A Story of 60 Pounds

The first time I remember stepping on the scale and wanting to make the number smaller I weighed 140 pounds.

Today, I’m at the beginning of yet another new fitness program, planning meals and workouts with the most sincere hope I’ll be taking inches off my waist. Oh yeah, and I’m 200 pounds… how did I step on the scale, decide to lose weight and wake up six years later and 60 pounds heavier?

Well a lot happened in those six years. A lot of excuses about what was possible when trying to lose weight and live a healthy life. But also a lot of really valuable living.

I finished a joint major and got in to a graduate program. Two of those years I spent researching incarceration and finding myself in that grad program before deciding to move foreword with other projects.

I married Ben.

The growth I have experienced in the last six years is far greater than the growth I see on the scale.

But there was comfort eating, a few extra meals out with friends, and a whole lot of snacks.

None the less, it’s time to rewrite these pounds. It’s time to begin a chapter where the weight actually does come off.

So join me on this blog where, among other things, I will share my journey to a healthier lifestyle.

P.S. there’s an amazing community of people on this journey on instagram, follow my little corner of it at @fitish.kitten

Drop a comment and tell me: How much does fitness play a role in your life? Are you on your own fitness or weight loss journey, or perhaps you are focusing on other areas of your life. I want to hear all about it.

Carmen

Accidentally Polyamorous

The very first question I get when I reveal to people that my husband and I are dating another married couple is….”How on earth does something like that develop!?”

It’s a fair question, I mean when you’re married you aren’t exactly supposed to be thinking that someone else is attractive and how you might like to have a chance at dating them.

So how do 4 married people all break that rule together?

Well there’s the story we use when we don’t really want to explain: We are all very good friends and have been for years. The friendship was so close and we were all so supportive of each other that feelings it was something beyond friendship developed naturally and we’ve all consciously decided we would allow that to happen.

It’s not untrue at all, it just leaves out the actual moment when things changed. Well, the two moments.

First of all my best friend and I got wine drunk watching Game of Thrones and ended up very distracted by each other.  Even while heavily intoxicated we were having an open conversation with both of our husbands (who were present for the Game of Thrones viewing, of course) about the quickly developing interest my friend and I had in each other. They were both very okay with what was happening even though it didn’t involve them. They both knew that both of us were bisexual and accepted that having feelings for and attraction to each other didn’t change anything about the marriages.

Now, my friend and her husband had talked about having a more open relationship.  It is difficult to pin point a name – open, non-monogamous, monogamish, polyamorous…. there’s many names and formats for relationships that include more than two people.

My husband and I had not really talked about actively engaging in anything like this. In passing of course we had chatted about it. I would come home and say “Hey my friend —- has this cool relationship where they see more than one person on these terms. Have you ever wanted anything like that or thought about having us and something more?” The conclusion was always the same: He was open to something like that at some point but the time was never now. There was always enough love between us and we made each other so happy. We had more growing to do together before we wanted to seriously consider adding someone else in any arrangement.

Then, a few weeks after the Game of Thrones my husband tried to send a sexy message to me requesting I send something sexy back but, as happens from time to time with our phones, he missed my name and sent it to my best friend.

Of course we tease him about how that’s a great excuse for when you send your wife’s best friend a sexy message out of nowhere one Tuesday morning.

She immediately messaged me and asked what I thought – should she tease him? Ignore it as a mistake? Or fulfill the request just to see what he would even do?

He also messaged me right away to make sure I knew what had happened.

I was busy getting ready and told both of them to have fun with their conversation and that they should send to each other whatever they felt comfortable with. I trusted both of them and really just needed to get ready for work.

As they started to enjoy flirting and teasing each other my best friend texted me to say if her and my husband were getting to connect, I should send her husband a message. I did – to say that I was on my way to work but I had a little time to chat. We got to work on getting to know each other more than anything else but Tuesday wasn’t over yet.

After work my husband called and asked what I wanted to do about the days developments and getting caught up. I told him to bring KFC home and we could chat about where we were at and where we wanted it to go.

Once we decided that we were both interested in continuing the flirtation and taking our friendship in to something more we called our friends and went to their house.

We sat around the campfire redesigning our own marriages, and how we related to each other.  We formalized my best friend and I’s habit of hooking up in to a relationship we both acknowledged out loud, and agreed that we would also start seeing each others husbands.

A few weeks later we settled on the terms dating, boyfriend and girlfriend. We have been so happy together that sometimes it amazes even us.

And that’s the long answer to “How on earth does something like that develop!?”

 

Carmen

Self Care in the Gig Economy

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If your boss offered you more money, would you be like “nah, I need to stay home and not make money that day…” ?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

But what if you are your own boss? This is the self care challenge I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I decide what times to open for classes, and of course I open as much as I can stand to work in a day because I like getting those pay cheques.   My classes get booked about two weeks in advance, so it’s really reassuring to watch my next 7-14 days fill up and know that I’m going to keep making the income I need to look after my family.

But then there’s those days when the alarm goes off and I don’t want to get up and work. I open my classroom to greet my student and actually have to pause, take a deep breath and remind myself to smile. This isn’t normal for me.

I love teaching. I love my students. I’m genuinely happy in the moment while I’m working.

Until I get run down and start feeling burnt out, tired, and unmotivated.

That’s when I know it’s time to take a break for self care.  Not a long break – I tend to work 7 days a week so when I start feeling run down I know its time for a weekend or two off. But to do that I’m literally saying “I am okay with not making money during a time when I could be. I’m going to take that time to technically do nothing instead.”

When that Friday or Saturday work time comes around and I’m watching a movie instead of making money, it’s a challenging conundrum. In that very moment, and even in the days leading up to my time off, I tell myself “I’m fine, I would benefit more from the financial security so I should just open the times.”

I can easily take time off when there’s an event or plans I want to prioritize. But those things don’t give my mind or spirit any rest. If I take a day off to go to a concert and work the other 6 days, I have fun but I don’t take a break.

It can be challenging to prioritize ourselves, whether you work a 9-5 where it’s probably your job to, in some way or form, make other people’s days easier or if you work for yourself and control your own schedule… it’s really hard to say no to work and financial security to take the bubble bath, get your nails or hair done, sleep a little longer or just breathe easy for 24 hours, assessing your own needs instead of everyone else’s.

There’s no easy answer. There’s no three steps to self care without a second thought. The best I can offer is to follow some accounts on your social media that might post positive, self care oriented content that will remind you to look after yourself. And when you hear that voice in the back of your head saying “You’re fine, just push on and keep working.” You have the right to fight that voice a little bit and put yourself first.

 

Carmen

 

 

Find your Hustle: Living life Gig to Gig

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The gig economy is not your mama’s 9-5 job.  People working in the gig economy are found under any number of names – they are contractors, entrepreneurs, and artists.  They also have traditional job titles – editor, writer, developer, coder – but still operate as freelancers, outside the corporate structure.

The gig economy is about saying “Hey, I have this skill or service that I can offer for a fee.” And then offering it to a range of different clients instead of producing work only for one company.  There’s not a lot of emphasis on consistency in who you work for. In the gig economy, you’re looking for the next client, the next contract, the next “gig”. It is that constant seeking that defines and propels your career.

It can be a lot more interesting and a lot more rewarding than waking up every day to go do the same thing for the same company.  that said, you give up the security and consistency that comes with “a real job”.

Oh, and you start dealing with people referring to your work as something other than “a real job”.

This is how I’m working.  Have I reached massive success? Am I a gig-made millionaire? Nope. But I do make a living that at the end of the day, pays my bills and affords me a good life.

If you’re struggling to make the 9-5 grind work for you, but not really sure where to begin with the gig economy, here’s what you need to know.

1. You need more than one thing you can offer, at least in the beginning.

Down the road, you might have one thing that you are absolutely exceptional at, can charge a substantial fee for and can find, then build a large clientele with. Until you have a reliable and consistent flow of clients willing to pay your bills for that exceptional skill focus on diversity along with quality.

I’m gonna note here, it wouldn’t hurt to know which of the multiple skills you offer isyour end goal.  I have a few different services I offer but if I could turn 1 in to my full time job and stop doing the other things I know which one I’d pick.  It isn’t that I don’t like the other things – I love them. It’s about keeping a note of which thing you love the most.

I work with an online company teaching English as a Second Language.  They provide the virtual classroom and connect me to clients who pay for their service, and they pay me based on the number of classes I teach in a month. This is my most reliable income because I have around 350 clients who subscribe to my schedule and consistently take classes with me.

But I also type very quickly, so I do some transcribing work to pad out my bank account on weeks when holidays or other things lower the number of classes I am booked for.

I even had a small direct sales business.  You can call it a pyramid scheme or “multi level marketing” – either way – it’s where hobby meets the potential for income. I wasn’t climbing to the top of this pyramid but I was able to share the product with friends and see a little bit of income. It was the least reliable of my income streams and so I didn’t depend on it, I just enjoyed it for what it was.
*I decided I really didn’t have time for it after the company made some big changes.

I work with an Etsy business as their social media and customer service guru.

I work with a Toronto based accessory brand as their social media extraordinaire.

And I am still always keeping my eye out for opportunities that match what I like in my work and fit my schedule.

Maybe someday I will be a superstar something (I am slowly building in this direction but the biggest truth of all: nothing happens overnight!) and not need to teach or transcribe but right now, I enjoy the variety of work from day to day. Also, more importantly, having multiple streams of income makes up for the fact that a big issue with most gigs is that there’s no security. If that teaching company or transcription company I work with goes out of business there’s no severance for me. I’m just an independent contractor for them, they don’t owe me anything. Ever. So to protect myself from their potential loss of business becoming my loss of income, I stay diverse.

2. Ask for Opportunity

So you know you’d be great at x, y and z. And you really think people would probably pay you to do that for them. Awesome! What now?

Well depending on what you want to get paid to do a website is a good start.  Most people who hire people like to have websites and social feeds they can browse that will give them more information about what they’re paying for, and instill their confidence in your ability to meet their expectations.

After that, you’ve gotta tell them you’re available for hire.

Fun fact: I once messaged a company on Instagram to say I loved their product but noticed they weren’t posting much. I offered my services as a social media manager and one phone call later we agreed to work together.

It was a risk, it was a random observation and message, and it paid off to tell that company I was available and could do something they needed.

Now, I don’t make a habit of messaging people suggesting they need me. I don’t recommend it as your only strategy for getting clients. But do start talking about your work being available, do be visible in your industry and do advertise your skills as if you’ve never had a moment of self-doubt.

3. You don’t like the 9-5 grind, but you’re gonna have to work sometime.

My teaching clients are in many different time zones so I am often awake well before and long after my partners, working away in my home office. Yes, I can book a day off whenever I want and don’t need approval from a boss. True, I work from the comfort of my home, sometimes in my pjs (shhh), and I do choose when I work – to an extent. I have the power to open or not open a class time, but I am limited by the times my students actually want to take a class. Hint: it’s not always at a convenient afternoon hour for me. So while I don’t work 9-5, sometimes I work 4am-10pm and laugh at all the people who think the gig economy or working from home means sleeping in.

Where’s my tea?

4. You have to believe that you’re worth hiring.

It’s easy with a lot of mainstream jobs. Look at the job descriptions, see the requirements as a check list. Does it match your resume? If so – great. You can submit an application and walk into an interview knowing you deserve this. You’re qualified for this. There’s no good reason not to hire you.

But when you’re under the title independent contractor you have to know what it is you offer, and feel confident that a) people do need your service, and b) you’re damn good at what you do.

Sometimes, like when I messaged that company on instagram, you actually have to sell the client on the need before you can sell them on your service to meet that need.

There’s no checklist most of the time. There’s no roadmap that you can compare to yourself and take confidence from.

So be prepared to market yourself, continually network and make yourself available to new clients, and move on without taking it personally when a client relationship doesn’t blossom the way you would have liked.

5. Competition is INSANE. Ignore it.

I’m sorry if you figured there were really only a small number of people chasing this entrepreneurial dream.  We all have different ways, different services, different methods… but there’s a lot of us in this game. As soon as you start you’ll see, it will find you.

As soon as I started just casually mentioning social media management online I got flooded with paid ads from other social media marketers.  It sort of makes you pause and wonder if you can really do this. I hadn’t even thought about running paid ads yet!

But those moments of doubt or moments when I felt like I was surrounded by competition didn’t stop me from getting hired to start and they won’t stop me from getting hired in the future.

I said earlier you’ve gotta believe in yourself.  So when it comes to the competition, focus on your own hustle and ignore the rest.

These are my top 5 pieces of advice from right here in the comfort of my home office. Subscribe to stay in touch and catch more of my work from home musings and advice.