words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

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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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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…

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7 secrets to weight loss

scales2If you’re reading this, you probably need to lose weight.

This is not a judgement about you, rather a statement based upon obesity statistics in Australia.

You see, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia has been steadily rising for the past 30 years. The latest statistics from the National Health and Medical Research Council, indicate that around 60 per cent of Australian adults are classified as overweight or obese and more than 25 per cent of these, fall into the obese category.

Did you even know that?

Even more worrying is the obesity rates of our children — our next generation — are increasing too. It is estimated that around one in four children aged 5-17 years, are classified as overweight. Six per cent of these are obese.

However, I believe there is something even sadder than being overweight.

And that is the lengths — at best, ridiculous and at worst, dangerous — that people will do to shed extra kilos.

Now I am no expert in medicine, nutrition, exercise or weight loss. I don’t hold any official qualifications in any of those areas. But there are some secrets surrounding weight loss that you may not know.

Today, I am going to share them with you.

Secret No. 1 — Weight loss is not about weight loss

“What do you mean?” I hear you ask. Just that. Losing weight shouldn’t be about ‘weight loss’. Too many people focus on a number on a scale and think if that number is going down, they have lost weight. Hooray!

But what have they lost? Certainly weight. But is it the kind of weight you want to lose? If we are honest, we want (or need) to lose FAT. But most of us avoid using the word fat, because it has lots of negative connotations. So we use the word ‘weight’. It’s a bit more touchy-feely and less confronting, isn’t it?

But when you focus on losing weight, as opposed to losing fat, then you tend to focus on a number on the scale. A decrease in number on the scale can mean fat loss, but it can also mean fluid loss and muscle loss. This is more so the case, when following a fad diet or a ‘quick-fix’, (more on that later). So change your thinking and focus on ‘fat loss’.

Secret No. 2 — Weight loss is not about the scale

Losing weight (and you know I mean losing fat), should never, ever be about the scale. Sure, your doctor may have recommended you lose 20kg to improve your health. But if you lose 19.7kg have you failed? Will you still be striving, obsessing, doing whatever it takes to lose that extra 300g?

I would argue that if you are fixated on a scale, then yes, you would. Why? Because your focus has been on a number on a scale, rather than the health benefits gained by losing excess fat. Is an extra 300g going to make a HUGE difference to your health? I’m not a physician, but I would hazard a guess and say “no”.

So stop obsessing about the scale and the numbers on it. Instead focus on your health, how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting and how much more energy you have. These are all much more positive things to think about.

Secret No. 3 — Too much weight is put on a scale (pardon the pun).

When you are on a mission to lose weight, what is your focus? I mean, your main focus? Those darned scales, I bet. You jump on them when you wake up to see how much you weigh. You get on them after breakfast to see how much you ‘gained’. You have a sneaky weigh after going to the toilet. Hooray! You’ve lost half a kilo! You have a final weigh-in before bed to discover, (gasp!) you have gained a kilo since lunchtime! And if you are going to a weight loss meeting, you check your weight all day long and avoid drinking in case it ‘shows on the scales’.

Sound familiar?

How does weighing yourself make you feel? I’ll tell you how you feel. One minute you feel ecstatic, then next concerned, then you are happy again, but that soon turns to feeling overwhelmed, depressed, worthless, angry, frustrated and disgusted with yourself. And then the cycle starts again the next day.

Instead of reveling in and celebrating the fact you are making positive changes for your health in your life, you are instead riding a roller coaster of emotions, all day long. scalesAnd there are usually more downs than ups.

Our personal worth should not be caught up in scales, and nor should the value of making a healthy lifestyle change. Scales don’t congratulate us for drinking more water. They don’t clap when you avoided chocolate all day. They don’t say “well done”, for going for a walk. They certainly don’t reflect all the positive things about you — like what a good mother you are, how kind-hearted you are, what a creative thinker you are, how organised you can be or how your sense of humour makes others feel happy.

So the secret is out — get rid of the scales.

Secret No. 4 — To lose weight, you need to eat…and drink…and move!

“No, no, no!” you say. “You have to cut kilojoules to lose weight!”

Well, yes — and no!

Too many people think that cutting back on their kilojoules, omitting food groups and eating smaller portions is the way to lose weight. Wrong.

It might work in the short-term, but just how long can you avoid bread or potatoes? Are you prepared to eat entrée serves of steamed veggies and rubbery chicken for the rest of your life? Prepared to give up chocolate and ice-cream forever, in the quest of being ‘thin’?

Yes, it’s true you do have to cut back on your kilojoule intake if you want to lose fat. But you shouldn’t be eliminate food groups or reduce your food so much that you barely eat a thing. What this will do (along with leaving you tired, lethargic and cranky) is slow your metabolism down. And when you start eating again (because you will), you will gain anything that you lost and then some — only to start the process over again. Sigh!

Focus on eating whole foods that will nourish you, and get rid of processed foods. And don’t vow to live the rest of your life without the foods you enjoy. Seriously, no fat-free, sugar-free, preservative and chemical-laden food will replace the sensation of eating real chocolate, so eat the chocolate for heaven’s sake, if you really crave it. You’ll be satisfied and less likely to trawl through your pantry munching your way through a multitude of substitutes, only to end up eating the chocolate anyway.

Don’t be afraid of food. Eat it, enjoy it, be creative with it and savour it. Our bodies need REAL food for energy, for nourishment and for enjoyment. Food is your friend if you want to lose fat. And so is water. Don’t be afraid to drink it. After all, it won’t ‘show on the scales’ now you have ditched them!

And don’t forget you need to move. I am not a qualified exercise physiologist or a personal trainer, so won’t be giving advice on exercise. The only thing I will say is our bodies were designed to move. They were not designed to sit in a car, sit at a desk and sit on a couch for the majority of the day.

So seek the advice of a professional as to how to exercise, and then go and do it. The only pre-requisite…you need to enjoy it.

Secret No. 7 — Eating is never about the food

Believe or not, eating is not about food. That’s right. Eating is NOT about food.

Yes, we eat food, but our reasons for eating are purely about our feelings. We eat to celebrate, we eat because we feel hungry, we eat because we feel thirsty, we eat because we are angry, or sad. We eat to mask our loneliness or our boredom. We eat because we feel it’s the ‘right thing to do’ and we don’t want to offend people.

One of the secrets to fat loss is taking the emotion out of the food. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating. But instead try to focus on your reason for eating. If you are physically hungry, then eat, ensuring it is something nourishing that will take you closer to your goals. A whole packet of Tim Tams does not fall into this category!

If you want to eat (but aren’t actually hungry), then stop and  identify the real reason you want to eat. If you are bored, find something to do. If you are sad, phone a friend. Doing these things won’t mean you won’t eat . It just means you are more aware (and are consciously choosing whether to eat or not).

Secret No. 6 — Weight loss takes time

You might think you already knew this, but how many ‘quick-fixes’ or fad diets have you done? Be honest! “I’ll just do the shake diet to kick-start my weight loss” or “I’ve got a wedding in three weeks, and I have to fit into my dress. I’ve heard those body wraps give really good results.”

Seriously, get real. No fad, no gimmick and no quick-fix will work. Accept this as fact. Save your money and your sanity and accept that you didn’t gain 15 kilos in 2 weeks, so you’re not going to lose it in that time.

The best thing you can do is accept that it is going to take time to reduce your girth and then put your head down and get on with it.

secret to weight lossSecret No. 6 — Quick-fixes, fad diets and gimmicks don’t work

Now, use a bit of common sense for a minute. If all of these magic pills and potions and shakes and wraps worked, wouldn’t we all be a healthy weight?

Some of those quick-fixes out there are just plain ridiculous. Some are dangerous. For example, I saw a post on Facebook the other day advertising body wraps as a way to lose weight. Firstly, they cost a bomb, secondly they claimed to “go into your pores and attack your fat cells, releasing toxins which you urinate out by drinking lots of water”. Seriously, that doesn’t happen. And there is no medical or scientific evidence to prove it.

But here is the dangerous bit. While ‘wrapping’, you are supposed to drink half your body weight in water. Yes, that’s right — half your body weight. So if you weigh 80kg, then you need to drink 40 litres of water. Firstly, that’s impossible. Secondly, that’s fatal.

Your long-term health is more valuable than fitting into a little black dress, or having a ‘beach-ready body’. If something sounds too good to be true, then it’s not worth the piece of paper it’s written on. Please, please, please say “no” to these fads and gimmicks and put your health first.

Secret No. 7 — Losing weight won’t make you happy

Finally, you need to know that losing weight losing FAT will not make you happy.

“Sure”, you say. “I’ll be happier when I can do my jeans up,” or “I’ll be stoked to be seen on the beach this summer”.

While that may be true, I am willing to bet that if you are not currently happy with your life and happy with whom you are, then having a body like a model will not make you any happier.

Yes, you might slim down and have people stopping you in the street telling you how fabulous you look. But if you don’t already believe that you are fabulous, it won’t mean a thing. You see, the voice in your head that already tells you, you are useless, will be telling you that you’re a fake, that you don’t deserve these comments. And then any results you have achieved will slowly, but surely disappear as you comfort eat your way through a tub of ice-cream and you will still be the same, unhappy person you already were, only you would have gained back all the weight (fat) that you lost.

This is probably the most under-rated secret of them all. I believe you need to love yourself as you are NOW, to be successful in changing your weight.Weight does not dictate your health or your worth

This is probably the hardest thing to do as well, particularly if you have loathed or at the very least, disliked yourself for a while.

If you love yourself, you believe you deserve the best. You believe that you should take care of yourself. You believe you are important. You believe you are unique. You believe you are worth something and can offer something important to the world.

When you really, truly believe all these things, then you will be happy, regardless of what your body is like. No number on the scale, no size tag in your jeans can make you value yourself for the remarkable human being that you are.

 

As we move out of winter and into spring, advertising for weight loss companies will begin in earnest. Distributors will begin spruiking the benefits of their latest, crazy and ridiculous products, “guaranteed to help you lose weight”. Magazines will be filled with menu plans and ‘diets’ that the rich and famous have been on with “remarkable” results. And you will be feeling the pull, the temptation to jump on one of these bandwagons, hoping that it will take you into ‘slim-city’.

My hope in writing this post, is to encourage you (if indeed you need/want to lose fat) to go about it sensibly.

Don’t get caught up in the hype. Don’t invest your time and money in something that won’t work. Don’t get obsessive about your weight. And don’t forget this about being healthy, not thin.

Most importantly, remember you are worth something, no matter what your body shape.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa 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

 

 

Things I learned at primary school

Prep - Grade 6. How much they change

Prep – Grade 6. How much they change

This year heralds the last year of primary school for my son. Despite my reluctance, I have been forced to acknowledge this in a recent trip down memory lane.

Like most schools, our Grade 6 students have a graduation event at the end of the year. Already a group of us are beginning to organise it. Part of that organisation involves putting together a memory book for the kids of their time at primary school. Our job as parents was to go through all of our photos and pick out some that may be suitable.

What I thought would be a relatively quick exercise, took nearly a whole day. There was lots of laughter, some moments of sadness and a realisation that my son has done a whole lot of growing since being at school. And while searching through my archives and CDs full of pictures, I realised that even though I haven’t been an enrolled student in primary school for quite a number of years, I have actually learned some new lessons during my ‘second time around’ at primary school.

So if you have recently begun the primary school journey, or will do so in the next couple of years, I hope that my lessons may help you make the most of this incredibly special time.

Get involved: It can seem like a thankless task to be involved at school. And sometimes it is. But it’s important to be involved. By being involved you show your children that their schooling is important. It shows them that you value the school. By being involved (whether it be on a committee, helping out with excursions, school discos, stalls or being a class rep), you are taking an active interest in your child’s educational experience. And it’s one that they will value and remember forever.

Encourage your kids to be involved: Encourage your kids to play for a school sporting team, or join the environmental group, or go to the school disco. When your child is involved, they develop friendships and a sense of belonging. They feel connected to the school and it becomes a happy and safe place to be.

Help out: Teachers always appreciate help when needed (particularly in the younger grades). While going up to listen to kids reading every week wasn’t always my first choice of activity, I am so glad I did it. Not only does it help your children feel like you are interested in what they do, it helps you get to the know the children in their grade. One of my friends and I have some fond (and funny) memories of helping out during Grade 1 reading or with the Christmas craft. So there will be something in it for you too.

Get to know the teachers: I am really surprised at the number of parents who don’t get to know their child’s teacher. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should take the time to introduce yourself, particularly at the beginning of the year. When you see them in the playground, stop and say hello. After all, these people are spending most of the day with your child, so why wouldn’t you want to get to know them? They’re not intimidating and some of them are actually very nice people!

Support the teachers: On the subject of teachers, you really should support them. If you want them to give the best of themselves to the education and care of your child, then show them you’re on their side. If they are doing a good job, tell them — and the principal. Positive feedback goes a very long way. If you have a problem with them or their methods, then speak to them privately, rather than holding court in the playground and whingeing about everything you don’t like. If you don’t support and respect the person teaching your child, chances are your child won’t either — and that is only going to hurt your child in the end.

Make an effort when it’s time to dress up: Looking back, there were many ‘dress-up’ days throughout my son’s primary school life — all of which hold fond memories. I remember searching high and low for a green and gold shirt so my son could dress up as an “Australian Athlete” for the Prep alphabet concert. Letting him wear his pyjamas to school for the annual Teddy Bear’s Picnic for the Prep and Grade 5 buddies. There were days of running around looking for supplies so I could make a “Jack in the Beanstalk” costume for the Grade 1 Fairy Tale Ball. Off to the shops again to find some red pants so he could dress up as “Mr Strong” for Grade 1 Book Week or a red sheet for “Captain Underpants” for Grade 5 Book Week. And of course the annual Footy Day! Some days it was exhausting and my creativity ran dry at times. But the look on his face as he proudly displayed his costume was priceless. And it makes for some great photos!

Take pictures — lots of pictures: Speaking of photos, take them. Lots of them. Don’t just leave it for the ‘first day of school’ or them displaying a ribbon after winning the 100m dash. Take photos of them participating in sports. (I have a very funny one of my son in Grade 1 diving over the high jump rope. Yes, diving with this arms together and his hands pointing forward). The more photos you take the more memories you have. Take photos of them with their friends. Getting on the bus to go to camp. Getting off the bus to come home from camp. Sports days, Christmas concert, School production. Take photos at any opportunity. You don’t realise how much they change and grow during these seven years at school. When their primary school years are over, these photos will be among the few memories you have left.

On the subject of photos, take comparative pictures. Amongst my favourites are the First day of Prep and First day of Grade 6  photos. This year, we took the time to recreate the photos that we took all those years ago when my son started school. Same poses, same positions in the yard. And it is such a great way to see how much they really grow and change.

Go to sports days: It’s not always the most exciting of days. Standing around in the hot sun, waiting for your child to run or jump. And yes, there were many a time when I would have rather have stayed home. But I am proud to say I have made the effort to go to every single one. Sports days, Cross Country, District sports, Hoop Time — all of it. The same goes for other special events. ‘Open Day’ at school where you have an opportunity to look through your child’s class. Information nights, the multitude of concerts and performances throughout their young years. They will love you for supporting them, and you will love it simply because you are watching them shine.

Which brings me to the next point –

Cheer them on!: Sure, you child may not be the fastest runner, or the best reader, or the most creative when it comes to art. They may not even be very attentive when they need to be. But you have an opportunity to build them up, or pull them down. Always praise them. Don’t lie about them being the best. Instead, a simple “I love the way you tried your best and never gave up” or “I’m so proud of you for being part of the team” or “Your reading is getting better and better”, really does go a long way. That said, if they do win a race, or an award, then be proud. Don’t play down their achievements because others may be jealous. Congratulating a person on achieving something is an important part of life, particularly for a child.

Enjoy the experience: I’m the first to admit that primary school is not all roses. There are so many issues to contend with — concentrating in class, making friendships, learning to be organised, getting homework done, etc. But the time really does fly. One day you’re sending them off to the big world of school, and the next you’re prepping them to say goodbye to that familiar place. Primary school is such a huge part of your child’s life and your own. It’s precious learning and growing time, and time when your child will begin to exhibit natural gifts and talents. Make sure you take the time to enjoy it, rather than rushing from one thing to another.

Show an interest: Show an interest in your child’s school life. Ask them about their day. Sit with them while they do homework. Read some of their books with them. When they think you value school, then they will too. Not only will you have a handle on where your child is at, you will also open up the doors to a whole lot of different conversations and opportunities for learning.

And finally…

Don’t cry when it’s over: I can’t guarantee that I will achieve this one. In fact, I know I won’t. My son’s primary school years have been so much fun. The school has been such a wonderful community and has provided so many opportunities for my son to grow and learn. He has achieved success in many things, and learned hard lessons in other areas. He has brought tears of laughter to my face with his various performances, both on the sporting ground and on the stage. Did I say it was fun?

What fun we had dressing up!

What fun we had dressing up!

I think it’s ok to be emotional about a phase of their life being over, but it’s not okay to let that overshadow their excitement and enthusiasm to enter the world of high school. We shouldn’t make them feel guilty for growing up or wanting to move to the next phase of life.

I know that it’s still early on in the year. We still have close to 10 months of primary school left. But if the rate at which time has already disappeared is anything to go by, the remaining year will be over in a blink of an eye. So with the lessons above in mind, my son and I are set to make Grade 6 the best and most fun year of primary school ever.

And the way it’s going so far, I’d say we are well on track.

Nerissa 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

15 songs to inspire?…or perhaps make you laugh (because I’m so daggy)

treble clefI’ve been having a bit of fun this week. I have been updating my ipod playlist with songs in readiness for my next 12-week Transformation Challenge which kicks off in March.

I’ve been looking for songs that have inspired me in the past, or are attached to something inspirational that I can draw upon during that time.

My top 15 picks are below:

But before I share my choices with you, let me just preface by saying I know some of my choices are daggy, some are cheesy and some may show my age. However, perhaps by looking through this list, you may find some inspiration of your own.

If you’re not inspired, I hope at the very least, you are amused at my daggy-ness.

1.       Dreams by Van Halen

There is a clip of the US Navy Flight Demonstration Team — The Blue Angels, that is set to this song, which reminds me of my brother. His dream was to fly planes, born when he went to an International Air Show many years ago. He worked hard towards that dream, and finished his career with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), as a fighter pilot. This song reminds me of him and that with lots of hard work and determination, you can make your dreams a reality. The clip posted here is the one of the Blue Angels.

2.       Eye of the Tiger, by Survivor

Nothing more to be said than a classic song with typical ‘fighting’ lyrics and a ‘fighting’ beat. ‘It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, risin’ up to the challenge of our rival’. And it was the theme song of Rocky III — enough said. Released in 1982, the clip is full of typical 80s ‘special effects’.

3.       Don’t Stop Me Now, by Queen

Just love this song. It’s got a good beat, and it makes you feel good. It’s guaranteed to put a spring in your step, or a smile on your face. It’s also a little message to everyone that I’m chasing some goals, so ‘don’t stop me now’. However, as this song was released in 1979, I’m afraid the film clips is not very inspirational at all. Maybe just listen with your eyes closed.

4.       Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi had to feature on my list of songs. This is a favourite of ours — even the kids like to sing it in the car. Released just before my last year of high school, it takes me back to a time when dreams were big and belief in achieving those dreams was bigger. Special note to those younger than me: Long, big hair really was the ‘in-thing’ in those days and Bon Jovi are not the only ‘big-hair band’ from that era.

5.       Speechless, by Steven Curtis Chapman

This may be a strange choice to most of you. The song, by one of my favourite Christian artists, reminds me that no matter what is going on in my life — whether I am happy or sad, succeeding or falling flat on my face — that through all of that, ‘the God of this whole universe’ rejoices over all of us, including me. It’s good to be reminded that what we achieve for ourselves on this earth, is really not the most important thing at all — something that I forget from time to time. Along with the fact, that there is some divine help available to help you reach your goals — if you remember to ask for it.

6.       Undefeated, by Jason Derulo

There’s nothing deep and meaningful about this song. It’s just a happy anthem about never giving up, and not letting anything defeat you. It also has a good beat which is great to work out to. Unfortunately, there is no decent film clip to this song, so just close your eyes and imagine yourself winning!

7.       You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban

This song is a change of pace. It’s more of a ballad, but a very powerful ballad. This was played at the end of the most amazing three-day personal development course that I attended. So it has lots of powerful memories for me. Josh Groban’s voice is to die for as well. Plus, it’s a great reminder that success isn’t just about me. Throughout my life and throughout any success I have had, there have been many people around me, lifting me up, so I can be more than I can be. Take a moment to remember those who help you succeed.

8.       Hall of Fame, The Script feat. will.i.am

This is one of my favourite songs at the moment. I just adore the piano introduction. Not only is it the promo for the Australian athletes competing in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games (which is kind of inspiring), but the words are also inspiring. Basically, if you work hard and dedicate yourself, you can be and achieve anything you want to. ‘You can be the greatest, you can be the best…..be a champion’. You can be anything from a student to a teacher, a preacher or an astronaut. Whatever you choose.

9.       More, by Usher

I played this song hundreds of times when it came out. It was my official ‘hill climbing song’, when I was participated for the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker. We trained for six months before the actual event — over 200 hours of walking up and down bushland tracks. Whenever there was a hill to climb, I would plug this song in and off I would go — “like a rocket”, some of my team-mates said. This song reminds me that I have achieved great things that took a lot of time, dedication and effort to achieve, and I can do so again, in the future, no matter how hard they may seem.

 10.   Kickstart Your Heart, by Motley Crue

This is just a song that helps me through hard workouts or when I know I need to push myself. It’s really good turned up loud. And once again, the film-clip is full of bad 80s hair and leather pants, being released in 1989 and all. Quite funny to watch. They really were a motley crew.

  • 11.   Don’t Give Up, by Chicane feat. Bryan Adams

This song has a regular beat which I find quite good in some of my cardio workouts. I also used to play it a lot during solo hill training in preparation for Oxfam. And Bryan Adams is constantly reminding me ‘Don’t give up’. The only down side is the video. I really don’t get it.

  • 12.   Roar, by Katy Perry

I had to have something by Katy Perry. I do quite like her and it was a toss-up between this song and Firework. This song won out though, mainly because my 4-year old niece loves to sing this song. She puts on the video and grabs her microphone and sings loudly, no matter how many others are watching her, or whether they are smiling or laughing (she is quite funny when she sings it). She sings it because she loves to. Reminds me to keep doing the things I love, no matter how many people might be watching (and laughing). Besides, she is convinced that the line ‘I am a champion’ is actually, ‘I am a chambell’. And that amuses me.

  • 13.   Man in Motion, by John Parr

All of you who experienced the 80s will be familiar with this song. It’s from one of my favourite movies of the time, St Elmos Fire — a coming-of-age film starring the 80s ‘brat pack’ (Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and a very young Andie MacDowall). It’s a bit of an 80s anthem, typical of songs from movies of that era. But I love it regardless. And the film-clip features scenes from the movie — double bonus.

  • 14.   I Believe I Can Fly, by R Kelly

This is not really something you would listen to while you work out (not if you are looking for a fast beat anyway). However, it’s something that I love to listen to when I have my doubts. The words ‘If I can see it, then I can do it. If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it’, really do inspire me to have belief in myself, my abilities and my goals. Because without belief, it’s pretty hard to reach your goals. And the chorus at the end of the clip is pretty cool.

15.  Best Day of My Life, American Authors

This is a current favourite in our house. It’s happy tune that is easy to sing along to. The kids love singing it when it comes on the radio. I find it helps me to make the most of everyday. That today should be ‘the best day of my life’, regardless of what is happening. It’s also sums up how I want to be feeling at the end of the challenge, because I have achieved all my goals.

So, if over the next few months you see me with my ipod plugged in and I am either singing or jigging about, I’m probably listening to some of the songs I’ve just listed.

Were you inspired by any of these?

Perhaps you were rolling around laughing?

Either way, my job here is done.

If I have missed an obvious song, or you have some songs that inspire you, please share them in the comments below. I would truly love it if you could help expand my Inspirational play list!

Until next time.

Nerissa

 

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa 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

 

What happened to Ian Thorpe is none of our business

if you can't be kind be quietAs I sit here and write this, I am feeling angry. Very angry.

One of our Olympic heroes is suffering from an illness, and yet the media (and the general public), are busy surmising ‘what went wrong’ and ‘how did he get into such a mess’?

Quite frankly, nothing went wrong. He is sick.

When people get cancer, no one asks them, ‘what went wrong?’

When people are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, no one asks them, ‘what did you do to get yourself into this situation?’

Certainly, their medical issues are not splashed all over the television, newspapers and internet.

There are two things wrong in this situation. Actually, there are more than two things, but I will only mention the two that I find most offensive.

Firstly, the stigma associated with mental health issues has to stop. NOW!

I am no expert in mental health issues, but having suffered from several depressive episodes, I feel I am (slightly) qualified to speak.

Mental illness is a very complex set of conditions. According to the Black Dog Institute, the most common are anxiety, depression and substance use disorder, with almost half (45%) of Australians experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime.

Yet these conditions still have such stigma attached to them. The Mental Health Foundation of Australia lists the following as common stigmas attached to mental illness:

  • Mental illness is rare and doesn’t affect average people
  • People with mental illness are dangerous
  • If you have a mental illness you can ‘will’ it away
  • Needing treatment means you are weak or have failed in some way
  • People with mental illness are receiving treatment
  • Mental illness is more like a weakness than a real illness
  • People with mental illness can never be normal.

All of the above are myths. Mental illness affects more people than you know. Statistically, almost half the people you know will suffer from this condition in their lifetime. Yet sadly, only 20 per cent of people with mental illnesses seek treatment

Why is this? More than 20 per cent of people seek treatment for diabetes. More than 20 per cent seek help for heart disease — and more often than not, these are conditions that are caused by living an unhealthy lifestyle. Where is the stigma attached to that?

Why, do we not call people who have directly contributed to their own illnesses (such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.), lazy, fat and irresponsible? Why don’t we ask them ‘what went wrong with your life?’. ‘Why are you so weak, you have let this happen to you?’ Why don’t we talk about them behind closed doors?

Why don’t we ridicule them and pity them, and make them feel like losers who can’t keep their life together?

It is a disgrace that in this day and age, when we so freely accept many things, we still cannot accept that depression, anxiety or the host of other mental illnesses are just that — illnesses.

Is it any wonder that people are loathe to seek help.

In the case of Ian Thorpe, I am sure that many people, both in Australia and around the world genuinely wish the best for him. I am sure that most of us hope he makes a full recovery and is able to find happiness and fulfilment in whatever he chooses to do in life.

Yet there is a side of many of us that wants to know ‘the inside scoop’. What really went wrong?

Are all the rumours true?

This is the second major thing that is wrong with all of this. It really is none of our business. Full stop. Do you hear me? NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

Sure Thorpe was, and continues to be to some extent, in the public eye. He was one of Australia’s most successful swimmers having won five Olympic gold medals, the greatest total of any Australian. He has broken numerous world records and has won gold medals in many swim meets. Along the way, he won the hearts of millions.

In 2012, he published his autobiography This is Me, in which he admitted to suffering from depression and alcohol abuse for many years prior to his retirement from swimming. He stated that after a secret meeting with a doctor to discuss his depressive and suicidal thoughts, he ‘felt as if I now had a secret and no one to share it with’.

Yet ironically, since sharing his secret, he no longer has the privacy he needs to recover.

Tabloid reports last week surfaced that he was battling depression and alcohol abuse. Reports that Thorpe and his manager denied. His alleged admittance to a rehabilitation clinic publicised for all to see.

As a former sufferer of depression, I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling either, nor how I was trying to deal with it. Having it broadcast to the world would have been mortifying in the extreme. Not to mention how unhelpful it would have been.

Thorpe’s manager, James Erskine admitted that such media reports were not helpful. “There is no doubt about it, the false reports did upset him. I’m not saying it sent him in a downward spiral but it did upset him. He didn’t go to rehab. That’s the truth. Everyone has to give him some space,” he says.

And Erskine is right. He needs space. His family need space. His friends need space, and the people treating him need space.

This is not an opportunity for journalists to delve into his ‘psyche’. The only ones allowed to delve into his psyche would be his medical team who are trying to treat him. Last time I checked, they will do that in a private manner. So anything you may read in the papers is probably not true.

What’s seems to be wrong with reporting in this country (and in many others), is that the ‘public’s right to know’ is treated too liberally.

I’m sorry, but the general public really don’t have a right to know about the private medical issues of a fellow Australian, whether he is well-known or not. Not unless, the person in question has made a public statement. To date, Thorpe has not made a statement about recent events.

If the names of convicted paedophiles and sexual predators can be protected (and don’t get me started on this one!), then why not the private lives of our fellow human beings?

It seems to me, that when there are stories to be written, money to be made and gossip to sell, common decency and respect go out the window.

A well-known journalist who names criminals convicted on sex crimes against children is held in contempt of court and goes to jail. I would have thought that this kind of information was more in line with the ‘public’s right to know’, than Thorpe’s battle with depression.

So if you really care about Ian Thorpe (and thousands of other Australians who suffer from mental illness), and genuinely wish the best for him, I ask you to do the following:

  • Wish him well
  • Pray for him and his family (if you are the praying type)
  • Don’t pity him — pity is not something depressed people like to have thrown their way
  • Stop reading the stories about him and his condition
  • Stop gossiping about him with the people you meet
  • Avoid buying the magazines that will claim to have the ‘inside scoop’
  • Make a donation to the organisations that are fighting the war against depression.

But most importantly, if you are feeling down, or anxious and suspect that you may be feeling depressed, please seek help.

Beyond Blue
http://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Phone: 1300 22 4636

Lifeline
https://www.lifeline.org.au/
13 11 14

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa 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

How a library broke my heart

No one warned me that a milestone could break my heart. 

By definition, milestones seem to indicate something positive — “an important event”, or “turning point” in one’s life.

Many of us seem to measure our lives in milestones.

First job, first car, first love.

Then you get married and have children. And once you have children there seem to be an endless road of milestones.

The first smile and laugh. The first word. Their first step.

These are some of the things you look for and celebrate. Closely followed by ‘sleeping through the night’, ‘getting rid of nappies’, ‘doing up their own seat belt’ and ‘tying their own shoelaces’.

These milestones involved a ‘happy dance’ for us.

But there have been others that have crept up on me, caught me unawares and tugged at my heart.

Like the first day of school. All of a sudden, they look too little to be out of your care all day long.

Like discussing the dreaded ‘Santa’ question (which we dealt with last month).

And the end of primary school — which is looming before me at the end of this year.

But there has been one milestone that I didn’t expect would break my heart.

The cleaning out of my son’s room.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good, clean bedroom. And we have cleaned out my son’s room many, many times. But my son is now 11, and entering the pre-teen years. Which meant that many things had to go into storage, simply because he had outgrown them, and we needed the space for other things.

And that meant clearing out a lot of his books.

My son has always been surrounded by books. I read to him the first day he came home from hospital as a baby. I read to him in the morning and in the afternoon. It became a routine which he loved. Snuggled up on the couch, touching pages, repeating words — it was a very special time together.

In the early days of motherhood, when most things would bamboozle me, and I was feeling like a terrible failure, I would take solace in the bookshop. My son would sit or lie in his pram and soak up the atmosphere. We both became calmer versions of ourselves in a place where there were other worlds to discover, new people to meet, new adventures to be had.

By the time we’d bought a book (or a few books), and had a coffee, the world would be a happy place again.

I always wanted to build my own library, rather than borrow from an existing one. So it’s safe to say that we have accumulated many, many books over the years.

As my son grew older, I would ask him to choose several stories. He would excitedly run into his room, search through his books and pull out five or six stories. Some of them would feature every day. But sometimes we would be treated to something different, like the story about “The Little Yellow Digger”, or “The Ocean Star Express”.

Classics like “Guess How Much I Love You”, “Possum Magic” and a variety of “Hairy Maclary” were read over and over. As were books on dinosaurs, dogs and birds.

But this week, they were all moved out and packed away. Sniff sniff.

To be fair, an 11-year old boy really doesn’t have much use for many picture books, particularly now his shelf is bursting with the books most pre-teen boys are reading. And he very rarely picked them up any more.

However I found the whole exercise quite sad.

Sad for the little boy who is gone.

Sad that I will never again, watch my son run down the hallway and emerge triumphantly with a pile of books almost as big as himself.

Sad for the days where a new book and a cappuccino (or bottle in my son’s case) would make the world a better place.

Sad for the warm snuggles and soft pyjamas of our evening reading sessions.

And sad for all the dogs, dinosaurs, possums, birds and other characters that have been shut away for a little while.

As I packed them away, I took the time to remember them and say goodbye — for now. I remember when most of them came to live with us. Some were given as gifts, some bought for the sake of having a new book. All of them had their own special place in my heart.

With each book that went into the box, my heart grew heavier. Finally, it was done.

My husband wanted to move the box into the shed. But I have stored it under my desk, with the excuse that our daughter may want to read some of them.

And while that may be the case, I know deep down, that it was more likely myself who needed to read them and keep them close.

As I survey my son’s bookshelf now, it is a bookshelf of a typical 11-year old boy. Books by Andy Griffiths and Roald Dahl; “The Captain Underpants” series, “Tom Gates”; and “The Famous Five” books now feature in prominent position.

But as I look more closely, I see that some of the childhood favourites are still there, including all the Dr Seuss books, “Mr McGee” stories, and two of my favourites from when I was a little girl — “Harry the Dirty Dog” and “Corduroy”.

Perhaps there is a part of my little boy still living in our house after all.

Why you shouldn’t make New Year resolutions

As the year is beginning to wind down, and most of us are in the process of putting the final (or even the beginning 😉 ) touches on Christmas, some of you may be thinking about the next big event — New Year’s Eve.New Year resolutions

And what goes with New Year’s Eve? New Year resolutions!

I’m sure all of us at one time or another have made New Year resolutions.

I’m going to lose weight.

I’m going to quit smoking

I’m going to get fit

I’m going to get a better job

I’m going to save more money.

Blah, blah, blah.

Well, I don’t believe in New Year resolutions.

Why?

Because they never amount to anything.

Some research I came across recently stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Just 8%. So why bother making them at all then, if they are just going to remain wishes and dreams until the next New Year rolls around and you do it all again?

People who make New Year resolutions are really just making a wish. Saying they want to achieve something, yet leave it to fate. As if by putting this dream into the ether will make it manifest before their eyes.

If you want to make next year better than this one, then you need to set GOALS!

Over this year, I have achieved some truly great things. Most of these were a result of getting serious about setting goals, rather than making a wish.

During the past few weeks, I have been thinking about what I want to achieve next year, and am now in the ‘goal-setting’ phase.

For those of you who think goal-setting is boring, you haven’t done it properly. When you set goals, you should become excited about what you are going to achieve. You should feel motivated. And you should come out of it with a plan on how to make it all happen. Which excites you even further. And having a plan helps you believe you can do it.

Over this past week, I have set my health and fitness goals for the year. I will be sitting down with my trainer and some like-minded people later on this week to clarify them further and to make a plan so I can achieve them. That is very cool.

During this week and next, I will be setting aside a good few hours to clarify and set my business goals for 2014. I already have a fair idea of what I want to achieve but I need to put it on paper and make a plan so these goals become a reality.

I have also been thinking of some more personal goals I want to achieve. These are not tied to my health and fitness, nor to my business. But rather, things that I would like to achieve just for me.

One of these is quite huge. It’s something I have wanted to do for a very long time, but the timing has never been quite right. Well, I am beginning to think the timing might be better next year, so it’s on my list. I have moments of believing I can do it, and then other moments when I question it.

Nevertheless, I am setting it anyway.

Because once something is on your goal list, things begin to happen.

So now that 2013 is drawing to a close, why don’t you think about some real GOALS for next year instead of wasting time with resolutions.

set a goal so big....

How not to be better than everyone else

Let’s face it, our culture is very competitive. While there is nothing wrong with competing on the sporting field (see my post on  The rules about winning), competition can get out of hand. You may think you are not a competitive person, but you probably compete without even knowing it.excellence

We all compete when applying for a job. We compete for a car-park at the shopping centre (especially leading up to Christmas!) Many of us try to ‘out-do’ each other when it comes to kids’ birthday parties, or which car we drive. Our kids are already competing with each other with regard to which electronic device they have, or how many ‘friends’ they have on Facebook. I’m certainly guilty of competing when it comes to Scrabble!

Competition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is defined as ‘the act or process of trying to get or win something (such as a prize or a higher level of success), that someone else is also trying to get or win’.

And while competition is fine at one level, it can very quickly get out of hand.

You see, while we are busy trying to be better than everyone else and ‘win the prize’, we lose the gist of what competition is really about — Excellence.

Our primary school has five over-riding values — Respect, Excellence, Confidence, Responsibility and Resilience. Five great values, if you ask me.

At the start of the year, all students discuss what each value means to them. They write them up and they become the values of the classroom. My son’s year level came up with the following statements to define Excellence:

Doing our best — aiming high!
Having a go and learning from your mistakes
Thinking – “I can do it”

My daughter’s grade 2 class came up with this:

Practicing and working hard at everything we do, to be the best we can be.

Awesome!

Nowhere does it say ‘being better than everyone else’.

The problem that arises when you try to be better than everyone else is that you forget about improving yourself. You’re too busy focussing on what everybody else is doing, and trying to do ‘better’ than they are, rather than spending time developing yourself. The focus on ‘doing your best and aiming high’ has been replaced with ‘getting the better of’ someone else.

When we compete, we often end up comparing someone else’s ‘outer’ (or our perception of them), to our ‘inner’. Which is sort of ridiculous. It’s like saying that bananas are better than swimming pools. But many people, especially kids, don’t get that. In their eyes, you are either a ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’.

Which leads to the emotional difference between competing, and striving for excellence.

Competing to win can set someone up for a fall. In most competitions there is only one winner. So where does that leave everyone else? If you only focus upon the outcome of winning, then your success is tied up in victory. If you are not victorious, you are not a success, in other words, you are a ‘loser’. You are not good enough. You need to ‘perform better, do better’. Blah blah blah.

Competing sets you up for jealousy. If you are so focused on the end result, it is easy to envy your competitor for their victory over you. And this green-eyed monster can make it very difficult to see where you can make improvements. Because where there is jealousy, there is also often blame — reasons why you didn’t win. “I was too tired, the referee made a bad call, someone pushed me over, it wasn’t fair”, etc. etc.

But striving for excellence is a whole new ball game. Striving for excellence leads to positive self-esteem, and finding value in yourself for your efforts, rather than in the end result. Striving for excellence enables you to set goals and feel good about achieving them, regardless of what everyone else is doing. Aiming for excellence empowers you to keep trying harder, to be a better version of yourself than you were before. Which leads to confidence. And confidence means you can keep striving for excellence in all you do, for you know there is never failure.

Keeping the focus on excellence also means that there is little room for jealousy. If you did the very best you could have in whatever circumstances, then how can you be jealous of someone else who did the same? I would even go so far to say that being your best self and focusing on being your own ‘excellent self’ opens you up to cheer on someone else for their efforts and achievements, something I wrote about earlier this year (Are you a dream-stealer or a dream-weaver?).

When we strive for excellence, we all win; because excellence can mean different things to different people. It can mean running 5km without walking. It can mean not eating chocolate for a week. It might mean practicing your handwriting. Perhaps it is joining a sporting team for the first time. Maybe even speaking in public without getting nervous or putting in your best effort in an exam.

If you truly want to rise to new levels, stop trying to ‘beat’ everyone else there. Focus on being your most excellent self, and you will be surprised at how quickly and effortlessly you will get there.

Sorry. I’ve been too busy laughing.

This week the kids went back to school. After two weeks of not getting much writing done, I was looking forward to getting into routine. My husband was also travelling with his job that week, which meant the evenings would be even quieter than usual. (Yeah!)

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh - big, deep belly laughs.

My sister is one of the people in this world who can always make me laugh – big, deep belly laughs.

Monday I greeted the day with enthusiasm (unlike my kids who would have loved to have another week off!). We quickly slotted back into the morning routine and got to school without any problems. I kissed them goodbye and waved them off, feeling quite cheery. I was really looking forward to my morning coffee in a quiet house.

But first, I had to go and do some grocery shopping seeing as the kids had eaten me out of house and home. By the time I shopped, brought it home and unpacked it, a few hours had disappeared. It seemed like I had only just got into the ‘zone’ for writing when it was time to down tools to pick up the kids and head off to basketball.

Tuesday I had set aside this day to go and help my sister with her business venture. My mum came as well, so I dropped off the kids, picked up my mum and drove to the other side of Melbourne (where my sister lives). Our day wasn’t as productive as we had hoped, but we did get some work done. Mostly however, it was coffee, cake and lots and lots of belly laughs.

Wednesday Not a lot of time for work today either and I felt mildly stressed that I hadn’t written this week’s blog. Up early for my workout, get the kids off to school, a quick stop at the shops, two loads of washing and a trip to the hairdresser. That was all before lunch. My parents were coming over for dinner that night for my mum’s birthday, so I whipped up a cake and got it in and out of the oven before school pickup. Then it was basketball training, get the washing in and organise dinner. Definitely no work being done today, but once again, there were smiles and laughter in my day. My two kids celebrated their Nana Jude’s birthday with their home-made cards, lots of hugs and kisses, games of cards and my daughter performed a song she had written especially for my mum.

Thursday My beautiful mum’s birthday today. My sister and I had organised to take her out for lunch with other members of our family. So up early, a quick workout, drop off the kids to school (yes, I was still hot and sweaty and looked terrible), and back home to shower and get ready. Lunch was lovely and yes, lots of laughs featured on the menu. Time flew by and all of a sudden, it was time to pack up and do school pick-up, and get my son to tennis training.

Friday What! Friday already? Where did the week go? Gym session at 5.30am, usual morning routine followed by a quick coffee with a friend and then a few more groceries. Today has been a better day work-wise, as I finally finished and submitted an article I hope to get published. Once again however, the writing time went way too quickly and before I knew it, it was off to pick up the kids and head off to my daughter’s basketball game.

And just like that, the week is gone.

As I look back over this week, it’s clear that I didn’t get done what I expected to get done. I have lots of leads and business-building activities yet to complete, articles to write, research to be done, not to mention a house that needs cleaning and a pile of ironing that is developing a life of its own!

But while my week wasn’t what I had hoped, it did yield things more valuable than what I had initially planned — time with family, time with friends and most of all the barrel-loads of laughter I shared with my mum and my sister.

And when you have laughed as much as I have this week, you know it’s been a good week.

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