Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A little NappyDaze Announcement

Welcome to NappyDaze's "virgin" vlog - hope you will click to listen to my news...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 things I learned during "Life Swap"

Life Swap has wrapped up, and while it wasn’t a true switch of our normal lives (the husband wasn’t asked spend his “child free days” trying to juggle work, blog writing or cleaning every inch of the house and my role was not nearly as demanding and deadline driven as he has to endure every single week), I still think we have come through to the other end with a good idea of how the other person lives week in and week out.

To that effect, here’s a few things I’ve learned while swapping lives with my (house) husband this past week gone

1. Yes, you should expect that when 125mls of rain blankets your home town in two hours, there will be flooding. And no, despite your best guilt and principle ridden intentions, coupled with a hapless 90 minute drive in the teeming rain, you will not find a way into an unflooded train station.

2. Yes your only choice is to go home and give up. No, your husband will not look out the back window of his car when reversing out of the driveway, as he is not expecting you home for another 12 hours.

3. Yes, he will hit your car and no, you will not be able to contain the tears.

4. Yes your clothes will be washed and ironed and dinners cooked but no, your floors will not be swept (“but it wasn’t on the list” he doth protest)

5. Yes you will have your second ever asthma attack and of course it will occur between the hours of midnight and 2am on a Wednesday. No you wont have a puffer with you and no, you wont be able to get inside the main house (after staying a night in your sister’s cottage) and yes you will have to text her at 2am to let you in.

6. Yes, you will be a bit heartbroken that you have to miss out on your son's special daycare concert, after putting in all the child hard yards all year long. But no, you wont miss much as he comes down with a severe dose of stage fright and seems more interested in daydreaming than dancing and singing.

7. Yes you will have delivered and made more teas and coffees than you have in the last three years combined and no, you’re not any better at it.

8. Yes the worst thing about Public Transport is still the public (passed out stinky drunk man on the train as I boarded at Tuggerah station at 7.15am I AM TALKING TO YOU). No, the 15 odd hours of having a chance to catch up on your reading doesn’t make up for it entirely.

9. Yes, you will feel a sense of pride when the week wraps, and wonder why you had been so nervous to dabble in this new side of the TV world. But no, saying goodbye to your work friends of so many years still does not get any easier. 

10. Yes, you are grateful that you don’t have to do this full time working and mothering gig every week and appreciate your husband all the more for his sacrifices. But no, it wont stop you bitching and moaning when life returns to normal and you wish he was around a bit more…

Have you and your partner ever switched roles? How did yours play out?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The "Oprah" Anniversary

In honour of the anniversary of "O-Stralia" day 12 month before, when I was one of the lucky few who walked the yellow brick road to see Oprah Winfrey, the wonderful Oprah Winfrey In Oz I wanted to share again the wonder that was an audience with the divine Lady O!

Tuesday Dec 14, 2010 – “O-Stralia Day” - will be etched into my soul for an eternity. I can honestly say, hand on my heart, I was living my wildest dream, to be in the same breathing space as my long time idol, to bear witness to one of her television extravaganza’s was a long term item on my bucket list which I can now officially tick off!

People ask what the highlight was and for me, simply being lucky enough to have secured such a sought after ticket was the biggest prize of all. It disgusted me when I read some online forums that people thought she should have had more giveaways, or wondering why men would have received a pearl necklace, and it actually made me a little ill. This was not what the spirit of the show was about; those who spoke these thoughts should have given their tickets to more deserving, devoted fans, as well all know there were so many who missed out.

While it was something special for my diehard Rabbitohs fan husband to see Russell Crowe, for me it was the amazing Anderson family who secured top spot in my heart. Struggling in the cruel face of cancer, and like everyone else, still trying to make ends meet to pay the bills, thanks to Oprah they are now $250,000 wealthier so that they can take the time out to be together, to heal together. Here is a 34 year old husband and father to two young boys just trying to survive and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by their plight. I will pray every day for his recovery, as, like Rachel, his wife said through her tears, boys need their father. I only have to think of how utterly adored my husband is by my son to understand just that.

The other A-HA moment for me was something that occurred when I least expected it. Screaming along in pure delight as sexy Bon Jovi rocked our stage, his lyrics suddenly struck me: “it’s my life, and its now or never. I ain’t gonna live forever”. They resonated in such a way I felt instantly altered and reminded me to look again to the Anderson family. It really is time for change, no one is guaranteed a long and healthy existence so why do we waste time existing when we should be living?

Mother Nature must obviously be another Oprah fan, because when you see our stunning Sydney Harbour and Opera House, postcard picture perfect, from the sky, with the 6000 colourful fans dotting the surrounds, you can’t help but suck in an involuntary breath of wonder.

We should be proud that our beautiful nation will be showcased to the entire TV viewing world, where 44 million people a week in over 140 countries will see the sights and delights of this great land, and inject a much needed boost to our flagging tourism industry. Like or loathe the fact that the government helped fund a small portion of this, it will be the most successful tourism advertising campaign of our time. Winfrey, a woman renowned for her Midas touch, lavished such plentiful praise on Australia that we would never be able to repay her. The truth is, in these tough economic times, we need a shot in the arm such as this. And in the form of the most powerful media mogul in the world, we got it!

Finally, thank you to my mum, for convincing me to register the husband for tickets, (knowing how desperate I was to be there), to my sister for playing referee by babysitting my son, and to my husband, who finally fell under the Oprah spell (despite his refusal to “woo-hoo” at any time – but don’t worry, I more than made up for his!). Tourism Australia head honcho, Andrew McEvoy, sat directly behind me so I made a point of personally thanking him for being so instrumental in making this dream of mine come true.

Lastly, Ms Oprah Winfrey – your generosity, your humility and your exuberant spirit of warmth will stay with me forever, and inspire me to surpass mediocrity. Whether it takes 2 years or 10, from now on I am indebted to you for reigniting a light so bright in my heart. So just like Bon Jovi sang loud and proud, I eternally pledge “ it is now or never – I aint gonna live forever, I just wanna live while I’m alive…”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Life Swap

You may have noticed (largely due to my absentia online) that the real world has been keeping me well and truly busy the last week, and somehow is about to kick into an even higher gear the next...  Considering I'm about at my exhaustion threshold I am hoping to dig deep and discover some extra energy levels I've not needed since the early months of childhood where running on empty was par for the course... (if anyone can spare some energy, I'd be so grateful!!)

You see, I'm about to embark on my first 5 day week in the office for about 3.5 years. And before you load your sarcasm guns and take aim, this also entails 20 hours of travel in 5 days. For the mathematicians amongst us yes, that does equate to a 60 hour week.

In order to make this happen, the husband and I have orchestrated a little role playing exchange program. Let's call it "Life Swap"...

For the next week he is in charge of all things child and chore related and I have been charged with being the chief money maker (well, kind of, if you ignore the fact he is still bringing in the bucks thanks to holiday pay).

Still, I'll enjoy coming home to cooked dinners, clean clothes and a (kinda) tidy home (a near impossible feat to achieve these days with Hurricane Harrison around) but the trade off is leaving home before 7am everyday and not returning for 12 hours each time...

I admit I also feel a little sad that after being the primary carer for the year I now face missing the fun festivities that coincide with Harrison's social Christmas calendar, including the daycare Christmas Concert and Playgroup end of year party. But on the other hand I do know it will be nice that his daddy, who has had such a busy year and missed out on so much, will get to make up for lost time and enjoy these special treats with his boy.

So, wish me luck one and all as I return to the fold I farewelled long before!  See you on the "Life Swap" flipside!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

You gotta have faith...

Image from here
In the words of the stone wash denim clad, bum wiggling George Michael of the 80’s (whom my sister and I feverishly adored in our sad youth) the thing I’ve had to keep reminding myself of these past few weeks is that I just need to have faith in myself and my abilities. Yet sadly confidence, at times, can be in short supply.

I’ve been working on a massive project (in my day job) which has been a fantastic opportunity, and I have been so happy to be involved. Though closer it got to crunch time, the more my anxiety levels crept up. By Monday night last week I wasn’t sure if I was suffering a tummy bug or just extreme nerves, wondering whether everything I’d worked so hard on was going to run to plan.

Being a worrier by nature doesn’t help. Call it pre-empting or just plain pessimism, it is sometimes hard to not be apprehensive about all the things that may go wrong.

I barely ate for two days, was overcome with nausea at one point, and sleep became a superfluous function.

Throw into the mix I was attending a “blogging university” night that same week and I was a ticking time bomb of fear and nerves.

As with any of these events, I have to work hard on not hyperventilating with social anxiety beforehand. I’ve never been the new girl at school but I fear it’s something like that must have been. There’s nothing quite as potentially personality crushing as walking into a room full of people you only know thru cyber space, but whom all seem to know each other in real life, to bring every insecurity you’ve ever had crashing to the surface of your subconscious. Then I remind myself I am a big girl, I’ve survived the corporate world, I can string together some small talk and pleasantries in order to make a connection. And often while the thought of that is busy quelling my fears, I’ve already found someone I can relate to.

It wasn’t the ideal start to the event however, missing my train to Sydney by 45 seconds which equated me spending another 45 minutes to stew anxiously while I awaiting the next. I very nearly turned around and went home. It would have been the easy thing to do. But an audience with uber bloggers Mrs Woog and Eden Riley awaited, along with the chance to get myself in front of the savvy PR agency Naked Communications would then have been wasted. My husband (my conscience) in his silence told me everything I needed to hear – life aint easy so suck it up Princess. The Universe just wants to see how bad you want something!

It is going to be one of my goals for 2012, to work on believing in myself more. I’m aiming to remind myself, that as long as you do everything within your power and to the best of your abilities, you cannot criticise yourself. And that I am worthy, and have something to offer the world, even if I am just some small voice in the grand blogging scheme of things.

An besides, if I dont believe in myself and my dreams, who honestly will?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for Goodness Sake!

Propped up at the dining table, eyes as shiny as a delicate bauble adorning a Christmas tree, sits the three year old, alongside his Daddy. A shiny sheath of paper and a pen are perched between them; the task at hand is the first ever letter to Santa.

The letter has come about after a particularly trying shopping outing in which I reserved the right to revoke all Christmas privileges from my overly curious, under attentive son who not only almost got lost on many occasions but also sent my blood pressure through the roof with his constant desire to touch every freakin' thing in every shop we entered.

The Husband (aka the mediator) decided to have a diplomatic chat with the wayward child and state that Santa is always watching, and that they'd best write a letter to the big man and state his case to still be on the "Nice" list, and erased from the "Naughty" one.

After an initial consultation about what the letter should contain, the duo commenced, much like the Defence, outlining the argument as to why one Master Harrison should be entitled to some Christmas gifts. And in the interest of being truthful, (because we all know that jolly big bearded man is omnipotent) it was acknowledged there could be a lot more work done on the listening front and a pledge was made to try harder between now and Christmas to fulfil this often underachieved behaviour. He was told, if he could do that then Santa might see about granting him some Christmas wishes.

This then became the green light for the preschooler to begin reeling off a long list of toy desires. At one point I was quick to interject “This isn’t a shopping list okay? Its something we send to Santa and if you have been a good boy you might get some of them under the Christmas tree”. I was pre-empting my clever kid holding written proof against me on December 25 if all his stated desires weren’t met, as if we’d entered into some sort of binding contract!

Thankfully, the lesson on the spirit of giving began to sink in. He commented that the other boys and girls need gifts as well, which left me relieved that he isn’t under the impression Santa is on his personal payroll. Though that train of thought might have also been handy for him to be aware of two hours earlier when I was diffusing his monumental meltdown in a store when I told him the present I was buying was for his cousin. 

After managing to keep the requests to a conservative four, his Daddy asks him if there is anything else he’d like to add before singing off (a closing argument, if you will…)

“Don’t forget to say ‘Merry Christmas’!” he adds enthusiastically, before curling himself into his Daddy’s warm lap like a kitten, and attempting to scrawl his name.

With that, the very first official Letter to Santa has been signed, seal and soon to be delivered… And I have 19 days of leverage in which to play the “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why ” card to the best of my parental blackmailing ability!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Business of Blogging

This week I enrolled in blogging university – “nudiversity”, as run by the fab PR Company Naked Communications and guest hosted by uber bloggers Mrs Woog and Eden Riley, to learn more about the business of blogging.

The theme of the night was a casual chat with a focus on helping “brands and bloggers get it right”.

Without rehashing the entire presentation, I wanted to share the things I took away from the evening, in case it might help anyone else who wrestles with the whole PR/Blogging conundrum.

One of the most hotly debated discussions was the “Media Kit” (a term we all readily agreed we loathed and how we have hereby re branded it to a “position/brand statement”). It really is a necessary evil and you will need to include it in your blogging lexicon if you would like to professionally present your case to PR Agency's. However, Eden is the first to say she has survived this far without one, and even though this has not held her back she begrudgingly admits she will have to embrace this notion soon.

Be sure to create one as if you are cooking a culinary masterpiece. Essential ingredients are required such as your mission statement (preferably in 15 words or less), a snapshot of your readers/interactions via social media and stats, along with brands you’ve worked with. A “brag file” is something easy to create (and we can all thank Ms Styling You for that tip!) and is a great way to keep track of testimonials to include.

When approaching a company be sure to do your research, find out who to contact and never spell out your concrete expectations in the initial introduction. Build a repore, create mutual trust.

Of course, no PR related piece would be complete without addressing the elephant in the room; the old “selling out” chestnut that oft gets trotted out if a blogger promotes or is paid to cover a product.

Personally, I don’t believe there is such a concept unless you do something that goes against your integrity. You always know when something is not right; you get that uncomfortable twinge in your tummy to confirm you feelings. If you don’t do those things, I don’t see you as a sell out at all. We all have bills to pay (or is that just me?) and I believe we deserve to be compensated for our time. Agencies shouldn’t dare view us as simply a free avenue to promote products and clientele. Yes we might get more traffic to our site, but when we know your client has a marketing budget, a small fee is surely not stretching the friendship to cover our time?

That being said, it is still hard to turn down a pitch. If nothing else, it’s a flattering as all get out when someone approaches you – it is like you have finally been recognised for being something other than a bum wiping mum…

I suppose for so long, and for so many, blogging is a hobby. I know that is how is mainly is for me. But I do have an expectation that if I’m asked to do something for a company, that it is recognised that either I, or anyone who reads my blog, will get something in return. I think it just makes good business sense. And I'd be lying if I didn't hope that some day this little slice of cyber space enjoys some sort of regular monetary success.

As I left that night, my head was swimming with ideas and thoughts. It’s all very new territory to me so I am both excited and overwhelmed. Talking about what your readers wants, how to present yourself in “position statements” all sounds so professional and I feel like such small fry.

To be honest I’m not sure what my blog is quintessentially about, I don’t know who reads it. All I know is that I write to empty the words out of my head, and if I did not, I might explode. I love that it gives me an allowance to be creative, to tell a story. All I have ever wanted to do is write and I can do this without a university degree or stack of rejection letters to silence me.

I guess I am selfish in that I write about what I want to and think if I start writing what I think people want to read then its not me being authentic.

(And how on earth I will ever sum up on only 15 words what my blog is about is beyond me - look how long its taken me to get to this point? I am a rambler, clearly…)
But I truly do feel events such as this can help the humble blogger such as myself, who has no idea where to start, to gain an important insight into how the make the most of this burgeoning business in Australia. My thanks to Lorraine Murphy from Naked Communications who gave a fantastic, informative presentation, and of course, Mrs Woog and Eden put their personal stamp on the evening as only they could! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on all things Media Kits/PR Agencies/Blogs working with Brand - do you agree or disagree that bloggers deserve compensation if they work with a brand? And is a Media Kit (aka Position Statement!) essential to prosper in the blogosphere?