6 B’s of Better Mental Health (During Lockdown)

Lisa Westgate is my people.  She is a  rockstar who genuinely cares for people after having been through some serious stuff herself.  She is an expert in her field, and I am so pleased she is in my circle.  Some great advice here for all of us, especially at this time in our history! – Bek

Lisa Westgate

Firstly, we need to acknowledge that these are unique times. Please know that it’s okay to feel angry or upset or unstable or like somebody has just put you in some sort of spinning ride at a theme park and switched it on well before you are ready. However you are feeling at this time is valid, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

We also need to appreciate that Australia has really not had a break since September last year. The bushfires meant many of us did not get a break between 2019 and 2020. Even if we had time off work allocated to ‘Holidays’, many of us did not get a chance for an emotional break. Many of us have been in a heightened emotional crisis response state for over six months. We need to recognize in that context of ongoing crisis, sometimes things start falling apart and our mental health can suffer. It is NOT a sign of weakness it’s a sign of humanity.

My intention with this piece is to give you some simple processes, tools, and ideas to put into action in the coming weeks and months. Use these as a resource that you can come back to on multiple occasions when you need reminders.

Breathe

Here is a simple breathing technique used in many industries including military and law enforcement globally. The cycle is 4-6-8-7. This breathing pattern is a variation of pranayama based yogic breathing championed by Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 and ‘Box’ or ‘Tactical’ breathing which follows a 4-4-4-4 pattern. Begin by exhaling all the air in your lungs then take a deep breath in for the count of four, hold that breath in your lungs for the count of six, exhale that breath for the count of eight and then hold no breath for the count of seven, repeat this cycle four times. The reported effects of this practice twice a day for several months is a lowering of blood pressure, heart rate, and other positive physiological changes. Although, you may notice that even doing that now has helped put you at ease. Now that you have this tool, use it regularly and everything suggested after will be easier to manage.

Balance

This word is thrown around a lot. What does it actually mean and how can you implement that in the real world?

For some, balance can be about scheduling and planning. Having structure and allocating time for all activities creates a sense of control for those that enjoy systems. For others, listening to your gut, tuning into your body is the way to go. Too much structure can create undue pressure. If you are working from home and also have family members home too, just do the best you can. This may mean changing your work hours to suit family activities or temporarily rearranging some furniture to give yourself a workspace. You may not have the room to this and run your business or do your work from the kitchen table. You can’t make time or save time, but you can decide how to use time. Most importantly, in my opinion, is to give yourself points for trying and remember all anyone can ever do it give it their best shot.

Boundaries

Boundaries can get a bad rap. Think about boundaries as an opportunity to keep things in, rather than cast them out. Understand you are only one person; you can only do so much. Healthy boundaries assist in keeping you under your ‘overwhelm threshold’. Overwhelm is a typical feeling in our current situation. A simple way to practice safe boundaries is the simple two-letter word ‘No’. Saying no to added workload, pressures from kids and perhaps expectations of your partner lets people know where your boundaries are. It also, importantly, reaffirms them for yourself. Stay true to your boundaries and avoid burnout.

Budget

Part of setting healthy boundaries is that you create an opportunity for budgeting. Not necessarily in the financial sense, but in the time and energy sense. Acknowledge you have a finite amount of energy allocated for each day, especially under these crisis management conditions. When we are running on amygdala-based drivers like fight, flight or freeze, your capacity is limited. Be sure to budget and utilise your energy in the most ‘bang for your buck’ way. This means being judicious in who and what you give your energy to, be conscious of how much energy you are allocating to a particular person or activity. Save some for your loved ones and for yourself. Use boundaries to enforce your energy budget.

Breaks

Take them. Give yourself one. If you are working from home, in particular, you have the ability to structure your day as you wish. This is a double-edged sword. Many will find it difficult to establish and maintain a routine that facilitates proper breaks, both physical and mental.

There is a concept referred to as ‘active resting’. I learnt this years ago and it profoundly changed my ‘spare’ time. The idea is to develop some deliberate insight into your own ‘happiness strategies’, the activities that add to your energetic fuel tank. For example, spending time in nature, cooking, reading a mind-expanding book, any activity in which you ‘lose time’. These activities do more than just give you a break away from work or home duties, they provide your conscious mind with a distraction, allowing your subconscious mind to process emotions and feelings in the background. Like your computer running a scan in the background while you play solitaire. Write these down and allocate time for them in your energy budget.

Active resting is completely different in outcome and intention to bingeing on Netflix, which also has a place.

Be Kind

The importance of kindness cannot be overemphasised in current times (and always). Kindness, gratitude, and contribution are at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to fear, anxiety and individualism. To a great extent, they act as somewhat of an antidote to these base emotions. If you find yourself overwhelmed by media, either traditional or social, people in your life that are catastrophizing, and the general state of the world, take note. Breathe, create balance, say No, switch off, step outside, breathe again, be kind to yourself and consider how lucky we are to have connection via modern technology, clean air (getting cleaner) and fresh water and find a way to help someone else. Perhaps share this article with them. Be well and I look forward to seeing you on the other side.

BIO:

Since outgrowing PTSD post a decade long Ambulance career, Lisa Westgate founded Freedom Mindset Training. She shares her expertise in areas of mental health, self-care and Neuro-Linguistic Programming both Live and online.

Lisa is a regular guest presenter and has a successful working relationship with Victoria Police and other organisations particularly related to her passion for frontline mental health care.

Lisa is a contributing author in the Amazon Number 1 Bestseller, ‘Changemakers: IWD edition’. Changemakers and her e-book “3 Keys to Outgrow Trauma: an alternative perspective from lived experience” are available via her website.

Website: www.lisawestgate.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/lisawestgateptsd

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lisawestgate

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lisa_westgate_

Email Lisa at lisa@lisawestgate.com

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

5 Projects To Build Your Community

I met Kirsty after we were both showcased by YMag, and when we finally met in person we just clicked.  As a result of that, she has assisted in the build of a new project I’m working on. She is interested in DIY Marketing and  creating custom digital products and I totally recommend her services. This blog is a timely piece of advice during some very uncertain times. Becky Paroz

Guest Blogger Kirsty Fields

Creating IP in a business is incredibly important to both stand out in your market and will result in making money. But how do you go from having an idea and creating the IP for it, to selling your idea? What’s more, if your market is flooded with similar solutions and there’s lots of sales messaging available what can you do to start a successful pathway? Build a community. This community can exist in different formats, online or offline, be geographically based or not. You build a community from your clients, networking and industry connections, contractors and suppliers, friends, referrers and collaborators. What all these different groups have in common, is that they collectively make up your community. If something happens to one sector of your community, it’s likely you’ll maintain other sectors.

Here’s five small projects to launch to help build your community to be able to formalise and grow a “list” of contacts to formalise a communication strategy. This activity alone is key for you to sell to in the future, but always the way in which you can mass-communicate information, education, support and awareness. And a portion of your marketing mix that is always left unnurtured, and therefore an untapped asset to your business. Each one of these five projects can be implemented using simple technology to capture information from your community if you haven’t done so already.

This will allow you to turn each of the five projects into a new community group to connect with directly as a smaller group, or as part of your wider community. And you could use all five of these projects together for a bigger more impactful outcome offering a variety of styles catering to individual interests.

  1. Create a freebie
  2. Start a pop-up Facebook group
  3. Run a short-term challenge
  4. Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop (online or in person)
  5. Run a private bespoke event offering membership

Create a Freebie

Creating freebies are perhaps the easiest of the lot! Sending your freebie out via a sign-up scenario means you capture an email address as a minimum. Popular freebies include E-Books, webinars, podcasts, tools like calculators, discounts, or mini versions of a service/product like an audit or consult. Save your work in easily accessible formats e.g. PDF files, downloadable Zip folders or links to hidden pages on your website and give access to them only after you collect the private information of each user that allows you to communicate with them in the future.

Start a pop-up Facebook group

Pop up Facebooks are a great idea to contain a small group to WOW new people to your community, service them with some education or access to freebies and a supportive community. It also allows you to entertain them, provide great service from you or your team. It also provides a closed area for you to market directly to them. The key to success with Facebook groups is brand-relevant visually appealing and professionally structured content. Your time and effort needs to go into the group before it’s populated, allowing you to turn up Live instead of the stress of daily content creation. This is never fun!

Don’t delete your Pop Up group once the original purpose has run its course. Reuse the group repetitively, as you’ll find those who valued it the first time (plus those who may not have given their full attention, or needed better timing), won’t leave of their own accord. That allows you to add to your group quarterly or half-yearly with a membership number that impresses the viewer.

Run a short-term challenge

Short-term challenges can be great fun and you can pick up community members with savvy social campaigns when you run them. Think hashtags for engagement, cross-platform participation with Instagram, and entertainment all the way. Just like any other campaign you run, lead-in time is everything! Promote it for at least 6 weeks organically before day 1 to maximise numbers. Your email communication should be short, sharp and clear across the time of the challenge with your own example included each day. Remind participants with scheduled email campaigns that include daily or every second day reminders the week it starts. Selecting daily winners from participants is a great draw card, as is a collaborative challenge. You can also run a short-term challenge in a Facebook group – or create a Pop Up Facebook group for this purpose.

Host a low-priced ticket masterclass or workshop

We run low-priced workshops regularly. Several times a year in fact, and the feedback we receive from clients every time is that they enjoy and appreciate an intimate gathering of like-minded people. It allows for a more personalised approach, but also allows you to maintain a low budget in many areas including choice of venue, catering and print/marketing collateral requirements. To secure the number of guests you need by following an event plan rolling out over a 10-12 week period. This is an ideal time frame to allow you publish a variety of events marketing information from the time you launch, to the date of the event. This allows you to run one per quarter as part of a regular onboarding process. And don’t forget, this event could be a digital event with video conferencing or Live video in a private group setting.

Run a private bespoke event offering membership

If what you have to offer doesn’t support a low-priced anything, then a bespoke private event is more likely to hit your target! Along with a higher price tag, an impressive location, providing experiential program features, bespoke events offering membership as the kicker are a big hit with women in particular. Think retreats – spiritual or corporate in nature – providing elements that may be perceived as difficult to organise in a day to day circumstance, or that may be considered luxurious. Include add-ons, have varied pricing structures to snag guests earlier or provide a higher price tag for a distinct purpose. The activity of community building is a long game and requires patience. However, it’s genuinely one of the most successful marketing activities a company can undertake for longevity.

Though it takes a long time to build a huge list, once you’re in the hang of it and include it in your marketing activities, you will feed into your database with ease. Suggestions above are superficially based on social media activity or events based. These are my own areas of specialty at Social Ocean, which is an events marketing agency. Combining your online social presence with face to face events is a highly successful mix, that will not only assist in building your list but create your raving fans!

KIRSTY FIELDS – BIO

Armed with over 20 years’ experience in the event management business, Kirsty Fields has co-ordinated everything from kids’ events to national sports games. After a successful career in sports, she embraced modern marketing and promotional techniques.

Her passion for training clients in social media, digital marketing and branding has been combined to present her multi-award winning business Social Ocean a bespoke events marketing agency.

Kirsty’s experience in event management and coordination, and the small business space, backed by her passion for marketing, makes her an ideal source for all things related to events, small business, marketing, social media and branding.

LINKS FOR SHARING

Social Links:

Website (relaunching this month): https://www.socialocean.com.au

To follow along with Social Ocean, and for regular tips and tricks, join them on

Facebook: www.facebook.com/socialoceanau

LinkedIn Page: www.linkedin.com/company/social-ocean-au

Instagram Page: www.instagram.com/socialoceanau

Pinterest Page: www.pinterest.com.au/SocialOceanAU

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience Uncategorized

Dress Code: HAPPY

I met Debbie while working in Darwin on some extreme projects.  Debbie immediately struck me as a woman after my own heart, loud, opinionated, informed, passionate and driven.   The kinds who understands the #getyourbootson philosophy and lives it.  Here she offers some raw insight into what goes into the making of strong women and what it takes to get out of your own way… everydayBecky

What if everyday was a celebration of life? What if every meal were a celebration too and we cooked with love, ate what gave us pleasure, and left us feeling satisfied and full? Everyday when we get dressed, we dress in something that makes us feel great and happy and good about our bodies?

And that looks different for every single one of us. We are all unique individuals, and we are all absolutely frigging amazing just as we are. Just imagine what your life would look like if you celebrated that each and every day, and celebrated your body and felt great about it, no matter your size, weight or shape, ability or disability. Happiness is all about embracing ourselves and our lives exactly where we are in the present moment, not waiting until something changes.

Over the past few years, I have been on a journey of understanding my self-worth. Learning that I am enough, in fact not only enough, that I am perfectly imperfect in every possible way. It has been a process of learning to love my body and my life exactly where I am right now, no matter its perceived flaws and imperfections, the shadow parts of me I don’t want to show to the world, my size, my personality, my finances and every other single part of it.

It has been a long slow process of learning to love those parts of me I have been criticized for my whole life and realizing that those things are in fact my superpowers that make me who I am today and are fundamentally part of who I am. My loud voice and getting over-excited because I’m so passionate about things, my weight and size, my storytelling, my love of speaking in public, my love of and ability to do multiple projects at once and always have lots of different things going on, my creativity, my sensitivity and empathy for others. All of these things are actually my best qualities and I have realised that over the years, others have told me to shut up and sit down, not to get so emotional, to focus on one thing, because they were mostly threatened by me or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I have finally come to a place of love where I am letting myself be seen as my true authentic self, rather than always trying to tone it done, dim my light and try to fit in with what everyone else wants me to be.

I have learned to love myself in the present moment. Not when I’ve lost 20 kgs, not when I go on vacation, sort out my finances and feel financially secure, or buy a new house or a new car, not when I find a new partner, nor a new job. But right here, right now, in the present moment, exactly as I am and where I am.

I have learned to love not knowing what is coming up and where I am going, by simply allowing myself to be open to possibilities and receiving and saying yes to what comes along. By meditating each day and being in the present moment and following my heart and whatever I am called to do, amazing opportunities have opened up in my life. Opportunities that have led me places and allowed me transform in ways I never thought possible. It has been all about learning to live my life at a 10 every single day and letting go of things, jobs, people and places that no longer serve me or are only a 3-4 for me on a scale of 1 -10.

This has all come together in the past two months when we launched The EveryBODY Diet website and Facebook page. Working with my two partners Kim and Jay, we have created a safe space for people to transform their lives, initially through the power of intuitive eating, however, it is so much more than that. It is about learning to let go of the trauma and beliefs that have shaped our lives and given us the illusion of trying to control it through food and staying in our comfort zone.

What has evolved through us has been transformational for those of us participating in the process and it has bought us to the place where every part of our lives becomes a celebration of who we are, what we love and makes us feel happy. Just the simple act of wearing clothes that make us feel good about our bodies, feel happy and energised, comfortable and at ease, is a revolution. Imagine opening your wardrobe and knowing that every single thing in it fits and makes you feel good about your body.

Likewise, with our eating. It is all about starting to love our bodies and feelings and stop punishing them and trying to control them with endless diets or binge eating. Fire the food police and that inner voice that tells you what you can and cannot eat. By listening to our bodies, learning to eat when we are hungry and stop when we are full, eating what we love for pleasure, enjoyment, and satisfaction, our bodies start to regain their innate ability to self-regulate and reach a place where your weight evens out. This will be different for every one of us and changes as we grow older and are at different stages in our lives.

So make every meal a celebration, eat what you love and makes you feel good, live your life with passion and cherish each and every day, wear clothes that make you happy and follow your heart and live your life at a 10 every day.

Debbie Reeves – Bio
Originally from the UK, I live in Darwin, Australia, have two gorgeous
teenage daughters who never cease to amaze me, two horses, a dog,
and 2 cats. I work in high end professional recruitment, and my
passion is people.
For the past 25+ years I have been studying personal transformation. I
was trying to fix myself and thought I was broken. Trying to fit in and
be someone I am not. Craving love and acceptance, yet unable to give
that to myself. One day I realized that no one could ever fix me and all
the answers I needed were already within me. 59 years of hating my
body hadn’t worked, so I tried loving and embracing myself exactly
where I am in the present moment. It has truly transformed my life. My
mission is to light the way so you too can learn to love and embrace
your body, connect to your heart and let go of all your old stories that
have stopped you from loving yourself for so long.

www.facebook.com/everybodydiet or www.everybodydiet.com

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

Turning my passion project into a career – Sandy Lowres

My intro:

I first found Sandy on her Good Girl Confessional Blog site.  I had just written a chapter for a book about recovering from being a Good Girl, so it was a bit of a perfect match.  We corresponded and clicked straight away, enjoying an online friendship for quite a few years, feeling like we were good friends.  We actually finally met in 2019 when I was a guest speaker for an event in Geelong.  Since then I have been a guest on Sandy’s podcast, and I am really looking forward to this magazine release.  Please make Sandy feel welcome to the guest blogs of 2020.BECKY

Turning my passion project into a career has been a long journey but 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year, where I am set to launch my first magazine, Woman Beyond Forty, or WB40 as I like to call it. If that conjures up images of car lubricant, think of WB40 as lubricant for your mind! Creating this project is hard work and there is stress involved to get it right, but it is absolutely a labour of love. So how did I arrive here? Well, I decided to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Everyone I know has had an annus horribilis. One of those years that is forever etched in your brain as a horrendous time of your life. Mine was 2010, a year where I lost my father, my business, my marriage and my family home. It was a year etched in grief, and sadness. When my marriage ended after almost eighteen years, I sold my boutique retail business and took on a role as Executive Assistant in a company that would allow a steadier income. I took the safer road to create stability for my children. I was broke, feeling defeated and exhausted. Licking my wounds took a long time but as a creative, I needed an outlet and eventually I took myself to a blogging workshop.

I’ve always been a creative writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing down lines for future stories, or scribbling poetry on loose bits of paper and napkins which I call poetry scratchings. I studied writing at uni and have a background in communications. Starting my blog, The Good Girl Confessional in 2013 was a cathartic outlet. The name was a tongue in cheek nod to how societal and patriarchal expectations are placed on women to be quiet, obedient, “good girls” who don’t express opinions. I was anything but those things having been raised by a flower power feminist, and a supportive step father who encouraged exchanges of ideas. Writing under a pseudonym allowed me to be raw and honest, talking about the ending of my marriage, my divorce, and of course about my stepping into the world of online dating, sex and relationships as a single woman in a no holds barred way. While I didn’t think anyone would read it, and there is a certain freedom in that, to my surprise Elle Magazine once listed me in the Top 5 Confessional blogs to read, and I was nominated for several blogging awards over the years.

The Good Girl Confessional garnished an organic following and over the years it grew to include gorgeous guest bloggers and went from being a personal blog to including articles on women’s issues. I continued to work fulltime in the corporate world and juggled the blog as a passion project. A lot can change in a decade. In that time, I had been engaged and then single again. The blog allowed a safe place to vet the emotions that poured from that. I’ve had four jobs and my children have grown up. All three are now adults, and I made a conscious decision to start writing under my own name. I’ve also found love again with a fellow creative.

I found myself at a crossroads with my writing. Last year I turned fifty and started a podcast, also called The Good Girl Confessional which allowed me to chat with incredible and diverse women about their lives and their experiences. As a story teller, giving a platform to other women to tell their stories is something I’m passionate about. Over the years I kept flicking through magazines and realised that I couldn’t quite find what I was seeking – the voices and stories of women over forty. Western society would have us believe that once we turn forty we have less to offer, that we are invisible and yet I know so many extraordinary women forty and above who are vibrant, kick ass women. I knew these expectations were bullshit. Something else weighed on me. I had grown up with an incredible group of friends. We are still friends to this day. Having that sense of female community as I was growing up, especially in a dysfunctional family unit, made me the person I am today. I have been so lucky to meet so many amazing female friends along the way who have brought so much to my life. Through the blog community however, I started to realise that some women do not have that feeling of community and belonging. Many told me they didn’t have many female friends but they longed for connection.

So, I decided to create the magazine I couldn’t find. A magazine written by women, for women on the topics that interest us – culture, film, books, world affairs, feminism, the environment. I’m a firm believer that all women have a story. This has become the mantra for Women Beyond Forty. Through this platform, we are growing a community of diverse, vibrant, intelligent women who all have a story. We hope to create an inclusive and safe space for women forty and beyond. I’m so thrilled that the website will launch shortly and the magazine will be released in March 2020.

I have had moments of doubt that I can deliver my dream to fruition but when I put the call out to female friends who are writers, and close friends, all were enthusiastic and so generous with advice. Collaborating with amazing women who are writing for the magazine on a range of topics, and for the website has been such an exciting time. I have always found the generosity and wisdom of women to be amazing and this project has cemented that even further. My niche was always writing about experiences beyond forty, and WB40 is proof that we still have so much to offer. Our time is now and I can’t wait for you all to share it.

Social Links:

To follow along with Women Beyond Forty, and for launch dates, collaboration opportunities or advertising information: https://mailchi.mp/5010c7a28821/wb40 or head to info@wb40.com

Website (coming soon) : https://wb40.com

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-good-girl-confessional_1

The Good Girl Confessional is also available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, I Heart Radio, iTunes and where ever good podcasts are found.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GoodGirlConfessional/

WB40: Women Beyond Forty Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/womenbeyondforty/

Podcast Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thegoodgirl_podcast

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

2019 – A Trifecta of Triumph

What a year! It’s been filled with trials, tribulations, and triumphs of a seriously epic nature. Even for a life lived in construction, which usually means every day is an adventure.

It started with a drive to Melbourne to collect not one, but two monsters. They look like Rhodesian Ridgebacks but they are monsters. They turned one year old in October, but in January, they were small(ish), and cute, and cuddly. Puppy cuddles are the best thing ever. And while I was dealing with that, it was announced I was awarded one of the Top Ten Women to Watch, for YMag, in 2019.

Baby Monsters

I could say I was consumed with adoration for my new baby puppies, which is still true, but I was also… Uncertain how to deal with this.

I’d won a truckload of awards previously, but always within my industry, my workplace, my comfort zone. This was not. It was public, judged by women, and made me sound… Amazing. Not something I am used to. In my world being amazing was how I operated every day and was expected. It wasn’t celebrated. Maybe applauded on occasion.

So I kind of ignored it. I told people, and I was excited, but that was about it. Next, I was invited to talk in India at an incredible conference and everything was booked. Going to see the Taj Mahal has been a goal for my engineering heart forever…. Yes, I’m nerdy that way. Love a well designed and constructed building. And then… You could see that coming right? Less than a week out from the flight, I was rushed to emergency and has my gall bladder and a few floating stones removed. 7mm in size – I don’t do anything by halves! No wonder it hurt. So that plan got squished and I had 6 weeks to do very little but think and recover. Not great for someone who lives life at full tilt.

I am trying to offer my experience and skills as a mentor and coach to other women, because I really want to show women they don’t have to let circumstances of their life rule their outcomes, and so I took the opportunity to be featured in the next two YMag releases, one of which was as a cover girl (, another very weird episode in this year’s adventures. Again, not something that I fully realised would be so confronting until I saw my face all over social media… Again and again and again…!

I was mentoring a wonderful and successful businesswoman as part of my NAWIC contributions and she also happens to be the VP of the Australian chapter. She felt I should apply for the Qld awards for all my efforts in the Industry, and gave me pause for thought.

What better way to reach the women I want to mentor, to showcase the potential of a career in construction, to lead by example than to be recognised by my peers. I did enter and that led me to be awarded the Crystal Vision trophy against a field of very worthy fellow finalists. I was so proud of this award because I felt I had earned this one many times over in 30 years of service and shit shoveling.

Life was pretty good, and I had another speaking engagement for the YFactor experience and so of course, life punched down. The day before my baby girl, my not-quite-one-year-old doggo nearly died from an allergic reaction. I got her to the vets just in time, and don’t ask me any more details as the speeds were highly illegal and dangerous) but then had to make the decision to leave her brother with her at the vets all weekend for monitoring while I prepared myself to wow women with wondrous words on stage. While experiencing mum guilt for the first time ever in my life. How any women gets past the crippling guilt of leaving their child (and mine was four-legged, not like I’d personally popped this one myself) and doing anything in the world is truly award-worthy!

By now I was getting used to the “social leverage” of this kind of event, so I did make some waves about the Crystal Vision Award and embraced being fabulous just a little more.

And then… Less than a few weeks ago, I won another award. This one was even further outside of my experience again, and the category was one that received the highest amount of nominees, so you imagine my pleasure at being in the top five. You can imagine my surprise when it was my name that was read out as gold, winner. First. Fearless Educator.

And I feel like that truly sums me up. Fearless. Educator. It goes to my brand of #GladiatHER, the warrior women who go after what they want, who live out loud, who make noise, make waves, and take no shit. Who holds out a hand to another woman and lifts them up because they know what it is like to be alone, to be a forerunner, to be a disruptor, to not have support.

So now I am roaring my success and making it all about you next year. I have been told by friends they plan to beat my record in 2020. I hope so. I want them to.

And I will offer my guidance, experience, my multi-award- winning knowledge, to support them in any way. To make sure they exceed my achievement. Because if I can do it, so can they. I believe in them, probably even more than I have believed in me sometimes. And I believe in me pretty strongly. After all, I have a trio of triumph from this year to remind me how seriously amazingly awesome I have become. A trilogy of trophies. A triplet of testimonials. A triumph of tenacity. A true testament to overcoming trials.

And 2020 is going to huge for me. This is just the beginning of me making sure the world knows I am ready to be louder, bigger, brighter, bolder, and even more successful. Because what else is it all for but to inspire you to do your best?

Becky Paroz

Because what else is it all for but to inspire you to do your best?

Fluff Mentoring New Year

YFactor 2019!

This is a recap of my attendance at #YFactor2019 and not paid advertising.

It is a truth, sometimes unacknowledged, that large groups of women are, sometimes, a little scary to other women. The tropes are rife in social media. The backlash is strong when a woman speaks her mind about something unpopular. It is a scary place in the world today to be a woman who speaks her mind.

Not so at the YFactor. Hosted by team who also brings you #YMag, this two day conference bought together entrepreneurial business women from around Australia and allowed them a safe space to share their journeys, their insights and their passion : their ‘Y’.

I have been through the conference circuits many times. I have attended and spoken at industry, professional, educational, and empowerment conferences and been in the audience for many more. I saw Jane Caro speak before she was a household name. I knew Jack Delosa when he was training to be the powerhouse he now is. Yes I am also older than I look!

And I have never attended a conference like this. The stories were powerful, visceral and real. If you are keen to find out more, any copy of YMag will showcase these incredible women and I absolutely recommend you grab the latest copy to hear from the utterly beautiful soul that is Bec McMillan (https://www.facebook.com/luminouscrystalxo/).

Her story had everyone feeling all of the feels. And it was beautiful. I have never seen 60 women all focused on supporting and loving another woman in the way that this room responded. There were breakdowns, breakthrough and breakouts. You will find out about the cage dancing if you join us, because I believe there are plans next year to double down.

Throughout the whole event there was support. There were tissues, pens, and wisdom shared between women from all walks of life and with vastly different experience. What was missing, was judgement.
Just think of how powerful that statement is. To be in a room full of women and no judgement. It is a microcosm of the world we wish we lived in. It was an absolute credit to the team who put it together.

And me? I met new friends and made new connections with women I never would have interacted with in my other lives. I put on he performance of my life in delivering my speech and loved ever minute of that freedom – I love presenting, but the chance to perform…. Well you don’t get that at an engineering conference!

I felt accepted, welcomed, even appreciated in a way that I personally have never experienced from a group of women. I met some #gamechangers #thoughtleaders #innovators and #disrupters
I met women who cared, who loved, who gave, and who are going to rock this world.

And I am one of them.

#GladiatHER
#speaker #presentet #performer

Uncategorized

The Writer versus Pain

must write have to write need to write,  write write write, right? #wordvomit #bingewriting  

It’s hungry and the only way to feed it is to pour the words out, vomit and explode them into the page as fast as you can before the ideas the language the colour the flow, it goes 

It must be captured in that moment because it is beauty it is fleeting it is pure it is perfect   It flows.  

A torrent of picture described in 26 characters and punctuation! A emotional upheaval via ideal twist, a niche observance, and marketing wizardry splitting of the dross of daily writing from the rare jewel like brilliant moments where the intersection of subject matter knowledge intersects with creative/explosive epiphany while keeping in perfect alignmenty goodness with world vision, characters and plot arcs planned… 

It is a sublime and spectacular events that is like a super-blood-redpunkblue-closertotheearththanever before moon it so rarely can happen.  

Except then your gall ball removal uncorks the genie of words and you have them ALL THE TIMES. All of them. All of the times. Like the time you’re sleeping. Muse/bitch wakes you up to tell you that storyline that you just plotted, what if you changed the order?  If you did this and this and this and did it this way…. 

About to hit yes on a phone call, but Muse-y warrior gets all dictator on your ass and demands you write that sentence down, finish that paragraph because if you don’t get it down now…. 

She doesn’t give two shits if it’s your boss. Or client. Or your editor.  

WRITE WRITE WRITE RIGHT NOW 

She is the storm.  

The writer is exhausted because they are but the side effects of the battle between the Muse, so eloquent, so voluble, so verbose, so needy, so won’t shut up, versus the Pain. Sorry THE PAIN… 

The pain of arthritis, that never-ever-ever-ending-friend who won’t ever fucking leave and the pain of the gallstone passed both conspire to keep the Writer down resting and  

ssshhhh….. Now. If arthritis is the nanna who sit y your side knitting and telling you sage avice that is completely useless and unhelpful and you just wish she would fuck right off, then PAIN is her teenage grand-daughter who is overindulged by nanna and can do no wrong.  She is all about expression.  She is a cunt. 

The Writer also conspires by doing dumb shit like interacting with her 2 Ridgebacks puppies, which do as puppies do, and jump and clump and pull and push. The writer keeps thinking that today it won’t hurt. The writer is a genius in every other way but cannot stop doing dumb shit when the body says nooooo.  

The Writer and Arthritis have been in a war /friendszone relationship for over 25 years now. They know battle lines, actions versus reactions and how the other thinks acts and breaths. Besties.  At least the familiar and the known.  

But the new player Ghost of Gall Stone Passed has bought back an old player.   

And old player pushed off the chess board or at least blocked like a rook in a corner… until now.  

PAIN IS BACK BITCHES and she has more piercings than ever. Cranking the apolcayptic-Scottish-death-metal-with-monk-chanting-punk-mixup banshee noise she calls music, PAIN strides in, her docs and oversized safety pins clanking, kicks a chair into place and says  

(look away now children or the easily offended)  

OI CUNT. IM BACK. YOURE A FUCKINGLAMEASSMOTHERFUCKER AINT YA 

POOR PRICK SUX TO BE YOU RIGHT NOW 

I’M NOT HERE TO MAKE IT ANY BETTER…. 

and then she switches tone and get down real low in your ear and you’re lying there as the Writer and you’re starting to sweat and not writhe in pain already given and the anticipation of a fresh batch in any form in any place will be a searing poker stabbed between two ribs stirring something deep within.  

Will it be a twitch that spasms but not at regular intervals so you can’t plan and you can’t win and you can sleep and you cannot be comfortable?  Will be a searing stab inside the lining of your bones?   

As PAIN leans in, her lips practically touching your ear and she stage whispers… 

If you won’t stay still I will fuck you up. I will fuck you up so bad and so many ways you will wish for death. I will do things to you that you can’t describe and then I will make it worse. Do not mess with us.  

The Writer sees the other Evil Bitch in this horror story, knitting needles held ready to defend….who?  the Writer is not sure what, or who, the needles are for and fear overcomes…  

They have formed an alliance, PAIN and Arthritis. The punk teenager with a gift for pain and the old lady who is as deadly with her knitting needles as she is with her tongue and her inability to shut up about my joints; they are now A TEAM. A formidable army of ineptitude, inability and sanctioned violence upon the body of the Writer.  

The Ghost of Gall Stone Passed howls with laughter’s that echoes down tomb like halls and the cold stone hallways to finally reach the heart of the Writer.  The maniacal cackle echoes around hollowly, sounding like lost dreams… lost time… lost words… 

It is suddenly chilly, lonely, deserted, creepy, malignant, eerie, and echo-y. The Writer is alone with the Ghouls suddenly and aware that there needs to be caution… 

The Writer is willing, please no more I will be good I will rest I will remind to myself and I will accept what you are trying to tell me.  

The Writer tries to makes deals with the Devils, or the Angels, never sure which, and pleads that being good will return good favour from them all.  Please? 

The Muse stirs…. 

Fluff Writing

Competition is NOT a Dirty Word

I see so many women hate on the word “competition”.

An Aussie woman, Ashleigh Barty, just won the French Open… Do you think she shies away from a little competition?  Congrats Ashleigh, while I am here, you are amazing! Pretty sure Ms Barty competed her ass off to win this award!

Our Olympic winners, do you think that they don’t compete?  Every day they compete with themselves and their personal best, to be just a little better than before.  We celebrate them, and if we don’t, we certainly should.  

So that is okay, so maybe it is just when women compete.. what… with each other?  That’s what Olympians do also. There is a first, second, third, and all the others.  Sometimes the others get a mention, like when they just keep going no matter what, but do we remember them?  Nope. But we celebrate the Gold Medallist don’t we? 

We join clubs and point systems and rewards than give us “Gold class” versus “Diamond” or “Platinum” levels.  Isn’t that a form of competition? Who has the higher level? These systems are designed to make sure we compete to get to that higher, glossier, more “privileged” level, aren’t they?  But that seems to be okay. Maybe that is competition with the “corporations” because we believe we are getting more out them than most, or maybe that is a competition with ourselves, to “level up”.

So why don’t we women “compete”, when quite clearly, we do, and we do it well in certain areas?

Is it because we compete against other women, and there is already enough out there telling us that we are too fat, too thin, too blonde, too shy, too prosaic, too plain, too pretty, TOO MUCH?  Is it that we are just joining the party and using the “women don’t compete line” to actually drag another women down because she wants to be a winner? Because maybe, we, ourselves, can’t compete, so we perpetuate a myth than means we don’t have to strive, to animate, to be better than yesterday, knowing we will better again tomorrow? What is wrong with wanting to win? 

I don’t think that is it, I see plenty of women getting their game on, hustling, entrepreneuring, creating, making, fulfilling, being out there in the world.  

I saw an article recently that stated :

“leadership has been a predominantly male arena and as a result, typically “masculine” qualities such as decisiveness, resilience and confidence, have been viewed as paramount.”

Erm, they are paramount and they aren’t “masculine”.  It is not a gendered word. I am sick of being “masculine”, “feminine” or some other category that I did not sign up to, but someone else thinks that I must be “this way” because of some daft gendered suggestion.  I am not masculine because I am resilient, because I can make decisions, because I am confident.

I am these things because I created myself this way, because I chose it, because I wanted it.  And I am a woman, heaven forbid! But I rose through the ranks of the construction industry as a female, and I will be damned if I reduce myself in any of these areas because some article designed to sell something suggests I am and have “masculine characteristics”   And if I do, what is the big deal with that?

Women raise the children, predominantly, and this is changing, but it is still mostly true for most families.  So when you are raising that child each day making decisions, you aren’t being decisive? Of course you are, whether you see it that way or not.  Making bad decisions is not less than decisive, it just means you like learning by experience.  

Experiencing breast cancer and over-coming the every day struggle that it is to just keep going, have faith, believe that there is hope and recovery – that is resilience even if you don’t have the energy to say the word. 

Being on stage and presenting requires a great deal of confidence and we see women more and more taking that stage.  Are they really women because they are confident? Or have they embraced being a man, being “masculine”.

Of course not, the suggestion is ridiculous. 

And so is the suggestion that these things are masculine in their intent, context and delivery.  I really get sick of women creating this divide and then wondering why they can’t be taken seriously in the world arena.  If anything, the suggestion of these traits as masculine or feminine are perpetuating the belief that there is one way to be if you are a man and one way to be if you are a women.  And that is simply not true. It also perpetuates the myth that men are less than women because they have these traits, and I think that is a pile of bullshit too.

And that denies the rights of women that have been fought over for years, the ability for our ladies to be in the defence force, fly planes, vote, own property, you know, “manly things”.  

The entire concept that confidence is masculine is absurd.  Confidence is defined as: full trust; trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing, belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

Are we still in an era where we don’t want that for our daughters?  That our sons aren’t as good as our daughters if they have these traits.  When you break that statement down like this, it is entirely ridiculous.

I compete every day.  I compete with myself to be better, more intelligent, know more, be greater, achieve higher.  I compete in my role because I represent a company and I need to be the best I can be for that role, it is what I am paid to do.

I reject the idea that competition is masculine and has no place in a woman.  I reject the mythology that surrounds the “feminine” and the “masculine” and that they are somehow less than or worse than the other.

What I embrace is that we can all, both male, female, and non-gendered, non-binary and nonsensical if that is how you roll, is that we can all have these traits if we choose to.  We need to stop vilifying words in the attempt to one up the scale and continue the gender divide. And to sell from a platform that perpetuates this divide.

I embrace my resilience, I am confident enough to say it and I won’t be changing my decisiveness to do so any time soon.  Join me if that doesn’t make you afraid of being the best version of you, because that is the competition I am in. 

Empowering resilience

I’m Finally Outing Myself As A Coach

“I’m inspired by people that are marginal. I’m excited by their resilience. ” ―Mira Nair

I did the life coaching qualification thing before Susan became one on “Neighbours”.  It was in that moment I stopped calling myself a coach and stopped claiming that as a part of my public skills set.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been coaching for 20 years since that qualification and went on to do another one (Performance Coach if you are into labels).  I just haven’t “identified” as one.

I am now trying to move away from my 30 years in the construction industry and it has come to my attention, that all that conflict resolution, project planning, team management and mentoring, all uses my coaching skills and I’m doing myself a disservice from ignoring that label.  As a woman who also loathes labels and how attached we are to them, this has been a bit of a mental challenge.

You see there are a lot of coaches out there who are…. Well, offering to coach you in order for you to coach someone else.  I am qualified to train coaches (that’s how far I went in my quals) but I don’t want to be the super coach at the top of my up-line, coach of the year…  

That, along with the promise of a “7 figure income”, is not, as they say, my bag baby.  Now, those coaches might be great, I’ve met a few and they are great. They really mean what they say.  So if that’s your thing, just make sure they do have their “7 figure income” before you hand over your money!

As for me, I want to offer success.  Success in life, career, business. Whatever it looks like to you – SUCCESS!  You see for me, money doesn’t equal success. I’ve met a few millionaires. They have lots of money, but success?  They aren’t happy, they aren’t fulfilled, they don’t see their family, they can’t afford to take time off… I am sure you’ve heard it all before.  For me those things – life, love, laughter – are my measure of success.

So here is my thing.  

I have 2 quals as a coach and 20 years of experience. I don’t want to coach any one to coach anyone else. I want success for you. I want you to already have success and want more.

After so many years in construction, having an invisible disability that entire time, and running my own consultancy for 13 years, I want to share my success with others.

I’m an engineer, I deal with facts. I offer facts. But I find that is nowhere near as an attractive marketing strategy like the old “7 figure income” promise.

I want you to sort your income out. You measure the success you want in that area.

I will help you with mindset, resilience, overcoming imposter syndrome, sort out your business systems, support you to get processes in place, set goals, and a variety of other things; either in your career, business or personal life.

Resilience is all of those things I think – the ability to deal with whatever life hands you, has handed you (and sometimes life hands you your ass with a good luck card and then runs away!) and be living a fabulous life loving who you are.  After that comes the money on my list of what is important.

I want to support you being the most successful person you can be.  

And then….

You then go and be fabulous and earn whatever the hell you like. You will be confident, a leader, able to deal with shit. Go make your own money with that attitude and earn whatever you like.  

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. Nelson Mandela

resilience

Resilience – Your Greatest Asset

Bek: Image Credit @Pam Hutchinson Photography

I was privileged to be invited to the BPW Geelong group to speak at their annual breakfast event, themed “moving On Up”, held at the GMHBA Stadium.  It was an incredible view over the grounds as the sun came up.  I can admire it because I usually make a point of not being awake when the sun comes up!

The topic was about resilience being your greatest asset and the intro that was given used all of my not-too-insignificant achievement to introduce me.  I wanted everyone to know that I had a achieved many amazing things in my life over the last 30 years or so since I started to embrace “adulting”.  (I’m still not sure I’ve nailed it 😊).  The reason I wanted them to know that is because of how I grew up. 

My family home was not… comfortable.  As I told the audience, my first memories are off my father belting the living daylights out of my mother.   The memories never got better.  They got worse.  There were various other forms of abuse enacted on her and on her children, myself and my two younger siblings.  I moved out of home as soon as could and was working full time to put myself through university when I was diagnosed with a lifetime autoimmune condition called Rheumatoid Arthritis that was going to be my constant companion for the rest of my life.  Which was likely to be short due to the aggressive nature of my disease – or so the doctors told me.

So there I was, 19 years old, with a traumatic upbringing that I had not even begun to deal with mentally, with a physical condition that was, by all external accounts, going to make it pointless to strive for anything, studying to be an engineer and with no family, no friends and no support.

How did I get from that to the award-winning, published, confident leader than I am today?

RESILIENCE

I didn’t know what it was back then, resilience was just a word that I read in books; it had no relevance to me, but that is what I used.  Like a muscle, I exercised that thing like I was powerlifting to rival the Terminator’s strength.  I was given plenty of opportunities to practice resilience in my life, what with a degenerative and painful (is there a word that is less descriptive of what continuous pain feels like?) condition, and working in the male dominated field of construction, with a history of male and authority figure violence.  I know the statistics.  I am not supposed to be this women.

But that is exactly why I am this women.  The powerful creation of my own making, because I refused the story I was told that was my predictable future.  I refused to give up, fade away, self sabotage, be less than, be a good girl, shut up, don’t make waves and definitely don’t be so damn smart.  FUCK THAT.  Let me say that again. FUCK THAT SHIT.

I refuse to be less than everything I can be, because history, statistics, my disease and some people tell me that I am not supposed to be here, capable, strong, powerful, a leader, whole.  I am not supposed to be comfortable with what I’ve been through and I am not supposed to be able to hold my own on a stage, a platform, a crowd, leading a project, or even in dealing with life and my disability.

It took so much for me to learn to forgive, to move on, to rise above, to be better than the story of my life.  I changed the story.  I will continue to write my own story and inspire other women, via the stage, via my writing, via being the best I can be and improving every day where I can. 

Resilience – it is the best accessory a person can have.  I carry it with me always.


If you would like to talk to me about being RESILIENT in your life please fill in the form below to contact me:

resilience

The Importance of a Mentor

Becky has 20 years’ experience in engineering and construction and has been a qualified Project Manager for over five years and a qualified performance coach for over 10 years. She has been involved in public speaking since one of her managers put her in front of 600 men and told her she had 20 minutes to teach them how to do their job properly. Becky is known for her use of humor to challenge status quo thinking and offering alternative views for consideration. She is motivated to pass on her lessons learned to assist and educate the next generation of leaders to become high achievers like herself.


Mentoring is about other people.  Genuinely, honestly, and completely.  There should be no self interest in a true mentor. 

There is always secondary gain to being of service to people, but it should be exactly that – secondary to the people you work with, otherwise you are a manager, or a dictator, not a mentor.  And dictators need not apply.

Mentoring takes a special set of skills that can’t be taught in a classroom, although I am sure that a degree in Mentoring is not far away, if not already in place somewhere. 

The skills that make for a good mentor are included in the following list.  Perhaps not all, but certainly more than one of these skills apply if you want to be a good, or even great, mentor. 

The skills that make for a good mentor are included in the following list.  Perhaps not all, but certainly more than one of these skills apply if you want to be a good, or even great, mentor. 

Experience – a broad range of skills and abilities in many areas that you can vary and apply to each set of circumstances.  You don’t use the same process every time you are faced with a challenge.  You have tried and tested many ways of solving problems during the course of your own career.

Problem solver – see above.  You enjoy a challenge and see it as a goal to overcome the problem, in fact see it as an opportunity.  You don’t complain about how hard it is, you just get to it and get it sorted.

Giving – you enjoy offering your skills and services to others and don’t seek reward.  You like reward, don’t get me wrong, but it is not the first thing you think of when you observe a situation that you can assist with, improve, solve or add value to.

Communication – a very tricky one.  The biggest downfall of most peoples’ communication is talking to others in the language they use, not the language the other party uses.  This causes failure, confusion, and misinterpretation which can sometimes lead to disastrous results.  An example might assist.  If you are building a high tech facility, do you use emoticons to demonstrate the outcomes you want or do you use technical language?  This might be a slightly exaggerated example, but it offers the point that the delivery must be understood by the person receiving the information, not simply to show how many big words (or emoticons) the person making the delivery has access to

I can offer you a blue sky concept that encapsulates a paradigm shift via a panel based approach 

OR

I can offer you an alternative solution that will engage all your team members and encourage maximum participation and uptake of the concept.

Who would you choose from those two statements?  And yet they offer a similar meaning.

To be Continued in the next blog on 10 Jan 2019 …

Mentoring

Everyday Passion

A New Year Story

I am passionate about writing.  I have passion for what I write.  I am passionate about the messages that are exchanged when communication occurs e.g. I write, you read!  I am passionate about assisting people with improving their lives; their outlooks; their mindset.  As a coach, I am passionate about people. 

So why is this article so hard to write?  Because I am also passionate about many other things.  Sometimes I just get really passionate about sleep.  Mainly because as an insomniac, I don’t get much! 

If you haven’t been under a rock lately, you will no doubt have heard, read and seen all the various ways in which you can be passionate, have passion, get more passion, find a new passion, on so on! 

Do we really need to be passionate ALL the time?  Do we need to live every second as passionately as we can?  As a young women, my answer was absolutely yes!  I had been diagnosed with a chronic illness that saw me not likely to make it to old age.  I dived into life, I got hobbies, I went travelling, threw myself out of planes, flew helicopters and did everything I could with passion and zeal, enthusiasm and vigour.  Now I have reached the age I was told I’d never make (40 for anyone who is curious) I am a bit tired! 

I still have passion; after all I am writing this article during the Christmas holiday period which is generally when we all get full of the spirit(s) of the festive season, not so much passion.  You might be passionate about spending time with your family, but at this time of year, it is traditional that we all give passion a rest in exchange for parties! 

It takes passion to be motivated to do something we don’t really want to do.  Or we do want to do, but in our time, not to deadlines!  So, how have I found the passion to write this article?   

Now that I am a little older, I can see that passion is tiring.  It can be exhausting to try and feel passion for something, everything, all the time.  So I give myself a break from being passionate every now and then.  I distract myself with some cheesy movies, or a great fiction; something that takes me away from the life I live, and puts me into another pair of shoes for a short time.  Once I have had a vacation from myself in this way, I can take a deep breath and dive right back into that passion pool. 

Sometimes I check out altogether, turn of the social media, the computer, the phone and just sit still – you might call it meditation.  I just STOP.  It has taken me a long time to forgive my all too human body for letting me down and being tired or unable to perform.  It has taken a long time to convince myself, she who must squeeze all she can out of life before its too late; that it is okay to have a minute; an hour; a day; or even a week, where I do not achieve something, educate myself or be of service to the community in some way. 

It’s okay to take a break from passion and being passionate.  To sustain any kind of intense emotion takes energy.  In this busy world, with the expectation on women to “have it all”, we can all feel guilty for not being there yet.  We can be our own worst enemy for not achieving something according the goals, the rules, and the deadlines we set, or have set for us. 

But how about, as we start another new year, filled with opportunities, excitement, growth and passion, we take a moment to remind ourselves that we are not machines, we are not robots; we are in fact simply human.  We need our downtime.  We need to have some silence or solace in order to gather our thoughts, file our facts and figures, to re-assess and regroup before the next round of passionate achievements. 

And that is how I have written this article.  By taking a break.  By not worrying too much about the deadline.  By taking a deep breath and realizing what I want to achieve this year.  When I did that, I realized that I want to reach more women, I want to assist all of us to be easier on ourselves and manage our expectations for success along with our health – mental and physical. 

And writing this article is a part of that passion that I have to ensure that every woman, no matter what they are going through; no matter what they wish to achieve this year and for their future; has an ally, a good friend, that says – it’s okay to just breathe.  You are still a passionate creature. You have the ability to tap into that source of passion at any time you want.  Just reconnect with why it is you want what you want; and remember why it is you do what you do. 

And if in realizing that you are not passionate about something, make it okay to change your mind and be passionate about something else. 

Passion is flexible and changeable.  It is not fixed.  It is movable.  It is the creative flow that assists, along with some motivation, to move you towards your destiny, your goals, your desires.  So I hope you all enjoyed your festive season as much as possible.  I also hope that you have something that you can reconnect with and be passionate about this year.  I know I do and I am excited and passionate about what 2019 has for all of us. 

Passionate New Year to you all.

Mentoring

Writer Questions

~The Words of Bek – Becky Paroz

Did you always want to be a writer or did you kind of fall into it? Tell us the story of how you came to identify yourself as a writer. 

I used to write in school (many years ago) until my Senior English teacher pretty much killed my love of it. I then spent many years in the construction industry undertaking massive amounts of technical writing, but never really thought of that as writing. I was investigating an option for friends who write, and the contact I was talking to challenged me to write something. 12 anthology contributions later, I kind of got the bug to write. I have published my own non-fiction book. I have contributed to over half a dozen magazines around the world, and won some awards for my writing. I have been involved in a best selling anthology most recently this year, which was a wonderful achievement.

At some point in the last five years my view of myself started to include an identity of a writer. I realised that I had been writing for most of my life, including the technical aspects of writing business and project plans, procedures, website copy, and business reports.

I’m still trying to differentiate between the identity of writer and author, but it’s more of an intellectual exercise than a huge part of my psyche. I’m interested in what other people think is the difference between the two labels. I think I am both.

As a writer, are you a reader? What genres do you read and do you read more frequently in the genre you write in, or avoid it completely? 

I was a reading addict way before it was cool and there were memes about it! My mother stopped reading my Charlotte’s Web as a child, before she finished the book. I was so upset, I taught myself to read, and never stopped! I Was reading Dickens, Conan Doyle, and Hugo before I was a teenager, and then I discovered sci-fi (Heinlein and Pratchett being my fave) and fantasy (McCaffrey and Eddings being some of my first). I used to read the side of cereal boxes as I wasn’t allowed to bring a book to the table, and I volunteered in the library for most of my senior schooling years in order to be near and touch my precioussessssss!

I was dragged up in a caravan for most of my childhood, so owning a library of over 3000 books now is one of my childhood dreams come true. And honestly, thank all the gods for libraries because I could never feed my addiction solely on my wages!

Tell us about your first writing experience. How does that compare to where you are now? 

What I call my “first” writing experience is when I wrote creatively for a non-fiction anthology published in the USA called “The Female Leader”. It was so freeing to just write ideas and weave them together to a point, but without any rigid structure, just around a concept. All my technical writing is to a standard and a format and a template, so this was just so relaxing, and interesting. It felt a bit like freedom, which I think is the point I caught the “writer” bug. It was probably why I then contributed to so many anthologies; I could just write to an idea and make it whatever I wanted. I then wanted to practice short form writing, and so began my magazine contributions – trying to write the same concepts but in 800 words, instead of 3500. I am now working on 2 other non-fiction books, and a fiction book. I think I have developed into a much more creative style than when I first started, and I am definitely enjoying even more freedom to create a fiction novel.

I think writing is like anything, a craft you practice, and while I am really good at the technical side, I can see me growing in more skill as I explore writing fiction more. Hopefully this is the start of some great fun!

We all know the ‘just write’ memes if you are following any writers page, so apart from that, what’s the best advice you can give to someone new? 

I think every writer is going to offer the same advice, just write, but to be more specific, try and work out what type of writing works for you. I am a binge writer, a word vomiter as I call myself. I work best when I can be alone with my world and write several thousand words at a time with little to no interruption. I really get into a zone and don’t want to come out of it. I find it hard to just write 1000 words, unless I am writing for one of the magazines I contribute to. Which is the entire article. Another really big thing for me that I am still trying hard to unlearn, is editing as I go. Because of the demanding and deadline drive nature of technical writing, I usually edit and check my work as I go. I think that is really detrimental to creative writing – fiction or non-fiction. I believe it is much better to get it all out, then go back and almost start again once you have the concept poured out. You can be more focused on how it fits the entire story and you will have developed your skills further once you have finished the first draft of a book. You can use those skills to improve the start of a book, which you can’t do when you are first starting out. Start with the end in mind, then get to the end, and start again.

What’s your biggest obstacle to writing and how do you overcome it? Most of us know that it is time, so try and let us know when you are best at your writing, and why that doesn’t work, and what you do to counter or overcome that problem. 

Time is always the issue. For me it is the demands of others. I run several businesses, am a coach, a mentor, and consult to a few clients. So I have random requirements of me at all hours of the day, as I do like to be available to my clients in every area. Really hard as a binge writer to allocate an entire day and not expect someone to need me! I’m also a night owl, and would love nothing better than to write for most of the night when everything else is still and quiet. However I have all these demands during the day, and 2 Ridgeback puppies that are very cuddly and need lots of love. They just turned 18 months old and are still in training. So my ideal writing times are their (and my clients’) sleeping time, which means, that’s my sleeping time too. I am still working on how to make my timetable work around my writing, instead of my writing around my timetable. I try and schedule one or two days a month, unsually a weekend, where I am unavailable and binge write then. In the meantime, I am writing blogs, copy for websites, articles for magazines, and that just get done in between all the others things!

Self-published or traditionally published?  Tell us why that works for you? 

Self Published all the way for me! I am a control freak, so the idea of letting someone else creatively managed my project is just this side of hellish! I am an engineer, risk manager and compliance expert, so I research everything. After several years of researching this industry, not only do I realise how “skewed” it is to privilege, I also see how exclusive it is. If you aren’t somebody, you are nobody. I hope to be a part of that change, along with other authors, who see that it is the value of the words, not the publishing house that makes a book worth reading.

Traditional has its place, but its not for me. I think each author needs to work out what is important. For me, the story is just as important as how it looks to the world, aligned with my vision.

Here is your chance to plug a book. Tell us about it and why we need to read it? 

As its my page, my books are already plugged over a the “in-print” page. I was recently very privileged to be given a #1 best seller status for the anthology ChangeMakers IWD Edition [inert link to purchase] along with 21 other women who were involved in the project.

I think that there is a story, or part of story, in that book that just about everyone could relate to. It is a really powerful collection and I absolutely recommend giving it a go.

I say just read. Read until you find the book that you were looking for, that you needed to read. It could be a fiction, or a non-fiction, but just read. Everything, and anything. If you read the same as everyone else, you think the same as them. Seek out the weirdos and the obscure, the lesser known and the recently published. Support the unknown names, tell your friends, and tell the author especially, that you loved their book. It never gets old to hear that something you wrote was powerful enough to affect another human. The series of interviews to follows will have books mentioned in each one. So this is more about plugging a love of all books – go explore!

Next project? Where are you in your writing journey and where to next for you? 

Like all writers, I have several projects on the go. I am trying to finish my first draft of my fiction novel, and I have 2 non-fictions in various stages of progress. I want at least one of these published in 2020. Depending on how well received my fiction is, I hope to be able to produce a few more and turn it into a series. Plus I have a few magazines that I write for, but I really would like to get paid to write more – as we all would!

What’s your favourite genre? Tell us about one book from that genre that changed your life or outlook in life? 

I think science fiction is my favourite. I keep coming back to it and it’s the sci-fi ones I read the most. The book that opened up my world was Mort by Terry Pratchett. He is funny, clever, smart, smart ass, and has a huge amount of social commentary included in his Discworld series. Mort was the first one I read and I was amazed to find an author that wrote in a way that I could relate to, in a manner that reflected a lot of the ways I viewed society. No one else compares to Sir Terry Pratchett, and his is a great loss to the literary world. He also led me to other authors, such as Neil Gaiman, so I have him to thank for that too.

The most personal question of all, what does writing give you? Why do you do it, what’s the point, and what does it provide in your life that you can’t fulfil by any other means? 

Writing is freedom for me. A way of expressing so many thoughts, ideas, concepts and commentary, in a variety of interesting ways. Writing for a book is a different style to writing for a magazine, which is different again writing technically or for copy on a website. The power of words can change people’s life, I know that because they change mine constantly. The way in which I think, view the world, the way in which I interact with people. That is the power of words, and to wield them with influence and wisdom, is a truly great gift.

Bonus Questions (If you wrote both, feel free to answer both!)

Non fiction writers

What is the hardest thing you had to learn about putting together a factual book? Talk about how you verify facts, or try to display the information, especially if there are a lot of photos or diagrams.  Offer some advice for the audience who might want to try non-fiction. 

Non-fiction is an interesting one. There is as much variety in non-fiction as there is in fiction. I think the things for me way the order in which to present information. My book, The Words of Bek, is a collection of speeches and think pieces, magazine articles and poetry, so there wasn’t a lot of “facts” to present. However, I still wanted it to have some flow and so that was mainly what I struggled with – how to put all these pieces together to make something that kept the readers engaged. I think I could have presented it in a myriad of ways and it still would have worked, and therein lies another lesson – that done is sometimes better than perfect. You can spend so long on getting something that is really important to you just so, but you need to remember that the book is for your readers, and that you at some point want them to read it. So knowing when enough is enough, and letting the book out intot he wild, is another really important part. I think that really applied to non-fiction, because you can keep refining, and adding, and polishing, but at some point, only you, the writer, will find those details relevant. Readers want to read – so give them something to read!

Fiction writers

There is a lot of information about world building, character driven plots, and showing not telling. Discuss briefly how each of the elements of your book came together and which part do you love the most – the world you’ve built, your characters, or the story itself?  I know, it’s like picking a favourite child, but give it a try. 

I’m still working on all of these parts, so I will come back and answer this question amore fully after I’ve published my first fiction! For now, I am definitely in love with my main character, and she is a lot of fun to write.

Writing

How I Became an Author – Denis Murphy

I met Denis through the kind introduction of another author (Jodie Lane – you can check her guest blog out here. Denis and I spent over an hour recording a podcast for his show and discussing all things mindset. You can check that out here . He has kindly started the 2020 year of the guest blog for me with this discussion on how writing can be good for your mental health.  Denis is an incredible and resilient human being and I know you will enjoy his story so much that you will check him out on the socials which are listed at the end with his Bio – Becky

My relationship with writing has been a rather complex one to say the least. In school I was good at English but I wasn’t very connected to my voice as a writer. Technically I was good at English which led me to studying other languages but I had no sense of what writing could become for me. I lost touch with writing and creativity as I matured and developed into an adolescent and a young man. I started to see it as something that would make me stand out and be teased for. I didn’t have a strong enough sense of why I would voluntarily put myself through what looked to me at the time to be torture so I let my insecurities take control of my decision making process. In hindsight the uncomfortable decision to study French at university became the thing that kept me connected to my voice as a writer, although I didn’t know this at the time.


Indeed the French language is what eventually provided the opportunity that would make me deal with my personal demons from the past and fall head first into the world of writing. It wasn’t the introduction I was expecting, in fact it was quite the opposite. Going through a mental breakdown, while I was writing my first ever blog, in a remote part of France made me feel like I had lost my mind for good and there was no coming back from it. I thought I was now doomed to a life of subservience and dependence on other people. This was my initiation into the world of writing. I could either ignore this wakeup call from the universe and self-righteously hold on to my victim mindset or I could choose to grow from the experience no matter how bad things got. As cliché as it sounds, I decided I would grow from it and turn my mess into a message worth sharing.

Psychology became my gateway drug back into the world of writing. In order to move forward with my life I had to study and make sense of my own psychology and why I had a mental breakdown. I knew that if I wanted to make a full recovery then I couldn’t outsource this completely to a doctor or a psychiatrist. As good as I think modern medicine is it can’t take into account the human spirit and why things happen to us on a spiritual level. As I began my journey of self-directed learning I started to learn about my mind and what my insecurities were built from. The next step was to externalise the thoughts and what better way to do this than writing?

Initially writing was an outlet for me to vent and at the same time make sense of the world. It became a form of self-therapy and a form of self-education. I learned that when you take the time to write something new down, there is a higher chance you will retain it. My path to becoming a professional software developer was in part paved from the many blog posts I wrote describing what I was learning in the early days.

As the years passed I realised there was so much I was learning that could be very helpful to people who are struggling just as much as I was. I was an unknown blogger who was beginning to gain a sense of purpose and direction but who also wasn’t very sure of his ideas and had the habit of downplaying his knowledge and life experiences. This cocktail of knowledge and self-doubt is what gave me the idea to start a podcast. I already had access to mentors and I thought that their confidence in their ideas could help me reach more people and help me get over me fear of being seen by others.

I started The Happy Mindset podcast at the end of 2017 with a rather vague premise and an even vaguer title. I knew the idea of happiness was a core concept I wanted to explore as reflecting on this is what has helped me through my darkest and most hopeless moments. I knew that I wanted to explore the wide ranging world of psychology with the goal of helping my listeners learn about how their mind works. I was also hyperaware that most people would put these two words together and conclude I was a guy with his head in the clouds, denying the dark parts of reality before ever listening to understand where this podcast was really born from.

The podcast is what eventually led me to writing my first book – Taking my Life Back and becoming an author. The book outlines the key principles and lessons I learned after my mental breakdown. The purpose of the book is to help people rethink how they think about mental illness and how they think about people who have experienced a mental breakdown. I want to give a voice to the person going through their experience, another perspective to the psychiatrist, therapist, coach or teacher as well as to shine a light on the spiritual lessons that lie on the other side of such a traumatic experience.

The book came about because my publisher, Lisa Caprelli, was doing research for her book on happiness. Initially a podcast title that made me feel really uncomfortable is what led me to the opportunity to write a book. Lisa connected me with her cousin Davey Villalobos who happened to illustrate books. I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would work with Davey because I have a vivid memory as a young boy being told by the world that becoming a cartoonist wasn’t a viable career path. I believe that synchronicities will emerge when you have the faith to follow your curiosity, imagination and your heart.

My message is that although life can be extremely tough and frustrating sometimes there is always a light in every dark tunnel. The light I have found has been a journey where I decided to believe in myself again and dedicate my time, energy and attention on cultivating my skills and focusing on what truly matters to me.

Bio

Denis is an author, podcaster and software developer from Ireland. His many interests range from foreign languages to computer programming. He speaks 4 languages including French and he is currently learning Japanese. On his podcast, The Happy Mindset, he explores human psychology, creative writing and what it means to lead a happy and fulfilling life. He discovered his love for creative writing after some mental health issues he experienced in his early 20’s. His first book is called Taking my Life Back.

Social Links

Website: https://thehappymindset.com/

Podcast: https://anchor.fm/thehappymindset

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thehappymindsettribe/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thehappymindset/

Taking my Life Back: https://amzn.to/2rxKOla

Guest Blogger 2020 resilience

Loving Yourself Unconditionally

Intro by Words of Bek: I met Jess at the recent Roar Success Awards, where there was much fun, exchange of details, excitement, and true connection between women. Jess has won a packet of awards for her business, including some on this night.

Jess was one of the most energetic and enthusiastic people there, which is a true testament to how she lives, and her business. Her details are at the end of her guest blog, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to this amazing #GladiatHER

Jess Arroyo – Weigh Less with Jess

One of the most commonly overlooked issues is the need to love yourself… Which is a bona fide crisis, because it’s also possibly the most important need.
Learning to love yourself is a thing much easier said than done. And we’ve already established that most people have tons of other urgent things to handle. But the fact remains that it is unbelievably important and beneficial to every area of your life. So… what if you had some help?
I have struggled for so many years with the simple art of practicing self-love. I thought, that if I was skinny, had lost weight, it would be an instant that I would be happy and love myself. NOT AT ALL!! It has taken many hours of self-help books, conversations with therapists, worksheets/activities and sitting with feelings and emotions to practice self-love.
I’d love to share some ways that you can practice and learn to love yourself that are realistic, practical, grounded and firmly established by research in the fields of psychology and sociology.

#1. Tell yourself what you love about… YOU (Affirmations).
You have to realize how magnificent you are. You are a person in this world. You’re a ship build to sail. You need to be able to see things that you love, both in yourself and in the world around you. Because what we see in the mirror is often a reflection of what we see in the world. Our feelings toward others can affect our feelings about ourselves. Your level of acceptance of others is often reflected in your level of acceptance of yourself. Write down 5 things that you love about yourself. The following day, write another 5 more and so on and so on. They can be as simple as, I love my big toe!

#2. Imperfection is a part of life…
One of the things that people find quite difficult is the idea of accepting your imperfections. One of the greatest and most memorable, liberating milestones in life is giving up on being perfect and beginning the transition of becoming who you truly are. Learning to calmly see and accept things (yourself, situations, relationships, the world) as they truly are can be the doorway to a feeling of indescribable peace.


#3. Stop seeking approval.
Please, for the love of cheese… Realize that you can NOT rely on other people as the source of approval for your actions or validation for your life. No one can fill your validation cup but you! Stand up and be who you are. Speak your mind. Be true to yourself. Remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. Know yourself, accept yourself, and be yourself… this requires no permission or approval from anyone except YOU. None of us are getting out of here alive, and your time is fleeting and precious! Whatever it is that you are concerning yourself with today should be something that YOU have decided is important enough to spend a day of your life with.

#4. If it brings you down, move away from it.
When you give your time, effort, and attention to people or situations that don’t honour or respect you, then you are giving away the power and authority to steer your own life. Know your worth. Invest in actually seeking out people who motivate, inspire, and support the true you. Don’t worry about surrounding yourself with any certain number of relationships. Focus on substance and quality instead of quantity. And remember that as you become more fluent in the skills of understanding, accepting, and loving yourself… You’ll also be more likely (also more capable and better equipped) to motivate, inspire, and support those around you. In that way, most of all, learning to love yourself is going to brighten the world for those around you.

#5.Forgive.
“For whatever harm I have caused others, may they forgive me. For whatever harm others have caused me, may I forgive them. For whatever harm I have caused myself, I forgive myself.” – Traditional Buddhist Mantra. This one is SO IMPORTANT. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself how you would or do treat others.
We previously established that you should give yourself (and the world) permission to be imperfect. Confronting the darker parts of yourself and the world around you isn’t a contradiction to that. Setting goals and working to improve is a healthy process, and you should recognize that regardless of where you are in the process, you are still YOU. No matter where you are in the process, you are worthy of love.

#6. Don’t stagnate.
Routine and familiarity can be just as dangerous as a venomous snake. Learn to closely examine thoughts, relationships, behaviors, activities, and situations… and make adjustments. Step outside of routine and do new things. Meet new people. Talk to strangers and try new foods. Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you should endeavour to keep it exactly that way indefinitely.

#7. Don’t freeze in the headlights.
You’re going to fail. It’s going to happen. Repeatedly. To be successful in the long run, you must sometimes fail. Really step back and look at this. Accept it. Try not to fear it. When you’re presented with a decision in a situation that arises suddenly, don’t let the fear of a wrong decision freeze you into making no decision at all. We often need to make mistakes to learn. How does one grow otherwise?

#8.Be thankful.
Obstacles are in no short supply. The same can be said for pain, suffering, poverty, cruelty, and ignorance. Life is a balance between order and chaos. Learn to be thankful for the positives, no matter what negatives there are. Have gratitude and be grateful. Every day, write down 5 things you are grateful for. They can be the most tiniest things. Today, I am grateful for being able to use 3 ply toilet paper, running water, fresh bed sheets etc….

BIO

Jess has been in business for six years and is about to open her first bricks and mortar store. She is passionate about supporting other people to take charge of their health and wellbeing and is genuine about the inclusiveness of her programs for all persons, no matter their health or ability. She has a presence in over 40 countries and is not stopping anytime soon!

Jess is genuine when she says “My aim is to support people on their journey towards achieving their personal goals of weight loss, increased confidence, self-esteem, improved health; all culminating in encouraging people to fully engage in their precious life to reach their highest potential.”

By Jess Arroyo – Weigh Less with Jess.

WEBSITE: WWW.LESSWITHJESS.COM.AU

FACEBOOK – WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LESSWITHJESS

INSTAGRAM – @WEIGHLESSWITHJESS

Empowering guest Blogger resilience