For Freelancers: What Happens When You Set Boundaries

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For all who have wondered what cave I’ve been hiding in all this time, 2022 started off with a bang for me and I’m dealing with an avalanche of projects, not to mention sick kids and all the ensuing schedule disruptions. And, of course, whatever else happens, laundry hampers overflow, trash cans need emptying, and grocery shopping needs doing.

As I was doing my taxes for 2021, I passingly reflected on the importance of having boundaries as a freelancer/mom/household manager and all the many hats we wear.

I know many self-employed individuals struggle with self-discipline in a very straightforward way – it starts with “I’ll just check my email”, and three hours later you’re deep in a Twitter debate about animal conservation because there’s nobody to drag you to your desk and make you start working.

I battle a different affliction, commonly known as biting off more than you can chew. I apply to lots of different gigs and find it hard to scroll by when an interesting offer appears in one of my freelancer Facebook groups. However, I am pleased to say that I made progress in 2021.

In the early half of 2021, my income ledger showed entries from many different clients. I squinted at the chart a couple of weeks ago, barely recalling some names. Then I remembered. “Oh, that didn’t work out.” “This person wanted faster turnarounds than I could commit to.” “This one had unreasonable demands.”

In the second half of the year, I consolidated my efforts to a couple of steady clients – without losing income. Yet now I have more sanity, less frenzy, fewer emails to answer, and less juggling in my schedule. I also became far more confident in my communication: “I can do this and this by date X”; “I cannot commit to any day earlier than Thursday”; “I can promise X, but not Y.”

I used to be a huge people pleaser, which didn’t give me many opportunities to see how people react when you don’t give them what they want. In the past year, I saw how it goes: some walk away, leaving the ones you get along with. I believe it’s true in the personal as well as professional sense.

Today, I sleep better, read more paperbacks, take more walks, and have more time for my kids, all while being more productive.

I hope everyone has a nice, cozy January with a mug of hot cocoa and a stack of good books (except you in the Southern hemisphere – enjoy your summer!).

Hoping for a Better 2022

You guys, I haven’t blogged properly in a while. Mostly because I’m sort of transfixed with horror, watching this enormous global train wreck of dealing with a mild-to-moderate risk virus.

In the past, I have protested against the dictatorship Israel seems to be sinking into. Now that other countries are jumping on the bandwagon, I actually see how the situation is flipping, and how Israel’s covid vaccine coercion, as despicable and unfair as it is, is actually – so far! – not as bad as what is now happening in European countries like Austria:

Those refusing to be vaccinated are likely to face administrative fines, which can be converted into a prison sentence if the fine cannot be recovered.

Prisons and concentration camps for the unvaccinated, folks. Someone please wake me from this nightmare.

Our government is now raising up a huge campaign of fear and panic in the face of the Omicron, which so far appears a milder, less virulent covid strain.

What conclusion would I expect in the face of the facts that Omicron (a) is far more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, and (b) appears to be a less dangerous strain? “OK, it seems that the vaccine isn’t working so well now. No point pressuring people to get vaccinated.” I’d even throw in an apology for all the fear-mongering and unlawful pressure.

I would actually go as far as to say that the Omicron could be good news. If more people are likely to contract it without severe consequences, we’ll have more people with natural, lasting immunity compared to the flimsy partial protection the Pfizer jabs give.

But, alas, I have despaired of trying to put “government” and “logic” in the same sentence.

Luckily, the unruly and undisciplined Israelis are saying NO to another and another booster, finally understanding that this is likely to become a never-ending rollercoaster. Now millions have lost their “green pass” for refusal to line up and roll up their sleeves for yet another jab.

Guys, I honestly don’t know what we can expect in 2022. Luckily for myself, I work from home and don’t think much of entertainment venues like restaurants and shopping malls our government is trying to open to vaccinated-only in a dictatorial and illogical attempt to make as many people as possible get the (third, fourth, and so on) jab, sweeping aside serious and not-so-rare side effects.

I wish everyone good health and the utmost fortitude in 2022. Looks like we’re going to need it.

Mini Cable crochet winter beanie

Latest creation

If you don’t know what to crochet, a beanie is always a good idea. Hats are practical, work up quickly, are very forgiving of mistakes, and allow much room for creativity.

This hat is very similar to my Winter Sun crochet beanie – worked from the brim up – but done in the mini cable stitch with spaces of one back post double crochet. I used some old anonymous yarn from eBay, similar to this one – single ply in DK weight and 3 mm crochet hook.

I loved making it and the little recipient enjoys wearing it!

The art of affordable living

I often think that the most helpful thing for staying financially afloat is not cutting a few dollars here and there – not clipping some coupons, or saving on electricity, or squeezing out the last bit of toothpaste – but what I call the art of affordable living; an attitude that helps countless people with moderate to low incomes live well and stay out of debt.

It’s genuinely preferring a nature walk to a shopping mall; homemade gifts to the latest order from Amazon; restored old furniture to an IKEA assembly; a quiet get-together on the beach with a few friends to a glitzy event. It’s the satisfaction of being able to step back and say, “I don’t really need that much.”

It has always amazed me, during our house moves, how well the family has coped with 90% of the clothes and utensils packed away for weeks. 10% of our belongings were quite enough to keep us dressed, fed, and entertained. There were moments, while I unpacked, when I wished I could just chuck some boxes away unopened (don’t worry, I never did that. I love my books, yarn, and fluffy pajamas too much).

At this time, I also feel that the habits of simplicity are serving me and my family amazingly well. Lockdowns, restrictions, green passes, and the rest of the paraphernalia the past two years have brought are a lot easier to take when your happiness doesn’t hinge on eating out, going to live shows, or staying in hotels.

I’ll just finish with a great quote from here:

“Living a simple life means there is no need to chase the extra buck. You don’t need the cash to buy the bigger living space to put all your stuff in that you would need more money to buy. Instead, you see that you can live on less and get rid of stuff to create more space.”

COVID and Food Security

After a rather lengthier silence than I had planned, I have a new post up on Mother Earth News. Like some of my previous posts, this one, too, explores food security in the pandemic era.

“Most authoritative sources agree: food prices are rising, and the trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon. Many of the reasons have to do with the pandemic in some way or other, including production and supply chain disruptions, increased shipping costs, and the dollar’s deprecation.”

Key insights from the post:

~ In years to come, we will likely pay for our convenience in outsourcing most of our food production

~ Prices are only going to climb higher and higher in the foreseeable future

~ The next months and years will try our resilience and ability to get by on less and less

I know that if someone had told me two years ago, “you’ll walk into a grocery store two years later and you’ll see such and such prices on fruit, vegetables, and basic staples”, I’d probably think it was a joke. Filling a supermarket cart is turning more and more expensive.

There is no better time than now to learn sustainability skills, stockpile, grow some of your own food, and explore still-affordable meal options. To make and mend clothes and furniture, swap goods, and develop strong community ties that make every crisis easier.

A little victory: new Regency novel release

What do you do when the world turns unrecognizable, work takes over your life, and the future seems uncertain? That’s right – you keep writing.

The Farmer’s Fancy, my new Regency era/Jane Austen-verse novel, is a step aside from intricate fantasy, dark dystopian fiction, and gritty historical tales. Quite simply, it is a sweet and comforting read for people who love to immerse themselves in Jane Austen’s world.

Harriet Smith rejects Robert Martin’s proposal because her grand friend, Emma Woodhouse, convinces her that a mere humble farmer is not good enough for her. Disappointed and mortified, Robert resolves to forget about Harriet forever. Little does he know that destiny will soon bring them together again.

Now available at a special release price of only $0.99 on Kindle.

Why I don’t regret staying home with my children

Some years ago, there used to be a young woman. She lived in an isolated outpost with two, then three, then four small children. All day long, she took care of her kids and the household. She cooked and homeschooled, herded and milked goats, made cheese, fed chickens and gathered eggs. She took care of all the dishes, laundry, diapers, and other humdrum chores.

In between, she took her children for walks, played with them, read to them, baked with them, and sometimes even did creative things like making soap and candles.

And boy, did she fail to appreciate herself and the magnitude of work she did for her family.

As you have probably gathered, I was that woman. At the end of an exhausting day, I would sit down, wipe my brow, and tick off on my fingers: “Well, that’s two loads of laundry done, soup cooked, cheese made, baths done, floor washed, and little ones in bed. Whew! I guess I’m not completely useless.”

When I look back, I just want to give that frazzled young mom a hug and tell her, “You’re far more than adequate. You perform a staggering amount of work. You deserve a lot more recognition for all you do, as well as a long bath without anyone pounding on the door.”

Despite the financial struggles, logistic difficulties, and overwhelming loneliness of those years, I wouldn’t trade them for anything. They were precious, and children only get to be little once.

There was something magical in living in the middle of nowhere and having my children run around hills with goats, sheep, and horses. And while I hope I will never have to struggle financially and emotionally so much, I will always cherish these strolls down memory lane.

If someone out there is reading this and is in a similar situation – small children, lots of work, not much money, not much external appreciation – please value and love yourself. You deserve it and more.

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