healthy living

I Saw It in The Sound Wave First

Late Friday afternoon I was in my booth recoding a bunch of agent auditions that had come in. Initially I felt fine. I had completed all of my booked work and I wanted to submit a few more reads before I called it a day. I typically don’t have a lot Laura's wave form showing mouth clicksof mouth clicks when I record. I do run Izotope RX7 as part of my effects stack, which takes care of whatever clicks there are, but I tend to stay hydrated and am not so clicky, especially since I gave up caffeine. I noticed that even though my noise floor was the same as it always is, I had a crazy amount of spikes and clicks present that I do not typically see. This was 3 to 5 minutes before I became violently ill and had to run from the booth, I could see what I had no idea was about the be a horrible case of food poisoning, in my audio!

Within minutes, I had gut wrenching pain, could not stand, and was horrible nauseous. I almost fell over my puppy Daisy trying to run from my studio. It was brutal. I did make it upstairs in time, but had gone from functioning and working to completely ill and a total mess in moments. It was terrible.

The Nutrition Challenge

The food poisoning came on in the middle of a nutrition challenge I have been doing. After all, in the midst of a global pandemic, what could be more important that putting my health first? And as a working mom, staying healthy and cooking good food, and presenting an over-all healthy lifestyle for my family, is always a priority. I also find that there is a direct correlation between my food choices and the way that I sound, so this nutrition challenge was right up my alley.

Since I typically try to eat well, why was this challenge unique? Well, I had been eating a lot more raw vegetables than usual and avoiding any processed carbohydrates. I still eat carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and squash, I just have been avoiding gluten free breads, cereals, and pastas. I had also been eating A LOT of salad. When a say a lot, I mean consider a normal amount, and then for me, the past two weeks had been more than double the amount of salad eating I ever do. It had been an insane amount.

In the midst of a nationwide romaine recall in 19 states, I believe that I got profoundly ill either from romaine lettuce or from an autumn lettuce blend, the latter more likely being the culprit. Whatever the cause, after epic vomiting, I was left dizzy and with a fever that hovered around 100 for 48 hours and alternating between chills and sweats.

A Forced Rest

Laura Schreiber on Sofa with Her DogsAs a small business owner, I work all the time. Typically on the weekends I work less, but I still work at points every day. This food poisoning forced me to pause. I was not even sure on Saturday if I would be ok for my like sessions on Monday, but I know realize I will be. Talking is hard, sitting up is hard. Sometimes the forced rest is essential to get back to where we were. I guess it is an opportunity to reset- to restart. In truth I have no other option, when one is so dizzy that going up and down the stairs feels unsafe, the rest is the only option. In lieu of any work, I laid on the sofa in my den surrounded by my dogs and tried not o move at all.

The Implications

As a voice over actor, our business is our baby and it is hard to set it aside for even a moment. When you have such a profound passion, even some intense vomiting does not dampen the passion. But the vomiting makes it virtually impossible to work and to work well. To act well, we have to meaningfully engage with our copy and easily switch from role to role, whether it’s the millennial commercial voice or an engaging professional in an eLearning narration. When you cannot sit up straight and you are burping a lot, it is pretty impossible to connect with the copy and be present in the moment as your stomach is really calling all the shots. Unless you have a great character gig as a burping child, this is really not the time to be in the booth.

The opportunities that arise here are ones for communications. If any work needs to be rescheduled, it should be done right away. I was fortunate, if ever there was a time to get sick, Friday afternoon was a good one. I had time to recover. I did not miss any booked work, I did not need to move any sessions, I did not need to notify anyone of my convalesced state.  Believe me, I have had to do all of those things in the past, and you feel terrible to let a client down, so being able to work is a good feeling. I was lucky that considering how sick I got, it happened over the weekend and I will be ok.

Septembers Here…But is It Actually Easier?

Ah September. If you can actually remember what life was like pre-pandemic, September used to feel like a huge shift for us Juggling Momworking moms, with an audible sigh of relief heard from coast to coast. While having our kids home to spend time by the pool and doing crafts is a time of joy, for solopreneurs who have always run our small businesses from home, summer has always involved juggling lots of balls. This year, 2020, has presented a whole new set of challenges, and if your family is like mine, your kids are “back in school” without leaving your house. While I confess that I am enjoying the extra time I have with my teens, it does present a lot of challenges for those of us whose career depends on quiet in the recording booth. Doors slamming, thumping and thudding on the steps, random proclamations- these barely scrape the barrel of what the new normal is like. The quietude is gone and with it I have, you guessed it, more balls to juggle as both my children and my husband are now in the house. All day. Every day. So no, this September, being a working mom and small business owner it is not easier, but I do have some strategies for coping in order to ensure that my goals stay in clear focus.

Re-Establishing Work Routines and Mom Routines.

The school year is nine months long. It is extremely likely that school kids will be home through June. So, Re-establishing a daily routine and maintaining rhythm is really important. As a working mom, we always wear two hats, and we need to keep balance. If one shifts out of balance, it effects the other and life suddenly becomes uneasy. For me, aspects of my work routine include:

  • auditions
  • meditation
  • completing booked work
  • thank you notes
  • marketing/client outreach
  • invoicing

Aspects of my mom routine include:

  • cooking
  • laundry
  • grocery shopping
  • cleaning the house
  • dog responsibilities: walking, preparing and freezing kongs, etc.
  • homework help
  • amazon orders

Focusing On Wellness

In order to maintain the balance between my role as a mom and my life as a professional voice over actor, accountability in my professional career is extremely important. I have blogged before about my group, but one of our touch points is health and wellness. When we started reporting on this years ago, I did not realize that the relevance of this area would increase in Laura Schreiber Walking Two Dogsimportance. Who could have predicted a pandemic? Every day wellness is a priority, including: steaming, supplements, eating well, etc.

Walking is one of the goals I focus on in my healthy living strategy. I love walking with my dogs and we walk four to five miles a day. My beloved dogs count on the movement and frankly, as I work in a padded foam booth, I need to get out and breath the fresh air. The pandemic can be so isolating, but when we walk I talk to my husband and kids. We also run into neighbors on the street and it is such a wonderful mental break. Walking, then, provides both an emotional and a physical benefit. The walking is essential to my wellness.

Pilates is another focus of mine. After a difficult twin pregnancy, I have spent years rebuilding my core. I love that through the pilates I work on my breathing and that the workouts are total body workouts. I am learning to make connections and to listen to myself. Work as a voice over actor so much depends on connecting with people and connecting with scripts, so if I am connected with myself as a foundation of it all, I work better. At the start of every session, my instructor asks how I am feeling and for me to be aware of where my body is starting. I wish that I had people teach be to be aware of my physical state in this way when I was 12 years old. I think I would have treated myself very differently. In any event, I am thankful for this journey that I am on and pilates helps me very much.

Strategies to Support Success

As a momtrepreneur, I try to set a framework for me to thrive and to make good choices. Here are a few of the things that have helped me during the pandemic:

  • Metabolism Mojo with Betsy Markle @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/334541130558104: Betsy is a brilliant nutritionist that I happened to grow up with in Pennsylvania. She is now based in Florida and I look forward to every post, recipe, and Facebook Live. She has made our shelter in place better with her recipes. I also highly encourage you to watch her recent coffee video.
  • Daily Harvest: I am so thankful to have found this site of healthy food options. We buy the grain bowls for lunch and the smoothies as go to breakfast sides or snack options. They are delicious and having a full stock of healthy choices makes life easier.
  • Meal Plan Prep: As a devotee of the Budget Mom, I have been focussed throughout the pandemic on planning our dinners. This has enabled me to both stay within budget and to have food in the house that fits our needs and is ready. This has been a huge help. I often use this meal prep sheet that the Budget Mom shares.

Focus On Goals

“Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.” Ultimately all of this matters because working moms have goals. As a voice actor, I have spent years building my business. It isn’t about getting through September, it is about making life work so that I reach these goals for myself and for my family. If we can’t see the forest through the trees, we just won’t get where we have worked so hard to go. In the shadow of the passing of the great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we have a great torch to carry. She did it with such ease, and we must carry on for our children so that we can finish the work she set out to do.

The first spot in this compilation for Raw Juice is the spot discussed in this blog!

The Excitement of Booking the Job comes with a degree of Trust

As a full-time professional voiceover actor, I book a lot of my jobs on the casting website Voices 123 and have for many years. Every talent, whether they are new to the field or long established working actors is delighted when a booking comes in. When the above video script came in, I was pleased as it was for a large franchise and the story of the script was something that resonated with me on a personal level. I, too, have thyroid issues. I, too, work hard every day to plan healthy meal options for my family. So when this booking came my way I was both happy about the voiceover opportunity and excited about the synergy I felt.

Professional Voice Over Actor Laura Schreiber in her booth

Also, realize that I was not hired directly by the juice chain. While the owners selected my voice, ultimately I was cast for the project by the video production team. So, my actual client was the video production team.

When it came time to record, based on the rate they negotiated, I sent them several takes. Each versionI sent was edited and broadcast-ready. I received positive feedback and was delighted that they were happy. All that was left was the business end. Keep in mind this happened over about 6 hours from start to finish.

Invoicing

I sent off my invoice. As voice actors, we never know if we’ll be paid that day, in 30 days, or in the dreaded but seemingly  acceptable 90 day window. On this particular booking, there was an unusual scenario. I say this is unusual as someone who does several hundred bookings per year, typically multiple bookings per day, and has been full-time since 2015, I think I have a enough of a sample size to say that this was unusual. I am typically paid by the person or company that casts me in the spot. In this case, I was being paid by the end client. This is not standard. Right away the invoice was being passed from person to person, and almost everyone seemed to say “not it.” This was not a good sign.

Collections: What’s Normal and What’s Not

What is standard? Typically whoever hires me pays me. If it is a big job or if they are going to have repeat business I also send them a W-9 form. Most of the time it is that simple.

In the past I have offered multiple ways for clients to pay me. I have sent pdf invoices, PayPal invoices, Square invoices, and have accepted QuickPay by Zelle. It was becoming so complicated with all of the different requests that last month a client could not decide or figure out how to pay. Further, I had to make detailed notes in my CRM to remember which kind of invoice I sent out for each client.

I have now had enough of this. This month, in April 2019, I went back to my initial method of invoicing through FreshBooks. It is simple and straight forward. It is better for my clients and for me.

But back to the story about the Raw Juice debacle…

So after 90 days I was really aggravated. The nice guy who hired me had passed me off to the Juice company and they were non-reponsive. I found the folks who worked there on FaceBook and LinkedIn but how aggressive did I want or need to be? I finally direct messaged the owner who gave me his direct email. When I emailed him I ccd my husband who often acts as a manager of sorts and is an attorney in NYC. I will tell you that I was very upset that it came to this. I did the work. I did a good job. They were happy. I should have been paid.

Was that enough? No! They wanted proof that I did the work! Can you even imagine?! I sent them the invoice again with the above video. It ultimately took about 120 days and a tremendous amount of time and effort to finally get paid. I was not happy. These were not good people.

The Shocking Aftermath 6 months Later

So this week on my CRM, Voiceoverview, which I happen to love, I got a friendly reminder that I had not done a job for a little while for that producer. I decided he was nice and he had done nothing wrong so I might as well drop him a quick note to say hi and learn about what he’s working on. Would you believe after all of that, the juice company had gone back to him and said legal never approved the script and they wanted revisions and more VO! Thankfully the producer had my back and had the sense to tell them no. I took a lot away from this though… First, I was correct to trust my gut that the producer was, in fact, legit and a good guy, and was also in a tough spot. Next, when people seem like  – – -holes they likely treat everyone else that way too. Lastly, since voice over folks are often the last part of the team called in, remember that we often DO NOT know the entire story so it is best to just remain calm and do our job.