What If?

What if everything I wanted came true? What would my life look like? They say it can be helpful to envision what you want, to give you motivation to make it happen. So here it goes:

  • I would live in my current house, but it would be clean and organized and fully functional, without any concerning maintenance issues.
  • I would have two beautiful, well-behaved children who loved spending time with me but were also free, independent thinkers who were thriving and growing.
  • I would have a fulfilling book-related career (as a librarian? an Educational Services Representative?) and also have my fulfilling side projects. My websites would be full, getting traffic, bringing in income, and helping people. My novels would be actually selling, and I would be making progress on additional books to publish and sell.
  • I would be involved in my kids’ schools, able to help with projects and field trips and fundraisers.
  • I would be able to give back and get the kids involved in giving back, through volunteering or donating. I’m also still considering fostering…
  • I would be happy, comfortable financially, able to go on vacations with the kids, with enough free time to catch up on my reading list or watch movies or treat myself to a manicure or bake.

I think that sounds good. Now, if I follow recommended advice, the way to accomplish these goals is to work backward and determine what I would need to do to reach them. What steps would I need to take, how long would I need, what would I need to do each day to get there?

Now that would require a lot of thought and planning and figuring out. I’ll save that for a future post! But the reason I bring it up now is because I hate feeling like my options to meet my immediate needs aren’t bringing me any closer to my long-term goals. And I need to either find a way to deal with that or find other ways to meet my immediate needs that do bring me closer to my goals.

I have spent the last week trying to figure out the best course of action. I’ve said I was going to make the leap into freelancing, and yet I find myself reluctant to start. Scrolling through job boards to bid on, I find myself struck with an emotion other than the fear I mentioned last week. It’s a feeling akin to disappointment. The feeling that if the jobs that interest me most are in line with my own personal projects, why should I spend the time writing for someone else when I could be writing the same things for my own sites and getting myself closer to my goals at the same time?

I know, I know. The guarantee of money is a strong motivator. But I kind of feel I would be wasting my time — and possibly shooting myself in the foot at the same time, as I might not be able to reuse what I wrote for my own needs, which would affect my sites in the future. So what do I do?

And, let’s not discount the fact that while reaching out for advice on ways to bring in money an idea was presented to me that has since been rolling around in my head, growing like a snowball, to the point that I kind of want to jump in to that new project. What is it? A new blog, and coordinating site, that revolves around books, specifically children’s books (though I suppose I could expand it if I wanted to). This project could have positive effects, as it could provide ad revenue (especially if I opted to expand onto YouTube for reviews and such), plus ways to channel traffic to my Usborne Books & More business, any children’s books I decide to write, and more. Hey, I might even get to the point where I’m getting free books to review and whatnot, but I may be getting ahead of myself. Still, the possibilities are endless. (I know, I know. I do not need another project right now, but if it helps and has a lot of potential, is it really so bad?)

Keep in mind that all these thoughts are swimming in my brain as I’m trying to take steps for immediate needs, and I feel I’m not getting too far. I tried transcription again and spent about an hour and a half transcribing a 16-minute audio clip for about $6. It’s more than I would have gotten just sitting on my butt, but not much more! Is it worth it to keep going? Yes, I would get faster with time, and yes, I would get more per minute as I get established, but still… I spent a couple of hours posting items on eBay. I’m hoping that pays off, but it’s too soon to say. Was that a waste, too?

I’m torn. Can you tell? I have such high hopes for the future, and so many things I want to do. I had thought I was getting closer to a solution, but I realize I’m not, after all. So where do I go from here?

Well, I think that when it comes to freelancing I’m going to look for projects that are not related to my personal projects. In other words, find topics I’m interested in that I wasn’t creating a website for (maybe kids/family life, writing etc.) or focus on editing, proofreading, and other tasks that are not actually writing. And in the meantime try to make progress on my own websites (and maybe that new blog…?) and other projects. I’m also going to continue to post items on eBay. Not only will that possibly bring in income, but if I find the gifty items I’m posting are selling well, I may be able to build something from that to relate to my gift-giving website for future income.

It’s not perfect. And I do really need to tackle that “working backward from your goals” thing. I want to feel like I’m making real progress, not just flopping around and occasionally moving forward. Ahh!!! Sometimes it feels my brain is more of a muddled mess than ever. But I feel I am getting closer to a solution, or at least a course of action. Any suggestions? Advice? I’m open to input!

Phoenix Rising

After the not-exactly-uplifting post yesterday, and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day that followed, I had not one but two breakdowns. It was as if all the stress and doubt and frustration came to a head and didn’t want to stay inside me any longer. So I let it out.

Afterward, I realized I had two choices. I could let myself wallow, bemoan my status, and continue to be miserable. Or I could take a deep breath and pick myself up. I opted for the latter.

In the past, when I’ve had moments of depression or self-pity, I’ve been able to take a deep breath and push myself back into sanity. I’ve strengthened my resolve, created a plan, and kept going. This time is no different, except that maybe this time more is at stake. But I am determined not to let my current set of circumstances get the better of me. It’s time to get to work.

So what does “get to work” look like? Well, I started last night by taking care of a couple of things that had been hanging over me. I changed my bedding so I could finally use the new sheets and comforter I received for Christmas. I started going through my gift stash and putting things aside for eBay. And I read more about starting a freelance writing business and gave some thought as to what I would like to write about. In short, I was working on building a foundation for moving forward (and isn’t that what this month was supposed to be about?).

Moving forward, though, I need to actually do something, not just organize and think about doing things. So what do I do?

This is where it gets tricky. There’s no guarantee that any of my efforts will pan out. I have lots to post on eBay, but posting takes time. And even if I post everything I have available, there’s no guarantee I’m going to sell anything. I’m able to take the training now to be an Educational Services Representative with Usborne, but even if I complete the training today, I need to build relationships and schedule events and sell books and all that fun stuff, which means income down the road. If we’re friends on Facebook, you likely saw my little post offering my writing services. I’ve reached out on another group I belong to for help determining pricing. But it still becomes a waiting game, at least until I can really get my name out there and find clients. So what do I do now?

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer for that one yet. I may have to juggle money a bit in the meantime. But the way I see it, the more possibilities I put out there, the more likely I am to have success with at least one. Something has to work, right?


I refuse to give in to self-doubt. I am stronger than that. So I’m going to do what I usually do when I get excited about something: jump in. It’s time to get my brain working overtime. It’s time to overflow with ideas and enthusiasm. And it’s time to get off the hamster wheel.

This will work.


Let me preface this post by saying that I wasn’t sure if I should publish it or not. I pride myself on being an optimistic, proactive person, and in some ways this post goes against that. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that it was important for others to see the flip side, too. To know that they’re not alone in feeling this way sometimes. And to know that it’s possible to move past it. So here it goes…


You don’t realize how insecure you’ve become until you’re staring at a list of audio clips waiting to be transcribed, afraid to select one. That list, full of three-minute snippits, can be more intimidating than a huge work project or screaming toddler. But why? It’s not like they were a matter of life or death. They were a few minutes waiting to be transcribed for a few bucks. But selecting one, and attempting to type what was being said, was more nerve-wracking than just about anything I’ve done in the recent past. And it all boils down to one word: insecurity.

It’s no secret that I’ve struggled. It seems every project I’ve taken on, every career path I’ve attempted, every big plan I’ve made, has been met with failure, disappointment, and frustration. And I’m not just talking about professionally. My finances, my relationships, just about every area of my life ends up hitting a brick wall, crashing and burning. And if I think about it that way, it’s a miracle I’m still standing! But, despite my determination to be optimistic, these disappointments have taken their toll.

In dealing with my struggles, I’ve had to really evaluate what I want out of life, where I want my career and professional aspirations to lead me. But I’ve also had to accept that I need ways to support myself and my kids in the meantime. So I’ve brainstormed and researched and asked for advice. Yet, despite having several solid options for “side gigs,” I find myself hesitant to actually jump in to any of them.

Why? What is keeping me from making that leap?

I can tell myself that they’ll be boring. Or not what I want to do. But I’ve done plenty of boring things I don’t have interest in (and some of the options might not be so bad). I can tell myself that they won’t be worth the effort, won’t get me anywhere financially (but is spending my time “researching” helping? and what about the people who are getting somewhere doing those things?). I can tell myself that I’m better off working on my own projects, that they’ll bring in money eventually (yes, they might…eventually, after lots of effort and marketing and all that good stuff). But the reality? I have come to the realization that a big part of me is afraid to try something new, afraid of putting myself out there. All those disappointments have made me gun-shy.

Now, this is hard for me. Because I love a challenge. I love problem solving. I love figuring things out and looking at things in a different way. I love learning and being creative. So why am I struggling? These options are right up my alley: writing, editing, proofreading. I could look for people who need help with publishing e-books, or setting up a simple website. These are all things that I’ve done. They’re all things that I know I can do. So what’s the problem?

I’m scared.

I’m scared of messing up. I’m scared that if I do mess up, that I’ll mess up somebody else’s stuff. In the past, if I’ve taken on a project, it’s been my own. If it doesn’t work out, well, no one feels the consequences but me. But if I’m doing work for someone else. If someone is paying me to write something, edit something, work on their project…well, that’s a whole different ball game. Then, my failure affects them.

I’m scared of failure. Again. Of putting myself out there and no one liking what I’ve done. I’m afraid that I’ll update my website, hang my freelance shingle, if you will, and people will realize I can’t write after all. That there’s a reason I’m a self-published author instead of a traditionally-published author. That there’s a reason I create my own websites for my articles rather than submit them to other sites. That I’m a fraud. A hack. And there’s no way they should pay me. And now I’ll be left with the realization that I’ve been lying to myself all these years and I can’t support my family with this.

Super depressing, huh?

Now, I’m the kind of person who can look at pretty much anything from different points of view. That means I can “talk myself off the ledge,” so to speak. I can take a deep breath, evaluate what I’ve done in the past, and tell myself what went right, what I should have done differently, and what was and wasn’t my fault. I can give myself a pep talk and cite examples to myself of people who enjoyed my work. But sometimes the insecurity wins. Sometimes I lose the debate with myself and slip back into self-doubt. Sometimes a list of three-minute audio clips will get the better of me.

But I refuse to let it win the war.

Yes, I did select an audio clip to transcribe (though the transcription itself took a lot longer than it probably should have). I did make a few errors (because I didn’t pay enough attention to the style guide). And I likely will try again. And I likely will try to take on some writing jobs or editing jobs. What other choice do I have? Fall into a financial crater and let my family suffer? I think not. So I will put myself out there. But it just might be the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time.

What Comes Out of Necessity…

It has been an interesting — but stressful! — week. It started with a “me” day. Kevin had the kids for the day, and I was planning on tackling paperwork. I did, and I was productive, but not nearly as productive as I had hoped. Everything was taking longer than expected. So already I’m running behind. Combine that with the kids coming home earlier than expected (Avery hurt himself, a minor injury — he’s fine), and I’m really bummed. Then, later that same day, Kevin and I make plans to “discuss things” Wednesday night. Cue the stress and anxiety. What a start to the week!

Stress unfortunately manifests itself into gastrointestinal issues for me, so all week I struggled with feeling out of sorts. Combine that with the financial woes and worries that plagued my mind, and I was a bundle of stressed-out jitters, anxious for Wednesday to be over. Eventually, of course, Wednesday came, and while the result isn’t happy, I’m happy to say Kevin and I were on the same page. We are officially getting a divorce.

Of course having the decision made does relieve a bit of the stress, and having the meeting pass also relieved stress (a good bit of my anxiety was not knowing how it was going to go, or what Kevin was thinking). But the biggest worry is still there: money. And that really sucks.

So onward we go, to attempt to lay the foundation for a successful future, one that will hopefully leave me a bit more financially secure. My, there are an awful lot of wishy-washy words in that sentence: “attempt,” “hopefully,” “a bit.” Can you tell how uncertain I feel about things?

I don’t deal well with uncertainty. I like to be able to plan, to be able to formulate a way to tackle whatever problems I’m dealing with. So I’m doing my best to create a plan of attack to create a solid financial foundation, even while I have to face that I don’t really know how to do that. I have ideas, and wants, and needs, and I find myself at a loss over which “foundation” to lay. What will yield me the best results, not just in the short term, but the long term? And, not just in the long term, but the short term? In other words: where the heck do I go from here? What should I focus on that will get me where I want and need to be?

Big questions that don’t have easy answers. Yes, I could search out a lucrative opportunity that will take care of my financial needs. But what would be the sacrifice? Less time with my kids, a job that leaves me feeling dead and unfulfilled inside (which leads to feeling depressed and other not-nice feelings that could have their own set of negative consequences), a sense of loss over my unfinished projects and unrealized goals. I could keep chugging along as I’ve been doing, with my regular job and whatever Kevin is able to give me and taking care of my projects as I see fit. But what would be the sacrifice there? Likely my house. I simply can’t keep up the way I am without bringing in more income. And, between not wanting to uproot the kids at what is a sensitive time (especially for Avery) and not wanting to give up the space that I’m finally getting the way I want, that’s not a good option, either.

So where does that leave me? I would say the two choices mentioned above are the most common following divorce: get a better-paying job to pay the bills and/or downsize to cut expenses. But since when have I ever done the “common” or “easy” thing? I want it all, darn it! And that requires a bit more creativity and finesse — a bit more “thinking outside the box” if you will. Fortunately, that happens to be my specialty.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Sounds like I know exactly what I’m going to do, right? Well, I’m still working on it. But I believe I’m getting there. The way I see it I already have a lot of pokers in the fire. I have a lot of beginnings that, with some work, could become possibilities. Here’s what I’ve got:

  • My “day job,” the one that pays my mortgage with a little extra each month
  • Usborne Books & More consultant status (hopefully soon to be Educational Services Representative status, too)
  • A ton of stuff to sell – book stock (Usborne books, my self-published books, and other misc books), assorted gifts (especially toys), some odds and ends
  • Two eBay accounts with positive feedback ratings
  • An approved application to be a transcriptionist
  • Several websites in the works, one of which gets some traffic and could get more with a little advertising and effort (www.freefamilyfuninct.com) and others that have potential but will require a lot more work to bring in income
  • A brain that always has new ideas and ways of looking at things!

Of course we also have to think of all the things I have that could be seen as hinderances, at least when thinking of financial opportunity:

  • Two adorable, wonderful children (who are also young and needy)
  • A mess of a house that needs cleaning and organizing
  • A personality that doesn’t do the “easy” thing (gets bored, always wants more, too many ideas, wants to be fulfilled)
  • Bills that need to be paid now, not just in the future
  • Goals! Ideas! Wants! Desires!

*sigh* OK. So we know what we’re dealing with: a huge stack of bills, a woman who wants it all, and a lot of possibilities that require work. So what’s the game plan?

Fortunately I’m not leaving you hanging. While this week has been stressful, it has also forced me to think about how I want things to go. I’ve made lists and schedules and brainstorms. I’ve thought about what I want and what I need and what my kids need and how to get there. And here’s what I’ve come up with. Yes, I know some of you (maybe all of you) will think I’m crazy, but that’s just me, right?

Daily Schedule

5:00 Wake up, catch up on e-mail and Facebook

5:30 Start laundry, Project 1 (see below)

6:30 Put laundry in dryer, eat breakfast, take care of kids, do light cleaning and organizing

7:30 Get the kids and myself ready for the day (get dressed, brush teeth, get lunches ready, etc.)

8:15 Bring Avery to school, then go to work, followed by any tasks for the day

2:30 – 3:20 Pick up kid(s), followed by kid time or tasks (time and tasks depend on day)

5:30 Dinner, followed by kid time or tasks (depends on how long it takes kids to eat!)

6:30 Get kids ready for bed

7:30 Clean (especially the kitchen and dishes), Start laundry (if needed)

8:00 Project 2 (see below)

9:00 Put laundry in dryer, shower, relax

9:30 Go to bed

“Tasks” will vary by day and will be planned out in my planner. This is, of course, my weekday schedule. Weekends are usually primarily kid time, with projects before they come down in the morning and after they’ve gone to bed at night. Sundays that Kevin has the kids will have their own projects. Speaking of projects, each day has particular focuses, as broken down below:


#1: Planning, making lists, etc.
#2: Usborne tasks (paperwork, reaching out to potential customers, scheduling Facebook posts, etc.)

#1: Work on Free Family Fun site (add events, update articles as needed)
#2: Transcription work

#1: Work from home for my day job
#2: Cleaning projects (based on my focus for the month)

#1: Work on Free Family Fun site (add events)
#2: Transcription work

#1: Pay bills and handle paperwork as needed
#2: Work on other websites (based on my focus for the month)

#1: Write or writing-related tasks
#2: Post items for sale on eBay

#1: Blog
#2: Relax/unwind

Of course this “ideal” schedule is subject to change. I have to see if it works in practice, not just in theory. Much of it is based on what I already do, but to stick with it I do need to practice a bit more discipline.

Are you overwhelmed yet? In some ways I am, but having a kind of plan in place also gets me in the mindset to tackle what needs to be done. And if it starts working out, then maybe I’ll be in good shape! I’m hoping to put this plan into effect this week. We’ll see how it goes!

A Week In

Well, the first week of 2018 is just about over. How has it gone? So far, so good, I’d say, though not as good as it would have gone if I’d stuck strictly to my planner! But I guess that’s what some tummy troubles and exhaustion will do to ya. Still, I progressed, so that’s a good thing.

I’m always a fan of creating a game plan: a course of action to get me where I want to be. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. But at least it gets me really thinking about what I want and what I need to do to get there. For this year, I’ve decided to break down my overall hopes and goals into months. Each month I will focus on particular tasks, or areas of my life, so that I can check off the big things in that area before moving on to another (hopefully with new routines established that keep the completed areas running smoothly). Let me explain.

I started off 2018 with a lot of catching up to do. I’m WAY behind in business paperwork, and it all needs to be done before sales tax needs to be turned in at the end of this month and income tax is done shortly after. In addition, I have my cleaning and organizing projects and other odds and ends (like potty training Emily) that have fallen by the wayside. So I’ve dubbed January my “foundations” month. This month I will be focusing on catching up and laying a solid foundation for moving forward. This means tackling business paperwork: finishing all 2017 paperwork and setting up for 2018 information. This means taking care of the areas of my house that get the most traffic and need the most attention: the kitchen and living room. And this means setting up my library/office so I have a comfortable place for the kids and me to work and relax, and eventually where I can work on my writing again. (I’m super excited about my library/office — I rearranged my bedroom and got rid of a bunch of underutilized furniture so I could turn half into a library/office!)

The other months of the year will each have a theme, as well. While I haven’t filled in all of them yet, so far I’ve determined February will be focused on my Usborne Books & More business (so I can get my Educational Services Representative career off the ground), March will be focused on writing (so I can get reconnected with that part of me, market what I’ve already written, and establish a new writing routine to complete what I’ve started and create new works), and April I’m thinking will be focused on the great outdoors (getting my yard in shape, starting our garden, taking care of my new fruit trees, and maybe getting into a walking routine with the kids). Of course — and here comes the tricky part — I don’t want to lose progress I’ve made in each of these areas as I move on to the next, so as I’m going I will need to make sure I’m creating routines and putting organization into place that will make ongoing maintenance easier and practical. That’s the part that always messes me up the most. Fingers crossed!

So, a week into January, how are my “foundations” coming? Not too bad, though I have a long way to go still. During the week I made a lot of progress on my library/office: finished assembling desks and bookcases (special thanks to my parents for their buying the furniture as Christmas presents for us, and my dad for his help in assembly), put a bunch of books away on the shelves, and started putting away supplies. Yesterday I worked on cleaning up the living room a bit. And today I have the dreaded task of tackling business paperwork. Kevin has the kids today, so I’m hoping to really sit down and take care of either my Usborne Books & More stuff or my Creative Endeavors (crafts and writing) stuff. If I can finish one of them, I’ll be happy. The next time Kevin has the kids for a full day I’ll tackle the other one. I’m really hoping I don’t need more than a full day for each one, but I’ve built in a cushion should I need it.

This week I plan to work on more cleaning and organizing (I really need to tackle the kitchen), spending time with the kids, and evaluating some other areas of my professional life (like websites I’ve started, crafts and gift baskets, and non-schools and libraries areas of Usborne) to determine if and when I want to proceed in those areas. It’s a process! I’m hoping next week I’ll be able to tell you I made considerable progress in everything. Wish me luck!

A New Beginning

2017 was most definitely a year of change, filled with ups and downs and lots of reflection on my life, as indicated in yesterday’s post.  But today marks a new beginning, a brand new year — and I’m determined to make it a great one!

As in previous years, I am making a series of goals rather than resolutions — items I hope to accomplish this year. I have high hopes for this year, and my goals are certainly in line with that. I’m going to push myself, as I’ve been pushing myself the last couple of months, to get my life where I want it to be — or at least as close as possible.

Goals for 2018

  • Get my entire house clean and organized
    By this I mean get it to a place where I’m not stepping over things or pushing aside clutter just to free up a space to work. I don’t expect the house to be neat as a pin and dust free — I do have kids, after all, and limited time once I take everything else into consideration. But I need to clear all the clutter, organize what we use in a way that works for our daily life, and find homes for all the stuff we want to keep. I feel I’m in a vicious cycle of cleaning, piling, and figuring things out. It’s time for it to stop. I know how I want things, and it’s time for me to get them there. I’ve already started this massive undertaking, and I’m hoping it will be complete by the end of the year.
  • Make enough money on an ongoing basis to keep my house and comfortably pay all incoming expenses
    This one will definitely be a challenge, especially with the high debt I have to consider. Fortunately our personal loan will be paid off this month, which helps. But I still have other debt to pay off, plus the regular monthly expenses. The uncertain financial future with regards to Kevin doesn’t help. I’m not sure how things are going to pan out. So that means I have to intentionally overshoot where I expect to be. And that means a perhaps unrealistic expectation of what I am able to bring in. But if I can start bringing in money with the Usborne school and library program, and maybe start doing something with my writing again, perhaps I will get the push I need to get where I need to be. I also have other “pokers in the fire” if you will, but I don’t know if they’ll pan out, so I suppose only time will tell.
  • Establish a position as an Educational Services Representative
    This serves a double purpose: hopefully it will provide income as I sell books to schools and libraries, but I’m thinking it will also help me build relationships and rapport with said schools and libraries, so that once I have my Masters degree I will be in a good position to look for jobs. Not only will I have experience working with schools and libraries, but perhaps I will also have early knowledge of any job openings that come up.
  • Create daily and weekly routines that maximize my time
    OK, this sounds rather vague, but I promise it’s not. While I’ve made progress in planning out my days to fit in many of the things I have to do, I know I could do better. The part that I know has been slipping in particular, especially the last couple of months, is time to devote to the kids. While all their needs are being taken care of, and I have still tried to fit in family fun days, I know on a daily basis I could do better in terms of quality time with them. So I need to find ways to set aside one-on-one (or one-on-two) time with them while still finding time to clean, organize, and progress in my personal and professional goals. I’ve been playing with some routines and planning but still need to work out details and tweak it all a bit.

I know I could make goals for losing weight and exercising more, for eating healthier, and other “typical” new year’s resolutions. But to be honest, while I will certainly try to work on these moving forward, they are just not top priority for me right now. I’m reasonably healthy and don’t do anything that will put that in jeopardy right now, so I’m choosing to focus most of my energy on the items above. It would also be nice to start schooling for my Masters this year, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford it, so I’m choosing to hold off. If I’m in a position to start, great! But I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment, either, especially when I know how difficult my financial goals already are.

I honestly don’t know how this year is going to go. There is a lot up in the air right now. But I’m hoping by the end of this year I will overall be in a more stable, comfortable position, ready to grow and learn and excel — and able to help my kids do the same. I know this year is filled with potential, and I’m ready to grab it! Here’s to the best year yet!