Identity and work

I’ve been struggling with identity in recent months. Society has wired us to identify ourselves with our full time occupation, whether it’s paid or not. I left indentured servitude in 2010, with a break in there to have kids. And I’ve never really identified myself as a mother, either. Yes, I have kids, but mothers to me are crafty and bakey and much more nurturing than I. My kids are 9 and 5; they’ve been making their own breakfasts for years. I console myself with the fact that at least they’ll be able to live off WeetBix when they move out.

When I left work and started freelancing I didn’t really think too much about it. I just took those little bits of work when I could get them and got on with life. After stumbling on my market niche in 2011, I decided I wanted to be a subject matter expert. When I found my audience only weeks after I’d verbalised that decision, I started developing my area of expertise and marketing myself to my new-found tribe.

2012 was my year of public speaking. It was challenging and exhilarating. By the end of my last speaking engagement I crashed hard from exhaustion and I’d only spoken at three conferences and a few seminars. But my tribe had grown and it was exciting. I’d found my identity amongst my growing professional community and new friends. And maybe that’s the problem, the extrinsic nature of this kind of identity. Just like that of work.

When you work as a freelancer, you never truly belong to any of the organisations you work with. It’s doubly true when you work remotely. Freelancing is already a rollercoaster and when I read this article the other night, the discomfort I couldn’t put my finger on became so clear. The abstract identity of the near-full-time role I’m performing had been overwhelming me. It seems worse in a traditional corporate environment that favours functional specialists over segment specialists.

What I find so confounding and fabulous is that once I clarified what my problem was, the answer was delivered to me. There I had been, losing myself in an undefined role, when I completed a personality survey the next day and was shown my archetype—The Wise Owl.

Not only that, I read this article last night—”The honor and dignity is always in the work, and how that work is performed, not in the title.”

I am the Knowledge Bird, and I have my tribe.

My First Junket to the Problogger Training Day

I am constantly impressed by the view of clouds from above. The most miserable day below, is still sparkling and clear above a floor carpeted in cotton wool.

An aerial, greyscale view of dark forested mountains smattered with white snow contrasts with the muted coral pink of the sunrise across the tops of the clouds.

That’s how yesterday started. I flew down to Melbourne for the day to attend the Problogger training event.

I’m such a novice flyer. I rarely do it. I don’t have “points”, I’m prone to bouts of mild anxiety between home and the airport, (though I’m not sure why), I don’t even have my own laptop bag. So yesterday, I revelled in my first junket as a self-employer.

The Problogger training day brought together the blogging entrepreneurs — Darren Rowse, Chris Garrett, Collis, Yaro Starak and Pip Lincolne — and those who are on their way.

I wasn’t expecting to learn much. I’ve been blogging for close to 10 years. The main reason I went was to meet people, but was I wrong! There was much to learn, especially for someone who hasn’t had the drive to try and derive income from blogging.

Not that I’ll ever head down that rabbit hole in this space, but it is something I am doing more and more of for clients and to support our own business.

The packed room of 150 guests was full of famous avatars and people I’ve been mingling with on Twitter. And imagine my delight to find Lady Smaggle and Mr Smaggle at the event. I positively squealed with excitement..on the inside.

It was a thoroughly worthwhile event. I’ve come away with some new ideas, some wake-up calls, and I hope, some new friends.

After waking up to start the day at 4.30am, I didn’t get back home to Mum’s place (where Lincoln had been all day) until after 8.30pm. A massive day with so much information.

Now I’m waiting to catch up with Fraser because he went to Sydney with Matt last night to watch Mumford & Sons at The Enmore.

During a break Lara Solomon asked me what my one tip of the day was. I suffer from a lack of ideas – implementation I can do, ideas not so much. So, when I need to find some material to blog about I go and read other blogs. Something there will be a seed to germinate something. It could become a different way of interpreting the same thing or a whole new idea. If you were there, what’s your tip of the day? And even if you weren’t at the Problogger event, how do you keep the creative juices flowing?

In Print

There’s something much more exciting about being published in print than on the web.

SOHI cover

Maybe it’s because everybody’s writing on the web these days. This week SOHI magazine got their third issue out and I have an article in it. I am in print, on paper, for the first time. (Not counting a co-produced zine from circa ’95.)

And in other writing news: I’ve committed myself to produce ten articles every three months for Suite101. I got a buzz out of having my first two submissions approved, but yeah, nothing like what I had yesterday when I saw my name in the magazine. :D

Do I need a deadline?

The cat is sitting on my recliner and I am on the couch with the fan on at 10 pm. It’s been on for 12 hours and the temperature is still .. sweaty.

I ask about a deadline because I am watching ‘Julie & Julia’ whilst blogging. I haven’t blogged in an age. I’ve been busy and so, I am becoming a multi-tasking demon. The problem with watching a movie at the same time as blogging is that the brain hears, and sees, but can’t actually comprehend both activities at once. So, at less than half way through this movie I am almost certain I will have to watch it again some time.

Anyway, this blogging.. absence.. has made me wonder if I need a self-imposed deadline. Should I be aiming to blog once a week, before close-of-business on a particular day? Do you look for me in your bloglines or RSS reader every week? Quite frankly, I can’t keep up with the daily crowd, so forget that. But truly, I have just been busy.

Since my last post I’ve put up the chore chart and we are making headway. Fraser empties the bath toys and water every night, he feeds the cat, and he puts away the clean, folded clothes whenever they appear on his bed—not without complaint. I’m yet to enforce the one load of washing per week but we’re getting there.

In other news, it was Matt’s birthday back on the 5th so I arranged for Mum and Dad to come and hang out with the boys for the day while we went down to Canberra to see AvenueQ—which was awesome!

I spent most of the following week in Canberra (again!) for work related training. It’s always a fabulous opportunity for department store shopping, eating out, and going to the movies. So, there are no complaints from me. It was our 8th anniversary while I was out of town and I went to a movie and McDonald’s with a male colleague. Poor Matt! hah! Next year we aim to do something special.

Since then, I’ve been working on two regular copywriting gigs as well as my usual part-time work arrangement. And get this! I have enrolled in a university unit. Through Open University, in a hundred years, I may well emerge with Bachelor of Arts(Macquarie). We shall see.

On the habits front, my face and teeth routine are going well, but the thirty minute segment of Fitness Coach has lapsed. (I must get my act together on that.) I have a new habit now. Watering the turf.

Behold, after almost five years of living on this martian landscape, and 12 months since I first started the quoting process, we finally have lawn. It’s hot, it’s dry, but the lawn IS growing.

When it has knitted itself together I will bleach the deckchair, (it’s been in the dusty shed), and I will lay back with a cocktail and a book.

Amen.

Do I make a good Sandy?

Well I didn’t win Best Dressed female, (someone dressed as a witch did – boring!) but the Matrix’s Trinity was impressed with me. So impressed, that she hauled me up to the stage during the Grease Medley where I then sang and danced along.

It was a good night and for all the time and effort of putting my outfit together I could have just bought one off ebay. Ah well, I have the satisfaction of not having hired my outfit.

I had a wander around the shops but didn’t end up spending much. Except for lunch with B it was a rather frugal weekend away.

On the up

The antibiotics have worked well. My bronchitis was largely resolved within the five day course. I’ve still got a bit of post-bronchitis asthma. I hope it doesn’t last much longer.

Matt took this photo of Lincoln at the barber’s last Saturday.

haircut

I love the sea creatures cape. He doesn’t look impressed but he was well behaved the whole time. Very cute.

I’m off early tomorrow. I’m heading up for my work function. Before I do that though, there’ll be a bit of shopping and a bit of lunching.

Have a great weekend!

The Juggling Act

I hope you had a lovely Easter. Ours was fairly quiet. Some family, some chocolate and some time off. Life has been fairly busy at Casa de muser. Not outwardly though, we’ve had busy little minds.

I was looking forward to Fraser starting school. I dreamt of hours of time to myself, or time with just Lincoln. This is not the reality. With the ferrying to school and back on days off, a round trip of 45minutes each time if you hurry, and then mixing those school hours in with my standard office hours it is simply..mayhem.
Fraser joined the soccer team but he’s missed all training so far because we’ve been unable to get him there on a Thursday afternoon.

Matt has travel opportunity with work which means he may be out of the picture more often on a day-to-day routine level. So we’ve been constantly thinking and discussing over the last few weeks trying to find ways to alleviate scheduling dramas. We have never actively thought and discussed more in our lives. Even for such milestones as getting married, having children, and buying property. We’re both feeling a little more empowered with the process of living. We’re making considered decisions instead of, pretty much, throwing at a dartboard. My poor brain is getting tired as it’s been on autopilot for so long. I’m used to a clapping monkey in there, not thinking about things of substance.

Anyway, decisions have been made. Though they are somewhat fluid, and may change. But for now, we’re doing a basic landscaping job, finish styling the inside of our house, considering moving in 5-6 years time so we’re closer to better highschool options, and possibly closer to family.

In the interim we plug away at the work/school treadmill but I’ve decided, after Lincoln turns 2, to spread my part-time work load over four shorter days so I can pick Fraser up from school each day, and take him to after-school activities. Until then, he’ll be doing before and after school care on my three work days.

Of course, it makes most sense, financially and logically, to just leave my job but I’m a bit attached to it. It’s part of my personality.

But is it, really? I’m considering doing this course to see if I can scratch the surface. Who is muser, really?

Do you really know yourself? How do you manage The Juggle, if you have kids?

Valentine’s Day

Photo from Curlypops
Photo from Curlypops

This Saturday is Valentine’s Day. Matt will be away for it, so there’s nothing special going on for us.
However, heart shaped pancakes are on the menu for the kids along with a little story about the history of Valentine’s day.

Have you got anything special planned? or something to look forward to this weekend?

As soon as Matt comes back, I leave for a week of training in Canberra. Fraser is already sad. As soon as I come back, Matt is off for a buck’s weekend in Sydney. Ships in the night.

And as I’ve mentioned Canberra, allow me to point you in the direction of this blog. I’ve added alot of design blogs to my RSS reader lately and the fact that Canberra’s Got Style is semi-local is inspiring.

Saturday was great! Some shopping, a late lunch, of King Prawn caesar salad and a glass of chardy, at the Sheraton on the Park, a free room upgrade and plenty of getting ready time for the black tie do. I spent a birthday gift voucher on expensive eyeliner and diamond lip gloss; bought some books; and found some attractive cheapo jewellery additions to my outfit.

iPhone nerds

Of course, trips to Sydney these days require a visit to the Apple store. Matt wanted the iPhone, so I just went inside for a gawp and then left Matt to his nerdy lineup to continue my shopping mission.

And if it wasn’t a crowd of nerdy pilgrims at the church of Apple, it was a crowd of faithful pilgrims at the tents of WydSyd. Thank god for kid-free shopping time.

After a leisurely two hours to prepare I joined up with my teammates and headed down to the company Black & White Awards night. I didn’t win any awards or prizes, (dammit! One was a trip to Hong Kong!), but the special guests were Hamish and Andy. I don’t need a prize – I got a picture of Hamish standing next to me. Hot.

The food was nice but I guess the expense of appearance fees meant we couldn’t afford dessert and coffee. Or perhaps the Company didn’t expect a group of pissheads would be interested. Granted, as soon as the presentations and main meals were done everybody was dancing or mingling, anyway.  My outfit went down a treat. The new shoes very comfortable, and control undergarments very uncomfortable. And if you buy a cute evening bag at a ‘clearance’ price of $15 expect it to have a blowout so that you end up carrying your possessions around in something more like an evening folder.

A night like that should always fuel some good gossip so I’m hoping to get into work on Wednesday for the big stories. I’m yet to find a full-length photo of me so there’s nothing to post as yet. 

The boys behaved well for Nanny and Poppy. Fraser has stayed on up there for a couple of extra days. It’s been much quieter around here today. Lincoln and I will go and meet Nanny half way tomorrow to pick him up.