Category: Family time

Dreams can come true

Barack Obama

“I’m Barack Obama. I’m the President!” said my three-year-old daughter yesterday. Isn’t it wonderful that we can finally say that one day she actually could be president?

I was born in the early 70′s, and didn’t experience as much of the blatant racism my parents and others have, but I’ve seen my share.

My mother remembers traveling down south from Michigan when she was a teen, and having to eat unrefrigerated food because restaurants didn’t serve Blacks.

My grandmother, who looked white, was able to eat in a restaurant once, while her husband had to wait outside. I’m guessing he felt it more important that his wife be able to eat even if he couldn’t.

My mother also remembers not knowing the rules in the south, and having strangers (Black) pull her off the sidewalk when a white person approached. She and her sisters also had to use disgustingly dirty restrooms because, of course, they couldn’t use the white restrooms on their trip down south.

And for me, I remember being spit on by a white man when my parents pulled up next to his truck at a stoplight. That was in the 80s, in Michigan, when I was just a kid.

Just 2 years ago a stranger, a white man, asked me if my daughter’s father was Black too. When I told him Yes, he was so happy! He said something like, “Good! Too many people try to mix the races.” A complete stranger!

I say all this to say that I’m still in awe that this country will have a Black president in a very short time. It’s finally sinking in that this is real. That people were tortured and killed for this to happen. And amazed and humbled that my daughter will grow up in this (hopefully) new age.

I know that racism isn’t gone. Far from it. I live in a pretty racist town, which is part of the reason I believe I haven’t been able to find a decent job (along with this being a bad economy…it’s not all about race, I know). We still have work to do, and hopefully people won’t think this wipes the slate clean.

But for now I’m just so humbled and almost speechless at what his election has accomplished. I just wish Dr. King and others were here to witness this miracle. What a great time to be an American!

From the mountain top (shouting it)

Achieve 1

A couple of days ago I announced that I was setting a course for my freelance copywriting business’ success.

Rather than reveal my plan all at once (besides, it’s still a work in progress), I figured I’d just start with each baby step that I’m taking.

One thing I figured out is that it’s not feasible for me to jump in, head first, with all the other daily responsibilities I have. That’s a pretty important point for everyone. A plan, to be achievable, has to be realistic for your particular situation. It can’t be too pitiful, like paying just the minimum due on your credit card with the goal of paying it off anytime soon.

But goals also can’t be too farfetched, or you’ll never even try to reach them. Like, say, planning to make a million dollars on the first day.

Here’s my goal: Initially I will make at least $2000 per month from my writing activities, not counting expenses and such. My timeline for this is within 3 months from today.

There! I said it out loud. Whew! That was hard!

How do I plan to make this income? I am primarily a business copywriter, focusing on tasks like press releases, web/blog copy, ads, annual reports, sales letters, newsletters, and brochures. I also do proofreading and editing.

I know I mentioned magazine writing in a previous post, but after some research I realized magazine writing isn’t best the way (for me) to achieve my goal.

Now that I’ve revealed my goal, let me tell you my first couple of steps.

In order to write for companies, I have to contact them, right? And in order to contact them, I need to have their phone numbers and/or email addresses. So my starting point is to compile a list of prospective companies. I’m using a free database that lists pertinent information, oftentimes including key players in the company. It’s a bit time-consuming, but I’d like a hefty list so I have no excuses.

My next step is to start making cold calls to my prospects. Basically, I ask for the person or department that probably hires freelancers, and then I ask that person if they do, indeed, ever outsource. Sometimes I get to the key person, and sometimes I have to settle for voicemail. Invariably, I get an email address and send them my intro letter and a link to my online portfolio. A lot of my procedure was gleaned from Peter Bowerman’s book, The Well-Fed Writer. I highly recommend it.

When I can’t make cold calls (like when it’s too late at night, for instance), I’ll still make good use of my time by cold emailing prospects. I may still call them at some point, but with working during the day I won’t always be able to make cold calls.

Because my days aren’t structured yet, it’s hard for me to give myself a set number of calls/emails to make each day. I’ll have to play this by ear, but I will commit to spending 2 hours each day making contacts. I might be able to set different goals for the different types of days I have (days where I work vs. days that I don’t), but I’ll get back to you on that. If 2 hours is too easy, I’ll increase it, of course.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be making a lot of calls this month. So far my list is over 2000 companies long, which will definitely keep me busy.

Now…how am I going to organize all of the information I get? Outlook’s contact management program? Excel? Index cards? Stay tuned, and feel free to offer your prospecting hints.

The speed of life

Working toward being a self-sustaining business owner is definitely not for the faint of heart. My journey recently included starting to substitute teach again. The goal? To make some steady money while not forgetting I really want to solely be an entrepreneur.

So far, it’s been pretty rocky. My last part-time gig was as a call center representative, and my poor throat has never been the same. Working with a classroom full of kids has made my throat injuries flare up again, so this gig may be short-lived. High school kids are easier (I just shut up and let them work), but the jobs aren’t steady yet (still early in the Arizona school year, though).

Though my 3-year-old likes her preschool, we miss being together, so we taken a few field trips during the week anyway.

It’s tough. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up, so remember that it’s the journey that counts…not the destination. Life is a highway.

Three is the charm

Running a business is hard work, as we all know.

Coupled with single parenting and attempting to work solely from home, I’ve had to make some tough choices. Now that my daughter’s three years old, we’re giving daycare/preschool a second chance, and it seems to be working. She likes the teachers, she asks to go to school, she hasn’t gotten a cold yet (knock on wood…but she’s been there 7 days), and now I have my time freed up a bit.

The great thing about her new school is they don’t run it like a typical daycare or preschool. The kids have a general structure, but then they’re allowed to decide what they want to do. The teaching style is Reggio Emilia, and is similar to Montessori schools. I think that’s one reason she likes it. Also, her main teacher “got” her immediately.

The next tough choice was whether to pour myself into my businesses, or work on a part-time job. For now, I’m going to work as a substitute teacher to take off some financial pressure. In my free time, or days when I can’t find an assignment, I’ll be blogging, freelancing, and/or working my direct sales business.

My goal? Besides raising a happy and healthy girl, I still plan to be an entrepreneur only. I’m just taking a detour for now.

Have you taken a part-time job while still pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams? Share with us!

Computer generation

We sing a variation of the alphabet song with my daughter. I can’t describe the tune, but it goes, “A A A A A A A A, A A A. B B B B B B B B, B B B. You get the rest. For each letter there’s a series of 8 fast repeats, then 3 long ones.

The other day, when we got to the W’s, my 3-year-old chimed in, “W W W Dot.”

I just had to share that hilarious story. I asked her where she got that from, expecting her to say television or mommy, but she said, “From the computer.” Go figure.

Blogging faux pas

If you’ve been around the blogging block, you’ve probably seen those lists of things blogger should never do. For instance:

1. Don’t fail to respond to your comments

2. Don’t fail to write regularly

3. Don’t stray off topic

4. Never apologize for, or explain, an absence.

Well I’m not one for following rules if they don’t fit my situation (unless they’re rules or laws handed down by the powers-that-be).

I do respond to many comments, but I don’t have time to answer every single one (thanks for being a talkative bunch!) But I definitely appreciate them all, and I look forward to them a lot. So keep commenting so I know you’re out there, and feel free to talk amongst yourselves sometimes. Conversations are a good thing.

Writing regularly is also something I aim for, but life gets in the way a lot. Luckily I have some faithful commenters who give me a kick in the rear if  I take too long between posts. :)

Staying on-topic is important, but it helps when you actually have just one topic. Crayon Writer is loosely about my journey as a freelance writer and single mother working from home, so there are a lot of topics I can safely cover (parenting, mothering, children, writing, working from home, blogging, and a whole lot more).

Finally, the one rule I think I haven’t “broken” is not apologizing for or explaining a long absence. Or at least I try to weave it into another blog post, like this one. I’ve been gone for a long time getting over my first (and hopefully last) bout of the stomach flu, and it really knocked me down for the count. Coupled with moving, I’ve gotten really behind with everything.

So, thanks for your patience, thanks for still reading, and enjoy my apologetic flurry of posts-to-come.

Do you follow all the blogging rules? Why or why not?

Moving Day!

Well, today was moving day.

It’s funny how easy it looks like it’ll be…until you start moving. It’s really a traumatic experience.

My daughter is a little unnerved too. I took her to the new apartment beforehand, she watched me pack (and helped a little), she saw the movers start taking boxes, she saw the old apartment with no furniture, and now she’s seen the new place with our stuff. But she’s a little sad, and wants to go see her grandparents for more familiarity (I suppose).

We’re in for a rough night I think.

To top it all off, I won’t have regular Internet access for several days, so I feel off kilter too.

Now it’s time to unpack it all. Ugh! I’m not looking forward to it.

Have you ever moved with small children? Was it hard on them?

Moving mayhem

Well, it’s time for me and my daughter to move to a bigger apartment. The next couple of weeks should be–interesting.

The good news is we’re moving from a tiny one-bedroom to a roomy two-bedroom with a cute backyard (with our own cacti). My daughter doesn’t know she’s really a Georgia peach. She just adores cactus. I’ll be happy because a natural backyard will have lots of bird life. There’s a honeysuckle plant (which will attract hummingbirds), and a neighbor has a feeder with quail and other visitors.

The bad news is that I’ll have to be without an Internet connection for 3 days! Gasp! That’s an eternity. I’ll be frequenting the local coffee shops with free wi-fi, but it’ll be a pain. Then again, moving is a pain anyway.

I’m considering getting a wireless provider so I can use the Internet anywhere I go with my laptop. It would come in handy for working while I’m watching my daughter play at a park or whatever. If you have this type of service, what do you recommend?

Daycare drama

Every child is different, no matter how child care centers try to spin it. My daughter simply doesn’t like daycare in the large center environment, or at least not the one we tried. After going for 3 days, she got a terrible cold. But even before the cold hit, by the 3rd day she was crying when talking about school.

After recovering from the cold, we tried again. As soon as she saw the teacher she burst into tears. “I don’t want to take a nap!” she yelled at the teacher. We went for two more days anyway, no more than 3 hours each time, and she was miserable.

My inquisitive, happy, energetic toddler was a crying mess. At home she told me, “Don’t leave me! Mommy stay with me. I don’t want to take a nap!”

On the other hand, her best friend just started there and simply loves it.

They’re all different.

Now I’m looking into a smaller daycare situation, or one where the main teacher stays in the room 95% of the time at least. This place had 13 two-year-olds in the classroom, so it was chaos. Oh, and did I mention that we came down with the stomach flu after taking her back for just 2 days? Yuck!

Back to the drawing board.

What daycare situations have worked for you, especially if you kept your children at home for several years before attempting child care?

Seven things about the Crayon Writer

Crayon Writer is more than one year old, and I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a “meme.” I’ve always wanted to, though, and I’ve finally gotten my chance. Thanks for thinking of me Mrs. M. from New York Renovator!

This meme is supposed to be 7 useful things about me. Here goes!

1. I have a degree in biology, but my first job after college was as an assistant editor.

2. My favorite books to read are fantasy/sci-fi, and I love those kinds of movies too.

3. I am a single mother by choice, and I am an attachment parent for the most part.

4. I went to law school for almost a year (the year I was pregnant, actually).

5. I can identify more than 100 bird species by sight and/or sound. Comes in handy when I’m watching a TV show and they claim to be in city X and I know the bird call in the distance doesn’t live anywhere near that part of the country or in that habitat.

6. I am passionate and knowledgeable about preventing domestic violence and changing laws to more strongly prosecute the criminals who commit domestic violence crimes.

7. This probably isn’t news to anyone who reads my blog regularly, but I want to homeschool my daughter as long as she wants me to.

Well, that’s all I could think of. Hopefully you learned something new and interesting about me.