My friend Elisheva has been a long-time guest blogger on my blog(s), because she is awesome. After I announced my new employers (disclosure update, yo), she offered to provide some tips on working from home (which she has much experience in, although has gone back to the office-outside-her-home world [and even got to go on a work field trip the other day]).  Thanks, Elisheva!! (And thanks for the excitement!)


Congratulations to my buddy Kerri on not one, but TWO new jobs!  Yay yay yay!  Hurray!  This is exciting cuz, (a) money, and (b) connections and resume building and (c) getting paid to do things you are passionate about!  (I’m only a little bit jealous…)

And now to get on with what this post is actually supposed to be about.
I’d welcome you to the world of working from home… but I’m not there anymore.  I do have a bunch of experience in that though.  Unlike me, you will not be your own boss (freelancing sucks!), but many aspects will be the same.  Meaning the not going to the office every day part.  The working from home part.  Yeah, that.
One of the biggies when working from home is finding balance.  There are awesome things and there are sucky things.  Sometimes things can be awesome and sucky at the same time.  Observe.
1) You can work in your PJs or even naked if you want to. (Woohoo!)  But you can also go for days at a time without ever getting dressed or leaving your house.  (Boo.)
2) You have flexible hours and can schedule meetings/appointments/hangouts during the day. (Nice!)  But you can also find yourself working your tushy off evenings and nights to meet deadlines when you’d rather be doing other things. (Damn.)
3) You can burp and fart and pick your nose and never brush your hair and no one will know or care.  (Whoa, really?)  But you might lose some or all of your social skills by the time you leave your cave and interact with humanity again. (Bummer.)  Back in my translating days, I sometimes went to translator meetings and was shocked to see how socially awkward some of the long-time translators were.
4) You don’t have your boss watching you and breathing down your neck all day. (Freedom!!)  But that means that you are responsible for budgeting your time and making sure things get done. (Uhhh… kay…)
5) If you have a pet or a child or a never-ending pile of laundry that needs your attention throughout the day, you can be there. (Convenient 🙂 )  But those things can actually distract you and keep you from getting your work done. (I knew there was a catch.)
The following things are also added to the list for freelancers:
6) You are your own boss and call all the shots. (Power!) But you also have to take care of all of the bureocracy, taxes, advertising, billing and contact with clients by yourself.  You are the company.  (Sucks.)
7) You will have months where you have lots of work and make a lot of money. (Score!)  But you will also have months where you are almost desperate for work. (Ugh.)
So basically, if you’re still reading, you should have gathered that depending on how you swing it, working from home could either rock or stink, depending on how you swing it.  You’ll likely experience both.
And now, finally, here are some tried and true tips from your buddy Elishevathe Former Translator.  These might not work for everyone, but they worked for me.
1) Structure is important.  Even though I could have easily slept in, I woke up at 7 every day and started working by 8.  I tried my best to work standard work hours so that I would be busy at the same time as normal people and free at the same time as normal people.
2) Give yourself work space.  Get out of your bedroom if you can.  Working in your room will make you sleepy during the day since you associate it with sleeping and you might have a hard time sleeping at night because you associate it with work.  I worked best while sitting on a chair at the table in the living room.  It kept me from getting distracted or drifting off and it made me feel more professional.  Even better is finding a workspace outside of your home like a library, cafe, or workhub.  Getting dressed and leaving the house will also help you feel more professional.
3) Give yourself reasons to be social. Going to work provides people with face-to-face social interaction.  When working from home, it’s important to find reasons to get dressed and leave your house.  Go out with friends, go to cultural events, join a class and/or volunteer for a cause you believe in.  It’s important to keep those social skills in good working order, both for your mental health and in preparation for the day when you no longer work from home.
4) Learn about your legal rights.  Just because you work from home and the people you work with never see you doesn’t mean that they can take advantage of you.  Make sure you are getting paid on time and that you are getting treated fairly.  You also are working for one organization in another province and one organization in the US.  I have no idea what the legal or tax ramifications of this would be.  It would be wise to find this out.
5) Stand up for yourself at home.  Because I worked for myself and made my own schedule, people in my life tended to occasionally forget that I actually had a full time job and would ask me for favors such as babysitting or picking up things for them in the middle of the day.  Sometimes I would oblige if I could swing it, and sometimes I had to remind them that I actually did have a job and while I could work any time, I really prefered to work normal people hours.  So while they worked at an office and I worked at home, I was working just like they were and deserved not to be bothered.
Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now.  Looking forward to hearing great things about these new opportunities, Kerri!  All the best and good luck 🙂

Head on over to my friend Olivia’s blog to check out my guest post/interview from this weekend, where I share a bit about my asthma story and perspective on asthma, what I do with the Asthma Society of Canada/National Asthma Patient Alliance and the Canadian Severe Asthma Network, and living positively with asthma.

Olive lives with asthma and is involved with Asthma UK and shares her stories through her blog, as well as on Instagram. Thanks for having me share my thoughts, Olive!

Invisible Illness Week officially ended yesterday, but having an invisible illness doesn’t end until a cure is found.  Today, I have one more perspective on living with an invisible condition to share.

Cherise is an amazing diabetes advocate and lives with Type 1.5 diabetes, also known as LADA [Latent Auto-Immune Diabetes in Adult].  Cherise helps connect the Diabetes Online Community in a major way through the #dsma Twitter chat on Wednesday nights and is an awesome diabetes advocate.

Cherise has taken a new spin on the 30 Things About My Invisible Illness meme created for Invisible Illness Week, and chose to make her guest post in the form of a vlog.  I had a giant smile on my face while watching [also, I totally love the subtitles, so watch for those!]

Thanks for sharing, Cherise!  I will be happy-dancing with the D-OC when diabetes is cured.  And y’all are gonna eat a gazillion cupcakes and not have to bolus or even THINK about carbs.

Cherise was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 23 and is the founder and moderator of #dsma — Diabetes Social Media Advocacy twitter chat.  Cherise blogs at Diabetic Iz Me, and can be found on Twitter.

I always get really excited when I meet people who are named Kerri(-with-an-I).  Yesterday, I received a request on Twitter from another Kerri to guest post [the second one this week, actually.  We Kerris are into advocacy, it seems!].

Kerri has Myasthenia Gravis, an incurable autoimmune disorder that affects the neuromuscular system, and uses social media to educate others about the condition.  In addition, she leans on the Eternal Rock to help her cope, and her faith in Jesus shines through in both her blog and her guest post here.

Thanks for sharing, Kerri!

Kerri Sweeris

I am shocking.
I can hurt you.
I will devastate your life, and change it in ways you could never imagine.
I can be the worst thing to ever happen to you, OR
I can be the best thing to ever happen to you.
I might take away your ability to work,
or walk
or laugh
or breathe
or see
or think clearly
or even live.

My name is chronic illness.

I will damage the connection between your nerves and muscles.
I will effect your ability to speak,
to swallow
to walk without falling
to hold your own head up
to breathe on your own
to go out alone
to be independent
to live a “normal” life.

My name is myasthenia gravis.

I will save your life.
I will cause you more trouble.
I may make you gain weight.
I may make you grumpy
or tired
or weepy
or hungry
or sad.
I usually help more than I hurt, so you keep me.
I may make you feel trapped.

My name is medication.

I can save your life.
I can give you a reason to go on.
I can bring you back from the edge.
I can make life bearable.
I will never give up.
I will help you fight when you just don’t want to.
I will help you go when you just want to stop.

My name is HOPE.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I am Freedom.
I am Emmanuel.
I am the Prince of Peace.
I am the Healer.
I am Wonderful.
I am your Counselor.
I am your Savior.

My name is JESUS.”

Kerri Sweeris is a wife and mother of one miracle child, a 5 year old named Jacob.  She gets through life with the encouragement of good friends, a lot of humor, and by the grace of God.  Kerri blogs at Sick of MG – Living with Chronic Illness.

This week is Invisible Illness Awareness Week!  I’ve been blessed by many of my amazing friends who want to share their stories to help us all gain a bigger perspective on what it really means to live with a variety of invisible illnesses.

My friend Meggs has Multiple Sclerosis, and does her best to keep active and take an active role in managing her disease.  She also lives as a person with MS and without insurance.  She shares her story of some of her experiences navigating the world of invisible illness in the last year.

meggs headshot

Since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in early 2011, I’ve come across more than a few people who are (unintentionally) ignorant of what it’s like to live with a disease that has symptoms nobody else can see. I think one way to let you in on what it’s like to have this “invisible” disease is to share some of the most frustrating things people have said to me since I was diagnosed and the things I wanted to say in response but didn’t:

  • What they said: “You don’t look sick. Are you sure you have MS?” What I wanted to say but didn’t: “I can’t see your brain. Are you sure you have one? Yes, I’m sick. Yes I have MS. I’m sorry if my face isn’t falling off as an outside indicator that there’s something wrong with me. I shouldn’t have to look sick for you to understand that I have lesions on my brain. Ugh!” I may not look sick, but I feel like a big ol’ pile of poo sometimes. MS is a disease that has so many symptoms it’d take me an entire day to explain to someone how it affects my day-to-day life and why they can’t see my symptoms. I walk around about 30-40% of the time with a super annoying and sometimes painful tingling sensation in the entire – yes ENTIRE – left side of my body. Not to mention the shooting pains, vision issues, dizziness, and muscle fatigue.

  • What they said: “I know [so and so] has MS, and she balances a career and a family and an active social life quite well. When are you going to go back to work and why don’t you go out with your friends more often like [so and so]?” What I wanted to say but didn’t: “[So and so] has medical coverage and a treatment strategy that she has worked out with her neurologist. [So and so] has the benefit of accessible health care and medication at her disposal. Were I able to afford the fees to procure a neurologist in order to gain access to meds and treatment plans that would allow me to go back to work I would be working instead of spending countless hours trying to find resources to get back on my feet. As of this moment without meds to manage my symptoms I’m kinda out of luck. And I don’t go out with my friends more often because I’m tired. Fatigue is a vampire. And not the sexy ‘True Blood’ kind. The ugly ‘Nosferatu’ kind. Furthermore, I am NOT [so and so]. Thank you; please drive through.”

  • What they said: “Oh my GOD! That’s horrible! Are you gonna die from it?” What I wanted to say but didn’t: “Oh my GOD! I know! I sure hope not!” If I had a nickel for every friend or acquaintance that has told me some horror story about a person dying or having their livelihood stolen from them because of MS… well, I’d probably have a dollar or so. The fact is I don’t know which type of MS I have or what my general prognosis is because I don’t have access to health care that will help me figure that out. I found out about my disease thanks to the compassion and ingenuity of a few really awesome people who work with homeless and indigent programs in my community. I would prefer not to be bombarded with sympathy and remarks like this because all they do is make me want to punch people walls.

All in all I try to have a sense of humor about things and laugh it off when I’m able. I guess it’s one way of coping with the fear and the anger I’ve felt since I was diagnosed. The truth is most of my friends and family will never understand how it feels to live with Multiple Sclerosis… and I’m thankful for that. Hopefully one of these days I’ll be able to find some affordable health care and a treatment plan that’ll work for me. Until that day comes, I have hope and a positive attitude and a great online community to reach out to when I need advice about how to deal with the things I’ve got to face in the days ahead. Thankfully, I also have a mental filter that keeps my mouth shut when other people who don’t even really know what MS is find it necessary to step in and fix me with their advice and their lectures about how I should be handling the disease. Otherwise I might have not only Multiple Sclerosis, but also the need to stretch a thick piece of silver duct tape across my lips everywhere I went. Now that would be something to explain!

Megan is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault as an adult. She has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and depression. She blogs about her healing journey at I Tell My Truth.

Thanks for sharing your story, Meggs!