When I was in college I wrote a weekly sports column (yes, the singing theatre major, history minor, never-played-a-sport-in-my-life girl wrote a sports column … and people liked it, I swear!). The name of it — Wrapping It Up With Rapaport — struck me with some inspiration while contemplating the end of 2012.
As December 31 approaches there are so many things to “wrap up” — gifts, projects I’d like completed before 2013 (before I start my vacation really), and household chores to make sure I’ll be able to come back to a clean house in a few weeks.
Along with all these things, I though it was a good time to take a quick look back at my resolutions for 2012 to see how I’ve done during the past 12 months. Here’s an update:
Exercise: I had written that my hope was to attend my Jazzercise class as often as possible and continue my morning routine of walking to get in better shape without giving up all the foods I love. I’d say that I achieved this goal in a way I didn’t even imagine last January — by becoming a certified Jazzercise instructor during the summer. On top of regularly attending class, I have also been teaching between 4–8 times per month and can tell I am in better shape than I was during 2011. My regular walking routine hasn’t been kept up as well as it should, but my walking companion and I are both committed to getting into a better routine come 2013.
Food: As 2012 began, my hubby and I were hoping for a healthier year both in terms of exercise and eating. I switched to organic milk and tend to buy all our fish, meat and chicken from the vendors at Eastern Market where it is a bit more expensive, but also free from hormones. Plus I can get exactly what I want (although they do look at me like I am a little bit crazy when I get a third of a pound of ground meat).
In terms of veggies we didn’t do the CSA weekly box this year, but we did have more of our own veggies thanks to our backyard garden. While it wasn’t as prosperous of a harvest as I am sure is possible given the space, I learned some valuable lessons — like don’t plant 13 tomato seedlings and then refuse to thin them — that should help 2013 provide a more bountiful harvest. On top of this being the first year of navigating the garden in our own raised beds, being gone for 2 weeks of July and 2 weeks of August didn’t help. I am pretty sure we will be spending much of next summer stuck in DC, so that should help improve our luck.
Don’t Obsess About Weight: This one has definitely been the hardest to succeed at during 2012. I do my best not to be concerned with the number that pops up on the scale (and since I’ve been teaching Jazzercise it certainly has been, what I would consider, better), but even on days when I find that I am not as happy with what I see I remind myself that it isn’t the number, it’s the way my clothes fit that counts. I will do my best to continue this in 2013 and, hopefully, learn to let go of my concern for that silly number!
Now that I’ve wrapped up my resolution re-cap, it’s time to wrap up projects for the year and get ready for the craziness of the holiday season. I’ll head to California where I will spend my days visiting with old friends and family members, attending 4 different holiday dinners, exchanging gifts with loved ones, and just enjoying being “home.”
I have always believed that anything in life can be linked to a musical song — cleaning the kitchen? I might just burst into “In My Own Little Corner” from Cinderella. Going through a break-up? I definitely ran through “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” from Avenue Q a time or two. Super happy and just wanting to belt it out? You couldn’t hold me back from singing along with “Dancing Queen” from Mamma Mia!
So today as I watch the temperature climb and the “real feel” get even higher, I can’t help but burst out with “Too Darn Hot” from Kiss Me, Kate. Washington, DC, you and your crazy, humid summer days are already out of hand and it is barely mid-July. I am hopeful that this heat wave will break soon, because two more months of temperatures like today will have me singing a different tune. Maybe “Far From the Home I Love” from Fiddler on the Roof while I pine for a nice dry, hot California summer instead…
As I enter the last year in my twenties I can’t help but reflect on what I thought I would be doing by the time I reached 30. Is my life “on track?” If I look back at any time line that I created in school I’d surely have performed in at least 5 Broadway shows by now, so I certainly haven’t succeeded in following that plan.
But as I enjoy my day off thanks to my pretty cool boss (self you’re the best!), I am pretty pleased with where things stand. I’ve had an extremely blessed 28 years. I am married to the man of my dreams, we live in an amazing city where we own a house, and I have my own business which continues to thrive. Really, how could I complain? I have even started pursuing the arts again in small ways such singing lessons. Hopefully auditions and vocal contests aren’t too far behind. It may not be Broadway, but it works.
Just because things haven’t turned out the way I envisioned at 10 or 18 or 25, doesn’t mean that they aren’t going right. I’ll happily accept that I may never have it “figured out” like I was certain I would by the time I finished college (and when I didn’t by then, I surely knew I’d have my life planned out by the time I finished graduate school…) and that’s okay. I’m just biding my time before I am out there playing Sophie in Mamma Mia! somewhere — that dream will never end, although at some point I may have to transition slightly and start hoping to play Donna.
I think my favorite part about being a freelancer is the flexibility. For example, this morning it is rainy and dreary. While I am thrilled that the downpour is providing our garden with lots of much-needed water, it doesn’t exactly make me want to get out of bed and get to work! Particularly when my husband brought me breakfast in bed to start the day. Of course, my days certainly don’t go this way on a regular basis and typically I am at my desk by 7:30 am. Occasionally I have found myself working on a weekend or late at night, but generally speaking, I have to admit the schedule of a freelancer is simply the best.
In the past few weeks I have had a few opportunities to embrace the work/life balance that comes from setting your own hours of operation. A few weeks ago my mom was visiting from California and we spent three days in NYC. Since we went up Thursday morning and came home Saturday I took Thursday and Friday off of work. We’d planned the trip a few months in advance, so I had been arranging projects around those days, but when the time came I felt guilty being away from my computer. How would it look if I didn’t return an email within 5 minutes of receiving it? Well, I had set up an out-of-office message, I told myself. After a few hours I found that I was perfectly relaxed and enjoying walking around the city with my mom. We took in a few Broadway shows and enjoyed some delicious food, making it a fabulous mini get-a-way.
I don’t have anymore multi-day excursions planned for the next few months, but last week I embraced a bit of quiet time in my schedule to meet my husband for lunch downtown on a weekday and then visit a few museums. Despite spending 4 hours away from my desk, I still made it home early enough to squeeze in a bit more work before jazzercise. And I got to enjoy a lovely sun-filled afternoon away from my desk. It was inspiring and just the break I needed.
I think that breaks like this are something everyone would benefit from, but it is so difficult to make them happen when you work in an office with an allotted amount of time for lunch. Now that I have the chance, I’m going to do my best to embrace the freedom that comes with crafting a schedule that really works for me.
It’s been a little over nine months since I started to work full time as a freelancer. I knew I could do the work, but would I be able to find clients? Thankfully, business has been treating me better than I had hoped and I continue to find new projects and clients each month. I have also started to determine what the best and worst parts of working from home are:
The freedom to work with any client on any project that I want.
Not only can I work with a variety of clients, I get the chance to play a number of different roles. In the past months I have found myself editing, writing, doing layout design, helping with social media outreach and providing public relations support. Doing so many different things for such different clients — think kitchen remodeling, theatre companies and professional associations — forces me to constantly think of new and innovative ways to tackle projects. What worked for one client, probably won’t work for another so I’ve got to stay on my toes.
Many people tell me “I could never work from home — I’d never get anything done!” when I tell them I am a freelancer. Sometimes I hit a stumbling block just like anyone else, but I love working from the peace and quiet of my own house. I am solely responsible for the way I manage my time. There are no managers or coworkers to maintain. Don’t get me wrong, I still interact with people all the time for the projects I work on, but I find the relationship is much simpler.
I don’t have to pretend to be busy.
One of my biggest pet peeves about working in an office is that when you are in between projects or waiting on edits (or just need a few minutes of down time to clear your head) you have to look busy in case someone important walks by. Now I can run to the grocery store at 8 a.m., do a load of laundry while waiting for feedback or take a nap if I have a break (okay, this hasn’t actually happened yet, but it could happen).
Vacation Days and Sick Leave
No more am I beholden to two weeks of vacation time per year accrued at 6.66 hours per month. Or a handful of sick days. Sure, if I have a deadline I may still need to work while I am feeling under the weather, but I can make adjustments to my schedule in order to get the rest I need. As for vacation, my husband and I tend to have trips planned out well in advance, so when I am taking on a project I can be upfront with clients about timeframes that I will be unavailable.
No air conditioning
Living in a swamp that seems to be having the hottest summer in recent memory and not having air conditioning has been very hard. Thankfully, my upstairs office has been less like a sauna recently and when things are getting steamy, I can relocate to a coffee shop or an air-conditioned room at church with my husband’s laptop as long as the work isn’t too design intensive.
The lack of office antics.
Working alone means that no one is around to plaster your desk area with old headshots (which has totally happened to me) or bring in a dozen donuts to share just because. It’s probably better to skip the donuts, but I definitely miss laughing with coworkers or having someone to talk to when something is driving me crazy. Thank goodness for email!
There is no IT department.
When the internet goes down or your most important program keeps crashing there isn’t anyone to deal with it but yourself…But I am kind of torn about this one because it also means that there is no IT department to get upset that you are downloading additional software, sending large files via email and watching streaming video “at work.”
Projects aren’t set in stone.
Until I am actually working on a project for someone, I don’t consider it future income. Things come up, clients’ needs change and projects don’t always come through. The constant need to find new work has led to some stressful moments, but in life—particularly in work—I don’t think that can be avoided no matter how much you love your job.
Last night my husband, some friends and I saw Little Shop of Horrors, a dark, comedic musical that I love. I mean, a man-eating plant? A dweeby little fellow with the best of intentions? A heroine who fantasizes about a tract home with a “real” chain-link fence? The performance was great and some of Audrey’s lines in one of her songs reminded me of the list that inspired me to start this blog.
The satirical nature in which she fawns over the idea of a “big, enormous 12 inch” television screen always makes me smile. It also made me reflect a little on the ways in which our “normal” life may not be so far off base from the fantasy life she dreamed about. Everyone wants a space to call their own, and most people probably aren’t wishing for a McMansion (at least not these days). We were quite fortunate to find a house and neighborhood with a little patch of green we can call home.
However, we did manage to spice it up with a couple outings. On Friday we went to my husband’s rowing club “gala” and on Saturday we met up with friends to watch the Kentucky Derby. I was thrilled that a horse named “Super Saver” won — maybe because I feel like I won the Kentucky Derby every time I save more than I spend at the grocery store. And while no one ever showers me with champagne on those ocassions, our house guests did leave us a bottle of bubbly as a thank you/anniversary gift and it is triple coupon week at the store…
As this humid week begins, it is nice to have a fairly predictable schedule of work-related projects, exercise and catching up with friends on the agenda. I can already tell that May is going to be a busy, but very good month. I just have to forget the finale of Little Shop and remember to feed the plants!
8. Make the evening his. Never complain if he does not take you out to dinner or to other places of entertainment. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure, his need to be home and relax.
I am lucky to be married to someone who is an exceptional cook. Although I do love to eat out, his mad kitchen skillz (yes, he is that hip in the kitchen), make me love eating at home. Sometimes I even enjoy eating vegetables. It’s like the world has gone a little topsy turvy.
I know that my husband feels obligated to rush home from work so that he can start cooking dinner, which is probably the opposite of allowing him time to relax in the evening. And I’ve made it pretty clear in Tip #2 that I in no way discourage this behavior, so I suppose I am not trying very hard to understand his “world of strain and pressure.”
But we are not complete hermits and when we go out, we like to make a night of it. A night out for us tends to be fairly standard — dinner at a fancy restaurant during restaurant week or at a nice place with our theatre discount card in hand (hey, no one complains about a free glass of wine!) before taking in a show. Since we tend not to dine-out often, we like to make it count when the opportunity arises. After consuming an appetizer, dinner and often dessert, a stomach ache also tends to play a role in our nights out — maybe that’s why we don’t do it too often!
In an attempt to avoid becoming totally reclusive, we really enjoy hosting dinner at our home and try to do it at least once a week. It is quieter and more comfortable to be with friends at home than at a restaurant. But while we love hosting, I think I am beginning to prefer repeat visitors. I am growing tired of giving “the tour” (or, more likely, I am just tired of going up and down the stairs…)
Since we tend to spend a lot of nights at home, we like to “go in.” Sometimes my husband will cook dinner that goes with the show or movie that we are watching (think Belgian stew for a Poirot mystery or shepherd’s pie for Harry Potter), or we retire to a “room of entertainment” following dinner — the dining room for a board game, the basement for a movie or the study for a bit of on-demand Netflix watching.
Given the fun that we have staying in, I think it’s safe to say we’ve found a good balance of good food and entertainment in our lives.