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Freelance Work, People in Need

May 14th, 2011 at 06:03 am

I've noticed an uptick in my freelance work.

Last week, I got 2 press release assignments (already written, but not yet distributed), along with a personal project from my client's admin assistant.

She wanted me to interview her best friend, who has stage 4 breast cancer, and write content for a website she wants to create to help raise funds to pay her friend's medical expenses. I interviewed the woman yesterday and she already signed off on the copy. She was very nice. She has two young sons.

I spent a fair amount of time thinking about how I would approach the interview and prepping for it. I usually do more business writing, and this required a sensitive approach. I ended up with 10 questions, none of which really focused on the details of the woman's cancer or treatment. Instead, I decided to focus on getting to know who the woman was as a person. What are her interests, how does she like to spend her time, what does she consider her life's greatest achievements? I wanted to portray a person who is not defined by her illness. I also asked her how her cancer had changed her priorities and the biggest ways it has changed her life.

It was a surprisingly uplifting conversation. Her two young boys are the center of her life. She talked about the circle of friends and loved ones who have supported her in many different ways. The biggest way her illness has affected her, she said, had to do with time. Doctor's visits and various treatments like chemo eat up much of her time, and when she's not at the doctor's, she's focused on getting enough rest and battling fatigue, so she has less time to dedicate to her family.

I wish I could do this job pro bono, but I really need the income. The subject of price never came up (she sees what I charge her boss, since I copy her on my invoices to him) so I guess she can't be that concerned with it, but I decided to build in a 25% discount anyway.

Then, yesterday, out of the blue, I got an email from an office sales manager at another big real estate company I used to do tons of work for. She really kept me busy, but then I got a perm job and had to tell her I couldn't do it anymore.

Anyway, she wants me to update her bio, and I'm really hoping that after several years' hiatus, more assignments from her will follow.

So 4 assignments this month so far, plus that focus group I did. It will add up to about $590; that's the kind of income I'd like to generate every month. (Did I tell you my COBRA premiums rose another $25 a month, to $468 now?)

The forecast calls for possible rain for part of each day during the coming week. I'm actually looking forward to it because it means I get a break from my twice daily watering of the grass seed I planted.

I went to see my neighbor yesterday who is still in rehab recovering from knee replacement surgery. Her biggest complaint is the bland food. She is diabetic, but I brought her three organic pears. She should be back home next week.

On the drive over to see her, I saw another neighbor walking his dog down our street, and I stopped to talk with him. He had told me a week earlier that his daughter had been killed in a car accident late last year. He is having a tough time dealing with it, but at least he is talking about it. Each time I've talked to him, he gets choked up pretty quickly. He said he was ready for the good Lord to take him, because he will never get over it.

I find it difficult to know what to say in these situations because i don't have children and i don't believe in God. Whatever I say will be inadequate, given what he's going through. I try to be a good listener. I suggested that maybe talking to a counselor might help him find new ways to cope with his grief. I also said that maybe just keeping busy and not allowing himself to get lost in his thoughts might be a good thing. He's a really nice guy. His daughter, in her early 20s, had been enjoying her first apartment on her own in Massachusetts.

A lot of people are hurting. Despite my messed up family background, I count my blessings. Both my parents are still alive and are an important part of my life. Aside from my MS, which is mostly manageable, I am very healthy. Perhaps a bit overweight, at 148 pounds. It costs nothing to offer a few words of encouragement or support to those who need it. Many have done this for me over the years, and I consider it an obligation and an honor to repay those kind acts.

8 Responses to “Freelance Work, People in Need”

  1. NJDebbie Says:

    I count my blessings every day! I hope you can continue to get the side work.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    We are all in the this life together. Very nice of you to lend kind words.

  3. laura Says:


    You may have been a blessing to him in a time of need, whether you're God believing or not Smile . Thank you for taking the time to talk to him. An acquaintance of ours committed suicide last Sunday on Mother's Day. By all outward appearances he had it all, beautiful wife, healthy and happy successful young adult children, a suburban home, a lake home, a boat, designed duds and cars. Pictures of trips around the world. The Church was packed. My thoughts: how sad he felt that he was so alone that he needed to do what he did, despite the loving community that showed up to honor his memory and support his survivors. Of course we will never know the depths of despair he must have been going through. Maybe if you see him walking his dog again, say Hi and that you're thinking about him.

  4. patientsaver Says:

    I will definitely talk to him every time I see him, Laura. Even at the risk of putting my foot in my mouth. I don't think many people how serious depression can be until it's too late.

  5. laura Says:


    Smile

  6. snafu Says:

    How devastating it must be to have a child killed in an auto accident. It must feel like it's against the natural order of things to outlive a child. It's so helpful of you to listen and let him vent. People need to tell their story.

    I recall Dr, Phil saying something like, if a person is having a very difficult time moving forward months after a loss it can help to ask what the daughter would say...or want her dad to do to move forward. Possibly help by volunteering in a worthwhile community organization.

  7. patientsaver Says:

    Snafu, that's a very good idea. Becus I think most people will have to acknowledge that the person who died would not want them to spend the rest of their life unhappy or sad.

  8. CB in the City Says:

    You have probably already helped him more than you know. I have had spells of depression in my life that were helped so much just by strangers smiling or saying something nice to me. He will probably take a while to move on, though. I can't imagine anything more devastating than losing a child.

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