Writing deadlines

Whee! 

Two deadlines today on projects! I am nearly done with both of them but it was a little tricky to juggle this weekend. Doing final formatting and editing, but am reserving time for that, so this will be brief.

Those who freelance: what is your favorite way of juggling multiple projects? It is funny because in the corporate world I was typically assigned to 10+ projects based on what was happening in our region.

Now, as a self-employed person I put SO much more into each distinct project! I can’t imagine taking on more than 3 at once…It’s probably overkill, but I am trying to over-deliver and do my best work, to get some good reviews.

Excited that this could lead to more work. I really loved these first two projects, and hoping the science/research writing gigs may keep coming. 

Have a great week!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Cozy work areas

I found the most awesome and cozy work area while on the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota on Thursday. It was what I call a “writing and research” day which means I had no appointments other than my yoga class. I really love those days.

This is the “Thesis Room” of McGrath Library. True, there are no windows in the space. But the chairs were comfy and it was blissfully quiet, a great place to do some editing of documents. I am old-fashioned and I like marking up a printed copy, especially if it’s longer than 3 pages…

I did take a break in the afternoon to open my business checking account, which I was able to do with my first Upwork payment. Yay! Gratitude all around. 

But since it was a heavy writing today I am keeping this short and sharing a photo of my new “office.” Happy Friday, all! 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Outsourcing our dream-time?

I am researching sleep this week as part of a project contract. I finished Dr. Rubin Naiman’s book Healing Night and it really got me thinking about the hazards of our dream-deprived (REM state) sleep habits. 

Recent CDC reports indicate that over a third of U.S. adults receive less than the 7 hour minimum recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. As a matter of fact, that range is actually more like 7-9 hours and is highly individualized. So I suspect probably over half of the population is not regularly receiving a necessary component of a healthy life.

Unfortunately, much of the science focuses on quantity and not always on quality of sleep that people are receiving. I get it. I like numbers. I actually track the sleep I receive every night in an attempt to understand what influences and affects it. Generally I know I want more of it, and feel fabulous when I get at least 8 hours.

But quality matters too, and when we do not receive enough deep sleep, which allows us to get into the REM (rapid eye movement or dream) state of sleep at least a 2-3 times in a night, we become dream-deprived. This is a state that can lead to depression when prolonged and also has links to cancer. 

Further, it can interfere with our creativity and vitality in life. Ironically enough we have myriad entertainment options outside us, “Dream Works” and other sources of artificial dreams that we indulge in to escape our lives.

I started to wonder: 

Would we need to escape our lives if we felt refreshed and allowed for our proper “dream time” at night? Would we need to rely on external entertainment if we felt our creativity were not drained from sleepiness and fatigue? 

To me it is a troubling proposition, but all too often a reality if we feel our lives are over-scheduled and that we must sacrifice some sleep in order to attend to our “to do” lists. My advice: get your sleep if you can. Do not sacrifice your precious dream time, or outsource it to the entertainment sources. It is all yours, it is necessary and it is sacred. 

I shall write more about the topic this week. It is on my mind, and I am an even stronger believer after doing more research. I hope to convince you as well if you are not there yet. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Healing Night

This weekend I am reading a book that is related to the writing contract I have on the topic of sleep. I am still incredulous that the universe saw fit to send me paid work on a topic that fascinates me. I am embracing it, and really letting myself delve fully into the topic.

I finished the first phase of the work yesterday, the preliminary reference list. This week I ordered this book by Rubin Naiman, PhD because it has been on my “wish list.” Since it was directly related to this writing contract, I splurged and went for it, despite trying to be mindful of my book budget. 

I am so happy I did. What a beautiful book. I look forward to finishing it this weekend. But I shall try not to stay up late reading as I did last night (ironically enough). Here’s my favorite quote in the book so far: 

If God, angels, or extraterrestrials were indeed monitoring us from above, the most profound change they would have witnessed on this planet since it’s creation is the metastatic illumination of our nights. We have responded to this quieting offer of night with an innervating program of excessive artificial illumination. 

From Chapter 1 of Rubin Naiman’s Healing Night

Yes. Naiman’s main argument is that we undervalue our nights and our night consciousness. This has in turn impaired our sleep and our dreaming, to the detriment of our physical and spiritual health. I am so intrigued and fascinated because this resonates for me. Night and shadow are part of our rhythms as humans. We ignore them at our peril.

Have a fine weekend, friends. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of rest. Savor your sleep. Enjoy that beautiful process of snuggling down into a warm bed at night. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Defeating self-doubt

Yesterday during a coaching session with my dear and wonderful coach, Elizabeth, I got an acceptance on another science writing and research contract offer. While I am in coaching sessions, I do not have my phone on. But I saw the message as soon as I left the session.

Last Friday I had put in the proposal, since it was on sleep research, a topic near and dear to my heart. I know that some of these postings get 20-50 proposals on the first day, so I had no idea if I would actually get it. But I wanted it enough that I crafted a hook in the first line that must have gotten through, even though there were many other applicants. My blog was the source of several of my writing samples!

Courtesy of Canva designs – copyright mexi-minnesotana 2018.

I realized that if I had let my self-doubt take over as I wrote that proposal, I never would have landed the work. I have this little naysayer voice in my head sometimes when I work. Do you have one too? It’s Anne Lamott’s little “Radio KF*CKD” voice. It says things like, “you’ll never get this one, why are you bothering? You’re too new to this platform. Your last client did not even leave a review yet…” 

But a wiser voice (the one I trust more) says: “well, if you don’t submit it, you definitely won’t get it. Just take a few minutes, put in the proposal to get some practice at this. You have to make a certain number of these proposals to see what “sticks.” Don’t be too disappointed if it does not come in, this is a numbers game. Just keep working at it.”

Yup. It’s true. No I am not crazy. Turns out this is normal: we all have this inner critic that tries to protect us from humiliation or “loss” by playing it safe, not risking anything. It’s easier not to take the chance, and more comfortable. Some of us have a “louder” voice than others. I have learned to turn the volume down on mine, but to thank it for the feedback (a Liz Gilbert suggestion).

People who succeed are often just the ones who put more stuff out there, try more things, take more chances. They are persistent, they keep making small efforts, and this builds resilience over time.  Keep working at it. You’re improving. Don’t let your inner critic win. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Any Upwork gurus out there?

Hi Friends,

I am working on submitting freelance proposals on Upwork, and there is an “art” to it. So I spent more time than usual on the quest for paying work. Unfortunately I needed to curtail my internet reading for a bit to really focus on getting my offer refined.

Thus I am taking a holiday from the usual Saturday share post for the pure practicality of need to eventually drum up some freelance work. I am sharing instead my profile from Upwork for your perusal and critique. If you have any comments on how to make the blurb more attractive or appealing, I appreciate your marketing eye.

upwork snip.JPG

AND if you know of anyone looking for this kind of service, by all means, send them my way with this link!

Getting a few reviews of short projects will help me get some ratings and have a better short at longer-term projects. I am willing to negotiate some great deals for clients who are willing to provide reviews and feedback.

Much appreciated, friends. The holidays draw near and even though I shall explain to my family that their gifts will be quite inexpensive this year, I would like to travel again (someday) in 2019. So I am getting on the ball rolling on this “gig pilot” to see if I can make it work.

Cheers & happy weekend,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Farewell, with gratitude

On Monday I learned of the passing of Earl Bakken, co-founder of Medtronic, and inventor of the first battery-powered, wearable pacemaker.

I worked with Medtronic for 11+ years, and I got to see firsthand the commitment of so many people to the mission: to alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Earl had endless creativity and persistence around the invention of technologies that could help physicians treat their patients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cristy with Earl Bakken. Photo taken August 2009 at the Mission and Medallion ceremony. 

For many years, there was an annual “mission and medallion” ceremony where new employees would learn more about the mission and history of the company. We were “inducted” into the Medtronic way, and the important focus on quality and a patient-centered culture.

I used to love the annual holiday party and employee meeting that Bakken implemented, where we would hear from patients who had received devices, and the difference in their quality of life (or in some cases, life itself). It was moving to hear stories of real patients and to connect with the mission on that level. In clinical research there can be a lot of bureaucratic processes to enable to get things done, because of regulations. Keeping our focus on the patients served always kept us striving toward excellence and quality, despite the challenges.

Earl Bakken was a role model and a humble leader in his 40 years at the helm of Medtronic. He hired good people and got out of the way to let them do their jobs, said Earl Hatten (employee #8 of the company that now employs 84,000 people). After he left Medtronic, he stayed involved in many philanthropic endeavors. His focus was on enabling people to live full lives, not just implanting devices.

I am honored to have been part of the company he co-created, and to have shared in that journey for a substantial part of my career. I am grateful for the impact and influence Earl Bakken had on so many people, employees, patients and communities.

Thank you, Earl. Your legacy lives on through the dedicated work that continues today.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Wellness Wednesday – morning light baths

Hello Friends,

It is Wednesday and this is a post to encourage you to get outside early in the day for some light. For those of us in Minnesota, we enjoyed a gloriously sunny day yesterday, a welcome change from the cloudy gloom of last week.

I got out for a run, but a walk is just as good. Getting out in the fresh air is good for your soul, your body and your mind. Absorbing some natural light, especially in the morning or early in the day is especially helpful for setting your body’s natural “clock” of waking and sleeping.

As it gets a bit darker earlier this time of year, it can be challenging to get out for some natural light. I like taking a break over the lunch hour for a little walk if possible, especially if I have been at my desk or not moving in the morning.

Philips goLite BLU
This is the Philips light I use.

For those of us who struggle with winter blues a bit, augmenting our natural light for the day may be necessary with light therapy. I use a Philips goLite BLU device for only 15 minutes in the mornings and it seems to help. Very important not to use these devices late in the day though, as they can disrupt natural melatonin production.

Equally important in the evening is to indulge in some natural darkness and not to expose yourself to much artificial light. Put the phone away an hour or two before bed. Log off of the laptop. Read an old-fashioned book. Dim the lights at home if you can and relax into the space before bedtime.

There is more darkness than light this time of year in Minnesota. I like to be mindful of the seasons and allow for more rest, respecting the rhythm of nature.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com