Grief is Different for Everyone

So much for being more present.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I can see how that can be true.

I think part of being human is we tend to overthink things. I know that’s the way it is for me. I’ll plan out something in my head then talk myself out of doing it. I think there are many writers out there who do the very same thing.

On May 5 I went out to the cemetery and sat with Ross. It was the one year anniversary of his passing so I took a couple cans of Guinness; one for him and one for me. His can is still there, albeit a little warm. He did prefer it on tap but a can was the best I could do. Besides, a glass just would not last long.

I have been struggling with coming to terms with how much my life has changed. I’m sure anyone who has lost someone dear to them can relate. I also know everyone deals with grief differently.

Life goes on, no matter what shit-show we have going on in our lives. We’re still expected to show up, be present, and act like our world has not fallen apart. Just today (July 15) I talked to a man in our community who offered his condolences; over 14 months after Ross passed. He said he hadn’t seen me so hadn’t said anything before. I get it; no one has seen many people in the past year plus. (Post published just after midnight July 16.)

We chatted for a little while, and as I drove to the funeral home I cried. Today was the day I sat down with the staff at the funeral home and picked out a monument for his grave. I had considered one type, but after the meeting I opted for something different. I think the decision I made today is the right one. And to be honest, I don’t really care what anyone else thinks. My kids will have some input before the order is finalized, but that’s it.

We never know what’s going to trigger an overwhelming sense of loss; no matter how much time has passed. Losing the person you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with definitely knocks you for a loop.

I have spent some time working on a grief journal, and have made a couple versions. One is a digital one (for use with an iPad/tablet) and the other is a printable one. There’s a lot of the same content in each so buyers can choose whichever format works best for them. The printable one can be found here and the digital version can be found here. Both are in my Etsy Shop, along with a number of other printables, patterns, and planners.

A few pages from the printable grief journal.

Having an outlet to share my experience with others has been good for me, even if it is in the form of a printable. My goal is to help others work through their grief, plus earn a few dollars here and there. A girl’s gotta eat, so I can’t give my journals away.

What I can do, however, is connect with others through my posts. I know no two experiences are exactly the same, but by being able to share our stories and talk about our dearly departed, we will be able to move forward.

I share some of my story in my journals, and some has been shared in previous posts. I find the more I am able to talk about him the more I can move forward. And by moving forward I don’t mean forgetting him; I mean being able to live my life without him. I said it before and I’ll say it again: we were supposed to grow old together. I was NOT supposed to become a widow 8 days before my 52nd birthday!

When I started this blog and website all was right in my world. I learned very quickly I am not immune to everything going south, as is no one else. So bear with me as I work through my shit-show; and feel free to share yours if you wish. We all have something going on, and we do what we can to make the rest of the world think we’re coping just fine.

Mickey and Merlot

What a strange name for a title, don’t you think?

One week ago I got two kittens: an orange one and a calico one. The orange one is a boy and he’s Mickey. When it came time to name the girl my daughter suggested Merlot, and I agreed. Sure, they’re boozy names; but given what life has dealt me I think it’s fitting. And how many cats do you know that are named Merlot?

Mickey is helping as I write this. Doesn’t he know it’s after 10 pm and he should be sleeping? He’s chewing on my sleeve, and tries to walk on the keyboard. If there’s a typo chances are I missed his input.

What I have been doing since December (my last post).

Christmas came and went, even though it was much different than any I have ever celebrated before. My daughter had dinner with me, then I went to my son’s for supper. During dinner we video chatted with my sisters and my son, so we spent some time together even though we couldn’t be in the same house.

Our winter has been fairly decent for the most part, so I did some tree-trimming and a lot of branch-burning in the fire pit when it wasn’t too windy. When we did have the minus 40 temperatures, I stayed home and inside for the most part.

I have been working on my Etsy Shop, and have even changed its name to reflect more of what I do now. It started as Not Just Alpaca because I sold alpaca fiber and items made from it. As time has gone on, I have added patterns (of my own design) and printables: all digital downloads. The name of my shop is now Not Just Alpaca Designs – not a big change, but still a change.

Little changes have been happening since I lost Ross, and revamping my shop and what I offer has been one of them. Another is my daughter and her dog have moved back in with me. No matter what life has dealt me, I am a mom first. And if one of my kids needs a place to live, then my door is always open. She moved back into her old room, with the only change being a new, bigger bed. I do have to say, these modular homes do not have second and third bedrooms big enough for a big dresser and queen size bed. It’s a tight fit in there. (The third bedroom is my office, so no bed in there.)

I haven’t been diligent with my blog postings, which hasn’t been helpful to you, my reader. I’m the first to admit I have a tendency to procrastinate, and that’s something I’m going to try hard not to do. Life gets a little overwhelming at times, and writing is what used to get me back on track. I have found that even my journal has been neglected; something that used to give me joy has become a chore.

It’s amazing how the time has flown by, no matter what has been happening in the world and my life. Covid-19 has dictated where we can go, what we can do, and who we can spend time with. It’s hard to believe we have been living in the Covid-19 world for over a year now. I am glad I have a home in the middle of nowhere, and can go outdoors without neighbours giving me the evil eye. I really do feel for those who are stuck in apartments, and can’t go out at all.

Where I am now.

As we begin month four of 2021 I find myself needing to be more present here. I started this website to help others earn an income from side hustles, and I haven’t been a good mentor. I am working on rectifying that problem, and realize it’s time to go back to using a planner. When I made notes, kept track of what I planned to do in a day, and jotted down some gratitude, I was more productive. Now that one day seems to blend into the next, I find I’m kicking myself for not getting as much done.

It’s amazing how much a planner helps. I have drawn out spreads for each month, week, and day; and also just taken the Bullet Journal approach. I’ve had separate habit trackers, gratitude pages, lists, and recaps. At the end of the day, I could reflect on what I did because I had it documented. Now the end of the day comes and I have nothing written down, and it bothers me.

https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/989183007/minimalist-digital-planner-80-undated
The photo is of the daily page in my planner. When using a digital planner, the tabs are hyperlinked so you don’t have to flip through dozens (or hundreds) of pages to get where you want to be.

I’m switching from a paper planner to a digital one (started using it just about a week ago) to see how it works out for me. It’s a hard switch to make because I’m generally a pen-and-paper girl, but I need to do something. And given the areas of my life I want to keep track of, hauling around a two-inch binder full of paper just isn’t going to work. My iPad will be much easier to carry around than a binder.

I’m using one I bought from Secret Owl Society (on Etsy), but will be making my own. I’m partway through the course on how to make them using Affinity Publisher, so will be learning as I go. I have a basic one made, so if you’re interested in checking it out, just follow the link to my Etsy Shop above. My personal one will have several more sections than the one I have listed in my shop, simply because I have more things on the go.

One thing I did learn (after the fact of course) is that with digital planners there’s no need to have a page for each week or day of the week. When using an annotation app such as Goodnotes, there’s an option to add pages as you go along. I guess I should have watched the rest of the videos before I added 52 weekly pages and 365 daily pages. Whoops!

Moving forward.

Now that Mickey and Merlot are sleeping, it’s time for me to do the same. I have a feeling my office time will be much more entertaining now that I have two little hellions underfoot. I have missed having cats in the house (Ross was allergic so we only had outdoor kitties), and it’s going to take some getting used to. I ordered a cat tree for them, so maybe they’ll spend more time on it than on my keyboard when it gets here.

Now that I’m working on getting back on track I’ll be posting more often. I can’t promise a certain number of posts per week or month, but I will do my best to get at least one out a week. And my planner will help me with that.

Have you used a digital planner? Paper planner? Or no planner? What are your thoughts on digital, whether or not you have used one?

Mindset Makes a Difference

I’m back!

The past few months have been months of figuring out who I am, and what I want out of life. Mostly, they have been months of learning.

Seven months have passed since I lost Ross and so much has changed in that time. 2020 has been a crazy year as it is, but becoming a widow without any warning has been the worst.

The first few months I tried to keep busy as much as possible. I built a two-level deck, resigned from my job at the library, worked on my yard, and tried to just get through each day without him.

As time passed I told myself I could either wallow in my sorrow or continue to live life to the fullest. I have control over what I do, and having a positive mindset no matter how shitty the situation is so much better for my wellbeing.

I miss him every day and catch myself thinking about what I want to tell him when he gets home. Just last night I wanted to tell him what a friend had said, and then cried when I remembered he wasn’t going to be home to tell. It’s those moments that are the hardest.

In August I became an Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, plus a Young Living Distributor. Both allow me the freedom to improve my health and wellbeing, plus the lives of others. And best of all, I can work from home.

It took me a few months to get back into the kitchen, and I credit being a Pampered Chef Consultant for helping me get there faster. I like to cook and bake, but when Ross passed away it was all I could do to just get through the day much less cook meals I wasn’t going to eat.

When I did cook, it wasn’t much. I basically lived on cereal, granola bars, and convenience foods from the freezer section of the grocery store. Now I am cooking, and the convenience foods have been replaced with portions I have frozen. There are days when I don’t feel like cooking but I still have a home-cooked meal.

Ross wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad all the time; he always wanted me to be happy. Once I started to see through the tears I realized I still have to live. The choice of how I do so is mine and mine alone. Being sad all the time doesn’t help anyone mentally or physically, and definitely not emotionally. I am slowly moving forward; an important step in the healing and grieving process.

No one knows how another person feels; only how they feel themselves. It took me months to realize life does go on no matter what. The sun still rises and sets, without discrimination.

On top of losing him COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in my world simply because of all the restrictions. We couldn’t have a proper funeral so immediate family was present while everyone else was given the option to watch the live feed on Facebook. When restrictions were lifted slightly we couldn’t rent a venue for a memorial get-together, so we had family and friends get together in my yard after the inurnment at the cemetery.

And as of today, lockdown is happening once again so Christmas will be a very quiet one. Yes I’m bitter, but at the same time I have to be grateful for what I do have. I have kids that call or text me every day, friends who check in from time to time, and in-laws who are close in case I need anything.

There are good days and bad days, and having someone to talk to is important. When you suffer a loss you never know just where the most support is going to come from. You may think it should be your family or close friends, but sometimes it comes from someone who is a little further out of the circle. I learned that first-hand, and am forever grateful.

This is the first thing of any length I have written since May 5, aside from pages and pages in my journal (which has also been neglected lately). Life dealt me cards I didn’t like, but it’s up to me to make them work. I have chosen to play them through rather than fold so whatever comes will have to be taken in stride.

Now before I bore you completely I will close, but not before I say this: If you find yourself in a situation you have no control over, do what you can to make the best of it. Life isn’t always fair. That’s just a given. Do what you have to so you come out on top. It may take weeks, months, or years…but don’t give up on yourself.

Grief Sucks

Eight weeks ago today I received the most terrible news of my entire life. It has changed who I am, who I will be, and well, pretty much everything about my life after (his) death.

Losing Ross was sudden; something we didn’t anticipate. It was a shock to say the least, and in some ways it still doesn’t seem real. We’ve gone through the funeral, the inurnment is to follow in just over two weeks’ time, and then I will continue to try moving forward.

I have neglected my blogs, my websites, and a few other things. Grief is not an easy thing to get through. In all honesty, I don’t think we ever really “get through” it at all. I know for me it has hit me like a ton of bricks.

With that said, I will be getting back to writing in more than just my journal. The posts here may be about life, and death, and the things they both bring, but it is all part of the healing process. He was my world, and I miss him more than words can say.

I’m not ashamed to say I cry – a lot. As a writer I can put my feelings down on paper. And there are so many mixed feelings that come with grief. In the same token, I know I need to move forward and continue with my writing for clients and myself.

Ross was my biggest fan and supporter of my writing, and I feel I would be letting him down if I stopped. My second novella in my new series was dedicated to him (I started it a year ago) and it will stay dedicated to him. Now I just have to finish it so you, my readers, can enjoy it as well.

Thank you for being patient while I got life sort of figured out. I know I’ll have my okay days and my not-okay days, but one day at a time is all I can do.

Grief sucks. Who’s with me on that?

Cherish those you love.

I feel as if 2020 has been unfair to so many, and it has really hit me hard this week.

On Tuesday May 5 I lost the love of my life to cardiac arrest; that’s a call no one ever wants to get. My heart is broken.

It has been a rough week, with more rough times to come. I just wanted you to know that’s the reason my posts will most likely be few and far between (sparser than usual) for the next while.

I have so many things to deal with, and am thankful I have the support of family and friends to get through it all.

Cherish every moment with your loved ones: you never know how long you really have with anyone. He and I were supposed to grow old together.

Stay healthy, and stay safe.

E-book on Guide Writing

Have you thought about creating information products, but aren’t quite sure where to start?

I have written a short eBook to help you get started. By beginning the process with writing a simple guide, you can quickly increase your income. It does, however, take work on your part. Simply buying the eBook won’t make you the money; you also have to utilize the contents to your advantage.

I know that’s not what you want to hear, but trust me when I say the money won’t come flowing in just because you bought a book. If that were the case we’d all be rich, wouldn’t we?

The eBook I have written is a mere twenty pages, but it will give you the foundation to get started. I have written a few short books over the years and each has brought in some income, even without constant marketing. In fact, a couple haven’t had any marketing attached to them at all and I have earned from them.

I’m not going to say I have earned thousands, because that would be untruthful. The fault is not because of the book itself, but rather through the lack of marketing on my part. In order for you to make any sales, people have to know the book/guide is out there. You don’t buy something you don’t know exists, so why should you expect anyone else to right?

In the midst of a global pandemic and so many job losses it’s crucial to have a way to add to the bank account in other ways. I’m a believer no one should wait for something bad to happen before beginning to increase income, but sadly that’s often what happens. Our jobs are never one hundred percent guaranteed, no matter what we think.

I have been fortunate to still have my library assistant position, but that is only because we are a small library with few staff members. We’re taking advantage of the library down-time to get caught up on the tasks we are unable to do while patrons are coming through the doors. However, if the closures last much longer, the budget won’t allow us to be there.

We’re hopeful we are part of the second phase of reopening, but that will all depend on how everyone adheres to the physical distancing rules which will still be in effect. It’s going to be interesting to say the least.

I’m thankful my family, friends, and community have avoided becoming ill; and I sincerely hope it stays that way. So many people still are not taking it seriously.

If you would like to grab a copy of How To Create A Guide For Almost Anything, click on the image below. It will take you to the product description page and the purchase link. I’m still trying to figure out how to streamline the process (I’m a little tech-challenged). If you have any problems with the link or the download, please contact me.

Learn how to brainstorm and organize your thoughts so you can write your very own guide.

What’s an Information Product, and Why Do You Need One?

Picture this: you’re standing in line at the grocery store and someone you haven’t seen in quite some time comes up to you. After the initial standard greeting, she asks you what you’re “doing” nowadays. “I’m teaching online classes to help others earn money from home,” you say.

“Interesting, but do you make any money doing it?”

“I do. I earn thousands per month.”

For the first time since you’ve known her, she has nothing to say; purely because she’s shocked at what you have just revealed.

What’s an information product?

If you like the sound of thousands of dollars per month, then it’s time you created your own product based on skills you already have.

First, I’ll explain just what it is.

An information product is something you have written or recorded in order to teach or inform someone about a product or service. In the example above, the product is an online class which you recorded over the course of a week. It is broken up into shorter lessons so your students can work through the steps, absorb the information, and complete a short quiz at the end.

Perhaps it’s a course on creating infographics. You’ll walk students through the fundamentals of design, the purpose of an infographic, the steps to creating one for almost any industry, and the software best suited for their project.

You’ll either upload the class to a site which hosts your lessons and collects registration fees on your behalf or have it on your own website and collect the fees yourself.

No matter your choice, your goal is to produce a product that will help solve the problems others are having. In the example above, the students enrolling in your online class are in need of earning extra money. They are investing their hard-earned dollars to gain insight and find out how they can build a side income without having to quit their regular job. It is up to you to give them accurate information, examples of your own experiences, and even templates to make the process easier for them.

Not only does it help your students, but it also shows you’re an expert on the subject. When you create an information product, you’re not only helping yourself, you’re helping others. By leveraging the power of eBooks, video, audio, and online courses, you can get your knowledge in front of those who want to learn more.

It has been said if you write about love, money or food, you will always have an audience and will make money. They are the most popular topics out there. However, there are also hundreds of sub-topics you can focus on which fall under the three.

When it comes to love, you can entertain others by writing romance novels or educate them based on your life experiences and/or educational background on relationships.

Money is popular because people are always wanting to know how to make more of it without spending a lot to find out how. A word of advice here though: avoid MLM (multi-level marketing) schemes and give people tangible ways they can increase their bottom line. Also tell them right off the start it’s going to take time and effort on their part. Never promise riches because they will expect the money to fall from the sky without any effort from them.

And food. We all need to eat, so showing others how to make their favourite desserts while being health-conscious is only one way to attract readers/clients/customers.

Why do you need one?

If you have something valuable to teach others but don’t want to spend your days travelling all over, you need an information product. You’ll not only leverage your time better, but you’ll also have more free time. Isn’t that what you want anyway?

Many people will start a business because they want more time with their family, but often end up working twice as much as they did when they had a job. It doesn’t matter what they do, they just can’t seem to get ahead or be able to enjoy more vacation time.

Don’t let yourself get caught in that trap. Use your knowledge and resources to create a product which will help others. Digital downloads, video, and audio are your best options as the overhead is much less than if you were to ship physical products. Or if compiling books or workbooks, use a POD (print-on-demand) service so you don’t have to print and ship them yourself. Digital products also can be purchased by anyone in the world. You won’t be limited by demographics.

For example, perhaps you are a copywriter and don’t want to take on any more clients. Creating a product to teach others how to become a copywriter themselves will give you the extra income you want, yet not take up any more of your time. And don’t worry about losing clients; your existing clients will still want and need your services. You’re simply branching out to help others while not overextending yourself.

I have earned extra income for several years by crocheting and designing patterns. A few years ago, I decided to write a book to help others do the same. I even included the patterns they could use to get their crochet businesses going. And the cost of the book is far less than what I would have charged if I had held a class. Plus, each of those patterns is available individually, so purchasing the ebook is a win-win for anyone interested in earning money from crocheting.

If you would like more information on creating information products, you may download my free eBook here. It goes into much more detail than this post has.

Before I close I would like to say thank you for reading and following my blog. I also have a newsletter signup link in the sidebar, which will give you access to new products I’m creating as well as information tailored to those who would like to earn a little extra money from home. I look forward to sharing what I know on a weekly basis.

Stay safe and healthy,

Diane

Staying Healthy. Staying Safe.

I hope you’re all healthy and able to stay in contact with family and friends.

This is most definitely a time of crisis, questions, and wondering what the future holds for us all. The uncertainty is weighing on everyone’s mind I’m sure.

As much as we don’t know what the future holds at this point, we do still have to keep our wits about us. I have read about so many theories, cures, end of the world stories, and panic posts it could make a person’s head spin. In fact, I did find myself being overwhelmed with it all so have decided to only tune in to what our Minister of Health has to say.

It’s disturbing to say the least. However, we need to keep a level head through it all. And that means staying informed, staying as far away from others as possible, and not taking advantage of others’ vulnerabilities. I have heard of the scams going on out there now, where people are using scare tactics to get the money of others. It’s truly the terrible side of the human being showing its face now.

There are always a few bad apples ready and willing to take advantage of a situation when others are already panicked. I truly hope none of my readers fall into that category. Human beings are supposed to be the superior species; the intelligent species; and the compassionate species. I have heard too many stories about others being taken advantage of to believe we are superior. I think I’d rather take my chances with a bear than go out into a public setting right now.

Okay, I think my rant is over so I will continue with the positive side of things.

Instead of fretting about not being able to go shopping, socializing, or to large gatherings, take the time to focus on yourself and the people you care about most. Some of you may be isolated, others may be spending the days with the family who resides with you. Either way, it’s important to stay healthy and safe.

We haven’t been affected by the virus as far as being sick goes but we are affected in terms of our jobs and regular routines. And amidst it all, we have a funeral for my uncle. His passing was NOT virus related, but we still need to take the precautions necessary because of the virus. What that means is the actual funeral service is limited to ten family members. Fortunately, the funeral home can broadcast the service via Facebook Live so extended family and friends can attend without leaving the comfort and safety of their own homes. I honestly didn’t ever think I’d see the day when funerals had to be held in this manner.

I could go on and on about the commotion this has caused on so many levels, but I prefer to keep it light. We all need some positivity in our days so turn off the news, turn on the tunes, and do something fun. You do not have control over the world, but you do have control over your actions. Make them count.

Staying Healthy

Staying healthy is more crucial now so fighting the virus is easier. Take advantage of not having to spend hours each week commuting to work. Enjoy more home-cooked meals. Bake more cookies. Read for the fun of it. Play hide-and-seek with your kids. Do feel-good things to boost your mood and outlook. This won’t last forever and creating some healthy habits will carry on once things are back to normal.

It’s important to eat properly at any time, and even more so now. Now that spring is here spend some time trying your hand at gardening (if you don’t already do so). Growing and eating your own produce is not only healthier for your body, but also your mind. Gardening is wonderful stress relief. All you need is a sunny spot, some seeds, potting soil, and containers. It’s amazing how much you can grow in a small space. (If you want to learn more about gardening, hop on over to my gardening website. It’s in its early stages but does contain a growing amount of information. Bwa ha ha!)

Get plenty of exercise. I know a large number of people are upset because fitness centres have had to close, but there are things you can do at home to stay active. Walking is still a thing, provided you are able to stay away from others. Anyone who lives in a rural area has an advantage, but that doesn’t mean urban residents can’t utilize walking paths with caution. If you have children at home, no one says you can’t use them as a set of weights. They’ll learn how to stay perfectly still for a few minutes, and you’ll be able to continue your workout routine. I do warn you though; set the child down as soon as the giggles start.

For those who now must work from home, consider it a bit of a blessing. No more traffic, stuffy office cubicles, or grumpy clients. Okay, maybe you still have the latter, but at least they’re not yelling in your face. Some good has to be found in all of this, because if all we concentrate on is the bad, we’ll drive ourselves crazy.

I am enjoying the view from my office window as I write this. The sun is shining, and the squirrel is running back and forth through the spruce trees. It’s one of the best views a person can have. I am fortunate because I have the option to work at home, even when times are normal.

Image Copyright Diane Ziomek 2020

Staying Safe

Now let’s move on to the staying safe.

By now I hope everyone is taking this pandemic seriously. It won’t cause severe complications for everyone who contracts it, but it can be lethal for those who have underlying health issues. The older a person is, the higher the risk of not only contracting it, but also of dying from it.

Our province has taken measures to educate residents how important it is to follow protocol. Self-isolate if ill, just returned from a holiday, or if you’ve been in contact with someone who has it. This is serious stuff. We all need to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.

Self-isolation doesn’t have to be dull and boring. We live in an age where we have the power of video chat, text messages and the telephone to keep in contact with others. Keeping busy is not only good for our bodies, but also for our minds. I know people who are taking advantage of the time by cleaning closets, basements, and even pursuing hobbies they haven’t had time for.

I’m still able to go to work at the library even though we are closed to the public. We’re also taking advantage of the time by cleaning shelves, weeding books, and doing the long-overdue inventory. The hours I choose to work are pretty much my own right now, especially this week (due to the family loss). Next week will be business as usual (except with locked doors) and we will be able to get a lot accomplished when patrons aren’t coming and going. We rely on our patrons and they rely on our services as well. We’ll all be glad when we can get back to normal.

There will be times when you must venture out to the grocery store, the gas station, or the pharmacy. During your outings try to avoid contact with others as much as possible. You have no idea where they’ve been or what they’ve done. Not everyone is being mindful of the effect their actions have on others. The reality is some people just don’t seem to think it’s a big deal.

When you do venture out be sure to wash your hands as often as possible, keep your distance from others, and get what you need from a store and get back home. Wash your hands and other surfaces you touched, which includes doorknobs, vehicle handles and keys. I know it may seem silly, but the little things can go a long way.

Conclusion

With all I have said in this article, let me end it with this thought: you are not able to control everything. Do your best to do what you can to do your part in preventing the spread. It doesn’t do your mental health any good to worry about what others are/aren’t doing. Do what you can to keep yourself and your family safe, and if that means staying home for a week or three, that’s okay.

Many jobs can be done from home, but for those who are on the front lines of this pandemic, we thank you. Without your commitment and dedication to keeping our health facilities available and food on the shelves of the grocery stores, we would be in much worse shape.

I know this has been a lengthy post, but I hope it has brought some focus on what’s important. What are you doing to stay healthy and safe?

Invest in Yourself

Are you a writer? A graphic designer? Or perhaps someone who is creative in other ways? 

No matter what your creative outlet, it’s important to never stop learning about what you do. That might mean taking classes (online or in a classroom), trying different methods, or even stepping out of your comfort zone. 

No matter how much you think you know, there’s always more to learn. And if you think you know it all, teach a class. Chances are your students will have questions you hadn’t considered. And it may be them teaching you something new. 

As a writer I have spent the last six months learning more about writing fiction, nonfiction, and copywriting. A whole new world has opened up for me now that I have allowed myself to learn more from the experts. I know I have a long way to go, but I will say this: Each day is one of learning. 

I must admit, there are days when it’s information overload. I feel overwhelmed and wonder why I’m even doing this at this stage of life. Then the sensible me steps in and I am reminded life is to be enjoyed. That’s why I am taking the time to learn more; so I can basically work from anywhere.  

Writing is satisfying to me just as it may be to you. I want to spend my time doing what I enjoy and still be able to pay my bills and take vacations. Writing gives me a lot of options, just as your chosen path does for you.  

If you can, spend some time learning more about the things you enjoy. Take a class. Read about it. Join an online group so you can learn from others; and they can learn from you. Don’t consider them the competition but rather an alliance. Chances are you won’t be working toward the same goals anyway.  

Something else you should do is refrain from comparing yourself to others. When we do that, we stifle our creativity and our chances of reaching our full potential. It took me a long time to stop doing just that. When I compared myself to the successes of others it was disheartening. How could I ever achieve those milestones? 

Set goals for yourself. Make them achievable. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to earn a million dollars your first year as a writer (or whatever your chosen vocation). Sure, that might be your dream and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, break that dream into smaller goals. It may take you longer to get there than a year, and that’s okay. 

By breaking your dream into smaller chunks it’s easier to keep the momentum going. Invest the time to figure out what you want from your chosen path, then write it down. Break it into smaller segments which are achievable, whether you go daily, weekly, or monthly.  

I have learned to not focus so much on the dollars earned, but rather the upward growth of my followers, readership and number of views my website gets. I found by focusing on the dollars I was becoming frustrated when they didn’t increase like I felt they should.  

Something else I learned along the way is by focusing on the dollars, my creativity was stifled. Writing fiction wasn’t fun any longer because the sales weren’t there. A person’s mindset plays a big role in how quickly goals are achieved. 

I started investing in myself in September 2019 when I took a course on writing romance. One of the things the instructor stressed was to not compare ourselves to others. Our story is “our story”. It’s a reflection of what we know, how we perceive life and how willing we are to take risks. 

For anyone who knows me, a risk-taker I am not. I don’t live on the edge. I don’t generally go out of my comfort zone and do things on my own. Although, I did take a step forward in October when I made a trip to Calgary’s Imaginairium. I was terrified but I did it anyway. I am very much an introvert so didn’t make as many connections as I could have. That I do regret. However, the experience didn’t kill me and it made me realize I am capable of things I’m afraid to do. 

Since then I have been working toward bettering myself. I’m taking courses, learning how to budget my time better and not concentrating as much on the monetary rewards. When I stopped focusing on the latter, I realized I produced better content.  

I’ll end this post with this: take classes, attend webinars and don’t be afraid to learn from others. And most of all, take time for you. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of achieving your goals, but if you don’t take time to relax and do something fun you’re going to burn yourself out. Get your nails done, go for a hike with your family or get that massage you’ve been putting off.  

Invest in yourself by doing what makes you happy and your creativity will bloom. I know mine has. 

My latest investment in myself: joining The Professional Writers’ Alliance. I have the support of others without feeling as though I’m in constant competition for the same things. We all have different reasons for doing what we do, and accepting that is half the battle.

Writing for Dollars

It’s the weekend and you’re too tired to do much more than watch TV and maybe get caught up on laundry. Wasn’t being an adult supposed to be easier?

We’ve all had the “I can’t wait to grow up” thought when we were young. No one to tell us what to do, or what time to go to bed at night. No more being told to eat our vegetables or there’ll be no dessert.

What happened to that wonderful vision we had? Where did it all go wrong?

As kids we see adulthood as something glamorous, and it is in its own right. However, it also comes with huge responsibilities, more rules than we ever imagined, and we no longer get an allowance from our parents.

Some days we just want to be kids again. I know I have days like that.

But since we can’t turn back the clock that far (an hour yes, decades no) we must accept our fate and do what we can to more than just survive in this world.

Some have corporate jobs; others have public service jobs. Some love what they do; others not so much. And then there’s that group that enjoys their line of work, but they can’t quite afford to do the extras they’d like to. (This is the category I fit into.)

Enter the world of words and writing.

Photo courtesy of Canva Pro.

As a writer I can honestly say it’s one of the most rewarding side gigs to have. Whether you want to pursue it full-time or part-time, there is a place for you.

I write fiction for the most part, which is a nice little stream of passive income. I’m not popular enough in the fiction world to be able to make a living from my books though, and to be honest, I’m okay with that.

I have dabbled in writing for clients over the years but mostly through content mills. My piece of advice on them (content mills); be wary. You’ll never be paid what you’re worth as a writer and most will restrict your ability to advance or communicate directly with clients. I’m sure my articles have made clients hundreds if not thousands over the years, while my pay was single digit dollars.

It takes a lot of articles to make ends meet when writing for mere dollars. And time which could be better spent writing for clients who are willing to pay what you’re worth.

There is a better way, which I’m happy to have found. Granted I’m still learning some of the ropes, but I know I have what it takes.

As a writer I love the helping others aspect. I am not an extrovert and prefer not to do the salesy type writing. I would much rather inform and entertain (which is why I love writing fiction).

Not only that, I also don’t like being sold to. If I walk into a store and am greeted by a pushy salesperson, chances are high I’ll leave that store and not go back. Be helpful; not pushy.

And that is my focus with this website and my writing. To help others find their way in the writing world, even if they don’t think they can write. It’s an amazing way to earn some extra money or even replace an income where you’re trading time for dollars.

I have yet to hit the six-figure mark from my writing, but we all need start somewhere. My goal for 2020 is to surpass four-figures and with the guidance I have from some reputable advisors, I am confident I can do just that.

I have only dabbled in content marketing, but I am learning more about it all the time. And based on my research it is not only fun but also in high demand. I like to test my theories so am doing just that on my gardening site. It’s a relatively new site, but one which I am passionate about.

And at the end of the day, when I am earning a passive income from it, I’ll know I got it right.

To follow my journey as a content marketer and what it’s like to learn new skills on the downswing of a century, please follow this blog.

And to follow my journey as a gardener, please click here.

Thanks for reading. If you are interested in my writing services, let’s talk.