Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Re-print of a guest post I made in 2010

 

Acckk!! Where's That List? By Chelle Cordero


Organization, or rather the extreme lack of it, is the bane of my existence. As a self-employed – and too broke to hire assistants – writer, I have to keep track of my different projects, deadlines, invoices, bills and other “I gotta do it(s)”. Organization has NEVER been my forte. I am tempted to say I thrive on chaos, but that only seems to expand the piles of papers and JUNK. sigh…

Yet to survive as a writer, or at least manage to hang on to the dream, I have to keep track of what I am doing and when it needs to be done. Sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming, but I’ve learned a few tricks.

To-do lists – very important. Not only does the list serve as a reminder of those things to be done, it also helps keep you on track. I’m sure you’ve heard the joke of the person who started out looking to address a letter, but they needed their glasses – while looking for their glasses they came across something else they meant to do, and so on until the day was over and they sat down exhausted at the table to find they never addressed or mailed the letter. I hate to admit this, but that really should be my biography, truly, that’s me.

I keep getting distracted by things I come across during my pursuit to accomplish just one thing. My to-do list helps me snap back to what I am supposed to be doing and helps me keep my focus. Besides, I leave plenty of room on the bottom of the list to write in all the things I came across to distract me so I will eventually get those done as well. And I don’t try to finish the list every day although it is nice when I’ve accomplished the bulk of it; I just copy the balance to the next day’s list.

Calendars can help keep you afloat. I carry one in my pocketbook and keep a full size one on my desk – these are regular old fashioned write on it yourself calendars. I also maintain a webmail calendar that I can set up to send me periodic email or text-to-phone reminders. Occasionally I do have to sit and coordinate each calendar to make sure I have the same info (ie: deadline dates and appointments) on each. Having a calendar at hand is a great way to make sure I am not double-booking myself or missing important dates. I also include social obligations and religious holidays since those can affect my availability. Some of my friends use the electronic calendar feature of their phones, that can work, but I prefer something I can easily look at and scribble on at will.

I keep a “project book” next to my desk. There are various methods you can use here – keep your lists individually, by date, by client (for multiple assignments) or just assign a sheet or two for each month and list an upcoming deadline appropriately. If I scheduled a blog visit, have a deadline, am hosting a blog stop, have an appointment or anything that will alter my time commitments, I list it here. This is in addition to my little note on my calendar(s). I check things off and even make a few notations about the job and or results so I can refer to it the next time I have a similar task.

When you are feeling overwhelmed with too many things to do, the stress builds and causes distractions and headaches. I work at home so my distractions may include family or neighbors, social phone calls or housework you just know has to be done. Caller ID and answering machines should be used to the fullest extent when you don’t need to be interrupted – I’ve gone so far as to turn off the ringer when I am really feeling frazzled.

As for interruptions from family, close a door or even hang a sign if there is no door saying “I am at work” and demand compliance. Plan a timed schedule for any must-do’s that you simply fee you can’t ignore and don’t devote more time than allowed. Finally, if you are really overwhelmed and stressed and reacting badly (as in you can’t seem to accomplish anything), take a break – yep, walk away from your desk and work and relax for at least fifteen minutes.

I hope you’ll find some of these helpful tips useful. For me, I am getting back to work – WHAT WAS I DOING when I thought to write this little ditty?

BTW, Just to let you know that I have since "modernized" my methods and NOW have an ALEXA on my desk to remind me of so many things... good gosh, she can really be annoying!



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Bringing the Past and Present Together

 

We're still doing ZOOM meetings, and in a way that's really great because it allows many of us to "get together" no matter how many miles separate us.

 

I went to college at Fordham University at Lincoln Center (NYC). I was part of a terrific Theater Department. Some of our alumni went on and made careers in the theater (or movies or TV), some dabbled in other arts like writing (me!!!!), teaching, and various other lives. While some remained in the city, others scattered across the country and even around the world. And with the power of the internet and the capability of virtual meetings, we've been able to hold a couple of get-togethers face-to-face..

 

True, some of our old gang (talking figuratively, not literally) aren't present, some aren't interested, some have other obligations. But for those of us who do make it, it is a wonderful opportunity to chat and bring our friends up to date in our lives. For the hour and change we spend together it's a wonderful respite and a momentary return to our youth and dreams.

 

While we exchange tidbits about our current day lives, the changes, our joys, and in some cases worries, we seem to magically return to our old selves, the young adults who faced the world with excitement and determination. Even if we've had a long interval since we communicated and even if our contact now is relegated to occasional Facebook comments, actually having the chance to talk and laugh, share, and care about one another is an absolute boon to our lives.

 

Our school was special, maybe not really any more than others, but we felt so connected in those years and THAT made it special. We laughed at jokes that only those of us who were there can truly understand. Our college years, all school years, helped to make us who we are. These are people that we shared common interests with, we shared experiences… we grew.

 

And so to my fellow alumni, thank you for being in my life — again.



.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Invisible

There are those of us who hide invisible illness, chronic conditions, pain and fatigue as much as we can. No matter how we hide sometimes it is unavoidable and it’s frustrating when the invisibility turns you into what others may assume is a hypochondriac or just lazy. While we function at home, in jobs, with our families or running errands around town, and we don’t look for excuses…

 

But sometimes the pain or fatigue gets to us and we need a little time to recoup, to rest, to let an analgesic help a bit, or to simply catch our breath and those are the times when someone, usually well meaning, comes along and suggests that perhaps we should get to bed earlier, or keep moving to stretch the muscles, or not need so many bathroom breaks, and many more bits of advice. The truth is that no one else, unless they’ve been there, understands what we go through and sometimes it actually hurts when they tease and call us lazy or slow. These same people do mean well but unless they see a cane, a wheelchair, a placard in our car window or other aids to help a person function, they just don’t understand.

 

None of us wants to wear a banner across our chests or announce to perfect strangers what our invisible condition may be. Our invisible conditions aren’t contagious (if they are we know how to protect the people around us), they don’t make us any less of a functioning and contributing adult; some children also suffer from invisible conditions. These syndromes can make us weak, cause pain, make us dizzy, short of breath, hungry, thirsty, and make us so tired we can’t keep our eyes open. Most times we manage our symptoms and if we are lucky some of us can even forget for a brief period that we have a “condition” — maybe that’s why it’s so easy for others not to realize that sometimes the symptoms do get the best of us.

 

The following is not a complete list but includes some of the types of conditions that are not always obvious to others: depression, anxiety, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Celiac Disease, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, migraines, Crohn’s disease, narcolepsy, food allergies, arthritis, hypoglycemia, colitis, IBS, epilepsy, Lyme Disease, Lupus, asthma, Meniere's Disease, phobias, hyper/hypo-active thyroid, and many more. Most laypeople reading this partial list will not be familiar with most, if any, of these conditions. There are even several doctors who are unfamiliar with the presenting symptoms and there is often misdiagnosis. Sometimes the patient is even told that it is all in his/her mind.

 

While many with chronic conditions have developed coping skills and can manage work and other activities with little interruption, some people do need extra consideration, and some cannot manage to take care of their home without help or hold down jobs. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) “an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.” There may be provisions to help an individual but many of us know that if we let a potential employer know that there may be days we won’t be up to doing our jobs the chances of being hired go down, so we don’t put our invisible condition on record. …when we call out sick too many days, well you have an idea of what happens.

 

The next time you see someone waiting for an elevator just to go one floor, or parking in a handicapped spot (WITH a proper placard) but doesn’t “appear” disabled, or someone asks for help to carry something (and you can help), or even just walks slowly, please don’t be so quick to criticize. Realize that maybe that person coming out of the handicapped stall in the bathroom needed the higher seat because of a back problem. And just because you saw your co-worker dancing at the holiday party it doesn’t mean that he/she can do the walking at the company golf-outing, it just may be an off day. While admittedly there will always be someone who cheats and takes advantage, most people do what they are capable of and know when they need a little help. While some people with an invisible illness may feel comfortable in letting you know about it, they are not obligated to prove anything to you.

 

To your health! 



Wednesday, January 5, 2022

AND LOOK WHAT GROWS

During the Gregorian month of January, begins the Hebrew month of Shevat, the 11th month of the Hebrew year. Shevat this year begins the evening of January 13, 2022. The 15th day of Shevat is known as Tu B'Shevat, the Holiday (or New Year) of Trees.

 

The tree’s primary components are: the roots, which anchor it to the ground and supply it with water and other nutrients; the trunk, branches and leaves which comprise its body; and the fruit, which contains the seeds by which the tree reproduces itself.

The spiritual life of man also includes roots, a body, and fruit. The roots represent faith, our source of nurture and perseverance. The trunk, branches and leaves are the body of our spiritual lives—our intellectual, emotional and practical achievements. The fruit is our power of spiritual procreation—the power to influence others, to plant a seed in a fellow human being and see it sprout, grow and bear fruit.
(Chabad.org)

 

When Mark and I moved to our new home a few years ago, we took joy in the amount of land our home was sitting on (much bigger than our previous home). I started to take every seed I could from our fruits and vegetables and planted these around the property… I planted apple, orange, cherry, avocado, and pear pits and seeds. We got a few pine tree saplings and planted those as well. And I even replanted some acorns that had sprouted roots. I have no idea if or how long any of these will grow, but I imagine that one day someone will wake on our piece of property and face a literal forest.

 

In a discussion today about Shevat and Tu B'Shevat, I thought of the adventurous optimism that comes from planting seeds, both literal and symbolic. We plant seeds in good faith that SOMETHING will grow, maybe it will be something we expected… and then maybe not. After all, who knows if the avocado and cherry seeds will somehow grow together? And considering that I left no marking of where I buried these seeds, there could well be a surprise as to what result is achieved. There is excitement and hope that we will see the "fruit" of our labors, and I am sure there will be laughter and joy at whatever happens to sprout.

 

Isn't it so appropriate that we can compare the trees to humans? In life we stake out our personal territory, we "put our roots down", and we spread our ideas and ideals hoping that someone will be convinced and continue spreading these beliefs. We hope to stand tall and be noticeable, to protect our loved ones with our shade, to nurture our families with our fruits, and to drop our seeds to let others grow. And even if we fall or get chopped down, we hope that our form can warm and comfort others.

 

In the meanwhile, I'll keep walking our property looking for signs of growth and am both excited and hopeful at whatever may come to be.

 


 

 

 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

December 28, 1975

 

Forty-six years ago my sister fell down a flight of stairs…

 

We were on the way to my wedding. Our parents had already made their way out to the car, my sister and I were the last to leave our parents' apartment when she tripped over the gown bag that she was carrying. She laid crumpled at the bottom of the flight of marble steps between the second and third floors in the Bronx apartment house where we were raised. I don't remember if it was my brother-in-law or me that ran to get my dad.

 

While she laid there in obvious pain, her concern was that she was making me late to my wedding. While my dad and her husband made an assessment about whether she needed to get to the hospital, I ran back into my folks' apartment to use the phone. In the years before the popularity of cell phones, I hoped that someone would answer the phone at the catering hall – no answer and no answering machine to leave a message. I was so frantic that my fiancĂ© wouldn't wait.

 

Determined not to ruin my wedding my sister argued with my dad and her husband that she just needed help to get to her feet. Leaning on the two of them, she managed to hobble her way down to the car. Fighting traffic all the way, we finally reached the site of the planned wedding and reception out in Queens. I cried in the backseat of my parents' car and kept an eye on my sister, brother-in-law and nephew in their car.

 

My husband-to-be's younger brother was pacing across the entryway when we got there. I got out and burst into tears telling him what had happened. He ran in to assure my betrothed that I had arrived and told him and explained about the delay. My mom dabbed my eyes with a cold washrag to try to minimize the puffy eyes from my crying and she helped my sister get her gown on before she got herself dressed in a hurry. Finally, we were ready — the next step was our "First Look" and then photos while our guests munched on hor d'oeuvres in the next room.

 

The ceremony began. My 4-year-old nephew, my sister's son, was our ringbearer… we all laughed when he stopped the ceremony demanding that the Rabbi bless our rings. Then our attendants began their walk down the aisle. My sister, my Matron-of-Honor had a huge smile and looked beautiful as she wore her beautiful gown and a pair of everyday shoes, she couldn't walk in the matching heels she had planned after taking that fall. And Mark and I were married in front of all four parents, our siblings and dearest friends. The reception had its own tsuris (troubles); my mom, a diabetic, had a bad reaction from her worry, refused to go to the hospital and spent most of our reception lying down in the bridal suite.

 

At the end of the reception, in the middle of a snowstorm, Mark and I finally drove away to begin our new life together. It was 45-miles to our apartment where we decided to spend our first night as a married couple and since we didn't have a phone in the apartment yet, Mark stopped at a pay phone and carried me, in my gown, over a snowbank so that I could call my parents and make sure my mom and my sister were really okay. After being reassured, we finally spent a romantic evening as Mr. and Mrs.

 

The next morning, we headed off to our honeymoon in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This wonderful week began our wonderful marriage, still filled with lots of ups and downs. Through the years we shed tears as we buried our parents, celebrated as we bought a home, rejoiced as we raised our remarkable children, a daughter and son, watched nephews and nieces grow, survived health scares, and finally retired.

 

Life goes on still filled with joys and tears. This past year we sadly buried my sister, and we celebrated as her eldest son, our ringbearer, became a grandfather. Three years ago, we made a move to our "retirement" home, a beautiful house in the great Pocono Mountains — kind of where it all began.

 

I love you Mark, now and forever.



Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Reading the Fine Print

 

Sometimes it seems that "everyone" is trying to coerce you into wrong decisions, scam you out of money, fool you into thinking you have no alternatives… It is TIRING!

 

Most of us really don't have any major problems with comprehension, and many of us are just looking to be treated fairly, the same way we prefer to treat those around us. (Okay, I admit, some do look to get away with whatever they can, but not most.)

 

I get calls daily, sometimes more than once a day, telling me that "your car warranty has expired…" Heck, I haven't owned a car in at least eight years! And oh my goodness, heaven help us if we dare to click on a Facebook ad, we'll get put on every possible email list and then some… and too often if you try to make a purchase you either never see the product or it winds up that your charge card is used multiple times WITHOUT your approval.

 

I realize that there have always been scammers and con artists, but lately it seems to be everywhere you turn. Even sitting at your own computers in your own home is risky — did you ever get one of those authentic looking popups saying your computer is infected and just click here to clean? DON'T! And I can pretty much guarantee that no one in Nigeria is going to offer you millions if you give them your bank account number.

 

There are so many DON'Ts these days. DON'T push any buttons to remove yourself from a call list! DON'T store your credit card numbers on your computer! DON'T correct the info someone allegedly has and has to verify before sending you that "surprise"! DON'T dial back that phone number from the most recent nuisance call – you'll either negate that Do Not Call rule or you won't even reach the scammer and find they have spoofed some innocent's phone number. And definitely DON'T run to buy that gift card to send so that your phone doesn't get shut off or some such nonsense.

 

Aren't times tough enough without having to dodge every scam thrown your way? Most people are just trying to survive, pay their bills, stay healthy, and spend time with family. It is downright annoying when you receive an onslaught of email messages from your "favorite" social media site saying that they received "your" request to change your password, and you click each email with "No that wasn't me", and yet they keep on coming. And it is highly unlikely that your local State Police Department is selling you raffle tickets over the phone.

 

One very, very cruel hoax that is commonly pulled on the elderly is a phone call about a "grandchild" in trouble… car accident, jail, stranded in a strange country. The caller will pull as much information together as possible to totally frighten the loving grandparent and manages to con them into giving financial info over the phone. Meanwhile the grandchild is safe and unaware that dear old Grannie is now shaken to the core and totally ripped off of her savings. How can people be so heartless?

 

Another popular scam is when you go to sell something online. The potential buyer, usually long distance (allegedly) offers to mail you a check, and they do, but somehow they have included extra so that you can afford the shipping and then you will reimburse the excess. So in good faith you deposit the check, give it a day or so to "clear" and then send the overpayment by Western Union while you wait for delivery instructions. But then, lo and behold, the original check is pulled out of your account! But you are still out of the money you "refunded". Note that your bank will hold a check for so many days before it is permanently deposited in your bank account, find out how long.

 

Do yourself a favor and learn about Common Scams and ways to protect yourself from sites such as https://www.usa.gov/common-scams-frauds and https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam. It can be a cold cruel world out there, arm yourself with knowledge.

 

And by the way, the IRS is NOT going to call you on the phone about your overdue payment!

.



Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Dream, Dream, Dream…

Do you remember your dreams each night? Do you sometimes wonder if they REALLY were dreams, or perhaps something more ethereal? My husband claims he doesn't dream, I think he just doesn't remember them.

 

I know I've often dreamt of loved ones who have passed, those are often delightful dreams. It wonderful to have moments where I feel as if I've visited or been visited by people I love who are no longer earthbound. Most times I wake in the morning with a rather nice feeling, so many times I wish the dream had lasted longer. Many have said my dreams are only my memories or imagination and while they may be pleasant, they aren't real — I call these folks cynics.

 

When my sister and I were little girls we both had dreams of being told bedtime stories by our maternal grandfather, the man had died long before we were even born. Often in the mornings we would tell our mom about the "nice man who told us bedtime stories" (not always together, so we certainly weren't mimicking each other). Curiously she asked us about this "mystery man", we each described him and her eyes widened, and then we told her some of the stories he told us… seems he was telling us some of the same stories he would read to her as a little girl. We agreed, this wasn't any simple dream.

 

The other night I had a bittersweet and amusing dream. Since we were first married, we've always had multiple cats and since cats have a shorter life expectancy than most humans, we have unfortunately had to bury several. Each one has remained in our hearts. My dream seemed a little odd, my husband and I were both in it… we were visiting "someplace" which I didn't recognize, and we were surrounded by lots of talking and standing-tall cats and dogs, some of whom called us Mom and Dad. In my dream I remember being in awe and saying, "These are cats and they're talking!" Each was excited to talk to us and tell us they were having fun and they were okay.

 

Then, in my "dream" (shortly before I woke up) we had to leave. We went down a level and I looked up and they were there waving, I asked "Aren't you coming?" and whoever was guiding us towards an elevator said "They have to stay, but you'll see them again." I actually felt a bit happy when I woke, I felt as if I had been visiting them after a long time. Maybe it was a dream, but then again, maybe it was more.

 

During Friday evening services in our synagogue we sing a song Shalom Aleichem, basically we welcome new angels and say goodbye to others. Depending on the faith you believe in, angels can be messengers, and sometimes they can carry you to visit loved ones, or the other way around, while you sleep. Unfortunately, we can't simply order up a "trip", it just happens, I guess, when it is supposed to. It is a comforting feeling to know that occasionally we are permitted a glimpse of loved ones and perhaps a little conversation. Maybe our loved ones can become our own Guardian Angels.

 

Maybe it's the angels helping us, or maybe it is really just dreams — what do you think?