She Writes University Classes–Free Until May 31

I am happy to pass along a gift from my publisher, She Writes Press, plus SparkPress. Together they are offering free She Writes University classes. Timely since we, writers/authors, are sequestered in our homes because of COVID-19. I, for one, will be happy to learn something new while taking a break from thinning out my files, learning how to digitalize hundreds of old photos and chaining myself to my desk to work on book #2, and last but not least, snacking most of the day.

Thanks Crystal, Brooke and the digital team.

I hope you enjoy the following classes.

 

Dear Authors,

Last week we notified you that we’d be offering several She Writes University classes at zero cost. A dozen of these classes are now up and available—for you and to share with your friends and networks.

These classes will be free for 60 days, until May 31. They can be viewed by entering your email address, and you can browse the offerings here:  http://shewritesuniversity.com/free

We hope you’re all staying healthy and strong. We’re thinking about all of you every day.

—Crystal, Brooke, and our amazing digital team who put this offer together.

Webinar Series

FREE UNTIL MAY 31

Usually $197, these courses span hours of materials that breakdown how to edit, prep and publish your book like a pro.

These She Writes University classes are coming out of the vault and are available only until May 31, 2020.

Watch for more classes releasing each week!

 

 

 

Best Tips for Writing in the Time of a Pandemic

I found the best advice for writing in the time of Covid-19 in BREVITY’S Nonfiction Blog, Wednesday March 18, 2020. Written by Brenda Ridley

I am reblogging here:

 

 

Ten Tips for Writing While Quarantined

by Dinty W. Moore

by Brenda Ridley

Assuming that you are up and about during the COVID-19 pandemic, you could view this period of social distancing as an unexpected gift to your writing life. That’s the attitude I’ve adopted as I decide how to use my time while exiled from my job for two weeks.

Last week, Pennsylvania’s governor ordered schools state-wide closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The small independent school where I double as admissions coordinator and office manager complied. While the risk to our students of COVID-19 exposure is probably low, we could not in good conscience remain open while 99% of the schools in Philadelphia shut down. Ours is a very small school but, luckily, one with digital resources that teachers can use for online instruction. Most of my work time is spent on the phone, making sure that teachers have the resources they need, the office runs smoothly, and performing first aid in the absence of a school nurse. I have some online tools that I can use, but only a couple projects that I think I can finish at home. That leaves some open time periods during the day that I don’t usually have for writing. Here is my plan for writing while quarantined with some suggestions that you might find helpful:

1) Keep a schedule. It is so tempting to sleep in when you get up before six o’clock every weekday morning and now don’t have to. But if you don’t set up a schedule for the week, you’ll wonder where the time went and why that essay you started three months ago still isn’t finished. I’ll set my alarm for 7 a.m. and plan to start writing at 9, after exercise, breakfast, and kitty time. I have better focus in the morning, but you should create a schedule that works for you; just schedule your writing time no matter what.

2) Limit socializing. Life as I’ve known it has temporarily shifted. Everything is closed: my yoga studio, the public library, my writing group is on hiatus, even my church is practicing social distancing. Of course you can call, text, or email friends and family, but don’t do it all day. Your pen or keyboard needs you to propel it. Block out a social hour or two when you can catch up and commiserate with everyone each day.

3) Reconnect with your partner, your kids, or your pets. I rush out of the house early on workdays and don’t usually come home until almost six. I see the kitties briefly when I feed them breakfast, but there’s no time for cuddles and chatfests. My partner is still asleep when I leave. While my schedule is more flexible I can carve out some time for canoodling when I’m not drifting off to sleep and muttering incoherently. Imagine the boost some quality time can give to our relationships.

4) Eat well and rest. I enjoy cooking but don’t like to spend all day at it. When home for the day I usually prep dinner early so that at dinner time there is less to do. Doing most of the work early in the day makes it more likely that you’ll eat better instead of grabbing fast food or ordering a pizza.  And set a reasonable bedtime that ensures you get enough sleep. A poorly-fed, sleep-deprived writer might produce something, but is it something you really want others to read?

5) Get outdoors at least every other day. There is plenty of evidence that walking outdoors, forest bathing, hiking and other activities make you feel better. My attitude improves considerably when I’ve returned from a brisk walk.

6) Turn off your television. Too much news is not a good thing, and a lot of conjecture by pundits and talk show hosts isn’t news. All of the chatter about COVID-19 is increasing people’s anxiety. If you must know what’s happening with the virus on a daily basis, choose one reliable news source and limit yourself to 30 minutes of “information” per day. Your nervous system will thank you.

7) Put your writing house in order. I know I have two weeks before I return to work or am told to stay at home a little longer. I’m a writing newbie and don’t have tons of projects to work on, but I have at least three essays I’ve not been able to finish. My modest goal is to finish at least one of them and to develop a strategy for completing the other two. If I stick to the schedule I’ve set for myself, I think I can accomplish what I’ve set out to do.

8) Read. No need to say more.

9) Stay open and flexible. COVID-19 has made a fast and furious impact on everyone I know, even though none of my friends or family members have contracted it. All of the twists and turns science is taking in order to get a handle on this virus require us to think about how what we do impacts someone else. Stay flexible enough to shift with the tide of events and follow the lead of experts who know what they are talking about.

10) Finally, breathe and write; breathe and write some more. I came to writing as a late bloomer but quickly found it to be a practice that I can pour almost any emotion into. Some of those scribbles are just for me, not an audience, but writing helps me to clarify my thoughts and emotions so that I can get the junk out of the way and focus on what I want to say. So, breathe and write your way through if you’re quarantined. Appreciate the gift you’ve been given.

Computer Crash

I have been without my computer for four days so I didn’t work on today’s post. I didn’t have a computer to track any other posts that I could reblog. I didn’t want to scratch out a new post longhand. Maybe I could’ve been more aggressive or use my I Phone to pick up the slack in order to get a post out today, but I didn’t. This rant serves as an informal publication. I decided that not having access to my computer let me off the hook. Frankly, it was liberating. I enjoyed the forced separation from my constant sidekick. The computer is my portal to writing and without it I am free to pursue other activities—like shopping—even if I don’t come home with any purchases. When did I last have lunch by myself?

Not to be productive, to me, is paramount to being slothful. I am a writer and must write and/or complete one book promotional action every day. Well, how about I am also a person who enjoys a day off or a moment to enjoy myself without guilt. If my computer is not working how can I feel guilty not accomplishing my daily goals?

Sadly, my computer was up and running as of 6 pm yesterday. I didn’t rush to document this morning’s post. In fact, I put the writing off until now. I will be back to my routine soon.  In the meantime, I am holding on to this wonderful guilt-free break for as long as it lasts.

What Was My Memoir Really About?

This guest post was written for She Writes Blog on November 29, 2018.

My book, Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers, took me about seven years to complete. I couldn’t seem to rush the process. A mentor told me “the book will take as long as it needs to take to be done.” And only after I finished the book did I understand what my story was really about.

My nursing career covered forty years. As soon as I retired I began to record those years starting with nursing school. When I reached the early 80s, a tug in my gut told me that I couldn’t go any further. During that time I was the coordinator of a not-for-profit clinic in Chicago targeting the underserved elderly. Throughout the years, I always remembered the clinic as being totally different from any other job I ever had. Located on the tenth-floor of an apartment building for low-income seniors, the open door policy allowed anyone to walk in—with a heart attack or carrying a loaf of zucchini bread.

As a new nurse practitioner (I had been a registered nurse for twenty years before I went back to school to become an NP), I narrowly viewed my role as a health care provider. I would see patients in the clinic for illnesses or health maintenance. That the elderly had multitudinous social and economic problems initially eluded me. Or was it that my lack of education in geriatrics, a new specialty at the time, that contributed to my misconceptions?

Many of my patients’ stories were captured in a journal that I kept while I struggled with the dilemmas that challenged me—patients choosing between food and medicine, or were victims of family abuse, or targeted by scam artists from the community. I often vacillated whether I had any right to step in and take over a patient’s finances or change the locks on the doors. With no road map, I fumbled along, sometimes butting heads with my staff in deciding how to intervene. 

I learned that what I wrote initially in the book was not a clear map of what I wanted to convey. I just wanted to tell this story. But what story? My memory cast my co-workers in roles that inhibited my progress. With each rewrite, I softened my harsh critique of others and uncovered some detrimental actions that I had initiated. My insight became sharper when I let the story percolate in my head rather than rushing to rewrite. Reflection and patience, albeit over seven years, finally enabled me to be truthful to what happened in the tenth-floor clinic.

In retrospect, I see that having a preconceived notion of what I wanted to write had caused me to miss what was behind the real story. My belief about the stories from the tenth-floor clinic stemmed from what I remembered—my truth at that moment. The passage of time has a way of rearranging recollections. It was only after examining my place in my memoir that I uncovered what the story was really about, even if I had already lived it.

The book took as long as it needed to take to be done.

Spotlight: Marianna Crane

This appeared in the September 2017 Erie Family Health Center Donor Newsletter

 

Anniversary Spotlight: Marianna Crane

 

Over thirty years ago Dr. Sally Lundeen, a nurse and Erie Family Health Center’s first Executive Director, spearheaded a project that would provide care for the underserved elderly right where they lived. The Senior Clinic* opened on the 10th floor of an apartment building on 838 N. Noble, then managed by the Chicago Housing Authority specifically for low-income elderly residents. Marianna Crane was one of the first nurses to join Dr. Lundeen in this endeavor. She had recently left the VA Hospital, disappointed that, due to a lack of funding, she wasn’t able to provide the specialty care she knew that the elderly there needed.

Crane was at the forefront of a shift in health care, one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners at a time when geriatrics was barely beginning to be considered a specialty. The idea that older people required a different approach to care wasn’t yet mainstream, and many doctors weren’t interested. But Crane had grown up with older family members whom she cherished – her own grandmother lived to be 104 years old – and she believed that a change in approach to elder care was long overdue. “During school, I had two classes in geriatrics,” recalled Crane. “Chronic Disease I and Chronic Disease II. It was the older people on the job that taught me what was really important about nursing.”

At Erie, Crane, along with her collaborating physician, Dr. Olga Haring, cared for patients in the clinic while staff members visited isolated lonely seniors, monitored people’s medication, and even arranged breakfasts and luncheons for those who couldn’t afford food. Crane quickly realized that meeting the physical needs of the elderly was only one aspect of care. She witnessed older people being emotionally or physically abused by their family members, and older people with depression or other mental health issues who needed someone to talk to. When she would make home visits, she was often unsure what she would find on the other side of the apartment door. She waded her way through hoarders’ stuffed living spaces, nursed sick alcoholics, and worked closely with an ambulance service to ensure critically ill patients were delivered to the right hospital. But she felt that this was the care she needed to provide. “It was such a unique model of nursing, and the job was so different from anything I had done before,” she said. “Our community nurse would give exercise classes including swimming lessons at Eckhart Park. We brought in a podiatrist, negotiated reduced fees with a local ophthalmologist. We’d host free breakfasts every single Friday. It was just so unique.”

Crane was with Erie for five years before moving on to provide home care at the VA Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. She is now retired and is an active volunteer at a local hospital, where she serves as co-chair of the Patient Advisory Council, recommending ways to keep patient care running smoothly and efficiently.

Crane is also a writer (check out her nursing blog at nursingstories.org) and is working on her first book, a memoir about her experience at Erie Senior Clinic. The book will be published by She Writes Press at the end of August 2018, and Crane has generously pledged that a portion of the proceeds from the book go towards patient operations at Erie Family Health Center.

 

*While the Erie Senior Clinic has closed its doors, Erie remains committed to serving elderly patients and connecting them with the resources and referrals they need for a healthy, comfortable life.

 

 

 

THE TIME IS RIGHT

Taking a Blog break. This post appeared on March 10, 2013.

Nursing Stories

A friend deliberated whether she should visit her father for his 95th birthday. She was swamped with commitments. Since he was unaware of his birthday as well of his surroundings and didn’t even recognize his three daughters, there was no urgency to travel to another state.

However, she cleared her schedule and made the trip, as did another sister and a niece. Both lived out-of-state also.

As it turned out, on his birthday, he had a choking episode with difficulty breathing. He stopped eating and died three days later, surrounded by those he loved who otherwise would not have been there had they not come to commemorate the day he was born.

This story reminded me of a patient I cared for back in the early ‘90’s when I worked as a nurse practitioner in a home care program. I had made a first visit to an elderly man…

View original post 409 more words

Nurses’ Books Need More Media Attention

In my last post, I told you about a couple of books I discovered—short story collections written by nurses. Lynn Rosack wrote a comment on my last post reminding me that Echo Heron, whose book I covered, Emergency 24/7: Nurses of the Emergency Room (2015) had written other nursing books. One of them, Intensive Care: A Story of a Nurse (1988) 51VcTG4-YzL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_made the New York Times best seller list. She also wrote Condition Critical: The Story of a Nurse Continues (1994) and Tending Lives: Nurses on the Medical Front (1998).

 

Here is a short list of other memoirs by nurse authors, in no particular order:

 41U7irryyOL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_

  • The Door of Last Resort: Memoir of a Nurse Practitioner by Frances Ward (2013)

 

  • 411iSrLW3gL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor’s Journey of Faith and Self by Lois Roelofs (2010)

 

  • Beautiful Unbroken: One Nurse’s Life by Mary Jane Nealon (2011)41w2BzudSjL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

 

  • Cooked: An Inner City Nursing Memoir by Carol Karels (Second Edition 2005)41r3T9B3MZL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

 

  • 419bJlkfr1L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent (2002)

 

In researching books by nurses, I discovered a wonderful resource: books.google.com. I had no idea that there were so many books about nursing by nurses —from a book on the Public Health Nurse from 1919 to a new book not yet released by Josephine Ensign, Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling Through the Safety Net (2016).51uC4Vf+BXL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

 

The books I found on googlebooks.com included stories about frontier, hospice, school and rural health nursing, and military nurses in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other settings. (I am limiting my search to nurse authors from the USA).

I am impressed with the scope and number of nursing books out there—although these numbers are nowhere near those of physician authors, and physician books attract more media attention. Great that we nurses are writing our books but we still need to find a way to gain the attention/publicity that physicians receive when they publish their books.

Keeping Creative Juices Juicy

stock-photo-21838815-used-paintbrushA few years back I took an acrylic painting class. Sometimes, while the ever-present radio played a Mahler violin concerto, an aria from La Traviata or Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire, I would spin about whipping color on my canvas, feeling “in the zone.” My mind would disconnect from my hand, which moved independent of my intent. What surprised me most about the fallout from this class was that I improved my writing ability. I was looser, more adventurous, and, best of all, my inner editor became subdued. I am looking to recapture that feeling.

I have always loved to paint and draw, however, over the years I painted only when I had a class. And I have a treasure-trove of supplies, such as canvases, watercolor paper and tubes of paints, not to mention many half-completed paintings stored in my office closet.stock-vector-vector-seamless-pattern-with-palette-tubes-of-paint-brushes-and-paint-stains-hand-drawn-vector-249868591

I took a 3-hour workshop yesterday—a primer in watercolor. Supplies were furnished. Our instructor demonstrated simple techniques that we—all women—replicated on 5 X 7 inch sheets of 140 lb. Cold Press paper. FullSizeRender copyQuick. One fluid motion. Don’t dawdle. Don’t over think. Don’t go back over the stroke. Don’t compare yourself to your neighbor!

After the class, I felt rejuvenated. In two weeks I’ll start a six-session class, and if I like that teacher, I’ll sign up for more classes. And I’ll set up my paint supplies in a corner of my office.

I know that making art has positive affects on the brain. As I get older I am seeking as much help to keep my creative juices juicy.19551922-creativity-brain-vector-illustration-template-design

 

Creative art pursuits provide older adults with multiple benefits, not the least of which is enhanced cognitive function.

Throughout history, artists have known that art provides benefits for both the creator and viewer. Current studies in the fields of art therapy, music therapy, and other creative modalities confirm that art can affect individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing. We know that, in general, exercising our creative selves enhances quality of life and nurtures overall well-being. We all are creative—not just a select few.

. . . Several studies show that art can reduce the depression and anxiety that are often symptomatic of chronic diseases. Other research demonstrates that the imagination and creativity of older adults can flourish in later life, helping them to realize unique, unlived potentials, . . .

Erik Erickson’s eighth and last stage of psychological development culminates in an integration of the individual’s past, present, and future to confront the conflict between integrity and despair. The result can be either despair or wisdom. When older adults pursue activities that are based in meaning, purpose, and honesty, they can attain the wisdom and integrity about which Erickson writes rather than experiencing longing and despair. Therapeutic art experiences can supply meaning and purpose to the lives of older adults in supportive, nonthreatening ways.

Neurological research shows that making art can improve cognitive functions by producing both new neural pathways and thicker, stronger dendrites. Thus, art enhances cognitive reserve, helping the brain actively compensate for pathology by using more efficient brain networks or alternative brain strategies. Making art or even viewing art causes the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.

 –Barbara Bagan, PhD, ATR-BC

 

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Luther

I received my memoir manuscript from my editor this past week. Thankfully, she hadn’t any issues with structure. (I’m not counting the many grammatical errors she found that I thought I had addressed but still missed).

Since the last version of my book, I have changed the title, dropped five chapters, deepened some others, and added more about gerontological nursing.

Here is chapter 10 that I dumped. It repeats a lot of what is in the first chapter of the book.

I am writing about a time in the early 80s when I worked as a nurse practitioner in charge of a recently opened geriatric clinic housed in a one-bedroom apartment on the 10th floor of a senior high-rise on the Westside of Chicago. I am new to the role and stumble with the unexpected. Mrs. R is an 80-year-old volunteer that serves as the clinic receptionist. Luther is the building custodian.

 

LUTHER

 

I heard heavy footfalls shuffle into the waiting room and Mrs. R’s shrill voice ask, “Why, whatever is wrong, Luther?”

I ran out of the exam room just in time to watch Luther, grimacing in pain, flop down in the chair next to Mrs. R’s desk. Sweat beaded on his nutmeg complexion. His overalls were dotted with blood. He gripped a towel that was wrapped around his upper arm.

“I was fixing a window. The glass cracked.” Luther’s words came in breathy bits. “Cut me.”

He was one of the custodians in the building, a short, sinewy man with a generous smile and warm personality.

I moved on heavy legs toward Luther as if wading across a pool: slow and deliberate. Standing in front of him, I could smell his sweat mixed with the musty, sweet odor of blood. I hated the stench of blood. Trying to suppress my gag reflex, I grabbed his wrist and held his arm up over his head hoping that gravity would slow the bleeding.

“Where did you get cut?” I asked.

Luther pointed to the underside of his arm still covered with the towel. With my free hand I applied pressure. Soon I felt the wet, stickiness of his blood steep into my palm. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome hadn’t yet walked into my medical world, but the thought of what might be under the towel made me want to vomit.

No one else was in the office but Mrs. R and me. I didn’t want to tell her to dial 911 until I knew what I was dealing with. Still nauseated, I forced myself to concentrate on Luther’s injury.

“Do you think there are any pieces of glass in your arm?”

“The window didn’t shatter.” Luther’s voice was tense.

He was still sweating and breathing rapidly. His eyes darted around the room as if looking for a quick way out.

Maybe my own nervousness showed.

“Luther, concentrate on breathing more slowly. In. Out. In. Out.” I breathed along with him. “Good. That’s it.”

After a few minutes Luther stopped sweating and my nausea dissipated, but my arm trembled with fatigue holding Luther’s arm upward. The blood from the towel began to congeal. The bleeding probably stopped but I still needed to see the wound. Not something I was anxious to do.

“Okay, let’s put your arm down.”

Luther rested his arm in his lap. I put Luther’s other hand where mine had been.

“Press,” I instructed, “while I get some supplies to clean you up.”

I kept half an eye on Luther while I scrubbed his blood from my hands in the sink across from the waiting room. While his breathing had returned to normal, his eyes still darted about the room as if watching for some unexpected calamity.

I laid the supplies—a bottle each of iodine solution and sterile water, tape and several sterile gauze pads to replace the towel—on the edge of the Mrs. R’s desk and went back to snatch a tourniquet, quickly slipping it into my lab coat pocket, praying I didn’t need to use it.

Snapping on a pair of disposable gloves, I braced myself for the worst.

“Let me see what this cut looks like.”

With shaking hands, I slowly peeled the towel from his skin with my right hand. My other hand clutched two thick gauze pads that I would slap on the wound if it were still bleeding. Trickles of sweat from my brow dripped down my face and over my eyes blurring my vision. My imagination slowed me down. What was under the towel? Muscle and bone? Shards of glass? A gaping wound spewing blood? If that happened, I would need to apply the tourniquet and tell Mrs. R to call 911. I decided against alerting her ahead of time. Luther might pass out from the expectation.

Caked blood covered the wound. No fresh bleeding was evident. The muscles in the back of my neck softened.

“I cut an artery, right Miz Crane?” His eyes large with worry.

I tossed the bloody towel into the wastebasket by the desk and wiped my eyes with the back of my hand before I answered.

“I need to wash your arm so I can see better, but I don’t think you cut an artery.”

Luther exhaled slowly and his shoulders relaxed.

The laceration was about three inches long with even edges and deep enough to need stitches. I told Luther my assessment.

Mrs. R had fixed her gaze on Luther from the moment he arrived. I raised my voice to get her attention.

“Mrs. R, call Sam Levy and tell him to come up here right away. Thanks.”

Her body jerked as she snapped out of her trance.

“Why Sam?” Luther asked.

“Sam’s your boss. Your injury’s workman’s comp. He can drive you or pay for a cab to get you to the ER for stitches. And probably get a tetanus shot. Do you remember when you had one last?”

“No.”

While Luther and I waited for Sam, I reached over and poured some of the iodine solution onto the gauze squares and slapped it on the wound.

“Ow! Ow!” yelled Luther.

Blinking back tears, he searched the floor as if he were embarrassed to have yelled so loud. How dumb of me, I shouldn’t have used full strength iodine on the wound.

All I could say was “Sorry, Luther.”

After Luther and Sam left, I thought how easy it was for anyone to walk into the clinic and expect immediate service. Rather than acknowledge my own inadequacies, I blamed Karen Cranston who hired me. She should’ve told me I would be running an emergency room. I didn’t have the supplies or equipment to handle unexpected events. I didn’t acknowledge that even she couldn’t have predicted how the clinic would operate.

I was flying blind.

While Mrs. R looked on, I dragged the mop and bucket from the closet and washed the blood from the floor.

 

 

Make My Mother Proud

I’ve mentioned that I’m rewriting the manuscript that I thought I had completed. Besides adding more about gerontology, I am digging deeper into the dichotomy between my bent for caring for older persons and my difficulty getting along with my own aging mother.

Living with Mom had never been easy. Being an only child of a narcissistic woman meant everything I did, or didn’t do, reflected on her self-worth. Back in my blue-collar Jersey City neighborhood in the early ‘60s, where most of my peers didn’t seek education beyond high school, the fact I had become a nurse was a gold star on my mother’s bib apron. I walked the three blocks to and from work at the city hospital in my white uniform, carrying my starched white cap, sometimes stopping to chat with neighbors and fend off questions about health issues.

Soon after I had graduated from nursing school, my mother and I were visiting a cousin. My cousin was much older than I. I had spent summers with her and her husband while growing up, escaping the hot city and my overbearing mother. We sat in the kitchen of her Levittown home drinking coffee and finishing off the last of her home made pineapple upside down cake.

“What should I do about all this drainage coming from Sugar’s ears?” my cousin asked me. My mother leaned back from the table waiting for me to expound on possible causes. She wanted me to know all and be an expert on everything so I could spout off advice and make her proud. She didn’t react when I claimed I didn’t know what was going on.

But later, as we drove home, she reprimanded me. “Why couldn’t you just tell her what was wrong with Sugar?”

“Mom,” I argued, “I know nothing about dogs.”images-1

Sugar was a Cocker Spaniel.