#nointernet #canyousurvive?

byamandalia

I did. Survive 10 days without internet, that is. But even so. It doesn’t mean that it was easy. And, come to think of it, it shouldn’t have been difficult either, right?

 

giphy

Remember Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs?☝️☝️ It starts from the bottom level with what we need the most in order to survive; physical needs such as food, air, water and shelter.

However, some wonder whether we should add internet to this list as well. Should we though?

During our stay in Cuba, we went for 10 whole days without any internet access whatsoever. It was amazing to be truly offline and present.

You know how even during lunch or dinner with friends, family or colleagues, everyone is on their smartphones?  We’re either taking a picture of the food, browsing through Facebook, sharing a story on Instagram or checking the latest football score. To mention but a few.

But without smartphones getting in our way, we enjoyed long conversations and debates, and to pass the time in the evenings, even ended up playing charades. The actual thing and not the mobile app game.

My internet-free experience has been a much needed wake up call. It helped me put things into perspective and made me realise how internet-dependant we have become.  True, my work actually does depend on it. Without internet, I wouldn’t even be able to share this with you.

But, just think about it for a minute. How long could you survive without internet? If at all?

Amanda x

 

#newbeginnings #puppylove

Quick Post! We have welcomed home our new family member, Nina Penelope. Why two names? I’m not really sure myself ! 😅

It has been 2 weeks already since we got her from Gozo SPCA . I have to say, they are super dedicated, patient are doing such a great job!

She was so timid at first, exploring her new home and getting to know us. Now, she’s all over the place. Our little bundle of joy 💙

Here she is:

 

P.s. I had difficulty writing this post with her head resting on my arm. She looked too cute and peaceful to move!

Amanda x

 

#cuba #rawbeauty

Cuba byamandalia.png

Before writing about anything else this year, I wanted to first show you Cuba. It’s 12 hours away from home (something like that, by plane) but believe me when I tell you, worth every second.

One word that I would use to describe it? Raw. Does that make any sense? Untouched – that’s another word for it. It’s a different kind of beauty.  Quite different than, say, New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands. And also, there is this laid-back atmosphere I have yet to come across some place else.

Food 🍴: Best if you’re not too picky because there’s a big chance of  having rice and beans for dinner every single day. Pork is their main dish. But you will always, always, have a hearty portion of rice and black beans with your meal.

Stay  🏠: One way of getting an authentic feel of the place is by staying with the locals. One of my best experiences so far is spending New year’s eve eating and drinking with the whole family. Staying in a Casa Particular instead of  a hotel or resort is something I would definitely recommend.

Drinks 🍸: There is a  limited amount of soft drinks available. As for bottled water, Ciego Montero is the only brand that we came across everywhere we went (restaurants, casas and local stores). Like with everything else, choice is quite limited. For instance, ordering e.g. a local beer at a restaurant and being informed that it’s the last can, was quite a normal occurrence.

But, that shouldn’t be disheartening! Why? Because their cocktails do not disappoint. I am not one to fuss but I can honestly say that so far nothing beats their Piña Coladas. They serve it sans Rum and bring a bottle of Havana Club over so you can add as much as you want.

We lived off Mojitos, Cuba libres and Piña Coladas practically for 10 days. There was one time in Viñales (during happy hour – some places do have it) where we got a cocktail for only 1.50 CUC (equivalent to EUR1.25). Usually the price varies from 3 to 5 CUC; depending from where you’re having it.

Internet 🌐: Well, forget it. For starters, you’re on holiday 😄 and Instagram can wait. But really, Internet is not easily accessible. Forget WiFi access at bars, restaurants or even where you’re staying at. There isn’t any. On the plus side, it was quite refreshing to have actual conversations around the table without anyone staring at his or her phone.

There are a couple of places from where you can buy WiFi cards but you can only have access in certain areas for a limited amount of time. You’ll know when you get there. Flocks of people will be sitting around in a given square, on their phones whilst others trying to sell off WiFi cards.

Now, let the pictures speak for themselves.

Amanda x

Habana

Habana, Cuba

Got to love those cars

Got to love those cars. Viñales, Cuba

The Mural

The Mural

On our way to Vinales

On our way to Viñales, Cuba

Ladas and classic cars

Is this another Lada?

Hand rolled Cigar from farms @ Vinales

Freshly hand-rolled cigars from the farm @ Viñales, Cuba

Looks like the Maltese tile, doesn't it

Looks quite like the Maltese tile, doesn’t it?

Varadero

It was supposed to be sunny. Varadero, Cuba.

Tobacco Farm, Vinales

Tobacco farm in Viñales, Cuba

@House of Rum

House of Rum, Habana, Cuba

Hotel sign in Habana

Hotels in Habana, Cuba

The Flag

Well, that’s the flag.

One of the many stray dogs in Habana

One of the many strays roaming the streets of Habana

Driving around Vinales

The sleeping man, laying down. Can you spot it?

Casa @ Vinales

Casa steps. Viñales, Cuba

La Bodeguita del Medio

La Bodeguita del Medio. Famous for their Mojitos

Fruity Breakfast

Fruity breakfast. It’s that and fried eggs.

Horseback riding

That was the only way we could get to the Tobacco farms! Viñales, Cuba

Cuban coffee

Cuban coffee

Cuban billboard

One of the many billboards. Viñales, Cuba

Couple of blocks away from our Casa, Habana

A couple of blocks away from our Casa. Habana, Cuba

Coffee cups

Coffee cups. Lots of them.

Classic car, Cuba

Your classic car, Cuba

@ Vinales

Mornings @ Viñales, Cuba

Churros, churros, churros!

Churros, churros, CHURROS!

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

You cannot not have a Cuba Libre

29

Never-ending beach @ Varadero, Cuba

 

#goingfreelance #1yearlater

@byamandalia

It has been a year. The 16th of December marks the day I left my 9 to 5 job (it was more like 10am to 6pm) to start afresh. How time flies! And honestly, looking back, I wonder why I didn’t take the leap before that.

It was a year of firsts. The first time I had my own clients, the first time I gave out training sessions on digital marketing, the first time I truly challenged myself to reach new heights. Forget about the New Year‘s resolution. If you want a change in your life, do it. Don’t wait around for another year to start; that’s a waste of time. And time is something you will not get back because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

So, here’s a little insight. Working as a freelancer is not all glitter and might I add, is not for everyone. It’s not a shortcut like some people seem to think. It’s more of a long and bumpy ride. After all, you’re starting from scratch. And, on your own. The first month being the toughest because your income will suffer. But, and that is a big BUT, I have to say that if you put your mind to it, it will get better.

It’s challenging because every day is just not the same. I see this as a plus. However, some people are scared by this; about not having a Monday to Friday routine. But that’s just it. There is no Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine. Because this way, you can meet up for a coffee on a Monday morning after working on a Sunday afternoon.  It’s more about learning to find your pace. And, more importantly, managing your time wisely.

Until next year!

Amanda x

 

 

#amsterdam #overtheedge

It was love at first sight. I got lost in the beauty of the place. And there were a couple of times I  got lost – literally (I have no sense of direction whatsoever, a couple of people can vouch for that).

During our stay, it was mostly cloudy and raining. Some might have even grimaced and frowned at the less-than-ideal-holiday weather. But honestly, it was a breath of fresh air. A break from the hot and humid weather August was kind enough to bestow on us back home.

What can I say about Amsterdam? The locals are nice and helpful, the food is good (albeit a bit expensive), transport is super efficient and I felt relatively safe roaming around the streets, even after dark. I’m a bit paranoid, so that’s saying something. Obviously, this heavily depends on the area. But, I give the overall Amsterdam experience two thumbs up. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Definitely.

This blog post will be in pictures <scroll below>. I think they will sum it up quite nicely!

Amanda x

On our way! byamandalia

On our way! Essentials at hand.

Finding our way around Amsterdam. byamandalia

Finding our way around Amsterdam #firstday

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

When the sun comes out at Zaanse Schans.

First, lunch! byamandalia

First, lunch! @ Goos

Flowermarket visit. byamandalia

Flowermarket visit.

Random tile at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Random tile at Zaanse Schans.

Cheese from Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

Cheese from Zaanse Schans

Lunch break at Vondelpark. byamandalia

Lunch break at Vondelpark.

Over the edge. byamandalia

Over the edge.

A waffle with stroop. byamandalia

A waffle with stroop.

You cannot not drink beer! byamandalia

You cannot not drink beer!

Rainy day in Amsterdam. byamandalia

Rainy day in Amsterdam.

New best friend at Zaanse Schans. byamandalia

New best friend at Zaanse Schans.

Beautiful Vondelapark. byamandalia

Beautiful Vondelapark.

Mouthwatering almond cake. byamandalia

Mouthwatering almond cake.

Coffee at Anne Frank's House. byamandalia

Coffee at Anne Frank’s House.

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht. byamandalia

Breakfast at Greenwoods Keizersgracht.

A must have Starbucks picture. byamandalia

A must have Starbucks picture.

#Bellaitalia #Foodie

I’ve been to Bari with my mom & sister-from-another-mister for a couple of days and didn’t want to leave! They had to drag me out of the apartment . I would have stayed for the morning brioche and frothy cappuccino alone! But as they say, all good things come to an end (or until the next good thing comes along). This time, I have decided to tell my story in pictures 🙂

Amanda x

2141617A trulloAlberobelloBariBlue trulliBreakfast-ingBruschettaDraped table in the PiazzaDriving around in MateraGift Shopping in MateraMateraNew friendOur breakfastTrulli

#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

 

#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 café (correction – several cafés), 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 🙂

Amanda x