31 October 2014

I clicked "unfriend"

I unfriended someone on Facebook this week.

It is the spouse of a friend. I know this person, but not very well, and since I live in another state, our interactions are limited to Facebook.

This person has very different religious, political, and social views than I do. In and of itself, that's not a problem. I don't read the links and status updates that stand against what I believe in. I'm capable of doing that on Facebook.

But then, this person saw a link that I posted about a prominent businessman who came out as gay recently. The person shared the link from my Facebook wall, adding a status that something to the effect that this businessman's coming out is purely a publicity stunt for the company.

I can't control how this person feels about this businessman. Or about homosexuality. I don't care what this person says on Facebook. But I do care that this person took something from my wall, which, knowing me, was meant as a positive thing, then used it to spread a message of paranoid intolerance. And because it was shared from my wall, my name is now linked to that post.

That's what made me angry about this incident. Say what you want on your wall. That's fine. But don't get me involved by linking my name to yours when it comes to those opinions.

So I unfriended this person. We never speak, and I don't read this person's Facebook wall as it is, so for me, it's not that big of a leap. But it's the meaning behind the action that led me to do it.

Some time ago, I made the decision that I would not attend my father's church anymore in the event that I visited the family. My logic is that by attending services--and participating--I am accepting what it taught, and condoning the behavior that goes on within that denomination. And I won't do that.

I feel the same way about this incident. By ignoring the fact that this person co-opted a post I intended to be celebratory in this way, I feel complicit in what was said about the businessperson. That it's okay that this person said that. And it's not okay to me.

I have learned that in order for me to live authentically, it's important for me to not surround myself with people who are toxic to me. That's not to say that I don't have people in my life who disagree with me or what I believe and stand for. I don't mean it like that at all. But there are people I know, and my relationship with them goes beyond disagreement and into toxicity. It could be that these people are angry about their beliefs, or that what they believe is damaging to me in some way, or that my relationship with them is filled with too much drama to be productive. Regardless of why, these people are not good for me, and just as I strive to make healthy food choices to take care of myself and exercise to take care of myself, it's important for me to take care of my mental and emotional (and spiritual) health by allowing myself to let go of toxic people instead of clinging to them out of some misguided sense of obligation.

So I unfriended this person.

I don't know whether or not there will be fallout from this with my friend (unfriended person's spouse). But I also know that this spouse believes the same things and has the same mentality as the person I unfriended, so maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing.

I don't know yet what will happen. But just as I know this person will stand by what was said, I stand by what I did.

30 October 2014

With a son in public school....

Image source
I read articles like this and feel a catch in my throat every time, imagining my own kindergarten son sitting cross-legged in a closet, trying to be brave on just this side of fearful.

Though we live in a big city, the school Puck attends (and Tink will attend next year) is new, in a small subdivision in a good neighborhood. I feel that my children will be safe at that school.

And still, there is part of me that can't help thinking about what protocols the school has in place for these situations, and what if Puck's class is doing P.E. outside or in the hall on the way back from the library.

It's a parent thing, I'm sure. We love our children and worry about them, so when faced with the gratuitous and hyperbolic coverage traditionally referred to as "news," the mind tends to imagine what would happen if....

I would be out the door and to the school, knowing full well that I would not be allowed on school ground until everything was resolved.

I would stand with other mothers and fathers and siblings watching windows and doorways and children running along the sidewalk for the merest glimpse of a familiar dinosaur shirt and light-up Spider-Man shoes.

And I would rage--as I do now--that we live in a country that claims to value education and sees the problems that exist but governmental checkbooks prove over and over again that there are more important things than providing safe, healthy environments that foster learning. That we say we want the best for our children but refuse to do right by them.

That we live in a society in which four-year-old children have drills in order to prepare them for a gunman wandering the school in the same way I once crouched in hallways in my own elementary school, my hands laced over the back of my neck, pretending I wasn't really afraid of tornadoes.

When I was a kid, the threats that existed were of strangers trying to kidnap us, so we were taught not to talk to strangers, don't accept candy from strangers, yell and run if someone tries to kidnap you. When I was a kid, my parents taught me a password. If they sent someone I didn't know to pick me up, that person would know the password. (I will have a password for my children, as well.)

But times have changed. We've moved from warnings of "stranger danger" to lockdown drills.

This is not a rant about the decline of our society in the way so many conservatives try to blame liberals or gays or atheists or whoever else for increased crime and poverty and whatever else. Instead, this is a rant about the fact that in the midst of this decline of our society, which is seen and felt by 99 percent of Americans, too many people are doing nothing to fix it.

Many aspects of our system are broken, education included. And while I know there are many people working hard to make changes in any way they can, there are just as many people who stand by and complain about the situation, wailing, "Why doesn't anyone do anything? Think of the children!," shaking their heads sadly from their sofas.

They aren't active in the school districts, even when their children are in school. They don't attend PTA meetings or school board meetings. They don't contribute when events or fundraisers are schedule to benefit the schools.

And they complain about the way the schools are run and the way budgets are handled. They blast teachers and principals for not doing the right things without trying to understand all that's involved in the decisions they make every day.

They complain about protocols and policies in place that make it "hard" to drop off and pick up their kids, or take them out of school, then rage when a child is kidnapped from the school.

We can't have it both ways. If you want to not be involved, fine. But then you have no grounds to complain about the way things are. If you want changes, fine. Then get up off your ass and be a part of finding the solutions for your kids.

Puck is in kindergarten this year. I have not been as involved as I would like because of my work schedule and where we live in relation to the school, but next year will be different.

I want my kids to get a good education. And I'm willing to do what it takes to help make it happen.

27 October 2014

The 2015 business plan

I've been working on my 2015 business plan lately.

I'm going to be making significant changes beginning next year* (probably late spring or early summer), and the plan I'm developing is a major part of it.

In fact, I'm (sort of) developing two business plans for the year since the first portion of the year will be continuing what I'm doing now, and the second portion of the year will be a major shift.

I've never had a "real" business plan, though I've always had objectives and plans to achieve them. But with the shift in my work in 2015 (and what that change will mean from behind the scenes), it's important to have something significantly more formalized.

So I'm working on tweaking my mission statement and value proposition, doing market research, and thinking about all I'm going to need to make this change happen successfully.

I was hopeful that I'd be able to launch the change at the beginning of 2015, but because of all that's involved, later in the year works much better. I'll be able to unveil everything by the end of July.

In the meantime, there's a lot of administrative work going on in between projects for clients, and I'll have my business plan in my files by the end of next month.

Is it time for Thanksgiving break yet?

*I'm not ready to talk about the change that's coming. Yet. But I will give you a hint: it's going back to doing some of what I loved about the office job I had before I moved back to Florida.

26 October 2014

Renew your spirit with the last beach day

Yesterday morning, Bo and I got up early and drove out to Daytona Beach. I'd never been and she went to school out there, so it was a great opportunity for me to explore a new beach and get a little glimpse into Bo's life before we became her herd.

It was chilly--I wore long pants and a long-sleeved shirt--but it was a wonderful walk on a beautiful beach. There are lots of shops on the boardwalk (though they were all closed since we were there so early), and we plan to go back to visit those shops and the local flea market/farmer's market nearby.

It was probably our last visit to the beach until spring, which made it all the more special. It was a reminder that fall is here (or rather, what fall means in Florida, which is late summer in much of the nation), and that winter is not far behind.

Walking along the beach and getting excited about visiting again in the spring was exactly what I needed this weekend.

Now I feel ready for the busyness this week is bringing.

23 October 2014

Why I blog

Every once in a while I have to convince myself to keep blogging. It may be that I feel I don't have anything "worth" blogging about or I'm struggling with a particular post, or life is getting busy. I may skip a few posts and not blog for a week (or a few weeks), and then I get back to it.

I always come back to it.

I probably always will.

I like feeling like I have a voice in this world through my blog. I have the chance to share things I'm passionate about, stories that are important to me, and even if no one reads them, I know that I'm doing what I can to live my story authentically.

And maybe along the way I'll find someone else to add to my tribe.

But sometimes my blogging is inconsistent, which I don't like. I go for a while and I'm able to blog daily (at least weekdays), and then life happens, and before I know it, weeks have passed without a new post. I don't like that.

As I'm preparing for a new direction in my career (which will include work-related blogging), I've been thinking about how I can more effectively incorporate this blog into the new plan.

Beginning this week, I'll only be blogging a few times a week, but it will be much more regular. I've developed an editorial calendar (which always helps me immensely). I won't be blogging every day, so I'll have more flexibility in my schedule, and not having a post scheduled every day in the editorial calendar will give me space to write about other things when/if they arise.

The end of this year and beginning of next year are bringing lots of wonderful changes to my life and career, so I have to be careful not to overwhelm myself along the way. The editorial calendar will help with that, and ensure that I can keep blogging regularly.

Because I do love blogging.

19 October 2014

Renew Your Spirit with Invitation-Only Trips

Yesterday morning I took some time off work so I could take Puck out for some much-needed one-on-one time. No one else was invited.

After breakfast, he and I went to the bookstore for story time and to pick two books to bring home, then we had lunch at Toojay's. I had a black bean burger and Puck had chicken tenders he described as "delicious."*

We laughed and talked and played and had a wonderful time.

And, since the trip, Puck has been reading one of his books nearly constantly. Out loud. By himself.

It was a happy, happy day.

*Puck made me promise we'll go back. He enjoyed his lunch.

11 October 2014

Still out....

Today is National Coming Out Day.

I have been out since early 2012, unashamed of who I am and how I live my life. I am a lesbian, and I am living authentically, raising my children to live authentically.

But coming out is still important.

The LGBTQ community has gotten a lot of great news lately. More than half of the states in our country have marriage equality, giving this basic right to a significant percentage of the population. More and more, people are not afraid to live authentically, and when they come out, they are met with support and love by friends and family members.

But coming out is still important.

Because there are still many states--including my own home state of Florida--that do not allow same-sex marriage. There are people who have decided that they're own prejudices should determine the rights of others where they live. And they need to know we're not going away just because they don't like us. We are here and deserve rights and we aren't afraid of who we are.

And coming out is still important.

Because there are people--particularly teenagers--who can't come out because they would be disowned or kicked out of their homes or risk being physically assaulted by people who are supposed to love and support them in all things.

I have been extremely lucky. I wasn't disowned by my family,* and have found incredible support and love from friends and Bo and her family. But I know that there are so many who aren't as fortunate as I have been.

So because they have no voices, I will be their voice. I will speak for them and fight for them and show them that there is love and support in this world. It is not all ugly and intolerant. There are 35 states that are working to prove that.

Coming out is still important, and always will be.

*There are those who have distanced themselves from me since I came out and since Bo and I started dating, but it was done quietly.

10 October 2014

I once said I didn't want to be a health writer...

When I started freelance writing way back in 2008, I got a client writing health-related blog posts and newsletter articles.  It was a really good starter gig, but when I took it, I told myself I wasn't going to let myself get locked in to writing on health-related topics for my career. It wasn't something I had a passion for. It was just a starting place.

Now, as I'm looking ahead to changes in my career, my target market will be small to mid-size holistic health and wellness organizations.

I know, right?

Here's the thing. Health-related writing gave me a start. And as I started focusing more on my own health--from a holistic perspective--I developed a passion for the field. And now it's my career path.

Freelancers are told to find a niche. It helps narrow the field of potential clients, and allows writers to use their expertise to create the best quality writing they can.

When I started writing, I didn't want health-related writing to be my niche. But I used it as a foundation, and the more I wrote about it, the more passionate I became about the topics. I found myself drawn to health-related topics, even narrowing that to holistic health and wellness-related topics. Now I can't imagine writing about anything else.

I'm excited about what is coming next year as I focus on my target market in my niche. 2015 is going to be a good year, and my own health journey is going to get to be a major part of it.

06 October 2014

Thinking about work....

Fall is always a busy time for me for work. This fall is no exception. I do a lot of academic writing, so during the school year, I have more work on my project sheets.

It's a good problem, especially for an independent content journalist.

And the best news is that there are the beginning of plans in the works that will make things even better (and busier in some ways), which I'm really, really excited about.

I can't give many details yet, partly because there's a lot that hasn't been decided and worked out. However, I can tell you that means narrowing my target market, changing my career focus slightly, and moving to the next level in this crazy adventure of self-employment. This change will allow me to continue to do all the things I love about my job, and add another aspect that will be beneficial to my clients as well as to myself.

Over the next few months I'll be working on my 2015 business plan, defining my new target market, and getting ready for this transition. I'm excited about what this will mean for my career in the coming years (and long-term). I've worked hard to get where I am, so I'm ready for the benefits of what's next.

Of course, from a business/financial perspective, this change will allow me to better provide for my family and our future since this shift will help me focus more on the value my services bring to the client in a way that my competitors don't.

The transition will consist of baby steps between now and next summer, at which time I'll officially launch the change.

I'm excited about what's coming.

2015 is going to be a damn good year.

03 October 2014

The coffee house book in third-person point of view

Writing has been different since I changed the point of view of the coffee house book from first-person. In some ways, it's been easier to write the stories, but first-person lent itself nicely to exposition with the characters who were on the ramble-y side.

I've had to adjust my thinking in developing the characters and telling their stories. I need to share intimate aspects of their lives and stories while remaining true to the structure and narrator I've established.

The good news is that now that I have the point of view right, the whole process is going much more smoothly, and I'll be finished with the draft by the end of the year.

How's your work-in-progress going?

02 October 2014

Sofa shopping

Bo and I currently have a hand-me-down loveseat in our living room. It's fine, but worn, and we've been talking about getting a new sofa soon.

Soon is getting closer. And the good news is that we know what we want. If it's still available, we'll get the one we sat on some time ago and both liked.

I'm tempted to make a case for a chaise.

01 October 2014

The 30-day burpee challenge

So I've tried this challenge before and failed spectacularly, which is really the best way to fail. But I'm trying it again.

I feel the need for something a little more intense than just yoga in the mornings or getting in my steps each day, so I'm trying the burpee challenge to get me in the habit of exercising a little more intensely much more regularly.

The calendar posted on this blog post is the one I'll be using for this challenge. I like it because I know it will challenge me (especially toward the end of the month), but there are regular rest days that will help keep me from feeling overwhelmed.

Once I finish the challenge I don't know whether I'll continue doing burpees, or try a different exercise routine. It will depend a lot on how I feel on day 31, and where I am in meeting my health goals.

In the meantime, wish me luck. I have five burpees to do today.