September 2010  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

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Word "Pair" of the Month: counsel, council, consul

These three words, pronounced alike and all pertaining to guidance, have their own specific meanings.

The word counsel, used either as a noun or a verb, refers to advice.

We sought advice from our corporate counsel, the attorney who counsels us on acquisitions.

(Note that a lawyer is often referred to as “Counselor,” and the advice he or she gives is called “counsel.”)

The noun council refers to an administrative body.

We had to present the proposal to the executive council.

Finally, the noun consul refers to a government official in a foreign country.

When our passports were stolen in Paris, the American consul was able to help us get new ones.

September Writers' Forum Question

If there’s anything the current economy has taught us, it’s that nothing is certain and no one’s job is secure. How are you dealing with the uncertainty of the job market? Do you feel safe? Why or why not? Share your ideas and concerns, and you might help others who are concerned about the future.

This was a sobering question, but one we thought important. Apparently, so did you, because we received quite a few comments on it.

Tina Ulrich of Des Moines reflected on the fears—and hopes—of Americans everywhere.

It’s been a rough year for me. I had to postpone graduate school because the funds just weren’t there, and working my current job is not really how I want to spend my life. I guess all I can do is keep going, though. At least I have a job, and I’m not about to drop it unless I know I have something better. It’s scary out there.

Markus Robinson of Secaucus, New Jersey, feels much the same, but he remains optimistic. We like his analogies, too.

If we’re not at the bottom, we’re at least near it and still sinking, so we have to keep treading water. I thought my job would be a stepping stone to something bigger, but then the bigger stones were thrown overboard to keep the ship afloat. So I’m still small, but I’m still onboard, and nowadays, that’s a good thing.

Tracy Nienhaus of New York is trying to adapt.

Don’t ask. After I graduated college with a degree in art history, I discovered there were no jobs in my field. I had to move back in with my folks and was running down every lead with no luck. I finally realized I had to retrain for a job that still existed, so I took some classes at the local tech school. I got a certificate in lab technology and found a job in a hospital. Is it what I wanted to do? No, but I discovered I actually enjoy the work and the people, and I’m thinking of going back to become a nurse.

Sunni Masterson of Sacramento wrote about her frustrations.

I have a great job in sales, but I sweat every day, worried about not making my quota, losing a big account, or just being downsized out of a job. It’s scary, but you suck it up, work a little harder, and just keep going. We make our choices and we have to live with them and keep hoping they were the right ones.

Matt Reeger of Waterville, Maine, had a more philosophical comment.

Being laid off at age 51 when the C. F. Hathaway Company closed in 2002 was like a cold splash of water. I realized there were no equivalent positions nearby, and younger people willing to work for less were snatching up what jobs were available. Frankly, I didn’t know how I’d make the mortgage. My wife and I talked things over, along with our young-adult daughters, and we began to see all sorts of ways to cut expenses. We sold an extra car and carpooled more, decreased our cable plan, reduced cell-phone usage, and ate out less. One daughter decided to keep living at home and contribute what she would have paid for rent instead of getting an apartment. I found work at a nonprofit organization that pays less, but the job is more rewarding and less stressful. As a result, I managed to quit smoking. All in all, we may be poorer at the bank, but our lives are richer than ever.

A Final Thought

Whatever your frustrations, aggravations, or fears about your job, please take a little time now and then to laugh and relax. Nothing is worth the loss of your health. Look around at the important things you have—love, family, friends—and just breathe. Those moments are golden and will get you through.

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Blog entries so far in September include…

Staff Articles

Avoiding Sentence Errors

Using the Right Word


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