I don’t want kids

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I don't see these as a part of my life.

I don’t see these as a part of my life.

As a woman in my late 20s I have noticed a trend among my friends; all of them seem to be getting married, having children or both. To them I send my deepest, heartfelt congratulations.

I also remind them, when it inevitably comes up, that I do not plan on having my own children.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore kids. These little people are just beginning their journey into the world and I can’t help but be completely besotted with the constant wonder and fascination they express. I have many small children in my life and I love every last one of them.

BUT …

when someone puts a baby in my hands then asks me when I plan on having my own, I get uncomfortable.

I cannot remember a time when I actively wanted my own children. There are times when I was less adverse to the idea, definitely, but as a whole, child rearing has never been a part of my life plan. I have a lot of ambitions in my life as does my husband. In all honestly, some of those ambitions are fairly selfish. We both want to be successful at our chosen careers (his: music, mine:writing) and after talking about our wants at length decided that children were most likely not on our radar. This was and is not a fly-by-night decision – It is a deeply personal decision that was made by two adults planning their futures.

So when you tell me I will change my mind, I find it very insulting.

Honestly, it is one of the worst things you can say to a person who isn’t planning on having children. There are a multitude of reasons why someone may not see kids in their future and really, it is no one’s business.

Don’t tell me I would be a fantastic parent – Yes, I am good with children. As I said before, I love kids. I spent my entire youth babysitting for family friends as well as my three younger cousins. I changed diapers, helped potty train, dealt with runny noses and was kept up during the night with sore tummies. I struggled through homework, I got them off to school in the morning. I cooked, cleaned and tucked them in. I did this part time and that was more than enough for me. I truly believe that yes, if placed in the situation, I would be a brilliant parent. The fact is, though, I don’t want to be a parent.

Don’t tell me I am missing out. First off, I don’t feel that I am. I don’t have to find a sitter if I want to go out for a drink on Friday night. I don’t have to worry about extra mouths to feed. I don’t have to worry about being woken at 3 a.m. over monsters under the bed. I can buy pretty ornaments and leave them out without worrying about them being broken by curious hands. I don’t have to baby-proof my house. Leaving the house isn’t a logistical nightmare of toys, nappies and bottles. I don’t feel I am missing out because these are not my priorities. If they are yours, that’s wonderful. I will help you pack the diaper bag, but it does not have a place in my day-to-day life.

Don’t tell me I will change my mind. I know my mind and I know my own goals in life. I honestly don’t see myself suddenly wanting to have kids after 29 years of not, but if I do change my mind, it is the business of myself and my husband, no one else.

don’t tell me I don’t understand. I know I don’t understand. I am fine with that. The fact is that I don’t want to understand.

Every child needs a slightly eccentric, cool aunt and I am more than happy to fit that bill. I look forward to the day that my brother has kids with his partner (if they so choose). I will love that child to bits. I adore spending time with my friends’ children and playing make-believe. I spin stories out of thin air that leave them in giggles. I write them tales where they get to be the main characters. I will be friend, confidante and family, whether biological or not. I will go home to my cats and visit again soon.

Let me be this person. I don’t tell you why you shouldn’t have kids, so please don’t tell me why I should.

AI

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Traveling with cats

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2014-12-28 14.46.36So my husband and I have two darling cats and every year they make the grand trip 2.5 hours to my parents house for Christmas. The old girl has done this two times before but the kitten is new to the trip. We are currently about 1/3 of the way there and have already learned some important life lessons.

– Bringing two cats does not make it easier. The cats will not keep each other company. They do not comfort one another. At all.
– Covering the cat carrier only makes the young one more agitated. Agitated cats yowl  continually.
– If there is a place you do not want your cat,  it will gravitate there like debris caught in the pull of a black hole.
– You can’t drown out the cats by turning up the music. They take this as a challenge.
– Eventually,  if your cat will give up. Don’t expect this to be calming for you or the cat. The cat may go completely limp and you may have to take a moment to make sure your feline hasn’t shaken this mortal coil.
– A cat, when stressed,  sheds a lot. If the older one isn’t bald by the time we reach our destination it will be a miracle.

I am sure there is still much to learn from the fur babies currently having a staring contest in the back seat. The elder isn’t in a carrier and seems to be mocking the younger in her tiny plastic prison.

I shall continue to watch how this little social hierarchy works out. Merry Christmas and Happy holidays.

AI

Contract Social Media – Becoming an Authoritative Voice in an Unknown Land

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Writing It’s a brave new world, my friends.

Since Nov. 8, 2014, I have been providing social media services (mostly Twitter and blog content) for Hogg Mechanical, a company  based in Kitchener, Ont. When I began this contract I wrote a post on this blog about my fear and how it kept me motivated. After two weeks of hard work and a lot of research I finally feel like I have a better idea of what I need to do to create effective content. I have received positive feedback from the company and am having a meeting to discuss a more aggressive approach to their social media campaign. I would say these are all very good signs that I am doing what is expected of me or more.

There is one hitch, though: I still know very little about HVAC as a trade.

This was the basis of my fear when I took over the social media contract; I was worried that my writing would show lack of knowledge. I was tweeting and blogging for a company with over 130 years of experience – I had to sound like I knew my stuff. Knowing this, I started researching. Over the past two weeks I have learned more about this trade than I ever expected in a lifetime. I read, I searched infographics, I went to the library, I Googled every little thing. I checked and double checked my information. It was stressful as sin but it worked. I was able to produce meaningful content with an air of familiarity that I didn’t quite yet feel.

The next thing I did was relied on my social media know-how. I know people react more to funny tweets than serious. I know a picture of a puppy in a parka will get more retweets than plain text. I know that people like bright infographics and links to interesting videos. Sifting through the junk can be a trial but it is so rewarding once you find that perfect piece of media.

I started interacting, asking questions on the twitter feed and on Facebook. I inquired what people wanted to know more about. Crowdsourcing gave me at least a month worth of blog topics.

Relying on your skills is wildly important. Research can’t be topped when it comes to the hard facts and as always, remember that social media is exactly that – social. Question your audience so you can give them what they want.

It has been a crazy couple weeks but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I am writing with passion and confidence while learning about something I never would otherwise.

I would love to hear your stories about new contract jitters! Leave a comment or reach out to me on Twitter (@idlehands85) and share your experiences!

AI

Stress and Delight – the hopes and fears of starting a new contract

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Hello all,

This week has been a good one for me, freelance-wise. Due to an impressive portfolio and a glowing review I managed to land a social media contract with a local HVAC company. I was (and still am) ecstatic about the new opportunity, but I am also absolutely terrified.

See, this is the problem faced by many freelance writers…

I know nothing about the HVAC industry. I know that when I turn on my air conditioning unit my home gets colder and that when the furnace kicks in things heat up. The intricacies of the industry are still a mystery. Needless to say my last few days have been crammed with large amounts of research. I will tell you now it is a lot to take in.

I am not complaining. One of my old professors once told me that the great thing about journalism is that you get to become an authoritative voice in something new every day. It is one of the things that drew me to journalism in the first place – no two days are ever the same. Picking up this contract is no different. Yes, I will be writing about heating and cooling systems regularly but there is no way I will be able to learn everything about an industry that has been around since the industrial revolution in such a short time. I will have to learn continually, do my research and keep up with developments in the trade. I am fortunate (and odd) enough to enjoy research so that is not a big issue for me.

I started by looking at trade magazines to give me an impression of the business, but since I am helping manage the social media aspect of the company I have been using a lot of social media to learn more. I have to figure out what will be effective and what won’t, media-wise. Always learn from those who came before!

The three main resources I have been using are:

Twitter – If your contract holder is using twitter, this is one of the best places to start. Search for similar companies, equipment companies and other groups that hold stock in the industry. See what is being tweeted about, what is being retweeted and what kind of hashtags are being used regularly. Figuring out the best way to tailor your tweets will give you an automatic leg-up.

Blogs – These are a fount of information. They make great links (especially if they’re by notable names or companies that your contract holder is associated with) and can teach you more about your contract holder’s industry. Even competitor’s blogs can give you useful information – just make sure you aren’t linking competitors when you are tweeting or adding Facebook posts.

Pinterest – I was actually floored by how much this site helped me. I typed HVAC into the search bar expecting nothing more than a few infographics to pop up in the results. I was so wrong! I was greeted with links to infographics, blogs, energy companies – you name it, it was there. I am still sifting through the information and probably will be for a long time.

There is endless information out there. This contract is a great opportunity for me and damned if I am going to let something as trivial as lack of knowledge slow me down!

Don’t let it slow you down, either.

AI

Back to writing – creepy is in the context

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So, those that follows this blog have no doubt noticed a few months of inactivity. Simply put, some personal issues paired with some of the worst writer’s block I have ever suffered manage to make posting rather challenging. I am trying to write again. I won’t lie, I am toying with some ideas that I think, if executed properly, could be great…

… but that means writing again.

This is just something I splatted out onto the page earlier this evening. It is first draft; given a cursory glance for glaring typographical errors and nothing more. I would really, REALLY appreciate comments.

 


Creepy is in the context

                Today I went to the local bookstore to browse and maybe pick up some new reading material. One thing to know about me: I am an obsessive hoarder of books. Honestly, it is a disease. The look, feel and smell of a book are simply unparalleled in my eyes. Any bibliophile will tell you there is no substitute. I do own an E-reader, but a little electronic gadget will never stop me from adding to my ever-expanding book collection.

                That said, bookstores are my holy land and every trip is a pilgrimage. I step through the doors and show my reverence – not through anything as overt as crossing myself or anointing myself at the fount– but by breathing in. The scent coming from the rows on rows of books is enough for me.

                I immediately took to traversing the store, visiting my favourite sections and pulling random texts off the shelves when suddenly, nature called. I made my way to the rest room to do what needed to be done. While taking my pit stop, I started to indulge in the available scriptures; the writing on the wall, if you will.

                For those that have not frequented women’s restrooms in the past, the graffiti can range anywhere from a scribbled “Kaylee +Josh 4ever” that has obviously been scratched out with a Sharpie after forever just seemed a bit too long to platitudes about life, the universe and womanhood. As I said before, bookstores are my Mecca and it is interesting to get some insight into my fellow biblio-worshippers through their own writing.

                The wall in this bookstore lavatory is scribbled with a lot of female empowerment, concepts of love and relationships à la Jane Austen, rebuttals scratched down in feminist outrage and similar anonymous musings. Essentially, what you would expect in any women’s bathroom stall. I was having fun reading through my street-lit session when my eyes glanced across one little statement etched into the grout between two tiles. It was very innocuous in its intent but inside a toilet stall, it was downright creepy.

                 “You are never alone.”

                I said before, the bookstore is my sanctuary, my holy place. I am a book devotee and this is my place of worship…

                 … but I seriously hope that the god of books isn’t interested in what I do in the loo.

iPod inspiration #2 – Greed

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“And there’s a crooked line I don’t want to take the time to straighten,
Cause when you do you realize it’s the whole damn world that’s bent.” – Patrick Stump, Greed

Time for iPod inspiration number two!

But first, a confession; I love Fall out Boy. I always have and when I found out they were (had) released a new album (Save Rock and Roll), I was rearing to own it. On the same note, when I found out that Patrick Stump had released a solo album (Soul Punk) I checked it out. Once I got used to the fact that it did NOT sound like Fall out Boy in the least (minus the obvious correlation between the lead singer’s voice) I started really getting into the sound. It’s currently one of my favourite walking albums.

But to the point, why have I chosen this quotation? Well, I work in service when I’m not writing and some of the fodder you get from the presented situations… well, you just can’t make them up. Call me jaded, but the world is a brilliantly twisted place and I like to watch it burn … it’s great for writing. In all seriousness, some of my best short stories have come from my experiences with the public; from snotty customers to the sad man who sat at his slot machine for three days straight, the world is full of things to write about if you open your eyes.

Even if you’re not in the trade of writing fiction, taking these situations and using them as an exercise in descriptive writing can do wonders for any potential paid work that could come your way. It’s easy enough to say “That man hasn’t moved from his chair in a while,” but think of how much more effective it would be to say:

My third shift in as many days and he’s still here; tiny in the over-sized chair, the clothes haven’t changed but the smell has. People will start complaining soon, but he seems oblivious. As long as his right hand can reach out and wrap around that lever, he still has hope – hope that the next pull will be the lucky one – hope that he will prove the deniers wrong – hope that he can be validated again. Lights and buzzers for the man beside him while he is greeted by mocking silence. Again.

I worked in an OLG slots and racetrack for many summers while I was at school and saw some wonderful and horrible things – and I learned a lot about the human condition. I learned how real psychological addiction can be. I learned about lying (“No honey, I’m just leaving the doctor’s office now” – said while walking off the gaming floor). and I learned how to both be compassionate and harden myself against the constant onslaught of humanity that you saw on the gaming floor. I was verbally abused and sexually harassed, but I also met some truly wonderful people. I saw the mundane and the strange…

… but let me tell you, Mr. Stump is right. The world is bent.

So write little vignettes about the oddities. Writing a description never harmed a writer’s style whereas not writing is always a detriment.

AI

Why you shouldn’t do something for nothing (pulled from ashleyidle.com)

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I pulled this post over from www.ashleyidle.com because I feel it follows the theme I would like to set for this blog. For those new to the blog, enjoy. For those that follow Feelin’ good, Lookin’ good, enjoy again!

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Would you ask an engineer to build a bridge for free, just so that he/ she could get “exposure?”

I hear you scoff, but people are asked to use their skills every day with no remuneration, just the promise of exposure or public recognition. It seems to be the huge arts/ science divide that brings this to light, too. Artists are expected to struggle, and because of that, people ask them to provide their services with no compensation offered other than the opportunity that someone, somewhere might see their work and they will be “discovered.”

A bigger problem yet is that these opportunities (if you can call them that) get snatched up almost as quickly as paying gigs. Young artists (writers and journalists included) are so desperate to get their name out there that they are willing to take any and all opportunities that come along, paid or not. I see this as a huge issue. While people are willing to give something for nothing, we all lose out on paid opportunities. Who will pay for something when they don’t have to?

The only way to make this exploitation of writers (and all other artists) change is for the majority to stop taking these unpaid “opportunities.” If the free talent pool dries up, many will be forced to pay and the problem will be, if not fixed, much better. Unfortunately, j-school teaches new writers  (not incorrectly) that they are going to have to give themselves, their creative selves, away for nothing to even have a chance at gaining employment in their field.

I see this as an unforgiveable situation in the arts world but also as one that isn’t going to change. As long as young journalists are told they have to give themselves away and greedy people are willing to exploit young writers the cycle will continue.

There are some situations where pro bono is not the worst thing in the world (small start-ups and certain independent/non profit works) but when larger groups, especially larger corporations get into the mix of taking something for nothing it really bothers me.

I know this isn’t my normal post, but I think it needed to be said. As a young writer, this is something that I have dealt with since graduating.

AI

www.ashleyidle.com