I know what you are thinking…now there is an oxymoron! Bear with me, there is method in the madness. I’ve had more social contact with friends and family in the first few weeks of lockdown than I’ve in a long time. Just not IRL. I’m not sure what that says about my social life though.
Instead of learning about what is going on in the world from the news, I’ve opted for a more personal approach and decided to place more trust in the news from my friends. It’s more important to stay in touch with loved ones and get an idea of the situation on the ground straight from the horse’s mouth. Instead of just listening to Chinese whispers on social media. I don’t know about you but chatting to a friend on the other side of the world is way less depressing than watching the news. It should also give you a good sense of what’s really going on. If you find this more depressing than the news then you definitely need to find new friends.
I’ve chosen to distance myself from the constant news cycles; I owe it to my mental health. It’s strangely ironic that at times like this, I don’t want to know exactly what’s going on. The figures won’t help me sleep at night. However, I feel it’s important to assess whether this is conducive to your own mental health. This is a very personal decision. If knowing every detail about the pandemic gives you peace and gives you a sense of control over the situation, you do your thing. That’s just not my jam right now.
I’m in a love/hate relationship with social media while in lockdown. It is both a blessing and a curse. My professional social media profiles have allowed me to connect with other translators far and wide and have often allowed me to maintain some form of normality. Sometimes we talk about translation and sometimes we just put the world to rights or share funny memes. However, there is some rogue information out there at the moment that has to be taken with a bucket of salt. Did anyone hear about the cute dolphins in the turquoise waters of the Venetian canals (aww)? Amongst all the chaos, this is just what I needed to hear. Well get your facts right because according to National Geographic, these dolphins were miles away from Venice. I love dolphins and a dolphin appearance in Venice would be weirdly poetic right now but sadly, it’s just not meant to be.
My advice to you at the moment is to enjoy social media and use it for the greater good, but don’t go all Donald Duck on us and spread fake news because it seems that social media is already giving his big, bad rep a run for its money and that’s saying something. Spread love.
After contemplating what a week in lockdown should look like, I decided to look at a map of the world and see how many countries I had virtually visited in the last week. I’ve contacted friends and colleagues in Belgium, China, Croatia, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Spain, Thailand and the UK. It seems like I’m spreading almost as fast as coronavirus (too soon?). I’m really trying to find a silver lining to this situation and so your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to see how many colleagues and friends you can connect with over the next week. Yes, it’s another week of lockdown (unless you are just chilling on the beach like some thoughtful individuals), but it’s also an opportunity. Remember the good, old SWOT analysis analogy I used in my previous blog post; well this is another situation where the opportunity presented by the pandemic can be fully enjoyed. All those people you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months….there really is no time like the present…or the next few weeks or months (eek) for that matter. I’m in a serious relationship with travel and having friends all over the world is just another excuse that I don’t need to feed my addition. However, we are on a break right now. Luckily, I visit France virtually four days a week to teach legal English to French lawyers and support their learning and well-being. Get in touch and let me know how many countries you are virtually visiting these days. You never know, you might just make someone’s day.
Human behaviour is a fascinating phenomenon. My Netflix history is testament to this given the amount of true crime documentaries I watch. Not sure if that says more about me or the criminals?! This pandemic is fundamentally changing the way we behave and the way we communicate, and I think these changes can be perceived both positively and negatively. My behaviour has in fact changed for the better. I started writing this blog post on a Saturday evening, which isn’t my average Saturday night but a very enjoyable and relaxing evening all the same. I’ve even changed some of the ways in which I do business. Don’t get me wrong, I still rock up to my desk every morning, but the time depends on how much sleep I’ve had. But as always, I spend most of the day at my desk, I just don’t leave the flat for fresh milk or fresh air. My asthma has put an end to that pipe dream.
Surprisingly, this whole situation hasn’t changed the way that I exercise, apart from the obvious not stepping outside my flat door in 27 days. It seems that I was ahead of the curve on this one, for once in my life. When I made the move to Spain from the UK back in November last year, I brought my Personal Trainer with me. Virtually of course! As fit as she is, she didn’t in fact comply with Ryanair’s new hand luggage requirements. Since arriving in Spain, I’ve been training via video call which has worked like a dream. It requires minimal equipment (1 exercise mat, 1 kettlebell, 2 dumbbells, 1 ab roller, 1 resistance band and a lot of blood, sweat and tears) and all I’ve to do is turn up in front of my iPhone/iPad screen three times a week. I always look forward to my classes but at the moment, they give me that boost of endorphins that we are all craving. Give it a go! If you don’t believe me, check out my next blog post featuring my PT Jennie-Marie Glover as a guest blogger. She has even prepared a workout video for you to try at home and all you need is your office chair. It better be ergonomic though as she told me off for this one! You know you want to! And you really have no excuse.
One thing which hasn’t changed amongst all the chaos in the world recently is where I work. I’m still translating and teaching from the very same desk. Although just before the world changed beyond recognition, I had found a lovely little coworking office in Barcelona where I hope to work from one or two days a week once this is all over. I do enjoy socialising more than social distancing. Contrary to popular opinion that translators are all introverts, and this is just business as usual for us as we are used to it anyway…this isn’t business as usual for anyone, it’s business as best we can. The place where I work may not have changed but the way I work and how I work has changed to a certain extent. I’m dedicated to making sure I can serve my clients in the best way possible during this period and if that means bending over backwards and offering extra support, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
One thing which has been a saving grace amongst all the chaos has been another aspect of my business: teaching. Especially when you are already used to teaching remotely. It seems like I was ahead of the curve on this too. Teaching legal English classes to lawyers and notaires all over France and French to students all over Europe all from the comfort of my home office really has been a blessing. My students have played a huge role in keeping me sane. It’s surprising how discussing the intricacies of French property law or the rules of intestacy under English Law can really help to brighten your day and the amount of brain power it requires certainly doesn’t allow time for dwelling on the current situation. Teaching has always been an outlet for me, although I only really ‘fell into it’ during my postgraduate studies at Durham University. It took off so much that my friends often used to check that I was still with the land of the living, as sometimes they wouldn’t see me for days at a time…which is a big deal when you go to a collegiate university and you live and breathe your college life with your college family. Then, my students were a fantastic way of ensuring that my French language skills were contemporary and sharp enough for one of the best Masters in Translation courses in the country, while also distracting me from other things that were going on in my life. Now, they are doing exactly the same for my business and my life in general! All students are great projects to work on, or maybe I’m just very lucky with my particular students. Teaching has been a fantastic addition to my business from a social point of view as it helps you maintain regular, social contact when freelancing. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t require any encouragement when it comes to socialising, but this can be a really useful tool for freelancers who want to brush up on their language skills and also increase their contact with the outside world. Stepping outside the freelancing bubble is always very important but now more than ever before. Look on the bright side, masks and proper office attire aren’t required over Skype. As you can see, teaching French and legal English has taught me a lot. So much in fact that I will dedicate a whole blog post to the teaching services I offer within my business. If you are a French lawyer or notaire and you are interested in perfecting your legal English skills for your English-speaking clients, look out for that blog post or just get in touch with Languages for Lawyers. It’s business as usual for us, wherever you are.
Last but certainly not least, sleep! I’m in a serious relationship with sleep, but our status is currently “it’s complicated”. My sleep just isn’t the same and this is due to a number of factors. Lack of fresh air, lack of exercise (my daily constitutional and outdoor activities), waaay too much screen time and general anxiety. Has anyone else been experiencing very bizarre and vivid dreams? Try to get as much sleep as you can but indulge in siestas at your own risk as they really are a double-edged sword. If you want to explore sleep more deeply, have a listen to the latest episode from Smart Habits for Translators on Smart Sleep Habits. I also get a mention at the beginning of this episode which was a lovely surprise. This podcast held me accountable when I listened to it because it reminded me that bedtime routine doesn’t just apply to your evening routine. This also applies to your morning routine. Freelancing lends itself well to being both an early bird and a night owl. I’m most definitely the latter but try not to sleep in too much because I tried this accidentally in the second week of lockdown when this whole experience started taking its toll on my sleep and it didn’t end well. It made me crave siestas way too much.
I would love to hear about what you’ve been doing to avoid feeling isolated in isolation. I would also love to hear your thoughts on what you are working on or blogging about and what content you would like to see in my blog. You can find me on all the usual types of social media or drop me an email at email@example.com. I don’t bite, I promise! Take care of yourselves and drop me a line if you fancy a chat.