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Being a freelancer: pros and cons of freelance work

How easy it is to be a freelancer

Let us just say it is not easy at all. I certainly cannot talk about any freelance work, but only about that I have been doing for longer than 35 years. I am a medical writer and translator who takes on some interpreting, as well, if there is a good opportunity since I speak, write and understand 4 languages at a native level.  I have completed also numerous art projects either as commissions or individual design and decoration projects.

Competition and low pay

Nowadays, it is a very little money in this type of freelancing, I mean for what I do. The best years ended for me some time back in 2009, 2010.

The per-word rate between 2004 and 2018 has gone down a lot, hence such writing is paid by word count usually, unless, it is editing, and that is paid by hours. This rate went down from 0.18 US in approximately 2005 to 0.08 US at the moment. It should be straight the opposite, shouldn’t it? All prices and expenses have gone up, and my freelance earnings have decreased abnormally.

The problem is working globally. Every job is available for anybody, located anywhere, that includes countries with not that high living cost and countries with extremely high living cost, like Canada. My work requires huge knowledge and insight in medical matters, conduction of clinical trials, knowledge in chemistry, biology, physiology, anatomy, as well as lots and lots of understanding of human genetics, brain function, including cognitive function and any mental disorders, pharmaceutical mechanisms of action and all kinds of dosing rules, medical interaction of pharmaceutical ingredients and things that apply to clinical indications, such as contraindications and also exceptions when using medication off-label.

This is not something one can learn within one day or even a year. It took me about 5 years to get to the top of people who work in my respective languages, and it certainly was a very intense work. It can be physically difficult to type up to 100 pages of a very complex medical text intended for specialists in just some 4 days. Deadlines are tight, sometimes the job is urgent, meaning, I am expected to put off anything I am doing and to start typing right at that moment. That includes skipped meals, forgetting completely about any blog posts, TV or social media sites. It can be typing for 12 to 16 hours in a row. It can feel like a real slave work.

What are the advantages of being a freelancer?

I can work from home; I do not need even to get dressed to start working.

I eat at home; I do not sit in traffic delays.

I can work any time of the day or over the weekend if it happens to be the case.

I learn every single day of my life and I do extremely demanding mental work.

My memory works like a computer with so many new units added every day, it has to use and manage lots of information.

I am free to choose which project I take on and which I reject, I certainly can refuse to work for some company and collaborate with some other.

My end customers normally are billionaire medical companies.

Why the pay is so small for somebody who contributes so much in order they would be able to sell any of their stuff anywhere because of all kinds of regulatory provisions and regulations? Well, just like anything else, this type of work involves a middleman. These are agencies that get in contact directly with the end client because the end client is busy producing pharmaceuticals and conducting clinical trials. Agency grabs much of that what the end client is willing to pay. These prices got really lower once India and China got involved.  I’ve never worked with either Indian or Chinese agencies because among them are many pathological non-payers.

What are the difficulties of being a freelancer?

I cannot do any planning. I have absolutely no idea when a new work arrives and from which country it will come from. My most frequent clients come from Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Poland, Latvia and the USA. The least jobs I am getting from Canadian clients.

People who do high and very decent quality job can be at disadvantage.

It is not always that a particular project manager knows a lot about the project, and sometimes anything goes as long as they can mark the project done.

Competition is huge and insane. It is also frequently so that the job will go to a person who possibly provides with lower quality, but cheaper. Cheaper is the god of this century. And think: the billionaires-end clients.

Isolation

One sometimes does not get paid regardless of all precautions they have taken. I am very cautious, but still did not get paid twice: a genetic research company went out of business or so they made it to look and the second times was very dishonest client from Tennessee, USA who actually paid half, but then started to send really rude and nasty messages in style: how do you dare to ask for more and you should be happy you got paid for something.

Art projects and art commissions and medical writing and translations are activities that one does alone. I do not pick up even phone when I am in the middle of something complex, I do not interrupt my work for meals, I do not interrupt it for nothing quite frequently because timing and deadline can become a very stressful and demanding issue. It is work that is related to isolation. Focusing is extremely important, and that excludes any disturbing factors like social media or TV, or simple talk at times.

That is the reason I haven’t been able to post anything on my lifeschool blog for more than a month.

Being a freelancer

Prioritizing and managing time

Prioritizing and managing time is of utmost importance.

Freelancers do not enjoy any benefits like real employees do; there are no paid sick leaves, no benefits, and no additional pay for weekend or late night work.

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding workload: I can be overloaded today and have nothing to do and absolutely no income for next 3 months. Last year was pretty much the worse ever for me, even worse than the bad 2016. If one has lots of bad years in a row, they are pretty much broke financially. In my case, that matched the health issues and resulted in a personal disaster.

Multitasking

Freelancer does everything: from accepting the PO, researching the client’s ability to pay for services to providing oneself with tools and facilities. One has to be their own CEO, floor manager, hard tasks performing worker, advertising manager and public relations officer, as well as accountant and bookkeeper. This can mean multitasking at times, for sure because some of these activities are inevitable.

One has to pretty much become a workaholic. I personally never rest or take breaks just because I feel tired. I have to push myself to the limit very frequently and regardless of bad pain or feeling exhausted. Working is all I am doing. Has it resulted in a ny decent income? Not really while all middlemen are having million dollar apartments in NY or LA, Monaco and Paris, traveling the world and enjoying luxury.

Issues and concerns

Who is to blame? Nobody in person, but the system that enables a lot of advantage taking for sure. It is also freelancers themselves: some are so desperate for work that they will do anything for hardly any money. Well, 20 bucks can mean some money in some countries, but certainly not in Canada, and that is the aspect the unfair freelancer market system is exploiting: if you are desperate and poor, you will work for peanuts and praise us.

Freelance work is an option for people who are not living in their native country, have some disabilities or problems finding real work. I know there are freelancers who make mega bucks since they work in IT and all kind of marketing and advertising area. That is not what I have specialized in and I also love my work. I have achieved extremely high level doing it. The fact that it is not remunerated in a proper way is a global problem of advantage taking because realistically: one has to underpay somebody in order to boost their profits. The bad part is that actually the person who creates the result is the one that suffers.

I would advise anybody to rather be employed than do freelancing. Benefits of good employment and building up a real career outweigh to a big extent freelancing of the type I do, which is art, design and decoration and medical writing and translations.

Freelance work

Would I still do it if I had a secure income?

Most likely, not to extent I am engaged now. However, like other people go to exercise to the gym, I push my brain exercises to the limit every single day. I can remember and learn insane amounts of new information at a very short time. I have practically photographic visual memory. That makes me happy and keeps my brain very active, and that also allows me painting and drawing without any photos or pictures.

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Mysteries of cold weather, type I diabetes and insulin resistance

It is a mystery for me. The mainstream medical theories deny such a thing as the ambient weather impact on complex diseases such as type I diabetes and prescribe blood glucose fluctuations and insulin resistance to less exercise or more food intake. I actually can and want to argue with that. Whenever the outside temperature drops to minus 15 to minus 30, the insulin injections I take stop working. I keep insulin in a proper place, I double the dose, I drink excessive amounts of water, I take a walk whenever possible. No change. There is practically no change. I keep taking more insulin until the dose reaches scary amount and then it would slightly lower the blood glucose. That would be using three times the normal dose. This also means a lot of finger sticking and using a lot of test stripes, up to 15 times day, so that finger tips become very painful after a while.

As soon as the outside temperature returns to minus 5 to zero Celsius, I have no problem with my insulin. I return to a normal dose and everything returns to normal levels. That is my ongoing problem with the terribly low temperatures during Canadian winter. The biggest issue that comes with it is damage to the body, fatigue and an absolute lack of energy. Doctors say: you are doing something wrong. Well, I am not. I am doing all the same. The only variable in this equation is very low temperature outdoors.

Seasonal menu as a factor?

I have simplified my menu to the point that it does not take too much time for me to cook and it doesn’t play too hard into my blood glucose sensitivity. I am having oat porridge every morning whether it is summer, spring, winter or fall. I cook it while doing something else and eat it with some butter. It isn’t sweet. I am somebody who always prefers salty dishes to sweets or desserts. I was always that way. I do not have cravings for chocolate or ice cream; in fact, I have chocolate very rarely and in very small amounts. I simply do not like it too much. I can still remember the wonderful taste of the 100% real and chemically unimproved and unprocessed ice cream while I got it rarely in summer when I was a kid, some 50 years ago. This ice cream cannot compare to that one, so, I pretty much do not consume any.

I keep my lunches very simple: some eggs, some cheese, some cottage cheese (the Latvian type of it which is available as unprocessed blocks of half a pound), berries or vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, avocado and similar. I do consume lots of onions and garlic. I am adding garlic and onions to practically anything I cook. I love onions and garlic.

For dinners, I would mostly have potatoes (Latvian style, whether with skin or peeled and boiled in salted water with some garlic or as mashed potatoes) with simple salads and fish, meat or chicken. We rarely have rice or pasta. Very rarely. I always cook from scratch, practically every single meal, 3 times a day, every day of the year. I do that because I know that way what is on my plate and what it contains.

I personally cannot eat more than 3 times a day; I cannot eat snacks between my meals because I am simply not that hungry. If I would not have to take injection with my meals, I could easily survive on 2 meals a day. I still do sometimes, but skipping one meal and one injection isn’t that great, that affects the schedule and overall blood glucose level. I do not put food first, it usually comes after to whatever I have to do, and food is just something inevitable for me.

Food as fuel and 3 meals seem like a lot

I am trying to use only such foods that are practically not processed. That is the reason I am only using real butter (I always was) and 35% whipping cream because the sour cream isn’t a cream in Canada, it is something which has a lot of ingredients, a lot of added and free stuff, which means it is heavily modified. I am almost 60, and I haven’t ever been overweight. In fact, my weight and size haven’t changed since I was 21. I do not go to the gym (I simply cannot for the most time) and my exercise is physical work, work in the garden or walking. I frequently cannot walk at all, and there have been periods like after a surgery when I am totally unable to cross even the room.

I am listing this to simply show that my menu is pretty much the same throughout the year. I grow my own greens, herbs and vegetables, so, I would have these in summer and fall. I use herbs and greens a lot regardless of season because parsley, dill, green onions, water cress sprouts, rosemary, celery and basil are available now all year round.

Physical exercise and workload

My blood sugar does not comply with my good intentions. After having some very harsh and very cold winters in Canada, I came to conclusion that when the weather reaches some certain minus temperature, I get insulin resistance. I take walks or shovel snow when I can and, strangely, that does not affect the blood glucose. In summer, if I am not really cautious with physical loads, even walking to the store, my blood glucose is always low and frequently drops like a stone, so, I have to use pure sugar or glucose pills, a lot of them to bring the blood glucose level up to normal.

My workload is also mostly the same: typing at computer medical research works and translations, painting and giving art classes. That is the same regardless of season.

Medical and non-medical causes of insulin resistance

I have been researching this phenomenon a lot, but it was mostly attributed to drinking less water, exercising less (I don’t do it ever, not in summer, not in winter or in any other season) and eating more or eating comfort foods. As I mentioned before I do not eat more in winter. I never change my meal schedule when I am at my place, and it keeps my condition pretty stable. The only exception is a very cold weather. For this to happen, the temperature has to drop below minus 10 or so. We have had recently minus 24 to minus 27 for a few weeks and I have been in a lot of trouble.

I have found that there are more people complaining about this issue. The only advice they are given is: move more and eat less. In my case, the blood sugar level stays high even if I skip a meal and eat nothing. It stays high even if I go outside and do a lot of snow shoveling (our sidewalk is very long, it is a huge lot) or walking fast. When it is really bad I am trying to eat more proteins, especially eggs and drink a lot of water. That slightly helps; however, I would not say it helps significantly.

In a very hot weather, I sometimes have to eat lots of sweet things to keep the blood glucose level up and proceed extremely carefully with physical activity. If I have taken insulin at a normal dose, but I suddenly have to walk somewhere, the blood glucose drops heavily and I have terrible low blood sugar symptoms from which it is hard to recover.

Therefore, I tend to disagree with the fact that the ambient temperatures and weather conditions have no impact on us and on diseases such as type I diabetes. Well, type II diabetes is very different in many ways, so I am not talking about type II diabetes which is also most often not-insulin dependent while I live on 2 insulins: the basal and the fast acting.

Seasonal affective disorder

I am very sensitive to anything, however.  I feel a lot of pressure on joints which were fractured (that is a lot of joints: left shoulder, left hip, left ankle and right wrist plus vertebrae fracture) in rainy weather; my low blood pressure goes even lower when it is cloudy and foggy, I do experience lack of energy and fatigue with cold and hot weather: I would say I can relate a lot the seasonal affective disorder. Does that explain the insulin resistance in very low temperatures? It is hard to say because all scientific advice tends to make everybody the same: if 100 people eat too much and do not move at all one must be the same and that explains their high blood sugar levels. I do disagree with that also. There are many type I diabetics who are rather skinny, who have low and very low blood pressure like me, but there is definitely something within my body which causes my blood sugar and insulin metabolism and its release react the way they do. Maybe that is a slow-down of any metabolism? Maybe that is less active immune system altogether? Or over-active immune system? Maybe that is a leftover of a genetic phenomenon which most medical specialists absolutely disagree with?

Globalization of medical treatments

Well, we are all so different. Therefore, one treatment, one advice and the same drugs will never help a condition which has the same name, but occurs in different people with distinctive genetics and many variables in their personal and medical history, as well with different places of origin, race, gender and life style. The general medical approach misses that. We are evaluated by using clinically studied results and values which are STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. When somebody does not fit in any statistically significant category, their doctor will say: that cannot be. That’s exactly what they will say. Why? It cannot be because it cannot be. Don’t we know other things which cannot be, but they are?

With globalization of everything, treatments tend to become global, too: if this was working in 100K people, it must be working in you, as well. Is it? No, it frequently isn’t working.

I find that the individual aspect of any condition and disease is the one that is neglected and missed most often. It is so easy to go by the text-book. It takes a lot of courage and extraordinary thinking to get beyond that and start treating every patient as an individual which we are.

Therefore, I am very sure there are more people whose blood glucose levels ARE AFFECTED by the ambient weather and temperature. It could be a more sensitive immune system, their personal metabolism, metabolism of minerals, vitamins, salts and water, sensitivity of blood circulation and blood composition, as well as glandular activity, hormonal balance and genetic settings which play a role.

Individual differences in clinical conditions

The only different article which reviews the insulin resistance in extremely cold weather was this one: https://www.healthline.com/diabetesmine/diabetes-and-the-ice-age#3

Comments under this article showed that most people either did not read it carefully, or did not understand what this article was about. As I mentioned before, type II diabetes is very different from type I diabetes, and methods of treatment and ways of maintaining healthy glucose levels are different, too. Plus, etymology of type I diabetes should be taken into account also, but nobody ever does that. I find that most doctors will view a patient as one of many similar cases. It is very rare when individual specific issues are addressed because the excuse always is: it just cannot be! It sometimes is, even when the cause is unknown or unclear. If there is somebody type I diabetic reading this who has experienced something similar, I’d love to hear from you!

It is terribly cold still. The weather forecast promises milder week ahead, so, I’m very much looking forward to it. I cannot even keep sitting at computer because I am frozen stiff. If I do not respond right away it is because it is too cold to stay on the first floor.

The soothing Sunday thoughts: peace, love and joy

I hope we are all at peace with each other

Since we are still sharing the candlelight

And a hug, a kiss and I love you

Whether you have just one slice

Of bread and a glass of wine

Whether you are in a castle

And you would never know

How much suffering is out there

I hope we are all at peace with the world

The fighter, the lover and the loser

The dreamer, the angry and the doubtful

The smart, the holy and the simple

I hope we are all at peace with our heartaches

Since we can still send our love

To those who are desperate, hungry and forgotten

I hope you can see some snowflakes

Dancing down and falling from the sky

The promise, the hope and the wisdom

Of someone who we all know

I hope you can see how snowflakes

Cover the graves, the streets and the cities

So that we all could have peace and joy

Like white, untouched and pure snow

At least in our thoughts

And the soft warmth of this calming candlelight

For I hope we are all at peace with ourselves and others tonight

Merry Christmas! Peace, love and joy to every home and family! Happy holidays blogging friends!

Life

Life isn’t what we think about it

Life is all the things what it does to us.

We are never in the same place. Ever.

As we stroll through the sky which is actually alive

With the speed that is not approachable even in sleep, even in dream

We do not know what is going to happen the next minute.

How would we know about the next year?

This is an endless flight which might end abruptly at the destiny’s door.

Between grasps of air some face reminds you that there actually was something.

Long ago. Far away.

Was that you setting up the alarm which never went off?

And so, we are flying without the warning system.

Without suggestions. Without instructions.

This flight has no stops.

We literally circle the sky until somebody gets moody or tired.

That’s when the next flood or ice age starts.

It would be unfair to just circle in the sky without ever learning anything.

So, what’s the lesson my dear?

Life isn’t what we think about it

Life is all the things what it does to us.

life

After extremely tough weeks of all kinds of health concerns and issues, after some sleepless nights and a very disturbing feeling of hopelessness, I am returning with a summary of thoughts about things which did not want to leave me alone.

I would love you to also stop at the art website: https://inesepogagallery.com/2017/12/10/shop-heartwarming-unique-nature-art/

I started an initiative to raise some money, but it got interrupted by different matters, including the lack of internet when construction workers cut off our cable. I’m not thrilled knowing that the next year might start off on the wrong foot with some delayed treatment. I haven’t had any chance to really try or sell anything this year, so, hopefully, you can help spread the word. I do appreciate any purchase of any creation on the art website.

All the gold of the fall

The only fair, honest and true thing that we have left at our disposal is the nature. That is why I am turning to it.

The only place where the true and real justice manifests is also the nature. I highly respect the nature for that. For being natural.

The only true value can be still found in the nature: natural food, natural remedies, natural breathing space … Well, they are taking it away step by step, but it is still available so far.

Everything else is valued nowadays by what it seems and looks or by what it sells for.

It will vanish with natural disasters which we are causing by creating the sale value.

I cannot travel a lot, therefore, I have become more attentive and observant and I notice wonderful and incredible things happening or surprising me straight at my doorstep.

That is not that little.

All the gold of the fall. Almost like all the gold of the world. Right here.

I am sharing it with you since I am a generous person.

The best of the golden fall.

golden fall photos

Maple at my entrance

photos of golden fall trees

They are growing at the end of my yard

squirrel and fall leaves

Fall leaves photography, with squirrel

fall trees photography

Going with the wind, gold of maples

Photos of fall trees

Red gold of maple leaves

and

Photos of golden leaves

The golden energy of the fall

So much of it

golden trees at fall

Lots and lots of fall gold

…. and finally the distant view

Beauty of the fall to dive in

Enjoy!

A ghost from the past, a story based on real life experience, read after dark

He sat down on the steps of the stairs that did not lead to the second floor any more.

Silence and darkness felt so thick that it became difficult to breathe. Blind windows were looking out with their empty eyes, half-destroyed walls and heavily damaged floor. The stove was still where it used to be and it joined the big chimney which was connected to a large heating oven facing the other half of the half-ruined building.

It was easy to recall the wonderful times here. This place was booming with life just 3 decades ago. Such a short time, in fact.

He swiped from his eyelashes a spider net that had accidentally stuck to his hair and forehead. He felt taller than he could remember because his head had never been so close to the top of the door opening. Well, everything had as if shrunk in size. Or maybe his perception had gotten larger?

He could imagine hearing laughter from the former living room, and the memory of people dancing with soft dance music was very much alive. He could remember the delicious smell rising up from the cooking stove and spreading out like a tasty great treat promising cloud. He could remember fragrances of perfumes and polished people talking about nothing and everything.

They were never short of anything. That was a simple, but abundant life. They were diligently pursuing their shy and modest happiness. Life was easy and they were young. Everything was easy.

Then there was that terrible accident. Sudden, unexpected, interrupting and tragic. He blamed ambulance, doctors at the small hospital, lack of decent medications, lack of knowledge, his own stupidity and the entire planet. She had disappeared as if never being on the Earth.

He didn’t want to stay alone in the old house, so, it was wakening for quite a lot of years. Housing market was down, and nobody showed much interest in this place. The house just did not want to sell.

He left for another town, closer to his mother and he had pretty much forgotten about this old place until one day he received a call. The caller briefly described how somebody had set the place on fire and there were only outer walls left. Pretty much everything was burnt.

The same night he went to see the place. It was not that far after all, and some kind of decision had to be finally made.

It had started to get darker. Twilight was setting down and made the roofs and trees down the hill look like in a fog. Pale half-moon was visible above the big tree at the house gate. The gate amazingly looked as if nothing had happened. Ever.

He walked through the open door, and that was a really disastrous scene that opened to his eyes. He tried to set up the phone light, but the battery was getting really low, so, he decided just to have a quick look around. There was nothing much to do or see. That was all his beautiful past right here and it looked like ashes and debris. The light was fading swiftly and it was time to get going.

A bright moon beam showed up through the opening of the window that was in the former living room. The lowers steps of fallen down stairs were visible. He was aware there were no steps, but that certainly did not disturb her.

She was slowly stepping down, the very long light hair and the long foggy color dress was waving as if in the wind.

There was no wind. She came with her own breeze that seemed to be upholding her quite well.

He wanted to scream and take a deep breath, but his heart began beating so fast that he felt insanely dizzy all of a sudden. The dark burned out walls started to dance around him and the floor felt as if sinking under his feet. He realized that no sound had left his chest, so he started to grasp for air and tried to hold onto something to maintain his balance.

It didn’t seem something felt wrong to her. Majestically, as she always did, she came closer and closer one gracious step at a time. Sparklingly white in the dark room, the very long white hair dancing with some inaudible music. The dress appeared to be made of transparent airy fabric that lifted up every time she made another step.

She was incredibly beautiful, she was. That was the last thought he could remember when waking up at a hospital.

It appears he had gotten out on the street and then felt down because of abnormally fast heart rate. He had fainted because of a strong and sudden rise in blood pressure. People had found him unconscious and called the ambulance.

He came back to himself quite quickly. His mother was sitting next to his bed.

“Well, how are you feeling?” she asked.

His mouth was dry, and the answer came somewhat delayed: “Dizzy. Weak. Silly. I want to go home”

“Doctor said some tests were necessary, so they will be back with the results soon. Let’s just wait and I will call a cab and take you to my place.” Mother was so old, but she was very decisive and her voice was as strong as it used to be 30 years ago.

“Sure. What is this small stinky book over there on the night table? It smells like it has been burning or something. I’ve never seen this book before.” He had noticed the strangely looking book and the smell was somewhat very annoying.

“They brought it with you because when by-passers found you, you were holding this small book tightly in your hand.”

“I see” he only responded because it did not seem to have any importance at the moment.

He could not even remember later how this book got home with him.

The test results were satisfactory, but he was warned he could experience sudden episodes of fatigue for a while, so it was better not to leave the house alone. He promised to do so and they were free to leave the hospital.

He kept experiencing nightmares and bad scary dreams after this incident every night. He was at the brink of losing his mind when he woke up in the middle of the night in cold sweat and trembling. He had lost his sleep and started losing his weight rapidly.

He had seen numerous doctors since, and nobody could find a serious reason for his headache, nightmares, blood pressure swings and absurdly fast heart beats. This condition did not go away, although, it never bothered him during the day.

He got finally tired of spending so much time in doctors’ waiting rooms. He got the address of a spiritual healer, mind reader and a person who could understand ghosts.

After the women had carefully listened to what happened, burnt out a few candles from the holy place and used different manipulations and talked to someone invisible, she finally came up with the suggestion: “The cause of your troubles lies in the small book you received from the other world. You are not the person to keep this book because you do not understand what is says and you cannot read the ancient script either. The only way you can return to your normal is you take this book back where you got it from.”

He did not like the idea. He did not like even thinking about walking in the dark, burnt out place.

“I know you are not excited to return there, but you have to put yourself together and be brave and get this done. Prepare before you go. Ask somebody to wait outside. Whatever way you do it, you have to get this book back there. Unfortunately, you need to do this at night. I wish you strength, and remember: it is much better to move forward without carrying your past along,” she said putting out the candle lights with a special metal apparatus that looked like face of evil.

He had prepared. He did not want to bother any friends and he felt strong enough because he knew what to expect this time.

He had bought gasoline and poured it all around the corners and all across the place. He wanted to finish with this place for good. Get rid of it. Make it disappear. Forever. It had not given him anything good. She was the past. She was somewhere else. She was never to return to this place again.

So, he sat down on the steps of the stairs that did not lead to the second floor any more. He thought she might appear from above or somewhere behind him. It didn’t scare him this time.

Finally, it was dark enough and late enough. The pale half-moon was almost above the trees and weak light beam crossed the room from the window opening to the door in the distant wall. There she comes. The long white hair and the long airy dress waving in an invisible and inaudible breeze. Silence is thick and only his heart beat interrupts it. He glances one more last time at the white silhouette and ghostly creature and says loudly: I am leaving now and I advise you to go away, as well. Take back the book, here it is.”

The pale half-moon shines on the face that had eyes and life in it some 30 years ago. Dress and hair swirl around her. Her steps are majestic and she moves in a flying motion.

He places the book on the steps before she has gotten too close. Gets a lighter and throws it into the puddle of gasoline.

He is not weak. He gets out behind the gate just to see how the building flares up against the night sky.

He walks fast and a few shivery street lights show the way. He walks away. He is done with the past and it will not come after him ever again.

It is quite chilly and he walks rapidly towards the lights of the town, towards the future.

Flow of time: where does it take us?

I arrived to Canada in 2004. I did not know what to expect, but I was very impressed by greatness of many things, and everything felt to me huge. I mean everything. Latvia where I came from is a small country, and, therefore, the endless wide roads, the high-rise buildings, the downtown Toronto with its busy streets and, especially, the size of any province was so different from what I was used to.

Well, time flew absurdly fast then, and I got married in October 30th of the same year. It’s very amazing that it is my daughter’s birthday on this day, too, which I hadn’t even realized when we made all arrangements. We stayed in Niagara Falls in a newlywed suite which had number 3010 on the door. Something else, or what?

Well, we got married in The Small Wedding Chapel in Niagara Falls. My family was in Latvia, so, my fiancé decided not to invite his family also, just to be fair to each other. Very tactful, I’d say. Therefore we headed out to Niagara Falls the day before wedding. The weather was mild and sunny during the day, although, it was the end of October. These pictures were taken by the numerous by-passers who all kept congratulating us, so, it felt wonderful actually.

I cannot believe it’s been 13 years. The flow of time is very different from what it was back then. The best part is that my daughter is 38 today and we celebrate the 13th wedding anniversary. So much fun together (over the internet because she is in Latvia).

Everything worked out quite well. My husband has proved himself to be the best, most loving and most honest person ever and he is still the same excellent man who I met back then. He has had a lot of patience and understanding in the situations when my health really gave up. When we are saying “…in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part” at the wedding, we rarely can be aware of what is ahead in reality. It has not been all that smooth, but, thankfully, we are managing everything.

We got married in Niagara Falls

Signing …

Happy me, well, we tried to take each others pictures first, and then the by-passers helped

This is us 13 years ago

While we are still very young we believe that nothing really changes as we get older, except it is a larger number. We assume we will have the same ideas and the same attitude, and the same capability when executing different things. That is so wrong! I just now have started to understand how my parents felt at older age, and I am very lucky to have my daughter as my best friend because my top energy levels matched time of her being young and very energetic and passionate.

We are a lot smarter. Life teaches us if we are willing to pay attention and to learn the lesson. We find out that some ideas were simply silly and that the world isn’t there to please us and make miraculously our wishes come true without any effort. We have learnt that lots of things require fighting for them and that path can take a lot of turns, too. It’s never as if going from point A to point B. There are always obstacles and problems, and all kinds of disturbances.

The most important things for a family are love, trust and respect. Without any of this missing, marriage is going to have cracks. The most important thing for an individual is the mental and physical health. While I have a lot of brain power, excellent memory and very strong willpower, the physical side is somewhat suffering. Well, I hope the future is friendly and has some better things for me and us.

Being an older white, legal immigrant in Canada is not quite the same as being a refugee. Refugees are treated very well here and receive extreme support. I haven’t received ever any smallest or tiniest support whatsoever. My only support has come from my husband so far, and I am happy and grateful for that. Other than that, my expectations did not come true: I wasn’t met too friendly wherever I turned to in Canada, and I haven’t made too many friends locally, as well. Realistically, I was already 46 when I relocated to Canada; so, it’s not the same as when one is 16 or even 26. I have turned from a very social person (I worked at high schools and colleges in Latvia, it was work with and among people) to a very isolated person. My lack of health has contributed to that also, a lot actually, but still, I did not expect such ignorance from the local community and people. It has been as if approaching some unbreakable brick wall: there is very little interest about what I do and offer. I suppose one has way better chances if they have classmates, schoolmates, University time friends, childhood friends and obviously relatives in the country they work and live.

Well, I have only my husband.

Here it goes: to our 13 wonderful years together! I want to thank my husband and God for this great time and I certainly believe that the best times are still ahead of us.

P. S. I have to apologize to fellow bloggers for their kind and numerous comments and likes to previous posts, as well, as thank you to all who keep following my art site https://inesepogagallery.com/ I will approve everything and I will return all likes as soon as get a bit better and all my stuff is sorted out. That won’t be today because it is our wedding anniversary. Thanks to everybody!

Absence of shadows

We are shocked so frequently with extremely bad news.

We cannot be in a steady state of sorrow and grief.

I am focusing on the good things that surround me. These are mainly colors and the sunny backyard.

I used to cry for everything and I was crying a lot even reading books and watching movies. It seems I am in a place now where there are no long shadows.

It is much more peaceful since the entrance gate is locked. It’s not that I have built a wall around me, but I am carefully   selecting the things that get in.

When we allow strange forces and energies to take over, it can be very difficult to get back to oneself. Almost impossible since we are scattered all around like falling leaves.

I have to immerse myself in colors. The stunningly dark red and the blindingly bright yellow.

This is so refreshing.

I let my thoughts go.

I skip the sad pages and get back to colors.

It will be never so that everybody will smile and breathe easily. There is day and night. Light and darkness.

We are energy. We can be pure and clean energy and we can damage us allowing too many dark shadows cover up the light.

So, this is today.

I hope it is a good tomorrow.

I have no idea how the weather will be after that.

I am walking around live colors. I am inhaling them and they become a taste, too. What a relief! Meditation. Simply: I let the time disappear.

For it’s going to be a good tomorrow.

Beautiful picture gallery displaying fall nature, enjoy!

The red

 

The orange-red

The pink

The nicely pink

The yellow

The deeply red

Stop and smell the roses

Yes, stop and smell the roses and other flowers.

When was the last time you decided to do so?

Just yesterday? Today? Congratulations. It’s not true that you don’t have time for that. Believe or not, there is time enough for anything: even with long commute (which is most often our choice), even with small kids and no grandparents or nannies, even when studying or being a workaholic.

Having no time is a habit and lack of focus. Having no time for smelling flowers and recharging is a bad habit.

Are you saying: yah, right? I would like to repeat that it is a bad habit and it comes from chaotic and scattered attention management, or rather, attention non-management.

Being and feeling rushed with everything causes nervousness, unplanned actions and loss of time. We have to pretty much stick with our daily routine, and that means: if you can spend just 1 hour in front of TV, do not make it 4 hours at the expense of your sleep, or if it’s responding to an e-mail, we cannot make it scrolling through all Instagram or Facebook feeds and new posts. We have to stay on the path.

We don’t do that always, do we?

I am convinced that we are experiencing a chronic feeling of always lacking time. Realistically, we should have more time because there is so much help with housework, shopping and lots of other daily chores; there is automation and so many devices are replacing manual work.

Where does the time disappear?

It evaporates with unexpected, unplanned and also forgotten things. There are so many distractions with anything we just were about to start doing. Time over-consumption is also caused by unreliable and chaotic people who we have to be in touch with. Therefore, I am very convinced that it makes a lot of sense not to deal with people who never have time: either for you, for responding to you or for anything in their life; who cancel things because they never intended to do something in the first place, who are always late, who love talking too much or texting too much, or who do not even listen to what you are saying.

Having time for stopping and smelling roses eventually comes down to discipline. First of all: that is self-discipline. It’s not the case that we are always perfect and we never get lost in our good intentions. No human is 100% perfect, and life is never perfect. So, whether we have time for ourselves and whether we can make it for smelling flowers also requires some flexibility in executing our daily tasks, even small ones, and it requires so much more flexibility in tackling the big ones.

Late autumn, but everything in full bloom

Gentle, delicate, beautiful

When my daughter was just 8 months old, her father passed away. So, I was alone. I got German language teaching job at a countryside school because they provided with a free apartment. However, the free apartment had absolutely no conveniences. I needed wood for heating the stove on which I had to cook and also the heating oven in the other room. I had to take to a high second floor every bucket of water and afterwards I had to take it out. We didn’t have easy to use diapers or formulas these times yet, therefore, I had to manually wash everything since I did not have a laundry machine and I had to cook for daughter something she could consume, which was liquid porridge type of thing most often. There was no heating, so every time when I needed to warm up her food I had to get stove going.

My teaching job was full-time. That happened in the ancient soviet times, so, we didn’t have any nannies. There was no free spot in the kindergarten either if somebody would take such a small kid. I took my daughter to classroom which wasn’t far away, but just in another building. The school principal didn’t mind because they really needed a German language teacher. My daughter was either sitting or sleeping between students. She actually started to speak in full sentences extremely early and she also started to walk just at nine month.

My biggest problem was getting the wood: they showed me large logs which I was allowed to use, and before I could utilize them for heating, I had to split these large logs. I had seen my dad splitting wood, and it looked quite easy. I borrowed a huge axe and got to splitting. That was really tough, especially until I grasped how one tries to hit the right spot on the log. Next thing was to get that wood to the second floor storage. I decided to organize a help team from anybody who was around, and I was very lucky that some older teens and a few other teachers assisted in taking the wood to the second floor.

Salaries were miserably small, I mean, really small. I was doing sewing for people who wanted some outfit. After daily lessons I gave at school, I was sewing wedding dresses, suits, jackets, skirts, dresses, blouses, you name it. Some people offered produce and products instead of money. Well, I didn’t refuse.

I was in the fourth year at the University; I studied foreign languages at that time. Later at night I was preparing my test works, research works, etc. It was a lot of work for one person, however, I managed to read books, go to concerts or dancing to a local club whenever there was something on, too.

I have been thinking a lot: how did I manage to get this done? Practically on my own: full-time job, studying at University, small kid, home chores: wood, water, laundry, cleaning; sewing to make some additional money? People quite frequently don’t have to do even half of that and they are saying there is no time for anything.

The answer is extremely simple: I did not have a TV. Internet wasn’t invented yet. I didn’t have any phone. Nobody was dreaming about something we call smart phone now. I mean, there were practically zero distractions.

It’s impossible to avoid from all distractions with everything going on at once nowadays, however, there is a line which we can draw. We also learn how to say “No”. We sort out priorities and start with the most difficult mandatory tasks, then we move to easier things, and then we enjoy the time we have saved. It shouldn’t be at the expense of sleep, definitely not.

So, we are now free to go and smell and enjoy flowers.

Looking for wild things in the wild

Before I fly home, I definitely had to make some mushroom picking trips.

It’s something I miss a lot in Canada and which is plenty in Latvia.

It’s a land which has maintained its ecological integrity. Forests are quite wild and frequently not that much walked or travelled, although, large number of people would enjoy them, pick wild berries and mushrooms there. These natural forests are extra clean compared to highly developed countries.

It might sound like a walk in the park, but it actually isn’t. It’s not that easy to get over the fallen tree trunks and branches, bushes, thick young firs, aspens, birches and bushes. There is no path usually and one goes led by intuition or guess since wild mushrooms do not grow everywhere, but they are friendly neighbors of some particular tree and moss combination, as well as they like some grasses and dislike or never grow near others. King boletes love outskirts of the forest and can be also found near old roads. The orange-capped boletes grow rather in long grasses, but every forest is different and one has to figure out where they might be hiding.

It is a sporting activity that carries a lot of excitement, hence, finding a bunch of king boletes makes one happy and also proud.

The rainfalls and pretty warm weather this September definitely helped mushrooms grow fast and almost in every forest.

I regret I do not know such places in Ontario, but one should most likely drive for many hours in order to find a clean place where wild mushrooms love growing. It was just slightly out-of-town in Latvia, but we made lots of stops. Every ditch that separates road from the forest was full of water, and getting in the forest was a challenge.

I personally enjoy to a huge extent picking mushrooms, I like eating them, as well, but still: nothing compares to overcoming all obstacles and getting a full basket of nice and valuable mushrooms. King boletes belong to the most nutritious wild mushrooms and they are pride of everybody who takes a walk in the forest. It is believed they help conquering even cancer, not to mention that their protein content can exceed the amount of proteins in meat. Dried king boletes contain more protein than meat.

It is a wonderful food and can be prepared in very many ways: Latvians make mushroom sauces, soups of mushrooms; we dehydrate and dry them and use afterwards either as powder or spice; dried mushrooms can be added to broth, soup and any other dish. We pickle them and prepare delicious salads. Wild mushrooms can be prepared with salt for winter and then eaten any way one likes. They go into pies, and it is not only a snack, but a very delicious main course on many Latvian dinner tables.

Enjoy the pictures! Well, some picture-taking was very tricky since I had the basket on one arm, it was heavy, not less than 4 kg, I balanced myself on some small dry patch and here and there it was almost impossible to place the phone so that it would take a picture.

Golden chanterelle

The poisonous beauties: fly agarics or fly amanitas

The bright red poisonous mushrooms frequently signal that king boletes are not far

Small king bolete getting out of moss after rain

To get the close-up, I pushed moss down, a bit  larger king bolete

Orange cap aspen boletes, so lovely!

This family of orange cap aspen boletes was hiding in long grasses

Full basket of orange cap and king boletes

Absolutely delicious and extraordinary beautiful

They were so firm and so fresh

I took like 100 pictures, I couldn’t resist because I rarely have such an opportunity

I will catch up with my blog friends once I am back home. My trip will take some time and, unfortunately, there is large time zone difference, and that will require adjustment from my side.

 

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