More About Staying at Home

I know these are hard times for freelance interpreters. Most of us are used to going out, seeing people, talking… a lot! Then coming home and being quiet while we decompress from a day of other people’s misfortunes and even traumas. Freelance translators? Maybe not so much. Many of us are used to staying at home where it’s quiet and we can think clearly before committing a word to a page. We can be happy just looking out the window as the world goes by without us in it, because our world is mostly inside: inside our homes or even inside our heads.

PJs have their moments

I notice a lot of freelancers posting about spending their days in their PJs, and even saw a morning news show the other day with the hosts broadcasting from their respective homes… in their PJs! I then saw a retired astronaut who was alone in space for 520 days and gave some very good advice about the things we should do while we are under “Stay at Home” orders. Staying in your PJs all day was not one of them, trust me.

As a freelancer myself, also semi-retired—which means I do get to spend a lot more time at home than I would, were I not retired—I find that if I do not get dressed as soon as I get up in the morning, I feel as though my day has not started. Even if I have nothing on my agenda for that day, changing from my PJs to some other comfortable clothes when I’m staying home makes me feel energized and ready to get going with my day. I always find something to do, whether it’s catching up with old projects I haven’t been able to complete, or maybe starting a new one inspired by something someone said or did that morning.

It’s time to connect or reconnect

There are tons of articles I never seem to find the time to read, which now I will have plenty of time to read, and maybe even incorporate into some future paper or presentation. I also have baseboards in my house that need painting, and weeds in my yard that need to be pulled out. If I browse on YouTube I bet there’s going to be hundreds of videos I can watch to learn a new craft, or Yoga, or how to play a musical instrument. I may even learn how to create a video of my own that I can share with my fellow interpreters and translators, or just my family.

Yes, you now have time to reconnect with family and old friends. Even if you are not fond of lengthy telephone conversations, you can text them, or send a message through one of the other means like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger, which most people have nowadays. Send audio messages, just for fun. I have a group of friends on WhatsApp recently sharing songs, a capella. It’s been fun, and just another way to stay connected with the “outside world”.

Creativity rules

This is also the time to use your imagination and come up with ideas for activities that can make you a better interpreter or translator. Maybe even activities that can improve the profession on a larger scale. Do you like to work with legislators? This may be the perfect opportunity to start a campaign for needed changes in our profession. Do you have a good relationship with judges in your courthouse? How about getting some remote interpreting training going for all the stakeholders: judges, attorneys, court personnel, and interpreters? “Stay Home” does not mean you can’t network with colleagues and create workgroups for these projects.

That was one of the things retired astronaut Scott Kelly gave: stay connected! He also mentioned taking up a hobby, having activities that are fun, even keeping a balanced schedule if you have work to do—for those who can still work from home. Exercise if you can, either going for a walk or following an exercise routine at home.

Have you found the silver lining?

I am going to take time to catch up with my emails and delete the thousands that are just cluttering my inbox because now I can. I have time to send all those “unsubscribe” emails, too, for all the junk emails I get. But have you noticed how many free webinars and conferences are being offered for interpreters and translators right now? Talk about a silver lining! Of course, if you are like me and get your time zones and dates confused (because now it’s hard to remember what day of the week it is), take a few minutes to figure out time zones when you get these announcements and then add reminders to your phones, or calendars, or wherever it is you keep track of what you need to do each day.

Of course, I do want to keep up with the news, but that can be way too stressful. A lot of people who are normally nice are becoming ugly and belligerent for no apparent reason. It’s the “fight or flight” syndrome, according to psychologists. So news about CoVid-19 need to be rationed, like the food at the grocery stores.

This is my optimistic take on the impact the current CoVid-19 pandemic is having on the interpreting and translating professions. I know there is plenty of negative impacts that have been identified, but there are also plenty of other people addressing those. My hope is that you all will strike a balance and find ways to make this work for you. “We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.” (Anonymous)


Feature photo by Esaias Tan on Unsplash


Janis Palma has been a federally certified English<>Spanish judiciary interpreter since 1981. She worked as an independent contractor for over 20 years in different states. Her experience includes conference work in the private sector and seminar interpreting for the U.S. State Department.

Janis joined the U.S. District Courts in Puerto Rico as a full-time staff interpreter in April 2002. She has been a consultant for various higher education institutions, professional associations, and government agencies on judiciary interpreting and translating issues. She is a past president of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators. Contact: janis.palma@gmail.com

6 Comments
  • liviu lee roth
    Posted at 19:15h, 28 March Reply

    Excellent advice!

  • Maricarmen Flores
    Posted at 19:19h, 28 March Reply

    Thank you, Janis. I agree that keeping a routine gives you a sense of normalcy and who knows? Maybe a last-minute call for a remote emergency hearing will come your way and you are ready to go!. Stay safe

  • Gila Khabbaza
    Posted at 19:23h, 28 March Reply

    Thanks so much. Yes these are very trying times. I think that this is also a good time to go within and reflect – to prioritize the important things in life. I find myself going for a lot of nature walks, recharging my batteries, taking a lot of webinars, even exercise classes on line. It is a time to connect with loved ones, if not face to face, then Face-time, Zoom, and Skype, email, text, phone. It is a time to support one another and lift each other up. As a New Yorker in Maryland, I know that tough times do not last, but tough people do. It is also a good time to brush up on our language skills, and practice more. The kitty cat who took refuge in my apartment understands me when I speak English to her, but what about Arabic, Farsi, Dari and French? She seems to get it. And it’s good practice for me! 🙂 This is a time to stay positive, challenge ourselves, and support one another. We will get through this, on day at a time. Stay safe and healthy and take good care of yourselves: physically, mentally and spiritually. 🙂

    Thank you.

    – Gila Khabbaza
    Certified Court Interpreter: Arabic, Farsi, Dari

  • LAURA ELENA SALCIDO BLANCAS
    Posted at 17:04h, 30 March Reply

    Thank you! Good ideas

  • Alfredo Babler
    Posted at 20:29h, 30 March Reply

    Okay, first of all: I am not a doctor (not even close). I do know how to read, though. This is just my layman’s understanding of the data in regards to how the “possible” therapeutic effect of Zinc might work. I neither know if this is true nor am I advocating or recommending anything. Consult your doctor for professional advice. So, for what I’ve gathered, Zinc is the most hopeful way to protect oneself against Covid-19. The FDA approved Hydroxychloroquine today as a treatment, so I just did some research on that. Maybe you guys can do your own research too and we can try and figure this thing out somewhat. Apparently, what the Hydroxychloroquine does is act as a “Zinc Ionophore.” What I think that that means, again, from my layman’s brain, is that it takes the Zinc you have in reserves in your system and pushes it into the mitochondria of the cells. When the virus attempts to connect to its targeted cell it gets, for lack of more technical term, zapped and dies by the ionic charge of Zinc (metal) in the cell membrane. Apparently that’s how quinine is able to stave off malaria. These are the times I wish I had a doctor in the family. Oh, and yeah, I digressed… again. Uhm, Tai-Chi and play “Ball-in-a-Cup” are good stay at home activities.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=P4tfL_oCUPA
    Gallows Humor.

  • Alfredo Babler
    Posted at 08:15h, 31 March Reply

    Alrighty then, this is the best one I’ve read so far (been reading a lot). They were talking about Ibuprofen creating an increased immune system reaction and whether it was a fact or not that NSAIDs worsened the Covid-19 infection into pneumonia. Good grief! This bug is nasty. If you read this study, you’ll find everything there is to know about Zinc, including a portion on how it can prevent a “cytokine reaction,” which seems to be the culprit in the excessive fluids in the lungs caused by Covid-19 (your own immune system ends up screwing you). The Chloroquine approved or proposed treatment that Hannity talked about from a doctor that claims 100% success rate, mentioned Zinc. Old people are Usually Zinc-depleted. I’ve been curious since.
    That’s all I have. I’m exhausted now, but I Zinc it was a good mental exercise. See what I did there? Eh? Badabing? Long read, but well with it. Enjoy:
    https://immunityageing.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1742-4933-6-9

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