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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Resolutions Check-in, 2018

Each year I set 10 goals for me and five goals for my parenting / children in January. Then I never look at them again and forget all about them until the next year, when I surprise myself by looking back on them and seeing what I thought I could pull off that year. Let's see what I thought about 2018 and what actually happened.

In keeping with tradition, I will make 10 resolutions for myself and 5 with regard to my children and never look at them again until nearly 2019. Here goes nothing. I have a lot of big changes coming this year, so, unsure as to what this will look like.

10) Drink 4 glasses of water a day.

0. I mean, I tried it. But I really couldn't get more than a glass or two a day for a while there. I'm back on the four-glass train now, though. I'll probably try again this year.

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

.5. I had a lot of medical stuff this year, meaning I couldn't exercise for long periods of time, like months. But, when you average out the times I did exercise, you get about twice a week, which I'm counting for half, given the year I had.

8) Stop biting my nails

0. Still doing this.

7) Actively work on local and state campaigns in swing states for the interim election.

.5 I did some stuff, but I did not actually work on a campaign. I ended up getting nervous about affiliating myself too strongly with individual candidates as opposed to covering them journalistically. But I was active this year in terms of resistance, and I intend to stay that way.

6) Buy that house and decorate it and keep it up as if it is my home.

1. I did this. I bought the house, decorated the house, and kept the house moderately clean all year. I washed and stained the deck, bought furniture, kept up the front bushes. Now I have to clean / fix the driveway, fix the lawn, replace the back wall and more. Joys of homeownership.

5) Make $75,000 and/or get a full-time position somewhere.

1. I did not get a full-time position somewhere but I didn't try very hard. I did make $78,000, which surpasses this goal.

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

.5. I published 45 pieces, and taught nearly double a full course load all year. This is so close.

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

0. I can't believe I didn't do this. I started the paperwork, and stopped where I had to drag my family out to get our photos. I must do this.

2) Get through my medical stuff and come out the other side just fine.

1. I did this. I did all of this. I went through two major surgeries, and recoveries, and I'm through it. It was hard, and I almost backed out a couple of times, but it's done now.

1) Plan and execute this vow renewal for our 10-year anniversary.

1. We did this. August 4, 2018, we had a wedding to renew our vows and all our friends and family came, and we had a brief honeymoon, and it was amazing.

5.5 out of 10. I can't believe it. That's definitely a record. I never keep more than half my resolutions. Nicely done.

For my kids and I, I resolve the following:

5) Get them to stop fighting all the time.

0. The first six months of this year were so, so bad. They've greatly improved since then, thank goodness, but I'm not counting this one, because a year is 365 days, and even improved, they still fight at least once a day.

4) Homework and studies every day, even in summer and on weekends.

1. I am a mean mommy, and I made them do this.

3) Save $10,000 each for them.

1. They've each got a little more than $11,000 saved at this point. Well done..

2) Play a game with them every day.

0. I failed at this. Fail fail fail

1) Have them do chores every day.

0. Nope. They did chores SOMETIMES. But usually they spend so much time on homework that I let them play with whatever small time they have left.

2/5. We can do better.

Friday, December 28, 2018

4 Tips for a Less Stressful Divorce - s post

For most of us a divorce either begins with the slow realization that you no longer wish to be with your spouse – or a divorce can be an unforeseen, devastating bombshell that blows your emotions to hell and back.

But whether you are the divorcer or the divorcee, eventually you are going to have to face some disturbing facts and emotions about the bond that you thought was going to last forever.  But shame should not be one of them.

There were over 876,000 divorces in this country last year.  That’s one divorce every 36 seconds, 2,400 divorces every single day.  If this was your first marriage, you are part of the 41% of couples whose marriages failed.  If it’s a second marriage, the failure rate is 60%.  And for third marriages, it’s a whopping 73%.  If it’s your fourth marriage – it’s off the charts.

So divorce is not uncommon and you should not dwell too deeply on the whys and wherefores of your marriage’s collapse.  The sooner that you eschew denial and come to terms with the fact that it’s over; the sooner you can start putting your life, and the lives of your children if you have them, back on track.

Here are some tips to be mindful of once the angst subsides and you decide to get down to business.

Tip #1: Decide What You Want

Put the anger and emotions aside and think: what do I want out of this mess?  What are the pieces of my previous relationship that are really important to me?  Of course there are the assets, your home, the bank accounts, the investment portfolios, etc.  But most state laws mandate that those things are going to end up being math issues, generally in the 50-percentile range.

However, there may be less obvious keepsakes that you feel strongly about, and the main thing will be: keep those thoughts to yourself and your lawyer.  If your spouse and his/her lawyer discover a weakness for some marriage memento, they could use it as a wedge to get something out of you that is way more valuable.

Tip #2: Hire the Right Lawyer

If your divorce is consensual, maybe you won’t even need an attorney to individually represent you.  You and your spouse may be able to get by with a mediator who will assist you in conforming to state guidelines for a simple, amicable divorce.

But if you perceive even the slightest complications from your spouse; hire a lawyer immediately.  And the best way to find the right lawyer is to get a recommendation from a friend or family member, someone you trust. 

If that’s not possible, you’re going to have to do some serious research, because this attorney is going to be your closest partner in probably the most contentious procedure you will ever experience in your entire life – over the course of a year, or more.  Make sure you get the right person for the task.

Tip #3: Dealing with Children

Child custody after divorce can be allocated in a variety of ways, many of which are mandated by state laws.  Here's how Randall Kessler, an experienced divorce attorney at the Family Law Attorneys of Kessler & Solomiany, describes custody choices, "There are two major types of custody: legal and physical. It is possible for one parent to have sole legal and joint physical custody or vice versa, or for one parent to have both sole legal and physical custody."

You are probably not going to get full legal and physical custody over your children unless your spouse is a certified, raging maniac.  So try to stay calm and work out a plan that’s not only best for the children, but also best for you and your spouse.  You may not be able to live together any longer but you will have to partner in the raising these kids.  Full cooperation between parents is the right recipe for child rearing, whether they live together or not.

Tip #4: Take Your Time

There are angry urges, especially with the divorcee, to get this relationship over and done with as quickly as possible.  You never want to see that rotten, probably-cheating, divorcee ever again.  But rushing through the details of a divorce is not advisable for a lot of reasons. 

One of the main ones is money.  If you cram this divorce through and it turns out that some stipulations are just not working out for you and your spouse, you are going to have to file an appeal to set aside your divorce judgment – and that can be very expensive.  That’s why you need to take a breath, relax and slowly work through every stipulation of your divorce until you get it just right.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Freelance Numbers - Year 4

This is my third full year of freelancing, but since becoming a freelancer, I've also done adjunct (freelance) teaching at UF, and taught full-time so I'm going to show salary with that included and without it. Just like last year, it 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.

This year, I made $77,866 total.
I made ~$54,000 of that from teaching at UF.
Therefore, I made ~$24,000 writing this year.

Last year, I made $65,630 total.

My lowest income month was February at $3,860 
(Last year's lowest income month was March at $2,663)

My highest income month was June at $10,660. 
(Last year it was July at $11,082)

On average I made $6,489 a month, which is $1,622 a week.

Last year I made $5,469 a month, which is nearly $1,367 a week.

Remember, though, I still have to do my taxes on ~$25,000 of this.

I'm happy with my professional decisions this year, and I recommend writers taking on teaching a college course or two if they have the time. It's great steady income. Of course, I swung probably too far the other way, but that's kind of what I do.


We'll focus now on just the writing. To get that $24K, I published 45 pieces this year, which is up five from the year before when I published 40. The year before that I published 65 pieces, and 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 twice as much per piece now.

My highest number published in a month was October with 8 pieces published.
My lowest number in a month was May with no pieces published.

On average, I published 3.3 pieces a month.

In terms of publications, I published in 12 different places, down from 14 last year, and 24 the year before that, including websites, newspapers and magazines.

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

The lowest I wrote for was $75 for the local paper. 

The highest check for one piece I received this year was for $1,200--for my ghostwritten pieces. For a piece under my own byline, highest this year was $700.

On average, I made $600 a piece this year, same as last year, up from $440 a piece the year before and up from $300 the year before that. (This number skews high because I counted a few reprints and some blogging revenue in my yearly total, and also some private projects.) So, let's probably say I made about $450 a piece this year. (same as last year)


Let's talk pitches, rejections and acceptances. To publish my 40 pieces this year, I sent out 127 pitches this year, down from 165 pitches last year, 267 pitches the year before and 329 the year before that. I'm slowing down on writing to teach more. 

I was rejected outright 34 times. 
I was accepted 42 times (some are still in edits, and some were commissioned, which brings the published list to 40). 
I was ignored 51 times (which is a silent rejection, obviously).

So, my percentages work out like this:

Accepted: 33% of the time (same as last year)
Rejected: 27% of the time
Ignored: 40% of the time
Total Rejected: 70% of the time.

I was accepted 33 percent of the time, and rejected 67 percent of the time. In my four years doing this, my acceptance rate has only raised 3 percent. And my stuff is pretty okay. And usually when it's rejected somewhere, another place accepts it. THUS, IT IS NOT YOU OR ME, IT IS THE EDITOR.

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

Last year's complete numbers are here.

2016 complete numbers are here.

2015 complete numbers are here.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

5 Must-Have Items For Your Family Holiday

When you are going on a family holiday, you need to make sure that you have packed everything that you are going to need. It can be difficult travelling with kids and there are some things that you cannot travel without. To help you with this, we have put together a list of the top 5 must-have items for your family holiday. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more.
First Aid Kit
If you don’t already have one of the very handy travel first aid kits, then you need to get your hands on one. When you are on holiday, you don’t know what sort of injuries might occur, so you need to make sure that you are prepared. If you are able to deal with an injury by yourself, you are less likely to need to visit a local hospital and pay the expensive medical bills.
Travel Documents
No matter where you are going on your holiday, you need to make sure that you have all of your travel documents. Not only will you need passports for yourself and your partner, but you’ll also need them for your kids. Make sure that you check if you need any visas you have them before you set off to avoid any sort of disappointment.
Sun Cream
If you are planning on travelling somewhere warm, then you are going to need to make sure that you have the correct sun cream. It is really important that you don’t let you or your kids get burnt as this can cause skin damage in the future. Take a look at the guides on how strong your sun cream needs to be and make sure that you pack it.
Floatation Devices
Not every kid is capable of swimming by themselves, so you need to make sure that you have the right type of floatation devices for your family. Make sure to get armbands for your youngest children and don’t let them out of your site when they are in the pool. Inform your kids about pool safety and check if the hotel has a lifeguard who can keep a second eye on your kids to make sure that they are extra safe.
Travel Games
Our final must-have for family holidays is travel games. This is especially useful if you are planning on travelling a long distance and you know that your kids are going to get bored. You’ll find that there are travel size versions of a lot of popular games that your kids can play on the plane or the bus to the hotel. If you can keep them occupied, you’ll find that they don’t get up to too much mischief on the long journey.

If you are planning on going on holiday with your family in the near future, make sure that you get your hands on some of our must-have travel items. When you do, you are sure to have a great trip.


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