Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for February 2018

Sunday Thoughts — Advice for the Downtrodden

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Folks, it’s Sunday, so I’d like to reflect a little bit on what’s been going on, both with me and the world (as far as I can tell, at least from this little corner of it), as I have a tendency to do on what most of the Westernized world considers to be the Sabbath.

Right now, I’m working hard on three different edits. I also have several writing works-in-progress I’m trying to devote some time to, and I also do what I can to help family and friends enjoy life (or at least not hate it quite so much) by reminding them that they, too, are valuable.

Life shouldn’t just be about work, you see. As wonderful as work can be — and I do enjoy, very much, my work as a writer and editor — it isn’t enough to give you personal satisfaction at a deep level.

Caring for others matters. Even when they can’t show you, it still matters. Because it’s done not to help you feel better, but to help them feel better. And virtue, sometimes, has to be its own reward…even if it does not seem like it at the time.

But how do you keep caring, keep trying, and keep reaching when you feel like your own, personal well of inspiration is dry?

I don’t have the answers to that. But I do know that if you give yourself some credit for all the effort you put in, even on the worst of days, you can get up the next day and try it again.

Everything you do matters. Whether it’s tangible or not, whether others realize it or not, it still is important. And I believe we were put here on this Earth to realize that very fact; that we are meant to not only improve ourselves, but to help others, and to feel less alone while doing it.

I may not be putting this the world’s best way, mind. I’ve still been fighting the vestiges of bronchitis, and also have been working a great deal (thus the not-so-much blogging I’ve done over the past week to ten days).

But I know this to be true: You do matter. To yourself, to the Deity, and to your friends and family, whether it seems like it or not. And whether they can show you…or not.

And you need to keep doing your best to use your talents productively, while encouraging others to do the same thing, because that, too, makes a positive difference in this world.

So if others are telling you that what you are doing doesn’t count, don’t listen.

And if you feel like your life is over, please believe me: it’s not.

Your viewpoint, your inspiration, your drive, your passion, are still there, whether you can feel them today or not. And you will use them to their utmost tomorrow, after you’ve rested.

Please, folks: Believe in yourselves, and believe there is a purpose for you being here. Do not believe in those who tear you down, and do your best to rise above, and keep rising no matter what negativity finds you.

That’s the best way to do good in this world that I know. And while doing your best, you may just find your way back to personal and job satisfaction…just a thought.


Be Good…to Yourself?

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Folks, I have been thinking about something for the last week or two. And I hope it makes some sense.

We see all sorts of bad stuff on television, on the internet, and any other way we consume media these days. And it can be hard to keep going. People dying in Florida at a school shooting (why, oh why?) is only the latest awful thing to take over the airwaves.

This affects everyone, whether you know it or not. People dying when they don’t need to is hard for society as a whole to bear. And it seems to happen over and over again.

So, why am I saying to be good to yourself, rather than all the stuff I normally say? It’s simple. I think in addition to talking to your legislators (if you feel the need), making donations to groups you support (including those supporting responsible and safe gun ownership), you need to remember to take time for yourself in your day, especially when times are hard or bad.

Most of us don’t do this. And then we wonder why we get worn down to nubs at the end of the day.

I have friends who have multiple jobs, and also write. I have other friends who are like me; they try to help their family members and friends as best they can, do their work, and cram in writing whenever possible. (Tonight, mind, I’m also cramming in a concert with the Racine Concert Band, another thing I enjoy doing.)

We don’t remember that we, ourselves, are the priorities in our lives. We think about others. We don’t think about us, because we’re taught not to, and the few who do seem to think about themselves at all are so blatantly narcissistic, any reasonable and decent person wants no part of that.

But there is a continuum, you see. You don’t have to be a narcissist to be good to yourself.

All I ask you tonight is, try to do something good for yourself every day, if only for five minutes. Listen to some music you haven’t heard in a while but you really like. Read a chapter of a book you’ve been meaning to get around to. Take a bubble bath. Go find one of those massage chairs (or ask a friend) and get your neck and/or back massaged.

That way, it’s easier to do everything else you need to do — including when you need to deal with bad news you’d rather not have to deal with (such as the latest school shooting) — with a fuller heart.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 20, 2018 at 7:35 pm

Quick Update, Plus Some 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Thoughts

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Folks, I know I haven’t posted any updates in a while, and I’ve had folks asking why.

First, I have had some time-intensive edits on my plate lately, and the paying work must come first.

Second, I have a concert next week with the Racine Concert Band, and I’ve been spending some time preparing for that.

Third, I’ve been watching the Olympics — and yes, the figure skating, natch — but I haven’t had anything interesting to say there.

Until now, that is.

I love Adam Rippon. I always have. Great skater. Lots of technique and emotion. I love how he puts programs together.

Tonight, Nathan Chen skated up to his potential and then some. He is a great jumper. And he has nice spins. But without his jumps, he’d not be there. (He is not yet the whole package.) But six quads, with five cleanly landed? Hard to argue with that.

Don’t know if either are in the mix for individual medals (as the team, overall, won a bronze). But they have represented the US well and I’m proud of them.

Aside from that, it seems odd that Ashley Wagner is not there.

I am not sold in Bradie Tennell as “the best American women’s figure skater,” though she does seem engaging, perky, and a good jumper. My guess, as this is her first try at the Olympics, is that she’ll be lucky to finish 8th. (Note I will be happy if she does better than this. I’m just aware of international figure skating politics, and how very difficult it is for a first-time skater on the major stage to place in the top ten, much less the top five.)

We are fortunate, as Americans, as this certainly is Mirai Nagasu’s time, as she’s hitting her triple axel, and she looks good and wants redemption for the Sochi Olympics (where Wagner was placed on the team ahead of Nagasu, even though Nagasu had appeared to win a spot in her own right). Providing Nagasu hits her triple axel in both the short and long programs, she could medal, especially as the international judges are quite aware of her.

As for the pairs…eh. I like our pair team, the Kneirims. They are a married couple, and have lovely flow on the ice. But they’ll be lucky to finish tenth after a weak short program. (Edited to add: I somehow missed this, but they finished fifteenth overall.)

The dancers look strong, with the Shibutanis (otherwise known as the “Shib Sibs”). So we have a very good chance for a medal there, perhaps silver or even gold.

So, there’s been a lot going on, for me personally and with regards to the Olympics.

As always, I’ll try to keep you posted, so do look for blogs next week.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 16, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Celebrating the Love of Friends: A Collaboration with a Purpose Post

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Folks, the Collaboration with a Purpose group wanted to talk about love. But not necessarily romantic love; any sort of love we felt like, save self-love (which we covered last year), would do.

So I decided, after much reflection, to talk about the love of friends, and why it should be much more celebrated than it is.

February Collaboration (main)

We tend to celebrate romantic love in this culture, and around the Westernized world. But when romances end, it’s our friends who comfort us; when our parents are ill, it’s our friends who comfort us; when we’ve had a horrible day, it’s our friends who comfort us. And those unsung people are the ones we often lean on, far more than anyone else, in order to live the best lives we can.

And I, personally, know this is so, because it’s exactly what I’ve done. While I love my family, and I care about them deeply, most of the time it’s my friends who hear my innermost thoughts and feelings.

Why? Well, they listen. They don’t judge. They often have good insights that come from different angles than the ones I’ve already considered. And they remind me that the family you pick — your friends, in other words — is just as important as the family you were stuck with by birth.

Friends care, in short, in a way that’s deep and powerful. It’s every bit as important as romantic love, the love of friends; in some ways, it’s more important, because if you’re with someone you care about romantically but you aren’t actually friends with them, that’s not much of a romance. (Just saying.)

So, we think love is all about this:

February Collaboration (optional)


And while there is a lot of that, in love — the lightness of being, the feeling that you can do anything — and while that is a wonderful picture (which is why I wanted to use it, though it was our “alternate” photo this time), I think the love of friends is actually more important.

Because friends stay with you, through good and bad. And friends don’t stop caring, no matter what…which is why the love of friends, arguably, is just as important as romantic love. (And I truly wish it were just as celebrated. Really.)

Now, go take a look at these blogs from my Collaboration with a Purpose buddies!

Divyang Shah

Mylene Orillo

Ipuna Black

Sonyo Estavillo

Sadaf Siddiqi

Nicolle K.

Jane Love

Swati Kadamb


Written by Barb Caffrey

February 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm