ten-year *itch

How’s everyone’s summer so far?

It occurred to me that I haven’t had a paid holiday or paid vacation day since 2007… Hello 10-year itch! Freelance life has been busy, and I am very grateful but I’d rather be at the beach.

But friends, this is not a rant, rather a plea. Summer is almost over and I only have sixty out of 100 items checked off my 100 days of summer list.

A few of the remaining forty are ongoing (like only use the clothesline) and others are solely up to me (clean my car) but here are a few that you’re welcome to sign up for. Give me a call, and let’s make it happen!

  1. go on a sail boat
  2. see Shakespeare by the Sea
  3. fly a kite
  4. ride a slip & slide
  5. hike Cape Chignecto
  6. go to a country fair
  7. ride shot gun in a car driven by Amanda
  8. have a water balloon fight
  9. go to a concert
  10. hike the Skyline Trail
  11. swim in the ocean
  12. dive into water
  13. host a strawberry shortcake cocktail party
  14. bike a trail
  15. pop a wheelie
  16. sleep in a tent
  17. run laps on a track
  18. play croquette
  19. night swim
  20. picnic with a basket and blanket
  21. celebrate with sparklers
  22. have a campfire
  23. dance in the rain
  24. leave the country
  25. tie dye
  26. eat from a food truck
  27. drink beer from a cooler
  28. go to a yard sale
  29. go tidal bore rafting
  30. try hot yoga
  31. visit McNabs Island
  32. take a water taxi

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calendar girl

Mark your calendar, 2017 is coming!

As mentioned way back here, I have been designing desktop calendars since 2009 and it has been one of my favourite things to make for friends and clients.

To change things up, I have decided to share a sneak peak with you today and if anyone wants to get their hands on one, I am taking orders! Yup, that’s right, for the first time ever, they are for sale!

Hello stocking stuffer:hello-2017-calendarThe calendar is ~5″ x 5.5″ and comes in a clear plastic calendar case – here are pics from last year’s run to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting. I have them printed digitally at a local printer and cut and package everything at home with my trusty paper cutter. The Hello 2017 calendar is $10 (includes the case)* and you’ll receive it before December 23. DSC_0598DSC_0603DSC_0612DSC_0611DSC_0616DSC_0609DSC_0595

If you are interested in one, please send a private request to meghanrushton@icloud.com before December 2** – I need to order, cut and package all of them and it takes time! BUT!!!! for those who have a copy of the 2016 calendar, the 2017 refill will be FREE – just let me know before December 2 if you want a refill (case not included in a refill).

*If you live outside of Halifax and need one (or more) mailed, I will add shipping to the cost. **Order fast, I have 50 cases and will limit orders if things get too crazy. 

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reality bites

I work from home. Do I like it? Yes!

Okay, mostly.

Why? Probably because I have yet to be offered a job where the cubicle comes with a Golden Retriever. But, in all seriousness, I didn’t actually set out to be a self-employed freelancer… it kind of just happened and although there has been many times I have thought about giving it all up for a nine-to-fiver, there hasn’t been a good enough opportunity to do so.IMG_4348 Rewind to the end of 2007 – Mike and I were DINKS (Dual Income, No Kids) living in Montreal and even though we loved it, the time came for us to move back to Halifax for Mike’s job. This was both a blessing and a problem. A blessing because most of our family and friends are in Halifax and we knew that’s where we wanted to buy a home and have a child but a problem because I finally had a job I loved and did not want to leave. I left the city heartbroken and unsure about looking for a new job. IMG_4346Long story short. It turns out it is a lot harder to leave my job than I thought and I have been lucky enough to continue working from home as one of their freelancers for eight years. The world is big but so are servers and online communication.IMG_4351I juggle freelancing and personal projects all from the comfort of my home and have done so since January 2008. Happy anniversary to me!IMG_4349

Recently I was asked for tips on how to work from home so I thought I’d share some responses to question I get asked a lot. I AM a professional, so take what you want from this.

  • How do you stay productive? I am by nature productive. The busier I am, the better it is for me. If I am only half-busy, then my work and focus become half-ass so the busier the better (call me, please). That being said, it is easy to get distracted so it’s smart to set up a legit office space that you go to every day. I stay in my office all day and, a few years ago, switched from a laptop to a desktop to avoid couch time. I use my laptop for blogging and remote work and limit the amount of freedom and flexibility one could expect from a self-employed person.
  • Do you wear your PJs every day? No. Although I can wear what I want, I never wear PJs or yoga pants because leisure wear makes me feel lazy. My trick is to give my space an office-casual dress code – jeans and slippers are acceptable. The easiest way I accomplish this is by getting up and leaving the house every morning – I go for a run, walk the dog, shower and then walk David to school meaning the PJs have to come off. (I have a huge problem with people who wear PJs in public)
  • Are you lonely? Meh. Some days yes but I have become very comfortable with solitude. On the rare occasions I find myself in an office with other people, it is very distracting. Yes I listen to music, podcasts and Netflix in the background but in all honesty, I think it is way more productive than what goes on around cubicles.
  • How many hours a week do you work? Paid: That depends ~20 to +40 hours. Non paid (committee work, blogging and personal projects): ~15 hours at least!
  • Would you go back to working in an office? Sure, but I have yet to find something that has made it worth giving up what I have.
  • Can you design something for me? Sure! Send me an email and I will send you a quote!
  • What do you need to set up a home-office? In my office I have two computers, two printers, an iPhone, a big desk, shelves, a dog, books and magazines galore, a water cooler, lots of storage and lots and lots of stuff pinned to the wall for inspiration and enjoyment. Make sure you have a good internet connection – buy the best. You can write off these kind of luxuries.
  • What do you need to do to set up as a self-employed person? If you are not an accountant or unable to do so, find an accountant! You need a business number (GST number) and must know how to send a proper invoice. Never delete email correspondence and be very organized. WRITE IT DOWN. Prioritize.
  • It must be awesome to have so much flexibility. Yes and no. Working from home means you have the ability to always take work home with you so it can be hard to walk away at 5:00. You also end up being the one on-call for family and friends. Plus, for me, it feels wrong to wander far from my office when I know others are working. I am always afraid I’ll miss call or email even though my phone is with me.
  • Do you ever work from a coffee shop instead? No. It’d be like working in an office – too distracting and unproductive.
  • Do you take extra-long lunches? Rarely. I would like to try and get back to occasional lunch-hour work-outs and try and arrange lunch dates more often.
  • I “love” your blog, do you love working on it? Yes, thank you. I love creating content but it’d be even better if I got more comments and subscribers. The more action it sees, the better my chances are of making it a paying gig.
  • What’s the worst part about being self-employed? People don’t take me seriously. I think people think my job is not real because I work from home and get to do a lot of creative things. I know it is not brain surgery but I do try and make a living at it.
  • Do you work whenever you want? I mostly work when Mike is at work and David is at school. I have allowed some flexibility (such as occasional parent-volunteering at school, taking David to late-afternoon swim lessons, and during marathon training I did my long runs on Friday mornings). Before David, I had a hard time walking away from the office after putting in a full day of work. Now I don’t have a choice because I am responsible for after-school pick-up at before 5:30 and value my evenings.
  • Finally, how long do you see yourself doing this? Ask me tomorrow and I may have a totally different answer than today so who knows?

IMG_4350Perks to working from home:

  • My commute is non existent. Henry and I walk David to school but once I am home, I stay home.
  • I can switch a load of laundry mid day, hang it out and I can (but barely) prep dinner and pop it in the oven.
  • I mostly communicate to co-workers and clients by ichat or email… meaning, I can easily ignore people and avoid office drama and banter. That being said, because I am just a ‘virtual’ person… people share more with me because I am not really there.
  • Forget water-cooler conversations, I have Podcasts, Netflix and CBC to keep me company.
  • I usually never miss a parcel delivery. Nothing is worse than the dreaded slip telling you that you missed your delivery and it is now at the Post Office but you have to wait until 1 pm the next day to collect it. WHY!!!???

IMG_4347Cons to working from home:

  • When I am not busy I am not getting paid.
  • I have to invoice, fill taxes (ok, my father-in-law does this but I still have to save everything and keep it organized) and take care of IT problems (and by taking care of IT problems, I mean tracking down the IT guy from the Montreal office) all by myself.
  • I can get a little shack-wacky, which is why I have no problem going out 3 or 4 nights a week.
  • I have to limit my J.Crew purchases – cute shoes and dresses are rare so I don’t need a lot of nice clothes.
  • No lunching with the co-workers + no office parties (not totally true) + no Friday afternoon beer in the office fridge + no office lottery or oscar pools + no bonus or evaluations.

IMG_4345How about you? Do you work from home and like it? Any tips to share? Any questions I didn’t answer? I’d love to hear about your day!

psst. All photos were taken with my iPhone. Sorry – I did not clean up.
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the September issue

September is wrapping up and I need a game plan. For reals. Although I rarely take time off in the summer, there is something about warm weather and flip flops that allows me to slack off a bit. But now I need a good kick in the butt to change things up, get things done, get new projects and actually be busy. When I am busy, I am happy and that’s my key to surviving winter.

Those of you who work 9-5’s with pensions and vacation time may not get it but, with all of the perks to being self-employed, working from home with a golden retriever under the desk can still be stressful at times. Work does not always land on your plate, you have to fight, you have to beg, you have to lower your expectations, you have to question yourself, you have to do things you don’t want to do and you have to do things you hate doing.

I know, everyone who works likely has things about their job they hate doing. This weekend I attended a reading by Elaine Lui (laineygossips.com) at Word On The Street. (I have been following her blog for over nine years… actually, I’ve been reading her blog longer than I’ve known what a blog was. True, I love the gossip but I think what actually draws me there is her writing, her ambition and her way of staying classy despite the reputation one may have about being a gossiper.) At the end of Lui’s reading there was a Q&A and someone asked her who were the worst celebrities she’s interviewed. Her response was that most are terrible; celebrities put themselves on pedestals and they often think they’re better than everyone else. But in all honesty, if they don’t promote themselves or sell themselves to the media and public, then they are more likely to fail. Interviews and promotion are a part of their job so even though they hate it, they still need to do it, and they should do it well.

What do I hate? I hate asking for help. I hate knowing what I want, but not sure how to get it. I hate putting myself out there and wondering if it matters. I hate questioning all of this. I hate wondering if I should just find a job in an office with vacation time and a pension but no dog even though I know I really don’t want to find a job in an office with vacation time and a pension.

I think the key to success is pushing yourself rather than expecting other’s to do it for you … So I am going to work on that first. Although no one is paying me to write this… I will still make an effort. Although I don’t need to make a homemade Holiday Card, I will still spend too much time thinking about a fresh new idea. I will make 20 calendars and a big batch of marmalade to give out. Why bother? Why send mail when you can email? Because you have to do what you love doing as much as you have to do what you hate doing. And if you mix em up then maybe the bad won’t be so bad and the good will be even gooder. Amiright?

So with all this and that. Here’s my fall to-do list. The summer wrap-up post is coming next week because in my mind, summer is not over ’till my toes are numb.

  • Polish up the website portfolio
  • Update the CV and cover letter
  • Make David’s halloween costume
  • Design the 2015 desk calendars
  • Mail birthday cards to all of my nieces and nephews… even the ones that have already happened… because late is better than never
  • Plan more lunch dates
  • Road trip
  • Buy a 2014-2015 office-wear cardigan (Here is last year’s)
  • Cook more
  • Bake more
  • Watch Pitch Perfect (I can’t believe I still haven’t watched this movie!)
  • Design and mail the 2014 holiday cards
  • Network
  • Learn how to network
  • Read more magazines
  • Run a marathon (I registered!!!)
  • Take more pictures with the nice camera
  • Make marmalade
  • Go on a spa date
  • Walk in the park at least once a week
  • Ride my bike more
  • Plan meals
  • Plant some bulbs
  • Go swimming in a pool
  • Finish my push-up challenge
  • Listen to the radio more
  • Stay in a hotel
  • Start weekly dinner parties
  • Get some fun new projects or find an amazing new job

How about you? Any fresh ideas or plans? (Please tell me I am not the only one struggling in September.) IMG_1338

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