The Writing Dad

Fun Day at the Tacoma Children’s Museum

Jocelyn enjoying the waterworks.
Jocelyn enjoying the waterworks.

It was free admission at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma today, so Jocelyn and I got out and had fun.

We started our morning, of course, at Starbucks–sharing a breakfast sandwich and bagel with cream cheese. Then, it was off to the museum!

Jocelyn really enjoyed playing at the waterworks. In the water troughs were large plastic lifelike animals. One of Jocelyn’s favorites was the blow fish! She carried it around everywhere.

It was nice getting out and giving Jocelyn the opportunity to play. It also was nice for me, for a change, to do something different and put a little more variety in my day.

As a freelance writer, sometimes it’s hard to turn off my work mode and make it a priority to set aside time for breaks. Thankfully, Jocelyn reminds me daily of how important it is to get out, play and have fun!

Writing that next story can wait.

 

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Celebrating 2 years of being stay-at-home dad/freelance writer

Daddy and Jocelyn
Jocelyn and Daddy, Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

 

Today, I interviewed a local community college president for an upcoming feature who told me how lucky I am to be able to work from home and be with my 2-year-old daughter at the same time.

I agree! I am beyond grateful that I’ve been put in this fortunate position where I can watch my daughter grow and witness all her BIG moments, while still finding success as a freelance writer!

Two years ago I decided to let go of my full-time newspaper reporter status and try something new as a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer. The birth of my daughter gave me a reason to reassess where I was at in my career, was I happy, was I accomplishing what I wanted, was I being true to myself.

Some people were worried I wouldn’t be able to pull it off, that I wouldn’t make enough money to survive. Fortunately, I had the support of my wife, and still have her support. And my daughter continues to be a strong inspiration and motivator to pursue bigger, more challenging projects and to push myself to greater heights.

And now I’m grateful to be an inspiration to others. Already I’ve fielded questions from several people who long to break out of the 9-5 grind.

My advice to you is if you’re wanting go freelance, then don’t let anyone stop you. Be persistent and network, network, network. The work will come, if you work hard to procure it. And the payoff will be huge.

Good luck!

Excited to join 425 Business magazine as contributing writer!

425 Business-August Pro Bono article

When 2016 started, I had a good feeling my freelance writing career was poised to take off. But I had no inkling I would become a regular contributor to one of the Puget Sound region’s most reputable publications: 425 Business magazine, published by Premier Media Group.

In the August print edition, my debut article, “Pro Bono,” was published. I gathered business advice from a handful of local lawyers in the East King county region and presented it in a Q&A format. The presentation of the article was beautiful and blew away my expectations.

In addition to this article, my contributor bio and photo was featured in the magazine’s “Under Cover” section, for which I was also very pleased! Credit goes to my good friend Matt Wheeler for the photo he took of me!

I’m eagerly awaiting publication of my second article in 425 Business, which will appear in the September edition. This article will cover the private aviation industry in the East King county region.

Looking forward to my continued contributions in 425 Business magazine and working with the publication’s superb Editor in Chief Jeff Burlingame!

http://425business.com/pro-bono/

Cheers!

My kid loves, loves, loves oatmeal!

oatmeal Jocelyn oatmeal

One of the things I most enjoy with my daughter, Jocelyn, is feeding her a wholesome breakfast. Recently, I tried oatmeal, and she absolutely loves it! This is fantastic!

I cook up one serving of oatmeal. I add a little brown sugar and raisins to sweeten. Jocelyn and I share the bowl (she passes on the raisins). There is just enough for both of us to feel satisfied.

As the label reads, oatmeal can help reduce cholesterol and is part of a heart-healthy diet. It’s low in fat, sodium and cholesterol, and high in protein and fiber per serving.

It warms my heart to know I’m feeding Jocelyn something nourishing. And the fact that she loves it, too, is even better! It sets both of us up for a successful, productive day ahead.

Is the Zombie Apocalypse real?

zombies-02

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!

The Captain Meriwether chapter of the Association of the United States Army is making plans for its third annual 5K Zombie Apocalypse Run on June 4–an event that aims to enlist new members to the local chapter and its sub-chapters in the South Puget Sound.

Recently I was given the opportunity to write a story that will preview the event in the Thursday, May 26 print edition of The Ranger (read by the military community at Joint Base Lewis-McChord)

Doing this story opened me up to an underground of believers who genuinely think the Zombie Apocalypse will soon be upon us.

It’s very possible that the hugely popular The Walking Dead series on AMC, along with a gamut of other zombie-related films and television shows, has brought on this fervent belief.

Search “Zombie Apocalypse” or “Is the Zombie Apocalypse real?” on Google, and you will find an endless stream of commentary on the subject.

There are studies on the Web claiming what states will be most affected by the Apocalypse, and which ones will be left unscathed.

But one of my favorites is the Centers for Disease Control’s playful tongue-in-cheek attempt to jump on the band wagon: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse, where the organization explains that an emergency kit that you would use for a more traditional pandemic or epidemic, could also be applied to a Zombie Apocalypse (something they explicitly explain is not real)

In my opinion, if the Centers for Disease Control has a blog post on how to prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse, albeit even if they denounce the possibility, I’m sure there are a handful of people out there carefully taking notes and believing the CDC’s spoof as fact.

Now, that is scary!

 

Co-Op Preschools are wonderful

co-op preschool

Our daughter will be 2 in July–a huge milestone for our little one. As she inches closer to 2 it’s become increasingly clear that she needs more interaction with kids her age and more opportunity to get out and play and enjoy new experiences.

We decided a great option would be co-op preschool. This model encourages a lot of parent involvement. Entry into the program is at a much lower cost than more traditional preschools, which my wife and I really appreciated.

Surprisingly, there are many co-op preschools to choose from within the city of Tacoma. We narrowed our choices down to three. We fell in love with the third one we visited. Our daughter will start in September.

This, of course, offers me a lot more flexibility to complete my freelance writing projects. Our daughter will be in class a total of 4 hours per week. Some of that time, I will volunteer in the classroom. But for the most part, I will be able to use that time to complete interviews and writing. My wife and I will share in the responsibilities of bringing our daughter to and from school and in the various school activities throughout the year.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to start this new journey with our daughter! If you’re on the fence about co-op preschool for your child, we highly recommend it!

As a military news reporter, I’ve learned fine art of perseverance

C-17 landing
A C-17 landing

Since writing for The Ranger and the Northwest Airlifter (two local newspapers covering military news associated with Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state) starting last May, I’ve learned a lot about what our brave men and women do on a daily basis.

Prior to writing for the Northwest Military publications, I’ve had very little exposure to the inner-workings and the litany of acronyms associated with the Armed Forces, outside of reading the comic books series: G.I. Joe A Real American Hero.

So the learning curve has been steep for me. Coming from a non-military background, my access to the base is limited and also my finesse at cracking the code of public affairs officers has some room for improvement.

Recently, I reported on a story about the proposed plan to refurbish the existing runway at the Yakima Training Center in eastern Washington that would accommodate resuming landing and training exercises for the C-17 cargo plane.

It took all my might and all my perseverance to finally connect with the PAOs and get something adequate enough to fill a story.

My efforts produced a short, 250-word piece. Not quite the 600 words my editor originally assigned me, but he revised his original estimate and told me to get him as much as I can on the topic.

More often than not, writing a military piece can feel at times like “Mission Impossible.” But when I finally connect with the right sources, get solid information, and complete my story and to my editor on deadline, the payoff is very rewarding.

 

Tasting wheatgrass is a first for me

wheatgrass
A shot of wheatgrass does the body good.

Probably one of the best things about being a journalist is often times the free food samples or promotional swag a source will offer to you while reporting on their business or venture.

In my 13 years of journalism, I’ve definitely had my fair share of great food and promotional swag.

From music albums by musicians I’ve reviewed to a free lunch on the house by a gracious restaurateur I’ve spotlighted in the pages of a community business paper or magazine, what comes my way while promoting businesses and artists has always been a welcome perk.

So, it was no different today when I visited Marlene’s Natural Foods Market & Deli in Tacoma.

The story I’m writing on Marlene’s is about the natural foods store’s 40th anniversary. The company started as a small storefront in Federal Way along Pacific Highway South on April 1, 1976. Today, the company has two storefronts: one at the Gateway Center in Federal Way and the other on S. 38th Street in Tacoma.

To say it mildly, what I learned about Marlene’s and what I saw in their store from the standard non-GMO beef down to the not-so-well-known cricket flour (an alternative to wheat flour for baking, if you’re wondering) was eye-opening.

One of the perks of being an employee at Marlene’s is a free, daily shot of wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is literally grass distilled to a nutrient-rich liquid. It’s a cleanser for the body, and helps to enrich your body’s blood supply. It’s been reported to fight off cancers.

Lately, I’d been giving my wife a hard time about her green (produce-enriched) shake. So, here I was faced with wheat grass.

What did I do? I downed it in one shot, of course. Suffice to say, for the next few hours I had an earthy taste in my mouth. But, at the same time, I felt healthier–like I just did something good for my body.

So, whether it’s a new music album release or an unexpected shot of nature’s nutrient-rich shake, I say, “Bring it on!” And don’t be afraid to try some wheatgrass on your next visit to Marlene’s. Your body will thank you.

When Jocelyn be sleeping, Daddy be writing

18-month-old Jocelyn sleeps away, while Daddy works.
18-month-old Jocelyn sleeps away, while Daddy works.

This weekend is crunch time for me. Two big deadlines hit on Monday, Feb. 15. One deadline requires four stories for a business magazine; the second deadline is a news story for a community newspaper.

As of Saturday afternoon, I have three more stories to complete.

Thankfully, it’s a quiet Saturday. While Helen, my wife, is out meeting with a career coaching client, I’m typing away on a business feature about the successful rebranding of The Outlet Collection in Auburn (Washington).

Meanwhile, our 18-month-old daughter, Jocelyn, is sound asleep in her crib. What a wonderful daughter we have! We’re so lucky to have a sweet child like Jocelyn.

To ensure I meet my deadlines, I try to capture every minute I can when Jocelyn is sleeping.

It’s a careful balance. When she is awake, of course I want to spend every waking minute with her. Give her plenty of playtime and plenty of one-on-one attention.

I’m continually amazed by how successful I’ve been as a freelance writer, while also devoting my time to Jocelyn. I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Tax season is upon us and all business receipts are important

It’s tax season!!!

This is a time of year that many people dread. But for my wife and I, it’s something we look forward to year after year. We just love watching Turbo Tax tally up our return and then watching it drop in our checking account.

This year is an especially pivotal year for us. 2015 was the first year that I really stepped out with my freelance writing business following 10 years of working full-time in the journalism field.

Amazingly, I did really well in 2015! My wife, also, excelled in her career and business coaching business!

The 2015 tax season, then, is a time for us to reflect on the fruits of our labor. But it also is giving us new perspective on how important it is to keep each and every receipt, especially those that are business expenses.

Something as simple as the purchase of a latte at your favorite coffee shop, while visiting with a business client, is worthy of a tax deduction. And all those miles you drive and all those oil changes you make, keep a record of that, too.

A lesson my wife and I learned this tax season is that moving forward it behooves us to keep all receipts.

If you’re self-employed, make sure to keep your receipts. Throw them in a shoe box and they’ll be ready for you come tax season. And then celebrate when you watch your big return hit the checking account!