22 February 2014

Sometimes there's always more work to be done.

Not my calendar, but eerily similar.
I've been working (on and off--mostly on) as a freelance writer since 2008. Since July 2013, I've gone back to freelancing full-time, which I really and truly love.

But freelancing can be hard. My career is only limited by the amount of time I put into the work. The more I work, the more income I bring in. The more clients I can get, the stronger my portfolio.

But being self-employed, it's not just about writing and invoicing. Essentially, I treat my freelancing as a business in which I do everything for the business myself. Anything that needs to be done for my career, from invoicing and taxes to blog posts and networking, is all done by me.

My work is never done. Even when I've finished for the day, there are a list of things on my list to do tomorrow, or that have to be done by the end of the week, or are in the works for later on this month. There's always something I can be doing for work. That's good because there's always something I can do when it's time to work. But it's bad because when it's time to close the office for the day, there are still things I could be doing.

It's sometimes hard to walk away from the office.

I'll be working from out of town next week, and I'm taking the opportunity to relax a little, as well. Some of it will be forced (travel days). I think it will be good to step away from the office just a little and catch my breath before jumping back in when I get home.

And I will jump back in because sometimes there's always more work to be done.

19 February 2014

The transformative power of not caring what other people think.

One of the things I've been focused on recently is letting go of things much more quickly. I try not to let things get to me the way I once did, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt as much as I possibly can.

I didn't used to be this way. It used to be that things would eat at me for a long time. I'd continue to worry or be frustrated or angry. Or I would expect to be wronged by people, particularly if things were going well. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, as they say.

Pleasure garden with a maze
by Lodewijck Toeput
But I'm a different person now. And with this transformation has come a great sense of peace in my life.

By not letting things bother me and not worrying nearly as much what people think of me, I have far less to worry about, and I'm able to be more present in my life, focusing on the things that really matter.

It hasn't been easy. I am generally the type of person who cares very much what others think. I hate upsetting people, and am very non-confrontational. I try to do what I can to avoid conflict with people or doing anything they might not like. And even if I thought I'd done or said something to upset someone, it would eat at me for a long time after.

Now I'm better able to let go of those situations and remember that if someone has a problem with me, it's on them to let me know about it, if they expect anything to change (which might not happen anyway). I am finally happy with who I am and where I am in my life. And I won't let anyone make me feel badly about it.

As with anything, it's a process. I still have days I worry about things, or find myself mulling over conversations after they're over. But it's much better than it was, and it happens only occasionally. And I just take it a day at a time. It makes for a much happier writer.

14 February 2014

There's no place like home.

Yesterday Casey Carey-Brown posted a link on her Facebook wall to this article. Aren't we past all this bullshit? Haven't we learned from our past? Clearly not.

Photo source
The article points out what a slippery slope this bill is, and how open it leaves everything to interpretation, trusting the individuals doing the discriminating to make the decisions and leaving no recourse for those being discriminated against.

I won't go into the details of the bill, which passed easily in the House and is expected to pass the Senate. But the bill is a sweeping discrimination of gays.

Basically, the law will give Kansas citizens carte blanche to discriminate against gays. Or people who support gays. Or people they think are gay. Or people they think support gays. Or people wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it. Or people who hug their same-sex friends when they say hello. Or people who don't go to church on Sundays....

Surely you can see the danger of passing any kind of law that grants the merest discrimination. But to pass something as sweeping as this bill?

It makes my stomach hurt to think about the people in Kansas who have to live with this, gay and straight alike. And what about those who are transgender? Or androgynous? Or anything else that doesn't fit into the Kansas-politico, narrow-minded, binary view of gender?

On a side note, Kansas has a "stand your ground" law in place. I shudder to think how that will find a way of relating to this new discrimination bill in people's minds.

Photo source

12 February 2014

A family for universal equality

We've had some pretty heavy discussions in my house about gender with Puck (and Tink). Puck is very into labeling right now, which includes assigning what people can or can't do based on characteristics.

For example, I can't be Hulk because I'm a girl. He thinks one of his friends at school is a girl because he has long hair. Tink can't play with his tool set because "it's a boy toy." Boys can't wear skirts or fingernail polish.

I know and accept that there are people in society who still cling to "traditional" gender stereotypes roles. And some of these people are those who influence my son when he's not with me. I get it. So it's my job as his mother to make sure he knows that these differences don't really exist.

I can be Hulk if I want. His friend is a boy because sometimes boys have long hair. There's no such thing as a "boy toy" or "girl toy." And sometimes boys wear skirts and fingernail polish.

And that's okay.

Most often, I address this by gently correcting Puck when he makes comments that show gender discrimination, and emphasizing that it's okay. ("That boy likes to wear dresses just like Mama likes to wear pants. Isn't that great?" or "Those two girls love each other so they're getting married. They'll be so happy together.") And that seems to work.

I know it will be a battle at times, especially since Puck is in public school. Unfortunately, we still live in a society in which people think the most effective way to raise themselves up is by putting others down. But it's by teaching our children--and ourselves--about the damaging effects of discrimination that it can change. The people who are stuck in the way things were are going to die. And the next generation will be stronger for their compassion.

Right now, Puck is very into superheroes, and that's okay. Tink is all about pink and princesses, and building things. And that's okay, too. While I will strive to teach them to be compassionate and advocate for universal equality, they are individuals with personal preferences. I will never encourage them away from something because it fits a traditional gender stereotype. I will help them make their own way.

08 February 2014

Have you found a church yet?

I talk to my dad pretty often. Whenever I'm feeling particularly hermit-y and need a human connection, he's good for a rambling conversation about life, the universe, and everything.

And, inevitably, the state of my Florida church membership. Or rather, lack thereof.

Apparently, my dad (and some of my extended family) are convinced that the success or failure of my life in Florida is wholly dependent on whether or not I hold membership at a Bible-believing, Bible-practicing church (read: IFB). It's the only way to make friends (for myself and the kids), and the only way for me to have a community. Apparently.

But I know it's more than that. According to my dad, you can't be a Christian if you don't attend church services. Ideally, three or more times a week. (Of course, Sunday school and morning worship count as once because, you know, you can't just go to one or the other. It has to be both.) The fact that I am not regularly attending a church and haven't applied for membership at a church means I'm not living as a good Christian. Chances are, he's worried I'm backsliding* and at risk of doing something stupid like becoming an atheist.

Really, it's another reminder of how important that aspect of life is to my dad and his family. In my family's eyes, finding a new home church when you move is on the same level as getting a new driver's license and changing your address.

But it's not about finding a community or making new friends, or even finding "good people." It's about following the rules.

Christians go to church.

In my dad's mind, I'm not really settled here until I have a home church and attend regularly. Until I'm a member and tithe my income. Not to grow as a person but to do the right things.

It's too bad the people pushing me to find a church aren't concerned with what the "right things" really should be.

*For those not in on the lingo, "backsliding" is the term that applies to someone who is a born-again Christian but is making choices that are not in line with the teachings of the church, and behaving like a non-Christian. This can apply to anything from rejecting church teachings to drinking alcohol to women wearing pants depending on the particular teachings of the church.

05 February 2014

There's a reason they call him "the Science Guy."

Last night, after the munchkins went to bed, I watched the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham at the Creation Museum. I wasn't sure what to expect after reading some of the criticism that arose out of Nye's agreement to debate Ham, but I'm glad I watched it. It was educational, frustrating, and a good reminder of why I am an atheist.

On a side note, did anyone else notice that Nye referred to Ham as "Mr. Ham," and Ham consistently referred to Nye as "Bill"? Maybe a minor point to some, but it shows the difference in levels of respect on the stage. Just sayin'.

I admit that there is a lot about science I don't know. But that being said, it was clear to me that Nye won. (Then again, maybe I'm a little biased. After all, bowties are cool.) There are two big reasons I say this: unanswered questions and "because the Bible."

Throughout the debate, there were points raised by Ham that Nye addressed in his responses, asking specifically for clarification, evidence, or further explanation. Many of these issues that were raised--central to discounting Ham's argument--went unanswered. And not just accidentally. Because toward the end of the debate, it seemed that Ham was purposely avoiding answering some of Nye's questions in favor of bringing up additional points he thought would help support his argument.

When he did address the questions raised, it seemed his favorite response was "because the Bible." Which brings me to my second point.

I'm going to be honest with you. When someone engages in a scientific discussion and tries to refute proven scientific evidence with "because the Bible," I start to feel a little stabby. The evidence Ham provided was based on a book he admitted in the debate contains poetry and literature and is not to be taken wholly literally.*

I'm sorry, but when a scientist admits we don't know certain things about the origin of the universe, and then you say, "We do because the Bible," you lose credibility to me.

The issue for debate was whether or not Ham's creation theory is a viable model. Based on the debate, the answer is no. Ham had the burden to prove creation as a viable model--scientifically--and he didn't do it. He didn't provide scientific evidence, and he didn't refute Nye's evidence.

And, let's be honest, Nye proved last night that the math just doesn't add up. That's all there is to it.

In other news, I'm going to justify all my words, actions, and behavior because the Doctor.

*As a writer/reader, that tells me it has an unreliable narrator. And if so, there's no telling what can be believed and what can't. And that's just looking at it as a work of literature, for story's sake, not as a work to be believed and followed as big-t-truth.

Making time to read for fun

Though life and writing has been pretty busy lately, I've been trying to make time to read for fun lately. I don't read enough.

I've decided not to commit to a reading challenge this year because making any time to read is challenge enough for me. Instead, I'm just going to keep setting time aside to read things that interest me.

I'm in the middle of three books right now (two of them recommended by my dear friend Dana). I manage a few pages here and there, but kids and work takes precedence. So I'm trying to carve time out of other areas to specifically set aside for reading.

I know that devoting more time to reading will be good for me. It will help me slow down a little and take time away from work and enjoy quiet moments. It seems there haven't been enough quiet moments lately, so I'll take them where I can get them.

Have you been making time to read lately? What's on your nightstand?