Editor’s Note: In 2017, we featured a story about living life to the fullest with Hydred Makabali. After dealing with depression and agoraphobia as a result of a spinal cord injury at the age of 18, she began exploring a career in the arts and also picked up billiards as a form of “productive distraction.” Today, the Comfort Medical ambassador is still pursuing the arts in its various forms and is back to talk to Wheel:Life about how she stays balanced and healthy as a wheelchair user making a living in the gig economy.
Working in the Gig Economy
Editor’s Note: According to Dictionary.com, “gig economy” is defined as “an economic sector consisting of part-time, temporary, and freelance jobs.”
My physical health changed the way I look at work. When I was working as a full-time makeup artist, I was also dealing with some health issues. That lack of flexibility as an employee at a company made me realize doing freelance work is a better fit for me. This also prompted me to reconsider what money means to me and why I need it. I came to the conclusion that most of the time, people use money for entertainment and comfort, and truth be told, there was a point when I wanted nice things all the time. Eventually, I realized I’m a lot happier without as much money. That was a bit of an awakening, and I started to understand that materialism doesn’t equate to happiness. Now, I’m living on a comparatively meager income, but I’m doing more of the artwork I enjoy. Success and making a profit are not really on my priority list.
This life is quite long, and if I am doing a job that is banal or mundane day in and day out, there’s a small sense of insanity in that for me.
I consider myself a multipotentialite — someone with many interests, most of them being creative pursuits. I wouldn’t say I have one true calling. Labeling myself a makeup artist isn’t quite accurate because I also do commissioned artwork, special effects makeup, and play classical guitar.
Working in the gig economy gives me the flexibility to explore and utilize all of my skills and interests.
I can open myself to a kaleidoscope of jobs. I even go for gigs out of my comfort zone sometimes because it gives me a little bit of a rush.
Another advantage of doing freelance or contract work is that I set my own schedule which gives me more free time with friends and family. I can also set my rates and negotiate pay as I see fit. Overall, working in the gig economy provides more flexibility and room for artistic license, and therefore, more independence.
There are, of course, some disadvantages to being my own boss. Since I’m not working for a corporate entity, I’m not offered benefits such as health insurance or a retirement plan. Any expenses I have are out-of-pocket. Also, there’s a lot of isolation when working from home. I don’t necessarily interact with people face-to-face on a daily basis so it can be lonely at times. However, I feel like that is beneficial to me as well because I turn out the best work when I’m by myself and have a quiet atmosphere.
Tools for Staying Focused
Part of the challenge of having idle time is that it’s easy to get sidetracked. In order to keep myself in check and ensure productivity, I use Google Calendar on my cellphone. Each night, I enter every single task for the next day into it. I even include little things such as eating breakfast and taking a shower. It really helps to see items in boxes and track them. I put a red tick mark next to the tasks I’ve accomplished and an “x” next to the ones I haven’t, and then I’ll move those to the next day. I feel it’s rewarding to tick items off the calendar. That’s how I gauge the productiveness of the day.
I don’t want to come across as if I’ve got it down because there are times when I don’t follow my calendar, but I do try to keep a positive attitude by acknowledging the things I consider good. I’ll write them in the box so I remember at least I did send my rent off that day on time.
Rituals for Mental and Emotional Health
I’m an early bird, and I typically wake up around 4 a.m. to read. My interests are kind of random, but right now, I’m reading a book on Stoic philosophy. It includes themes such as character, virtue, dignity, and integrity. There are some harsh connotations as well, for instance, talks of death. A friend of mine unexpectedly passed away a few months ago, and the ideas in the book have helped me through the grieving process. One of the readings asks a question along the lines of, “Do we bury our friendships as we bury our friends?” And the answer is, no, we don’t.
We keep the memories and the love we have for that person.
Another way I stay balanced is by using free time in a productive way. When I take a break from work, I use it to brush up on my pool skills, play guitar, or catch up with a friend, for example. Not letting my free time go to waste is important to feeling productive. I know my dark side, and I know which habits are a time-waster.
It’s not easy because humans are not disciplined creatures.
When I found myself spending too much time playing Candy Crush Saga, I decided to uninstall it from my phone. When I quit smoking, I changed my lifestyle altogether which was really difficult. I also disengaged from social media because I can get easily sucked in. These are unpopular moves because they’re almost non-conformist, and as humans, we crave that sense of belonging.
Staying Physically Healthy
Maintaining physical health is number one for me because I believe emotional health can stem from being well physically. If I don’t make physical health a priority, I’ll just run amok, and it can easily get away from me. All kinds of ailments can pop up pretty easily.
One of my methods for staying physically active is going out for hikes on nature trails near my home.
It challenges me because it’s a 5.7-mile roll with several hills. I push really hard to go up a hill, then I catch my breath, and coast a little to get ready for the next hill. It’s a good amount of heave and ho.
Advice for Breaking Unhealthy Habits
Continue that destructive habit until you get tired of being tired. I could say all day long, “You should be productive. It’s great for you!” But, everybody’s got their own journey and their own path, as cliché as it sounds. At some point, people have to hit their own bottom and say, I can’t do this anymore.” So, my advice would be to continue until that behavior becomes useless for you.
Work through it because you can’t just stop out of pure willpower or good intentions. Most of us are not that disciplined.
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more Comfort Conversations with Hydred Makabali. Read the next article first by following Wheel:Life on Facebook @wheel.life.online.
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Note: The Comfort Conversations articles are for informational use only and are not intended to be construed as medical advice. Ask your doctor about issues related to your health and medical needs.
Betsy Bailey has a diverse background including experience in marketing research at American Express, business operations and client relations with 601am, travel and culinary writing with VegDining, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.
Betsy has been writing for Wheel:Life since January of 2017 and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. She also teaches students learning English as a second language, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!