#mindfulness #meditation

10. Mindfulness

We are rushing through life. Rushing through lunch, rushing to get the kids to school, rushing to get to work on time, rushing to the grocery store, rushing to get dressed. Rush, rush, rush.

And we sometimes forget about how it feels to truly live and be in the moment. Being in the here and now, aware and conscious of the present, your thoughts, your feelings, the people around you.

Take a minute. If I say ‘Meditation’, what is the next word that comes to mind?

The first time I thought about it, I actually laughed it off and dismissed the idea altogether. But then, I read an article on Flow. Journalist Irene Ras stepped away from her busy life to go on a silent retreat. 3 days of absolute silence in a Dominican Monastery.

Imagine that. No talking, no music, no Internet connection, nothing. Just you, your thoughts, and perhaps a pen and paper to jot them down.

How would you manage 72 Hours of Silence? Would you be afraid to be alone with your thoughts?

This had me thinking. So, I looked up Meditation. As it turns out, it is quite simple and straightforward. Helpful, even. If you’re a busy body, you¬†can still make it happen: just ¬†5 minutes a day.

Long term Pros: Improve your mindfulness, Improve your concentration, get to know yourself better, reduce stress and anxiety and improve your sleep.

Given that I had no idea where to start or what to do, I found an app. 5 minutes of calm for 7 days.

calm

Truth be told, the first time I tried it, I ended up in a deep, deep sleep. On the second day, I was prepared to take it a little more seriously.

Ultimately, it helped me¬†control my¬†breathing and hold my concentration. So with practice, you will probably be better able to handle a stressful day. Or when you’re trying to focus on a particular task, you will find it easier to¬†shut out the noise and jumbled thoughts that try to get through and concentrate on the one thing you need to focus on the most.

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably and concentrate on your breathing. Acknowledge all the distractions and thoughts, and let them go. It may sound silly but it helps boost your concentration in the long run!

Amanda x

 

#GoodLeadership

Blog #7

Last week my friend and I were running some errands for her upcoming wedding. And at some point, we found ourselves talking about leadership (totally off wedding topic, I know!)¬† She said something that made me wonder for days and even inspired me to write this post. We were discussing how we see ourselves (as leaders or followers), when she looked at me and said, “No, you’re definitely a leader; not a follower.”

The one thing that kept me from stopping short when she said that was the fact that we were walking in the middle of a busy street and someone would have definitely run me over.

Why was it a big deal, you might ask. Well, you see, I was not born a leader; far from it.

Back in primary school, I remember a particular year where our classroom was divided into groups and each group had what we called a prefect. I never volunteered for that. For me, it meant stepping outside of my comfort zone and taking action when all I wanted was to be treated the same as my friends; no more, no less. At that time, for me, being a follower meant being free of unnecessary responsibilities and it was easier to follow orders.

Until one day, our teacher put me in charge of the group. I was shy and I even had to make an effort to be heard because my voice was so soft. I didn’t quite understand why our teacher would handpick me at the time. I honestly felt bad about it and even objected a couple of times. But now, years later, I understand that she wanted me to go through that experience for a reason.

And I didn’t give it much thought before my friend pointed it out. It also made me wonder if there was a particular point in time where the change happened. I was so used to seeing myself as shy even during my time at University. I didn’t speak unless spoken to, I preferred sticking my nose in a book rather than start a conversation with someone I didn’t quite know and did all the backend work just so I wouldn’t talk in front of the whole class during a presentation. I was that girl.

GreatLeader

But work, colleagues, friends and life help you grow.  Now, taking the lead comes naturally. I voice my opinions, take action when the rest hesitate and am prepared to go the extra mile. Being a leader comes with great responsibilities because you have to be the one who paves the way, be resilient, set a good example, know how to listen, inspire, give credit where due, respect the team, communicate effectively and ask not order.

Despite feeling the need to lead, in some cases it has been required of me to be a follower. And being a follower is not the same thing I did when I was a child. That’s being passive. After all, we are all followers in some aspect of our lives. And that can actually help us become good leaders; by being good followers.

So it’s not just about being a leader, is it? It’s about being a good leader. Be the one who inspires others not the person who scares them off. Be transparent, truthful and set an example for the rest of the team. Be the kind of leader that you would follow.

It is true that some leaders are born. But I believe that leaders are made. Live, experience, observe and listen.

Amanda x

#freelancevssalaryjob

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A year ago I would have probably laughed at the idea of working freelance. I was a workaholic, loved my job, loved the team and the clients. I had started off as a part time video editor during my University years and 6 years later, I was managing office operations and marketing. But change has a way of catching you off guard and due to company changes I decided to part ways. So there you have it, change. Which is something not necessarily scary. You have to look at it from a different perspective and take it as an opportunity; which I did with arms wide open.

I figured that I am resourceful. It’s not going to be easy, I thought to myself. It was much easier for me to get a full time job. In fact, I already had a couple of job offers until the end of my notice. And another 2 job offers just last month. Crazy for not accepting, you say? Maybe.

But I have this tendency to walk past the shortcut and up the hill. After 7 years working for the same company (something I wouldn’t change because I learned a lot from that experience), this was my break. A chance to fulfil my true potential because I always knew I was worth more, that I can do more.

There’s always that one nagging thought though, evilly conjuring images of failure. But honestly, isn’t that one of the definitions of life? Failure, after all, is “the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Or so Henry Ford said. But I think he was right.

So, to get to the point. Freelance Work vs. a Salary Job. What are the pros and cons? For each person, it’s a different story and this is not about what is wrong or right because what might work for you might not be the best way forward for me. But, based on my experience so far, there are 3 main areas¬†which I thought worth covering in this post:

  • Financial Security & Stability

Although you cannot really foresee the future; one minute you have a full time job and the next you don’t, it is safe to say that a salary job is more stable and financially secure than freelancing.

In general, full time salaried employees get a monthly paycheck as long as they get the job done. They (should) get paid for their off days, are allowed sick days and some even enjoy health benefits.

Freelancing on the other hand is quite unstable. One month you are overflowing with work and the next, you can kiss your wage goodbye. But, on the bright side, if you eventually have multiple clients, if you lose one, you can gain another.

  • Motivation & Job Satisfaction

One of the hardest things is to stay motivated (and focused). In reality, you simply need to have your goals clearly stated and an action plan to achieve them. If you love what you do, then there you have it! If you put your heart and soul into what you’re doing, there is a high chance that others will see it too. And if that doesn’t work, an empty pocket will probably be motivation enough!

As for salaried employees, I think that motivation is linked to job satisfaction which in turn goes hand in hand with appreciation. Regardless of how much you love your job, if you feel unappreciated, job satisfaction and motivation go out the window.

So if you’re doing a good job and your employer acknowledges that with a promotion, a bonus or sometimes even just a “thanks-for-all-the-effort-and-dedication-you-put-into-your-work”, your motivation level shoots up. If not, there is probably something not quite right. Either you’re doing something wrong or else, you’re doing everything right and more, and they just don’t give a flying hoot about it!

  • Flexibility & Control

Although you can achieve a work-life balance when working full time, freelancers have even more flexibility because they are in control of the projects they undertake. Although I’m just starting out as a freelancer, I enjoy the fact that I am able to attend conferences, set up meetings, go to seminars and lectures without having to ask for a day off because I can schedule around an agenda that I created for myself.

And this, not taking into consideration that my work space is different every week! So far: the desk, the couch, on the floor (!), in a garden , in a caf√© (correction – several caf√©s), at a client’s, at the beach. Endless. The options are endless!

There is so much more to say ¬†and I can go on forever! But I will leave you with my favourite places I¬†go to for inspiration and sometimes to simply clear my mind from the everyday clatter. It doesn’t matter if you’re working freelance or full time; you still need to unwind ūüôā

Amanda x

#howtobecreative

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There is a perfectly good reason for delaying this blog post by 2 days.  In reality, there are 30 reasons!

Yesterday was my husband/best friend/partner in crime’s birthday – the big 3 – 0 and I wanted to do something he wouldn’t easily forget.¬†When it comes to gifting, I tend to take it super seriously. And I always want to make it personal rather than just buying something off the shelf.¬†For me, purchasing one gift is a safe bet but rather ordinary. Coming up with 30 gifts is crazy. So I decided to roll with the latter.

My organised self couldn’t resist not creating a list. So, I started jotting down his favourite things, foods, places, personas, films, books and even things I heard him yammering about needing for weeks on end. Once I had that covered, it was all about putting the plan into action. Design, print, purchase, wrap and HIDE! That’s the most difficult part, I guess, when you live together with your partner. And hiding 30 gifts is no joke. I had to mark one of the rooms off-limits for a couple of weeks!

Once the plot was revealed, I posted the image below and a lot of people were curious as to what I got him Р30 gifts, after all, is kind of a lot. To be honest, it was never about the actual amount! You have to understand that purchasing 30 gifts was a little well over my budget.

 

I asked myself, how can I be more creative? For instance, at the time, I did not afford to buy¬†a ticket for a football match abroad. So, I took a step back and thought about it. Football was never my thing and I’m a real pain whenever there’s a match on; I’m fully aware of that. So, I tried looking at the football-related gift from another perspective. I can’t buy him a ticket but I can not complain during a match, right? It may sound silly and it did actually make him laugh! So I got to creating funny and cheesy “gift vouchers”. I also found our very first photo together taken in 2007 and had it printed and¬†even spent hours logging 10 years of footage to create a 1 minute short trailer commemorating our years together!

So, it’s not about the amount of gifts but the fact that you cared enough for that significant someone to create something fun, memorable, personalised and meaningful.

The final gift; gift number 30, was a surprise party. I knew that he never had one thrown and that he secretly craved it (no one is old enough to want a surprise party it seems). And so I invited close family and friends for a¬†personal get together. Given that I love baking (runs in the family), my lovely mum and I, spent the whole afternoon preparing finger food and mini desserts. This was yesterday¬†and I’m happy to say that it turned out pretty great!

My point in sharing this with you: do not think that you are not creative. You are when putting your mind to it. And if you need a little nudge, just google your initial idea or go on Pinterest for help and you will be blown away with tried and tested ideas! S/he will definitely love every one of your gifts because ultimately, you put your heart in creating something memorable!

I’m sharing one of the coupons¬†I designed with you. You can download and print for yourselves if you wish! Now get your creative juices going and enjoy every second of it!

Amanda x

#yesyoucan

3

Yesterday has been an eye-opener for me. Despite it being Valentine’s Day, that was not the highlight of the day.

It has been 7 years I think since I set foot on the University campus. And as soon as I stepped inside the Faculty building a wave of nostalgia hit me and it was like I was back there again – reliving the best years of my life. Sure, the building has undergone refurbishment and it is way nicer now. But the ‘feel’ of the place is still the same.

The Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at UOM held a talk by British Photographer and Motivational Speaker Trevor Griffiths. In all honesty, I am always a bit sceptic about seminars and talks  because of my extremely short attention span. My mind has this tendency to wander on its own, unlocking new thoughts and ideas along the way. But this time, I was captivated. Trevor Griffiths managed to keep his audience on their toes (at least, I was) as we relived his past experiences, successes and defeats.

To lightly rephrase the gist of his concluding speech, if you put your mind to the task and if you truly want to succeed – don’t say you can’t. Because you can and you will.

So, as I left the building, I kept mulling over those last couple of words which I believe are going to become my tune for a long time to come. To say that no one ever said that to me would be an outright lie; I have seen nothing but constant support from my family and closest friends.

But still, hearing those words from someone who knows is inspiring. My advice, if you come by an opportunity such as this one don’t let it slip through your fingers. It will only take an hour or two of your time but will make up for so much more.

Amanda x