Shelley Widhalm

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

One Serendipitous Day

In Shyness, Talking, Writing on March 27, 2011 at 4:15 am

On a scale of 1 to 10 for meeting my shyness challenge, I get a 6. Yes, I asked someone to coffee, but we haven’t had coffee yet. The circumstances around my coffee inquiry, oddly enough, connect back to the novel I just finished writing.

Last Thursday, I attended a young professionals networking event and talked to a few people, which I consider to be an accomplishment. When I first started attending the networking group, Stir, I found it easier to decorate the walls than talk to strangers. But people would approach me and I would talk back, because after meeting someone, I can come up with all kinds of things to say.

Anyway, after six-plus months of going to the Stir events, I knew enough people to move in and out of conversations. I greeted Andrea, who I met at a previous Stir event. She was talking to a woman named Michelle, a business owner who started a conference focused on empowering possibilities and making needed life changes.

Michelle explained how she started her business during the recession, mainly because she needed a job, and in doing so found her calling.

“What you’re talking about sounds like my novel,” I said.

I explained how “One April Day” is about a 30-something woman named Maggie who gets laid off from a newspaper and, after six months of luckless job searching, moves home with her parents. Through her losses, she gets confused about her purpose in life, even though she finds another writing job that she hates. In essence, Maggie got laid off before her birthday on April 29 but a year later on April 30 when she expects to get laid off again, she realizes that her calling was there all along.

After I finished my elevator speech, Michelle excitedly showed me a flyer for the conference – it’s on April 29-30. Without putting it into religious terms, it basically was serendipity or an amazing coincidence. In the least, it was strange, as it was when my watch stopped just as I finished my novel.

My novel writing is like the whole shyness thing, where I get scared of rejection. I know that I have to try, or I’ll blend into the wall, waiting and waiting. Hoping. Trying. But not turning possibility into change.

At the end of our talk, Michelle said I should email her, so we could chat, and I said, “Let’s get coffee.”

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Coffee Break, Or Not?

In Challenge delay, Coffee shops, Reuniting with Zoey, Shyness on March 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

I’m girl with dog again following two weeks separation. Zoey stayed with my dad while I worked on editing my novel. I got through the first edit, spending about 35 hours on it. I wouldn’t have gotten that much done if I had Zoey with me, because after work, I need to take her on a walk, play with her and give her some dog-and-me time.

After I posted my last blog, I realized I didn’t follow through on my shyness challenge to ask someone out to coffee. I had my eye out for possibilities during the last two weeks and found myself coming up with excuses.

If I interviewed someone interesting while reporting, I thought, well, they might think I’m coming on too strong or crossing some professional boundary. I considered coworkers until a couple of women asked me to lunch and another group asked me to dinner – the result was I didn’t make the first move.

I haven’t met anyone new otherwise, yet another excuse. I guess it’s because I’m hiding in my shell. I talked with my brother about it, and he said he wanted to approach somebody on Friday about something social and instead got a lot done.

What do we do?

It’s easy to come up with excuses, to think that sitting at home or reading a book is preferable to taking a chance, but is it?

Zoey, the most outgoing dog I’ve met, loves to go up to new people for potential pets. I need to do the same, except what I would be doing is saying a simple, “Hello. How about coffee?”

It can’t be that hard. Right? So next week, I cannot hang onto my ready-made excuse list.

Girl without Dog

In Best Friends, Dad's house, Hard goodbyes, Novel editing on March 13, 2011 at 5:23 am

Yep, I’ve been girl without dog for six days. My dad, who visited me and my brother last weekend, is taking care of her until next Saturday. I “loaned” her out for two weeks for two reasons.

First, my dad had grown attached to her after being her caretaker for a few months while I was living with my mother (see previous blogs). He hinted a few times that he would gladly take her while I was working on my novel, which I finished last month.

Second, I wanted some concentrated time to work on editing my novel. With Zoey, my miniature dachshund, I have to provide her with love and attention, including playtime and walks, every day after work. I knew I couldn’t meet my self-imposed deadline to meet with an agent at a conference this month to present my book. But I decided to postpone the conference scene until my book is tight as a Ziploc bag. I still kept the deadline, but it’s extended to the end of the month.

My dad, who lives in eastern Colorado, took Zoey with him on Monday, and I worked on my novel that afternoon (I have Mondays off in exchange for Saturdays). I thought, “I’m dealing,” until I got home from the coffee shop and faced my empty apartment. I cried and the next night, too, thinking that I should just get on with my work But I hadn’t realized until Zoey was gone how attached I’ve become to my canine best friend.

I guess I’m a sucker for her doggie kisses, her wiggly-butt greetings and her rough-housing play as I try to make my bed in the mornings.

Okay, only six more days …

Girl with Dog

In Best Friends, Coffee shops, Going on walks, Going out, Shyness on March 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

I have become known as the girl with dog, at least in the small city where I live. I have a few acquaintances, some from my job as a journalist, and run into them at coffee shops, restaurants and downtown. If I’m dressed casual after normal work hours and don’t have my miniature dachshund, Zoey, with me, they ask, “Where’s your dog?” It’s like we’re a unit, my 9-pound best friend and I.

Our hanging out together during after-work hours started with a conflict of interest. Being a single girl for a couple of decades (with boyfriends thrown in here and there), I got used to doing what I want in my free time. And then I adopted a dog with needs, particularly for going on walks, getting pets and being social.

As a coffee shop lover, I started taking my squirmy dog with me to a downtown coffee shop, so that I could read and satisfy her needs for getting attention. At first, she didn’t want to be a lapdog, but after a few weeks, she learned that it was a compromise – she sits on my lap and people come up to us and want to pet her.

I take her to open houses and events that allow dogs and into shops that do the same. The result – when I am sans dog, it’s like I’m missing my purse. I run into people who ask that question, where is she?

Zoey, too, loves our regular coffee shop. When we’re actually trying to take a walk and pass the shop, she pulls me to the door and scratches on the glass, as if saying, “Let me in!” “The shop is closed,” I tell her. “We can come back tomorrow.” Scratch. Scratch.

I feel bad for her, my friendly girl who wants to go inside for attention, a free bone and some love.

My challenge next week is to ask someone out for coffee who I normally would not, because I would tell myself, I’m too shy. I just might bring my dog, too.