Every day, I take a break from work around 1 p.m. I grab the leash, shoo the dogs out the door, pop in my headphones, and spend 45 minutes listening to NPR as I walk through the park. Some days I stop for a taco on the way home. I often pause to chat with my neighbors.
I live in Mexico City, famed for its chaotic sidewalks, ruthless traffic, and millions of inhabitants. But as a freelancer in a cozy neighborhood just outside of the Centro Historico, I barely notice the hustle and bustle as I take my time.
It started a couple of years ago when I decided to take up working as a freelance writer and translator so that I could be my own boss, set my own hours, and choose my own projects. I was tired of commuting to work, tired of working under inefficient managers, tired of being held back creatively in my writing.
Since then, I have added even more titles to my freelance lifestyle—including tour operator and web designer. I’m happier than ever, my skill set has expanded exponentially and I can’t imagine a better quality of life in Latin America’s biggest metropolis.
Because I choose what, how, and when I work, I often take my work along with me. Whether it’s for a few hours in a cafe…or two weeks in colonial Oaxaca…or a month in Chicago.
And my days have this beautiful flux to them, some I spend sitting at my computer buoyed by coffee for hours working on a massive project that’s fallen into my lap.
Other days, writing assignments take me out into the city, exploring its nooks and crannies and bringing them to readers in the wider world. At other times, I shift back and forth between writing blog posts, arranging food tours, pitching ideas, doing my taxes, and researching complicated recipes for dinner. Every day is a great day because I’m in charge.
My many activities are all interconnected. Working for a tour company helps me to make contacts for my translation company, writing a guide to my neighborhood has connected me to my neighborhood association, which provided a whole other network of local contacts, multiplying my freelance work.
My Mexican community involves writers, editors, community organizers, tour guides and neighbors. Some that I know face to face, others are virtually connected to me and my work through social media and online publishing. Each year I take four or five trips discovering my adoptive country and everywhere I go I find opportunities for merging my creative life and my personal life…a photo essay about the markets of Oaxaca…a luxury tour story about wineries in Baja California…a blog post about camping outside of Mexico City.
The way I spend my days is a testament to one of the realities of freelance life—that you’re always busy…which would be drag, if it weren’t so much fun!
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