I Know

Not All Mothers Are Created Equal

Not long after I had my baby boy last year, a friend added me to a Mum’s group on Facebook – the kind of closed group where people ask questions and share advice about parenting.

Tonight, I left the group. I can no longer deal with the completely ignorant, trivial, outrageously stupid comments. It’s infuriating. And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the intention of the group.

I’m honestly surprised I remained a part of it for so long. Sure, there have been a few helpful posts from time to time, but not often enough to justify seeing absolute dribble pop up in my timeline more often than desired.

Perhaps something went wrong when I had my baby. I didn’t change as a person. I didn’t grind my life to a halt and spend every moment obsessing about my child. I didn’t become paranoid about germs and noise pollution.

I am still the same person.

In fact, I might even be a bit better. A tad wiser. And even less interested in being diplomatic.

Because, after having a child, here’s one thing I know more than anything else: having a child does not make you intelligent or productive or logical or accomplished or attractive. If you didn’t have it before you were a parent, you aren’t going to have it after becoming one.

And contrary to what the world will have you believe, we are not all born equal. I am not the same as you or him or her and certainly not them. We are the product of our environment, our genes, our choices, our experiences, our opinions, our attitude and so much more. Some people are better than others. That’s not even up for debate. It’s the bloody truth. And if you disagree, if you’re offended, you should probably stop reading now.

This is only going to get worse.

Tonight’s post, the one that raised my blood pressure and quickly prompted me to hit ‘leave group’, was from a mum expressing concern that the childcare centre she was considering enrolling her son in had a male carer and that was a major turn off to her. Because, you know, male carers in childcare centres must automatically be child molesters.

I was actually a little disgusted by her view. I read through the comments on the post and some people thought she was being overly paranoid and others agreed with her. And then I thought; I wonder what people would have said if she expressed concern about an Asian carer at the childcare centre? Or an Indian one? Or a homosexual carer?

And then I thought; what kind of men does this woman have in her life? Because all of the men in mine are wonderful and decent and exceptional, and dare I say it, sometimes much better people than their female counterparts.

And then I thought; how did we get to a point where it’s ok to validly and publicly assume that the actions of a few horrible men can define an entire gender and generation?

And then I thought; I bet she watches A Current Affair every night. That or Today Tonight. Because if you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer or you’re more ignorant than informed, it’s the exact type of deluded paranoia that these pathetic programs rely on to keep their ratings afloat.

And now, typing away furiously, I think; why just men? Women can be violent and abusive. What about that?

So that was it for me.

That and the fact I’m not actually interested in half the shit these mothers talk about. Parenting isn’t actually that complicated. Your child is not a robot designed to mimic your life and embody your hopes and dreams. Your job as a parent is to equip your child for the world, to the best of your abilities – to encourage them, to help them grow – physically, emotionally, mentally – to guide them, to give them the tools to be the best person they can possibly be, and hopefully use that in a way that helps others.

No one talks about that in this group. The focus is on more important things, like, you know, how to get your child to sleep in later, so you can sleep in later, and how to buy a house in the right zone so you can get the best education for your child without having to pay for it, and where to stay in Bali, and ‘oh, where was that café again, the one where I can sip my decaf-skim-latte-and-let-my-kids-run-wild?’, and how to give solids to your child, and why weet-bix are evil, and ‘where can I buy a realistic looking doll that doesn’t look too doll-like but is still a doll?’

There’s a lot of that going on.

It’s all funny memes and quotes about motherhood that are supposed to make an ordinary woman who has never done anything significant with her life feel better about her decision to bear children and cries of ‘I’m boooooooored, what can I do today?’

Bored? Bored? I haven’t been bored a day in my life.

And now, thankfully, I won’t get infuriated half as often either.

The mums I know – the ones I’ve made friends with and met along the way – are all amazing women. So I console myself with the hope that the ones that grate me so much are far and few between. Because I don’t want my son growing up in a world where he thinks that being a male child care worker, or a male anything, is weird or uncomfortable or unmanly.

I don’t want him to believe that what he sees on television and in advertising is a true depiction of what it means to be a man. Newsflash; not every man loves his shed and only knows how to navigate a remote control and enjoys beer and is stupid/embarrassing to his family.

For all our efforts in telling girls they can be anything they want (and they can), and for all the trail-blazing in helping them get there, we have somehow left behind a few huge gaping holes for our boys.

The holes are everywhere. On our TV screens and in our iPhones and in our schools and coming out of the mouths of women.

Enough.

To the woman concerned about her son being in a centre with a male childcare worker, I only want to know your answer to this:

If you think so poorly of men, how can you ever hope to raise a good man?

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I Know

Scare The World

Scare The World

I believe two of the most important things in life are being yourself, wholly and fully, and being honest, with yourself, and everyone else.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve grappled with the idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ – doing the ‘right’ thing as opposed to what’s right for me. I’ve grappled with being the ‘bigger’ person, as opposed to being the best version of myself.

I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago. And then the other night I drifted from it, just a little bit. And when, the next morning, I realised I’d drifted, I felt sick. To my core.

So I swiftly went about fixing things. For me. Which was not particularly easy. But it was necessary. So necessary.

Because if you’re not who you say you are, then you’re no one. If you’re not the person you promise you will be when the time comes to be it, then you won’t ever be anything.

People spend half their lives ranting in their heads about all the things they’ll do and the words they’ll say, and then they stumble and quaver and choose the easy way out, the one that involves making no choices or avoiding the truth or shying away from the conflict or maybe all of those things combined. And they mask it all with phrases of ‘being the better person’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘keeping the peace’ whilst the truth almost chokes them.

Here’s a few truths; if you sit on the fence, you’ll live your whole life with splinters up your arse. If you avoid conflict, chances are you’ll end up creating more of it. And if you avoid the truth, you are gutless.

It’s easy to say who you are but much harder to be it. But you should never waiver from who you are.

So make the tough calls. Take risks. Stick to your word. Swallow the lump in your throat. Be bloody bold. Make yourself proud.

Scare the world.

And every other mofo who dares to stop you from being honest and being you.

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I Know

It’s Worth Remembering…

It’s worth remembering that people, not all, but some, will take advantage of you when and if they can.

Being taken advantage of isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that people will often forget the things you have done for them; the very good things. The things you have sacrificed. The time you have spent helping them.

People forgetting the things you have done isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

And it sometimes results in being taken advantage of.

It’s worth remembering not to have too much to do with dumb people.

Dumb people are dumb.

They are forgetful. They aren’t ‘with it’. They’re rarely up-to-speed.

When you have things to do with dumb people you spend a lot of time repeating yourself. Going over old ground. Going around in circles.

It isn’t always the end of the world.

But it’s very, very annoying.

It’s worth remembering that some people are selfish. Some people are obviously selfish and some are less so but selfish is selfish.

So because of that it’s worth remembering to look after yourself; your priorities and interests, first and foremost, before you sacrifice too much and put the dreams and ideas of others before your own.

Because in the end those people will look after themselves; they will take advantage and forget the things you have done because they are dumb and selfish.

And being too loyal, too kind, doesn’t win you any prizes.

Sometimes there’s no prize to be won.

Maybe there’s some acknowledgement or recognition. Maybe there’s a little thank you or some appreciation.

It’s worth remembering that you won’t always get that, even if you never expected it.

And so, it’s worth remembering that you can learn your lesson once, twice, even three times and then still find yourself back to where you once were, wondering how you forgot about people that take advantage and forget the things you have done, people that are selfish and dumb.

So try not to forget.

Do your very best to remember.

Put your energy and effort into the things you love, the things that build your dreams in the night and pump blood to your heart in the day.

Spend your time with the people you know are not selfish and dumb.

And then you will not be forgotten. Or taken advantage of.

But be grateful you once forgot, because it reminded you to stop and walk in a straight line, along some new ground.

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I Am, I Do, I Know

Why I Love Him

This morning I read this beautiful piece, written by Malcolm Turnbull, to his wife, Lucy.

And I loved every line. It’s about real love; the kind that is enduring and somewhat rare. It’s about honest love; love that has grown, with people that have grown.

My favourite lines are these:

Yet, truthfully, we have been so lucky in so many ways. To meet the love of your life at all, let alone at such a young age, is such a blessing.

Over the years, we have grown together. It is almost impossible to imagine, let alone remember, what it was like not to be together, so much so that I have a much clearer sense of “Lucy and me” than I do of “me”.

I think I love this piece so much because it reminds me of my great love.

I met my husband when I was 17. He was 19. We have grown and evolved and changed but we did it together, teetering a fine line between growing and thriving personally and staying together, on the same path, walking beside each other but never for each other.

We did it, truthfully, without great effort. Without trying too hard. Or being too conscious of it.

I know people, couples, that have been wonderful but they met and then grew and then grew apart.

I’m not sure why we didn’t grow apart. Life has pulled us in different directions, it has sometimes even chewed one of us up and spat us out, somewhere far away, but together we have stayed.

I also don’t remember what it’s like to not be with Kaz. Even though we both have separate interests, and do things together, but often apart, I know he is always there, somewhere, metaphorically hovering around.

Perhaps that’s where our strength has been; being together whilst also remaining ourselves, pursuing our own interests, whilst supporting and fiercely defending each other.

Perhaps it’s because, before anything else, he is my best friend. And that has never waivered.

Perhaps we are lucky, but I don’t particularly believe in luck. Perhaps we have worked hard at it, but I know that hasn’t been the case, at least not most of the time. Or perhaps it’s because it just works, without too much effort, and maybe that’s the most important part.

Kaz and Sandi Sieger

On our wedding day 

There are so many reasons as to why I love Kaz; because he is kind and caring. Because he is funny and witty. Because he is talented and modest. Because he is fair and clever.

But maybe, and maybe somewhat selfishly, I love him because of how he makes me feel and how he improves my life.

Because he makes me laugh, when I need it most. Because he finds humour, and beauty, in things I would sometimes ignore.

Because he pushes me to be better, when I think I am, or have done, enough.

Because he makes me happy.

Because when I was in labour with O, he was brave, when I needed to be brave, even though he was more frightened than me.

Because he teaches me things, all the time, probably without even knowing it.

Because he makes me more capable than I already am.

Because he is my greatest cheerleader.

Because he usually makes me see the other side of an argument, or issue, and even though I usually fight the point, or disagree, I am later thankful. Sometimes I even change my mind.

I don’t remember ever thinking, or believing, that we’d never end up together, forever. I never saw my life without him in it. I still don’t. It’s unimaginable.

I know what we have is special. Sometimes people tell us that, and it’s a nice reminder. Sometimes we recognise it ourselves. Sometimes, I see a film, or read a piece like I did this morning, and I think, ‘I have that. We have that.’

And it’s all kinds of wonderful.

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I Know

It’s Not Often Enough…

It’s not often enough, in amongst the daily grind, and the busy-ness, and the rush, and the hopping between text messages and email bings and Twitter notifications, and the running to and from, and the endless pursuit of ticking things off the to-do list, and the driving here and there, listening to ads screeching through the radio, and the beeping and the ringing, and the reorganising and the scheduling, and the managing and the planning, that we sit back, truly sit back, and realise, recognise, how good this life is.

How wonderfully, beautifully, incredibly good it all is.

And it is.

It’s so, so good.

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I Know, I Read

Note To Self

Cecil Beaton - Be DaringI’m not sure if I’ve ever read any other words that have made more sense than these:

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” – Cecil Beaton

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I Am, I Do, I Know, I See

My Son

My son

I’m sitting up, in bed at hospital, looking at my husband sleeping to my left, and I’m smiling.

My husband’s arms are thrown upwards, escaping the sheets, wrapped around his head. He’s in a deep sleep and his handsome face is full of peace.

It’s the exact same image I was greeted with only half an hour earlier when I went to feed my son.

My son.

My beautiful, peaceful, joyful son.

Two days ago, our little man entered the world, and life changed. I’ve never loved anything so much, so quickly, with so much intensity. And, as each hour passes, I can’t believe how much further in love I fall. How much more my heart swells. How much stronger I grow. I’m in awe of him.

A friend sent me a text message tonight and wrote that despite my ability for writing, and my husband’s talent in music, our son was most certainly the best thing we’ve ever produced. And I can’t help but agree.

He’s the product of almost twelve years of love, laughter and friendship. Staring at him, I almost don’t believe he’s real. But then I see my husband’s expression across his face, and I know he is. I see my nephew in him, my brother, myself. And I realise that he’s more than real; he’s ours and we made him.

And I get lost for words. I lose myself in his face.

My son.

Our son.

The best thing we’ve ever produced.

I’m besotted.

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I Know, I Write

When You’re Pregnant, Everyone Has An Opinion

First published in Onya Magazine, February 6th, 2013.

It’s interesting being a pregnant woman.

Suddenly, everyone* has an opinion on your body, what you should and shouldn’t be doing, eating and drinking.

Don’t eat poached eggs. Don’t eat ham. Steer clear of coffee. Watch those steps. Don’t lift that. Don’t do this. Don’t try that.

This morning, I heard Chrissie Swan’s tearful and heartfelt admission about struggling to quit smoking while being pregnant.

“Over the last year I have taken up a habit I thought I kicked for good years ago, smoking the occasional cigarette, in total secret and never more than five a week. I never told the chippy (her partner) or my friends I’d taken it up again and I’m not sure I ever would have come out of hiding and acknowledged I was addicted, but this week a pap photographer snapped me smoking a cigarette whilst alone in my car and I knew it was only a matter of time before it became public.”

I’m not here to debate the rights and wrongs of Chrissie’s admission and I won’t get into a debate about it. One tweet this morning was enough for me to realise that some people are all black and white, unable to see the grey. The very same people are full of their own contradictions, but somehow fail to see them. And I refuse to argue with people like that because their blinkers and attitude bother me. Immensely.

I wish Chrissie all the best in quitting her smoking habit – for good. As someone who has never smoked, I have no idea how hard it is to quit, but I have a huge amount of respect for her addressing the issue in the way she did, without making excuses. I’ve got no doubt she’s an amazing mother. And instead of beating her down, I hope we can find ways to support her, and others in similar situations.

When you’re pregnant, people don’t just have opinions on what you should do and eat, they’ve also got opinions on how you should look. I’ve been told everything from, ‘wow, you are huge’ through to, ‘you don’t look pregnant at all!’ At over six months pregnant, I do look it. But I think I look exactly what I’m supposed to look like at this stage of my pregnancy. No two bodies are the same, so it makes sense that no two pregnant bodies are going to be the same. There’s no right way to look. And often, when we’re presented with an image of pregnancy, it’s not an accurate one: a model parading maternity clothes with a belly bump clasped around her waist is not an accurate depiction of a pregnant woman. Kudos to the magazines and online stores that use real, pregnant women to showcase their fashions and wares.

I don’t buy ‘women’s magazines’ (I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a fork) but I was flicking through the latest issue of Woman’s Day this morning, and I saw this:

Post-Baby Bodies

And I instantly thought, ‘fuck you, Woman’s Day.’ Perhaps the caption ‘they’re in no rush’ was meant in a positive way: ‘Hooray, they’re in no rush to be super slim, how refreshing!’ but I’m not so sure it was.

The focus on women’s bodies post-pregnancy (or any time at all) is not healthy. It’s not constructive. It’s not even important. Where is the focus on health? On happiness? On a happy heart and mind? Why don’t you publish that, Woman’s Day?

I’ve met pregnant women obsessed with their size. Obsessed with exercising and following a strict eating regime. I’ve read countless pieces of information in websites and books explaining what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. That it’s not necessary to eat for two. And it isn’t – rather, as your pregnancy progresses, so too does the need for you to up your calorie intake.

I don’t eat much junk food. I cook a lot of meals at home. I eat a well-balanced, varied diet. I love fresh food. Fruits and vegetables and grains. Some days, I eat pretty much the same as would I would pre-pregnancy. On others, I’m ravenous every two hours. I listen to my body and feed it regularly – as and when it needs it.

Seeing your body change when pregnant is quite incredible – it’s amazing, but it’s also frightening, at times. The last thing pregnant women need to be told is how pregnant they look. I can’t bend down in the shower to shave my legs properly; do you think I need anyone telling me my belly is growing?

It’s not the right or the responsibility of anyone to pass judgment, comment or advice onto pregnant women. Perhaps an obstetrician, or a GP, when approached and questioned, but it’s not up to you or me.

Eating a sandwich with fetta the other week, my lunch companion questioned whether I should be eating that particular type of cheese. Drinking an iced coffee the other day, the waitress wondered aloud whether it was ok for me to be doing so.

Um, what?

I know being pregnant means being slightly more cautious with certain foods and environments, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live. Or eat. In fact, I’d go so far as to surmise that our obsession with eliminating so many food types is half the reason we have a generation of children walking around allergic to every second food group.

I spent half the summer scoffing prawns and fresh seafood. I’ve eaten camembert. And prosciutto. And I don’t need the pregnancy police telling me how or what to eat. I buy good quality, fresh food and I won’t take policing from someone who defrosts their dinner in a microwave every night.

I’m much more concerned with being healthy, strong and happy. And my focus – and that of the pregnancy police – should be directed towards parenting and raising well-adjusted, empathetic, educated children, rather than worrying about the contents of my sandwich.

*Usually strangers.

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I Am, I Know

I’m (Not) Sorry If My Hair Offends You

I’m on the left. If my hair offends you, I’M GLAD.

It’s not unusual for me to get enraged watching the news or reading the newspaper. There’s just so much stupidity in this world, it’s hard not to.

And so, just this afternoon, I stumbled upon an article (if you can call it that), in Melbourne’s The Age.

Curls: shabby or sexy? (Yep, the big issues).

Here are a few pearlers from the piece:

“Curly hair is, by its very nature, unpredictable and untamed, which business specialists insist reflects poorly on the professional, however well dressed.”

“Casual is not an image pursued by corporate headhunter Rose Filippone, who spends “quite a lot of money” having her head of ringlets polished and smoothed. “I have never seen a corporate man – a CEO, a director, a financial controller – with curly hair.”

“Filippone says curly hair looks unkempt. “The person may not be, but would you walk out of the house looking like that? Not if you’re in a suit. We’re not DJing. Let’s remember where we are. It’s not allowed. It’s the unspoken rule. Men do it quite well.”

And this, from HR executive Louise Adamson: “It’s part of the corporate image. Curly hair is always going to look slightly messy unless you’ve got a hairdresser walking behind you with a comb.”

I just don’t know where to start without being incredibly offensive or swearing my mouth off.

I understand that this article may grate at my core more than that of others – it’s no secret I have curly hair – but it’s also terrible, lazy, bullshit journalism.

I love the occasional lifestyle piece in my newspaper. In fact, the only reason I even buy the newspaper anymore is for the lifestyle lift-outs on weekends, but I’m not sure utter trash like this qualifies as lifestyle.

It’s pure and total crap, complete anti-curl propaganda.

The reality is, curly hair is beautiful. I’ve never been ashamed of my curly hair. Nor, I should point out, has my curly hair restricted me from advancing in my career. Just this afternoon on Twitter someone told me that their Senior Manager in Banking is a woman with curly hair – that’s also dyed pink. I’d love corporate headhunter Rose Filippone to cop a look at her.

“Articles” like this just perpetuate the myth that every person with curly hair is a free-spirited hippie, and people with poker straight hair are stone-faced, heartless monsters.

What I’d like to say to “journalist” Natasha Hughes, Rose Filippone and Louise Adamson is this; IT’S FUCKING HAIR. Most of the population has it. And it can’t all be the same. There’s different lengths, and thicknesses, and colours, and styles, and textures. IT DOESN’T DEFINE US. OR THE WORK WE DO.

We were born with it and to suggest that the follicles on our scalp outline the rung we can take on the career ladder is a FUCKING JOKE.

It’s ignorant, biased and completely stupid. And so are the people who believe it, or are martyrs to their straighteners living in fear of it.

Guess what? I have a hairy dog, too. SUCK ON THAT.

I’ve only ever been told how lovely my hair is, not unprofessional or untamed. Adamson’s suggestion that my hair is “always going to look slightly messy” has actually made me develop a slight twitch.

Curly hair might not be easy to manage for those with very little idea, but for those with some smarts, it’s a simple matter of finding the right technique and product. I spend very, very little time on my hair. It gets washed and styled. Not combed or straightened. And it always looks good.

Perhaps Adamson should spend less time on her own head of hair, and more time partaking in intellectual activities. And as for Filippone, maybe she should invest more of her money in learning how to accept and love what she’s got, than trying to be something she’s not. And Rose, love, I walk out of the house every day with my curly hair. And I’m no DJ.

I’m quite happy to fly the flag for the curly-haired folk of the world – maybe if more people were less ashamed, these kinds of articles wouldn’t get published.

And maybe The Age needs to start seriously thinking about their relevance and outdated business-model in an ever-evolving world and addressing issues like their dwindling readership and general public apathy amongst Melbourne readers, before hitting the publish button on articles that are further tarnishing their masthead.

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I Do, I Know

Mistaking Motion for Action

The other day, I read this blog post from my dear friend, Faustina. Currently in LA, Faustina is stumbling upon some life lessons that are making me nod my head and ‘ah’ in agreement:

One thing that I’ve become far more aware of, particularly in the last couple of months, is that lessons in life will keep on presenting themselves to you until you learn and understand them wholly. The lesson I’ve consistently been presented with is to stop rushing aspects of my life when making transition.

That paragraph sums up the last few months of life, for me. There are lessons, and thoughts, and feelings that keep on presenting themselves; sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, that make me think, ‘Ah, I’m back here again.’ Thoughts and feelings and lessons in waiting that I cannot shake, that keep peeking around and popping up in so many aspects of my life.

Then I read this, and it made so much sense I felt it with every fibre of my being:

When I wake up in the morning I think about what I feel like doing that day. Not just what I should – cause then the list goes for days. And then the pressure sets in.

We hardly ever give ourselves enough credit to follow what it is we want to do.

Granted, there’s things we should and need to do, but if we fail to put the want into our day, we’re just cheating ourselves.

And sometimes, we needn’t worry about what we should do. Some days we should pack the car, go for a drive, hit the beach or the mountain and breathe, or, go wherever it is we feel like going and do whatever it is we feel like doing.

I’ve been following my gut feeling over the past few months and it has lead to some discoveries and realisations. As well as some of the most relaxing and fulfilling moments of my life.

I’m sick of the should-dos. And the can-dos. The up-and-gos. And the to-dos.

I’m sick of rushing.

I know too many people who are too busy getting very little done. There’s been some great work written on busy lately, of which I entirely agree, and I say that as a person who’s spent the best part of her twenties being busy – and fulfilled, and happy, and full of life.

I still want to be fulfilled and happy and full of life, but I recognise that in order to do so you don’t need to be busy. We are constantly bombarded with messages of ‘life is short’, ‘make every day count’, ‘live each moment like it’s your last’, but the reality is, for most people, life is long, full of many days and moments, and I feel like all this ‘make every moment count’ hoo haa is just another way for, as Faustina says, ‘the pressure to set in’.

We’re so obsessed with making each moment count, we try to have multiple moments in one. We’re no longer satisfied with one thing at a time. We’re no longer satisfied by simple moments.

Social media, for all its brilliance and blessings, has allowed us to develop a behaviour where we feel as though we can’t miss a moment, so we need to be plugged in and switched on all the time, but not only that; we also can’t miss out on the opportunity to capture a moment. Our computers and laptops and smartphones, gadgets that bing and ding and ring and ping, are pulling us from the very moments we’re supposed to be enjoying because we’re so afraid we’re not capturing it all, or, that there’s something going on that’s more important or interesting than what we’re currently doing.

We can no longer watch a TV program without vomiting opinions about it – in real time – online. We can no longer watch a movie at the theatre without a screen lit up in our palm (I’m about one movie away from picking up someone’s phone and throwing it). We can no longer capture a beautiful view in our minds, we need to Facebook and Instagram and Twitpic it.

The constant need to share has started to make me a little ill. I actually don’t want everyone to know what I’m doing, all the time. And I don’t really want to know what other people are doing all the time, too.

I don’t want to have conversations with people that are multi-tasking. I expect undivided attention.

I stopped using Foursquare weeks ago, because I realised I didn’t want people to know where I was enjoying a coffee, and it’s become more and more apparent that I care less and less about where other people are having one too.

I love gaining insights into people’s lives via social media, I love the banter, the humour, the connections and the links sharing great writing. I don’t love the negativity. I don’t love the opinions – particularly those that are degrading or rude or judgemental. I don’t love the links sharing bad writing.

So I use social media in my own way now, in a way that suits me. That means taking in 10% of what’s going on, sharing 15% and using the other 75% in more positive and productive areas of my life.

I don’t run to social media first thing in the morning anymore, or last thing at night. I switched off my notifications. My phone rarely pings and dings and bings anymore. I only answer calls if it suits me to answer them. Ditto emails. I check social media when I want to (some days, I forget to check it at all – it’s surprising how quick and easy it’s been to detach). I find myself enjoying social media more, when I do use it, because I’m using it less. I find myself less affected by people’s opinions and negativity. I find time to read more good quality blogs, online magazines and newspapers. I still connect with people. Online and offline. And I’m getting more done. I read more. Yes, books.

I’ve written about the farce that is multi-tasking before, and I kind of feel that way about online activity now – not that it’s a farce, but that you can spend a day flicking between websites and social media profiles, feeling busy and rushed, but achieving very little.

When online activity started to make me feel rushed and pressured, when I started to feel like I had to have something to say, and share things in my day, that’s when I decided to change my approach.

Life may be full of moments, but I don’t think each and every one of them has to count. I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favourite films, The Age of Innocence, when Newland Archer played by Daniel Day Lewis, replies to a question of how he’s going to spend his day, by saying, “I’m going to find a way to save my day, rather than spend it.”

That, I believe, is what we should focus on. Not the ways to make each moment count, as though the more we do, the more we have to accumulate, thus making our lives more worthy, but rather, focusing on how to save and cherish moments, acknowledging that sometimes, whittling away the hours doing sweet nothing is far more meaningful than rushing in the pursuit of something.

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I Do, I Know

Why Multi-Tasking Is A Farce

I’ve stopped multi-tasking in my job.

And it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve realised – after several years of thinking that doing too much all at the same time is a good idea, and with thanks to business coach Marie Forleo, whose B-School course I have just completed, that multi-tasking is a complete farce.

Yes, a farce.

The past week, I have focused 100% on exactly what I’m doing at any given time – and on that task alone – and I’ve noticed a huge spike in my productivity, concentration and quality of work.

This might all sound very simple. And you may scratch your head and wonder if this ‘lesson’ I have learnt is really that much of a discovery.

But easier said than done.

The truth is, working in the online space is often erratic, frenetic and involves having 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree.

It’s overwhelm, on your senses, and in every sense of the word.

And sometimes you get to the end of a long day, back away from the computer and think, ‘Wow, today was so busy, it was go, go, go.’

Which it most likely was.

Go from phone call to email, go from Facebook to Twitter, go from YouTube to online magazines, go from writing to editing, go from here to there and repeat.

I have done this long enough to know that a busy day might not necessarily equal a productive day.

So, after reading the stats and research on the importance of banishing multi-tasking, after learning and evolving, I have stopped multi-tasking at work.

And I get so much more done. I now schedule like a mo-fo, I map out my week before it’s even begun, I break tasks down and I set aside sufficient time for them to be completed in.

And I’m smashing it.

Not being pulled and stretched too thin means I’m not worn out at the end of the day, but more importantly, it means what I’m doing during the day is great work, as opposed to good work. There’s order to my day and that order has brought a certain clarity with it that’s so new to me, I do feel a little bit like a new person.

This is a huge shift for me. And whilst I certainly won’t stop multi-tasking outside of work (the washing, cooking and cleaning trifecta is best left alone), I don’t think I can go back to multi-tasking at work again.

Parts of my day still involve tab-jumping and serial mouse-clicking, but I’ve allowed time for that to happen. It’s not my whole day. Whole timeslots in my day are now blocked out and dedicated to just one task.

If you think it can’t be done, or if you’re scoffing at the thought, give it a go.

Don’t make excuses. I used to all the time. All of the reasons as to why I needed this open or that at my fingertips.

The world will not stop spinning if you spend an hour devoted to working. Your client will not die if you call them back 45 minutes after they leave you a voicemail message. You can take four hours to email someone back. That tweet can wait.

We’ve created this idea that we need to be on top of everything, all at the same time; but that’s not only impossible, chances are it’s also damaging your working life (and maybe life beyond that). As I’ve looked around this week, I’ve noticed people declaring how busy they are, how much there is to do, but then at the end of the week, their to-do list barely has a tick on it. And so they go into the next week with the same list and the same thing happens and then a month has passed. And they’ve somehow kidded themselves into thinking this is how work is supposed to be done.

I should know. I’ve been there.

What we need to do is be clear, focused and on task so we can get the job done. And if you can do that with 82 tabs open, 10 programs, 12 social media accounts, 6 email accounts, one landline, one mobile phone and a partridge in a pear tree, then all power to you.

But I have finished a week where I’ve given multi-tasking the flick and it’s been the best working week I’ve had in a long time. Even though I worked late into the night twice this week. Even though there were some minor frustrations.

So goodbye, multi-tasking, and hello, clear to-do list.

Let’s rock this.

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I Know, I Write

Why Generation Y Won’t – And Shouldn’t – Settle

Previously published in Trespass Magazine

I once read the opening of one of those ‘let’s bash Gen Y’ articles and it started something like this: ‘They’re hip, smart-talking, brash and sometimes seem to suffer from an overdose of self-esteem. And if there’s a generalisation to be made about young Generation Y people, it’s that they don’t like waiting. With an iPhone in one hand and soy latte in the other (not to mention the iPod earphones surgically attached to ears) they are ambitious, demanding and apparently born to rule. Right now!’

I nearly fell off my seat. Excluding the surgically attached iPod earphones, everything else mentioned seemed to fit the bill; I think I’m hip (without intentionally intending to be so, of course), I certainly don’t lack self-esteem, I can be brash and actually prefer to get straight to the point, and I definitely don’t like waiting. I have an iPhone, however I tend to prefer long macchiatos over soy lattes. I’m incredibly ambitious, fairly demanding at times, and love the idea of ruling the world.

I’m Sandi. And I’m from Generation Y.

Without a doubt, we are the most complex generation ever. We lead a life of contrasts and contradictions. We are avid supporters of the environment and recycling, but still buy ‘Balance’ and ‘Fiji’ water with gusto. We support human rights, but would have no problem flattening a fool in a moment of road rage. We’re overscheduled and gadget-ed up to the nines, but constantly crave a quiet holiday in an idyllic location. We reject multi-nationals but are the most brand conscious generation ever. We are the most educated generation yet, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, but will job hop as much as we bed hop. We’re either running at full pace, or strolling along.

For many Gen Ys, there is no such thing as a weekday or a weekend. There are just days. Very few of us have the kind of careers that end at 5pm on a Friday. There is always work to take home. Thinking to be done. Or work to slot in with post-graduate study. We elect to have random days off – like a Tuesday, because we wake up in the morning and see the sun shining and decide it’s the perfect day to hit the beach. We have our fingers in many pies, and as a result, don’t get too many ‘nothing’ days. But stimulation? Gratification? We’re never out of it.

Friendships, for a Gen Y, are as important as family. Television shows like Friends, Sex and the City and Seinfeld may not have featured characters from our generation, but they did feature one common lesson; family sometimes won’t be there, but friends always will. Being the generation with the most experience in family breakdowns, is it any wonder we are more peer orientated?

My family is, by far, the most important thing in my life. It’s just that we, the Gen Y crew, view our family as a combination of flesh-and-blood actual family and friends. Where other generations have always separated the two, my generation combines them. Your friends, by default or choice, become a part of your family.

Generation Y is many things – educated, tech-savvy, ambitious – but there are many things we are not – selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate, unreliable.

I recently read a ‘letter to the editor’ in Melbourne’s Herald Sun describing us as, “a self-destructive bunch that value idiotic and anti-social behaviour. Completely self-obsessed, they have no concern for their community and are an utter drain of social resources.” Pardon? I am much more of a gain for this community, and country, than a drain. Let me assure you of that Mr.Tom, who writes into newspapers with wild, unfounded statements and generalisations. I, like so many other people that make up Generation Y, have nothing but respect for our community. So much so, that we work incredibly hard to create businesses, programs and events to keep our communities alive.

Generation Y is often accused of having no work ethic, shunning responsibilities and throwing money into the wind. I’ve often retorted that people need to have a strong, hard look at the world we grew up in before questioning us – terrorist attacks, unstable economies and nations, natural disasters, the explosion of technology and the digital age – to understand why we may feel that life is fleeting and simply made up of moments to enjoy.

We, the children of Baby Boomers, have learnt a great deal about what we don’t want our lives to become. We’ve seen our parents work in jobs and get slapped in the face after twenty years of service, with not so much as a thank you. Do you blame us for job hopping? We are accused of being spoilt – for not working under a certain pay figure, or under certain conditions, and for quickly leaving a job if an employer bullies or bothers us. If that is what constitutes being spoilt, then I am. I work hard, but I won’t do it for peanuts. I refuse to be unhappy at the end of each day; moan and whine about my job, and then rise the next morning to do it all over again. If my boss bullies me, not only will I leave, I’ll give him or her a mighty good verbal spray on the way out. I know that I am talented and smart enough to get a job elsewhere. If that’s being cocky, or having an “over-dose of self-esteem”, then I am guilty of that. I am guilty of belonging to a generation that values themselves. That takes pride in their abilities. And that refuses to settle.

Generation Y is one that travels the globe and soaks up its beauty. One that wants to see the world and be a part of it. A generation that has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. That wants to know what’s happening from Australia to Zimbabwe. We’re more tolerant of people, races, ethnicities, sexualities and choices than any generation ever before us. We’re curious, honest and have so much to offer the world, it should, and someday will, actually startle you. We’re not the biggest generation – children of the 1980s and 90s were born at a time of rapidly falling birthrates – but we’ve certainly got get-up-and-go.

So, my dear Gen Y-ers, despite what all the reports may say, despite our own contradictions, and individual complexities, never stop believing what will always be true; that you can change the world. That moments really are the only things that matter, so make them matter. That, at any point in time, we are one tiny speck in an enormous universe, and that universe awaits our knowledge, passion and skills. That we may job hop, or bed hop, and that’s our choice. Settle, if you want. Don’t, and do not.  But always aim for blissful happiness. Have your cake and eat it too. And, when questioned on anything, always answer with the only and best response – “Y not?”

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I Know

Don’t Judge A Person By Their Business Card…

Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about ignorance. As well as people’s pre-conceived opinions and ideas about others that work in certain businesses and are CEOs or cleaners or teachers or receptionists or nurses or truck drivers.

Well, it’s more that I’m being slapped in the face with it everyday, as opposed to actively thinking about it in any great depth.

And what I’ve discovered isn’t much of a discovery at all, but there’s certainly a lot of truth in it; a job title, in many cases, has very little to do with the intelligence level of the person bearing it.

Because the truth is that some of the dumbest people walking the earth are running multi-million dollar companies. Some of the most ignorant people you will ever meet have job titles that make them sound far greater than what they could ever hope to become.

And, in turn, some incredibly intelligent people don’t have a business card that backs up their brains. Some people – brimming with smarts – might not have a job description or title to match them.

But it doesn’t mean they are not.

It’s frustrating, if you think about it long enough. And a little disheartening. Over the past couple of months, I have seen many cases of inept leaders running businesses. People that somehow ended up in the big chair, because of sheer luck or fortune, good timing or something equally as fluky.

People who just don’t get it. And who don’t have the basic skills one would assume you require to be in the position they’re in.

In most cases, their businesses are a complete shambles, which makes a lot of sense because it all starts at the top – ineptitude, incapability, lack of direction – all these things filter down from the top and create the kind of workplace culture that makes people want to stab themselves in the eye with a fork in the morning instead of getting out of bed and going to work.

What I’ve learnt is not to assume when it comes to job titles – so very often they indicate precisely nothing. I’m talking about CEOs that don’t know their left from their right. Teachers that can’t spell. Accountants that can’t put two and two together.

And truck drivers that are also artists. Cleaners that are studying to be surgeons. Chefs that have more of an IQ than all the people dining in their restaurant put together.

I’ve learnt that common sense is not an add on that comes with intelligence. Some people have it and some people do not.

But mostly I’ve learnt not to underestimate someone because of the job they do. The school they went to. Or the post code they live in.

I know plenty of privately educated people that cannot tell their ‘your’ from their ‘you’re’, let alone more complex and intricate details of history or science or life. But I also know private school alumni who are incredibly gifted and intelligent and doing wonderful things in the world. I know plenty of people that went through the public school system who are intelligent and educated and talented. I also know people that went through the public school system that cannot tell their ‘your’ from their ‘you’re’, let alone more complex and intricate details of history or science or life.

The job title listed on someone’s business card is not a pass to hold them in high esteem. Hold someone in high esteem because they deserve to be – for their work, their efforts and ethics, their morals and practices – because of who they are not what they do.

Don’t eliminate the possibility of knowing someone truly remarkable because you’ve placed a limitation upon them – because you’ve judged them based on what they do.

There are people I am lucky to have in my life that I probably wouldn’t even know if I had of judged them based on what they do, what school they went to or where they live.

There are intelligent people everywhere. They are not confined to suburbs or cities or countries.

Don’t confine someone from your life because they don’t have the right type of business card.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do. Nothing else.” – Gandhi

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I Know, I Read

The Wandering Years…

Scouring through a second-hand bookshop in Adelaide over the summer, my fingers stopped when they reached a book covered and bound entirely in orange. I picked it up – The Wandering Years by Cecil Beaton.

It was the first time I’d heard of his name (or was it? It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place a face, or a career). I opened the book up to discover it was a lifetime worth of diary entries from a man who appeared to have had quite the full one. So I bought it, based on the few lines I had read within it.

I haven’t read The Wandering Years yet, but I know I am going to love it.

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I Am, I Know

Be Afraid – But Do It Anyway

Last week, I was being interviewed by a lovely and clever University student, and we got chatting about fear.

And it got me thinking about a common misconception bandied about confident people – it’s assumed they don’t feel fear.

I don’t think that’s true.

Everyone is afraid, at some point or about some thing. Everyone gets scared. Everyone gets nervous. Anxious. Worried. Stressed.

It’s how we react to that fear that matters. It’s how we push through it that’s important.

When I’m afraid of something – big or small – I run to it.

I refuse to let fear hold me back from doing anything in life.

I know that if you let fear control you, then it will. It will grip you. Choke you. And consume you.

The best days of my life have been the ones where I’ve been the most scared. The best results I’ve ever gotten, the best I’ve ever achieved, have come from moments when my stomach has been tied in knots.

Fear is terrifying.

It can literally stop you in your tracks.

It’s also a great motivator. And face fear once, and you’ll be likely to face it again.

I’ve felt fear. It’s nearly made my knees buckle under the weight of it. Quite literally, one time.

But it’s also challenged me. Pushed me further than I thought I could go.

And it’s because I felt it. Sat with it. Heard it. And then used it. Against itself.

I get scared. I feel the fear. And then I do whatever is so scary and frightening anyway.

The richest moments of your life might just be clouded in fear.

Embrace it.

Discover them.

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