UVEF Newsletter :: EDITORIAL

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UVEF Newsletter :: EDITORIAL

As my kids would say, “Are we there yet?” Has the New-Economy-Fallout
Recession officially hit the U.S.? In my case there’s no need to check
newspaper headlines — email and voicemail have already relayed that message
loud and clear. For the past two years, my top revenue stream has been
freelance writing, and within three weeks I heard from my top clients that my
steady “gigs” were over — one from a re-org and the other from a company
closing its door for good. My reaction?

Hmmm…after denial comes anger, then… No, actually, I surprisingly skipped
from disappointment straight to acceptance. Real fast. In fact, lately I’ve
been waking up with a whole lot less on my mind, and I’m feeling more
physically healthy and professionally hopeful than I have been in a long
time. Could be because amidst this news I also happily turned in the
manuscript for “The Entrepreneurial Parent: How to Earn Your Living at Home
in the Internet Age and Still Enjoy Your Family, Your Life and Your Work” —
which for the past 9 months has alternated between being the most exciting
and the most overwhelming project I have tackled in a very long time.
Ironically enough, the publisher’s deadline was April 15 — a date I had
requested last year to ride the productive energy of annual tax season, but
which I didn’t realize at the time happened to fall on Easter Sunday in 2001.
Boxing the ms. up and shipping it off on Good Friday, being free to shift
focus wholeheartedly to my family and the holiday weekend the next morning,
set my heart and spirit at ease. It could even be said that I felt like a
part of me has been “resurrected.”

And now that all this has come and gone, the subtitle to the EP book carries
with it a whole new dimension to me. With the “Internet Age” currently
fraught with large holes to trip over or fall into, how does an EP “still
enjoy one’s family, life and work”? What does an EP — an independent worker
who can be subject to *several* “pink slips” all at once — do during
recessionary times? I have a three-pronged approach, which I’ve already set
into action. In my case, I am:

:: Re-connecting.

Among my “2001 New Years Resolutions” was the following item:
“Meet all my deadlines this year without stressing everybody else out.”
Needless to say I failed this resolution miserably. I don’t remember another
time in my EP-life that I have made a bigger mess of things in the wake of a
heavy EP-workload. Over the winter months I have angered, frustrated,
insulted or otherwise miffed just about anyone who had to come within the
perimeter of my calendar — relatives, friends, neighbors, academic teachers,
extra-curric. teachers, doctors, home improvement vendors, you name it. All
this commotion was not due to head-on confrontations but rather careless
scheduling conflicts. As I laser-focused on deadline dates, I feel like a
1001 other dates fell through the cracks. And every time I realized I slipped
— from a missed birthday party to the night I forgot it was my turn to
homeschool my son’s religious ed group (!) — my heart dropped a beat.
So my first “order of business” after this last deadline crunch is no
business at all. It’s reconnecting with everyone around me. It’s cleaning up
after my mess — not with broad strokes but slowly, one phone call at a time.
And most important, it’s earning my trust back in *myself* before I could
expect the same of anyone else.

:: Regrouping.

The week after Easter my four kids were off on Spring break. The week prior
to Easter I hadn’t time to even open my mail. Everything, and I mean
everything that was on a piece of paper and did not relate to office work
piled up on the dining room table – school papers (from three different
schools!), mail, magazines, newspapers, library books, receipts, cards and
invitations, and more. When my mother invited us to stay a day or two during
vacation at her house in Long Island, I found a big empty cardboard box and
dumped my whole dining room (minus the furniture) into it. I could barely
lift the box into the trunk of the van. Once at my Mom’s, I requested two
hours of time alone in my old bedroom, dumped the box’s contents, and started
sorting.and dumping. By the time we packed the car up to return home, the
box was filled with organized piles of information, clipped or rubber-banded
together. The box felt lighter, and so did I.

Some day soon I will take that now-empty-again box and fill it back up with
my office papers. They too have piled up, with a good many no longer useful
as I shift from building on prior assignments and editor relationships to
acquiring new ones. The sooner I start organizing and dumping, the even
lighter I will feel. As a long-time EP, the process of “regrouping” is a
familiar one, and a cycle of development I consider professional progress.
And keeping an eye on progress is key to turning transitional times into just

:: Recouping.

Yesterday it was an unseasonal 85 degrees out. A friend and I headed for the
town beach and took in an afternoon of sun while my five-year old tried to
bury himself in the sand. After a long winter of pressing deadlines,
professional upheavals and a calendar heavy with missed appointments, a
“sabbatical” of sorts feels just about right,at least right now. My primary
agenda for this Spring and Summer is to recoup — spending the Spring in
celebration of my son’s First Communion and three children’s graduations, and
the last Summer of being a mom to an official “pre-schooler” — and then
charging full-speed ahead into the Fall work season when all my children (or
nearly all) will be in full-time school.

While I am aware that I am lucky enough to have the option of *not* working
for a few weeks or even months, I am also aware that as a family we’ve become
dependent on my second income and so my “sabbatical” needs to be short-lived.
However, before diving into another cycle of enjoying my “work” I need to
take a well-earned stretch of time out to enjoy my “family” and my “life.”
After all, that’s what our book…and being an EP…is all about.

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