Page 7 of 8

Are you cut out for Freelancing?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

So you want to be a freelancer, yes? Well, wanting something is great, and doing it is even greater. But to actually do it, and be good at it, and have someone pay you for it, you should probably ask yourselves a few questions first.

  1. Do you like being alone?

    Sadly, most of freelance work involves you and your skill and no one else. Can you handle that? Some people are made for it, some people aren’t. Think about this point very seriously and don’t try to convince yourself that it could work if it can’t! If you crave company, can you find it? Can you go work in a coffee shop, work with a friend, or find common spaces where other freelancers get together?

  2. Where are you now?

    Ok, what does this mean. It means if you’ve been working in marketing all your life you can’t suddenly quit your job and decide you want to be a freelance photographer and expect the jobs to start coming in. If that’s what you want to be, you need to build up to it and start gradually. Figure out where you are, where you want to be, then find a reasonable (and realistic!) path to getting there.

  3. Can you afford it?

    Need I elaborate? I will anyway just in case. Unless someone can support you while your freelancing career takes off, then you need X amount of Dirhams, Liras or Dollars per month to live on (at least). It will take you Y amount of months when you first start freelancing for you to start making X/month, so you will need to have at least X*Y amount of money in the bank before you start! Develop a financial plan, create a budget for yourself, and stick to it! That means you may have to pass up a couple nights out or those Prada shoes if things are a little slow this month.

  4. Are you flexible and organized?

    Ok, freelancing 101. Assignment comes in, you have a deadline in three weeks. No problem! You have time, it can wait. Two days before it’s due, you sit down to work on it, and all of a sudden three more assignments roll in the following day. Ooopsie! Now you need to pull a couple all-nighters to finish everything. But what about the Madonna concert you have tickets to? No problem, you have notes that will help you finish everything on time! But where are they? Rats, you stuffed them into the cat’s litter box when you were out of litter. It’s ok, you’ll just tell them you’re too busy. Ahem, check your financial plan, can you afford to pass up a couple projects? Be organized! Develop a schedule that works for you, and work for that schedule!

  5. Can you separate work from life?

    Anyone who’s been in a relationship with a ‘freelancer-who-can’t’, will tell you how much they hate it! If you think it’s bad when full-timers are checking their Blackberry every ten minutes, try a freelancer running to her computer every nanosecond you turn your back, so that she can just finish that one last thing that’s been bothering her. If you plan to live with someone more conversational than a toaster for any period of time, develop a relatively normal work schedule and stick to it. Your personal life will thank you!

  6. Can you be your own boss?

    Wait a second! I thought the whole perk of being a freelancer is that you don’t have a boss? Sorry guys, but no matter how much a boss sucks, they do one thing that is imperative to your success: they keep you on track! That means that in the space of an hour, you don’t get a 15-minute cigarette break, a 20-minute coffee break and a 10-minute bathroom break before you’ve even started your project! Being your own boss means pushing yourself to work hard and to be self-disciplined. Otherwise, find someone to do it for you i.e. get a job!

  7. Can you sell yourself?

    Listen, I’m a freelancer not a salesman! Ok ok I know but… you want work? Sell yourself. And do it well! It’s as simple as that. See previous post: Know Yourself, Sell Yourself!

  8. Can you say ‘No’, and can you handle it when someone says ‘No’ to you?

    Imagine this: You haven’t had work for three weeks and that whole budget thing is hanging over your head. Was there a project you were putting off until now? Was there some networking you’ve been planning to do? Now is the time! All of a sudden, a few projects come up with the same deadline. No problem! You’ll just rush through them all and do a mediocre job for everyone, right? Will that get you repeat customers? Nope! Will that help your bottom line? Only this month. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and keep a backup plan for any unplanned stretches of free time.

That’s all folks! Happy Freelancing and enjoy your funemployment!

Disclaimers: I didn’t come up with ‘funemployment’, I read it somewhere on Facebook. And also, this post is based on content from Get a Freelance Life by Margit Feury Ragland.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Know Yourself, Sell Yourself

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

Since last week’s post, I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity and why it’s so important for us to put words to who we are. See the thing is that our brain likes to put things into categories for us because it makes it easier for us to understand the world. For some reason we get very uncomfortable when we come across something that we can’t put into a category. We even have a category for that: Uncategorized, Miscellaneous, To do, Undefined, To Be Determined, etc…

In any case, ultimately, we are born with a certain personality that is ours alone (I can attest to that after seeing the radical difference in temperament and behavior in my two children!), and this psychology of ours is influenced by our social and cultural surroundings that help create our beliefs. And the combination of this all and how we react to it, is what ultimately help us define our goals and objectives for ourselves. We all should have them! I agree with Nietzsche when he said: He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

So I decided that to define ourselves to other people in a meaningful way, we have to tell them a little bit about our mind, a little bit about our emotions or behavior, what it is we believe strongly in, and what we aim for in life. I think it’s as simple as that!

Mind + emotions/behavior + beliefs + goals = Me

So in my case, the strongest component of each category defines me to me:

I am an inquisitive (mind) enthusiastic (emotions) student of life (goal) who believes that nothing is impossible (beliefs).

But WHY is it so important to understand who we are? Is it only to tell people about ourselves?

Nope! It’s much more than that. It’s to be able to value ourselves. You can’t put a value to what you don’t know, right? You can’t tell me how many dollars a bunch of bananas will cost unless you know the quantity AND the quality!

A psychologist named Branden, said that self-esteem is the reputation we have with ourselves and unfortunately, there is no significant aspect of our thinking, motivation, feelings, or behavior that is not affected by our self-evaluation. It’s as simple as that.

Ok now make sure you do this on a good day. A day you’re feeling great about yourself, a day you’re feeling happy. The last thing you want to do is come up with a phrase about yourself when you’re feeling down and your boss just told you that the idea you pitched was worthless, you’ve been depressed all day, you’ve just yelled at your kids or kicked a puppy and the only thing you’re good at is wolfing down a couple pounds of brownies. Otherwise your intro to your self will be something along the lines of this:

Hi, I’m a boring, self-pitying, tub of lard who believes in abusing the helpless. Not good!

So ultimately what it comes down to is this: knowing yourself better, allows you to better articulate yourself and sell yourself. Putting useful words that describe you better than simply ‘writer’ or ‘engineer’ will give people (clients!) the feeling that they are closer to you. And if people feel like they know you better, they will trust you faster, and hire you sooner.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Do You Know You?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

My mom knows a lot about people. She said to me the other day that the main thing people want to know about you is: ‘Who are you?’ And ‘What do you do?’

Simple enough right? I say I’m Kathy Shalhoub, I’m a writer. But it got me wondering, is that sufficient? Based on that information alone can people really decide whether to take an interest in me or not?

So I started looking for a better way of defining myself. I did some research online, I looked at a few books, I asked some people how they define themselves. No one seemed to have a good answer. I’m just me! Someone said. Well yes, I’m me too, but who is that?!

One self-help guru suggested making a list of things that define you. He said ask yourself:

  1. What are your beliefs?
  2. What is your personality like?
  3. What kind of actions do you take in a particular situation?
  4. How do you handle relationships?
  5. How do you influence others?
  6. What are your coping skills?
  7. What are your goals and accomplishments?
  8. What are your priorities?

So I wrote a bunch of those down, and found that I needed a couple full pages to define myself this way. Ok, that’s interesting, and it definitely gave me insight on myself. But I doubted that I could remember to carry around a two-sheet flyer with me and hand it out to people every time I wanted to introduce myself.

Is there a better way?

I came across Sally Hogshead’s book: Fascinate, where she speaks about how each person has a special way they attract people and capture their attention with. I did her little online test and according to her, I happen to ‘fascinate’ with

  1. Passion, which means I am: Expressive • Intuitive • Social • Impulsive • Enthusiastic
  2. Prestige, which means I am: Ambitious • Detail-oriented • Recognized • Uncompromising • Focused

So then there’s this little formula on the website you have to follow to create a single sentence that defines you, using those descriptions and a few others. But I wasn’t convinced one bit! In fact, it felt totally pretentious saying that in an introduction. So I’m back where I started.

I’m just curious, when people ask you who are you, what do you say and are you convinced? And more importantly, when you ask someone who they are, what do you wish they would tell you about themselves?

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Creativity: That Elusive Element

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

Have you ever wondered if you’re creative or not? Do you have that spark in you? Take my creativity test and you’ll know for sure.

Answer the following questions with Yes or No.

  1. Are you human?
  2. Do you have a brain?
  3. Do you live around people?

If you answered yes to all the questions above then, congratulations, you are creative!

See I don’t believe that anyone is born with that something special and elusive we all call creativity. I used to think so but not anymore. I used to think that either you had it or you didn’t. And if you had it, well lucky you, because it sure wasn’t lucky me.

Until one day an artist friend (who I thought was incredibly creative!) took a look at things I was writing, things I was cooking, things I was thinking about and went: Wow! You’re so creative.

I said: what me?! Don’t be silly!

Then when it kept happening I thought, Oh my God, I’m creative!!! When did this happen?

So I realized that if even I had some shards of creativity inside me, it must exist in everyone! Science has finally caught up with me and proven it.

In the book Imagine: How Creativity Works, Jonah Lehrer tells us that science has now pinpointed creativity to a tiny fold of tissue in the brain called the anterior superior temporal gyrus that becomes very active just seconds before an epiphany.

So what brings about these moments of ‘epiphany’ that we call creativity? Apparently, something as simple as a casual conversation can lead you to unexpected ideas, and something as outrageous as criticism that challenges your thoughts or ideas can force you to seek alternate paths, and therefore make you more creative.

Have you ever noticed that ‘creative’ people are often disorganized, do a million things at once and yes, procrastinate endlessly? Well it seems that interruptions are not that terrible after all (see my previous post on Procrastination) and being excellent at focusing is not that useful when you’re being creative. A British scientist has shown that it is those very interruptions that give our mind the mental pause it needs to notice a stray thought or random insight and bring it to your attention.

If you want to try being more creative, consider sitting outside by the ocean or painting your room blue since a study shows that this color helps stimulate our imagination. Talk to people, tell them about your ideas, have them challenge you. Try doing things differently, get out of your comfort zone, eat a banana upside down or walk through the city if you normally drive. Welcome interruptions, take breaks from your focus group, turn your brainstorming session into a critique session, don’t give up hope when you get stuck. Just take a break and give your anterior superior temporal gyrus the chance to work on things for you!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Are you a PP?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

What is the major thing that holds so many freelancers back from running full speed ahead? Is it lack of skill, talent, ideas and opportunity? Maybe a little, but I think that the greatest barrier of all is being a Procrastination Professional. Somehow you keep wishing you had a job to work on, you hope a project will come through, you network, you market and sell yourselves, and suddenly, finally, when you have a job, you just can’t seem to get around to doing it!

Procrastination is the leash around our necks, choking us and holding us back from being as productive as we would like to be. Do you find yourself sitting down to write, illustrate, edit, make something or research something and all of a sudden there are so many MORE important things you should be doing, like checking email and Facebook, cleaning the scum off the bathtub, taking the laundry for dry cleaning or cutting the cat’s claws? Do you feel that you have to get into the right mood, you need to make that cup of coffee or tea, that snack or that desert so that you have energy, you need to get into your comfy chair or your special spot , you must have the lighting and mood just right for your genius to flow?

Well here’s some interesting news for you. According to Rachel Ballon, a well-known therapist and author, the leading reasons for procrastination are psychological and unconscious. You want to sit down and get stuff done, you really do! But at the same exact time, you just don’t. Go figure!

It seems that this split in what we really want to be doing and not doing it is usually caused by some fear deep down inside that we aren’t quite aware of.  The two main fears most people struggle with are fear of rejection and fear of failure. If you never submit any work, you never risk either. Problem solved. J In the short term!

In the long term though, if you plan to be taken seriously as a freelancer, procrastination ultimately not only prevents you from completing your project, but it stops you from ever reaching your goals. If that was the worst of it, big deal but there’s more. Procrastination affects your self-image negatively. When you don’t complete your project you feel guilty, and ashamed, and the more you feel like that the more you procrastinate so then you feel even more guilt and shame. It just keeps getting worse and worse until it damages your self-esteem and your self-worth so much that you simply talk yourself out of the idea that you could or should ever have thought about freelancing in the first place. And you’re worse off than when you started.

Another leading reason for procrastination is making your work the absolute last thing ‘to do’ on your list. Everything must be clean, cooked, returned, prepared etc… before you can sit down and focus on your work, and by the time all the other stuff is done, damn!, the day is over and you have no time left!

If you find that you are a Procrastination Professional, take some time to explore your self, your fears and your unconscious. What is holding you back and why? Were you discouraged by friends or family? Do you think what you’re doing is not important or silly? Do you worry you’ll be bad at it? Figuring out the reason gets you half way to the solution. And learning how to overcome procrastination and create in the middle of life’s to-do list ultimately will be what sets you apart from people who have always dreamt about freelancing but have never gotten around to doing it.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Freelancing Success: Have you got it?

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

In celebration of nabbesh.com Beta being launched, I want to talk about freelancers today (and next week too!). It seems that finally, the day has come where we are valued as important members of society. So much so that in addition to the launch of nabbesh.com, the Dubai government now issues a permit specifically for freelancers allowing them to operate as a sole professional and to conduct business in their own name as opposed to a brand. Yay for us!

So now that we can legally operate in the UAE without being dependent on a company, spouse or sponsor, what do we need to be freelancers and how do we assure success?

What do you need to be a Freelancer?

In brief, to be a freelancer you need to have credibility and that consists of two things:

  1. Expertise in a very specific area

    An expert is someone who has made more mistakes than other people, has learned from those mistakes, has found a solution that works and is able to replicate that solution.

    It’s not as hard as it sounds. For example, I know a freelance translator whose niche was technical translation for the pharmaceutical industry. She had brushed up on the lingo, learned the jargon in Arabic, and was able to translate French and English into excellent technical Arabic. As a result, she’s in high demand and charges 150 AED per page while others are only able to charge 75 AED or less.

    Why such a huge difference in fees for the same freelancing field? Why are clients willing to pay some freelancers so much more money than others? Because price is a function of perceived value!

    Once you have expertise, maintain it! Keep reading, learning, participating in programs and workshops, and practicing. Develop yourself as much as you can.

  2. People skills

    Ok, you have the expertise, now what? If a potential client contacts you through nabbesh for your services, what do you do? I say get their attention and earn their trust fast!

    In the first minutes of a meeting, you need to get your message across quickly and concisely, show them that you understand their problems and earn enough trust for them to see you as the solution. That will get you the job.

    Keeping the job though depends on managing the relationship. Does your client want a friendly rapport with you or are they looking for a quick efficient non-chatty business transaction? Having the ability to read your client, understanding the type of person they are and the quality of interaction they’re looking for will keep you the job and get you referrals.

    In freelancing more than anywhere, the ability to relate to people, understand what they need and successfully deliver exactly what they’re asking for is how you become successful.

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Luck, Chance and All of That.

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

Don’t you hate those people who are so lucky they always get what they want? That job, a good deal on a car, the perfect spouse… they seem to have something that we mere mortals always come close to but somehow always miss.

Meanwhile, you’re the poor bugger who always picks the line that moves the slowest, gets overlooked for that promotion and finds a splash of ketchup on your shirt just as you’re headed in for an interview. You tell yourself you’re just not one of those lucky people.

Well, I think that’s bullshnozzle. I once heard that ‘Luck’ is simply a combination of preparedness and opportunity. I tend to agree.

Before you start arguing, let me make a little clarification. There’s luck, as defined above, and there’s chance. Chance is the probability of an event happening to you at any given time. So the chances of you getting a 6 when you throw a die (if you actually throw it!), is 1 in 6 and has nothing to do with luck. Absolutely nothing.

Luck on the other hand is you making a few really nice hand made samples of jewelry at home as well as an extensive design portfolio, whether you plan to sell them or not, and enthusiastically telling and showing everyone you know all about it. So when Joe let’s say, tells you his wife loves handmade jewelry (opportunity), you are happy to inform Joe that his wife is in ‘luck’ because you happen to have a very nice collection waiting for her at home (preparedness).

So now you’re selling your amazing jewelry to Joe’s wife, who needs no encouragement to tell all of her friends and her friend’s friends and you suddenly have a booming business doing something you love, you lucky bastard.

Your friend on the other hand, who also makes hand made jewelry, has been waiting for clients to place an order because she makes her jewelry on demand. But she’s shy to talk about her work and expects her website to bring her business. So even though she’s the better designer of the two of you, you’re the ‘lucky’ one and she thinks that she just has no luck.

So that lucky person who has it all, the deal, the car, the spouse, may have a certain amount of chance playing in their favor, as all of us do, but she may also be creating opportunities for herself, or be prepared to take opportunities that come her way.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Ghandi

 

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

I’m sorry to say this but…

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

‘I’m sorry to say this but…’ Have you ever started a sentence with the following words?

‘You may not believe me but I really feel that…’

‘Please don’t take this the wrong way but I think that…’

‘I don’t mean to be an ass but…’

Someone I was speaking to the other day started by apologizing for something they believed in and it got me wondering. Why do we do that? Why are so many of us so worried about how people will view our beliefs, our opinions, our thoughts and our feelings?

When somebody says to me: ‘You may not believe me but I like capers.’ I find myself telling them: ‘Yes, I believe you. Believe me I believe you!’ It’s almost as if they’re not sure of their own beliefs and are looking for someone to validate them. Why wouldn’t I believe you?

The other thing I get to thinking when someone says for example: ‘I’m sorry to say this but your pie doesn’t taste very good.’, is: What are they sorry about? Why are they being apologetic? It’s almost as if they had something to do with making my pie taste like cardboard. Wouldn’t stating an opinion simply be so much better? ‘I don’t think this pie tastes very good.’ That’s it.

Now I ask you, why the apology? Why the qualifier before stating something you think, feel or believe? All it does is weaken what you’re saying. It’s undermining your credibility and your authority before you’ve even made a statement. When you start a sentence with a negative, you’re conditioning your listeners to look for negatives!

In a business context, this is so much more relevant. Try it. Say these two sentences out loud and tell me which one rings true to your ears:

‘You may not believe me but I interviewed 40 candidates.’

‘I interviewed 40 candidates.’

‘I don’t mean to be an ass, but this graph is completely out of scale.’

‘This graphic is out of scale, do you think you can fix it?’

I assure you your boss won’t believe you if you start by telling him not to! I assure you your colleague will think you’re an ass if you start by telling her you don’t want to be one.

Be assertive. Don’t condition people’s thoughts for them! Be firm and confident, say exactly what you mean and don’t defend yourself if no one has challenged you yet!

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.

Image by: farconville http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

The Speed Bumps Of Life

By: Kathy Shalhoub

Image

Driving my daughter home from school a few days ago I slowed almost to a stop on a particularly large speed bump near our house. A woman in a large SUV behind me got very impatient with me and instead of slowing down, she swerved dramatically around me, jammed the accelerator and flew over the bump, leaving me and a cloud of dust hovering in the space behind her.

The incident got me thinking that many of us deal with the speed bumps we encounter in our lives in very much the same way. We are impatient with ourselves, we are impatient with others, and we just want to keep moving.

It seems that we all forget that speed bumps are there for the specific purpose of slowing us down in the first place! And we’re being slowed down for very good reasons: there’s a school close by, we’re nearing an intersection, the road is changing or there are children at play.

Why is that so different from the speed bumps we encounter in our everyday lives? Aren’t illness, death, changing jobs or countries, marriage or divorce, childbirth, and difficult choices like staying home with the kids or going back to work, freelancing or setting up a business, etc… all part of the speed-bump mélange?

I personally spent 12 years of my life hurtling towards an objective that I thought was going to be the culmination of all my dreams. When I got to it, I realized that my priorities, my desires and my values had changed completely in those years and I had never bothered to slow down and check on them. My objective turned out to be a dead end that I might have foreseen had I slowed down a little on the way!

I’ve heard that if you do the same thing all the time, you get the same results. So when we’re going through life full speed ahead and we come across a speed bump, doesn’t it make sense to slow down a little, look around and ask ourselves some pertinent questions like, ‘where am I? Where am I going? Is that still where I want to go and is this the best way to get there?’, instead of simply jamming our foot down on the gas and speeding ahead?

Sometimes the full-speed-ahead solution turns out just fine but sometimes, we’re just ignoring the whole point of the speed bump, which is to just slow down, look around and think for a few seconds…

 

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.


How do you make a lizard so adorable? Ask Catherine!

By: Loulou Khazen Baz


Meet Catherine Sunga! A working mother, a legal PA and above all things an artist!

It is a strange yet interesting combination… Catherine is an artist at heart and she discovered her passion for art in her twenties while she was growing up in the Philippines.

In her hometown, Art was considered an elite’s choice of education and Catherine was by no means part of the elite. That fact however did not let her shy away and feel inferior to her classmates. Instead, Catherine let her talent show through her work and managed to pull through her education and pursue her dream to become an artist.

When growth opportunities for Catherine were on the decline, and like many of her compatriots, Catherine seeked refuge in the Gulf where she embarked on her journey to become a legal PA.

Years later, life was smiling back at Catherine! A young mum with two children and a lot of ambition to pursue once more her dream to become an artist. Her breakthrough came when she was contacted by a UK/Dubai based publishing compnay whichwas developing a children’s book… Among many illustration artists, Catherine’s work was chosen and she managed to have her work published which was one of her proudest moments and her cue to never give up on her passion.

When asked about her feeling while she is panting, Catherine said that she completely zones out and finds her peace as if she is whisked into her own almost “Alice in wonderland” type world!

Catherine does not want to be defined as a person by her professional work as she has a lot more to offer and when asked about her future goals and aspirations, Catherine is adamant to pursue her art and have her own studio, she also hopes to exhibit her art at a prestigious gallery one day!

Catherine’s struggles have not dampened her kind heart and big smile! Her motto is: “people have a good side to them, if you’re nice to them, they’re going to have to reciprocate”.

Apart from caring for her children and pursuing her art, Catherine loves to collect little toys and she admitted with a cheeky smile that she has a love for stuffed toys which every once in a while have to fight over with her children. Each one of us have their vices right?

If money was no obstacle, Catherine’s wish would be to teach art: “Art should be for the masses, social class should not determine who gets into art. I would like to be able to give back to my community by teaching the less fortunate children how to draw and paint because talent is a gift from God and everyone should be able to get the chance to utilize it.”

To all our nabbesh readers, we hope Catherine’s story has inspired you to never give up on your dreams even when life makes you change course. There are always opportunities for each one of us around the corner if we keep an open heart and mind.

To view Catherine’s work, you can check out her book on Amazon “Izzy’s Tail” by Suzanne Kalloghlian.