Those who are doing Important Work

Those who are doing important work

Traditional corporate America is crumbling. Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2027 “freelance workers may represent 50% of the U.S. working population.”

Everybody knows at least someone who drives for Uber or Lyft, Doordash or Grubhub, rents out for Airbnb, repairs or charges scooters for Lime or Bird, picks up creative work on Fiverr, Freelancer, Thumbtack or Upwork, sells goods on Amazon (or delivers for them!), Ebay, or Etsy. Let’s not forget those individuals who make money off of Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you don’t know any of those people, I can introduce you to half of my Facebook.

But why? Why are Americans drawn to the freelancer/independent contractor lifestyle?

I recently chose to leave my job as a professional writer and boss lady in the corporate world.

Currently, I am directing a children’s show and supervising a garden center during the day. I am still a boss lady, but I have a new market for my skills–the local Kansas market. I left behind the global world of clients, many of whom English was their second or third language. Instead of sitting at a desk all day, I’ve been building a perimeter wall, unloading plants, and running a register. In the evenings I get to play games with kids, supervise the learning of songs and dances, and talk to parents about my vision for the paint colors of certain blocks to be used on stage. On the weekends I film weddings, movies and other events.

I fall into bed at night exhausted with a smile on my face.

You think I’m kidding? How could I possibly be happier working in the dirt and selling flowers to Kansans than writing business content for people all over the world and managing a team of writers?

Because I am my own boss and the only person who can make me feel stupid, discouraged and pointless is me.

There is a famous quote from Princess Diaries, but apparently it’s also a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt;

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The corporate world is full of people who will fight for their cup of tea at every intersection. Life in an office may be physically sedentary, but mentally and emotionally you ride into a battle every day.

Traditional corporate America is convinced that they are doing Important Work. This Important Work is far greater than blue collar work or retail or agriculture or whatever else. And because it is Important Work, office culture is a bloodbath every day.

I’m sure there are freelancers out there who will take your head off with a proverbial sword at any opportunity. But as a whole, the freelancing economy is growing because people realized that they didn’t have to deal with “join our fight against those inferior to us” behavior everyday, and chose to work for themselves in a positive manner instead.

Inferiority seems to be a theme with me lately. You can check out my previous post on The Way You Treat Your Inferiors. Someone pointed out to me that it sounded like I was implying that certain types of people are inferior to others.

So let me say this: No one is inferior to you and you are inferior to no one on earth.

But some people are less fortunate or extremely fortunate in comparison. For example, there are homeless people standing on street corners across from the offices of some of the wealthiest people in my city.

Those homeless people are no less valuable or important simply based off of their income or lack thereof. Those lawyers or marketing directors are no more valuable or important simply based on their income or social standing.

It doesn’t matter what job you do or how much money you make or even who hears/reads your words. Your and my value is not based on our accomplishments, not in the eyes of God. Our value is inherent, intrinsic, invaluable. Because our value is given by God, not by people.

People who believe they are more valuable than other people are not the kind of people you want to work with or for, because they will fight with you every single day.

At the moment, instead of going to war in an office, I am choosing to try to follow the great words of Ian Maclaren,

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

It is better to be kind, than to go to war against your fellow office worker, because everyone is fighting a battle against themselves already.

And me, like all my friends who joined the freelancer economy, needed a break from the bloodbath of those who believe they are doing Important Work.

 

About Jessie

Jessie is a writer, filmmaker, long boarder, sister, teacher, friend, daughter, laugher, aunt, Christ-follower, eater and occasional blogger with an eye on becoming an avid traveler. Check out some of Jessie’s latest film work here.

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The Way You Treat Your Inferiors

The Way you treat your inferiors

“It is the way one treats his inferiors more than the way he treats his equals which reveals one’s real character.”

—Rev. Charles Bayard Miliken, Methodist Episcopal, Chicago. (Quote Investigator)

“How do you get all these rich friends?” I asked.

“I used to be really rich!” my friend said. Which was true, back before the housing market tanked and with it the careers of individuals all over the United States.

“Oh I’ve got to tell you this one story,” he continued, smiling. “Back when I had tons of money and I retained these lawyers, I knew this really rich guy. And he paid the lawyers like millions because of his business. Well he required that they always have a bowl of peanuts at their office when he showed up. So the people would find out he was on his way and then pull out this bowl of peanuts from a desk drawer and put it out for him.”

I nodded and so did the other guy listening to the story.

“Well the rich guy would come in and grab a handful of peanuts and start cracking them open in his hands and eating them, tossing the shells,” he motioned over his shoulder. I raised my eyebrows.

“Just dropping them on the floor?” I asked.

He nodded. “So I asked him, ‘why do you do that?’ and he said, ‘because I can.'”

At this, the speaker burst into laughter. The other guy joined in. This was absolutely hilarious to both men.

I looked on in shock. Why would ruining a receptionist or janitor’s day be funny?

“I wouldn’t want to be friends with that guy,” I said.

Both men looked sideways at me and then ignored my comment, still laughing. I marveled at this for a moment, when it occurred to me – while neither of these individuals could currently be considered very wealthy, both of them grew up with money.

I, on the other hand, grew up with no money. My dad supported our family with $30,000-$35,000 a year, which was a bit more back then, but nothing to get excited about when you have 7 people to feed.

I know what it’s like to be a Target Sales Floor team member. I know what it’s like to make and sell pretzels. I know the pains of the barista and the librarian. I’ve watered plants and run a cash register. I worked my way through college and bore the majority of the weight of paying for it.

And now I was an executive at a small company, writing for a living, something I had only dreamed of as a child.

Because of careful budgeting, I have extra money that can be saved each month. I have the ability to travel. I have so many beautiful things that I, with the support of a superb family and hardworking parents, worked hard to achieve.

I am currently the richest I have ever been in my life, and I make less than the median income in the United States. Which is fine, btw, no complaints here.

If a high-paying client came into my company’s offices and threw peanut shells all over the floor, our hardworking receptionist would inevitably be tasked with cleaning them up. And my respect for the client would be in the toilet. Who cares how much money he pays us?

Because I know what it’s like to work hard and be treated like dirt by people who could.

And in that single moment, I realized that the two men talking to me didn’t know. They had no idea.

Dear people with money to spare, poor people don’t hate you simply because you are rich. We often hate you because of what you do with your riches.

Because the way you treat your inferiors has a lot to say about your character.

 

About Jessie

Jessie is a writer, filmmaker, long boarder, sister, teacher, friend, daughter, laugher, aunt, Christ-follower, eater and occasional blogger with an eye on becoming an avid traveler. Check out some of Jessie’s latest film work here.

 

10 Best Things in 2018 (Trying to be positive here)

2018 wasn’t exactly fun.

In my sister’s words – “it sucked.”

She’s not wrong.

But I’ve decided to adopt an attitude of thankfulness in life instead of giving in to my struggle with constant complaining. And even when life punches me in the face, then kicks me while I’m lying on the ground (why does it do that?), I’ve determined to find something beautiful or special to acknowledge. Even if it’s just being thankful for my stage fighting classes in high school that taught me how to fall better.

I really should take some more of those.

10 Best Things in 2018

  1. My brother and my cousin each added a little boy to their respective families (babies I can hold and then give back :).

  2. A lot of good movies came out, including, but not limited to – A Quiet Place, Black Panther, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Ant-Man and The Wasp.

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  • Music got to me, including my anthem Stronger by The Score.

  • I moved in with a roommate, and honestly, it was a great idea.

  • Some aggressively positive people helped me get over my anger and showered me with care while also challenging me to let go of the past and be better. We are not islands. We need other people to love on us and help us.

  • I went back to church and the community is helping to heal my soul.

  • My relationships with my sisters and their relationships became stronger and more authentic – these are the craziest, most loving, strongest folk I could ever ask to have in my life. received_405788886912149

  • I traveled with my awesome mom.
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  • I DP-ed for multiple films and produced a 48 Hour Film Project team. Only being the DP is my new favorite. I’ve always worn multiple hats on set, which is an Indie film normality. But it is much more fun, effective, and less stressful to do just ONE job.

  • I made it. I’m still here. It took a lot of other people’s help though.IMG_9876

 

There are plenty of other great things that didn’t make it to this list, such as sword fighting, going on a family vacation, filming my newest film project, hanging with my nieces and nephews, seeing a lot of family I haven’t seen in a long time, filming weddings, book-writing progress, having a screenplay featured in a live read, making massive health strides and so much more.

It’s okay to say it how it is sometimes, because sometimes life really does suck.

But after that acknowledgement, I’m going to focus on the good.

Then I might just punch life back.

That’s Really What It’s Like to Be A Boss

That's really what it's like to be a boss

I pressed my office door open and stepped out into the midst of cubicles. Writers and digital specialists stared intently at their screens, silence like a curse on the air. Each tap of the keys from a writer echoed across the big open area.

Right.

I continued forward in search of a hot water refill. One of the digital specialists twisted around in her chair. I halted.

“Yes?” I asked.

“I have some questions,” the specialist said.

“Ok.”

I grabbed an extra chair and wheeled it over. As I got settled, the specialist scrolled through her document and glanced at her hand-written notes. She pointed at a section and began to ask a series of questions, which I answered slowly and methodically and with probably too much explanation.

When I finished, I asked,

“Anything else? No? Ok.”

I stood, wheeled my chair back to its home and returned to my water mission, all with my trademark awkward smile. The specialist returned to her screen and her project, also smiling, a word of thanks thrown over her shoulder.

And it occurred to me: every day I go to work and I get to help people do better at their jobs. That is the main function of my job.

As I strode toward the kitchen and an immediate future without thirst, I marveled that life had brought me here to this unlikely position of power.

That’s really what it’s like to be a boss.

Since You’ve Been Gone

Since you’ve been gone, my dad died. He had cancer and it only took a few months for the best man I’ve ever known to waste away and go home.

And he made jokes almost every time I visited him.

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve watched Gilmore Girls constantly. I stop at the end of season 5, but that’s still 109 episodes that I’ve seen 6 times each.

Too much, I know.

Since you’ve been gone, I am not in daily pain. My sister forced me to change my health, and it changed my whole life. I am social now. I can eat now. I have bad days, but those days are just a part of my life, instead of the whole.

I might even join a rock climbing gym. Ha.

Since you’ve been gone, I started making films again.  I swear, I’m in a contest right now. I just wish PJ was still here to see my name on some credits again.

Since you’ve been gone, I still recycle. Thanks for teaching me that.

Since you’ve been gone, I have no idea what is true in politics or the environment or most various info stored in my brain. That’s the problem with lying about the important things, suddenly you saying the sky is blue is called into question.

Since you’ve been gone, I discovered some beautiful people. People who sacrificed time, money and space to love on me. You were wrong, real love does make sacrifices.

When you truly love someone, you are willing to make them laugh even as you are dying.

Since you’ve been gone, my dog ran away. Poor baby just wanted her mom back. I’m sorry PJ, she missed you too much.

Since you’ve been gone, I bought my dream car, caught it on fire, had it repaired, and am now buzzing around again like I always dreamed.

Since you’ve been gone, my bro and his wife had a baby. And his name is Zwingli. I’m not kidding.

Since you’ve been gone, a lot of friends left too. Sometimes people aren’t meant to stay.

That’s ok.

Since you’ve been gone, I lived on my own for a year and never once starved or missed a rent payment or died. Isn’t that cool? I sure think so, especially the starving part.

Since you’ve been gone, I discovered that I’m broken. That I mess up and I’m messed up. But that I am also valuable and loved.

Being messed up and messing up is ok. It’s normal.

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve spent so much more time with my family. They’re really fun people. They make me laugh. They build me up.

And even though I do most of the time, they don’t consider me a great disappointment.

In fact, my daily life has gotten exponentially better since you’ve been gone.

So you were right about one thing.

Sometimes Pain is Not Your Fault, It’s Just Pain

Pain is not socially acceptable. Pain is a downer. Pain is a great conversation killer.

Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or spiritual pain, American culture doesn’t like to directly chat about it. Outside of music, pain is best kept inside, as ghostly as petrichor, smelled but not seen, felt but not heard.

“This is my new song,” my little sister texted to me a few years ago.

I clicked on the link and let Imagine Dragons croon the deepest words of my soul…

First things first
I’ma say all the words inside my head
I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been, oh ooh
The way that things have been, oh ooh
Second thing second
Don’t you tell me what you think that I can be
I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea, oh ooh
The master of my sea, oh ooh

I was broken from a young age
Taking my sulking to the masses
Write down my poems for the few
That looked at me, took to me, shook to me, feeling me
Singing from heartache from the pain
Taking my message from the veins
Speaking my lesson from the brain
Seeing the beauty through the

You made me a, you made me a believer, believer
(Pain, pain)
You break me down, you build me up, believer, believer
(Pain)
Oh let the bullets fly, oh let them rain
My life, my love, my drive, it came from
(Pain)
You made me a, you made me a believer, believer

We were both in the midst of crisis. We were both in a massive amount of physical pain due to health issues. I was in a very bad place in every way — physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.

My pain was too much, so I said nothing. It was my own fault. I had made choices. My choices led to my pain (the non-physical pain, anyway). I felt bad, so bad.

And it was all my fault.

“How are you doing?” my cousin would ask.

“I’m alright,” I would say.

What else could I say? I cry every day? I want to jump off of a building? I feel trapped and sad all the time? I’m confused and alone and scared? The person I am supposed to trust the most is a liar and a cheater and he can’t stand me and nothing I do is ever good enough and I should’ve known better?

I should’ve known better.

No.

Stop right there, kid. Stop right there.

My dad’s voice comes to me in that moment. He is wounded and so sad when I hear him in my head.

“It is not your fault.”

He never said that, actually. But if he were reading this, as he read everything else I ever blogged, he would’ve commented as much.

Sometimes pain is not your fault, it’s just pain.

And hiding that pain from everyone around you may cost you your life. And your bestfriend will lose her bestfriend. And your dad will lose one of his baby girls. And your cousin will lose her cousin.

It’s ok to be in pain and tell people about it. It does not make you weak or pathetic. How do you think Taylor Swift makes so much money? Why is it acceptable for her to be vulnerable on stage in front of thousands, but not cool for me to cry in the grocery store? Why is Imagine Dragons epic for talking about pain, but we feel stupid talking about pain with our closest friends?

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this. Maybe everyone else is on another page and they already know that crap happens and sometimes bystanders pay the price.

Hurt people hurt people.

It is my goal in life to leave the hurt behind me and show kindness and long suffering to everyone I meet instead of perpetuating the cycle that I was yanked into.

I will fail, but I have a Friend who took care of that.

Just My Size

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Sunlight. Shattering on the grassy gravel and stabbing me in the face. Summer shimmered around me, and my 6-year-old self was ready for a caper.

I slowly walked into the detached garage, dodging tools, junk and detritus. My dad had left the door open and happened to be occupied elsewhere. The lure of the garage called to me, since I was not typically allowed to enter the musty cave of random things.

I eyed the workbenches and spider webs. Noise. Was that Dad’s footsteps? No, just in my head. I returned my attention to the tools lying out on the shelves.

There! A pocket knife.

I took it off of the shelf slowly, as if it might leap at me. I held the knife gingerly, reverently. This was the thing that could help me whittle like Grampa.

I wove my way out of the garage, the knife still closed and clutched in my hand.

Need to find a stick. Gotta find the best stick. Where’s a good stick?

Aha!

I grabbed one off of the ground under a tree. Now to open the knife…

Still holding the stick, I grasped the blade right at that little groove that’s supposed to help you open pocket knives. I pulled, hard. Nothing. Come on, knife!

It swung back, just a medium-sized blade in my tiny hands. I grinned. I held out my stick and got to work.

“What are you doing?” Dad’s voice broke through my thoughts.

I looked up at him in excitement.

“Look!” I said, waving my newly whittled stick. “Isn’t it cool?”

Dad inspected my stick for a brief moment. He knelt in front of me.

“What’s this?” he asked, pointing at the blood running down my left pointer finger.

“Knife bit me,” I said.

“Hmmm. Maybe we need to get you a knife more your size. This one,” he took the knife out of my hand and closed it. “is too big for you. Ok?”

I nodded, drooping my head in shame. Dad slipped the knife into his pocket, took my stick and wrapped his large hand around my good hand.

“Let’s go get a band-aid.”

We walked across the lawn into the house.

“This is cool. Grampa showed you how to do this?” Dad said as we walked.

A few days later Dad presented me with a little pocket knife, one exactly fitted to my tiny hands. And for the next 20 some years he gave me a new pocket knife at least once a year, each one different and exciting in it’s own way.

The last two knives that Dad gave me are a set. They have little sheathes and are perfect for sitting on top of my bookshelf to let people know what I’m made of.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

I promise I haven’t cut myself lately.

Thanks for all the knives that are just my size. I miss you so much.

13 Hours of Wedding

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Me, filming for 13 hours

Filmed a wedding for 13 hours yesterday. I brought a jacket for what turned out to be coat weather and inevitably they shot a lot of pictures outside, which means that I filmed those pictures. In the freakishly cold wind. With the freakishly positive and Eskimo-blooded photographer who claimed to never be cold.

Well my fingers were so stiff that it hurt to press record.

But it was okay. Weddings are a great place for bitterly-optimistic people like me. Seriously. Everyone is so happy and stressed and wearing too much makeup and fake eyelashes.

Last year, when I started this side gig, I stood with my camera during the ceremony and made fun of the vows. I did, I admit it. I mocked the idiots standing up there who believed in love and easy marriages and bliss.

“Who are they kidding? Marriage is a joke. Ya’ll have no idea what real love is like. He’s just going to run off with someone else when he gets bored. Who believes in this stuff? Why did you spend so much on makeup for something that isn’t going to last?”

I get that that line of thinking is funny to some people. To other people it might sound like logical reasoning. To still other people it is offensive.

But let’s take a moment to think about these weddings with their extravagant ceremonies and 13-hour day filled with drinking and perfect hair, matching suits, pictures in the freezing cold, tiny children who stay up too late, and crazy families that can’t seem to get organized for 20 minutes of standing still and smiling.

These people planned an event probably a year in advance and invited everyone they love to be part of it. They got their closest friends and family to dress up in matching outfits and pay for their own hair and makeup so they can walk in and stand in front of a crowd. They chose a location, cake, colors, flowers, music, an officiant and an expensive photographer and videographer to record the entire shindig.

Then they stood up in front of all the people that matter in their lives and made a vow to one person in particular. A vow. To be committed in friendship and partnership with that singular person for the rest of their life.

Now you can call that crazy. You can make fun of it or be pessimistic about the outcome of the vow. You can even make fun of the likelihood of this vow remaining unbroken (the divorce rates are high in the US).

But to make fun of these people for wanting to show off their love and commitment…that’s just pathetic. Who am I to prognosticate failure or pronounce judgment? Who am I to complain about the unearthly cold just for pretty pictures? Who am I to laugh at the pomp and circumstance, the flair, the cost, the insane attachment to dress colors?

Those two people love each other, want that love to last, and invited their people to be part of that love.

May God grace them with that blessing.

And may I just hold my camera, relax and enjoy the day. There’s free food, dancing and even artistry at times. Oh, and then I get paid.

Bring on the 13 hours of wedding.

 

My Dad Loved Movies

My Dad passed away early in the morning last Monday. The following is what I read at my dad’s memorial service this past week.

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My dad loved movies. He loved movies before I ever loved movies. The main reason my siblings and I quote movies all the time is because of him.

There is a quote from the movie Inception that goes like this,

“I wish. I wish more than anything. But I can’t imagine you with all of your complexity, all your perfection, all your imperfection. Look at you. You are just a shade of my real wife. You’re the best I can do; but I’m sorry, you are just not good enough.”

I couldn’t think of anything that would fully encapsulate my dad, so I’m just going to share some highlights.

I was in an antique store a number of years ago and I found a set of tiny dolls from Mexico. They looked like a variation of Worry Dolls except they were all different. So I told my mom, “I’m going to buy these and hide them around the house and let dad find them.”

We got the dolls and went home and I proceeded to hide these things all over the house – in his medicine cabinet, in his office, by his bed, on the counter, everywhere. Then we waited for dad to get home. When he got home we said hi and let him do his normal thing. As he walked around he house he would pause.

Finally, I heard a shout from the bathroom – “there little people everywhere?!”

And we all laughed, dad included.

Around that same time dad found a Halloween hand at a garage sale. It was one of those rubber things that’s slightly hideous and creepy. So I took that hand and I stuck it in his medicine cabinet.

“What is this?” he said.

But he got his revenge. He hid it in MY bathroom later. And so the war began – me hiding the hand in his truck or his office or his drawers and him responding in kind. He was far better at coming up with hiding spots – sometimes it took weeks for me to find the hand.

He knew how to laugh.

He watched every single one of my films. He wasn’t always positive about them. He told me his likes and dislikes. He told me his true opinions. I trusted that his reactions were real, and when he said he loved a film or that it made him laugh I knew it was true.

My parents often helped with my movie making chaos. They offered their house, food, errands, feedback and even themselves when they fit the role. In 2013 I produced and directed my first 48 hour film – which is a competition that requires you to complete a new film in 48 hours. My parents both delivered several items and offered their house for editors to sleep at. At the end of the filming first day, both my parents told me, “I am so proud of you.”

It didn’t matter that the film wasn’t finished being edited, it didn’t matter that we went on to win absolutely no awards, it didn’t matter that the film was pretty nonsensical – they were proud. I looked back at some of my blog posts over the past year and you can still find my dad’s comments saying, “I am so proud of you.”

Dad, I never thought I did anything worth you saying that, but you did so many things that made me proud. You were a paramedic who was kind to people, even when they hit you. You were infinitely patient with your grand children even when they were being nuts. You went back to school twice. You stayed faithful and kind and loving toward my mom. I knew if I needed anything that you would come as soon as I called, and you often did.

Dad I’m so proud of you.

I was going to tell y’all the story about how my dad and I discovered Steve Irwin, but my brother said we only had 45 minutes up here. I will say that dad loved finding things to watch with us, and I think that we both enjoyed watching it together more than the actual show. I can’t imagine that he was a super fan of Veronica Mars, but boy did we get excited about that movie.

I don’t know how many hobbies or likes he acquired because of wanting to hang with us, but I know that I love movies because of him. All the midnight showings, repeated viewings, quote sessions – if I say something that sounds weird it’s probably a movie quote and it’s all his fault.

I haven’t seen Black Panther yet, but when I do, I’ll be thinking about how I would tell him all about it.

So here’s my last thing. Last spring was really harsh for me. I was talking to my dad about traveling, and we decided that in 2018 we were going to Vietnam. He really wanted to go there for many years. So a few weeks later he gave me a tiny package. He said, “this is for the trip.”

You know what it was? A tiny scorpion earring. Just one.

I don’t think that there are even scorpions in Vietnam.

But it was absolutely the coolest earring I’ve ever been given. Because it was from my dad.

My Year the Music Died

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Someone once said to me that “silence is the acoustic form of darkness.”

There’s been a lot of darkness lately.

There was no funeral for my husband. No one got a chance to come up to me and say nice things, to take turns giving me hugs and saying how sorry they were that he was gone forever and that I would never see him again. I didn’t get to speak about his good points to all of my friends and family. I didn’t get to post on Facebook about my loss.

Public loss is only acceptable in death.

Abuse doesn’t negate love and affection.

2017 was my year the music died. I lost a lot of people. A lot of good people. Silence is all I have from them now.

But in silence and darkness we have the opportunity to create music and light.

Many years ago I was rescued out of darkness into light. I was given a new life. Hope in Christ is not a false hope. After a year in silence, real hope is the only thing that keeps you going.

So for this year, 2018, I have made a resolution to give hope to someone else. Life is not about me.

This year I’m gonna get set up to foster in 2019. I’m going to take classes. I’m going to move into an appropriate space. I’m going to get prepared to be a mom.

My year the music died will not be the death of hope.