Monday, July 06, 2015

What I've Been Writing (When I've Been Able to Write)

"Multitasker, Duplo-Thinkpad" by Thomas Angermann is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I'm aiming to blog more frequently, and I suppose I have to start somewhere. So here I am.

I've said it before, and I'm saying it again: I have a million ideas for blog posts, but finding the time to think them through and type them up is a challenge, to say the least. When you're raising a freelance business along side a family, especially when that family includes two Littles under three, getting anything other than the necessities done is a miracle. (I don't use that term lightly here. I truly believe it's miraculous when I manage to clean the bathroom before it's a disgusting mess that demands cleaning.)

Right now, I have fifteen minutes to write this post. I'm squeezing blogging in between three hours of freelance work and a long list of household tasks I hope to get done before picking up the boys at the sitter. Fifteen minutes doesn't leave room for much thought or editing, but it's enough to get things started. It's enough to move myself forward and to begin. I may not finish in that time, but I'm making progress, and that's better than letting this site sit stagnant while I wish and hope for time to write more, blog more, do more.

Right now, my life is revolving around the mantra: What You Can, When You Can. If you're a busy gal (or guy) who's trying to make any sort of life changes and you haven't heard this mantra, or don't know about the #wycwyc (wick-wick) movement, you should definitely check it out. (I have more to say about this later, but for now, this will have to suffice.)

Speaking of freelance work (I know, worst segue ever!): I've been blogging for The Penny Hoarder and am loving the opportunity to write about ways that SAHMs and WAHMs can make and save more money. Those are topics that I'm pretty passionate about these days, as we live on a limited budget ourselves and are trying to make a move into a bigger house in a better neighborhood. If you're interested in what I've been writing, or just want tips on saving money (or making more of it), check out the pieces I've published so far:

In addition to blogging for other sites, I'm doing some technical writing and editing, along with a bit of virtual assistant-style work for a content management consultant. It's a good variety for right now and I enjoy each job for different reasons. 

And with that, my time is up. The kitchen calls, with it's dirty dishes and floor that needs mopping. With any luck (er, I mean, lots of planning) I'll be back soon with another post. Until then:

Where can you free up a little time to do the things you REALLY want to do? What can you start NOW, right this minute? What can you make a little progress on, even if you know you won't finish?



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Friday, July 03, 2015

The WHENs and the NOWs

"Clock" by Dineshraj Goomany is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
 
A short time ago, an internet friend sent me a link to an essay she'd tried to read. "This essay is SO DREADFUL," she said. "Can you believe she's a published author?"

After reading the essay (all of it) myself, I sent her a note back. It hadn't seemed THAT dreadful to me. I had, in fact, been able to connect with the writer through her essay, but only after I pushed through a flowery beginning and waded through some roughly worded paragraphs to get to the point: Motherhood is hard and sometimes we need a break, even if that break isn't doing what we'd really love to be doing. At least that's the point I took away from it. (This may say more about where I'm at in my life than about the author's intent and skill, though.)

As I responded to my friend, I found myself thinking a thought I'd had plenty of times before. If this author could publish such a poorly written essay, why can't I get published?

The answer wasn't far behind: Because you're not writing.

That's not entirely true. I have a couple of freelance jobs going, but they're more editing and formatting than writing. I'm writing this blog post--right here, right now. And I'm always jotting notes for the books and stories and essays I want to write WHEN. You know: WHEN.

WHEN I have time.

WHEN the kids are older.

WHEN I'm not so tired.

WHEN the house is clean.

WHEN I'm a better writer.

I know you have them, too. They may not be the same as mine, but I'm sure you have your own WHENs. WHENs are those things that hold us back before we even get started. They give us room to wait, when what we really need to be doing is plowing forward, pushing the WHENs to the side and experiencing the NOWs.

When I sit down to write, finally taking advantage of one of the many short-but-quiet moments life lends me each day, I realize there are NOWs waiting for me.

NOW this feels right.

NOW I have so many stories to tell.

NOW I can write while the kids are napping.

NOW I don't care if the house is clean.

NOW I'm a writer.

The words flow and the negative Inner Editor quiets down, if only for a few minutes. I put words to page and feel that rush of relief and the peace of knowing I'm doing what makes me alive, happy, full.

I realize in those moments that the WHENs are just excuses to stay stuck in the daily grind, in the self-doubt and discontent. Once I start writing despite the WHENs, I find the NOWs were waiting for me all along.

What are your WHENs? How can you move into the NOW?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On Loving Me

Lately, I get most of my reading material from my Facebook newsfeed. Thanks to a widely varied friends list plus my own varied list of Page likes, I get to read about everything from yoga to politics to parenting on any give day. Today, I clicked on one of those shared pieces and it touched me so deeply that I immediately came to my blog to respond.


You see, I can deeply relate to Joni. No, I've never had a six-pack stomach. But I have worked hard to reach a smaller pants size. I did get to a point where I felt happy--with my body (which was not at my goal weight but was comfortable and strong and healthy) and my life. 

These days, I spend a lot of energy beating myself up for all the weight I gained during my recent pregnancies and for my lack of self-discipline to lose that weight now. I see pictures of that body I'd worked so hard for and I want to cry. I loved that body. I was so proud of that accomplishment, of my commitment to my health and well-being. And now I want to get that health and fitness back, but I can barely find the time or energy to take a 10 minute shower much less exercise for an hour. 

So I call myself fat and lazy and undisciplined, and my body stays the same. I look in the mirror and berate myself for allowing things to get this far, even though I know I should love my body as it is, right now, for all the things it can do and has done over the last few years. 

Then I read Joni's piece and I felt my heart warm toward my self, toward my body and my crazy-busy-wonderful life. No, my body is not at it's peak fitness or health. No, I am not as active as I'd like to be. But I do have a strong body, a body that carried and nourished two babies. I am a mother who chases and plays with her toddler and who does her best to teach them healthy habits.

I am who I am and how I am, right now. I won't be that person tomorrow or next month or next year, because I am always changing and growing. But every day I will look at myself in the mirror and I will send myself love rather than disappointment and negativity. And from that love, change will come. 

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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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