words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Stop doubting and start believing

It's not who you are that holds you back. It's who you think you're notAs most of you know, I’m a freelance writer.

Like any other profession, the life of a freelancer has it pros and cons.

Pros include choosing my own hours, being able to work in my pyjamas, having a coffee machine less than 10 steps away, and being flexible enough to watch my kids at their various school activities or have lunch with a friend.

Cons include competing deadlines, varying monthly income, the need to work nights and weekends at times, and having to line up your own work.

For now, the pros outweigh the cons and I am pretty happy to be living the life of a freelancer. The ebb and flow of work also allows me to work on my first novel. (But that’s a different story for a different blog post).

 

Contributing writers, volunteers and interns

However, one of the pitfalls of a freelance writer is the need to constantly be on the lookout for work. Sometimes work comes in as a result of groundwork laid months or even years ago. But it can take time to build that momentum. So I have several email alerts set up to notify me of various writing jobs available.

Some of these jobs offer reasonable pay but most pay a pittance. I actually wrote a post a while back about the generous offer to pay $20 for 2,500 words which equated to less than 1 cent per word).

However, the more alarming and frustrating trend I am noticing is the expectation of writers to work for free.

Hard to believe?

Well, it’s pretty common in the world of freelancing and unfortunately, it is becoming more commonplace. It’s not unusual for me to see as many as 10 of these ‘job ads’ per day!

These job ads are very cunning. They start out as normal job ads, stating what their company is and what the ideal incumbent is like. These ads often request people with degree-qualifications, high-end research skills, native-English speaker, attention to detail, willingness to work hard and ability to deliver to brief. You can also expect wonderful working conditions. Blah blah blah.

The kicker is usually hidden, right at the end.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pay for writers at this time, but you will gain tremendous experience.

OR

This unpaid position is ideal for someone wishing to build a portfolio of work.

OR

In return, you will gain valuable experience and learn the ropes of writing for a digital platform.

In other words, ‘we want top notch writers who have loads of experience writing interesting researched-based articles, who are willing to work for nothing’.

 

Believe in yourself — or you’ll work for free

These ads anger me for several reasons.

  1. They promote the premise that good writers are not worth paying
  2. They play on the self-doubt that plagues many writers, that they aren’t good enough to request a fee
  3. They devalue writing skills in general
  4. They devalue the writing industry by setting up expectations for other business owners, that good writing can be obtained for free
  5. The business model behind these ads is based on exploiting people and their talents
  6. The business owner expects others to work for nothing in order for them to build their business (i.e. get ahead at the expense of others).

For every one ad that is willing to pay a writer a decent amount, there are at least 20 – 30 looking for a freebie. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

But what I am more sick of are the writers who agree to such terms, because they are really not helping their cause, or mine.

Every time a writer agrees to write for free, they undermine their own worth, the worth of other writers and devalue the writing industry in general.

The reason so many people respond to these ads, is because they doubt their skills are worth paying for. They don’t back themselves. Instead, they gladly accept any job that comes their way, even if it means they don’t get paid.

It’s kind of like being offered scraps from the dinner table and being over the moon about it.

 

Know what you’re worth…and stand by it

If writers stopped doubting their abilities and demanded to be paid, then these ads wouldn’t be tolerated, let alone answered.

Today I saw another ad for a ‘start-up’ wellness company. They were looking for “content writers/creators for blogs, research articles, marketing material and newsletters mainly focusing in health, wellbeing and fitness”. That’s exactly my niche, so I continued reading. (Note the grammatical error is the advertiser’s — no wonder they need writers) …

“All content will need to be original, and target our the desired readers along with the consideration of SEO.

We are looking for someone who is reliable, hardworking and keen to produce content. In return, you will gain valuable experience, working for a new up and coming health start-up company.”

I immediately saw red. I was so angry, I had to step away from my computer for a while.

But after thinking about it, I decided to contact them.

I wrote quite a detailed email responding to their ad, outlining my experience, my skills, my publishing credits and provided them with links to all my published works.

I finished my email with this sentence:

“I’m sure I have the skills you are looking for, so I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with your further. There’s just one thing …. I want to be paid for my expertise. If you are willing to pay me, we may be able to work together.”

I called them out on looking for free labour and told them I was worth paying.

For the record, I don’t expect them to respond. But that wasn’t the point of my email. I wanted to tell them they needed to rethink their advertising.

Instead of being angry about their ad, I told them I was worth something. I took back my power.

 

Do you practice self-doubt or self-belief

Sometimes it’s not easy to back yourself.

Self-doubt is probably the biggest hurdle for writers. Is this the right style? Will they like what I write? Is this the right angle to take? Am I good enough to write this?

When work seems to dry up, it’s very easy to think the worst — that you just can’t make it as a writer.

However, writers don’t have the monopoly on self-doubt. Everyone experiences it.

The man who wants to change careers but doubts he has what it takes.

The business owner who wants to expand her business, but questions whether she will be successful.

The boy wanting to represent his country at the Olympics one day, but wonders if he is good enough.

The student wanting to study law, but doubting she has the smarts.

The aspiring novelist wondering if she is kidding herself.

you can do anythingAs I see it, we have two choices.

We can keep doubting, or we can start backing ourselves.

We can keep questioning our abilities, or start believing in them.

We can keep wishing for dreams, or start working towards them.

The choice is ours.

Personally, I’m choosing self-belief, because I’m worth it.

And you’re worth it too.

 

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you (and you are willing to pay her), contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

 

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Mind over matter: how I lifted 125kg without even knowing it

Our brain is a magnificent organ. Without it, we would die.

The most complex part of our body, it is responsible for every thought and action we have. It can retain and recall information, control voluntary muscles, balance, movement and coordination. It controls bodily functions such as digestion, breathing and blood circulation. It produces hormones that are vital for many systems of our body to work properly, and it controls our core temperature.

On top of all of this, it is estimated that we have anywhere between 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts every day. That’s around 35 to 48 thoughts per minute!

What an incredible machine we have inside our skulls!

But do we use it to its full capacity?

I’d say most of us don’t.

While there are many processes in the brain that we can’t control, we do have control over our thoughts. We can control what we place in there, what we give our attention to, and what we let run rampant.

mind over matter

Negative thoughts are like weeds

Negative thoughts can choke us

Have you ever seen an overgrown garden? Grass grows through the garden beds — sometimes higher than your head. Weeds are the dominant plant, spreading with great ease. These weeds choked and sucked the very life out of the beautiful plants and flowers that once grew there. An overgrown garden is chaotic and serves no purpose at all.

Our minds can become like overgrown gardens if we are not careful.

If we don’t take the time to cut off the negative thoughts that we have, they soon take root inside and hold us captive.

Thoughts like “I can’t”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m stupid”, “I’m scared”, “I don’t know”.

Some of the most powerful thoughts we have are negative words that someone else uttered to us once years ago, yet we replay it over and over in our heads as if it were truth.

“You’re no good”, “You’re useless”, “No one likes you”, etc. etc.

What we think about (or allow ourselves to think about) pretty much shapes our lives. If you don’t consciously think about anything, then chances are the negative reel of your thoughts is playing in the background anyway.

What we think, we become. What we dwell on, we attract.

Even thinking about what you don’t want to happen causes that very thing to happen.

If I say to you, “don’t think about a red car”, what do you immediately think of?

Yep, a red car.

How can we tame our thoughts?

It’s pretty impossible to stop thinking at all. How many times have you tried meditating and ‘emptying your mind’, only to start thinking about what you have to get done that day, or wondering what you are going to have for dinner? 1 minute, 2 minutes…5 minutes, if you’re lucky? And that’s when you are consciously trying to block them out!

So if we can’t stop thinking, how can we change our thinking?

Dr Wayne Dyer (who sadly passed away this year), was an internationally renowned speaker and author of more than 40 books, in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth, likens our thoughts to the stock market ticker that runs along the bottom of a screen, with each stock price representing a single thought.

With 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts running through our heads on any given day, this ticker is running constantly. We are capable of thinking many opposing thoughts within seconds. Sometimes we can jump from one idea to another and end up feeling fear, ecstasy, joy, worry and sadness, all within moments of each other.

In order to begin to tame our thoughts, Dr Dyer recommends we see our thoughts as things on a conveyer belt, continually running past us in our minds. Take a thought off the conveyer belt and see how it feels. If we don’t like the way we feel, put the thought back and take another one. Keep doing that until we find a thought that makes us feel good. Continually choose thoughts in this fashion, taking note of the ones that leave us feeling good.

If we see ourselves as having the power to pick and choose thoughts, based on how they make us feel, then we take great steps in preventing our minds from being choked out by the negativity that often runs unchecked through there.i get what I think about

Start to choose the right thoughts to dwell on, and our life will change for the better. Start to believe the positive thoughts we place into your mind, and we will start to achieve things we never thought possible.

The power when we believe we can do something

After training today, I realised the power of my mind. It was deadlift day and we are at the end of the program. We have one more week to go before we lift as heavy as we can for 1 rep. Today, my training partner and I were aiming to lift 115kg for up to 4 reps.

I was confident I could get at least 2-3 reps out. The week before, I had lifted 110kg for 4 reps. In my last training block, I managed 1 rep at 115kg before lifting my heaviest at 120kg. So I knew I could lift 115kg.

I went up to the bar, positioned my body, focused my mind and lifted. The bar came up, but not all the way up. I was baffled. Why couldn’t I lift it? I had a break while my partner lifted. He got out his 4 reps. I went back to the bar determined to get my deadlift all the way up, because I knew I could do it.

YES! This time it came up all the way. But I couldn’t do any more than 1 rep. Disappointed, I watched while my partner did his second set. I was determined to get 2 reps out next set. This was my third attempt. I was already tired after a full warm-up, but I knew I could do 115kg. Nope. Nothing left in the tank. I only got it off the floor and back down again.

I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get my full reps out when I knew that I had lifted it before. My partner and I discussed it, and we decided that our warm-up was perhaps too heavy, leaving us tired for our actual working sets. That made a little sense to me, so my disappointment abated.

This morning I took a photo of the weights on the bar, because it looked insane with all those weight plates on it. I’m glad I did.

When I came home, I looked at my photo and did a double-take. I counted the weights. I counted them 6 times. I asked my son to count them. I sent my training partner the photo and got him to count them. After counting 3 times, he confirmed what I had discovered.

We had lifted 125kg instead of 115kg!

That’s 15kg more than last week and 10kg more than we planned. No wonder it was heavy!

IMG_7886

That’s 125kg, not 115kg!

However, if I knew it was 125kg, there would have been doubt in my mind. 125kg is new territory for me. Until today, I’ve never lifted that heavy before. I would have gone up to the bar wondering how heavy it would feel; wondering whether I could lift it properly. I probably would have worried about failing to lift it. Those seeds of doubt would have continued to run through my mind during the lift, ultimately sabotaging my success.

But I lifted it because I ‘knew’ I could. In my mind, it was just 115kg. I had done it before, so why not again?

In the process, I reached a new PB without even being aware.

That’s the power of the mind.

Change your thought process

We have a phrase in our training group — “Don’t think, just lift”. That’s because when we think about how heavy our weights really are, we can freak out a little and seeds of doubt begin to sprout.

Sometimes if we think too much about things, we become overwhelmed with the ‘heaviness’ of the task. It seems to big, too hard, too impossible. We allow the doubt and negative thoughts to come into our heads. We can let great opportunities pass us by because we end up paralysed by fear. In those cases, it’s better not to think, but just get on and do what you need to do.

However, if we can take it a step further and take the time to sow positive thoughts; thoughts of “I can”, “I am capable”, “I am worthy”, “I am courageous”, and really believe we are those things, we will find that we can do a whole lot more than we ever could before.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

My extraordinary life

A riddle: What is more precious than gold, but cannot be bought, earned or saved?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s something we often say we don’t have enough of, particularly when we are busy. Yet when we stop and take a breath, we wonder where it went.

Time.

Time is a funny thing.

A minute of sprinting (when you’re not very good at it), can seem like an hour.

A 30-minute filling at the dentist can feel like years.

Waiting several weeks for a special celebration can seem like an eternity.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

I have made so many different cakes over the years.

Yet 10 years can go in an instant.

We have just celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday.

To celebrate her ‘double-figures’, she had a special party with nine of her friends. We spent months planning it, organising invitations and lolly bags.

The day of her birthday I spent hours making her cake, and organising her special birthday dinner.

The following weekend, we hosted an extended family celebration, and spent days preparing food and getting the house ready.

By the time we took a breath, it was all over, and our little girl — the baby of our family — had turned 10.

We wondered aloud: “Where did the last 10 years go?”

After all the presents had been unwrapped and the leftover cake put away, I looked through the countless photos of birthdays past, including the plethora of cakes that I had made over the years — 12 years in fact.

There were cupcakes and fairy cakes, lolly cakes and monster cakes, flowers and butterflies, a tennis court, a house, a piano and even an artist’s palette.

I remember making every one of them, each time thinking, “this is taking a forever”, or something along those lines. Yet the only thing remaining of those cakes is photographic evidence that they ever existed.

I am sure all of us are caught in this time warp of sorts — impatient for a moment to pass, yet reminisce about time gone by, because it happened all too quickly.

Mindfulness experts often bang on about being ‘present in the moment’. They believe it is a way to improve happiness and deal with difficult times. However mindfulness is not always possible, or desirable. I for one like to think about something else while the dentist drills my tooth for a filling. Furthermore, finding a quiet coffee shop is much preferable to wandering around a shopping centre focusing on the screams of a 2 year-old having a tantrum.

But I understand the point. We should be ‘present in the moment’, and filing it in our memory bank, rather than focusing on rushing to the next moment.

One of my favourite movies is About Time. It’s the story of a young man called Tim, who is told shortly after his 21st birthday that every male in his family has the ability to travel back in time — but only to a point in time that they have already been in.

My extraordinary life Write to the Point

The artist’s palette, tennis court and house were particular favourites.

All they have to do is enter a dark place (like a cupboard), close their eyes, think of where they’d like to go, squeeze their fists and there they are. Once they are in that moment, they have the opportunity to correct any ‘wrong’. Some of these ‘wrongs’ are small, embarrassing moments that happen to most of us. Some have wider-reaching consequences.

Towards the end of the movie, Tim’s father shares of how he used the gift of time travel. He used to live his day with all the anxiety, stress, frustration and busyness that it brought. Then he would go back and do it again, knowing that things would work out, and therefore able to enjoy the moment, enjoy his life and the interactions he had with people throughout the day. To experience the pure joy of living and making the most of the time he had.

Tim follows his advice for a while and lives each day twice. Eventually he stops travelling in time.

The truth is I now don’t travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life.”

We all have the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. We just need to show up, and notice it. We need to look for the enjoyment of it and actively participate in it.

It may be noticing the scenery when you travel in the car.

It may be watching your child’s soccer game, instead of playing on your phone.

It might be holding your partner’s hand while you watch TV.

Perhaps it’s making eye contact with the person you are having coffee with, instead of looking at everyone else in the coffee shop.

It may even be focusing on the simple task of icing and decorating a birthday cake.

As I look back over the last 12 years’ worth of birthday cakes, I am blessed to remember making each one of them. They were not just cakes and icing. They represent joyful celebrations of my kids’ lives. They represent their interests and passion at differing stages of their life. They represent joy and happiness and blessings — two blessings in the shape of my children.

They also serve as reminders, that I have indeed been blessed with an extraordinary life.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Lessons for living

Most parents look out for the lessons we can teach our kids.

We take the opportunity to teach them about fractions when they are helping us bake.

While reading a story we ask them to think of words that rhyme with a word on the page.

When going for a bush walk, we encourage them to look around to see how many different animals they can find.

Yet every now and then, our kids teach us lessons — if we just take the time to watch, listen and learn.

Today was my daughter’s school athletics carnival. It also doubled as selection trials for District Athletics.

For those of you who know my daughter well, she’s not a naturally gifted athlete. She’s always happy to be involved and give it a go, but athletics is not her passion. She’s more at home with a song in her heart, or her hands on the keyboard.

However, today she was more than happy to be involved. In fact, she had entered as many events as she could and was really looking forward to competing.

On the way to school, I asked her if she thought she’d make a District team.

“Maybe,” she said. “We practiced high jump yesterday.”

“How did you go?”

“Really good! I didn’t get out until the second time the rope went up.”

“Oh that’s good,” I said, secretly thinking she didn’t have a chance.

So I asked: “Will you be disappointed if you don’t make a team?”

“Nope!” she said. “I just want to go along, represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.”

As I dropped her off at school I promised to see her out on the field.

An hour or so later and we were ready to get underway.

Event number one was the 100m sprint. Ready, set, go! They were off. Down the track she runs, big smile on her face and only just scrapes in at second last.

IMG_6064

Over we go on the high jump

Event number two was high jump. While she’s lining up waiting to jump, she gives me a wave and a big smile. Time to jump. Over she goes. Another big smile. Fast forward a few jumps later and she ends up finishing fourth and wins her very first ribbon for a solo event. She was ecstatic!

Event number three rolls around. 200m sprint. She’s in the last heat with some fast runners. And they’re off. She’s leading initially, but only because she’s in the outside lane (LOL). Overtaken by one, overtaken by two. Soon, she’s running last. The other runners are getting faster and she seems like she’s slowing down. But all I can see is the smile on her face. It was so big it made my heart swell. As she crossed the finish line, the other girls cheer and pat her on the back with a “good job, Laura” or a “well done”. She is beaming. However, the best surprise is yet to come. Based on their times, she finishes 8th out of all the girls. I was shocked!

Event number four is the long jump. Once again she’s ready to compete and gives it her best. She comes away with nothing, not even a PB. Yet the smile doesn’t leave her face.

Event number five is the discus. She’s never thrown a discus before. She enters the cage and asks the teacher “What do I do?” I, (perhaps inappropriately), burst out laughing. She looks at me and laughs too. Then she swings the discus around and lets it fly, feeling very proud that she has done something new. On her second attempt, she betters her distance by more than 2 metres, and ends up finishing around 6th or 7th place!

After a break for lunch, it’s back out onto the field for the shot put. She’s never done that before either so I was interested to see how she’d go. She gets out there and her technique is fantastic for someone who has never thrown it before. Her best distance after three throws was 4 metres. Not good enough to win a ribbon, but her delight in improving with every throw is priceless.

The last event, number seven, is the triple jump. I don’t know if you have watched many kids attempt the triple jump but many of them struggle with the technique. Some kids get it and other kids don’t. Laura did and after three rounds finished with a PB of 4.95m and a fourth place ribbon.

IMG_6071

Throwing the discus for the first time

Two individual ribbons in one day! Neither of us expected that.

As I reflect back on the athletics carnival, there are five key lessons that I learned from my daughter:

LESSON No. 1. Always have a plan and know what you want to achieve. Laura’s goal was to “represent my house, have fun, do my best and try to be better than I was last year.” She wasn’t trying to ‘beat’ anyone. She wasn’t aiming to ‘win’. Those things weren’t important to her, so she focused on what did matter. As well as having fun, she achieved 3 PBs and won 2 individual ribbons.

LESSON No. 2. Don’t compare yourself. How many of us compare ourselves to other people and find ourselves wanting? A number of Laura’s friends are great athletes and usually win ribbons in most events. One of her best friends always cleans up at sports days. Today that girl entered 6 events and achieved 4 firsts, 1 second and 1 third. If Laura compared herself with her friends, she would have come home feeling discouraged and ‘not good enough’. Instead, she came home on a high, being proud of what SHE achieved.

LESSON No. 3. Always smile. One of the best things from today was Laura’s smile. She smiled before her events. She smiled during her events. She smiled when she came last. She smiled when she came fourth. She smiled for the whole day. She didn’t think about how slow she was while running. She didn’t worry about whether she was ‘winning’. She was just happy to be there in the moment, giving it her best.

LESSON No.4. Be proud of what you achieve. Laura is still beaming and is so proud of herself for ‘her best results ever’. On the way home from the carnival, she had to ring several family members to tell them how she went. When her dad came home from work, the first thing she did was show him her ribbons and the scrap piece of paper on which she recorded her PBs. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook our achievements, particularly when we focus on what others have achieved. But today Laura showed me just how happy you can be, by being proud of what YOU achieve.

IMG_6086

So proud of what she had achieved today.

LESSON No. 5. Cheer for others. Sometimes it’s difficult to cheer for other people. Sometimes we feel they don’t need it, or deserve it. Sometimes jealousy causes us to stay silent. However, when someone is cheering for you, it can mean so much. When Laura crossed the finish line of her 200m race, in last place and a long way behind the others, the other girls cheered for her. And I could tell in that moment, it meant the world to her, because the smile that was upon her face became even bigger.

Today was a good day. Actually, today was a great day.

While Laura didn’t qualify for the District athletics team, she taught me that with the right attitude, we can always feel like a winner.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

Dreams and plans

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaWhen I was a girl, I had a dream. It was a very unrealistic dream, but I dreamt it nevertheless.

There was no way that I could ever achieve it — even if I devoted every minute of my life to it, and all of my money.

Would you like to know what it was?

I dreamed of reading every single book that had ever been written.

A silly dream? I know some of you can’t even imagine finishing one book!

However, I was a young, avid reader. I would read the cereal box if there was nothing else to read. I spent all my pocket money on books and my spare time reading them. Reading them was my favourite thing to do. Once I went on a day-trip with our local church. My mum gave me some money to spend on ‘something special’. I came home with two new books. That wasn’t really what she had in mind. But they were special, weren’t they?

I would often read way past bedtime. Sometimes I stayed up until I had read the whole book from start to finish. (Shh. Don’t tell my mum).

I couldn’t imagine anything lovelier than a life of just reading. Reading. Reading. Reading.

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaHowever, as I got older I realised what an unrealistic dream it was. Once I got to high school and had to read set novels that I absolutely hated, it dawned upon me that to achieve my dream, I’d have to read things I hated. When I discovered that new books were published every day, then I quickly realised that time was running out — I’d never have enough time!

Then there was always that pesky question of whether I would have to read books in a different language.

When it came down to it, the dream was too hard and unrealistic, so I let it die.

Sometimes dreams are unrealistic and the best thing to do is to let them die. A life spent chasing the impossible is not only frustrating, but it is a waste. A waste of time, a waste of energy and a waste of other opportunities that are possible.

But what about those dreams that are possible, yet require a lot of hard work and effort? Should we let them die just because they seem impossible?

Or is there something we can do to increase our chances of success?

I believe there is. It’s called a plan.

Planning is something most of us do anyway. We plan our meals. We plan our weekends. We plan our holidays. Why not plan our success too?

Sometimes dreams can take years to fulfil. Sometimes to achieve the ultimate goal, you need to achieve many goals along the way.

Take becoming a brain surgeon for example. There are 13 years of school to complete, then six years studying an undergrad medical degree. After that, a further six years of specialist training. If a little girl starting school this year aspires to be a brain surgeon, she has 25 years of hard work ahead of her, and wouldn’t be qualified until 2040!

Dreams and Plans words by nerissaShould she give up, simply because it is hard and will take a long time?

Everyone has dreams.

“Wouldn’t it be great if…..”

“One day I’m going to…”

“I wish….”

The trouble is that’s what most of them will ever be — dreams and wishes and a life of regretting that you never achieved what you so dearly wished for.

Unless you have a plan, then the chances of achieving success is slim.

Being successful in your life is a little like taking a road trip. You need to know where you are going, you need to know from where you are starting and you need a map. When taking a road trip, we usually look for the milestones along the way — usually a town, a river or a turnoff. By following the map, we don’t get lost. But if we simply get in the car and drive, then who knows where we will end up?

When you have a map, it’s also easy to overcome any roadblocks. You can easily identify another route that will get you to your end destination.

Fear often stops us from success, but so does the lack of a plan.

Planning takes thought. Planning takes work. Yet planning is often the difference between wishing and succeeding.

Do you have a plan?

If so, then you are a step ahead of the dreamers.

If not, you had best get busy making a plan.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

Choose your words wisely

words behaviourHow do you speak to your boss?

How do you speak to your kids?

How do you speak to yourself?

I bet you are a lot kinder to your boss and your kids than you are to yourself.

When you talk to your boss, what kinds of words do you use? What kind of image do you want to project? Is it an image of efficiency, following the rules, doing a good job, showing your initiative, proving yourself? What kinds of words do you use when you speak? Most probably positive, affirming ones.

What about your kids (or friends, if you don’t have kids). How do you speak to them? If you’re like most parents, you probably use words that encourage, praise and build them up. You use words to help them become confident and resilient. You use words to reassure them, and to teach them valuable life lessons. When you need to, you can be firm, but you do it with love.

Now what about you. How do you talk to yourself?

Do you use positive, affirming words or words to praise, encourage and build yourself up? Do you speak to yourself with love?

I’m willing to bet if we could listen to most people’s internal dialogue, it wouldn’t be very pleasant. It would probably be full of self-loathing, put-downs, limiting beliefs and chastisement.

Do the following phrases sound familiar?

“I’m so stupid”

“I’m so ugly”

“I’m so fat”

“I’m hopeless”

“I can’t get anything right”

“I’m not good enough to do that”

“I can’t”

It is said that the average person has anywhere between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts every day. When the majority of those thoughts focus on putting yourself down or talking negatively to yourself, what do you think will manifest in your life?

Children who are constantly told that they are useless, a waste of space, no good, dumb, won’t amount to anything, often do go on to be these things, because that’s all they have ever been told and that’s what they come to believe as the truth.

Would you ever speak to your children like that? Then why do you talk to yourself like that?

When you believe you can’t do things or you are not worthy, then your thoughts become your actions. You don’t do things and you act like you are not worthy. People (especially your children) see someone who doesn’t believe in themselves, who isn’t achieving to their full potential, who has given up on their dreams, who has given up on life. They see someone who is miserable, and bitter and negative.

Words are powerful things.

To look at an individual word, it doesn’t look like much. After all, it’s just a bunch of letters put in a particular order. But change a few letters and it can make a world of difference.   Choose your words wisely

For example:   “I can’t” can easily become “I can”.

“I am not….” can easily become “I am…..”

See the difference?

Words are powerful things. They have the power to build up or to tear down. They have the power to make you smile, or make you cry. They can be the difference between doing and not doing. They can be the difference between failure and success.

If your life isn’t where you want it to be, maybe you need to change some of the words in your vocabulary.

It may just make all the difference.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications.This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.  

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.  

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com  

Lessons from 2014

It’s amazing how quickly a year goes by.

As I write this, it’s the last day of 2014, but it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were leaving 2013 behind.

Like many people, I have spent the last few days of the year thinking and reflecting upon the year that is almost done.

In short, it’s been a busy and challenging year with lots to look back on. However, the most important things I have taken from this year are things my children have taught me.

They have taught me many things this year, but there are four things that have really stood out.

Don't let fear hold you back

This boy doesn’t let fear hold him back.

Drop the fear and get involved in life

Many of us let fear hold us back. We are afraid to try new things or do what we really want to do because of fear. We may be afraid of what others will think; afraid of not knowing anyone else; afraid that it will be difficult; afraid that it will involve sacrifice or (insert your own fear here).

However, when we listen to our fears and let them rule us, we miss out on so much.

My son, Josh is a great example of ‘getting in and having a go’. If he feels any fear, he doesn’t acknowledge it or even speak of it. He just ‘does’. He’s always up for a challenge and willing to try new things, even if he has never done them before, or doesn’t know anyone else who is doing them. He doesn’t let other people’s opinions prevent him from doing what he wants to do. In short, he doesn’t let fear hold him back. And he is loving life.

Look to the future

The future is something that can excite us or scare us. I think one of the reasons we find the future so scary at times is the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what is in store and we usually focus too much on the negative ‘what ifs’, rather than the positive possibilities.

My son is about to start a new journey at high school. Even though this is a huge change and he doesn’t know many others going to that school, he’s still looking forward to it with anticipation and excitement. He’s looking forward to meeting new people, and learning new things. He’s also looking forward to discovering just what it is he wants to do career-wise when he grows up. To him, his future is an endless sea of possibilities.

Work on your weaknesses

Just as all of us have strengths, we all have weaknesses too. However most of us focus on our strengths — the things we are good at, and avoid our weaknesses — the things we are not so good at.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter, Laura set some goals for the coming year (with the help of her teacher). All the children were asked to identify one thing that they needed to work on. Hers was ‘confidence’. My daughter is a natural-born worrier which can sometimes lead to anxiety and a lack of confidence. However, this year she has worked very hard on becoming more confident.

She has put herself in situations that made her feel very uncomfortable. So much so, that on some nights, it took hours for her to drop off to sleep due to how worried she was. She has taken on challenges that she would normally shy away from, and ended up performing very well. However, the biggest lesson she has learnt from all of this is that things are never as bad as you imagine them to be. By stepping out of her comfort zone, she has learnt that she is capable and that has led to a newfound confidence. So always, always work on your weaknesses.

Follow your own path

This girl is not afraid to follow her own path

Follow you own path

This is a hard thing to do sometimes. Often we have a goal in mind, or something we want to try, yet we get caught up with what everyone else is doing. The primary school my daughter goes to is very big on basketball. About half the school play after-school basketball (my daughter included), and many kids play for domestic teams as well. This year, many of my daughter’s friends were joining domestic basketball teams and a few of her friends asked her if she would join too. We also asked her several times if she wanted to join another team.

Her answer was a steadfast ‘no’. No, because she wanted to keep playing her keyboard and continue with her singing. In fact, she has done so well with her singing this year, she was asked to join the Australian Girls Choir, next year. So while all of her friends are playing basketball, she will be pursuing her love of singing and music. She will be following her own path. Something she is able to do, now she has more confidence in herself.

So as I sit back and think of the coming year and all it will bring, I’m not making resolutions. Instead, I am thinking about how I can make the most of the coming 12 months, just as my children have done in 2014.

In 2015, I aim to:

  • Drop the fear and make the most of all opportunities that come my way
  • Follow my own path, regardless of what others are doing
  • Work on my weaknesses, so they become strengths
  • Look to the future with optimism and hope, rather than worrying about what could go wrong.

In short, I want to be braver than I have been in the past.

This morning while at the gym, I heard the song “Brave” by Sarah Bareillis, and I felt that in some ways, it summed up how I want to approach the coming year.

What are you aiming for in 2015? Are you going to be brave too?

What makes a champion?

When you think of the term ‘champion’, what or who do you think of?

Usually, it’s a word associated with a sportsperson. Usually that sportsperson has achieved something great. Usually the thing that they have achieved is winning an important game, tournament or match.

Most often, ‘champion’ refers to someone who has won something.

However, if you have kids, you’ve probably called them champions as well, even if they haven’t won or performed well in their chosen sport.

This week, both my kids played in basketball Grand Finals.

My son’s game had some significance attached to it because it was the very last game he would play for his school, as he is heading off to high school next year. You can imagine that all the boys were keen for a win — to go out on a high.

Alas, the game didn’t go to plan and they lost 12-31. Not exactly a close game. While there were no tears, there was a fair bit of disappointment from the boys. Like them, the opposition were keen for a win as it was their last time to play for their school. Put simply, the other team played better on the night and our boys finished runners-up for the season.

Understandably, my son was disappointed. And then my daughter presented him with this note:

IMG_5260

Dear Josh, Congratulations on 6 years of basketball at Yarra Road PS. You have played so well everey match. You have improved so much since you started in Grade 1. You always do your best and that’s what makes you a champion. Well done Joshie!! From Laura

After reading it, my son smiled and said “Thanks, Laura”.

Fast forward to later in the week and it was my daughter’s turn to play in her Grand Final. It was a close game (that involved many ‘dodgy’ calls against our team), but with two seconds to go the score was 6-6. Then the other team was awarded two ‘free throws’. The clock stopped and we held our breath. The first shot missed. Phew! Then, the second shot went in!

We couldn’t believe it. We lost the game by 1 point in the last 2 seconds! Once again, our team was disappointed. But being 9-year old girls, there were tears this time. Oh dear.

Following on from his sister’s lead earlier in the week, my son presented my daughter with a note of her own.

IMG_5297

Well done Laura on your basketball match tonight. I know you might be in pain and sadness, but you played really well. I hope you will be PREMIERS next season. From Josh.

She too smiled when she read it.

While it’s really nice to win, what makes you a champion is how you play the game. Do you give it your best? Are you committed to the team? Do you strive to improve each week? Are you gracious when you win? Can you bounce back when you don’t?

While my two kids didn’t ‘win’ their matches this week, they still earned the right to be called ‘champions’.

If you liked this blog post, you might like to read The rules of winning.

Write to the Point CommunicationsNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copywriting, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

 

The day I farewelled my little boy

Struggling to know how to tell your ‘not-so-little-one’ the truth about Santa? This is how I managed it last year…..

words by nerissa

2 year old Josh with the Christmas stocking I made for him. 2 year old Josh with the Christmas stocking I made for him.

A lump formed in my throat as I handed him the letter. I watched as he took it outside and sat down to read it in the garden. A tear rolled down my cheek. This was the end of something special.

 Dear Josh

You have asked a really good question – “Is Santa real?” 

I know that you want to know the answer, so I have given it some careful thought to know just what to say.

The answer is yes — and no.

There is no one, single Santa.

Dad and I fill your stocking and choose and wrap the presents under the tree — just as our parents did for us, their parents did for them, and you will do for your kids one day.

This could never make any of us Santa though…

View original post 894 more words

How many jellybeans do you have?

words by nerissaHow do you spend your time?

How valuable is it to you?

That’s something I have been challenged by lately, especially in the last month before Christmas.

As we all enter the ‘silly season’, time seems like such a precious commodity. All of a sudden, our time seems to be eaten up by attending extra events — school Christmas concerts, sporting club breakups, work Christmas parties, etc. etc.

When you add to this the list of things you need to do to get ready for Christmas itself, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Your catch-cry becomes “I don’t have time”.

However, the beauty about time is that it doesn’t discriminate. Whether you are rich or poor, single or married, old or young, we all have 24 hours in the day. It’s what we do with our time that matters.

Recently, I saw this video. It really made me think about what I do with my time.

Take a look.

As the video says, we all are given a set amount of time. Some of us have more time than others, but we really don’t know just how much time we do have.

And yes, it’s true that we need to spend a great chunk of time doing certain things such as going to work, household chores, preparing and eating food, sleeping and travelling. After you take out all of those things, it really doesn’t look like we have that much time left.

But really, we do. I think the key is to find enjoyment in all the things we have to spend time doing. If you have to spend time preparing food, then prepare food that you enjoy, that will nourish your body and soul. When you eat that food, make it special — set the table or light some candles. If you have to travel in the car, then listen to the music you love, or take time at the traffic lights to look at your child’s beautiful face. If you have to go to work, then find something you love.

And while we can’t really control what happens during our sleep, we can make our bedtime rituals a relaxing and blissful experience. Maybe having a bath, reading a novel, or simply curling up in your favourite pyjamas with a cup of tea is what takes your fancy

Many of us, particularly at this time of the year, stress out about ticking the next thing off our list. But as the video above shows, none of us know how much time we have left.

When we rush around and forget to live, we are really rushing towards the end of our lives.

How valuable is your time? And what would you do, if you only had one jellybean left?

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