Guest Post for Money Saving Mom

Didn't realize it had been so long since I posted on here!  It's amazing how quickly time flies when you're having fun!  With the beginning of fall, life has gotten hectic!  My daughter started preschool, and I've been helping out in her classroom and enjoying scheduling play dates with her new classroom friends.  With working, gym time, and date nights with my boyfriend, it's a miracle when I get any down time!  April and I have been hitting up the pumpkin patch, working on her Halloween costume (this year she is Blue from Blue's Clues!) and enjoying all the fun things associated with this time of the year.  My grandma has been dealing with some health issues, so it's nice to have some things going on to keep my mind off the inevitable.

As many of you may know, a while back I wrote a series of eBooks about oDesk and how easy it is to get started.  This freelancing site is a great way to get started working from home doing what you love!  Even though I do contract for some SEO companies and individuals, I still pick up the occasional job on oDesk.

I was invited by Crystal at MoneySavingMom.com to write a guest post for her compilation of "31 Ways to Earn Extra Cash Before Christmas" series, and focus on the benefits of freelancing on oDesk.  I definitely felt honored to be able to do this for a site that has thousands of readers (and a quarter million followers on Facebook alone)!

So here it is, in all its glory: Sara's guest post! :)


Workin' It!

For those of you who don't know, I took up running almost several years ago.  In 2009, I made a New Year's Resolution to run a 10K in 2009, a half marathon in 2010, and a full marathon in 2011.  This is the longer New Year's Resolution I ever set for myself, and the only one I have ever actually completed, oddly enough.

After the Lincoln Marathon, I knew that wasn't my thing.  I will gladly continue to do the Omaha Half Marathon every year, but I don't think 26.2 miles is for me!  Now that I have accomplished my running goals, I'm trying to find ways to make it more, say, interesting.

This last weekend I participated in Trek up the Tower, which I had been trying to register for but kept missing registration or it filled up too quickly.  I got in this year, and ran up 40 flights of stairs.  870 steps.  633 feet high. This was at the First National Tower here in Omaha.  What a rush!  I was very well-prepared and had no problems whatsoever thanks to many hours on the stairmaster at the gym, plus my running and yoga routine.  I kicked butt.  However, it also kicked mine.  The air in the stairwell is horrid, so by the time you got to the top, your lungs were killing you.  Everyone at the top sounded like they were hacking up a lung.  The guy dry heaving in the trash can on the 40th floor was the icing on the cake...LOL

I tried getting in on the Lincoln Half Marathon this year, but I didn't have the money and it filled up too fast.  When I did get some extra money to sign up, it was sold out. :(  However, I will for sure be doing the Omaha Half Marathon, and am hoping to sign up for the Papillion 10K in May.

I was going to sign up for the half for Papillion, but some friends suckered me into doing the Warrior Dash.  I'm totally stoked!  I even got my niece and nephew to sign up, so we're all doing it together!  There's really no more training that I have to do for this, since I've got the endurance down.  The running part is fine, and I do a lot of ab and arm work in yoga class, but I have stepped up weights at the gym to help a little more with upper body strength, even though it's considerably better since a year ago.  That should do me for the upcoming Warrior Dash in Louisville.

Yesterday I finally got signed up for the Color Run in KC since registration finally opened.  It was supposed to start Feb 2, but it just sat there and nothing was going on.  Checked yesterday and it was open, AND the date had changed, but it still worked.  Got both myself, my daughter, my mom, and a friend signed up for that one.  It sold out already, so I'm glad I got in during the day or two the registration was open! LOL  Sheesh!

Not sure what else running holds for me.  Always wanted to do a mud run, and looks like the Warrior Dash will definitely fulfill that for me.  The Color Run looks super cool, and then in-between, the good ol' half marathons and 10ks will do the trick!  

Yoga SEO Article Content - For Sale

Some might call me a yoga nut.  I don't think I'm at the point of being called a "Yogi" by any means, but man, I could do yoga all day, every day if I had the time!  Heck, I even postponed Valentine's Day because I had my yoga class last night.  Sad.  Don't worry though, the BF and I are celebrating tonight. :)  Making him a homemade meal.  I give the gift of food.  And an hour or so in the kitchen. ;)

But I digress.  I love yoga, and have become fascinated with all that it can do for your mind, body, and soul.  It's amazing.  I started a year ago, and unless I'm near my death bed, I don't skip a single class.  It is "my" time.  I spend a lot of time at the gym--go pretty much every day.  But treadmill time is different from yoga.  Sure, my daughter is in the drop-in daycare while I run some miles on the treadmill, but I'm typically listening to music or watching a movie on my iPhone with Netflix streaming.  With yoga, it's one hour of complete concentration.  You're calm, you're relaxed, you're centered, and you're bending in ways you never thought possible.  The health benefits of yoga are tremendous.  I have seen it in myself.  I have lost considerable weight (even the clothes I wore before my daughter came along are too big now!) and I have some major muscle.  My yoga class focuses a lot on abs and arms, so I've got some serious guns here in the works! LOL  It has boosted my self-confidence, calmed my anxiety, and has given me a strange sense of peace that I never thought I could feel, especially when things that were stressful in my life were arising.  I've never felt more at peace with myself, my life, and my body.

I know, I know, it all sounds so cliche, but seriously, it has done wonders for me.  So in-between working on articles for clients, I have slowly started researching and writing on something I'm truly passionate about: yoga.  I write a variety of SEO articles for clients, but it's nice to switch gears and focus on something you're truly interested in, something you truly want to learn more about, and something that offers you knowledge and advice in the process.

I have been trying to get a jump start with Constant-Content.com, and have decided to focus on writing fitness articles for now.  The submission process is kind of lengthy, as is the editing process, but over time I hope to have a nice spread of yoga SEO articles for sale through the site.  It's a nice way to bide my time between client jobs, as lately, things have been really slow.  Gotta find a way to pay the bills somehow! :)

If you are interested in checking out the yoga SEO articles I have for sale, check out my profile on Constant-Content.com.  You can also request articles if you're looking for something specific, or something of a completely different nature.  You can find out how to contact me through my site at sarakhaley.com.  I am also in the process of creating a HUGE portfolio PDF in order to showcase all of my work that is around the internet, but that is taking a lot longer to do than I expected!  Once it's up, it will be downloadable from my site.

Well, as much as I'd like to say that I gotta pack up the gym bag and head for yoga, I honestly have to get started on dinner!  Making a glorious pot of potato and sausage soup, and am already drooling just thinking about it!  Have a wonderful day everyone!  I'll leave you with a hilarious video called "Shit Yogis Say" that totally had me rollin' when I saw it!

"Wanna see where I can put my leg?  You WANT to see where I can put my leg..." LMAO!


oDesk Success Story

A month or so ago, I was invited to interview with oDesk to talk to them about my experiences with oDesk for media nuggets.  Had a phone interview with an individual that works with oDesk's PR, and was able to share my story of success and words of wisdom.  Recently, I was featured as one of their success stories, offering up helpful information on how to get started with oDesk and make your mark.  I feel so honored to be highlighted in their newsletter!  Here is the clip published below:
Not gonna lie to you.  That's pretty awesome. :)  Between jobs on oDesk and some of my other clients, I have definitely been keeping busy between work and hanging out with my kiddo.  I love what I do--love that I can work from home and spend time with my daughter.  I'm not making millions by any means, but I'm doing what I love and love what I'm doing, and wouldn't trade it for the world!

Been living vicariously through my parents as well in their new endeavors.  With my dad being laid off from his job of 13 years (a year from retirement), they have been trying to find creative ways to bring in some money, as my mom has always been a homemaker.  The two of them have gotten into storage unit auctions, thanks to Storage Wars.  You should see these two--they crack me up!  I remember Mom texting me that they got a unit, and I went over the next day to see their treasures.  My mom was standing in the middle of the garage surrounded with goodies, hands on her hips, looking around and nodding her head.  She goes, "yup, I'm ready for another one."  LOL  Dad has fun posting all the little treasures on eBay and learning about the stuff, while my mom and her OCD take care of unpacking and organizing the goodies.  They make a good team.  Dad hasn't had much luck finding work, but I think--regardless--they may have found their niche. 

Have had such a fun summer this year, it's been a blast!  Been hanging out with April a lot, made a trip early summer to Arizona for two weeks to visit a friend.  Had to work while I was there, which was fine, since my friend had to still work her job as well and couldn't get the time off, but when she got off work, we did lots of fun things like hiking and visiting local landmarks.  I made a trip to Minnesota to celebrate my Grandma's surprise 80th birthday, and then have had a variety of friends come to visit in town over the last few months.  Other than dealing with putting my cat down last month, this summer has been by far one of the best summers I've had in a long time!  April is starting back up with her speech therapy, and is progressing by leaps and bounds--they are so impressed at how she is doing, and said the fact that I am home with her all day makes a huge difference.  Her teacher said they do not see this kind of progress with kids that are in daycares, so that says a lot about being a stay-at-home mom and the ability your child has to learn.

I'm on the home stretch of making my house a home.  It's been a year since I've moved in and I just got the final piece of furniture I needed for my apartment--a computer desk!!! Haha!  Was a little sick of camping out and working at the kitchen table.  Money has been tight so I have been having to scrimp and save in order to get the things I've been needing, but that makes it so much more rewarding when you finally reach your goal!  Have I mentioned how much I love my apartment complex?  I talked to the landlord about hooking me up with some paint so I could paint my apartment (was supposed to get khaki walls and white trim/doors when I moved in, but they had to get me in in a rush and they didn't have time to do it).  Instead of handing me some paint and paintbrushes, they actually scheduled painters to come in and do it all for me.  They scheduled two days of painting (one painter for walls, one for trim and doors) and I just used those two days to go out and have fun with April.  My apartment looks amazing, and I couldn't thank them enough for doing that for me.  I made sure to send down a gift card for them to enjoy some lunch on me, since I know it cost them several hundred to hire someone in to do that all for me.  I have a feeling I'll be living here for a long time! :)

Well, my break is over.  Was working on updating some things on my website, and since April is down for the night, it's time to tackle a few articles before I turn in for the evening.  Wish my arm didn't hurt--got my tetanus shot yesterday (thanks to an incident with a rusty truck) and I feel as if someone slugged my arm really hard.  Ugh.  Anywho, happy Wednesday, all! :)  I will leave you with a funny video of April showing off with her Dora guitar...and experiencing an epic fail. LOL


To my cat...

I got Kibbles shortly after I graduated and moved out on my own. Went with my friend Katie out to the pet store in Plattsmouth, and instantly fell in love with this rambunctious, cuddly gray tabby cat. He was gray and white, with a white stripe down his nose and a personality that you couldn't help but fall in love with. I ended up taking him home.

Kibbles was a playful kitten, and loved people. For being a cat, he was awfully socialized with friends and family and greeted you at the door like a dog. Whenever anyone came over and sat on my couch, he instantly hopped on their lap and made his presence known. He'd snuggle with anyone that was willing to sit and pet him for hours on end. You could cradle him like a baby in your arms and he would totally eat it up and stay there forever if you let him. I had numerous friends that fell in love with him and always threatened to smuggle him out of my house to take him home.

And that purr...it was one of the loudest purrs. You could hear him purring from a room away, no doubt about it. That purr and his instinct to cuddle got me through a lot of rough times. In the last ten years, that cat was definitely my "rock." Sadly, he was the only "man" in my life that I could ever really count on, regardless of what happened in any of my relationships. At the end of the day, he would be there to cuddle with me and purr and suddenly the world was a better place. I remember when I was pregnant with April, he took to my belly right away. He would lay across my stomach, even as I got ungodly huge, and would purr so loud, I bet April could hear him. After she was born, he would cuddle next to her, almost like her security blanket. That cat, when it was all said and done, was not just a cat to me. We had a bond that probably a lot of "non-pet lovers" just didn't get.

After thinking he had a simple UTI, I had started him on antibiotics per the vet's instructions last week. Instead of getting better, he got worse. I caught him peeing on my rug, but he wasn't peeing--he was crouched down in pain and dribbled out a few spots of pure blood. Something wasn't right, so I had to take him in for further blood work and tests.

While he was at the vet overnight, I kept thinking the worst. I knew that if the bill was any more than $600, I wouldn't be able to swing it. And that was spreading out and maxing out my three credit cards just to get that $600 together. Anything more and I knew I wouldn't be able to help him. I was hoping it was something simple and fixable.

It turns out it was fixable, but not simple. He was in the process of passing a bladder stone (which is why he was in pain), and had another huge one that was going to require surgery to remove. Doctor said he wasn't sure how he got the bladder stone, could have been a number of different reasons, but he couldn't guarantee that this would be the first and last issue. I asked him how much the surgery cost. On top of him being boarded at the vet and the tests that they had already completed, it was going to be about another $800. I couldn't say anything. The vet told me to think it over and call him back when I made a decision as to what I wanted to do. I hung up the phone and bawled my eyes out. I knew I was going to have to make a judgment call that I didn't want to have to make. I called the vet back, said I would be in to put Kibbles down. I called my mom to come get me and come with me, and we went down to see Kibbles one more time.

Kibbles was so happy to see me when they brought him into the room. This was the last time I would see those gorgeous green eyes, hear that amazingly loud purr, and snuggle with my ten-year-old lug of a cat. They already had him prepped for the euthanasia. I signed some papers, and they left me in the room with him for a little bit before they were coming back in. All I could do was cry and keep telling him I was so sorry. If I had all the money in the world, I could have fixed him, and maybe had him around for another five years or so. But the vet told me I was doing the right thing. He said cats this age typically don't have this problem just once after they've started. He said he has seen cats that have to come in about once a year to have bladder stones removed surgically. And with his arthritis, this was just the beginning of a lot of medical bills and vet visits for this cat. He had a good ten years behind him. He was happy, healthy, and loved, everything a pet should be. I couldn't be selfish and go into debt trying to prolong his life if it meant him not being happy, just to make myself happy and not have to deal with the heartache of missing him. This was inevitable. This was one of the hardest decisions in my life.

I got to hold him as they put him down. But I couldn't let a complete stranger hold him as they put him down, I couldn't do that to him. It might not have hurt him at all, but it hurt me. It was just like he went to sleep, but there was no loud purr, no snuggling, just dead weight and silence. I know I did the right thing, but it hurts. Time will pass and life will go on, I know that, but it sucks.

The last few days I see little reminders of him. The catnip on the counter that he loved, and that Kirby doesn't even react to. The can of wet cat food I got him as a treat, gone uneaten. I threw the medicine away that I was giving him. I cleaned up the spot on the rug with the spot cleaner. I keep walking into the living room thinking he's going to be stretched out on the rug sunbathing, but he's not there. I keep thinking of picking him up and bringing him into bed to cuddle with me at night, but he's not there. It's the little things that I miss. Just his presence in the apartment was reassuring and comforting.

Now I'm down to two: Dakota and Kirby. Kirby is a lot less social and cuddly than Kibbles was, but Dakota is picking up the slack by becoming overly needy. It's like she knows something's not right, like there's a void she needs to fill, and right now, that's comforting. Kirby walks around looking a little lost and confused, and keeps sniffing Kibble's favorite spots. I think they know. And for anyone who is sitting there thinking, "it's just a cat," you're wrong. For years, he was my "kid," my baby.

When you are at the pet store looking at a kitten or puppy, the last thing you think about is all their vet appointments, how to take care of them when they get sick, and the day that they will no longer be your companion. But it's so important to think of all the joy that they give you, and understand that that was exactly why they were in your life in the first place.

3/2001 - 7/8/2011