Managing An On-Call Life

I went from working very predictable and typical hours, to a job that is widely on-call. Some of the work I do these days can be pre-planned and arranged (such as prenatal, postpartum and overnight support) however the bulk of what I do is attend births and those are hard to plan around.

People have the notion that their baby will be delivered on their due date, but the truth of the matter is that due dates are just rough estimates based on the last date of menstruation. No one can accurately predict the day that their baby will be born even if they know the exact date of conception and your baby certainly isn’t keeping track. Babies come when they’re ready. Luckily we have estimated due dates because they give us a ballpark idea of when to expect the baby but knowing exactly when is near impossible (outside of scheduling a cesarean). Even once labor has begun, it’s hard to predict how long it will last before your little one arrives. Throw in prodromal labor (contractions that can begin anytime at term and last for a few days to a week) and Braxton hicks (“false labor”), and you’ll start to see the value in going with the flow.

As a birth worker, this has been a difficult transition for me. There have been times when I’ve received word that a client believes labor has begun but she isn’t quite ready for me to join her yet. I have sat on the edge of my bed, frozen, like a statue. Afraid to start anything (like cooking or cleaning) and afraid to exert any energy for fear that when it’s time for me to join I’ll be exhausted, or asleep.

The last time this happened, I knew I had to develop a plan to help myself cope with being on call, and here it is…

  1. Live my life. If I was heading to the gym, or the store, or was about to start cooking dinner, then I will continue to do what I intended on doing. Being fully supportive to my clients doesn’t have to include putting my life on hold. When they’re ready for me I will put everything down, but in the meantime, I must go on as I normally would.
  2. Don’t be afraid of being tired. I know for a fact that when it is time for me to join my clients, my adrenaline kicks in and I am filled with energy and ready to work! I know that since I am a doula full-time now I don’t have to worry about being rested for any other jobs and after the birth, I can come back home to sleep and recharge as necessary. I also stock red bull in my fridge now. This has more of a placebo effect than anything else. Knowing that it’s there gives me peace of mind, even if I never drink it.
  3. Change my client’s ringtones. If I do fall asleep or find myself in noisy New York streets, a brash and startling ringtone will do the trick to make sure I never miss a call.
  4. Schedule the classes that I teach online to be lighter around my clients EDD (estimated due date). I have already come to terms with the idea that sometimes I might have to cancel classes in order to support my clients, and by scheduling fewer classes in the first place I reduce my chances of having to cancel at all. Luckily my teaching job is pretty flexible and I can make up classes on the weekends or any other time, really.

Handling an on-call life has been a challenge for me, but I’m happy that I took the time to figure out how to best support myself so that I can best support my clients.

Do you live an on-call life?

How do you cope with the unpredictability?

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When One Gig Isn’t Enough

When I quit my full-time job to freelance as a doula and blogger I knew that as any new career would have it, the growth of income would be slow and unsteady at first.

However, I am a planner and at times a true type A personality. There is no way I could tolerate a completely unpredictable income. Since last summer, when I first began to plan my transition from full-time employment to freelancing, I reached out to a friend of mine who I knew was teaching English online to students in China with a company called VIPKID. We met for drinks in November, where she outlined how the business worked and how she applied and got started. By the end of December, I began teaching and earning $10-$12 per 30-minute class. I love the flexibility of this job. I work as many hours as I want and all from the comfort of my home!

Although VIPKID income alone isn’t enough to be financially sustainable, it was a nice supplement to my income during the 6 months that I worked three jobs (as Case Manager, Doula, and online Teacher). The plan is for it to continue to be a supplement to my income now, as just a doula.

I wanted to write about this because I’ve been paying more attention to the fact that so many people seem to be unhappy with their work but feel stuck and limited by their options. There are ways to build a life for yourself that you love from top to bottom. It usually involves talking to and learning from other people, a bit of creativity and an open mind. I took my time and planned my escape from traditional employment because I didn’t want to wing it and possibly suffer financially and I recognize that my way is just one way to do it.

It is said that time is the most precious commodity we have. It is something that you can never get back, once it’s gone. True as that is, time is also all we have. Whether it is written in the stars that I will live for one more year or for one hundred more years, it is up to me to make the time I have, the best time of my life. We can spend our lives grumbling Monday through Friday, or we can work towards making every day worthy of weekend celebration! VIPKID is just one step in my path, and maybe one step in your path too. Click here for a referral code and please contact me if you have specific questions or would like more information. I am happy to share!

If you have other ideas for part-time gigs/online employment, comment below and potentially help a fellow reader in their journey!

 

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Resigning into Passion

All of the self-improvement and self-actualization that I’ve been actively working on for the past few years would be incomplete and almost insignificant if I didn’t change where and how I spent 40 hours of my life, each week.

Work was feeling like a jail sentence. Mid-way through the day, my mind would begin to wander. I would stare out the window and feel like the little mermaid “I wanna be where the people are.”

8 hours of my day was far too many.

5 days a week seemed unfair.

Commuting for 2-3 hours each day to arrive and want to be somewhere else just didn’t make any sense anymore.

*sigh, eye roll, teeth suck*


When I first began working in the field of developmental disabilities, it was because I was pregnant and I needed a job. Unfortunately, it never turned out to be more than just a paycheck for me.

I cared, I did well, I got promotions, and I now earn double my salary from when I first entered the field almost 11 years ago. I’ve worked alongside tons of great people, many of whom I call friends. I’ve had supervisors and co-workers who gave me the chance to shine and excel in my roles, and I did just that. I witnessed people in this field who were and are fulfilling their own passions and I witnessed far many more, drag themselves to work, to give mediocre effort because their hearts were somewhere else, often in a place that they knew nothing about yet. I usually fell somewhere in between.

Bureaucracy is a buzz kill. Arbitrary deadlines, meetings that should be emails, and paperwork all stood in my way from making an impactful difference, according to what that means to me.

Added responsibilities feel nice. Promotions feel nicer. Raises feel the nicest. But nothing beats passion. So after careful deliberation and planning, I have decided to resign from my position at ADAPT Community Network to pursue my passions of providing doula care, writing, and photography. I also leave the door open to discovering new talents and interests and I’m thrilled to finally have the time and energy to do so.

I’ve never before had the privilege to resign from a position and it was quite frightening to hand that letter to my supervisor… but after the feelings of terror left my body, I felt free!

I am free to spend my time in ways that ignite me and fuel me forward! I am finally working towards fulfilling my own mission statement, instead of someone else’s.

Freedom has its price. Being self-employed means the money that I pull in will be a direct result of my effort. That’s scary for someone who has only ever worked 9-5pm. This is a leap that I am not only willing to make but a leap that is required for my growth.

I have immeasurable memories of employment here. Some make me smile when thinking back and other memories remind me of why this resignation was inevitable and necessary. ADAPT Community Network (formally known as UCP of NYC) offered me invaluable experience that I will carry over as I continue to reinvent myself both professionally and personally and I am extremely grateful for every lesson I’ve received.

I am even more grateful for the opportunity to move on and out!

Farewell, ADAPT!

Hello Passion!

 

Dear Mr. West

Dear Mr. West,

May I call you Ye?

Hey Ye. I am a fan of yours and have been for over a decade. You are gifted beyond comprehension. You are an innovator and you have pushed the culture since you entered the scene. I consider you to be a major public advocate for black people due to your lyrical content and upbringing.

Earlier this week, you said some things and upset a lot of people. The first comment was about loving Trump. At first, I didn’t know why you would choose to align yourself with him but only when hearing more about your love for the world did I really begin to understand. You said you love every person that has ever lived. Well, that would certainly include Trump. As I move my consciousness into more aware states, I’ve stopped hating people; people who have hurt me and strangers alike. I feel the next step in my progression will be to move from “not hating” to “loving”. So, I get it, or at least I’m hopeful that I’ll get it soon.

The next so-called outrageous comment you made was about slavery being a choice. The public did not want to hear that but I agree. The same way that some slaves chose to escape and rebel, others chose to stay. I’m disappointed that you didn’t further explain your point because you are being crucified alive for stating a fact but I’m more disappointed in the public for not listening to the words you said. Many made assumptions about what they thought your comment meant, and many are wrong. I think most of the confusion comes from people ignoring the definition of the word choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.


What “Slavery Was a Choice” doesn’t mean:

Africans liked slavery

Slavery was an easy choice to make

Running away was easy and didn’t result in death

Africans wanted to participate in slavery

Africans were not mentally/physically manipulated into becoming and remaining enslaved

Colonizers are justified in enslaving Africans

 

What “Slavery Was a Choice” does mean:

When presented with the options of remaining enslaved or attempting to achieve freedom, many enslaved Africans chose to remain enslaved generation after generation.

 

Where is the lie?


 

If folks can acknowledge that some chose to escape and revolt (ie Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Toussaint Louverture, Charles Deslondes to name a few) then why is it such a struggle to understand that the vast majority chose not to? I am certain that people are committed to misunderstanding you. Are black people afraid of the notion of accepting any sort of responsibility in the discourse of our history?

You’re being labeled ignorant, mentally unstable, off your meds, insane, a coon and that you are suffering from Stockholm syndrome. The hashtag #mutekanye is scary to me. People are talking about boycotting your businesses, all because they don’t understand you and maybe they just aren’t ready to understand.

I would like to draw a comparison to a modern idea that may be easier for people to digest. A woman who is a victim of domestic violence has a very difficult decision to make. She can either remain in the relationship and continue to face abuse or she can attempt to leave and potentially face more abuse, financial instability, isolation, homelessness etc. It may not feel like a choice especially when you throw manipulation and lies into the mix and it is a terrifying decision to have to make. It’s like being caught between a rock and a hard place. The options aren’t ideal, but the options are there. Many women chose to stay in an abusive relationship out of fear. Their fear is legitimate and the consequences of their decisions are real.  Similarly, many Africans chose to stay enslaved out of fear. The notion of slavery being a choice doesn’t remove any responsibility from the whites who participated in slavery any more than it removes the responsibility from the abusive husband in the above example. Regardless of the choices made on the part of the victims, the abusive acts were heinous, disgusting and inexcusable.

I believe you were commenting on the choice of many to remain enslaved, not passing judgment on it.

I thought about whether I wanted to share my feelings on this subject. I thought about my new career and how I’m marketing and promoting myself. Do I want to be aligned with someone who is under such scrutiny? Do I want to be brave? Do I want to speak my truth? I saw and felt such a lack of support in your direction, and I had to say something. I am inspired by your bravery.

Thank you for your thought-provoking comments. Be strong for your storm has just begun.

 

 

Sincerely,

Laura Max, a fan, a supporter and an admirer

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