New year, new mum? Stay Inspired!

I dove into 2020 head first.

Given my recent transition into motherhood, I had to slow down my work pace last year. So, in 2019, I set the stage for 2020. And I’m psyched about a couple of new projects that I’m working on 🤩 Can’t share anything yet though. What I can say is that one of my lifelong goals is about to take flight. Or rather, will eventually take flight. I’m already getting ahead of myself 😅

Looking back, 2019 had a little bumps. Honestly, I was torn between being my usual working-around-the-clock self and immersing myself in the role of a mum. Fast forward to eight months later, it gets better. Sleep doesn’t, but the rest does. I had to toss my schedules out the window though. Most days, I can only get things done while she sleeps.

Staying inspired was all the more difficult during the past months. Sometimes, all I wanted was for the day to be over just minutes after waking up. So, I had to get thinking of ways to avoid a downward spiral. One thing that helped hone my inspiration was (and still is) getting out of the house.

If you’re a working mum, a stay-at-home parent or a mumpreneur, difficult as it is, do take a break. You deserve it. Having a baby to take care of, plus work on top of that can take its toll. Getting out of the house might just be what you need. Even if it’s for a half-hour walk or a cup of coffee at your local café a couple of minutes away. True, you’re probably not getting things done and your never-ending list has nothing crossed off it yet. But, chances are, you’ll feel more refreshed after taking a break from it all and work twice as hard later (child-permitting).

These up here 👆 took a couple of minutes longer to get to 😋 It was our first ever trip with Beth and it went better than expected. 

Even as I write this, I’m aware that sometimes it’s not that easy. I’m a morning person and pre-motherhood used to get all the work done by midday. Getting some work done close to midnight is actually a thing now.

Ah, she woke up. After only twenty minutes.  So, to wrap this up, and all this aside, any help you can get, get it! True, I’m blessed with the most amazing people in my life. Even if you’re winging it on your own, remember you’re strong, amazing and you’re not alone 🙌💪

Amanda x

🎄 Christmas jumpers, imbuljuta tal- Qastan and the midnight mass

In the coming days, everyone around you will seem a tad more pleasant than usual. Even work will feel more tolerable when compared to the rest of the year. It’s a time when everything tends to sound and look better; especially if you’re an avid Christmas fan.

It’s one week until Christmas and, despite all that has been going on, the air is buzzing with cheer. Or perhaps it’s just me and my incessant obsession with this holiday.  On December first, we open the first tiny window of our advent calendar, overload our Spotify accounts with Christmas music, and start thinking of showering the fronts of our homes with blinking decorative lights (and sometimes even overdoing it).  All this sets the tone for the upcoming month and puts our little customs into motion.

Traditions are comforting, nice even. They’re like a familiar smell you randomly come across on a given day that takes you back to your childhood days. The nostalgic memories of Christmas past, if you will. Do you sometimes find yourself missing sitting cozily on the couch, your hands cupped around a warm mug of imbuljuta tal-Qastan your grandma just made whilst munching on some fresh out-of-the-oven mince pies on Christmas eve?

As a child, I used to spend every Christmas Eve at my grandma’s with the rest of the family. After that, we attended the Midnight mass and as children, tried hard not to snooze off in the dim lights during the extremely long sermon of the child. I loved every second of Christmas eve. Loved – because as we grew older, that little family tradition of ours dissipated.

Every family has its own traditions which inevitably change with the passage of time. Children grow up, move out, embark on their own journeys and create their own new thing. Still, change brings about the birth of new traditions which can be just as exciting.

When compared to other countries and given that no distance is great on this little island of ours, we remain close to our families and not just in physical proximity. To date, we tend to celebrate this day with our closest relatives and try to make up for lost time with friends. That is probably one of the reasons why we send out a bazillion greeting cards to everyone we have ever known in December.

Another thing that always fascinated me as a child – probably because of the Home Alone movies I used to watch – was the Christmas tree. I remembered being in awe of how grand it stood with gifts piled neatly underneath it. Back then, I also remember my mother pointing out that the Christmas tree hadn’t always been part of our tradition. Most Maltese catholic families make the crib and baby Jesus as the main centerpieces during the festive season to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas; the birth of Christ. Some would even go on to argue that no crib is complete without the decorative Gulbiena (vetches). Growing the plant in darkness was a task, that as kids, we took to heart. We checked on it every single day to the point of feeling proudly triumphant upon seeing its stringy white shoots sprouting from its watered cotton bed.

Setting up the Christmas tree, however, is now a tradition well embedded in the Maltese culture. We spend hours decorating our homes, which although sometimes we do so excessively, it still makes up for good family quality time. Something which lately, and admittedly, we seem to be lacking. It’s not the first time I’ve been to a café and sitting nearby is a family of four completely lost in four different digital worlds.

The spirit of Christmas, less the commercial hype, is associated with acts of giving, selflessness, and kindness. In this excessively consumeristic reality of ours, it would not be the first time you’d hear someone admitting that the true meaning of Christmas is lost and has now been replaced with all that is materialistic. However, and to date, for many locals, the Christmas season is not merely a frenzy period of gift shopping but rather, it’s more about being part of the communal experience. For instance, as kids, we never missed the children’s procession, singing and holding candle-lit paper lanterns as we roamed our village streets. This is something most towns and villages have been organising for years and still do.

Then on Christmas day, my family and I prepare lunch together and spend the day in each other’s company watching Christmas films and playing board games. Lunch on this day is a celebratory meal that takes time both to prepare and to eat. It usually involves a hearty three-course meal starting off with pasta or soup, turkey and roast potatoes plus a vegetable casserole (which used to be baked at the local bakery) undeniably followed by dessert, coffee, and liquour.  A couple of hours in, and tea, treacle rings, and mince pies are also served. Where food is concerned, traditions like these tend to stick around for quite a while on these islands.

It’s nice to have our own little traditions. Looking back, we reminiscence on childhood memories that we’re fond of. Looking ahead, a little change to what we’re used to doesn’t hurt either. Wearing funny Christmas jumpers, hanging Christmas stockings, exchanging gifts and indulging in Christmas inspired ginger lattes and cookies with friends and family, are seasonal traditions that make December special.

 

Featured on the Times of Malta Christmas Magazine, 2018

Here’s to new #beginnings!

The reason behind my online absence? Little Bethany 💙 She became my number one priority way before she came into this world. She is also the reason why I’m not getting any sleep. Not even a wink.

Working on my projects and taking care of Beth is a new challenge I’m diving into, head first. I cut back on some work for the first few weeks but am slowly getting back on track. It’s not like no one ever went through this before but it hits you right in the face when you’re actually experiencing it.

One thing you’re in dire need of if you’re a working mum is flexibility. I must admit that being my own boss does help. I can get work done when she sleeps, be it at four in the morning (I’d be awake anyway) or 11 at night. And perhaps also try to squeeze an hour of sleep in between. 

As an avid planner myself, I am now aware of how naive I was to think I had everything under control. Once a newborn was in my arms, I realised that planning was not going to be on the agenda any time soon. 

My clients were extremely understanding. I couldn’t have asked for a better lot ❤ I made sure to meet up with everyone before I popped. And together, we planned and scheduled most of the work. I wanted to make sure I had everything covered. And, I did. 

When my water broke, the first thing I did (after taking a shower & calling my better half), was to sit back down and tie loose ends. An hour and a half later I was in the labour ward. 

I quite like privacy and am not one to shower my social media with pictures of myself and my family. In fact, most people didn’t even realise I was pregnant. Not until after I posted a picture showing Beth’s tiny feet.

I’m also aware of the irony given my line of work. But being or becoming an ‘influencer’ has never been on my agenda. I have always been a behind-the-scenes kind of person.

Having said that, I will be sharing just a few pictures in the coming days on my IG account 👇

Follow me on Instagram

It took me forever to write this blogpost! The minute she closed her eyes, I sprinted to my laptop. Inspiration hit and I wanted to pour it all down. It feels good to be back 💙 

Amanda x

 

 

Charming #Bratislava & a quick trip to #Vienna

Christmas day, I was in bed with a fever. Two days later, I was travelling to Bratislava, Slovakia. Call me crazy but looking back, I’d do it all over again.

The outbound flight was the worst part. Have you ever been sick or even had nasal congestion on board a plane? It just gets worse. I used to work as a flight attendant with a local airline some years back, so I got used to everything on board. But ear pain is one thing that scares me to date.

For the whole duration of our mini-vacation, warm water with lemon and honey became my best friend. Thankfully, soup was on every menu; it seemed to be a hot item (an unintentional pun) in the city. So I detoxed for a couple of days with soup and Bratislavan ox-tail broth; which is extremely good even though it doesn’t sound appetizing. Not your usual holiday food where you stuff mouth with brioches and pastries at breakfast and get your hands on local sweets and chocolates everytime you get. I’m a sweet tooth, so those were the things I missed the most.

BUT, the fresh air did me good. Despite the icy cold weather, I felt better each time I stepped outside. A couple of days later, I was almost as good as new (almost).

Bratislava. To be completely honest, it was never really on my travel list. But it should be on yours. Two days, I think, are all that you need. Compared to other cities, it’s small. You can easily walk around the centre.

Plus, if you’re a coffee lover, you’re in for a treat. The city is littered with quaint little cake shops and the prices are not expensive (unlike Vienna).

I also visited Devín Castle; which is less than 40 mins away by bus (Bus 28) from the city centre. It’s really easy to get there and if you appreciate history and natural beauty, it’s worth the visit.

After roaming around Bratislava for two days, we hopped on the train to Vienna. It’s just an hour away but you can spot the difference. It’s busier. The streets, the squares, the shops. Everywhere.

Usually, I do a little research before travelling somewhere. But both places being in Europe and the hectic month that was December, I didn’t have the time. For a change, it was nice to just go out and about without a care in the world. We googled the best places to visit whilst at the hotel in the evening and that was it.

Cafés in Vienna are quite the thing as well. They really do love their coffee. It’s quite the culture. They also have their own version of a cappuccino – Melange.

But alas, all the coffee shops had endless queues. Everywhere we went was packed. Visiting during peak season doesn’t help. Shamefully, the only place where we managed to find two available seats (literally just two seats) was McCafe. I hate myself for writing this and even more for going in but it was windy, raining and freezing cold. I couldn’t feel my extremities any longer, so we had to get inside, somewhere. And that, unfortunately, was the last resort.

The following day we encountered the same problem. Only this time with restaurants. But, we found, and totally by chance too, this amazingly good Hummus bar in the inner city. We had the best snack there 👌 👇

Tripadvisor: https://goo.gl/kgbuHX

Maybe that picture doesn’t give the place enough credit. You just have to take my word for it.

One of the many reasons I loved spending the last days of the year in Vienna were the markets. Having researched only a little during our stay, I came across a site stating that Christmas markets open to the public on 23 November until 26 December. What I didn’t know was that they also have New Year’s eve markets. Oh, the goodness! Sad thing though, I couldn’t try everything.

But what I did do, was enjoying a nice mug of hot chocolate in that cold weather whilst roaming around the palace. It was heavenly.

On a side note: It’s better to return the mug to the stall (they refund you for it) if you don’t want it as a keepsake. Otherwise, you’ll end up like I did, awkwardly holding a chocolate-stained mug in hand around the city, underground stations and on trains. Or else, carry a bigger bag (didn’t fit in my small one)!

Until next time, Amanda x

What #resolution?

“What’s your New Year’s resolution?” – It’s one of the questions I strongly dislike being asked on New Year’s Eve. I usually and politely retort with, “Why wait for the beginning of a new year to get something done?”

I believe that if the time has come for a necessary change, there’s no need to procrastinate. Honestly, there is no better time like the present. Don’t sit and wait around for the beginning of a new year to set goals.

We’re caught up in all the hype (and pressure)  for a limited period of time to stick to our resolutions, only to forget about them the very next day. That’s why the majority of resolutions fail by the end of the month.

Goals and targets shouldn’t be set on a whim. If you do have an objective and would like to make a change in your life, start working towards that goal as from this second. 

That is how I got into entrepreneurship. And it’s been two years already since I left my salaried job. Even if the road ahead is not well-paved, it’s worth to give your dreams a try and make them happen. True, it’s not always possible to mould each dream into reality. But it’s always worth a try, no? How would you know whether it will work or not if you kill the dream from its infancy? 

Till next time,                                                                                                           

Amanda x

 

Christmas: Staying vs. Leaving

Celebrating Christmas means different things to different people. For most, it’s the right opportunity to spend time with their loved ones. Where I come from, Christmas is the pure definition of family time. The first time I suggested travelling during the holidays, the air went still at home. 

If you come from a family who never missed one single family Christmas gathering, I believe you can easily relate.

The option of travelling against staying at home during the holidays is a constant internal battle. It’s something we start debating once we realise that summer is almost over and we still need to plan out our remaining leave days […]

New article @timesofmalta

Get the e-paper to read more: Click here

[Christmas Supplement, 2 December 2018]

#inthespotlight @Elizabeth Cortis

#inthespotlight - amandalia

My passion for writing led me to Elizabeth earlier this year. I was writing an article for the Times of Malta last March and Elizabeth helped me shed light on being a mumpreneur.

Mumpreneur: the modern superhero

After our virtual chatting, we then had the pleasure to meet up at Nakita‘s book launch event. In case you missed her interview, click here!

Elizabeth is one of the most interesting persons I have met thus far. She is positive, driven, and extremely focused. Our conversation flowed easily over a cappuccino in a quaint coffee shop in the heart of Rabat. It was a nice way to start the day; especially on a Monday morning.

I started off with what would seem like a basic question.

What does proofreading involve?

When I proofread, I’m improving what can be improved and eliminating any errors. It’s the perfect version of your own work. I like to refer to it as the four-eye principle; having someone else look at your work with fresh eyes.

Technically speaking, proofreading takes place during the final phase and involves checking the written work for typing errors, missed words, punctuation marks etc.

I find that most people confuse proofreading with copyediting. The latter involves sentence structure. Say you’re writing your dissertation and the ideas are still unclear or not flowing. Sometimes, clients mean they need both. Nowadays, proofreading is a requirement and an essential part of the academic career.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset     Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

 

What is unique about your business?

I set myself apart from others who work on proofreading as part-timers and have an unrelated full-time job. Don’t get me wrong, they have my respect! But, this is my passion and my focus 24/7.

I approach it as a professional. That is, I’m fully aware of the responsibilities involved. For most students, thesis-writing can be a stressful moment and I acknowledge and respect that – that is why I meet deadlines, read guidelines and work to the best of my ability.

My 11 years of experience provides me with not just knowledge but also an understanding of how things are done. For example, I know what universities expect and can see things from a much broader perspective than the client does.

 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

I have to balance my two roles; a mother and a business owner. I have two little kids who are still in their formative years and who need a lot of my time. On the other hand, I’m a business owner; not just a proofreader or book editor. So, I have to run and further develop my business as well.

Typically, I work around my kids’ schedule. I’m also lucky to have the full support of my family, especially my husband. So, if I have to put in more effort or schedule meetings, they back me up every time. I believe that the role of a mumpreneur is managing your business as well as your family without denying yourself anything. For instance, you need the time for yourself because it’s important not to experience a burnout.

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When did you decide to take the leap? Was it something you have always intended for yourself?

Running my own business has always been my dream. I’m an ambitious person and always try to think of ways to develop and grow my business further. I spent 10 years of my life teaching English; which I loved. But I wanted more. It was a huge leap. I remember my friends questioning my sanity.

Quitting a safe job was not easy but I don’t regret it because I’m doing something I’ve always wished to do. And that is, spending quality time with my children. Up until they were three years old, I still worked but less intensely because they were my sole focus. I don’t believe a mother should forget about her aspirations just because she becomes a mother. The will to work, aspire and improve are all great skills to pass on to your kids. They see you as alive, driven and passionate about your work. We have our crazy days, but we make it work.

 

What is your biggest failure? Your biggest success?

What is a failure anyway? I am a very positive person. I don’t acknowledge failures; they’re small setbacks. It’s all about how you look at it. I see it as learning something new about your skills or about your limits. You either going to give it another go and be more prepared or decide that it’s not something that you would like to pursue. Either way, you have grown. Self-growth and improvement mean everything to me.

I believe that small everyday successes are still successes. Getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that are challenging drives me onwards. Another one of my biggest successes is seeing my kids grow, and not just physically. Looking back, I feel extremely satisfied that I managed to give them my all.

 

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

Find time for yourself and set small goals. Don’t set big targets and overstress yourself. I try to take things one step at a time to stay motivated with short-term goals. Try creating a personal plan and keep in mind that not everything will go as planned either. Don’t close up shop just because you’re having one bad day. Be kind to yourself, be realistic and don’t be too hard on yourself.

That is when I realised how important it is to be part of a support network. If you’re in need of help, don’t et your pride get in the way. Know your limitations and accept the help you’re being offered.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in every area. Outsourcing can save you time because trying to do everything on your own is a struggle.

Join the Group: Malta Mumpreneurs Network

 

Three (3) tools you would recommend to anyone starting their own business?

Google Keep – for your to-do lists. Or, more likely in my case, the I WILL DO list.

Self- Motivation techniques – I believe in these techniques. E.g. when I’m tired, I try and work five minutes more; just a step further to improve self-discipline.

Take mental breaks – You need your off days. When I don’t have tight deadlines, I take pleasure in reading and listening to motivational business speakers.

Oh, and coffee! Haha!

Quick questions 🙂

Tea or coffee?

Tea to relax, Coffee to work

Books or movies?

Books

Time travel or teleportation?

Teleportation I’m a very realistic person – li I just leave and visit different countries/places. I love travelling.

Winter or Summer? 

Winter

Adventurous or Cautious?

Adventurous; I love doing things out of my comfort zone.

 

Go follow!

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🌐 www.proofreadingmalta.com