When I woke up Tuesday morning to this sunrise — I felt pure joy. How could I not? This is the view from our master bedroom and backyard. I grabbed my husband’s iphone — because he has a better camera on his — and began snapping away. Once I captured the moment, I stood quietly in the backyard as the colors enveloped me.
I’m on my second week of NaNaWriMo and if I were to describe the experience? A pain in the neck.
My neck really hurts. My shoulders hurt too as they hunch up to comfort and hang out with my sore neck. I complained about this last week, and boy howdy! It’s only gotten worse with each passing day.
I took one bit of advice from blogger extraordinaire LA. She said she has a lavender neck wrap that heats up in the microwave. I jumped on Amazon and voila! I now have one and it does help.
I was talking to my daughter on the phone and I complained about my neck.
“Your neck always hurts,” she said.
“But not like it does now. It’s the NaNo challenge that’s making it worse. I’m hunched down over my laptop for hours every day.”
“I know what you need,” she said.
“I already got the lavender neck wrap,” I answered.
“That too, but it’s not what I was going to suggest.”
This was her suggestion:
I hope it helps. It should. You can now find me wearing a lavender neck wrap working on my raised laptop. I’m impressed with Amazon to get me these items within 24 hours. As much as I don’t like Amazon, I’m also thankful for their convenience and speed.
My other random thoughts about NaNoWriMo:
I don’t regret the challenge and I’m enjoying starting something new. It was just the thing to get me going on a new project. The words poured out faster than I could type the first week. I’ve slowed down on week two. I’m following my 9-point plot map. But I’ll get through all nine points in 25,000 words which means I need to add more to hit 50,000 words. I think I need more conflict between my characters and more depth in my characters.
What are your thoughts about Amazon? Are you a fan or a foe? Did you use it more during the COVID shutdowns? What are your easiest parts of writing whether it’s blogging or writing a novel? What do you find to be the most difficult?
Our community has a newsletter. In each issue it features an article about the latest homeowner’s association meeting, updates on city utility news like trash days are changing or when bulk pick up is scheduled. There’s always a recipe, an article about wildlife or plants and a welcome to new neighbors. It’s interesting and done by a husband and wife. ‘
For the past six months they’ve asked for a volunteer to take over the newsletter. The couple in charge have done it for more than ten years, since its inception. They are done. This current newsletter stated that if nobody volunteers — then the newsletter is over.
I thought, do I want to do this? Should I do this? I’m not a newbie to newsletters. My first job in PR, I wrote at least seven newsletters a month for various clients including a city, a realtor, a hotel and three or four for a medical center (staff, physicians, research, and a couple medical specialties.) After that job, I worked for a developer and I was in charge of newsletters for several country club developments for the members. That was before “desk top publishing.” I had to type my copy, drive it to a typesetter. I would work on a layout with a pencil on paper! I took numerous trips by car to the printer with corrections to the typesetting and real live photographs. Once I had a “blueline” I was relieved.
In my free time, I did the newsletter for the Desert Advertising Club. I was a board member and volunteered my time. While raising kids, I volunteered to do newsletters for their swim team and a charitable organization I was in.
I know I can do this newsletter, it’s in my “wheel house,” but do I want to?
I thought yes and no. The pros are it’s quarterly. Not monthly. And — this is the biggie — I moved less than a year ago and I don’t know anyone except for the realtor up the street who sold us our house and an occasional hello to next door neighbor Brad. The newsletter might help me be less isolated and more engaged in my new surroundings.
Our neighborhood has five clubs, book club, coffee club, wine club, etc. But they haven’t met because of COVID. They were supposed to start up this month, but they are holding off until 2022.
The downsides — do I want to do the newsletter? Do I want to have a deadline? Do I want to be more active in the community or do I like my quiet life more?
I texted the kids, talked it over with hubby. They all think I should do it. My kids especially think I should because they know I’m happy when I’m working in my field — even if I whine about it.
I decided to sleep on it. Two days later, I decided YES. I called the number in the newsletter of the current husband and wife editors. I got the “disconnected and no longer in service” message.
I checked the neighborhood directory and noticed there was a typo on the phone number. I dialed the correct number and once again — “disconnected and no longer in service.”
I looked up their cell phone and it went straight to voice mail. I left a message and emailed them.
That was Friday. It’s Sunday and I haven’t received a call back or an email.
So to be or not to be — Newsletter Editor? We’ll wait and see.
What are your thoughts about volunteering? Do you think it benefits the people volunteering as well as those who receive service? What do you think of people volunteering because of their own agenda or motives? Can you think of any examples?
I wrote this when the disaster and arbitrary bill AB 5 passed in California. It was aimed at Uber and Lyft drivers but hit a bunch of other people as well including freelance writers and musicians. A fix was signed into law by the governor called AB 2257. My opinion is if you have to “carve out” 75 exceptions why not junk the bill and start over?
Now there is a new bill that passed the US House called the PRO Act. It’s a pro union bill that has the side effect of threatening to end freelancers. There may be benefits to the bill, but the unintended consequences are that it’s going to make it difficult for freelancers to continue running their small businesses. Here’s an article from The Hill that talks about the ABC test that defines if you’re an independent contractor or should be classified as an employee.
Here’s the post I wrote about AB 5:
I am a freelance writer. Obviously, I’m not writing to get rich. I’m doing it because I love it. I don’t need the state of California to dictate who I submit articles to nor how often. But in a new bill, AB 5 that will be law in January, they are destroying the freelance writing business.
In an article by Katie Kilkenny in The Hollywood Reporter called “Everybody Is Freaking Out”: Freelance Writers Scramble to Make Sense of New California Law, she spells out some of the confusion and frustration over AB 5. The real intent of AB 5 was to get rid of the gig economy — in particular Lyft and Uber drivers — and force people to join unions. That’s the bottom line.
A new bill that caps freelance submissions may make writing financially unsustainable for many workers even though the legislator behind the law insists that the goal is “to create new good jobs and a livable, sustainable wage job.”
California-based freelance writer Arianna Jeret recently learned about Assembly Bill 5 and is now concerned she and her colleagues in CA may soon be speaking about their jobs in the past tense.
Jeret, who contributes to relationship websites YourTango.com and The Good Men Project, says freelance writing has helped support her two children and handle their different school schedules. Her current gigs — covering mental health, lifestyle and entertainment — allow her to work from home, from the office and even from her children’s various appointments. “There were just all of these benefits for my ability to still be an active parent in my kids’ lives and also support us financially that I just couldn’t find anywhere in a steady job with anybody,” she says.
Jeret is now coming to terms with how her lifestyle will change come Jan. 1, when AB 5, California legislation aimed directly at the gig economy that was signed into law Sept. 18, will go into effect.
The bill, which cracks down on companies — like ride-sharing giants Lyft and Uber — that misclassify would-be employees as independent contractors, has been percolating through the California legislative system for nearly a year. It codifies the 2018 Dynamex decision by the State Supreme Court while carving out some exemptions for specific professions.
I worked at jobs with benefits for years before deciding to stay home and work as a contract employee. I did this when I became a mother. My husband had benefits from his job, so I no longer had to worry about health insurance, etc. I had the freedom to stay home and write. I’ve written for PR firms, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and worked on non fiction and fiction manuscripts. I’ve had enormous freedom in my writing career to juggle it with motherhood and volunteering. Sometimes writing took a back seat. And that’s okay. It was all my choice.
Freelancers have different reasons for not being full-time or part-time employees. They know what the benefits are as well as the drawbacks. Why doesn’t the state want us to decide what fits our lives best? Why do they think they know better?
AB 5 came up with a number of 35 submissions to a single publication, or you’re considered an employee. And you have to join the union, too. So how did the State of CA come up with that number?
As for how lawmakers settled on the 35-submission figure, Gonzalez says that she and her team decided that a weekly columnist sounded like a part-time worker and so halved that worker’s yearly submissions. After protest from some freelancers, the number was bumped up to 35. “Was it a little arbitrary? Yeah. Writing bills with numbers like that are a little bit arbitrary,” she says.
Still, labor experts and freelancers alike are skeptical that the desired outcome of AB 5 — that newsrooms will hire California-based freelancers as part-time or full-time employees — will be achieved in the short term, especially as the news media continues to face major challenges to its business (in September, Business Insider estimated that 7,200 workers have lost their media jobs so far this year). Many publications that employ California freelancers aren’t based in the state and it’s not clear how AB 5 will affect them. Still, some are choosing to opt out entirely. Indeed, several freelance writers who spoke to THR say that various out-of-state employers — some with offices in California — have already told them they’re cutting ties with California freelancers.
What’s especially disheartening about this bill is that is was written by someone who doesn’t understand the industry at all. They have no idea how their law is going to affect the media industry.
Here are my thoughts today:
What’s even scarier is this may be the law of the land. 1099 part-time work may become a thing of the past. I remember when I decided to start my own PR business back in 1992. I was excited, scared to be on my own. But I quickly landed two big clients that paid the bills. I followed the footsteps of three other young women who were graphic designers I had worked with for years. They struck out on their own and were loving the independence and working their own hours. I felt like we were a group of independent, strong women — working for ourselves and no longer for our male bosses. It was an exciting time. The good old days.
I’d love to hear from other freelancers about their thoughts on AB 5 and the new Pro Act.
This was the view from my kitchen table where I worked for years.
I’m excited. I’m getting my own writing room. I haven’t had my own space since before kids. I used to have our guest room all to myself, when we moved into our Palm Springs home 28 years ago, we called it “The Computer Room.” I had a Mac computer, which was pretty rare back in 1992.
Then two babies later, the Computer Room evolved to other uses. I began working at the kitchen table (not a hardship with gorgeous views) with the advent of a laptop. I worked in the kids’ rooms, too. Also, our master bedroom. But I didn’t have my own space.
At our new Arizona home, there is a formal dining room. The sellers asked if we wanted to buy their dining room furniture which was beyond gorgeous. I was tempted, but something in the back of my head said “no.”
It struck me that I could use the formal dining room as my “formal writing room!” I now have my own space. I could work in the spare bedroom, but what happens when the kids or guests are here? It’s not really my space anymore than my office in Palm Springs, which was really my son’s bedroom.
I’ve talked on the phone with a couple friends from CA and one is supportive and the other is appalled. What am I going to do when I have a houseful for Christmas dinner? Well, we have lots of informal seating inside and outside. We aren’t big entertainers and when the once every few year Christmas dinner occurs, it will be informal — just like it was in Palm Springs. Isn’t it better to use the room daily, rather than once every few years?
We went consignment shopping this week and I found my writing desk, which I’ve always dreamed of, my chair and a bookcase. I’m putting it all together and I can’t wait to work in my own space.
My new space to write converted from a formal dining room. Today, I’m unpacking all my books and filling bookcases.
Do you find a formal dining room a practical space? If yes, you probably use it and do entertain? What about your space to work? Is it all your own or is it a multi-purpose area?
I wrote this long before the world was in a pandemic. People dropped their kids off at school and went to their jobs in person. Today, that’s all different. Most of us are working from home and our kids are not in school — while we shelter in place. That makes this story about how to juggle parenting and working from home valuable today
When I started my Public Relations business, it was June. By July, I discovered I was pregnant. I did pretty good balancing work and life until my firstborn became mobile. Once he was crawling and spitting up on my keyboard, work became more challenging.
I saw an article in the Citizen Times, a USA network paper in North Carolina, called “Making it all work: Balancing parenting and working from home” by Marla Hardee Milling. She interviewed several families and asked how they worked from home with kids. I enjoyed reading their stories, because I had plenty of my own!
If you are a parent, working from home can rank as a blessing and a curse.
First up — the pros: creating a business at home allows you a flexible schedule. You don’t have to worry about a commute. You don’t have to keep a well-stocked wardrobe for daily appearances at an office (this means you can work in pajamas if you want to), and you may well find that you are more productive when you are working for yourself.
But there are pitfalls.
Interruptions can be aggravating. Neighbors and friends may think they can call at any moment because you’re at home. Kids often have the uncanny ability to need something right in the middle of a business call. And you may be surrounded by nagging reminders of things that need to be done at home — the stacked dishes, the pile of laundry, the accumulating clutter.
So how do you strike a balance between being efficient running a home business and keeping your sanity?
Juggling life and work
Stephanie Carol of Asheville works part-time from home, writing a sewing blog and a travel blog.
“I juggle work at home life with family life imperfectly,” she admits. “My biggest challenge is that I would prefer to work in long stretches of time, but with kids, it’s more like bits and pieces. The two solutions I’ve come up with or used in the past include one, swapping child care with friends so we each get a full or half day to ourselves while the other watches all of our kids, and two: trying to break down my tasks into small chunks so I can dive right back in and out of my list and stay organized.”
It can be even more complicated when both parents telecommute from home. That’s the current lifestyle for Amy and John Saunders who live in Waynesville with their 3-year-old son. Amy’s parents own a highway construction company — A&P Services LLC in Brevard and she serves as the vice president of operations. John is a software architect who works for a company in Chicago.
John’s job is structured in a way that he is required to be at his computer from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. But his home office doesn’t have a door, so Amy has to be creative about keeping their son quiet.
“We leave every morning around 9 or 9:30 and then come home for lunch,” she explained. In the afternoon, she fits in work as she can while her son has some quiet playtime. Once her husband is off work, they have a family dinner at 6, go through the bedtime routine and then Amy can hammer out details of her job that she couldn’t get to during the day.
“As the VP of operations, I do all the scheduling, billing, general project management — I handle everything except estimating and HR stuff,” she said. “As long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter when it gets done.”
When I worked from home I had two major problems: how to turn off work and how to get clients to understand that I couldn’t run over for a meeting at the drop of a hat. It was all about boundaries. I had clients who didn’t respect the hours I tried to set and would give me a project at 5 or 6 p.m. and expect it the next morning, because “I worked from home.” When I was pregnant, I could make it to any meeting at any time. Once I had a child, it was a different story. I tried babysitters and nannies and would make set hours when I was available for meetings and appointments. Invariably, I worked on projects at home while the babysitter was there. As soon as she left, I’d get a call from a client to come over immediately.
Here’s how other families deal with childcare:
What can I put off?
Without close neighbors to rely on for babysitting, Amy and John care for their son almost 24/7 except for rare moments when the grandparents can step in. It’s a challenging schedule and can be stressful, but she says, “I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
What she is trying to change is her mindset that every work detail needs to be handled immediately. “If I get an email, I feel like I have to take care of it right away,” she said. “I’m learning that if I put something off until tomorrow, it’s probably going to be fine. Some things are time sensitive, but the majority of my job is not. I’m trying to find a balance.”
Altamont Inspections is the business of Eddie and Angela Roberts, of Hendersonville. While Eddie is out making the inspections, Angela works from her home office to carry out all the details of running the business: scheduling, billing, troubleshooting, and setting priorities.
“I have a designated office space, so office work stays in the office,” Angela said. “I have set times to devote to work and I make a checklist each morning of the most important things to do.”
Having that list is crucial since they have two very active daughters — teens Anna and Emma — who are involved in band, gymnastics and other activities. “I always put family first,” she said. “If someone wants an inspection time that conflicts with my daughter’s band concert, I’ll offer them another day or time.”
She’s found it easier to keep separate email addresses and phone numbers for work and personal use, and she checks social media during her personal time. Angela also has learned to say “no” when she runs out of time.
“The PTO can find someone else to help with the dance decorations this time, but I’m happy to bring pre-packaged snacks,” she said as an example.
Her daughters are older now and more self-sufficient, but she also realizes the value of getting outside help to keep her household and business running smoothly.
“I hire help like a bi-weekly housekeeper, a lawn maintenance crew, and a caregiver to pick up the kids from school and help them with homework a couple of days a week,” she said. “I will also order groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered through Mother Earth Foods. A family dinner doesn’t have to be home cooked every night. I like to support local restaurants and order to-go or make a list of grocery stores that have weekly specials, like The Fresh Market changes their $20 ‘Little Big Meals’ that feed four each Tuesday and some Ingle’s delis have Friday steak nights.”
With planning, dedication, and creative strategies, working from home can be a fruitful endeavor. And just think about all that traffic you don’t have to sit in day after day.
The final straw in my working from home was after I hired a full-time nanny. I watched as she raised my child. They splashed in the pool and walked to the park to play. Meanwhile, I sat at my desk jealous beyond belief. I quit the PR business and changed my work. Instead or writing press releases and newsletters, I began writing for magazines, newspapers and drafting novels and children’s stories. I squeezed my work in between raising my kids. I made way less money, but I have no regrets.
Now there’s just me and the cat while I work from home.
Have you tried working from home? How do you juggle the parenting responsibilities with your job?
I posted this story in January, one week before we had our first Coronavirus case in the United States. Little did I know that soon we’d all be working from home! With many parents working remotely and supervising their children’s educations, there’s a lot to balance.
Back when I was working from home as a stay-at-home mom with my first-born child.
Working from home is something I’ve done for years. At first, I had what is now our guest room dedicated as my office for my sole proprietor public relations and marketing biz. That’s why the kids called it the “computer room” when they were little. I had a desktop Apple IIc something computer and heavy-weight laser printer. Back then, I also had a fax machine and a separate phone line for my work.
This looks like the very first Mac in my home office.
My downfall with that venture was not knowing when to stop. Even though I had a separate work space, I couldn’t stop working. I had a client who loved to call me after 6 p.m. and give me work that had to be done by morning — and they were my main client! Also, this was pre-email days and internet. I had to transfer files to the people who changed my files to film over a modem. Then the film had to be picked up from these mom and pop shops and I drove them to the printer. I’m talking newsletters, flyers, brochures and veloxes for newspaper ads. Can you imagine that?
I’d wake up throughout the night and to make sure the files transferred from my modem to the film person’s modem. Sometimes a newsletter or ad file would take six or seven hours to transfer.
How things have changed from the early 1990s! Prior to that it, was a Selectric IBM typewriter I used and hand delivered copy to a print shop who then had to retype it all into columns, lay it out with my photos or artwork, give me a rough copy and finally a blueline to proof before going to print. Things are so much easier these days.
I’m still working from home and everything is so much quicker and convenient with emails and the internet. But the question still remains, how do I guard my time and not work all the time?
If you have any tip’s to share on how not to overwork from home, please share them!
What’s a blueline you might ask if you weren’t alive back in the olden days? Here’s the definition I got from googling it from Dictionary.com:
[ bloo-lahyn ]SHOW IPA
a print made on light-sensitive paper and used as a proof for checking the position of stripped-up negatives or positives and copy prior to platemaking.
What are your solutions for separating a life from working hours when you work from home?
I was pretty shaken up yesterday, but I’m pleased to report that I’m doing better today. I got my full walk in around the park and neighborhood before the rain started. I got to see a favorite neighbor of mine and chat while standing six feet apart. He said, “We’ll get through this.”
I got assigned a couple magazine stories by an editor and I think that helped me the most. I have a tight deadline and had to get busy. That kept me from turning on the news, watching the DOW, and reading all the headlines on the web rather than writing.
Life is pretty much the same for me as it is most days. I walk and then work from home. It’s nice to know my daughter is in the guest room working from home, too, right down the hall. My son is in the Bay Area and he’s under the same orders to shelter in place. He’s calling everyday to let me know he’s okay. I really appreciate that.
We will get through this. We have so many uncertainties ahead of us. That’s what gets me anxious. I try work through all the possibilities of what COULD happen and it gets me scared. It’s much better to stay busy at home while we are “sheltering in place.”
This cutie pie came home with my daughter. He and the cat are practicing social distancing.
What are you doing with your time if you’ve been asked to stay in your home?