped showing up. We never knew what her life was like after the day she did not show up for dinner. This cat (an independent-thinking, fun, challenging, and loving manx) had “shown up” in our lives, at the start uninvited, but Continue reading “A story of our pets as teachers” »

Writing session after TwD – Part 2

I told the following story about grocery rescue, my TwD friend captured it and emailed me a first draft. It is one way to write together. We will write together again June 5, from 2:45 to 3:45, and other TwD participants are welcome to participate. Tomorrow I may be giving editorial feedback on a collection of my friend’s writing. It is inspiring to be in the company of writers.  Join us by the fireplace at Friends, Philosophy, and Tea for a second cup of tea; draft your next blog post, be part of the conversation a bit as we all improve our writing practice. We will discover how to move our writing along.  Here is what my friend and I made possible in less than an hour last week:

I wish there were more “grocery rescue” volunteer drivers.  That way, it would be easier to find a substitute driver when I go on vacation. Being a grocery rescue volunteer is a very important part of my life.  In less than three years I have personally carried more than 15 tons of donated food to the local food bank, and the only cost to my family has been 2 hours per week of my time plus the gasoline to drive 2 miles per week.

How much money would I have to earn to feel as though I could donate 5 tons of food per year?  That’s 10,000 pounds!  For reporting purposes, a food bank might value donated food at a dollar a pound. So food bank arithmetic would tell me that a dollar value of the food that I carry each year is about $10,000. I do not feel as though I have $10,000 every year to give the food bank, but I do feel as though I have 2 hours every week to give the food bank. And my 2 hours a week makes it possible for the food bank to obtain the fresh food that my local supermarket is eager to donate – extra that they do not wish to throw away.

I wish more people would donate time to their local food banks, so that there could be more grocery rescue drivers and more substitutes for us.   The Food Lifeline Network is the umbrella organization through which my local grocery rescue operation takes place; Hopelink is the social service agency that operates my local food bank. The experience enhances my life, values, and community connections.  It has formed me and benefited my family and me, every bit as much as any food bank client has benefited from the food obtained by my participation.

Writing session after TwD – Part 1

At every TwD session, I make notes for writing I would like to do Right Away. I know I am not alone. Another group member and I have decided to plan on staying at the gracious space of Friends Philosophy and Tea after the TwD session to do some writing….. sometimes in silence…. right after the session.

Here is the emerging idea, and you are invited:

TwD proceeds from 1 until 2:30. We “break” from 2:30 to 2:45 or so to finish conversations, stretch, refill our tea, etc.

At 2:45 we gather near the fire, perhaps, or at the tables set up for teahouse guests, for an hour. We encourage each other by simply being together in that gracious space.

When I depart TwD and I get involved in “other projects,” I experience a delay before writing a draft of the “great idea” inspired by the TwD session. I want to capture the inspirations. I can see that my writing practice could include reserving Tuesday afternoon from 1 until 4 for the double benefit of the Tuesdays with Deborah session, followed immediately by an hour of writing.

Last Tuesday, my friend Sharon who was at TwD for the first time began to say, “I need to write about the day that…..” I said: “Simply tell me the story. I will capture it, and you will have a first draft to work with.”

Sharon and I enjoyed a chuckle, later, about the results, and we will reverse the process the next time that we are both at TwD – perhaps Tuesday May 29.

If you feel inspired by the TwD process and want to stay with other writers for one more cup of tea, please join us.  It will be a challenge to not chat the hour away, but we are Writers developing Writing Practices.  Wonderful things that we cannot even imagine will emerge from writing for an hour after TwD.

On June 4, I added a post called “Writing session after TwD Part 2”

Our weekly TwD Writers’ Conference

Yesterday’s session opened with the ritual passing of Deborah’s Chinese porcelain mirror into which we looked and said, “Mirror mirror in my hand, who was the leader of The Band?”

No wait. That wasn’t the question. That was my timid humorist identity making an appearance alongside the usually-out-front sincere-ist identity. Our actual ritual was to look ourselves in the eye and say, “My name is Liz and I am a writer.” (Sometimes I write new words, such as “sincere-ist;” I’ll bet other readers of this blog also have fun inventing words.)

I once posted that claiming my identity as writer has helped to unblock and animate some of my other identities that need to work together toward the common good of various projects and responsibilities.

Deborah, as a writer, writing coach, teacher, leader, guide, and generous-hearted person offers at our Tuesdays with Deborah sessions a seemingly limitless supply of techniques, such as the suggestion that we free-write. Every weekly session results in practical, useful, do-able writing inspiration. As Deborah says, “Authentic writing provokes.” It certainly does.

The weekly sessions remind me of writers’ workshops I have attended.

I have attended the four annual “Search for Meaning” Book Festivals at Seattle University. This year, I attended sessions by two poets, by a writer in the field of ethical leadership, and by a writer of many genres including humor. The festival takes place each March.

Recalling the surprising benefit obtained by this non-poet in a workshop led by poet Frances McCue, I wondered if she has scheduled any local workshops in the near future that I might recommend to TwD peeps.  I came upon a two-day writers’ conference offered by Whatcom Community College.

Weaving many threads together in this post, I am grateful for the weekly writers’ conference that TwD is for me (and I think for others). I value the experience, the relationships, and the writing encouragement. I note that my next opportunity to attend a McCue workshop would be at a $259 two-day workshop.  Wow!  That is a little “less” accessible in the commitments of time, driving, and money than the weekly TwD sessions that happen just up the street from my home, every week, accompanied by a reluctant but practical invitation to help cover the cost of the space by contributing something less than the cost of a movie ticket.

I am eager now to read everything that has transpired in this community space during the month of April.

The in-person part of our collective writing practice(s).

Musing about the life-giving energy of the Tuesdays with Deborah sessions.

Different every time.  A topic that “wants” to emerge always emerges.

Sometimes the energy  is “amped.” Sometimes meditative and receptive.

The process has “unstuck” the writing I need to do. I write here as “Good Listener” to avoid, with extra caution, for a while, any risk of trampling on any vulnerable person’s privacy, and I have known and journeyed with many.  As I develop a writing practice I will learn how to feel confident in avoiding harming others’ privacy. This space is a safe laboratory to keep a writing practice going while I learn enough WordPress, while playing with only a few posts, to develop a platform for my own voice and presence at wisdomandheart.com.

I felt like a rock star when the circle said, “Oh, … YOU’re Good Listener.”

I also saw Leona as a rock star when I recognized her when she came in… first time we have been in the circle at the same time. I am a fan of many people in the circle, and their hearts and skills and professional identities and presences. I have made new friends and benefitted from group members’ professional services (not to mention itechieguy.com by name).

I am eager to see Joni, and William, and Gerald, and Karen, and Peter and others again. Janice and I write because of a common caring for…. people our own age and older. But a bit “differently,” and I want to read and re-read her posts. I could name, and link to, others in the group who have inspired my writing  this week, but I am about out of energy for looking up the links.

I feel as though there is a certain shared “work of the community” that emerges, although Deborah is, of course, the “leader with followers” and she is a capable, wise, facilitator and…. shaper? nudger? I recall the acronym “STAR” from a couple discussions ago, but I cannot remember what it means. Maybe John Erdman will remind us.

Generosity abounds and makes me eager to be part of the generosity.

Writing tonight with gratitude that can hardly be contained in words. Partly because I have completed a ten page draft on a technical subject. Before becoming part of the group, I had the same knowledge, but somehow, not the… spirit…. to translate one part of it into a first draft that elevates complex financial protections into plain language. I will keep working on it. Yes, I could publish a ten page white paper, but the world will be better served when I can break it down into ten separate posts, appropriately linked, so that every reader of TwD could “enter” the topic, and then “learn more,” or not, as they choose.

Not an easy writing practice, but it is, apparently, a challenge that is uniquely mine. If Medicare could do it, then “Chapter 30” of one “Internet-Only Manual” would not be 300 pages long!  Their work may be legally “defensible,” but it is also incomprehensible to ordinary, extraordinary, informed, motivated people. We each have a role. They have to answer “all” the questions, I like to answer real humans’ questions in language that real humans use.

I could improve this post by whittling it down to 250 words, but it is more important in The World that I whittle my ten page doc into ten separate posts. I can do it with your help. Previous posts have demonstrated that I “can” whittle something down to 250 words. I will not allow a temptation into “perfectionism” to make me think that “every” post on this safe space must conform to that useful standard. Thank you, my TwD community, for being you in the world.

By The Way…. I will not be at the April 17 gathering of TwD.   A memorial service for one of my beloved elders will occur that afternoon. I will spend the time driving others of his elderly beloved friends to the gathering.  This man was not a blood relative of mine, but he is one of my, of our, beloved elders, just the same. I will be in community all the afternoon, just not the community of my writing peeps, but rather the community of Our Beloved Elders and their Loved Ones. You will be with me. Do not ever doubt that.

Writing on protections against financial abuse

Checking in to let the Tuesdays with Deborah peeps know that I am taking on the challenge of writing about the financial protections that exist within Medicare and within Long Term Care regulations so that our beloved elders and disabled may not be victims of financial abuse.

There is more than one kind of financial abuse. The truly difficult and subtle kind is at the hands of family and friends who use a vulnerable person’s money and other assets for their own benefit.

The more obvious and solvable kinds are usually errors (sometimes not errors) made by health care providers in the excruciatingly complicated landscape of Medicare and regulation.

Yes. The landscape is complicated. The health care providers promise to “get it right.” What informed consumers need to understand is the one, or two, pieces that protect them from even unintentional financial abuse.

It is still complicated. And I am taking on the challenge of elevating it to the language that readers of wisdomandheart.com will be able to understand.

You could call this “meta” blogging” a quick post about the series of posts that are in development. I cannot do it without Tuesdays With Deborah and its virtual community.

Taking a deep breath and hitting the “Publish” button. To me, this is kind of a promise to this community to attempt some English language writing of a topic that is so simple in concept, and so complicated in practice, that most writers….. run away screaming at the tops of their lungs.

Stop Doing It or Start Charging For It

Wow! This empowering, liberating, affirming, respectful, and somewhat scary message dominated part of the March 27 TwD session. Karin Q was the good natured, curious, courageous, authentic, valuable expert whose knowledge base and practices were the subject of discussion. What a gift to the group that we could all hear, and hopefully learn, so much in the “laboratory” discussion around what is near and dear to her heart.

Later in the day, I felt a jolt! I have already established a market rate for the personal advocacy I have done with friends and family for twelve years! Some years ago, a young adult friend was hit by a car and sustained disabling injuries. She had no local family, and so our family simply said, “We are your family.” I was with her every day for a while, then intermittently for a long time. It was gift. It is simply “what we do in the world.”

But there came a time that she said, “You have always said it isn’t about money, but the reality is the responsible party has taken responsibility for this situation and I have received a check. You gave me the gift that you could give when I needed it, and I fear you will not allow me the same privilege.” I said, “My friend, of course I will accept a gift with gratitude. Just as you did. But this was never a marketplace transaction between us.” We did not discuss numbers, she simply wrote a check that represented value. And let’s just say that no one needed to fear getting in trouble with the I.R.S. over excess gift taxes, but….. the gift was sizable.

The details of that year have faded from my memory, but I knew our discussion yesterday applied to me in some way.  All afternoon I wondered, “what would be a market value for my expertise?” To my surprise, these events came back to me. I did the math in my head and called my friend saying, “I am so grateful for a gift you have given me that I never appreciated before right now. So I called you immediately. Remember the events of all those years ago? Well…. because of you, I can say to future clients, ‘my going rate is [a certain amount] per hour.’ ”

I came to TwD hoping to gain what I needed to simply write a blog that others might benefit. And that will happen. Soon. I have developed content and a blog name, acquired a domain name, and I depart today on what I regard on a WordPress learning retreat. I hope to have a blog to share with you next Tuesday.

I never imagined it might be the start of an income stream. It is not an income stream the family needs to keep the lights turned on, but value is value. The words “Stop Doing It or Start Charging” apply to me.

A Eureka! Moment in Writing

I have been working on a writing project – a training session on a subject of great significance for residents of long term care and for people who care about them. The subject is: “the individualized care plan,” known in some places as “the negotiated service agreement.”

My Eureka moment occurred when “the thesis statement” percolated to the top. I felt as though it “rose from the depths” of the swamp of important details in which I have been immersed.

And here is the thesis statement:

Residents of long term care are vulnerable because of age, or illness, or disability, or the need for rehabilitation, and they deserve a high quality of life and a high quality of care. This high quality standard is protected by comprehensive laws and regulations. A “care plan,” called “a service agreement” in some settings, is the instrument that describes, for one resident, how a variety of services will be integrated as providers fulfill their responsibilities to the resident’s care and quality of life. This one instrument – the care plan or service agreement – is, therefore, a useful “starting point” for understanding the landscape of long term care, and the individualized quality of life guaranteed to each resident.