2017—A Summary

2017—What can I say? In a lot of ways 2017 kicked my ass. I’ve despaired more times than I can count. I’ve also rolled up my sleeves and done more political activism than ever before. I’ve challenged myself in innumerable ways, through work, personal relationships, and parenting. I’ve also thrown up my hands lots of times, had too much booze, gained weight, watched a ton of TV, curled up and licked my wounds. Staying informed and engaged this year has been a matter of taking a daily barrage of gut-punches.

I am frequently exhausted by the mental and physical requirements of my job; it leaves me feeling depleted and out of gas at the end of many days. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I edit for a living, I embarked on a fun personal challenge to read broader and more challenging categories/genres of books for pleasure. Filling up my mind is always one of my highest priorities, and I’ve stretched into reading fiction and nonfiction about contemporary issues and people who are living lives that are a vastly different from my own. Rock!

I’ve also allowed myself a lot of time to change slowly. I see this as a kind of self-care in a year that by any measure surely required it. Win some, lose some. I barely painted at all, and I miss it every day. I still dream about painting at night. I struggle with finding the perfect cocktail of opportunity, free time, emotional wherewithal to face the complex feelings of ambition/desire/failure/striving/laziness/etc that well up when I approach a canvas. I barely exercise. I barely blog. These are things that have always given me joy or emotional and health benefits, and they have fallen by the wayside. Because I can only exist in this moment, not in all moments at once.

I’ve parented through a few doozies, and advocated for my boys a number of times in assorted settings such as school and health care. I’ve watched my children both maturing beautifully and in sometimes shocking and sudden spurts throughout the year. Learning to let go is a daily lesson, and I believe a quintessential quality of being a parent. As much as I want out of life for myself—and believe me that’s a long and glorious list—I want even more and better for them. But I am not them and they are not me, and ultimately we all walk our own paths. Nevertheless, I often feel like I am not one but three people, because there’s nary a moment when their needs are not at the top of my mind and factored into just about every decision I make. I’ve had to pull back from school activities and volunteering. I have feelings about this, but I’m learning to say no. Saying no can save you. And letting go, in measured increments, with love is the name of this parenting game, from that first Beltane dawn in 2002.

I am blessed to have found meaningful employment in a place I can grow and develop my career. I already said it’s taxing. It’s also truly wonderful to have friends and colleagues again—talented people with passion for what they do and amazingly clever minds solving enormous problems and working from value positions I can respect. My company has a slogan: We make big things possible—in areas that matter for humans and our environment. That I have a part to play, a contribution to make, in projects that will affect our state for the next 50-100 years is somewhat staggering and a source of considerable pride. What’s more, I learn about a dozen new things every day in subjects that were largely previously unknown to me: hydrology, cultural anthropology, historical architecture, air quality, noise and vibration, native California species I’ve never seen before, environmental justice, hazardous materials … the list goes on and on and on. What’s more, I can tell you with great confidence: big infrastructure projects and development are not done cavalierly in California! We live in the best state.

I maintained my freelance business this year, too, working joyfully with Sacramento Magazine monthly and taking on special freelance projects for fun. There’s one project that came to me this year that is very close to my heart because I get to work with two brilliant friends. I’m honored and delighted by this.

This year I’ve proven to myself that I can handle more than I thought. I’ve done a gazillion new things, sometimes clumsily, sometimes with grace. I’m on a board of directors. I’ve worked hard to maintain all my relationships. I try to make contact with three or four people every day. That’s called kin-keeping and I’m a badass at it. My friendships nourish me and fulfill me and I know it’s goofy when I say it on Facebook but I truly love you. I witness your heartaches, your striving. I sit with you when you’re depressed, and I celebrate your accomplishments every day. I am here for you. It’s who I am. Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for loving.

My love, Ian, is my rock and my best friend. We are sometimes gasping for air in the grind of all this work-family stuff, but we’re connected and in it together. He’s my heartbeat, my song. In 2017, we’ve managed to put a new roof on our home and fix it up really nice. It’s water-tight, just right, and the place I love best of all. In. The. Whole. World. And 2018 is going to be grand in a whole bunch of important ways.

My family is good. My parents are well. My brother is doing great. My uncle survived not one but two open heart surgeries in 2017. One cousin had a beautiful baby girl. Another cousin got married to a wonderful woman. My aunt and uncle returned to Sacramento after five years in Geneva. My folks are in my life almost daily, and I feel their love and support as a constant, no matter what.

My Asher is sick. My Lucas has two good friends over tonight, for NYE (ethernet!) gaming. And though Ian and I had the opportunity to spend tonight with shiny friends and loves, cooler (sicker) heads prevailed.

In just about 36 hours we’ll be on a plane all together—Mom, Dad, Jonathan, Ian, the boys and me—heading for Maui where we will celebrate the new year and soak up some rays! Hello, 2018!

Probably all of this should be on my blog instead of here. But it’s down again for an unknown reason. I’ll deal with that later. One thing at a time.

Anyway, I love you. May this coming year be gentler, more peaceful and just, and more connected. May we find our courage and stand together. May we hold close our values and loved ones, extend a hand to a stranger, shine out our brilliance, and let our resilience be our strength. Happy New Year!

2017 Read Harder Challenge Results

My 2017 Read Harder Challenge Results: 20/24

1. Read a book about sports. 0
2. Read a debut novel. “The Strangler Vine” by M.J. Carter
3. Read a book about books. “The Bookseller (first Hugo Marston Novel)” by Mark Pryor 
4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. 0
5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. (1) “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri; (2) “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon
6. Read an all-ages comic. “Cleopatra in Space #3: Secret of the Time Tablets”
7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. (1) “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley; (2) “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. Read a travel memoir. “The Olive Grove” by Katherine Kizilos
9. Read a book you’ve read before. (1) “The Name of This Book Is Secret” by Pseudonymous Bosch; (2) “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald
10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. “Walking After Midnight” by Kate Abbott
11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. “The Strangler Vine” by M.J. Carter
12. Read a fantasy novel. (1) “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler; (2) “The Magicians” by Lev; (3) Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising #1) by Susan Cooper
13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil DeGrass Tyson
14. Read a book about war. “City of Theives” by David Benioff
15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. 0
16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country. “Native Son” by Richard Wright
17. Read a classic by an author of color. “Native Son” by Richard Wright
18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead. (1) “Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1)” by Marissa Meyer; (2) “Cleopatra in Space #3: Secret of the Time Tablets”
19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey. “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” Paolo Coelho
20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel. “What’s in a Name” by Pat Henshaw
21. Read a book published by a micropress. 0
22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri
23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. “Rose” by Li-Young Lee
24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler

Weekend Moments

Despite lots of working for me (12 hours) and Lucas’s case of folliculitis caused by prolonged exposure in the lake last week, we managed to have some lovely moments this weekend.

* early-morning walk by myself

* clay play

* dinner out with Papa and Grandma S for her birthday

* yummy BLT sandwiches made by Ian

* watching Asher dance and sing, “I like my Mom and Dad”

* an evening walk through the neighborhood all together

* finding our first green and brown acorns of the season on the ground

* watching nimble Lucas leaping to and fro across the drainage ditch (and hoping he wouldn’t fall)

* a quick trip to the thrift store for school clothes for Lucas: four pairs of pants (including two lined pairs) and nine shirts (both short and long-sleeved, one sweater, and a hoodie) for $50

* a quick trip to the used book store to recirculate a bunch of old books and find new ones for the whole family: five novels for me and Ian, five or six books for the kids

* playing a new game Asher invented called “shopping,” in which an old computer keyboard became his cash register, and flat Lego pieces were dollars. He’s pretty great about making change.

* a tad of reading Torpedo Juice, by Tim Dorsey and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


Last Time

Today and for the next two or three days I have to work my magazine job for the last time. I am feeling sad and disappointed about this, but I also have a plan.  I will conduct myself with the utmost professionalism, grace, and style. I will catch errors big and small. I will be seen by as many people in the office as possible, and I will network my ass off! I look super-hot today too.

Watch me. I’m on FIRE.

Résumé Sent!

Spent a ton of time adding recent experience to my out-of-date résumé. Then I gave it to my friend, Dakini_grl to slash the hell out of it, which she did with great wisdom and discretion. Out with the old! Thank you, Dakini!   

It’s kinda funny. I guess with regard to my résumé I was still mentally operating as though I were still just starting out, when every job I ever touched seemed crucial and relevant. Funny how we fall into patterns. I am not just starting out. In fact, I’ve been able to make a solid living doing what I do on my own, and within my own values and the parameters of my family life for 4.5 years now. And dammit, that’s no small thing. And Ian kindly pointed out to me that I’ve lost exactly nothing if this opportunity doesn’t come through. Thanks, honey.

Big Opportunity

I don’t even know how to talk about it, but a colleague of mine, with whom I’ve worked on several large projects, contacted me yesterday with a cryptic message: “Need any work? I have a great referral for you if you have time. Pay is around $XX-XX per hour. Interested?”

“Why yes, my friend. So kind of you to think of me. A big contract just ended and my plate is actually empty now,” I replied. That $XX-XX per hour rate is freakin' sweet, which makes the work appealing even if it isn’t something I’d normally be into. So now I’m busily updating my résumé, which I absolutely despise doing. (It must be done religiously Once Per Year Or Else, although if I did it more often it would be so much easier.) For this potential client, I’m spinning it in the direction of technical writing and developmental editing, the first of which is a small stretch, the second of which is no problem. I’m just not that great at selling myself on a good day, and frankly, right now I’m really rusty at it. But I shall carry on! I shall bravely do tasks I hate. I shall courageously take on tasks I'm not 100% sure I’m capable of doing. We’ll see …

New Opportunities

I took about a half day to feel sad and let down about the magazine gig ending. Then I emailed around to some other clients. Looks like one client will have a big massage book for me that must get into production by June 1, which will require about 30 hours a month for me, starting the beginning of February through May/June. She also has a giant medical terminology textbook that needs revision; the author is someone I really like, so I’m pleased to get aboard that revision. Plus, it will be steady work through the fall. She may also need me to write a manuscript on a natural health topic, but this one isn’t definite yet. So, other doors are opening up. That feels good.

Bummed About This

Yesterday I received an email informing me that my contract position with the magazine has been terminated. From the 6th of February through the 11th, I’ll work there proofreading the issue for the last time. I’m really pretty bummed about it, as I was feeling at home and secure finally—like I was really part of the editorial team there, contributing in my own circumscribed way. The editor who let me go was very kind and complimented the quality of my work extensively. She made it clear that the change was due only to budget cuts, and not for any substantive reason, which I appreciate knowing. Reading her compliments (and rereading them) has been making the blow a little easier to take, but I am very disappointed about this. I came to rely on that income each month, certainly. Yet, somehow this contract became more than a contract for me. I became friends with the people there. It was a place where I could be a professional working with other professionals in person and out in the world. That may sound like I dislike working from home by myself, but that’s not the case. I just liked having those three to four days each month doing something else. It was refreshing and I always learned new things, sometimes about AP style and journalism, sometimes about my home town. I thought the contract might someday morph into a full-time job, later on after my kids are bigger—you know, when I am ready.

I will probably still be assigned some freelance jobs here and there, when they have a special need. I will continue to write for the magazine, which I’m kind of fired up about lately. So they will probably continue to be a valued client. But my exceptionally sweet gig is at an end.

Work: Message I Sent to BAEF List

Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 12:32 PM
To: editorsforum@yahoogroups.com [Bay Area Editors' Forum]
Subject: RE: [editorsforum] Silence

Strange that the “Silence” topic would cause me to break mine.

I must admit I often feel shy and intimidated by all the brainiacs on this list and the FREELANCE list. I mostly lurk and glean important tips whenever I have the time to do so. I rarely find my voice in this forum.

My freelance editing, proofreading, and writing are my bread and butter, however, I’ve been doing it for a relatively short period (4.5 years) compared to many of you. Also, my operation is small and weirdly specialized (magazine work, computer and video game strategy guides, allied health textbooks, and the odd monograph or college text). I like my few steady, long-term clients. Oddly, this mix is usually enough.

I find I tend to go the easy route in my business at all times, in part because I’m not a true entrepreneur at heart but also because I’m mothering two small children (5 and 11 months). I often dream of marketing myself to more and better clients, taking on more challenging jobs, learning new software and skills, but usually find I have no time to pursue those things, at least right now. I am fortunate to have my husband’s income as well as my own.

I eagerly await the day when I can make the drive from Sacramento to SF for the BAEF meetings, but for now that is impractical. I wonder if there are any other BAEF members in Sacramento who would like to carpool sometime … I never thought to ask before now.

The replies I got made me feel good, so I’m posting them here for me to keep:

Hilary Powers, Goddess of Word, wrote: “Your voice is assuredly welcome, and your specialties are fascinating, being different from mine! The relief of attending to someone else’s triumphs and problems (instead of one’s isolated own) is immense. 

“More to the point, are there any BAEF members in Sacramento who would like to get together THERE from time to time?

“Just as the South Bay members did last year, you can find each other here and start brightening one another’s lives and sharing insights without hauling yourselves a coupla hours each way on a weeknight….”

Christine Freeman wrote: “I wanted to say thanks to you, Sara, for sharing this. Your life now is quite a bit like mine was when my children were growing up. Being a freelance editor was a wonderful way to balance work and family. For the past several years, we’ve had both our children in college, and now the younger one is in her final semester. The week she went off to college, I had my first interview for a job in a real office, working in a team environment. …

“I’m in a “real” job in my chosen newer field now, and I’m grateful every day for what I learned from my years as a freelance editor. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, and my kids wouldn’t be who they are, without that.

“And, for years, BAEF was my major connection to others doing related work. It’s a great organization. Some day, when your kids are old enough, come into the city for a meeting that really sounds attractive to you. You’ll love it.”

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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