Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘frustration

Communication — Not Just for Breakfast Anymore…

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Folks, I keep thinking about communication. What does it mean, and how can we improve it?

Communication, to me at least, means that someone is saying to me, “I am listening. I am paying attention to what you’re saying. What you are talking about matters even if I don’t understand it, but I do want to understand.”

We see a real dearth of communication these days, and not just in our personal lives. (The lack of communication in Washington, DC, these days is startling. Even by non-communicative DC standards.) And yet, no one seems to know how to improve it, to make things any better…and the bad communication (or worse, complete lack of communication whatsoever) just keeps going on and on, dragging down everything it touches.

If you are having communication problems with someone else, try to listen. If you can’t do that because you are swamped with work, at least tell that person you will listen as soon as you can and that you do care. (Yeah, is this a personal message to someone? Maybe. But maybe not. There are a lot of people in my life I’d tell this to, if I could get them to sit down and listen.) And then, make some time and listen. Don’t judge — listen.

Communication isn’t just for breakfast anymore. (Who knew?)

Anyway, the only way to fix bad communication is to actually try. Refuse to be afraid of confrontation; just make sure that you are as respectful and calm as you can be, or if you can’t be either, apologize for your lack of same and then get on with trying to understand each other.

This is harder to do with some than others, granted. But if you are friends, or family, or have common interests, or work together, you have to try to do this even when you don’t want to, or the problems that will result from same will just keep snowballing…

And there is no point to that. At all.

***Note: I am fortunate that nearly everyone I know can and does communicate. But my goodness. I am tired of the non-communication in this world…beyond tired. Thus, this post.

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Dealing with Disappointment, Part the Nth

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Folks, I know I’ve written about dealing with disappointment before. It’s one of those fundamental things that everyone has to face from time to time; we will be disappointed in something, even if it’s something tangential to us like the performance of our favorite sports team. (I’m looking at you, Milwaukee Brewers.)

Right now, I’m feeling discouraged, disappointed, however you want to put it, in nearly every aspect. And it’s hard to create that way; it’s hard to even function.

My energy level is not there, and I’m fighting hard to get it back. (Yes, my doctor knows about this. I get to see her soon.) My drive is not there, either…it’s almost as if I’m having a life crisis (I won’t say “mid-life crisis,” as I have no idea how long anyone will live, much less me).

So, what can I do about it?

Mostly, I remind myself that today may be bad, yesterday may have been bad, too, but tomorrow can still be different.

Yeah, I may never be known as a writer. (I knew that when I got into this field.) All I can do is control what I can, which is to write the books I feel compelled to write, keep working on my craft, and hope I touch at least a few folks with my stories so they’ll maybe remember them past the moment they’re read and consumed.

So, even though today’s one of those days that turning my face to the wall seems like the right action, I’m not going to do it.

Nope.

Instead, I’m going to keep trying, even if it’s slow; even if I have to rest more; even if I need to take more breaks; even if I have to adjust my diet again and cut out every processed food (I hope I don’t have to go that far, but it may come to that)…and I’m going to try to keep my friends in the loop, ’cause that’s important.

So, I deal with disappointment, roughly, by trying to get through it and remembering we all have days like this.

And so long as I keep trying, I cannot fail…because I refuse to allow myself to fail.

How do you deal with it? What tips and tricks would you like to share?

Tell me in the comments.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 24, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Holidays, Grief, and Disappointment

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Folks, as we all know, the holidays are upon us.

As I have written before (most recently last year, here), this is an awful time of year for anyone who has suffered losses. You can’t help but think about those you miss, especially when you have happy memories of better days when they were alive, well, and completely themselves.

I don’t have the answers for how to deal with this, despite having to deal with it for so long. As time passes, I know I’ll be grieving more and more people, and that’s the way life works — some of us keep going, and remember those who have passed before us, and try to honor their memories as best we’re able.

But that doesn’t make it easy.

In addition, because this is a highly-fraught time of year, any disappointment you receive at this time seems magnified. By a hundred, maybe, or even a thousand…it’s an illusion, mind, borne of the fact that you’re probably already under stress for various reasons, you’re expected to be “happy happy, joy joy” all the time at this time of year, and maybe you’re expending energy you didn’t realize you were using to stay on an even keel.

When I’m disappointed, whether it’s in someone else, myself, the world at large, whatever, I try to take a step back. Will this matter in a week? Will this matter in a month? Will this matter in a year?

If the answers to all of those questions are “no,” it’s a little easier to push past the disappointment.

“But Barb,” you say. “What is it about this time and people getting on each other’s nerves?”

Believe me, I wish I knew.

What I do know is that I try hard not to get upset by what other people do. Sometimes I observe this more in the breach than in its keeping, but I honestly do try.

OK, not everyone is going to be be what you want them to be. (Maybe no one is. Maybe you, yourself, aren’t, either.) Maybe you don’t have the life you want. Maybe nothing went right for you this year. And maybe, just maybe, you are having trouble hoping that tomorrow will be better than today.

That is normal, human, and you have to realize that other people feel the same damned thing.

So, yeah. This time of year is very hard for me. I feel almost as if I’m a chronic observer rather than completely in the mix of life and all its pleasures (and annoyances), and that’s only partly because I’m a writer and my observational skills have been heightened by years of practice.

All I can do, quite frankly, is endure the holidays. Get past them. And hope that 2017 will be a whole lot better than 2016.

Anyway, may we all treat our loved ones, friends, and co-workers gently at this time of year, and throughout the year…and may we all be richly blessed, one way or another.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 22, 2016 at 11:32 am

Housing End-Game

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Folks, I really didn’t want to write this blog. But things have gone sour, again…and my blogging is likely to be interrupted for a few days or weeks, so I figured I’d explain why.

As I said months ago, my housing situation went critical. I can’t fully explain this because it’s not my story to tell; all I can tell you is that I knew, at that time, I’d not have much longer where I was.

That was back in April, and I’m still in the same place. It was like being in limbo, and it certainly slowed up my creative efforts. But I have been warm, and safe, and with my dogs.

Now, the housing situation is about to be radically different. I will be put out of my home of the last five years within the next seven to ten days, as something called a “writ of assistance” has been requested. Once that’s executed, I will be put out of this situation, and am not sure what will happen afterward.

For a time, I know I will go to my father’s house. But long-term, that is likely to drive him and I both nuts. I won’t be able to bring the dogs, and that worries me greatly, because I don’t know what will happen to them — and they’re good dogs. They don’t deserve this uncertainty.

And that doesn’t resolve the rest of the situation, that I can’t explain, that I wish I could explain (except it’s not my story to tell, yada yada yada).

Over the past six months, I’ve had various friends ask me why I haven’t left already when things have been so up in the air. It has to do with caring about my family, and wanting to make sure they are safe and happy and well. I’ve also been worried about the dogs. One of my friends told me a long time ago she could take me, but not the dogs; another can take one dog, if need be, but she has cats. A third friend lives in Canada and I’d not be able to bring any of the dogs there, if I could somehow miraculously get to him…this is a big, fat, freakin’, unruly mess. (Insert string of profanity here, if you feel the need. I know I certainly do. I’m just too polite to subject you to it.)

And, if I’m honest, a lot of why I haven’t left has to do with CHANGING FACES. I’m so close to finishing up that novel — the revised and final version, after editing — and I just didn’t want to have to uproot my entire life as moves tend to do if I could somehow hang on until the novel was finished.

I am about three chapters, perhaps less, from the end. But I don’t know if I can finish up what I need under all this stress. I’m having a number of unusual stress reactions already, and I have to be careful, or I’ll land in the hospital and I’ll be even slower to finish things up…dammit all.

Anyway, all I know is that it is likely I will be put out in the next seven to ten days. I can’t get a hard date as to when I will definitely be put out. I have already moved some stuff to my father’s across town, and will be moving more in the upcoming days as I’m able, but I remain worried.

If for some reason you feel the need to help me, I do have a Paypal account. Type Barb and Caffrey together (as all one word, lowercase) AT Yahoo DOT com (take out the at and dot, of course), if you want to help at all with the frustrations and vexations of this move. Because in some ways, this couldn’t happen at a worse time…honestly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Finding Motivation After a Difficult Week

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Folks, this past week was extremely difficult.

Why? Well, part of the story — as per usual — is not mine to tell. What I can tell you is that I had a bad allergic reaction and also had to deal with a family health scare…both are resolving well, but at the time they were both major obstacles.

It’s hard to be motivated, after you’ve been run ragged for a week to ten days. (Yes, even for me — “Mrs. Persistence Herself,” one of my friends snickered a few years back — I sometimes run straight on into a brick wall.) Sometimes, all you can do is rest, think about your stories, and prepare to meet your commitments as soon as you can with a whole heart.

“But Barb,” you say. “I thought CHANGING FACES neared completion. Is that what’s getting you down?”

Partly, yes.

I want CHANGING FACES to be done. (I wanted it to be done months ago.) But I also want to put out the best quality book I possibly can, well-edited of course, and readable and interesting. (That the subject matter is a bit controversial — dealing with a male/female couple with both ending up transgender due to a fantasy/spiritual element — only adds a bit of spice to the broth.) I hope people of all sexes, genders, races, political persuasions, etc., will read CHANGING FACES and find some truth in it…because my main, overarching message is that people should see souls. Not bodies.

I want CHANGING FACES to read well as a romance, yes. But I also want it to be something people of all sexes and gender expressions can relate to, because most of us, if we’re honest, feel different. Maybe we’re not as different as Elaine is at the start of CHANGING FACES, as we’re not transgender/gender-fluid. (By the way, language is evolving on this issue. In a year or two, it’s very possible people may just say “gender fluid” for someone like Elaine. I hate to have to point this out, but not everyone reads the time/date stamp on blog posts, and some, when you use “inappropriate” or less than up-to-the-minute terminology, jump to conclusions and assume you’re trying to be disrespectful. But that’s another subject for another day.) But we all do have some difference, something that makes us unique and interesting…something that makes us, at least at times, wonder if we will ever be understood by anyone, loved one or no.

It’s all of this that gives me motivation despite an incredibly difficult and taxing week.

I don’t know if the way my mind works is similar to any other writer’s mind on the planet, of course. But my own mind does work this way, and it’s telling me now to do two things:

  1. Rest, dammit!
  2. After you’ve rested, get up and work on CHANGING FACES.

So, that’s what I intend to do.

Thanks for staying along for the ride, and do let me know what you think in the comments, if you are so inclined.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 3, 2016 at 1:42 am

Tough Day to be a Brewers Fan…Lucroy, Jeffress, Smith Traded

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Some days, it’s harder than others to be a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers.

My team has never, in its forty-six year history, won the World Series. It’s won only one league championship, back in 1982 — when the team was still in the American League. It’s competed only a handful of times in the postseason, including 1981, 1982, and 1983 (banner years, truly), 2008, and 2011.

That’s been about it, for me as a Brewers fan.

So I’m used to futility. I’m used to frustration. And I’m used to the best players I’ve come to know and appreciate ending up on better teams around the league, as only a few players these days play their entire careers in Milwaukee or anywhere else.

Still, today is a worse day than many, because the Brewers have done something teams rarely do — on August 1, 2016, Milwaukee traded their starting catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, their closer, Jeremy Jeffress, and one of their best bullpen arms in Will Smith away to two different teams. Lucroy and Jeffress went to the Texas Rangers, while Smith went to the San Francisco Giants. And what did the Brewers get back? Prospects…with one exception. (And that one exception, former Giant catcher Andrew Susac, has played fewer than 100 games in the major leagues.)

Up until now, the Brewers have been better than expected. While not a world-beating team by any means, they haven’t been embarrassing, either. They’re currently five games over .500 while home at Miller Park, and their overall record is 47-56.

In fact, a few weeks ago, my father asked me, “How many more games do you think the Brewers can win?” My answer was between thirty-five and forty, as they’d been improving lately…providing Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun were not traded. (I would’ve included Jeremy Jeffress in that, but trading a closer at the deadline that’s still extremely productive is almost rarer than trading a starting catcher, so I have to admit it never crossed my mind that this would happen.)

This year has had some good surprises — pitcher Junior Guerra being one of those. So it’s obvious that David Stearns, the Brewers GM, can find talent…but so far, he doesn’t seem cognizant of the fact that fans have to have something on the field to root for.

I expected this to be a bad year, mind. I expected this to be a year where top prospect, shortstop Orlando Arcia, gained time in Triple-A, and where we’d have a shuttle going back and forth from Triple-A affiliate Colorado Springs and Milwaukee — and we have.

I did not expect this to be the year the Brewers traded away two impact players, literally minutes before the trade deadline, and then expect fans to be happy about it.

I’m sorry. I’m not into pain, so of course I’m unhappy with this move.

Do I understand it rationally? Sure.

Do I appreciate it emotionally? Oh, Hell no.

And will I watch games? Yes, but quite frankly, I won’t expect very much…especially with the new closer almost certainly to be Tyler Thornburg. (I like him, but is he closer material?) And with the new starting catcher being defensive whiz Martin Maldonado…

All I can say is this: Dammit. (In lieu of a blue streak of profanity that none of you need to hear, or see, or that I need to say.)

And, of course, I need to add this, specifically to Lucroy, Jeffress, and Smith: Good luck to all three of you. May your teams go to the playoffs, and may you enjoy excellent careers. And someday, remember the fans in Milwaukee, still waiting for our day in the sun…and that we remain in your corner.

 

My Patreon Update…and Other Stuff

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Folks, I’m glad to have finally written an update…and it’s up at my Patreon page.

What’s Patreon, you ask? It’s a place where you can support writers, artists, musicians, or other creative types…it’s a very old idea done in a very new, 21st Century way.

I know I’ve been very behindhand on explaining what’s going on. There’s a reason for that. If I think too much about the circumstances that surround me — the fact that my living situation is not fully under my control, and that I am unable to affect the outcome very much at all — I can’t create. And that would be lethal, especially as I grow closer to completing CHANGING FACES at long last…I have to get that book done, there’s no two ways about it.

So, I’m going to cut and paste from my own post at Patreon, that I just put up less than fifteen minutes ago:

Unfortunately, since I last posted, very little has changed. My living situation — it’s hard to know what I can say about it, because I’m not the only one affected, but suffice it to say that from day to day I barely know where I’m going to be. This is frustrating and confusing, and it’s not exactly conducive to creativity.

As for how I’m doing/feeling? I fight exhaustion. I fight the feeling of inertia, of nothing changing, of still being in a reasonably unstable situation and being almost completely unable to affect it…and it’s extremely frustrating and disquieting.

I know that I’m doing everything I possibly can to positively affect this outcome. As I said at my long-delayed update over at Patreon, I have edited five books in the last two-plus months, and I’ve written 20,000 words. These are good things, and I’m proud of these accomplishments.

In addition, I played a concert on Sunday night with the Racine Concert Band at the Racine Zoo (though I wasn’t able to play the parade, alas, on Monday as I’d planned). We had an enthusiastic crowd, as we always do — free summer concerts have resumed, and will be held at the Zoo every Sunday night at 7:30 in July, and at 7:00 in August (through August 14, 2016).

I’m not able to play at the same level I could years ago, mind, but I can still play well most of the time. I’d prefer to have some solos now and again, but that rarely happens…still, I’m glad to be able to play, and I think I add something, even when I’m playing the second part and it seems like no one pays attention to me being there besides my stand-partner.

So, I’m trying. I have a temporary situation, and am trying to look on the bright side. (Though sometimes I want to kick whoever started that whole idea squarely in the nether region. Why can’t we admit just for one minute that things are bleak, but we’re going to do our best every day anyway?)

I do know that life can change, sometimes on what seems to be an instant. And it’s very possible that all the hard work I’ve done will lead to something much better…my husband believed that, my best friend Jeff Wilson believed that, too, and my friends now firmly believe that as well.

Who am I to say they’re wrong?

Anyway, if you want to help support me get through this rough patch, you can go to my Patreon page and make a pledge…or, if you wish to support me privately, let me know and I’ll give you my PayPal address. (And thank you very much for even considering this oblique request. It truly is the best I can do right now.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 5, 2016 at 2:26 pm