A Freelancer’s Best Friend Returns to Form

There’s one member of our family who has been with me for an large number of iphone pictures 056freelance projects. He’s been there when I’ve created amazing work, when I’ve had writer’s block to the extreme, when I’ve been rolling in work, and when I’ve had uncomfortably long dry spells between work.

His name is Regal and he’s our family’s beloved first-born dog, an extraordinarily handsome, personable beagle that my wife brought into our marriage 10 years ago, and who will turn 13 in July.

The Beag (his more commonly-used name) is a 13-inch, tri-color, long-snouted beagle who never met a piece of meat or cheese he didn’t like, loves to have his floppy ears massaged, and, is the family’s loudest snorer, now that I finally started using a CPAP.

For many years, the Beag would sleep either underneath my writing desk and complain loudly if I bumped him with my feet, or just outside the office door so he is ready to assist, but also can keep an eye and an ear down the long hallway to see if anyone’s opening the backdoor or the refrigerator.

Sometime in 2014-2015, the Beag hurt his back and neck while playing with our other dog. He lost the ability to jump on the bed, he cried out if you touched him in sensitive spots or tried to pick him up, and he walked slowly everywhere. Eventually, he was given long-term pain meds that got him back to about 50% of his former rambunctious self, and we were relieved to at least have the pain managed.

Two weeks ago, he got an infection at the back of one of his paws and I took him in. The vet gave him a low-grade steroid as part of the treatment and mentioned it might help his pain some, and he could get a low-grade prescription if that was the case.

I didn’t much think of it at the time, but the past few days has been nothing short of a trip to the Fountain of Youth for him. We’ve seen him actually running again for the first time in five years. Yesterday, one of the Twin Miracles and I took him on a walk around the block and he was pulling on his harness enough that my daughter had to break into a trot a few times to keep up.

I can’t even begin to describe the effect his sudden improvement has had on us. I never thought I’d have a smile on my face getting up from my work desk 12 times a day to let a dog go outside to run, play, and bay.

 

Advertisements

Sometimes, you just have to turn the computer off

Summers can be tough on full-time freelancers because the peace and quiet you get used to during the day can vanish in a heartbeat and take a three-month vacation.

Such is the case for me with the Twin Miracles and my wife all out of school/work from late May to mid-August. My home office very quickly goes from Tranquility Base to the asteroid field that the Millenium Falcon flies through in The Empire Strikes Back.

That was the case Friday morning when my wife woke up barely able to talk with a miserable sore throat. That left the Twin Miracles under my direct supervision, and after taking about 2-1/2 hours to finish an article that would normally take me one, it was clear it was going to be one of those days.

So for once, I just embraced it. Friday day work would have to become Friday night work, and my gratefully put on my full-time fun dad hat. The Twin Miracles and I hit up McDonald’s for lunch, a local play place, and picked up a dessert pick-me-up for their mom on the way back home.

I took the laptop along for the ride, with dim hopes that the play place would offer wireless, but that was a no go as well, leading me to catch up on my mad skills in both Hearts and Solitaire while the girls played dress up, climbed towers, and emulated the best of the World Cup on a miniature pitch.

And now I’m working late on a Friday night, but truth be told, I work a lot of Friday nights.  Freelancing is all about flexibility, even if it’s flexing your family muscles not your professional skillset.

The Adventures of Freelancing Dad: 3-1/2 Days, 2 Daughters, 1 Stomach Flu, and About 25 Jobs

superheroIf you’ve ever read this blog or visited the About Us page, you probably know that Twin Miracles Editorial is so-named because of my lovely twin daughters, who are currently 3 years old. About a year after they were born, I decided to become a stay-at-home, full-time freelancing dad, to spend more time with them – time I was missing while working a corporate job and spending roughly 2-1/2 hours each on my commute.

For the most part, it’s been a wonderful, enlightening experience. But some things stand out as asking the question, “Why did I do this again?”

The last few days have been one such experience. Mrs. Twin Miracles Editorial is left out of town Wednesday afternoon for a professional conference and isn’t due back until Saturday afternoon, leaving your faithful Freelancing Dad largely in charge of said Miracles.

Here’s a look at some of the “highlights” of the past few days.

Wednesday

3:30 p.m. –  We drop Mrs. Twin Miracles Editorial off at her designated car pool rendezvous. About 90 seconds later, Twin A realizes she is not accompanying Mommy on said trip and starts crying.

5:00 p.m. – Twin A has been suffering from Poop on the Potty Fear and is holding one in. Freelancing Dad is moments away from a glycerine suppository when he goes to check on something in the office. He comes back to Twin A crying and a certain odor in the air. Well, at least I didn’t have to use the suppository.

Wednesday, 6:00 p.m. – Twin A confirms she did not take a nap at school by turning up her delirium to Warp Factor 8. This situation is not helped by the fact that we have a guy supposedly coming by the house at 6 p.m. to take care of a repair.

6:45 p.m. – The guy comes by at long last. Says it won’t take long. It does.

7:35 p.m. – The Twin Miracles are put to bed, despite the guy still being over.

9:00 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – Freelancing Dad works at what economists call a rate of diminishing returns.

Thursday

7:30 p.m. – As we go to bed, Twin B mentions her tummy hurts. No big deal, she says it a lot.

12:15 a.m. – Freelancing Dad goes to bed after 4 hours of work and watching the Houston Rockets honor their 1994-1995 championship teams.

1:45 a.m. – Freelancing Dad is awoken by Twin B’s sobs of horror. He rushes to her room to find her tummy more than hurt, her tummy rejected everything she had eaten. All over her, all over her Frozen sheet, blanket, and pillow.

1:50 a.m. – 3:15 a.m. – Twin B is washed off and redressed, but can’t hold down anything, including water. She vomits at least 4 more times. Twin A wakes up, sees everyone up, and is ecstatic that play time has returned. She won’t go back to bed for a million Hello Kitty stickers at this point. Freelancing Dad puts both girls on Mommy’s bed to try and get them to sleep while the sheets and pillows and blankets are washed. Freelancing Dad sings “The Rainbow Connection” and Twin B dozes off while Twin A rolls around and turns the bed into her own personal bounce house.

3:30 a.m. – The Twin Miracles are back to sleep.

3:30 a.m. – 4:15 a.m. – Freelancing Dad stays up fretting about Twin B.

4:15 a.m. – 6:30 a.m.- Freelancing Dad gets the second and third hours of this three-hours of sleep.

Friday

9:50 a.m.- Time of Twin B’s doctor’s appointment.

10:43 a.m. – Time we actually saw the doctor.

10:45 a.m. – Time we left the doctor’s office after being told it was a stomach flu.

11:10 a.m. – Freelancing Dad’s first coffee product of the day.

12:15 p.m. – Freelancing Dad’s second coffee product of the day.

3:27 p.m. – Freelancing Dad’s third coffee product of the day.

7:35 p.m. – Moments after being put to sleep, Twin A roars “I WANT DADDY!” again and again until I go to check on her. “What’s wrong, Twin A?” I ask. “I’m fine,” she tells me.

8:12 p.m.- Twin A continues to sing song herself to sleep as Freelancing Dad vents in his WordPress blog read by (if he’s lucky) 8 people.

8:30 – ?? – Freelancing Dad’s 4th, 5th, 6th and possibly 7th coffee products of the day

 

 

Attacking Dyslexia Where it Lives: At Home

Late last night I got an email from a client from Australia who I worked for last September on a few articles he was submitting for publication. His name is Michael Clark and he runs a company Down Under that strives to help kids with dyslexia and trouble reading attain success, and goes outside the cultural norm of Australia, which involves a lot of labeling of kids, instead of trying to help them.

Working for clients like Michael, who are motivated to help children through tough times, is one of the best parts of being a freelancer, and given some of the struggles the Twin Miracles – former NICU micro-preemies – have had themselves, it’s exciting to see people out there who aren’t trying to use the Internet platform to turn a fast buck, but instead of make the world a better place.

Regardless of what continent you live on, if you have or know a child with problems reading, take a peek at his blog for some great information that could go a long way to improving someone’s life.

A Note to NICU Parents: Believe

There likely never would have been a Twin Miracles Editorial without the fact that my wife and I are NICU parents – our twin daughters were born at 23 weeks, 5 days, and spent 4-1/2 and 5 months, respectively, in two different NICUs as their needs changed.

If you are a parent with a child currently in the NICU, I know how you may be feeling from time to time: scared, powerless, like you failed your children, and worst of all, detached from them, if they are in a position of fragility where you aren’t able to touch them much, or hold them at all.

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of having your child or children in the NICU for a long time. Nothing can still the ache of leaving them there when it’s time for you to go home and do things like eating, showering, or going to work, that suddenly seem very unimportant.

The very best advice I can give you is to do whatever you want to in regards to yourself and your child. If you want to sing them Christmas carols because it seems to keep their oxygen levels high, then belt out “Jingle Bells’ for as long as your voice will hold out.

If you want to ask the same question about how the incubator works day after day to every doctor and nurse you see, ask away, that’s your child in there.

Advocate for your child’s needs, learn as much as you can about the process, and most of all believe in the day when they will come home with you, because that day is coming, and the wonderful feeling it will fill you with will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

My Twin Miracles turned three years old on January 26, 2015. They are intelligent, beautiful, funny, and loving girls who know exactly how amazing their journey was  because we let them know each and every day.

Believe.

Check out Chaker Khazzal’s Article “The Syria I Miss” on HuffPo

chakerLast year, I had the privilege of editing a spiritual/historical fiction novel by young author Chaker Khazzal. He contacted me last week to discuss editing an article he’s doing for the Huffington Post about Syria.

I won’t lie, for your average American like me, Syria is about the equivalent of a swear word based on the US government’s accusations of the African nation as a safe haven for terrorists, along with the 2006 US Embassy bombing.

But Chaker knows Syria a lot better than most, and his piece is worth a read for a different perspective (I edited it, not that it needed much)!

The “Death” of Newspapers: 15 Years Later

About 15 years ago, every man and woman who worked for a newspaper started being told by management that the Internet was the Devil; that we would all lose our jobs because of its freedom of information distribution, and that a degree in Journalism would be worth less than the paper it was printed on within a generation.

I was working for a newspaper 15 years ago, and I heard the same fear-mongering from the leadership of our chain. Only in hindsight do I realize that they weren’t really worried about the journalists they employed, but rather their own pocketbooks.

A lot of us did in fact lose our jobs in the newspaper industry as the Internet evolved. Newspaper advertising sales dropped, classified sections became obsolete, and cash cows like car dealerships and grocery stores went online to hock their wares. But what we do – journalists, writers, editors, photographers, and designers – didn’t vanish into thin air, we just evolved right along with the Internet.

If running my own freelancing business has taught me one thing, it’s that the world needs great writers and communicators now more than ever. And that realization means that my degree in Journalism and pedigree for being able to pluck a subject out of thin air and write compelling copy about it; or take someone else’s creative work and sharpen prior to publication, is liberating, exciting, and quite frankly, one of the best revelations of my professional life.

As a newspaper guy, every year had its arc for me – back-to-school, sports, festivals, city council, school board meetings, the occasional crime wave, scandal, or election, feature photos, and try to stay awake during the summer time. It was an easy gig, but ultimately a boring gig, and one that seldom did anything to spark my passion or challenge me as a professional.

Compare that to the last 12 months, in which I have:

  • Worked with a Grammy winner
  • Reviewed a cyber-securities proposal sent to the Department of Defense and the US Air Force
  • Co-written a whitepaper on the evolution of corporate intranets
  • Served as news editor for a major education news website
  • Edited a ghost story that made quite literally jump in the build-up to the reveal
  • Dived head first into the twin worlds of SAP and BI, and ended up writing stories for a magazine whose headquarters is on the other side of the world from my office.

The Internet might have sent a whole bunch of newspapers to the morgue, but it had the opposite effect on those of us who worked for them. Death? No, the Internet gave us life.