Welcome to the first edition of Beauty and Joy!

Beauty and Joy is a new weekly pictorial series, capturing photos of my life. It’s a weekly reminder to look for the beauty and joy all around you.

I hope it brings you joy as well. Let’s get started.

Beauty and Joy

It’s storm season in Brisbane, so the sky is putting on its own breathtaking light show.

Beaoty and Joy - Clouds storm

Beauty and Joy - Garden

I have a garden full of weeds but I always appreciate the beauty when it appears. Stop waiting for your ‘perfect’ garden and appreciate the garden you already have.

When I was in New York recently I went book shopping. I bought a lot of books (so many in fact that I had to get one of co-workers to help carry them home for me because I had gone over my weight allocation for the flight). Call me old-fashioned but I love the feel of a book in my hands. Books = joy.

Beauty and Joy - books

Beauty and Joy - The Desire MapI’m currently reading The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte and it is filling my soul with joy. I’m not even half way through and I will never look at goal setting the same way again. I’m reading it on the train smiling and nodding to myself in acknowledgement. I am having AHA moments all over the place. It’s inspirational and earth-moving!

Beauty and Joy - retro cafeI recently discovered the Southside Tea room close to my house. I love discovering new cafes and bars. This place is retro, kitsch and a whole bunch of oddities all thrown in together but in a crazy way it works. It reminds me of my grandmother’s old house. The Hungry Hippie sandwich is perfect for brunch.

Beauty and Joy - Cat

Beauty and Joy - Cat 2Whilst I promise not to turn this into a weekly cat pictorial, I couldn’t start my first Beauty and Joy series without photos of my boy.

When it come to filling my life with pure love, I can’t go past this little guy. He’s with me every day putting a smile on my face, reminding me that no matter how busy life gets there is always time for a cuddle.

Now is probably a good time to point out that I’m a newbie to my smart phone which means I’m a newbie to using the camera as well.

I’m sure my photos will improve over time, so this series is a work in progress but it’s important to remember that life doesn’t need to be perfect, shiny and photoshopped to hell to be beautiful.

I hope you’ve had a great week!

May your weekend be filled with beauty and joy.

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Write Change Grow UpdateI thought I would give you a quick update on what’s happening here at Write Change Grow headquarters.

Firstly (and hopefully you have already noticed) I am writing a lot more! My plan is to have a new post Monday – Friday for you to enjoy.

That’s 5 new posts per week!

Two of those will be exciting new features. Wednesday you can expect Sexy Word of the Week (check out the first two – Boundaries and Self-discipline if you missed them already) and on Friday you can expect a new pictorial post aptly named Beauty and Joy.

This regular feature will be photos highlighting the everyday things that give me joy. I’ll be an important reminder to stop and notice the beauty all around you.

As many of you know, I attended The Blogcademy in New York in September. I had my blog critiqued and now it’s time to put that knowledge into action!

As much as I would love to have the time and money to give the site a fabulous complete overhaul, what’s actually going to happen is I will be changing the blog in stages over the next couple of months.

I have already updated my About and Start here pages so feel free to check them out. Both of these pages will have further updates over the next couple of months so stay tuned for more changes in that space.

My categories section is finally sorted (a long time coming that one!), so head over to the sidebar and have a look at what the new WCG categories has to offer.

What else can you expect coming up?

There will be some wonderful new design features and yes I will be finally getting rid of that dated, old header and tagline. Bring that on – I can’t wait!

Down the track you will see more photo of yours truly and basically more photos in general.

Going forward Write Change Grow is going to be a positive, fun and inspirational place to hang out and I am looking forward to you joining me!

If you enjoyed this update, please share it with your friends.

Coming tomorrow the first edition of Beauty and Joy!

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Sexy Word of the Week Self DisciplineLet’s look at a dictionary meaning for self-discipline.

Discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement: eg Acquiring the habit of promptness requires self-discipline.

I think my favourite version is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
the ability to make you do things that should be done.

In a nutshell self-discipline is what got me out of bed at 4.30 this morning to write this post.

Just to be clear, I’m not a self-discipline expert.

What I am is someone who is always working on improving my self-discipline so it certainly is a familiar topic. Sometimes I’m ahead, sometimes behind but I am always trying to improve.

So what is self-discipline exactly and how the hell is it sexy?

It’s the glue that holds your dreams, goals, to do list and bucket list together. It’s how we get stuff done!

Self-discipline is how we take amazing holidays, build our dream home, be great parents and get promotions. It’s how we move forward in life.

It is an essential ingredient in how successful we are.

It doesn’t get much sexier than that!

Self-discipline can be tricky.

In certain areas of our lives many of us have tonnes of self-discipline, where as in other areas we suck!

Sometimes we have an abundance of self-discipline and at other times we feel drained of every ounce of get up and go and nothing seems to be able to make us do “the things that should be done”.

As I mentioned I’m no self-discipline expert but here are a few ideas that have been helping me recently.

  • Pick your priorities. Don’t try to be Superman and do everything. Pick your priorities. I will give you an example. I have dirty dishes in my sink. I have time to write this blog post or wash up but not both. The blog is more important, so here I am. Don’t run yourself ragged trying to do everything. You will exhaust yourself and that’s when our self-discipline is most likely to disappear.
  • Improve on your personal best. One thing self-discipline loves is seeing results. Don’t compare yourself to other people because it can be demotivating. Work to improve on your personal best and watch your self-discipline increase.
  • Find something that you like doing. If you are going to flex your self-discipline muscles start with something you love. It’s much harder to force yourself to do things that you hate. Once you flex your self-discipline muscle you might even find doing things you dislike slightly easier.
  • Repetition helps build self-discipline. Let’s use exercise as an example. Do you think you will have more self-discipline to go for a jog if you have been once in a fortnight or if you have been going every day for a week? Go for the repetition.
  • Work on your habits. If you want to weave more self-discipline into your life, take a serious look at some of your day-to-day habits and see where they can be improved or changed to benefit you. (More on changing habits in an upcoming post).
  • Where possible make self-discipline fun! If you can’t quite manage that, make sure when you are having down time that you are having fun and enjoying yourself!

Self-discipline is the difference between having a great life and letting life pass you by. Which one will you choose?

Coming tomorrow some news on what’s happening here at WCG headquarters. See you then!

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iStock_Why My First Attempt at Business Failed Lack of DirectionThis post is part 2 of the Why My First Attempt at Business Failed series, so if you missed yesterday’s post you can read it here.

As I mentioned in part 1, I started off wanting to be a freelance writer for magazines, newspapers and websites.

I had a clear direction.

As many freelancers do when they want to break into the market, I started pitching to publications.

Smooth sailing so far.

The problem was I wasn’t pitching as regularly as I should have been. I seriously underestimated the number of pitches I needed to be sending out. While there may not be a ‘magic number’, I know that I wasn’t sending out anywhere near enough.

Instead of being fully focused on sending out pitches and securing assignments, I was busy blogging, updating social media, checking stats, working on affiliates, doing updates to the blog design and spending far too much time on the technical side of my blog (which I have to admit was completely overwhelming to me at first).

Pitching when you first start out can be brutal but to be honest I was expecting that anyway. It’s a bit like cold calling with a lot more work involved. You often never hear back from people. Feedback was practically non-existent.

While I did get some work writing for websites (mostly through online friends and contacts), it took me a long time to realise that I didn’t enjoy pitching. More to the point I wasn’t enjoying  the whole freelance writing process. It took me a while to realise that becoming a freelance writer wasn’t what I wanted.

As you can imagine this all came as a bit of a shock.

I had worked so hard to make the freelance opportunity happen only to discover it wasn’t for me. I was confused. I felt lost.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do next. What I ended up doing in reality was a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

I had lost my direction.

There is no harm is your business changing direction.

The key is to do it quickly with a clear plan on how to move forward. Unfortunately I struggled letting go of the ‘old dream’ and I wasn’t 100% sure what my new one would be, so I sort of floundered hanging onto the pitching idea while still blogging and trying to work out what to do next.

Eventually I decided I wanted to create my own products but as mentioned I failed to actually launch any! I’ll cover the failure to launch topic in a separate post.

The takeaway from this mistake.

  • It’s okay to change direction but you need to make a decision on what your new direction will be.  You then need a revised business plan and clear goals on what you want to achieve.
  • If you do decide to change direction, do it quickly. Focus all your energy on your new direction, let the old one go.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.

Can you relate? Have you ever had to change direction and felt completely lost whether in business or in life?

I would love to hear your comments.

Coming tomorrow Sexy Word of the Week…

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Why My First Attempt at Business Failed No ProductThis series of posts has been a long time coming. It was not an easy series to write.

Openly acknowledging your failures is a daunting prospect.

After my business failed and I went back to full time admin work, I felt a great sense of failure and disappointment.

Time has given me the opportunity to reflect back on my mistakes.

Some of the points I cover off in this series will seem very obvious – like ‘why didn’t I realize that before’ obvious. Unfortunately sometimes when we are smack bang in the middle of something we often don’t see the big picture.

Some of the issues I’m going to talk about are interconnected, so expect some overlap within this series of posts.

My reason for writing this series is to help people avoid my mistakes. Let’s start with the first one.

No Product

Imagine you opened a bricks and mortar store (spending time and money making it look good), then in one corner you placed a small pile of cheap books. Near that pile is an even larger stand of free giveaways. Somewhere near the back of the store you place a small, hard to read sign listing your writing services.

Then you wait for the crowds to arrive, except you didn’t take into consideration the fact that the shop is in a quiet alleyway somewhere with not a lot of walk through traffic.

Does that sound like a great business venture?

Without realizing it, that is exactly what I did with my business, though my shop was my blog.

In essence I did have a product – me or more to the point my writing ability.

What I didn’t do was advertise my writing services on the blog.  I didn’t have a hire me or work with me section on my website. I didn’t actively promote myself or my services. I promoted myself on a small scale but certainly not to the level I should have.

When I originally left work my plan was to become a full time freelance writer and blogger. My first plan of attack was to start pitching to magazines and websites.

Instead I was spending over half my time blogging when pitching should have been the priority. At some point I decided that pitching wasn’t for me. I began to question whether I wanted to be a freelance writer

After some consideration, I decided that I wanted to sell my own products online. Excellent!

Except that is where I dropped the ball. I drafted several different ebook projects but never launched anything.

I was a failure to launch girl.

So what were the cheap products I mentioned earlier?

I had affiliate products on my blog. Affiliates in case you don’t know are where you sell other people’s products and get a small commission. This business model can be successful but you need a lot of people buying, which means a decent amount of visitors which unfortunately I didn’t have. To make serious money with affiliates it needs to be your key focus, not something you spend time on now and then.

On top of that I was writing for free. This one’s a whole separate post!

The fact is I worked really hard. Whilst my hours were more flexible working from home, I did work a lot longer hours than I have ever done working for someone else. I worked weekends without a break.

This is the really tough part to swallow. Working hard doesn’t guarantee success. Neither does having passion. I know this is going to push a few buttons but passion alone isn’t going to make you successful. You need to funnel that passion into the right projects that will make enough money to support your business.

Here are the takeaways from this mistake.

  • If your plan is to become a freelance writer – pitch, pitch and pitch some more. Don’t spend all of your time blogging. Blog occasionally and spend the rest of your time writing, promoting yourself and actively looking for writing work.
  • Have a hire me page on your blog. Make it easy for people to work with you.
  • If you want to run your own online store you need to be creating, launching and promoting products on a regular basis.

Coming tomorrow Part 2  – Why My First Attempt at Business Failed – Lack of Direction.

If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends via the social media buttons below. If you can relate to anything in this post, I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

I will spread this series over the next two weeks so if you aren’t interested in starting your own business or business in general, you will still have plenty of other WCG posts to enjoy!

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Should you Take Someone Back Who has Hurt YouToday’s post is about relationships. The good, the bad and the ugly.

More to the point –  when good turns to bad should you take someone back after things have gotten ugly?

Should you take someone back who has hurt you?

We all know couples that have broken up and gotten back together. Some many times over.

Many of us have experienced this break up dance ourselves – my hand is way up in the air on this one! Been there done that, got the tee-shirt as they say.

We probably all know at least one couple that have beaten the odds and naturally we want that for ourselves as well. We all like to think we are the exceptions!

If you are thinking about getting back with your ex, it’s time to ask yourself some serious questions.

Why did you break up in the first place? 

It’s the reason we break up that makes all the difference.

Perhaps you had a minor disagreement, perhaps it was a timing issue. Maybe they weren’t over their ex. Perhaps you broke up over an infidelity or addiction.

I’ve taken back a cheater only to have him cheat on me again. He was a serial cheater so it was a stupid move on my part. I was young, insecure and what I thought was ‘madly in love’. The interesting thing is I can barely remember the guy now!

Each couple has their own story. Whatever your reason for breaking up it needs to be something you can both work on and move past which leads to my next point.

Can the damage be repaired?

Are you both prepared to put in the work and time to rebuild your relationship?

Depending on the reason you broke up this could be a considerable amount of work. You have to both be 100% committed to repairing the damage.

Why do you want to get back together?

This last question is where we often deceive ourselves. We often take people back for all the wrong reasons and guise it under the ‘ I love him/her’ banner.

Here are some of the reasons we take people back and it goes without saying these should be avoided.

  • You are lonely. You convince yourself that being with ‘insert name here’ is better than being alone. Actually it’s not because you are in for more heartache when you break up again and/or an intensified level of loneliness that comes from having someone sitting next to you yet feeling heartbreakingly alone.
  • You don’t want to start over. I’m not saying this isn’t daunting. As someone who is currently taking a step back from the dating world, it’s scary and intimating to think about starting over. Fear however is not a good reason to take someone back who has already hurt you.
  • You have low-self esteem and don’t believe in our own worth. It’s never a good reason to be with someone because you think no one else will want you. Forget about getting back with your ex (forget about being in a relationship at all for that matter) and focus on yourself and building your self-esteem. Learn to love yourself. (You might be thinking that sounds cheesy but seriously it is so important).
  • You feel like you are running out of time. This doesn’t just apply to women wanting to start a family. I’ve seen men make this mistake too. You have a goal in mind and a deadline and the ex just happens to be around at the time. It’s a crappy version of musical chairs. Hardly sounds like the basis for a lasting relationship does it?

I have taken back 3 partners over the years. Considering my current single status, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the ‘breaking up/getting back together’ dance hasn’t work well for me. Ultimately all of those relationships ended.

Deciding whether to let someone back in your life doesn’t just apply to romantic partners. In an earlier post I mentioned that a good friend ended our relationship. The truth of the matter was he ended our friendship back in January 2009 as well.  I decided after careful consideration to take him back into my life. Jump forward five years and he hurt me again. Whether I want to admit it, some of that is on me, because I gave him the opportunity. I was the one who let him back in my life.

As much as it hurts sometimes we just have to cut our losses and let people go.

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I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Have you taken back an ex? Did your relationship work out?

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22

French Alps

Have you been thinking about taking your dream holiday?

The quickest thing to kill your holiday dreams is a lack of funds.

Here are my tips to help save for that dream holiday.

Decide where you want to go

If you are like me your probably have a few dream holiday scenarios in mind. Now is the time to pick one to put into motion.

Destination costs vary widely. A trip to Bali for two weeks will be cheaper than two weeks in New York for example. Your destination will influence how much money you will need and more to the point how much money you need to save.

Other factors such as whether you want to travel in luxury or prefer a more down to earth experience will all come into play.

Work out how much time you have

As we all know time and money often go hand in hand and travelling is no exception.

Work out how much time you have and then you can plan your destination and savings accordingly. [click to continue…]

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Sexy Word of the Week

If your first thought reading that headline was what’s sexy about boundaries? – you need to rethink your take on the subject.

Let’s take a closer look.

If you have family dropping in at all hours unannounced, your ex calling drunk at 2 am or a friend constantly bailing on plans – you most likely are having boundaries crossed.

People often see boundaries as boring rules. Having boundaries is not about living by a strict set of rules.

It’s about being clear to people how you expect to be treated and how you will treat them with respect in return.

Have you ever watched “Everyone Loves Raymond”. It was a very popular show back in its time and is in constant reruns. I assume people find it funny. Mostly it just makes me cringe.

The show is one large crossing of boundaries (not to mention a collection of neuroses but we’ll leave that alone for now).

The entire family has no boundaries. The drop in whenever they want, they butt into each other’s lives. They are completely disrespectful to each other. Naturally, it’s all done under the banner of ‘family love’ but personally I think that’s a crock.

While it might work in a sitcom where everything is magnified for a laugh, the reality would be frustrating and annoying.

Boundaries can be different for each individual. Family visiting unannounced might be acceptable for some people and not for others.

So how do you make sure that people respect your personal boundaries? [click to continue…]

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2014-10-03 10.27.27I couldn’t resist one more post on my recent New York trip.

So here goes – 10 Things Not to Do in New York. Enjoy!

Spend too much time only in your neighborhood

We pick the hotel and the neighborhood we want to stay in. Excellent! Often it can be tempting to spend too much time only in that neighborhood.  While it can be a great way of familiarizing yourself with one area, there is still so much to see.

Jump in a cab (they are incredibly well priced at least compared to back home in Australia), buy a Metro ticket and ride the Subway and get out there and explore.

A lot of the neighborhoods in New York have their own unique feel. Check it out for yourself.

Only spend time in Manhattan

I have to admit I have been guilty of this in the past. It’s easy to stay in Manhattan and not venture out to any of the other boroughs. Remember New York is not just Manhattan – there is Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island to check out as well.

Start small (if that’s what you are comfortable with) and work up to being more adventurous and curious.

I had two friends on separate trips rave about staying in and visiting Harlem so that’s definitely on my list for next time! [click to continue…]

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How to Talk to Strangers

In an earlier post, I shared my top 10 tips on how to travel to New York City by yourself.

One of those tips was talk to strangers. In this post I would like to elaborate on some of my earlier ideas.

Be brave

Above everything else this can sometimes be the most important.

You need to be brave.

We need to put ourselves out there and make an effort with people. We need to not worry about being rejected (or what we perceive as rejection). It’s not rejection people may simply be focused on doing their own thing.

Speak up

It’s amazing what can happen if you simply speak up.

After the first day of my blogging course in New York I was looking forward to socializing with some of the group. Unfortunately the course itself doesn’t have a social component once the day is over.

Walking to the train station with two of the girls from the group I decided to ask if anyone wanted to go for a drink. Thankfully one of the girls said yes. We ended up having a great night. We had drinks, talked about our lives and had a delicious meal (best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted).

Assess the situation

When I was in New York I went for a pre-dinner drink before a Broadway show.

At a bar just off Times Square, I noticed a blonde lady next to me. It was a Friday afternoon and she had clearly finished a long week of work. She looked a little stressed. At first I wasn’t sure if I should talk to her but I decided to take the plunge and ask her about the wine she was drinking.

We ended up having a great conversation. So much so that I nearly missed the start of my show. I had to do a last-minute what I call ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ run through Times Square, thankfully in platforms and not stilettos to make the curtain call on time.

At the end of our drinks, the asked to hug me goodbye which I thought was sweet. I think I brightened her day and I know she made my day so much better. [click to continue…]

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