Archive for March, 2012

Cornered Office

with Mir Kamin

I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.

To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at

Want advice? Don’t be dumb.

Categories: Head hitting brick wall, Like talking but with more typing

1 Comment

I know I’ve written about this before, but I’m going to do it again because it keeps coming up. And it’s possible that I’m just a curmudgeon (likely, even), but it’s also possible that our society has, by and large, just forgotten what it means to behave appropriately and professionally when requesting help. Either way, we’re going to visit this particular goat rodeo one more time.

Here’s the thing about asking someone for their time and/or wisdom: They’re doing you a favor. It is best to approach any request with that pertinent little factoid in mind.

Do you run up to strangers you’ve never met before and ask them to do things for you? I don’t. I would find it presumptuous unless I was experiencing an emergency and the request was for the kind of help that starts with “Please call 911.” The exception to this rule, of course, is that sometimes you run across someone virtually who you think may be able to offer you something no one else can, and then—although you don’t know each other—you may end up reaching out via email or phone to make a specific request or establish a connection… but at least when I do that, I go to great pains to 1) introduce myself, 2) make it clear why I wish to establish a connection, 3) offer a succinct explanation of what I’m seeking, and 4) thank the other person profusely for their time.

To me, this is just common sense. But… not everyone sees it that way.
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My grays are giving me the blues

Categories: My boss is an idiot, Now I'm free(lancing)


For one of my gigs, I have the freedom to write about pretty much whatever I like (relative to self image and/or my experience of being female), and last week I wrote about my hair. Specifically, I wrote about how I feel like I’m losing the battle against my advancing gray. For me, this was an off-the-cuff musing, resulting mostly from a couple of weeks of extreme stress and very little free time, and realizing that right now my hair looks just plain awful. Three inches of obvious roots isn’t attractive on anyone. Luckily, my hair is very curly—which hides it, somewhat—but still. It’s not a good look. The question was whether I make peace with going gray, and stop coloring (and likely cut my hair short, at least to start), or continue to color even though I sort of hate it, because I’m still relatively young and gray hair on women who aren’t senior citizens is, I think, often viewed as lazy or unprofessional.

What shocked me, though, was that (at last count) there were nearly 90 comments, and while some of them were of the “do whatever feels right to you” variety, many more were vociferous defenses of one camp or the other. “Embrace it!” urged several commenters, while my own father (the source of my early gray!) suggested that I do the extra work for now because I’m too young to go gray. One anonymous commenter not only went all-caps to make their point (”DO NOT GO GRAY”), the justification was that my wonderful husband doesn’t want me to look “OLD.” (The hell?)
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When in doubt, use your manners

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)


I’m the last person you’re ever going to hear complaining about life going digital. I live my business life and a substantial portion of my personal life online; on the whole, I think the Internet has greatly enriched our lives in countless ways.

And as someone who once chafed at hand-writing thank you notes to various relatives after every birthday, I may even roll my eyes at folks who insist that email is insufficient compared to good, old-fashioned snail mail. (Of course, I’m a sucker for a double-standard. I adore receiving a hand-written note from someone, particularly if it’s a note of thanks. But email is overwhelmingly my communication channel of choice.)

My point (I swear, I have one) is that what’s acceptable socially does change somewhat, over time. Formality requirements decrease in various realms as time passes; that’s normal. What would’ve required a hand-written note a hundred years ago can today be covered with an email, perhaps.

But: There’s a difference between “less formality” and “no manners.”
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Putting my (time and) money where my mouth is

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Now I'm free(lancing)


Whenever someone asks me, “So what made you start freelancing?”, one of the answers I always give is that I wanted a schedule that was more compatible with my kids’ needs. After my divorce I realized that single parenting with a regular 9-5 job was more than I could handle. (Man, my hat is off to anyone who manages that. I’m apparently just not that organized.) I wanted to be there in the morning and again when they got home from school in the afternoon, and I wanted the freedom to be able to work late at night so that during the day I could volunteer in class or take a kid to a doctor’s appointment without having to turn my schedule inside-out to manage it. I wanted the flexibility, because my family comes first. I’ve always said my family comes first.

Well, my family still comes first. But after having that premise tested quite a bit over the last couple of months, I realize that I accidentally became very attached to this career of convenience of mine. Oops!

My daughter has spent 20 of the last 40 days in the hospital. Half. Of the remaining days, she had doctors’ appointments on most of them, or was home needing care, or was at school and called for an early pick-up, or otherwise needed a lot more from me than she otherwise would.
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