Archive for the ‘Work/Life Balance’ Category

Oh, you too? No kidding

All week I’ve been asking myself, why haven’t I said #metoo? Why has seeing so many tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram captions full of stories of others’ pain made me feel sick instead of loud?

Why am I so fucking quiet?

It took a dose of Roxane Gay to help me figure it out. As she puts it in her searing op-ed for the Times, I am also too tired. I’ve done this jig many times in my personal life. I’ve written about it here. And I don’t want to keep having this conversation. I cannot keep telling everyone my stories. I don’t owe it to anyone.

I don’t want (to borrow another’s phrase) to keep performing my pain for others.

Let me tell you how tired.

A week ago, someone grabbed me at a concert. He avoided eye contact as he pushed past me, then clamped his hand on my ass as he walked away. Startled, I told my husband, “Don’t freak out. Please! I don’t want to miss the show.”

Yeah, I said that.

It wasn’t until the next day, while chatting with a colleague, that I reflected on how truly bizarre my reaction was. Especially coming from me, often first in line to speak up. But those are the tiny decisions so many of us make every day: Must I exit a public space every time a man finds a reason to make me uncomfortable? Must I question my choices in clothes, behavior, opinion? Must I wonder if maybe he meant to just pat some other body part? (Is that OK?!) Must I ask myself if the psycho who followed me to the gym the other day and then banged on the window when I ran inside was “just” crazy and not really after me specifically? Must I say things to myself like, “There are so many beautiful 20-somethings here, it can’t be that, it can’t be me”? Must I wonder: Maybe it was a compliment?

No. Thank. You. I already cross the street when I see or sense a man coming toward me, look over my shoulder, use store mirrors to track weirdos, wear headphones with no music while walking alone, carry my keys splayed out while walking through parking lots alone…you get the picture. I went to therapy. I did “homework.” I told everyone, over and over, about my life. My private life. Fuck if I am leaving concerts now too. And fuck if I am defending why I didn’t.

I don’t want to have to tell my stories over and over just to prove to people that rape jokes aren’t funny or that women’s experiences are fundamentally unequal or that pain and fear are features of our lives no matter how much we are paid or how far we advance or how awesome our husbands are or how great our male colleagues are. (On both counts, I’m lucky. I mean that word in its literal sense.)

And that, I suppose, is what got to me about #metoo. Why is the onus on us to keep talking? Why must I share my painful stories in public? What is the expected result of all this discussion?

To all people who’ve been harmed in this way and in so many other unbearable ways: No, it is not your job to remind everyone that you too are human. It is not just on you. (And frankly, this extends to just about every social ill. You don’t need to prove you’re victimized “enough” to merit a response.)

I’m not suggesting there’s no power in talking, or in awareness; there is big, bad power in bearing witness. We need it. But at some point, we also need to say hey — I’m tired of this shit. Aren’t you?

Back to Roxane. She put into words what I could not.

“…And then there are the men who act so overwhelmed, who ask, ‘What can I possibly do?’

The answer is simple.

Men can start putting in some of the work women have long done in offering testimony. They can come forward and say ‘me too’ while sharing how they have hurt women in ways great and small…It would equally be a balm if men spoke up about the times when they witnessed violence or harassment and looked the other way or laughed it off or secretly thought a woman was asking for it. It’s time for men to start answering for themselves because women cannot possibly solve this problem they had no hand in creating.”

Burned out? Bitter? Take a nap. Then read this.

I just had two people–a friend, and a client–ask me about burnout.

That is, they wanted to know how I avoid it, writing and editing while also running a creative business. While also being a domestic goddess who cooks dinner every night. While also launching a second company.

While also teaching myself accounting and tax basics. And attending to my clients’ needs no matter what.

While also taking an online course. While also cleaning cat hair from everything.

While also, somehow, SOME WAY, reading, writing, socializing, and propagating my succulents. (Just in time for a mealy bug infestation I was able to nip in the bud–look, novice gardening joke!!)

The first thing that struck me about this: What leads people to think I am not a burned-out shell of a woman? And secondly, what am I doing right? (Or am I?)

The secret, of course, is that there is no secret–except that you need to either have or cultivate THREE skills. Just three, but if you’re anything like me (maniacal), they will be very, very hard to adopt and execute.

But it’s worth it. If I can do it, you can do it.

Read On…

Say Yes? A Smart Writer’s Guide to Evaluating New Assignments

Photo by renaissancechambara

At the early stages in your writing career, you’re going to spend a lot of time figuring out how and where to spend your energy.

Money is going to loom large on your mind, as is time.

And if you’re knowingly choosing to write without the stability of a W-2 job, you’re going to quickly become the lead decision-maker in your professional life–something that, quite frankly, most people aren’t used to, and not everyone is cut out for (at least, not at first).

A misconception about “corporate” work is that we’re enslaved to a bad system. Quite the contrary: although change can be slow and the bureaucracy often runs deep, generally, you walk into a business that has processes in place, duties outlined, and intangibles like etiquette and dress already decided for you. Agree or disagree, all you really need to do is show up and pay attention.

When you go into business for yourself (incorporated or not), not only will you be flailing around chasing money and stability and benefits–you’ll also have to invent your own processes, rules, and business hours. Yikes.

Essentially, you become the CEO of your own company–as well as its top-ranking employee-producer. You wear 60 hats instead of six. Hey. You still with me here? Read On…

How to Be Amazing at Everything

This is Ozzy. He's amazing.

It’s not as hard as you might think to be amazing. Once you get the normal stuff under control–showing up on time, not being a jerk, remembering people’s names–the amazing part is just gravy.

Of course, the “normal stuff” is hard. For writers and everybody else, too. I’ve worked with a lot of writers–either as their editor, or colleague, or minion–and I can tick off maybe 3-5 who are “amazing.”

Amazing people are not mistake-free Type A-ers. On the contrary, they make mistakes, but you don’t care, because they are masters of delivery. They come through early, and then they do something extra. Not too much (that’s for the Type A-ers). Just enough. Just enough to make you wiggle in your desk chair.

You see, I thought this would be a writing post, but it’s not: it’s a How to Be Amazing at Everything post.

  1. Supply incredible headlines. Some 90 percent of the business or coaching blogs on the web that do well, do well by purporting to solve your problems. I have just done this by promising you that this post will teach you “How to Be Amazing at Everything.” You and I both know I probably can’t do that, but you’re intrigued and your expectations are high. Read On…

About My Other Marriage

How to deal with cold feet when starting a freelance career.

Credit: _JuanaBanana on Flickr

This Monday was my second wedding anniversary. To celebrate, my husband and I went to a hotel, had a wonderful dinner out and, in the end, sat in a bar and talked each others’ ears off. Honestly, it was one of the best nights we’ve had in the 10 months since we moved back to the U.S.

I was surprised how much we had to say, or how happy we were just to wake up and be lazy together in a big, plush hotel bed. You’d think after five years together (and many nights in bars together) that you’d eventually run out of steam.

I mention this for a reason, which is that trying to find my footing in my own business and career feels a lot like being in a second marriage. You have good days, bad days, a lot of in-between days; you sometimes question what you’re doing. You imagine life in two segments: before, after. You fly into occasional fits of rage.

But mostly, the original sacrifice — the commitment — serves as a kind of buoy. It keeps you oriented, reminds you who you are.

Read On…