10 Things to Think About Before Working from Home

When I get emails from people who want to make a living from the comfort of their home, they always want to know how long it took me to reach that point. When I first started writing as a paid job, I didn’t expect it to become a full-time gig. I would write after I got home from work for a few hours per day. I will be honest and say I got lucky because I was already a decent writer, and it earned me the attention of the higher-ups with my company. I also had an article go viral with 13 million views thanks to a report from Yahoo News. When deciding to make that leap to working from home, there were many things that I had to think about. Here, I’ll share with you the 10 things you need to think about before working from home.

10. Does the Work Have Longevity?

Working from home is a nice idea in this moment, and you’ve found that you’ve gotten a well-paying gig that will pay for a few months of your bills. Before you submit your two weeks; notice to your boss, think further ahead. Where do you see yourself in 6 months? 1 year? 2 years? Do you still see yourself still maintaining enough gigs to work from home and be able to still eat and pay your bills?

9. There Will Be Dry Spells

When working as a freelancer, there will be times where the work isn’t as plentiful, or there may be mishaps in getting paid. When this happens, we know that the bills won’t wait. While you are still working a full-time job, start saving your money for about 6 months worth of your bills and expenses. This may seem daunting and may push your quit date a bit further, it will be well worth it when there are dry spells with freelancing.

8. Test the Waters

If you’re getting a decent amount of work while freelancing, and you want to see if you can get enough work to cover your regular income, then consider going part-time at your day job temporarily. If that’s not possible, then maybe take a few half-days per month. Of course, you don’t want to jeopardize your day job or lie to your boss. If you have vacation time that you need to use, then that would be a good opportunity to use that time to see what you can really pull off if you didn’t work at an office or day job.

7. Your Workspace

Working from home is much more than just sitting at your desk or dining room table. You have to have a workspace that will be productive. Think of your distractions you have at home, and come up with a game plan to combat them. Do you have pets? Do you have kids? Does your roommate come home early to turn on the TV and catch up on shows? Ideally, you should have a room dedicated to work so you can be productive with minimal to no distractions. Close the social media tabs and concentrate on work. Does working at a coffeehouse 5 days a week appeal to you? Figure out how you can get your work done at home before making the jump.

6. Work Never Leaves

I won’t lie, working from home is fantastic. But there is a major downside: work never leaves. Even if I go into the living room, I know I can get work done if I have free time. I struggle with taking breaks. If my show is on, I’ll watch it, but in the back of my mind I’m thinking, “You could be working right now and being super productive.” You have to be able to turn work mode off at the end of each day, otherwise, you’ll never be able to give yourself a break physically or mentally.

5. Keep a Schedule

If you’re working a job that is project based with a deadline, then this bullet point is already important. Keep a schedule of your work day, and have a start time and an end time. While sometimes there is flexibility in your work day, if you don’t maintain a schedule, then you will find yourself working day and night. Or worse, you could find yourself behind on your projects because you wanted to binge watch your favorite show, or you missed an opportunity because you took a walk.

4. More Bills

If you’re working a job with benefits, quitting your job to become self-employed and working from home will mean that you will lose your benefits like your 401K and your health insurance. This is especially important to keep in mind if you have a family. Health insurance isn’t getting cheaper at the moment, so before you quit your job to work from home, make a list of all of your monthly bills. Also, be sure to make a new list each month so you’re not hit with surprise charges.

3. Assumptions

When you make the jump to work from home, your friends and family will have opinions. Some will be good. Others, not so much. I found myself correcting people when they said I was unemployed. No, I AM EMPLOYED. Today, more companies have remote employees more than ever. I decided to work from home because it was a decision that best fit my needs and lifestyle. Some people may think that you couldn’t cut it in the traditional workforce, while others may even think you’re lazy. But, none of those negative connotations are true. As you start to talk to others about your decision, take comments with a grain of salt. As we move towards a more remote-based company structure, hopefully, there will be more open-mindedness towards working from home in the future.

2. Solitary Life

When you work a day job, it is likely that you encounter your coworkers every working day. You can walk to their desk or station, have a chit-chat in the break room, even go to lunch with a coworker. When you work from home, you don’t have that. You don’t have much physical contact with other people at all. When you want to meet up with your friends, they still work at an office so they might not be able to fit you into their daytime/weekday work schedule. Make sure you go outside at least once a day for a breath of fresh air, and if you’re feeling especially lonely, call a friend or loved one just so you can be social.

1. Do What’s Best for YOU

At the end of the day, you know you. You know what will work best for you. If you’re miserable at your current job and you need a change, do what is best for your mental health. Others will have opinions, you may run into unexpected surprises financially, working from home is not the perfect solution to your problems. Before taking this leap, take careful consideration into how life will change for you presently and in the future. If taking the leap is worth it, then by all means, spread your arms and soar!

Is This What Pride Feels Like?

Last night was our last rehearsal for “The Vagina Monologues” before we moved into the theatre. I’ve been getting told by my friends and family how proud they are of me for pulling this off and putting it together. Most people know how I feel about compliments, and I’ll keep the tradition going. This production was so much bigger than me! It was a massive puzzle that had to be put together, and every person involved has been a piece of that puzzle. Without them, this production wouldn’t have happened.

16836217_1356874697702905_7586359801460349449_oI’ve been crying a bit for the past day, but for once it’s because of a good thing! I’m so proud of this show! I can’t even explain in words how much my heart is bursting! It’s been a journey, but it has been SO POSITIVE!

This was honestly a crazy idea that I had back in December. This means that this production was a last minute decision that was pulled together in less than 3 months. I honestly could not have done it without Loni Price, Pimpila Violette, Emily Hamm, Ashley Jones, Alissa Alba, and Sarah Gendron. They were the first to answer the call when I put it out on social media that I wanted to do “The Vagina Monologues.” They kept me grounded, went along with the crazy ideas, and put their whole hearts into this project. I owe you ladies so much, and I don’t know how I will ever repay you.

Not only that, but I got so lucky with this cast.

For example, Kelly McConkey dove in even before she auditioned and was getting donation items, gave out of her own pocket and spread the word about the show like a true leader. She boosted me up when I felt hopeless and ready to give up on everything in my life, even on the paranormal side!

Joanna Herath is such a joy in my life. She was in the staged reading of my play, “Japanese Eyes/American Heart”, and she is amazing in Vagina Monologues. She has also done tremendous work on our fundraising end and made it possible for us to have a counselor present for our show.

I hadn’t met a few of the women before this show. Like Arin Dickson…holy cow! She is so passionate, and can own a stage like no one’s business! I am so glad she is with us!

Arrissia Blanton is one of the strongest women I have ever met. She brings so much to her monologue, and you don’t want to stop watching her!

Chelsey Winstead is not only a sweetheart, but she makes me laugh so hard that I’m in near tears. I have enjoyed getting to know her, and I look forward to working with her in the future!

Speaking of tears, Maribeth McCarthy made me cry last night with her reading of “The Vagina Workshop.” I hadn’t worked with Maribeth before, and I’m so glad she wanted to be a part of this!

Amani Mckenzie brought new life to “My Vagina Was My Village” and her sweetness just made her portrayal of the devastation that much more heartbreaking.

Every day, Nicole Graziano inspires me to do more, live better, and be a fighter. She is someone who I feel honored to be in the show with.

I knew of Lauren Bamford but I hadn’t had the chance to see her perform until now. She brings “Hair” a new life that I have never seen before.

I can watch Lynnette Barber perform all day. She brings about a sense of calm and control that is so fascinating to watch, and she has one of the longest pieces in the show. And you know what? She rocks it and does it justice!

Sharon Moyer…where do I begin? What a talent and such a joy to work with. She is so dedicated to the cause that she drove from Fayetteville to be a part of this cast. She saw the cause as THAT important, and she makes me weep during “I Was There in the Room.”

Nan L. Stephenson has the challenge of bringing the annual Spotlight monologue to life. Let me tell you all, it’s a doozy. But Nan takes it on flawlessly and brings Eve’s words to life in such a way that I want to stand up and rise for the cause.

Seema Kukreja is one of the most passionate people I have ever met! She has put her whole heart into this production, and she has given so much of herself! Having her in this show is truly a blessing.

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As I watched the cast run through the show on Thursday night, I thought, “Wow…we have a show.” I felt so proud of these amazing women!

I have to give major kudos to Michelle Johnson. When we needed someone to wear the Pinky costume…aka dress as a giant vagina, she volunteered and has owned the role!

Kelly Buynitzky has been a tremendous helper since day one by spreading the word. Even at auditions, she was helping us sort papers, and she has helped promote the show.

I have to say how grateful I am to Jennifer Torres of Wake Health Medical Group. I met her at Friday Free for All at “Bob and the Showgram” and when I learned she did vaginal rejuvenation sessions, I knew I had to tell her about Vagina Monologues! Not only did she help promote, but also donated a rejuvenation session for our silent auction that’s worth $750! You can check out V-Day Raleigh’s silent auction here.

Finally, I have to give kudos to our show night volunteers! Ann Haigler, Heather Curry, Janice Blevins Hillanbrand, Julia Fair, Elizabeth Breakey, Marianne Ayers, Ciaran Cavanaugh, Juanita Velázquez, and Chris Yarborough will be on the front lines during the show to make sure the patrons have a great experience. And we also have Sheri Leider coming as our counselor in case anyone is triggered by the content.

I hope you will be able to join me on Monday February 27th and Tuesday February 28th at Sonorous Road Productions and see all of this hard work come to fruition as we raise money for InterAct of Wake County!

To get tickets, please click here. To donate to V-Day Raleigh’s Generosity page, click here.

V-Day Spotlight 2017: Violence Against Women in the Workplace

Each year, the international V-Day organization chooses a Spotlight. V-Day “spotlights” a certain group of women who are facing violence, “with the goal of raising awareness and funds to put a worldwide media spotlight on this area and to aid groups on the ground who are addressing it.” Previous Spotlight Campaigns featured Afghan Women (2002); Missing and Murdered Women in Juarez, Mexico (2004); and the Women and Girls of Haiti (2011 and 2012). V-Day’s 2017 Spotlight is Violence Against Women in the Workplace.

V-Day Raleigh

Each year, the international V-Day organization chooses a Spotlight. V-Day “spotlights” a certain group of women who are facing violence, “with the goal of raising awareness and funds to put a worldwide media spotlight on this area and to aid groups on the ground who are addressing it.” Previous Spotlight Campaigns featured Afghan Women (2002); Missing and Murdered Women in Juarez, Mexico (2004); and the Women and Girls of Haiti (2011 and 2012). V-Day’s 2017 Spotlight is Violence Against Women in the Workplace.black-and-white-city-man-people

Disproportionate Effect on Women

Workplace violence disproportionately affects women, who are often subject to sexual harassment on the job. The subject recently made national news when former FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against FOX CEO and Chairman Roger Ailes, accusing him of sexual harassment. Subsequently, additional women came forward with similar accusations against Ailes. 21st Century Fox allowed Ailes to resign – and gave…

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Why “The Vagina Monologues”?

Why did I want to do “The Vagina Monologues” this year? Why didn’t I wait until next year? Read V-Day Raleigh’s latest blog and find out!

V-Day Raleigh

There are numerous ways to make your voice heard. Thanks to the innovation of the internet and social media, your voice has the potential to have an audience of millions. While there are venues of activism that are powerful, I feel activism through art is one of the most powerful ways to make your voice heard.Social Media Abstract Vector Design

Truthfully, I wanted to somehow be a part of “The Vagina Monologues” (TVM) in Raleigh in some way. I hadn’t seen it since I was still in San Diego. Since moving to the Triangle in 2013, I kept my eye out for a production of TVM that wasn’t in a college setting, but my search didn’t turn up much. Finally, in 2016, TVM popped back into my mind after a colleague of mine was killed by her husband, and then he committed suicide. After the results of the presidential election, and encountering more stories…

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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

V-Day Raleigh

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (Teen DV Month). Statistics show that one in three teenagers will experience emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in their 2017-shareable-fb-instagramrelationship, and that dating abuse affects 1.5 million teenagers every year. In addition, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – a rate that is nearly triple the national average. Teen DV Month was created to educate teenagers and their supporters about unhealthy relationships, and to provide information on how to prevent dating abuse.

Why Focus Specifically on Teens?

Dating violence or abuse can have lasting effects on teenagers who experience it. Victims who experience violent relationships as teenagers are at higher risk for eating disorders, substance abuse problems, and additional domestic violence. Teenage girls who have been sexually or physically abused are twice as likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection…

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InterAct – Courageous Voices Tour

Check out my experience of touring InterAct for their Courageous Voices Tour!

V-Day Raleigh

InterAct – Courageous Voices Tour

By Alex Matsuointeract-blog-image-medium

Written on 1/26/17

Today, I had the honor of taking InterAct’s Courageous Voices tour. As the organizer for V-Day Raleigh and director for this year’s production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”, I felt it was my duty to see firsthand what InterAct does for our community on a daily basis. I knew what to expect visually, but I had no idea what how my heart would react to what I saw.

Domestic violence is a real problem in Wake County, and InterAct is the only shelter for victims of domestic violence in the county. 1 in 3 women is a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. In Wake County alone, we’re talking about 100,000 women. InterAct helped 40,000 people last year get away from their abusers and start their life anew. Not only do they help these women, but…

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This is Anxiety

Before proceeding further…there is triggering content in this blog post.

I feel like it’s time to show you all a photo that sums up my anxiety. This was not an easy decision, as I’m being remarkably vulnerable. But so often I hear stories of people who suffer from anxiety and get told it’s not a big deal. It’s not an illness. Just get over it.

I deal with a severe case of anxiety. It’s awful. One minute I’m fine, and one light disagreement later I’m a mess. I want to express myself, but then I’m terrified over making someone mad or have ill feelings towards me. Social situations terrify me. If a place is too crowded or too loud, I lose my mind. If someone is recording me, I get paranoid.

Going on a drive can set me off. Going out in public sets me off. I think about worst case scenarios on a regular basis. What if a shooter kills me? What if I’m in a car accident? What if I fall asleep and never wake up?

I also have self-deprecating thoughts. If I call myself a failure and a screw up I beat you to the punchline.

If you think these feelings are irrational, please know:

  • I almost died in a car accident in 2005
  • My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly in her sleep
  • I’ve been through a few interactions where guns were in the wrong hands
  • I had a stalker that sexually harassed me often, and reminded me he was watching me
  • Was in an abusive relationship for a bit. Not anymore (thank God)

The worst case scenarios have either happened or been close calls. So I feel like they’re always around the next corner. When is the next disaster going to happen in my life?

It affects my health. Specifically, it affects my blood pressure, my heart, and my whole body at times. I’m sore after a panic attack. I get migraines often. I get chest pains more often than not.

How do I deal?

To stay calm, I’ll pick at my fingers and I’ll pick at my toes until they bleed. I don’t even know I’m doing this until I feel the wetness of the blood on my skin. Rarely do I have long fingernails and toenails. I’m always picking or biting. Blemishes on my skin don’t stand a chance. I’ll scratch myself until I bleed.

“Don’t do that, Alex!”

Guess what? I don’t even know I’m doing it. It’s something my body does.

Exhibit A:

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After a disagreement on Facebook. Ridiculous, right?

Lately, I’ve been finding myself doing this more often since the election. I tend to vent on social media.

But in general, there are people who know I suffer from anxiety and still want to debate or fight. Until now, I’ve been silent on dealing with the feelings that result from those interactions. Today, I decided to be more forthcoming about what these interactions are doing to me. I had a few say they would back off, and it opened a dialogue on anxiety management. I so appreciate that (Thank you, Robb).

But there are others who are telling me to just deal with it. It’s a fact of life. I get it. For those who don’t understand, it’s fine. It just hurts when I’m spoken to and looked at like a freak.

When it comes to medication, I took anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication, and I hated what they did to me. I was a drone. I slept all day, and I didn’t feel like myself. I still had meltdowns and relapses. In 2012, I quit cold turkey and have been using holistic treatments like oils and aromatherapy every since. I feel like myself, the meltdowns are a bit more frequent, but at least I’m coherent.

Writing and theater are my main escapes. When I write, I feel like I’m taking a break from myself, and focusing on the stories in my mind. I can be a heroine, a villain, or a bystander for a bit. I can explore other worlds and tell the stories of the characters in my mind. If I didn’t have those two things, I don’t know where I would be.

So, if you have a friend with anxiety, do them a favor: Take it easy on them. Celebrate the positives with them. Give them a note of encouragement. You might be the one thing in their day that gives them a break.