Feeling lost

So they have cut my shifts at my disability job where I work as a carer. I feel a bit lost, kind of like graduating from a university degree and wondering where next?

rainbow-984354_960_720But in a way I’m not too fussed, I feel like I’ve learnt what I need from the job. And to tell you the truth I feel rather worn out.

I know I should worry about money. It’s not going to come from the trees, but its nice not to stress about office politics. Its funny working with the clients does not stress me out. But working with my co-workers does. There is a bit of in-house bullying going on and being in that environment makes me very unhappy. There was a stage where I was being bullied and I went home crying.

Sometimes I feel happy working there but often I’m dragging my feet. If I look inside myself, I don’t think I’m living my potential. I’ve achieved a lot in that role but my heart is just not into it.

It was nice having a safety net. But I think before I even look at getting another job. It is time to really work on what makes me happy.

With all the roles I’ve been in, and there has been many! What I really thrive in is communication. I’ve been in the tourism industry for over 10 years and there have been some highs and lows but I absolutely love working with a variety of people. I really enjoy learning about different cultures and by interacting with such a massive crowd; I get a little perspective into different worlds.

But I think in all honesty it is Celebrate Living History that makes me the happiest. Its not a paid role but its one I have created, I really love working with the students. I enjoy helping them create wonderful stories on seniors, but most of all thrive seeing them build a relationship with someone that they otherwise would not get to know.

I am very proud of the direction Celebrate Living History has taken. In the past I’ve been told CLH is not viable. But truthfully I don’t care, it is a way that I can use my passion and make it into something truly wonderful.

I’ve worked on business models and tried to make CLH into a business but my heart has to be in it. My heart has to be excited and it just wasn’t. No matter how many mentors I have. I have to be the one to execute a viable future.

So many models from charging for stories to advertising, just looking at my notes give me a headache.

I’ve also gone down the grants route, I’m always so close but CLH is never the one they decide to fund.

But despite the challenges I’ve faced, I’m still in love with CLH and I always will be. You know its my five year anniversary with CLH this year, I’m scared that time flies too fast.

There is a sense of urgency to make it! To become someone of substance, to be that person that represents something. To be that person that excites people to care.

I’m at the point where I need to stop; just listen to myself, to discover what really makes me tick.

I feel like I’ve lost my mojo, the thing that gets me excited.

So I’m taking this time to have a break, a time out just to escape for a bit. Once I come back, I hope my mind will become clear.

I’m going to have a mini-adventure to evoke my mind, a bit of change to spark my passion and direction.

Don’t worry I’m not giving up; I just need a little perspective from life.

 

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When life takes you on a different path.

 

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Vivienne Weston with Bev 

A few months ago, I thought I was on the right path. I was so excited to have discovered the Winston Churchill fellowship. So I worked hard at creating an application with the purpose of connecting with folks who work with seniors and young people from around the United States, Europe and Japan. It took me months to prepare. I got so much help from academics, students and my friends to create an application that was made to pop. To stand out from the rest.

When I did not get asked to do an interview, I was really disappointed. I felt really let down. I felt if only they could see me, then they could see I was really passionate about connecting young people with seniors.

But then I realised that I can do this on my own. I can do anything I set my mind to. I have the power to say yes to myself.

I took it as a good sign that I had four jobs and months to save. Even though it drove me nuts, trying to make all employers happy is not an easy thing! It was crazy trying to juggle everything. The job I had during the week, now wanted me to work on weekends which clashed with my other jobs!

I was going totally and utterly bonkers! But the money was coming! That was the plan.

Suddenly 12 weeks into working so hard, I hit a snag. One of my jobs stopped giving me so many hours. They had taken on new employees that needed to gain on the job experience which meant that everyone got less work.

I was like I could either be really unhappy about losing work. Or I could cherish the time I have to do what I need to do. I had money saved up and just received money back from tax, so I was not worried about daily living expenses.

So now I’m at the fork in the road. I want to do work that all my knowledge and experience  gained from working with seniors and young people can be cherished. In my current jobs, I really do not feel like i’m doing the best I can be.

Ideas really do jump out at me! Everywhere I walked with my dog Ava,  I saw young faces on Real Estate signs. I thought hang on maybe I can develop communication methods of value to young real estate agents working with seniors who want to down size their homes.

So I thought instead of diving in, i’ll ask one of my previous sponsors Vivienne Weston from Ray White Real Estate in Frankston. Its funny we always communicate through email but have never met. It  was great to gain insight into the real estate world to see if my idea would gain any traction.

I discovered that every time Ray White have a elderly client they get one of their experienced real estate agents to assist, which puts the senior at ease. Most of the real estate agents are between 18-35 years old. They often start as a cadet and then move on from there.

Vivienne said while my idea would not help her, that I could be of benefit to those starting out in the real estate industry. Most of the folks they hire are from Chisholm TAFE.

So now my next step is to see if I can chat to someone running an agents representative and Certificate IV in property services. To see if I can provide a module of value. I have a Certificate in training and assessment and I am quite keen to teach what I have learnt over the five years of running Celebrate Living History.

I just hope this will lead to a path that I am happy with. That I will have an opportunity to really excel in a job that values my knowledge and expertise.

I am not looking backwards, Only forwards thats where the good stuff happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

 

Sometimes the best thing you can do, is take time out for yourself. Forget about the everyday world and just explore.

So I ended up going to Mornington which is one of my favourite places in Victoria. I often take where I live for granted and forget that I am a stones throw away from one of the best locations in the world.

Instead of walking the main strip of Mornington I  detoured and discovered pathways that I have never seen before.

I walked past a church and heard people laughing. I thought maybe it was a wedding but I looked closer and it was a funeral. I always assumed a funeral would be a somber event, that it would be full of people crying or quietly talking to each other. Never did I imagine that people would laugh during such a serious time. But then again, a funeral is a celebration of a person’s life. It is a time to cherish the way the person has spent their time on earth. I know I would not want people to cry during my funeral. I would want them to laugh and wear bright colours. That is who I am. I love to see colour where there is no light. I make the best of the situation I am in. I am forever optimistic about the future.

This got me thinking about our life cycle. We are all born into the world in the same way. It is what we decide to do with our life which makes us unique and in a way defines who we are. I wondered how success would be defined around the world, surely it would not just be about the money. It would be about the small things that make us happy. At the end of the day money is just a piece of paper.

I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

We only have one life so lets make it one to remember.

 

 

 

Goal Setting for 2016

So I was asked on the stroke of midnight, what are my New Years resolutions?

Usually I don’t have any, sometimes I aim too high and never achieve my goals. Then I feel like crap because while my intentions were good, I did not break my resolution into easy to achieve chunks. The best way is to make a plan and create a timeline of how and when to achieve your goals.

So this time around instead of thinking TOO BIG! I’m going to think in small increments.

Its going to be a bit scary to write my goals in this blog post. But if I write them in my little note book. In a few weeks all my good plans will be hidden under even more notebooks! I have a scary addiction to stationary, especially those with cute dogs! Oh I just love their little faces!

  1. To do a TED X talk 

One of my goals is to spread the word about the importance of connecting generations through storytelling. If there is anything that I have learnt from working with both seniors and young people it is the value of communication. Doing an interview is not just about getting a story. It is about the value of talking and making each other feel valued and most of important. I remember the interview that sparked everything, it was with Dorothy who chatted about her family enjoying the simple joys of having a holiday in what was once the small town of Frankston. It was then I thought it would be sad if this story never got to be shared, which lead to the development of the Celebrate Living History internship program.

Mini Plan

January 2016 

Join a speakers group like Rostrum to be become confident speaking to a group minus using powerpoint as a memory crutch.

June 2016 

Prepare a talk for TED X and practice until every word is perfect.

July 2016 

Create an audition tape to be submitted to TED X.

2. To create workshop content that will appeal to a broader population 

Ok maybe this is a broad goal, its better to have a target market in mind while developing lesson plans!

So far I have conducted workshops on how to document your own family story for future generations. This involved topics which included feature writing, interview skills and positive ageing. I have also worked with the special needs group at the Mt Eliza Community House. I had to cater the session for disabilities so I focussed more on fun activities. Such as creating a story board of the group members which showed a photo next to their mini life story.

I attended a workshop at the Writers Centre to improve this workshop and I have a whole swag of notes on how to make the session more appealing. So far these notes are hidden under a swag of other notebooks! My plan is to dig up these notes and make a lesson plan to pitch to community centres and eventually adult learning centres such as CAE and the Writers Centre.

Mini Plan 

January 2016 

Find the notes and create a 8 week course. Two days a week for three hours (Yep I’m being specific here) (Its easier to work with then adjust according to audience)

Feb 2016 

Ask for feedback from friends and family

Research what community group would be a good fit for the course. What are the most popular courses? How can I make my course appeal to their target group?

March 2016 

Pitch idea to local community centre such as the Frankston North Community Centre and Karingal House.

3. To get out of my comfort zone 

I think one of the reasons why I feel like i’m stuck is that I’m surrounded by the same people all the time. So this year I’m not going to be lazy, I’m going to get out there and mingle. I need to be inspired by people who are doing amazing things (or at least trying)

Mini Plan 

January-Feb 2016 

Join a group in Melbourne which will surround me with amazing people. Not just business people but with those who make stuff happen. No more boring business card networking events! I find with corporate events its more about what you can do for others. Not who you are as a person. The first question I get asked is “What do you do?” Not “How are you?” I want to be about relationship building. Making friendships that can mean much more than just a business card.

4. To wake up early 

The early bird gets the worm as they say! I want to fit more in my day rather than work then struggle to do organisation stuff.

I also need to spend more time in the great outdoors, doing that thing called exercise. I need to walk more and enjoy the benefits of yoga which I love.

5. To every month go somewhere different

I want to explore more! So if that means jumping on a train and going somewhere in Victoria I’ve never been then so be it!

Going somewhere new sparks the creative parts of my brain. So my aim is to nourish my brain with something fun every month.

My usual escape is the Dandenongs. I like to walk the 1000 steps, I find it rewarding to get to the very top. The fresh air also does wonders!

 

 

 

 

Change

Over the past few weeks I have been delving into books and in a sense studying what direction I need to take in order to be successful.

I’ve always found solace in knowledge and believe that those that have walked the path before us, have so much insight to share. Wisdom can be a powerful thing and the exact incentive to get me out of the rut I feel I am in.

Even though I know I have achieved so much, all the puzzle pieces I have collected, don’t seem to connect. I have created a small community and I am so proud that by creating Celebrate Living History. I have managed to connect young people and seniors over stories. Nothing makes me happier than mentoring students to interview, write and video stories. I just love that I am the person making it happen.

However now I feel somewhat drained and disconnected. I know I need to do more to feel fulfilled. I want to feel that excitement and joy once again.

Without fear and without questioning about where funding will come from. I know one day I will be paid for the skills I have gained but I am unsure how to embark on that path.

I’ve followed my gut most of the time. I’ve done courses I have never imagined I would  do.

I felt like I needed to feel and experience what it was like to live and breath in a nursing home. So I completed a Certificate III in Aged Care, this was the most difficult but rewarding course I have ever done.

Looking back doing placement at the high care facility was really hard. The work was not only physically demanding but it was also mentally draining. But I kept going, I truly believed that I needed the experience and in true style with what I start I have to finish.

Then I had a ache to teach all this knowledge and experience I have gained working with both young people and seniors. So I approached We Teach Me with an idea about a storytelling workshop. They said Yes and I ran my first class with only one student! Even though the class was not worth running money wise, it was great to see how the course content was received. She ended up having a one on one lesson with me. Which was pleasant as I saw that she wanted to learn about writing and how to work with different generations. In that moment I knew that teaching was something I needed to do. I don’t find it hard as all the knowledge I have gained over the past few years easily flows through me.

After that workshop I was interviewed by Laneway Learning to run a class with them. Even though by their standards having eight students was low! But I was so happy that people were interested in what I do enough, that they would rock up and learn about what I do. The class went really well, I was nervous but I did not look it. You know when you find something that your meant to do, when you feel butterflies and can’t sleep the night beforehand? I felt that way running that class, it was something that excited me and made me feel what I have achieved has been worthwhile.

I truly feel that my new path is in the education sector, this is a industry I feel that I know so well. Most of the work with Celebrate Living History involves partnering with Swinburne University, Griffith University and Frankston High School in order to gain these amazing stories on seniors. I already have my foot in the door. Its just a matter of putting all the pieces together and making everything flow together thats the hard part. But I have a feeling i’m nearing the end of the rainbow.

I’ve been very inspired by Scott Dismore who found the courage to pursue his passion and live what he loved to do. He shows that if you really put your mind  to something, then you can make magic happen.

 

The Line between life and death

Its funny we don’t talk about death, but it is a big part of life.

The end of a long weekend. I don't think what happened will really sink in until Tuesday I'll have a day to really reflect. I was having rather deep conversations about that moment when you struggle for breath then you stop. Its kind of peaceful all that pain is just gone. You sense what is happening but you don't care. Your just at peace. Then suddenly you start to breath. Its like being reset. Scary but beautiful at the same time. You never know what you have till its gone
The end of a long weekend. I don’t think what happened will really sink in until Tuesday I’ll have a day to really reflect. I was having rather deep conversations about that moment when you struggle for breath then you stop. Its kind of peaceful all that pain is just gone. You sense what is happening but you don’t care. Your just at peace. Then suddenly you start to breath. Its like being reset. Scary but beautiful at the same time. You never know what you have till its gone

We are all human and it is inevitable that we will die one day. Technically from birth we are dying every day a bit of time slips away. But it is up to us to make the most of the bits in between.

I know I’m sounding rather morbid, but on Friday I came pretty close to crossing that line between life and death.

It all started with one meal, at the time I did not realise there was nuts in the dish. Usually I know if there is anything wrong but this time I had a delayed reaction.

I’m surprised I made it from the venue to the train station, it was a good 20-minute walk away and I thank my lucky stars that I made it to a manned station.

To any casual observer I looked like a really drunk person, I was holding my tummy and vomiting. I looked really sick but I would survive another day.

What they didn’t know was that I was having a combination of asthma and a severe allergic reaction; this meant that I was having trouble breathing and my airways were rapidly closing up.

Somehow I made it through the station barriers where I started vomiting in the corner, the protective services officers approached me and asked if I was ok.

I choked out “No asthma and allergic reaction to nuts and basil.” They kept on asking more questions about where I lived and how old I was, but when you’re struggling for breath it can be really hard to answer.

Suddenly I felt my airways closing and I blacked out. I could sense what was happening but I felt calm. All the pain I had been feeling a few moments ago was gone, it was the most bizarre feeling like I was there but I was not there. Then I woke up and started breathing again. I felt the air mask on my face and I was on the way to hospital.

I felt so cold, I was shivering but the kindness from the people in the ambulance was very warm. In any other normal situation I would have been embarrassed, I had vomit all over myself and as I was unable to go to the toilet I had pooped in my pants.

But I did not care once you stop breathing all the little things seem trivial. I felt a sense of vulnerability; it was weird like I was in the mind of the clients I had worked with as a personal care assistant. I’ve helped shower and assist clients in the toilet, but never with the thought of how they must feel to have the need for someone to do that for them.

In a way it was like being transported back to childhood where I was being taken care of by my mother. It was not embarrassing it was just the way it was, you can’t do everything yourself, you need help.

Being in the emergency ward at the hospital, I could hear patients coming in and out. But I did not care that noise meant that I was alive. The nurses do such a great job, they have to deal with so much but they take it in their stride. I suppose after you work in the health care industry for a long period of time, you get used to a little bit of chaos.

It does not look like much, but an Epi Pen can save your life. I spent last night at the Footscray Hospital after being found not breathing and vomiting at the station. I'm just glad I had some great PSOs look after me and call the ambulance. Happy to be alive and now I have such a great respect for the work nurses do. My lesson always be extra anal about asking what's in food, if I don't it could be a deadly mistake.
It does not look like much, but an Epi Pen can save your life. I spent last night at the Footscray Hospital after being found not breathing and vomiting at the station. I’m just glad I had some great PSOs look after me and call the ambulance. Happy to be alive and now I have such a great respect for the work nurses do. My lesson always be extra anal about asking what’s in food, if I don’t it could be a deadly mistake.

If I have learnt anything from this experience it is to appreciate everything in life. Especially the people who help preserve life, it may seem like a trivial thing but it really is the small things that make such a difference.

An EpiPen does not look like much but it can save a life. Now I carry an EpiPen everywhere I go, I also try and avoid eating foods I’m allergic to but sometimes it’s easy to eat something wrong by mistake.

Now if I see someone vomiting, I won’t just assume that they are drunk. I will take the time to find out what is really wrong. It can be all the difference between life and death.

The stuff behind the dream

So my mum thinks all I do is work on porn when I’m doing Celebrate Living History stuff.

I laugh and shrug it off, I know she is joking but inside it really does hurt.

Sometimes my parents don’t understand why I do what I do and truthfully at times I feel like giving up.

If all I cared about were money then I would have given up on my dream a long time ago.

I took time out to sort out my life and discover what really drives me, what really makes me passionate.

All I wanted to be was a carnie QUEEN! Hanging out with the Luna Park crew
All I wanted to be was a carnie QUEEN! Hanging out with the Luna Park crew

In amongst all the dust, I discovered journals that I wrote when I was 21 back then I felt like I had the world at my feet. I did not know what I wanted to do; all I wanted to be was a super carnie.

Even then I had dreams that no one else thought of, I wanted to do the impossible and the often crazy.

On my quest I travelled overseas to work at a theme park called Drayton Manor, I made mates with the CEO and sent him letters about my travel experiences as a camp counselor at Camp Cinqueka in the months before heading to England.

Its funny I never knew him but somehow I managed to become good friends and an employee during the winter season!

While I was travelling overseas I ran out of money but that did not deter me, I ended up working in a factory called Express Gifts where I packed many dog mats for Christmas. It was the most boring job in the world but my goal was to save enough to go to Paris. I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory!

In those weeks I made many friends at the factory, the one thing that was consistent in my good-bye notes was that my laugh stood out. I could make the most boring thing in the world fun. If I am focused then I will often succeed in the impossible.

I made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
I made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower!

I did end up going to Paris and it was the most rewarding experience in the world, it was so bizarre from always being surrounded by English speakers to be surrounded by French speakers. It was totally different to the world I knew but it was exciting to be in the place where romance was born.

Looking at my past, it seems like I always stuck to what I was passionate about. Even if it seemed crazy then I most often will succeed because in my mind I knew that nothing is impossible.

One of my students mentioned a marketing workshop that I should attend, it sounded amazing but at $3000 there was no way I could afford to go. But then I realized that I am the best at using my own resources, I never let money get in the way of my goals. I always think outside the box and do my very best out of a tight situation. Sure I don’t have the cash but I have access to You-Tube, volunteer opportunities, books and real-life people who can help me.

Hanging with my  Celebrate Living History crew Emma and Melissa at the Walkley Workshop General Assembly Melbourne
Hanging with my Celebrate Living History crew Emma and Melissa at the Walkley Workshop General Assembly Melbourne

If I really want to do something then I think outside the box. One of the organisations that I admire Milaana which focused on hooking community groups with students decided to stop their great work because of lack of resources. On the outside it looked like they were doing really well, but I suppose looks can be deceiving. Milaana looked like they were doing such a great job in the community and even had the support of Google to continue what they were doing. Its sad when great organisations don’t get support or struggle to survive, even though I know if I were to step down from Celebrate Living History all the hard work, over the past three years will slowly break down and then disappear.

If that were to happen, my heart would break many times. Being the founder of Celebrate Living History is like giving birth, I popped my baby out in 2012 and she has slowly grown to where she is now. It sounds corny but if I were to give up now then it feels like I will never give Celebrate Living History the opportunity to grow into the human she was meant to be.

I truly believe that Celebrate Living History will grow to be 100 and keep connecting generations for as long as she can. I won’t give up; I will just keep looking at opportunities to partner with those who can help.

Believe in your dream because if you don’t then no one else will.

Don’t call me I’ll call you

The need for a job that can keep me afloat while working on my dream is what made me work for a call centre.

Online-channel-powered-by-call-centresWhile I have three other jobs, sometimes there are times where there isn’t much work coming in and that’s when I’m somewhat miserable because struggle street is not pretty.

Everyone has to live and I really should not feel guilty that sometimes I want the best things in life, its only human.

So I rocked up to the call centre and immediately wanted to run away. The room looked dark and was rocked by all these voices saying exactly the same thing.

I was ushered into a small room and immediately into a conference with the New Zealand office, as a temp worker I’m used to being thrust into jobs without much training. I’ve done this before there was no need for formal instructions.

The other lady that started with me lasted a grand total of one hour and was fired on the spot for not being able to do the survey in the correct way. I was sitting next to her and while I felt sorry for her it was nice to have a cubical to myself!

Yes I am greedy and love space! It was hard doing a survey when the person next to you is speaking really loudly and I have to speak even louder. It makes for a nice headache at the end of the shift. You know those ones that feel like your head is about to pop open? That is often what I feel like when I either speak too loud or I am in a room full of voices all day!

Soon it came to my break and I was so happy. One of the big bosses quizzed me on the survey and asked if I had any suggestions on how it could be improved. I like the perfect employee said it was fine, just the introduction was too long, while in my head was like “C’mon dude I need to pee, let me out of here!” It’s quite amazing what goes behind the scenes to create a survey. There is so much research between the organisations that hire the market research company to make the survey capture all the data that is required to make a difference, he said it took months to create the survey that I was doing that day.

While I gained a respect for market research, I was really quite eager to have a break, even though it was my first day I was pressured to get more complete surveys done. Two surveys an hour does not sound much, but for me it was really difficult as we were working with business folks who were often too busy. So I spent most of my time rescheduling for appropriate times to take the survey.

In the lunch room I was chatting to a lady that had been working with the market research company for 10 years. I was so amazed that despite the nature of the job she kept coming back every day. This was a way for her to pay off the mortgage and live the life that she wanted. Talking to her reminded me of a story my old lecturer said while I was at university. He told the class the story of a soft drink manufacturer that hired employees to put caps on the bottles. Every day these employees would do the same thing but one day he had to fire everyone despite their 30 years service, they were looking for cheaper more efficient ways to do things. All the employees did not know what to do, this was their life, and I can’t imagine their deep sorrow at not only losing employment but also deciding what now to do with their life.

While she seemed pleasant to chat to, in a way she was rather grumpy. I understand that we all have bills to pay but surely there must be a way to do stuff that you makes you happy all the time.

Maybe I am in dreamland, but I can’t imagine life where I am not living every moment doing what I am happy. We only have one life and for me I don’t want to be at age 60 and look back and think I wish I took a chance, I wish I was doing something that makes me smile every day.

All I need to be happy is a balance, a way to make Celebrate Living History sustainable to not only provide a paid income for myself but for graduates that are smart and excited about the future. That’s my dream to make the impossible possible and I am sure I can, I’ve just got to connect the puzzle pieces.