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Image by Michael Risenhoover via Flickr

One of the truths about being unemployed, or to put it more accurately and positively, “freelancing,” is that your schedule is eternally flexible.

A bad thing, that.

Chase came home for lunch today and after five full minutes of trying to reply to his simple request to take the car back to school, he kindly offered, “how about if I take the car since you’re not ready to make a decision yet today.” I imagined him thinking not a chance she’s leaving the apt. in the next two hours that would require a whole series of decisions!

I told him that was fine since I was not yet in my deciding place.

It’s not particularly attractive, but it’s true. If you’ve not had to ‘freelance’ for more than a couple of months, these things take you by surprise. It sounds romantic and free to be the master of one’s daily schedule. But it’s much more like freefalling than feeling free.

Schedules sometimes seem like prisons. We refer to them as ‘the same old grind.’ We slam the alarm clock or snooze it back to the dream we were having when it tries to impose its schedule upon us. We begin counting the days until Friday before we’ve even had lunch on Monday.

Unless we are freelancing. In which case our Mondays look pretty much like our Fridays. Our pattern becomes one of perpetually moving from focused productivity to seventeen games of Solitaire. Our laundry is always caught up because it is one thing we sort of have to keep doing if we hope to ever see the outside world again.  But without the complexity of a schedule that is imposed upon us, we opt for simplicity;  if not for cereal, we might starve.

We make lists, yes. We make phone calls. We revise our resumes. We apply for jobs and ponder possibilities. And we write. And write. And write.

I did say, after all, I was going to use this time to write a book. Little did I know I’d have so much time I’d have three finished and four more in the works before I returned to a civilized life of alarm clocks and staff meetings.

Last night I found myself obsessed with practicing how to use my new cheater glasses. I pondered, Do I see better with them perched very low on my nose, or just sort of low? How do I keep track of them since once I put them down I am half blind, and as additions to contacts I don’t need them for everything? Oh look…I can read the back of the cereal box again!

I am interviewing now for part-time calls at two churches. I am interviewing for a hospital chaplaincy residency which I dread and may desperately need. I am waiting to hear from publishers, and working on two more books.

It’s not a bad way to spend one’s days, freelancing.

But there is much to be said for structure. For routine and a pattern to one’s days. I miss it. I need a job, with hours and outcomes and a paycheck. That much I’ve decided.


  1. Well Marie, I have a job, and I still have no structure. Cereal…I should buy stock in “Post” or “Kellogg’s”….that’s what I eat now when I come home after a busy day at the church. I’m divorced. There are no children in my house any more. I am the epitome of an empty nester. Why cook?
    At first, I loved that there were no demands on my time when I wasn’t in my office or leading a rehearsal. Now….not so much. Oh, I love the idea of free time, but having that “oh, I’m needed” feeling was so much warmer.
    And there was more food in the house.


  2. Your honesty is stunning. That is what makes a good writer in my opinion. It is also what makes a good professional of any kind, and a good friend. Have you ever thought about being a motivational speaker?


    1. I’ve actually done that, LouAnne. And I like to think it’s part of what I do when I preach…maybe inspire more than motivate. Anyway, I’m up to speaking gigs whenever and wherever. I really enjoy it!


  3. Marie, I hear you’re up for some motivational speaking. That’s excellent! Can I schedule you for my next dark, cold, dreary morning when I can’t remember why I do what I do and Spider Solitaire is calling?
    Oh…I know, I know…”were not one-at-a-timin’ here. We’s mass communicatin!” : )
    Seriously though, I love your writing and this article is very relevant for me. I have worked out of my home for 20 years and have grappled endlessly with the freedom vs. structure dynamic. There are days when I reach the conclusion very early, that there will be nothing productive going on. Then there are the days when structure and organization meets motivation and Wow! I think for me, in the end it comes down to being grateful for the circumstances and flexibility to experience both.


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