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Thursday, December 26, 2019

As We Head into Not Just a New Year but a New Decade ...

I would love for us all to be a kinder, gentler version of humanity. Yet I also see the need for boundaries and for standing up to bullies, with kindness and tact as needed but with a firm stand when required as well. That said, here are some recommendations as we near 2020:

  1. Read Candace Cameron Bure's book, Kind Is the New Classy, and others of its ilk. We can all change the world, one person at a time, starting with ourselves. If that book title doesn't call to you, then I suggest watching the rip-roaring action movie, 6 Underground, with Ryan Reynolds, currently offered on Netflix. Yes, I'm tongue-in-cheek here, as you don't need to be a billionaire tech guru or to own guns to pull off this "save the world" motif. But this should get your blood pumping and may inspire you to at least get off the couch and to make yourself into a better human being, one step at a time.
  2. Follow through with actions, not just speaking your words or reading someone else's words about good ideas for New Year's resolutions. Make active resolutions, where you follow through. When I cut back on my drive-through Starbucks addiction (ha!), I ended up funneling that money into Kiva loans. I still drink Starbucks but mostly the home-brewed version. Yet this change felt right back then. Feels true now as well.
  3. I urge everyone of legal age to register to vote and to cast your vote, regardless of which political election is involved. NOTE: This is not a political forum. Any comments too pointed in that vein will be deleted, even if I agree with you. No names to be named, please. No name-calling will be tolerated here. I urge everyone to register to vote and to cast your vote. It's the American way. So many countries in the world don't have this right. Heck, we American women just got the right to vote less than one hundred years ago, via the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to our US Constitution, officially adopted on August 26, 1920. Not even one century ago could US-born females of age vote. Shaking my head as here I sit, in this country, the land of the free. Hard to fathom, yes. But, regardless of your sex, vote. Offer to drive a senior citizen to the polls with you or someone without a vehicle or whoever you can help to get there who might not otherwise make the effort without a nudge.
  4. Be gentle with yourself as well as others, as long as your rights aren't being violated.
  5. Speak up if you are being violated. Speak up if you witness others being violated. You have to stand up to bullies. Don't wait. Do it now. This reminds me of a famous Ayn Rand quote, which goes something like this, "Evil requires the sanction of the victim." I would love to further tweak that line to say:
The continuance of evil requires the continued silence of the victim.
Don't be silent when it comes to evil.

Here's to New Year 2020. May it bring in a better era, a brighter decade, a healthier, happier and more peaceful humanity.

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger, Copy Editor

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas to All and Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward Men

Per the ASV of the Bible, Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Emphasis added.]

Best wishes to all, regardless of color, creed or religious preference. And I hope everyone prays for us all. May God bless us all, now and into the coming new decade.

Denise Barker

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Pet Lovers (and Others) Unite! Part Deux

For those of you who have not yet donated to Kristi Patrice Carter's GoFundMe campaign to help incorporate her nonprofit, Henry's Caring Heart Foundation, to assist needy pet families, including the first five grants of up to $500, here's the link again:

For those of us who have more time than money, you can spread the word. Please post to your social media accounts and let others know about this opportunity to save someone's pet.

Even though I do not live in Heartland USA, where Kristi's endeavor is initially launching, I still have to give what I can to her dream. If you are local to Kristi's nonprofit you could donate time as a volunteer.

Or maybe this big dream of Kristi's nudges along your own dreams. I believe we are all here for a purpose (which is why suicides seem so doubly painful to me). So maybe this dream isn't calling to you? You can give in so many ways to make this planet a better place for all of us today, tomorrow and into the future.

What about some of these ideas below? Do any grab your heart? When you hear that Yes! in your soul, you know you've hit upon something that matters to you. So read this list, make your own, and do something TODAY to improve our world:

  1.  Donate to Kiva. You only need $25. https://www.kiva.org/lend/filter
  2.  Rescue a pet (or five) from your local animal shelter.
  3.  Sign up at your local animal shelter to be a foster pet parent to help save a pet's life until its forever family shows up.
  4.  Donate to Charity: Water. https://www.charitywater.org/donate
  5.  Donate to Pencils of Promise. https://pencilsofpromise.org/donate/
  6.  Plant a garden.
  7.  Recycle.
  8.  Go green. You don't have to be all-in, 100%. Do what you can, with what you've got, right now.
  9.  Give away gently used things you are not using that someone else would love to have.
  10.  Donate gently used clothing to a local women's shelter.
  11.  Donate food to a local food pantry bank.
  12.  Sign up to be an organ donor.
  13.  Give blood.
  14.  Donate a weekend to Habitat for Humanity.
  15.  Bring dinner to a sick friend.
  16.  Write that book that is in you.
  17.  Uplift a sad friend.
  18.  Pray for all of us, the humans, the animals, the trees, our lands and oceans, our air, our planet.
  19.  Uplift yourself with a walk or other exercise or sport, digging a garden, playing with a pet or a child.
  20.  Give generously of yourself, your time, your ideas, and, yes, your money.
I'm sure I'll think of many more examples for this list. What about you? What do you want to be known for in this life? Can you picture what your personal branding would look like, so that it captured the real essence of you? Have any other ideas for my list? Suggestions? Dreams you want to share?

Two more things come to mind: (1) It takes a village. While every donation helps, just think if we all pooled our resources to make a bigger impact on a common goal? What more could we do then? That's why my small donation will do so much more in Kristi's hands. (2) Also see this short clip that Tim Ferriss recommended on how wolves change the course of rivers. We really interact with our surroundings, without even knowing it. Take a look here https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=how+wolves+change+rivers&qpvt=how+wolves+change+rivers&FORM=VDRE :

How Wolves Change Rivers. This short video (< 5 minutes) has been viewed more than 40 million times. It’s an incredible visual portrait of how wolves can help—literally—change the course of rivers. Though highly simplified, this video showcases a beautiful, critically important, and woefully underappreciated phenomenon called trophic cascade.

Have a great weekend, y'all. Be kind to yourself as well as to others.

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Friday, July 12, 2019

Pet Lovers Unite

Want to help out a friend of mine to realize her dream to help pets and their families, initially in the IL, IN, and WI area? To be expanded as the nonprofit grows … Kristi Patrice Carter is forming a nonprofit to issue grants to underemployed and unemployed families who need help caring for their pets. Kristi needs help with the incorporation fees and the initial funding for five $500 grants.

Show your love of animals by donating to https://www.gofundme.com/f/seeking-pet-lovers-to-help-us-fund-501c3-fees?utm_medium=email&utm_source=product&utm_campaign=p_email%2B5311-donation-receipt-wp-v5&utm_content=internal

These donations are not tax deductible because the nonprofit is not legally formed yet.

God bless you for donating to this good cause.

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger, Copy Editor

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

10 Things You May Not Know about Freelancers (or at least this freelancer)

I'm a freelancer. I love it. Completely. Fully. Without reservation. Even during the lean months. But you do need a certain constitution in order to handle things, like:

1. I don't get paid on the first and the fifteenth of every month. And I'm good with that. But you must have the grit and the determination to wait out this unknown period until another project comes in. To not worry (much). After all, when that next project arrives, you'll shake your head and tell yourself that you should have been removing the deadwood from all your trees in the backyard instead of moping and fretting. So now, when the paying work is done, I move on to my own writing projects. Or DIY home stuff. Or weeding my yard. Or decluttering. Or organizing (and hopefully culling) my ever-growing recipe stash. Reading. Watching movies. Cleaning house (but that's usually a last resort, LOL). Or any of another dozen or so projects I'm anxious to get to.

2. I don't get paid the same amount when I do get paid. Gone are the days of two paychecks a month for the same $X, where you could easily predict your monthly income and budget accordingly. Granted, I've worked every kind of employee compensation setup: monthly (hard to do at first and still hard to have money those last couple days before paid once again); every two weeks (so you get twenty-six paychecks in a year and sometimes three paychecks in one calendar month) which makes it tricky to cover certain big-ticket bills, like your mortgage for instance, but you learn; twice-monthly, the standard first and fifteenth paycheck, which I kinda preferred overall (but you get twenty-four paychecks a year, and sometimes the first or fifteenth lands on a weekend and your employer may pay later on the next weekday). But those are payments for employees paid by the hour or salaried, depending on your setup. Then there's by the project. That's me. Some payments are under $10. Some payments are much bigger. But some months I get no money in at all. Such is the freelancing life. Before you freak out, remember that I've been doing this for twelve years now. And somehow it all works out.

3. I work every calendar day when I have paying work. No holidays off. No vacations taken. No birthdays off. No weekends off either. Granted, I'm a homebody, and I'm doing what I love, so I feel like I'm on vacation every day of my life since I began this freelancing journey twelve years ago. However, my body knows when to say Enough! And I listen to and respect that and take a full day off here and there. But I figure I have enough days off when the projects don't keep coming in. Plus I have my daily routine. I straighten up the house a bit to keep on top of the mess, fix my coffee, check my emails for incoming new projects, read a bit about what's new with the publishing industry and about copyediting, then dive into my topmost project. And I religiously give myself downtime at night to unwind.

4. I limit eyestrain. I'm a copy editor, the spelling and grammar police for authors, which means I'm watching for stray spaces (not kidding), making sure a period is at the end of sentences where needed, that a semicolon shouldn't be a comma there. Very detailed work dealing with minutia. So I read all the time. Not only do I make two complete read-throughs of each and every project that I work on (to catch as many errors as is humanly possible), but I love to read in my downtime. So I give my eyes a break with each cup of coffee I get up to make, each cup of water I drink, each nap I take, each bathroom trip I take, each meal I stop for (whenever I'm hungry, no matter what time of day), even when watching Netflix at night from a greater screen distance than I do my copyediting work. And I use f.lux on my computers (said to diminish the blue light emissions which cause eyestrain and sleep disruptions). Also I recently bought a pair of TrueDark glasses, Daywalkers (with the distinctive yellow lenses) and Twilight Zone (with the more distinctive red lenses). I noticed better, deeper, less interrupted sleep the very first night. And my eyes seemed stronger (vague, yes) where I felt I could work longer each day. Still there are upper limits I must abide by.

5. I work any hour of the day possible. This is such a bonus to being a freelancer. If I wake up at 2:00 a.m. and can't immediately get back to sleep, I head to my home office. I work a couple hours. Then I'm usually able to fall back to sleep.

6. I take naps! Not every day but that perk is available to me. Only in kindergarten did I have this luxury outside of my own home.

7. The nonexistent dress code. This may be one of the best reasons to love working for yourself. No stupid dress codes. Living in Texas, I mow my lawn nine to ten months out of the year. And I wear flip-flops nine to ten to eleven months out of the year. No more pantyhose. No more makeup (I'm a minimalist gal-next-door type). My hair in a ponytail. Each and every day. Gone are the curling wands and/or circular brushes and blow-dryers to make my superstraight hair be curly. What a waste of time that was.

8. I can run errands at any time. Even now, some twelve years later into this freelancing gig, I feel like I'm playing hooky when I get to run around town during "normal" working hours (after too many years in the basic cubicle mentality). I do try to restrict my runs to weekday mornings where there is less foot traffic in the stores. And to help out those 9-to-5ers who don't need me shopping during their time off. I remember those days of a minimum 1.5-hour commute round trip daily and then stopping at the grocery store at 7:00 p.m. at night. Meaning, if I was lucky, I got home at 8:00 p.m. and still had to unload the groceries. You can bet no cooking was done that evening. Now I can do a grocery run (to about five local stores), come home, put it up, prep certain itemslike chopping up green onions, ready for an omelet at any timeor split up a family pack of chicken breasts into smaller portions which will defrost faster. I'm a foodie, a Deep South gal who enjoys a good home-cooked meal, so this is a real bonus to me.

9. I am my own boss. I'm diligent about reaching deadlines and have never been late to return any project to the wonderful authors I work with. This is a required skill, a much-needed discipline to have in any line of work but especially when it's your own business. I saw signs of this need to be my own boss many, many years before leaving the corporate environment. I'm sure my previous bosses did too. Ha!

10. Sometimes you have to make choices as to which bill to pay. I'm a geek who gets extreme pleasure receiving bills and paying them immediately. So, as a freelancer with a now-fluid income, this one was hard. But you make wise choices and catch up on those other bills when more money comes in. Yet I'm proof positive that you can wiggle your way through it.  And even stop worrying about it. After all, I bought my first home in 2000 (where I still live), but I was working as a legal assistant at that time, making a nice salary and getting paid routinely twice a month. Then in mid-2007, I left that day job and started freelancing. Yet here I am, mid-2019, still paying the mortgage on that house I bought in 2000, yet earning only half (in a good year!) of what I used to make. I mean, if worse comes to worse, I'll hire on as a cashier at the local box store. Not kidding. You do what you gotta do. But I'm happy to note that I haven't needed a day job to bolster my freelance earnings since 2011. Just hang tough. Be open to new income streams (mine is writing my own books, but I need to put more of my spare time into that). Seek out more clients (which I do mostly through this blog and my KB ad), but thankfully I get most of my clients by referrals. God bless you all.

All in all, the freelancing life is heaven to me. I belong here. It's a sweet lifestyle. But I know it's not right for everyone. But it was more than perfect for me.

Wherever you work, may you be greatly appreciated and may you also thoroughly enjoy every moment of your career!

Welcome to My World, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)


Friday, June 7, 2019

An Early Happy Father's Day to All Fathers

In the spirit of Father's Day, I have to pass along this wonderfully cute video of a father interacting with his son. Enjoy!


"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Grateful Flip-Flop-Wearing Freelancer

Just call me Flip-Flop Freelancer for short. Flip-flops make me smile. They segue into great summertime memories and feelings of complete freedom (before I became an adult). They are a talisman for me. But I have lots more freedom in my adult life now as a freelancer. I'm feeling so grateful for this life of self-employment that I had to post about it. Again.

 Image result for free clipart of flip-flops    Image result for free clipart of flip-flops   Image result for free clipart of flip-flops  Image result for free clipart of flip-flops

I'm a Deep South gal from Baton Rouge now living in the DFW area. So I can wear flip-flops ten months out of the year (and mow my lawn about nine months out of the year too). My casual attire in my home office is such a wonderful freedom from my years spent as a legal assistant, where you wouldn't believe the strange rules I worked under.

One law firm didn't want their female employees to wear sleeveless dresses or tops (even if going through early menopause after a hysterectomy and suffering through hot flashes for years). Another firm wouldn't let women wear pants (even if below freezing outside).

So to wear flip-flops (no hose, no heels, no slips) is freedom to me.

The other thought I wanted to share here is that we should all do something today (and every day hereafter if possible) that we have been putting off for later, whether for a theoretical vacation or for that magical day when all our work is done or for when we retire.

I see such problems with that line of thought. First, my work is my vacation. I've never been big on traveling as I am such a homebody, loving cooking, reading, watching movies, being in nature. So spending money on some vacation doesn't sound like a good use of funds, IMO. Yet ... I would love to see firsthand some great wonders of the world. But I'm happy to peruse awesome photos in the meantime.

Second, when will all our work ever be done? Granted, there is paying work (freelancing), and there is nonpaying work (DIY projects at home). And I was raised with a strong work ethic, so I tended to be such a workaholic when in the corporate world. When I started working for myself, my high-octane "normal" mode just doubled. Tripled even.

And retiring? I plan on working long after I retire, as I'm an author as well as a copy editor.

So, while I put in more hours to my freelancing, I spend downtime at night either reading for pleasure or watching movies on DVD or on Netflix. This week I'm motivated to read more than watch movies. And I have a sudden urge to paint my nails (which is not altogether wise when involved in DIY projects or even handwashing dishes, rubber gloves or no rubber gloves). Still it makes me smile to see my nails done (fingers and toes because, as mentioned above, I wear flip-flops).

This post is to share my happiness and to hope it is contagious, plus to remind us all to be grateful daily and to stop putting off doing enjoyable things for "later."

Therefore, I urge you all to treat yourself to a minivacation at some point in each day.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Vote for Your Dream Life with Your Time and Your Focus

What do I mean by that? Choose your top three areas where you need to do more, where you should focus more so that it leads to the creation of your dream life.

Why three? It's more impactful than one, and it's not so overwhelming as seven. Plus, it only involves one hour of time total (if I just do the minimum time allotted). If I want to work longer on each, so be it.

Here's my take on this:

  1. Physical Goal: Start exercising again. I've set it up for fifteen minutes a day, as early in the day as I can, since I'm more likely to do it that way. Plus it sets me up for more successes throughout the day. Success begets success, right? This is both a short-term and long-term goal. I feel the benefits of exercise while I'm doing it, pushing my body, and afterward I feel renewed energy. Plus I can look forward to long-term benefits of added health and longevity and newly defined muscles and more flexibility.
  2. Mental Goal: Decluttering for at least fifteen minutes a day. I'm a paper-gathering pack rat, what with all my writing-related info and my recipe collecting and my massive library of books (which will remain regardless). I've already cleared out one shelf. Totally empty. I smile every time I see it. Getting this done gives me mental head space as I clear out my physical space. One less thing to worry about, right? Even if I don't get through all my paper piles and boxes of research in one day (not possible), I'm making continuous progress. It's all good. Again I remind myself of both the short-term and long-term benefits of this.
  3. Monetary Goal: Upload more of my own ebooks by setting aside thirty minutes each day to focus on this production. Granted, the money benefit is a long-term goal. But the satisfaction of getting this done and off my To Do list is a gratifying short-term goal. I'm currently working on a menu-planning series (my adaptation of a recipe book but presented in sections, like bread, chicken, desserts, etc.). Whether I'm doing the next book cover, researching some health element, sorting through my recipes for the ones to add to this current ebook, it all counts.
So what are your three top picks to focus on? Write it down. Make a plan. Start today.

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I Dare You To ...

Be honest today. About yourself. No holding back.

Be honest to others, using tact as needed.

I've said this before, and I'll probably keep saying it forever. I'm an author, a blogger, a copy editor. Communication is key. Honest communication is the best. How can we make an informed decision if we don't have all the details? How can we have a truly healthy and rewarding relationship (whether as friends or as coworkers or as parents or as spouses) if both parties are withholding key elements about themselves?

Granted, even when our hearts are in the right place and even when we communicate honestly, our message can be totally distorted on both the giving end (wrong choice of words maybe?) and on the receiving end (hot buttons pushed maybe?). Hopefully further communication can clear up that disconnect. But also remember: their response is more telling about them and their beliefs than it is about you and what you said.

Talk about a tell. That will give you further insight into that person. Use that information wisely.

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker
Freelance US Copy Editor

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Art of True Communication

I'm an author, blogger, copy editor. Communication is key in everything I do. I propose that it is vital in all that any of us do, if we are to meet with success, whether in our personal relationships or in our business interactions.

So here is the art of true communication in a nutshell:

  • With your heart and mind and body aligned with your higher purpose,
  • Speak honestly and truthfully about your emotions and your wants,
  • Using tact as needed,
  • Not presuming to know other people's feelings and desires,
  • As no one can fully realize your fears and hopes without your input.
Make the world a better place. Improve your relationships. Be honest. Be truthful. Be bold. Share your innermost self.

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger, Copy Editor

Friday, January 4, 2019

Our Identities

This will be a short post, just putting this thought out there, for you to contemplate and maybe for me to expound upon later.

I watched a Hallmark movie recently, with a very intrusive mother trying to fix up her grown business-oriented daughter, getting her into a relationship. The mother was being pressured by the father into retiring from her real estate business just for six months this year so they could go to Italy. But the mother had problems with the word "retirement," even on a part-time basis. The movie is Love by Chance and stars Beau Garrett as the harassed daughter. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAYLXIS2-VY.


Then the next day I watched a Hack Your Sleep video by Dr. Mark Hyman with Shawn Stevenson. Very interesting. If you have an hour, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LERJSdRdeB0. Shawn had been this promising young athlete who suffered a major injury early on. He had to reidentify himself.


And thank goodness for that. His background as an athlete gave him a great insight into his later endeavors in researching medical advances and scientific data regarding sleep. It affects, ... well, everything. Our body is a miraculous system of systems.

Plus Shawn touched on how active and vocal our brains are. Not like the other organs of our body. And how the placebo effect works 30 percent of the time. How to "decide" is to "cut off other possibilities."

What I get from that is: Tell yourself what you need to hear to heal. To prosper. To be happy. Be your own cheerleader. Exhort, uplift and encourage yourself.

Watch what labels you affix to your self-identity.

To others' sense of self.

Like that old saying, Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater, we must be careful not to label a person (us or anyone else) by one measuring stick. Like I'm an author, blogger and copy editor. However, I'm also this eternal student, sucking up myriad topics from various sources; a voracious reader; a lover of coffee, cats and antique cars; a movieholic; and a foodie. And that doesn't touch upon my hobbies.

Don't box yourself in. Don't discount your gifts, whether because of a lack of monetization or even the current lack of time to indulge in them.

Keep your options open.

Be kind to yourself.

Be kind to others.

In closing, I ran across this Bible verse recently, and I find it applicable here:

He hath showed thee, O Man, what is good, and what the Lord requireth of thee: surely to do justly, and to love mercy, and to humble thyself, to walk with thy God. Micah 6:8 (Geneva Bible)

In other words, be nice to yourself as well as to others.

Welcome to My World, Readers and Authors, Where Every Day Is a Saturday

Denise Barker
Author, Blogger, Copy Editor