Tag Archives: appreciation

A Quiet Grateful Celebration Tonight

I’d intended to blog about the final five books from my TBR stash that I want to read next year, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

My heart is just so full right now, and I want to let it all spill out. My blog seems like the best place for the words to go.

For the first time in over fifteen years, I don’t have to work through the holidays.

This is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. As a freelancer, it can often feel like feast or famine, and during the feast times, you acquire the habit of saying “yes” to everything, because after you finish that last project, it may well be famine. Because most of my indexing clients are textbook publishers, traditionally the busy season for me has been from November to February, with the worst of it being in November and December. As a result,  I have had too many years where I was only able to take Christmas Day off work – and I felt thankful that I could.

But this entire year, it’s been different. Partly, it’s because I’m not doing as many indexing projects as I used to. Three years ago, one of my major clients decided to outsource all its editorial overseas, indexes included, and since then, while I still do some of their indexes via the overseas editorial firms (and when they do keep anything in-house, I often get the project), I’m now preparing only a fraction of the indexes for them that I used to. Each year that number has dwindled.

The publishing industry is in a state of flux, and outsourcing overseas is a very real possibility with my other clients too. So with this in mind, I’ve started to focus on freelance writing and social media management.  I started out this year with one client, thanks to my good friend Brette Sember, and then I added another client (thanks again to Brette). I think that’s helped in terms of a steadier workload.

And it’s funny the way life works. Instead of having to deal with a big empty hole in my work schedule because of the dwindling workload from this one major client who’s outsourced all its editorial, my other clients began filling the gap. In fact, two of them in particular have kept me steadily indexing throughout the year, so that this year and last, I never really felt that “famine” part of the freelance life. While I have a little less work, it’s spread out much more evenly through the year.

The best thing is, this is the first year I’ve been able to take so much time off for the holidays. I have one writing assignment due next week, but that’s it. Even better, my time off isn’t at the expense of my bank account, either (if it was, I wouldn’t be feeling so happy!).

 

Photo 2014-12-19, 2 56 19 PMI even had time to take pictures at the mall!

So I’m really really looking forward to the days leading up to Christmas. Today I took my youngest Christmas shopping, and we had such fun! He’s a great kid to take to the shops, because he really gets into it. In the past, I’d have to scramble to find an hour in my schedule to whisk him to a store to pick a present for his dad, but today we spent the entire afternoon wandering the mall, browsing and having a great time. This year, we had time for him to pick presents for his older brother and sister too, as well as for his dad.

Photo 2014-12-19, 4 14 16 PMHard to see, but shimmery beauty decorates one of the mall windows

And tonight, it’s just the two of us. Christmas music is playing, the tree is lit, and we have wrapping plans. I feel so rich, so abundant, so grateful.  I want to keep pinching myself to make sure this is real.

A steady workload and the ability to take time off, without any guilt or stress. More of the same throughout all of 2015, please!

A is for Appreciation

I was going to cheat a little, and call this post “A is for April”, then do a little intro to the April A-Z blogging challenge – but then it occurred to me, I’m already cheating a little, since this post was supposed to have been posted on April 1 and my calendar tells me we’re already at April 4.

So …

I’ve been on a little bit of an appreciation whirl the past few days. A friend of mine was telling me how she writes down her appreciation list, keeping at it until she feels the same buzz as she gets from meditation. I really like the sound of that, and have decided to merge a practice of appreciation with my morning pages. So naturally, when I was thinking of something to do for this first post, Appreciation seemed like a fine way to start the A-Z challenge.

I’m supposed to keep things short and sweet so that other participants can just quickly skim over my post and then give me a quick little shoutout in the comments, but I’m not particularly known for short posts, and anyway, this is the first one so I’m giving myself some leeway.

(I LOVE giving myself some leeway. I think I should do this all the time.)

So here goes. Today, I am deeply appreciative of:

Big plans. This seems to be the year of big plans in our household. It’s not just me, either. My husband’s got big plans brewing, for both his vegan cooking and his dojo. My daughter and older son have their own big plans. Even the seven-year-old has a big plan in the making (it involves creating a tycoon game on Roblox, apparently).

There are two ways to look at Big Plans. You can let yourself ride that fearful ride, the one that looks at all the potential outcomes and the potential risks, and zero in on all the risks.

Or you can let yourself look at your Big Plans, and ride the good feeling energy that Big Plans inevitably generate.

I’m riding those big waves right now, and appreciating every moment of planning and dreaming and doing.

Spring. I woke up again this morning to the sounds of birds chirping. Okay, it is a bit grey and gloomy and wet outside right now, but in my book, this is so much nicer than cold and snow and cold and snow and more cold and snow.

I’m looking forward to spring: fresh flowers and lovely greenery, sitting out on the back deck (before the mosquitoes hit us in the summer), cool, invigorating spring air.

(Not to mention, the energy of Big Plans dancing along to the rhythms of their own tunes …)

Meditation. I have a meditation practice! I think about that and want to dance. I’ve been flirting with meditation for many years now; it’s something that was always so elusive for me, even when I did manage to do it regularly.

But it’s here for me now, and it’s here to stay. I know this because I no longer think of it as a chore. I actually look forward to it, and can’t imagine starting my day without it. It’s been almost two months now, so I’ve already passed the “30 days to set a new habit” rule.

There’s more on my appreciation list, but I should really not let myself get too long-winded this month! So, anyone feel like joining me in this Appreciation Fest? :)

Making Magic: Appreciation

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(Photo credit)

I am immersed in deadline after deadline right now, and in days of yore (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase in a post!) I would have let myself be pulled into a static, drone-like existence, working long hours day after day, late into the night.

No fun, no creativity, no laughter. Just work, work, work.

But I’ve been surrounded by so many creative, fun things, and I realized I don’t have to slip into that drone-like state. I don’t lose my creativity just because I’ve got too many deadlines hanging around.

Yes, I can continue to make magic in my life, even when I’m busy. And that alone inspires me.

So you’ll all be seeing a series of Making Magic posts. Today is Appreciation day, where I look back on the past few weeks and love all that’s gone by – a lot of life happened to me in the space of a few days! – and most importantly, remember there’s more to come, in this moment, and this moment, and this moment.

Because that’s really what life is – it’s filled with moments, and I’m always free to choose to focus on all the happy, glittering, fun moments.

Even when I’m knee deep in an index (or three or five).

Appreciation List

Hayley met Tim Burton yesterday! Hayley’s a member of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Next Wave committee, and as a special treat, TIFF arranged for Burton to meet with the board members for an hour yesterday. Hayley said he was so very down-to-earth, and gave them this very lovely piece of advice: Do a bit of everything. Don’t just focus on being a director. Be lots of different things.

I really loved hearing this – it was such a good reminder that creativity isn’t confined to any one thing. And the more creative I am, the more I get my hands in there, in project after project, the more the creative sparks fly every which way and totally light up my life.

Dinner with Nigella Lawson. Yes, I took time off from work last weekend to have dinner with Nigella Lawson at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. I went with my sister, Dawn, and we had such a great time. Nigella was warm and gracious, and during the Q & A, Ward texted me questions, and Dawn asked one of them! (I was too busy texting and tweeting …)

Nigella Lawson

Yes, that’s a terrible picture. I only had my iPhone with me. But luckily my sister had her camera so she has some good pictures, which she says she’ll send to me. On the other hand, I was able to get some great close-up shots while Dawn was busy chatting with Louise Dennys, the publisher of Random House Canada; as an event planner, my sister definitely knows a lot of people (including the chef and the wait staff at the Royal York!).

The night ended with my sister taking me out to Pravda, a vodka bar. I’ll just say here that vodka is not as tasteless as I once thought it was. I’ll also say a sort of thank you to whoever kept putting drinks in front of me all night. Needless to say, I was, um, slightly hung over the next day …

But I had fun!

NaNoWriMo. Okay, so there’s a good chance I’m not going to make my real NaNoWriMo goal. And I’m okay with that, because I’ve had a lot of life happen the past ten days, and it’s been really a lot of fun. I also know that I can do this, I can complete this novel, and the next, and whatever else takes my fancy. And I’m very grateful to NaNoWriMo for helping me see this.

I’m going to “win” the regular NaNoWriMo this year. I’m almost at 42,000 words, and there’s still a full week left, so I have no doubts. Yes, I’m deep in Deadline City, and I’ve missed a few days of writing, but I’m going to keep plugging away at it. And I intend to have the first draft completed by the end of this year.

PiBoIdMo. I haven’t been keeping up with PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) the way I’d intended, but I’m still having fun with it. So far I’ve jotted down about 12 ideas, two of which are keepers.

And I’ve learned something very interesting: sitting down with the intention of brainstorming ideas is like exercising a muscle. It’s hard when you first start, but the more you do it, the more creative you get. And the whole process is just so much fun, you realize how much you miss when you don’t exercise that creative muscle.

Husband who cooks. Okay, so he’s pretty committed to being vegan, but my husband cooks the most delicious things, and does not hesitate to whip me up a meat or seafood dish anytime I request.

sushi rolls

Lately he’s mastered the art of sushi rolls, and since he enjoys making them as much as Hayley and I enjoy eating them, we’ve all been in seventh heaven food-wise. And yesterday he made a special set of sushi rolls with smoked salmon in them, which were so delicious.

He’s also been making these samosas that are really delicious. He fills them with a lovely Indian potato mixture and we have them with chutney or plum sauce. And we’ve discovered that our little picky eater will eat these as long as they’re made with a Mac n Cheese filling!

Christmas! I’m really delighted because we got a head start on Christmas this year: we put up the tree and all the decorations on Friday. In years past, we’ve had our “Christmas tree day” right in the middle of my deadlines, and it just isn’t so much fun when you’re doing it as a “break from work”. This time around, we spent the whole day shopping for a few new ornaments, getting the house ready, putting up the tree – we always make a little “tree party” of it, just for us, so we finished up with a viewing of Santa Clause 2, accompanied by sushi rolls and samosas.

iPhone Games. I’ve been letting my Inner Geek have some play time every day. So there’s no way I can write an appreciation list without mentioning all the iPhone games I’ve been having such fun with. They help make work go by faster, because I’ve developed a bit of a reward system: every 45 minutes or so (I usually time it according to the number of pages I’ve indexed), I let myself take an iPhone game break. So I end up feeling like I’m having fun, even though most of the time I’ve been working!

I know what you’re thinking. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, does it? And that is very true. Which is a very good thing indeed.

And now, back to work …

And now that I’ve reminded myself what a fun time I’ve been having, I’m motivated now to tackle this workload. All I have to do is take a deep breath, plunge back in – and remember to keep coming up for air and a little bit more of life.