I've had a variety of jobs through the years but working for myself and doing what I love is one of the best decisions I've made.
I've been self-employed since 2000, yet I still remember the uncertainty I felt when trying to decide if it was the best course for me. But, in the intervening years, it became clear that due to certain familial situations and obligations, I made the right decision. Now, it would be difficult to imagine doing anything else!
Having a home-based business means that I can create my own schedule and I love that! Much of my schedule revolves around transporting my daughter from place to place but I've been able to find a balance that also allows me to network several times a week, have lunch with friends in between appointments and still get my work done, even if that means sending a job to a client at 5:30 in the morning, as I did today. Sometimes, it means working until late at night but that's okay because I LOVE WHAT I DO!
One thing that this type of schedule allows me is the flexibility to volunteer. Some of you already know that I am the human member of a Therapy Dog team. My pup, Godiva, and I have made over 200 Therapy Dog visits in the past five years. We have visited residents at a nursing home, been involved with a R.E.A.D. Program (Reading Education Assistance Dog) at a school for children with Special Needs and at a preschool, attended scout troop meetings, talked to kids at an acting school before they met a canine cast member and are currently in our fourth year visiting an HISD elementary school. We visit classrooms and discuss many things relating to dogs (what never to feed them, how to approach them, what a microchip is and more topics) and then there's a petting session after which Godiva shows off her tricks and everyone goes home with Godiva's business cards and bookmarks (as a Graphic Designer, I created these gifts to give to everyone we visit and they love them!) I also have the kids guess how much I get paid to be there which leads to sometimes outrageous guesses and a nice discussion about volunteerism.
When I started doing Therapy Dog work, I entered into it expecting to make a difference in other people's lives and I believe that we do but what I found is that I have made a difference in my own life, too. I've been thanked by family members of residents in the nursing home and parents of children in the schools but I always say the same thing: "I get as much joy out of doing this as the people we visit get." And, I mean it. It's important to me and I love seeing how much Godiva loves it! She always gets a bath the night before we go for a Therapy Dog visit and when I tell her it's time for her bath because we're going to Work the next day, she gets very excited and runs towards the bathroom. She loves Work!
So, whenever possible, I try to add visits to my schedule. If that means I will be working late that night for my clients, that's fine. Because, it's all important to me. Both make people happy and both give me immense joy - working with people and seeing the end results whether it be a smile or a finished design project. It's all great!