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 · 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?

freelancing · safeguarding your business · tips for freelancers

1. Learn to use and trust your instinct

 

Lessons in freelance translation, n. 1

Trusting your instinct is crucial when it comes both to personal relationships and client relations. How many times have you heard yourself say “I knew this would happen. I should have trusted my instinct”.

But you didn’t.

It’s a common belief that first impressions count.

But how much attention are we actually paying to them?

Of course, I must say that, under normal circumstances, we ought to give people the benefit of the doubt, a second or even a third chance.

That’s what I always did.

But then I kept realising that something which is wrong right from the start, is not going away.

As far as freelance translation is concerned, if you see that something’s “iffy” about a project or a client, it’s your call to stop it and to safeguard yourself from any possible negative outcome.

There are many examples in a freelancer’s life that teach us that we should stay away from situations that can be too challenging to cope with. Too challenging doesn’t always mean that it’s bad. It just isn’t right for us. The moment we see that something feels wrong we need to take that shield and be strong enough non to proceed.

Saying “no” applies to dodgy translation clients, projects that require a lot of hard work for little money, outsourcers who want to pay as less as possible expecting an impeccable translation ASAP. I am sure you can add something to the list as we have all been there.

I once read in “Women Who Run with the Wolves”, a great book by Clarissa Pinkola Estés that using your instinct requires that you first develop it which translates to listening to your inner voice each time it starts to talk.

If you ignore that inner voice, you are only making it weaker and weaker.

Our inner voice is there for a reason.

Let’s do our best to listen to what it says.

Before we find ourselves say that same old “I knew this would happen. I should have trusted my instinct”.

M.

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