Friday, 9 November 2012

Juggle Junction

Networking has always been an element of my job I rather despise. Trying to get to know people, what they do, where they do it, and then deciding in a brief moment whether or not they could be a good connection. It's so forced and fake. Besides, there are only so many times you can start a conversation with, "Come here often?" before you're mistaken for someone looking for a good time...

Needless to say, I've never been keen on networking. There seems to be an element of pressure to perform, and showcase just how fabulous you are to acquire new business, or heaven forbid, create a new friendship which is entirely self-motivated. Yuck!

The reason for my nostagalic vomit, is a friend of mine recently followed her heart's passion and launched her very own networking website for professional Australian women. But unlike good old fashion face-to-face chin wagging, a website is the perfect platform to meet, connect and talk to women while you're safe and sound at home, in your pyjamas with your deep cleansing mask on while sitting propped up on your cushy European pillows in bed (and yes, that is exactly what I'm doing now).

Juggle Junction is a new online community where women of any age, background, employment status and 'life journey' are encouraged Be it as part of one of the many specialised groups (think Women in Business / Teachers / At Home Mums etc...) or just as a one-off question for other women in that group to answer.

It also offers great reads (ah hem...I might submit a few stories here and there), the chance to start your own private forums, ask for a little mentoring, reply to other users asking questions and generally access the brilliant minds (mine not so much brilliant as it is dazed and confused that randomly blurts out crap) in a private, non-judgemental and comfortable manner.

I'll be honest. When Nicole first told me about Juggle Junction and invited me to contribute regular columns, I was a little sceptical of its value. Does Australia really need another website for women to talk? Um... what other websites are there Sian? NONE!

Of course there are websites for Mums to seek advice and support, but I'm more than a Mother. Yes, there are websites for career networking, but I'm more than what I do for my fortnightly pay cheque. Hence the beauty of Juggle Junction. It skillfully mixes all these aspects of my life to be a one-stop-shop for me - a woman who happens to work, be a Mum, loves reading, cooking, shopping and having a laugh with good friends and could sometimes use a helping hand. I'm yet to find any other website that offers all of that in one place.

Needless to say the more I jump on, follow conversations, read all those well written, witty articles (nudge nudge wink wink say no more), ask questions and provide my own advice as part of a larger discussion, I do feel part of a valued community. Yes, I can interact as much or as little as I want to, but just like anything else, I feel like I gain more from it once I actively put more of myself in to it.
Juggle Junction is a rapidly growing website for women to connect, support and inspire other women. What can be so bad about that? Besides, until 31 December 2012 a 12 month membership to Juggle Junction is free. Ka-Ching!

Please take a look for yourself and let me know what you think. Visit Juggle Junction.

Image via here

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

5 things I'm loving about Brisbane right now...

I have to admit as a Mother to a very vivacious and energetic toddler (um, btw he's almost 2!!!) and returning to (paid) work after maternity leave, the thought of packing a suitcase for a relaxing holiday at some exotic location is more than a little frightening. Anyone remember National Lampoon's Vacation? Eek, the horror!

Despite this, I'm in desperate need of a vacation/timeout/respite {insert appropriate escape word here} without my beautiful little boy. Yes, I love him but Mumma needs a break every now and then. FYI by 'exotic' I mean anywhere other than Townsville and by 'holiday', I mean just one night when I don't have to put E to bed at 7pm then go out.

Anywho, as a result of my hesitation to venture off on a family getaway, I've taken it upon myself to rediscover my city and holiday at home. I've decided I will just force myself in to a state of relaxation and tranquil calm in good old Brisvegas. If people come here to holiday from arond the world, why can't I? I might even contemplate wearing ironed clothes and applying make-up to leave the house. Jeepers!! 

Here are 5 things I'm loving about Brisbane right now:

1. Early morning coffee and savoury mince on toast at Pearl Cafe. No explaination required.

2. Cocktails and dumplings at Brunswick Social. A word to the wise, if you plan on eating, book a table or do as I did and arrive at 5pm without a booking. It wont matter that you haven't reserved a seat at a common table top in this hip new spot, you'll arrive so early no-one else in their right mind will be there (unless you go after work in which case you're screwed).

3. The sun is warmer. The days are longer and the drinks are in easy reach. Nothing beats watching movies under the stars at Limes Hotel thanks to its outdoor cinema and rooftop bar only a few feet away. Cosmopolitan anyone?

4. Packing a blanket, hat and the latest read for little R&R by the water in Manly followed by a stroll through the Jan Power Farmers Markets or splurging on a bucket of prawns and glass of bubbles at Wilson's Boathouse Seafood Restaurant.

5. Enjoying live music with friends on a Friday night at Brisbane Powerhouse. If you happen to pop in one week in November, you'll have the chance to catch fabulous folkies Women in Docs who take up residence at the Turbine Stage for the month. See the girls perform a range of their hits plus new songs from their upcoming album. P.S. It's FREE! 

What do you like to do when you can't go away on holiday? Any secrets for a little R&R at home?

Image: Limes Hotel

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Home Sweet Home

Me, E and Nanna at the Aquarium
What a difference a holiday makes! Teach, E and I returned to Brisbane on Sunday after two glorious weeks in Townsville, our home town.

While getting away is a fantastic opportunity to explore new locations, relax from the 9 to 5 and generally escape reality; going home to spend time with your parents and in-laws isn't normally what springs to mind when you start planning a family holiday, but this time 'round, we couldn't comprehend an alternative.

Our initial motivation to venture north was to attend my brother in-laws nupitals. Knowing school holidays would be in full swing and Teach had time off, we decided to stay on to allow E to develop stronger relationships with his extended family and enjoy the down time ourselves, of course.

As both of mine and Teach's parents still live in the "Ville" going back to our homeland was just what we, the grandparents, cousins, auntys, uncles, godparents and, most importantly, E needed.

From play dates at The Strand, to watching big Sharks swim overhead at the Aquarium, to spending afternoons under the hose in the back yard (a traditional way to spend a hot NQ afternoon), our holiday was just that; a getaway with no stress, no accommodation hiccups at 3am or horrific travelling experiences (remember Darwin?!) with a crying baby.  

We feasted on home cooked meals, caught up with friends, had a choice of babysitter if we wanted to go out (that in itself was worth the trip!) and E always had someone to take him to the park/pool/beach/shops if he was getting restless at home.

I've never been more relaxed in my life and I belive I can safely assume Teach feels the same way.

While venturing somewhere new for a family holiday is always an exiting option, sometimes the act of keeping it simple with a destination you know is truly the best case scenario for everyone.

Only problem is returning to reality to find your support network is gone but your child's expectation of park play dates remains the same... Eeek!

Friday, 7 September 2012

My Heart Belongs To Daddy

Growing up I was always a Daddy's girl. I didn't realise this until years later when I moved out of home and no longer had my Father protecting the front door. Not from boys, I might add, from myself!

"Don't upset your Mother," he said sternly when I arrived home after midnight at 17 years of age, the first time I ever borrowed the car. "You know what she's like. She's worried." 

At the time I thought it was very nice of him to warn me of what had been happening back at the fort, while I was burning around town in the family Mitsubishi Colt with my hot new licence, but the beauty of hindsight allows me to understand he was simply telling me what he wanted to say, only using Mum as the diversion.

He was upset too, but it was Mum I had to snuggle up to and promise that I'd never do it again. As Daddy's little girl, sometimes you'd just get away with it, within reason of course!

Fathers are very proud of their daughters. I can grasp the magnitude of this now as a parent myself.

The time we spent together driving to and from dancing competitions in other regional cities near Townsville would've killed other fainted heart Dads. Not mine. He'd spend hours sitting in uncomfortable plastic chairs waiting for me to perform, only to drive my Mother and I home again at the end of the day. Up to eight hours round trip.

Some weekends he'd be lucky and I'd have to dance on both Saturday and Sunday so he got to sleep in a manky hotel for the night and have somewhere else to go during the day, but more often than not he'd happily turn around on Saturday afternoon and drive the fours hours home, tired, with only a roadside-house coffee or a chicko roll to ease the pain.

This tradition lasted more than 15 years, and I remember it like it was yesterday. It was our special time.Of course I was crazy jealous of my brothers when they were chosen to go away with Dad on car trips and I wasn't, but looking back I realise we had our own adventures, in-jokes and favourite car songs they wouldn't have had.

As I grow older and my own family develops, I see Dad more clearly and appreciate his devotion to his family. Without this I honestly believe I would not be the person I am today. 

My father is an intelligent, loyal, devoted, loving, passionate family man who is fiercely protective, yet at the same time more than willing to let you go and live your own life.  He's instilled a sense of adventure in me that I don't believe I would've developed myself because he always said I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.

His advice and support throughout the years has given me the strength and confidence to take each new step in my life. Whether that step was backwards or forwards, I knew he was there, somewhere, a few steps behind watching and only offering advice if I asked for it. 

Our weekly (sometimes fortnightly) conversations on the phone are often short and sweet, never quite revealing anything new. I'm always "same old, same old," but what I really wish I could say is: Thank you Dad. Thank you for loving me and my brothers with every bone in your body and giving us the best life three kids could ever ask for - even if you did throw away my favourite (and perfectly good) toy clothes line when I was 2.

Here's to you, a very belated Father's Day messge; I love you Dad. High Beam!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Californian Darling.

It is no secret (see profile notes to the right) that I am a touch obsessed with the delightful, witty and charming Ms Witherspoon (obviously, I assume she is as I describe her because that's the fantasy in my head and no one can tell me otherwise!) therefore it should come as little surprise that I'm swooning over pictures of her amazing Ojai home in the current issue of Elle Decor.

From the high wooden ceilings, to the wrought iron chairs on the Terrace overlooking the lavish grounds, this house is truly stunning in its beautiful my humble opinion.

Cute. Charming. Classy. Just like its owner.

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