Monday, March 25, 2013

How You Spend Your Days Is How You Spend Your Life

Like most people I know, I work for money. The work/life balance blurs when I get greedy.

Last week, I was offered a big freelance writing job with an incentive. The job became bigger after I agreed to do it. Days blurred together with me fixed at the computer, working on this increasingly big project with a very tight deadline.

I do regular work for this company, and I enjoy it very much, but I do it in much smaller doses. At first, the increased intensity was inspiring, even refreshing. The first day or two, I had a few hundred words left at the end of the night to add to my novel in progress. My income potential was rising. I had underestimated myself.

But things were sliding. My house was a mess. I wasn’t spending time with my kids or husband. I wasn’t reading outside of research reports and statistics. I wasn’t seeing my friends. By day three and four, I had a headache by noon and it was getting harder to get through it.

I talked to other people who took crazy jobs for extra money. One friend was turning in a project that day, trying to beat a snowstorm to get it off her hands so she never had to think about it again. The project paid for her daughter’s dance lessons, but she wasn’t sure it was worth the hassle.  Another told me about a job delivering phone books. She thought she could do it after work to make some extra money for Christmas. It turned into a kerfluffle that may have ended up costing her more than she made from the job because of childcare costs and gasoline to haul around heavy phone books.

By day six, the work had grown again and it looked like internal editing would make it a nailbiter to hit deadline. On that day, I woke up with a headache. While the end was in sight, I had to get through the day, and the day after that, and they both looked dismal.

A saying I probably read on Facebook popped into my head: How you spend your days is you spend your life. If this was true, I wasn’t too happy with how I was spending my life. I was living for the days on the other side of this project, but the days I was living were miserable.

I did my best for this project, and fulfilled my promise. Like my friend delivering her side project in a snowstorm, I questioned if it was worth it.  Dance lessons, or in my case, piano lessons, do need to be paid for, but I don’t have to earn the money in seven days. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Review: The One and Only Ivan

"The One and Only Ivan," by Katherine Applegate is the winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal, and it deserves it. This book is charming, heartbreaking and courageous as Ivan, the mighty Silverback gorilla speaks from his domain in the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.

Except it isn’t a domain, it is a cage, and a small and dirty one at that.

Short sentences in short chapters, because gorillas don’t waste words like humans do, tell a rich story on friendship, family and home. The one and only Ivan does the impossible, in more ways than one. First, he fulfilled a promise from inside a cage. Second, he hooked my kids from the first page. They couldn’t stop reading until the story was done.

You won’t be able to either. This is a book to buy, because you will be proud to have it on your shelves.