Getting it done

On Thursday I finished up a short contract for a writing client that had found me through Upwork. The topic had challenged me. I had needed to do a quick turnaround literature search, read and understand concepts in a field that was unfamiliar, and produce some writing that made sense of a general audience without a medical background.

About half way into the project, I had some doubts. The material was dense and technical, a reminder of my biochemistry days in college. I remembered that brain-twisting experience of reading through research papers that were way over my head, trying to interpret them. It felt like a foreign language in a way, trying to understand complex mechanisms or experimental methodology that was unfamiliar.

But I remembered that there comes a time when focusing deeply on a topic and taking time to break it down pays off. It can take some time, depending on the topic of course. But after some time, getting to know the lingo, looking up things I do not understand, and making my way through some research review articles, the major themes started to click into place.

My brain, which had felt like mush a couple days before, trying to grasp a field which was new to me, finally began to grasp what was most important. I began to think through how to write the review document in a way that someone outside the field might grasp. 

I have to tell you though, getting it done was a relief. Focusing for this short project was a bit of a test to myself. Can I do this work? Will the client like it? Can I really make money as a freelancer? It appears the client is happy, and I expect she will leave a good review. 

Getting it done can be the best feeling. What are you most satisfied with getting done?  Can you make time to celebrate it this weekend? 

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

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Back in the day…

Last night I needed to find a quiet place to work, a place where I could absorb literature related to oncology research and therapeutic potential for a certain plant compound. I worked in the morning at home well enough, but in the afternoon, I was unable to get traction on the work.

That sometimes happens to me. I try everything I know how, and still I am so completely distracted that I need to have a change of location (see yesterday’s post. Perhaps it’s why cube life did not suit me.). 

So I put my stuff in my backpack and headed off to the University of MN. Even though it’s been over a dozen years since I finished my master’s degree here, I love being back on a campus. I love the atmosphere of learning and growth. Even though the science library was far too crowded to find a quiet place to work, I walked around campus for an hour or so. 

The humanities library was much less busy. Ahem…

Well, let’s just say I was a science major in undergrad and a liberal studies major in grad school. My grade point was about 0.7 points higher in grad school. Also, my undergrad was at Swarthmore, where the motto was “anywhere else it would have been an A.” ‘Nuff said.

My study hide-away

As I sat in the quiet of the library, around dinner time (that must be the reason it was less busy, perhaps), I felt that familiar sense of focus and calm. I have attention issues (diagnosed late in life while I was working on the grad thesis) so focus and calm are not exactly my strong suits. Unless I’m under deadline, that seems to be a motivator.

There is something about a library, and the unquestionable nature of being here. Working at home, I always see the undone dishes, the piles of laundry overflowing, my cats that do their best to be adorable at the wrong times (like when I have a deadline). 

In the quiet library, in my study cube, there are no distractions. There is just the pile of research articles, my laptop, my water and a snack. 

Perfect environment for being on deadline with a topic that twists my brain in all kinds of fun ways.

What is your perfect environment for working?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

How does Art help us live creatively?

It’s Friday, and Fridays are for fun, says my realtor friend Teresa. She has a beautiful photography blog at http://stpaulphotos.com/ in addition to her St. Paul Real Estate blog, also lovely with great advice.

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.

Explosion art
Art from Dunn Brothers Coffee (Bemidji) exhibit – I wish I had the artist’s name!

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? 

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

400 posts

400 posts

I nearly forgot to celebrate my 400th post to this blog yesterday! I like to acknowledge milestones that feel significant. It helps to consider that small, consistent efforts over time can build a body of work.

I noticed when checking blog stats that I have nearly 10,000 hits since I started writing last September. Thank you to all you read and comment and give me feedback! I realize I can be eclectic when it comes to topics. I prefer to be spontaneous with topic ideas, and allow my soul to nudge me each day toward those ideas that captivate me.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Clean slate, blank canvas

This morning I was contemplating joyfully and with some curiosity the blank canvas that is the next chapter of my work life. It feels like a fresh start, that opportunity to re-invent my daily rituals, hone my purpose, and choose the colors for the palette.

blank canvas.JPG
Photo credit link

Though I am not a visual artist, and only dabble with colors and fun materials now and then, I can appreciate that excitement of a blank canvas. As a writer, it is a little like the blank page, that space of infinite possibility before the words start spilling out. I face it with excitement, and a little unknowing. Where will this go? What am I trying to say?

Since I generally write to understand any new concept, or even myself, there is always an air of mystery about it. As a blogger, I have learned to embrace the empty page as a sacred space where I am invited to create.  It is our greatest privilege as humans, our creative energy, and I think it is where we meet our divinity.

I find that I want to experiment a bit, not to rush into splashing color onto the page, but to spend some time preparing the colors, feeling what wants to emerge. I greatly appreciated my solitude yesterday and the ability to respect the rhythm of my body, working and resting in a ratio that felt right. My coach and I decided on some “homework” for the next week, and I was able to accomplish the items on my list.

If I were an artist, I would run my hands along the blank canvas, noting its texture and honoring this gift. I shall have to resist a trip to the art store to do this, but maybe it is time to get out my colors and sketch pad.

Do you have a ritual for honoring the “blank canvas” times in your life?

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

A dedicated journalist

I was sitting in a cafe yesterday writing in my handwritten journal, having dumped coffee on it 10 minutes earlier in my haste to start eating my breakfast.

The older man asked me, “are you a dedicated journalist?”

I responded, “I do enjoy writing. And I do it every day, or nearly so.”

“Wow,” he said, “I write often but sometimes not for months.”

Then he told me a story of some notes he’d taken last November while his wife was sick and in the hospital for 2 weeks with a mysterious illness. She asked him to record some of the things that happened, and the symptoms. He said it was hard to go back and write that up, even though he had a lot of notes.

I commented on writing about times that are difficult in our lives. It can be difficult, when the event or period was emotionally charged in some way. It requires us to relive that time, and sometimes we re-experience those emotions. But at the same time the writing is therapeutic, and it releases something, like therapy when the story is told and “witnessed” by ourselves or a compassionate person.

We talked for a couple minutes and he apologized for the interruption but I went back to think about his question, “are you a dedicated journalist?”

Yes.

I love the act of writing, so much so that I lose myself in it at times.

It occurs to me that Brene Brown and Liz Gilbert have written about this concept at times, the sad fact that we only value things that we get paid for in this society.

But some of us create art, writing, music, poetry because we must. Not because we expect to get paid. I mean, certainly making a living is important. In fact, I need to dig up some consulting work in the next couple of months or I’ll be looking for a “regular” job again. But sometimes we must release something in us onto a page. Brene Brown said once in the Magic Lessons podcast “unused creativity metastasizes.” I believe it.

Maybe I’ll add “dedicated journalist” to my Linked In profile and see what comes of it.

Cheers & happy weekend,

Cristy

art-from-yoshi-airbnb.jpg
Art from a London Airbnb, taken September 16, 2018