The office is mine (but sometimes I wish it wasn’t)

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It’s great working for yourself. The office is your own, you make your own rules, your money is your own, you are your own boss…all good. Until 2020 hits and work dries up, and you are scrambling to keep clients, find new ones and wondering how you are going to pay your rent. All this is magnified when you are single and reliant on your income only.

It’s easy to get depressed and anxious in these circumstances. Running a business is tough at the best of times, but add a global pandemic into the mix and it’s a pretty bumpy ride. I have found myself envying those friends who work for others and have money coming in regularly. I have found myself wishing, at times, that I had a job and worked for someone else. Or even that I had a partner who was drawing a salary. Then I slap myself around the face and remind myself why I started my business. Freedom and independence.

I value freedom and independence highly. Maybe that is why I am twice divorced too. I find it difficult to adapt to another person’s way of living or working. I am better on my own, I know it. I just have to keep reminding myself that this pandemic will pass. Clients will return to work. They will send me work through like before. The unsettling thing is not knowing when this will happen. I have had days of staring at my inbox and not having one job come in. In fact, I have had weeks, no, months, of this. Luckily I have savings to get me through. I remind myself that it could be a lot worse, and it is a lot worse for others. People are losing their jobs and businesses and in some cases, their lives.

I’m trying to keep positive, although to be honest, some days I don’t want to get out of bed. But this shall pass. It shall pass. And once more, I will be grateful that I work for myself and that the office is mine.

Love Zita x

 

Half a year gone

halfayeargone

And just like that, half a year has gone. Half a year of lockdown, uncertainty, panic…and half a year since my last blog post. I’ve been trying to keep my business going during these trying times, and blogging has been the last thing on my mind. The same goes for writing. Despite having lots of free time, I have been unable to write. I need to feel secure to create, and I haven’t felt secure for the past six months.

The past six months have passed slowly yet quickly. Each day has seemed to drag, but the months have seemed to fly by. Work is slowly picking up again, and I feel like I might be able to start writing once more. It hasn’t all been bad during the past six months. I have started dating again recently. I’ll save the details for another post.

My plan at the start of the year was to move from sweet(ish) romance into erotica. I’ve been reading a lot of Anais Nin to try and learn my craft. To me, she remains the best erotica writer out there, even after all the years that have passed since she was writing.

Anyway, I’m back!

Love Zita x

Grateful for the small things

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Are you grateful for what you have in life? Recently, I’ve been feeling immense gratitude for the “small things” in my life. I know that those things I define as “small” are huge to so many other people. It’s all relative I guess.

Every night, when I go to bed, instead of lamenting the fact that I am sleeping alone (no boyfriend in sight yet), I have been feeling immense gratefulness for the heater next to my bed, for my warm bed itself, and for the book lying beside my bed. I used to take these for granted. I didn’t even give them a thought. Now, as I climb into my bed, nice and warm, I say thank you to the universe for conspiring to give me such a luxury. A luxury so many millions don’t have.

I’ve found myself feeling gratitude for other things too, like the food in my fridge, the friends just a phone call or text message away, my car parked outside, the jobs and clients that enable me to afford a roof over my head.

We tend to focus on what we don’t have, instead of looking at what we do have. I went to Paris over the new year. I was lamenting the fact that I don’t have an apartment there yet, instead of feeling grateful that I was actually there. That I had euros in my purse which enabled me to sit in cafes and drink coffee, watching the world go by.

I saw lovers strolling the streets, arm in arm, giving each other spontaneous kisses, and thought back to the times my ex-husband and I went to Paris. At the time I felt a wistful nostalgia, but now, when I look back on my trip, I feel grateful that I was alone. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I was free to look around me and dream. To sit in cafes and write, and not worry about anyone else.

This year is going to be one of gratitude. Every morning, I wake up and say thank you to my bed. Thank you for letting me sleep soundly, snug and warm. I say thank you to my apartment when I come home. Thank you for being here. Thank you for providing me shelter. And I say thank you to my clients. Sometimes they piss me off and make unreasonable demands, but it is because of them that I can freelance and live life on my own terms.

Of course, I still have my goals, and things I want to achieve. Being grateful for what I have does not mean I remain happy with my lot. I’m grateful for what I have, and on top of that, I want more. Maybe that sounds greedy, but it is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Some people keep a gratitude journal, and write down what they are grateful for every day. I’d rather tell the things and people what I am grateful for directly. After thanking my bed, I thanked my almond milk this morning. And I feel so much happier for doing it.

 

Friends with Benefits

I’ve decided to serialize my 6th book, Friends with Benefits, on Wattpad and Goodreads. I’m updating it three times a week, two chapters at a time. It’s a kind of sweet romance with a strong heroine!

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS

friendswithbenefits

Jessica’s wedding day should be the happiest day of her life. But when her fiance leaves her at the altar, it turns out to be her worst. She swears she will never get emotionally involved with a man again. From now on, all her relationships will be commitment-free. But then she meets Kyle. They agree to a friends-with-benefits relationship, but Jessica and Kyle discover it isn’t as easy as it seems…especially when you fall in love…

 

Slowing down time

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They say that time speeds up as you get older. How true. For me, 2019 just disappeared. I blinked and it was gone. Actually, I blinked and the whole decade was gone. It’s frightening to think of how fast time actually goes. We are so busy in our daily lives, that we don’t have time to stop and savour life. We wake up, go to work, get on with the daily chores, and before we know it, it’s dark outside and bed is calling. Rinse and repeat.

I’m going to be 43 this year. I remember turning 40 like it was yesterday. How can my 40s be going by so quickly? It’s almost a year since I got divorced. How can that be a year? What can I do to slow time down? I’ve been thinking of a few ways.

1) Take time out in the day to just sit and do nothing. Time passes slowly when you do nothing. You start to clock-watch. Time drags.

2) Meditate, or just be mindful. This is similar to the first point, but the objective is to calm your mind. A few minutes of calm, concentrating on your breathing, slows down time. I took a meditation class a few years back. The hour we spent meditating each time seemed like an eternity.

3) Keep a diary. Write down things that happened during the day. You don’t have to write an essay. Just simple things, like, met a friend for coffee, got my car serviced, went to my kid’s parents’ evening. Just something that will help you remember the day. Otherwise, the days just blur into one. I was trying to recall what I did in 2017 the other day, and couldn’t recall one thing from that year. Nothing.

4) Write a to-do list and block the time in which you are going to do each activity. I block my time in 30 minute chunks. I write out the list the night before, and often find myself with spare time to fill. Consciously filling time – controlling the day instead of letting it control you – helps to slow it down. Especially when you finish your task earlier than the allotted time.

5) Recap at the end of your day. I started doing this in 2020. I have a checklist of everything I want to achieve during the week and each day. I check off what I have done. This 10 minutes every night before I go to bed helps me remember my day, and stops in blurring into the previous days.

I’m determined to slow down time this year, to make every day count. I want to remember the life I live, not have it disappear in a blur. Life is to be lived. It’s also to be remembered.

Love Zita x

 

How is life treating you?

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I met up with two friends the other day. We first met 20 years ago, and hadn’t seen each other for 5 years. We live in the same city, but we were too busy with life and all its dramas to find time to catch up. And what drama we have had. Over the 20 years life has lifted us up and dropped us from a great height.

Between us we have 3 divorces and another on the way, 4 kids, and been the victims of domestic violence. We have been through legal channels to finalize divorces, fight for custody of children, and fight for justice. We have got jobs, lost jobs, and changed careers.

I remember when we first met in our early 20s. Life had so much possibility, we were grabbing it by the collar and living to the full. We were moving to bigger cities, getting better jobs, dating, partying and enjoying all life gave us.

Then life chewed us up and spat us out. As I sat there with my friends, now we are all in our early 40s, I thought that none of us could have predicted what would happen. I have two divorces behind me, and no kids. One of my friends has a divorce, a pending court case and two kids, the other one has two kids with disabilities and an abusive husband she is trying to flee from. She says she is waiting for the right time. I told her the right time is now. Today. She agreed, but I guess she will do it in her own time.

Who would have thought, when we were young and carefree, that 20 years later, we would meet, bruised and battered from the beating life has given us. I’m sure back then, we all had visions of perfect lives. We would meet someone, settle down, have kids, have great careers, and live a happy, carefree existence. But life didn’t give us that. Instead, it has given us something which is arguably much more important – resilience and strength. Looking at my friends, they seemed so strong, so prepared to do what they had to do. Life has given us courage. It has taught us lessons. Ones we will never forget.

We will move on to the next stage of our lives knowing that we can take whatever life throws at us. I wonder what it will be like when we meet in another 20 years. We will be in our early 60s. No doubt there will be some grandchildren in the mix. Will there be new spouses? New lovers? We promised to keep in touch and meet more often, so I will see them before then. We agreed we needed to support each other more, to meet more often, to encourage each other. And this we will do. Life may have taken a lot from us, but it hasn’t taken our friendship. And for that, we are grateful.

Love Zita x

 

 

I’m reading. Do not disturb.

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As a writer, I consider reading to be part of my profession. It is part of my “training”. It also happens to be something I love. My reading time must be protected at all costs. I’ve been meaning to get back into the dating game, but haven’t really made much effort. Dating would take me away from my books. It would take away my reading time. Sure, I could fit reading into work breaks during the day and date at night, but is there anything better than curling up by the fire on a cold autumn night with a good book and a glass of wine? After a long day writing, I love nothing more.

Of course, I miss having a boyfriend. I miss having someone to love, and I miss being loved. But I am cherishing the “me” time that being single brings. And a big part of that “me” time is reading.

I’m planning to release a series of Erotica books next year, so I’m currently reading Anais Nin’s diaries. Her work is my training. Of course, this kind of training is theoretical. I need the practical kind of training too (i.e. passionate love-making with a new man), but for the moment, I’m content with being by myself and perfecting my craft through a medium I love.

When I was a child, I used to go to bed an hour before my bedtime and read. I can still remember how wonderful it felt to be tucked up in a warm bed with a good book, and reading until I felt sleepy. I shared a room with my sister, so I used to cover my head with my quilt and read by torchlight, so I wasn’t disturbed by her.

Even now, I don’t like being disturbed when I read. I want to enter the world of the book – see it, hear it and feel it. I want to be there. To be taken on a journey which crosses time and space, and which makes me forget myself momentarily. I want to be present with the characters, to love them, hate them, feel for them, live among them.

People ask me if I feel lonely living alone. The answer is no. Because I’m not alone. If I have a good book, I am among people. OK, they might be long dead, or imaginary, but while the book is open, they are alive. They are with me. How can you be lonely when you have a good book?

I’m already looking forward to tonight. Not because I’m going out with friends, or because I’m going on a date. It’s because I’ll spend tonight in the company of Anais Nin and her friends and lovers. What a wonderful place to be. Do not disturb!

Love Zita x

 

Never giving up

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When things don’t go as well as we planned, or we don’t succeed at the speed we expect, it’s so easy to just give up. Negative thoughts start creeping in. “I was stupid to think I could do this.” “This is not for me.” “I’m not good enough.” “Other people do it so much better than me.” “Who was I, to think that I could succeed?”

At these times, it’s important to remind yourself that you are only defeated if you give up. Until you give up, you are not defeated. I have been reminding myself of this over the past few days. I’ve been doubting myself as a writer. Who am I, to think I can write and be successful? Shouldn’t I give up before I waste any more time?

I’ve managed to talk myself out of this. I am only defeated if I give up. I have no chance of achieving my goals if I give in now. The only way to win is to keep going.

But keeping going is hard. We tend to imagine the path to success as a straight line. Start at the beginning and proceed along the line to the end goal. But the path to success isn’t like that. It curves, bends, backtracks and slides and at times can make you feel like you are going backwards, sliding further down the slope back to where you started. This is normal. The successful people are those who recognise this and keep going, knowing that these setbacks don’t last forever.

I read on an entrepreneur site that successful people have failed more times than you have tried. Did they give up when they failed? No, they kept on going, even when things got tough. That is the key to success. Sure, talent plays a big part, but tenacity and the refusal to give in plays an arguably greater role.

Refuse to give up. Great things are waiting for you beyond the hurdles, walls and barriers in your way. Think of all the times you did succeed at something. Chances are it was tough, but you pushed through and did it. You did it before. You can do it again.

Love Zita x

You can do it yourself

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Do you buy into the idea that having a man will give you everything you need? Is your goal to find a man to give you the stability you were brought up to believe you needed? Do you dream of finding “Mr Right” and settling down, safe in the knowledge that if anything goes wrong, he will sort things out?

I did. It was conditioned into me from a young age that finding a man was a necessity. Not just any man, mind, but a man of means, who would be a pillar of support, mainly in a material sense.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting safety and stability. In fact, it’s a human necessity. The problem for me arises when we expect a man to create our world for us. There is a difference between creating your world and having a man being a part of that, and having a man create a world in which you participate.

You could say that the ideal is for two people to create their world together, as equal partners. This opportunity exists now, in ways it didn’t in previous generations. When you marry, you and your partner can now build your own world in which you both have autonomy, economic independence, your own circles of friends and your own careers. In my parents’ generation, this opportunity was only available to those of higher economic means. My family, which fell into the low income bracket, was centered around the world my father built through his labour. My mother would never have survived without him.

I started my own business while I was married. It was because I was married that I felt able to take risks. If everything collapsed, it was OK, we would still have a roof over our heads. Sometimes I used to wonder what on earth I would do if we were ever to get divorced. How would my business survive? What if something happened? How would I pay the rent? I couldn’t possibly get divorced.

And then I did.

And I realised just how much my fear had allowed my husband to become central in the relationship. I let things slide, or didn’t challenge him about things that upset me, because I didn’t want to upset the status quo. I didn’t want to be alone – my business might not survive.

But it did survive. And it does. There is an enormous sense of freedom and accomplishment that comes with being your own boss, on your own, as a single woman, with no safety net. You start to do things to build safety and stability for yourself when you only have yourself to depend on.

The first thing I did after getting divorced was enroll in a private pension scheme. Then I started to approach new clients. Since getting divorced, my income has risen. Business is going well. I’m even thinking of getting back into writing, now that I have some breathing space.

Looking back, I can see how I let myself descend into a world created by my husband. I was dependent on him economically, and emotionally. Now, I stand alone. Independent and free, creating my world for myself.

It may seem scary at first, but you can do it. You can create your own world, alone, and shine.

Love Zita x

 

 

 

 

And relax…

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I just spent a few days feeling overwhelmed by everything I have to do. I had no motivation to do anything. I needed a day off to do nothing, yet I felt so guilty. How could I take a day off when my businesses needed me? When my goals are not met? When I have books to write? When I still don’t have that apartment in Paris?

I spoke to a friend who said that one day off is not going to derail my whole life. And he was right. So I spent the day sleeping, reading, and watching videos on YouTube. At night, I had a long bath, and pampered myself with Elemis rose cleanser and a face mask. I did some gentle stretching. I drank vegetable juice. I had an early night. I was kind to myself.

The twenty-something me would have probably gone out drinking and smoking until the early hours to forget about things. Not the forty-something me. She knows that if I am going to achieve my goals, I need to be rested and ready to go the next day.

Here is what I learnt from taking some time away from my life.

1. You will work more efficiently and effectively the next day.

2. You will be able to think more clearly.

3. Your body and mind need rest and nourishment.

4. Your business, or world, will not collapse just because you don’t work for 24 hours.

5. You feel a sense of renewal, both physically and mentally.

6. You don’t need alcohol, cigarettes and a long night out to get rid of overwhelm.

7. Motivation returns. It might take a while, but it will return.

If you are feeling the burn out, or lacking motivation, don’t keep on struggling. Take some time away. It is your body and brain’s way of saying, “Hey! Give me a break every now and then will you!?” I realise this is easy for me to say. I am single with no kids. I only have myself to look out for. Sometimes I look at mothers, especially single mothers, and wonder how they do it. Finding time for themselves must seem like an impossible task sometimes.

The older we get, the more important it is to listen to our bodies and minds. They have the experience to know what they need. It’s up to us to give them that.

Love Zita x