#inthespotlight @Gary Bugeja

Getting back on track with my mini-interviews is one of my top goals for 2020. First guest this year: my super talented brother, Gary. Biased, you say? Well, take a look at his work first. But yes, I have to admit, I am a little 😋

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Why did you decide to be a fashion photographer?

 I don’t think there was ever a decision – it just happened organically. I have always gravitated towards photographing people and fashion has always been a major source of inspiration in all of my projects. So I think I found myself evolving and focusing more on fashion photography without thinking too much about it.

Tell us more about your photography

My photography is always narrating a story.

A: Short and sweet, I must say

Proudest moment?

Being chosen by Tommy Hilfiger International to shoot the official Tommy Jeans digital campaign. They came all the way from Amsterdam to direct the shoot and it was both nerve-wracking and surreal at the same time.

What is your favourite photograph so far? Why?

This is one of my favourite photographs because everything came together perfectly. Cassandra is an extremely talented local actor who wanted to be portrayed in a different light. Together with Malcolm (styling), Neville (hair) & Hannah (makeup), we did a great job. This was taken for the Sunday Circle.

Gary Bugeja

What would be a dream collaboration for you?

An absolute dream collaboration would be with the genius Alessandro Michele and photograph the Gucci Campaign. I also would literally DIE if I had to work with artists that I listen to on repeat.

Not that I don’t know the answers to these already. BUT, super-quick questions to share with the rest:

Tea or coffee?

Coffee

Favourite film?

Requiem for a dream

Would you rather read minds or the future?

Minds

One thing you would like to cross off your bucket list?

Work on an editorial abroad.

What inspires you?

I get my inspiration from personal experiences, music and literature and the smell of freshly brewed coffee.

Go follow!

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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

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

 

#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.

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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

#inthespotlight @themamamanual

#inthespotlight - amandalia.com

There are so many talented people out there. So, this year, I figured, why not get to know some of them a little bit better?

My 2018 #inthespotlight monthly interview series will kick off with none other than  the inspiring Nakita Attard Vassallo at @themamamanual.

I’ve been following @themamamanual on Instagram for quite a while now and I have to say, I’m impressed. She even has a debut book coming out this Summer!

 Nakita, I would love to know more about @themamamanual. How did all this start?

It all started with a book! I’ve been dreaming of writing my own ever since I was a wee girl with a sizeable home library of my own.  It’s not the first time I’ve picked up a pen or a laptop and poured my heart out, but I never really put my finger on what I wanted to write.

One night two years back I could not sleep with excitement.  It had finally hit me!  My book would be about time management for busy mamas, and how to create time for the things you love, but most importantly, for yourself.

When the book’s initial draft was ready, I felt I had so much more valuable information to share, and I had to take it a step further.  I was very keen to connect with and help like-minded mamas manage their time better and prioritise self-care, and a blog would be the perfect way to do it.  The name ‘the Mama Manual’ was born after long hours brainstorming.  I wanted something catchy and original – and it felt right!

Care to tell us more about the woman behind @themamamanual?

I am a multifaceted woman 🙂  I’m a mama, wife and a homemaker around the clock.  My two adorable kids, Yanik –  12, and Nina – 3, keep me happily busy.  I’m married to the love of my life and best friend, Neil.  I’m also a working mum, and I’ve worked hard to build a career for myself.

By night, I am a writer and a blogger, and I run ‘the Mama Manual’ brand with a passion. Time management and organisation skills are my forte; I could spend hours happily decluttering and organising a space, or planning busy days to perfection! Food (not only eating it – but also cooking it!), travel, reading, and slow days at home or in beautiful surroundings with my family and friends are things I enjoy doing and make time for on a regular basis.

From where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me!  I never in a million years expected such a phenomenal response from ‘the Mama Manual’ social media pages.  The amazing women I connect with everyday are my sole inspiration and basis for doing what I do.

Being both an entrepreneur and a mother doesn’t come without its challenges. How do you manage everything?

You know how they say ‘do what you love and you will never work another day in your life? That is exactly how I feel about the work I do with ‘the Mama Manual’ brand.  I literally crave working on the book, the blog, and social media every evening – so it’s easy to get started – but challenging to stop might I add!

Of course, effective time management is the secret to being able to make time for my work.  Planning, being organized and pre-empting are essential tools to have.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to having our meals all planned out for the week, as well as cooking wholesome but very quick meals so as not waste precious time.

 

themamamanual-byamandalia
I know there are many women out there who would love to take the leap. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

If you have not yet had the courage to do so, do not feel like you have to go all in or nothing.  You can very well start off slow.  If you are a working mum, keep your job and side hustle.  A mere hour a day is better than no time at all! You can always decide to dedicate more time as things pick up, or go full-time when you feel confident that what you are doing is what you want to do and is paying the bills.

Whatever you do – be patient!  It’s easy to look at successful people and think that everything ‘just happened’ for them.  Being successful takes a lot of work, dedication, time and perseverance.

Where can we get your debut book? I know I want to read it and I’m definitely not the only one.

the Mama Manual – How busy mums get organised will be available for sale on my website: 🌐  www.themamamanual.com, as of the end of the month!

Should you wish to receive an email notifying you that the book is for sale, please let me know on nakita@themamamanual.com.

Go follow!

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#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