My husband left me

…6weeks ago to live in the Philippines, and it’s taken this long to write about it.

In fact, it’s been a long time since I wrote at all! Yes, I’ve been crazy busy with all the things that happen and need to be done before and after your partner relocates overseas (and leaves you behind with two kids, 6 animals and a big ole property to sort out!), but in truth I’ve also just been resisting it.

And I’m only just beginning to understand why.

I checked out a few months back…drastically reduced my social media interaction, stopped marketing myself, stopped networking, stopped creating, and just did the small jobs for existing clients that trickled in. Then it dawned on me that I was ‘taking a break from my business’. January is always an intentional break, but this year, the break simply continued… almost without noticing it. You’d have thought that after last year I’d be chomping at the bit to get back in a room with people and talk shop and create and do, but in fact, my reaction was just the opposite. It wasn’t until recently when I started getting concerned messages as to my whereabouts online did it dawn on me that people come to rely on you to show up in a certain way and to be a certain presence in their life. I don’t say this to big note myself, or suggest that people ‘need’ me in their life, but it’s curious how many gorgeous souls checked in on me to see if I was alive!

As a fiercely independent gal, who likes to rely on noone, it really made me sit up and think: “why on earth are people worried?”  And yet, as someone who teaches everyday storytelling and online presence it should have been bloody obvious! I help people build and lead communities through the power of words, and insist that they then have a duty to do the right thing by those communities to maintain trust, add value and strengthen relationships, BUT I didn’t do that for my own. I let my own community down. I just disappeared. Said nothing. Added nothing.

At the time I honestly didn’t think much about it. I did what I needed to simply get through the days and weeks, with huge To-Do lists and deadlines. In reality…

I’m pretty sure it’s because I didn’t want to admit that life was overwhelming.
I’m pretty sure it’s because I felt responsible for the huge reactions and big emotions going on around me.
I’m pretty sure it’s because I always feel obliged to find the perfect words, and this time I had none.

As the weeks have passed, I’ve had to let go of what’s expected of me and, importantly, what I expect of myself. I had to take a breather from being the The Content Coach and be simply (and complexly) Daughter, Wife, Sister and Mum. Then I had to look at what I was creating, what was important, what mattered to me and anyone else; what I was doing simply because I could or because it made money, and what I was doing that was exciting or dullsville. I had to decide, with my new and impending lifestyle (did I tell you I’m moving to Manila too? Yep, in July), what I really want to be when I grow up. I know for sure it’s not a homeschooling Mum (!), so please pray that’s not my reality come August when the kids start at the International School in Manila! But I also know for sure that I love helping people tell better stories about themselves and to themselves.

A long time ago I knew the internet would be a ‘thing’. I made very strategic and bold moves to position myself professionally to take advantage of the early online business space so that I could capitalise on what I knew would be the way of the world moving forward. I was determined, though not a techo, to be part of the digital revolution. To anyone who’d listen I’d say “I’m going to be able to work from a mountain top or a beach, anywhere in the world”. That personal prophecy has come true. And in so many ways over the past decade since I opened my own business I’ve been ‘safe’ from negative outside influences because I stuck to this position.  Now, once again, this dogged determination means I can continue to work and do what I love whilst our family embraces this new adventure.

What the details of my work looks like from July onwards however, I don’t 100% know just yet. I’m excited to do more of what I love,  but also keen to explore new tricks. New places and new people offer so much promise and excitement and I’m keen to take full advantage of that.

I tell you all this to be honest with where I’m at because so many of you have asked. I also want to reassure you that I’m not going anywhere…well I am…but my business isn’t….you know what I mean! My content marketing and book coaching services are all still on offer but will no doubt morph as I grow and continue to learn.  I’m blessed to be part of an awesome community of business owners all doing their own great things in the world and I want to continue to swirl in that space.

Sometimes we have our moment in the sun and sometimes we need the comfort of the shadows.  What I know is that there is no shadow without light.

New normal, new language

This has been a bugger of a year for obvious reasons but it’s also been a year of expanding our vocab – which a word nerd like me fully encourages and embraces!

In a matter of weeks, coronavirus fundamentally changed our way of living and working. It closed businesses, transformed working patterns, shifted our human interaction. As a result, new vocabulary appeared as a shorthand way to discuss the impact, articulate worries and poke fun at the craziness of the situation. Linguistic creativity is alive and well! (and is not uncommon in times of social crisis!) Collective cultural reference points work as a kind of uniting factor in times of trouble, and in the absence of regular social contact, shared talk is an important part of helping people feel connected.

So as we came to grips with the ‘new normal’ we figured out how to talk about the virus. And an explosion of new words and phrases entered our dialogue to help us make sense of the changes we experienced.

Covid-inspired words

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Covid musings: December already?

Can you believe it’s December? What craziness is this that has warped the time paradigm this year? Seriously, I swear the clock has actually sped up. I don’t know about you but I’m equally excited and terrified that Santa will arrive in just 24 days and that 2020 is nearly over.

I had such BIG plans for this year. Two overseas writing retreats for my clients were booked and planned, a small Aussie workshop tour was ready to roll out, my next book was going to be published, and my decision to become a mother was never going to be questioned !!!!

But alas. The world had other ideas.

Covid musings

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Your Bounty Box

No, it’s not a box of coconut covered chocolates….

So what is a Bounty Box, then?

A Bounty Box is an actual box where I keep the kind things said about me from clients, colleagues, partners and peers.  In it there are emails, greeting cards, small gifts, images of social comments and handwritten notes sent to me in appreciation for something I’ve done for them. I’ve been keeping this Bounty Box for about 7 years now, after I realised the importance of hoarding these goodies (and after my drawer started overflowing!)

Why do I have such a seemingly boastful box? Because it’s SUPER important to celebrate the impact you’re having on others, and be reminded every now and again, that you’re doing a great job and are on the right path. It’s also VERY powerful to see your world through others’ eyes.

How do I create a Bounty Box?

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Doesn’t everyone know this though?

This morning I had a root canal. An unexpected, expensive, bitch of a thing.

Whilst I lay there, with one eye scrunched close due to the mouth open situation, and the other staring firmly down the shaft of colour created by the iridescent light overhead, I willed myself to drift off into a magical meditative state so as to escape the hideousness going on in my head. Unfortunately I didn’t reach nirvana, nor even basic relaxation to be honest, so instead I tuned in to the conversation between the dentist and his nurse.
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The joy in the minutiae

I have a very funny friend who has just had a baby, on her own, in her 40s.  It’s not easy, but thankfully she has supportive parents nearby and an incredibly wicked sense of humour.  I’m relishing her baby spam and blow by blow updates, as it makes me feel involved in little Jack’s life and also casts my mind back a decade to similar moments and feelings. I can’t help think that lockdown is actually the perfect time to have a newborn – no reason to go out, no pressure to join all the groups and do all the things. Heck, you don’t ever have to get your bub out of their jarmies if you don’t want to! It’s a great time to just ‘be’. Continue reading

What do I know

As we come to the end of another week of lockdown in Melbourne, and the dust settles on my cabin-fever-homeschool-Mum nerves, I realise it’s been a while since I asked myself a really important question.  I wonder whether it’s also been a while for you too? That question is this:

What do I know?

The reason it’s so important is because unless we know what we know…like, really know, it’s almost impossible to help others learn what we know and grow with what we know.

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Change is what you make it mean

“Jo – no heels?”

My friend Rachel recently asked me why I don’t wear heels much anymore.

Since moving to Somerville 6 months ago things have changed.  It’s not that I don’t love how heels make my legs look or admire the craftsmanship of a really beautiful high-heeled shoe, but I just don’t have the hankering to wear them much anymore.  It’s quite possible that I also don’t have as many occasions to don them as much as previously (although I guess I could wear them any ole day). OR perhaps it’s that when I put heels on I tend to adopt a kind of focused, powerhouse, get-shit-done kind of attitude…the attitude that accompanied me for a couple of decades in corporate land and in the early years of hardcore networking for my business.

But 6 months ago we made a change. And with it, a more relaxed state has washed over me.  Boots are now more commonly adorning my feet.
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Focus: answer this one question

I was talking with a client during a session yesterday about how it feels kind of like that period between Christmas and New Year when you have no idea what day it is and no inclination to find out! I honestly feel like I’m in a bit of a time warp, weirdo bubble space which is kind of nice but kind of not. I feel full of contradictions.  I’m in this place where I’m still working, but not as much as I’d like… but then I remember that it’s officially school holidays now which is when I reduce my work hours anyway… but that’s usually because I want to spend much needed time with the kids and get out and about and catch up with friends we haven’t seen all term, which we obviously can’t do now, and I’ve already spent 2 weeks at home with the kids so, well…..y’know….and then I’m relishing the time to renovate the house and garden, so I’m actually really busy and not at all bored… but then we all wish we could go somewhere else and see other people and do different things…. it’s just so darn WEIRD!

How about you?? Continue reading

UGWA Fiji Retreat – a reflection

I wanted to write a blow by blow wrap up of everything I experienced at the Ultimate Girls Week Away (UGWA) Retreat. The workshop learnings, the people I met, the wicked inspiration from Liz Gilbert. But I can’t. It’s really hard to explain it all in words adequately. So instead, I want to share this very honest personal experience with you: my UGWA Fiji Retreat – a reflection.

I love retreats. I love to plan them, host them, attend them. I love the experience of being away from home, of being away from my children (bless them!), of being away from the supermarket, the running around to activities and the myriad responsibilities. I love the deep work and productivity that happens when you remove all other distractions, when you focus, when there is accountability, and when you only have yourself to worry about. I love the incredible results I’ve been able to elicit from my participants and the exciting energy those results inject back in me. Continue reading