Writers—Check Your Posture

I am not the first, nor the last, writer to develop issues due to the sedentary life style of writing. My issues have been two fold, both related to my back, one in my lower back, the other all the way up to my neck.

 

These issues cause me pain and discomfort and have made the way I write at home interesting at best (more on that later). I’ve been scolded by both a physical therapist and a chiropractor on how I write.

 

To explain I need to set up how my home works. My desk is outside my son’s room. Most of the time I am writing while he’s in bed. Or rather, while he’s supposed to be sleeping. Being four-years-old he sometimes plays in bed for hours. Therefore my husband and I stay far away from his room until he is sound asleep.

 

My desk has my ancient desktop on it. I no longer use that for anything but sentimental value. I do my work on my laptop. Laptops travel, right? So for the past year I have been camping out in my bedroom, on my bed, Indian style and hunched over my laptop.

 

Is it any wonder I’m having issues? I did wise up and got a raised laptop desk recently, but still has me in bed, which apparently I’m only supposed to be using for sleeping? Who’d a thunk?

 

The first thing I need to change is where I write. My desk is still off limits due to my son. The dining room table is the next option. But clutter usually collects there and no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find comfort at the dining room. Ironically this is where my laptop first rested when she was purchased. I guess that was a habit I should have clung to.

 

Now I’m going to have the challenge of losing myself in my writing while paying attention to my posture. I tell you, it is easier to write in comfort and I am not looking forward to the transition period. Each time I start to adjust in some small way, I find myself back to old habits, and old comforts.

 

So if you are a writer, take a moment to think about your writing space. What would a therapist tell you if they could see you in action? If you don’t think it will be flattering it might be time to revise your space.

 

Or you can be like me, know what you are doing is wrong, and do it anyways. One day I will learn. That day is not today.

 

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“Fix Me” – Learning to love imperfection

We have a “fix me” epidemic in this society. The old saying “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” no longer applies. Instead we are looking for problems to fix, looking for ways to come to perfection. There is a catch; perfection is in the eye of the beholder.

Walk through any gallery and strike up a conversation about any given work of art. Chances are the two people will not agree. Yet we as a society have a so-called “common view” of what perfection is. Perfection is a tall, skinny person, with aesthetic features, good sight, good hearing, good health. No sicknesses or disabilities.

Ignoring the fact that this aesthetic person will be different for each individual, although most will agree with magazine’s “most beautiful” sections, this description is but a small portion of our society. Yet, we all want to fix anything else: obesity, paralysis, blindness, deafness, anything not normal. We want to fix too much.

On the outside, on the aesthetic realm, I am told I meet “perfection.” Humble as I am people say that I am thin and good-looking. I, on the other hand, notice the 20 pounds I’ve put on since college, the cellulite on my thighs, and the old lady’s nose on my face. Still I meet some sort of mold. Until what is not instantly visible is identified. In one ear I have a purple hearing aid mold attached to a clear mechanical shell, on the other I have a small beige in-the-ear hearing aid. I am Hard of Hearing. Not hearing impaired. I have a disability, not a handicap. And unlike the current epidemic I don’t want to be fixed.

Give me hearing aids, I accept those, keep the knives and needles at bay. I am Hard of Hearing, just like I am a woman, just like I am Jewish. It is part of my identity; it is part of who I am. To “fix it” robs me of being me.

There are a lot of surgeries out there to correct hearing. I’ve had one on my right ear. I was eight; I thought I was making my left ear better. The surgery failed and took my right ear from moderate, to profound. Granted, the loss was not overnight, but the surgery did weaken the ear enough to cause future damage. Yet in some ways I am happy I’ve had the surgery. Unlike most people I have one less bone in my body. The incus, the second smallest bone in the body, is sitting in my living room, glued onto a piece of paper mapping where it used to be in my ear. Luckily no one has yet to suggest that I put the bone back in.

It took me many years, but I am happy with who I am. On the inside. On the outside I’d still like to return those 20 pounds back to the refrigerator. Yet people still ask me if I can get surgery to improve my hearing. The key word here is “can,” they assume I want to be fixed. Luckily there is no surgery out there that works for me. The controversial cochlear implant is for someone with far less hearing than me (my left ear, sans its hearing aid, is still listening to hum of the air conditioner in the background) and I don’t see ENT doctors frequently enough to have to field off any mentions of surgery.

Don’t get me wrong; some people want to be fixed. And if they want it then they should be fixed. I have a friend who recently got a cochlear implant and is thrilled. I couldn’t be happier for her. What bothers me is a story I saw on the news. I missed most of the story, and the captioning was scrambled, but apparently some family flew to Massachusetts to have their baby implanted. My view is against the implant but I don’t doubt the family their decision and this may very well be the right choice for them. But I can’t help but feel like the spotted eagle. I can’t help but feel like me and my kind are going to be extinct.

Perfection has its drawbacks. If we can’t accept someone in a wheel chair, walking with a cane, talking with their hands, then how are we supposed to accept one another? How are we supposed to move forward as an open-minded society? The more we fix the more problems we will face. Soon we will back to fixing religion and skin color. It’s only a matter of time before the wheel spins full circle.

When people meet me and find out I have hearing loss they feel bad for me. Yet my ears have got me where I am today. My first post-college job was directly related to my hearing loss, and I worked with clients with a hearing loss. That lead me to move into elder services since so many have a hearing loss. I can relate to others with a hearing loss on a one-on-one basis. So don’t feel bad for me. I am proud of my ears, even the left one that just decided to kick into tintinitus at this moment (we’ll duke it out later).

This brings me back to the “fix me” epidemic. Doctors take one look at me and they want to find a cure for my ears. We are so concentrated on fixing things to our own vision of perfection that we don’t take the time to pause, step back, and see what that person wants. Maybe the lady in the corner with the big nose likes her nose? Maybe the gentleman in the wheelchair is proud of his accomplishments? Maybe the obese woman enjoys being cuddly? And maybe this author enjoys the fact that her ears are less than perfect? Maybe we all need to find out own realm of “less then perfect”. I can assure you that it is a lot better than mere perfection itself.

Cutting Fun Sections

In my latest novel, my contemporary romance, one of my characters is a cat named Oreo. It is no coincidence that I have a cat named Oreo as well! Oreo enjoys sitting on my lap as I type, and trying to delete sections she decides isn’t right.

I had a lot of fun writing about this curious feline, since she has such a strong personality. But writing about her strong personality meant I was taking away from my plot. Two of my beta readers both told me I needed to cut a fun section with Oreo being a quirky cat. So, while petting the purring real life Oreo I cut the scene with fictional Oreo.

Then, inspiration struck! I couldn’t keep the section in my story, but I could still share it with the world. So, here’s a tiny sneak peak at my romance, but mostly, here’s a fun (unedited) scene with Oreo. Enjoy:

Nica hung up the phone and promptly put her head in her hands. Oreo came over but instead of being a sweet, supportive cat and give her owner some much-needed love, all the feline did was beg for attention. One paw raised and placed a firm tap on Nica’s hand. Then Oreo sat and waited, head cocked to the side. When Nica didn’t move Oreo placed her paw on her servant’s hand a second time, holding the contact for double the length. Then she waited again. As the paw reached for her third attempt Nica let out a groan and moved one hand off her head. The happy feline began rubbing her head over Nica’s fingers, desperate to sooth her itchy skin.

This interchange is very much how the real life Oreo behaves. She’s an amusing little gal. She’s also deaf and has no peripheral vision. A tough former stray she doesn’t take orders, as is evident of her continuing to step on my laptop, while I’m typing. Naughty kitty.

Why is Aging Frowned Down Upon?

In the wild world of the Internet you know how it goes: click on one link, then another, then again, and find yourself in some strange universe twelve steps removed from the start. On one such journey I ended up on a post titled: 100 stars of the 80s you won’t recognize today.

Okay, I was curious. I clicked on the link. Of course, it’s one of those where you have to click to a new page for each picture (personal pet peeve), so I didn’t stay long. But I did see the following: good looking actor in their 20s or 30s, flash forward to… good looking adult in their 50s or 60s. This article used a similar heading to describe the older actors appearance: looking serious.

Which, let’s face it, was a nice way of saying they looked liked crap. My response? No, they don’t look “serious,” they look like a 50 or 60 year old. Still young, still healthy, still vibrant. I know we have a young epidemic in this country, and I’ve had moments where I see an actor I hadn’t seen in a while and am shocked at how they aged. But why do we see wrinkles and automatically remove “good looking” from the description? Why can’t wrinkles be sexy? Why can’t gray or white hair be attractive?

And why, why, why do we judge so harshly? There is nothing wrong with aging. In fact, it’s as sure as the sun rising in the morning. Should we remain in fear of it, sticking needles in our skin, to ward off nature? Or should we embrace the journey?

Now, I admit, I’m young. Anyone can look at my profile picture and see I’m young. Yet I’m in my 30s, and there are times I feel it. I feel myself aging, see the white hairs popping up (thank you motherhood), see the changes in my body (also thank you motherhood). Aging will be hard. But it’s hard because of society.

I am fortunate to have a slightly different outlook on aging, thanks to working with elders for so long. I saw vibrant elders, in their 60s and beyond. Heck, I once had a conversation with a woman who looked to be in her 70s, and had to check my file when she talked about her hundredth birthday. That’s right, she was 100 years old and still full of life.

I’ve seen that we are aging differently these days. Once upon a time a 60 year-old was often frail. Nowadays the frail 60 year-old comes with previous standing health issues. Even with those health issues they are young and vibrant. So one can assume the 60 year-olds who are not frail are still living their lives to the fullest. Certainly those in their 60s I know are.

As a society I wish we could embrace aging, rather than fear it. Find the beauty in older age, the wisdom, the spunk. Remove the fear. Who’s with me?