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Inspiration from a photographer and homeschooling Mama - Interview with Josephine Minerva

Vividly remembered her youthful, excited-to-see-the-world, no-nonsense look when we first met at the Singapore Changi International Airport sometime in 2008. Since that first meeting, we've been inseparable until her family moved to Sydney and our family moved to New Zealand.

A lot has happened in between but she has continued to chase her dreams, ticking off goals one by one, changing mindset but always true to her values.

We can't wait to share to the world the inspiration we got from Josephine's story.

It's been days or weeks that we waited for this story to finish :)

(I guess you can't rush a great story)

Josephine, tell us a bit about your education background and why you chose to do photography as a job?

I'm a computer engineering graduate but only worked for about 9 years with that career. When I left Cebu to work in Singapore, I found myself a hobby in photography that eventually turned into something I'm very passionate about. I was self-taught mostly, learned from different resources online (mostly free, too) and eventually met fellow passionate creatives that also became inspiration on my photography journey too. By the time I got married in 2009 and pregnant in 2011, I decided to go full time as a Mama and do part-time photography. This set up would never have been possible without the supportive husband over these years who's the one working full time for us. 

What are some of the major work challenges you have had and how did you deal with them?

There's luckily been no major work challenges for me that I considered yet since being a photographer. I am grateful I have been able to attract the right clients that love what I do too and connect with the right people to work along side with. I didn't do as many shoots in a year as well because that allows a balance of time with work and family priorities, for me to stay creative and fuel my passion too and avoid stressful factors when possible.

However, when the pandemic affected all of us, including the small business owners like me, it sure made me worry too since some of my shoots have been postponed or cancelled. But to keep my creative juices flowing, I didn't stop taking photos and kept doing personal little projects during the lockdown period. I thought of sharing my time and did some FREE 'Front yard Project Family Mini-Sessions' (practising safe social distance restrictions and just standing out from the front yard to take photos) in my own neighborhood. It was a lovely way to meet and connect to more neighbors too since we are still practically new around the community here. It felt so good being able to reach out especially when I saw how the families felt lifted up during these challenging times.

After working in photography for years, and moving to Sydney, what do you think about it as a profession?

I'm incredibly grateful I get to do what I love since becoming a professional photographer. It has never felt like working at all in all honesty. It's always been a part time hustle though coz I only shoot mostly on weekends while most days I enjoy being a full time homeschooling Mama. It never was about growing the business for me financially too because I didn't want money to be a sole foundation. The business side of things naturally followed after and provided enough for the simplier lifestyle I enjoy now with my family. 

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I know that you have been homeschooling your daughter ever since. Tell us a bit about your homeschooling journey? What are some of the highlights and challenges?

Every time I'm asked that question, I try to come up with a shorter answer: Homeschooling for me has been a brave lifestyle choice and it's been working out for our current circumstances so far. I totally salute all Mamas (and parents) who mostly don't have a choice like mine and must work full time jobs to provide for the family. My circumstances can change at some point too. It didn't come easy of course. I've sacrificed not earning more from a full time job but it's because I've found more fulfilment in living less too, being a full time Mama and being able to provide a flexible independent learning journey for our daughter, Pixie, who is now 8yo, happily thriving and exploring endlessly. She's currently just finished reading 'Story of the World Vol1' , non-stop telling me what she's learned about world history - where silk originated in Ancient China, how she wants to learn to understand hieroglyphs etc... the spark in her eyes always tells me she's eager to learn more and that's been the greatest reward. Our days have been very flexible, she's got Ninja obstacles classes on other days and recently just enrolled her for a Singing lesson -- and that's what we love more about this entire journey in homeschooling (before and during covid) -- we value our unhurried days, waking up late or sleeping late and more priceless time spent together and spontaneous trips to places we love to explore. We have our fair share of good and bad days too of course but it's been very rewarding as I looked back at all the times we've coped and adapted to any challenges we have experienced.

Do you ever feel lost and not sure what you want to do?

Ooooooh YES! Countless times. Been to darker places, too and some of life's drama. But with God's grace and supportive family and friends to lean on, I've been always hopeful for brighter things and find my way back to courage and sanity, too.

What are some of the alternative Universe Josephine and what would she be

doing right now?

I'd love to travel more to other countries I haven't visited and live a Van life or in a tiny home overlooking ocean views.

Are you learning / struggling with / pondering about anything right now that you would like to share?

At the moment, it is unbelievable I'd pinch myself many times - but I am pretty content where we are and living my own simple dreams since we've moved to a humble shabby home near the Coast where everyday can be our own holiday near the beaches and starting to grow a good size backyard veggie garden. I have also been in the journey to live a minimalist, almost plastic-free and sustainable ways where possible and enjoying our ordinary days. Life's never perfect at all - there's sometimes marriage ups and downs, emotional episodes here and there and some little and big projects we want to accomplish too (like repainting our home exterior ourselves and adding decking) but I'm grounded to appreciate what we get to have and embracing more a slower grateful life as it comes.

Since Covid happened too, it's been heartbreaking to see what others have gone through and there'll always be someone who'll get it worse. I wished there was more I could contribute other than what I've done in my own little ways supporting some charities. I've recently joined a women's community network to meet like minded women in businesses too in my local community and hoping to connect and encourage one another. I've been able to team up too with a local magazine to support more small businesses and inspire people to keep shopping local in our community.

And finally, whose story would you want to read about on here?

One day, I want to see my own daughter, Pixie's story, here too and looking forward what her thoughts, challenges and dreams have become.

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