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Finding an upside in a down time

1284454812 98 Finding an upside in a down timeBy MARILEE CROCKER September 05, 2010

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — Well, aren’t I the lucky one? I’m writing this column from the “Quietside” of Mount Desert Island, just down the road from Acadia National Park.

The setting of my temporary home office here is over-the-top beautiful. If I shift my gaze just 20 degrees to the right of my computer screen, I am rewarded with a view of rocky shoreline and the islands and ocean beyond.

This ever-changing scene (foggy today) is framed by tall fir and spruce trees and shaggy yellow and white wildflowers. Screeching seagulls, a clanging bell buoy, the rumble of surf hitting rock and, depending on time of day, the thrum of diesel-powered lobster boats provide the audio.

A longtime lover of the Maine coast, I have been pinching myself black and blue at the good fortune that landed me here for four weeks this summer.

Yet this good fortune is due in part to what you’d have to call bad fortune in my professional life. had my freelance writing and editing business been operating at full-speed, I could never have accepted a friend’s offer to stay in her family’s cottage here.

Being un-gainfully underemployed these past 18 months has been no picnic, but it has had its upsides. this Maine idyll is among the sweetest of these. Yet there have been professional benefits too, such as having time to pursue new business directions and to work on a long-neglected book project.

This week I asked home-based business owners via e-mail if they too had discovered gifts in the slowdown.

Pat Morley, a web and graphic designer in Pocasset, found her reward in “actually having time” to update her website, tune up her skills, organize administrative tasks, upgrade software programs and network professionally.

Marsha Marsiglio of the Software Coach, which she operates out of her homes in both East Falmouth and Naples, Fla., said she’s reading and traveling more; sticking to an exercise schedule, rather than just “fitting it in,” and keeping up with never-ending changes in computer technology.

Maryellen R. Kelley, who in 2008 launched Hi-Def Photo Imaging from her home in Truro, said that in previous periods of underemployment she spent “extra time” on home improvement projects, such as building an outdoor patio.

This time around, Kelley, an economist and consultant, has focused on growing her new business while “juggling credit card debt, mortgage payments, etc.,” and finding ways to trim living expenses.

In early 2009, when it became clear I was about to be freed from the stress of constant work deadlines — and from the luxury of a steady income — I stuck a Post-It on my computer with this question: how do I want to use this gift of time?

The note reminds me that someday — soon, I hope — I will look back longingly on a period when I had the freedom to accept serendipitous gifts such as a month in Maine and to explore new directions in my professional and creative life.

For now, I tell myself that the opportunities born of today’s adverse business climate are sure to yield unforeseen fruits.

Marilee Crocker is a freelance writer and editor who lives in Brewster. her column about home-based business runs the first and third Sundays of the month. You can reach her at . and follow her blog at marileecrocker.wordpress.com. Copyright 2010

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