I recently wrote the above story on Medium. It is a Friend’s Link so no worries about hitting a pay wall.
While I am not a huge fan of censorship, I am even more adamant about eliminating racism. And for this reason, I could not hold my tongue. When I read that some of the Dr. Seuss books were being pulled from the public, I had to investigate. After all, it was Dr. Seuss books which fueled my interest in poetry, right behind Poe. So, it was a shocker to learn about this removal of books. Of course, there is a big rush on book sales for the censored books. I must wonder what that is about, but this is not the place to research that.
With cancel culture at a high point, it is easy to simply say, I am not going to have anything to do with Dr. Seuss. Rid my shelves of his books. Well, that is easy enough as I do not have one single Dr. Seuss book on my shelves. But let us hold on for a moment. As that old worn-out cliché of “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” comes to mind, that is what seems to me to apply in this situation.
On the Seussville page of the Random House website dedicated to Dr. Seuss, there a statement about the removal of the six books: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.” Stating this is because: “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
Was Ted Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss indeed a racist man? After reading this well-written article on Dr. Seuss Art I learned a lot about how Ted Geisel evolved. And I had to reflect how, personally, I was also affected by the evolving of influences.
As a child and a baby boomer, I saw and heard so many expressions and artistic depictions of characters which would make my heart hurt. For many years, there were some expressions of which I was naïve, but once I learned what they meant, I no longer used them. Ironically, I also learned some expressions from people who were making jokes about their own heritage. What I did learn is that if you are of a certain culture and you make a joke about yourself, then that is retaining your own power, but do not tell that joke to anybody else, because it is hurtful, disrespectful. That is how I learned about self-deprecating humor. I have a hard time even uttering some expressions, such as in reading poetry and would rather not. It physically hurts my brain and heart.
As an in-home influencer, my father was heard making some expressions, but over the years he evolved. And when I read about Ted Geisel and how he evolved, I must believe it to be true. He was a military veteran, and he earned the highest honor of the Legion of Merit, same as my father did. Dad’s was for exemplary service throughout this military career. Both Dad and Geisel were praised for raising the morale of the troops.
Troops were of many races and cultures and I lived amongst all of these folks in school and in neighborhoods. And in these neighborhoods, the kids got close to each other. One of my first best friends was a black girl and her mother welcomed me, fed me, and encouraged the relationship as did my own mother. Mom had evolved, as well, as she grew up in a time when there were race wars and she was called “poor white trash” and had a scar from a brick hurled at her on the way to school. She did not fight back. She could have held that as a reason to hate, but she released it to us as a reason to love.
I am still mixed about my feelings about Ted Geisel, but I will always appreciate Dr. Seuss for those books which influenced me as a writer, and who helped me to expand my imagination, and to see possibilities with word play. There will be no books purchased by me. I have evolved, in a way, and this is because I no longer read Dr. Seuss, but if a child puts the book in my lap, it is pretty much a sign that it is time to read and to be sure and animate. But, if they happen to have a copy of a book with expressions or photos which are racially wrong, I will give them a good reason why it is a book which I do not support. And I do believe that education is the key to awareness and making each of our own decisions.
As part of an exercise from Jena Schwartz I made a list of 20 Things of My Truths About 2020. This exercise helped me and maybe you will see why or how. And I invite you to do this, as well.
- Introspection – 2020 gave me more time for naval gazing, getting in touch with the soul.
- Creativity – 2020 gave me more time to work on creative pursuits.
- Social Interactions with the World – 2020 provided a new adventure with seeing outside of the local. With the beauty of zoom meetups I was able to meet people I have now established positive relationships with and they are not just in the U.S.
- More poetry meetup times to share via open mics. Always good to interact with other poets. It inspires me.
- Getting out of my comfort zone and discovering I still have it – at my age, I wonder, at times, what I have to offer the world. I was trying to think of ways to reach out with other poets. I used to do public speaking. This was before the internet. Enter the modern age and podcasting. I started a podcast to help other poets get their work out there and it has been a blast. I am not so sure I would have gone this route if I had not been locked down. It was something I thought about, but actually doing it has been huge.
- 2020 has brought my family closer. While at times it can feel a bit crowded, with two adults working from home and daughter working on projects, it can get tight. But we have fallen into a routine and it is getting less stressful. I love having lunch with my family and them being available.
- 2020 helped me discover I could help another poet get published.
- My TV time has been drastically cut. And this is a good thing and one of the reasons why the other items have happened.
- Exercise has increased, primarily getting 2-3 walks in per day and this is because we walk now in the mornings since there’s no place to be, so no time on the road. We walk at night to close out the day. And I generally walk to go get the mail.
- 2020 has improved with my focus on my health.
- 2020 has helped me settle in to what I need and want to do with writing.
- Honestly, I miss the coffee shop where I would go read mostly and sometimes write and just sit in the red chair by the window and eavesdrop. 2020 helped me appreciate this more.
- 2020 has seen me get published more in journals, etc. and it even got me a couple of jobs from home, namely editing and judging a contest.
- 2020 has been the year to analyze how I really feel about certain things, values, etc.
- 2020 has helped me recognize even more that to see the change I have to be the change.
- 2020 has shown me which relationships to value and which were never meant to be long term. It was a time for letting go and a time to show appreciation for the good stuff.
- 2020 has had me thinking outside the norm and seeking my muse, even more.
- 2020 has had more nighttime visits from my muse.
- 2020 has helped me value what is most important and let go of any unneeded things. While this has been something I have worked on before, it has become even more apparent.
- 2020 has helped me realize that at my age there is not time to be frivolous with my time and to work on not fearing my age but celebrating the possibilities it brings.
As the workplace changes with modern times, whether we are W-2 employees or self-employed, remote or working from home opportunities have come about full force.
Statistically speaking, according to the Gallup poll, there is a significant increase in people working from home. And there are even more who would be willing to leave their employment to accept remote opportunities. LinkedIn also ran a poll where they found that 82% want to work from home at least one day per week and 57% would like to work remotely about three days per week.
Some of the benefits of working from home are:
- Improved engagement with the workplace.
- Increase in productivity.
- Helping the environment by decreasing waste of items such as paper, trash, and fuel.
- More effective work-life balance.
- Flexible work hours lending to more job satisfaction.
- Better branding of the employee.
- Less time off for vacations and sick leave.
- Savings on clothing, transportation, meals, etc.
- Family availability within reasonable limits.
- Decreased chances of spreading illness in the workplace.
As one who has worked from home since 2006, from my experience, it takes a certain discipline to maintain your work from home reputation. Setting boundaries with family and friends is important. Otherwise, it is too easy to fall into the childcare and errand running status for others, as well as people believing you are available at their beck and call.
Therefore, it is important to state up front and repeatedly (if necessary) that you work set hours and what this means as far as being available.
It is important to set a schedule, shower, dress in at least comfortable clothes. This sets the focus on work vs grabbing the remote and watching movies. In the case of work from home agents for customer service phone centers from home, there will be schedules to fulfill. It will be important to adhere to schedules and to manage background noise. A white noise machine works perfectly for this.
Ergonomics is just as important at home as it is in the office. It is important to have a desk set up to help prevent carpel tunnel, back issues, etc. Also be sure to get up and walk around periodically and just breathe. I used to set a timer each hour to do breathing exercises, but now it comes more naturally.
My first job working from home was as a work from home agent for a call center based in Texas. Hours were chosen from a board and I worked a set number of hours per week, I did not have to exceed these. Opportunities to work additional hours, along with incentives would be available. As an independent contractor, I did not get paid for training. I received a 1099 for my wages and was able to deduct work related expenses, completing a self-employment Schedule C for tax purposes. Eventually, this company changed to an employee: employer type relationship, resulting in paid training and a W2 for tax filing. This changed the ability to take certain expenses in consideration as would be used when a self-employment Schedule C was filed.
Eventually, I switched to writing gigs and dropped the customer service call center work. One of the jobs was to write jewelry descriptions for a jewelry sales company and eventually to write articles about jewelry. In this job, I learned about SEO. Other writing jobs included writing blurbs for sites and articles.
Just about the time the jewelry business went dry, I was approached about ghostwriting a book about Alzheimer’s Disease. This piqued my interest as my father had Alzheimer’s Disease. I was interested in learning all I could. This resulted in a published book from this project and I learned some key points about publishing and marketing books. Nowadays, I write and am working on a poetry book as well as some other publications.
Working from home is not made for everybody. It is a convenience for many of us who, need this option. Some people find they can do their work in coffee shops, libraries, remote work centers, or essentially anywhere they can hook up to the internet, if needed. If working as a customer service agent, then this work must be from home in a secured, hard wired environment. Of course, this would also be the case if working in finance or other secure work.
Just like many other areas of life, there is always a chance of coming across scams. Having done some detective work in this respect, I have intentionally taken calculated risks to detect scammers. I have found some that got my spam stamp of rejection.
Discipline, due diligence, and dedication will get you far in work from home efforts.