You Can’t Drink Poison Then Wonder Why You’re Sick

“Don’t say: ‘That person gets on my nerves.’ Think: ‘That person sanctifies me.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Yesterday was a bad day.

I don’t say that often. I have lazy days, frustrating days, long days, but rarely do I have plain bad days.

Since becoming Catholic in 2011, I’ve worked hard to meet adversity and meanness with charity and compassion. I work hard to control my tongue, and even more control my fingers on the keyboard when on the internet. It’s easy to sit in front of a screen and treat it as a line of demarcation between reality and fiction. When arguing with someone online, it’s easy to forget that there is an actual living, breathing, hurting, loved individual on the other end, no matter how intolerable they are to us personally.

Yesterday, I was not charitable. I did not meet the person with whom I was fighting (someone I once knew personally and intimately) with compassion. Anytime we interact there is tension. Both of us want to get at the other, even when we both claim that we don’t. I chalk it up to unresolved issues that 1. we had when we were dating, and 2. that we have accumulated over the years and not talked through because, well, neither of us really wants to listen.

You could say, “just cut them off, stop talking to them,” but the situation is a bit more complicated. There’s a third-party involved, and that relationship cannot be severed, nor can this party be thrown in the middle of our issues. The one I was fighting with is a person I will have to deal with for the rest of my life, and he is one of the only people in the world towards whom I feel this amount of animosity.

I lost my cool. Not once, but twice. I failed the first incident by responding to what I knew was him baiting me into fighting. I fell for it. I fell into it. I failed the second time by, while claiming that I was done doing this with him, that I was going to try and do better by not stooping to the levels and language that I did, I stooped again. I trash-talked, I made petty (albeit true) comments in a public forum.

I’m not going to try and excuse my behavior. I’m a grown woman and I should know how to act, even and especially on the internet. I failed to set the example that when someone hands you poison, you don’t have to drink it. And drink it I did. Then I proceeded to moan about being sick.

My relationship with this individual was toxic when we were together, and ten years later, it’s still toxic. We both eat at each other, then we both turn around and act like what the other says and does doesn’t bother us. We’re both… excuse me if you will… full of crap. If neither of us cared about the other (in a broad, platonic sense), we wouldn’t nip at each other the way that we do. He wouldn’t do his best to show me how smart and wise and “enlightened” he is, and I wouldn’t waste my time trying to show him that he may be those things but he doesn’t know the first thing about being a father.

Now, this isn’t to say that he on his own is a toxic person. He says that he’s come a long way from who he was when we dated, and maybe he is. I don’t know because all I see is what he posts on Facebook, and what he tells me. And while I tell him that I’m not the same person I used to be, I always revert back to the outrageous, defensiveness 17-year-old I once was. I don’t show him a difference.

He hands me poison, and I drink it.

Two things shook me out of my tirade yesterday: one, a good friend and family member pointing out that I was being hypocritical by saying I didn’t want to stoop anymore, then doing so anyways when I had the chance to prove I’m not that person now; two, my mom said to me, “I hate seeing you like this. You have done SO WELL over the past few years when you weren’t speaking to him and now you’re right back to where you were before, and that’s not you.”

Thank God for people who are willing to set me straight even when it hurts. And I mean that with the utmost sincerity. I was making an absolute ass of myself and I’m sure it got a good “ha-ha” from his end, which of course cripples my pride. But that’s exactly what I need and needed. I need a blow to the pride. I need to remember that this person who keeps goading me into these behaviors has no power if I don’t give it to him. He may goad, but I’m the one who has control over my actions and reactions. I need to remember that he’s a person with aches and pains and past and present hurts just like me. I need to remember that even though he doesn’t claim religion or faith in God, he’s still made in the image and likeness of God. He’s broken, just like me, and we both have a Father who wants to make us better, who hates to see us bicker and hurt each other the way we do.

Right now, I honestly don’t want to be kind to this person. I don’t want to show him an ounce of compassion because I personally don’t think he deserves it. He won’t take it anyways. He’ll see it either as a ploy or a weakness, and he’ll exploit it either way because that’s just how this works. But it’s not really about what think, is it?

I’m done drinking the poison. I’m done letting him get rash reactions from me. I’m done speaking to him unless it involves the third party. Does that mean I’m going to kowtow and bend a knee? Absolutely not. I have the third party to protect, and even if it makes me look like the bad guy, I will never apologize for doing what I deem is in the best interest of said third party.

Mr. Wise and Enlightened can have the last word. He can prove how much smarter and wiser and all-around just a better person he is than me, and I’ll take it. I’ll take humility (and being humiliated) over pride and acting the way that I did yesterday.

Sometimes the suffering that we experience in life is completely self-inflicted, but we can especially in these moments allow God to work through others and show us where we’re lacking, and how we can do better, both for ourselves and those around us. I take full blame for yesterday, from the initial argument to the way it blew up on social media. I took a huge dose of humility, and it’s been much like a panacea to me. It’s been an opportunity for the Lord to remind me that at the core of it, I know nothing of patience, charity, and humility as it applies to temperance.

“Be slow to speak, and only after having first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.” – Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Here’s How You’re Screwing Up Your Kid

There’s this funny phenomenon that occurs when you have kids. Ever heard that saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, almost from the moment you announce your pregnancy, the village arrives ready to shower you in congratulations and unsolicited bits of advice.

This is especially true if you frequent social media.

Articles and videos involving children are almost always guaranteed to be inundated with comments about what the parents should have could have done. No matter how innocuous or innocent the content, someone somewhere is going to be offended.

That’s a risk that comes when you use the internet. And I knew this the day I posted a public video of my 2yo after he smashed an entire carton of eggs on my kitchen floor. In the video, I didn’t know what to do. Laugh? Cry? Scream? It was one of those messes that takes your breath away, and leaves you wondering how someone so small can make such a huge mess in so little a time.

I stood there filming as he belly-flopped in egg guts and chased an unbroken yolk along the linoleum. I didn’t scream at him and make a scene, which, to patrons of the internet, automatically meant I did nothing–I let him make the mess by being a neglectful parent (where was the mom?!), and then, being judged by this one incident, I was accused of raising one of those wretched children who thinks it’s okay to walk all over authority and get away with whatever they want.

Am I upset about some of the comments? I was for about five minutes, before I realized that being upset was pointless. One, because I opened myself up to that kind of criticism by posting it publicly. Two, because no matter what I do as a mom, someone somewhere will not agree. Someone somewhere will slap “if that were my kid…”, or “my children would never…” into the comments. It makes me more upset when I see other parents catching flack.

Parenting blogs can be some of the most savage places on the internet. Why? Because the internet is full of Susie-perfect-mom’s. People who think they know it all when it comes to raising kids. They don’t take into account that every child, every parent, every household is different. They don’t take into account that what worked for them won’t work for some people.

But, hey. To each his own, right? Unless you’re a parent, in which case you’re probably screwing up your kid in some form or fashion. And I figured, since I now have all this amazing wisdom about parenting thanks to the digital village, I might as well share it with you guys!



So here’s a comprehensive list of all the ways you’re screwing up your kids so that you can avoid making these mistakes:

Helicopter mom? – Time to cut the cord, lady. How are they ever going to learn independence?

Free-range mom? – Admit it, you’re just lazy. We all know it.

Co-Sleep? – Yeah, your kid is screwed. They’ll be codependent the rest of their lives.

Let them cry it out at night? – How do you even live with yourself, you cold, heartless monster!

Breastfeed? – Don’t even get me started you promiscuous hippy. You’re probably just trying to steal my husband with your milk bags.

Bottle-feed? – Um, excuse me… do you even know what’s in that stuff?

Natural birth? – Okaaaay, and this makes you special how? What, you think you’re better than everybody? The only reason women opt for natural birth is so that they can brag about it. We all know it.

C-Section? – Oh, girl, please. You didn’t “give birth”, you laid on a table and bled for a few minutes. How are you even considered a real mom?

Feed your child? – But what are you feeding them? It has to be Vegan, gluten, and dye free otherwise your future grandchildren are going to sprout tentacles.

Feed your child a special diet? – Are they allergic to sunlight, too, or what? I mean, really. Enjoy your gross rabbit food.

Medicate for a legitimate medical condition? – I hope you enjoy being a puppet of the pharmaceutical companies. ADHD isn’t even a real thing. Duh. And Autism is only caused by vaccines which you totally could have avoided if you read those fifteen articles I tagged you in. Just sayin’.

Choose not to medicate? – Yeah, good luck with your essential oils and herbs there, witch doctor. Maybe you can smother some coconut oil on your brain.

Spanking? – You know who else believed in spanking? Hitler.

No spanking? – You’re everything that’s wrong with our society. Your children are going to grow up to be entitled and selfish just like you! The only real way to discipline a child is with violence.

Working parent? – What was the point of having kids if you were just going to let someone else take care of them anyways? Awful.

Stay-at-home-parent? – Must be nice to just sit on your butt all day long, sipping wine or drinking beer, and channel surfing. Bro, do you even work?

Public school? – Sure, if you want your child pregnant and on drugs by the time they’re 15. Public school is the devil.

Private school? – Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, but with embroidered uniforms and a cricket team. Woo-woo!

Homeschool? – Homeschool is for religious nut-jobs who don’t want their children to believe in science. Duh.

The moral of the story here, kids, is that someone is always going to have an opinion about the way you parent. Whether it’s your doddering mother-in-law, or strangers on the internet. You just have to take it all with a grain of salt.

Or, you know, you could surrender to the digital village. Because the digital village knows all, sees all, hears all.

lucille-portable

Our 4-Year-Old Is Obsessed with Makeup!

I used to love makeup as a little girl. Every our-4-year-old-is-obsessed-with-makeupchance I got I would ask my Aunt Tabitha to make me Cindy Crawford, complete with a little dot of brown lip-liner on the corner of my mouth and all.

I loved those roll-on lip glosses that smelled and tasted nothing like the advertised flavor, and the little butterfly-shaped eye shadow kits that didn’t come in complementary shades for your particular eye color.

Fast forward 20-or-so years and I now have a 4-year-old daughter who is obsessed with makeup the way most kids her age are obsessed with Thomas the Train or Barbie. Every chance she gets she is in my bathroom globbing ten coats of fingernail polish onto her fingernails (and my countertops), or fishing for my hidden stash of makeup so that she can “be pretty”.

And that right there is where I draw the line.

I never ever wanted my daughter to grow up with the mentality that she needs makeup to be beautiful. And I never ever want my sons to grow up thinking that women need it to be beautiful, either. I want them to value health over beauty. I want them to start with being more concerned about what goes into than onto their bodies.

Now before you go all that’s not what makeup is for! That’s not the only reason people wear makeup! And what’s so wrong with wearing it to help boost your confidence?!, let me say, I see makeup as a form of art. (Does that sound totally hippy-talk? Probably, but whatever. I’m slowly coming to terms with my inner hippy.) I see it as a channel for self-expression and creativity; something that takes time and effort (and money) to perfect.

To be honest, I’m a bit conflicted. On one hand, I see her love of makeup as something that can one day become a career. Which, if this is the case, why not support and nurture it? Why not help her learn how to do all kinds of makeup? Not just beauty makeup. There’s fashion makeup, theatre/stage makeup, COSPLAY MAKEUP!, film makeup… can you tell which one I’m most excited about?!

On the other hand, like I said, I don’t want it to become something negative. I don’t want her to think that, without makeup, she can’t be pretty. As if her beauty is dependent on her ability to properly contour and blend and shade with the right palettes. And I certainly don’t want her walking around looking like Mimi Bobeck, or as if she just stepped off an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras.

Who knows, maybe she’ll grow out of the makeup thing the way I grew out of Leonardo DiCaprio and wanting to be a famous poet who lived in a flat in Prague with my red-haired, bull-fighting husband. (Seriously, some of my phases as a kid were just weird.) Maybe I’m putting to much thought into something she won’t even care about tomorrow. Maybe she’ll wake up next week and decide she wants to be a storm chaser… which was also a phase I went through: me and Bill Paxton wandering Tornado Alley together 4 ever!

Either way, we’ll go with it. ❤

Conversion and Surrender

Becoming Catholic was one of the scariest things I have ever done in life. Since childhood I’d been taught that the Catholic Church was a crooked, greedy, abusive, and judgemental institution where you paid your way into Heaven and only priests were allowed to speak to God. do-not-be-conformed-to-this-world-but-be-transformed-by-the-renewal-of-your-mind-that-you-may-prove-what-is-the-will-of-god-what-is-good-and-acceptable-and-perfect

My conversion to Catholicism didn’t begin with a blinding light and me falling off my proverbial horse like St. Paul. I guess you could say that God and the Church had pursued me my entire life until, at the urging of my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and in order to appease my husband’s family, I agreed to attend RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).

In retrospect, I basically imagine that God clapped his hands and said, “Whelp, that’s that. She’s mine now!” the moment I walked into the RCIA classroom.

Over the next few months, everything that I thought I’d known about the Church and her teachings was stripped away. I began to see the Church for what it was and not for what my poorly catechized family members taught me as a child, or what secular media showed me on television. I asked questions and they were answered. I brought up issues that have long plagued the Church and they were explained, sometimes to the benefit of the Church, and sometimes to its detriment.

My sacramental conversion began when I wanted my husband’s family to like me. I was tired of not knowing that meal-time prayer they all prayed together. I was tired of hearing words like “Holy See” and “Ecclesiastical” and “Pontificate” and not knowing what in the world they were talking about. I was tired of not understand the sit, stand, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, “Amen” in Mass.

My true conversion began when Father Paul asked me if becoming Catholic was really what I wanted to do. He explained that I was free to choose whether or not to become Catholic. I was free to walk away if I didn’t feel it was for me. I sat there in that chair, at this small wooden table, staring at a priest whom I’m pretty sure has the gift to read souls, and realized that I wanted this because I wanted it. Not because of my husband or my soon-to-be in-laws. I wanted to become Catholic because over those many months, I’d fallen in love with the Church, with Christ.

There have been far more profound “yeses” to God in the history of our faith, but mine at that moment felt pretty flipping profound. Why? Because I knew from that moment on I would have to surrender everything to God.

You see, conversion is synonymous with total and utter surrender. You cannot become Catholic without surrendering the former self to Christ. You take your most deep-seated philosophies on life, your most ingrained behaviors and habits, and you surrender them wholly. You empty yourself of who and what you are so that you may be filled with Christ’s love and mercy and grace to become an entirely different creature.

At least, that’s how it goes in theory. But you have people like me who cling desperately to facets of the former self, who battle with God over who’s will will be done. You have people like myself who are afraid to trust in God and step out of their comfort zone in order to achieve the change we need to grow. And so you wake up every morning and you surrender again and again and again, until the issue is resolved and God reveals another part of you that could be better, holier, and you start all over.

As Bishop Robert Barron says, in essence, having a relationship with Christ is like taking a piece of glass, which in darkness can appear perfect, unblemished, and turning it toward the light where suddenly you can see the flaws, the imperfections. And the beautiful part about it is that we’re given the tools to wipe the glass clean, to mend the fractures and see clearly. When we smudge the glass again, we’re given the tools necessary to wipe it clean, if only we’re willing to first accept that there is a blemish, and then accept that we need the help to mend it.

I wasn’t simply converting from one belief or faith to another (I was a polytheistic Pagan before my conversion), I was converting my entire existence to center around one Truth, and that Truth called for me to make radical, necessary changes. And I didn’t look at these things and think “wow, the Church is so oppressive and doesn’t want you to have fun!” For the first time I saw that these guidelines for the Church were no different than my having expectations of behavior from my children, of giving them a bedtime and helping them to establish healthy life habits. It was no different than my wanting the absolute best for my children, for them to be good, honest people, and doing my best–as their parent–to set them on the right path, to teach them the right things, and to implement discipline where necessary.

Any parent who truly cares for and loves their child is going to have rules and regulations to keep them from hurting themselves or others. They place rules not to keep the child silent and still, but to ensure that they can LIVE and live WELL. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. But that’s a different conversation for a different time.

I’ve been Catholic for five-and-a-half years now, and I can tell you that every day I go through small conversions, and every day I must renew my surrender to God. It’s a lifelong process. Even Mother Teresa spent hours in the confessional, surrendering her cotton-ball sins to Christ. Even up to our dying breath, we must surrender to His will.

 

I’m Not Raising My Sons to Please Your Daughters

Raising children can be one of the most terrifying jobs in the world. The future of an entire human being rests on your shoulders. How you raise them to treat others will one day play into the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands of people they encounter. How they go out into the world will rely heavily on the values and morals yoim-not-raising-my-sons-to-please-your-daughtersu instilled in them from their first breath.

No pressure, though, right?

Now, I understand those circumstances when you do your best as a parent and they still grow up to get into unsavory things and become rather unsavory characters. It’s only to be expected what with free will and all. We can only do so much to try and give them the best shot at life, but once those wings take off from the nest, their decisions are their own, and all you can do is lay in bed at night praying your hardest that they’re safe and happy. Or, if you’re Catholic, you can pray diligently for intercessions from St. Monica whose son, St. Augustine, was basically a hot mess before becoming one of the most-loved Saints, Doctor of the Church, and author of the famous line, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” (If you’re not familiar with the story, in short, St. Monica chased St. Augustine down both with her feet and her prayers until his conversion.)

From an early age, my husband and I try to instill in our children a respect for all peoples, for all living things, and for our planet. We teach them that all persons should be treated with dignity, even when they don’t treat themselves with much dignity; even when someone makes them angry, hurts them, or talks down on them. I know that this is counter-cultural in a world that is so vocal against perceived injustices toward the individual, but whatever.

For our sons, we teach them to hold doors. We teach them to be gentlemen. More than anything we teach them to see more than just a body when they look at another person. We teach them against the dangers of objectifying people; of the detriments not just to the other person, but to themselves as well when they take this view.

We teach our daughter that, while it’s polite for a gentleman to hold the door open for her, what’s more important is whether or not she holds the door open for herself and for others. And if a boy/man chooses not to hold the door open for her, not to take it as a personal insult to her femininity, which should never be determinant on how someone treats her, man or woman. Just like with all of our children, we do our best to teach her that her value should not ­be measured by another person’s thoughts, opinions, or actions. Nor should they expect that another person’s value is based on their thoughts, opinions, or actions. As Christians, we understand that a person’s value is inherent from God, through Christ.

And so—and pardon my expletive here—I will be damned if another person ever makes my children feel as if their existence revolves around that person’s happiness. I see it every day, these memes and cute photographs of couples that say things like, “a real man treats his woman like a queen”, or “a real man will do a, b, and c, to keep his woman happy [even if said conditions and expectations are completely ludicrous].”

I’m just going to throw this out there: our society needs to STOP trying to raise boys whose sole purposes are to cater to women. We need to stop treating boys and men like incompetent apes who can’t function without the guidance of a woman.

A stay-at-home-dad? Haha! I bet the kids eat nothing but macaroni-and-cheese and watch baseball naked; does the guy even know how to put toilet paper on the roll? A dad who works ridiculous overtime to provide for his family? Well, a real man would attend his little girl’s dance recital instead of working the hours needed to even put her in ballet if he really loved her. But wait, there’s a man who actually seems like a decent guy, who is helpful and competent and loving? His wife must have trained him well.

I’ll be damned if a girl or woman comes along and makes my sons feel as if they have to grant her every wish and whim in order to prove they love her, even if it comes to her doing things that are damaging to her well-being. Sadly, I’ve seen it before, where a man who truly loves and cares for his girlfriend/wife tries to keep her from self-destructive behaviors and she and everyone else turns him into a controlling misogynist with an intrinsic desire to oppress anything with a vagina!

We’re not raising our sons with the sole purpose of pleasing your daughters. We’re not raising them to treat her like a queen while she treats him like a peasant. We’re not raising our sons to be with women who think they have to be “trained” in order to make good husbands and fathers. We’re not raising our sons to be servants and henchmen. We’re raising them to be men who are respectful towards all people, who treat everyone around them with dignity, who will be helpful, charitable, and kind, but know when and how not to be taken advantage of. We’re raising our daughters the same way.

            We’re raising our children with the understanding that men and women are biologically different. They see, smell, hear, taste, and feel—both emotionally and physically—differently from each other, and that’s okay. Each gender has their strengths and weaknesses, and they were meant to be complementary. This doesn’t mean that one sex is better or worse than the other. This doesn’t mean that we have to treat the opposite sex poorly because of their short-comings. So please, parents, don’t raise daughters who look down on men. Don’t raise sons who look down on women. Raise kids who have respect all around. Raise kids who know their true value isn’t dependent on who loves them, who hates them, or how pretty they are.

Today on: Guess What Gayle Did! Vol. 46

Our 4-year-old is quite a character. With two older brothers, she is not a dainty young lady. She’ll dig in the mud, show you the food in her mouth (uninvited), participate in the daily wrestling matches that we’ve all but given up trying to quell between our boys, and so, of course, her favorite thing right now is poopcopy-of-today-onthe-world-of-gayle

Not Disney princesses, not Peppa Pig, not playing dress-up. POOP.

Tonight was Open House at the children’s school. For those of you who may not know what an Open House is, it’s when the school invites parents to come in, meet with the teachers, and take a look at all the different things their kids have been up to so far. Daddy was kind enough to take Gayle and her older brother, Isaak, while I stayed home with the babies and her oldest brother, Aidan.

Let’s just say that after tonight we’ve now come to realize just how deep her obsession with poop runs.

Gayle showed Daddy her activity book where she draws an assortment of pictures based on a prompt from the teacher. As Daddy is thumbing through the book, he sees a prompt for Gayle’s favorite color.

Gayle’s favorite color? “Poop”, as she said. Not brown, which was the color on the page, but poop.

He flipped to the next page where there were several small green-faced characters drawn around a very large character with a green face. Who was the large character? “Daddy,” she said. Why was his face green? “Because you’re pooping!” She said. And what did daddy have in his hand? A huge glob of–you guessed it–poop. She’d even drawn small piles of poop around all the smaller little stick figures. All of this she explained in the true fashion of four-year-olds, loud and proud for all the parents and students to hear!

Of course, I had to take my chance to pick on my husband so when he told me this story, I burst into hysterics and told him she must think he’s full of [expletive]. He frowned, I laughed harder. It was a good time.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. She specifically chooses chocolate candy from the store so that, with every bite/piece, she can say, “Mom, look! I’m eating poop!” When I put chocolate syrup in her milk? “Look, mom, I’m drinking chocolate poop!”

We’ve pretty much stopped reacting to the whole poop situation, but tonight was just too good not to share. We hope this is just a phase. If not, maybe it means she’ll grow up to be a gastroenterologist or something? I’m all for a doctor in the family!

How to NOT Lose Your Entire Manuscript — Like I Did

I’m still pretty raw over the whole ordeal, so, without going into too much tear-jerking detail, I lost my ENTIRE manuscript last Friday. If you’ve never had this happen to you, good! I sincerely wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. It feels a lot like losing a piece of your soul. That may seem melodramatic but trust me, I can’t even delineate just how MUCH it sucks to lose your story. how-to-not-lose-your-entire-manuscript-like-i-did

Of course, I took to my writer’s group on Facebook to express my absolute sorrow, and while I was met with many condolences, I was also met with many wonderful ideas of how to safeguard against this happening EVER again that I wanted to share with you.


E-Mail Your Work to Yourself

Probably of one of the simplest methods to backing up your work is to e-mail yourself a copy of your work. You can do this however often you feel is necessary, but I would honestly suggest doing this everyday after you’ve written. Even if all you did was 300 words, that’s 300 words you’re going to hate to have lost later. If you don’t trust that it won’t get lost in your own e-mail, you can always e-mail it to your extremely trustworthy Aunt Eunice whom you know won’t steal your work.

External Hard-Drive and/or Flash Drive

My husband purchased a 1 terabyte hard drive a few years ago and it was one of the best ideas he’s ever had. But the trick is to USE IT. I didn’t. Don’t make my mistakes. Like with the e-mail, save a copy of your manuscript to the drive regularly. I’m leaning particularly toward using a flash-drive because of portability, but I also have this bad habit of losing small things, so if you’re like me, might I suggest getting one that you can attach to your key ring with your house and car keys.

Dropbox

I enjoy Dropbox. It’s an easy-to-use site and app that allows you to store and share (optional) files, photos, videos, etc. They have good security features plus file recovery. But, again, you actually have to utilize it for it to do any good. *pointed look at myself* I also like it because you can link up with other Dropbox users and share/swap files. I used it for work and it was a hell of a lot easier than sending a million e-mails back and forth.

Set a Recovery Point On Your PC

In short, a restore point will allow you to reset your computer’s operating system to a certain point of your choosing–or to an automatic point that was set by your computer. So say your manuscript disappears into oblivion and you hadn’t been smarter than me and backed up a most recent version of your work in other places, you can use a restore point to get your story back, or at least the most recent version as of the reset point. For information on how to set a restore point on Windows, go here. For Mac, go here. And seriously, don’t bother asking me any technical questions because my dad may have been accepted to MIT, but I didn’t get those genes. I got the artsy-fartsy genes instead.

Save Your MS Under a Different File Every Time

One of the suggestions I got was to always save your MS under a different name every time you’ve written–WITH DATES. That way, if you lose one file, maybe an older (or newer) version will be there. It sounds a bit neurotic but I’d rather be neurotic than crying over my lost MS for two days again. This is when an external hard-drive or flash drive will come in handy so you don’t bog down your computer with tons of files, which is especially an issue on laptops as I’ve learned.

Google Docs

I used Google Docs a lot before I got Word. There were several suggestions to save a copy of my MS to Google Docs regularly. My only issue with this is I’m uber paranoid about my account being hacked and my story stolen. My husband and myself had our Amazon account hacked and our bank account drained of what little was in there in the first place so now I’m flat out petrified of it happening again with something just as precious. -.- I don’t know what would feel worse, losing my story, or seeing it published under someone else’s name? Because, you know, that’s EXACTLY why people hack e-mail accounts.

If Worse Comes to Worst – Pay Someone To Fix It

More than anything, people suggested I take my computer to someone tech savvy. Fry’s, Staples, Geek Squad, you name it. They also suggested this for when your system crashes, you spill something on or break your computer, or you’re the unfortunate victim of a virus. “The file is there, you just have to get someone who can find it,” is what they said. If you’re capable and willing to dish out the dough, this would be my first suggestion if you did lose your work. Even if they can’t spare your device/computer, if they can at least save your files, right?

Don’t simply rely on auto-saves and traditional file saves onto your hard drive for your hard-wrought work. Stuff happens. Life happens. Technology can be a fickle, unreliable beast. Be a better writer than myself and backup your work! Be neurotic and obsessive about it if you must. Better safe than sorry, because trust me, trying to rewrite 40k words from memory because you’re also a Pantser writer who doesn’t plan your novels beforehand is a right pain.