Don’t You Want To Do Work For Someone You Really Like?

Don’t You Want To Do Work For Someone You Really Like?

{Virtual Work Opportunities for the week of April 10th….scroll down…. but we’d love for you to read our advice on how to land these great opportunities first!}

As I read through the available virtual opportunities this week, I kept seeing a lot of REALLY nice people.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in the industry for awhile and have the chance to talk to so many business owners and can literally see their faces and hear their voices.

These really nice people want to match up with other really nice people and have some really nice business processes to make their lives easier all around.

Behind all of these opportunities are simply really nice people. Now, sometimes they are extra stressed and a little short with their words because of it, but that’s often where you come in.

The simplest things can be taken off the plate of a busy entrepreneur and suddenly you’ve opened up hours of mental freedom for them.

I’m adding some tasks to my VA team right now that are so freeing to me (one is email management…that hot burning skillet I’ve refused to release from my tightly clenched fists for so long)

As you look at these opportunities and head into interviews with them, remember that. These are people, sometimes with families, who are accountable to their customers to do good. And chances are in the online space, they’ve been taken for a ride more than once by other freelancers.

So what do we teach here? Be a pro.

Show up and be a pro in: 

  • how you deliver work
  • how you communicate
  • how you offer advice,
  • humble yourself when you miss something
  • serve their customers as if they were your own

{by the way….If you talk to someone and get that vibe that they aren’t a good person, run. Don’t second guess that gut feel. You’ll definitely regret it.}

All these nice people really want is another nice person who can show up and do pro work for them.

{These virtual work opportunities are pulled from various sources around the web each week.  Some are free listings and some require a membership to sites such as FlexJobs or HireMyMomIf you want the best clients, long term business and the highest rates, we suggest using these sites over free Facebook groups.  To learn how to refine your search for the highest dollar virtual work opportunities, try our fast class.}

Techy VA for Busy Entrepreneur

Your chance to help this growing design firm WOW their clients. When growth happens, the owners get overwhelmed and need help to maintain their services in a quality manner. This means – proposal writing, onboarding, client communication, team follow up and quality checks on the work.

Now, the rate posted here is too low for the “jack of all trades” they are looking for. But with the right spin on your value, you can make them even more profitable and find a good fit being “Ms. Organization and Detail” while they get more profitable.

The list of skills includes: excellent communication skills, administrative skills, and experience with tech tools such as WordPress and Graphic Design are a plus!.

Full-Time Virtual Office Assistant to CEO

Are you looking for one simple shift to a single client but with work from home? This could be for you as you become a virtual office manager. Everything from quality assurance testing, writing blog posts, organizing files/information, etc. Assisting with work in other departments such as SEO, recruiting, digital production, etc as needed. Managing administrative tasks such as managing calendars and special events and answering phones.

Sometimes it only takes ONE CALL to change your path.

Part -Time Remote Ghost Writer for Online Dating Service

Oh, seriously FUN work here. An Online Dating Service is looking to hire a person to ghostwrite online dating profiles and messages for our clients. Can you picture it? Use your wit, humor and the ability to capture the readers’ attention with storytelling and vivid descriptions.

Personal VA for Entrepreneur, Writer

Super busy, honest, transparent family-man entrepreneur looking for that VA to help him regain traction with more organization –
work includes a variety of projects such as email management, travel, and writing projects, as well as some internet marketing around upcoming writing projects + a great deal of assistance with organizing the details and schedule of his many ventures.

(This feels like it could be a very personal, relational kind of fit for the right VA. If you have patience, are good at making processes and helping someone who isn’t good at sticking to them, then I’d be applying.)

Part-Time Techy VA for Financial Tech Company

WANTED: Super detail orientated tech-savvy VA to do reporting, testing, troubleshooting, and various admin tasks.

(now I didn’t even to write the rest of this because their job description is AWESOME! Which is a great sign of someone who’s doing well in business and has excellent long-term work available…. here’s where they pick up….)

Are you OCD when it comes to accuracy? Does the sound of a part-time zero stress super flexible work-from-anywhere tech-savvy VA job seem like a dream? If yes, then you may have stumbled on the perfect opportunity for you. Here’s why…

(click through to the job description for full details but here are a few more things they want you to know)
Drip, ClickFunnels, SamCart, AccessAlly, Stripe – You’ll be in charge of our entire tech stack and marketing/sales funnels and the weekly reporting for those sales funnels.

Becoming the “Right-Hand Girl”

Becoming the “Right-Hand Girl”

{Virtual Work Opportunities for the week of April 3rd….scroll down…. but we’d love for you to read our advice on how to land these great opportunities first!}

I’m back from a spring-break staycation.

Is there ever enough time to disconnect and love on family?
Only when we can design businesses to fit into that 9 – 3 school schedule.

I also gave myself permission to hit the ground slowly today. Because if I was in my day job, it’d be instant Monday-morning overwhelm. This is why we do our work from home jobs.

We make the rules that work for our life, our family and our needs. A slow start after a holiday week is perfect.

(And by slow start I mean, clearing off the desk, fixing a broken computer and writing these emails for the week. Basically, no client calls first thing this morning.)

This week’s virtual work opportunities are chock full of AMAZING women online business owners who are looking for their “right-hand girl” to keep them organized, efficient and out of the weeds.

And I totally understand where they are coming from. One of my unplugged spring break epiphanies was to change up the tasks and systems I use with my own VA team to make us all more efficient and coordinated. Right-hand girls UNITE! This is the kind of stuff you were born to do.

Often in business, things move too slowly but it’s simply because you’ve been doing it too inefficiently. There’s no answer out here to the right way. When you are someone’s “right-hand girl”, you help them look at a need and suggest some basic ways you could make that easier for them.

I see a lot of VAs / Virtual Professionals get caught up in thinking “I don’t know this” when they just spent the weekend designing the most fantastical organization system for their family (digital photos, calendar system, closet, homework desk, insert your project).

You know this stuff.

You just don’t know the ins and outs of every system perhaps (newsflash: no one does). But you know how to problem solve, learn fast and by trial, error and adjustment, fine tune those admin processes every business owner needs.

I don’t believe anyone expects you to jump in at $20-$30 an hour and know it all.

They do however want a learner, a good listener, and someone willing to think through all the details.

So as you read into these job postings, assume these business owners had their own epiphanies about who and what they needed on their teams. Then they threw a line into a giant fishing hole of online virtual professionals and they are praying for their “Right Hand Girl” to show up.

THIS. This is what will make a difference. A person who can sweep in and take all of these things off my plate.

 

Are you the “Right Hand Girl” for one of these businesses?

{These virtual work opportunities are pulled from various sources around the web each week.  Some are free listings and some require a membership to sites such as FlexJobs or HireMyMomIf you want the best clients, long term business and the highest rates, we suggest using these sites over free Facebook groups.  To learn how to refine your search for the highest dollar virtual work opportunities, try our fast class.}

Part-Time Virtual Assistant for Online Coach & Leader (with growth potential!)

I saw this job and immediately felt warm and connected to this business owner. She’s in the crazy stage where all the ideas are flowing and then….. oh my goodness all the admin to get those opt-ins built, blogs posted, social media managed and clients supported.

It’s a classic “come grow with me in online business” kind of posting. So things like WordPress, Google docs, weekly webinar management and email marketing (her tool of choice – Aweber and Infusionsoft).

Customer Service Rockstar for Business & Technology Strategist

This is a professional in the online business space. The job listing (posted on HireMyMom – membership required, membership worth it, and I’m not even paid to say that) shows they have a well structured, organized, teamwork approach. The position is focused in on customer service….but not in an “I’m going to be on the phone all day” kind of way. It’s management in a Facebook group, for members in the member portal, very flexible online kinds of support for paying customers who are happy to be there…and if I read this business owner right, go-getters who stick around for the long haul won’t be left to just do customer service.

Freelance Project Management for Small Design Studio

Great trial project to get a creative design firm organized for better client results. Creatives are not super good at (nor should they be spending their time) on admin. Creative genius is priceless. So they need a freelance virtual project manager to come in and keep all the details in order for them – client emails, invoicing and billing, file management and more. Note that this is a “percentage of work billed” kind of gig. Interesting twist huh? You all win together.

VA for FB LIVE Coach

Energetic and successful female FB Live Coach is looking for a committed whiz at Facebook, messenger and all the admin of email, calendars and google sheets and docs. Oh yes, and of course the WordPress blog.

Can you be the coordinator that keeps their creative genius flowing forward?

The position will be around 30 hrs per week and can grow depending on work available.

Dynamic, Smart VA for Small Marketing Agency

When an Upwork post says “willing to pay for higher rates for the most experienced freelancers” I pay attention. Here’s one of those.

Looking for: a dynamic, smart, motivated and very detailed oriented assistant to keep up with a variety of administrative tasks: research, list generation, social media posting, emails, image gathering, data gathering, etc.

Do you see a theme here? Businesses GROW, get busy and need to expand their team with talented people like you who can keep “all the details in order.” In this case, they called it “a relentless attention to details and a desire to leave no stone unturned.”

Questions about applying for those positions?

You can always ask them in our Collective.  Where I’m back in action with fresh new training’s blooming out of my spring break epiphanies 🙂

 

 

How To Make The Most From These Virtual Work Opportunities

How To Make The Most From These Virtual Work Opportunities

{Virtual Work Opportunities for the week of March 20th….scroll down…. but we’d love for you to read our advice on how to land these great opportunities first!}

We share, for free, new virtual work opportunities we find across our favorite internet gold mines each week.
Why? Because the goal is to get you hired! We aren’t successful if you aren’t successful.
But more than that, we give you extra tips. Because it can be like finding a needle in a haystack…..or more accurately, a ruby or emerald in the gem mine.

Read closely our thoughts for each of these job postings below and follow these quick tips for finding your virtual work opportunity:

1. Apply quickly.

The best work is snatched up fast. More importantly, the fast-acting business owners are the best ones to work for.

2. Apply uniquely and professionally.

Video is always a stellar addition

3. Follow up.

It makes a difference and shows you are self-motivated and on top of your details.
And can you let us know if you land work with one of our postings?
We aren’t receiving any kind of commission but it helps us to know that this is valuable and effective for our audience.

 Alright….time to go prospect some new work this week:

{These virtual work opportunities are pulled from various sources around the web each week.  Some are free listings and some require a membership to sites such as FlexJobs or HireMyMomIf you want the best clients, long term business and the highest rates, we suggest using these sites over free Facebook groups.  To learn how to refine your search for the highest dollar virtual work opportunities, try our fast class.}

Ongoing Part-Time VA/Coordinator with Growth Potential

Heads up for a professional work from home opportunity with a successful online business owner. This is the right long-term work for someone looking for professional work flexibly from home.

“Podcast Guesting” authority is looking for a professional administrative coordinator who is a quick learner and passionate about the publicity of business. Candidate should be comfortable with working as a liaison with high profile clients, complex administrative tasks, marketing activities, project management, and coordinating appointments.

Makeover This Cooking Class Franchise’s Online Marketing

How fun is this? A chance to makeover their online marketing strategy and such a feel-good business – a franchise that hosts adult and children’s cooking classes.

Now, their rate posted is low for someone who is being asked to make over a marketing strategy. So think about how to approach this. If you think you’ve got what it takes to really jumpstart their marketing growth, then consider an initial lower cost starter project but be clear of the expectation for higher rates as you bring them results down the road.

Part-Time CRM VA

The corporate feel but comfortably from home. I like how this go-getter international executive is utilizing the flexible, professional workforce to smartly grow his accounts. Be sure to check him out on LinkedIn if you apply.

International Corporate Account Manager is seeking an eager Virtual Assistant with CRM system (specifically Zoho but other similar CRM is acceptable) experience and social media marketing skills to build his business. Tasks include populating the CRM, entering quotes and work orders, tracking shipments, marketing his business to various clients.
The position is 10 hours a week with grow potential.

Part-Time Personal VA

When you see a variety of tasks like this, you see a business owner who knows they need to add help but haven’t carved out exact positions yet. You have the chance to wow them and ease their busy-ness in a significant way.

Self-Motivated, Detailed Personal VA needed for a variety of tasks:

Moving data from one excel sheet format to another with careful attention to multiple formula cells.
Creations of email marketing campaign through constant contact, including creating the advertisements with photos and text and follow up email and phone calls.
Posting on social media platform
Website Project that includes image upload, modification of fonts and background colors, data entry of the retail sales price into the website, product description, etc.
Calling existing and potential clients to set up appointments for the owner.

Ongoing Social Media Content Marketing for Small Real Estate Company

Here’s a winner…. this person has a PROCESS already written for you to start with. That shows such awareness and understanding of what it takes to be successful.

Here’s the work: Small Real Estate Company is seeking a creative, detail-oriented and loyal person for an ongoing social media content marketing role. Open to changes and will need help starting different social media venues. Looking for someone to create awareness of our business and be informative as the expert in quality rentals in our area. Experience in real estate marketing, fashion, art and more creative type fields are encouraged to apply. Marketing schedule is provided for a 52 week period. Most tasks would be bi-weekly instead of weekly and open to further ideas.

Part-Time Savvy Virtual Executive Assistant – US or Canada!

This business knows what they are looking for. I can tell because their job description says “Please only apply if you are willing to write a custom response to this post and have a proven record of working successfully in a virtual setting of at least 1 year (i.e. at home or remote)”

Those who pay attention to details are the ones who excel as a Virtual Professional.

The work: Online executive coaching company is seeking a part-time executive assistant with the potential to become full time. A reliable & professional assistant is needed to manage the following areas: meetings, email, records, contact database, and research.

Very traditional support work, all remote. If you aren’t into the creative graphic and social media side of things, this is for you.

Wanting to learn higher dollar skills rapidly?

Try our fast class trainings.  90 minutes of the most important skills you can immediately apply as a VA.

Can We Talk About Why You Haven’t Landed That Dream Virtual Work Gig Yet?

Can We Talk About Why You Haven’t Landed That Dream Virtual Work Gig Yet?

{Virtual Work Opportunities for the week of March 13th….scroll down…. but we’d love for you to read our advice on how to land these great opportunities first!}

You guys.

I open this way because I consider you a kindred spirit. A mom who’s working hard to make work work from home.

You’re my “guys”.

I also open this way when I’m EXCITED! Every week we filter through all the online work opportunities and I can’t stand how much potential there is out there.

I literally want to drive to your house, pour a cup of coffee and say “let’s do this.” Let’s get your application in for this or tell me what’s holding you back and we’ll work through it.

(In fact, I do this virtually for our Verified Virtual Professionals and members of the How She Quits Collective. We post ideal virtual work opportunities, tag those whose skills match well and talk about the match.)

When you look at these opportunities, you probably have questions like this:

– I REALLY like this opportunity but I’m still in my day job. Should I take it on and juggle it?
– I have 80% of these skills but I don’t know ___________________. Should I apply?
– This seems like a low rate for what they’re asking. Should I talk to them anyhow and ask for more?
– I love the list of work here but I’m not sure about the hours they request. How do I ask about that?

(Can you see how this list never ends? Every week I have a new show topic or blog article to write addressing these kinds of topics.)

LIGHTBULB MOMENT: You are simply lacking experience with navigating the virtual work sector.

It’s pretty new in general for both the job poster and the applicant. But common rules of hiring still apply.

Maybe, though, you haven’t had to apply for a lot of jobs in your life.

Maybe you just don’t have the experience here?

That’s the key difference I see between VA’s who have skills and GET the jobs. And VA’s who have skills and DON”T GET the jobs.

They’re missing the experience with what to apply for and how to position themselves.

If you haven’t been looking at virtual work opportunities for very long, or if you haven’t applied for many, or if you’ve applied for a lot but you aren’t getting them, this is likely the only thing between you and virtual work.

How do you bridge the experience gap with applying for online virtual work?

1. Watch these articles we post weekly. An abundance of free advice and insights.
2. Get practice! Apply and see where it goes
3. Get advice from someone with experience.

When I’m independently wealthy, I’ll do this for free. Until then, I’ve made it crazy affordable to join our community and have your own personal mentor.

{These virtual work opportunities are pulled from various sources around the web each week.  Some are free listings and some require a membership to sites such as FlexJobs or HireMyMomIf you want the best clients, long term business and the highest rates, we suggest using these sites over free Facebook groups.  To learn how to refine your search for the highest dollar virtual work opportunities, try our fast class.}

Meaningful and funny writing for busy blogger

She can’t write fast enough to get all those thoughts out and needs you!

Can you connect with words and pull out the readers’ emotions while being funny when appropriate?

A meaningful, powerful and stylish female blogger needs your services with email editing and blog copy. You will be writing from voice dictation and rough writing copy.

That organized, google apps, keep things on track VA work you’ve been looking for..

But what if I’m not uber creative? I’m REALLY good at keeping things organized, paying attention to details and staying on track. Google Apps should name their next tool after me.

This is a great example of virtual work that is made for someone like you.

Seeking a VA who enjoys working with WordPress (this is learnable….get in the Verified Virtual Professional program if you aren’t certain of yourself), are very detail-oriented, a supreme whiz at managing tasks and projects using Trello, and have the foresight to take action.

Tasks include managing WP sites, keeping projects on track, managing two email inboxes, managing Trello and keeping her calendar organized.

The position will begin at 10 hrs per week and most likely expand too much more as the work progresses. This is a long-term commitment, we want the person we hire to be part of our growth.

The pay rate for this position is $17/hr. (My experience is that you can outshine the $17 / hour people and negotiate a contract to move up to $25 for this one eventually)

Savvy Technical Virtual Assistant

This is one busy online entrepreneur (in fact, I’ve talked with her a bit personally and we randomly came across her posting on Hire My Mom this week.)

Visit her website and you will see she’s a classic overwhelmed entrepreneur – sending emails, podcasting, blogging. You name it. And she just wants ALL.THE.DETAILS finished up.

Now, there’s a lot of tools she’s looking for here and likely you don’t know all of them. And you likely won’t want to do all of that work for her advertised $10-$20 per hour rate, right?

We’re talking through this posting and how to approach it over in the How She Quits Collective. If this feels like the work you want to do, that’s the place to be for landing the right clients at the best rates. Join at HowSheQuitsCollective.com)

Here are some more task details from her post:
-email drips and broadcasts (ActiveCampaign)
-lead pages
-sales pages
-opt-in forms
-WordPress
-bonus if you know podcasting

Traditional Executive Assistant for Non-Traditional Virtual Role

This is a thorough, detailed job description clearly from someone operating as a professional. That’s why I like it. You show up as a professional, you’ve found yourself a great long-term gig. And, they indicate the willingness to pay higher rates for the right expertise. Someone who values quality.

Some details for the role:

Reporting directly to the CEO, the Executive Assistant (EA) will provide executive level support to the CEO and executive team. The EA will maintain the CEO’s schedule and ensure high-quality communications with stakeholders as well as coordinate an efficient and effective travel schedule. Tasks include administrative and clerical support, Managing appointment calendars, Resolving scheduling conflicts and issues, Booking travel and accommodation and Managing contact lists.

-10-20 hours per week and is preferably located in the Eastern or Central time zone.
-available M-F and very responsive to emails, phone calls, and other communication channels – eg. instant messaging.

Flexible Executive VA for CEO of Small Tech Firm

Another professional looking for a professional. They are wanting you to interface with board members and other senior roles for meeting coordination, travel details and all those details that people just want “taken care of”.

Also a willingness to pay more for the right quality of a person.

If you are traditional executive assistant material, I’d jump all over this. They seem like a fun company that’s going places!

Time: 5-10 hours per week usually, but can spike up higher. We expect it to last less than 6 months but may extend.

Go Beyond “Assistant” in Virtual Work

Go Beyond “Assistant” in Virtual Work

{Virtual Work Opportunities for the week of March 6th….scroll down…. but we’d love for you to read our advice on how to land these great opportunities first!}

Did you read last week’s article where I show you how to dig past that “assistant” vocabulary in online work opportunities?

This week we found more of those gold mines of virtual freelance work. I’m a really intuitive gut-feel led person (ENTJ for anyone who’s wondering.) As I read these posts, I got some REALLY good intuitive feelings about these positions.

Before you look at them, I want you to remember this simple math.

$30 / hour equates roughly to a $60,000 per year employee skillset (this is what the hiring business should be thinking for skillset value)

10 hours / week for 1 client = $1200 a month

With 3 clients, it’s $3600 / month.

Let’s assume you then specialize into the more advanced work and hire a low dollar (perhaps even overseas?) VA to help you with the busy work (post scheduling, formatting, etc) which can cut your hours in half, allowing you to add more clients.

You’ve just built your $5000 / month VA business.

I’ve given you some insights for each of the jobs posted this week. Many of them have the potential to be these kinds of clients. Most of them ask for you to be a “jack of all trades” but most likely out of lack of understanding of the skillset and market. (If you really know all the skills they have listed you should be at least charging $40 / hour – but don’t do that until you have the skills)

 

Alright….time to go prospect some new work this week:

{These virtual work opportunities are pulled from various sources around the web each week.  Some are free listings and some require a membership to sites such as FlexJobs or HireMyMomIf you want the best clients, long term business and the highest rates, we suggest using these sites over free Facebook groups.  To learn how to refine your search for the highest dollar virtual work opportunities, try our fast class.}

High Dollar Project Manager for Digital Marketing Start-Up

Client management, team formation, digital marketing and a business owner who values your skills and is willing to pay professional rates.

Plus that flexibility – seeking someone who can work independently, is intensely focused, and highly motivated.

(I’d apply for this one personally if that tells you anything 😉 )

Ongoing VA for Small IT Firm

Traditional assistant work but virtually….. this is great for someone who is not yet up on all the online business spaces but you have great office skills.

Small IT business is seeking an ONGOING VA who can assist with a variety of tasks. Management of specific tasks associated with business email, WordPress website, scheduling/project coordination, etc.

 

Ongoing (with room to grow) VA for Women’s Nutritional Coach

This one sounds FUN for the right person. Working in a space that is empowering to women never fails to be rewarding. And also a business owner who understands and values what it means to have a solid ongoing relationship with their VA.

This business owner is requesting an ONGOING (with room to grow) social media manager/VA who is familiar with mail chimp, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and WordPress. Organized, enthusiastic, not afraid to make decisions, team player, attention to detail.

Copywriter for Real Estate Website

The position request is for a real estate website: Looking for a talented marketing and advertising copywriter, an individual who can take ideas and bring them to life through powerful and impactful prose.

So they’ve very eloquently said, “We need someone who can get creative and interesting with house listings when there are a zillion same-old house listings out there to compete with.”

What I read into this position for the right person: may get routine and boring BUT it’s flexible and this seems like a position that has been filled multiple times and they are working hard to make it interesting. Some seasons of our life, boring routine work is a great way to bring extra income.

I also expect that advanced copywriters don’t apply for this kind of work and it’d be a great way to expand your copywriting resume.

Some more of their job description is here:
Skills to write in a variety of formats: long-form website copy, effective headlines, tag-lines, calls to action, product descriptions, and more, so the work will be fun, exciting and challenging, you WON’T be bored, and your work will make an impact.

Online Marketing Savvy VA for Career Coach

This list of skills requested is BIG. Do you know what that means? It will scare away a lot of people from applying. (And perhaps the business owner doesn’t have the right expectations but…. they’re a career coach which I bet makes them pretty open to understanding that most VA’s aren’t experts in every item on that list!)

Here’s the request:
Looking for a VA to help with social media, email campaign setups, client intake, and more..
Prefer someone with a solid understanding (or at least familiarity) of FB marketing, Mailerlite, Hootsuite, Leadpages, and Kajabi.
Ability to use YOAST is a plus.

PT Daytime Hours Admin Assistant to CEO

Interesting request here…. this person owns an Executive Assistant firm however they now want their own Executive Assistant. (Makes me wonder a bit why they don’t pluck one of their own best candidates but perhaps they are billing well and profitable? And maybe this position will open you up to other work with them?)

A nice thing about this position is daytime hours only. So no expectation to work around the clock, you know, since you are virtual and want flexibility.

The specific skills they ask for are standard: research on tasks, follow up e-mails via a company provided e-mail, and/or minimal phone calls. Very basic tasks, but experience is preferred.

Learn how to find more High Dollar Virtual Work Opportunities 

Our Fast Classes are an affordable way to get training and grow your virtual professional business.

Parenting Through Slow Suicide:  Adolescent Anorexia

Parenting Through Slow Suicide: Adolescent Anorexia

{This is a different kind of post for my blog. It’s personal. And vulnerable. And 1000% related to how moms juggle life and business.
It’s also full of a new passion to bring awareness to a secretive topic. At the end, I share my thoughts on how we maintain our businesses when we are facing such crises in our homes. Skip to the end if you need to know that part ASAP. I’m grateful I do run my own business. Otherwise, I would have been fired from my corporate job because of all the time I’ve needed to care for my family over the past couple of years.}

The past few months we’ve been waking up everyday to slay a dragon. It’s name is Anorexia Nervosa.

That dragon analogy I learned from another parent in the eating disorder clinic where we’ve been spending 20-25 hours per week since early December.

Shocker right? My daughter doesn’t “look” like she has anorexia. (and if someone utters those words we understand it’s simply coming from a lack of education and awareness.) Forget all your preconceived notions form photos of Angelina Jolie in the grocery checkout line.

Also, please don’t say things like “She just needs to eat.” or “Can’t you make her eat?”

After keeping this sneaky and secretive disorder to ourselves for the past 3 months, my daughter is finally at a stage of her treatment that it’s ok to share. In fact, sharing with everyone now is easier than figuring out to whom we’ve already explained the complex eating schedule, lack of participation in sports and missing school days.

It’s timely too since this is officially Eating Disorder Awareness week.

So first of all, some education. Here’s an official website full of info: https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/anorexia

You want the short shocking version? It could have killed her.

Her body was in the process of shutting down. Anorexia is slow suicide. We were clueless. And it has a lengthy, regimented recovery protocol that Maya may need to follow for the rest of her life.

Here’s my short official version:

  • Anorexia is a brain disorder.
  • It is not something a person chooses.
  • It has genetic and personality ties primarily which are pushed by environmental triggers (everyone wants to know “why” and that’s the best answer)
  • It’s defined simply as any restriction of food of any kind and / or excessive exercising
  • It does not define the person. We still have our Maya but sometimes it’s the eating disorder talking to us instead of her.
  • It’s a disorder of the brain that is curable, especially when treated aggressively in adolescents

Here’s what our life has looked like the past few months:

  • Structured meal plans, 6 times a day, from a licensed dietitian
  • Me making and serving ALL of her food because any contact with food prep / grocery shopping even, is an unhealthy trigger for the noisy thoughts in her brain
  • Monitoring all meals and food intake, because eating disorders are so sneaky and will try to convince her to hide, discard and lie about what food she has / has not eaten
  • Encouraging her to eat food that literally does not taste good to her (the disorder changes the taste buds)
  • Teaching her digestive system to accept food again (think of painful your muscles are when you haven’t used them in awhile and start to exercise again. Same thing but her stomach muscles instead.)
  • Enforcing “supplements” and other consequences (bedrest) when food is not consumed completely and in the timeframe required
  • Endless appointments at the Children’s Hospital Eating Disorder clinic since December 6th. (partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, psychiatrists, medical doctors, therapists, dietitians.)
  • Inability for her to sleep through the night.
  • Making sure she isn’t secretly exercising at night.
  • Reminding Maya over and over that it’s the eating disorder telling her lies about her body, her weight, her talents and gifts in this world.
  • Navigating broken friendships, careless words from people who don’t understand and figuring out who will be the “safe” people in our life we can trust during this sensitive time.

How did we get here?

(Everyone wants to know why.  So do we but truly, we may never know.  Fact is we are here, may be forever, and so we take this trial and look for the blessings in it.)

All summer we admired and praised Maya for her work ethic and discipline around her work outs and healthy eating as she reached for her goal of making the high school soccer team.

(Looking back, you know we questioned how we missed this and if we were part of the problem.)

At points, I felt she wasn’t eating enough, and her brother noticed as well, and we tried to educate her on proper calorie intake for the amount of exercise output. She appeared to be complying. And she took an extreme interest in shopping for and making her own food. She also became very interested in very work out techniques, strength training and fitness equipment. Her dad beamed for having a girl who wanted to be strong. Awesome right? Nope. A sure sign of an eating disorder I now understand.

I knew something more serious was going on around late October when Maya confessed to me her obsessive thoughts about food and calorie counting. She was scared. She didn’t like that she couldn’t stop these thoughts.

Naively I thought we could fix this by reading a couple of books, praying and getting into a counselor.

By the time we finally found the clinic at Children’s Hospital and had our assessment on December 6th, here’s what was going on with Maya physically:

Her body was shutting down. She had been restricting herself to 500-800 calories a day since June. She was constantly cold because her blood was focused around her core organs. Her heart rate was only 50. She’d been light headed and passed out a couple of times. Her digestive system was not working (I’ll spare the details but how would you feel with only 3 bathroom events in over a month?). Her female cycle had stopped. Her hair was falling out. One by one her body systems were shutting down. And she had been playing soccer in this condition as recently as a couple weeks prior. She was severely malnourished and her brain was affected as well because it simply couldn’t function.

We could have lost her to heart failure. Or suicide. That’s how serious this disorder can be.

Now here we are, 3 months later and part way through the battle and ready to share. This article is therapeutic for me, and approved by Maya. Because, for me as the mom, how did we miss this? How many other parents are missing this? (I *need* to reach you all!)  How did her coaches miss this? (multiple athletes from our school system are receiving treatment at the same clinic.  I don’t blame.  I just *need* coaches to know.)

I’m good and angry at it now. There are not enough tools. It was barely mentioned in her freshman health class this past fall. And her AP Psych teacher told me she is going to add some resources I shared to her curriculum. None of the parent meetings for all the expensive travel sports we play have EVER mentioned this is a risk and something to watch for in people who are intensely focused on athletics.

The therapists at the clinic are desperate to get the word out to pediatrician offices – who are so quick to treat for food allergies (encouraging the fear of food, deeming it the enemy). Or to simply medicate for depression and miss this completely.

I am convicted to get this information into a nutrition program for all middle and high school coaches to share with athletes and parents.

If there’s one thing you all need to take away from this, it’s how we talk about food.

All food is good food.
(in the right moderation)

We need to stop labeling food as “clean” or “dirty” or “toxic”. Yes yes I know things have changed and I’ve done this before. But it’s being taken to an extreme that manifests in full on eating disorders.

Food is her medicine. A healthy well-rounded meal plan that includes milk (gasp! dairy?) and oreos (gasp! gluten and processed sugar?) and even fries and coke. Because that’s a normalized life…..in the right moderation.

To all my fellow moms who are obsessing over your bodies with instagram selfies and diet shakes, I’m still using duct tape so I don’t unfairly snap on you. I don’t have the right words yet except to know that what WE are doing in the name of “self-care” and “healthy lifestyles” can get so far off track.

Learning to control our urges in any direction (too much or too little) is imperative. (For those of you ready to argue with me about the all food is good food fact, please read more about Orthorexia (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/other/orthorexia) and reflect on your own habits a bit. I say this because I’ve been there myself and I care about you. We all hate that idealistic B word – balance. Yet there’s wisdom in it.

Every body is beautiful. All food is good food in the right moderation. Restriction is only a short term fix. (Note that on the flip side of anorexia are other eating disorders resulting in obesity that are equally damaging to the body. That’s not what I’m here to share, nor am I versed in it but if that’s you, please check out more resources here. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org)

{Short note to my clients who work in the fitness space, my experience is going to produce some breakthrough thinking for your marketing. We HAVE to look at things differently to get better results. You will get attention when sharing these counter-culture messages and your business will grow.}

So what does treatment and recovery look like?

At our intake visit, I pushed back sobs as the doctors told us they were debating sending her straight to the hospitalization program. For a few reasons, they decided to let us start in Intensive Outpatient treatment. They handed me the schedule and I cried again. These treatments require a lot of hands on from the parents. Because when you treat this aggressively in the adolescent years, you can change those neuropathways in the brain and basically beat the disorder into submission with structure.

So we immediately began. On her 15th birthday. With 8 hours of appointments, orientation and treatment.

Phase 1 is simply getting the body re-nourished again. Food is the medicine. It took us about 10 weeks to get there. Until then, there was little reasoning with that malnourished brain being led by eating disorder lies. We were living with an incredibly moody, unhappy teenager (don’t we all? but this was so different. so extreme. so scary in ways I can’t even put into visible words yet. scary in the worst ways you can imagine as a parent.)

Next, after the body is functioning from a nourished state again within an expected body weight range, you move into a phase where you fight those thoughts. And it’s a long one and requires still the constant vigilance with meals and eating. I’m anticipating another 6 – 12 months of this vigilance assuming we don’t have a relapse. (Yes, I’ve adjusted my 2018 business activities significantly and unapologetically and truthfully, guilt free. Nothing is more important right now.)

There is absolutely ZERO exercise of any kind allowed during treatment.

Some kids sneak in exercise in their rooms at night. For some time periods of treatment, you literally need to be with them 24/7.

We are not yet back to a point to reintroduce any exercise. In fact, even extra walking for example at the mall or an event, requires additional caloric intake…..or to be pushed in a wheel chair to not expend that energy….necessary especially when your metabolic system is trying to reset in crazy ways.

School becomes a secondary priority and for 5 weeks, she did not attend at all. (Praises to her awesome teachers for assisting thru all of this.)

There are new medicines, new ways to talk about food and eating, and a new bond with my daughter that is a beautiful blessing in the face of this challenge.

But why?

Still that question.  I understand.  I’m wielding it from family members over and over.  Many of you have thoughts in your own minds about this. Likely uneducated judgments. I used to be there too.

For a minute, I did blame myself for not seeing it and potentially encouraging bad food behaviors – calling a shake breakfast and a protein bar lunch. Working to eliminate the “toxins” from our food and eat more “clean”. These CAN be contributors with people at risk for an eating disorder.

Ultimately, it is “just” another mental illness, which some people are more genetically and / or environmentally predisposed to. 50-80% of the risk for anorexia and bulimia is genetic. (Trace, S. E., Baker, J. H., Peñas-Lledó, E., & Bulik, C. M. (2013). The genetics of eating disorders. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 9, 589-620.)

We crave to know more of the why naturally so we can get to that root cause and eliminate it right?

Here’s one more shocking (I’ve used that word 3 times in this blog and I’ve maybe never used it before in anything I’ve written) fact for you:

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

(mink, F. E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H. W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports,14(4), 406-414.)

It’s aggressive. And so sneaky.

Did you know there are actually instagram accounts and forums where people with eating disorders will help each other with ways to HIDE anorexia?

(I won’t even share the names but if you suspect your child is struggling, message me and I’ll give you some ideas of what to look for in their instagram account.)

What parents should look for…. (I’ll share a few interesting unhealthy eating behaviors)

  • Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm
  • Is preoccupied with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting
  • Refuses to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
  • Excessive use of napkins
  • Micro-chopping of food
  • Focus on eating only “clean” (right? some of you are going to lose your mind when you read this!)
  • Refusing sweets
  • Reasons to skip meals
  • Skipping breakfast
    • (innocent…we all do it but do you know if they’re eating lunch? Maya was only eating a reasonable dinner with us on many days…and only on days we actually ate dinner as a family which is approximately twice a week.)
  • stomach aches
    • (you know my first thought? oh you must have a gluten or dairy allergy. what should we cut out? Wrong. So freaking wrong. Don’t get me started.)
  • Maintains an excessive, rigid exercise regimen – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury
  • Withdraws from usual friends and activities and becomes more isolated, withdrawn, and secretive
  • Seems concerned about eating in public
  • Has limited social spontaneity
  • Fainting
  • Feeling cold
  • Hair loss
  • Depression, self-harm and high anxiety.

The full list of symptoms is here: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/anorexia/warning-signs-symptoms

That list may scare you. Perhaps it even triggers some warning signs for your own unhealthy relationship with food? I saw it too late. In hindsight, she was doing so many of these things and we chalked them up to “normal” teen behavior.

Here’s what I’ve learned after 12 weeks and counting of being at the eating disorder clinic on average 4 – 5 days a week.

Us parents are in this battle together. I’m grateful for the bonds we have inside the clinic that are confidential, raw, vulnerable and exhibiting parenting strength we never knew we could muster.

Good things can go bad in kids who are prone to eating disorder. For example, training hard out of determination to make the high school soccer team. Then, being around a bunch of calorie-counting upperclassmen that have a stronger influence than they realize with their words.

Or starting a work out program with a team mate to gain muscle. The team mate does great. But your child’s obsessive thoughts become an eating disorder monster from following the identical routine.

The Eating Disorder convinces these kids they are not skinny enough (and if you ask them what their goal weight is, they irrationally don’t have one because they feel they will never be skinny enough).

Eating disorders thrive in smart, high-achieving, perfectionistic students and athletes.

There is no stereotype of course but runners, soccer players, dancers, gymnasts, etc, have surrounded us in this program. Straight A students, some of them already committed to collegiate sports.

It takes a good thing – a desire to achieve and perform well – and twists it into completely irrational thinking.

If you have 10 minutes, this TED talk is the best description of what an eating disorder biologically does to the brain.

 

Support for coaches…..

I want to help you. A few of Maya’s coaches don’t even know this yet. They don’t know they coached her through complete seasons where she was barely eating.

I’m working on some resources and a plan to circulate them through our school district at a minimum.

How has this changed my view on our diet-obsessed culture?

Mostly I’ve bit my tongue and kept my hands away from the keyboard. The nicest way I can say this is that we’ve got some serious issues and I’ve been right there in that race with you all (bullet proof coffee, paleo diets, the vegan green smoothie phase, Shakeology and yes an advocare regimen of countless pills.) In case you wondered, now is 1000% not the time to come at me with why your pink drink or other magic potion is “different”.

I believe we’ve all been fed a pile of lies. And this post is not big enough to dig into that.

Where do we go from here?

A few requests straight from the heart of the one fighting this battle head on, my daughter.

  • Don’t give me “pity eyes”. I’ve got a curable sickness and want your support.
  • Don’t talk about food and dieting around me. (And please clean up your own eating habits.)

And requests from this mama who’s weary but stronger now as a result:

  • Catch this when they are young. Before they are on their own in college and beyond. (It’s considered “curable” in adolescents.)
  • Reach out to me if you need support. Please don’t hesitate. Support groups seem few and far between even in a large city like we live.
  • Reconsider your own views around food, dieting, exercise and what it means to be “healthy”. We are setting examples for those around us.

Now, for those of you who normally hang around here looking for online business advice, entrepreneurial wisdom or to start or grow your own work from home business….. you need to hear this.

To support my daughter, I had to cut my work back to 15-20 hours per week. What does that even look like and do to a business?

The message out there is hustle.  Find the time.  Your business grows as much as you put into it.  (I don’t subscribe to all those philosophies anyhow.  It’s always been a family first thing for me.)

How do you navigate your business when facing a family crisis like this?

A few reflections (because we are still in the trenches)

 1. A whole new level of Flexible

Virtual professional / freelance work is rather flexible.  You can flex not just work times but also flex the type of work and clients you take on and don’t take on. I intentionally did not take on certain types of projects and clients in this season.

2. Pick good clients

From the start pick good clients.  Most of my clients are other parents.  Most of them are Christian believers and we pray for each other’s businesses and families.   So when crisis comes, we adapt and adjust with grace and understanding.  (Since we are coming out of the darkest valley, I do now have 2 client spaces open for March & April)

3. Do only the essentials (you’ll figure that out quickly)

Drop the “shoulds”.  Stop following other people online who don’t have children (and stop comparing yourself to them!)   This is a big chant of mine anyhow that’s become so apparent in this season.

4. God will provide.

Plant seeds throughout your years of business. They will bring a harvest when you most need it.

5. Follow a financial system (I like Profit First).

Have a game plan where you have back up savings in the event you are unable to work for a season.

6. Drop the guilt and be with your family in need.

It could be easy to mega-stress load and try to keep up with everything.  But what your family needs most is the BEST you.  Calm, confident, caring and on top of it.

7.  Don’t stop self-care.

The #1 cause of relapse for eating disorders? Parent burn out. We are simply exhausted from the treatment protocol and begin to cut corners. The eating disorder sneaks back in wherever it can.

8. These seasons bring insights that can be game changers for your business

One bright light through all of this is since my client load is smaller, I’ve been able to really pour into my How She Quits Community and launch a new membership community.

B-School launch happened throughout this time period and I intentionally set a small amount of marketing I’d do for that (some emails and posts, no ads, no lives, etc.)  And still, the right people were there and ready for it.

Having this break in “normal” work has given me perspective on what I truly enjoy the most in my business.  I am certain I wouldn’t have had that perspective if I had stayed in my normal flow of client work (even though I sincerely enjoy all of my clients!)   This is good news for my clients too because I come to them refreshed and renewed with these insights on our projects.

9. If I was still in corporate, this would be the second time I was fired in a year.

Last year we found out my dad had a cancerous brain tumor and we lost him in 10 weeks.   I spent so much time with him and mom – which is the only way I wanted it to be.  6 months later I’m in eating disorder h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

If I was still in corporate, the stress would have been unbearable. And quitting would have meant instant zero salary.  Instead, I cut back, delegated my team, had lesser revenue but let’s be realistic….I worked 15-20 hours a week max and maintained a 6 figure revenue business (plus a 6 figure non-profit).

Can I encourage you to have a plan B outside of the day job?

If you are new here, I teach that freelance work is the fastest path out of a day job

But don’t drop that dream of building a longer, slower growth online business (blog, author, speaking, online training, coaching, etc).   You can be up and running with your freelance work in 60-90 days.   That leaves flexibility to keep building your passion business on the side.

More info at “start here” and “HowSheQuits.com” or if you’re ready, join us in the Collective.


Now, set all that business talk aside for a moment.  Because you’re talking to a normal, regular, real mom who’d do anything to help her daughter through a battle like this.

For those who are walking this path, I’m praying for you.