Monday, October 5, 2015

Football and Being a Wife

So I just finished watching the NRL Grand Final, by all accounts it was a pretty damn good game. That goal at the 80minute mark was pretty spectacular and the fact that I caught it was a slight miracle. You see I am not really into football at all. In fact this me me showed up on my facebook feed and I thought it highly appropriate.

I always tell people that my husband  led me on when we were dating, we dated for five months before I found out he was a football fanatic! I had never though to ask him about it as I had never dated anyone into spectator sport before. Then one week my husband started mentioning this game a few times, I was oblivious to what he was talking about. Apparently there was this huge game which I now know was State of Origin and he couldn't stay at my house because I didn't have a television. I was shocked, how could people make plans around a game on the television? I was not impressed that I had fallen head over heels in love with someone who watched football. His defense was that we started dating at the start of the off season.

Shortly after I found out about the football interest, I also found out that he was part of a punting club. Each week the boys in the club would put in a certain amount of money and then they would take turns at being in charge of the bets. They would use online sites like bet365 to place bets and then roll the winnings back into the account for the next week. They would run a competition to see who won the most money over the season, any money at the end they spent on a huge piss up on Melbourne Cup Day. I have heard about share investing clubs but never a betting club.

It is strange now five years on, I have grown to tolerate the football and usually sit with my husband when games are on (although we limit it to one a week). I jump on my phone and occasionally cheer in the right places. I cook football food which ranges from hotdogs, burgers or zesty chicken schnitzel wraps like tonight. As long as it can be eaten with your fingers and in front of the television it is a winner. As we have two girls, they also just tolerate the football, Miss 17 jumps on her phone and Miss 7 plays with her toys, but we are always together.

Being a wife is about a long term relationship and making that work is hard. It means we need to encourage each other to follow our  interests and pursue our dreams. It is about sharing about partners and children's hobbies even if we are not interested. In the past in relationships I have been guilty of not being interested and shutting out my partners interest, but I have realised that sometimes people need your support. It is ok that I don't love the game but it is important to let my hubby enjoy it even if I think it is stupid, it means a lot to him when I watch it and cheer.

Next year I am sending him on a shark diving expedition. It is an expensive trip but it is one of his dreams, I will stay at home with the girls. In turn my hubby encourages me to take time out from family life for running events, coffee with friends or weekends away. I am learning that family life is not just about the stuff you do together, it is also about the stuff you do apart but support each other in.

Are you a wife of a football fan? Did you watch the grand final?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Branding Yourself

Do you have a brand? A strange question but I feel like I have lost my brand. Two years ago if you asked me about my brand, I could have told you the colour, the style, the feel and the look. I was the brand but I was also backed with a clear idea of who I was and what I represented.

A few weeks ago I told someone that I had lost my creative side, I had lost my magic since I went back to work full time. They told me it was one of the saddest things that they had heard. It is true though, when you work for someone else you spend so much time trying to fit into your bosses ideals that your own get lost alone the way.

A funny thing about my workplace is the way other girls in the office slowly copy my female bosses style, not everything but slowly they end up dressing the same and saying similar things. I am not immune to this and I know when surrounded by strong personalities I often feel drawn and smothered at the same time.

Two years ago, I was a business owner, social media freak, mum, step mum, runner, dress wearer and cook, these days I work full time and am a mum. My passions have dwindled, I rarely run anymore, I use easy packets for meals as often as I cook from scratch, I avoid my emails and I haven't worn a pretty dress forever. My life is just .............

I read a blog post recently about Mummy burnout, I was so excited reading the article and nodding my head with every sentence. I couldn't wait for the part where the writer gave me a solution, but there was no solution just a desperate plead for help. Damn it, I wanted the answer. The thing about being a mum and an employee and a wife is sometimes you spend so much time looking after others that you get lost.

I have been thinking about redeveloping my personal brand, rather than just keep meddling through life. I am still working through the key points of what I need and these are some of the questions that I have been asking myself.

  • What colour represents me?
  • Who am I?
  • What is my expertise?
  • What am I passionate about?
  • Who do I love?
  • How do people currently perceive me versus how I want to be perceived?
  • What is my game plan?
Once you have decided on your personal branding, you can develop your own set of stationary and presentation tools to convey a message about yourself and what you represent.  I love The Print Group for stationary needs. If you are doing a presentation for work, make sure you check out these great presentation materials to really show off your style.

To be honest I am still working on my personal brand, today I got asked about what qualifications I would like on my work business cards and it got me thinking about what I would put on my cards if I had total freedom. Then I realised I do have total freedom, I am my own brand and being an employee shouldn't define how I work outside of the workplace. So I am going to work on developing my brand and getting some fantastic business cards who show who I am and what I represent right now!

Do you have business cards or branded stationary? Do you believe in being your own brand?

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Importance of Plan B

As an accountant, I get to trawl through people's financial information and chat to them about their goals and dreams. Sometimes I can see that their dreams and their plans are synonymous, other times you can see that their actions will only lead them further from their goals, ie get rich quick schemes. People all have different priorities in theirs lives and how they envisage their futures. I know my husband and I have some pretty big ideas about our future and some plan B's in case things don't go perfectly our way. I often chat to people about how they will make their dreams come true. I often see people with multiple insurance policies to cover the unexpected so that they can get through the tough times, especially when they are heavily in debt. But what happens if all of your plans don't work out, what if something huge happens that you couldn't have planned for?

A few years ago a friend of mine was driving home from work and a drunk driver crossed over the wrong side of the road a plowed right into her car. She was trapped for several hours and her legs were crushed.  She had to undergo multiple surgeries after the accident and developed some pretty serious and life altering complications. It has been a few years now and her life does not look anything like the one she had before the accident. Her ability to look after her children was reduced, her mobility  is forever affected and she lost a large chunk of her life recovering from the accident. It is a scary reminder at how stupid driving under the influence and drugs and alcohol is.

Last year a dear friend slipped on a driveway that was not painted correctly, she broke her legs and needed surgery to pin it, complications arose and recovery was less than simple. I spoke to my husband about how we would cope if one of us broke our leg, we tried to imagine how difficult it would be for us. Being two full time working parents who needs legs to drive our cars to work, we need to work split shifts to deal with the school drop offs and pick ups. As we talked we couldn't see a way that if either of us became seriously injured how we could continue to work. Part of our backup plan is to ensure that we could exist if we had to go back to just one wage.

Both of these friends experienced accidents because of someone else and whilst I am not big on the whole "sue someone mentality" sometimes legal representation can help you have the best representation in these situations. Insurance companies certainly will invest in lawyers to reduce payouts to victims, so it makes sense to get your own legal representation like Firths the compensation lawyers. It is only fair that you are not out of pocket because someone else makes a stupid decision.

Do you have plans in place in case your partner or you lose your jobs, kids get sick or maybe you have an accident? Do you have a will in case you suddenly pass away? Do you have income insurance? These are pretty crappy questions to ask, and most people don't want to think about it but every mother should. Everyone's life is different, so every plan will differ but we do need to make plans wherever we can. I am not guaranteeing that shit won't happen like what happened to my two friends but plans do help us to survive. I do love a piece of free financial advice from my boss, a man is not a financial plan!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why I don't like R U OK Day

I am not sure about this R U OK day. I know it is to raise awareness about mental health and get people talking to others about not being ok. But does it really help? I am not so sure.

The last couple of weeks I have been surrounded by people with serious mental health issues. People are talking but is it helping? Friends, their partners, clients, associates, kids friends, R U OK simply isn't enough. People don't kill themselves because they are unhappy, people commit suicide because they are not stable. Year after year the government cuts funding for mental health programs, apparently 10 visits to a psychologist each year should sort you out. People with depression who manage to go to work each day are often targeted and bullied, girls are called weak and told they need to learn to control their emotions.

So what is the answer? Asking people if they are ok just seems to highlight their issues but doesn't seem to lead to a solution. Access to mental health services seems so limited. I know several people who have desperately tried to access help and they are told there just isn't funding for severe depression. Most people who commit suicide have a long history of trying to access services.

Last week there was a funeral for a beautiful 16 year old girl who killed herself. She went to Miss 17's school the whole school is shaken up. Her facebook tells a story of beauty and happiness, her inner turmoil tells another story. Facebook isn't real, how people look isn't real people always hide the story.

A client said to me recently "I have know you for over a year you are always so professional, you look all sorted", I had just shared with him that I too was a separated parent. He assumed my life was perfect, it's not. Right now I am sitting on an email that I need to reply to from my ex's new wife, she is being very pushy and the thought of addressing the insults in order to sort contact makes me so anxious. Miss 17 is super stressed about the HSC and I feel inadequate and left out. I have planned a huge surprise for her but I am filled with worry that she may not even register how much work we have put into it. I constantly feel like the other parents in our kids lives work against us, after 5 years it is getting a little tiring. I am OK at the moment but I don't regularly share my struggles as I want to give out a positive vibe. So sometimes those strong, happy looking people need a little help and a shoulder to cry on. Be kind to all.

No ones life is perfect. No one line question is going to help people be OK. We need to be better friends, a more open society and share more kindness. We need to slow the hell down and be a community. We need to invite people over and share a meal, walk with a friend, be present with our family.

Have you struggled with R U OK day?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Student accommodation in Sydney

We have just survived the trial HSC with Miss 17. When I say just, I mean just..... There may have been a meditation retreat thrown in there to help everyone to calm the hell down. My colleague advised me that during the trial exams the only correct thing to say was "here have some chocolate" it seemed to be effective. One thing that doesn't go down well is when Dad asks "have you been eating too much chocolate?" Anyway we are out the other side and her marks were fantastic so discussions around universities and courses has started.

Although we live in Wollongong and there is a great university locally, we have looking at different institutions and courses for her in Sydney and other areas as well. We want her to have the freedom  to choose the best course and university and if that means leaving the area, that is a decision that might have to be made. Financially there are huge costs if kids leave home to go to university especially if they don't have access to Austudy. This link shows when kids might get access to Austudy based of whether they are living at home or away and how much parental income is. For our situation with Miss 17 living away from home, we would need to earn less than $105k combined family income which would entitle her to up to $426 per fortnight.

Image Credit
I have lived in Sydney, it is expensive! Getting safe and reasonably priced accommodation for students in the city isn't easy. I often see articles in the paper about shocking student accommodation with 8 students sharing a bathroom!! It always reminds me of visiting friends living in London and their tiny bedrooms with 3-4 people in each one. Decent accommodation is also tough to secure. I own an apartment in Sydney and the two times it has been open for inspection, there have been over 100 people through, of course we choose the best tenants and that isn't going to be a university student.  It is great now though to see student accommodation popping up with is cheaper than the on campus university options but still offers security and included bills like Iglu student accommodation in Sydney which is safe and secure. Parents don't have to stress so much about good, clean and safe accommodation whilst their kids study.

Depending on what university your kids attend, there are some awesome places to live in Sydney for students. You can't go past Sydney Central, close to everything and lots of great places to eat. Want to get out of the city to a more leafy suburb with great shopping? Then Chatswood is perfect, with great accommodation options and close to Macquarie Uni. I obviously can't go past Meadowbank as my preferred place to live in Sydney because I fell in love with the river, the parklands and the ferry, but it does lack that uni student vibe and there are no pubs in walking distance.

To be honest I am a little fearful of my kids leaving home and with Miss 17's decision coming up so soon, I worry if any parent could ever be ready to send them out to the big bad world.

Did your kids leave home to go to university? Did you ever live in grungy uni student accommodation?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Renovating and Clutter

Just over a year ago I started full time work, we are still adjusting. Some weeks we do really well and get through the working week, smashing our goals. Some weeks by the time Saturday arrives we fall into a messy heap, exhausted. This week has been one of those weeks. Our house has become an absolute disgusting mess. I don't think the beds were made once during last week. By Friday the ironing pile is as huge as the washing basket.

We are in the middle of a complete kitchen renovation, we removed the old one two weeks ago, then up came the tiles and slowly everything has been replaced. We were cooking in the dining room, using the slow cooker, the rice cooking and the good old microwave. We still have stuff stored everywhere and it has been impossible to keep the house clean.

We had to cancel our cleaner again this fortnight because of the renovations I regret it. Professional cleaners like those from Absolute Domestics are life savers. Having a cleaner is probably my biggest indulgence, I had a lot of guilt around getting one but it was the best decision. It helps take the stress out of the weekends, I don't need to feel guilty for taking it easy after a long week. I booked in a double clean this week to get rid of all the builders crap but it had to be cancelled at the last minute because the tradies walked off the job the day before. I was in a foul mood that day!

This year my word was simple and the house has been a big focus, I want to enjoy my time at home. My work life is so crazy that I need to simplify the things I can control. I have been reading Becoming Minimalist blog a lot lately because I often feel myself myself getting caught up in commercialism. I need regular reminders to keep it simple. Declutter rather than go shopping, this is a work in progress with hubby who announced that we didn't need to cull the contents of our kitchen cupboards because we have more cupboards now so we can buy more things ahhhhhh. I have instigated a rule that if you want something new it is only as a replacement and the old one has to go. My husband showed me the new bike pump he bought yesterday, I asked what was wrong with the old one, he answered I couldn't find it! I find this really frustrating, we have so much crap that we can't find things and then we buy more. Then we spend money on things to organise the crap. It is a vicious cycle, I keep getting the urge to downsize and declutter.

I was reading an article recently about the effects of clutter on mental health and unsurprisingly the more crap you have the higher your chance of suffering anxiety and depression. I know when I have shit everywhere I feel like crap, when everything is clean simple I feel better. So as part of my word "Simple" this year, I have only put things back in my kitchen cupboards that I use every week, the rest has been left in boxes. If I haven't needed them in a few months they will be going. Own less, clean less, live more.

Drink Driving and Teenagers

Miss 17 got her provisional license on her birthday a few weeks ago. It is such a scary parenting moment handing over the car keys and letting your child drive on their own. Due to the difficulties of shared care parenting, we made a decision to give Miss 17 our old car when she got her license. It was to give her the freedom to move between houses and be able to experience opportunities at either house without having to rely on others. But giving her the keys to our car was not only giving her freedom, but also responsibility.

It scares me how many times I see a car speeding past me and notice the red P plates, my heart sinks to think that could be one of my my kids driving dangerously. The maturity of some kids is not great and they don't always make good decisions, it worries me that these kids are behind the wheel of a very dangerous chunk of metal. Of course my kids are perfect and they would never do that...... but in reality I bet the parents of most drink drivers used to think the same thing. We need to talk to our kids, all the time, like a broken records about how dangerous driving really is.

About ten years ago a very special lady I know got trapped in her car for two hours whilst rescue crews tried to cut her legs free. She had six children and had just started work in her dream career a few months earlier. The afternoon of the accident, her husband had just signed the papers to sell his successful business so he could spend more time at home and she could work. She was rushed from the scene to hospital in a critical condition, spent months in high care wards and had multiple operations, she was told she would never run again as her legs were crushed so severely. A blood clot entered her brain and she got brain damage, no longer would she ever function the same again. She later developed an addiction to the painkillers and after a year had to go into rehab to get off them completely, then came the depression. Her whole life changed all because of a stupid decision by a drunk driver. His choice changed her life, and her whole families life. I often tell my kids this story to remind them how one stupid decision can change your life forever.

I am so glad that there is zero alcohol tolerance now for P platers, I know that Mr 19 and now Miss 17 are very aware that they can not touch a drop before driving. My ex was caught drunk driving as a teenager (there is a reason why he is an ex) he ran his car into a tree, fortunately no-one was injured, but he carried around a criminal record for the rest of his life. This needs to be disclose when going for jobs even 20 years later. Drink driving is a criminal offense that can lead to a lot more than just losing your license. If  you get caught drink driving you will need to front up to court and you will need legal assistance like those offered by GC Traffic Lawyers, they will represent you for the best outcome. Penalties include large fines, losing your license for an unlimited period of time and even jail time.

Taken from Transport for NSW

I think these are ongoing conversations that we need to have with our kids and our friends, tolerance to drink driving needs to be zero. We also talk about not getting into a car with a drunk driver, and if at anytime this becomes their only option they are to call us or take a taxi straight home and we will pay the fare regardless of the time or expense. At some point kids will be put in a situation where they need to make choices that could endanger their lives and others, it scares me to think of this burden on our young kids shoulders. We need to prepare them for these situations.

I truly hope my children never have to experience the ramifications of a drunk driver.


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