Writing for Free Pays


You’ve decided you want to start writing for magazines, but without experience and clips to highlight that experience, you find it difficult to break into the business. How can you possibly gain exposure and experience if no one will hire you without those two things?

Thankfully, there is a solution: volunteer your writing.

Don’t like the idea of working for free to get your foot in the door? Keep in mind that volunteering your time or work isn’t a new idea. High School students volunteer their time in order to pad their college applications and academic resumes. College students accept internships (often without pay) in order to build a strong resume and gain necessary experience.

Working for free to build a resume or portfolio and gain experience is a solid and often necessary route to success, but by no means is it the only route. If you can secure paid work, go for it. In fact, I’d say it’s a good idea to submit to both paying and non-paying markets. Knock on as many doors as you can. I’m simply suggesting you open your mind to the idea of accepting a few non-paying jobs to get started.

Writing is work, hard work, and we should be compensated for our time as well as our bodies of work. Volunteering your writing is simply another opportunity with a plethora of possible outcomes.

Here are five compelling reasons why you should consider writing for free in the beginning of your freelance writing career:

For the Exposure- With exposure, you’ll begin building a reputation.

The more you put out there, the more familiar you’ll become to readers and bloggers.

For the Experience- Every time you write a blog post or an article, you gain valuable experience. Getting paid or not does not diminish that experience, or all the lessons learned with each project. In fact, experience is exactly what you need to get paid, or at least to get paid well.

For the opportunity to experiment- Writing for blogs and websites allows you to experiment with different styles of writing and subjects and helps you to discover what you enjoy.

For the possibility of paid work- When your blog post or article is published, it will be read by hundreds if not thousands of people, and any number of those readers may be editors or bloggers who are inclined to offer you a paying job writing for their magazine or blog.

The possibilities are numerous.

For creating a portfolio- It’s often challenging to find paying gigs when you aren’t able to tangibly show an editor any of your work because you haven’t been published yet. But once you have a couple of clips and samples of your writing, you’re better equipped to approach paid opportunities with confidence.

Volunteering your article or story for a blog or website is simple. Check the “contribute” or “submissions” page on blogs and websites and follow the directions to send a pitch. That’s it! Be professional and always submit your best work.

Don’t discount your own blog or website as a valuable place to build your portfolio. That’s the ultimate self-employment!

Writing for magazines, e-zines, websites and blogs can be fun and monetarily lucrative, but getting your foot (or your pen!) in the door can take a bit of time and patience.

Be creative and persistent and you will find success.

The Importance of the Apology


Have you ever had your feelings hurt by the words or actions of another? Sure you have—we all have. It’s part of the human experience. We’ve all endured the pain of someone saying or doing something unkind to us, or at least unkind according to our personal interpretations.

But have you noticed that if the offender, whether they’ve offended us on purpose or not, sincerely apologizes, we are more likely to forgive and move forward? As opposed to dwelling on hurt feelings and holding a grudge. Why? Because our feelings have been acknowledged and proven to matter, thus our ruffled feathers smoothed. We have been offered respect and empathy.

The apology must, as I’ve mentioned, be sincere and followed by an action to show sincerity, such as changing the offending behavior, or doing something kind to “make up for” what you’ve said or done.

Apologizing isn’t about offering lip service to mollify someone after you’ve done them wrong. There’s no power in that approach. Power comes about from acknowledging hurt feelings and taking action.

The apology is empowering for both the offended as well as the offender. For the offended, the apology can dissolve, or undo the negative effects of the harmful words or actions.

For the offender, having the courage to render an apology and admit wrong-doing can foster a deep sense of self-respect. It can also free us from the weight of self-reproach and guilt, even if the person we apologize to does not accept our apology or render forgiveness.

As I tell my children whenever they find themselves in a situation where they need to apologize, you aren’t responsible for how someone reacts to your apology or whether or not they accept it. You are only responsible for proffering the apology. The most important part of an apology is the giving and the sincerity.

According to an article by Beverly Engel in Psychology Today, an apology is crucial to our mental and physical health. “Research shows that receiving an apology has a noticeable, positive physical effect on the body,” Engel states. The person receiving the apology experiences a decrease in blood pressure, heart rate slows and breathing becomes steadier.

According to a Ted Talk given by Robert M. Gordon Ph.D., there are two types of apology, or two core reasons to offer one: to get something (such as forgiveness), and to give something (such as repair to a relationship).

Doctor Gordon also suggests there are three main elements to an effective apology:

1) Acknowledgement— Admit to the wrongdoing or transgression.

2) Remorse and Empathy—Express remorse and an understanding of how the offended person feels.

3) Restitution—Make up for the transgression. Do something to show true remorse. Take action such as exhibiting a change in behavior.

Bottom line, an apology sends a message of care and concern for the other person, further mollifying them. Even a simple ‘I’m sorry’ can be enough to defuse and restore balance to the relationship. So exhibit courage and strength, and don’t hesitate to apologize.

Creative life and frustration


“Learning to endure disappointment and frustration is part of the job of a creative person.”

That gold nugget of a statement comes from Elizabeth Gilbert in her new book “Big Magic” (great book by the way!), and I’d like to ponder the meaning with you.

As a writer (and author), I agree wholeheartedly in the authenticity of that above opening statement. None of us writers (or other creative types) can or will escape disappointments and frustrations of our “job”, but we can (and must) learn to endure them in a way that keeps our head above water.

Now, there are the obvious disappointments of the dreaded (and often too numerous to mention) rejection letters after we’ve submitted the work of our blood, sweat and tears to someone who didn’t love it the way we did (how is that even possible?). But there is also the daily disappointments and frustrations that can knock the wind out of our sails or steer us into a fog so thick we’re sure we’ll never get out of it. Whatever the cause, we must not let disappointment and frustration kill our creative desires or blind us to our path.

Living with disappointment isn’t the same as giving into it. Living with or enduring both disappointment and frustration means recognizing it, feeling it then putting it out with the garbage. And leave it out there. Don’t try to bring it in like a stray cat, because if you feed it, it will stay. And if disappointment and frustration stay, they will derail your creative life and goals in no time flat.

Up until recently, I used to think there was something horribly wrong with me, that I must be some special kind of stupid because after each disappointment and through every frustration I continue to get right back to my writing (sometimes after a couple days of feeling sorry for myself, but still…). I get the air knocked out of me, but eventually I begin to breathe as if my life depended upon it. And I think it does. I believe if I don’t follow my creative calling, I will stop breathing.

But this all pertains to more than creative people living creative careers, doesn’t it? It’s relevant to every person in every walk of life, every career and calling.

Life will always be sprinkled with frustrations of varying types and disappoints in all shapes and sizes, but we keep living. And if we want to keep living in a way that brings us happiness instead of simply filling our lungs with air, we’ll need to hold our head up high and power through those frustrations and disappointments.

I encourage everyone, but I’m especially speaking to fellow writers (and creative types) when I say hold on tight to what you love, and please don’t deprive the world of your gift by letting fears, insecurities, frustrations or disappoints knock you off course for long.


Weight obsessed: an observation


Have you heard the reports lately about how, in spite of all the information that’s been given to Americans about how to stay fit, we’ve been getting bigger? Are you surprised?

As a fellow American woman (I’ll speak hear for women, but I’m sure many men feel the same way), who does not have a weight problem to speak of, all the rhetoric about losing weight and “being fit” that we are bombarded with over the radio or on television is offensive and, well, irritating. Whether you have an issue with your weight or not, you probably feel like you do, or that you should after hearing all these messages. I think even thin women feel like they should lose a few pounds simply because our culture seems to insist upon it. I do not know a single woman (and I’ll admit nearly all my friends are thin/fit women) who is satisfied with her body or weight. Nearly all of them would be happy to lose a few (or more) pounds.

I’ve begun to think we believe we have to lose weight in the same way we need to eat, sleep, breathe and so on. It’s nuts. And I am as much a “victim” in all this as anyone else. At 5′ 9″ tall I’ve always been thin with a long torso and thin waist. But I’ve never been satisfied, deciding my thighs must then be the problem. On a scale, I was always a good, if not low, weight, but it didn’t matter. In the back of my mind, there was always room for improvement. Not until now, as a 40 something woman approaching menopause, have I become aware of how ridiculous our country has become about weight and body shape.

Every time I think I’m fine, I’m healthy, I exercise regularly, I’m a good weight/shape for my age (It’s not good to be too thin as we age for health reasons, not to mention a little weight helps hide wrinkles-lol), I hear or see a commercial or program about the best way to lose weight. Lose weight, lose weight, lose weight is a message we hear every day, several times a day. Most of the time we don’t realize it any more, but if you pay close attention you’ll likely be mortified at how often that message is put out there. Our culture has become a bully, threatening our self esteem and acceptance if we don’t comply.

Remember the old wisdom, don’t hound someone about their weight or they’ll likely gain more? Or something along those lines. Well, I think that’s exactly what is happening in American. We may not have as much of a problem with people being overweight as we do with people hounding people about it. I am not an advocate for being overweight in the least; in fact I’m a huge proponent of health and fitness. I feel, however, our focus has gotten out of hand, thus changing the message to a negative one.

The message started out innocent enough, the emphasis on getting (and staying) healthy with information centered on what kinds of foods to feed our bodies for optimum health as well as exercises to benefit not only body, but mind and spirit, too. But that original message seems to have, like so many  things in life, spiraled into something negative. Now the message behind the message is clearly LOSE WEIGHT you slug. Well, maybe not exactly that message, but you get it.

Even when I didn’t need to lose weight, I’d hear this message and think I was wrong, that maybe I DO need to lose weight. It’s horrible, and I’m not at all surprised that Americans are reported as getting bigger, not smaller. I fall into the category of middle-aged women who feel they need to lose a good 10-15 pounds. Maybe it’s true I need to drop a few, maybe not, but I do know that the more pressure there is on us, both men and women, the least likely we are to healthily and safely reach and maintain our goal.

My advice? Healthy foods should be less expensive than junk food (imagine that concept!!), but that’s another discussion. Teach us all how to eat healthy and what to eat to obtain that goal as well as how to exercise (and there are sooo many ways to get exercise), and weight loss will follow.

At this point, I believe we DO know how and what to do and eat to be healthy, for the most part; we just need to take the focus off of it and let it happen. Would you agree? Shouldn’t the dominant message on the airwaves be focused on living a life filled with good friends, joy, family, following our passions, being kind to others and so on? Wouldn’t that do more to help us each reach individual goals of being fit and healthy in body AND mind, not to mention the all important spirit? Health will follow. Weight loss (where needed) will follow. Let’s all try to get off the weight shaming treadmill (see what I did there? lol).

Our body will tell us when/if we need to lose weight. We just need to listen to it. If we have any weight-related issues such as bad knees, bad back, diabetes, inability to walk far and so much more, then yes, we need to take off some weight until those things clear up. But if we are in good health, we need to remember that there are all different shapes and sizes, not one ideal to attain.

Whatever our body type is, it needs to be allowed to find its healthy, not be turned into a clone of someone else’s image. With all the hype on weight loss and being skinny, we’ve lost sight of what healthy really is.

I realize everything I’ve said here has exceptions, but I believe this generalization fits a lot of people and I hope does some good. And for those of you who are the exceptions, keep up the excellent work and spread your positive body image message. 😉


want vs. WANT


You know the expression or saying, “you can do anything you want to do”, or variations of that statement? How do you feel about the validity of that statement? I think, in case you were wondering, it is spot on correct, but only if you fully understand the value and parameters of the key word: want.

You can want something or you can WANT something. Yes, all caps, because that is the want that will achieve.

I may (and do!) want to be able to go running for great periods of time, over all types of terrain without getting out of breath. But I want it in that way where we want something only under the condition it magically happens to us. I don’t want it to the degree I will spend hours training my body for this form of punishment. Ahem, I mean exercise. I will allow any and all obstacles to derail my progress, sending me back to square one, exercising but not pushing. I must be happy there or I would WANT with more passion and vigor, right?

Another example, I want to play the violin and speak several languages. What have I done to make either of these wants come to fruition? Nothing. Oh, I poke around here and there, trying my hand at self-taught Italian, or daydreaming about the 3 ½ years of Spanish classes I had years ago and never use. I simply want them, would accept them in a heartbeat.  I don’t, however, want them bad enough to make them happen. See what I mean? I want not WANT.

As for the WANTING, that’s the kind that almost guarantees you’ll achieve what you WANT.  I have that, too. I WANT to be a successful writer down to my bones, my soul. So I do what is necessary to make that happen. That means not allowing obstacles (and there are many) stop me or derail my progress. When I “fall off the horse”, I’m back on without hesitation. A lot of people (and I mean a LOT) like to say they would love to be a writer, or they want to be a writer, but less than a quarter of those people really WANT that. Lay it at their feet, and they’ll happily scoop it up, but require they work tirelessly every day, charge past rejections on different levels and never stop writing and you are asking too much. They don’t feel it deep in their bones where not going after a thing isn’t an option.

So you see, you have to WANT something enough to stick with it no matter what stands in your way. That is the common denominator you will find with every individual who has found success in what they WANTED. It’s not just a desire, it’s almost a need. If you do the work, plow the field, forge your path, you will achieve what you WANT.

What do you WANT? Listen to your heart and soul then hold on to what you WANT with an unyielding grip and watch what happens.

Fear and Worry – breaking the grip


Fear is not a shield. Fear is a hammer to the nail of pain. And worry is a completely useless activity.

Think about this: The intended function of fear is to cause us to stop and think before we do something; it is not necessarily meant to stop us from doing it. Yes, fear has a function, but a limited one. Worry, on the other hand, is pointless.

As someone who has fallen victim to the false belief that worrying about something (anything, everything) will somehow provide a protection against whatever happens, I have spent far too much of my time in fear and I’m tired of it. I’ve recently focused my attention on figuring out why I tend to fall prey to worry and fear so easily and so often, and I believe I’ve uncovered the answer (or at least an answer) as well as a solution, and I’d like to share my findings (or epiphany) with fellow worriers in hopes of freeing all of us.

Think about the act of worrying. What does it really accomplish? I’ve been living under the false belief that if I worry about things that might happen then I’ll somehow be armed and ready when or if they do come to fruition. But after thinking about it, and I mean really digging into the truth of it, I see how worry has never acted as any kind of shield against the pain of a situation when it hits. And worse than that, worry is a total waste of energy and time as most of the things we worry about NEVER EVEN HAPPEN.

Without digging into my past or life story, I can tell you that I decided as a young girl if I kept my guard up at all times (worry), nothing would be able to surprise me. I have been living under the assumption that if I’m not caught off guard or surprised by a thing, somehow it won’t hurt so much. I was wrong. An “epiphany”. Whether I’m caught off guard by an event, or holding my position of so-called readiness (like an outfielder always waiting for a ball, glove ready, knees bent, even when there is no ball in sight), the event and my reaction to it is the same. Worry failed to accomplish anything.

When something unfortunate does happen, we all have to do the same thing: deal with the situation at hand until it’s over. Sometimes we can “fix” or “change” what we are experiencing, and sometimes we cannot, but either way, worry does nothing to help. It’s an impotent emotion or a dull sword that serves only to add unnecessary stress to our lives thus affecting our health and robbing us from regularly experiencing joy.

Now, my solution to this “affliction” of being a worrier may not be the same as your solution, and that’s okay. I’m not reaching out to fellow worriers to get you to do things my way, I’m reaching out with hopes of helping you identify what worry really is and put it out of your life. For me, that means taking my fears and worries to God, placing them at his feet and believing he will take care of things. That isn’t to say nothing will ever go “wrong” in life, but when it does, I find comfort in knowing God is in control since I have put him there. However things play out, I hold tight to God’s hand, trusting that he will (by his word) provide the best outcome as well as comfort along the way. I can worry about something I don’t really have any control over, or I can give it to someone (God) who actually does have the power of control. And I know that does not mean everything always goes the way I (or any of us) intend or expect, but it does mean that whatever the outcome, it will be okay.

The other “epiphany” to dealing with the element of worry is to focus my mind in other areas. Going to God is number one, but taking action is second. By action I mean purposefully redirecting my thoughts; not focusing on what I’m worried about.

The biggest fears (for me) are of course the loss of a child or my husband, or anything destructive happening to them. In that case, I honestly don’t know how I would deal with it, but I do know now that worrying about it will not change anything or equip me for dealing any better. And the worry itself is more destructive in both the short-run and the long-run.

When something does happen, we do what we CAN do and, in my case, pray and believe through it. There is no such thing as preparing oneself for, or shielding against unfortunate things happening in life. They can and they will. But there is comfort and joy to be experienced from releasing fear and worry, and focusing only on what IS happening in life, not what MIGHT happen.

And there is great comfort to be found in knowing that when something DOES happen, there is a higher power ready and willing to take our hand and walk us through. We won’t be doing it alone or without power. Worry will continue to poke it’s ugly head up, but it only means we hammer it back down by whatever means we’ve found works for us (remember the Whack-A-Mole game?). The key is not to embrace the worry.

However you choose to break free from the bondage of worry, follow it through. We all have plenty of challenges to deal with daily, don’t let worry make the load heavier.

I wish you all the best!

Introvert or Extrovert


So many times I hear (or read) descriptions of introverts and extroverts and how people fall into one camp or the other. It always struck me as strange that I seemed to fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. Was I just a weirdo? Well, that may be so, but as it turns out, most people fall somewhere in the middle. So these so-called quizzes that place you in one camp or another are simply not accurate. Phew! Here is an article/blog I found that supports this very observation.http://www.fastcompany.com/3016031/leadership-now/are-you-an-introvert-or-an-extrovert-and-what-it-means-for-your-career

I think most of us will find we lean towards one of those personality descriptions a bit more than the other, but we also take a few traits from the “other side”. For example, I can lean towards the extrovert description in that I feel recharged in some social situations (usually with 1-3 people tops), but like introverts, I also need time alone to recharge. It depends on my particular mood at that particular time.

The extrovert side of me can also be quite outgoing (if the moon is aligned properly), but true to my introvert half, I am slow to build friendships (real friendships, not the easily acquired acquaintances).

Bottom line, none of us can be summed up quite so easily as one of only two options of personality. Each of us has a specific, unique personality that can be described in many ways on any given day.

Would you agree, or do you find yourself planted firmly in either the introvert or extrovert camp? There is no wrong answer.

Whether you land on one side or the other, or somewhere in the middle, your personality is uniquely you.

Image result for image of extrovert and introvert

Then there is Ambivert. A third option that fits neatly into everything stated above. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/both-introvert-and-extravert-ambivert_n_6177854.html

So, try to understand who you are then embrace it. 😉