balance · blogging · Christmas · creativity · fatigue · finding your way · freelance translation · freelancing · inspiration · projects · side projects · translation · writing · writing projects

An eye operation, a book, a fainting episode or saying goodbye to 2016

close up ragazza

 

It’s been a while I haven’t written on my blog. I kind of owe it to myself to write one last piece for the year about to end. Which translates to… trying to account for my mental whereabouts since April. I think I will just focus on the present.

First of all, I have a confession to make. I was thinking of abandoning this blog (and perhaps start a new one some time in the future) as I thought of blogging as an interference with everything else. That is why I haven’t written in 8 months. I gave priority to other things. And I got some pretty cool results, as you will find out if you patiently read along. I trust you will.

What did I learn from this blogging hiatus? Love for writing cannot be an interference with life. And when it does, you take a break.

Taking a break from writing has been impossible, though. The year 2016 has been a good one for me because I have finally finished and published my book Tapping Into Translators’ Creativity. Incredible. I did it. I got there, before the end of the year.

And this is one item off the list, my wish list, my writing wish list. The book is out for the world to read. That’s all I wanted. My exclusive relationship with the manuscript has ended.

A few days prior to the big day of my book’s release, my 7 year old went through an eye operation. I had hoped to avoid being busy with work before and after the operation and, fortunately, nothing major (that I could not manage) happened. Besides the book. I wanted the book to go live before the end of the year and considering it was impossible to have everything ready before December, it had do be right before Xmas and… a few days after the operation.

Theoretically speaking, being ready to publish isn’t exactly the best way to describe the end of a writing journey. The writing journey never ends. Right now, I am thinking of ways the book could be even better. But projects need a deadline and I gave me one.

I will make a tiny parenthesis here to say that in my book I speak of deadlines and of writers and translators. The writers featured in this respect are Tracy Chevalier who wrote her book Girl With a Pearl Earring on a 9-month (biological) deadline and Fyodor Dostoevsky who wrote The Gambler on a 1-month deadline because of an agreement he had with the publisher. Money problems. Inspiring stories we all need to know about. Us whose life is determined by deadlines.

And there I was at the hospital after the operation, fainting. Because of fear, of concern, of love. And because I have a low blood pressure. Let’s be realistic. I know what it means to go through an eye operation, as I went through one myself. But when it happens to someone so close to you, the feelings are just incomparable.

The nurses were nice to their patient (and to me). They gave me tea. I still need to arrange an appointment with my doctor to talk about this, when I am done with a couple of translations, when I am done with 2016. Here’s another deadline for me. See?

I wish you a happy new year and lots of interesting things to pursue!

balance · creativity · fatigue · freelancing · lost in translation · mom · Summer

4 Summer dishes for busy freelancers

I never thought I would write about food but nutrition is important especially for freelancers who often find themselves having to skip meals to meet deadlines. Not to mention, not getting enough sleep…

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

balance · tips for freelancers · translation · twitter · work life balance · writing

Chickenpox, headache, a walk in the park and the meaning of it all

thomson memorial park
Nature as a setting for some “me time”, for recharging and connecting with yourself and with people.

 

Dear friends and readers,

During April, there was a week or two that I had it tough. I had a headache that took a few days to go away and this was after my 4 year old went through chickenpox so part of it was due to not having slept properly for at least a week.

But it wasn’t just that.

What made my headache worse was that I immediately started working on a translation that came in during the end of the period that my kid was home. Taking no time to do something about the headache and having no alternatives, I proceeded with the translation in hand hoping that my headache would go away.

Taking a break from parenting or freelancing (the two go hand in hand) is always a mission impossible, unless it’s for a couple of hours and always during the week while my kid is at school – which isn’t really a break – so I knew deep inside that this was a “normal” situation that I just had to endure.

Chickenpox is part of the process.

Having spoken with other parents, I was happy that my four year old had it now and not later. I heard of moms and dads who went through chickenpox along with their kids and it was a horrible experience for them.

Back to the headache now.

As I went along translating and doing all the other things I needed to do I kept realising that it’s impossible for someone not to be able to take a break. A break from the computer. Because it’s the computer that I blame for that headache. Well, not exactly the computer but you know what I mean. After intense translation work or an intense period of whatever (chickenpox) you need a break from it to help you see clearly.

Thing is I usually never take a break from it (not until when the chickenpox bout as you will see later). And besides translation work, I have other projects going on (let’s call it “writing, rewriting and deleting”). I don’t have a strict daily writing schedule but if an idea pops up (and it just so happens that ideas spring up while translating), I will write it down regardless of headaches, slight aches ..and other minor or major events.

So if I wasn’t translating, I was writing. But besides writing, there’s the temptation of Twitter which I have covered previously in the post How freelancers (and Twitter enthusiasts) can tame the #procrastination beast.

About Twitter. Even if I believe in its power and its magic in finding like-minded spirits that in real life and in your neighbourhood would have been impossible to locate, you need to know how and when to draw the line. That line that reminds you that you are not dedicating enough time to your side projects.

I decided it was time to find that golden line, hold it well, keep it straight and never let go.

After that translation was delivered, I took a long walk in the park with a friend and it was great. I kept my phone in the car. That felt even better.

That walk was like an antidote to everything that happened to me during the chickenpox period and afterwards. It was a revelation. I actually went to walk three times with my friend along with other people who joined us. Walking in the park with others is priceless. It’s also a time to connect with people offline and not just to connect with yourself.

That’s why the experience was something to write about.

Which translates to… taking a break from translating in order to write.

To write about headaches of course and about how crucial it is to take a break from it all, to let yourself experience something completely different, to embrace a state of mind that is pure, that is light, that nurtures you physically, that gives you food for thought.

Thought that removes those 140 character boundaries of tweets from our life.

That wasn’t a normal headache. It was a warning. An opportunity to finally do something different.

Walk in the park or go on the swing with your kids (I do it often – oops, did I hear a squeak?).

If you don’t have time to drive to parks you would love to go to or different locations do something different in the place you go to on a daily basis.

The baby park has tremendous possibilities. I get to talk with moms, read Dostoyevsky (a few paragraphs each time will suffice) and take notes.

The name of the game is less online and more offline, less tweeting and more working. I’m sure there are many of you out there that feel the same way. Share your thoughts.—

Thank you for reading…

A presto,

Magda

balance · movement · productivity · translators · work

Changing our movement habits in our everyday activities with the Alexander technique

 

Today a post on Olga Arakelyan’s blog Your professional translator had me thinking. It reminded me of how much I used to dance and the dance courses I attended in the past and so forth. One of the things, I vividly and passionately recall is the Alexander Technique.

And I just had to write something about it.

Continue reading “Changing our movement habits in our everyday activities with the Alexander technique”

balance · finding your way · freelancing · inspiration · tips for freelancers

The “bohemian” freelancer

tumblr_lu85mf4mre1r1qrlfo1_500

 

It seems that all freelancers want to do more. It comes with the job description.

We are eager to use our time more effectively, create time for outdoor activities, establish a better online presence, do all sorts of other things that make us happier.

For those of us who have children, reaching our goals comes with a lot of juggling, sleepless nights and constant interruptions.

Those impediments coupled with the uncertainty of the freelance life charge our batteries and make us want to do more.

But we know we can’t do everything.

And the moment comes when we realise that we must set priorities.

Not easy in an era where distractions are part of our lives.

But what if we were to look at things in a ….somewhat bohemian way?

STOP THINKING OF WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU

In 1862 the Westminster Review described a Bohemian as “simply an artist or littérateur who, consciously or unconsciously, secedes from conventionality in life and in art”.

Bohemians do unconventional things. They think in other patterns. They are not told how to think.

Above all, they are not scared of WHAT OTHERS THINK of them which translates to doing it their way through severe, sweet and spontaneous PERSONALISATION.

(note to self: STOP thinking of what others think of me)

Freelancers, whether they want it or not, must think outside the box trying to set a very personal path inside a foggy reality. They must be unique. They must always stay focused. The fog is always out there to impede them from traveling along their beloved route 66. The fog can and will sweep them away if they are not concentrated.What I mean by concentrated is knowing what MATTERS to you. It means not getting LOST in secondary activities but following a pattern that respects your priorities.

And what the heck do priorities have to do with doing it bohemian style?

It does.

I will give you an example and then you can tell me if I am wrong or right.

Or crazy.

A BOHEMIAN SPIRIT WHO CROSSED MY PATH

I have once met a mom of 3 who even if she could financially afford to have a baby sitter and three cleaning ladies, she chose to do it all by herself. She wasn’t working when the kids where small but raising 3 kids and managing a huge house (size of a mansion – not joking) is busy enough.

She did things her own way. She was in fact considered a bit eccentric. She refused to play the role which society would love to impose on her. She was so fast I would never be able to be compared with her. Even the day I translated 6000 words, I am still slow compared to her. She once got out of the house with completely wet hair not worrying if she would catch a cold. She came by my house to pick up her mobile phone she had forgotten there. She also used to iron her stuff seated. I learned that from her. She placed her coffee mug next to the pile of clothes and kept ironing.

Bohemian indeed.

And remember: Some people THOUGHT she wasn’t exactly normal.

FINDING THE BOHEMIAN IN YOU

This woman had a lot on her plate. I don’t know if she made lists. But she somehow prioritised. She knew what to do first. Aware of what she had to put aside. Prioritising was natural to her. That’s why she was no victim of distractions.

Living such hectic lives with so much to deal with coming from all corners and departments, she became equipped with ways-to-do that go far beyond your conventional lists and strategies.

You can’t be conventional if your life isn’t conventional.

You let yourself open up to natural ways of coping with life.

If you think there’s a bohemian in you dying to get out keep reading.

(if you are still there)

WHY CHOOSE A BOHEMIAN STYLE

The other day I decided to write down a very severe schedule of things to do throughout the day. And I did that because I was jealous of the lady of Case #2. I was sick of the pile or ironing and reaching the end of the day tired without having accomplished much.

But I was missing the point!

What I needed wasn’t a rigid schedule. What I needed was to find my own pattern. Yes, some of the things those two women did could be taken into account but they would never imply that I should do what they do. Their lifestyle is so different than mine.

Needless to say my rigid schedule was a disaster!

Why?

1.   I made a double payment of taxes which is hard (but not impossible) to get back

2.   I postponed an important appointment with a technician for no obvious reason (everything worked out fine in the end)

3.   I forgot other things I normally don’t forget

The only positive thing about my schedule is that I have finally managed to change my sleeping hours (and those of my daughter’s) and this is a huge VICTORY.

But I need a bohemian daily course of action (not a written one). I am not sure how to set it up but maybe that flexibility is part of being bohemian!

I need a schedule that isn’t a schedule. I need something that reflects my personality and if this sounds like you maybe reading this post was a good thing.


– What do you think? Would bohemian style work for you? Any ideas of how freelancers can create patterns and schedules which work for them without feeling entrapped in non-productive conventional ways-to-do?

balance · finding your way · freelancing · motivation · procrastination · time management · twitter · work

How freelancers (and Twitter enthusiasts) can tame the procrastination beast

{What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.}

Procrastination.

A popular topic.

A normal human condition.

Here’s what. I will be viewing procrastination as a beast that wants to eat you alive.

Just joking.

Perhaps I should try to be a bit softer around the edges.

Procrastination is a beast you have to kill now.

Too strong?

Let me give it another go.

Procrastination is a BAD AND UGLY BEAST that prevents you from doing the BEAUTIFUL THINGS YOU WANT to do.

I think this sounds better.

Now.

I can’t wait to share with you one edgy way to stop putting things off. Things that mean something to you. Starting ~which translates to…~ blog was one of those things. So bear with me and I will tell you how I did it.Maybe you want to try it out too.

There’s one thing you should always remember.This beast is BAD. It’s stronger than you. And it has many friends.One of those friends, my friends, is TWITTER.

FIGHT THE PROCRASTINATION BEAST THROUGH WORK & LESS TWEETING

Are you spending too much time on Twitter (or other social media) during work or after finishing a project?

(there’s no way of this thing working unless I also talk about Twitter).

If you are a procrastinator, spending too much time on social media can make things worse.

I am not saying that in order to fight the procrastination beast, you should stay away from Twitter or your favourite social media platforms.

(that could actually help a lot though and you know it)

I’m saying that while you will be trying to fight procrastination, you are going to be facing procrastination’s BEST FRIEND. Social Media. So, we will have to take that friend into consideration.

This unusual way of fighting the P. beast and its friend can be summarised this way:

Fight procrastination + Control your social media addiction + Get work done + Do the things you love.

The whole package.

You see, I did it.

Me. Someone who has been putting off having a writing blog for almost two years. Someone who was writing drafts of posts and other stuff on her smartphone and a folder on the computer collecting digital dust.

Yes. Me.

You see, if you are not working, or if you are not very busy, it’s likely that you will don’t feel the pressure of running out of time which translates to spending more time on Twitter (or other social media platforms.)

However, there is one thing I want to emphasize here.

I don’t believe that people that spend a lot of time on Twitter on a daily basis are necessarily people who aren’t busy. They can actually be terribly busy but they also love to spend time on Twitter.And when you love doing something, you do CREATE TIME for it, don’t you?

If you are sending 20-30 tweets a day it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing else to do. It could mean that you are multi-tasking and you are doing YOUR WORK and you are CONNECTING with others.

But what if combining WORK + SOCIAL MEDIA isn’t helping you overcome procrastination?

What if there was a way to fight procrastination, do what you want and need to do and send tweets too?

(but not too many tweets and probably not on a daily basis)

Interested?

Keep reading.

(if you are still with me, that is)

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER

As I mentioned earlier, it took me nearly two years to start this blog.

The moment I started pursuing it, I kept getting more translation work. There was no way I could get down to seriously start my blog project because I constantly had to shift my attention to urgent work (with translation almost everything is urgent). There was no time management that could help me, no praying for time as the song goes.

I was also writing another rather demanding blog and co-writing on another which is partially “to blame” for postponing my writing blog. Still, the idea here is that it was ME who was doing this to MYSELF. Excuses or no excuses.

Basically, I was in a rut that went something like this:

Translation work + family + errands + other blogs + calls and emails from friends + more translation work + family + household chores + other blogs

& so forth

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

And here’s the deal:

The increase of translation work helped me kill my procrastination habit.

What?

(if you are still here, please continue reading)

KILLING THE BEAST SOFTLY

The more you make promises to yourself or create insane to-do lists, the less likely it is to find the time to stick to your plans. If things keep coming up and if freelance life is so unpredictable, you are going round in circles.

What you need to do is be flexible. Don’t go against the tide. Go along with it.

I was unaware that I was finally finding a way to get on with my blog project. And I did this through translating. I guess this was the only or best way for me. I kind of need a challenge to get to do things. It might not work for you so don’t try this at home unless you love taking risks. Or trying different things.

This blog was created while translating on some crazy deadline.

Instead of waiting until my project was over, I started this blog. Because I knew that once my translation work would be over, I would be dragging this tired body for a NAP.

And I was completely unaware that I was coming up with a “way” to fight procrastination. Well, at least my way.

KILLING THE BEAST SOFTLY. WARMING UP

(please follow these steps in this order)

1. Focus on your work but don’t “forget” about your project.

2. Between “breaks” or periods without work, “think” about what you want to do without doing anything. Yes, do absolutely nothing. But make notes about it. Make it even more desirable. Lay out a plan on how you wish to proceed or be totally relaxed and just write down your thoughts and feelings. Why is this project so important to you? Is it important to you? Why do you put it off?

3. Do your job (for me it was translation) and, gradually, every time you have a “break”, look at your notes. Rewrite things so you are convinced that this is something you really want. (I have filled half a diary with these notes about my upcoming blog and other projects. I had to give up on some of them)

4. Go back to paid work. Work that pays the bills. Your project can wait. Give time to your project to simmer. See how much you want it.

5. Let your job “take the best of you”.

In the meantime, try to spend less time on social media. Continue sending tweets but don’t overdo it. If you can, tweet about your project. If you prefer not to, set a maximum of 4 tweets a day for 3 days.

Tough?

I know.

KILLING THE BEAST

1. Start simple. Let’s say you want to apply to a magazine you have been reading for a while for an article submission. Create a new email. Get the email address and the name of the person to address your query to. Start writing the first paragraph. If the beast is trying to bite you, refuse to give up. Stick to your guns. At least, finish the first paragraph. One finished sentence could induce another sentence. Or a hundred more.

2. If along the way you have a job assignment, all you need to do is focus on your assignment. Of course. But you are not anxious anymore about having done nothing for your project.

3. You promise to yourself that the moment you deliver the job to the client, you will get back to your project. If you feel like it, go take a peek at what you wrote or started. Add another piece to the mosaic. Just one. Add more pieces to the mosaic. You can do it while working or tweeting.

4. Add more pieces to the mosaic. You can do it while working or tweeting. But you PROCEED. You combine things. You control things. You control your LIFE. You might not get there very soon but you will.

Procrastination.

A normal human condition.

And with social media it could get worse.

But not necessarily.

Magda

balance · fashion · finding your way · life lessons · money

What a coveted high heeled pair of green shoes can teach you about balance

{Why say no to lovely shoes
you can afford?}

 

It’s funny how a pair of shoes – yes, shoes – can bring back to mind a whole chapter of your life and urge you to write on a topic that has nothing to do with shoes or fashion.

Things occur for a reason. Some of these things can change our lives.

Think of all the decisions you have made that brought you where you are today.

That’s because you acted upon certain events and circumstances.

But what about all those things you did nothing about? You might not have any regrets (and that’s healthy) but what if those things could have been your route to more happiness and better balance.

The reasons for not acting are plenty such as lack of self-esteem or will power, fear of the unknown, being too busy, being too in love with the wrong person etc.

I’ll get to the “shoes” in a moment…

Knock. Knock.

Sometimes happiness knocks on our door. If we are lucky enough, happiness will come back and knock for a second time. If we are that lucky.

But for some reason, we don’t act upon that feeling of immense happiness and we therefore send people away or we take them for granted (until they eventually forget we exist) or we don’t pursue something (hobby, job, travel etc) that we desire wholeheartedly. We continue working and living on a busy schedule or a mediocre relationship or keeping up appearances because we are afraid to call the shots, take risks, ride the panther, make a phone call, book a trip to Florence and so forth.

You had your chance.

But you left the door shut.

Happens to everybody…

THE SHOE STORY

Before I went freelance, I was working in an office in an area somewhere in Milan. During lunch, I used to go to a Centro Commerciale (Mall) to buy food, try clothes on, sometimes buy clothes and so forth. One of my favourite shops was Zara.

One day there they were. A pair of spectacular green shoes that I fell in love with. You can see why if you look at the picture above.

I didn’t touch them at first.

Even though I knew that the moment I find shoes available in size 41, I would need to grab them, all I did was leave them there.

I went back the next day and saw the shoes. Still there. Instead of trying the shoes on, I went to try on some clothes I didn’t need.

Next day, same thing. I went back to admire the shoes and I tried them on. Perfect! Sexy!

But I put them back.

And naturally, next time I went into the shop, the shoes – size 41 – were no longer there. Another girl took them. Gone into some other girl’s closet.

How could I be so stupid? I had a good salary. I wasn’t freelancing. Those green shoes could have been IN MY CLOSET now.

Maybe I didn’t really want them?

STICKING TO BLACK

So no green shoes for me. Just black shoes. And a few brown ones.  Black goes with everything. They give security.

It’s okay to want to obtain things in life that give you some sort of security. A job, a home, a steady income. But when it comes to the not-so-essential things, to the ephemeral, to things that can turn a gloomy day into a bright one, why refuse life’s invitation?

Why not a yellow skirt? Combine it with black!

Why not a bag with a fabric you hand painted yourself?

Why not talking to that lonely girl who’s sitting across the table at the coffee shop?

Why not calling that guy you really like and are so afraid to let him know?

Why stick to black?

DO DIFFERENT THINGS

If you don’t try new things, you will never know. You are going to be stuck in boredom. No excitement potential for you if you keep closing doors and refusing to be courageous.

Sometimes you need to take a risk. Not a huge risk. I’m not saying you should give up your boring job (it’s your call), invest in hedge funds or that you shouldn’t be desiring to own your own home. These things are natural.

All I’m saying is that when opportunity knocks, do not do not ignore what your instinct is telling you.

Listen to your inner voice. If it’s right there in front of you go for it. If something so beautiful has come your way, you should be grateful for the opportunity and you should say yes.

If you encounter “green shoes” don’t just stand there with that fearful gaze. If the shoes fit you and if they look gorgeous and you can “afford” them, proceed. Take the green shoes. Wear the green shoes. Be the queen of nature. (Yes, even while you walk your kids to school).

WHAT I MEAN IS

You need the green shoes because life has so many twists and turns and ups and downs that along the way (and as you grow older) you will become more appreciative of the little details. And you will be going back in the past to dig out the things you didn’t do.

Be good to yourself which translates to doing little, tiny, exciting things now.

What about you? Is there something you wish you would have bought or done that was easy and straightforward as a pair of gorgeous shoes?


A presto, Magda

***Note: I never bought the green shoes from Zara but the other day I found better ones at Bata. Provided I can afford them, I will certainly buy them. Opportunity knocks twice!