Archive for July, 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 http://www.wouldashoulda.com/

It’s the most BlogHerful time of the year

Categories: Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Here, let me sum up 80% of what is currently flooding my Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds for you:

“ZOMG BLOGHER IS THIS WEEK! WHAT DO I PACK? WHAT DO I WEAR! I’M SO NERVOUS! I’M SO EXCITED! NEW YORK CITY AHHHHHHH! MARTHA STEWART! BARACK OBAMA! BLOGHER, BLOGHER BLOGHER!”

So… yeah. In case you’re living under a rock, you might not know that the BlogHer 2012 conference is this week, and bloggers everywhere suddenly have extra social awkwardness coupled with nothing to wear.

I’ve always been a proponent of blog conferences as excellent opportunities to network, but I’ve never been shy about expressing my mixed feelings towards huge conferences like this one. They’re expecting something like 5,000 attendees, and that makes it an Event (capital E!) unlike a smaller gathering. It’s not for everyone, and even if it is for you and you’re the most extroverted socialite to walk the planet, it may have its moments of being overwhelming.

And no, I’m not going this year. But I have a few pointers for you whether you’re going or not.
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Finding work focus without doing actual work

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Like talking but with more typing, Now I'm free(lancing)

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I think I’ve been pretty honest, both here and elsewhere, about how tough this year has been for my family. For months I think I tried to operate on the assumption that the Bad Stuff was temporary, and if I could just tough it out a little bit longer, things would go back to normal and that would be that. (Ah, naivete. I miss you!) By the time my kid ended in the hospital for the third time, though, it became clear that 1) this wasn’t going away and 2) any new normal we might someday attain would be very different.

During the first hospitalization I all but stopped working. Slowly, once my daughter was home again, I tried to pick up where I left off. Then she went back into the hospital and I stopped again. Then she was home but things were still busy and stressful and I really hadn’t even gotten my feet back under me when this last hospitalization happened, and now she’s been away for far too long and I’ve continued to struggle with finding that elusive groove where I can get stuff done.

I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on what my continued difficulty is—aside from “life kind of sucks and it’s hard to care about anything other than my child right now” which may be true, but doesn’t excuse me from working—but I accidentally figured out a way to jump-start myself again.
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Sleep, glorious sleep

Categories: Maybe I can pencil in a nap, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Much as youth is wasted on the young, I firmly believe that naps are wasted on children. It takes being a harried adult to fully appreciate the luxury of being able to just stop whatever you’re doing and take a nice, relaxing rest if that’s what you need. Of course, by the time most of us would appreciate a daily siesta, there’s no time for that.

For me, sleep is my handiest barometer of my mental health. This is even more true now that I’m a freelancer; when I get into poor sleep habits as I work here from home, they’re all too easy to perpetuate because I don’t need to be commuting to work and sitting in a cubicle for eight hours. If I don’t sleep well at night nowadays, I actually can sneak a nap in more often than not… but it means I don’t get my work done when I should… which means I’m liable to stay up too late working… which leads to not getting enough sleep… which, hey, did I mention there’s a hole in the bucket? You get the idea.

Because this is an issue near and dear to my sleep-loving freelancer’s heart, I loved this recent guest post by Tania Dakka over at Problogger about sleep mistakes that negatively impact your blog.
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Boost your job appreciation through… television

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

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I make no secret of the fact that I’m a television junkie. It’s not the most highbrow of hobbies, granted, but I find it incredibly relaxing at the end of a long day to stare at the screen and lose myself in someone else’s story. Bonus points for entertainment that makes me laugh, but lately I’ve been watching more and more reality-based shows and realizing that my low-brow habit is actually having an unintended benefit—it’s growing my appreciation of my own job.

No, really. Hear me out!

I’ve always been quick to extol the virtues of freelancing; there are many things about it which I love, and which I feel I couldn’t get in any other setting. But there are things about it which wear on me, too, and particularly during this year—which has been difficult for numerous reasons—I guess you could say the bloom is off the rose, a bit.

And that’s where my nightly television habit is coming in handy.
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Reclaiming my independence

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

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Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the USA, and most everyone around me—if you believe the television and radio—is getting ready to kick back at a barbecue with some frosty drinks. Independence in this country is heavily about charred meats and the right to imbibe alcohol. Oh, and there’s also the Blowing Stuff Up aspect, I guess.

Me, I’ve had a rough few months. My family is having a difficult year. For a while there, I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to continue working, as flexible as my freelancer’s schedule supposedly is. The idea of simply taking tomorrow off to hang out with my family feels crazy in the wake of recent life. It definitely feels like I should take the day to buckle down and catch up on work. After all, most folks will be taking the day off, so maybe I’ll finally catch up!

I’m not going to do that, though. Part of what I’ve lost over the last few months is any semblance of balance in my life. Work has suffered, yes, but so has everything else. I’ve become someone who merely reacts, rather than acts. My life feels like a series of crises, and I’m just here with a fire hose turning towards the nearest fire, then the next nearest, etc.

In honor of the holiday (not to mention because I just can’t take it anymore), that all ends this week.
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