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Thursday, January 16, 2020

How to Tell if Your Teen is Struggling

As any parent with a teenager knows, it isn’t easy. Teenagers have a lot to deal with, and their rapidly changing hormones don’t make it any easier for them. However, while some troubles are expected with teens, sometimes these issues grow too large and your teen will start to struggle. If this happens, it could result in destructive behavior or poor performance at school. The best thing you can do is look for some signs that your teen is struggling, especially when they won’t tell you directly. Here are a few signs to look for:
They Keep to Themselves
While many teenagers want to be left alone, teens keeping to themselves more often than they used to could be a sign of an internal struggle. Teens, just like everyone else, don’t want to let others see them having a hard time. The result is that they will keep to themselves and hide their struggles away from the world. If they want to spend a little less time with their parents, this is normal. But if they are avoiding family functions altogether, and especially if they are avoiding their friends as well, it could be a sign that they are having some issues.
They Lash Out
Some teens won’t internalize their problems and instead will start to lash out. Internal struggles can make us angry or cranky, and teens tend to feel these emotions even more strongly. Most parents won’t get away without ever arguing with their teenager, but if the outbursts start to become more frequent than they once were, your kid may have something going on in their life. The lashing out could take the form of arguing, yelling, or simply misbehaving. Keep track of your child’s behavior and see how it has changed over time.
They Seem Stressed
Sometimes it’s just obvious when someone is stressed. They become irritable or they spend all their time working. Life as a teenager isn’t easy and sometimes the amount of work they have to do can become overwhelming. If you find your teenager in front of their textbooks all the time, they are likely dealing with some stress. We have all had to deal with stress at some point or another, so think about how stress impacts you personally, then start to look for these same signs in your teenager.
How You Can Help Your Struggling Teen
If you think your teenager is struggling with something, there are a few things you can do. First, you should try talking to your teen. They may not want to talk, but reminding them that you are there for them can go a long way. If they don’t want to talk, don’t pressure them too much. Instead, just remind them that you are available and try to find subtle ways to coax it out of them.
For teenagers dealing with more serious mental health issues, you should consider getting them professional assistance. Teen depression treatment is a good thing to look into, as is simply speaking to a therapist. Sometimes your child won’t want to talk to you about their problems, but they would be willing to talk to someone neutral. This is a good way to get your teenager the help they need without invading their space.
If your child is dealing with a lot of stress from school, try to find some simple ways to help them out. You could help them complete some of their projects, study for a test, organize their notes or even talk to their teachers if need be. You don’t want to do all the work for them (that would defeat the point), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways you can help lessen the load a little bit. Also, remind them to step away from their work from time to time and do something they enjoy, otherwise, the stress will just make the work even harder.
All teens will go through some issues, it’s a part of growing up. Your job as a parent is to make sure the struggles don’t get too much to bear, and that your child knows you are there for support if they need you. Be on the lookout for signs that your teen is struggling more than usual, and if you spot any of them, take some action to help them out. When problems are ignored or unattended to they can snowball into something worse, so do your best to spot signs of a struggle as early as you can and get your child the help they need.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Resolutions - 2020

I'm at the point where my resolutions each year are the same because I just want to keep doing what I am doing and do it better.  That's a good place to be.

10) Drink 6 glasses of water a day.

This was 4 for a couple of years, and last year I did it, but I'm still chronically dehydrated, so I am upping it to 6 to see if that helps.

9) Exercise consistently 5 times a week.

Again, this had been 3-4 times a week, and I managed it, so let's kick it up a notch.

8) Get my nails nice

Last year I finally managed to stop biting them, now I want them strong and healthy.

7) Contribute to election integrity in ways that are tangible and meaningful before the election.

6) Fix three things about the house

I'll keep this one, and the chimney doesn't count because I organized that this year.

5) Make $100,000 and/or get a full-time position somewhere.

I don't think this can be done. I think I hit my max in 2019.

4) Publish 30 pieces

I'd like to do a lot more than this but I doubt it's possible.

3) Go somewhere overseas.

2) Meditate for 30 minutes a week and see one friend a week.

I don't care I break this time up, but I have to find a way to enjoy my own company when I'm not "being productive." And I have to find time to cultivate my relationships outside of a work environment.

1) Read 12 books.

Let's see if I can do it this year.

For my kids and I, I resolve the following:

5) Help them navigate tween-teen years, be someone they can trust and love.

4) Read to them every night.

3) Save $10,000 more each for them.

2) Do something with them every day.

1) Have them do chores every day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Resolution Check-in 2019

Every year, I make 10 resolutions for myself and 5 concerning my kids. Then I don't look at them again until the next year when I see how I did. Usually I manage to keep 4 to 6 of them. Let's see.

10) Drink 4 glasses of water a day.

Did it. I found that drinking an entire glass of water at a time without even putting the glass down to breathe was the only way I could do this. I can't have something around to just sip, it will never get drunk. But I can force myself to drink four times a day. 1 point

9) Go to the gym and/or run consistently 3-4 times a week.

Did it. There were times when I fell short, but other times when I worked out every day each week. I even decided to train to be a body combat instructor, which will hopefully happen this year. 1 point.

8) Stop biting my nails

I did this, which is very weird. But I'm only giving myself half credit because my nails are shit and break as soon as they grow so they still look very short, though neater. .5

7) Do something at least once a week to help those in need, or resist politically

Half credit. I did not do something once a week, but I did do things. I hope that I can step this up, especially since it's 2020 which is a big year. .5
6) Fix three things about the house

I'll give myself this, although the things fixed were small. Carlos fixed the toilets, I redid the grout, and we have people coming next week to fix our chimney and reside wood rot. I count that because I scheduled it last year. 1 point

5) Make $90,000 and/or get a full-time position somewhere.

Last year, I said this was a huge stretch. I made $94K. 1 point

4) Publish 50 pieces and teach a full course load all year.

Half credit. I taught a double-full load, but I only published 25 pieces. So, twice and half. .5

3) Get my passport and Portuguese citizenship (if not for me, at least for the girls).

Half credit. We finally got our passports. I didn't even look into Portuguese citizenship though. That seems hard. .5

2) Start a vegetable garden and keep it alive.

0. Nope

1) Read 12 books.

I literally read 2.5 books. Fail. 0

6 out of 10. Pretty strong showing.

For my kids and I, I resolve the following:

5) Get them to stop fighting all the time.

.5 They fight...less.

4) Sign them up for separate activities they might enjoy.

1. One is doing basketball, the other did gymnastics and now cheer.

3) Save $10,000 more each for them.

.5 Almost. I managed $8,100 each.

2) Spend at least 10 minutes with them, doing something they want to do every day.

0. I spent time with them every day, but not necessarily doing things they want to do.

1) Have them do chores every day.

0. I did not even attempt this, even though I should.

2 out of 5, not so great. Will work harder to do better this year.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Freelance Numbers - Year 5

This is my fourth full year of freelancing, but since becoming a freelancer, I've also done adjunct (freelance) teaching, and taught full-time so I'm going to show salary with that included and without it. Just like the past few years, teaching took up a bunch of my pitching and writing time, but also gave me a steady paycheck that I could (mostly) earn from home. And I get to teach students about journalism and how to do it! For me, this step was worth it.

I want to add that when I started this money tracking, I was not making very much, and I liked being transparent to show other people the journey.

I'm five years in now, and I work 60 to 70 hours a week on writing and teaching. I don't feel comfortable sharing my income numbers anymore, and it's really strange because you'd assume it would be the opposite...that those making little wouldn't want to share, but those making a lot would want to show everyone.

I made a lot. And I feel gross sharing it. But it's not to brag. Remember, the first full year of this, I worked just as hard and made $23,000 (well, almost just as hard. My kids were 5, and they required a lot more care than they do now. Keep in mind where you are in life when you assess yourself and make your goals. Remember many other people have it much easier, due to timing, circumstance, situation, health, support, etc.)

That said, perhaps this will be the last year I do this. Especially if I make most of my money from teaching, because even though it's technically contract work, I can no longer consider it freelance.

This year, I made $94,591 total.

I made ~$76,000 of that from teaching.
Therefore, I made ~$19,000 writing this year. 

This is more money from teaching and less from writing than last year.

I want to give you a rundown of the totals for the last five years, just so you can see the trajectory.

2019: $94,600
2018: $77,900
2017: $65,600
2016: $48,000
2015: $23,000
2014: $6,000

My lowest income month was September at $4,430.
(Last year's lowest income month was February at $3,860)

My highest income month was February at $13,112
(Last year it was June at $10,660.)

On average I made $7,882 a month, which is $1,970 a week.
Last year I made $6,489 a month, which is $1,622 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on ~$20,000 of this.


We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $19K, I published 21 pieces this year, which is down by half from the year before when I published 45. For scope, the year I freelanced only, I published 80. For important comparison, that year I made just under $24K, which means I'm being paid on average three times as much per piece now.

My highest number published in a month was October with 6 pieces published.
I had several months where I didn't publish anything, which is not great for a freelancer.

In terms of publications, I published in 16 different places, up from 12 last year, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

The most pieces I published for one place? 3 down from 7 last year, down from 15 the year before.

The lowest I wrote for was $50. 

The highest check for one piece I received this year was for $2,000--for a piece in a print women's magazine.

On average, I made $900 a piece this year, same as last year, up from $600 a piece last year, and $440 a piece the year before and $300 the year before that.


Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 21 pieces this year, I sent out 162 pitches this year. My acceptance rate this year was incredibly low. Why? Probably because I'm shooting for higher paid publications, and they are harder to crack. Usually I'm accepted a third of the time. This year, not even close.

I was rejected outright 59 times. 
I was accepted 37 times (some are still in edits, some were commissioned, and some were killed). 
I was ignored 66 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 23% of the time (same as last year)
Rejected: 36% of the time
Ignored: 41% of the time
Total Rejected: 77% of the time.

I was accepted 23 percent of the time, and rejected 77 percent of the time.

Keep trying! Keep going! We can do this, freelancers. It is possible.

Last year's complete numbers are here

2017 complete numbers are here.

2016 complete numbers are here.

2015 complete numbers are here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

8 Wonderful Water Recreational Activities for Your Family’s Summer

Summer is here, and that means hot weather and cool water activities! Whether you’re looking to enjoy the summer locally or you’re planning a trip away, water-based recreational activities provide excellent opportunities for fun, exercise, and a chance to cool off.
We’ve talked before about simple ways to have a healthier lifestyle, and the good news is that many of these activities are very fitness-promoting, and all of them will get you outside and having adventures!

1). Swimming

This is one of the most obvious things you can do in the water, but that’s for good reason: swimming is fun, requires no advanced equipment, is extremely refreshing, and is potentially one of the most fitness-promoting activities you can engage in.

Whether you’re enjoying a pool, a lake, or the ocean, swimming is a wonderful way to escape the heat and promote fitness at the same time. It’s also an excellent activity for the whole family, although you’ll want to make sure everyone practices water safety (and no doubt it goes without saying, but young children should wear life preservers).

2). Boating

You don’t have to own a boat or know someone who does to enjoy the wonders of boating: there are many waterways, including oceans, lakes, and rivers, where you can go on professional boating trips.
In fact, there are a variety of ways to enjoy boating: you can charter or rent a boat – by the hour, day, or month – which you operate yourself, or, more realistically for most of us, you can sign up for a ferry, join a group excursion, even board a fishing boat.

Boating is wonderful for many reasons: the adventure, the opportunity to experience a variety of different bodies of water, and the other experiences you can have while you boat. There are boating opportunities for fishing, whale watching, boat racing – sailboat racing is particularly popular on some bodies of water – and simply taking in the surroundings and enjoying the scenic beauty.

3). Jet skiing

Jet skiing involves watercraft, but is different enough from boating to warrant its own entry. Jet skiing is a tremendous amount of fun if you enjoy fast, high-powered watercraft and adventurous sporting experiences. This might be an ideal bonding activity with adventurous teens.

4). Water skiing

Water skiing is, as the name suggests, skiing on water. The water skier is towed at high speeds behind a high-powered watercraft and uses either two skis or a single ski to glide on the water.
Although water skiing may look intimidating and challenging for children, in fact it is surprisingly kid-friendly. Even young children can learn how to water ski if you, or an instructor, are willing to teach them.

5). Water polo

Water polo is essentially handball, but played in the water. A team sport, water polo is played by teams trying to get the ball over the net while preventing the rival team from doing the same thing.
You and your family can play water polo as an intense, competitive sport if that’s the way you like to play, or as a fun and friendly game. Most likely, you’ll play in a swimming pool, but it is possible to play water polo in lakes and yes, even in the ocean.

6). Surfing

Seriously, where would this list be without surfing? It’s one of the more iconic beachside activities, not to mention the basis for a surfing subculture.

The basic idea behind surfing is simple: take a surfboard and use it to ride the forward face of a wave, which will primarily carry you toward the shore.

This sport may seem counter-intuitive for children, but in fact it can be a wonderful experience for them. Learning to surf with kid-appropriate waves can help children to develop strength and balance while enjoying the outdoors and learning values of patience and self-confidence.  

7). Skimboarding

Skimboarding may look a lot like surfing, but the idea is subtly different: instead of swimming out to catch the waves, skimboarders start at the beach and ride the outgoing waves away from beach. They then catch the next wave back to the beach.

Skimboarding also makes use of a smaller board than surfing, meaning the equipment is slightly different.

As the description suggests, skimboarding may be easier and more accessible for children, not least because it does not require an ocean- or sea-sized body of water. Skimboarding can easily be done in lakes and rivers.

8). Paddle boarding

We’ve saved arguably the best for last. Paddle boarding, or more precisely stand up paddle boarding (SUP), is done by riding a board in the standing position and using a paddle to row.

Unlike surfing, you don’t need waves – in fact, you’re probably better off without them, especially early on (to learn more, go to This is because you’re supplying the power as you row.

Paddle boarding is a great workout, and probably even easier than surfing to start teaching to your children.


From swimming to boating to paddle boarding, there are a variety of wonderful water-based sports and recreational activities to help your family keep cool and have a blast this summer while staying safe. Enjoy the water!


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