Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Us Vs Them

A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to get away and watch Zootopia. I’d been on the fence about the movie, mostly because I wasn’t too impressed with the commercials. It looked like it depended on humor that I don’t really enjoy, and the part with the sloths, since it was the majority of the commercial, made me want to tear my hair out. (Amazingly, it’s a lot funnier in the movie.) Add to that, I’m not a huge animal fan in the first place, so watching a whole movie about animals seemed like it might not be worth it.

Then I started to read some of the reviews, and they were all very positive. I was kind of shocked. Most of the reviews talked about the message of the movie, and how they did it well. I was curious enough to go see.

I’ve got to say, I was blown away. There’s going to be spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen it, don’t read! You have been warned.

I don’t know what message most people came away with, and the way it was written could be subject to interpretation by a whole number of people. For me, it was the message of the victim. The story seems to be about predators, about those people who used to, at one point, terrorize the prey. Even though it’s been centuries since it last happened, since they last hunted for fun, the prey still see them as the bad guys. The ones that could at any point, revert back to who they used to be.

But the second half of the movie, the message became clear. There’s the idea of the predator. Someone that they haven’t been for years. Yet, they’re still judged by the past. No matter what changes have been made, no matter what good they’ve caused, they still live under the judgement of their previous actions.

Because the movie is about animals, it’s up to interpretation as to who the predator and prey are. 

Most people think of racism, which makes sense, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s that clear cut. It’s the us vs them, no matter who the ‘us’ is and no matter who the ‘them’ is. It could be race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and even republican vs. democrat. I deal with it in the work place, the idea of hospital nurses vs nursing home nurses. Stereotypes of any kind are going to skew our views, whether they’re a positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. Not all Asian people are the same.  Not all women are the same. Not all sports fans are the same.

Get to know the actual person, and base your opinion off of them, not who you think they should be.

Monday, March 28, 2016

That's Interesting

Learning a new language is hard. At least, it is for me. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school, and when I realized I was going to study in Madrid, I began studying on my own. My Spanish teacher, originally from Peru, was awesome, and she tutored me during my free time. I figured that by the time I got to Madrid, I’d at least be able to communicate.

That was not the case.

My husband tells me that I had a very tell-tale sign for when I didn’t understand. My smile would get very big and I would nod over and over like I understood what was being said. 

Unfortunately, that happened a lot my first few months in Madrid.
I’m here to tell you that if you don’t understand, don’t just nod and say yes over and over. It’ll get you into trouble.

I accidentally agreed to giving someone piano lessons because I nodded and said yes at the same time. I agreed to play the piano for a funeral.

The worst moment was when I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to get out of a religion class. I sat out in the foyer, and someone else came and sat by me. I knew him a little bit, because of activities, and when he started talking, I started nodding. He talked for a long time, and I would respond with smiles, nods and “Si!” “Que Bien!” (Yes! That’s good!)

After he finished, and I gave another enthusiastic smile and nod, and narrowed his eyes and leaned forward. He spoke slowly and pronounced each word so I could understand.

“Entendiste lo que te dije?”

Did you understand what I said?

I realized I’d been caught and shook my head. No.

“Te estuve explicando de mi divorcio.”

I was telling you about my divorce.

The whole time he told me about his divorce, and the pain he went through, I was nodding and smiling and telling him, “That’s good!”

Here’s the moral of the story: If you’re ever traveling to a different country, and you’re not quite sure about the language, put on an interested face and tell them “That’s interesting.” Whether it’s good or it’s bad, it’s not going to get you in trouble. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Living With the Disease: COPD

Over the past few years, I feel that I’ve had more and more patients with COPD. It may be because I’ve changed from more of a long term setting to a short-term rehab, but either way, I’m still amazed by how little people actually understand about the disease, the patients especially.

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and its main cause is smoking. Obviously, smoking isn’t the only reason, it could be caused by air pollution, or infections, but the majority of patients are previous or current smokers. Because I’m a nurse, it’s important for me to educate my patient on how to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, for COPD, a lot of it is very counterintuitive. When someone’s dealing with symptoms of COPD, they feel like they can’t breathe. 

For anyone else, it would be obvious. Increase the oxygen levels, give them more oxygen so they can breathe easier.

For COPD patients, that can harm, rather than help.

Even knowing that, and with increased education, it’s hard to understand, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve found oxygen levels increased because patients or their families believe it will help them breathe. The problem with COPD isn’t that they aren’t taking in oxygen, it’s that they aren’t converting it to carbon dioxide. Their body doesn’t know what to do with so much oxygen, and it thinks that it has more than it needs, which means it doesn’t need to breathe as much.

It’s hard when there’s a disease that works against sense. Well-meaning family members and friends often try and increase the oxygen to help them breathe, and often patients themselves listen to their body, begging for more oxygen. But it’s not a lack that they have, it’s the inability to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why in Asia?

As many of you may know, I’ve been working on a new series. It’s been a long process in the making. I got the first inklings all the way back in April, when I gave myself a new challenge to try and create new characters every day of the month. It wasn’t easy or fun, but I was able to find two different characters that had the beginnings of a great story.

I hadn’t figured out very much before I went to the museum, to a special exhibit on pirates. Obviously, after that, I knew pirates had to be in my story, which meant it needed to be in a world with an ocean, or at least a sea. The names I’d randomly picked for these characters were Italian in descent, so I’d set it in the Mediterranean.

I plotted my story, but kept running into the same issue. It didn’t feel right. The plot wasn’t working. The characters didn’t feel natural. It was a very odd experience, especially since I usually had no issues with plotting. To be fair, usually, my stories weren’t this fragmented when I started out, but that didn’t mean it needed to be this hard.

It was about that time that I read an article on diversity in reading. It wasn’t the first one I’d ever read, and believe me, it won’t be the last. I think just yesterday, I might have read two or three.

I wish I’d saved the article, but it said something that really hit home. The author asked why all fantasy worlds seem to be set in medieval Europe. They mentioned that there were so many cultures at that time, in Africa, South America, Asia… it makes no sense for every story to be in the same world and within the same predominant culture.

When I read about diversity before, I always thought it wasn’t really up to me. This is a fantasy world, and fantasy, from my experience, and from everything I’d read, was in medieval Europe. It hadn’t even occurred to me that there could be diversity within fantasy as well. That I could create a world based off of a different culture.

The moment I decided to try an Asian world, the entire story fell into place. The culture fit the story in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Certain character aspects that didn’t make sense in Italy made total sense in Japan.

Diversity can be acknowledged in any situation, and in any world. There’s no reason why we can’t spread out, expand to other cultures and present the stories of other people. Don’t box yourself in. Explore. Experiment. Maybe your characters and story will benefit.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Living in the United States: Kenny

Living in a different country is hard. Not being part of the normal, even if you're from that country, is hard too. There are so many people who deal with prejudices and stereotypes every day, and sometimes, all they want is someone to understand them. This is a new series on my blog, called Living in the United States, where I talk to people about what it's like to be in the minority.

Today, our first interviewee is Kenny, my wonderful hubby who was willing to be my guinea pig.

Let’s start out with, where are you from?

Hi people, this is Kenny. I’m from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

How long have you been in the United States?

Well, let me tell you. I’m been in the United States for about, close to be 7 years.

What brought you to the United States?

A gringuita.

What did you think it would be like, living here?

I don’t know. You see something in the TVs and you see big houses and stuff, but nothing appeared to my imagination.

Do you feel different when you’re around a whole bunch of Americans?

Do you think so? I have a dark colored skin, so that’s something, right?

Do you think they treat you differently?

Yeah, of course. There are some things I don’t understand. It depends on the person, actually.

What do you miss most about your country?

Just the food.

What’s your favorite Bolivian Food?

Salteñas, because I can get it here.

What do you wish people from the US knew about Bolivians or your country?

I’m not Mexican, so they need to figure out that all the south is not Mexico.

Do you think you’re treated like a Mexican, or that people think you know everything about Mexico?

Both. Because I look different, and people assume I’m from Mexico, but it’s not true. Some people get offended when you assume, there are a lot of countries that are not Mexico.

Do you feel like you make more friends with Americans or Non-Americans?

You need to notice that you usually get along with people that are the same as you. So in my case, I go for the Latinos, or people who are not from the US, because it’s easy to get along, I guess, because someone is from different country, I understand you better, how to be an immigrant here, and you will share some experiences.

Do you feel like Americans don’t understand you?

They don’t need to understand me, I mean, if they’re Americans, they’re in a bubble, usually, and sometimes you need to burst the bubble to get into the environment, otherwise they won’t’ care about you.

Do you think you have burst the bubble?

For so many people, yes, but that’s… for Americans, you have a conversation with someone, and they’re not even polite. Someone comes, and they don’t introduce, they start talking to you, and then the person they were talking to before is by themselves.

What did you find most unusual about living in the United States?

One is that they don’t introduce friends to other friends. Because, when someone comes that I know, I introduce to the other one, and I make a big circle so everyone knows to each other. But here, they have a bubble, and this is my bubble, and you don’t touch my bubble. This is my personal space, and you cannot be like this, very close, and breathe on my neck.

What do you like about Americans?

They are givers. That’s how they are. If you notice, in the internet everywhere, if something happens, and someone does a collections, everyone runs to help that person, it doesn’t matter what color they are, you can have help even if you’re a stranger.

Is there any advice you would give to Americans if they’re interacting with someone from a different culture?

Be patient when they’re talking, because so many people struggle with talking. If you’re not interested, go away. It’s true. Sometimes, you try to talk, when your English is not good enough, but if you’re not interested why are you wasting your time?

Is there anything else you want to say?

Thank you people.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Therapeutic Lying

Alzhimer’s is not an easy disease to deal with. I remember watching my Great-Grandfather, confused, throwing out accusations at nurses and family. It’s hard on the caregivers, and you’d better believe that it’s hard on the person who has it. Alzheimer’s isn’t the same thing as the romanticized version in books and movies. It’s painful, exhausting, and often taxes emotion and mental emotions more than anything else.

I had the privilege of working with Alzheimer patients from the very beginning. I was a CNA at an assisted living specifically for Alzheimer and Dementia patients, and from there on out, it became one of my passions.

I’ve talked to many people over the years who have some issues with one of the recommended therapies for Alzheimer’s patients: Therapeutic lying.

Therapeutic lying doesn’t mean lying to the patient about their cares or about the situation. In most cases, the patient (or family member) doesn’t live in our reality necessarily. I’ve had many patients believe they’re sixteen years old, or twenty, or even five. They think they’re a mother, waiting for their kids to come to school, or an engineer, directing the maintenance department.

As odd as it might be for caregivers or family, their reality is as real to them as ours is to us. How would you feel if you were talking to a husband, a brother, a daughter, and every time you said something, they’d argue? Telling you that you’re crazy and that what you’re seeing, what you’re feeling is wrong?

Let me give you an example:

One of my patients, Carl*, was admitted at the same time I started working in the facility. He was a vivacious man, happy, energetic, and he loved to flirt with the female staff. He loved to laugh, and he always had a smile on his face. I loved working with him, to feel his energy. He had Alzheimer’s, and he was confused. During the day, he would ask where his wife is. I’d been taught that for Alzheimer’s, you step into their reality. Something like:

“Where’s Deborah?*”

“I don’t know.” Glance at watch. “It’s about three o’clock. Do you think she’s out picking the kids up from school?”

“Oh, yes, you’re probably right.”

Conversations like this help to calm the patient down. It helps them believe that they’re not missing someone, or that something bad hasn’t happened. Carl’s family, however, did not approve of lying to him, and they insisted we always tell him the truth. I overheard a conversation between Carl and his family, and it about broke my heart.

“Where’s Deborah?”

“She’s dead, dad.”

“Dead?” Carl began to sob, long, loud tears. “How? When did that happen?”

“A year and a half ago. You were there, remember?”

No, he didn’t remember. It’s part of the short term, the first thing that goes when someone has Alzheimer’s. He remembers his wife, how much he loves her. He does not remember she’s dead. As staff, we weren’t allowed to use thereptuic lying, and each time I had to tell her she’s dead, it broke my heart even more. His family even went so far as to hang signs in his room, over the phone, by the door.

“Remember Carl, Debora’s dead. You can’t call her.”

In three short months, Carl became depressed. I know what you’re thinking. He’s confused, he doesn’t remember. So why would he get depressed? Here’s the thing I’ve learned over years of working with Alzheimer’s patients.

They don’t remember events. They don’t remember names or faces, but they do remember how they feel. They may not know why they feel angry, or sad or confused, but it lingers. The longer a person is depressed and upset, the more it sticks with them. Poor Carl was reminded, over and over again about his wife’s death. He grieved each time like it was the first time he’d been told. Soon, he stopped walking, and then he stopped eating. Finally, he refused to get out of bed.

His family blamed us. They said we weren’t doing enough for him. He was removed and put into a different nursing home.

The lesson Carl taught me was a powerful one. Each experience we make for our patients, each word we speak, is going to make a difference. They may not remember in the distant future, but they will remember how you make them feel. It’s the reason why some patients naturally bond with certain nurses and CNAs. They don’t remember why, but they know that they can trust that person.

As terrible as it sounds, therapeutic lying is necessary. They don’t always live in our reality, and we don’t live in theirs. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help them make sense of what they’re living, and what they’re experiencing.

For more information on therapeutic lying, go to:

*Names have been changed

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Favorite Things

At the beginning of the year, I went to an activity for the women in my church. It was a getting to know you activity, because we’d had so many people move in and out. That’s what happens when everyone’s a student. As the night wore on, I realized I didn’t quite fit into the mold. We each brought something small to represent our favorite thing. We put it in a brown paper bag and then we drew names out of a bowl. Each person took a turn answering simple questions.

1.       What are you studying? What are your life goals?

2.       What is your favorite animal?

3.       Who is your celebrity crush?

4.       What is your favorite movie?

I was one of the last to go. I listened to each of their answers and realized there seemed to be a theme. Life goals involved school, or family. Favorite animal: either cat/dog or something exotic like a panda or koala. Celebrity crushes ranged from Ryan Gosling to Damon from Vampire Diaries. Honestly, I’d only heard of half of them. Favorite movie consisted of a lot of Rom Coms. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m in the mood, Rom Coms are great, but most of the time, the plotline makes me roll my eyes. And probably seventy percent of them had chocolate in their bag. If not, it was some kind of food, or something cutsey.

When it got to my turn, I was a little nervous.

Swallowing, I started.

“I already finished school awhile ago. I’m a nurse. My life goal right now is for my husband to be done with school.”

Short term goal, I know, but it is VERY important to me. I don’t want to be stuck in perpetual studenthood forever.

“I don’t like animals. I prefer rocks.”

I got a lot of laughs out of that, but it’s not a joke. I honestly prefer rocks over animals. I had a rock collection growing up that had hundreds of rocks, card cataloged and separated into eight different drawers.

“My celebrity crush is Lionel Messi.”

I blame hubby on that one. He’s exposed me to a lot more soccer over the past few years, and since he’s a huge Real Madrid fan, it only seemed natural I should choose Barcelona. Only two girls knew who he was.

“My favorite movie right now is the Avengers series.”

I love the storytelling. There are plot holes, like there are in any movie, but seriously, Joss Whedon has an incredible grasp on human nature. He knows what he’s doing.

In my bag, I had a pack of pens.

“My favorite thing is writing. I’ve written 7 novels so far, and I’m the co-leader for the National Novel Writing Month group here, and my friend and I founded another writing group from that, and we meet twice a month.”

Yeah, I’m different. But honestly, after introducing myself and stating my favorite things, I realized that I wouldn’t change because I’m different. I like who I am, and I like those things because I find them interesting.

Monday, March 14, 2016

First Date with Electronic Translator

Today I’m going to tell you a love story. It’s my own.

I moved to Spain almost immediately after I graduated from High School. I lived there for two years while I studied international nursing. I was determined not to fall in love or get married until after I finished college. Famous last words, right?

Within my first few weeks in Madrid, I met a tall Bolivian. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t so impressed with each other. I thought he was making fun of my very poor Spanish (which he claims he wasn’t) and he thought I was way younger than I was, and thought I was trying to sneak into the older Sunday school group.

As we got to know each other, even though we didn’t speak the same language, we realized we definitely had a connection. We could make one another laugh without speaking. Finally, he worked up the courage to ask me on a date. Except, since he sent me a text, and I had to translate it, I thought he wanted to meet. I didn’t even realize we were dating until a few weeks later.

The first time we met, we went to a beautiful plaza in Madrid, called Plaza de España. Since he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish, we had a very fractured conversation, consisting of mostly typing into an electronic translator and transferring it back and forth. After a few hours, we walked into the palace gardens where there was an abstract art show, and being the helpful person he is, my husband insisted on making me describe what I thought each piece looked like, in Spanish.

It took us several weeks before we could have a semi-fluent conversation and even longer before we could converse without difficulty. Because of the language barriers, we learned how to read body language and expressions very well.

It was slow, and sometimes tedious, but it was worth it. When we moved back to the US, we went through the same process as he learned English. Except I was much less patient with him as he attempted to learn English.

It’s amazing how some people think not speaking the same language is a hinderment to communication. There’s so much more that goes into communication, often words can be ineffective. I’ve found that when speaking, I don’t know the right words, and find myself stumbling. Maybe it’s better to focus on the nonverbal cues, so we can get to really know a person.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Patients That Changed My Life: Berta

As a nurse, I have the chance to meet a lot of people from all walks of life. Some are fun, and some are not so fun. Then there are those that change my life, and changed the kind of nurse I am. For privacy issues, I won’t use their real names, but I want to tell you their stories.

For other stories, click here

One such patient was Berta. She immigrated to the United States when she was in her twenties, and she was one of the sweetest women I’d ever met. She was mobile up until she died, wandering around, pushing her walker. You could always hear her coming because she loved to talk, and she loved to call to everyone around her and say hi.

One day, while I was sitting at the nurses’ desk, she came and sat next to me. She babbled for a long time, and we had a fun conversation while I charted, and all of a sudden, she pointed to one of our signs and read it to me. I was shocked, because she hadn’t ever shown the ability to read. Not that I’d really tested, but she’d never been able to sign her own consents, or find her own room, which had her name on it.

I quickly covered any sensitive information, then pulled out a piece of paper, writing her name on it.
She pointed to it with a wide grin.

“Berta! That’s me!”

I grinned. “Yes, it is.”

Again, she pointed to the paper. “Berta! That’s me!”

I knew she spoke German, and it had been years since I’d taken any German classes (3rd-6th grade to be precise) but I did remember a few phrases. I pulled out another paper and wrote a simple phrase. I was curious if she could read German as well.

Ich liebe dich.

She read the words silently at first, and then tears came to her eyes. She read it in German before translating into English. “Ich liebe dich. I love you.” I don’t know if it was reading her mother language, or having someone say those simple words to her. In nursing homes, they don’t get visitors very often, and as much as we care for them, I don’t know that they always feel loved.

Then she got distracted by someone walking by. While she wasn’t looking, I taped the sign right in front of her. Throughout the remainder of the time she sat with me, she would talk to those passing by, and when they left, she’d look down and see ‘Ich liebe dich.’ Every single time, she got excited, and translated it so I knew what I meant.

It’s the small things that make a difference. Sometimes, all they need is love.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meeting a Hero

As I mentioned before, I had the awesome opportunity to attend LTUE last month. It was the experience of a lifetime, and for more than one reason.

Last year, when my friend mentioned the symposium, I was excited to go, though I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then, Shannon Hale posted on her blog she’d been asked to be one of the keynote speakers.

I am a huge Shannon Hale fan.

When I was in junior high, I randomly found her book, Goose Girl, at the library. I’m one of those nerds who read fairy tales from all cultures along with Nancy Drew while in elementary school. I immediately recognized the name of the fairy tale, and I picked it up, intrigued. I hadn’t really read very many fairy tale retellings, and I believe at that time, they were just beginning to become popular.
I took it home and devoured the book. It quickly became an all-time favorite. While reading it, I realized how much fun it would be to write a story of my own, a retelling of one of my favorite stories.

It took me a few years before I found the perfect story, but that novel, inspired by Shannon Hale’s Goose Girl, was the first novel I ever wrote. It was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it holds a very special spot in my heart, because it’s what started me on this whole journey.

When I finally went to LTUE, I was so excited to meet Shannon Hale. She gave a Keynote speech that blew me away. My friends and I couldn’t stop talking about it, and I’ve told my family, friends and coworkers about it. She’s an inspiration in more ways than one, and I was nervous about meeting her.

I’m sure it’s stressful, being under the spotlight like that, having everyone recognize you wherever you are for an entire weekend. But she was pleasant, and took the time to interact with her fans and fellow writers.

One of the things I heard while at LTUE was ‘Pay it forward.’ You never know when something you do for someone else will affect the series of events following. I’m so grateful I have the example of such gracious writers, who are willing to help cultivate the love of writing in young, budding authors.

I just wish I’d written down a list of things to ask her when I finally had the chance. My mind kind of went blank in the moment.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Part of a Set

I’m the oldest of four girls, and we’re all Asian. Have you ever heard the phrase that all Asians look alike? By the way, it goes both ways. There are times when I think all white people look the same.

But I’m digressing…

We do look pretty similar. When I was getting my senior pictures taken, I ended up borrowing clothes from my sister and wearing my hair a little bit differently than normal. When my mom excitedly showed me the final, framed copy, I was confused. I asked her why she framed a picture of my sister.

So if I have a hard time telling us apart, I guess it makes sense that other people can’t see a difference either.

The Sisters, ready for a performance

One of my neighbors once told us: “If you were all the same height and width, you’d be twins!”

We’ve joked about that for a long time, mostly because he couldn’t even remember how many of us there were, and also because we wanted to know why he mentioned the widths.

I’m used to being one of a set. Growing up, I was just one of the sisters. No one really bothered to know our names unless they were close friends. People would call my mom and ask if one of us could babysit. No specific girl, really, we’re interchangeable, just as long as it’s one of the sisters.

When I left home and struck out on my own, it was a little disconcerting to be the only Asian. I wasn’t part of the set anymore, I was a unique individual. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that.

Over time, I changed my appearance, finding my own look. I cut bangs and reverted back to glasses. It took me several years, but I finally feel like Krista Quintana. I’m me, and I’m unique, no longer one of a set.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Why I Became a Nurse

When I was seven-years-old, my mom was driving me somewhere. I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember the exact spot. We were at a stoplight on Drake and Lemay, and another car pulled up beside us. An older man, probably sixty or sixty-five drove the car and he turned, smiled, and waved to me.

It was at that moment the epiphany hit.

I turned to my mom and announced: “Mom, I know what I’m going to be. I’m going to be a nurse for old people.”

There were only two times I ever questioned that decision.

The first time was when I was about nine-years-old. My dad took us to see a production of Oliver! During intermission, my younger sister was swinging around my dad’s legs and fell, splitting her chin open. We were rushed backstage, where the only first aid kit was, and when they couldn’t stop the bleeding, we rushed to the ER.

I was terrified the entire time, and it made me think maybe I was afraid of blood. It was a reasonable conclusion. She was bleeding, and I was scared. It wasn’t until years later I realized it wasn’t the blood that terrified me. It was not knowing what to do. I felt helpless and useless, and I hated the feeling. In emergency situations, I was afraid of making it worse. It took years of training to get over that.

(Now, I draw blood almost every day I work, and it doesn’t bother me, just for those wondering.)

The second time was when I was in nursing school. During the summer, I worked as a CAN at an assisted living. I absolutely loved it. I was finally achieving my dream of working with old people. However, the longer I worked there, the more I noticed that the nurse never did anything. At least, not that I could see on a day to day basis. I wanted to be a nurse to help my patients, but if a nurse doesn’t do that, I figured I might as well stay a CNA.

One of my patients changed my mind. I disagreed with the way his family planned his care. I wanted to do something for him, but as a CNA, I couldn’t. Not really. If I was a nurse, I realized I could advocate for him, because that’s part of the job. It made me want to be a nurse even more, because I could make a bigger difference in the lives of my patients than I could have as a CNA.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Finding My People

Last month, I attended a conference for writers called LTUE: Life the Universe and Everything. It’s a very well-attended symposium for writers of all stages.

I’m not a social persona, and large groups of people terrify me. So the first day, I stayed with my friends, listened to panelists, and most importantly, I didn’t talk to strangers! Day two, I slowly started stepping out of my bubble, but it was painful and terrifying.


Day three, I had a breakthrough.

I went to a panel all on my own, and I sat next to a complete stranger. After some serious inner debating, I decided to start a conversation.

I asked her where she was from. Something simple and nonthreatening. After we chatted a little bit, I took a breath and asked her what she writes. When she told me, I found I was genuinely interested, and we talked about it for a while before she asked what I write.

From there, the conversation became natural, and I didn’t even have to think of what to say. In fact, the conversation was so interesting, the guy on the other side of me joined in. When we started debating plotting vs. pantsing (outlining or writing ‘by the seat of your pants’), two people in front of us turned around to participate.

When the panel started, and we all sat back in our seats, the realization hit me.

These are my people.

When I started to talk about writing, their eyes didn’t glaze over. They didn’t give the timid ‘uh-huh’ while they waited for me to stop talking so they could run away. These people actually cared about what I was saying, and they understood what I was talking about.

When I got home, I excitedly told my husband all about it, asking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was that easy?”

I’ve gone my whole life terrified of speaking to strangers. Of being boring. But it’s not as hard as it looks. All I have to do is say something. Then say something else.

That simple.