4 Summer dishes for busy freelancers

Hallo everyone,

I never thought I would write about food but food is important and freelancers sometimes skip this part because there isn’t enough time for everything.

So let’s just call this post off-topic or slightly off-topic or even a nice roundabout way to get some fresh tips for those of us (most of us? all of us?) who will be working their butts off this Summer. Frankly speaking, I am booked only till the first week of June but my memory serves me well: July has always been busy as hell. Which translates to…. rolling my sleeves up, smiling. Work is always welcome.

Today, I want to share 4 ideas for quick, fresh and healthy (the souvlaki isn’t exactly known for being healthy but it’s definitely a tasty addition to the mix) that people who work from home might find intriguing to try out before continuing to hit keys while everyone else is enjoying their mojito, swimming, soaking up some sun, having fun, dancing under the moon.

You know. The usual stuff you hear or read about while you work on a deadline in the hot days of Summer.

Now let’s treat that freelancing palate:

1. Wilted Kale and Coconut salad

I can’t hide my passion for coconuts and exotic fruits. Apples are okay if they are Granny Smith and oranges are great when you drink a fresh juice but I prefer coconuts, pineapples and avocados. Another fruit I really like is watermelon but only if it’s particularly sugary. For an interesting way to use coconut in a dish, I find this recipe very interesting. Not just delicious but seems it’s a salad that can fill you up. I haven’t tried it to be honest but I would love to.

2. Prosciutto Crudo with Melon

This is a typical Italian starter but when it’s hot, it’s cool. I mean, it’s a pretty cool idea as it combines the nutrients of meat with the freshness of fruit. To make this, all it takes is some creativity as there isn’t an actual recipe. The secret is a fabulous presentation so before starting to wonder where goes what, google “prosciutto e melone” and get inspired. You can also make skewers like these here!

3. Spinach and Feta Cheese pie using puff pastry

So easy to make if you buy a ready-made pasta sfoglia (puff pastry) and fill it with sprinkled feta cheese, add the spinach, some olive oil, no salt, pepper and parsley, wrap in the form of an envelope and cook for 15-20 minutes according to your oven. You can do variations of the theme by just making feta cheese pie or add more greens. I have found this recipe on You Tube that I recommend you watch. The process seems to be the ideal one. Go for it and let me know.

4. Souvlaki aka Small Skewers of Pork

Souvlaki is for all seasons. If marinated and grilled properly – and provided the meat is of excellent quality – it will make you drool (and go book a holiday in Greece). It’s vital that you let the skewers marinate overnight and that you grill them well. First 10-15 minutes on high flame on both sides, then lower the fire and keep turning them around. Cook them well, letting them become dark brown around the edges. Follow this recipe here.

Buon appetito!

M.

image credit popsugar.com

Being a freelancer and a mom is a double act of (crazy) courage

Dear all,

You often hear about “work life balance”, juggling life and kids, trying to fit everything into 24 hours and into a lifetime. Most of it is true. Actually it’s more than true. We all do need to have balance even if in effect it’s not balance that we are targeting at when waking up in the morning to prep our kids for school. We do what needs to be done. If we are lucky to have “balance”, it will show later.

I am not so sure if terms such as “juggling” and “balance” can best describe what freelancing with kids is. I would go for other terms. It is an act of courage, patience, strong will, fearlessness and maybe a bit of craziness.

Parenting teaches us

Actually, this crazy and fearless nature of parenting can show us ways to develop our business skills as freelancers not to mention that parenting can be a school of adults. With lots of exercises! Parenting represents a mirror of your psyche because it is through raising your kids that you get to really “see” who you are. And it is through parenting that you learn to “undo” or improve aspects of your personality.

Freelancers are no ordinary parents.

There are moms who juggle a job in the office with kids, moms who juggle a highly demanding career with a personal life without kids and ….there are women who juggle freelancing with kids. And for some reason, I think the latter is the most challenging of all because it means two unpredictable roles into one.

Freelancing with kids entails unpredictability

Unpredictability, work wise, usually has to do with overlapping and/or urgent projects, replying to urgent requests, receiving work from new clients (add your own). Unpredictability with kids… well, if you are a parent and you read this you know the drill.

But unpredictability is only a piece of the pie. Maybe a big one but the more time goes by, the more I realise that freelancing and kids entails another “risk” for moms who love to work and want to run their own business from home.

The need to do things

It’s the risk of doing too much and at the same time the risk of having people expect too much from us. Because they know we want to help. And we want to. It’s a genuine interest. They know we always squeeze time in. Until one day we see reality with bare eyes. But it’s not their fault. It’s us and our perfectionism.

That’s how – I humbly believe – you can at least remotely approach the issue of balance. By doing something about doing too much! And you need to start from yourself. The people around us, our clients, family, friends cannot be in the position to see that you are doing “un passo più lungo della gamba” (bite off more than you can chew) unless you put a stop to it. For example, it’s been a while I started emailing my translations very late in the evening so that they can be in my client’s inbox next morning. I do it for a specific practical reason but this way I also let them indirectly know that I am doing what I can so they can be more… gentle with delivery dates. :) I think it works.

The image others have of freelancing moms

And what is it that people think we do? We freelancing moms sometimes get to be labelled as doing a bit of freelancing while raising our kids. Try tell this to that mom who delivered a translation at 11.59am which was due 12.00 after a very hectic day involving proofreading another text, prepping her kid for school, taking the laundry at the self-service laundry, replying to emails. Sounds crazy. And still, some parents do it.

I get the impression that by the “naturally blendable” nature of the two roles, we come off (not by everyone of course) as “moms that do some freelancing too”. But if this is the case, we are at least recognised as women who work full-time as moms! This type of recognition doesn’t happen everyday…

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in Italy freelance translators don’t have their own pension fund but pertain to the infamous “gestione separata” which translates to…. paying the highest rate for social contributions because (this is my own interpretation) we are deemed as people doing some freelancing on the side and not a real job.

A freelancer’s “full-time” job

Guess what! Freelancing can be a full time job and worst (full time is usually 8 hours a day while some of us work 10-18 hours a day). A mom can be freelancing (e.g. translating) from 9am to 5pm and then from 10pm till 2am, during weekends, while being sick and this isn’t freelancing on the side.

Of course, some of us may well start “on the side” whether we have kids or not.

But eventually our business grows. We grow, our business grows and our kids grow too.

Not courageous enough?

Along the way, we need to have a huge amount of courage. Personally speaking, I have a lot of work to do in this department. I am not sure if I am courageous enough for all this. Crazy enough yes but not courageous enough. But I try.

One day you might even find yourself say “Today it was cool. Today I didn’t run too much”, while enjoying a cup of coffee looking at the sea from the balcony of your dream house. That is when you might find yourself doing a bit of freelancing. Who knows?

A presto!

– Share your thoughts! Do you also feel that you need more courage to face it all? How do you find it?

image from dinfo.gr

Cosmetics: Translating for a beautiful yet demanding industry

Dear all,

Another quick post between deadlines and amidst dreams of a holiday on a Greek island (not happening) or any other nice place even for just three days. Which translates to… I should be taking that much needed long break away from the computer screen.

I recently started working with a client in the beauty industry and I must admit I have often found myself surfing the net looking and cross-checking terms that obviously are to be found on beauty, fashion and make-up sites. IATE and Linguee excluded. The more I translate or review texts for a variety of beauty products, the more I realise how challenging and intriguing it is to recreate the wording in Greek.

These are the difficulties I encountered:

  • The Greek wording for beauty products tends to call for action orientated more towards emotion and a bit less on facts. Information is provided but it is kept to the basics. On the other hand, the description in Italian covers both aspects. On Italian fashion and beauty brand sites there seems to be more accuracy and details when describing a product, what its benefits are and how to make the best out of it, whereas Greek sites tend to focus a lot more on the result and the final impact. Maybe I am wrong but this is the vibe I am getting so far.
  • The writing style is quite different. Most Italian beauty sites express the concept of a product in a more formal tone than the sites in Greek. The Italian wording is clear, powerful and emotional but at the same time there is a lot of explaining. Nothing is missed. Actually there is sometimes “more” than necessary with repetitions that you will not find either on the English or Greek version of a given product.
  • Not all multilingual beauty sites are available in Greek. This means that some of the terms I look up are not always easily found and I need to go in various round about ways to determine the right or best possible translation. Good cosmetics sites include Maybelline, Pupa and Chanel.

And this is what I do:

  • Translate as accurately and as faithfully as possible by making sure that nothing is missed or overlooked while giving emphasis to rewriting the text as if it was written for the Greek audience. What sounds clear and neat in Italian could potentially sound “stiff” and even irrelevant in the target language. This is one pitfall one should be cautious of.
  • Mediate between the two writing styles, between the formal and more accurate way of the Italian source text and the more creative and capturing style that I know that people in Greece (or who read Greek) would expect to read.
  • Ask the client should something is not clear. This is a practice to follow in all cases anyway but it is always a pleasure to see that clients are willing to support a translator’s work.
  • Read more beauty and fashion sites in Greek and Italian and subscribe to interesting newsletters so that news from this industry get right into my inbox. Some valuable sites in Greek are MadameFigaro, real.gr, jenny.gr.

Conclusion:

Things you really enjoy doing can sometimes prove to be particularly demanding. There is a lot of beauty inside “difficult packages”, after all.

M.

The #xl8cr8 project

translation inspiration I need to stop working to make this announcement.

About a year ago me and Ela Hoffman e-met on Twitter. We talked about things we felt warmly about, things we had in common. Most importantly, creativity and art. We noticed patterns that translators follow online and offline and we felt impelled to join forces and create a project which would explore how translation and  creativity intersect and more.

A project began to take shape, evolve. The enthusiasm shared by a number of translators and interpreters is our driving force. Which translates to… immense gratitude for their support. I do not think I would have the courage to write this post here if it wasn’t for them.

To find out more about the Translators / Creators project, visit the site: xl8cr8.com.

If you work with languages, you may wish to fill out the survey right here.

Results will be shared with everyone.

For information on the book I am writing ( as part of the project) called “Translation and creativity: connecting the dots”  please go here.

To get a “first” taste of the xl8cr8 concept, check out this post I wrote on Globalme. It is called: 7 Ways Professional Translators Share their Creativity with the World

In this project I play a writing part while Ela is doing the designing (by the way, she is the one who designed the font and the logo) and she is also involved in writing.

Back to translation!

M.

Some thoughts on how to shape your ideas into projects

Dear all,

These last few days were pretty creative. Not hectic but creative and with small and diverse projects. I am working on a small fashion translation (into Greek) for one of my favourite Italian brands, whereas the one I delivered last week was about parenting. What’s more: today my colleague Ela and I announced the launch of the Translators / Creators project which I will be presenting on the blog soon because it deserves a whole post.

Today I want to share some thoughts on projects and ideas.

The more I write and the more I elaborate my favourite topics, the more I am enthralled by how these ideas and topics can evolve.

It would seem that for every idea, there is an appropriate project, a potential transformation into something more concrete and meaningful both for you and for others.

That is how I came up with the course “How to create time for your business side projects”.

I was not aware that what I was doing was taking an idea (time management) elaborating it (through personal experience with a side project) and finalising it with the creation of a course.

Since the day I started working on the course, a lot of “side project” work has been taking place! The course itself, as I mentioned here is inspired by the challenges of freelancing. But there is more. A lot of the ideas in the course sprung from the Translators / Creators project aka #xl8cr8 I mentioned before.

But I want to take a step further and look at the “ideas to projects” process.

1. Solutions (projects) are practically right under our nose. You just have to keep your eyes open. The other day I was over to a translator’s website and I saw what has been there all the time “under my nose”. I then Ianded on the website (through WordPress reader) of another translator and my “idea” just clicked. I connected the two “dots” and I think I am getting closer to shaping my ideas with a view to create the projects I am so much looking forward to.

2. Some ideas have a limited potential but they can still be pursued. For me, this is what I have been experiencing with slogan contests. Writing taglines for a wide spectrum of companies is good exercise for a creative mind but they are not what I would call a real diversification for a linguist or writer. It can only be “shapeable” into something bigger if you work in a creative company that provides this type of service along with marketing and campaign material for their clients. Or if you become famous for writing Pepsi’s tagline. But they have a team for that.

3. For every idea, there is the right project. Start writing down your thoughts and you will see whether they are “shapeable” into something bigger or not. I have found out that writing and putting your thoughts on paper, shows you whether there is a “dead end” or not. I think that most ideas have the potential to be shaped into a project or similar but perhaps not as big as you want it to be. For example, an inspirational phrase can be limited to a quote you can use for your site to attract clients, to share with friends on social media or it can be elaborated for a book or become a chapter of a book.

4. Work on your ideas until you see them materialise. Today I started making notes for a new course in an Excel sheet (that was awkward). Of course at some point, I decided to move everything into PowerPoint. Something unpredictable happened. The course idea developed just because it acquired a new “setting”. I added and removed lots of little clouds, boxes and arrows and I am getting there. And even if I don’t, at least I have taken a step forward. On top, I recalled another idea I had kind of archived in my mind and created another slide. I will try not to be confused but working on more than one project is fine with me.

5. The “idea to projects” process is only a fragment of the bigger picture. I realised this as I was making the draft of the course with the clouds and arrows I was telling you about before. Sometimes you need to start from “thinking small” in order to wake up and see that your ideas or even your projects are only a means to something greater and more meaningful. This means getting out of your comfort zone and into a new zone, a new dimension.

6. Trendsetters are go getters. Talking of a new dimension, have you seen the film “Interstellar”? That “5th dimension” had a bit of an impact on me. What we are currently witnessing in the digital world is bound to fade away and loose its initial charm while going out of fashion. Those who have had a tremendous success are the trendsetters and the early adopters (usually with the funds but not always). It is a wise to learn from the best but it is wiser to tap into what could evolve into the adoption of a new idea.

Self-paced online course “How to create time for your business side projects” now available on Proz

create time for business side projects translators time management course

Hallo everyone,

I am pleased to announce that one of my writing projects has now been concluded!

How to create time for your business side projects is a self-paced online course with a dual purpose:

  • Identify your ideal side project & find ways to allocate time to it

This is a very practical and straightforward course with exercises to help you understand yourself and your current situation better and put things into perspective. Which translates to… a course that could give you the right motivation for your side project plans!

More about the course:

This course guides you through a process that helps you take a good and honest look at how you spend your time. If you have side projects you want to dedicate your time to but feel that there is a lot of pressure from your main professional activity (e.g. translation), this course could help.

How you use your time is up to you. Some things are not necessary, others are just distractions that do not help you work on your projects. You may have to do some compromises.

Think of a garden full of weeds. You need to remove them if you want your flowers to blossom.

Who is it for:

  • Freelancers with another activity / business on the side
  • Creatives / freelancers / entrepreneurs who want to find and dedicate time to a side project
  • Freelancers who are parents
  • Busy freelancers
  • Freelancers who want to review their social media activity

The course is available on Proz.com HERE and it is offered in various formats. Choose the one that suits you best. Should participants need further assistance, I will be delighted to help.

On more personal note:

This course has been developed in view of how hectic and challenging freelancing can be and how it might be easy to get lost in social media and all the information we are inundated by. Freelancing constitutes a challenge also because we are all exposed to the patterns of success of other freelancers and entrepreneurs and we often forget what our own innate talents are. Your side projects need to reflect your personality, skills and aspirations.

a presto!

M.