claire deberg minneapolis freelance writer


Here’s a story: I had my bags packed for a week of staff retreat and board meetings for an organization I work for. I purchased the right adapter for my Mac so I could project my presentation to the board of directors. I organized my home visits and wrote my docket report.

Mother-in-law was booked to serve as Super Grandma during both my work trip and while my husband was away for work, too. Schedules were printed. Doctor notes were signed.

And then it came: The Great Undoing of Claire DeBerg (veiled as a violent illness that had me pinned to the bed for 24 hours between little horrifying traipses to the toilet). I trust your acrobatic minds, dear readers, so I will not detail the horrors except to share the single-word texts I sent to my husband during fevers and The Fog of Vomit: 


It hit like a throat punch four hours before takeoff so needless to say instead of inbound I was homebound. And this is where the really good part comes: I still had my big 6-hour editorial meeting. I still presented my slick PowerPoint to the applause of the board. Thanks to Skype and FaceTime I very nearly completed a virtual roundhouse kick and knocked out the possibility of disappointing a room of important people and myself.

I have this little problem with being true to my word. I must, at all costs, be true to my word. I will stay up late to make a promised deadline. I will bribe my tween to watch The Little Brother just 1 more hour. I will not even answer my phone when my mother calls (gasp!). I will do what I can to make good on my promises (which means I am careful…not careless…when I make promises in the first place).

True, I missed out on the energy and possibility created in a group meeting. I missed out on good side conversations during breaks, obnoxious comments during downtime and connecting on a different level–benefits of in-person work. However, I didn’t promise those things. I promised to run an editorial meeting and present to the board and I did those two things (admittedly while sneaking saltines and electrolytes to stave off a possible dry heave captured on video for all to see).

The brilliance of working remotely is that I didn’t bring my bug of The Great Undoing of Claire DeBerg and pass it around to all the people I was supposed to hang with. I’m pretty sure I opened my presentation with, “You are so glad I’m not with you today.”

Freelancing has been a good lesson in communication especially since I work with people all over the world. I have a designer in Hungary, a programmer in Russia, a software engineer in Australia, a developer in Costa Rica, an app manager in Ukraine. I’ve never met any of them in person (therefore we’ve never exchanged Super Bugs, thank you very much) yet we’ve created some awesome projects together due, in part, to things like Skype. Oh and careful email communications.

What do you wish were something you could do virtually that you can’t do now?



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