Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

The Greatest Thing

I think the greatest thing about being underemployed and working from home is that you can go off and do things that you never would be able to do if you worked for someone who made you go into an office every day.  For example, last week I went to visit my mother in another state.  My sister and I drove over to help her move about three miles from one house to another. It was great fun, great time together, and it would have never happened if I still had a regular job – at least not during the week.  While I was there I participated in a conference call with some colleagues and reviewed a project we’re finalizing, so I did continue to work.

Since my layoff three years ago I’ve taken advantage of the freedom I have to visit friends and family.  It has been such a gift.  I can’t do it all the time of course, but I love to get out of town when I get the chance.  I tend to stay in the house a lot, which starts to be soul-crushing for an extrovert like me.  These periodic trips keep me clear-headed and energized, as well as remind of how much I’m loved.

So even though the trade-off is being poor, I still wouldn’t give up the freedom I have to spend time with the people I love.  I think my priorities have changed.  I used to be incredibly career-driven, to define myself by the relative coolness of my job, but that need to be “successful” has lessened.  Yes, I want to work, to do good work, to work at something I enjoy and find fulfilling, but not at the expense of my relationships.  And this time in my life has given me more opportunity to be the kind of wife, friend, daughter and sister than I’ve ever had as an adult.  It really is pretty great.

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Wonderful and Awful

Working from home is wonderful and awful – both in succession, and simultaneously.  What I mean is that sometimes the wonderful days are wholly wonderful and the awful days are wholly awful, and at other times it’s a big ball of wonderful awfulness.  Or awful wonderfulness.  It depends on the day how I see it.

The wholly wonderful days are the ones where I feel like I’ve really taken advantage of everything working from home has to offer.  Those days go like this: sleep until I wake up (usually @ 7:30 or 8:00 – don’t judge me!), enjoy my coffee as I read the paper, fire up the laptop and peruse my email, have a little breakfast, work a few hours, get dressed, go meet my sister for lunch, drop by the grocery store on the way home, work some more in the afternoon, make dinner, hang out with the hubs, get back on the computer and write until 11:30 or so, go to bed.  Those are the great days, the days I think how lucky I am not to have to show up in an office every day and play nice.

The wholly awful days go like this:  I wake up thinking about how I don’t know how to find my next client, how tight money is, and how guilty I feel that I’m not contributing more to the household income.  While my coffee is brewing I check my email on my phone, and become discouraged if there’s nothing but junk mail.  I fire up my laptop and spend the next 45 minutes on Facebook.  Without a plan or a goal I drift around the internet looking for inspiration from anywhere – other industry people, trade magazines, blogs.  At some point I give up and turn on the tv.  I may do a load of laundry or mop the kitchen floor.  I never change out of my yoga pants or put in my contacts.  I try to write, but I wind up staring at a blank screen.  I go to bed regretting the wasted day.

The days that are simultaneously wonderful and awful usually happen when I’m having a great day and then get some bad news that sends me into an emotional slide, or when I’m having a bad day and I get some good news, or I hear unexpectedly from a friends, or something else happens to give the day a positive color.

Wonderful and awful is the spectrum on which all of my days fall.  This isn’t new; every day of my life can be found somewhere along this line.  But there’s something about being self-employed, about the silence of working alone that magnifies my awareness of the continuum.  It’s so easy for the quality of your days to become drowned in the noise of daily routine when every day you have to get up, get dressed, fight the traffic to the office, deal with co-workers, fight traffic home, and finally, cram your family relationships into the four hours or so between the time you get home and the time you go to bed.  It took these days of solitude to understand how many days on the awful end of the spectrum I was actually having.   So now, even though it seems like the awful days are worse, I don’t think they are.  I just notice them more.  I notice the wonderful days more now, too.

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Happy Anniversary! Happy Father’s Day!

The 16th of June this year is a busy day – Father’s Day, my wedding anniversary, and the final round of the U. S. Open golf tournament (a very big deal around here).  My husband, Eric, and I went out for breakfast today and he went off to work for a while.  We’re going to see a friend this afternoon in a short production, then out to dinner, then meet back up with friends for drinks later.  It’s been a long time since we celebrated our anniversary with anyone; I”m looking forward to it.  I don’t know when we’re going to watch the golf!

This is our 16th anniversary.  So hard to imagine!  At breakfast we talked about our wedding day.  We got married on a Monday so our theatre friends could come (and it wound up costing about 1/3 as much!).  It was a hot, muggy day here in Atlanta, and because we were doing things on the cheap, my husband and his brother (his best man) wound up unloading cases of drinks in their tuxedos.  They got really sweaty, and had to strip off in the men’s room.  Eric loves to tell that story!  It rained just as our guests were arriving, but, being theatre people, we took that as a good sign – rain on opening night is good luck in the theatre world.  And I suppose good luck it has been, in all the ways that matter.  We’re still married, happily, all these years later, and I don’t expect that will change.

My Dad is off on a trip, so I probably won’t talk to him until he gets back.  We have something we have to work through, courtesy of the appearance of my diary on Amazon.  I’ll be glad to get that conversation over and done, and move on.

So, I’ve got a few hours of quiet, then off to celebrate!  It’s a good day!

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I’m Broke

Really, really broke.  Right now we have $39 and change in the checking account, and my husband doesn’t get paid until tomorrow.  Fortunately we have gas in the cars, food in the fridge, and the bills are paid, but I’ve been pretty much stuck in the house for two weeks.

This situation is all the more frustrating because people owe me money – a good bit of money.  I finished my last gig almost six weeks ago and sent in my final invoice when I got back to town, so I had anticipated that payment to arrive sometime at the end of last month – they were always great about paying me promptly.  So when the 30-day mark passed with no check I had to call my client about it.  Apparently they hadn’t processed my invoice.  I was promised that they would get it paid “as soon as possible”; that was on Monday of this week.  It could still be days before the check shows up.  I also have a few dollars coming to me for a couple of articles I’ve written, but I don’t think they cut checks until @ the 15th, so I’m waiting on that as well.

This is the biggest downside of working for yourself, in my opinion.  Unless you are blessed to have a constant stream of work, there is always this uncertainty about money.  I really, really dislike worrying about money!  But that’s the trade-off:   steady paycheck vs. doing what you want to do.  And as much as I hate being broke, I still wouldn’t give it up.  Not yet anyway.

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Hello and Welcome

Hello!  Welcome.  My name is Amanda Brooks, and I’m a self-employed event services professional who works from home.  This is both wonderful and awful at the same time.

As anyone in my situation knows, clients come and go, and life doesn’t conform to a regular routine of “workdays” and “weekends”.  It’s a challenge for anyone who has spent most of their career in a traditional Monday through Friday, 9 – 5 work environment to get adjusted to a new way of doing things.   Especially if the work doesn’t keep you as busy as you would like it to.

I’m going to talk about how I deal with the joys, and the hardships, of working from home and being under-employed.  I’m going to share my perspective on what I really like, and what sucks, about my life.  I hope you will be entertained.

I will also probably talk about my cats.  Sorry.

 

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