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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.

The Art of Versatility

Definition of Versatile: having ability in many different fields.

Do you excel in one field or can you manage being faced with different challenges?

I’ll be the first to admit it: I enjoy a little variety. It is perhaps the reason why I seem to have different things going on at any one time.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

When it comes to adding to your bank account (or sock drawer) pursuing a part-time venture in something you don’t normally do is a good thing. Not only does it increase your bottom line, it also helps to avoid total burnout.

Can you imagine spending all day at your job as an accountant, then going home and spending another few hours doing books on the side? Not only would you spend your life working with numbers, the several hours seated at a desk each day is sure to have a negative impact on your health.

Depending on what your day-time job is and where you live, there are many options available to you. If you are at a desk all day and live in an urban area, perhaps you could earn a few extra dollars by walking dogs for people who work late.

Or if you’re a construction worker and look forward to some quiet time, perhaps a sideline business of selling bedding plants is more up your alley.

No matter what you choose, be sure it’s something you enjoy.

My job as a part-time library assistant has me inside for my entire shift, with a lot of that time spent at the computer or shelving books. When I get home, I don’t want to spend more hours at my computer. I like to crochet, read or spend time outside. And if I am on my computer it’s because I’m working on adding articles to my gardening website.

The subject of versatility leads to what your hobbies are. Are they something you can write about? Or share with others?

Getting older doesn’t have to mean staying “stuck” in the same routine. It means doing more of what you enjoy and even making a few extra dollars doing it.

By this point of life most people have had their hand in a variety of jobs, tasks and interests. I know that’s how it has been for me. One thing that hasn’t changed though is my ability to earn a little extra cash whenever I need it. Sometimes it has been by selling digital products I have created; other times it has been by providing a service (such as bookkeeping or childcare). And still other times it has been by operating farm equipment.

My point is no matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something that’s going to give you what you want and expect.

As I get older, I value my time more and want to have more say in how I spend it. Being a writer (my superpower) gives me the flexibility, and having different interests gives me the versatility.

What’s your superpower?

Merry Christmas!

Designed on CanvaPro.

Merry Christmas to all!

It has been a busy few days with putting the finishing touches on the decorating, final gift wrapping and family meals.

Last night my kids (both in their twenties) and my father-in-law joined us for supper, along with my daughter’s boyfriend. It was a fun evening and we all ate much too much (as always seems to happen when we cook so much).

Today we went to my younger sister’s house and enjoyed more family time, ate too much and took family pictures in front of the Christmas tree. I was blessed with gifts on my list, but the family time is much more important.

The day also marks the sixth Christmas without Dad and the second without Mom. I miss them being with us but as is said, “life does go on”.

I think the best thing this year is I was able to spend both Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day with my kids. They usually split the time between their dad’s place and with us, but this year their dad went to spend Christmas with his in-laws a couple provinces away. For that I am grateful.

Tomorrow will be a day of relaxation and making room in my kitchen for the new dessert dishes, gravy boat and coffee press. I may or may not have to do some rearranging in my cupboards.

The older I get the more I prefer practical gifts. It’s better to have something a person can use and enjoy than something that gets tucked away in a drawer or closet.

In less than a week we’ll be ringing in the new year. I have set some goals for 2020 which involve increasing my client base, creating a new passive income stream and spending more time with family. I’m excited to make 2020 my best year yet and look forward to sharing my progress.

What are your plans for 2020?

5 Ways to Cut Down on Holiday Stress

I made this wreath for the door earlier this afternoon. It has also been posted on my Instagram accounts so if you follow me there, that’s why it probably looks very familiar. Merry Christmas!

Here we are, a week from Christmas Day. It’s hard to believe it has crept up so quickly.

I don’t know about you but I always feel more stressed this time of year than any other. Perhaps it’s because of all the expectations we have of others and ourselves, or perhaps because it’s just so busy.

As I get older I try not to get so stressed out over it because let’s face it; it will come and go whether we’re ready or not. This year I have found a few ways to deal with the stress a little easier. Granted this list may be a little late for some this year, but it’s ‘food for thought’ for other holidays too.

  1. Take some ‘you’ time. I am someone who feels I need to be doing something every waking moment, whether it be reading, working, writing, crafting or household responsibilities. If I’m not doing something I feel guilty. Take a few minutes in the evening to relax and unwind with your beverage of choice, a good book or your favourite TV show. It’s amazing what some quiet time will do to regenerate a person.
  2. Delegate some of the work. If you’re the person hosting Christmas Dinner, it’s okay to ask for others to contribute to the meal. In my family my younger sister is hosting but we’re all taking a favourite dish to help out. I’m taking the popular Broccoli Salad and some baking. Not only will it be less meal preparation for her, but she’ll be able to enjoy the pre-meal visiting without being stuck in the kitchen the entire time.
  3. Enjoy the time together. We decided a few years ago to eat, visit, open gifts then do the cleanup. Of course some of the food needs to be refrigerated relatively quickly, but that’s all that gets done right after the meal. Take the time to visit with each other, play games and watch the kids enjoy their new toys. Dad always said Christmas is for kids and I see now he was right. The dishes won’t be going anywhere so if they don’t get washed right away it’s not the end of the world.
  4. Set a budget. I know most of you reading this will have all of your shopping done by now. I always stress out over how much I’m spending so this year I set a budget for each person and stuck to it. Our family gift exchange is a Secret Santa one with a thirty-five dollar limit which is doable for everyone. Of course I have a little higher limit for my kids as well as a limit for their significant others. I finished my shopping on Monday and as I bought for each person I crossed them off the list. That way I wasn’t spending more than I could afford.
  5. Pay cash or use your debit card. The holiday sales tempt us into buying more than we should. Anyone with a credit card knows just how dangerous that can be. I set money aside this year for Christmas shopping and paid with either cash or using my debit card. I’m not going to have the huge credit card bills that many others will have, so that alone will cut down on the after-holiday stress as well.

The true spirit of Christmas is for spending time with family and friends. You don’t need to break the bank to impress anyone. Do what you can and don’t fret about what you can’t do. The holidays are meant for laughter, sharing a meal (or three) and enjoying the time together. Don’t let the advertisements on TV tempt you into spending more than you can afford.

In closing I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the season bring joy, good tidings and wonderful memories. And please remember, if you drink don’t drive.

What They Say Is True

Have you ever heard anyone say the older you get, the faster time flies?

I used to think they were just using it as a figure of speech, but I now see how much truth there is to it. It seems like just yesterday I was getting home from Calgary, and it’s already three-quarters of the way through November. If I’m not careful I’m going to wake up and be eighty-something, and not know where the past thirty years have gone. Now that is a scary thought.

My time has not been wasted however. I have been brushing up on learning Canva so I can make more printables for my Etsy Shop plus design my own postcards, worksheets and brochures. It’s a good skill to know and the more I use it the better I’ll be.

In addition to the above I’ve also picked up some extra shifts at work while our manager is away enjoying a much-deserved vacation. I don’t mind the extra shifts though, because it will help offset the two weeks we’re closed through Christmas holidays.

And speaking of Christmas, I committed myself to having a table at our local Christmas Market. I’m changing up my wares a little this year because there are other vendors with crocheted items. I don’t like to step on anyone’s toes so am adding some woodburned items to my table. Plus the handspun alpaca yarn and dryer balls should find new homes.

Volunteers are an integral part of any community, especially a small one like ours. It has been decided to update our area history, so I have taken on the role of website moderator and newspaper article contributor. Our little committee of five all bring something different to the table; my expertise is the computer and writing side. As the information starts trickling in, I foresee some editing required as well.

Designed on Canva. It’s pretty basic compared to some of the designs I have seen created (and have created of my own).

The reason for mentioning the history book project is because it ties in with time flying. The first was done in 1983 so it’s time to update it. If we don’t take the time to do it now, much of our history will be gone when the elderly pass on and are no longer able to tell their stories. Preserving history is important; even moreso when the younger generation doesn’t seem to have an interest in it. I do have to say though, I’m sure I was the same at their age.

Do you find the time passing by quickly, or is it moving along just as you expect?