Begging For Luck at a Temple in Beijing, China, 2008

It’s been a few weeks that nothing, absolutely nothing is going my way. No major disaster (phew!) but I am going through a string of little inconveniences, disappointments and failures that put a damper on everyday life.

For instance:

  • The freelance contract I have with a major client is ending and it can’t be renewed for legal reasons (nothing to do with me, it’s just the way the agreement was set up).
  • Work is slow to come and clients don’t reply to my emails.
  • Submissions I made to several websites were turned down.
  • Everything I touch either breaks, bugs, lags or has no battery when I need it (I am looking at you, Android phone).
  • Essential items from my supermarket trips (like a loaf of bread) are nowhere to be found in the shopping bags by the time I get home hungry.
  • Every time I bike downtown, I get soaked by the rain. It doesn’t rain when I leave and it magically stops when I am indoors, though.
  • Every cup of coffee I order seems to leak just to stain my clean t-shirt.

In times like these, I wish I were religious. I could complain to a god instead of reporting my latest issue to Feng (who isn’t listening anyway because he is busy watching every single live soccer game and replays in case he missed something while I was venting). If I believed in a higher power, I could go to a place of worship, light candles, burn incense, chant, pray, whatever it takes and beg for my luck back.

But I only believe in a form of karma and “pay it forward”, so I am left wondering what I did to piss off the universe. I am usually a fairly decent human being—I prevent Mark from putting his peanut butter-covered fingers on clothes in stores, I occasionally buy strangers in the lineup a coffee at Starbucks and I make sure I never use the last sheet of toilet paper (or if I do, I replace the roll). Oh, and of course, I am a great mother completely devoted to special snowflakes (i.e. I pretend I love playing “hide the ball behind the couch” over and over again), a supporting wife (i.e. I try to give Feng some quiet time to watch the World Cup) and an awesome freelancer (i.e. I make sure that sentences in my translations contain verbs).

Trying to get your luck back is exhausting. I figured I had to change something, so instead of repeating the same old routine over and over again, I biked on different roads, took Mark to new places and tried to get out of my comfort zone.

It was fun but it didn’t seem to work.

Instead of applying for normal freelance gigs I know I can do well, maybe I should go for these I-am-living-the-dream jobs, like travel writer (all expenses paid and covering only cool places, obviously), private island caretaker (ideally, I’d be the only resident) or bakery taster (“give me a bit more of this chocolate cake, I am not sure how to rate the flavour…”). Eh, who knows, maybe I would actually land one of these jobs when I least expect it.

Whatever it takes to unjinx me, really.

But first, maybe I should define what I really want. As they say, you don’t get shit you don’t ask for.


  • I want to keep on working as a freelance copywriter, translator and editor. I sincerely think I am good at my job and that I can help my clients. So yes, I’d love some new work opportunities in this field.
  • I want to keep on writing on this blog and if possible, for a wider audience. Yes, I am one of these “I’d love a book deal” bloggers. I have stories to tell and I’d love to have readers enjoy them.
  • I want a few good surprises. Whatever they are. I want to be like a kid opening a Kinder egg!

How do you get your luck back when you need it? And what do you want from life?

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  1. Silvia June 19, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I know what you mean very well! I went through such a period not long ago and it was awful. It seems to last forever, but actually it goes away the same way it came, quietly. One day you look back and realize “Oh, it’s gone. When did it happen?”.
    I think these periods are the way life (or God) uses to test our patience and make us stronger. So keep going and may it end soon! 😀

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you for sharing! I remember you mentioned going through such a phase last winter/spring. Do you find comfort in your religious beliefs in this case? Just curious 🙂

  2. cynthia June 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Have you tried pitching to the Ottawa Citizen newspaper or freelance for them?

    Sometimes I am lucky, and when I’m not, I try not to care too much.

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I haven’t actually, I have the idea that print isn’t doing so well and they probably don’t need more freelancers. Maybe I should contact them… who knows!

      1. cynthia June 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

        They’re aren’t so many journalist jobs nowadays, they rely a lot on freelancers!

        1. Zhu June 20, 2014 at 8:11 pm

          That’s true. Something to consider… thank you!

  3. I Say Oui June 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    You sometimes buy strangers coffee? That’s so nice!

    Good luck!

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Yeah, I have a Starbucks card where you get one free drink once in a while, no matter how fancy it is. I drink black coffee so I use the reward for more expensive items, a treat to Mark if he is with me… or I pay for someone’s coffee if the stranger looks like he/she needs a little surprise 🙂

  4. Holly Nelson June 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I am a big karma believer but I can’t see that you would have done anything to deserve bad luck! As the buddhists believe – there is always good and there is always bad. Just gotta keep going. Here’s hoping things turn around x

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Yes, I do believe everything is a circle… and many cycles. So I hope I can hit the next stage with more luck!

  5. Den Nation June 19, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    You have good references and a lot of experience. I’m sure that something will come along soon – Canada needs English to French translators.

    I also lost a client recently. I knew that it was coming, but I was still a bit sad about it. I’m not going to worry about getting new clients this summer, though. We’ll see what happens with my situation for next year and then I’ll re-evaluate.

    I’ve also thought about being a travel writer. Well, more about a living in Europe writer. I could offer my experiences of living in various European countries over the past 12 years. I think it’s just a pipe dream in my case, though.

    I’m curious about you writing for a wider audience. I wonder what you have in store for us?

    Either way, your blog is an excellent portfolio of your writing.

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Thank you 🙂

      It takes time in our field to develop a good relationship with a client, so losing one is like losing a friend in a way. Plus they always paid on time 😆

      1. Den Nation June 20, 2014 at 3:58 am

        Yeah, mine always paid on time and paid well. I feel your pain!

        1. Zhu June 20, 2014 at 4:49 pm

          These clients are like gold, aren’t they!

  6. Martin Penwald June 19, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    If you buy me a platinium bullion, your luck will come back !

    (hey, on a misunderstanding, it could work).

    1. Zhu June 19, 2014 at 9:13 pm

      Like I tell Mark… “Oui. Mais non” 😆

      1. Martin Penwald June 19, 2014 at 9:27 pm

        Zut, raté.

  7. Shannon June 20, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I hope your luck turns around soon!

    That’s such a good idea to define your goals. I really should do that myself instead of just floating around thinking “That could be nice”.

    1. Zhu June 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Defining what you truly want is a fun exercise, but it’s actually tough!

  8. petite yaye June 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Ça s’appelle la loi des séries !
    De mon côté, ce mois-ci je vais essayer de faire un voeu à la nouvelle lune (il paraitrait que ça marche…dan le doute… ) car on doit déménager depuis 4 ans et ça échoue à chaque fois pour des raisons diverses et variées… après il ne me restera plus que le marabout, si ça t’intéresse on pourrait lui demander un tarif de groupe !!!

    1. Zhu June 23, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Moi je dis, marabout direct (bout de ficelle…).

  9. Lynn June 28, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Just want to introduce you (virtually) to my friend Liisa Vexler – I think you might have a lot in common. She’s a big proponent of travel with kids and for the past year has been living in Costa Rica with her young family (she’s originally from Ottawa). She’s just wrapping up work on a book called the Family Freedom Project, which is about how to liberate your job from a physical location (writing/editing is perfect for this) so you can wonder the globe with your family. She’s coming back to Ottawa for the summer so this is a perfect time to meet her in person if you’re interested…at the least, check out her blog here:

    I thought of Liisa when I read this post because maybe you’d like to use your free time to actually write a book. I think you have a lot of great things to say about parenting/travel and you could think about self-publishing. I’m a huge, huge disciple of the world of self-publishing – it’s a new generation and there are SO many great benefits. Think about it!

    1. Zhu June 28, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Oh thank you! I’m in France right now so little free time (and slow Internet) but I will be sure to check her out when I come back to Canada and resume my usual digital life. 🙂

  10. chinmai hemani July 25, 2014 at 5:14 am

    Totally agree… i am in similar boat these days 😛 and thus cud correlate
    ” want a few good sur­prises. What­ever they are. I want to be like a kid open­ing a Kinder egg!” is what I want too 😛

    1. Zhu July 25, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      I hope you will find what you are looking for!

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