A juggling act

So I lied.  I said I wouldn’t go on hiatus again but looking at that’s post’s timestamp tells me the time between then and now is actually longer than the last posting gap.  But despite the dead air on my blog’s front, I’ve been busy pursuing a lot of writing opportunities.  Also, I adopted a dog.

Over the past month, I’ve gotten caught up with my Verge blog posts and additionally have been focusing on the following:

  1. I applied to a travel writing scholarship through World Nomads.  At the application’s close, there were over 13,000 entries so let’s just say I’m not holding my breath!  I wrote about my couchsurfing experiences focusing on my first time in Iceland and the time I went actual surfing with my hosts in Lahinch, Ireland.  I threw it together in the 11th hour and while it got good feedback from family and friends, I still wonder if it has enough glamour for the competition.  Three winners will be announced on April 30th (serious props to the three reviewers for tackling that volume of material) and will get an all-expenses paid trip to Portugal for 14 days.  The first four days involve an intensive travel writing workshop with an expert followed by 10 days on assignment.  I think it would be an absolutely fab opportunity but again, I’m keeping my expectations low.
  2. I’m currently in second place for a competition to win an 800€ travel voucher.  My current teaching program, ConversaSpain, is looking to expand their digital content and online presence.  In order to encourage shares, likes, comments, and blog post submissions, they created a competition assigning points to each of the aforementioned actions.  I’ve been digging deep and clawing my way to the top; I think I have a great shot at this one.  If I don’t get first, there’s also a substantial prize for second.  I’m planning to finish up another blog post this evening and will likely complete several more before the competition ends.
  3. I was hired as a freelance content writer for Study.com.  I’m especially excited about this venture not only for the resume-building aspect but for the side hustle income.  The work is completely remote and I can work from as little as 5 hours a week up to 30 which means if I set aside a couple of hours each night and on the weekends, I could save a decent amount.  Ideally, I’d like to transition to working completely from home and fully adopt the digital nomad lifestyle.  I think this is absolutely attainable and have been making connections such as this to work toward that goal.
  4. I am writing up several pitches for paid travel health articles.  I think the word that defines my current mindset is proactive.  I’ve been looking for opportunities around every corner and tossing multiple lines out in the water.  After browsing some of the other sections on the Verge website, I noticed a travel health section and its lack of new content.  I usually hate the idea of pitching; I want editors to give me an assignment because let’s face it, it’s easier.  But right away, several ideas came to mind.  I contacted my editor and asked her if she’d be interested in hearing some of my ideas.  And she was.  I wrote up two pitches this morning after missing the bus by literally seconds (see: me running beside it as it shamelessly drove away) and have a couple more to float her way.  She said the team was meeting April 8th to discuss new pitches so I should have the proposals in before then.  Fingers crossed they like my ideas.

So there you have it.  Sitting in the Principe Pio bus station, sweating, cursing, and sucking away at my inhaler this morning, I told myself I would do everything it takes to be the one who dictates my day-to-day schedule.  I want to have the freedom to choose where and when I work, and I’m blessed to say I’m making substantial progress toward being able to make this a reality.  Despite the 16 hour a week teaching schedule, I find I spend at least an hour a night planning and lose 3 hours daily on my commute.  After all is said and done, I’m putting in over 40 hours a week on work and travel.  I wake up at 6 am for a 9:25 class, get home at 4:30 after walking out of the school building at 2:30.  While the job has been great and I adore my students, the schedule and commute are killing my soul.  Despite years of knowing the truth, I’ve finally acknowledged that I’m not one for a highly-structured life.

Eight or so years ago, I told my mom that I was interested in applying for a Masters program through the Air Force.  They would pay for your degree and then you would owe them the time back plus extra in the service.  As an Air Force veteran herself, I thought she would give me a unconditional thumbs up.  Instead, she hesitated and said, “I don’t know if the military is for you.  You’re too much of a free spirit.”  While I didn’t quite understand her meaning at the time, I’ve come to see that she (shocker!) knew me better than I knew myself.  I don’t like being told where to be and when, I am absolutely awful at being on time (friends’ and family’s greatest pet peeve about me, I’m sure), and I find I’m happiest working on my own time to meet deadlines, often producing the best work under pressure late at night.  I’m a night owl, lover of working in bed or in bars and coffee shops; it’s about time I embrace my strengths.

In the midst of this personal and career revelation, I opened my heart to a funny little wiener head who I have renamed Maisie.

After being rescued by the wonderful people at Amibichos, she fell ill with parvo and nearly died.  But, after emergency treatment (the vets in Spain are top notch, I experienced this with Louie), she pulled through and I’m so glad she did.  She’s got a mind of her own and is always up to some hilarious tricks that make it hard to be mad at her even when she’s bad.  She’s a dachshund mix and it shows.

She’s forever “starving”, has endless energy, and has the ability to melt my heart when she crawls onto my chest in bed in the morning.  She annoys Juan’s dog Liam but he’s forever patient and when the mood strikes will even play with her.  I took them both to the dog park tomorrow and was infinitely amused by watching her zoom around.


When I sent her old foster mom a video, she wrote back laughing, “Parece una comadreja.” In English, she looks like a weasel — it’s my favorite description of her so far because she is indeed quite weasel-y.

I have to say I’m pretty content with the way things have been going lately.  I’m still (forever) having problems juggling several balls at one time and while my writing is blossoming, other projects have fallen by the wayside; namely studying for the Health Coach cert and pleasure reading.  But, as every Thursday is my Friday, I’m looking forward to getting caught up as well as I can over the weekend.

An old friend in Baltimore posted something on Instagram this week that resonated with me.

“The last couple of weeks I had to remind myself that I had lofty dreams before ‘life took over,’ which is a nice way to say I got comfortable, stagnant and lazy.  I’ve been grinding lately though.  Working like I’m trying to make up for lost time.  Don’t worry, I’ll get there.”

– Kenya Butler

It’s easy to become complacent when it comes to our goals and aspirations.  It’s easy to waste time waiting for things to come to us.  The truth is, very few things in life are given away freely.  I, too, have been guilty of this in the past.  I’ve had lofty dreams of being a writer all while doing very little to actually achieve those dreams.  But as Kenya articulately stated, we can make up for lost time by going that extra mile now.  Not tomorrow, not when we’re less busy, but now.

To me, that’s stressful, beautiful, and encouraging all at the same time.

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