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  • Sonia Ter Hovanessian

How can travel help motivate a freelancer?

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Hey, so I have to start this post out by celebrating the fact that this is my first ever blog post. Yipee! Ok, party over. I am embarking on a change in life, change in career, in direction, and am right in Transition Land. Although I have been self employed for a number of years now, I am currently working on expanding a specific area: voiceovers, hence this site. It's an exciting time and I can see many possibilities on the horizon , including lessons to be learned, tools to be used, boundaries to be pushed and risks to be taken. I have learned the hard way how hard it can be to be a freelancer #freelancing, #voiceoverartist, #timemanagement. We trade a lot of "security" for a heightened sense of freedom in how and where we work, but in return what comes along with that freedom is responsibility: time and money management, projecting the growth of your business and working towards goals - and often their deadlines - you set for yourself, maintaining your focus and not getting lost in what may sometimes feel like endless, empty days with no structure in place to help shine a light from post to post.


What things can therefore help to negotiate these seas and help us freelancers make the most of this intrepid journey we dare to venture on? One of the freedoms working for yourself can sometimes afford you is more flexibility, and so I am flexing my travel muscles #ilovetravelling, #globetrotting. Right now I find myself in Portland, Oregon, #portlandoregon a far cry from my home town of Brighton in the UK #brightonandhove. This is the most West I have ever been, and in my travels, I am faced with so many stimuli, both good and bad. Something I am finding intoxicating about Portland is the creativity and diversity which is around every corner. Portland is a stimulating and vibrant city and just getting out and about fills me with energy. As a result I feel more creative and full of ideas. I find the luxury of having time to spend exploring the city, its cafés and local hang outs, allows me to work alone yet surrounded by other people's endeavours.


Portland is a city which prides itself in its own identity. In the concept of "local", the food and drink industry is immense, quite frankly at a very high standard too #portlandcafevibe, #portlandfarmersmarket, #portlandbuylocal. It all comes at a price, though, and what I have seen of Portland is somewhat on the dear side, at least for my pockets. I am currently in the heart of downtown, in a café justly-named, "Heart" https://www.heartroasters.com/, and have had the creamiest cappuccino with their own homemade almond-walnut milk, but at $6 (plus a $1 tip) I intend to linger a fair amount and make my dollar count... that's pretty motivating, I guess!? How much work does spending that amount on a warm beverage mean you should put in? And once spent, another aspect of working away in the café-style environment is that around you are people deeply concentrated on what is happening on their computer screen in front of them. Are they studying? Writing? Developing the next OS? Finding a solution to climate change? Or are they scrolling through Instagram's selection of Best Cat Videos - EVER? Either way, their concentration prompts me to work harder, rather like practising ashtanga yoga with the traditional Mysore practice, where you get up before dawn, head over to whichever yoga studio you may find yourself in the vicinity of and lay down your mat in between the many others getting warmer with every sun salutation. Then you embark on the Series of asanas you do in Ashtanga up to whichever point your body (or instructor) will allow you go to. Each person intensely concentrated on their own mat, their own breath, whilst benefitting from the combined energy which soon enough starts to pervade the room #ashtangaportland, #iloveyoga, #ashtangayoga. In the right café on the right day, perhaps we can look at working there like that? Replace the mat for the mac, the sweat for the hot beverage and it's pretty much identical, kind of. Well, if you're keen on Ashtanga in Portland I found an independent practitioner who runs his own Ashtanga School in Downtown Portland which is definitely worth checking out http://www.portlandashtangayoga.com/.


And if nothing but this, working in a café or public location helps us feel that little less isolated.


My next stop will be one of my favourites, one I keep coming back to as I just feel incredibly relaxed and at home there. In the upstairs of what once would have been a Victorian home, "Tea Chai Té" https://www.teachaite.com/ welcomes you into its cosy tea heaven. A huge choice served in beautiful, thick, colourful terracotta mugs, which you can enjoy whilst sinking back into one of its plush sofas. A great place for brainstorming (the name of my new website for my Voiceover work www.voiceboutique.co.uk was conceived in the comfort of one of their sofas). You can always opt to sit at one of their many tables if you wish to then make your ideas into something more productive. Hook up to their wifi and work away with perhaps just one more tea #ilovetea to keep the creative juices flowing...


Is there anything free which can help too? Well, I've personally found that here in Portland that depends on the weather. It is a city well-known for being particularly rainy, but if you're lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day, it's an absolute joy to walk around the multitude of neighbourhoods #citystreets, #streetphotography and soak in not only the rays from the sun but the hustle and bustle of the city. It's also the US city with the most green spaces in, reaching 30% of the city. Just walking on the very edge of the infinite Forest Park to the North West of the city, was breath-taking. Suddenly, you're immersed in greenery, which if you want can lead to miles and miles of protected nature to get lost in #naturewalks. Quite literally. Another sustainable thing about Portland is its bike culture. Since the 1970s Portland has had an inclusive system for its cyclists here, and it is definitely one of the most bike-friendly cities I've been to, perhaps on a par with its European weed-friendly counterpart, Amsterdam. Just look out for its bright orange bikes with its bike share system https://www.biketownpdx.com/, hope their iffy code system works and then you're off #ilovecycling, #bikeshare! And who doesn't feel like a child, bustling with life and energy, when the wind is in your hair?




I could not finish this post without mentioning a sadder aspect to Portland, and something which serves as a reminder of how tough life can be. Portland has a big homeless problem. Everywhere you look, anywhere which can provide some kind of respite and shelter from the cold and rain, people have put up tents, make-shift homes and nearly 6000 people live like that here, some - I'm told, many - in a constant state of intoxication #homelessinportland. These are people who were once children, some certainly with aspiring futures, hopes and dreams. They then for whatever reason, be it dependency issues or mental health, slipped through the system and ended up on the margins of society, roaming the streets, almost invisible to the locals here, whom, I'm told, often have to put up an emotional barrier to the suffering and, for want of a better word, madness in front of their eyes. Life is definitely what you make of it, and some of us are luckier than others, but anything is possible, good and bad, so keep to the right track and keep moving in a positive, upward direction. I hope that these harsh reminders can also motivate us to give back and in return for our freedom as freelancers, perhaps every time a successful project comes to fruition we could do some work for free for a local charity? It doesn't have to be with money, but with time too, our most precious resource, giving us a sense of collective purpose. I personally find that to be a huge source of motivation: Grab life by the handlebars and get out there!


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