I’m 30 Weeks Pregnant!

Today marks 30 weeks of pregnancy! He kicks all the time, but especially at night or early in the morning when I’m just waking up.

I haven’t had any food cravings lately, and the acid reflux is much more tame than it was a couple of weeks ago. I’m feeling more and more like a mama every day with the reality of his birth coming closer and closer.

A pregnant lady is going to struggle from time to time. Whether she struggles under the weight of fatigue, a busy work schedule, or social obligations (most likely, all three), she is comforted by the kicks of a little life inside her. I have certainly felt insecure at times, but I’ve found that – over all – pregnancy really is a time for nothing but joy and celebration.

Here’s what’s on my to-do list for this week:

1) Organize Baby Clothes

We already have Grey’s clothes for up to around four months! Lots of onesies, adorable hats, and matching pants are carelessly shoved into drawers in my closet. I’ve gotten them out to show my family so many times that I was tired of folding them neatly every single time. It’s time for that to change.

2) Prepare Labor Bag

While I already have most of what I need for my labor bag, I still need to make sure every comfort is considered. I don’t want to be that prego lady who doesn’t prepare for the unexpected! Plus, I may as well start keeping a labor bag with me at all times because you never know when the real due date is going to be, right?

3) Write Grey a Letter

I’ve been wanting to do this my whole pregnancy. Perhaps it comes to mind now because he’s so big and it feels so real that we’re actually going to be parents! I’d like to write him a letter while he’s still in the womb, telling him how much I love him, how blessed I feel to be his mom, and how excited we are to welcome him into this world. I’m sure my husband would love to write him a letter, too. 

If you all can think of anything else I need in my labor bag or something you wish you had done during this last trimester, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

❤ ❤ ❤

Bay

Questions to Ask Before You Start Working from Home

If you feel like you’re right on the brink of making the decision to work from home, ask yourself these questions:

1) Will I miss being around other people every day?
Because I enjoy being alone most of the time, it’s no problem for me to socialize only with the dog all day until my husband comes home. If you’re a more social person, you might want to do a test run to see how you like being home all day. Keep in mind that if you work from home, you can pretty much work anywhere else, too. Coffee shops contain people, as do restaurants, libraries, and even parks. The cool thing about “working from home” is that you can tailor your environment to suit your personality.

2) Is the freedom worth the extra work?
Whether you work for a company or you make money as a freelancer, having a flexible working location is always going to mean extra work for you. This extra work comes in the form of increasing your prioritization skills, slashing distractions, and generally being a more self-motivated and disciplined person than you’ve ever had to be working in an office. Because you won’t have another person looking over your shoulder at all times, you’ll have to remind yourself to keep going when you want to nap, snack, or turn on the TV.

3) Will you be able to separate home life from work life?
I won’t lie: I have yet to master the art of completely separating my home life and my work life.  It really seems impossible when you’re a wife and mother. But because I enjoy my work, it’s not difficult to find reasons to knuckle down on writing and editing as a “break” from doing laundry and cleaning floors. As a soon-to-be stay-at-home mother, I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to work from home so that I can “ride both horses,” so to speak. I do find, however, that I have to set a timer to keep myself from mixing the two roles and forgetting to complete tasks associated with each one. I know that after Grey is born, my work style will be much more challenging to nail down, but I’m excited to adapt. It’s all worth it!

4) Will you find time for everything?
This is a biggy. By “everything,” I mean: housework, work tasks, social obligations, church functions, family time, personal fitness, and general daily upkeep. If you’re like me, you might be likely to obsess over one component of your life and forget all the rest from time to time. I’ve done that several times; but it only leaves me feeling worse. So what if I’ve achieved a fitness goal if it came at the price of leaving dishes in the sink for three days? It’s also very easy for me to drag my feet at the thought of going to a social event because I have so much work to do at home, whether it’s catching up on housework or finishing those blog posts requested by a client. If I am careful to prioritize and use my time wisely, I’ll have plenty of time to enjoy social outings without feeling guilty that the house is dirty or my clients are waiting on me.

Believe me, I am thrilled to be able to work from home as a freelance writer. That’s why I want to give you the unabridged version of what it’s like to do what I do. I encourage you to pursue working from home so you can enjoy the many benefits it offers.

Perhaps you already work from home yourself, and you have some things to add to this list. If so, drop me a line at freebendwellness@gmail.com! I’d love to hear from you.

What I’ve Learned in Three Months as a Freelance Writer

I began freelance writing in the end of November, 2015. I kind of fell into it, to be honest. I made a profile on Upwork.com and was surprised when I started getting job offers. The opportunity to work from home writing website copy, sales emails, blog posts, and articles has been a tremendous blessing. I love working in my own space even more than I thought I would!

During these three months as a freelance writer, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. There’s no way I could have known these things before, and I’m certain that many more lessons will come my way before summer begins and little Grey (!) is born.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the past three months.

1) Write Quickly

The ability to write quickly is essential to getting paid quickly. Most clients pay freelance writers by the word count, which means that if you’re able to knock out more words per hour, you’ll get paid more per hour. Not only should your hourly word count be as high as possible, but you should also strive to maintain high-quality writing output.

Don’t be afraid to take a step back, work on something else, and then come back to a piece. I’ve often done this when I feel stumped. Words tend to come more quickly when I look at a draft with fresh eyes.

Clients LOVE IT when you return finished work in a timely manner. It will boost your rapport, help your ratings, and ensure that more work comes pouring in for you. Don’t wait until the established “deadline” to finish a project. Try to establish a realistic (but ambitious) turn-around time and stick to it flawlessly. Make quickness a top priority in your daily work life.

2) Communicate Clearly with Clients

I worked with a client on a product review in the month of December. Because I’d had several clients before who didn’t give me much instruction and were still pleased with the work I did, I didn’t think to make sure I understood this particular client’s desires. I submitted the product review (which was rather long and required some research) and the client had a lot of edits. There were many things that needed to be changed because the client was expecting something different.

The misunderstanding created a lot of mixed feelings and wasted time for me and probably a great deal of frustration for the client. I believe the client would have given me more work if our collaboration had been easier. I wish I had been more proactive in learning what was expected in the project.

3) Cut off Time-Wasting Work

When you’re a freelance writer, there will be a lot of people who will try to hire you for pennies per hour. Sometimes you have to pay your dues and work for little pay just to gain experience, but you should be able to pay your own bills. I’ve had a client since December who not only pays better than any other clients I’ve had, but is also always ready with more work when I complete an assignment. I made the mistake in the last few months of putting work from this client on the back-burner and focusing on the lower-paying work just because I found the lower-paying work enjoyable.

Instead of knocking out writing assignments from the high-paying client long before the established deadline, I would work endlessly on the other articles, trying (and failing) to increase my speed and research time. If I had realized how pointless this cycle had been, I would have worked harder at keeping my higher-paying client happy and satisfied with my work.

4) Rest When You Need To

It’s easy to get burnt out when you work from home. Your work space is also the place in which you relax, eat, and sleep. If you need a rest from work, sometimes the best way to get that is to leave home. There will always be laundry, dishes, and cleaning at home, too. If you catch yourself feeling unmotivated, try taking a day off to spend time shopping, eating out, or just strolling through the neighborhood.

When you return to your at-home desk, review your career goals and make a clear-headed, well-rested plan to keep going.

5) Keep Moving Forward

Always move forward. Don’t allow any minor project to keep you from moving forward as a writer. If you see that your labor is not profitable in one area, move on to the next. You haven’t failed; you’re just experiencing growing pains.

If you’re looking into a career as a freelance writer, I hope these lessons will help you to avoid some of the hurdles I’ve run into so far. Do you have anything you’d like to add to this list? Is there something you do to keep yourself motivated as you work from home? Please share! I’d love to hear from you.

REAL Reasons to Embrace Fitness

Fitness shouldn’t be about vanity or insecurity. I’m not a fan of ad campaigns that play on people’s vanity to get them to pursue fitness. Being fit is a reward in itself; it doesn’t need to be propped up by inordinate amounts of muscle gain or obsessive fat loss.

My fitness philosophy revolves around the idea that the body is designed to perform athletic feats. If the end goal is not possessing the ability to run faster or farther, lift heavier, jump higher, or bend further, there’s little point in pursuing a fitness goal. I know that some people will disagree with me, but if you want to know my reasons for being strong and fit, read on. 🙂 You might find they’re more psychologically pleasing than the constant race for a smaller jeans size or larger biceps.

fitness

1) Your Body Was Made for It

Your body was made to be fit! It was made to perform, to work hard, to gain muscle. When you come to the realization that every muscle in your body has a specific purpose and has the ability to be strengthened, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start giving your muscles more work to do a lot sooner!

2) Your Body Might Surprise You

Formation of habit requires muscle memory. Just as it might be a habit for you to go to the fridge in search of food at a certain time of day or brush your teeth first thing in the morning, so exercise is a habit that forms out of constant repetition. When you make it a priority to do a certain amount of physical activity every day, your body will reward your efforts by eventually reminding you on its own. Fitness is a lifestyle.

(I’ve also heard that it takes around 21 days for your body to form a habit. If you’re like me, you have to do something every single day if you’re going to do it at all. Start moving today, and in three weeks, you’ll do it automatically! Just don’t slack off!)

3) You Have Your Own Athletic Gifts

I don’t believe there are any non-athletic people in this world. Every person has the ability to be an athlete in some way. I may not be the best swimmer, but I can run. I have friends who hate to run, but are great swimmers. The key to nurturing your body with fitness is finding something that is natural and fun for you and pursuing it whole-heartedly. To be fit, you don’t have to run. You also don’t have to lift really heavy weights or be able to do a pull-up. Whatever your own personal goals are, pursue them and constantly strive to reach new heights.

4) It’s Not About How You Look

As I’ve said before, I really don’t like how the fitness industry (and seemingly every other industry in this culture) places so much emphasis on how people look. The point of investing in your body’s ability to perform athletically is not to be more attractive. You’re likely to find that being fit and strong makes you feel more confident in your own skin, but striving to attain a certain look for your body should not be the goal.

The root of this vanity-driven motivation is usually comparison to others. And we all know that comparing ourselves to others only steals our joy. You are you. You’re not that tall, skinny girl you disliked in high school or the quarterback who always seemed to get more attention than you did. You should only ever want to be you! If you don’t like yourself, now’s the time to fix that. Start achieving things and stop thinking about what everyone else has that you think makes them superior to you. They’re not superior. They’re just different.

6) You Can Do It!

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to pursue fitness is that you CAN. No matter what physical limitations you face, you can be more fit. Just think of all the incredible souls who faced seemingly insurmountable odds and accomplished athletic feats (professional surfer Bethany Hamilton comes to mind).

If you’re looking for a reason to start pursuing a fitness goal, stop looking and just do it. You will be rewarded every day for the rest of your life. Fitness is a wonderful blessing to be had by all.

You might have already experienced the life-changing rewards of investing in fitness. If you have a story of your own to share, please comment! I’d love to hear from you!