I Surrender

Life has felt incredibly chaotic lately – which offers an easy explanation for why I haven’t posted anything on here in quite some time. However, I think my lack of presence on my blog goes a little deeper than simply being too busy to show up. 

Setting expectations can be a slippery slope for me. I often put unrealistic expectations on myself, leading to disappointment, guilt, and a lot of frustration. A few months ago, my creative energy was flowing and I felt ready to turn my blog into a business. I wrote blog post after blog post, (finally) published my eBook after over a year of work, and even began consulting marketing experts who could help me get this dream off the ground.

Then, I hit a wall. 

I’m grateful to possess the understanding that creative energy can’t be forced. So, I chose patience over frustration and decided I’d take a break from blogging. I think God chose this timing because the reality is, I needed to focus on my personal life. 

  • I’ve got a second baby on the way and a first-born who needs me. 
  • My partner and I recently bought our home and we’ve got an endless list of projects we’d like to tackle.
  • I’m still learning to navigate a career shift that began nearly a year ago. 
  • I’m also still working on my mental health – something that I’d expected to have “in the bag” by now but I’m realizing it’s a much longer road than I’d once thought. 

Starting an online business likely wasn’t the right move when I thought it was, and that is A-okay but it took me first feeling truly incapable of doing so to really realize it. God stopped me in my tracks and instead of resisting, I decided to listen. I’m realizing how this concept can be applied to more parts of life. 

Sometimes God sends us a message to slow down, take a break, or shift our attention and it’s important to listen to and honor that message. It is important to note that God doesn’t always speak to us in the most straight-forward, easy-to-interpret way either. 

A few months ago, right around the time when I posted one of my last blog posts, my daughter suffered from a seizure. It was caused from a high fever and it was the first of its kind that she’s ever experienced. In the moment when I watched her lips and face turn blue and felt her heart stop beating beneath my hand, I truly thought she was gone. In that moment, I felt myself surrender. I looked at her and I knew that it was in God’s hands now as I prayed for him to please, please bring her back to us.

She quickly returned, fully recovered, and has been doing well since. She’s still coming down with fevers quite frequently which leads to plenty of anxiety but with time it is getting easier. Since she had that seizure, my perspective has shifted immensely. 

I’m no longer taking good times for granted as I once did. I’m much more immersed in the present moment than I was before. Days spent breathing and healthy with my family are a cause for celebration. I’m looking around at my life and thanking God every day for all that he has blessed me with and for every single moment

When times do feel tough, I’m a lot less likely to think “why me” but leaning more towards, “we’ll get through this, we’ve made it through tough times before”. I’m remembering that the tough times have a place just like the good times do and I’m trying my best to embrace them for what they are. 

So, today I am here to tell you that I surrender. 

  • I’m giving up on any unrealistic expectations I’ve set for myself.
  • I’m listening to God when he tells me to slow down.
  • I’m focusing on what’s in front of me and embracing reality, rather than letting myself worry about hypotheticals. 
  • I’m working hard to not take life too seriously, because it is important to remember that any moment could be our last

As far as marketing my blog, I’m surrendering that ideal for the time being as well. That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on a goal or dream, but just recognizing that now doesn’t seem to be the best time for me. I want to get back to the roots of why I started this blog – as a creative outlet and a way of connecting with others. 

After getting some online marketing advice, I determined that having a product, service, or course to sell are some of the main ways that people make money using a blog. I was also advised to determine a niche and really pin down an audience. As far as this website goes, it’s purely me and I don’t have anything to sell at this time. 

For that reason, I’ve realized that attempting to turn this into a business right now just doesn’t seem like the right move. I was setting too high of an expectation for myself and it took the enjoyment out of something that I once loved. I still hope to one day run an online business, whether it be through this site or another one (trust me, I have plenty of ideas) but I know when the timing is right it will come together exactly as it should. 

So, here’s to letting go of expectations, listening to our intuition, and slowing down when needed. Here’s to getting back to blogging for the right reasons and remembering, this may never go anywhere business-wise and that is entirely okay, as long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing. 

I’ve realized that you can’t always turn to someone for a clear-cut answer — it’s actually almost always more complicated than that. Which is why we often lie to ourselves and pretend there’s an easy fix in a difficult situation. Following your intuition will lead you where you’re meant to go, but that’s often the more difficult path because you have to accept full accountability when things don’t go to plan. 

Xx

Therapy Reflections: What’s Your Idea of Success?

My therapist and I have come to the conclusion that I have a serious fear of failure. The birth trauma I experienced after my daughter’s birth became an unplanned cesarean was mostly due to a feeling of failure. I felt like I had set a goal and I fell through. Every time I see other women give birth naturally, this voice in my head still says, “She did it, and you couldn’t.” 

I’m still working on healing from this trauma but I’ve made some progress. Meditation has been a big part of my healing process. While I meditate, I practice certain mindfulness exercises, such as remembering the positive moments from my daughter’s birth. Or focusing on how amazing she is, and remembering that no matter the pain that resulted from her birth, I’d do it all over again and again for her. 

I’m still working on the fear of failure though, in multiple aspects of my life. As I continue to work through the career transition of going from a full-time nurse to a part-time freelancer, I frequently struggle with insecurities. 

Am I even a good writer?

Is all of this work actually going to pay off? 

Luckily, I rarely ask myself if I’m in the right place because I’m entirely confident that I am. Even with that confidence, I’ve definitely looked at old nursing colleagues with some envy. I know that following my heart will eventually lead to a higher income, but for now, it can be hard to be patient. Sometimes I make great money and other times I don’t, which often causes me to reminisce on that consistent paycheck I used to get as a nurse. I was explaining all of this to my therapist when she asked a very interesting question.

“How long did it take for your nursing pay checks to feel worth it?”

“Like, how long was I working before I got my first paycheck or..?”

“No, like how long did it take for it to feel worth it?” 

Well, it never felt worth it. It never felt worth it to be away from my daughter for that long when she was so young. It never felt worth it on the nights when I wasn’t sure if we’d have enough breastmilk to feed her for my 12-hour shift and I sat up crying, waiting to pump again, imagining making yet another compromise and switching her to formula.

It never felt worth it when my mental health was deteriorating and I was falling into some of the same mental health cycles that I was raised around. It never felt worth it when I realized I was making some of the same mistakes that my own mom made, mistakes that I promised I’d grow from and refrain from repeating myself. It never felt worth it to look in the mirror and feel entirely lost. Who am I? Who am I becoming? It never, ever felt worth it to feel entirely out of the loop of my daughter’s life, and my own life. 

So, yes, money is important but it definitely isn’t everything and it’s nothing when you’ve lost everything else. 

My idea of success used to be a paycheck. It used to be going to college, getting a job, and making money. But now I’m realizing that success goes so much deeper than that.

My idea of success is being present with my family, having my own mental health in order so that I can raise my children in a happy, healthy environment. My idea of success is freedom –financial freedom and well as mental freedom. Clarity, working towards something I love.

And that’s why I know I’m in the right place. Because I love what I do. I love how I spend my days, whether it be days spent with my daughter or days spent sitting at my laptop typing away. I’m spending my days as I am, not because someone told me I should, not because “this is what I went to school for”, but I’m spending my days as I am because this is what I feel called to do. I’m following my heart and living life authentically and purely. I’m practicing mindfulness and only moving forward as I see fit. 

I truly believe that if you live life authentically, follow your heart and do exactly what you feel called to do, the money will come later. 

I know it will pay off one day and I’m okay with that wait time because while I’m waiting for it to pay off, I’ll be doing what I love in the meantime. 

So, what’s your idea of success? Are you spending time in a way that aligns with your values or do you feel like you’re compromising? 

A Bump Abroad: Lessons Learned from Publishing My First eBook

I’ll never forget the train ride I took from Florence to Rome. I was buzzing with creative energy after getting inspired in the city known for Renaissance art and being home to incredibly dedicated individuals who’ve impacted our culture for generations. 

As I flip through the journal that I took along with me for the journey, I read some of the most personally relatable sentences I’ve written, all spur-of-the-moment, all before I ever got paid a dime to write, all before I even knew I’d start a blog one day. 

“Breaking free from the comparison to others. The guidelines, the status quo, the “norm”. It will open you up to the world. It will free you.”

“I want to live. I want to create more. I want to watch things come together. I want to grow. I want to be compelling.” 

I get chills as I reread these words because at the time, I had no idea how deeply relevant they would one day be to me. I had no idea how this creative energy would stick to me, and continue to follow me for months and months before I finally realized the importance of utilizing my creativity. Today, I realize that I am a deeply creative person and when I don’t hone into this part of myself, I’m prone to feeling lost and unfulfilled.

I still struggle with letting go of the “status quo” as I let my nursing career continue to fade away. I’m approaching one year since I walked away from nursing and I know that my professional resume is becoming less and less impressive as the months pass me by. I’ve considered going back part-time, but would only do so if it allowed me enough time to still write because this is my true passion. 

Little did I know that the half-hazard travel reflections that I scribbled into that journal as I moved from city to city back in 2019 would be the beginnings of my first published piece of writing. Once I returned to the states, I couldn’t stop thinking about my need to create, and I knew my career wouldn’t help me meet those needs. I started this blog and my first story told of my experience in Florence (I’m not sure that this is a coincidence). 

Today, I’m approaching the release of my eBook, “A Bump Abroad”, which details my entire journey through Europe, during which I was 6 months pregnant. Today I’m sharing a few pointers for anyone who may be in the process of publishing an eBook, or hoping to do so in the future because I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. 

Outsourcing is important, but it can be a hit or miss.

It took me forever to draft out my 12,000-word eBook and eventually I got to a point where I felt like I just couldn’t look at it anymore. This is when I decided to try outsourcing some of the work. I figured I’d need to outsource the publishing and formatting work because I felt like I had no idea where to begin. I found someone through Fiverr and paid her $100 to help me through the publishing process (in hindsight, this wasn’t the best choice).

I later asked her to help me edit the final draft as well, for this service she asked for an additional $100. I agreed and sent the money.

Eventually, she sent me the edited version of the book without any publishing information. I stupidly approved the work, not knowing what I was doing, since I’d never used Fiverr before. For over a month I messaged her asking about the publishing information that I’d paid her for. “I’ll send it,” she kept responding. Finally, I reached out to customer service to help with the process. 

They told me it was too late to get any money back but they could try reaching out to the freelancer to get the information sent to me. She delivered but still, I was a bit disappointed. The “published guide” was obviously a pre-written guide, written for all clients with no personalized aspects. Over half of it discussed deciding on a topic to write about, drafting and editing your eBook – all things I’d already done and didn’t need any information on. 

She also sent me a YouTube video to show me how to publish through Amazon. 

Safe to say, I was quite disappointed with this but I realized that’s the risk that comes along with hiring a freelancer to help you. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised, other times, you’re not.  Which leads me to my next point…

You probably can publish on your own if you just take some time to research it

As long as you have a basic understanding of using technology, you can likely get your book published for free. I learned this lesson the hard way.

After being disappointed with the outsourced help I received, I realized I could have just paid someone to edit the book and done my own research on publishing and just gotten it done myself.

All I really had to do was get the book drafted and convert it for free using Draft2Digital and then it was ready to upload to any site. Also, this website can publish the book for you so it’s a one-stop shop. Not to mention, it’s free. I’ll delve a little more into this in the next section where I break down the full process.

My eBook Publishing Process

Here’s a brief overview of the process I followed for eBook publishing:

  • I originally began with a book manuscript template in Pages, but Word also offers some book templates for non-Mac users. I just personally liked the options in Pages better. 
  • Once my eBook was drafted out I paid a graphic designer to design a cover for me. I read that having a professionally designed cover is super important and I don’t find this surprising. Book covers are often what draw me in initially so I figured it was worth it to pay someone for this. To offer perspective, here’s a comparison of the cover I designed (the first one) versus the one the graphic designer made me (the second):

*As you can see, the graphic designer’s version is much cleaner, and the title is bolder and clearer. This was freelancing work that I was very happy with.

  • Once you’ve got your final book draft and your cover art, you’re ready to format. I used the website Draft2digital.com to convert my book from a word doc to the EPUB format, which is required by most distributors. Draft2digital also distributes your book to multiple stores as well so it’s a win-win.
  • Next, I went to itunesconnect.apple.com to publish my eBook in the Apple Book store. I later realized that this is one of the stores that Draft2Digital works with, so I could have skipped this step.
  • I then published it through Amazon. I originally enrolled my book in the KDP Select program which can help you sell more copies, but decided later to opt-out. The reason I decided to do this was that KDP Select requires that you exclusively publish to Kindle for the first 90 days, and I wanted my book to be available on more sites. 
  • Ironically, I came across the site Reedsy shortly before publishing my book (I think this just shows that the timing was just right). I was contacted by Reedsy to join their book reviewer program. After joining their site, I found that you can actually submit books to their site and that it’s a great way to get your name out there as a new author. So, I submitted my book to them to help increase the number of readers I get.
  • And now we wait for my book to release!

Pre-order “A Bump Abroad” now!

“A Bump Abroad” will be launching on the following dates:

Pre-order now!

Amazon: 7/8/21

Apple Books: 7/9/21

Barnes & Noble: 7/10/21

Google Play: 7/9/21

Are you looking to publish your own writing one day? Have you published an ebook in the past? What dilemmas did you run into/what’s getting in your way? Let me know in the comments!

With love,

Sophia

Marketing My Blog While Maintaining Authenticity

Marketing My Blog While Maintaining Authenticity

I’m just going to be real here, I would probably benefit from making more money (wouldn’t we all). I know that talking about money makes some people uncomfortable, but not me. Back when I was working as a nurse, I got a glimpse of what it’s like to make a big girl paycheck. For that money, I was paying a big price (sacrificing my mental health), making it 100% not worth it.

These days, my income is totally inconsistent. Some months it’s great, other months, not so much. I love the copywriting work that I do for my clients, but I’ve decided that I’m ready now more than ever, to start turning out a profit from this blog, in the hopes of having a passive income working for me in the background, in addition to my copywriting work. 

For me, financial security isn’t about material items, or even going on extravagate vacations. It’s more about having the freedom to live the life that I want to live. I want to be home with my children, I want to have the option to homeschool (if that’s what we decide to do). I don’t want to compromise my values to go work at a job that doesn’t align with what I believe in, only because I’m desperate for money. 

So, here I find myself; a mom with a nursing degree, absolutely no knowledge in business, website development, or marketing, with the strongest desire to build out an online business. Where to begin? There is SO much to learn.

I had to ask myself: What do I bring to the table? I’m a great writer, and I know that. Although I don’t have many consistent followers on this site, I love to read my own writing, which tells me that someone else out there must, maybe they just haven’t found me yet. I’m passionate, I work hard, and I believe in myself. 

With all of those factors in the mix, I know that turning this blog into a profitable website is possible. I know that it will take a lot of time and energy to get it there, and I’m willing to put in the work.

Although I wholeheartedly believe in my ability to do this, I definitely have some fears. I frequently feel “in over my head”. Sometimes I grapple with insecurities, it’s hard to put yourself out there on a regular basis. But my biggest fear, by far, is losing my authenticity. 

Right now, I write for the reason of sharing my own passions with others. I write because I think I have an important message to share with the world (in the form of many different topics). I write to inspire others. I write because I love it. I write because I feel called to do so, and I’m following this calling.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt a more organic calling than when I felt called to write. It started over a year ago, before I started this blog. I was working as a nurse and craving a creative outlet. So, I started, with no real plan in place, and here I am. Writing is now my job. Who knew it was even possible? Life’s a trip. 

Here are some of the steps I’ve taken so far to help turn this blog into a business. 

1. Talking to experts

I’ve talked with a couple of marketing experts whom I found through Upwork. Since I’m on a budegt, I started by signing up for a free consultation call with someone who makes ads for Facebook and Google. He basically told me that I’m not ready for his services yet, but gave me plenty of great advice that I didn’t even have to pay him for.

I’m so grateful for this, which is a big reason why I’m sharing my experience with my followers. In case there’s someone out there who’s in my shoes, or may want to build an online business for themselves in the future. I want to share my experience with you for free, in the hopes of inspiring you to get your own project off the ground and maybe even offer useful insight. 

I have another free call coming up later this week and I’m hoping it will spark some more ideas. Once I have the funds, I’m definitely going to hire someone on to help me build a marketing strategy for my site. I’m also hoping to rebrand and get a graphic designer on board (down the line) because I think just about anyone can look at this website and see that it was built by a novice. I’m excited to see the doors that a creative partnership can open for me.

2. Pinpointing a niche

One of the biggest pieces of advice I’ve been given thus far: Find your audience. I know how important this is and I’ve read it over and over again. However, this is one of my biggest struggles. I like to write about the things I love, and if you know me then you know I’m quite a wildcard.

My interests range a lot, covering good books, mom life, travel, personal growth, freelancing, and beyond. It’s really difficult for me to pinpoint one specific audience without having to compromise writing about what I love. When we circle back to the concept of authenticity, I think a big part of what makes this blog so organic is that it is purely me, and I never want to change that because, without that, I feel like I have nothing. 

So, after doing some contemplation, I’ve found an underlying theme that all of my blog posts share: mindfulness, authenticity, living an intentional life. I started this blog as a totally different person than I am today. When I started I thought, “maybe I’ll inspire someone else to put themselves out there in a similar way.” I still have that goal in mind, but it’s so much deeper now. When I quit nursing, my life did a 180-degree flip. I never would have expected to walk away from that career, but today I find myself exactly where I know I’m meant to be.

I want to inspire other people to do what they love everyday and believe that they can, and it’s not always in the context of quitting a job (although that was my experience). I want to inspire others to live their best life, like truly feel happiness and joy. I’ve been in super low places in my life and when I started this blog, I felt entirely lost. I’m still working on myself everyday but I feel like I’m on much more of an intentional path now. 

I want you to know that you can be happy. Regardless of whatever you’ve been through, you can heal from it. You don’t have to settle in any aspect of your life. I want anyone reading this who may feel lost to know that you have a purpose and you can (and will) find it. Mindfulness and self-awareness has been a big part of my journey. The more I get to know myself, the more and more clearly my path carves itself out. I want others to experience this and I’m hoping that with this blog, I can. 

3. Publishing my ebook

Finally, I’ve completed my biggest writing project yet. “A Bump Abroad” is my first published piece of writing and after over a year of working on it, it’s finally available for preorder. Exactly two years ago, I was backpacking Europe while pregnant. It was quite the experience and I knew I needed to write it all down so I’d never forget it. I thought it was interesting enough and that others may want to read about it, so I went ahead and self-published it.

I’m so, so grateful to have this eBook available for purchase and it is truly the first step I’ve taken in generating a passive income. As my first published piece of writing, I know it’s nothing major, but to me, it represents a lot. I believe it will open some doors for me and it’s a huge milestone in my writing career. 

“A Bump Abroad”

Pre-order my Ebook, “A Bump Abroad” now!

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

4. Affiliate marketing

I’ve tried affiliate marketing in the past but I didn’t have nearly enough readers to be successful with it. I’m going to give it another shot and hopefully as my audience grows, it can become a legitimate source of income. Once again, I’m mentioning this in the hopes of keeping it real and always remaining authentic. I plan to only promote companies that I truly believe in. 

Ultimately, I just want to be me.

This blog is purely me, and I never want that to change. Sure, I could outsource writing and churn out tons more content but I don’t think I could bring myself to do that because my writing is how this website started and I don’t want to lose that. I know that the route of building an organic following will be a longer one, but I’m okay with that.

Building an email list is a major step for my website (seeing as how I have about 4 email subscribers). So, if you’re reading this and you truly enjoy my blog, please enter your email below and subscribe. I’m not doing this to be salesy, just wanting to reach more people who genuinely enjoy my writing. By having an email list, I can share even more useful information with you. 

I hope my website inspires you. I’m excited to see my writing projects progress and update the world as my blog grows. As always, thank you for being here.

With love,

Sophia. 

Joy at Work: Book Review

You’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo and her famous book — “The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. This is actually the book that I set out to read, when I accidentally stumbled upon another book of hers, “Joy at Work”. 

Over the last year, I’ve made quite a career change as I’ve shifted from full-time nurse, to part-time freelancer. As I’ve transitioned into the world of being self-employed; I’ve realized the importance of organization. I am in charge of paying my own taxes, setting up my own retirement plan, signing up for my own health insurance — to name a few responsibilities. So, when I came across this book and read the tagline “Organizing Your Professional Life” I knew it was a must-read for me. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book.

Tidying allows for more mental clarity

Kondo’s concept of only keeping items that “spark joy” is a powerful concept for anyone. But in the context of work (especially if you’re in the creative space), it’s actually pretty vital. By being physically organized, our minds are clearer and we can focus more on our creative work. This can help spark inspiration and keep the creative ideas flowing. 

“Tidying up allows you to rediscover your own self. When you face each item you possess, one by one, and ask yourself if it sparks joy or if it will contribute to a joyful future, you begin to see quite clearly what you really want and what makes you happy. By the time you have finished tidying, your mindset, your behavior, and the choices you make have changed.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Clearing agenda clutter

There’s much more to tidying than just cleaning up your home. Kondo discusses the importance of being mindful about your social obligations and learning to stop saying yes to everyone. She tells the story of a client who was overwhelmed with social obligations and work and wasn’t happy at all with how all of her time was being spent. She was completely wearing herself out, on activities that didn’t even spark any joy in her life. 

“In order to spend time in ways to achieve her ideal work life, Christina stopped automatically saying yes and defaulted to saying no, making exceptions only for activities that mattered most. ‘I realized that much of that crazy scheduling was because I was adding things that made me happy to make up for all of the things that didn’t make me happy, rather than addressing the things that didn’t make me happy,’ she concluded.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

There’s more to success than making the most money

Sure, money is great, but what is the price you’re paying for that big paycheck? Does it feel worth it? I was recently asked by someone, “How long did it take for your paychecks as a nurse to feel worth it?” I was at a loss for words momentarily, because the answer was, never. Although I was earning tons of money, that money never once felt worth it. Kondo drives this point home by explaining how we as humans are hardwired to be competitive and try to earn the most. However, many of us are sacrificing our whole lives to keep chasing these paychecks that never truly pay off. This is why it’s so important to focus on more than just the money.

“Don’t trade an activity you’d love to pursue for a reward you don’t value. Being mindful and aware of what we truly want and who we truly are can protect us from falling into this trap of chasing the wrong goals that we’ll later regret.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Downtime is a necessary part of productivity

That’s right, working round-the-clock and never taking a moment off may hinder you more than help you. Obviously, hustling and continuing to show up for your dream is important and I’m not saying to not do that. What I’m saying is that you have to have some time off and recognize when you need a break. 

“It sounds counterintuitive, but to be more productive at work, sometimes you need downtime – a part of your calendar that’s a completely clean space. Yes, you heard me right: Research shows that to get more done, you sometimes need to work less. In addition to refreshing your mind, downtime helps you become more creative by incubating you rideas.”

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Don’t waste your energy obsessing over small decisions. When it comes to little things, just pick a side and stick with it. This reserves more energy for bigger decisions. 

“Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs automated his wardrobe – he wore the same type of turtleneck each day. Productivity guru and author Tim Ferriss eats the same breakfast every morning. By not sweating the small decisions, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on the more important ones.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Letting go with gratitude

One of my favorite points from this book is the concept of letting go with gratitude. Kondo reminds readers that when parting ways with an item, task, or old job, it is so important to say thank you for everything you learned and all of the benefits it brought to you. 

“So when you decide not to keep something, focus on the good it brought you and let it go with gratitude for the connection you had with it. The positive energy you direct at that item will attract new and joyful encounters. The same principle applies when considering a job change. Think of your job positively, with gratitude, recognizing that although it may have been hard, it taught you such things as the importance of keeping a certain distance in your relationships, or that it was thanks to this experience that you could find the work style that’s best for you. This kind of attitude will lead you to the job that is just right for the next stage in your life.” 

Marie Kondo & Scott Sonenshein Joy at Work

Buy the book here!

“A Bump Abroad”

Pre-order my Ebook, “A Bump Abroad” now!

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

How My Highest Paying Freelancing Job Has Taught Me to Budget Better Than Ever

Funny story, when I received my final nursing paycheck, I received the most money I’ve ever been given at once in the form of a direct deposit into my checking account: $2,200. My typical two-week paycheck at this job was about $1,800 but this paycheck had my built-up PTO on it so that’s why it was higher than usual.

Since I quit working as a nurse in October of 2020, I’ve been working for myself as a freelance copywriter. I’ll be honest, I definitely haven’t been making anywhere near $1,800 every two weeks over these last 8 months, but I have been getting by. I’m paying my bills, paying for my daughter to go to daycare, affording groceries just fine, and filling my two weekly workdays with more writing work than I ever knew I’d be getting. I feel incredibly blessed.

Back when I was a nurse, I made more money than I knew what to do with. Now, I’m not trying to sound like I’m complaining about having too much money, that would be silly. But the benefit of making that much money was 100% outweighed by the drawbacks of being away from my young daughter for 40 hours a week, being completely drained on every day off, feeling like I could barely function, and being overcome by anxiety that felt completely out of my control.

On the contrary, my current drawback of not making a luxurious paycheck every two weeks, is completely outweighed by the benefits of making my own schedule, focusing on being a mom, having the freedom to rest when I need to, doing something that I love, and having a greater handle on my mental health than ever before. You seriously can’t put a price on your health.

The icing on the cake in this situation is that although my income is inconsistent at times, it isn’t very bad, and it’s only up from here. I recently made the most money that I ever have since I started freelancing, and here’s where it gets good. On the day when I received the direct deposit for my highest paying project yet, it actually trumped that final nursing paycheck, taking the place of the most money I’ve ever seen direct deposited into my account at one time: $2,750.

So, what’s the lesson to be learned here? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t “go out and spend that paycheck on whatever you want, because you deserve it”. It’s a little more practical than that. Here’s how my biggest payday yet is teaching me to budget better than ever before.

Freelancing can feel like feast or famine.

I started writing this post towards the end of my most profitable month yet as a freelancer. Ironically, as I work on finishing this post now, I’m in the midst of one of my lowest paying months. It’s a little stressful but I’ve been here before, I’ve gotten through it, and I truly believe that months of consistent, higher pay are just around the corner. Because I’ve learned to be smart with my money when I have it, the times when money is tight don’t feel as grueling.

Although, I’d love to have spending money all the time (and soon I WILL), being a little tight on money every once in a while isn’t the end of the world and can actually be quite humbling. When I received that big payout last month, I knew I couldn’t just go blow it all. I put some towards paying off my credit card, added some to savings, and got ahead on my bills. So, now that money is tight again, I’m not feeling too worried because my finances are somewhat in order.

Times of low money are humbling

I’m honestly grateful for the times in my life when I’ve felt like my finances weren’t exactly as I wanted them to be because these moments have humbled me. These moments teach me to focus on what I do have, rather than to keep buying things that I think I need. That being said, I obviously want to have a secure income soon, but I know that worrying or feeling stressed about the present moment won’t help get me there. I’m building a whole new career from the ground up, and the fact that I’ve come as far as I have in less than a year is a huge cause for celebration. If I spend all of my energy fixating on the fact that my finances aren’t exactly where I want them to be right now, I’m going to miss out on how far I truly have come.

The future is bright

My highest paying freelancing gig taught me one very important lesson: this career path has serious potential (endless potential, actually). Although I’m not consistently making a ton of money yet, I see that a paycheck much higher than what I made as a nurse is definitely possible.

Patience, confidence, and perseverance are going to get me there. Success is about pushing past the challenging times and believing in your own ability. Once you know that you’re doing everything in your power, all that’s left is to have faith.

Xx

“A Bump Abroad”

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Mindful Mothering: She is the Light

If you read the birth story of my daughter, or if you know me at all, you may know that I’ve suffered from some trauma following my transition into motherhood. Becoming a mom has felt crazy for a number of reasons. My daughter entered the world through an emotionally traumatic, whirlwind birth that left many important moments completely out of my control.

Only two months after her birth I jumped into working full time as a nurse, letting go of even more control. As time went on, the unhealed trauma from the birth continued to cause even further damage, and with a hectic work environment in the mix, I was a ticking time bomb.

Finally, the severity of my anxiety led me to quit my job entirely, in a desperate attempt to reevaluate my life, and save myself from the agony I’d been feeling for nearly a year.

Today, I can say that I am feeling more in control of my anxiety than ever before. I am blessed to have found a career path that allows me flexibility, and the ability to be home with my daughter most days. My life is more balanced than ever before as I’m understanding how seriously important it is to take care of myself — as hard as it may be sometimes.

I’ve taken an important step in my healing journey and I’ve begun going to therapy. It’s been a challenging process, to say the least.

Last night was my second session and we delved into the birth of my daughter and how it’s changed my life. Explaining this story was much more emotional of a process than I’d previously expected. Tears poured out of me as I said the words, “There was so much damage being done that I was totally naive to in the moment.”

My therapist encouraged me to reflect on those first hours and days with my daughter and try to remember some of the joy that came along with it. I cried even further because even in remembering the joyous moments, I still felt severe stress, sadness, and anger.

“These are happy tears,” she said. No, they were not happy tears. These tears were some of the most deeply painful tears I’ve felt because in that moment I was realizing that no matter the joy that did occur, the birth of my daughter is still overshadowed by stress.

My therapist’s advice was to take time and practice mindfulness. During this time, she encouraged me to try to remember the joyous moments of my daughter’s birth and make a conscious effort to feel that joy.

“Go towards the light,” she said.

As I reflect on this experience, so many emotions and tears have continued to pour out of me. I don’t want to always feel damaged by her birth. I never want her to hear me retell this story and think that any of this was her fault. What I realized was, it was hard to recollect specific moments of joy, although there were a few, and this is because she is the joy. My daughter is light that exists in this dark experience and although it’s been one of the most challenging of my life, I know that I am coming out stronger than ever before.

“When He tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

I want my daughter to always know that although her entrance into the world was painful and traumatic for me, I would never change a thing because it gave me the greatest gift, and that is her.

She is the light.

I know, it sounds painful and scary to relive trauma but I promise it is so worth it. Although I have a long road ahead of me, I know that going to therapy is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and for my family. It’s not easy but it’s so entirely worth the pain and challenges required to finally feel healed. If you’ve been thinking about going to therapy, consider this your sign. I promise you won’t regret it.

Xx

“A Bump Abroad”

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Personal Growth: 25 Lessons Learned in 25 Years

25 Lessons learned in 25 years

One year ago today, I celebrated my 24th birthday. I remember feeling like I “had it all”, a high-paying job, a sweet family, and even a fancy beach getaway planned to celebrate. Regardless of what I had achieved on paper, I felt empty, lost, and riddled with anxiety. I remember sitting comfortably on a beach chair, watching the sunset over the clear blue ocean, surrounded by peace and silence. Even amid this environment, I was trying so hard to force myself to feel happy, and I just couldn’t budge.

This year, my life has changed entirely. I feel at ease and like I’m exactly where I am meant to be. Here are some of the valuable lessons learned along the way.

25 Lessons Learned in 25 Years

  1. Confidence and faith will carry you through many of life’s challenges.
  2. Always honor gut instincts. If you feel pulled to do something, run don’t walk.
  3. Your flaws are not meant to be hidden, they are a valuable part of who you are. Look them in the face, accept them, revel in them.
  4. Difficult conversations are the most important ones to have.
  5. Life doesn’t come with an agenda (or user manual), sometimes you have to let go and allow things to unfold.
  6. If you want to have money to spend and money in the bank, you’ve got to put money in the bank first. Or else you’ll just spend it all.
  7. Rest is required if you want to be successful. Constantly rushing around won’t win you any type of metal, it actually won’t win you anything at all.
  8. Eat what makes you feel good, dieting is stupid.
  9. Your relationships with others are a mirror of the relationship you have with yourself.
  10. Money is great but it doesn’t buy happiness. If you want both, then do what you love with passion and it might just become a reliable source of income.
  11. Make time for the people and things you love. Life moves fast and every moment that passes is precious time you’ll never get back.
  12. Always make your mental health a priority.
  13. Pain is a necessary part of life. If you strive for constant comfort, you may end up disappointed.
  14. If something didn’t go to plan, that does not mean you failed.
  15. Have patience with yourself and others. We’re all in this together.
  16. The most challenging times in my life have humbled me and had the biggest impact on who I am today. Try to see this moment for what it is, even if you’re not exactly where you want to be.
  17. Success, happiness, it’s all a work in progress. Give it time and trust the process.
  18. Focusing on your goals is important, but you have to find contentment in the present moment. If not, you may end up constantly chasing after a dream that you’ll never reach.
  19. Don’t run from your past. Look it in the face and seek understanding within it (even the ugly stuff). It’s what brought you to this moment, so it matters.
  20. You don’t have to spend a lot of money all the time to have nice things. You can take your time with well-thought-out purchases and still have the items you love without breaking the bank.
  21. It’s worth it to take a closer look at the aspects of life that cause you feelings of guilt and shame.
  22. Your job has a big influence on who you are (it may even become you). Choose wisely.
  23. Seeing your parents as flawed humans (just like everyone) may help you forgive any of the mistakes they’ve made.
  24. No matter how hard you try, you will forget things. Try to be present and take in as much of the present moment as you can.
  25. Pregnancy, the newborn days, your kid’s younger years — it’s all a tiny sliver of your life as a whole. Don’t waste it away by wishing for days of independence, those days will return and when they do you’ll wish you soaked up these moments.

Another year of life and so many valuable lessons learned are just a few of the many reasons why I feel blessed today. Thank you to all of the amazing people in my life who have influenced me in a positive way and supported me throughout this past year, as it hasn’t been any easy one.

With Love,

Sophia

“A Bump Abroad”

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Mindful Mothering: Packing Daycare Lunches 101

Packing Daycare Lunches 101

I find few things as overwhelming as packing daycare lunches for my toddler. I used to feel the same way when I’d pack my own lunches, back when I was working full time. Luckily, this isn’t nearly as stressful or strenuous since because she only goes to daycare 2 days per week. Lately, I feel like I’ve got packing daycare lunches down to a bit of a science. So, I thought I’d share some tips for anyone who may be struggling. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. 

1. Plan your menu

Before I do anything, I take a sticky note and write out what I’m going to pack. When my daughter first started daycare I was told she would need a lunch and two snacks. So, on her first day, I sent her with a small container of beans and rice, blueberries, and scrambled eggs. I was later informed that she would actually need 2 morning snacks as well as 2 afternoon snacks. This seemed ridiculous to me, but I went with it.

Low and behold, my little lady ate all of her food and came home starving on her first day. The amount of food I send her with always seems like way more than necessary but I try to just roll with it. If there’s anything leftover in her lunch that still seems edible, I try to feed it to her when she gets home to minimize the amount of food we throw away. I know she likes to snack throughout the day and as she grows her hunger demands are growing with her. 

Example Menu

Four snacks and a lunch entrée just seems like a lot to think about at once. Writing it all out really helps me. Here’s an example of what I usually pack her:

  • Snack 1: Oatmeal with cooked apples
  • Snack 2: Scrambled egg
  • Lunch: Rice or pasta with peas and/or shredded chicken
  • Snack 3: pretzels/crackers with sliced cheese
  • Snack 4:  Berries and tangerine

Here are some additional toddler lunch ideas!

2. Break it up

I’ve found that any way I can break up the work load and do small parts, one at a time, helps reduce the stress of doing it all at once. For example, my daughter loves oatmeal and eats it every day so I usually make a big pot of it in our Instant Pot and this lasts for a few days. When I go into packing her lunch, I’ve already got a container of oatmeal prepared so it’s one less thing to think about and all I have to do is portion it into a smaller container.

Another way I break up her lunches is by scrambling a few eggs in the morning before I drop her off. She’ll eat some of it with her breakfast before we leave and I put the extra into a container to count as one of her snacks. This just seems to make my life easier since it’s one less thing to think about the night before. Plus, I can always count on my daughter waking up bright and early around 6:30 so we have plenty of time in the morning to prep a few things before her drop-off time of 8AM. 

It seems like leaving a few easy, smaller tasks for the morning of helps break it up. By having a small task left for the morning, I don’t feel like I have a lot hanging over my head. 

3. Accept *some* nutritional compromise 

Alright, I’m not sure what other parents do, but I have a hunch that there’s some simple hack to packing toddler lunches that involves lots of processed, packaged, and/or frozen food. This is just my guess, but I make this process a bit more challenging on myself by cooking fresh food for my child. In the beginning, I would send the occasional baby food pouch but I didn’t feel like it even made things much easier. It also felt like I was compromising nutritional value and spending unnecessary, additional money. 

Although I strive to send nutritious meals for my daughter, I’m realistic about what she’ll actually eat. In the beginning, I would always try to send nothing but healthy food, but she wouldn’t eat it all! I’ve decided that it’s okay to compromise a bit because it’s important that you send food that your kid actually likes to eat. 

I can’t help but think about it in the context of my own experience. Back when I was working as a nurse I often would pack super healthy meals so that I had no choice but to eat healthy. Often this caused me to feel disappointed and unsatisfied. On the days when I knew I had a delicious sandwich or one of my favorite snacks I was excited for my lunch, and I walked away feeling happy. 

I think it’s just all about finding a balance. Don’t feel your kid junk, but a certain amount of tasty food within reason is definitely okay. I’ve made my daughter some healthy muffins in the past that had minimal sugar or were naturally sweetened and she loved them. I was also reluctant to send her to school with sliced cheese, pasta, or rice because I know these aren’t super-nutritious foods. I continue to offer healthier foods at home and sometimes she goes for them and other times, not so much. Remember, no diet is one-size-fits-all.

Every situation is different

Also, I have to point out that I’m lucky to be a *mostly* stay at home mom who only works part time and has the time and energy to put this much effort into my little one’s lunches. I realize not everyone has this option. But I do think you can make the time to pack healthy yet satisfying lunches for your baby if you plan ahead and take the right steps. 

What are your hacks for packing toddler lunches? Share your favorite toddler recipes and snack ideas in the comments! 

“A Bump Abroad”

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The Undying: Book Review

Compelling, provoking, and intense; The Undying is Anne Boyer’s reflection of her experience battling breast cancer.

When I stumbled across The Undying while walking through a book store, I was immediately drawn in. Although working as a nurse had some major drawbacks, there are aspects of medicine that I find deeply interesting. I thought this would be the perfect book to bring back that satisfaction of working in the hospital setting without actually having to return to it. I wasn’t expecting to share such similar views on frustration against the medical field with this author, but ultimately I did. 

Boyer references historical figures, all the way back to ancient Roman and Greek times, who have fought severe diseases and compares experiences. 

She also discusses the unique challenge of breast cancer patients, the chemotherapy process, and the unique stigma that surrounds it. 

Someone once said that choosing chemotherapy is like choosing to jump off a building when someone is holding a gun to your head. You jump out of fear of death, or at least a fear of the painful and ugly version of death that is cancer, or you jump from a desire to live, even if that life will be for the rest of its duration a painful one.

Anne Boyer, The Undying

Something that resonated deeply with me from this book is Boyer’s skepticism of the cancer industry as a whole. I couldn’t help but ask some questions after working in the setting of cancer treatment. Did these strong drugs actually help? It’s hard not to be skeptical when you literally watch seemingly healthy patients walk in and sign up to receive drugs that will cause them to be hospitalized for months, only to add a couple of years onto their lives, but could ultimately be their cause of death in the end. 

Boyer even shares some eye-opening stories about doctors who have lied about diagnoses, in order to get patients to agree to expensive treatment, and asks when to draw the line. Obviously, a doctor flat-out lying about a diagnosis for money is extremely unethical. But what about the doctors who exaggerate, or scare patients into intense treatments that may not be necessary? What about the patients who are going to die soon regardless, and their doctors still talk them into expensive treatment? Where do we draw the line?

Some people are lied to about having cancer. Some people lie about having it. The world is full of anecdotal accounts of cancer fakers, all of whom seem to just want what everyone needs and deserves, some time off, a little spending money, a casserole in the fridge, some love. There are stories like the one of the man who took a hundred days off from work with forged notes, or the woman who shaved her head and asked for donations at church, or the sister who turned her HPV into full-on cervical cancer for leverage at the holiday dinner table. There are also the doctors who mislead people with benign or mild cancer-related conditions into aggressive, expensive treatment, or the doctors who do not tell patients they are dying, leading them into months of costly, painful, useless interventions. The people who fake having cancer, when found out, often face, if not legal prosecution, social ostracism. The doctors who subtly overtreat patients often don’t.

Anne Boyer, The Undying

When working in the oncology environment, I couldn’t help but put myself in some patient’s shoes and ask myself, “What would I do if I was diagnosed with cancer?” It’s really hard to say what my choice would be after seeing what chemotherapy can do to people. Boyer discusses the lifelong neurological side effects she suffers from after going through chemo (side effects that her doctor never warned her about, by the way). 

I have to say, I don’t think Anne Boyer is one bit crazy for asking the question of whether her diagnosis was even real or not. Hospitals are gigantic, extremely powerful systems. These systems are filled with people who are “just going with the motions”. These factors combine and create an extremely slippery slope. 

I begin to worry that my cancer never existed, that the paranoid websites about cancer are true, that it is all a con by big pharma, that the lump was nothing, that all that had happened to me was a profitable fiction that could have been cured by carrot juice or drinking urine. In the hospital, as the cardiologists try to prove or disprove that I have a failed heart, I worry I am dying of a lie.

Anne Boyer, The Undying

This book was compelling to say the least. If you’re looking for something emotionally provoking, a little dark, and poetically written, then I definitely recommend it. Anne Boyer is a phenomenal writer. Her writing style is so uniquely captivating, I often had trouble putting this book down. I can only aspire to write like her one day.

I spent years writing about minutes, months writing about days, weeks writing about seconds, and days writing about hours, and in the minutes of experience in which my years and days have now been lost, it still feels like the weight of these events remains too heavy for their telling.

Anne Boyer, The Undying

This book caused me to ponder the question: what would life be like without sickness? 

Buy the book here!

Xx

“A Bump Abroad”

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