Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘freelance’

The unbearable silliness of being

I can't believe I work this hard to be this poorToday is not a great day. In fact, it’s the tail end of a not-a-great-fortnight, following hard on the heels of a not-great-month before.

What makes it so “not-great”, you ask? The simplest, silliest of things: cold, hard cash. Or rather, the lack thereof.

Not too long ago I was having a heart-to-heart with a good friend, and I was explaining how lucky I felt to have such simple problems. Really, our only challenge is a lack of cash flow. We have a wonderful, happy family. We rent a beautiful home in an amazing part of the world, for a very reasonable monthly fee. We have great health (sorta), and no scandals or drama to speak of.

But today I am less enthusiastic about our so-called “simple problem”.

To tell the truth, I’m downright despondent.

The essence of it is that I am the breadwinner, and I haven’t been paid (pretty much at all) by my clients in two months. There’s no reason for it, bar a poor economy, and the unfortunate knock-on effect of my clients not having been paid by their clients, who haven’t been paid by their clients, and so on. It’s not the result of non-delivery or poor workmanship on my part. In fact, they’re delighted with my work, referring me to all their friends and associates, and apologising profusely for the delayed payment. They love my work! They just can’t pay for it. Which would be okay …

But it’s all of them. All at once.

And we have no buffer. There are no credit cards or overdrafts or provident funds or savings accounts we can raid. We’ve even exhausted all the Banks-of-Dad we’ve ever had access to.

Yes, I hear you gasp out there in Internetland. How very heedless and poorly planned. Unwise. Foolhardy. Stupid.

We weren’t always like this. We had savings and budgets (for the next twelve years!) and planny-plans. We had medical aid and insurance (household, vehicle and life). We had money set aside for education. We had in-store credit and bank credit cards. We owned cars and houses. (Well, A house. But still. We owned it). And even when we ventured into self-employment it was far less seat-of-your-pants than it sounds. We had those savings I mentioned. We had resources. I did my research, I had my client base. I had another of those shiny planny-plans.

And I had faith. Scads of it. I believed my friends when they sold me businesses that would make us rich. (Free advice, kids: no one ever sells a SUCCESSFUL business. Why would they? If it’s for sale, step away slowly and tear up that cheque). I believed that our combined experience and wisdom and determination and work ethic and sheer grit would never fail us. I believed in our support systems, and the kindness of human nature. And I believed that, by doing my bit for God, He’d provide for me. Now, to be fair, the Bible doesn’t actually teach that. But churches do. Pastors do. Serve in Sunday School, pay your tithe and be faithful whenever the doors are open or there’s a job to be done, and you can’t but be blessed. It’ll all work out.

Pah.

That approach leaves you over-extended, over-committed, burnt-out and bitter.

As it stands, I work all the time. From sun up to midnight. It never seems to end, Monday to Sunday. And I just can’t believe I have to work this hard to be this poor. For certain, I am doing something horribly wrong. Something foolish. Something unwise. But what in the world is it? No one seems to know. People offer platitudes: “It’ll come right.” “April is never a good time for small business.” “The economy is bad.” “The fault is with the customer, not with you.”

Pah. Again.

It’s not even as if our expenses are enormous, and they’d be even less without the sea-anchor of debt we’ve chained to ourselves in the last few business collapses. Having closed three businesses already makes me reluctant to close a fourth – and anyway, how would I support us if I did? I feel like Ross Gellar in Friends: serial divorcer, although the consequences are somewhat more devastating. (At least, so it seems to me).

So, if anyone out there has any ideas on how to get clients to pay, or get paying clients for what is generally acknowledged to be really great content creation, or how to make ends meet AND get sleep AND spend time with my kids, I’m all ears.

Seriously.

 

Lesson #8: Redeeming the Time.

As always, when our Teacher speaks, He speaks from everywhere. It’s as if there’s a giant cosmic megaphone He uses to blast His message through the universe to our waiting ears. And He’s bought all the billboard real estate from all the advertising moguls, and populated them all with His message. You know the one? That one that seems tailor-made just for you?

As I have been pondering the state of my current life: broke, busy, burnt-out and blustery, I’ve been trying to see how it can be my fault. This has been, for the most part, an honest search. What am I doing wrong in the physical and/or spiritual realms that would lead to this impasse? Is it a trial designed to strengthen me? A punishment for unrecognised or unconfessed sin? The natural result of foolish decisions? Is this simply what adult life is like? And if so, why don’t “they” warn you before you get here?

After a good deal of contemplation, I think it may be a combination of all of the above, plus an heretofore uncredited player: Poor Time Management. Procrastination, my folks called it.

As we work towards our long term goal of full time ministry, it is reasonable that our faith should be tried and proved. (James 1:12 – “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”).

Some of our previous decisions and actions have been foolish and even sinful, depending on your interpretation of the book of Proverbs. Certainly, without decisive corrective action, no improvement could be hoped for, and we surely can’t keep making those mistakes and hope for blessings. (Prov. 9:8b – “Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee“).

Whatever we may have been led to believe about adulthood, no one actually said it would be any less than hard work, punctuated by the blissful joys faith, family and friends provide.

But the real player on tonight’s stage, and the subject of this week’s lesson, is time management. I realise that this may come as a shock to many of you (ahem) but I am easily distracted and a pretty poor manager of my time. Between news, newsletters, emails, recipes, great ideas and hilarious cats, not to mention adorable children and entertaining siblings and staff, most of my day is accounted for. I try to spend time with both Papa Bear and the Teacher Himself each day, and of course I need to maintain my household and feed my family. And by that time it’s after 10PM and I’m composing blog posts instead of working – or sleeping! (Prov. 6:6-11).

I am trying to be more orderly, more disciplined. I am trying to live a healthier life that includes more sleep, more exercise, more quality time with my children outside of school. I am trying to keep my promises to my clients, take on less work, and leave the paying of bills to my Provider. But rather than achieve any of these noble goals, I am like the apostle Paul (in no way but this): “the things I want to do, I don’t do. Instead, I find myself doing the things I don’t want to do and shouldn’t do!”. (Prov. 7:19 – “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”).

So anyway, between my quiet time, our evening devotions our daily school Bible studies, Church messages, personal conviction, and what I’ve been reading incidentally online and off, the message for this week is so very clear: make better use of your time! I was reminded of this once again this week when I stumbled across the BetweenFearandLove blog.

The two posts that struck me most right now were this one: what did you do with your extra time? and this one: The frustrating task of self-motivation.  In particular, the blog author says,

“There are things we have to do in life, things we need to do in life, and things we want to do with our lives. When the things we want to do take on the role of things we have to do and need to do we make them a priority. If we don’t make the things we want in life a priority, then we will never look back and see them done.”

This is so true. I sometimes think, “If only I had started XX or YY six months ago, this would be done by now!” If only I would start it when I think that thought! As Solomon says in the book of Proverbs,

Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

Prov. 6:10 – 11

It’s time for me to get serious about managing my time, and I’d appreciate all the prayers I can get!

And another week …

Here we are again, at Monday. How did the last seven days shoot past so fast?

We’ve been studying the history of South Africa as part of our attentiveness unit. We’ve learnt about Strandlopers, Bushmen (San), Hottentots (Khoi Khoi) and early Nguni people. It’s fascinating stuff. The girls have drawn cave art and labelled a map of South Africa and Africa. They love Geography almost as much as I do.

Last week we finished reading the railway children and have just started on the life story of Louis Braille, aimed at children. It’s well written and they’re enjoying it thoroughly.

I, on the other hand, have hit that overwhelming slump that seems such a feature of my life at the moment. The combination of too much work, too little time, too much chaos and very little money at all, it sneaks up on me at random and unexpected moments, leaving me utterly paralysed.

I’ve just restarted my wellness plan, which may be contributing to my funk as my body detoxes itself. I expect to feel bright, focused, energetic and motivated in just a few short days! In the meantime I’ve made rearranged the house on paper, only to be bed-ridden at the thought of trying to find space for everything that doesn’t fit into the picture. I’ve cancelled a meeting, paid a bill, read the news online, and consigned the kids to play in their room. Their token “schoolwork” for today has been feeding the dogs (a first for them).

I’ll have to rouse myself from the depths in a few minutes to make lunch, then do enough work to bill enough to get paid enough to pay the rent. Please pray for me!

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