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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

When the squirrels don't show up

Updated: Mar 8

The squirrels aren't always on time. Some days, I throw peanuts out at 8 am, and they still haven't arrived for breakfast.

Since I can't readily identify each individual squirrel, I only know them by their behavior and mannerisms, I get worried that something has happened to Howard. Or Kevin. Or Ralph.

Side note: Howard may actually be Henrietta; we'll see if "he/she" keeps getting fatter as spring moves on.

The birds are usually already at the feeder, so their presence fulfills my morning coffee ritual.

But the squirrels provide a morning dose of humor, which makes my day lighter.

And then, for whatever reason, some mornings, Roomba doesn't start at 7 am.

The noise of Roomba turning on is the last alarm clock ring telling us it's time to get out of bed. Most mornings, it's annoying because I like sleeping. A lot.

But Roomba starting means I don't have to sweep the floors. It's a small win in the list of 1st-world problems, but it's huge for me. One less task for my day.

The same thing happens with my mom's dementia.

Yesterday I watched her on the house cameras do laundry, thoroughly clean up the kitchen, and care for her plants outside.

The day before, she could barely function. Her already diminished cognitive skills decided not to show up for the day.

I didn't see her eat, just drink glasses of milk. She didn't feed her cat, Buddy. She was wearing the same clothes as the day before. Many times during the day, she stood in one place and just stared off into the distance.

But, she just shines on good days, like her 80th birthday celebration in February at The Magic Kingdom.

The disease of dementia is vicious, and she'll begin to have more days where the skills she needs for her activities of daily living (ADLs) don't show up.

This saddens me because, as a long-distance caregiver, I can only do so much for her each day. On her not-so-good days, I want to provide for her as she has for me all these years.

Being a freelancer also means there will be days when things don't show up.

Like work.

There have been days this past week when there was just no work to do. On these days, I had to figure out what to do with my time.

I am a very productive person. By nature, I am accomplishment-driven. Remember that to-do list I mentioned? I make one every day and feel a sense of achievement as I tick off completed tasks.

So when I don't have income-producing work, I still need to be actively "working."

I feel like I am cheating on my business if I do housework instead of "company work."

With the exception of unloading the dishwasher or putting a load of clothes in the washing machine during a 10-minute break, I try not to do involved chores during weekdays. Nobody pays me to do housework, although I've often thought if they did, I'd be a millionaire by now.

During normal business hours, my focus needs to be on investing in

  • growing my business

  • following up with clients

  • learning

So when I need to "find something" to do when the workload is lean, I do these.

Update portfolio: I regularly review my past work and select the most client-relevant pieces to showcase in my portfolio. It's important that I ensure what I provide to potential clients through Google Drive or Adobe PDF is error-free and demonstrates my experience. When I complete a different type of job, like proofreading content for a mobile app, I add this new piece to my portfolio to show I have multi-genre editing skills.

Pitch new clients: Upwork is my preferred job board. I will often check LinkedIn, too, but have had a broader range of success freelancing my skills on Upwork. Starting next week, I'll be researching and reaching out to a specific type of client, alerting them to the value I could bring to their vision. A bit intimidating but exciting!

Learn new skills: This has been a large chunk of my time recently. In the past month, I've completed these courses/certifications:

By investing $110 in five courses, I acquired skills that will yield much higher returns than the initial cost. My clients can now expect an even greater level of value from my work as a result.

Network: I'm an introvert, so networking for me is "liking" someone's post on LinkedIn. But I recognize that networking can lead to new opportunities and help me stay up-to-date on industry trends. I signed up for a webinar, Email for Marketing for Experts: 52 Proven Techniques, which I'll join next week. I might even have a question or two to ask in their Q&A session. We'll see if I can get past my shyness.

Write for fun: Guess what I'm doing at the end of my workday on this rainy Friday? Writing this blog helps me stay creative and motivated. Who knows? Maybe one day, it will even lead to paid opportunities.

Seems like Jasper Cat is the only one willing to show up in the rain, but even that didn't last very long.

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