I got another writing contract today. It came in just as I submitted a couple more proposals and wondered what I could do to improve my chances to keep my work pipeline flowing.
A sentiment came to me as I realized the new assignment was exactly on a theme I recently wrote about on my personal blog the day before. It gave me a little chill, knowing that following my interests and pursuing questions that matter to me is now manifesting in work.
So the answer was: just more gratitude. Keep feeling and expressing the gratitude for all the grace and blessings in my life. The emotion of gratitude carries a higher vibration than fear or scarcity. And it leads to more creative energy than anything I know.
I am taking a blog break for the next few days and considering what schedule I will adopt for the future. I may start a weekly column on Linked In so that I can indulge my need to write regularly, along with building up my business credibility. Please connect with me there so we can stay in touch! It is time for me to start giving more attention to that process, if I want to succeed in staying self-employed.
Spending Saturday night at the vet and Sunday day on activities around the house, I opted to take a day off writing. But then I caught up on a few of my favorite blogs and their beautiful messages were such a joy to me.
So I will share a few links from recent favorites. My blog does not need to be about MY voice all the time. I am grateful to be part of a great WordPress community of thoughtful people who write pieces that make me think and look at the world (and my life) in new ways.
If you are not on the short list below, I will get to you eventually if I am a regular reader… it is just that these particular posts really made me smile this week. 😉
This post is dedicated to my awesome and life-saving husband who, last year on this date insisted that I go to the hospital when I had some unexplained abdominal pain.
As it turned out, I had appendicitis and the very kind staff at Regions Hospital take wonderful care of me, scheduling me for surgery later that night. Hubby had realized that I needed help, but I was stubborn at first, telling him to go to work and that I would be fine. (“It’s just a gas pain,” I told myself.)
I thought I may have had food poisoning, since I had just returned the night before from a work trip to Mexico. But no, I could not get myself off the couch to even make coffee that morning. I still felt like crap at noon, so I texted my husband and tell him I could not find my doctor’s phonenumber.
Clearly my brain was clouded over. He told me he was coming home right away to take me to the emergency room. I am so glad he did. Once I was evaluated and they knew what was going on, and about half an hour after I had some fairly strong pain medicine, I was chatting away and feeling SO much better.
So this is a post of gratitude for my dear husband, who is a most awesome and level-headed human being. I am blessed that the universe saw fit to connect us. I got a new lease on life after that experience. It helped me realize I needed to surrender to rest when my body needed to heal.
My parents developed a lot of love and gratitude for my husband as well. Considering my father almost died of an appendicitis, both he and my Mom saw hubby as their hero. He is definitely one of mine as well.
I think we are fortunate in Minnesota that there is very little doubt about that distinct feeling of winter. The cold bites at us, and we notice. It will get down to single digits this week and it is inescapable.
I have come appreciated quiet times of the year, when I take my time. There are less events, though some people attend holiday parties (I manage to avoid most). There are some family gatherings at the holidays, but right now feels like a nice quiet opportunity for reflection. I enjoy my peppermint tea with a dash of eggnog in it, and I snuggle with my cats.
Working from home, some days I am not required to go anywhere. I typically make it outside at least once for a yoga class, a dance class or a walk (at the very least a trip to the mail box). My grandmother used to say she enjoyed winter because there were a lot less yard work chores, and plenty of time for reading. I agree. SO many good books on my shelves.
What is your favorite way to spend quiet times of the year?
It is my Dad’s birthday today and so in his honor, I am posting an edited version of last year’s tribute to him.
My Dad’s choice of vocation as a bilingual teacher fundamentally shaped the way I look at the world. His countless presentations to school boards on language learning and the value of bilingual versus ESL-type programs shaped my thinking about social justice and education. He and Mom did highly influential work together to defend and protect educational opportunities for children of (originally) migrant workers in our small town.
Dad was called to serve these children and their parents, who needed a strong advocate for their education. He worked with them to help ensure they could get the best education possible. He believed in their potential and was ready to nurture it every step of the way, building a strong base of skills and also self-confidence. His work as an elementary level teacher touched so many young children’s lives in a powerful and profound way.
We used to go to the classroom late at night, my Mom and Dad and my sister, to put up bulletin boards at the beginning of each new month. My sister also remembers how “cool” it was for Dad to have a key to the school, and he and Mom could work there after hours, when it was easier to get work done uninterrupted. Having special access to the school meant that we could run down the hallways while nobody was there! So much fun. We could never get away with that during a school day.
I remember Dad teaching me to read by the time I was 4 years old. That made my kindergarten experience boring, since I was amazed we had to go back through all the letter books. Really?!? Can nobody else read yet? I got to skip my reading classes in favor of going to the bilingual classroom several hours a day. This saved me from the torture of repeating what I had already mastered.
Dad nurtured that spark of learning within me, and that has been a constant throughout my life. I learn quickly, and greedily, reading books as fast as I can. Of course, having a bit of challenge with attention, I sometimes read a book twice in order to fully absorb it.
Both Mom and Dad believed in reading to us when we were young, and this may be one reason I still love to read. I also enjoy audio books because it is a sweet memory to have someone read to me. For sure, my Grandmother had great influence as well. She was an avid reader and consummate learner.
Dad was amazingly patient with classrooms full of children. They behaved well for him. He almost never sick days but when he did, the substitutes were always amazed by his class. He created partnerships with parents and got to know them well throughout the year.
Hispanic parents typically do not tolerate misbehavior by their children in school. One call from “el Maestro” was enough to get a student to realize they could not misbehave in his classroom without having consequences happen at home. Their culture still has high respect for teachers. Sometimes Dad brought in psychologists as guest speakers to talk with the parents about how to help their kids at home, and was devoted to helping those young minds open and bloom.
Dad faced racism in his experience as an educated Mexican living in a small town, a very “white” town. The parents of his students respected him a great deal, but some of the teachers he worked with did not. Indeed some of the administrators did not, but he did have good principals. One particular school superintendent took special interest in his classes. This leader, noticing how respectful and well-behaved my Dad’s classes were, made sure that the direction from the top was to expand the bilingual program, not to cut back, as some school boards had tried to do.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from my Dad (and Mom taught me this as well) was that you should treat everyone with respect. A person’s “station” in life does not matter. Whether they are a teacher, a principal, a janitor or a cook, you must treat each person with dignity and respect. This is fundamental to the way I interact with the world, and is something I strive to emulate as well.
I am truly grateful to my Dad, and for all the lessons I learned through the way he and my mother live their lives. Teaching is a vocation, not just a job. I like to say I come from a family of teachers, and it is true, multiple generations. I am immensely proud of that.
Did you grow up with the idea that “it is better to give than receive?”
It is a message I absorbed growing up, and I used to think it was about generosity. I hear a “lyrical” version in my head and think it might be from some rendering of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. I thought it meant that I should always be giving, that somehow to receive is weak.
I now understand that this belief no longer serves me. It has gradually been unfolding especially in these last couple of months of reflection. I have a deep longing to give, and to be of service in my life. It is a part of what I consider my purpose for being on earth. But now I recognize that receiving is also an act of grace and an act of faith.
Receiving with gratitude is a beautiful experience. When you are open to receive you allow others to give and to share with you. You allow the generosity of others to come into your life. As humans, even though we can be tribal creatures, we also have a very natural “tend and befriend” instinct that allows for our survival. Giving and receiving are often reciprocal activities, but they do not have to be.
In receiving, we make room for others to share their gifts with us. We open the flow of giving from ourselves as well.We start to give from true generosity rather than a scarcity mindset that may be present about not being worthy unless we can give.
I grew up with an abundance of love and care from my parents and family members. I consider myself one of the “lucky ones” in that regard, especially when I hear stories of neglect or abuse. So I guess my belief that I can and will always give comes from some sense of always having enough.
As a very independent person, I have struggled with asking for the help I need at times. Even last December, when my husband suspected I needed to go to the hospital, I told him: “I am fine, go to work, don’t worry.” Finally I had to surrender to his help when I literally could not get myself up off the couch to get my coffee (that never happens) all morning after I returned from an international trip. The pain was too much.
I accepted help (not that he would have given me a choice, he told me later). Later, after my appendix was safely removed, I visited my parents and my mother expressed such profound gratitude to my husband, I realized that this event was meaningful for so many reasons.
My advice to you is: do not be afraid or reluctant to receive. You are worthy of receiving love and kindness. Everyone is worthy of that. If it touches you and inspires you to give to others, so be it. But if you are in a position where you cannot give at this time, then just gratefully receive.
I was reflecting on the past year and a piece of art which I acquired (~about a year ago, I think). I still need to frame it. It was in one of my favorite coffee shops in Bemidji and it caught my attention. I told my husband I needed to have it. The price was only 2-figures and I bought it as an early Christmas present for myself.
It reminded me of the creativity explosion that I had set loose in my life, once I decided that I could write every day for a short time, even if I had a full time job. Though I only gave myself 30-45 minutes a day to write (more on weekends), I found myself looking forward to it daily. I give Chris Guillebeau a lot of credit for this, since I learned about how easy it is to start a blog from his Side Hustle School podcast.
This art piece also evoked for me a feeling of that “spark” we get when a new idea comes tumbling out of our fingers onto a page. There’s juice to that feeling. It lights us up and allows for greater energy to attend to every other thing in our lives.
Today I celebrate my first project contract after leaving my corporate job – yay! Even though it is a small project, I trust it will lead to more work. I had such enjoyment working on it today. I felt profoundly grateful for the opportunity. I never really imagined I would be putting my science writing and research skills to good use (that voice in the back of my head said: do people really make money that way outside of big companies?)
So happy right now for all the little choices and decisions that led me to this place. What are you grateful for this weekend?
The night of the election I stayed up until the 1 a.m. captivated by the drama of election returns, of the great sweep of the Democrats into the House of Representatives. After hanging out with some like-minded local political volunteers and neighbors, I came home feeling optimistic, happy and excited.
Turning the t.v. off was hard, but I reasoned that more would be known in the morning, and sleep was a better use of my time than speculation. In the morning, I spent time listening to my public radio station, reading news stories and absorbing the social media feed from my friends. I commented, considered the implications of the results and attempted to connect the dots.
After about 2.5 hours of that, my body and synapses were already feeling burned and tired. I opted to attend my favorite Wednesday Zumba class. It is a great way to dance it all out, and to get out of my head and back into my body. Ahh!
Since I had an interview in the afternoon for an Upwork contract, an opportunity to do some writing and research for a bio-pharmaceutical company, I did not turn the radio back on when I returned home. Instead, I showered, had some lunch, got quiet and prepared my questions for the interview.
In the process, I was captivated by the research I was doing and felt a sense of flow emerging. I had no feeling of “FOMO” by staying off of social media. The storm of opinions will continue to brew while I get my work done, I told myself.
I figured I would return to it in the evening, flip the radio on and begin consuming the drama once again. But something in my body said “no, not right now.” I opted to run an errand, go to the grocery store and take care of the mundane habits to which we all must tend.
I listened to another chapter of an Ann Patchett book which I’d downloaded on Audible over the weekend as a “treat” to myself for those times when I want a break from work.
I considered my unwillingness to listen to the talking heads. I meditated. I wrote in my journal. I took my own advice from yesterday. I felt peaceful and centered.
There is a theatrical aspect of politics which lends itself to using these stories as a form of entertainment. It is a serious endeavor, to be sure, but it is also drama. I have no wish to hear the president’s voice. I had already heard a bit on the car ride on the way home from Zumba, so promptly turned it off. He is not a good actor at all. Seriously.
Normally I love analyzing the semiotics and messaging of campaign language and considering the meaning behind the results. I expect I will return to that sometime.
For now, the dust will settle and I will turn away from it for a bit. With my new work contract starting, I am excited to make some “real monies” again as I joked to my husband. I shall savor that, and enjoy every moment of it.