The SAFREAN Bringing you the latest news in Southern African freelancing
Message from the Chair
Dear SAFREA members
There’s much to be said about the amplification of ‘the man on the street’ on social media. Good or bad, these platforms give rise to voices that would, ordinarily, be unheard. Societal ills such as gender inequality, patriarchy and mental illness are just a few that have been highlighted on the public agenda.
As freelancers, we’re particularly prone to isolation, which can be a breeding-ground for anxiety, stress and depression. We’re also very likely to get ‘lost in translation’ as we negotiate our flexibility across digital channels. The written word, which we rely heavily on, is often stripped of nuance, emotion and an opportunity to negotiate or placate in real time.
This month, I would like to send out a call to all of us to use our association to build and support each other. If you’ve never attended one of our coffee clubs, do make an effort to join us as we put faces to the names we often see online. I believe that this builds camaraderie and enables relationships that go a long way in creating a sustainable organisation. And if you can’t attend, then reach out via phone or whichever channel suits you.
6 June, 10:00:
The 2017/2018 SA Freelance Media Industry & Rates Report, as well as international research, shows that the sector tends to have a female bias. We’re not surprised. The corporate world lags behind technological trends that facilitate greater flexibility, which is usually a necessity for mothers. We talk to SAFREA member, Lauren Shapiro, who has multi-tasking down to an art. She’s not only overcome mental illness but has written a book about it!
Let's start with the exciting news. You have written a book about PND (post-natal depression, now being renamed as peri-natal distress). It's an important topic, but personal in your case. What do you want people to learn from it?
I hope to create awareness and conversation around the issue to try to lessen the stigma that still endures around PND and mental illness, in general. I also want people to be able to spot the signs and get help sooner than I did, so that no-one has to go through what I went through.
Because this is the August issue and it was Women’s Month, and because many career women have children, I have to ask you, how did having children affect your career life?
Our children were anticipated, so we planned accordingly. When my first two were born, I had a flexi-time job so that I didn’t have to put in leave forms each time I had to take a sick kid to the doctor, and I could structure my day around playschool lifts, etc. This meant often having to make up work time in the evenings, early mornings and on weekends, but I found it a fair trade for the flexibility. When we decided we wanted to have a third child, I changed careers and went freelance full-time so that I would be able to spend more time at home and be able to breastfeed for longer (I know some mums are pump masters, but I found that my milk dried up within a week of returning to the office routine).
What changed in your life because of PND?
I’m far more self-aware, and I make a concerted effort to be kind to myself. The upshot of both the PND experience and the resultant self-awareness and kindness, however, is an unexpected strength. Having been to hell and back, little things like work catastrophes and domestic disasters don’t get to me as much.
What does a day in your life look like?
05:00 – 07:00 hubby does the breakfast shift while I work; 07:00 – 08:00 I do the school run. I try to catch a yoga class a few times a week, otherwise the mornings are spent working at home, in my “coffice” or at meetings. From 13:00 I start fetching and feeding children (sometimes sneaking in some more work while the youngest naps), and from 17:00 it’s dinner, bath, bedtime stories and prayers. Evenings are for catching up with hubby and burrowing into a good book (unless I’m on deadline, in which case it’s more work!).
What inspires you?
Human connection inspires me. Whether it’s mother to child, friend to friend, or cashier to customer, humans have the capacity to deeply connect to one another, and for me that is what makes life worth living. The more we talk about the difficult topics (like mental illness), the more connected and supportive we as a society can become.
What advice would you give to people who want to become freelancers?
If you’ve got the staying power, follow your heart. Then join SAFREA!
What does SAFREA mean to you?
SAFREA is a wealth of knowledge and experience into which I’m privileged to tap. Being part of the ongoing conversations really help to break the isolation of freelance life, and many members are extremely generous in their advice and guidance.
What is your work/life motto?
Do what you love, then you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
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