November 2009  
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"The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon."

--Robert Cormier

Word Pair of the Month: loose, lose

Ah, the trouble a little "o" can cause! That's the case with our word pair for this month.

The word "loose" refers to something that is not tight, or to something that is unfastened or set free. It can be used as an adjective, as in the sentence Watch out for the loose paving stones in this path, or it can be used as a verb, as in the sentence She loosed a string of expletives that shocked us.

Meanwhile, the word "lose," a verb, refers to misplacing something, as in the sentence I never want to lose the pen my father gave me.

Here's a clever way to remember which is which: Consider how the word "loose" is related to the word "free" - two e's in "free," two o's in "loose." As for the word "lose," consider its meaning - to mislay or drop - as when you "lose" that extra "o."

November Writer's Forum Question

It's that time of year again. Thanksgiving approaches, marking the start of the holiday season, and we are reminded to make the annual assessment. So look around your home…the office…and consider what the year has brought. No matter what adversities we've faced, we all have something we can be thankful for. Just remembering that can be enough to get us through the hard times. Share with us, and let us share your message with other eTips subscribers.

Not surprisingly, the bulk of this month's replies followed the theme of being thankful to have a job! But there were other thoughts on the subject as well, some humorous, and some touching. Here are some of the best.

Manda Harrison of Fort Lauderdale gave us a chuckle with her response:

I am thankful for sand, sea, and sky! I recently relocated from Maine to Florida, and with winter approaching, I am really happy to not be hunched around a space heater again this year!

Meanwhile, Lowell Dains, of Eugene, Oregon, also had to relocate, but he took a more serious view:

This has been a difficult year for me. I lost my job and finally got another, but I had to move cross-country for it, leaving my family and friends behind. However, I have also found the love of my life here, and we'll be married in the spring. I guess I am just grateful for what is either a grand master plan, or just terrific good luck even in adversity.

Melinda Silverman of Chicago wrote this:

I am really grateful for employers who are genuinely concerned about their workers. While firms around us were laying off people left and right, our bosses got creative to avoid that. There won't be any bonuses or raises this year, but the higher-ups are taking the same bullets, so we don't mind tightening our belts. We're all still here and we all have paychecks, and that means a lot!

Finally, Winston Tubbs, a research librarian in New York, had this to say:

Don't laugh, but I am totally grateful for plain old computers! I'm old enough to remember the days of manual research, and I just don't know how we did it! What used to take all day takes only minutes now. I can quickly access materials and go about organizing my findings. I may be an old dog, but I'll tell you, I bless any and all new technology. Having to continually learn new software and programs keeps me young, I think, and the changes happen often enough to keep me going forever!

A Final Thought

Take this transitional month to try something new. But think small. For example, if you're a coffee drinker, switch out one cup for an unusual tea. There are some amazing flavors out there, including herbal teas that nix the caffeine. A new taste can break your routine and give you a fresh outlook on the day. Choose something a little spicy or unusual. You may not believe it, but even a little change can make a big impact on your day.

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