Viewing category ‘Deep thoughts’

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/

Is it easier to achieve balance if you know it’s a myth?

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, Things you should be reading

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I recently started taking yoga again, because the opportunity presented itself (the class is nearby and conveniently scheduled) and because it’s possible that I tend to be just a tiny bit high-strung (NO REALLY). I love the way yoga makes me feel, both physically and emotionally. If I’m able to just let go of everything else and enjoy it, it’s a really wonderful way to feel refreshed and centered for at least an hour.

Of course, whenever we do any poses in class that require me to balance on one foot, I try very hard to calm my mind and my body and be one with my mat and all of that, and to just stand still… but in reality I weave from side to side and my muscles shudder and twitch and my “up” foot thumps to the floor as I catch myself from falling on my face. My balance, you see, isn’t all that great. And that turns out to be a great metaphor for balance in my life, actually, because as much as I want it, the rare times I achieve it are shaky at best, and short-lived. At some point the other foot—metaphorical or real—has to hit the floor again to prevent disaster.

I suppose it’s no wonder that I gravitate towards writing and people that reiterate that work-life balance is merely a myth we all want to believe. That’s comforting, knowing I’m not the only one who just can’t seem to get it right.
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What’s next? Planning for the year ahead

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing)

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Anyone who knows me knows that I am a consummate planner. I am the opposite of spontaneous. I like to know what’s happening, and when, and how, and so—to some extent—it’s rather hilarious that I’m a freelancer, because freelancing typically does not afford one the level of predictability I really crave as a lifelong control freak. (Yes, it’s okay to laugh. I’m laughing.) Of course, part of the reason I’ve found success as a freelancer is precisely because I crave order and am generally very good about planning and organizing.

But. Despite the fact that I think of myself as a “creative person” (whatever that means), I tend to have a very all-business outlook when it comes to my work. I run the numbers. I figure out how to make money; I pour my time and energy into what’s most lucrative, first, and what actually speaks to me on a creative level is sometimes a secondary consideration. It’s true that I generally don’t start down a business path unless it’s something that speaks to me somehow, to begin with, but once I’m on that path, I’m all about what makes sense from a business perspective.

And that’s good. Except when it’s bad. Because all work and no “gut” makes Mir a dull writer. I’m thinking about 2011 being a year to reclaim my creativity.
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Stress and the solopreneur: No time for overwhelm

Categories: A mother's work is never done, Deep thoughts, My boss is an idiot

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Before I get started on what I really want to talk about today, here’s our book winner from last week: The random number generator selected commenter number 2, Shannon. Congratulations, Shannon! Please check your email.

But what I want to say is this: My last nerve is fraying. I’m overwhelmed. I’m behind on work and my house is a mess. I lay awake at night indulging my every paranoid fantasy about everything that can possibly go wrong, and then I get up in the morning and drink too much coffee and am short-tempered with my family and late and sloppy with my work.

I need a week off. I can’t have a week off.

And so I’ve gone from doing the juggle to merely cleaning up whatever has made the biggest mess on the floor when I dropped it. It’s not a very good way to live. And it’s a terrible way to run a business. I know it’s not going to work forever.

But this is where I am right now. It sucks, on all fronts.
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A rising tide lifts all boats

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing)

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This past weekend I went to Chicago. More specifically, this past weekend I went on an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago for Save Up 2010, as an invited guest of Savings.com.

I had no idea what to expect from this trip. In fact, part of the selection process involved garnering votes, and I don’t think I have to tell you that having to campaign for myself is right there on my list of super-fun activities, somewhere between “jabbing sharp things underneath my nails” and “cleaning up vomit.” The fact that I had to ask my community to vote me up made me uneasy, and the selection process was sort of opaque (”voting is just one of many factors we’ll consider”), which made me—for lack of a better descriptor—a little suspicious, too.

But I’m trying to grow Want Not, and this seemed like a good opportunity to do that, so I applied, I was selected, and I went. And I’m thrilled to say that it completely exceeded my expectations.
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Winner, winner, politics for dinner

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

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I don’t know if you know this, but I’m kind of a big deal.

Writing that makes me laugh. A few weeks ago I met up with some friends for coffee, and met another parent from my daughter’s school for the first time. When she asked me what I do, before I could respond, one of my friends said, “She’s a famous blogger!” I laughed and leaned in, conspiratorially.

“It’s true,” I said. “I am totally famous… on the Internet.” We all had a good laugh.

There is a reason I write for a living, from my home office. There’s a reason I don’t often tell people what I do. I enjoy relative anonymity, here in my small(ish) town. And that’s the way I like it. I think it would be a drag to have people recognize me at Publix while I’m trying to select a cantaloupe. I have friends and colleagues who are much more “known” than I am, and that suits me just fine.

Perhaps it’s because I generally enjoy flying below the radar that receiving an award makes me feel… kind of bad.
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On having a platform, owning your words, and consequences

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

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In my youth (meaning, childhood and young adulthood), I had a chip on my shoulder so big, it was a wonder I could remain upright. I never shied away from a fight. I was always ready for a fight. I thought arguing was the path towards “fixing” everything I thought I was wrong with the world.

Needless to say, a bit of time and maturity cured me of this stance. In my old age (ha) I’ve come to learn that arguing very rarely changes anyone’s mind, and my own sanity is best kept by “agreeing to disagree” as needed. I have opinions, of course. And I express them; often. But much of what I write is either 1) personal to me (read: my experience, not generalizing to anyone else’s life) or 2) not at all personal in nature, because these are things which are—for me—safe. These topics rarely induce arguments, and life is too short to spend it arguing.

I know there’s a whole… genre, if you will… of bloggers who write about what they feel will be the most shocking and controversial and evoke the most comments. That’s never been my style. But the fact remains that every so often, I step in it.
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4 things that (unexpectedly) make me a better freelancer

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

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We talk a lot in freelancing about having the right tools for the trade. I have probably written more often here about having a proper office set up and doing data backups and finding the right computer than I should admit. And all of that is definitely important and worthy of discussion, absolutely.

We talk about having the right space to work in. The right technology at our disposal. The right mindset for establishing the boundaries around our work time. The right contacts, the right education, the right everything that directly facilitates our ability to get the job done.

There’s no question that freelancing requires an attention to detail that many of us never think about in the corporate world, because so much of that stuff is part and parcel of having a steady employer and a salaried position. And then occasionally we flip it around, and talk instead about “balance” and “self care” and the thing we must do apart from working to maintain our whole selves, rather than just our work selves.

But today I want to drop my chocolate in your peanut butter, as it were, and look at totally-non-work things which I feel have made me a better freelancer, by glorious happenstance.
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Writers, books, and walking the walk

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing, My boss is an idiot

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Up until very recently, I was not a big buyer of books. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t read; I’ve always been a voracious reader. I’m also a big fan of the library, and I do a lot of thrifting, so the books I buy tend to come from Goodwill or yard sales for pennies on the dollar. That’s just good, frugal sense. Right?

Back when money was tight, that was the only way I acquired books. Then things improved and suddenly I could afford to buy books from real stores. I immediately moved to buying the hardback versions of books written by friends of mine, both as a show of support and so that I could have them signed. If there was a book I really wanted, I would get it from Amazon. More recently I’ve become a huge fan of Better World Books as a great way to both be green and to get great prices.

But lately I’ve been thinking that I need to reset my thinking when it comes to purchasing books. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that I think it’s part of my duty as a writer to do so.
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Book winner, and five lessons from five years

Categories: Deep thoughts, Now I'm free(lancing), Things you should be reading

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Today I have two things for you! First, I’ll choose the winner of the contest I posted last week, and that person will receive a free copy of Susan Getgood’s book, Professional Blogging for Dummies courtesy of me and the publisher, Wiley.

Second, today is my birthday, and it’s made me a bit reflective. It’s around this time that I always look back on when I made the decision to take the freelancing plunge; it was just about five years ago (almost to the day) when I finally resolved to go for it. What I’ve learned in those five years could fill many, many volumes—each and every one of them would need to be bound up with humble pie, too—but I thought with it being my 5-year freelancing anniversary, I’d target just the top five, for today.

First things first, though. We need a contest winner!
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This is also why surgeons don’t operate on family members

Categories: Deep thoughts, Like talking but with more typing

7 Comments

I desperately wanted to share this post before I left the country (I like how that sounds; maybe I fled! I sound so exotic and mysterious!), but I couldn’t, for reasons which will soon become clear.

But first, let me remind you what I do for a living. I write. I write for my blogs, and for other people’s and company’s blogs, and I do copywriting, and sometimes I write for magazines, and sometimes I do articles for various other outlets, and my point, here, is not to brag or anything, but just to say: I am a writer, I write for a living, and I do lots of different kinds of writing just about every day. Also—okay, maybe this is a brag—I happen to think I’m pretty darn good at what I do, most of the time.

I also, it should be noted, don’t believe in writer’s block. (I can always write something, it just may not be very good.) And yet, a few weeks ago, I took on what may well have been the hardest assignment of my career. And I really, really struggled with it.
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