What I Learned This Year

Instant Quiz

Can you improve the sentence below? Scroll to the bottom of today’s post for the answer.

We use the standard definition for “full-time employee,” i.e. 35 or more hours per week.


Charlie and I are vaccinated, and we rarely wear masks any more (though we still carry them with us). I’m hoping that the frequent-hand-washing habit we developed this year will stay with us.

We know a number of people who had COVID, and I’m happy to report that all of them pulled through.

When the sheltering-in-place orders were first announced in 2020, I made two important decisions. The first was to do everything I could to avoid getting infected with COVID.

The second was to make some serious progress on the Shaw book I was writing. I set a goal of two completed chapters.

It’s now more than a year since everything shut down. (Who knew it would be that long?) The Shaw book is…finished! (Ta-da!) A publisher is looking at it right now.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing about some of the lessons I learned while writing the book. Or – in some cases – relearned.

Here’s the most important one: I need to acknowledge my limitations.

I consider myself an excellent time manager. (In fact I’ve written a book about my quirky time-management system: Five Minutes a Day.) The first chapter is about the Hercules myth (also called the “All-or-Nothing-Myth”). It’s the fallacy that we can – and should – be able to get everything done.

Before the pandemic, I’d spent months and months writing a book about Bernard Shaw in my spare time. All I had to show for all that time and effort was one completed chapter and lots of abandoned attempts at other chapters.

It looked as if I’d never finish it. In fact it looked as if I’d never finish Chapter Two.

Hunkering down for the pandemic (no socializing, no dancing, no traveling, minimal housework) gave me the time and space to think deeply about the book I was writing

A year has gone by, and I’ve written a book I’m proud of. Ironically, however, I’m also somewhat more humble than I was a year ago. I discovered (for the umpteenth time!) that I’m not Superwoman.

I’m not the kind of person who can wrestle difficult content into a book while keeping a spotless house, dancing at every opportunity, and whizzing around with my friends.

One Thing at a Time. If you’re facing a difficult challenge, it’s a good rule to follow!

Superman comic book cover


Short Pencil Point Deviant Art ok

Instant Quiz ANSWER

There’s no need for Latin abbreviations like “i.e.” and “e.g.” English equivalents are available!

I’ll concede that etc. is okay – but only when you’re writing or speaking informally. I’ll also make an exception for the King of Siam. (Any other Rodgers and Hammerstein fans out there?)

We use the standard definition for “full time” – 35 or more hours per week.  BETTER

What Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You is available in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.com and other online booksellers.
“A useful resource for both students and professionals” – Jena L. Hawk, Ph.D., Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

“Personable and readable…Jean knows her subject forwards and backwards.” – Adair Lara, author of Hold Me Close, Let Me Go


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