Thursday, September 18, 2014

Confessions of a Terrible Mother

I have something to admit. Something I hate to even type, much less say out loud. Being the perfectionist that I am, I can barely bring myself to think it. But here it is:


Some days I wonder if I was really meant to be a mother. 

There. I said it. 

For as long as I can remember I've wanted to be a mom. I have never imagined my future without children, a family. And yet some days, when I'm losing my patience and nearing my boiling point with my spirited (read: stubborn, smart, challenging) toddler, I wonder if I was really cut out for the job I so willingly took on. 

Maybe I've made plans to hit the playground and story time at the library, but it's 2 PM and I have yet to get myself dressed after a morning of time-outs. Maybe I woke up with the goal of (finally) getting the laundry washed and folded, but am climbing into bed without even washing my hair much less the mountains of dirty clothes that just keep growing. 

Days like these (and oh-so-many other examples) make me feel like a complete failure as a mother. The voice in my head tells me I should be able to do it all, to keep the house running, keep the kids fed and entertained, keep it all together. But almost every day I go to bed reciting a mental list of all the thing I did wrong--or didn't do at all. 

I try to remind myself that I'm only one person. I listen as Hubby tells me I'm doing fine, doing all I can. Still the voice needles me, telling me I can--and should--be doing better. 

"Your toddler doesn't listen to a word you say. You need to teach him to be obedient," it says.  

"You didn't do the dishes today? Tomorrow you have to wash them and put them away."

"Why can't you make time for your writing? If you really wanted it you'd find the time."

Over and over these thoughts run through my head and I start to feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished. I wonder how someone who wanted something so badly could be so utterly terrible at it. 

And then my toddler comes over to me and says, "Snuggle the mommy," asking to curl up with me for some cuddle time. He kisses me and tells me he loves me and holds my hand and I realize I can't be as terrible as I think I am at this parenting thing. I do the best I'm able to do, and at the end of the day that's what matters. 

Am I going to mess something up every day: get angry, skip chores, fail at being perfect. Absolutely. But as I snuggle up with my toddler I realize I'm not messing up nearly as badly as that voice in my head wants me to believe.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Stepping Out

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to be at a local conference for writers. I've paid my registration fee. I've organized schedules so that Hubby is available to spend the day with the Peanut. I've pulled out my business cards, even if they do have my maiden name on them, and dusted off my rarely used tablet. I'm as ready as I can be for a full day of networking and learning.

But it's been a couple of years since I've mingled with other writers or attended a conference. I'm completely out of the writer's loop--and that scares the crap out of me. I feel like a newbie walking into a room full of strangers. I'm not sure who will be there of those I used to see regularly, and I'm sure there will be plenty of new faces. Will the regulars remember me? Will I remember them? Will I feel welcome, as though I'd never disappeared from their circle, or will it be as though I'm a new writer all over again?

I'm nervous, to say the least, but I'm excited, too. There's something inspiring and motivating about being around a group of fellow creatives, and I'm already preparing to soak up all that energy. I've roped a writer friend into coming with me, and this will be her first conference experience, so I'm also looking forward to being her introduction to the local writing scene.

In the spirit of being optimistic, I'm reminding myself of tips I've given to others in the past, back in the days when I attended writing events frequently:

1. Network, network, network. I'll try to talk to as many people as I can. I'll introduce myself to whomever I find myself sitting or standing next to and I'll introduce my friend to anyone I meet. I'll exchange contact information with each of them, on the off chance that we might be able to help one another in the future.

2. Follow up. I'll make sure to be in contact with every person whose contact information I collect within a couple weeks of the conference. I want to reconnect with the writing community and this is a great way to begin building relationships again.

3. Take notes. I won't just be taking notes on the sessions I attend. I'll also make sure to take notes on the back of business cards so that I remember something significant about each person I meet. This will help when I write those follow-up emails later.

4. Ask questions. People like to talk about themselves and their projects, and what you hear when you ask questions will tell you a lot about the people you meet. I'm a firm believer that if you ask questions and listen closely, you'll learn more than you would in any classroom.

5. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself. Have a pitch about the book you're working on. Know what "you do" so that when the inevitable question comes up you can quickly respond with a succinct summary of the types of work you do.

6. Be open. More than anything I want to be open to whatever I'm supposed to learn and whomever I'm supposed to meet at this conference. I believe that an openness to creativity, thoughts, and people will help me to get the most out of the experience. Opportunities and ideas can abound it I'm ready for them.

Wish me luck as I wade back into the world of writers!


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Friday, December 06, 2013

Book Spotlight: Make Freelancing REALLY Pay

Since I'm in the throws of building my freelance career alongside being a full-time mom, I'm always on the lookout for resources to help me be a better freelance writer. When I was approached to check out Make Freelancing REALLY Pay by Daisy McCarty, I was immediately intrigued.  Today I have a guest post from the author to share.

There's also a great giveaway at the end of the post, so read on for your chance to win!

Guest Post: Daisy McCarty

What Is Feedback Worth to Freelance Writers?
Getting feedback as a writer can be uncomfortable. But it’s also one of the best ways to improve your skills so you can actually get paid for what you do. Of course, not all ways of seeking feedback are equally effective. Here are some pitfalls to avoid and what to do instead:

If You Can’t Say Something Nice…
Some freelancers visit local writers’ group in the hopes that it will improve their writing skills. Sadly, offering any type of constructive criticism in such settings is often viewed as inappropriate. While a supportive and encouraging environment is nice, it isn’t going to help you increase the value of your writing services or boost your income. That’s why online forums and groups (such as those on LinkedIn) are often more helpful for freelancers. People can sometimes be unkind online, but a virtual discussion group may also offer other professional writers the chance to be frank about areas of your writing that need improvement. This feedback will help toughen your hide for encounters with clients, where you really need to be able to keep your cool.

The “Work for Free” Trap
In one of the more controversial chapters in my book, Make Freelancing REALLY Pay, I advise freelance writers to avoid working for free. Even if it’s for a good cause or to get “exposure”, the practice of giving away your services for nothing (agreeing that your writing has no monetary value) is very damaging. Once you’ve established that pattern, it’s tough to start charging profitable rates for your writing. Why do I bring this up? I have seen other freelancers advise new writers to write for magazines for free so they can get feedback from editors about their work. I completely agree that having a professional editor go over your work and offer suggestions for improvement is valuable. But I think it’s so valuable that you should actually hire your own editor as a writing coach. When you pay an editor, their focus is on making you a better writer to meet your career goals. Then, once you know that your writing meets excellent standards, you can approach clients with more confidence and charge a respectable rate.

Don’t Wait for “Feed-back” – Get “Feed-front”
Listening to feedback you receive from a client after you’ve submitted a first draft is essential for freelance success. However, an even more important step is obtaining as much guidance as possible up front. Soliciting information during a verbal or emailed discussion before you start writing will make you a much more productive writer. As an example: for web content projects, I often include one free revision per page in my bid price. About half the time, my clients ask for no revisions at all – even on large projects. Since I bid on a per project basis, this means I’m making more money per hour of work. Over time, I’ve developed a good idea of the kinds of things clients tend to leave out of their initial project description or bid request. I’ve turned these common “missing elements” into a questionnaire template that clients can fill out at the onset of a project to give me as much direction as possible. As a result, the most common feedback I hear from clients is “Great job!”

Final Note: Wherever you turn for feedback, be sure to run it through your internal “relevance filter” instead of taking it at face value. While a client may be correct about what they need for their project, that doesn’t mean you should apply the same feedback to projects for other clients. Always be willing to listen to new perspectives!

About the Author:
Daisy McCarty is a self-educated writer and co-founder of Freelance Text, a professional services firm that specializes in web content creation. Since transitioning out of a seven year career in Corporate Procurement in 2008, Daisy has been using her negotiating skills to navigate to the higher levels of the online writing industry. Today, she mentors informally at Professional Freelancers Network, and offers formal one-on-one consulting services to freelancers who are ready to increase their income. Her latest book is Make Freelancing REALLY Pay: Communication and Negotiation Strategies That Take You to the Top

You can read Daisy’s blog and get more great freelancing advice at http://makefreelancingpay.com.

Connect & Socialize with Daisy!
TWITTER * FACEBOOK


ENTER TO WIN!
Pump Up Your Book and Daisy McCarty are teaming up to give you a chance to win one of (5) $25 Amazon Gift Cards & one of (5) 1 hour sessions of consulting services! Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old 
  • Ten winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one of five $25 Amazon Gift Cards or one of five one hour sessions of consulting services 
  • This giveaway begins December 2 and ends December 27. 
  • Winners will be announced on this page and contacted via email on Monday, December 30, 2013. 
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply. Good luck everyone! 
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Spotlight: Hypothyroidism, Health and Happiness

After the Peanut was born, I found I was having some strange symptoms and I couldn't put my finger on what might be causing them. Some routine blood work indicated that I was considered "borderline hypothyroid". After a visit to the endocrinologist, I was diagnosed with post-partum thyroiditis and Hashimoto's disease. Right around the same time, I heard about Dr. Hotze's book, Hypothyroidism, Health and Happiness.

Below is a spotlight on his book. I'm looking forward to reading it in the near future and learning more about how I can treat my hypothyroidism in the best way for my life and my body.

ABOUT HYPOTHYROIDISM, HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I think I might have a thyroid problem. I’m tired all the time, no matter how much I exercise, I can’t seem to lose weight, my hair’s falling out, and overall I just feel blah.” If so, it is essential that you explore the very real possibility that indeed, you do have hypothyroidism. In Hypothyroidism, Health & Happiness, Dr. Steven Hotze reveals how commonly hypothyroidism is overlooked, misdiagnosed, and mistreated in women and men, and gives you just the information you need to prepare yourself to obtain help.

Too often, individuals with all the signs of low thyroid are prevented from accessing the simple, inexpensive and effective treatment for hypothyroidism. Instead, they are told their blood work is “normal.” Find out why they owe it to themselves to believe what their bodies are telling them, rather than the results of their blood tests.

Dr. Hotze has been on a mission to get this message into the hands of women and men, particularly those in midlife, for more than 20 years. The answers you will find in this book about the signs, symptoms and treatment of low thyroid conditions are no longer a part of the conventional medical approach to hypothyroidism.

Inside, you will learn:
  • The historical basis for identifying and treating hypothyroidism
  • Underlying causes of hypothyroidism
  • Clinical signs and symptoms that may mean you have hypothyroidism
  • The little-used thyroid blood test that identifies thyroid disorders in spite of a “normal” TSH
  • Other individuals just like you who are now healthy, well, and thriving
  • Simple at-home test you can do as a starting point towards discovering if you have low thyroid
  • And more
Dr. Hotze has a saying, “If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you owe it to yourself to take charge of your health and get your life back.” By arming yourself with the information in this book you can take the first step towards restoring your health, transforming your life and improving your world.

ABOUT DR. STEVEN HOTZE

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Physician’s Preference and Hotze Pharmacy. His goal is to change the way women and men are treated in midlife through the use of bioidentical hormone therapy. His 8-Point Treatment Regimen has helped thousands of individuals to get on a path of health and wellness and enjoy a better quality of life in an environment of extraordinary hospitality and guest service.

Dr. Hotze is the author of the book, “Hormones, Health, and Happiness”. In it he describes his journey from using pharmaceutical drugs to actively listening to his patients and treating the root cause of their symptoms through natural approaches. “For an acute illness, such as strep throat or a sinus infection, the drug approach may be appropriate. However, few patients with chronic ailments ever really get well by taking drugs. How can they? Chronic illness and disease are not caused by deficiencies of prescription drugs.”

Suzanne Somers dedicated an entire chapter to Dr. Hotze in her New York Times best seller, “Breakthrough”. “This Texan doctor is going to steal your heart,” writes Somers. “He has so much energy he can’t wait to get to his office each day. He has built up a practice that is the envy of doctors everywhere.”

Dr. Hotze has appeared on hundreds of television and radio shows across the nation, including ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates, and CBS’ The Morning Show. He is also a regular guest on the KHOU Channel 11 morning program, Great Day Houston.

Dr. Hotze is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, and is former president of the Pan American Allergy Society.
You can listen to Dr. Hotze and his colleagues on his radio program, “Health and Wellness Solutions”, which airs Monday-Thursday on KSEV 700 AM in Houston from 12-1 p.m. CST, or online on this website. – See more at: http://www.hotzehwc.com/en-US/Health-Wellness-Center.aspx#sthash.jKocO34s.dpuf


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Passion and Purpose

Today I watched delightedly (and belatedly) while Damaris Phillips cried tears of joy as she was named this season's Food Network Star. I'm a sucker for these types of competition shows, be it Cupcake Wars or Design Star or, back in the earlier seasons, American Idol. I love a good competition and, finally, I've figured out why.

There's a passion and dedication that oozes out of the competitors. Each person who has made it to the televised competition has convinced judges that they have what it takes to be a star. Their love of what they do shines and drives them to be the best, to make their dreams come true.

That passion inspires me. Seeing people pursue what they love publicly, with as much effort and commitment as they possibly can makes me want to do the same. But sometimes it makes me check myself.

Could I leave my family for weeks at a time in order to get a job done? Could I stay up late every night, knowing I'd only get a couple of hours of sleep, so that I could develop ideas and work on manuscripts? Could I choose my writing over my friendships and marriage? Should I? Do I have to? Do I want to?

These questions run through my head all the time. Especially now that my free time, my writing time, is so very, very limited. I spend so little time writing these days that I wonder: Do I have the passion that I need to write the stories that are brewing inside me every day? Is it really my purpose to do so?

And then I sit down at my computer on the rare occasion that I have set aside some writing time, and the words start to flow. The ideas percolate and they spill out onto the page. I may not get much done, but that feeling of fervor, of desire and NEED, bubbles up inside of me and I think, "Yes. I have the passion. This IS my purpose."

Even when I'm not writing--when my days have become so full of diaper changes, baby play, and household chores that I'm way too exhausted to squeeze in even the tiniest bit of writing--that passion lingers. My spirit knows my purpose and I crave the opportunity to boot up the computer and put words together to make sentences that flow into paragraphs filled with meaning, paragraphs that pile up into stories that will touch someone else.

I look forward to those moments with longing and I know that, some day, I'll be the one displaying passion and purpose as I type on my keyboard, creating my newest work of literature. In the meantime, I'm directing that passion into my family, storing up stories that will find their way to the page when time allows. And I'm watching other people pursue their passions and live their dreams as a reminder that my dreams are still there, waiting to be realized.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Challenge: Stress Relief

I'm typing this post on my trusty iPhone while the Peanut is napping on my lap. It turns out when you're raising an infant you find all sorts of creative ways to get things done. It's taken some time (almost 10 months, to be exact), but I'm finally starting to figure things out.


I think. 

One of the things I miss most about my pre-baby life is my yoga practice. The physical challenge, the grounding and centering, the relaxation. If anyone could benefit from a consistent practice, certainly it's a new mom. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to make it happen. 

Instead of hour-and-a-half classes a few times a week, my yoga practice these days consists of a few deep breaths while nursing, a stolen Downward Dog and Child's Pose while the Peanut plays, and if I'm lucky, a pre-bed stretch or two. Enter The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans and their Great Stress Relief Challenge. Stress relief? Um, yes, please! And I think the motivation of a challenge will help me to get my butt on my mat a few times a week again. 

What say you? Will you join me as I find my way back onto my mat? I'll be happy to answer any yoga questions you have. You can email me or comment here. And I will root you on, too. Just leave me a comment and let me know you're participating in the challenge!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eighteen Again

Motherhood has taught me a lot of lessons in the few months since I joined the club, but the biggest one I'm learning is how to give myself a break. That's a hard lesson to learn when I've been beating myself up about my body for most of my life.

In the recent past, I managed to develop a positive self-image and I've had several years of self acceptance, which included a few years where I was wearing the smallest sizes I'd ever worn as an adult. But now I'm wearing an 18 again, and I'm none too happy about it. I find myself too quickly falling back into that well of negative self-talk, a place that I thought I'd climbed out of for good.

Don't get me wrong. I recognize that I gave birth less than a year ago, and that my body did an amazing thing, growing a human being and all. Unfortunately, now that he's heading swiftly toward his first birthday and I'm not even close to fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes, I'm having a bit of trouble looking at myself in the mirror and thinking happy thoughts.

I know I shouldn't be too hard on myself, but I also know how hard I worked to fit into that size 8 dress a couple of years ago. I know that I made some poor choices while I was pregnant and gave into too many cravings.

I can't take back all the weight I gained while I was pregnant, but I can choose each day to work my way back toward that size 8. I've done it before, and while it might take a bit more effort now that I don't have a gym membership or hours that I can spend doing cardio and lifting weights, I know I can do it again. And I hope I can teach my son to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise along the way.

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