Tag Archives: blogging

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time! Doing One Thing That Scares You

woman thoughbubble

Submitting a proposal to give a beginning-level workshop on blogging –  quite cleverly titled “Blogging 1o1” – seemed like a good idea.

At the time.

Last summer when I emailed a suggested course outline to The Writers Center. After all, if I could learn how to start a blog on my own (with some tech help, I admit), then anyone can start a blog. And if you are self-taught, then surely you can teach others?

Or as Eleanor Roosevelt (one of my personal heroes) once said:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Beginning on Tuesday, January 12th at 11:00 a.m. at The Writers Center in Bethesda, Maryland (a wonderful non-profit about 10 minutes from my house that offers hundreds of writing workshops), I will be doing one thing that scares me. Not every day. Not sure I could handle that. But on January 12. January 19. January 26. February 2. Two hours on each of four days in early 2016 when I will certainly be scared.

(Or as our 2-year-old grandson recently said before boarding a Big Plane, “I scary.” )

I know just how he feels.

My husband reminds me that when I began this Blog in May 2014 I had no clue as to what I was doing. I had taken two courses at the Writers Center, written a bunch of essays, had a few of them published. After I recovered from the shock of seeing my words in print, I decided I needed a regular venue for my writing.

And hence a Blog was born. Witty Worried and Wolf.  Chosen to sound like the name of a law firm. I practiced law for 33+ years but sadly, the name of the firm was never changed to include mine. Here was my chance to see my name in lights – albeit self-appointed.

What about the “imposter syndrome,” I wondered? The one that regularly haunts me (perhaps you too?), that makes you second-guess your own abilities and accomplishments. Even when something you do receives praise from people who are not relatives.

The imposter syndrome kicked into its highest gear when I was in my second year in law school, having unwisely chosen to take a class called “Unfair Trade”. We would learn about prohibitions on deceptive and unfair trade practices, misleading advertising and the Federal Trade Commission.  Straightforward enough subjects, I thought.

Then mid-way through that fall, the professor brought out the centerpiece of the curriculum – a ridiculously complex, much misunderstood federal law called The Robinson-Patman Act of 1936. The R-P Act was – and is, as far as I know – a rarely used antitrust statute passed in the wake of the Depression to prevent large buyers from getting better prices than buyers with lesser economic power.

Even the Supreme Court called the R-P Act  “complicated and vague”.

I felt as did the Supreme Court.  Adding to my dismay, the professor announced that 50% of our grade on the final exam in “Unfair Trade” would be based on questions relating to the R-P Act.

I was doomed.

Imagine my surprise, when a few weeks into January, our final exam grades were posted, and I saw that I had received a 94 in Unfair Trade.  An “A”! Must be a mistake.

Such was my disbelief that I made an appointment to see the professor during office hours. I recall walking in, sitting down in the chair across from his desk and he asked:

“Miss Wolf, what can I do for you?”

“Ummm, I took Unfair Trade this fall? I just got my grade? And I received an A? I don’t understand?”

(note my early use of female upspeak)

The professor looked at me – this time the disbelief was his.

“Miss Wolf, are you asking me to change your grade? To lower it?”

Two seconds of reflection, then.

“Sorry, Professor, I shouldn’t have come. Thank you for seeing me.”

 

And I hastily retreated from his office.

Since then, I am pleased to report my self-confidence trajectory has improved. I did graduate from law school. I did practice law. I did become a partner. I did have clients who thought highly of my legal abilities. Over the years I repeated these words as a mantra whenever the imposter syndrome threatened to overcome me.

Back to Eleanor Roosevelt. And the one scary thing.

Blogging was scary for me – at first. Writing posts came easily enough, but putting my own words out there into the marketplace of ideas for public examination – what could be more frightening?

I also quiver each time I’m forced to learn the tech stuff that goes along with blogging. What, I asked, when I first got started – are plug-ins, SEO and widgets?

After 20 months of blogging, I know just enough about plug-ins, SEO and widgets to explain what they are; happily leaving it to others who wish to plumb the inner depths of fascinating blog tech tips.

I am much more interested in the words, in helping the participants who sign up for the workshop find their own audiences, craft posts that resonate with them and put them out there for public viewing.

And yes, last week I called the Writers Center to ask if anyone has signed up to take my workshop, always in self-doubt, perhaps secretly hoping that the workshop would be cancelled for lack of interest.

But 12 brave souls will join me, all may be saying as they enter the room at the Writers Center – “I scary” – – – me, too!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1st Grandchild, Baby Boomers, Blogging, Communications, Law firm life, Law School, Lawyers, Midlife, Second Careers, Social Media, Women, Writing

Sisters, Sisters…Never Were There Such Devoted Sisters.

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In the past few days, perhaps because of the subliminal effects that the Christmas season is having upon my brain, I have found myself singing  “Sisters, Sisters”, the song that Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen sang in the wonderful old holiday movie “White Christmas.”

Do you know it?

Sisters, sisters,

There never were such devoted sisters…

Caring, sharing,

Every little thing that we are wearing.”

(Note: it is o.k. for Jewish people, me included, to like both this movie and the song because (a) it is a lovely movie and (b) the music in the movie was written by Irving Berlin. Who happens to be Jewish, fyi)

(Further Note: Yes, I recognize that “White Christmas”  is an old movie. Released in 1954. And no, I am not so old that I saw it when it first came out.)

Recalling this song made me think of my devotion to and the devotion from my funny, clever (and only) sister who promised me several months ago that she would write a Guest Blog Post for me – but has not.  Despite Frequent Reminders.

Admittedly, she is busy. She works hard at her job, her kids are younger than mine, one in the throes of applying to college and the other in the throes of struggling through astrophysics (if that exists, which I doubt, that is his college major) and she buzzes around town with friends and volunteer activities. She also lives a few miles from our 91-year-old Dad and stepmother, and for this I am forever grateful, cooks a three course dinner for them every Wednesday night featuring items from the 1950’s culinary hit parade such a fruit cup, meatloaf and angel food cake.

But Too Busy to Write a Guest Post for your Big Sister’s Blog? Even though you promised you would do it?

I am not holding a grudge, honestly. I will just have to write the Guest Post for you.

If my sister were to write a Guest Blog Post, she might start by telling you that when we were younger I was not always the nicest of older sisters.

I did once, when we were teens on an early spring vacation with our parents at a golf resort lock her out onto the terrace of our shared hotel room. What can I say? She was bugging me. Then, as now, I like to hang out. She likes to do things. I talk a lot. She talks even more. I must have gotten annoyed by her and somehow tricked her into going out onto the outdoor terrace of our room in the high-rise hotel that overlooked the golf course below.

Maybe I accidentally locked the sliding glass doors and left her outside. Maybe it was purposeful. Who can remember?

What happened next was that our parents, off in the distance on the 16th hole or something, playing golf with a nice couple they had just met, heard very loud shouting. Very loud shouting coming from somewhere high above them on the side of the hotel that faced the golf course. Screams, girlish in nature. Where can those screams possibly be coming from, asked the nice couple they had just met? Later our Dad, after he had calmed down somewhat, told me that right away he knew what he was hearing. The sounds of my sister banging on the sliding glass doors and screaming at me to be let in. After a while I did so. She may still hold a grudge.

Perhaps I was retaliating against her for one of her earlier devious moves. The one when I was packing to leave for my first year of college. She tricked me into leaving my bedroom when I was in the middle of sorting through which sweaters to bring.

(You should know this about me: I love sweaters. I have stacks of them. While other women like shoes or jewelry, I collect mostly wool and a bit of cashmere.)

And my sister well knew about my sweater love. So when I came back to my bedroom and searched for my favorite fair isle cardigan and my new pale yellow cable-knit sweater, she feigned innocence. Nope, she had no clue where my sweaters were. So off I went to my freshman year of college without (at least) two of my favorite sweaters. Perhaps now is the time to reveal that at Thanksgiving of that year I did discover said sweaters hidden under her bed. I don’t hold a grudge.

When I wasn’t locking her out of hotel rooms and she wasn’t stealing sweaters, we did get along fairly well.

She was (still is) four years younger than I am. So she was entering high school just as I was leaving. Same with college. Our paths and friends didn’t really cross. I was the Susie Student Council type. The most radical thing I ever did was once listen to a “Jimmy Hendrix” record that an older boy gave me (I didn’t like either the boy or the record.)  My sister was more of the bon vivant type and to hear her tell it, had quite the social life while I was busy studying. But because she was the baby of the family, my parents looked the other way. Or so I thought. Of course, I don’t hold a grudge.

Our childhood memories differ. She remembers more about the old neighborhood and even older friends since she still lives nearby and I don’t. She bumps into people from our growing up days at the supermarket, at restaurants and at the movies. She will call me on the phone and tell me, “I  saw Bobby Lerner the other night, do you remember him, he lived around the corner on Curtis Terrace? He had a younger sister named Sharon. He’s married now, two kids. ”

I have no idea who Bobby Lerner is or was. But my sister does and she knows all about him now and will likely stay in touch.

What my sister won’t tell you in her Non-Existent Guest Blog Post is that she talks to everyone, anywhere she goes. Everyone.

Of course, she could tell you that none of the above is true. That I didn’t lock her out of that hotel room and that she didn’t “misplace” my sweaters. That she really didn’t get away with all sorts of mischief when she was in high school while I had to obey the letter of the law (a/k/a Dad). And that she really doesn’t talk to everyone she meets to the point where her own teenagers, who may have mentioned this to Aunt Nancy (me), once or twice, now refuse to go on errands with her because a stop at the CVS can take hours if she runs into someone she knows or even someone she doesn’t know.

She could counter all of these allegations if she wrote the Guest Blog Post for me. The one that she promised to write a few months ago. But is Too Busy To Write.

Let’s hear her side of the story, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Blogging, Family, Holidays, Relationships, Women, Writing

What Apples, Honey, September and Writing Share in Common

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It seems odd to me that September, a month which turns the corner towards fall, is also a time of many new beginnings.

The holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the start of the New Year according to the Jewish calendar, began on Wednesday night, September 24, so happy 5775 to those of you who celebrate it as I do.  (and aren’t we lucky that we don’t have to start writing 5775 on our checks? I have enough trouble getting 2014 right each time. And yes, I still write paper checks. I haven’t switched to an all e-commerce world – yet.)

Another new beginning in September is the start of the school year. One of my kids returned to college this fall, to finish what he started some years ago; hurrah!  Cautious optimism, lots of support and encouragement. It isn’t easy being the oldest kid in the class.

Also in the department of new beginnings: several friends of ours have kids who are starting their first real life jobs this September; as policy types, research assistants, lawyers, marketers, all venturing into careers where you don’t get three months of summer vacation anymore. Welcome to my prior world!

And two friends of ours just retired from long-held jobs this month; retirement being both an ending and a new beginning. (there’s a blog post in that, I know.)

What is new for me this September is that (a) I am healthy and (b) I am writing.

September in years past has been a month where either I or family members have found ourselves in hospitals, and not wearing badges that say “visitor.”  A rabbi friend of mine, noticing that ill health tends to strike my family closely coinciding with the timing of Rosh Hashanah each year, suggested that we move to the planet Mars each September where she is confident the Jewish New Year is not likely to be celebrated so we can avert the chance of illness.  But so far my family has made it through September without having a close up view of the sign that blazes the words “EMERGENCY ROOM”.

Another new beginning is that I started to take a writing class earlier in September. I began writing this blog in May of 2014 so thought taking a writing class would help me find my narrative voice. Perhaps just a coincidence (or is my writing teacher that good??), but shortly after the class began, two of my blog posts were published by the Washington Post.  And the editor who liked my posts let me know that many others did too. I was “trending”!  Hah, trending at my age.

When the New York Times, the newspaper I’ve read daily since childhood, featured a post on my blog in its “What We’re Reading Now” column last Tuesday night, I was stunned into silence. (rare). When you write a blog, you put a post out there into the social media ether, and you think it is pretty good and hope others might too.  But you have no idea, really, and what you can not anticipate, I am finding out, is what words of yours will truly resonate with others, which ones might hit a nerve, and I am profoundly grateful to have found this out.

After an unexpected cardiologically-required departure from my law firm in 2013,  getting the chance to return to writing in 2014 is a new beginning. Finding readers who follow my blog has been wonderful (and I thank all of you – and appreciate all of your comments.)

But I also worry. (The word “worry” appears in the title of this blog for a reason. I do a great deal of it; one of my best skills.)  Does a single successful post begat others? Not necessarily. Think of the many one-hit wonder songs, and the authors who wrote one best seller followed by a series of duds.

But I, having grown up in New England with many vacations in Vermont, may try to model myself after Grandma Moses. She picked up a paint brush for the first time when she was 77 years old. Heck, I am a mere child by that standard; still in that sweet spot post-menopause but pre-Medicare. With the cooperation of whoever is in charge of these things, I hope to have many productive and creative years ahead.

So cheers to new beginnings for all of us!

Wishing you a sweet and healthy year.

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