Another “Wild” Friday Night

<a href="https://i0.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png"><img src='https://i0.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/g/6/7/Z/T/E/orange-dog-dancing-hi.png' alt='Orange Dog Dancing clip art'/></a>

Dancing dog. Image courtesy of clker.com

I set a work goal for myself this week that was higher than I’d set in a while because I knew I needed to start pushing myself to my full potential again.  As probably anyone who works from home and sets their own hours knows, it can be tricky sticking to a quota of work and a schedule. But when I really apply myself, I get everything done that I need to. There were a couple of days this week that were a bit challenging, but I persevered and accomplished my goal by quitting time Friday evening.

Working from home has certainly had its share of ups and downs, but it’s definitely in an upswing now and I’ve been happier working from home than I ever was working in an outside office. There’s incredible flexibility in working from home, but also a lot more unpredictability in terms of work flow and pay. I imagine it’s not for everyone, but it works for me and I love transcribing for Rev.com on a daily basis.

With my goal accomplished for the week, I felt it was time to celebrate with my usual “wild” Friday night of beading, writing, and playing World of Warcraft. I’ve never really been a social butterfly or had very many friends because I value quality over quantity. So truly wild Friday nights partying with friends out somewhere has only happened due to bachelorette parties or birthday parties. Now that all of the people I consider close friends live in other states, going out on the town really isn’t even possible. Not that I really think I’d be up for it anyway.

I’m a homebody, I think I always have been. And well, now that I’ve owned my own home and been living in it as a single woman for seven years now, my body loves my home even more. When it’s just me on a Friday night (which it almost always is because it’s not a night I usually have my girls) I prefer to do what makes me happy and truly revel in that happiness and freedom. I still remember what it was like during relationships where I felt trapped and controlled, where someone was telling me what to do and how to do it. Those feelings of being trapped, unhappy, and in emotional pain are something I will never forget. Nonetheless, I won’t let my past control me or ruin my current happiness and so I just keep moving forward.

One of the things I do when I’m really happy, exuberant, and in a very up mood celebrating my accomplishments and freedom, is dance along to upbeat music. I might dance in my chair at my desk while I’m writing or playing World of Warcraft, or I might just jump right up and dance in my living room. My three cats might give me strange looks for a moment, but they’re used to their “crazy” mommy and so they go back about their business. My pup Jazzmin though is another story.

I taught Jazzmin the “trick” of dancing with me when I’m dancing around and she’s always good for a couple spins on the dance floor. I just say, “Want to dance?” and she wags her tail and offers her paw. I then take both of her front paws in my hands, lift her up onto just her hind feet, and we do a little jive around the dance floor, otherwise known as the kitchen or living room. She’s always really happy to be dancing with her mama and I give her a treat afterwards. She’ll then return to whatever she was doing and I can go back to being happy, weird, dancing me.

My favorite place to find my kind of music nowadays is a place called EpidemicSound.com. According to their website, they provide: “Unlimited music for your YouTube channel. Monetise with no risk of copyright strikes.” I pay a monthly subscription fee to listen to and download as many tracks as I want and their selection of original music is amazing! I’ve yet to use any of their music for a YouTube video, but I hope to eventually. In the meantime, I’ve been downloading songs into playlists of new music on a biweekly or monthly basis, depending on when I feel the need for fresh tracks.

Last night I checked their “Latest Tracks” tab and the very first song I clicked on boosted my already happy mood through the roof. It was a song called “We Should Start Right Now” by Loving Caliber featuring Emmi and it had the exact beat, tempo, lyrics, musicality, you name it that I love in a song. Plus, once I’d listened to it a few times, I found the lyrics very inspirational. Here’s a sample:

“Every change has a reason
Baby, let it come to you.
Every soul, every season,
Lives outside a status quo.

If you start believing
We’re meant to be
Expanding our abilities.
If the passion’s gone
We are doing it wrong.

Baby, you and I
Baby, you and I
Should start living now.”

I lost track of how many times I listened to that song because it just lifted me up so much higher than I already was. I had my house windows open and I was blasting it through my computer speakers for all the neighbors to hear. I wanted to shout to everyone I knew that life is too short to waste being unhappy. That we all need to start living now and not keep waiting for things to get better tomorrow. I’ve learned the hard way that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and that regret is a horrible thing to live with.

Never give up on your dreams, never resign yourself to a situation you’re miserable in just because you’re trying to keep everyone else happy. I lived like that for many years and I forgot who I really was and it’s taken me years to find who I am again. Embrace your light, your power, and your strength. Seize today and every today given to you and pursue your dreams, even if only in small steps. Small steps are better than no steps and well, dance steps are even better.

 

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A Day That Snuck Up

My father and I in the Adirondack Mountains. My favorite picture of us.

With the prolonged winter weather, plumbing issues, and car trouble I’ve experienced this year, I’ve often lost track of days as I work through it all. The late arrival of spring has me thinking it’s still April some days and therefore I was surprised to realize that one day in particular snuck up on me unawares: today, my father’s birthday.

As my mother said incredulously yesterday, my father would’ve turned 77 this year. That’s mind boggling to me because in my mind, my parents don’t really age. My father left this world when he was 68. His health had deteriorated in the last years of his life. But fortunately with the passage of time, I usually remember him as the healthy, fit man he was in his 50s. That really is a blessing and something I’m certain makes his spirit happy.

In past years I’ve felt sorrow in the days leading up to his birthday and on his birthday, but not this year. Admittedly, I’ve been stressed about getting my car’s transmission fixed, dealing with yard work, and so on, but even without those things, I don’t think I would’ve felt sad.

I miss my father every single day and I wish he was still here to help me with so many things, but overall I feel like I’m in a good place in my life. I’m content and happy and don’t feel as lost as I used to. I believe I owe that in large part to everything I inherited from my father. He taught me to always see the bright side of life, to look at things from different angles, and to appreciate all the blessings I have.

Life isn’t always easy, but it’s always a gift. So while I no longer have my father here to give gifts to on his birthday, he continues to give me the greatest gifts of love, strength, faith, gratitude, acceptance, and determination.

October Already?!

October sky

Evening sky during our walk yesterday.

My oldest daughter went through the house last night flipping all the calendars to October because I hadn’t yet. I’m still trying to adjust to the fact that October is here already. September went by very fast and while it started out fall-like, there was a lot of summer heat in the middle and end of the month that made everything seasonally confusing. The poor trees that had started to change colors during the first bout of cool weather didn’t know what to do once summer heat returned. A lot of them just seemed to give up and start dropping leaves without much color change and I fear it won’t be a very colorful autumn this year. Nonetheless, leaves are still changing and falling and autumn is tied for spring with my favorite season.

As I wrote in last year’s blog post at the start of October, I’m finally able to welcome October again. Losing my father in October of 2009 made it difficult for me to truly embrace what had until that point been my favorite month and season. On the 21st of this month it will have been eight years since his passing and that doesn’t even seem possible to me. While I still miss him every single day and there will always be a void inside me without him here, I’ve healed enough to understand that his spirit wants me to be happy. I’m sure there will be the usual random bouts of crying and sadness throughout the month, but I know it won’t be as overwhelming as it’s been in the past. Life is about moving forward and not allowing yourself to be stuck in a moment that can’t be changed.

I don’t know what this October will bring, but I’m looking forward to it. I never really know what each day will bring. I have a plan for the day and most of the time it follows a predictable routine. But honestly, every single day is full of amazing new experiences and gifts and I make sure I take the time to notice them and feel grateful for them. I’m sure October will be full of new adventures and of course my favorite holiday of Halloween. Maybe I’ll make it to a Halloween party of some type this year, one never knows! Whatever comes this October and beyond, I know that I’ll get through it just like I always do, with strength, determination, optimism, and hope.

Clever, Crafty, and Creative Wonder!

crafty girl

Jordan painting wooden centers for my earrings.

My oldest daughter turns 15 today. Just typing that out I’m in disbelief! It seems like I just gave birth to her moments ago, but obviously that’s not the case. She’s been a blessing since the day she was born and she continues to develop into an amazing young woman.

Along with my brown hair and eyes, Jordan has inherited by artistic nature. Although in her, it’s magnified far more than the talents I possess. She’s a great painter, drawer, writer, sculptor, and musician and she’s far smarter than I was at her age, or even than I am now. She’s always on the highest honor roll in school and she uses her clever and intelligent mind in constantly evolving ways.

She loves to paint in both small and large forms and her freehand abilities with a brush astound me. She’s painted a map of her fantasy world on her bedroom walls and she’s paint quotes from favorite movies and shows that further express what makes her tick. I’ve been asking her for over a year to draw or paint some centers for my earrings and over the last couple months she’s painted several wooden centers that I’m looking forward to beading around. Her steady hand and uniquely creative mind helps her design and implement artistry that is both intricate and fun.

Jordan has also inherited my sarcasm, wit, curiosity, and sense of humor. Although really, I can’t take full credit for that that because she has her own personality and individuality. I’m happy to say that Jordan and I get along very well, which isn’t always the case with parents and children with similar personalities. I’m also very happy that she’s not like “typical” teenage girls in that she’s not interested in any of the high school drama, has no interest in boys (unlike me at her age), and is more intent on enjoying her life than getting caught up in teenage stuff. She’s mature beyond her years and I count myself extremely lucky that she’s my daughter.

Jordan makes me laugh, she makes me think, and she makes me proud to call her my daughter. She’s a wonderful older sister to Jaycie and both encourages her and keeps her on her toes. Being Jordan’s mother inspires me to be the best version of myself because that’s what she does every single day. I love my clever, crafty, and creative wonder!

Revving It Up!

blue keyboard

This past spring one of my closest friends sent me a link to an article sharing various work from home opportunities involving transcribing. One of the company’s listed was Rev. As I’ve been typing fast ever since I took keyboarding class in middle school, transcribing seemed like an interesting new avenue to explore. A highly appealing part of Rev was that they pay every Monday and for a self-employed person, that was music to my ears!

I’ve been a full-time freelance content writer since I quit my secretarial job in July 0f 2013 and while I’ve loved being able to work from home and have more time with my girls, being self-employed has its challenges. I’ve enjoyed success on several content marketplace sites but quite often I’d find myself “chasing the money” as I hoped a client would accept my work or waited for someone to buy my articles listed for sale. Reading that Rev paid for all accepted work and paid weekly was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I went through the online application process for Rev, which involved an online grammar test followed by a test with a sample transcription file. Although I’ve been a writer for almost 30 years and am currently majoring in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, I was still ridiculously nervous taking the grammar test. I was afraid all the rules I’ve learned over the years would fly out of my brain. Fortunately, I did fine with the grammar test and then it was on to the transcription test.

When I started the test, I was immediately impressed with the user-friendly transcription editor Rev has created. There are numerous options that make transcribing files easier and they have an online style guide that helps transcribers understand the correct formatting for Rev. I don’t remember how long it took me to do that test transcription job but I remember my hands shaking as I did it because I really wanted to pass and see what Rev was all about.

Much to my delight, Rev accepted my application and I promptly started taking a few transcription jobs during the week. I was still mostly working as a freelance content writer and was also doing all my usual jobs of being a mom, homeowner, and college student. In hindsight, I should’ve started typing more frequently for Rev much earlier because the more I transcribe, the better I become and the more money I can earn.

A few months ago, I threw myself into Rev as my full-time job because I had fallen in love with the work. I’ve transcribed so many different types of audio files and learned a lot in the process. The jobs are brief glimpses into other areas of the world and industries I previously knew nothing about. Quite often I end my day feeling like I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people until I remember that I’m just the unseen transcriber listening in. Even so, it’s helped me feel like I’m more part of the world, which is a great thing for me since I work from home and live in a rather rural area.

I started as a Rookie as all newbies to Rev do and quickly moved up to the next level of Revver and in early June, had transcribed enough minutes to become their highest level of Revver+. The amount of jobs available daily is astounding and even on light job days, I always manage to find something I can do. I’m happy to report that I’ve received the highest grade of five on almost every job I’ve submitted (one 4.5 out of 5 in 30 graded jobs isn’t bad in my opinion!) and I often get five-star reviews from customers. I do my best on every job, submit every job on time and love that they provide feedback and review opportunities.

As a writer, I view these transcription jobs as little stories that people are telling. That may sound odd when referring to conference calls, video interviews, focus group meetings, and so on, but to me they’re all people with a story to tell and information to share. My experience as a writer of fiction and nonfiction helps me format the jobs in a way that makes sense even during times when the speaker might not pause for breath through a long discussion. My job is to help them make their information shareable and searchable and I do my best to always submit quality work.

An interesting thing I’ve discovered while working for Rev is that I’m good at understanding certain accents. I credit that ability to my love of watching TV shows and movies with various accents throughout my life. While I might struggle a bit at the beginning of a job with an accent, as I continue to listen and type, it starts making sense and I barely notice the accent anymore. By the time I’m done typing the job and do my final listen through, I can usually fill in any parts I marked as inaudible during the first lesson. Learning how people speak in other areas of the world and understanding the context of the conversation helps everything make sense during the final listen through.

I can proudly say that my upcoming family vacation with my girls has been made possible in large part by my job as a Rev transcriber. I’ve been working diligently since late June to save up for this trip and I’m so proud of myself. On days that I have my girls I’ve been doing two to three jobs and on days I don’t have them I do three to five and have been working from sunrise to sunset. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day and I really love being paid reliably every Monday from Rev.

Another great part of Rev is that they keep improving their transcription editor to make it more versatile and user-friendly for Revvers. I love the ability to create my own shortcuts for commonly used words because that improves my speed and prevents my fingers tripping over words and slowing me down. I have my own transcription language now thanks to Rev and I find myself wishing their editor worked in everything I typed so I could get my messages across faster.

Rev really is an innovative and intuitive company that listens to their transcribers and their customers and I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to work for them. Working for them has greatly improved the life of this self-employed mom and self-sufficient woman and I’m sure numerous Revvers feel as I do. So keep up the good work Rev as I hope to be Revving it up for years to come!

Swing Set Loving Sweetie!

swing set

Jaycie on the swing set at my house.

My youngest daughter Jaycie turns 11 today! Her favorite part about birthdays? The presents, of course! My favorite part about her birthday is that it marks the day when she came hiccupping and kicking out into the world and showed everyone her truly unique spirit. I can’t imagine my life without her and her older sister and I know I am so very blessed to have my girls!

I’m picking Jaycie and her sister up later this morning and will have them both for half of the day before they go back to their father to celebrate with that side of the family. Jaycie wanted a Scooby-Doo theme for her decorations so I was up early this morning hanging decorations and streamers to celebrate her special day. I’m sure she’ll like them, but I know all she’ll really be thinking about today is opening presents!

Jaycie’s favorite past time for a majority of her life has been swinging on a swing set. I still remember the first time she figured out how to do it by herself and it seems like she hasn’t stopped swinging since! She’s had physical and mental developmental delays her entire life and while that means she’s not like other “normal” kids her age, she’s never let it bother her. In fact, very little seems to bother Jaycie except maybe when her older sister tries to intentionally bug her.

Jaycie getting tickled by her older sister.

When Jaycie is outside swinging, she is the happiest kid in the world! She grins the entire time and periodically pauses to talk to our outside cat Owl or just chat about little made up adventures in her mind. She can literally spend an hour swinging and that just amazes me. She doesn’t get bored, she doesn’t get tired, and most times when she comes inside it’s because it got too hot out or she’s hungry. I think she finds great freedom in swinging because it’s an activity that involves motion but that isn’t slowed down by her lack of physical strength.

As with every birthday my girls have, I can’t believe how much they’ve grown! I can’t believe Jaycie is 11 and going into sixth grade to start middle school this fall. As she’s already taller than me (I’m 5’5”) I imagine she’ll fit right in with the other middle school kids and no longer be one of the tallest kids in the hallway. Although it feels a bit odd to me that my youngest daughter is taller than me, I’m constantly encouraging her to stand up straight and love her height. There’s so much to see in the world and she’s lucky that she can see it from such a high vantage point!

How and Why I “Spoil” My Daughters

triumphant trio hands

From the day they were born, my girls have been my first priority. They are the best gifts I’ve ever received and my life would be incomplete without them. They continue to amaze me every day with their unique personalities and diverse talents and I know they both have bright futures ahead of them.

As I only have my daughters half of the week, I do my best to make the most of every moment with them. This involves “spoiling” them, but perhaps not in the way you think. I don’t shower them with gifts and let them get away with “murder” but I make sure they’re happy. I make their beds in the morning, I fold their clothes, I make their meals and I keep my home relatively tidy and clean. Do I assign them chores? No, I do not. Do I think this is stunting their growth or preventing them from developing into independent women? Not for a second. They’re kids and I want them to enjoy being kids for as long as possible.

I realize that there will come a day when my girls no longer live in my home and they’re out on their own making their own lives. I won’t have to make their beds or meals anymore or fold their clothing. I know I’ll miss it. While I want them to have their own fulfilling lives, I’m not looking forward to having a home devoid of my daughters. Therefore, I want us all to be happy during the years we’re living together.

In my almost 40 years of existence, I’ve discovered that the only way to learn how to exist on one’s own is to actually live on one’s own. As I went from living with my parents to living with my future husband/now ex-husband, I didn’t know what it meant to live alone until I was 34 years old when my separation agreement was filed and I moved into my own place. I lived in a townhouse-style apartment for a few months before moving into the home I have now. Experiencing days and nights without my girls was heartbreaking for several months. I was lonely and felt abandoned and lost.

I don’t want that for my girls. I don’t want them thinking that there’s something wrong with being on their own. Thus, I spoil them by showing them that a woman can take care of herself, be independent, maintain a home and achieve all sorts of amazing things without a partner in her life. I’ve learned a lot in my almost six years as a homeowner and my girls have seen me tackle all sorts of jobs on my own including fixing the furnace, staining the deck, mowing the lawn, sawing tree limbs and building a fire pit. When something needs doing, it’s up to me to do it and the more I succeed, the more they see what’s possible for their future.

Another way I spoil my daughters is by trying to be a good role model and setting the best example I can. I try very hard not to complain about feeling fat even if I’m feeling fat because I want them to always have a positive self-image. I want them to see that I love myself and my body (curves and all) and that I exercise and eat good food for health reasons and not because I want to look like some impossible standard set for woman by pictures in magazines and movie actors.

When the time comes for my girls to strike out on their own, I know that I’ll have done all I can to prepare them to tackle real world challenges. I’m not perfect by any means and I make mistakes, but I learn from those mistakes and I keep improving. I want my girls to know that no matter how “grown up” they get, they can always count on me to “spoil” them with advice, a listening ear or an extra hand for home maintenance tasks. We are and will always be a triumphant trio of powerful women.