The Blogging 101 Seminar

On Monday this week, I held a blogging 101 seminar right here in Hobart. Many minds blown! Hobart is often the forgotten state capital when it comes to things like this, and that’s a crying shame.

We covered basic things, things that for some reason the internet likes to just assume you know. As thought you should have been born knowing the difference between widgets and plugins, what hosting is, how to use mail chimp, and what WordPress is for. There was a little bit of nervousness on the part of my attendees, they didn’t necessarily want to ask the questions they knew they needed to, for fear of the question being silly.

It’s terrible and ridiculous that the online environment has made people feel that way. There are no silly questions. Every single one was cogent and realistic, and they were things these women needed to know about if they were going to navigate the world of business blogging.

The experience has only reinvigorated my determination to demystify all this online stuff. To lay it out so that more people can join the conversation and feel comfortable and confident in doing so!

Seminar outcomes for 10%

  1. More classes of this kind. Small numbers, cups of tea and maybe a cake or two, and any and all questions that you couldn’t ask at a big venue.
  2. Explore the possibility of large events as well, progressing into some more advanced or nuanced subjects.
  3. Compile an e-book covering the basics – the things most asked about in the 101 classes for people who would like to get into blogging but find the whole business confusing.

3 ways Organisation is like Exercise

Today I’m going to talk about 3 ways that Organization is like Exercise. Everyone wants to be organized… get it done, make progress, and feel like a grown up. Maybe that last one is just me.

The internet is full of how-to’s when it comes to getting organized, which suggests to me that a lot of us are living in a disorganized state. Certainly I am, and it causes me quite a bit of stress. So I get the lists and the rosters and I try to make it work… but it’s too much and invariably I swing back to the barely controlled chaos that is my house and life where I scrape by on the skin of my teeth and everything seems designed to give me heart failure.

Why do the attempts fail? Why is it SO hard to get organized and stay that way? I have a theory.

Organization is like Exercise

Hear me out.

Going from disorganized to organized is a similar transformation to going from unfit, to fit. It involves changing a huge number of behaviors, sometimes reversing many of them, and then a commitment to stick to these changes…

1) Big changes beg for failure

People who throw out all their chocolate and insist they’re going to do an hour of heavy exercise a day from now on… almost always fall off the wagon. They end up hurting themselves, becoming disheartened and giving up, or giving in to that curly wurly on the counter at Coles which leads to a massive downward spiral of pasta and sugar.

Most people will tell you that the best way to start exercising, to change your life, is to make small changes first that are easy to stick to. We’re looking here for a ratio of relatively small amount of effort, but that will see real changes (so you get to feel good about it.) For fitness that’s often swapping to water for most of your drinks, and maybe addressing your portion percentages so you’re dinner is the same size, but more of it is vegetables.

Then, once that’s a habit and doesn’t take conscious work, you slide in another one. I have two 3ltr milk jugs full of water, and every time I go to the bathroom, I do squats with them. It’s weird I know but my count has gone from 5 (aka pathetic flabby bottom) to 15. I was at 2o for a while but got sick and lost some.

So, make small, easy to stick to changes which will give you a noticeable result first.

2) Wagons exist to be fallen from.

Say it with me people, if it’s a wagon you had to scramble onto, like as not, your tush is coming off at least once on the bumpy road to the lifestyle you want. It’s OK, changing your body and brain is freakin’ hard work! Exercise and diet professionals all say to be kind to yourself. Not to dwell on mistakes or allow them to make you give up.

If you muck up and the living room looks like a bomb site, that’s OK. It happens. You skipped all of Monday’s list and now you’re behind… keep in mind you’re no where near as behind as you were to start with! My dad likes to say that it’s almost impossible to put on more weight than the thing you ate weighs… so even if you did scarf that entire block of chocolate, it’s a 250gram mistake. Don’t blow everything you’ve worked for over 250grams.

3) The mental health benefits are real!

As someone who suffers from PND, I can tell you think one is completely true! A Therapist once told me that even if you can’t do ANYTHING else that day, clean one room and sit in it for a while. Shove everything in a cupboard if you have to, but sit for a while in a clean, organized room, it will make you feel better. It really does.

How much of that is our adult brains trained to think we need to have a pristine house (this probably applies a bit to women in particular), and fear we’ll be judged harshly if the place isn’t spotless, I have no idea but that probably is part of it. Another is the reflection of space on yourself… if you’re sitting in a space which is messy or ‘busy’ it’s likely your mind too with be busy. Busy minds aren’t great for depression, calm is much better and a clean space is calm.

Do you fall off the organization wagon sometimes? How do you pull it all back together?

Organization and procrastination – 3 ways to not be THAT writer

Ah, organization and procrastination… my old friends! Constant companions. Time sucking, success stealing, headache inducing clingers on.

For some people, organization is something they do, and then they have a plan. They follow the plan, and the goal is accomplished. Not me though, that would actually be useful. What I tend to do is organize and plan… then reassess. Realize there’s a problem. Reorganize. Lay out a plan according to this new organization. Bugger, something doesn’t fit, back to the drawing board! All this means that really, if I’d skipped the planning phase and just dived in head first, sure I might have made some mistakes, but I’d have fixed those, and the second round of mistakes, and finished the task by now. Instead I’m sitting here looking as a plan that reads like the playbook for an American football team, no one understands it, not even me, which means… DAMNIT I now have to start organizing again!

My organization resolution to myself… is to stop trying to be so organized. It’s not working for me. Instead I am implementing a seriously personal, seriously tailored philosophy… you read for it?

I’m gonna do whatever works!

Revolutionary huh? I have too many notebooks and journals, I write my stories out of order and all over the place, I have 50million irons in the fire all at one time, and you know what, the internet can bite me because I work better that way!

So, my 3 ways to not be that writer (the one who never actually writes anything)

1) My notebooks stay. All of them. If I have to lug a ton of notebooks around with me then so freakin’ be it. I like my notebooks, I like my fountain pen, I LIKE that I look like a mad woman sorting through all these books in a cafe trying to find the one that relates to the specific story about which I just had a brilliant idea. Stare all you like, I’m going to be published someday! So there.

2) I am going to continue to write my stories out of order, as the scenes come to me, then come back and polish it smooth later. I like doing it that way, it works for me. I build playlists of songs for each project, and each song ends up representing a character, a plot thread or a scene and I write them out almost like a music video. Yes, I’m nuts, but that’s OK.

3) On top of all of that, there is one thing I need. One thing we all need, and it’s the one thing the internet has right most of the time… I need to be fearless. Leap before I look, run, trip, fall, throw it all at the wall and see what sticks. There is no such thing as a failed experiment, every result, even a negative one, has value. I will be Alfred, Lord Tennyson “To strive, to seek to find, and never to yield.”

 

Award nominee – Ausmumpreneur business awards

I was floored to discover that 10% Inspired was a nominee in the Ausmumpreneur business awards this year! I don’t know who nominated me, but I have to say a huge thank you, and that I am really touched.

Having been offering my services for less than a full 12 months, this completely blew me away!

Nominee badge Ausmumpreneur Awards

Starting next month, voting will open for the people’s choice award, were I am running in the category of ‘making a difference’. Being so new and so early in my journey I don’t expect to win, but I hope that I can shine a little light on the work being done on community building in Tassie, and hopefully give some publicity to The Black Stamp, and the PND support group it represents.

To One in Paradise

My friends at CMW Music put on a performance of ‘To One in Paradise’… I may have mentioned it before… you know, seeing as how my name is in the credits for the music video. Oh look, there it is again.

The live performance went for quite a bit longer, and didn’t hold back on the theatricality either!

CMW Music to one in paradiseI came in at the last minute during rehearsals (with the coffee shakes and the wrong lens in my camera) to shoot some good material. All things considered I’m not unhappy with them.

The show was in the Peacock Theater in Salamanca, which can be a bit of a pest to find, down little lane ways and through the arcade, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s a small space, with uneven walls of bare rock and a very enclosed, secretive atmosphere which worked really well for the production!

Michelle Wood of CMW Music in 'To one in Paradise'

Mid-year Stocktake 2014

Mid-year Stock Take 2014 – I haven’t done one of these before, but I read about it on MakeupMandy.com and followed her link back to Beautyholicsanonymous.com to see what it was all about.

Obviously, I’m not in the beauty game (you’ve SEEN me, right?) but the idea is still nice and I thought we’d give it a go. I didn’t use all the categories as some of them didn’t really apply, and others would have led to me repeating myself (which I do enough of anyway.)

Chicken Soup

My ‘we’re all sick chicken soup’

Cooking: Chicken Soup! Everyone has been sick for almost 3 weeks solid around here and this is the only thing keeping us from disappearing into our own bellybuttons. I’m not a good cook by any stretch, but I quite like my chicken soup, I have to say.

 

 

Energy DrinkDrinking: Wicked Energy Drink. I know, I KNOW, it’s terrible terrible terrible, but I have tow children, I’m sick, and I don’t sleep. It’s this or zombie mumma all day.

 

Reading: Blogs! I’m working on expanding my blog reading and setting up some systems to have them delivered to my kindle and/or tablet in the mornings so they’re easy to find! There is an incredibly vibrant community out there and I want to be more a part of it this year!

Wanting: Motivation, time, sleep… not necessarily in that order. I know that sounds a little down, but I’m actually fairly optimistic about things right now. I think everything is going in a positive direction, I’m just waiting to catch up.

Wishing: I were a tidier person, a more organized person. I operate on a boom-bust cycle. I pull on my big girl pants and organize the heck out of my life, my house and my brain and then, slowly but surely, lose momentum until we once again find ourselves in a position where there is a trampoline in the living room, my daughter has made snowflakes so there are bits of paper everywhere and I haven’t done this morning’s dishes yet.

Enjoying: Having my name on a few things that I’ve done lately, like a Music Video, and the promo photography for a live performance here in Hobart. Seeing it there makes me feel a bit more accomplished!

Loving: My family and to be honest, my life. I complain about things sometimes, but the truth is my children are beautiful and kind, my husband is supportive and sweet (also hot, don’t forget hot) and my friends whether near or far are always available for a chat. Everything is actually pretty sweet. We’re not rich, but we’re not struggling, and for right now, that’s pretty good.

Watching: A whole host of old TV shows that I love. It’s the one positive thing about being sick. I give myself permission to just chill right out and go back through my favorite shows; Hemlock Grove, Castle, Warehouse 13, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and Leverage have had complete reviewings so far and I’ve loved every second of it just as much as I did the first time around!

Hoping: That the let-up in my cough means I’ll soon be out the other side of this swine flu and ready to get moving again!

Marvelling: at my daughters, and how much they can love and hate each other in the space of five minutes. They’re so similar in some respects, and in others complete opposites.

Needing: To eat better. I need that quite badly, but nothing has been appetizing lately. This too should come with beating this flu.

Smelling: …ah, unfortunately I’m still smelling the poopy nappy I changed a little while ago… that stuff lingers like a bastard.

Wearing: House pants and old singlets… usually covered with floppy jumpers and daggy cardigans. I’m a classic frumpy house-wife right now, but I’m comfy!

Feeling: cautiously optimistic. Of the things I have applied myself to in the last few months, half of them have come off perfectly, a third is boiling along nicely… and the fourth is my novel which has been kicking my butt for a long time now so I’m kinda used to it. I have the feeling that I might be kicking over into a more productive mode of being. I hope.

Disliking: Vast swathes of global politics.

Coveting: I covet my husband’s immune system, which seems to kill bugs much faster than mine! Also stationary… ALL the stationary!

Hearing: My personalized playlist of songs that inspire or speak to my novel concept. I put it together way back at the beginning of NaNoWriMo two years ago when this concept first came to me. Each song brings to mind a scene in the story, or a character relationship, or a revelation in the plot. I like to direct little music video’s in my head peopled by my characters and set in their world.

Does literature have to have an alignment?

I came across a piece by Zaron Burnett the third while cruising StumbleUpon tonight. It was called ‘Is Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ A Feminist Film… Or Not?‘ Far from wanting to argue the point back and forth, which Mr Burnett does quite convincingly, I can’t help but wonder; does literature have to have an alignment? Must ‘The Little Mermaid’ be defined as feminist, or sexist?

Texts are open to radically differing interpretations – even well studied ones. No where is this more obvious than in tertiary study of Shakespeare. I’ve read essays which insisted Shakespeare was a misogynist, but I’ve also read essays which stated categorically that not only what Shakespeare a feminist, but he was so much a feminist, that ‘he’ was almost certainly a she. Now, both of those positions can’t possibly be accurate (ignoring the gender confusion, that’s a whole other argument) can they? It depends on who you ask.

I don’t believe that life, the universe and everything, falls into categories in this way. Existence is not feminist OR sexist, it’s not racist OR egalitarian, life is not a dichotomy.

Burnett made plenty of points, both for and against a feminist reading, and none of them were ‘wrong’.

As a child or teen, I bet you saw it as a story of longing, a desire for adventure, and a cautionary tale of what one stands to lose when they stubbornly go after what they want. Perhaps, as an older teen or 20-something, you saw The Little Mermaid with different eyes. Suddenly, it’s the story of a young woman who is tricked by an older woman into giving up her voice so she might have a man, a guy who in many ways is clearly unworthy of her, and she trades her father’s world for her tenuous place in the world of her future husband. How can the same story have such vastly different interpretations?

As I read the article, I battled with irritation that my childhood loves were open to such dissection of character. That hours spent in front of the TV, gleefully rewinding so I could sing the songs again could be seen by someone as patriarchal indoctrination, rather than an innocent pass time (which no doubt made my poor father nuts!) But I can’t argue the anti-feminist themes are there, if you want to look. While Ariel rails against the control of her father and ‘goes her own way’ it’s really only to plunge into the control of another man, leaving behind her own world for his. She gave up her voice to chase a guy! Bad, bad Ariel. What kind of an example is that?

In truth, a real one. Like life, the readings here could go on forever. How many fathers, forced to sit through the movie, found themselves thinking about the mistakes of Ariel’s father and promising himself he’d never make them? How many understood the profound, driving need to protect their little girl from everything that was wrong in the world, and the terror of the day, inevitably, when he would have to let her out from under his protection? Did they then watch as she came into her own, married a man who loved her, and became the princess he always knew she was? Is this then a King Leer style tale, about a father who holds on too tightly only to discover that his daughter cannot be his forever, that he cannot protect her forever, no matter how much he wants to? That trying to do so will only make things worse? Maybe the entire point of the story has nothing to do with her? Maybe it’s all about King Triton?

What about little boys who might sit through it? What would they see? Perhaps a prince who allowed himself to be distracted from what he really wants? Tricked and turned around until he almost married the wrong girl? Did the prince place too much importance upon her voice? A part of her physical being. Or even more, perhaps he was too hung up on the heroism of a single moment, the woman with the voice saved him. Would a young man maybe see that love is not the result of a single act, but the building of days and time and memories. Surely it was obvious as Ariel and Eric spent time together that their affection grew, he liked her for who she was, for the fun they had together, but he was caught up in a romantic notion of his savior. He was ready to abandon her for someone he had no knowledge of, because he believed she had performed a single act. That’s kinda nuts.

Are either of those readings of less value, or less reasonable? I don’t think so.

Is Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ a feminist film… or not? Yes. It’s a cautionary tale, and a love story. It’s joyful and sad. It contains viciousness and gentleness, love and hate.

There is a great fear in lots of parents, floating just below the surface, that we might accidentally expose our babies to weird and powerful indoctrinations that yank their delicate minds this way and that. It’s possible… I for example have serious issues with Heathcliff being referred to as a ‘romantic hero’ – he’s a what now??? Like hell! And if a man thinks he’s going to be able to treat my baby that way he better watch the hell out and I don’t care how sad his childhood was. That being said, in-depth readings of literature are encouraged throughout our schooling in the Western Education system, and that’s not a bad thing, but I think sometimes too much emphasis is put on labeling texts or films or TV as one thing. If it is this one thing, then it cannot be anything else.

Instead, if you’re concerned, why not try and walk through the story with your children wearing different hats. Ask your daughter what she thinks is going on with Eric, or with Sebastian. Ask your son what he thinks the sea witches deal might be. Ask them to think about King Triton, why he lost his temper, why he looked to sad at the end.

Life is unlabelable. It is complex and complicated, as are the people you and your children will meet on the way. Explore all of it. Also, sing this, and sing it loud!

 

Now I’m properly 30

Well, there you have it, now I’m properly 30.

Properly 30.

Not ‘nearly 30′ or ’30ish’…

I’m a few days late if I’m honest, I turned 30 at the beginning of the week, but there are three birthdays in my immediate family in the one week this year (once every 7 years that happens) and I’ve been going insane on some personal projects as well.

What does 30 look like?

30 looks remarkably like this face. Right here. This is me at 30.

30 looks remarkably like this face. Right here. This is me at 30.

In reality it looks a lot like 29, which looked remarkably like 25, just with an extra mortgage and another baby. It LOOKS to the casual observer like there might be another baby some time soon – there wont people, I’m just fat.

For some reason, 30 feels like an achievement. A place in time where I should have reached milestones including, but not limited to; a career (which I don’t have) a husband, children, millions, calm, maturity, all those things you assume adults have when you’re a kid. They somehow magically come along at 30. The 30 fairy turns up, waves her wand full of tequila and lime, and suddenly you understand. No more confusion over what the hell the right thing to say is. No more making dumb mistakes about people in your life (good and bad). No more lack of control, no more insanity. At 30 you’re a master of your own destiny!

To borrow a line from Hemlock Grove “Adulthood is just like high school, with mortgages.” It’s all rubbish. There is no 30 fairy. I still have no idea what to say half the time, I still worry about whether or not my friends have moved on and forgotten about me, or even worse if they ever really liked me in the first place. I still own WAY more ‘daggy about the house’ clothes than ‘nice going out’ clothes (by a terrible and frightening margin.)

I walk down the street in my ugg boots with not a lick of makeup on my face, my 20mo baby in the pram, probably trying to eat her own snot as it dribbles down her face because I just can’t get ahead of it, and I’m getting looked at by all the normal people as a total failure. I’m 30. I should have tailor made clothes, my house should be spic and span and when I appear in public, I should look impeccable, as should my progeny. I could be 60, and my money (what little of it there is) says that is NEVER going to happen.

I am 30

I am 30, or I will be on Monday. Since I managed to give birth to my first daughter only three days after my birthday, my celebrations have pretty much ceased to exist – this year that might not be such a bad thing.

What is it about 30?

I didn’t have any kind of freak-out when I turned 20. I don’t recall my 10th birthday specifically, but other than ‘what’ya get me?’ I doubt there was much turmoil. Why does 30 bother me so much? There is just something about it that leaves me playing the ‘comparison game.’ There’s a reason 99.9% of self-esteem books order you, in no uncertain terms, not to compare yourself to other people… because it’s noxious! Yeeeeet most of us are doing it, and we’re doing it in such a way as to make SURE we’re coming off the poor cousin.

The two oldest friends I have, who are the same age as I am, leave me for dead. At least in my mind. One is married with a beautiful baby boy. She’s a nurse and hubby is in the armed forces. She’s STUNNINGLY beautiful. She knows how all the weird torture things in the girly isle work. She drives a car that doesn’t look like it’s about to fall apart, and her house looks like it’s on purpose. She’s killing me.

My other oldest friend works in the field of pharmacy (she’s not a pharmacist, but seriously, she may as well be, she’s been at this since we were in high school.) She has a car that’s probably worth only slightly less than my first house. She goes away to Europe almost yearly and has the most amazing adventures. She’s seen so much stuff, and she has so much freedom. She’s killing me too.

Compared to these two women, women I’ve known since we were girls, I’m a serious disappointment. My house is a mess. Like ALL the time. I clean my living room with the ‘two bag’ rule. One for garbage, one for the play room. If it doesn’t fit in one of those two bags… yeah it’s probably staying right where it is so I can trip over it later. I haven’t finished my degree. 5 Years I’ve been working on this thing, but when you keep taking breaks to have kids it really jams things up, you know? I don’t have a job. Well, not a ‘real’ one. I write for a living… no one takes that seriously. I know the moment the words “I’m a writer” pass my lips, the other person is thinking ‘unwashed, unwanted, probably undernourished and certainly unpublished’, rather than ‘oh, like J.K.’ My house does not look like it’s on purpose, and our mechanic just broke the news to us that the car probably only has 12 months left in her. My dog is an idiot and my ferret has cancer. It’s not so much that they’re winning the race, it’s more like they’re running and I’m standing on the side lines with my finger up my nose.

I’ve been on such a kick lately of making sure everyone knows how well they’re doing – reminding them of the great things they’ve done. I’m starting to wonder, psychologically, if I’m really just trying to distract myself from the incredible LACK of achievement that is me.

Intellectually I know this is ridiculous. I have two beautiful and healthy daughters who eat their vegies. I have a ridiculously good looking husband (shut up, it’s what I think that counts) who doesn’t seem to mind that I had two kids and inflated like a rubber dingy. We’re in the process of paying off two houses, which is pretty cool, right? I mean they’re dumps, but there’s two of them! I AM published, I got paid and continue to be paid for my writing, that’s already more than some can say, I’m sure. Yes the car is falling apart, but we can replace it when it goes and we’re not particularly worried about it, which means we’re OK financially. I don’t know what it would take to make me feel like I’m ‘getting somewhere.’

Do any of you have that feeling? The powerful buzz of accomplishment? If so, where did it come from, and do you have any to spare?

I am 30.

Jesus, how did that happen?!?!?!

Disparate accomplishments

This month has been a little mad, with Disparate accomplishments all over the joint that don’t really relate to each other, excepting of course that I’m in them up to my eyebrows (which need waxing, hella bad right now.)

A couple of weeks ago I did hair and dogs-body work for a music video! Awesome right? My office space, which I gratefully mooch from a friend, is in a music school (CMW Music to be exact,) and one day this friend innocently asks me “CJ… can you do hair and stuff?” I’ve got daughters, so my answer is a tentative yes. The next Tuesday we’re out at some ruins with a film crew (an actual film crew!) and I’m frantically trying to keep the leading lady’s hair from frizzing in the wind with a whole can of hair spray! It was AMAZING!

CMW Music Video

Tuesday of this week, I had a meeting with a rather large charity, I’d been asked by my business group organizer to help write some programs for young, at risk women with babies. It’s a heartbreaking story to hear over breakfast, but at the same time there was this elation in us that something was being done. That we could make a difference to these people…

That meeting saw me writing media kit outlines for them in an attempt to drum up some more publicity! Watch this space, I may be going a bit nuts on the subject later on once things really get moving.

The first installment of Fractal has been handed out to some lovely ladies to read over for me before the final edit. Of course the second I did that, the installment I was working on jammed up tight on me and I’m struggling to get it moving again. I’m considering a choose your own adventure situation so I don’t have to make any more decisions. I’m sure that’s how those were invented.