Sometimes You Need A Break

Sometimes You Need A Break

It is week four of my blog and I have been writing about things that happened to me once I decided to get serious about writing a book and getting it self published.

Unfortunately, it started with a flood that took months to clear up. Writing about it here caused me stress and to slip into a mild depression, because I have to relive the entire experience to write about it. This week I am going to take a break from the flood story and write about depression and the ways to get through it.

Sometimes a change in your physicality is all you need. My husband is a great one for getting me moving. I am always resistant, but never regret, getting up and out and the endorphins associated from such activities.

Yesterday, was one of those days. I was just feeling so frustrated, because developing a writer’s platform is so difficult. I started this process 4.5 months ago and here is how it stands today.

It is not enough to have friends on Facebook; FB blocks your posts from going out into the feed. Considering I have 1,705 friends I get on average, from 0 to 87 likes…87 out of 1,705?

I haven’t been able to figure out FB algorithm completely. It all depends on what is in the post. If you post a website, then FB wants to generate advertising dollars so they block the post from getting out into the feed.

You have to choose wisely what to promote and then there are no guarantees how many people will see it anyway. I usually have to tag or share a website directly with the people I want to see it.

On my Facebook author page it will say that my post reached 55 people, but not a single person liked it, so whom did it reach?

I created an author’s page and posted it. At first it was like watching a ticker tape with the numbers booming from 0 to 200 in just an hour and then it just stopped. I am currently at 453 likes two weeks later. FB will not allow me to invite people because it wants me to boost and promote it.

It is not enough to have followers on Twitter, if no one is reading or responding to your tweets, right now I have 453 followers and if I am lucky, one out of twenty posts will be “favorited” by one person.

It is not enough to create a website, if no one is going to go to it, read it, share it, subscribe to it and make comments.

I am not tech savvy, why before I started this I didn’t even have a phone that could do anything but make a call. So creating the website was an awesome feat for me. A friend mentioned, after reading my blog posts, that my experience is turning into an odyssey and it is! I had to fight and tame the beast of technology and make it bend to my will and still, I couldn’t authenticate my website, so that my posts would automatically go out to Twitter and Facebook.

The email subscription has been my Cyclops or Goliath that I had to out wit and outsmart in the labyrinth of RSS campaigns. I was so daunted, that while reading my terribly backed up queue on my “to read list,” I fell asleep for four hours on Saturday afternoon, something I never do, being rather hyper in nature.

On Sunday, my husband convinced me to go out and take a swim. We’ve had an unseasonably cool summer, here in the Midwest and that isn’t a bad thing when you consider the high cost of air-conditioning and the danger of elevated temperatures for the elderly and those without air-conditioning, but it is not good for a person who has an unheated pool.

We have a solar cover and it works okay, but with the temperatures dipping down into the 50’s at night our pool remains cold. I like it at about 86 degrees, but that is only refreshing if the outside temperature is in the 90’s or above, where you are hot and want some relief. Our pool temperature is hovering around 79-80 degrees.

Reluctantly, I put on my suit and went out for a swim. It’s tough getting into cold water, the best way, is to just jump in, it’s like the old saying, a coward dies a thousand death, but a hero dies but one. If you try to enter the pool slowly, you die those thousand deaths as the shocking cold water reaches your ankles, calves, thighs etc.…

So I dove in and started swimming. Immediately I’m in heaven asking myself why I had to drag myself to do it? As I was swimming I was brought back to my freshmen year in high school, remembering how I learned to swim. It was just another obstacle I had overcome in my life.

In order for you to understand this story, we will have to go back to the seventh grade and the Iowa Basic Skills tests.

In 1975, when I was twelve years old, I missed the Iowa Basics testing and had a makeup test date. These tests determine your high school placement.

At 12 years old, I didn’t know what the tests were for; I just knew I had to take them. My father worked nights and I had no parental guidance. I would get test anxiety and the stress kept me up all night worrying.

I gave myself plenty of time to walk the mile to school and arrived thirty minutes early.

Just outside the school, I was greeted by, Jessica Giovanni. The Giovanni’s were a well-known family, and the kids were very popular. Jessica greeted me, “Hi Carly, how ya doing?”

I told her about my test and how I didn’t sleep all night, to which she replied, “I’ve got some Columbian Gold. Let’s go smoke some, that will help you with your test.”

I said, “No, smoking pot will not help me take a test.”

To which she replied, “Sure it will!”

Soon others gathered and the peer pressure mounted and I gave in. We walked over to a gangway across the street from the school. I had never smoked pot before, and didn’t want to admit it. I think Jessica could tell, because she started coaching me and soon the bell rang for first period.

Needless to say, this was the worse idea in the world and as I reached the testing center, I realized that I was completely out of it. I couldn’t read, and the test was all multiple-choice questions. I tried to get out of it, by telling the instructor that I was sick. I explained that I hadn’t slept and that I might have the flu.

The instructor insisted that I take the test. I was sitting in an office alone with my number 2 pencil and realized I had to get out of there, so I just started bubbling, I didn’t care.

I lived in a transitional neighborhood in the city of Chicago. My family had lived in our home since the early 1900’s, but the neighborhood had changed. The local high school was 85% African American, 14% Latino and 1% other, which would be me.

I wanted to go to Lane Tech or Prosser Vocational City Wide High Schools, but my Iowa Basic test scores were so low that I couldn’t get in. In fact my test scores were so low that I was put into a remedial reading class, basic math etc.

Freshmen year, first day of school, I reported to my reading lab. I was amazed to see Dr. Seuss books on the shelves. The instructor came up to me and sat me down to explain how the class worked. She told me that I could pick any book in the lab and that I would have two weeks to read it and then we would sit down together and she would ask me questions about the book to see if I understood it. This was an hour long class.

I grabbed the toughest book and sat down and read it cover to cover. I don’t remember the book, but within 15 minutes I was finished. I found the instructor and told her I was done. She didn’t believe me and sat me down to test me.

The test consisted of simple questions. The instructor was in shock that I knew the answers. Her final question was, what does the word perturbed mean? I told her that I had never heard that word before, but the way it was used in the sentence, I figured it meant, mad or angry, and her jaw dropped.

This went on for all of my classes until within two weeks I was in all honors courses.

The school was only two years old. My uncle was one of the architects that designed it and my last name was well known by some of the veteran teachers, having had four siblings go through the school years ago, albeit ten years previously. The best part of the school was that it had an Olympic size pool! I didn’t know how to swim and signed up for swimming as my gym class.

I arrived at the pool to find a pregnant Latina girl, named Rosalinda. We were the only two people out of the entire school who signed up for swimming class. The instructor looked at the two of us and asked if we were going to be okay? To which we replied, “yes.” I never saw that instructor again.

Rosalinda didn’t speak much English, so we swapped lessons, I taught her English and learned some Spanish and she taught me how to swim. We started with the dog paddle and progressed into the breaststroke working our way up to the Australian crawl and backstroke. She had a baby girl over winter break. Rosalinda and I took swimming the entire year.

The next year having aced all of my honors courses, I transferred into Prosser Vocational High School and joined the swim team. I wasn’t the best swimmer, but I made the team! I have been an avid swimmer ever since!

The knowledge that I overcame many obstacles, gave me courage to go on. (Click to tweet)

There is nothing so freeing as swimming for me. It is low impact and amazing, I feel light and free and almost otherworldly when I dive into that pool and swim underwater. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be swimming, just taking a twenty-minute walk can have the same effect, releasing endorphins and relieving depression. So whenever you are in a funk, start moving, dance, walk, run do something active to get those endorphins flowing.

After taking that break yesterday and forgetting about my website, and the inability to authenticate it, with the pressure to read authors books, and wondering when I am going to find time to edit my own work, I was refreshed.

Today, I authenticated my website, so not only will my subscribers get my website posts, but it will also go out to Twitter and Facebook. I did it! This, tech-challenged 50 year-old, did it, proving sometimes you just have to walk away from a situation for a little while to gain a new prospective.

Whatever it is that you want to do, it just takes that first step of putting one foot in front of the other. And if you fail, just try again. I hope this story of how I dug myself out of a very deep hole inspires you to go out there and get what you want.

The moral of the story isn’t just, don’t smoke pot, especially when you are about to take a test, but that through determination and perseverance you can accomplish your goals.

My freshmen year of high school was not a waste either, not only did I learn to swim, but also I learned how finance companies rip-off the poor. I learned simple economics, I read, “Man Child in the Promise Land” and was always picked to be Mayor Jane Byrne in our Mach trails in my Law In the American Society course. I was able to experience a completely different culture.

Most importantly, I learned what I was capable of, having risen from remedial to honors courses in such a short sprint, gave me self-esteem, to realize that I can do anything. I am also now a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor’s Societies. I achieved my entire associates degree with all honor’s courses and received an Academic Scholarship to Elmhurst College; so take that Iowa Basic Skills test!




2 thoughts on “Sometimes You Need A Break”

  1. Casey Harvell: While reading your novel, Doesn’t Play Well With Others, I could relate to the character Selene for obvious reasons and thought you might enjoy this article.

    You are right that we all make mistakes some more than others, but in admitting them we allow others to realize that it is okay. We are all here to learn and there is no one who is perfect.

    I appreciate that you were able to see the humor in this piece. I believe humor can see us through any obstacle that we face. In the end it doesn’t pay to take ourselves too seriously or to scold ourselves too harshly.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this article and respond. I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement.

  2. No matter all else, faith in yourself is key~

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post by Carly. Not only has it led to some insight on her as a person (along with some great comedy that had me laugh out loud) the message within the theme says so much. It’s almost inspirational.

    I love that Carly includes her mistake which leads her down her path. Everyone makes mistakes, but rather than deny them or hide them Carly is proud of them. As well she should be. Messing up that test shaped her into the woman she is today. So take note people: it’s not THAT you screw up–we’re all only human–rather it’s what you DO when you screw up. Kudos, Carly.

    Another key point here is perseverance. Despite getting a handful of lemons past-Carly whips up some damn good lemonade. She didn’t give up, she didn’t take the easy way out and play dumb in her classes after one bad test. She showed each and every teacher EXACTLY what she was made of.

    Sometimes life beats us down. Some days things hit more than others. So have a good sulk and get off your ass. Take a page from Carly’s book and dive right in!

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